Excerpts 07/04/2006

Monster Manual IV
More Excerpts

By Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, Matthew Sernett, Eric Cagle, Andrew Finch, Christopher Lindsay, Kolja Raven Liquette, Chris Sims, Owen K.C. Stephens, Travis Stout, JD Wiker, Skip Williams

Your monster collection can expand by another tome with Monster Manual IV. Players will also find something for them if they take a peek at the Table of Contents that we provided a bit ago. As for you DMs out there, take a look at some of the creatures you'll find, and perhaps take one or two for a spin in your game to give them a try! The excerpts below include the black rock triskelion, the defacer, the dwarf ancestor, and the bluespawn godslayer (a spawn of Tiamat).

Black Rock Triskelion, an Avatar of Elemental Evil


The Princes of Elemental Evil -- Imix, Ogremoch, Olhydra, and Yan-C-Bin -- have long sought to extend their influence to the Material Plane. They believe that the deity known as the Elder Elemental Eye holds the key to their plan. The avatars of Elemental Evil, foremost among the princes' servants, are powerful forces of destruction that aid and serve the high priests of Elemental Evil.

The Elemental Princes believe that the Elder Elemental Eye is their forebear, a mighty being who can elevate them to godhood and herald their domination of the Material Plane. However, this deity is trapped in a strange void between the planes from which the princes seek to free it. Unknown to them, the Elder Elemental Eye is actually a front for the malevolent god Tharizdun.

Long ago, both good and evil deities allied against Tharizdun, who seeks the annihilation of all reality, and sealed the god in a mighty prison. The evergreedy Princes of Elemental Evil, too young to remember that ancient war, allowed their ambition to blind them to Tharizdun's deception. Should they succeed in freeing the Elder Elemental Eye, the resulting destruction would spell the end of all existence. The secretive cult of Tharizdun failed in its initial attempt to use the Elemental Princes to restore their dread lord, but the princes' ambition and avarice remain.

The avatars of Elemental Evil represent the princes' first steps in reestablishing their power. Since the destruction of the Temple of All-Consumption (see the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil adventure), the four princes have been actively spreading their foul progeny across the Material Plane. Luckily for the world, the princes rarely cooperate. Each competes against the others for the Elder Elemental Eye's favor. Their cults also quarrel with each other, and at times they resort to open warfare to achieve dominance in a region.

Followers of the Elder Elemental Eye worship one of its elemental aspects: air, earth, fire, or water. Clerics choose one elemental domain plus either Destruction or Evil. They wear ochre robes marked with the deity's symbol, modified according to the elemental aspect they worship. The cult appeals to people on the fringes of civilization, individuals who feel wronged by society, and those who seek vengeance against powerful enemies. Each of the four sects attracts a different variety of creatures.

Clerics who worship the Eye's air aspect wear whitetrimmed robes. They build temples in the highest mountain peaks, where screaming winds continually sweep through the rocks. The mightiest air clerics reside in castles that float among the clouds. Harpies, cloud giants, and renegade djinn inhabit these temples, as well as humanoids riding captive hippogriffs, griffons, and rocs.

Earth clerics wear amulets set with dozens of small gems, silver and gold beads, and other earthly treasures. Their robes are trimmed in yellow, and they delve temples deep within the earth. Greathorn minotaurs (see page 100) have a natural connection to these places, owing to their link with Ogremoch. They serve as guardians and, in some cases, priests of the Elder Elemental Eye. Evil dwarves, duergar, troglodytes, and grimlocks also flock to this temple's banner.

Clerics of the Eye's fire aspect wear robes with red trim and usually have continual flame cast upon amulets or bracelets. They have secret bases within volcanic tunnels and caves, but they are the most nomadic of all the Eye's agents. Fire priests journey to cities and drought-stricken areas to set fires that sweep over wide swaths of land. Fire giants, salamanders, azers, efreet, and similar creatures worship this aspect.

