Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Book of the Damned (PFRPG)

***½( ) (based on 14 ratings)
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Book of the Damned (PFRPG)
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Abandon All Hope!

As long as mortals have feared what awaits them after death, the threat of damnation has loomed. Powerful fiendish lords rule the deepest, darkest reaches of the Great Beyond: archdevils, demon lords, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and more. Such is the power of their evil that even angels cannot resist it—when one servant of Heaven cataloged all the evil in existence in the Book of the Damned, Heaven's judges doomed him to exile, appalled at what he had wrought. And now you hold those horrors in your hands!

Pathfinder RPG Book of the Damned explores the evil planes and their fiendish rulers as they exist in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. This imaginative tabletop game builds upon more than 10 years of system development and an open playtest featuring more than 50,000 gamers to create a cutting-edge RPG experience that brings the all-time best-selling set of fantasy rules into a new era.

Pathfinder RPG Book of the Damned includes:

  • Descriptions for dozens of archdevils, demon lords, Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and other fiendish divinities, including the foul boons they grant to their most devoted followers.
  • Explorations of otherworldly fiendish realms, including the infernal reaches of Hell, the death-haunted expanses of Abaddon, and the nightmare depths of the Abyss.
  • Several brand-new monsters to fill out the ranks of all 11 of the fiendish races, from sinister classics such as demons and devils to new favorites like asuras and sahkils.
  • New blasphemous rituals, magic items, powerful artifacts, and spells to arm your villains with or for heroes to discover and defy.
  • Three fiend-focused prestige classes, ready to vex and terrify adventurers who dare stand against their plots.
  • An extensive collection of in-world excerpts from the sinister pages of the Book of the Damned itself.
  • ... and much, much more!

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-970-7

Content Advisory
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Book of the Damned deals with many dark and intense concepts. The topic of demons and devils is not for everyone, nor is exploration of the themes these fiends embody and the practices they demand of their worshipers. You should make sure that your game group is comfortable with the contents of this book before using them in play—if even one player is uncomfortable with including some of the concepts in here, you should set those portions of the book (or the entire book) aside and focus on other plots for your game. Buyers should beware that the content of this book is not appropriate for all ages, and parents especially are encouraged to review the book before buying it.

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscription.

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***½( ) (based on 14 ratings)

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Mostly flavor for DMs, little use to players

*( )( )( )( )

I would not recommend this book to anyone except DMs who wanted a lot of deep flavor text on evil gods, evil planes and evil outsiders. The vast bulk of material is stuff that the DM can read in order to form a more coherent world view inside his head, but much of the material is such that it is not only useless to players mechanically, but even further, it is even difficult to convey to players flavor-wise.

Of the 280+ pages, about 120 (so almost half the book) is spent on detailing evil gods that were too small to receive full writeups in previous products. Gods like Baphomet, Dispater, Kostchtchie, Lamashtu, Mephistopheles, Moloch, Nocticula, Orcus, Pazuzu and Szuriel receive two-page writeups -- about 50 in total, covering about 100 pages. The other 20 pages in this section offer two-page writeups for 10 groupings like "Asura Ranas" and "Daemon Harbringers", giving brief detail to groupings gods even smaller than those who merited full two-pagers per individual. This section is essentially useless to players, but the DM can make some use of it for players by building cults that worship these guys and positioning them as enemies that have some of their background fleshed out thanks to this book. Having said that, spending almost half the book to detail the obscure gods of the guys who are going to be sword fodder for the players in three combat rounds? I think a hardcover slot could have been used for something much more useful.

The next 40 pages cover evil planes like Hell and Abyss. This, I think, is one of the more useful sections in the book, because at higher levels, players and campaigns are often going to be venturing into these environments, so getting more detail on them is very good stuff, and the DM can really use this as very concrete setting material for adventures. I actually wish that the art budget from the entire first section had been put into this section, because getting lots of cool images to use as visual aids to show players when they venture into a plane would have been extremely useful to me as a DM. Unfortunately, this is the smallest of the book's four sections, showing a big disconnect between what Paizo thinks we need and what I feel I need.

