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Shadow demons are mean


Advice

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Lantern Lodge

So our party just got TPK'd by an unexpected shadow demon. It wasn't even a contest: it just walked up, feared the entire group (no one made the save) and slaughtered us one by one as we sprinted away. I wouldn't mind dying from bad tactics or dumb decisions; I wouldn't even mind very much dying to horrifically bad luck (although TPKing to bad luck would bother me a bit); but dying to an encounter that we could not have seen coming in advance and that we have no chance to survive without specific preparation angers me somewhat.

Our 5th level party consists of:


  • DW barbarian (orc double-axe for 2Hing)
  • shortsword rogue
  • draconic sorcerer
  • non-combat/save-or-suck bard (this guy's kinda new, give him a break)

You'll notice a distinct lack of divine magic here. We noticed that too. We have a couple wands of cure light wounds that we burn through regularly. It's surprisingly ok most of the time, although we've felt the pain from lack of access to cure disease.

We actually broke for the evening before it killed everyone, in hopes that we could come up with some sort of survival strategy by next week. Our current status: sorcerer is at -4hp but stable, rogue is still feared, barbarian is magic jarred but we can fix this, bard is in single digits hp from a pounce but otherwise as combat-effective as he ever was (and is holding the item to fix the barbarian). Demon has used magic jar and one of its shadow evocations (this is what knocked the sorcerer out, he failed both saves). Our problems were mostly a) we couldn't hurt it, and b) we couldn't reliably make the saves against its SLAs. My GM and I stayed later to try to figure out ways we could have solved these problems with reasonable preparation, but we've basically come to the conclusion that this thing is just plain out of line for a CR7 creature, unless your party contains a paladin (who can of course solo it). Her plan at the moment is to introduce a 5th player (which we were planning to do anyway) who is a priest with daylight, align weapon, and magic circle against evil prepared, which should give us a fighting chance.

So now I come to you, Paizo boards, for advice. Question 1: how does this party beat a shadow demon? You may assume a reasonable amount of generic preparation (we actually forgot to do this, but we should have remembered): limit 300gp per character. Note that this is the first demon, and indeed the first creature of any kind with DR/material, that we've encountered in the adventure path (I'm not saying which one to avoid spoilers), and we had no reason to expect we'd have to deal with it. It is seriously a pretty much random encounter completely out of left field. So preparing specifically to defeat things which are simultaneously incorporeal and demons would be a little sleazy, but I'll allow things like ordinary (nonmasterwork) cold iron weapons and magic weapon. We kind of forgot to buy cold iron and/or silvered weapons (oops) but the sorcerer did take magic weapon in case of DR/magic, and in any case oils of magic weapon aren't THAT expensive. Only CRB content, please, at least for equipment.

Question 2: where does this thing get off having 5th level SLAs as a 10th level sorcerer, vicious DR, incorporeality, AND spell resistance as a CR7 monster? Seriously, this is ridiculous. Any two of those would be reasonable (although DR + incorporeality is a mean, mean combo) but all four is just absurd.

Dark Archive

Sunlight Powerlessness (Ex) A shadow demon is utterly powerless in bright light or natural sunlight and flees from it. A shadow demon caught in such light cannot attack and can take only a single move or standard action. A shadow demon that is possessing a creature using magic jar is not harmed by sunlight, but if it is struck by a sunbeam or sunburst spell while possessing a creature, the shadow demon is driven out of its host automatically.

Lantern Lodge

Ah, yes, thank you, I forgot to mention: we're 5 days deep in a triple-canopy rainforest. There's no direct sunlight to be had anywhere, and we obviously don't have access to daylight (or any other 3rd level spells).


Man, thats brutal. Maybe set fire to the jungle as you flee, in the hopes that even if you die, the demon's hunting ground is ruined by sunlight?

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Wake your sorcerer, have him cast fireball on the canopy. Powerless shadow demon. Think outside the box!

Lantern Lodge

5th level sorcerers don't have access to fireball (or any other 3rd level spell slots), and with this party it would be a foolish sorcerer indeed who took anything other than haste for his first 3rd level spell. That said, the sorcerer did buy a scroll of fireball at our last stop, so this might actually work if we wake him up. Good idea!


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Wake your sorcerer, have him cast fireball on the canopy. Powerless shadow demon. Think outside the box!

1. The sorcerer isn't high enough level to have fireball.

2. Triple canopy forest? Even if fireball did singe a few leaves, how is that going to flood the area in sunlight?

Scarab Sages

I threw one of these against my fourth level party. They beat (read: ran from) it just fine.

