Excerpts 12/07/2006

Fiendish Codex II Excerpts
By Robin D. Laws and Robert J. Schwalb

The evil that finds you might not be the one that you expect. Learn more about devils and their insidious ways in Fiendish Codex II, where both Dungeon Masters and players alike can find something useful to either enhance the evil of their devilish villains or fight it. For a sample of what's in store for you in this tome, take a look at Dis, a list of new feats, the hellfire warlock prestige class, a list of new spells, and the assassin devil.

Layer 2: Dis (Chapter 2: The Nine Hells)

Dis, the second layer of Baator, is taken up almost entirely by the city of the same name. Blackened, sizzling, and confusing to the senses, the city of Dis sits unevenly in a vale ringed by jagged mountains.

The Lord of Dis

Dispater, ruler of both the city and the layer, is famous as the most cautious and calculating of the archdukes. But though his supremely unruffled manner would never betray any anxiety, recent upheavals in Baator have left him fearful about his power. The ease with which Asmodeus's daughter Glasya eliminated the ruler of another layer, seemingly with her father's collusion, has the already cautious Dispater double-checking his escape routes and quadrupling his guards. Notorious for never venturing out of his fortress, Dispater has now retreated even farther into the depths of his inner sanctum. He now sees only his most trusted advisors and issues commands through multiple layers of intermediaries.

Once an ally of Mephistopheles and an avowed foe of Baalzebul, Dispater has recently altered his political course in hopes of making himself a friend to all and an enemy to none. To that end, Dispater has politely distanced himself from former allies and made peace overtures to old rivals. None of his counselors dare to point out that making peace with everyone is impossible in Baator.

Dispater's overriding goal, as always, is to protect the realm he already commands. At present, he's pursuing this goal in the following ways.

Slowly Clamping down on Dis's Safe Zones: Portions of Dis have always been relatively hospitable to planar travelers, some of whom have elected to take up residence therein. Now Dispater worries that these half-crazed voluntary occupants of his city are natural sources of betrayal. Afraid to provoke them openly lest they spring some kind of trap on him, he has resolved to squeeze them out slowly, through incremental harassment, taxation, and heightened surveillance.

Reorganizing Operations: Dispater has ordered a top-to-bottom survey of his soul-harvesting operations on the Material Plane. He has been trying some relatively new schemes and has offered to trade territories or even minions with more ambitious archdukes. Dispater is reinforcing old territories that reliably send him souls with minimal effort and rewarding the devils that find ways to increase their yields.

Rooting out Traitors: Convinced that his ranks are packed with potential betrayers, Dispater has half of his devils spying on the other half, and vice versa.

Roleplaying Dispater

The Lord of the Second affects a calm, controlled demeanor at all times. He makes an effort to remain gentlemanly and sophisticated even when committing acts of ferocious cruelty.

Dukes of Dis

Several unique devils, including Lilis (Dispater's consort), Arioch the Iron Avenger, Biffant (Provost of the Iron City), and Titivilus (Nuncio of Dispater), are members of Dispater's court. The armies of Dis are commanded by pit fiends and a few unique devils, including Alocer, Bitru, and Merodach.

Resident Devils

Few kinds of devils are absent from Dis. The varieties most commonly observed by visitors to the city include abishai, lemures, spinagons, and imps.

Other Denizens

A legion of spectres haunts Dis's iron laneways. These damned souls have been excused from the usual cycle of torture, flaying, and diabolical rebirth to suffer a much worse fate, and thereby generate even greater quantities of divine energy for the archduke who owns them.

To become a spectre of Dis, a damned soul must be found in a spiritual condition called anagnorisis. Souls in this state have experienced a revelation about their identity and their situation that tragically, for them, came too late. Just as they arrive on the Shelves of Despond, they sincerely repent of their misdeeds, achieving true understanding of the harm they committed while alive. If they had repented just moments before, these souls might have been granted a second chance and been reborn as hellbred. But now they face eternal doom.

Because these souls can now empathize with their victims and fully understand the consequences of their actions, they are converted to spectral form to lament them until the end of time. The weepings and wailings of these creatures give off huge quantities of evil divine energy, which is collected by a system of metallic rods erected on the towers and bridges of Dis.

The other archdukes jealously covet the occult secret that allows Dispater to utilize spectres in this way. Any underling could gain swift promotion by stealing this closely guarded formula. In the meantime, agents of Dis trade with other archdukes, swapping garden-variety damned souls for a few precious anagnorisis sufferers.

Dis's spectres yearn for the comforting embrace of the virtuous -- a fact that makes them quite dangerous to adventurers. The pathetic creatures advance on living visitors with open arms, pathetically sobbing and flailing out for human contact. However, their energy-draining touch is just as potent as that of their earth-bound counterparts. The spectres leave devils and their minions alone because they know that no comfort can be found in the arms of such creatures.

