Lords of the Nine Hells
|Lords of the Nine Hells|
|First appearance||Monster Manual (1977)|
The Lords of the Nine Hells are the rulers of the Nine Hells of Baator. They are also called the archdevils, the Archdukes of Hell, and the Lords of Hell. They each control one of the plane's nine layers and are the most powerful and highest-ranking devils. Unlike the chaotic demon princes of the Abyss, the Lords of the Nine (and all the devils of the Hells for that matter) are arranged in a strict hierarchy. The lord of the first layer has the lowest rank of the nine archdevils, while the lord of the ninth layer has the highest rank. While the demons of the Abyss answer only to their own basic instincts, every single devil, at least in theory, answers to the Lord of the Ninth, Asmodeus.
Each archduke is a unique devil of immense power and influence, with his own resources military, magical, and political to rely on in the endless scheming that characterizes devilish politics.
Occasionally, a non-devil may gain rulership of one of the nine layers of Hell, but this is extremely rare.
Lord of the First: Bel
Bel is a former pit fiend of great power who controls Avernus. He resides in his personal fortress in the center of the Bronze Citadel. As well as being Lord of the First, Bel is lead general in the Blood War, although not one of the Dark Eight. He betrayed his mistress and former Lord of the First, Zariel, in order to gain his current position.
Bel does not have the support of the other Lords of the Nine, save Asmodeus, who often call him "the Pretender." Neither Mephistopheles nor Baalzebul trusts him thanks to his all-too-ready betrayal of his mistress. And while any of the other Archdukes would have gladly dethroned Zariel themselves, Bel's uprising wiped out most of their own operatives. However, none have moved against him, in appreciation of his valuable efforts as a buffer against the demons and his command of the Dark Eight. He has curried some favor with Asmodeus by spying on other lords and passing on the information to Martinet, the constable of Asmodeus. He also has the support of the Dark Eight, support that should not be overlooked.
Bel has made inroads into forging an alliance with Tiamat, deity of Chromatic Dragons, who maintains a domain on his layer. Thanks to this accord, many abishai swell the ranks of his armies, and abishai torturers carve bits of Zariel's flesh off her body in her cell beneath the Bronze Citadel. Bel consumes these giblets, increasing his power.
An inspiration to all devilkind, Bel attained his status by climbing the full ladder of diabolical promotion, from quivering lemure to full pit fiend, finally displacing Zariel and being recognized by Asmodeus as Lord of the First and one of the greatest military minds in the multiverse.
Kept busy advancing the baatezu agenda against demonkind, Bel is the only archduke that has not yet established a cult, though some warriors worship him.
Lord of the Second: Dispater, The Iron Duke
The Lord of the Second, Dispater, controls the layer of Dis from his Iron Tower. He usually appears as a humanoid of supernatural height with dark hair, tiny horns, resplendent garb, and a single cloven foot. He always holds a rod of great power, his badge of office.
Dispater never takes risks and thus almost never leaves his demesne, and then, only to the call of Asmodeus. At all other times he relies on his aspect to deal with the other archdukes of the Nine Hells. Dispater's Iron Tower, a nigh-impenetrable fortress, is itself an extremely powerful magic item that amplifies his powers and makes him nearly invulnerable. The Iron Duke gets all the necessary information from his consort Lilis. Known as the Iron Maiden, Lilis is the only consort Dispater has been known to have, and her intelligence network covers all Baator and beyond, making her one of the most knowledgeable creatures in the Nine Hells. In terms of politics, Dispater and Mephistopheles, Lord of the Eighth, are allies and are usually scheming against Baalzebul, Lord of the Seventh.
Since Glasya's recent elevation and the apparent ease with which Asmodeus arranged it, Dispater's already healthy paranoia has grown, prompting him to retreat further into his Iron Tower and work harder than ever root out traitors both actual and potential. He has also tried to distance himself from his allies and seek peace with his enemies to avoid having any enemies, a futile goal.
Dispater's touch instantly corrodes metal and can convert flesh into iron. A favorite tactic of his in combat is to transform opponent into an iron statue, then immediately rust him away into dust.
