Hell vs the Abyss


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Boomerang Nebula wrote:
If there were billions of galaxies teeming with chaotic evil beings it would probably be mentioned somewhere in the sourcebooks that the multiverse is out of balance and Pharasma would be working overtime.
I mean there may be billions of galaxies full of CE nasties, it's just that Pharasma a) is supremely competent and b) not prone to sharing information.

Is there any confirmation that Pharasma actually cares about balance and wouldn't have an easier time with "oh, you came from that totally dominated by evil galaxy. CE, moving on" than actually sorting billions of galaxies worth of souls?

I mean, I personally think she's slacking on her duty and letting her biases get in the way when it comes to undead, but that's pretty tangential


Yes.

The most notable thing is that Pharasma doesn't judge most cases personally. XD She has MASSIVE legions of minions that, frankly, do most of the work. And have heard pretty much every story someone could come up with tens of thousands of times over, so they're not exactly easy to sway.

Pharasma is more likely to be involved for particularly complex cases - those without easy, obvious answers.


Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

We also need to keep in mind the effect that the player characters have on the balance of alignments. They do tend to kill a lot more evil creatures than good ones.


David knott 242 wrote:
We also need to keep in mind the effect that the player characters have on the balance of alignments. They do tend to kill a lot more evil creatures than good ones.

Let's think this through: Adventurers kill evil creatures, their souls go to evil planes. Adventurers move on, new evil creatures gladly take the empty lairs and hunting grounds. Next wave of adventurers appears, resulting in even more souls for the evil planes... Adventurers are the biggest threat to the multiverse!

Disclaimer: I am aware this train of thought has at least two weak points. ;)


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Honestly, no, the big 3 evil outsider races do not have equivalent numbers.

Most petitioners that go to Hell wind up getting used as building materials or otherwise being tortured forever, without ever even making it to lemure status. A soul that makes it lemure status might get promoted to a higher form. Hell does boost its numbers by having soul farms, though - both entire worlds worth of mortals trapped in its various layers (mostly in the Sixth and the Second, IIRC), and various prime material worlds that Asmodeus has conquered.

Honestly, I don't think Asmodeus is even really interested in invading other planes - his goal is conquest of the prime material, and thus being able to just claim all souls as his. (Heck, part of Eiseth's long term goals reflects that she's really mad that Asmodeus is ignoring the Upper Planes, and she actually wants to hijack Moloch's forces and re-direct them from focusing on the Prime to focusing on the Upper Planes.)

Most petitioners that go to Abaddon are actively destroyed by the native daemons, which is probably a limiting factor on their numbers. Those that manage to survive become daemons reflecting their own deaths, and join in the carnage.

Daemons are easily the least populous of the big 3 evil outsider races because they eat their future. (Aside: Abaddon is the beneficiary of there being a number of high birth rate, high mortality neutral evil races like goblins, which might help mitigate the daemons' ouroboros impersonation.)

Demons, by comparison, (a) have no great drive to destroy their petitioners, other than sometimes for pleasure or as ritual fuel and (b), as mentioned above, can see multiple demons produced by a single petitioner. And so while the Abyss no longer has the benefit of its backlog of souls, it's still pretty boss at churning out more demons. And some of the sins linked to strong demons are actually really common, like wrath, lust, and greed.

If anything, it's a cruel cosmic irony that the CE plane is the one that may be the most efficient at producing exemplars.

The Abyss also the benefit of being home to a powerful chaotic evil goddess of life, who's determined to choke the entire universe with her spawn and who blesses her worshipers with healthy (if horrifying) young. Lamashtu is the demonic equivalent to Shub-Niggurath, and she is strong. As a "mere" demon lord, she invaded Abaddon and captured one of the Four Horsemen. She then killed a god and consumed his power. As a goddess, she's actually already invaded Hell and tore out a piece - that's where Basalfeyst comes from. Fortunately for the rest of the Outer Planes, she, like Asmodeus, is now far more interested in dominating the material plane.


Boomerang Nebula wrote:
If there were billions of galaxies teeming with chaotic evil beings it would probably be mentioned somewhere in the sourcebooks that the multiverse is out of balance and Pharasma would be working overtime.

“We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”

― H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu

I can see that you are fairly new to PF/golarion lore, so I really don't intend this as a personal jab at you, but this is exactly what the Dark Tapestry is. Sadly, Pharasma doesn't seem to care (as the daemons are quick to point out, when making the argument that the gods don't really know what their doing and just very high CR, but not really Gods).

