Sunday, October 24, 2010

AD&D Monster Manual part 8

Devils: With Demons out of the way, we go straight into their Lawful Evil counterparts, the Devils. Surprisingly, this is the first time that any devils have gotten stats. They’ve been mentioned in a couple of articles as inhabitants of Hell, but that’s it.

The main difference between demons and devils is that devils adhere to a strict hierarchy that they don’t want to break in case they piss off an Archfiend. There’s a lot of rivalry and in-fighting that goes on, but it’s probably more political than what goes on in the Abyss.

Devils can roam Hell, Gehenna, Hades and Acheron at will (though somewhat amusingly, it is said that they dare not do so with out the proper permission). They can also enter the Astral Plane.

As with demons, the most powerful sorts can only be killed in their home plane. They can never be subdued, but can be commanded if the proper precautions are taken (magic circles, contracts, that sort of thing). There’s a very nice bit that says that any greater devil that has its material form destroyed becomes a lemure and is tormented for 90 years before resuming its former station. (More on lemures below.) An Arch-Devil so destroyed is bound to its home plane for 10 years.

Devils have talismans that function similarly to the Demons’ amulets, allowing the bearer to demand service from an Arch-Devil. An evil character using one must make human sacrifices, and even looking at one without the proper protection could summon the devil it is attuned to.

Of all the devils, only Erinyes, Barbed Devils and Bone Devils can be hit by normal weapons. The rest need a silver or magical weapon to be damaged.

All devils have the following spell-like abilities: charm person, suggestion, illusion, infravision, teleport without error, know alignment, cause fear, and animate dead. The inclusion of the charm and suggestion abilities are good flavour for the classic devilish tempters, and the rest are suitable as well. They can also gate in their buddies and speak telepathically, just like demons.

Devils get a number of immunities: half damage from cold and poison gas, and immunity to fire. Unlike demons, iron weapons have no special effect on them (but silver weapons can hit them, as noted above).

Asmodeus: The archetypal ‘handsome devil’, Asmodeus is the absolute ruler of Hell. He lives in a palace at the floor of the lowest rift in Hell’s ninth plane, served by pit-fiends. Apparently he can command all of the arch-devils to come and pay homage to him once per year, which could make for a very tough high level adventure – infiltrate the palace of Asmodeus while all the arch-devils are in attendance!

Asmodeus has a shit-ton of special abilities: pyrotechnics, produce flame, wall of fire, ice storm, wall of ice, continual light, read languages, read magic, detect invisible, locate object, invisibility, dispel magic, hold person, hold monster, mass charm, geas, restoration, raise dead fully (note the OD&D terminology) and shape change. He also has the following abilities derived from magic items: beguile and rulership, and he can fulfil the wish of another being. Presumably he can’t do so for another devil, or the guy would be in charge of every damn thing in the universe already. On top of all that he can use a bunch of symbols and unholy word once a day, and he can summon 2 lesser or one greater devils. His gaze causes fear and weakness, slows you by half and imposes a -5 penalty to all dice rolls. In other words, you’re in trouble.

Not only that, but they guy has a ruby rod that acts as a rod of absorption (lets him absorb and redirect spells), causes serious wounds, and can shoot cold, acid or lightning that acts like a dragon’s breath. And just so you know, the guy has 199 hit points, so good luck surviving that even if you make your saving throw. This thing is worth 1,000,000 gold pieces just based on the gems alone, so god knows what it would be worth if you factor its magic powers in.

Baalzebul (Lord of the Flies): This guy, with his awesome fly-eyes, is the ruler of the sixth and seventh planes of Hell (called Malbolge and Maladomini respectively). Malbolge is said to be ‘a black stone plane, filled with stinking vapors, smokes, fire pits, and huge caves and caverns’. Maladomini is pretty much the same, but it also has moated castles that are home to the Malebranche Devils, and Baalzebul’s own fortress. It’s nice to be getting some details on Hell.

Baalzebul gets basically the same set of special abilities that Asmodeus has, and he can summon 1-4 horned devils. His glance causes fear and weakness, but it doesn’t sock you with that -5 penalty that Asmodeus does.

Barbed Devils: These guys are covered in barbs and spikes, as their name implies. They live in the third and fourth planes of Hell, and are excellent guards due to their inability to be surprised. (The only detail we get about these planes is that there are apparently many cells there.) They cause fear with a blow, and can cast the following spells: pyrotechnics, produce flame and hold person. They can also gate in another barbed devil.

