Consider the meenlock, a creature of pure terror described in Volo's Guide to Monsters (page 170). As GM I am going to have my players meet these creatures in our next session. They have been stalking the field, kidnapping the villagers and turning them into more meenlocks. However, I have found what appears to be an inconsistency between his statistics and the prose that describes his behavior.
They "reproduce" by telepathically tormenting an incapacitated victim.
Up to four meenlocks can telepathically torment an incapacitated creature … If the creature is susceptible (not immune to fear) and remains incapacitated for 1 hour, the creature must cast a Wisdom saving throw, receiving 10 (3d6 ) of psychic damage in a failed save, or half damage in a successful one … The process can be repeated. A humanoid that falls to 0 hit points as a result of this damage instantly transforms into a meenlock.
Meenlocks has two strategies for this according to Volo. One strategy is "out of their tunnels to torment sleeping prey." This is not the strategy I have questions about, as a sleeping creature is generally in full health. His other strategy raises some questions.
Meenlocks likes to paralyze creatures with his claws, drag them back to their hidden lair, knock them unconscious, and telepathically torture them for a period of hours.
To beat someone unconscious requires dropping them to zero hit points. His paralysis only lasts for a minute, so unconsciousness is the only reliable way that a mental block can keep someone incapacitated for a full hour. So meenlocks would frequently torment creatures already at 0 HP.
But here we have a problem. Telepathic Torment is guaranteed to cause at least 1 point of damage (unless it is resistant to psychic damage, in which case it has a 0.5% chance of avoiding damage if the pass is passed). But since the target is already at 0 HP, it will invariably take damage and be left at 0 HP by telepathic torment (if not killed directly), meaning that this telepathic torment will invariably take only an hour, regardless of saving throws or damage rollsOr so it seems. This is in contradiction to Volo's description that this torment lasts for several hours. It also means that a captured creature has no ability to resist this effect despite offering a saving cast of Wisdom.
An alternative interpretation is that it is not possible & # 39; to drop to 0 hit points & # 39; when it is already at 0 hit points. This seems to be how death room It is interpreted. However, if we take this interpretation, it becomes impossible for meenlocks to carry out their strategy of hitting someone unconscious and then tormenting them. Meenlocks would have to wait for the target to recover hit points before they can successfully torment them, but if the target recovers hit points they are no longer incapacitated, so they cannot be tormented.
What happens when meenlocks use their telepathic torment on a victim they have hit unconscious?
Does the damage inflicted on the unconscious victim invariably make them a meenlock after the first hour? In this case, Volo made an error when he wrote that the process takes "a period of hours". It also means that the rules for damage and saving throws for telepathic torment are only useful when meenlocks target a sleeping, healthy victim. From my own reading of the rules, this seems to be the most appropriate interpretation. I would have liked the process to be longer, for the sake of dramatic tension and possibilities of resistance and rescue, but I can do it.
Can't Telepathic Torment transform a creature that already has 0 hit points? While a strict written rules argument could be made for this, I think this interpretation is directly contrary to how meenlocks should work.
Is it some other result? Maybe I missed something. Perhaps there is a plausible and consistent way for meenlocks to hit an unconscious creature and have to spend several hours (rather than just one) tormenting them before the transformation occurs. But without homeworking the mechanics of telepathic torment, I can't see how that could happen.