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THE LORDS OF HELL

On this page, we will provide eight new churches, one for each of the lords of Hell below Asmodeus. These churches should be easy enough to introduce as fiendish enemies to good PCs -- or welcoming homes for evil ones. For reference, the lords of Hell are:

Baal - Lord of the First Circle
Dispater - Lord of the Second Circle
Mammon - Lord of the Third Circle
Belial - Lord of the Fourth Circle
Leviathan - Lord of the Fifth Circle
Lilith - Lady of the Sixth Circle
Beelzebub - Lord of the Seventh Circle
Mephistopheles - Lord of the Eighth Circle
Asmodeus - Lord of the Ninth Circle, King of Hell

The Church of Asmodeus is provided in Book of the Righteous. We will be adding churches over the coming weeks. We include all of these churches on one page for ease of printing. If you would like them broken into separate pages, please let us know on the forum.

THE LODGES OF BAAL

 Evil Patron of Virility, Strength, Hunting, War

Name: Baal (The Hunter, The Conqueror, Fell Handed, Dour)

Alignment: Lawful Evil

Representations: Classically and by good-hearted folk, Baal is represented as a terrible, twisted being with great horns atop a goat’s head, with cloven hoofs, a tail, a pointed beard and a forked tongue. Baal is the common person’s image of a devil (and many folktales mix him up with Asmodeus himself). The reason for this is simple: as the lord of the First Circle of Hell, Baal and his minions have undertaken more excursions directly into the Prime Material than any other lord of Hell. His face, and the faces of his beast-like minions, has become indelibly linked in the myths and consciousnesses of mortals with that of all devil-kind. 

Symbol of Baal/Baphomet by Oswald Wirth, 1931. This is a real-world occult symbol; its inclusion here is purely illustrative and is not meant as an endorsement of any belief system anywhere held by anybody for any reason.

To his worshippers, though, Baal is just as often shown as a radiant being with golden skin and perfect musculature. Frequently shown shamelessly nude, hunting some great creature with his bare hands or with a small blade, Baal is considered by those who adore him to be the very pinnacle of masculine beauty and power.

Baalites represent their faith with a hunting horn that tapers into a blade (e.g. a cone with the large half drawn as a hunting horn, the smaller half drawn as a horn blade). This is the secret symbol of the worshippers of Baal. The more commonly known representation of Baal is his goat-like head, with his horns, ears and pointed beard forming an upside-down star.

Purpose: Baal is the great warrior of Hell, and he fancies himself its greatest hunter as well (though both Mammon, Lord of the Third Circle, and Balan, Master of the Infernal Hunt, dispute the title). He revels in victory, conquest and warfare. He is marshal of the forces of Hell against those of the Abyss and, should Asmodeus ever succeed in breaking the bonds of Hell, the gods. Of all the beings of Hell, he is perhaps the most perpetually satisfied; after all, since the time of his birth, his existence has been one ceaseless war (first, he fought the gods of the tree, then he fought the demons that remained in Hell, then he fought the demons of the Abyss) and he loves war with an all-consuming passion. For this reason, Baal does not view Hell as a prison but rather as a paradise. He is protective of what he has – the First Circle of Hell – and seeks to expand it further, but has no desire to see the existing order overthrown. He is, therefore, quite conservative in the political struggles of Hell, always waiting to side with the belligerent who will obviously win (and thus ensuring that victory is overwhelming).

This is greatly to Asmodeus’ benefit, as Baal’s legions could tip a struggle to a rebel’s advantage were they ever committed to an uprising. However, Baal helps maintain the status quo – usually through inaction, but on occasion through military decimation of upstarts.

Church Description: The Baalite faith, celebrated in lodges, is an old one and is passed usually from father to son. There are few female Baalites as the faith is primarily chauvinistic, committed to the notion of masculine perfection. However, there are notable exceptions, and if a woman wishes to commit herself to the Baalite doctrine and a lodge is willing to accept her, she will be treated as the equal of other members.

