Excerpts 09/05/2004


Monster Manual III
More monsters -- what else is there to say?



Plenty! Fresh foes and advanced versions of classic critters lurk within Monster Manual III, waiting to add complexity to your campaign and a new edge to encounters. This fully illustrated collection of creatures offers many new enemies and a few potential allies, each heading its own page for ease of reference and from-the-book use. DMs will especially appreciate the tactics sections and world-specific advice on incorporating these monsters into particular campaign settings such as the Forgotten Realms and Eberron. Wherever your story unfolds, however, now you can populate it with a whole new menagerie of menaces.

Grisgol

Large Construct
Hit Dice: 19d10+30 (134 hp)
Initiative: +0
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 28 (-1 size, +19 natural), touch 9, flat-footed 28
Base Attack/Grapple: +14/+22
Attack: Slam +17 melee (1d6+4 plus 1d8+5 negative energy plus paralysis)
Full Attack: 2 slams +17 melee (1d6+4 plus 1d8+5 negative energy plus paralysis)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Choking dust, damaging touch, paralyzing touch, spell-like abilities
Special Qualities: Construct traits, damage reduction 10/piercing and magic, darkvision 60 ft., immunity to magic, incite madness, low-light vision
Saves: Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +6
Abilities: Str 18, Dex 10, Con -- , Int -- , Wis 11, Cha 11
Skills: --
Feats: --
Environment: Any
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 15
Treasure: No coins; no goods; double items
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: --
Level Adjustment: --

This humanoid figure is wrapped from head to toe in strips of scroll parchment and pages from dusty tomes. Pieces of tattered magic belts, robes, and chainmail also seem haphazardly integrated into its form.

A grisgol is a horrifying construct composed of broken and worn-out magic items, animated by a powerful spellcaster who has harnessed the spirit of a lich. Its skeleton is fabricated from old staffs and wands and its skin from expended scrolls wrapped about it like a mummy's burial cloth. Woven into this are rings, bracers, fragments of leather or chainmail, and the like. Inside the creature are scores of half-empty vials of potions, unguents, and oils, vaguely resembling sets of internal organs. It typically wears a rune-scribed cloak or robe. Pinpoints of red light glare from underneath a hood or old helmet.

Nestled inside the construct, among miscellaneous junk, is the original lich's phylactery. Unless one knows what animates a grisgol, the phylactery appears as another piece of spent magic trash tossed loosely and randomly into the insides of the construct.

From a distance, a grisgol appears to be a mummy, even moving with a similar stiff gait. When it walks, one can hear the tinkling of glass touching glass, the sloshing of half-filled vials and bottles, the squeaking of leather, the rubbing of wood and bone against each other, and, most prominently, the shuffling of paper as if pages of a tome were caught in a slight breeze. Thin tendrils of black smoke escape from cracks in its body. A grisgol leaves a sooty, oily residue upon whatever it touches.

A grisgol is in every way a magic construct, possessing all traits native to golems in addition to the abilities of the lich that powers it. A grisgol's damaging and paralyzing touch attacks are the same as a lich and the construct retains a fraction of the original lich's spell-casting ability. A grisgol only casts the spells scribed by its creator on the scrolls and tome pages that make up its outer skin. The spells a grisgol can cast are, however, restricted to the spell levels, domains, and specializations the lich (a 20th-level cleric, sorcerer, or wizard) could have cast.

Destroying a grisgol does not destroy the lich that powers it. To kill the lich, its phylactery must be destroyed after the grisgol is destroyed. Otherwise, the lich is free to return in a physical form in 1d10 days. The escaped lich retains all the powers and abilities it had previous to its entrapment. The lich seeks vengeance upon whoever possesses its phylactery and the wizard, sorcerer, or cleric who originally entrapped it in the body of a grisgol.

A grisgol stands 8 feet tall and weighs about 400 pounds. It knows all the languages known by the lich whose phylactery animates it.

Combat

A grisgol is tenacious and relentless, following its creator's instructions explicitly without regard to strategy. Therefore, a grisgol's spell usage is scripted ahead of time by its creator, unless its creator is within 60 feet of the golem and is able to issue commands.

Choking Dust (Ex): Striking the golem with any kind of implement other than a piercing weapon invites a disease-causing, choking cloud of dust and mold to explode from the creature. All within a 10-foot radius must make a DC 23 Fortitude save or take 1d4 points of Constitution damage. Those who fail the first Fortitude save must make another DC 23 Fortitude save (adjusted by their new Constitution score) or contract the slimy doom disease (see page 292 of the Dungeon Master's Guide) in 24 hours. The save DC is Strength-based.

Damaging Touch (Ex): As with the lich that animates it, the touch of a grisgol deals 1d8+5 points of negative energy damage to living creatures (Will DC 19 half). The save DC is Charisma-based.

