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D&D 5E Stabbing Satan: A Fool's Errand.

tglassy

Adventurer
So a week ago or so, my group wanted me to start up a game. We alternate DM's, and often have two, or even three, campaigns going at any one time, with different people DMing, so none of us get burned out of DMing. Funny how none of us ever get burned out of playing...

Anywho, I haven't really DM'd in a while, so it was my turn to start one. I asked "What do y'all want to do?" They said "Let's go kill Asmodeus!"

...

...

Um...

So now we're playing a game where the primary goal will be to go through each of the nine hells until they can ultimately face the statless Asmodeus. Now, I'm well aware of who Asmodeus is. I know he's essentially a Greater Deity with absolute control over the nine hells. I know he is one of the smartest creatures in the multiverse, and I know that he's dealt with this exact scenario time and time again over the millennia. I also know that even if they were able to succeed on their quest, they'd just screw up the Balance and let Demons rampage all over the multiverse. Very well aware.

But I'm an accommodating DM. They want to do something, I want to give them the possibility of making it happen. When I ran Strahd, I provided a way for them to destroy Vampyr, the Dark Power that embodied the Mist and gave Strahd his power. It cost the party a party member, and wound up freeing Strahd from his prison, letting him escape into the Multiverse no longer a Vampire, but still a lvl 20 Wizard (I re-stated him), but they did it. I set it up as "This was Strahd's plan all along, to find a group who could kill Vampyr once and for all. And you did wonderfully!"

So I want it to be possible to kill Asmodeus. Hard as hell (hehehe), but possible. It'll be a nice "you don't know what you're doing" moment when they realize that Hell is now going to go through a succession war for the next few thousand years while the Abyss spreads like wildfire.

Anywho, I wanted to check with the hive mind to see what ideas y'all might have on the subject. If there were a means to kill Asmodeus, how would you go about it?

Note: We are starting at lvl 11, and every layer they descend will level them up. After a prologue outside of hell, they will descend to Avernus, and lvl up to lvl 12. This way, they'll be lvl 20 by the time they reach Nessus.

Note Note: We have a literal god in the party. In one of our old games, upon completion of the game, our characters became gods, and one of the players was really wanting to play her old character, so I said she could be an Avatar of her god character. They were lvl 11 at the time, anyway. I said if the Avatar died, her god character would not have the power to make a new one any time soon, so she'd effectively be out of the game. But this could open some possibilities.
 
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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
So this is a level 11-20? campaign you are planning. Did you want... advice? Criticism (in the "what could go wrong" type of thinking)?

Right off the bat, the first thing I'm wondering is the party composition, especially the casters. What your party can do (and not do) will be defined a lot by the spells they have access to, and that will shape the course of the campaign.

The second thing is that you have to ask yourself is what does this group have that give them a chance to succeed? (besides a generous dm ha!)

The third thing to consider is that this may be a long con by Asmodeus. The PCs may actually help him when they kill - or "kill" him....
 

tglassy

Adventurer
Great question. We have:

A Fighter1/Sorcerer 10, focusing mostly on infiltration/extraction magic.
A Divine Soul Sorcerer (the Avatar), focusing mostly on killing and healing magic.
A Spore Druid
A Oath of the Water Paladin.

I do plan on there being at least one Legendary Item in each realm. This is a high level campaign, mostly as an exercise on running/playing high level games. None of us have ever really gotten past lvl 11, or DM'd any games past lvl 11, so this is a learning experience for us. But also a "We never get to see high level stuff" game. So I do plan on having one Legendary Magic Item hidden in each of the Nine Hells, that they can find to help them out.
 



tglassy

Adventurer
If you kill Asmodeus where does he go? I assume you have a plan for him to just no reform, so where would he go?
If I'm not mistaken, Devils who die on their home plane are just gone. So poof, no Asmodeus.

So this is a level 11-20? campaign you are planning. Did you want... advice? Criticism (in the "what could go wrong" type of thinking)?
Yes? Any advice, thoughts, quest ideas, "How to make it happen", that sort of thing. I can do all that myself. I've got a good, long time before we get there, so it isn't critical to figure it out now. But I thought I'd see what others thought on the subject, and maybe grab some ideas.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Asmodeus is a prisoner of the nine hells. Even if not physically, his duty to containing the denizens of hell ties him there, bound by some magic.

