Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ

Douglas Muir 406's page

7,759 posts. 5 reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


1 to 50 of 280 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | next > last >>

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Okay, going to post some excerpts from my guides here. You can find the different pieces by searching, like so.

Entering the Diabolist class:

Entering this class after 5th level, while legal, is not as easy as it might seem. You'll need to buy a scroll of Lesser Planar Binding and probably a scroll of Magic Circle Against Evil as well. Assuming the scroll was cast at 9th level, you'll need to make a DC 10 caster level check, meaning you'll make it on a 5 or higher -- 80% of the time. But then the conjured devil must fail its Will save; must also fail a special Cha check (DC 15 + 1/2 your level + your Cha modifier); and then lose to you on an opposed Cha check to be forced into service. For this reason, you should swallow your pride and summon a lemure (+0 Will save, 5 Cha) instead of something like an imp (+4 Will save, 14 Cha). Yes, the imp is much cooler. But the lemure is much less likely to make its Will save or Cha check and disappear amidst a cloud of brimstone and a peal of mocking laughter, leaving you with a botched conjuration and a couple of painfully expensive wasted scrolls. So go with the lemure -- you'll be calling up cool things soon enough.

If you think you can hack it, go for it at 6th level. But starting the class at 7th is also okay. If you're going to wait until 8th, then -- as a wizard -- you might as well wait until 9th, since 8th level will give you a wizard school power.

Building towards a Diabolist:

Skills: Like most Paizo PrCs, the Diabolist is skill-starved, with a miserable 2+Int points per level. So if you're not an Int-based caster, and not human, you're going to be placing every skill rank with exquisite care. Here are some of the skills you may want to consider.

Spellcraft -- You need three ranks of this to enter the class. But keep piling on the ranks, because you have to make that DC 20 Spellcraft check every time you conjure something. (You can take 20, but then you're on your knees with that stupid powdered silver all the dang morning.) Once you hit 12th or 13th level and can consistently get +19 before buffs, you can ignore this.

Knowledge (Planes) -- You need five ranks of this to enter the class. After that... well, technically, you need this in order to make Knowledge checks about the creatures you conjure. As a practical matter, let's face it, you're going to have the stats for bearded devils memorized PDQ once you start running around with them. But this still gets a thumbs up, because you never know when the DM is going to throw you a curve with some bizarre new sort of outsider. Also, you can use it to research true names, which is a thing you should do.

Knowledge (Religion) -- You need five ranks of this to enter the class. Once you've got that, unless you're a cleric, walk away and never look back.

Diplomacy -- This skill works on evil outsiders just like everything else. And after all, you don't WANT to fill up the Outer Planes with creatures who nurse festering hatred and resentment towards you. As a practical matter, at the end of their service you want them reasonably content -- or dead. So dropping a rank or two in this isn't a waste, especially if you don't have a "face" character around to help you. And, hey, it's a class skill for Diabolists.

Intimidate -- The way this skill is structured makes it less useful to you than Diplomacy. Avoid.

Ride -- What is this doing here? It's not a class skill for diabolist, nor for any class that's likely to become a diabolist. On the other hand, there are a few conjurable outsiders that can be ridden. If you like the idea of commanding your fiendish minions from the back of a rearing nightmare, throw a rank or two at this.

Sense Motive -- Believe it or not, evil outsiders are not always perfectly forthright and honest when dealing with the spellcasters who are binding them to service. Catching one of your devils in a dangerous half-truth could be a literal lifesaver. Put some ranks into this, and use it regularly.

Bluff -- Lying to devils is probably not a great long-term strategy; at higher levels, too many of these guys have sky-high Sense Motive skills. But you may conjure up things other than devils, after all. Elementals, for instance, have zero Sense Motive, which means that even powerful ones are painfully easy to fool. And at midlevels, this can actually be quite useful even with devils. "Yes, I conjured you up to be my bodyguard going into the Temple of Horrendous Doom. A formality, really -- it's almost certainly entirely safe." If you manage to fool the creature, you should get be able to lie your way to a better check DC. (Of course, if you fail, you should get the worst DC possible.) This skill is also very useful if the campaign takes you into regions where devil-summoning is viewed askance. "No, I'm an optometrist actually."

If you can cover these and still have ranks left over, spend on skills as for a normal PC -- Perception, Knowledges, what have you.

Feats: If you're playing a blast-y Diabolist, then go and look at some of the guides for blasters. No rush, we'll wait. Meanwhile, here are some other feats you'll want to consider.

Spell Penetration and Greater Spell Penetration -- Is this even a question? Not only will you regularly be dealing with evil outsiders, but you'll inevitably sometimes be giving some of them reason to hate you. And spell resistance is one way a called creature can break out of your circle. You absolutely must have these feats. The only question is when to take them. I'd recommend taking SP at either 7th or 9th level, and GSP no later than 13th.

Spell Focus (Conjuration) -- You want this to crank up the Will save DCs on your Planar Bindings, especially at higher levels. And at middle levels there are lots of perfectly excellent spells that it works with, including web, glitterdust, sleet storm, hungry pit, and cloudkill. Take this at 3rd or 5th level and you'll get lots of use out of it.

Leadership -- If the other PCs aren't forthcoming with help in your conjuring rituals, go and get it yourself. See below for discussion of how this can play out.

Craft Wand -- Take this if you're doing the "wand-wielding imp companion" thing; you'll save a lot of money.

Extend Spell -- Consider either this feat or a Rod of Lesser Metamagic (Extend). The Rod is less of an investment and is probably your better bet, but OTOH this is one of the better metamagic feats... anyway: you want this at levels below 11th, so that you can cast buff spells with a duration that's longer than the casting time of your Planar Binding (10 minutes). Cast Extended Eagle's Splendor at 9th level, and you now have another +2 on your opposed Charisma checks (and on your Bluff and Diplomacy rolls, too, if you're going that route) all through the casting and for 8 minutes beyond. And then cast Extended Protection From Evil and Extended Shield on yourself and any helpers, just in case things go terribly wrong.

Wizard Schools and Spells:

If you're a wizard, what schools are good, and what spells should you take?

Abjuration -- This is a weak school for most purposes, but for a Diabolist it's actually okay. You're going to be taking a lot of abjuration spells anyway. And if you take the banishment subschool, at 8th level you get the Aura of Banishment, which from your POV is a highly desirable safety buff. (Of course, this means you have to be a wizard for eight levels before starting on Diabolist.)

Conjurer -- Obvious, right? The Infernal Binder subschool, while not as great as you might hope, is pretty good for you... +3 to Knowledge (Planes), the chance to grab other peoples' summoned monsters, and an imp familiar. (Once you get the imp companion you end up with an imp on each shoulder. One serves you, the other serves Hell.) The teleportation subschool is also fine, though limited by the fact that it uses wizard levels, so your dimension door power will probably never get beyond 15'.

Divination -- This is almost worth taking just for the Prescience power of the Foresight subschool. You get to double-roll every Cha check, and things like rolls to overcome SR as well. This is huge. Throw in the ability to act in a surprise round and a nice little Init bonus, and this school is surprisingly strong for you. Of course, now you have to be a Diviner and take a bunch of Divination spells. Nothing's perfect.

Enchantment -- Not a strong school for a class that's blasting a lot and dealing with creatures with SR and high Will saves. Still, unlike most wizards you actually use Bluff and Diplomacy.

Evocation -- A fine school for you. The Admixture subschool is great for a blaster, and you'll end up with five types instead of four.

Illusion -- Thematic, but not a good choice mechanically. None of the school or subschool powers will help you do what you do best.

Necromancy -- See Illusion.

Transmutation -- +2 to Con or Dex by the time you become a Diabolist is pretty sweet. Then you take the Enhancement subschool and use Augment to buff your minions. If you take 8 levels of wizard, then the Perfection of Self power -- +4 to any stat for one round -- has all kinds of uses; check if your DM will allow it to affect opposed Cha checks.

Spells -- This is a partial list of spells that are likely to be of interest to you.

Level 1

Protection from Evil/whatever -- Kind of a no-brainer.

Level 2

Eagle's Splendor -- Once you're 11th level (or 6th with Extend Spell) you can cast this before casting Planar Binding and get the benefit of it on Cha checks.
Fox's Cunning -- As Eagle's Splendor if you're an Int-based caster.
Misdirection -- If you're living someplace where having an evil aura is an issue.
Owl's Wisdom -- As Eagle's Splendor if you're a Wis-based caster.
See Invisibility -- Many devils can go invisible at will. Once you have the money, pay the 5,000 gp to have Permanency cast so you have this at all times.

Level 3

Agonize -- A spell to punish outsiders that... allows SR and a Fort save, which is most outsiders' best save. Still, worth a try, especially as it's the only spell that specifically addresses this need for you.
Haste -- I hate this spell; it's way overpowered for third level, which is why everyone uses it. Nonetheless, if you're leading a bunch of called creatures into battle, it's a very useful tactical mass buff.
Magic Circle Against Evil/whatever -- You must have this spell.
Protection from Energy -- Get it if you're regularly conjuring elementals or other creatures that use a particular energy attack.

Level 4

Enervation -- A fine spell for dealing with difficult outsiders. You did take Spell Penetration, right?
Dimensional Anchor -- You must have this spell.
Lesser Planar Binding -- You must have this spell.
Scrying -- If you're sending your conjured creatures out on missions, you'll want to be able to keep track of them. Make sure you get a toenail clipping or something.

Level 5

Planar Adaptation -- If you're planning to visit Hell at some point.
Planar Binding -- You must have this spell.
Dismissal -- This should be a great spell, but is merely an okay one, because it is affected by SR and also grants a Will save. That said, if something gets loose, this is a spell to have ready.

Level 6
Antimagic Field -- Works on summoned creatures but not conjured ones.
Geas-Quest -- SR but *no* saving throw. Use this to make sure your creatures are staying in line, especially the high Will-save ones.
Contingency -- At 15th level, this can be used to auto-teleport you away from danger. At lower levels, it can be used to auto-activate a range of buffs and other helpful effects.
Legend Lore -- You can use this to get information on named individual outsiders.

Level 7

Banishment -- More powerful version of Dismissal.
Greater Planar Binding -- You must have this spell.
Teleport Trap -- If you've made some enemies among outsiders (and by this point in your career, you probably have) cast this on your living quarters every couple of weeks. Be creative about what's waiting at the destination, but a permanent Alarm spell and some symbols or other outsider-affecting magical traps are probably good.
Trap the Soul -- Not actually that great unless you know the creature's name, or have lots and lots of money to burn on gems that shatter when the spell fails.

Level 8

Binding -- A powerful bargaining tool. I'd rule that the demonstrated ability to bind outsiders of a particular type would give you a bonus on your Cha checks against outsiders of that same type -- "Do you want to end up like Bob here?" Check whether your DM agrees.
Dimensional Lock -- If you're high enough level, and don't care about whatever attention the "shimmering emerald barrier" attracts, cast this periodically to ward your quarters against unwanted visitors from other planes.
Euphoric Tranquility -- No Will save! Does get SR, unfortunately.
Moment of Prescience -- Win that Cha check!
Polar Ray -- Swap in hellfire to make this a very flexible ranged touch attack.
Sympathy -- If you cast this on your conjuring area, it can make the called creature happy to be there; I'd rule that this would move its attitude a step or two to the better. Unfortunately the creature gets a Will save and SR too.

Level 9

Gate

Your Imp Companion:

The imp companion is one of the most popular class features of the Diabolist class, and with good reason. The imp is a useful tool to begin with – it can fly, turn invisible at will, is telepathic, has constant detect good and detect magic, and a number of useful SLAs including augury once/day and commune (6 questions) once/week. This alone makes it an excellent companion for low and mid-level PCs. But the diabolist’s imp scales with level – it gains HD, feats, skills, and new SLAs as you level up. And it advances according to your combined caster + diabolist levels. (Under the RAW, you could argue that it your diabolist levels count double, since diabolist is a caster class -- in other words, that a wizard 5 / diabolist 5 would get a level 15 imp familiar. But this seems to be one of the rare cases where sloppy language made it past Paizo editing. A companion who advances with your level is plenty good enough. Don't be greedy.)

One popular option is to give the imp a wand and useit to make wand attacks. Activating a wand is a DC 20 Use Magic Device check, with +2 on the check if the user has activated that particular device before. UMD is not a class skill for imps, and the creature’s Cha is only 14. So, if you want your imp to fly around delivering wand attacks, it may be worth investing one of the creature’s feats in Skill Focus: Use Magical Device. The DC does not scale with the power of the wand, so you can equip the imp with a “golf bag” of wands of various levels (fireball, grease, etc.) for use as needed. If you’re going this route, investing a feat of your own in Craft Wand is recommended.

Whether you go this route or not, make sure you have your imp cast augury and commune regularly – knowledge is power, and these are very useful spells.

CAUTION: Do not use your imp as a wand platform until its UMD bonus is up to at least +10, as otherwise you are in danger of a wand mishap – i.e., the imp fireballing your party instead of the enemy.

NOTE: If you lose your imp companion, the ritual to get a new one takes 24 hours of your time, but costs NO money. That’s right – replacing your imp is absolutely free! So unless you’re up against a clock with no chance to take a day off, don’t be shy about putting your little buddy in harm’s way… he’s expendable. Hard cheese for him but, hey, that’s life in Hell. And, really, what's more fun than greeting your new companion with a friendly, "I hope you don't fail me as pathetically as your late predecessor"?


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Don't forget that the wizard gets a saving throw. Now, if she casts it on him while he's sleeping, you could reasonably say she just zaps him two or three times until it gets through. (And IMO a sleeping character wouldn't notice something being cast on him.)

You'll need a good cover ID for the succubus. "Lady So-and-so is an ambitious, intelligent young woman. She's the widow of a knight who got killed doing something or other, leaving her a modest estate. Make her short and blonde. (Nobody suspects a petite blonde of evil.)

You'll have to season the approach to fit your player and his PC, but I'd do it like this: (1) introduce her in some way that will make the PC like her... she brings him evidence of a minor but obnoxious conspiracy against him, or some such. (2) Emphasize that she's attractive, intelligent, ambitious, and poor-ish. (3) Give him the opportunity to hit that. (4) Have her make him a business proposition -- in character -- that goes something like this: "Last night was great, Bob. Now listen. You'll need a Queen; that's not me, I'm not high enough nobility. But you'll also need a Royal Mistress, and I'd be absolutely outstanding at that. I'm good at reading people, and I'm loyal. Courts can be snake pits. Take me on, and I'll watch your back." Or something like that -- you know best what will appeal to your PC.

