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Battleloths were a subgroup of yugoloths that served as the literal tools of their masters, created to serve as weapons for war. Each subtype two forms, a weapon form and humanoid form, that they used as needed ranging from arrows, axes, crossbows, picks, spiked chains, and swords.
Description[edit | edit source]
Each battleloth subtype looked different not only in weapon but in humanoid form as well, with their humanoid forms reflecting some portion of their weapon form.
Arrow battleloths looked like a simple barbed-steel arrow in their weapon form. In their humanoid form, they appeared as brown-skinned, feathered creatures with steel arrowheads for claws.
Axe battleloths took on the appearance of bronze greataxes with spikes on the head, a leering visage engraved on the blade, and sharp fangs on the edges. Their humanoid form was that of gray, diminutive beings with a bony ridge along their foreheads sharp enough to act as a blade.
As weapons, crossbow battleloths were light wood and iron crossbows with wicked faces where the bow joined to the stock. Their other form was a pale, uncannily wide-mouthed humanoid.
Pick battleloths took the forms of heavy, brass picks with hollow heads and a tiny hole in the point, while in their humanoid forms they were slender and long limbed, with mosquito-like faces.
In their weapon form, spiked chain battleloths appeared as a length of blackened, spike-covered steel chain. They appeared as five lengths of spiked chains radiating from a central point, each one functioning as a limb and one as a head, while in their humanoid form.
Personality[edit | edit source]
Battleloths were both devious and greedy beings who at any point could turn on their employers in favor of a higher bidder and who treasured any valuables including gold, gems, and magical items.
Arrow battleloths were the most complaintive and whining of the battleloths. They often nitpicked and abused the wording of their contracts in order to avoid most work.
Axe battleloths were notoriously dense, their ability to communicate limited to only a few short words. When negotiating employment contracts, their method was to simple state their terms over and over again until the potential employer either agreed or quit the negotiations altogether. They enjoyed fighting, however, and were always eager to do so in either form.
Crossbow battleloths were pragmatists who felt no loyalty or attachment to their employers, seeing what they did as nothing more than providing a service. They did not particularly enjoy nor dislike combat. If a crossbow battleloth felt like breaking its bond to its current employer, it would blatantly inform foes how much it would take buy their services; if the current employer grew angry and attacked, the battleloth would simply take the "betrayal" as an excuse to leave with its payment.
Pick battleloths were vicious and predatory; their constant thirst for blood making them eager to strike bargains so long as their employer promised plenty of fighting. It was not uncommon for their love of battle to overcome their discipline, making them difficult to control.
Spiked chain battleloths were aggressive and enjoyed hunting for sport, their preferred prey being other battleloths, although the sword battleloths earned their reluctant respect.
Sword battleloths were the most prideful, considering themselves the elite of the battleloths types. They preferred to stay in weapon form out of practicality, reducing their exposure to danger. They were wily, independent, and hard bargainers that would only ally with creatures who promised plenty of opportunities for success in combat, glory, and loot.
Abilities[edit | edit source]
Like all yugoloths, battleloths possessed darkvision, an immunity to both poison and acid, and some measure of resistance to cold, electricity, and fire. However, they were not known to speak any conventional languages, instead relying on their telepathy to communicate with creatures within 100 feet (30 meters) of themselves.
Battleloths could easily and frequently switch between their forms as they wished; in their weapon form they remained aware of their surroundings and were even capable of casting spells that did not require material or somatic components, although few cared to learn spellcasting at all.
Arrow battleloths could fly and, in their arrow form, change direction after being shot in order to hit creatures behind cover or even ones that the archer could not see.
Crossbow battleloths in their humanoid forms could manifest and spit bone shards from their mouths at creatures up to 80 feet (24 meters) away from themselves. In their weapon form, they could help aim themselves and also cock and prepare to fire on their own, only requiring the wielder to reload and help aim.
Pick battleloths in both forms had a hollow head (in weapon form) or "beak" (in humanoid form) through which they drank blood. They could attach themselves to an opponent while in either form, although doing so forced them into humanoid form, and would then proceed to try and drain their victim of blood.
