Four more devils! I’m nearly done! Then I get to talk about dinosaurs and dragons! I’m so excited!
But first, I need to talk about today’s monster: the Imp.
The Imp is the go-to spy of the Nine Hells. They’re often found throughout the Lower Planes. They’re often found completing a task given to it by its master, typically something along the lines of espionage among the ranks or swaying mortal souls to darkness. However, their tasks will never be achieved with speed. An Imp is many things; a quick worker is not one of them.
This lore, while it does flesh out the Nine Hells a bit more, isn’t all that strong. At best, it’s a setup for the party to face a basic enemy they can kill quickly. It’s a smaller part of a whole. But even among all of them, it’s hardly interesting.
A statement which I can also extend to its design.
Design: That Sure Is an Imp
Dammit, it’s the Horned Devil all over again! This thing is just so damn generic! It’s so boring to look at!
The only real stand-out feature is the scorpion tail, but that doesn’t exactly draw the eye. It is an effective addition, as it hints at its primary method of attack. Unfortunately, that’s about it.
This monster has two major primary abilities: shapeshifting and invisibility. There are multiple creative ways of showing these off; maybe capturing it mid-transformation or having a part of its body already being transformed. Maybe they could make parts of its body transparent. Unfortunately, none of those possibilities are taken on in this design. It just looks like a generic devil monster.
This design gets a failing grade in all respects for me. Without any creativity or effectiveness, it just comes across as boring and generic. In a book with so many amazing monsters, this one falls horribly flat.
Hopefully the stats can make up for that.
Stats: And Now I’ll Make This Monster… DISAPPEAR!!
Am I, the DM, saying this? Or is the party? That’s up to you.
This monster really earns its Challenge Level 1. It has a pitiful AC of 13 and an even more pitiful HP of 10. It has all the typical devil resistances, which basically doubles that HP number for low-level, poorly equipped parties. But even still, a couple of good rolls will send this thing back to the Nine Hells pretty quickly.
It’s also far from intimidating in damage numbers. With its stinger, it can deal 5(1d4+3) piercing damage, with an extra 10(3d6) if the victim fails a saving throw. The ladder part is pretty intimidating for a low-level player. But if they’re rolling well enough, which isn’t hard, they’ll avoid it pretty easily.
It’s the abilities that make this thing trickier to fight. With shapeshifting, it can transform into a giant rat creature, which gives it a whole slew of new mobility options. And invisibility does… take a wild guess. Neither one is especially threatening. But with proper use, they could make a battle with an Imp, or a group fo them, rather tricky, thus encouraging more creative tactics from the players.
It is a fairly interesting enemy to fight, at least at a low level. With a little creative application, both the shapeshifting and invisibility powers could make the fight a lot more interesting. But if you’re not careful, those abilities could very well go to waste, as they don’t change a lot dramatically. Without them, you have a fairly bland, quick fight. But with them? You have the perfect introduction to a devil-themed campaign!
Or you could use the Lemure. Or, if you want to fuck with them, just throw a Pit Fiend at them right off the bat! Let them know who’s boss!
I get that the Imp isn’t supposed to be especially impressive. Next to the Lemure, it’s at the very bottom of the food chain for the Nine Hells. Still, I would’ve appreciated a monster with cooler lore and a better design. It’s only real saving grace is its combat abilities, and even those aren’t all that strong.
With all that said, let’s put the Imp on the Best of the Bestiary!
- Death Tyrant
- Death Knight
- Bone Devil
- Shadow Demon
- Animated Armor
- Chain Devil
- Bearded Devil
- Barbed Devil
- Ice Devil
- Horned Devil
- Imp <———–
- Carrion Crawler
- Rug of Smothering
- Bugbear Chief
- Vine Blight
- Twig Blight
- Needle Blight
- Flying Sword
- Crawling Claw