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D&D 5E A Banquet In The Nine Hells

MortalPlague

Adventurer
My Rise of Tiamat campaign is nearing its final chapter. We've gone off into homebrew territory on many occasions, and the end result is that my PCs will be 17th level as they enter the climactic finale. They have Dispater, Lord of the Second Level of Hell as an ally. And so, before their final push, Dispater will hold a banquet for the PCs.

The real motivation here is for Dispater to offer the PCs power in exchange for their souls. If the assault goes poorly, he'll be in possession of several powerful souls. If the assault goes well, the PCs will owe some of the victory to Dispater. And eventually, he gets their souls. Either way, he wins.

That being said, I want this to be an opportunity to explore just what a banquet in the Nine Hells might look like. What's being served as food or drink? What sort of things do archdevils get up to at parties? What sort of entertainment is there? I'd love to solicit the creative input of ENWorld's finest. Everyone on these boards is always full of ideas, and stealing them has led to some excellent gaming.

Bonus: If you can create an archdevil for me who can show up at Dispater's court, I'd be delighted. I have about three or four prominent ones in mind, but there will be dozens of bit players at the banquet. A quick, interesting physical description and something they might converse with the PCs about would aid me a great deal in adding texture to this banquet.
 

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Fralex

Explorer
Well, I imagine if the goal is to entice the players, the archdevil wouldn't try to make the banquet too... exotic for a typical humanoid. No unicorn flank or anything. They'd want their guests to feel comfortable and at home, so the banquet would probably resemble a mortal's grand feast, but grander. They'd mysteriously have all the guests' favorite foods available, in the finest presentation infernal magic can buy.

Which is not to say nothing out of the ordinary can happen. I mean, these are still DEVILS. Maybe they eat mortal food to seem less intimidating, but still want to have SOME fun, so they include hellish wine smelling of brimstone for themselves to drink. The sort of thing a devil can get drunk on (Dispater would, of course, want to keep a clear head this whole time, but other devils could drink). Maybe a few archdevils get a little tipsy? Could be fun. What do drunk devils do? Sing songs in Infernal that make mortals' earwax bubble faintly? Whine about how they wish they'd followed their dreams of being a fiddler? Maybe start trying to make really transparent offers to the PCs for their souls involving a role-playing game? I don't know how serious or silly a story you're going for here, so just use whatever stuff sounds good.
 

MortalPlague

Adventurer
Well, I imagine if the goal is to entice the players, the archdevil wouldn't try to make the banquet too... exotic for a typical humanoid. No unicorn flank or anything. They'd want their guests to feel comfortable and at home, so the banquet would probably resemble a mortal's grand feast, but grander. They'd mysteriously have all the guests' favorite foods available, in the finest presentation infernal magic can buy.

Hard to make a 17th level PC uncomfortable, mind you. :)

I was thinking I might go with a roasted purple worm as the centerpiece, with all sorts of interesting dishes around. It would be interesting to have the characters' favorite foods, especially for the elven noble. It begs the question how Dispater's staff knows how to perfectly prepare noble elven dishes.


...so they include hellish wine smelling of brimstone for themselves to drink.

Oh yes. Hellish drinks will certainly be offered. And partaken of.


Maybe a few archdevils get a little tipsy? Could be fun. What do drunk devils do?

Botch the fineprint on a contract. :p

That could definitely be fun, though, to have an archdevil or two get a little too deep into their cups. I'm going for semi-serious, so I don't want to overdo it, but it's still going to be a party, and a chance for the PCs to mingle with fun NPCs.
 

fuindordm

First Post
Have a few legendary musicians providing entertainment. Sure they're damned, but at the moment they look sleek and well taken care of.
If you really want the players to consider taking the bargain, then let them negotiate an escape clause. E.g. if they win, then they can reclaim their souls by doing Dispater a favor sometime in a fixed term... or the contract is void if Dispater fails to fulfil a future service (which the party might think they can trick him out of doing).
 

Unwise

Adventurer
For entertainment, they have
A) a fiddler named Johnny with a golden fiddle who is engaged in a musical battle with a devil, winner takes all
B) two bards, Kyle and Jack who are told to "play the best song in the world, or I'll eat your soul!"
C) an old blues man, Robert Johnson, who sold his soul to be able to play guitar well. He now has to play for the devils, but he makes them so depressed...
 

Khasimir

First Post
This is a brilliant idea. If it were me, I'd include lots of persons from their past attending or possibly serving: people they've killed, family members, vanquished villains, etc.
 

Mallus

Legend
In the (in)famous "Wedding in Hell" adventure from our old 4e campaign, there was a traditional Southern Hell-style pit barbecue that was to serve a captured pig-deity (Kamapua'a, from Hawaiian mythology), with a variety of sides, include roasted elf children.

