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Another plot seed: one of the Keepers wants to die for good. The other Keeper is saddened, but willing to accept it... as long as a replacement is found. As it happens, one of the PCs is a druid! Obviously the PC will immediately realize what a huge honor this is, and s/he will jump at the chance...
The Sacred Grove has had two Keepers for centuries. One is always male and one is always female. Their races vary; they may be a human and an elf, or a dwarf and a gnome, or whatever. Even monstrous races like gnolls and orcs have occasionally been represented. The general assumption is that when one Keeper gets old, he or she lies down and merges with the Grove, and a new Keeper appears as a pilgrim, right on time.
The general assumption is wrong. It's been the same two Keepers for all these centuries. They're high enough level to cast Reincarnate, yes? Here's a little-noted thing about Reincarnate: it reboots you in a young adult body, restarting the count towards the next age category. So whenever one of the two starts slowing down a bit, the other takes a sacred sickle, cuts his or her throat, puts most of the body in the compost pile -- waste not, want not -- and then casts Reincarnate on a finger or whatever. A week or two to shake off the negative levels, and voila: a new Keeper has arrived.
The two Keepers have a relationship that has lasted through the centuries, in part because swapping bodies every decade or two helps keep it fresh. Whether this is adorable or pervy is up to you.
-- Plot seed: One of the Keepers has information from centuries ago... the true name of a wizard-king who's now a powerful lich, the location of the magic sword that can save the kingdom, what have you. The PCs must first find the Keepers and then persuade him or her to help. (For best results, the Keepers should be comfortably more powerful than the PCs, and not an exact match in alignment.)
-- Plot seed: One of the PCs serves Pharasma or a similar god of death. And Pharasma has had it with these two -- Raise Deads are one thing, but these guys have been in and out of the Boneyard so many times that some of the junior psychopomps have started a betting pool on when the next pass will be. It's an affront to the dignity of Death, is what it is. It's time for these two to move on...
-- Plot seed: The Keepers' relationship has been growing gradually dysfunctional. Now one of them desperately wants out... s/he has fallen out of love with the other Keeper, is tired of the cycle of rebirth and wants to live a life beyond the Grove, even if it means accepting true death. But of course, the other Keeper doesn't see things that way. What was once a loving symbiosis has now become an increasingly abusive relationship. And just then, the PCs come along...
Meanwhile, some more general thoughts:
-- Blasts are the most obvious application of Focused Spell: hey, three Magic Missiles at first level! Snapdragon Fireworks, you can keep throwing d4 damage + dazzle for five rounds! But at lower levels, there are a lot of rounds per level nonblast spells that Focused Spell really helps with. For instance, level 1 Mage Armor is one miserable hour; you can boost it to five hours. Level 1 Summon Monster is just one round, but you can keep a summoned creature around for five rounds. This is actually a potentially big deal at lower levels. I'm sure there are many other examples of this.
-- Spell Study is a power that rewards careful examination of the spell lists, and I think we might need a separate thread for it. For example, there are a bunch of spells that are Level X for a wizard, but are one level lower for another caster class. Scrying, to name one, is a 4th level wizard spell, is a 3rd level bard spell. Okay, it takes three rounds longer to cast -- no big deal, it's an hour of casting time anyway. And it costs two third level spell slots; again no big deal, you're usually casting it at home on an off day anyway. That's before we get into heals and buffs and talking to animals and whatnot.
-- +4 ECL counts for spell penetration against things with SR. Play an elf (and an elf is a good choice for a Spell Sage) and you can usually count one getting at least one solid shot past an enemy's SR.
-- At the highest levels, +4 ECL when casting Gate is a huge deal; if you have the cash, you'll be able to snag pit fiends and solars without breaking a sweat.
Robb Smith wrote:
I don't think they've expressed a position publicly, but a number of guides do contain discussion of setting-specific material -- i.e., "this works particularly great if you're a mystery cultist of Desna", etc.
I would agree that it's a good idea to highlight 3PP content, because a lot of people are fussy about that -- some because 3PP can't be used in organized play, others because they just want a bright line around what's canon and what isn't.
Okay, some general thoughts on the Spell Sage.
1) Fewer spells/day means this archetype does better in APs and campaigns that have a lot of short encounters with rests between. Kingmaker, for instance -- the Spell Sage would really shine here. Contrariwise, a Spell Sage is more likely to run into problems when there are a lot of long grindy stretches.
2) Boost your Int, boost your Int, boost your Int. True for every wizard but especially for this guy. Int gives you bonus spells, and the Sage needs every spell slot he can get. You don't get school spells, so right there you're down one spell at each level, and then you'll want to burn spell slots sometimes for Spell Study. Int and more Int.
3) Uwotm doesn't recommend Pearls of Power but I have to disagree a bit. From 2nd level onwards, you want to preserve as many spell slots as possible for using Spell Study. At low levels, Pearls are a cheap and easy way to do this. Later on they get a bit expensive, yes, but from 2nd to around 8th level they're really handy.
Okay, some mechanics. Let's say you're building a blaster. Take Spell Specialization (Burning Hands). Boom, 3d4 damage at 1st level, or once/day you can use Focused Spell to surge that to 5d4. That'll wipe out pretty much any nonboss opponent and also sweep the street clean of lower level mooks. Okay, that's good but not amazing. But at 3rd level, take Intensified Spell (allows five more levels of damage on spells, +1 spell slot) as your third level feat. Now your Burning Hands will do 5d4 normally, but you can throw a second level BH that surges to 9d4. Again, that'll kill or severely damage most nonbosses at this level. At 6th level, switch Spell Specialization to Fireball, and boom -- 8d6 fireballs, surging to 10d6. One more level and you can put an Intensified Fireball in a 4th level slot for 13d6 of damage; at 8th level that'll be 14d6, and you'll be able to do it twice per day. None of this is insanely great or game-breaking (it's once/day, there are a lot of things with fire resistance, you can't swap energy types like the evoker blaster) but it's pretty solid. This guy won't be as good a blaster as the classic Evoker with Admixture, but he'll be respectable and will have a lot of flexibility to make up for it.
