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Mephistopheles (pronounced: /mɛfɪzˈtɑːfɛlizme-fiz-TAF-e-leez[15]), sometimes shortened to Mephisto and once under the name of Molikroth, was the lord of Cania, the eighth level of the Nine Hells. He was the main opponent of Baalzebul during the Reckoning of Hell, and still holds a claim to his own layer. He sought to take Baalzebul's layer away from him, that he may gain enough power to one day challenge Asmodeus for rulership of all the Nine Hells.

There are few problems that cannot be solved through the application of overwhelming arcane firepower.
  — Mephistopheles[16]

DescriptionEdit

Mephistopheles played his up infernal image as much as possible, intentionally appearing as the classic archetype of a diabolical devil.[4][17][18] He was 9 ft (2.7 m) tall and striking, his handsome visage and charming yet unnerving smile of self-superiority contrasted by his more monstrous features.[18][1] His fiendish claws,[17] bright, crimson red skin, large, bat-like wings and impressive, curling ram horns all left his hellish heritage on proud display.[4][18] Another source of contrast was his dead-white eyes against his long, straight, black hair, as well as his dramatic, flowing cape as dark as the deepest void.[4][2]

Earlier reports of Mephistopheles claimed that he once had an image more befitting of Cania. He had blue-black skin across his heavily muscled body; wings, horns, and claws a deep shade of blue, scales of sooty black, and eyes that were pale blue except for the red irises and pupils.[7]

When Mephistopheles was donning his Molikroth persona, he appeared as an obese man whose gross levels of fatness were frankly absurd. Despite being only 7 ft (2.1 m) tall he was still massive because he was wider than he was long, competing with creatures like hill giants in terms of sheer mass. Even when the waddling baron was swathed in clothes made from only the most ridiculously expensive materials that were the height of Sigilian fashion styles, all his foppish finery couldn't hide his ultimately foolish appearance.[5][14]

PersonalityEdit

Mephistopheles was a being of razor-sharp instinct and prodigious brilliance, a cunning genius[9][10] with an unparalleled understanding of Hell's political dangers and a great capacity for patient deception.[1] Foremost wizard of Baator,[10] his ordinary speech was like a whispering wind[7] and his cool, pleasant demeanor gave him the outward appearance of a princely gentleman.[9][1][11] He came off as sophisticated and charming when he spoke, an intellectual force of understated wit, reason and self-restraint. However, this was by no means his ordinary behavior, but a facade like Dispater's which disguised his true personality, a veneer of elegance as carefully crafted as his traditionally infernal appearance.[1][4][19]

Mephistopheles

Mephistopheles surrounds himself in blazing fire.

Despite his courteous persona, Mephistopheles was an unstable individual on the inside, the contrast between his cold surface and fiery core a perfect example of his existence as a walking contradiction. Mephistopheles was a vicious being with an outrageous temper, who when alone in his palace frequently flew into violent rages, his quick wit burning away when met with his underlying hate and frustration. In his shrieking fits of terrible wrath he would start tearing at his own skin and destroying his surroundings in explosive outbursts of fiery, magical destruction, his unpredictable eruptions of rage having been his undoing multiple times. Although his conniving intelligence was certainly real, Mephistopheles was an emotional entity that was ultimately driven by his passions.[1][4][20]

ObsessionEdit

Mephistopheles suffered no distractions from his focus, his studious pursuits being of upmost importance to him.[10] Though he would entertain visitors purely for his own amusement, a rarity among the archdevils,[1] he hated any unwanted distractions and rarely gave time to anything not worth his personal attention. He was known for disintegrating underlings for the slightest annoyance, only allowing a few devils to speak without being spoken to and sometimes executing them simply out of the suspicion that they would bother him. Further cementing him as an contradictory entity was the strong but flickering nature of his focus.[9][10]

Mephistopheles's great intelligence often ended up mixing with his obsessiveness, as in his pursuit of knowledge he became fascinated with the most minor details. Though this allowed him to delve deeper into topics than typical wizards, his unrelenting focus had to be tempered by his responsibilities and was ultimately undermined by his mercurial behavior. When forced by some political circumstance to stop what he was doing, there was a chance upon returning that some new project would catch his eye, at which point the research would become his new top priority instead. Because of this cycle of undivided attention followed by casual neglect, Mephistopheles had many useful discoveries ready to be accessed that he simply didn't know about.[10]

