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If it dies outside the Nine Hells, a devil disappears in a cloud of sulfurous smoke or dissolves into a pool of ichor, instantly returning to its home layer, where it reforms at full strength. (MM p. 67)

There exist spells which ward an area against planar travel, such as Mordekainen's Private Sanctum, or Antimagic Field.

What would happen to a devil which died outside the Nine Hells in an area warded against planar travel? Would that ward stop them from returning to the Nine Hells? If so what would happen instead?

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DM Purview

There are no official 5th edition rules about these kinds of specific situations. A DM is free to decide.

On the one hand, you could argue that an area warded against planar travel is only warded against physical (and possibly astral) travelling. And when a devil (or, indeed, anyone else) dies in such an area there is no magic in the world that could possibly stop the soul or essence from departing to the afterlife.

On the other hand, a DM may decide that in his campaign this is precisely a way - possibly the only way - that a devil can be disposed of permanently. (If it stops the souls of other creatures from entering the afterlife as well it could even raise some awkward questions - maybe this is how powerful ghosts and wraiths are made!). NB: This is slightly against the monster manual text regarding such things, but 'fluff text' is always free to be adjusted/home-brewed by a DM.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Onto the second option you could add the stipulation that it kills a daemon...as long as the warding spell is in place, creating a neat little 'sealed evil in a can' plot hook, or maybe as you say trapping one of their fallen comrade's soul in with it giving a dilemma as to whether they should break the seal or not. \$\endgroup\$ – Ynneadwraith Jun 27 '18 at 15:36
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First I will add the same 'disclaimer' as PJRZ:

There are no official 5th edition rules about these kinds of specific situations. A DM is free to decide.

But fear not! The devil is in the details. My attention is at this part of the description:

[...] or dissolves into a pool of ichor.

You could rule that the ichor holds the devil's 'soul' until it leaves the warded area and returns back to Nine Hells. You can even make the ichor move towards an unwarded area until the planar travel is possible.

Something else to consider.

Under the Planar Travel (starting DMG p.44) there are only two ways for Planar Travel: spells and portals. Note both of these are magic. It's also fair to say when a spell or effect say Planar Travel is not possible they are talking about these 2 magical ways of travelling between planes. The description of devils however doesn't mention any spells or opening portals or anything about magic at all. Therefore you can also rule that this is not magical Planar Travel in the way the spells and portals work and let the poor thing go back to its home.

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