Pathfinder - Practical Guide to Fiendish Companions
Last Updated: June 26, 2017
I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.
The Antipaladin gets a unique ability than the common Animal Companion and Mount abilities. In addition to being able to select a horse, the Antipaladin gets access to several scary and unique monsters which can contribute greatly to the Antipaladin. The options available to the Antipaladin are based on the Summon Monster table, so anything that meets the alignment restrictions is an option, and the Antipaladin can toss aside his companion and replace it every time he gains a level.
Fiendish Boon is a spell-like ability. It doesn’t specify an action to use it, which means it defaults to a standard action to activate. As a spell-like ability, it can be dispelled, it doesn’t work inside anti-magic fields (your mount disappears if it walks into one), and using the ability provokes attacks of opportunity. Spell resistance applies to spell-like abilities, but because Fiendish Boon’s companion option functions like summon monster (which doesn’t allow spell resistance), spell resistance doesn’t matter.
Because Fiendish Companion works like Summon Monster, Augment Summoning applies, but it's hardly necessary and it's a poor investment of two feats.
If you plan to select a companion with spell-like abilities, remember this portion of the Summon Monster text:
A summoned monster cannot summon or otherwise conjure another creature, nor can it use any teleportation or planar travel abilities. ... Creatures summoned using this spell cannot use spells or spell-like abilities that duplicate spells with expensive material components (such as wish).
This puts some limitations on spellcasting companions, though most of them are still excellent. It's unclear how spells which require an expensive focus function, but RAW they appear to be allowed.
Using Your Companion As a Mount
I’m not 100% certain if summoned fiendish Animals are animals or Outsiders. The Fiendish template implies that they should be Outsiders with the [Evil] subtype, but nothing in the rules specifically states that that is the case. Check with your GM. If the creatures are animals, you can use Handle Animal to control, direct, and train them as per the Handle Animal skill description.
The summoned monster text states that "if you can communicate with the creature, you can direct it not to attack, to attack particular enemies, or to perform other actions." This is much easier for intelligent options like the Demons which you can summon, but the Fiendish template doesn’t make the animals intelligent or capable of speaking or understanding a language, so Handle Animal may be your best bet. As always, check with your GM.
In my experience most GMs will hand-waive the handle animal rules because they’re cumbersome to use at the table, and will allow players to control their companion/pet/summon like a second character. This is technically not how the rules work, but it’s considerably simpler.
You technically don’t need anything to ride your companion, but the mounted combat rules can be very confusing. Read the Ride skill description and the Mounted Combat rules thoroughly. If you only plan to ride your mount out of combat, you only need to make sure that the companion is physically capable of bearing you as a rider (a succubus giving you a piggy back ride is questionable, but if He-Man can ride a dire tiger than so can you).
If you plan to ride it in combat, you need to do a couple things even if you don’t take the Mounted Combat feat. None of the creatures are "combat trained", so you and your mount can’t attack in the same turn. A combat trained mount (such as a warhorse) and its rider can both attack if the rider passes a DC 10 Ride check. You will need to use Handle Animal to train your companion for the "Combat Training" general purpose, which takes 6 weeks and a DC 20 Handle Animal check. This is a big investment for a pet that you’re going to replace every few levels, so Wartrain Mount is a much better option. Once your companion is trained, you will need enough ranks in Ride that you can reliably hit the DC 10 ride check for the "Fight with a combat-trained mount" action.
Select a companion that complements you play style, or fills roles that your party needs. The following table indicates options which I recommend for specific companion roles at each Summon Monster level. Spaces with a dash indicate that there are no optimal options for that role at that level. You might choose to keep your companion from the previous summon level, or you might experiment with a different role. Summon level VIII and IX are intentionally omitted because they offer so few options.
|Level||Defender||Mount||Striker (DPS)||Striker (Grappler)||Utility|
|III||-||Aurochs||Cheetah or Leopard||Crocodile||Dretch (Demon)|
|IV||Dire Wolf||Deinonychus or Dire Wolf||Deinonychus or Rhinoceros||Tiger||-|
|V||Ankylosaurus||Woolly rhinoceros||Emperor cobra||-||Babau (Demon)|
|VI||-||Triceratops||Dire Tiger||Dire Tiger||Shadow Demon or Succubus|
|VII||-||Roc or Tyranosaurus||Tyranosaurus||Giant Anaconda or Tyranosaurus||-|
Fiendish Companion Options
Remember that all animals gain the Fiendish Creature template, which grants Darkvision, Spell Resistance, Smite once per day, and DR and energy resistance based on the creature's hit dice.
