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Yes, it would apply. That's a good one!
I suspect that the list of things that indirectly help you penetrate SR by increasing your ECL is going to be a lot longer than the list of things that directly help you penetrate SR.
What's the complete list of things that can help you overcome SR?
Feat: Spell Penetration +2
Furthermore, anything that increases your effective caster level works against SR. This can be an item (the orange prism ioun stone gives +1 ECL to everything, the Orb of Foul Abaddon gives it to spells with the evil descriptor), a trait (Dark Magic Affinity for tieflings), a feat (the Maleficium feats give +2 ECL on spells with the evil descriptor), or what have you.
AFAICT all these bonuses stack.
What else is out there?
"Wronged us? Wronged us? We are beyond such... such..."
"Who could possibly wrong us? Who?"
"We do as we please! We do! We shall! You can't stop us!"
The three ladies seem to be getting increasingly agitated.
Those are two pretty strong contenders, yup. There is an alignment issue -- if you're not LG or close to it, I'd think twice about trying to control a planetar. As for the efreet, IMO that's just asking your DM to get creative, and not in a good way.
If you're LE or close to it, the Belier and Apostate Devils are both powerful and strange. The Belier is a face monster with crazy high Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motives; it possesses people with its magic jar SLA and wreaks havoc. The Apostate is one of the very few creatures with the innate power to change someone's alignment (towards LE, of course).
If you're NE or close to it, consider the Astradaemon. It's every bit as good in melee as the Planetar, if less charismatic. Note that its Soul Siphon ability stacks with itself, meaning that if enough creatures die within 10' of it there's almost no limit to how much its Str can increase. Seriously, that's RAW. If it plunges into battle and kills six low-level warriors? It immediately gains 6d8 hp and +12 Str for the next 10 minutes. And it can keep doing that. And if you feed it a 5 HD creature it gets +1 on all attacks, saves and checks for the next 24 hours on top of that.
If you're CE or close to it, consider the marilith.
If you're N or close to it, consider the bythos aeon. It has some pretty respectable SLAs and is quite hard to kill.
If you're CG or close to it, consider the brigidine. Earthquake 3x/day and a bunch of handy SLAs, but also a respectable combat brute.
But let's bring it back to the OP: Chaotic Evil without the cray-cray. Can you? I think so. I think so.
Iago -- Seemingly mostly normal, but you just randomly hate certain groups or individual people sometimes. Some folks just get on your nerves, okay? And then you need to kill them. But the rest of the time, you're fine. You're definitely not crazy. You just have firm, clear opinions.
Tyler Durden -- Okay, kind of crazy. But in an interesting, "up for anything" sort of way. IMO Tyler Durden straddles the border between CN and CE, but let that bide -- the cocky character who's always going to drink the unknown potion, start the fight, or pull the lever is an RPG staple. Don't build him expecting a long life, mind.
Chucky -- Chucky's not crazy. He just likes seeing what people are like on the inside. Heh heh heh. -- In roleplaying terms, this is the character who sees violence as the first and preferred solution. Obnoxious and annoying quite possibly. Dangerous, certainly. But not (necessarily) crazy. (Yes, this is basically Belkar Bitterleaf. But Belkar isn't crazy. Just violent and dangerous.)
Alex from "A Clockwork Orange" -- A variant of the above that adds intense aesthetic enjoyment of some sort: I want to kick someone's head in, and then go and listen to Beethoven.
Sideshow Bob -- I'm clearly better, smarter and more talented than everyone around me. I deserve their love and their applause, and possibly their money and their stuff too. Why are you in my way? Don't get in my way. I can be gracious to inferiors, but don't get in my way. If you truly believe you deserve the best, then you're Sideshow Bob. (If OTOH you deep down have a gnawing fear that you're not good enough, then you're Princess Azula.)
The Talented Mr. Ripley -- People like it when you seem nice, so seem nice. It's a sham, of course -- when nobody is looking, do as you please. Everyone else does. But *seem* nice.
1d20 ⇒ 12
Blue Dress: "That is none of your concern, boy. We are here for... our art."
White Dress #1: "The music!"
White Dress #2: "Our noble calling!"
Blue Dress: "We are here for... sentimental reasons. That have nothing to do with..."
There is a pause.
White Dress #1: "Anything?"
White Dress #2: "Anything?"
