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Keep wasting my time with your pointless words and die, or join my war band and live. Choose swiftly. I have a plane to conquer.
  — Zariel to emissaries from Dis[4]

Zariel (pronounced: /ˈzɑːriɛlZAR-ee-el[5] or: /ˈzɛəriɛlZAIR-ee-el[5]) was an archdevil of the Nine Hells and the ruler of Avernus.[4][6]

PersonalityEdit

Zariel lived to fight and judged people on their combat skills and willingness to use those skills. She prized zeal as much as training, and left many a structure in ruin.[4]

At the same time, she dispatched emissaries to aggressively seek out bargains with mortals who showed promise as skilled and devoted combatants.[4] Bargains with Zariel were eternal and indissoluble, and the freedom she provided for their mortal servants to hone their skills in life ensured that they became loyal and dangerous servants.[3]

AbilitiesEdit

Despite being an aggressive and accomplished negotiator, Zariel's greatest abilities lay in her war tactics, her command of the battlefield, and the frenzied inspiration she provided to her troops, often personally leading charges into demonic hordes.[4]

Zariel had the ability to cast at will fireball, alter self, invisibility, wall of fire and detect evil and good. Three times a day she was able to cast finger of death, blade barrier and dispel evil and good.[3]

PossessionsEdit

Zariel lived in a massive fortress in Avernus. It was made of basalt and spanned an area of 5 square miles (13 square kilometers). Those who displeased Zariel were chained to the outer walls, and their screams of agony could be heard from almost 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) away. The fortress was defended by a variety of devils.[3]

ActivitiesEdit

Zariel in Avernus-5e

Zariel flying across the wastelands of Avernus.

Zariel managed access to and from the entire layer of Avernus. She had complete authority over who could pass through the layer.[3]

She also personally oversaw all military activity on Avernus. She led a furious offensive campaign against the demonic hordes invading the layer, and had managed to almost completely drive them off.[4]

CultEdit

The Cult of Zariel attracted those who had the desire to find glory in battle but lacked the necessary experience. The cult provided military training to new acolytes. Most of the new acolytes were experienced warriors from martial organizations such as fighters' guilds and mercenary companies. Zariel's cultist were often led into battle by cambions.[7]

During Zariel's imprisonment, her cult dwindled considerably and her followers were scattered.[8]

RelationshipsEdit

Zariel resented Tiamat for having been at her mercy during the time of her demotion. Unable to kill the Dragon Queen, she was instead bent on removing her from her home plane, seeking out mortals who wished to free Tiamat from her prison in Avernus.[9] Her disdain for the political machinations of the other Lords made her a political pariah in the Hells.[4]

A few tieflings carried the blood of Zariel. They were stronger on average than typical tieflings and possessed a few innate magical abilities connected to aggression and battle.[10]

HistoryEdit

Zariel Descent

Zariel as an angel…

Zariel fall-5e

…and after her fall.

Zariel was originally an impetuous angel of Celestia,[11] who was tasked with tracking the progress of the Blood War on Avernus. Continued exposure to the plane led her to grow obsessed with the war and developed a growing taste for battle, which eventually led her to believe that an assault from the hosts of Celestia could wipe out both sides of the Blood War in one stroke and free the multiverse of those fiends. Frustrated by her superiors' refusal to engage in the war, Zariel decided to act on her own and led a host of mortal allies into Avernus. Following her defeat, Zariel was brought to Asmodeus, who then stationed her as Archduchess of the layer and named her his champion.[4] She was tasked to protect Avernus from enemies who sought vengeance against the rebellious angels.[12]

Zariel later sided against Asmodeus in the rebellion known as the Reckoning of Hell. Following the conflict, she retained her position as Archduchess of Avernus, but then the Dark Eight were promoted by Asmodeus to take command of the layer's armies.[13] They used this position to stage a coup and overthrow Zariel, establishing the pit fiend Bel as a puppet Lord of the First in their stead.[14][15][13] Hoping to reduce Zariel into an empty soul shell, Bel kept her locked in a prison in the Bronze Citadel while siphoning her powers to augment his own abilities.[16] Zariel was constantly tortured by abishai servants of Bel, who continuously carved off bits of her flesh to feed their master.[8].