Levels 5-6 (Summon Monster III)
At this level your options are all CR 2, which isn't very scary by itself in combat so you will want to pick something which supplements your own abilities.
Ape: The ape has no interesting abilities except Scent, and doesn't do enough damage to be an interesting combat option.
Aurochs (herd animal): At large size, the aurochs can serve as a mount for medium creatures. The auroch's biggest appeal is its Trample ability, which does respectable damage and has a decent DC.
Boar: At medium size, the board can serve as a mount for small creatures, and that is about all that it can do.
Cheetah: 3 attacks with respectable damage, Trip, and Sprint. The cheetah is a great ally in combat.
Constrictor snake: The constrictor snake gets Grab, which is great, but at medium size it won't be able to grapple anything particularly strong.
Crocodile: At large size and with a bit more strength, the crocodile is considerably better with Grab than the constrictor snake, though it lacks the mobility.
Dire bat: At large size, the dire bat can potentially serve as a mount for medium creatures. While dire bats are lacking offensively, they have good flight and 40 ft. blindsense. This is one of the earliest flight options available to the Antipaladin.
Dretch (demon): Despite being a small shambling blob, the Dretch is surprisignly Good. DR, immunities, and resistances to 3 energy types make the Dretch very durable. Three attacks and a couple of spell-like abilities give some good offensive options.
Electric eel: The only appeal of the electric eal is that it can swim and it can make a weak touch attack.
Leopard (cat): The leopard trades in the cheetah's speed and Trip for dramatically improved damage with Rake.
Monitor lizard: Monitor lizards get Grab and Poison, and have good enough ability scores to back them up.
Shark: Despite large size and decent ability scores, the shark's damage is disappointing.
Wolverine: Three attacks, both climb and burrow speeds, scent, and Rage.
Levels 7-8 (Summon Monster IV)
At this level, your options range between CR 3 and 4, and your options are much more diverse than the previous set. Several options can serve as mounts for small or medium creatures, and many have excellent charge abilities like Pounce.
Bison (herd animal): A linear improvement on the aurochs, the Bison has nearly twice the HP and damage of the aurochs. The bison is one of the few options at this level that are CR 4.
Deinonychus (dinosaur): 5 attacks with respectable damage and Pounce. At medium size, the Deinonychus works as a mount for small creatures. A fantastic option for mounted combat builds.
Dire ape: A bigger ape with reach. Unfortunately its damage still isn't great.
Dire boar: At large size the dire boar can serve as a mount for medium creatures, and its gore damage is decent. Ferocity is nice since you don't care if it lives or dies.
Dire wolf: At large size the dire wolf can serve as a mount for medium creatures, and it has Trip. The damage isn't as good as the dire boar's Gore, but Trip is considerably more important.
Grizzly bear: At large size, the grizzly bear is ridable by medium creatures. 3 attacks with decent damage, Grab, and a very respectable 21 strength mean that the grizzly bear can actually grapple things.
Lion: At large size, the lion could be a mount for medium creatures. The lion combines three attacks, pounce, and rake into a scary pile of charge damage. However, the Tiger has better numbers and identical abilities, and is therefore strictly better.
Pteranodon (dinosaur): Clumsy flight and not enough damage to make up for it. If you want a flying mount, try the giant wasp or the dire bat instead.
Rhinoceros: At large size, the Rhinoceros is definitely a viable mount for medium creatures, and Powerful Charge provides some very scary damage. This is an excellent option for mounted combat charges.