Blue Dress: "Nothing to do with anything, yes." Blue Dress looks at you with annoyance. "You verge on insolence, boy! No more impertinent questions! Listen quietly or be on your way!"
Question, do you think taking the Human FCB from levels 1-5 for Clerics (Add +1 on caster level checks made to overcome the spell resistance of outsiders) would essentially allow you to skip Spell Pen. & the Greater version? I'm not sure if it's a big enough deal to still need them as well, if not it frees up two feats which is a pretty nice bonus for such a feat starved build I feel and adds at least something to a Divine Diabolist.
It is totally worth it. As you say, it's like getting two feats and a bit. If you take the FCB *and* Spell Penetration, you're getting at least +7. SR is usually around CR +10-12. So for a level-appropriate encounter you'll typically succeed on a 4 or higher, and you'll have a better than even chance of getting through the SR even of EPL+4 boss encounters.
You can't have too much spell penetration. You deal with evil outsiders constantly, and there's an excellent chance you'll be dealing with good ones too. Being able to just zap these guys directly is a big, big deal.
Sure. I think Darkfire Adept is about the only PrC that might synergize with Diabolist. You do lose a level of casting, which hurts.
Blue Dress: "So, a commoner. And a servant of the Prince of Laws. Pah."
White Dress #1: "Uncouth."
White Dress #2: "Tedious."
Blue Dress: "Well, if you're going to listen, sit down quietly and respectfully and we will begin again from where you so rudely interrupted us."
White Dress #1: "The inconvenience."
White Dress #2: "No manners."
Blue Dress: "But if, as you say, you have an appointment with the dragon, then run along. Nothing that inane reptile does is of interest to any civilized person."
White Dress #1: "So disgusting."
White Dress #2: "The mess. The smell."
Blue Dress: "Go on, then."
Okay, a cleric is the best choice for this PrC. Pazuzu's domains are kinda meh IMO, but he does have longsword as a weapon which means that you can be okay in melee.
Alternately, you can play a blaster, in which case I'd say consider a demodand or demonspawn tiefling for the Dark Magic Affinity trait; go with the Theologian archetype; take two of the Maleficium Damned feats; and invest in the Orb of Foul Abaddon. Together these will let you use your demon mark once/day to throw a Bouncing Boneshatter at +1 DC for 14d6 of damage at 10th level... and when you've done that, you'll still have a plain vanilla Bouncing Boneshatter left to throw for 10d6 on the next round.
Oh, and if you're going to be playing around outsiders a lot, invest in the tiefling cleric favored class. +1 per level to overcome spell resistance is one of the best favored class options out there -- if you take it at every level, it means you can pretty much laugh at SR. It does mean that you'll probably be starved for skills a bit, but such is the life of a cleric.
Can you think of an example CE pirate from history? My pirate lore is sorely lacking.
Neutral Evil -- The default pirate morality, sure enough. But there were some exceptions.
Chaotic Evil -- Edward Teach / Blackbeard. He ruled by terror and committed atrocities and acts of destruction just because he felt like it. Once shot his first mate and good friend in the leg just because. Also, he kept lit gunpowder fuses burning in his immense black beard. Tell me that's not chaotic. (Also: along with Rasputin, living proof that humans can have a 20 Con. When they finally killed him, his body had 20 sword slashes and five pistol balls in it.)
Really Chaotic Evil -- Francis L'Ollonais. Blackbeard was a sensitive New Age Man compared to L'Ollonais. This is a guy who once cut the heart out of a living captive's chest and ate it in front of the other captives, just because. He liked torturing people.
Wow, so Chaotic Evil -- Edward Low. Go look him up.
Chaotic Neutral -- Benjamin Hornigold. (Yes, he was a real guy and that was his real name.) Blackbeard's mentor, he's been described as "the Emperor Palpatine to Blackbeard's Darth Vader". But that's not quite right, because where Blackbeard was a ravening engine of destruction, Hornigold was whimsical and sometimes even fun. Like, he once stopped a merchant ship, and -- to the confusion of both its crew and his own -- demanded every hat on the ship, got them, and then sailed away without any other loot. When he got tired of being a pirate, he switched sides and became a pirate hunter; would likely have switched back again if he hadn't died in a storm first.
Lawful Evil -- Bartholomew Roberts, aka Black Bart. The most organized of the great pirates, famous for being merciless but utterly fair and just. Ran a pirate fleet as if it was a professional navy.
