Way of the Wicked
Harbingers of ruin and embodiments of the worst ways to die, daemons epitomize painful death, the all-consuming hunger of evil, and the utter annihilation of life. While demons seek to pervert and destroy in endless unholy rampages, and devils vex and enslave in hopes of corrupting mortals, daemons seek only to consume mortal life itself. While some use brute force to despoil life or prey upon vulnerable souls, others wage campaigns of deceit to draw whole realms into ruin. With each life claimed and each atrocity meted out, daemons spread fear, mistrust, and despair, tarnishing the luster of existence and drawing the planes ever closer to their final, ultimate ruin.
Notorious for their hatred of the living, daemons are the things of dark dreams and fearful tales, as their ultimate ambitions include extinguishing every individual mortal life—and the more violent or terrible the end, the better. Their methods vary wildly, typically differentiated by daemonic breed. Many seek to infiltrate the mortal plane and sow death by their own taloned hands, while others manipulate agents (both mortal and immortal) as malevolent puppet masters, instigating calamities on massive scales from their grim realms. Such diversity of methods causes many planar scholars to misattribute the machinations of daemons to other types of fiends. These often deadly mistakes are further propagated by daemons’ frequent dealings with and manipulation of other outsiders. Yet in all cases, despair, ruin, and death, spreading like contagion, typify the touch of daemonkind, though such symptoms often prove recognizable only after the hour is far too late.
Daemons flourish upon the plane of Abaddon, a bleak expanse of cold mists, fearful shapes, and hunted souls. Upon these wastes, the souls of evil mortals flee predation by the native fiends, and terror and the powers of the evil plane eventually transform the most ruthless into daemons themselves. Amid these scarred wastelands, poison swamps, and realms of endless night rise the foul domains of the tyrants of daemonkind, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Lords of devastation, these powerful and unique daemons desire slaughter, ruin, and death on a cosmic scale, and drive hordes of their lesser kin to spread terror and sorrow across the planes. Although the Horsemen share a singular goal, their tactics and ambitions vary widely.
Along with mastery over vast realms, the Horsemen are served by unimaginably enormous armies of their lesser brethren, but are obeyed most closely by retinues of daemons enslaved to their titles. These specific strains of daemonic servitors, known among daemonkind as deacons, serve whoever holds the title of Horseman. Although these instruments of the archdaemons differ in strength and ability, their numbers provide their lords with legions capable of near-equal terrorization.
More so than among any other fiendish race, several breeds of daemons lust after souls. While other foul inhabitants of the planes seek the corruption and destruction of living essences, many daemons value possession and control over mortal animas, entrapping and hoarding souls—and in so doing disrupting the natural progression of life and perverting the quintessence of creation to serve their own terrible whims. While not all daemons possess the ability to steal a mortal being’s soul and turn it to their use, the lowliest of daemonkind, the maniacal cacodaemons, endlessly seek life essences to consume and imprison. These base daemons enthusiastically serve their more powerful kin, eager for increased opportunities to doom mortal spirits. While cacodaemons place little value upon the souls they imprison, greater daemons eagerly gather them as trophies, fuel for terrible rites, or offerings to curry the favor of their lords. Several breeds of daemons also posses their own notorious abilities to capture mortal spirits or draw upon the power of souls, turning the forces of utter annihilation to their own sinister ends.
The Four Horsemen
Four dread lords, infamous across all the planes, rule the disparate hordes of daemonkind. Risen from among the ranks of their terrible brethren to displace those fiendish tyrants before them, they are the archdaemons, the End Bringers, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In the blasphemous annals of fiendish lore, they are the prophesied architects of multiversal ruin, destined to stand triumphant over cadaverous cosmoses and infinities of silence before also giving way to absolute oblivion. Undisputed in his power among their kind, each Horseman rules a vast realm upon the bleak plains of Abaddon and a distinctive method of mortal ruin: pestilence, famine, war, or death from old age. Yet while each archdaemon commands measureless influence, daemons know nothing of loyalty and serve only those they cannot overcome. Thus, though the Horsemen stand peerless in their power and manipulations among daemonkind, they must ever defend their thrones from the machinations of ambitious underlings and the plots of other archdaemons.
Upon the poisonous expanses of Abaddon, lesser daemonic peers carve petty fiefdoms and posture as lords, but despite their world-spanning intrigues, all bow before the Horsemen—though most do so only grudgingly. Ancient myths also tell of a mysterious fifth Horseman, the Oinodaemon, though nearly all mention of such a creature has been scoured from the multiverse.