First, some taxonomy
Demons: Aliens that are recognizably alive but not derived from human stock. Carbon based lifeforms, or close enough in any case. Maybe not understandable to human sensibilities but physics and such still apply.
Daemons: Bizarro shit. Sentient colors, extra dimensional shamblers, the echoes of an infinite unknowable existence breaking into our universe, rearranging the furniture, and fucking our wife.
Devils: Human derived monsters originating from the star Carbax. Basically what springs to mind when people think of D&D fiends. The focus of this post. Read more here.
Ceras and Nereyl were the first Devil Princes – this much is well known. What is not so well known is that they themselves are not devils. They were regular humans who ascended to their current godlike state through unique and (hopefully) unrepeatable means. Each of them inherently lacks one of the two things necessary to create a devil:
- energy of the star Carbax, a red hypergiant maintained by Ceras
- degenerate neutron matter from the hollowed out core of Nemesis, Nereyl’s domain
- some form of sentience
They created the first devils, and the rest of the Princes are true and proper devils. All true devils have all of these things, regardless of their form. Although, some are so violent so as to not be recognizably sapient/sentient.
The infusion of Carbaxian energy and neutronium makes them monstrously strong for their size. Even shitty little lemures pack a surprising punch – their issue is a lack of leverage/limbs to apply their strength through. Manes can tear a human apart with their bare hands, but lack reach and motivation and are tremendous cowards besides. And they need to be strong to carry their own weight, as the even molecular amounts of neutronium in their bodies means they weigh anywhere from three to twenty times what they should based on visual inspection. So deep water and rope bridges are generally a bad time for them. Aquatic (free-swimming) and airborne devils are quite rare because of the difficulty of creating them (the wings are actually a separate, magical organism grafted onto the devil) so most Princes that feel the need outsource to mutated humans or demons. For example, Affra employs hordes of human-mosquito hybrids.
Model A : Pit-thing
The first devils created were formed directly from human stock, and born in the Pit, the aforementioned hollowed out core of the now-dead neutron star Nemesis. This is the only place on Nemesis where the gravity won’t immediately crush anything flat, because Gauss’s law also works for mass and gravitation, and can be applied because the neutron star is going to be nearly perfectly spherical. In fact, the only noticeable gravity is that created by Nereyl, who also prevents the star from collapsing inward, a feat of magic possibly the equal Ceras’s zombification of an entire star.
But I digress. Nereyl, with the donation of Ceras’s energy, implanted the first humans with neutronium to make the first devils. The new creations were humans, but improved- Nereyl was and is a master of manipulating the lifeforce and genetics of living things. First she added a few ‘obvious’ improvements. This is when they got their resistance to most weapons, darkvision, and affinity for magic.
However, the Pitborn were not the final product, but instead a template to build the rest of devilkind. So, she made the new creations willing vessels of diabolic energy – they could manifest supernatural abilities through infusion of more diabolic energies. Furthermore, their forms were mutable. This made devilkind versatile and easily adaptable for specialized roles by Ceras, Nereyl, and later the assorted princes and their lieutenants.
One of the basic skills of a diabolist is the ability to identify devils by sight, including the prince they serve. This is usually straightforward, because the obvious characteristics and design proclivities of the Prince shines through – all of them are massive egoists. They make both species of devils, which are easier to identify, but oft-times harder to pin to a specific prince, since they usually don’t change forms from their ‘generic’ model promulgated by the prince who first made them. The princes also make unique servants, which are quite quick to identify once you know they’re a devil, but may not even register as devils on first inspection.
A quick 10 minute guide of the princes and their chosen devils would look something like this:
Melsh- They look like modern depictions of angels. Most likely to have wings. Frequently have brazen skin as well. All his devils have a ‘face’ form and a ‘true’ form. Many of the devils’ true forms are actually fucked up kronenberg monsters, which are revealed if too much damage is sustained.
Kadon- Imagine the stock red devil, but give it the head and/or tail of a wild beast. Big fan of making his guys huge, as well. Devils in the forms of weapons were also his idea.
Pilact- Weird statues with extra sets of limbs/heads/faces. Marble-like skin, fixed expressions, voices booming out from somewhere else. The more limbs a Milllion devil has, the more powerful it is. Up to ten arms has been seen and survived. Speculated progenitor of hechatoncheires. Also makes many structures and monoliths.
Juvias- Really, anything goes. Just a mess. Responsible for the really weird ones like non-bilateral symmetry, geometric shapes, nearly pure energy beings.
