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Asmodeus (pronounced: /æzmˈdʌsæz-mo-DAY-us[17] Loudspeaker listen or: /æzˈmdiʌsæz-MO-dee-us[17] Loudspeaker listen) was the Faerûnian deity of indulgence[18] and ruler of all devils.[3]

DescriptionEdit

Asmodeus's true form was that of a hundreds of miles long wingless snake with scales. His form's sheer size made it impossible to meet and enter conversations with others. Therefore, he created humanoid looking avatars. The location of his body was kept secret from everyone including other devils[19] and everyone who learnt of the truth about his body was killed within a day.[20]

Asmodeus never showed himself except through avatars or project image, both in humanoid forms.[21] Asmodeus's avatars looked like a slim big, meaning a bit more than 13 ft (3,96 m), charismatic red-skinned humanoid with horns on the head with glowing red eyes. Overall, he provided charismatic and beautiful looks that captivated people. He always had a perfectly trimmed beard and wore very expensive red and black clothing, each of these cloths was valuable enough to cover the annual national spending of any nation, and each of his ten avatars held a Ruby Rod of Asmodeus. Underneath these expensive garments, the body was wracked with bleeding injuries. While he was in pain, he managed to give off the appearance of someone unconcerned with the pain the injuries caused him.[22][3][23]

PersonalityEdit

Asmodeus was a lawful creature with the goal of becoming the supreme creature in the multiverse even if it required to destroy the current one and create a new one.[24]

When faced directly, he gave off the impression of a confident and eloquent man who was quite reasonable to talk with. 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.[23]

His threshold to reward someone was 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.[25]

AbilitiesEdit

Asmodeus - Eric Deschamps

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 did neither wax nor wane with the number of worshipers and out of himself, he had no ability to grant spells to his followers.[26] However, there was one way for mortals to gain spells from him, becoming a disciple of darkness.[27] 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.[28] 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.[27] Since eating Azuth, he could grant spells by himself to his followers and sentient sacrifices stopped being a necessary part of his worship.[29]

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.[26]

Everyone within 120 ft (36,58 m) 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.[22]

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,[3] symbol of hopelessness, symbol of pain, symbol of persuasion,[22] 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.[30] Limited to when he was in Baator, he could cast practically any magic he wanted as an exercise of will. He had absolute control over the Nine Hells and could change the landscape of any layer in any way he wanted when he wanted it with his mind. This control over form extended the archdevils too. He could change their forms in any way he wanted. For example, he changed Baalzebul's formerly beautiful form into that of a giant slug. However, it was surmised that he could not kill an archdevil with a mere thought, only alter their form.[31]

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 weapons that were not enchanted with magic that was at least on the level of a +4 weapon.[22] However, even when hurt by such a weapon, if the weapon was not holy or otherwise blessed the wounds immediately healed.[32]

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 abilities or instill fear while sapping physical strength by merely looking at somebody. His voice made worked like an irresistible suggestion that made people subservient to him for ten to hundred days. He had a preference to use the abilities to make people flee from him or turn subservient to outright killing them. In the case these abilities did not work, Asmodeus had a strong tendency to retreat and let his minions deal with the enemies. He could summon a pit fiend or two specimens of any kind of devil[30] every hour.[22]

Like any other devil of authority, Asmodeus owned the ability to demote formally subservient devil, meaning any devil in his case, at his whim.[33] He was the only devil with the ability to promote a devil to archdevil status.[9]

Infernal contracts' underlying power was Asmodeus's. 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.[34]

PossessionsEdit

Each of Asmodeus's avatars held a Ruby Rod of Asmodeus as a badge of office. It aso served as the avatars' main weapon[22] and allowed attacks with elemental forces, force enemies to cower in fear, or provide 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.[35]

While this was not exactly a possession, Asmodeus owned a private army called the Nessian Guard, which was in store for a great battle. This army consisted of devils that were created from Asmodeus's blood[36] and were truly loyal to him. Over the years, their numbers grew and should Asmodeus manage to heal his wounds and get out of Baator, this army of pit fiends ad cornugons would follow.[37]

He owned one of the original copies of the Pact Primeval. Asmodeus's duty was to prevent people from taking the copy away from Baator no matter the costs as it was the basis on which he and the devils were allowed to damn mortals. For example, to make transportation difficult, Asmodeus actually enclosed the document in a giant heavy, meaning over 20 tons, ruby.[38]