The water aspect attracts mariners and pirates to its cause. Water clerics wear robes with dark blue trim. Many of them carry small jugs filled with seawater for special ceremonies and blessings. Aboleths, sahuagin, and krakens worship the water aspect. Many evil sea druids, particularly those who seek to destroy seaside towns, also revere the Eye's water aspect.


The cult of the Elder Elemental Eye aims to destroy civilization and usher in a new age. The Elemental Princes foresee a world of pure chaos dominated by elemental forces. The earth will shudder and crack, swallowing cities whole. The seas will rise and smash into the land, dragging living creatures to a watery grave. Volcanoes will blast forth torrents of lava, consuming all in their path. The winds will howl with rage, sweeping away civilization and tearing it into dust. The cultists believe they alone will be saved because of their diligence, obedience, and faith.

Cults can operate behind innocent façades. For example, clerics of the Eye's earth aspect might infiltrate a mining operation under the pretext of uniting the miners into a union or guild. The rank-and-file members pay a few coins for dues each month; in return, the guild ensures safe working conditions. Skilled and ambitious guild members work their way up the ranks, with the most trustworthy initiated into the clergy. The clerics build a small temple deep within the mine, a protected base of operations near a city or town. This gives them a pool of unwitting minions who see adventurers who challenge the clerics as thugs sent to break up the guild. The clerics use divine healing to put the miners in their debt: A worker is unlikely to turn against the guildmaster who used remove disease to save a relative's life. As the guild grows more powerful, it is a useful shield against investigation and suspicion.


The Elder Elemental Eye commands its followers to seek out and claim sacred places throughout the world. The Elemental Princes believe the Eye uses these sites as conduits for its great power. By sanctifying and properly attuning such a location, the cult transforms it into an elemental node. When enough nodes are prepared, the energy flowing through them grows great enough to allow the Elder Elemental Eye to return to the world. Clerics of the Eye erect temples in and around the nodes and recruit beasts, outsiders, and elementals to guard them against intrusion.

Each node requires a specific, complex ritual to activate its powers. Such rituals can require months, if not years, of research to uncover. Once established, an elemental node usually contains strange edifices, artifacts, and landmarks. A fire node might consist of a sphere of crackling energy floating in the middle of a lava lake deep within a volcano. An air node could be a set of powerful winds that blow in a regular pattern high above the clouds, with a silver, latticelike structure floating amid them and a stone altar at the center. Regardless of their exact forms, these places are inimical to good creatures.


The avatars of Elemental Evil have only recently appeared. Each avatar is the living will of an Prince of Elemental Evil. It contains a tiny fragment of the corresponding prince's essence and exists solely to advance its creator's cause on the Material Plane. The avatars gather at important sites such as recently discovered elemental nodes or other places that might be key to returning the Eye to the world. Sometimes they serve as mighty engines of war for the clerics of the Elder Elemental Eye.

The simmering war between each faction of the Elder Elemental Eye's priests draws in the avatars as well. These creatures are just as likely to turn against each other as they are to ally against a powerful threat.


A living pillar of black rock towers over the ground before you. Its angular body is covered with spikes and sharp ridges. It unfurls three long arms, each ending in a long, vicious point: Two extend slightly forward, while the third sprouts from the center of its back to loom over its head. Three short, powerful legs support it like a tripod.

Black Rock Triskelion CR 18
Always NE Large elemental (earth, extraplanar)
Init -1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft.; Listen +13, Spot +13
Languages Terran

AC 30, touch 8, flat-footed 30
(-1 Dex, -1 size, +22 natural)
hp 377 (26 HD); fast healing 5; DR 10/adamantine and magic
Immune elemental immunities
Resist endure pain, stability (+8 against bull rush or trip); SR 23
Fort +27, Ref +9, Will +11
Weakness vulnerability to sonic

Speed 20 ft. (4 squares), burrow 20 ft.
Melee 3 piercing arms +30 each (2d6+11/19-20/x4)
Ranged 6 spikes +17 each (1d8+11/x3)
Atk Options Cleave, Great Cleave, Power Attack, magic strike, metal strike
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Base Atk +19; Grp +34