A couple of tips. One, introduce her gradually (if time allows). If you throw this NPC at the PCs and spend a LOT of time with her all at once, it could be suspicious, so try to spin it out a bit. Two, give her a clear persona _in game terms_ -- like, she's an Aristocrat 3 / Rogue 3, or something like that. Have her act into that, visibly making skill checks on Bluff or Sense Motive or Knowledge, so that the PCs can interpret her actions that way. Three, note that the sex is great, but don't dwell too much on that -- you want the PC smug and happy, but you don't want him thinking Super Freaky, because that might turn his thoughts towards "succubus". Pitch the great sex as one part of an overall excellent package.

Finally, give her a chance to prove herself in a way that emphasizes that she's around the PC all night most nights. Have the PC offend some minor but self-important knight or noble. (Do this in a way that makes it the noble's fault, not the PC's -- Sir So-and-so is a pompous buffoon who believes his blue blood makes him superior, the kingdom is better off once he's dismissed.) Then set up a crude assassination attempt, with a couple of low-level rogues sneaking into the PC's bedchamber. Have him suddenly awaken to find himself under attack -- and his near-naked mistress (who woke up before him, so gets to act on the surprise round) throwing herself in front of him to take the assassin's sneak attack! Blood everywhere, but she's alive and screaming and has pulled out a dagger from somewhere to defend him, and -- now be a jerk and, if he tries to spellcast, ask him nastily if he takes his spell components to bed; you have a pouch of bat guano around your neck while you're making love to your mistress? I don't think so, Bob. Okay, it's on the night table, that's a standard action to pick it up, that's your move, now their turn, they're trying to flank you -- and you run a little combat, but of course in the end the assassins are easily fended off. And there she is, wrapped in a bloody sheet, tottering from loss of blood (poor thing, a hit that did just 12 points of damage left her hardly able to stand) -- but triumphant. "I said I would... watch your back... my King."

Of course she set the whole thing up with clever Suggestions and slander, but she's bright enough to have hidden her tracks. And while the PC is busy setting up defenses around his sleeping quarters, he's going to make sure that she's inside it with him...

Thoughts?

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

A few minutes of searching turns nothing up. The pond is deep but there doesn't seem to be anything in it. The Guardian liked it as a decorative pond: he would stand and stare for hours, admiring the play of light on the water and the delicate balance of the pocket ecosystem, algae and tadpole, dragonfly and beetle. It would bring him deep serenity to contemplate the ebb and flow of life through the food web and its changes with the turning seasons, all things taking their place in the Great Circle of so annoying wow you are really glad you killed that stupid thing. Burn it with fire and let's move on.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Cantrip, so endlessly spammable by various classes. It's basically a magic walkie-talkie with a range of 100' + 10' level. It's blocked by the usual stuff (lead, stone) but can go around corners and through small openings. The tactical advantages are pretty huge -- coordinating attacks, most obviously, but also getting information back from your stealthy scout who's100' further up the corridor, feeding information from around a corner to a party member who's running a Bluff... you name it. My players have come to say "Message is up" or "I have Message on" pretty much as a matter of reflex before every encounter, which is always a good indicator that something is overpowered.

I'm finding this annoying in two ways. One, it's just way overpowered for a cantrip. Cantrips shouldn't affect gameplay in this way, and they shouldn't regularly give players significant tactical advantages. If it were a first level spell, I could see it. Or if the range were short (25' + 5'/2 levels), perhaps. But in its current form, it's much too good for a zero level spell.

Two, it's flattening the game tactically by making the battlespace completely transparent -- what one PC knows, they all know. There's no more "Bob sees the monster, but the rest of you don't", or "Alice has fallen down the pit and is facing the zombies at the bottom; Alice, do you try to fight the zombies alone, try to climb out of the pit, or yell for help and risk alerting the lizardman guards?" Those are classic situations that have been rendered obsolete by the introduction of Message. The result is a slight but noticeable increase in the level of abstraction in combat and play.

Am I the only one who feels this way? What do the rest of you think? Are your PCs all throwing Message as well?

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

There's a little doll carved out of wood with a gourd for a head. If an NPC is accompanying the PCs, the NPC has the doll. If not, someone gives it to a PC as a gift. The doll has a minor variant of a Magic Mouth spell cast on it: it recites a handful of preset phrases. The spell will wear off after a day, at which point the doll becomes an ordinary doll. Meanwhile, the doll pipes up once every minute or so, reciting random phrases in a squeaky, perky little voice:

"Kenabres, widely known as the jewel of western Mendev, was founded in 3382!"

"Today's weather forecast is sunny and warm, with light breezes from the northwest. It's a beautiful day for a festival!"

"The wardstones protect our country against the terrors of the Worldwound!"

"The Sisters of Holiness welcome your contributions!" (The dolls are free handouts for the pilgrim trade, but their creation is funded in part by paid ads...)

"It's a beautiful day for a festival!"

"Help keep Kenabres clean!"

You can use this to slip in some background facts. Try to strike a balance between the doll being annoying (it should occasionally repeat itself) and it being amusing / interesting. It doesn't do anything else but recite its facts at semi-random intervals every minute or so. Interrupt your narrative from time to time to suddenly remind the PCs that it's a beautiful day for a festival!

And then, right after the explosion... the doll /screams/. A horrible, high-pitched inhuman "eeeeeeeeeee". And then -- in a horrible dead voice -- it starts to recite "Wardstone failure. Wardstone failure. Wardstone failure." In the middle of everything else, with the dragon fighting the fiend and all, mention that the doll's gourd head is starting to rotate slowly, around and around, and whitish fluid is pouring out of its little carved eyes and mouth. If that doesn't freak the PCs enough to hurl it away, have twisted, gnarled roots start sprouting from its little wooden body and trying to grow their way into the PC's hand. (Not a real threat -- you're trying to alarm and disgust the PCs, not seriously hurt them.)

And later, once they're down at the bottom, you can mention that there's a faint whispering little voice, slowly running down and fading out: "Wardstone... failure... ward... stone..." If they search, they can find the hideously deformed remains of the doll crushed under a bit of fallen stone.

Doug M.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Please do not ask your DM about the hideous crimes of Count Gaspard, or why the gnome Woddam is being sought with fire and sword up and down the length of the kingdom. Yes, I know, and yes, you'll find out more if these things ever become relevant. But at some point we have to move away from ever more detailed descriptions of the setting and start actually advancing the plot. Even I have my limits. So, please, just nod and sip some brandy and move on.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Don't be greedy. nat 20s are nice, but they don't mean you get answers to everything.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Well, Enver's staff -- sorry, Raisa's staff -- is a pretty powerful item. And I'm willing to award good RPing, which this certainly is. Still thinking about how to play this.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Farholde's base value is 4,400 gp. For magic items with a retail price under that amount, the base chance for finding the item available is 75%. If it's an arcane item with a retail price over half that amount (2,200) the likelihood drops to 50%. For the next month, the availability of all items with potential military use is reduced by 20% because of the military making purchases before going off to the new war. Low rolls good:

for Dren

Rod of Extend, lesser 1d100 ⇒ 82 Nope. Wizard stuff. Not much call for that here.
Inviso Purge 375gp 1d100 ⇒ 6 Yep, in stock.
Lesser Restoration 150gp 1d100 ⇒ 49 Yes.

for the Judge

Amulet of Mighty Fists 1d100 ⇒ 66 No. They had one in stock for years, then some damn officer snapped it up last week. What, he's going to punch the bugbears to death?
Cloak of Protection +1 1d100 ⇒ 77 Oh, those sold out. They're good against evil magic and dragons, you know. Do the bugbears have dragons with them? Well, you never know.
Handy Haversack 1d100 ⇒ 9 Oh certainly! We have one right here.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

So, there's another sale. By itself no big thing -- Paizo has one every few months. But this time, a bunch of 3PPs have joined in. That's less common. It leads to the reasonable question: what here is a real jewel that shouldn't be missed? And what is there that is intriguing, but you'd like to know more? Here, I'll start:

Shouldn't be missed (Paizo): The Hangman's Noose, by Nicholas Logue. One of Nicholas Logue's best works, and also one of his most underappreciated. A horror-mystery for first level characters (!). 3.5 but converts easily. You can buy the hard copy for an astonishing $2 -- I'd guess Paizo wants to free up some warehouse space, and is trying to move the 3.5 stuff. Very strongly recommended.

Shouldn't be missed (3PP): Panataxia was a steal at $4 and is even more so at $3. It's a terrific planar adventure... for 2nd level characters. And it works really, really well. The encounters are either level-appropriate, or they provide various ways for intelligent players to deal with them. And it's engaging and interesting, and written with a real sense of fun. I'd also recommend Tales of the Old Margreve, which is a collection of short adventures of varying level along with various other stuff, including a really interesting forest that's part setting, part NPC. TotOM is set in Kobold Press' Midgard world, but adapts easily to pretty much any campaign.

I am curious: Razor Coast (Heart of the Razor) -- I'd like to check out Razor Coast, and three adventures for $14 seems like an okay deal. But do you need the main Razor Coast books to play these? And are they as good as you'd guess from the author's list? Also curious about the Fantasy Shards and Bits. It seems like a potentially nifty idea, but even with the discount some of these seem a little pricey. Are you really getting $7 worth of cool here?

Okay, over to you. What do you strongly recommend, and what would you like to know more about?

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

1) What level are your PCs? Because a group of well built PCs of 14th level or higher will quickly locate this guy and take him down. No offense, but he has no ranged attacks and very mediocre Will and Fort saves. So once they find him (and with medium-level divination spells and skills, this shouldn't be a challenge), they stand off and zap him with ranged attacks and save-or-suck spells.

2) What's your intended role for this guy? BBEG at the end of a dungeon crawl? Secret mastermind behind an evil organization? Or just a Jack the Ripper type killer that the PCs must track down and defeat? -- If the latter, think long and hard first. You're setting up a detective/investigative/mystery type scenario, and those are much harder than they seem.

Doug M.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

As to stuff staying on this list, some of it is on there because nobody's buying it, and some is because they've gotten their hands on additional copies -- most likely by clawing them back from distributors, as Liz mentions above, but possibly by other means as well. They're not really under any obligation to tell us the gritty details of how they do business.

I don't pay much attention to these sales, myself -- at this point I've been hanging around Paizo for several years, and have bought most of what I'm likely to pick up from their back catalog. But they pretty clearly serve a useful function... you can see what's going away, whether quickly or slowly, and decide if you want to to snap it up. It seems odd to fault Paizo for doing this.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

There's a certain amount of free-floating entitlement out there. "It's your job to keep all your APs in print forever for my convenience!"

I have some issues with Paizo and their business model. But one of the things I really like about them is that they seem to be competent business people. Historically, that's been all too rare in the gaming industry.

As long as they stay in business, they can keep producing new stuff for our amusement and distraction. The current model of letting old APs gradually lapse out of print may not be perfect, but there are pretty clear and strong business-driven arguments for it, and it seems to have been working for them for (checks calendar) six, going on seven years now.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The refugee column winds west and south beneath iron-grey skies.
There are perhaps three hundred people. Some have carts, some are on foot. Progress is slow. The rain has churned the road to mud. A cold wind blows from the north. Many of the refugees are not clothed for this weather. Others are wounded, traumatized. Soon, if they don’t find shelter, people will begin to die.

Miles to the north, a column of smoke is barely visible in the distance, a black column gradually merging with the grey of the clouds. To be on the road, cold and wet and muddy, without proper food or water, is terrible; but what is behind is far worse. Somewhere near the back of the column a child is crying, endlessly.

The refugees have no leader, but a priest of Mitra has been trying to organize things a little, distribute food, find clothes and blankets for the weakest and frailest. He trudges up and down the column, drenched and cold, mud up to his waist. He has only a few minor healing magics, and they have long since been used. He is very, very tired.

And then a voice speaks from the empty air. ”Father, I am told the Bright Lord counsels against despair. Behind these clouds, the sun still shines.”

The priest looks around in amazement. ”Who -- ? Ah!”

Nimpy Cleadhoe coalesces from thin air. He is hovering a couple of feet above the ground, so that his face is level with the cleric’s. In other times, the priest would be shocked and a little appalled at this display of magic – strange, perhaps diabolical! – but now he just feels a vague wonder.

”I scouted ahead, sir, as we discussed. Two miles up, there is a crossroads. Half a mile to the left is the manor house of Sir Monteith. He rode away to the war this morning, but I spoke with his lady and his seneschal are making ready. They can accommodate forty people.” The halfling nods at the column. ”Pick the sickest, worst injured, and most frail. Send them there. The others will have to continue on towards Elf Way. If they persevere, and the rain does not worsen, you can be in West Wapentak by nightfall. They should be able to take you all in, there. I will go ahead and tell them to make ready.”

A faint spark of hope flickers to life in the priest’s soul. A long day’s trudge in the rain… but food and shelter at the end of it. And the sick and injured taken care of, that terrible responsibility lifted. ”Halfling… thank you. Surely Mitra must have sent you to our aid!”

”What less could I do? We must all help each other, Father. Especially in these times.” Nimpy is not an adherent of the Mitran faith. But he is a deeply moral person, and since his escape from Captain Odenkirk his natural optimism and ebullience have slowly been returning. ”There are still hard times ahead. But if we hold together, we will bring each other through.” Nimpy rises a little higher into the air. ”And now, good Father, I must go.”

”Will we see you again, my son?”

”Who knows, Father? But not soon. I have a… duty, to attend to.” The halfling begins to fade from view again. (There would no real reason for this. The refugees are not paying attention, and they are crossing open countryside. There seems to be no one else around. But Nimpy has become very punctilious about using invisibility when coming or going. Nimpy has become very punctilious about a number of things, lately.) ”May your bright god bless and keep you, Father. Farewell.”

”Bless you, my son! Bless you!” But the halfling is gone.

Nimpy Cleadhoe, who has been an explorer and a singer, an adventurer and a teller of tales and a tormented captive of evil, flies west, unseen on the cold morning wind. He will stop briefly at the town and tell them to prepare. This band of refugees is just the first; many more will be coming. War has come to the North, and it will not be ended soon.

He will stop at the town… and then he will continue, south and west and south again. Nimpy knows much, has seen much. He was there at Balentyne, too late to help but not too late to watch. He knows that this invasion is no random eruption, but part of a long-conceived plan. And he knows much of that plan, now, and much of those who are carrying it out. Nimpy's eyes narrow against the cold wind. He had tried to convince them. Did he try hard enough? If he had been just a bit more determined, a bit more eloquent, could he have convinced Lord Havelyn and the others? Is this horror, to some extent, his fault? He shakes his head. There is no point in recriminations. But next time... To the south, in the capital, there are people who will be able to make use of his knowledge. This time, he will make sure they listen.

