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Douglas Muir 406's page

9,488 posts. 5 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


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I can do that.

Quick question, before we wrap: does anyone have any post-mortem thoughts? What was good, what was bad, how could I improve if we do this again?

If anyone wants to weigh in, please do. Once that's done, yes, I'll retire the game.

Lune wrote:
Douglas Muir 406: Just wanted to compliment you on your build advice. I have looked at alchemical components but have clearly underestimated them. This deserves a second look and likely a new build for me to make. :)

Thank you!

I like this particular build because it's viable across all levels. There's no slow startup -- at first level your blasts are already doing serious damage (for first level). And there's no dip, so you don't have to wait an extra level for everything.

-- There is one error in the build given above: it was originally written for a human, and when I adapted it for ratfolk I forgot to take out the extra human feat at first level. My bad! My advice would be to forego Spell Focus (evocation) until 5th level.

Doug M.

Serisan wrote:
Doug's wizard build is one of the first blasters I've seen that doesn't have the dip for Crossblooded Sorceror. Looks pretty effective, too.

Thank you!

It doesn't require a ratfolk, either. That build works fine with humans or elves, or really anything that gets a bump to Int. It's not quite the ultimate blaster in terms of raw damage, but it's close, and it's very flexible.

The bound object is key, mind, because eventually your GM will start getting tired of watching his monsters get flash-frozen, melted, and blasted to bits, and will start throwing golems and suchlike at you. "Your ready spells are all blasts, right?" "Gosh, yes they are." "Heh heh -- " "Sure glad I have my bound object with me! Grease." At higher levels, scrolls add even more flexibility; this is why going cyphermage and Enhance Scroll is so attractive.

Doug M.

One footnote to this build: Burning Hands is short range, so if the party doesn't have a meat shield, be prepared to take the occasional hit at low levels. Keep your AC up, put your favored class points in hp, and stay friends with the party cleric. If the party does have a meat shield, then you glue yourself to his rear view square. Note that you only have a 20' move, so make sure Mr. Fighty understands that if there are multiple foes in view, he is not to charge forward and leave you unprotected. Fighter types can be strangely dim about this. You may have to explain gently and carefully: "I love you, man, but if you're more than 10' ahead of me you're in my blast radius".

Also, this is a build that can provide some fun synergies. For instance, as a ratfolk you have respectable Stealth even though it's not a class skill. This makes it possible for you to scout ahead in tandem with the party rogue or ninja (well, in tandem but two steps behind, because you are squish). A one-two punch of surprise round! Blast! Sneak Attack! will leave most nonboss opponents sucking dirt.

Doug M.

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A kitsune doesn't make a particularly great blaster. You get +2 Cha, which is nice if you're a Cha-based caster, but otherwise none of the kitsune traits help you blast. Catfolk, same-same. This is not to say you CAN'T play a kitsune or catfolk blaster. You totally can! Just, unless you're playing a sorceror you won't be quite optimal. (And if you're playing a kitsune, you'll want a sideline in enchantment spells.) If you're starting at first level, it will take a while to come in to your own.

A ratfolk, now, could make a fine blaster. +2 Int, +2 Dex, small size... oh yeah. You could go alchemist, sure. But I'd suggest looking up Brewer's Guide to the Blaster Wizard, because it's insane fun, and would work just fine with a ratfolk build. If that's too much trouble, I attach below a variant of a build I developed a while ago. It's a wizard, not an alchemist, but it uses alchemical power components. Most of the alchemical reagents give pretty modest benefits -- +1 to damage here, a caster level here, an extra but of duration over there. But if you pile them on each other, you can get some interesting results.

Ratfolk blaster wizard build:

Ratfolk wizard, 15 point build: Str 6 Con 12 Dex 16 Int 18 Wis 12 Cha 8.

Evocation specialist with the Admixture subschool -- this lets you swap energy types (fire, acid, cold, electricity) on your spells 8x/day. Bonded object instead of a familiar. Traits: Magical Lineage (fireball) and, oh I don't know, Reactive. (You'll carry that Magical Lineage trait for six long levels before it's useful. But then it will be very useful indeed.) Feats are Spell Focus (Evocation) and Spell Specialization (Burning Hands). Skills, meh, the usual; you get racial bonuses to Perception, Stealth, Craft (alchemy) and UMD, so you might as well throw some ranks at those. If you think you might do the cyphermage dip (see below) don't forget to throw some ranks at Linguistics.

First Level -- Starting spells: Burning Hands, Grease, Mage Armor, Summon Monster I. If your party lacks a meat shield for you to cower behind, you cast Mage Armor before entering the dungeon -- AC 18, and when that runs out, you leave. Otherwise, Burning Hands, baby. Your feat and your specialization = basic Burning Hands for 3d4+1 damage, DC 16 Reflex save for half. That'll sweep the street clean of most first level opponents.

But wait -- there's more. You invest in some alchemical reagents. 40 gp gives you a flask of liquid ice, which you can use as a spell focus for Ray of Frost, making it do +1 damage. 40 gp is a lot at first level, but the flask is not consumed, so you can use it endlessly. Together with your evoker bonus, that means this endlessly spammable cantrip now inflicts d3+2 damage on a +3 ranged touch attack. That's almost always going to be better than messing around with a silly crossbow. For your first couple of levels this will be your default attack; use it to pick off goblins, finish off injured foes, and the like.

For your main blast, use your admixture power to turn Burning Hands into Cold Hands, toss in some urea and you're now doing 4d4+1. Why? Because for just 4 gp/dose, urea gives you +1 caster level on cold spells. That's crazy good, and you're going to leverage hell out of it. At first level, it means 11 average damage, which will seriously dent most nonboss opponents and will simply wipe out a mass of low level opponents even if they save (which at a DC 16 Reflex, they probably won't). In the unlikely event you meet something that's immune to cold, you keep some other reagents in your back pocket -- brimstone (+1 damage on acid spells at 2 gp/spell) and saltpeter (+1 damage on fire spells at 3 gp/spell). For when you just want to add a little something extra to show you care, there's black powder (+1 damage on all evocation spells). At 10 gp/spell it's a bit pricey for you, but sometimes you just want to make the moment special. So if that cold-resistant creature shows up, you just shrug and throw Acid Hands for 3d4+2 or 3d4+3.

