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DMDM's Guide to Planar Binding


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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.

Scarab Sages

You left out:

d) The lantern archon continual flame trick: Bind a lantern archon, and use it to cast continual flame on 1000 nails. Sell them "at cost" (50 gp each) to a city as street lanterns. Pocket 50k gold.

There is another step, The preparations. If you are going to make a habit of using planner binding then you should step up a specially prepared summoning room for it.

Some where out of the way with no distinguishing features to allow the bound to know where it is.
I like filling the place with illusionary walls. You can see though them the bound can't (unless it has true sight). Also the place should have a permeant mages sanctum and other things to prevent scrying and divination.

There should be a bunch of traps ready and primed to destroy the bound in case it gives you any trouble.

Such as a few ballistas aimed and primed. A Giant rock sepended above the circle and a trap door into acid or holy water. That sort of thing.

One more thing. You want the place to be safe from outside interference considering how easy it is to disturb a circle from the outside you really don't want to be disturbed.

Lastly you need an escape route in case of unforeseen cases (like your DM being a jerk). Maybe the bound was in the middle of tea with something powerfull that can track it down and come for you.

This can all be summed up with the Moto Safe, Secret, Secure

One more thing. You want the place to be safe from outside interference considering how easy it is to disturb a circle from the outside you really don't want to be disturbed.

A lot of this is overkill for most bindings, but sense most DM's don't like planner binding it is better to be safe then sorry.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
PSusac wrote:

d) The lantern archon continual flame trick: Bind a lantern archon, and use it to cast continual flame on 1000 nails. Sell them "at cost" (50 gp each) to a city as street lanterns. Pocket 50k gold.

Cheesetastic! I'll add it.

Doug M.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
fictionfan wrote:
There is another step, The preparations. If you are going to make a habit of using planner binding then you should step up a specially prepared summoning room for it.

Er... I have a whole paragraph discussing the room.

I don't go as far as you do, because I think some of this stuff is overkill. Let's see: Somewhere out of the way, check, agree. Safe from outside interference, absolutely. Illusionary walls, not sure I see the point? And note that most outsiders have great Will saves, and a lot of the more powerful ones have True Seeing.

Permanent Mage's Sanctum, sure why not if you can afford the 12,500 gp price tag. I'd say Forbiddance would be a higher priority, and Dimensional Lock if you're high enough level and can find some way to suppress the whole shimmering emerald barrier business.

Traps, eh -- the higher level you get, the less effective most traps are going to be. An outsider with 300 hp, AC 30 and DR 15 isn't going to care about being hit by ballistas, and it'll just teleport away from acid or holy water. Also, if you're investing this much money in a bunch of death traps, you're ending up in the same bad situation as your cousin the cleric who casts Planar Ally -- viz., you're both spending a lot of money to gain the aid of outsiders. This is why I say Never Cast Alone: most of the time, you're better off having other party members or a cohort standing by. It gives you a good mix of tactical responses, and is also much cheaper.

Doug M.

Im soonly going to write something but it is late... So... Yeah

Scarab Sages

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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
PSusac wrote:

d) The lantern archon continual flame trick: Bind a lantern archon, and use it to cast continual flame on 1000 nails. Sell them "at cost" (50 gp each) to a city as street lanterns. Pocket 50k gold.

Cheesetastic! I'll add it.

Doug M.

Glad you like it. Also, note that lantern archon's aren't very clever (but they ARE very bright! ;-P), so you might even be able to convince them to cooperate on the grounds of: It will only take a couple of hours (600 rounds of casting per hour), and you can explain that by lighting the city, you are helping to reduce crime.

"Come on little guy, it'll just take a couple hours of your time, and think of all the poor orphaned children who will be able to live more safely because of your help! Why, you'll be bringing light into the lives of thousands of people!"

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Okay, I'm debating whether to add a short section on building a character around Planar Binding. There'd be some overlap with my Diabolist posts.

(Short version: play a witch or wizard with decent Cha, or a sorceror if you're starting at high levels. Play an elf or human or a race that dumps neither Int nor Cha. Take Greater Spell Penetration.)

Doug M.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
Okay, I'm debating whether to add a short section on building a character around Planar Binding.

If you do, can I recommend a fun angle? Consider binding night hags. Not only can they cast amazing at-will 9th-level spell-like powers (soul bind, etherealness), but if you bind three you can have them form a coven and gain even more incredibly powerful spell-like abilities: such as veil, forcecage and, most notably, mind blank. (Mind blank! At will!)

It’s also worth mentioning that a witch with the coven hex or an accursed bloodline sorcerer needs only two bound hags, and can use her caster level and charisma to determine the effects of her coven’s spells.

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Emmit Svenson wrote:

If you do, can I recommend a fun angle? Consider binding night hags. Not only can they cast amazing at-will 9th-level spell-like powers (soul bind, etherealness), but if you bind three you can have them form a coven and gain even more incredibly powerful spell-like abilities: such as veil, forcecage and, most notably, mind blank. (Mind blank! At will!)

