The release of the Fiendish Codex I has opened the gates to Hell, or at least the endless layers of the Abyss! Demons have always been popular foes for adventurers at all levels. This tome takes an in-depth look at the classic demons as well as new abominations from this chaotic plane. In the conclusion to this series, we look at the sexy yet deadly succubus.
Succubi flaunt the trend of most demons in that they try to keep their true appearance and motivation hidden from mortals. They are masters of deception, lies, and temptation, and often play the role of both ally and enemy to their intended victims. Although relatively powerful, succubi are often in the employ of stronger and more influential demons who grant them tremendous freedom to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Characters who find themselves facing a succubus must contend with multiple layers of lies, deceit, and betrayal before they can go head-to-head against such a comely, cunning demon. Succubi are also experts at portraying themselves as helpless damsels, feeble old men, and innocent children in need.
Succubi as Manipulators
Succubi are the consummate manipulators of the demon world -- some say of all the planes! They thrive in this role, offering corrupting advice and granting boons that always end in despair. When a succubus chooses its target, it often disguises itself as both the enemy and ally of the target so as to sow the most discord. This means that characters who suspect that a succubus is involved should be wary of everyone near and dear to the target. True seeing is a good way to spot a succubus for what it really is. Remember that succubi are manipulators, so you may find yourself helping a victim who doesn't necessarily want to be helped. While succubi sometimes find random victims at the bottom of the social strata, most focus their effort on the movers and shakers of the world who have enough resources and manpower to make outside interference with the succubus's plan both difficult and dangerous.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (the planes) can learn more about succubi. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the lore from the lower DCs.
16 Succubi are beautiful and seductive demons who tempt mortals to their doom.
21 Reveal all the succubus's tanar'ri traits and special qualities.
26 Succubi can assume almost any form and converse in any language. They can teleport at will and are able to charm almost any living creature.
31 A mere kiss from a succubus can drain energy from its victim and make him susceptible to suggestion.
As stated in the Monster Manual, succubi are not warriors. They avoid combat whenever possible. Indeed, if a succubus gets into a fight, it considers its mission a failure, which can throw it into a remarkable rage. If the demon's disguise is stripped away, it commonly assumes its natural form in order to inflict more damage with its claws and gain mobility from its wings. Many of the succubus's abilities require Will saves to avoid. If you know you're going to be fighting one, pump up everyone's Will save with spells, scrolls, and potions. Otherwise, the succubus is likely to turn your allies against you. Cold iron and good-aligned weapons are the best methods of defeating the succubus's formidable defenses.
The succubus's most effective attack is its energy drain. This requires a great amount of guile to lure in potential victims, although in a pinch, a succubus is not averse to grappling with a foe to deliver this devastating attack. If you expect to fight a succubus, make sure your close-combat characters have freedom of movement cast upon them to avoid being grappled by the demon. Succubi prefer to grapple people they can get alone -- if someone succumbs to a succubus, they probably are under the effect of the succubus's suggestion ability, so be cognizant of odd behavior. The best way to avoid this nasty attack is to stick to ranged attacks and spells, despite the succubus's formidable Spell Resistance, immunities, and resistance to most energy attacks. For that reason, stick to spells that attack its demonic nature -- dispel evil, holy smite, holy word, and the like.
Succubi can cast charm monster and suggestion at will, meaning that they can 'convince' most creatures to avoid fighting in the first place or at least send the most dangerous opponents far from the battlefield to be dealt with later. Succubi can use both ethereal jaunt and greater teleport at will, meaning they are nearly impossible to pin in one place. Use of dimensional anchor is crucial for boxing in a succubus -- doing so is guaranteed to throw the demon into a near mindless rage.
Succubi have both telepathy and detect thoughts, meaning that it's almost impossible to sneak up on one or hide your intentions from it. Mind blank is great for preventing the succubus from reading your thoughts, although this is sure to tip the succubus off that something is amiss.
Succubi spend most of their time on the Material Plane shape changed into one form or another. Their tongues ability lets them converse fluently in any language, making the disguise near perfect. They prefer forms that seem natural to the surroundings -- such as native Small or Medium humanoid races, so as not to attract too much attention to themselves.
Succubi loathe using their summon tanar'ri ability and do so only when cornered with no way out. If a succubus manages to summon a demon, you know that it's either seriously injured or trapped. Do your best to bring the succubus down at this point, avoiding the vrock if possible.
To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, Player's Handbook, Fiendish Codex 1.
About the Author
Eric Cagle cut his teeth at Wizards of the Coast, but now lives the extravagant freelancer lifestyle. Look for his name on D&D, d20 Modern, and Star Wars books. Recent credits include d20 Apocalypse, Races of Destiny, and Monster Manual III. He is also a contributor to the Game Mechanics, Green Ronin Publishing, Dragon Magazine, and this lovely website. Eric lives in Seattle where the coffee is dark and bitter like his goddesses.