Author Topic: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)  (Read 19707 times)

Offline Gnorman

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Practical Demonkeeping
(A Summoner’s Guide to the Lower Planes)



"At them, my fiends! Serve your master well, and their souls shall be yours to feast upon!"

- Trephalia Vannon, student of The Vital Pact.

Let’s face it. Everybody likes summoning fiends. Okay, not everybody. Paladins, clerics of good-aligned gods, and the occasional overly-naturalistic druid may have a few minor ethical dilemmas about the subject. But for those of you willing to delve into a little fire and brimstone, delving into various forbidden grimoires, codices, tomes can be an extremely rewarding - if incredibly dangerous - practice. But before you start to chalk out that circle or cast that summoning spell, it’s good to know a bit about what exactly it is you are coercing into doing your bidding – even if it’s only for one round per level. Collected here is a vast array of demons, devils, yugoloths, demodands, and miscellaneous evil outsiders for your perusal. Not every thing in the list will be extraplanar or evil, but most things will be - my requirements are basically thus: be an evil outsider, or an evil magical beast/aberration/construct with the extraplanar subtype, or hail from a plane ranging from Acheron to Pandemonium. I’ll be hitting up the Monster Manuals, Fiend Folio, Fiendish Codices, and more (even a few issues of Dragon magazine, for the more adventurous players out there).

Much of this guide is intended for use with the Malconvoker from Complete Scoundrel. As summoning becomes an extremely viable strategy with this PrC (and summoning creatures with the [evil] subtype is the way to go with the class), I highly recommend it for any hopeful practitioners of deceptive demonology. Regardless of the Malconvoker love (of which there is plenty), this can still be a handy guide. Use it for your Truenaming Fiendbinder. Use it for your Nar Demonbinder or your Demonologist. DMs, use it for your BBEG and his cabal of demonic cultists. Or your malicious priests of domineering, devil-consorting congregations. Most importantly, have some fun dabbling in demonology. Just don't take it too far - down that road lies ruin. Or power. Or something.

A few quick preliminary notes:

Note that I won’t go into detail about how to best become a summoner – guides for that have already been written. In particular, I recommend:

Treantmonklvl20’s Mastering the Malconvoker
Mxyzplk’s Legal 3.5 Summonable Monster List
Mxyzplk’s extremely handy Malconvoker cheat sheets, my personal inspiration for this guide
The always-useful Summoning Handbook
And the Conjurer's Handbook, which doesn't focus on summoning but is still a great resource for wizards and sorcerers looking to become familiar with Conjuration.

A typical entry will have the following details:

CR: Obviously, the Challenge Rating of the creature.
HD: Its hit dice, relevant for binding.
How to get it: The way to summon it. If there's a RAW method, I'll use that. If not, I'll use my own scale, as noted below.
Role: The roles mentioned below - the basic use of the summon.
Fluff: Irrelevant to some, it might give you some ideas about how to roleplay these fiends or tempt them into copacetic binds.
Advantages: Self-explanatory; the reasons why you'd want to use the creature.
Disadvantages: Likewise; the reasons why you'd not want to use it.
Notable SLAs: The cream of each creature's spell-like ability, psi-like ability, or maneuver crop.
Final Evaluation: My subjective take on the creature's overall efficacy, both in and out of combat.

I'll be grouping creatures into six basic roles, as follows:

Brute: Self-explanatory. Melee monsters and damage-soaking tanks.
Assassin: Stealthy, subtle, or highly mobile creatures.
Minion: Mooks with few abilities that don't have a well-defined role or work well only en masse.
Manipulator: Lockdown, debuffing, or other relevant battlefield control.
Caster: Those who depend heavily on their SLAs or blasting abilities.
Overlord: These guys can do it all - melee, casting, control, whatever you need, an Overlord can most likely provide. 

For creatures without a RAW method to summon them: Here’s the Summon Monster CR scale that I’m basing the guide on. It’s a fairly lenient scale – harsher DMs might skew it down a notch or two.
SM I: ½
SM II: 1
SM III: 2
SM IV: 3
SM V: 4-5
SM VI: 5-6
SM VII: 7-8
SM VIII: 9-10
SM IX: 11-13

For bindings: Normally, the caps for bindings are 6 HD for Lesser Planar Binding; 12 HD for Planar Binding; and 18 HD for Greater Planar Binding. The Malconvoker's Improved Calling boosts it by 2. Infernal Bargainer, a Forgotten Realms-specific feat for outsiders only, can boost it by another 2. I won't be mentioning specific binding methods in the "How to Get It" entry, as you should be able to determine that by the creature's HD. Assume I'm taking that Improved Calling ability into account in most cases. There's also an obscure spell called Implore in Dragon #336 that allows you to bind a creature of up to 22 HD, provided you have its truename. With Improved Calling and Infernal Bargaining, that puts the theoretical limit at 26 HD. And then, of course, there's Gate - bringing us up to 40 HD.