More in a bit --
Ohh, right you are. -- Well, what the heck was the point of giving the beast Combat Reflexes, then? All I can think is that it can Dim Door into a group of weaker combatants or casters, attack, and then get AoOs on anyone who tries to run. But that's very situational, and not the best way to burn a feat slot. Also, what's with that slime? Woo, it can cough up tanglefoot bags. The range increment is 20', it needs a hit roll and the target gets a save. Not really an impressive ability for a CR 12 creature.
Yeah, okay -- overall the Omox is rather badly designed, and so somewhat underpowered for its CR. Still situationally good, in a flooded or underwater lair, or teamed up with some other monster. But it's not on anyone's short list.
Mith'aj the Tactful wrote:
I would agree that it's a bit of a specialized tool -- good for water encounters, otherwise not so much. Despite its 18 HD, it's much more of a battlefield control creature than a melee brute.
Labyrinth Minotaur [CR 14, Will +17, SR none, Cha 14] -- Higher will save (26 WIS), but no SR/low CHA melee powerhouse. Charge, trample, multiple bull rush for all in reach.
Chaotic evil, but not a demon, so anti-demon stuff does nothing. Okay Will for a creature of its CR, but no SR and crap Cha = one of the easier CR 14 creatures to call and bind. You could totally have a couple of these bad boys stomping around your lair as bodyguards. Of course, they're not much good as anything but melee brutes, and also in Golarion it's canon that they're the special of one particular demon lord who might get cranky if someone else starts playing with his toys. But if you need a big loud monster to smash things, this is a fine choice.
You're very welcome. It's a work in progress -- if you want the latest version, PM me your e-mail addy and I'll send it along. Also, comments are very welcome.
Omox [CR 12, Will +12, SR 23, Cha 18] This creature makes me sad, because it is very close to being good. Well... decent, - for its CR at least. The only thing this creature needs to be worth having on the battlemap is a size-increase(and reach). Alas, it's a medium-sized creature with no exceptional reach, and as such, it falls short. This outsider has two things going for it, and that is its grab ability into smother, and a load of immunities. However, since grab has a size-limitation, and this creature does not come packed with any grapple-feats, the usefulness of the smother ability becomes unreliable. If your lair is flooded, these guys could be decent sentries. Other than that, your efforts are better spent calling something else.
Look closer. The omox has Create Water at will and Control Water 3x/day. That means that given a few rounds advance notice, it can flood any reasonably sized confined space on its own. Once enemies show up, Dim Door as a free action -> grapple with smother. It's not amazing against like-levelled monsters or melee types, but against casters? Grappled + unable to breathe or speak is bad news indeed. As to the size issue, hey, there's no reason you can't just cast Enlarge on it.
Unholy Nimbus is great. I think the nalfeshnee is a very solid all-rounder. Its reflex save is a bit of a glass jaw but SR, flight and immunities make that less of an issue than for other creatures.
We missed the Elysian Titan (21 HD), Thanatotic Titan (23 HD), and Hekatonkheires (24 HD). Beyond that there's the Yamaraj Psychopomp (25 HD)... and that seems to be it; anything with more HD is either a unique creature or 3PP.
Am I missing anything, or is the Yamaraj really the top of the line?
Let's note that at this level, we're overlapping with creatures that can be called with Gate. So that's a thing.
Brijidine Azata [CR 17, Will +21, SR 28, Cha 23] This one is sort of meh at combat. It has an entrap option that's sort of a trap option. It has a useful list of spell-like abilities, at least, but nothing that strikes me as spectacular. You probably shouldn’t take Augment Calling (azata).
I would agree. Also, the Brigidine is a fire-based creature, which is actually not a great thing at this level -- too many spells and items that shut down or target fire.
Purrodaemon [CR 18, Will +14, SR 29, Cha 21] Moderately useful for basic combat, a couple of okay damaging spell-like abilities, but nothing really special.
I would agree. It's a fairly vanilla creature. You might call or gate it if you're a good fit in terms of alignment or are on good terms with the daemon lords, and you want to kill an army, or otherwise want a very straightforward combat brute. Otherwise, if you're going to call a 19 HD evil horror, you're likely better off with the next guy:
Yeah, the thulgant is really solid. True, it's insanely evil and chaotic, and extra-hard to bind. But man, you'll rip through some enemies. The purrodaemon comes out well ahead in terms of raw damage, but the thulgant's bewildering array of abilities and SLAs make it a better all-rounder. And if you're dealing with demons, woo, this guy is going to be so much fun.
Yes, you totally do. And if you're a good match in terms of alignment and goals, hey, he's got Miracle on tap.
Vrolikai Demon [CR 19, Will +17, SR 30, Cha 26] Another spectacular one. These things hand out negative levels like they're promotional pamphlets, and they can even give out the occasional regeneration, symbol of death, or mass hold monster. Their tail causes confusion and Charisma drain on a failed save and staggers on a successful one. And as if all that's not enough, they can also turn anything they come up against into a juju zombie under their control just by looking at it long enough. Have a captured enemy? Hold their eyes open, and soon they will be an undead ally with all their old abilities and then some. And there's no HD limit for how much you can control at any given time.
