Realm of the Demon Plane
In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, Baator, also known as the Nine Hells of Baator or the Nine Hells, is a lawful evil-aligned plane of existence. It is one of a number of alignment-based Outer Planes that form part of the standard Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) cosmology, used in the Planescape, Greyhawk and some editions of the Forgotten Realms campaign settings. It also exists as one of a number of faith-based Outer Planes that form part of the separate 3rd-Edition Forgotten Realms cosmology, used in the setting of the same name. Baator is stylised as a plane of sinister evil and cruelty. The different types of devils that dwell here obey a strict hierarchical caste-like social structure. Each continually plots to advance their position through treachery and deception. Unlike the demons of the Abyss, the devils are highly organized, with a logical and calculating nature. The plane itself is composed of nine different layers, each of which models a differing but no less inhospitable and dreadful environment, including barren plains of ash and rock to frozen wastes of endless ice.
The first layer, Avernus, is a vast charred wasteland of rubble over which the iron towers of the Dukes of Hell stand. Legions of devils march across the plains in continual readiness for the next battle of the Blood War. A red light suffuses the sky and huge fireballs fly across the layer, randomly exploding wherever they hit. Beneath the blood-red sky balls of fire burst unpredictably. They are said to be embodiments of the rage of the imprisoned Lord of the First, Zariel. The River Styx flows through this layer, as does the appropriately named River of Blood. From the gate in Ribcage the nearest site is the ruined city of Darkspine, where refugees desperately try to avoid the baatezu thought police while trying to do enough good to shift their town back to the Outlands. The Bronze Citadel is a huge fortress city, housing massive numbers of devil troops and war machines. It is constantly being added to in the form of new fortifications against attacks. Lord Bel, formerly a powerful pit fiend before his ascension to noble status, is the current ruler of Avernus, having betrayed the former lord, Zariel, to obtain the position. He resides in a personal fortress at the center of the Bronze Citadel. The largest series of astral conduits on Baator lead to the Maggot Pit, a sea of squirming infernal larvae, beyond which the Dragonspawn Pits of Azharul sprawl in a cluster of tall hills and mountains. Tiamat, the five-headed deity of evil dragons, stands watch over the way to the next layer with her draconic and abishai servitors. Nearby exists the Pillar of Skulls, a hideous landmark of trophy-skulls of those killed in the Blood War that reaches a height of more than a mile close to the entrance to the second layer. A number of godly realms exist on Avernus, including Draukari, realm of kobold deity Kurtulmak, goblin deity Bargrivyek’s deceptively titled realm of The Peacable Lands, and Abthalom, the Nether Reaches, realm of dragon-queen goddess Takhisis. Vast legions of abishai serve the Queen of Darkness, milling through the Rallying Grounds and near the Temple of Takhisis and the Tower of High Sorcery. The towns in Draukari, hidden in the hills, mountains, and deep forests of the realm, are Frekstavik, Nibellin, and Snjarll. Kurtulmak’s realm is often raided by goblins serving Bargrivyek. A number of unique devils cast from the hierarchy of the Hells also dwell on Avernus. Known as the “rabble of devilkin,” these exiles number roughly 50 former consorts, dukes, vassals, and other unique devils who lost favor with their masters. To prevent them from being summoned, they have been stripped of their names. The Blood War No one in the outer planes seems to have any real notion of what started the Blood War. The yugoloths like to entertain the notion that the War is their own personal experiment into the nature of evil, one which they created and will ultimately end on their own terms. Of course the other fiends have their own notions about the war, colored by their particular alignments and racial propaganda. Some demons and devils seem to believe that their respective races could actually gain control over the other. However, the most powerful archdukes of Hell and the most cunning princes of the Abyss pay the Blood War little concern, and if entities as ancient and formidable as they seem unconcerned, then the cause is most likely a fruitless one[original research?]. Many lesser fiends actually embrace the War, for it staves away the cosmic boredom of being ageless. A few races survive on the carnage the Blood War produces; the armanites, centaur-like tanar’ri, must constantly battle with other creatures, for otherwise they will turn on one another; the molydei are another race of demons who prowl the Abyss, searching for deserters or rogue demons, whom they press-gang into fighting. Certain creatures are bred by other fiends exclusively for the Blood War, including the Nessian war hounds and the milvorn. Even the yugoloths are given purpose by the Blood War; forever shifting from one side to the other, they as a race gain much of their wealth and power from the spoils of war and the high price of their services, though some (including the yugoloths themselves) believe this is simply a facade over older and darker motivations[original research?]