Fell Legions and Insidious Plots
Through subtle plotting and brutal aggression, the forces of the Nine Hells seek to corrupt or dominate all who stand against them. These fiends, as ancient and terrible as any in the multiverse, forge armies out of the souls of the wicked and use them to enforce their iron rule. Can your adventurers stand against the might and tyranny of the Nine Hells?
This supplement for the D&D game presents the definitive treatise on devils and their malefic home. Along with information about the physiology, psychology, society, and schemes of the devils themselves, you’ll find feats, spells, items, and tactics commonly employed by these infernal creatures and those who oppose them. This book also provides detailed information on various devils, archdevils, and the layers of the Nine Hells.
Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells (2006), by Robin D. Laws and Robert J. Schwalb, walks alongside the footsteps burned into the planar soil by its predecessor Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss - and that's a very good thing indeed. The abyssal book covered demons and was one of my favorite RPG supplements of that year. This work on devils joined it, expanding on previous supplements to lay out the politics and monsters of Hell in loving, terrible detail.
If you run a planar campaign or have heroes who dream of beating up devils, you'll want this book.
Written for 3.5 D&D, the Fiendish Codex II takes previous work on arch-devils, done for the Book of Vile Darkness, and substantially expands the mythology. This book gives an explanation for how Hell ended up responsible for the discipline of recalcitrant and sinning souls and provides great detail about each arch-devil and his or her particular layer.
There's general detail on devils, advice on how to use the monsters most effectively in both combat and non-combat encounters, a history of the Nine Hells and its labyrinthine politics, rules for Faustian pacts, monster stats, new prestige classes, and new spells and feats. The art ranges from good to great (with some complaints that the portraits of new devils are slightly too shady to pick out great detail), and the maps meet WotC's usual high standard for cartography.
Devils and Arch-Devils. The information on fiends is a mixture of brand new and adapted. The chapter focuses on the baatezu subtype, alluding to other breeds of devils that are less significant. There's some interesting commentary on the intersection of the long-standing tradition of devils summoning more devils, and the play problems that this can create.
Nineteen devils and 10 arch-devils are fully detailed. There are some old favorites here, including the gargoyle-like abishai, the hulking and feral malabranche, the quilled spinagon and the bloated nupperibo. I'm even more delighted to see the paeliryon, which may have my favorite monster art around, and the corrupting brachina, who is incredibly well suited to subtle, long-reaching political plots within a game.
More intriguing for long-term plot development are the description of the arch-devil (or devils) from each layer of Hell. The physical description of their aspect, their lore, their iconic magic items, their strategies and tactics, and their goals accompany each collection of game statistics. With this background, it isn't difficult to craft long-term plot arcs that lead heroes from lowly devils up to facing the aspect of the arch-devil itself.
Like a Layer Cake, but with More Screaming Maggots. Fully 44 pages are given to detailing each layer of Hell. Important locations (including maps, when needed), divine realms, and encounters all join a detailed description of each layer and the lord who runs it.
It is this chapter that truly excels in firing up the imagination. It's hard to read about Dis's corrupt Garden of Delights or the bureaucratic Labyrinth of Truth found in one of Mammon's bubbling swamps and not want to set at least one short adventure on those locales.
Rules and Laws. There are 32 pages turned over to new rules. This section gives us a new race known as the hellbred, a condemned soul who hopes to redeem their afterlife by embarking on one hopeless mission after another. Other than the healthy dose of self-pity that likely accompanies each of them, it's a nice idea for someone wishing to play a tragic figure.
New feats include Devil-Touched (precluding any Exalted feats, understandably) and Divine feats. You can be branded with a mark of Hell and gain favor thereby, you can make pacts with devils to gain a daily bonus, and you can focus on the divine castigation of evil outsiders. The metamagic feat Disrupting Spell is interesting, for instance, as it lowers the saving throws on opponent's spells for a period of time.
Prestige classes include the hellbrakers, thieves who focus on stealing from infernal strongholds; hellfire warlocks, with great power at the expense of versatility; hellreavers, divine warriors who tap into their hatred and anger to attack the minions of Hell; and soulguards, who protect the innocent from the sly machinations of the baatezu. To accompany these classes are a variety of new spells, most of which let characters tap into the power of Hell instead of opposing it.
An Infernal Bargain. This supplement has slightly less flavor text than the prior “Abyssal” book, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Laws and Schwalb manage to pull off a content-filled and tremendously focused book that's still great fun to read. If you're interested in planar explorations, regardless of which game edition you're playing, this book will help tremendously in developing the Nine Hells.
About the Creators. Robin D. Laws is a Canadian game designer and author who is behind some of the most innovative games in the industry. His work includes Shadowfist, Feng Shui, Over The Edge, Dying Earth Roleplaying Game, GUMSHOE, The Esoterrorists, Ashen Stars, and more.
Robert J. Schwalb is an astoundingly prolific and talented game designer who works primarily for Wizards of the Coast, although his work also includes Witch Hunter: The Invisible World, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying Game, Grimm, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.
About the Product Historian
History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.