Neutral -- Jean Lafitte. Switched sides repeatedly, wasn't pointlessly cruel, kept to the code of a gentleman.
Blue Dress floats down towards the Judge. 1d20 ⇒ 9 She sneers down at you.
"Returned? They should have been destroyed, burned with fire, and the hole they crawled up plugged permanently."
"It's impossible to get good help these days," says White Dress One.
"Standards have fallen everywhere, and slovenliness is now the norm," White Dress Two adds helpfully.
"Hush, sisters." Blue Dress turns and extends one translucent hand to you. It is withered and clawlike, with bone showing through in places where the leathery skin has decayed. "Well, then, creature. Did your betters never teach you how to introduce yourself to a noble lady? Once you have apologized for your unseemly appearance, and then give your name, title, and ancestry, you may kiss my hand."
And, oh yeah, check out the Damned feats from Champions of Corruption. If memory serves, Maleficium ones can give you +1 DC and (yet another) +2 ECL to every spell with the evil descriptor that you cast. The drawback is that you become even harder to bring back from the dead, so if you're planning to play this character through a long campaign, think carefully.
What class are you playing? Is this for PFS play?
If you're a Cha-based caster, definitely throw a feat at Divine Protection: it lets you add your Cha bonus to all your saves, like a paladin. I think this is sick overpowered, myself, but it's RAW. You do need to be able to cast 2nd level divine spells. If you have just a 14 Cha it's like three feats for the price of one, and if you're an oracle or something it's just ridiculous. And of course it helps with your Energumen saves.
Improved Iron Will is worth considering if you have an open feat slot and you don't have someone to cast Protection from Whatever on you.
If you're a tiefling, the Dark Magic Affinity racial trait gives you +1 ECL to spells with the evil descriptor, same as the Orb of Foul Abaddon above. (That should stack, so if you have both the trait and the item, that's +2 ECL.)
Do you play asynchronously, like in PBP, or is it more like a chat session?
Also, note that later in this module the Scooby-Doo approach may get them in serious trouble. The final encounter, in particular, is still pretty deadly (though they toned it way down from the original version).
Oh, and if they spend some time in Magnimar, and you want to do something a little different before the final act, check out The Lyrie Scenario on this forum.
Okay, friends: this has been incredibly helpful, and has greatly improved the Guide. Last call now for comments and suggestions -- I'd like to get the 2.0 improved version up by this weekend.
Any final thoughts? Have I missed anything big?
The Demoniac is a challenging PrC: you can do some interesting things with it, but it's hella situational. It works best with clerics, though other full casters can have fun with it too.
Energumen has a bunch of different uses: boosting your spell DCs most obviously, but also emergency hp, a little AC/Init boost, and so forth. If you're a cleric 7 / demoniac 3 with 24 Wis, a +1 save boosting item and Iron Will, you'll make the save 50% of the time, meaning you usually won't have to endure more than a round or two of confusion. Of course, if you're an arcane caster with a miserable 14 Will, you'll only make the save 1/4 of the time. Well: if you have an ally, cohort or fellow party member who can cast Protection from Evil or Chaos on the round the spell ends, you don't even have to worry about that. If you have a familiar, consider throwing a feat at Improved Familiar, getting a quasit, and giving it a wand to cast on you.
Pick up an Orb of Foul Abaddon; it gives you +1 ECL when you cast spells with the evil descriptor. Why? Because whenever you cast with your demon mark, the spell acquires the evil descriptor. Ta da, one more die of damage on flame strike or whatever your best blast is.
The obedience benefit is "a +4 profane bonus on all saving throws against effects from flying creatures and compulsion effects", and that's actually better than it sounds. That's +4 against (for instance) dragon breath and dragon spells and dragon frightful presence, banshee wails, the energy drain of spectres, wyvern poison, harpy songs, spells from a sphinx, spells and SLAs from all kinds of outsiders from angels to vrocks... the damn bestiary is full of flying things that want to kill you. (A fun side question is whether you'd get this bonus against an enemy wizard who has Fly cast on himself when he throws a spell at you.) Throwing in the bonus against compulsion is pure gravy. It's really one of the better obediences, so make sure you fill the bird feeder with fresh intestines every day.
One more level and you'll get the free demons. Sadly, they don't stick around very long... but pay attention to their SLAs and special abilities; a succubus isn't just a pretty face, she's a mind-reader with great face skills and a bunch of free Suggestions and Dominates, while the babau are fine scouts and flankers.
