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Crowdsource: New Diabolical Boons from the Book of the Damned


Advice

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Book of the Damned dropped last week, and it includes a whole gaggle of new fiendish boons and obediences. My particular interest is in the diabolical ones. As some of you may recall, I wrote the ever-growing Guide to the Diabolist a while back. BotD amended and somewhat nerfed the Diabolist; I'm trying to work out whether it's still worth playing. It now requires the Fiendish Obedience feat and the worship of an archdevil, duke of Hell, or malebranche.

Now, there are about fifteen of these guys (depends on whether you count the Night Queens -- that's a little unclear) and each one has an Obedience and an initial benefit, followed by nine boons each -- three apiece for Evangelist, Exalted, and Sentinel. So there's a bit of work involved, which is why I'm asking for crowdsource help. Obviously you need a copy of BotD on hand, but the thing seems to be selling like hotcakes so that shouldn't be an issue. I would suggest cut and pasting the following template:

Obedience: Easy, Tricky, or Ugh. BotD seems to have adjusted a lot of the devilish obedience in the direction of Easy, which is nice.

Benefit: Weak, Meh, Okay, Good, or Excellent. Most seem to be Meh or Okay with an occasional Good.

Evangelist Boons: I. The first set of boons. These always follow the same pattern: three 1st level spells, or two 2nd level, or one third. A Diabolist would get these at 10th level, so they're generally never going to be "excellent". "Good" would be handy utility spells that are situationally useful but that you wouldn't normally have memorized or prepared. II. A Diabolist would be 13th level when these come into play, so you have to take these in that context -- i.e., "throw a 5th level spell once/day as a SLA" is not that big a deal for a 13th level caster. IMO these are all over the board from "poor" to "excellent". III. The third set of boons. Most of these seem good, but again, context -- you're 16th level, so they'd better be pretty darn good.

A couple of guidelines for evaluating boons: watch for things that require a standard action, because then you want to compare it to other things that a 13th or 16th level PC could do with that standard. Watch for stuff that allows saves, especially saves built off a stat that might not be the PC's primary stat.

Exalted Boons: Same as above.

Sentinel Boons: Same as above.

Conclusion: Which is best, and any other comments.

I'll start the ball rolling. Here are the first two, Ardad Lili and Asmodeus.


Ardad Lili

Obedience: Easy. Sing a song, basically. I might require ranks in Perform and/or Bluff to avoid getting in trouble, but under RAW this is pretty straightforward.

Benefit: +4 against sonic stuff. Meh.

Evangelist Boons: I. Three thematic but not particularly powerful spells. Meh. II. Project Image as a SLA. Good. III. Soul Bind, a 9th level spell, once/day as a SLA without the material component cost? Excellent!

Exalted Boons: I. Slow is actually a decent bonus spell so this is good. II. Mass Suggestion, but in a situational way that nerfs it. (And honestly, by 13th level how worried are you about being accused of stuff?) Flavorful, but poor to meh. III. Wail of the Banshee is actually one of the weaker 9th level spells: small radius, SR applies, and a simple Fort save completely negates it. Meh.

Sentinel Boons: I. Three weak, situational spells. Poor. II. Mass Inflict Serious Wounds: meh. III. A save-or-suck effect that does very little damage for this level; it's basically an area Slow spell, but allowing a Fort save on your Wis modifier. At 16th level you almost certainly have better things to do with a standard action. Meh if you're a Wis-based character, otherwise poor.

Conclusion: Evangelist is the obvious choice here. Overall Ardad Lili is so-so. If you want a thematic choice for a character based on seduction and trickery, and you're planning to play past 16th level, she rises to okay.

Asmodeus

Obedience: Easy if you have a familiar, a bit tricky otherwise. It does say "preferably sentient and unwilling", which implies that under RAW you could use an animal or a willing friend in a pinch.

Benefit: +4 against fire. Fire is one of the most common attacks in the game. This is good.

Evangelist Boons: I. Three decent and thematic spells. Good. II. Wait, what? You get a bonus feat if you're an Inquisitor; everyone else gets +4 on Survival rolls to track *one* sort of creature? For our 13th level boon? This is unworthy of the Dark Lord. Poor. III. You get to use Resounding Blow once/day but it's nerfed unless you have the judgment or smite ability and Resounding Blow is a crap spell to begin with. Ugh. Poor.

Exalted Boons: I. Three thematic spells. Darkness and Deeper Darkness have tactical uses but at levels 10+ you'll usually have better things to do with a standard. Meh. II. Darkvision. This would be better if Paizo wasn't giving out darkvision to every other new PC race. Letting it see through your own darkness is a nice touch but it's still meh. III. Delayed Blast Fireball, except it does hellfire damage (half fire, half evil) instead of normal flames. If you're a Diabolist you can do this already, and getting a 7th level spell at 16th level is nothing to get excited about. Meh.

Sentinel Boons: I. Protection from Good as a SLA is actually pretty nice. Good if you're regularly facing good-aligned opponents, otherwise okay. II. "Three times per day, you can attempt a feint as a swift action, with a +4 profane bonus on your Bluff check." This is okay if you're a combat character, but by 13th level most characters who are going to feint regularly have already invested in feinting. Okay if you're melee or rogue, but you're almost certainly not. Diabolists and other casters can use this to improve their chances of hitting with attack-roll spells, so meh for them. III. You gain fire resistance 10 and a +4 profane bonus on saving throws against poison. At 16th level this is meh.

Conclusion: All I can conclude here is that the Lord of Hell wants his servants to struggle. None of these are good, and Evangelist is downright embarrassing. I guess Sentinel is the least bad, but on the whole I think Asmodeus is trying to tell you something, and it isn't "welcome, dear minion".

Doug M.


Looking at the guide, I'll seriously consider rethinking Otherworldly Kimono supposedly being weaker than Robe of the Archmagi. A +4 bonus on caster level checks is literally insane. Beating SR? Caster Level Check. Dispel Magic? Caster Level Check. Caster Level Checks are basically the bread and butter of a caster. The fact that you get a free Maze spell (no save btw) that gives you a further +2 on saves and caster level checks is literally just a bonus.

