D&D Monster Monday: Ice Devil

No one could have warned you of the ice devil’s ferocity. This insect-like creature was unfathomably quick and strong. You were cut down within seconds, but this creature did everything within its power to ensure those seconds were the most miserable and painful moments of your existence.

I’m going to try something new this December with regards to my Monster Monday series. Every Monday this month will be a Monster Monday and they will all share an icy/wintery theme. Let’s kick-off the holiday season with the ice devil, a creature I recently kitbashed into terrifying a party of four level 14 adventurers!

The ice devil is the textbook definition of not judging a book by its cover. What looks like some weird, lanky, insect-like fiend is effectively an impenetrable tank with consistent damage output. Ice devils certainly have earned their CR 14 ranking despite their silly appearance.

I think this makes them even more dangerous. Making light of a creature with the power to blast its enemies with a wall of frigid ice is a mistake the party will quickly regret.

So, for our first foray into the wintery wonderland of this December’s D&D Monster Monday series, let’s talk ice devils!

ice devil from the 5e monster manual. It looks like a blue-ish praying mantis with hands and a spear
This does not look like a bulky tank-type creature, but trust me, it is! Credit: WotC.

Ice Devil Lore

The ice devil, also known as the gelugon (which should definitely be pronounced like “glue gun”), is typically found on the cold layers of the Nine Hells. These are nasty spots whose temperature can reach as low as -60 °F!

It should come as no surprise that if a creature is comfortable in such a nasty climate they must be nasty themselves. Ice devils are dastardly beings, often selected to be commanders of the infernal armies of the Nine Hells.

Ice devils are notoriously angry and resentful creatures, even by devil standards! However, they channel this anger and resentment into productivity. It’s common for ice devils to soar through the ranks in the infernal army by slaughtering enemies of the Nine Hells.

Typically, ice devils require no weaponry to be a fearsome foe. Their claws, teeth, and tail are all razor-sharp and coated with a bone-chilling frost. However, some ice devils will wield a special spear that is known for its flesh-rending barbs and unbearably-cold magical touch.

Ice Devil Stats and Abilities

You can find the ice devil on page 75 of the Monster Manual.

Stats

Size: Large fiend (devil)
AC: 18 (Natural Armor)
HP: 180 (19d10 + 76)
Speed: 40 ft.
STR: 21 (+5)
DEX: 14 (+2)
CON: 18 (+4)
INT: 18 (+4)
WIS: 15 (+2)
CHA: 18 (+4)

What a fantastic spread we’ve got here. Not a single ability score is under a +2, and even then these “bad” scores are propped up by a bonus to saving throws made with those abilities. Therefore, ice devils all have at least a +7 in all three of the most common saving throw abilities which is fantastic!

The ice devil’s attack actions all use Strength for their ability so that +5 modifier for it will prove to be a real threat to the party. There are certainly more offensively-gifted high CR creatures, but I’d say the well-balanced defenses that this ability score array provides is worth that trade-off.

An AC of 18 is spectacular especially with how this AC is fortified with some choice damage resistances and immunities. Their 180 HP isn’t amazing, but again, having resistance/immunity to a few common damage types helps bolster that HP to respectable numbers.

Their 40 ft. of base movement speed is also an excellent baseline stat to help their mobility and combat effectiveness. Especially when you can couple this with the battlefield control that Wall of Ice grants the ice devil.

All in all, the creature’s base stats are all above-average to some degree.

Resistances, Immunities, Saves, and Skills

Saving Throws: Dex +7, Con +9, Wis +7, Cha +9
Damage Resistance: Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from nonmagical attacks that aren’t silvered.
Damage Immunities: Cold, Fire, Poison
Condition Immunities: Poisoned
Senses: Blindsight 60 ft., Darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages: Infernal, Telepathy 120 ft.
CR: 14 (11,500 XP)

As I mentioned previously, the ice devil has exceptional modifiers for all three of the important saving throw abilities. Plus, they have Magic Resistance which practically makes any saving throw against the party’s spells a formality.

Immunity to cold, fire, and poison damage is spectacular. These are three common offensive magic damage types so this creature will prove to be quite frustrating for the party’s magic-users between Magic Resistance and these immunities.

The resistance to nonmagical weapons is a nice perk, but at CR 14 you’re probably not throwing one of these creatures at the party until they’re seasoned adventurers. In most games, this generally means that all of the martial characters have at least one magical weapon. So, yes, on paper this is a great damage resistance to have, but in practice, this is mostly just a formality for their statblock.

Ice devils have exceptional vision. Their darkvision is twice the distance of a typical creature’s vision, plus they have Devil’s Sight so they can even see through magical darkness. They also have a Blindsight of 60 ft. which is a neat perk that can prove useful in the right scenario.

All in all, the ice devil certainly earns its CR 14 ranking. However, I will say that this is mainly due to their impressive defenses than their offensive capabilities.

Abilities and Traits

Devil’s Sight. Magical Darkness doesn’t impede the devil’s darkvision.