Divine RealmEdit

Asmodeus ruled the entire plane 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,[37] usually the latter.[39] He built up a big army over the years through these mean. The army was stationed in Malsheem, a giant fortress so large that it was considered unmappable. As mentioned above, when meeting with others, he used of his humanoid looking avatars.[37] The other archdevils were annually called to Malsheem.[3]

Asmodeus was the only one who was by law allowed to issue letters of safe passage that did not just extend to one layer but also to travel between layers. However, he never issued such things for Nessus, though he was entitled to do so.[40]

ActivitiesEdit

As mentioned above, Asmodeus was a greater deity to whom mortal worship was not worth a lot regarding maintenance of his powers. He also could not grant spells. He used the fact that the vast majority of creatures did not predate the concept of faith like him, and therefore were too young to remember his godhood, as well as his inability to grant spells to his advantage by posing as a non-divine entity. Under this guise, he conducted his various plans[2] in covert and manipulative manner. He was also willing to pay attention to the fate of individual mortals and not just the grand scheme of things.[3]

All of these plans were done with the goal to destroy the entire construct of the Outer Planes. Asmodeus's fall into the Nine Hells and an ancient struggle with Jazirian caused him severe wounds and basically creating the underlying laws of the Great Wheel cosmology drained his powers. The nourishment to heal his wounds was the souls of disbelievers, not agnostics but true atheists, whose souls landed on Nessus regardless of their moral and ethical outlook. This was, apart from practically unknown in the public, the common assumption was that souls of true atheists would not become petitioners, an exception to the rule that souls go to where their deities awaited. Asmodeus ate these souls to heal his wounds and 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.[24]

Asmodeus was also the inventor of the Infernal language.[41]

When it came to torturing souls, Asmodeus mostly outsourced it to the city of Jungling Hiters in Minauros.[42]

The Blood WarEdit

The Blood War was often described as some kind of philosophical war to determine whether law or chaos should have the say over evil. Asmodeus knew the truth for he was present at the time of its beginning. The war was simply the result of a violent first contact between devils and demons that over various acts of retribution grew into a wasteful war.[43] However, what made demons react in such hostile ways towards devils were Asmodeus's actions. During the Dawn War, he stole a shard of evil from the Abyss to craft the Ruby Rod of Asmodeus from it. The Abyss wanted the shard back.[44]

Asmodeus understood how senseless the Blood War in itself was. However, because other people popularly 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 in order to issue orders of how to go on with the Blood War in the coming year, the pit fiends honestly believed that their lord saw any value in the Blood War, this kept Asmodeus's armies motivated and sharp, his enemies looking for meaning in a war without one, and guaranteed that his underlings were kept busy.[43]

All that said, for Asmodeus, the Blood War was not a trivial matter. To be more precise, 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 on it, and finally kill each other into extinction.[45] One of Asmodeus's goals regarding the demons was to get them under his control. He already stole 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.[44] 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.[46]

One way he intended to deal with the Blood War was to change its supposed objective from a law-chaos struggle to a good-evil struggle. Towards that goal, Asmodeus intended to strike a bargain, more precisely a temporary cease-fire, with the demons. This cease-fire had to endure only a timeframe that was long enough for him to organize matters that would eventually turn the Blood War into a good-evil struggle that would serve his ends in causing destruction on the Upper planes.[23] His devils continually damned souls to Baator in order to turn them into new devils and with it expand the infernal army.[34]

Infernal PoliticsEdit

Asmodeus had a lot of underlings starting with the archdevils. These creatures politicked against each other in a lawful evil manner and this spilled over one time to affect Asmodeus, reinforcing his act of not being a god. It was all a charade concocted by the Lord of Lies. By acting to further acting in a lawful evil manner on a lawful evil plane, the devils under Asmodeus followed the rules under which denizens of every other Outer Plane acted. As mentioned above, Asmodeus did not intend to further belief but the lack thereof. His underlings actions served as a kind of smokescreen to hide his true intentions from others.[47]

That said, to Asmodeus, infernal politics were important. One of his main efforts were directed at keeping the status quo, meaning keeping himself at the top of Hell's pecking order. Towards that end, he honeycombed 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.[21]

As a general rule, Asmodeus was not talkative 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.[21]