As for the Robe, SR 18 is incredibly bad and doesn't scale at all compared to the earliest level you can possibly buy it. Furthermore, SR is generally bad mainly since the people who will have to deal with it the most are friendly casters trying to cast harmless spells on you. Or, you know, attempting to cast spells on yourself (but to be fair, I do think SR has a clause about this). Basically, any caster you'd want SR against will easily ignore SR 18 at the time you can buy it.

As for the Armor Bonus, not only is Mage Armor just -1 AC, but you can always just buy a +5 Haramaki, which not only grants +6 AC, but can be enhanced further with armor special abilities, like Determination.

So generally, Otherworldly Kimono >> Robe of the Archmagi from a pure optimization standpoint.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Possibly related to this endeavor, have you seen the Damned Disciple and Damned Soldier feats from this book as well?


Kaouse wrote:
the people who will have to deal with it the most are friendly casters trying to cast harmless spells on you. Or, you know, attempting to cast spells on yourself (but to be fair, I do think SR has a clause about this).

There's a clause about it. As to SR 18 being useless, a lot of the creatures you'd call as a Diabolist have surprisingly low caster levels on their SLAs.

Doug M.


Baalzebul

Obedience: Slightly yucky but in no way difficult, and let's face it -- if you're not squeamish, you can do this anywhere, any time, even in a jail cell. Easy.

Benefit: +4 against mind-affecting affects? The game is full of these. This is Good.

Evangelist Boons: I. Glibness is the go-to spell here. Meh if you haven't invested in Bluff, Good if you have. II. Wait, a +20 untyped bonus to Intimidate checks, 3+Wis mod times/day? THAT IS AMAZING. You could build your character around and towards this. Excellent! III. Communal Mind Blank as an SLA once/day. Note that the +8 from Mind Blank stacks with the +4 you already have. That said, Mind Blank is not one of the more powerful 9th level spells, and the shortish duration on Communal Mind Blank makes it pointless unless you know you're going into a nest of vampires or something. Okay.

Exalted Boons: I. "Decompose Corpse"? really? Haunting Mists is the only non-suck spell here and it's pretty situational. Poor. II. Summon a CR 10 swarm as a standard once/day. This is okay when you get it, rapidly declining to pointless as high level characters have better things to do with a standard. Nicely thematic, but that doesn't help when you're facing an angry CR 16 boss. III. As a standard action, target one living creature within 60 feet. Will save off Wisdom or it takes no action for a round; second Will save or it takes d6/damage per your level. Two effects mean you have a decent chance of *something* happening, but building the save off Wis means this is Meh unless you're a Wis-based caster, in which case it's okay. (As always, remember you have to compare this to other things a 16+ level character could do with a standard.)

Sentinel Boons: I.Three so-so spells. Meh II. Suck-or-suck area debuff as a once/day standard. Would be good if it weren't 30' centered on you, but it is, so it's merely okay. III. Storm Of Vengeance once/day. Honestly, Storm of Vengeance is not such a great 9th level spell -- it's slow and tactically clumsy, really not much use unless you're fighting an army -- but it's so thematic and so awesome that this is one of the rare cases where I'll let the cool factor trump mechanics: Good.

Conclusion: Don't bother with Exalted, Sentinel is okay, and Evangelist... +20 untyped bonus to Intimidate many times per day? That's just great. Building a Diabolist or other caster towards being an Intimidation monkey is a little tricky but by no means impossible. Want minions cowering in fear at the mere mention of your name? Go with Baalzebul.


Mahathallah has the best benefit in the game. It's pretty much 2.8 feats in one and would be worth it without any boons (which aren't that great).


Xenocrat wrote:
Mahathallah has the best benefit in the game. It's pretty much 2.8 feats in one and would be worth it without any boons (which aren't that great).

Yeah, good point. And her Obedience isn't very hard either. The only downside is that Diabolists don't tend to be too focused on illusions...

Doug M.


Barbatos

Obedience: Easy.

Benefit: +4 on three sorts of Knowledge rolls related to evil planes, faiths, or magic. This is meh unless your DM agrees that this bonus would apply to researching the True Names of devils (I would), in which case it's good for a Diabolist.

Evangelist Boons: I. Three meh spells. Meh. II. Powerful touch attack once/day, with a Fort save built off Cha. Paizo has this thing about giving touch attacks to casters... anyway, at least it's a pretty good touch attack, and scales up to 15th level. Okay if you're a Cha-based caster, otherwise Meh. III. Suck-or-suck paralysis effect, once/day, standard, but at least it has a decent range (100 feet). Okay.

Exalted Boons: I. Two lame spells and Fox's Cunning. Okay if you're an Int-based caster, otherwise Poor. II. A pretty good suck-or-suck effect, once/day as a standard. Good. III. Frightful Aspect once/day, plus darkvision and a bite attack while it lasts. Thematic and fun, but come on -- at 16th level you are not wading into melee combat with CR 15+ opponents even if you do get +6 Str and +6 AC. You have people for that. Poor.

Sentinel Boons: I. SLAs don't cost money, so Glyph of Warding as a SLA is actually okay. By the time you're higher level it'll be pretty pointless, but for a few levels you can have fun putting glyphs all over your living quarters. Meh. II. Dismissal 3x/day as an SLA, and you get Protection from Good/Evil as you cast it. This would be great if Dismissal weren't such a crap spell -- it's an anti-outsider spell that allows SR and then a Will save, which is the one save most outsiders are really good at. You'll usually have better things to do with a standards. Still, good for dealing with lesser outsiders. Okay. III. Gate once/day, either for planar travel or to call a pit fiend, and you don't have to pay the up-front 10,000 gp cost. You can't control it but it's RAW that it will "tend to gladly obey". This is a bit blurry, but the planar travel alone makes this Okay, and unless your DM is a real bastard I'd call this Good.

Conclusion: Barbatos is a relatively balanced master, with nothing horrible and nothing excellent. A Diabolist would probably go with the highly thematic Sentinel track, but the other two are at least worth a look.


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Mahathallah has the best benefit in the game. It's pretty much 2.8 feats in one and would be worth it without any boons (which aren't that great).

Yeah, good point. And her Obedience isn't very hard either. The only downside is that Diabolists don't tend to be too focused on illusions...

