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Hextor and the Lords of Hell

 
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:48 pm    Post subject: Hextor and the Lords of Hell Reply with quote

"Always inferior to his half-brother, the Lords of Evil granted Hextor six arms instead of a mere pair, so as to be able to best Heironeous and all other opponents."—A Guide to the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Setting, page 69.

Who the "Lords of Evil" are is open to interpretation; in Mortellan's comic they're Nerull and Incabulos. But Hextor's title "the Herald of Hell" suggests to me that it was none other than the Lords of the Nine, the archdevils, whom Hextor approached as a source of power. Faustian bargains are their specialty, after all.

But there's very little canon on Hextor's current relationship with the rulers of the Nine Hells. His title suggests he serves them in some capacity as their herald. What, precisely, does a herald of Hell do? As god of war, it seems appropriate that he might arrange tournaments for the hosts of devilkind and help adjudicate the outcome of intra-diabolic battles. The meaning of herald as "messenger" seems less appropriate; they have any number of lesser servants for that. They don't really need a god to deliver messages except, perhaps, to very exclusive venues only gods can access, and Hextor himself is probably not welcome in all of those. The meaning of herald as harbinger or sign of things to come is interesting, suggesting Hextor might play a part in some prophecy of the end times. As master of heraldry, Hextor might even help catalogue the various diabolic coats of arms.

The archdevils and diabolic nobles, of course, have their own rivalries and feuds. As herald, Hextor probably needs to be seen as a neutral party who can fairly adjudicate the victor in the Nine Hells' carefully prescribed conflicts. But that doesn't mean he isn't open to bribes and other forms of persuasion that might make him temporarily favor one party or another.

Some sources suggest it's pacts with gods of evil that give archdevils the power to grant divine spells to their followers.

But if Hextor has such power to act as kingmaker among the Hosts of Hell, what price did he pay for his status and his arms? Because the thing about Faustian bargains: they're never fair.
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seems solid enough. Hextor is based in Acheron (suits your neutrality angle, and who wouldn't want to branch out?), and he's evil'n up the place more than others. His neighbor Wee Jas probably even gets on with him well enough (His followers put stuff in the ground; Hers keep it there).

And the folks of the Great Kingdom, who support Hextor rather a lot, sure do seem to be rather tight with fiends of the hellish persuasion. There could be more than just common cause there.

However, "Herald of Hell" could also just be an honorific in the verb sense of the word, meaning Hextor's appearance, or mere involvement in something, is a sign that "all hell is about to break loose," which is fitting as well. Alignment-wise they might work together towards achieving certain common ends. Their clergy seem allied in the Great Kingdom lands at least, or perhaps it is just that they realize it is more beneficial/fun to pursue the less like-minded than to be at each others' throats (because not killing each other doesn't necessarily mean they are working together).

I know material is sparse, but is there any source with Hextor having a more direct link to the Hells or its rulers?
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The wiki for Hextor references his "understanding of sorts with the Lords of the Nine and the orc and goblin pantheons" which comes directly from Bastion of Faith p87 and was probably written by Erik Mona because Cordell never did any GH research.

Considering the Lords of the Nine are only a passing mention in the middle of a long paragraph, after Hextor's allies and next to random neutral goblinoids, there doesn't seem to be a special relationship. And Hextor doesn't reside on the Nine Hells.

In Dragon 356, The Lords of Evil and Lords of the Nine are clearly distinguished. SKR says Hextor "has alliances with a few archdevils, greater fiends, and at least one of the Lords of the Nine, as he appreciates their well-disciplined armies" (44). Maybe this Lord or two Hextor allied with gave him the affectionate honorific "Herald of Hell." Hextor would not be a neutral or friendly herald with everyone in Hell, as his faith was subtly usurped, stymied, and limited by "Baalzy" and the Fiend-Seeing Throne in the final years of the Great Kingdom.

Meanwhile, SRK leaves the Lords of Evil intentionally unnamed and mysterious, "The Lords of Evil are unnamed and rarely mentioned[...] but Hextor is obedient (although not subservient) to them" (46). Obedience is quite different than admiring an ally's armies! The LoE are described as counterparts to the good forces that sponsored Heironeous. They also gave Hextor his Trumpet of Acheron, so their purview seems to be wider than the Nine Hells.

The Lords of Evil must be something else. Hextor's extra arms came AFTER his Oeridian background and rivalry with Heironeous was already well established.

