Asmodeus (pronounced: /æzmˈdʌsæz-mo-DAY-us[20] about this audio file listen or: /æzˈmdiʌsæz-MO-dee-us[20] about this audio file listen) was the Faerûnian deity of indulgence[21] and ruler of all devils.[5] Asmodeus was a patron of oppression and power, the greatest devil, and the Lord of the Ninth and overlord of the Nine Hells as a whole.[22]

I am known by many names. The Lord of Nessus. The Raging Fiend. But you know me as―
— Asmodeus[23]

Description

Asmodeus's true form was that of a wingless scaled serpent hundreds of miles long. His form's sheer size made it impossible for him to meet and enter into conversations with others. Therefore, he created humanoid-looking avatars. The location of his body was kept secret from everyone, including other devils[24] and everyone who learnt of the truth about his body was killed within a day.[25]

Asmodeus never showed himself except through avatars or project image, both in humanoid forms.[26] Asmodeus's avatars looked like a slim, charismatic, red-skinned humanoid over 13 feet (4 meters) tall, with horns on his head and glowing red eyes. Overall, he had charismatic and beautiful looks that captivated people. He always had a perfectly trimmed beard and wore very expensive red and black clothing, which were valuable enough to cover the annual national spending of any nation. However, underneath these expensive garments, the body was wracked with bleeding injuries. While he was in pain, he managed to give the impression of someone unconcerned with the pain the injuries caused him. He could manifest ten avatars at once if needed, allowing him to station one on each layer of Hell if he needed to, with a tenth leftover for managing extraplanar duties. Each of his avatars held a Ruby Rod of Asmodeus.[27][5][28]

Personality

Asmodeus was a lawful evil creature with the goal of becoming the supreme being in the multiverse even if it required destroying the current multiverse and creating a new one. While the method he wanted to use to achieve this goal was not publicly known, and the only one who had the necessary knowledge to piece the method together hoped that it was not the one Asmodeus wanted to use,[29] that Asmodeus wanted to take over the multiverse for himself was a known fact. He genuinely believed that a bright future awaited the multiverse if he was to rule it. As arrogant as this claim sounded, Asmodeus had the competence to back it up.[30]

When faced directly, he presented himself as a confident and eloquent man who was quite reasonable to talk with.[28] In fact, it was quite difficult to see past his manners and realise that he was an evil person best left in Hell.[9] His confidence was real and rooted in his knowledge to be one of the most powerful creatures in existence. However, he was not above pretending to know more than he did. Thus, he pretended to not just know but also foresee the actions of people who genuinely surprised him.[28]

His threshold for rewarding someone was fairly low, provided that someone was willing to sign away his or her soul. Once the mortal worshiper was dead, what awaited him or her was eternal servitude.[31]

Abilities

Asmodeus, chief of the Lords of the Nine.

Asmodeus was a greater deity. However, he was older than the concept of faith and the power of deities like him neither waxed nor waned with the number of worshipers and, beyond himself, he had no ability to grant spells to his followers.[32] However, there was one way for mortals to gain spells from him, by becoming a disciple of darkness.[33] On the mortal side, this agreement meant that the archdevil could take the life of the mortal at any time he wanted if he was not appeased with sacrifices. The mortal generally did not need to meet any strictures like a dogma or the like and could cast divine magic with impunity.[34] The method through which Asmodeus granted spells was not through his own powers but through using himself as a channel for the divine magic of Baator itself to the mortal cleric.[33] After eating Azuth, he could grant spells by himself to his followers and sentient sacrifices stopped being a necessary part of his worship.[35]

However, like any other greater deity, he could create up to ten avatars. He deployed one on each layer of Baator to keep tabs on the layers while keeping one spare avatar. His ability to send avatars to the Prime Material plane was stunted. He could send only one avatar at a time to the Prime and doing this made it impossible for him to maintain all other avatars. This was the reason why Asmodeus's avatar was rarely seen on the Prime and he preferred to work through other people.[32]

Everyone within 120 feet (37 meters) of Asmodeus's avatar was under the effect of an awe effect that made it impossible for people to attack him when they were not attacked first by the avatar.[27]

He could cast animate dead, blasphemy, charm monster, create greater undead, desecrate, detect magic, devil's ego, discern location, dominate monster, fiendish quickening, geas, greater dispelling, hellfire, hellfire storm, magic circle against good, major image, mass charm, project image, restoration, resurrection, suggestion,[5] symbol of hopelessness, symbol of pain, symbol of persuasion,[27] teleport without error, true seeing, unholy aura, unholy blight, unhallow, wall of ice, and wretched blight as often as he wanted, and any power word, any symbol spell, meteor swarm, true resurrection, and wish once per day. He had also the spellcasting ability of a master cleric with the Diabolic and Evil domains.[36] Limited to when he was in Baator, he could cast practically any spell he wanted as an exercise of will. He had absolute control over the Nine Hells and with his mind he could change the landscape of any layer in any way he wanted when he wanted. This control over form extended to the archdevils too, being able to change their forms any way he wanted. For example, he changed Baalzebul's formerly beautiful form into that of a giant slug. People were not sure whether he could kill an archdevil with a mere thought. Some suspected that he could do so and was responsible for Hag Countess's sudden and weird death this way.[37] Those people were correct; Asmodeus could, and did, kill the Hag Countess.[9]

His protective abilities were impressive. It was impossible to harm him with spells below a certain level of complexity, as well as poison, paralysis, petrification, magic dealing with death, illusions, and attempts to influence his mind. Physically, it was impossible to hurt him with even enchanted weapons that were not at least +4.[27] However, even when hurt by such a weapon, if the weapon was not holy or otherwise blessed, the wounds immediately healed.[38]

He mostly fought, which happened rarely, by using the powers of the Ruby Rod instead of his own. He had magical abilities that allowed him to slow people while decreasing their physical combat capability or to instill fear while sapping physical strength by merely looking at somebody. His voice carried an irresistible suggestion that made people subservient to him for ten to a hundred days. He had a preference for using these abilities to make people flee from him or turn subservient rather than outright killing them. In case these abilities did not work, Asmodeus had a strong tendency to retreat and let his minions deal with his enemies. He could summon a pit fiend or two specimens of any kind of devil[36] every hour.[27]

Like any other devil of authority, Asmodeus had the ability to demote any officially subservient devil—that is, any devil in his case—at his whim.[39] He was the only devil with the ability to promote a devil to archdevil status.[10]

Asmodeus was the underlying power of infernal contracts. This was the reason why breaking a contract with the weakest devil still had the power to consign the oathbreaker's soul into the Nine Hells.[40]

Asmodeus's rhetoric and strategic skills were considered a class unto itself.[30]