Doug M.

...

If you sell your soul to the Dowager of Illusions, you're going to be pretty focused on illusions. Just means you're entering the PrC through Sorcerer, Wizard, Arcanist, or Psychic, or you're grabbing the feat by itself instead of 2.8 other feats.


Belial

Obedience: Easy.

Benefit: +4 vs charm spells and effects. Meh.

Evangelist Boons: I. Erase 3x/day? Really? Well, Acute Senses if you want to turn a party member or minion into a +20 Perception detect-o-beast, or Nondetection, which you would cast daily as a utility spell. Okay. II. 60' range emotion attack that's basically Hold Person plus a little damage, and only affects creatures with fewer hit dice than you. Sorry, but for a 13+ level character this is just weaksauce. Poor. III. Anyone who touches you (natural weapon, unarmed strike, touch attack) takes 4d6 of bleed damage. Not bad, but doesn't include weapon attacks, and let's face it -- at level 16+, most of your opponents aren't going to blink at 4d6 damage even if it is bleed. Okay.

Exalted Boons: I. Three decent spells. Good. II. Super thematic ability that is completely useless. (Seriously, when and how would you use this?) Poor. III. Mass Hold Monster once/day. Problem is, MHM is one of the weaker 9th level spells, nerfed by the "no two more than 30' apart" requirement. Meh.

Sentinel Boons: I. Three decent spells. Good. II. You can pretend to be any outsider -- ANY outsider -- and you gain its fly speed, resistances and immunities. Guys: there are outsiders that are immune to pretty much everything. Walk into the red dragon's lair as a fire-immune devil, or... have you looked at the Inevitable subtype? Those guys are "immune to death effects, disease, mind-affecting effects, necromancy effects, paralysis, poison, sleep, stun, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects, or is harmless)." The kami subtype is almost as bad: "bleed, mind-affecting effects, petrification, and polymorph effects" plus Resist acid 10, electricity 10, fire 10. (And, yup, it says "any outsider" , so native outsiders like the kami are totally on the table.) And you can *swap around* your chosen outsider three times per day. This is delightfully abusable! Excellent. III. For rounds/day equal to your level, you gain DR 15/good and silver, immunity to fire and poison, SR equal to 11 plus your Hit Dice, and fast healing 5. At 16th level this is not amazing, but it's pretty solid. Good.

Conclusion: The Sentinel Path is just clearly superior. That second boon! This isn't quite game-breaking, but it's definitely the sort of thing that could make your DM sit up and sweat a bit. You can make yourself immune to fire, cold, acid, critical hits, curses, bleed effects, mind-affecting effects, death effects, petrification, polymorph... just skim the monster subtypes and let your imagination roam free. And that's before we throw in the interesting RP aspects of pretending to be an angel or whatever. That requires you to invest strongly in Bluff for best value, but: totally worth it. Getting Fly three times/day on top is just gravy.


QuidEst wrote:


If you sell your soul to the Dowager of Illusions, you're going to be pretty focused on illusions. Just means you're entering the PrC through Sorcerer, Wizard, Arcanist, or Psychic, or you're grabbing the feat by itself instead of 2.8 other feats.

Sure. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely a good one -- mechanically, yup, probably the best. I'm just looking at this from the particular POV of a Diabolist, which is a class that tends to spend a lot of time around intelligent outsiders with high Will saves and Sense Motive. That said, Diabolists also tend to be feat-starved, so getting 2+ feats for the price of one is pretty sweet.

Doug M.


Dispater

Obedience: Easy.

Benefit: 2 profane bonus on Bluff checks as well as a +2 profane bonus on Diplomacy and Knowledge (nobility) checks when among nobles or in a courtly setting. Well, Bluff is a very useful skill but I can't rate this higher than Meh unless you're spending a lot of time in a courtly setting, in which case it's Okay.

Evangelist Boons: I. Three decent spells, with Suggestion being your go-to. Okay. II. Nerfed version of Maze as a touch attack. Meh. III. Flesh to Stone plus a bunch of damage. Okay if you're a Cha-based caster, otherwise Meh.

Exalted Boons: I. Three so-so spells. Okay. II. True Seeing, plus this: "once per day while this ability is active, when you use it to see a creature that is invisible or under a blur or displacement effect, you can invoke the Iron Lord’s unholy power to strike fear into its heart as a swift action, giving it the shaken condition for a number of rounds equal to your Hit Dice and removing the blur, displacement, or invisibility effect. There is no saving throw for this secondary effect, and it is a fear effect." That is awesome. Even if it's pretty situational, it still raises this from okay to Good. III. Mass Charm Monster as a SLA. Okay.

Sentinel Boons: I. Two decent buffs. Okay. II. For a number of rounds equal to half your Hit Dice, add a bonus equal to half your Hit Dice on attack and damage rolls against one target, and your attacks ignore the target’s DR and energy resistance. You get this as a swift 3x/day. For a Diabolist, this is only going to be relevant with attack-roll spells. In the unlikely event of a melee character taking this, it's Good; for a full caster, it's Meh. III. Forcecage as a SLA twice/day. Good if you're a Cha-based caster, otherwise Okay. (Note that Diabolists worry a lot about facing outsiders, and most outsiders have weak Reflex saves. So that bumps this up a bit.)

Conclusion: For your typical Diabolist the Exalted path is probably the way to go, but Sentinel doesn't suck -- you throw buffs on your minions with the first boon, and have a couple of attack-roll spells prepped for the second.


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
QuidEst wrote:


If you sell your soul to the Dowager of Illusions, you're going to be pretty focused on illusions. Just means you're entering the PrC through Sorcerer, Wizard, Arcanist, or Psychic, or you're grabbing the feat by itself instead of 2.8 other feats.

Sure. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely a good one -- mechanically, yup, probably the best. I'm just looking at this from the particular POV of a Diabolist, which is a class that tends to spend a lot of time around intelligent outsiders with high Will saves and Sense Motive. That said, Diabolists also tend to be feat-starved, so getting 2+ feats for the price of one is pretty sweet.

Doug M.

