Excerpts Archive | 4/14/2008
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Excerpts: Devils
4th Edition Monster Manual

Only a scant few weeks remain until 4th Edition finally hits the shelves! We here at Wizards of the Coast couldn’t be more excited for June 6th to finally arrive (and then to participate with everyone at June 7th’s Worldwide D&D Game Day). For the past several months, we’ve introduced you to many of the concepts, philosophies, and details of 4th Edition, via D&D Insider’s columns and articles. So in the short time we have remaining, we wanted to share with you a little more, publishing excerpts from the three core rulebooks every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, leading up to 4th Edition’s release.

Today, we take a look inside the Monster Manual, at devils in general, and two in particular: one a battlefield general, the other a tempting seductress.

We hope you enjoy, and be sure to return this Wednesday for excerpts from the Player’s Handbook, and Friday for a look inside the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Malevolent and corrupt, devils are the rebellious servants of the gods now living in the Nine Hells, one of the darkest dominions on the Astral Sea. Devils come in many varieties, from the sly imp to the mighty archdevils known as the Lords of the Nine, each a ruler of one of the Nine Hells. The greatest of these infernal lords is the god Asmodeus, prince of Nessus, the ninth hell. Long ago, Asmodeus was a powerful divine servant who chose to rebel against the god he served. At the head of an army of like-minded creatures, Asmodeus slew his divine master. For their betrayal, he and his followers were cursed with monstrous forms and imprisoned within the fuming ruin of the murdered god’s dominion.

Devils can leave the Nine Hells, but it is very difficult for them to do so. They can be sent forth by mighty archdevils through costly infernal magic, or travel through rare and well-hidden magical portals (usually only a few at a time when conditions are right). However, most devils outside of the Nine Hells have been brought to the natural world by evil mortals employing dark rituals.

Devils lust for the souls of mortals; each mortal spirit devils enslave undermines the gods’ sway over mortalkind and adds to the Nine Hells’ power. Devils torment and consume captured souls to fuel the mightiest of their infernal works, including evil constructs and terrible invocations. Devils compete fiercely to gather souls in order to earn favor and status within the infernal order, but they all work together toward the common goal of gathering souls for the Nine Hells.

Some devils seek to drive mortals into surrendering their souls through tyranny, despair, or terror; some seek to destroy the servants of good-aligned gods and tear down their works; and still others are tempters and deceivers who inflame mortal ambition, desire, greed, or pride.

Long ago, Asmodeus and his vassals forged dark pacts with various evil deities. Devils are therefore commonly found serving Bane, Gruumsh, Tiamat, Torog, and Vecna. Devils carefully honor their bargains—but they are extremely good at giving reckless mortals exactly what they ask for, and few of those who bargain with devils escape the final payment.

A Primer to the Nine Hells

The Nine Hells form a single dominion on the Astral Sea. Black smoke surrounds them, and beyond this choking veil broods a great, volcanic world whose surface is a blasted plain of ash and jagged stone. This is Avernus, the first of the Nine Hells, where embers rain down from a sunless sky and iron fortresses rise up between rivers of magma. Astral vessels approaching too closely find themselves plummeting through the skies of Avernus rather than sailing in the Astral Sea, landing in the Nine Hells with a great fiery impact. A helmsman of great skill can sometimes negotiate the passage and alight on the ashen plain safely, but the only sure way to avoid fiery disaster is to find the astral influence of the River Styx and follow it down through the basalt cliffs. The Styx cuts a jagged course across Avernus and eventually plunges down into the lower Hells—each one a tremendous continent-sized cavern within the roiling world.

In January, Bill Slavicsek unveiled those nobles of the Nine Hells, the pit fiends. Back then, we had only concept art to provide of this foul brute—today, we present the finished art… along with a visual look back at the pit fiend throughout the game’s history.
1st Edition
2nd Edition
2nd Edition
3rd Edition
4th Edition

Avernus, the first Hell, forms the surface of this terrible dominion. It’s a volcanic domain strewn with the blood and wreckage of a million battles. Fireballs plunge from the smoke-filled sky. The archdevil Bel, a military genius, protects and rules Avernus from a towering iron citadel.