Yes, the hits start coming fast at this level. It's all good. Mind, the juju zombie serves the vrolikai, not you, so make sure it accompanies the demon back to the Abyss come the day.
Okay -- instead of the scroll, give Bob a Candle of Invocation. Attuned to the appropriate alignment, of course.
Mind, it doesn't have to be a pit fiend. Any sufficiently alarming outsider of around 20 HD will do. Season to taste.
Make it worse: Bob is Chaotic Evil and he's going to summon a qlippoth. (Note that the qlippoth racial resistance to being bound doesn't apply to Gate spells.) Payment will be in human lives, of course. In this version Bob is kind of nuts, and it's not really clear what his endgame is.
Make it worse in a different way: Bob is Chaotic Good, and he lives in Evil Town. Lawful Evil, let's say. If you're in Golarion, perhaps a town or city in Cheliax. And Bob has suffered terribly, seen loved ones enslaved or killed, horrible crimes committed... So Bob is going to summon a 17 HD Brijidine Azata. Bob only has to be ~8th level for this (swap an orange ioun stone for the evil Orb), so he becomes a suitable antagonist for a group of 4th or 5th level PCs. If the PCs are evil, of course they want to stop Bob. If they're good... well, Evil Town is evil, but a combat with the enraged azata is likely to result in significant collateral damage. Also, don't forget the possibility that Bob is being manipulated; maybe some powerful devil wants the azata called for its own nefarious reasons...
Balance always has to be left up the particular DM. We've all seen campaigns where experienced players with a powergame orientation, acting as a well oiled machine, take down APL+5 opponents without breaking a sweat. Yes, giving Bob some meat shields and minions is definitely one way to balance this. Sure, maybe he's 11th level and has a bound outsider or two. Perhaps he's taken a level or two of Diabolist and has a couple of barbed devils on call. And an imp companion who's been encouraging him and giving him hints all along. (The Infernal language has a word for Diabolist. It translates as Useful Fool.)
Also, don't forget that Spell Sage NPCs can be dangerous opponents, especially if they're blasty. With feat selection or some very minor magic items, a 10th level Spell Sage would have no problem throwing a 16d6 blast. Swap in a Diabolist's Hellfire Admixture power and that's enough to one-shot most 7th level good-aligned PCs if they fail their saves.
They all laughed at Bob, back at the Academy. No familiar! No school of magic! Not even a bound object! "Spell Sage", what is that? Well, Bob's going to show them. He's going to show them all.
Bob, a Spell Sage, has somehow acquired three interesting magical items: an Orb of Foul Abaddon, a Prayer Bead of Karma, and a scroll of Gate. Bob realizes that the first two items can be combined with his Focused Spell ability to give him a whopping +9 ECL on using the Gate scroll. This means that at 11th level he can call and control a 20 HD pit fiend! (If you really want to pile on, he can gain another +1 ECL by making a human sacrifice and casting Death Knell.)
Of course, casting Gate requires 10,000 gp. Bob can perhaps just barely afford that... but then the pit fiend will demand another 20,000 gp of payment (1,000 per hit die) once it has completed its duties. Bob doesn't have that kind of money. But that's okay! He's just going to command the fiend to loot the city's treasury and bring him the money. Then he'll have several other extremely clever commands for it, which he has thought out in considerable detail, so that there are of course no possible loopholes. When the dust settles, Bob will be wealthy beyond belief and master of the city, and his enemies will be, at best, very dead. Nothing could possibly go wrong with this well-thought-out plan!
(It does not occur to Bob what a curious coincidence it is that those three particular items should have fallen, one by one, into the hands of a caster just barely powerful enough to use them. Hey, Bob's a busy guy with a lot on his mind.)
The PCs' job: figure out what Bob is up to, and stop him. You can introduce Bob earlier in the campaign, when he's first acquiring these items, one by one. Once he's got the third... well in theory he could cast Gate on the spot. But he may need to scrape together enough cash for the casting cost, and then there may be a Death Knell sacrificial victim to be acquired, and then of course he'll just HAVE to cast the Gate spell in some suitable location, like on top of the city's tallest building. So there are several points where the PCs can rush to cut him off. Of course, it's possible that Someone much more powerful is using Bob as a catspaw, and wants him to succeed...
Bob would be 10th or 11th level, making him a good opponent for a group of 7th-8th level PCs.
Minor tweaking: deathwine only works on necromancy spells, and there are several alchemical reagents that give +1 to particular spell schools.
That said, an impressive list! Some of these are a bit impractical in-game (the supply of Accursed bloodline sorcerors is probably not that great) and a couple might not easily apply to using Gate. But there's enough to work with here that a determined PC should have no trouble getting +6 or more on his ECL.
Okay, you don't need to be a divine caster, but you definitely would need to have UMD. A bit further down: "the beads of karma and summons can be activated by any character capable of casting divine spells." So you'd need a UMD roll to fool them.
Hi! You forgot to mention things that raise your caster level, like a prayer bead. Use that and you can control a solar NP.
There are a lot of things that help with caster level checks -- a magician bard's dweomercraft, the cyphermage's Focused Scroll, the otherworldy kimono, you name it. But the list of things that directly raise your ECL is a lot shorter. Here are the ones I can think of offhand:
ahem. Okay, did I miss any?
I've been thinking about Forbiddance vs Gate and at the moment probably go with the following. The Gate would in fact form (the creation subschool effect) but travel via the Gate would be blocked as long as the Forbiddance remained...
In metagame terms, the whole point of Forbiddance is to have some way to prevent high level PCs from teleporting directly the the McGuffin -- the villain's lair, the lowest level of the dungeon, wherever -- without actually having to slog through any other encounters.