Possessions

Each of Asmodeus's avatars held a Ruby Rod of Asmodeus as a badge of office. It also served as the avatar's main weapon[27] and allowed attacks with elemental forces, forced enemies to cower in fear, or provided the holder with a field of healing and protection. In fact, when facing combat, an avatar of Asmodeus primarily fought using the powers of his Ruby Rod instead of its innate powers.[41]

Asmodeus had a private army called the Nessian Guard, which kept ready for a great battle. This army consisted of devils that were created from Asmodeus's blood[42] and were truly loyal to him. Over the years, their numbers grew and if Asmodeus managed to heal his wounds and get out of Baator, this army of pit fiends and cornugons would follow.[43]

He owned one of the original copies of the Pact Primeval. Asmodeus's duty was to prevent anyone from taking it away from Baator, no matter the cost, as it was the basis on which he and the devils were allowed to damn mortals. To make transportation difficult, Asmodeus actually enclosed the document in a giant ruby weighing over 20 tons (18,000 kilograms).[44]

Divine Realm

Asmodeus ruled the entire plane of the Nine Hells of Baator. His seat of power was Nessus, the ninth layer. His serpentine body lay at the bottom of a rift called the Serpent's Coil. However, the denizens of this plane did not know about it. The blood that his wounded body gave off turned into new cornugons and pit fiends,[43] usually the latter.[45] Through this means, he built a great army, which was stationed in Malsheem, a giant fortress so large that it was considered unmappable.[43]

Being a man to whom his privacy and safety were important, he usually remained within his fortress of Malsheem, primarily using other people to make his will clear to others.[30] The other archdevils were annually called to Malsheem.[5] Asmodeus had a huge store of souls in the citadel, and these could be bought from him at an extremely high cost, rumored to be entire kingdoms for one soul.[9]

By devil law, only Asmodeus could issue letters of safe passage that did not just cover one layer but for travel between layers. However, he never issued such things for Nessus.[46]

Activities

As mentioned above, Asmodeus was a greater deity for whom mortal worship was not required to maintain his powers, who predated the concept of faith, and who could not grant spells, while few extant races remembered his godhood. Thus he posed as a non-divine entity in order to conduct his various plans[3] in a covert and manipulative manner. He was willing to pay attention to the fate of individual mortals and not just the grand scheme of things.[5] That said, Asmodeus was effectively freed from the infernal duty of meeting a quota of damned souls, because every damned soul was damned under Asmodeus's name and therefore every soul was also beholden to him. His efforts to corrupt others were concentrated on important people like angels and demigods with the goal of turning them into unique devils, such as Zariel.[30]

All his plans were done with the goal to destroy the entire construct of the Outer Planes. Asmodeus's fall into the Nine Hells and the ancient struggle with Jazirian caused him severe wounds and basically created the underlying laws of the Great Wheel cosmology, which drained his powers. Restoring his powers required the healing of his wounds. However, the nourishment needed to heal his wounds was the souls of disbelievers, not agnostics but true atheists. These souls were special. Normally, when a person died, that person's soul became a petitioner on one of the Outer Planes.[29] For example, in Toril's case, the souls became petitioners on the Fugue Plane.[47] However, to become a petitioner, a person needed to have faith, which atheists lacked, and their souls arrived at Nessus regardless of their moral and ethical outlook. This was practically unknown to mortals, as the common assumption was that souls of true atheists would not become petitioners, an exception to the rule that souls went where their deities awaited them. Asmodeus ate these souls to heal his wounds. Once healed, he could take back his power from the planes, dissolving the underlying law of the multiverse, causing the (for him) preferable result of reverting everything to the initial state of chaos. He was sure that he alone would survive such an event and remain as the only force that could create a new order according to his will.[29]

Asmodeus was also the inventor of the Infernal language.[48]

When it came to torturing souls, Asmodeus mostly outsourced it to the city of Jangling Hiter in Minauros.[49]

When demons tried to invade Baator, they first had to go through the first layer, Avernus. A substantial part of Asmodeus's military efforts were dedicated to driving these demons away from the layer.[30]

Phlegethos was where the infernal justice system was situated. Asmodeus made sure that this justice system was not independent, but beholden to Asmodeus.[50]

The Blood War

Asmodeus leading an infernal force into the Abyss.

The Blood War was often described as a kind of philosophical war to determine whether law or chaos should have the ultimate say over evil. But Asmodeus knew the truth, for he was present at its beginning. The war was simply the result of a violent first contact between devils and demons that after various acts of retribution grew into a wasteful war.[51] However, what made demons react in such hostile ways towards devils were Asmodeus's own actions: during the Dawn War, he stole a shard of evil from the Abyss to craft the Ruby Rod of Asmodeus from it, and the Abyss wanted the shard back.[52]

Asmodeus understood how senseless the Blood War was. However, because others commonly ascribed deeper meaning to it, he exploited it as a cloak to shroud his intentions. The Lord of Lies annually summoned the Dark Eight to Nessus to issue orders on how to conduct the Blood War in the coming year. The pit fiends honestly believed their lord saw value in the Blood War, which kept Asmodeus's armies motivated and sharp, his underlings busy, and his enemies looking for meaning in a war without one.[51]

I literally sit beneath eight tiers of scheming ambitious entities that represent primal law suffused with evil. The path from this realm leads to an infinite pit of chaos and evil. Now, tell me again how you and your ilk are the victims in this eternal struggle?
— Asmodeus addressing the celestial jury in The Trial of Asmodeus[53]

But, all said, for Asmodeus, the Blood War was not a trivial matter. He was well aware of the danger the demons represented for the continued existence of the multiverse. If they were not kept busy with the Blood War, they would eventually take over the multiverse, kill everybody living in it, and finally kill each other into extinction.[54] One of Asmodeus's goals regarding the demons was to get them under his control. He'd already stolen one shard of evil; his goal was to steal the entire thing from the bottom of the Abyss. Such an act would give him control over the entire demonic race.[52] Asmodeus hated the gods of the upper planes for essentially leaving the devils alone to do the dirty work of keeping them and the multiverse safe from the demons. He intended to take them down after taking down the demons and conquering the planes of law. However, Asmodeus exempted himself from the duty of providing soldiers and other aid to fight the Blood War.[55]

One way he intended to deal with the Blood War was to change its supposed objective from a struggle of law versus chaos struggle to one of good versus evil. Towards that goal, Asmodeus intended to strike a bargain, more precisely, a temporary cease-fire, with the demons. This cease-fire only had to last long enough for him to organize matters that would eventually turn the Blood War into a good versus evil struggle that would serve his ends in causing destruction on the upper planes.[28] His devils continually damned souls to Baator in order to turn them into new devils and with it expand the infernal army.[40]