Oh, and you also carry around some spirits of wine in a flask. Those give +1 to spell level on summoning spells for duration purposes only -- so for 3 gp you can make your Summon Monster I bring something for 2 rounds instead of 1. At low levels that's a big deal and totally worth 3 gp.

Finally, when you have a little money pick up a couple of flasks of acid. For 10 gp per casting you can use these with your Grease spell to inflict 1 hp/round of acid damage on anyone that stays within the spell's area of effect. And for just 5 gp/casting, alchemical grease adds 1 to this spell's save DC.

Second Level -- Pick up Magic Missile and a utility spell. You won't use MM very much for a while, but one day you'll be spraying a bunch of Dazing Magic Missiles around at a bunch of mooks. Meanwhile, your Cold Hands now do 5d4+2, or 5d4+3 if you blow the 10 gp for black powder. This is a quiet level for you. Don't worry about it; things are going to get interesting fast.

Third Level -- Take Intensified Spell (allows five more levels of damage on spells, +1 spell slot) as your third level feat. Learn Flaming Sphere and Summon Monster II. In your second level slots you can now carry Flaming Sphere for 3d6+2/round, or Intensified Cold Hands for 6d4+1 -- remember, the feat lets you go past the normal 5 die limit on this spell. In your first level slots, Burning Hands with saltpeter / Acid Hands with brimstone = 5d4+2.

But wait! If you throw in a flask of alchemist's fire as a material component (20 gp), your burning hands will set one enemy who failed his save on fire. This is only an additional 1d6/round of damage, but it's totally worth it just for the visual.

Fourth Level -- Put your +1 boost on Int, raising it to 19. Get a utility spell, like Web or Glitterdust or Invisibility, and then also take Fox's Cunning. Because, oh hey: that's a transmutation spell, so for 3 gp/casting you can use magnesium to make it last as if you were a level higher, five minutes instead of four. No big thing, but that should get you through a couple of encounters, and as a blaster you want those save DCs as high as possible. Pick up a first level Pearl of Power. Intensified Cold Hands now do 7d4+2, or Intensified Burning/Acid Hands do 6d4+3, or Flaming Sphere does 3d6+2/round.

Fifth Level -- Fireball, baby. (Take Haste for your other spell, so that the other players will shut up about how you never buff them.) Take Greater Spell Focus and Varisian Tattoo, aka Mage's Tattoo on the PFSRD -- +1 caster level on all evocation spells. From here on out you can probably afford to add black powder as a default. Buy it in bulk, you'll be using it a lot. So now Fireball (or Acidball, or Lightningball) does 6d6+4, while its urea-powered Freezeball variant does 7d6+3. In your second level slots, Intensified Cold Hands do 9d4+3.

Sixth Level -- Take Communal Resist Energy. With a pinch of cold iron, you cast this at +1 caster level, meaning that at 6th level you can now grant 20 points of resistance. But wait! If you throw in a flask of liquid ice (40 gp) or of alchemist's fire (20 gp), you can add 20% to the resistance granted by this spell to fire or cold respectively: 24 instead of 20.

You're now high enough level to afford an Int-boosting item; get one, raising your Int to 21. Switch Spell Specialization from Burning Hands to Fireball. Your Fireballs now do 9d6+5 damage, average 36.5, or 10d6+4 for Freezeballs. In a pinch -- say, if the party is being swarmed by very large numbers of weak foes -- you can cast Communal Resist Energy on the party, then Fireball them and yourself. The party will still take damage if they fail their saves, but you'll clean out the enemies toute suite.

Seventh Level -- Take Empower Spell. Take Dimension Door -- you need the tactical flexibility and it's grapple insurance. There are several okay fourth level evocation spells... I'm fond of detonate (at this level it's 8d8+5 damage to everything around you, or 9d8+4 if cold) but yeah, you're probably better off with Ice Storm or something. Pick up a rod of Selective Metamagic. (This will finally stop the other PCs' pathetic whining about you catching them with your fireballs.)

After six long levels, Magical Lineage finally kicks in: you get Empowered Fireballs as 4th level spells. That's 10d6 (x 1.5) +5, or average 57.5 damage. With your Fox's Cunning on, that's a DC 22 Reflex save. Your 2nd level spell slots have Cold Hands for 8d4+4.

Eighth Level -- You're going to start meeting things with SR, so pick up a rod of Piercing Spell while you're shopping for a better (+4) Int booster. Put your level-up point on Int, so you're now rocking an Int of 24. You can now throw Intensified Fireball as a 3rd level spell for 11d6+6, or Intensified Freezeball for 12d6+5.

You now get the goofy Elemental Manipulation aura, which is mostly worthless but could be situationally a lot of fun if everything clicks. Here's what you do: before entering the Glacial Rift of the Ice-Themed Monsters, you set your aura to convert cold attacks to fire. Then you cast Communal Resist Energy (fire) on the party, throwing in a 40 gp flask of liquid ice to give everyone fire resistance 24. So, 24 points off the monsters' ice breath or other cold-themed attacks... and then you get right in among the monsters and cast Fireball centered on yourself. Okay, the party will still take average 23 points of fire damage each, but the cold-based monsters will take average 70.5 each. (And, come on, the party rogue will probably evade.)

Finally, pick up Black Tentacles. Not only is this a fine utility spell for those confusing moments when you can't immediately blast something, but for 50 gp/casting you can use a tanglefoot bag as a component, allowing you to reroll your grapple check against one opponent.

Ninth Level -- Icy Prison and Fire Snake are both fine 5th level evocation spells. Icy Prison is suck-or-suck; if the enemy fails a DC 24 Reflex save, it's helpless, and even if it succeeds, it's entangled and taking damage -- 15 on the first round, and then 11 per round thereafter, until it makes a DC 26 Str check to escape. Meanwhile, your Intensified Enhanced Freezeball is up to (13d6 x 1.5) +5 or about 73 points.

