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Douglas Muir 406's page

8,237 posts. 5 reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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I don't agree with the guy who was complaining about undead minions. In the first module you're too low level to have them until near the end. In the second module, heck yeah, you can have all the dang undead minions you want. In the third they work out pretty well too, although you do have to keep in mind that you're facing a lot of fire-themed good-aligned creatures. In the fourth and fifth they're both completely fine, and if you survive to the sixth module you can do pretty much whatever you please.

Doug M.

Antipaladin is a strong and thematic choice.

An evil ranger is an unusual choice that can really shine in this AP.

A rogue. Yes, really, a rogue. You have the stats to play it, and IME experienced players tend to veer away from the rogue. But putting aside the whole "are rogues underpowered" issue, in *this* AP a rogue can have a crazy lot of fun. Have a decent Cha, crank up Bluff and Disguise and play the party face.

Doug M.

Veltharis wrote:

The idea of building a Diabolist as a Dimensional Occultist Witch has been something I've considered for a while now (envisioned as sort of a diabolic variant on Areelu Vorlesh from Wrath of the Righteous), but by my understanding Witches do not get access to the Protection from Evil (et al) or Magic Circle spells, at least by default.

Am I correct in this? If so, how badly would that hamper the character's effectiveness and do you have any ideas for mitigating those issues?

You are correct and it is a problem. It's why I color the witch green instead of blue. If you're going to play a witch, the Dimensional Occultist is flavorful and cool, and uses the Dimensions patron, so you don't have to worry about getting Planar Binding.

As for the utility spells, there are several workarounds. The obvious ones include wands, scrolls, other party members, and taking leadership and getting a cohort. (Leadership is always nice, but it's extra attractive for any Diabolist other than a wizard, just because there are so darn many spells that are useful for a Diabolist.)

Doug M.

It's actually quite similar to the silver tongue racial trait. Not everyone can be human, though.

As to the Peacemaker's Parley -- that is flat-out amazing. Any Diplomacy monkey should absolutely take this spell.

Doug M.

Agreed that Black Tentacles is solid.

Can you tell us anything more about your character? What's his bloodline, what feats does he already have, and what are his go-to spells so far?

Doug M.

The Judge only:

It's an archaic and highly stylized version of the dialect of the Ice Elves. The singing seems to be part of a long and complicated ballad telling a story about three elven princesses.

Students of ice elven history might be aware of this particular ballad! For everyone else, it would require a DC 30 Knowledge [history] check to recognize it.

Let's say you want to build a 12th level paladin who's specialized for fighting evil outsiders generally and devils in particular. How might you go about doing that? The Oath Against Fiends, obviously. Are there any other archetypes or feats that would be particularly helpful?

Doug M.

I believe you both are correct. So, under RAW, the Diabolist could switch alignments and still keep the class benefits. In fact, I think that under RAW he could continue to advance as a Diabolist! (Does anyone know otherwise?)

Now, this would lead to some complications. For one, if you become good-aligned, conjuring evil outsiders becomes morally problematic. (Conjuring evil creatures adds the "evil" descriptor to the conjuration spell.) For another, you're still Damned to Hell when you die; that doesn't change. And for a third, I think we can reasonably assume that Hell has some pretty strict in-game checks against apostates. If you've sworn allegiance in blood and fire to mighty Asmodeus by and through his servant, the pit fiend Lord Humongus, Baron of the Seventh Circle and Second Deputy Minister for Internal Infernal Affairs? And then you change your mind and start dancing with butterflies by starlight? You gotta figure Lord H. is going to notice and take firm and decisive action. I wouldn't start any long books.

That said, a White Diabolist could be a cool NPC character concept.

Doug M.

The singers drift very slowly through the air, turning in a dreamy circle. They look like women dressed in long, elaborate flowing dresses. They seem to be the source of the light; they are glowing, giving off a cool phosphorescent radiance. You can't make out details of their faces or clothing, though, unless you come closer.

They sing. Sometimes one sings alone for a few bars or a short passage, then another. Then two or all three of them will harmonize. The music is achingly beautiful, and terribly sad.

[If you speak elvish, you can make a DC 25 Linguistics check. Otherwise the song is completely incomprehensible.]

This side chamber is the same size as the last few, a rough oval, about 50' x 60', with an arched ceiling about 60' above. Someone put some effort into finishing it, though; the walls are made of dressed stone instead of the crudely piled boulders you've seen so far. A faint glow, roughly equivalent to moonlight, suffuses the chamber; low light vision will work fine, but darkvision is cancelled.

There are some side niches or small chambers coming off the large main chamber, but it's impossible to see what (if anything) they contain without going further inside.

The floor is dressed stone but with a number of low, rectangular stones sticking a few inches up. If you were walking, it would be a somewhat difficult surface to run or maneuver over.

In the center of the chamber are three strange structures. It looks like they are roughly D-shaped, each about 7' tall, and made of some sort of elaborately carved wood. You can't see any detail from here.

Floating about 30' up in the air are the singers.

Wow, for a CR 5 monster [url=]these guys are just nasty]/url]. They're basically shadow demons, except weaker and LE. But they can possess people, and hope from body to body. And in large groups they're crazy dangerous, because they have a con-draining touch attack; a bunch of them could swarm even a quite powerful melee character and drain him dry in a round or two.

They seem creepy and flavorful, but I can't recall seeing them being used in any module or product. Has anyone had any experience with these guys?

Doug M.

@Skylancer, Divine Protection is a great feat, but it's not specifically wonderful for a Diabolist. If I were to list every really good feat, the Guide would become rather inconveniently long.

Doug M.