In all seriousness, the sunlight powerlessness is probably your best bet--Throw a few fireballs at the trees above you; if your spells don't do any good against your enemy, use them for something else. (Looking over the lists for bards and sorcerers, any of the following should be of some use to you: flaming sphere, gust of wind (temporarily), fire breath, alter winds, snapdragon fireworks (maybe). You could probably get away with a number of other things as well if your GM rewards you for creative solutions)

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Whoops. Well considering the location and complete surprise this monster is likely to be about CR 8 really. If you're playing the AP I think you are then you guys should have a McGuffin to use against yon shadow demon.


Let's say you do manage to make a patch of light by blating the trees above. Now what? The shadow demon moves out of the radius of light and watches you hide in it until the sun goes down.

Lantern Lodge

Eragar wrote:

I threw one of these against my fourth level party. They beat (read: ran from) it just fine.

In all seriousness, the sunlight powerlessness is probably your best bet--Throw a few fireballs at the trees above you; if your spells don't do any good against your enemy, use them for something else. (Looking over the lists for bards and sorcerers, any of the following should be of some use to you: flaming sphere, gust of wind (temporarily), fire breath, alter winds, snapdragon fireworks (maybe). You could probably get away with a number of other things as well if your GM rewards you for creative solutions)

Oh don't I know it. That's why we're giving the cleric daylight; at least that way we get a round or two of respite while the demon cancels it with deeper darkness.

How did they get away? You just decided the demon didn't feel like chasing them? Because if it wants to, it can. 40' incorporeal flight is pretty tough to beat in a footrace. If the PCs Run away for 120' per round, it Runs for 160'; it ignores obstacles and difficult terrain; and it has sprint for an extra burst of 960' (yeah that's almost a quarter mile) once per minute.

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Barbarian grapples yon shadow demon in the patch of light. Other PCs aid another. Use rope to tie him up. Coup de grace.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

[Shadow Demon bumps into Venger and gasps]
Venger: Well, what is it?
Shadow Demon: Ah, I have news.
Venger: Yes?
Shadow Demon: Warduke has captured Dungeon Master!
Venger: Unlikely.
Shadow Demon: I saw him.
Venger: (Disbelieving) You saw him?
Shadow Demon: Warduke says Dungeon Master is yours- for the right price.
Venger: "The right price"?! Warduke has either become very brave.... or very stupid. However, I've waited many years for Dungeon Master to make his mistake; I will see to it that it's his last.


It's a nasty monster, all right. If your GM is playing it to the best of its abilities (e.g. magic jarring into one of you when you're not expecting it, then spamming stuff like Telekinesis, Fear and Shadow Evocation), you probably don't have much chance.

Incorporeal monsters are hard to prepare for.

Lantern Lodge

DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Whoops. Well considering the location and complete surprise this monster is likely to be about CR 8 really. If you're playing the AP I think you are then you guys should have a McGuffin to use against yon shadow demon.

Yes, we are, and yes, we do. The person who's carrying yon MacGuffin (the bard) hasn't yet had an action during which the demon wasn't possessing something. We're assuming the MacGuffin can be used to break magic jar automatically, although on a more careful reading of the spell I don't think it does as it only dispels enchantments; magic jar is a necromancy. Its other effect is at best unreliable, being susceptible to both spell resistance and a will save.

DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Barbarian grapples yon shadow demon in the patch of light. Other PCs aid another. Use rope to tie him up. Coup de grace.

Shadow demons can't be grappled or tied up: they're incorporeal. Also they're immune to precision damage such as coup de grace, because they're incorporeal. Did I mention that all three of its 2d6 attacks always hit (except the sorcerer using mage armor)? Incorporeality is really good.

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

TPK and roll a new party?


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Whoops. Well considering the location and complete surprise this monster is likely to be about CR 8 really. If you're playing the AP I think you are then you guys should have a McGuffin to use against yon shadow demon.

Yeah, if you're on the path I think you're on the party should have been given something that will help with this fight.


Eragar wrote:

I threw one of these against my fourth level party. They beat (read: ran from) it just fine.

In all seriousness, the sunlight powerlessness is probably your best bet--Throw a few fireballs at the trees above you; if your spells don't do any good against your enemy, use them for something else. (Looking over the lists for bards and sorcerers, any of the following should be of some use to you: flaming sphere, gust of wind (temporarily), fire breath, alter winds, snapdragon fireworks (maybe). You could probably get away with a number of other things as well if your GM rewards you for creative solutions)

I'm with Eragar. Creative use of abilities will save your behinds. A fly speed of 40ft Perfect is a b~~$+ to get away from. Triple Layered canopy is also a problem. Can't really climb away. Maybe Levitate might help get straight up as fast as possible to destroy the layers of jungle while the other PCs distract. Might be a bit too slow though.