A great iron gate in a mountainside of Avernus leads to Dis, the second Hell. Dis is an iron-walled city that lies within a vast cavern, sprawling unevenly amid the cavern’s jagged, mountainous floor. Dispater, the ruler of this Hell, is famous as the most cautious and calculating of the archdevils.

The cavern of Dis gradually descends and broadens into the great, low, brooding vault of Minauros, the Third Hell. A constant oily rain pelts down from the ceiling, and the black soil of Minauros is a vast series of mud flats, swamps, and mires, some heated into bubbling, stinking mud volcanoes by the heat rising from below. The serpentine and supremely boastful archdevil Mammon rules here.

Phlegethos, the fourth Hell, lies far below its predecessors. Dank steps cut into the stinking fumaroles of Minauros lead down several miles to a fiery cavern, where the air ripples with heat distortion and cascades of lava pour down from volcanic fissures in the ceiling miles overhead. The ambitious archdevil Fierna presides, with her grim father Belial as the true power behind the throne.

Stygia lies as deep as Phlegethos, but is many hundreds of miles away from its fiery neighbor—it underlies Dis, and dismal stairs of ice and iron link the two. The fifth Hell is cold and dark. Within Stygia’s cavern lies a vast frozen sea dotted with towering icebergs. Faint auroras of green-blue frostfire dance far above the sea, casting long shadows. Imprisoned within one of these mighty bergs is the archdevil Levistus, trapped forever by Asmodeus for some great betrayal.

Asmodeus’s daughter, the fiendishly beautiful Glasya, rules Malbolge, the sixth Hell. Long, icy canals lead hundreds of miles from frozen Stygia to this great cavern, illuminated by sinister yellow-green lamps suspended from the ceiling like tiny suns. Long ago Malbolge was a vast garden, the delight of the deity who ruled this sphere before Asmodeus, but now its superficial beauty cannot hide a feculent underbelly: autumnal trees with grasping roots, beautiful white towers with corpses impaled on their battlements, shimmering ponds with poisoned waters, and the like.

Maladomini, the seventh Hell, is a tremendous maze of winding tunnels, each miles across. These passages reach several of the lower Hells, including Malbolge, Cania, and Nessus. Within these vast tunnels lie crumbling cities, sludge-filled rivers, and vast tracts of land mined to absolute depletion. Black ichor erupts from the earth, and swarms of flies harry all. Here rules the archdevil Baalzebul, a sluglike monstrosity bereft of compassion.

The icy layer of Stygia seems like a paradise compared to Cania, the eighth Hell. This vast gulf deep within the world is another cold domain, where mile-high glaciers grind across a forbidding landscape so cold that few creatures can bear it. The wickedly handsome archdevil Mephistopheles rules Cania from a palace of ice lit with crackling hellfire.

The darkest of Cania’s rifts plunge hundreds of miles further down to Nessus, the ninth and deepest of the Hells. This is home to the god-tyrant Asmodeus, father of all devils. Nessus is a vast, vertical maze of chasms so large and so deep they are rooted in the seething fires at the core of the cursed sphere. Great infernal cities and fiendish armies lie hidden within these fiery depths.


Succubi tempt mortals into performing evil deeds, using their shapechanging abilities to appear as attractive men and women. Although seduction and betrayal are their forte, succubi are also practiced spies and assassins. Succubi serve more powerful devils as scouts, advisors, and even concubines. Because of their guile and shapechanging ability, they are frequently chosen to serve as infernal emissaries to important mortals.

Succubus Level 9 Controller
Medium immortal humanoid (devil, shapechanger) XP 400
Initiative +8 Senses Perception +8; darkvision
HP 90; Bloodied 45
AC 23; Fortitude 17, Reflex 21, Will 23
Resist 20 fire
Speed 6, fly 6

MeleeCorrupting Touch (standard; at-will)
+14 vs. AC; 1d6 + 6 damage.