Maybe the Lords of Evil are Kuntz's "Elders" that predate the faiths of the Flanaess?
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vestcoat wrote:
And Hextor doesn't reside on the Nine Hells.


This is because Gygax made it a rule that gods couldn't reside in the Nine Hells. See "Greyhawk's World" in Dragon #64, where he moved Maglubiyet to Gehenna and Kurtulmak and Gruumsh to Acheron to avoid having them trample on the archdevils' toes. This didn't exactly stick (both Maglubiyet and Gruumsh were said to dwell in Acheron in the Manual Of the Planes, while Kurtulmak remained in the Hells) but it was clearly Gygax's intention. It's also why there are no Greyhawk gods in the Abyss apart from demon lords like Lolth.

A Guide to the World of Greyhawk gave Hextor the power to travel to both the Nine Hells and Nirvana, but he's not called the Herald of Nirvana.

In Complete Divine, we're told that Hextor uses a pit fiend as his herald and that Planar Ally spells cast by his clerics summon bearded devils, barbed devils, and horned devils.

In The Book of Vile Darkness, Zbavra the Witch-Queen was a cleric of Hextor who "came to the Nine Hells to serve Hextor directly" before throwing in with Mammon. I take it she was there as an ambassador representing Hextor's interests before defecting. If Mammon is an ally of Hextor's rather than a rival, this isn't necessarily a big problem as long as Mammon offers Hextor something in exchange, and she might conceivably continue to serve both.

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Hextor would not be a neutral or friendly herald with everyone in Hell, as his faith was subtly usurped, stymied, and limited by "Baalzy" and the Fiend-Seeing Throne in the final years of the Great Kingdom.


I don't agree that Baalzephon's faith limited Hextor's. It's not a monotheistic society and their portfolios don't overlap. Rather, Baalzy's faith replaced that of Zilchus (as god of prosperity and wealth) and it was the patriarch of Pholtus who was usurped. I doubt Hextor cried many tears over either of them.

In Ivid the Undying, the animuses were made in collaboration between priests of Hextor and a pit fiend in the service of Baalzephon, which seems an unlikely turn of events if Hextor and Baalzephon were rivals.

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Obedience is quite different than admiring an ally's armies!


I don't think these two things conflict. Further, I'd argue that he might have a different relationship with some of the lesser, younger archdevils, who might be more like allies and colleagues, than he does with those directly responsible for his transformation.

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The LoE are described as counterparts to the good forces that sponsored Heironeous.


Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if Heironeous had some parallel connection with the archons of the Seven Heavens. Though Bahamut and Tiamat as mentors of the two brothers makes sense as well.

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They also gave Hextor his Trumpet of Acheron, so their purview seems to be wider than the Nine Hells.


I actually wondered if there was a connection between Hextor's horn and Geryon's. I wouldn't make too much of the name of the artifact; the fact that Hextor calls it that doesn't mean it was crafted there.

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The Lords of Evil must be something else. Hextor's extra arms came AFTER his Oeridian background and rivalry with Heironeous was already well established.


I don't understand the relevance of that. Yes, he became his brother's rival before he sought augmentation to be able to defeat him. It wouldn't be the other way around.

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Maybe the Lords of Evil are Kuntz's "Elders" that predate the faiths of the Flanaess?


Perhaps. I think making them named, specific entities offers more opportunities for plot hooks and character detail than leaving them vague and undefined does. Something like the Lovecraft-inspired aboleth pantheon might be an interesting alternative, but alien cosmic horror is perpendicular to the moral evil that I think Hextor represents.

Cebrion wrote:
However, "Herald of Hell" could also just be an honorific in the verb sense of the word, meaning Hextor's appearance, or mere involvement in something, is a sign that "all hell is about to break loose,"


This is possible, but I don't personally think reading Herald of Hell as a metaphor or affectionate honorific is as satisfying as a more literal reading would be.

I should note that the question of who the Lords of Evil are is separate from the question of Hextor's responsibilities as Herald of Hell. I think the politics of Hell are interesting enough that it makes sense to embroil Hextor in them regardless of the provenance of his arms.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rasgon wrote:

This is because Gygax made it a rule that gods couldn't reside in the Nine Hells. See "Greyhawk's World" in Dragon #64
.
Oh cool! I never noticed this ruling. However, Hextor's home on Acheron remained canon and Sargent even cites it as a cause of tension between Hextor and the baatezu (Ivid).

rasgon wrote:
A Guide to the World of Greyhawk gave Hextor the power to travel to both the Nine Hells and Nirvana, but he's not called the Herald of Nirvana.

