Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Book of the Damned—Volume 3: Horsemen of the Apocalypse (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
The End is Near!
Since the first spark of mortal life took form, the daemons have sought to extinguish it. Evil in its purest form, these terrors seek nothing less than the end of all existence. Led by the Four Horsemen—War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death—the armies of Abaddon work to corrupt, consume, and destroy everything around them. Perfect nihilists, the daemons seek only to be the last entities looking down on the dying cinders of the cosmos before they themselves are consumed, and only darkness remains.
Within this book, you’ll find:
Complete descriptions of the Four Horsemen and their armies of soul-devouring daemon servitors.
An overview of the wasteland realm of Abaddon, the private domains of its masters, and several other forsaken locations.
Rules for the daemon-worshiping souldrinker prestige class.
An introduction to the soul economy, and how captured souls are traded and used by fiends and mortals alike.
Secret histories of previous Horsemen.
New daemonic spells and magic items.
Overviews of the different castes of daemons, plus tips and tricks to aid in their summoning.
Statistics for eight new daemons ready to bring the horrors of the cosmos to players’ doorsteps.
Horsemen of the Apocalypse is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Pathfinder campaign setting, but can easily be used in any fantasy game setting. While Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a standalone product, it also serves as a companion to Princes of Darkness: Book of the Damned, Vol. 1, which details the legions of Hell, and Lords of Chaos: Book of the Damned, Vol. 2, covering the hordes of the Abyss.
I did not think Paizo could top their book on Devils. I was wrong. Say hello to the most chilling outsiders you could ever hope not to meet.
Born of the spirits of nihilism, murder, misanthropy and self-loathing, Daemons seek one thing: the eventual annihilation of all life, until nothing remains but an empty universe, as dark, cold and empty as their souls. The writing is top-notch and more than a little stomach churning in a couple areas, as one is faced with a cavalcade of new Daemonic adversaries, each more horrendous and than the last, as well as their four psychopathic masters, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Abbadon is also described in-depth if ever a GM wants to run an adventure through the abode of the dark plane...although that is bordering on TPK territory right there.
I eventually want to run a few homebrews with a "Silent Hill" flavor to them. Daemons are the perfect outsider for the creepy psychological horror vibe, if ever I've seen one.
This is the darkest book of evil outsiders Paizo has released to date. Unlike Devils, there is no redeeming characteristics to the Daemon. At least Devils do not want to end all life. They just want to corrupt and reshape it. Even Demons are not as terrible as Daemons simply by virtue of the fact that they are generally poor planners who backstab and hobble one another's efforts for the sake of being contrary jerks. Daemons are another story entirely: Cold, logical beings whose only joy in life comes from the ending of others' lives. The scary thing is that they are just well-organized enough to pull it off.
Disclaimer: I am a fan of Todd Stewart. Fanboy, even. From his Planescape Storyhours on EnWorld, through his Dungeon/Dragon contributions, right up Pathfinder's The Great Beyond.
First of all, this book is long overdue. But I'm not talking about Golarion's life cycle, I'm talking about the history of D&D. Ever since the great Zygax introduced three main fiendish races - demons, devils and daemons - the first two enjoyed a long streak of popularity, spotlight and general fame. Meanwhile, the poor "third NE option" was always shovelled aside, with hardly as much energy and love devoted to Yugoloths. The peak of this treatment happened in the 3rd ed lifecycle, when poor old 'Loths didn't get their own Book of Fiends volume.
Then came Pathfinder, and a new vision of the "third way". Introduced as ultimate nihilists, the extinguishers of life, fiends who care not for subjugation or corruption, and thirst only for one thing: total annihilation of mortal life.
So far we were given tidbits and scraps of lore on daemons, but at last we have a comprehensive volume on the Neutral sort of Evil.
The book kicks off with a short introduction to history of daemons and an overview of daemonic plane of Abaddon. Here's my only slight gripe - hardly a map or illustration of how the plane looks like. That's slightly strange given that The Great Beyond featured a sweet little map of Abaddon, but that's a minor quibble.
Coming up next are writeups of the current four horsemen, overlords and commanders of daemonic race. Their goals, methods, motivations and lairs are all given attention.
What follows is perhaps the most amazing part of the book, a short two-page text on the mysterious fifth horseman, the Oinodaemon. Todd fires on all cylinders here, delivering a story so hauntingly awesome. Following that is a short overview of daemon psychology and life cycle and short descriptions of every daemon type. This acts as a Stealth Ninja Preview of upcoming Bestiary 3, which contains several new daemons. Finally, there's one page on Harbingers, daemon equivalents of Demon Lords/Archdevils.
The next chapter is a little more down to earth (or Abaddon) and details daemon worship, soul trade, cultists, the Souldrinker PrC, daemon summoning, spells and items. Crunch time!
The final chapter begins with a short piece on Horsemen long gone, and follows up with 8 new daemons. That's more than in other Books of the Damned, due to daemons not being present in the first Bestiary, this book makes up for the difference. So you get almost twice the amount of misery to inflict on your players. A solid deal, worth at least two souls if you ask me.
Now, as for the quality of this all. Todd pulls no stops and goes just crazy with his frantic, vivid writing that combines deep love for Planescape, extensive knowledge of biology and twisted imagination in one package. Even the names sound like some psychotic nightmare. There's so much to pluck from this book and use in your games. It's quite different from James' balls-to-walls volume on demons, but in this case different means "good in another flavor".
Apart from lack of a map, the "excerpt" parts of this book suffer from the same problem in all BotD volumes: the font is somewhat difficult to read, and I would gladly sacrifice looks for utility here. But it's nothing big enough to even get close to knocking a star off.
You will not be disappointed. This book came a long way, and I'm happy to see the NE fiend race get a well deserved treatment from Todd and the good folks at Paizo. Seventeen rotten thumbs up!
This book is something different. Part of me was dismayed when I realized the yugoloths were not part of the OGL, but reading this book I'm actually pretty happy about that.
Daemons, nihilistic self-loathing creatures that hate all life, including themselves, even as they are fascinated by it given their tie to its cessation.
These guys are rather different from yugoloths, instead they are far more fallible and insane. I like this, makes them feel more like creatures of elemental evil given their inability at times to practice restraint.
The book is really well written, and this enough here for you to tone things down or go for really dark campaigns. There many little mysteries and locations as well that one can utilize while designing a campaign.
The art is beautiful and evocative as well...heh, maybe one or two pieces are a little too scary for me! :-)
Just take my money Paizo, its yours. Just take it all.
Absolutely loved this book. The fluff on the four Horseman is great, the new daemons are fantastic (if a bit high on the CR scale), the description of Abbadon is dark and ominous without being GRIMDARK, and the Soul Drink class is very flavorful.
Only minor complaints I have are the concentration of daemons at the high CR's and a couple spelling inconsistencies. Outside of that though, this is a very good book. Its nice to see the Neutral Evil fiends fleshed out as well as the devils and demons, you just don't get this in D&D.