Pit fiends are awesome, but I don’t see a lot of DMs using them, nor do I see players develop optimal strategies to counter them effectively. While they aren’t the strongest monster around, they can give players quite some trouble if they aren’t careful. You won’t encounter a pit fiend – unless your DM is a sadist – on your first day adventuring, so this Pit Fiend 5e Guide is geared more towards intermediate players and Dungeon Masters that are thinking about adding one or more to the story.
One thing is certain, while the pit fiend is the friend of any DM that wants to add some brimstone and fire to the path the adventuring party needs to take.
What is a pit fiend: Hierarchy, Lore, Appearance, and Habitat
Where do Pit Fiends Stand Amongst the Greater devils?
If you look at the hierarchy of monsters in Dungeons and Dragons, the pit fiend is pretty high up. They are a greater devil that is quite hard to kill and gives a ton of experience. There are a couple of things that make the pit fiends really hard to beat, and we will get into that later. We will first discuss a bit about their history and where they live.
The pit fiend is fearsome, even amongst the strongest devils. They are the generals of the 9 hells. They lead lesser devils into battle and carry out the wishes of the archdukes of the world below.
Due to their standing in the world beneath, they are seen as a sort of aristocracy. They have a very strong will and the bloodlust to defeat and eliminate anything that dares to oppose their goals and wishes.
Even at the highest levels, you will probably struggle with a pit devil if you come across them unprepared.
If we zoom in into the world of greater devils, there are three others worth mentioning. The pit fiend is the strongest of all and sits atop the hierarchy.
- Horned Devils – The horned devil is known for its strength and constitution. They have loads of hit points and the ability to fly. Their most fearsome staple attack is a triple multi-attack that uses melee. Just like almost every other devil, they have a strong fire attack at their disposal, Hurl Flame. If that isn’t enough, they have magic resistance.
- Erinyes – These are the warriors of hell. They are strong and have a fast-flying movement. These guys have pretty good Dexterity. The Erinyes have a nice longbow attack that has a chance to inflict poison on whom they hit. They have magic resistance and have three other important saving throws. 1. Dexterity 2. Constitution and 3. Wisdom. That is a pretty dangerous monster to come across!
- Ice Devils – In my opinion, the ice devil is the weakest out of these three. The main interesting thing they have going for them is the Wall of Ice. They also have a strong ice spear attack that is interesting to slow down opponents, but the damage is not very high. Ice devils have a 60% chance to summon a second ice devil. So if the battle lasts 2 rounds or more, you are pretty much guaranteed to have to fight another one.
If these guys sound strong, wait until you hear what kind of trouble the pit fiend can cause you!
Appearance and Lore
These greater devils are large and colored blood-red. They have long tails and huge wings that make them seem like they are wearing a cloak.
The armored scales on the body add another layer of defense. They have large fangs with a dangerous poison. They are almost 12 feet tall and weigh 800 pounds. They tower above almost any playable race and strike fear into everyone who comes across them thanks to their fearsome figure.
The Pit Fiend finds its origin from the most worthy of Gelugons and Erinyes. These were thrown into the hellfire in the Pit of Flames for a thousand and one days. Staying in the Pit of Flames for almost three years is not the only way a devil becomes a Pit Fiend.
The alternative is when a drop of Asmodeus itself is, it would become a greater devil. The majority of those greater devils would be Pit Fiends. These Pit Fiends, born from the blood of Asmodeus, are fiercely loyal to him. When a Pit Fiend is made in this way, it has a chance to have the ability to spawn Barbazus – a kind of lesser devil – when they shed blood.
Pit Fiends: What makes Them so Strong: The actions of a Pit Fiend
The pit fiend has a powerful attack that attacks in 4 different ways. One with the bite of his fangs, one with one of his claws, the third attack is done by his mace and the final attack with his tail.
- Bite – The bite of a Pit Fiend is not to be underestimated. It counts as a melee weapon attack and has a +14 to hit and does a 22 or 4d6 + 8 in piercing damage. If the target does not want to be poisoned, he needs to successfully do a DC 21 CON saving throw. Getting poisoned by a Pit Fiend is a major headache. You take a 6d6 or 21 poison damage every turn at the start, and you can not regain Hit Points. However, you can ´cure´ your poison by doing a DC 21 CON saving throw at the end of your turn.
- Claw – This is another melee attack. It has a 10 ft range, which is 5 ft more than the bite attack. This one hits 17 or 2d8+8 and is a slashing attack.
- Mace – The third melee attack is a devastating blow with the mace the pit fiend wields. Not only does this one hit 15 or 2d6 + 8 in bludgeoning damage, but you also get 21 or 6d6 fire damage. OUCH.
- Tail – Finally, the Pit Fiend also has a tail that hits 24 damage or 3d10 +8 in bludgeoning damage.
This multi-attack is pretty insane and can do some serious damage to anyone who dares to challenge a pit fiend unprepared.
Abilities of the Pit Fiend
Alright, now that we have established that the Pit Fiend is a pretty strong melee fighter, let’s take a deeper look into what else this greater devil can do. Now, it turns out; a Pit Fiend has quite an awesome arsenal to fall back on when fighting.
