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As the most numerous fiendish occupants of Hell, the various forms of devils are well catalogued by diabolists. Most are known by two names: an evocative title given to the fiends by commoners and folklore, and an obscure, ancient designation spoken by the servants of Hell and those who would seek to deal with the damned.
Born from the foulest of mortal souls—their personalities and memories long since scoured by millennia of torment—would-be devils rise from the masses of suffering souls as lemures, revolting beings of mindless evil potentiality. Only through continued centuries of torture or by the edicts of more powerful devils do these least of devilkind rise to become deadlier fiends, graduating through a pain-wracked metamorphosis dictated by their masters or the infernal whims of Hell's semi-sentient layers. While fiendish lords wield transformation into greater or lesser forms as both prize and punishment, some devils spontaneously rise from particularly evil souls long trapped upon an infernal layer. Thus, although the various diabolical breeds possess recognizable abilities and hold generalized rankings in the great infernal hierarchy, a devil's type alone does not always correspond to a specific tenure of torment or place in the infernal chain of command.
Devils fill the nine layers of Hell, though certain fiends are more common on specific layers than others, their specialized duties or fealty to individual archdevils drawing them to one torturous domain more than others. Although the various types of devils tend to specialize in unique forms of depravity or temptation, the hierarchies of Hell are not without flexibility for uncommon individual talents. Thus, particularly watchful hamatulas might join the ranks of Phlegethon's bone devil inquisitors, while veteran barbazus might serve among the pit fiends of Nessus.
Beyond the pits of Hell, devils often travel to the Material Plane at the summons of evil spellcasters. Quick to bargain and willing to serve mortals to assure their damnation, devils ever obey the letter of their agreements, but serve the whims of Hell foremost. Thus, even the least of devilkind might come to the Material Plane intent on further corrupting souls, cleverly escaping the bonds of their contracts to indulge their own plots, or to further the unspeakable goals of the archdevils of Hell.
The Ranks of Devilkind
Diabolists speak often of the rankings of Hell, the distinctions made between devils that distinguish the foot soldiers from the commanders of Hell's armies. While such divisions mean little to most mortals—a devil being a deadly foe in any incarnation—the hierarchies and nuances of Hell's society carry distinctions vital to the survival of any who would commune with devils. What distinguishes a breed of devils above or below others is more than a matter of brawn, with several cunning types of fiend holding priority over their fundamentally stronger brethren. While a devil's station does not mean it can instantly command every other devil of inferior standing, it does imply which fiends might serve their brethren or hold influence over others.
Below these are the devil races themselves, from the lordly and malevolent pit fiends all the way down to the lowly, malformed lemure.
The Infernal Hierarchy
Listed here, from the absolute weakest devils to the lords of Hell, is the most basic hierarchy of the infernal realm's best-known denizens.
Least Devils: imps, lemures
Lesser Devils: bearded devils (barbazus), erinyes, barbed devils (hamatulas), bone devils (osyluths)
Greater Devils: horned devils (cornugons), ice devils (gelugons), pit fiends