Article: Redesigning the 10 Hells

Posted on August 31, 2011

20


So you might ask why do the Hells need redesigned at all? I think the current incarnation of the Hells is a bit formless, the devils are all over the place, many are too low level and the gaps between the Archdevils and the rest are far too great. Taking us back to the age old question of how can you create encounters against one of the Archdevils when there are no servants high enough level to flesh out such adventures. Likewise the Archdevils themselves (unlike the Demon Princes) really don’t stand for any particular theme, making them seem a bit plain and boring.

The Great Rebellions

The fall of Lucifer from grace was the third (of five) angelic rebellions.

  • Satan rebelled against GOD in the rebellion of entropy…that created the Sinistrals.
  • Samael rebelled against Tetragrammaton in the rebellion of matter…that created the angels of punishment (yes I’ll need to find a better name for those).
  • Lucifer rebelled against Metatron in the rebellion of fate…that created the Devils.
  • Semyaza rebelled against Sandalphon in the rebellion of thought…that created the Grigori.
  • Gog is prophesised to rebel against Adam Qadmon in the rebellion of time…which will create the Magog. This last rebellion has not yet transpired.

Ten Sins?

I always liked the idea of correlating the Hells with the concept of sin. While most are familiar with the seven deadly sins, after some study I found that there are actually ten sins, with Despair, Discouragement and Vanity being the three lesser known sins.

  • Sin – Personification – Related Animal – Related Colour – Related Energy
  • Pride – Lucifer – Horse – Purple – Lightning
  • Rage – Asmodeus – Bear – Red – Fire
  • Sloth – Mephistopheles – Goat – light Blue – Ice
  • Gluttony – Baalzebul – Pig – Orange – Thunder
  • Vanity – Lilith (or Glasya?) – Cat – White – Radiant
  • Despair – Leviathan – Crocodile – Black – Psychic
  • Lust – Belial – Bull – dark Blue – Necrotic
  • Avarice – Mammon – Frog – Yellow – Acid
  • Discouragement – Dispater – Owl – Grey – Force
  • Jealousy – Belphegor – Wolf – Green – Poison

So what we have above is a breakdown of the Ten Hells and their various themes. The related animal section shows the features and characteristic’s devils representing that sin will take (see the medieval painting below). Related colours are the dominant colour of that sin. Related energy sources could involve the given layer of Hell as well as powers of the devils. The vast bulk of the above was gleaned from occult sources.

The Archdevils themselves would wield sin like a weapon, but would not necessarily take on the animalistic characteristics, or rather, they might still be able to assume a more humanoid/angelic form for a time.

Variety within the same Sin

Furthermore the sins themselves can be broken down into Cardinal (important) Sins, Sins and Venial (trivial) Sins. This gels nicely with the greater, lesser and least ranks of devils. Note also that each sin can be further broken down into smaller components…

e.g. Rage can be broken down into:

  • Denial of Truth
  • Self-Denial
  • Impatience
  • Vigilantism
  • Murder
  • Revenge
  • Suicide

So while Greater Rage Devils may encompass all those above factors, standard Devils may only encompass one of each (thus we could have seven ‘flavours’ of standard Rage Devils. Other sins have a varying number of sub-themes as well.

Ten Hells?

As you can see from the list above, rather than having the familiar Nine Hells, I have adopted ten with Lucifer ruling the final strata of Hell…albeit imprisoned as he is (as per Dante’s Inferno…and also an ancient Dragon Magazine article from about 30 years ago). The tenth Hell wouldn’t be common knowledge and something of a ‘secret level’.

Hierarchy of the Hells

A mathematical puzzle thats been annoying me for a while now is how to balance the guards/inhabitants of a given deity’s realm (or in the examples I’ve been toying with, Archdukes of Hell).

The structure of the Hells is an interesting one in that there are (or were in 1E) clearly defined ranks:

  • Nobility (Dukes and Archdukes)
  • Greater Devils
  • Lesser Devils
  • Least Devils

On the face of it you could just assign 10 levels to each group. Least Devils cover 1-10, Lesser 11-20, Greater 21-30, Nobility 31-40.

But thats where you run into the first problem…interactivity. If there is a 10 level gap between monsters then one element cannot be used in conjunction with the other.

e.g. You can’t have a bunch of Level 19 Lesser Rage Devils in tandem with a Level 29 Greater Rage Devil. The gap in the math is too big.

So the first attempted solution is to make group 1 Minions, group 2 standard monsters, group 3 elites and group 4 solo monsters.

  • Least Rage Devil = Level 17 Minion (the numbers at this point are hypothetical)
  • Lesser Rage Devil = Level 19
  • Greater Rage Devil = Level 25 Elite
  • Rage Archduke = Level 30 Solo

Again this looks too big a gap, but what we can then do is divide it into two scales. Lets say one is for ‘wilderness’ encounters (in Hell), the other is for organised defenses inside an Archduke’s Fortress.

