Monster of the Week: Crystal Fold Guardian

One of the things I enjoy the most about roleplaying games is creation aspect.  World building, character building, designing history for people, places and things.  In 4th Edition I can get this joy from creating monsters as well.  I could do the same in 3rd and 3.5e, but it was much more difficult to create a monster since there was no set way of doing it.  You never knew if the party was going to be utterly obliterated, but 4th edition gives a very nice yet flexible design route that is easily adaptable to your needs.

I spend a lot of time creating or modifying monsters to fit what I feel they should be able and how they can perform well as a group.  My normal update is every Monday, but I will now also post a new monster every Thursday as well.  Today I present to you the Crystal Fold Guardian.

This is the Arcane Guardian from WoW TCG, and how I imagine the Crystal Fold Guardian looks.

Deep beneath the Earth lies an ancient tomb dedicated to one task:  Holding the spirit of the primal dragon Balanoth, an ancient creature that nearly tore the world asunder in years past.  Long since dead, the prison holds his immortal essence preventing him from reforming a physical body and bringing his reign of terror back to the world.  The prison must be constantly monitored, however.  Balanoth is a creature of raw, untainted magical energy and only a perfect balance of elemental forces can hold him.  His prison is comprised of the four primary elements*: Earth, Fire, Air, and Water.  If they were to become too far out of balance he could break free and reform.

To prevent this, a small hidden temple has been established.  Only through a specific portal, which can only be opened with the proper spell and elemental powers, can access be granted to his chamber.  The temple provides a remote monitoring location where the energies within the cell can be adjusted and maintained.  Originally operated by the forerunners, it has been maintained through the recent millennia by the warforged.  A failsafe is in effect as well:  Should the alignment of the elements holding Balanoth shift too far, the Crystal Fold Guardians will activate and correct the issue or subdue those that may attempt to release the bound evil.

The Crystal Fold

The crystal fold is home to four guardians, each one supporting a huge pillar.  When a sufficient threat is detected they activate, dropping their pillar into the floor beneath them.  From above a pillar of energy pours down empowering the guardian and or any creature that stands beneath it.

Each guardian is charged with a particular element which gives its attacks particular powers.  Their job is to subdue any threat and restore the balance of the prison.

Crystal Fold Guardian

level 14 Elite Brute

Large elemental animate (varies)

XP 2,000

HP 400; Bloodied 200

AC 27; Fortitude 27; Reflex 26; Will 27

Speed 6

Immune varies (ether absorption); Resist 15 non-elemental, 10 varies (see elemental flux and aether absorption); Vulnerability 10 varies (see elemental flux and aether absorption)

Saving Throws +2; Action Points 1

Initiative +10

Perception +10


Aether absorption

If the crystal fold guardian would take damage of its elemental alignment it instead regains that many hit points. It has vulnerability 10 to the secondary associated
element, resist 10 to all other elements and resist 15 to non-elemental

Threatening Reach

The guardian threatens all squares within its reach (2 squares)

Standard Actions

M Elemental Slam (varies) • At-Will

Attack: Reach 2; +17 vs. AC

Hit: 2d8 + 6 elemental damage and an additional effect based on the guardian’s current element:

Fire — target slides 1 square and makes a basic attack;

Wind — slides 3 squares;

Water — ongoing 10 poison (save ends);

Earth – knocked prone;

Primal Blast • Recharge 5 6

Attack: Close blast 3; +15 vs.Fortitude

Hit: 4d8 + 5 damage of the current element and an additional effect on the target depending on the element.  In addition, the blast area create a zone that lasts until the end of the encounter or until it is overwritten by an opposing element.

Fire — the target is dazed (save ends), and the ground is ignited.  any creature

who enters or starts its turn in the blast zone takes 10 fire damage;

Air — The target grants combat advantage (save ends) and the air in the blast

becomes a zone of turbulence.  Any creature that starts or enters the blast

zone must make a saving throw or is slid 1 square in a random direction.

Earth — the target is blinded (save ends) and the zone becomes difficult terrain.

Water — the target is slowed (save ends) and the blast zone becomes slippery.

Any creature entering the zone must make a DC 20 acrobatics check or fall


Minor Actions

Elemental Flux • Recharges when powering up

Effect: The guardian draws strength from the aether to become empowered by a
random element. It gains Immunity to that element, vulnerable 10 to a secondary element, and has its abilities modified based on the current element.
1– Fire (Water);

2 — Air (Fire);

3 — Earth (Air);

4 — Water (Earth).

Triggered Actions

Power Down • At-Will

Requirements: Must use when triggered

Trigger: When the guardian has taken 50 damage to its vulnerable element.

Effect (Immediate Reaction): The guardian powers down (save ends). While powered down its core is exposed, the guardian is stunned, and it takes half damage from all attacks except those of its core’s current element. If it is hit by the next two elements in the cycle the guardian takes 100 damage, which cannot be reduced, and powers back up. (so if it was originally Earth, it would be powered down by Water, then overloaded with Fire then Air.);

Earth – Yellow; Air – White; Fire – Red; Water – Blue.

For the sake of the third edition system, Poison damage can be considered water damage, thunder can be considered air, and … well, I don’t know what would be earth.  I use force for raw energy.

The guardians are straightforward in combat and brute force will not yield victory.  They attack the nearest target using primal blast whenever possible to incapacitate multiple enemies.  Their resistance protects them, but they are vulnerable to another element.  Damaging them extensively shorts out their circuits causing them to go through a reboot cycle.  The cycle can be overloaded, however, causing severe damage and potentially shutting down the guardian.

It is not expected that any individual would be able to quickly dispatch the guardians on their own for very few have access to elemental attacks.  A wise interloper would take advantage of the guardians own power source: the energy falling from the ceiling.  Standing in any of the affected squares gives the following benefits, depending on the element:

Embrace of the Flame (save sustains)

  • Resist 10 fire
  • Attacks deal water damage
  • Can attack during a move
  • -1 penalty to all defenses each round

Embrace of the Earth (save sustains)

  • Resist 10 all
  • Attacks deal earth damage
  • -2 Speed each round

Embrace of the Wind (save sustains)

  • Resist 10 air
  • Attacks deal thunder damage
  • Shift 2 squares as a move, or 1 square as a minor
  • -2 hit each round

Embrace of the Storm (save sustains)

  • Resist 10 Water
  • Attacks deal poison damage
  • +5 healing surge value
  • -3 damage penalty each round

The penalty increases each round.  Many would not be willing to continue sustaining their effect after the second or third round causing them to want to move.  If a character ends their turn in a square that provides an embrace they automatically succeed the saving throw for that embrace.

Michael McElrath

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