In Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (p. 10), it is stated that Asmodeus' Ruby Rod binds all devils to the letter of the law of their contracts. Failure of a devil to keep their end of the bargain in a contract would subject them to an inescapable punishment, but the nature of the punishment is not elaborated upon. I assume it'd be something ironic and debilitating.

The [Ruby Rod]...grants him and his underlings the right to enter into contracts with mortals for their souls but unleashes an inescapable punishment upon any devil that breaches such a contract.

Is there any official clarification on the nature of the punishment? If an answer is not available in 5e, I will accept an answer from other editions.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth specifically quoting the relevant section, which just mentions a punishment, not a curse: "[Primus] did, however, order Asmodeus to forever carry a mighty artifact, the Ruby Rod, that would guarantee his adherence to law. The artifact, which has remained at Asmodeus’s side ever since, grants him and his underlings the right to enter into contracts with mortals for their souls but unleashes an inescapable punishment upon any devil that breaches such a contract." \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Sep 12, 2018 at 19:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Thanks for that, I was trying to remember exactly what it said from my reading last night. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 12, 2018 at 20:48

2 Answers 2


It's not specified.

D&D 5th edition's Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes is the first sourcebook to reveal that the Ruby Rod was forced upon Asmodeus by Primus, and that devils obey their contracts out of fear of the rod's curse. It's not specified in any other 5th edition book, and the relevant sourcebooks of earlier editions make no mention of this curse either.

D&D 3rd edition's Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells defines Asmodeus, the Ruby Rod, and the rules around mortals making a pact with a creature. On page 23, regarding Faustian Pacts:

Though benefits of extraordinary value can be offered in a Faustian pact, the devil preparing it always tries to achieve the deal with a minimum possible expenditure of resources. Once the soul is securely damned, the negotiator often arranges—usually through servitors—to bring about the signatory's untimely death.

Page 25 describes what happens if a soul goes to Baator and demands the right to adjudication on the grounds that their rewards were not granted, or that the mortal was coerced or magically compelled:

The judge, usually a pit fiend, listens dispassionately to both sides and rules, as a lawful creature must, according to the law.

If the mortal wins, their soul goes free and may be restored to life with raise dead as normal. Notably, there's no mention of any curse or penalty which affects the devil who made the pact.

Asmodeus and his Ruby Rod are detailed in this book (p.155-157). There's no mention here of the rod's origin with Primus.

In AD&D 2nd edition's Planes of Law, it's suggested that devils obey their contracts because they are experts at creating and exploiting loopholes in contracts, so the contract is always in the devil's favour (p.20):

They'll cut a deal with any berk they can, and woe to the sod who agrees to their terms — and dire woe to any sod who thinks he can skirt the agreement! The baatezu've been making deals since before most Prime worlds cooled from the heat of creation; they've learned just about all the loopholes.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I understand that last paragraph to say that the mortals entering the contracts can't hope to exploit any loopholes in their contracts because the devils already covered all of them one way or another, not that the contracts are especially in favor of the devils (although of course that's usually what it comes down to). \$\endgroup\$
    – Cubic
    Sep 13, 2018 at 17:09

The no specific punishment.

As far as other editions, I'm not an expert in D&D lore by any means, but 5e is the first I've ever heard about devils even being able to break a contract, whatever the cost. In 3rd edition (and possibly Planescape), I seem to recall that Devils were stated to be literally incapable of breaking a contract; ignoring a bargain once struck would be like ignoring gravity or inertia (without magic, of course). Law is as intrinsic to their nature as evil is, so a devil breaking its contract is kind of like a devil turning good. That theme is reflected in the basic rules on alignment in this edition.

Alignment is an essential part of the nature of celestials and fiends. A devil does not choose to be lawful evil, and it doesn’t tend toward lawful evil, but rather it is lawful evil in its essence. If it somehow ceased to be lawful evil, it would cease to be a devil
(Basic Rules, p. 36 (same as in PHB))

  • \$\begingroup\$ ...wow, bunch of downvotes with no comments and no alternate answers? What's the problem? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 12, 2018 at 21:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ My guess, citation needed \$\endgroup\$
    – Saladani
    Sep 12, 2018 at 21:40
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It's not an answer to the question so much as a related factoid, and that there are no supporting references doesn't help. "I don't know, I think I remember it was completely different in an older edition" just isn't a useful answer to the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Sep 12, 2018 at 21:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I concur with Carcer on his sentiment, that the answer isn't really useful for this question, but still interesting to know. Curiously, the ability for outer plane inhabitants (3.5 outsiders) to change their alignment doesn't seem as absolute as one might think (at least in 5e). After all, angels can fall from grace. Within MToF, Zariel was once an angel whom fell from grace and rose up as a Archduchess on the 1st layer of the Nine Hells (so LG to LE); I'm pretty sure I also read about a powerful devil becoming a demon prince (LE to CE). It is a fascinating read. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 13, 2018 at 13:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's essentially impossible to prove something does not exist, especially with a game as extensive as D&D. I answered the question -- it's a no -- and in lieu of the impossible proof that it absolutely isn't mentioned in any rulebook, splat, web article, or novel, I gave a reason why it's unlikely to have been answered in a prior edition. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 14, 2018 at 4:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .