Highway to Hell
The Fall of Asmodeus
The history of the Nine Hells is a long and conflicting story. Thousands of permutations exist, and both sides of the argument, the Gods and the arch-devil himself, lay the blame upon the other. The truth could be any combination of stories offered, or none at all. What actually happened those uncountable years ago may never been entirely revealed or understood, though Vecna, the God of secrets, and Ioun, God of knowledge, are notably silent on their understanding of the events. The following is a collection of the most common elements to these stories, presented with as little bias towards one side or the other as possible.
Untold eons ago, when the Dawn War still raged, Asmodeus was a simple angel. The name of the God he served under has been lost, though nearly every story agrees that it was not a God of this time. This God was soft and, in many stories, weak of spirit; the traits of a poor leader in difficult times. He could not stomach the thought of war, and granted more and more freedoms to his angels to deal with these events for him. This could be considered both a blessing and a curse to them: a blessing because it granted his angels a greater indepandance, both in thought and action, and a curse because it left them vulnerable to the corrupting nature of the Elemental Chaos. After centuries (as we understand time) of combat with the servents of the Primordials, Asmodeus, now an archangel and general in the armies of the Gods, led his followers in a coup of his God. The reasons given are various. Some stories say this forgotten God threw Asmodeus from grace in a fit of anger at the archangels brutal actions during the war. Some say that Asmodeus, corrupted by Chaos, joined the Primordials in a bid for power. Still others say that he had grown tired of serving a weak God, and sought to claim his divinity for himself. Whatever the reason, Asmodeus’ treasonous actions drew the attention of many other Gods.
The archangel and his followers were cast from the Celestial Realms, and nearly from the Astral Sea itself, coming to rest in what is now known as Baator, or the Nine Hells. This realm lay forgotten for some time, as Asmodeus fought with his own leutenants over rule of this new plane. When the struggle ended and the archdevil looked back to existance outside, he saw the Dawn War still carried on, with both sides weakened and struggling. Taking advantage of the location of Baator near the boarder of the Astral Sea and the Elemental Chaos, Asmodeus began dealing with entities on both sides of the war. He may have been thrown from grace, but he had been a powerful, skilled general for centuries, and his followers were veteran soldiers in the war. Neither side wanted him as an enemy.
The Gods appear to have made the better deal. Thus was signed the Pact Primeval. They granted Asmodeus the ability to act as a divine agent of punishment, to take those on the material plane who transgressed from the Gods and punish them. Unable to use the divine power of the Gods, they could instead gather power from the souls of those who would not go to other Gods. In effect, those who commited Evil of their own valition, outside of the dogmas and ideologies of the Gods, would belong to Asmodeus. The Gods thought to use this both to encourage worship of them and to ensure that such souls could not be claimed by the followers of the Primordials. In exchange, Asmodeus and his followers would aid the Gods in the Dawn War. The war continued, and eventually the Gods were victorious.
It was then that the Gods discovered the fine print in the pact they had signed with the archdevil. Buried among thousands of lines of documentation, devils were allowed to enter the material plane and tempt mortals to them, and could continue to drain the energy from the souls they took. While the Gods and their followers had been barred from entering the material by the Primal Spirits, Asmodeus had been overlooked by this, and devils were quickly swarming over entire material worlds, killing millions and claiming as many souls as possible. This divine energy was enough for Asmodeus to eventually raise himself to godhood. The Gods scoured the document carefully, and discovered their own loophole. They pronounced a divine decree trapping Asmodeus and his followers in Baator and barring them from leaving of their own valition. This greatly limited the actions of the devils, as they could only enter the material if summoned by mortals. The flood of souls into Baator slowed, and the tension between Asmodeus and the rest of the Gods has remained in the millenia since.
Tristy on the Creation of the Planes, Carnian Il’Sath