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Devils

Of all the malign creatures in the world, Devils are perhaps the most dangerous. They bring strength and magical aptitude to the field in spades, as Demons do, but it is underpinned by a structured society, that coordinates them and makes them altogether more dangerous.
Extract from Borja Paladell's Libro Planorum.   One of the two dominant species on the Lower Plane of Ulskandar, Devils live in a deeply hierarchical system where individuals are constantly attempting to ingratiate themselves with their more powerful superiors, so that they too can have more power bestowed upon themselves. This society allows them to deploy themselves with ruthless efficiency, and Devils of all levels are constantly plotting and scheming against one another, and the inhabitants of the other Planes.

Basic Information

Anatomy & Morphology

The anatomy of Devils varies greatly between the different sub-species, and although many of them will be roughly humanoid in form, this is not a hard and fast rule. Devils will have a variety of additional features to their physique including horns, talons, spikes, additional limbs, wings, tails, scaly skin etc., and the range of skin and flesh tones that Devils have can vary widely from individual to individual, and can cover all colours in the spectrum. The only consistent rule when it comes to defining a Devil’s physique is that the more powerful a Devil is, the larger it will tend to be. The most powerful of Devils are truly gigantic in proportions, whereas the weakest can be no bigger than a cat or small dog.   All Devils rely on magic, that they absorb from their surrounding environment to survive, as this magic is used by them to stabilise and maintain their, often bizarre and complex bodies. This means that they can survive with no issues whatsoever in the magic rich environment of the Lower Plane, but when it comes to the Material Plane, they can struggle to survive for long without being forced back into the Lower Plane, or finding a way to sustain themselves. Lesser Devils will always require less magical energy to sustain their physical forms, than greater Devils.

Genetics and Reproduction

Devils do not reproduce as such, but are instead created. Greater Devils create lesser Devils through a binding of magical force from the Lower Plane, mundane materials, often clay, soil or rock from the Lower Plane, and the spiritual essence, or soul of either a former Devil or Demon, or from a creature from the other Planes of existence. The greater the Devil that is being created, the more resources that are needed in the creation process. Lesser Devils can work together to create Devils of the same type and power as they are, though they will rarely do this unless they have been specifically instructed to do so by a greater Devil. The original Devils are thought to have been made using the same sort of process, except that they were created by a corrupt deity, that wished to form an army of subservient, powerful creatures to use for their own ends.   It is also possible for Devils to come into being through the corruption of other species. On the whole, it tends to be species from the Material Plane that are corrupted in this way and it generally comes about either through individuals willingly surrendering themselves to be transformed, through a misguided sense that it will give them powers they can use for their own ends, or because they have reneged on a deal they made with a Devil, and have made their own souls forfeit through non-payment or non-delivery.

Growth Rate & Stages

Unlike other creatures, Devils do not grow, mature or alter physically or mentally once they have been created. Instead, Devils gain power and advance into greater Devils by being ‘promoted’ by a Devil of a greater power than themselves. These promotions involve an incredibly painful process of transmutation, which will leave the individual in question very physically different from what they were before, and with enhanced powers and abilities. The only thing that stays consistent when a Devil is transmuted is that their mind and personality remain intact and the same, and they retain all of their memories. This means that lesser Devils will always attempt to ingratiate themselves with their more powerful kin, in the hope that they will be transmuted into a greater being themselves. However, just as a greater Devil can promote an individual, they can also demote them and transmute underlings that have disappointed or betrayed them into even lesser Devils, a process said to be even more painful that being ‘promoted’.   Devils do not have a specifically think about themselves in terms of a set hierarchy. Instead they can intrinsically sense when they are in the presence of a more or less powerful Devil, and will treat them accordingly. However, the scholar Borja Paladell has formulated, over many years of painstaking and dangerous work, a tiered system of Devils, based on their interactions with one another, and verbal testimonies from Devils themselves.   Tier 1: The most powerful of Devilish beings belong to Tier 1 of Paladell’s categories. These creatures are so powerful that they should be thought of as semi-divine in their own right, and they are thought to represent the Devils that were first created by the corrupt deity eons ago. There are very few Tier 1 Devils in existence, and few beings, including Devils, have actually seen them face to face. All of Paladell’s information on Tier 1 Devils, for example, has come from the testimony of their lesser servants. The largest and strongest Devilish Families on the Lower Plane are led by a Tier 1 Devil, who presides over a complex web of intrigue and violence that they orchestrate and steer through their lesser minions.   Tier 2: More common that Tier1 Devils, Tier 2 Devils are creatures that are very powerful in their own right, are Tier 2 Devils. These creatures frequently act as deputies to Tier 1 Devils, and even lead some of the lesser Devilish families in the Lower Plane. These Devils are much more likely to lead from the front in their own efforts and the efforts of their masters, and are more than capable of carving a path of destruction through anything or anyone that gets in their way. Because so few Tier 2 Devils are ever promoted to Tier 1, these creatures are perhaps the most bitter and cruel of all Devilish kind, as they have conceivably reached as high as they can in the hierarchy, without doing something truly extraordinary and destructive.   Tier 3: Acting as a cadre of diplomats, bureaucrats and strategists, Tier 3 Devils provide a huge base of more sophisticated support to their masters higher up, and all of them have lofty ambitions of being transformed into Tier 2 creatures themselves as a reward for their services. Tier 3 Devils are characterised as being the most cunning creatures in the Devilish hierarchy, as they have already been able to work their way up so far, and need to play their cards incredibly carefully and strategically to continue their upward ascent. Tier 3 Devils are actually the Devils most commonly encountered by the residents of the Material Plane, as they are much more likely to try and strike deals with creatures from outside the Lower Plane, so that they can attempt to use them to gain leverage over their peers.   Tier 4: Out of all Devilish kind, Tier 4 Devils are the ones that are viewed the most as being the foot soldiers of their ‘Families’. They make up the rank and file of Devilish armies and are a match for any professional soldier from the other Planes on their own, and are truly terrifying when viewed in battle formation. Given that their role in Devilish society is rather restricted, they will often attempt feats of ridiculous bravery, though many view it as stupidity, in battle, in order to impress their superiors, and attempt to be promoted to a higher tier. In reality, it tends to be the most tactically minded of Tier 4 Devils that are actually promoted onwards in the hierarchy.   Tier 5: The weakest of all, Tier 5 Devils are physically weak, have few notable or powerful abilities, if any, and are only really capable of producing minor illusions. However, Tier 5 Devils require the least amount of magical energy to sustain themselves, meaning that they can survive in less magically rich environments, such as the Material Plane far longer (up to years at a time) than their more powerful brethren. This means that Tier 5 Devils are frequently used as scouts, messengers and spies by greater Devilish beings.