Silly, unsatisfying anwser, but practical: Herald of Hell is a catchy alliteration and inspires fear. Hextor wouldn't call himself Herald of Nirvana even if he earned the title. More on this below.
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Good points from Complete Divine and Vile Darkness!

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I don't agree that Baalzephon's faith limited Hextor's. It's not a monotheistic society and their portfolios don't overlap. Rather, Baalzy's faith replaced that of Zilchus (as god of prosperity and wealth) and it was the patriarch of Pholtus who was usurped. I doubt Hextor cried many tears over either of them.

In Ivid the Undying, the animuses were made in collaboration between priests of Hextor and a pit fiend in the service of Baalzephon, which seems an unlikely turn of events if Hextor and Baalzephon were rivals.

Read more -- there WAS considerable tension. The Ivid's always paid lip service to Hextor and even occasionally worshiped him, but, like real world temporal leaders, they manipulated the church and faithful for their own ends. Ivid states the alliance with the church of Hextor was motivated by a need for allies during the Turmoil Between the Crowns, not faith. After the coup, the Ivid's secured power with a 888-year pact with Baalzephon, not closer ties with Hextor. They grudgingly repaid their debt to the church by sanctioning Hextor's faith and funding their armies, but simultaneously undercut the priests' authority with unpopular promotions and late-payments to common soldiers (Ivid). Ivid V was forced into worship of Hextor by his father as a practice of discipline, not faith, and abandoned the god long ago (Ivid). At the time Fate of Istus occurred, Baazy was THE state-sanctioned religion and ALL OTHERS were "tolerated" but heavily taxed (WG8). Post-Wars, Baazy and Hextor's priesthood patched things up to animate animuses, but Sargent notes this is the "one real instance" of cooperation between the two. He states there is "sometimes a rivalry -- and sometimes an alliance."

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I don't think these two things conflict. Further, I'd argue that he might have a different relationship with some of the lesser, younger archdevils, who might be more like allies and colleagues, than he does with those directly responsible for his transformation.

We can argue SRK's wording, but it's clear in the Dragon article that one, maybe two, Lords of the Nine are listed under Hextor's current alliances and the context indicates a peer relationship. Two pages later, in a separate section on Mythology, the Lords of Evil are mentioned as mysterious, unnamed entities to which Hextor is indebted. You CAN combine them, but it's a stretch and it's not the direction the last four authors were going: Kuntz -- Baalzy competing with Hextor, Sargent -- sometimes rivals, Mona -- devils listed last among Hextor's truces and goblinoids, or Reyolds -- separate sections, different relationship dynamics, singular Lord vs. plural Lords.

I totally agree The Elders aren't the best fit either (maybe if Hextor had tentacle arms), but it works better than devils. The Elders are under-utilized and need more development, they have a precedent for transforming arms (Eli Tomorast), and their magi were active near the Oeridian migration path (Vale of the Mage). But what other proto-god entities and evil coalitions are there? The Ebon Triad doesn't work for obvious reasons. The EEG? The Princes of Elemental Evil? Alien things like the Egg of Coot or the Olman deities? The mysterious enmity attracted to the Blades of Corusk that Sargent hinted at and Slade ignored (it wasn't Iuz)? A coalition of beings similar to or including The Serpent that aided Vecna?

If not The Elders, what if The Lords of Evil were The Dark Powers of Ravenloft? They're just as generic, evil, and nameless. They've toyed with Vecna, Kas, Azalin, and many other Oerth residents. They probably even held grabbed Iuz for a few days after WGA4. Why not a deal with Hextor?
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I also agree Hextor's honorific should be more than hot air and I don't want to poop on the parade, but there needs to be a better fit. What if the Lord of Nine that Hextor counts as an ally is the one who titled him Herald, AND that Lord is one of the three most powerful archdevils (Baalzebul, Mephistopheles, or especially Asmodeus). Such a title and alliance, combined with Hextor's physical prowess and lack of territorial ambitions, would allow him to swagger around Hell as a neutral-enough power player, whatever his actual duties are. This is an acceptable answer to me for his honorific at least.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

vestcoat wrote:
However, Hextor's home on Acheron remained canon and Sargent even cites it as a cause of tension between Hextor and the baatezu (Ivid).


Tension is useful and makes things more interesting. There's plenty of tension between the archdevils themselves, so I'm certain there would be tension between the archdevils and a god who is, whatever his titles, emphatically not one of them. But the existence of tension doesn't mean there's no pact between Hextor and the baatezu, or that his title is meaningless.