(we liberated the lot of them prior to, thankfully)

I recall fountains of human blood champagne punch and tartar of undeniably sentient origin from the reception itself. My Dragonborn paladin was actually kinda fond of both.
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
While it isn't a devil's banquet (a 'loth's banquet instead), the following is a rather unique dinner that I wrote up for my Storyhour (warning, lots of blood):


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The black oblivion of unconsciousness lifted along with the black cloth hood from over Malcolm's head. A brilliant spotlight focused upon his face, burning his eyes and forcing him to squint and attempt to turn his face. A vaguely insectile hand roughly grabbed his jaw and forced him to look forward as another, similar hand painfully held his hair and some sort of tentacle or tongue wriggled near his ear. A third hand grabbed his left arm, pressing upon a nerve in his wrist and forcing his fingers to release wide. A fourth hand gripped his index finger and forced something around it, a ring of some sort.

Where was he? What was going on?

He struggled to move and found the act impossible. He was seated, his upper arms were bound at his sides, and his legs were lashed to the chair.

"So good of you to join us Malcolm." A mockingly concerned voice called out from beyond the nimbus of the spotlight. Without his eyes yet adjusted, he could make no identification, but the speaker was female and confident, arrogantly so. "I trust that your transit here was swift and comfortable? Hmm?"

A buzzing sound resonated within his head, and the hand grasping his hair constricted tightly. Answer her mortal!

"Where am I?!"

"No no no..." The distant voice chided playfully. "Malcolm you're not quite understanding just how this works. This evening we'll do doing quite a bit. Some dinner and entertainment, much like any evening of mine, but to start things off, I'll be asking questions and you'll be answering them. You don't get to do the same."

"Who the bloody hell are you?"

A gloved fist backhanded him suddenly, causing stars to flash in his vision, and then the myriad of hands on his person were forcing him back up and looking forward.

"You stole something from me Malcolm, or at least one of my couriers anyway."

The woman's voice was unhappy, but not furious. Likely he'd be beaten but he hadn't done anything to merit anything more serious. That line of thought was normally appropriate for the mortals that Malcolm had worked with prior to his arrival in Sigil. Under those presumptions a little bit of mouth could defuse things, earn him some professional respect, even if it was rude.

"See?" Malcolm wisecracked. "You answered my question."

"Break every bone in his right hand." The woman's voice was utterly devoid of concern or empathy. There was no momentary pause where reason overruled ethics or socially constructed moral limits.

The clawed hand on Malcolm's jaw moved down, closing like a vice around his forearm and holding it in place. What happened next he couldn't tell, it happened so quickly and the pain nearly caused him to black out, but it was likely a hammer that slammed into each of his fingers one by one in quick, professional succession. They had broken a man's bones before and they were very good at it.

Someone was screaming, loudly. They were whimpering and howling, begging for mercy. They were apologizing for having stolen something. Malcolm inwardly winced at the agony in their voice. Light then returned to his eyes and he realized that he was hearing his own voice.

"That's such a beautiful sound." The woman sighed, relaxing as if she were seated in a cushioned private box at the opera. "Oh, and one of you not already predisposed, fetch me some wine."

"Red or white your Fiendish Majesty?" One voice obediently asked.

"Given the proposed dinner menu this evening, I'd have to suggest a red. Nothing too sweet, something deep and complex to provide a contrast I suppose. But depending on certain factors that we won't know until it's time to prepare the meal, bring a bottle of Sauternes as well, and a crisp white if the chef serves the sweetbreads."

He could barely feel anything in his right hand beyond the fierce, constant ache of crushed, bleeding tissue. Yet through the pain his eyes were finally adjusting to the room's harsh light, and he could finally make out who was speaking to him, talking about her dinner and wine pairings while watching his torture.

The room was relatively small and the walls were hung with multiple layers of heavy, black cloth, presumably to muffle the noises of screams. A pair of tieflings dressed in black flanked him, one of them smiling and holding a bloody hammer. Malcolm avoided looking down at the damage to his hand, just based on the pain he knew that without a cleric's aid, it was probably going to be crippled or lost. Something larger and inhuman stood behind him, its tongue periodically licking alongside the back of his head.

"Let's start over Malcolm." His captor spoke from where she sat directly opposite him against the far wall, seated upon a cushioned throne, legs crossed and a glass of wine delicately held in one clawed, opera-gloved hand. "It seems that we've gotten off to a bad start."

She wasn't human or fiend blooded. She was a full-blown fiend of some sort, essentially a humanoid jackal groomed and primped like a self-obsessed princess. She wore a long and tight fitting, wine red gown, opera-gloves of the same color, and a purplish black under-bust corset. A dozen jeweled rings, earrings, necklaces, and a ratty tangle of coiled razorvine atop her head completed the baroque and wholly out of place ensemble, unless you also counted the ruby-red polish applied to the claws on her toes and hands where the gloves were open to display her fingers.