You seem to have a big focus on building to use stuff against devils (recommending robe of the archmagi over the otherworldly kimono, for instance). That's one approach, certainly, but a diabolist can build around something else (like being devilish themselves) and just spare a couple emergency spells for dealing with the devils that managed to work too big of a loophole into the arrangement.


..okay, that's six down and, what, nine to go?

Anyone else who wants to jump in with comments feel free. Doesn't have to be a full writeup -- stuff you want to point out, anything you think I've missed.

Doug M.


QuidEst wrote:
You seem to have a big focus on building to use stuff against devils .

That's a fair point; I do emphasize facing off against outsiders generally and devils in particular.

Quote:
That's one approach, certainly, but a diabolist can build around something else (like being devilish themselves) and just spare a couple emergency spells for dealing with the devils that managed to work too big of a loophole into the arrangement.

The problem with devils is that they're smart (especially at higher levels), have a bunch of skills, and have SR. So you can't just say "oh I'll use Dismissal" or some such. If you haven't built to overcome SR and/or crank up your save DCs, Dismissal is going to bounce right off. Put another way, if you're going to deal with devils (and other intelligent, powerful outsiders) on a regular basis, it really affects your whole build philosophy.

Doug M.


Doloras

Obedience: Easy.

Benefit: +4 profane bonus on saving throws to resist pain effects and effects that would cause the nauseated condition. There aren't that many of these. Meh.

Evangelist Boons*: I. Two decent spells; Owl's Wisdom if you're a Wis-based caster, otherwise Dispel Magic. II. Sequester as a SLA. Sequester is a super situational spell, basically used to hide an item or person for days/level. Poor. III. Etherealness, which is actually a pretty good 9th level utility spell. Good.

*There appears to be a typo here, with Evangelist and Exalted being swapped.

Exalted Boons: I. Nondetection is an okay utility spell. Okay. II. A save-or-suck effect building off Charisma, but it only affects creatures that have already been affected by some other emotion or mind-affecting affect, making it annoyingly situational. Meh if you're a Cha-based caster, otherwise Poor. III. Mass Suffocation as a SLA. This should be a good spell, but it's nerfed by the fact that (1) it allows SR, and at this level almost everything you face has SR; and (2) it usually takes a couple of rounds to really get going, and at this level too many combats are rocket-tag. So, Meh.

Sentinel Boons: I. Two useless spells and one so-so buff you could throw on a minion in advance of combat. Poor. II. Harm as a SLA 3x/day. This would be fine if Harm weren't a touch spell. Good if you're a melee type, otherwise Meh. III. Wait, what? You get a burst attack with a 30' radius, centered anywhere within 100'... and creatures in that radius are seized by hellish chains and immobilized for rounds/level, and can't fly or teleport way. If a target makes a Reflex save, it is still immobilized for half the duration. And if it fails, it takes "2d6 points of piercing damage and 4d6 points of fire damage per round as blazing, hellish needles stab into the exposed portions of their bodies". No damage cap. So, if a creature doesn't have fire immunity or resistance, it will take 6d6 of damage times your level, which at 16th level is 336 points of damage. That's on top of all the damage you can pour into it while it's immobilized. Hell, even if it makes its save, "immobilized for 8 rounds" probably means it's dead anyway. This is Excellent.

Conclusion: The third Sentinel bonus is really good, but you have to wait until 16th level, and most campaigns are long over by then. Take it if you know it will be a high level campaign. Otherwise, Doloras isn't really one of the mechanically compelling choices.


Elseth

Obedience: Easy.

Benefit: +1 profane bonus to attacks against a single type of creature, chosen each time you perform this obedience. If you choose humanoids or outsiders, you must choose an associated subtype. It does say "attack", not melee attack, so it would apply to attack-roll spells. This is Good for melee types, Okay for Diabolists and other casters.

Evangelist Boons: I. Two junk spells and Death Knell. Death Knell basically lets you gain +1 ECL for a couple of hours after killing something. Okay. II. Area attack that does 6d6 points of damage and staggers opponents on a failed Reflex save. The fact that it targets Reflex keeps this from being completely worthless, but you'll still usually have better things to do with a standard at level 13+. Meh if you're a Cha-based caster, otherwise Poor. III. Weird once/day. Meh.

Exalted Boons: I. Two junk spells and Fireball. Meh. II.Scouring Winds once/day. Scouring Winds is a crap spell. Poor. III. Summon five erinyes once/day. Five CR 8 creatures are roughly CR 12, so at level 16+ this is nothing to get excited about, and other than True Seeing they don't have a lot of useful SLAs. Meh.

Sentinel Boons: I. Three combat spells. Okay for a melee character, otherwise Poor. II. 3x/day, you get 8d6 extra damage when you "successfully strike an enemy". Does "strike" include spell attacks? If yes, than this is Okay. Otherwise, it's Okay for melee types, Poor for everyone else. III. Ride the Lightning as a SLA. This is actually a mechanically weakish spell, but it is partially redeemed by the cool factor. Okay.

Conclusion: Ehhh... Elseth doesn't really have much to offer a Diabolist in particular, and in general she's one of the less useful patrons. I could see a LE melee character taking the Sentinel path, but otherwise don't bother.


Geryon

Obedience: Easy.

Benefit: +4 profane bonus on saving throws to disbelieve illusions. Meh.

Evangelist: I. Two junk spells and Augury, which is very occasionally useful. Meh. II. Dictum is a good spell! And it scales with level and is actually a better dismissal spell than Dismissal. Good. III. Slightly modified form of Insanity, save off Cha. Meh if you're a Cha-based caster, otherwise Poor.

Exalted: I. Three junk spells. Poor. II. A pretty good group buff! As a move action, "grant yourself and up to four other creatures within 30 feet a +4 profane bonus on ability checks, attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks... You can maintain these bonuses as a free action for up to 1 round per Hit Die; These rounds need not be consecutive, but the duration must be used in 1-round increments." Your party will love you for this. Good. III. 3x/day as a standard: If the target fails a Cha-based Will save, s/he loses all access to faith-based spells for rounds/your level. This is devastating if you're facing a near-level cleric or oracle and can pull it off, but it uses a standard and is just so damn situational. You could build a damn fun NPC with this, but how often does your PC fight enemies who are clerics and oracles? Meh if you're a Cha-based caster, otherwise Poor.

