Why don't high level demons and devils always teleport away?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I noticed almost all high level demons and devils have greater teleport at will. That being the case, I am wondering why they don't just always teleport away when losing a fight rather than fight to the death? Considering they are always evil, I doubt they care if their minions get slaughter after they port out.


For the most part, because they dont care. They dont truly die unless killed on their own plane, and dying isnt a set back to a high level demon/devil with a friend to even summon them back across planes or access to planeshift. Why not try to kill your enemies till the end instead?


I thought the "respawning if they die outside their home plane" was just a DND thing and not in Pathfinder. Am I wrong?


yes, you are.


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If they're "Summoned" and die then they just go back to their home plane.

If they're "Called" and die they they die for real.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Can you point us at a rule citation for that please? 'Cause I can't find one on a quick search.


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Various reasons, I suppose. The easiest is the meta of "that is annoying, and we only bother to use this with important NPCs".

For "bad decisions" justifications- a belief that they might win, excessive anger that makes them not consider their deaths in the heat of a fight, a spiteful desire to just take one of you with it, etc.

There is also the good old "the boss is scarier" explanation. Devils live in a hierarchical society, and there are probably many, many laws to punish deserters. Plus, they might have magically binding contracts. Demons are likely to violently torture and murder them if they return with disappointing news. Daemons likely have a better job with this, because they can grind minion souls into various decorative ornaments.

If you want evil outsiders that do not care if they die, you should look into oni, rakshasa, and asura. Rakshasa and asura have reincarnation systems, so they often take a decade just to get back to walking around, let along fighting again... so they might be a bit more reluctant to die. Oni are spirits that possess humanoid bodies, so they can potentially come back to power fairly quickly. Ja noi especially are low base CR oni with a 'live fast and die young' mentalities.

Grand Lodge

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Darrell Impey UK wrote:
Can you point us at a rule citation for that please? 'Cause I can't find one on a quick search.

CRB 209 & 210.


I mean, they should book it unless someone has hit them with a dimensional anchor.


ShroudedInLight wrote:
I mean, they should book it unless someone has hit them with a dimensional anchor.

Or hit with a sword to the face. Another reason not to use teleport is that it is still a spell that draws AoOs. So if things are THAT bad, they might die in the escape attempt anyway. So they might as well try to take you down with them.

Dark Archive

I think most of fiends do actually teleport away when losing?

Anyway, yeah, only rakshasas and asuras are immortal and respawn upon death(and fay in first world)


I mean....and also as its "high level" you can go from "has hundreds of hit points to ooop dead in one round" I imagine most dont teleport away because they eat a horrendous amount of damage in one round and die.


Also aren’t they banished to their plane for at least 100 years? Sure they can get revenge on the grandchildren and bloodline of then banishers as an option but they would rather take you down.


In addition to the fine reasons above:

If they are summoned they don't have a choice.

If they are bound to a task they might not have much choice.


However Demons especially will look for loopholes around that bound task.


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In my experience they do try to teleport away if things aren't going well. What gives you the impression that they don't?


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I still come back to the 2 tactical reasons mentioned above: for one its a Standard that draws AoOs if threatened and for another the fiend may go from full health to dead in one round if PCs are well built for damage.

Beyond these there are planar reasons a GM might consider in the fiend's thought process. Demons have to answer to their layer of the Abyss and the demon that rules it; Devils have a noble boss to deal with. Both planes have a mechanism of punishing lesser fiends by stripping them of their status and power and reducing them to the primal stuff of the plane. Perhaps that's what's happening to the fiend that has to wait 100 years to return.

Then again, there's the promise of power itself. Adventurers will go to great lengths and risk their very lives for treasure. What is the commodity of fiends? Mortal souls. What if a nice, squishy wizard stood just 40' from you and you had every confidence that before his three friends turn you to dog chow you could rend the wizard's soul from his body? You might spear head for the spell caster and ignore the hazard to claim your prize.

That way, when the massive damage dealt to your physical manifestation in the Prime sends you screaming back to your home plane you could actually claim a victory, another mortal soul slain or possibly even captured! Imagine your potential promotion opportunity!


Mark Hoover 330 wrote:

I still come back to the 2 tactical reasons mentioned above: for one its a Standard that draws AoOs if threatened and for another the fiend may go from full health to dead in one round if PCs are well built for damage.

Beyond these there are planar reasons a GM might consider in the fiend's thought process. Demons have to answer to their layer of the Abyss and the demon that rules it; Devils have a noble boss to deal with. Both planes have a mechanism of punishing lesser fiends by stripping them of their status and power and reducing them to the primal stuff of the plane. Perhaps that's what's happening to the fiend that has to wait 100 years to return.