Important Locations

The signature location of Dis is the city of the same name. All the other places of note on this layer are located within the city's eerie, shifting boundary markers.

The Cityof Dis

In keeping with Baator's lawful nature, the realms within its boundaries sometimes appear impossibly large. This situation is not the case in Dis -- perhaps because the city embodies a paradox. Although it contains potentially unlimited space, those who travel within it always feel hemmed in, trapped, and oppressed. In fact, one can walk its scalding streets forever and never get anywhere.

The approach to Dis presages its spatial peculiarities.The traveler moves on a punishing slant from a ring of spiny mountains. A road of broken skulls winds toward the black walls of the distant city, and one can reach it only by following this macabre track. Eventually, the skulls transform into spurs of hot iron.

No matter how long it takes to reach Dis, the entrance always comes as a sudden break in reality. The walls loom larger and larger, then suddenly the traveler has moved past them and is surrounded by ominously looming structures amid mazelike streets. No two maps of Dis are the same because its configuration invariably changes by the time the cartographer finishes his sketch.

Building crews of least devils sweat and toil, tearing down old structures and erecting new ones with impressive speed. However, the improvements they make are never discernible, because the cityscape alters faster than any laborers could ever arrange. Supposedly, both the mundane and the magical alterations reflect the inner workings of Dispater's mind. His recent paranoia can be seen in the increasingly cramped, warrenlike nature of the city's new streets. Scrying devices have recently become omnipresent, so the walls of Dis have ears. Iron statues of Dispater follow passersby with red, paranoid eyes.

The Iron Tower

The changes in the rest of the city seem gradual next to those experienced by Dispater's fortress, which is located in the very center of Dis.This structure is always black, ugly, and surrounded by a wreath of dark smoke, but all its other physical features are subject to rapid change. The Iron Tower might be a squat dome one minute and a stabbing fist of iron the next. Regardless of its form, it remains visible from every point in the city except the Garden of Delights, and it always seems to be one block away. Baatezu instinctively understand how to overcome this spatial oddity and approach the structure, but other creatures trying to reach the fortress without the guidance of devils simply wander forever, remaining tantalizingly close to their goal without ever reaching it.

The interior of the tower looks like rest of the city, except that only Dispater and his servitors live there. His throne room lies in a vast, square vault, which always seems to be one corridor away to those who do not know the secret of moving directly into it. In fact, only Dispater's most trusted chancellors know how to access his throne room unbidden. Rumor holds that a creature entering this inner sanctum finds itself inside an even larger city, even farther from Dispater than before, though the truth of such claims is unknown.

The Garden of Delights

Behind sandstone walls lies the Garden of Delights, an oasis of pleasure inside the inhospitable city of Dis. To gain entrance, a visitor need only knock on its delicately filigreed wooden doors. Comely servants beckon the weary travelers inside and quickly usher them to the side of a beautiful azure pool. Cool beverages are placed in their hands, as innocent or intoxicating as the visitor specifies. Then the newcomers lean back on silken pillows to watch lovely faeries disport on the water's surface. Sweetmeats and fruits appear on trays of gleaming silver, and palm fronds bend obligingly down to fan the visitors' brows. Colorfully attired musicians serenade all present with soothing and sensuous melodies.

When asked how long visitors can remain here, the lovely and charming wait staff responds with naïve surprise. No one, once admitted to the Garden of Delights, is ever required to leave.

But in fact, the garden is a complex illusion created by a staff of efreeti puppet-masters. Once managed by a single bound efreeti, it proved so successful as a collector of souls that an entire group of the deception-loving fire creatures are now handsomely rewarded to maintain it.

The garden is designed to corrupt souls -- or, failing that, to simply kill enemies of evil. Imps in human form mingle among the guests attempting to determine each visitor's spiritual susceptibility. Then they set to work on those they deem corruptible, urging them into corrupt or obeisant acts. The incorruptible are left alone to die of thirst or starvation in a place where all the food and drink are illusory. (See Starvation and Thirst, DMG 304.)

The garden's complex series of interwoven illusions includes figments, glamers, patterns, and shadows. Any character who carefully studies the environment for 1 minute without interruption can attempt a DC 25 Will save to detect its unreality. However, imps and illusory servants attempt to distract any visitors who appear to be concentrating too intently on their surroundings.

Even characters aware of the garden's falseness often find it too intoxicatingly pleasant to leave. Voluntarily exiting the garden requires a successful DC 30 Will save. Only one such save attempt can be made per day, but a +4 bonus applies if the character knows that the garden is illusory. A character can, however, persuade another to leave by making a Diplomacy check opposed by the subject's Will save.

