Asmodeus, the Lord of the Nine Hells is the devil god of the Nine Hells and represents mastery of tyranny and domination. He relishes in corrupting mortal souls with his honeyed words. He rules his domain with an iron fist and the punishments he inflicts for crossing him are legendary. Devils and other evil entities pay him tribute, while warlocks are drawn to his power.
Once a celestial, Asmodeus is depicted in many tomes and murals as a handsome humanoid of deep, red skin and long, black hair with two curling horns rising from his brow. He has stated that originally, as a celestial, he was objectively considered the most beautiful, but since his fall his appearance changes to match the most beautiful face the viewer has seen.
Shortly after the Betrayer Gods were released from their prison planes, Asmodeus referred to the other gods as his siblings, and addressed Gruumsh warmly upon arriving in Ghor Dranas. He has expressed his hatred for mortals for being the cause of the schism, even claiming mortals "did something" to the Prime Deities.
Several centuries after the Calamity, Asmodeus has many enemies even among the Betrayer Gods, many of whom only follow him out of fear. His archenemy, however, is Avandra, the Changebringer, who has exasperated him throughout the ages and defeated him during the Calamity.
At the eve of the Calamity, the archmage Vespin Chloras performed a ritual, the exact nature of which is unclear but that possibly would have allowed him to ascend and replaced Asmodeus. Instead, he accidentally made it possible for the Betrayer Gods to re-enter the Material Plane. Asmodeus immediately enslaved him, turning him into a decrepit fiend and the left hand of Asmodeus.
Desirat was the companion and mount of Asmodeus during the wars of the Calamity. She was captured and imprisoned beneath Mount Mentiri by the original pre-Divergence Cerberus Assembly and remains there, giving birth to the geo-thermal activity in the area.
Asmodeus saw Zerxus as the perfect pawn necessary to free him and the other Betrayer Gods completely from their prison. He constructed exactly the narrative and persona that would elicit sympathy, knowing that Zerxus believed so strongly in the power and possibility of redemption that he would be unable to resist aiding him.
In "Fire and Ruin" (E3x04), when the Tree of Names was destroyed, Zerxus saw Asmodeus within it, apparently some part of him tortured, terrified, and shrieking in pain. Zerxus fought through to reach and touch him, holding his hand to pull him through into Exandria. Once freed, Asmodeus showed his true colors. When Zerxus used Cleansing Touch on him, it failed to have any effect. Angered at the assumption he had done something wrong that needed to be atoned for, Asmodeus stabbed Zerxus through the heart, then healed him. Zerxus argued with him that mortals were on Exandria long before the gods came, but Asmodeus scornfully called mortals "a bad first draft", and ripped the skin off Zerxus's skull, smashed him into the floor, and broke his spine, then healed him again. He told him that mortals were the ones who were his enemies, not the Prime Deities who were his siblings. It was mortals who came to matter so much to the Prime Deities that they were willing to throw the Betrayer Gods away. Asmodeus's quarrel was with mortals, and his goal was to collect all their souls in his pit and punish them for eternity. There was infinite hatred in his eyes. Zerxus looked at him with pity, telling him to look at how much he hated himself along with everything else.
Asmodeus told him his pride would make him a great Champion. He killed Zerxus a third time, then offered him the Mace of the Black Crown, at the price of becoming his Champion and surrendering his soul. Zerxus eventually accepted the mace in his effort to reunite Evandrin with their son Elias before the cataclysm that destroyed Avalir and marked the beginning of the Calamity.
Commandments of the Lord of the Nine Hells
During the Founding, when demons of the Abyss spilled forth to feast on the mortal victims of the Primordials, many celestials who had battled the demons turned to tyranny and forged new hells under the leadership of Asmodeus, himself a fallen angel; he corrupted these celestials into the first devils.
In the story Asmodeus told Zerxus Ilerez (most likely intertwined with lies), he arrived in Exandria as a celestial of light along with other deities and began to shape the world and their creations with them. Many others had created many virtuous things before Asmodeus could contribute. He thought he would make virtues matter by creating their opposites. Mortals misunderstood his "gifts" and he was hated, with the encouragement of the Prime Deities. He said the gods had made promises to the Primordials, and somehow those who stayed true to them were called "Betrayers".