Hextor making his realm in Acheron would arguably reduce the tension with the Lords of the Nine because it means he isn't a threat to their territorial ambitions on their layers. Set and Levistus are supposed to be at odds because they both dwell in Stygia, but Hextor dwelling on another plane allows him to be more neutral and unthreatening.

Part of the reason that Hextor's alliance with the devils was said to be "not so firm" in Ivid the Undying was the inability in 2nd edition of Hextor's priests to cast a gate spell to summon devils, and this is specific to the way specialty priests worked in 2e. In 3rd edition, or even 1st edition, this isn't a problem.

The sometimes-rivalry and sometimes-alliance described in Ivid the Undying is probably the ideal situation from a campaign perspective, and it isn't incompatible with the idea that Hextor has both a title in the diabolic hierarchy and a terrible debt to them that he resents.

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Read more -- there WAS considerable tension. The Ivid's always paid lip service to Hextor and even occasionally worshiped him, but, like real world temporal leaders, they manipulated the church and faithful for their own ends. Ivid states the alliance with the church of Hextor was motivated by a need for allies during the Turmoil Between the Crowns, not faith. After the coup, the Ivid's secured power with a 888-year pact with Baalzephon, not closer ties with Hextor. They grudgingly repaid their debt to the church by sanctioning Hextor's faith and funding their armies, but simultaneously undercut the priests' authority with unpopular promotions and late-payments to common soldiers (Ivid). Ivid V was forced into worship of Hextor by his father as a practice of discipline, not faith, and abandoned the god long ago (Ivid).


Ivid the Undying states that Hextor's faith is "the single most powerful in the land." This certainly wasn't the case during the Rax dynasty. The House of Naelax has had its pact with Baalzephon since the time of Ivenzen, so Baalzephon has always been part of the package that has allowed Hextor's faith in the Great Kingdom to rise to unprecedented heights. Why would the god then resent Baalzephon, whose pact with the House of Naelax has been so beneficial to his church? Why would he blame Baalzephon for Ivid's manipulations? The Iron Schism is proof that the priesthood of Hextor certainly has mixed feelings about Ivid, but that's hardly evidence that "Baalzy" bears any blame.

Again, Aerdy isn't a monotheistic society, and the worship of other entities isn't a zero-sum game. It's sort of a pet peeve of mine that people treat religion in Greyhawk as if each god was its own mini-monotheistic faith, when that's not really how polytheism works. As the Greyhawk Player's Guide stated (page 18), "Most humans and demihumans worship one or two primary gods, but their worship is by no means exclusionist. The people of the Flanaess are pragmatists, and they willingly embrace as many gods as necessary to make their lives run more smoothly."

Hextor doesn't compete for worship with Baalzephon, and there's no reason to believe that absent his family's Faustian bargain Ivid would be any more deferential toward the Scourge of Battle.

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We can argue SRK's wording, but it's clear in the Dragon article that one, maybe two, Lords of the Nine are listed under Hextor's current alliances and the context indicates a peer relationship.


The wording is "He has alliances with a few archdevils, greater devils, and at least one of the Lords of the Nine." "At least one" doesn't mean "one, maybe two." It means "at least one"—one is as likely as nine. And current alliances, some of which might be a sort of peer relationship, are a separate consideration from the notion that he has some ancient Faustian bargain with them. It can be simultaneously true that he has an alliance with, say, Mammon and Bel and that he is "obedient, but not subservient" to the triad of Mephistopheles, Asmodeus, and Baalzebul for gifting him with additional limbs in the time of myth.

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Two pages later, in a separate section on Mythology, the Lords of Evil are mentioned as mysterious, unnamed entities to which Hextor is indebted.


There's no doubt that in Sean K. Reynolds' article, the Lords of Evil are, as you say, presented as mysterious, unnamed entities barely mentioned in literature aside from The Book of Hextor. From the perspective of official game design, it's probably for the best to leave any further details to the DM. It's probably the simplest possible interpretation of Gygax's original text; Gygax didn't define "Lords of Evil," so Sean K. Reynolds' conceit is that even Hextor's religious texts don't define them.

That's certainly one way to go about it, but as I said, I think it presents more opportunities from the perspective of story and texture to give them names and motivations. That doesn't mean I want Sean K. Reynolds to have done so, but in the context of a random thread on a message board we can absolutely speculate.