Okay then: you proceed on your way. The passage continues to curve slowly until it is heading due east -- you've now gone from midnight to 6:00, traveling counterclockwise.

To your left, an opening yawns to the north: there's another passage in there, also curved, apparently concentric to this one but closer to the center.

A little ahead, around the 5:30 mark, there's another side chamber. Even from 60' away, you can see that a glow is coming out of it, like dim moonlight. A faint sound comes to your ears: music. Someone is singing in there. Or several someones; it sounds like more than one sweet voice. First one sings, then another, then they harmonize, breathtakingly.

This feats lets you add your Intelligence or Wisdom modifier (whichever is higher) on Diplomacy checks in place of Cha, and also allows you to shift a creature's attitude more than two steps with Diplomacy.

That last is potentially quite powerful! At high levels you could build a Diplomacy monkey with the power to turn hostile creatures friendly or helpful with a single Diplomacy check. For instance, let's say I have +30 Diplomacy. Under RAW, that means that if I can get a hostile creature to stand still and listen to me for a minute (not always possible, of course -- but if) then on a roll of 10 against a no-Cha-bonus enemy I'll shift it all the way from Hostile to Helpful. Even if it has a +5 Cha bonus I'll still manage Helpful on a 16 and will get at least Indifferent 80% of the time. If you can crank it up to +40 -- which is not terribly hard to do by 15th level or so -- then even against a +10 Cha enemy (rare even at this level), I'll have an even chance of shifting Hostile to Helpful and will automatically be able to make Hostile foes indifferent.

Obviously there will be many encounters that can't be defused in this manner, but it's still pretty sweet.


Doug M.

Fwoomph! They seem to be quite flammable, and light up and burn merrily.

If I don't hear otherwise, I'll assume that you shrug, turn around, and continue heading along the main passageway.

Some of the new bits that have been added.


Arcanist [green] – The Arcanist makes a perfectly respectable Diabolist, but if you want to play an arcane caster, you’re probably a bit better off with a witch, wizard, or sorcerer. Like the sorcerer, the arcanist has slower spell progression and a limited number of spells, but like the witch and wizard, he has to split his stats between Int and Cha. While there are many interesting arcanist exploits, none of them are specifically useful in calling, binding and otherwise dealing with conjured outsiders. The arcane reservoir does help you build an interesting blaster, so there’s that. If you want to play an Arcanist, consider the Eldritch Font archetype, as it is mildly helpful both for blasting and for dealing with conjured fiends.

Cleric [orange] – You’re stuck with Planar Ally, and the Diabolist’s boor BAB progression will hurt you in melee. If you can live with that, there are things to like about the cleric: fast spell progression, lots of useful utility spells, and you can leverage other aspects of this PrC. Enter it early, enjoy your imp companion, and blast a lot with Hellfire admixture. You’ll start having fun at higher levels when the (relative) cost of Planar Ally starts to drop.

Oracle [orange] – A Cha-based caster, which is good, but otherwise basically a feebler cleric, with no access to Planar Binding and a lot fewer spells. Unfortunately, most revelations and mysteries don’t add much value for a Diabolist. The notable exception is the Outer Rifts mystery [green]: it gets all the Planar Binding spells, and has two or three moderately useful revelations. It’s demon-themed, but could still make a pretty okay Diabolist.


[All these feats are green unless otherwise noted.]

Breadth of Knowledge – A fine feat that’s unfortunately restricted to elves and gnomes, this gives you +2 on *all* Knowledge checks. If you’re playing a wizard who’s a knowledge monkey (as many wizards are), this is pretty attractive. Also, every bit helps when you’re researching those true names.

Conversion Channel [orange] – Consider this if you’re a cleric of Asmodeus who uses channeling; it lets you healbomb fellow worshippers (presumably including all devils) once/day.

Diabolical Negotiator -- You can add your Intelligence or Wisdom modifier (whichever is higher) on Diplomacy checks in place of Cha, and you can shift a creature's attitude more than two steps with Diplomacy. That last is potentially quite powerful, as at high levels you could build a Diplomacy monkey with the power to turn hostile creatures (including called creatures!) friendly or helpful. Might be blue, but unfortunately it imposes a feat tax – you must have Skill Focus [Diplomacy] first.

Esoteric Advantage – Lets you reduce a creature’s DR, SR, or energy resistance by 2 if you first make a Knowledge check. As a practical matter, this will be an extra Spell Penetration feat, except not quite as good as Spell Penetration because you have to check first. On the other hand, your Knowledge (Planes) should be high enough that you autowin checks on most outsiders. If you really want to blow past SR, pile this on top of the two Spell Penetration feats.

Fast Study (wizard discovery) – This lets you restudy Planar Binding and the associated utility spells fast, effectively allowing you to cast it in the middle of a dungeon. This is situational, but could be super handy if you suddenly need the abilities of a particular outsider. Under RAW it would also allow you to restudy and cast this spell many times per day, allowing you to very rapidly raise an army of outsiders. That’s potentially unbalancing, though, so talk to your DM first.

Noble Scion (Scion of Lore) [orange] – The poor cousin of Breadth of Knowledge, this gives you +1 on every knowledge feat you have a rank in. Oh, and +2 on Knowledge [Nobility] (eyeroll). Still, if you can’t get Breadth of Knowledge, might be worth a feat.

Sacred Summons – Normally there’s a two-feat tax on this one (SF: Conjuration and Augment Summons). But since Diabolist clerics get Augment Summons for free, this is actually quite attractive for them.

