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5E The Nine Hells in your game

the Jester

Legend
Over the years, the Nine Hells have come up several times in my game, and there have been some shakeups in the infernal hierarchy. Now, I run the same setting that I have since the mid-90s, ever since my old campaign milieu was devoured by Tharizdun, so these shake-ups last across editions, and I was just mulling over the topic while I was converting the abishai to 5e, and it got me wondering if anyone else has anything similar going on.

So, in my campaign, three of the Hells are ruled by arch-devils who aren't the ones officially in charge in 5e. Specifically:

The First Hell is ruled by Tiamat;

The Second Hell is ruled by Dianthus;

and the Ninth Hell is ruled by Lucifer.

Dianthus is a 4e pc whose epic destiny is Lord of Hell, and eventually I'll need to convert her into 5e archdevil stats. That's actually what started this line of thinking on my part. (She was a pixie vampire, for the record.)

Firstly, does anyone else have a different array of arch-devils than the official ones in charge in their campaign?

Secondly, did anyone else who played/plays 4e have a pc take the Lord of Hell epic destiny? How did that work out? Is that setting continuing? Is that pc still in charge in your game, post-4e?
 

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I took the idea of Devil's Talismans from the 1E Monster Manual and converted it to my 5E world, translating them into daggers. The daggers channel the souls of those killed with them to the devil they are tied to, thus strengthening the devil and also corrupting the wielder. But, a "fully charged" dagger is also the only way to destroy a devil permanently.

Right now, the arch-devil line-up is the same as it was in the early days of 1E as we play through the 1E adventures. I will be allowing player actions to change things up above and beyond the canon changes.
 
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One hell is more than enough as far as I'm concerned. It may look different depending on your belief system, but it's still the same hell. And there's no Abyss or Gehenna or Pandemonium or any other theme park hells.
 


Lancelot

Adventurer
The Nine Hells in my game is very similar to the Nine Hells as they have changed (slightly) throughout the editions, from when I started DMing back in 1983. Moloch was replaced by Malagard was replaced by Glasya. Fierna showed up to spend some "quality" time with her dear old dad Belial. Bel took over from Tiamat (or Zariel). Apparently, Zariel's back now. So, that's cool by me as well.

There are a couple of slight differences in my treatment of the Hells, though.

1) The Nine Hells have always been on the Great Wheel in my campaign, and they have always been visualized as an inconceivably huge "pit" of 9 infinite layers. I openly laughed at 4e's treatment of the Nine Hells as a bounded world with "caverns" that were large, but measurable. Most countries in my campaign world would have been bigger than layers of the 4e Nine Hells, which are supposed to be the Hells of ALL the campaign worlds of the entire D&D multiverse. That's just ridiculous. Every layer of Hell is infinite, as are all the other Outer Planes. They're too big for the human mind to even comprehend. Anyone who tries to provide a complete map of Hell, or even put a measurement to it, just isn't paying attention to our own Real Universe. Something a couple hundred miles wide is insignificant compared to the scale of only our own Earth, and absolutely laughable compared to (say) a single galaxy.

2) The archdevils are gods. That's all there is to it. Not every campaign setting has Paladine (Dragonlance) or Mystra (Realms) or Wee Jas (Greyhawk) or Aoskar (Planescape) or Usamigaras (Mystara). But virtually every campaign setting, even the homegrown ones, have Dispater and Asmodeus. They rule entire layers. Not even Thor or Apollo or Osiris rules an entire layer. If the PCs ever get to fight one of these guys, AT BEST they're taking on an avatar. No PC in one of my campaigns will EVER get to permanently destroy one of the big guys, or take their realm. All power to Dianthus the 30th level pixie vampire, but she's going to be a Tiny-sized stain on the wall of Dispater's Iron Tower in one of my campaigns.

3) Bel and Dispater, in particularly, are openly worshipped in my campaign world... but not under those names. Bel is known as Tienju Ko ("Lord of Gifts"), and is the LE God of Pride and Ambition. His worshipers see him as a benevolent god who rewards political and business skills, with the strongest and smartest rising to the top. They're a lawful group who support a predictable, peaceful and organized society... but are also completely self-interested capitalists who believe altruism is a fool's game. Any resemblance to real world philosophies is purely unintentional. Dispater is worshiped as Sakodo ("The Wise One"), LE God of Wisdom and Prophecy. Again, not considered an evil god - but his teachings certainly promote an orderly and self-interested way of life.

