The Lords of the Nine Hells are fictional characters in the core Dungeons & Dragons setting. The lords outlined in this article are the highest-ranking devils in the Nine Hells of Baator. They include the Dark Eight—the eight generals of the Blood War — and the Lords of the Nine — the nine lords (ten, counting both Lords of the Fourth) who each rule one of the nine layers of the plane.
The Dark Eight
The Dark Eight are the generals of the Blood War. These eight pit fiends hold immense power, but they must still answer to the Lords of the Nine, and ultimately, they answer to Asmodeus. They hold council every sixty-six days.
The pit fiends of the Dark Eight are Baalzephon, Corin, Dagos, Furcas, Pearza, Zapan, Zaebos, and Zimmimar. They rule the devils beneath them and meet in the fortress of Malsheem in the ninth layer of Nessus. Other than planning the next Blood War offensive, they also have the power to determine which devils get promoted.
When they are not leading their armies (which is a rare occasion, indeed), they reside in Nessus. When away on some errand of hellish nature, they often appear in malefic human guise.
The group was originally called the Dark Nine (reflecting the plane's nine layers, of course). The ninth member to this illustrious gathering was Cantrum, who was acknowledged by the rest as their leader. Cantrum was murdered by a disgruntled underling, and instead of trying to replace their irreplaceable leader, the rest re-organized and called themselves the Dark Eight.
Lords of the Nine
The Lords of the Nine are the rulers of the Nine Hells. They are also called the archdevils, the Archdukes of Hell, and the Lords of Hell. They each control one of the plane's nine layers and are the most powerful and highest-ranking devils. Unlike the chaotic demon princes of the Abyss, the Lords of the Nine (and all the baatezu of the Hells for that matter) are arranged in a strict hierarchy. The lord of the first layer has the lowest rank of the nine archdevils, while the lord of the ninth layer has the highest rank. While the demons of the Abyss answer only to their own basic instincts, every single devil, at least in theory, answers to the Lord of the Ninth.
Lord of the First: Bel
Bel is a pit fiend of great power who controls Avernus. He resides in his personal fortress in the center of the Bronze Citadel. As well as being Lord of the First, Bel is a general in the Blood War, although not one of the Dark Eight. He betrayed the former Lord of the First, Zariel, in order to gain his current position. It is rumored by his subordinates that Bel still keeps Zariel prisoner somewhere deep within the Bronze Citadel so that he can absorb her power into himself, increasing his own abilities while slowly reducing her to a mere soul shell.
Bel does not have the support of the other Lords of the Nine, who often call him the Pretender. He has curried some favor with Asmodeus by spying on other lords and passing on the information to Martinet, the constable of Asmodeus. He also has the support of the Dark Eight, support that should not be overlooked.
Lord of the Second: Dispater the Archduke
The Lord of the Second, Dispater, controls the layer of Dis from his Iron Tower. It is unknown what type of devil he is, other than that of an archdevil. He usually appears as a humanoid of supernatural height with dark hair, tiny horns, resplendent garb, and a single cloven foot. He always holds a rod of great power, his badge of office.
Dispater never takes risks and thus rarely ever leaves his Iron Tower, and then, only to the call of Asmodeus. In the politics of Baator, Dispater and Mephistopheles, Lord of the Eighth, are allies and are usually scheming against Baalzebul, Lord of the Seventh.
Lord of the Third: Mammon the Viscount
Mammon, the Lord of the Third, rules over the layer of Minauros. He rules from the center of the city of Minauros, inhabiting a mausoleum-like structure of vast proportions. He is an archdevil who resembles a thirty-foot-long serpent with a human head, arms, and torso. He also wields a harpoon-like spear.
During the Reckoning of Hell, a failed rebellion against Asmodeus, Mammon allied with Dispater and Mephistopheles against Asmodeus. When Asmodeus finally proved victorious, Mammon was the first to abase himself before him, gaining the enmity of the other Lords.
Lords of the Fourth: Lady Fierna and Archduke Belial
Fierna and Belial, the Lords of the Fourth, rule the layer of Phlegethos. They reside in the city of Abriymoch in a palace of jagged obsidian built on one lip of the caldera.
Fierna and Belial are archdevils who resemble slightly devilish-looking humanoids. Fierna fights with a blade of fire that she summons at will and Belial, with a mighty ranseur.
Fierna is Belial's daughter. Belial allows her to wear the mantle of leadership in public, but in reality, the two rule the layer of Phlegethos together.
Lord of the Fifth: Prince Levistus
The Lord of the Fifth, Levistus, rules over the layer of Stygia. He appears as a six-foot-tall humanoid with very pale skin, dark hair, and a goatee. Were it not for his entirely black eyes and pointed teeth, he could pass for a human. In the days of his freedom, he wore loose, silken clothing and carried a glistening rapier. However, at the moment, he is visible only as a black speck a mile beneath the ice of the glacier.
Asmodeus imprisoned Levistus in ice for a past betrayal. He is frozen deep within an iceberg known as Levistus's Tomb that floats in the middle of the harbor of the city of Tantlin. Asmodeus allows Levistus to telepathically communicate with other devils within a ten-mile radius.
Lord of the Sixth: The Hag Countess
The Hag Countess, the Lord of the Sixth, is the ruler of the layer of Malbolge. She is actually not a devil but a supremely powerful night hag from the plane of Hades.
The archdevil Moloch once ruled this layer, but he was cast down when he defied Asmodeus during the Reckoning—the general rebellion that ripped through the Nine Hells ages ago. Most authorities acknowledge that it was the Hag, one of Moloch's most trusted advisors, who counseled Moloch to rebel. The Hag was then set in his place as Lord of the Sixth, and Moloch fled and went into hiding.
