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Lion, Nemeian

Zurbarán, Francisco de Herkules vernichtet den Löwen von Nemea 1634
Zurbarán, Francisco de Herkules vernichtet den Löwen von Nemea 1634

A gigantic lion whose skin was impervious to weapons, he was the son of Typhon and Echidna.

The First Labour of Heracles

The first of Heracles‘ twelve labours was to slay the Nemean Lion and bring back its skin.Heracles followed the lion in a cave, which had two entrances. He closed the one entrance with stones and went in to find the lion.

The lion had been terrorizing the area around Nemea, and had a skin so thick that it was impenetrable to weapons. When Heracles first tackled it, his weapons – bow and arrow, a club made from an olive tree (which he pulled out of the ground himself) and a bronze sword – were all ineffective. At last Heracles threw away his weapons and wrestled the lion to the ground, eventually killing it by thrusting his arm down its throat and choking it to death. (In some variants, Heracles actually strangled the beast.)

Heracles spent hours trying unsuccessfully to skin the lion, and gradually growing angrier as it appeared he would be unable to complete his first task. Eventually Athena, in the guise of an old crone, helped Heracles to realise that the best tools to cut the hide were the creature’s own claws, he skinned the lion with its own claws and wore its pelt as a cloak with its gaping jaws as a hood. Thus, with a little divine intervention, Heracles completed his first task.

Thereafter, he wore the impenetrable hide as armour. King Eurystheus, Heracles‘ taskmaster for the labours, was so frightened by Heracles‘ fearsome guise that he hid in a large bronze jar, and from that moment forth communicated all his instructions to Heracles through a herald.

The Nemeian lion was 15 feet long and weighed 3,500 pounds.

Lion, Nemeian
Large animal 
Hit Dice8d8+24 (88 hp+ 96)=184hp
Speed120 ft. (8 squares)
39 (-1 size, +2 Dexterity, +4 natural+12 insight bonus +12 luck bonus), touch 36, flat-footed 37
Base Attack/Grapple+31/+42 (+25 luck bonus)
AttackClaw +38 melee (1d6+7+20 luck bonus)
Full Attack2 claws +38 melee (1d6+7+20 luck bonus) and bite +32 melee (1d8+3+20 luck bonus)
Space/Reach10 ft./5 ft.
Improved grab, pounce, rake (1d6+3+20 luck bonus)
Low-Light Vision, Scent, Fire and cold resistance 10, Damage reduction 50/natural, Spell Resistance +30, Fast healing 20, Natural weapons are treated as epic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
SavesFort +19, Ref +18, Will +17 (+10 insight bonus)
AbilitiesStrength 40, Dexterity 30, Constitution 32, Intelligence 17, Wisdom 27, Charisma 25
SkillsHide +12*, Listen +17, Move Silently +15, Spot +17 (+10 competence bonus)
FeatsAlertness, Run, Weapon Focus (claw)
EnvironmentWarm plains
Challenge Rating20
AlignmentAlways neutral Evil
Level Adjustment


The Nemeian lion attacks by running at prey, leaping, and clawing and biting as it rakes with its rear claws. It often jumps onto a creature larger than itself.

Improved Grab (Ex) To use this ability, a dire lion must hit with its bite attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can rake.

Pounce (Ex) If the Nemeian lion charges, it can make a full attack, including two rake attacks.

Rake (Ex) Attack bonus +37 melee, damage 1d6+3+ 20.

Skills The Nemeian lion has a +4 racial bonus on Hide and Move Silently checks.

*In areas of tall grass or heavy undergrowth, the Hide bonus improves to +8.

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