Demons are chaotic evil outsiders that call the Abyss their home.
Demons possess a particular suite of traits (unless otherwise noted in a creature’s entry) as summarized here.
- Immunity to electricity and poison.
- Resistance to acid 10, cold 10, and fire 10.
- Summon (Sp) Demons share the ability to summon others of their kind, typically another of their type or a small number of less powerful demons.
- Except where otherwise noted, demons speak Abyssal, Celestial, and Draconic.
- A demon’s natural weapons, as well as any weapon it wields, is treated as chaotic and evil for the purpose of resolving damage reduction
Source: Ultimate Magic (see Binding Outsiders for further details.)
The great weakness of demons is a holy or other good weapon. Such weapons overcome every demon’s natural resistances, and are one of the few types of weapons that all demons fear equally. When dealing with demons, it is best to remember that they abide by no contract other than power, and displaying power—or at least hints of it—is key to keeping them under control. Their magic circle is made of powdered cold iron. All demons are immune to electricity and poison effects. Many have other resistances based on their forms and chaotic natures.
Babau (SR 17): Any sacrifice for a babau must involve an intelligent creature, which the demon must be allowed to rend and utterly destroy.
Balor (SR 31): Balors do not come when summoned, and actively resist calls. Only the offer of a bound CR 15 lawful or good outsider, or a helpless paladin or cleric of 15th level or higher, dims their rage at being snatched from their home. Even thus placated, they will surely seek revenge unless the mortal they face demonstrates a greater power.
Dretch: As the slave labor of the infinite Abyss, the lot of the dretch would be pitiable if the creature weren’t so contemptible. The best sacrifice for a dretch is the promise that it can spend at least a third of its time in servitude resting.
Glabrezu (SR 24): These treacherous demons peddle in secrets that destroy, and to bring them to the Material Plane as interested negotiators, the caster must know secrets that can destroy influential families, bring down nations, or otherwise befoul the bedrock of society.
Hezrou (SR 22): Expensive poisons and powerful potions worth at least 500 gp can pique the interest of these toadlike demons.
Marilith (SR 28): Either powerful magic weapons (+2 enchantment or greater) or the promise of the command of armies of cults can lure a marilith; any offer less than this earns the caster a –6 penalty on the Charisma check.
Kalavakus (SR 21): These horned demons almost always barter for slaves in return of their services.
Nabasu (SR 19): These demons love nothing more than devouring or enslaving humanoids so they can grow fatter and stronger.
Nalfeshnee (SR 25): These demons love knowledge, especially that within their specialties of manipulation and greed. Nalfeshnees bargain knowledge for knowledge, but never give more than they gain.
Omox (SR 23): These slimy demons enjoy the destruction of beautiful things. For their services, they often take “gifts” that involve the destruction of beautiful things—in particular an attractive young man or woman as sacrifice.
Quasit: Even more pathetic than the dretch, the quasit seeks only the assurance that it can return to the Abyss when its task is complete.
Shadow Demon (SR 17): The shadow demon asks merely for the shell of a beautiful person to wear for the duration of its servitude. It does not care whether that shell is pure or impure.
Shemhazian (SR 27): These powerful demons serve mortal spellcasters for only one price—when their service is done, they get to kill and devour the binder. This makes attempts to control them very rare. Sometimes they demand the life of the binder’s family or friends as well.
Succubus (SR 18): The primary joy of the succubus is in destroying innocence and love; offering a child, virgin, or a beloved family member of the caster suffices to gain the interest of the succubus.
Vrock (SR 20): The vrock loves to despoil and befoul things of great beauty. Artwork worth at least 250 gp or a living, intelligent creature to destroy are equally desirable sacrifices. As their dance of ruin attack is more powerful the more vrocks are involved, they are often conjured and bribed in groups.
Vrolikai (SR 30): These transformed nabasus hate being summoned to the Material Plane, believing their time there is over and they are meant for greater things. When summoned, they typically ask for twice the normal amount in gifts. These demands are often accompanied by outrageous, sometimes impossible demands. They can eventually be reasoned with, but only when binders demonstrate power over them.