I'm currently a fan of using flares, torches, lanterns, candles, extra kerosene, alchemist fires, makeshift Molotov cocktails, WHATEVER mundane equipment you have to set as much of the jungle on fire as possible. The thing does have fire resistance. But what you want is light. Slash and burn through the trees and treetops. Cast anything from simply Light, Dancing lights, Lighten Object (jk, though that would be funny) to stuff like Produce Flames, burning hands (all the wind and gust spells are a great ideas too).

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Consider cutting a deal with the demon. Surely there's some NPCs you can offer it?


All I can think is that this is probably why a CR 7 creature should be tackled by a level 7 equivalent party.

(Or a level 6 party with a lot of good stuff.)

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Perhaps some assassins, pirates or treasure hunters?


To meta game a bit in a previous encounter with some natives you should have gotten a talisman that can be used to defeat it. I recall this encounter somewhat.


Magic jar, is the shadow demon in the barbarian? What exactly is going on there because dominated or possessed barbarians is a bad, bad situation.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Consider cutting a deal with the demon. Surely there's some NPCs you can offer it?

Any PCs with a mother or grandmother in their backstory?


quincy briley wrote:
To meta game a bit in a previous encounter with some natives you should have gotten a talisman that can be used to defeat it. I recall this encounter somewhat.

I assume that's what the Bard is holding. The trick is to live long enough to use it.


Doesn't protection from evil stop possession?


Even with warning and planning I would find a group hard pressed to kill this thing without relying on the creatures sunlight weakness.
The fact that it has Deeper Darkness as an at will SLA puts a wrench in most of the ideas to huck it into the sunlight.

Nasty critter, it reminds me of the TPK my group had from a certain Lamia Matriarch in another AP that Paizo does.
Wish I could help but I can't see much to turn this around for you guys with the current information provided.


Our group was nearly TPK'd in the same encounter. We did not have The McGuffin and our Cleric was absent that session. To make matters even worse, our party was way below wealth by level, most of our melee combatants were without magical weapons.

There's more to it, but suffice to say, the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth.


Perhaps Pyrotechnics could be of some assistance? Creating a brilliant flash bright enough to blind must be worth SOMETHING, right?

Lantern Lodge

quincy briley wrote:
To meta game a bit in a previous encounter with some natives you should have gotten a talisman that can be used to defeat it. I recall this encounter somewhat.

Yes, this dispel evil MacGuffin has been mentioned several times. We do have it, and it doesn't actually help as much as you'd think. It's an auto-win, IF you beat the demon's SR17 (CL9, 60% success) AND it fails its will save (CR17, the demon needs a 10, so 45% failure), for a total of a 27% chance of this thing actually working. And if it doesn't work... nothing happens. NOTHING.

pipedreamsam wrote:
Magic jar, is the shadow demon in the barbarian? What exactly is going on there because dominated or possessed barbarians is a bad, bad situation.

You are not kidding here. Our GM is being nice and saying that the other use of dispel evil will auto-dispel the magic jar, even though it's only supposed to work on enchantments. Because otherwise, well, we don't exactly have any other way to get the demon out of the barbarian, since we don't have access to dispel magic. I suppose with protection from evil and a lucky re-save we could pacify our barbarian long enough to tie him up and/or find and smash the magic jar soul gem, if we can find it in time. But of course, we don't have protection from evil either; neither the bard nor sorcerer took it, and we didn't buy a scroll or something (this, here, is something we should have done).

Scarab Sages

Paul Zagieboylo wrote:
Eragar wrote:

I threw one of these against my fourth level party. They beat (read: ran from) it just fine.

In all seriousness, the sunlight powerlessness is probably your best bet--Throw a few fireballs at the trees above you; if your spells don't do any good against your enemy, use them for something else. (Looking over the lists for bards and sorcerers, any of the following should be of some use to you: flaming sphere, gust of wind (temporarily), fire breath, alter winds, snapdragon fireworks (maybe). You could probably get away with a number of other things as well if your GM rewards you for creative solutions)

How did they get away? You just decided the demon didn't feel like chasing them? Because if it wants to, it can. 40' incorporeal flight is pretty tough to beat in a footrace. If the PCs Run away for 120' per round, it Runs for 160'; it ignores obstacles and difficult terrain; and it has sprint for an extra burst of 960' (yeah that's almost a quarter mile) once per minute.

