They were tutors, servants, and guards for the young Prince. While Ceras mastered magic, built his empire, and worked on a thousand different projects, they nursed his son and taught him the ways of magic.
While Nereyl wove her dread energies, raised her legions, tutored her apprentices, they tended to her daughter and showed her the mysteries of creation.
But they were more than their chaperones and maids. They were friends, beloved childhood companions. Like a toddler’s favorite blanket, they shadowed their steps, never far.
No longer. The son and the daughter long ago departed. Their Nurses serve Ceras now, for he created them, and he reclaimed them.
They have the form of large men, but with the heads of beast. They fly on cloak-wings of smooth sewn thread, gliding here and there. To scare away intruders, they appear skeletal and menacing to adults, bones of ivory-white wood. To please his children, he gave them flesh, due, and feathers to match their heads. To teach them a lesson, he made them rot away as they grew to adulthood.
For whatever reason, they have an easier time entering the world than other Devils. They are sent to further Ceras’s inscrutable machinations, or they come of their own accord. Some have been trapped. They are harder to kill, and though possessing intelligence, lack ingenuity to escape cleverly designed bonds, even after eternity.
They will not harm children, and will often instinctively protect them. They extend no such mercy to adults, and make deadly assassins, warriors, and manhunters. Most of them carry large weapons, for hacking, cutting, bashing their enemies.
They do not speak, but will carry messages. They can not communicate complex notions, but nonetheless have a sense for immediate danger. They know when people want to hurt or maim. They read fears, hopes, and dreams as learned men read archaic texts. Haltingly, and with difficulty, but they see deeper and clearer than any mortal can hope to. They peer right through you and see your weakness, the worst of you, and the best of you as well. Your soul is laid bare before them.
You will know it. Their empty eyes will bore holes in you, and you will feel the ragged emptiness they leave behind. If they seek to defeat you, you will fill in with instinct, id, and the shames you hoped to forget. Otherwise, they will fill you with hopes you long abandoned, assuage your worthless worries, and banish your dark and hidden thoughts.
Despite serving the Devil of Death, they are famed as healers. Madness and despair pass out of their charges at a whim. Scars, grievous wounds, even the doors of death lose and knit shut with a wave of their hand. They rarely bestow such boons, but some seek them out nonetheless. Their cures will never fail, never falter, never complicate. The petitioners that receive these boons are marked by Ceras, soul and spirit, but that is a small price to pay. Some even consider it a benefit- better eternity, even one such as his, than uncertainty.
Many of them still carry their wards’ old trappings. One carries the daughter’s dirty ragdoll, another the son’s little wheeled wolf. Perhaps some of them once made the tokens they carry. They have been forbidden to do so, commanded in the magic that holds them together, yet some part of their being persists in this minor rebellion. Any of them will serve (or kill) in exchange for even the meanest of these artifacts.
Most agree that around 30 wander creation freely, if not often. Diabolists argue bitterly whether the exact number is 33 or 34. A small camp of 35ers have been making a resurgence. Regardless, each Devil Nurse is unique, with their own animal head, weapon, fighting style, and extraneous magical abilities. However, they will as a general rule have the following statistics and abilities:
DEVIL NURSE– HD5+15 [Big] Moves as human, flies twice as fast; AC As plate + shield Immunity/Magic; Weapon; Never checks morale
Shaded- The cloak that gives them flight also protects them, giving any attacks a 50% miss chance when they are not flying, and allowing them to halve an attack’s damage twice per round.
Danger Sense- The nurse is never surprised, and always wins initiative unless the party can figure out some way to start combat without either side choosing to do so. They also know what attacks are going to hit them, from where, and by who.
Soul Gaze- By locking their eyes on a target, they may inflict 1 negative level of experience per level, and cower in catatonic fear for the round. Sv Death to prevent the level loss. The nurse may also heal madness and mental ailments or remove all negative XP/level drain on a target at will.