I'm not unsympathetic to that. But I'm also sympathetic to the idea that once PCs hit a certain level, these kinds of road blocks should no longer apply. If you're 18th level, by Crom you should be able to teleport straight to the villain's lair. Grinding through his outer defenses is minions' work.
Also, I'm kind of old school about 9th level spells. These are the biggest, baddest spells of all, the ones that your wizard has spent seventeen long levels climbing laboriously upwards to. "Ooh sorry, some character six levels lower than you cast Forbiddance and now you're euchred" violates the Rule of Cool in a big way IMO.
That said, the RAW is IMO unclear. So if my DM said "sorry, Forbiddance trumps Gate", I might roll my eyes a little but then I'd carry on with the adventure. YMMV.
Hi! You forgot to mention things that raise your caster level, like a prayer bead. Use that and you can control a solar NP.
Ha, good point. Well... it's unclear to me whether those would work with Gate. The spell does say "caster level", so I guess probably yes: anything that boosts your ECL would work.
Whoa, that could make a difference.
...as noted above, it's unclear under RAW whether Gate gives you access to extradimensional spaces, because those aren't "planes" as such.
That said, by the time you can cast Gate you should have access to the Create Demiplane spell. So you can just create a little demiplane that's accessed from your gazebo or something, and go in and out through that.
Gate is a 9th level arcane spell that goes all the way back to First Edition. Oddly, nobody seems to have done a writeup on it for PF yet, so I'm going to give it a shot.
Using Gate as transport. Gate has has two distinct functions. One is to open a gate to another plane. This one is pretty straightforward -- it's a gate that you and your party (and a bunch of other people, if you like) can walk through. It can go to any other plane that you're aware of, including demiplanes; a deity or other planar ruler can choose to block you, but otherwise it's auto-success. You arrive exactly where you like, with none of the annoying imprecision of Plane Shift. No holding hands, either -- you just walk through.
Drawbacks? Well, you can't use it to move between points on the same plane, oddly enough -- it's interplanar only. This is a slightly silly restriction, because if you cast Gate twice, you can step across a continent via the Plane of Air, some convenient demiplane, or wherever. And, as noted, a deity or other planar ruler will instantly be aware of your attempt to open a Gate to their plane, and can choose to block you. So, no, you can't Gate into Asmodeus' treasure chamber. (Or more likely, you can, and there's something unspeakably horrible waiting for you. But you can't unless he lets you.)
While a Gate can put you in a demiplane, it's unclear whether you can Gate into an extradimensional space such as exists inside a Portable Hole, Handy Haversack, or Rope Trick. I'd say no, myself, but it seems a judgment call. It's also unclear whether the 6th level divine spell Forbiddance would stop a Gate. It says it stops "all planar travel", but then it lists the spells that are included and Gate isn't on the list. I think a 9th level spell would trump a 6th level spell, myself. By way of comparison, the 8th level spell Dimensional Lock does specifically say that it will stop a Gate.
Note that while Gate puts you down exactly where you want to go -- half a mile outside of the walls of Demogorgon's fortress, 50 feet in front of the north gate of the City of Brass, whatever -- it tells you nothing about what might be waiting for you there. Also, while you hold the Gate open, it's two-way connection: things can come through from the other side. Your DM would be perfectly justified in, at a minimum, rolling a wandering monster check. And if you have enemies with access to good divination magic, an ambush is not out out of the question.
Otherwise, this form of the spell is pretty straightforward: a combination between Plane Shift and Teleport, the cool kids way to backpack around the multiverse.
Using Gate to call and control powerful outsiders. allows you to call any outsider you can think of, with no restrictions as to alignment and no opposed Cha checks. It does not allow a saving throw or spell resistance: you call the creature, it comes. Casting Gate is a standard action that costs you 10,000 gp on the spot. That's just for casting it, before you start bargaining -- so you can't even cast this spell if you don't have 10,000 gp worth of "rare incense and offerings" on hand. When you cast, you can call either a kind of creature ("a pit fiend") or a known individual ("Lord Humungus"). Either way, the spell automatically succeeds -- no save, no SR -- and the creature immediately appears. That's the good news.
There's actually a bit more good news. For creatures whose HD is equal to or less than your caster level, you automatically "control" it. The spell is blurry as to what "control" means here, but I'd say that it's probably comparable to the control exercised by Planar Binding after you've won a Cha check. So the creature does your bidding within reason, as long as you're not ordering it on a suicide mission or to do something that grossly violates its alignment. (The spell is unclear on this point, though, so check with your DM.)
Now the bad news. First, you can't ever get deities or "unique beings". Second, even if you control the creature, you have to pay it for its service. The spell text says that the Planar Ally spells are a guideline here, which suggests that we're talking 500 to 1,000 gp / hit die. That would be 30,000 gp (20,000 plus the 10,000 ante for casting the spell) to gain the services of a 20 HD pit fiend for a while, which doesn't actually sound unreasonable. It's unclear whether feats or other abilities that would affect the cost of Planar Binding would affect this payment.
The spell text says that "Immediately upon completion of the service, the being is transported to your vicinity, and you must then and there turn over the promised reward... Failure to fulfill the promise to the letter results in your being subjected to service by the creature or by its liege and master, at the very least." Again, the details are vague, but I would rule that you would instantly be subjected to the equivalent of a Gate yourself: teleported to the creature's home plane, with no save. What happens after that is up to the DM but, honestly, if you're dumb enough to summon a pit fiend and then try to stiff him, I think you deserve whatever you get.
What else... oh, if you Gate in a creature that has more HD than your level? It is uncontrolled. "An uncontrolled being acts as it pleases, making the calling of such creatures rather dangerous. An uncontrolled being may return to its home plane at any time."