For your feat, Quicken Spell is tempting, but it's just a bit too soon -- you'd be using a precious fifth level slot to throw a simple 5d4+5 Quickened Burning Hands. It can wait until 11th level. An interesting option is to take Cyphermagic so you can dip a level or two of Cyphermage. Casting from scrolls now gives you +1 caster level -- more dice of damage. For one level of Cyphermage, you take Focused Scroll; basically this means that once/day you can ignore SR. If you were to dip a second level, you'd take Enhance Scroll, because you can save just a sick amount of money with this one.

But for now let's keep it simple and go with Spell Penetration. SR is starting to be a common thing at this level. You're a blaster; if something at resists your magic, you've just wasted your round and accomplished nothing. So you need this feat. It stacks with your Piercing Spell metamagic rod, so you're always at either +2 or +7... and those will get doubled when you get Spell Perfection, heh heh.

Tenth level -- Speaking of Spell Penetration, it's probably time to invest in a few doses of Dweomer's Essence. Though not formally an alchemical reagent, this acts just the same way: it's a one-time consumable that you mix into your spell to add +5 to your spell penetration check. At 500 gp /shot, it's not cheap, but sometimes you want to be very sure that you're taking that bad guy down.

For your 10th level bonus feat, there are a couple of attractive options. One is the Alchemical Affinity arcane discovery. This neglected gem gives you +1 ECL and +1 on DCs for any spell you cast that is also on the alchemist's spell list. Tragically, this does not include Fireball, but it does include a bunch of fun spells from Detonate to Magic Jar. And it's pretty solidly thematic. That said, if you're playing strictly by the numbers then you're probably best off taking Dazing Spell. It's everyone's favorite metamagic feat for a reason. Your Dazing Fireballs will only do 10d6+6 damage, but anything that fails that Reflex save is SOL. And it's not like you can't do raw damage -- your Intensified Enhanced Freezeball is averaging 80 points of damage, and you can throw 13d6+6 Intensified Fireballs around like Mardi Gras beads.

Phew. -- But you asked for a blaster, and this guy would probably fit the bill. Let me know what you think.


Doug M.

Haruka and Constantine can act, if they care to.

"What's going on? What's happening? Is this woman... possessed by demons?" Alderman Gwerm moves to place Constantine and Takka between him and Laurine. "Completely unacceptable! She must be expunged completely, at once!"

"Just a... moment..." Felice shifts her weight on you to get both her hands free. The movement is painful -- you can hear her gritting her teeth in pain -- but she persists. "Dark Father... give me... strength!" She makes a sudden abrupt flinging gesture with one arm.

1d20 ⇒ 6 Whatever she was trying to do, it didn't work.

Well, after some painful contemplation, I eventually decided to shut down my other PBP campaign. I'd been running that one for two and half years (!) but... well, there's just not bandwidth for two. Not actual megs per day, and not time and attention either. Right now, it turns out, I can run /at most/ one PBP. Now let's see if the actual figure is more or less than one...

Okay, guys. It's with deep regret that I have to say that this isn't working.

The big issue is that I don't have enough bandwidth. I get a gig a month outside the office, fixed. That sounds like a lot, but it's not really. (Also, it's not terribly reliable. The internet here goes on and off a lot.) A secondary issue is that I'm still settling into a new job and am pretty crunched for time. Back in February -- when I had both time and bandwidth to burn -- I started a second PBP campaign. In retrospect, that was a mistake. Now I'm able to support *maybe, at most* one campaign. Something has to give.

I won't say this is the absolute-for-certain end. But I don't see things changing in the near future (i.e. the next few months). So at this point I'm placing the campaign on indefinite hiatus.

Not a lot more to say, except thanks to all of you guys for playing. It's been a great campaign, with a lot of cool scenes and good memories. If our paths ever cross in RL, I'll be happy to buy you a beer.

Doug M.

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-- I see you posted twice, here and on the Advice forum. Not really necessary... if it's a CotCT question, here in the CotCT forum is the right place to ask. No big deal, but if you do it regularly the mods will notice. Anyway, I'll just repeat what I posted over on Advice here.

* * *

1) Don't worry too much about 3.5 vs. PF. The differences are pretty minor. Also, a lot of the adjustments have already been made by other players, and can be found easily enough. Go to the CotCT forum (you can find it right here) and ask around.

2) The first module is broken up into smaller chunks that will make it easy for a new DM to run. (This is deliberate on the part of the designers.) So, for instance, the business with Lamm and Zellara is a short adventure that should cover your first play session.

3) The CotCT Players Guide is a free download or a buck fifty in hard copy. You can find it right here. Feel free to pass it around to your players for background information.

4) There are some products you could buy if you feel the need. There's a Guide to Korvosa splatbook that you can guy. I think it's okay, not amazing. It's definitely not required to run the module. Consider picking it up if you really want to add more depth and detail to the city. You might also consider a physical Harrow deck. The original $12.99 deck is OOP, but they've brought out a Deluxe version which is $18. I think that's a bit steep, but OTOH it's pretty lovely, and it could definitely add to the game. Up to you. Finally, there's the Harrow Handbook, which is just $9 for the .pdf and which contains some cool and thematic material.

5) Read the first module _thoroughly_, then read ahead a couple of modules. There are some twists that you can add if you care to. For instance, someone suggested that the insane Emperor from volume 3 should be Lamm's son. IMO that's an inspired idea, and one that could be planted in the first adventure -- you can mention that Lamm had a ne'er-do-well son who used to come sleazing around asking him for money. You can drop this as a detail, or weave it into a PC backstory.

6) Finally, congratulations on picking this AP. I think it gets a bit less love than it should because it's 3.5 and also because it's standing next to the classic RotRL. It's not perfect (if you go on the forum people will be happy to point out its flaws) but it's a fun, complex urban adventure with memorable NPCs and a cool overarching plot. I've run it a couple of times, and it's never failed to deliver. Enjoy!


Doug M.

1) Don't worry too much about 3.5 vs. PF. The differences are pretty minor. Also, a lot of the adjustments have already been made by other players, and can be found easily enough. Go to the CotCT forum (you can find it right here) and ask around.

2) The first module is broken up into smaller chunks that will make it easy for a new DM to run. (This is deliberate on the part of the designers.) So, for instance, the business with Lamm and Zellara is a short adventure that should cover your first play session.

3) The CotCT Players Guide is a free download or a buck fifty in hard copy. You can find it right here. Feel free to pass it around to your players for background information.

