Diabolus for Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons

Getting ready for my players to enter the Swamp of Misplaced Hope. A sect of the Region of Dreams bordering both Baator and the Far Realm, I need to create some truly unique creatures fort his wild place.

However, in my experience, the best creatures always come straight from old-school D&D Lore.

That’s why I’m bringing back the diaboli.

  • Who are the diaboli?
  • Why create the diaboli for 5e D&D?
  • Design notes on the diaboli for 5e.
  • 2 diaboli variants for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons.

Who are the diaboli?

The diaboli are somewhat obscure. I only discovered them after digging up info on the equally obscure Region of Dreams and the Demi-plane of Nightmares. As far as I can tell, none of these things have been mentioned past 2nd edition. The only stats I found for the diaboli are straight up from AD&D 2nd edition (yeah, they totally had THAC0).

Here’s what I read about them:

“Diaboli come from a mysterious realm Mystarans called the Demiplane of Nightmares. Creatures from this realm are the stuff of nightmares for humans and similar beings – though most diaboli are in fact cheerful and well-meaning. Conversely, the diaboli and other intelligent beings of the Demiplane of Nightmares regard humans and demihumans as ‘nightmares incarnate’.

Adventurous diaboli discovered gateways to other planes several centuries ago; since then, many have explored and even settled the worlds beyond their home. Because they feel revulsion toward humans and most ‘normal’ creatures, diaboli avoid contact with other life forms.

Diaboli are similar in size to humans. Their well-muscled bodies are mauve or lavender. Their feet have hooves like a pig’s and their hands have only three fingers with an opposable thumb; otherwise the hands look very human. Their pupils are vertical reptilian slits. Most have prominent noses. Their long, forked tongues give them enhanced senses of smell, hearing, and heat detection. Two small horn protrude from the top of their heads, vestigial remains from early evolution. Each diabolus has a tail just slightly longer than its legs.

Diaboli come in at least three subraces, distinguished by overall hairiness. The bare diabolus is completely hairless. The common diabolus has hair like most humans, and wear beards as well. The hirsute diabolus also has thick, curly, goatlike hair over the lower half of its body.

All diaboli speak their own language. In addition, they can communicate with their tails, twirling and positioning them in a complex code.”

Diaboli Combat

Diaboli more or less fight like humans do and can earn classes like humans. According to the notes from the second edition, here are the features Diaboli have that are different than most humanoids:

  • Tail and bite attack. The tail deals poison.
  • Tridents not only work exceptionally well in the hands of a diabolus but also doubles their speed since they can do cartwheels while holding the tridents (wtf?) and make charging attacks.
  • Tougher natural armor.
  • Prime Material magic has no effect on diaboli. Inversely, diaboli magic doesn’t work on Prime Material beings. However, diaboli magic works on other diaboli as well as other denizens of the Demi-plane of Nightmares.

Diaboli Society

Here’s how diaboli function in society and their habitats:

  • They love chaos and think that’s its the natural “disorder” of things. While they won’t push their beliefs on others, they will try to bring their joys to others when they can.
  • Diaboli lack organization and structure within their society. They live without rulers as anarchists where they govern themselves through a sense of fair play and internal moral codes.
  • Most diaboli have little interest in violence. Those who do fight to protect their loose communities do so out of a sense of adventure, not because they enjoy it.
  • Diaboli technology is somewhat primitive. However, they have a great appreciation of art, philosophy, generosity, and tolerance that exceeds those of most humanoids.
  • Both humans and diaboli regard each other as revolting, seeing the opposite as physically nightmarish. Experienced adventurers can overcome this prejudice.

Pretty interesting stuff and a lot to work with.

Why create diaboli for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons?

I love a good humanoid race. And the fifth edition has done a great job of making each race interesting and unique. So it’s fun for me to create a new one that not only I can use for my own adventures, but for others to build on, as well.

Furthermore, a lot of my players are experienced with D&D lore. So it’s hard to surprise them. Even the best non-meta player can still meta. For example, I threw trolls for the first time at my PC’s the other day and suddenly they unloaded with fire and acid attacks despite rolling lukewarm Intelligence (Nature) checks.

With a race they’ve never heard of (that’s immune to Prime Material magic, no less!) it’ll be interesting to see how they react.

Design notes for 5e diaboli.

