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Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Guide to Nocticula, Demon Lord of Assassins, Darkness and Lust

Today I'm switching it up a little bit. I'm doing a guide to a Pathfinder entity - sort of. I'm going to try to give you an outline to work from if you want to use her in your campaign at some point in the future.

I am not too familiar with Pathfinder. If I missed something, please let me know and I'll add it in.

Warning: Pathfinder is a little more "adult." There's a lot of explicit and disturbing stuff in this one, so click away if you think it might bother you.

I'm using material from
The Essential Information

  • Nocticula is meant to be the replacement for Malcanthet in the Pathfinder multiverse.
  • She kills other demon lords.
  • In her abyssal realm, there is an island for each major entity she has assassinated. There are currently 30 islands.
  • Her brother is Socothbenoth, demon lord of perversion.
  • She is also a demigod and she has a plan to become a full-fledged god.
  • Shadows and shadow demons serve her. She killed their master.
  • She has a number of consorts, including Juiblex.
  • Nocticula has been mentioned in numerous D&D products, including the AD&D Monster Manual 2.
The Real Life Origin of Nocticula

AD&D Monster Manual II
There were a lot of demon lords that were named in D&D products but never fully developed. Nocticula began as a name on a list in the AD&D Monster Manual II, as far as I can tell. Her name apparently is taken from some real life source.

The Origin of Paizo: If you are newer to D&D, you might not know this. Paizo is the company that makes Pathfinder. Originally, Paizo were in charge of making Dungeon and Dragon Magazine during the 3rd edition era. I regard the Paizo issues as the best in the history of either publication. They used the lore well, added new creations and packed each issue with stuff that was actually useful.

Eventually, the companies parted ways. Paizo took advantage of the 3rd edition OGL, an arrangement that allowed other companies to make D&D products if they paid a licensing fee. A lot of D&D concepts are usable in the OGL, including many of the demon lords.

Paizo decided to start a new monthly product called Pathfinder and it has been a massive success that continues to this day.

Pathfinder fleshed out some of the demon lords, Nocticula being one of the big ones.

D&D 3rd edition Fiendish Codex

There's an old thread on the paizo forums where someone tries to merge the Pathfinder and D&D versions of the abyss. James Jacobs chimed in. James is the guy who wrote the classic 3e Demonomicon of Iggwilv articles and he does a lot of stuff for Pathfinder.

He shed some light on all of the real life thinking that went into Nocticula. Here's some quotes that I thought were interesting:

Nocticula and Malcanthet: "The only thing I'd adjust is to say that Nocticula is in fact the same as Malcanthet... or at the very least, they're very close allies or very bitter enemies."

"Malcanthet was created by Rob Kuntz in Dungeon #112's "Maure Castle," and I did the majority of the work developing her character in Savage Tide, the Demonomicon, FC1, and Rob developed her more in the Maure Castle sequels in Dungeon. All of that was under WotC, alas, so she's closed content. Since she's not based on a real-world myth, she's not public domain either (as is the case of Demogorgon, Orcus, Pazuzu, and many other demon lords).

Which is the primary reason we turned Nocticula into the queen of the succubi in Golarion, rather than continue using Malcanthet."

He elaborated a lot more in this ENWorld thread.

Nocticula and the Real World: "...meaning, there's not a lot of overlap, but there is some details on demon lords from that old MM2 table whose names come from real-world mythology... particularly Abraxas, Nocticula, and Socothbenoth, but also a few other mythological demons that never appeared on the MM2 list like Lamashtu and Haagenti.

Nocticula's really the only one that does pose a few difficulties between various editions of the game, but that IS because there are certain "gaps" that we had to fill in Pathfinder that we couldn't use from traditional D&D due to the fact that a few key demon lord niches (particularly those filled by Graz'zt and Malcanthet... despite the fact Malcanthet was pretty much completely developed in the pages of Dungeon Magazine and the Fiendish Codex by me, based on some original ideas from Rob Kuntz).

I went with Nocticula as being Paizo's succubus queen because I wanted to use a name from mythology, first and foremost. She has no real ties to canon D&D, so it's only Erik's work from the Green Ronin book that gets into conflict there. Frankly, I kinda think that Erik's version of Nocticula from Armies of the Abyss is kinda too friendly and nice to be a demon lord, so for Nocticula's incarnation into Golarion, I made her a lot meaner.

Nocticula and Shadow Demons: "We also couldn't use Rhyxali at all either, so when it came to figuring out who ruled the shadow demons in Pathfinder's setting, I gave that to Nocticula as well (she stole that from a previous demon lord, though)."

