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Asmodeus is a unique and powerful archdevil and ultimate ruler of the Nine Hells, realm of devils. He rules from Nessus, the deepest layer. He is worshipped as a deity in many worlds, while in others he is believed to be a being more ancient than the deities themselves.

He is titled the Lord of Lies[1] (a title also given to Baalzebul), Lord of the Nine, Lord of the Ninth,[2] Dark Lord of Nessus,[3][4] Prince of Nessus,[5] Prince of Evil,[6] The Cloven,[7] and Old Hoof and Horn.[7]

Asmodeus' name is variously pronounced "az-MOH-dee-us" or "az-moh-DAY-us".[8][9] In the Infernal language, he is also called Asmodei.[10]

Description

Appearance

Asmodeus appears as a horned, red-skinned humanoid with red eyes. He is tall and thin, and dresses in fine robes inlaid with gemstones. His skin is scarred by half-healed wounds dating back to his fall from grace millennia ago. He is strikingly handsome and charismatic, and wears a neatly trimmed beard. He is rarely seen without his ruby rod, a powerful artifact seemingly carved from a single ruby.[11][12][13] He stands just over 13 feet in height.[14]

His true form is that of a massive wounded serpent, hundreds of miles long. Almost none have ever seen this form, even among the Lords of Hell; the Asmodeus most have seen is one of several powerful avatars used whenever it is necessary to meet in person.[11] Even these avatars are rarely used, as Asmodeus usually prefers to appear illusory form using project image, and even appearances in this form are rare.[13]

He also manifests less powerful aspects for various purposes.[15] One such aspect is named Nyxthseht, which fought in the Blood War until it was trapped within an iron flask.[16]

Personality and alignment

Asmodeus is soft-spoken, articulate, and confident. He is never flustered; even if taken by surprise, he behaves with the calm certainty of someone who is always multiple steps ahead of his opponents.[12] He is respected even by powerful gods of evil, and although many archdevils seek to overthrow him, few have the courage or ability to do so.[13]

He undertakes lengthy and complex plans, often requiring hundreds or thousands of years to see fruition, and encompassing the scope of the entire multiverse. His goals include retaining his position of power, defeating demons and celestials, and, it is said, seeking godhood,[13] though by other accounts he has either already achieved this or was always a deity to begin with. His true goal is known to practically no-one, but by undermining faith in the gods and absorbing the souls of non-believers, he plans to regain enough strength to escape the Hells and recover the power scattered across the Great Wheel when he fell, which could ultimately bring the destruction of the entire cosmology.[17]

Asmodeus is careful and well-prepared. In the unlikely event that someone manages to corner Asmodeus and force him to give battle, he prepares by casting defensive spells such as shield of law, spell immunity and protection from energy, and summons numerous pit fiends, archdevils, and other powerful devils as allies, using them to protect him while he deploys powerful and lethal magic. If actually somehow injured, he will simply teleport away.[13]

Despite attempts in the past to overthrow him, he admires ambition in his servants.[18]

Asmodeus is scheming and power-hungry, and ultimately seeks to dominate the multiverse to his own benefit. He is the ultimate tyrant and a master of subtlety, and wields practically complete control over his realm.[19] Unlike most tyrants, his arrogance is matched by his competence: he once walked into Mount Celestia and survived using only his words and wits; he has survived every attempt to overthrow him; and has been acquitted at every trial.[20] He has impersonated gods,[21], captured whole worlds,[22] and commissioned the creation of entire species.[23]

Asmodeus is the epitome of lawful evil in alignment. The evil which he represents is rarely seen, unless he wills it or becomes enraged; most who meet Asmodeus perceive him to be reasonable.[24]

Abilities and traits

Divinity

Asmodeus is an ancient being of godlike power. Unlike most deities, he does not require the faith of mortals to sustain his power; he is even older than mortal beings or their religions, and is thought to be one of the Ancient Brethren, beings who date back to the beinning of the multiverse.[25]

