10
\$\begingroup\$

Reading the Monster Manual section on Devils, it has a list of types of devil with their stat blocks and how they stand in a hierarchy. Since there is a hierarchy, is this a complete list of devils in the 5e game?

If I wanted to make a new creature that is a devil, what essential attributes would it have to have? It would have to be a Lawful Evil Fiend, but what else? What makes e.g. a Hell Hound or Rakshasa not a devil? Or are those creatures devils too?

\$\endgroup\$
17
\$\begingroup\$

A devil is formed/born when (MM 66, top paragraph)

sending his servants to the mortal realm to corrupt the souls from which new devils are spawned

So, answering about Rakshasas and Hell Hounds, they are each a unique fiend rather than being a form of corrupted mortal soul.

On the next page is a list of four main categories of devils, with a subsection called Promotion and Demotion covering how a corrupted soul can get from newly minted minion all the way up to the top levels of the Infernal Hierarchy.

In the stat blocks on MM 70-78, it appears that all Devils have the following features:

  • Resistance to: cold; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons that aren't silvered
  • Immunity to fire and poison
  • Immunity to the Poisoned condition
  • 120' darkvision
  • 120' telepathy
  • Infernal language
  • Magic Resistance

Most also have natural armor and Devil's Sight (for some reason, not Pit Fiends or Erinyes).

Making Your Own Devil

If you're making your own devil then the only real core is Lawful Evil and some kind of corruption of a mortal soul. I see two options to make it interesting.

First: Backstory.

A favored NPC is a literal devil in disguise. The drama arises from the emotional connection PCs have to this NPC. This is basically a literary classic.

In D&D terms, though, you might consider what happens differently when an Elf or Dwarf is corrupted, as opposed to a Human. The books don't seem to say anything on this, but it's totally within DM purview to build the world in this regard.

Second: Custom monster.

DMG 273 details how to create or modify a monster.

My favourite technique for this is covered in the Modifying a Monster section. Just take a different monster and describe it differently. A short step away from that is describing a creature differently and also tweaking small things like energy type on damage. For example, you could just take a Deva, give him red skin and horns, then tweak that Radiant damage to Necrotic. There's a section on Fallen Angels on MM P. 15 if you'd like to commit to this route.

If that's not enough, then use the subsequent sections to create your own. The most important step here is in the opening paragraphs: the concept. If you're sticking with the book's 'corrupted soul' concept, then consider what sins/corruptions might have created the various devils in the book. Then consider what your new creation's sin might have been (backstory again!) and what thematic powers, traits, and quirks might manifest. Add those to the above list of generic devil traits. Additionally, you should consider how this devil fits into the Infernal Hierarchy, including which devils owe it fealty and which it owes fealty to.

\$\endgroup\$
9
\$\begingroup\$

Dungeons & Dragons has a long, long history of devils, and earlier editions gave them a lot more detail. So far as I know, all of the following is 5e-compatible (as in, it won’t contradict anything in 5e), but these details haven’t necessarily all been called out in 5e (yet?).

The term “devil,” by and large, refers to the outsiders found in the Nine Hells of Baator, the lawful-evil outer plane. This contrasts with the chaotic-evil demons in the Abyss and the neutral-evil yugoloths in Hades. There are also evil outsiders not from the outer planes at all—at least in prior editions, rakshasas were evil native to the material plane rather than any of the lower planes.

However, there are more than one “race” of devil. The most common in present-day Baator are known as the baatezu, but some devils like chain devils (kytons) are not baatezu but separate. For the record, hell hounds are another example of this: they are devils, but are not baatezu. On top of those distinctions, long, long ago, there were the ancient baatorians; see our Q&A on the ancient baatorians as of the 3.5 revision of D&D.

Ultimately, what makes a creature a devil is being formed from the substance of Baator. Unsurprisingly, this usually happens in the Hells, but doesn’t quite have to, and again, most outsiders that form in the Hells are devils, but this doesn’t quite have to be the case. For example, several gods have their realms within the Nine Hells (or, at least, did; I believe 5e may have changed this), and were capable of creating non-devil servants for themselves.

What makes a creature a baatezu in particular is that they are part of the baatezu development tree. All baatezu start out as lemures, and turn into the various advanced baatezu from there. And baatezu has been a defined, mechanical status in some editions of D&D. For example, in the 3.5e revision, the glossary entry on the baatezu subtype offers the following properties common to all baatezu:

  • Immunity to fire and poison.
  • Resistance to acid 10 and cold 10.
  • See in Darkness (Su): All baatezu can see perfectly in darkness of any kind, even that created by a deeper darkness spell.
  • Summon (Sp): Baatezu share the ability to summon others of their kind (the success chance and type of baatezu summoned are noted in each monster description).
  • Telepathy.

The most prominent of these, to my mind, are being Lawful Evil, and the strong resistances to fire and poison and lesser resistances to acid and cold and the ability to see in even magical darkness. In fact, the ability to see in magical darkness has sometimes been made available to non-devils through spells called devil sight, which kind of emphasizes how iconic that ability is. Not mentioned here is a vulnerability to silver and/or resistance to non-silver weapons, which is also a big part of the devils in previous editions. The second edition even had a bit about “stinger” being slang for a silver piece on the planes, because holding one was unpleasant for devils and trying to trade with one in silver was a good way to make an unpleasant being angry with you specifically.

\$\endgroup\$
3
\$\begingroup\$

A careful reading of the Monster Manual entry for Devils indicates that Devils form a closed system.

The way to become a devil is by having your corrupted mortal soul sent to the Nine Hells to become a Lemure. There are then 13 ranks of devil that stand in a strict total order, with Lemure at rank 1 and Archdevil at rank 13, and Asmodeus above that. Imps are rank 2, Spine Devils are rank 3, and so on.

So "devil" in the Monster Manual seems to have an inductive definition. A devil is either:

  1. A Lemure, created from a corrupted mortal soul.
  2. Promoted from a lesser devil.
  3. Asmodeus.

This seems to preclude the possibility of new types of devil, unless they would be inserted into this hierarchy by some greater power. Perhaps Asmodeus himself could create a new type of devil.

Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes changes things up quite a bit by adding a number of devils outside of this strict order. In particular, the book adds a host of archdevils below Asmodeus but above the regular hierarchy of 13 types. It also adds servants of these archdevils, their foot soldiers and lieutenants. There are abishai who serve the dragon queen Tiamat and stand completely outside the hierarchy (as Tiamat is not a devil according to her stat block). There's also the nupperibo, adding a type of devil below the lemure.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ For what it’s worth, previous editions would call this the definition of a “baatezu,” while there are non-baatezu devils like chain devils, hell hounds, and the ancient baatorians (including nupperibos). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 16 '18 at 12:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.