I don't think it's one of the stronger PrCs, but you can have fun with it. I'd role-play hell out of it, myself -- you've come to town to spread pure chaos, baby, and then feast vulture-like on the aftermath.
The Judge just walks into the chamber.
The singing quite abruptly halts. The three floating women turn in obvious surprise. Now that you're closer, you can see that they're slightly transparent, and also that they show obvious signs of their undead nature: their faces are haggard and rotting, their fine dresses torn and stained with decay.
Two of them wear white dresses and one wears blue. Blue Dress points a clawed finger at you. Her voice echoes spectrally in your mind.
(Who speaks Elvish? If more than two of you, I won't bother with spoilers.)
"Who disturbs our singing? What gauche dullard interrupts the Ballad?"
"It lives! Kill it!" shrieks one of the ones in white.
"It... does not live. It is crude and ugly, but it does not live, sister." Blue Dress turns back to the judge, her aristocratic face set in a fine haughty sneer. "Well, what then, boy? Are you a messenger of that ridiculous dragon? Or have you come to offer us tribute or service? If the former, you should know that we care nothing for gold or silver!"
"Fear," murmurs White Dress One.
"Beauty," White Dress Two hisses.
"If service," she waves a hand haughtily, "go and kill those absurd molluscs down the hall. They have interrupted our music, and they are ugly. Once you have done that, if you are clean and well behaved you may come back and listen quietly."
Yeah, in the adventure as written she's little more than a speed bump. I'm not even sure why she's there. She doesn't seem to do anything outside of the room she's in. She's one of the few head-scratchers in what's otherwise a very well put together adventure. All I can think is that BO was written as an introductory module back when, so they thought "let's make sure to throw in at least one evil arcane spellcaster, so the PCs can fight that".
Here's a concept that was just a bit too insane to make it into the Guide: The Two-Imp Debuff. "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."
Don't forget that the bad guys have bards and buff spells also. If you don't go the antimagic route, swarms of bad guys piling buff upon buff is an option too.
Flip economy of action so that it works for you: lots and lots of your guys all doing different stuff. Distract the PCs and get them dispersing their attacks and wasting actions. Have multiple attractive-looking targets: the enemy bard, the enemy wizard, the guy who loudly challenges the PC fighter, the half dozen raging troll barbarians (who have that freaky group barbarian teamwork feat that gives them double rage bonuses), the fiendish tyrannosaur. Here's a trick: as you're describing one particular opponent, make and hold eye contact with one player. You'd be surprised at how often that works.
Other people have mentioned this, but it bears repeating: Karzoug has been watching, and knows how the PCs roll. Come the final combat, he/you should have a response up the sleeve for every single trick the PCs have ever tried before.
Get the PCs character sheets and stare at them for a while. No, seriously, do. I've found that whenever I do that, weaknesses begin to emerge. "Wait, Alice's Reflex save isn't all that. Bob has a really crap CMD... well, he uses hastened Dim Door to escape from grapples. But what if he couldn't? And Carl... huh, without all his buffs on, Carl ain't much. How could they be taken away?" And so forth.
Don't forget about sundering and disarming. Those don't get used a lot because players hate them, but they're fair game in a final boss fight like this one.
Here's a trick I used once: Karzoug takes something dangerous and unpleasant that he already had hanging around, bound to service in a soul gem or an iron flask or some such, and forces it into a more or less human shape. Then he uses magic jar to put some other spirit into its body. Now the creature not only looks harmless, it really is: to all available evidence, it's a midlevel NG adventurer who was defeated and captured by Karzoug.
The PCs can "rescue" this poor soul at some point. Poor bard, her only possession is a +2 ring of protection with a lovely black stone that she managed to conceal from Karzoug's torturers. She's... I don't know, 10th level or something? High enough level to survive hanging around with the PCs, but it should be clear that she's not really in their league. She'll sincerely try to help, but she won't actually be that helpful. You want the PCs thinking "aw, we'll get a little extra xp for rescuing this poor gal". Maybe she directs them towards a place where her colleagues were being kept captive. Whoops, nothing there but some plump Lengers and a few gnawed bones. Karzoug, you bastard!
