Daemons have the following traits (unless otherwise noted):
- Immunity to acid, death effects, disease, and poison.
- Resistance to cold 10, electricity 10, and fire 10.
- Summon (Sp): Daemons share the ability to summon others of their kind, typically another of their type or a small number of less powerful daemons.
- Except where otherwise noted, daemons speak Abyssal, Draconic, and Infernal.
This subtype is identical to the standard daemon with the addition of the following:
- Unique daemons (such as Charon and the Oinodaemon) get a profane bonus to AC equal to their Cha modifier (minimum +1).
- Arch daemons (such as the Oinodaemon) get an insight bonus to AC equal to their Wis modifier (minimum +1)
Daemon from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene, based on original material by Gary Gygax.
Harbingers of ruin and embodiments of the worst ways to die, daemons epitomize painful death, the all-consuming hunger of evil, and the utter annihilation of life. While demons seek to pervert and destroy in endless unholy rampages, and devils vex and enslave in hopes of corrupting mortals, daemons seek only to consume mortal life itself. While some use brute force to despoil life or prey upon vulnerable souls, others wage campaigns of deceit to draw whole realms into ruin. With each life claimed and each atrocity meted out, daemons spread fear, mistrust, and despair, tarnishing the luster of existence and drawing the planes ever closer to their final, ultimate ruin. Notorious for their hatred of the living, daemons are the things of dark dreams and fearful tales, as their ultimate ambitions include extinguishing every individual mortal life—and the more violent or terrible the end, the better. Their methods vary wildly, typically differentiated by daemonic breed. Many seek to infiltrate the mortal plane and sow death by their own taloned hands, while others manipulate agents (both mortal and immortal) as malevolent puppet masters, instigating calamities on massive scales from their grim realms. Such diversity of methods causes many planar scholars to misattribute the machinations of daemons to other types of fiends. These often deadly mistakes are further propagated by daemons’ frequent dealings with and manipulation of other outsiders. Yet in all cases, despair, ruin, and death, spreading like contagion, typify the touch of daemonkind, though such symptoms often prove recognizable only after the hour is far too late.
Daemons flourish upon the plane of Abaddon, a bleak expanse of cold mists, fearful shapes, and hunted souls. Upon these wastes, the souls of evil mortals flee predation by the native fiends, and terror and the powers of the evil plane eventually transform the most ruthless into daemons themselves. Amid these scarred wastelands, poison swamps, and realms of endless night rise the foul domains of the tyrants of daemonkind, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Lords of devastation, these powerful and unique daemons desire slaughter, ruin, and death on a cosmic scale, and drive hordes of their lesser kin to spread terror and sorrow across the planes. Although the Horsemen share a singular goal, their tactics and ambitions vary widely.
Along with mastery over vast realms, the Horsemen are served by unimaginably enormous armies of their lesser brethren, but are obeyed most closely by retinues of daemons enslaved to their titles. These specific strains of daemonic servitors, known among daemonkind as deacons, serve whoever holds the title of Horseman. Although these instruments of the archdaemons differ in strength and ability, their numbers provide their lords with legions capable of near-equal terrorization. More so than among any other fiendish race, several breeds of daemons lust after souls. While other foul inhabitants of the planes seek the corruption and destruction of living essences, many daemons value possession and control over mortal animas, entrapping and hoarding souls—and in so doing disrupting the natural progression of life and perverting the quintessence of creation to serve their own terrible whims. While not all daemons possess the ability to steal a mortal being’s soul and turn it to their use, the lowliest of daemonkind, the maniacal cacodaemons, endlessly seek life essences to consume and imprison. These base daemons enthusiastically serve their more powerful kin, eager for increased opportunities to doom mortal spirits. While cacodaemons place little value upon the souls they imprison, greater daemons eagerly gather them as trophies, fuel for terrible rites, or offerings to curry the favor of their lords. Several breeds of daemons also posses their own notorious abilities to capture mortal spirits or draw upon the power of souls, turning the forces of utter annihilation to their own sinister ends.
Four dread lords, infamous across all the planes, rule the disparate hordes of daemonkind. Risen from among the ranks of their terrible brethren to displace those fiendish tyrants before them, they are the archdaemons, the End Bringers, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In the blasphemous annals of fiendish lore, they are the prophesied architects of multiversal ruin, destined to stand triumphant over cadaverous cosmoses and infinities of silence before also giving way to absolute oblivion. Undisputed in his power among their kind, each Horseman rules a vast realm upon the bleak plains of Abaddon and a distinctive method of mortal ruin: pestilence, famine, war, or death from old age. Yet while each archdaemon commands measureless influence, daemons know nothing of loyalty and serve only those they cannot overcome. Thus, though the Horsemen stand peerless in their power and manipulations among daemonkind, they must ever defend their thrones from the machinations of ambitious underlings and the plots of other archdaemons.