4) There are some products you could buy if you feel the need. There's a Guide to Korvosa splatbook that you can guy. I think it's okay, not amazing. It's definitely not required to run the module. Consider picking it up if you really want to add more depth and detail to the city. You might also consider a physical Harrow deck. The original $12.99 deck is OOP, but they've brought out a Deluxe version which is $18. I think that's a bit steep, but OTOH it's pretty lovely, and it could definitely add to the game. Up to you. Finally, there's the Harrow Handbook, which is just $9 for the .pdf and which contains some cool and thematic material.

5) Read the first module _thoroughly_, then read ahead a couple of modules. There are some twists that you can add if you care to. For instance, someone suggested that the insane Emperor from volume 3 should be Lamm's son. IMO that's an inspired idea, and one that could be planted in the first adventure -- you can mention that Lamm had a ne'er-do-well son who used to come sleazing around asking him for money. You can drop this as a detail, or weave it into a PC backstory.

6) Finally, congratulations on picking this AP. I think it gets a bit less love than it should because it's 3.5 and also because it's standing next to the classic RotRL. It's not perfect (if you go on the forum people will be happy to point out its flaws) but it's a fun, complex urban adventure with memorable NPCs and a cool overarching plot. I've run it a couple of times, and it's never failed to deliver. Enjoy!


Doug M.

That's 1d6 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2 of damage on Haruka, which doesn't drop her -- she has 3 hp left. So, the other hand comes around...

1d20 ⇒ 5 Nope, misses. (But Haruka, the hand gave you a nip, so you'll need to roll a Fort save.)

A nat 1? Oh dear.

The force bolt hits Laurine square in the face, snapping her head backwards. If she were an ordinary human, it would have knocked her out cold. But while she's definitely rocked by the attack -- she'll have a nasty bruise on her face -- she's very much still standing.

Her eyes flare with rage. Literally flare: green light flickers and sparks from them. She whirls on Haruka. "Trust! Trust!" One hand lashes out...

1d20 ⇒ 19

Takka of the Toad wrote:

"Ah! Uh... master elf!" Takka said, turning to the blind elf and realizing he didn't actually know his name. "One of our former training commanders - her name is Laurine - she's... there is something wrong with her. She has... mouths in her hands, and she's got a glowing green rock. I... I think it's a corrupted piece of the Wardstone above. I remember that green glow... I saw it in my vision. I think she's possessed. Please, elves are good at magic, yes? How do we reverse this curse?"

"A corrupted piece of the... Get it away from her! It's deadly! It's probably killing her right now!" The old elf is obviously still in pain, but his voice has the crack of command. "Don't just stand there! Move!"

chchchchch! One of the mouths is chattering its teeth. Strike, strike! Finish him!

Yes, yes! Will taste so goooood!

A frown crosses Laurine's beautiful face. "No..."

Ooh, good one. And, hey, if you're a witch with the coven hex, or a sorceror with the accursed bloodline, you can swap the swaithe into a coven. (Alas, both those have the "coven must contain at least one hag" requirement, otherwise you could just summon and bind two swaithes.)

Doug M.

Haruka Shiraboshi wrote:

"Laurine, you need to find yourself again. You know that you can trust me, I have never lied to you, I stayed by your side when you needed me, so trust me now, accept this spell, it will help you" Haruka moves closer to Laurine and reaches out with a softly glowing hand, after muttering a short praier in Minkai.

cast protecton from evil on Laurine

Laurine turns towards you. "Trust...?"

No no! Trust nobody!

We only need us and it! We are all and one!

Balek, you take 1d6 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 1 = 7 of damage, as Laurine slaps you... and the mouth in her hand bites you, hard.

-- Hm, I believe that knocks you out of action. Also: a Fort save, please.

Bad touch man! Touch him back!

See how he likes that!

1d20 ⇒ 19

1d20 ⇒ 7

Sorry, gang. I've been having internet access issues here in Tajikistan -- outside of the office, I'm stuck either using my mobile phone hotspot (theoretically a gig a month, but it's inefficient and burns really fast) or sitting in one of the few cafes that have free wi-fi.

I'm actually outside of Tajikistan for the next few days starting Sunday, so things should pick up a little.

Yeah, I keep forgetting the Efreet. Sigh. -- And it's actually worse than that; the Efreet is a mere CR 8.

Doug M.

Efreet [CR 8, Will +9, SR 0, Cha 15] -- While the efreet is a respectable melee combatant with a couple of useful SLAs, you're probably conjuring this fellow for one reason: to get those three Wishes. Under the RAW, you can compel the efreet to use its Wishes, just as you can compel any other summoned creature to use an SLA. This is obviously potentially game-breaking. You'd be getting the benefit of a 9th level spell by casting a 6th level spell, and avoiding the 25,000 gp material component to boot. Furthermore, you could call a new efreet every day, piling Wish on Wish. Under these circumstances, the DM is entirely justified in giving your Wishes nasty, unforeseen side effects. So, if you wish for +1 Intelligence, the efreet snaps its fingers -- and your brain expands dramatically, causing your face and cranium to become grotesquely deformed, costing you -4 Cha. You get the idea. Seriously, this is just asking for the DM to mess with you. If you really want to go this route, okay -- it's legal under RAW -- but recognize the risks; you're basically challenging the DM to a one-on-one contest of wits. It's game balance out the window if you win, and the DM is IMO fully justified in crippling or killing your PC if you don't. Proceed with caution.

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As part of DMDM's Guide to Planar Binding, I want to include an appendix on creatures that you can call and bind. Since there are a lot of outsiders, it's a big chunk of work. So I'm looking to crowdsource it.

We already did Lesser Planar Binding, which lets you summon and control outsiders of 6 HD or less. You can find that post and thread right here. Now let's do Planar Binding, which gives you access to more powerful creatures of up to 12 HD.

Here follows a partial list of targets. It's heavily weighted towards evil outsiders, because it grew out of my Guide to the Diabolist. You'll notice it's in order from lowest CR to highest; within a CR, it's alphabetical. Please feel free to either amend or expand existing entries, or create new entries (but in the same format, please, for consistency).

Many thanks in advance,

Doug M.