They were about 30' from the entrance of the cave. Plus, it was busy dealing with the NPC paladin that's going to come back as an antipaladin because he's mad they left him to fight the evil on his own.

I figured it was a fair trade. :D


Honestly my players would find it insulting if I bailed them out of a situation, but you do have some new people so maybe they won't. I don't have any knowledge of the AP so sorry if this isn't exactly with the theme of the situation, but maybe the demon just stops fighting and offers them an out? A hypothetical would be that the demon just wants to use a body in order to get past the sunlight and into a more populated area, the PC's are given a choice and have to live with the repercussions.


pipedreamsam wrote:
Honestly my players would find it insulting if I bailed them out of a situation

I agree and I prefer to play in games without kid gloves. That said, the AP this encounter happens in was grueling to say the least. After working so hard to keep my PC alive, I did feel a little miffed when he, along with most of the rest of the party was killed in a really one sided fight.

Even so, I hope the GM continues to run the game as written and I'm enjoying it.

Lantern Lodge

Midnight-Gamer wrote:

Our group was nearly TPK'd in the same encounter. We did not have The McGuffin and our Cleric was absent that session. To make matters even worse, our party was way below wealth by level, most of our melee combatants were without magical weapons.

There's more to it, but suffice to say, the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth.

Even at WBL, this AP is very cash-poor. Our barbarian and rogue each have a magic weapon that we've found along the way; not their preferred weapons but they've got them. The sorcerer has Arcane Strike for all his magic-weapon needs; of course, he's also got 10 str damage because he cannot roll two Fort saves vs. disease in a row to save his life. But we sure as heck don't have cold iron magic weapons, and this thing simply can't be hurt without them; the enlarged enraged barbarian MIGHT deal a couple points of damage on a 2H power attack with his +1 heavy pick that we picked up earlier (1d8+1 + 10 str(2H) + 6 powerattack(2H) + 2 bardsong, halved for incorporeality, -10 DR). We have some magic armor (which is really helping us A LOT right now, let me tell you), but we definitely didn't have the cash to get more than masterwork weapons. At level 5, you don't really expect to.

Without align weapon, our current plan is to stab it with magic weapon'd cold iron arrows (which we happen to have a few of). This still sucks pretty bad but at least it beats the DR, so it does reliable (if slow) damage. But this relies on most of the group being, like, alive and able to act in concert, at least a couple of times. Which hasn't yet been the case, because of fear. And even then, we're doing an awesome 1d4 + bonuses (+10/+6 barbarian, +4/+3 rogue, +0 sorcerer b/c of str damage), halved, five times total per round (if we hit every time, which the barbarian will but the rogue and sorcerer won't), while it's doing 2d6 three times per round and never misses.


I see several suggestions on setting the jungle on fire, but I have to think that this wouldn't be easy to accomplish at all. When I think jungle, I think wet and dense, so getting it to burn hot enough to start spreading is going to be pretty tough.


HappyDaze wrote:
I see several suggestions on setting the jungle on fire, but I have to think that this wouldn't be easy to accomplish at all. When I think jungle, I think wet and dense, so getting it to burn hot enough to start spreading is going to be pretty tough.

Clearly you haven't been to magic fantasy jungles, where the air is hot and dry and the ground is littered with matches, which are what the trees shed instead of leaves.

n00b.

/sarcasm

Yeah, I didn't think about the part where the jungle acts like a jungle and, ya know, resists being set on fire...

Sczarni

Damage reduction doesn't apply to magic damage, only to damage dealt by weapons. And I don't remember how being incorporeal interacts, but I'm pretty sure most spells that deal damage aren't as nerfed as you'd expect. Thus, the solution here is to blast. Any spells that deal damage-- fireball, sonic burst, shocking grasp, etc. I don't know how many of those your group has-- a bard only gets one that I can think of, but a draconic sorceror should know a fair number of them.


Silent Saturn wrote:
I'm pretty sure most spells that deal damage aren't as nerfed as you'd expect. Thus, the solution here is to blast. Any spells that deal damage-- fireball, sonic burst, shocking grasp, etc. I don't know how many of those your group has-- a bard only gets one that I can think of, but a draconic sorceror should know a fair number of them.

