Archdevil Bael, Duke of Hell. The Bronze General. Vasal of Mammon. Tactical genius. Naïve politician. Bael only really cares about fighting, which makes you wonder how in the hells he came to serve under Mammon. While that story may be lost to time, the results of the partnership are anything but. Mammon enjoys perhaps the most secure realm in all of the Nine Hells thanks in no small part to the efforts of Bael. In fact, there are several Archdevils that think Bael should be in charge instead of Mammon, if only so they could send him to the front lines of the Blood War.
There are a lot of high CR threats in this book. With 44 tier 3 and 27 tier 4 monsters respectively, it's just amazing how much space in this book is devoted to monsters that the vast majority of people will never actually use. Most campaigns of D&D end somewhere around level 11, and even the ones who go higher are likely to focus on a handful of these end game baddies.
Bael, being a legendary CR 19 Archdevil, is an endgame threat that your party isn’t likely to face anytime near the start of the game. Fortunately enough, there are ways to have his influence felt beforehand. Notably, Bael has his own cult of highly devoted warmongers. And if for some reason you feel like decimating your lower level PCs in combat, Bael loves to accept surrender, providing the conquered pledge both service and soul to him. Being press ganged into one of Bael’s 66 companies, and trying to find a way to escape with your soul could be an interesting campaign. He may just be one of the few Archdevils that a group of PC’s has a reasonable chance of tricking out of a contract.
And now for Bael’s favorite part of these entries: The Combat analysis. Bael is a General, direct combat is a last ditch effort. He has 66 companies filled to the brim with Barbed Devils. For the record, a company typically consists of between 80 and 200 soldiers. Which means somewhere between 5000 and 13000 units are under his command. Barbed Devils get two 150’ ranged fire attacks per turn. So good luck with that, I hope you are packing immunity to fire and the ability to fly at the very least.
Should the PCs somehow manage to separate him from the vast majority of his forces (and make no mistake, he needs allies to get the most out of his fight) combat isn’t going to be easy. Firstly, he can Teleport at will or as a Legendary action, or even cast fly on himself, making him all but impossible to lock down. Secondly he has Regeneration, that is turned off by cold damage (something he is resistant too) and radiant damage. Most sources of Radiant damage aren’t long-range attacks, so if it gets too spicy, he can do a tactical withdrawal into some hit-and-run until enough of the PCs are disabled. For his other Legendary Actions, he can cast any of his spells, make his allies immune to fear or charm (mostly useful against demons I suppose) or just burst down a target with an extra attack. His Morningstar swings for a significant 26 average damage every time it connects. While that might not feel like much against a t3 Fighter, the Tactical Genius is going to use his teleporting powers to Geek the Mage first. And it will only take one round to do so, Providing he shares his strategy with his troops.
Bael’s spell selection has a splash of control and a great big heaping of duplicity. Bael clearly read The Art of War and took it to heart. These spells have a hefty DC of 21 to overcome, even if they are targeting someone with advantage on the roll, it can still punch through. Fly is great for mobility, Alter Self or Invisibility can be used to ambush or get a few rounds of that sweet sweet regen in. Charm Person and Suggestion can be used to gain info on the enemy (or send one enemy home). Dispel Magic, Wall of Fire, and Dominate Monster are great for neutralizing threats.
Major Image is a great spell here. Like seriously, it only needs to last for one turn and could be anything! A wounded ally calling for help, a summoned devil popping up as backup, a wall that blocks line-of-sight. A bridge over a chasm. Major Image takes one action to disprove, and as long as the image eats one PC’s action it’s a win for Bael. If it manages to trick two PC’s that’s just gravy. The only way it could be better is if it was the 6th level version, which lasts independently of concentration.
Now for the changes. Bael’s Morningstar lost some damage. He also lost access to a few spells, namely Inflict Wounds, Counterspell, Symbol, and Animate Dead (the later two weren’t useful in the middle of combat anyway). In return Bael can cast any spell he knows as a Legendary Action. Dreadful becomes Dread, and no longer requires a Bonus action to use, just triggering whenever an enemy starts their turn next to him instead. Over all, the changes are a net positive.