Superior Summons [orange] – I’m honestly not sure if this is worthwhile or not. On one hand, you don’t have to pay the normal feat tax on this because you’re getting Augment Summons for free. On the other hand, is summoning large numbers of lower level monsters really the way you want to go, especially when you already have large numbers of conjured creatures running around? I guess this is green if you’re comfortable with running lots of creatures at once.

Skill Focus (Knowledge [Planes]) – Is it worth spending one of your precious, precious feats on this? Maybe! It’s not immediately useful, but at higher levels, the +6 this gives you can really be leveraged – you use it to research the true names of powerful outsiders, and then you use that to abuse them mercilessly. I mean, call them to serve.

Vile Leadership – Leadership except you get to be a jerk to your followers.


There are just a few traits that might be specifically useful to you. If none of these look interesting, take something that gives you a bonus to Diplomacy, Bluff, or Knowledge (planes), or to Will saves. (Or, heck, just take Reactive. You’re never going to go wrong with +2 Init.)

Asmodean Demon Hunter -- You gain a +3 trait bonus on Knowledge (planes) checks about demons and a +2 trait bonus on Will saves against mind-affecting spells and effects from demons. Take this if you’re going to occasionally walk on the wild side and call demons, or if you’re playing Wrath of the Righteous.

Charlatan (gnome) – Sacrifice a spell or spell slot to gain an instant bonus to one Bluff check equal to the level of the spell lost. Situational, but at higher levels you’ll have spells and slots to burn, and you’ve chosen a profession where sometimes you’ll just really need to make a convincing lie.

Dark Magic Affinity (tiefling) – Whenever you cast a spell with the [evil] descriptor, you act as if you were one level higher for the purpose of determining that spell’s effects. That’s an extra damage die on your Hellfire spells, and an extra day of service from your bindings.

Family Connections (tiefling) – You get +2 on Bluff and Diplomacy against evil outsiders.

Planar Negotiator (aasimar) – Whenever you cast one of the planar ally spells, you receive a 10% discount on the monetary cost required by the summoned outsiders. Avery nice trait indeed for a diabolist cleric.

Planar Savant -- Use Cha instead of Int when making Knowledge (planes) checks. Good for sorcerors!

Wicked Leader – Benefit(s): You gain a +1 trait bonus on Charisma checks against evil creatures. If you select the Leadership feat or the Vile Leadership feat, you can recruit a cohort who is up to 1 level lower than you (instead of the normal 2 or more levels) as long as your cohort is evil.

True Names:

You want True Names. You want as many of them as you can possibly get your sweaty little hands on. Why? Because when you know an outsider’s true name, it gets -5 on its Will save against your spell, and then another -5 on checks to escape your circle. And you can call that same outsider, over and over again. The outsider probably won’t like this much, but what do you care? You have its true name. And you can very plausibly threaten to publicize it, causing the outsider’s life to become unbearable as it’s endlessly called to service.

All devils have true names, as do most other outsiders. (Proteans, aeons and qlippoth do not. You don’t want to summon any of those anyway.) There are three ways to discover them. First, you can simply be a wizard and take the True Name arcane discovery. That’s only available at the 11th wizard level, though, so it’s not a great choice for diabolists.

Second, you can beat, bribe, or otherwise crowbar it out of another devil. According to RAW, “Lesser devils [12 or fewer HD] typically know 1d4+1 true names and sigils, while greater devils usually know 2d8+2. There are certain exceptions such as lemures that never know any true names, osyluths that usually know as many names and sigils as true devils, and gelugons and certain other highly manipulative greater devils who might know double the typical number.” To get a true name out of a conjured devil, you need to make a second opposed Cha check – that’s in addition to the one you made to summon it – and if that works, you get the name but nothing else; the devil promptly pops back home to Hell. The name will always be the name of a weaker devil than the one you called. Don’t be surprised if names obtained this way come with serious strings attached; after all, you’re basically asking the DM to get creative here. When it turns out that the osyluth gave you the name of a particularly intelligent barbazu who is chief torturer to Lord Humongus, a powerful pit fiend? And that Lord H. will quickly miss his favored servant, and come looking for him in person? You can’t say you weren’t warned.

Third, you can research it. You discover a true name by spending at least a month in a well-equipped library (or three months for a devil of 13 or more HD) and then making a Knowledge [Planes] check. The DC is 25 if you’re looking for a random lesser devil; otherwise, if you’re looking for a specific name, it’s 20+the creature’s HD. That can get up pretty high, but with max ranks, good Int, aid from another, Heresy, and the right feats and items, it’s actually not at all hard to get +35 or so by the low teen levels.

Note that the DM rolls the check secretly, and if you fail by 5 or more, you get the name wrong, with potentially horrific consequences. The RAW doesn’t spell out those consequences, but it’s not hard to think of some nasty ones. After all, it’s canon that fiends salt bad names out there as bait for uppity mortal spellcasters. A bad name might call up something much nastier than you intended, or cause your protective circle to malfunction, or act as a signal flare to powerful and hostile forces, or open you to magic-jar style possession. Do you really want to give your DM a chance to exercise his deranged imagination? Just don’t try to research anything whose DC is greater than your modifier +5.


2nd level

Shared Sacrifice – Conjured outsiders may not be willing to have this spell cast on them, and unwilling targets get SR and a Will save. However, it works just fine on summoned creatures or – heh heh heh – your imp companion. The rounds/level duration is a nuisance, but it’s a fine buff for casting before big combats if you have time.

3rd level

Blood Transcription – This creepy but thematic spell allows you to learn new spells by drinking the blood of dead spellcasters. And yes, this does work for learning SLAs from a dead outsider.