The third section is essentially the crunch section. Feats, domains, magic items, prestige classes and stuff like that. 95% of it is useless to players, and essentially exists just for the DM to build bad guy statblocks that the players are never going to see. There's a few occasional things that the players can use, like the Moon and Rivers subdomains, but by and large this section is useless unless you are the sort of DM who gets enjoyment out of building statblocks for your bad guys.

The fourth section is called a bestiary, but don't think it's like the Bestiary books simply presenting statblocks -- it has that too, but only about 14 of its 40 pages are statblocks for new monsters. The larger part of this section is flavor descriptions going over existing outsiders (like six pages for devils, six pages for daemons and six pages for demons) and giving them more flavor than existed previously. It's...not useless, I suppose. Some of the evil outsider flavor can be useful for DMs to flesh out encounters between evil outsiders and players. I guess this would be my second favorite section of the book, after the evil planes section.

Finally there's an appendix that presents excerpts from the in-world Book of the Damned in replica-like format as if you were reading the actual book. Kind of neat as a novelty but I didn't feel I got much use out of it.

So essentially there's five sections -- Gods, Planes, Crunch, Bestiary and Excerpts. Gods and Crunch are mostly only useful to build the bad guys of the campaign. Gods is more flavor side, Crunch is more crunch side. But I seriously question the decision to devote over half a hardcover to material that is mostly just useful to build the guys that might be dead in three rounds. My dislike for this decision is a big reason why I only give the book one star. Planes and Bestiary are more useful sections, but they are only about 80 of the book's 280+ pages. Bestiary is about as big as it needed to be -- I don't need any more flavor or statblocks that were presented there, so I wouldn't have wanted to see that section expanded further, but Planes could have and IMO should have been expanded far more. I could have used much, much more detail on the adventuring environments that I as DM could present to players.

Overall I just feel like this book was a big misstep and mis-gauge in what is useful. At least from my personal perspective -- other DMs may disagree. And it's miscategorized -- this book should have been in the DM-focused Campaign Setting line like Inner Sea Gods, to which it is sort of an evil sequel, rather than in the core line where, IMO, books should be more player-useful.

I should add one exception. This book could be really useful and worth its price if you are running an evil campaign. In that case, all the evil gods stuff and evil crunch stuff will actually be player-useful, which rockets the utility of this book upward. If you are running an evil campaign, I would actually consider this a four-star book.


Reprints and Bad Artwork

*( )( )( )( )

The best thing about the new Book of the Damned that can truly be said to be original to it, is the completed list of obediences. The rest of the material consists of reprints from the prior Books of the Damned, or retcons to that material that create new problems. As seems to be the usual case, the demons and the devils take the lion's share of the material, while the daemons, despite theoretically being among the Big Three of the fiendish races, are left to language in comparative obscurity; minor demon lords receive longer write-ups than in prior books, and Asmodeus' Queens of the Night get full write-ups for the first time, but among the deamons the Horsemen and the Horsemen alone receive any attention.

Perhaps the worst thing about the book however, is the artwork. While there are a few good, new pieces, usually marking the spaces between sections, most of the individual portraits of the archfiends are reprints from prior books or stunningly ugly (or in the case of the archdevil portraits from Bestiary 6, both).

I loved the prior Books of the Damned and wanted to like this book. In the end though, what little new material there cannot compensate for the book's faults, and the bad quality art makes it actively cringe-inducing to look on. Save yourself the money and buy something else.


A Compelling Compilation of Corruption

****( )

As many other reviewers have said, this book is largely reprinted material from the "Book of the Damned" line of Campaign Setting books that came out a while back. As someone who has, and loves all of those three books, I have to say...

