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Asmodeus (pronounced: /æzmoʊˈdeɪʌs/ æz-mo-DAY-us listen or: /æzˈmoʊdiʌs/ æz-MO-dee-us listen), an archdevil before the Spellplague, Supreme of the Nine Hells (or Baator), was the god of sin. An ever ambitious and careful creature, Asmodeus retained his position all through the Reckoning of Hell, unlike many of the other archdevils. Asmodeus was lord of Nessus, the Ninth Layer of Hell, though he was generally recognized as lord of all of his divine dominion of Baator, which lay within the Astral Sea.
Asmodeus was the undisputed master of the Nine Hells, commanding fear and respect from all those who occupied his realm. Even the gods who dwelt in the Nine Hells gave Asmodeus his proper due. Though the archdevils might work to usurp him, few had the courage to act openly. Asmodeus’s machinations were long in the making, and they might take centuries, if not millennia, to see resolution. He worked on a grand scale, carefully constructing insidious and inexplicable intrigues, maneuvering the forces of wickedness like chess pieces on a board that encompasses all the planes. His core concerns were simple. First, he wanted the power structure currently in place to remain exactly as it stood, with him in charge. He had spies on every layer, planted in every court. No fiend knew for sure which of its minions actually served Asmodeus, so the climate was one of justified paranoia. Asmodeus also expanded evil. He directly opposed celestials and good-aligned deities. His minions combated the agents of the Celestial Planes, murdering them whenever and wherever they could. Finally, Asmodeus waged war against the demons throughout the period of the Blood War. He saw the untold legions as a direct threat to his supremacy. Asmodeus was aware of every plot hatched against him. Older than the oldest archdevil, he watched the rise and fall of other archdevils far craftier than any of Asmodeus’s contemporaries. He kept to himself, letting his minions stew in fear of what he would do next. Of course, few forgot that Asmodeus emerged unscathed in the Reckoning, proving to all that he was their better. On the Prime Material Plane, Asmodeus had more cultists than all the other archdevils combined. Mortals who worshiped devils actually drew power from Asmodeus. He influenced all levels of society and had followers of nearly every race, even within the strongest bastions for good. His path was the way to great and unattainable power, so his clerics were mighty men and women with influence and personal magnetism that made them natural leaders among their kind.
Asmodeus was depicted as the strongest, most cunning, and most handsome of all devils. Usually he appeared as a handsome, dangerous thirteen-foot-tall human with lustrous skin and black hair, his crimson eyes shining with infernal power, his forehead crowned by a pair of small, sharp horns. Beneath his finery- red and black robes studded with black diamonds and fiery rubies of unimaginable expense-  Asmodeus' body was covered in bloody wounds sustained when he fell from heaven. These wounds oozed blood daily; the drops of his blood which touched the ground grew into powerful devils and demons.
Asmodeus was never seen without his Ruby Rod of Asmodeus, seemingly made of a single carved ruby that shone with the power of Hell; it not only served as a badge of office, but contained great powers, allowing Asmodeus to attack with elemental forces, force his enemies to cower in fear, or cover himself with a field which healed and protected him.
Like the other archdevils of Baator, Asmodeus had the ability to cast many spells at will, and it was nearly impossible to hurt him without the use of very powerful holy magic weapons. Asmodeus' Ruby Rod allowed him to use several powerful offensive and defensive spells at will. In addition, Asmodeus had the power to alter the form of lesser devils, including the other lords of Baator. He transformed Mammon into a humanoid/serpent hybrid, and cursed Baalzebul with the form of a gigantic slug with tiny, useless arms.
In Dragon #28, the article "The Politics of Hell" by Alexander von Thorn details the history and politics of Hell. This gives a different history to that detailed below. Satan was more powerful than any other Devil, but lacked support, having been exiled from hell by Beelzebub following a revolution. Beelzebub (meaning "Lord of the Archdevils") was later himself overthrown by Asmodeus and was known forever after as Baalzebul (Lord of the Flies).