Lord of the Third: Viscount Mammon
Mammon, Lord of the Third, rules over the layer of Minauros. He rules from the center of the city of Minauros, inhabiting a mausoleum-like structure of vast proportions. He is an archdevil who resembles a thirty-foot-long serpent with a humanoid head, arms, and torso. He also wields a harpoon-like spear. Mammon may also assume the form of a pit fiend at will.
During the Reckoning of Hell, a failed rebellion against Asmodeus, Mammon allied with Dispater and Mephistopheles against Asmodeus. When Asmodeus finally proved victorious, Mammon was the first to abase himself before him, gaining the enmity of the other Lords. Aware that he has exhausted the Hells of allies, Mammon has focused on subverting mortals on the Material Plane via his cults, and using them to wage economic warfare against goodly states there.
Mammon's cult among mortals is one of the largest of the nine archdukes. As a patron of greed and lust, temples to Mammon are ostentatious displays of wealth and obscene plenty, with every surface and ritual implement made of gold and encrusted with gems.
Mammon enjoys subverting evil dragons to his cause, a fact Tiamat keenly resents.
Mammon was once lover to Glasya, and since her elevation the diabolical rumor mills have been working overtime. Some devils contend that the two have rekindled their awful union now that Glasya is out from beneath Asmodeus's watchful eye, while others assert that Glasya harbors burning hatred for the serpentine archduke over his refusal to fight for her love.
Mammon's touch inspires overpowering greed and lust for treasure in his opponents, causing them to attack allies and friends in a wild attempt to steal their valuables.
Lords of the Fourth: Lady Fierna and Great Belial
Fierna and Belial are archdevils who resemble slightly devilish-looking humanoids. Fierna fights with a blade of fire that she summons at will, and Belial with a mighty ranseur.
Following the Reckoning Belial was demoted from official to unofficial ruler or Phlegethos, with Fierna taking the mantle of leadership. This situation suited both just fine until Glasya's ascension to rulership of Malbolge. Since then Fierna has struck a fast friendship with Glasya, and at her urging is moving to gain greater independence from her father. Moreover, since the death of Fierna's mother Naome (Belial's former consort), both she-devils now share the mutual grief of having a dead mother. This fact caused them to become even more united.
Belial, for his part, has been attempting to keep tabs on his daughter's behavior without provoking her to greater autonomy, even putting many of his schemes against Levistus, Lord of Stygia, on hold. Belial is also considering various actions against Glasya, to make her a less appealing role model for Fierna. He is fully aware that the line he treads is thin, as any obvious strikes against Asmodeus's daughter could not only inspire his own progeny to rebellion, but be construed as moves against Asmodeus himself.
Lord of the Fifth: Prince Levistus
The Lord of the Fifth, Levistus, rules over the layer of Stygia. He appears as a six-foot-tall humanoid with very pale skin, dark hair, and a goatee. Were it not for his entirely black eyes and pointed teeth, he could pass for a human. In the days of his freedom, he wore loose, silken clothing and carried a glistening rapier. However, at the moment he is visible only as a black speck a quarter-mile within a towering mountain of dark ice that floats about Stygia.
Asmodeus deposed Levistus and imprisoned him in ice for attempting to ravish, and eventually killing, Bensozia, consort to Asmodeus and mother to Glasya. Levistus was, for millennia, trapped within his tomb, unable to act. Recently however, Asmodeus made an inexplicable gesture to his lover's murderer, displacing the formerly loyal ruler of Stygia, Geryon, and passing the position once again to the frozen prince, though leaving him trapped within his tomb. Levistus rules his layer via telepathic instructions issued to his many amnizu courtiers.
Asmodeus's strange actions puzzled both Levistus and the other seven archdukes. Levistus's open hostility to his peers endeared him to none of the other archdukes, and the Overlord of Hell's apparent indifference stymied followers of devilish politics for some time.
With Glasya's elevation, however, a theory has arisen to explain Asmodeus's maneuvering. Geryon's energy was never transferred to Levistus. Instead, the theory goes, it was used to promote Glasya, whose personal might ballooned in the wake of the Malagard's overthrow. In the meantime, Asmodeus tolerated Levistus's blatant troublemaking and arrogance as a distraction for the other archdukes from his plans for his daughter and Malbolge. Levistus himself has reluctantly come to accept the theory, though he doesn't much like its implications. He has stepped up his efforts to break out of his tomb, though it continues to thwart all attempts, magical and physical. His devils are chipping away at the iceberg, but for every inch they gain two more build from the sleet and snow constantly blowing across its surface.
