Monstrous Physique — Deathclaw

It’s no secret that my monsters are usually pulled from whatever fiction my mind is partaking in at the time. This is why I end up posting creatures like Totoro and Groot. So, with that in mind, I will freely admit that I’ve been playing my fair share of Fallout: New Vegas. One of my favorite experiences with the series is my attempts to gather a deathclaw hand for use in the crafting of a powerful deathclaw gauntlet in Fallout 3. The gauntlet is a great weapon, but the deathclaw is no push over and slaying one of these creatures is no small feat. I figured this would be no problem. I, however, decided to tackle the task at level 4. It was a nightmare, but eventually I came out on top. When I began playing New Vegas, the sight of a deathclaw on the horizon brought back so many memories of these fearsome creatures. I just had to stat them up! So, without further ado, let’s look at the deathclaw!

This large, muscular reptile stands as tall as three men. Its hands end in sharp claws and its head sports a pair of long horns.

Deathclaw                                        CR 8
XP 4,800
N Large aberration
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +15
AC 22, touch 12, flat-footed 19 (+3 Dex, +10 natural, –1 size)
hp 102 (12d8+4)
Fort +10, Ref +7, Will +11
DR 10/adamantine; Immune radiation
Speed 40 ft.
Melee 2 claws +15 (2d8+8)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks pounce
Str 26, Dex 17, Con 19, Int 4, Wis 16, Cha 11
Base Atk +9; CMB +18; CMD 21
Feats Combat Reflexes, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Lunge, Power Attack, Vital Strike
Skills Perception +15, Stealth +13; Racial Modifiers +8 Stealth
Environment any temperate
Organization solitary, pair, or pack (3–10)
Treasure none

Deathclaws are massive creatures named for their extremely long, sharp claws. These creatures were originally common chameleons, but exposes to a radioactive virus caused their extreme mutation into the deathclaws of today. Deathclaws are pack creatures, with a typical grouping consisting of an alpha, a mother, and young deathclaws. Once a deathclaw reaches adult age, it sets out on its own. A deathclaw usually serves as the alpha predator in its area, hunting large game like deer and aurochs. Their hunting prowess is unparalleled as deathclaws are surprisingly stealthy. Once they attack, death is swift. A deathclaw is capable of lashing out with great speed and ferocity, usually slaying prey as it tries to flee. The common deathclaw is more intelligent than a typical animal, but not enough to have any kind of society. Tales of deadlier or even more intelligent deathclaws constantly persist throughout the wastelands. A typical deathclaw is 10 feet tall and weighs 400 pounds.

In Your Game

At the Deathclaw’s Door
The PCs find themselves inside a cave to rest for the night. Little do they know, the cave serves as the newest den for a deathclaw set to return from a hunt during the night.

The Brilliant Beast
On their travels, the PCs encounter a deathclaw capable of speech. This intelligent deathclaw does not seek to attack the PCs and only wishes for knowledgeable discourse. The deathclaw is constantly in a struggle with its more primal instincts, however.

Claiming the Claws
A local wishes to make a weapon from the claws of a deathclaw and tasks the PCs with slaying one of these terrible beasts. A hefty reward is in place for the deadly work, but the local’s motives are suspect.

Monstrous Origins

In the Fallout series, deathclaws are walking engines of death. In order to best translate that to Pathfinder, I just needed the deathclaw to be big and scary. In regards to stats, the deathclaw is actually quite average, but the idea is to use it as a threat against low-level characters. A fast-moving, big damage, large monster is pretty terrifying to PCs at level 2. Deathclaws serve well as roaming, looming threats which PCs must be on their toes to notice. They serve especially well when roaming in a pack. Eventually, the PCs will outclass the deathclaw which makes for a satisfying conclusion when dealing with a constant threat.

That’s it for this week! Please let me know if there are other iconic video game monsters you would like to see. If you end up introducing the deathclaw into your game or you have any request for a future Monstrous Physique, please drop me a line at

Luis Loza

Luis Loza is a developer at Paizo, working on the Pathfinder World Guide line and formerly on Campaign Setting and Player Companion lines. He's done freelance for Paizo Inc, Legendary Games, Rogue Genius Games, and more third-party publishers. His hobbies include gaming both tabletop and video, making jokes, obsessing over time travel, taking naps with Nova the cat, and walks with heather the wife. He is eternally plagued with a hunger for tacos.

Gen Con 2017 Seminar Series
Gen Con 2017 Seminar Series

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