King of Hell
Lord of Darkness
Lord of Hell
Lord of the Pit
Master of Witches
Prince of Darkness
Prince of Devils
Prince of Hell
Prince of Law
Ruler of Hell
|Realm||The Catafalque, Nessus, Hell|
|Areas of Concern||Contracts |
|Worshipers||Slavers, bureaucrats, tyrants, diabolists, lawyers, those who seek rulership or discipline|
|Edicts||Negotiate contracts to your best advantage, rule tyrannically and torture weaker beings, show subservience to your betters|
|Anathema||Break a contract, free a slave, insult Asmodeus by showing mercy to your enemies|
|Cleric Alignments (1E)|
|Domains (1E)||Evil, Fire, Law, Magic, Trickery|
|Subdomains (1E)||Arcane, Ash, Deception, Devil, Divine, Legislation, Smoke|
|Cleric Alignments (2E)|
|Domains (2E)||Confidence, fire, trickery, tyranny|
Alternative: duty, glyph
|Symbol||Red pentagram: the Archstar|
|Sacred Colors||Black, red|
|Images of Asmodeus|
Source: Book of the Damned, pg(s). 26ff. (1E)
Gods & Magic (Second Edition), pg(s). 14f. (2E)
Asmodeus (pronounced as-MO-day-us) is the most powerful of the nine archdevils that inhabit Hell, and the only one of Hell's rulers to claim full divinity. It was he who is credited with the penning the contract of creation, within which his followers believe is hidden the means for their patron's eventual rise to supremacy.
Asmodeus believes that the strong should rightfully govern the weak, who in turn owe their masters unwavering obedience. He loves negotiations and contracts, especially those that give one of the parties a distinct, hidden advantage over the other. He expects and appreciates flattery, but its never fooled by it, seeing it as a negotiation tactic, as well as a duty those in inferior positions owe their betters.
The exact details of Asmodeus' history vary wildly across different accounts and exist only in myths and legends, but all agree that he is one of the oldest deities in existence. According to the Book of the Damned, Asmodeus is one of the two primeval entities with his brother and equal, Ihys; together, they are known as the First. This story is endorsed by Asmodeus' church and rejected or resented by most others. According to the Windsong Testaments, Asmodeus and his brother were two of the first deities of this incarnation of creation, born when Pharasma used the Seal to will existence into being.
Another account claims that Asmodeus actually began his days as an angel empyreal lord of Heaven. During his travels across the Great Beyond, Asmodeus discovered an enigmatic land, a shadow of Heaven which he explored for an age, during which he learnt to hear and commune with the realm's voice, which calls itself Hell. When he found the seemingly impossible ruins of a temple, Asmodeus was greeted by a serpent, and in the following age, he learnt much about its people, the asuras, as well as their neighbours, the velstracs, and many other beings beyond Heaven. He in turn shared many of Heaven's truths and innovations to the asuras and velstracs before returning to Heaven, keeping the route to Hell a secret to all but himself.
During his Fall (as the chronicles of Heaven call that event), Asmodeus led his followers, including his protégé Baalzebul, his creation Belial, and his lieutenants Moloch, Dispater, and Nybbas, to Hell, promising an escape from Heaven's bureaucracy and obsession with mortal life. Asmodeus found Hell greatly changed from his previous visit: many once-empty expanses were now claimed by asuras, velstracs, or gigas who welcomed neither his presumption nor his people.
Soon after Heaven's exiles claimed the bastion of Dis for themselves, the serpent, who recognised Asmodeus and remembered all they had learned from one another, petitioned to enter Dis and spoke in private to him. As they negotiated, a truce held between the invaders and defenders before the serpent exploded from Asmodeus' keep and nearly destroyed Dis.
The serpent then gathered 812 tyrants of Hell to unite their armies against Heaven's outcasts, only to devour them all and grant Asmodeus a foothold in Hell. His generals then conquered layer after layer of Hell, leaving only the serpent's own domain of Stygia alone. When the war ended, Asmodeus gathered his greatest followers, bequeathed boons to them and named himself Lord of Hell. Having to learn from Hell's ancient consciousness and make it bend before his new regime, Asmodeus then delved into the depths of Hell and tore its flesh from its bones, giving it a body, the name Mephistopheles and a place among his lieutenants.
