The release of the Fiendish Codex I has opened the gates to Hell -- or at least the endless layers of the Abyss! Demons have always been popular foes for adventurers at all levels, and this tome takes an in-depth look at classic demons as well as new abominations from this chaotic plane.
Over the course of the next few installments, we'll examine some of the old favorites that can be found in the Monster Manual, including ways they fight, tactics that can be used against them, and new lore that applies to finding out more information on these terrible beings.
This week, we turn our attention to the devious, manipulative, and powerful glabrezu.
Glabrezus rank second behind the succubus in terms of demons that tempt and corrupt mortals. Unlike the succubus, the glabrezu does not offer pleasures of the flesh but offers power, wealth, and respect undreamed of by even the most ambitious person. Strangely, glabrezus are unable to change their frightening appearance, so they visit mortals in secret. Glabrezus are most commonly summoned directly by a mortal who hopes to make some kind of bargain. Sometimes they find a potential victim on their own, presenting their 'gift' to this person whether or not they want it. In some cases, glabrezus never reveal themselves to a person, relying on their telepathy to speak directly in the victim's mind. They may be direct about their nature ("I am from the Abyss and can offer you great power") or make the person believe he is going insane ("They are all out to kill you, you know. Here's how we can stop them....
The "Impossible" Glabrezu
Elite Opponents ran its "Creatures That Cannot Be" article for April. One such creature was the vampiric glabrezu. Normally, undead and outsiders don't mix, but if you're looking for an odd challenge, you might consider this variant.
Despite their physical prowess, glabrezus prefer to work behind the scenes, both on the Material Plane and in the Abyss. They are rarely in charge but act as advisors, chief lieutenants, and spies for more powerful demons. Every glabrezu has an impressive list of grudges, secret agendas, and long-term schemes, some of which may take centuries or millennia to come to fruition. Characters that try to stop glabrezus may find themselves caught up in layers of lies, deceit, and intricate machinations.
Glabrezus as Corruptors
Despite their fearsome appearance and fighting prowess, glabrezus excel at corrupting mortals with offers of wealth and power. Their imposing stature radiates authority and control, and they use this image to sway mortals into accepting their gifts ... for a price. The corrupting effect of glabrezus can eventually turn hardened allies into dire enemies. Even the person that you are attempting to save could turn on you or be so brainwashed that they may not remember what's right and what's wrong. It's best to think of a glabrezu as a virulent plague, infecting and destroying everything that it comes in contact with in a quiet, insidious manner.
Glabrezus are tough. Even without their spell-like abilities, they have excellent hit points, armor class, and four limbs to dish out serious damage. Glabrezus prefer using their confusion ability followed up by chaos hammer or unholy blight to finish off the wounded. They use dispel magic with impunity, mopping up with other spell-like abilities or tearing apart with claws and talons. Don't overlook the glabrezu's ability to launch your characters high into the air with reverse gravity. Make sure everyone is capable of flying or has access to spells or magic items that can cast feather fall for that inevitable moment when the glabrezu teaches you gravity's harsh lesson.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (the planes) can learn more about glabrezus. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the lore from the lower DCs.
17 This reveals the HD, tanar'ri traits, and special qualities of the glabrezu.
22 Glabrezus are terrible demons that corrupt mortals with enticements of wealth and power.
27 Glabrezus prefer subterfuge and deceit over fighting, especially if they have little to gain from outright conflict.
32 Glabrezus are capable of granting a single wish to a mortal. If that wish is not used to cause incalculable suffering to something or someone, then the Glabrezu demands terrible evil or tremendous sacrifice in payment.
Like many other demons, glabrezus can teleport at will, meaning that little can be done to keep it in one spot for long. Dimensional anchor is a great way of keeping it from blinking about the battlefield or taking off altogether to harass you another day.
Glabrezus possess continual true seeing, meaning you're unlikely to fool it with magic disguises with upfront aggression. In order to avoid the horrific results of allowing a glabrezu to grapple you, make sure that your front-line characters have freedom of movement cast on them. Glabrezus save their power word stun for the most powerful opponent, sometimes combining this effect with their reverse gravity power to launch the helpless person into the air with little chance of recovery. Keep in mind that glabrezus never travel together, so if you see several at the same time, it is employing its mirror image ability.
Glabrezus are powerful enough among their kind that they have little compunction about summoning other demons to fight on their behalf if the going gets tough. Lesser demons think twice before doing so, because there will be some sort of payment involved later on. While not cowards in the least, glabrezus prefer letting their minions do the fighting for them whenever possible. See Part 1 of this series for tips on dealing with vrocks that show up when a glabrezu summons them.
The Glabrezu's Wish
The glabrezu's most powerful ability is to grant a mortal a single wish. While this cannot be done in combat except in the most unusual of circumstances, characters may have to deal with the aftermath of a glabrezu's "client" who wishes to them harm. If you're contending with a glabrezu, make sure you understand exactly what wish is capable of, and by no means be swayed by any tempting offers from the demon itself!
To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, Player's Handbook, Fiendish Codex 1.
About the Author
Eric Cagle cut his teeth at Wizards of the Coast, but now lives the extravagant freelancer lifestyle. Look for his name on D&D, d20 Modern, and Star Wars books. Recent credits include d20 Apocalypse, Races of Destiny, and Monster Manual III. He is also a contributor to the Game Mechanics, Green Ronin Publishing, Dragon Magazine, and this lovely website. Eric lives in Seattle where the coffee is dark and bitter like his goddesses.