Hi, my name is James and welcome to Code/Switch where today we’ll be continuing our devilish lesson about fiends! This is the second part of a two part article, if you haven’t read part 1, click here to get caught up. In part 1, I talk about fiends in general and discuss the places they live a little but, and I won’t rehash it here, so go back to part 1 if you missed it.
Hot dropping right into this part we’re going to start out lesson with Devils. Devils are the souls of the damned who through centuries of torture lose their individual identities to become the lowest of Devil-kind, the Lemure. In Hell, these Lemure then try and work their way up the Devil corporate ladder to become better, more powerful Devils. These Devils then try and lure more damned souls to Hell, and thus the cycle will continue. Devils are notoriously legalistic, and will try and collect souls and other goods by exchanging services now for payment later. The recipients of these contracts often don’t realize how royally screwed they are until the Devil comes to collect. Devils are the native inhabitants of Hell, which was created and is ruled by Asmodeous.
Devils themselves are mentioned in Christianity and the word Devil itself is pretty interchangeable with demon in that tradition. <i>The</i> Devil is a specific entity, but <i>Devils</i> are malicious spirits of sin or fallen angels. In Pathfinder, most of the Infernal Dukes are named after Demons from Demonology texts; Barbatos. Belial, Mephistopheles, and Baalzebul.
Demodands are unique to Pathfinder, I can’t find any real world equivalent to Demodands! In fact, among fiends they’re odd in that they’re not made of souls or energy or anything. Demodand ladies lay eggs which hatch into baby Demodands! It’s not the miracle of birth or anything, they’re a race created by Thanatotic Titans after their banishment to the Abyss by the Gods after a failed war. Demodands love torturing and killing the religiously inclined. Other things Demodands hate are; Devils, Celestial beings, and all the bands you like.
Oni are outsiders, but native to the Material Plane. An Oni starts as a nature spirit called a Kami. Kami have a lot of rules they have to follow, and if they disobey them they get their dope nature spirit powers taken away and become formless ghosts with no power. Understandably some of these fallen Kami get upset, but some of them get <i>pissed</i>. So pissed in fact they force a physical form to appear. Now an Oni, this piece of work will go on to try and live life in the most rockstar ways possible.
Oni are a type of Yokai from Japanese Folklore, while Yokai themselves are supernatural monsters and spirits. Oni itself is an umbrella designation of malicious spirits that cause all manner of disease, disaster, and misfortune. Oni take many forms, but the most common depiction of Oni are bulky ogres with skins of red or blue that carry huge iron clubs and wear loincloths.
Kytons were the first evil mortal spirits chained in Hell as punishment for being so dang awful. Usually those mortals were depraved sadist and masochists who had penchants for mutilation on one’s self and others, as well as the unfortunate victims of those heinous folk. Kytons eventually escaped their prison in Hell and made their way to the Plane of Shadow where they can more easily capture mortals and their souls to warp in sickening ways.
Kytons are Hellraisers, literal Hellraisers. Covered in blades, chains and other self-mutilations they search out victims to share the “gifts” of the pleasure found in pain.
Asura are immortal, which is good for them, but bad for everything else. When an Asura is slain, it eventually reincarnates into a new form which remembers all of its previous lives. Asuras have a collective ideal that everything the gods had a hand in creating must be undone. They don’t do this peacefully. Asuras themselves were created by accident by the gods and seethe at the reality that they’re the mistakes, that they are inherently unwanted by their creators. Asura live everywhere, but the biggest population is in Hell, where they live in uneasy peace with the native Devils.
Asuras come from the Vedic tradition of India. Asura were divine spiritual beings as a whole, it didn’t matter if they were good or bad, destructive or constructive, just that they were divine and spiritual. In later Vedic texts however Asura take on a decidedly negative connotation akin to demons.
A Rakshasas is the soul of a mortal who is so hedonistic, selfish, and evil that they cheat the natural cycle of death to be reborn on Golarion to try and give evil hedonism another spin. The first Rakshasa was a Vudrani Sorcerer who, failing to find immortal life, ate a tiger to try and amp up his reincarnation and ate until he stomach burst, killing him. Twenty years later some upstart starts conquering parts of Vudra and “Oh Hey!” it turns out that it’s the reincarnation of that sorcerer and after he was slain be a hero, his true form was revealed to be a tiger headed biped with backwards handing hands. Rakshasas are creature of mortal opulence and are native to the Material Plane.
Rakshasas are malicious beings from the Hindu tradition. Born from the breath of the sleeping god of creation Brahma at the end of the Satya Yuga, the Satya Yuga is like Gods day of rest in Genesis. Once the Rakshasa were created they became filled with rage and started to eat the god of creation who cried “Rakshama!”, which is the Sanskrit phrase for “Protect Me”. The god Vishnu answered the call and banished all the Rakshasa to Earth, for us to deal with. Rakshasa come in a wide variety of forms, often ugly with angry visages, covered in horns and fangs. They also possessed the ability to shapeshift which they used to hide their identity from the people around them.
I enjoy fiends in Pathfinder. I feel their unique abilities and origins make them some of the most unique encounter in the Pathfinder RPG. I would have liked to dig deeper into the real world origins of some of these creatures, but a lot of them either have very little information about them that relates to Pathfinder or it requires me to become a religious scholar to contextualize every part of their origin stories. The origins I’ve provided should be enough for a novice player to understand what they’re facing. I did omit other planar evil creatures like Hags, Sahkils and the like, because I wanted to focus on the core “fiends”. Sahkils are cool, but to explain a Sahkul you have to explain a Psychopomp and I can already see your eyes glazing over. Lastly, Do yourself a favor a mix and match fiends to settings. Put a Vudrani Rakshasa in a Linnorn Court, place a Div in the temperate River Kingdoms. The benefit you’ll get playing fiends outside of their token areas will exceed your expectations. Paizo’s realized this and has put Asiatic-styled fiends in western locations to great effect in Pathfinder Society Scenarios.