Dragon Encounters

Making dnd combat fun, finding monsters that fit together, monster tactics and strategies, and other ways of using the monsters of dungeons and dragons

BEARDED DEVIL: Basic Tactics, and Strategic Positions


Combat rating 4


1 Bearded devil (CR 3)

2 Death dogs (CR 1)


Combat rating 4


1 Bearded devil (CR 3)

2 Flying swords (CR 1/2)

1 Magma mephit (CR 1/2)

2 Steam mephitis (CR 1/4)


Combat rating 6


1 Bearded devil (CR 3)

2 Ankhegs (CR 2)

2 Harpies (CR 1)

1 Wererat (CR 2)


Combat rating 7


1 Bearded devil (CR 3)

2 Hell hounds (CR 3)

1 Manticore (CR 3)

How to Use – Strategy

The bearded devil is the first monster I have encountered since starting this blog that does not require any special setting to make using it interesting. (For anyone interested, this is monster number 52.)

Let’s just go over its strategy quickly.

When using the bearded devil, I would suggest using about three of them. They should all focus on different PCs, rather than joining together to target the same PC. The infernal wounds caused by their glaives can be removed by a single point of magical healing, and therefore they’ll want to spread around the damage, to make it harder to remove.

They will always draw close to use their beard attack. Given that any melee attacker will approach on their turn, there is no good reason not to. 

The poisoned condition caused by their beards means that they don’t have as much to fear from attacks of opportunity. Accordingly, if there is a PC who hasn’t been attacked this turn or last turn, they’ll make a beard attack against the Adjacent PC, to increase the chances of poisoning him, and then move on to the other PC and attack him. The only time they won’t retreat is if they’re adjacent to two or more PCs with melee attacks.

You could also rule that they always move on each turn, on the grounds that it isn’t realistic to keep track of who was attacked recently while locked in battle. Either way, they’ll retreat in the same manner, and they won’t retreat if it would cause them to suffer multiple attacks of opportunity.

For the first 2-3 rounds of battle, they’ll dance around the edges of the PCs, trying not to get trapped between them [both because it will increase attacks of opportunity and because of flanking, if using.] They also will avoid clustering up, so as not to make themselves tempting targets to area of effect spells. After, one of them will give a signal, and they’ll rush in to the middle of the PCs, forming a triangle to protect themselves. This is to drive the PCs away from each other, to make magical healing difficult.

Combat Encounters

As stated, I really don’t think you need to do more than stated above to use this monster properly. But, if you want more ideas…

Encounter 1 (difficulty 5): The fight takes place along the side of a hill. Every round or so, boulders break loose and start to roll down toward the two sides. (These boulders can be triggered by some kind of magical earth tremors, or by more bearded devils.) The boulders start off slow, which means that you should announce at initiative 20 of each round which areas are going to get hit during the next initiative 20.

Even if you choose the areas randomly, the bearded devils can retreat thanks to the poisoned condition, and they have reach weapons allowing them to land hits even when the area next to the PC in question is unsafe. Your players don’t necessarily have either advantage.

Encounter 2 (difficulty 6): Your bearded devils are perched behind a barricade, giving them at least partial cover from ranged attacks. In front of the barricade is a ditch, or thorns. The bearded devils can attack over the barricade, because reach weapons. Your players cannot.

Complete the scenario with either ranged support, or some kind of time limit / threat at the players backs, such as the ground slowly giving way behind them, forcing them forward. Otherwise, the players might choose to snipe.

Encounter 3 (difficulty 7): The players are forced to advance along a narrow ledge, at the side of a mountain. When they’re already significant distance along the ledge, enough that the far side is much closer than retreating would be, the barbed devils start attacking with their glaives from the top of the mountain. In other words, they’re standing above the PCs, taking advantage of their 10-foot reach to rain down attacks onto the PCs.

It is a 10-foot climb to get to the top, and since the rock face is smooth, getting to the top requires a skill check of 15-18 [your decision], with disadvantage if they’re holding weapons in both hands. Any PC who does will be attacked by all three devils, with the last one using his attack to force the PC five feet back, knocking him back onto the path. [if the PC reached far enough back that it would take multiple tries to force him back, just use standard attacks.]

In addition, have a fourth bearded devil at the end of the path who rolls boulders down the path every round or two. They have no way to dodge the boulders that I can see, and the devil rolling them down is behind cover.

Encounter 4 (difficulty 6): The players are in a cave, or at the side of a mountain slope, when an earthquake type effect begins. Either the ceiling of the cave collapses, or a wall of stones and earth rushes toward them. Regardless, the PCs end up slightly scattered, with random boulders strewn about the terrain, and those that failed DEX saves took damage and landed prone. In addition to all that, a few bearded devils fell from the roof or slid down the mountain.

After two rounds or so of fighting, another quake hits, forcing PCs, boulders, and devils down yet another slope or fall and scattering all of the above randomly. The bearded devils will also have to make DEX saves, but at least they’re probably not poisoned, nor desperately in need of healing. I would have at least one more quake a few rounds after that, with the same effects, to end things off.

Summary – 6 ways to use

  1. Use several, and have each attack a different target so as to infernal wound as many as possible. (Heal remove multiple such wounds on the same target, so spreading the damage is best. Poisoned condition makes retreating easier.
  2. After using infernal wound on as many PCs as possible, have them form a defensive formation in the middle of the PCs, and force the PCs away from each other. A lot of low-level healing spells need touch. Or, take out the healer.
  3. Have the hillside in the background be coming apart, with boulders rolling down toward the fighting. The devils can dodge, as the poisoned condition lowers the danger from opportunity attacks. What are the PCs going to do?
  4. The devils have ten feet of reach with their glaives. If they have a barricade to hide behind, or thick thornbushes, they can reach past to stab at the PCs, and have cover from retaliation. + their damage lasts multiple turns.
  5. Have the PCs climbing a narrow path up a mountain. As they approach the top, devils lying down on rocks above reach down to stab them with glaives. Another devil sends boulders rolling down at them. It’s called a kill zone.
  6. Have the PCs caught in a landslide or earthquake. This causes the ground to move, so that they keep changing position against their will. Bearded devils have poison, which messes up saves, and infernal wound, which needs healing.

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About Me

I have been a DM for several years, and I was designing home RPG games since my young childhood. I have been a fan of many different types of games (computer, board, RPG, and more) and have designed several for my own entertainment. This is my first attempt to produce game content for a wider audience.