In the absence of any real official detail, the Lords of Evil could be almost anything:

Nerull, Incabulos, Erythnul, Cegilune, and possibly Tharizdun
The draconic deities Tiamat, Falazure, and Garyx
Ilsensine, Maanzecorian, the Patient One
The Xammux, Scahrossar, Rallaster
The Lords of the Nine
The baernaloths of the Gray Waste
A group of nondivine liches or demiliches
Mortal druids of the Old Faith
Titans
The Lords of the Elder Elements
The Unseelie Court
4e-style primordials (like Haemnathuun the Blood Lord)
The Elder Evils worshiped by the aboleths (Bolothamogg, Holashner, Piscaethces, Shothogugg, Y'chak)

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Alien things like the Egg of Coot or the Olman deities?


"Morgan" on an old Design & Development article on the wizards site credits the Olman pantheon for Heironeous's apotheosis.

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If not The Elders, what if The Lords of Evil were The Dark Powers of Ravenloft? They're just as generic, evil, and nameless.


Which is a reason not to use them, I think, when you could use something interesting instead. It might make sense in a Ravenloft-heavy campaign, though.

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What if the Lord of Nine that Hextor counts as an ally is the one who titled him Herald, AND that Lord is one of the three most powerful archdevils (Baalzebul, Mephistopheles, or especially Asmodeus). Such a title and alliance, combined with Hextor's physical prowess and lack of territorial ambitions, would allow him to swagger around Hell as a neutral-enough power player, whatever his actual duties are. This is an acceptable answer to me for his honorific at least.


Well, again, "at least one" doesn't mean "only one or two," but it does seem likely that if Hextor didn't give the title to himself, Asmodeus was most likely the one to do it.

The advantage of giving him an alliance with Baalzebul or Mephistopheles but not Asmodeus is to create more drama by forcing Hextor to take sides in the Nine Hells' cold war. Which might be good, but it seems like it might give one side too much of an advantage.

Consider also that if indeed Hextor only has an alliance with one of the Nine, it's because only one of them is young enough to not have been part of his transformation (which is to say, he has an alliance with Bel or Glasya but is "obedient, but not subservient" to the other eight).
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tension is definitely a good thing, and the Hellish connection seems much more appropriate to Hextor than Elder Gods do. There is just nothing "Elder Gods" about Hextor. The Trumpet of Acheron could literally be linked to Acheron though; more specifically to represent those who die in Hextor's fighting pits, whom he can call upon to serve him after death.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm inclined to agree with the diabolic connections.

As for my comic, I did a later one that expands on Incabulos and Nerull to include some other mysterious presences...and no Tharizdun is not a friend of the Lords of Evil (tm)

http://melkot.com/wogcomic/title/wogstrip257a.htm
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rasgon wrote:

Ivid the Undying states that Hextor's faith is "the single most powerful in the land."
...
Hextor doesn't compete for worship with Baalzephon, and there's no reason to believe that absent his family's Faustian bargain Ivid would be any more deferential toward the Scourge of Battle.

You're kind of ignoring all of the evidence I just cited. Hextor's faith is the most supreme, I'm not arguing that, BUT the Ivid family and their devilish sponsor are no friends of Hextor. Occasional allies yes, but they undermined and limited Hextor's faith for CENTURIES and Sargent makes that abundantly clear. Kuntz didn't make any exemptions for Hextor when all other GK religions faced ruinous taxes during the Red Death. It was a brief period, yes, and after the war an uneasy co-existance resumed, but Hextor's dominance under Ivid and Baalzy is only secure if you ignore all of the text in Ivid on the contrary. Let's also remember Ivid just sent his rival Holy Censor to the Endless Death in 583 and utterly annihilated the most powerful seat of Hextor's faith in the Flanaess, the See of Medegia!

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"At least one" doesn't mean "one, maybe two." It means "at least one"—one is as likely as nine.

Definitely not. It doesn't rule out nine, SKR left that door open for the DM, but if the author had envisioned a multitude he would have said so. The reasonable-person test would assume "at least one" means the low end of a scale.

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I think it presents more opportunities from the perspective of story and texture to give them names and motivations.

Yes, names and motivations are great! Here's my thrust: ascribing a unique and mysterious nugget of canon (The Lords of Evil) to a popular and well-known group of devils already linked to Hextor is anticlimactic and makes the world smaller.

I LOVE Hextor's devilish connections and Herald status -- he already has that! His politics in Hell can be as convoluted as we want. There's no limit to his sponsors, allies, and rivals there. Why double down and squander his mythological origins with MORE devilish relationships?

