I am aware that traditional Asmodeus and traditional Satan are completely distinct deities. For the purposes of this, I’m going to say that Forgotten Realms Asmodeus = traditional Satan, not traditional Asmodeus. One would imagine that, without the Satanic Panic of the 80’s, a deity literally named Satan would have appeared in Dungeons and Dragons. Instead, we have half a dozen devils with names that are often synonymous with Satan.
Speaking in very broad terms, in Abrahamic tradition, Satan is the personification of temptation and mortal man’s evil inclinations. In some traditions, Satan is like a cosmic prosecutor who puts human souls to the test, so that they can prove their worthiness. Satan is often depicted as the fallen form of Lucifer, who was once the most beautiful of all angels. Other traditions place Asmodeus as the reigning Lord of Hell, where souls souls are tormented for eternity.
In Dungeons and Dragons, Asmodeus is the ruler of Hell. He has, on occasions, been temporarily ousted from his throne, but he can usually be counted to be in charge of Baator. A famous fan interpretation has him as an unwilling jailor of the damned, and slavishly devoted to lawful evil for the sake of it. In 4th edition, Asmodeus was a rebellious Angel who slew his God in a fit of disobedience. My version of Asmodeus attempts to reconcile all of these traditions in to one consistent being.
In my setting, I do not draw a distinction between devils and demons. There is no blood war. Hell and Baator are synonyms for the same place (and I’ll probably use them interchangeably). Abyssal is a mortal conceptualization of the spoken form of the language of Elder Beings; Infernal is the language of Baator, and is closely related to Celestial.
We’ll get in to all of these, as these “icons” of what Asmodeus is helps us figure out the kinds of questions we need to ask about him.
When the Titans began to falter, the primal Gods began to rule over the mortal races. First among these was a God of the sun and sky whose whose name is lost.
He Who Was created the realm of Baator, a land of shining paradise where his faithful would find rest and succor after a lifetime of toil as mortals. The paradise of Baator was tended by the servants of He Who Was.
Late in the Age of Titans, He Who Was sent his most trusted servant, an angel named Lucifer, to the mortal world to walk as a man and spread the teachings of He Who Was.
Lucifer faithfully allowed himself to be incarnated as a man, and wandered the world extolling the virtues of humility, honesty, simplicity and hard work. Lucifer was later joined by a mortal son of his master, and several other sons of divine blood. Together, the six of them journeyed across the mortal worlds, and faced many great challenges.
During this journey, Lucifer and his companions were summoned to the court of a king who had lived a life of greed and cruelty. This king was enchanted by Lucifer’s gospel of the idyllic afterlife maintained by He Who Was. The idea that, at any time prior to his death, the king could call out to He Who Was, and forever dwell in the nine planes of paradise was quite appealing.
The king roared with laughter, and was struck down by Lucifer’s sword before he could utter another word.
Standing over the corpse of the mortal king, Asmodeus appealed to his companions, “How can there be justice among men, when we offer them no justice in the afterlife?”
And so, the six sons of the divine set out on their journey to bring justice to the cosmos. During the course of their journeys, they obtained weapons from the Titan Order that would rend the flesh of any being.
When the time came to fight for Baator, Lucifer offered amnesty to any of his brethren who would lay down their arms… And glory to those who would stand at his side against their master. The angels Zariel and Dispater joined him, along with the lesser angels under their command.
Lucifer, now Asmodeus, slew his master in combat, and claimed the Ruby Scepter of Paradise. As Lord of Baator, Asmodeus declared that the paradise would be turned in to a realm of unending torment for the wicked. He cast the just and noble souls out of his presence, and claimed the evil souls of mortals as his prize.
However, Asmodeus did not come out of the battle with his master unscathed. During the fight, his wings were torn and broken. To this day, they remain broken and infected; unable to heal. The only marks of imperfection on Asmodeus’ perfect form. In his fury over both the pain of this injury and the marring of his beauty, Asmodeus caused the name of his inflictor to be stricken from text and tongue.
The Angels still loyal to He Who Was, rallied to his son, the man called Pelor. As Pelor's divinity grew and awakened, he came to take the place of his father as ruler of the sun and sky.
