A journey into the Abyss is a dangerous place for adventurers to travel. An outer plane filled with demons and horrible fiends, a trip here is one that many will not return from.
Demon lords and their evil goals are one thing, but most creatures that roam the lands of the abyss seek nothing but to destroy and conquer the souls of others.
Among many other threats, molydeus can turn creatures into manes, nabassu can create ghouls with their soul stealing stare, and rutterkin can turn creatures into abyssal wretches.
If you’re not careful, this demonic humanoid form could be your fate when you step into the Abyss.
Medium fiend (demon), chaotic evil
Hit Points 18 (4d8)
Damage Resistances: cold, fire, lightning
Damage Immunities: poison
Condition Immunities: charmed, frightened, poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 0
Languages understands Abyssal but can’t speak
Challenge Rating ¼ ( 50 XP)
Bite Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8 + 1) slashing damage.
What is a Abyssal Wretch?
An abyssal wretch is a creature that has been affected by the poisonous bite of a rutterkin.
One of the many ways for an adventure to meet their final fate is being reduced to 0 HP by the warping plague that is the rutterkin. Another is to be affected by the warp creature ability of a sibriex.
When a rutterkin bites a creature, that creature has to make a DC 13 constitution saving throw or become poisoned in a rather interesting way. Instead of a damaging poison, this rutterkin poison will turn a creature into an abyssal wretch if they are reduced to 0 hit points while poisoned.
If a sibriex uses their warp creature ability, the creature must also make a constitution saving throw, although the DC is set significantly higher at 20. Instead of being reduced to 0 while poisoned, a creature must continue to make saves.
On a failed save they are poisoned and suffer a level of exhaustion. Once they have reached six levels of exhaustion in this way, the creature is turned into an abyssal wretch.
Once affected by a rutterkin, you can make a save every time you take a long rest to relieve yourself of the poisoned effect. If you are affected by a sibriex, you must make three successful saves to end the effect, or succeed in your first save to be immune from that sibriex’s poison.
Either way, this transformation is incredibly painful, as the creature’s body becomes warped and disfigured. A wretch’s appearance will only slightly resemble their original form.
Humanoid limbs will twist, elongate, or shorten. Their skin often develops huge boils, or large portions of it may fall off. Mouths, eyes, claws, and any number of features may grow in places that they shouldn’t.
Similar to teratoma tumors, just about any tissue type (bone, teeth, hair, and even organs) can grow uncontrollably across the body.
The entire process and end result is incredibly grotesque. It’s no wonder these poor souls are called wretches.
The sibriex has a variant effect that can occur each time a creature fails a saving throw. This effect is called flesh warping, and includes a table that you can use for the appearance of an abyssal wretch that you wish to include your game.
|01-05||The color of the target’s hair, eyes, and skin becomes blue, red, yellow, or patterned.|
|06-10||The target’s eyes push out of its head at the end of stalks.|
|11-15||The target’s hands grow claws, which can be used as daggers.|
|16-20||One of the target’s legs grows longer than the other, reducing its walking speed by 10 feet.|
|21-25||The target’s eyes become beacons, filling a 15-foot cone with dim light when they are open.|
|26-30||A pair of wings, either feathered or leathery, sprout from the target’s back, granting it a flying speed of 30 feet.|
|31-35||The target’s ears tear free from its head and scurry away; the target is deafened.|
|36-40||Two of the target’s teeth turn into tusks.|
|41-45||The target’s skin becomes scabby, granting it a +1 bonus to AC but reducing its Charisma by 2 (to a minimum of 1).|
|46-50||The target’s arms and legs switch places, preventing the target from moving unless it crawls.|
|51-55||The target’s arms become tentacles with fingers on the ends, increasing its reach by 5 feet.|
|56-60||The target’s legs grow incredibly long and springy, increasing its walking speed by 10 feet.|
|61-65||The target grows a whiplike tail, which it can use as a whip.|
|66-70||The target’s eyes turn black, and it gains darkvision out to a range of 120 feet.|
|71-75||The target swells, tripling its weight.|
|76-80||The target becomes thin and skeletal, halving its weight. 81–85 The target’s head doubles in size.|
|81-85||The target’s head doubles in size.|
|86-90||The target’s ears become wings, giving it a flying speed of 5 feet.|
|91-95||The target’s body becomes unusually brittle, causing the target to have vulnerability to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.|
|96-00||The target grows another head, causing it to have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, frightened, or stunned|
Adventurer’s Guide to Abyssal Wretches
If you come across an abyssal wretch, you should be very concerned. Where there’s one, there are likely many more.
They definitely won’t be traveling alone, and it’s a pretty sure thing that they’re roaming in the company of one of the demons that turned them.
Abyssal wrenches are demon fodder that your DM will throw in to make a combat more challenging. With an overwhelming presence, it can seem like a good idea to take them down first, keeping you safe while you take down the larger threats.
This would be a very bad idea. If you’re in the presence of a rutterkin or sibriex, kill it. Kill it before it kills you. If you’re unfortunate enough to be affected by the poison of either of these demons you’ll soon be another wretch in the horde.
A group of melee combatants will likely be quickly overwhelmed, so make sure your party has or hires a caster or some other ranged character to take down the creatures from afar and thin the herd.
AOE effects will be key to this encounter, but you’re not going to get through this with a well placed fireball.
Fire, cold, and lightning resistance is not only part of the wretch’s arsenal. Many other demonic creatures will have these, along with poison immunity. A paladin or cleric with some spells or features that specifically target fiends will make your life a hell of a lot easier.
DMs Corner: Abyssal Wretch Tactics
On their own, abyssal wretches are nothing to be concerned with. Their low AC, ability scores, hit points, and attack damage all make them a very small threat to a party of adventurers.
If you choose to use some of the variant features from the sibriex’s flesh warping table, you might see that CR boost up to ½ or even 1, giving you some fun demonic amalgamations.
Typically, the main threat of these demons is that they won’t be traveling alone. Likely, they’ll be traveling alongside a horde of rutterkin, roaming the wastelands of the abyss in search for some poor unsuspecting humanoids.
While Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes doesn’t give a strict definition for a horde, I tend to picture something like ten or more creatures. Depending on how this combat is balanced, you could have anything from an easy to deadly encounter for adventurers of any level.
A reasonable encounter should include something like half the amount of rutterkins as you have abyssal wretches. This shows that the rutterkins have turned a good amount of humanoids to their side and continue to roam in search of more.
You could even have two or three rutterkins with what is very clearly a recently turned party of adventurers. Their clothes and armor could be torn or shattered and they still might even have some loot.
Since a wish can revert an abyssal wretch to their prior form, it’s a fun idea to send your adventurers on a mission to save someone who ends up being already turned.
A simple quest could have them fighting off a horde, capturing their target, and then either casting wish themselves or bringing them somewhere that they can be saved.