Combat ability

Asmodeus is so powerful that even his physical aspect is more powerful than the greatest of dragons or beasts of the world. He is both physically strong and genius in intellect; casts spells as well as the greatest of clerics; and can utter the profane Dark Speech so awful that causes physical injury. All who approach him are compelled to his mental control; his very sight weakens and freezes enemies.[13]

He regenerates from injury, can see in darkness, and is invulnerable to fire and poison. He wields hellfire, and carries the Ruby Rod of Asmodeus, a powerful artifact which serves as both a powerful weapon and can raise a peerless defensive shield. He possesses telepathy, and can speak any language. He can summon powerful devils, including archdevils under his command. His knowledge of lore is unmatched.[13]

Asmodeus is reportedly powerful enough to have slain even deities; the city of Abriymoch in Phlegethos is said to have been built on the grave of such a deity.[26]

Other abilities

Asmodeus alone can promote any devil to the status of a unique archdevil. He can even transform a non-devil into an archdevil, as happened with the archangel Zariel,[27] or even promote a mortal to this status.[28][18] He alone has the power to alter the truename of any devil or other lawful evil being, which gives him immense power over them.[29]

He has the power to create lesser aspects of himself for various purposes, and to protect his true form.

Realm

Asmodeus is the Lord of Nessus, the ninth and deepest layer of the Nine Hells. His true form rests in the Serpent's Coil, a deep, mile-wide rift which spirals in on itself for hundreds of miles in length, descending five miles deep to the lowest point in all of Nessus.[4]

Here he has a heavily guarded[30] grand citadel called Malsheem, resting upon a treacherous lake of ice.[31][32] It resembles an enormous hollowed-out stalagmite[24] It is large enough to house millions of devils, larger than any singled army ever assembled in the Blood War. It is so tall that, despite resting in an incredible deep trench, its spires tower above the surface for miles, and so complex that it has never been mapped.[2] Nessian warhounds, a powerful hell hounds, are bred in fire pits beneath the palace.[33]

Asmodeus has complete control over Nessus. Only one portal leads here through the eighth layer of Hell, Cania, and none can enter or leave the plane without the express permission of Asmodeus.[34] Nessus is patrolled by massive armies of devils, including pit fiends and cornugons, spawned directly from Asmodeus' dripping blood. They are fanatically loyal to Asmodeus, and have orders to kill intruders immediately.[4] These pools of blood are a black, foul, acidic substance.[2]

Treasure

Asmodeus' most famous magic item is the Ruby Rod of Asmodeus, a powerful artifact.[32]

Asmodeus' clothing is of exceptional price. A single garment of his costs as much as the entire annual expenditure of a kingdom.[32]

Asmodeus controls the Obsidian Throne, a huge artifact which allows one to see the entire multiverse.[35]

Relationships

Allies and minions

All Lords of the Nine, archdevil rulers of each of the layers of the Nine Hells, owe fealty to Asmodeus. He can appoint and depose any Lord of Hell whenever he wishes, and his reasons for doing so are not always clear. As a result, practically all baatezu devils are ultimately loyal to Asmodeus. All of the Lords of the Nine are summoned to meet with Asmodeus at least once per year.[32] He has never been overthrown, although he once pulled off a ruse which caused his enemies to believe he had been dethroned for a time.[36]

The Dark Eight, a group of pit fiend warlords tasked with carrying out the Blood War, report directly to Asmodeus.[37]

Asmodeus is served by a court of powerful devils. Among the powerful unique devils who serve him are Adramalech, Chancellor of Hell; Phongor, Inquisitor of Nessus; and the commanders Buer, Bune, Morax, Rimmon and Zagum. He is served by a number of pit fiends, including Alastor, Executioner of Nessus; Baalberith, Majordomo of the palace of Asmodeus; and Martinet, Constable of Nessus,[12] whose responsibilities involve settling conflicts between the Lords of the Nine.[32] Many other devils serve him, including war devils.[6] The devil Alloces is his favored torturer.[38]