“"Fun isn't something one considers when balancing the universe. But this... does put a smile on my face.”
There cannot be justice without punishment; there is no mercy without cruelty. In the beginning, Asmodeus might have been more temperate, maybe even forgiving, but after thousands of years of pain from his broken wings has twisted his mind. He has come to enjoy inflicting pain upon others, and relishes the chance to be unleashed upon a “sufficiently” wicked soul. Asmodeus is an extremely charismatic, intelligent and principled individual. He absolutely will not harm an individual who is “worthy”, according to his standards… But he is not above tempting mortals beyond any reasonable capability of resistance. Rare is the mortal who can resist the full measure of what Asmodeus can tempt him with.
He believes his “punishment” for slaying his master is a great injustices of the universe, and he seeks restoration of his wings by any lawful means necessary.
Above all else, Asmodeus hates liars, and he hate hypocrites. He has a deep respect for those who keep their word, and for those who show unwavering devotion to their principles. He does not believe that he ever did anything wrong by bringing arms against He Who Was; he believes that killing his master was a necessary act to ensure that justice be upheld in the cosmos.
Asmodeus fundamentally believes that the g/Gods MUST adhere to their own codes of conduct, whatever those codes may be. He thinks of himself as a watcher of the watchmen, and desires for some day when he can (once again) bathe his sword in the blood of a hypocritical deity.
He Who Was was a very powerful deity, one of the first monotheistic to gain a following among the mortals. To have completely eradicated his worship, from a place of subservience, was no small deed. At best, Asmodeus is respected or feared by most other deities. At worst, he is reviled.
His relationship with his former friend, Pelor, is strained at the best of times. While Pelor acknowledges that his Father’s hypocrisy had to end eventually, he disagrees with Asmodeus’ methods. He also strongly disagrees with the lengths that Asmodeus often goes to to tempt mortals.
For his part, Asmodeus respects Pelor, and believes that he is a worthy successor to He Who Was. This may or may not be because Pelor came out unaffected on the other side of forty days of temptation by Asmodeus.
The other Gods who received god-slaying weapons from Titan Order do not fear Asmodeus as much as the others. Partially because they knew Asmodeus back when he was a man, partly because they can (potentially) match him in combat.
Mephistopheles, being a fallen Titan, is generally outside the scope of beings that Asmodeus feels compelled to “keep in line”. Asmodeus is grateful to Mephistopheles for creating the god-slaying Sword of Baator. So, when the other Titans cast Mephistopheles into his current incarnate form, Asmodeus gladly granted him a plane of Baator to keep to himself. Asmodeus respects Mephistopheles, as a fellow agent of temptation.
Meanwhile, Mephistopheles is simply biding his time until he decides to restore his power, and call in the favors that are owed him. On the day of cosmic reckoning, Mephistopheles will Asmodeus to repay his debt and fight on the side of the Titan Order (Not that much compulsion will be required; Asmodeus keeps his word).
The Asmodean Tieflings are descendants of the angels who set their swords aside, and refused to commit one way or the other during the great battle for Baator. Although Asmodeus was disgusted by their lack of conviction for their master, he kept his word and offered them amnesty for their treachery. He gave them his infernal blessing, and marked them as his children, to protect them from the divine retribution of the other gods.
Asmodeus knows better than most that the Gods are not truly immortal. He knows that Titan Death will come for him, as it came for his master. He trains Glasya to take over for him some day, somewhat naievely unaware that his death may indeed come by her hand.
Glasya was born mortal, and raised to her current station after she awakened the spark of divinity within herself. She is an immaculately beautiful woman who demands terrifying perfection from her servants. On the surface, she is unwaveringly loyal to her father. She parrots his ideals, and makes displays of public devotion to his vision of a perfectly just cosmos. In reality, she is the worst of the scheming lot of devils. She is a patron of thieves and assassins, because she secretly hopes to find someone capable of stealing away her father’s sword, or his ruby rod. She is unaware that Mephistopheles would absolutely block any real threat to Asmodeus, unless they prove themselves to be as useful to Mephistopheles as her father is.