Something passed over Malcolm's mind, a series of fingers brushing against his consciousness that were cold and distinctly different from the buzzing, alien voice that had touched his brain earlier.

"It is a nice gown isn't it?" The fiend put a hand at her breast and smiled, looking not at her prisoner but at her reflection in the mirror. "Given the color and material, blood doesn't stain it nearly as much as other outfits."

Two other figures stood between Malcolm and the fiend, both of them on opposite sides of the room from the other. The first was another of her tiefling guards dressed in well cut, expensively tailored black clothing. Unlike the others however he wasn't carrying any weapons or objects of torture: he was holding aloft a heavy, ornately framed wall floor-length mirror. As far as Malcolm could tell, his only purpose was to hold the mirror aloft for the fiend's vanity. Half of the time she wasn't even looking at Malcolm, but rather staring at her own reflection in the mirror and admiring herself in an obnoxious display of rancid vanity. The final person was also a tiefling, but this one wore an ivory white chef's jacket and matching pants, his hair neatly tucked into a white cap. A series of knives and other kitchen implements were stuff into his belt and the table at his side bore the requisite objects of a fantastically high-end kitchen: pots, skillets, bowls, cutting board, and to the side, constructed into the wall, a stove-top and oven.

"Dinner and a show." Shemeska the Marauder smiled at Malcolm and idly held out her left hand. As if on cue, one more newly arrived tiefling handed her a wine glass and poured it full of wine to match her dress. The room operated like a ferociously rehearsed stage play at her desire.

Malcolm looked at the mirror, and in its reflection he could see the creature that stood behind him. The chitinous monstrosity that stood there was easily twice the size of anyone else in the room, and occasionally the tongue that he'd felt touch his head was more a tentacle tipped with a lamprey-like mouth. The creature was a vaath, a native horror of Carceri's second layer of Cathrys, but Malcolm didn't know that, nor was he aware that they fed on their victims both their flesh and their fear, burrowing into their brains and experiencing things through their eyes as well as showing the victim the torture from that end as well. Malcolm was one of the Clueless, only recently arrived in Sigil, and so he only saw it as some horrific fiend. In the reflection he also saw the shard of crystal forcibly embedded into its forehead, leaking a greasy, greenish light, and how its glazed eyes looked to the Marauder for its each and every action.

"Whatever I have done to you Madam, I am truly sorry." Malcolm's tone was genuine as he understood the depths of his mistake.

She didn't bother to respond in words, nor even to look at him as she admired herself in the mirror and addressed the tieflings that flanked her victim, "Is the ring of regeneration firmly in place?"

"Yes your Fiendish Majesty." One of the tieflings drew a serrated filleting knife and the other a bone saw. Still at the table, the chef began sharpening his knives while a dozen sauces reduced and side dishes waited for a main course that was nowhere to be seen at his station.

Malcolm's eyes went wide as he understood what was going to happen.

Taking a sip of her wine, the fiend closed her eyes and savored the taste on tongue and nose. The moment passed and Shemeska the Marauder opened her eyes. Looking directly at Malcolm she smiled, licking her lips, "Proceed."

***​

A tortured, gargling moan filled the chamber like hellish chamber music, providing an undertone accompaniment to the delicate chink of golden tableware on fine porcelain, the chime of rings on a fine crystal goblet, and flowing, articulate commentary on the meal.

"This is truly spectacular." The Marauder gently dabbed a napkin to her lips. "I genuinely did not expect to enjoy the taste of the sweetbreads as much as I have, nor to find the meat as tender as it is. My compliments to the chef... and to Mr. Malcolm."

Shemeska raised her wine glass in toast to the man being tortured and vivisected half a dozen feet away.

"The seared liver was remarkably rich, the Carpaccio dish with bitter Minethys truffle, lemon, garlic, and flesh taken from the psoas major was clean and true to expectations and..." She paused as Malcom's lung's regenerated to the point where he could finally begin to scream again. As if listening to an operatic aria of sublime artistry, she closed her eyes and listened to each note of agony, trembling and biting her lower lip after a minute when her victim's lungs collapsed again, silencing the pitch back to a ruined moan.

"I'm so rarely this true to myself Malcolm." Opening her eyes again, she licked her lips and smiled, displaying a dichotomy of painted purple lips and bloody jackal's fangs. "Public appearances being what they are, I can only indulge myself in this way so very rarely. The meal has been excellent, and even more so, your suffering."

The fiend smiled and motioned casually with the hand not grasping her wine glass. The torturers nodded and the chef shuffled the pots currently on the flame for others, preparing for the next array of dishes.

"Would Her Fiendish Majesty be ready for the next round?" The chef's voice was disturbingly upbeat and anticipatory, reflecting a genuine desire to show off his skills for an appreciative patron. Whether by pride and ethics dulled by experience, or by genuine sociopathy, the chef ignored the hellish nature of the scene in its entirety, from the moaning, bleeding man, the smiling, well dressed torturers, and the freshly cut slices of human cheek and tongue braising on his stove-top.