Asmodeus values Baalphegor, Princess of Hell and consort to Mephistopheles, as one of his most powerful assets.[39] He values Armaros, the Resolver of Enchantments, but must keep him at a distance in Avernus due to the complex political situation involving rivalries with minions of Asmodeus. He is likewise an ally of the powerful archdevil Gargoth, the Lord Who Watches.[40] He has occasionally made alliances with Tiamat, Queen of Chromatic Dragons.[41]

Centuries ago, before the Reckoning, Asmodeus had a consort, Bensozia,[42] who was slain by Levistus after she refused to betray Asmodeus. As punishment, Levistus was imprisoned in a block of ice and replaced by Geryon until the Reckoning, when he was reinstated but not released from the ice.[43] With Bensozia he has a daughter, Glasya, Princess of Hell and Archduchess of Malbolge.[32]

Every drop of Asmodeus' blood which is spilled becomes a greater devil, usually an exceptionally strong pit fiend, but also cornugons. These fanatically loyal pit fiends patrol the Serpent's Coil hunting for intruders. These devils spawn from blood pooling among the rocks of the Serpent's Coil.[4]

Asmodeus is served by the Spark Hunters, a group of six elite hamatula devils who operate on the Material Plane as hunters of humanoids.[32] He is also served by assassin devils, who serve as spies.[44] Asmodeus has spies in every archdevil's court,[13] and has long had spies among enemies outside the Nine Hells, including among the ancient Dawn War sect which became the enigmatic nerras.[45] Recently, Asmodeus has spies inside temples of Bahamut.[46]

Some followers of Asmodeus, among them devils and a few particularly valued mortals, receive a brand allowing them the ability to command others by spoken word by invoking the authority of Asmodeus.[12] Some of those can draw on this power to dissuade opponents from attacking them, and to infuse their unarmed strikes with hellfire.[47] Some bear a mark on the palm of their left hand.[48]

Asmodeus has been known to have a secret alliance of sorts with the demon lord Pazuzu, helping to extend the duration of the Blood War as convenient for Asmodeus.[49]

The devil king Akkliar, who built his realm in the Material Plane, is speculated to be supported directly by Asmodeus.[50]

He has been known to ride a nightmare.[51]

Enemies

Most of the Lords of the Nine hope to overthrow Asmodeus, but few have the courage to do so, and none are powerful enough to do it alone. In particular, Levistus and Baalzebul seek revenge against Asmodeus.[52] If any single devil poses a threat to Asmodeus, it is Mephistopheles, Lord of the Eighth, who is rumored to be concealing a growth in power.[53]

Zargon hates Asmodeus for usurping his species as rulers of Baator in ancient times.[54]

The pit fiend Annaxus and the angel of vengenace named Faith in the Sword are united in their opposition of Asmodeus.[55]

A demon lord named Darkwyon, Lord of Night, takes credit for banishing Asmodeus to Hell.[56]

Asmodeus is part of a faction that dislikes the World Serpent Inn for its ability to allow transport to the layers of Hell.[51]

Many powerful devils have fallen out of his favor, and been exiled or punished. Among them are Amon.[57]

The Daughters of Blackest Night, a coven of warlocks led by the witch Eraea, were founded centuries ago to overthrow Asmodeus as ruler of the Nine Hells. They instead struck a pact with his daughter Glasya.[58] The Unbroken Circle are likewise opposed to him,[59] as are the Hyarthan Knights,[60] and countless other organizations in the multiverse.

Worship

Worshipers

"Aj ta noss iz'lech'iz ta kraj-ka-nok Asmodei das."
Infernal saying[10]
"You are important. Promotion is your destiny. Asmodeus loves you."
— Translation

Asmodeus is the most commonly worshiped devil, by a substantial margin, and perhaps has more worshipers than all other archdevils command. His followers are often politically influential and wealthy, but generally worship in secret.[32] Asmodeus particularly covets urban settlements and totalitarian nations, advanced bureacracies with complex legal codes, and states with secret police to quickly neutralize internal and external threats.[61] Asmodeus sees civilzation as a means of gaining power, and ultimately seeks the conquest of all things.[62] In many civilized nations, worship of Asmodeus is not a crime.[63]