Infernal Politics

Asmodeus had many underlings, starting with the archdevils. These creatures politicked against each other in a lawful evil manner and this once spilled over to affect Asmodeus in the Reckoning of Hell, reinforcing his choice of not being a god. However, it was all a charade concocted by the Lord of Lies. By acting in a lawful evil manner on a lawful evil plane, the devils under Asmodeus followed the rules by which denizens of every other Outer Plane acted. Asmodeus did not intend to further belief but the lack thereof. His underlings' actions served as a smokescreen to hide his true intentions from others.[29]

That said, to Asmodeus, infernal politics were important. One of his focuses was maintaining the status quo, meaning keeping himself at the top of Hell's pecking order. Towards that end, he infiltrated the courts of every archdevil to levels that made them paranoid for no devil could be sure whether an associate was a spy working for Asmodeus or not.[26]

As a general rule, Asmodeus was not forthcoming about his plans. However, he was by far the most accomplished devil when it came to intrigue and devils pointed to the result of the Reckoning when they wanted proof of their overlord's superiority.[26]

Usually, he outsourced his work to devils below him in the full knowledge that they desired his position.[10]

Spreading Disbelief

Asmodeus wanted to turn people away from belief. He maintained working relationships with evil deities, giving infernal aid in return for supplying his followers with spells in his stead, so said followers could increase their numbers through the display of magical aid. These cults were dedicated to either infernal entities or completely made-up ones in order to gain a following in a specific group or people. When Asmodeus wanted souls to heal his wounds, he directed his allies to stop granting magic to his own followers when the cult's numbers were at their peak to deliberately cause the decline of the cult. While the majority turned to other religions, some lost faith in religion altogether, becoming disbelievers and therefore food for Asmodeus. Asmodeus considered it a particular success when such despairing cults turned to suicide.[56]

A second tactic to increase the number of disbelievers was to supply the Athar with aid. This was a school of thought (one that came into being without Asmodeus's doing) that posited that gods were not gods but just another form of powerful creature. Asmodeus aided this faction in a covert manner, and the Athar had no clue that the Lord of Lies was on their side.[56]

A third tactic was to make mortals disillusioned with the gods. Contrary to common belief, gods were not omnipotent and were as capable of pettiness as mortals were and Asmodeus fanned such feelings through his manipulations among the gods. Such manipulations were very subtle and took centuries to bear fruit. The Lord of Lies's goal was not to make the gods kill each other directly, but to make the gods pit their followers against each other, thus showing mortals that the gods were petty and turning them away from worship.[57]

Relationships

Deities

Asmodeus had working relationships with evil deities who supplied his followers with spells, for he could not do it himself, in return for his aid in their endeavors.[56] Baatorian deities were quite respectful around him.[5]

The lawful deities and Asmodeus had an ancient agreement called the Pact Primeval that, among other things, allowed his devils to corrupt mortals and wring divine magic from their souls. From time to time, rumors about various lawful deities allying to take over Baator from Asmodeus popped up, but never amounted to anything. Lawful deities were not really capable of changing the status quo and, even if they were, the ability to agree on who was to take control of the Nine Hells was beyond them.[58] Like the gods, Asmodeus did not want an open war either.[59]

Asmodeus kept Tiamat's influence small. Among other things, he took away control of Avernus from her.[60] In fact, she was contractually imprisoned by Asmodeus.[9]

Among the duergar deities, Asmodeus had a special contract with Laduguer: the Archfiend would provide aid for duergar so they could free themselves from the mind flayers, while the Taskmaster promised that the freed slaves would be a force antagonistic to Lolth and other forces of the Abyss. According to a duergar legend, when the two made this deal, Asmodeus tried to make Laduguer show emotion with jokes and the like, but the Taskmaster never laughed, even when he got the deal he wanted.[61] The duergar were also victims of impersonation by Asmodeus. He pretended to be one of their gods in order to stir up their desire for vengeance and tyranny.[62]

Devils

Asmodeus was baatezu and the creator of the baatezu. It was from his blood the first of them arose. He was an entity that outranked both common and noble baatezu and fell in a category onto himself, but was still a devil like the others.[63] Among the devils, Asmodeus ruled supreme and made his superiority publicly clear in an event called the Reckoning of Hell[5] and every single devil served Asmodeus either directly or via a line of authority back to Asmodeus from its position in the infernal hierarchy.[64] One exception to this rule was the abishai, who ultimately served Tiamat. Asmodeus was only their commander when he personally assigned them tasks. However, abishai knew that while disobeying Tiamat's orders could potentially spell their doom, disobeying Asmodeus's orders did so for sure.[65]

Among greater devils, Asmodeus was the default authority to report to. Every time a devil had an opportunity for promotion to greater devilhood, they needed the approval of a superior, an archdevil. When a devil was not sure to whom it was supposed to report, Asmodeus was the one they had to choose. Asmodeus was also the source of the divine magic the devils used alongside the archdevils.[66]

Asmodeus ruled supreme among the archdevils. He annually called the archdevils (including Levistus) to his court.[5] When the position of an archdevil needed to be filled for some reason, it was Asmodeus's right to choose the new one. His choice was always one of the unique devils who stood above the greater devils but below the archdevils.[66] The archdevils themselves wanted to topple Asmodeus from his throne and take over his position as ruler of hell. However, since the Reckoning, they had to admit that Asmodeus was superior to them and caved in. In practice, none of them had the courage to move openly against him.[67] The archdevils of note who directly served Asmodeus were as follows.

According to one myth of dubious veracity, Baalzebul, an archon called Triel, was seduced by Asmodeus into entering Baator and became a powerful devil.[68] Baalzebul was originally Asmodeus's favorite archdevil, until he was a leading figure in the Reckoning. After he lost, he was allowed to hold his position, but was turned into a slug-like creature,[69] cursed to remain in this form for one year for every lie he told to a devil, with the lies told before his transformation counted.[70] The two had a strange working relationship regarding their cults. Baalzebul was the choice for the downtrodden and rebels and Asmodeus was the choice for those in a position to grasp for power. So, occasionally, after Baalzebul's cultists destroyed a given community's power structure, Baalzebul and Asmodeus would exchange temples for Baalzebul's cultists were good at destroying power structures but bad at maintaining or creating them, whereas Asmodeus's cultists were good at it. This arrangement gave Asmodeus a place to expand his influence and Baalzebul a place with a power structure to destroy.[2] From time to time, Asmodeus provided Baalzebul with unexplained favors, possibly because he still saw value in this known traitor.[9] That said, Asmodeus also issued a decree that made contract-partners of Baalzebul end up in a bad way as a result of the contract, so other devils avoided making deals with him.[71] Baalzebul tried to prove his usefulness to Asmodeus and hurt his rivals, Dispater and Mephistopheles, by using his spy network to dredge up some evidence of them having rebellious intentions.[68]

