Illustration Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast.

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

In fourth edition, the Babau first appears on the Monster Manual 3. We’re viewing them ahead of time because they also appear on the Monster Vault.

The Lore

The general thrust of demons in 4e is that they’re not fond of complex schemes, which are more of a devil thing. Babaus are one of the exceptions to that rule. You see, there’s this demon lord called Graz’zt who is not a former primordial like the other demon lords. Instead, he was an archdevil who got it into his mind to invade the Abyss. Why did he do that? I don’t know. The lore in the MM3 mentions the Blood War, but I didn’t think that was still a thing in this edition. Maybe it’s a vestige of his backstory from Planescape, or maybe the Blood War has a different explanation for its existence here.

Anyway, shortly after getting to the Abyss, Graz’zt was corrupted by the seed of evil and decided to stay around and become a demon lord. Glasya, another archdevil and daughter of Asmodeus, was not pleased by that. She went after him and ran him through with her sword. When the drops of blood from that wound hit the ground of the Abyss, they became babaus, and their number was so great they drove Glasya back to the Hells, and their continued presence helped build Graz’zt’s power base and make his claim to demon lordship stick.

Being the spawn of Graz’zt, babaus are extraordinarily subtle and cunning for demons. This means they like to kidnap people to torture later instead of killing them all right away. They can be found working alongside other demons, even though they’re even less trusted than usual due to their continuing loyalty to their creator.

They look like skeletally thin humanoids with dark gray skin coated in slime, a spine-like tail, and a weird horn that looks like a scorpion stinger growing out of the back of their heads. All of this in addition to the usual demonic claws and fangs.

The Numbers

Since the babau is from the Monster Manual 3, its stats are identical in that book and in the Monster Vault. It’s a Medium Elemental Humanoid (demon), and a Level 13 Skirmisher with 127 HP. They run with Speed 7.

The babau has acid resistance 5, plus variable resistance 20 usable 2/encounter. It’s coated in acidic slime that deals 5 acid damage to anyone who attacks it with a melee attack.

This demon has two basic attacks, a bite and a claw. It can only use one of them per standard action, unless the target is granting combat advantage. Then it can use both. Each attack only does about half the level-appropriate damage for a skirmisher by itself, so the babau should really strive to gain combat advantage when fighting. The bite also does 5 ongoing acid damage, or 10 if the demon is bloodied.

As a minor action, the babau can perform a Murderous Abduction. This teleports an adjacent creature up to 7 squares and then immediately teleports the babau next to it. The victim grants combat advantage to the babau for a turn. This recharges whenever the babau drops someone to 0 HP. I’m guessing it reserves the power for then a PC is close to dropping.

Final Impressions

I’m gonna have to go with “meh” on this one. Their backstory feels kinda shoehorned in. They somehow brought back the Blood War and Graz’zt, both of which I feel are completely unnecessary.

As for the babaus themselves, they seem a bit too hard to use properly, since they absolutely must gain combat advantage to do level-appropriate damage with their attacks. The abduction power makes it seem that they’d be best employed in terrain with obstacles that are hard to overcome without teleportation, but then they can’t teleport back even if they drop the abducted PC. And if the PC doesn’t fall on that first turn, then the demon is now stranded far from its own allies and together with an angry PC.