Many warlocks worship Asmodeus. It is said that when devils taught the secrets of the Infernal Pact to tiefling worshipers of Asmodeus to undermine his power, Asmodeus destroyed the devils' entire race and erased all knowledge of their existence from the multiverse.[64]

Some tieflings are haunted by nightmares of Asmodeus' great palace, showing the luxurious lives of his most favored servants.[65]

Vazirian the Hierarch of Oerth penned a work known as the Unholy Text of Asmodeus.[66] Other followers of Asmodeus include the aristocrat Gilliard DeRosan,[32] the fiendbinder Callow,[67] the tiefling Martaros,[68] the tiefling midwife Destiny Agganor,[69] the rakshasa Mahadi,[70], the amnizu devil Fhat'Ahla,[71] Victoro Cassalanter of Waterdeep, Lord and Lady Gralhund of Waterdeep, Brother Edgar of Graefmotte,[72] the monk Qhyjanoth,[73] the former guard Markosian,[74] and human inkeeper Rory Teng.[75]

Creed

As a patron, Asmodeus embodies the values of power, domination, and tyranny. Aside from devils, he is paid homage by many evil creatures such as rakshasas and cambions. His cults teach followers to seek power over others, repay evil with evil, that kindness is a weakness which should be exploited for personal gain, and to show no mercy or compassion in your rise to power.[76][77]

Those who sign a pact with Asmodeus are required to swear absolute loyalty to Asmodeus and to keep their own promises. They are rewarded for recruiting new followers, and encouraged to enjoy the many pleasures of life.[78] Some followers have gained power by selling Asmodeus the souls of their own children.[79]

Casual prayer to Asmodeus is popular in Faerûn, where it is believed that he can hide sins from the gods and ease the transition to their deity's realm.[80]

In some esoteric traditions, Asmodeus is associated with the moon.[81]

Rituals

Cults of Asmodeus engage in ritual sacrifice.[82] Wealthy participants may use golden sacrificial daggers, and wear crimson robes and golden masks.[83] Less wealthy or non-noble members may wear less expensive red robes, devil masks, and wooden holy smbols.[84] Participants may worship Asmodeus by kneeling before a statue and feverishly chanting infernal hymns.[85]

Clergy

Priests of Asmodeus are known as mordai, and famously exploit people's greed and impatience. Asmodeus has no holy days; every day is expected to be spent in service to Asmodeus. Asmodeus is quick to reward those who sign their souls away to him for eternity.[86]

Organizations

A secret society of disciples of Asmodeus controls much of civilized society. It is rigidly hierarchical and seeks the ultimate goal of world domination. Members must take part in the ritual sacrifice of a member of the nobility in order to join. They learn the abilities to bend others to their will, especially evil creatures; to learn secrets; and to summon devils.[87]

In Neverwinter, a cult called Ashmadai or Messengers of the Raging Fiend follows a similar path, and can be identified by a brand on their chests.[88][89]

A cult is located in Waterdeep in Faerûn, operated by the Cassalanter noble house.[90]

Another secretive cult, the Iron Circle, control Sarthel, City of Silver.[91][92]

The Crimson Legion are a group of tiefling paladin/warlocks once the service of Asmodeus. Recently, the group have turned their back on their original patrons.[93]

Temples and shrines

A temple to Asmodeus appears in the Dis, a sprawling iron cathedral known as the Hall of Infernal Might. It is popular with the city's mortal inhabitants.[94]

A temple to Asmodeus is hidden in the city of Waterdeep in Faerûn.[84]

Small temples appear in the dragonborn city of Io'vanthor, originally dedicated to other gods but later defiled and converted to serve Asmodeus.[95]

Holy symbol

Asmodeus' holy symbol is three triangles in a tight formation.[96]

History

Prehistory

At the beginning of time, the universe was primordial chaos. From this arose the great Twin Serpents, two unstoppable cosmic beings of Law: the winged Jazirian, and the scaled Ahriman. Each took the other's tail in their mouth to form an oroborous, and all within the circle became the Outlands. The Outer Planes formed around it.[97]