- Fear Aura – Being a fearsome creature has quite a big perk in Dungeons and Dragons. The Fear Aura makes everything that wants to fight a pit fiend first make a DC 21 Wisdom saving throw when they come within 20 feet of the pit. The only way to escape from this throw is if the Pit Fiend is incapacitated.
- So imagine you fail your fear aura wisdom throw, what happens? Well, you get frightened. Being frightened is pretty annoying. You have a disadvantage on your ability checks and attack rolls when you are in the line of sight of the pit fiend, and you aren’t willing to move closer to the source of your fear. Pretty annoying if you have a lot of melee fighters in your party.
- Magic resistance – So your barbarian has failed his wisdom throw; big deal, let’s just attack the Pit Fiend with magic. I have some bad news for your wizard because the Pit Fiend has a Magic Resistance that gives it an advantage on any saving throws it does against spells and any other kind of magical effects.
- Magic Weapons – This ability makes the weapon attacks of the Pit Fiend magical.
- Innate Spellcasting – this is another strong ability and, in my opinion, one that deserves a bit more explanation as it is harder to understand for even intermediate players. When you have the ability to do an innate spell, you can cast it without requiring a material component. To save yourself from being hit with it, you need – in the case of a Pit Fiend – to do a DC 21 for Charisma.
The first at-will spell that the Pit Fiend has is detecting magic. This spell allows the pit fiend to sense the presence of magic within 30 feet of him. This helps him against any magical traps your players might have placed.
The other at-will spell is a Fireball. Now, getting to cast this spell at will is a pretty powerful thing to have up in your arsenal. Each creature that is within a 20! Foot radius of where the fireball was aimed must make a DEX throw to save them from getting some serious fire damage. The range of this spell is 150 feet, so you better close the distance fast!
Next to these at-will spells, the Pit Fiend can also use hold monster and Wall of Fire three times a day. Hold monster can paralyze a monster for the duration of the spell, in other words, until whatever the Pit Fiend is holding makes a wisdom saving throw.
Wall of fire gives the Pit Fiend has the ability to create a wall of fire up to 60 meters long and high. Every creature in the area must do a DEX throw. If you fail it, you take fire damage. If you fail, you take half the damage. So you are going to get hit whatever you do.
Pit Fiend stats, resistances, and immunities
The stats of a Pit Fiend
If you are a number freak just like me, checking out the stats of any monster is the first thing I analyze. So in true saving the best for last – well, the best for me at least – here are the stats a Pit Fiend has.
The pit fiend has an armor class of 19 due to its natural armor, which is nothing to scoff at. This armor is combined with a massive amount of Hit Points that you will need to chip away from if you want to defeat a pit fiend.
If you look at their stats, you can see that they have one glaring weakness. Their dexterity is really low compared to the rest. It is a 14 (+2). Their saving throw is dex + 8. So if you have any strong attacks that force the Pit Fiend to make a DEX save, you have a nice advantage going into the battle.
Two stats deserve some extra attention. The Pit Fiend has 26 (+8) Strengths and 24 (+7) charisma. These are the stats you will have to pay attention to, as most of the attacks of the Pit Fiend are based on these two.
Resistances and immunities
Damage Resistance – Just like a lot of higher-level monsters, the Pit Fiend has a couple of very strong resistances. Obviously, cold isn’t going to be effective on them very much, but bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from an attack that is not magical and silvered. So that is pretty powerful.
Damage immunities – Well, the most obvious immunity is fire. If you spend 1001 days in the Pit of Flames, you are bound to be able to handle the heat. Next to this, the Pit Fiend also has poison immunity. This comes with a condition of immunity from being poisoned.
Frequently asked questions about Pit Fiends
Question: How often can a Pit Fiend cast Fire Ball?
Answer: They can cast it at will. This means anytime they feel like it, and it is their attack turn, they can use the Fire Ball attack. Remember that a Fire Ball has a 20 ft sphere radius, so make sure your party is spread out.
Question: Does Fear Aura always work?
Answer: No, there are two scenarios where it does not work. The first one is when the Pit Fiend is incapacitated. The second one is if you are able to do a WIS saving throw. When you succeed, you can not be frightened from the Pit Fiend for 24 hours.
Question: What is the Pit Fiends’ weak point?
Answer: Their weakest stat by far is DEX. If you can force them to use that stat to make saving throws, you can give them quite some trouble. A ranger will have the benefit of also staying out of the devastating multi-attack.
The Pit Fiend is the strongest amongst the hordes of the greater devils. It has a massive HP pool, very strong resistances, and a dangerous multi-attack that can do some very nasty damage if you are unlucky. If your Dungeon Master is good at using fireball, hold monster and wall of fire, you are going to be in big trouble if your party is under-leveled and unprepared!
For dungeon master, the Pit Fiend gives a large attack pool to choose from and some pretty nice stats to back them up. The monster should not be used until your players are at least level 13 or higher. Any lower, you might cause a few deaths!