* * * * *

So, you have your circle drawn, your sacrifice ready, your nervous apprentice close at hand... it's time to start conjuring and binding! Here I list some of the outsiders you're most likely to conjure up. This is by no means a complete list; consult the pfsrd for more. An asterisk (*) means a creature that's a devil – a Diabolist can use Infernal Charisma against it.

There are three statistics you have to think about here: Spell Resistance, the creature's Charisma, and it's Will save. Its Will save is what it uses to resist being called in the first place, its SR will resist your spells, and its Cha can both get it out of the circle and be used to defy you. Remember, the more times it can defy you, the more rolls it gets to escape! So you want to win those Cha checks.

Planar Binding: Who You Gonna Call?

Bralani Azata [CR 6, SR 17, Will +6, Cha 15] – If for some reason you want a chaotic good outsider that’s respectable in ranged and melee combat, the bralani is your lad. It doesn’t do a lot of damage, but DR 10/cold iron or evil and at-will Blur and Mirror Image make it annoyingly hard to hit.

Ceustodaemon [CR 6, SR 0, Will +8, Cha 15] -- Go and look at the ceustodaemon's monster description. What, too busy? Okay, here's the good bit: "When brought to another plane with a [planar binding spell], ceustodaemons take a –5 penalty on the initial Will save and on their Charisma check to refuse service. Ceustodaemons also take a –5 penalty on saves against binding, planar binding, and other spells designed to bind a creature to a particular plane as long as the daemon is commanded to serve as a guardian for a single area or small complex." So there you go... for your purposes, the ceustodaemon has Will +3 and a Cha around 4 or so. And, oh yes, no SR. It's a CR 6 creature that's easier to summon and bind than an imp! These guys are going to be your melee shock troops for a level or two, and even at higher levels you'll occasionally be calling one up to mind the store while you're out of town. Don't forget to read the full flavor text, though: "Ceustodaemons find themselves on the Material Plane more often than any other daemon, as they are easily pressured into service—many call these creatures “guardian daemons” as a result. Yet in the back of their wicked minds, ceustodaemons always think about escaping their bonds and ripping to shreds the ones who summoned them."

Choral Angel [CR 6, Will +9, Cha 17, SR 17] – These small angels are useless in melee, but have a number of excellent SLAs: they can go invisible, Dispel Magic at will, or Plane Shift you and your friends somewhere. (And then back again, because they can Plane Shift at will.) And groups of them get enhanced abilities; call two and you get Heroism twice/day, call six and you get Greater Heroism or Holy Word 6x/day.

Erinyes* [CR 6, SR 19, Will +7, Cha 21] -- With flight and her +1 flaming long bow and feats, the erinyes is one of the few devils built for dishing out long-range hurt. Call up a couple of these angry ladies to provide air cover on an overland trek or other outdoors adventure. True Seeing + high Perception makes them good searchers, spotters and bodyguards, too. Note that you can get a +2 on your charisma check relatively cheaply (200 gp a pop) by giving them a holy symbol or some nice religious art to destroy.

Kyton (Chain Devil) [CR 6, SR 17, Will +3, Cha 12] -- Despite the name, kytons are not true devils; mechanically, they don't have the "devil" subtype. So a Diabolist’s Infernal Charisma won't work on them. Slightly more powerful in melee than the magaav or ceustodaemon, but still probably not worth the trouble unless you happen to have some very specific task involving sadism and lots and lots of chains.

Magaav* (Greater Host Devil) [CR 6, SR 17, Will +3, Cha 11] -- The Magaav is only just a bit more powerful than the Barbazu. (They do about the same amount of damage, but the Magaav can fly and has a better AC.) Probably not worth burning the higher level spell, especially since the ceustodaemon is about as powerful and much easier to call and bind.

Hellcat [CR 7, Will +5, SR 18, Cha 10] -- Sky-high Perception and Stealth + near-invisibility in light + pounce/rake make this cat your assassin in broad daylight. It's a very good melee combatant that's even better when the lights are on. The RAW makes a big deal about how this creature will plot revenge on you if slighted. This is a rare case where I think you can ignore the RAW if you want to, because the Hellcat is an Int 10 creature that can neither fly nor teleport nor plane shift and has no mind control powers or other alarming SLAs. I mean, you don't /want/ an invisible pouncing hell-feline running around with a grudge against you. But compared to some of the other creatures on this list -- at the same CR, consider the Shadow Demon or the Succubus -- the Hellcat's ability to deliver horrible surprises is pretty limited. This is one of the rare called outsiders you can hold off with a sturdy locked door while you fire up a Scry and then contact the local paladins.

Huge Fire Elemental [CR 7, SR 0, Will +5, Cha 11] -- "Burn everything. Leave no witnesses." Foul-tempered and not too bright, call this guy up when you just want to burn it all down. Like all elementals, it’s kinda dumb and has no Sense Motive, so it should be pretty easy to fool if you want to go that route.

Huge Water Elemental [CR 7, SR 0, Will +3, Cha 11] “When summoning a water elemental, remove sources of water from the room and prepare a bonfire. A ring of fire around the magic circle exposes the elemental to its hated enemy the instant it appears on the Material Plane, distracting it long enough for the binder to seize control. This is an opposed Will check, granting a +1 bonus to the caster for each large fire in the room; success grants a +4 bonus on the Charisma check.”

Levaloch* (Warmonger Devil) [CR 7, SR 12, Will +5, Cha 15] -- The Levaloch is a strange construct-devil hybrid. It's a pure combat brute with no SLAs at all, and its presence gives +1 on attacks and AC to adjacent devils. When you're tired of pushing ceustodaemons around, this guy is probably your next step up.

Shadow Demon [CR 7, SR 17, Will +7, Cha 19] -- You call up a shadow demon when you want to have something possessed by a demon. It's a challenging summons for a creature of its CR, but you can get +2 by offering it "the shell of a beautiful person to wear". Demons are chaotic and shadow demons are pretty much creatures of pure jealous malice, so don't count on exercising fine-tuned or lasting control. However, if your instruction is something like “kill the Duke, collateral damage not an issue”, the Shadow Demon’s possession ability makes it one of the best creatures you can call with this spell.

