Going along with our infernal theme for the release of D&D’s newest adventure, Descent into Avernus, it feels like a good time to talk about a few lesser devils; Imps and Spined Devils. These two make ideal introductions to beings from the infernal plane as they are often used as scouts or spy’s by the armies of Hell. Though these lesser devils are low on the totem pole back home, one can easily see these devils guiding the actions of a cult or swaying a King/Queen behind the scenes; adding a nice twist to any adventure.
DM Tip: Remember, these are intelligent creatures that will make deals with mortals to further their own end. Though they themselves may not be the most powerful, all contracts signed by devils are upheld by Asmodeus himself.
Imps are the weakest of the lesser devils, but can still provide a unique challenge to players. Mainly their ability to shape-shift into small beasts like rats, ravens, or spiders. Add on top of that the Imps ability to turn invisible and you have a devil that can infiltrate anywhere on the mortal plane to begin spreading influence. Imps also love to serve powerful, but more importantly, evil masters. This is reflected in their ability to make a contract binding themselves to a master. I can already picture an adventure centered around a powerful Wizard, along with his raven familiar, that becomes consumed with a ritual that has the town worried. The party soon discovers the wizard has made a deal to summon a greater devil to this plane, and suddenly during a climatic battle, the raven reveals itself to be an Imp and springs at the party with his deadly sting attack!
Role Play- Keep in mind that Imps are the weakest of the lesser devils and crave nothing more than to be prompted up hell’s racks. Now, because Imps can move freely as a beast up here on the mortal plane, they have an easier time contacting and influencing mortals in positions of power. What better chance of getting prompted than to gift your superior with a fully corrupted Lord ready to wage war?
Once an Imp is prompted, it will transform, in a pretty hideous fashion I might add, into a Spined Devil. Still on the weaker side, Spined Devils are often used as messengers or spy’s in Hell’s army. The main quality, were the devil gets its name, is the long tail covered in spines that the devil can use whip at it’s enemies.. which of course burst into flames upon hitting their target, because.. well, devils? A fun level 1 adventure could begin with a party chasing down an Imp, but upon completing its contract, the Imp is rewarded and transforms into a Spined Devil right before the parties eyes. You can describe the crunching of bones, the extending of the tail, and growing sharp spines along its body. If the party defeats the fiend, you could have the devil remark that it will simply reform back in Hell, and will return for revenge. Devils are always good for a re-occurring villain in this way, and all while moving up the racks, this devil may return in yet another form in the future.
Tip- Spine Devils lack the infiltration skills of Imps, but can be used as more aerial support. Swooping down to terrorize a village is more their style. These are weaker creatures and will scatter or run when surrounded by a battle hardened party.