While it is one matter for a sinful soul to be judged and then sent on to manifest upon the Abyss as a larva, from there to perhaps someday transform into a newborn demon, it is quite another to bypass this process entirely. Yet for some, the power wielded by demons is too seductive and compelling to wait for—especially considering that the process of becoming a larva almost always expunges memories of life. To this end, there are methods by which mortals can hasten the transformation into a demon—demonic implants and a vile transformation ritual.
The forbidden and blasphemous rituals of demonic transformation can be found only in the rarest of tomes (such as the Book of the Damned). A rare few demons, ranging from lowly quasits up to the mightiest balors, know these rituals and can teach them as well—they guard this knowledge closely, offering it only to those they deem deserving of the lore. One way to learn such a ritual from a demon is to use planar ally or planar binding to conjure the demon in question and offer it a payment in return for the secrets of the transformation ritual—this could even be a four-step process requiring a new conjuration for each step of the ritual. Not every demon knows this information, of course, so researching the name of a specific demon can add an additional level of research required before the process can begin. A character might even receive the methods by which to transform into a demon via a series of dreams or visions (typically granted to him from a demonic patron in reward for service), although this route is best left for NPCs that are strictly under the GM’s control.
First Ritual: The first ritual is the easiest, and requires nothing more than for the user’s alignment to become chaotic evil. By undertaking acts of a vile and destructive nature, the mortal consigns her soul to the Abyss even if she never finishes the second and third rituals. The mortal must select a demon lord (or a nascent demon lord or Balor Lord) at this point to serve as a demonic patron. The acts the user must undertake can vary, but should be of a nature that represents and “honors” the areas of interest of her chosen demonic patron—these acts are intended to attract the patron’s attention, after all. Even mortals who begin the transformation ritual as already chaotic evil must undergo this stage of the ritual, if only to select a demonic patron. In total, the first ritual must progress in this manner for a minimum of one year—at the end of the ritual, the mortal’s alignment changes to chaotic evil.
Second Ritual: The second ritual requires many more months of debased acts and vile plots, but at some point during this second year, the mortal must contact her chosen demonic patron, via either commune or contact other plane. A trusted minion or ally can cast this spell on the mortal’s behalf—it’s common for a spellcaster to gain a quasit familiar so that the quasit can use its commune spell-like ability for this purpose. Once contact is made, the demonic patron must be told of the mortal’s desire to become a demon—the commune or contact other plane spell cannot be used to ask any other questions. At some point thereafter, but before a year has passed, the mortal must offer a significant sacrifice to her demonic patron as a burnt offering in a temple consecrated to the demon lord. This offering can be either living or dead—in either case, the burnt offerings must be of someone that is related to the mortal by blood or family—an adopted parent or child is sufficient if, at some point the mortal and the offering once loved each other. The mortal must make a DC 20 Knowledge (religion) check to properly perform the burnt offering—if the sacrifice is or was once a worshiper of a lawful or good deity, the check drops to DC 10 (and thus becomes something that even one not trained in the Knowledge skill can attempt). If this check is successful, the second ritual ends and the mortal gains a demonic implant (typically demon senses or a demon talon) as proof of her demon’s favor.
Third Ritual: At some point after the mortal contacts her demon lord (typically after the second ritual succeeds, but sometimes before), the demon sends the mortal a vision of a task that must be completed (such as freeing a bound evil outsider from a Material Plane prison or assassinating a powerful cleric of a good religion). This task is typically one of significance to the demon lord, and in many cases one that the mortal has no hope of completing until she grows more powerful. There is no time limit for how long the mortal has to complete this task, but she must maintain her weekly devotions to her demon in the time that passes in the form of regular worship and continued atrocities in the demon’s name. Additional burnt offerings to the demon, betrayals of allies, and assaults on innocents are popular choices. Once the assigned task is completed, the mortal must perform another ritual in honor of her demonic lord—a sacrifice consisting of no less than a dozen nonevil intelligent creatures offered in the course of no more than a single week. The mortal must make a DC 30 Knowledge (religion) check at the end of the sacrifice, but gains a +1 bonus on the check for every 5 additional sacrifices offered beyond the initial dozen. If the check succeeds, the third ritual ends and the mortal permanently gains the half-fiend template.