Nimply Cleadhoe flies onward to the west. And as he does so, far in the east behind him, the clouds part for a moment. The rising sun sends a long ray of golden light across the miles. It makes a path for him, bright and shining.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Vamptastic wrote:

Alan Moore never jumped the shark.

[shrug] chaque a son gout. I thought LOEG: Century was a monument to self-indulgence -- "YOUR childhood media figure sucks, while MY childhood media figure is awesome!" -- and as for Neonomicon, least said better. But lots of people disagree, and anyway this is not the venue.

Quote:

Alan Moore is a CN role model.

"Brilliant, eccentric, extravagantly bearded wizard who prefers isolation and who, while not malevolent, has a truly legendary ability to hold grudges". Yeah, that could work. More of an NPC than a player character, but could work.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
MattR1986 wrote:
Players coming in disguised as CN so they can suddenly and unexpectedly go on murder sprees and play Pathfinder the Masquerade is not just detouring from railroading, it's dickish behavior.

^ Once again, this. It may not be *deliberately* dickish; the player may be just goofing around. (Although IME a surprising number of players will do this sort of thing to test boundaries -- what exactly will this DM let me get away with?) But in any event, the outcome is almost always bad: a trashed, plotless campaign with PCs on the run from the law.

Quote:

A lot of (not all) people never seem to think about the DM and what he wants for HIS game. It's all about "me" and how I can be entertained regardless of whether you pooched months of preparation and a whole campaign without asking the DM first if he's ok with this type of behavior in his game.

I wouldn't go overboard on that point. My position is that the DM is a "player" in the sense that s/he's one of the people sitting at the table. S/he doesn't deserve any less consideration than the other people at the table, or any more. I mean, as DM, sometimes things aren't going to go my way. Sometimes my feelings may even be bruised. Them's the breaks.

But it's my experience that the "Daaaah I kill the princess!" CN player ends up making things less fun for *everyone*. When I was a young and new DM, very long ago, I went through a period when I prided myself on sandbox worlds where the players could go anywhere and do anything. That was fun and great in some ways, but it also allowed a couple of my campaigns to be taken over -- and ruined -- by these sorts of players. I thought, well, I'll let the players do what they want... that's the fun of this game, right? You can do whatever you want?

Well, yes. But also, no.

Doug M


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Tossing alignment is sometimes an option. I've done it. It can work.

But (1) it's a minor PITA because alignment is hardwired into the game; spells and items and whatnot work differently depending on alignment, so you'll have to either go through and change stuff or do a lot of adjudicating on the fly; and (2) a surprising lot of players *like* alignment. Not all, but many. Either they like it because it's part of the game they love, like having levels and hit points and Vancian magic, or because, or they like it because it gives them a framework that makes playing their character easier and/or more interesting. Those are really common things IME.

Doug M.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

This is a short guide to casting the Planar Binding spell. It's a spinoff from my "Guide to the Diabolist"; after the first couple of thousand words, I realized that this deserved a guide of its own.

Comments very welcome!

Doug M.

* * * * *

Why write a guide to the three Planar Binding spells.? Three reasons. First, these spells are powerful. As in, potentially game-changing powerful. There's no limit to the number of creatures you can call with them, so you can potentially have a dozen or more outsiders hanging around at any given time, acting as scouts, bodyguards, and general muscle. Second, these spells are iconic. The wizard calling a powerful, dangerous creature from Beyond into a magical circle and trying to compel it to service... that's an image that's hundreds of years old, and the concept has been part of D&D from the very beginning. And third, these spells are vaguely written. That's not really Paizo's fault -- they're legacies from earlier editions. But there are a lot of fuzzy areas and things that are simply not explained. In this Guide, I'll point out some of the vague bits and do my best to come up with reasonable interpretations. Hopefully people will find this useful, or at least amusing.

Let's start with three general rules for Planar Binding spells:

1) Never Cast Alone. If something goes wrong, it's just you and an angry outsider. Always have backup -- another PC, a cohort, your apprentice.

2) Be Prepared. Sooner or later, one of your called devils will break loose. You need a Plan B, and likely a Plan C as well (see below). The details will vary; it can be a raging barbarian cohort with a two-handed weapon, an apprentice with a scroll of Dismissal, or a Contingency spell that teleports you to your backup lair. But be prepared. Do your homework. Know what powers the creature you're calling has. If it has mental attacks, make sure everyone in the room has Protection from Evil. If it breathes poison, have antitoxin on hand. And so forth.

3) Never Call Anything Over Your CR. Your CR is your level-1. So if you're 10th level, don't call anything over CR 9. There's always a cool creature right at your CR. Don't be tempted. Wait a level and call it then.

And now, on to the details.

Part 0 -- Who You Gonna Call?:

Before anything else, you want to pick which outsider you're going to target. If you've managed to get the true name of some outsider, great! That gives your target -5 on its Will save to resist binding, -5 on its Cha check to resist binding, and (at the DM's discretion) possibly other advantages as well. Otherwise, you ask for a general type ("a Barbed Devil", "a Zelekhut Inevitable", etc.) and you get a typical representative of that type. In game terms, a nice high Knowledge (Planes) is useful for determining the powers and weaknesses of whatever you're calling. In metagame terms, you the player should be familiar with the relative entries in the Bestiary.

Part 1 -- Drawing Your Diagram, and Other Preparation:

a) The Diagram. Unless you're summoning something really small and weak, you always start by casting Magic Circle and then drawing a trapping diagram. (See the Magic Circle spell description for details.) The diagram has four effects: it allows you to precast Dimensional Anchor on your calling circle, thus preventing the outsider from teleporting away; it gives the target -5 on a Cha check to escape (not on its opposed Cha check against you -- that's different); it prevents it from using its Spell Resistance to escape; and the creature cannot use any of its SLAs or other powers across the line of the diagram. All those things are very good. So always do this and do it right.

It's a DC 20 Spellcraft check to draw a trapping diagram, and the check is rolled in secret so you don't know if you've succeeded. So you want to either take 20 (which moves the time required from 10 minutes to 20x10 minutes, or three hours and 20 minutes) or make sure you have at least +19 on Spellcraft. This is not actually too hard -- with buffs, Aid Another, an assist from the party bard, and what have you, you should be able to swing it by 10th level or so.

b) The Room. Note that it's RAW that the tiniest disturbance will break the circle -- a leaf falling on it, a beetle scampering across it, anything. So if you're casting Planar Bindings regularly, you want to invest in a house or tower, ideally not in the middle of a city, that contains a nice clean room with soundproof stone walls, a lockable door and no windows. The room should be large enough to contain yourself, an assistant or two, plus the biggest creature you can call -- probably a Huge creature, so say at least 20' x 30'. You might additionally consider a set of sturdy bars with a lockable gate around the circle. This won't stop creatures that can teleport, but if things go wrong they'll have to burn a standard action just to get at you. Finally, if you're that sort of caster, you'll want an area for sacrifices and offerings -- see below.

If you're calling something "on the fly" -- say because you're halfway through a dungeon and you really need more firepower -- then at least get someplace quiet and have the rest of the party do their best to secure the area. Otherwise, having a rat scamper across your magic circle at exactly the wrong moment is just the kind of jerk move that some DMs will find irresistible.

c) Other preparation. Never Cast Alone! In a perfect world, you should have the rest of the party standing by for buffs and general support. Failing that, have a cohort or an apprentice or some acolytes close at hand. Make sure you have the right spells memorized, and have scrolls and other useful items ready and at hand. Don't forget to have defenses in place against whatever special abilities the creature may possess. Have Plans B and C (see below) prepped and ready.

An interesting question is, if you do a lot of calling and binding, can you use bound outsiders as backup when calling? (Well, to be precise, obviously you /can/. The question is whether you ever /should/.) On the plus side, if you've already called and bound four Ice Devils, having them standing around could be a good way to make sure that #5 doesn't cause trouble -- even if it breaks loose, it promptly gets dogpiled. On the other hand, this is exactly the sort of situation where cunning fiends could interpret your instructions in such a way as to get you in some serious hurt. I think it's asking for trouble, myself, but YMMV.

Part 2 -- The Call:

a) Calling a creature. This is pretty straightforward: you call the creature and it gets a straight-up Will save to resist. If it makes the save, your calling fails, the creature stays on its home plane and the Binding spell is wasted. Of course, there is nothing to prevent you from casting the spell again. So failing to call something, while disappointing, is usually no more than an inconvenience. An open question is whether you have to redraw your diagram if the creature makes its Will save and doesn't show up. The RAW is not clear on this point. I'd say no, but YMMV.

As noted above, if you have a creature's true name, it gets -5 on its Will save to resist being called. Normally Planar Binding brings you a random creature of the sort you asked, but the true name means you can keep calling the same one over and over again. And if you're that sort of caster, you can also punish it for its insolent resistance.

b) Slipping through the net. A called creature can immediately try to escape one of three ways: by teleporting away, by forcing you to make an SR check, or by winning a special Charisma check whose DC is DC 15 + 1/2 your caster level + your Charisma modifier. (This is NOT the opposed Charisma check for binding. That's different.) A correctly drawn calling diagram makes the first two of these impossible and the last one much more difficult (-5 on its check). However, if it does succeed, it's loose! Skip ahead to Part 4. The called creature gets to make another attempt to escape the circle every 24 hours, so hurry up and get it bound before it makes a successful one.

Part 3 -- The Binding:

In order to bind a creature to your will, you must win an opposed Cha check against it. That sounds simple enough, but of course there are wrinkles.

a) When and how does binding happen? The RAW does not make clear exactly, so I think a reasonable interpretation is that it happens immediately, on the round after the creature arrives. If you win, great -- the creature is bound to your service. If you fail, the creature is not bound, but it's still stuck inside the circle. You can make another check in 24 hours, and you can continue trying every day for days/your level. However, the creature also gets an escape check (see above) every day. So you want to get it bound ASAP. If you're high enough level, you can use the 8th level spell Moment of Prescience to add your level to this roll, which should make victory pretty much certain.

There's a really important caveat: if you fail your contested check with a natural 1, the creature immediately breaks free of the circle. There is no way around this -- no matter what you do, this spell has an irreducible 5% failure rate. Sooner or later, this is going to happen. When it does, skip ahead to Part 4.

[Sidebar: You might think that this Cha-based binding system unfairly favors sorcerors. Not so much, actually. Sorcerors who want to use Planar Binding face some serious problems. Their slow spell progression means they get everything at least one level later, and probably two. And their limited spells known means it's hard for them to invest in the many utility spells that a dedicated binder character really should have (Magic Circle, Dimensional Anchor, Forbiddance, Dismissal, etc. etc.). At the very highest levels, 15 and up, yes, sorcerors do excel. But up to that point, you're probably somewhat better off playing a wizard with a decent Cha.]

b) What modifiers apply? Depending on the circumstances, you can get a bonus on your Cha check ranging from +0 to +6. The RAW doesn't give details, except that certain creatures will accept offerings that give you a +2. These offerings range from trivial (for a lemure, some pornography) (yes, really) to "you must be kidding" (for a marilith, the severed hands of six generals who are still alive and commanding troops) (yes, really). Personally, I'd say that you either get the +2 or not depending on whether you do the offering, and then you can get another +1 to +4 depending on things like how well the task aligns with the creature's alignment, temperament, and goals; whether you offer any attractive bribes; whether you make convincing threats; and whether you have a reputation that precedes you. My take is that bonuses should not be easy to come by, especially for more powerful creatures, but discuss this with your DM.

b) Buffing yourself. It makes perfectly good sense to buff yourself! However, if we accept that the binding happens immediately after the calling spell is complete, that means you have no time to buff between completing the calling and making the binding check. This means you have two options. First, you can get someone else -- apprentice, cohort, other party member -- to buff you while you are casting the spell. (Make sure your DM is good with this first! Some DMs might rule that the casting of Planar Binding requires such absolute focus that having another caster throwing spells could break your concentration.) Second, before you start your Planar Binding, you can cast buffs that last more than ten minutes. Note that a number of useful buffs, including the attribute boosters like Eagle's Splendor and Owl's Wisdom, have a minutes/level duration. So they'll be available from 11th level and up, or earlier if you have access to Extend Spell. And, of course, you can always prebuff yourself for later checks on subsequent days, if it comes to that -- "You defied me once, creature, but now I will break you!"

If you don't accept the "immediate binding" interpretation, then you can spend an hour buffing before you enter into a contest of wills with your captive. Personally, I think this is kinda cheesy and I wouldn't allow it, or at least not on the first check. After all, one way is "The creature appears, and you're instantly locked in a deadly contest of wills for dominance!" The other is "Just wait a few minutes while I powder my nose..." YMMV, but I know which I'd prefer to play.

c) Debuffing your target. A much-discussed question is whether you can cast debuffs on the target creature in order to make it more amenable to your demands. If you accept the "binding happens/fails as soon as the creature appears" rule, you can't cast debuffs for that first check unless you have some sort of area debuff up and running ten minutes in advance. However, if you fail that first check, can you cast debuffs on the creature for the second check, 24 hours later? Well, there's no question that you can cast one spell -- Agonize, which is specifically designed for the purpose of convincing unruly outsiders to cooperate. Otherwise, though, can you cast Enervation? Dominate? A question to James Jacobs provided the following answer: "You can cast any spell you want at the outsider in the circle, but those that create physical effects that cross the circle would let the monster out. What entails 'breaking the circle' is left to the GM, but you could certainly argue that the beam of black energy from a ray like enervation counts, or even the faint mist produced by mind fog."

FWIW, here's my personal interpretation: spells that involve energy, that do damage, or that create any sort of physical area affect will break the circle. Spells that produce purely mental effects (like Dominate) or that produce effects on the target without a ray or any other connection to the target (like Baleful Polymorph) will not break the circle. If you're planning to go this route, try to get a ruling from your DM first.

d) Duration. The maximum duration is days/level. If you require a service that can be completed in less time, then the creature departs once the service is done. If it hasn't broken loose from your control, it automatically "bamfs" back to its home plane. If it has broken loose, it can hang around on the Material Plane for as long as it likes.

