This article is part of a series! You can find all of them here.
Chokers are humanoid creatures with somewhat elongated heads and very long rubbery arms ending in hands whose palms seem lined with sharp barbs. To better choke you with, obviously. They’re only listed in the Monster Manual, but they do get an update in Dungeon Magazine issue 196. This update is part of a series of articles that are considered “missing pages from the Monster Vault”, so I’ll cover them here as well.
The MM doesn’t offer much in the way of choker lore, but the Dungeon article remedies that nicely.
Chokers love the Underdark but may be found in other favorable environments closer to the surface, particularly near sapient settlements. You see, they prefer hunting sapient prey, because in addition to being good eatin’ they often carry the shiny baubles and jewels which these creatures love to collect and occasionally fondle. Their arms are so flexible because their internal structure is composed of many knobby cartilage joints.
Chokers typically live and hunt alone, because they’re so antisocial they see even other chokers as prey. They gots shinies and meat on them just like anybody else, precious. These creatures are however just smart enough to accept shiny bribes in exchange for not eating someone, and sometimes drow or other underground dwellers can hire them on that basis. Drow in particular don’t like to do it very often, because they find chokers too unpredictable.
We have two varieties of choker statted up here, both Unaligned and possessed of Int 6. I suppose this could mean not every choker the party meets is a bandit, but I don’t think I ever saw any published friendly chokers.
Cavern Choker (Monster Manual)
This is a Small Natural Humanoid and a Level 4 Lurker with 42 HP. It has darkvision, a ground speed of 6, and a climb speed of 6 with spider climb.
Its basic (and main) attack is the Tentacle Claw. Its Reach 2 is impressive for a Small creature, and in addition to doing damage it also automatically grabs the target on a hit. Grabs in 4e prevent the victim from moving, but not from performing other actions. They can use an action to attempt to escape the grab. For monsters without a listed escape DC, such as these chokers, the test is either the victims Acrobatics vs. the monster’s Reflex, or Athletics vs. the monster’s Fortitude. In this specific case the target takes a -4 penalty to the roll to escape.
Some monsters have specific things they can do to grabbed victims. For example, the cavern choker can use its standard action to choke a grabbed victim, an attack which deals the same damage as the claw but targets Fortitude and has a better chance of landing. When the choker is targeted by an attack against its AC or Reflex, it can use an immediate interrupt to interpose the grabbed victim, causing the attack to target them instead. This doesn’t work if the attack comes from the victim itself, obviously.
The choker also has a Chameleon Hide, which it can activate as a minor action to gain concealment for a turn. It can’t use this while grabbing someone, but it’s useful for it to retreat using its considerable Stealth.
The tactics write themselves - the choker will lurk on a ceiling and grab someone when they pass by, while its less sneaky buddies distract the rest of the party.
Cavern Choker (Dungeon)
The Cavern Choker from Dungeon remains a level 4 lurker with 42 HP. The main change from the MM is a significant upgrade to its Chameleon Skin, which now gives full concealment and is always on as long as the choker doesn’t have anyone grabbed.
The Choke attack is gone - now the Tentacle Claw does 10 ongoing damage to grabbed targets until they escape. Escape attempts now have an explicit DC of 21, which is about the same as you’d get under the old rules. Body Shield has had its text changed and clarified. It’s still an interrupt that redirects an attack by someone else to the grabbed victim, but now it only recharges when the choker hits with Tentacle Claw. This means that the monster can only use it once after it grabs a target, making “grab, release on your next turn, grab again” preferable to holding on until the target dies.
Feygrove Choker (Monster Manual)
This Medium Fey Humanoid is a Level 12 Lurker with 91 HP. A different species, or the platonic ideal of the mundane choker? In any case its abilities are quite similar. It has Reach 3 and can grab up to 2 targets simultaneously. When it has 2 grabbed creatures it can choke them both at once; it can use either creature as a shield, but not against attacks made by either grabbed creature.
As an extra surprise, it can use a power named Vine Fetter, which animates nearby vegetation in an Area Burst 3 within 10 squares. It targets the Reflex of enemies in the area and restrains them (save ends) on a hit. This recharges on a 6 and will very likely be the opening move in a fight.
Feygrove Choker (Dungeon)
The exact same set of changes also applies to the Feygrove Choker, which remains a Level 12 Lurker with 91 HP. It can still grab two people instead of just one, so it has more opportunities to use Body Shield. The damage fixes also have much more of an impact on it, since it’s a higher-level monster.
Sample Encounter and Final Impressions
The sample encounter is level 4: a pair of cavern chokers employed by a small hobgoblin war party.
MM Chokers get a “meh” from me. I didn’t find them that exciting. I guess they’re the sort of gimmicky Gygaxian monster you’d expect to find alongside cloakers and piercers, but I didn’t find them appealing outside of that.
I like the additional lore from the Dungeon article, though it definitiely makes it clear that chokers are more monsters than people. The stat updates are welcome too. I’d normally just apply a damage fix to the MM stat blocks and call it a day, but these come with some interesting changes like the boost to Chameleon Skin.