Babau in Echelon, Take 1

A few weeks ago I described how to reconstruct a demon, specifically a Babau, to better fit its textual description as a sneak. This was in part to make a creature that could be more easily adapted to other roles as well.

Now that Echelon’s a little more developed, I thought I’d take a look and see how I might go about it with what I have so far. It turns out I’m still missing a few pieces, but I think I still get something reasonably credible.

Babau, RSRD

Babau CR6

Always CE Medium Outsider (Chaotic, Extraplanar, Evil)Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +19, Spot +1

Languages Abyssal, telepathy

AC 19, touch 11, flat-footed 18 (+1 Dex, +8 natural)

Hp 66 (7d8+35); DR 10/cold iron or good

Immune electricity, poison

Resist acid 10, cold 10 fire 10

Fort +10, Ref +6, Will +6; SR 14

Special Protective slime

Speed 30 ft (6 squares)

Melee 2 claws +12 melee (1d6+5) and bite +7 melee (1d6+2)

Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.

Base Atk +7; Grp +12

Atk Options sneak attack +2d6, spell-like abilities, summon demon

Abilities Str 21, Dex 12, Con 20, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 16

SQ Protective Slime

Feats Cleave, Multiattack, Power Attack

Skills Climb +15, Disable Device +12, Disguise +13, Escape Artist +11, Hide +19, Listen +19, Move Silently +19, Open Lock +11, Search +20, Sleight of Hand +11, Survival +1 (+3 following tracks), Use Rope +1 (+3 with bindings)

Advancement 8-14 HD (Large); 15-21 (Huge)

Protective Slime A slimy red jelly coats the babau’s skin. Any weapon that touches it takes 1d8 points of acid damage from the corrosive goo, and the weapon’s hardness does not reduce this damage. A magic weapon may attempt a DC 18 Reflex save to avoid taking this damage. A creature who strikes the babau with an unarmed attack, unarmed strike, touch spell, or natural weapon takes this damage as well but can negate the damage with a DC 18 Reflex save. The save DCs are Constitution-based. [IMC these would be DC 15 saves –kjd]

Skill Bonuses Babau have a +8 racial bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Search checks.

Summon Demon Once per day a babau can attempt to summon 1 babau with a 40% chance of success. This ability is the equivalent of a third-level spell.

Babau, Echelon Versions

This is likely to take a few iterations as I refine the build.

Babau are described in the D&D 3.5 Monster Manual as ‘serving as assassins’, ‘devious, forming careful plans before going into plans’ [sic – I think they mean ‘action’], and ‘almost ever demon lord has a number of babaus employed as spies and killers’.

As such, I think they can use some significant ‘re-imagining’. I’m thinking vicious, sneaky, surprise killers. The build from the RSRD makes a fairly good stand-up fighter, and that’s not what is described.

The original is a CR 7 monster with 7 Hit Dice. In my earlier article I kept it about there, but now I think I want something about 7th level. I’ll assume I start with an array of 17, 16, 13, 12, 10, 9 (I have no idea how likely this is, but it is valid for 27-25-23, ignoring the +2 bonus).

Babau Pass 1, Sneaky Assassin

Babau, Pass 1
  • Heroic Martial Training
  • Heroic Great Dexterity (+4, 2/day +8 Feat of Dexterity)
  • Heroic Sneak Attack
  • Heroic Improved Sneak Attack
  • Heroic
  • Expert Improved Martial Training
  • Expert Sneak (Hide + Move Silently)
  • Expert Notice (Spot + Listen)
  • Expert Natural Armor (+2)
  • Expert
  • Basic Darkvision
  • Basic Search (includes Trapfinding)
  • Basic Disable Device (Disable Device + Open Locks)
  • Basic Escape Artist
  • Basic
  • Str 13, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 9
  • Str 14, Dex 22, Con 13, Int 14, Wis 11, Cha 9 (Expert bump, Great Dexterity)
  • BAB +6 (Level Bonus +3, MTB +3), Grapple +8 (or +12 if you can use Dex instead)
  • Attack Bonus +12 (BAB +6, Dex +6 – claws are a finesse weapon)
  • 13 + 6*(2+13)/2 = 58 hit points
  • Fort +4, Reflex +8, Will +3
  • Sneak Attack +4d6
  • AC 25 (+2 natural, +6 Dex, +3 LB, +3 MTB); touch AC 23, flatfooted AC 15, helpless 12

This doesn’t yet account for the protective slime, resistances or immunities, or spell-like abilities.