If two versions of a creature exist, I'll be using the most recent one. Most will be 3.5, but I will delve into 3.0 sources as well, since they're technically still canon.

And without further ado, the Encyclopedia Demonica:
« Last Edit: April 26, 2013, 10:57:36 PM by Gnorman »

Offline Gnorman

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Re: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2012, 07:34:54 AM »
Demons, Part I


"So many to seduce, so little time. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm a demon. As eternal and enduring as evil itself. I've got all the time in the planes."

- Alessandra, succubus temptress, recently brought back to the Material Plane.

Chaotic, vicious, and destructive, demons are a paramount choice for a caster looking to pick up a powerful caster or a sneaky tactical choice. They have plenty to offer (more than any other) in terms of variety, and a number of them are beautiful choices. Still, with such a large pool to draw from, there's bound to be a few duds. A number of them have annoying auras, or are heavily impractical, or occupy confoundingly unnecessary niches. But while they are on the whole not as combat-adept as Devils, they are good choices for their spells and tactical possibilities.

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Re: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2012, 07:35:23 AM »
Demons, Part II


"Another puny mortal thinks he can tame the masters of the Abyss, eh? Leash primal chaos, if only for a short while? Very well, 'master,' I shall do your bidding... for now."

- Wages of Sin, glabrezu soulstealer, assessing his latest mark.

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Offline Gnorman

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Re: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2012, 07:35:41 AM »
Demons, Part III


"Qern think head bestest part. Taste like candy. Qern like to feel squish of brain and crunch of skull. You listen Qern, you maybe get squish and crunch too."

- Qern, hezrou scout, instructing other demons on the finer points of mortal anatomy.

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Re: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2012, 07:35:57 AM »
Devils, Part I


"Before I agree to fight on your behalf, I'm going to need you to sign here. And here. Initial here. We'll need the form in triplicate, too. Here, let me prick that finger for you."

- Malaphar, Barbazu Fifth Rank, to a prospective client.

Devils may not have the variety and sheer numbers that demons have, nor do they have the scheming nature of Yugoloths, but they make up for it with discipline and powerful abilities. Devils are often your best choice for throwing down in melee, although they have enough specialized breeds to provide you with a summon for almost any situation. Devils are especially adept at working together, with many devils getting bonuses for having allies adjacent to them - with your summoning abilities, that's a very good thing.

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« Last Edit: April 26, 2013, 11:13:03 PM by Gnorman »

Offline Gnorman

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Re: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2012, 07:36:13 AM »
Devils, Part II


"I've been in thirty-two separate engagements in the Blood War since I joined my current legion alone. I command troops of devils with more willpower in their left horn than you have in your entire body. I will not be your puppet, mageling."

- Orobas, Gelugon Second Rank, in response to a calling.

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Re: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2012, 07:36:39 AM »
Yugoloths


"You want me to fight for you, do you? All right, then. Where, who, how long, and, most importantly, how much?"

- Jezzerik, ultroloth commander, in the midst of negotiations.

Yugoloths are odd fiends out in the grand infernal hierarchy. Most of them are disappointing summons, either too generalized to be effective or specialized in strange, ineffectual ways. Many have abilities that seem random or counterproductive to your aims. But a few Yugoloths are absolutely spectacular, almost redeeming their entire race. They're especially adept at spellcasting, but arguably the best melee summon (at least, for its level) is a Yugoloth - the Voor.

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Re: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2012, 07:36:55 AM »
Other Fiendish Creatures, Part I


"Mortals. Think the planes are your own personal playground. Not quite, fleshling. There are creatures out there far beyond your ken - and most of them are hungry."

- Bakasura, rakshasa rajah, moments before devouring a careless acolyte.

Now we hit the true miscellany of the guide, creatures from all over the lower planes that don't fit into any established hierarchy. Whether roaming the colliding cubes of Acheron or swirling through the winds of Pandemonium, the denizens of the lower planes are as unpredictable as their surroundings. Sadly, many of these creatures pale in comparison to more conventional fiends, but there are a few hidden gems amongst the crowd. There are also a few contiguous groups here not large enough to warrant their own sections, like the Rakshasa, Demodands, and the Quori. Despite the duds, there's still nothing quite like riding into battle on the back of a Nightmare.

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Re: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2012, 07:37:33 AM »
Other Fiendish Creatures, Part II


"Did you think you could cage the greatest jailor in the planes, fool? The tortures of Othrys' acid swamps will seem like a mercy when I've finished with you."

- Slurgor the Viscous, shator warden, to a surprised hedge wizard.

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Re: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2012, 07:37:57 AM »
Other Fiendish Creatures, Part III


Do you know why humans are afraid of the dark? It's because of us. In the far shadowed corners of sleep we lurk. Watching. Waiting. Everybody sleeps, mortal. When you do, I'll be there.

- Shtalev-Nal, tsucora quori, taunting a captured Adaran.

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Re: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2012, 07:38:15 AM »
Aspects


Toying with gelugons and pit fiends may be a popular past time for you, mortal. But you seek to control the King of Hell now, even if only a pale reflection. Such arrogance shall not go unpunished.