Heal- As the spell. Will not cure cursed wounds or explicitly magical diseases, but will do pretty much anything else.
Sitter- Will not be compelled to hurt a child, for any reason. They must Sv Charms or attempt to save children in danger. They will often do this willingly anyway.
Indestructible- The Nurse can not be permanently destroyed by any means in mortal ken. They may not even be reduced below 1HP by most means, and will undo all their damage within the week (unless trapped). If their wooden bones are incinerated in sunfire, they will reform in Ceras’s domains after a few months.
Savant- The nurses take naturally to most manual tasks, and can understand most languages after a few days of hearing it. They can theoretically teach others, but recall they can not speak, nor will they write. Learning requires a patient student, and a patient teacher.
Examples of specific nurses:
SCALYHEAD– Zhua 2d6+1
Pull- The creature can use its zhua to pull people towards them, rip objects out of their enemies hands, and so on. Treat the creatures strength modifier as +3.
Fire Breathe- The dragon’s head can breathe fire in a 30′ long cone, 5d6 damage, Sv Breath Halves
The dragon-headed one. Patient, watching, implacable. Carries d4 beads of blindness, which create darkness in a 30′ when smashed against the floor, but deals 1d6 cold damage per hour (which it is immune to).
HOPPER– Moves faster on land than a human; Ultra Greatsword 3d6;
Crush- By jumping straight up 30′ and landing, Hopper deals weapon damage to all within 10′, Save vs Dodge Halves
Charge- Hopper can charge 120′ by leaping forward, and deals double damage in a line on a successful hit. Save vs Dodge negates.
Hare-headed. Tics and twitches in slow motion. Brash, brutal. Prefers to hop and glide than to fly. Rarely gazes at the same target twice in a row.
MAUNCH– Flaming Sword 1d8+1d6 x2
Long Neck- Maunch can swing around his huge neck, knocking everyone in melee down, Save vs Dodge Negates. Free action.
Long Arm- Maunch’s left arm is 30′ long, and usually folded up in its body. The arm can sweep around in an arc and knock everyone in range prone while dealing 1d4+1 damage, Save vs Dodge Negates. It can also be used to grab objects or people. Treat it as having a strength mod of 3.
Giraffe-headed. Likes to play dead and watch enemies from afar, and strike when its enemies least expect.
How to Use This
As Treasure. Turns out the dread baron of skull island’s dear departed uncle kept one of these in a solid silver birdcage the size of a shed. Who knew? You may extract a boon from it before setting it free (which I have no doubt you’ll do, you naughty adventurer). If adevnturers manage to get the cloak, it will give 20% miss chance to anyone who cuts out a piece for themselves, and allow them to glide 100′ without taking any damage.
As Delayed Treasure. Turns out that grungy tile puzzle with half the pieces missing was the calling card and currency of some of the most powerful beings to walk creation. Who knew? See above with the extraction of boons. Keep in mind that most of these treasures are totally mundane in every other way, in addition to being thousands of years old.
As an Obstacle. Turns out the gold dragon wyrmling guarding its deceased parent’s hoard has been sucking at the metaphorical teat of a skeleton boar. Who knew? In any case, you better figure out a way to get the treasure out without pissing either of them off, right? Right?
As a Goal. Turns out this menagerie warden is into really, really exotic fare. Capture one and bring it back. Alternatively, put them at the bottom of a dungeon as a boss battle. Normal combat won’t work against them.
As Fluff. Turns out that incredibly powerful creatures may not be appropriate encounters or rewards for low level or low magic campaigns. Who knew? This is fine, and there are other ways to use them without them ever seeing play. As hinted above, diabolists love to argue on the nature, neurology, and number of devils. Maybe you need two cults in you next adventure- this gives them an esoteric reason for their dispute. Maybe you need to show that the Devils in your setting mean business. Send this guy in to wreck shit, pull a few souls out of people’s bodies, and fly off into the night.