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[Lets Read] Pathfinder Book of the Damned

Crinos

Next to me you're all number two!
Validated User
Hey, so. NobodyImportant's lets read of Mordenkainen's tome of Foes and the discussion therin got me realizing I wanted to talk about fiends in DnD. Evil outsiders and the cults that worship them have always been among my favorite DnD villains, and Pathfinder has a bevy of them to choose from. So, we're going to do a lets read of probably one of the more....controversial books Pathfinder ever put out. The Book of the Damned.



The cover depicts three representatives of the major fiendish races, surrounding the titular book. In the back we have Dispater, the Archdevil lord of Dis. To the left we have Charon, the Horseman of Death and leader of the Daemons, and to the right we have Nocticula, the Demon lord of darkness, assassins and lust.

Its worth mentioning this is not the first time Pathfinder has searched this fertile ground before. Demons, Devils, and Daemons have all had books looking at them individually as setting books, however this book consolidates all that information, and expands on it, and gives some brief info on the leaders of some of the lesser fiendish races (Pathfinder has a lot of evil Outsider races. )

First we begin with an introduction about the Book of the Damned itself. When the Multiverse was young, Heaven wanted to get a complete account of everything in the multiverse. And so they charged the Angel Warrior scholar Tabris and his legions to do this. Over the centuries Tabris chronicled everything there was to know about the material plane, and the planes of Law, good and neutrality. The lower planes however did not give their secrets so easily. Tabris sent his scholars, and they didn't return, he sent soldiers, they also never came back. And so, finally, he went himself.

Tabris was gone for a LOOOONG time. So long everyone thought he was dead. But he did eventually return. Or rather what was left of him came back. Scarred and broken for all he had to give up and suffer to get the knowledge of ultimate evil. The forces of Heaven were horrified by what Tabris had done and what he had compiled, and so he was barred from heaven. The Book itself was slated for destruction, but it managed to slip away somehow. Its now out there, along with imperfect copies, waiting to tempt mortals with forbidden knowledge.

The Book itself is a major magical artifact. The bearer gets a bonus to casting evil spells (casting them as 2 levels higher) and gets a +5 Charisma bonus when dealing with evil outsiders. It also allows the bearer to cast a variety of spell like abilities. It can also be used as a reference material, studying it for a month can give huge bonsues to knowledge checks about evil stuff, and once per day it can give info on any profane topic. Finally, once per day it can open a portal to a special demiplane inside the book, which can be used as a research center (Also it gives nonevil people who stay there nightmares as per the spell).

I really like this artifact. Its way more interesting than the Book of Vile Darkness in that it has an actual backstory.

Last thing before we continue is that the book has a sidebar warning of disturbing themes ahead. As many already know, Paizo didn't exactly pull any punches with this one, and they broach more than a few uncomfortable subjects here. In any case, keep that in mind as we go forward. Next time, we start with the actual fiendish lords with the first one; Abraxas.
 

Davies

Registered User
Validated User
A bit more of Tabris' story gets told in Chronicle of the Righteous (which suggests that the rulers of Heaven were less upset by what he put down in the Book of the Damned than by what he had to say about them) and the recently published Concordance of Rivals, which ends the trilogy on a somewhat optimistic note.

Tabris in the Concordance of Rivals said:
If you are reading this, you may be poised to see
beyond the existence into which you were born. Explore,
learn, decipher, and discern. Above all, remember that
you are the sum of the lessons imparted by countless
generations, born by the gods’ will and created within
a flawed framework. So too was I formed and fed the
angelic mandates that guided so many of my years. Only
by challenging the premises that created me did I learn
greater truths. So too do I encourage you to challenge
everything. Walk in my footsteps by forging your own path.
 

Crinos

Next to me you're all number two!
Validated User
A bit more of Tabris' story gets told in Chronicle of the Righteous (which suggests that the rulers of Heaven were less upset by what he put down in the Book of the Damned than by what he had to say about them) and the recently published Concordance of Rivals, which ends the trilogy on a somewhat optimistic note.
I'm glad it sounds like he's recovered somewhat. Also its worth noting that while he was barred from Heaven, he didn't exactly fall. He's currently hanging out in Axis (The Lawful Neutral Plane).

But still, here's a picture of the guy. (Sblocked because of size and because it shows a rotting corpse like angel.)

Spoiler: Show


I mean I am not exaggerating that writing the Book of the Damned fucked Tabris up big time.
 

Crinos

Next to me you're all number two!
Validated User
Alright, lets get this show on the road.

First of all a bit if a preamble regarding whats in this first chapter, entitled Fiendish divinities

It starts by giving the worshiper stats of pretty much every major and minor fiendish Demigod in Pathfinder's Inner sea section. Including their domains, favored weapons, the obedience you do to them and the boons you get from them. It starts with the major fiends, each of whom gets a two page spread, describing their history, their abilities, the nature of their domain, and other stuff about them. The major fiends described here are:

The Archdevils (Including Asmodeus)
The Full fledged Demon Lords (including Lamashtu)
The four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Ahriman, the lord of the Div
The Four Queens of the Night (Whom were previously called the Whore queens, but that was changed because, well, its not cool to call them Whores even if they are fallen angels).