Shaitan [CR 7, SR 0, Will +8, Cha 15] – The Shaitan is a fine combat brute with a number of solid SLAs, including Stone Glide, which makes it an excellent scout and flanker. “Should the caster offer services in exchange for a throw of the dice or a wrestling match—and go through with the offer—he’ll receive a +2 bonus on his Charisma check.” Don’t do this unless the services you’re betting are trivial to you, or you’re quite sure of winning the contest. If you’re thinking of having your rogue buddy shave the dice or stack the deck, note that shaitans have +14 Perception and a 14 Int.

Succubus [CR 7, SR 18, Will +10, Cha 27] – Think hard about this one. Look at that Will save. Now look at that Charisma... the number, look at the number. Succubi are quite difficult to call and bind for a creature of their CR. They're also very smart and very chaotic. Yes, if you can bind her she has all sorts of excellent SLAs, and you can use her to wreak havoc in various interesting ways. Unfortunately, her SLAs and skills can also be used by a clever DM to mess with you all too easily. It's probably not worth the risk. Go find yourself a girlfriend and then conjure something that won't end up laughing its way back to the Abyss. But if you absolutely need to have a mind-controlling infilitrator, then give very clear and detailed instructions, and always have Protection from Evil ready to go. And don’t take that Profane Gift unless you have a dispel evil or dispel chaos spell handy.

Axiomite [CR 8, SR 19, Will +14, Cha 20] – The Axiomite has high Will for a creature of its CR, making it hard to catch. If you do get one, it’s not a combat monster but it is a fine backup caster, especially if you know you’ll be fighting large numbers of chaotic creatures – it has Telekinesis, Dispel Chaos and Empowered Order’s Wrath as 3x/day SLAs.

Nessian Hell Hound [CR 9, SR 0, Will +5, Cha 6] -- There's nothing complicated about the Nessian Hell Hound. It's a fire-breathing wolf the size of a horse. No SLAs, no teleportation -- this is a totally straightforward combat monster. And for a creature of its CR, it's ridiculously easy to call and bind. The only drawback is that they have Int 4, meaning you can only give them simple and clear commands. If you think tactical complexity is going to be needed, look somewhere else. But if all you need is a pack of brutes you can unleash to breath fire and rip stuff up, these guys are solid.

Night Hag [CR 9, SR 24, Will +11, Cha 17] -- There are only three reasons to call up a night hag. One is to discuss trading in soul gems -- say, if you've just successfully ambushed a Souldrinker and are trying to fence his hoard. The second would be sic her on someone to Dream Haunt them to death. And the third is because you're planning to murder someone and want to cast Soul Bind -- normally a 9th level spell. It won't be easy: the hag's high intelligence, solid Charisma, and crazy high SR make her tough to deal with. Also, a night hag is exactly the sort of creature that will carry a grudge forever and look to get revenge. Not that many of these other creatures are full of sweet forgiveness, but the night hag is a creepy, malevolent loner who's optimized for sneaking and murder. So, don't mess with the night hag unless you have some really compelling reason, or are confident you can kill the hag fast before she can go ethereal and escape.

Osyluth* (Bone Devil) [CR 9, SR 20, Will +7, Cha 18] -- The osyluth is a strange duck. It's slightly underpowered in melee for its CR. Its mix of SLAs goes back to first edition, which means, they don't make a lot of sense. It probably works best as an ambush specialist, using invisibility and major image to line up on its victim. It does have Dimensional Anchor as a SLA, which means it's useful to have around if you're fighting things that like to teleport (like, say, other outsiders).

Vrock [CR 9, SR 20, Will +6, Cha 16] -- The vrock is an odd choice, but it has its points. It's a combat brute, noticeably more powerful in melee than the osyluth. If you summon more than one, you can get some serious Dance of Ruin action going. And it's relatively easy to get that +2 Cha bonus against it -- "The vrock loves to despoil and befoul things of great beauty. Artwork worth at least 250 gp or a living, intelligent creature to destroy are equally desirable sacrifices." Call up a vrock when you want to inflict swift destruction on masses of low or middle-level enemies.

Zelekhut Inevitable [CR 9, SR 20, Will +10, Cha 17] -- The zelekhut is another good choice for melee; it does less raw damage than the vrock, but has more useful SLAs. Unfortunately, it's RAW that inevitables can simply refuse to serve if ordered to do things against their nature. (They're the only outsiders with this option, thank goodness.) So you only want to call up a zelekhut if you're doing something that serves the cause of Law -- and if your party goes off message and starts acting chaotically, be prepared for the creature to simply shut down. Ideally, you'd want to summon one or more of these guys for going after someone who is trying to escape punishment, since that's their particular area of expertise. This could be a perfect fit for some particular adventures -- "The Whispering Tyrant was justly imprisoned. Now his minions seek to end his punishment by freeing him. We work to stop them, so that his lawful punishment may continue forever." -- but probably not for most "kill the monsters and take their stuff" type dungeons.

Bebelith Demon [CR 10, SR 0, Will +7, Cha 13] – The bebelith is actually pretty easy to summon and bind for a creature of its CR -- mediocre Will save, low Cha, and no (!) SR. It’s an excellent melee brute that also loves killing demons. Oddly, it can’t fly or teleport, nor does it have a dimension lock or any other way of dealing with teleporting outsiders… but it’s still a pretty good bargain. Huge sized, so make sure you have room.

Phistophilus* (Contract Devil) [CR 10, SR 21, Will +16, Cha 22] -- Mechanically, the phistophilus' high Will save makes it hard to call up. However, once you get it, you have a potentially very interesting encounter. The phistophilus is a surprisingly competent melee fighter, but that's probably not what you want it for. No, you call up a phistophilus to talk about making deals. You may want to sign one yourself, of course – three wishes in return for your soul, and all that. But also, there's no reason you can't act as a go-between or broker, connecting the contract devil to mortals who are greedy or foolish enough to accept a deal. Obviously, if this works out, you'd be within your rights to negotiate a reasonable commission... The phistophilus also gives you a rare opportunity to deal with a devil who is intelligent, well connected, and at least potentially friendly. If you want to work out some sort of special deal with Hell, summoning one of these guys is a good starting point.

Cauchemar (Nightmare) [CR 11, SR 0, Will +7, Cha 12] -- See the entry on the nightmare, because this is just a bigger, meaner nightmare. (In fact, it's a Huge size creature. Make sure your circle is big enough.) Very easy to summon and bind for a creature of its CR.