When Bel betrayed his master Zariel, Asmodeus struck a bargain with him, where Bel had to dedicate himself to the Blood War to be spared punishment. Bel accepted and Asmodeus gained a lord for Avernus who'd be consumed by his duties in the Blood War with no time to plot treachery.[72] Asmodeus decreed that other archdevils must aid Bel with various resources in the Blood War,[73] but Bel's reputation as a traitor made it impossible for him to find allies.[72] Thus, Bel was a curiosity who put Asmodeus and the good of Baator above the good of himself.[74] Bel tried to curry favor with Asmodeus by supplying information about other archdevils provided by his spies in their courts, but this was rarely news for Asmodeus.[72]

After the Reckoning, Belial was forced by Asmodeus to hand over his position to his daughter Fierna.[75] He once had plans to start a civil war within Baator by invading Stygia and Malbolge, but had to abandon these when Asmodeus chose his daughter as Malbolge's archdevil, for invading her turf would bring about Asmodeus's anger.[76]

In the Pact Primeval version of Asmodeus's origin myth, Dispater was Asmodeus's companion since before they even went to Baator.[77] He was cowed by Asmodeus after the Reckoning and he could not be convinced to go against his master again.[78] After the Second Sundering, Dispater garnered himself a reputation of loyalty towards Asmodeus.[9]

Glasya was Asmodeus's daughter and he was a caring father towards her—at least for a devil. Moving against her was something to be done in a covert fashion lest it look like moving against Asmodeus himself. That said, Glasya was quite an impudent daughter. She tried to avoid working for him, but came to terms with him after the Reckoning and was rewarded by becoming an archdevil with Malbolge as her personal layer. Asmodeus allowed her to hire whomever she wanted for her personal staff, even to headhunting from other archdevils. She made aggressive use of this privilege and became disliked by other archdevils.[79] However, Asmodeus constrained his daughter by decreeing that Glasya was only allowed to obtain souls by legal means, so she had to find loopholes and the like in contracts, laws, and other legalities.[70]

Graz'zt was an archdevil employed by Asmodeus as an advisor.[80] However, after conquering three layers of the Abyss, he broke away and became a demon lord. Whether he had severed all ties with Asmodeus's and if he had, whether it would remain such was not known.[81]

Levistus was culpable in killing Bensozia, Asmodeus's consort, for which he was imprisoned in ice. After the Reckoning, Asmodeus re-instituted him as the lord of Stygia.[82] According to a theory Levistus believed, this was a ploy by Asmodeus to let his schemes be a distracting element in infernal politics. When he elevated Glasya to archdevil status, Levistus's scheming was a smokescreen to hide this political move and Levistus's predecessor Geryon's power was handed to her, leading to the theory. Believing it, Levistus felt himself at risk of punishment should he not rein in his scheming, but increased his scheming nonetheless. One of his goals was win Asmodeus's trustees over.[83] He was still subject to Asmodeus and had the ironic duty to offer desperate people, especially those whose life was in danger, an escape from dangerous situations.[50]

The Malagarde, the Hag Countess, was made lord of Malbolge by Asmodeus after the Reckoning. She knew that Asmodeus's power was too much for her to overcome and did nothing against him. She tried to become a deity instead.[84] Installing a night hag as an archdevil was perplexing, if not infuriating, to other devils. However, Malagarde was merely a placeholder for Glasya once father and daughter had come to terms in the Reckoning. When this happened, the Hag Countess's body bloated and remodeled the layer.[85]

Mammon was the first archdevil to surrender to Asmodeus once it was clear the Reckoning was a failure. As well as begging for leniency in a reportedly embarrassing manner, he changed his shape, it was believed, to signify to Asmodeus that he was reborn. He once had a relationship with Glasya, but after the Reckoning, Asmodeus forbade Mammon to continue it.[86]

In the Pact Primeval version of Asmodeus's origin myth, Mephistopheles was Asmodeus's companion since before they went to Baator. He was once a subcontractor of Asmodeus as an object of worship, but handed this job to others to create his own cult dedicated to himself as the patron of hellfire. He not only wanted to take over Asmodeus's position, he believed he was fated to do so, but his excessive confidence revealed his intention to Asmodeus. Scholars wondered why no punishment followed and theorized that Asmodeus considered Mephistopheles's claims nothing short of delusions. On one hand, Mephistopheles wasted most of his energy on combating Baalzebul, whom he hated. It was believed that, as long as the Mephistopheles was plotting against Baalzebul, Asmodeus was safe from Mephistopheles. He was an adept user of hellfire, a tool so powerful it might play a role in ousting Asmodeus, but while he was worshiped as the god of hellfire by mortals, many could not tell the difference between Asmodeus and Mephistopheles and confused the latter with the former, something that frustrated Mephistopheles.[87] Asmodeus and Mephistopheles were first and second in maintaining bloodlines and pacts of warlocks with mortals.[88] As an advisor to Asmodeus, despite being effectively an enemy, Mephistopheles was trusted and his advice was given weight by Asmodeus. Mephistopheles was Asmodeus's closest serious contender and he knew it, so he waited until Asmodeus made some catastrophic mistake he could exploit.[9] Despite this, one job Mephistopheles was assigned to do by Asmodeus was to guard Nessus from intruders.[71]

Mortals

A disciple of Asmodeus.

Asmodeus didn't need mortal worship to either maintain or enhance his power, but rather wanted to lure mortals to atheism to receive their souls and heal his wounds.[89] Nevertheless, Asmodeus had a large following, much larger than any other infernal cult combined, such that his was often the first choice for prospective devil-worshipers.[90] Furthermore, every diabolic cult was viewed as a subdivision of Asmodeus's cult and ultimately swore allegiance to him and not the entity it followed. In fact, what boons the other cults could provide was not determined by their archdevils but by Asmodeus.[91]

While Asmodeus maintained cults dedicated to fictional entities,[56] those cults in which he was worshiped as himself fell into a category called a revealed cult. Their followers understood that their object of worship was a devil.[17]

To members of these cults, signing up meant to join a secret mutual-aid society. Members helped each other into positions of influence and affluence.[17] Their prime motivation for joining was greed, and it began by making a pact with Asmodeus that consigned their soul to the Nine Hells on death.[92] Leaders who proved their worth were given the ability to drain vitality from an ally.[93]

The majority of cultists were dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, and humans.[17] Asmodeus also tried to make inroads into hobgoblins and other peoples with a lawful evil outlook.[88]