Magic Resistance. The devil has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

If the party was banking on crowd controlling an ice devil through the use of Darkness or any other magical darkness effect, they’re out of luck. Devil’s Sight allows any devil to see right through this magical darkness without any issue.

Giving this creature Magic Resistance should be a criminal offense. Whoever at Wizards designed the ice devil statblock for 5e clearly wanted to ruin any magic user’s day who has the misfortune of crossing paths with one of these creatures.

Actions

Multiattack. The devil makes three attacks: one with its bite, one with its claws, and one with its tail.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) piercing damage plus 10 (3d6) cold damage.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d4 + 5) slashing damage plus 10 (3d6) cold damage.

Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) bludgeoning damage plus 10 (3d6) cold damage.

Wall of Ice (Recharge 6). The devil magically forms an opaque wall of ice on a solid surface it can see within 60 feet of it. The wall is 1 foot thick and up to 30 feet long and 10 feet high, or it’s a hemispherical dome up to 20 feet in diameter. When the wall appears, each creature in its space is pushed out of it by the shortest route. The creature chooses which side of the wall to end up on, unless the creature is incapacitated. The creature then makes a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw, taking 35 (10d6) cold damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The wall lasts for 1 minute or until the devil is incapacitated or dies. The wall can be damaged and breached; each 10-foot section has AC 5, 30 hit points, vulnerability to fire damage, and immunity to acid, cold, necrotic, poison, and psychic damage. If a section is destroyed, it leaves behind a sheet of frigid air in the space the wall occupied. Whenever a creature finishes moving through the frigid air on a turn, willingly or otherwise, the creature must make a DC 17 Constitution saving throw, taking 17 (5d6) cold damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The frigid air dissipates when the rest of the wall vanishes.

The ice devil has quite the kit to work with while they are in combat. They have devastating melee attacks, an attack with reach to give them a wider attack of opportunity radius, and a powerful AoE ability that displaces the creature’s foes.

The ice devil’s Multiattack has an above-average action economy value as well. This particular Multiattack includes three separate attacks which, in total, come out to 64 average damage per round dispersed between four separate damage types. Each attack has an impressive +10 to hit thanks to their fantastic Strength modifier as well.

Wall of Ice is the signature move of the ice devil. This is a powerful attack that alters the battlefield for up to 1 minute by summoning a giant wall or dome of ice. Any creature that is in the way of the ice will have to make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw or take an average of 35 cold damage. Monks and rogues rejoice since you have a decent chance of getting out of this entirely, but for the rest of us, that’s a daunting save to make and a solid chunk of damage to take.

This attack is not included in the creature’s Multiattack. Instead, Wall of Ice will take your full action to use, but as long as you hit at least two enemies with it you’ll be dishing-out a higher average damage than your entire three-attack Multiattack.

Plus, you can utilize the wall as a way to separate yourself from the enemy since it will provide you full-cover and will push yourself and the enemy away from each other. You’re immune to cold damage, right? Use that to your advantage by slapping the wall between yourself and other melee combatants!

Just keep in mind that you can only use Wall of Ice when it’s available. Once you use it, you’ll need to roll at the top of your turn each round to see if it’s available to use again.

Ice Devil Strengths

Impenetrable Defenses

I’m still not convinced that this is an actual D&D 5e creature and not an armored tank. 18 AC is quite a healthy amount of armor to have in 5e. It’s certainly on the high-end of the spectrum.

Their 180 HP isn’t anything to boast about, but it is when it’s backed behind three extremely common damage type immunities. Not only that, but they have exceptional modifiers to Dexterity, Consitution, and Wisdom saving throws on top of Magic Resistance.

Point being, you’re going to have to dig deep to deal your attack’s full damage to one of these creatures.

The ice devil artwork from D&D 3.5e. It's pictured alongside other devils.
The ice devil’s art design has stayed surprisingly consistent throughout every D&D edition. Credit: WotC.

Excellent Maneuverability

40 ft. of movement speed is above-average in comparison to a typical medium-size adventurer. That 10 extra feet of movement will come in handy when you need to reposition or if you wish to make a mad dash for the party’s backline. It also ensures that the party won’t be able to effectively retreat since you’ll always be able to eventually overcome their movement.

Thanks to your immunity to cold damage, you can also use your Wall of Ice to separate yourself from melee assailants if the need arises. This will allow you to plop a nice wall of ice between yourself and your attacker(s) and be pushed out of harm’s way without taking any damage.

However, they’ll be graced a DC 17 Dexterity save where they’ll take an average of 35 cold damage on a failed save!

For such a heavily-armored tank, the ice devil has a surprising amount of movement and maneuverability. This certainly helps to make up for one of their weaknesses, a distinct lack of ranged attack options.

Ice Devil Weaknesses

Consistent, but Below-Average Damage

Wall of Ice can deal impressive AoE damage, but we can’t count in it for a consistent source of damage since it has a recharge of 6. There’s only a 16.67% chance that you’ll be able to use Wall of Ice again after you’ve used it initially. It’s a fantastic burst damage option with elements of mobility and survivability mixed-in.