Abilities Str 33, Dex 8, Con 31, Int 5, Wis 12, Cha 8
SQ elemental traits
Feats Alertness, Cleave, Great Cleave, Great Fortitude, Improved Critical (piercing arm), Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (piercing arm)
Skills Climb +20, Listen +13, Spot +13
Advancement 27-40 HD (Large)

Endure Pain (Ex) Whenever a black rock triskelion fails a Reflex or Will saving throw against an effect that deals damage, it takes half damage if it succeeds on a Fortitude saving throw against the same DC. This additional saving throw affects only damage, not any other conditions that might apply from failing the original save.
Stability (Ex) A black rock triskelion is exceptionally stable on its feet. It gains a +8 bonus on ability checks made to resist being bull rushed or tripped when standing on the ground (but not when climbing, flying, riding or otherwise not standing firmly on the ground).
Metal Strike (Ex) A black rock triskelion's natural attacks are treated as adamantine, cold iron, and silver for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

A black rock triskelion is a powerful elemental creature spawned by Ogremoch, the Prince of Evil Earth Elementals. It smashes its enemies with three powerful arms that pierce armor and flesh like heavy picks.

Strategies and Tactics

Black rock triskelions operate under the close supervision of powerful earth clerics of the Elder Elemental Eye, warding off attacks to protect the clerics' spellcasting. A cult might leave a triskelion to guard a newfound earth node until it can be properly fortified. Triskelions form the front line against invaders or heretics.

The dimmest of the four elemental avatars, a black rock triskelion is a simple brute. It wades into its foes and lashes out with its three arms, exulting in the chaos and pain it causes. It can reduce lesser opponents to bleeding carcasses with a few strikes. If it finds an opponent easy to hit, it uses Power Attack to further increase its devastating damage. In some cases, an earth cleric rides a triskelion into battle. The cleric hammers a thick adamantine chain into the creature's upper body to hold onto while perched on one of its spikes. Triskelions accept no other riders.

Sample Encounters

Black rock triskelions defend the earth temples that Ogremoch bids them serve.

Guard (EL 18-21): Any temple led by a 12th-level or higher earth cleric of the Eye receives one triskelion as a guardian. Ogremoch might dispatch more to protect an elemental node or to assist the sect against a powerful air, fire, or water faction of the Elemental Eye.

EL 18: A lone triskelion stands watch over a hidden passage leading into an earth temple of the Eye. It hides beneath the surface, just past a magic trap that causes a wall of stone to block the passage 30 feet behind the party. When the trap activates, the triskelion emerges in front of the intruders and attacks.


Black rock triskelions are not natural beings but are sent to the defense of Ogremoch's temples and earth nodes. They do not reproduce; the Elemental Prince must create a new avatar at need. Once created, a triskelion serves its elemental masters until destroyed.

Environment: Black rock triskelions are native to the Elemental Plane of Earth but are usually found in subterranean locales, typically in an earth temple of the Elder Elemental Eye or an earth node.

Typical Physical Characteristics: A black rock triskelion stands 16 feet tall and weighs around 6,000 pounds. It resembles a great pillar of dark stone.

Alignment: As the creation of Ogremoch, a black rock triskelion is always neutral evil.

Typical Treasure

Black rock triskelions rarely have any treasure of their own. As guardians of earth temples, they turn valuables looted from enemies over to the priests of the Elder Elemental Eye.


Characters with ranks in Knowledge (the planes) can learn more about black rock triskelions. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (the Planes)

DC Result

18 This strange, rocky creature is obviously an elemental. This result reveals all elemental traits and the earth subtype.

28 This creature is a black rock triskelion, a servant of Ogremoch, Prince of Evil Earth Elementals. Its rocky body reduces damage from physical attacks.

33 A black rock triskelion's fearsome arms strike like heavy picks and can penetrate even adamantine to deal devastating damage.

38 Triskelions are incredibly durable and can resist spells and magical effects with their innate toughness rather than reflexes.

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