Excerpts 07/04/2006


Monster Manual IV
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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).

DWARF ANCESTOR

A great statue come to life blocks the way threateningly. It looks like a dwarf warrior clad in splint mail, all formed of dark granite. It raises an enormous axe and challenges you in a gravelly voice.

Dwarf Ancestor CR 6
Always LG Large outsider (native)
Init -1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +9, Spot +9
Aura ancestral spirit (30 ft.)
Languages Dwarven
AC 26, touch 8, flat-footed 26
(-1 size, -1 Dex, +18 natural)
hp 67 (5 HD); DR 10/adamantine
Fort +13, Ref +3, Will +5
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares)
Melee +1 greataxe +11 (1d12+10/x3)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Base Atk +5; Grp +15
Atk Options Cleave, Power Attack
Abilities Str 22, Dex 8, Con 28, Int 8, Wis 13, Cha 14
SQ blink out
Feats Cleave, Power Attack
Skills Climb +14, Intimidate +10, Jump -4, Knowledge (history) +7, Knowledge (the planes) +7, Listen +9, Spot +9, Survival +1 (+3 on other planes)
Advancement 6-18 HD (Large); see text
Possessions +1 greataxe
Ancestral Spirit (Su) Any dwarf within 30 feet of a dwarf ancestor gains a +1 morale bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls.
Blink Out (Su) Once per day, a dwarf ancestor can become incorporeal until the beginning of its next turn. Activating this ability is a free action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

A dwarf ancestor is the spirit of an ancient dwarf hero brought back from the afterlife to serve by the will and prayers of a dwarf cleric. It comes to those who plead to Moradin the Soul Forger for aid. When first summoned, a dwarf ancestor takes up residence within a statue of a dwarf hero, animating it. As a result, many mistake the stony creatures for constructs on first encountering them.

STRATEGIES AND TACTICS

A dwarf ancestor is called to aid its people in times of crisis. It defends dwarven halls with grim determination, and it does not retreat or give quarter. It fights until destroyed or until those dwarves it is protecting are safe.

Although of lawful good alignment, the ancestor does not distinguish between enemies on the basis of their moral philosophies. If its descendants are in danger, it attacks all who threaten them. It is not unintelligent, though, and the possessing spirit was usually a warrior in a previous life. It focuses on the most dangerous-looking combatant first and exploits its Power Attack to maximize damage (taking its opponent's armor into consideration) to defeat it quickly, turning on the next with a Cleave attack whenever possible. Despite its impressive damage reduction, it has no special protection against spells, so it targets obvious spellcasters as quickly as possible.

It is unusual to encounter more than one or two dwarf ancestors, although in times of war the priests of Moradin might call for additional assistance. Usually an ancestor provides a bulwark in melee for a group of dwarf soldiers.

SAMPLE ENCOUNTERS

Dwarf ancestors are most often guardians that defend their charges with unflagging zeal.

Guardians (EL 6): A single dwarf ancestor is called to protect a sacred site, such as the tomb of a champion or a temple to Moradin.

EL 6: Ulfgar Silverhand was a dwarven defender who was killed protecting his king from a squad of orc raiders. Now he watches over the king's tomb as an ancestral spirit. Two dwarf crossbow archers also guard the site, allowing the ancestor to engage foes in melee while they attack from range.

Corrupted Guardians (EL 8): Dwarf ancestors were corrupted by duergar invaders. The ancestor spirits now guard the evil duergar as if they were the original dwarves.

EL 8: Duergar made an unholy pact with a group of mind flayers, trading slaves in return for the mind flayers' aid in capturing Fellhammer shrine with little bloodshed. Once the dwarves guarding the shrine were captured, the duergar entered the structure and bound the ancestral spirits to their own purposes. Two corrupted dwarf ancestors and four duergar warriors guard the shrine.

ECOLOGY

Dwarf ancestors appear only when they are called to defend. They are the spirits of heroes long dead, returned to the Material Plane in times of need. They have no need of food, drink, sleep, or air. An ancestor might stand for centuries to guard a holy place, but most often it comes for a specific battle and is released afterward. Dwarves are loath to imprison such valiant souls, preferring to send them back to Moradin's halls as soon as possible.