Then again, there's the promise of power itself. Adventurers will go to great lengths and risk their very lives for treasure. What is the commodity of fiends? Mortal souls. What if a nice, squishy wizard stood just 40' from you and you had every confidence that before his three friends turn you to dog chow you could rend the wizard's soul from his body? You might spear head for the spell caster and ignore the hazard to claim your prize.

That way, when the massive damage dealt to your physical manifestation in the Prime sends you screaming back to your home plane you could actually claim a victory, another mortal soul slain or possibly even captured! Imagine your potential promotion opportunity!

While this is certainly true this assumes a certain level of ambition and/or motivation for the demon/devil in question. I remember an AP for example, where such a creature attacks the party and will flee via teleport if given the chance. Even seeking revenge later on. Remember that for an evil creature, cowardice is a perfectly viable strategy, even if it results in consequences at home. After all, maybe their boss won't find out this time...

I do agree with you though. If there's no consequences to dying (because you were summoned and not called or gated in) then there's no reason to run. Also, while a Demon may not get a natural opportunity to escape, it should probably try to create such an opportunity to flee(invisibility, fog, etc.) once its obvious they don't have an advantage. They have no reason to "fight fair", much less continue with a battle where they are actually at a disadvantage.


People seem to forget that Summoned monsters can't teleport away?

Summon Monster wrote:
A summoned monster cannot summon or otherwise conjure another creature, nor can it use any teleportation or planar travel abilities. Creatures cannot be summoned into an environment that cannot support them. Creatures summoned using this spell cannot use spells or spell-like abilities that duplicate spells with expensive material components (such as wish).

Shadow Lodge

Because this is a game and enjoying it trumps "realism." Your GM is trying not to be a total jerk and realizes that having everything get away is not fun for the players.


Realistically, if a devil or demon teleports away from a bunch of puny mortals, they will get mocked by their friends for literally all eternity.


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I'm running a campaign that has a Lawful Evil villian that uses a great deal of devils. They often do not flee because they are under 'Contractual Obligations'.


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* They are Evil, Immortal beings and as such many have developed a sense of arrogance - how could finite, mortal Creatures withstand their might? Also recklessness derived from a sense of being eternal.
* They are made out of the Souls of damned beings, making them inherently geared towards tunnel-vision on inflicting pain, believing that everyone succumbs to temptation/domination with enough force; etc. Their judgement may also be skewed by hatred of the righteous, jealous of the freedom of choice that mortals have (since they are not mentally/physically defined by Racial Alignments).
* Fear of what will happen if they fail yet survive, (perhaps going "all out" is a success if they live or die, as long as they do not have to endure punishment from even higher echelons/Archdevils/Demon Lords/their Profane Deity). Especially if they are already down on their Evil Act and Soul Collection quotas for the quarter ...
* They are secretly dominated by someone higher on the hierarchy, being forced to act as potential fodder to gauge your Party's value - are you worth corrupting? Can you be manipulated? What pretty colour are your insides?
* Alternatively, they were Called via Spell or Occult Ritual, whereby they want to prove themselves useful so as to be repeatedly Called - giving them a chance to corrupt/turn on their conjurers, (you are merely a distraction to be quelled before getting onto their real task).
* Unknown initially to both them and you, they were formed from Souls of your vanquished enemies, set forth with an innate drive to hunt you down. The more enemies you kill - especially if your Party have a policy of "violence before questions" - leads onto you facing more dangerous foes, in a cycle left to the Party to break. (In this case, maybe your G.M. is trying to tell you something.)
* Your N.P.C. enemies have taken a leaf out of the P.C. handbook, possessing a Creature to use as an expendable meat-suit. Doubly so if they have a means to use the "host's" (Ex)/(Sp)/(Su) - you would never know.
* Through experience they anticipate someone Dispelling it, choosing not to "waste" their Standard Action, (fear of poor Action economy).
* The Bard's sexual magnetism is simply too strong ...

Also, some linked references :

Conjuration, Core Rulebook, p.209:
Each conjuration spell belongs to one of five subschools. Conjurations transport creatures from another plane of existence to your plane (calling); create objects or effects on the spot (creation); heal (healing); bring manifestations of objects, creatures, or forms of energy to you (summoning); or transport creatures or objects over great distances (teleportation). Creatures you conjure usually—but not always—obey your commands.

A creature or object brought into being or transported to your location by a conjuration spell cannot appear inside another creature or object, nor can it appear f loating in an empty space. It must arrive in an open location on a surface capable of supporting it.