- An aspect of Asmodeus, Lord of the Ninth, to an upstart arcanist.

Not satisfied with rank-and-file fiends? Then allow me to introduce you to aspects. Avatars of gods and fiendish royalty, aspects are mere shadows of their originals. Still, they possess a portion of the power. Aspects are often skilled and wield a signature power of their master copy - whether it is Orcus' eponymous Wand or Demogorgon's beguiling gaze. Entrapping aspects is a risky business, however - though each aspect is independent, the danger of drawing the attention of fell deities and fiendish overlords should give all but the most powerful summoners pause. Besides that, most suffer from a debilitating weakness - no spell resistance. Malconvokers beware, as summoning two aspects is considered at best nigh-impossible, and a reckless backfire at worst - aspects are so incensed by the presence of an identical twin that they drop everything to destroy it.

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Re: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2012, 07:38:36 AM »
Lords of Evil


I shall not be made to serve a mortal! I will gnaw the flesh from your bones and listen to it scream. And when you are nearly a flayed, bloody carcass, I shall have my priests revive you, so that I may repeat the process, eternally. Such is the penance for your presumption.

- Demogorgon, Prince of Demons, trapped in a king-size calling diagram.

A spell exists in Dragon Magazine #336 called Implore that acts as Greater Planar Binding, but up to 22 HD as long as you know their truenames. This allows you to bind creatures up to 26 HD, such as the extremely powerful devilish and demonic aspects from the Fiendish Codices. Or, one could go the easier route and just use Gate (up to 40 HD without CL boosters), though deities and unique beings are not compelled to serve you - the following, though technically "aspects," probably qualify as unique (explicitly so in some cases). Though binding a demon lord or a duke of hell is one of the quickest routes to destruction available to a character, this guide professes to encompass nearly all playstyles - even epic ones. Needless to say, binding such aspects should only be attempted by the most powerful (and suicidal) characters.

Every single demon lord is available to you with this method. You can bind most of the dukes of hell (technically still aspects, but so powerful that in most games, you might as well consider them the real deal), but you're out of luck with Asmodeus, Baalzebul, Belial, and Mephistopheles - their HD totals are too high for you to bind them.

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« Last Edit: April 27, 2013, 12:08:23 AM by Gnorman »

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Re: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2012, 07:38:56 AM »
Strategizing Your Summons


"Now, ye see what ye did, laddie? Ye got Hilda here all angry. Now I'm gonna sit back and watch while she rips yer guts out the top of yer head."

- Valgrim Battlehorn, dwarven conjurer, to a very unfortunate giant.

Using your summons isn't always just about choosing the right one. Though you have a wealth of options available to you, it's also a good idea to consider other methods of power - the classic combination of feats, spells, and items. Included below are a number of choices to consider when looking to increase your power as a summoner, from dashing hats to massive buffs. Pay attention to the following section, and you just might go from dabbling demonologist to the calm eye at the center of a summoning storm, a whirling dervish of extraplanar extermination.

A few notes:

I will be concentrating almost solely on Wiz/Sorc and Cleric/Archivist entry with these lists. Though Druids are capable summoners, they do not have access to Summon Monster on their spell lists - therefore I will be ignoring druid-specific spells, feats, and items. Look for a druidic summoning supplement in the future. Other classes such as the Bard, Binder, or Wu Jen have summoning capabilities, but make for poor summoners in general and awful Malconvokers.

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Re: Practical Demonkeeping (A Summoner's Guide to the Lower Planes)
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2012, 07:39:33 AM »
Favorite Summons and Final Thoughts


Available Summons by CR
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Available Summons by Summon Monster Level
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Favorite Summons
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Update History

7/26/09 - Guide started on the Giant in the Playground forums
7/27/09 - Demons through Monster Manual V complete, handbook moved to 339
7/28/09 - Fiendish Codex I added to the Demons section
7/29/09 - Fiend Folio/Ghostwalk/Manual of the Planes added to the Demons section
7/31/09 - Book of Vile Darkness/Expanded Psionics Handbook/Miniatures Handbook/Draconomicon/Lost Empires of Faerun/Underdark added to the Demons section.
8/1/09 - Demons are complete!
8/10/09 - After a bit of a vacation (and a few days of not being able to access the site), Devils from the Monster Manuals I-V have been added.
8/14/09 - Devils are complete.
8/20/09 - Yugoloths are complete.
8/27/09 - 339 is now a piece of crap. GitP formatting is irretrievably disorganized. Handbook restarted, reorganized, and revisioned on Brilliant Gameologists.
9/2/09 - Other fiends through MMV complete.
9/12/09 - IT'S BLOODY DONE. Well, except for the Aspects section. But the original encyclopedia? Bam.
11/3/09 - Aspects are finished, as well as most of Strategizing Your Summons.
1/26/10 - After a long hiatus, work has recommenced. The end is within sight.