The bond between dwarf ancestor and its statue host cannot be severed by any means except slaying the creature or banishing it back to Moradin's halls (although the statue remains behind, inert, in the latter case).

Corrupted Ancestors: Dwarf ancestors sometimes fall into the hands of duergar. These unfortunate souls are usually corrupted by the duergar (whom the ancestors see only as dwarves) and turned against their true nature. In lands where dwarf strongholds have fallen to duergar attack, some deranged ancestors patrol ancient corridors, looking to assuage their pain in the blood of living creatures. Environment: Dwarf ancestors are nearly always found in underground complexes, forming the last line of defense for a community. Royal halls, ancestral homes, and temples are some of the places most likely to be guarded by a dwarf ancestor, although some dwarf priests can summon these champions of Moradin into other battles for a short time.

Typical Physical Characteristics: A typical dwarf ancestor enters a statue 12 feet tall. The statue is carved from the native rock, often granite, and (depending on the kind of stone) weighs 3,000 to 4,000 pounds. The summoned spirit can be that of anything from a relatively low-level fighter to a great champion. The outward appearance of the statue gives no hint as to the strength of the outsider within. Although the example given here is armed with a greataxe, a dwarf ancestor can wield whatever weapon the statue bears (usually a dwarven waraxe, maul, or greatclub).

Alignment: Dwarf ancestors are always lawful good. They are the spirits of those who fought selflessly for their people, and they are the implacable enemies of all that threaten the dwarf clans. Corrupted ancestors, however, are usually lawful evil.

SOCIETY

Dwarf ancestors answer the call of Moradin's beleaguered faithful, because they were heroes who protect those in need. Many were themselves killed in battle and welcome the opportunity to fight once more against their people's enemies. Their stony bodies suffer no pain, and they can fight to utter destruction without fear, since they return to Moradin's hall at the end of the battle.

Dwarf warriors are fierce and fearless, but these reconstituted champions fight with a ruthlessness and lust for battle that is awe-inspiring. They have nothing to lose, and their cause is the most noble. They shout and sing in their grinding, booming voices as their weapons whirl.

SAMPLE LAIR: CORRUPTED TEMPLE OF MORADIN

A once-proud dwarf temple has been occupied by a foul group of duergar. The place is still protected by a pair of dwarf ancestors summoned centuries ago, and they now follow the will of the duergar.

1. Hall of Worship: This area is where ceremonies dedicated to Moradin took place. Four statues of dwarf heroes stand watch over the temple area (none of them contain ancestors). Two more inanimate statues flank the altar.

2. The Great Forge (EL 4): This chamber was for forging and blessing magic weapons. Only the priests, temple smith, and weapon creators entered this sacred place when dwarves dwelt here, but now duergar come and go as they please, using the forge as they see fit. A hallow spell is centered on the forge. Four duergar warriors work the forge.

Duergar Warriors (4): hp 9 each; MM 91.

3. Corrupted Dwarf Ancestors (EL 8): Two great statues of Moradin stand in these locations, each desecrated with blood and offal, and greatly damaged by the strokes of hammers and picks. The two statues contain dwarf ancestors, set to guard the inner sanctum but now corrupted by the duergar. When any nonduergar attempts to pass through the doors leading west, they move to attack.

Dwarf Ancestors (2): hp 67 each; see above.

4. Clerics' Cells: These austere sleeping quarters contain ruined cots.

5. High Priest's Quarters: This larger chamber housed the temple's high priest. It is more comfortably appointed than the other cells, though its furnishings have decayed over the years. An unlocked chest contains ceremonial robes and a scroll of heal.

6. Library (EL 5): The temple's religious and secular texts are still on the shelves, but time and damp have made them nearly unreadable. Of greater interest is a trove of engraved stone tablets that contain liturgical lore. Six duergar warriors guard this room.

Duergar Warriors (6): hp 9 each; MM 91.