Succubus War: "Personally, I think that Nocticula and Malcanthet are different enough that they COULD exist side-by-side in the same setting. Heck, in canon D&D, we've already got Lynkhab, Malcanthet, Shami-Aumorae, and a couple other powerful succubus types vying for total control, so what's one more to the mix?"

I just want to point out that in 5e, it has been revealed that Shami-Amourae is done for. She's now just a vestige in the Amber Temple in Curse of Strahd . I think she was last seen in the Wells of Darkness in the Savage Tide adventure path. I don't know how she died.

Malcanthet Talks, Nocticula Walks: "In any case, while Nocticula is very much our "replacement Malcanthet," I did try to give her a different spin. Whereas Malcanthet's more about political manipulations and the like, Nocticula's more about solving those types of problems with assassinations. Nocticula's more of a combat focused succubus than Malcanthet, in other words. If the two of them teamed up to go adventuring, they'd probably compliment each other's strengths and weaknesses quite well."

Using Them All Together: "The fact that I wrote a lot of the 3rd edition demon content AND that I wrote all of the Pathfinder demon content also means there's similarities. You can see similar similarities in Dagon, Lamashtu, Mazmezz/Lolth, Kabriri/Yeenoghu, Socothbenoth/Graz'zt, and a few others.

Had Wizards of the Coast made all of the demons in the Abyss open content, I would have been more than happy for those demons to be the same ones in Golarion/Pathfinder. That's not the case, so I do the next best thing—I expand and develop along similar, parallel routes so that even though I can't talk about Malcanthet and Graz'zt and Lynkhab and all the rest in print, in anyone's home Pathfinder game (including mine, if I so choose), including closed-content material from D&D is a relatively simple task."

Note About Age: " a general rule... the more humanoid a demon lord looks, the younger he/she is."

The D&D Nocticula

 4e Demonomicon - she's gone
They mentioned Nocticula in 3rd edition, but from what I can tell she is conspicuously absent in 4e and on. I think it would be really cool if both companies left spaces like this so DMs like me can merge them without any issues.

I can find almost nothing on the D&D Nocticula. I read that she's in Eldritch Wizardry from the white box days, but I don't own that. I read that she has some details in the Fiendish Codex, but all I could find was her name on a list.

She is Nocticula "The Undeniable," Demon Lord of Night. She rules Layer 72 of the Abyss: Darklight.

The Pathfinder Nocticula

She is Nocticula, "Our Lady in Shadow," Demon Lord of Assassins, Darkness and Lust. Her eyes have no pupils and "..her feet end in stony hooves that weep molten iron." Her wings are covered in runes and she has three tails ending in stingers.

She is an assassin, as in.. she kills other demon lords. Her victims include:
  • Vyriavaxus, Demon Lord of Shadows
  • Nahyndri: Gems, prisons and slavery
  • Tharvool: Ashes, magical energy, whispers.
  • Deluria: Frostbite, hunger, winter
  • Vaetuu: Deathtraps, gears, possessed machinery
Nocticula is the first succubus and is actually a demigod in addition to being a demon lord. Her brother is Socothbenoth, demon lord of perversions, who she has a relationship with. She wants to take the next step to become a god. James Jacobs has said that there will be more material about that in the future.

Her Plan: Some think she is seeking redemption for her demonic nature. Others think it is a ruse so that a god will take her under their wing. Then she can literally stab that god in the back.

Shadowkiss: Nocticula has a magic crossbow that creates its own ammunition and can hit intangible creatures. The bolts are poison  - they can paralyze and even permanently blind targets.

Followers: Nocticula has cults spread out in a number of locations. Her worshipers include assassins, drow, shadow-using creatures, succubi, prostitutes and.. rapists. Welp. Her followers ingest psychedelic plants and engage in sex acts that involve a pint of blood. Egad.

Her Minions: Bats, carnivorous plants, seraptis demons (I'll talk about them below), shadow demons, and shadows.

Boons: Nocticula grants 3 different types of boons:
  1. Charm person, darkness or suggestion a few times per day.
  2. Cast blindness 3 times per day
  3. Once per day you can dominate a monster.
She Lives Life to the Fullest: "Whispers persist that somewhere in demon lord Juiblex maintains a dwelling somewhere in the deepest parts of the city, as do even softer-spoken rumors that Nocticula sometimes visits the odious lord of slime for pleasures better left not imagined."

She is Powerful: In The Midnight Isles adventure, the demon lord Baphomet actually runs away when she shows up.