Oh, I also believe it was implied in 3.5 that demons take only a very short time to re-spawn in the Abyss, while angels and devils may take a century or more. Plus, the Abyss was already full of demons before mortals were made, so having enough mortal souls doesn't seem to be an issue for the Abyss.


Boomerang Nebula wrote:

The idea that the majority of sentient beings are the most extreme and self destructive alignment (chaotic evil) seems illogical.

Having the majority as chaotic evil is an unstable and therefore temporary state of affairs, which is why a small rag tag bunch of adventures can have a meaningful impact. In the long run neutrality will win through sheer numbers, hence why Pharasma can sit back and relax.

You are thinking too big.

It is like how there are 200,000,000 for every human on the planet. There can be a large amount of small, inconsiquential bottom feeders that just barely scrape by and reproduce at a high rate to make up for the high number of deaths (like how reptiles and fish lay dozens of eggs and only a couple make it to adult hood).

Basically: I am sure that, if left unchecked, there would be 20 goblins for every human. Or some variation of underwater goblins or martian goblins. Or some Cthulhu monster births an entire hive of lovecraft goblins.

Creatures that are intelligent enough to start to consider morals (above the animal standard that would make them neutral), but they are not smart enough to ever raise themselves out of the 'dog eat dog' lifestyle of CE.

So I can see an unreasonably large amount of souls that belong to these little buggers. Lawful good is just not suited for this kind of lifestyle- they care too much about 'quality of life' and 'improving things', so they are not good at the 'attrition through reproduction' behavior.


@ WhiteMagus2000

I am a big fan of Lovecraft and it is obvious the folks at Paizo are too. I've not seen in any book where it describes what is actually in the Dark Tapestry only vague hints. I assumed it was vague for good reason so that GMs could decide on the relevance of the Dark Tapestry and its minions to their own campaign. Although, I kind of like the idea that the Dark Tapestry is some vast phenomenon that upsets the cosmic balance. Hmm...

@ lemeres

I assume you are referring to orcs as goblins are neutral evil not chaotic evil. The way I see it core trumps everything. The core rulebook says humans are the dominant race and nothing in the bestiary entries on orcs (or goblins for that matter) disputes that. I can see the logic behind chaotic evil races spawning more quickly than other races and orcs being the modern day equivalent of pest species. But I can't see them ever becoming so large in number that they become the dominant race.


Technically, I think the Dark Tapestry is just the void between stars, where some creepy stuff lives. XD

Now, the Dominion of the Black, on the other hand... Iron Gods Volume 4.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Has there ever in the history of the entire universe been even the briefest moment when one alignment plane was ruled by a different alignment? (Like an LE character ruling the CE plane, for example?)

Have there always been exactly nine alignment planes?

Could an alignment plane be even theoretically destroyed? What would happen?


Abaddon was around for awhile, but Horsemen of the Apocalypse specifically notes that Abaddon was basically empty until the first major cataclysms on the Material Plane created the daemons. Eventually, they demanded to get souls like the other aligned planes, and Pharasma agreed.

So, if nothing else, I don't think there have always been nine aligned planes.


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I use goblins as an example creature- the image of a small, mass reproducing species that are selfish little buggers. The niche of kobold, pugwampis, gremlins, etc- the small, weak pests that adventurers kill by the dozens without much thought at level 1.

And yes. Humans are the dominant creature. just like how humans are the dominant creature in reality, rather than spiders. That doesn't change the proportion of humans to spiders. Spiders are more numerous, but they are so individually weak and incapable of organization that they are unable to effectively challenge human supremacy.

But if we are talking about conversion of souls into outsiders... how much different is the soul of a goblin and human souls? Once they turn into demons, I am not sure if it matter what they were originally (at least for the lesser species; I guess dragons might be a different story).

If each human soul somehow turned into an 2 hd low angel, and every goblin turned into a 2 hd demon... then there would be a lot of demons.

Shadow Lodge

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Boomerang Nebula wrote:
The core rulebook says humans are the dominant race and nothing in the bestiary entries on orcs (or goblins for that matter) disputes that. I can see the logic behind chaotic evil races spawning more quickly than other races and orcs being the modern day equivalent of pest species. But I can't see them ever becoming so large in number that they become the dominant race.