. The fiendish codex Hordes of the Abyss dictates that the Blood War is a simple offshoot of the primordial wars between law and chaos (however; one then wonders why the lawful good archons and chaotic good eladrins; and the lawful neutral formians/modrons and chaotic neutral slaadi do not fight with each other). The demons and devils (in keeping with their sadistic and violent natures) simply would not cease their fight, even after the rest of the multiverse had grown more tolerant. However, the fiendish codex Tyrants of the Nine Hells claims a different perspective on the origins of the Blood war. The mythologies in the codex claim that the seeds of the Blood War lay in the cradle of the cosmos itself; “In the beginning- and even before- chaos was all that existed. Out of it came demons- the living manifestations of chaos…”. It claims that the chaos was intolerable to the universe, and thus Law arose to fight it. Initially, the primordial lords of order battled the demons themselves, however after inventing numbers and time, they came to understand the demons were infinite in number. Knowing this, they grew weary of endless conflict, and yearned to build worlds and foster races. Thus, they created winged warriors dubbed (in later terms) ‘angels’ to fight the demons for them. The bravest, toughest and fiercest angels were headed by one named ‘Asmodeus’. They were the champions of combat and killed far more demons than even their masters. However, as the eons wore on, to better combat the demons Asmodeus and his angels took on some of the fierce and terrible traits of the Demons. Soon they were ugly, monstrous, barbed, and armoured beings of combat, and the other angels and gods shunned them. Rightly pointing out that they were merely fulfilling their duties, indeed superbly, legally Asmodeus and his kindred could not be banished. In a series of events that eventually led to the pact primeval, Asmodeus and his angels, now dubbed ‘Devils’, were either granted (or exiled to, depending on perspective) a realm of their own to take the unpleasant combat of what was essentially the blood war away from the realms of pure Law which held no concept of Good or Evil. This realm was Baator, the nine hells, and thus formed the ‘Blood War’. However, as detailed as the devils’ mythology of the origin of the Blood War happens to be, it stands at odds with other sources, and especially at odds with sources older than their own race. In true baatorian fashion, their mythology is a Byzantine masterpiece of historical revisionism and state-mandated “truth”, which might have little factual basis from an objective viewpoint, and the second Fiendish Codex openly admits to this, though to the devils themselves, the difference might be meaningless. The devils’ mythology conveniently omits that the plane of Baator was not an empty plane when they arrived there, and in fact they conquered its original inhabitants, the Ancient Baatorians. Additionally, while their mythology holds that Law arose to battle the primordial, pre-existent forces of Chaos, their original enemies from the Abyss, the obyriths, were not actually native to that plane, but were the creations of an even older race of original creator fiends, unaligned with either Law or Chaos, whose presence is curiously absent from the devils’ historical writings.
Despite millennia after millennia of constant strife, no side has yet been able to gain a definitive, permanent advantage over the other. Despite their vast differences, the tanar’ri and the baatezu are surprisingly balanced combatants on the fields of the Blood War. The chaotic denizens of the Abyss, while far more numerous than the devils, are, true to their alignment, constantly warring amongst themselves. They can contest the might of the Nine Hells only through sheer individual power, and their seemingly limitless, if unorganized and uncoordinated supply of warriors. The baatezu, on the other hand, deploy smaller numbers onto the field, but their warriors are regimented, well-trained and well-disciplined, all the while making incredible use of their generals’ ruthless strategies. This violent balance could keep the Blood War fueled for an indefinite period of time One thing, however, is certain: were one side able to eliminate all opposition, and thus gain control over the entirety of the Lower Planes, the multiverse as a whole would be in great danger. With no enemies left in the Lower Planes, the fiendish rulers could then turn their attentions towards other worlds and planes, and it is likely that no force could hope to stop them. Even the celestial beings of the Upper Planes, formidable as they are, could face destruction at the hands of the tanar’ri or the baatezu, weighed down as their alignments demand by the needs of good and justice—the fiends, having no such compunctions or scruples, could easily use the celestials’ morality against them. In the past, agents of the heavenly races have even planted powerful weapons or artifacts among the ranks of the demons or the devils. This appears to be a reliable indicator that even the beings of the Upper Planes do not want the war to end There is a prophecy that says that the Blood War will end when the Crawling City, a city on the plane of Gehenna that is home to millions of Yugoloths, directly enters the Blood War. End?
4th Edition’s Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide states that Asmodeus killed the power Azuth and consumed his divine essence. He then proceeded to use this power to push the Abyss to the bottom of the Elemental Chaos, thus ending the Blood War with the victory of the Devils (Law). Some question this, though, saying that Asmodeus didn’t win the war, but rather ran from it, since the Demons weren’t destroyed or enslaved, just “pushed out of the way”. Regardless, this explanation only applies to the Forgotten Realms setting; the default 4th edition books are vague as to the Blood War’s status, and Azuth was never present. ranking officers
The Dark Eight are a coven of pit fiend generals who reside on the Ninth Layer of Hell, Nessus. They plot and strategize the movements of Hell’s armies. Bel, Lord of the First Layer, was once a mighty leader on the battlefields of the War, and now uses his influence with the Dark Eight to retain control of Avernus. Baltazo, a grotesque minor demon lord, was also a mighty general in the Blood War, but has since retired to the Plane of Infinite Portals, while the female demon lord J’zzalshrak, called The Errant General, has Blood War campaigns as her portfolio. Interestingly, the greatest powers of the Nine Hells and the Abyss do not take an active role in the Blood War. The sole exception from Baator is Bel, Lord of Avernus. The mighty pit fiend has strong ties to the Dark Eight, the pit fiend generals who oversee all of Hell’s involvement in the War; this relationship keeps the relatively weak Bel safe from the other archdukes. The mightiest demon princes, such as Orcus, Graz’zt, and Demogorgon, constantly war with each other within the Abyss, and have little concern for the Nine Hells. Asmodeus himself builds a mighty force of devils within his fortress of Malsheem in wait of a cataclysmic battle he claims will dwarf the Blood War.