Devils, Demons, and The Bloodiest War

The next release from Wizards of the Coast is rapidly approaching. Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, a book all about the various, long-standing conflicts of the Dungeons and Dragons multiverse, looks to be a fantastic addition to fifth edition and it’s arriving on May 18, 2018, in game stores. Over the last few months, we’ve had spouts of information come out about the book, including the names of the six chapters within.

Leading up to the book’s release, I’ll be going over the six chapters, discussing the history behind each of them, and speculating about what new tales could be within!

This week, I’m looking at the Blood War.

Since the inception of the multiverse, law has fought against chaos. This battle has taken many forms, but none are as brutal and longstanding as the conflict between devils and demons. Known by all as the Blood War, this awesome piece of the D&D multiverse has an extended history, a ton of possible uses, and will be the expanded upon in the first chapter of Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes!

A Summarization

The Blood War is a conflict as old as time itself, spawned from the utter vitriol and hatred between devils and demons, fiends of diametrically opposed alignments. Though the war is retold in many different ways throughout many different worlds, the story generally goes like this:

The first battles between law and chaos are remembered by few, but all understand that the Blood War stemmed from these initial wars. The war pits the inhabitants of Hell against the denizens of the Abyss. The former are devils, masters of law, manipulation, and might, while the latter are demons, creatures of chaos, madness, and inccessance. Both factions are fiends and inherently evil entities.

Unfortunately for the fiends involved, neither side has been able to vanquish the other, resulting in a stalemate. Fortunately for the rest of the multiverse, there is still no end in sight, for if the devils were to win, everything would be enveloped in orderly evil, and if the demons were to be victorious, all order would vanish and only madness and evil would remain.

This ‘endless’ war isn’t just arbitrarily without end for the sake of everlasting conflict and plot hooks. Instead, it’s a stalemate for a few, excellent reasons. 

First, the two sides counter each other far too well. The devils have fewer combatants but are more organized, proficient in combat, and understanding of war in general. Yet, there are so many demons that they devils are unable to wipe them out. As one demon dies, two more take its place, forevermore. Second, the demons of the Abyss are constantly fighting with each other. While archdevils plot in secret, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike with minimal risk and backlash, demon princes attack their enemies without hesitation and care. Most of the time, it seems demons care more about gaining more territory in the infinite Abyss than slaying their mortal enemies. Last, some profit from the Blood War, such as a few archdevils in Hell and the yugoloths. They look to gain far more if the war were to continue indefinitely than if it ended swiftly with one side winning, and their actions or lack thereof proves this.

To summarize: The Blood War is an ancient conflict between demons and devils without an end in sight.

That’s cool and all, but how can we use the Blood War in our D&D games?

Using the Blood War as a Player

In most worlds, conflicts from other planes of existence spill onto the Prime Material Plane. The Blood War is no exception. If what you’ve read today sounded compelling, and you’d like to incorporate this bloody battle into your character in some way, you’re in luck!

  • A tiefling deserter of the Blood War, you’ve managed to escape to the Prime Material Plane with your life intact. However, your soul is still bound to your devil overlord, and she’s never let a deserter go unpunished.
  • Centuries ago, your ancestors made a pact with an ice devil to serve in the Blood War for tremendous power. You are the first of your line in three-hundred years to be free of this burden, but your family’s history has been shaped by it.
  • You discovered a relic of the Blood War a few years ago. While you know its origins, you’re sure its meaningless and forgotten...until demons begin to assault your dreams.

Using the Blood War as a Dungeon Master

Without the Blood War, there are still a plethora of ways to use demons and devils. However, with it, your fiends can have a deep history, a current and interesting situation, and a reason to seek the aid of adventurers. Looking for some plot hooks involving the Blood War? Look no further!
  • A pit fiend gifts an adventuring group an explosive weapon of immense power, on the condition that they infiltrate Demogorgon’s lair and use the weapon to cause the lair’s collapse. Will the party carry out the bargain, or betray the devil?
  • Demon cultists believe the key to winning the Blood War is hidden within the blood of the monarch’s youngest child. Are they right?
  • The god of justice decides the time has come for the Blood War to end and sends his angelic legions into the fiendish realms. Will he succeed? At what cost?

What’s Upcoming?

So, I’ve discussed the Blood War’s current history, and various uses for it as a player or a dungeon master, but what might we see in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes about this extraplanar melee? 

I hope to see a plethora of the combatants in the Blood War, from archdevils to demon princes (both of which are confirmed), as well as new demons, devils, and yugoloths. In addition, I hope they ‘update’ the Blood War’s status, meaning, I hope they throw a wrench into the mix. Perhaps Lolth has found a way to end the war or infiltrate Hell, or Asmodeus is prepared to assault the Abyss with all his strength. Finally, I’m really wishing that they’ll include various tables of plot hooks, villains, and character traits involving the Blood War. The tables they’ve included in their recent books are fantastic and ooze inspiration, and I’m really hoping for more in this book.

Next week, we’ll be talking about ELVES.

I’ll see you all then!

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