Bone Devil: These skeletal devils live mostly on the fifth plane of Hell (which is presumably icy given the preferences noted in the description below). Their defining trait seems to be cruelty, as they enjoy the suffering of less powerful creatures. In battle they pin opponents with a gigantic hook then sting them with their tail, which drains 1-4 Strength points. We also get the first mention of ultravision, which means they see light in the ultraviolet spectrum. Is this like the Predator? I’m not exactly certain. They can generate fear, create illusion, fly, turn invisible, detect invisible, summon another bone devil, and create a wall of ice.

Dispater: Another Archdevil, Dispater rules the second level of Hell. The level is named Dis, as is the iron city that he rules from. His palace is described as ‘infernally grand’, which is pretty cool. The city of Dis is mostly filled with zombies, erinyes, barbed devils and malebranche. His powers are much like those of Asmodeus above. His rod is much weaker than Asmodeus’, though – it works like a rod of rulership, as well as a staff of striking that deals 4-24 damage.

Erinyes: These female demons are mostly found in Dis, though they are commonly sent forth to gather souls. In combat they use poisoned daggers, and each of them carries a rope of entanglement to capture their prey. They’re very strong and have a number of spell-like abilities – cause fear, detect invisible, locate object, invisibility, polymorph self, produce flame – and they can summon another of their kind.

Geryon: This is yet another Archdevil, who has a humanoid torso on a snake’s body, and he is also called the Wild Beast. He rules the fifth plane of Hell from a huge castle that he rarely ventures out of. He’s very strong, and also has a poisonous tail. He also has a ton of spell-like abilities, most of them the same as Asmodeus. He also has a horn with which he can summon minotaurs. That’s an odd one, but it does make me reconsider just where minotaurs came from.

Malebranche (Horned Devil): These guys kind of look like gargoyles. They live in Hell’s sixth and seventh plane, and seem to occupy an unenviable position – too powerful to escape notice, but not powerful enough to match the stronger devils. They have sort of derogatory names like “Dogretch”, though I doubt these are their true names.

In combat they used pitchforks and whips, which is very classic devil imagery. Their spell-like abilities are pyrotechnics, produce flame, ESP, detect magic, illusion, wall of fire, and they can summon another of their kind.

Ice Devil: These insectoid devils live on the frigid eighth plane of Hell. They get the following spell-like abilities: fly, wall of ice, detect magic, detect invisible, polymorph self, and they can gate in ice devils or bone devils. I’m kind of struggling to see where these guys fit, actually. Given that devil society is supposed to be very structured, I was expecting a bit more detail on how the various types relate to each other. Most of the others are pretty well defined, but Ice Devils are sort of nebulous at the moment.

Lemure: These vaguely humanoid blobs are actually the spirits of the dead who inhabit Hell. They generally exist just to be tortured by the other devils, and they can only be killed permanently by blessed or holy weapons. Some of them get turned into wraiths or spectres after a long time in Hell, which doesn’t sound like a great improvement. It’s not a position with a lot of upward mobility, I’m afraid.

Pit Fiend: Aside from the Archdevils, these guys are the most powerful of the devils. They live in the lowest plane, and are the personal servants of Asmodeus. In combat they wield spiked clubs and ‘an ancus-like weapon’. This is an ancus.



They also have a tail that can constrict, and their strength is equivalent to an ogre.

Spell-like abilities are: pyrotechnics, produce flame, wall of fire, detect magic, detect invisible, polymorph self, hold person, symbol of pain, and they can gate in barbed devils or another pit fiend.

4 comments:

Justin said...

I find it interesting that these extra-planar creatures all have psionic powers. What does that say about people with psionic powers, that only celestial beings have them? to me, it screams, bloodline of the gods! or devils... Lots of hooks there.

Nathan P. Mahney said...

That's a good point, and I never noticed that. You've got devils and demons with psionic powers. And then there are mind flayers, which are often linked to the Lovecraft mythos and horrors from outside of space and time. So perhaps the further away you are from the Prime Material, the more likely you are to have psionics?

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Pere Ubu said...

Malebranche are taken from the devils in Dante's Inferno, where they actually did have names like "Bad Dog", "Sneering Dragon", "Curly Beard" and "Evil Tail". (Malebranche is Italian for "bad claw"). So "Dogretch" isn't much of a stretch.