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  • Writer's pictureFrancois DesRochers

Scholars Review #62: Dimension Book 11: Dyval – Hell Unleashed

Updated: Apr 26, 2023


Author: Carl Gleba

Release Date: August 2007


INTRODUCTION


The second of two Dimension Books, we explore the second of two main parties to the Minion Wars, the infernals of Dyval. Unlike the demons of Hades, which are brutish and powerful combat powerhouses, their primary adversaries in this conflict are a crafty, masters of manipulation. Unlike the realm of Hades, which is a massive, single realm with two main continents, the realm of the Dyval is a multi-dimensional space, portrayed in the seven dimension of hell. The castes and internal politics of the denizens of Dyval, as well as the geography, with details for cities and wilderness (along with copious random tables for weather and encounters) are covered in very good depth. Despite many of them showing up in various other publications, this book presents a consolidated raft of entries for the various demons, making this a veritable bestiary of demonic monsters. We certainly have an antagonist that most GMs will have little problem bringing into any campaign they may be fleshing out.


SECTIONS


Deevil Society. Unlike the demons of Hades, Dyval is a feudal society, meaning each Lord of the Realm has their own discrete army. Typically though, unless specifically tasked by their Lord, they are free roam the Megaverse and sow discord and strife. As a result, the Dyval society is much less formalized than the Hades war machine. The one thing that both societies have in common: Humans are worth little other than slave stock. As indicated in the previous Dimension Book, the hierarchy from lowly slaves up to Lords is detailed. There are some interesting details on a Deevil Lord’s powers, that of their Regent, and how they keep upstarts from disrupting the status-quo.


The Minion War. We get more background to the war, and just how much the scope and scale has increased. Previously, these eternal enemies would manipulating other races to indirectly impact the other realm’s efforts (it’s all a game to them), perhaps igniting in small scale battles between demons and infernals – this was nothing compared to now.

  • War & Politics. So, the one-upmanship between Hades and Dyval has finally erupted, rending asunder the eternal détente the two side have respected. Only the mismanaged initial offensive allowed the Dyval to recover and regroup. Whereas demons easily outnumber the infernals, the minions of Dyval were much more strategic in their approach, and benefited from far greater networks of worshipers and informants. In order to secure the portals that led to Dyval, infernal forces launched multiple fronts across the Megaverse, including the threat of direct invasion of Hades. They also have specialized ‘Name Seeker’ squads that torture demons for this powerful information.


Deevil by Species. So now we get into the heart of the book, which is basically a bestiary of infernals and other gribblies to throw against your PCs. The entries are preceded by a very useful list of various squad types and compositions; super useful.

  • The Host

  • Cryxon. Brutish insect-like humanoids with 360 degree vision; recruited in the millions.

  • Dyval Stalkers. Tall, thin, scaly forest dwelling race that relies on stealth, surprise and magic.

  • Harpies. Gigantic monstrous bird with upper body of old decaying woman. Torture and kill for pleasure. A special power literally called ‘stench.’

  • Shock Dragons. As a result of an ancient compact between Dyval Lords of Deevil Dragons, 95% of the dragon eggs are subjected to bio-vat manipulation into these creatures. Four types of shock troops to choose from.

  • Tiger Beast. Explained further below under War steeds.

  • Other Servants. A list of other species that support the Dyval.

 
  • Lesser Deevils

    • Bonelings. Skeletal humanoids that scour battlefields *after* any battle. Otherwise, incredibly cowardly in face of powerful foes.

    • Deevils. Ugly, fanged humanoids with bestial features. Masterful liars that can metamorphose into humanoids. Foot soldiers for the Minion Wars.

    • Devilkin. Slimmer, “more handsome” versions of Deevils with same shape-changing powers into humanoids or animals. Prefer to pull the strings but fight like, well, demons.

    • Dire Harpies. Demonic versions of the Harpy that can spit lava.

    • Fenry, Demon Wolf. Giant, infernal wolves that hunt and operate in packs.

    • Fiends. Very sadistic living shadows, cloaked in robes. Love to torture and terrorize. Can shape-change into humanoid or animal. Not typically formed into groups, work as specialist assassins/interrogators.

    • Gorgon. The classic “Medusa,” they are slothful and generally not happy being pressed into service for the Minion Wars.

    • Ice Wraith. Large canine humanoids appearing to be made of ice. Prefer use of cunning over simple brute strength. Has a number of unique spells.

    • Imps. Pot-belied diminutive humanoids with cloven feet and tiny bat wings. More interested in causing debauchery-related friction. Not exactly your first-rate foot soldiers for a Minion War. LOL.

    • Naga Deevil. Skeletal serpents with flaming human skull head. Are PPE vampires with massive psionic powers too.

    • Nexus Deevils. Incredibly attractive humanoid upper body, lower body has two shaggy goat legs. Can transform into a humanoid and has collected all the coupons to apply to their ability to open rifts – I mean super cheap. Bit of an editing issue with their PPE and magic. Very few of these creatures.