Vision of Hell – Pleasantly thematic, this is really a simple area-based debuff: Will save or be shaken. The good things about it are long range, wide area (50’ radius) and minutes/level duration. The bad thing is, lawful evil creatures are unaffeted. Oh, and it also affects your allies. Not an issue if they’re lawful evil, mind. Not a bad spell, but more about cool factor than mechanical advantage.

4th level

Sacrifice – This spell is very thematic, but only occasionally useful. Spending 100 gp/HD to get a miserable +1 on your DC or Cha check isn’t usually that good a deal. Sacrificing a captive enemy for +2 is a bit more attractive. (Certainly it’s a lot easier than some of the crazier creature-specific offerings, like the marilith and her military hand sashimi.) Of course, having to subdue and capture the wretched paladin instead of just killing him is kind of a pain. But on the plus side, anyone you kill with this spell can’t be brought back except by a wish or miracle.

5th level

Spellcasting Contract, Lesser – Unfortunately, this is a cleric/oracle-only spell. Absolutely take it if you’re a diabolist cleric. “You gain a profane bonus to your Armor Class, saving throws, and checks equal to the highest- level spell you have imbued.” That includes Cha checks to bargain down the cost of Planar Allies. For a combat cleric, trading spell slots for AC and saves makes a lot of sense anyway. Even if you're not a combat cleric, giving spells to your conjured creatures (or your imp) can have some really excellent effects on economy of action. Finally, note that it’s totally appropriate for you to trade spells in return for actions or favors, especially ones that may lead to someone getting damned.

7th level

Spellcasting Contract – See above.

8th level

Trap the Soul – This is expensive (1,000 gp per hit die) and not really worth doing unless you know the creature’s name. But if you do know its name, you can boss it around anyway. It’s pleasant and convenient to have an outsider trapped indefinitely in a gem that you can carry around, but it’s probably not worth the cost and risk unless someone is willing to pay you to do it. I'd say this spell, like Binding, is only really useful if the DM allows you to use it for attitude adjustment purposes (i.e., getting modifiers on rolls against your conjured creatures.)

9th level

Spellcasting Contract, Greater – See above. Note that this can give you a profane bonus of to +5 on AC and saves, 24/7 all the time. The only reason this isn’t utterly awesome is that you may have other profane bonuses, and they may not stack.

Magic items:

Circlet of Persuasion (4,500) gp – A +3 competence bonus on Charisma checks? Sweet. You definitely want this. It even stacks with Eagles Splendor (enhancement bonus). Just remember that it takes up your headband slot.

Hamatulatsu Robe (14,000 gp) – You might want this for the coolness factor and the +1 untyped AC bonus. The d8 of unarmed damage and the weird monk feat are fun if you’re the sort who enjoys beating minions to a pulp with your bare hands.

The Inward-Facing Circle (2255 gp) – This astonishing book is a spell book that contains a spell book containing greater planar binding, planar binding, lesser planar binding, agonize, dimensional anchor, sacrifice, magic circle against evil, and communal protection from evil. But that’s just the beginning! It also gives you a +2 circumstance bonus on Knowledge (planes] checks concerning devils; a focus to use plane shift to travel to a specific layer of hell; shows you how to create a permanent circle that isn't broken by footsteps or a gust of wind; and gives you – wait for it – a whopping +5 bonus on charisma checks against called devils. If you DM allows it, you absolutely must have this book.

Odds and ends:

The Diabolist is technically legal for PFS play, but you can’t enter the class until 9th level for wizards, and your Hellfire powers are nerfed by a distinct shortage of good-aligned opponents. (On the other hand, being damned doesn’t matter so much.) Dipping one level for the imp is probably the best option for PFS.

At higher levels, the Infernal Binder subschool of conjuration specialists has the obnoxious power of being able to hijack your control over called creatures. Would your DM throw one of these guys at you? Surely not.

Thoughts and comments welcome!

Doug M.

Okay, a partial list of edits:

    -- Short discussion of the Arcanist
    -- Discussion of the Damned story feat
    -- Added feats: Conversion Channel, Diabolical Negotiator, Esoteric Advantage, Fast Study, Sacred Summons, Superior Summons
    -- Added (a few) traits
    -- Discussion of true names, why they matter and three ways to get them
    -- Added some spells: shared sacrifice, vision of hell, sacrifice, spellcasting contract
    -- Added some magic items: circlet of persuasion, hamatulatsu robe, Inward-Facing Circle (I still would really like a cite for this book... are you sure it's not 3PP?).
    -- Short discussion of PFS play

If nobody has any further suggestions, in a day or two I'll finalize and repost.

Doug M.

Shatter? Really?

Delay Poison? Really?

At higher levels Vanish's shorter duration becomes less of a big deal, sure.

Doug M.

Wouldn't a naval commander be an admiral, not a general?

Also, it would help if we knew what his intended role was. One-off? Recurring foe? Mastermind? BBEG / boss? How are the PCs likely to meet him?

Doug M.

About 20 or so.

Web stays strong a surprisingly long time because it targets Reflex, by far the most common bad save.

A low level Summoned monster is still useful as a flank buddy for the party fighter and rogue, and for soaking up attacks.

Low level illusions can be viable at all levels; after all, there's no Will save as long as the target creature is not interacting with them.

Mirror Image.

Doug M.

You could be a LN diabolist, which would give you access to LN, N and -- in theory -- LG gods. Desna is NG, though, so under RAW I'd say not.

Mind, if you're dealing with outsiders a lot, anything that piles on the spell penetration is a thing you want to have. Esoteric Advantage is a poor man's spell penetration feat, but even so it's worth considering.

Doug M.

Cutting it down... does nothing.