The guy who literally wrote the book on arch-devils in '77 (the Monster Manual) could have simply said devils gave Hextor more arms, but he didn't. He created a new group of evil unique to Hextor and Greyhawk. That's exciting. Adding a second layer to Hextor's deviltry is vaguely interesting, but unnecessary.

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Which is a reason not to use them, I think, when you could use something interesting instead. It might make sense in a Ravenloft-heavy campaign, though.

No, it's the first step in fleshing out and using two nameless groups. Both powers become more threatening when combined. Not only do the powers of Ravenloft control a demi plane and imprison evil entities, they also sponsor a random god-ling on Oerth? That's interesting. Why? Why pluck Azalin from the GK whiling aiding Hextor? Suddenly a group of benchwarmers confined to TSR's cliche horror setting that I don't use become cosmic players meddling in the Oriedian pantheon. That's cool. Gods and players unconcerned with the Demiplane of Dread can now learn about, fear, and encounter the Lords of Evil AKA Ravenloft.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

vestcoat wrote:
You're kind of ignoring all of the evidence I just cited.


Honestly, I wasn't sure what you meant by this, but I think you mean that you believe evidence of conflict between the priesthood of Hextor and Ivid is evidence of a feud between Hextor and Baalzephon.

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BUT the Ivid family and their devilish sponsor are no friends of Hextor.


I don't think devils have friends, typically. Ed Greenwood used that word in his "Nine Hells" articles (for example, he said that Morax and Alastor were friends) but I think a devil's definition of friendship is going to be very different from mine. And as I said earlier, I think devils don't consider Hextor to be one of their number, so there's going to be some tension.

But you're conflating Ivid's family with their sponsor, and I don't think there's much justification for you to do that.

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Occasional allies yes, but they undermined and limited Hextor's faith for CENTURIES and Sargent makes that abundantly clear.


The same centuries in which Hextor's faith rose to unprecedented power and popularity in the Great Kingdom.

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Kuntz didn't make any exemptions for Hextor when all other GK religions faced ruinous taxes during the Red Death.


And as I said, the Iron Schism is ample evidence that Hextor's priesthood is unhappy with Ivid. But while it's possible that Baalzephon, the pit fiend in charge of supplying resources to the Blood War, personally ordered Ivid to levy those taxes, I don't see any evidence of that.

Note that the patriarch of Hextor, Pyrannden, "considers an alliance with Baalzephon possible," but has avoided trying to establish one because (unable to cast gate by 2nd edition rules) he would have to go through Kalroolck to do so. It's Kalroolck that he distrusts and loathes, not Baalzephon. It seems more likely that the "worship tax" was Kalroolck's idea, to strengthen his own power at the expense of his priestly rivals, than it is that it was something Kalroolck's master was concerned with.

"But that means there isn't currently an alliance between Hextor and Baalzephon!" Well, it means there isn't currently an alliance between Pyrannden and Baalzephon. Who knows how Hextor and Baalzephon currently feel about one another?

What I actually suggested, in my original post, was that if being "Herald of Hell" meant adjudicating the outcomes of intra-diabolic conflicts (there are of course other definitions of herald, but this is one thing heralds historically did), he would have to be seen as neutral for the most part, although he might "temporarily favor one party or another." I think this is compatible with Carl Sargent's "there is sometimes a rivalry between the two—and sometimes an alliance." If Hextor and Baalzephon had a permanent hatred for one another due to the Worship Tax, then yes, that particular minister of the Dark Eight would not see Hextor as an unbiased witness. But clearly they don't have a permanent hatred for one another, as evidenced by their cooperation in creating the animuses. Are they always allies? No, and I think both parties concerned would be unwise to think anyone's ultimate allegiance was to anyone other than themselves.

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Let's also remember Ivid just sent his rival Holy Censor to the Endless Death in 583 and utterly annihilated the most powerful seat of Hextor's faith in the Flanaess, the See of Medegia!


Which probably made Hextor annoyed with Ivid! But did Baalzephon order Ivid to do that?

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Definitely not. It doesn't rule out nine, SKR left that door open for the DM, but if the author had envisioned a multitude he would have said so. The reasonable-person test would assume "at least one" means the low end of a scale.


I tend to agree that it suggests a lowish number, but "at least one" isn't the same thing as "one or two."

SKR's writing is kind of hard to parse here because he distinguishes between "archdevils" and "Lords of the Nine," which are generally considered to be synonymous, unless he means to include exiled archdevils in the former and not the latter. It says "a few archdevils, greater devils, and at least one the Lords of the Nine." In that context I would assume that his alliances with the Lords of the Nine are at least one, but fewer than "a few." How many this is depends on what exactly SKR had in mind.