Affra- Succubi, Incubi, Concubi, you’ve seen this before. Shapeshifters are her specialty*. Many of them are bilaterally halved into different colors and forms. Insectoid forms as well.
Garal- Usually gilded or silvered skin, sometimes made entirely out of precious metal. Lots of embedded gems. Often obese or anorexic.
Elact and Voath- A lot of metal and cenobite shit. Some of their devils look more like constructs, and some big/powerful ones look more like buildings.
Foroth- Anything distinctly ape-like. Eyeballs also a common motif. Lastly, aquatic and crustacean-likes also tend be servants of Foroth, owing to Yiol’s deep oceans.
Nereyl- Purely zoological forms are usually her idea. Skulls are common, bloated, greenish, diseased skin also common. Trypophobe’s nightmare. Often appear to have other devils growing out of them- in reality, these were grafted on.
Ceras- Frequently mistaken for undead. Most of his devils are ‘layered’ in the sense that their outer shell(s) can be destroyed with no damage to their smaller interior forms (which can themselves vary quite a bit from the outside). This makes killing such a devil a real pain in the ass.
*All devils are shapeshifters, who can subtly influence their own appearance by simply willing it so, or even unconsciously. However, these changes can take years or decades. Affra’s are much faster, of course.
The New Creations, and the Soulwells
In the good old days, every devil started out as a Pit-thing, which was created directly from a human. and was transformed to whatever form later. However, this raised a few problems. First, the devils were lacking as servants – they retained memories from their human life, including bonds, ambitions, and beliefs from that time. Second, their human minds took poorly to transformations, particularly the less humanoid ones, and they tended to go mad, in addition to lacking body sense/instincts for their new forms. Lastly, the creation process was expensive, and the new servants too few.
The solution to this was to separate and systemize the implantation of that critical third ingredient – sentience. The devils found that sentience could be boiled down, put into its base form stripped of memory, instinct, personality. The aforementioned boiling takes place in a nanometer thick layer of Carbax – a great shell of human sentience, visibly glowing sodium-orange. It is visible because it is the souls of millions are forced into a comparatively tiny space- this is where your soul goes if you make a pact with a devil. It will also be screaming loud enough to deafen, because they are suffering immensely. The layer below them is essentially magma, for a start, but the more advanced modes of torture are too gruesome to document here. The torture is necessary to cleanse and purify their sentience, and render it into the goop like form that can be transplanted in flesh.
Finally, this new sentience could be divided, planted, and grown anew. A full human mind is unfitting for a manes or a lemure, but a standard unit of LCL-human sentience plasma might do the trick.
This also led to the new basic unit of devilkind – the imp. An imp is a devil that has developed enough of a mind to be recognizably sentient, as opposed to nascently so. They can speak, think, and so on. They are also now usually sworn to some Devil Prince or lieutenant or the other, which effects the form they take. Rising to this rank can take centuries in its natural course. The quick way is to ‘eat’ a human soul (a common general practice amongst the devils) either by managing to kill a human or receiving a soul from a superior. Human souls basically function like a form of currency in devil society, though they have more traditional pecuniary methods as well.
Digression: Because modern pit-things are essentially deformed into their current states, they gain the black sclera, chitinous protrusions, non-melanistic skin colors, vestigial tails/wings, subtle asymmetries, and omnipresent horns that devilkind is known for. The earliest pit-things were entirely human in appearance.
The devils are moribund. Their two progenitors, Ceras and Nereyl, are now enemies. Critically, they each control one of the crucial ingredients required to make new devils, and they aren’t in a mood to share. Nereyl has almost all the neutronium that isn’t currently in devil’s bodies, and no direct source to the energies of Carbax. This is the reason for her devils’ diseased, sunken appearances – the neutronium is literally tearing into their flesh, without the energy to ‘hold’ it in place. This is also why they graft other devils onto them- they can serve as a conduit for the energy, for a while.
Meanwhile, Ceras and the Princes have no access to neutronium, other than the devils they already have- whenever a devil dies, they go to great efforts to retrieve the body, so as to recycle the neutronium. Every culture in the world has superstitions regarding the keeping (don’t) and safe disposal (as far away from human habitation as possible, as quickly as possible) of devil bodies, because usually a few devils will be sent to recover it. This has also made diabolical taxidermy an extremely lucrative prestige trade, but I digress again.
Practically no new devils have been made since the schism, and many were lost in the wars that followed. Devil kind is depleted, and dying still. The halls of the devilish realms are filled with demons, cultists, and undead, if they are filled at all. The Golden Age of Deviltry has long since ended, its remnants clinging to the shade of a star that will long outlive them.