Lord of the Sixth: Archduchess Glasya
The current Lord of the Sixth is Glasya, daughter of Asmodeus and former consort of Mammon. Glasya ascended to her lordship in the dramatic displacement of its former ruler, the Hag Countess Malagard. The move has many of the other lords scrambling. Glasya appears as a supremely beautiful humanoid with copper skin, wings, a forked tail, and small horns.
In ages past, Malbolge was ruled by the archdevil Beherit and his consort Batna, but both were destroyed by Asmodeus for disobeying "restrictions upon the elevation of devils." Asmodeus then granted rulership of the layer to Baalzebul. The Lord of the Seventh administered Malbolge through his Grand Viceroy Moloch, but Moloch was cast down when he defied Asmodeus during the Reckoning. Most authorities acknowledge that it was the Hag Countess, one of Moloch's most trusted advisors, who counseled Moloch to rebel. The Hag was then set in his place as Lord of the Sixth, and Moloch fled and went into hiding.
Until Glasya's promotion, Malbolge was the hardest layer of Baator to traverse, being a never-ending slope bouncing with eternally rolling boulders. The Hag Countess was not actually a devil but a supremely powerful night hag from the Gray Waste of Hades. Malagard resided in a stronghold that was the core of a mountain-sized boulder which perpetually rolled down the slopes of Malbolge. None of her nobles knew exactly where it was or on what path it rolled. When she occasionally visited them in their copper fortresses, the nobles hosted her, though they rarely knew that it was her due to her expert disguises.
Then one morning, Malagard was wracked by terrible spasms, collapsing down the eternal slopes, which soon after began convulsing with earthquakes, turning itself inside out. The Hag Countess was seized by the soil of the layer, then held fast as she underwent a massive transformation, her body growing to titanic but inconstant proportions. Her skull ballooned to the size of a vast fortress as her ribs distended and bent into massive, arching mounted ranges that circled the whole layer. Her innards were buried, becoming subterranean passageways and her organs burst, forming lakes of bile and viscera. Her fingers became ten white towers, strands of her hair turning into greasy white trees, her teeth sinking into the earth to become a source of ivory for mining. As the surviving inhabitants of Malbolge crawled out of the ground where they were buried, a golden litter descended, bearing the new ruler, Archduchess Glasya.
Glasya detests Prince Levistus and is using her intelligence networks and fledgling cults to gather information she can later use to gain her father's approval to destroy the Lord of the Fifth for good, in revenge for the murder of her mother.
Lord of the Seventh: Baalzebul the Slug Archduke
Baalzebul, the Lord of the Seventh, rules over the layer of Maladomini. He was once an archon of Celestia named Triel, but he was cast down into the Nine Hells, and soon after, Asmodeus promoted him to devilhood in a dread ritual. Baalzebul climbed the ranks of devilry, eventually becoming Lord of the Seventh, deposing the earlier Lord and expunging all mention of that entity. The Slug Lord is the only Archduke known to have two official consorts: Baftis, his first and actual consort and Lilith, his viceroy's former consort whom he reined in due to her fairly large amount of worshippers on the Prime Material Plane. While Baftis is too scared of Baalzebul and too spineless to even think of acting unauthorized, the strong-willed Lilith is not exactly loyal to the Slug Archduke and has schemes of her own.
Baalzebul once strove for devilish perfection in all things. Thus, Maladomini is dotted with ruined, abandoned cities, and petitioners were constantly building new cities for the Lord of the Seventh. Newer cities are built atop the ruins of older ones. As each city was finished, Baalzebul's dissatisfaction forced his subjects to begin anew. Baftis is sealed up in one of these ghost towns that she had refused to leave.
Baalzebul currently resides in the city of Malagard, a beautiful city still under construction, with perfectly straight boulevards, fountains of delicate yet terrible visage, and towers that reach faultlessly straight into the blood-black sky. Recently, Baalzebul has given up on trying to prevent its demise, allowing its archways to droop and bridges to crumble as dispirited devils shuffle through ever-expanding rivers of trash. The fatalistic melancholy of the Lord of the Flies has struck the entire layer, interrupted only by occasional (and short-lived) frenzies of cleaning and repair. Baalzebul spends most of his time in the Palace of Filth, a building-shaped pile of fecal refuse that was once his grand castle. He periodically hollows out new rooms and reinforces slumping ones with layers of slime that ooze from his bloated body.