... except that of course, when Zero Hour arrives, Karzoug has a contingency spell set to go off. That lovely black stone is the magic jar containing the original outsider. POOF: the poor rescued bard disappears forever as her body warps and distorts, sprouting extra limbs, a tail. In her place is a pissed off marilith. It has to discharge one service before it's free: do everything in its power to kill the PCs. Since it's been listening to their annoying do-gooder babble for days at this point, it's perfectly down with that.
(Note that, to play fair, you should give the PCs some chance to notice something off; maybe the ring radiates evil, or something. But the bard says she knows it's evil, but it's never done her any harm, and she thinks it might be some sort of key. There never was a PC who could resist "some sort of key".)
Magda Luckbender wrote:
Wait, why is this a problem? Karzoug has time to prepare, right? Can't he just come up with sixty different deathtraps?
-- Symbols on every available surface (cost is no object, and they're going to roll a nat 1 sometime)
-- Some kind of explosive, gas, whatever, triggered in the surprise round.
-- As soon as the PCs show up, someone casts antimagic shell. Someone else casts Dimensional Lock around the antimagic area. And someone else casts Teleport Trap around that. (Pay close attention to how Teleport Trap works... it makes normal teleportation impossible, full stop. If you fail your save, you go where the caster wants you to go. If you make your save, you /don't/ teleport.)
-- wave after wave of incorporeal enemies coming at them out of the walls.
Honestly, if Karzoug knows they're coming, it seems like he could do plenty to prepare.
Carl is very much a one-trick pony. Give him a break -- he has 3 Int.
If you're foolish enough to get into melee with him, you're in a world of hurt, especially if he can charge-trample-overrun. No, you don't want to get in Carl's way. But if you try bluffing, diplomatizing, fascinating, or using almost any sort of magic on him? Fairly low level characters can deal with Carl pretty easily. As people have already noticed, he has +8 Will and just +1 Sense Motive, and he has no way of getting at flying characters. I considered giving him Hurl, but tactically that just turns him into a funny-looking giant. That's just not how Carl thinks. He took a rage power that improves his overrun attacks, because... well, he's a mastodon. A threat to the herd? Charge and stomp it flat!
I think Carl is actually a reasonable encounter for midlevel (6-8) characters. Yes, he's formally CR 13. But this is basically an "are you dumb enough to trigger combat" test. A midlevel group should have a bunch of better ways to deal with this. Throw Carl at parties who are getting a little too truculent and trigger-happy, and see what happens.
Note that Charm or Diplomacy would make Carl friendly, but wouldn't be enough to take him away from his beloved herd -- you'd need Dominate or something even stronger to pull that off.
What kind of lunatic casts Anthropomorphic Animal on a mastodon? And what kind of utter, raving lunatic makes it permanent? A druid making some sort of point? An alchemist trying to win a bet? Nobody knows except maybe Carl, and he's not talking.
Carl is a mastodon. Or... was. Now he's a gigantic bipedal mastodon with hands, like a very hairy giant with the head of a cranky elephant.
Carl lives in a cold land full of mastodon herds, and he watches over them. Giants and barbarians want to raid the herds for mounts and meat? Not when Carl is around. Predators like smilodons? Yeah, Carl has a kind of bandolier thing made of smilodon fangs. Don't mess with Carl's mastodons.
Carl has picked up a couple of barbarian levels. He acquired an axe a while back from a giant who thought a walking, talking mastodon was funny, and picked up a crude set of hide armor from somewhere or other. In combat he's not subtle at all: he rages immediately and charges for an overrun attack, using his trampling and overrun feats.
The local barbarian tribes are aware of Carl and could tell PCs of his existence. Most of them only ever see him from a distance, an immense figure striding alongside the herds. They think he's some kind of mighty mastodon spirit, or possibly a demigod.
In roleplaying terms, Carl isn't very bright, so he'd be fairly easy for a thoughtful group of PCs to fool. He hates giants, smilodons and anything that threatens his herd. He's primarily interested in protecting his mastodons, but he's also rather lonely; there's nothing like Carl but Carl, after all. He'd be fascinated and delighted by simple children's songs and games.
* * * * *
Carl the Barbarian
AC 25, touch 8, flat-footed 25 (+15 natural, +2 hide armor, –2 size)
Speed 50 ft.
Carl is not subtle. If he or his herd are threatened, he will immediately rage and charge. If he can, he'll charge over one opponent (doing trample damage and getting a free AoO from Improved Overrun, with +14 damage from his Overbearing Advance rage power) on the way to a second. He doesn't really understand spellcasters, so will preferentially attack enemies with missile weapons first, followed by barbarians and fighters.
