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"Better to rule in Hell than to serve in heaven!"
— Lucifer, Prince of Light

Satan, also called Lucifer, Prince of Light, The Prince of Darkness, or The Adversary, is an archdevil who briefly ruled the Nine Hells in a time before recorded history.[1] He is best known for his influence over the world of Earth.

Satan is also associated with the Satanic panic, a real-world event in the United States during the 1980s, in which parents and religious fundamentalist groups incorrectly believed that the the game rules in Dungeons & Dragons sourcebooks were non-fictional.

Appearance and personality

Satan was created the most beautiful of all angels. He has the ability to assume any form, and most commonly chooses to appear as a normal man, adapting his appearance as suits the culture of the people he speaks to.[2]

In his lair, he assumes a humanoid form resembling a tiefling with deep red skin, horns, a tail a majestic countenance. He stands around 7 feet tall. He carries a pitchfork as his weapon.

Alignment

Satan is lawful evil in alignment.

Abilities and traits

Satan is a unique, exceptionally powerful and near-divine being.

Unique powers

Satan can move instantly at any distance, as if teleporting. He can travel to other planes of existence, and even travel through time.

He has the ability to alter any being's fate, which he uses to condemn unfortunate individuals to lose all which they hold dear. Only the most resolute can persevere against this attack.

Temptation

Satan can grant any person a wish, which he will offer to a mortal in exchange for a contract signed in their own blood. The contract guarantees that Satan may claim the mortal's soul after seven years, and may claim further wishes at the cost of one year each of remaining lifespan. The contractee may instead claim immortality.

Escaping this contract is difficult, and no power can cancel it against the contractee's will. As soon as they attempt to invoke the name of a deity to escape the contract, the time they have left is measured in hours, rather than years, and all devils everywhere will be eager to claim the soul sooner as a matter of pride.

Only an atonement by a high-ranking cleric can, and even then only if the cleric's deity is confident that he is powerful enough to defeat Satan.

Defensive abilities

Satan cannot be harmed except by an individual with a clear conscience, pure motive and absolute determination. Even then, he cannot be injured except by a magical weapon of high enchantment.[3]

Psionics cannot harm Satan, and anyone who attempts falls forever under his mental thrall.

Spellcasting

Satan is able to both cast spells and use psionics with supreme ability.

Lair

Satan is rarely found in his lair. Since being cast out of the Nine Hells, the places where he is welcome are few.

Treasure

Satan is believed to carry several magic items and a considerable amount of wealth in the form of coinage and gemstones.

Relationships

Enemies

Satan is opposed by Asmodeus and practically all other archdevils, whose recognition of Asmodeus as Ruler of the Nine is nearly absolute; by virtually all deities of good, chaotic or neutral alignment, as well as many lawful evil, neutral evil and lawful neutral deities who are allied with Asmodeus; and in addition all of the celestials.

Allies and minions

The archdevil Belial is still a strong ally of Satan.

Mortals who have sold their soul to Satan are nominally in his employ, as well as his growing cult. Satan often makes requests of his minions, and while they are not typically bound to comply by contract, it would be exceptionally foolish to attempt to cross the Prince of Darkness.

Worship

Satan's cult has grown for centuries, and is highly organized with a strict hierarchy. They believe lies planted by Satan himself millennia ago, among them that Satan is the supreme being and on par with the god who cast him out. Covens of witches particularly worship Satan.

History

Prehistory

Satan was created the most powerful and brilliant angel of a deity of many names, who tasked him with testing the morality of mortal men. By using bribery and punishment, Satan was so frequently successful at tempting good humans toward evil that in time he lost faith in mankind. At the same time, he grew to hate the deity who had assigned him the task of unfairly punishing good men.

Gathering an army of renegade angels, Satan rebelled against his divine patron, but was ultimately defeated and cast down to Hell, along with the unrepentant angels who followed him. The dazzling flash with which he was cast out gave him the nickname Lucifer, Prince of Light.

A legend in the world of Earth cites that Satan passed through that world as he fell, specifically an island named Mont-Saint-Michel.[2]

Satan believed that he was merely outmaneuvered in the battle, and could have won if he had taken the time to develop a strategy. His followers, fallen angels whose shift to evil saw them reclassified as devils, refused their former deity's offer of repentance and dedicated themselves to furthering evil and suffering.

Ancient history

A human cult to Satan arose at some point between 2,400 and 1,200 years ago. This cult placed Satan at the top of the infernal hierarchy, and Satan likewise considered himself to hold this position.

However, Satan's control of the Hells was not absolute, and his authority was contested by several other archdevils, including Adramelech, Amaimon, Astaroth, Beelzebub, Belphegor, Moloch and Nergal; of these, Beelzebub had the power and political ability to establish himself as ruler.

Satan had largely controlled his minions through fear alone, and relied on his loyal lieutenant, the archdevil Belial, to prevent his forces mutinying to the side of Beelzebub.

When Beelzebub finally challenged Satan, the only archdevil to take his side was Belial. They were defeated, and the two were exiled from the Hells. However, while Belial retained considerable political sway in the infernal bureaucracy and would maintain sufficient influence to re-establish his position, Satan was a poor politician, and had no such luck.[2]

Exile

Satan retained a considerable cult following among humankind, having successfully deceived most of his cultists by manipulating entire cultures into subsisting in a centuries-long dark age of superstition and self-centered feudalism. A handful of demonologists learned of his fall, but were unable to spread this information because most people could not read or write.

