Since their introduction in the Van Richten's Guide, Ravenloft has gone to great lengths to make fiends diabolical again. There are no legions of hellspawn, no hells or heavens to travel to, no blood war cutting down thousands of faceless fiends an hour, cannon fodder for a multiversal conflict. Fiends in Ravenloft are rare, each a unique individual character, usually surrounded by a web of intrigue best suited for a high level party.
However, this is still a fantasy setting, and making fiends rare and unique has made them less accessible for situations when the plot calls for it. Friendly contact with an evil outsider is a requirement to get into the Blackguard prestige class, and Pathfinder gave us many more classes and archetypes that assume these monsters are everywhere. If your plot calls for a pact with darkness but fiends are scarce, here are some creative ways to get the job done.
1) The Ebonbane
Despite being trapped with in a magical crystal coffin in a very remote location, the Ebonbane's legend has spread among those seeking shortcuts to power. Those who come to bargain with him are frequently lulled by his imprisonment, thinking themselves in control as they slice their palms and place a bloody handprint on enchanted crystal. The truth is, they will never leave Shadowborn Manor unless he owns them, body and soul.
What he offers: Black Blade magus archetype, enchanted magic swords.
What he asks: the Ebonbane compels his agents to work against the Knights of the Shadows.
They find themselves hating anyone wearing the insignia or cloak of the Circle. Over time, this hatred grows to overshadow any prior ambition that caused them to strike their original bargain.
The Bound Slumber spell cast on Baltoi doesn't prevent her from dreaming. She has one of the few perpetual dream spheres in the Nightmare Lands, and while the Nightmare Court has tried to corral her influence by sequestering that sphere in a Mist Oubliette, she has corrupted some of their ennui. Born of nightmares and tainted with demonic essence, these vile creatures bring her dreamers to tempt and corrupt.
What she asks: Baltoi demands that each of these diabolists perform a rite that grants her domain powers, or weakens the spells that bind her. She doesn't care what they do after that.
What she offers: Many don't survive performing the rites she demands. Those that do gain access to the full spectrum of summoning from the lower planes and undergo two stages of transposition with a fiend of the appropriate alignment.
3) Tsvtieyft Schattendertodd
Bearing a name that means roughly “Second Shadow of Death,” this tenebris elevates the depraved and disturbed into legendary serial killers, its “Lustmorde.” The legends of its proteges always mention the city of Morfenzi, so those who would seek it out know to look for it there. If your campaign calls for a Jack the Ripper or Sweeney Todd, it's easy enough to say they traveled through Morfenzi at one point, and followed the call of darkness underground before journeying on.
What it offers: The Lustmorde are not usually spellcasters, so the gifts of the Second Shadow are those befitting a cinematic serial killer: mild damage resistance or natural armor, even bonus feats that like Diehard are perfect for a killer who just keeps coming.
What it asks: The master of the Lustmorde demands not just a body count, but murder as art. It drives its proteges to take risks for more kills even as it protects them.
Of course, all three of these fiends are powerful enough that they might grant any boon the plot calls for, and ambitious or desperate enough to assist anyone for any reason. While you can always have your would-be diabolist stumble across The Black Duke or Elsepeth, it's nice to know some fiends that are exactly as far reaching as you need them to be.
Leyshon Campbell has been playing and writing for Ravenloft for over twenty years, from the Kargatane's Book of S series, playtesting D&D 3E in a Ravenloft campaign, to the ill-fated Masque of the Jade Horror. He married his wife on Friday the 13th after proposing to her on Halloween. By tradition, the first story read at birth to each of their three children was The Barker’s Tour, from Ravenloft’s “Carnival” supplement. He is currently running the “Queen of Orphans” Ravenloft campaign.
Picture Reference: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/17529/Van-Richtens-Guide-to-Fiends-2e?it=1
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.