|Douglas Muir 406|
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This is a short list, because as a general rule anything that’s good for an ordinary spellcaster will be good for a Diabolist too. These are just a few items that are particularly noteworthy.
Abjurant Salt (600 gp/dose) – This stuff is amazing: under the RAW, no called or summoned creature can cross a line or circle made of it. It’s an open question whether teleportation is allowed (I’d say no) but even so, this is really a must-have item. Buy it in bulk and use it liberally. Of course, once your DM knows it exists, he’ll probably use it against you at some point. But that’s only fair.
Alchemical Reagents – Little known fact: casting abjuration spells with cold iron gives you +1 ECL, while ginger extract gives you +1 ECL on transmutation spells. Both these reagents cost just 5 gp per spell cast.
Amulet of the Spirits [Heavens variant] (8,000 gp) – “Whenever the wearer can see the open sky at night, she can… add her Wisdom modifier to her Charisma modifier on all Charisma checks and Charisma-based skill checks”. If you have a positive Wis modifier, install a skylight in your conjuration chamber. If you’re a Diabolist cleric, this is a must-have!
Bracelet of Bargaining (13,500 gp) – Gives you +5 competence bonuses on Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive, plus the funny handshake power. Good for anyone, but a Diabolist will actually use these skills regularly.
Caller’s Feather (2,000 gp) – This is an expensive one-shot consumable. It raises the maximum hit dice of creatures you can call by +2 – so Lesser Planer Binding can call creatures with up to 8 HD, Greater Planar Binding creatures of up to 20, and so forth – and gives you +2 on the initial Charisma check. Then it crumbles to dust. Pricey at lower levels, but at higher levels it’s a bargain. Unclear if it stacks with the +2 from Augment Calling, but I don’t see anything in the description that would forbid it, so probably yes.
Candle of Invocation (8,400 gp) – While the candle is burning, creatures of the same alignment as the candle within 30’ of the flame add a +2 morale bonus on attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks. Have one of these burning whenever you call something – 25’ behind you, mind, so that the called creature doesn’t get the benefit. At 10 minutes per calling you’ll get 24 uses out of it, but if you’re clever you’ll save the last use so you can break it and get that free Gate spell.
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), though not with the Bracelet of Bargaining above. Just remember that it takes up your headband slot.
Demon Blood (800 gp) – You want a decent Fortitude save to avoid the side effects, but for one hour it gives you +2 to overcome demons’ spell resistance, and demons get -2 on their saves against your spells and SLAs. Definitely worthwhile if you’re playing Wrath of the Righteous or otherwise going up against large numbers of demons.
Dweomer’s Essence (500 gp) – At 500 gold per shot, this stuff isn’t cheap. But each dose gives you +5 on a single spell to overcome SR. Use it while you’re saving up money to get a Metamagic Rod of Piercing Spell, and then keep a dose or two around in case you hit the 3 spells/day limit on the rod (or in case you meet something with crazy high SR).
Darksire Amulet (9,000 gp) – Only usable by tieflings, but for them it gives +5 to one energy resistance and a +4 insight bonus on Diplomacy checks against evil outsiders.
Goblin Drum (2,000 gp) – If you do a lot of short-range blasting? This item increases the damage output of all fires within 30’, whether magical or natural, by +1 hp/die. It can also make unattended flammable items explode! It has to be played as a move action, which is fine – you give it to your imp.
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.
Iron Flask (170,000 gp) – Crazy expensive, so of interest only to high level characters. Lets you entrap a single outsider inside. The creature gets a DC 19 Will save (with no SR) to resist. If it fails it’s stuck in the flask until you release it (and then it has to serve you for an hour). Useful as insurance against a calling gone bad, as a last-ditch defense in a pinch, and possibly (if the DM allows it) as an aid to negotiation – “You can do my bidding now, or you can take your chances with Mr. Flasky here.”
Ioun Stones – Most of these are good for anybody. A few would be of particular interest to Diabolists.
-- Mossy Disk (5,000): If you can find one that boosts Knowledge (Planes), the +5 competence bonus is great for researching those True Names.
-- Orange Prism (30,000): Expensive, but it gives a flat +1 caster level to everything, including penetrating SR. If you’re high level and do a lot of blasting, well worth it.
-- Pale Green Prism (30,000): Also expensive, but +1 on attack roles, saves, every one of your skills and also ability checks – which includes contested Cha checks – makes this worth getting once you can afford it.
-- Pale Orange Rhomboid (200,000) – Very expensive, but saves you from death once/day. If you’ve invested heavily in the Damned feats, or anything else that makes raising you difficult or impossible, this is probably worthwhile once you can afford it. (AFAICT this, unlike the Breath of Life spell, saves you a moment before death rather than a moment after, and so avoids the damnation rules. Make sure your DM agrees.) The Flawed stone is a one-shot version that saves your life a single time and then burns out. If you have damnation issues, I’d say it’s a steal at 12,000 gp.