The next twenty minutes proceeded just as before, with the Marauder's servants vivisecting their victim and her chef preparing the highest of haute cuisine from the extracted organs and meat, producing and naming each with a flourish.

"Flash fried, thinly sliced ear dressed with white truffle infused honey."

The Marauder inhaled, savoring the smell before tasting with a pair of golden chopsticks.

"Crisp baguette with a topping of liver pate with dried cherries and pistachios, dressed with mustard, sorghum, and arugula."

"Spectacular." The fiend cooed as she took the first bite, and then motioned towards Malcolm's ruined form with the plate in her hand. "I would be truly remiss if I didn't offer to share. Seriously mortal, this is sublime. You simply must try once your tongue regenerates to the point that you can taste."

The bloodied mortal turned his head away, wincing in disgust, blinded by pain, and gagging on copious amount of swallowed blood and fluid accumulated in his lungs.

"I insist," The Marauder approached and stroked his bloodied cheek with her claws before wrenching his jaw open with a revolting sound of breaking bone and cartilage. "Focus on the taste Malcolm. Trust me when I say that it will help for what the chef has planned for the next course."

She chuckled and resumed her seat, sipping at an alcoholic aperitif to cleanse her palate before crossing her legs and stretching with a contented sigh. "Tell us chef, what bit of genius is next?"

"If it would so please you Madam," He bowed and nodded to the tieflings flanking Malcolm. "A preparation of marrow served within the extracted femur with the ends still fresh, the center excavated and carved prior to its use as a container for the cooked yellow stroma."

Shemeska smiled and tapped her painted claws upon the arms of her chair. "That sounds truly delectable chef. But I have an additional request."

The tieflings paused in the midst of sawing open Malcolm's pelvis to expose the acetabulum and the glistening ball of the femur.

"I hate to be a glutton, I really do." The Marauder's voice was honeyed with false sympathy. "But I really do want a second preparation of the poached sweetbreads."

"... whhhy?” Malcolm seized and choked on the blood filling his lungs, alive only on account of the ring that caused his flesh to slowly regenerate and a second ring belatedly placed upon his other hand relieving him of the necessity to breath. “Whhy al you doinnng his? Pllees...pleees…"

"Malcolm... Malcolm..." Shemeska chided, placing the fingers of her right hand upon his tongue, pinching its tip between her thumb and index fingers. "You'll understand eventually, but for the moment, the meal is hardly over, and honestly, you haven't screamed nearly enough to my tastes."

The arcanaloth's eyes glowed with a lurid flicker of purple flame and with a soft, barely perceptible chuckle she pinched her fingers together, planted her left foot against the mortal's chest and pulled.

The sound of tearing, ripping flesh was drowned out by Malcolm’s apoplectic shriek.

"I don't think that I'll be wanting more of this," Spattered in blood, she dropped the two feet of tongue into the chef's hands with a careless shrug before retaking her seat. "But back to what I was saying before, if you would, once you've removed the femur, if you could crack open the chest cavity again to harvest the thymus a second time. Oh, and additionally, one of the kidneys for a pie later would be lovely."

***​

If not for the agonized screaming that erupted in fits and bursts, the chamber would have sounded like any other high-class dining room in Sigil with an open or adjacent kitchen. The rich smells of food though were undercut with blood, perfume, and the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh, and all the while the air filled with the sounds of sizzling pots and pans, the sound of knives on cutting boards, and the more refined and elegant clink of dinnerware on fine porcelain and soft murmurs of appreciation.

"The second course of milk-poached sweetbreads was spectacular." The Marauder smiled and held her hand off to one side to accept a small shot of crisp raspberry sorbet. Her palate thus cleansed, she gestured to the chef. Ignoring the suffering mortal only a few feet away, his blood spattered her dress, stained her teeth, and congealed upon her bejeweled finery. "What then for the next course?"

The chef's eyes sparkled as he smiled with unmitigated pride, "Her Fiendish Majesty will be dining upon a human Chateaubriand cooked with white wine and shallots moistened with demi-glace, topped with a tarragon butter and lemon."

Through the preparation and consumption, the fiend seemed to lick her lips more from the agonized screaming than from the dish itself, though both were truly inseparable as far as a meal concerned an entity such as herself. Over the next two hours the process continued with three further preparations of haute cuisine, interrupted only by a lengthy monolog on the fiend's part. Chuckling and sipping appreciatively on a glass of brilliant green Chartreuse liqueur, she speculated with rapt self-absorption on what prominent fashion trends bubbled upon the horizon of Sigilian high society, which she approved of, and which she desired nipped in the bud rather than have to endure wearing it.