Outsider spell-like abilities are a bit of a bear, to be honest, because they usually include high-level spells (greater teleport at will is probably the biggest culprit). I wonder if these particular spell-like abilities are really needed, or even appropriate.

However, in the meantime I’ve covered a bunch of the physical-sneaky-assassin elements, with a very few talent slots left over.

Babau Pass 2, Outsider

The first pass focused mostly on trained abilities, with very little thought for racial abilities. This build will try to focus more on the natural capabilities of the creature.

Babau, Pass 2
  • Heroic Outsider Traits
  • Heroic Demonic Traits
  • Heroic Protective Slime
  • Heroic Sneak Attack
  • Heroic Spell-like Abilities
  • Expert Martial Training
  • Expert Great Dexterity
  • Expert Improved Martial Training
  • Expert Improved Sneak Attack
  • Expert Spell-Like Abilities
  • Basic Darkvision
  • Basic Search (includes Trapfinding)
  • Basic Disable Device (Disable Device + Open Locks)
  • Basic Escape Artist
  • Basic Sneak (Hide + Move Silently)
  • Str 13, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 9
  • Str 14, Dex 20, Con 13, Int 14, Wis 11, Cha 10 (Expert bump, Great Dexterity)
  • BAB +5 (Level Bonus +3, MTB +2), Grapple +7 (or +10 if you can use Dex instead)
  • Attack Bonus +10 (BAB +5, Dex +5 – claws are a finesse weapon)
  • 13 + 5*(2+13)/2 = 50 hit points
  • Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +3
  • Sneak Attack +3d6
  • AC 20 (+5 Dex, +3 LB, +2 MTB); touch AC 20, flatfooted AC 12, helpless 10

This is quite a bit closer, I think, though I’m leaving some blanks and making some assumptions.

This creature has Heroic Spell-Like Abilities (which I’ll explain later; for now know that it lets him use one list of spell-like abilities up to fourth-level spells, each once per day) which gets him dispel magic and summon Babau once per day each, plus darkness and see invisible once per day each (I’m cheating a little here, it should be one first-level and one second-level spell). The Expert Spell-Like Abilities allows the ‘expert spells’ to be used three times a day instead.

Rather than at-will darkness, dispel magic, see invisibility, and greater teleport, plus summon Babau once per day, this creature can use darkness and see invisibility three times per day each, and dispel magic and summon Babau once per day each. There is no greater teleport ability, though it could be learned later. Babau tend to get around like most everyone else, at least until they have better options (or they either get summoned or sent by their employers).

I’m frankly guessing about the protective slime being an Heroic ability. It may be fairly reasonable as an Expert ability – it’s undoubtedly inconvenient at times, and while it’s nice to keep melee away it’s not much use against ranged attacks or magic.

This creature is not as strong as the RSRD Babau, has lower attack bonuses (BAB and full), has lower hit points, and has more limited spell-like abilities. However, this creature does have the demonic and outsider traits (by fiat), including resistances, does have the protective slime, and is a much sneakier stab-inna-back kind of creature. It also loses the Power Attack and Cleave (and I’m not sure what to do about multiattack, frankly), but I’m not sure how appropriate the power-based feats were for the intended role.

If you care to look at it that way, ‘demon’ can be considered a class and the other abilities a mix of martial and magical abilities. Extreme gish, if you will, because it is required to have a bunch of non-martial abilities. From here, however, it can probably do quite a bit to customize its abilities to fill a different role.