Cutting it open... reveals a greenish mass of jelly veined with black tubules. In the center is a squirming, slug-like creature as long as your hand, with stubby tentacles and what looks like a rudimentary shell. It writhes sluggishly for a few moments and then twitches and dies.

Gilarius, Esoteric Advantage could indeed be useful. On one hand, it's a weaker form of SP because you need to make the check. On the other, your Knowledge (Planes) will likely be so high that you'll always make the check anyway, and you can pile it on top of the other SP feats to almost ignore SR. I'd color it green.

Keep Calm, I didn't realize that about the inquisitor! Thanks for pointing it out.

Doug M.

The spheres seem organic, with a fibrous surface that is tough and rubbery. They're stuck to the bones with something that looks like dried mucus.

A few minutes of cautious examination of the spheres and the room don't seem to show anything else of interest here. Cut a sphere open, cut one loose and take it with you, or shrug and move on?

1d6 ⇒ 1

I3igAl wrote:

I disagree on the Diabolist Capstone being situational.

Here is why: By the time that Ability kicks in(LvL 15-18), a well prepared Diabolist will have researched the name of at least one powerful go to go Outsider(also helps with a Will save).
In most cases there should have been one month to have done so. Pick one Cornugon or whatever and make it your go to go creature.

You'll always have this guy for back up.

Okay, I see the force of that. But it's still somewhat situational, and even with the bonus there's always a 5% chance of rolling that nat 1 on your Cha check. So you wouldn't use it casually or regularly.

I don't say it's bad! It's a nice thing to have in your back pocket. The question is, whether grabbing those last two or three levels of Diabolist is worth what you might get from taking levels in something else.

Doug M.

Fomsie wrote:

Would love to read it, but large blocks of text are interposed on top of the main text and making a mess of things, what do you have this formatted for?

Apologies! Going to fix that in the next day or two.


Also, Boon Companion would do nothing for the imp unless you had multiple non Diabolist classes, the feat will bring your companion up to your character level, which the imp already is if you only have one non Diabolist class anyway.

Right you are. My bad.

Doug M.

Well, here's how this question originally came up. I have an imp companion, and I'm using it as a wand platform -- providing it with wands of fireball and grease and such. The imp does not have access to any of those spells, but it has some ranks in UMD. So it needs to make a UMD check (with +2 on the roll for familiarity) every time it wants to fire a wand. Right?

Okay, so -- can it have a mishap if it fails badly enough?

Doug M.

Adahn_Cielo wrote:
I'm posting from phone now, so I can't link it to you, but "The inward facing circle" (the book in the previous posts) is on the Archives of Nethys.

It doesn't seem to be? (Mind, the search function at AoN does not inspire confidence.)

Doug M.

Okay, so Wally the Wizard really wants to become a Diabolist. Wally is LN but he really, really wants access to the forbidden lore of Hell. So much so that he's willing to sell his soul for it.

So, plain vanilla human, 15 point build: Str 8 Con 12 Dex 13 Int 17 Wis 10 Cha 14. Right off the bat he specializes in Conjuration (Infernal Binder), with opposing schools Necromancy and Illusion. The party doesn't have a face, so Wally takes a thrush familiar. After some discussion, the DM agrees to allow Wally to take the Damned story feat at character creation, so his two starter feats are Damned and Noble Scion (Scion of Lore), which gives +1 to all Knowledge skills that have at least one rank. [Let's pause here and note that Wally is supposed to be a good and fun build, not a meticulously optimized one.] He takes the Wicked Leader trait and, I don't know, whatever trait gives a bump to Knowledge (Planes). (Wally is all about the knowledge.) Starter spells are Burning Hands, Mage Armor, Summon Monster I, and Sleep.

Wiz1 Damned, Noble Scion
Wiz3 Spell Focus: Conjuration

At 3rd level Wally takes Web and Glitterdust, two fine conjuration spells.

Wiz 4 +1 Int
Wiz 5 Extend Spell, Spell Penetration

Possibly Wally is getting a little ahead of himself, but he's a bit of an eager beaver. -- So now he's ready to try becoming a Diabolist! At great expense, he purchases a scroll of Planar Binding, and prepares to summon... a lemure! Oooh, he just barely makes his roll (80%). Does the lemure save? 1d20 ⇒ 8 Nope! Wally will surely be able to win the opposed Cha check; he's provided the lemure with the appropriate gifts (don't ask), and he has 9 attempts at +7 on the die. So, ta da, he's a Diabolist!

Wally is now Damned (though he still hasn't fulfilled his story feat). That night, an imp companion flutters in his window. Wally names him Buddy.

Diab 1/Wiz 5 Imp companion, Infernal charisma +2
Diab 2/Wiz 5 Boon Companion, Hellfire admixture

For the next couple of levels, Wally is going to let his imp companion do a lot of the fighting for him. (Probably it's imp companions, because they're going to die a lot. That's too bad, but they don't cost anything to replace, so Buddy is rapidly succeeded by Buddies II, III, and IV.) Beast shaped into a deinonychus with pounce, the imp companion can actually do a very respectable amount of damage.

One of Wally's 4th level spells will be Cone of Cold, because he can swap in Hellfire for a fast admixture, especially against good-aligned opponents. Around this time he's going to start seriously investing in magic items, picking up stat-boosting items and eyeing an Orb of Foul Abaddon.

Diab 3/Wiz 5 +1 Int, Augment Summoning, Heresy +2.

Wally is going to spend a month researching the names of devils. His Knowledge (Planes) is now +8 ranks +5 Int +3 class +3 Infernal Binder +1 scion +2 Heresy for +22; he needs a 25 to discover the name of a lesser devil. Does he? 1d20 ⇒ 4 Yesssss. The DM decides that Wally has obtained the name of a barbazu devil.