Sentinel: I. Two junk spells and Greater Magic Fang. Are you planning to send your imp familiar into combat? I didn't think so. Poor. II. Vortex as a SLA once/day. Meh if you're in a campaign that's aquatic or spends a lot of time around water, otherwise Poor. III. Become a large version of yourself, with serpent coils that give +30 movement and let you Swallow Whole with a grapple attack. Poor for a caster, Okay for a melee type.

Conclusion: The Exalted path's group buff is not bad, and probably makes this path worth taking. And it's thematically consistent with being a minion-summoning Diabolist. Otherwise, I'd give Geryon a pass.


Still to go: the four diabolical Ms, Mahathallah, Mammon, Mephistopheles, and Moloch.

Comments very welcome.

Doug M.


Really hoping Moloch is good. He's always been my favorite.


Anything from the infernal dukes, or are they getting the nascent demon lord treatment?


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

Geryon

Obedience: Easy.

Benefit: +4 profane bonus on saving throws to disbelieve illusions. Meh.

Evangelist: I. Two junk spells and Augury, which is very occasionally useful. Meh. II. Dictum is a good spell! And it scales with level and is actually a better dismissal spell than Dismissal. Good. III. Slightly modified form of Insanity, save off Cha. Meh if you're a Cha-based caster, otherwise Poor.

Exalted: I. Three junk spells. Poor. II. A pretty good group buff! As a move action, "grant yourself and up to four other creatures within 30 feet a +4 profane bonus on ability checks, attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks... You can maintain these bonuses as a free action for up to 1 round per Hit Die; These rounds need not be consecutive, but the duration must be used in 1-round increments." Your party will love you for this. Good. III. 3x/day as a standard: If the target fails a Cha-based Will save, s/he loses all access to faith-based spells for rounds/your level. This is devastating if you're facing a near-level cleric or oracle and can pull it off, but it uses a standard and is just so damn situational. You could build a damn fun NPC with this, but how often does your PC fight enemies who are clerics and oracles? Meh if you're a Cha-based caster, otherwise Poor.

Sentinel: I. Two junk spells and Greater Magic Fang. Are you planning to send your imp familiar into combat? I didn't think so. Poor. II. Vortex as a SLA once/day. Meh if you're in a campaign that's aquatic or spends a lot of time around water, otherwise Poor. III. Become a large version of yourself, with serpent coils that give +30 movement and let you Swallow Whole with a grapple attack. Poor for a caster, Okay for a melee type.

Conclusion: The Exalted path's group buff is not bad, and probably makes this path worth taking. And it's thematically consistent with being a minion-summoning Diabolist. Otherwise, I'd give Geryon...

Also, does this fiendish obedience overwrite Gerton's Deific Obedience? Because I always thought the second sentinel boon from DO would be pretty strong for martials.


Mahathallah

Obedience: Easy

Benefit: The DC of illusion spells you cast increases by 2, and you gain a +2 profane bonus on saving throws against mind-affecting effects.

-- Wait, what? That's two and a half feats for the price of one: Spell Focus (Illusion), Greater Spell Focus (Illusion), and also there are a lot of mind-affecting effects in this game! This is by far the best of all the Diabolical Obediences, and it is worth taking in its own right, as a feat, without even bothering about the benefits. Also, it makes Mahathallah attractive for any spellcaster who has an interest in illusions (and is willing to be Lawful Evil). This is generally Excellent. From the narrow perspective of a Diabolist, I might downgrade it half a notch to Good-Excellent, because Diabolists don't usually emphasize illusions, but you could totally build a Diabolist who did.

Evangelist: I. Two meh spells and Major Image, which is occasionally useful even at high levels and gets to use your +2. Okay. II. Basically the Illusion specialist's Persistent Illusion power. This is Meh if you're throwing a lot of illusions, otherwise Poor. III. "You can apply drugs of the injury type to a weapon as if they were poison. When you do so, the save DC for the drug increases by 2." What is even the point of this. Poor.

Exalted: I. Two okay spells and Create Drug, which is completely useless unless you're using the sidebar about adyton, the special drug for worshippers of Mahathallah. Under RAW, this is pleasantly abusable: get some rich NPCs hooked, and bam, you're making 2000 gp/week. If your DM will allow this, even occasionally, it's Excellent. Otherwise, go with Invisibility 2x/day, which is Okay. II. "Upon ingesting a drug — including those conjured by the create drug spell — you heal an amount of damage determined by the severity of that drug’s base addictiveness: 2d6 hit points for minor, 4d6 hit points for moderate, and 6d6 hit points for major." Well, this is pretty silly. I guess if you can convince your DM that alcohol is moderately addictive (the rules are blurry on this) you could use a flask of brandy as a potion of moderate healing, more or less. Still: Poor. III. Some save bonuses and you age more slowly. At 16th level this is, generously, Meh.

Sentinel: I. Three okay spells. Okay. II. This one is so dopey I just can't even. Poor. III. "Whenever you attack a target and have to roll a percent miss chance as a result of effects such as blur or concealment, reduce that percent miss chance by 20%. If this reduces the miss chance to 0%, the creature no longer counts as having concealment against you at all." Other Sentinels are getting to cast 8th or 9th level spells, and you're getting this? Ahhh Poor.

Conclusion: Mahathallah's boons are generally pretty junk -- the Sentinel path in particular is amazingly bad -- but you could do something with the Evangelist and Exalted if you want to build a character around illusions and drugs. Honestly, though, she's a deity for characters who don't care about the boons: to wit, illusion specialists who just want that sweet, sweet free feat and a half early on.


Reduxist wrote:
Anything from the infernal dukes, or are they getting the nascent demon lord treatment?

32 -- ! -- infernal dukes are listed; each has a paragraph of description, an Obedience and a benefit, and three simple boons. The boons always consist of three spells, all following the pattern I: (ist to 3rd level spell) II (6th or 7th level spell) III: (8th or 9th level spell).

Doug M.


Reduxist wrote:
does this fiendish obedience overwrite Gerton's Deific Obedience? Because I always thought the second sentinel boon from DO would be pretty strong for martials.

My understanding is that, as the newest rulest, it supersedes and trumps earlier versions.

