Tactics and Tips
Know Your Enemy (Part 16)
By Eric Cagle

Lore for Advespa, Amnizu, and Malebranche Devils

Monster Manual IV introduced a sidebar that has since become the norm when new monsters are provided: the Knowledge check. This handy item takes the guesswork out of what a character (as opposed to the player) knows about a given creature and rewards those characters with ranks in the appropriate Knowledge skill. Over the course of the next few installments, we'll provide Knowledge check results for a variety of monsters, starting with some of the most iconic that lack this sidebar.

With the release of Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells, it's time to turn our attention toward its horrid inhabitants: devils. Disciplined and fearsome to the extreme, devils are mighty and formidable opponents. Adventurers that intend to travel into the very mouth of the Nine Hells should be wise to gain some ranks in Knowledge (the planes) or be in for a terrible surprise when they encounter their first of many devils.

Let's pop over to the Monster Manual II for a bit and take a look at a few devils in that tome.

Advespa

A Peek Behind the Rules Curtain

So how do designers determine the Difficulty Class for Knowledge checks about creatures? The following is excerpted from Monster Manual IV:

The description of the Knowledge skill indicates that in general, the baseline DC of checks to identify monsters and remember one bit of useful information about their special powers or vulnerabilities is equal to 10 + the monster's HD. Every 5 points by which the check result exceeds the DC yields another useful piece of information (PH 78).

As a general rule of thumb, a DC 15 check or higher will reveal all of the base creature's type and subtype traits as defined in the glossary. This often includes information about energy resistance or various immunities. For instance, a DC 15 Knowledge (arcana) check reveals that dragons have high hit points (12-sided HD), all good saves, and have darkvision out to 60 feet and low-light vision. They eat, sleep, and breathe.

Information specific to the creature, such as its type of damage resistance, spell-like abilities, or immunities come with the high DC check results.

Wasplike and cruel, advespas serve as aerial reconnaissance in the blackened, roiling skies of the infernal planes. They are remarkably disciplined and work in concert well together. The more colorful the advespa, the higher in rank they are -- they often serve as the leaders of advespa swarms.

Advespa Lore

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (the planes) can learn more about advespas. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (The Planes)

DC Result

15 Advespas are female, wasplike devils that patrol the skies above the infernal planes. Most advespa are pure black -- additional markings indicate higher status. This reveals all outsider and baatezu traits.

20 They have damage reduction 5/silver or good, possess good spell resistance, and can regenerate (though they take normal damage from acid, from holy weapons, and from attacks that deal holy damage). An advespa's natural weapons as well as any weapons it wields are treated as evil-aligned and lawful-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

25 Advespas are excellent grapplers and have stingers filled with poison that deals Strength damage. Once per day, advespas can attempt to summon additional advespas with a variable chance for success.

30 Advespas can use the following spell-like abilities: change self, command, produce flame, and pyrotechnics.

Amnizu

Squat and piglike, amnizus hunt down those who intrude on the infernal realms, and they ensure that these intruders can never leave. They are the guardians of the Nine Gates of Hell and take their positions very seriously.

Amnizu Lore

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (the planes) can learn more about amnizus. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (The Planes)

DC Result

15 Amnizus are short, stocky, winged devils that serve as trackers and troubleshooters in the hellish realms. This reveals all outsider and baatezu traits.

20 Amnizus are immune to any effect that affects their Intelligence. They have good spell resistance and can regenerate (though they take normal damage from acid, from holy weapons, and from attacks that deal holy damage). An aminzu's natural weapons as well as any weapons it wields are treated as evil-aligned and lawful-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

25 The touch of an amnizu duplicates the effects of a feeblemind spell. Once per day, amnizus can attempt to summon other advespas or another amnizu with variable levels of success.

35 Amnizus can use the following spell-like abilities: fireball, major image, and sequester.

Malebranche Lore

Malebranches are huge, hulking devils that serve as warriors, enforcers, punishers, and occasionally mounts for more intelligent members. They are aggressive and tend to bully creatures smaller than themselves and grovel before those that are more powerful. They appear as massive, winged devils of humanoid shape, with an underslung jaw and enormous, slightly curved horns. Their eyes glow with flickering shades of red.

Malebranche Lore

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (the planes) can learn more about malebranches. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (The Planes)

DC Result

18 This is a malebranche, a hulking devil that serves as a warrior and enforcer for more intelligent devils. They are typically armed with immense tridents wrought from cold iron. This also reveals all outsider and baatezu traits.

23 Malebranches have DR 10/good and excellent spell resistance. They can regenerate, though they take normal damage from acid, from holy weapons, and from attacks that deal holy damage. A malebranche's natural weapons as well as any weapons it wields are treated as evil-aligned and lawful-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

28 Malebranches are excellent grapplers. They speak only Infernal, but understand Common -- particularly orders and curses.

33 A malebranche can produce a fear effect, similar to the spell, but it affects all creatures within 15 feet. They typically begin a battle with a powerful, flying charge at an opponent on the ground.

Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, and Player's Handbook.

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.


1995-2008 Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.