The creature or object must appear within the spell’s range, but it does not have to remain within the range.

Calling: A calling spell transports a creature from another plane to the plane you are on. The spell grants the creature the one-time ability to return to its plane of origin, although the spell may limit the circumstances under which this is possible. Creatures who are called actually die when they are killed; they do not disappear and reform, as do those brought by a summoning spell (see below). The duration of a calling spell is instantaneous, which means that the called creature can’t be dispelled. Creation: A creation spell manipulates matter to create an object or creature in the place the spellcaster designates. If the spell has a duration other than instantaneous, magic holds the creation together, and when the spell ends, the conjured creature or object vanishes without a trace. If the spell has an instantaneous duration, the created object or creature is merely assembled through magic. It lasts indefinitely and does not depend on magic for its existence.

Healing: Certain divine conjurations heal creatures or even bring them back to life.

Summoning: A summoning spell instantly brings a creature or object to a place you designate. When the spell ends or is dispelled, a summoned creature is instantly sent back to where it came from, but a summoned object is not sent back unless the spell description specifically indicates this. A summoned creature also goes away if it is killed or if its hit points drop to 0 or lower, but it is not really dead. It takes 24 hours for the creature to reform, during which time it can’t be summoned again.

When the spell that summoned a creature ends and the creature disappears, all the spells it has cast expire. A summoned creature cannot use any innate summoning abilities it may have.

Teleportation: A teleportation spell transports one or more creatures or objects a great distance. The most powerful of these spells can cross planar boundaries. Unlike summoning spells, the transportation is (unless otherwise noted) one-way and not dispellable.

Teleportation is instantaneous travel through the Astral Plane. Anything that blocks astral travel also blocks teleportation.


Summon Monster I:
A summoned monster cannot summon or otherwise conjure another creature, nor can it use any teleportation or planar travel abilities. Creatures cannot be summoned into an environment that cannot support them. Creatures summoned using this spell cannot use spells or spell-like abilities that duplicate spells with expensive material components (such as wish).

Summon Nature's Ally I:
A summoned monster cannot summon or otherwise conjure another creature, nor can it use any teleportation or planar travel abilities. Creatures cannot be summoned into an environment that cannot support them. Creatures summoned using this spell cannot use spells or spell-like abilities that duplicate spells that have expensive material components (such as wish).


They could, if they dont, is because the GM decided to make them not to for whatever reason, this is no way represent how this creates should or shouldnt act, it is a personal call of each GM and that is it.

Playing an AP for example, many of the enemies have reasons behind what they are doing. Some wont run, some will do so and then pester the party later in a number of ways.

If they can teleport? They are meant to do so if the conditions are met.

It falls on the players if they want to be 100% sure, to find ways to stop each enemy from just leaving. There ways to stop teleporting, if they cant manage and the enemy can just run, most will do so and seek revenge later.


All of these interesting points aside...who says they don't?

An immortal creature with intellect, insight and manipulative powers beyond mortal comprehension Would seem to me more than willing to play the long game.


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Poor tactical GM play is the main reason. Plot reasons will be a distant second.


Quixote wrote:

All of these interesting points aside...who says they don't?

An immortal creature with intellect, insight and manipulative powers beyond mortal comprehension Would seem to me more than willing to play the long game.

A lot of demons might not fit into that mold though. Hot blooded impulse might get the better of the beef head varieties.

But a succubus or glabrezu? I would be disappointed if they don't escape and try to call in reinforcements.


And while doesn't really answer the underlying question (maybe) ... travel by Teleport and Greater Teleport is not interplanar. They can't use either spell 'to go home'. They need to use Plane Shift.

Dark Archive

McDaygo wrote:
Also aren’t they banished to their plane for at least 100 years? Sure they can get revenge on the grandchildren and bloodline of then banishers as an option but they would rather take you down.

Fiends in general just die. Their soul(which is same vessel as their body) breaks and quintessence leaks back to their own plane as fertilizer through natural soul's journey process.

Rakshasa? They are material plane fiends. When they die, they wander the earth as bodyless spirits until they get chance to reborn.(I don't remember if parents had to include rakshasa or how it worked specifically) So they have to grow back to adulthood first before they can return for vengeance :p

Asura? I don't think there was time limit but either way they are reborn in weaker form

I'm bit confused at how many people here do read setting info on outsiders because everyone keeps quoting how it works in Forgotten Realms <_<


As mentioned, only summoned outsiders can shrug off death, any outsider arriving by other means dies properly when killed.
(Demon Lords have a fallback in that the Abyss gives them a 1/year respawn, but that's not something any fiend gets.)