After that we get the lesser Demonic divinities, each of whom gets like a few sentences worth of description, what their obedience is, and their boons they provide. They are grouped based on type and are:

The Asura Ranas
The Daemon Harbingers
The Infernal Dukes
The Kyton Demagogues
The Malebranche
The Nascent Demon Lords
The Oni Damiyo
The Qlippoth Lords
The Rakshasa Immortals
and the Sahkil Tormentors

Now, you may be asking, what are these fiendish boons and obediences you keep mentioning. Well, Each fiend has a series of Spell like or special abilities they can give worshipers, provided they do a special tack (called an obedience) every day. Doing this obedience also gives you some minor bonus in itself, usually a bonus to a skill. There are two ways of getting these boons. First is to take the fiendish Boon feat, described much later in this book, at which point you get the special abilities at 12, 16 and 20 hit die. or you can take a special prestige class which gives you the boons way earlier as you level up in each of them (there are three in all, each for one of the three main types of fiends). For the greater fiends described, there are three different types of boons:

Evangelists: Are basically proselytizers of their particular faith, spreading the word and will of their God.
Exemplars: Are basically personifications of their faith.
Sentinels; Are more combat based and fight to defend their faith.

Got all that? God. Then lets to the good stuff. Say hello to the first fiend in this book.

Abraxas
(Spoilered because of snakey guy).
Spoiler: Show


(not every entry will have art. I mean they all do in the book, all the major ones do anyway, but finding art of them online is not always easy. But I'll do what I can.)

Abraxas, the master of the final incantation, is the Demon Lord of forbidden lore, magic and snakes. His favored weapon is the whip, his worshipers include Drow, Sorcerers, spirit nagas, and seekers of forbidden lore, and his minions include snakes, Marriliths and Xacarbas (Which are basically giant magical snakes from the Abyss who can redirect magic.)

His obedience involves self flagellating with a small whip or branch while reciting magical words. And gives a +4 bonus to saves against charms and written word spells (Which I interpret to mean any rune style spells, and anything cast from a scroll or the like).

Now onto his boons, the first level boons are always a choice of three spells, a 1st level spell that can be cast 3 times a day, a 2nd level spell that can be cast twice daily, or a 3rd level spell that can be cast once per day. So I'm gonna skip those and get onto the good stuff.

The second level boon for evangelists is poisoned arcana, which adds your intelligence bonus to checks to overcome spell resistance or to dispel effects, and makes your poison effects more powerful (the DC is higher, it takes 3 saves to recover, and attempts to neutralize the poison with magic are at -4). Also you can cast poison once per day. The tier three boon is Invert magic, which gives you spell resistance, and lets you rebound spells

The exalted Boons are Heretical revelation, where you can impart some forbidden knowledge on your opponent. If they fail their save they are stunned for a few rounds, then confused for a few rounds, then nauseated for a few rounds. You can do this three times per day. The level three boon is Penultimate incantation, allowing you to cast greater dispel three times per day. In addition when you dispel something you deal fire damage to the target equal to your dispel check result.

The Sentinel boons are fanged lash. You whip becomes serrated and gains a snake head. It now deals lethal damage and can hurt people in armor, it deals an additional 1d6 damage, and once per minute you can poison a target with an attack. So you know, actually makes using a whip worthwhile. Almost. Tier three is Tools of the master. You can imbue your whip and either a heavy or light shield with Abraxas' power. They become animated, and the whip drains magic from the target, dealing damage or drain to their mental attributes, and stealing their spell slots while refreshing yours.

These whip and shield things mimic Abraxas own shield and sword, which pretty much do the same thing (they move on their own, the shield defends, and the whip steals spells with attacks). Abraxas is also a powerful spellcaster who knows a ton of forbidden lore, in particular the "final incantation", a powerful spell that can undo magic. He can nullify minor artifacts, strip a victim of their spellcasting ability permanently, or erase entire spells from a plane of existence. The drawback is that when Abraxas uses this he temporarily loses his own spell like abilities, so he's reluctant to use it willy nilly.

In other words, if you piss him off, he can series finale of Star vs the forces of Evil you. (In fact, if I ever use the final incantation in a game, that's what its gonna be).

Abraxas' worship among the drow is strong, but he's also worshiped among mortal spellcasters, in particular in the mage nation of Nex, where his followers maintain a secret library fortress called Scrivenbough. Some claim they have even met Abraxas in the deepest recesses of this library, and that he's actually a pretty affable guy. Although everyone who speaks to him worries they accidentally revealed some secret to him.

Abraxas rules the Abyssal realm of Plemora, which seems like a pastoral paradise thanks to a combination of illusion and clever construction (I presume to think its like Happy Land from the Forever People, where people are being tortured and tormented all around, but its all disguised to make them look like they're enjoying themselves.) The place is home to numerous mystical libraries, which are guarded by hordes of Marrilith and the like.

