It’s a Gobbler, a creation of gloranthan dwarves, whose job is to eat special metals and other materials the dwarves would prefer that humans, trolls, and others not get their grubby hands on.
Basically the dwarves take it near where they suspect other races have been doing technological espionage, feed some Gobblers a sample of X material, and then those Gobblers go crazy for X, can sense it from far away, can digest it, will fight past anything just to reach it, and will eat it in preference to continuing to fight
I don’t recall which book they are in. I don’t remember their RuneQuest stats either, but I don’t there was anything unusual about their combat abilities. Doubt they had magic, unlike nearly everything else in Glorantha, since they are artificial.
Thanks, anon-a-commenter! With that lead I was able to track down this image of the re-release of the original Archive mini back in 2005 or so:
Dwarfs have other creatures to help them protect their possessions, too. One of the best known is the Gunpowder Gobbler. A horde of them appeared one time, and they ate much more than that arcane substance when they stampeded towards their prey. They have many hands and a great mouth, and they are very strong. Their appetite is enhanced by their eating the alchemical powder, and they get stronger from it as well . Thus, the more there is to eat, the hungrier and nastier one gets. Once it has eaten everything, it goes on a rampage. Many instances of Gobbler outbreaks are recorded, and most authorities are quite adamant about suppressing the development of, or even experimentation with, that alchemical powder in their districts.
According to this web article by Sandy Petersen, Gobblers "can be taught spells, but has only those Arts and Presence which has been enchanted into its hide." I have no idea what Arts and Presence mean in this context, as I know very little about the RuneQuest/HeroQuest family of games.
Finally, I was able to track down some RQ stats for these four-armed goons:
- STR 2D6+12 19
- CON 4D6+12 26
- SIZ 3D6+12 22–23
- INT 1D6+2 5–6
- POW 3D6 10–11
- DEX 2D6+8 15
Hit Points: 29 Move: 8 Magic Points: 11 Base SR: 2 Armor: 7 points of metallic hide. Skills: Dodge 35%, Smell Foodstuff 160%. Magic: A gobbler can eat near-limitless quantities of its designated substance. Sometimes gobblers receive enchantments or long duration sorcery spells from the dwarfs.Weapon % 55 Damage 1d4+2d6 SR 5/8 Note: A gobbler attacks four times each round, with both upper arms on its initial SR and both lower paws 3 strike ranks later. Add +1% to its Paw attack skill for each ENC of the target substance eaten. For every 10 ENC of the target substance eaten, add +1 to one characteristic chosen by the dwarfs when the gobbler was programmed