The Midnight Isles

In Pathfinder, her abyssal realm is called the Midnight Isles. It does look suspiciously like it was lit by a blacklight.

The realm consists of dozens of islands on an immense sea of still black water. There is a disturbingly large moon in the sky and the days are 16 hours long - 8 hours of moonlight, 8 hours of darkness. Shadow spells are enhanced here.

The Islands: Each of the Midnight Isles represents an entity that she assassinated. The islands are actually made up of or linked to the remaining essence of each of those slain entities. Each of the islands is ruled by a unique succubus or incubus with special abilities.

The main island is Alinythia, Nocticula's personal realm of pleasure and decadence. On it are a number of settlements, including the massive city of Alushinyria.

Alushinyria: A city where demons and mortals live. Ruled by Shamira, a succubus and nascent demon lord. There is an arena called Battlebliss.
    • Main Export: Slaves
    • The House of Silken Shadows: The palace of Nocticula
    • The sewers connect to the "Abyssal Undersump." I guess that's the sewer of the Abyss. What a funny idea. 

    Shamira: Shamira, ruler of Alushinyria, is a succubus with wings of fire and might have once been affiliated with Sarenrae, a goddess of good. In fact, she might be Saarnrae's daughter.

    Other Islands: Wrath of the Righteous chapter 4 lists all three islands, but only gives details on a couple more:
    • Vazglar: Mostly abandoned, forged from the remains of a demon lord of jealousy. There are spires of black rock and hordes of flying creatures.
    • Colyphyr: A jungle where everything is poisonous. There are lots of vrocks in the sky having spasms and discharging lightning. Colyphyr was a demon lord who had been impaled by a runestone that had been floating in the astral plane.
    Seraptis Demon

    These depressing-but-cool monsters serve Nocticula and a few other demon lords. They are extremely powerful. In Pathfinder terms, they are CR 15.

    Seraptis demons are 7 feet tall and they have four arms that have cuts on them that open like mouths, displaying rows of sharp teeth.

    Suicide Demons?! In life, they were people who committed suicide and left behind a lot of ruin. An example given: "Suicide by detonating a necklace of fireballs in the middle of a wedding.."

    They are bodyguards and champions. Some rule subdomains in Abyssal Realms. Any blood in their body is from other people. Here are their powers:
    • Dominate
    • Gaze of Despair: All within 30 feet make a save or are filled with overwhelming despair. I guess in 5e terms they are frightened (?) for d6 rounds. The despair can get so bad that the creature might attempt suicide.
    • Ravenous Embrace: She grabs you and the mouths on he arms tear into the victim, draining their blood and strength. From that point on, as long as the victim is within 30 feet, their blood flows out of their body writhes through the air into the mouths. The blood heals her!
    I love the idea of Nocticula running around, slitting the throats of demon lords. You can do tons of cool stuff with her and her islands.


    Nocticula in the Pathfinder wiki
    Seraptis Demon Stats for Pathfinder
    Midnight Isles wiki


    Jason R said...

    There are some epic session summaries for a campaign called Reavers on the Seas of Fate; part of the storyline that developed involves a couple of the crewmembers and Nocticula. It's certainly adult content, but it is a fascinating interpretation of this demon lord's business with mortals. It's five real years of game summaries, but they are written in a way that's riveting and a pleasure to read. The multiple threads of plotlines and reoccurring NPC's reminds me of your Planescape campaign.

    Timothy S. Brannan said...

    This is very cool. I remember reading that "Nocticula" entry in the MMII when is was new and wanting to find out more about her. I know I was not the only one.

    I have some bits lying around about her too, maybe this is a good time to post them.

    Sean said...

    Jason Raabis: Cool, I'll check it out. There's not a lot of Nocticula info out there so any new tidbit is nice to have!

    Timothy Brannan: Do it! Send me a link and I'll add it to the guide. The name "Nocticula" is so great, it's definitely worthy of a major villain.

    Andre Michael Pietroschek said...

    I could envision her as a kind of patch for 'Rhyxali', when it comes to D&D and the Book of Vile Darkness (not the movie with the same title).

    Noteworthy that demons and devils are much less likely to get wrecked by sexually contracted diseases? ;-)

    Thanks for sharing.

    Yonael The IoKnight said...

    In his ask thread, James Jacobs recently said this: "Once a demon lord gains enough power to step up to the next tier of power, she or he becomes a deity rather than a demigod. So far that's only happened once, with Lamashtu, but it will very likely happen a second time soon with Nocticula ascending to the role of a chaotic neutral goddess of midnight, artists, and outcasts."