Without magical intervention, Malcolm would have long before died of shock or hemorrhage. Mangled, posed, and harvested, only his face and digestive tract were intact, with much of the rest of his body broken, carved out, excavated, or amputated for the fiend's table or simply for her perverse aesthetic pleasure. What she allowed to remain intact however was only there to allow him to see, hear, and taste each and every dish during its preparation and then forcibly fed a portion by the fiend that stood behind him, all while providing his own screaming, wailing feedback.

"Am I boring you Malcolm?" The Marauder stood and walked over to the weeping mortal. There she paused, sipped the digestif in her hand and smiled. The meal was over, the pitch of the mortal's suffering had reached some subtle inflection point of agony, and it was time for something else.

Dressed in blood-spattered gown and glittering regalia, Shemeska kept a hand on her chest above the corset, holding herself steady and in place, breathing deeply, nearly erotically so as she approached and for the first time lowered herself to eye-level. Eyes wide she sniffed like a hungry jackal, tilting her head first to one side and then the other in a remarkably bestial fashion before leaning in further, closing her eyes and licking the tears from Malcolm's face. He could smell her breath with its mixture of blood, ash, and the assertive aroma of herbal liqueur, and for a moment her mind brushed his and he felt the paradoxical dichotomy of adoration and abhorrence filling her mind as she tasted that visceral manifestation of his suffering.

Purple painted lips peeled back to show jackal's fangs, her eyes glowed fiercely, and then the veil of culture reappeared as she took a cloth and delicately dabbed her lips clean of blood and alcohol.

"Malcolm," Her voice was cold and tinged with the faintest hint of amusement, "What exactly made you think that you could steal something from me?"

"It had nothing to do with you." Malcolm's tortured voice repeated an answer that he'd made a dozen times before that evening.

"How arrogant does one have to be to steal from a being of arrogance made flesh?"

"I didn't know that I was stealing from you!"

Sever his left foot. Shemeska's telepathic call rang out to every mind but her victim's.

"Where did you intend to sell the items that you stole?"

"Anyone who would buy it. It didn't matter! I don't know!"

Sever his right hand

"What was the first thought in your mind when you saw me smile upon your hood being removed?"

"You are beautiful madam. Truly beautiful!"

Shemeska smiled and leaned forward, kissing him upon the lips and leaving behind a trace lipstick, "Keep that memory treasured and well in mind then..."

Pluck out his eyes one by one, and set them in a bowl of Armagnac That statement was spoken to everyone, Malcolm included.

"One final question for you," Shemeska put a finger to his throat, feeling the blood irregularly pulse through his jugular. "Are you afraid to die Malcolm?"

"Yes, yes I am." He shuddered and momentarily his eyes rolled back in his head as his body -magical healing or not- threatened to simply collapse and die. "Please have mercy. Please don't kill me."

"Why not?"

"You're beautiful Lady Shemeska," Malcolm's voice broke and he descended into pleading, half-coherent platitudes. "I'll do anything for you. Anything! Say it and I'll do it. Anything. Please! Please! ANYTHING!!"

"Good..." Smiling coldly, Shemeska slowly and deliberately removed the multitude of rings and bracelets from her hands, placing them upon a golden tray carried by one of her servitors. One by one the others exited the room, leaving her and Malcolm alone. She licked her lips, stood up and stretched her head side to side. She cleared her throat twice while Malcolm wept in thanks, whispering prayers to every power he yet remembered the names of. His error was momentary as the Marauder spoke her next words. "Then I think that we're finally ready to truly begin then!"

Snapping her fingers, the lights extinguished, leaving the room in darkness cut only by the purple, ethereal glow of her eyes and the inner light of the soul gems dangling from the jewelry upon her ears and throat. Placing her hands upon his remaining fingers, she removed the ring of regeneration and spoke, not in planar common, not in the language of magic, but using words learned from another, Shemeska spoke in Baern. The words rattled the air, bringing tears to the fiend's eyes and the trembles of ecstasy thereafter, while the target of her blasphemous speech received the opposite. Upon the edge of death, Malcolm heard her words clearly through his fading consciousness, but otherwise he saw only fragments and snapshots of imagery through the pain: her fangs, her tongue across her lips, flame within her eyes, and the palpable touch of the words like slithering tongues and nimble, razored fingers as they broke down his mind, his memory, and seated themselves within his brain as a second, nearly autonomous creature, watching for the moment when it would take control.

[/sblock]
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
Dispater is godlike in terms of personal power in Dis, and if he's throwing the PCs a banquet, ask yourself what he intends to get from it that he couldn't get simply be killing them and taking their souls by brute imposition of his will? Perhaps he could do just that, and perhaps he could imply that as well. But you know, that wouldn't be polite and proper for an entity of his stature and sublime grace. The other Lords of the 9 might be so crass, but he's better than that, wouldn't you agree?