Next, the two decided to select a centre to the universe. Jazirian, who came to define goodness, wished to select Mount Celestia, while Ahriman, who embodied evil, wished for it to be the pit of Baator. The pair fell into a battle which shook the cosmos, in which Ahriman bit off Jazirian's tail. Unable to fly himself, Ahriman fell to the very bottom of the Pit of Baator, and from his drops of spilled blood grew the baatezu devils.[97]

Ahriman reinvented himself as Asmodeus, Lord of the Nine Hells. He began weaving a web of lies so dense that none have discovered his true identity, and few beings of the multiverse are ancient enough to contradict him. Only Jazirian, goddess of the couatls, knows the true nature of Asmodeus, and she is content for now to keep it secret.[98]

Asmodeus and his devils were not the first inhabitants of Baator; rather, they seized it from its original inhabitants, the ancient baatorians, enslaving them and killing their lords. Asmodeus was unable to completely destroy their leader, Zargon, so he threw Zargon's horn into the Material Plane, where he regenerated and was worshiped as a god.[54]

Pact Primeval

"As is the case with any myth worth of the name, the following tale is true—whether or not it actually happened."
Fiendish Codex II, "The Pact Primeval"

Although the general legend of the Fall of Asmodeus is widely accepted, alternative versions of the story are widely told across various worlds.[99] Given Asmodeus' unmatched skill at weaving lies, it may be impossible to tell which version of events is true, if indeed any of them are.

In one story, the chaos at the beginning of the universe spawned the demons, who fought each other continuously. Deities of Law arose to combat the demons, creating winged warriors known as angels for this task. The most successful at this task was an angel named Asmodeus, who fought so many battles that his forces were contaminated by the nature of the demons, becoming ugly and terrifying.[99]

The gods sought to exile Asmodeus from their domain. Asmodeus was placed on trial, but as one who helped to create the laws of the gods, he successfully defended himself, and his armies were too strong to keep out by force. The gods then turned to the task of creating the first mortals, but discovered that free will allowed them to make foolish decisions and sin agaisnt the gods, and that there existed a difference between good and evil.[99]

Asmodeus offered as solution a contract called the Pact Primeval, under which, wielding a weapon Punishment, Asmodeus would take responsibility for punishing sinners, creating a place called Hell for this purpose. In exchange, he would be exiled from the gods, but could draw power from mortal souls in their place. Asmodeus turned the souls into monsters called devils and used them to tempt mortals to sin, in order to claim more souls. By the time the gods realized their mistake, it was too late, as they had already signed the contract.[99]

The gods cast Asmodeus out of their realm, throwing him to the deepest place in Baator. The fall severely wounded him, as he was thrown through solid ground until he could fall no further. By some retellings, it was his fall which broke Baator into nine pieces, which later rearranged themselves into layers.[12]

In one version of the story, as told in The Trial of Asmodeus by Anodius, the trial was presided over by Primus, who ultimately acquitted Asmodeus. However, Primus thereafter forced him to carry the Ruby Rod, which gives him and all devils the right to enter contracts with mortals for their soul and punishes devils who break such contracts.[20]

He Who Was

Another version of the myth tells that Asmodeus was once an archangel in the service of some now-forgotten deity remembered only as He Who Was. A paragon of virtue, Asmodeus was tasked with eternally guarding the prison of Tharizdun, the Chained God. Following the defeat of Miska the Wolf-Spider with the Rod of Law, the demon Pazuzu visited Asmodeus and flattered him, sparking a growing disillusionment with his menial task. Asmodeus abandoned his post and sought out the Heart of the Abyss, stealing a shard of it which he crafted into a powerful ruby rod.[100]

Asmodeus then led a terrible invasion of the Astral Sea in which his deity was killed and their domain shattered. By some accounts, Asmodeus himself made the killing blow against his former lord with the Ruby Rod,[101] with his army encamped on what is now the Lake of Fire in Phlegethos. He stole the spark of divinity from his slain former god and became a deity himself[102] (though by some accounts he became a god after stealing the shard from the Abyss).[103]