The Binding spell allows you to keep an outsider around for longer, but not in a way that's directly useful. That said, I would rule that having an outsider bound into a paperweight or something would constitute a plausible threat against outsiders of the same type, granting you +1 on your opposed Cha check -- "Do you want to end up like Smithers, here?"

e) The Creature's Attitude. The RAW is silent on this, but it's pretty clearly implied that most creatures will arrive Hostile. Makes sense, right? There it was, doing its evil business in the pits of Hell or enjoying its adoration of the ineffable wonderment of Heaven, and then suddenly -- YANK -- it's jammed into a nasty little circle in some mortal wizard's back room. You'd be ticked, too. Some unusual creatures may be merely Unfriendly or even Neutral, but it seems reasonable to assume that Hostile is the default.

Never forget that while the Binding forces the creature to serve, it doesn't mind-control it or change its attitude towards you. It'll probably come out of the circle hating you and wanting to kill you, and will continue in that vein unless something changes. You may be able to change its attitude using Diplomacy or other methods, but I'd say that would be difficult (+5 or more to the DC of the checks)... after all, you're basically enslaving the creature, and it's going to be hard to gloss that over. Also, note that even if you somehow improve its attitude all the way to Friendly, an intelligent outsider is still going to have its own agenda.

f) What can you demand? This is a critical question, and one that the RAW is maddeningly vague on. It says that you can ask for "one service", and also that "Impossible demands or unreasonable commands are never agreed to". If you assign some open-ended task that the creature cannot complete through its own actions, the spell remains in effect for a maximum of 1 day per caster level, and the creature gains an immediate chance to break free (presumably, a new opposed Cha check).

So, where does "Be my bodyguard for one week" fit in? What about "Obey my every command for one week"? Personally I would allow these, under a liberal definition of "service". Otherwise, Planar Binding gets nerfed down into a niche spell, useful only when there's a single, clearly limited task. I don't think that's the designers' intent -- and also, it's less cool and interesting. Rather, I would seek to balance this by having bound outsiders seek to creatively pervert your instructions whenever possible. This is more challenging for both DM and player, but also more interesting and fun. Make sure you know what your DM's view is on this point before you start building towards a Planar Binding specialist.

Part 4 -- When Things Go Wrong:

As noted, things WILL go wrong sometimes. That's just hardwired into the spell. You misdraw the circle, or the creature makes its initial special Cha check, or you roll a natural 1 on your opposed Cha check. Whatever else you do, you can't eliminate that 5% chance. So, the creature breaks out of the circle! Now what?

1) Stomp it. We'll call this Plan B. If you're a 10th level wizard with Bob, your 8th level barbarian cohort, standing by? and you're calling your sixth Bearded Devil this week? and you just happen to roll a 1 on your opposed Cha check...? Well, that's annoying, but you and Bob between you should have little difficulty taking this CR 5 creature down. If you have the appropriate mix of spells ready, there's really not much the devil can do but teleport away. (See "Dealing with it", below.) If you're a conservative sort, just don't ever call anything more powerful than your own CR minus three or so. That way you'll pretty much always be able to stomp it. The drawback is, you'll be summoning a lot of relatively weak creatures.

2) Run. Plan C. Either you summoned something a little stronger than you should, or the thing that you called got lucky -- shut down your cohort with a crit or a well-thrown SLA, and is now coming after you. You need an escape plan! Dimension Door is good (especially since it's grapple-proof) and so is Teleport -- most outsiders don't have Scry or some other means of tracking you. If you're high enough level, Contingency Teleport works too. Whatever your method, get out, run away, and regroup. Hard cheese on any apprentices or cohorts you might leave behind, but they knew the risks.

3) Dealing with it. Okay, now there's an outsider loose on the Prime Material Plane. Depending on the nature of the outsider, this could be anything from "nothing happens" through "there go local property values" to "everybody dies screaming". Some creatures will simply shrug and Plane Shift home. Some will trash and loot your quarters, hold a grudge against you for future reference, and then Plane Shift home. And some will stick around -- possibly nearby, possibly far away (but still on the same plane), and quite possibly plotting a bloody revenge against you, you insolent mortal caster you.

This is where Divination is your friend. You'll want to scry, scry, scry and use Commune and other strong divination spells to find the thing, or at least get an idea of what it's up to. If you're a good or neutral caster, you don't want a monster loose! If you're evil, you don't want a monster with a grudge against you loose! Your level of apprehension will of course depend on the power and nature of the creature... a Bearded Devil on the loose is no big deal, a Belier Devil on the loose is an "oh crap" moment even for a very powerful caster. (It's CR 16, can possess people, is superintelligent and really good at lying and hiding.) If the escaped creature is a real threat, you should be casting Forbiddance on your living quarters. But then, if you're casting Planar Bindings regularly, you should be doing that anyway.

Note that there's no reason you have to hunt this thing down alone. If you're lawful and on good terms with the local authorities, you might be able to ask the local clergy or the Wizards' Guild for help. Heck, even if you're Chaotic Evil, there's no reason you can't drop an anonymous note to the paladins that some sick freak has turned a vrock loose in the city. They may guess that it's the evil caster tipping them off, but paladins aren't generally optimized for investigation. Paladins, they get frustrated a lot.

Part 5 -- You and Your Bound Outsider:

a) What can you do? You can order your bound outsider around, within the limits of the service you've demanded from it. (Which may well be "Accept my orders". You can cast spells on it, good and bad (though see below). But you can't order it on suicide missions, and you can't demand it do things it cannot do -- "Impossible demands or unreasonable commands are never agreed to". A called creature is not a summoned monster; you can't send it down the corridor to set off traps, nor can you order it to heroically hold off the dragon for a couple of rounds while you make your escape. It gets to protect its own life and continued existence, above any orders you might give it.

In terms of fighting for you, I would say that you can order it into combat against creatures of a lower CR, or more generally into combats where it's not at serious risk, whether because it's fighting alongside you and your party or for some other reason. But the RAW implies that there is a point where combat becomes "unreasonable", whether because the creature is badly injured or just because it perceives that its life is at serious risk. At that point, self-preservation kicks in and the creature seeks to flee. It is still bound to service -- "never agreed to" does not mean "breaks loose". But it's not going back to that particular fight, or at least not until things change to its advantage.

Finally, you can't order the creature to take actions that are obviously inconsistent with its nature or its alignment. The planetar just isn't going to massacre a bunch of paladins for you, amusing though the notion may be. The service you require may be difficult, dangerous, and unpleasant, but it can't be something the creature would regard as morally abhorrent; that's "unreasonable" and it's not going to fly.

b) What can it do? The creature can still use all its SLAs skills, feats and abilities. And it will, for its own motivations and purposes, unless you specifically bind or instruct it not to. A succubus may use her Suggestion on your fellow party members. A shadow demon may possess an NPC. Devils will want to tempt people to wickedness; daemons will want to hurt and kill people. That's their nature. You'll need to keep them on a short leash.

And, of course, the creature may well resent being bound, and may connive at your downfall and destruction. Note that called creatures can use Bluff to lie to you, Sense Motive to figure out what you really want, and so forth. The brighter ones are perfectly capable of pretending to be fine with the situation while quietly plotting something truly horrible for you down the line.

One way to think of this is as something like a hierarchy of motivations. Remember Asimov's Laws of Robotics? Something like that:

I. A bound creature will act to preserve its own life and will act consistently with its alignment.
II. A bound creature will obey the terms of its binding, except where this directly conflicts with Rule I.
III. A bound creature will seek to carry out its own agenda, except where this directly conflicts with Rules I or II.

c) Enchantments and other tricks. An interesting question is whether you can cast spells on your bound outsider -- Dominate, say, or Geas/Quest -- to make it safer and less troublesome. I'd say you can, but you can't command the creature to fail its save and accept your spell. That would be pretty obviously "unreasonable". You could even argue that being Dominated could potentially endanger the creature's life and/or force it to act against its alignment, and thus an unsuccessful attempt to cast Dominate would break the binding right there. I think that's an extreme interpretation, myself, but discuss this with your DM in advance. Certainly any attempt to Dominate or otherwise enchant a creature is likely to ratchet its resentment factor way, way up.

d) Does anything break the binding? The RAW doesn't mention anything, so I'm inclined to be conservative on this point. That said, I would say that if you attempt to kill the creature (see below) then that might do it.

Part 6 -- Sly Tricks:

I think these are cheesy as hell, myself, but James Jacobs has said the first two are legal IHO. If you can think of others, please let me know.

a) The succubus trick. You call a succubus and get her to grant her Profane Gift. Then you zap her with Flesh to Stone. Since the RAW says that petrified creatures are treated as "unconscious", you keep the Gift. You stick the stone statue in a basement room, hang a sign saying "Accounting Records -- Sz through Ta" on the door, and walk away whistling with +2 to your prime stat. James Jacobs says this would be a chaotic evil act (I agree). I'd add that it would eventually attract notice from senior and powerful succubi. That said, if you can pull it off, it's RAW-legal.

b) The efreeti's Wish trick. You can call and bind an efreet pretty easily with Planar Binding and demand a Wish from it. This means that by casting a 6th level spell, you can get the benefit of a 9th level spell (and save the 25,000 gp component cost as well). Obviously if done repeatedly this will blow game balance right out the window, to plummet flaming to the rocks far below. That said, it's RAW-legal. The DM's only recourses are (1) to aggressively and creatively pervert any Wishes that are granted, and/or (2) to eventually cause greater powers among the efreeti to take notice and act against this insolent mortal.

c) The Reward of Service trick. Worried about your creatures conspiring against you once they get back to Hell or wherever? Well, why let them go back? On their last day of service, kill them.

Part 7 -- Aftereffects:

Planar Bindings are so potentially powerful that we can reasonably ask why the campaign world isn't full of arcanists commanding legions of bound outsiders. In-game, two explanations suggest themselves. One is that any caster who constantly binds outsiders will, sooner or later, make some irrevocable and lethal mistake. The other is that sooner or later these casters will bring themselves to the attention of powerful planar forces, ancient and mighty creatures that don't take kindly to uppity mortals snatching their servants or children away. Out of game, both of these ideas should be in the DM's toolkit for balancing against a PC who is getting carried away with Planar Binding.

As noted above, my recommendation to fellow DMs would be "be liberal in what you allow this spell to do, but be equally liberal in coming up with ways for it to go horribly wrong". To be fair, let the player know in advance that this is a dangerous spell that's famous for going spectacularly pear-shaped. Then going forward, when in doubt, apply the Rule of Cool.

As to the attention of powerful outsiders... absolutely yes! In fact, this is really the only recourse a DM has against some of the cheesier tricks that can be played with this spell. So, if you call lots and lots of outsiders, be aware that sooner or later Hell (or the Abyss, or Nirvana, 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 corrective actions -- whether direct (one fine morning just after breakfast, a Cornugon Plane Shifts into your living room with a roar and a blast of flame) or more subtle (three advanced Shadow Demons are dispatched to begin an elaborate conspiracy against you, working through NPCs and other party members). This sort of thing will IMO be likely to happen faster with Lawful creatures and/or if you're regularly forcing your targets to do stuff that ticks them off.

On the plus side, if you survive, word is going to get around. If you're very scary, very fair, or both, your reputation might grow to the point that you get an occasional bonus on opposed Cha checks just because everyone knows about you. I'd say that could only happen after you'd called a lot of creatures and survived at least one major attack or conspiracy, myself, but it's theoretically possible.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Okay, going down the list here:

-- Fighters tend to dump Int and Cha, making them less plausible as bosses
-- Fighters don't DO much except make melee attacks. This makes them both less plausible as bosses, and less interesting as BBEGs.
-- Fighters tend to have one or more glass jaws, such as low Will saves.
-- Fighters are built for deivering damage over long periods, not at the sort of explosion of one-use and dailies we want in a BBEG fight.

Gotta say, that's actually a pretty damning list. People don't generally use fighter BBEGs, and /there are good reasons for that/.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Zargo's apprentice, broke with him over creative differences?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Cуровую зиму wrote:
smiles widely in his sleep.

Not at all.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Okay, simple enough challenge: build Elsa from Frozen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0MK7qz13bU

Female human, let's go up to 15th level. The goal is to have the most awesome ice and snow related powers. NOT, repeat, NOT optimizing for combat or anything else -- though, sure, if she's a good build for combat or other purposes, that's gravy. If you want to add mythic tiers, you can, but with the caveat that the mythic stuff must serve the "awesome snow and ice powers" concept. In terms of what's awesome, stuff that is visually amazing and/or affects large areas or numbers of people is more important than stuff that does damage. (But real! Making her an illusionist is an interesting variant, but that's not what we're about.) Going thematic, very thematic, is strongly encouraged.

Thoughts?

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

COMING IN 2014 -- DMDM'S WAY OF THE WICKED PART 2: THE DARK TOWER


1 person marked this as a favorite.

All right, gang... since nobody else seems to have any questions at the moment:

DING

Everybody level up!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Dren of the Dark Tapestry wrote:
knowledge planes 1d20+9 oooh, so close....

It wouldn't help. Irin enchanted you to ignore anything Zimu says, remember? So, your most likely response to "Nalfeshnee!" would be "Gesundheit!"


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I like the idea that killing a Horseman does nothing. "Horseman" is a title -- kill one of these guys, and some sort of succession mechanism kicks in, and another daemon takes their place, becoming just as powerful. So you can defeat an individual Horseman, but all it gains you is a temporary disorganization in the ranks of the daemons.

(There's actually precedent for this, though you have to go back to 3.5 and the Savage Tide AP. At the end of it, the PCs square off against Demogorgon. If they defeat him and take over his plane of the Abyss, 30 days later one of the PCs grows a second head.)

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Apparently a version of Anthraxus is around in 4e, under the name Phraxas?

Anyway. I like the notion that the Four Horsemen are keeping something truly horrible chained up, and that a war to destroy them would unleash it. It's within the error bars of canon, and it also helps explain why nobody has marched to wipe them out -- if you "win", they throw the deadman switch and let Thingy out. Seems very appropriate for a bunch of NE creatures.

Also, I like "evil Switzerland".

Also-also, while PF didn't explicitly adopt the "endless Blood War in the lower planes" thing from 3e, it's reasonable to think that demons and devils don't get along, and that most of the powers on both sides would rather have a small nasty buffer state than share a border.

Also-also-also, there's no reason the Outer Planes have to be equally big and important. Abaddon could be a (relatively) tiny place, a thin strip of planar territory between Hell and the Abyss. Conquering it gains you the fun of killing the Horsemen, and some dreary territory that's more trouble to administer than it's worth, and... that's it. Why bother?