Upon the poisonous expanses of Abaddon, lesser daemonic peers carve petty fiefdoms and posture as lords, but despite their world-spanning intrigues, all bow before the Horsemen—though most do so only grudgingly. Ancient myths also tell of a mysterious fifth Horseman, the Oinodaemon, though nearly all mention of such a creature has been scoured from the multiverse.
There are many different ways to capture souls. The most commonly used methods are spells like soul bind and trap the soul, with the former imprisoning the soul of a newly dead creature and the latter trapping the soul of someone still alive. Other creatures, such as the undead called devourers, have their own innate methods of trapping souls, and likewise night hags are capable of using a version of soul bind through their heartstones to capture the souls of those they torment, binding them in dark gems and selling them in planar markets. Still other creatures create magic items called soul jars, which mimic the effects of these spells.
All of these methods, however, pale in the face of daemons’ industrialized harvesting of souls. Abaddon’s fiends use virtually all known methods of collecting and storing souls, many of which are unique to themselves. Cacodaemons, the least caste of daemons, prove vital to this harvest, and represent the most common means of turning souls into trade goods. These ravenous fiends possess the unique ability to devour the souls of freshly killed creatures; transform their souls into small, jewel-like objects called soul gems; and spit them back up for collection. These gems each contain the basic essence of a soul, and daemons use them for various raw and refined purposes depending on the fiend in question, the quality and power of the soul, and the daemon’s knowledge of soul-warping magic. Of course, many cacodaemons would prefer to consume the souls in their entirety, rather than passing the spirits on, but more powerful daemons rarely give them the option, bullying the cacodaemons into giving up their treasures, employing (or enslaving) a particular individual as a partner in the trade, or maintaining whole hunting packs as pets.
Most methods of using souls extinguish them completely, consigning them to oblivion. In these cases, only the direct intervention of a deity can return them to life—and sometimes not even then, such as when the soul is specifically devoured by one of the Horsemen. Other methods bleed a fraction of a soul’s energies away, and while this method is far less powerful, some daemons capture other creatures for the sole purpose of entrapping them and milking their souls over a prolonged period of time, causing horrific agony for spans of months, years, or centuries before finally giving in to their own hunger and consuming what tattered fragments of soul remain.
Unconscionable as most of the universe considers these practices, trapped souls exist as a commodity replete with their own rampant underground economy, both within the evil-aligned planes and elsewhere. Most of these souls ultimately end up in Abaddon, though buyers and markets can also be found in Hell, the Abyss, Axis, and even the worlds of the Material Plane, as evil spellcasters and item crafters can make great use of powerful souls in their dark rites. The economy is complex, with prices determined not only by the strength and power inherent in a given soul, but also according to each soul’s manner of death, alignment in life, and other criteria. These additional factors rarely influence their use in magical experiments unless a soul was particularly noteworthy, but as the daemons are happy to explain, the nature of a soul has everything to do with its unique flavor.
While the value of souls is as relative as any other commodity, and pricing can fluctuate wildly based on an endless parade of factors, presented here are some basic categories. With each of these, it’s important to note that these are guidelines only, and individual spirits may fall lower (such as a dragon slain young, or a king whose general lack of ambition kept him from great deeds) or higher (a commoner of exceptional piety, or one who never had the chance to fully explore her exceptional abilities) than one might expect. These prices are based upon the supply and demand commonly faced by traders upon the planes where such commodities prove far less outlandish than on the Material Plane, where prices might increase by 10 times or more (though such has no effect on their value when put to use; see below). As with anything else, the exact value of a soul is ultimately up to GM discretion. It’s also worth noting that, while trading spirits may prove lucrative, the practice is undeniably evil and an affront to the natural order, and thus carries great consequences in the afterlife.
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.
In addition to consuming them for the sheer joy of destruction, daemons use souls to empower themselves, conduct strange experiments, construct their hideous domains, and more—and mortal spellcasters have followed their lead. Of these varied uses, the most common is the creation or recharging of magic items, using the life force contained in soul gems and other such vessels—or drawn out of the victim directly at the moment of casting—to empower the magic being worked. In these cases, souls should be assigned values based on the categories presented here and then treated as material components, reducing the gold expenditure necessary to cast the spell according to the souls’ value. (Thus a spell that requires 400 gp to cast might instead cost 300 gp and a basic-level soul.) Souls used in this manner are consumed and destroyed utterly.