PrideEdit

While his anger and neurotic tendencies were weaknesses, which he could either hide or use to his advantage, Mephistopheles' most damaging issues were his rampantly unchecked megalomania and recklessness in the pursuit of power.[1][4] Though he'd hate to be compared to Baalzebul, both archdevils seemed incapable of being content and compulsively overextended themselves, Baalzebul's plans collapsing under the weight of his unrealistic expectations and Mephistopheles becoming so absorbed in his plans that he ignored his overall wellbeing.[1][17] Mephistopheles's manifestation of greed however was somewhat opposite to that of the Lord of the Lies, who hid his goals through skillfully woven deception, since Mephistopheles's execution of wicked plots was always extreme and dramatic, his brazen ambition almost glorious in its nakedness.[1][4]

Were Mephistopheles to become the King of Hell, it would take him less than an hour to start wondering why he wasn’t also ruler of Mount Celestia.
— Martinet, constable of Asmodeus[17]

Mephistopheles was perhaps the most entitled of the archdevils, an avatar of envy who resented the fact that he was "merely" the second most powerful archdevil. Always jealous of others, he couldn't get enough of prestige, wondering where his awards were when another was rewarded for service[17] despite having continually, confidently and directly told Asmodeus he planned to take his throne.[1][4] Though willing to fawn if needed,[20] he normally didn't bother to cloak his intent with fake vows of obedience, truly believing that he was the rightful ruler of Hell, that his destiny was to rule it, and that he deserved to be worshiped as a god.[1][4] He constantly demonstrated this attitude anew each day, and likely wouldn't be satisfied even if he achieved this primary reason for existence.[17]

MolikrothEdit

Hmmm. A new toy. Drop it in the glacier and we'll watch it die for a few years.
  — "Molikroth"[21]
When donning the mask of Molikroth, Mephistopheles was a being without mercy that reportedly harbored great hatred for Asmodeus.[5] While an archdevil being cruel wasn't exactly unusual, Molikroth stood out by the sheer extent to which he took his sadism,[14] crushing most visitors between glaciers for years as a form of entertainment[21] and utilizing the powers of cold in such agonizing ways that even godly agents would want to beg for mercy.[14] He rarely his citadel both out of a preference for victims to come to him and out of a complete interest in active and direct governance, as well as vigilant protection of his territory.[14][21]

PowersEdit

Mephistopheles was a being impervious to the cold, not just due to having ruthlessly exposed himself to Cania's coldest temperatures, but because of his unrivaled mastery of hellfire. A corrupt and extremely potent energy with the properties of flame, hellfire was unimaginably hot and created by tapping into and mastering the profane essence of Hell and channeling into a usable form of power. Unless he chose to repress it, his body would emanate dark flames, causing anyone who touched him, or anyone near by if he evoked into a burst around him, to be scorched by the unholy energy.[1][4]

To further his mastery of fire, Mephistopheles took up the study of wizardry, specializing in evocation magic modified to taint his foes with foulest evil, with a noticeable disinterest in enchantments and illusions. Given the nature of baatezu politics, Mephistopheles rarely traveled alone, often bringing two bodyguards with him anywhere he went and able to summon a few gelugons or pit fiends, often choosing the latter, while his accompanying servitors kept the enemy busy. Given his sense of self-importance, he believed anyone who dared attack him deserved no less than utter obliteration, and so let loose a barrage of offensive magical destruction from the rear of the fight, teleporting away and leaving his allies to their fate if met with a real threat.[1][4]

Though lacking the most powerful spells as a wizard, Mephistopheles' innate spell-like abilities more than made up for it. He could cast all sorts of ice and fire related spells, showcasing his mastery of both elements, such as cone of cold, fireball, and wall of ice or fire, meteor swarm being his most powerful and the one he could use only once per day.[18][1][4] He was also capable of inducing fear, either through an aura or via his gaze.[7]

As Molikroth, he specialized in ice-related magic so powerful that no known spell could fully protect one from his frigid powers. The longer one fought the Baron, the more frostbite would set in, and after several minutes the body would begin slowing down as cold induced torpor and numbed the reflexes.[14]

