The bereaver was created by my brother during our first campaign as co-DMs. We had slavishly followed the Monster Manual rules regarding treasure, and the party had enough low level weapons and armor, and miscellaneous magic to equip a small army. The bereaver corrects this problem.

This version is updated, as it can pull spells from a caster’s mind, which makes them even scarier.


Frequency very rare
No. Appearing 1
Armor Class 0
Move 120′
Hit Dice 7 to 11
% in Lair nil
Treasure Type nil
No. of Attacks 2
Damage/Attack 1d10, 1d10
Special Attacks de-magic touch
Special Defenses absorb magic
Magic Resistance 170%
Intelligence non-
Alignment Neutral
Size L (5′-6′ tall)

published in & Magazine Issue 5, Ecology of the Bereaver


The first sight of a bereaver typically frightens the viewer, for this man-sized humanoid creature possesses a skin of a ghastly grey hue, one not normally found on anything but a week old corpse. It appears grossly overweight, with bulbous fat sacs all over its body, including the hideous face. Most creatures’ first instinct is to run, and for spell casters or those with magic items this is good advice indeed!


Bereavers immediately attack spell casters and creatures carrying magic items. They always target the one with the most powerful magic and will fight through other creatures to get at the most powerful magic, although if multiple creatures have roughly the same magic it will generally choose the closest one.

Striking with its two fists, the bereaver inflicts 1d10 points of damage per strike. Any round in which both fists hit, 1d4 randomly selected magic items or spells may be drained of magic. Items must save vs. Disintegrate or be drained of all power; spell casters must save vs. Death Magic or have the spell stripped from their mind. If multiple spells are selected the victim must save separately for each one. Magic items remain a serviceable item of their type (if appropriate) and spell casters can regain their lost spells through their normal process (studying or praying).

Note that the strength of the bereaver affects the saving throw:

HD Saving Throw Modifier
7 -1
8 -2
9 -3
10 -4
11 -5

The absorbed magic gives bereavers greater power, adding hit points that restore damage and can increase their power. Hit points are gained from the absorbing of the power, increasing the bereaver’s hit points with no known limit. Note that points above the bereaver’s maximum drain away at a rate of 1/turn until the bereaver is at the maximum value for its hit dice. As magical constructs they don’t heal normally — absorbing magic fulfills this function for them.

The hit points gained by absorbing the power of magic items and spells is as follows:

Item hp Gained
Spell 1 hp/level
weapon or armor 3 hp + 1 hp/plus
scroll 1 hp + 1 hp/spell
potion 1 hp
rod, staff, or wand 3 hp
ring 3 hp
misc. magic item 2 to 5 hp (DM’s discretion)
intelligent items hp for item + 8 hp

Note that at the DM’s discretion certain more powerful objects may impart additional hp to the absorbing bereaver. Also note that artifacts, relics, and other certain powerful objects may not be subject to draining, but through prolonged contact a bereaver will absorb some magic from the item, restoring lost hit points and growing the bereaver’s strength.

In addition to absorbing the power of magic items and spells in memory, bereavers can also absorb the energy of cast spells. This includes individual spells such as Magic Missile and Charm Monster, as well as area effect spells such as Fireball or Flame Strike. In the case of an area effect spell the spell will execute as expected but the bereaver will “suck in” the power and the effect will disappear. In the case of damaging spells such as Fireball other creatures in the area of effect will suffer minimal damage, e.g., 1 hp/die or no damage if a saving throw is made.

Any spell cast within 30′ of a bereaver or which include the bereaver in the area of effect may be absorbed. Check the bereaver’s magic resistance against the spell — a successful resistance check indicates that the spell has been absorbed. If not, the spell will function normally.

Note: Being mindless these creatures are immune to charm, possession, or illusion spells, or any that affect the mind. However, they are subject to the effects of all other spells that successfully execute.

Also note that bereavers possess an unprecedented resistance to magic. Their 170% resistance means their resistance is based upon 18th level magic, not the typical 11th level. Spells cast by any spell caster below 19th level automatically fail and are absorbed by the creature.

These magical constructs gain hit points from cast spells the same as they do spells drained from a spell caster’s mind.

Magic weapons do not function properly against these terrible monsters. Instead of adding the plus of the weapon to the “to hit” and damage rolls, the value is subtracted from it. Thus when using a +3 weapon a fighter subtracts 3 from each attack roll rather than adding it. If using a cursed weapon the minus value of the weapon applies to both the “to hit” and damage rolls. In any case a minimum of 1 hp of damage will be inflicted by a successful hit.

Note that any magical weapon or other item striking a bereaver must save against the absorption (see above) or have its magic drained. This is in addition to the possible 1d4 items that may be drained each round.


As non-intelligent magical constructs, bereavers have no society. They do not eat, sleep, or breathe. They may be found in any environment, including under water or in a vacuum. They otherwise conform to the normal of humanoid life, e.g., excessively high or low temperatures will burn or freeze them. In the case of burning they are destroyed; for cold they freeze until defrosted.

Note that strong magical locations will attract a bereaver, and it will not leave the vicinity, apparently absorbing background magic while not being capable of draining the magic.


The origins of the bereaver are unknown, as is the motivation of any intelligent creature for creating such a monstrosity. No tome or treatise for creating a bereaver is known to exist.

Bereavers do not eat or breathe, but apparently absorb magic to maintain themselves. The least powerful known is 7 HD, while the most powerful is 11 HD.

They can increase in strength — should a bereaver absorb enough magic to increase its hp total to more than 24 points above its normal maximum its HD will increase by 1, e.g., a 7 HD bereaver normally has a maximum hit point total of 56. Should one increase its total to 80 or more it will become a 8 HD monster with corresponding maximum hit points. 11 hit dice is the known maximum.

When destroyed (reduced to 0 hp or less) the monster immediately breaks down into a grey mush, which stinks terribly (treat as Stinking Cloud) and turns to dust in 1 turn. No known use for the remains has been discovered, and all means to preserve it fail.
It has been reported that a spell caster whose spells were all absorbed but wasn’t killed by the physical damage transformed into a bereaver, but this is hearsay and considered unreliable.


Bereavers are all within the Medium size range (5′ to 6′), and while ghastly looking, certainly do not look exactly alike. Those of greater than 11 HD and/or capable of absorbing more than 4 items/spells per round have been reported, but such reports have not been substantiated.

Level/XP Value

I use the 5% Rule Tables published by Len Lakofka in Dragon Magazine. The following provides XP values for both the AD&D and 5% Rule.

The XP value includes three Special Abilities (de-magic touch, non-magical weapon to hit, absorb magic) and five Exceptional Abilities (extreme high magic resistance).

Hit Dice AD&D 5% Rule
7 HD VII / 1,475 + 8/hp VII / 2,275 + 10/hp
8 HD VII / 2,275 + 10/hp VII / 3,500 + 12/hp
9 HD VIII / 3,500 + 12/hp VIII / 5,250 + 14/hp
10 HD VIII / 5,250 + 14/hp VIII / 6,450 + 15/hp
11 HD IX / 7,650 + 16/hp IX / 7,650 + 16/hp

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