Now, this does not mean that Gating such powerful creatures is always always a bad idea. I can imagine circumstances where this might perhaps work out okay. One might be, you're giving it the chance to do something that is absolutely in line with the creature's goals and ethics, and you're also sweetening the deal with a huge pile of cash and goodies. Another might be, you're turning it loose to do something it would want to do anyway -- i.e., you're calling up a demon or a qlippoth and releasing it on the world to do as much damage as possible. But both of those sound pretty risky; at a minimum, you're giving your DM a huge opportunity to get creative. I'd stick to creatures of your HD or less, myself.
An interesting question is whether, if an uncontrolled creature chooses to assist you, you must then pay it or suffer the consequences. The spell text is not really clear on this point. My inclination would be to say yes -- if the creature helps you in some way, you're on the hook and must pay. Otherwise you end up with lots of legalistic wrangling: "Yes, we were cornered by demons, and yes I gated in a solar angel to save us, but angels kill demons! That's their nature, right? So really I was doing it a favor by giving it an opportunity!"
So, to summarize:
Advantages of using Gate to conjure things: You can get whatever you like, up to your level in HD. It's a standard action. No saves, Cha checks or SR. Creatures with HD equal to or less than your level are automatically called and controlled.
Disadvantages of Gate: It's expensive. Creatures with more HD than your level can be called but are not controlled.
Note that if you have the Augment Calling feat, you can get 20 HD creatures via Planar Ally or Planar Binding without using Gate. That's not always better -- Gate can be cast on the fly, and is far more flexible than Planar Ally. But it does save you that 10,000 gp casting cost.
This is a mini-Guide, so I'm not going to list the creatures you might want to call. There are a lot of them, and while they're all crazy powerful their specific abilities vary greatly. This is a spell that rewards doing your homework.
One last thought: the sorts of creatures you can get with Gate -- Pit Fiends and Solars and whatnot -- are major powers in their own right. They may have minions -- in some cases entire armies -- at their beck and call. Your DM would be perfectly within his rights to give these creatures unexpected resources, including direct connections to deities, artifacts or other hugely powerful magical items, and/or the ability to strike at you even on your home plane. Every campaign is different, but I'd say that Gating in such powerful creatures should never become routine or casual; even at very high levels, this should be a major, game-changing event. Discuss with your DM and see what he thinks.
Thoughts and comments welcome!
Oh! Well, it was definitely overpowered before (why would you ever build an Oracle and not take this feat) -- but when did it get nerfed?
Seraptis [CR 15, Will +13, SR 26, Cha 21]
I think you've nailed it -- the seraptis' main value is in her Cha drain attack. Two problems. One, the save is rather low for enemies you'll be facing at this level. Two, it's going to take a while to drain most foes to zero. On the plus side, foes are staggered if they fail their save.
Oolioddroo [CR 13, Will +16, SR 24, Cha 23] Let's be clear: this is not a combat option.
Oh, this thing is your sick bastard spymaster par excellence. If used cleverly, it's actually overpowered. You can totally subvert a nation with this gal on side. From the other side of the table, if you're a DM running a demon cult led by a conjuring wizard or cleric, this can make your players incredibly freaked out and paranoid. Fun fun fun either way.
Two cents on this spell and balancing it.
The Planar Binding spells are indeed powerful, to the point of being potentially unbalancing. Under RAW, there's no limit to the number of outsiders you can call and bind. A 9th level wizard could have a squad of a dozen barbed devils -- that's a CR 11 or 12 encounter. A 15th level wizard with Augment Calling can call a 20 HD outsider, which is probably going to be around CR 18 or so. All of this is perfectly legal under RAW.
There are several ways for the DM to balance this without house-ruling or bending RAW. One is to wait very quietly for the player to make a mistake. This requires patience, but people get sloppy fast if nothing bad happens. So the PC calls something, and gives vague instructions, and the called creature follows them a little too literally...
A second way is for the PC to attract attention from powerful forces within the game world. If you're summoning large numbers of evil outsiders, there are probably knightly orders and schools of wizardry who are dedicated to finding and dealing with people just like you. Even if you're just binding things to follow you around dungeons, word is going to get around. And even if it doesn't, hey, divination spells are a thing. Sooner or later, people are going to come looking for you.
A third way is to bring in the attention of powerful outsiders. If you keep calling and binding creatures, then it makes perfect in-game sense that sooner or later Hell (or the Abyss, or the Boneyard, or wherever) is going to notice you – either because the outsiders themselves are talking once they get home, or because someone realizes that a bunch of them have gone missing. The DM is completely justified in having senior outsiders take actions. This may be whether direct and hostile (one fine morning just after breakfast, a Cornugon Plane Shifts into your living room with a blast of flame and a roar of rage; with a might fanfare of horns, two Trumpet Archons appear to summon you to judgment), subtle and hostile (three advanced Shadow Demons are dispatched to begin an elaborate conspiracy against you, working through NPCs and other party members) or even not-necessarily-hostile (a Contract Devil strolls into your room, sits down, pulls out a pen, and asks if you'd like to formalize an arrangement with the Marquis of the Seven Miseries; an azata appears, sadness in its great golden eyes, and wants to know whether you realize the trouble you've caused, and do you plan to make it good?).
This sort of thing will IMO be likely to happen faster if you're regularly forcing your targets to do stuff that ticks them off -- but it really should happen one way or another, sooner or later. I’d also say that Lawful creatures would seem more likely to tell their bosses about you, while Chaotic creatures would seem more likely to carry lingering grudges and/or come up with creative or bizarre ways to seek revenge.
