- Asmodeus (Dungeons & Dragons)
title=King of HellLord of the Ninth
domains=| alias=Lord of Nessus
In the "
Dungeons & Dragons" roleplaying game, the name Asmodeus is given to a fictional Arch-Devil of the game's version of Hell ( Baatorin 2nd Edition; also in early 3rd edition but increasingly referred to as "the Nine Hells" in 3.5 products). There he is the Overlord of the Dukes of Hell.
In the game's fictional history, Asmodeus retained his position all through the
Reckoning of Hell, unlike many of the other arch-devils. Asmodeus is lord of Nessus, the Ninth Layer of Hell, though he is generally recognized as lord of all Baator.
Asmodeus is named for the Judeo-Christian demon,
Asmodaifrom the deuterocanonical " Book of Tobit" and for a fallen angel of the same name who appears in John Milton's " Paradise Lost." [cite web |url=http://www.geocities.com/rgfdfaq/sources.html |title=Literary Sources of D&D |accessdate=2007-02-23 |last=DeVarque |first=Aardy]
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
Asmodeus did not initially appear in 2nd edition, and in the
Planescapeline the lord of Nessus was unnamed and mostly a secret. Eventually, the Lord of the Ninth was revealed indeed as Asmodeus, in "Guide to Hell" (1999). [Pramas, Chris. "Guide to Hell" (TSR, 1999)]
Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)
In third edition, Asmodeus appeared along with the other lords of the Nine Hells in the "Book of Vile Darkness" (2002). [
Cook, Monte. " Book of Vile Darkness" ( Wizards of the Coast, 2002)]
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)
Asmodeus was further detailed in the "Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells" (2006). [Laws, Robin D, and Robert J Schwalb. "" (Wizards of the Coast, 2006)]
Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-)
Asmodeus appears as one of the gods of evil in the 4th edition "Dungeon Masters Guide" (2008). [James Wyatt. "
Dungeon Masters Guide" ( Wizards of the Coast, 2008).]
Through all four editions of "Dungeons & Dragons", Asmodeus is depicted as the strongest, most cunning, and most handsome of all devils. He is typically described as appearing as a giant human, over 13 feet tall, with dark skin and hair, red eyes, handsome features, and small horns on his forehead. He dresses in regal finery of unimaginable expense (the cost is the same a small country used on food in a year). Beneath his clothing, Asmodeus' body is covered in bloody wounds which he sustained when he fell from the Upper Planes. His wounds ooze blood daily, and the drops of his blood which touch the ground grow into powerful devils, normally Pit Fiends that are mad with rage and the desire to kill. Blood from these Pit Fiends that hits the ground grows into lesser devils.
Asmodeus is never seen without his "Ruby Rod" (also referred to as "The Rod of the Asmodeus" in "The Book of Vile Darkness" and in "Fiendish Codex II"), a glowing rod of pure ruby that serves as a badge of office as well as having several powerful offensive and defensive powers. The Rod allows Asmodeus to attack with elemental forces, force his enemies to cower in fear, or cover himself with a field which heals and protects him. The Rod has the names of several good-aligned deities spelt backwards.
Like the other Archdevils of Baator, Asmodeus has the ability to cast many spells at will, and is nearly impossible to hurt without the use of very powerful holy magic weapons. Asmodeus' Ruby Rod allows him to use several powerful offensive and defensive spells at will. In addition, Asmodeus has the power to alter the form of lesser devils, including the other lords of Baator. He transformed Mammon into a humanoid/serpent hybrid, and cursed Baalzebul with the form of a gigantic slug with tiny, useless arms. He can also summon up lesser devils, normally his favored Nessian Warhounds. One of his most potent abilities is his Aura of Submission, forcing creatures within 30 ft. to make a save or be "dominated."
Outside of his powers, Asmodeus's mind itself is deadly weapon. He's an Archdevil, and is therefore extremely intelligent. He is a patient and cunning schemer. A tribute to his power and intelligence is the fact that he is able to maintain his rule over Baator and the entire race of devils. The "Manual of the Planes" states that there have been numerous attempts by his subordinates to overthrow him but none has ever succeeded.
