Tactics and Tips03/13/2007

Devilishly Difficult Opponents (Part 5)

Winning Tactics Against Ice 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.

The gelugon, otherwise known as the ice devil, is a horrible, insectlike devil that looks like something out of a nightmare. Incredibly smart and tough, with a bevy of special abilities, ice devils are sure to make the lives of your characters miserable.

The Ice Devil's Role

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.

Ice devils serve as commanders and leaders for lesser devils. You are more likely to find an ice devil in the company of other devils, but if you do find one acting alone, know that it has a very specific goal in mind and will fight tooth and nail (or mandible and claw) to battle off interlopers. They are extremely focused in their intent, and they never deviate from the mission plan unless victory can be quick, efficient, and helpful in the long-term stratagem.

Fighting Ice Devils

Ice devils are cold (no pun intended), methodical fighters. They are experts at directing other devils in combat and have no compunctions about summoning other devils, even when things are not going poorly for them. It's best to ignore an ice devil's minions and focus directly on it -- mop up the rest later when it has been defeated. When fighting these devils, adventurers should keep several key points in mind:

  • Special Abilities. Like most devils, ice devils are immune to fire and poison, have resistance to acid and cold 10, can see in darkness, have telepathy, and can summon other devils (in this case, either 2d10 lemures, 1d6 bearded devils, 2d4 bone devils, or another ice devil). Other than a good spell resistance, ice devils have no particular defense against electricity, so stocking up on wands of lightning bolt and scrolls of chain lightning is advised, as are shock or shocking burst weapons. Having good-aligned weapons is crucial, however, since ice devils can regenerate at an alarming rate -- only good-aligned weapons (and spells) bypass this effect.

  • Fear aura. As a free action, an ice devil can create a 10-foot-radius fear aura. Assume that it will use this ability each and every time that it comes within range of an opponent -- if an opponent doesn't run, the ice devil assumes that its foe succeeded on her Will save. Make sure everyone in your group has buffed up their Will saves through the use of owl's wisdom, cloaks of resistance, remove fear, and the like. In fact, having scrolls of remove fear (dirt cheap at 25 gp) can be a handy way to make sure that you have enough to go around. Keeping as many members close to your paladin as possible is another way of resisting this effect, but bunching up has its risks as well.

  • Moving reaaaallly slow. A successful hit by an ice devil's spear or tail induces numbing cold, similar to a slow spell. Obviously the best way to avoid this from happening is to stay out of melee combat with an ice devil, which means relying on ranged attacks and spells. However, between the ice devil's ability to fly and use greater teleport at will, this virtually guarantees that if it wants to get up close, it can.

  • Baby, it's cold outside. An ice devil can use several ice-related spell-like abilities at will: cone of cold, ice storm, and wall of ice. Obviously, if you know you'll be facing an ice devil, stock up on spells and gear that prevent cold damage. Ice devils make extensive use of wall of ice to hedge in opponents, then pelt them mercilessly with ice storm and unholy aura. It's interesting to note that an ice devil is not immune to cold damage -- it simply has cold resistance 10. This means that casting your own cone of cold at an ice devil is just as likely to work as any other spell.

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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