Infernalism is particularly seductive to the Rasennan character. It stresses the art of the deal — the more savvy the individual, the more he or she can expect to gain from the pact. It’s arguably a meritocratic shortcut to power: the clever and imaginative will benefit more than the dull-witted. Given the penchant for calling on divine intercessors rather than the gods directly, infernalism also seems like a natural part of the order of things. Besides, devils understand. They are very sympathetic to common Rasennan desires such as money, vengeance and pleasure.
The trouble with infernalism, though, is that devils — and demons — require a cost for their services that is detrimental to Rasennan society as a whole. A devil may require the hearts of his patron’s enemies served up at a banquet, and that banquet cannot be countenanced. Infernalism strips away the justice of the princes, undermines the authority of the Houses (or grants unbalancing influence to them, in some cases), and of course has a mortal cost that even an archetypal jaded merchant may find abhorrent. Pacting with a devil is bad enough. Outright worship of one — or worse, of a demon — is intolerable.
In Rasenna, there is a carefully drawn line between the propitiation of the Lower Gods — which is to be expected — and infernalism. Appeasing a god of plague or violence is an attempt to avert its eye. An infernal bargain does the opposite. It is a bargain of infliction rather than prevention. It may be distasteful to offer coin and poetry to the Queen of Hell, but it’s far worse to offer pain and mutilation to one of her servants in hopes of receiving coin and poetry in return. As a result, infernalism is strictly forbidden, and those proven to have some traffic with devils are severely punished.
Devils, Demons and Beyond
Devils are the inhabitants of Hell and largely intermediaries to the Lower Nine. As part of “the system,” they are the most popular point of contact for an infernalist.
Demons are creatures of the Abyss, a horrible tear in the fabric of the universe caused by a dying god. They breed in the Abyss like maggots in a rotten wound. Many are angels or devils that have fallen from divine service and been corrupted.
There are other wicked extraplanar creatures of dubious origin; it’s uncertain whether trafficing with them is actually infernalism. These include the elemental terrors such as grues and shaitans, the fiends-made-flesh such as divs and rakshasas, and arguably even creatures such as evil genies.
Some of the more infamous devils that have bartered patronage to Rasennans include:
- Charderach, a devil of blood feuds. He appears as a gallant swashbuckler in bloodstained white. Charderach encourages bloody vengeance, and prefers the sacrifice of eyes plucked from his devotees’ rivals. His followers have conducted bloody hunts and mock-judicial pronouncements on their enemies, and take vendetta to an extreme that disturbs even Rasennans.
- Hatabel, the Harlot Saint, a devil of hedonism, sloth and narcotics. She is said to be very lovely, save for the horror she hides behind her mask. Her cults use addiction as a recruiting tool, and pursue all manner of destructive vices.
- Vaskathion, a devil of lightning, fire and strife. Servant to Mal Zath and Xacshi. He appears as a half-armored devil with burning wounds carrying a blazing partisan. Vaskathion was allegedly the patron of the fallen House Torccerna.
Known Fiendish Breeds
- Pelazu (“Fisherman Devils”): Grotesque pelagic devils who ply the seas of Hell in iron ships, fishing out the souls of the damned with barbed hooks and forks.
- Vibrezu (“Stringed Devils”): Black-skinned, silver-spurred tempters with an affinity for music. Reputed for some ability to pluck on the strings of fate.