"Slaying" him frees him to become a different greater god. One not tied to the nine hells, or even necessarily this plane of existence.

So he's set the party up, just like Strahd did, to allow him to escape by killing his tie to the nine hells.

And at some point the stronger residents of hell become aware of this, and do not want Asmodeus freed from his duty. Nor may Asmodeus help the party accomplish this quest, as his magical duty prevents that as well.
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
Possible arc story: PCs discover a way (book, scroll, tablet) to assemble a MacGuffin. If used properly against Asmodeus changes his alignment to 'good'. The quest in the nine hells is to find the parts.
 

MarkB

Legend
Since they're working their way through the Hells, maybe make that the key to defeating Asmodeus. Either they pick up items/abilities along the way that will swing the balance in their favour, or else each domain of hell that they purge of his influence weakens him.
 

Delazar

Adventurer
I would think that Asmodeus' biggest enemies are the Lords of the other 8 layers. So the PCs could make deals with the other Arch Devils, with a final mega-battle Asmodeus vs Archdevils+PCs.

As an alternative the Archdevils could empower the PCs with boons that they will need during the final battle with Asmodeus.

Or the PCs have to beat all the other Archdevils before they can face Asmodeus.

I guess my suggestion is, you should involve the Lords of the other layers as allies/enemies/a-mix-of-both
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The key to killing Asmodeus without upsetting the balance in the Blood War and allowing demons to destroy the rest of the multiverse is to replace him. Work together with Mephistopheles or Glasya or someone to install as the new Lord of the Ninth - someone who will hopefully be more aligned with your PCs values, and more importantly, will be in their debt for helping get them their new position
 

MarkB

Legend
The key to killing Asmodeus without upsetting the balance in the Blood War and allowing demons to destroy the rest of the multiverse is to replace him. Work together with Mephistopheles or Glasya or someone to install as the new Lord of the Ninth - someone who will hopefully be more aligned with your PCs values, and more importantly, will be in their debt for helping get them their new position
Nah, the key to not letting the demons get out of control is to kick their asses next.
 

J-H

Adventurer
For a fight, you want:
A place - where is Azzy most vulnerable, and how do you bait him to go there? He's smart, so he'll know it's a trap, but he's arrogant.
A time - Maybe some allies? A diversion somewhere that draws away some of his guards or allies?
A tool - I assume he's immune to most normal weapons. He's not going to go down to typical spells either...his reserve of power is just too great. It's like fighting the BBEG from Worm - a straight fight does nothing, he can last longer than anyone else. It could be a sword, or an epic level spell or ritual, or a poison made from the willingly given blood of the lords of the 8 other circles, or _________.
A weakness - Where are you putting that tool to use?

For not a fight, you want:
A philosophy - How is the party different? What are they using to attack him that nobody has ever used before? How can you target not just his body, but his belief and spirit? What idea could break him or cause him to give up? This may need to be something that completely subverts the expectations of a final boss battle. Maybe you can redeem him, or get him to quit in favor of someone more competent, or offer him "rest" via a ritual that kills him but seals off 1/3 of the Abyss, or something like that.
Example: In the Bible, Jesus doesn't show up with a sword and armor and duel Satan in an epic, mountain-rending swordfight. Instead, he humbly sacrifices himself so that all who believe in him are counted as clean and justified, despite their sin, and thus Satan has no power over them any more. Everyone, even his disciples, thought the kingdom of God would be a literal earthly kingdom, and expected him to kick out the Romans, because they were thinking on a purely material level. For something like this, killing one of the primary and most powerful figures, one who filled the Lucifer role of getting a bunch of angels(devas/whatever) to defect, a purely material solution should not work, and should indeed prove disappointing.

There was a story hour here a decade or so ago that dealt with philosophical/idea based approaches as well. I'm drawing a blank on the name, but it involved a Paladin trying to redeem a succubus and free her from Grazz't. I think he ended up partly succeeding and partly falling but also some of the gods quit or changed alignment, the rules for summoning in the material plane got changed, and they ended up in high epic levels.

They may need to make some Religion checks to start in the right direction. They may need to also take some sidequests to look up the History of Asmodeus (there are multiple stories, all partly true and partly lies, that he's given out) to try to figure out the real truth and what they may need to do. I'd include a trip to some Upper Planes to do research and maybe test out their arguments.

Of course, this all becomes less "D&D, roll d20 to hit" and more free-form....

