Titles: Prince of Darkness
Alignment: Lawful evil
Portfolio: Tyranny, Slavery, Pride, Contracts
Worshipers: Slavers, bureaucrats, tyrants
Cleric Alignments: LN, LE, NE
Domains: Evil, Fire, Law, Magic, Trickery
Favored Weapon: Mace
The archdevils are also called the Lords of Hell, the Dukes (or Archdukes) of Hell, and the Lords of the Nine.
Together, they rule all the layers of the Nine Hells. Each archdevil has his or her own dark palace, legions of devils and monsters, and schemes to gain more power. The various archdevils continually make and break alliances with each other and other planar powers in their quest for greater might and control.
The greatest of all archdevils is Asmodeus, who rules over all of them from the bottom of the Pit itself. He has controlled the Hells for as long as histories have been recorded.
Asmodeus the Archfiend, the overlord of all the dukes of hell, commands all devilkind and reigns as the undisputed master of the Nine Hells. Even the deities that call that plane home pay Asmodeus a great deal of respect.
Asmodeus is certainly older than any devil in hell, although some say that he was not the plane’s first ruler. On the other hand, some reports claim that he is indeed the original, primal force of evil in the multiverse.
The actions of Asmodeus are often mysterious to outside observers, but that is due to the short-sighted and dim-witted view most beings have. Asmodeus’s manipulations are labyrinthine and insidious. They work on a grand scale, although when it suits his needs he is willing to focus his attention even on the status of a lowly mortal soul. His will alone dictates who rules the various layers of hell. Once a year, he gathers the archdevils together in his home in Nessus, a fortress called Malsheem. None has ever refused this call.
Asmodeus stands just over 13 feet tall, with lustrous dark skin and dark hair. He is handsome in the same way that a thunderstorm is beautiful. His red eyes shine with the power of hell, and his head is crowned with a pair of small, dark red horns. He dresses in finery of red and black; a single garment of his might cost what an entire nation spends in a year. Of course, he is never without his Ruby Rod, an ornate piece of unparalleled jeweled finery and vast magical power.
Most followers of Asmodeus are power-hungry priests, diabolists, greedy slavers, ruthless lawyers, wicked enchanters, or decadent nobles in search of secret pleasures. In lands such as Cheliax where his worship is open, Asmodeus’s followers are much like people in other lands, except they believe in harsh punishments for lawbreakers, are accustomed to the appearance of imps in the company of spellcasters, and are openly tolerant of slavery, considering these things a mild price for keeping order. Many common people active in the church remember the chaos and suffering of civil war, or fear the violence and barbarism in places like Galt, and gratefully support the secure—if tyrannical—stability of Asmodeus’s faith. In these lands, city guards, government officials, artisans, and even farmers and laborers willingly pay lip service to Hell if the alternative is being robbed by bandits or strung up by an angry mob.
Most still pray to other gods for health and prosperity, which Asmodeus and the church allow as long as the Prince is acknowledged as superior and these other faiths do not challenge his position. True followers of Asmodeus believe in law, order, and knowing their place in the grand scheme; in many cases, they aspire to a higher position and work to prove they are worthy of it. They study their betters to learn necessary skills, watch their equals and jockey for position, and keep an eye on their inferiors for signs of exploitable talent or dangerous ambition. They keep their friends close and enemies crushingly closer, usually acting through the proper channels rather than resorting to base tactics like assassination. Most Asmodeans find it far more effective to eliminate a rival by unearthing evidence (showing your skill in the process) than by a wasteful murder.
Services to Asmodeus require chanting long phrases without error, tolling bells, participating in or receiving public punishments, and other acts of domination or submission reinforcing one’s position within the church. Blood sacrifice is also not unknown at Asmodean gatherings, typically the killing of a bull, goat, rooster, or another animal held as being particularly regal, virile, or benevolent. Humanoid sacrifices are not unheard of, but such are typically only required of groups that have fallen out of favor with the Prince of Darkness, are performing a magical rite, or have a member attempting to leave their fold. Minor devils, usually imps or bearded devils, are occasionally conjured to participate in the events, but sometimes more powerful entities might appear to show the Prince of Darkness’s favor (or that of one of his more powerful minions). Services in temples converted from another faith often have rituals designed to blaspheme the deity once honored there, particularly on holidays celebrated by the previous tenants.