As a general rule, he outsourced his work to devils below him in the full knowledge that they desire his position.[9]

Spreading DisbeliefEdit

As mentioned above, Asmodeus could not grant spells to his followers and he wanted to turn people to a lack of belief. He maintained working relationships with evil deities, the bargain being infernal aid in return of supplying his followers with spells in his stead, so said followers could increase their numbers through the display of magical aid. These cults were either dedicated to infernal entities or to completely made-up ones to gain 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 followers when the cult's numbers were at its peak. This was done to intentionally cause the decline of said cult. When this happened, the majority turned to other religions, but some extremists lost faith in religion altogether, becoming disbelievers and therefore the necessary food for Asmodeus to heal his wounds. Asmodeus particularly considered it a success when such despairing cults turned into suicide cults.[48]

A second tactic to increase the number of disbelievers in the multiverse, which Asmodeus pursued was to supply the Athar with aid. This was a thought school that came into being without Asmodeus doing that posited that gods were not gods but just another form of powerful creatures. Asmodeus's aid to this faction was done in a covert manner and the aided had no clue that the Lord of Lies was on their side.[48]

A third tactic to spread disbelief was to make mortals disillusioned with the gods. Contrary to common belief, gods were not omnipotent, they were as capable of pettiness as mortals were and Asmodeus fanned such feelings through his manipulations among the gods. Such manipulations was very subtle and took literal centuries to bear fruits. The Lord of Lies's goal was not to make the gods kill each other in direct fashion, but to make the god pit each others' followers against each other. Thus giving the Cloven the necessary opportunity to showcase mortals how petty their objects of worship actually were to drive them away from worship altogether.[49]

RelationshipsEdit

DeitiesEdit

As mentioned above, Asmodeus had working relationships with evil deities who supplied his followers with spells for he could not do it by himself in return for his aid in their endeavors.[48] Baatorian deities were quite respectful around him.[3]

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 out divine magic from their souls. From time to time, rumors about various lawful deities allying with each other to take over Baator from Asmodeus popped up, but they 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 over control of the Nine Hells was beyond them.[50] Like the gods, Asmodeus did not want an open war too.[51]

Tiamat
Asmodeus kept Tiamat's influence small. Among others, he did take away control over Avernus from her.[52] In fact, she was contractually imprisoned by the Asmodeus.[53]
Duergar Deities
Duergars were victims of impersonation by Asmodeus. He pretended to be one of their gods in order to stir up their desire for vengeance and tyranny.[54]

DevilsEdit

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.[55] Among the devils, Asmodeus ruled supreme and made his superiority publicly clear in an event called the Reckoning[3] and every single devil served Asmodeus either directly or was capable of tracing a line of authority back to Asmodeus from its own position in the infernal hierarchy.[56]

Among greater devils, Asmodeus was the default authority to report to. Every time, a devil managed to get an opportunity for promotion to greater devilhood, they needed the approval of a superior, an archdevil. In the case that a devil could not be sure of itself to whom it was supposed to report to, Asmodeus was the one they had to choose. Asmodeus was also the source of priestly magic the devils used alongside the archdevils.[57]

