Posts Tagged ‘Fifth Edition D&D’

Let’s talk about an Archduke of the Nine Hells! Both of my Exploration Age games that started during the launch of fifth edition are wrapping up. One campaign has a single session remaining! The entire story culminates in a battle with Bel, the former Archduke of Avernus, the first layer of the Nine Hells. (Note, if you’re unfamiliar with Bel, he’s mentioned briefly in the Nine Hells section of the Dungeon Master’s Guide on page 65 and in the old third edition source book Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells).

In my campaign the player characters formed an alliance of necessity with Bel. They had common enemies. Bel gave the characters the power to take out some very formidable aberrations in exchange for helping to reinstall him as the Archduke of Avernus. It turns out the characters were being used by the crafty devil to take out his rivals. Now all they are all that stands in the way of Bel turning their home plane into a brand new hellscape.

Since I needed to stat out this legendary fiend for my party to take on, I thought I’d share the mechanics with all of you! Take a look. You can grab Bel’s stats in the free PDF linked below and in the Free Game Resources page of this site. (Note: My version of Bel is extra powerful. He’s the campaign’s ultimate villain and he’s gained a lot of power thanks to the adventurers. I estimate his normal Challenge Rating would be somewhere in the low to mid 20s. Reducing his hit points, damage output, and AC and then replacing his Limited Magic Immunity with Magic Resistance is an easy way to make that adjustment.)

Bel: Not Your Average Pit Fiend

Image from the Forgotten Realms Wiki.

Image from the Forgotten Realms Wiki.


Bel is no ordinary pit fiend. The ground shakes and all but the strongest archdevils are cowed when the legendary general walks by.

Asmodeus Above All. Bel is the former and present general and adviser of Zariel, the current ruler of Avernus by decree of Asmodeus. During Zariel’s first reign, Bel served his mistress loyally, until she plotted to overthrow Asmodeus. Bel betrayed Zariel in order to please his greater master Asmodeus. As a reward for his loyalty, Bel became the Archduke of Avernus when Zariel was overthrown. Overtime Zariel proved her loyalty to Asmodeus once again and Bel fell from the dark god’s favor. Zariel once again ruled Avernus and Bel was demoted. This was the will of Asmodeus, and though the decision was a slap in the face to Bel, he respects the hierarchy of the Nine Hells above all. It is an insult to serve Zariel, who delights in keeping Bel as an advisor, but he will not go against the word of Asmodeus.

Coveter of Power. Though Bel will not directly oppose or betray Asmodeus, he still desires his old station as Archduke of Avernus. To this end Bel seeks creatures who operate outside of the hierarchy of the Nine Hells. Bel’s plots are layered and complex. The strange bedfellows he makes are often unwitting adventurers who don’t realize the true consequences of their actions until it is too late. Bel seeks Zariel overthrown again, this time permanently, or a way to coerce Asmodeus.

Dangerous Deceiver. Bel is an engaging liar. He forges perfectly worded contracts that have deceived ancient gold wyrms into handing over their souls. The devil can look into the soul of any person and tell them exactly what they want to hear in order to get his desired reaction.

Brilliant General. For centuries Bel has been leading armies of devils in Avernus, the first line of defense against the Nine Hell’s incoming threats, namely demons from the Abyss. He has been fighting the Blood War for as long as he can remember and the fact that he has survived and thrived in this environment is a testament to his strategic mind and the loyalty of his troops.

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UPDATE: The statistics for these catastrophic dragons have been moved, but fear not! You can now grab them in a totally awesome Pay What You Want PDF on the DMs Guild.

Know what’s pretty terrifying and gripping? A volcanic eruption. When you see volcanoes erupt in nature films part of your brain says, “That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.” The other half of your brain is like, “This is sweet! Nature is crazy!”

Last week I explored bringing fourth edition’s catastrophic dragons into fifth edition D&D. The blizzard and earthquake dragons were first on my list. Today I’d like to share the volcanic dragon with you. This dragon is the baddest of the bunch and has an attitude to match.