To punish Baalzebul for plotting against him during the failed rebellion known as the Reckoning, Asmodeus transformed Baalzebul's former body into a melted, sluglike form. As a result, although Baalzebul now only openly plots against Mephistopheles, Lord of the Eighth, his undying anger still burns for Asmodeus, as does his eternal ambition for the throne of the King of the Nine Hells.
Lord of the Eighth: Archduke Mephistopheles
Mephistopheles appears as a nine-foot-tall humanoid with hell-red skin, horns, and wings. He prefers to wear dramatic capes of the ultimate blackness and carries a magic ranseur that burns eternally.
Mephistopheles once engineered his own coup, replacing himself with "Baron Molikroth." However, Molikroth was just an alias of Mephistopheles, and that duplicity has now ended, as well as the lives of "Molikroth's" co-conspirators.
Mephistopheles failed to unseat Asmodeus during the Hells-wide rebellion known as the Reckoning. If it weren't for his canny consort Baalphegor, whose mere presence greatly protects him from the Lord of Nessus, Mephistopheles would, likely, have been at best demoted upon the Reckoning. His largest rival is Baalzebul, and his court runs thick with plots against the Lord of the Flies.
Recently the Lord of the Eighth has been devoting most of his time and incredible amounts of energy to his pet project, that of mastering and experimenting with Hellfire, a new form of magical fire with new and interesting properties. This obsession with the enterprise has caused a virtual upending of Cania's power structure, with the ice devils that once stood at its peak forced to migrate to the colder mountains on the fringes of Cania.
Mephistopheles's goal is the expansion of his material plane cult by offering mastery of Hellfire as an incentive. However, the expansion is taking a toll on his soul-harvesting efforts, and he is being forced to borrow divine energy from the other archdukes, particularly Dispater and Levistus at an alarming rate. Mephistopheles is risking much in his gamble on Hellfire, and if it pays off, his mortal cult will be larger and more popular than any other archduke's, including that of Asmodeus.
Despite his recent efforts, Mephistopheles's influence on the material plane is not as strong as in Baator. Many mortals confuse him with Asmodeus, thinking them one and the same. This fact amuses Asmodeus and frustrates Mephistopheles to no end.
Lord of the Ninth: Asmodeus, King of the Nine Hells
Asmodeus, the King of the Nine Hells and Lord of the Ninth, is at the very least an archdevil, but he may possess the power of a true deity. He resides in Malsheem, located on the lowest layer of Baator, Nessus. He is rarely ever seen, and only when the elite of the Nine Hells gather in any one of a hundred different audience chambers does Asmodeus make his presence known, usually in the form of an unprepossessing humanoid thirteen feet tall with black hair, dark skin, a black goatee, and eyes of flame.
According to the Pact Primeval legend, Asmodeus was once the greatest of the angels, who were servants of the primal deities of Law, created to combat demons in the Age before Ages. As the battle went on, Asmodeus and his company grew ever more poisoned by their combat against the infinite hordes of the Abyss. The deities grew restless at seeing him and his tainted companions, but could not find clauses in their laws that would allow them to cast him out. Further, they were distressed that mortals were choosing to disobey law, choosing the so-called Liberty dangled before them by demons, rather than adhering to the dictates of the gods of Law. Asmodeus, seeing the predicament, proposed that the gods establish Punishment and Retribution, as a way to giving consequence to mortals who chose not to follow Law. Asmodeus's masters agreed, and assigned him and his brood to administer Punishment. So as to spare them the sight of mortal souls being eternally tortured and made to suffer, Asmodeus chose the (apparently empty) plane of Baator as the site for his new Hells, and demanded that he and his dark company be allowed to harvest energy from the souls they punished for their sins, or they would have to be made gods themselves to have the strength to manage the task. Thus the Pact Primeval was signed, and the baatezu--devils--were created.