Archdevils
As mentioned above, Asmodeus ruled supreme among the devils. This included the archdevils too. He annually called the archdevils (including Levistus) to his court.[3] 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 always fell on one of the unique devils who stood above the greater devils but below the archdevils.[57]
The archdevils themselves wanted to bring down Asmodeus from his throne and take over the position as the ruler of hell. However, since the Reckoning, they had to admit that Asmodeus was superior to them and caved in. Practically all of them did not have the courage to move openly against him.[58] The archdevils of note who directly served Asmodeus were:
Baalzebul
According to one myth of dubious veracity, Baalzebul, formerly known as an archon called Triel, was seduced by Asmodeus into entering Baator and became a powerful devil.[59] Before the Reckoning, Baalzebul held the position of Asmodeus's favorite archdevil. He was the leading figure of the Reckoning. After he lost, he was allowed to hold his position, but was turned into a slug-like creature.[60] The lord of Maladomini and the lord of Nessus had a strange working relationship regarding their cults. Baalzebul was the choice for the downtrodden like rebels and Asmodeus was the choice for those who were in a position where grasping for power was possible. So, it happened from time to time that 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 ones 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.[61]
In Baator, Baalzebul tried to prove his usefulness to Asmodeus and to hurt his rivals, Dispater and Mephistopheles, by using his spy network in an attempt to dredge up some evidence of them having rebellious intentions.[59]
Bel
Bel successfully betrayed his master Zariel. Asmodeus struck bargain with him. The Pit Fiend had to dedicate himself to the Blood War and he was spared the punishment. Bel accepted and Asmodeus gained a lord over a layer who simply did not have the time to plot ay treachery for it was consumed by his duties in the Blood War.[62] Asmodeus also decreed that the other archdevils had the duty to help Bel with various resources in the Blood War.[63] Bel's reputation as a traitor made it also impossible for him to find allies.[62] However, regarding loyalty, Bel was a curiosity who put Asmodeus and the good of Baator in general above the good of himself.[64]
So Bel tried to curry favors with Asmodeus by supplying information about the other archdevils provided by his spies in the archdevils' courts. Information he supplied was rarely news for Asmodeus.[62]
Belial
After the Reckoning, Belial was forced by Asmodeus to hand over his position to his daughter Fierna.[65] He had once plans to start a civil war within Baator by invading Sygia and Malbolge, but had to abandon these plans when Asmodeus chose his daughter as Malbolge's archdevil for invading her turf would bring about Asmodeus's anger.[66]
Dispater
In the Pact Primeval-version of Asmodeus's origin myth, Dispater was Asmodeus's companion since the beginning before they went to Baator.[67] He was cowed by Asmodeus after the Reckoning and going against his master again was an idea he was difficult to win him for.[68]
Glasya
Glasya was Asmodeus's daughter and he was a caring father towards her—at least for a devil. So much so that moving against her was something to be done in a covert fashion lest it could be made to look like moving against Asmodeus. That said, Glasya was quite an impudent daughter. She tried to evade working for him, but came to terms with him after the Reckoning and got a reward in the form of an archdevil with Malbolge as her personal layer. Asmodeus allowed her to hire whomever she wanted for her personal staff, even going as far as headhunting from other archdevils. She made aggressive use of this privilege and became disliked by other archdevils.[69]
Graz'zt
Graz'zt was an archdevil under the employment of Asmodeus. However, after conquering three layers of the Abyss, he broke away and turned into a demon lord. Whether he severed all ties with Asmodeus's and if he did, whether it would remain such was not known.[70]
Levistus
Levistus was the culpable of killing Bensozia, Asmodeus's consort, for which was imprisoned in ice. After the Reckoning, Asmodeus reinstituted him as the lord of Stygia.[71] According to a theory Levistus believed in, this was a ploy of Asmodeus. As a background, Levistus did a lot of scheming against other archdevils and Asmodeus let him be a distracting element in infernal politics. When he elevated Glasya to archdevil-status, Levistus's scheming worked like a smokescreen to hide this political move, combined with the fact that Levistus's predecessor's, Geryon's, power was handed over to the archduchess, the aforementioned theory came to be. Believing in it, Levistus felt himself on the prospect of punishment should he not reign his scheming in, but increased his scheming nonetheless. One of his goals was win Asmodeus's trustees over.[72]
Malagard
Malagard was put into the position of the lord of Malbolge by Asmodeus after the Reckoning. She knew that Asmodeus's powers were too much for her to overcome and did nothing against him. She tried to become a deity instead.[73] Installing a night hag into the position of an archdevil was always found perplexing in not infuriating by other devils. It turned out that Malagard was merely a place-holder for Glasya with the time limit being father and daughter coming to terms. When this happened, the Hag Countess's body bloated and remodeled the layer.[74]
Mammon
Mammon was the first of the archdevils to surrender to Asmodeus, once it became clear that the Reckoning was a failure. Apart from begging for leniency in an reportedly embarrassing manner, he changed his shape to, at least believed to, signify to Asmodeus that he was a newborn self. He had a relationship with Glasya. After the Reckoning, Asmodeus forbade Mammon to continue it.[75]
Mephistopheles
In the Pact Primeval-version of Asmodeus's origin myth, Dispater was Asmodeus's companion since the beginning before they went to Baator. He also used to be a subcontractor of Asmodeus as an object of worship, but handed this job over to others to create his own cult dedicated to him as the patron of hellfire. He wished to take over Asmodeus's position, in fact he believed that he was fated to do so. This confidence was so large that he actually told Asmodeus about it. Scholars wondered why no punishment followed and gave the possible explanation that Asmodeus considered Mephistopheles's claims nothing short of delusions. On one hand, Mephistopheles actually wasted most of his energy on combating Baalzebul whom he hated. It was believed that as long as the Lord of the Eighth was plotting against the Lord of the Seventh, Asmodeus was safe from Mephistopheles. On the other hand, he was an adept user of hellfire, a tool so powerful that it may play a role in ousting Asmodeus. However, while he was worshiped as the god of hellfire by mortals, truth was that many people could not tell the difference between Asmodeus and Mephistopheles and confused the latter with the former, something that was a source of frustration for Mephistopheles.[76]

