• Let's Read the 4e Monster Manual/Vault: Hezrou

    Illustration Copyright 2008 Wizards of the Coast.

    This is part of a series! Go here to see the other entries.

    Hezrou a relative rarity among demons in that they like to serve. Whether their master is a stronger demon or a mortal summoner, they will happily obey orders as long as they’re given opportunities to kill things.

    Hezrou are Large Elemental Humanoids (demons). Their muscular frames are all hunched over, they have the heads of toads, and their skins are eternally covered in putrescent slime. In fact, judging from the illustration in the books the very flesh of the hezrou is eternally rotting, exposing bone in places, even though they’re not undead.

    Hezrou exist in both books. We’ll take a look at them separately.

    Hezrou (Monster Manual)

    Monster Manual Hezrou are Level 22 Brutes with 225 HP, darkvision, and variable resistance 20 that can be switched twice per encounter. Their noxious stench manifests as an Aura 2 that gives all enemies inside it a -2 penalty to attacks. If the demon is bloodied, enemies in the aura are also weakened (ruptured internal pus pockets!). They run with Speed 6.

    Their basic attack is a Reach 2 slam, but they also have a slightly less damaging Reach 2 bite and the ability to use both as a standard action, which brings their damage in line with the expected for their level like we’ve seen with other multi-attacking regular brutes. These demons also ignore difficult terrain, seeming to phase through it despite being otherwise solid.

    They’re trained in Stealth and quite agile, so they could end up being quite sneaky… if you can’t smell them coming first.

    The proposed encounter is level 22, two hezrou, a deathpriest hierophant, and 5 abyssal ghoul myrmidons. Servants of Orcus, basicaly, with the hierophant calling the shots.

    Hezrou (Monster Vault)

    The MV Hezrou shares many of the traits of its MM cousin, with a few important differences. It’s slightly tougher at 254 HP, and a lot stinkier. Its stench does 10 poison damage to enemies caught in the area instead of merely inflicting a penalty, and this rises to 20 damage when the thing is bloodied.

    Its basic attack is still a slam, which is entirely responsible for its baseline damage now. The bite is still there as a Recharge 4-6 attack that does about 50% more damage than the slam.

    The MV Hezrou also loses its Stealth training.

    Final Impressions

    Hezrou might not be the most badass demons around, but they sure have a lot of character. “Stinky toad demon who is happy with its lot in life as a goon” is enough to make it memorable in a whole plane of creatures that smoulder with generic rage.

  • Let's Read the 4e Monster Manual/Vault: Goristro

    Illustration Copyright 2008 Wizards of the Coast.

    This is part of a series! Go here to see the other entries.

    A Goristro is basically a bigger, furrier, and spikier version of the Bull Demon from classic Doom. They’re described in the Monster Manual as “living siege engines”, and as Baphomet’s favorite demon type. They’re not on the Monster Vault.

    Goristros are Huge Elemental Humanoids (demons), which means they have huge guts. “Humanoid” is even kinda applicable if you ignore the digitigrade legs ending in hooves. They have darkvision and variable resistance 20 switchable two times per encounter. With Int 6, they behave pretty much in the stereotypical demon fashion, being all about charging things until they’re paste.

    A typical Goristro is a Level 19 Elite Brute with 450 HP. Its basic attack is a Reach 3 Slam, of which it can make two per standard action. Its Goring Charges do increased damage when compared to the basic slam, also pushing the target and knocking them prone on a hit.

    It other powers are immediate reactions. Goristro Stomp triggers whenever a non-adjacent enemy moves adjacent to the demon and recharges on a 4-6. The name at first made me think it was an area effect shockwave, but it’s actually a single-target attack that does about 1.5 times as much damage as a basic slam!

    When bloodied, the demon gains access to Raging Frenzy, its other reaction power. Whenever someone attacks it in melee, it makes a basic attack against that enemy.

    So goristros charge anything they want to destroy, and keep distributing slams and stomps while ignoring their own safety. Since they want to destroy everything and everyone, they’re never not charging and slamming. Rip and tear!

    The sample encounter is level 18 and has one goristro, two savage minotaurs and 3 abyssal ghouls. The ghouls are kind of Orcus’ thing, but the presence of the minotaurs as the possible summoners would indicate this is a Baphomet operation.

