Wednesday, December 3, 2014


The dorvae is a shrouded reptilian outsider packing a nasty serpent surprise underneath its skirts (at least judging by Vincent Devault’s Bestiary 4 art), along with a poison that leaves opponents vulnerable to its lesser geas.

I’m intrigued by dorvaes.  A) Because I’m always intrigued by outsiders that live on the outskirts and liminal spaces of the cosmology.  B) Because the differences in the evil outsider branches are being defined by thinner and thinner shades of nuance as time goes on.  (Try parsing the difference between the divs’ desire to ruin and demons’ desire to destroy, for instance, or rakshasas’ pursuit of worldly decadence vs. the oni’s pursuit of worldly sensation.)  So I’m interested in the dorvaes because, if you believe the Bestiary 4, then theoretically they choose to be outside those systems entirely.  They’re intriguingly libertarian and solipsistic at the same time—utterly determined to maintain their freedom and refuse all allegiances, yet believing all other creatures exist to serve them—just the kind of paradox I like in my elusive outsiders.

That said, we don’t know much about them, and their activities as described in the Bestiary 4—manipulating cults, dominating primitive humanoids, etc.—are…let’s be honest…pretty price-of-entry for evil outsiders.  The good news is that means the door is wide open for you to define them on your own.  Maybe that solipsism plays out in psychopathic serial killing (“Dost thou like Huey of Lewis and the News?”).  Maybe a dorvae might run a gladiatorial Warworld in the vein of Justice League’s Mongul, or direct his peons as if they were pawns in some great cosmic chess game.  Or maybe they are the arms dealers in the eternal war between devils and demons.  All we know so far is that they are evil, that they reject all masters, and they appear to be completely outside and unconcerned with the migration of souls.  The rest is up to you.

A dorvae experiments on dwarven twins for his own sick pleasure.  After corrupting one such twin into dabbling in forbidden sorcery, he convinces the twin’s sister that a party of adventurers is responsible for her brother’s fall from grace.  Ideally, either the sister or the adventurers perish, but if they ally to save the prodigal brother, the dorvae attempts to wipe all their minds to preserve the integrity of his experiments.

In the land of the Djannu, genie influence is found everywhere—except Qmir.  No conjuration is allowed, and jann, sulis, and the genie-blooded are turned away at the gates or executed.  This is because Qmir’s secret ruler is a dorvae who wants no competition for his fiefdom and no wishcraft to cause ripples in his carefully constructed reality.  That reality is a cold police state that breeds slayers and assassins who do the dorvae’s will.

A dorvae known only as the Printer disseminates forbidden literature.  No pamphlet is too libelous, no roman à clef too scandalous, no tome of lore too vile to share.  He keeps printing presses on several planes, and his folios once caused an entire world to fall to the King in Yellow.  (He never reads what he prints—he has minions for that—so he never risks falling under an author’s spell.)  The celestials might have slain him eons ago, were it not for the fact that he occasionally embarrasses important devils and demons by publishing the true names that may be used to summon them.  Adventurers might encounter the Printer when he introduces the printing press to their worlds, or when one of his pamphlets finally angers a divine patron enough to take action.  Then again, they might have samizdat works of their own they’d like to see distributed across the multiverse…

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 62

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