Beelzebub's increasing influence throughout the multiverse saw trends of increased knowledge and rationality among humankind, a decision intended to undermine faith in the gods and allow humanity to invent new and cruel methods and technologies with which to kill and harm each other.

This centuries-long rejection of superstition impeded the growth of Satan's human cult, but also led people to reject belief in devils at a time when Beelzebub's political control over the forces of Hell was faltering. This saw Baalzebub's formal replacement around one hundred years ago by the archdevil Asmodeus, a master politician and previously considered by most a minor bureaucrat in the service of the general Amaimon.

Recent history

Asmodeus has all but stricken all references to Satan and Lucifer from the histories of the Nine Hells, and today even many experts consider the names to refer to minor former archdevils of little note. However, Satan is still an exceptionally powerful being, and among the mortals of Earth his name is still feared.

Satan occasionally visits the city of Prague on Earth, where he is said to visit a three-storey house on Charles Square called Faust House.[4]

Publication history

AD&D 1st edition

Satan is primarily described in The Politics of Hell, Dragon #28 (Aug 1979), p.2-3,40-42.

A few references to Satan appeared Dragon Magazine during the AD&D era, primarily in reference to his place in angel mythology or historic European superstitions. They include Winners of the first "Name That Monster" contest, Dragon #14 (May 1978), Another Look at Witches and Witchcraft in D&D, Dragon #20 (Nov 1978), Angels, Dragon #35 (Mar 1980), The Seven Magical Planets, Dragon #38 (Jun 1980), The Wolf in your Paint Pot, Dragon #40 (Aug 1980), The Possessors, Dragon #42 (Oct 1980), and How to have a Good Time Being Evil, Dragon #45 (Jan 1981).

Following the widely-publicized suicide of Irving Pulling in June 1982, which his mother blamed on Dungeons & Dragons, the game received negative press in the United States due to religious fundamentalists and parent groups who believed D&D was part of a real-world Satanic conspiracy.

Later products were careful to avoid controversial references to Satan, Lucifer or the deity of real-world Abrahamic religion, although other named demons and devils of real-world folklore would continue to appear. The Dungeon Magazine writer's guidelines, published in Dragon #111 (Jul 1986), expressly forbade depictions of Satan, Satanism, or major Christian, Jewish or Muslim religious figures. This rule remained in place until the closure of the print-edition Dungeon magazine in September 2007.[5]

The short story Eyes of Redemption, Dragon #134 (Jun 1988), set during the real-world papacy of Pope Adrian VI (1522-1533), mentions Satan in the context of the 1591 Diet of Worms, which in the story declared dragons to be the spawn of Satan.

AD&D 2nd edition

Mentions of Satan were carefully avoided in AD&D 2nd edition. Between 1990 and 1993, the letters pages of Dragon magazine frequently referenced the Satanic panic. Demons and devils were entirely omitted from the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989).

D&D 3rd edition

Satan and Lucifer are namedropped in Book of Vile Darkness (3e) (2002), p.143. Satan makes an appearance in the historical article Cities of the Ages: Prague, Dragon #285 (Jul 2001), p.80-83, set around 1599 AD.

Creative origins

Satan is a figure appearing in Abrahamic religious texts, including the Bible, biblical apocrypha, and the Koran. The nature and role of Satan have long been a matter of discussion for theologians.

In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Satan appears to Jesus during the 40 days he spends in the desert, an event known as the Temptation of Christ. Jesus later refers to Satan in several of his parables, and Satan is referenced throughout the New Testament of the Bible, including Revelation 12:9, where he is described as a serpent or dragon:

"And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."

The New Testament refers to Satan as synonmous with devil, or the Devil. Many Christians consider Satan equivalent to the serpent who tempts Eve with the apple, though this is not strictly stated in the text. The name Lucifer (light-bringer) appearing in Isaiah 14:12 is popularly considered synonymous wth Satan, but is thought by some to be a reference to a Babylonian king.

According to the article Unearthed Arcana: Ignorance is Blessed, Dragon #398 (Apr 2011), p.4, Satan's name was influenced by the Egyptian deity Set.

Reception and influence

The inclusion of references to figures of real-world religion was controversial. Later D&D products referenced archdevils such as Asmodeus and Belial, but avoided the names Satan or Lucifer.

In the article Eight Devilish Questions, Dragon #91 (Nov 1984), p.38, Ed Greenwood defended his decision to avoid including Satan or Lucifer in his The Nine Hells from Dragon #75 and #76:

"Simply, I did not because Mr. Gygax has not, and I tried to adhere to official AD&D® game rules wherever possible. His reasons for excluding Satan are best given by him; my own objections, from a game designer's point of view, boil down to the simple judgement that there is no room in the AD&D game system for a devil more powerful than Asmodeus."

Ed Greenwood's reason would later be exponded on in the letters page of Dragon #93. He speaks highly of Dragon #28's The Politics of Hell:

"Many longtime DRAGON readers, myself among them, consider Alexander von Thorn's 'The Politics of Hell' to be one of the best, if not THE best, article that appeared in the magazine's first 50 issues, and when writing my manuscript I tried to follow it as closely as possible without contradicting official material."

Further reading

References

  1. Book of Vile Darkness (3e) (2002), p.143.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Politics of Hell, Dragon #28 (Aug 1979), p.2-3,40-42.
  3. "In order to strike Satan with a weapon, the attacker would need a +3 weapon to hit him..."
  4. Cities of the Ages: Prague, Dragon #285 (Jul 2001), p.80-83.
  5. Dungeon submission guidelines, p.8.
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