It’s our first Bestiary 6 monster! (More on that in a bit.) And what a monster it is: Mammon, the archdevil of avarice himself.
Mammon is, to my mind, probably the most interesting of the archdevils. (Sorry, Anne Carson fans.) Excepting Barbatos and Geryon, most of the others seem like riffs on the Asmodean model—this one might have a bit more or less bat wing; that one might lean a bit more courtly or seductive or barbaric—but at a glance they all basically resemble pit fiends with really good tailors.
Mammon is not that. Mammon is about money. Mammon is avarice writ large. And it’s not even simple greed, but an exacting, grasping, miserly form of greed like no other. This is an archdevil that so loved his wealth that when he was originally killed his essence just transferred to his piles of coins. You read that right: Mammon doesn't just love treasure; he is his own treasure. Mammon’s spirit lives in a silver statue of himself.
All of which makes Mammon interesting. Don’t cross him, don't steal from him, and don't possess something he covets, and he might never notice you. In fact, his layer of Hell might be one of the safest for parties to travel to, providing they have the right passes and plenty of gold to spend on official taxes, duties, and bribes. But, like characters in some fairy tale, touch one coin, stray an inch of the path, or flash a costly magical item or artifact, and all is lost. Because once Mammon has you in his sights—and with his ability to possess and scry on objects, his sight reaches far—he will never, ever stop chasing you until he has what is his…and until you are ash at his feet.
By the way, since we actually get our notion of Mammon from medieval scholars anthropomorphizing the Biblical passage about “mammon,” it seemed only appropriate to create an adventure seed that riffed off of that line as well. Hopefully that doesn’t make any of you feel uncomfortable; if it does please feel free to message me. As a (admittedly lapsed) Catholic myself, I’m in no way intending to be sacrilegious; instead I’m trying to creatively and respectfully engage with the texts we have in a magical version of our world.
Hell’s vaults are the most secure in the multiverse. So beings of all types—even gods—sometimes store valuables there. However, Mammon’s greed is such that he loathes relinquishing these goods, even to their rightful owners. When a demigod cannot retrieve a sentient, singing crystal shard from her safety deposit box—due to “easily remedied irregularities,” her smarmy infernal accountant says—she hires adventurers to break into the vault and steal her own property…an act sure to draw Mammon’s personal attention.
When the nation of Nika fell into crushing debt, Mammon himself loaned the money to settle what Nika owned. But there was a catch—the Mammon-tainted coins had to circulate, so that the archdevil might better spy upon the world. Any Nikan with more than ten tainted coins in his or her possession for more than a year risks acquiring the hellbound corruption. In order to save Nika, adventurers acquire as many of the coins as they can. They hope to craft a lance that will pierce the archdevil’s essence and free the Nikans of his foul touch.
“Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” A shedu astrologer reads these words and muses. The Jewish martyr Yeshua, called by some Christus, gave this warning some 50 years ago. Perhaps, the shedu thinks, it is also why he famously threw the money changers out of the Temple. Was it moral and spiritual outrage? Or did he know something? Did he detect the taint of the archdevil in the coins? And now that the Second Temple has been sacked and its holy energies desecrated and dispersed…might not Mammon return? Sitting in Palmyra, the shedu muses some more, checks the signs in the stars again, and calls for a messenger. He needs adventurers—Palmyrans, Romans, Judeans, centaurs; it matters not, so long as their hearts are pure—to go to Roman-occupied Jerusalem and find out if Mammon has indeed returned.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 6 26–27
No stats for Mammon online yet to link to. Also, while all archdevils are considered mythic, since it’s not at the top of the stat block, I won’t be tagging them as such.
Today’s a bittersweet day for me. About 19 months ago, give or take about a dozen half-finished entries, The Daily Bestiary had actually caught up to Paizo’s Bestiary production—and that was a great feeling. Then Bestiary 5 came out…and while I was stoked, I couldn’t give it my full attention. For a lot of personal and professional reasons, I needed to refocus on some projects on the home front (my other writing, physical fitness, work, loved ones’ health issues, etc.). In other words, TDB stopped being so daily…and now Bestiary 6 is here, and I find myself only halfway through B5. Yikes.
That said, I’m excited about B6, so I’ll work it into the fold—though I may have to tighten up my entries (especially the intros) for a while. In the meantime, I hope you’ll keep reading, and hopefully you’ll find your favorite new B6 monster here soon.
What do I think of B6? My copy arrived Friday, so obviously I haven’t had time to do more than flip through the pages. But here are some first impressions:
B4 was unapologetically about big monsters—colossi, demon lords, outer dragons, and even kaiju and the Great Old Ones. B6 doubles and even triples down on that theme, serving up not just big monsters but the big names—all eight of Hell’s archdevils, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, still more Great Old Ones and kaiju, and some qlippoths, planar dragons, and empyreal lords for good measure. It can also be said to be a bit of a “Best Of,” working in many of the best monsters from the Inner Sea Bestiary, the Occult Bestiary, and various other softcovers. But overall, this is a book for GMs who never met a demigod they didn’t like, and for gaming groups who want to write their names into history by stepping up to the multiverse’s most famous Big Bads.
At the gaming table, B6 is not as immediately necessary as, say, B2, which is basically mandatory. And if you’re strapped for cash, I’d probably push you to B3 or B5 next—B3 for its deep exploration of monsters outside the Western canon, B5 because tucked in among all the aliens are some really nice and evocative low-CR threats that any GM can use. But when your gaming group is ready for it, B6 is going to join B4 on the top shelf of your bookcase, looming threateningly and possibly cackling to itself. You know how in Risk Legacy, when the game gets to a certain point you open new packs of cards that raise the stakes of the conflict exponentially? Yeah, B6 is that kind of book. You may not need it now…but when you do, I’m betting only Bestiary 6 will do.