Babau Pass 3, Race

This is almost backward, considering the mandatory elements of the Babau now instead of before building up the assassin- Babau. However, it’s also not unreasonable because I’ve had a couple of tries to see what I could come up with before deconstructing to raw material

Babau, Pass 3
  • Heroic Outsider Traits
  • Heroic Demonic Traits
  • Heroic Protective Slime
  • Heroic
  • Heroic
  • Expert
  • Expert
  • Expert
  • Expert
  • Expert
  • Basic Darkvision
  • Basic
  • Basic
  • Basic
  • Basic

Well, it looks like the mandatory abilities of the Babau boil down to ‘demon’. I’m willing to consider most of the rest as training specific to each creature. In this case Babau might be defined as “required to take Outsider Traits and Demonic Traits before any other talent, required to have darkvision and protective slime”. This allows for Babau to exist in each tier, and possibly with varying natural abilities (you could have Babau with weaker protective slime, for example).

At basic tier it is little more than a normal demon (Basic Outsider Traits, Basic Demonic Traits, Basic Protective Slime, Basic Darkvision). It may be a little sneakier and slimier (literally) than most, but pretty mild compared to later forms. As they mature and become more powerful they gain higher-tier Outside Traits and Demonic Traits, becoming more and more ‘outsider’ and ‘demonic’.

It may be that they are only required to take Outsider and Demon Traits talents up to a certain point and can diverge from there, but I’m not convinced that is a good approach. All high-tier outsiders should share certain traits, as should all high-tier demons, so I don’t think I’d pursue this option.

After being spawned they are probably typically grabbed and trained with the specific talents most often found useful… but – especially since they are chaotic demons – I really like the idea of having one trained counter to type. Perhaps there is an unusually intelligent Babau who has studied some magic (or a really tough bastard Babau they call in for the rough fights).

I don’t know yet. I have lots of options available to me. I may end up with, rather than a race for each demon type, just one race called ‘demon’ that has a number of builds depending on what it had to do to survive. There may be some common builds, but certainly no requirement that all demons follow them.

Other Notes

Developing Outsiders

Before I can do a definitive babau (or any other outsider type) I’m going to have to analyze the outsider traits, both for the primary (sub)type and the specific groups (demons, devils, angels, etc.). I started to write a bit about racial talents and builds (see Considering Non-Human Characters) and have given it some more consideration.

As a rule, I think the required abilities for any race or creature type should not exceed two top-tier slots at any point, simply because that is how many you have when you take the first level in a new tier. More or fewer talent slots may be used, but I don’t yet know how common that would be. Eating the first third of the top tier is a big, big cost to almost any build. It brings some nice things, of course, but it’s expensive.

I will assume for now that Outsider Traits and Demonic Traits exist and together provide the bulk of the abilities that make up being a demon, and are mandatory before expanding into other areas. We’ll pretend for now, until the analysis mentioned above can be done, that this covers the resistances and immunities.


This is a fair ways from being done. I frankly hadn’t realized how many pieces I was missing. However, now that I can see the pieces I’m missing I can work on it. I think deconstructing outsiders to work with Echelon might be a step done soon. Probably not tomorrow (it’ll probably be a long analysis piece), but soon, because I suspect the same work will be needed for other creature types and subtypes.

However, while I do have a bunch of holes still, the shape is nice. Let’s see where it goes.

One comment

  1. hadsil

    Monster development is not my forte. I’m pretty much player only so don’t have much experience in the matter. The few instances I did DM I used classed NPC bad guys and the occasional monster right of the Monster Manual.

    The details of the Babau I leave to you, but what I like from this read is how easy Echelon works in creating this creature. Once you get the details of various abilities into talents and appropriate tiers, even a new DM could just select what he wants and create his own monster. A DM wouldn’t have to worry if a monster is too powerful or too weak for the party. It is inherent its abilities are from a particular tier which can be matched with the party.
    As the developer you would have done most of the work already and have it printed in the Echelon Monster Manual, so to speak.

    Is it showing I’m really, really liking Echelon? :D

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