Paizo Easter Egg: Zursvaater is Asmodeus

Well, I intended Zursvaater to be Asmodeus.

Back when I was writing Gods and Magic for Paizo, they needed me to fill out the roster of giant gods, as they only had a few of the giant races covered. One of the missing race-specific deities was the god of the fire giants. And so I created the god Zursvaater, and decided to hide a big secret in his description.

Here’s his original Gods and Magic text:

Zursvaater (Prince of Steel): This secretive deity shuns contact with most other divine beings, focusing his attention on events in the mortal world. He constantly urges his followers to war on other races, taking slaves and resources so they can improve their own equipment and conduct more effective raids. He discourages fighting between fire giant clans and has been known to relocate entire settlements to prevent such conflicts. Several fire giant “kings” are half-fiends, usually born of fire giant queens (and apparently the male giants do not object to this cuckolding). Sculptures of Zursvaater depict a mighty, armored fire giant with a closed-faced helm, sometimes holding a heavy chain in one hand.

Okay, so let’s take a look at that text, with some purple notes about how there are hints that Zursvaater is actually Asmodeus.

Zursvaater (Prince of Steel) [similar to “Prince of Darkness,” Asmodeus’ title]: This secretive deity shuns contact with most other divine beings [because he doesn’t want anyone to figure out he’s actually Asmodeus], focusing his attention on events in the mortal world. He constantly urges his followers to war on other races, taking slaves and resources so they can improve their own equipment and conduct more effective raids. He discourages fighting between fire giant clans [much like how Asmodeus in Pathfinder doesn’t allow the archdevils to feud with each other] and has been known to relocate entire settlements to prevent such conflicts. Several fire giant “kings” are half-fiends [for obvious reasons], usually born of fire giant queens (and apparently the male giants do not object to this cuckolding). Sculptures of Zursvaater depict a mighty, armored fire giant with a closed-faced helm [to hide his identity], sometimes holding a heavy chain in one hand.

Now let’s look at the game stats for Zursvaater.

Alignment: LE [just like Asmodeus]

Portfolio: conquest [similar to Asmodeus’ tyranny], slavery [same as Asmodeus], weapons

Domains: Evil [yes], Fire [yes], Law [yes], Trickery [yes, and doesn’t it seem odd that a fire giant god would grant the Trickery domain?], War

So when Paizo started working on the Giantslayer adventure path, developer Adam Daigle (who handles the backmatter articles like the monsters and the god writeups) came to talk to me about writing a Zursvaater article. I told him Zursvaater has actually been Asmodeus in disguise the whole time. Adam talked to James Jacobs (keeper of all the Golarion lore stuff) about it, and James decided he didn’t want Zursvaater to secretly be Asmodeus.

So I agreed to write an article about Zursvaater. But I joked with Adam that my turnover would either be the original Asmodeus article as-is, or the Asmodeus article with the names swapped for Zursvaater. And I think up until the point Adam actually received and read my Zursvaater turnover, he might have been worrying that I would actually do it…

I didn’t, though. But I did put a lot of hints in my Zursvaater writeup about my original intent. Here are some examples. (Italic black text is Zursvaater’s writeup, red text is Asmodeus’ writeup.)

The god keeps his divine realm of Hyrrfellhame, an immense underground cavern containing three active volcanoes, hidden in Hell [“hidden, right…”].

Sculptures of Zursvaater depict him as a mighty, armored fire giant with a closed-faced helm [note: it’s a horned helm], sometimes holding a heavy chain in one hand.

When manifesting to his followers, he has a visible aura of heat and flame, and his every breath creates a cloud of volcanic ash. His skin has a red hue that more closely resembles a fiend’s skin tone than it does lava or fire…

In art Asmodeus is frequently shown as a red-skinned human with black horns, hooves, and a pale aura of flames.

The Prince of Steel rarely bothers to reward or punish followers directly;

Asmodeus has little interest in direct interaction with mortals, including members of his faith. 

Aphorism: The World Shall Be His: The faithful envision a time when the entire world will fall under the Prince of Steel’s dominion. This exclamation serves as a threat to all who would oppose him and as validation to the faithful.

Aphorism: The Kingdom Shall Be His: As Asmodeus claims to have once held power over all of creation, his faith envisions an hour when all the multiverse will come under his dominion once again. This exclamation serves as a validation among the faithful, a call to arms for infernal warriors, and a threat to all who would oppose his zealots.

So now you know!

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Paizo Easter Egg: Zursvaater is Asmodeus

  1. Thank you for this Sean! Nice Easter egg. Good thing my home brew and can override James’ ruling and stick with the author’s original intent.
    Any more godly secrets?

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