Weavers have apparently been around since the days of AD&D, appearing in a Monstrous Compendium Annual there under the name “Spell Weavers”. Their 4e debut was actually in Dungeon #165, in the adventure titled “Secrets of the White Lotus Academy”. Here in the MM3 they get updated into a major cosmic threat.
As an aside, it was in a weaver ruin that Kyuss found the writings that let him become the Worm that Walks, back in the 3e adventure path.
Weaver civilization is incredibly ancient, and what little remains of it seems to have been somehow shattered and spread across the cosmos. Records recovered from these few ruins seem to describe a terrible Far Realm incursion that tried to inject a seed of chaos into our cosmos. The Weavers tried to stop this, and were only partially successful. This is what shattered them.
To hear the Weavers themselves tell it, their civilization predated even the gods and primordials, and the event that caused its destruction was in fact what caused the universe to separate into the Elemental Chaos and the Astral Sea. Contemporary sages don’t believe this to be true, but the surviving Weavers certainly do. This belief is at the root of their disdain for all things divine. To them, the gods are just annoying upstarts. Their own bodies and minds are the product of aeons of transhuman enhancement. They’re much stronger, faster, and smarter than your average mortal, and possess an unparalleled multitasking ability that lets them even cast multiple complex spells at once.
Present-day Weavers preserve as much of their ancient lore as they can, and work on a grand plan to rebuild their civilization by undoing the planar disjunction that broke it. Yes, they want to smush the planes back together. If they’re right, it will be a very bad time for everyone else in the universe. If they’re wrong, it will be a bad time for absolutely everyone, including themselves.
Their plan has two parts. The first is to restore and repair as many weaver ruins as possible. Within each one is a planar portal that links all active ruins into a single network, and a mystical furnace that burns the life force of mortals and the enchantments that power magic items. By feeding these furnaces, weavers gather power for the series of rituals that will finally accomplish their goal.
A weaver will be most likely be found masterminding some plan to gather powerful mortal souls and magic items. They drain this power through enchanted chromatic disks that only work for weavers. Every individual carries one of these, though they specialize in different “flavors” of soul.
Weavers easily form alliances with other powerful groups that have the same negative opinion of the gods and a nihilistic bent, like tulgars and the Forsaken. They also hold great influence over the Nerra, leading some scholars to say the creation story in that entry is wrong and the Nerra are actually creations of the Weavers.
Weavers are Medium Immortal Humanoids. They have Darkvision, a ground speed of 6, and a teleport speed of 6. Their signature trait is Multitasking Brain, which limits the effect of the dazed condition on them: they only lose their move action, and can still take immediate actions (like interrupts and reactions).
The other signature trait is more of a design directive: most of a weaver’s attacks are minor actions, and they’re about as effective as a standard action from another monster would be. They’re also all Elites.
Each weaver statted below specializes in collecting the souls of characters who employ a different power source, using that same power source as its main weapon. There’s one for every power source except divine, whom they consider beneath them even as fuel for their furnaces. Ironically, this means divine characters have a bit of an advantage over weavers.
The classic model, concerned with the collection of arcane power. Spell weavers usually lead raids into secure locations in order to steal magic itens and particularly desirable souls. They’re planned months in advance with intel from spies and divinations, and usually involve the opening of a long-distance portal as close to the target as possible. Once the spell weaver has what it wants, it teleports back to the portal and escapes. It’s Level 28 Elite Artillery with 400 HP. Yes, according to this entry the typical weaver is equivalent to a demigod in power.
They have three basic attacks, all doable as minor actions: Esoteric Touch deals force damage and pushes 5 squares; Dimensional Ray allows the weaver to teleport 2 squares before rolling, deals untyped damage, and teleports the target 2 squares; and Esoteric Blast deals fire damage to its target and an automatic 10 fire damage to all enemies adjacent to it.
Also as a minor action, it can wield its chromatic disk and cast Extract Arcane Soul (recharge 5+). This can only target characters with arcane powers. It deals psychic damage and dazes (save ends). On a miss it deals half damage. Hit or miss, the weaver regains 20 HP. So this doesn’t extract your whole soul, just a bit of your life force. It’s still bad news!
They also have a standard action attack: Chilling Echo can be used to automatically deal 15 cold damage to all creatures the spell weaver has damaged since the start of its current turn.
Once per encounter, when the weaver takes damage, it can use Defensive Jaunt as a reaction, becoming invisible and teleporting 20 squares.
The spell weaver’s minor action attacks deal about half the damage you would expect from the MM3 formula, but the addition of Chilling Echo brings them back up to their expected potential. Don’t forget to use it!
Possibly some of the best warriors in the universe, battleweavers wield 4 exquisitely-crafted swords in combat, and hold their chromatic disk in their other two hands. They collect the life force of worthy warriors. Battleweavers are Level 26 Elite Soldiers with 488 HP.
