Pathfinder Chronicles: Book of the Damned—Volume 1: Princes of Darkness (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Abandon All Hope...
From the origin of the gods to the inhabitants of the darkest infernal pit, Princes of Darkness: Book of the Damned Volume 1 is an unflinching look at the methods, motivations, and goals of Asmodeus, the archdevils, and the entire hierarchy of Hell. Whether you’re planning to storm the gates of Avernus or trade in the exotic and immoral markets of Dis, or simply want to add a splash of diabolical flavor to a standard campaign, this 64-page book is full of delicious temptations worthy of Faust himself.
Princes of Darkness includes:
A layer-by-layer description of Hell and its rulers
The hierarchy of Hell, and how devils are promoted
The role and duties of each kind of devil, including the infernal dukes and the herald of Asmodeus
Guidelines for infernal contracts
Devil talismans, true names, and their uses
New Hell-themed spells, magic items, and artifacts
The diabolist prestige class, complete with imp companion
Five new kinds of devils, from the blaspheming apostate devil to the relentless levaloch
If you're going to buy this product, do yourself a favor and pick up the second half. Together these supplements are one of the best supplement products created for the campaign setting. They give you a clear view of hell and the agenda and politics within. They go over each of the lords of hell in detail and will actually make you want a campaign there.
I must admit, that as I am a fan of using devils and the Hells as the focus of my campaigns I’m a bit bias towards liking this book.
The book is a 64 page, softcover book focused on a specific topic which comes in at only $20; just how I like my supplement material. The layout and artwork are both impressive and the Book of the Damned Vol. 1 provides a wealth of exciting material as well as a handful of new options for players and GMs alike, including spells, magic items, and even a prestige class. The book also contains a few new and cool devils. Much of the book is fluff, however, but while it seems both well written and well thought out, many people might not appreciate having less usable material in favor of flavor.
In my personal campaigns I’ve gotten a lot of use out of this book, but it will likely not appeal to anyone who isn’t running or playing a game centered around devious and devilish foes. For anyone who is I strongly recommend this book.
First volume in Books of the Damned - a series on Evil outsiders - concerns with Devils, the good old manipulative LE schemers of the D&D world. Wes Schneider tackles the job of improving over 3.5ed Fiendish Codex II, which wasn't all that great. Let's see how it goes.
Chapter 1 describes the archdevils (Asmodeus included) and their realms, the layers of hell. No statblocks are given, due to Pathfinder not having epic rules to handle that yet.
Chapter 2 provides information on the ecology of the regular devils, as well as some information on other denizens of hell. I really liked the Whore Queens idea, I must admit.
Chapter 3 presents rules for mortal involvement with devils. Infernal contracts, devil binding, fiendish spells and magic items and a Prestige Class - the Diabolist - are all here. I think it's the best chapter in this book, one that I've actually used.
Chapter 4 is the compulsory bestiary section. Four new devils to pit against your players.
Now, what's my conclusion? Honestly, the style of writing puts me off. The author sinks into Dante/Milton inspiration somewhat too deeply and the result borders on purple prose, with superfluous passages that feel like taken out of some Romantism novel.
The maledictions of the archdevils and their personal histories and drama are are all very well thought out, but this book has very little substance for a GM that runs something less...dramatic. I didn't get that much use out of this book as I hoped for.
For a primer on how to write such book as to make it a worakble source for the GM, refer to the next volume in series, Lords of Chaos, which is far better.
I was highly disappointed with this book - the 3.5e WotC Fiendish Codices 1-2 are MUCH MUCH BETTER.
The authors of both Volume 1 and 2 made a good effort, with an obvious desire to show off their vast vocabulary or thesaurus skills (some of their word choices were bizarre, I mean seriously, I don't want to pick up a dictionary on every page). I get it - you guys like big words. Exciting details of the realms governed by the Lords were poor to say the least, no maps are provided, and the excerpts from the Book of the Damned uses a font extremely difficult to read.
Volume 1 made no mention of this but Volume 2 states that statistics for the Lords are not needed as they would completely destroy any heroes (other than Epic) that dared to challenge them. This was disappointing and one of the few running complaints I have had with the Pathfinder books as a whole, including stats for the Gods.
The artwork is for the most part very good. Graz'zt and other of my favorites were not carried over for IP/proprietary reasons I assume.
Having played D&D for ~ 31 years now...I'm hypercritical of course, but Paizo/Pathfinder has saved D&D for me. WOTC's 4e was the last straw. With that being said, these two books were my first two disappointments in the Pathfinder texts.
The 1e Manual of the Planes about the Infernal Realms was riveting, I read those sections over and over. I have always wanted to run an Infernal campaign "Paladin in Hell" etc. but these books don't provide enough detail to significantly help this project - if anything is emphasized, it's the politics of the Infernal Realms. The Blood War is hardly touched upon either.
The books are short, also disappointing.
This is basically the same review I posted for Volume 2.
I hope in the future these are redesigned, reworked, expanded with numerous maps and statistics, and re-released using new authors.
Really nice book on the underpinnings of evil in the campaign . . .
This book has some very nice background material on Hell in the Pathfinder setting, as well as information on the ruling beings of Hell, its layers, and how it works.
Reading through the book makes you really want to find a way to work this information into your campaign. There are disturbing planar cities as well as interesting sites and terrain.
Not only is all of that in place, but the PFRPG rules in the book are a good support to the information, such as the Diabolist PrC, and the rather nasty spells and monsters in the book.
One of the things I really like is that the secret events of the beginnings of the universe MAY be explained, but may not, depending on how reliably you adhere to the source of the information. Wonderful way to expand large scale setting information of this sort.