As DM, I wouldn't be a jerk about this -- game balance does not mean that your PC is suddenly confronted with some insanely powerful creature attacking him or making outrageous demands. But it's definitely a perfectly legitimate tactic for a DM to complicate a PC's life in this manner.
Heresy Devil (Ayngavhaul) [CR 12, Will + 13, SR 22, Cha 20] At first glance, this creature seems weak, and it IS one of the lower CR creatures we can call with GPB. This guy, however, is designed to make your enemy ragequit their lives...
The bit about affecting other devils' summon ability is particularly good for a diabolist, yes. And the fat guy in a floating chair visual, what's not to like?
-- A thing I should discuss more in the guide: in use, this spell is really sensitive to the particular whims of individual DMs. Under RAW, if you can make the rolls, there's no reason you shouldn't bind the biggest, toughest, baddest creatures possible right away. But (IMO) a thoughtful DM will find ways to preserve game balance and make it risky or otherwise unattractive for you to start calling 18 or 20 HD outsiders the moment you hit 15th level. I suspect there will be tremendous individual variation, though.
Here's the Wendigo I was looking at.
You're right and I'm wrong -- the one I was looking at (on d20pfsrd) was 3PP. So it's on the list!
I had missed that Darkfire Adept gave you +2 on the HD limit! And it hadn't even occurred to me that Spell Perfection could double the bonus on Augment Calling. That's just insane. So, okay: in theory, with Augment Calling, Spell Perfection + 3 levels of Darkfire Adept, at 15th level you could call an outsider of up to 24 HD. However, as a practical matter this would be a pretty narrow build -- you'd have to burn seven feats and take three levels of Darkfire Adept. That doesn't leave you a lot of wiggle room. But getting 20 or 22 dice is already pretty sick overpowered!
Okay, it looks like we're going that route, so please do.
As noted in the first (Lesser Planar Binding) thread, I'm not including mythic creatures here. Mythic ranks make creatures so much more powerful that (as you point out) there's really no point in summoning anything else. So I'm not including them on the lists. (If I were, I would strongly suggest a house rule that you can't summon creatures with X number of mythic ranks unless you the summoner have at least that number of ranks yourself.)
Oh, these guys are all kinds of good! Particularly handy if you have a bunch of lower-level minions who'll benefit from 3/day SLAs. And it's RAW that they're always eager to return to the Prime Material Plane, so that's a thing. If you want to run a scenario with an evil planar binder as the BBEG, giving him a nemesis devil as his henchman / biggest baddest summoned creature would make a lot of sense.
Wendigo [CR 17, Will +11, SR 28, Cha 24]
? The Pathfinder wendigo is a fey, I thought.
Shemhazian Demon [CR 16, Will +18, SR 27, Cha 16] This one is quite powerful. A Gargantuan melee combatant with 6 natural attacks plus rend, as well as a paralyzing gaze attack and some strength drain thrown in. It also has at-will invisibility, which it can cast on the entire party. Its relatively low Int and Cha is a plus for controlling it.
Yeah, it's all good. And note that its strength-draining bite does d4 Str damage even on a successful save! Handy for fighting single opponents. If you're going the demon route, this guy is the top of the pile. Nice one.
If you're LG or close to it, and you're fighting evil, you could in theory call this guy starting at 15th level. I don't think that would quite destroy game balance, but it might force the DM to scramble a bit. But yes: this guy is the top of the list for angels.
Shining Child [CR 12, SR 0, Will +10, Cha 24] +19 touch attacks and a 60' radius blinding aura, plus top-notch illusions. If you were thinking of debuffing it before making a deal, be warned it can cast spell turning.
It's chaotic evil and sort of Lovecraftian, so the DM would be within his rights IMO to make it crazy and difficult to direct. This seems like one of those WMD creatures -- you don't call it to follow you into the dungeon, you call it to turn it loose for maximum destruction.
MoP is a personal spell; it's nice your bound servant has that bonus, but it's not like a free 8th level spell of your own, hence why I didn't note it specifically. I'm not sure Will +20 counts as easy to beat BTW.
Right you are on MoP. Will +20, fair enough, but by the time you're throwing GPB your spell DCs should be approaching 30. And after all, if a Planar Binding fails, you can just spend the time and try again until you succeed...
Kobold Commando wrote:
Well, here's the relevant RAW: "Only a deity’s worshipers can summon its herald... In addition, only divine spellcasters can summon heralds, preventing arcane casters and spells like planar binding from effectively calling upon such beings. Even if a character proves powerful enough to call out to a herald, a deity has the final say in whether or not its emissary answers a worshiper’s summons, granting its herald’s service only to followers in the most extreme need or whose acts directly further its will."
To be fair, the Pirate Queen is herself a CN deity who might be perfectly okay with her herald taking side gigs. But you're not even getting that far unless your team includes one of her clerics who can cast Greater Planar Ally.
Alas, another herald. Planar Ally, not Planar Binding.
Bythos Aeon [CR 16, SR 27, Will +20, Cha 21] At-will greater teleport. The real thing, not 'self + 50 pounds'. It has other abilities relating to time and travel too. You can't offer it anything in negotiation, be prepared for a struggle of wills. On the plus side it is physically incapable of holding a grudge.
And Moment of Prescience once/day, meaning you can get a free 8th level spell. And it's not that hard to call and bind for a creature of its CR.
Cetaceal Agathion [CR 15, SR 26, Will +9/+13 vs. evil, Cha 17] A useful healer and protector to take along on an underwater adventure.
Yes indeed. Good one.
Monadic Deva [CR 12, SR 23, Will +10, Cha 19] A flying healer and protector. At-will plane shift and 3/day holy word are its best other abilities.
