|Khosatral Khel, the Devil in
(circa "The Devil in Iron")
Large Outsider (Chaotic, Evil)
Hit Dice: 18d10 (99 Hit Points)
Initiative: +1 (dex)
Speed: 20 ft (Can't Run)
AC: 33 (-1 Size, +1 Dex, +23 natural)
Attacks: 2 slams +25 melee
Damage: Slam 2d10 +13
Face/Reach: 5 ft by 5 ft/ 10ft
Special Attacks: Darkness 3/day, desecrate, unholy blight, contagion, blasphemy, unholy aura 3/day, unhallow, summon monster IX
Special Qualities: Outsider, magic immunity, damage reduction 50/+3, darkvision 60 ft, immune to poison, acid, cold, electricity and fire resistance 20. Fiendish Will Power
Saves: Fort +6, Ref +5, Will +6
Abilities: Str 37, Dex 13, Con -, Int 18, Wis 11, Cha 17
Skills: Concentration +11, Intimidate +14, Sense Motive +14, Knowledge (Arcana) +15, Knowledge (Religion) +15, Knowledge (Planes) +15, Search +15, Spot +15, Spell craft +14, Listen +14, Intuit Direction +14, Diplomacy +14, Balance +5.
Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike, Power Attack, Cleave, Improved Bull Rush
Challenge Rating: 14
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Advancement: By character class
|The tongue was
Nemedian, but the voice was not human. There was a terrifying
resonance about it, like a bell tolling at midnight.
"There was no life in the Abyss, save that which was incorporated in me," it tolled. "Nor was there light, nor motion, nor any sound. Only the urge behind and beyond life guided and impelled me on my upward journey, blind, insensate, inexorable. Through ages upon ages, and the changeless strata of darkness I climbed..."
The being men called Khosatral Khel crawled up from Night and the Abyss ages ago to clothe itself in the substance of the material universe. But human flesh was too frail, too paltry to hold the terrific essence that was Khosatral Khel. So he stood up in the shape and aspect of a man, but his flesh was not flesh, nor the bone, bone, nor blood, blood. He became a blasphemy against all nature, for he caused to live and think and act a basic substance that before had never known the pulse and stir of animate being.
He stalked through the world like a god, for no earthly weapon could harm him, and to him a century was like an hour. In his wanderings he came upon a primitive people... and it pleased him to give this race culture and civilization, and by his aid they built the city of Dagon and they abode there and worshipped him.
~The Devil in Iron, Robert E. Howard
Khosatral Khel, the ancient from the Abyss, the god of Dagonia, is an outsider encased in a body of iron. He is described by Howard as being clad in sandles, a skirt, and a broad shagreen girdle. His square-cut mane is confined by a circlet of gold. He has monstrous shoulders, a massive chest, bands, ridges, and clusters of muscle on his torso and limbs. His face is without weakness and without mercy. They eyes are balls of dark fire. He is a giant of iron, heavy and strong. Due to his Outsider nature, he is immune to rust attacks.
When he is killed, he changes back to his formless natural shape (Will save DC 25 to view without turning and fleeing.)
Khosatral Khel fights with his iron fists. Although he is capable of great sorcery (he can resurrect the dead in a manner of speaking and recreate dead cities, these things are not real and do not last beyond his death), he does not or cannot use magic in battle. The methods of casting for him require too much preparation time to permit spell use in combat.
Fiendish Will Power: Khosatral Khel can accomplish amazing magical feats if he has time (several days) to generate the magic around him, such as raising the dead and rebuilding cities. Any effect he creates is temporary at best, requiring at least his subconscious to continue to will the persistance of the magic.
|below is the original cover of Weird Tales, August 1934, featuring Conan fighting a snake in Xapur. Art is by Margaret Brundage.|
|Robert E. Howard's story, "The Devil in Iron" was
first published in Weird Tales in August of 1934. The story can also
be found in the Ace/Lancer paperback "Conan the Wanderer"; the Donald M.
Grant Limited Edition "The Devil in Iron", and the Gnome Press collection
"Conan the Barbarian". It can also be found in the
Berkley/Putnam collection "The People of the Black Circle".
Currently in print is the British volume "The Conan Chronicles Volume I :
The People of the Black Circle" which is part of Millennium's "Fantasy
Masterworks" series. ISBN: 1-85798-996-1. It is available off
of Amazon.com. "The Devil in Iron" can also be found in the Sci Fi
Book Club "The Essential Conan."
One weakness of this story is the incredible coincidence upon which it hangs. Jehungir Agha was lying when he told Conan Octavia had run away to Xapur. She had been handed into the loathsome clutches of Jelal Khan. Escaping, she somehow finds her way to Xapur, a supposed tiny island with unscalable cliffs; the likelihood of her finding her way there purely by chance seems a little difficult to accept. Then again, ERB wrote dozens of Tarzan novels that depended on even more unlikely coincidences.
There isn't a lot in the way of characterization. Conan spends more time running than thinking. I suspect this may be partly because Howard wasn't sure how Conan should react to something so clearly inexplicable as a city appearing magically overnight. To REH the Conan stories were inherently realistic, he favoured gorillas and snakes, and the magic is often explained either as a sort of super-science, or as hypnosis. In this case, there can be no such realist explanation, and so Howard himself may have found it a little hard to accept.
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