Tactics and Tips02/20/2007

Devilishly Difficult Opponents (Part 3)

Winning Tactics Against Chain Devils

Fiendish Codex I discussed the horrid inhabitants of the Abyss, the demons. With the release of Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells, we look at the other side of pure evil: devils. Like demons, devils are insidious and vicious opponents, although their methods for bringing misery to the world are on polar extremes. For devils, tyranny and oppression are the tools for utter control. It's up to adventurers to stop this from happening!

Over the course of the next few installments, we'll examine some of the old favorites that can be found in the Monster Manual, including ways they fight, tactics that can be used against them, and new lore that applies to finding out more information on these terrible beings.

Also known as a kyton, the dreaded chain devil is one of the coolest devils around. Chains are what it's all about -- it uses them as clothes, armor, and weapons. The only saving grace is that it's far from subtle or clever.

The Chain Devil's Role

The chain devil doesn't appear to belong to any specific niche in the devil hierarchy, other than as a soldier and general bringer of destruction. The one thing they excel at is eliciting utter terror in their foes. Superior devils may order a chain devil to scare and torment a given victim, dragging out the dread and suffering for as long as possible before killing the victim in the most gruesome manner possible. Some more powerful devils stay the final execution, presenting themselves to the victim as a "savior" of sorts, offering a way to "banish" the vile kyton . . . for a price, of course.

Devils, Status, and Hierarchy

Regardless of which devil you're dealing with, you must always remember that they are the absolute epitome of both evil and law. For a devil, order and proper place of things aren't just abstract concepts -- they are built into the very fabric of their beings. Each devil knows exactly its place in the hellish pecking order and every one of them strives to improve their lot.

Adventurers should remember the rigid caste systems in which devils operate -- it may very well save their lives. Everything a devil does occurs because of specific orders given by a higher authority. Finding and eliminating a devil's superior (if possible) is one way of disrupting a devil's plan. Also, taking out a devil's inferiors that are out doing its bidding can muck up its plan, since devils are loathe to "request" reinforcements, which can be considered a sign of weakness.

As Fiendish Codex II points out, devils are particular about keeping records, which, if they fall into the hands of adventurers, can prove the weak link in disrupting a devil's insidious plans. Should PCs locate a devil's "base of operations," they may find notes, plans, and letters of intent (complete with fawning obsequiousness towards its superiors) that give insight into a devil's goals.

In short, injecting any sort of chaos into a devil's existence is a sure way to keep it on its toes (or hooves, tentacles, and so on) and lead to victory.

Fighting Chain Devils

Frightening in the extreme, chain devils are commonly mistaken as undead -- do not make this error! If you find yourself in a room full of chains dangling from the ceiling, be prepared to fight one of these monsters on their own terms. There are several key points that adventurers should keep in mind when fighting chain devils:

  • Special Abilities. Chained devils break the norm when it comes to special abilities. They are not immune to fire or poison nor do they have resistance to acid. Strangely, they have immunity to cold. This gives you many more options than you normally would have when facing other types of devils. If you can overcome the chain devil's moderate spell resistance 18, attacking it with acid, fire, or electricity-based spells is the best way to get past its excellent Armor Class. Also, chain devils have damage reduction 5/silver or good, meaning you don't have to break the bank in getting effective weapons to combat one.

  • Chains! Chains! Chains! If you're dealing with a kyton, you're dealing with chains. Lots and lots of chains. This means that you're dealing with a Medium creature with a reach of 10 feet at all times. They can make trip and disarm attacks with impunity, although most of the time they are content to bash a creature in hopes of getting a critical (which they get on a 19-20 thanks to their Improved Critical feat). Casting freedom of movement is a good way to prevent getting entangled, as are gauntlet locks (a steal at 8 gp) to prevent your weapon from getting disarmed. In turn, don't even bother attempting to sunder or disarm a chain devil's weapon -- it is effectively treated as a natural weapon.

As befitting their nature, chain devils like to surround themselves in chains of all sorts -- the better to use their dancing chains ability. They can control up to four of these chains, turning them into deadly animated objects. There are two ways to minimize the effectiveness of these chains. First, you could choose to begin sundering the chains so they cannot be used against you. Second, if you hold onto a chain, you have a chance to make a DC 15 Will save to prevent the chain from becoming active. If you can do this four times, the chain devil's ability is negated. However, it is unlikely that a chain devil would have only a mere four chains dangling about. Also, if a kyton catches on that you're trying to deny it its ability, it's more likely to activate it early.

The presence of these chains does open up a weakness. Because, unlike most devils, kytons are not immune to fire, heat metal cast by a sufficiently high level spellcaster can cause a chain devil a world of burning hurt. Rusting grasp is also an effective deterrent.

  • Unnerving gaze. Most people tend to forget the chain devil's other special attack: the unnerving gaze. Make sure that everyone in your group has their Will save buffed through the use of spells and magic items. Otherwise, counteract the loss to any victims with the use of aid, bless, and the like.

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, Monster Manual IV, and the Tome of Corruption from Green Ronin Publishing. He is also a contributor to the Game Mechanics, Dragon Magazine, and this lovely website. Eric lives in Seattle where the coffee is dark and bitter like his goddesses.

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