Excerpts 05/01/2007


Drow of the Underdark



Those cursed by Corellon Larethian are condemned to spend their days languishing in a lightless world that contains terrible monsters and life-threatening dangers. These beings are the drow, and you can learn more about them in the D&D supplement Drow of the Underdark . . . and here in our excerpts, too. Read on for the Introduction, a list of new feats, the prestige class called the Demonbinder, the monster called the shunned, and the nonplayer character drow named Anybys.

Demonbinder

"By the eight names of Lolth, I invoke thee. By the eight curses of the Flesh-Carver, I command thee. By the eight dooms of the Spider Queen, I summon thee. Fill my empty vessel with your profane might, your limitless power, and your inexhaustible wisdom. Let us become one and show the world your true power!"

-- Olarae Quavein, demonbinder

The demonbinder draws the essence of demons into herself to acquire their power. Such acts are forbidden, and doing so condemns the mortal to eternity in the deepest pits of the Abyss. However, the demonbinder cares little for her fate, being wholly concerned with power in the here and now. It is from this doom that she is able to invest herself with the power of fiends, and the farther she travels down the road of corruption, the more potent are the demons she binds.

Becoming a Demonbinder

Demonbinders all have at least four levels of warlock, but not all are pure warlocks. Many dabble in other classes, especially those who seek to augment their combat capabilities. Class levels in ranger, fighter, and especially barbarian are all common choices for demonbinder candidates.

Entry Requirements

Race: Drow.
Alignment: Chaotic evil.
Skills: Bluff 4 ranks, Knowledge (the planes) 8 ranks, Sense Motive 4 ranks.
Language: Abyssal.
Invocations: Baleful utterance plus any two others.

Class Features

The demonbinder prestige class increases the number of invocations at your disposal, and it also provides access to a number of supernatural abilities and resistances. From the start, you gain a pool of points that you use to bind demons that bestow their powers onto you. In many cases, you can use these demons to modify your eldritch blast. You also gradually acquire the immunities enjoyed by demons, as well as their damage reduction.

Invocations Known: At each level above 1st, you gain new invocations as if you had also gained a level in the warlock class. You do not gain any other benefits a warlock would have otherwise gained.

Damnation Points (Ex): You gain a number of damnation points equal to your Charisma modifier plus your class level. You use damnation points to activate your demonbind abilities. You cannot spend damnation points when in the area of a consecrate, hallow, or magic circle against evil spell. You regain all spent damnation points after 5 minutes of rest.

Demonbind (Sp): Once per day per class level, you can spend damnation points to invoke the essence of a demon and bind it to your soul. This changes your general appearance (which has no significant game effect unless stated otherwise) and also grants you certain benefits. Binding a demon in this way is a full-round action and lasts for 10 rounds.

If you invoke a second demonbind when another is still active, the new one replaces the old one. Temporary hit points granted by a demonbind vanish when the demonbind ends (or is replaced by a new demonbind).

Some demonbinds allow you to spend additional damnation points to gain an extra benefit. You can use this option only when affected by the demonbind, and the benefit lasts until the start of your next turn or until the demonbind ends, whichever comes first. Any saving throw allowed has a DC of 10 + class level + Cha modifier.

When under the effect of a demonbind, you gain telepathy out to 100 feet (MM 316) and the evil subtype if you don't have it already. If you are targeted by a banishment or dismissal spell, you instantly lose your demonbind. If you enter an area protected by a hallow or consecrate spell, the demonbind is suppressed for as long as you remain in the area.

Each demonbind is the equivalent of a spell whose level equals the damnation point cost for invoking the demonbind.

Dretch (1 point): Your body becomes flabby and grotesque, and your limbs become thin and spindly.

You gain 5 temporary hit points and resistance to acid 5, cold 5, and fire 5.

Babau (2 points): A sheen of red ectoplasm covers your hands.

You gain 10 temporary hit points and sneak attack +1d6 (as the rogue class feature).

In addition, you can spend 1 damnation point as a swift action to lace your eldritch blast with caustic slime, dealing an extra 5 points of acid damage.

Succubus (3 points): Small, useless black wings erupt from your back.

