Locked away deep within the fiery bowels of the Pit, the screams of the damned mingle with the howls of the fiends. These souls are one in the same, condemned for their sins and left to suffer. Only when every shred of humanity has been stripped away do they undergo the grisly transformation into fiends.
Fiends are created when the souls of the Damned have suffered in the Pit so greatly as to be stripped of all their humanity. When this happens, all that remains is a husk filled with raw instinct, hatred, and self-loathing. Robbed of what it was, this creature transforms into a fiend.
The specific details of the transformation vary from one fiend to the next. Many acquire bestial characteristics, such as horns on their head, claws or talons on their hands, hooves for feet, fang-filled mouths, tails, or wings. Their skin may sprout fur, hide, or scales, grow taut and skeletal, or take on a red or black hue. Others gain more bizarre characteristics, such as multiple arms, flaming eyes, or the lower bodies of snakes. Whatever mortal characteristics remain are often twisted and distorted beyond recognition.
There is little consistency to the end result, even among fiends that share the same type. The product, however, is always unmistakable as a fiend.
Aura of Sin
Fiends exude an aura of sin, wearing it like a cloak. Different sins grant different abilities. Vandal's, for instance, use their envy to transform their weapons into venomous snakes. Tormentors use their sadism to conjure terrifying illusions. And marauders use their wrath to draw foes into a battle frenzy. It is an outward manifestation of the depravity that damned the fiend's soul to the Pit.
For stronger fiends, this aura also serves as protection, fending off attacks like a suit of armor. Weapons imbued with the sacred energy of the Prime can disperse a fiend's aura, striking true and robbing the fiend of its power. The strongest, however, have auras too great to be dispelled. Sacred weapons may still be effective against them, but no other attack can hope to penetrate their defense.
Fiends are beings of spirit. They have difficulty maintaining a physical body outside the Pit, and must siphon energy from a summoner or remain near a gateway to do so. More powerful fiends can maintain themselves indefinitely and even summon lesser minions, but find the act uncomfortable. For this reason, fiends outside the Pit often resort to possession.
All fiends are capable of assuming an immaterial form to possess a mortal. Not all mortals are suitable hosts, however. Evil mortals are the choicest vessels, particularly those who share the fiend's sin, though stronger fiends may choose to possess other hosts. The degree of influence a fiend exerts, knowledge it gains, and power it maintains while possessing a mortal depends upon the fiend's strength and the mortal's suitability.
While possessing a mortal, most fiends choose to hide their presence as much as possible, and may even limit their influence so the victim appears to act normally. Certain symptoms can betray their presence, however, such as lost memory, spontaneous acquisition of knowledge or skills, speaking in unknown languages, or strange markings or wounds appearing on the skin. The aura of the fiend may also permeate the victim's environment, causing food to spoil, creating strange odors, making animals flee or fall ill, and affecting the behavior of those closest to the victim. Fiends are careful to conceal or explain away these signs because they fear being exorcised, which can leave them weakened and vulnerable.
Types of Fiends
As it is a mortal's sin that condemns them to the Pit, so too does that sin define the fiend they eventually become. As with the transformation, there is little consistency, though it is generally believed that the more heinous the sin, the more powerful the fiend.
- Laggards were damned for the sin of sloth, wasting their lives through inaction and apathy. Laggards rarely attack on their own, and must often be whipped forward by stronger fiends. Even then, they move sluggishly. In fact, they move so little when idle that they may be mistaken for corpses.
- Deceivers were damned for the sin of deceit, lying and conniving their way through life. They project an aura of lies, casting out illusions to distract and confuse their opponents.
- Idolists were damned for the sin of idolatry, for revering powerful monsters or spirits as false immortals. They use their aura to inspire blind zealotry in other fiends, driving them forward into battle.
- Vandals were damned for the sin of envy, for spiting those who possessed something they lacked. Their hearts are so full of venom that their auras transform any weapon they touch into a snake, allowing them to lash out at foes with enervating poison.
- Ravagers were damned for the sin of violence, slaughtering their fellow mortals without mercy or remorse. The intensity of their blood lust turns any weapon touched by their aura razor sharp, allowing them to penetrate armor, weapons, and shields in their pursuit of carnage.
- Tormentors were damned for the sin of sadism, taking pleasure in the fear and suffering of others. Their auras wreathe them in a fearsome visage they can use to terrify their foes.
- Seducers were damned for the sin of lust, losing themselves in the desires of the flesh. They exude an aura of carnal passion, making them appear as seductive consorts rather than hideous monsters.
- Gluttons were damned for the sin of gluttony, dooming themselves through overindulgence. Their aura induces gnawing, ravenous hunger, allowing them to sap victims of vitality with a touch.
- Marauders were damned for the sin of wrath. Many were soldiers who succumbed to the haze of battle, turning their blades on prisoners, allies, and innocents in their fury. Their aura fills their foes with the same irrational anger.
- Betrayers were damned for the sin of treachery, selling the trust of their allies when it was of greatest profit. Their auras allow them to pierce all manner of concealment while passing unseen themselves.
- Heretics were damned for the sin of heresy, for turning their backs on the immortals they swore to serve. Their auras pervert the intentions of those who attack them, turning arrows and spells back upon their owners.
- Executioners were damned for the sin of mass murder, slaying countless innocents for pay or sport. Their auras grant them unrivaled speed and ruthlessness, making them tireless killers.
- Scourges were damned for the sin of slavery, robbing hundreds of freedom in their lust for power. Their aura wreathes them in magical chains that react to their will, lashing out and binding their victims.
- Tyrants are rare, formed from souls so twisted that they transformed long before reaching the afterlife. They emerge from the Maw of Damnation and feast upon other fiends, assuming command of hellish legions. Their auras fend off even sacred weapons and bathe opponents in pure malice, inflicting wounds and sewing fear from the sheer force of the tyrant's dark will.