A sufficiently large population will probably become dominant, but just because a group is dominant doesn't mean that they have the largest population.

For example, within recent history the United States has been described as the dominant nation on Earth despite having a population roughly one-quarter that of India and China.

And again, orcs and goblins have a much shorter life expectancy than humans. Their maximum lifespan is 60 years compared to humans' 110 years. They're probably also more likely to die young and violently. This means more turnover of the population - so orc and goblin populations could probably produce at least twice as many souls as an equivalently sized human population.


Samy wrote:

Has there ever in the history of the entire universe been even the briefest moment when one alignment plane was ruled by a different alignment? (Like an LE character ruling the CE plane, for example?)

Have there always been exactly nine alignment planes?

Could an alignment plane be even theoretically destroyed? What would happen?

I remember a number of times in 2E and 3.X when parts of one plane would be assimilated by another. The gate cities in the true neutral plane commonly got sucked into the alignment planes. A chunk of Arcadia became too lawful and was pulled into mechanus.

It's certainly not a whole plane, but drow society was NE, even though drow are individually CE. Their society is rigid and controlling enough that it forces them to act out-of-alignment for most of their lives. Kind of a self inflicted hell.

Grazzt, the demon Lord is well known for acting more LE than CE. His kingdom's nickname is even The Little Hells, due to his non-chaotic nature. I vaguely recall that he would even be less chaotic, but was afraid that the Abyss would turn on him.


lemeres wrote:

I use goblins as an example creature- the image of a small, mass reproducing species that are selfish little buggers. The niche of kobold, pugwampis, gremlins, etc- the small, weak pests that adventurers kill by the dozens without much thought at level 1.

And yes. Humans are the dominant creature. just like how humans are the dominant creature in reality, rather than spiders. That doesn't change the proportion of humans to spiders. Spiders are more numerous, but they are so individually weak and incapable of organization that they are unable to effectively challenge human supremacy.

But if we are talking about conversion of souls into outsiders... how much different is the soul of a goblin and human souls? Once they turn into demons, I am not sure if it matter what they were originally (at least for the lesser species; I guess dragons might be a different story).

If each human soul somehow turned into an 2 hd low angel, and every goblin turned into a 2 hd demon... then there would be a lot of demons.

Some interesting points there. I am not sure you can draw a parallel between spiders and goblins, the power differential between goblins and humans is tiny, the difference between humans and spiders is vast.

Looking at the Inner Sea Guide the most significant population of orcs and goblins is in the Hold of Belkzen which even at its peak is tiny compared to human kingdoms. In the descriptive text it says the population waxes and wanes from obscurity to threatening to spill over into neighbouring kingdoms but even at its relative heights it is quickly contained. They are clearly pest species that will never have the numbers to challenge human supremacy.

Interesting your comment on the relative value of souls. I was working on the assumption that animal souls are of negligible value, sentient pest races like orcs of higher value. Humans of slightly higher value and ancient races like dragons the highest of all. But I don't know of any rules that support that view.


Weirdo wrote:
Boomerang Nebula wrote:
The core rulebook says humans are the dominant race and nothing in the bestiary entries on orcs (or goblins for that matter) disputes that. I can see the logic behind chaotic evil races spawning more quickly than other races and orcs being the modern day equivalent of pest species. But I can't see them ever becoming so large in number that they become the dominant race.

A sufficiently large population will probably become dominant, but just because a group is dominant doesn't mean that they have the largest population.

For example, within recent history the United States has been described as the dominant nation on Earth despite having a population roughly one-quarter that of India and China.

And again, orcs and goblins have a much shorter life expectancy than humans. Their maximum lifespan is 60 years compared to humans' 110 years. They're probably also more likely to die young and violently. This means more turnover of the population - so orc and goblin populations could probably produce at least twice as many souls as an equivalently sized human population.

True. Although it is hard to maintain dominance without the advantage of a larger population. The United States has a technological advantage against China and India but that gap is closing and so we are seeing the rise of what will be two new superpowers.


Boomerang Nebula wrote:
Looking at the Inner Sea Guide the most significant population of orcs and goblins is in the Hold of Belkzen which even at its peak is tiny compared to human kingdoms. In the descriptive text it says the population waxes and wanes from obscurity to threatening to spill over into neighbouring kingdoms but even at its relative heights it is quickly contained. They are clearly pest species that will never have the numbers to challenge human supremacy.

