Posted by : David Guyll November 20, 2012
It was not until we got demons, daemons, and devils in 3rd Edition that things became a bit muddier...until I just learned to remember that devils were the Lawful side of the trinity, and that we rarely played to a point where any of them really mattered anyway.
Though a Planescape fan I did not care much for their extraplanar alignment-battle, which is disappointing because it looks like that demon and devil lore is getting rolled back an edition or two. I really enjoyed 4th Edition's changes to demon flavor, changing them into corrupted elemental destroyers, while clearly dividing them from their hierarchical tempters-of-souls counterparts. Though relegated to a sidebar in Manual of the Planes, 4th Edition also provided a (better?) reason for the Blood War to exist.
I do not mind the idea of two opposing evil forces eternally duking it out (even with a third party playing both sides), but I am hoping that whoever is in charge of story gives us a more compelling reason than "because, alignment!" A motivation--preferably a solid one--or some actual stakes would be a nice change of pace.
As for the actual denizens, I am happy to see them staying away from laundry lists of spells and spell-like abilities. As I have said before I disliked having to pore through other books to take notes on what spells do what, and take time going through lists trying to figure out what I should do (especially when there are lots of ineffectual, low-level stuff to dismiss).
Cold iron and silver vulnerabilities are back (as well as magic), which is fine by me as I kind of missed material-based vulnerabilities such as fey and cold iron. I know some people complained about fighters toting around "golf bags of weapons", but as long as they do not go back to 3rd Edition's DR/30+ values then it remains a perk instead of a necessity. In this instance I guess 5th Edition's resistance mechanic is the lesser of two evils.
Individually most of these guys do what they have always done; balors have a flaming whip and lightning sword, mariliths are six-armed, half-serpent dervishes, ice devils are insect-like in appearance and can create walls of ice and storms, and so on. There are some interesting tidbits in there, though, such as glabrezus being able to attack with their pincers and cast spells with their human-like set of arms and mariliths potentially using Expertise Dice.
I am kind of disappointed to see the succubus return to the demonic horde. Conceptually it made more sense to peg them with a Lawful alignment given their role of tempters and more subtle spell selection, and I know a lot of people agree with me (and disagree), so it is nice that it got its own poll question. I guess we will have to see what the majority wants.
I am interested to see how things continue to unfold in terms of story and mechanics. Maybe the Blood War will have a variety of causes and goals that you can pick from (alignment, abyssal shard, or something else?), maybe devils will become more strongly associated with sins, and maybe there will be a stronger, clearer divide between them all.