Tired of the heavenly host having all the fun? Here are the host devils! Introduced as the gaav, the lesser host devil, and magaav, the greater host devil, in Book of the Damned–Vol. 1: Princes of Darkness, it’s the magaav that got the coveted hardcover treatment.
Host devils are for when Hell has given up being subtle. When an important soul, treasure, or intended sacrifice slips through a major devil’s fingers and his infiltrators and persuaders can’t do the job, maybe a flying column of noxious-breathed four-winged nightmares will.
The host devil stat block lists its organization as “solitary, pair, or flock (2–6),” but honestly if you’re seeing less than four of these creatures someone messed up, because these things are all about strength in numbers. With shared sense they can act with one mind, and they use this ability to devastating effect in combat: flanking, grappling, bull-rushing, etc.
The people of Icaria aren’t angels, not really. But long ago they combined the teachings of a swan maiden with their own clockwork tinkerings to create magimechanical wings that nearly all the citizens wear (not unlike gathlains and their symbiotic plants). When adventurers come to the famous floating city, they arrive just in time to see it attacked by host devils. To rescue Icaria, they need to get the object of the devils’ search, a young girl, away from the island. But that means strapping on magimechanical wings they’ve never used and out-flying the grappling arms of host devils who all share the same thoughts and can turn on a denarius.
Moving a certain idol out of position releases a host devil. If the idol remains out of position long enough (3 rounds) another host devil is conjured, until a full flock of six has arrived. As each devil appears, it first attempts to summon one of its kin, then begins to move eerily in sync with the other devils to attack. Should the battle turn against the devils, one of them shatters a magical orb, granting the original devil mirror image to further confuse the battlefield.
Known as a naturalist whose letters on avians are more widely read than his epistles, a priest asks adventurers to accompany him on a bird-watching trip—“To see a murmuration of starlings, essentially…coordinated flock behavior at its finest,” he says. Despite being on the side of the angels—literally—the priest is not telling the whole story. They are going to travel to one of the borders of the Abyss, were host devils whirl through the shattered sky in perfect unison. The priest is a spy for the Heavenly Choir, gathering intelligence for a coming battle.
—Book of the Damned–Vol 1: Princes of Darkness 58–59 & Bestiary 4 53
Also note that flies are drawn to these guys…perfect for whatever analogue of Baalzebul/Beelzebub/the Lord of the Flies is active in your campaign.
Sigh. Put out a two-hour radio show, week in, week out, and Tumblr doesn’t bat an eye. Mention Hastur and fail to mention True Detective or the saga of one crazy guy in a single Cthulhu campaign—not even Call of Cthulhu, mind you, but Trail—and man did all 2,600 of you have something to say about it!
I kid, I kid! And actually the tale of Henderson has thoroughly enriched my life—thank you all! That said, now I know how Linkara got the way he is. (“This monster SUCKS!”)