Souls are especially useful in the creation of intelligent items. In these cases, usually only one soul crystallizes as the intelligence embedded into the item, though other souls may be cannibalized in the item’s creation. Item alignment, item ability scores, and languages spoken by the item mirror those of the soul used to provide the item’s intelligence. Scholars have long debated whether the intelligence in such an item is the soul used, or if the soul is destroyed and the intelligence is only patterned on it—the implication being that recovered intelligent objects (especially of daemonic origin) might be destroyed in order to liberate the souls used in their construction. As instances of both have been reported over the centuries, the question remains open, though few adventurers are willing to destroy their prized weapons based on conjecture.
Beyond the means described above, daemons have myriad additional means of trapping, keeping, and subsequently using souls for constructing permanent objects and effects, such as a liquid form of soul-stuff mixing multiple souls, a crystalline dust formed from soul gems, and even ink created from souls and used to write down the names of the doomed, imprisoning them in elaborate poems penned on the daemons’ own flesh. Something intrinsic in daemonic nature allows for this flexibility, as some of the same methods they routinely use fail spectacularly when attempted by non-daemons, including such creatures as night hags, devourers, liches, and followers of some fiendish lords, who themselves possess a vested interest in exploiting some or all of these methods.
While many claim to see absolute evil in the eons-spanning agendas of Hell or the unpredictable and unstoppable devastation of the Abyss, the features of immorality, depravity, and cruelty most truly shape the face of Abaddon. The scions of this shattered realm know no ambitions but their own, no loyalty but that wrested from them by fear or pain, and no limitations in pursuing their most wicked desires. Some underestimate daemons, viewing them as evil without form, with vague plots that fall short of diabolical schemes and constrain them from the boundless degeneracy of demonkind. In truth, daemons might be viewed as embodying evil at its purest, free from the mandates and strictures of devils, possessed of greater vision and focus than demons. They are embodiments of evil without concern for law or chaos, malice given thought and form.
All daemons endure trials upon the plane of Abaddon, facing mind-shattering torments and paradoxes that, over eons, imbue each with the fundamental traumas and timeless hatreds that epitomize daemonkind.
From the Mortal to the Eternal: A daemon’s existence begins in shock, pain, fear, and desperation. Virtually every daemon begins by crawling Abaddon’s unforgiving soil as one of the hunted. The rare exceptions to this wretched beginning are often those mortals who, prior to death, worshiped one of the Horsemen and sealed a pact that condemned them to one of these unfathomably evil beings’ clutches—and even then, at least half of these depraved spirits are betrayed by their patrons and consumed outright. Only seldomly does a mortal of exceptional evil and foul potential gain a daemon’s interest. Such perverse spirits can hardly view such attention as a boon, though. Existence as one of the hunted is terrifying and generally swift, ending in a moment of horrific violence as the soul is consumed by the denizens of Abaddon. Those elevated to serve as newly shaped daemons face prolonged trials of pain, maddening stints of gaslighting, and unimaginable cruelties. Over a span of ages, just as surely as the souls of the hunted are destroyed and digested, so are the souls of promising mortals warped and fractured into beings unrecognizable from the villains they once were. Either as one of the transcended hunted or a chosen spirit, once a soul becomes a daemon it typically turns to prey on other hunted, mercilessly reveling in its increased status, even though most are elevated only to the forms of cacodaemons. Gradually, as time progresses in spans measured in centuries, new daemons integrate into the larger societies of Abaddon. These less powerful fiends wander Abaddon, left to their own devices until gathered together and organized by their more powerful kindred, obeying out of fear or respect. To the masses of lesser daemonkind, structure and organization come with difficulty, but their superior brethren find that their loyalty can be purchased quite easily. The mantra endlessly whispered in the ears of lesser daemons is simple: “Servitude brings safety and souls. Follow, obey, and feast.” In this way most lesser daemons fall under the sway of more powerful members of their kind.