Yes. In the inner seas area, there are relatively few goblins.

But as I noted- my 'goblin' is a stand in for any pest race, in any environment. Outside of the charted lands of men, there are countless places where foul creatures rule over fiefs of petty servitor races.

From the mind controlled slaves of the Aboleth under the seas to the shackled lesser in the drow cities of the dark lands to the worshipping pawns of great old ones in the remote worlds of the cosmos- all there are a lot of places outside of view (perhaps in places that humans cannot even survive in) that could be breeding grounds for CE pests.

That is the kind of thing that kind of gets casually thrown around in the descriptions of the gods. Events such as Barbatos offering up an entire world's worth of souls to Asmodeus as payment for his position. There are places that are conveniently off screen that allows the writers to provide expansive power bases for the evil gods without actually having it affect the main setting.

Shadow Lodge

In Golarion, Goblins are afraid of writing. That's a pretty big technological handicap. Orcs are also often described as only capable of crude technology. Not that I'm saying that either of these races necessarily has a higher population at any given time than humans, just that having humans be the dominant species on Golarion doesn't mean that they're necessarily the

And if we consider the fact that evil aligned humans aren't uncommon, and that elves, dwarves, and other usually-good races are described as both uncommon and slow to reproduce, it does seem reasonable that there might be a greater flow of evil souls (human and nonhuman) into the afterlife than good ones.

Boomerang Nebula wrote:
Interesting your comment on the relative value of souls. I was working on the assumption that animal souls are of negligible value, sentient pest races like orcs of higher value. Humans of slightly higher value and ancient races like dragons the highest of all. But I don't know of any rules that support that view.

You're not entirely wrong, but the rules on the soul trade seem to differentiate value based on just sentience and power. The vast majority of sentient souls are lumped into the "basic souls" category, with essentially equivalent value. Only exceptional individuals are given higher value. Human souls might be more valuable on average than the average orc soul, if only because there seem to be more human heroes and rulers to skew the average up. But a level 1 orc raider and a level 1 human guard appear to have the same value.

Soul Trade:
Animal Spirits (25 gp): This category contains creatures of animal-level intelligence, whose spirits—while presumably worth something to some deities, as reflected by the value of animal sacrifice—are rarely traded in the soul markets. In fact, though the existence of animal spirits is undeniably real, there’s rampant debate in many societies over whether such things truly count as “souls.”

Basic Soul (100 gp): This is the soul of a standard intelligent creature—a commoner, a low-level adventurer, a sentient monster of low CR, or any of the other hordes of weak or mundane folk who live out their lives with a normal amount of pomp and excitement. This is the lowest category of souls which interests daemons, who see animals and other nonsentient creatures as hardly worth the time to destroy.

Noteworthy Soul (500 gp): The souls of mid-level characters, rulers, famous or influential people, and other powerful, accomplished, and otherwise important people draw greater attention than basic souls, and drive bidding higher accordingly.

Grand Soul (1000–5000 gp): High-level characters, great heroes, dragons, powerful aberrations, and other such spirits of fabulous power and forceful personalities offer equally significant rewards to those who manage to contain their essences.

Unique Soul (priceless): For the truly unique souls—those of legendary figures, epic heroes, and other massive presences—there can be no going price. The unique sparks that live within these creatures are valuable beyond compare, and the frantic bidding (and backstabbing) that arises when one of these trapped spirits comes up for sale is the sort of thing fiends and undead wait thousands of years for, paying nigh-unimaginable prices for the right to consume or display such an artifact.


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I like the idea of Asmodeus tricking the PCs

He requires a macguffin for his outsider shifting superweapon but its obviously guarded against divines and outsiders, so he can't get it himself. He knows his more potent agents are being watched by the other outsiders, so he dispatches a lower minion to pose as a wealthy employer.

This employer hires some low level mortals who will be unaffected by the outsider/divine protections. The PCs think Old Man Jenkins has hired them to retrieve a family heirloom.

They turn in the macguffin with Old Man Jenkins who has another fetch quest, he gives them the instructions then has business out of town. The party embarks on the next leg of their mission, this time something unrelated to Asmodeus' Plan, but alas, during the caper they provoke the ire of the church of X and find themselves being hunted down by clerics and inquisitors of team good guys,who don't know who the PCs work for but who assume their up to no good based on their involvement with Y.

