Friday, April 3, 2020

'The Politics of Hell' Books I & II - A 'What If' Infernal & Devilish Campaign Set Up For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition Or OSRIC

Let's play a game of 'What If' what would have happened if the trail blazing orange spines of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition reprint books had continued with those incredible pieces of cover artwork. James Panarella did some incredible Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition orange spine mock up covers of supplement books that we wish existed.  So I reached out through Facebook to James about three mock up book covers that absolutely hooked into my mind tonight & my imagination. Know I actually know James Panarella  writing from a book he wrote called, 'The Roleplayers'. That's a blog review for another time.  Now the Politics of Hell AD&D first edition books never existed but what if they did? What would be in them, how could they be used, & could one set up an infernal campaign with the first two for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition or even OSRIC?
Right now let's get back to Advanced Dungeons & Dragon's 'The Politics of Hell'. The year is 1989  Gary Gygax, Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grub, James Ward,Ed Sullivan, Frank Mentzer,  & a bunch of the TSR illumine get together & publish 'The Politics of Hell'.  The 'Satanic Panic' folks lose their ever living minds over the book. The fervor over the book propels it up the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons charts as a classic. The book clocks in at one hundred & twenty eight pages, has connections to Jeff Grub's Manual of the Planes, some new PC classes, several new articles on adventuring in Hell, details on the first six layers of Hell & it updates as well as expands upon "The Politics of Hell" by Alexander von Thorn originally appeared in issue number 28 (August 1979) of 'The Dragon'.

'The Politics of Hell' book takes the information found in "The Politics of Hell" by Alexander von Thorn & marries it up with Ed Greenwood's two-part article "The Nine Hells" was in Dragon magazine  issues 75 and 76 (July and August 1983). And "Nine Hells revisited"in Dragon magazine's issue number 91 (November 1984).

How is it married? Through the infernal powers described in 'The Monster Manual II' & "The Politics of Hell" by Alexander von Thorn kick everything off;

"Asmodeus has reorganized Hell to suit his purposes. Satan had originally divided Hell into nine distinct planes, in order to keep track of which damned soul went where (no pun intended). Asmodeus has dispensed with the old structuring and doled out the planes as sort of fiefdoms under his suzerainty. He kept the ninth plane as his personal demesne and granted the sixth and seventh to Baalzebul, out of respect for his previous service, making him the only devil to rule two entire planes personally. Dispater and Geryon were also granted entire planes because they were the first to support Asmodeus, and they have since been his most loyal followers. The other planes are divided among the other six dozen or so arch-devils. Astaroth was offered a plane, but he declined the responsibility. Asmodeus has used his position to increase his personal strength to the point that he is now the most powerful devil to be found on the nine planes of Hell. This is unheard of, but it was barely permissible by the Laws of the Multiverse because the departure of Satan and Belial from Hell and the reduction in strength that Baalzebu1 took left a slight imbalance in the Multiverse which Asmodeus used to increase his own strength. And so, all the planes of Hell are now securely under the dominion of Asmodeus, Lord Of Hell."

Satan & the other outcast devils are launched into an infernal war  by Belial; "In the presence of both Asmodeus and Belial, the armies of Hell will make an attempt to capture Belial, because they do not want the anger of the Lord of Hell upon them. Belial’s other allies are Satan and his followers. His enemies are the same as those of Satan, except for the armies of Hell as stated. However, the other devils have more enmity for Belial than for Satan, because Belial did a lot of Satan’s dirty work when they were in charge, and Belial seemed to enjoy harassing the devils."
Events begin to escalate because of one world setting & that's Greyhawk. Adventurers are responsible for the imbalance of the planes because of the opening of the ruins of  T14 The Temple of Elemental Evil By Gary Gygax & Frank Mentzer. This follows swiftly the events of WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun (1982), by Gary Gygax. T1 The Village of Hommlet By Gary Gygax forms one part of a book end according the Drivethrurpg entry on T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil; "the four modules do form a nice adventuring continuity: T1 is "introductory to novice level"; T1-4 carries that up as high as level 8 (and possiblly higher); S4 runs levels 6-8; and WG4 goes from levels 8-10.
In his "Greyhawk Grognard" blog, Joseph Bloch suggests that Iuz might have been the lynchpin holding the arc together, since he's involved with the Temple of Elemental Evil and is also the son of Iggwilv from "Caverns."" This imbalance on the side of the demonic forces of chaotic evil allows their opposite evil number of law to go out of balance.

Belial takes the opportunity to disrupt the ranks of the armies of Hell recruiting a group of high level adventurers to recover a treasure hidden on the plane of Avernus, the first layer of Hell. TiamatBargrivyekKurtulmakSekolahBelDispaterMammonBelialLevistusGlasya, & Baalzebul are all going to play a part as the PC's race against time to brave the dungeons of Avernus, the first layer of Hell. Should  Asmodeus get wind of this coup then he will take revenge on the families of the PC's for disturbing the balance of Hell. 

Events quickly take up steam & hell fire as Nergal whom Belial has been playing too takes the opportunity to try & seize a plane of Hell in 'The Politics of Hell II' By Gary Gygax. This book has the next three layers of Hell, exhaustive details on the armies of Hell,  the second major NPC's, the banished cohorts of Tiamat, the real low down on getting out of Hell, major artifacts of Hell, several dungeons & details on the city state of Dis, & how all of this relates to the  Greyhawk setting including a detailed study of the weaponry of Hell. 

Many of the details of 'The Politics of Hell II' book has extensive information on  the interactions between Satan, Belial, & Astaroth whose ranks are counted among the outcast rabble of Hell. This book does not go into the major conflicts of the 'The Politics of Hell II'. This is saved for the upcoming 'Politics in Hell III' supplement. 

Ten Ways The Politics of Hell Book I & II
Can Make a Campaign Devilishly Better 

  1. The PC's can become embroiled in the affairs of a manic cult of devilish worshipers on Greyhawk. Events escalate quickly as the reigns of power get thrown out of balance. 
  2. The infernal outcasts are watching events on Greyhawk unfold & are looking for a weakness. Recent events lead them to suspect that there's an opportunity
  3. The nine planes politics connects up to the events of some of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons modules into more subtle context. 
  4. Events on the prime material are pulling the nine Hells into total war. 
  5. Adventurers caused these events & could make things much easier to solve. 
  6. Most of the major NPC's in the Nine Hells are capable of quietly handling  even higher end adventurers with little problem. 
  7. The devils are major sources of treasure & this is a good hook for the PC's. 
  8. Humans are going to be the go to villains for facing down parties of adventurers. 
  9. The Devils of the Nine Hells are infernal gods in their own rights & this imbalance in the planes is going grab the attention of the gods. 
  10. The Hell's are major areas of pychic real estate & any power struggles for the planes are highest stake campaigns unto themselves. Adventurers are going to be wild cards at even the best of times use this.  
The Politics of Hell books I & II could easily be ported over to an OSR game such as OSRIC or Goblinoid Games  Labyrinth Lord with little issue. The stats would be the same & the tone has all of the hallmarks of a great campaign set up.

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