Master’s Perfect Golden Bell (20,000) – When struck, reduces the SR and DR of all outsiders within 30’ by 5. Requires an unarmed strike to activate, and lasts d6 rounds. Potentially useful against recalcitrant creatures. Of course, a DM may also use this against you and your servants…
Metamagic Rod [Piercing Spell] (3,000 for Lesser, 11,000 for standard, or 24,500 for Greater) – Bite the bullet and spend the money. This plus the spell penetration feats = you can pretty much ignore SR. That’s huge.
Orb of Foul Abaddon (18,000 gp) – The thing’s dread bolt power is pretty useless, but that’s not what you want it for – it also gives +1 caster level to all spells with the evil descriptor. Remember, every spell you use Hellfire Admixture on counts as evil, so this is an extra die of damage on blasting, plus an extra day of service from whatever evil creatures you may call and bind.
Otherworldly Kimono (67,000 gp) – Grants a +4 resistance bonus to all saves, +4 on caster level checks, and an odd Maze-like trapping power that increases both these temporarily to +6. The Robe of the Archmagi is superior overall, but for a Diabolist both the bump to ECL and the trapping power are pretty attractive.
Prayer Beads, Standard (45,800 gp) –Pricey, but you want this for the Bead of Karma, which gives you +4 ECL for 10 minutes/day. (Non-divine casters will need a UMD check.)
Ring of Mind Shielding (8,000 gp) – You are continually immune to detect thoughts, discern lies, and any attempt to magically discern your alignment. Good at all times, and a must-have if your diabolist is spending a lot of time in places where devil-summoning evil wizards may not be welcome. (“I told you, Mr. Paladin. I’m a dentist.”)
Robe of the Archmagi (75,000 gp) – If you’re rich enough to afford it, this is actually cheap at the price. 75k is a lot, but for that you’re getting a +5 armor bonus to AC, a +4 resistance bonus on all saves, SR 18, and a +2 enhancement bonus on checks to overcome SR. That’s a lot of goodness in one single body-slot item. Just make sure the bonuses stack with whatever you already have – i.e., this will make Mage Armor useless, and you’ll be dropping that Cloak of Resistance in the Goodwill box.
Robe Blazing/ Shocking / Voidfrost (11,000) – Each of these gives you Resistance 5 to one energy type and +1 caster level with that energy type. That’s an extra die of blasting damage and +1 against SR. So if you blast a lot, these are a great way to use your body slot for a few levels until you can afford that spiffy Robe of the Archmagi.
Summon Bane weapon -- +2 against summoned or called creatures, and +2d6 damage. Pick one up for your meat shield servant or cohort. Another item that the DM may use against you, of course. Oh, these DMs.
This Guide assumes that you're going to call up monsters. Once you're high enough level to start casting Lesser Planar Binding, you're going to call up lots and lots of devils. The class supports it -- this is the only Paizo PrC that gives bonuses to conjuring and binding things -- so you're going to do it.
This means you could have a lot of creatures working for you. At 10th level, it would be totally plausible for you to have your imp companion, a brute squad of four bearded devils, and a zebub devil flying ahead to scout. In game terms, that means a LOT of action economy. That's great! You'll be running seven different creatures, so you can do seven different things. Sounds good, right? Well, yes and no.
If you're in a tabletop game... well, you know how some people don't like playing with summoners, because the guy who is playing the summoner is really getting to play two characters, and so is taking up twice as much time as everyone else? This is like that, only potentially worse. Oh so much worse. If you're playing as many creatures as the rest of the party combined, you may be taking up as much game time as the rest of the party combined. The other players and the DM are going to get sick of this toute suite. So if you don't want to be That Guy, here are some suggestions.
Talk to the DM first. If you make it clear where you're going with the character, your DM will be a lot more likely to let you give it a try. (DMs generally dislike being surprised.) Getting DM buy-in is always a good idea.
Start slow. In theory, once you can start casting LPB you can very quickly have a squad of half a dozen devils working for you. In practice, start with one for a while. Not only will that get the DM and the other players used to having new pieces on the board, it'll also give you a chance to ease into the organizational and tactical challenges -- see below.
Be organized. If you have four bearded devils, have a short character sheet for each one in front of you. Alice, Barney, Chuck and Dan -- track their hits, track their status, know what their AC and bonuses are as well as you know your own. If the game uses miniatures, bring your own miniatures for your monsters. If all your creatures are acting on different initiatives, blow a few bucks on one of those initiative trackers and volunteer to be Initiative Person. (Trust me, your DM will appreciate this.)
Be decisive. Have a default plan. Round one, the zebub throws grease and then flies to safety, two barbazus charge while two others flank with the fighter and the rogue, the imp pulls out the fireball wand. Round two, while the other players are acting, you are thinking about what to do next. You're not texting, you're not flipping through a splatbook -- you're planning. So when your turn comes, bam bam bam, you can rattle off what each of your creatures is doing.