Doug M.


Mammon

Obediene: Easy.

Benefit: +2 profane bonus on Appraise checks and Sleight of
Hand checks to take something unnoticed. Come on, you have people for that. Okay if you're a pickpockety rogue, otherwise Poor.

Evangelist: I. Symbol of Mirroring is an interesting spell, and you can cast it for free. That said, the obvious go-to here is Magic Vestment: a nice free AC boost for one hour/level. At high levels you cast this and Mage Armor every morning before brushing your teeth and then you're AC 18-20 in your underwear. Good. II. Magnificent Mansion once/day as a SLA. Okay. III. Long-range burst attack that permanently blinds and does some damage: save is Reflex (good) built off Charisma (less good). Okay if you're a Cha-based caster, otherwise Meh.

Exalted: I. Three useless spells. (Yes, Grease was great at levels 1-6, but at levels 10+ it is pretty useless. You have better things to do with a standard.) If you're a rogue, Pilfering Hand raises this to Meh, otherwise Poor. II. Empowered Inflict Critical Wounds 3x/day. Touch attack, dammit. Average damage on this is about 40, Will save for half. If you can't do better than that with a nice safe ranged spell at 13th level, you shouldn't call yourself a caster. Poor unless (1) you have a familiar who is optimized for delivering touch spells, or (2) you have lot of undead servants who regularly need curing, or (3) you're a rogue, in which case Meh. III. Mass Suggestion, saving off Cha. Meh unless you're a Cha-based caster, in which case it's Okay.

Sentinel: I. Why would anyone want Alarm 3x/day...? Anyway, a couple of decent spells here. Okay. II. "For a number of minutes per day equal to your Hit Dice, you are immune to good-aligned damage, and damage you deal is considered evil-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. Against good foes, your weapons gain a +3 profane bonus on damage rolls. Further, while this ability is in effect, weapons and effects cannot deal additional damage (such as a holy weapon would deal) to you due to your evil alignment, though you still suffer from any nondamaging effects based on your evil alignment as normal." This strikes me as an "interesting NPC" power -- if a PC's high-level paladin is smiting left and right, throw this at them. For PCs I guess it really depends on the campaign, but paladins and holy weapons and whatnot are always an issue for evil characters, so it's at least Meh for everyone, rising to Okay if you're a melee character or your DM throws these at you regularly, or Good if both are true. III. "For a number of rounds equal to your Hit Dice, a single weapon that you are holding gains the unholy and brilliant energy special abilities." Good for melee characters, Poor for everyone else.

Conclusion: Evangelist is okay, and you could build a cool high-level NPC melee boss with the Sentinel path. Otherwise, nothing too exciting here.


Mephistopheles

Obedience: Easy. -- Honestly, pretty much all the Diabolical Obediences are Easy.

Benefit: Gain DR 1/good and silver. Good for a melee character, Okay for everyone else.

Evangelist: I. Detect Secret Doors 3x/day is exactly the sort of utility spell that nobody ever takes, but that is nonetheless useful to have. (Yes, yes, golf bag full of low level wands. But then you're that guy. Do you want to be that guy?)
Okay. II. "While this ability is in effect, an enemy that comes within 5 feet of you must succeed at a Will saving throw (DC = 10 + half your Hit Dice + your Charisma modifier) or be compelled to blurt out a single secret that looms heavy in its mind. This could be a personally embarrassing detail, or it could be secret plans to attack or sabotage you, at the GM’s discretion. Additionally, creatures that fail their Will saving throws become confused". This is one of those hard-to-judge situational powers. It takes a standard, so it's no good in combat. It could be powerful in certain social situations, but only sometimes, and also it's another darn build-off-Cha ability. This strikes me as more of an NPC power: this is how Baron Von Evil keeps discovering the revolutionaries, or how a Hellknight determines guilt... Anyway, I'd call this Okay for a Cha-based caster, Meh for everyone else. III. 3x/day as a standard, target a creature as a standard. Cha-based Will save or it "believes you are incredibly trustworthy and will refuse to harm you with any of its attacks or abilities... and you gain a +20 profane bonus on Diplomacy checks to influence its attitude or make a request. If any of its allies attempt to harm you during this period, the creature will defend you however it is able." Or you could just throw Dominate? This is another "don't you have better things to do with a standard at level 16+" abilities. Meh if you're a Cha-based caster, otherwise Poor.

Exalted: I. Honeyed Tongue 3x/day is okay if you're a Diplomacy monkey, and Marionette Possession -- the poor man's Magic Jar -- has all sorts of uses. Good. II. 3x/day, Cha-based Wis save, target can't touch or attack you but you can attack it. Okay if you're a Cha-based caster, Meh otherwise. III. Mass Icy Prison except with flames. Icy Prison is a very good 5th level spell; the mass version is an okay 9th level spell (it's limited by the usual annoying "30' from each other" language). At least it doesn't build off Cha. Okay.

Sentinel: I. Three decent spells! Chain of Perdition is probably the pick of the litter here, because it scales well with level. Good. II. Symbol of Weakness once/day. Unfortunately it's not a SLA, so you still must pay the hefty material component cost. That lowers it from Good to Okay. III. Once/day summon two barbed devils. 2X CR 11 = CR 13. At level 16+ that's not amazing, and their SLAs are nothing special either. Meh.

Conclusion: The Evangelist path seems like another one that's better for building fun / unusual NPCs than for PCs. Exalted is okay if you're a Cha-based caster. Sentinel is... okay. Nothing here sucks, nothing is amazing.


One more, then a quick skim of the Dukes, then overall conclusions.

Are people reading this? Getting anything of interest from it?

Doug M.


I am. Mostly just waiting for Moloch.


One of the reasons I liked the old Diabolist was because Hell wanted your soul ONLY, not your worship (yes, I was a member of the Athar faction).

Loving your work so far, but this new Diabolist is a no-no for me now *SIGH*...


I am reading! I'm honestly kind of underwhelmed by the boons, but that's not your fault. At least illusionists get an impressive boost, most of the rest seems... 'eh'.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I just read the conclusions for the moment, but I find them quite informative and I like how thoroughly you do your analysis.


Im reading it, tho im mostly upset for YOU. You spent countless hours writing a guide for a class they just killed.


