Hellcats, also called bezekiras, were feline hunters that stalked the Nine Hells. They obeyed the whims of their masters but were notoriously independent, willing to change loyalties within an instant.
While some hellcats had the forms of lions, others appeared to be tiger-sized domestic cats. Their size ranged between 6‒9 ft (1.8‒2.7 m) long and they often weighed 900 lbs (410 kg).  Hellcats were invisible in the presence of light and moved with silent grace. In total darkness however, they could be seen as a faint, wraith-like outlines with bodies seemingly composed of bright light and flickers of fire. They could only be seen from 30 ft (9.1 m) away, or 60 ft (18 m) away if their viewer had low-light vision, when under darkness. Magical darkness on the other hand concealed them by smothering their light in shadows. Just like their fangs, their malevolent eyes glowed crimson, and it was rumored that one could see the fires of Hell if one looked far back enough into them.
|“||Allow me to help you with your standing. Let's start by killing our old master.||”|
|— Mierile Six-lives.|
Bezekiras lacked all the charm associated with felines but had an abundance of their more infuriating traits, the most dangerous of which being their capriciousness. While they would serve under other beings, protecting them and helping them commit wicked acts, they were completely independent at heart and willing to drop all allegiances to their current masters the moment one judged to be superior made themselves apparent. They would attack old masters without complaint and betray their new lords as easily as their last ones.
Bezekiras always chose to obey baatezu above all others, but even then their loyalty to individuals among them was pliant. The first and foremost quality by which they judged mortals as potential masters was by their alignment. They only followed those committed to the ideals of law and evil and while they ran from those of non-lawful evil alignments, they would attempt to convert those drifting toward evil to their alignment. A hellcat would almost always abandon their masters for those of greater power, provided that such a being would have them. Hellcats preferred masters were priests and clerics, followed by specialized casters, regular casters, fighters and then rogues.
If not properly fed, hellcats would turn their owners into their meals. When given two options for masters judged to be equivalent in desirability, hellcats decided randomly between the two. Creatures of lower than average intelligence by the standards of humans were regarded as disposable tools for Hell.
Invisible when under any kind of light, bezekiras were only visible in total, non-magical darkness. Despite their incorporeal appearance, it was possible to make physical contact with a hellcat and they themselves fought with tooth and claw. They were resistant to magic and enchanted weapons, although they could be hurt normally using holy water or bless spells, and could be kept at bay by firmly displaying holy items. The feline independence of a bezkira was so powerful as to be supernatural, protecting them from all mind-affecting magic.
Bezkiras moved about in virtual silence, constantly on the prowl for any opportunity to do evil. In battle they normally pounced upon their enemies, although they enjoyed outwitting their opponents rather than using brute force, such as through ambushes. Beings of evil alignment were either left alone or scouted as potential masters, while those of good alignments were to be immediately killed.
The sole purpose of the hellcats was to serve Hell's rulers by enacting the wills of lesser devils, commonly by acting as associates and familiars. Their exact position in Hell's hierarchy was not fully understood, although they seemed to be a more specialized and better regarded than other infernal familiars. They were seen as capable spies and inconsequential errand-runners, but were nonetheless untrusted unless given protective duties, in which case they performed zealously to earn their master's favor.
Specially trained hellcats would use their keen sense of smell to pursue the enemies of Hell where other fiendish forces were loathe to venture. Whether sent by their baatezu master or called by a foolish mortal, bezkiras were occasionally let loose from their native Baatorian layer to stalk the Prime Material Plane. From there, they pursued the interests of Hell by serving powerful beings of lawful evil and converting others to the same alignment, a service that granted them unique rewards and duties upon their return.
Hellcats possessed a unique sense that allowed them to sense how powerful an individual was, letting them scout the power of potential masters before telepathically offering their aid. Despite their capricious behavior, compelling a hellcat to betray their master was incredibly difficult. Outside of introducing a superior power of lawful evil, one could simply wait until the bond broke naturally. A bezkira remained on the Material Plane only for a year and a day, before returning to the Hell in the place they were first spawned. They returned upon midnight on the last day and knew the exact time they would be sent back, allowing them to plan with their masters accordingly. While they could return to the Material Plane after two weeks, they did not always reappear where they left and their bond with their previous master was not automatically restored, forcing one to reacquire their services.
Hellcats came into existence in three ways, with the most common way being for them to reproduce like normal animals. The rank of hellcat could also serve as a form of punishment for a baatezu, although it could also work as an uncommon reward for petitioners that perpetrated acts of great evil in front of a lesser of greater baatezu. For various reasons, those in the form of a hellcat often stayed that way for a long amount of time, regardless of if it was a reward or punishment. Baatezu transformed into hellcats remained in their forms for a long period of time, and even longer if they do poorly as a way to force them to learn how to use their form. Petitioners that continued to perform well were also kept in hellcat form, a position considered vastly more favorable than demotion to lemure or nupperibos status.
Bezkiras could be found on any layer of the Nine Hells aside from Nessus, since Asmodeus didn't employ them and rarely tolerated the presence of his servants' servants in his domain. Within the howling snowstorms and darkened skies of Cania, hellcats were incapable of relying on their usual method of invisibility. Hellcats within the layer were forced to use the environmental hazards to their advantage, concealing themselves within its blinding blizzards and moving unheard thanks to its deafening winds. Within the frozen wasteland they could still use their impeccable sense of smell to track down their quarry.
Hellcats were carnivores that completely devoured their prey, although not before terrorizing them so as to flavor their flesh with fear. They demanded live human or demihuman victims once per week, requiring no other form of sustenance.
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- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 54–55. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 Colin McComb, Dori Hein (February 1995). “Monstrous Supplement”. In Dori Hein ed. Planes of Law (TSR, Inc), pp. 12–13. ISBN 0786900938.
- ↑ Don Turnbull (1981). Fiend Folio. (TSR Hobbies), p. 50. ISBN 0-9356-9621-0.
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 Tim Beach, Donald J. Bingle, Al Boyce, Vince Garcia, Kris Hardinger, Steve Hardinger, Rob Nicholls, Wes Nicholson, Norm Ritchie, Greg Swedberg, and John Terra (1992). Monstrous Compendium Fiend Folio Appendix (MC14). (TSR, Inc), p. 33. ISBN 1-56076-428-7.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Ed Greenwood (July 1983). “The Nine Hells, Part I”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #75 (TSR, Inc.), p. 21.
- ↑ Robin D. Laws, Robert J. Schwalb (December 2006). Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 22. ISBN 0-7869-3940-0.
- ↑ Robin D. Laws, Robert J. Schwalb (December 2006). Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 72. ISBN 0-7869-3940-0.
- ↑ Monte Cook (Oct 2002). Book of Vile Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 58. ISBN 0-7869-0672-3.
- ↑ Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (DM's Sourcebook of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 51. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
Least: Advespa • Lemure • Merregon • Nupperibo
Lesser: Abishai (Black • Blue • Green • Red • White) • Barbazu • Hamatula • Narzugon • Osyluth • Spinagon
Greater: Amnizu • Cornugon • Erinyes • Gelugon • Paeliryon • Pit fiend • War devil
Alu-fiend • Archdevil • Cambion • Fimbrul devil • Hellcat • Imp • Kyton • Orthon • Seared devil • Succubus • Tar devil