Meanwhile, he's acquiring a mix of blasts, mass buffs, and utility spells. Augment Summoning means that he's throwing a lot of summon monsters to charge into battle alongside Buddy V.

Diab 4/Wiz 5 Infernal Charisma +2, Craft wand

Buddy VI is going to retire from combat soon, so Wally is going to prepare a backup role for it as a wand platform.

And now, FINALLY Wally is ready to begin his career as a real, no-kidding devil conjurer! He takes Lesser Planar Binding as a 5th level spell (he's long since acquired Magic Circle) and casts. Because Wally knows its name, the Barbazu is at -5 on its Will save to resist the spell, and -5 on the opposed Cha check, so it really has no chance: in a trice it's summoned and bound, and Wally has his first devilish servant. Bob the Barbazu will be Wally's bodyguard and muscle going forward; when his time runs out, Wally has his name, so he just calls him and binds him again. If Bob has an opinion about this, Wally doesn't want to hear it.

Diab 5/Wiz 5 Hellish Soul

Wally no longer need fear death -- for now. He now spends another month in the library. But this time he's researching the name of a *specific* devil. The DC for that is 20 + the devil's HD, so 30. Wally now has +10 ranks +6 Int +3 class +3 Infernal Binder +1 scion +2 Heresy for +25. He succeeds!

Meanwhile, Wally is cranking up the conjuring circle. (His Knowledge [Planes] is now high enough that he no longer needs to take 20.) He now has a brute squadron of half a dozen bearded devils at all times, and usually a nasty little accuser devil hanging around invisibly and going scouting. Research costs money, so in addition to the usual adventurer stuff he picks up some extra cash by (for instance) conjuring a fire elemental to burn down an inconvenient block of slum housing. Wally's alignment is beginning to slip south, but as far as he's concerned he's an advanced researcher who's on his way to tenure. The local good temples and paladins are starting to be vaguely aware that something is going on.

Diab 6/Wiz 5 Infernal Transport, Leadership

Wally takes an apprentice... a lower level wizard who can cast utility spells for him. And then he summons the osyluth whose name he has obtained. Not to serve him! Not this time, anyway. No, he offers to swear a binding contract to never use the name again, if the osyluth will just return with a phistophilus (contract) devil.

And so, at last, Wally has his pact with Hell. Presumably it involves access to forbidden secrets; maybe he gets to plane shift to the libraries of hell. In any event, his Damned feat is fulfilled and he gets all the benefits thereof.

Wally cracks his knuckles. Between the feat, the trait, and buffs and whatnot, he has little trouble pumping his Cha up to +10 for nondevils and +14 for devils. With assistance from his apprentice and Buddy VII, he can get +28 or +30 on checks to research true names. And he now has access to creatures of up to 12 HD: a whole multiverse of outsiders, almost none of whom will be able to resist him. Everything up until now has been finger exercises.

Watch out, world.

-- Thoughts?

Doug M.

But what if you know it's a wand, know what kind of wand it is -- but you don't cast that spell, and you have just a few ranks in UMD? Like, the wizard is knocked down, and the rogue picks up his fireball wand and tries to use it? Is a mishap possible then?

Doug M.

Jadeite and Williamoak, those are fine traits. I wasn't going to include traits (because there are *so* damn many of them now), but I will add these to the guide. Thanks! If you know of any more, send them along.

Doug M.

Darkness Rising wrote:

Two rules points: looks like planar ally spells are evil if you summon an evil outsider - makes the Maleficium damnation feat look even more attractive!

Ha, I missed that. Good catch. It also means the Orb of Abaddon gives you an extra day of service.

-- Are there any items, feats, or traits that give you +1 DC or ECL on lawful, chaotic, or good-aligned spells? Asking for the non-Diabolist planar binders out there.


Despite liking porn (great spot, BTW! Made me chuckle), lemures have no listed Int (you don't have to be sentient to enjoy some things) - can you therefore bargain with them?

It says "coax into service". My dishwasher doesn't have an Int score, but damn if it doesn't need coaxing sometimes.

(The lemure has no Int score, but likes porn; the lemure is waiting for Hell to get internet.)

Doug M.

Jadeite wrote:

So, for 2,255 gp, you get
  • +2 circumstance bonus on Knowledge (planes] checks concerning devils
  • a focus to use plane shift to travel to a specific layer of hell
  • a spell book containing greater planar binding, planar binding, lesser planar binding, agonize, dimensional anchor, sacrifice, magic circle against evil, communal protection from evil
  • the option to create a permanent circle that isn't broken by footsteps or a gust of wind
  • a +5 bonus on charisma checks against called devils

It also contains the true name of some devils, but all of those are currently bound to House Thrune.

This sounds very solid for a Diabolist (or indeed for any character that wants to use Planar Binding regularly). It's not in the PFSRD yet, though. Do you know of a link to it anywhere?

Doug M.

Huh -- looks like Zimu was the only one who put ranks in it.

Okay, ignore this side room and continue onwards?

The Guide to the Diabolist is up. In a little while I'll post a revised version, incorporating comments and fixing the little issue with the block text. The comments thread can be found here.

The Guide to Planar Binding should be up next week -- it's quite large, as it includes about 20 pages of things you can call up and bind.

Many thanks to Broken Zenith for posting and linking!

Doug M.

CWheezy wrote:
Here is a question: What about boon companion for your imp? It counts as an animal companion, and if you have a free feat slot it seems like a good choice for a more powerful imp

Good catch. The RAW is "similar to a druid's bond with her animal companion", and I think that's close enough.