MortalsEdit

Disciple of Asmodeus

A disciple of Asmodeus.

Asmodeus did not need mortal worship to maintain his strength as a greater deity, but neither did he obtain more power from mortal worship. As mentioned above, he wanted to lure mortals to atheism to receive souls with which to heal his wounds.[77] However, Asmodeus had a large following, which was much larger than any other infernal cult, in fact larger than all the others combined, to the point that the cult of Asmodeus was viewed as the first choice for prospective devil-worshipers.[78]

While Asmodeus maintained cults that were dedicated to fictional entities,[48] his cults in which he was worshiped as an archdevil fell into a category called a revealed cult. This meant that devil-worshipers who were Asmodeus-worshipers did so while knowing that their object of worship was a devil.[14]

To members of these cults, signing up with one meant to join a secret mutual-aid society. Members helped each other into position of influence and material affluence. The majority of its members were dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, and humans.[14]

The motivation of people to pick up his worship was essentially greed and the worship started with entering a pact with Asmodeus that consigned the worshiper's soul to the Nine Hells on death.[79]

VassalsEdit

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

HistoryEdit

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

Origin Story-Serpent of LawEdit

This story positioned Asmodeus's origins right at the literal dawn of time. He, at that time called Ahriman, arose from the primordial chaos as the mightiest of the lawful gods with Jazirian being the only one who could rival him. These two were both serpent-formed gods and they set their minds on ordering the multiverse in a lawful way.[81]

Towards that end, the two serpent gods bit each others' tails and the resulting circle created the borders of new plane, a plane born from the soup of chaos through the interaction of the two most powerful entities of law, one of whom was evil and the other good, the Outlands, the plane of neutrality. The other Outer Planes arrayed themselves around the circular borders of the neutral plane and with it the Great Wheel 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. Disagreement between the two came when they had to decide a center for the multiverse whose rules they were creating. 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 and his blood created the baatezu. Not having chosen a center for the multiverse caused the two lawful entities to effectively honor chaos by making every plane infinitely big and therefore every place being the center.[81]

The two serpents invested so much power in creating rules for the multiverse, and in their struggle, that they lost too much to prevent other newer gods from taking over positions of importance.[82]

Ahriman took the name Asmodeus for himself.[2]

Origin Story-Pact PrimevalEdit

This origin story posited Asmodeus as the one who fooled the gods into signing the Pact Primeval, a real existing contract between Asmodeus and gods, one of the original copies of it was found on Nessus, that practically allowed devils to legally draw mortal souls to Baator by corrupting them and draw energy from them. This story was the version accepted by sages in the multiverse, but the existence of other stories was acknowledged as was the nature of the Pact Primeval-version as a myth and not as a report of hard facts.[83]

In this version too, the multiverse started as a soup of chaos. There demons fought each other. As some form of counter reaction to all the chaos, the concept of law arose and with it deities of law who started to fight the demons. However, at some point, the deities lost interest in fighting 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.[84]

As far as killing demons was concerned, Asmodeus was the most successful of the angels. He and his fellows took on some fiendish aspects to increase their effectiveness at fighting their enemies and were put on trial for that. Asmodeus's argument against it essentially was that war was dirty and that they were basically the substitute for the deities to become dirty for their creators were not willing to enter the fray themselves and that therefore, Asmodeus and his people did nothing wrong. The gods realized that Asmodeus had a better grasp around law than they did and could find no counter to his arguments.[84]

In the following years, gods tried to bar Asmodeus and his people from accessing various privileges and rights, but Asmodeus managed to secure them for him and his people through his legal knowledge by suing the gods and pulling forth arguments they could not counter.[84]

