There is simply no way I can do justice to Pazuzu in one
sitting. This is a being who’s been in fantasy
gaming since the original Monster Manual
II, who even managed to sneak into demon-phobic 2e, who got the full “Demonomicon
of Iggwilv” workup in Dragon Magazine,
and who hails from our own world courtesy of Assyrian and Babylonian mythology
(not to mention The Exorcist). He’s been part of Pathfinder since pretty
much Day One as Lamashtu’s foil, and he’s the most powerful demon lord (at CR
30, topping even mighty Dagon) in Bestiary
4. He doesn’t deserve a blog post;
he deserves a sourcebook.
That said, here are three quick highlights to remember when
brainstorming ideas for encounters with Pazuzu.
1) He’s a survivor. He survived the fall of the qlippoth race (or
at least I think he did—I know he survived the fall of the obyriths in 3.5) to
become a demon lord—no mean feat. He’s
survived his worst enemy becoming a friggin’ goddess. And rather than
sweat claiming one layer of the Abyss, he simply claims the skies. In all the
layers. That’s insane…and yet he’s
managed to hold on to them for eons and epochs.
So if your PCs think they can just say his name three times, wait for
him to appear, and ambush him, think again.
Speaking of which…
2) He wants to be summoned. He makes it easy. Whereas other demons
loathe being made to dance to a mortal’s tune, he appears like the Abyss’s
concierge, prompt as you please. Of course,
just saying his name three times means that he learns yours and opens you up to
the threat of possession. And his wishes turn you chaotic evil with a crushing despair chaser. This is a demon lord who collects
antipaladins as a hobby. What do you think your chances are of invoking him
3) He will seem like
the reasonable demon lord. Even more
than the various succubus queens, Pazuzu will seem like the face of evil that
you can at least work with short-term and remain unscathed. After all, he hates Lamashtu, right? Just avoid saying his name and making any dumb
wishes and you can totally form some
kind of alliance. The enemy of your
enemy and all that.
Except he probably invented
Pazuzu is one of the worst demon lords there is. You just haven’t seen the full reach of his
plans yet. If one of his servants does
you a favor at first level, you won’t see the other shoe drop until you hit
level 20 and you snag some mythic
ranks. But you will see it in the end.
Guaranteed. And you will wish you
hadn’t…except wishes are probably
what got you into trouble in the first place.
I haven’t even mentioned Pazuzu’s mythic spell-like
abilities, his aura of locusts and swarm mastery, or the poisonous snake he has
You know what? Let’s
get to the adventure seeds:
Trapped in the Abyss
and cursed to be rejected by any
Abyssal gate or portal, adventurers
must get creative to find a way out. One
option: Destroy one of the regenerating towers in Pazuzu’s realm, ride it
skyward as it reforms, and slingshot themselves into the non-space between the
Abyss and the prison moons of the Hag-Stitched.
Of course, Pazuzu might take such a demolition personally…
Pazuzu may have been
the son of a god whose corpse floats deep in the Astral Plane. Demons are not known for their filial
affection, of course; in fact it is suspected that Pazuzu is the one who slew
the entity known as Hanbi. But when a
mysterious cabal of greater dorvaes put aside their differences long enough to
begin mining the corpse (with the assistance of servants of the Old Ones), one
of their shafts pierces the god-corpse’s lung…and Pazuzu’s name whispers across
the multiverse. Now three powers want
the corpse—particularly its heart, which Pazuzu wants to eat—and none can be
allowed to claim it.
One of the souls
Pazuzu has collected is the father of the tengu race. As the progenitor of an entire species, this
soul has been protected from on high for eons and eons…but Pazuzu is nothing if
not patient. Now, after millennia of vile
torments, the soul of the tengu allfather coughs out Pazuzu’s name
once…twice…and a third time…asking for surcease from his suffering. As the demon lord’s profane wishcraft takes
hold, every tengu in existence begins to slide to chaos and evil. A party of adventurers must reverse the
cursed wish and save the allfather’s
soul, even as one of their own fights off the cold hand clutching the heart in
his feathered breast.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 4
Obviously, the definitive non-Pathfinder take on Pazuzu is
from Dragon #329, courtesy of James
Jacobs. And since Mr. Jacobs is also one
of the architects of Golarion, you can pretty much take that article as canon
where it doesn’t conflict with published Pathfinder material.