The banquet should be all about showing off Dispater's power and a monument to what sort of being he is. Given that the PCs are mortal, he'll probably dispense with overt bloodshed and stereotypical hellish scenery, because that would be cliche. He'll want to keep the PCs unbalanced a touch, just to make them entirely uncertain how to react to him and thus allow him the opportunity to ensure that they react to him rather than him to them. He's a devil and so it's all about control, and the entire event should be used to show just how much in control he is of events, even if it's not real in any particular event, even if it's based on lies, even if the chains are imagined rather than physical.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
I'd suggest a massive, brooding pit fiend. Much, much larger than others of its kind. It keeps staring at one of the party members. Suddently is marches up to them all intimidating like, and asks them to dance with a druken slur.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
This is brilliant.

My advice: let the players, if they are even moderately clever, figure out how to get one over on Dispater. Like maybe he dictates his contracts aloud to a scribe, and the PCs get leverage over the scribe to arrange for them to make a "mistake" in the fine print.

Outwitting a archdevil is the kind of epic win your players will talk about for years!
 

MonsterEnvy

Adventurer
Note that Dispater is very Paranoid and never leaves his Tower if he can or meets with people other then his most trusted Advisers. So at the Banquet Dispater would not show up in Person. He would likely send an aspect of himself so he is in no danger. Despite his Paranoia he apparently does not give any signs about it.

Roleplaying Dispater said:
The Lord of the Second affects a calm, controlled demeanor at all times. He makes an effort to remain gentlemanly and sophisticated even when committing acts of ferocious cruelty.

Mephistopheles is a close ally of Dispater so maybe he and or some of his court would come to the Banquet.

For other guests here are the most notable members of Dispater's court.

Dukes of Dis said:
Several unique devils, including Lilis (Dispater’s consort), Arioch the Iron Avenger, Biffant (Provost of the Iron City), and Titivilus (Nuncio of Dispater), are members of Dispater’s court. The armies of Dis are commanded by pit fiends and a few unique devils, including Alocer, Bitru, and Merodach.

Titivilus, Dispater's Viceroy and Ambassador is probably the most notable and has the most details of the devils of Dispater's court.

Titivilus details said:
For whatever reason, Dispater places great trust in Titivilus. The Lord of the Second allows his viceroy to represent his interests in nearly every matter, so often some believe either that Titivilus is in fact Dispater or that the viceroy has destroyed his master and conceals his treachery behind his smiling mask of gentility.
Given his role in Dispater’s court, Titivilus has enormous power and influence, able to send pit fiends fleeing and rouse the armies of Dis with a word. While most fear the viceroy, many despise him, resenting him for his closeness to Dispater. Even though these ruthless rivals would leap at the chance to take Titivilus down a notch or two, they are terrified by the guaranteed reprisals they would face should they fail.
The only member of Dispater’s court who shows no fear of Titivilus is Arioch the Iron Avenger. This powerful duke serves the Lord of the Second as his enforcer, sweeping over the city on his great black wings and descending on any he suspects of treachery against his master. Titivilus regards Arioch as his peer and treats him as such, though make no mistake: there is not love lost between these two and either would destroy the other if given the chance.

Book of Fire on Titivilus said:
“Part of Titivilus’s prominence in the Hells stems from whom he serves. All know Dispater to be a paranoid lord, sequestering himself away behind endless iron corridors, nasty traps, and terrifying minions. He rarely, if ever, leaves his tower, and when he does, it’s to descend into his city, Dis. Instead, he relies heavily on Titivilus to see to his interests. This grants this ambitious fiend uncanny responsibility, putting him in charge of far worthier dukes such as Arioch the Avenger and even Dispater’s consort Lilis. He is the gatekeeper and those who would treat with the Lord of the Second must deal with Titivilus.
—The Book of Fire
 

Fralex

Explorer
I was going to suggest Dispater trick them into believing they have outwitted him. Just to put them in a false sense of security.
 

I expect it would be endless. Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins after all. Somehow, you want to represent all of the sins at your banquet.

- So the food is eaten but instantly replenishes on the table, but never satisfies the belly.

- The banquet is served by male and female beings of perfect form and beauty, nearly nude, hinting, teasing, and remaining tantilizingly out of reach.

- The denizens never leave their seats though they grow thicker and fatter despite never being satisfied.

- Some get caught up and gobble at an ever-increasing pace.

- Dinner conversation is an unending stream of self-indulgent one-upsmanship.

- The most powerful, endowed, or desirous is found murdered in a dark corner.

- Fights periodically break out across the table over some choice bit of sweetmeat, or over the favors if a server or guest.

And so on ...
 
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Traditional, formal one-on-one combat to the death over the last morsel of honey cake according to the strictest standards of the Infernal Code Duelo, on the other hand make for a common popular form of mid-course entertainment in the Nine Hells...[3D][/3D]
 

Derren

Hero
I expect it would be endless. Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins after all. Somehow, you want to represent all of the sins at your banquet.

