Tactics and Tips03/20/2007

Devilishly Difficult Opponents (Part 6)

Winning Tactics Against Bone 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.

Bone devils, also known as osyluths, get their name from their emaciated forms. These wretched, skeletal devils despise all other living creatures, especially those pesky adventurers.

The Bone 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.

Bone devils serve as the police and informers of the Nine Hells. Despised by even other devils, bone devils monitor the activities of their kin, rooting out the disloyal and snitching on those that disturb the status quo. Fighting Bone Devils

Bone devils despise living creatures with a passion and throw themselves into combat with abandon. Their wide mix of spell-like abilities, melee attacks, and excellent Armor Class make them dangerous opponents. Bone devils lack ranged attacks, so pelting one from afar with your own ranged attacks and spells is a good option -- if it doesn't close in with its use of greater teleport (see below).

  • Special abilities. Like most devils, bone 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 or another bone devil). Other than an excellent spell resistance, bone 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. Also, good-aligned weapons make all the difference, since they bypass the bone devil's damage reduction.

  • Fear aura. As a free action, a bone devil can create a 5-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 bone devil believes that its foe has a strong will. 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 as close to your paladin as possible is another way of resisting this effect, but bunching up has its risks as well.

  • Spell-like abilities. Bone devils have a diverse array of spell-like abilities to make your life miserable. The ever-popular greater teleport means a bone devil can be in your face whenever it likes. Dimensional anchor denies your characters to do the same, so cast your own on it to level the playing field. Bone devils often combine the effect of both fly and invisibility to swoop in unseen, dealing a nasty initial attack. Seeinvisibility or true seeing is a good way to avoid being sucker punched in this manner. Lastly, bone devils can cast wall of ice at will, so they do, which means you may find yourself blocked off or hedged in while the bone devil attempts to kill each of your companions (or unlucky little you) one by one. Fire-related spells, such as fireball, could effectively destroy such barriers, but they waste a lot of time and resources. Cast fly, dimension door, or other movement-based spells and abilities so that you can bypass the walls of ice a bone devil erects around you. Bone devils use major image to set up confusing diversions, including duplicates of itself, to split up opponents. Again, true seeing is a good way to see through any deceptive illusions that a bone devil may throw your way.

  • Poison. The stinger of a bone devil delivers a poison that deals Strength damage. If you know you're going to face a bone devil, make sure you buff up everyone's Fortitude save (in a similar manner to the Will save described above). Also, having spells and scrolls of delay poison and neutralize poison are critical so that you can keep your front-line warriors from having their Strength sapped to nothing.

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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