Give me a hundred Azer slaves, and I can forge an empire that would make the Gods tremble. -Arakses Al-Saqar, Efreeti Pasha
There are a ton of monsters in these books that I forget exist. Couatls, Darkmantles, Flumphs (though I adore their names), Gricks, and so many more fall into this category. But out of all of them, the Azer stands at the top of the pile. Or the bottom, I suppose.
An Azer may seem like a fiery dwarf in appearance. And indeed, that is an easy comparison (if you ignore the flaming hair and their lack of ever eating, sleeping or drinking), as they are masters in crafting and mining. But these natives of the Elemental Plane of Fire are different in almost every way to their Dwarf counterparts.
Honestly, I feel that these guys are strong, but not great. Their lore is pretty good, but they lack in an especially interesting design or stand out combat abilities. They are a fairly decent pick for a fiery campaign, but they are very rarely going to be my first. Still, I can’t bring myself to hate these guys.
Just look at that face!
I might just make that my new profile picture.
Lore: Haters of the Efreet and Dwellers of Volcanoes
This is easily the best aspect of the Azer.
An Azer is not born, for there are no male or female Azers. They are made. An Azer will craft another of his kind from bronze, which will be imbued by the inner flame of their soon-to-be parent. Each one is wholly unique, but this brings a big challenge for the people. It takes so long that the Azers, a race that could prosper in the Fire Plane, are rare to see.
If you are to find one, it would likely be in a kingdom in between the Elemental Planes of Earth and Fire. Beneath their kingdom lies some of the most valuable, shining jewels and metals in any of the Planes. It is here that the Azers lives, patrolling the tunnels and protecting their homes from the Salamander Raiders sent by the Efreet.
Yeah. These guys fight lizard people in a volcano. If nothing else, that is metal as fuck!
On the subject of their long time enemies, lets talk about the Efreet. Long ago, both of these races were allies. The Azers helped build the city in which the Efreet made their home: the City of Brass. When the work was done, the Azers were betrayed, and their former friends attempted to enslave them. However, despite this history, neither the Azers or the Efreet have spiraled into all-out war. Yet.
The Azers aren’t without their hobbies. They spend their days crafting beautiful items out of precious metals. They are so good at it that they’ll be summoned by magic to the Material Plane to assist mortals in the craft. When it comes to crafting such items, it is said that they are unparalleled.
You can’t just get a whole session’s worth of story out of this lore. You could get a whole campaign! Perhaps the heroes could try to help an NPC to summon an Azer and get sucked into their war with the Efreet! Or maybe them trying to summon the Azer and get him the necessary materials is the quest!
They’re very simple stories, yes. But not every player is an expert story teller! Sometimes simplicity is all you need! You don’t need to take your players on a convoluted adventure. Just send them to a realm of fire to hang out with Azers!
Design: That Boy Be On Fire!
There really isn’t much to talk about with these guys. Their design is simple and it gets the point of the monster across perfectly. But it isn’t the most creative design out there.
Sorry boys. But you’re coming off of Aboleths and Ankhegs. Flaming dwarf boys are kind of lacking in comparison, aren’t they?
Still, it is a good design. They look fairly intimidating, at least for a dwarf-style monster. Looking at them gives a perfect description as to what they do; burn, hit things and forge stuff. Their appearance tells a story. A very simple and short one, yes. But a good one nonetheless.
Combat: Azer Smash!
If you want to build a creative encounter, an Azer isn’t the best pick. They only do three things: burn, glow and hit stuff. If you want a fight that will push your players abilities and creativity, then you’d best look elsewhere.
An Azer’s fiery body makes their hitting more dangerous, and it makes striking them just as risky. If you hit it at melee range, you’re getting burned. You let it hit you? Guess what: you’re getting burned.
Aside from that, it’s really boring. They hit stuff with a flaming hammer and they glow in the dark. End of story. Basic? Highly. Effective?
Depends on how creative you as a DM or your party is. If you’re not super creative, and the party is okay with that, then they may just be a perfect fit. But you may want to try expanding your horizons a bit.
For the final monster in the A category of the Monster Manual, the Azers are a pretty strong finale. Their lore is basic, but very interesting. But they are marred down by an all too simple, albeit effective, design and lacking combat abilities. Still, I’d put them high on my list.
Speaking of which, let’s put ’em in there!
- Animated Armor
- Rug of Smothering
- Flying Sword
Twenty-two pages in, and we’re finally leaving the A section behind! Now we can get into the B monsters, which are some of my absolute favorites! Banshees, Basilisks, Behirs, Blights, Bugbears, and of course: the Beholder. D&D’s most iconic monster.
No, Dragons don’t count. Besides, those guys aren’t until pg. 84.