This book is great. I was a fan of the concept of the Book of the Damned, and it being compiled together like this fills me with dark joy. It does what it says as well, and the staff were up front about the reprinted material, so I enjoy it for what it is, which is a gathering up of their fiend-related material from the earlier books and some other far-flung sources, such as the devil contract mechanics from the Hell's Rebels adventure path and the more in-depth description of the Book of the Damned itself from Hell Unleashed. Having all of these things together in one place is handy, though it does appear some subjects, such as the demonic grafts, didn't make it into this book. Regardless, it's good for that reason alone.
Thankfully that isn't the only reason this book is good. It also expands on the fiendish boon system introduced in Lords of Chaos, handing out boons to the diabolical and daemonic demigods, and introduces, at least in passing, many of the more obscure evil entities in the setting. More interestingly to me, it does so in such a way that gives ample seeds and ideas on how to stat such demigods up, should we be so inclined. That coupled with more concrete rules on the various evil rituals also teased at in the earlier books and a mini-bestiary in the back help round out the book nicely.

This book isn't perfect, however. While it may not be of much concern to someone being exposed to this material for the first time, I personally found some of the changes and minor tweeks to the existing material a bit jarring. The diabolist prestige class was a notable example, with its new alignment restrictions and curtailing of spellcasting levels feeling more like a hurried effort to make it fit the formula of the other two fiend-inspired prestige classes than any effort to help modernize it. For one thing, I think that this means that the diabolist is no longer available for PFS play, for those who participate in that. Likewise, I would have liked to see a bit more space devoted to some fiends other than the three big 'D's. Some new fiendish archetypes would have been fun as well, and the missed opportunity bums me out just slightly.

Over all, this book is a pretty solid four stars. The reprinted material is very helpful for first-timers who haven't gotten the three previous Campaign Setting books, though I don't think I could recommend the hardcopy version to someone who already has them. It's got lots of info on evil deities and rituals, a few nifty items, a few new foes, and enough flavor to keep readers entertained through it's two-hundred ot pages. What it doesn't have is a ridiculous amount of new material, or a ton, or really any, PC-friendly options outside of a very evil campaign. But then again, it'd be a poor look out if a curse'd tome of vile lore helped look out for the good guys.


Good deal for lovers of demons, daemons, and devils.

****( )

It's nice to have the fiendish planes fleshed out in one handy book, and (if you're grabbing the PDF) for less than the cost of the much smaller source material books. There are a bunch of cool new things you can do, like become a true werewolf or a worm that walks!

The reason it's not five stars is because it's very heavily weighted towards (in order) demons, devils, and daemons. If you're interested in other fiends, there's not a lot of mechanics that work with them, and where they're specific, they're purposefully weaker.


"Remember kids, there's nothing EVIL about reading!!" - MermaidMan

*****

A great book for evil, even if it's not your thing.

Not as valuable if you already own the original three soft covers but still worth the price.


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Paizo Employee Community & Digital Content Director

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Darkness has been unleashed, friends!

Announced for September, description and image are not final and subject to change.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

A
w
e
s
o
m
e
!


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I trust this won't simply be reprints, will it?

You're bringing out so much good-fun-creepy stuff later this year.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Excellent!


I'm hoping for some extra awesome fiends myself. But YUESS!! HARDCOVER :DD


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Yes please! Hopefully this means we will also start seeing 64 page books in the Campaign Setting line for other chapters of the Book of the Damned A BotD for Oni, Kytons, Asura, Divs, etc. would be great!


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Looking forward to more Queens of the Night, assuming they have had more reworked other than their name.


Ok, this exceeds my expectations! Freaking awesome! I hope this also means we will begetting the other outer planes in hardback eventually.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Eric Hinkle wrote:

I trust this won't simply be reprints, will it?

You're bringing out so much good-fun-creepy stuff later this year.

I'm curious on how much "reprints" are in this as well. Taking into account the Bestiary 6 as well as prior printed materials.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Starting in May with the Adventurer's Guide I will be reactivating my RPG line subscription until the unseen future.....

Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

:D

Liberty's Edge

Ohhh, its in the RPG line. I'm really happy with this route.
Is James Jacobs developing this?


Aw. Yeah. I was just wondering today would there be anymore hard covers released this year. This, too, is around my birthday. So it and the Anti-hero's Handbook...yess...it will gloriousssss...

Dark Archive

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

*wallet begins to cry*


Very nice... Eeer bad

Dark Archive

Awesome!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Pass.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I can't wait to get obedience/boons for horsemen and hopefully harbingers. If we're getting harbingers I really want to see Slandrais, Braismois, Jacarkas, and Llamolaek.

I'll be ok with Folca, Anogetz, Laivatiniel, or Ruapceras.


Plaus,

I wouldn't mind a few harbingers that's for sure.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yay! :D

Paizo Employee Creative Director

41 people marked this as a favorite.
Paladinosaur wrote:

Ohhh, its in the RPG line. I'm really happy with this route.

Is James Jacobs developing this?

Nope.

In that I just finished developing it last Monday, that is. So the present tense is no longer accurate. :-P


James is so nice, he often releases awesome books around my birthday!

(Yes, I am aware you likely have nothing to do with a book's release. I am still giving you credit, cuz I don't wanna be dino chow, lol)

I also hope that we don't get too, too much in the way of reprints, though they will likely be some. Even if 25% or so is reprinted, I would still super love this book!

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:
Paladinosaur wrote:

Ohhh, its in the RPG line. I'm really happy with this route.

Is James Jacobs developing this?

Nope.

In that I just finished developing it last Monday, that is. So the present tense is no longer accurate. :-P

James, three quick questions if you will:

1. How much (roughly) of this is reprinted material from "Book of the Damned Vol. 1-3" or the Bestiaries (6 included) and how much is all new content?

2. Are there stats for the so far unrevealed Demon Lords in this?

3. Is this book the reason we don´t get a Campaign Setting in september?

Thank you.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Any idea on the page count of this?

Dark Archive

Steve Geddes wrote:
Any idea on the page count of this?

Well, Villain Codex has been 256 and i think Horror Adventures has been around the same (maybe 280), so that seems to be the new page count for these books...

Silver Crusade

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Dood...


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Took the words right out of my mouth Rysky. :)

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dragon78 wrote:
Pass.

Once more into the breach it is!

Awesome.

I hope the cover gets updated soon.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

This is going to sound odd...

While I think I am going to enjoy this book...I was kinda hoping for something else...the odd part is I do not know what I was hoping for...maybe something less focused. Shrug...

Anyway as I said i am sure I will enjoy this book.


8 people marked this as a favorite.

Well, I'm excited. ^_^

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I am looking forward to expanded locations on Abbadon.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
DeciusNero wrote:
I am looking forward to expanded locations on Abbadon.

Yus, hoping for more info on their planet sized snowglobe, and for information on Ealdeez as well.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Oh!


Chris Lambertz wrote:

Darkness has been unleashed, friends!

Announced for September, description and image are not final and subject to change.

Hi Chris!

If i have already the 3 campaign settings series "book of the damned" do i need to buy this or is just a reprint?
Thank you in advice for your answers!

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
O'Mouza wrote:
Chris Lambertz wrote:

Darkness has been unleashed, friends!

Announced for September, description and image are not final and subject to change.

Hi Chris!

If i have already the 3 campaign settings series "book of the damned" do i need to buy this or is just a reprint?
Thank you in advice for your answers!

Key highlights from the product's bullet points tells me there's going to be (hopefully plenty of) new stuff.

Book of the Damned wrote:
  • Information on the sinister boons granted worshipers of dozens of fiendish demigods drawn from the planes of Abaddon, the Abyss, and Hell, including Archdevils, Demon Lords, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
  • New feats, spells, magic items, and prestige classes for use by characters who both fight against and serve the forces of darkness.
  • Statistics for several never-before revealed fiends and lavishly-illustrated in-world excerpts from the pages of the notorious Book of the Damned itself.

