Monster Mayhem
The Gravbeast
By Skip Williams

The deeper the prospectors pushed into the rift, the higher the sheer canyon walls rose around them, and soon the group was trudging through deep shadow. Mylinna, a sharp-eyed halfling traveling at the rear of the group, looked skyward and fancied that she could see stars overhead, though Atuton, the group's wizard and scholar, had once assured her that such a thing wasn't possible in daylight.

Even though no danger was apparent, the halfling felt uneasy. Her comrades' footsteps echoed in the narrow canyon, making her feel as though the group was traipsing through some roofless dungeon. Her unease grew as the party moved along until she could feel the hair rise on the back of her neck. Thinking that she heard a sound from above, she halted and scanned the canyon walls once again. There it was! Some catlike beast, as big as a tiger, was running like a lizard along the stony wall.

With a hiss of warning to the others, Mylinna loosed a bullet from her sling. The missile seemed to fly true, but suddenly it veered away before it could strike home. At that very moment, Mylinna felt herself pulled violently upward. She managed to stop her ascent by grabbing onto a fissure in the rock wall, but every one of her companions shot upward almost as swiftly as Mylinna's bullet had. The halfling watched in horror as her friends' upward rise suddenly ended, leaving them bobbing defenselessly in the air. The strange beast bared its fangs and loped along the wall toward them, greed burning in its eyes. . . .

Gravbeast
Large Magical Beast
Hit Dice: 6d10+24 (57 hp)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares), climb 40 ft.
Armor Class: 19 (-1 size, +3 Dex, +7 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 16
Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+19
Attack: Bite +10 melee (1d8+5)
Full Attack: Bite +10 (1d8+5) and 4 claws +8 melee (1d6+2)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Knockdown, powerful pounce, reverse gravity
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 3/ --, darkvision 60 ft., gravatic stability, gravatic turbulence, low-light vision, personal gravity, scent
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +8, Will +5
Abilities: Str 20, Dex 17, Con 18, Int 7, Wis 16, Cha 10
Skills: Balance +7, Climb +13, Hide +6*, Jump +17, Listen +5, Move Silently +9, Spot +5, Survival +7
Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Multiattack, Track(B)
Environment: Temperate forest, hill, or mountains
Organization: Solitary, pair, or pride (6-10)
Challenge Rating: 6
Treasure: 1/10 coins; 50% goods; 50% items
Alignment: Usually lawful evil
Advancement: 7-9 HD (Large); 10-18 HD (Huge)

The creature walks on six thick but otherwise feline legs. A luxurious pelt with alternating stripes of blue-black and tawny gold covers its low, wide form. Its head and body look decidedly catlike.

Many scholars believe that the rare and bizarre gravbeast is related to the equally bizarre displacer beast. Whatever its origins, the gravbeast is a deadly carnivore with a short temper and an apparently insatiable appetite for fresh meat. It favors warm-blooded prey but may attack and eat nearly anything. To a gravbeast, any living creature is a potential meal, and it usually attacks anything it meets. Like displacer beasts, gravbeasts loathe blink dogs, and the two creatures attack each other ruthlessly when their paths cross.

A gravbeast looks like a massive, six-legged cat. Its 10-foot-long body resembles that of a Bengal tiger, but the creature is built lower and heavier thanks to its very dense flesh. It weighs about 800 pounds, and when it stands up on all six legs, the top of its head is only about 2 feet above the ground.

Gravbeasts speak Common.

Combat

Despite its bloodlust, a gravbeast is cunning enough to wait for a favorable moment to attack. When faced with particularly large or powerful prey, it often hangs back and tracks its victim for a while, waiting until its prey drops its guard to pounce. In battle, the gravbeast usually rears up on its hindmost legs so that it can claw with its other four feet while biting.

Knockdown (Su): When a gravbeast pounces and hits with one or more claw attacks, the force of the blow might literally knock the opponent to the ground, thanks to the gravbeast's ability to increase its own mass (see Powerful Pounce, below). The gravbeast can attempt a knockdown as a free action without making a touch attack or provoking an attack of opportunity. The knockdown is resolved as though it were a trip attack made by a Huge creature (+8 size bonus; +13 bonus on trip attempts for the creature as presented here). If the attempt fails, the opponent cannot react to trip the gravbeast.

Powerful Pounce (Su): A gravbeast can pounce on prey like a great cat. Unlike a mere animal, however, it can literally increase its mass when leaps on a foe. When a gravbeast charges, it makes six claw attacks and deals double damage on each hit. Thus, each claw deals 2d6+4 points of damage. The gravbeast cannot bite when using this ability.

If supernatural effects are suppressed in the locale where a gravbeast charges, the creature still can make a pounce attack as an extraordinary ability. In that case, it makes six claw attacks, each of which deals 1d6+2 points of damage.

Reverse Gravity (Su): A gravbeast can literally reverse the gravity in an area of its choice. This ability works like the reverse gravity spell, except that the range is 60 feet, the duration is 6 rounds, and the area affected is a cylinder 20 feet in diameter and 40 feet high. The Reflex save DC (when applicable) is 17, and this save DC is Charisma-based.

A gravbeast usually uses this power to break up groups of foes, aiming the effect so that enemies it does not want to fight are in the area of reversed gravity, then attacking any foes left behind. Once the gravbeast activates this ability, it cannot use it again for 2d4+2 rounds.

Gravatic Stability (Su): At will, a gravbeast can instantly alter its mass so that it weighs anywhere from its usual 800 pounds to four times that amount. Using this ability does not require an action, and the gravbeast can alter its mass even when caught flat-footed or during another creature's turn. In any situation in which increased size would help the gravbeast (such as a bull rush, grapple, trip, or overrun), treat it as a Huge creature (+8 size bonus, already included in the grapple modifier given above). If this ability is suppressed, the gravbeast presented here has a grapple bonus of +15.

Gravatic Turbulence (Su): A gravbeast can surround itself with an aura of varying gravity that can foil ranged attacks by deflecting the projectile or thrown weapon. While this power is active, any ranged attack other than a ray has a 50% miss chance.

Once activated, this effect lasts for 6 rounds and cannot be activated again for 2d4+2 rounds. A gravbeast typically uses this power to protect itself from ranged attacks that foes caught in its reverse gravity power may launch against it.

Personal Gravity (Su): At will, a gravbeast can instantly reverse the direction of gravity's pull in relation to itself. Using this ability does not require an action, and the gravbeast can reverse its own gravity even when caught flat-footed or during another creature's turn. If this effect is suppressed, the gravbeast loses its climb speed and its racial bonus on Climb and Jump checks. While it is active, the gravbeast automatically succeeds on Climb checks, takes no damage from falls, and can use levitate (as the spell, caster level 6th) at will.

Skills: A gravbeast receives a +8 racial bonus on Climb and Jump checks, thanks to its personal gravity ability. It also has a +4 racial bonus on Balance, Hide, Move Silently, and Survival checks. In areas of tall grass or heavy undergrowth, its racial bonus on Hide checks increases to +8.

About the Author

Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies. Skip is a co-designer of the D&D 3rd Edition game and the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, as well as the chief architect of the Monster Manual. When not devising swift and cruel deaths for player characters, Skip putters in his kitchen or garden (his borscht gets rave reviews).


1995-2008 Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.