In punishment, by that deity's dying curse,[104] Asmodeus and those who had fought under him were transformed into the horrible creatures now called devils, and imprisoned in the burning ruins of their former god's domain, now called the Nine Hells.[100][5] The narzugons, or hell knights, are said to have been servants of that deity who were tricked into betraying him, and were damned to follow Asmodeus as punishment despite their hatred of him.[105] Asmodeus fashioned the plane into a torture engine to draw magical energy from imprisoned souls, designed to collect as many souls as possible.[106] Asmodeus used his power and influence to erase the name of his former god from existence.[107]

By another account, Asmodeus was exiled from his deity's service during the Dawn War for his increasingly brutal methods of waging war, including the massacre of innocents. Asmodeus fell into the soft earth of Baator on the fields of Avernus, broken in mind and body, along with all those who served under him. Taking the form of devils, Asmodeus and his forces rose up and slew He Who Was, and were trapped in Baator by that god's dying curse. Asmodeus struck a deal with the gods, allowing him to temporarily assume the divine power of He WhoWas and control Baator until the primordials were defeated.[108]

Blood War

Main article: Blood War

The Blood War began early in the history of the planes, when tanar'ri demons of the Abyss came into conflict with the baatezu devils while exploring the planes, later escalating into full-scale war. Asmodeus quickly realized that this conflict was meaningless, but that it could serve as a convenient diversion, keeping his enemies distracted while he carried out his own secret plans.[98][49]

The Reckoning

Main article: Reckoning of Hell

In the early days of the Blood War, in-fighting among devil lords was common. Over thousands of years, two opposing factions formed: the first led by Mephistopheles, allied with Dispater, Mammon, and Geryon; and the second led by Baalzebul, allied with Moloch, Belial, and Zariel. Both ultimately sought to overthrow Asmodeus.[109]

A series of major battles across the layers of the Hells culminated in a battle at Maladomini, with millions of devils on each side. Unknown to the other archdevils, Geryon had secretly remained loyal to Asmodeus, and arranged a plan. Before the battle could begin in earnest, Geryon blew a horn signalling the eight pit fiend generals of each army to betray their leader, resulting in a victory for Asmodeus.[109]

In an unexpected turn of events, Asmodeus immediately re-instated all of the archdevils, except for Moloch and the loyal Geryon, who was replaced with Levistus. The pit fiend generals were placed under the direct command of Asmodeus, and called the Dark Eight.[109] Asmodeus transformed Mammon into a serpentine form, perhaps as punishment for his betrayal,[110] and Baalzebul into a stinking slug-like form.[111]

Ancient history

Asmodeus convinced the archangel Zariel to defect from Mount Celestia to the Nine Hells, promising that with her help he could ultimately end the Blood War. Zariel subsequently became ruler of Avernus.[112]

Asmodeus was widely worshipped in the Nentir Vale region, among the tieflings of the empire of Bael Turath.[113] A pact made in ancient times infused his essence into the bloodline of a group of humans long ago, creating the tieflings who bear his likeness.[114] He continues to make pacts with human warlocks, granting them hellfire and altering fate in their favor.[115]

At one point, it is thought that Asmodeus may have sponsored the creation of the yugoloths, neutral evil daemons spawned by a sisterhood of night hags in Gehenna, with the hopes of creating an independent army of fiends.[23]

Ascension

Asmodeus' divine status has long been debated. In Faerûn, Asmodeus is said to have been a deity since ancient times, but was at one point reduced to the status of an archdevil, and sought for millennia to reclaim his divinity. Following the destructive event known as the Spellplague, the destruction of Dweomerheart sent Faerûnian god of magic Azuth into the Nine Hells, where Asmodeus was able to consume his divine essence and return. Asmodeus used his newfound divine status to push the Abyss to the bottom of the Elemental Chaos, finally ending the Blood War.[86]