I second that, even if some of your examples are in my opinion a bit too direct.
The idea of the 9 hells in D&D are pretty much copied directly from Dantes Inferno, so I think is is most immersive to stay with the theme and make the hell a realm of sin, seduction and ironic punishment instead of brimstone and violence.
 

MonsterEnvy

Adventurer
I second that, even if some of your examples are in my opinion a bit too direct.
The idea of the 9 hells in D&D are pretty much copied directly from Dantes Inferno, so I think is is most immersive to stay with the theme and make the hell a realm of sin, seduction and ironic punishment instead of brimstone and violence.

Dis does not really fit any of those. While other layers do Dis is a place that just feels oppressive. Here on some details on the city.

The City of Dis said:
In keeping with Baator’s lawful nature, the realms within its boundaries sometimes appear impossibly large. This situation is not the case in Dis—perhaps because the city embodies a paradox. Although it contains potentially unlimited space, those who travel within it always feel hemmed in, trapped, and oppressed. In fact, one can walk its scalding streets forever and never get anywhere.
The approach to Dis presages its spatial peculiarities. The traveler moves on a punishing slant from a ring of spiny mountains. A road of broken skulls winds toward the black walls of the distant city, and one can reach it only by following this macabre track. Eventually, the skulls transform into spurs of hot iron.
No matter how long it takes to reach Dis, the entrance always comes as a sudden break in reality. The walls loom larger and larger, then suddenly the traveler has moved past them and is surrounded by ominously looming structures amid maze like streets. No two maps of Dis are the same because its configuration invariably changes by the time the cartographer finishes his sketch.
Building crews of least devils sweat and toil, tearing down old structures and erecting new ones with impressive speed. However, the improvements they make are never discernible, because the cityscape alters faster than any laborers could ever arrange. Supposedly, both the mundane and the magical alterations reflect the inner workings of Dispater’s mind. His paranoia can be seen in the increasingly cramped, warrenlike nature of the city’s new streets. Scrying devices have recently become omnipresent, so the walls of Dis have ears. Iron statues of Dispater follow passersby with red, paranoid eyes.

Almost all the structures in Dis are made of Burning Iron. This does not bother devils but mortals that come to Dis can be burned by touching a wall, door or pretty much anything.

Because I enjoy this more details on Dis.

The Iron Tower said:
The changes in the rest of the city seem gradual next to those experienced by Dispater’s fortress, which is located in the very center of Dis. This structure is always black, ugly, and surrounded by a wreath of dark smoke, but all its other physical features are subject to rapid change. The Iron Tower might be a squat dome one minute and a stabbing fist of iron the next. Regardless of its form, it remains visible from every point in the city except the Garden of Delights, and it always seems to be one block away. Devil instinctively understand how to overcome this spatial oddity and approach the structure, but other creatures trying to reach the fortress without the guidance of devils simply wander forever, remaining tantalizingly close to their goal without ever reaching it.
The interior of the tower looks like rest of the city, except that only Dispater and his servitors live there. His throne room lies in a vast, square vault, which always seems to be one corridor away to those who do not know the secret of moving directly into it. In fact, only Dispater’s most trusted chancellors know how to access his throne room unbidden. Rumor holds that a creature entering this inner sanctum finds itself inside an even larger city, even farther from Dispater than before, though the truth of such claims is unknown.

Mentiri said:
The fearsome prison known as Mentiri is hidden deep in the heart of Dis, at the terminus of a confusing labyrinth. Run by bone devils and staffed by Bearded Devils and Spined Devils, it serves a dual purpose.
One wing, the Bastille of Flesh, houses mortals captured in Baator. Here virtuous paladins languish together with heartless mercenaries and chaotic evil intruders. Mentiri’s jailers subject all their prisoners to hideous deprivations so that they must compete with one another to survive. Many prisoners, stripped of all decency and hope, are quickly corrupted. They either stoop to acts of evil, or begin shamelessly toadying to the guards. Either option eventually turns them to lawful evil alignment. Once prisoners become lawful evil and thereby grant their souls to Dispater, they are taken out and executed. Moments later, they reappear as soul shells on the Shelves of Despond on the first layer.
Mentiri’s other wing, the Bastille of Souls, warehouses the soul shells of individuals who were not lawful evil when they died but somehow ended up in Baator anyway. Some were captured on raiding parties to other planes; others are the souls of mortals slain in Baator and somehow trapped there. Because they do not rightfully belong to him, Dispater can’t turn them into lemures or wring divine energy from them, but he can and does hold them for ransom or exchange. Regardless of the reasons for their presence, mortals whose souls are trapped in Baator cannot be raised or resurrected.
Devils approach the still-living comrades and families of the individuals slain in Baator and try to convince them to sign Faustian pacts in exchange for their loved ones’ release. Released souls return to their destination planes as determined by alignment. Souls captured in raids are returned to their rightful planes in trade for misdirected lawful evil souls, or for goods, information, or services. Such negotiations are conducted by amnizus in Dispater’s employ.
 


