Bel

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The Lord of the First in several editions of the game (in some prior editions this role was held by Tiamat), Bel is the Hells' premier success story, though in truth he's effectively gotten himself promoted into a corner (no, not a corner office). He frequently uses treachery, double-crossing and ambushes to further his agenda.

History[edit]

Bel started out as a powerful Pit Fiend general in service to the Dark Eight, the devil generals in charge of the Blood War. His campaigns against the demons resulted in success after success until he seemingly changed sides and joined the Tanar'ri. When he gained their trust he led them into a battle against the devils, only to betray his demon allies and have them all killed by his forces. He returned to Baator as a hero and became the right-hand devil of Zariel, a fallen angel and then-archduke of Avernus. He served her many centuries and eventually became her lover. This became her undoing as Bel turned her court against the fallen angel and overthrew her. He somehow managed to capture her and slowly strip her of her powers while he declared himself the new Lord of Avernus. Of course, given the fact that they are both devils and he has a long history of working as a deep-cover agent, it could just be an elaborate sex thing. Devils are big on S&M.

He prepared himself from an invasion from the other Archdukes in an attempt to overthrow him and claim Avernus for themselves, but instead he was visited by Martinet, the constable of Asmodeus. He informed Bel that Asmodeus congratulated him on his guile and skill, and was willing to accept him as the new Lord of the First, on the condition that Bel retained his position as a general to the Dark Eight. Somewhat relieved at these terms, Bel accepted. But as is common to those who make deals with devils, he discovered something a little too late: his new duties as the main overseer of the hellish "homefront" of the Blood War meant that he had less time to spend politicking with the rest of the Lords, effectively cutting himself off from further advancement in their hierarchy. The other Archdukes of Hell did not really mind this: they all saw the Pit Fiend as a double-crossing upstart and none of them were willing to accept him as an ally. The only one who sees Bel as more than a nuisance is Asmodeus himself, but even then the Overlord of Hell doesn't really think very highly of him. Funny how for all his previous scheming and undeniable martial prowess (tested daily by the claws, fangs, blades, and spells wielded by the endless hordes of Demonic invaders), Bel was left with the unenviable position of being the Nine Hells' biggest guard dog--in other words, he is in charge of the necessary, even vital, task of keeping the invading Demons out of the lower layers of the Nine Hells, but by earning this "reward" he has exhausted any intraplanar avenues for advancement in Hellish politics. Being effectively outside of the political struggle is a double edged sword - while he cannot hope to advance under current circumstances, he is also the only Archduke who doesn't have to worry about his position so he can spend all day taking names and fucking bitches without having to worry about another Archduke's dagger in his back.

As a realist who is somewhat resigned to his lot and who knows he needs all the help he can get just to keep the demons at bay, day after day (what with the Archdukes of the other layers and even the Lawful Evil deities residing on his layer, such as Tiamat and Kurtulmak, being less-than-enthusiastic about aiding him) he is the sole Archduke of Hell who is the most willing to give anyone who can offer credible assistance to his cause a fair hearing. If adventurers approach him with offers regarding taking the fight to the Tanar'ri he is more than willing to listen. Mortals who treat him with respect and without duplicity will find a surprisingly reliable ally, unmatched in the Nine Hells. But if they try to deceive him or fail in their promises, he will display all the rage and cruelty one would expect from an Archduke. He may never be short of demonic punching bags to take out his devilish anger and frustration out on, but he is a devil through and through, and is still one of the nine most powerful devils in all Hell, regardless of his dead-end job.

...But in 5e he and Zariel swapped positions again due to him temporarily loosing his entire FUCKING LAYER to demons, so maybe there's some hope for him now. He makes a major appearance in Descent into Avernus, which also added to the retcon that Zariel is the janey-come-lately newly-fallen angel who got put in charge of his operation rather than the original Demon Prince he usurped, and serves as a useful patron for the PCs in a plot to regain his home. True to form, he doesn't even screw them on the deal. Oh, he leaves out lots of crucial and useful information to manipulate them into doing what he wants, but since their goals (probably) align with his, he sees no reason why they shouldn't get Zariel to give up this devil phase, go back to being an angel, and save the city falling into the lair. After all, it puts him in a position to reclaim what's his, and if the demons happen to overrun the layer in the meanwhile, well, what a shame, but it just goes to demonstrate how important he really is... and if they fail, well, they're likely to shatter her plans anyway, undermining her within Baator's hierarchy.

Then again, that could potentially backfire on him if one of the PCs decides they want to be in charge, and Asmodeus decides he likes their moxie and promotes them to archdevil on the spot. And Tiamat could potentially make a power play of her own. But, at the end of the day, Bel, like the cool-headed pragmatist he is, understands he can't control the situation in its entirety and makes the move that gives him the greatest chance of success towards the highest reward with the least risk.

Also, if the party are dicks to him, he still doesn't actually attack them because what is he, a barbarian?

The Archdukes of Hell
Avernus Bel or Zariel
Dis Dispater
Minauros Mammon
Phlegethos Belial/Fierna
Stygia Levistus
Malbolge Glasya
Maladomini Baalzebul
Cania Mephistopheles
Nessus Asmodeus