You gain 15 temporary hit points and the benefits of the tongues spell.

You can spend 1 damnation point as a swift action to gain a +5 competence bonus on Bluff and Diplomacy checks.

Yochlol (4 points): Your flesh takes on a slightly amorphous appearance, occasionally forming tiny vestigial tendrils that wave about as if searching for something.

You gain 20 temporary hit points, and you have a 25% chance to ignore the extra damage from a critical hit or sneak attack.

Also, you can spend one damnation point as a swift action to use gaseous form on yourself.

Bebilith (4 points): Your skin turns a dark shade of blue and your eyes redden. Six vestigial limbs that flap uselessly for the duration emerge from your ribs.

You gain 20 temporary hit points and the scent ability.

You can spend 1 damnation point as a swift action to gain a climb speed equal to your land speed.

Vrock (5 points): A down of gray and white feathers covers your body. Your face twists and contorts, forming a hard beak in place of your mouth. As you move, puffs of harmless dust rise from your body.

You gain 25 temporary hit points.

In addition, you can spend 1 damnation point as a swift action to augment your eldritch blast with screeching sonic energy. A target struck by this eldritch blast takes an additional 10 points of sonic damage and becomes deafened for 5 rounds (Fort negates deafness).

Glabrezu (6 points): Your hands twist into crab-claws.

You gain 30 temporary hit points and a +5 competence bonus on Bluff checks.

In addition, you can spend 1 damnation point as a swift action to gain the benefit of a true seeing spell.

Nalfeshnee (7 points): Your body swells with corruption, the skin stretching taut from the profound pressure created by the possessing fiend.

You gain 35 temporary hit points and resistance to acid 5, cold 5, and fire 5.

Additionally, you can spend 1 damnation point as a swift action to lace your eldritch blast with a nalfeshnee's smite. Non-evil targets with fewer HD than your character level who are struck by the eldritch blast are dazed for 1 round, overwhelmed by horrid visions (Will negates).

Marilith (8 points): An extra two sets of arms grow from the sides of your body, your legs fuse into a green serpent's tail, and your eyes burn with an unholy light.

You gain 40 temporary hit points.

Your original arms (if any) are your primary arms, and the new limbs are secondary limbs. You can wield extra weapons with these new limbs, but all such attacks are treated as off-hand attacks.

Also, you can spend 1 damnation point as a swift action to use one of your new limbs to fire an eldritch blast at a -5 penalty on the attack roll; you can't apply any eldritch essence or blast shape invocations (or any other modifications) to this eldritch blast.

Balor (9 points): Massive wings tear out of your back, and angry red flames wreathe your body.

You gain 45 temporary hit points and a fly speed equal to your land speed (good maneuverability).

Also, you can spend 1 damnation point as a swift action to make a melee touch attack that deals fire damage equal to the damage normally dealt by your eldritch blast.

Damage Reduction (Su): Starting at second level, you gain damage reduction 2/good. At 6th and 10th level, your damage reduction improves to 4/good and 6/good, respectively.

Resistance to Electricity (Su): Beginning at 3rd level, you gain resistance to electricity 5. At 5th level, this resistance increases to 10. This resistance stacks with the energy resistance class feature gained by the warlock[CAr].

Immunity to Poison (Su): At 7th level, you gain immunity to all types of poison, even magical poison.

Immunity to Electricity (Su): At 9th level, your resistance to electricity is replaced by immunity to electricity.

Playing a Demonbinder

By becoming a demonbinder, you sacrifice your immortal soul for the instant power granted by the Abyss. You draw demonic agencies inside yourself, triggering a vile transformation that bestows not only a sampling of a fiend's power, but also a resemblance to that fiend. Constant exposure to these creatures leaves a stain on your soul so foul that no act of restitution will ever cleanse it.

For obvious reasons, most demonbinders find little acceptance in most civilized lands and are forced to make do in remote places: dark lands filled with goblinoids, giants, and other creatures that care little for the interests of one depraved mortal. This, however, is not the case with the drow. Thanks to Lolth's association with the Abyss, particularly with regard to her personal domain (the Demonweb Pits), female demonbinders are valued members of the Spider Queen's clergy. Called the Daughters of the Demon, they treat regularly with fiends. Lending special insights into the nature of demons, they aid priestesses in a particularly terrifying ritual -- one in which these otherworldly beings are called up to take part in depraved couplings, hoping to gain the favor of the Queen of Spiders.

