A retriever was a living construct created by foul sorcery to operate as warriors and servants for powerful demon nobles of the Abyss. They specialized in tracking objects and individuals that their masters desired, hence their name.
Retrievers resembled giant spiders with four forelegs ending in large cleaver-like blades, and four rear limbs that were used for walking and that carried most of their weight. Their legs spanned over 14 feet (4.3 meters), but they normally stood 12 feet (3.6 meters) tall, twice as tall as a human. A retriever's body size ranged in size from that of an ox to a mammoth, weighing an astonishing 6,500 pounds (2948.4 kilograms). Despite their overwhelming weight, they were agile and quick to an unnerving degree. They had two primary eyes and four smaller eyes that gleamed malevolently as they peaked out from their carapace. Incoherent whispers and clickings were emitted from them, but they could not truly speak.
Retrievers had low intelligence bordering on mindlessness, unerringly striving to complete their tasks until completion or death. Despite their one-track minds, they still had time for cruelty. They would constantly seek to combine malice and petty sadism into the execution of their tasks, but their foremost goal was to complete their missions.
Retrievers could quickly rip and rend most foes apart with their four claws, but rarely used their mandibles in combat, saving them for seizing their targets. Their most dangerous weapon however was their eyes, the smaller of which were capable of emitting magical rays. Known effects were flame, frost, electrocution, paralysis, acid, pure force, and even petrification.
Retrievers could find anything that their masters had seen, touched, or possessed a piece of so long as they knew the plane it resided on. They could be instructed to track specific quarries, or be given a category to work within. Not only did they know the location of their targets at all times, but they knew that of their masters as well.
Retrievers used their eye rays whenever possible and, if forced to wait until they recharged, viciously savaged their enemies with their claws. When given a target they incessantly focused on that enemy before grabbing them and swiftly plane shifting them away. Occasionally, other demons would accompany retrievers on their hunts by mounting howdahs on the arachnoids and riding them during the trip.
Retrievers were especially valuable to the lords of the Abyss, as their dedication and determination were something hard to come by. Other tanar'ri very rarely tried to interfere in a retriever's work as doing so often incurred the wrath of a demon lord.
Their purpose was to hunt down and haul back whatever their master wanted, whether an enemy, an escaped slave, or a lost or coveted item. Their demon masters employed them for tasks too ugly for their own hands or that other demons could not be trusted with. It was highly unlikely that one would find a retriever not currently following some order and if they weren't they were normally waiting outside their master's castle waiting for new commands.
The original inventors of the retrievers was a contested topic. Some claimed that they were originally made by Demogorgon, who crafted them with Abyssal matter and evil spirits in order to hunt down his foes. Graz'zt and Pazrael also had retrievers but whether the two created them on their own or for whatever reason received them from Demogorgon was unknown. Other purported that retrievers were the work of ancient primordials that demons learned how to command and began using for their dark bidding. Some said that retrievers were initially created by the drow in order to traverse the Abyss while collecting demons for use in their rituals. However, drow with access to retrievers rarely gave them to others in order to prevent the risk of the automatons being used against them.
Those who purported they were Demogorgon's creations claimed he modeled them after bebiliths, but those who favored the drow theory thought they had that appearance because the drow imprisoned bebilith spirits in their constructs.
Once a great wizard stole a jewel of great power from Demogorgon, arrogantly believing that his tower's many wards against fiends would protect him from retribution. In the dark of the night, a retriever managed to break into his home before kidnapping him and fleeing the premises, either due to the weakness of his protections or because the constructed nature of retrievers allowed them to bypass such countermeasures.
- Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 222. ISBN 978-0786966240.
- Rob Heinsoo, Stephen Schubert (May 19, 2009). Monster Manual 2 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 177. ISBN 0786995101.
- Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 46–47. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
- Richard Baker (October 1995). Monstrous Compendium Planescape Appendix II. Edited by Karen S. Boomgarden. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 82–83. ISBN 0-7869-0173-X.
- Don Turnbull (1981). Fiend Folio. (TSR Hobbies), p. 75. ISBN 0-9356-9621-0.
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Undead spiders: Wraith spider