Emmit, I like the cut of your jib. This is a really clever idea. Well done.

I do see some issues. First, by the time you're able to cast Planar Binding, you'll be 11th or 12th level. (And, really, you should be at least 12th level before you call three CR 9 creatures. That's a CR 12 encounter, meaning you could be in real trouble if they turned on you.) At that point in your career, the hags' SLAs are nice but not game-changing. Veil and Forcecage, while pretty sweet, are not overwhelmingly powerful for a caster who's already 12th level or more. And while Mind Blank is a fine 8th level spell, it's situational... although, sure, it's definitely good for a Diabolist or planar binder character! Second, for a CR 9 creature, night hags are quite difficult to bind. They have good Will saves, high Cha, and really high SR (24). And third, night hags are creepy, murderous loners... exactly the sort of creatures who would come back to stalk you afterwards.

But subject to those caveats, this is just a cool idea.


It’s also worth mentioning that a witch with the coven hex or an accursed bloodline sorcerer needs only two bound hags, and can use her caster level and charisma to determine the effects of her coven’s spells.

It doesn't have to be you, either -- it can be your cohort, another party member, or just some dopey low-level NPC. "Hey, kid, you want some serious arcane power?" If at the end of their service the hags get to tear the NPC apart and claim her soul, they may be a bit less inclined to bear a grudge against you.

Doug M.

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Just noticed the Ember Weaver psychopomp was published in the not very well known Monster Summoner handbook.

Check out this ability.


Eerie Radiance (Su)

As a standard action, an ember weaver can wreath itself in an aura of cinders similar to dancing lights (CL 11th). Any living or dead creature within 300 feet with line of sight to the dancing embers must succeed at a DC 19 Will save or else any protections or immunities it has against charm, fear, and mind-affecting effects are suppressed for as long as the ember weaver uses a free action to maintain the effect each round and for 1 round thereafter. Once a creature succeeds at this saving throw, it can't be affected by an eerie radiance for 24 hours. The light has no effect on psychopomps, creatures that can't see, and creatures the ember weaver chooses to exclude. This is a sight-based abjuration effect.

This is a 11 HD character, so Planar Binding lets you grab it and remove mind affecting immunity from anything (except constructs) that has mind affecting and fails the DC 19 Will save. If you're an Enchanter you need this to follow you around everywhere, although it probably won't be happy if you try to make long term friends with undead.

It's also not clear whether the immunity comes back and overrules any existing spells once your pet stops spending the free action to maintain. I'd say yes, which effectively limits this to short term combat and interrogation, not long term enslavement. I guess a GM could also rule that you still can't effect a creature without a mind. Still pretty damn amazing.

It also has at will Suggestion, so it can be turned loose to order around anything immune to mind affecting on its own.

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Sorry for the necro, but for those googling this subject I want to note the Crucidaemon is a great choice because it can spam three free Greater Glyph of Wardings per day, and each can link any 6th level or below spell from the Cleric or Wizard list. Get ahold of one of these and you've got an unlimited amount of magical traps to put on things with a wide variety of spell effects and pretty high DCs to spot and disable (33) and decent to resist (25).

PSusac wrote:

You left out:

d) The lantern archon continual flame trick: Bind a lantern archon, and use it to cast continual flame on 1000 nails. Sell them "at cost" (50 gp each) to a city as street lanterns. Pocket 50k gold.

This is a necro, but a very good question.

In a setting where this is possible, but hasn't been done, ask why? Not to imply that I know the answer, because I don't. Rather, I'd like to think up a reason better than "the dev team didn't think of it." Hopefully, it won't be a reason that puts the kibosh on this trick.

Also, do give your little ball of light a cut of the take. You'll make bank even if you split it evenly, and unlike fiends they have friends. You call one that works at the Palace of Delectation, for example, and you can be in a very bad or very good situation depending on how you treat them.

IMO, some random thoughts;
- the law of supply and demand. If you flood the market prices drop.
- the thieves guild won't like it, who do you think made all the streets shadowy?
- the wizards guild won't like it. You are making magic look too easy.
- the vast majority of people don't have 50gp to spend on a light.

Valandil Ancalime wrote:

IMO, some random thoughts;

- the law of supply and demand. If you flood the market prices drop.

If market economics exist in your setting, why the heck is the price of everburning torches 100gp in the first place?

Forget planar binding, Summon Monstrer III gets you a lantern archon for at least 5 rounds a casting, no questions asked.

So any 5+ cleric(has to be at least Neutral), wizard or summoner can do it for free, as many times he wants.

By comparison, to actually cast continual flame, you need to be a wizard 3 or cleric 5.

Continual Flame has a 50 gp value material component; Summon Monster blocks the summoned creature from using spell-like abilities which duplicate such a spell. Lesser Planar Binding doesn't have that wording so it's OK, but Summon Monster for a lantern archon won't work.

Aww. Still, Lesser Planar Binding is a thing, so if your setting has 9th level wizards, the question persists:

Given the existence of effectively free Everburning Torches, and the existence of market economics, how is the price for Everburning Torches 100gp?