Do not pity the fallen angel. Fallen angels survive the fall. How many souls did Zariel bring down with her?
— Mordenkainen[3]

Some time later, Bel fell out of favor with Asmodeus due to his inability to successfully repel a demonic invasion of Avernus. Zariel reclaimed her title as Lord of Avernus following Bel's demotion. He was forced to serve as Zariel's advisor[3] and remained one of her chief lieutenants, waiting for her reckless tactics to lead to a mistake, so he could claim his title back.[4]

Shortly after her reinstatement as Archduchess, in the late 15th century DR, Zariel allied herself with the Red Wizards of Thay at the time of Severin Silrajin's attempt to summon Tiamat into Toril. She assisted in their efforts by sending out mortal agents and by facilitating rituals of devil summoning. Her efforts, however, were opposed by Bel and his allies, who instead wished to keep Tiamat in Avernus.[9]

Under her rule, Avernus was turned into a wasteland. Where large cities with considerable commercial activity once existed, only ruins remained. The only active sites were defensive citadels, built mostly along the banks of the River Styx or around portals to Dis.[4]

Invasion of WaterdeepEdit

On a Founders' Day in the late 15th century, Zariel was summoned onto Waterdeep's Field of Triumph. She, in turn, summoned a host of devils and bid them spread chaos in the city. Waterdeep briefly became a battlefield in the Blood War, as demons were attracted by the sudden presence of devils. Zariel hoped that strong adventurers would appear to defeat the fiendish invasion, and that she could lure or blackmail them into her service. A group of adventurers, commanded by Blackstaff Vajra Safahr to restore order to the city, was able to defeat Zariel and banish her back to the Nine Hells.[17]

Zariel-panels

The Saga of Zariel

Rumors & LegendsEdit

Zariel was mentioned in The Trial of Asmodeus, a theater play written by the aasimar bard Anodius, allegedly based on real events. According to the play, during a long trial in the court of Primus orchestrated by the angels of Celestia to bring Asmodeus to justice for his crimes, then-angel Zariel protested as she demanded to be heard. The confusion turned into battle, as Asmodeus watched, smiling.[18]

Legends held that Zariel also had a measure of environmental control over the entire layer of Avernus. This effect manifested itself as seemingly random fireballs that constantly detonated throughout the place, apparently drawn by moving creatures.[19]

AppendixEdit

AppearancesEdit

Adventures
Video Games

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 7. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  2. Adam Lee, Christopher Perkins (September 17, 2019). Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 144. ISBN 0786966769.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 180–181. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 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.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Adam Lee, Christopher Perkins (September 17, 2019). Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 4. ISBN 0786966769.
  6. Wizards RPG Team (2014). Monster Manual 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 68. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  7. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 21. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Robin D. Laws, Robert J. Schwalb (December 2006). Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 143. ISBN 0-7869-3940-0.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Wizards RPG Team (2014). The Rise of Tiamat. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 10, 44. ISBN 978-0786965657.
  10. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 23. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  11. Wizards RPG Team (2014). Monster Manual 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  12. Robert J. Schwalb (December 2011). “Codex of Betrayal: Glasya”. In Steve Winter ed. Dungeon #197 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 62.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Robert J. Schwalb (December 2011). “Codex of Betrayal: Glasya”. In Steve Winter ed. Dungeon #197 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 63.
  14. Chris Pramas (1999). Guide to Hell. (TSR, Inc.), p. 39. ISBN 978-0786914319.
  15. Robin D. Laws, Robert J. Schwalb (December 2006). Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 35. ISBN 0-7869-3940-0.
  16. Jeff Grubb, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan (September 2001). Manual of the Planes 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 117. ISBN 0-7869-1850-8.
  17. Codename Entertainment (September 2017). Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms. Codename Entertainment.
  18. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  19. Robin D. Laws, Robert J. Schwalb (December 2006). Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 36. 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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