    Final Impressions

    A goristro is a demon’s demon, which is to say it’s a near-mindless rage machine. By themselves they’re kinda boring. You should place them alongside whoemever summoned them, or alongside more interesting demons if the party is taking the fight to the Abyss for some reason.

  • Let's Read the 4e Monster Manual/Vault: Glabrezu

    Illustration Copyright 2008 Wizards of the Coast.

    This is part of a series! Go here to see the other entries.

    Fourth Edition demons are not at all fond of subtlety or complicated schemes, but that doesn’t mean they’re stupid. I mean, it very often does, but not always. Take the glabrezu, for example: it has Int 24, making it by far the smartest demon we’ve yet seen. It’s present only on the Monster Manual.

    Glabrezus are Huge Elemental Humanoids (demons), which might be yet another example of mistyping because they’re less humanoid than evistros, and those are magical beasts. They have digitigrade chicken legs, fanged goat heads with no lips, hides that menace with spikes, and four arms: two humanoid and human-sized ones growing out of their ribs, and two huge crab claws growing out of the usual shoulder positions.

    These physical features make it seem like they’d be pretty powerful physical combatants, and well, they are. But they’re also some of demonkind’s premier spellcasters. Their combat tactics aren’t what you’re expect of a wizard, since they charge right into the fray instead of staying behind a line of guards.

    Being smarter than the average demon, a glabrezu is partial to slightly more complex strategies for spreading chaos and destruction. The book says it sows discord among its own allies, and goads them to ever-greater acts of depravity and violence. That doesn’t sound very different from what other demons do, so I’m guessing the noteworthy thing here is that it will do this to whatever group summons it.

    Other demons would just resentfully growl at their binders and strain to break free, but a glabrezu will act like he’s enjoying the opportunity to work with such distinguished masters while spreading ugly rumors among their underlings and posting fake news on Facebook. As long as it all ends in flames and tears, they’ll have fun.

    Mechanically, Glabrezus are Level 23 Elite Brutes with 520 HP. They’re trained in Perception, Arcana, Bluff and Intimidate, and probably know quite a few rituals for use out of combat. They have variable resistance 20, and can switch it up 3 times per encounter. Their land and fly speed are both 8.

    Being an epic-level MM1 monster, all of their attacks suffer heavily from the damage bug and require fixing. The basic attack is a pincer claw that has Reach 3 (standard for a Huge monster). The demon can make two such attacks per turn, and if both hit the same target they automatically grab it. No other powers specifically target a grabbed victim, but the grab does ensure they’re always in the area of effect for the demon’s spells. There’s three of them and they’re all minor actions:

    Abyssal Bolt is an at-will ranged attack with range 10, targeting Reflex and doing untyped damage. It’s Plan B, basically: when the glabrezu is bloodied it will retreat behind its minions and rain abyssal bolts down on the party.

    Blasphemous Word is an encounter power that targets enemies in a close burst 5. It attacks Will, does psychic damage, and dazes for a turn.

    Word of Chaos is another selective Close Burst 5, but it recharges on a 6. It targets Fortitude and does untyped damage that bypasses all resistances. That last bit is unlikely to come up since very few things give characters resistance to untyped damage, but it will be useful if the PCs do have access to those things. And hey, it’s minor-action area damage!

    When the Glabrezu is first bloodied, it will use Arcane Fury: this triggered free action allows it to teleport up to 8 squares, recharge Blasphemous Word and Word of Chaos, and use either one of them or an Abyssal Bolt immediately.

    The suggested encounter is level 23: one glabrezu, 1 earthwind ravager elemental and two blood fiends. So blood fiends do associate with demons! That’s another strong argument for making them demon vampires again instead of abominations.

    Final Impressions

    I’m going to be honest, I have trouble telling glabrezus, evistros and goristros apart just from the names, but these demons are actually kinda cool. You don’t always see a Brute spellcaster.

  • Let's Read the 4e Monster Manual/Vault: Evistro

    Illustration Copyright 2008 Wizards of the Coast.

    This is part of a series! Go here to see the other entries.

