Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Astaroth and Astártē

A is for Astaroth and Astártē
Kinda looks like Nicholas Cage

I am going to begin with Astaroth because Astaroth was the beginning. At least for me and my fascination with demons.

Once upon a time there was a Goddess named Astártē.  She is more or less the same Goddess as Ishtar and related thematically to Aphrodite and Isis.
But when Christianity was sweeping the world and literally and figuratively changing all the old Gods and Goddesses into demons poor Astártē not only was demoted to demon, but changed to a male as well.  I always felt bad for Astártē because of this.

I first "met" Astaroth around the age of 13.  I was going to a fish-fry in Union, IL with my family so I brought some books to read.  In one of the those books I read about Astaroth and thought he was an interesting character.  It wasn't till later that learned about eh Astaroth/Astártē connection.
In my games I made him the son of Astártē. A Goddess I named the "Queen of Heaven".  She featured rather predominantly in my games over the years.  In my D&D and WitchCraft games "The Coven of Astártē" were a group of witches that were believed to be in league with demons.  In truth they did summon demons, but it was to figure out how to better combat them.

Here are some 3.0 stats I have been using for years.

And to celebrate my volunteering for Gorgonmilk's Petty Gods project, here is Astaroth in Petty Gods format.


NAME: Astaroth, Duke of Hell
Symbol: See next
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
Movement: 150' (240' flight on dragon)
Armor Class: 0
Hit Points (Hit Dice): 166 hp (19 HD)
Attacks: Viper (1d8 + poison), sword (1d10 + flames 1d6), breath (save vs. poison)
Damage: 1d8+poison (save or die), 1d10 + 1d6 fire damage, breath (as per stinking cloud)
Save: F20
Hoard Class: See below
XP: 10,000

"Astroth is a great and a strong duke, comming foorth in the shape of a fowle angell, sitting upon an infernall dragon, and carrieng on his right hand a viper: he answereth truelie to matters present, past and to come, and also of all secrets.  He talketh willingelie of the creator of spirits, and of their fall, and how they sinned and fell: he saith he fell not of his owne accord.  He maketh a man woonderfull learned in the liberall sciences, he ruleth fourtie legions.  Let everie exorcist take heed, that he admit him not too neere him, bicause of his stinking breath.  And therefore let the conjuror hold neere to his face a magicall ring, and that shall defend him."
- John Weyer, Pseudomonarchia Daemonum.

Astaroth is usually summoned by a magic user (he has no desire to travel to the human world on his own).  He appears to the summoner naked astride a giant black dragon (stats as a huge, ancient black dragon), though he can appear clothed as royalty if he chooses.  In his right hand he carries a long viper, in his left a flaming sword (like all devils he is left-handed).  He stands over 8 feet tall and has the strength of a Fire Giant.  His face is very attractive and he is physically fit, if  slightly overweight.
Unless the magic-user is in a protective circle Astaroth will strike him down.
His manners are extremely polite. He will converse and even gossip about various demons (save for himself).  The summoner had also better have some equally good, if trivial, knowledge to share at this point.  It is also at this point that the summoner will notice Duke Astaroth's breath.  It is simplly the foulest thing he has ever smelt.  If he reacts to the foul breath Astaroth will also consider this a breach of etiquette and contract and kill the offender.
Once the chatting is over, the summoner may ask Astaroth three questions; one about the past, one about the present and one about the future.  Astaroth will answer the questions honestly.  He will, as most Dukes, follow the letter of the agreement but not always the spirit of it.  If the Astraroth believes he is being tricked or if the questions are asked out of sequences; ie he feels a question about the past is really about the future, he will also consider this a breach of contract.  The wealth gained by the summoner will depend on the questions asked.  Astaroth brings no riches with him.
He is rumored to be the treasurer of Hell because money and riches have no allure for him, he only craves knowledge.  His interests are far and wide and he can pleasantly converse about a number of topics.  His surface demeanor though hides a deep and viscous cruelty.  On  his home layer of the Hells his dungeons are reported to filled with magic-users that have tempted to summon him and failed.  Here they are tortured for his amusement as he records all their reactions in his journals.


Charlie Warren said...

This looks like it is going to be one interesting read for the challenge!

Charlie @ The Semi-Retired Gamer

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tim .. very interesting to read - and then you found out about Astaroth aged 13 - that was a lucky pick up ..

You've obviously got a very creative mind .. enjoy your Demons through the A - Z ...

Cheers Hilary

Tasha Duncan-Drake said...

Being demoted and having a sex change, that can't be fair. I feel sorry for Astártē too, but Astaroth does sound like a kick arse demon.

I look forward to the rest of the challenge.

Mary Kirkland said...

Thanks for such an interesting post. I learned something today.

Laura Clipson said...

God turned into a Demon, that's quite a demotion. Interesting to read about, though :)

Susan Scott said...

So great Timothy! I too am fascinated by those age old gods and goddesses - they have much to teach us not least that things are not always what they first appear.looking forward to more demonology!

Unknown said...

What an interesting topic! It will be cool to read :)

GeoffN. said...

Oooh... My players have been battling the minions of an archdevil in my 3.5 campaign and at some point should really deal with the demon slumbering inside their monk. This blog may provide some excellent inspiration.

ROFL Initiative

Pun Isaac said...

Very cool. I'm always on the lookout for "new" demons.

I have a feeling that I'm glad you went with demons over vampires (though I'm sure your vamps would've rocked too).

Gwen Gardner said...

How fun that you found him/her? when you were so young. I don't play games so don't really understand all the stats. Still it was interesting and I'll be back!

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Thanks everyone!

I hope I am going to keep it all interesting for everyone, not just the gamers here.

I have a lot of Vampire posts written, so I can use those all next year. ;)

M Pax said...

Sounds like quite the match-up of wits with that one.

Al Diaz said...

I think it is the best explanation I have found of Astaroth. I knew Astarte was a goddess, though.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I wonder why all demons are left-handed? I'm always amazed as the indepth mythology in gaming.

The Armchair Squid said...

Awesome! I especially love the Ishtar/sex-change thing.

Archana said...

This is very interesting. Enjoyed your post and waiting for the next ones.

Catch My Words said...

Looks like I'm almost forty years over due in meeting him. Glad to know you.

Lusting Lola! said...

I've never been a gamer, but my husband was very into it long before we met. This was a very interesting read!

(and thanks for stopping by my blog.)

Adam Jones said...

Oh, Tim,

I'm a gamer from way back and love the occasional demon lore. I think that this is going to be a good month.

Jianne Carlo said...

Hi Tim,

I love learning about new demons! Looking forward to the rest of your posts!

Rachee said...

I won't lie; demons scare me but this was a good read. I won't be reading at night (I'm still a wuss!) BUT this gives me a good place to start and to read and learn about something I don't know much about.

Trisha said...

Well that's just not fair, being changed to a demon AND a dude! hehe