Lesser Devil
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As with the imps they originally were, lesser devils embody specific "impure" thoughts or "sins", and they strive to become stronger by encouraging and feeding on such thoughts and emotions. Like with imps, some of these thoughts, desires, and impulses might even be considered positive in some cultures and societies, but the devil will always twist it in a way that will allow it to dominate its victim more and more. Examples of this might be a devil of "Hope" who whispers to its victim that it will surely win at gambling next time, or a devil of "Mercy" who claims that it is all right to kill someone to end their suffering if they are in a lot of pain. Nevertheless, the most common devils correspond to the commonly accepted varieties of "sins". Typical examples are the devils associated with the so-called "cardinal sins" of the Thenaran faith:

Usually, lesser devils start by whispering to their victims in their dreams (or in the reverie of elves and sidhe). If the victim seems responsive to their urges, they will start talking to them during their waking hours. In the beginning, the victim might mistake these voices for their own subconscious, but eventually most will realize that another entity is sharing their mind. At this stage, the devil can only be driven out if a successful ritual exorcism is cast on it, though most lesser devils will eventually leave on their own if the victim resolutely stops listening to it and refuses to yield to temptation - though people capable of such strength of will generally don't attract devils in the first place.

The devil will try to tempt the victim to indulge in its chosen urge again and again, eventually driving him to extremely self-destructive behavior. If the victim dies while in the throes of the passions the devil has encouraged, the devil is able to use their link to swallow the soul of the victim and gain power from it. The devil has now access to the memories (though not powers) of the victim, and also can take his shape. Furthermore, the devil can now manifest next to the body of the victim in the Material Plane - usually appearing as the victim did in life. As restoring the victim to life with magic forces the devil to give up the soul, the first thing the manifested devil will do is to hide his victim's body.

Once in the material plane, the devil will usually attempt to establish a cult around it that allows it to feed from as many victims as possible. Banishing it magically or destroying its physical form will force a lesser devil to go back to Sheol, but it can manifest in the material plane anew once it finds a new victim (members of its cult with still active links to it work very well for this purpose) - or if a ritual caster actually summons it to this world.

Lesser devils can be very intelligent, but they usually start out as very narrowly focused on their own field of interest. This changes over time as they become more experienced and absorb the memories of a larger number of victims. Once they have swallowed enough souls, they can transform themselves into greater devils.

Adventure Ideas

Designer's Notes & Resources

This setup makes the motivations of devils understandable (no "Evil for Evil's sake" here) while still making them very, very nasty indeed.

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