THE Devil
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"Please allow me to introduce myself,
I'm a man of wealth and taste."

- Sympathy for the Devil, by the Rolling Stones

Basic Information

The Devil is the Ultimate Evil, Evil Personified.

Appearance and True Nature

In Christian Tradition, he's a former Angel who rebelled and was cast out of Heaven.

In Islamic Tradition, he's a being formed of "smokeless fire" and created by God, akin to the Djinn.

In the Jewish Tradition things are a little more complicated … Satan has a much more ambiguous relationship to God than might otherwise be expected - in the Book of Job, for example, he appears in the presence of the Divine more as a slightly disrespectful subordinate than an antagonist, and this role is reprised in several other places in Jewish theology. Arguably Satan is fulfilling much the same role when he appears as Jesus's examiner in the Gospels.

In the Garden of Eden, he appeared as a talking snake in a tree1.

One modern and rather common version is that of the man in a suit who tempts mortals into sin, or abandoning their Immortal Soul via trickery or the fulfillment of the mortal's wishes. They'll look like a well-dressed professional (See Dressed to Kill, Evil Lawyer, and MiB), until some Glamour Failure - which usually happens after it's too late.

Another common depiction, somewhat cheesier but no less traditional for it, is that of a man with shiny red skin, a goatee, horns, and cloven hooves. Pitchfork, Cape and Golden Fiddle optional.

Also quite modern (although probably less so in Judaism) is the idea of the Devil as God's enforcer - the guy who does that jobs that heaven is too good to do. This may range from simply punishing the wicked to holding down eldritch abominations from outside creation. Occasionally this will lead to a demon vs. devil/fallen angel dichotomy (or some form of "angels, demons and squid"). In some cases the "uncreated" demons are added in to a cosmology to allow for a Satan that fits with Judaism and biblical Christian theology - in effect to generate a genuine enemy for the forces of good, given that the traditional one (Satan) is only hostile to mankind. The Satan in such a setting isn't good or nice - he and his subordinates still aim to tempt mankind to sin, damnation and destruction - but they are not the ultimate evil. The "Satan as Enforcer" model can also lead to some pretty subversive characterisations - such as the Devil as punch clock villain or Knight templar, and even, in some versions, an unwilling conscript to his role.

In European Folklore, and New England Folklore, The Devil appears as The Black Man of Witchcraft. Ebony skin but Anglo/European facial features, dressed all in black. The folkloric devil is often something of a low achiever and ends up as the butt of comic tales in which a trickster hero cons him out of various treasures or a wise farmer fends off endless attempts to rustle his goats. The presence of a Satan character as a butt-monkey villain in slapstick plays or puppet shows can also be expected in some times and places.

Traditionally, the Devil (or perhaps his subordinates) is often depicted as willing to gamble for souls - with individuals the stakes are usually rigged (whether the odds are or not is open for debate) and the whole point of the contest is to work on the target's sinful pride and gamble their soul against something relatively trivial2 - like many con games these sometimes break down when tried on an honest man. On occasion however, the devil may also gamble soul for soul (and in less reverent treatments can be shown playing poker against God with souls as chips…). As noted, the legends of people winning may be mere propaganda circulated to tempt the credulous, or may be genuine - after all, the house only needs to win on aggregate … occasional, well publicised payouts are what it takes to pull in the punters.

Names and Titles

The following names and Titles have all been associated with The Devil. Some may actually refer to other Demons, but just get misappropriated by the big guy. See also Demon Lords And Archdevils.

Devil-Related Tropes

See Also


Game and Story Use

  • If your game needs a Big Bad Evil Guy, you can't get much more Epic than THE Big Bad Evil Guy.
  • Minor Demons, Con Men and the like may be able to pull some craziness by claiming to be, or work directly for, THE Devil.
  • Extremely skilled PCs may wish the challenge The Devil to a contest of some kind … this should almost always be a bad idea.
  • Stupid-evil PCs may be tempted to stake someone else's soul in a game with the devil … but when you get this stage, you're probably his already anyway.
  • If God is evil or you go with one of the non-Ultimate Evil interpretations, the Devil can be a useful ally or patron.
  • Folkloric - and usually comic - treatments will include non-canon characters such as the devil's wife/mother in law/grandmother … or having him carry away some particularly shrewish woman away to hell as his wife, only for her to be so dreadful that he attempts to return her to her husband.

"…and we all know what Santa's an anagram of, don't we boys and girls?"


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