Hag


Hags are malevolent witches presenting as old women with exaggerated features. Most are fey, though the night hags are fiends. They are known for making deals with desperate people, toying with their fates and feeding on their misery.

Types of hag[edit | edit source]

Isharnai resembles an annis hag in several ways but is never identified as such.

Description[edit | edit source]

Appearance[edit | edit source]

In their true forms, hags all appear like old crones, but the ways in which their features are exaggerated can vary dramatically based on the type of hag. More than one hag has been described as appearing like a large, hunched, gnarled humanoid with a crooked nose, pointed chin, and long, twisted fingers.[8][9]

One sea fury has aqua green skin and a bulbous, unnaturally proportioned form with long vicious claws. Her long dark hair often falls across much of her face, which has no nose and a mouth full of protruding angler fish-like teeth.[10] Glaring from behind her hair are two yellow eyes, one half-closed and one wide open. [11]

Hags sometimes disguise themselves with illusions to appear like beautiful women, like a water nymph[12] or an elf.[13] The Hag Mother can appear like any female humanoid, and she often travels in such a disguise.[14]

Abilities[edit | edit source]

The magic of different kinds of hags tends to share themes: it is based on bargains, curses, sacrifice, and rituals involving grotesque material components.

Despite appearing in some ways like decrepit women, hags sometimes demonstrate incredible physical strength and unnerving speed.[15][16]

Society[edit | edit source]

Hags often live near the edges of society, so that people may come to them (with some effort) to bargain for knowledge and magical intervention. For these hags, the willingness of the bargainer is key.[17] Others travel from place to place and make such bargains along the way.[18][14]

Because they often deal in such bargains, hags are specifically noted for traveling to the City of Dis in the Nine Hells to do business.[19]

Hags sometimes form covens to channel their combined power against powerful threats, but when the danger has passed, they tend to turn on each other, stealing each other's magical power when they kill each other. In the case of sea hags, this can result in a powerful but desperately lonely hag called a sea fury.[7] One threatening coven in a dark part of the Lotusden Greenwood is led by a powerful night hag.[20]

History[edit | edit source]

Age of Arcanum[edit | edit source]

The Hag Mother arrived in Exandria just after the Founding. Her original coven exiled her and bound her to Exandria with a curse because of her weakness for humanoids in jeopardy. She has wandered the world ever since.[14]

Post-Divergence[edit | edit source]

Trysta and her sister Forscythia are falsely believed to be "hag-like entities", whose mythic stories are told throughout Emon. In truth, they are a pair of elven scholars who long ago stumbled upon the Ruins of Salar within the Crystalfen Caverns. The magic within the ruins twisted their minds and bodies and extended their lives. They have since become obsessed with these ruins. As of 812 PP (and still in 836 PD), Trysta remained below in the caverns to study, while Forscythia traveled back and forth from Emon, trading her fortunetelling skills for goods and gold.[18][21]

Campaign 1: Vox Machina[edit | edit source]

Official art of Trysta, by Wendy Sullivan Green.[art 1]

On their first visit to Emon, several members of Vox Machina fell into a trap that swept them into the Crystalfen Caverns. Grog, Tiberius, Vex, Percy, and Keyleth slipped into a subterranean river system that dumped them onto an island in the middle of Crystalfen Lake. They discovered the hag Trysta living in a hut among the remnants of an ancient town. Tiberius noticed that she had one of the artifacts he was searching for: the Mending Wheel. He traded her a portion of his luck in exchange for the item. The party asked Trysta how to get back to the surface, and she promised to tell them if they got rid of an umber hulk that had recently moved into the area. They agreed, and climbed to the top of the cavern to slay the creature, although Grog nearly died in the process. After they returned to Trysta, she showed them a hidden staircase that led up into the Graveyard District of Emon.[22]

Trysta's sister, Forscythia, also offered some assistance to Tiberius in his quest for magical artifacts. At some point she had told him the location of the Boros Ring, but she refused to give him further help until he had found that item.[23] In "Trial of the Take: Part 3" (1x20) she sold two greater healing potions and a potion of caustic liquid to Tiberius. When Vax'ildan asked to trade for a vial of potent poison, she did not ask for monetary payment, but rather an unspecified favor, to be claimed "down the road".[24] When Vax'ildan's soul later was offered to the Raven Queen, the goddess of fate, Forscythia wrote off the idea of calling in that favor.[25]