3a) As a general comment, virtually none of the evil gods in my campaign are actually considered evil by their followers. It has always bugged me that so many gods in so many D&D worlds are eeeeeevil. There's very little motivation for worshiping someone like Cyric or Tharizdun or Bane or Hextor or Tiamat. They don't treat their servants very well, their afterlife is known to be an unpleasant place, people tend to hate you and everything you stand for, etc. Any evil god with an intelligence above 8 should be portraying themselves as a decent deity that rewards their servants well, runs a paradise in the afterlife, will improve your standing in society and reduce your chance of getting your head hacked off. Their faith can be corruptive, can require unreasonable sacrifices, and can lead to some form of damnation... but the path to get there should be pleasant, seductive and non-confrontational. More sparkling churches with handsome priests and beautiful temple dancers, discounted healing potions, and charitable outreach programs in the community. Less spiky onyx temples with piles of skulls, diseased and malformed social misfit priests, who demand you offer up your firstborn and mate with a demon.

4) And, following on from the above, Bel is still around in my campaign world. I'm okay if Zariel has kicked him off the throne of Avernus, but he's still a powerful (deposed) archdevil/demigod in my campaign setting. Same as Moloch or Geryon. They're still kicking around somewhere, mad as heck and wanting to get back on top.
 

pemerton

Legend
In my Rolemaster campaigns I tended to take the same approach as [MENTION=15809]The Mirrorball Man[/MENTION] describes upthread - a single hell, with the various devils and demons (converted to RM) as its inhabitants.

In 4e I have been using the Hells as presented in the Monster Manual, MoP and The Plane Above. I think this largely conforms to post-Planescape canon. (Athough there are multiple versions of the relationship between Asmodeus and the Abyss - I use a composite version of my own.) One of the PCs in my game is allied (reluctantly) with Levistus, the ice-entombed ruler of the Fifth Hell, and that may come into play in the closing stages of the campaign (currently 28th level).
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
In the continuity of my home Planescape campaign (which starts with post-Faction War Planescape canon and uses none of the 4e lore), I replaced Bel as Lord of the 1st with Zariel as a result of the PCs actions (and collusion with Darius the former Factol of the Signers who was left to rot in her Maze despite having an agreement with Bel for his aid if she were ever mazed by the Lady of Pain, which ultimately did happen).

The Hag Countess ended up being butchered as a result of a falling out with the yugoloths who aided her rise to power in the first place. Who replaced her I never specified.

Additionally as a result of PCs actions and yugoloth politics I replaced Dagos within the Dark 8 (with a new pit fiend who took the same name and totally was always there because the perfect history of Hell cannot be wrong, now burn those texts that say otherwise).

Also, I strongly hinted that the Ancient Baatorians were stirring in the depths of the Hells, much to the worry of the baatezu and Asmodeus himself.
 

MonsterEnvy

Adventurer
4) And, following on from the above, Bel is still around in my campaign world. I'm okay if Zariel has kicked him off the throne of Avernus, but he's still a powerful (deposed) archdevil/demigod in my campaign setting. Same as Moloch or Geryon. They're still kicking around somewhere, mad as heck and wanting to get back on top.

According to the DMG he fell out of favor with Asmodeus who put Zariel back in his place. He is still a member of the infernal court however and has been appointed Zariel's adviser. (They still hate each other.)

Geryon is stated to be hanging around the 5th layer with people wondering why he was demoted and thinking their might be something more to it. Moloch is trying to curry favor and make his way back up the ranks.
 

MonsterEnvy

Adventurer
Additionally as a result of PCs actions and yugoloth politics I replaced Dagos within the Dark 8 (with a new pit fiend who took the same name and totally was always there because the perfect history of Hell cannot be wrong, now burn those texts that say otherwise).
I find it amusing that only 1 member of the Dark 8 is an original member the rest are just ones that have taken on the names of their predecessors to make them seem more unbeatable.
 

Grazzt

Demon Lord
One Hell, ruled by Asmodeus currently. The other arch-devils (same ones from 1e) rule over certain areas of Hell. I guess a "modern" fantasy example would be Game of Thrones. Each area ruled by a king or whatever, with each owing fealty to the "one true king".
 

MonsterEnvy

Adventurer
One Hell, ruled by Asmodeus currently. The other arch-devils (same ones from 1e) rule over certain areas of Hell. I guess a "modern" fantasy example would be Game of Thrones. Each area ruled by a king or whatever, with each owing fealty to the "one true king".

Thats pretty much how it always worked. Each Area is a layer and Asmodeus just rules one layer personally.
 

Derren

Hero
I wonder if anyone is running the nine hells closer to its original inspiration from the divine comedy?
 
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MonsterEnvy

Adventurer
More or less yep. But, IMC, it's a single layer, just split up into provinces/domains/whatever you want to call them.

I know what you mean. Just personally view it as a fairly meaning less change as it really does not change much. I just find the layers cooler looking.
 

Daedrova

First Post
Yes, to the OP. I was actually running a high level 3e game when preview material for 4e was released and decided to use the ideas for epic destinies.
One of my players was secretly a lich (having uncovered the secret to eternal unlife after defeating one during the campaign and plundering its lair).