It's near the bottom of what this spell can do, but worth adding to the list. And of course, if you're nongood you can keep an eye on that sweet +3 mace.
Astral Deva [CR 14, SR 25, Will +10/+14 vs. evil, Cha 23] This deva slays evil. At-will holy word, among other such abilities.
Yes, just a solid companion for a (mostly) good-aligned party. You may have to watch out for alignment issues, since it's a LG creature that's rather... focused.
Kelpie's wrath [CR 15, SR 26, Will +13, Cha 17] Did you know there's a sentient ship who can be planar bound? I don't think any magic circle is big enough to hold it, so use other precautions. Decent in a fight, but you'd call it to transport tons of stuff between planes. Apparently it will take live porn as part payment.
That is just hilarious.
Anyway: as a Herald, this guy is designed to be the target of Planar Ally, not Planar Binding. Unfortunately Heralds can't normally be called. (The flavor text suggests otherwise, I know. Pretty sure that's an error.) Mind, the Augment Calling feat from Advanced Summoner's Guide lets you cut the cost of Planar Ally in half, making this a plausible option -- especially if you can get another 10% off for hosting a suitably out-of-control kegger on deck.
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 (post and thread right here) and plain vanilla Planar Binding, for creatures of up to 12 HD (post and thread). Now let's do Greater Planar Binding, the last and most powerful of the three, which gives you access to outsiders of up to 18 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,
* * * * *
At these levels you're no longer calling mooks. These creatures are powers in their own right, with minions -- in some cases entire armies -- at their beck and call. Your DM would be perfectly within his rights to give these creatures unexpected resources, including the ability to strike at you even on your home plane. Handle with care.
Imentesh Protean [CR 10, Will +14, Cha 21] – One of the weaker creatures you can call with this spell; for combat purposes you’re better off casting Planar Binding and calling a kolyarut or a hamatula. However, it does have the crazy warpwave power, which has an astonishing 100’ radius, so it’s great for taking out armies or inflicting random mass chaos in population centers. It can also cast Major Creation at will, all day long, which means it’s basically your Minecraft monster. The stuff it creates eventually disappears, but you can have stone walls for 10 hours, or chests full of silver and gold for 100 minutes.
Elder Fire Elemental [CR 11, Will +7, SR 0, Cha 11] -- These guys are very easy to call for a creature of their CR. Of course, by the time you can conjure them, a CR 11 creature may not be all that useful. Still, potentially useful as a terror weapon, especially if you call them in groups.
Malbolgian Cerberi* [CR 12, Will +6, SR 0, Cha 8] -- These are Paizo creatures, but 3.5 (from the Council of Thieves AP, Pathfinder #28), never converted to Pathfinder. If you can convince your DM to allow them anyway, they are wonderful. Not only are they ridiculously easy to conjure for a creature of their CR, but they have the Cerberus' Jaws ability, which prevents bitten creatures from leaving the plane as a curse effect with no save or SR. Are you likely to be facing angry outsiders that can teleport? Well then: invest in three titanium feeding bowls and a couple of tons of Devil Chow, and keep Rover here constantly at heel. Otherwise they're a decent melee creature, basically the next step up from a Nessian Hell Hound.
Ice Devil* (Gelugon) [CR 13, Will +12, SR 24, Cha 20] -- Am I the only one who thinks the Paizo illustration looks like Jiminy Cricket? Anyway. The Gelugon's SLAs are no great shakes, but AC 32 and that nice slow-spell debuff make it very respectable in melee. Interestingly, the ice devil is immune to both fire and cold -- it's a devil, after all, and it does not have the "cold" subtype. So it walks right through fireballs and such, just like every other devil. Its 25 Int means that it can probably out-think you, so be careful. But note that this also means it has a bunch of crazy-high skill and Knowledge bonuses. So if you've got one of these guys around, you can totally to use it to google things.
Marut Inevitable [CR 13, Will +13, SR 26, Cha 24] -- A solid melee brute, and one of the few outsiders to use a sonic attack. Like all inevitables, the marut has that annoying "can't be forced to act against its nature" thing. The marut's particular obsessions is "eliminating those who have unnaturally extended their lives". So if you're going up against a lich or a vampire, the marut should cheerfully cooperate. Well, "cheerfully" by the standards of a giant stomping lawful neutral death robot. Like all the inevitables, a specialized tool.
Handmaiden Devil* (Gylou) [CR 14, Will +10, SR 25, Cha 20] -- Although the Handmaiden has a higher CR than the Ice Devil, it's just about as easy to call and bind. In terms of combat power it's perhaps half a step behind -- but then, the Gyllou isn't really a combat monster. It's a spy, excellent at deception, diplomacy, and disguise. And its weird tentacle cage makes it an excellent kidnapper, too.
Divine Heralds: Heralds are unique servants of deities (Basileus for Asmodeus, the Stabbing Beast for Norgorber, the Old Man for Irori, etc.). They are all CR 15. Unfortunately, they can't be summoned by Planar Binding, ever -- only by Greater Planar Ally, and then only by a worshipper of that particular deity. This is one of the very rare cases in which Planar Ally is better than Planar Binding.
Astradaemon [CR 16, Will +14, SR 27, Cha 24] -- "Astradaemons can only be bribed into service by two things — a feast of souls and the promise to spread death." Since this thing is really only useful as a melee brute, that shouldn't be a problem. 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 soon after it arrives -- a warhorse or a grizzly bear or something -- it gets +1 on all attacks, saves and checks for the next 24 hours. (Obviously you do this after it's bound.) Call this guy when you expect lots and lots of combat against living foes, especially against piles of low-level mooks.