A Priest’s Role
Priests of Asmodeus are careful in their exercise and pursuit of power, understanding that a foolish overextension might leave them vulnerable to those watching for any weakness. Within Cheliax, Asmodeus’s priests are a force of order, keeping mortals and weakminded devils in line or torturing prisoners to extract information. Outside Cheliax, priests work with slavers, bureaucratic governments, despots, and nobles in positions of power (or those hoping to be in power). They whisper dark promises in the ears of the desperate, arrange meetings between people of inf luence, and act as judges in lawless lands. Many travel to bind or destroy rogue fiends (especially demons), seeking to convince folk that their faith supports order and opposes wanton destruction.
Priests honor devils as envoys of their lord, greater or lesser players in the immense infernal bureaucracy that all right-minded individuals should join. Of course, they see lemures and other minor devils as expendable, and non-lawful fiends as even more so. Unlike typical conjurers who control devils with magical force, many Asmodean magic-users parley carefully with devils, rewarding those in the Prince’s favor and abusing those out of it. An Asmodean conjurer would no more send a called osyluth on a suicide mission than a priestess of Shelyn would send a called hound archon to a similar fate. All priests have at least a passing knowledge of Hell’s organization and workings, and as such they take at least one rank in Knowledge (planes). Most keep their skills in negotiation sharp by taking ranks in Diplomacy. Some sell their services to broker mercantile transactions, treaties, bargains between devils and mortals, and so on.
A typical day for a priest begins with a prostrate prayer, a meal, and then either reporting to a superior for orders or following extant orders if no superior is present. Those with underlings issue orders after receiving their own. Evening prayers usually include a blood sacrifice, typically an animal or slave’s blood. Significant prayer rituals often require greater sacrif ice, possibly including a human or other intelligent creature—most temples use slaves, captured enemies, or traitors for this purpose. Divine spellcasters usually prepare their spells after evening prayer, typically during the deepest hours of night.
Like Hell itself, Asmodeus’s church is carefully ordered, with a precise hierarchy of reports and detailed means of determining who is superior or inferior within the church—two priests of distant temples can easily establish their relative ranks with only a few sentences. Of course, some priests are effectively independent, especially in lands where their religion is forbidden, and use their magic to pursue their own agendas and interpretation of Asmodeus’s will. Members of the organized church tend to look down upon such unaffiliated priests (much as academy-trained mages look down upon hedge wizards) and strongly encourage them to join a known temple.
Asmodean inquisitors command intense respect and fear. These priests seek out disease and corruption in the tree of the unholy in order to maintain orthodox beliefs. In lands where Asmodeus worship is public, the inquisitors are easy to spot in their iron masks and black robes, and are always alert to news of heresy or blatant violation of church doctrine. They maintain a network of contacts and informants, rewarding news with coin, prestige, and the authority to arrest and interrogate in addition to their duties within the church hierarchy.
Worshippers and Clergy
Asmodeus' priests usually dress in black decorated with red and often wear horned masks or helmets, and his clergy includes clerics, blackguards, thaumaturgists, and wizards. Followers of the Prince of Darkness often include nobles and bureaucrats, especially those participating in the slave trade and in those nations where his worship is openly accepted. In countries not under Cheliax's yoke, priests are expected to abide by local laws and take sacrifices only from willing victims.
Clerics of Asmodeus may prepare lesser geas and a variant of geas, and the Prince of Darkness grants access to infernal healing and greater infernal healing.
Temples and Shrines
Public temples dedicated to Asmodeus could be found all over Talingarde, often existing alongside and within the nation's government buildings. The Knights of the Alerion took the lead in destroying the temples during the reign of King Markadian IV. High priests were burned at the stake and the sect was driven underground. For twelve years, the Zealot sat upon the throne and during that time he did his best to annihilate the cult of Asmodeus. He very nearly succeeded.
NEW SPELL: Infernal Healing (Conjuration (healing) [evil]; Level cleric 1, sorcerer/wizard 1 )
Casting Time 1 round
Components V, S, M (1 drop of devil blood or 1 dose of unholy water)
Target creature touched
Duration 1 minute
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless);
Spell Resistance yes (harmless)
You anoint a wounded creature with devil’s blood or unholy water, giving it fast healing 1. This ability cannot repair damage caused by silver weapons, good-aligned weapons, or spells or effects with the good descriptor. The target detects as an evil creature for the duration of the spell and can sense the evil of the magic, though this has no long-term effect on the target’s alignment.
Infernal Healing, Greater
School conjuration (healing) [evil]; Level cleric 4, sorcerer/wizard 4
As infernal healing, except the target gains fast healing 4 and the target detects as an evil cleric.