Also-also-also-also, while Abaddon has only four Horsemen, it might outnumber all other planes in terms of middleweight monsters with CRs between 15 and 25. We just don't know! Maybe the Horsemen wipe out everything over CR 25, but there are billions of advanced astradaemons or whatever. Abaddon's not militarily weak; it just has a very flat management structure. -- That actually works, if you think about it. Devils want to have lieutenants and viziers and minions. Demons aren't organized enough to cull their underlings consistently. But the Horsemen simply devour anything that's evolving into a potential threat. So over the eons, you get a backlog of creatures just below that cutoff point.

Also5, maybe Abaddon itself is long-term hostile to anything that's not a daemon. I mean, it's the plane of pure evil. So maybe even other fiends must eventually, over years or centuries, either become NE or suffer some sort of wasting degeneration. Maybe it works faster with weaker creatures -- so the reason Lamashtu withdrew was, more and more of her foot soldiers were either dying or turning into some sort of daemon.

Honestly, there are a LOT of possible explanations that fit within both RAW and splatbook narratives and descriptions.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

A few moments later, Raisa rejoins you. She looks even wilder and stranger than before. Another eye has broken out on her right cheek. Her hair is moving of its own volition now, slowly writhing and coiling.

"Wow, what a rush!" She laughs. It's an odd, gurgling laugh. "Takes it out of you, though! I'm... I'm really hungry!" She opens her mouth again and uncoils her tongue. It is two feet long, green, and covered with slowly pulsating suckers. It rises up langorously like a snake: she is tasting the air. She turns slowly, and then locks eyes on the Judge. "Hey... hey you Judge guy... I can smell your... your braaiiiiin..."


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Probably the final installment of this Guide. (This thing ended up being WAY longer than I thought when I started.) I'll turn it into a google doc next week sometime, as time allows.

Doug M.

* * * * *

Diabolist races

Let’s not overcomplicate this. You want a good casting stat and decent Cha. That eliminates anyone who takes a hit to Cha – sorry, dwarves and standard tieflings. For witch and wizard diabolists, the good core races in order are human (stat bump, feat, skills), elf (int bump, spell penetration), half-elf (stat bump, de facto feat, two favored classes), and half-orc (stat bump). For sorcerers, the list goes human, gnome, half-elf, half-orc, halfling. Minor but helpful alternate racial traits include eye for talent, dual talent, and focused study (human), sacred tattoo and skilled (half-orc), and academician, explorer, gift of tongues, and pyromaniac (gnome). If you’re an elf or gnome and have a feat to spare, consider Breadth of Knowledge – a fine feat for any character, but especially handy for making those Knowledge (Planes) checks.

Of the noncore races, the dhampir makes a respectable sorcerer or oracle and some of the variant tieflings have potential (grimspawn, beastbrood). Drow have good Cha, a bit of spell resistance and the pleasantly flavorful blasphemous covenant alternate racial trait. Several of the variant aasimars can make fine diabolists, particularly the idyllkin, angelkin, and the peri-blooded, and the aasimar alternate racial traits of celestial crusader and exalted resistance are potentially very useful to a diabolist.

Diabolist Class Abilities

Imp Companion -- Already discussed.

Infernal Charisma -– At 1st level, a diabolist gains a +2 bonus on all Charisma checks made when interacting with devils. This bonus increases to +4 at 4th level and to +6 at 7th level. This is just fantastically useful if you’re going to use the Planar Binding spells regularly. Are you a mopey little wizard with a 10 Cha? By 12th level you can be a Wiz 5/Diabolist 7 and devils will act like your Cha is 22. And that’s before buffs! This class ability makes devils listen to you and do what you say, and it’s a big part of why this class is so particularly great for wizards.

Channel Hellfire -- At 2nd level, a diabolist can alter spells that deal energy damage to instead deal hellfire damage. You can do this as a free action a number of times per day equal to her Charisma modifier (minimum 1). Hellfire is a special energy type that does half fire damage, half unholy damage. Unholy = no damage to evil creatures, normal to neutral creatures, and double damage to good-aligned creatures. So if you throw a six HD fireball at a paladin, but swap in Hellfire at the last moment (free action!), the champion of goodness takes 9 HD of damage. Obviously this is very situational – your target has to be Good, and you have to know it – but when it works, it’s awesome.

Infernal Bargain -- At 2nd level, a diabolist making use of planar ally (or a similar spell) can make an opposed Charisma check against a called (but not summoned) devil. If you succeed, the devil reduces the price it demands to serve by half. This is a sop to those poor divine casters who have to use Planar Ally instead of Planar Binding. It moves Planar Ally from being a not very good spell to being a mediocre-to-okay one. It only works against devils, so don't bother trying to play a diabolist cleric who's a LN worshipper of Abadar or something.

Augment Summoning -- At 3rd level, you gain the Augment Summoning feat even if you don’t meet the prerequisites. This is nice, but you’re usually going to be calling creatures, not summoning them. Still, this does encourage you to keep an occasional Summon Monster spell for when you suddenly need low-level mooks or creatures to test a corridor for traps.

Heresy -- Also at 3rd level, you gain a +2 bonus on all checks made to research specific devils' true names or sigils. This bonus increases to +4 at 9th level. If your campaign allows for this sort of thing (and it should), this is a nice little sweetener; you definitely want to pick up a true name or two. Only works on devils, alas.

Hellish Soul –- “At 5th level, a diabolist has been deemed useful enough to the cause of Hell to be allowed a brief respite from damnation. If killed by any means outside of the will of Asmodeus, the archdevils, or another influential force in Hell, the diabolist can be resurrected as normal.” Basically this undoes the mechanical issue with the “Damned” status you picked up back at level 1. Breathe easy.

Infernal Transport (Sp) –- At 6th level, you can transport yourself through Hell in a burst of brimstone. You may use this ability twice per day as per dimension door, or expend both uses to travel as if using teleport. You cannot use this ability to enter or leave areas warded against evil creatures. –- Yes, you get to “bamf” like Nightcrawler. By the time you get this (minimum level 11th) it’s not nearly as amazing as it would have been at lower levels, but it’s still a nice tactical ace in the hole. Note that while a spell-like ability does provoke AoOs, it doesn’t have verbal or somatic components, so you can use it to escape from grapples. It also lets you teleport along with your conjured creatures. And it’s a handy escape hole if things go terribly wrong. You summon something powerful, roll a 1 on your Charisma check, it breaks out of your magic circle, crits your barbarian cohort and comes after you with blood on its talons and death in its eyes? Bamf.

Hellfire Ray (Sp) -- At 8th level, a diabolist may use hellfire ray twice per day. Another ability that’s merely okay by the time you get it, but let’s not turn our noses up at the chance to do 22d6 of damage to a good-aligned enemy with a ranged touch attack.

Master Conjurer -– “At 10th level, when a diabolist calls a devil whose name she knows, she may cast the calling spell as a standard action and bargain with it as a move action. She adds half her Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate modifier on the bargaining Charisma check (if any).” This implies that you’re skipping the whole magic circle and dimensional anchor thing and cutting straight to business. You call, make a Cha check, and either win or lose. If you lose, well, you might have a small problem on your hands, especially if you were casting Greater Planar Binding. OTOH, if you win… well, at 15th level a Summon Monster VIII will summon monsters that are CR 10 or 11. With this, you can use a Greater Planar spell – same level, same casting time – to call a CR 16 cornugon.

Obviously this is extremely situational: you must know the devil’s name, you must have the spell ready or on a scroll, and you have to be in a situation where you need the devil right now instead of 20 minutes from now. But if it ever all came together, it could be quite something.

Planar Ally versus Planar Binding

There are two sorts of spells used to call outsiders: Planar Ally (a divine spell, used by clerics and oracles) and Planar Binding (an arcane spell, used by sorcerers, summoners, wizards, and witches). How do these two spells compare?

Planar Binding is a Much Better Spell than Planar Ally.

With Planar Ally, you get an outsider who has been sent by your god. The outsider arrives friendly or helpful, is willing to work with you, and is not going to seek revenge unless you do something grossly stupid or offensive. That’s the good news. Now come the problems. Problem #1: you don’t get the outsider you call for! You get whatever outsider the god sends you. Problem #2: you can ONLY ever get an outsider of your god’s alignment (or, if you don’t have a god, your own alignment).

Those are bad enough. But then we have the kicker: “The creature called requires a payment for its services… this payment must be made before the creature agrees to perform any services.” How much? “A task taking up to 1 minute per caster level requires a payment of 100 gp per HD of the creature called. For a task taking up to 1 hour per caster level, the creature requires a payment of 500 gp per HD. A long-term task, one requiring up to 1 day per caster level, requires a payment of 1,000 gp per HD.”

Let that sink in: if you want the outsider to accompany you into the dungeon today, it’s 500 gp/HD. Or more, “if the task is especially hazardous”. And it's RAW that you have to have the cash on hand; the gods don't take credit, apparently.

To be fair, there is a discount clause: “if the task is strongly aligned with the creature's ethos, it may halve or even waive the payment.” But “strongly aligned with the creature’s ethos” is a pretty stringent requirement, one that clearly goes well beyond “be my bodyguard” or “help me kill the monsters and take their stuff”. It’s not entirely clear what “ethos” means here, but I’d say it means you have to match some combination of the creature’s alignment, its personality, and the goals of your deity.

By way of comparison, Planar Binding lets you reach across the multiverse to summon any non-native outsider you think you can handle. You can get the outsider YOU want, alignment not an issue. You don’t have to settle for whatever chump servant your deity happens to have hanging around. And once you call it and bind it, its services are completely, thank you very much, free of charge.

The system tries to balance this by having creatures called with Planar Binding arrive cranky; by making you jump through a mini-game involving magic circles and opposed charisma checks; and by opening up the possibility that these guys may seek revenge on you later. It’s not enough. With a bit of planning and forethought, and some of the tips in this Guide, you can make Planar Binding safe and reliable up to 95% of the time. You can turn Planar Binding into a multi-utility spell with very broad application, to the point where you’re building your character around it. (In fact, this Guide is in large part about doing just that.) That's just never going to be the case with Planar Ally.

To be fair, at higher levels the balance tips back -- a little. Creature power increases exponentially with HD, so 16,000 gp for a 16 HD creature is a much better deal than 4,000 gp for a 4 HD creature. And then of course, when you’re 16th level, 8,000 gp/day is much easier to find. But even at high levels, the greater flexibility of Planar Binding still gives it the edge. Even putting the money issue aside, it’s better to be able to summon any outsider of your choice (though hostile) then to have access to only outsiders of a particular alignment and not of your choice (though friendly).

Finally, let’s note that there are two workarounds to paying the piper. Infernal Bargain (see above) lets you cut the cost in half with an opposed Cha check; “follow me around the dungeon today” drops to 250 gp/HD, which probably starts being an okay deal around CR 12 or so. And the Agonize spell (3rd level) lets you cut the price by an additional 20% to 60%. Of course, that’s at the cost of annoying the creature and making it your enemy, thus neutralizing Planar Ally’s biggest advantage. Honestly, there’s really no way to make this spell shine.

* * * * *

Okay, there it is. Questions and comments welcome!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

It's an interesting question! Personally, I don't think a CG caster would go in for planar binding much. It's mechanically permissible, but seems a harsh thematic mismatch. But... would a CG caster be cool with using Charm on someone? Okay, how about Dominate? Does the alignment of the target make a difference? CG bards are constantly throwing Suggestions around; how does that fit in?

I definitely think it's not a problem for a Lawful Evil character. You're recruiting this creature for YOUR needs, and giving it clear orders. If it didn't want to be snatched off to another plane, it should have invested in Iron Will. Yes, you may be causing some minor and temporary inconvenience in some tiny corner of Hell, but it's far more important that YOU get the protection and service that YOU need. After all, one day you're going to be epic, mythic, and spreading the unholy red light of Asmodeus all across this pathetic excuse for a kingdom. So clearly your safety and prosperity are FAR more important than anything that fiend might have been doing.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Cуровую зиму wrote:


I am actually taking them to Sapphire which is a high end 'gentleman's club' tonight, NOT my idea, I hope to find a (clean and quiet) corner to sleep in.

Oddly enough, I had to do something like this, many years ago.

Back in the 1990s, I was legal counsel to the governor of a small Pacific island commonwealth. (I was much too young and underqualified for this job, and fell into it entirely by accident.) Part of the job description included dealing with investors. Since most investors were Japanese, this involved squiring them around the local bars and strip clubs, because you can't do business with the Japanese until you've all gotten drunk together.

This was the sort of thing that was "Gosh, Wow!" the first time, "Gosh" the second time, and Tylenol thereafter. -- Have I mentioned that I've always been a very light drinker? Yeah, trying to keep up with the sararimen was no fun at all. But after six months I was well enough known at Club Scorpio that they knew to slip me "drinkies", i.e. the fake drinks that the girls themselves were drinking.

Complete tangent: one of the girls was an absolutely murderous Scrabble player -- they were all Filipinas, and Scrabble is really popular in the Philippines -- and she got most of the others hooked, and the bouncer too. So when things were slow, there was usually a Scrabble game running behind the bar or in the back room. One night when my GF was out of town and I was bored, I found myself driving down to Club Scorpio and going inside in order to... drink soda water and play Scrabble. Yeah, it was an odd time in my life.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The chest contains two books. One is obviously a spellbook; it's large, heavy, and bound in the crimson, scaled leather of some indeterminate beast. "The Heart Of All Flame" is written proudly in gold inset letters on the front.

The other book is much smaller; it's a very old, battered thing that with a stained and torn cover, made of aging brown parchment that is clearly on the verge of disintegration. At a casual glance it appears to be written in an unknown alphabet or cipher.

There are also two pouches of diamond dust -- 500 gp value, or enough for two castings of Stoneskin -- and another small leather pouch that jingles encouragingly. Upon examination it contains 150 newly minted gold pieces... Magister Tacitus' last three month's salary, which he has ignored.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Yet another installment of the guide.

Doug M.

* * * * *

If you're a wizard, what schools are good, and what spells should you take?

Abjuration -- This is a weak school for most purposes, but for a Diabolist it's actually okay. You're going to be taking a lot of abjuration spells anyway. And if you take the banishment subschool, at 8th level you get the Aura of Banishment, which from your POV is a highly desirable safety buff. (Of course, this means you have to be a wizard for eight levels before starting on Diabolist.)

Conjurer -- Obvious, right? The Infernal Binder subschool, while not as great as you might hope, is pretty good for you... +3 to Knowledge (Planes), the chance to grab other peoples' summoned monsters, and an imp familiar. (Once you get the imp companion you end up with an imp on each shoulder. One serves you, the other serves Hell.) The teleportation subschool is also fine, though limited by the fact that it uses wizard levels, so your dimension door power will probably never get beyond 15'.