Sean K. Reynolds tends to be a stickler for game terms, so we can assume that "greater devils" meant those creatures named as such in 3.x: in Fiendish Codex II, these were bone devils, orthons, malebranches, barbed devils, ice devils, xerfilstyxes, horned devils, pleasure devils, assassin devils, paeliryons, and pit fiends. But I would assume fiends of less than noble status would be beneath the notice of a god, so probably he meant those pit fiends considered Dukes of Hell in 1st edition—Alastor the Grim, Baalzephon, Fecor, Furcas, et al. All of the Dark Eight, of course. Perhaps some non-pit fiend greater devils if they have great status, like the paeliryon Sagirsa, who rules the city Jangling Hiter.

If so, "archdevils" might have meant "Dukes of Hell with unique forms" like Abigor, Adonides, etc. since otherwise this group is unrepresented in a list including noble pit fiends and Lords of the Nine. This isn't what the word means elsewhere, but contextually it seems like a likely interpretation.

Well, okay. But "a few" is a relative term. The 1e MMII lists, in a quick count, 61 Dukes of Hell, both pit fiends and unique devils included. If "a few" means 10% in this context, then Hextor might have alliances with six of them, and his alliances with the Lords of the Nine probably number less than six. If "a few" means 20%, he might have alliances with 12 dukes and maybe a few more Lords of the Nine.

But honestly we're parsing this really finely. As you said, SKR, left it open for the DM, and there's no reason to be so concerned with exactly what he might have been thinking. If your only point was that SKR probably didn't intend for every archdevil (or Duke of Hell) to be Hextor's ally—well, I agree with you. But he doesn't have to have an alliance with every devil to be the Herald of Hell. What I suggested is that they view him, in general, as a neutral arbiter, but that he might be bribed or otherwise persuaded into not being neutral. So the default is that he's an ally of none of them, but might take the role of ally or rival depending on the circumstances.

Nor does he have to be the current ally of every, or indeed any, archdevil in order to have been granted extra arms by them. If allying with "less than a few" archdevils was evidence that none of them were the Lords of Evil, then Dragon #356 stating that "Hextor is dismissive of all other deities" would likewise be evidence that the Lords of Evil cannot be deities. I'm not so sure that was the intent; the Lords of Evil are a shadowy myth and they aren't defined at all.

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Yes, names and motivations are great! Here's my thrust: ascribing a unique and mysterious nugget of canon (The Lords of Evil) to a popular and well-known group of devils already linked to Hextor is anticlimactic and makes the world smaller.

I LOVE Hextor's devilish connections and Herald status -- he already has that! His politics in Hell can be as convoluted as we want. There's no limit to his sponsors, allies, and rivals there. Why double down and squander his mythological origins with MORE devilish relationships?


This is so subjective that it's meaningless. He can have relationships with whatever entities you want without needing to bring the Lords of Evil myth into it. Maybe he's made overtures with Ravenloft's Dark Powers for other purposes! Perhaps he claims the soul of one of Ravenloft's Darklords and hopes to win it free from the Dark Powers' grasp. Perhaps he wrested an artifact from the elder gods many centuries ago and gifted it to his high priest, and both Hextor and the elder god claim it now. Perhaps an elder god is Hextor's unnamed father, or lover, or he crafted a weapon from an elder god's bones. Relationships aren't a finite resource.

If adding the Lords of Evil myth to non-diabolic entities makes them more interesting, it could make the archdevils more interesting just as easily. If devilkind has the power to transform and empower deities, that's something we didn't know about them before! If they have a binding contract with a god that he perhaps chafes against and seeks to undermine, that's an interesting new detail that could add new storylines to a campaign! I hardly think it qualifies as squandering an idea if I can do something that I like with it.

One thing I like is the idea that the Lords of the Nine are, as entities, individually less powerful than Hextor, but an infernal compact gives them a hold over the Scourge of Battle that belies their individual strength.