The Betrayers were trapped in what Asmodeus described as "not a kind place [...] a place made to teach us a lesson." By another account, the Betrayer Gods had themselves warped their planes into reflections of their evil.
In texts about this Schism, Asmodeus is usually reputed to have been the Betrayer God who made a threat as he was being banished: "Put me where you will. In darkness, I will gather my shadows to me." The dragons who protected the mortal races took this threat seriously and recorded it in Draconic as "ghor dranas", or "gathering of shadows".
Sometime between his becoming Lord of the Nine Hells and the Age of Arcanum, Asmodeus entered an ancient pact with the fey that required him to send warning to them if a plan of his could affect them.
During the Age of Arcanum, Archmage Vespin Chloras released the Betrayer Gods from their prisons. From their new capital of Ghor Dranas in Wildemount, the Betrayer Gods spread their influence and eventually made an assault on the bastion of Vasselheim. The battle lasted twenty days and nights but, with the divine aid of the Prime Deities, Vasselheim and its inhabitants stood triumphant, if battered, at the end. Ghor Dranas was built the very night the Betrayer Gods were released, and upon Asmodeus's arrival there, he proposed to Gruumsh that they assault Vasselheim together that night, while his minions tried to use Avalir to release the Primordials.
The gods prepared for war. The Betrayer Gods each forged a sentient weapon with the life force of a greater fiend: the Arms of the Betrayers. On the night he was released, Asmodeus, for his part, instantly forged the Mace of the Black Crown from the life force of an erinyes named Xartaza, and offered it to Zerxus Ilerez should he accept being Asmodeus's champion. Zerxus took the weapon, accepting the pact, and was physically transformed to a more devilish form.
During a brief period of unified interests, Asmodeus and Lolth exalted an immortal assassin, Jourrael, the Inevitable End, who could not be completely destroyed as long as their contract remained intact; several centuries later, Jourrael remained immortal.
One theory on the origin of tieflings is that they were created in Ghor Dranas as a result of some of the city's inhabitants tying their bloodlines to Asmodeus in exchange for magical knowledge. While it is false that the first tieflings were born there (since they already existed during the Age of Arcanum), nowadays tieflings from Rosohna do tend to share the Father of Lies' red skin.
The original Cerberus Assembly tore Desirat, phoenix mount of Asmodeus, from her master and bound her beneath Mount Mentiri for study.
Avandra defeated Asmodeus during the Calamity by tricking his armies into attacking one another.
Through the Mace of the Black Crown, Xartaza continues to attempt to recruit more souls for Asmodeus by manipulating the wielder.
The power of Asmodeus and his layer in the Nine Hells, Nessus, is, either through deals or consort-like unions with him or his devils, the origin of many of the tiefling bloodlines of Exandria (being, in fact, the most common). The tieflings of Asmodeus are usually very intelligent. Their infernal legacy grants them a small number of magical abilities, including amplifying their voice, changing their eye color, and minor manipulation of fire (the Thaumaturgy cantrip). More powerful tieflings can wreath their enemies in fire if they are attacked (the Hellish Rebuke spell) and can create pockets of magical darkness (the Darkness spell).
- Protection from Evil and Good
- Time Stop
Appearances and mentions
- Campaign One
- Campaign Two
- "Lost Treasures" (2x22), mentioned only
- Exandria Unlimited: Calamity
- "You are not our children. You are... a bad first draft. [...] Who is the most proud man here? These ones who thought they would fly a city, or the man who thought he would teach me a lesson? The only difference between you and the Dawnfather is that the Dawnfather is a little more humble. Now, I'll tell you why I spit on your forgiveness. I'll tell you why I loathe your redemption. To reach a hand down to somebody, they need to be beneath you! And I am beneath nobody."
- Asmodeus is the deity in Exandria who has undergone the most changes in his nature, going from being an angel to being a god and an archdevil.