Which is why, yes, teleporting away is pretty common. Victory is short-lived, death is forever, and an immortal creature has so much more life to lose than a mortal.

That being said, there could be a lot of reasons for individual fiends to stay and fight to the death.
Mariliths are literally made out of pride - they might not be able to convince that someone might defeat them. A devil might be, as mentioned, under orders from above. (Or would that be "below?")
Or there may be magical bindings in place - either on the fiend, or on the battlefield.

If you really want to kill an outsider, you better bring Dimensional Anchor, Dimensional Lock, or similar spells with you. It also helps against teleportation-happy spellcasters, so it's a good trick anyway.

Off-topic note about Oni possession:
lemeres wrote:
Oni are spirits that possess humanoid bodies, so they can potentially come back to power fairly quickly.

They don't actually possess existing bodies, but form new bodies (based on an humanoid species) from scratch. So, "possession" as in "ownership", not as in "magical control".


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Yqatuba wrote:
I noticed almost all high level demons and devils have greater teleport at will. That being the case, I am wondering why they don't just always teleport away when losing a fight rather than fight to the death? Considering they are always evil, I doubt they care if their minions get slaughter after they port out.

Usually, tactics blocks that have the demon or devil flee via teleport say 'When under X HP, the creature flees' what typically happens is that before the creature's turn, its X+30, so it doesn't flee. Then it quickly ends up being X-200 because PCs.

And, if they flee, PCs might expect the creature to return and frankly, that's just too much work if every demon flees and becomes a recurring antagonist. Same reason why you want minions to die so the PCs can't interrogate them, demons don't flee so you can just close the bestiary and be done with the encounter.


Another consideration- the teleport abilities usually have a 50 lb weight limit. If they equipment above that weight, or they are carrying a particularly heavy mcguffin, they would have to consider whether to leave it behind.

So their greed might cause them to hesitate to flee. It doesn't need to take long- if they are at "X HP", and they take an extra 6 seconds (1 round) to consider things... they will be in negative health long before they get a chance to cast teleport.

Scarab Sages

I think the basic issue is that the people who write their tactics in adventures often forget about their teleport powers. MY demons and devils absolutely do teleport away if they think they're about to die. It frustrates the hell out of my PCs, especially when the monster uses regeneration, fast healing, or magic to heal up and then ports in on top of them. :)

That said, there are some valid points up-thread. Summoned outsiders can't teleport. But they also can't really die, so it doesn't matter as much for them. Some demons and devils report to more powerful beings whose anger might be worse than death.

But without those limitations, my demons and devils teleport a lot both to gain a tactical advantage and to escape if need be.


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If the demon/devil has an initial reason to be where the PCs encountered it, it presumably has a reason to continue to be there, and therefore a reason to stay and fight. If not, it's essentially a wandering monster and might as well TP away if things are going badly. But that doesn't mean that it will necessarily go back later to attack the PCs - after all, they're dangerous. Might as well go and beat up some peasants instead. It obviously could want to attack the PCs out of bravado / rage / hate / greed / pride / etc, but it might not.

So ultimately it comes down to why the demon/devil was fighting the PCs in the first place.


I think the "boss is scarier" is the best explanation. The "getting too mad to think straight" doesn't really wash as most of them are really smart (a balor has 24 int for example, just because they are chaotic evil doesn't mean they're chaotic stupid.) If they ARE the boss (i.e a demon lord or archdevil) they probably would fight to the death due to the resurrection 1/year thing as someone mentioned. I imagine if that ability is currently unavailable they hide out in their Abyssal realm/Hell palace/whatever until it recharges (if they are thousands of years old a year is probably like an afternoon to them.)


Speaking of the 50 pound limit, how much do a balor's large size whip and longsword weigh? I assume under 50 pounds but not sure how much exactly.


Yqatuba wrote:
Speaking of the 50 pound limit, how much do a balor's large size whip and longsword weigh? I assume under 50 pounds but not sure how much exactly.

Stereotypical Large weapons weigh double the listed weight on the equipment charts, so 4 pounds and 8 pounds, respectively.


Weapons tend to be fine. But there is a reason why most demons are depicted as going unarmored (those poor, poor succubi). THAT is the killer, especially if large.

If you need to bribe a demon, send them a mithral breastplate.

Dark Archive

Vast majority of outsiders in adventures are definitely either binded(meaning they can't escape even if they wanted) or mooks guarding important location that would be screwed by their boss if they escaped :p


And the main reason the Bad Guys don't all teleport away when they start losing: Because it makes for an anti-climatic story.

