Abyssalism & Infernalism; Differences and Points of Intersection
Abyssalism & Infernalism; Differences and Points of Intersection
By Geoffrey Blackwinter, Battlemage of Cormyr
This book deals with a matter most foul and odious to all right-thinking citizens of just nations with just laws - the matter of fiends and their influence upon the prime material plane of existence. Some may rightly question the necessity of such a book, and whether it might not be abused by those with darker aims to understand and more easily control the very beings detailed within?
Ultimately, nothing can efficiently be done about that of which one has no knowledge. This book exists for the benefit of those who would oppose Abyssalism and Infernalism in all of their forms and permutations. It exists to give them an overview and understanding of where the two differ, and the many ways they intersect and coincide. It is the differences that are most vital to note.
This text will not be preoccupied with the inner workings of Abyssal ecology or Infernal legal systems, except as they pertain to the acts of Abyssalism and Infernalism.
Abyssalism & Infernalism, basic definitions
It is fitting, first of all, to provide the most basic and uncontroversial definitions of the two terms.
Abyssalism here is defined as mortal summoning, binding, Pact-writing, and otherwise fraternisation with the demonic powers of the Abyss. Abyssalists chiefly establish contact the beings known as Tanar’ri, but contact with the more ancient Obyriths has also been reported in the past by established and well-respected scholars on the matter.
Infernalism, in much the same vein, deals with all of these things - from summoning to Pact-writing - with the rather important distinction that Infernalists treat and deal with the devils of the Nine Hells of Baator. Infernalists of note and true danger mainly treat with Baatezu-category devils, but the minor dabblers are known to get involved with the non-Baatezu ‘imps’ to a great degree.
Both of these approaches to fiendish fraternisation are beyond the pale in terms of sinfulness, and those who would go down these paths have truly damned their souls before all gods - hallowed or unholy in equal measure. Nonetheless, there are very real differences between the ramifications of each path taken, and it behooves the careful student to note these differences with dedication.
The Abyssal Path
Demons are aligned to a cosmic degree with the power of Evil, but they are also wretchedly chaotic beings who can hardly be trusted to adhere to much of a code, lest of all their word. Demons (especially the weaker varieties, such as the mere Quasit) are likely to make all sorts of tall promises and fanciful stories, but they’re even less likely than devils to actually deliver.
Stronger varieties of demons forgo the farce of dealing entirely - and for this they can at least be somewhat admired for not stooping to pointless displays of ceremony, if there was ever anything admirable about fiends. A powerful demon is just as likely to simply yank the soul out of a mortal as they are to sit down and treat with them. Nonetheless, they are chaotic beings, so treat they may.
Abyssalists are a weak-willed, craven, and cowardly lot. They lack the strength of will to affect the change they wish to see on the prime material plane, and in lieu of expanding even a modicum of effort they elect to damn their own souls to an eternity of torment just to taste a morsel of the power that has always been denied them. Trust not the Abyssalist, for nothing is holy to such a creature.
The Infernal Path
Devils, in opposition to demons, are creatures of cosmic Law as much as they are creatures aligned with the power of Evil. Where demons are haphazard and do what they can get away with, the rigid structure of the infernal bureaucracy denies devils the full freedom to engage in their cruel whims. Devils, therefore, are less fanciful in their lies, and more likely to deliver on their promises - although what was promised is seldom worth as much as the Infernalist wants it to be.
No matter the strength and personal dominance of a devil, it can not forgo the art of the deal. As such, where a twisted demonic Balor might simply rip the soul out of a mortal would-be Abyssalist, the horrifying Pit Fiend will let the foolish damn themselves, never lifting a claw except to threaten and remind the upstart fiend-conjurer how far they’ve already gone. Devils keep to the letter of any agreement, and are often far more skilled than mortals in putting commas in all the right places.
Infernalists are snivelling cravens incapable of moral decency and ethical courage. No less pitiful than the Abyssalists, Infernalists delude themselves into believing that their strict adherence to a largely ordered and organized system somehow raises them above the Abyssalist. Be not deceived, for the Infernalist is just as much a slave to powers far outranking them.
The soul economy and the ‘dealing’ subtypes of fiends
It is evident to even the most blasé would-be student of Fiendish Studies - or indeed Planar Studies in general - that fiends are preoccupied with souls and their accruement. Why exactly this is, is still a matter of some heavy debate among scholars. Nonetheless, it is impossible to deny the fact that all fiends to some degree seek souls.
It is furthermore evident that demons and devils in particular - Tanar’ri, Obyrith, Baatezu, and ‘imps’ chiefly - have turned to the inherent pride, foolishness, and curiosity of mortals to fuel their dark desires for said souls. While the yugolothi and demons as well as devils of other subtypes do seem to exhibit evidence of craving souls, they tend to go about acquiring said souls in other ways.
As such, it is clear that it is only certain subtypes of fiends who give themselves fully and wholly to the accruement of souls through the art of the deal - the art of trickery and subterfuge. These function as a sort of sub-culture within the greater Abyssal ecology, or Infernal legal system. One must imagine that the fiend who would undertake such efforts studies mortals as we study them.
There must exist, among these subtypes of fiends, a profound trust in the naivety of mortals. A thorough acceptance that the souls will keep flowing as long as they give mortals the tools to ferry their own souls into damnation. Sadly, it does seem that the fiends have more often been proven right than wrong. It is therefore the duty of the wise to shepherd the weak-willed.
They are sending their warriors of honeyed words and false promises, so we must stand vigilant to weed out those who would sell anything for a trifle of fiendish power.