Asmodeus subsequently worked to maintain the truce between demons and devils for several generations, in human terms. His goal here was to prevent the demons from uniting against a common enemy, ensuring that they would instead fight each other while the Nine Hells can conserve its strength for the eventual return of the Blood War.[116]

Other human legends

Some human legends suggest that Asmodeus slew the deity who created humans.[117] Another says that Asmodeus seeks to thwart fate itself, and places obstacles before mortals with the greatest destinies.[118]

Yet another story told in the world of Earth says that Asmodeus was a lesser archdevil in service to Amaimon, commander of the largest army of Hell. As patron of politics and bureaucracy, Asmodeus' power grew substantially in this world during the rise of democratic states 18th and 19th centuries, and he was able to leverage his political position to supplant Baalzebul as ruler of Hell without fighting a single battle. Following the rise of Asmodeus, Earth's 20th century resulted in a series of unprecedented world-spanning wars and atrocities in which millions of humans were killed.[119][120]

In the world of Eberron, Asmodeus is said to have once been the first pillar of Daanvi, created by Siberys in the dawn of time, and was the being who taught the god Aureon the ways of magic and politics, among othe grand achievements. Over time he became disgruntled with his task, for he did not receive worship as the gods did. He waged war against them, but Aureon imprisoned him within the Ninth Circle. An age later, on the day of the Mourning, Asmodeus and his devils were able to take control of their prison of Baator.[121]

Recent history

Decades ago, Asmodeus once placed an entire planet into an object called the Vallis Crystal, hoping to secure their worship of him as a god. It was stolen by an adventuring party including Emirikol the Chaotic and Klysandral the paladin, and kept in the Temple of Neheod. Decades later, he called upon his human servant Loviath to steal it back, giving her a scroll to pull the entire temple into the Nine Hells.[22] Asmodeus offered Geryon his support to retake his former layer from Levistus, in exchange for assistance capturing the temple.[122] Geryon was later presumed destroyed, and it is speculated that Asmodeus took advantage of his weakness to consume his soul.[123]

Some years ago Asmodeus allowed the pit fiend Bel the Pretender to overthrow Zariel as ruler of Avernus,[124] although she recently recovered her position.[125]

The bardic poem Asmodeus's Golden Arse is named for him.[126]

Publication history

AD&D 1st edition

Asmodeus first appeared in Monster Manual (1e) (1977), p.20-21, and is mentioned in connection to the gate spell in the Dungeon Masters Guide (1e) (1979), p.43.

He is listed as a lesser deity in Deities & Demigods (1e) (1980) and Legends & Lore (1e) (1985), p.90. His political scenario is described in Manual of the Planes (1e) (1987), p.110-112, Monster Manual II (1e) (1983), p.44-48, and Cloak & Dagger (2000), p.120-121.

Asmodeus makes an appearance in the parody module WG7 Castle Greyhawk (1988), p.31,96, and in OP1 Tales of the Outer Planes (1988).

Asmodeus is attested in Demonology Made Easy, Dragon #20 (Nov 1978), The Politics of Hell, Dragon #28 (Aug 1979), The Day of the Dwarf, Dragon #42 (Oct 1980), New denizens of devildom, Dragon #75 (Jul 1983), The Nine Hells: Part 1, Dragon #75 (Jul 1983), The Nine Hells: Part 2, Dragon #76 (Aug 1983), and Nine Hells revisited, Dragon #76 (Aug 1983).

AD&D 2nd edition

Asmodeus was absent from Dungeons & Dragons for most of AD&D 2nd edition due to a general prohibition on demons, devils, and elements of real-world religion. Asmodeus was alluded to in Planescape sourcebooks, but not named directly.

Following Wizards of the Coast's acquisition of TSR, Asmodeus' history described in detail in A Paladin in Hell (1998) and Guide to Hell (1999).

D&D 3rd edition

Asmodeus is described in detail in Book of Vile Darkness (3e) (2002), p.165-168. He is briefly mentioned in Book of Exalted Deeds (2003), p.124 in comparison to the angel Zaphkiel. Complete Mage (2006), p.7, mentions him as one of the archdevils who serves as patron to warlocks.