Curiously though, the legend of the Pact Primeval uniformly fails to mention earlier inhabitants of Baator, the so-called Ancient Baatorians. Yet the myth admits that Baator, or some previous version of the plane, was already extant when Asmodeus and his brood arrived to turn it to their use.
As undisputed master of the Nine Hells, Asmodeus commands fear and respect from all who occupy his realm, even evil deities. Working constantly to expand Evil and Law, Asmodeus directly opposes celestials and goodly deities, his minions fighting the agents of good, murdering them whenever and wherever they can. Asmodeus also works to contain, and eventually destroy, the Chaos of demons and the infinite Abyss. As long as they exist, he will never achieve his eventual goal of ruling the multiverse unopposed.
Asmodeus's parting from his plane of origin was not peaceful, following the signing of the Pact Primeval. Physically cast from there, Asmodeus fell and fell, wounded to within an inch of his life from his crashes. His wounds still bleed today, every drop of blood forming a new pit fiend, fanatically loyal to the Lord of the Ninth. These pit fiends patrol the canyon of Serpent's Coil, viciously attacking any interlopers.
The Lord of the Ninth is so powerful that within Baator he can work almost any magic as an act of will, reaching into the realms of the other archdukes and reshaping their domains (or the archdukes themselves) with but a thought. Asmodeus emits an aura of submission so powerful that nearly any creature in proximity to him feel overwhelming compulsions to bow before him and submit to any and all of his commands without question. It takes a supreme act of will merely to resist.
Asmodeus has recently achieved a long-standing goal of strengthening further his grip on the Hells, through the taming and elevation of his daughter Glasya. With this additional power, Asmodeus intends to harvest additional divine power with which to speed the healing of his wounds. Once the wounds are healed, Asmodeus plans to strike a temporary truce with the demons, pausing the Blood War just long enough to begin an apocalyptic final struggle between Good and Evil. Following his victory, he will resume his annihilation of demonkind and take his rightful place as ruler of all things.
Notes and Revisions to Asmodeus: Early issues of Dragon magazine such as the article, "The Politics of Hell," in issue #28 mention rumored older kings such as Lucifer or Satan that Asmodeus deposed. This idea was never considered canonical, but an allusion to it resurfaced in a vague reference decades later in the Book of Vile Darkness.
It was revised completely in Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells, when Asmodeus was confirmed as the original founder of the current, Baatezu dominated, Nine Hells during the signing of the Pact Primeval. Manual of the Planes mentions a supposed legend that the form of Asmodeus seen by the other archdukes and visitors was merely a specter or aspect, and that his true form, that of a titanic, serpent-like devil, resided at the bottom of the canyon known as "Serpent's Coil," so named for the outline he made when he hit the surface of Nessus, still wounded from his fall out of the upper planes. Fiendish Codex II does not directly contradict the story, but does seem to retcon it, mentioning in its description of Nessus that Serpent's Coil is shaped for the spiraling path Asmodeus fell, and that Malsheem sits at the bottom of that canyon. The assertion seems to contradict the idea that Asmodeus's "true form" was serpentine, and brings it into line with the Pact Primeval account. Most angels, after all, are humanoid in form. The idea of his wounds, however, remains. In 2nd Edition's Guide To Hell it was stated that Asmodeus was a Lawful Evil or corrupted Lawful Neutral serpentine entity, who along with his Lawful Good counterpart serpent Jazirian, was responsible for the current ring-shaped structure of the Outer Planes. Asmodeus fell once their embrace ended as they struggled over the proper role of Law, eventually plummeting all the way to the serpents coil in Baator. Guide to Hell claimed that his wish was to destroy all creation by making all sentient beings atheists, and thus negating the belief energy holding the Outer Planes together, so that he may fill the void and create it entirely in his own image, without the help of any other deity.' Few of these theories have appeared in subsequent books, or possessed a foundation in prior material, though the theme of Asmodeus as a fallen being of Law has remained. Second Edition's Hellbound: The Blood War and Faces of Evil: The Fiends present another version of Baator and Asmodeus's history and origins. These sources state that the Baatezu only supplanted the original natives of the plane, the Ancient Baatorians, and were themselves first created as the lawful spawn of the General of Gehenna's purification of the early yugoloths. The chronology of the Blood War in Hellbound also states that Baator's Lords of the Nine only appeared in their positions around or slightly after the Blood War began, but also before the existence of deities. Asmodeus himself is left intentionally dark and largely undefined, though his power is made clear, with more detail devoted to the history of his race and their conquered plane.