Meanwhile, Norgorber knows something is up and sends HIS agents after the party. The party is hunted by the good guys, and evil assassins, an associate of Old Man Jenkins offers them help, without giving away whats up, but is of course, a devil. His offers all invariably further hells aims, while obfuscating the real plot.

So the party unwittingly are playing for team villian, and fighting off team good and team neutral, they get the sense big things are in the works, and a cold war spy game sets in.

After having proven their value, Team Jenkins has them put to task capturing specific outsiders for transitioning, but of course, a friend of Old Man Jenkins needs these outsiders for research to fight evil, certainly nothing untoward.

The party kidnaps specific outsiders, and they get some Kickbacks from Hell (but not knowing it's hell). But now things get weird!

The outsiders start marching on the mortals trying to reclaim the captives.

At this point, the party (Team Hell but don't know it) are fighting off outsider incursions, AND Team Good, AND Team Norgorber Assassins. Eventually plot develops and they have a choice:

Old Man Jenkins had a break through that can stop the outsiders in their tracks, but at the same time a representative of Team Good tries to inform them they're being played, the party has a choice and depending on that choice, they help Hell take over the outside planes coming into conflict with everyone else, or they choose a different side, at which point Hell sets it's sights on the PCs...


It sounds convoluted enough to be a typical Asmodeus plan.


Generally I find that when PCs start fighting angels no amount of charisma on Old Man Jenkins part will stop them from going 'wait what? Are we the baddies?' Most will even hit that point as soon as inquisitors from a Good deity show up...


^If the Inquisitors and Celestial forces are initially of the more militant, less savory, and partially corrupted variety (potentially even spiked in this regard by agents of Asmodeus himself), this will throw the PCs off from figuring out what is going on for a while.

Astral Wanderer wrote:

{. . .}

I think one like Asmodeus wouldn't keep things so straightforward as making a couple pacts here and there, and then have his own legions take the open road.
At the very least, he'd do something like subtly helping the Worldwound to grow, until Demons pose such a threat that the other forces (both good and not) are compelled to bring a large-scale purge. And there Asmodeus would kick in, acting as the half-hero like he did with Rovagug. That way, he'd have allies to spread the Demons' hatred (less losses and trouble for Hell), could claim new territories and other things, and would have manipulated everyone, much to his satisfaction.
In such a scenario, there's an infinity of ways the PCs could be involved, since it wouldn't be just a private quarrel between Hell and Abyss.

This sounds like something that may already be happening . . . .


MMCJawa wrote:
Astral Wanderer wrote:


At the very least, he'd do something like subtly helping the Worldwound to grow, until Demons pose such a threat that the other forces (both good and not) are compelled to bring a large-scale purge. And there Asmodeus would kick in, acting as the half-hero like he did with Rovagug. That way, he'd have allies to spread the Demons' hatred (less losses and trouble for Hell), could claim new territories and other things, and would have manipulated everyone, much to his satisfaction.
In such a scenario, there's an infinity of ways the PCs could be involved, since it wouldn't be just a private quarrel between Hell and Abyss.

{. . .}

Now at the local level sure...Asmodeus supporting the crusade against the worldwound would benefit Cheliax in my mind, and maybe garner...some grudging admiration from the younger ascended gods, especially Iomedae. In my own head cannon Cheliax is far far more involved in the worldwound effort than in the official Golarion

Thread Breath of Life time.

I've been toying with the idea of a modification to Wrath of the Righteous that gives Hell and its sympathizers -- including heresies insinuated into other religions -- a lot more involvement. So Asmodeus does secretly help the Worldwound to grow, to give the excuse for letting his allies have more control over Golarion. At the same time, since Golarion is a minuscule piece of the cosmic picture, he's doing this on other worlds as the opportunities come up. Each one is a minuscule piece, but they all add up . . . .

Some Golarion-specific particulars:
In the original, Inquisitor Hulrun and the Burners are overzealous but loyal followers of Iomedae, and Inquisitor Hulrun ends up dying and being made into a meat shell for a Demon in the rampant chaos of the fall of Kenabres. In the modified version, things start out this way, but Hell gets its fingers into the picture, and Inquisitor Hulrun gets over his impairment of the flesh at the cost of becoming an agent of Asmodeus, along with many of the Burners although Abaddon/The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse end up securing the loyalty of a significant faction of them.

And as things are starting local but getting into the bigger picture, the real prize is Iomedae herself . . . .

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