Spending undue time in the garden saps one's sense of self and motivation. For each day after the first spent there, a character takes a cumulative -1 penalty on her Will saves. When a character leaves the garden, this penalty vanishes.

Lawful evil beings can enter the garden only to further a mission. Dispater firmly prohibits recreational visits by his minions, which ought to be busy serving him.


The fearsome prison known as Mentiri is hidden deep in the heart of Dis, at the terminus of a confusing labyrinth. Run by bone devils and staffed by barbazu and spinagons, it serves a dual purpose.

One wing, the Bastille of Flesh, houses mortals captured in Baator.Here virtuous paladins languish together with heartless mercenaries and chaotic evil intruders. Mentiri's jailers subject all their prisoners to hideous deprivations so that they must compete with one another to survive. Many prisoners, stripped of all decency and hope, are quickly corrupted. They either stoop to acts of evil, or begin shamelessly toadying to the guards. Either option eventually turns them to lawful evil alignment. Once prisoners become lawful evil and thereby grant their souls to Dispater, they are taken out and executed. Moments later, they reappear as soul shells on the Shelves of Despond.

Mentiri's other wing, the Bastille of Souls, warehouses the soul shells of individuals who were not lawful evil when they died but somehow ended up in Baator anyway. Some were captured on raiding parties to other planes; others are the souls of mortals slain in Baator and somehow trapped there. Because they do not rightfully belong to him, Dispater can't turn them into lemures or wring divine energy from them, but he can and does hold them for ransom or exchange. Regardless of the reasons for their presence, mortals whose souls are trapped in Baator cannot be raised or resurrected.

Harvester devils approach the still-living comrades and families of the individuals slain in Baator and try to convince them to sign Faustian pacts in exchange for their loved ones' release. Released souls return to their destination planes as determined by alignment. Souls captured in raids are returned to their rightful planes in trade for misdirected lawful evil souls, or for goods, information, or services. Such negotiations are conducted by amnizus in Dispater's employ.

Divine Realms

The infinitely recursive space of Dis makes it Baator's most popular location for nascent or waning lawful evil deities who need realms of their own.

God Street

On a winding lane on the city's bleak industrial outskirts lies God Street, home to a panoply of nascent, would-be, and has-been lawful evil deities. Throughout the Material Plane, mortals of all stripes are continually finding new entities to worship. Some are heroes or ancestors around whom great myths have sprung up; others are the imaginary objects of faux faiths that nonetheless attract sincere worship.

Whenever a certain critical mass of lawful evil devotional energy attaches itself to one of these entities, a new deity is created. If the object of worship is a previously living creature, its soul is retrieved from its prison or devil form and infused into a new divine body. If it is a fictional being, it simply coalesces into ineffable life. Either way, the new deity appears on God Street, usually in a small iron plaza bounded with faceless statues called the Borning Ring. Blazing with divine knowledge, the new deity quickly sets out to rip holes in the malleable fabric of Dis's reality, constructing temples, shrines, fortresses, and temples to its new magnificence.

Until a lawful evil deity has achieved the eminence of a Set or Sekolah by gaining worshipers on dozens of worlds, it is likely to while away its time here, scheming for future greatness. Thus, no matter how mighty a given deity might be on a single world, it likely resides somewhere on God Street. The unique lawful evil deities of your campaign setting probably fall into this category.

Each deity's realm appears on the outside as a single structure of immense size. Uncountable numbers of these improbably large and outlandish temples abut one another down God Street's seemingly infinite length. Some resemble giant statues; others appear as dark, titanic cathedrals. A few are more exotic still, appearing as vortices of gnawing light or hideous, devouring faces.

On the inside, a God Street realm might manifest as the interior of a building, or it can seem like a tiny, bounded universe unto itself. Lesser deities are rarely able to create the illusion of infinite space, so walls, seams, and boundary markers are always visible somewhere.

From any vantage point, God Street seems to stretch to infinity to both the right and the left, and no streets cross it. Thus, no one can find God Street by seeking it out. Although its deities can will worshipers directly into their miniature realms, only divine casters can successfully blunder onto this divine laneway. A character seeking God Street must attempt a DC 20 divine caster level check (with a -5 penalty if the caster is good or chaotic). Success places the character on God Street. Any successful seeker who is looking for a particular deity arrives at that godling's doorstep; others appear in what seems to be the middle of the street, in front of a random deity's temple.

Up-and-coming denizens of God Street include Khandovar the Punisher (deity of torture), Z'zelth of the Eighth Order (deity of false knowledge), and Uin the Unseeing (deity of blind obedience).

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