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Later monster books in a D&D edition are usually where you find those monsters from previous editions who weren’t “iconic” enough to appear earlier, but sometimes they’re also where you can find some truly ambitious entries. After all, the authors have pages to fill and most of the classics have already been done. The Forsaken are one of the most ambitious new monsters presented by the MM3. Or at least they feel new. If a monster by this name existed earlier it was likely completely different.

The Lore

The Dawn War saw the death of many gods. In most such occasions, the dead god’s essence dispersed across the Astral Sea. However, a few gods were slain while physically present in the world, and their essence could not escape. Instead, it deposited itself in some of the mortal sapients that inhabited the world even back then.

Though the gods in question were dead and gone, these new vessels of their power acquired a memory of what it felt like to be immortal. This memory became a source of torment, for their owners were themselves mortal. They remembered and missed something they never had, and could never have. Overwhelmed by these feelings, these people ritually removed their own eyes so they would never have to gaze upon the mortal world again, and vowed to destroy and absorb the essences of the remaining gods so that they could steal their divinity for themselves. They called themselves the Forsaken, and they are still known by that name.

In our narrative present there are several different Forsaken tribes, each with their own approach to their grand design. They travel through all the universe in search of mystical secrets that will increase their power and allow them to become gods. They tangle and skirmish with Vecna worshippers, inflitrate astral dominions, and even journey the Hells. Some set up elaborate networks of followers and co-conspirators in the mortal realms. Some make plans to trap and devour a god.

The Monsters

Forsaken are epic-level threats. They’re Medium Natural Humanoids with the Blind keyword and Blindsight 20. This means they can’t be affected by the “blinded” status and they’re immune to gaze attacks and most vision-based impairments.

Their signature ability is Fragment of Immortality, which triggers when they hit 0 HP. It clears all effects from them, removes them from play and returns them a turn later with about 25% of their HP restored, in a space within 5 squares of their last location. The fragment allows them to cling to life.

All of their other abilities come from training and vary per stat block. They tend to have some vague similarities to PC divine classes, but any divine power would come from the Forsaken themselves rather than from a deity.

Forsaken Fearwrack

Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast

Fearwracks are spellcasters who delve deep into the mysteries of fear and death, confronting that which most scares the forsaken and inflicting it on others. There’s an enclave of them in the outer shores of Celestia, and though the inhabitants of that dominion very much want to see them gone, they fear meeting their final death at the hands of the Forsaken.

Fearwracks are Level 26 Artillery with 150 HP. They Inspire Fear, which acts as an aura (1) that inflicts a -2 penalty to all enemy defenses against fear attacks. Almost all of their attacks have the Fear keyword, of course.

They wield rods as implements, which I guess makes them a bit similar to PC invokers in look and feel. Their basic melee attack is a Fear Strike that targets Will, deals psychic damage, and forces the target to move its speed away from the invoker. The invoker chooses the path, but each square must be further away than the previous one. Why is this different from a push? Because the victim can provoke opportunity attacks during this movement!

At range they fire Terror Bolts which do the same amount of psychic damage and allow an ally adjacent to the target to make a melee basic attack against it.

Less often they can also employ a Curse of Mortality (recharge 4+), which targets Fortitude and inflicts 20 ongoing damage (save ends). The target has a -2 penalty to save against this, and each failed save increases the ongoing damage by 5 to a maximum of 30. I guess the damage looks like rapid aging, and since there’s no exception in the text it works even on beings who do not normally age.

Aside from Fragment of Immortality, fearwracks have another reaction power in the form of Cleansing Wounds, which clears all enemy effects from them when they first become bloodied.

An all-fearwrack group has a surprising amount of synergy. If the PCs close to melee with one of them, others can target the PC with Terror Bolt to open them up to a free Fear Strike. This causes the PC to run away and potentially get hit with more Fear Strikes. The fearwrack choses the victim’s path and there’s nothing forbidding them from walking them into traps or pits either.

There are occasions where the fearwrack wants the PC to stay close, though - their aura makes the Curse of Mortality even harder to resist with a total -4 save penalty.

Forkaken Infiltrators

Infiltrators have an amazing talent for long-term impersonation. Some believe they inherited it from the deity whose essence initially infused them. They join up with churches and cults of all types of deity, from Pelor to Vecna, with the goal of reaching a high post in their hierarchy. From that lofty perch they gain access to all sorts of restricted divine secrets, and can abuse their authority to sabotage the cult from within.

Infiltrators are Level 27 Skirmishers with 200 HP. They wield a kophesh in one hand and a hand crossbow in the other, and they use the classic strategy of moving around to gain combat advantage while discouraging the PCs from making opportunity attacks.

If they have Combat Advantage against a target, any attack they hit also immobilized the target and allows the infiltrator to shift 2 squares. Punishing Response is a mighty discouragement indeed: when an enemy hits the infiltrator with an opportunity attack, the enemy takes the same damage dealt to the infiltrator plus 5!

The Khopesh and Hand Crossbow are accurate and do solid damage, but have no built-in riders. They can also make a Careful Attack with the sword that deals about 25% less damage but gives the infiltrator a +2 bonus to defenses for a turn.