I have to disagree here. A shadow demon is immune to Cold and Electric damage, and has resist Fire and Acid 10. Something as simple as being a sorcerer of the wrong color dragon can break this. The demon also has SR which requires a 12 to crack for a level 5, that's only a 40% chance of success, and then on top of all of that, the impressive +11 reflex save of the demon. All of this adds up to make blasting probably the worst option available at this point. Blasting outsiders is a bad idea in general, they do not tend to be affected by much outside of raw physical or force damage. A select few may have a vulnerability, but they are the exception not the rule.


I wanna cast Magic Missile!


Also...

prd wrote:
Incorporeal: Creatures with the incorporeal condition do not have a physical body. Incorporeal creatures are immune to all nonmagical attack forms. Incorporeal creatures take half damage (50%) from magic weapons, spells, spell-like effects, and supernatural effects. Incorporeal creatures take full damage from other incorporeal creatures and effects, as well as all force effects.

Blasting incorporeal outsiders isn't just a bad idea, it's a really bad idea.


Now I want the Elf with Spell Penetration to cast Magic Missile!

Sczarni

Okay, I admit it, I didn't actually break out the Bestiary and look up the stats on this thing. I just found it weird that people are talking about fireballs, alchemist's fire, flaming sphere, and the like, and yet under the assumption that the party has this much firepower nobody suggested throwing it directly at the monster.

Although in my admittedly limited experience with shadows (different, I know), they never really chased PCs more than a single room away. Is a shadow demon willing to chase down fleeing PCs, or would he let them get a few hundred yards and consider his territory suitably defended?


Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Shadow demon stat block


I'm sorry to say but it looks like this encounter simply didn't favor your group. I fidn it amusing to think my 5th level paladin even without a magic sword could rip said demon a new orifice from which to spew bile from. Best you can do in these situations is run, or find creative ways of dealing with the problem.

Funny thing is one of my groups met one at level 1. It expressed its regret in not tearing them to shreds due to the terms of its cursed contract. They had five minutes. Needless to say this got them running pretty fast.

Star Voter 2013

Your DM isn't giving you the full information about the item you're carrying, read further if you dare...

Spoiler:
The encounter clearly states if you use the item on a possessed creature it banishes the shadow demon back to the abyss, automatically. This encounter is basically a intelligence check for your party.

A shadow demon is one of the nastier CR7 creatures in the game and basically unfair to run into unprepared. Then again it is almost helpless against prepared characters.


Midnight-Gamer wrote:
pipedreamsam wrote:
Honestly my players would find it insulting if I bailed them out of a situation

I agree and I prefer to play in games without kid gloves. That said, the AP this encounter happens in was grueling to say the least. After working so hard to keep my PC alive, I did feel a little miffed when he, along with most of the rest of the party was killed in a really one sided fight.

Even so, I hope the GM continues to run the game as written and I'm enjoying it.

Can you reveal which AP this is in a spoiler box? You've perked my interest with "grueling." Is the whole AP like that?


Bruunwald wrote:

All I can think is that this is probably why a CR 7 creature should be tackled by a level 7 equivalent party.

(Or a level 6 party with a lot of good stuff.)

No, an equal-CR encounter is a workout, a +2 CR encounter is meant to be a challenging but winnable fight. This shadow demon is TPK in a can.

It wiped our party too. It didn't even need to use Magic Jar, darkness + shadow evocation + melee attacks was plenty. And yeah, i used the McGuffin and blew it (failing to actually touch the thing before it killed me).


The shadow demon encounter is from

Spoiler:
serpent skull.

And it does nothing for the story, it's just a random TPK in the middle of nowhere.

As for the "intelligence test", that's b$!&$$$&. Pixelb*+##ing is bad design*, and pixelb++$*ing in a fight with something that kills a party member most rounds is even worse.

Furtermore, Dispel Evil does not work that way. Failing to use it that way is not in any way failing any meaningful test. Especially since there's ZERO foreshadowing that this thing might work on a shadow demon.

*You know what else is bad design? The Dispel Evil McGuffin. Hey, this spell banishes evil outsiders, so that gives them a fighting chance, right? sounds good, dude, job's done! without taking 30 f~*!ing seconds to check if it actually works. "sounds good, roll the press" was clearly the design philosophy behind Ultimate Combat too.


That woulda been my guess.


The 300 gp seems to be a problem also. That fight assumes access to magic weapons. Even if the save had been made there would have been issues. The monster does not to a lot of damage. Did the GM just roll really high for the damage rolls. I would expect for someone to no longer be afraid by the time the 2nd character was killed since it is only for 10 rounds.

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