- One of the oldest objects in Grog Strongjaw's Bag of Holding was a signet ring with the symbol of Asmodeus, recovered from a "big demon" who had body-slammed him onto a spike. It was used to indicate membership in the cult of Asmodeus. This demon may have been Juurezel, a glabrezu demon who posed as a "devil prince".
- The adventure hook Twilight Phoenix in the Explorer's Guide to Wildemount involves archmages who worship Asmodeus attempting to free his mount Desirat from her prison.
- Issylran history points that a cabal of power-hungry warlocks contacting devils were responsible for the creation of the first tieflings. While devils and most archdevils were able to access the Material Plane through powerful conjuration magic, Asmodeus was kept outside Exandria due to the magic of the Tree of Names, so if he was part of the Issylran ritual, he wouldn't have been able to physically participate in it, instead interacting with the mortals through magic or using his devils as intermediaries.
- The deal involving Elmenore and Asmodeus is somewhat reminiscent of the pact between the Queen of Faeries and Hell in the story of Tam Lin. However, while in Exandria the Father of Lies must warn the fey to keep them safe, in the Scottish ballad Hell only leaves the fairies alone if they give one of their people as a tithe every seven years.
- See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 12.
- See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 20.
- See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 34.
- See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 27.
- See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 26.
- See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 26. Mispelled as "Nalsheem".
- See "Bitterness and Dread" (E3x02) at 4:13:44.
- See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 276.
- See "Bitterness and Dread" (E3x02) at 4:07:12.
- See "Fire and Ruin" (E3x04) at 1:22:48.
- See "Fire and Ruin" (E3x04) at 2:10:34.
- See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 15.
- See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 31.
- See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, pp. 11–12.
- See "Bitterness and Dread" (E3x02) at 4:13:44.
- See "Bitterness and Dread" (E3x02) from 4:11:30 through 4:17:35.
- See "Bitterness and Dread" (E3x02) at 4:10:55.
- See "Excelsior" (E3x01) from 3:03:49 through 3:07:04.
- See "Fire and Ruin" (E3x04) at 3:31:46.
- See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 6.
- See "Fire and Ruin" (E3x04) at 1:22:30.
- See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 7.
- See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 30.
- See "Fire and Ruin" (E3x04) at 1:10:47.
- See "Fire and Ruin" (E3x04) at 1:56:12.
- See "Between the Lines" (2x78) from 3:01:47 through 3:02:38.
- See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 180.
- See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 179.
- See "Excelsior" (E3x01) at 0:36:24.
- See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 2:42:00.
- See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 15.
- This must have happened after Sarenrae defeated Torog.
- See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 31. This presumably happened before Avandra defeated Asmodeus.
- See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 28.
- See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 163.
- See "Fire and Ruin" (E3x04) at 14:16.
- See "Fire and Ruin" (E3x04) at 16:16.
- See "Fire and Ruin" (E3x04) at 26:160.
- See "Bitterness and Dread" (E3x02) at 4:26:48.
- See "Fire and Ruin" (E3x04) at 1:02:52.
- See "Fire and Ruin" (E3x04) at 0:35:40.
- See "Vox Machina Go to Hell" (1x91) at 0:25:50. Asmodeus was mentioned.
- See "Deals in the Dark" (1x92) at 0:27:42.
- See "Excelsior" (E3x01) at 19:10.
- See "Deals in the Dark" (1x92) at 26:45.
- See "Deals in the Dark" (1x92) at 1:34:49.
- See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 90.
- See "Excelsior" (E3x01) at 0:36:24.
- See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 27.
- Symbol of Asmodeus from Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting.
- Symbol of Asmodeus from Explorer's Guide to Wildemount by Claudio Pozas. (source)
- Fan art of Zerxus speaking with Asmodeus, by KattFish (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Asmodeus being shown kindness, by Aquarisma Arts (source). Used with permission.
- Official art of Erathis and Bahamut battling Asmodeus and Gruumsh at Vasselheim, by Kent Davis from "Exandria: An Intimate History" (Sx61) at 3:53. Used with permission.
- Official art of Erathis again battling Asmodeus during the Calamity, by Kent Davis (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Asmodeus, by Clara (source). Used with permission.