Hell Is Where The Heart Is…

Evening ladies and gentlemen. Tonight’s topic isn’t quite what I had planned, but unfortunately my original topic was kind of jolted out of my head by a near miss I had on the way home from work yesterday. Thankfully I came out of it unscathed, but it was a close one. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that having someone decide to change lanes right in front of me on a goddamn roundabout isn’t something I’d call fun, especially in wet weather.

Anyway, onto tonight’s topic. As you might have figured out from the name, we’re going to be talking about Hell. Don’t worry, I haven’t gone religious after this afternoon’s scare. It’s actually a reference to one of my favourite songs, Hell is Where the Heart Is (The Gospel of Tomas). The song is by a band called Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, and is from the album Satyriasis – Somewhere Between Equilibrium and Nihilism. The song isn’t so much sung as it is spoken, and I find it somewhat hypnotic. The full lyrics are as follows:

Confide in me and tell me
Why the worthless never die,
And tell to me my darling
Why we cast our pearls to swine,
Please come to me and show me
Why the dead refuse to bleed,
Why nothing lasts forever
And the past can’t be retrieved.

I am the alpha, I am the omega
I am the beginning and  the end,
I am the answer, I am the enigma
I am the flame which never  ends.

No love will ever save you
No kisses are too deep,
No cross  will give you answers
Or satisfy your needs.

No faith will give you  pleasure
That takes away the pain,
But hate will give you meaning
And  make you feel again.

I am the alpha, I am the omega
I am the beginning  and the end,
I am the answer, I am the enigma
I am the flame which never  ends.

(I believe in the life eternal,
As promised to us by our Lord,  Jesus Christ.)
(That is good… for believing what you do
We confer upon  you a rare gift these days
…A martyr’s death.)

Are we living just  for pleasure
Or for reasons yet unknown?
Let us realize our secrets
When we reach into my soul.

Let my dreams be remembered
When I lay  down not to sleep,
Hell is where the heart is,
It’s a place for you and  me.

I am the alpha, I am the omega
I am the beginning and the end,
I am the answer, I am the enigma
I am the flame which never ends.

That said though, we’re not here to talk about music. Rather, we’re going to be talking about Hell (and the other outer planes of existence) in the Pathfinder universe. More specifically, we’re going to be looking at the denizens of these realms, and the balance (or lack thereof) between the evil and the good aligned outsiders.

For those of you unfamiliar with how the Pathfinder cosmology is arranged, I’ll run through a quick explanation. The basic layout is a sphere, with the Material plane in the middle. Wrapped around the Material plane are the Transitive planes, which consist of the Ethereal, Astral and Shadow planes. Each of these planes of existence allows travel to various places – the Astral plane connects all planes of existence while the Ethereal and the Shadow planes overlay the Material plane.

The next layer out is the Inner Sphere, composed of the six energy/elemental planes. These are the planes of Earth, Fire, Air, Water, Positive Energy and Negative Energy. The natives of these planes are actually made of the elements or energies that make up their home – these are where the Elemental creatures come from.

The Outer Sphere is composed of the planes of existence that are based on ideas. Each of the outer planes has a specific alignment, and embodies a certain moral or ethical outlook. Almost all inhabitants follow the alignment of their home plane. The outer planes are Abbadon, the Abyss, Hell, Elysium, Heaven, Limbo, Nirvana, Purgatory and Utopia.

Now that you’ve got an idea of the layout of the Pathfinder cosmology, we can get down to the meat of it. Because each of the races of Outsiders represent a specific alignment, most of them have a direct opposition on the other side of the alignment scale. However, when you look at the Pathfinder bestiaries and track down the various races, it quickly becomes clear that the number of evil aligned outsiders (also known as Fiends) heavily outweighs the number of good aligned (known as Celestials). Admittedly, there are some pretty obvious reasons for this. The simplest explanation is that, since the general assumption is that the player characters are the “good” guys of the game, it’s far more likely for them to be fighting evil than it is for them to be fighting good or even neutral aligned creatures. Due to this, it makes sense for the developers to add more of the Evil Outsiders than the others, so that there’s more variety for the players to come up against. Even taking this into account though, there’s still a hell of an imbalance. Let’s have a look at what races exist under each alignment –

Neutral Evil: Daemons, Divs

Chaotic Evil: Demons, Qlippoths, Demodands

Lawful Evil: Devils, Rakshasa, Kytons, Asura

Any Evil: Oni

Neutral: Aeon

Chaotic Neutral: Protean

Lawful Neutral: Axiomites, Inevitables – these c0uld almost be listed together since the Axiomites created the Inevitibles

Neutral Good: Agathions

Chaotic Good: Azata

Lawful Good: Archons

Any Good: Angels

There are two other Good aligned outsiders, the Peri and the Garuda, but I don’t really count them since they are species composed of a single type of creature (as opposed to the various Devils, Archons etc.), and they are outsiders that are native to the Material plane (Oni and Rakshasa are also native outsiders, but make the cut due to the variety within the species).

