Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast.

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Minotaurs made their 4e debut right in the first Monster Manual. They’d also appear in the Monster Vault. As it happens with a lot of other monsters in the same situation, the MM3 gives us a set of minotaur stat blocks that complements the ones from the MV.

The Lore

Minotaurs are a playable option as of the PHB 3, so their basic lore is quite a bit more lenient with them than that of other “monstrous humanoids”. The MM3 innovates here by presenting us with a specific organization of evil minotaurs rather than trying to describe the whole species again.

This organization is called the Blood League. Its members have invented rituals that allow them to steal the power of another creature by eating its still-beating heart. They like to capture potential targets and release them into a special labyrinth they control, hunting the victim to the limits of its endurance and only then making the kill. They often work with worshippers of Torog and Baphomet, who share aspects of their worldview and tastes. They also work with mind flayers, who get to eat the victims’ brains after the Blood League is done with them.

The Numbers

This entry presents several Blood League minotaurs that take their powers from a variety of creatures. They’re all early Paragon threats. All of them are Medium Natural Humanoids and have a Goring Charge attack that does heavy physical damage and knocks prone on a hit. They also have a Ferocity trait that gives them one final basic attack when they’re dropped to 0 HP, with an additional rider that varies per stat block.

The novel thing here is the Heart ability each minotaur gets. This is something thematic to the creature they killed to gain their powers. It’s usually an encounter or recharge power.

Pale Bloodfiend

This one has eaten the heart of a vampire, proving that “still-beating” is a poetic flourish and not a requirement. It’s a Level 12 Brute with 140 HP.

The bloodfiend gained most of a vampire’s cool powers without any of the disadvantages, much like Marvel’s Blade. It has a Speed of 8, Darkvision, claws, and a blood-draining bite.

The Claws are a basic attack, and can be used twice in a Double Claw maneuver. If both attacks hit, the bloodfiend grabs the target. It can then use Heart of the Vampire against the grabbed victim, an attack vs. Fortitude that deals a light physical damage, dazes and weakens (save ends both). A hit also heals the bloodfiend for 20 HP. This is an encounter power that recharges on a miss, and likely represents some sort of blood-draining bite.

The Bloodfiend’s Ferocity makes its final attack daze for a turn on a hit.

Cinderhoof Trampler

This one has eaten the heart of a nightmare. It’s a Level 13 Skirmisher with 132 HP. It smells of brimstone and burnt hair. It runs very fast, and gains a few fire- and trample- based powers.

Its speed is 8, and it has Resist 10 Fire. When it hits a target granting combat advantage to it, it inflicts ongoing 10 fire damage (save ends). It’s basic attack is a Gore, and its special ability is Heart of the Nightmare (recharge 6+). This allows it to move its speed and enter enemy spaces during this move. Anyone that hits the trampler with an opportunity attack during the move takes 10 fire damage, and any creatures whose space it moves through are targeted by an attack vs. Reflex that deals heavy physical damage and knocks them prone.

The Trampler’s Ferocity pushes the target 2 squares and knocks it prone on a hit.

Ironskin Warrior

This elite Blood Leaguer has eaten the heart of a gorgon, one of the metal-skinned gas-breathing bulls of D&D. It’s a Level 14 Soldier with 140 HP, and has Resist 10 Poison.

As the name implies, the ironskin warrior has metal skin, but that’s rolled into its Soldierly high AC. It fights with a greataxe that damages, slows and prevents shifting (save ends both). The Heart of the Gorgon encounter bility is a poison breath attack (close burst 5 vs. Fortitude). A hit deals poison damage and slows (save ends). This worsens to immobilization on the first failed save, and to full petrification after the second failure. Petrification is permanent and requires magic to reverse. It’s a good fight opener, because it has the chance to take an unlucky PC out of the fight completely.

The Ironskin’s Ferocity immobilizes the target for a turn on a hit.

Shardhorn Hunter

This fearsome assassin has eaten the heart of a unicorn and made a dagger out of its horn. Just in case you doubted the Blood League was evil. It’s a Level 15 Lurker with 116 HP.

Its horn dagger can be used for basic attacks, and it can also backstab an enemy granting combat advantage to the hunter. This deals the same damage as the basic attack, plus ongoing 10 damage (save ends). Heart of the Unicorn helps with this: it allows the hunter to teleport 6 squares and turn invisible for a turn or until it attacks. It recharges when the hunter uses Backstab (hit or miss).

The Shardhorn’s Ferocity dazes for a turn on a hit.

Final Impressions

Here’s a specific evil organization with specific methods and goals, and a nice set of thematic powers. It’s not something that would have flown in the first Monster Manual (which needs to be more generic), but it’s very welcome in a subsequent supplement like this one. I want more of this!