(Illustration by Eva Widermann comes from the PathfinderWiki and is © Paizo Publishing.)
I was raised Catholic, so naturally I love heresies. (There’s nothing so fascinating to us as someone Doing It Wrong.*) Naturally, that means I love the heresy devil.
First off, heresies are interesting in and of themselves—to see a belief evolved, reinterpreted, remixed, or straight-up perverted is a fascinating thing. Heresies get even more interesting in a world where gods regularly manifest and grant spells to clerics. In such an environment, how are heresies allowed to flourish? How big do they have to get before a god notices? Or can perverted belief pervert the gods in turn—“As above, so below” might work in both directions…
And so into this mix come ayngavhauls, the heresy devils—corpulent monstrosities that float on monstrous thrones, spewing searing words of blasphemy and honeyed whispers of seduction and flawed logic. They are the authors of false apocrypha, the architects of flawed logic, and evangelists of error on a thousand worlds. And like all heretics, they have an uncanny knack for gathering likeminded souls around them—especially other devils, which they are adept at summoning.
If you really dig these devils, check out their original entry in Book of the Damned–Vol 1: Princes of Darkness. There you’ll also find out about the massive robes of lead that some ayngavhauls wear, as well as the obscure branches of wicked scholarship they pursue when not busy promoting their blasphemous works.
Stalled in promotion in the religious hierarchy, a prelate pursues advancement through the law instead. As the High Adjudicator, he uses his pronouncements from the bench to subtly guide the direction of the faith (and not so subtly enrich himself). But when he condemns an innocent man to death to undermine a rival, his perfidy inspires divine retribution—or a diabolic reward—and he metamorphoses into a heresy devil on the spot, while the Hall of Justice transforms into a tower of iron and volcanic rock.
As servants of the Blue Lady, adventurers are obligated to join the crusade against the Cerulean Flame, a band of upstart militant schismatics. Along the way, they are tormented by powerful ghuls, rogue undead, and bone devils—all servants of the heresy devil who is stalling for time to allow his heresy to spread.
Convinced of his righteousness, a fallen paladin baron abducts clerics of a rival faith and imprisons them. There he subjects them to a variety excruciations to spur them to penance and conversion. One of his most notorious punishments is to submerge his prisoners in a vat filled with the bile of a heretic devil (said devil being hung in magical chains from the ceiling above the vat), sapping them of their strength and magical might. It is unknown whether this is the same heretic devil who caused the paladin to fall.
—Book of the Damned–Vol 1: Princes of Darkness 56–57 & Pathfinder Bestiary 5 80
*Especially since most of us are also Doing It Wrong. For instance, my (Methodist) father was Director of Family Planning for our state. So when the Knights of Columbus came into our CCD classes to teach Catholic sex ed, I brought pamphlets so I could correct their rather…creative…statistics on condom use and STDs. I was very helpful.
Also I had a friend named Albie I more than once referred to as the Albigensian Heresy. Now you know why I was popular.
PS: Anyone getting a Lynchian Baron Harkonnen vibe from the heresy devil? Me too.
Maybe it’s because of the holiday season, or because people miss the days this blog was five days a week (believe me, I miss those days, too!) but recently a number of very kind readers have written in asking me if I’ve every thought about using Patreon.
I totally, totally appreciate both the suggestion and the fact these readers are interested in supporting the site. That said, at present I have no plans to—it’s just not something I’m comfortable with, especially given my current spotty posting schedule, along with some other reasons I won’t get into right now.
Some of the same readers have asked me about setting up an Amazon Wish List. That I’m more comfortable with, simply because, a) I already set one up for my family and friends, and b) anything on there is simply more brain food for generating this blog. So if you have a few bucks and want to help my complete my Dungeon magazine collection or dig up a few hard-to-find 2e softcovers, my Wish List is here. And if you do decide to go that route, you have my serious thanks (and leave me a note to let me know if you want to be credited here).
Alternately, if you want to do some good but Amazon’s not for you, I encourage you to throw a few bucks the ACLU’s way. I have a feeling they’re going to need our support in the next few years, and we sure as heck are going to need theirs.
It’s The New Indie Canon’s Best of 2016 show! Enjoy two hours of the songs we loved from the past all-too-eventful year. Stream/download it now through Monday, 01/02/17, at midnight.