Illustration by Tylor Walpole

Roots & Beginnings: Book of the Damned (Part 2)

Friday, April 24, 2009

As promised, here is part 2 of "Roots & Beginnings: Book of the Damned":

Wes: "There are a lot of interesting stories about demons in Hebrew mysticism and collections of angelology. Sean K Reynolds lent me a fantastic book, the Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels, by Gustav Davidson, which was a major source of inspiration. Another interesting source was accounts from the Book of Tobit, which features Asmodeus as the primary villain.

"There was also a lot of ancient Middle Eastern mythology that I tried to fit in. It's interesting how in ancient history, when a large religion such as Christianity gained prominence in an area, the old gods were demonized. Moloch and Beelzebub are good examples of this. Moloch was a relatively benevolent deity in the Fertile Crescent in ancient times. What's interesting is that the word 'Moloch' might refer to the either the deity itself or to the method with which worshipers sacrificed to it. Adherents possessed a kiln shaped like a bull, and put seven sacrifices into seven slots in the oven—one was an amount of flour, there were several animals, and the last was a human child. There was nothing inherently malevolent about this—nor particularly uncommon for the age—it was just the way they practiced their religion.

"1st Edition portrays Moloch basically as a scary devil with horns. Paizo's version of Moloch promotes him to the general of Hell's legions; he is a monstrous suit of armor with a bull-like helm, beneath which there is nothing but living fire. He's disciplined, severe, and merciless, but aside from commanding Hell's war machine, he's also very mercenary in his recruitment for his legions in that he's willing to provide services for those who honor him; if people sacrifice to him, he fixes their problems. Should one burn offerings to Moloch to stop a flood and save their village, he's probably more likely to step in and stop the flood than most deities. The caveat, of course, is that Moloch is an archdevil and whether one worships him as part of a militaristic cult, as part of the traditions of one's people, or just because his standing offer of aid is tempting, serving him damns a soul to his fortress realm in Malbolgia after death. But when faced with dying at the hands of a foe, infernal intervention for either benevolent or selfish reason might be worth the price of later damnation. There's a lot of this throughout the book, evil disguised as goodness or at least the right—or easy—choice for the moment. Sure, Asmodeus, the archdevils, and the armies of Hell could easily murderer mortals and claim their souls, but why when, with the proper nudging, most mortals will damn themselves.

Thanks for reading "Roots & Beginnings: Book of the Damned"!

David Eitelbach
Editorial Intern

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