My favourite book when I played Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 was the Book of Vile Darkness, for one and only reason: Its last chapter on Demon Lords and Arch Devils, malign beings that ruled over the Inifinite Layers of the Abyss and the Nine Hells of Baator respectively, and the Reckoning of Hell, when power changed hands.

In 4th edition, some things have changed as far as Hell Politics are concerned: The Hag Countess has been overthrown, and Asmodeus, who from Lord of the Arch Devils has gone to full-blown deity, has put his daughter, Glasya, as ruler of Malbolge, the Sixth Layer of Baator.

I am interested in the history of The Nine Hells of Baator and the Arch Devils, from the beggining to end, that is, from the first edition they were mentioned, to 4th. I am also interested in the history of the Infinite Layers of the Abyss and the Demon Lords respectively, but the Arch Devils are a priority.

TL;DR: Is there a website or book I can find the history and politics of the Nine Layers of the Abyss and the Arch Devils, from the earliest edition they were described, to 4th?


2 Answers 2


Planescape campaign setting (for AD&D 2nd ed) should be your primary source for that kind of information. Specifically I would look at:

  • Planescape campaign setting (for general information about the Planes and their denizens)
  • Planes of Law (for more details about Baator)
  • Planes of Chaos (for more details about the Abyss)
  • Hellbound: The Blood War (describing the conflict between Baatezu and Tanar'ri)
  • Faces of Evil: the Fiends (a book about the psychology of the fiends - Baatezu, Tanar'ri and Yugoloths too)
  • Guide to Hell (greatly details Baator and the happenings therein, with detailed accounts of the Archdkes of Hell and the various layers, alongside a possible origin of Asmodeus)

Some Planescape adventures contain useful bit of information too:

  • In the Abyss (it's a journey into the Abyss, lots of setting information)
  • Dead Gods (it's a collection of adventures and one of them is about the resurrection of Orcus)

And don't forget about Fiendish Codex I and Fiendish Codex II for D&D 3.5ed. They are heavily focused on setting and contain a lot of information about notable fiends, updating info from Book of Vile Darkness and introducing completely new Demons Lords / Arch Devils.

As for websites, take a look at http://www.planewalker.com/


There is an article named "Politics of Hell" in Dragon #28 by Alexander von Thorn, according to Wikipedia, detailing the history and politics of Hell in AD&D. I will read up on it and see if it is what I am looking for.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The article is limited to Astaroth, Belial and Satan, and to AD&D (1st ed) and is thus inappropriate, although an interesting read indeed. \$\endgroup\$
    – OddCore
    Jan 31, 2012 at 14:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It however formed the basis of the politics that came after, so I would count it as still relevant. I met the author once. \$\endgroup\$
    – Canageek
    Feb 1, 2012 at 2:08

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