Hamatula* (Barbed Devil) [CR 11, SR 22, Will +8, Cha 18] -- At first glance the hamatula looks like the high-level version of the bearded devil: a tough combat fighter, and with a bunch of useful (if somewhat random) SLAs. Unfortunately, we're getting up to the levels where devils have distinct personalities and agendas, and the hamatula is kind of a jerk even by the standards of Hell. "Hamatulas despise being summoned away from their duties in Hell for any reason. A devil summoner who offers a hamatula rare treasures and exotic gems valued at more than 2,000 gp gains a +2 bonus on all Charisma checks made to compel the devil to service, but only if the task takes less than 24 hours to complete. Those who try to compel hamatulas to longer terms of service, whatever the service might be, take a -2 penalty on their charisma checks." Well la dee dah. The hamatula is a special snowflake. If you have the firepower to enforce your will upon it, it makes a fine bodyguard, but given the flavor text your DM would be justified in making it a grudge-holding long-term enemy if you keep it away from Hell for more than a day.

Akhana Aeon [CR 12, SR 23, Will +14, Cha 18] -- It's RAW that the neutral Aeons are difficult to understand or control (though the flavor text doesn't explain how that works mechanically). Still, the Akhana makes this list for one reason: it can cast Raise Dead and Restoration. So if you have a dead PC and no 9th+ level cleric on hand, you conjure up one of these guys. NOTE: it’s RAW that what one Aeon knows, every Aeon knows. So think twice before you bully, abuse or kill a conjured Aeon. It's not clear that the guardians of neutrality would hold grudges, but on the other hand it's not clear that they wouldn't.

Kolyarut Inevitable [CR 12, SR 23, Will +11, Cha 16] -- High SR and Will make this a tough summons, and the kolyarut, like the zelekhut, can shut itself down if ordered to act against its nature. But if you have an adventure goal that fits with the particular obsessions of the kolyarut -- punishing oath-breakers and seeing that contracts are kept -- then this becomes a very attractive option. "The Queen swore before the gods to protect and serve the city, but instead she has unleashed pestilence and monsters upon her blameless people!" If you can make the rolls to call and bind it, you might gain a CR 12 ally who not only is a very powerful melee combatant but can throw enervation at will.

They don't stack. And, really, that's a good thing. The Diabolist's imp companion is already excellent. (I mean, if it dies, it costs *nothing* to replace. You just wait 24 hours and another one flies in the window.) Stacking it with a familiar would be kind of overpowered. Also, taking the familiar and the companion together can lead to some weird and interesting tactics:

* * *

Play a caster with a familiar. Throw a feat at improved familiar to get an imp. It's helpful, but not necessary, if you're human and choose the Eye for Talent alternate racial (+2 on any ability score for familiars and companions.) Max out your ranks in Intimidate. Your imp familiar gets to use these ranks.

Now dip a level of Diabolist. Hey, you just got an imp companion! Now you have two imps, one one each shoulder.

Unfortunately, Intimidate is not a class skill for imps. And worse yet, as Tiny creatures imps will suffer -4 on their Intimidate (demoralize) checks against all larger creatures. That sounds pretty bad. But on the other hand, two imps means you get to check twice! Leverage this. Let's say you took Eye for Talent -- +2 Cha for each imp. And then have each imp take Skill Focus (Intimidate).

How does this play out in practice? Well, at level N each imp will have N ranks. So up until 10th level, their Intimidate checks will be at N+2 (+3 for their 16 Cha, +3 for the feat, -4 for their size). At 9th level, that's two checks at +11. What are some typical demoralize DCs for monsters you might face at this level? Rakshasa, 21; nosferatu, 22; young adult black dragon, 25; frost giant, 26. With two checks at +11, your odds of demoralizing these guys are, rakshasa - 80%, nosferatu - 75%, dragon - 51%, and giant - 44%.

That's actually pretty good. And once you hit 10th level and your imps pick up an additional +3 from the feat, your odds get very nice indeed. You have a well better than even chance of demoralizing any monster of your CR, and a near certainty of success against large groups of lower level (CR -2 or -3) mooks. I wouldn't say this is a fantastic tactic; it requires a bit of planning and investment. But it's definitely viable, especially at level 11 and up. Intimidate is a fine debuff (-2 on attacks and saves) that ignores SR and all other defensive abilities. And of course, there's the visual: you walk into a room full of monsters, and your two imps start jumping up and down on your shoulders, screeching like insane apes, and all the monsters become demoralized...


Doug M.

Bump before I start on the next piece (Planar Binding). Comments, as always, welcome.

Doug M.

Still squeaking along on the gig a month. That's not really enough to do much. (Oh, how times change. I'm old enough to remember dialup modems.) I do have broadband access at the office, but I mildly dislike doing campaign stuff at the office.

Going to go back and see if I can get a better plan. More anon...

How long have you been playing him, and what level is the campaign?

Doug M.

Alderman Gwerm cowers away from the enraged kobold. "I... I... yes, of course... we, uh, we must work together for the um, common good... naturally, I agree..."

Of course, intimidation wears off. And then people don't like you very much.


Ee! Don't like that!

Bad man tried to touch us!

Balek Nine-fingered wrote:

"Be calm," Balek says, stepping forward and touching Laurine's cheek. "You are yourself, not your hands and not your mouth and most especially not the plaything of demons."

Domain power: calming touch:

Interesting. Strictly speaking, she doesn't have the fatigued, shaken or sickened conditions, so formally it shouldn't do anything to her. But there's definitely agitation there. Calming Touch is a fairly minor power, but... well, let's see:

1d20 ⇒ 19

Osei Otieno wrote:

A question: I can't cast a spell while frightened, but wouldn't I be able to bring the lights with me (concentration/act of thought) as a basic survival tactic? Even in a state of magical fear, would one rush into a dark area if one had the means to brighten it? Would one throw a torch away? know, I thought moving Dancing Lights around was a move action (it is for some other spells, like Flaming Sphere). But no. So, actually, you'd *have* to bring the lights long; if you can use magic or an item to assist your flight, you'll do it.