Tiger: At large size, the tiger could be a mount for medium creatures. The tiger combines three attacks, Grab, Pounce, and Rake into a scary pile of charge damage. The tiger is fantastic as a mount or as an independent Striker.
Levels 9-19 (Summon Monster V)
This level brings CR 5 and 6 creatures. The Babau offers some utility spell-like abilities, and other options can fill various combat roles. At this level animals finally start getting DR and energy resistance from the Fiendish template.
Ankylosaurus (dinosaur): At huge size, the Ankylosaurus is definitely a viable mount. With 15 foot reach, good damage, and Stun the Ankylosaurus is a fantastic area control defender.
Babau (demon): A respectable melee combatant, the Babau is like bringing a pet fighter. In addition DR and demons' usual fantastic immunities, the Babau gets Defensive Slime and can cast several spell-like abilities (including Dispel Magic) at will. Remember that it can't use Teleport under the Summon Monster rules.
Dire lion: The dire lion is a lion with slightly bigger numbers. Unfortunately the improvements aren't big enough to keep the lion viable compared to the other options avaialble at this level.
Emperor cobra: Large size, decent damage, and poison which deals Constitution damage.
Giant moray eel: Decent underwater for its Grab and Gnaw abilities.
Orca (dolphin): Decent underwater, especially due to the fantastic blindsight range.
Woolly rhinoceros: A linear improvement on the rhinoceros, the woolly rhinoceros adds more damage and Trample.
Levels 11-12 (Summon Monster VI)
11th level adds the Advanced template to your Infernal Companion, which dramatically improves the ability scores of your companion. Your options now include CR 7 and 8 creatures.
Dire bear: The dire tiger is strictly better.
Dire tiger: A linear improvement on the tiger, the dire tiger is mechanically identical, but with slightly bigger numbers.
Elasmosaurus (dinosaur): The Elasmosaurus's only real draw is the 20 foot reach. It can be a passable underwater mount, but without a crowd control ability of any kind, it can't compete with the Tylosaurus.
Elephant: The Triceratops is strictly better. The elephant has weaker Trample, and doesn't get Powerful Charge.
Giant octopus: 8 tentacle attacks, all with Grab and backed up by 20 strength and large size. The giant octopus also has poison with decent Strength damage. Despite being aquatic, the Octopus has a decent land speed. If you can keep a tank of water nearby for it to catch its breath in, the Giant Octopus could be a nice pet grappler.
Shadow demon: The Shadow Demon is ridiculously useful. It's incorporeal, so it can walk through walls. It has all of the great demonic immunities/resistances. Its attacks deal bonus cold damage, and it has Pounce. On top of all that, it can cast Shadow Conjuration and Shadow Evocation each 3 times per day, giving it access to a huge chunk of the Wizard spell list. The only downside is that the Shadow Demon doesn't work in bright light, so you can't take it outside during the day. It can also use Telekinesis at will. No teleportation under the Summon Monster rules, and it's unclear if Magic Jar works. The universal Spell-Like Ability rules remove Focus components, but I'm not sure how Magic Jar would work without the gem focus. As a GM, I would allow its use if a focus was provided.
Succubus (demon): The Succubus isn't a combat monster, but with Vampiric Touch as an at-will spell-like ability, the Succubus is no slouch. Succubi have several other fantastically useful spell-like abilities which allow it to do a lot of useful things like scouting, diplomacy, and delivering messages. No teleportation or Ethereal Jaunt under the Summon Monster rules since Etheral Jaunt is a "planar travel ability".
Triceratops (dinosaur): Like a giant scaly rhinoceros, the tricerators has Powerful Charge and Trample, making it a fantastic option as a mount for mounter combat chargers.
Tylosaurus (dinosaur): Excellent aquatic mount with both Grab and Swallow Whole.
Levels 13-14 (Summon Monster VII)
This level brings CR 10 and 11 options, many of which are Huge or Gargantuan sized. Remember that big creatures may have trouble in crowded dungeon corridors.
Bebelith: The Bebelith is the stuff of my nightmares. It's huge, it's a spider, and it peels off enemies' armor. The Rot ability is basically Constitution-damage poison, but because it's not actually poison resistances to poison don't apply. The Web ability also adds some nice crowd control. The Bebelith is a passable Striker, and your GM could be persuaded to let you ride it. No plane shift under the Summon Monster rules.