Divination -- This is almost worth taking just for the Prescience power of the Foresight subschool. You get to double-roll every Cha check, and things like rolls to overcome SR as well. This is huge. Throw in the ability to act in a surprise round and a nice little Init bonus, and this school is surprisingly strong for you. Of course, now you have to be a Diviner and take a bunch of Divination spells. Nothing's perfect.

Enchantment -- Not a strong school for a class that's blasting a lot and dealing with creatures with SR and high Will saves. Still, unlike most wizards you actually use Bluff and Diplomacy.

Evocation -- A fine school for you. The Admixture subschool is great for a blaster, and you'll end up with five types instead of four.

Illusion -- Thematic, but not a good choice mechanically. None of the school or subschool powers will help you do what you do best.

Necromancy -- See Illusion.

Transmutation -- +2 to Con or Dex by the time you become a Diabolist is pretty sweet. Then you take the Enhancement subschool and use Augment to buff your minions. If you take 8 levels of wizard, then the Perfection of Self power -- +4 to any stat for one round -- has all kinds of uses; check if your DM will allow it to affect opposed Cha checks.

Spells -- This is a partial list of spells that are likely to be of interest to you.

Level 1

Protection from Evil/whatever -- Kind of a no-brainer.

Level 2

Eagle's Splendor -- Once you're 11th level (or 6th with Extend Spell) you can cast this before your calling and get the benefit of it on Cha checks.
Fox's Cunning -- As Eagle's Splendor if you're an Int-based caster.
Misdirection -- If you're living someplace where having an evil aura is an issue.
Owl's Wisdom -- As Eagle's Splendor if you're a Wis-based caster.
See Invisibility -- Many devils can go invisible at will. Once you have the money, pay the 5,000 gp to have Permanency cast so you have this at all times.

Level 3

Agonize -- A spell to punish outsiders that... allows SR and a Fort save, which is most outsiders' best save. Still, worth a try, especially as it's the only spell that specifically addresses this need for you.
Haste -- I hate this spell; it's way overpowered for third level, which is why everyone uses it. Nonetheless, if you're leading a bunch of called creatures into battle, it's a very useful tactical mass buff.
Magic Circle Against Evil/whatever -- You must have this spell.
Protection from Energy -- Get it if you're regularly conjuring elementals or other creatures that use a particular energy attack.

Level 4

Enervation -- A fine spell for dealing with difficult outsiders. You did take Spell Penetration, right?
Dimensional Anchor -- You must have this spell.
Lesser Planar Binding -- You must have this spell.
Scrying -- If you're sending your conjured creatures out on missions, you'll want to be able to keep track of them. Make sure you get a toenail clipping or something.

Level 5

Planar Adaptation -- If you're planning to visit Hell at some point.
Planar Binding -- You must have this spell.
Dismissal -- This should be a great spell, but is merely an okay one, because it is affected by SR and also grants a Will save. That said, if something gets loose, this is a spell to have ready.

Level 6
Antimagic Field -- Works on summoned creatures but not conjured ones.
Geas-Quest -- SR but *no* saving throw. Use this to make sure your creatures are staying in line, especially the high Will-save ones.
Contingency -- At 15th level, this can be used to auto-teleport you away from danger. At lower levels, it can be used to auto-activate a range of buffs and other helpful effects.
Legend Lore -- You can use this to get information on named individual outsiders.

Level 7

Banishment -- More powerful version of Dismissal.
Greater Planar Binding -- You must have this spell.
Teleport Trap -- If you've made some enemies among outsiders (and by this point in your career, you probably have) cast this on your living quarters every couple of weeks. Be creative about what's waiting at the destination, but a permanent Alarm spell and some symbols or other outsider-affecting magical traps are probably good.
Trap the Soul -- Not actually that great unless you know the creature's name, or have lots and lots of money to burn on gems that shatter when the spell fails.

Level 8

Binding -- A powerful bargaining tool. I'd rule that the demonstrated ability to bind outsiders of a particular type would give you a bonus on your Cha checks against outsiders of that same type -- "Do you want to end up like Bob here?" Check whether your DM agrees.
Dimensional Lock -- If you're high enough level, and don't care about whatever attention the "shimmering emerald barrier" attracts, cast this periodically to ward your quarters against unwanted visitors from other planes.
Euphoric Tranquility -- No Will save! Does get SR, unfortunately.
Moment of Prescience -- Win that Cha check!
Polar Ray -- Swap in hellfire to make this a very flexible ranged touch attack.
Sympathy -- If you cast this on your conjuring area, it can make the called creature happy to be there; I'd rule that this would move its attitude a step or two to the better. Unfortunately the creature gets a Will save and SR too.

Level 9

Gate


6 people marked this as a favorite.

This is a yet another installment in my guide to the Diabolist. Here are the earlier parts:

Building a Diabolist
Tips on playing a Diabolist
Lesser Planar Binding
Planar Binding

And now, on to the darkest and most dangerous of conjurations -- the Greater Planar Binding.

Doug M.

* * * * *

This list is shorter, because I'm concentrating mostly on devils. 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.

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. 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. Otherwise they're a decent melee creature, basically the next step up from a Nessian Hell Hound.

Glabrezu* [CR 13, Will +11, SR 24, Cha 20] -- While the glabrezu is a fine melee combatant with a bunch of useful SLAs, you're probably conjuring this fellow for one reason: to get that Wish. Under the RAW, you ought to be able to compel the demon to use its Wish, just as you can compel any other summoned creature to use an SLA. This is obviously potentially game-breaking; you'd be getting the benefit of a 9th level spell by casting a 7th level spell, and avoiding the 25,000 gp material component to boot. Furthermore, you could call a new glabrezu every day, piling Wish on Wish. Under these circumstances, the DM is entirely justified in giving your Wishes nasty, unforeseen side effects. So, if you wish for +1 Intelligence, the demon snaps its fingers -- and your brain expands dramatically, causing your face and cranium to become grotesquely deformed, costing you -4 Cha. You get the idea. After all, it says right in the text that the demon is "nothing if not creative in addressing a mortal's desires." Seriously, this is just asking for the DM to mess with you.

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 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. 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 Infernal Charisma makes the cornugon a much easier creature to 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 piss 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.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Another installment on the Guide, this time about how not to make the other players hate you.

Doug M.

* * * * *

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're going to 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 great, 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 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 Dingo -- 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 miniatures. 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 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. Dingo 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.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Continuing the discussion of the Planar Binding spells. This is designed for a diabolist character (most of this will end up in my Guide to the Diabolist), but should be of interest to anyone who uses Planar Binding regularly. Part 1 (on Lesser Planar Binding) can be found here.

Planar Binding

This is where the "Don't Summon Anything with CR Equal To or Over Your Level" rule really kicks in. A wizard or witch can start casting this at 11th level, but the most powerful monsters on this list should be avoided for another level or two. There's no equivalent to the Bearded Devil on this list -- that is, there's not a single creature that's obviously your go-to across several levels, though the ceustodaeomon comes close. Instead, there are a bunch of specialized tools. Planar Binding is a spell that rewards doing your homework.

Note that you can use this spell to call creatures totalling up to 12 HD, so if you need a bunch of low level mooks you can conjure up two barbazus, half a dozen imps, etc.

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

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

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

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

Huge Fire Elemental* [CR 7, SR 0, Will +5, Cha 11] -- "Burn everything. Leave no witnesses." Foul-tempered and not too bright, call this guy up when you just want to burn it all down.

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

Shadow Demon* [CR 7, SR 17, Will +7, Cha 19] -- You call up a shadow demon when you want to have something possessed by a demon. It's a challenging summons for a creature of its CR (remember, you don't get Infernal Charisma against it), but you can get +2 by offering it "the shell of a beautiful person to wear". Demons are chaotic and shadow demons are pretty much creatures of pure jealous malice, so don't count on exercising fine-tuned or lasting control.

Succubus* [CR 7, SR 18, Will +10, Cha 27] -- No no no. Bad idea. Look at that Will save. Now look at that Charisma... the number, look at the number. Succubi are incredibly hard to call and bind for a creature of their CR. They're also very smart and very chaotic. Yes, if you can bind her she has all sorts of incredible SLAs, and you can use her to wreak havoc in various interesting ways. They can also be used by a clever DM to mess with you very, very easily. It's just not worth the risk. I strongly suggest you find yourself a girlfriend and conjure something that won't end up laughing its way back to the Abyss.

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

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

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

Vrock* [CR 9, SR 20, Will +6, Cha 16] -- The vrock is an odd choice, but it has its points. It's a combat brute, noticeably more powerful in melee than the osyluth. If you summon more than one, you can get some serious Dance of Ruin action going. And it's relatively easy to get that +2 Cha bonus against it -- "The vrock loves to despoil and befoul things of great beauty. Artwork worth at least 250 gp or a living, intelligent creature to destroy are equally desirable sacrifices." Call up a vrock when you want to inflict swift destruction on masses of low or middle-level enemies, or kill an army. Just don't let the other diabolists see you do it, because vrocks are disgusting and gross.

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

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

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

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

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

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


3 people marked this as a favorite.

This is another installment in "DMDM's Guide to the Diabolist" (Part I is here, and the mechanics of planar binding can be found over here) but other casters may find it interesting as well.

* * * * *
Ahhh! It Got Loose!

Planar bindings are deliberately designed to be dangerous and to fail pretty regularly. That's a feature, not a bug. These spells allow you to call up potentially unlimited numbers of powerful outsiders and bind them to your service for long periods of time. So of course the game designers attached land mines to them, for balance. This Guide is going to show you how you can bind large numbers of powerful outsiders to your service anyway. You just need to follow some simple rules...

Three rules for ALL Planar Binding spells.

1) Never Cast Alone. If something goes wrong, it's just you and an angry outsider. Always have backup -- another PC, a cohort, your apprentice.

2) Be Prepared. Always have a plan B. Sooner or later, one of your called devils will break loose. You need a Plan B. It can be a raging barbarian cohort with a two-handed weapon, an apprentice with a scroll of Dismissal, or a Contingency spell that teleports you to your backup lair. But be prepared. Do your homework. Know what powers the creature you're calling has. If it has mental attacks, make sure everyone in the room has Protection from Evil. If it breathes poison, have antitoxin on hand. And so forth.

3) Never Call Anything Over Your CR. Your CR is your level-1. So if you're 10th level, don't call anything over CR 9. There's always a cool creature right at your CR. Wait a level and call it then.

* * * * *

So, you have your circle drawn, your sacrifice ready, your nervous apprentice close at hand... it's time to start conjuring and binding! Here I list some of the outsiders you're most likely to conjure up. This is by no means a complete list; consult the pfsrd for more. An asterisk (*) means a creature that's not a devil -- you don't get to use your Infernal Charisma against it. (And let's pause here and note that once you hit that fourth diabolist level, Infernal Charisma becomes really, really handy... it can make the difference between a very iffy summoning and one that's a slam dunk.)

There are three statistics you have to think about here: Spell Resistance, the creature's Charisma, and it's Will save. Its Will save is what it uses to resist being called in the first place, its SR can be used to get out of your circle, and its Cha can both get it out of the circle and be used to defy you. Remember, the more times it can defy you, the more rolls it gets to escape! So you want to win those Cha checks. More discussion of how to do this can be found in the chapter on "Conjuring -- The Dummy's Guide".

Lesser Planar Binding: Who You Gonna Call?

Lemure [CR 1, SR 0, Will +0, Cha 5] -- The lemure is feeble, stupid, can't teleport, and has no useful skills or SLAs. Summon one of these at your initiation to start your career as a Diabolist and then never bother again.

Imp [CR 2, SR 0, Will+4, Cha 14] -- These little guys have their uses, but for a creature of their CR they're actually pretty hard to call and bind. Anyway, you already have an imp companion -- and zebub devils are easier to conjure and make better scouts.

Gaav (Host Devil) [Cr 3, SR 0, Will +0, Cha 8] -- These guys are pretty easy to call and bind, but for combat purposes the bearded devil is just going to give you much more bang for your buck.

Zebub (Accuser Devil) [CR 3, SR 0, Will +1, Cha 12] -- The zebub isn't terribly bright, but it has at-will invisibility, at-will teleport, +15 stealth (the imp, for all its other fine qualities, has no stealth), whispering wind for reporting back, and a variety of useful SLAs including that weird Infernal Eye thing. Summon these guys regularly for use as spies and scouts -- in particular, if your party doesn't have a rogue, you want one of these flybabies bobbing invisibly down the dungeon corridor in front of you. Despite their low CR, they'll stay at least occasionally handy well into higher levels.

Hell Hound* [CR 3, SR 0, Will +1, Cha 6] -- Despite not being a devil, these guys are fairly easy to summon, and their low Int means they're not too hard to please -- if you regularly give them meat and stuff to burn, they should be happy. If you're just getting started with planar binding, or you need to call up a lot of monsters fast with a high chance of success, go with these guys. A pack of them can be fun, but their low CR and lack of useful skills or SLAs means that before long you'll be moving on to bigger and better monsters.

Ukobach [Cr 4, SR 15,Will +7, Cha 13] -- These little pyromaniacs are Paizo, but 3.5, not PFRPG -- they showed up in Pathfinder #25 (Bastards of Erebus) and have never been converted. Check whether your DM will allow them. A specialized tool, call these if you want to burn stuff down. Note that they're unusually "friendly" for devils, and may show up with gifts or information.

Barghest* [CR 4, SR 0, Will +7, Cha 14] -- Call one of these guys when you need to get rid of a body.

Barbazu (Bearded Devil) [CR 5, SR 16, Will +3, Cha 10] -- These guys are your go-to, meat and potatoes devils for your first few levels of conjuring. They're relatively easy to conjure and bind: once you overcome their SR, their lowish Will save and weak Cha are unlikely to present problems, and you can raise the odds still higher by giving them something to kill (+2 on the Cha check). A single bearded devil is only CR 5, but four of them are CR 9 and a group of six is CR 10, so you can have squads of them running around into the low teen levels. They have respectable hp, AC 19, and the ability to dish out large amounts of damage quite fast. At-will teleportation means that they're tactically incredibly flexible; they can pop up next to enemy casters, swarm opponents who think they're safely distant across a chasm, your party rogue will always have a flank buddy, you name it. Once you're able to cast LPB regularly, you should always have a few of these guys hanging around. Print out a copy of their stat block... you're going to be using it a lot.