Now that we know a lot more about this race, it’s just a matter of converting these statistics to 5e stats. The one feature that really sticks out about these guys is their magic immunity. That really slows down most balanced parties. So I’ll have to find a good challenge rating comparison for this functionality; for example, magic resistance adds +2 to the effective armor class of the monster when calculating challenge ratings. But what about total immunity?

My best guess would be that it’d be on par with damage immunities which double the effective hit points and potentially toss in the effective AC bonus, too.

The rest of the stuff should be easy to create.

I think I’ll forego the hair-variants listed in the old lore, and spring for a classic diabolus and an elite version. Two should do me for now.

These monsters are freely available for you to use with your 5th edition campaigns; just not commercially! And the art isn’t mine. Borrowed!

 

diabolus

Diabolus

Medium humanoid (nightmare denizen), chaotic good


Armor Class 12 (natural armor)

Hit Points 39 (6d8 + 12)

Speed 30 ft.


Abilities Str 14 (+2), Dex 12 (+1), Con 15 (+2), Int 10 (+0), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 11 (+0)


Senses passive Perception 11

Languages Diaboli

Challenge 3 (700 XP)


Cartwheel Dash (1/day). If the diabolus is wielding a trident, it can increase its speed for up to 1 minute as if affected by the haste spell. Until the effect ends, the diabolus gains a +2 bonus to AC, it doubles its base move speed, it has advantage on Dexterity saving throws, and it can only take the Dash and Disengage actions on its turn. When the effect ends, the diabolus can’t move or take actions until after its next turn, as a wave of lethargy sweeps over it.

Charge. If the diabolus moves at least 10 feet straight toward a target and then hits it with a trident attack on the same turn, the target takes an extra 9 (2d8) piercing damage.

Keen Hearing and Smell. The diabolus has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks made to hear or smell.

Nightmare Denizen. The diabolus is immune to spells and spell-like effects used by creatures that do not have the nightmare denizen tag. Inversely, spells and spell-like effects used by the diabolus have no effect on creatures that do not have the nightmare denizen tag.


Actions

Multiattack. The diabolus makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its tail.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.

Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) slashing damage. If the target is a creature it must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution Saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. A paralyzed creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Trident. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., on target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage, or 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage if used with two hands to make a melee attack.

diabolus-2

Diabolus Bellator

Medium humanoid (nightmare denizen), chaotic good

 


Armor Class 15 (breastplate)

Hit Points 90 (12d8 + 36)

Speed 30 ft.


Abilities Str 16 (+3), Dex 12 (+1), Con 17 (+3), Int 10 (+0), Wis 14 (+2), Cha 13 (+1)


Skills Perception +5

Senses passive Perception 15

Languages Diaboli

Challenge 6 (2.300 XP)


Cartwheel Dash (1/day). If the diabolus is wielding a trident, it can increase its speed for up to 1 minute as if affected by the haste spell. Until the effect ends, the diabolus gains a +2 bonus to AC, it doubles its base move speed, it has advantage on Dexterity saving throws, and it can only take the Dash and Disengage actions on its turn. When the effect ends, the diabolus can’t move or take actions until after its next turn, as a wave of lethargy sweeps over it.

Charge. If the diabolus moves at least 10 feet straight toward a target and then hits it with a trident attack on the same turn, the target takes an extra 9 (2d8) piercing damage.

Keen Hearing and Smell. The diabolus has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks made to hear or smell.

Nightmare Denizen. The diabolus is immune to spells and spell-like effects used by creatures that do not have the nightmare denizen tag. Inversely, spells and spell-like effects used by the diabolus have no effect on creatures that do not have the nightmare denizen tag.


Actions

Multiattack. The diabolus makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its tail, or two attacks with its trident.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage.

Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) slashing damage. If the target is a creature it must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution Saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. A paralyzed creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Trident. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., on target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage, or 7 (1d8 + 3) piercing damage if used with two hands to make a melee attack. If the target is a creature, the diabolus can choose one of the following additional effects:

  • The target must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or drop one item it is holding (diabolus’s choice).
  • The target must succeed on a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw or be knocked prone.
  • The target must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of the diabolus’s next turn.

 

Thanks for reading!

I think these turned out pretty well. There was some tricky wording on some of the special abilities, but hopefully, they make sense. Please, feel free to use these (not commercially, of course) and see how they function in your own campaigns.

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See you later!

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