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Thefurmonger wrote:
Im reading it, tho im mostly upset for YOU. You spent countless hours writing a guide for a class they just killed.

Eh, about 3/4 of the Guide is still relevant. And over the three years (!) since I wrote and posted it, lots of people have used it to have fun. Three years is a pretty good run. No complaints.

I may or may not update it; TBD.

Doug M.


Dreikaiserbund wrote:
I am reading! I'm honestly kind of underwhelmed by the boons, but that's not your fault. At least illusionists get an impressive boost, most of the rest seems... 'eh'.

Most of it seems to suffer from the fear of giving PCs stuff that's TOO GOOD that pervades a lot of Paizo's design philosophy IMO. That said, a couple of hair-raising items did slip through -- stuff that's either powerful on its own terms, or abusable if you're that sort of player. Not a lot, but a few.

Doug M.


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OneTrueBaldo wrote:
One of the reasons I liked the old Diabolist was because Hell wanted your soul ONLY, not your worship (yes, I was a member of the Athar faction).

Nicely put! Yes, that's a mechanical change that's a thematic change as well. There was a certain sort of Diabolist who was sure that he was outwitting Hell. That's still possible to do, but it's thematically more difficult.


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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
Thefurmonger wrote:
Im reading it, tho im mostly upset for YOU. You spent countless hours writing a guide for a class they just killed.

Eh, about 3/4 of the Guide is still relevant. And over the three years (!) since I wrote and posted it, lots of people have used it to have fun. Three years is a pretty good run. No complaints.

I may or may not update it; TBD.

Doug M.

I hope that even if you dont fully update, that you put a blurb at the front explaining what happened. If only because it is PFS legal (or was)

Are you still writing guides? I really like your writing style.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I don't use guides, but I wanted to second an appreciation for your writing as well.

Good stuff!


I am definitely reading this. Mammon's Sentinel boons seem pretty cool. Mainly disappointed that Geryon won't offer that sweet, sweet 18-20 crit range for the heavy flail anymore.

Thank you for doing this, though.


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Well, thank you all for the kind words. If you like my writing style, come lurk on my PBP!

Okay, on to our final Archdevil, the big burny guy...


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Moloch

Obedience: Easy,

Benefit: +2 Profane bonus to CMD. What? This is lame. Poor.

Evangelist: I. These are not great spells and they don't scale with level. Poor. II. Repulsion as a SLA. Repulsion isn't a fantastic spell but it's decent and can have fun tactical applications if you're clever. Good. III. Dominate Monster as a SLA. Not one of the greatest 9th level spells but it's a save-or-suck that can end any fight with one roll -- sometimes. Okay.

Exalted: I. Burning Hands, Fire Breath, or Fireball? Okay. II. Delayed Blast Fireball as a SLA. I sense a theme. Okay. III. +4 profane bonus to AC, immunity to fire, and an extra d6 melee damage for you and up to four allies within 30'. Wait could the theme be... fire? Anyway: this would be a fine group buff except (1) it requires a standard action -- everybody repeat together with me: don't you have something better to be doing with a standard at level 16+? -- and (2) only lasts rounds/level. That said, fire attacks and fire damage are pretty common, even at high levels, and this will let the whole party stroll nonchalantly across the lava field. Okay.

Sentinel: I. Deadly Juggernaut is a fine spell that unfortunately has a range of "you", making it worthless to non-melee characters. That leaves Enlarge Person. It's one of the few 1st level spells that stays occasionally useful all the way up, but still: Meh. II. 30' burst, Fort save against Cha, fail and be stunned for one round/staggered for 3, save and be staggered for 1 round. Takes a standard. Dammit. This would be good to excellent except that it takes a flippin' standard. You are 13th level. YOU PROBABLY HAVE BETTER THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH A STANDARD. Meh if you're a Cha based caster or a melee type, otherwise Poor. III. Standard action: All enemies that can hear you must make a Cha-based Will save or be panicked for your Hit Dice/2 rounds. If they save, they're still shaken AND take -4 to AC for the duration. This suffers from two of the standard annoying drawbacks (Cha-based save, takes a standard). But OTOH it's not range-limited, is suck-or-suck, could probably be abused by clever players (the Dragonvoice spell or some other magical amplification -> destroy an enemy army by yelling at them) and will end most encounters if it hits. Okay.

Conclusion: Evangelist is okay, Exalted is fire-themey and okay, Sentinel is super thematic but weaker than it should be. A rant about how these boons are constructed (SO MANY CHA BASED SAVES, WHY DO YOU HATE NON CHA BASED CASTERS) is put off until my Overview post, probably tomorrow.

-- That's all the Archdevils! Later today or tomorrow, a quick skim of the Dukes.


Chat based saves is because that's what SLAs default to. There's never been a clear justification for why (non-class ability) SLAs sometimes deviate from that.


Me: never going to play a diabolist, didn't even know they existed until I read your guide

Also me: read all of this despite not having access to Book of the Damned or knowing exactly what it's all about.

In the campaign I'm currently GMing there is a theme of hunting devils (2 person campaign, uncle/nephew PC's, bearded devil killed their brother/father) and I'm thinking of using the diabolist PrC as a villain. I think that'd be fun (the uncle is a samurai with a lord in a big city, this lord is going to have things going on behind the scenes and BOOM plot twist, he has a host of devils hiding in the castle walls and a certain samurai is going to get his reward for loyal service *cue evil laugh*).


His *eternal* reward!


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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
Dreikaiserbund wrote:
I am reading! I'm honestly kind of underwhelmed by the boons, but that's not your fault. At least illusionists get an impressive boost, most of the rest seems... 'eh'.

Most of it seems to suffer from the fear of giving PCs stuff that's TOO GOOD that pervades a lot of Paizo's design philosophy IMO. That said, a couple of hair-raising items did slip through -- stuff that's either powerful on its own terms, or abusable if you're that sort of player. Not a lot, but a few.

Doug M.

Leading to us having thousands of feats and magic items, which all get ignored in favor of Power Attack and Toughness... but I digress.

Your work is genuinely useful! It saves me going through all of the Diabolic Boons looking for the few hidden gems, and for this I thank you.