So that's our first bad guy, The Generic evil wizard/Lore demon. Not really groundbreaking but he's an interesting character to say the least, and his minions are a great way to mess with spellcasters.

Next time we meet the King of the Div, Ahriman.
 

hjgz89

Registered User
Validated User
Not the most unique demon lord ever, but if you want to recreate Conan vs the priests of Set, this is your guy.
 

Crinos

Next to me you're all number two!
Validated User
Not the most unique demon lord ever, but if you want to recreate Conan vs the priests of Set, this is your guy.
Well, interestingly, the Snake Men of the setting sometimes do worship Abraxas, but IIRC those who do are considered Heretics. They mainly worship their semi Dead God Ydserius, who got decapitated millennia ago and is effectively mindless.

Hell, the Serpent Folk don't even worship Yig, and in fact see him as competition.
 

Crinos

Next to me you're all number two!
Validated User
Spoiler: Show

(Another spoiler block because a big guy covered in snakes.)

Ahriman

Probably the only guy on this initial list who isn't a Devil, Demon, Daemon, or Fallen Angel, Ahriman is the lord of all Divs. his portfolio includes Divs, Destruction and Nihilism. His followers include heartless mercenaries, Nihilists, cultists and warlords, his minions are Divs, Ghuls, Night Hags and Some Sahkils (Not all Sahkils, just some.) His weapon is a whip.

For Ahriman's obedience, you need to pray to Ahriman as you destroy something of monetary or sentimental value to someone else, preferably while they watch (Which sounds like a way to get your ass kicked to me but I presume if you worship Ahriman you're kind of a tough guy or got the means to back yourself up). Alternatively, you can take a point of con damage with a lash. The benefit from this obedience is that is masks your alignment. When you do this, you pick a new alignment, and your alignment scans as the new one for 24 hours. This can trick magic items and spells that are affected by alignment, such as a Glyph of warding.

For evangelist boons, the second tier one is Unassailable conviction, which lets you reroll a failed will save once per day. Basically you're so much of a nihilist its impossible to sway you even with magic. The tier three power is force the lie: Once per day you can create a black field of energy which causes all bonuses from morale, luck or Sacred bonuses to become penalties instead, and also acts like obscuring mist.

The exalted level 2 boon is pierce obfuscation. You can see in darkness, even magical, and you can use true seeing once per day. The tier 3 is call of ruin. This allows you to summon Divs. You can summon 1d4+1 Ghawwas, 1d3 Shiras, or one Sepid once per day. They follow your mental commands, but can't be compelled to save human lives or do good, and vanish if you try to force them (Divs have a notoriously strong union).

The Sentinel 2nd level boon is Serpentine lash. Yep, another boon designed to make the whip not terrible. Its not as good as Abraxas though. In this case it gives you whip proficiency and mastery, you get a bonus to tripping people, and if you have a +1 or better whip it can be made a dancing whip. The third tier ability is crush opposition, you basically make them implode, dealing 10 damage per hit die you have (And reminder this ability is normally gotten at 20 hit doe, so that's 200 damage.) If the victim is killed by this, their body is completely destroyed, and all their gear falls to the ground and becomes cursed for a few hours, with any non evil characters using them to take a -1 penalty to saves against fear and insanity (and this stacks with each item).

When Geniekind was created, a shadow of destruction followed them. That shadow is Ahriman. He is a ruinous being who seeks to corrupt mortal by spreading "Wrong thought". He loves destruction, but it doesn't have to be physical. He loves wrecking mortal governments, creating religious schisms, or just breaking up families with self destructive behavior and poor life choices.

Ahriman's realm is at the edge of Abaddon, Ahermanabad on the top of Mount Kaf. There are portals connecting this realm to other places, the most famous being the House of Oblivion, a megadungeon in Thuvia, though others exist. Ahermanabad is a small realm, and largely beneath the notice of the Daemons, who let the Div be outside of the occasional skirmish (which usually ends with the Div fleeing rather than raising the ire of the Horsemen).

Ahriman's ultimate goal is to spread Oblivion. He has spawned many blasphemies to undertake this goal, the most numerous of which are the corrupted Genies known as the Div, who delight in influencing mortals to abandon wisdom in favor of self destruction. Ahriman is patient, and is willing to bring the world to destruction one failure at a time.

Ahriman happily accepts mortal worship despite hating mortals. Among his most loyal mortal followers are the Usij, a secret society of spellcasters who work to break the bonds of society, often by infiltrating institutions and corrupting them from within. Some have even been leaders of nations or rival religions, and worked to destroy everything those nations stood for.

So that's Ahriman. I gotta say I like the Div, they're all pretty interesting design and power wise. I just wish there were more of them to go around, the actual full list of Div is rather small. But I guess that's what third party products are for.

Next time, Scorpion tiddies.
 
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