Once the Prime was populated and made more or less safe from demons, 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 also allowed demons access to mortals. To counter this, Asmodeus invented the concept of punishment. The gods accepted it and Asmodeus's and his fellows duties included punishing those who transgressed divine law, meaning tortured the souls of transgressors.[85]

While the gods understood the necessity of punishment, they had a problem with souls being punished within their lands. So Asmodeus was again put before trial. This time, his argument against the gods was that he simply followed divine law and did his duties. Again, the gods could not counter this argument, but they were not capable of abiding souls getting punished in a place where they could see the cruelty of the deeds. Therefore, Asmodeus proposed to replace the site of torture to Baator, so the gods did not need to look at it anymore. However, if Asmodeus and his angels changed their workplace to Baator, they would render themselves unable to draw power from the gods to conduct their duties. Therefore, Asmodeus proposed that he and his fellows were given the right to wring out of the souls they tortured of divine energy to substitute the cut connection. The gods agreed to this and the Pact Primeval was signed.[67]

Asmodeus and his fellows started to work in the Nine Hells as torturers and actively started to seduce 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.[67]

This version made it appear as though Asmodeus's and the lawful gods went different ways by relatively peaceful means, scholars pointed out that the parting could not have been peaceful for Asmodeus carried heavy wounds from his departure to Baator.[23]

Origin Story-He Who WasEdit

In this version, Asmodeus was an exarch under the employment of a god[86] and after retrieving a shard of evil, he killed that one.[44] Asmodeus put a lot of effort in extinguishing this god's name and therefore he was merely known as He Who Was.[86]

He used to be the greatest warrior and general of that god's army in the Dawn War. He applied brutal methods that one point caused innocent casualties. The lawful good god condemned his general for he did not want to see errors in his ways and Asmodeus was fired but not killed.[87] He retrieved a shard of evil and killed his god with it[44] when it looked bad for the deities during the Dawn War. He Who Was cursed Asmodeus and since then Asmodeus could not leave Baator.[88] He Who Was's curse affected Asmodeus's angelic army, which was stationed in Phlegethos The site was what was later known as the Lake of Fire.[89] After killing his master, Asmodeus managed to lay the groundwork for him coming out stronger out of the Dawn War, while all other participants were weakened.[90]

Publicly, the gods condemned Asmodeus's actions. Privately, some started to make deals with the future lord of devils. The reason for this was He Who Was. The lawful good god was infamous for his incompetence, the degree of which was such that it would have caused the gods' defeat in the Dawn War and with it their end. Asmodeus made deals with gods and covertly with primordials, but in the end decided to take the divine side. One of these bargains gave him forever the right to use souls to maintain Baator.[88]

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,[91] but this had a very dark touch. Among others, this was done by turning Baator into a giat 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, due to the damage caused by the Dawn War, the system of souls beig transferred to the proper realms of their deities did not properly work. Souls that appeared outside of the proper divine realm could not enter any realm except of the Nine Hells and a lot of souls made use of this unique aspect of the Nine Hells.[92]

After the FallEdit

As mentioned above, one reason why the Pact Primeval-version of Asmodeus's origin story was not taken at face value was that it did not give an explanation for Asmodeus's violent fall into Baator, instead it made into a peaceful, albeit not friendly, parting with gods. However, the truth was Asmodeus literally fell into Baator and carried heavy wounds from the fall, which possibly caused Baator to break into nine layers.[23] When he crushed into Nessus, his fall stopped, not before he involuntarily drilled through Nessus, creating the deepest fissure called the Serpent's Coil. There his serpentine and bleeding body lay around. From the blood from these bleedings arose the first baatezu.[93]

Asmodeus was acknowledged to be the oldest devil in existence, but him being the first ruler of Baator was not a claim that was believed by everyone.[3] The one who did not believe it were correct.[94] Contrary to how the Pact Primeval-origin story presented Baator,[67] Baator was not an empty wasteland. It was inhabited by something. 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.[95] While it was not clear what exactly these original denizens of Baator were, their ruler was known by the name of Zargon. When Asmodeus came to Hell, he took a personal hand in killing the aristocracy of the local denizens. When fighting Zargon, Asmodeus had problems killing him, because the creature constantly regenerated around his literally indestructible horn. Asmodeus solved this problem by ripping off said horn and throwing into the Prime Material plane, to be precise on Toril on the spot where eventually the Imaskari city of Cynidicea arose.[96]