Okay. Sorry for the delay -- my internet access is not everything it should be. (Free at the office, but I have to live on a gig a month otherwise. Which is not actually that much!)

More to come shortly.

Balek Nine-fingered wrote:

Follow the wisdom of the wise. Balek nods slowly, following Haruka's advice. "She's right, you know. We have to stick together, or we will all be stuck here. Remember who stands beside you, who fights with you, who has been at your side and helping you."

I hope that works.

One of the mouths giggles in a horrible slobbery way. The other one titters. (They have different voices.)

At our side? You can come to our side now! Hee hee hee!

Ah heh heh heh! No more being afraid! No more hiding! Happy now!

"Happy now..." says Laurine dreamily.

Osei Otieno wrote:

[dice=Will Save]1d20+3

. . . Hoo boy.

Fear. Fear. Can't stay near that thing. Thing is going to come for you, eat your mind. Run. Run. Run, Osei. RUN!

(Do you have darkvision? No, right? So after the first round of running, you'll be out of range of your dancing lights and scrambling over rubble in the dark.)

...Laurine completes her spell; Will save needed from Osei.

(Lot of 20s around you two.)

I'm going to treat Takka's outburst as an Intimidate check with a +2 circumstance bonus. 1d20 + 3 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 3 + 2 = 20 Ooh, that works!

But first...

Osei Otieno wrote:



I really, really hope that's not for her saving throws. Also - two nat 20s?

The good news is, the first was your roll to overcome SR! (Yeah, apparently she has SR now.)

The bad news is, yup, the second one was her save. She doesn't even blink.

Osei Otieno wrote:

Osei looks Laurine in the eyes and his voice - changes - as he intones a cacophony of slurring syllables and hisses that seem to darken the lights dancing overhead.

1d100 ⇒ 7


Hee hee! Maybe!

Surrre! Come closerr!

"No! Mine!"

Laurine throws one hand forward and snarls something complicated that rhymes.

She's casting. Since you had a spell readied, you can throw the Color Spray if you choose. If it works, it may prevent her from casting. (No, you don't have time to Spellcraft what she's casting at you. It's a split second decision.) You can also choose not to Color Spray, in which case you keep the spell. Assuming you're still in shape to cast it, of course.

If you do cast it, roll two d20s.

Sir Constantine Godalming wrote:

Offers his arm...."What was that you were saying?"

Felice gives you a strange look. "Another...? Huh. Ha." She leans heavily on you, her face pale. "I thank you... sir. Pain... is the Dark Lord's... lesson book. Today I must be... a good student."

The old elf looks stricken. "What... the rest of... I remember falling... where are we?"

Takka of the Toad wrote:

"!" Takka piped up, spinning about to point at Gwerm as he spoke with authority. Now was not the time for self-doubt or pity! "Alderman, was it? You and the elf will stay with me - you'll be safe here."

1d20 ⇒ 10

Alderman Gwerm looks at you, blinks, then seems to snap out of his disorientation. "I am an Alderman! I don't take instructions from a... reptile!"

An NPC in my campaign recently quoted from the Asmodean Book of Nursery Rhymes. I immediately realized that this was a thing that had to exist, in Cheliax if nowhere else. It's a large volume of highly instructive poems and stories for children, with diverting illustrations; every well-raised child in Cheliax grows up with it.

Here's the one rhyme that got quoted:

When peril comes
That threatens all
Then the weak and the wounded
Must go to the wall.

So: who can come up with some more simple rhymes for children to help them learn the basic moral rules of life in Cheliax? (Riddles and simple stories are good too.)

Doug M.

She actually is quoting from something: the Asmodean Book of Nursery Rhymes. It's a large volume of highly instructive poems and stories for children, with diverting illustrations. Every well-raised child in Cheliax grows up with it.

Haruka Shiraboshi wrote:
Haruka looks between Felice and Laurine, deciding on a course of action and wispers to the girl she is lending support to [smaller] "Lady Felice it might be necessary that I interfere in this situation with Laurine, to do that I would have to let go of you."

Felice leans heavily on her broken shard of rubble and grits her teeth. She is obviously still in a great deal of pain. But, "When peril comes... that threatens all...," she gasps, "Then the weak and the wounded... must go to the wall." (It sounds like she is quoting something.) "Do what... you need to do. Go."

Osei Otieno wrote:

"Forgive me, Laurine. There is no need to lash out or defend yourself - I only wanted to study the stone. It is dangerous and contains all of the infinite malice of the..."

Laurrine? Who is Laurrine?

"I am Laurine," says Laurine. She's looking at you, but her eyes are unfocused and strange.

You arre Laurine? The mouth sounds slightly skeptical.

A mouth opens in Laurine's other hand. Yes. We arre Laurine, it says. Ourr name is Laurine, becaause we arre many.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
"Thank you... ah... sir?" The elf makes some grasping gestures in the air over Takka's head.

"I... I am afraid something has happened to my... my sight. Can you tell me...?" In fact his eyes are just gone. He got lashed by the big demon's whip, right across the face.

Knowledge: Somehow they reversed the Wardstone, or part of it. The detonation was caused by those massively antithetical energies. Possibly some shards of the Wardstone survived intact; obviously some of the corrupted pieces did as well.

[How did they do it? Could they do it again? Was there some power source? Some artifact or some such? And... what might be learned from examining a fragment? With suitable care, of course, of course.]

Osei Otieno wrote:

He turns his attention back to Laurine. "Forgive me, Laurine. There is no need to lash out or defend yourself - I only wanted to study the stone. It is dangerous and contains all of the infinite malice of the..."

Osei pauses, and his voice trails off. The fragment is... not exactly sentient, no. But horribly animate, filled with crawling destructive energies, like a diseased organ wriggling with parasites.

Yet it's also full of power. If someone -- some cautious, thoughtful person, steady of hand and will -- if someone could tap or control those writhing energies somehow...

"Thank you... ah... sir?" The elf makes some grasping gestures in the air over Takka's head.

Alderman Gwerm is still standing with a rather vacant look on his face.

-- The general rule is that you can undo stuff as long as neither I nor anyone else has responded to it. There is Balek's post, above, but I'd say that falls under "speech as free action".

So, okay -- you're not throwing the color spray; you're readying the spell instead.

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