MortalPlague

Adventurer
Have a few legendary musicians providing entertainment. Sure they're damned, but at the moment they look sleek and well taken care of.
If you really want the players to consider taking the bargain, then let them negotiate an escape clause. E.g. if they win, then they can reclaim their souls by doing Dispater a favor sometime in a fixed term... or the contract is void if Dispater fails to fulfil a future service (which the party might think they can trick him out of doing).

Legendary musicians could be very good, especially ones who died or vanished tragically young and are considered lost. My elven noble is a bard, so it would resonate with her if there were elves there, I think. As for the contract addendum or condition, that could be devilish fun, negotiating clauses. We'll see how negotiatory my players feel.


This is a brilliant idea. If it were me, I'd include lots of persons from their past attending or possibly serving: people they've killed, family members, vanquished villains, etc.

I do have a PC who was banished to the Abyss, I may have him put in an appearance in the entourage of a prominent devil who rescued him from the demons. Or maybe he rescued the devil and got taken in as a reward. Either way, he'll be a fun NPC to present.

I can't think of any suitable villains to really bring into play.


Dispater is godlike in terms of personal power in Dis, and if he's throwing the PCs a banquet, ask yourself what he intends to get from it that he couldn't get simply be killing them and taking their souls by brute imposition of his will? Perhaps he could do just that, and perhaps he could imply that as well. But you know, that wouldn't be polite and proper for an entity of his stature and sublime grace. The other Lords of the 9 might be so crass, but he's better than that, wouldn't you agree?

The banquet should be all about showing off Dispater's power and a monument to what sort of being he is. Given that the PCs are mortal, he'll probably dispense with overt bloodshed and stereotypical hellish scenery, because that would be cliche. He'll want to keep the PCs unbalanced a touch, just to make them entirely uncertain how to react to him and thus allow him the opportunity to ensure that they react to him rather than him to them. He's a devil and so it's all about control, and the entire event should be used to show just how much in control he is of events, even if it's not real in any particular event, even if it's based on lies, even if the chains are imagined rather than physical.

This is exactly what I hoped to get out of this thread, thanks Shemeska!

Dispater's motivations are simple (and informed by the adventure itself, actually); he wants Tiamat not to escape Avernus, and to continue to be a nuisance to Zariel, the ruler of the first level of hell. Therefore he has agreed to commit a legion of devils to the conflict. Any of his devils slain will merely reappear in the nine hells. And, I suspect, he enjoys the thought that no mortal can deny that he saved them. That they owe a great deal of praise to Dispater for their victory.

I have a few ideas for how Dispater could show his control. I plan to have him (or his Viceroy, if he's absent) to command a pit fiend to battle the PCs to the death. A cruel fate for the devil, and a display for his guests of the prowess of these mortals (who will dance for him, slaying a pit fiend who has displeased him). It will also let me throw in some combat without doing some hackneyed ambush in the middle of the dinner.

In addition, I plan for Dispater (or his Viceroy) to offer the PCs some liquor distilled from souls. "That's an aged Cain Devonbrook of Cormyr, blond and bearded with a light hint of valor and strong undercurrents of justice. Notice how the devotion breaks on the tongue, giving the sweet taste of despair at the end?" Purely a display of opulence and wealth, and a step towards corrupting any mortal who dines with him.


Note that Dispater is very Paranoid and never leaves his Tower...

Sir, this information is invaluable. Thank you for such wonderful, detailed information, both on Dispater and his court, and on the city itself. I had only read the snippets from the 5th Edition DMG, which is more of an overview than a detailed character study. Where is this information from? I may have to look this book up, particularly if I plan to bring in Mephistopholes (which would, admittedly, be tremendous fun).

I'm on the fence now about whether I want Dispater to show his face or not. If he does, however, it will likely be in close company and not at the party at large. Playing up the hatred of the Viceroy by the guests could provide a nice undercurrent of intrigue to the party.


I expect it would be endless.
...
- The banquet is served by male and female beings of perfect form and beauty, nearly nude, hinting, teasing, and remaining tantilizingly out of reach.
...
- Dinner conversation is an unending stream of self-indulgent one-upsmanship.

Perception of time is definitely something I want to play with. It feels fitting that time would be altered in this place, that a banquet would stretch on for what feels like days, while mere hours have played out. And snide one-upsmanship and self-indulgent discussion would certainly be fun to play. Especially directed at the PCs.

As for the help, they will certainly be slaves of peerless beauty, once again, to show off Dispater's opulence and wealth.
 

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