Tieflings who descended from Asmodeus were were considered the standard of the race.[94] However, "descended" did not necessarily mean that these tieflings could trace back their ancestry to Asmodeus, as around the time of the Spellplague, a ritual was conducted that gave all tieflings of Toril the so-called mark of Asmodeus, which turned them into effective descendants of his.[95]

Asmodeus was also a supplier of pacts for warlocks[96] and a tiefling's or half-fiend's warlock pact was most likely one made with him.[88]

Vassals

The following beings were among the most notable subjects of Asmodeus on Nessus. The forces at their disposal are listed, where appropriate:

History

The origins of Asmodeus were not very clear. Various stories existed that even disagreed on what kind of lifeform Asmodeus actually was.[citation needed]

Origin Story: Serpent of Law

This story positioned Asmodeus's origins at the very dawn of time. Called Ahriman at the time, he arose from the primordial chaos as the mightiest of the lawful gods, with Jazirian the only one who could rival him. These two were both serpent-form gods and they set their minds on ordering the multiverse in a lawful way.[98]

Towards that end, the two serpent gods bit each others' tails, forming a circle that defined the borders of a new plane. Born from the soup of chaos through the interaction of the two most powerful entities of law, one evil and the other good, formed the neutral plane of the Outlands. The other Outer Planes arrayed themselves around its circular border, forming the Great Wheel cosmology, and the concept of the Unity of Rings was created. The next law the two created was the Rule of Three in honor of their three aspects: evil, good, and law. However, when they had to decide a center for the multiverse, they disagreed. The Outlands were the ideal place but lawful good Jazirian wanted Celestia to be the center, while lawful evil Ahriman wanted Baator to be it. They tugged each other and bit each others' tail tips off. Unlike Jazirian, Ahriman was a scaled serpent without wings and therefore fell into the Nine Hells. He crashed into Nessus and created the deep fissure called the Serpent's Coil before his fall halted. There, his serpentine bleeding body lay bleeding, and from the blood arose the first baatezu.[98]

Having failed to choose a center for the multiverse, the two lawful entities had effectively honored chaos by making every plane infinitely big and therefore every place being the center.[98] The two serpents had spent so much power in creating rules for the multiverse and in their struggle that they were unable to prevent other, newer gods from taking over positions of importance.[99] Ahriman later took the name Asmodeus for himself.[3]

Origin Story: Pact Primeval

This origin story had Asmodeus fool the gods into signing the Pact Primeval, a contract between Asmodeus and gods that effectively allowed devils to legally take mortal souls to Baator by corrupting them and draw energy from them. This story was accepted by sages across the multiverse, but was held to be myth rather than an exact account, while the existence of other stories was acknowledged. This story was mostly told by devils, of course.[100]

In this version too, the multiverse started as a soup of chaos, where demons fought each other. As a reaction to chaos, the concept of law arose to counter it, and with it deities of law who fought the demons. But eventually the deities wearied of fighting infinite demons and wanted to do something else. So they created angels to fight the demons for them. The best specimen of this new species in every regard was Asmodeus.[100]

As far as killing demons was concerned, Asmodeus was the most successful of the angels. But he and his fellows took on some fiendish aspects to increase their effectiveness at fighting demons, and for this they were put on trial. Asmodeus's argument was that war was a dirty business and that they had done the deity's dirty work for them, yet upheld their laws, and that he and his people had done nothing wrong. The gods realized Asmodeus had a better grasp of law than they did and could find no counter to his arguments. Over time, the gods tried to bar Asmodeus and his people from accessing various privileges and rights, but Asmodeus managed to secure them through his legal knowledge by suing the gods and pulling forth arguments they could not counter.[100]

Once the Prime Material Plane was populated and made more-or-less safe from demons, the gods noticed that mortals had a tendency to disregard divine law and overstep boundaries. The gods had a problem with this for it invited chaos and allowed demons access to mortals. They had free will, and could chose not to follow law. To counter this, Asmodeus invented the concept of punishment. The gods accepted it and Asmodeus's and his fellows' (including Mephistopheles and Dispater) duties now included punishing those who transgressed divine law, meaning torturing the souls of transgressors.[100]

While the gods understood the necessity of punishment, they had a problem with souls being punished within their lands. So Asmodeus was again put on trial. He argued again that he simply followed divine law and did his duties, and again, the gods could not counter him, but they couldn't abide souls being punished in a place where they could see the cruelty. Therefore, Asmodeus proposed to shift the site of torture to what would be Baator, so the gods did not need to look at it anymore. However, if Asmodeus and his angels moved their workplace to Baator, they would be unable to draw power from the gods to conduct their duties. Therefore, Asmodeus proposed that he and his fellows be given the right to wring divine energy out of the souls they tortured as a substitute. The gods agreed and the Pact Primeval was signed.[100]

Asmodeus and his fellows started work in the Nine Hells as torturers and actively started seducing mortals towards evil so that they would end up in Baator instead of the gods' divine realms on dying. Once the gods found this out, they confronted Asmodeus, who merely pointed them to the contract's fine print.[100]

This version made it appear as though Asmodeus's and the lawful gods went different ways by relatively peaceful means. However, the parting was not peaceful—the deities threw Asmodeus out of the Upper Planes and he fell and fell through Baator, either through the nine layers or breaking it into the nine layers. Thereafter, Asmodeus carried serious wounds from his fall.[28]

Origin Story: He Who Was

In this version, Asmodeus was an exarch in the service of an unknown god,[101] but after retrieving a shard of evil, he killed that god.[52] Asmodeus put much effort in wiping out this god's name, so he was known only as He Who Was. According to one legend, this god was a control freak who supervised every single aspect of every single person living in his realm. The all-encompassing supervision and control force on Asmodeus suffered was the start of his need to rise up against his god.[102] He was again the greatest warrior and general of that god's army in the Dawn War, but applied brutal methods that at one point caused innocent casualties. As Asmodeus did not want to see the errors of his ways, the lawful good god condemned and fired Asmodeus.[103]

Afterward, Asmodeus worked as a watchman over Tharizdun's prison. During this time, Pazuzu, a demon lord of the obyrith, came to him and they had a conversation. The demon's flattery caused Asmodeus to develop a sense of pride that became arrogance and the desire to rise up against He Who Was. Asmodeus maintained a stable secret alliance with Pazuzu, who served as his general and was vital in eventually killing He Who Was. A side effect of Asmodeus's corruption was that he began to hear the location of the shards of evil. He retrieved one by going down to the bottom of the Abyss through the Blood Rift, created his Ruby Rod with the shard,[104] and killed his god with it[52] when it looked bad for the deities during the Dawn War.[105] The corrupting influence of the shard turned Asmodeus and the members of his army into the first devils.[106] He Who Was had cursed Asmodeus and since then Asmodeus could not leave Baator.[105] He Who Was's also curse affected Asmodeus's angelic army, which was stationed in Phlegethos, the site of which later became known as the Lake of Fire.[107] Afterward, Asmodeus managed to lay the groundwork for emerging stronger from the Dawn War, while all other participants were weakened.[108]