Another thing that fascinates me is that the roster of archdevils changes over time, which is a dynamic you might not have with other Lords of Evil candidates. For example, if you buy Alexander von Thorn's "The Politics of Hell" in Dragon #28, or Necromancer Games' simplification of it in their Tome of Horrors, perhaps Hextor's pact was with Satan/Lucifer and he views Asmodeus as an upstart to whom he owes nothing. Or perhaps Gargauth played a role in Hextor's transformation and Hextor is "obedient, but not subservient" to the Lord Who Watches while bearing nothing but disdain for Gargauth's successor. Or if you adopt the storyline from Elder Evils in which Zargon from B4 The Lost City was Asmodeus's predecessor as ruler of Hell, perhaps it's Zargon that gifted Hextor with his additional limbs, and it's Zargon that Hextor serves as herald—presuming he becomes free of Cynidicea, an eventuality which even Hextor may seek to prevent.

Of course just as we can invent any number of possible connections between Hextor and the Dark Powers/Elder Gods/whatever without invoking the Lords of Evil, we can invent any number of possible connections/alliances/contracts/rivalries between Hextor and the forces of Hell without invoking that concept. One choice isn't better than the others, but it's different. A Hextor who owes a terrible debt to the Lords of the Nine or some earlier predecessors of them has a different relationship with the Hells than a Hextor who does not.

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The guy who literally wrote the book on arch-devils in '77 (the Monster Manual) could have simply said devils gave Hextor more arms, but he didn't.


Absolutely, which is why I didn't claim it was canon.

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He created a new group of evil unique to Hextor and Greyhawk.


Or maybe he just meant "the gods of evil other than Hextor," as in Mortellan's Legion of Doom parody, and we're both reading too much into it. But the cool thing about tabletop RPGs is that we get to decide for our own games. In any case there are an unlimited amount of unique relationships we can apply to Hextor if desired.

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No, it's the first step in fleshing out and using two nameless groups. Both powers become more threatening when combined. Not only do the powers of Ravenloft control a demi plane and imprison evil entities, they also sponsor a random god-ling on Oerth? That's interesting. Why? Why pluck Azalin from the GK whiling aiding Hextor?


Why, indeed. For what it's worth, one group mentioned in Ivid the Undying that I definitely think is Ravenloft's Dark Powers are the nameless entities who taught Darnakurian the secrets of creating the sword Hunger.

"A peerless enchanter, he called on many sources of power, even across the planes. From corners of the void dark voices came to him, seducing him with the promise of supreme power—power which could destroy the Ur-Flannae and save the city and the forest."

1. This sounds exactly like the Dark Powers' whole shtick.
2. The Adri Forest is where Azalin disappeared before appearing in the Demiplane of Dread.
3. The Adri Forest is where the Rhennee first emerged when they appeared on Oerth.
4. The City of the Summer Stars itself vanished to some other plane in a way that matches many other realms' disappearance into the Demiplane of Dread.

I fleshed out the connections more here, but I think there's a lot of supporting evidence for connections between Hunger, the disappearance of the City of Summer Stars, the disappearance of Azalin, and the appearance of the Rhennee (remembering that connections between Oerth and the Demiplane of Dread need not be bound to the linear flow of time).

I think these connections tells a story more interesting than any of these events on their own. However, I don't think noting these connections makes the Dark Powers any more interesting than they were previously. I don't necessarily think the Dark Powers need to be more interesting than they are; I kind of like how mysterious they are.

Does connecting them to Hextor make either the Dark Powers or Hextor more interesting than before? Your mileage may of course vary, but I'm unconvinced. It makes them different if they have this particular connection to Hextor instead of some other one, but I wouldn't say the idea is better than any alternative you might come up with. They have a long ways to go before I would find them interesting in their own right.


Last edited by rasgon on Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:39 pm; edited 2 times in total
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jamesdglick
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2019 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rasgon wrote:
...Why would the god then resent Baalzephon, whose pact with the House of Naelax has been so beneficial to his church? ...


-Historically, beneficiaries have never resented their benefactors...

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Gilban
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2019 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that if you read the entire passage it points more clearly toward Gygax' intent. "When Heironeous chose lawful good, Hextor opted to serve lawful evil. Always inferior to his half-brother, the Lords of Evil granted Hextor six arms..."

The Lords of Evil, therefore, must be lawful evil. This fact rules out a lot of the alternative evil bosses. Personally, I think it's clear that Gygax intended the Archdevils of Hell to be the Lords of Evil but it is of course open to interpretation and everyone is free to do as they choose in their own campaign.

Finally, I think the debate whether Hextor can be sponsored by Hell or not based on any rivalry with Baalzy or Ivid is unnecessary IMO. The Archdevils plot and scheme amongst themselves all the time without us doubting their connection to Hell. Intrigue and rivalry is an integral part of Hell, and Hextor being of human origins would not lessen this.
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