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Greyhawk creature
A spined devil, ice devil, lemure, and imp, as depicted in the 3.5 Monster Manual (2003).
Alignment Lawful evil
Type Outsider
Subtype Lawful, Evil (sometimes baatezu)
First appearance Monster Manual (1977)

Devils are a conniving race of fiends, ancient foes of the demons, all that is chaotic, and all that is good. They are lawful evil by nature, and natives of the Nine Hells, also known as Baator. Devils are ruled by the Dark Eight, the Dukes of Hell, and the Lords of the Nine Hells. Their ultimate master is Asmodeus, Overlord of the Nine Hells.

Types of devils

Ancient baatorians

Before Asmodeus led his followers to the Nine Hells, there already existed an even older race inhabiting the plane. It is wrong even to call them "creatures," because they actually the essences of powers and beliefs from an unimaginably ancient age. They still exist scattered about the plane, their presence virtually unknown and unknowable. Occasionally they take on physical form in Maladomini, drawn by some mysterious reason to the catacombs beneath the layer's ruined cities. There, they are virtually unkillable monstrosities that absorb all light.

The ancient baatorians evolved from the nupperibos, fleshy, bloated fiends who were both blind and deaf. The nupperibos evolved from the larvae that came to the plane long before there were any mortal spirits. Legends say the first larvae were created by the yugoloths, who cast off their lawful and chaotic taint in the form of writhing, spiritual worms that became the first inhabitants of the Nine Hells and the Abyss. Tales From the Infinite Staircase features an "advanced nupperibo" that has been kept captive for centuries until it evolved tentacles and the ability to vocalize and see: the next stage in their evolution to a mature ancient Baatorian.

When Asmodeus and his followers—who would become known as the baatezu—came to the plane, it is said (in Faces of Evil) that most of the ancients had already vanished or hidden themselves away, but Elder Evils tells us that their king and father, Zargon, still ruled a kingdom of running slime and rampant evil. Determined to have the plane for their own, the invaders butchered or enslaved those ancient baatorians who remained. Asmodeus battled Zargon, but found him resistant to most of his attacks; Asmodeus could destroy his flesh, but he would always regrow from his indestructible horn. Finally, Asmodeus cast the horn of Zargon to the Prime Material Plane, where it was buried deep beneath the earth.

However, the larvae still evolved naturally into nupperibos, which continued to evolve into mature ancient baatorians. To put a stop to this, the baatezu began the ritual of routinely transforming larvae and nupperibos into lemures, the beginning stage of their own race, or into imps. Those nupperibos who are not transformed are sold to the yugoloths or slaughtered. This continues to this day. Powerful devils who fail their masters are transformed into nupperibo form for a period of humiliation until they believe the wretches might be productive again.

The dogai, or assassin devils, existed as shadows of malignant will before the baatezu came. Rather than figure out how to slay the formless creatures, Asmodeus ordered them melted down in a pit of fire and given new forms, tasked with slaying mortals who defy the devils' will. They are now considered a caste of baatezu, but their origins were earlier.


The baatezu are the dominant race of the Nine Hells in the modern era. For the most part they are humanoid and, in modern times, created from mortal souls, though it is said the oldest of them were angelic beings who served the powers of Law in the Age before Ages long before mortals existed, in the war against the obyrith demons.

The baatezu are (as they see themselves) cold and calculating beings who spend most of their time either fighting in the Blood War, tempting mortals into Faustian bargains, or conspiring for their own advancement, activities that aren't mutually exclusive. They embody the worst qualities of all politicians, and if they could be summed up in one word it would be Ambition. They seek to turn the entire multiverse into a boot stomping on every face, forever.

Female, wasp-like devils that patrol infernal skies.
Short, stocky winged guardians of the gates of the Nine Hells.
Small, hateful devils that work together as a swarm to bring down larger foes.
Barbazu ("Bearded Devil")
Ferocious warrior that frenzies with a saw-toothed glaive.
Brachina ("Pleasure Devil")
Devilish counterpart of the demonic succubus. They are created from erinyes.
Bueroza ("Steel Devil")
Armored devils covered in dust and cobwebs.
Cornugon ("Horned Devil")
Gargoylelike fiend armed with a spiked chain.
Dogai ("Assassin Devil")
Faceless assassins.
A fallen angel that delivers death from her fiery bow.
Excruciarch ("Pain Devil")
Falxugon ("Harvester Devil")
Gelugon ("Ice Devil")
Insectile horror promising a cold death.
Dinosaurlike guardians with massive maw and a wicked stinger.
Hamatula ("Barbed Devil")
Elite infernal warrior with impaling spikes.
Insectoid diabolical torturer.
Mindless, tormented creature that attacks in mobs. Cannon fodder in Blood War.
Delight in learning the personal truenames of their foes, then tormenting them or turning them into slaves.
Hulking, horned warriors, enforcers, punishers, and mounts.
Merregon ("Legion Devil")
Individually weak, these red-skinned devils work very effectively as a team.
Nightmare-riding elite cavalry.
Foot soldiers of Hell's armies specializing in killing demons.
Osyluth ("Bone Devil")
A tall, emaciated being with dried skin stretched so tight as to outline and emphasize every bone. It has a skull-like head and a bony tail like a scorpion's, and exude a stench of decay. An osyluth stands about 9 feet tall and weighs roughly 500 pounds. Osyluths often serve as the informers and police of the Nine Hells, monitoring and reporting on the activities of other devils.
Disgusting spymasters with deforming fingernails. Slightly more powerful than pit fiends. Rarely encountered as they work behind the scenes where they manipulate others.
Pit Fiend
Lord of devils, with great strength and deadly power.
Spinagon ("Spined Devil")
Spike-covered eyes and ears of Baator.
Memory-stealing guardians of the River Styx in Avernus.