Publicly, the other gods condemned Asmodeus's actions, but privately some started making deals with the future lord of devils, because He Who Was had been infamous for his incompetence, which would have caused the gods' defeat in the Dawn War and with it their end. Asmodeus made deals with both the gods and covertly the primordials, but in the end decided to take the divine side. One of these bargains gave him the eternal right to use souls to maintain Baator.[105]

With this right, Baator became a divine realm of material affluence, while all other realms had a poverty problem. This was due to Asmodeus's great management skills,[109] and a very dark touch. Among others, this was done by turning Baator into a giant torture chamber where magical energy was tortured out of souls. He modified the Nine Hells so that as many souls as possible could enter the astral dominion. For example, because of the damage done by the Dawn War, the system of souls being transferred to the realms of their deities did not properly function. Souls that appeared outside of the proper divine realm could not enter any realm except the Nine Hells and a lot of souls made use of this unique aspect of the Nine Hells.[110]

After the Fall

Asmodeus was acknowledged as the oldest devil in existence, but not everyone believed him to be the first ruler of Baator,[5] and they were correct.[111] Contrary to how the Pact Primeval legend presented Baator,[77] Baator had not been an empty wasteland, but had been inhabited by another race. The nupperibo, the result of leaving a soul in Baator alone to evolve without the torturous process of the baatezu to turn it into a lemure, were assumed to be members of this race.[112] They were the baatorians and their ruler was Zargon. When Asmodeus came to Hell, he and his devils purged the baatorians, enslaving them and slaying their lords, with Asmodeus killing many himself. However, when fighting Zargon, Asmodeus could not kill him because the creature constantly regenerated around his indestructible horn. Thus Asmodeus ripped off the horn and threw it into the Prime Material plane, falling onto some world, to the spot where eventually the city of Cynidicea arose.[113]

However, over the centuries Zargon regenerated around the horn and terrorized the people of Cynidicea, who worshiped him and appeased him by sacrificing sentient beings. Depopulating their own people, they began to take their victims from other lands. This attracted the rage of a barbarian nation who attacked them, but Zargon killed their hero, and then a few of their gods. But Asmodeus stepped in and defeated Zargon once more, not because he cared for the dead gods, but because he did not want the original ruler of Baator free. To ensure that Zargon stayed sealed away, Asmodeus encased the elder evil in stone and buried Zargon's worshipers alive.[113]

The Trial of Asmodeus

According to the The Trial of Asmodeus, a play based on real events according to its author, disgusted angels condemned Asmodeus for tempting mortals to evil and harvesting their souls. The Archfiend protested and the angels agreed to have a hearing with Asmodeus after accepting his proposal to ask Primus of the modrons to be an impartial judge.[30]

Asmodeus argued that he'd never done anything wrong for he consistently acted as a lawful creature in accordance with infernal tradition in service to the cause of law and the continued existence of the multiverse. According to him, mortals always had the choice whether to accept an infernal bargain, devils always held up their end of a bargain, and a mortal who nullified a contract by finding a loophole was respected. Furthermore, souls condemned to Baator were conscripted into the infernal army against the Abyss's forces of chaos, thereby protecting the cause of law and good from the forces of chaos and evil, which meant the souls were also used to further and protect the cause of law.[30]

The angels presented their cases one by one, but with so many and for so long that Primus's patience ran out. The judge declared he would only listen to a limited number of angels, not all of them. After this pronouncement, Zariel, at that time still an angel, started a brawl to get to the front row to get her case heard. This degenerated into a massive punch-up among the angels. Primus scolded the angels for their lack of restraint and refused to give a final verdict, and Asmodeus suffered no punishment. However, two matters were decided. First, Asmodeus was effectively given the right to sway mortals to evil and harvest their souls. Second, a decree was made that Asmodeus must always carry his Ruby Rod of Asmodeus, both as a symbol of the devils' right and as a punishment device against devils who did not uphold their end of a bargain made with mortals.[30]

In Hell

His position secured, Asmodeus ruled as overlord of Baator, with the goal of healing his wounds from his fall by receiving atheists' souls.[29] He created a bureaucratic system based in Grenpoli on Maladomini.[114]

It was believed that Asmodeus, at some point, financed a project to create the yugoloths. He paid night hags to create them so he would have an army not tied to Baator. This plan, if true, ultimately failed, because the tool to control the yugoloths, the four Books of Keeping, got lost over time.[115]

His intra-Baator politics revolved around keeping his position. He was successful at it and over the years observed the coming and going of many archdevils.[26] He also recruited new ones. For example, he allegedly steered Baalzebul, while still an archon called Triel, onto the path of corruption by appearing to him as a beautiful venomous flower. Baalzebul later became a powerful devil[68] and one of Asmodeus's favorites.[116]

According to one theory, Stygia was not one of the original layers of Baator but a world whose denizens handed over their souls to Asmodeus to save themselves. The alleged method by which Asmodeus saved them was to transport the doomed world to Baator as its newest layer.[117]

At some point, Asmodeus took Bensozia as his consort and had a daughter with her called Glasya.[118] Levistus ambushed Bensozia and tried to get her help in deposing Asmodeus, but she refused, so in a rage[82] Levistus tried to rape Bensozia[83] and when she wouldn't submit he murdered her.[82] After Levistus succeeded in taking over Stygia from Geryon,[50] an angry Asmodeus encased Levistus in an ice block where he lay unconscious. Geryon took over the position of archdevil of Stygia.[119] Asmodeus's relationship with his daughter was a weird one. On one hand, Asmodeus was acknowledged as a caring father—at least by devil standards[120]—and on the other, Glasya was most easily described as a ne'er-do-well and troublemaker towards her father and other archdevils.[118]

Another archdevil who either fled or left Baator was Gargauth. The exact circumstances were not known, but Asmodeus played a crucial role. Gargauth left either because he tried and failed to oust Asmodeus and had to flee or because Asmodeus killed Beherit, Gargauth's closest ally, which prompted the Outcast to leave.[121]

Graz'zt was once an archdevil under the employ of Asmodeus. He was charged with fighting the Blood War, invading the Abyss, and getting the shard of evil for him. However, after conquering three AByssal layers, he could not advance further because of the resistance he faced from Demogorgon and Orcus. Instead, he broke away and became a demon lord himself. Whether he'd truly severed all ties with Asmodeus and whether he would remain a demon lord was unknown.[81]

Another was Malkizid, an exiled former solar under the employment of Corellon. He was cast out for siding with Lolth and fell into Baator, where he gained influence. At some point in history, he angered Asmodeus and was banished.[122]

Zariel started off as an observer of the Blood War under celestial orders. But she wanted to fight in it too and eventually ran off to do that. Her beaten body was found by Asmodeus's people, she was brought to Nessus, nursed back to health, and installed as the archdevil of Avernus.[30]

The Reckoning of Hell

Main article: Reckoning of Hell
The Reckoning was an event in which the archdevils revolted against Asmodeus, and he survived without harm. The key catalyst was Baalzebul's ambitions increasingly clashing with Asmodeus's.[123] He tried to smear Asmodeus's reputation as a competent leader and to circumvent the infernal bureaucracy. To save his amassed military strength, he even withheld his armies in the face of an abyssal invasion until he had to admit that not entering the fray would cause Baator to be ruined.[70]

At the time, the archdevils acted in a fairly obvious manner to achieve their goals and, at the culmination of their scheming, two factions crystallized: that of Baalzebul with Belial, Moloch, and Zariel under him; and that of Mephistopheles with Dispater, Geryon, and Mammon under him.[124] After Baalzebul's machinations were uncovered in an investigation,[70] their armies clashed in Maladomini to determine who should inherit Asmodeus's crown.[124] But it was all for naught, as Asmodeus had secured the loyalty of Geryon and infiltrated the eight armies up to the highest level. On Geryon's signal, the pit fiend commanders turned on their archdevils and their armies were destroyed while Asmodeus escaped unscathed.[124] According to another recounting of the events, the battle was an everyone-against-Baalzebul-battle, which Baalzebul lost.[70]

Afterward, Asmodeus instituted the Dark Eight, giving an effective promotion to the pit fiends loyal to him. He generally left the archdevils with their realms: Zariel, Dispater, and Mephistopheles were allowed to keep their layers; Mammon embarrassed himself begging Asmodeus for forgiveness, who did by allowing him to keep his layer but forbade him to keep his relationship with his daughter; and Belial went into the background to evade responsibility and managed to hold power by accepting Asmodeus's condition that he hold power jointly with his daughter, Fierna. However, Geryon was deposed despite his loyalty and Levistus was restored to consciousness and elevated to archdevil of Stygia. Moloch was convinced by Malagarde (who worked for Geryon and therefore Asmodeus) that if he showed defiance, Asmodeus would respect him and absolve him of all crimes; instead, he was deposed and Malagarde, who'd convinced him to join the fray to begin with, became the archdevil of Malbolge. Baalzebul was allowed to keep his position but his body was transformed into a giant slug. In summary, all archdevils were forced to accept Asmodeus as their superior and he became sure of potential usurpers' capabilities[125] while also dramatically reminding them of their position.[126]

Why Asmodeus deposed Geryon was a mystery. At least three possible explanations were accepted by scholars. The first was that it spurred increased loyalty in Geryon and he would work even harder for Asmodeus in the hope of being restored to power. The second was that it was a kind of reward by Asmodeus, even if Geryon did not think of it that way.[127] The third was Asmodeus's hunger for faithless people: at least for a moment, Geryon believed life was pointless and became food for Asmodeus.[126]

Actions on Toril

On Toril in the Year of Shadows, 1358 DR, a warlock coven known as the Toril thirteen performed a ritual that cursed most tiefling lineages—those of demons, devils, hags, and rakshasas, among others—with the "blood of Asmodeus", changing their original lineage to that of the archdevil himself. This was done in an attempt to make Asmodeus a "racial god", ensuring him enough followers to attain godly powers.[128][129]

After the Reckoning in Hell

Even after the Reckoning, the archdevils continued to experience upheavals. Bel gained the trust of Zariel and abused it to depose her, rising to the rank of archdevil. Asmodeus approved this under the condition that Bel would concentrate on the Blood War with the Dark Eight. Bel agreed and so much of his time was consumed by the Blood War that he didn't have sufficient time to plot against his superiors.[72]

The second was caused by the sudden bloating and death of Malagarde around 1372 DR. Malbolge was reformed and Glasya became an archdevil. Asmodeus managed to reign in his unruly daughter[130] by scolding her and instilling in her that she had to take on some responsibility in order to retain her privileges. After throwing a fit, Glasya agreed and was tasked with organizing the erinyes' work.[131] He also gave her Geryon's powers as an archdevil to make her strong enough to fill the position, and made it clear that Malagarde had just been a placeholder for his daughter. Third, to provide her with a good staff, he allowed her to recruit competent devils even to the detriment of her fellow archdevils—a privilege Glasya made full use of, much to the chagrin of her fellows.[132] However, Glasya also ran a criminal organization that created false money, by turning lead temporarily into gold, minting it into coins and using them before they turned back. She escaped punishment through the legal loophole that no law in existence regulated the state of coins after leaving the mint, only the composition of the raw material out of which the coins were minted. One reason for Asmodeus to elevate Glasya was to tie her to one layer with a lot of responsibility, thereby preventing her ambitions going too far.[70]

Post-Spellplague Era

The holy symbol of Asmodeus on a ring after the Spellplague.

When Dweomerheart collapsed in the wake of the Spellplague of 1385 DR, 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.[31] But he knew the war could restart at any time and with a united demonic front, if he did anything like invading the Abyss. Therefore, he organized his strength so that when the war restarted it would do so under circumstances favorable to him.[52]

It turned out that Asmodeus had had some divine influence on Toril that had waned, but his ascension restored it and his cult was on the rise in the 15th century DR.[31] It began to be practiced overtly when Asmodeus's worshipers presented their god as someone from whom absolution from all kinds of sins could be gained, as mortals had thought of the Blue Fire of the Spellplague as some form of divine punishment.[133]

Although many believed Asmodeus killed Azuth when he consumed his divine essence,[31] in fact Asmodeus had fused with Azuth, and both gods coexisted in the same body.[134] Most of the time, Asmodeus overpowered Azuth, using his divine powers while the God of Wizards was in a dormant state.[135] But on a rare few occasions, Azuth was able to gain control of their shared body, and because of his strange behavior many denizens of the Nine Hells believed Asmodeus had grown mad.[136]

After the Spellplague, Asmodeus re-instituted Belial as an archdevil, which presumably meant that he'd demoted Fierna from that position.[137]

When Asmodeus became a god, the magic of the ritual performed by the Toril thirteen took effect across Toril. Afterwards, most tieflings living in the 15th century DR were of the Asmodean lineage, all having a similar devilish appearance.[129]

Post-Second Sundering

The holy symbol of Asmodeus on a brand after the Second Sundering.

