Thursday, October 13, 2011


Of all the monsters introduced in the “basic” Dungeons & Dragons Gazetteer series, it’s hard to believe that the choker, from Aaron Allston’s GAZ 6 The Dwarves of Rockhome, has been one of the most enduring.  (It’s certainly not because of its original baby-bodied illustration—Stephen Fabian was a wizard at wizards and city skylines, but he was no monster designer.)  But it got the bump to AD&D, then 3.0 (boosted by Wayne Reynolds art) and now Pathfinder.  With every incarnation the choker gets creepier and creepier, cementing its status as an iconic dungeon dweller.

Despite their love of gold, dwarves put kin and clan first, by long tradition and by taboo.  Those who grasp their coins and gems too greedily are said to lose their beards and shrink in on themselves while reaching ever after more wealth.  Eventually they become chokers, hungrily seeking the flesh of those they neglected in life.

In the Hollow Halls, one of the most defensible campsites borders a small crevasse, prompting many adventurers to stop there.  Recently a choker has moved into the area and begun to pick off careless sentries one by one.  He has learned to manipulate the echoes in the canyon so that any cries for help seem to come from deep in the crevasse, as if from a fallen comrade, while he safely makes his escape upwards.

The City of Chimneys, Smelton is blessed with abundant coal and many nearby forests to fuel its tightly packed townhomes’ fires.  Smelton is also home to a renowned guild of chimney sweeps that sing as they work.  They may sound like characters out of some children’s panto, but these slender sweeps are actually bards whose songs boost the courage of their fellows—for Smelton’s rooftops are also home to many chokers displaced by the coal mining.

Pathfinder Bestiary 45

1 comment:

  1. I’ve posited one origin for chokers. The Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix blames cannibalistic goblins; Eric Cagle’s Dragon Magazine “Ecology” blames corrupted gnomes or drowcraft.