So, from this you can see that there’s a major bias towards the evil outsiders. There’s a total 4 good races, 4 neutral races, and 10 evil races. Even the supplementary material supports this. In the Pathfinder Campaign Setting product line, each of the three major races of Fiends already have their own books:

  • Book of the Damned Vol 1: Princes of Darkness – Deals with the Devils and Hell
  • Book of the Damned Vol 2: Lords of Chaos – Deals with the Demons and the Abyss, also has a little bit of information on the Qlippoth
  • Book of the Damned Vol 3: Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Deals with the Daemons and Abbadon

Compared to this, the Celestials have only just had a book announced for them. The book is called Chronicle of the Righteous, and covers all of the Celestial races. I will admit that it’s nice to see the Celestials finally getting some more support, but there’s still a large gap between the two side. Funnily enough, the fact that there’s only a small number of Neutral outsider races doesn’t really bother me, probably because it’s far less common for them to be required – While Fiends make excellent enemies, and Celestials make wonderful guides and allies (or the other way around if you’re playing as an evil party), there generally doesn’t seem to be as much call for the neutral ones. I think in the 24 Pathfinder Adventure Path books I’ve got, I’ve only seen one or two instances each with Inevitables and Aeons, a total of about 6 Axiomites (all in the same book) and not a single case of a Protean showing up. Fiends on the other hand have shown up in most Adventure Paths at least once, and often far more regularly. Shattered Star, the game I’m about to start running, has a complete glut of them.

So, is there a point to my rambling on this topic? I guess the answer is not really, I just find it interesting that there has been such a bias towards the evil side of the equation. Once again, I do understand that there will logically always be more Fiends than Celestials due to the fact that they’re needed as villains, but it seems strange to me that the gap is that large. I know I’m certainly not the only one, I’ve seen a number of threads on the Paizo message boards talking about this very topic. Some people have gone to the point that they’ve started creating their own celestial races in order to help balance it out.

One of the reasons I do find this situation so odd though, is that most of the outsider races can be created through the metamorphosis of a mortal soul that has fulfilled certain requirements. So if this is the case, why are there so many more evil outsiders? Are there just more evil people in this universe? Are the rules for getting into one of the good aligned planes just a little too strict? I guess it’s something we’ll never know the answer to unless the Pathfinder devs decide to clarify it one day.

Personally I hope that the Celestials keep getting more support. When it comes to listening to their player base and giving them what they want, Paizo are certainly one of the most willing companies I’ve seen. The devs are always popping up on the message boards when people are throwing ideas around, discussing what makes them decide to create certain books and so on. So I guess if enough people keep calling for it, we’ll get more Celestials. Especially if Chronicles of the Righteous sells well. One thing that holds true in any industry that relies on selling you a product, voting with your wallet is often the most effective way of getting your point across.

I suppose one of the reasons I’d really like there to be more Celestials is that Project Helleborus, my homebrew Pathfinder campaign setting, has a lot of interaction with the outsiders, and I’d like to be able to provide as much variety within the good as the evil outsider characters that may appear. Still, one of the great things about role-playing games is that they are infinitely customisable. If I ever really feel it’s a problem, I can always create my own races, or go and find others that people have made to insert into my game. There’s always hope that Paizo will produce more material for them as well, like I said earlier, the fact that Chronicles of the Righteous has been produced is a good sign of potential things to come.

That’s it from me for now. I’m hoping to get back to working on my campaign settings soon, so hopefully I’ll have some more Cooking the Cosmos updates soon. Otherwise I’ve got some more characters to write-up, a few products to review, and as always there’s more random topics for me to write about (for the most part they’ll be less focussed on specific games than this one was). There’s also some potentially exciting events coming up in the next few weeks that may have some effects on the blog, but I can’t really say too much about that until I find out some more details.

So, until next time, keep the dice rolling.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

As this update was written over two nights, I was listening to a couple of different things while writing it.

The first part was written while listening to the album Satyriasis – Somewhere Between Equilibrium and Nihilism. This is a split album. Three of the eight songs are by Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, while another three are by Spiritual Front. The last two songs are collaborations, which each band writing one song that features the other. As I mentioned at the stat of this update, my favourite song from this album is by far Hell is Where the Heart Is (The Gospel of Tomas). You can listen to it here.

The second part of this update was written while listening to Seether, specifically their last two albums, Finding Beauty in the Negative Spaces and Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray. I’ve had a long-term love of Seether’s music going back to my trip to New Zealand when I was 15, when the niece of one of the families I stayed with gave me their albums Disclaimer and Karma and Effect.

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