The Birth of the First
The Book of the Damned claims that the First were born spontaneously from the mysterious source of life known as the Seal and began as formless motes of energy. When the Seal birthed other, lesser motes, the First became self-aware. Eons passed, and slowly the First, and the lesser motes, began exploring creation. These were the first gods.
One of the First came upon a sigil upon the Seal, and with its discovery, symbols and meaning came into existence. His brother uttered the first sound and discovered speech; he named himself Ihys. His brother, the creator of meaning, he named Asmodeus.
Creation of mortality
Ihys and Asmodeus, together with the lesser gods, began to sculpt creation to their liking and slowly introduced the concept of order into reality, creating stars, planets, and the fundamental laws that bind them. Then Ihys forever changed their creation: he created the first mortals, discovering the concept of souls and worship, and the other gods followed his example. Ihys bestowed upon mortals free will, causing the first schism of the gods, between those (like Asmodeus) who viewed mortals as mere tools and those (as Ihys) who desired freedom for their creations.
War in Heaven
Asmodeus, devastated by his brother's actions, showed Ihys the chaos and destruction that he had sowed; but Ihys, believing good came from mortals' free will, opposed Asmodeus. War tore the gods, the first conflict between order and chaos. Ihys defended the right of mortals to choose their own destiny with the empyreal lord Sarenrae at his right hand. Finally, on a distant world, Ihys and Asmodeus met for the last time on the field of battle. Asmodeus offered his hand in brotherhood, and then performed the first act of treachery, murdering Ihys with a great spear.
Asmodeus forged the contract of creation, then accepted by all the gods and rumored to contain a secret that will one day lead to its author's rise to power above his fellow deities. The God-Fiend also played a key role in the defeat and imprisonment of Rovagug. The Rough Beast was sealed away in the Pit of Gormuz, the only key to his prison kept by the Prince of Darkness himself.
For obvious reasons, the Prince of Hell is quite interested in the nation of Cheliax, and is believed to have personally been involved with its rulers twice in the last century. His first interaction was with Queen Abrogail I, with whom he made the infernal bargain that still binds that nation to Hell, an agreement said to have taken place in the Barrowood. His second was with her granddaughter, Queen Abrogail II. He is thought to have recently sent the erinys Lrilatha to serve as her personal advisor and tutor.
According to the Concordance of Rivals, when the End Times come, a desperate Asmodeus will free Rovagug in the hope that he will consume the other apocalypse. Indeed, Rovagug will devour the rest of creation before consuming himself, leaving behind only Groetus to turn off the light of the cosmos and a Survivor to rebuild it anew.
Other gods find the Prince of Darkness the easiest of the evil deities to deal with, though they realize his aid is not to be sought, or accepted, lightly. For his part, Asmodeus regards other faiths with mild amusement, seeing them as weak, temporary distractions to mortal worshipers. Unsurprisingly, he gives more respect to other deities who stress the rule of law, but has an ongoing feud with Irori, who dislikes the Prince of Hell for tearing down and undermining the hard work of others.
First of the Archdevils
Asmodeus is the undisputed ruler of Hell, particularly the lowest level of Nessus. He receives lesser beings in the Synod Eye, where his vast Hellfire Throne is orbited by eight salt thrones and a glass island; it floats over a dark, bottomless pit seething with Hell's malice. His personal sanctuary and throne is the Catafalque, a gigantic hall in Nessus, which no creature other than Asmodeus himself has ever entered. Countless rumours tell of what exactly transpires within the Catafalque, but no conjecture has produced a conclusion.
While he can take any form he wishes—an ability he frequently uses to his advantage—Asmodeus is generally depicted in art as a tall, muscular man with red skin, cloven hooves, and black hair and horns, surrounded by a pale flame nimbus and bearing a contract. Though many believe that this is his true form, some speak of a more fiendish form with constantly bleeding wounds, supposedly received in his battle with Ihys. In art and otherwise, he is rarely seen without the Archstar, an artifact forged before the Exodus from Heaven that bears his pentagram symbol and takes the form of a flaming ruby mace, rod, or staff. His pentagram symbol has become synonymous with this artifact.
The Prince of Law generally does not lower himself to directly interact with mortals, not even his own faithful. A particular powerful person will occasionally grab his attention and receive Asmodeus' support, as long as the mortal's actions coincide with the god's own interests. Failure or incompetence is punished quite severely, generally via burning pain, or writing that appears in blood or fire. Asmodeus often assigns his own infernal servants to assist these mortals, so that they might prod them in useful directions.