In HellEdit

His position secured, Asmodeus lived his life as the overlord of Baator. His tentative goal was to heal his wounds from his fall by receiving atheists' souls from cults cultivated by him.[24] He created a bureaucratic system that had its center in Grenpoli on Maladomini.[97] His intra-Baator politics revolved around keeping his position. He was succesful at it and over the years, observed the come and go of many archdevils.[21]

He also recruited new ones. For example, he allegedly steered Baalzebul to the path of corruption by appearing to him as a beautiful venomous flower while he was still an archon called Triel. However he became a devil, Baalzebul became a powerful one[59] and also one of Asmodeus's favorites.[98]

At some point, he took Bensozia as his consort and had a daughter with her called Glasya.[99] Levistus, the archdevil of Stygia at that time, tried to rape his consort[72] and get her help at deposing Asmodeus, she did not want it and so he killed her.[71] In a fit of rage, Asmodeus encased Levistus in an ice block where he lay unconsciously. Geryon overtook the position of archdevil of Stygia.[100] Asmodeus's relationship with his daughter was a weird one. On one hand, Asmodeus was acknowledged as a caring father—at least as far as devil standards were concerned.[101] On the other hand, Glasya was most easily described as a ne'er do well and troublemaker towards her father and other archdevils.[99]

Another archdevil who either fled or left Baator was Gargauth. The exact circumstances were not known, but Asmodeus played a crucial role in what was known. Gargauth left either because he tried and failed to oust Asmodeus and had to flee because of it or Asmodeus killed Beherit, Gargauth's closest ally, which prompted the Outcast to leave.[102]

Graz'zt was an archdevil under the employment of Asmodeus. He was charged with fighting the Blood War and invading the Abyss and getting the shard of evil for him. However, after conquering three layers of the Abyss, he could not advance further due to the resistance he faced by Demogorgon and Orcus. He broke away and turned into a demon lord. Whether he severed all ties with Asmodeus's and if he did, whether it would remain such was not known.[70]

Another one was Malkizid. This one was 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.[103]

Apart from the archdevils, it was believed that Asmodeus at some point, financed a project to create the yugoloths. He payed night hags with the goal to create them, so he had an army that was not tied to Baator. This plan, if it was true, ultimately failed.

The Reckoning of HellEdit

Main article: Reckoning of Hell

The Reckoning was an event that consisted of the archdevils revolting against Asmodeus and the latter surviving it without harm. The key catalyst for this were Baalzebul's ambitions that increasingly clashed with Asmodeus's.[104]

At that 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. These factions' armies eventually clashed in Maladomini with the intention to determine who should inherit Asmodeus's crown.[105]

All of their planning and ambitions was for naught, Asmodeus secured the loyalty of Geryon and honeycombed the eight armies up to the highest level. On Geryon's signal, the pit fiend commanders turned on their archdevils and their troops were no more while Asmodeus was literally unscathed.[106]

Various archdevils acted in various manners and Asmodeus generally left them with their realms. He installed the institution of the Dark Eight. Thus giving an effective promotion to the pit fiends who were loyal to him. Regarding the archdevils, in the order of the layers they ruled, Zariel was allowed to keep her layer; Dispater was allowed to keep his layer; Mammon made an embarrassing show of begging Asmodeus's for forgiveness, who did forgive him by allowing him to have his layer, but forbade him to keep his relationship with his daughter; Belial went to the background to evade responsibility and managed hold on power by accepting Asmodeus's condition to hold power together with his daughter Fierna; Geryon was disposed—despite of his loyalty—and Levistus was put back to consciousness and elevated to the rank of archdevil of Stygia; Moloch was convinced—by Malagard who worked for Geryon and therefore for Asmdeus—that if he made a convincing show of defiance, Asmodeus would respect him and absolute him from all crimes, none of the sort happened. He was deposed and Malagard, who convinced him to join the fray to begin with, became the archdevil of Malbolge; Baalzebul was allowed to keep his position at the cost of his body being transformed into that of a giant slug; Mephistopheles was allowed to keep his position. All in all, all archdevils were forced to accept Asmodeus as their superior and Asmodeus could be sure that he knew of the potential usurpers capabilities[107] while also reminding them of their position in a dramatic way.[108]