Additional Information

Social Structure

Because Devils are created by other, greater Devils, their society is very hierarchical, and can most easily be visualised as being a chain of creatures leading from the Greatest Devil (generally a Tier 1 or 2 Devil) right at the top of the chain, right the way down to the lowliest of lesser Devils at the bottom, all of whom are linked through the fact that they have been created by the creatures above them. These ‘chains’ are referred to as ‘Families’ by Devils themselves, with the most powerful Devil at its head being known as the ‘Father’ or ‘Mother’ of the ‘Family’, which is universally named after the head figure themselves. The ‘Father’ or ‘Mother’ presides over their ‘Children’, who refer to one another as ‘Brothers’ and ‘Sisters’, when communicating with Devils on their own level, or ‘Greater Brother’, or ‘Greater Sister’, when referring to Devils above them, and ‘Lesser Brother’ or ‘Lesser Sister’ when referring to Devils beneath them. Devil Families act on the Lower Plane as nations would do on the Material Plane, and Family Fathers and Mothers demand great respect and loyalty from their Children below them. Nevertheless, Devils can, and frequently do coerce lesser Devils than themselves to breaking away and creating new Families under their leadership, often promising to transmute and promote them as a reward.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Devils occur naturally on the Lower Plane of Ulskandar, and are able to survive and thrive there, thanks to the magically rich environment that naturally occurs there. Within the different areas and realms of the Lower Plane, Devils are not restricted to where they can theoretically survive due to the environment, but are rather restricted in where they can be found by the areas of the Lower Plane that have been claimed by Demons. Having said that, given that Devils claim just as large an area of the Lower Plane as Demons, they are quite widespread in their potential range and area of settlement.   It is rare to find Devils on the Material Plane in Ulskandar. Like Demons, they need magic rich environments to survive, something that is available on the Lower Plane and the Upper Plane of Ulskandar, but is in much shorter supply on the Material Plane. This means that to survive on the Material Plane, Devils need to be near sources of magic, be that crafted items, or materials that naturally draw magical energy to them, such as certain gemstones, or they need to have in their possession, or working for them an individual from the Material Plane who is magically sensitive, and who can draw down magic to sustain the Devil, or they need to be magically bound within an object, or to a specific place, which is always the least favourable option for a Devil.   Theoretically, Devils could survive on the Upper Plane of Ulskandar, as it is just as magically rich as the Lower Plane, however, it is very rare to find a Devil in the Upper Plane, as Celestials cannot abide them.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Devils have a range of different additional perceptions and abilities that they can deploy for their own ends, but these will tend to vary between the different subspecies, with more powerful Devils having more gifts at their disposal. All Devils are magically sensitive, though the more powerful Devils are able to control and cast more powerful magic, whilst lesser Devils may be limited to only being able to produce minor illusions. Different sub-species of Devils will also have different mundane abilities, depending on their anatomies, but this will vary.