Ultimately, however, Asmodeus sees mortals as a flaw upon Creation, sowing chaos and fostering destruction. Many sages believe he seeks to remove that flaw, cleansing creation of all who are born and die, using stratagems spanning millennia. Consequently, the Lord of Hell offers no favor or power out of love; instead, he sees his faithful as useful tools to an end, and little more.
The Prince of Darkness has many servants who rise and fall in popularity according to his whims. His divine servitor race are the hesperians, or accomplice devils, who travel to the Material Plane to help bring important mortals into Hell's grasp. In Hell (and sometimes) beyond, Asmodeus is served by a number of races that share his philosophy, including cerberi, shapechangers of all kinds, and of course, devils of all kinds, including the other archdevils, the infernal dukes, and the malebranche.
Every thirteen years, Asmodeus gathers the other eight archdevils to discuss infernal politics and be told his will.
- This devil serves as the Prince of Darkness' current herald. He appears as a handsome young male possessing blond hair, perceived to be of the same species as that of any creature that encounters him. Additionally, Basileus can freely take a form of supernatural terror; this form differs from one viewer to another, each faced with the greatest fear he or she can imagine.
Church of Asmodeus
The Prince of Hell preaches strict discipline and unwavering devotion from his worshipers; the strong should rule the weak. The Prince of Darkness expects flattery from his followers, appreciating it for what it is, and delights in deals and contracts that secretly favor one party over another. Followers of the Prince of Darkness often include nobles and bureaucrats, especially those participating in the slave trade and in those nations where his worship is openly accepted.
Knights of Asmodeus wear the typical black and red associated with the Dark Prince, often wielding a spiked mace. They seek out order to gain power. Some call themselves paladins to give their behavior a gloss of righteousness.
Beyond humans and other "civilized" races, Asmodeus is commonly worshiped by kobolds. His dogma of subjugation of the weak through trickery appeals to kobolds, who live in a society with a strict hierarchy and use deception to make up for their physical weakness. Asmodeus is also a god of fire, which kobolds use extensively in mining and metalworking. Kobold priests of Asmodeus appeal to their kindred's insecurity and lust for power, making them easily manipulated pawns.
Asmodeus' priests usually dress in clean and orderly red-accented black dress, and often wear horned masks or helmets for ceremonies. Clothing worn is usually expensive, and clearly so, as the faith preaches that wealth attracts wealth. In countries not under Cheliax's yoke, priests are expected to abide by local laws and take sacrifices only from willing victims. It is also common for individual priests to offer the sacrifice of a small animal before preparing spells. Clerics of Asmodeus may prepare lesser geas and a variant of geas, and the Prince of Darkness grants access to infernal healing and greater infernal healing.
The ranks of the Asmodean hierarchy are detailed and heavily tiered, much like the nobility of Cheliax and the rulership of Hell itself. High ranks include cardinal and demicardinal, and other ranks include high priest (a local position). Other ranks have largely not been specified.
The Church of Asmodeus is taking an active role in caring for the orphans left by Isger's Goblinblood Wars. Monasteries have been established to look after these unfortunates, and indoctrinate them in the worship of Asmodeus. The most well known are the Sisters of the Golden Erinyes.
Temples and shrines
Public temples dedicated to Asmodeus contain many diabolical motifs, and can be found throughout Cheliax and its dependencies, often existing alongside and within the nation's government buildings. In other places he is worshiped in secret houses that exist throughout Golarion. Many of his temples were originally dedicated to other gods, and later acquired by his faithful to serve their profane purposes. While in the churches of other deities Asmodeus is most often depicted as an adversary or foil, the Church of Asmodeus always shows him in a position of dominance, with other gods bowing down before him.
Some devoted followers of Asmodeus are granted special powers from a daily ritual whereby they use a knife with a ruby blade to draw blood from another—ideally unwilling—sentient creature, use the blood to draw a pentagram on the ground, kneel within the pentagram, and focus on the glory they intend to bring to Asmodeus.
- The Asmodean Disciplines
- Asmodeus' doctrines and the practices of his faithful can be found within this document. It is accompanied by various additions and supplemental documents.
- The Asmodean Monograph
- This text records a simplified version of the doctrine of the Prince of Darkness, although it relies on many supplemental volumes and appendices.
For additional resources, see the Meta page.
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