Combat

The demonbinder prestige class offers an incredible selection of abilities, granting you uncommon versatility. With the infusion of temporary hit points acquired from your demonbind, you have a greater ability to withstand attacks before you have to withdraw from combat.

Demonbinds also give you ways to improve your eldritch blast. However, they require additional expenditures of damnation points, which limits your options at lower levels but provides even greater flexibility with the use of your eldritch blast as you grow more powerful.

Advancement

The Abyss and the creatures that dwell within its endless depths contain enormous power that you have stolen and molded to serve your purposes. You turned to the forbidden knowledge of the demonologists, scouring tomes of the most profane knowledge to unlock the secrets of demonbinding. You learned how to open yourself to these spirits and invite them to reside within you. The depth of their wickedness shocked you at first, but each time you bound one, you found your reluctance slipping away until the process felt almost natural.

Unless you are ensconced in a church of Lolth, odds are that you are an exile, cast out of society for your terrible arts. You might surround yourself with minions for the protection they afford. If you are not an exile, and you are female, then you are a part of the esteemed Daughters of the Demon, a coven of female drow warlocks who advise and support the priestesses, helping them to exert their absolute control over the community. Though most of your time is spent in these endeavors, you occasionally use your magical talents to thwart your most ambitious competitors.

As you advance, you should invest in feats that improve your eldritch blast ability. Since the demonbinder class does not improve the amount of damage you deal, feats such as Ability Focus (eldritch blast) and Weapon Focus (eldritch blast), as well as Maximize Spell-Like Ability and Heighten Spell-Like Ability, make it harder for foes to resist this vital component of your arsenal.

Resources

The Daughters of the Demon receive assistance from the clerics of Lolth, who regard them as valuable tools for maintaining their status and control. In exchange for your support, the priestesses provide you with lodging, food, clothing, and all of life's necessities. In addition, they also offer free healing, if it lies within their power, as well as discounted spellcasting services. Though the rewards are considerable, make no mistake: You are their servant.

Demonbinders in the World

"How can you doubt the reasons behind the curse that banished the drow from the sun's light? The demonbinders prove their wickedness. They earned their fate -- and the day this world sees the end of the dark elves cannot come soon enough."

-- Estrella Montenegro, Knight of the Chalice

Demonbinders are a menace. They have no restraint. They eschew the good sense that keeps sane mortals from treating with demons. Demonbinders are too arrogant to recognize that they are the tools of the creatures they supposedly control, and the fact that they have not yet been bodily snatched into the Abyss to suffer incomprehensible tortures is only proof that these twisted individuals are immensely valuable to the demon princes.

Organization

From the very moment young drow exhibit a warlock's unique powers, they are taken from their houses, stripped of their familial loyalties, and steeped in the dark arts of warlock magic. Few survive the arduous training and profoundly evil rites meant to usher them into their next stage of development. For most, their "education" stops when they achieve adulthood, whereupon they take their place in the priesthood as members of the church. A few go farther than this position, however.

Warlocks who display a special knack for dealing with fiends and who exhibit a deeper understanding of those creatures study under the tutelage of established demonbinders, learning a different, darker path to power. Again, the casualty rate from such instruction is high, and many would-be demonbinders simply disappear, with only an echoing scream to suggest where they went and what took them.

Once past the initial stages of training, the newly ordained demonbinder oversees and sometimes participates in summoning rituals, cackling as the acolytes shriek with pain and terror from the caress of a conjured fiend.

Although demonbinders have great power, the path is not without its drawbacks. No priestess fully trusts a demonbinder, and with good reason: These individuals are every bit as fickle and dangerous as Lolth herself. When infused with a demon's essence, their capricious and violent tendencies become far worse.

NPC Reactions

Demonbinders are lumped together with demon worshipers, detestable in almost every circle and certainly by any civilized community. Those who learn of a demonbinder's nature, abilities, and allegiance are hostile and attack on sight if at all possible.