In "Dragon" # 28, the article "The Politics of Hell" by Alexander von Thorn details the history and politics of Hell in the "AD&D" universe. This gives a different history to that detailed below, and includes statistics for Satan, Belial and Astaroth. Satan is more powerful than any other Devil, but lacks support, having been exiled from hell by Baalzebub following a revolution. Baalzebub (meaning Lord of the Arch Devils) was later himself overthrown by Asmodeus and is forever after known 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. Some myths even state that he is the original source of evil in all of the multiverse. Though it is important to remember the books specifically states this story is a myth and its accuracy is unverified, as such from an in-game point-of-view different regions and kingdoms could have different stories in relation to Asmodeus.
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 this would have occurred during). 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
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.
In the myth that Asmodeus created Baator (from the "Codex") it states that Asmodeus tortured souls in a far off section of the upper planes and that when their screams filled heaven the gods once again tried to remove Asmodeus from the upper planes, but by the Pact Primeval Asmodeus was allowed to torture the souls in heaven. Asmodeus offered the gods an alternative; give him the power to create his own plane of existence from which to torture the souls that broke heavenly law. The gods agreed and Asmodeus and his devils left and created the Nine Layers of Hell.
In both myths, the gods found the arrangement agreeable, at first. 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, as well as to one day achieve godhood.
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.
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.
This story first appeared in the old AD&D supplement guide to hell: Asmodeus is described as Ahriman, the twin brother of
Jazirianthe god of the couatls. In this story Jazirian and Ahriman were responsible for the establishment of the current arrangement of the planes but fought eventually because of their perspectives of the law(LG versus LE). Asmodeus is said to be a greater power without any need of worship in the guide. As the Forgotten Realms supplement Serpent Kingdoms, as well as the 2e supplement Monster Mythology, tells Jazirian is/was the lawful good aspect of the now-dead overpower the World Serpent, Asmodeus should be the lawful evil one.
Elder Evils" names the original ruler of Hell as Zargon, a creature originally described in Dungeon Module B4: "The Lost City", by Tom Moldvay. [Schwalb, Robert J. Elder Evils. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2007]
As of 4th Edition Asmodeus has become the God of Power, Tyranny, and domination.
The following beings are among the most notable subjects of Asmodeus on Nessus. The forces at their disposal are listed, where appropriate:
*Adramalech — Chancellor of Hell, Keeper of Records (DR76).
*Alastor the Grim, pit fiend — Executioner.
*Baalberith, pit fiend — Major domo.
Bensozia— Consort of Asmodeus, Queen of Hell (Deceased) (DR76).
*Buer — 15 companies of pit fiends (DR76).
*Bune — 30 companies of cornugons (DR76).
Glasya- Daughter of Asmodeus and Bensozia, former Mistress of the Erinyes, now Lord of the Sixth (DR76).
*Martinet, pit fiend — Constable.
*Morax — 9 companies of pit fiends (DR76).
*Phongor — Inquisitor of Hell (DR76).
*Rimmon — 5 companies of gelugons (DR76).
*The Spark Hunters - Lord Asmodeus's personal guard of 13 hamatula rangers/mortal hunters who capture and/or slay mortals who draw their master's ire.
*Zagum — 30 companies of hamatula (DR76).
The cult of Asmodeus
Few of Asmodeus' followers are known by name. A notable exception is Christophe Jean Markosian "the Devil Behind Thrones," a hierarch of the
Horned Societyin the " World of Greyhawk" campaign setting.
* Brunner, Frank. "Strike on the Rabid Dawn." "Dungeon" #111 (
Paizo Publishing, 2004).
* Larme, John. "Dangerous Games? Censorship and "Child Protection" [http://www.members.tripod.com/anthonylarme/gc/gamesthesis.pdf] (
* Von Thorn, Alexander. "The Politics of Hell." "Dragon" # 28. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1979.
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