Fourth Ritual: For many, gaining the half-fiend template is enough, but for those who wish to go even further, a fourth ritual exists. The mortal’s demon lord grants no vision or advice to begin this ritual—the mortal must take it upon herself to honor her demon lord in a manner appropriate to that demon lord’s interests and areas of concern. Once every year, on the anniversary of the day the mortal completed the third ritual, she must perform a special ceremony that recounts her accomplishments over the past year and culminates in a significant sacrifice (usually consisting of the sacrifice of an important member of an enemy faith, or of a lawful or good outsider; in either case, the sacrifice must be at least CR 9). The mortal then makes a DC 40 Knowledge (religion) check, with a cumulative +1 bonus for each previous such ritual she’s performed over the past several years. Success results in a final transformation into a full-fledged demon—the mortal loses all benefits of her previous race or the half-fiend template, but can immediately apply all of her class levels to her new demonic race (for example, a human fighter 10 could become a vrock fighter 10). The type of demon that the mortal transforms into depends on both the nature of her chosen demon lord and the GM’s discretion, but should generally not result in a total number of Hit Dice that more than doubles the mortal’s original Hit Dice.
Demons exist for one reason—to destroy. Where their more lawful counterparts, the devils of Hell, seek to twist mortal minds and values to remake and reshape them into reflections of their own evil, demons seek only to maim, ruin, and feed. They recruit mortal life only if such cohorts speed along the eventual destruction of hope and goodness. Death is, in some ways, their enemy—for a mortal who dies can often escape a demon’s depredations and flee to his just reward in the afterlife. It is the prolonging of mortal pain and suffering that fuels a demon’s lusts and desires, for it is partially from mortal sin and cruelty that these monstrous fiends were born.
Demons are the most prolific and among the most destructive of the fiendish races, yet despite what some lore might preach, they were not the first forms of life to rise in the stinking pits of ruin and cruelty known across the multiverse as the Abyss. Before the first fledgling deity gazed upon reality, before mortal life drew its breath, before even the Material Plane itself had fully formed, the Abyss was infested with life.
Known to many scholars as “proto-demons,” these wretched and deadly beings were the qlippoth. Today, because of the influence of sinful mortal souls upon the Abyss, mixed with unholy tamperings at the hands of the daemonic keepers and the cruel whims of fate and evolution, the rule of the qlippoth has receded. The proto-demons dwell now in the noxious and forgotten corners of the Abyss, and the far more fecund and prolific demons rule now in their stead. With each evil mortal soul that finds its way into the Abyss, the ranks of the demonic hordes—a single soul can fuel the manifestation of dozens or even hundreds of demons, with the exact nature of the sins carried by the soul guiding the shapes and roles of the newly formed fiends.
The Abyss is a vast (some say infinite) realm, far larger than any other plane save possibly the primal chaos of the Maelstrom itself. As befits such a vast and varied realm, the demonic host is likewise diverse. Some carry in their frames humanoid shapes, while others are twisted beasts. Some flop on land while others flap in air or sea. Some are schemers and manipulators of emotion and politics, others are destructive engines of ruin. Yet all demons work to the same goal—pain and suffering for mortal life in all its forms.
Yet despite this, mortals have sought demonic aid since the start. Be it an instinctual draw to self-destruction or a misguided lust for power, conjurers to this day continue to draw forth demons with forbidden magic. Some conjure demons for lore, while others call upon them to serve as assassins or guards. Demons view such summoners with a mix of hatred and thanks, for most demons lack the ability to come to the Material Plane to wreak havoc on their own. They depend on the mad to call them up from the Abyss, and while they gnash their fangs and rail against the commands and strictures enforced, most demons find ways to twist their summoners’ demands so that even the most tightly controlled demonic slave leaves a trace of ruin and despair in its wake. More often than not, a foolish spellcaster makes a fatal mistake in the conjuring and pays for it with blood, unwittingly releasing a terrible blight upon the world as his conjuration breaks free of his control.
The truly mad call upon demons to offer themselves, both body and soul, in the misguided belief that alliance with the demonic can buy salvation and protection when the demonic apocalypse finally comes to call. Tales of desperate kings who sought to engage demons to serve as generals for their armies or of lunatics who seek demonic sires to gift them with horrific children are common enough, yet worst are those mortals who worship the most powerful demons as gods, and who pledge their lives in support of that which would bring destruction to all.