Combat[edit | edit source]
Battleloths, although most of them enjoyed fighting, were not reckless or foolhardy combatants. They might stay as weapons during a fight or transform to fight on their own after striking an enemy. Most demons and devils who made use of them felt the element of surprise was worth the inconvenience of having to carry an extra blade. As creatures created for war, battleloths possessed an innate talent for learning combat maneuvers and advanced tactics, although a few might attempt to study magic.
Arrow battleloths believed their only combat function was to act as ammunition, and thus they would stay in weapon form or try to escape after being fired, unless their opponent was obviously weaker than them. When not employed, they would flee rather than fight, although they were also known to form small quivers that robbed the feeble or injured.
When wielded in combat, axe battleloths were capable of making an extra bite attack on their own while in weapon form. When on their own, they spent their spare time sharpening their ridges before using them to destroy random objects such as trees of rocks, although if bothered would turn their blades against any annoyance with stalwart courage.
Crossbow battleloths allowed their wielder to lay down a steady stream of fire while in weapon form. In humanoid form, they would bite or shoot bone shards from their mouths at opponents. However, they preferred to remain ranged rather than engaging in melee.
Driven not by hunger for battle but hunger for blood, battleloths were usually driven into an opponent and allowed to drink their fill so that they could be relied upon later. Even when in the form of picks they immediately latched onto their first target and refused to let go under any circumstances, draining the victim's blood until they were dead. Their small stature and physical weakness was contrasted by their constant activity regardless of employment status, always seeking out conflict so as to ambush the injured and dying on the edges of a battlefield.
Spiked chain battleloths constricted their opponents, tripping and entangling them regardless of form. While the battleloth wrapped up their foes their masters could strike unabated. When hunting independently, they ambushed foes through tripping or attacks from above in order to catch opponents before they could fight back.
Sword battleloths preferred to remain in longsword form to reduce the danger to themselves, which they saw as pragmatism rather than cowardice. They could aid their wielder by bending and shifting their blade to get past an enemy's guard to to deflect attacks, even to the point of practically making an attack on their own. When encountered alone, without a master, they fought with caution and care, preferring to strike at the perfect time rather than attack from a suboptimal position.
Society[edit | edit source]
Although battleloths were useful mercenaries, their love for treasure could fill a buyer with regret in the middle of battle when a foe offered a better bargain. Before undertaking any job they demanded half the payment first, but simply contacting them required the use of an appropriate summoning spell. Those of greater skill and ability preferred to work as equals rather than subordinates, often alongside demons, devils, evil clerics, blackguards, or other villainous agents.
Arrow battleloths were frequently hired as spies that snuck into the quivers of enemies before gathering valuable information about their allies, strategies, and future goals before escaping after being fired.
Spiked chain battleloths were a favorite of demons and devils that had already mastered the normal weapon.
Despite their complete lack of loyalty, crossbow battleloths were the most often sought after of the race due to their versatile combat utility.
Though they could work alone, all battleloths were also known to function in groups ranging in number from 3-20. Groups of axe and crossbow battleloths were called squads, picks gathered into mobs, spiked chains into swarms, arrows into "quivers" and swords into "lances".
Summoning[edit | edit source]
Battleloths could be summoned by mortal spellcasters by using the appropriate summon monster spell, although doing so to specifically summon one caused that spell to count as an evil spell. Arrow battleloths could be summoned using summon monster II; axe, pick, and crossbow battleloths could be summoned by summon monster III; and sword and spiked chain battleloths could be called by summon monster IV.
History[edit | edit source]
At one point in history, the battleloths struck a bargain with a mortal wizard as part of a larger plan to bring down a particularly successful pit fiend general known as Balruhk the Invincible. However, this ended in disastrous consequences when the spell meant to bind Bahlruk, despite working, devastated both the pit fiend's forces and the tanar'ri hordes sent by demon lords that Bahlruk's rivals were conspiring with.
For their part in the plan, the battleloths who served that pit fiend betrayed him on the fields of battle. The exact nature of betrayal was unknown, although the battleloths asked a very high price for doing so. In the aftermath, there was a sharp drop in the number of offers of employment offered to the yugoloths as a whole. Furious with the battleloths, it was decreed by the other yugoloths that they were forbidden from gathering in groups larger than thirty, and from accepting employment from mortals, for the next three centuries. This caused the battleloths to fall into obscurity among mortal spellcasters as they were suddenly unable to make deals with them.