During Vox Machina's time in the Feywild, they avoided the hut of Wodenna, falsely believing her to be a hag.[26]

Campaign 2: The Mighty Nein[edit | edit source]

Hags played key roles in the origin stories of at least two members of the Mighty Nein. Isharnai, the Prism Sage, made the bargain with Thoreau Lionett, that made him financially successful and yet miserable, foretelling his relationship with his daughter (and causing him to name her Beau). Later, Isharnai was responsible for Veth Brenatto becoming a goblin, leading to her adventuring life as a rogue.

In their earliest adventures together, the Mighty Nein chased a monster to Crooked Stone, an island in the Ustaloch, but the boatman warned them that no one ever goes there because of the witch who lived there a century earlier[27] and who is rumored to occasionally return to a hovel on the island; she is actually a night hag.[28]

In "The Diver's Grave" (2x44), the Nein investigated a sea fury's lair in search of the Cloven Crystal that had been aboard the Tide's Breath when it sank. This sea fury, Dashilla, was responsible for some powerful storms in the area, causing enough shipwrecks that the area is known as the Diver's Grave; indeed, there had been a storm raging when the Tide's Breath was sabatoged, which led to Fjord making a pact with Uk'otoa. The Nein had heard of this infamous "Dashilla the Dreadful" in a sea shanty. They did find and take the Crystal, but had to fight with Dashilla, who fled when things looked grim for her.

In Arc 5: Family Ties, the Nein discovered that Isharnai still had a curse preventing Nott from transforming back into a halfling. They confirmed that the same hag had made the bargain with Beauregard's father. They scried on the hag, then trekked to her hut at the base of Mount Mentiri in the Cyrios Mountains. After several members of the party explored the possibility of dark deals with her (or veered close to starting combat), Jester Lavorre magically influenced Isharnai to break the curse without a deal or showdown, and the party fled before Isharnai could figure out what was awry. Later, Jester sent cupcakes to Isharnai and remotely asked Isharnai if she enjoyed them, to which Isharnai responded in such a way as to indicate she had figured out what happened.

Matthew Mercer imagined Isharnai and Jester will cross paths again.[29]

Notable hags[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Monster Manual, 5th edition, pp. 177–179.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Volo's Guide to Monsters, p. 159.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 7: "Wildemount Bestiary", p. 299.
  4. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 145.
  5. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 92. See also p. 140
  6. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 70.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 7: "Wildemount Bestiary", p. 298.
  8. "Trial of the Take: Part 3" (1x20) from 17:48 through 18:13.
  9. "Misery Loves Company" (2x93) at 2:53:40. Also see 3:52:17.
  10. "The Diver's Grave" (2x44) at 2:45:08.
  11. "The Diver's Grave" (2x44) at 2:35:44.
  12. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, pp. 42–43.
  13. "Trial of the Take: Part 3" (1x20) at 16:28.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 1: "Story of Wildemount", p. 32.
  15. "The Diver's Grave" (2x44) at 2:57:10.
  16. "Home is Where the Heart Is" (2x92) at 1:12:35. See also "Misery Loves Company" (2x93) at 2:56:35.
  17. "Misery Loves Company" (2x93) at 3:16:08.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 86.
  19. "Voice of the Tempest" (1x90) at 2:05:56.
  20. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 140.
  21. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 3: "Tal'Dorei Gazetteer", p. 141.
  22. "The Story of Vox Machina" (Mx04) from 8:00 through 9:15.
  23. "Trial of the Take: Part 3" (1x20) from 18:38 through 19:36.
  24. "Trial of the Take: Part 3" (1x20) from 24:25 through 25:15.
  25. "Talks Machina Special #3: Critical Role Campaign 1 Wrap-up" (TMSx03) at 3:07:44.
  26. "The Echo Tree" (1x63) at 3:56:00.
  27. "The Midnight Chase" (2x03) at 2:10:20.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 92.
  29. "Critical Role Campaign 2 Wrap-Up" (Mx10) at 2:50:17.
  30. "Reunion & Revelation" (3x30) at 3:20:09.
  31. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 156.

Art:

  1. Official art of Trysta, by Wendy Sullivan Green (source). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.