What are Devils?
"When the world was unblemished and fresh, they woke up. Keeper-spirits, new-born, but already knowing. Before them was a virginal world, orderly and perfect, and in deepest fibres of their being the intent, to preserve that order. They had seen no gods; witnessed no great creation. All they knew was a simple directive to preserve the cogs of this living machine.
For a time, atoms spun as directed. The greatest continental drift or smallest heartbeat sung in harmony with cosmic orchestra.
Then, came the thinking races. Man, Elf, Dwarf and others. They tampered, and poked, and spat entropy in the eye of the universe.
For a time, this arrangement was elegant. A two-state solution on a meta-cosmic level. For a time, order persisted.
But there was a itch in the fibre. A sensation of ever present disappointment like a shadow on the mind. It deepened, and grew as the millennia flickered by. Still, the thinkers turned their minds to the dignity of nature, and tore it anew: with magicks; with new discoveries, with an endless, anarchic entrepreneurial instinct.
The tribes began to exceed their mandate. An atom here, a word here. Soon, one tribe exhorted the righteous to acts of crusade and zeal, and the other drew and tempted the mortals as much as they could, and cold war began. What had once been a cherished duty became a battlefield, and in the heart of the tempters was borne a tiny flicker of ambition, masked as duty.
Why do we not hold these mortals in thrall? Why do we not bring perfection with fire, and sword and word? Why do we not rule as we did before?"
The Great Devils jockey for dominion, and shame and undermine one another endlessly. This is not ambition, or competition, you understand – it is simply Devils asserting that logically the greatest at these games should lead, and those weak or inefficient fiends should be reduced. They number Eight.
There is in the minds of some scholars, a hypothetical Ninth. But he is a silent silhouette; taciturn. Whilst he is overseer of the games of the Eight, and they act in his name, he is utterly unknown to the mortals. Some scholars have claimed that The Chained Angel, parton god of Audenfeyr, or the Iron Tyrant, the One God, are in fact masks of the Ninth. This is all conjecture, and the Eight are not talking.
How do players interact with the Thousand Courts of Hell?
Cults of useful idiots serve some devil or other, in return of flimsy, momentary insertions of shiny metal or petty dominion over fellow mortals. That such baubles from the earth and meaningless trophies can buy an immortal soul is of intense amusement to Fiendkind. This is the lowest form of devils playing the Great Game.
Other mortals are given Power – real power – a portion of the power of the original spirits themselves. Warlocks and Willing Vessels are fairly common, if anathema to most.
There is also the path of the First and Most Terrible Sin: the Goetic Arts. To bind a Devil to your will is risky indeed, but promises power without limit.
Lastly, in the Iron City of Dis stands an army of stillness and perfection – the toy soldiers of an autistic god. It is the failsafe. The gift. Should the world be compromised – should all the usual methods fail – they shall march through the thinking races and slay ever man, woman and child. They will reign over an empire of perfect ash.