Nightmare* [CR 5, SR 0, Will +3, Cha 12] -- There are two reasons to call up a nightmare. One is if you want to travel to the Outer Planes, as the nightmare can Plane Shift itself and one rider once/day. This is quite risky, since you have to travel alone and you can't come back home for a full day. But if for some reason you really need to go, this is the fastest way to get there. The other reason is, of course, to lend it to the party antipaladin, cavalier, or other steed-crazy fighter type. It's a great way to thank the party tank for standing next to you all those times. A few levels later you can offer him the chance to trade up to a cauchemar -- see below.

* * * * *

Some math follows for the folks who like that sort of thing.

Let's Do Math!:

Here's a sample of how this works in play. Say you're a Wizard 5 / Diabolist 4 with a 20 Int, a 14 Cha, Spell Penetration, and Spell Focus: Conjuration. You prepare Lesser Planar Binding, Dimensional Anchor, and Magic Circle Against Evil (twice), and start calling a bearded devil. We'll say you take 20 on the Spellcraft check to draw the circle.

Odds of successfully calling the devil: your spell DC is 21, and the barbazu's Will save is +3. You'll succeed 85% of the time.

Odds of successfully keeping the devil in the circle: it can force you to make an SR check, and that's its best bet for escaping. SR 16, you roll at +11. You'll win 80% of the time. Which means the other 20%, you now have a ticked off barbazu in the room with you. See earlier discussion about being prepared.

Odds of binding the devil to your service: assuming no modifiers (there are various possible modifiers, but never mind that now) this is a straight-up opposed Cha check, with you at +6 (+2 Cha +4 Infernal Charisma) and the devil at +0. Your chance of winning that is 74%. If you win, ta da! Congratulations -- the devil is bound to your service for up to nine days. If you lose, the devil sulks in the circle for a day. Then tomorrow you come back and repeat the last two checks: it forces another SR check to escape (80% chance you win) and then you can try another opposed Cha check (76% chance you win).

Your total chance of getting a bound devil out of this morning's work is 85% (chance of calling) x 80% (chance circle holds) x 76% (chance of winning Cha contest). That gives a 51.7% chance of outright success on the first try. Of course, if you don't win the first time, you can simply try again... as long as the devil hasn't killed you.

Do these sound like bad odds? They're not, if you're prepared. Here's the thing: if you cast every day, at the end of nine days you'll have probably four and quite possibly five barbed devils sworn and bound to your service. And that, my friend, is when you hit the dungeon.

[To be continued, if there's interest.]

Doug M.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

This is part 1 of a rough guide to the Diabolist. As you can see, some sections are still missing, and part 2 is still in progress. Nonetheless, comments are welcome!

Doug M.

* * * * *

The Diabolist is one of the most interesting of Paizo's current crop of PrCs. It's highly specialized, and comes with several strings attached. But if this is the kind of character that you want to play, the Diabolist is both flavorful and surprisingly powerful. Do you want to sign deals in blood with the servants of Hell? Do you want to go into combat behind a wave of glaive-wielding barbed devils, with a nasty little accuser devil scouting out your enemies, and a snickering imp companion perched on your shoulder? Do you like burning paladins with hellfire? Then this may be the prestige class for you.

Class requirements

The Diabolist has the following class requirements.

Alignment: Lawful neutral, lawful evil, or neutral evil. From a mechanical point of view, there is a slight advantage to being lawful neutral. After all, you also get many of the benefits of being evil (bossing around devils, throwing hellfire) without being vulnerable to spells and effects that target evil characters (detect evil, protection from evil, paladin smites). Hanging on to a neutral alignment may be difficult, however. You're already damned to Hell just by dint of being a Diabolist, and you're going to be regularly calling up creatures who actively want to commit evil acts. Alignment is a tricky issue that varies from campaign to campaign, but don't be too surprised if you find that after some time playing this class the "N" in your alignment is looking more and more like an "E".

Language: Infernal. Note that this means you must either be a race that has Infernal as a starting language [are there any?], or have a positive Int modifier, or put one rank into Linguistics.

Skills: Knowledge (planes) 5 ranks, Knowledge (religion) 3 ranks, Spellcraft 5 ranks. This is a total of 13 skill ranks, which means that if you are playing a character with less than 3 skill ranks/level (a nonhuman sorceror, a human cleric who dumped Int, etc.) then you won't be able to enter the Diabolist class until 8th level.

Special: Must have conjured a devil using lesser planar ally or lesser planar binding (or a similar spell) and successfully coaxed the fiend into performing a task longer than 1 day. You are allowed to do this by casting from a scroll, which means it is possible to start on your career as a Diabolist at 6th level. You should seriously consider this, as the Diabolist's class attributes are noticeably more powerful if you can access them at lower levels. (Unfortunately, this "roleplaying" requirement means the Diabolist is not allowed for PFS play.)

Entering this class after 5th level, while legal, is not as easy as it might seem. You'll need to buy a scroll of Lesser Planar Binding and probably a scroll of Magic Circle Against Evil as well. Assuming the scroll was cast at 9th level, you'll need to make a DC 10 caster level check, meaning you'll make it on a 5 or higher -- 80% of the time. But then the conjured devil must fail its Will save; must also fail a special Cha check (DC 15 + 1/2 your level + your Cha modifier); and then lose to you on an opposed Cha check to be forced into service. For this reason, you should swallow your pride and summon a lemure (+0 Will save, 5 Cha) instead of something like an imp (+4 Will save, 14 Cha). Yes, the imp is much cooler. But the lemure is much less likely to make its Will save or Cha check and disappear amidst a cloud of brimstone and a peal of mocking laughter, leaving you with a botched conjuration and a couple of painfully expensive wasted scrolls. So go with the lemure -- you'll be calling up cool things soon enough.

Damned: When a diabolist is killed, her soul is instantly sent to Hell. Any character attempting to resurrect her must succeed at a caster level check equal to 10 + the diabolist's level or her spell fails. That character cannot attempt to resurrect the diabolist again until the following day, though other characters can attempt as they please. Strictly speaking this is a class attribute gained at first level rather than a requirement. I group it here because it means that "must be willing to be damned" is a requirement! Also, from a mechanical standpoint, it means that for the next four levels -- until you get your Hellish Soul on -- you need to live very, very carefully. You should discuss the implications of this with fellow party members, as they're the ones who'll be raising you. If they end up failing a check to claw your black soul back from the clutches of Moloch, and so have to cough up another 5,000 gp out of the party treasury to try again, it's going to go down a bit easier if they're aware of the possibility in advance.

Dipping the Diabolist

The Diabolist is unusual among Paizo PrCs in that it is very dippable. A single level of Diabolist gives you +2 on all Cha checks with devils and an imp companion. The imp companion is a very attractive, as it advances along with your character class levels. (Further discussion of uses for the imp companion can be found below.) A second level of Diabolist gives the Channel Hellfire power, which is incredibly useful for blaster characters and/or anyone who is regularly facing good-aligned opponents. This second level is particularly attractive to magi and other touch monkeys, ask they can swap in Hellfire when facing creatures that are resistant to their normal touch spells.

Who should play a Diabolist?

Any caster class can play a Diabolist. Very broadly speaking, potential diabolists fall into two classes: arcane casters (who will use Planar Binding spells to call their devils) and divine casters (who will use Planar Ally spells). Because Planar Binding is mechanically superior to Planar Ally, the Diabolist is more attractive to arcane casters, though it is still a viable choice for some divine casters. The class's slow BAB progression and d6 HD make it less attractive to hybrid melee/caster types such as magi, combat clerics and melee bards.

[discussion of divine casters omitted]

Alchemist [red] -- The alchemist is a poor choice for playing a diabolist, as alchemists do not have access to the Planar Binding spells. An alchemist could still get some benefit from this class by dipping 1-2 levels in order to gain the imp companion and the Channel Hellfire power, but there would be little point in continuing further.

Bard [orange] -- The bard is another poor choice for playing a diabolist, as bards do not have access to the Planar Binding spells. That said, there are some interesting possible synergies here. Like the alchemist, a bard could still get some benefit from this class by dipping 1-2 levels. Also, as a Cha-based caster, bards will be able to leverage their Charisma in dealing with devils, even if they cannot themselves conjure them. Bards are also better able to pay the skill taxes to enter this class, and skill such as Diplomacy and Sense Motive are always going to be useful in dealing with intelligent and powerful outsiders. The bard moves from orange to green in a campaign where devils are common anyway, even if she can't call them herself.

Magus [red] -- The diabolist's slow BAB progression and d6 HD are going to be a poor match for any class that spends time in melee. Taking diabolist levels also means giving up Arcane Pool points and losing many useful class attributes, such as the Knowledge Pool, medium armor proficiency, and so forth. And, of course, the magus does not have access to Planar Binding spells. Like the alchemist, the magus can gain some interesting benefits from dipping 1-2 levels of diabolist, most notably the ability to swap Hellfire into a normal touch attack spell -- very useful when fighting (for instance) an angel with resistance 10/electricity against the magus' normal Shocking Grasp attack. However, even this is limited by the fact that it relies on Charisma -- not usually a magus' strong suit.

Sorceror [blue] -- The sorceror enjoys one huge advantage in entering this class: she is a Cha-based caster, and so will already have a high Cha for making opposed checks against devils and for gaining extra uses of the Channel Hellfire power. This is such a great convenience that it might seem to make the sorceror the obvious "best" class. However, the sorceror faces several significant disadvantages as well.

First, the sorceror is relatively starved for feats and (especially) skills. The wizard will get a very useful feat at 5th level, just before becoming a Diabolist; the sorceror must wait until 7th level, which means either delaying entry or giving up the feat. (More likely the latter, as most bloodlines do not provide feats that are specifically useful for a Diabolist.) The sorceror also gets only 2 skill points/level and is not likely to have a very high Int. A nonhuman sorceror with a 10 Int, or a human sorceror with a 9 Int or lower, will not even be able to become a Diabolist until 8th level because of the class's skill requirements. Even a sorceror who gets 3 skill ranks/level will find herself painfully starved for skills at all points in her career.

Second, the sorceror's slower spell progression and limited spell selection impose real constraints on a Diabolist, especially for the first few levels in the class. The sorceror must wait an additional level for each Planar Binding and Summoning spell. So while the 9th level wizard is marching into the dungeon surrounded by his retinue of devils, the poor 9th level sorceror is stuck casting Summon Monster IV and the very occasional Planar Binding from expensive scrolls. Things don't get much better when the sorceror reaches 10th level, because if she takes Planar Binding it will be her only known 5th level spell -- and if she uses one of her precious 4th level "spells known" slots on Dimensional Anchor, that leaves a grand total of two other spells known over third level.

To be sure, there are workarounds for these problems: scrolls, wands, cohorts, party members. But the restrictions on the sorceror are stringent enough to move the class from "clearly the best" to "competitive".

[discussion of sorceror bloodlines would go here]

Summoner [orange] -- Although the summoner has access to Planar Binding spells, this class is still a weak choice for a diabolist. First and foremost, diabolist levels do not count towards the evolution of a summoner's eidolon. And second, the summoner's slow spell progression means that access to higher-level planar binding spells is delayed -- to 13th level for Planar Binding (vs. 12th for a sorceror or 11th for a wizard or witch), and to 16th level for Greater Planar Binding (vs. 14th for a sorceror or 13th for a wizard or witch).

Witch [blue] -- While a witch makes a fine a diabolist, this class does face certain challenges. Like the sorceror, the witch will be short on feats. Entering a prestige class at 6th level means giving up hexes and patron spells. This is particularly annoying since many witch hexes get a "bump" in duration or power at 8th level.

On the plus side, the witch does have at least two basic hexes that can help with conjuring devils. The Fortune hex, which can be used to "reroll any ability check, attack roll, saving throw, or skill check, taking the better result". Under the RAW, this would appear to allow the witch to double-roll an opposed Cha check to compel a conjured devil to service. Check to make sure your DM agrees. If he does, this becomes an extremely powerful tool, especially at higher levels. The Evil Eye hex can also be used against devils to tip the scales even further in your favor -- while it only affects a single check, it ignores Spell Resistance and does not allow a save.

Finally, note that a Diabolist witch will now have an imp companion and a familiar too. This opens up some interesting options in terms of action economy. If nothing else, the imp can take a shape identical to your familiar, making it harder for enemies to target your precious, precious spellbook.

Wizard [blue] -- The wizard is the mirror image of the sorceror: he enjoys a number of advantages (an extra useful feat, many more skill ranks, faster spell progression, better spell selection) but has one major disadvantage: wizards usually dump Cha. If you want to play a Diabolist wizard, you need to have a respectable Cha: certainly 10, preferably 12, and 14 if you can somehow swing it. On a point buy system, this means losing out somewhere else, and that hurts. Otherwise, the wizard is a very strong pick, and is probably the best class for this PrC overall.

[discussion of wizard specialists here]

Part 2 (in progress)

Building towards a Diabolist

[discussion of playing a character before entering this class goes here, including recommended feats and skills]

Playing the Diabolist

[discussion of the imp companion]

[uses of Hellfire]

[conjuring devils, part 1 -- the conjuring "mini-game"]

[conjuring devils, part 2 -- the best fiend for the job]


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Okay, so you want to play a diabolist. Diabolist can be entered by any caster class, but it's a better choice for arcane casters --- and while you might think a high-Cha sorceror would be a better bet, that's not necessarily true. So let's say you're starting with a wizard. Let's say further that you manage to cast LPB from a scroll, thereby allowing you to enter the class at 6th level instead of waiting for 8th.

The diabolist is the only PrC that's focused on conjuring creatures, so let's talk a little bit about that. At 7th level you can gain Lesser Planar Ally as a spell. Since you took a PrC, you'll have to buy it somewhere as a scroll instead of just gaining it on level-up. And you'll want to purchase Dimensional Anchor, as well... see below. So you do that. Now you can start conjuring devils, right?

Well... maybe. Let's walk through conjuring a simple devil. LPB lets you call up a creature of up to 6 HD. The strongest devil available to you is the 5 HD Bearded Devil. (The 6 HD Shadow Mastiff and Nightmare are also available, but they're not devils, so you don't get any bonuses. Best leave them be for now.) So you fire up your magic circle and start conjuring.

First off, the devil gets a Will save to resist being drawn from Hell. Let us say that you have a 20 Int at this point, and Spell Focus (Conjuration). That gives a DC of 20. So the devil will fail 80% of the time. So far, so good. Oddly enough, there doesn't seem to be any penalty for failure... if the creature makes its Will save, it seems you can just wait ten minutes, redraw your circle, and try again with a different devil. (Has anyone checked whether that's correct?)