Usually, one is indoctrinated in the faith on the occasion of one’s 12th birthday, at which time one’s father and the members of his lodge take the prospective member into the woods and circumcise him (or otherwise cut or scar his genitals) with a blade of horn. The same blade is used throughout a lodge’s history. If the boy whimpers or howls with pain at the circumcision, it is considered the father’s duty to either kill him or maim him ceremonially (depending on the extent of the lodge’s depravity).

Leading the lodges are the patriarchs, the clerics of Baal, who are always male. A patriarch is usually taught the skills necessary for his position by his father, his lodge’s previous patriarch. Through this patrilineage, some lodges have an uninterrupted line of patriarchs dating back centuries. The patriarchs lead the Baalites in services of worship that usually feature the burning of the hearts of recently felled game beasts. On their darkest, unholy days, they sacrifice live virgins or make other sacrifice of members of the five mortal races.

The lodges are the most typical sort of “devil worshippers.” They kill holy warriors and other representatives of good, they sacrifice virgins (always women) around large bonfires, and they summon devils (large and small) to help them conquer and destroy. They are selfish, brutal, hateful and filled with a murderous evil – all in the hope that they will be given power to have and do whatever they want. They are deeply contemptible people, and those who are good of heart feel obliged to wipe out lodges wherever they may be found.

Church Doctrine: “I obeyed my father, and my son obeys me. This is what is proper and herein there is strength. Baal is your true father and he will open your eyes to your true nature; you are a beast with hungers that must be satisfied or you will grow frail.”
- Patriarch Szokas Merriwether’s “The Law of Flesh”

The Baalites refer regularly to the “illusion of the mind.” It is their belief that the so-called “Lords of Good,” in an effort to subjugate the mortal races, placed in all of our minds a series of lies. They gave us languages, but made sure that we all spoke different tongues to keep us from understanding our common nature. They made us see the world through a filter of rational thought – giving us shame at our baser desires, making us wish to cover our naked selves (both physical and emotional). They made us believe that pursuits of the mind are greater than pursuits of the body. They instilled in us a false sense of “morality” that is counter to everything the body tells us.

Through these illusions, the mortal races have developed a suppliant nature. We are beggars, asking the gods for permission to live contented lives. We have faith in their churches and believe their lies. The Baalite wishes to strip himself of these illusions, to see the truth – there is no power greater than the unity of mortals, particularly men. Obeying the law of the pack, the desires of their hearts, a lodge's members can pursue their own aims and achieve far more than they could if they obeyed the prescripts of “good.”

Therefore, the Baalite faith focuses on the “awakening” as they call it, wherein each member, after his indoctrination, seeks to strip away his shame, his adherence to the illusion of the mind, and to accept his nature: he is an animal, with animal desires that he must embrace.

This doctrine is expressed in the following core principles:

  • Honor Your Brothers, Obey Your Fathers. The lodge structure is one of small, highly lawful communities. Within a lodge, members are to respect each other, protect each other, and obey the orders of their elders, particularly the patriarchs. It is militaristic in structure and outlook, though a lodge does not have a traditional sense of “military honor.” While faithful to one another, they are perfectly happy to lie to, steal from, cheat, poison, assassinate and destroy anyone and anything not within their insular community – even members of their own family who are not Baalites. (Think of the Baalites as a modern-day cult that breaks down its members’ attachments to anything outside of the cult but builds up fanatical loyalty to the cult itself.)
     

  • You Are A Beast! Live As A Beast! The Baalites are hunters at heart – but not the noble kind. They stalk beasts and rip out their throats with their teeth. They model themselves after wolves and other pack hunters, and desire to strip themselves of rationality and shame. They are happiest when they are indulging in their most carnal feelings and desires. However, unlike similar chaotic faiths, they channel these bestial actions and desires toward the good of their lodge. They plan, scheme and are careful to only unleash their bestial selves where and when it will do their lodge the most good. They are like a carefully aimed arrow – while its release is highly controlled, the end result is just as brutal and destructive as if it had not been (perhaps more so for the caution of its aim). It is from this doctrine that they develop their attitudes toward women. They believe the nature of the mortal races is that men are hunters and women are their servants, helping them achieve perfection for the good of the race.
     