This actually makes the imp a *lot* more powerful -- a Wiz 5 / Diabolist 1, for instance, would have an imp companion with 9d10 hit dice, BAB +6, and AC around 22. This guy could stay a player in combat through at least 10th level. Eventually the imp will fall behind, and of course it's competing with your conjured creatures. But yeah, this is a viable strategy. I'll add it to the feat list, colored green.

Doug M.

Darkness Rising wrote:
If you're a wizard, you're losing/delaying the bonus feats you get at levels 10, 15 and 20. Bigger deal than the cleric, but acceptable, although the PrC is pretty feat-starved. You're also losing out on the free spells you get at each new wizard level; how big a deal this is depends on how readily available research time (and/or other peoples' spell books) are in your campaign.

Agreed and agreed. Note that the pleasantly thematic Blood Transcription spell allows you to learn spells cheaply by drinking the blood of dead spellcasters.

You're also losing some effectiveness on your school powers - most of these aren't earth-shattering, though. Maybe grab the level 4 diabolist's charisma bonus and stop there? You can cast dimension door already, and the ray powers are nice but nothing you can't do without. Just don't die. If you're afraid to give up the comfort of getting to level 5 diabolist, maybe you're not cut out to meddle with the powers of hell?

IMO Hellish Soul, Infernal Transport, and (especially) that last hit of Infernal Charisma are all worth having. The 8th level ray power is meh unless you started early and/or are optimized for blasting.

Sorcerers probably have the most to gain - OK, your bloodline powers increase with sorcerer level, as do bloodline spells, but are they really that good? Given that Cha is your major stat (protip: if it isn't, you're probably doing it wrong), the level 4 and 7 diabolist bonuses might not be much - but the hellfire at level 2 is a bit of free (instantaneous!) metamagic and the infernal transport and hellfire ray are effectively free spells! Make your infernal bargain and take your chances. Any reason not to go diabolist all the way?

As noted, I think the capstone ability is cool but super situational. But going diabolist to 10th isn't a *bad* choice. As to the Cha bonuses, I think it makes sense to pile bonus upon bonus as much as possible -- you want to *win* those opposed Cha checks.

Thoughts on abjurant salt: In addition to teleportation, it's not clear whether a summoned creature could either brush it aside (probably not), or throw rocks at it (probably yes). Or blast it with fireballs. Or just pick up a bucket of water and use that - hey, not directly touching the salt!

Heh. I think indirect attacks on the salt would be totally okay. But it's cheap, and a creature inside a circle doesn't have access to buckets of water. It won't be more than a speed bump for the more powerful creatures, but if it has to spend a standard using a spell to blast the salt away, that's a standard you can be using to counterattack or teleport away.

the fact that planar ally is less coercive should be a big deal. Perhaps this is less in the mechanics and more in the gameplay.

I agree. But at middle levels, the cost of planar ally is still prohibitively high. At high levels, it does get a lot better, yes.

Doug M.

Darkness Rising wrote:
Levelling: Have to say though, that - for me - there's a certain 'meh' associated with achieving a prestige class via summoning a ... Lemure. Pretty sure that the other diabolists will be snickering up their sleeves at you, but that isn't an issue of mechanics.

It's actually hard-ish to summon a lemure at 5th level! You have a 20% chance of failing to cast the spell off the scroll. Then the wretched lemure will autowin its Will save on a 20. Then you have to win an opposed Cha check -- and if you're a wizard with mediocre Cha (14, let's say), this is by no means a slam dunk; the lemure's likely to win that about 30% of the time. You can retry the Cha check every day, but if you roll a nat 1... Giving the lemure some porn helps, but even so you're looking at a nontrivial chance of the spell failing. (No, seriously: it's RAW that lemures like "alcohol, warm food, or pornographic illustrations", and offering them some gets you +2 on the Cha check.) Given that scrolls of 9th level spells are a major investment for a 5th level character, you're better off swallowing your pride and calling the lemure.

I'm not so sure that the level 2 & 3 bonuses are that good: if you're into summoning, are you not likely to have taken Augment Summons fairly early into your feat tree?

Presumably you could retrain. And honestly, the plain vanilla Summon Monster spells are decent utility spells even without throwing feats into the mix.

as you point out, if you're not casting Planar Ally then the level 2 bonus is less useful. The Cha bonuses are nice to have, but the next one isn't till level 4, and then level 7!

The Cha bonuses are actually a pretty big deal. Suppose you're calling an outsider that has the same Cha as you. He'll win the opposed check 55% of the time (you have to beat him, so he wins ties). That's not very good. But if you have +2 on the roll that drops to 43%, and if you have +4 it drops to 34%.

Basically the Cha bonuses let you keep up with ever more alarming outsiders as your power level rises. If you're a wizard starting with a 12 Cha, by the time you're 11th level you probably have a +4 booster item and another +4 from Eagle's Splendor for a total of 20. But without Infernal Charisma you'd still have a hard time binding the Cha 21 Erinyes; she could be sitting there blocking your circle for days. With IC, you've got a good shot.

the blast and teleport powers you get as a high-level diabolist start to look pretty good by comparison with what you could "achieve" using clerical spells (protip: if you took cleric to go pure blaster and utility teleport, you're probably doing it wrong). Any reason not to go diabolist all the way?

If you're a cleric? Diabolist up to 7th level looks pretty reasonable IMO. Enter at 6th or 7th level, be done with it at 12th or 13th. Your channel and domain stuff will always be inferior, but you have an advanced imp companion and a bunch of neat powers to console you, and once you get Greater Planar Ally at 15th level the cost-benefit equation starts to swing strongly in your direction.

Doug M.

