A 13 True Ways Preview
Chapter five of 13 True Ways is all about devils—those malevolent creatures from the Pit who delight in corrupting, binding and tormenting mortals. Where demons rage, devils persuade; where demons destroy, devils subvert and dominate.
Typically their role in your campaign depends on which icon you associate them with. If devils are most closely identified with the Archmage in your campaign, they are the servants and betrayers of wizards. If you prefer to tie them to the Elf Queen, they are haters and despoilers of beauty. If you choose to tie them to the High Druid, they work to transform the Wild into a desolate, industrial wasteland.
And then there are ideas that don’t follow the standard format tying the devils to icons. Some of these apply better to monstrous devils, and others work with the new covert devils you’ll find described for the first time in 13 True Ways.
Sisters to demons: Devils and demons are creatures of the Abyss, fighting on the same side. Devils embody compulsion, and demons embody license: the bonds that break you, and the breaking of boundaries. To improve the distinction between demons and devils, maybe assign each type its own gender (and not necessarily just male or female). Together, demons and devils are known as abyssals.
Alchemically powered terrors: An Archmage of ages past has been holed up in her pocket universe for centuries. Now, as the Artificer, she unleashes her unholy, piston-powered monsters on the world. From her secret vantage in a pocket universe, she sends forth her minions. Some are made of organic substances and are subtle enough to infiltrate society. Others are grinding, sparking terrors of steel, stone, and bone.
No demons: Exclude demons from the campaign and replace them with the devils. They plan not to wreck the world but to own it, and their battle with the Crusader is a civil war. The Diabolist’s magic is not about transgressing boundaries but about the compulsion of total need. Then use demons from the core rulebook as some other type of creature, such as the suggestions here for devils.
Demons’ bane: The campaign starts with no devils. Then the Abyss suffers fatal losses from a mysterious enemy, and the Crusader crushes the Diabolist. Hurray for civilization! The problem is that the devils that killed the demons have taken over the Abyss, and they’re draining the life from the Great Gold Wyrm.
Dimensional guardians: The last Summoner, who lived in ages past, trapped countless interdimensional beings in crystal cages. Break a cage, and a “devil” appears and fights to the death, or maybe a group of them. You never know when one will show up, or how many are left, or even how many different types of devils there are. Devils from different cages fight each other, so it doesn’t work well to summon too many to the same location. There have been no more Summoners since that one, but rumor has it that he’s in one of his own cages, so he could pop up any time.
Foreign legions: Devils are the magical creatures that guard a mythic location far outside the pale of civilization. The party has to travel to that location for an extended series of adventures. Maybe they are ferocious beast-creatures in a hellish jungle, or monk-like villains who rule the slopes of a sprawling volcano system. Once the heroes get back to civilization, they’ll never have to worry about devils again, that’s for sure.
Covert infiltrators: The devils are secular rather than unholy invaders from another dimension. The ones that operate in society are spies and saboteurs, and their machinations are Machiavellian rather than spiritual. The spies can summon in heavy hitting devils and even port them to the world permanently, but it’s the hooded devils that run things, not the pit fiends.
Trusted enforcers: For the first part of the campaign, devils are rare, elite enforcers bound to the service of the Archmage and to those he gives authority. In many ages, the secret of the devils is never rediscovered, but luckily the current Archmage figured it out. The devils have never turned on their masters or gated in even bigger devils. Maybe that’s true throughout the campaign. But it would be tough to get to the end of a campaign and have to rely on help from devils to accomplish your goals, all the while wondering if you’re going to be the first to be betrayed.
Creatures of sin: The covert devils are tempting people to sin and gathering the guilt of their crimes, storing it and channeling it to create the monstrous devils. When bearded devils first show up, no one has ever seen them before. Over time, the secret cult is arranging larger and more terrible instances of sin, creating and unleashing ever more fearsome devils, all in pursuit of their obscure goals.
Psionic intruders: Re-skin the covert devils as a group in their own right, a small population originally issued forth from a massive dungeon a few ages back. They insinuate themselves into civilization and manipulate things from within. They aren’t necessarily agents of world-shattering power, but they might be natural allies of the Prince and his doings.
Spawn of the Crusader’s blood: The campaign proceeds as normal until the Diabolist gets hold of the Crusader’s heartblood, perhaps as a gift from the Prince. She uses the blood to create the covert devils, which begin infiltrating her cult and then society at large. They pursue her goals as she gathers the artifacts necessary to spawn larger and more horrific monsters. One by one, successively more powerful “devils” are unleashed on the world. As for the Crusader, the official story is that he is as strong as ever and doing just fine.
Dark Gods’ minions: In the first part of the campaign, the heroes help the Crusader defeat the Diabolist. In so doing, he gains the power to summon the Dark Gods’ fiercest minions: the devils. In the second part of the campaign, the heroes battle the Crusader, who uses his Dark Gods’ devilish minions to undermine the Empire and crush his enemies.
A flying island called the Pit: This large flying island is a double volcano, with one peak pointing up into the overworld, and the second one pointing down toward the land, with dark storm clouds swirling between them. The island is home to a legendary race of tyrannical beings, the devils. The Pit is a threat for civilization, capable and ready to drop lava on Axis, and the Pit’s covert spies have already infiltrated the halls of power.
13th Age is a d20-rolling fantasy roleplaying game by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet. It combines the best of fantasy gaming tradition with new rules to help you create truly unique characters, quickly prepare battles and adventures, enjoy fast, freewheeling combat, and tell epic stories at the table. Pick up 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.