Str 35 (39), Dex 10, Con 25 (29), Int 3, Wis 13, Cha 6
Carl has no magic or treasure.
Well, yes and no.
The two events affect everyone who has minions, cohorts, conjured monsters, or what have you. And, after all, one of the underlying themes of that AP is that minions are meant to be sacrificed. Makes sense, right?
In the case of Book Two, I don't think the necromancer has that much to complain about. Any of his creatures within commanding range have a reasonable chance to escape alongside the party. If he has skeletons or whatever spread out all over the Horn, then okay, they're likely to be lost. But honestly, if the DM has been running that module properly, they will have been lost already in one of the waves of assaults on the Horn. Not a lot of skeletons or zombies are going to be left standing after the mud elemental, the silver dragon, the frogman revolt, and all the other craziness that goes down in the last pages. The module pretty explicitly says "everything but the kitchen sink", so at the end of the day the PCs should be pretty pleased if /they/ survive, never mind their cohorts, minions, animal companions, or undead cannon fodder.
Also, at those levels (6-10) undead legions really aren't that big a deal yet. A 9th level necromancer won't have that many creatures, won't have spent that much money on them, and they're not all that powerful. Losing them is a PITA but not a serious setback. And it's not as if you're going to have any trouble finding fresh dead bodies. This is an AP where you create a lot of those.
In the case of Book Three, everyone who can't teleport or get on a flying mount is going to die, fair enough. So you have a lifeboat situation. That's actually awesome. It means your evil characters get to bicker and squabble over who gets taken along -- Alice's cohort, Bob's fiendish companion, Carol's undead minion? And then at the end you get to fly off leaving everyone else to their doom. Come on! That's totally worth losing a zombie or two.
BTW, if you are playing past Book One, ask your DM to blow $10 and pick up the bonus book that includes MinionQuest. No - GIVE your DM $10 to pick up MinionQuest. Because, trust me, you really want to play MinionQuest.
@Rynjin, the events that you mention affect everyone, not just necromancers. (And the AP specifically acknowledges this.)
Zen archers: I personally find them simultaneously overpowered and overspecialized, but I know lots of people love them. If you like playing them anyway, a ZA will find plenty to do in this AP.
Evil bard, like evil ranger, is another character concept that doesn't get explored very often. A sociopathic manipulator who is always the center of attention and who makes everyone love him? Gotta think that could be fun to play.
Okay, you've convinced me. I'm adding it to the Guide, with the following note: "Add your Cha bonus to all your saves, like a paladin. Yes, really. Blue if you’re a Cha-based caster, orange otherwise. (But note that even wizards should have a respectable Cha if playing a Diabolist.)"
What do you think of a Cleric using either the Law or Evil Domain to snag the Subdomain Devil. That would get you Planar Binding as a 6th level spell the same as Wizards, thus bypassing one of the significant issues of a Divine caster even though it limits you to only Devils (and of note that would also open up the Fiendish Vessel archetype which gets you rather nice thematic abilities if you're a Tiefling).
I'm neutral about Fiendish Vessel -- it's thematically quite nice, but you already get an imp from being a Diabolist, and the ability to evilbomb good foes is very situational. (You can use the imp familiar to do it, but unlike your imp companion, those things cost money to replace.) Also, you have to be a tiefling, and while there are a couple of tiefling subraces that are good for a diabolist (grimspawn and beastbrood), they're IMO not quite as good a human, elf, gnome (for a sorceror) or some of the aasimar subraces. That said, this is a thematic choice that is perfectly playable. If you go this route, consider the Dark Magic Affinity and Family Connections tiefling traits -- both are great for a Diabolist -- and once you have 9,000 gp to spare, invest in a Darksire Amulet.
Taking the devil subdomain is probably the best thing to do for a cleric, yes. Planar Binding is great at 11th and 12th levels, okay at 13th and 14th levels. Then it starts to fade, but at that point you'll have Greater Planar Ally and the cost/benefit equation will be starting to tip in your direction.
I agree -- that's a hugely fun feat. Mechanically it's limited by the fact that your Diabolist levels don't give you channeling dice, but who cares? Being able to healbomb once/day is also pretty nice.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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?
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?
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.
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=http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/outsiders/umbral-shepherd]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?