Source: Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Book of the Damned Vol. 2: Lord’s of Chaos
Although mortals cannot recall a time when they were not haunted and tormented by demons, the strange truth is that demonkind is one of the youngest races to rise in the Outer Planes, for they are the direct result of the interaction between sinful mortal souls and the Abyss itself. In essence, demons are the ultimate “evolution” of sins born of mortal choice, a final scourge upon existence and a necessary price to pay for free will.
When the first sinful mortal souls were judged and sent on to their ultimate fates, those sent into the Abyss did not manifest as the Damned and enter the remorseless machine that is Hell, nor did they rematerialize in their living bodies on Abaddon to become prey for the daemonic host. Those who came to the Abyss manifested as larvae—worm-like creatures with pale, glistening bodies and twisted human faces stretched over the pulpy and chitinous masses that now passed as their heads. These larvae gathered on the rims of the Abyssal rifts, and as the countless worlds of the Material Plane continued to offer up sinful souls as grist for the Abyss, vast seas of larvae began to choke the realm. It wasn’t until a now-forgotten daemon lord, one of the first Horsemen of the Apocalypse, came upon a fatal idea that true demons came into existence. This lord had long held a strange interest in the qlippoth of the deepest Abyss, and in his realm kept many as stock for experiments and investigation. Intrigued by the potency of larvae, the ancient Horseman began to conduct experiments with larvae and qlippoth—experiments that showed immediate promise. Over time, the nameless Horseman perfected his methods, and at last was able to trigger a most unholy transformation. The amalgamation of sinful soul-stuff and living matter birthed eons ago by the Abyss convulsed and transformed from the inside out, making something entirely new: the first demon.
Legends vary on the subject of who this first demon may have been. While many believe the creature born that fateful moment would eventually become herself, much evidence suggests otherwise. It seems likely that this first demon has long since been slain and reworked into some strange new form by the Abyss—apocalyptic scholars and explorers believe that the first demon may still exist in some deep and undiscovered node in the Abyss or beyond, and that its reemergence into the multiverse will presage a new age of transformation in the Outer Rifts.
Yet the nature and fate of that first demon are overshadowed by a much greater event that occurred a moment after its creation. For the creation of that first demon, that first transformation of mortal soul into demonic life, did not go unseen or unknown. The Abyss itself felt the transformation, and almost as if the act were akin to plucking a load-bearing pebble from the fractured expanse of a vast dam, the transformation spread explosively. Across the Abyss, spasms of birth shuddered through the squirming seas of larvae. Waves of undulant flesh flowed over the edges of the rifts as individual larvae—their guts gorged upon Abyssal plants or flesh, filth, and decay—transformed into demons by the millions. This chain reaction filled the Outer Rifts with a violent new form of life in the span of a few heartbeats, and in an eyeblink demons became the most populous of the fiendish races.
Not every larva was fit for transformation, and while the number of lingering souls had been vast, it had not been truly infinite. Yet the demons far outnumbered the other denizens of the Outer Rifts. Qlippoth, once the masters of the Abyss, were hunted to near extinction and fled into the deepest canyons where even the demons feared to go. Countless daemonic infestations were destroyed in a matter of minutes by the demonic tide—these fiends retreated in shock to their realms on Abaddon, and for many ages, that realm was also overrun by demonic invaders. Even on the shores of Hell itself, the change had an impact, as the infernal realm suffered a rare siege that it only barely held its own against.
After the initial explosion, demonic growth quickly leveled out, albeit at an unimaginably vast population. Hell regained control of its borders. Abaddon drove out its invaders and reclaimed the lands that had been stolen from it. The forgotten Horseman who had triggered this new age was slain and erased from memory forever—though whether by the tide of demons that rose up around his fortress or by his incensed apocalyptic kin, no one can say. Yet the Abyss itself had forever changed, and the mantle of its rule now lay firmly in the grip of the demonic horde.
Although the demonic race is nearly infinite in number—an unhappy proof of mortality’s endless capacity for sin, regardless of worlds or cultures—the types of demons that make up that host are relatively limited in shape and scope. While the demon lords are unique and individualistic, the demons themselves are shaped and formed by the constants of sin. When a soul filled with sin comes to the Abyss and makes its transformation into a full-fledged demon, that transformation, like water, follows the path of least resistance—the results of these transformations almost always manifest as one of the known races of demon. Individually, these demons can vary in appearance as greatly as the humanoids from which they were born, but overall, the number of types of demonic races remains quite small.