No combat-time shapeshifting powers here, so I guess any transformations either take more time, or are just the fruit of epic-level tradecraft rather than shape-shifting magic. Infiltrators do get training in all the social skills plus Stealth, and their high level means they’re better at those than most mortals.

Forsaken Loreseeker

Loreseekers are the rank and file of the Forsaken spying operation, tasked with actively breaking into libraries, vaults, and minds to steal the knowledge contained within. I guess a big part of the big-I Infiltrator’s mission is to open the way for loreseekers. Some believe they can steal all the memories of a creature they kill.

Loreseekers are Level 27 Minion Soldiers, which tells me they’re not really meant to engage in combat most of the time and/or that they work in large teams. When forced to fight, they use weapons similar to those of the Infiltrator.

Their Hand Crossbow attack marks for a turn, and their melee attack also performs a Theft of Memory. During the target next turn, all enemies except the attacking Loreseeker are invisible to the victim. Memory erasure in real time! The loreseeker loses this ability after it uses Fragment of Immortality. Yes, despite being a minion they also have this ability, so you need to hit them twice to defeat them for good.

Forsaken Slaughterer

Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast

Some Forsaken find the memory of immortality a weight too great to bear. It eats at their sanity until their mind snaps, and they’re consumed by rage and grief. The other forsaken keep these unfortunate individuals in reserve for use as living weapons. They’re more sensitive to divine power, you see, and tend to fly into a murderous frenzy when they sense some. It wouldn’t do to waste that kind of god-killing potential.

Slaugheterers are Level 28 Brutes, which means they can indeed challenge demigods and other things of that nature when backed up by a team of similar level. They have 253 HP, and the other standard Forsaken traits.

Slaughterers have a couple of interesting passive traits: Relentless Slaughter is an aura (1) that halves the benefits of healing for any enemy inside; and Proximal Resistance gives them Resist 10 against all ranged and area attacks if no enemies are adjacent to them. This makes them very capable of charging through an open field to engage PCs in melee.

They fight with paired khopesh swords, and their basic Khopesh attack does a nice chunk of damage - almost as much as a Balor’s sword, with the main difference being the lack of the High-Crit property. They can also use an Unstoppable Cut that splits that damage between two adjacent targets. This isn’t a multi-attack - if the first target gets hit, the second takes damage automatically.

Like all Forsaken, slaughterers have Fragment of Immortality as a triggered action. They also have another very interesting one called Blood for Blood. It triggers when they’re first bloodied, and consists of a Close Burst 1 attack against all enemies that does damage equal to each target’s healing surge value. That’s 25% of their HP, and it’s likely to bloody them since it will go off a ways into the fight.

Slaughterers are offensive brutes - you want them to charge past the defenders and attack your squishies. They’ll be particularly eager to target divine characters like clerics and invokers, so having a paladin with you is probably the best way to make them stop and fight your defenders. Otherwise they’ll definitely risk opportunity attacks and mark punishments to break through, with Blood for Blood working as a nasty surprise for those PCs who prove adept at hurting them.

Forsaken Mastermind

Forsaken Masterminds are strategists. They run operations whose scope encompasses an entire region, sitting at the center of a web of different cells and agents that include several other Forsaken as well as their mortal pawns. Their goals tend to involve heavy stuff like interfering with the designs of the gods themselves, or those of their direct servants. A mastermind should only enter combat directly if all of their other plans have been thwarted by meddlesome adventurers, but they’re far from defenseless if it comes to that.

Masterminds are Level 29 Controllers with 213 HP and the Leader keyword. They’re masterful warriors, and also employ some magic focused on disrupting divine powers. They’re surrounded by an Inspire Resilience aura (5), which grants an extra 40 temporary HP to any forsaken ally who uses Fragment of Immortality within it.

Their basic khopesh attack makes the target marked by one of the mastermind’s allies within 5 squares! So it forces the PC to target that ally instead of the mastermind itself, and allows the ally to use any mark-related abilities it may have.

They also use a hand crossbow that can make a solid ranged basic attack.

Their main spell is Tainted Wave, an at-will Close Blast 3 attack that targets enemies, deals untyped damage, and makes those it hits lose all temporary HP and become unable to regain HP for a turn. It targets Fortitude, so most defenders might have a good shot at resisting it, but if it hits they’re in trouble.

Less often (recharge 5+), they can use Delayed Retribution, an area spell that targets enemies’ Reflex. Those it hits take some damage and, more importantly, will become stunned for a turn if they attack the mastermind during their next action.

If someone uses a divine power within 10 squares of the mastermind, it can use Wrath of the Forsaken as a reaction. This ends all negative effects on an ally within 10 squares, and allows them to make an immediate recharge roll to recover an expended power.

Final Impressions

I quite like these guys. Their lore feels epic and horrific at the same time, and their mechanics are cool.

I do wonder how the Forsaken perpetuate themselves, as they’ve been around since the Dawn War and are very explicitly not immortal. Perhaps they’re still unaging, or maybe there is a procedure for exposing a mortal victim to the fragment of immortality that belonged to a deceased Forsaken, bringing them back in a new form Go’auld style.