Abishai are a subgroup of baatezu created through the joint efforts of Tiamat and Pearza of the Dark Eight. They are humanoid creatures that resemble gargoyles or humanoid dragons. There are five kinds, easily distinguishable by color (black, blue, green, red, and white). Most abishai are servitors of the dragon goddess Tiamat. They are the scouts, torturers, and wardens of the first two layers of the Nine Hells.

Ranked in power, the red abishai are the most powerful, followed by the blue, green, black, and white.


  • Chain Devil (Kyton): Murderous torturer with an infernal command of chains.
  • Desert Devil (Araton): Scimitar-wielding desert-dwelling devils.
  • Hellcat (Bezekira): Infernal, invisible catlike devil the size of a tiger. They can reproduce sexually, but many were once baatezu who were cursed to take on this form.
  • Hellfire Engine: Constructs of cold iron made to combat celestials and demons. Enhanced with hellfire.
  • Imp. Clever devil that aids evil mortals with dark counsel and trickery.
  • Imp, Assassin: Jet-black imps who serve the fiendish viscount Beleth.
  • Imp, Filth: Foul-smelling imp with a talent for forgery and translation.
  • Imp, Bloodbag: Imp that serves as infernal nurse corps.
  • Imp, Euphoric: Imp that serves as dealer of hallucinogenic slime.
  • Kalabon: Devils spawned from the rotting flesh of the Hag Countess's carcass that can combine their individual bodies into large amalgamations which fights as a single creature.

Hellforged Devils

A subgroup of devils, known as hellforged devils, were constructs that over time were transformed by the Nine Hells of Baator into living beings. They rigidly follow and enforce the laws of the Hells.

  • Coal Devil: Enforcers and shock troops.
  • Glass Devil: Spies and watchers.
  • Lead Devil: Dispatched to capture prisoners alive.
  • Obsidian Devil: Police force of the Nine Hells.
  • Sand Devil: Spies and informers.
  • Spiked Devil: Covered with sharp iron spikes.


Other fiendish creatures found in the Nine Hells include hell hounds and rakshasas.

Publishing history

Devils first appeared in the original first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual.

Many of the early devils were inspired directly by real-world religion and mythology, with Mephistopheles best known from the Faust cycle, Asmodeus, a devil from the apocryphal Jewish Book of Tobit and Baalzebul appearing as high devils in the D&D cosmology. Other inspriations came from the Erinyes, Greek demigoddesses of vengeance, and the Lemures, Roman spirits of the dead.

The release of the 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons rule set brought a name change for the devils and their counterparts demons. Concerned about protests from religious groups and others who viewed the game as an entryway into Satanic worship, TSR, Inc. dropped the words "devil" and "demon" from all descriptors of the monsters, substituting instead baatezu (pronounced /beɪˈɑːtɛzuː/) and tanar'ri (ironically, however, the creatures would essentially remain devils and demons in all but name). This persisted until the rollout of 3rd Edition, when the original terms were reinstated. Since the change, the term "baatezu" has been retained as a specific subset of powerful devils.


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  • Greenwood, Ed. "The Nine Hells Part I." Dragon #75. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1983.
  • -----. "The Nine Hells Part II." Dragon #76. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1983.
  • -----. "The Nine Hells Revisited. Dragon. #91. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1984.
  • Laws, Robin D. and Robert J. Schwalb. Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2006.
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  • McComb, Colin. Faces of Evil: The Fiends (TSR, 1997). ISBN 0-7869-0684-7
  • McComb, Colin, and Wolfgang Baur. Planes of Law. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1995.
  • McComb, Colin, and Monte Cook. Hellbound: The Blood War. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1996.
  • Mearls, Mike. "By Evil Bound." Dragon #306. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, April 2003. pg. 26-44.</ref>
  • Moldvay, Tom. "Demons, Devils, and Spirits." Dragon #42. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, October 1980.
  • Parker, Arn Ashleigh. "The Possessors." Dragon #42. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1980.
  • Perrin, Steve. Fires of Dis. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1995.
  • Stewart, Todd, and the Paizo Staff. "1d20 Villains." Dragon #359. Bellevue, WA: 2007.
  • Wyatt, James and Rob Heinsoo. Monstrous Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2001.

External links