Horned Devil* (Cornugon) [CR 16, Will +13, SR 27, Cha 23] -- The cornugon is another pure melee brute. You call it up to smash things and commit carnage. It's not terribly bright for a creature of its raw power (14 Int) so it's less likely than some other devils to come up with a viciously cunning scheme to entrap you. The astradaemon is somewhat better in combat thanks to its soul siphon and energy drain, but the cornugon is a bit easier to call and bind.
Belier Devil* (Bdellavitra) [CR 16, Will +20, SR 28, Cha 24] -- The Belier's sky-high Will save makes it a difficult fiend to catch. And when you do catch it, you have a 3,000 pound leech-slug with three human heads growing out of its backside. Okay, well. You would use the Bdellavitra to possess someone with its magic jar ability. Sure, you could possess them yourself -- but the Bdellavitra is a face monster, with around +27 on Bluff, Diplomacy, Perception and Sense Motive. Use the Gyllou to kidnap the prince, then use the Belier to replace the prince. Note that this is another super-genius Int 25 devil, though, so handle with extreme care.
Apostate Devil* (Deimavigga) [CR 17, Will +20, SR 27, Cha 28] -- Emphatically not a combat monster (its attacks are quite weak for a creature of its CR), the Deimavigga has an array of strange powers that can be used for all kinds of creative effects. Most notably, given a few days to work, it can permanently change creatures' alignments! Call up this guy if you want to destroy the kingdom; he murders the vizier and takes his place, then with a few words in the king's ear gradually and permanently changes the kindly monarch into a raging tyrant. But have a care -- this devil can directly and physically attack you all the way from Hell. Unless you want to spend the rest of your career cowering inside your Forbiddance-protected private apartments, don't tick off the deimavigga. Only call it up if you can offer it something it would reasonably want, like turning an entire kingdom Lawful Evil or wiping out the local churches of the good gods.
Immolator Devil* (Puragaus) [CR 19, Will +14, SR 30, Cha 24] -- This is the biggest, baddest devil you can get with any Planar Binding spell. And guess what? It has (for a creature of its CR) a mediocre Will save and unimpressive Charisma. It's only a bit harder to call up and bind than a cornugon, but it's much more powerful. I think its official CR of 19 is a bit high, but even at CR 18 this is a pretty good deal. Note, though, that the Immolator has a 24 Int, and it's RAW that they're often commanders of legions of lesser devils. So if you make an enemy of it, the Puragaus is definitely capable of making long-term problems for you.
Honestly, I think that's probably the best way to handle it. Efreeti wishes are a weird leftover from 1e anyway. (To be clear, it's not weird that there are wish-granting genies. It's weird that they're only CR 8.)
1) The Google Docs version of this -- current available right here-- is going to expire soon. Is there anyone who would be willing to host it anew on google docs, Dropbox or something similar?
2) It's about time to revise the Guide once again, especially with two (!) new Cheliax APs coming out. Unusually for a PrC from over five years ago, the Diabolist remains fresh and relevant -- it's still flavorful, still flexible, and still fun. And, yes okay, it's still brutally abusable in the hands of a determined power gamer if that's your thing.
So, if you haven't seen the Guide before, click on through -- your comments and suggestions will be very welcome.
I note that the print version is now in the "less than 100" category. Despite being several years old, and 3.5, this is an absolutely terrific module that is well worth the few bucks. It's early Nicolas Logue -- that should tell you most of what you need to know right there -- and it's a truly atmospheric, disturbing low-level module.
I posted this a while back. If you're serious about having two imp companions...
The Two-Imp Debuff:
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 lower) mooks.
I wouldn't say this is a fantastic tactic; it requires a bit of planning and investment. And it has at least one major drawback: the range on Intimidate is short, just 30', so it requires you to get closer to the monster than you, as a squish wizard, might prefer. (Though if you're a diabolist, you really should have a conjured devil or two as meat shield.) That said, it's definitely viable, especially at level 11 and up. It doesn't cost you any actions; the imps do all the work. 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...
So, takeaway: if you want a hard copy of something? Buy it now, because Paizo generally doesn't do reprints. Once it's out of print, it's gone.
To Paizo's credit, they do periodically (2-3 times per year) do a post on the store blog listing which items are sinking low in inventory: "Less than 1,000 left", "Less than 500 left", "Less than 100 left" and so forth. So if you're dithering whether to pick up a particular module, you can look up one of those posts and see if it's in danger of disappearing.
No. They have a policy of not re-releasing hard copies once they're sold out. IIUC there are two reasons for this.
One, doing a small print run costs more (and is also a bit of a PITA). So, either they'd have to increase the cover price, or they'd make less money on each copy. Not attractive either way. And two, the market for selling hard copies is only so big. So if they keep reprinting the old stuff, that may take sales away from the new stuff. That's undesirable for various reasons.
They are keeping the .pdfs up for sale forever, so you can always get your hands on the material. Just, not in hard copy form.
So, it's been a combination of work distraction and /really bad internet/ here in Tajikistan. Every time that one ISIS guy posts a video, they pretty much shut down the internet for a week or two. A high ranking Tajik defected to ISIS a while back -- google "Tajik ISIS" and maybe "tomato" and you'll get him -- and the government here is super crazy paranoid about political Islam, so whenever he posts they just shut everything down. Which, okay, we're next door to Afghanistan, but honestly guys, this is not going to do it.) VPN can sometimes get around, but you have to play find-the-server tag.
Honestly not sure how to proceed here.
I ran the Pathfinder version of this back in 2011. It's an excellent high concept adventure. I gave it five stars, and so did every other person who reviewed it. You can find all those reviews right here.
I assume that you didn't change much about the adventure other than converting it to 5e?