Asmodeus is described in most detail in Manual of the Planes (3e) (2001), p.115-123 and Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells (2006).

Asmodeus' enmity with various other beings is mentioned: with Zargon, in Elder Evils (2007), p.145-147; with Levistus in Frostburn (2004); with Geryon in Tome of Magic (3e) (2006), p.32 and Dragon #361 (Nov 2007), with Astaroth in Gazing Into the Abyss, Dragon #357 (Jul 2007), p.68; and with Moloch in Dragon #360 (Oct 2007).

D&D 4th edition

D&D 4th edition saw Asmodeus gain the status of a deity, appearing in the core pantheon of that edition. The preview book Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters (2008), p.74-75, describes this change as establishing Asmodeus as a being on the same level as a deity, rather than a lesser non-divine entity.

Asmodeus is first linked to the origins of the tiefling race in this edition, and is again described as a patron to the warlock class. The Monster Manual (4e) (2008), p.60-61, describes him as a divine servant who rebelled against his deity, while the Dungeon Master's Guide (4e) (2008), p.162, describes his creed.

As a core deity and major antagonist, Asmodeus and his various underlings and followers are mentioned in source books throughout 4th edition. His history and connection to the blood war are described in the Demonomicon (2010), Manual of the Planes (4e) (2008), and The Plane Above (2010), p.65.

He is attested in Codex of Betrayal: Beleth, the Witch's Viscount, Dragon #365 (Jul 2008), Deities and Demigods: Bane, Dragon #372 (Feb 2009), Codex of Betrayal: Alloces, the Butcher of Nessus, Dragon #373 (Mar 2009), Class Acts: Warlock, Dragon #382 (Dec 2009), Class Acts: Dealers in Deviltry, Dragon #386 (Apr 2010), The Nine Hells Parts 1 & 2, Dragon #400 (Jun 2011), Eye on Eberron, Dragon #408 (Feb 2012), The Blood War, Dragon #417 (Nov 2012), Codex of Betrayal: Levistus, Dragon #427 (Sep 2013), Codex of Betrayal: Amon the Wolf, Dragon #428 (Oct 2013), Codex of Betrayal: Geryon, Dungeon #175 (Feb 2010), and various other small references.

D&D 5th edition

Asmodeus is described in Dungeon Master's Guide (5e) (2014), p.64-66 and Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.66-68. He is mentioned in the Player's Handbook (5e) (2014) as the originator of the tiefling race and patron to some warlocks.

Asmodeus is still described as a deity in some sources, at least within the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, where he is listed as such in Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus (2019), p.4, and the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (2015), p.21,24-25.

He is mentioned in The Rise of Tiamat (2014), p.10, Waterdeep: Dragon Heist (2018), p.115-130, and throughout Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus (2019). He is described in detail in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (2018).

Creative origins

Asmodeus originates as a demon appearing in ancient Abrahamic religious texts, including the Hebrew Talmud and the biblical Book of Tobit, as well as later works on medieval demonology.

Asmodeus is mentioned by name in the Book of Tobit, a biblical text considered apocryphal by some Christian sects:

It came to pass the same day, that in Ecbatane a city of Media Sara the daughter of Raguel was also reproached by her father's maids;
Because that she had been married to seven husbands, whom Asmodeus the evil spirit had killed, before they had lain with her. Dost thou not know, said they, that thou hast strangled thine husbands? thou hast had already seven husbands, neither wast thou named after any of them.

Asmodeus' appearance appears to be inspired by popular depictions of the Devil or Satan, an evil adversarial figure in Christian religion. In modern times, the Devil is commonly depicted with red skin, horns, and a goatee beard. This form is thought by some commentators to be inspired by the image of the Greek fertility god Pan, who was depicted in art as a goatlike satyr.

Reception and influence

In Return of Demogorgon, Dragon #375 (May 2009), Asmodeus is described as the only being in the original Monster Manual (1e) (1977) who might have a chance to defeat Demogorgon.

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