Dwarves have many foes within their mountainous environments, and while the aurumvorax may not be among the most deadly, there are reasons why the Stout Folk hunt it regularly. The aurumvorax, or "golden gorger" as some call it, inhabits light forests at the timberlines of mountain ranges, often lairing near dwarven settlements for one reason: Both dwarves and gorgers prefer to live near rich ore veins of precious metals.
These creatures become serious pests among the dwarves due to their clawing and biting away of metallic decorations (or more important metal implements) in and around dwarven homes. The claws of an aurumvorax score stone floors and walls, and this alone makes them pests enough for the dwarves to hunt.
However, they're also important dwarven prey due to their hides, claws, and teeth. With a diet of precious metals (supplementing their carnivorous diet), their claws and teeth become solid alloys of copper and bone, while their hides take on a metallic golden sheen. Given the beauty and density of these hides, a gorger's pelt can become armor, but more often serves as a wedding gift from groom to bride.
In fact, a rite of passage for young dwarf grooms and their friends -- hunting down a gorger to claim its hide -- takes place three weeks before a wedding. Typical tactics include scattering an area where gorgers are known to hunt with a mixture of gold shavings and goats' blood, leading a trail into a pre-arranged spot. Then, to avoid undue damage to either the dwarves or the pelt itself, the trail leads into a box canyon or other enclosed area where the hunters can stab at the creature from above with long pikes or from the sides with axes. The tactics involve stabbing at the back of the skull with a pike to hopefully pin it well, then chopping off the creature's eight feet so it bleeds to death without battle-ruining its claws, teeth, and pelt.
If the hunt succeeds, the dwarves can make the pelt into either a wedding bed fur or a wedding cape for the bride. Its teeth strung on silver wire form a small wedding tiara, and its claws can be made into wedding daggers for the feast or an elaborate necklace for the bride. A bride with all these items could see herself weighed down by more than 40 lbs. of precious metals!
Unlike the dwarves' hunting methods, the combat tactics of the aurumvorax are relatively unsophisticated, since its animal intelligence allows only a rudimentary craftiness. They tend to attack only if cornered or if something invades their territory. They are most dangerous if they can lock their jaws onto an opponent and then rend that foe with four or more of its eight claws.
Small Magical Beast
Hit Dice: 10d10+10 (65)
Initiative: +7 (Dex)
Speed: 20 ft.; burrow 5
AC: 23 (+1 size, +3 Dex, +9 natural)
Attacks: Bite +11 melee, 4 claws +9 melee
Damage: Bite 1d4, claw 1d3 each
Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft. / 5 ft.
Special Attacks: Improved Grab, Rend 2d3
Saves: Fortitude +8, Reflex +10, Will +0
Abilities: Str 11, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 3, Wis 12, Cha 12
Skills: Listen +7, Spot +7, Hide +9, Move Silently +4
Feats: Improved Initiative, Multiattack (claws), Iron Will
Climate/Terrain: Temperate hills and mountains
Challenge Rating: 7
Treasure: Special (The aurumvorax's hide, if undamaged, is worth in excess of 3,000 gp.
Alignment: Always neutral
Aurumvoraxes are carnivores with a diet supplemented by precious metals, generally gold. Their burrows often continue into solid rock and are usually littered with nuggets of ore as a food supply. The typical golden gorger is 3 feet long with coppery metallic alloy claws and and metallic fur that distracts enemies with its sheen even while the creature fights for one's life.
As simple animals, they do not speak a language, and their innate jealousy at guarding their territory makes them uncooperative animals at best to encounter.
Near totally fearless, aurumvoraxes charge into battle whenever they feel their territory or themselves threatened. They can also be lured out by the prospects of easy food, especially when refined gold is part of the lure.
While they rarely hesitate in battle, they always attack with their powerful bites first. Once that is engaged, they utilize their sharp claws. They commonly attack with at least two claws, but can use claw attacks depending on where they have locked onto a foe.
Improved Grab: For this ability, the aurumvorax must use its bite attack successfully on a creature of up to Large size. If it gets a hold, it deals normal bite damage and then locks its jaws at the point of contact (usually the neck or trunk of an opponent) and continues to grind its teeth in the wound for 8 automatic points of damage per round. This locked jaw will not relax until either the prey or the gorger is dead.
Rend: If the aurumvorax successfully hits with two or more claw attacks in any round, it begins to burrow into the opponent's body. This attack automatically deals an additional 2d6 + 2 points of damage.
About the Author
Steven E. Schend thinks any wizard worth his salt should have at least 75 books piled about his tower with a cat sleepily perched atop them. Born in Wisconsin in 1967, Steven fell into the world of fantasy quite quickly, growing up on L. Frank Baum's Oz books and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan and Barsoom novels. From 1990 to this year, Steven has been with TSR/Wizards of the Coast. He began his career as an editor and worked on a multitude of projects including the D&D Cyclopedia. By 1994 he had found his home as a designer in the Forgotten Realms, and he's enjoyed swapping tall tales with Elminster and company ever since, as well as his recent entry into the science fiction worlds of the Alternity game system and the wild game world of Marvel Comics. Steven has written more than 50 game products and magazine articles, as well as one published short story, though he now makes vague attempts at playwriting and screenplays as well.