Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast

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Cloakers are an old D&D standby, originating back in the days of AD&D 1st Edition where they belonged to a category of monsters that looked like furniture.

The Lore

The lore introduction for cloakers in this book actually references their “gygaxian gotcha” origins! It tells the story of a thief who had the bad habit of looting the room while his buddies were still fighting the monsters, and who died when the “fine leather cloak” he found in Tsojcanth turned out to be a cloaker.

Aside from that easter egg, though, the “disguised cloak” thing is gone. Cloakers are still sneaky, but they prever to fly silently and swoop on from above. They’re sapient but profoundly anti-social, and their preferred “team-up” method is to follow group of other monsters unnoticed, from a safe distance. When those other monsters find tasty prey, the cloaker swoops in to grab some of it.

Cloakers tend to avoid each other except in rare “conclaves”, where a whole bunch of them huddle up in a big sphere and exchange news and gossip. Outside of that you’ll only find cloakers cooperating if their lives are in imminent risk.

Whether hunting or defending themselves, cloakers fight by slapping with their barbed tails and by enveloping victims with their flexible wings that can choke and crush someone to death. They also emit a strange moaning sound that causes unnatural fear in those who hear it.

The Monsters

Cloakers are Large Aberrant Magical Beasts with Darkvision. Their ground speed is a pitiful 2 (clumsy), but their flight speed is 8. Despite being aberrant there’s nothing in their lore linking them to the Far Realm. If you wanted, you could make them Natural or give them another any other origin without changing anything about their stats.

Cloaker Ambusher

These are your common specimens. They’re Level 12 Lurkers with 95 HP. Those Unnerving Moans count as an aura (2) with the Fear keyword, inflicting a -2 attack penalty on non-deafened enemies caught inside.

The afore-mentioned Tail Slap is a basic attack doing standard physical damage, but the Envelop ability gets lots of text. It’s an attack that targets Reflex and does no immediate damage. On a hit the target is grabbed, pulled to the cloaker’s space, and becomes blinded, dazed, restrained and takes 10 ongoing damage. While enveloping a victim, any attacks that hit the cloaker do half damage to the monster and half to the victim.

Since this is a grab, escaping requires an Athletic test against the cloaker’s Fortitude (24) or Acrobatics against its Reflex (23). I guess explicit escape DCs are a Monster Vault innovation.

As a minor action, the cloaker ambusher can use Shadow Shift to gain concealment for a turn. If it was already concealed by the environment, it gains total concealment instead.

Cloaker Lord

This is a cloaker that managed to live to a more advanced age than most of its peers, and has mastered the natural magic that powers its moan. It’s a Level 18 Controller with 172 HP and all the same abilities as a basic cloaker plus a few more moaning-related ones.

The first one is Terrifying Moan (recharge 4+), a Close Burst 2 targetting Will. It does psychic damage and forces the target to move its speed away from the monster. This isn’t a push, it’s a move, so the victim could trigger opportunity attacks from other monsters during it.

The second one is Hypnotic Moan. It affects the same area but instead of doing damage it stuns for a turn on a hit and dazes for a turn on a miss. Thankfully it’s an encounter power, so this will only happen once.

Both the cloaker’s Unnerving Moan aura and the area covered by its attacks increase from 2 to 5 when the creature is bloodied.

Final Impressions

The Envelop ability is kinda frightening, but I guess my impression of cloakers remains the same it’s always been: meh.