Jadeite wrote:

Occult Mysteries has a book that grants a +5 circumstance bonus on opposed charisma checks against devils after casting planar binding as well as instructions on creating more durable magic circles against evil.
For 2255gp that's a steal. The name is 'The inward-facing circle'.

Googling on that title, all I find is "(When making Knowledge: [the planes] checks, this treatise grants a +2 circumstance bonus on checks concerning devils. Using the treatise in this way takes 1 minute.)" -- Which would be worth having by itself, to be sure.

Doug M.

Pro: the UMD rules say that if you fail a check by 10 or more, you get a mishap. That seems to apply to anything -- scrolls, wondrous items, staffs whatever -- that might possibly be activated by UMD. There's a specific DC (20) for activating a wand, after all. So since you can use UMD to activate a wand, you should be able to fail the check badly enough to cause a mishap.

Con: a bit further down, the skill says that "Failing the roll does not expend a charge." Okay, so... how can you have a mishap if no charge is expended?


Doug M.

Knowledge (Dungeoneering) DC 22:

These odd spheres are the eggs of some sort of underground aberration. No way to tell how close they are to hatching.

Knowledge (Dungeoneering) DC 27:

They're roper eggs. When they hatch they'll turn into non-sapient larvae -- omnivorous sluglike creatures that will climb up the nearest wall. They'll attach themselves to the ceiling and grow a shell that looks like a downward-pointing stalactite. At this "piercer" stage, they can be a hazard to dungeon-dwellers. When they get big enough, they'll grow a brain and start looking for a roper Nest-Mother.

The larvae shouldn't be a serious threat, but a bunch of them hatching hungry at once could be troublesome.

Honor system.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

The passage begins to curve around to the southeast. Around the 7:30 mark, there's another side chamber.

This one looks very similar to the last -- lots and lots of bones, arranged by bone. One difference: here and there you can glimpse fist-sized spheres stuck to some of the bones. The spheres look vaguely organic, but it's impossible to say more without a closer look.

This is as far as Ulp got last time before the fight. Do you want to investigate this side chamber, or continue along the main passage?

Jax Naismith wrote:
Awesome! If Jax bites it, I may end up making a blaster using Maleficium + Diabolist, had never seen those feats until you pointed them out. Cornugon smash + soulless gaze + any other damned feat makes for some fun full attacks on a full BAB character. Essentially panick them if you have at least 3 attacks.

Yeah, I think Soulless Gaze is crazy overpowered, myself. Inflict panic on enemies almost at will, bypassing SR and Will saves? Not sure how they slipped past Paizo editorial. (Perhaps they were busy playtesting the nerf on Crane Style, he said snidely.)

Jadeite wrote:
No mention of the UC story feat Damned? Since taking the class completes the feat, you end up with a bonus on charisma checks against evil outsiders and a +2 enhancement bonus to an ability of your choice (like intelligence for sorcerors).

[groan] I completely missed the Damned story feat! And, oh look, it's yet a third set of rules for handling damnation.

But, wow, you're right -- if you can agree on the rules, this feat is a no-brainer for would-be diabolists. It would be worth it for the Cha and DC bonuses alone, never mind the +2 enhancement at the end.


Also, the layout appears to be broken for me, with the text being behind the text blocks.

Bother. Sorry, that seems to be an artifact of the shift to google docs. Will try to fix upon revision.

Doug M.

Renegadeshepherd wrote:

I think the value of augment summoning for free and without the prereqs is arguably the biggest appeal of going diabolist, at least for those who seek to be great summoners. For a normal caster to gain one of sacred summons or superior summons they need spell focus and augment summoning. A diabolist can simply take one of sacred summons or superior summons feats straight up rather than investing three feats because they meet the prereqs.

That's a fair point. Now, for sacred summons you have to have the aura class feature, which usually means you're a cleric, and I don't think this class is an optimal choice for clerics. But it's not a *bad* choice either, and being able to summon augmented devils as a standard is pretty sweet.

Furthermore, there is nothing that I know of that says that you cant summon while your conjured folk assist you.

True -- but it could get logistically challenging! Make sure you're fast and comfortable handling large numbers of monsters before you try this.

Doug M.

1d6 ⇒ 4

Okay. Back the way you were going?

They don't leave through the front door. Instead, they go (slowly) to the left-hand passage, SE instead of SW from the opening at the north of the cairn.


Southeast opens up into a large irregular chamber, maybe 70' x 50'. It is choked with boulders and stones and other fallen debris; if you weren't flying, it would be quite difficult to clamber over. It looks like this chamber has partially collapsed more than once.

At a casual glance there doesn't seem to be anything in here, and you don't see any other obvious exit. The place is such a mess, though, that there could be a ten foot wide passage right behind that big boulder over there... you'd have to poke around a bit.

As it turns out, there IS a ten foot wide passage behind that big boulder. It leads downward at an angle and goes on without branching for at least several hundred feet.

One of the creatures turns to you. To return now, to the Dark Below welcoming. Truly is it said the Over Bright a fell cruel realm of monsters and death full in fear and horror is.

To Nest-Mother, one should have listened, agrees another.

They slowly slime their way down the long passage, disappearing into the darkness.

I'm not sure I agree, but let's put that aside for another thread. (Really: I saw the thread on Brewster's excellent Guide to the Blockbuster Wizard get threadjacked by 100+ posts on a minor side rules question. Brewster was telling people how to blast their enemies into finely dispersed ash and have tremendous fun doing it, and it almost got lost thanks to three guys arguing over whether simulacra could craft items.)

If I'm wrong about this, I'll certainly fix it in future versions. Did anything else strike you as noteworthy?

Doug M.

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