Before we begin, an important announcement: The Daily Bestiary is on vacation! I’m typing this on the plane to Orlando as I get ready for a week of R & R. I’ll see you next Friday as we resume our regularly scheduled posts.
The Deacons of Death, thanadaemons represent death by old age—something most adventurers need never worry about. But more importantly, they are also the iconic ferryman on/over the River Styx. They are reliable up to a point, and the wise adventurer would do well to know exactly where that point is. Using a thanadaemon simply to cross the River Styx is usually a safe bet, but expecting it to bring you back or take you far up and down the river is another story—one with betrayal written in the final chapter. Because while ferrying souls is their job, harvesting souls is their reason for being.
Thanadaemons’ ability to plane shift is another reason to seek them out…but again, expecting the ferryman who picks you up in the middle of the Ethereal or Astral Plane to not have an ulterior motive is beyond naïve…
Of all the gondoliers who ply the canals of Tenmeer, those who wear the black livery of the doge are most feared—for these are not men at all, but thanadaemons. During the time of the Everplague, a council of thanadaemons agreed to serve the doge for a century, provided they could harvest the souls of all those who died of illness or old age in that time. That doge did not long enjoy their services—he died of plague soon after—but the thanadaemons have served the office faithfully as ferrymen and secret assassins. Anyone wishing to challenge the current doge must contend with at least one of these fiends.
Adventurers find themselves trapped in the silvery void of the Abyss. A thanadaemon answers their call, offering to transport them to wherever they wish. However, if they do not specify the route, they will first spend as much as a year winding through the hope-sapping marshes that border the River Styx.
Not every thanadaemon poles a skiff. Long Night’s Embrace is a paddlewheel riverboat patterned after dwarven designs, but built and crewed entirely by fiends and catering to gunslingers, gamblers, and prospectors up and down the Sippewissett. Instead of a quarterstaff, the thanadaemon captain prefers a +2 cavalry saber for his energy drain attacks.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 2 74
I’m no daemon expert, but for 3.5 fans the marraenoloth is probably the closest equivalent.
More on thanadaemons and their dark lord Charon can of course be found in the inimitable Todd Stewart’s Horseman of the Apocalypse.
Meanwhile, I’m off to Disney! See you in a week.