Understand that this means your decisions won't always be optimal. If you're one of those players who always has to get the maximum mileage out of every feat and every spell, who always has to place the miniature in exactly the right square, who NEEDS to have every possible bonus? Do not play this class. It's not going to be a happy experience. Lots of creatures means you need to play fast, and that means sometimes you'll miss stuff. Alice and Barney will move just out of range of the cleric's healbomb channel. Chuck will neglect to take an AoO he was entitled to. Dan will forget that the bard's Inspire Courage is still giving him an attack bonus. The zebub devil may simply disappear for a couple of rounds, forgotten. You either play fast and a little sloppy, or you try to play optimally and take twenty minutes to complete one turn and everybody hates you. Play fast.
(One way to make this fun: when you play suboptimally, roleplay it. Alice and Barney? they don't think they need a stupid mortal cleric's pathetic healing magic. Chuck? is sulking because he wants to go back to Hell, so he let the enemy get away. And the zebub devil found a rat in a corner and spent the last three rounds giggling and slowly pulling it to pieces.)
Make it work for the other players too. Don't hog the glory -- share it. Make sure one of your creatures is always a flank buddy for the rogue and the fighter. If there's another squish caster in the party, make sure she always has a meat shield. If your creatures have useful skills or SLAs, use them for the party. If the party antipaladin just acquired a castle, offer her some bound devils to help guard it while she's out committing crimes. In general, act like your conjured creatures are party resources, not yours.
Here's a trick: if you're not decisively certain what to do with one of your creatures? Ask other players. "Alice goes here, Barney teleports next to the caster, Chuck... hey, do you need another hitter on that giant? Chuck could charge him." Boom, you're turning your turn into their turn as well. Don't overdo this -- you don't want the whole party voting on every move -- but if you do it at least once per combat, it will help reinforce that these creatures are there for everyone, not just you.
The Diabolist’s capstone 10th level power is super-situational and is largely dependent on your DM’s willingness to give you access to the True Names of powerful creatures. The 9th level power is just another +2 on researching devil’s true names, and the 8th level power is only interesting if you enter this class early and/or if you’re very blasty. So you may want to view the Diabolist as a PrC with seven or at most eight levels, not ten.
The Diabolist can shine in any setting, but it’s particularly good in campaigns where the PCs have a solid base of operations and/or are regularly fighting good or chaotic opponents. Fire Mountain Games’ Way of the Wicked is an AP for evil characters, and a Diabolist can be tremendous fun here. Among the Paizo Adventure Paths, a Diabolist could be particularly fun to play in Rise of the Runelords (base yourself in Sandpoint, and allow no evil from the past to interfere with your evil plans), Kingmaker (where once there was wilderness, now rises a great cathedral to Asmodeus), and Wrath of the Righteous (chaos must be fought!). That last one gets tricky if there’s a paladin in the party, but if there isn’t, you can have some insane fun pitting Evil against Different Evil. Oh, and then of course there are the two new Cheliax APs that are coming out. A Diabolist seems like she might fit right in...
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.
There’s not a lot of synergy between the Diabolist and other PrCs, but if you’re willing to give up a level of spellcasting, three levels of Darkfire adept give you an interesting mix of options including Sacred Summons and the Darkfire Pact. The Pact is very nice; it raises the HD limit on your conjurations by +2 (another way to get that Pit Fiend…) while making your conjured creatures noticeably more powerful. Whether it’s worth that lost level of casting is up to you. Meanwhile, a single level of Cyphermage won’t hurt much and gives you Focused Scroll, which if you’re an Int-based caster gives you a whopping bonus to overcoming SR once/day.
The Genie Binder PrC is sort of like the Diabolist except it’s specialized for binding genies, has fewer interesting powers, and you can’t start on it until 12th (!) level. If you want to go that route, most of this guide would apply to the Genie Binder as well.
I doubt any DM would allow you to take the Devilbound template for yourself. However, there’s no reason you couldn’t negotiate this for some other creature, especially if you’re on good terms with a contract devil. A melee character or monster can gain some serious value from getting bound to a barbed or host devil -- +2 to all physical stats, and +4 natural AC, and some handy SLAs.
While you’re best at conjuring devils, don’t forget other monsters too. Elementals in particular make excellent frontline troops. They have low Cha, making them easy to boss around even without Infernal Charisma (and you can get bonuses against them by doing things like lighting bonfires around the circle for a water elemental, surrounding it with ice for a fire elemental – yes, really, that will give you +4 on your Cha check). They have useful special abilities like setting stuff on fire or Earth Glide (great for scouting and flanking). And – maybe best of all – they are stupid and usually have no Sense Motive, so you can lie to them freely. A discussion of different outsiders and their strengths and weaknesses is included in DMDM’s Guide to Planar Binding.
At higher levels, the Infernal Binder subschool of conjuration specialists has the obnoxious power of being able to hijack your control over conjured creatures. Would your DM throw one of these guys at you? Surely not.
Late in the game you may get access to Gate. Gate is its own interesting thing. It’s discussed in more detail in DMDM’s Guide to Planar Binding, but the key points are (1) you want to boost your ECL as high as possible and then (2) you want a pile of cash on hand.
Questions and comments can be directed to Douglas Muir 406 on the paizo forum.