A Recap Of Catastrophic Dragons in General

Here are a few quick words about my take for catastrophic dragons. This is from my first post last week. You can just skip ahead of you’ve already been reading these posts.

Catastrophic dragons were once chromatic dragons who desired more than a hoard and a lair. For while others stole and hid from the humanoids over whom they claimed superiority, these dragons knew that all other life in the multiverse should be bowing to their will. Power is a far greater reward than any material possession and as the smartest and strongest in the land, dragons deserved to be in charge. Any thought other than this was impractical and stupid.

These dragons tried to convince their brethren to leave their caves and make the humanoids submit to their will. The other chromatic dragons did not like this sudden interest in the affairs of lesser beings and so with greater numbers they did come together. They banished their radical kin to the elemental planes. For hundreds of years these rebellious chromatic dragons were locked in seas of fire, ice, wind, and stone. Those who did not die were shaped by elemental forces and remade into catastrophic dragons.

Each trapped catastrophic dragon has its imprisonment tied to the soul of a chromatic dragon on the material plane. If one of these gatekeeper chromatic dragon should die before it can pass the responsibility onto another, the catastrophic dragon can leave the plane of its imprisonment and wreak havoc on the world.

Catastrophic dragons once wanted to dominate all life in the multiverse. After years of suffering the harsh terrain of the elemental planes, their minds are warped and they desire only to kill all those inferior to them, especially chromatic dragons whom they hate above all others.Their memories are long and catastrophic dragons do not forget their betrayal at the hands of their kin. If they escape their bonds, they may keep a hoard, but usually only for the purpose of attracting other dragons and killing them.

Volcanic Dragons

Volcanic dragons have skin made of barely cooled molten rock. Cracks in their skin large and small show off the dragon’s glowing lava insides, which grow brighter as the dragon becomes more agitated. Heat and embers radiate from the dragon’s form and getting too close can result in a toxic death before the dragon ever lays claws onto a victim. A dry heat wave heralds the volcanic dragon’s approach.

Righteous Rage. Like all catastrophic dragons, rage constantly simmers in the heart of the volcanic dragon. The rage of the volcanic is one of a wronged creature out for justice. Volcanic dragons see the destruction of life as their righteous mission. As the mutliverse’s superior beings they must destroy any non-elemental they come across as just punishment for their imprisonment. Most carry this twisted belief in their heart until the end of their days.

Chromatic Hunters. With a warped idea of justice in their minds, volcanic dragons are the dragons most likely to hunt and kill chromatic dragons. Since they share a love of volcano lairs, volcanic dragons will often challenge an established red dragon and try to take its home. These battles are brutal, as both creatures are unaffected by the heat and must use claws and jaws to battle.

A Volcanic Dragon’s Lair

Volcanic dragons tend to create lairs in their namesake. Since many volcano lairs are occupied by red dragons, volcanic dragons do not build their own, but rather siege the lair of a red dragon, kill the host, and claim the volcano as their own.

Volcanic dragons do make modifications to their stolen homes. They open cracks in the walls of the tunnels, allowing even more lava and noxious fumes inside to make the place habitable only by creatures who fear neither fire nor poison. Pieces of the defeated red dragon’s corpse are mounted here and there as a show of the volcanic dragon’s dominance.

The cunning volcanic dragons rig their lairs with all manner of unexpected traps as well. Knowing their opponents may have prepared with spells and items to help them resist flames, volcanic dragons often create magic traps which deal acid, cold, and lightning, to show any who might think themselves clever that they cannot hope to outsmart a cunning dragon in its home.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s site.

I sit down with Rudy Basso, Alex Basso, Joe Lastowski, and Vegas Lancaster to talk about the latest fifth edition D&D news. We cover the announcement about extra pages in the Monster Manual, the previews for the tiefling race and hermit background, and kickstarters for fifth edition material before the OGL has been released. This podcast was recorded on July 20, 2014.

Philly N Crowd
What the Average Joe Thinks

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!