Are there no 9th level wizards around to cast lesser planar binding?

Are they stupid?

Is there seriously a De Beers style mafia around, policing the price of Everburning Torches?

5th level spell slots would have to be insanely scarce compared to 3rd level spell slots for this to make anything that remotely approaches sense.

The Lamplighter's Guild hires spellcasters to go around casting dispel magic on everburning torches?

tonyz wrote:
The Lamplighter's Guild hires spellcasters to go around casting dispel magic on everburning torches?

That's the sort of thing that gets you arrested for destruction of property in any sort of civilized society.

Although I guess if the local government was evil or incompetent, that could work.

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Here's an idea for powerful bound outsiders: use Arcana Theft to acquire long lasting high level buffs.

Arcana Theft wrote:
This spell functions as a targeted dispel magic spell, except it only affects creatures and it requires a melee touch attack. If the melee touch attack is successful and the spell successfully dispels one spell affecting the target, that spell is instead transferred to you, treating you as the original target. You do not receive a new saving throw or spell resistance check against this spell and must accept its affects even if they are not beneficial. This does not alter the spell’s duration; for example, if the spell only has 4 rounds of duration remaining when it is stolen, it only affects you for 4 rounds. If the spell or effect has a duration of permanent, its duration continues for 1 hour per caster level of the original caster, after which it ends. The stolen spell does not revert to the original target.

Since lots of outsiders have constant SLAs (permanent unless dispelled, then restorable with a swift action), a side benefit of having them around is that you can borrow those if you can reliably make the dispel check.

The obvious issue is that this is only on the Magus (4th level) and Psychic (5th level) spell lists, but Psychics can do planar binding/ally, too. Also an option for a samsaran wizard build who borrows some psychic spells with that racial ability.

The most obvious spell targets for this are something like True Seeing, Air Walk, or Unholy Aura from a creature in the CR 14-17 range. Weaker CLs would be desirable for higher dispel chances, a few hours less on the duration doesn't matter as much.

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Would Thaumaturgic Circle be acceptable in a binding? I'm assuming so, since it seems that the whole point of it is to get around the weird alignment issues of casting an evil spell to call a good outsider. But it's nice to get other opinions.

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Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
[It is] an option for a samsaran wizard build who borrows some psychic spells with that racial ability.

But doesn't that ability only work for caster classes of the same type? Psychic are psychics, not arcane. If you leech off of magus, that would be fine.

Douglas, Meshakhad, and I did make note of a Cleric archetype that makes binding a breeze: the Elder Mythos Cultist trades wisdom for charisma as its main casting stat, but loses a couple of things as well, such as domain selection. One of these domain selections, however, is Void, which offers the planar binding spells. With this Archetype, the cleric can have a wider array of spells than the sorceror and better charisma than the wizard.

Plus, Elder Mythos Cultists also have access to a trait that allows them to get past their alignment restriction on spells called Worthless Pawn. This can help them make magic circles of any kind, at the cost of damaging what is now a dump stat.

Also, Douglas made a guide on the Blackfire Adept, which is a sub-optimal PrC based around calling outsiders. You lose a lot for taking the PrC, such as full caster progression, but you gain a couple of things, mainly raises to your HD calling limit on certain evil outsiders. However, with the feat Prestigious Spellcaster, you can render that a moot point and gain rare bonuses to your calling abilities.

Now, with that PrC in mind, plus the Caller's Feather and Augment Calling, what can you call with 24 HD? Big things such as an Iavathos Qlippoth or an Obiscidaemon come to mind, or perhaps even Zelishkar if your DM will allow it, but there are also multiple smaller entities you can call into the material plane... any suggestion?

Just a note on the 'Duration,' there are clear examples of bound outsiders being forced into service for much longer than 1 day/level. It's just open-ended tasks that have their duration cut short. Things like "Serve as my bodyguard until you have killed 512 legitimate assailants" or "Bring me *Insert arbitrary magic item*!" could get an outsider to have to serve for years, if not more. It's kind of like geas, in that regard.

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Δaedalus wrote:
Just a note on the 'Duration,' there are clear examples of bound outsiders being forced into service for much longer than 1 day/level. It's just open-ended tasks that have their duration cut short. Things like "Serve as my bodyguard until you have killed 512 legitimate assailants" or "Bring me *Insert arbitrary magic item*!" could get an outsider to have to serve for years, if not more. It's kind of like geas, in that regard.

Yeah, I've given that a lot of thought. I'm reluctantly inclined to think that I need to amend the Guide. I don't like it because while I love the idea of Planar Binding, and the fidgety mechanics of it in PF are great too, the two things that are problematic are that (1) it's vague and unclear, and (2) it's abusable and OP. And this just makes both those worse. "Any duration, as long as the task is 'reasonable' -- agh, that gets super murky'.

But, ironically, it's the most reasonable interpretation of RAW. So I should go back and put it in.

Doug M.

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