MeleeCharming Kiss (standard; at-will) Charm
+14 vs. AC; on a hit, the succubus makes a secondary attack against the same target. Secondary Attack: +12 vs. Will; the target cannot attack the succubus, and if the target is adjacent to the succubus when the succubus is targeted by a melee or a ranged attack, the target interposes itself and becomes the target of the attack instead. The effects last until the succubus or one of its allies attacks the target or until the succubus dies.

If the target is still under the effect of this power at the end of the encounter, the succubus can sustain the effect indefinitely by kissing the target once per day. The succubus can affect only one target at a time with its charming kiss.

RangedDominate (standard; at-will) Charm
Ranged 5; +12 vs. Will; the target is dominated until the end of the succubus’s next turn.

Change Shape (minor; at-will) Polymorph
The succubus can alter its physical form to take on the appearance of any Medium humanoid, including a unique individual (see Change Shape, page 280).

Alignment Evil Languages Common, Supernal
Skills Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Insight +13
Str 11 (+4) Dex 18 (+8) Wis 19 (+8)
Con 10 (+4) Int 15 (+6) Cha 22 (+10)

Succubus Tactics
When exposed for what it is, a succubus can be a deadly foe. It can manipulate the emotions of mortal adversaries, turning them against each other or making them slavishly loyal to it with a mere kiss.

A succubus that is confronted uses dominate on a worthy adversary. It then uses charming kiss on a dominated foe, keeping him or her nearby while it attacks other enemies with its corrupting touch.

Level 9 Encounter (XP 2,000)

  • 1 succubus (level 9 controller)
  • 2 snaketongue assassins (level 9 lurker)
  • 2 crushgrip constrictors (level 9 soldier)

War Devil

Champions of the Nine Hells, war devils obey only pit fiends and archdevils. They also lead lesser devils in forays against those who stand in the way of their masters’ plans. War devils brought to the mortal world sometimes arise as warmasters or generals, leading the armies of evil mortal tyrants.

War Devil (Malebranche) Level 22 Brute (Leader)
Large immortal humanoid (devil) XP 4,150
Initiative +17 Senses Perception +15; darkvision
HP 255; Bloodied 127
AC 35; Fortitude 34, Reflex 32, Will 30
Resist 30 fire
Speed 8, fly 8 (clumsy)

MeleeClaw (standard; at-will)
+26 vs. AC; 1d6 + 8 damage.

MeleeTrident (standard; recharge 456) Weapon
Reach 2; +26 vs. AC; 4d4 + 8 damage and ongoing 5 damage (save ends), and the target slides into any square adjacent to the war devil and is knocked prone.

RangedBesieged Foe (minor; at-will)
Ranged sight; automatic hit; the target is marked, and allies of the war devil gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls made against the target until the encounter ends or the war devil marks a new target.

RangedDevilish Transposition (move; at-will) Teleportation
Ranged 20; the war devil and an allied devil within range swap positions.

RangedFiendish Tactics (minor; recharge 56)
Ranged 10; affects up to 2 allied devils of the war devil’s level or lower; each target can take a move action or make a basic attack.

Alignment Evil Languages Supernal
Skills Intimidate +20
Str 27 (+19) Dex 23 (+17) Wis 19 (+15)
Con 25 (+18) Int 15 (+13) Cha 18 (+15)

Equipment trident

War Devil Tactics
Despite their brutish appearance, war devils are outstanding tacticians and clever leaders. They use besieged foe and fiendish tactics to direct their subordinates against dangerous foes, but they eagerly leap into the fray when the time is right, using devilish transposition to exchange places with a lesser devil (often one with the mobility to penetrate the enemies’ ranks).

War Devil Lore
A character knows the following information with a successful Religion check.
DC 25: War devils (also known as malebranches) are among the most powerful devils that are routinely summoned by mortals.

Encounter Groups
War devils often serve as “muscle” for pit fiends or archdevils, or they directly command contingents of lesser devils.

Level 21 Encounter (XP 19,750)

  • 1 war devil (level 22 brute)
  • 1 ice devil (level 20 soldier)
  • 2 bone devils (level 17 controller)
  • 12 legion devil legionnaires (level 21 minion)
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