Brachiosaurus (dinosaur): The Brachiosaurus' only good quality is its reach. It does decent damage, but gets only one attack and doesn't have a cool ability to back it up. You could certainly use it as a mount, but there are plenty of much better options.
Dire crocodile: The crocodile's big draw is Grab, and the giant anaconda does better damage, has more Strength, and has Constrict, making it strictly better. The giant anaconda also has more move types than the dire crocodile.
Dire shark: An excellent aquatic Grapple Striker. At Gargantuan size, it can grapple almost everything in the game. The dire shark also gets Swallow Whole.
Giant anaconda: At gargantuan size, and with Grab, Constrict, and a horrifying 36 strength, the Giant Anaconda is an iconic Grapple Striker. There is a bit of overlap here with the Tyranosaurus, so consider which better fits your needs.
Giant squid: The giant squid is to the dire shark what the giant anaconda is to the tyranosaurus. Both are excellent grapplers, but where the dire shark has Swallow Whole the giant squid gets Constrict.
Mastodon (elephant): The Mastodon is a bigger Elephant, and still can't compete with the Triceratops due to the lack of Powerful Charge.
Roc: Finally another flying mount option! The Roc has claws with grab, and its description provides an excellent example of how best to use the Roc: Grab something, fly up 200 feet, and drop it for 20d6 damage. Repeat as necessary until foe is a fine paste.
Tyrannosaurus (dinosaur): The Tyrannosaurus is fantastic both as a DPS Striker and ask a Grapple Striker. In addition excellent damage on its bite, it gets both Grab and Swallow Whole. Combined with Gargantuan size and a horrifying 32 strength before the Advanced template, the Tyrannosaurus can quickly grab and swallow enemies, then move on to the next target while the first gradually dies in its belly. The Tyrannosaurus must compete with the Giant Anaconda as a Grappler; the Anaconda's Constrict damage is considerably better than the Tyrannosaur's Swallow Whole damage, and the Anaconda has better defender and a climb speed, but the Tyranosaurus is considerably faster and makes more sense as a mount.
Vrock (demon): The Vrock is a decent combatant, and its Spores and Stunning Screech abilities give the Vrock some interesting combat options. Unfortunately, the Vrock lacks the supportive spell-like ability options of weaker demons. The few spell-like abilities available to the Vrock are decent, but won't go very far. No teleportation under the Summon Monster rules.
Levels 15-16 (Summon Monster VIII)
At this level the Antipalain's Fiendish Companion gains improved spell resistance. By this level the Fiendish template has been granting SR to your companion for a long time, but the Fiendish Companion resistance will greatly exceed the SR granted by the Fiendish template or the natural SR of demons.
Hezrou (demon): The Hezrou is your only option at this level, and its a disappointing option. The Hezrou gets 3 attacks, but their damage is poor. It gets Grab on all three attacks, which is nice, and the Hezrou has 27 Strength before you apply the Advanced template. It also gets some spell-like abilities, but the only utility option is Greater Teleport, which has been available since level 9. Even the offensive spell-like abilities are lackluster, especially by such high level.No teleportation under the\ Summon Monster rules.
Levels 17+ (Summon Monster IX)
You only get two options at this level.
Glabrezu (demon): The Glabrezu is huge, has 15 foot reach, 5 attakcs with decent damage, and a laundry list of useful spell-like abilities which can accomplish a dizzying variety of tasks. No teleportation or Wish under the Summon Monster rules, which unfortunately takes away the Glabrezu's biggest toy, but just spamming Chaos Hammer is enought to make the Glabrezu a powerful companion.
Nalfeshnee (demon): Despite a higher CR, the Nalfeshnee is worse than the Glabrezu. Its damage isn't any better, it isn't much tougher, and it has a worse list of spell-like abilities. The Nalfeshnee gets True Seeing permanently, which is nice, but by this level there are numerous other options to compensate for sensory issues.