It’s imposssible to duel a battleweaver and come out unscathed, because their Blade Mastery acts as an aura (1) that deals 10 automatic damage to any enemies inside and marks them for a turn when this happens.
They have a standard longsword basic attack, but they’re usually going to open with one of their two minor-action maneuvers, which also count as basic attacks. Quick Jab deals light physical damage and slides the target 3 squares to a space adjacent to the weaver; sidestep jab does the same damage and allows the weaver to shift 3 squares to a space adjacent to the target. Combined, they allow the creature to lead its foes on a merry dance across the field. The basic attack can then act as a “finisher” in the round, bringing their damage potential to a level a bit above the one expected by the formula.
Battleweavers can use their chromatic disk to Extract a Martial Soul, targetting characters with martial powers. This is like the spellweaver’s version: it deals psychic damage, dazes (save ends), and heals the weaver for about 5% of its total HP (24 in this case).
If an enemy marked by the battleweaver within 10 squares makes an attack that doesn’t include the weaver as a target, the weaver can teleport to the enemy and make a melee basic attack against it, as an interrupt. This is the other main use of their standard-action basic attack.
Battleweavers will use their “jab” strikes to wander around the battlefield and disrupt PC formations while their aura damages and marks enemies. Like a swordmage, it will try to stay far away from enemies it has marked, to increase the chances of their mark triggering. It will use its stronger longsword attacks to punish mark-ignoring PCs or to pile on more damage on a target it wants to focus.
A weaver that specializes in the power of the mind. It usually doesn’t go out hunting like the others - instead it can be found in weaver ruins working to restore their gates and furnaces. If forced to fight, it will do so entirely through the use of psionic powers, barely moving unless absolutely necessary.
Thought weavers are Level 27 Controllers with the Leader keyword and 500 HP. Their basic attacks are minor actions:: Quick Strike is a standard melee attack, and Mind Spike is a ranged attack that deals psychic damage, inflicts a -2 penalty to all defenses for a turn, and slides the target 3 squares. They can also Extract A Psionic Soul, targetting a PC with psionic powers with the same standard Extract Soul effects. As standard actions, it can use two powerful mind control techniques:
Mental Puppet is a non-damaging attack that slides the target 5 squares, forces them to make a basic attack against a target of the weaver’s choice, and then dominates it (save ends). It recharges when no one is dominated by the power.
Command the Puppet automatically hits someone dominated by Mental Puppet. It deals psychic damage and has the same rider as the other power (slide 5 squares, make a basic attack).
If someone leaves a square adjacent to the dominated puppet, the weaver can use Guardian Puppet as an interrupt to have the dominated character use a basic attack against the triggering enemy.
Tought weavers can also choose to spend a standard, move, or minor action directing a Coordinated Strike, which essentially gifts the spent action to an ally within 5 squares and allows the ally to immediately take that action.
This is the weaver attuned to the Shadow power source. And what is the Shadow power source? As far as I know it’s basically “Arcane in a Halloween costume”. It started getting mentions as something distinct around this time, and would get a supplement all to itself named Heroes of Shadow the next year. To my knowledge it never got very popular due to this conceptual confusion with arcane magic and due to most of its associated classes not being very good. Anyway, it got a weaver here.
Hex Weavers are too cool to hang out with other weavers, and instead oversee portals into the Shadowfell from which they launch expeditions to pursue mysterious goals that may or may not be related to the overall plan of the weaver civilization.
A Hex Weaver is a Level 27 Elite Lurker with 382 HP, and it’s also too cool to follow the same rules as the other weavers. Its minor action attacks are Extract Shadow Soul, which has the usual effects but only targets creatures with shadow powers, and Shrouded Eye, a ranged attack that deals psychic damage and makes the weaver invisible to the target for a turn. The latter can only be used once per round, which breaks from the pattern.
This is also the weaver with the highest number of standard action powers: Shadow Grasp is a stronger, melee version of Shrouded Eye; Stinging Shroud is a close burst 1 that deals necrotic damage and is much stronger against creatures granting combat advantage to the weaver. And Shadow Mask is an encounter power that makes it invisible for a turn.
Finally, if the weaver is damaged, it can Step Into Shadow (recharge 4+) to become insubstantial for a turn and teleport its speed as a reaction.
Hex weavers are a bit disappointing. They’d be a lot more dangerous if Shadow Mask was a recharge or at-will power, or if Shadow Grasp was a minor action. They also had the problem that there weren’t a lot of shadow-based PCs around when they were published, because Heroes of Shadow was like six months away from its release.
I’m not familiar with weavers from previous editions but I really like their lore here. The targetting restrictions on their Extract Soul attack do feel a little artificial, but are easily removed. I don’t like the shadow power source very much, so I didn’t like Hex Weavers, but the others are quite flavorful and powerful.