The Hag Countess resides in a stronghold that is the core of a mountain-sized boulder which perpetually rolls down the slopes of Malbolge. None of her nobles know exactly where it is or on what path it rolls. When she occasionally visits them in their copper fortresses, the nobles host her, though they rarely know that it is her for her expert disguises.
Lord of the Seventh: Baalzebul the Archduke
Baalzebul, the Lord of the Seventh, rules over the layer of Maladomini. He was once an archon of Mount Celestia named Triel, but he was cast down into the Nine Hells, and soon after, Asmodeus promoted him to devilhood in a dread ritual. Baalzebul climbed the ranks of devilry, eventually becoming Lord of the Seventh, deposing the earlier Lord and expunging all mention of that entity. Baalzebul is also called the Lord of Flies, as it is said that not even a fly can escape his net of intrigues.
Baalzebul strives for devilish perfection in all things. Thus, Maladomini is dotted with ruined, abandoned cities, and petitioners are constantly building new cities for the Lord of the Seventh. Newer cities are built atop the ruins of older ones. As each city is finished, Baalzebul's dissatisfaction forces his subjects to begin anew.
Baalzebul currently resides in the city of Malagard, a beautiful city still under construction, with perfectly straight boulevards, fountains of delicate yet terrible visage, and towers that reach faultlessly straight into the blood-black sky.
To punish Baalzebul for plotting against him during the failed rebellion known as the Reckoning, Asmodeus transformed Baalzebul's formerly angelic body into a melted, sluglike form. As a result, Baalzebul now only openly plots against Mephistopheles, Lord of the Eighth, but his undying anger still burns for Asmodeus, as does his eternal ambition for the throne of the King of the Nine Hells.
Lord of the Eighth: Mephistopheles
Mephistopheles, the Lord of the Eighth, rules over the layer of Cania (or Caina). He resides in Mephistar, a blue-white citadel fashioned of ice that sits atop a fast-moving glacier called Nargus. The Lord of the Citadel, Mephistopheles, controls the movement of Nargus, sometimes causing it to flow over and obliterate lesser glaciers, as well as large numbers of rival fiendish armies caught unaware in Cania. Mephistopheles is served by gelugon nobles who abide in the warm sanctuary of Mephistar.
Mephistopheles appears as a nine-foot-tall humanoid with hell-red skin, horns, and wings. He prefers to wear dramatic capes of the ultimate blackness and carries a magic ranseur that burns eternally.
Mephistopheles once engineered his own coup, replacing himself with Baron Molikroth. However, Molikroth was just an alias of Mephistopheles, and that duplicity has now ended, as well as the lives of "Molikroth's" co-conspirators.
Mephistopheles failed to unseat Asmodeus during the Hells-wide rebellion known as the Reckoning. His largest rival is Baalzebul, and his court runs thick with plots against the Lord of the Flies.
Lord of the Ninth: Asmodeus, King of the Nine Hells
Asmodeus, the King of the Nine Hells and Lord of the Ninth, is at the very least an archdevil, but he may possess the power of a true deity. He resides in Malsheem, located on the lowest layer of Baator, Nessus. He is rarely ever seen, and only when the elite of the Nine Hells gather in any one of a hundred different audience chambers does Asmodeus make his presence known, usually in the form of an unprepossessing humanoid with black hair, a black goatee, and eyes of flame.
Asmodeus has been challenged many times, most recently during the Reckoning—the Hells-wide rebellion that ended unsuccessfully—but never has he been defeated.
Rumors mention the possibility of older Kings of the Hells named Lucifer and Satan whom Asmodeus succeeded, but no trace of these beings save these rumors remains. (The process by which Asmodeus deposed Lucifer was the subject of a very early Dragon magazine article, "The Politics of Hell," in issue #28, but this idea was later dropped and only resurfaced in a vague reference in the Book of Vile Darkness.)
Lords of the Nine in the First Edition of Dungeons & Dragons
The original Lords of the Nine in the Dungeons & Dragons games, harking back to the first edition of the game, are as follows:
- Tiamat the Chromatic Dragon, lord of Avernus
- Dispater, lord of Dis
- Mammon, lord of Minauros
- Belial, lord of Phlegethos
- Geryon, lord of Stygia
- Baalzebul, lord of Malbolge, through Grand Viceroy Moloch. It was revealed Beherit was the original ruler.
- Baalzebul, lord of Maladomini
- Mephistopheles, lord of Caina (a typo in later editions officially changed the spelling of the layer to Cania)
- Asmodeus, lord of Nessus.
In the second edition of the game, the Lords of the Nine were initially erased from the game. Later on, they were re-instated, but several of the members deliberately resemble little from the original nine. After the initial period of the second edition, an effort was made to bridge the changes; thus Baron Molikroth was revealed to actually be Mephistopheles in another guise, and Triel was revealed to be Baalzebul's name before he fell from grace. Late into the second edition and continuing into the third and current edition of the game, Fierana (later Fierna) became Belial's daughter.
Geryon and Moloch remain exiled and bereft of their former positions, and Tiamat's position has been clarified to explain that she was never a member of the Lords of the Nine, despite the very early inclusion of her as Lord of Avernus in the first edition.
- Cook, Monte (2002). Book of Vile Darkness. Wizards of the Coast, Inc. ISBN 0-7869-2650-3
- Cordell, Bruce R., Jeff Grubb, and David Noonan. Manual of the Planes (September 2001), Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1850-8
- Pramas, Chris; Mohan, Kim (Ed.) (1999). A Guide to Hell. Wizards of the Coast, Inc. ISBN 0-7869-1431-9