You’ll need to rely on Multiattack for every other turn where Wall of Ice isn’t an option for the ice devil. While this is a 3-attack Multiattack the average damage it deals isn’t threatening for a CR 14 creature.

It’s nice that every attack includes a healthy helping of cold damage to be threatening to the party’s barbarian, but 64 damage per round isn’t great. This is a creature that relies on their impressive defenses and survivability perks to outlast their opponent.

Limited Combat Options

The other downside that I feel that the ice devil statblock has is that you only have a limited number of options for such a high CR creature. If Wall of Ice is on cooldown then your only option is to use your melee attacks.

If the party is coordinated enough to use your Wall of Ice to their advantage, you’re effectively a sitting duck waiting to be picked off by the party’s spellcasters and ranged attackers. Granted, your defenses will keep you alive and well for some time, but this still isn’t an ideal situation for a creature statted for the upper-level of play in 5e.

Give our cold devil friend a couple of snowballs or something!

ice devil artwork from 2e. Its arms are the width of a pencil
Hitting the gym paid off for the 5e ice devil. Good lord, look at those scrawny arms! Credit: WotC.

How to Play an Ice Devil

Trap the Party and Close the gap

The ice devil works best in close quarters. You know, small to medium-size rooms or tight hallways. Places with few entrances and exits that the party can use to escape or create a chokepoint.

Part of this is because of their above-average speed of 40 ft., but it’s also because the ice devil can use their Wall of Ice to close off sections of the battlefield for the party. This could mean that they completely separate members of the party from each other, or it could mean that they can block the movement of the party’s squishy backline attackers.

Wall of Ice works as both a high-damage burst ability and a battlefield control ability. It’s the most important ability in your kit, but with its low recharge-rate, you need to use it as optimally as possible.

You may wish to give the party one round so that you can read their tactics before you slap down what could be your only wall of the encounter. Once the wall is in place, use your impressive speed to lunge at the weakest target and go hog-wild on them!

High Burst? Do Your Worst!

If your ice devil is not in a position to make fancy or even optimal plays against the party to trap them in tight-quarters, your next best tactic is to simply throw the kitchen sink at the party and hope it knocks someone unconscious.

If there’s an opportunity to throw a Wall of Ice on top of 3+ party members, I highly suggest you shoot your shot. The value you’d be getting out of the attack is tremendous and will certainly put the adventurers into panic-mode!

Your Multiattack isn’t something we can rely on for high burst damage, but it’s enough to down a member of the party if they’ve been hit hard by the AoE damage from Wall of Ice.

Your defenses are already impressive. Each member of the party that’s removed from combat makes your defenses even more impenetrable. Select a target and focus your fire (or ice in this case) until they drop.

5 Ice Devil Plot Hooks

  1. Oh the Demon Outside is Frightful – A tropical island village has been experiencing a mysterious cold-snap, the likes of which has never been recorded in history. What could be the source?
  2. The Ice Wizard’s Protection – Summoned from the Nine Hells, a small group of ice devils have been bound to protect and serve a powerful archmage known for his affinity to the cold.
  3. Fortress of Solitude – Legend has it that there is an abandoned fortress in the northern-most region of the continent. Allegedly this fortress was once the military base in that region for the kingdom, but something forced them out.
  4. Gaining Recognition – A young ice devil seeks to gain recognition within the army of the Nine Hells. They have been terrorizing the countryside, slaughtering everyone and everything in their path as they seek a promotion.
  5. An Unsavory Pact – The magic academy in the capital is reknown for the talented students it pumps out year-after-year. Interestingly, the worst-ranked student in this year’s graduating class has seemingly grasped the concept of powerful magics overnight.

Conclusions

Ice devils certainly live up to their expectations as a CR 14. While it’s true that when Wall of Ice is down, their consistent damage output is below-average. Their defenses are strong enough to keep them in the game for long enough to make the party nervous. This is a creature with the statblock to back-up an “outlast the party” playstyle.

Wall of Ice is an exceptional tool in the ice devil’s kit. It works as both a way to gain control of the battlefield and impressive AoE damage. This is a flexible action that is also powerful enough to have earned its low recharge-rate.

Wall of Ice is such a fun action that when I turned this creature into a boss creature, the first change I made was to make it a 3-cost legendary action. Let me tell you, that put the level 14 party on their toes and I only gave it an additional 2d6 damage!

All in all, the ice devil is a threatening creature to throw at the party. Coupling it with another creature, preferably one with some ranged or spellcasting options, can make for an extremely deadly encounter!

Previous Monster Monday – Bugbear

Next Monster Monday – Yeti

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1 Comment

  1. Ran one of these against my party last week and it was a great battle! The only change I made was to its appearance. I just described it as a horned devil with no wings that appeared to be made of ice. I hate silly-looking fiends.

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