PossessionsEdit

Mephistopheles' favored weapon was a three-tined military fork or ranseur.[7][17][2] He was known to have different types, such as one that could switch between inflicting fire, cold, and electricity, each three times per day.[7][17] Another switched between burning eternally and being covered in frost, and allowed the wielder to focus hellfire spells to be more devastating.[2][4][18] Aside from that and other magical items,[1] the laboratories in his home citadel were filled with spellbooks containing nearly every known arcane spell, allowing him to prepare almost any he pleased.[4]

ActivitiesEdit

Recently the Lord of the Eighth had been devoting most of his time and incredible amounts of energy to his pet project, that of mastering and experimenting with Hellfire, a new form of magical fire with new and interesting properties. This obsession with the enterprise caused a virtual upending of Cania's power structure, with the ice devils that once stood at its peak forced to migrate to the colder mountains on the fringes of Cania.

Mephistopheles' goal was the expansion of his material plane cult by offering mastery of Hellfire as an incentive. However, the expansion was taking a toll on his soul-harvesting efforts, and he was being forced to borrow divine energy from the other archdukes, particularly Dispater and Levistus at an alarming rate. Mephistopheles risked much in his gamble on Hellfire, and if it were to pay off, his mortal cult would be larger and more popular than any other archduke's, including Asmodeus'.

RealmEdit

He resided in Mephistar, a blue-white citadel fashioned of ice that sat atop a glacier called Nargus.

WorshipersEdit

HistoryEdit

Mephistopheles once engineered his own coup, replacing himself with Baron Molikroth. However, Molikroth was just an alias of Mephistopheles, and that duplicity has now ended, as well as the lives of "Molikroth's" co-conspirators.

Mephistopheles failed to unseat Asmodeus during the Hells-wide rebellion known as the Reckoning. If it weren't for his canny consort Baalphegor, whose mere presence greatly protected him from the Lord of Nessus, Mephistopheles would, likely, have been at best demoted upon the Reckoning. His largest rival was Baalzebul, and his court ran thick with plots against the Lord of the Flies.

Once the court magus of Asmodeus in Nessus, Mephistopheles gained the rulership of Cania by seizing it away from Rimmon. After the Reckoning, he seemed to fall into a slumber, remaining frozen and unmoving, until he led a coup against himself in the guise of Baron Molikroth and then destroyed all his co-conspirators against himself.[citation needed]
Mephistopheles MH

An aspect of Mephistopheles.

In more recent events, Mephistopheles had persuaded his half-breed son, Magadon, to release the devil inside of him and therefore bring himself and his fellow companions Erevis Cale and Drasek Riven to Cania through some manipulation of Erevis Cale's ability to travel the shadows. Mephistopheles then proceeded to kill his half-breed son, when Erevis Cale stepped in and promised Mephistopheles a portion of the god Mask's divinity to him in return for Magadon's soul. Mephistopheles agreed to this under one condition, that condition being he kept half of Magadon's soul there until delivery. Erevis Cale later returned to Cania and sacrificed his life for the return of Magadon's soul. It was at this time that the new demigod Drasek Riven, who had also absorbed part of Mask's divinity traveled to Cania and paid Mephistopheles a visit. Riven attacked and badly wounded the archdevil, and told him that if he ever stepped out of his domain that Riven would utterly destroy him. Mephistopheles replied by telling Riven that he will come back, and he will be waiting for him. He seemed to think that Riven would be back for Erevis Cale at some point in time.

Mephistopheles, along with Dispater, was once an ally of Mammon, but Mammon betrayed them both.[22]

Attack on TorilEdit

Not too long after 1372 DR, a drow matron afterwards known to history only as the Valsharess managed to bind Mephistopheles into her service on the material plane, in Toril. Aided by his powers, she proceeded to conquer much of the Underdark, and even went on to try to expand her influence on the surface, attacking Waterdeep through Undermountain.

Meph waterdeep

Mephistopheles arrives in Waterdeep.

