Cambion

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Cambion.jpg

The Cambion is a Dungeons & Dragons monster with a long history to it, having appeared in the Monster Manual II for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition all the way back in 1983.

In a nut-shell, the cambion is a "half-demon", the result of a union between a tanar'ri and a mortal creature. They have a rather convoluted relationship with the succubus, and their lore has changed through the different editions as a result. The basic idea, though, remains the same: these guys are the product of a direct union of mortal and fiend, and are the direct progenitors of the more famous tieflings.

In AD&D, both in their 1e appearance and in their 2e appearance (the Mostrous Compendium Appendixes for the Outer Planes and Planescape), cambions are an all-male species of half-fiend born when a male tanar'ri mates with a humanoid female. They're divided into two different castes; the weaker "Major" Cambion descends from a lesser or greter tanar'ri, whilst the more powerful "Baron" or "Marquis" Cambions descend from true tanari'ri. The difference is most keenly felt in terms of mental stats; Barons have much higher Wisdom and Charisma ranges than Majors do (13-18 and 2-24 vs. 5-8 and 1-6, respectively), although they can reach higher peaks in everything than the Majors.

All cambions have potent rogue abilities - 95% chance to climb walls, 80% chance to hide in shadows, 80% chance to move silently, and can do all of that in bulky metal armor without penalty. Add in that they can't be surprised, their natural combat skills, the fact they always have one of four spell-like abilities (detect magic or inflict fear by touch, levitate 7/day, polymorph self 3/day), the most intelligent have wizard spells and the most charming Baron Cambions can cast Charm Person at-will, and they're a pretty nasty lot.

It goes without saying that cambions are valued as assassins in the Blood War.

The female "counterpart" to the cambion is the Alu-Fiend, which is the half-mortal daughter of a succubus. If that makes you sit up and go "wait a minute", congrats. Ironically, despite the stereotype of "the hot monster chick is redeemable, the ugly monster dude isn't", cambions are the only one of the two with a chance to be Chaotic Good, although both can potentially be Chaotic Neutral. In fact, roughly 1 in 10 Cambion are not Chaotic Evil, which is pretty high odds all things considered.

In 3rd edition, cambions didn't appear for the longest time. With the new Half-Fiend racial template, they really didn't serve much of a point anymore, since their whole lore was tied up in "half-demon". Eventually, though, they did rear their head in 2007's Expedition to the Demonweb Pits, where they were presented as both a monster and, ironically, a PC class.

The 3e cambion is presented as being the result of a mating between a tanar'ri father and a planetouched mother, typically a tiefling. This mixing of fiend, mortal and extraplanar blood produces something very different to the standard half-fiend. Though the term "major cambion" was no longer used, there's still a divergence between common and greater cambions - the latter are born from Demon Princes or other powerful "noble" demons mating with female half-fiends. Another major change is that cambions are no longer an all-male race, an aspect that would follow onwards into future editions. They do still retain their traditional appearance of sharply pointed ears, fangs, and skin covered in pockmarked, pitch-black scales.

Regardless, cambions in 3e are described as being disdained and discarded even by their tanar'ri progenitors, often turning to a role as extraplanar Abyssal agents to survive.

4th edition presented an even bigger change to the cambion lore. Because demons and devils were redefined as "elemental embodiments of ruination" and "fallen angels" respectively, rather than just different flavors of Evil Outsider, the classic list of fiends was shuffled around. One result of this was that the succubus became a devil. The other result was that cambions lost their half-demon roots and instead became half-devils. Looking like winged 4e tieflings, the 4e cambions were bred by devils as minions, created to serve specific goals and purposes. Incidentally, by this point, they finally lost the long-standing tradition of always being born to fiendish fathers with mortal mothers, which frankly makes a lot of sense.

In 5th edition, the cambion changed yet again. As 5e has lost the half-fiend template, the cambion has now taken its place as the true half-fiend, now being the result of any union between mortal and fiend. That led to it appearing in the very first Monster Manual for that edition. Much like the gnolls, cambions got a lot more malevolent in 5e; having originally been stated that 1 in 10 cambions were Chaotic Neutral or Chaotic Good back in 2e, they're now described as universally evil to the core. 5e cambions mostly commonly trace their lineage to either a succubus/incubus or to Graz'zt, which makes sense given that these are the fiends most known in D&D lore for being horny bastards.

3.5 Cambion PC Stats[edit]

Ability Score Modifier (Common): +5 Strength, +3 Dexterity, +3 Constitution, -4 Wisdom (minimum 3), -10 Charisma (minimum 2); if Charisma penalty would drop Charisma below 2, then the remaining penalty is applied to Intelligence (minimum 3) instead.
Ability Score Modifier (Greater): +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, +4 Intelligence, +10 Wisdom, +10 Charisma
Medium
Outsider
Base land speed 40 feet
Darkvision 60 feet
6 levels in Outsider, which provides 6d8 Hit Dice, BAB +6, Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +5.
Racial Skills: 8 * (2 + Int modifier) skill points, class skills are Climb, Gather Information, Hide Knowledge (Local), Listen, Move Silently, Sense Motive, Spot, Tumble.
Racial Feats: 3 bonus feats
Natural Armor Bonus: +2
Spell-like Ability: Charm Person with caster level equalling Hit Dice at-will, Greater Cambions only.
Aligned Strike: A cambion's natural weapons and any weapon it wields are treated as being both Chaotic Aligned and Evil Aligned for overcoming damage reduction.
Alternate Form (Su): A cambion can assume the form of a single, specific Medium humanoid as a standard action once per day. This functions as a Polymorph spell (caster level 6), except it does not provide any healing. A cambion can remain in its alternate form until it chooses to return to its natural form.
Silent Metal (Ex): A cambion has no armor check penalty on Hide and Move Silently checks.
Favored Class: Assassin
Level Adjustment: +4 for Common Cambions, +5 for Greater Cambions

Now, if you're at all familiar with how 3.5 races should work, you've no doubt realized what an absolute fucking mess this racial profile is. Insanely overpowered in some spots and equally insanely weak in some, having a prestige class as a favored class, odd numbered ability score modifiers, and all in all it's a freaking mess. It's so bad that the writer, Wolfgang Baur, actually apologized for it on Enworld, admitting that perhaps it wasn't really worth differentiating it from the standard half-fiend, and that between being a rush-job that no editor fixed up and trying to adhere too closely to the cambion's 2e mechanics, it ended up as the piece of junk you see now.

The inhabitants of the Planes of Planescape
Upper Planes: Aasimon - Angels - Animal Lords - Archons - Asuras - Eladrin - Guardinals - Lillend
Middle Planes: Formians - Githzerai - Inevitables - Marut - Modrons - Rilmani - Slaadi
Lower Planes: Alu-Fiends - Baatezu - Bladelings - Cambions - Demodands - Erinyes - Hags
Hordlings - Imps - Kytons - Marilith - Obyrith - Succubi - Tanar'ri - Yugoloth
Transitive Planes: Astral Dreadnought - Githyanki
Inner Planes: Azers - Elementals - Genies - Grues - Mephit - Salamanders - Sylphs
Sigil: Dabus - Cranium Rats
High-ups: Archangels - Archdevils - Archfey - Archomentals - Demon Princes