In the Book of Vile Darkness, it is stated that while Asmodeus is the oldest devil in the Nine Hells, he may not be the original ruler. However, the origin myth which appears in Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells contradicts this. According to the Codex, Asmodeus began as a servant of the lawful gods. Asmodeus is described in some versions of the myth as an "angel" (though this is self-contradictory given the time period during which this would have occurred). He was "the bravest, toughest, fiercest and most beautiful of angels." He and the other angels were created to fight the demons of the Abyss, so that the gods could concern themselves with creating worlds and sentient beings.
After eons of fighting the creatures from the Abyss, Asmodeus and some of his fellows began to change. They grew similar in appearance and methods to the demons which they fought. Afraid of his power and of the changes he had undergone, the gods put Asmodeus on trial and demanded that he be cast out of the Upper Planes. However, he argued effectively (and correctly) that he and his fellows had not violated the law. Asmodeus and his followers successfully sued for access to the Upper Planes and the honors to which they were entitled.
Once the gods created worlds and sentient beings, the demons attacked these, too. The gods created mountains, oceans, and wastelands to seal up the gates to the Abyss, but their creations defied their orders and explored their worlds, accidentally unsealing the gates. The gods could not understand why their creations did not follow their instructions, until Asmodeus explained to them that their system did not work because it relied solely upon voluntary compliance. Asmodeus explained that the only way to ensure obedience was to threaten mortals with a disincentive; hence, Asmodeus invented the concept of punishment.
Asmodeus convinced the gods to sign a contract called the Pact Primeval. This contract allowed Asmodeus and his fellow devils to take up residence in the abandoned realm of Baator, to punish the souls of wicked mortals, and to extract magical energy from the souls under their care in order to fuel their powers. Otherwise, Asmodeus reasoned, they would have to be granted the powers of godhood in order to do their job, which the current gods would surely find unacceptable.
At first, the gods found the arrangement agreeable. However, they eventually realized that fewer and fewer mortal souls were ascending to the Upper Planes, and Asmodeus was deliberately tempting mortals to damnation. When they arrived in Baator, the gods found that Asmodeus had turned it into a nightmarish world of endless suffering, filled with countless new devils. When called to account for his actions, Asmodeus uttered the famous words, "Read the fine print."
This story is presented as mythology, and the Codex itself admits that it does not tell the whole truth. For example, it is known that Asmodeus did not depart from the Upper Planes under amicable circumstances: He was cast out, and literally fell into the Lower Planes, sustaining serious wounds which have never healed. Part of Asmodeus' long-term plans includes using the magical energy harvested from souls in order to heal his wounds, and ultimately, the complete destruction of the Upper Planes.
The names of the "gods" involved seem to change depending on what world and source the myth is told on, and some aspects and versions of the origin myth contradict others. For example, the version told in the Fiendish Codex II states that St. Cuthbert became a distinct deity when he agreed with Asmodeus that "Retribution is the basis of all law," while the Deities & Demigods sourcebook states that he is a mortal who ascended to godhood.
The Manual of the Planes suggests a similar but different story. According to the section about the Nine Hells, Asmodeus' true form is that of a giant serpent, hundreds of miles long. He was cast out of the Upper Planes before the creation of the current gods, and his fall created the 8th and 9th planes of Hell. He is currently still recovering from his wounds in the pits of the 9th level, and his devil form is just an avatar of the real Asmodeus. No one who tells the story of the true form of Asmodeus survives more than 24 hours after the telling.
In the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, Asmodeus is established as an ancient deity who was relegated to the position of archdevil and toiled for untold millenia to regain his divinity.
When Dweomerheart collapsed in the wake of Mystra's death, her servant Azuth fell into the Hells where Asmodeus, sensing his opportunity, devoured the lesser deity and became a god himself. He then ended the Blood War by forcing the Abyss underneath the Elemental Chaos.