Warning: This can get very complex. You don't have to figure out the solution; you just have to get your players thinking in the right general direction, and then if they come up with something that sounds really good, it Just Works. Let them unleash their creativity.
 

Mort

Legend
Asmodeus is a prisoner of the nine hells. Even if not physically, his duty to containing the denizens of hell ties him there, bound by some magic.

"Slaying" him frees him to become a different greater god. One not tied to the nine hells, or even necessarily this plane of existence.

So he's set the party up, just like Strahd did, to allow him to escape by killing his tie to the nine hells.

And at some point the stronger residents of hell become aware of this, and do not want Asmodeus freed from his duty. Nor may Asmodeus help the party accomplish this quest, as his magical duty prevents that as well.

I like this direction - but with an add on. Not all the stronger residents want Asmodeus in place. Quite a few will be of the "better to rule in hell..." Philosophy and will be only to0 glad to replace him.

As such this is a huge opportunity for serious intrigue - which seems helped by the fact that 3 of the 4 PCs likely have extremely good Charisma (they're charisma casters) and could thrive in that kind of environment. I'm not talking about intrigue within the party (unless they're into that sort of thing) but more that navigating the Hells can be much more about political force, alliances, etc then pure physical force.
 

MarkB

Legend
Another approach is to take inspiration from Terry Pratchett's book Eric, in which the Lord of Hell has buried the place in bureacracy, and he is 'defeated' by being shunted into an administrative role where he's kept so busy coming up with new edicts, procedures and standards that he doesn't notice that nobody's paying any attention to him anymore.
 

Mort

Legend
Another approach is to take inspiration from Terry Pratchett's book Eric, in which the Lord of Hell has buried the place in bureacracy, and he is 'defeated' by being shunted into an administrative role where he's kept so busy coming up with new edicts, procedures and standards that he doesn't notice that nobody's paying any attention to him anymore.

I just realized this is the ONE Terry Pratchett novel that, for what ever reason, I've never read!

Well there goes the rest of my day - thanks a lot!
 

MarkB

Legend
I just realized this is the ONE Terry Pratchett novel that, for what ever reason, I've never read!

Well there goes the rest of my day - thanks a lot!
It's a relatively short one, at least - originally released as a large book with plentiful Josh Kirby art spreads. It's a good one, though.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I like this direction - but with an add on. Not all the stronger residents want Asmodeus in place. Quite a few will be of the "better to rule in hell..." Philosophy and will be only to0 glad to replace him.

As such this is a huge opportunity for serious intrigue - which seems helped by the fact that 3 of the 4 PCs likely have extremely good Charisma (they're charisma casters) and could thrive in that kind of environment. I'm not talking about intrigue within the party (unless they're into that sort of thing) but more that navigating the Hells can be much more about political force, alliances, etc then pure physical force.
Yeah good tweak Mort! I'd happily play in that game.
 

Stormonu

Legend
My thoughts turn a sort of scenario of Sauron and the rings. Asmodeus has something - influence or perhaps an artifact that grants him leverage over his lessers. Defeating big A may involving overturning the contract/allegiance/power/item of each of the lesser lords, in effect isolating big A and bringing his power down to something the PCs can manage. The final confrontation might be combination of uprising, combat and abjuration of big A and his works that in combination lead to finally overcoming - perhaps something like the final showdown with Pennywise from the recent IT movies?

There’s a Netflix series, done by the creator of Aeon Flux and using the storyline of Dante’s Inferno. I forget the name of it, but it could provide some very promising ideas, as D&D’s Hell, is essentially based on Dante’s works.
 

Unwise

Adventurer
I think it should become clear to them that they simply don't have the power to defeat Asmodeus themselves. The thing is though, they can comparatively easily turn the other lords against him, they could steal his rod of rulership, allow the demons to invade the hells, make his rivals think he is about to move against them, steal the taxes the other lords pay him - making him turn on them.

I'd make it so it had to be a series of clever grifts on their part to weaken his power. Once he is no longer the lord of the nine hells, then he loses a lot of his power and he gets a stat block.

Alternatively, looking at 4e lore (not sure if it is universal) they could find a way to fix the divine weave so that souls don't get delivered to the hells. They could change Avernus so that outsiders/outcasts (people that can't enter divine realms, forget the term) cannot go there. That would erode his powerbase and his underlings faith in him.
 

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