Winning Tactics Against Imps and Lemures
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.
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.
This installment, we tackle two of the weakest devils: the imp and lemure. While distinctly low in the devil power pyramid, both of these devils can prove a challenge for adventurers that aren't prepared.
The Imp's Role
Imps are one of the most common devils found outside the Nine Hells. These horrid little creatures typically serve as advisors, spies, and even familiars for evil spellcasters. When not working in this manner, imps try to remain hidden, harassing and corrupting good and innocent beings to satisfy their sense of cruelty.
Imps are tiny and fragile beings, and they know it. These craven creatures avoid any combat where they are not assured victory (or at least an utterly safe escape route). Imps never stay still for long and use all manner of dirty tricks to confound their enemy. This includes knocking over candles and lanterns, locking doors, and dropping objects onto enemies.
- Special abilities. Imps have some, but by no means all, of the special abilities and defense of most devils. They have damage reduction 5/good or silver, are immune to poison, and have resistance to fire 5. Silver weapons are a cheap(er) way of bypassing an imp's damage reduction. They lack spell resistance, so spells are a good way to go, especially acid, cold, and electricity damage-based spells. Imps also have fast healing 2, so if you hit an imp, keep up the assault; otherwise they'll retreat and heal up, returning for revenge.
- Spell-like abilities. Imps use detect good and detect magic with paranoid frequency to keep tabs on potential enemies. Imps rely heavily on invisibility, typically combining it with a flying assault with their stinger to deliver poison (see below). Because they become visible again after an attack, imps use hit-and-run tactics, returning to the enemy from a different, unexpected direction each time.
- Poison. An imp's poison is relatively weak, but annoying, especially when they target rogues and other characters that rely on Dexterity. Delay poison and neutralize poison are both effective ways to deal with this threat if your group is of sufficient level to have access to those spells.
- Beware the raven, or rat, or . . . Imps can assume one or two alternate forms, including monstrous spiders, ravens, rats, and boars. Imps use this as a form of disguise, not as a combat option. It trails opponents this way, acting innocuous until it can get close enough for an attack. Or, if things go wrong, it finds someplace to hide, changes into its alternate form, and "wanders" off hoping to fool the enemy into thinking it to be perfectly normal.
The Lemure's Role
As the most pathetic creatures in the universe, lemures exist only to suffer and do the bidding of every other more powerful devil around. They are incapable of independent thought, motivation, or tactics -- other than surging forward and clawing.
An individual lemure poses only a small threat, although they typically mob together in enormous swarms that can overwhelm even the most powerful enemy. Just remember that lemures are tougher than they look and harder to kill than one might believe.
- Special abilities. The only saving grace that a lemure has is its list of devilish defenses. Lemures have damage reduction 5/good or silver, are immune to fire and poison, and are resistant to acid and cold. Like most devils, lemures cook well with electricity-based attacks, so stock up on shocking hands, lightning bolt, and the like (if you are of sufficient level). Silver weapons are an effective and cheap way to make sure your martial-oriented members are dealing damage every time they hit a lemure.
- Mindless. Don't waste your time with any sort of mind-affecting effects, since it won't make a lick of difference on the mindless lemure. You'll find that it's best just to hit it with a sharp, pointed (and/or silver and good) stick.
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.