Wilderness Encounters

Least Rage Devil = Level 17 Minion
Lesser Rage Devil = Level 19
Greater Rage Devil = Level 20 Solo

Fortress Encounters

Lesser Rage Devil = Level 27 Minion
Greater Rage Devil = Level 25 Elite
Rage Archduke = Level 30 Solo

Adjectiveless Devils

These seem to have the missing element of Elite (wilderness) and Standard (fortress) encounters. Which prompts the creation of a fourth strata of devil, one that is neither lesser or greater but something in between.

Rage Devil (wilderness) = Level 20 Elite
Rage Devil (fortress) = Level 24

Nobility

In addition to the above gap between lesser and greater devils we can also see a similar gap between greater devils and archdukes, creating a fifth basic strata. To which I would suggest the following:

  • Baron = Greater Devil +1
  • President/Viscount = Greater Devil +2
  • Count = Greater Devil +3
  • Marquis = Greater Devil +4
  • Duke/Prince = Greater Devil +5

The slight downside to the above is that some of the stronger nobles will be physically more powerful than the weaker Archdukes.

So the amended classifications are:

  • Archduke/King – potentially gargantuan size (monstrous form)
  • Noble – potentially huge size
  • Greater Devil – large size
  • Devil – medium size
  • Lesser Devil – small size
  • Least Devil – tiny size

Power of the Hells

The power of each Hell is derived from its Archduke, all devils of that corresponding sin, are indirectly empowered by the status of the Archduke within the ten. Also, its not always the case that the lower the tier of Hell, the more powerful the Archduke.

My idea was to base the relative standings of each Archdevil upon their 1st Edition Hit Points.

  • Belphegor: n/a (assigned 122 hp)
  • Dispater: 144 hp
  • Mammon: 139 hp
  • Belial: 154 hp
  • Leviathan: n/a (assigned 177 hp)
  • Lilith (Glasya: 96 hp)
  • Baalzebul: 166 hp
  • Mephistopheles: 188 hp
  • Asmodeus: 199 hp
  • Lucifer: 333 hp

The key then is to set a level for the least powerful Archduke and extrapolate the rest from there. But here we run into a number of problems.

Asmodeus is meant to be a Greater God in 4E. So do we then make Lucifer an Overgod (he is a fallen seraphim after all)? This in itself throws up all sorts of minor issues such as interactivity.  If Asmodeus is (for example) 5 levels more powerful than the next most powerful Archdevil, then are Asmodeus’ regular devils 5 levels more powerful than the next most powerful devils?

My initial solution was going to have Asmodeus above the other Archdukes, with Lucifer above him again. But the more I wrestled with the problem the more I leant towards the idea that there are two Asmodeii (if thats the plural of Asmodeus?). Or rather that he has two forms. The first is Asmodeus, the second form is the monstrous Aeshma-deva. If Asmodeus is ever slain, Aeshma-deva is released. This way we can keep the hierarchy of Hell relatively intact.

  • Lucifer: Level 45 Solo
  • Asmodeus: Level 34 Solo (Aeshma-deva: Level 39 Solo)
  • Mephistopheles: Level 33 Solo
  • Baalzebul: Level 31 Solo
  • Lilith/Glasya: Level 26 Solo
  • Leviathan: Level 32 Solo
  • Belial: Level 30 Solo
  • Mammon: Level 28 Solo
  • Dispater: Level 29 Solo
  • Belphegor: Level 27 Solo

So that would outline the Greater Devils as follows.

  • Greater Pride Devil: Level 30 Elite…also Level 40 Elite “Lucifugi” (Avatars of Lucifer)
  • Greater Rage Devil: Level 29 Elite…also Level 34 Elite “Heliophobes” (Black Angels)
  • Greater Sloth Devil: Level 28 Elite
  • Greater Glutton Devil: Level 26 Elite
  • Greater Vanity Devil: Level 21 Elite
  • Greater Despair Devil: Level 27 Elite
  • Greater Lust Devil: Level 25 Elite
  • Greater Avarice Devil: Level 23 Elite
  • Greater Discouragement Devil: Level 24 Elite
  • Greater Jealousy Devil: Level 22 Elite

Nobles would be 1-5 levels higher than Greater Devils. Normal Devils would be 5 levels lower. Lesser Devils 10 levels lower and Least Devils 15 levels lower with maybe the Lemures as the absolute lowest 20 levels below.

Graz’zt would have been one of the Heliophobes who turned on Asmodeus and fled to the Abyss.

Benefits of the Above Approach?

Yes its been something of a ramble on my part. But I think the above ideas as a framework would create a much stronger and interesting Hell.

  1. It gives all the Archdukes much stronger identities.
  2. It creates devils of the appropriate levels to populate the Hells (but also allows for variety within the same sin).
  3. We can split the same devils between Wilderness and Fortress Encounters allowing for different levels of challenge using the same monsters.
  4. It promotes far better interactivity between the devils, making encounter creation much easier.
  5. It ups the level of the basic devils which gives the Hells a greater sense of threat and not somewhere you venture to on a whim.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed this brief glimpse of ideas related to future products (that may or may not see the light of day knowing me). If you have any thoughts or comments feel free to post below.