DWARF ANCESTOR LORE

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (local), Knowledge (religion), or Knowledge (the planes) can learn more about dwarf ancestors. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (Local)

DC Result

16 Dwarves revere their ancestral heroes and sometimes call them into battle.

21 Legend holds that these heroes dwell with Moradin the Soul Forger until called by their living ancestors.

Knowledge (Religion)

DC Result

10 Moradin is a lawful good dwarven deity and the creator of his people.

16 Moradin sometimes answers prayers for help by sending an emissary.

21 A dwarf ancestor is the spirit of a dwarf hero called to aid and defend its people.

Knowledge (the Planes)

DC Result

16 This creature is a dwarf ancestor, the spirit of a dwarf hero. This result reveals all outsider traits.

21 Priests of Moradin call on dwarf ancestors to defend their people in times of crisis.

26 Dwarf ancestors are extremely resistant to damage.

31 The summoned spirit can range greatly in power -- some spirits are the souls of simple warriors who served honorably in their day, and some are the souls of epic heroes. Discovering the strength of the spirit requires entering combat with the ancestor.

TYPICAL TREASURE

A dwarf ancestor, being a spirit called into this world, possesses no treasure. A slain spirit does not leave behind its weapon, which is destroyed along with the statue that houses the ancestor. When ancestors are encountered with a warband or company of dwarves, the group yields treasure (largely in the form of equipment) commensurate with its Encounter Level. If the PCs dare to plunder a temple of Moradin, they can recover the offerings made to summon an ancestor (if the money has not already been used).

ADVANCED DWARF ANCESTORS

Although the size and appearance of the statue does not change, the spirit within might be that of a very powerful warrior. A dwarf ancestor can have up to 18 Hit Dice (the maximum allowed by the greater planar ally spell) but is still Large size. More powerful champions are avatars of Moradin and require epic-level magic to call upon. These spirits are housed in Huge statues; such sculptures exist only in the greatest centers of Moradin's worship. Legend holds that Moradin himself once appeared in the form of an ancestor, but no magic would summon a god. Only the imminent destruction of his people might bring the Soul Forger to fight in person.

FOR PLAYER CHARACTERS

A cleric of Moradin can summon a dwarf ancestor using summon monster V or a higher-level summon monster spell or can call on a dwarf ancestor for longer periods of service with a planar ally spell. The basic version of the creature can be called using lesser planar ally, but advanced ancestors require higher-level versions of the spell.

A summoner must still pay the price required for the ancestor's service. However, because it is called in defense of Moradin's children, the gp cost equivalent is one-half normal. Typically this offering is used to craft superior or magical battle gear for the settlement's defenses. The cleric might instead perform a service for the settlement, such as raising dead combatants at no charge or embarking on a perilous quest.

DWARF ANCESTORS IN EBERRON

The dwarf clans of the Mror Holds are the undisputed masters of finance in Eberron, and the massive vaults beneath Korunda Gate are filled with incalculable wealth in both precious metals and magical artifacts. Dwarf ancestors, themselves often the spirits of long-dead leaders of House Kundarak, stand guard over these riches. Defending the wealth of clients (and of the house) is as vital to these mercantile dwarves as protecting their people in war. However, no one spirit is required to spend more than two centuries performing this duty. Lesser vaults in other centers of House Kundarak might also have ancestor spirits watching over them.

Spirits for such duty are sent by Kol Korran, the Lord of World and Wealth, rather than by Moradin, and they demand the normal price for their service. Those who answer the call to defend their people are summoned through prayers to Dol Dorn and require only one-half normal payment.

DWARF ANCESTORS IN FAERÛN

Although any dwarf community might call on ancestors for aid, the most famed statues of dwarf heroes are found in Mithral Hall. This great city of the shield dwarves in the Silver Marches was reclaimed from the dragon Shimmergloom only a few short decades earlier, and many warriors fell at the side of their champion, Bruenor Battlehammer. King Bruenor is now dedicated to restoring the city's ancient glory and to removing the threat from the Underdark for good. Many spirits of fallen champions now inhabit the statues of Mithral Hall, and they accompany war parties into the Underdark or stand guard over the mithral miners who have once again ventured into the haunted tunnels.

In addition to Moradin, the dwarven deities Berronar Truesilver, Clangeddin Silverbeard, and Gorm Gulthyn sometimes send ancestor spirits in response to prayer. These gods share the portfolios of defending the dwarf community and are receptive to requests for aid.

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