  • Be Valiant and Strong!  The Baalites have no tolerance for weakness, tears, softness, cowardice or anything else that they see as the remnants of the “illusion of the mind.” While despicable and evil, the Baalites are unquestionably brave. Often, they will fight against impossible odds or against better-armed foes simply to prove their strength. If there is virtue to these wicked souls, this is it.

Preferred Weapon: Like Baal, the Baalites prefer the hunting spear (longspear) and the longbow.

Cleric Domains: The patriarch may choose any two of the following domains: Law, Evil, Strength, War, Destruction

Cleric Alignments: Unlike most churches, those who follow patrons of Hell (particularly clerics) must be the same alignment as their patron. Perhaps it is because of the Compact; perhaps it is because the lords of Hell lack the strength to supply power outside a limited sphere. Regardless, patriarchs of Baal must be lawful evil by the time they reach third level. It is possible for a patriarch to be neutral evil or lawful neutral for the first two levels, though it is highly unlikely. Lodge indoctrination is brutal and thorough, and it teaches a strictly lawful evil ethos.

Spell Preparation Time: Patriarchs prepare their spells at dawn just as the hunter prepares to seek his prey. They usually perform their rituals to receive their spells alone, and the ritual almost always involves a blood sacrifice of a small animal. Before particularly important campaigns or events, most patriarchs make larger sacrifices.

OGL MATERIAL ABOVE: Preferred Weapon, Cleric Domains, Cleric Aligments and Spell Preparation Time, above, are all OGL. For the full OGL document covering this site, click here.

THE SANCTUMS OF DISPATER

Evil Patron of Forbidden Knowledge, Elitism, and Scorn

Name: Dispater (The Wise, Far-Seeing, Magisterial)

Alignment: Lawful Evil

Representations: Lord of the Second Circle of Hell, Dispater is classically represented as the “kindest” of the diabolical powers. With the lovely face of a wise-man (marred only by two ebon horns) and a paternal smile, Dispater is a father-figure to his worshippers – and all those who consider themselves above the hurly burly caused by the common personages of the world.

Beyond his horns, the only other obviously diabolical trait of Dispater’s is his long, rat-like tail. Though similar in form and function to that of a rat (lithe and hairless), it is usually shown to be black as ebon and topped with a barb at the end. Some say that one of Dispater’s legs is actually the cloven hoof of a goat, but he is usually shown in robes; his worshippers do not tend to dwell on the veracity of this claim.

One of many possible secret symbols of Dispater

Dispater is shown in most icons holding a staff of power in one hand anda massive blood-red tome in the other. The tome is sometimes seen to be open to the 18th page (9 circles of hell times 2 for Dispater’s circle) and the staff is bound with nine rows of gems – two gems per row.

In symbols, Dispater is represented by the open book or the staff described above. These are widely-known symbols, and enemies of the forces of Hell know to oppose anyone who wears them openly. In secret, worshippers of Dispater display symbols that incorporate the number 18 as a product of 2 and 9; these symbols are often enormously complex and would be hard to identify for anyone not “in the know” (usually requiring a successful Innuendo check against DC 25). An example: a worshipper might wear a black letter “I” on his robes; black begins with “B,” which is the second letter in the alphabet, while “I” is the 9th letter. While not all secret symbols of Dispater are this complex, many are more so (e.g. the letter “I” can be replaced with a black pictogram of an eye, hiding the symbol under several layers of code).

Purpose: Behind his fatherly smile, Dispater is a cunning master whose hatred for his “inferiors,” who he sees to be everyone in the universe other than Asmodeus, is nearly limitless.