Previously, an adventurer fleeing the briefly re-activated but now again falling Netherese city of Undrentide into the Plane of Shadow had come across a strange relic that they had used occasionally to access the small plane of a strange creature known as the Reaper. This item was in fact meant for the leader of a cult of Mephistopheles, and contained a piece of the devil's own flesh. Later the adventurer, by then quite famous and powerful, came to Waterdeep to aid the city in its struggle against the Valsharess's forces. Mephistopheles manipulated the Valsharess to eventually bring the adventurer into her inner sanctum, where she ordered him to kill them. At this point, her control over Mephistopheles was loosened, since the relic carried by the adventurer bound them to the archdevil, and by ordering him to kill the adventurer she broke the pact which she used to bind him.

Instead of complying, Mephistopheles left the adventurer and his party free to duel and kill the Valsharess. He then sent them to Cania in his stead and set out to conquer Toril, intending to turn it into a new layer of Hell that would go down below the Ninth and make him the new supreme ruler of the plane. He raised the dead souls he had gained from the recent battles between the Valsharess and her enemies as a special form of spiritual army and began to follow a similar course of conquest to hers, advancing from the Underdark to Waterdeep. However, the adventurer, who had by this time grown in power far beyond that of most other mortals, was able to escape Cania by learning the Reaper's true name (Hecugoth the Abandoned), return to Toril and banish Mephistopheles back to his old domain before he could destroy the City of Splendors.

According to this account, Mephistopheles's true name is Thra'axfyl the Ambitious. It can be deduced however that since Mephistopheles remains a threat to the planes as nobody's slave, the adventurer either did not learn this or chose for some reason to not use it to its full potential.


AppendixEdit

AppearancesEdit

Adventures
Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus
Novels
ShadowbredShadowstormShadowrealm
Video Games
Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 Robin D. Laws, Robert J. Schwalb (December 2006). Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 69–72, 84, 153–155. ISBN 0-7869-3940-0.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Jeff Grubb, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan (September 2001). Manual of the Planes 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 122–123. ISBN 0-7869-1850-8.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ed Greenwood (August 1983). “The Nine Hells, Part II”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #76 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 26–31.
  4. 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 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 Monte Cook (Oct 2002). Book of Vile Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 62–63, 161–165. ISBN 0-7869-0672-3.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Colin McComb (September 1997). Faces of Evil: The Fiends. Edited by Ray Vallese. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 32. ISBN 0-7869-3430-1.
  6. Template:Cite dungeon/140/Heart of Hellfire Mountain
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Gary Gygax (August 1983). Monster Manual II 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), pp. 47–48. ISBN 0-88038-031-4.
  8. BioWare (December 2003). Designed by Brent Knowles. Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark. Atari.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins, James Wyatt (2014). Dungeon Master's Guide 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 65–66. ISBN 978-0786965622.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 16–17, 20, 23. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Richard Baker, John Rogers, Robert J. Schwalb, James Wyatt (December 2008). Manual of the Planes 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 104–105. ISBN 978-0-7869-5002-7.
  12. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 79, 81. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  13. Robin D. Laws, Robert J. Schwalb (December 2006). Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 28. ISBN 0-7869-3940-0.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 Colin McComb (November 1995). “The Lords of the Nine”. In Pierce Watters ed. Dragon #223 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 17–18.
  15. Frank Mentzer (January 1985). “Ay pronunseeAYshun gyd”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #93 (TSR, Inc.), p. 28.
  16. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 16. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 17.7 Chris Pramas (1999). Guide to Hell. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 35–36, 44–46. ISBN 978-0786914319.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 Robert Wiese (2007-02-16). Fiendish Codex II Fiendish Aspects. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2020-09-23}.
  19. Jeff Grubb (July 1987). Manual of the Planes 1st edition. (TSR), pp. 109–111. ISBN 0880383992.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Template:Cite book/Book of Vile Darkness 4th edition
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Colin McComb (February 1995). “Baator”. In Michele Carter ed. Planes of Law (TSR, Inc), pp. 13, 24–25. ISBN 0-7869-0093-8.
  22. Robin D. Laws, Robert J. Schwalb (December 2006). Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 149. ISBN 0-7869-3940-0.

ConnectionsEdit

The Lords of the Nine
Asmodeus
The Archdevils
BaalzebulBelialDispaterFiernaGlasyaLevistusMammonMephistophelesZariel
Other Unique Devils
BelGargauthGeryonThe Hag CountessMolochTiamat
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