mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

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Haute Macabre. (19, 20)

Book of the Damned Volume Two: Princes of Darkness by F. Wesley Schneider.

Book of the Damned Volume Two: Lords of Chaos by James Jacobs.

She's Nocticula.
Alexander McQueen died.
You noticed that too?

Her hair's amazing.
She visits him in heaven.
Or maybe Ysgard.

I really like tomes about evil creatures in Dungeons & Dragons mythology. Things like the Book of Vile Darkness, the Fiendish Codices, Demonomicon, & the old Faces of Evil. There is just something abotu the infernal worldbuilding that sings. Most of the pantheons of gods in roleplaying end up a little stale & very artificial, but the hellspawn all come together & click. Perhaps it is the liberal theft from real world cultures, mixed with the revisions & retelling of multiple editions of the game. Paizo's entries here are not just up to snuff, but excel-- which of course, you already expected. The Pathfinder screed is all about merging New School sensibilities with Old School sentiments-- or vice versa. The books don't slow down to give stats for the Demon Princes & Archdukes of Hell. Why bother? If you are running a campaign at thirtieth level, you probably want to stat out Baalzebub yourself. Instead, The Books of the Damned concentrate on scene & story, which is what I want from them, anyway. Oh sure, there are stats for new demons & devils, new magic items, new prestige classes & spells. If you are looking for crunch, you can find it. Where the book soars is in the inventive reimagining of classic diabolical archetypes. For the Demon Princes, it some how manages to be the S entries that really hit a homerun. Shax, based on the demon from the Ars Goetia of the same name, is the bird-headed lord of serial killers & torture porn films. Shivaska has the form of an eight-limbed Choker, Princess of clocks & orphanages. Sifkesh is dismembered jumble of body parts, eyes & mouth stitched closed, hair dripping blood. Great stuff. The Archdukes of Hell really have punch because they haven't dumbed them down. Conflicting pieces of various stories, multiple names, overlapping domains; each Duke is like an onion, all the better the deeper you dig. Baalzebub & Mephistopheles, or the White Son & the Red Son, are particularly captivating, though I think my favorite is Barbatos. It is the art that does it...I'm not sure which interior illustrator is to thank, but bravo. The bearded pirate Duke is fantastic. If I voiced any complaint about these books-- & I guess I will-- it is that there are a few sections written in a cursive font. Now, no more than two pages at a time, but that is a page & nine-tenths too many, if you ask me. An intro paragraph in a hard to read font is alright, but any more than that is too much. Still, I kind of adore these books, & will put them in a place of honor with all the other treatises on the nature of personified evil.
Tags: books, dnd, haiku, paizo, pathfinder

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