Before we get started, today is a big day for The Daily Bestiary. We’ve reached the letter N—which means today we are officially halfway to the end of the alphabet. That’s every single monster from A to M in the Bestiary and Bestiary 2 (and every monster from E to M in the Bestiary 3). Whether you’ve been reading since “Aasimar” or you just joined with “Myceloid,” thanks for visiting and sticking with me. Onward to Z!
And starting today we’ll also be adding Inner Sea Bestiary monsters—look for the nightripper in two weeks and the noqual golem in three.
Now, to today’s business…
Nabasus are demons that grow by devouring souls, creating ghoul minions in the process. (Do I even need to say more? If you’re a GM and you aren’t salivating by now, this may be a good time to leave this blog and find a Downton Abbey LARP.) Interestingly, they also tend to manifest on the Material Plane (usually from the souls of gluttons or cannibals). They then have to earn their way into the Abyss through the aforementioned soul devouring and advancement.
This makes them an ideal way of introducing the world of demons to PCs (assuming they haven’t already tackled a dretch or quasit). At CR 8, a nabasu is powerful without being overwhelming, has manageable special abilities, and is usually solitary (even its summoning powers are limited). But the stakes are very real—it is a pinprick of Abyssal terror in the mortal world, yearning to feed—and the lives it ends are not just lost, but turned into fuel and slaves. PCs are likely to stumble upon its ghoul minions, and in the process of eradicating them discover the demonic puppeteer pulling the strings. If they defeat it, they have killed their first demon, becoming aware for the first time of horrors worse than any orc. If they don’t, then they have a score to settle that could take them into the Abyss itself.
PS: In Lords of Chaos, James Jacobs points out a delightful fact about nabasus summoned by mortal spellcasters: As they grow in Hit Dice, they often outgrow the bounds of the spell that called them. This is another excellent excuse for an encounter: the demonologist whose servant has a will and servants of its own. Plus, if you have a party of neutral or (*shudder*) evil PCs, an uppity nabasu is an excellent way of reminding them that toying with fell powers is not to be done lightly…and has costs…
Since today’s a big day, let’s have four adventure seeds instead of the usual three:
Adventurers discover that the renowned sensei they have been seeking since the start of their careers is actually their beloved neighbor—a matronly halfling who is secretly a monk master. But before they can learn from her, she is captured by a nabasu. The adventurers arrive just as the demon devours the last soul it needs to advance and plane shift to the Abyss, taking their imprisoned sensei with it.
Nabasus are a paradoxical link between the foul fertility of the Abyss and the corruption and ruin of undeath (and thus the Negative Energy Plane). A sage, noting rough similarities in their physiognomies, posits that nabasus are evolved or corrupted sceaduinars. He wants to test this thesis (and find ways to defend against both threats), but that means sending adventurers to the borderlands where the two most dangerous planes in existence meet…
An opera company revives a medieval mystery play, and inadvertently fosters the creation of a nabasu through one of their songs (actually a rite of summoning). The demon traps the singers in the sprawling theater and begins to turn them into ghouls. A party of the Queen’s Musketeers is sent to defeat the beast. Afterward, the cardinal’s scholars are called in to identify the nabasu and the ghouls, neither of which have been seen in the kingdom in over a century. The cardinal informs the party that the demon is a servant of an entity of legend whose name has not been spoken in 200 years: Orcus.
On the Shattered World of Ens, a protean-generated near-cataclysm has made Law and Chaos the vastly more important axis than childish notions of good and evil. And on this world a party of adventurers is roused from their beds and taken to see their half-devil lord. The Hellmeister bids them kill a rogue nabasu and report back (or not return at all). Before their search is complete, they must also contend with the demon’s ghoul minions, rabid owlbears, and a tribe of harlequin elf freedom fighters that will see them dead for being the Law’s lackeys.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 64
Hope you all had a good weekend! I’m super-excited to link to this week’s radio show, because it was super-fun. Stars, Ben Gibbard, Ra Ra Riot, Whitehorse, and the Last Royals are all in the mix. Even a Strokes flashback, because why not? Download it!
(For best results—the feed skips on some computers—let load in Firefox or Chrome, Save As an mp3, and enjoy in iTunes. Link good till Friday, 2/1, at midnight.)