Paralyzing Touch (Su): The slam attack of a grisgol causes permanent paralysis unless the subject succeeds on a DC 19 Fortitude save. Remove paralysis or any spell that can remove a curse can free the victim (see the bestow curse spell description, page 203 of the Player's Handbook). The effect cannot be dispelled. Anyone paralyzed by a grisgol seems dead, though a DC 20 Spot check or a DC 15 Heal check reveals the victim to be alive. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Spell-Like Abilities: A grisgol is created with the ability to use ten different spells as spell-like abilities (one each of levels 0 through 9th), each one once per day. These spells can vary based on the creator's whim, and are either cleric spells (if the animating lich was a cleric) or sorcerer/wizard spells (if the animating lich was a sorcerer or wizard). Most creators choose simple spells, reasoning that the grisgol's lack of intelligence prevents it from using strategy. The save DCs are 10 + 1-1/2 the spell's level (much like a magic item). Caster level 20th.

Typical Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day -- chain lightning (DC 19), feeblemind (DC 17), hold person (DC 14), horrid wilting (DC 22), ice storm, meteor swarm (DC 23), power word blind, scorching ray (+17 melee touch), shield, touch of fatigue (+17 melee touch, DC 10). Caster level 20th.

Immunity to Magic (Ex): A grisgol is immune to any spell or spell-like ability that allows spell resistance. In addition, certain spells and effects function differently against a grisgol, as noted below.

Erase delivered as a touch attack on a grisgol deals 2d6 points of damage to the creature (no save).

Casting secret page on a grisgol renders it invisible as the invisibility spell.

Incite Madness (Sp): After a grisgol is killed, anyone examining the strips of scroll parchment or tome pages that comprise the creature's wrappings invokes a curse that renders the reader insane (Will DC 19 negates). The victim of this insanity becomes convinced that the thousands of scraps of parchment contain great and lost arcane secrets, and that he must discover these secrets by painstakingly fitting every last piece of ripped parchment and torn page back together in the right order. He dedicates every waking hour to this massive undertaking, barely pausing to eat or rest, in order to finish this task as fast as possible. The victim always thinks, and tries to convince others, that he is on the brink of a revelation. His personal study becomes cluttered with diagrams, charts, and plans extrapolating how the pieces might fit together, constantly rearranging them to fit current theories or hunches.

The subject takes 1 point of Intelligence drain when the curse is first activated, and takes another point of Intelligence drain every week the curse continues uncured. The subject dies when he or she reaches 0 Intelligence.

The Intelligence drain can't be restored while the curse is active. Only a limited wish or similarly powerful magic can relieve a victim of this curse.

Construction

A grisgol's body is a haphazard collection of old magic wands, staffs, potions, miscellaneous items, and, most importantly, scraps of scrolls and magic tomes. This costs approximately 10,000 gp. Assembling the body requires a DC 25 Craft (bookbinding) check.

The creator of a grisgol must also capture a lich's phylactery and use it in the grisgol's construction. The creator first must facilitate the destruction of the lich whose phylactery he or she wants to use. After the lich's body is destroyed, the creator of the grisgol must finalize construction before the lich returns (usually in 1d10 days). If the lich returns before the grisgol is completed, the lich must be destroyed again. Animating the grisgol while the lich is still in limbo binds the essence of the lich to the grisgol.

If a grisgol is to be given the ability to cast a spell with a material component worth more than 100 gp or any XP component, the creator must include 50 of that material component or spend 50 times the XP cost as part of the creation. If the grisgol is to be given the ability to cast a spell with a focus, the creator must include the focus as part of the creation.

CL 19th; Craft Construct (see page 303 of the Monster Manual), control undead, geas/quest, illusory script, insanity, limited wish, mending, polymorph any object, plus all spells to be included in the grisgol, caster must be at least 19th level; Price 210,000 gp; Cost 110,000 gp + 8,000 XP.

Grisgols in Eberron

The lich queen Vol uses devout agents and misguided adventurers to hunt down other liches and capture their phylacteries. Once she acquires a lich's phylactery, Vol binds the lich's spirit to a grisgol. Vol's grisgols are sometimes encountered in secret temples inhabited by Blood of Vol cultists or in locations where signs of the draconic Prophecy (see page 130 of the Eberron Campaign Setting) have manifested.

Grisgols in Faerûn

The ruins of Zhentil Keep hold many unpleasant surprises for adventurers, not the least of which is a grisgol fueled by the life essence of a powerful Zhent lich named Leneka Jheth. Thayan wizards have also unlocked the secrets of creating these foul constructs and often use them to guard their magic troves or retrieve items that have been wrongfully taken from them.

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