Wandering the endless halls of his library in the city of Dis, the central point of the Second Circle of Hell, Dispater plots and schemes. He seeks something rather different from the other lords of Hell. Rather than dominance of Hell, rule of the mortal sphere, or even victory over his rivals, Dispater wishes to be left alone. Driven by his insatiable lust for knowledge and mental perfection, Dispater sees himself as must a wealthy man in fine attire surrounded by lepers. Hell is a prison for him, no doubt, and its shrieking and wailing, pits of fire, blood and urine, its reeks and horrors are to him the most horrid things imaginable. He seeks refinement and calm. He jealously guards the solitude of his towers in Dis, and he has marshaled his forces to repel any assaults from the other lords of Hell so that he might preserve that solitude.

But where refinement and the pursuit of knowledge are holy things when promoted by Tinel or his daughter, Aymara, for Dispater they are goals to be pursued at the expense of the weak and the doltish. He desires a world of ivory towers, where the noble of mind live above the masses, whose sole purpose in life is to toil in service to their betters. Unlike his neighboring lord, Baal, and most other devils, Dispater seeks tyranny through strength of the mind rather than of the arm. While this is a tyranny that, on the surface, is less horrifying (for it involves fewer thugs in heavy armor snapping the necks of peasant children), it is no less wicked. In Dispater’s view, those with knowledge, particularly of the arcane arts, should use it against those without, to subjugate them, win their loyalty or, barring all that, destroy them.

His city of Dis very much reflects this attitude, and is a place wholly stratified by knowledge. Its hierarchy is dizzying; a devil that holds an important secret may climb quickly to the highest spires of the city, using his closely guarded secret to gain power. The moment the secret is revealed, or loses its power for any reason, that same devil’s fall will be spectacular. Power shifts in a heartbeat in Dis, but one thing is constant: Dispater the Wise wanders his halls overseeing it all.

Church Description: The Dispatarians, as the faith of Dispater is called, are most often corrupted mages and scholars. They gather in hidden sanctums, their places of worship, and pay homage to the father of the Second Circle. Unlike most infernalists, they do not make ceremonial blood sacrifices or otherwise commit atrocities in the name of their patron; they consider these acts “distasteful.” Instead, they gather together and debate intellectual matters, offering answers to questions that “the weak minded” are too afraid to ponder.

The Dispatarian faith honors the intelligent and tells them they are the natural superiors of the strong. The typical worshippers of Dispater, therefore, are the disenfranchised and bookish members of scholarly society: Those who feel that their brilliant ideas have never been taken seriously; others who feel that they have been passed over because they are clever but lack brute strength. The sanctums are often home to little more than complainers who gather to ask Dispater to grant them the strength to “show them all!” Such sanctums are entirely ignored (after the souls of its congregants are won for Hell, that is).

Greater sanctums, though, are led by the clerics of Dispater. Granted powers by the lord of the Second Circle himself, these clerics, called the Dispatarian sages, lead elite groups of mages and other masters of lore. In their sanctums they hatch plans for their dominance of the “dull,” as they call those not of the faith. Because of their power and their monopoly on knowledge, in some communities these sanctums are the sole authority figures, lording over the surrounding territory and forcing all near them into their service.

Church Doctrine: “Proclaim to me that you will do good for the ‘common man,’ and I will prove to you that you act only for your own good. Tell me that you seek knowledge for the ‘betterment of society,’ and I will demonstrate that you seek it only because you want it. We are not called to do good; we must do what is called ‘good’ if we desire to live in peace. But there is another way…”
- Dispatarian Sage Rinaldo Threefork, “A Manifesto, A Mission”

The Dispatarians focus their faith on the accumulation of knowledge, the propagation of oligarchy, and, where they can, the destruction of that which is “inferior”:

  • Accumulation of Knowledge:  Dispater teaches that the only worthy thing the pathetic mortal races may strive for is knowledge. “I was of the first race,” he told one of the first Dispatarian sages, “born of fire in an era long ago. To me, you are frail, and ugly and beneath contempt. But you might learn enough to interest me.” The Dispatarians believe that the mortal flesh is so inferior to the immortal flesh of the div and the devils that there is simply no point in focusing on physical achievement whatsoever. It has been demonstrated, however, that a mortal might learn more than many of the strongest immortals. Mortals might perform acts of cleverness that far outstrip their meager physical capabilities. And so the Dispatarian sages focus on the achievements of the mind, considering all other pursuits to be wastes of effort and considering those who pursue them to be contemptible fools. They are particularly interested in seeking knowledge and truths that have been forbidden the mortal races by the powers of good.
     

  • The Few Should Rule the Many: The Dispatarians are the only infernal faith with a firm political investment. The members of the faith are absolutely committed to oligarchy, a political system (enacted by vote, decree, or whatever other method appropriate to the region) in which the supposed “best” or “elite” rule over the rest. More specifically, they are proponents of oligarchy where power is given to the knowledgeable and the wise. For these reasons, Dispatarians are most active and powerful in societies ruled by small circles of (primarily) mages. There are some Dispatarians in feudal societies as well, but usually ones where councils of nobles, rather than a single ruler, control society.
     

  • Ugliness Must Not be Tolerated: Dispatarians, when they are powerful enough to concern themselves with such things, like to become arbiters of culture. They determine what is “beautiful” and what is ugly. In societies run (or at least run in part) by Dispatarians, there are often knights or other armed persons dubbed “cultural officers” or “members of the order of beauty.” These armed personnel answer to the oligarchs and are charged with rooting out that which is considered ugly or debasing to “cultural purity.” Usually, this means that they beat up or arrest bards for singing vulgar songs, smash folk art, break the legs of peasants performing folk dances, or otherwise forbid and crush anything that isn’t officially sanctioned art. The Dispatarians prefer “high art” that focuses on classical themes (usually cultural-significant heroes) and do not abide any art that might contain rebellious material or political messages aimed against their oligarchies.

This last doctrinal position is rarely brought to bear by the Dispatarians, as few are powerful enough to control governments that would enforce these regulations. Most sanctums spend their time plotting to seize control of society. They usually do so by manipulating those with brawn into putting them in control – most often by appealing to ideals such as cultural purity, nationalism, regionalism, or racism against one of the other five races. At the end of the day, their tactics generally boil down to fear: Make the common folk afraid of an outside force and convince them that the only solution is to put the sanctum in charge. Sometimes it works, and such lands are soon under the grips of a seemingly benevolent but nevertheless wicked band of devil-worshippers, each of them a traitor to the mortal world.

Preferred Weapon: Dispatarians, like Dispater himself, prefer the quarterstaff.

Cleric Domains: The Dispatarian sages may choose any two of the following domains: Law, Evil, Knowledge, Truth, Trickery

Cleric Alignments: Unlike most churches, those who follow patrons of Hell (particularly clerics) must be the same alignment as their patron. Perhaps it is because of the Compact; perhaps it is because the lords of Hell lack the strength to supply power outside a limited sphere. Regardless, Dispatarian sages must be lawful evil by the time they reach third level. It is possible for a sage to be neutral evil or lawful neutral for the first two levels, but after that he will receive no additional clerical powers if he has not “seen the light.”

Spell Preparation Time: Dispatarian sages may prepare their spells in the morning after waking or in the evening before sleep, but in either case they must spend an hour beforehand reading a scholarly or otherwise important text they have not already digested.

OGL MATERIAL ABOVE: Preferred Weapon, Cleric Domains, Cleric Aligments and Spell Preparation Time, above, are all OGL. For the full OGL document covering this site, click here.

 

 


 
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THE TREE OF LIFE
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