Civilization and Culture

Average Technological Level

In terms of technology, Devils tend to rely on much less technology and material aids than other sapient species do. This is because they are all magically sensitive in one way or another, and can draw on huge reserves of magical power in their home Plane, and to a slightly lesser extent on the Material Plane. Many Devils will shun forms of technology that other races, particularly those on the Material Plane would use, and rely on preferring their own natural arcane gifts and their own, often wicked, physical weapons and proficiencies, with many of them even shunning clothes as they have no call for them. Some Devils, however, do utilise, almost exclusively military technology, both to arm and cloth themselves for additional protection and increased impact in battle.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

There are two customary viewpoints that all Devils hold, and that provides a moral structure for the way that their society is shaped, and the way that they view one another:   Great respect for their superiors- Because Devils cannot progress up the tiers of power without being promoted by a superior being, they are very respectful and subservient to their masters, to their face at least. Devils will always try to follow the instructions of their superiors to the best of their abilities, and many of them will often attempt to go above and beyond what is required of them, in an attempt to gain favour and stand out from their peers. However, this does mean that a large amount of internal politicking takes place amongst Devilish peers, as they all attempt to outmanoeuvre one another, which often ends up unintentionally disrupting the plans of their superiors. What this does not mean is that they are intrinsically bound to their superiors. All Devils are intelligent beings, and they are always looking for an opportunity to get themselves ahead in the game. The complex web of relationships between the Devilish powers in the Lower Plane are built on intrigue, with Families constantly trying to sway lesser Devils towards their side in exchange for favour and promotion.   Despise those below them- At the same time that they show great respect for their superiors, Devils despise those that are beneath them, and view them as weak and pathetic. This does not mean that greater Devils find those beneath them to be useless, on the contrary, they are fully aware of how lesser Devils can be exploited. Instead the grounds for this despise appears to be that Devils do not like to be reminded of the weak state that they came from when they look at lesser Devils, and consequently treat them with disdain.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

On the Lower Plane, Devils have a strange, fluid relationship with their main competitors, Demons. On the one hand, Devils and Demons are direct competitors both for land and resources on the Lower Plane, and will frequently attempt to disrupt one another’s efforts to gain more influence on the Material Plane. On the other hand, they do occasionally come together to work for a common goal, which is almost always aimed at trying to destabilise the Upper Plane in some manner.   Devils and Demons are prepared to work together to attack the Upper Plane, not only because it represents a magically rich area that they could theoretically live in, but also because they despise Celestials. Unlike Demons, whose chaotic nature means that they predominantly quite anarchical anyway, Devils’ hatred of Celestials stems more directly from attempting to be recognised by Celestials as an equally powerful, lawful race. Celestials view Devils and Devilish society as being a mockery of genuine civilisation, which has resulted in the two species being in a constant state of war.   Having spent some time studying Devils and linked species, Borja Paladell has come up with two terms to describe Devils’ relationships with Demons and Celestials. She characterises the Devil-Demon relationship as being one between two ‘sibling species’, they are distinctly different from one another, but also intrinsically similar, whilst she characterises the Celestial-Devil relationship as ‘antithesis species’, meaning that the two are direct opposites of one another.   On the Material Plane, more long-lived sapient species will tend to treat Devils with great suspicion, and are much less likely to engage with Devils that have managed to find their way onto the Material Plane. There are some exceptions to this, however, as exemplified by Shadow Elves, who appear to be quite happy to deal with Devils and their ilk, and are thought by true Elves to have been corrupted by Devils into the malicious creatures that they have become in the first place. Shorter lived species, Humans in particular are incredibly susceptible to being conned and corrupted by Devils, who are well versed at encouraging such species into making pacts with them, to either help them achieve the greatness they want to see in their shorter lives, or to even extend them well beyond their mortal years. It was exactly this line of persuasion that convinced a group of tribal elders, far back in the Nomadic Era to commit not only themselves, but their tribe as a whole to a deal that would see them become far more powerful than their neighbouring tribes, if only they would pay the Devilish creature that had approached them by sacrificing their enemies to them. The upshot was that when the tribe as a whole refused to honour the agreement made by their elders, which they thought was wholly despicable, the Devil who had brokered the deal, swept in, taking the elders themselves and transmuting them into lesser Devils themselves, carrying them back to the Lower Plane to a life of eternal servitude. As for the tribe, however, the Devil was not able to claim them fully as its prize from the broken deal in the same way as the tribal elders, and it instead decided to warp them into something that resembled Devil kind, but was also reminiscent of the Humans they had once been. Thus were the first Tieflings created, and have existed on Ulskandar’s Material Plane ever since.

Lifespan
If their physical bodies remain in tact - practically immortal.
Average Height
The smallest Devils can be less that 2ft/0.6m tall, whilst the largest can be well over 30ft/9m.

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Cover image: by Chris Pyrah

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