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thelivingmonkey wrote:
In the campaign I'm currently GMing there is a theme of hunting devils (2 person campaign, uncle/nephew PC's, bearded devil killed their brother/father) and I'm thinking of using the diabolist PrC as a villain. I think that'd be fun (the uncle is a samurai with a lord in a big city, this lord is going to have things going on behind the scenes and BOOM plot twist, he has a host of devils hiding in the castle walls and a certain samurai is going to get his reward for loyal service *cue evil laugh*).

1) If you want to toughen things up, Bearded Devils benefit tremendously from adding fighter levels. A named devil with fighter levels can be any CR you like, and will be a tough and fun opponent throughout.

2) It's canon that all devils can do contracts for souls, but only some (contract devils, pit fiends) do all kinds of contracts. Bearded devils specialize in contracts that make the recipient more fearsome in combat. So, you could meet a villain who has some weird ability -- Fast Healing 5, DR 10/silver, the ability to do bleed damage with every hit -- and it turns out he has a connection to that particular devil...

3) Building a Diabolist is fun! And there's no limit to the mix of devils you can surround them with. And if you want a plot twist, don't forget that devils are treacherous...

Doug M.


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Okay, the Dukes of Hell! There are 32 (!) of these guys listed in BotD. That's because they're not getting major writeups -- each one gets just a single short paragraph of description, followed by Obedience, benefit, and Boons. The Obediences tend to be rockier than the Archdevils'; some are Easy, but by no means all. The benefits are mostly "+4 to some particular type of save", but there are a few that vary. The Boons are always in the form of three spells: I. [a spell of 2nd or 3rd level] II. [a spell of 7th level] III. [a spell of 9th level].

I'm not going to go through all 32, because that would be crazy. Instead I'll just point out ones that are particularly interesting for one reason or another. If a Duke is not on this list, then I just didn't think it was that interesting, either for PC or NPC builds. I suspect most builds from here will be NPCs, if only because there's just not a lot of thematic stuff to work with here, but you never know.

So, without further ado, we give you...

The Dukes of Hell

Alocer the Hunting Duke. Obedience is "Lure or chase any quarry, then kill it and pray over the corpse." Basically a patron for rangers and other woodsy types. Second and third benefits are True Sight and Summon Natures Ally IX, which are good.

Crocell gives you two good spells and then the situational but interesting World Wave.

Deumus is all junk until you reach the third Benefit, which is Soul Bind -- as a SLA, which means no focus, so no expensive black gems. I think you're better off with Ardad Lili (same third benefit easier / less nasty Obedience, generally better) but if you're a misogynist who doesn't want to worship a girl, or a grumpy creepy hermit who literally would rather eat maggots than sing a song, Deumus offers an alternative.

Eaqueao aka the Lord of Vowels. Benefit is +4 against mind-affecting effects, which is great. Baalzebul and the Archdukes Ose and Titivulus also give this, though, and Baalzebul has the amazing +20 intimidate Sentinel boon. I guess you go with Eaqueao if you don't want to build an intimidate monkey.

Haborym has an easy Obedience, a good benefit -- +4 on saves vs. fire, the same as Asmodeus -- and three decent spells.

Ioazrael easy Obedience, okay benefit -- +4 vs. compulsion effects -- and three decent spells.

Jiraviddain has a slightly unpleasant Obedience and a junk benefit, but then two good spells -- Death Knell and Heal, with the latter being particularly nice to have if you don't have a healbot in the party -- and then Symbol of Vulnerability. That's normally a very meh 9th level spell, but (1) it's another "SLA, so no component, so you save a bunch of money" -- in this case, 15,000 gp per casting; and (2) it's particularly useful for a Diabolist, since it melts away creatures' defenses without allowing a save or Spell Resistance. A high-level character with access to this SLA would literally paint his living quarters with these things.

Lorcan has a yucky Obedience and a mediocre benefit, but is the only Diabolical Patron who gives you access to True Resurrection. As a SLA. Which means no material component cost. That means a massive 25,000 gp savings every time you cast this spell. Whether that's worth spending a dozen levels chewing on bits of dried zombie flesh every day is a judgment call, but it's definitely worth a look. And for an NPC? Don the Diabolist can bring your friend back, and it won't cost you a thing. He'll just ask you for this one little favor...

Lorthact, who probably resents being confused with Lorcan, has an easy Obedience and the benefit is -- wait for it -- a +4 profane bonus on Knowledge and Spellcraft checks. That is ALL Knowledge and Spellcraft checks. There are 10 Knowledges, so that is like getting 44 skill ranks, boom, free. You know the Breadth of Knowledge feat? It's a fine feat. Well, this is 2.1 times better than that. If you're a Knowledge monkey, this is very hard to resist. Otherwise Lorthact's boons go junk, meh, and Astral Projection aka "providing you poorly defined but interesting planar travel since First Edition".

Malthus, who has nothing to do with population growth, has one of those Obediences that is easy to perform but hard to keep private. But the benefit is "a +4 profane bonus on Reflex saving throws to avoid physical dangers." Protip: virtually all Reflex saves are to avoid physical dangers. So, this is basically +4 on Reflex saves, or two feats. Malthus' Boons are pretty meh, but hey -- free feat.

Nergal has a tricky Obedience, an okay benefit (+4 vs. disease and poisions), and gives you Haste -- arguably the single most overpowered 3rd level spell, and useful right up through high levels -- as the first Boon.

Titivilus has that fine +4 vs. mind-affecting benefit, and two of his three Boon spells are good ones.


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Before you ask, I'm not going to do the Malebranche. Their Boons are weaker, their Obediences are often difficult or yucky, and really, why would you worship a jumped up pit fiend anyway? Also, too many of their names sound like something you'd order in a coffee shop. "I'd like a latte Rubicante and some of that nice Farfarello." Just no.

Later today or tomorrow: the TLDR overview post!

Doug M.


Aren't Malebranche jumped up cornugons instead of pit fiends? Or has this changed?

I really liked the old Diabolist and am thinking of keeping it in my campaigns and renaming this new Diabolist to something else. Or maybe rename the old diabolist?
If you update your guide, please, please make a version 2.0 and leave the old one as is somewhere.

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