Normally, an imp familiar would follow the standard rules for devils

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. Devils that die in the Nine Hells are destroyed forever—a fate that even Asmodeus fears. (MM - Devil)


If a devil dies somewhere other than the Nine Hells, it re-forms in the Nine Hells and is therefore not truly killed. However, a devil that is killed in the Nine Hells is dead forever; not surprisingly, that's why devils tend to be more cautious in their dealings at home than abroad. (Descent Into Avernus 8)

In Curse of Strahd, the NPC

Lady Fiona Wachter

has an imp familiar, Majesto.

Specifically in Barovia, souls cannot leave the place upon their body's death:

In Barovia, the souls of the dead are as trapped as the souls of the living. They become caught in the mists and can’t travel to the afterlife. (CoS 24)

Even the most powerful magic cannot change this:

No spell—not even wish—allows one to escape from Strahd's domain. Astral projection, teleport, plane shift, and similar spells cast for the purpose of leaving Barovia simply fail, as do effects that banish a creature to another plane of existence. These restrictions apply to magic items and artifacts that have properties that transport or banish creatures to other planes. (ibid)

So, what happens if Majesto is slain in Barovia?

It would seem that he can't return to the Hells.

Would he reform in Barovia as an imp? If he did, would he still be under contract from his NPC caster?

Would he simply be destroyed as if he had been slain in the Hells?

Would he not reform corporeally, but be a trapped spirit like mortals killed in Barovia?

Could he be 'reborn' as the spirit of a devil in the body of a soul-less Barovian?

If Majesto considers the results of his death undesirable, would he be more cautious in dangerous situations, in the manner of an imp in the Hells?

This question is similar to the related question What happens to a devil that dies in an area warded against planar travel?. However, that question assumes that the area is warded in both directions. Barovia has a number of specific features that are different - the ward is one-way only (creatures can be summoned from other planes to Barovia), Barovia is able to 'hold on to' souls until they are reincarnated, and it has a complicated connection to the ethereal plane and the shadowfell.

The question is also similar to What happens if a Modron dies in Barovia?. However, the imp, unlike the Modron, has a spirit or soul. Further, this question is also about how knowledge of what will happen to it upon its death might affect the imp's behavior.

See also: In Curse of Strahd, how does Dispel Evil and Good's "Dismissal" option affect undead not native to Barovia?


1 Answer 1


I think any definitive answer is unlikely. However, I will give the best solution I can.

From the Monster Manual, in the section "Infernal Hierarchy":

Promotion and Demotion. When the soul of an evil mortal sinks into the Nine Hells, it takes on the physical form of a wretched lemure. Archdevils and greater devils have the power to promote lemures to lesser devils.

Lesser Devils. The lesser devils include numerous strains of fiends, including imps, chain devils, spined devils, bearded devils, barbed devils, and bone devils.

So, we know that some(most) devils actually contain mortal souls. D&D mythology is strained, but it's possible that the original devils were created without souls, but the chance of them surviving to current time and still being a lesser devil and not either killed or promoted seems slim.

From Curse of Strahd:

When a being with a soul dies in Barovia, that soul remains trapped in Strahd’s domain until it is reincarnated in a newborn.

This seems pretty clear. The imp almost certainly has a soul, if it does, its death releases its soul to wait to a free body to be reborn.

Does the imp know? I suspect it does not. Nothing automatically makes the secrets of the domain of dread apparent to its occupants. I would like to imagine he regards himself as superior to the helpless trapped humans. If he IS aware, he likely would do everything in his power to avoid death. As it would mean returning to a human body, and eventually returning as a lemure to the nine hells when / if Barovia ever loses its hold the souls.

However, he is still bound by his contract, which specifics are not included (to my knowledge) so that bound is left to the DM.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Being fair: I'm not sure any living creature, even one that knows that they will simply "go back to their realm of existence", would not "do everything in their power to avoid death"... \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Aug 30, 2020 at 1:49
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Well if it concluded a devil's contract "I will serve you until death*" *my death on this plane. I could see devils accepting death as a means of fulfilling their end of an agreement. Similarly if captured, suicide is a much more attractive option if you know its just a bit of travel as opposed to the end of existence as you know it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Daveman
    Aug 30, 2020 at 2:11

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