Demonbinders find welcome only among evil outsiders and creatures that venerate demonic gods. To such individuals, demonbinders are kindred spirits, serving the same powers for the same ends. They are indifferent, or friendly if they happen to serve identical masters.

Demonbinder Lore

Characters who have ranks in Knowledge (the planes) can research demonbinders to learn more about them. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC 10: There is little difference between demonbinders and the demons that possess them.

DC 15: Demonbinders, though they have much in common with other spirit sharers, are wholly in a class of their own. They transcend the limits of common sense, willingly giving their bodies to demons.

DC 20: A demonbinder uses his or her own corruption to open a gate inside himself or herself, allowing a malignant spirit to occupy his or her body for a brief time. From such unions, the demonbinder gains a variety of powers and resistances that vary with the demon or demons bound.

Outside drow cities, demonbinders are reclusive. Characters interested in tracking down a demonbinder have the best chances of doing so by using Gather Information in frontier villages at the edges of civilization.

Demonbinders in the Game

Demonbinders lurk at the fringes of society, so you should be able to incorporate them into an ongoing campaign with little to no work. Furthermore, demonbinders are blessedly rare, and unless the characters have been in a drow city for a long time, there's no reason to assume the PCs have had previous encounters with these characters.

Best as adversaries, low-level demonbinders make excellent lieutenants: They are versatile, and the techniques they use are hard to predict. A higher-level demonbinder might lead a group of cultists, perhaps acting as a prophet.

Adaptation

Demonbinders are vile warlocks, utterly in thrall to the demons they bind. To make this class more useful to players, you could downplay some of darker elements to bring it more in line with other transformative prestige classes such as the dragon disciple (DMG 183) and the fiend-blooded (Heroes of Horror). Replace the chaotic evil alignment requirement with any non-good. In addition, apply the following changes to the damnation ability described above.

Damnation (Su): You gain a number of damnation points equal to your Charisma modifier plus your class level. You use damnation points to power your demonbind ability. Spent damnation points return at a rate of 1 point per 5 rounds. You cannot spend damnation points when in the area of a consecrate, hallow, or magic circle against evil spell.

Damnation comes with a price. Whenever you use damnation points, you must succeed on a DC 20 Will save or gain one negative level. Negative levels gained in this way last for 1 minute. Evil characters are immune to this side effect.

Sample Encounter

Drow demonbinders keep company with Lolth's clerics. Outside drow circles, demonbinders reside in reclusive and forlorn places, in the depths of dungeons, or in forgotten towers. They surround their lairs with guardians to ensure they are not disturbed.

EL 13: Fearing the growing instability within her, Olarae Quavein (see page 75) volunteered to lead a strike team of six dark snipers against a svirfneblin outpost. She hopes that the slaughter will slake the thirst for violence that grips her soul.

Table 3-4: The Demonbinder Hit Die: d4

Level Base
Attack
Bonus
Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special Invocations Known
1st +0 +2 +0 +2 Damnation points, demonbind --
2nd +1 +3 +0 +3 Damage reduction 2/good +1 level of existing class
3rd +1 +3 +1 +3 Resistance to electricity 5 +1 level of existing class
4th +2 +4 +1 +4 -- +1 level of existing class
5th +2 +4 +1 +4 Resistance to electricity 10 +1 level of existing class
6th +3 +5 +2 +5 Damage reduction 4/good +1 level of existing class
7th +3 +5 +2 +5 Immunity to poison +1 level of existing class
8th +4 +6 +2 +6 -- +1 level of existing class
9th +4 +6 +3 +6 Immunity to electricity +1 level of existing class
10th +5 +7 +3 +7 Damage reduction 6/good +1 level of existing class

Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level): Bluff, Concentration, Disguise, Intimidate, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (the planes), Knowledge (religion), Sense Motive, Spellcraft, Use Magic Device.

Olarae Quavein CR 10
Female drow warlock[CAr] 5/demonbinder 4
CE Medium humanoid (elf)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 120 ft.; Listen +1, Spot +1
Languages Abyssal, Common, Drow Sign Language, Elven, Kuo-toan, Undercommon

AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 16
(+2 Dex, +4 armor, +1 deflection)
hp 36 (9 HD); DR 1/cold iron and 2/good
Immune magic sleep effects
Resist electricity 5; SR 20
Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +8 (+10 against spells, spell-like abilities, and other enchantments)
Weakness light blindness

Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee mwk heavy mace +6 (1d8)
Base Atk +5; Grp +5
Atk Options Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, eldritch blast (+8 ranged touch, 4d6)
Special Actions demonbind
Combat Gear potion of cure moderate wounds, potion of eagle's splendor, wand of fireball (CL 5th, 12 charges)
Invocations Known (CL 8th):
At will -- baleful utterance (DC 17), frightful blast (DC 17), sickening blast (DC 17), spiderwalk, walk unseen
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9th):
At will -- detect magic
1/day -- dancing lights, darkness, faerie fire

Abilities Str 10, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 20
SQ damnation 9, deceive item
Feats Ability Focus (eldritch blast), Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, Weapon Focus (eldritch blast)
Skills Bluff +17, Diplomacy +9, Disguise +5 (+7 acting), Intimidate +15, Knowledge (arcana) +7, Knowledge (the planes) +15, Listen +1, Search +5, Sense Motive +7, Spellcasting +11 (+13 decipher scrolls), Spot +1, Survival -1 (+1 on other planes), Use Magic Device +13 (+15 scrolls)
Possessions combat gear plus +1mithral shirt, ring of protection+1, chasuble of fell power[CAr], cloak of Charisma+2, vest of resistance+1[CAr]

Light Blindness (Ex) Abrupt exposure to bright light (such as sunlight or a daylight spell) blinds drow for 1 round. In addition, they take a -1 circumstance penalty on attack rolls, saves, and checks when in bright light.

Dark Sniper CR 7
Male drow scout[CAd] 6
CE Medium humanoid (elf)
Init +6; Senses darkvision 120 ft.; Listen +12, Spot +12
Languages Common, Drow Sign Language, Elven, Undercommon

AC 19, touch 15, flat-footed 19; Dodge, Mobility, uncanny dodge
(+5 Dex, +4 armor)
hp 36 (6 HD)
Immune magic sleep effects
Resist evasion; SR 17
Fort +4, Ref +10, Will +3 (+5 against spells, spell-like abilities, and other enchantments)
Weakness light blindness

Speed 40 ft. (8 squares); Shot on the Run, flawless stride
Melee mwk rapier +6 (1d6+1/18-20 plus poison)
Ranged +1composite longbow +10 (1d8+2/x3)
Base Atk +4; Grp +5
Atk Options Point Blank Shot, poison (drow poison, Fort DC 13, unconscious 1 minute/unconscious 2d4 hours), skirmish (+2d6, +1 AC)
Combat Gear 5 doses of drow poison
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th):
1/day -- dancing lights, darkness, faerie fire

Abilities Str 13, Dex 20, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 10
SQ able to notice secret or concealed doors, battle fortitude +1, fast movement, poison use, trackless step, trapfinding
Feats Dodge, Mobility, Point Blank Shot, Shot on the Run[B]
Skills Balance +16, Climb +10, Diplomacy +2, Hide +19, Jump +12, Listen +12, Move Silently +14, Search +12, Sense Motive +6, Spot +12, Tumble +15
Possessions combat gear plus mithral shirt, +1composite longbow (+1 Str bonus) with 50 arrows, masterwork rapier, gloves of Dexterity+2, cloak of elvenkind

Light Blindness (Ex) Abrupt exposure to bright light (such as sunlight or a daylight spell) blinds drow for 1 round. In addition, they take a -1 circumstance penalty on attack rolls, saves, and checks when in bright light.
Flawless Stride (Ex) A dark sniper ignores movement penalties in any terrain that slows movement.
Skirmish (Ex) +1 bonus on damage rolls and to AC in any round in which a dark sniper moves at least 10 feet.
Battle Fortitude (Ex) Bonus on initiative checks and Fortitude saves while wearing light or no armor and carrying a light load. Included above.

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