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Bel was once an archdevil in the Nine Hells that acted as the Warlord of Avernus until he was supplanted by Zariel. He was a military genius that specialized in misdirection and led with careful tactics in contrast to his successor's berserker rage.
Despite being an archdevil, Bel still closely resembled a pit fiend, appearing as a 12 ft (3.7 m) tall, crimson-scaled colossus with massive, bat-like wings, clawed extremities, and fangs that dripped a green, smoking venom. His visage was brutal and bestial but nonetheless infernal, warped by innumerable years of willful wickedness and hatred.
Calculating and calm in his assessments, Bel was one of the greatest military minds in the Nine Hells, using every tactical advantage available and only engaging in battle on his own terms. His favored tactics involved ambushes, double-crosses, feints and counter-feints, backstabbing his enemies while anticipating the treacherous moves of his rivals. While he occasionally erupted with anger upon being foiled, he was generally cool-headed, a far cry from the constant, fiery fury of Zariel.
Cunning, analytical and above all, a realist, Bel was fully aware that demons were infinite in numbers, if not literally than effectively, and so depended on slow defensive advances to fend them off. He was a long-term logistician and in his mind the most he could do was contain the endless hordes of the Abyss. Even if victory only lasted for a day, he valued the help of anyone who could aid him in his duties, mortal or otherwise, and gave fair hearings to those who offered. Difficult to deceive and typically only attacking when attacked, at least directly, Bel could be a reliable ally if approached with respect rather than duplicity, providing riches, information, letters of safe passage and other forms of aid.
Bel's powers were simply those of a physically and magically enhanced pit fiend. His sheer presence could be so overwhelming that even virtuous, weaker beings were left paralyzed with terror while others were struck with awe. As a general, he preferred to fight from afar and never went into battle without minions to command, always mixing up his summons. He used cornugons as aerial attackers and was especially adept at calling gelugons, which he used to deal with the most powerful foes. Meanwhile, he let loose destructive spell-like abilities like wall of fire rarely deigning to enter melee unless he held some advantage and even then rarely committing to it. When he did decide to go into close quarters combat he was incredibly dangerous, but saved his most potent weapon, his venomous bite, for arcane spellcasters.
Bel's personal weapon was his jagged greatsword, a strangely curved blade that radiated with heat and was covered in flames. Bel's blade was not only effective against demons, as well as cold-based creatures, it was known and feared by demons everywhere for having been used to slay thousands of their own over the course of the Blood War. The weapon had also been used to neatly sever the heads of at least a dozen angels, their decapitation not preventing them from screaming while attached to his belt.
As the lead general in the Blood War, Bel spent most of his time and energy advancing the devils' agenda against the demons. However, he had little time left over for other pursuits, such as establishing a mortal cult. Because of that, he was the only archdevil who did not have a cult, although some warriors worshiped him.
Bel originally served the archdevil [Zariel, but he betrayed and dethroned her, eventually imprisoning her to absorb her power.
After his uprising, and subsequent transformation into an archdevil, he gained some favor from Asmodeus. However, the other archdevils did not trust him, and often called him the Pretender, due to his all-too-ready betrayal of his mistress. None of the other archdevils moved against him either, though, as Bel's uprising also wiped out most of their operatives.
As much as he lacked support among the other archdevils, Bel did have the support of the Dark Eight, a not-insignificant force itself. Moreover, he began to forge an alliance with Tiamat, who maintained a domain in Avernus.
Although an archdevil, Bel was originally a lemure. However, he climbed the ranks of diabolical promotion until he was a pit fiend in the service of Zariel, his predecessor as Lord of the First. Eventually, though, he betrayed her as well, dethroning her in a brutal uprising that left him as the Lord of the First.
Claiming that Bel's tactics were inadequate in defending Avernus from demon incursions, Asmodeus later reinstated Zariel as ruler of Avernus and relegating Bel to a supporting and advisory role. Because Zariel was at the mercy of Tiamat during her demotion, she looked forward to get rid of her presence in Avernus. For that reason, Zariel helped encourage the reformed Cult of the Dragon and the Red Wizards of Thay to summon Tiamat to Toril. Bel and his supporters, however, opposed that decision.
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- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Chris Pramas (1999). Guide to Hell. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 28–30, 39–40. ISBN 978-0786914319.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Robin D. Laws, Robert J. Schwalb (December 2006). Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 15–16, 28. ISBN 0-7869-3940-0.
- ↑ Colin McComb and Monte Cook (July 1996). “The Dark of the War”. Hellbound: The Blood War (TSR, Inc), pp. 13, 20–21. ISBN 0-7869-0407-0.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Adam Lee, Christopher Perkins (September 17, 2019). Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 113–116. ISBN 0786966769.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-0786966240.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Monte Cook (Oct 2002). Book of Vile Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 143–144. ISBN 0-7869-0672-3.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Colin McComb (November 1995). “The Lords of the Nine”. In Pierce Watters ed. Dragon #223 (TSR, Inc.), p. 14.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Wizards RPG Team (2014). The Rise of Tiamat. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10. ISBN 978-0786965657.
- ↑ 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 Robin D. Laws, Robert J. Schwalb (December 2006). Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 35–37, 142–143. ISBN 0-7869-3940-0.
- ↑ Robert Wiese (2007-02-16). Fiendish Codex II Fiendish Aspects. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2020-05-26}.