When the BBG teleports away, the thought is that the BBG will be back later in the story. So people accept that sort of thing. But when every demon you run into teleports away at half HP...that just means Demons have half the HP they are listed with and drop no loot, right? Having minions and fodder flee keeps them from being effective fodder and if the players are normal, frustrates the players. They enter combat and get an empty victory. Yay? (or are you the type that gives no xp because the demon isn't dead?)

And where are the demons, devils and other outsiders teleporting to anyways? Warning the boss that powerful intruders are coming? Gathering together to take their revenge? Sulking at a bar on the far side of Galorian? Lodging complaints at the nearest Pathfinder Society lodge? Is this really the story you want to present?


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Meirril wrote:
Lodging complaints at the nearest Pathfinder Society lodge? Is this really the story you want to present?

This sounds like a great plot hook.

"We've been getting a bunch of complaints about this particular Pathfinder expedition group from the locals. We'd like you to go out there and put a stop to it. The last one was from a mister De Vil. The group was last seen entering... the Home For Infinite Losers?"

So, maybe?


blahpers wrote:
Yqatuba wrote:
Speaking of the 50 pound limit, how much do a balor's large size whip and longsword weigh? I assume under 50 pounds but not sure how much exactly.
Stereotypical Large weapons weigh double the listed weight on the equipment charts, so 4 pounds and 8 pounds, respectively.

Shouldn't they weigh 8x as much if they are 2x as big in all 3 dimensions?


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Meirril wrote:

And the main reason the Bad Guys don't all teleport away when they start losing: Because it makes for an anti-climatic story.

When the BBG teleports away, the thought is that the BBG will be back later in the story. So people accept that sort of thing. But when every demon you run into teleports away at half HP...that just means Demons have half the HP they are listed with and drop no loot, right? Having minions and fodder flee keeps them from being effective fodder and if the players are normal, frustrates the players. They enter combat and get an empty victory. Yay? (or are you the type that gives no xp because the demon isn't dead?)

And where are the demons, devils and other outsiders teleporting to anyways? Warning the boss that powerful intruders are coming? Gathering together to take their revenge? Sulking at a bar on the far side of Galorian? Lodging complaints at the nearest Pathfinder Society lodge? Is this really the story you want to present?

I figure they wouldn't teleport until more like 1/4 hp. As someone else mentioned, they might still die before they get a chance to act. There's also the spell dimensional anchor if you want to stop them from teleporting away (and doesn't even allow a save.) Finally, as for where they would go: as far away from the PCs as possible. I noticed a lot of high-level demons and devils have regeneration, meaning they could just wait a few minutes, then teleport back and have another go at the players.


Persepolis wrote:
MY demons and devils absolutely do teleport away if they think they're about to die. It frustrates the hell out of my PCs...

Does their frustration advance the story?


Yqatuba wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Yqatuba wrote:
Speaking of the 50 pound limit, how much do a balor's large size whip and longsword weigh? I assume under 50 pounds but not sure how much exactly.
Stereotypical Large weapons weigh double the listed weight on the equipment charts, so 4 pounds and 8 pounds, respectively.
Shouldn't they weigh 8x as much if they are 2x as big in all 3 dimensions?

Maybe they're ~1.25 as big in all 3 dimensions?


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Yqatuba wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Yqatuba wrote:
Speaking of the 50 pound limit, how much do a balor's large size whip and longsword weigh? I assume under 50 pounds but not sure how much exactly.
Stereotypical Large weapons weigh double the listed weight on the equipment charts, so 4 pounds and 8 pounds, respectively.
Shouldn't they weigh 8x as much if they are 2x as big in all 3 dimensions?

1. They aren't necessarily 2x as big in all 3 dimensions.

2. Please think of the catgirls.


Square-cube law is already in the rules with effects that increase the size of creatures (Enlarge Person). Catgirls don't apply.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jared Walter 356 wrote:
Darrell Impey UK wrote:
Can you point us at a rule citation for that please? 'Cause I can't find one on a quick search.
CRB 209 & 210.

Someone got a post in in the seconds before I posted. I was actually querying the, quite blunt, "yes, you are" When someone asked if they were wrong about the D&D/Pathfinder differential.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oh yes; regarding the attacks of opportunity for using the spell like teleport, they can still attempt concentration checks to avoid them.


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Watery Soup wrote:
Persepolis wrote:
MY demons and devils absolutely do teleport away if they think they're about to die. It frustrates the hell out of my PCs...
Does their frustration advance the story?

Given the creation of recurring villains, and the fact that demons and devils are generally an "end game" form of monster, yeah i'd say it does. If it gets too frustrating pc's can always learn dimensional anchor

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