In 1486 DR, Azuth had regained most of his strength and was able to choose Ilstan Nyaril as his Chosen.[138] Asmodeus and Azuth began to struggle for control of their shared body and as a result the hierarchy of the Nine Hells was jeopardized.[134][136] Ilstan and Farideh, one of the Chosen of Asmodeus, devised a plan to separate both gods and avoid a potential devil invasion of all the multiverse.[135] They contacted the god Enlil through his Chosen, Kepeshkmolik Dumuzi, and Asmodeus agreed to release Azuth from his body and resurrect the Untherite god Nanna-Sin as a non-god immortal and in exchange Enlil allowed Asmodeus to consume Nanna-Sin's divine spark to become a god unto himself.[139] In a ritual performed in Djerad Thymar amid the First Tymanther-Unther War, on Hammer 10 of 1487 DR, Ilstan sacrificed his life to allow Azuth to become an individual god once more.[140]

At some point after the Second Sundering, Asmodeus demoted Bel and re-elevated Zariel to the position of archdevil of Avernus.[9] Another archdevil he restored to the position was Fierna. This was a unique ruling that made Belial and Fierna equals in a system that otherwise mandated that every layer-ruling post had to be filled with only one person.[141]

On Toril, Asmodeus's worshipers comprised two groups: those who wanted to have some form of independence from gods, and those who had no intention of dealing with devils, only wanting fun and/or clemency from Asmodeus. On dying in Toril, a mortal's soul was shunted to the Fugue Plane, where it waited until whatever god they worshiped in life cared to take the soul to itself, for a length of time depending on how well the soul adhered to the deity's tenets. In that time, it could be approached by devils offering a new life as a devil. The first group hoped they would be specifically approached by a devil on dying. The second group would be offered a reprieve from the wait.[142] Asmodeus also supplied pacts for warlocks.[96]

Chosen of Asmodeus

Appendix

Notes

  1. Asmodeus's status as a greater deity is given on page 4 of Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus, but he is described on page 67 of the Monster Manual 5th edition as having the powers of a lesser deity.

Background

Asmodeus is named for the Judeo-Christian demon Asmodai or Asmodeus originating from the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit and appearing in various legends and medieval demonology. A fallen angel of the same name also appears in John Milton's Paradise Lost.

Development

The non-canonical article "The Politics of Hell" in The Dragon #28 by Alexander von Thorn details the history and politics of Hell, giving a different history to that detailed above and connecting closely to real-world myth and history. It discusses older kings of Hell such as Lucifer or Satan whom 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, where it is stated that while Asmodeus is the oldest devil in the Nine Hells, he may not be the original ruler. However, Elder Evils later made the original ruler Zargon instead.

In 2nd edition's Guide to Hell, it is 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 as they struggled over the proper role of Law, eventually plummeting all the way to the Serpent's Coil in Baator. Guide to Hell claimed that his wish was to destroy all creation by making all sentient beings atheists, thus negating the belief energy holding the Outer Planes together, so that he might 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.

Again in 2nd edition, Hellbound: The Blood War and Faces of Evil: The Fiends present another version of Baator and Asmodeus's history and origins. They 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.

Harkening back to 2nd edition, Manual of the Planes 3rd edition mentions "brutally repressed rumors" 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, hundreds of miles long, 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. No one who tells the story of the true form of Asmodeus survives more than 24 hours after the telling.

However, the origin myth which appears in v.3.5's Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells contradicts this, where Asmodeus is a fallen angel and the original founder of the current, baatezu-dominated Nine Hells during the signing of the Pact Primeval. However, this story is presented as mythology, and the Codex itself admits that it does not tell the whole truth. The names of the gods involved (deities of Oerth in the Greyhawk setting) seem unlikely, as they contradict their own histories. It instead implies that Serpent's Coil is shaped for the spiraling path Asmodeus fell, and that Malsheem sits at the bottom of that canyon.

In the 4th-edition 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.

Sources

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  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 28.5 28.6 28.7 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.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 29.4 Chris Pramas (1999). Guide to Hell. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 49–50. ISBN 978-0786914319.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 30.4 30.5 30.6 30.7 30.8 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-0786966240.
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Gallery

Connections

The Lords of the Nine
Asmodeus
The Archdevils
BaalzebulBelialDispaterFiernaGlasyaLevistusMammonMephistophelesZariel
Other Unique Devils
BelGargauthGeryonMalagardMolochTiamat

Deities of the Post–Second Sundering Era
Ao the Overgod
Faerûnian Pantheon
Akadi | Amaunator | Asmodeus | Auril | Azuth | Bane | Beshaba | Bhaal | Chauntea | Cyric | Deneir | Eldath | Gond | Grumbar | Gwaeron | Helm | Hoar | Ilmater | Istishia | Jergal | Kelemvor | Kossuth | Lathander | Leira | Lliira | Loviatar | Malar | Mask | Mielikki | Milil | Myrkul | Mystra | Oghma | Red Knight | Savras | Selûne | Shar | Silvanus | Sune | Talona | Talos | Tempus | Torm | Tymora | Tyr | Umberlee | Valkur | Waukeen
The Morndinsamman
Abbathor | Berronar Truesilver | Clangeddin Silverbeard | Deep Duerra | Dugmaren Brightmantle | Dumathoin | Gorm Gulthyn | Haela Brightaxe | Laduguer | Marthammor Duin | Moradin | Sharindlar | Vergadain
The Seldarine
Aerdrie Faenya | Angharradh | Corellon | Deep Sashelas | Erevan | Fenmarel Mestarine | Hanali Celanil | Labelas Enoreth | Rillifane Rallathil | Sehanine Moonbow | Shevarash | Solonor Thelandira
The Dark Seldarine
Eilistraee | Kiaransalee | Lolth | Selvetarm | Vhaeraun
Yondalla's Children
Arvoreen | Brandobaris | Cyrrollalee | Sheela Peryroyl | Urogalan | Yondalla
Lords of the Golden Hills
Baervan Wildwanderer | Baravar Cloakshadow | Callarduran Smoothhands | Flandal Steelskin | Gaerdal Ironhand | Garl Glittergold | Nebelun | Segojan Earthcaller | Urdlen
Orc Pantheon
Bahgtru | Gruumsh | Ilneval | Luthic | Shargaas | Yurtrus
Mulhorandi pantheon
Anhur | Bast | Geb | Hathor | Horus | Isis | Nephthys | Osiris | Re | Sebek | Set | Thoth
Other gods of Faerûn
Bahamut | Enlil | Finder Wyvernspur | Ghaunadaur | Gilgeam | Lurue | Moander | Nobanion | Raven Queen | Tiamat



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