The reasons why Asmodeus deposed Geryon were a mystery. However, there were at least three possible explanations that were accepted by scholars. The first one was that this spurred an increased sense of loyalty in Geryon and he started to work even harder for Asmodeus in the hopes of being reinstalled into his old position; the second one was that it was meant as some kind of reward by Asmodeus, if it was the recipient did not think it that way;[109] the third one had to do with Asmodeus's desire for faithless people, Geryon at some point came&madsh;at least for a moment—to the conclusion that life was pointless and became food for Asmodeus who hungered for the faithless.[108]

Actions on TorilEdit

As mentioned above, Asmodeus became Baator's ruler by getting rid of the former ruler Zargon by tossing his horn onto Toril, there, after a long time, Zargon regenerated again around his horn at some point after the city of Cynidicea arose. It was not exactly clear when Zargon arose, but the city was part fo the Imaskari empire.[96] This meant that the timeframe could be narrowed down to -7975 DR, when the first emperor was crowned, and -2487 DR, the fall of the western part and crowning of a new dynasty.[110]

Whenever it was, Zargon terrorized the people of Cynidicea, who started to worship him in hope of appeasement by conducting sentient sacrifices. These Zargon-worshipers started to take their sacrifices from other places and bought with it the ire of these people who attacked them, their hero was killed by Zargon as were a few of these people's gods. Asmodeus stepped in and defeated Zargon. Asmodeus did not step in, because he cared in any way for the dead gods, but because he did not want the original ruler of Baator to be free. To ensure that Zargon stayed sealed away, for Asmodeus could not kill him, he encased the elder evil in stone and buried Zargon's worshipers alive.[96]

After the Reckoning in HellEdit

Even after the Reckoning, some turnovers happened among the archdevils. Bel managed to gain the trust of Zariel and abused it to depose her, rising to the rank of archdevil. Asmodeus approved of this under the condition that Bel would concentrate on the Blood War with the Dark Eight. Bel agreed. It caused so much time of his to be consumed by the Blood War that he did not have sufficient time left to plot against his superiors.[62]

The second turnover was caused by the sudden bloating and death of Malagard around 1372 DR. Malbolge was reformed and Glasya became an archdevil. Asmodeus did three things. First, he managed to reign in his unruly daughter.[111] He did this by scolding her made it clear that she had to take on some responsibility, if she had a contiued interest in her privileges, something Glasya agreed after throwing a fit.[112] Second, he gave her Geryon's powers as an archdevil to make her sufficiently strong that she could fill the position, making clear that Malagard was nothing short of a placeholder for his daughter. Third, to provide her with a good staff, he allowed her to recruit competent devils even if it was at the detriment of her fellow archdevils, a privilege Glasya made full use of, much to the chagrin of her fellows.[113]

Post-Spellplague EraEdit

Asmodeus symbol - Lee Moyer

When Dweomerheart collapsed in the wake of the Spellplague, 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.[25] He knew that this war could restart at any time and would immediately do so with a united demonic front, if he did something like invading the Abyss. Therefore, he started to organize his strength so that when the war restarted, it would do so under circumstances that were favorable to him.[44]

Regarding his divinity, it turned out that Asmodeus had at some point divine influence on Toril that waned away. The aforementioned act gave it back to him and his cult was on the rise in the 15th century DR.[25]

At some point after the Spellplague, Asmodeus re-instituted Belial as an archdevil, which meant that he demoted Fierna from that position.[114]

ChosenEdit

NotesEdit

Asmodeus was the patron of might and oppression. He was the overlord of the Nine Hells, Lord of the Ninth, and the mightiest devil of all.[115]

AppendixEdit

Creative originsEdit

Asmodeus is named for the Judeo-Christian demon, Asmodai from the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit and for a fallen angel of the same name who appears in John Milton's Paradise Lost. [116]

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.

Publication HistoryEdit

In The 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.


SourcesEdit

4th Edition D&D

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ConnectionsEdit

The Lords of the Nine
Asmodeus
The Archdevils
BaalzebulBelBelialDispaterFiernaGargauthGeryonGlasyaLevistusMammonMephistophelesMolochZariel
Other Lords of the Nine
The Hag CountessTiamat

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 | Gilgeam | Lurue | Moander | Nobanion | Tiamat