The following beings were among the most notable subjects of Asmodeus on Nessus. The forces at their disposal are listed, where appropriate:
- Adramalech — Chancellor of Hell, Keeper of Records
- Alastor the Grim, pit fiend — Executioner
- Baalberith, pit fiend — Major domo
- Bensozia — Consort of Asmodeus, Queen of Hell (Deceased)
- Buer — 15 companies of pit fiends
- Bune — 30 companies of cornugons
- Glasya - Daughter of Asmodeus and Bensozia, former Mistress of the Erinyes, now Lady of the Sixth
- Martinet, pit fiend — Constable
- Morax — 9 companies of pit fiends
- Phongor — Inquisitor of Hell
- Rimmon— 5 companies of gelugons
- The Spark Hunters - Lord Asmodeus's personal guard of 13 hamatula rangers/mortal hunters who capture and/or slay mortals who draw their master's ire
- Zagum — 30 companies of hamatula
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 to 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 the 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 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' 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 is never without his Ruby Rod, an artifact as old as time itself and symbol of office for the ruler of Nessus, and of Hell. A 4-foot shaft of solid ruby, the ruby rod was crafted from a single ruby of incredible size, bathed in the blood of a thousand mortal sacrifices, quenched in the acid drool of Tiamat, and polished with the tears of 777 angels. The rod itself functions as a weapon of epic power, delivering streams of vitriol, crackling death, or frigid wind. Its majesty often leaves creatures staring helplessly at it, and its magic can save its wielder from even the most grievous harm or ailment.
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 & Revisions to AsmodeusEdit
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.
- Frank Brunner (June 2004). “Strike on the Rabid Dawn”. Dungeon #111 (Paizo Publishing, LLC).
- Monte Cook (Oct 2002). Book of Vile Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-0672-3.
- Gary Gygax (December 1977). Monster Manual, 1st edition. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-9356-9600-8.
- Robin D. Laws, Robert J. Schwalb (December 2006). Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3940-0.
- Chris Pramas (1999). Guide to Hell. (TSR, Inc.). ISBN 978-0786914319.
4th Edition D&D
- Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 73. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 21,24–25. ISBN 978-0786965809.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 81. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- ↑ Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 59–60,62–63. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
- ↑ Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins, James Wyatt (2014). Dungeon Master's Guide 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 64–66. ISBN 978-0786965622.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 73. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- ↑ Logan Bonner (August, 2009). “Domains in Eberron and the Forgotten Realms”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #378 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 32.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Frank Mentzer (January 1985). “Ay pronunseeAYshun gyd”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #93 (TSR, Inc.), p. 25.
- ↑ Monte Cook (Oct 2002). Book of Vile Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 165. ISBN 0-7869-0672-3.
- ↑ Robin D. Laws, Robert J. Schwalb (December 2006). Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 73. ISBN 0-7869-3940-0.
- ↑ Monte Cook (Oct 2002). Book of Vile Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 121. ISBN 0-7869-0672-3.
- ↑ Robin D. Laws, Robert J. Schwalb (December 2006). Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 155. ISBN 0-7869-3940-0.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 12.8 Ed Greenwood (August 1983). “The Nine Hells, Part II”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #76 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 22–44.
- ↑ DeVarque, Aardy. Literary Sources of D&D. Archived from the original on 2005-02-19. Retrieved on 2007-07-30.
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|Deities of the Age of Humanity|
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|Other Deities of Faerûn|
|Auppenser | Abbathor | Arvoreen | Auril | Baervan Wildwanderer | Berronar Truesilver | Beshaba | Callarduran Smoothhands | Clangeddin Silverbeard | Cyrrollalee | Deep Duerra | Deep Sashelas | Dumathoin | Erevan Ilesere | Flandal Steelskin | Gond | Hanali Celanil | Helm | Ilmater | Isis | Labelas Enoreth | Laduguer | Lolth | Mask | Mielikki | Nephthys | Osiris | Rillifane Rallathil | Sehanine Moonbow | Segojan Earthcaller | Selûne | Set | Sharindlar | Sheela Peryroyl | Solonor Thelandira | Thoth | Tymora | Umberlee | Urdlen | Vergadain|