Obedience without Loyalty: Although all daemons show a strange, racial loyalty to the Horsemen and their deacon servitors, daemonic authority bears no relation to the rigid hierarchy of Hell or the survival of the foulest and most experienced in the Abyss. Daemonic authority tends to be one of territory, with a given region, location, or city ruled by a powerful individual, the ruler’s authority conferred by one of the Horsemen, a harbinger, or the daemon’s own might and ability to subjugate all rivals. Within that territory, such despots essentially rule by divine right, but their rule exists only so long as their actions please the power that invested them. Of course, should such a daemonic dictator be killed by its servitors, clearly it was not fit to rule. Such lesser tyrants remain free to appoint whatever hierarchy they see fit to serve them, and so daemonic citadels and cities may possess vastly different societies. For example, the council of crucidaemons that controls the sub-realm of Ovencal contrasts sharply with the harem-autocracy of Gasping Ecstasy, dominated by the erodaemon Weeping Libation and the 35 ever-shifting members of her harem.
The Existential Paradox: Given most daemons’ origin among the souls of the hunted, coupled with their quasi-religious hatred of mortal life, an inherent paradox underlies all daemonic thought: that all things mortal must be obliterated, despite the fact that they themselves were once mortal. The reasons for this hatred of existence are as varied as the daemons themselves, stemming from lives of grief and pain, terrible and unjust ends, heartbreak and wounded pride, and more. Regardless of how their hatred comes to be, most daemons lock away any considerations of their former nature or musings on the roots of their anger, and ages of depravity and delusion scour their beings of anything recognizable as the creatures they were in life. Yet just as a gnarled willow grows from a tiny black seed, so does each daemon know its current being finds it roots in that which it most loathes. This core of self-loathing guides most daemons in their greatest profanities, allowing them to lash out at the living, spirits, other outsiders, members of their own kind, and occasionally even themselves with a viciousness that translates into an absolute hatred of all things that live, once lived, or ever might live. Such makes them the ultimate nihilists, guiding them toward a vision of a silent multiverse, an endless realm devoid of life and which, in the end, even they will be absent from. Yet as much as it loathes all things, every daemon loathes itself a modicum less, and so each strives to be the last witness to a dead eternity.
Source: Ultimate Magic (see Binding Outsiders for further details.)
All daemons have a common goal: bringing death, destruction, and pain to mortals. They eat souls, and stop at nothing to sate their hunger for them. Daemons are not to be trifled with. The greater lords of the daemons—the deacons and the Four Horsemen themselves—are almost never summoned. Whether this is because they force others to arrive in their place, or because they have somehow anchored themselves to the plane of Abaddon, none can say with certainty.
Astradaemon (SR 27): Powerful but relatively dim hunters of souls, astradaemons can only be bribed into service by two things—a feast of souls and the promise to spread death.
Cacodaemon: Savage and hungry, most cacodaemons cannot suppress their savage natures long enough to make deals. At best, the binder can trick a cacodaemon toward actions in concert with her purposes.
Ceustodaemon: The most common daemons summoned to the Material Plane, ceustodaemons are relatively easy to deal with, though none know if this is because of some deliberate action by more powerful daemons. They are often called guardian daemons, as they are frequently bound to that task.
Derghodaemon (SR 23): No one summons a derghodaemon unless they are stupid, desperate for the services of a savage killer, or both. Less intelligent than cacodaemons and twice as vicious, derghodaemons do not deal with any creature, and relentlessly attempt to escape their binding, usually with brute force.
Hydrodaemon (SR 19): On their home plane, these vile creatures swim the River Styx; on the Material Plane, they are often called to serve as guardians in swamps and sanctuaries of unscrupulous spellcasters. More pliable than most of their fiendish kin, hydrodaemons take treasure and the promise of souls as gifts for their services.
Leukodaemon (SR 20): Leukodaemons are the deacons of the Horseman of Pestilence, and on the rare occasions that they are summoned, they make any deal a binder wants, as long as it somehow results in the spreading of disease and devastation.
Meladaemon (SR 22): As deacons of the Horseman of Famine, meladaemons are rarely summoned by mortal spellcasters, and typically only agree to actions aligned with their own agendas or those of their lord.
Olethrodaemon (SR 31): The mammoth olethrodaemons often make deals with mortals wishing to evoke devastation on rival lands, sometimes even asking only half the normal offering for the privilege. Even those olethrodaemons serving one of the Four Horsemen as paragons can be summoned, though it is often assumed that such a feat is done only at their master’s whim.
Piscodaemon (SR 21): Lovers of misery, especially that of the strong and powerful, piscodaemons eagerly make deals with mortals who wish to use them as soldiers against the powers of good—especially armies composed of or led by paladins.
Purrodaemon (SR 29): Steadfast servants of the Horseman of War, purrodaemons may be the easiest deacon daemons to summon. It seems their master often gives them leave to spread war on the Material Plane, but their service to any binder is often brief and violent, for both daemon and spellcaster.