The players foray into hell brought them into conflict with the lord of the 3rd whom they defeated, despite using increased stats to make him much, much tougher than he appeared in official material.

So the Lord of the 3rd in my campaigns is an epic archmage lich devil lord.

Because my campaigns also remained within the same world (until trying Dark Sun for the first time in 5e as DM) that change was relavent in the story of the next campaign I ran. That player quite enjoyed seeing the continuity.
 

fjw70

Explorer
One hell is more than enough as far as I'm concerned. It may look different depending on your belief system, but it's still the same hell. And there's no Abyss or Gehenna or Pandemonium or any other theme park hells.

Same here.

My Hell is in the core of the world and is the home of demons, devils, and similar creatures. A barrier prevents beings from passing between the world and Hell (of course certain magic can circumvent this barrier and there are small breaks in the barrier if you know where to find them).

The Gods live in the space around the world (I.e. Heaven).
 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
One Hell, ruled by Asmodeus currently. The other arch-devils (same ones from 1e) rule over certain areas of Hell. I guess a "modern" fantasy example would be Game of Thrones. Each area ruled by a king or whatever, with each owing fealty to the "one true king".
Does your Asmodeus look like this?

 

Mercule

Adventurer
Custom cosmology. It's tied to the reason why devils and demons exist. The original fiends started as celestial beings of various stripes (just like there are currently multiple types of celestials). They rebelled and were cast from the heavens. They were cast in the general direction of oblivion. That isn't capitalized, in the way it is in Wraith, but is more a sense of "outer darkness" or "wailing and gashing of teeth". At the same time, the Abyss gets worse, as it gets deeper, so there may be something (nothing?) at the bottom.

Regardless, the devils could be considered the fallen who are more well adjusted, if you can apply that concept. The devils still hold out hope that they can win the War of Souls. By gathering sufficient souls, the very essence of creation, they hope to both blackmail the Creator force into reconciling and, if they're really arrogant, shift the balance of power to the extent that they can take over.

Demons, on the other hand, have given up hope of winning. They know they're screwed, at the end of ages. Instead of trying to win, they're engaged in a salted earth campaign to drag as much of creation into oblivion with them. Some of them are playing the long game to extend their own existence. Others want to speed the end as much as possible. Still others -- maybe the most disturbing -- want more to be created so there's more to be destroyed. Regardless, all are working from motives so alien to mortal thought that they may as well be insane.

Scholars speculate that there may be certain fiends or classes of fiends (loths?) that didn't actually fall, but were created to test other elements of creation to weed out those that were too badly flawed to be retained. The reasons given for this vary: an imperfect Creator seeking to cleanse itself, providing meaningful choices and true freewill, and more esoteric theories. If so, the implications would be significant -- there would be almost no chance of the fiends winning; even their fall was part of a bigger plan, from the very beginning.

With all the fiends circling the drain, so to speak, Hell can be viewed as the upper rim of the Pit, or even as the flat area around the hole. It's generally stable, if terrifying and oozing evil. The ninth layer of Hell sits at the lip of the precipice, ready to fall in. The Abyss, on the other hand, is the actual wall of the Pit -- a careening free-fall of malevolence to existence itself. As far as mortals know, the bottom of Hell is fully disconnected from the top of the Abyss. They're joined only by virtue of being evil. But, it's entirely possible that Hell could begin to slide into the Abyss, at the end times or if the devils ever gave up hope. It's unclear what this would beget, but it's not likely to be good.

Anyway, the specific rulers of the layers of Hell has rarely been a big concern. I really hated the 2E Blood War, so my baseline assumption is still the late 1E hierarchy. Honestly, everything to do with the lower planes since PlaneScape kicks the same spot of my brain as all of Lucas' messing with the original trilogy: just stop, already; it was fine as it was. The blurb in the 5E DMG isn't any more inspiring than anything else in the last 20 years.
 

Frank Dursi

First Post
If you are interested in the actual official Nine Hells - Tyrant of the Nine Hells documents alot of stuff but its 3.5 edition rule set but the lore and rulers are able to be used in your campaign. You would just have to convert the ArchDevils that rule each level of Baator. Bel rules the first layer Avernus, Dispater rules the second layer Dis, Mammon rules the third layer Minauros, Lady Fierna ( actually run by Belial behind the scenes) rules the 4th layer Phlegethos, Levistus rules the fifth Stygia, Asmodeus made his daughter Glasya ruler of the sixth layer Malboge supplanting the hag countess, Baalzebul rules Maladomini the seventh layer, Mephistopheles rules Cania the eighth layer, and of course Asmodeus rules Nessus the ninth and final layer of Hell.
 


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