  • Eric Hinkle wrote:
    I trust this won't simply be reprints, will it?

    If the reprint ratio is like in the Bestiary line or in Inner Sea Gods (which duplicated some content from the Faiths of X books), it will be quite low. Further, reprints in a hardcover will result in more usage of this content.

    Given I asked for such a compilation a while ago, I feel the strange urge to defend it - so I might be biased...


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    If they are revealing this now then what will they reveal for Paizo Con.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
    Dragon78 wrote:
    If they are revealing this now then what will they reveal for Paizo Con.

    Even more awesome. :)

    (I'm seriously excited by the products coming out this year!)

    Silver Crusade

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    Dragon78 wrote:
    If they are revealing this now then what will they reveal for Paizo Con.

    Hopefully, Book of the Righteous!


    4 people marked this as a favorite.
    Gorbacz wrote:
    Dragon78 wrote:
    If they are revealing this now then what will they reveal for Paizo Con.
    Hopefully, Book of the Righteous!

    I'd give up my firstborn for a hardcover Book of the Righteous. Especially if it's the actual Book of the Righteous.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Heine Stick wrote:
    Gorbacz wrote:
    Dragon78 wrote:
    If they are revealing this now then what will they reveal for Paizo Con.
    Hopefully, Book of the Righteous!
    I'd give up my firstborn for a hardcover Book of the Righteous. Especially if it's the actual Book of the Righteous.

    See, NOW we know why the hardcover Book of the Damned has shown up....


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    You know Gorbacz, sometimes I am not sure if you are joking or being serious.

    Dark Archive

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    Isn't it called Chronicle of the Righteous? .-.


    Dragon78 wrote:
    You know Gorbacz, sometimes I am not sure if you are joking or being serious.

    Now I imagine the toothy bag with steepled...strings? grinning all villain-like. "My work here is done."

    Silver Crusade

    7 people marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    Dragon78 wrote:
    You know Gorbacz, sometimes I am not sure if you are joking or being serious.

    I don't even know what I am doing! I'm just mashing those buttons!


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    obviously the focus of the book will be on the three big fiend groups, but will some of the other fiends also get more detail? e.g. Kytons, Asuras, Divs, etc?

    Silver Crusade

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Color me disappointed, mostly because I don't want my players playing evil but hate to take away their shiny new toys. Hopefully this means that we will be getting equivalent books for the good-aligned and neutral-aligned planes, though. I'd love to see an in-depth gazetteer of Axis and obediences for the empyreal lords.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    The real potential of this book is in the never "seem" before demigods getting more in deep information and illustrations!

    I'm talking about those we already known but have never actually "seem", like the Oinodaemon, the Queens of the Night... Or even quasi-deities, like Harbingers, infernal dukes and nascent demon lords... I love demigods, but quasi-deities are really useful. That's also a really good opportunity to include all the three EVIL GIGAS (the Abbadon Gigas, the Abyss Gigas and the Hell Gigas) in the same book.

    What about qlippoth lords or asura ranas? I don't think we are getting anything about the "minor" fiendish races, or at least I don't want my expectations to disappoint me. Guess we will have to wait to find out how good this book really is. It's already a must to me, however.

    "An exploration of the infernal realms of Hell, the sinister reaches of Abaddon, and the bottomless rifts of the Abyss" is alone enough for me to buy it.


    5 people marked this as a favorite.
    Gorbacz wrote:
    Dragon78 wrote:
    You know Gorbacz, sometimes I am not sure if you are joking or being serious.
    I don't even know what I am doing! I'm just mashing those buttons!

    Note to self...never play Gorbacz in Streetfighter, Mortal Kombat or Injustice.


    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo....

    *gasp*

    Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo....

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