Now it gets tricky. "The creature can escape from the trap by successfully pitting its Spell Resistance against your caster level check, by dimensional travel, or with a successful Charisma check (DC 15 + 1/2 your caster level + your Charisma modifier). It can try each method once per day. If it breaks loose, it can flee or attack you."

Dimensional travel, well, you can pre-cast Dimensional Anchor on the magic circle to stop that hole. This requires a DC 20 Spellcraft check, which you don't know the result of. If you've maxed out Spellcraft -- which of course you have -- you have a +15, so you'll make this 80% of the time. The alternate method is to Dim Anchor the devil when it arrives, beating its initiative and then winning a ranged touch attack. Yeah, better go with the Spellcraft check. So the devil is now left with two choices: burn its way out of the circle using its SR, or make a successful Charisma check.

Let's assume you didn't dump Cha because you were building towards being a Diabolist from day one. So you're a wizard with a 12 Cha. The DC of the Charisma check would be 19; your Infernal Charisma makes it 21. The bearded devil has a 10 Cha, so there's no way it's making that check. So, it can only try SR. Its SR is 16, and here's where things get iffy: you're going to need to roll a 9, which means you fail this 40% of the time. That's not so great. Better invest in Spell Penetration (or be an elf). Now you win on a 7 or higher. Still risky but the odds are with you.

Now, if you lose, the devil either departs the scene or can attack you. You don't want to fight this thing, right? So this is where having a friendly party member or two close at hand is good. (And of course, you already have your own Magic Circle cast and are standing inside it.) It's unclear whether the devil escapes back to Hell or is now unleashed on the material plane; if the latter, well, you better hope it goes somewhere far away, because if it stays in the neighborhood it's going to be several sorts of problem.

But let's say you win. Hurrah! Now you can negotiate with the devil. Here's where Planar Binding is very different from Planar Ally. Planar Ally just sets a fixed fee based on the creature's hit dice and the duration of the task. Planar Binding, you *can* offer the creature a fee -- but you don't have to; under the RAW, all you have to do is beat it at an opposed Charisma check. The check can be modified by +0 to +6 depending on the nature of the service and the reward, and you can reroll the check once/day, every day. (Of course, the devil can try escaping once per day, too.) You start with +3 against the devil (+1 Cha bonus is +1, +2 infernal charisma) and under the RAW you can gain another +2 by giving it something to kill, because that's how bearded devils roll.

So as long as you're not asking for anything too strange or onerous, your odds of success are pretty good. "Guard my tower for a week while I'm out of town" would probably be a reasonable request -- though, devils being devils, I'd phrase it more precisely than that. "Go to this building and kill everyone inside, then return home to Hell" would probably work just fine too -- in fact, given that bearded devils are inherently warlike and violent, that would probably be a nice easy check. "Follow me into the dungeon, obey my orders and act as my bodyguard for one day" would be permissible too IMO, though harder.

-- Here's where it gets interesting. There is, AFAICT, no limit to the number of conjured creatures you can have at any one time. So you could call a bearded devil every day until you have a squad of half a dozen of them, and *then* enter the dungeon. Now, at 7th level you'd only be able to call one devil per day -- you're burning two fourth and two third level spells each time -- and since the spell's maximum duration is one day/level, you couldn't get more than 7 devils maximum. And since some will make their saving throws, beat your caster check with their SR, or make their opposed Charisma checks, more likely you'll only be able to get two or three. On the other hand, having two or three melee-brute CR 5 devils marching along with you at 7th level would be pretty sweet, and AFAICT it would be completely RAW-legal.

You have a couple of other interesting options at this level. One is the hell hound. Although it's a Lawful Evil extraplanar outsider, this beast isn't a devil, so you don't get your Infernal Charisma bonus. And it's not as powerful as the bearded devil, being only CR 4. On the other hand, it has only Cha 6 (and Int 6), has no SR, and doesn't teleport. So it's much easier to summon, and no more difficult to control. If you're a little nervous of what a clever DM might do with intelligent, cunning devils, maybe start with a few of these guys first to, as it were, warm up.

Another option is the Zebub or accuser devil. These ugly little creatures are only CR 3, but with at-will invisibility, greater teleport, whispering wind and their infernal eye "playback" power, they're your go-to choice for spying and information collection. You should always have a couple of these little monsters floating around.

Now, at higher levels a whole new set of issues come into play... but let's hold off on that for now. Comments?

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wow. She was ready for a Fireball attack, but not for that!

The tiefling appears from nowhere and strikes with terrible speed -- slashslashslash, crackle! The blue robed woman spasms and dances as electricity courses through her. There's a horrible smell of ozone and singed hair. Then she falls nervelessly down the stairs... thump.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

So Diplomacy would be +30, or +34 when dealing with something that could plausibly be attracted to me.

+34 is really rather high. Under RAW, that means that if I can get a hostile creature to stand still and listen to me for a minute (not always possible, of course -- but if) then on a roll of 6 against a no-Cha-bonus enemy I'll shift it all the way from Hostile to Helpful. Even if it has a +5 Cha bonus I'll still manage Helpful on an 11 and will get at least Indifferent automatically.

Obviously there will be many encounters that can't be defused in this manner, but it's still pretty sweet. Diplomacy, like Bluff, is a skill where piling bonus on bonus can give some eyebrow-raising results.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

And...

...the Commander falls! Go Grumblejack!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The Commander's AoO: 1d20 ⇒ 1


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I was seriously considering this for exactly this reason. I decided against a familiar basically because everyone on this board seems to assume that if a worshipper of Arshea has an animal companion or a familiar... honestly, people, wth? I can have an active sex life and also have a dog and *those two things do not have to overlap*.

Where was I... oh, yeah, the tattooed definitely sounds viable. Especially given that you're not going all the way with your bloodlines anyway. And having DR/Good for playing WotR is indeed clever, and thematic too! Well played!

Quote:
- I like playing a gothchick Suicide Girl; I think Arshea would be down with it

Of course s/he would be. Totally.

Quote:
If you're a tattooed sorceress, you gotta get a familiar you can tattoo. So the PC has a tattoo of a pig with its own tattoos.

Which should include a tattoo of you, just because.

Seriously, great stuff. So what did you do for the rest of the build, then? Other feats, items, spells and such? (And how are you liking WotR? I just read the first half and it looks better than I expected.)

Doug M.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Just want to say, I'm going through the Wrath of the Righteous AP now and it's really nice how this integrates with it. You don't *need* this to run the AP -- they're completely independent -- but it's definitely a useful resource that will add to the fun. Which is as it should be.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

...actually, my interpretation of that is "any act that threatens the charmed person *after the spell is cast* breaks the spell." Otherwise, threatening anyone anytime would mean you could never charm that person forever after.

Doug M.


11 people marked this as a favorite.

(Here's a post from a couple of years back about one way to make succubi more complex and interesting. Feel free to toss it into the mix if you like it; it's one way the ladies could organize their counteroffensive. Not necessary, though.)

Now, this revenge should be protracted. Let the PCs go on as if nothing has happened. Carry on with the campaign. Never even mention the petrified succubus, or any other succubus, or anything to do with them. You, the DM, must be patient. Let months pass.

Meanwhile, the demons locate the petrified succubus. They carefully craft a replacement statue, they carry her back home, and they un-petrify her. Of course, she's mad for revenge. That will come, she's told. Wait.

Then you introduce an NPC. This NPC should be female, clearly powerful, and friendly to the party. She should throw them some minor job, or help them with something. You want them thinking "NPC who is slightly more powerful than us -- ally or patron". In fact, she's a LOT more powerful than the PCs. Like, average party level +6 or more. She's a succubus with lots of PC levels, most likely as a sorceress. (Look at the Cha scores on a succubus. And when you build one with PC levels, you can add another +4 to that Cha. Now add 10 or 12 or 14 levels of sorceror. Yeah, good fun.) She's a senior succubus who is in charge of taking down the PCs. (They may later argue that sending a super-powerful demon against them isn't "fair". Well, trying to cheat the Abyss by a combination of force and trickery wasn't "fair", either. And, really, the Abyss has no concept of "fair". You're messing with demons, what did you expect?)

Anyway, the female NPC -- call her the Countess -- has a "handmaiden", who should seem humble, utterly loyal to her, and not very interesting. The handmaiden is, of course, the original succubus, now un-petrified. If the PCs show any interest in the handmaiden, the Countess may give some amusing story about who she really is... a trophy from a previous adventure, or something like that. You want the PCs thinking the handmaiden is just chrome. Mention her now and then but don't dwell on her.

Still with me? Okay, you want to establish the Countess as a likable, cool NPC and gain the players' trust. That shouldn't be too hard. Her Bluff and Disguise skills will be crazy high, and she'll have lots of magic to disguise what she is, and anyway she'll be giving the players stuff that they want. You know your players best, and can craft an NPC that they'll like and trust.

So then the Countess has a mission: take down a monster -- who knows? maybe it's a demon! -- that has infiltrated an important institution and taken over a beloved, respected person. Maybe it's the high priest of the Lawful Good temple, and he's really a demon now. (A vermlek demon, say. Or a shadow demon. Both those are pretty creepy.) Or the King has been taken over, or the Mayor of the city, or the beloved retired paladin. You get the idea. The PCs attack the castle / city hall / the temple... and sure enough, there are demons! (Summoned by the Countess, of course.) By the time they reach the high priest or the Mayor or whoever, there'll be no stopping them. They cut him down. The Countess tells them in advance that they have to disintegrate or otherwise destroy the body, quickly, before it can use contingency, so there can be no resurrection...

...and then the Countess reveals herself, and smiles...

...and then the handmaiden reveals herself, and smiles...

...and then she crooks her finger and, as a free action, calls all her profane gifts home. Boom: every PC loses the +2 bonus and 2d6 of Cha damage as well. Which is bad timing, because they're standing over the dead and mutilated body of the high priest, beloved old paladin, or Mayor. Who was, of course, not a demon at all.

And then the two ladies say, "See you again, boys... very soon." And they simply disappear.

This requires a lot of patience and some planning. But if you want to try it, I think it could be fun. What do you think?

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Option #1: end the profane gift. Simple.

Option #2: let them get away with it! For now. For now.

Here's one way it plays out. Let the PCs congratulate themselves... and then ignore this. Act like it never happened. In a session or two, they'll completely forget about it.

Meanwhile, someone comes looking for the succubus. Boyfriend? Girlfriend? Boss? I like the idea of "boss", myself... a nalfeshnee or something, that notices Gladys hasn't shown up for work in a month and sends something or someone to track her down. It takes a little while, but eventually they find out...

...and then it absolutely hits the fan. Because succubi have been around forever, and the Abyss is ancient and full of evil. So this isn't the first time someone has come up with this idea. No! It's been tried before. More than once. And if you're a succubus, you absolutely, utterly hate this. It's a violation worse than rape, a violence more horrible than murder: they're taking your profane gift, that special hook you use to ensnare mortals, by force, and they're *getting away with it*.

Demons are chaotic creatures; they don't cooperate well. But succubi are a partial exception; they're social creatures, after all. And this is something that will unite almost every succubus in the Abyss in a concerted effort to enact massive, horrible revenge on the PCs.

More in a moment...

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Everybody loves the Test of Meat, man.

Those are oldish -- early 3.5. I think James Jacobs wrote the Dinosaur Cultist?

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Well, what about other aspects of the mystery cultist PrC?

Quote:

Glorious Aura (Su)

Starting at 2nd level, a mystery cultist can shroud herself in a glorious aura for 1 round per mystery cultist level. These rounds need not be consecutive.

Her features radiate with divine beauty, but the force of her presence can be frightening to others. The mystery cultist gains a +4 sacred bonus to her Charisma score and radiates a 10-foot aura of terrible awe. Creatures within the aura must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + the mystery cultist's class level + the mystery cultist's Charisma modifier) or become frightened for 1d4 rounds. Regardless of whether the save is successful, a creature cannot be affected by a mystery cultist's glorious aura more than once in 24 hours.

This is a fear effect.

Yeah, I'll bet it is. "Hey, slavers! I'm now boosting my AC and all my spell DCs by +2, AND I'm adding a Cha-based debuff to disorganize and scatter your meat shields!" "I... I'm terrified." "Me, too." "Paralyzed with fear over here." "Yes! Keep talking about your feelings, I love that."

Quote:


Brand of Healing (Sp)

At 4th level, the mystery cultist gains the ability to cast heal as a spell-like ability once per day. The target of this ability is branded on the forehead or another visible area with an incandescent tattoo of the holy symbol of the mystery cultist's patron. The holy brand lasts for 24 hours before fading.

Okay, are we all thinking about this right now?

No, I mean... this would be useful against undead, right? We've already established that this character is willing to get unusually up-close for an arcane caster. I mean, in melee. So, delivering 130 points of damage on a touch attack works.

Quote:

Starting at 4th level, a mystery cultist can use summon monster VI once per day to conjure one lillend, 1d3 bralanis, or 1d4+1 hound archons to serve her.

See discussion upthread re: summoned creatures, so get your minds out of there. These are weakish creatures, but the lillend does have some minor useful spells and SLAs -- hey, you'll be the only sorceror ever to cast Hallucinatory Terrain without a wand or scroll -- and they can be okay when you have a round to spare for casting and want to bulk up a combat with mooks. As is often the case with summons in PrCs, this is for flavor.

Quote:

Fervor (Su)

At 5th level, the mystery cultist can enter a religious fervor for a number of rounds per day equal to her class level, and can enter a fervor or end it as a free action. While in this fervor, the mystery cultist gains a +2 sacred bonus on all weapon attack and damage rolls, DR 5/evil, and a +2 bonus to her caster level for the purposes of determining the range, duration, and level-dependent effects of spells. In addition, her base speed increases by 10 feet.

So, yeah, this pretty much screams "I am a caster who will dance into melee -- gorgeously -- in order to blast and shrivel you with close-up touch and ranged touch attacks." Like... like the audition scene in 'Flashdance'? Only with bad guys screaming and exploding? You have the Glorious Aura power above for AC and spell DCs, this for when you need to get close to something to blow it up with a touch attack. Combine the two for boss fights, aw yeah.

Quote:


A mystery cultist takes a –4 penalty on Charisma checks and Charisma-based skill checks during the fervor and for a number of minutes afterward equal to 2 × the number of rounds spent in the religious fervor.

"Ah-huh... ah-huh... sorry... all sweaty..."

Doug M.

1 to 50 of 280 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | next > last >>

©2002–2014 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.