CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Devil You Know

Using Creatures From the Lower Planes

We have once again come upon my favorite season of the year, Halloween. Although I’m not a huge horror movie fan, the topic always comes up with my friends this time of year. I’m often reminded of dealings with the underworld during these conversations. Whether it is making a pact with a devil or unleashing the destructive power of a demon – accidently or not – the power of the hordes of the lower planes are nothing to be trifled with. So today I’d like to talk a little bit about these creatures of pure evil and their followers or, maybe better, patsies.

When looking at creatures of the lower planes we have quite a few to choose from. There are those who are specific to one of the bastions of evil and a few who can exist on more than one of the planes. The creatures that are specific to one of these planes are quite literally made up of the matter of these planes. They are evil souls in physical form. One of the reasons they cannot be raised when killed outside, except by wish or true resurrection, is because their body is their soul, so once destroyed there is no soul to recover for resurrection.

On each plane one type of creature rules supreme. Hell has its devils, Abbadon belongs to the daemons, and The Abyss writhes with hordes of demons. How do these creatures differ? When using these infernal and demonic creatures we need to determine motivation.

Devils, although hateful, need humanity. The Archdevil’s only wish is to corrupt the souls of mortals into a reflection of their own. Souls will eventually make their way to Hell, but if you create a hell on earth – orderly and corrupt – then the volume of souls that eventually make it to the plane of the devils will increase.

Demons and Daemons have the same goal although two different reasons for seeking it. Both sets of creatures look for nothing but the total annihilation of not just the world but the multiverse. The Daemons are more nihilists. These creatures have no passion, they just want things to end because they see no point in existence at all. Demons, however, are passion out of control, they glee in the destruction they cause on their way to their goal.

Outside of set up encounters as enemies, how can we use these purely evil beings in our games? Temptation. Temptation is probably the greatest tool for any of these beings. Devils as a whole are probably preeminent tempters, but that doesn’t mean that Deamons and Demons can’t be as well. Although the most common of these are made up of too much rage or spite to do well, the more powerful creatures of Abbadon – Deamon Harbingers – and The Abyss – Demon Lords  – understand how to use mortals to further their own causes.

When is the right time to put temptation on the path of your players? The right time is in those moments when the right way, the moral way, to solve a problem is the most difficult. The path to hell is paved with good intentions. Even if the goal of the actions is something good, accepting the help of an evil outsider, going the easy way because the right way is hard is the quickest path to corruption.

Beware of beings that don’t ask for immediate recompense for their assistance. Like a drug dealer, these creatures of personified evil will let you have a little taste before reeling you in. Even demons can use guile and the Demon Lord Shax is known to come in under the radar before devouring the souls of those who follow him.

Sometimes the slip up in making moral decisions isn’t on the heads of the party. You can force the players to think of their own morality though by giving them NPCs who have turned to dark powers for what may have originally been good reason. A mother who lost a child and in her grief was promised his resurrection by a dark power is one of many possible villains a player might meet. Encounters like this can show the players what may happen to them if they take the easy path, while pushing their own morality in the questions of whether to kill or console the grieving mother.

Whether you physically put these vile evil outsiders against your players, or have them face cultists or other corrupted souls, these creatures can be of great use to your game. Although pushing your players to fall or follow the path of evil at every turn can be overkill, judicious applications of temptation can work wonders. And sometimes the players just need to be the white knights vanquishing true evil.

Have you used evil outsiders in your games recently? How have you presented them to your players? What have your players reactions been? Have you used them in more than just toe-to-toe combat?

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