A cerberi most closely resembles a terrible, fiendish hound. Its body has a similar structure to an enormous canine's, standing four feet tall at the shoulder and weighing more than 200 pounds. However, its muscles are exposed as if its skin were peeled off, and it has three heads that each resemble a wolf skull mostly covered with muscle. Its eyes are the clearest indication of a cerberi's fiendish heritage as, instead of eyeballs, its eye sockets are filled with ever-burning hellfire.3
Habitat and ecology
Cerberi thrive in the burning depths of Hell. Renowned as savage, violent guardians, cerberi are most common in Hell's first three layers, where they serve as bestial trackers for the devilish armies of Avernus, intelligent guard dogs for the decadent estates of the city of Dis, and silent guardians of the benighted vaults of Erebus.
When not serving fiendish masters, cerberi can be found in large packs that roam the wildernesses of Hell (and occasionally elsewhere) tormenting and destroying damned souls. Cerberi can also often be found beyond Hell, as they are valued for their abilities as trackers and jailers and are sold in the flesh markets of Dis to evil creature from across the planes. Their favored buyers are normally night hags and daemons.4
Cerberi are supposedly descended from one ancient, mythical sire, an infernal beast that still guards some forgotten corner of Hell. They are distant cousins of the more common Hell hound, but they loathe their lesser kin, tearing them to pieces if given a chance.3 Cerberi embody the covetous, greedy nature of Hell, and as such they trap any creature they bite on their current plane. Most often their bite serves to keep a soul trapped in the depths of Hell.
While the cerberi might superficially resemble twisted canines, their ecology far more resembles fiends than beasts. They do not need to eat, though they greatly enjoy the sensation of biting and tearing creatures to pieces. They are far smarter than the beasts they resemble, though not as smart as humans, and their intelligence is entirely focused on causing pain and suffering. Because of their bestial form, many underestimate cerberi—often the last mistake such people ever make, and many a villain who thought of his cerberi as a guard dog has found himself torn to ribbons.4
The Malebolgian cerberi is a distinct sub-breed of cerberi that is larger, fiercer, and far more dangerous. The Malebolgian cerberi get their name from Malebolge, the layer of Hell on which they are bred that is devoted to the training of fiendish armies for Hell's ongoing wars. Cerberi are forced to breed with hated Hell hounds known as Nessian warhounds in nightmarish breeding pens, and the offspring of these unholy unions have the appearance of cerberi with the huge size of their Nessian parent. They also gain some of the hell hound's fiery breath, and their bite burns with infernal flame. Malebolgian cerberi stand over six feet high at the shoulder and weigh over 400 pounds.35
- The singular and plural of cerberi are the same.
- Jesse Benner et al. (2011). Bestiary 3 (First Edition), p. 51. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-378-1
- F. Wesley Schneider and Hank Woon. (2009). Bestiary. The Infernal Syndrome, p. 84. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-198-5
- F. Wesley Schneider and Hank Woon. (2009). Bestiary. The Infernal Syndrome, p. 85. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-198-5
- Larry Wilhelm. (2016). "Scourge of the Godclaw". Scourge of the Godclaw, p. 9. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-842-7