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Back in 1982, there was a movie named The Dark Crystal. It introduced these cool villainous vulture people called the Skeksis, which became kind of iconic. D&D wanted in on some of that action, so it added a species called the Nagpa to Mystara. Nagpas are to Skeksis what Halflings are to Hobbits, which means that they started out just barely different enough to avoid a lawsuit and got significantly changed in each subsequent edition. This is their 4e debut.

The Lore

Once upon a time, during the Dawn War, the Primordials realized they needed servitors that could act as special forces. They already commanded uncountable hordes of elementals, but they were mostly dumb as rocks and only good as shock troops. Giants and djinns were smart and individually powerful, but too few in number.

So they decided to take a page from the playbook of the gods and create a servitor species they named the nagpas. Created to be as beautiful as nymphs and as clever as devils, the nagpas readily took to their new role and proceeded to wreak havoc on the armies of the gods for a time.

However, when the Dawn War was nearing its end, the nagpas were clever enough to realize that their side would lose. And so it was that they made a deal with the gods to betray their masters. However, they were caught, and the primordials cursed them.

The curse took away the beauty of the nagpas, turning them into horrid vulture-like beings. It also doomed them to never touch that which they desired the most. A nagpa who loved fine food and wine would always taste foulness when he tried to eat or drink. One who loved art would see it crumble at a touch.

Nagpas were either already immortal, or were made so by the curse. Even when slain, they reincarnate within a few decades with all memories of their previous lives and deaths. Every nagpa alive today remembers their life before the curse, and is obsessed with those things it cannot have. They tend to destroy mirrors or any other surface that can show them their own faces.

The primordial curse angle is interesting. Without it, you could argue that their vulture-like appearance is a subjective thing. Some people think they’re ugly, they themselves like it just fine. But a curse might make them “axiomatically” ugly: not only are others unable to see beauty in them, they are incapable of seeing it in themselves.

The Monsters

Nagpas are Medium Elemental Humanoids with Low-Light Vision and a speed of 6. Everything else comes from training and varies per stat block. The two stat blocks here have a wizardly bent, and use magic with a corruption and decay theme.

Nagpa Corruptor

The Nagpa Corruptor is given as an example of an art-loving nagpa. Its lair looks like a museum, with cordoned-off works of art on display (but no reflective surfaces!). It employs a large number with a similarly evil disposition to protect its collection and acquire more pieces for it.

Corruptors are Level 9 Controllers with 97 HP. Their basic attacks are a withering staff that deals necrotic damage and pushes 2 squares, and a ranged Withering Blast that deals necrotic damage and immobilizes (save ends).

They can also use a ranged Devouring Fire (recharge 5+) spell that deals fire damage and ongoing fire damage (save ends). Each failed save also deals a bit of fire damage to up to 3 enemies adjacent to the target. The text says “each ally” but I’m interpreting that to mean “each ally of the target”.

Their strongest attack is an encounter power named Corrupting Curse, a close blast 5 that deals necrotic damage and creates a zone that prevents enemies inside from regaining HP. It lasts until the end of the encounter. Their other encounter power is an Enervating Blast. It’s another close blast 5 that can be cast as a minor action, deals no damage and weakens those it hits for a turn.

Corruptors let their hired muscle do most of the fighting, hitting their enemies with opportunistic spells from afar. They’re one of the rare monsters that include more specific “director’s notes” in their text, though: if the fight happens inside the corruptor’s lair/gallery, PCs should be able to its beloved art objects. The first time one is destroyed, the corruptor becomes dazed for a turn.

Nagpa Carrion Lord

This one is a gourmand who loved good food and drink, but who is cursed to only taste ashes and filth when it eats. It still likes holding feasts, but its inability to enjoy them fill it with rage and frustration, which it takes out on any nearby PCs.

The Carrion Lord is a Level 14 Artillery monster with 111 HP. All of its abilities have a “rot” theme, starting with the Rotting Staff basic melee attack that targets Fortitude and does necrotic damage. Its basic ranged attack is the Bolt of Putrescence, targetting Reflex and doing, you guessed it, necrotic damage.

Hand of Ruin (recharge 5+) is a ranged attack that changes things up a little and does acid damage. Consuming Shadows (encounter) is a ranged area attack that deals immediate and ongoing necrotic damage, and creates a zone that blocks line of sight to the carrion lord’s enemies. Its allies can see through it just fine, though. It lasts for a turn and can be sustained with a minor action. The lord’s last encounter power is Ghostly Escape, a minor action that gives it insubstantial and phasing for a turn.

The Carrion Lord likely opens the fight with Consuming Shadows, and then keeps using its two ranged attacks from beyond the sight of the PCs while its melee-oriented bodyguards keep them pinned in place. Ghostly escape is reserved for doing what its name says, and letting the nagpa get away after it sees the fight is lost.

Final Impressions

I’m going to say the same thing everyone who has reviewed a Nagpa entry always says: they’re skeksis. The way in which they’re skeksis tends to vary with the edition, though. I think the ones from the source material were pursuing immortality. These ones achieved it, but found that it brings them no joy.