    Evistros are also known as “Carnage Demons”, and they’re all about the carnage. These man-sized demons have red skin, needle-like teeth, digitigrade legs and large black claws on both their hands and feet. In other words, they look pretty much like two-armed Blood Fiends. While 4e Blood Fiends aren’t technically demons, I think the above description already provides sufficient justification for a GM to make them so, should they be so inclined. Evistros are only on the Monster Manual.

    Anyway, when left to their own devices these things gather in huge hordes and rampage through whatever plane they happen to be in. Cultists and evil wizards find it easy to summon them into the world, but have a much harder time controlling them or getting them to do anything other than rampaging. Particularly inept summoners are often the first victims of their summoned evistros.

    Carnage Demons are Medium Elemental Magical Beasts, and Level 6 Brutes with 90 HP. This means they are likely some of the first demons a PC party will run into during their careers. They charge at you with Speed 6, and have variable resistance 10 (1/encounter). They can’t see in the dark at all, so you have that going for you if you meet one in a dark alley.

    Their basic attack is a claw, and they also have a slightly weaker bite they can use as a minor action on a bloodied target. They also have a passive ability called Carnage: if the demon has an ally adjacent to its target, it gains +1 on the attack roll. The bonus becomes +3 if that ally is also a carnage demon.

    As it happens with a lot of monsters in this book, the evistro’s tactics write themselves: these demons always come in bands; they charge all at once, focus on a single target, and tear it to pieces. Rinse (in blood) and repeat forever. Quite fitting for an Int 5 demon.

    The two suggested encounters are both level 6. The first is 3 evistros and 2 gnolls, which makes sense because their temperaments match perfectly. The second is 4 evistros and one harpy, which is a bit more puzzling. Is the harpy a demonologist?

    I was totally unimpressed by these things when I started reading the monster entry, but now that I’m through I think they’re kinda cool as an introduction to demon opponents. They just need the standard damage fix and you’re good to go.

    At higher levels, you can make them into minions and have dozens of the things swarming all around the battlefield as the party tries to fight their more powerful demon bosses.

  • Let's Read the 4e Monster Manual/Vault: Barlgura

    Illustration Copyright 2008 Wizards of the Coast.

    This is part of a series! Go here to see the other entries.

    We continue our tour of the Abyss with the Barlgura, which looks basically like a demonic orangutan with wicked claws and fangs. I guess these have been part of D&D for a while, but my first contact with them in published material was the excellent adventure Heathen, from Dungeon 155, which (spoilers!) featured a solo version of the barlgura as the ultimate villain.

    The lore for them is a bit sparse, but we do get a bit saying they’re favored by Demogorgon and their presence can be a sign that a cult of that demon lord is active in the area.

    These are only on the Monster Manual: the Demon entry on the vault concerns itself strictly with Paragon-or-higher-tier opposition.

    The barlgura is a Large Elemental Beast (demon), though I believe it was mistyped and should be a Magical Beast since it’s sapient. It’s still not very smart, at Int 6. Anyway, it’s a Level 8 Brute with 108 HP.

    Balrguras have low-light vision and variable resistance 10 (1/encounter). They have ground and climb speeds of 8. They attack with a slam that’s kinda weak by itself, but since they can make two of those despite not being elite their damage lines up with the expected for their level. When bloodied, it lets out a Savage Howl as a free action, giving itself and any allies within 5 squares +2 to all attacks for a turn.

    This is not a complicated monster: it will charge ahead and try to pummel the closest victim with its simian fists.

    We get two suggested encounters for them:

    • Level 9, 1 barlgura and a mixed party of 7 gnolls.

    • Level 11, 4 barlguras, 2 minotaur warriors, and 1 minotaur cabalist.

    So despite being favored by Demogorgon, they can also be found along cultists of Yeenoghu and Baphomet. What are you gonna do, tell the 10-foot orangutan from the Abyss it can’t do that?

    Final Impressions

    I would probably not have given these apes a second thought if it hadn’t been for Heathen. If you’re looking for a positive example of early 4e adventure writing, you can’t go wrong with that one. It can easily be turned into a mini-campaign, and is certainly leagues above Keep on the Shadowfell.

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