"The Tenth Lord of the Nine": Gargauth
Gargoth, a powerful archdevil, once dwelled in the Hells, but left for reasons known only to himself. Some say he challenged Asmodeus and was exiled, some say he was cast from the Hells for his foul nature, while others say he left because Asmodeus destroyed his closest friend, the archdevil Beherit. One, none, or all of these reasons may be true.
Gargoth took to wandering the planes, and eventually founded a cult on the world of Toril, where he is known as Gargauth.
Rabble of Devilkin
- See main article: Rabble of Devilkin
"Rabble of devilkin" is a term applied to the outcast dukes of Hell dwelling on Avernus, the first layer of the Nine Hells. There are roughly fifty of these unique devils, nearly all who seek to regain their place in Hell's hierarchy.
These outcasts are forbidden to create strongholds from which to gather resources, so most wander Avernus, or hide in several secret lairs. Most of the outcasts avoid each other, and few beyond Asmodeus and his representatives are allowed friendly contact with them. They seldom take part in the Blood War that takes place on Avernus, save only when they are personally attacked by participants. The devils Amduscias, Malphas, and Goap work to keep these outcasts in line.
The following are outcast devils of Avernus known by name:
- Armaros, "The Resolver of Enchantments," is a very skilled arcane spellcaster. His spellcasting power is rumored to be greater than any other devil, even Asmodeus.
- Azazel "the Serpent." Cast out of two successive dukedoms for his unbearable behaviour, Azazel is a scaly-skinned humanoid with a serpent's head and large scaled wings.
- Bist a female devil with a strong affinity with hellcats.
- Cahor, "The Deceiver." His main concern is creating chaos in Avernus, misinforming and conning all the ones he meets, in order to thwart and upset diabolic plans.
- Caim, a gossip loathed by all the arch-Dukes of Hell.
- Dagon, formerly known as Jaqon, his true name. Jaqon was the herald and messenger of Asmodeus.
- Duskur, "The Dark Lady", a ravishingly beautiful female-devil known to have spurned consortship offers from both Geryon and Belial.
- Herodias, former magistrate to Geryon.
- Kochbiel, an advanced pit-fiend, was the former marshal to the archdevil Beherit, the now-destroyed Lord of the Sixth.
- Malarea, acknowledged by all in Hell for her domineering personality.
- Nergal, who was Exiled to Avernus after being denied the control of Malbolge after the destruction of Beherit.
- Nisroch, "The Eagle", an observing, polite and mocking Duke. Known as the Poisoner of Hell, Nisroch was exiled to Avernus for killing the duke Senciner and nearly slaying Abigor.
- Rumjal, another former lieutenant to Geryon, exiled to Avernus for the molestation of Geryon's consort, Cozbi.
The original Lords of the Nine in the Dungeons & Dragons games, harking back to the first edition of the game, are as follows:
- Tiamat the Chromatic Dragon, Lord of Avernus.
- Dispater, Lord of Dis.
- Mammon, Lord of Minauros.
- Belial, Lord of Phlegethos.
- Geryon, Lord of Stygia.
- Baalzebul, Lord of Malbolge, through Grand Viceroy Moloch. It was revealed Beherit ruled Malbolge before Moloch did.
- Baalzebul, Lord of Maladomini.
- Mephistopheles, Lord of Caina (a typo in later editions officially changed the spelling of the layer to Cania).
- Asmodeus, Lord of Nessus.
In the second edition of the game, the Lords of the Nine were initially erased from the game. Later on, they were re-instated, but several of the members differed considerably from the original nine. After the initial period of second edition, an effort was made to bridge the changes; thus Baron Molikroth was revealed to actually be Mephistopheles in another guise, and Triel was revealed to be Baalzebul's name before he fell from grace. Late into the second edition and continuing into the third and current edition of the game, Fierana (later Fierna) became Belial's daughter.
Geryon and Moloch remain exiled and bereft of their former positions, and Tiamat's position has been clarified to explain that she was never a member of the Lords of the Nine, despite the very early inclusion of her as Lord of Avernus in the first edition.
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