 
  • Greater Deevils. The more powerful infernals, it includes a series of XP Charts, though I can’t understand why…. Yes, I know each entry has level advancement stats, but who’s using infernals as PCs? Even as NPCs, the GM just scales accordingly. Weird....

    • Deevil Dragons. These dragon-like creatures entered an ancient compact for position and power with the Deevil Lords. They give over their eggs to the Deevil bio-vats to create Shock Dragons. Can pick an OCC and starts with a prodigious capacity for magic and psionics and act like generals in the Minion Wars.

    • Arch Fiends. A much more powerful version of the PPE Vampire that is the Fiend.

    • The Beast. Giant, muscular humanoid with giant bat wings and horns. Basically, the Dyval equivalent to the Hades Baal-Rog, though I doubt it survives facing the Baal-Rog one-on-one.

  • Horror. Vaguely humanoid, its muscular humanoid body has goat legs and a whip-like tail. It is covered in tufts of fur, bulging veins, eyes in random spots. Wholesale slaughter is their stock in trade, and as natura leaders they lead massive formations of infernals.

  • Pandemonium. The poster-Deevil for manipulation of “lesser species,” none do it better. Very rare and under direct command of the Deevil Supreme Lord. Special metamorphosis and manipulative powers.

  • Serpents. Huge, metallic coloured serpents (go figure), they as criminal masterminds, though what consititutes as ‘criminal’ in Dyval is anyone’s guess. Shape changes like most infernals.

  • Wraith or Deevil Wraith. Master spies and elite troops, these powerful psionic beings are ethereal skeletal upper bodies with a laughing skull.

 
  • Lords of Dyval. In the one rage-inducing segment, we don’t even get the overview of the pantheon of Lords Dyval that we got in DB 10: Hades. In both cases it refers readers to Dragons & Gods, a Palladium Fantasy RPG title, which is fair. That said, many of the entries in both this and the previous WB are reprints from other sources.

 
  • War Steeds

    • Flying Horror. Resembling an emaciated dragon that acts as a troop transport. No match for the Hades’ Demon Transport, it is much more agile and quick. Basically, your undead looking demon-dragon.

    • Infernal Sprite. Ever thought of a devilish hummingbird the size of a Caterpillar bulldozer as a steed? Well, now you have! Oh yeah, special abilities based on affiliation to one of the four elements.

    • Infernal Tri-tops. Demonic triceratops that can breathe fire or shoot electric bolts from their horns. As much a tank as the idea sounds.

    • Lava Serpent. A massive (I mean, biggggg) serpentine beast resembling a dragon with no legs or wings. Breathes lava, no surprise.

    • Mimic. The ultimate demonic shape changer, in natural form is like a giant, hairless cat with no tail. It can be used as a beast of burden in natural or assumed form. Infiltrator and spy without peer.

    • Shock Beast. Another giant feline creature. Two curved horns protruding from their head shoot electricity, aside from the obvious stabby-stabby application. Some nifty teleport abilities, no slouches in magic, psionics or MDC. A surprising bit of political background/worldbuilding, and very intelligent for a war steed.

    • Tiger Beast. Another feline entry, another with higher intelligence. Serves as steeds of individual warriors. Basically, Battle Cat from He-Man, without the Cringer issues.

 
  • Notable Monsters

    • Devil Worm. The Dyval answer to the Taut Offensive: create a giant, three headed demonic snake and let them loose to attack demons and Worms of Taut. Unfortunate side effect includes attacking the hand that created you, so, there’s that.

    • Fire Scorpion. Like it says on the tin, a giant demonic scorpion that attacks in swarms.

    • Ice Worm. An experiment to make a Dyval Blow Worm with ice-based attack. Not a great success.

The Seven Layers of Hell. A very interesting concept and dichotomy to that of Hades. Unlike the expansive two continent plain of the demons, the realm of Dyval resembles 7 distinct levels of a massive building. Each is a unique setting and climate, a floating sub-continent in a void, ruled by a Dyval Lord; don’t walk off the ledge. Dimensional travel from outside Dyval can only enter from one of two “gates,” which makes defensive planning much easier than Hades. Movement between the seve layers by Deevils is an innate ability or can be done via the internal gates at the fortress cities. Like DB 10: Hades, each Layer comes with random weather and encounter tables.

  • Dyval Prime. Pristine forest environment with streams, lakes, and verdant greenery. A nicely detailed map provides a great overview.

    • Orchards. Various fruit are detailed with benefits/penalties if consumed. I laughed at “Sweet, Sweet Apples.”

    • Gardens. Basically, manicured gardens like those found at Versailles or Buckingham Palace.

    • Sanctum Lake. Contains an open rift, the only doorway to Dyzonia.

    • Citadels. Each Dyval Lord has a fortress citadel, that co-exists on Prime and their particular realm. A conduit links the two layers. Seven lords, seven citadels. Each has a laundry list of specific abilities and powers. Each has a single stone that, if destroyed, collapses the entire structure; an odd vulnerability but one I appreciate.

    • Hel’s Citadel. As Dyval Prime is her particular Layer. Some information on the forces in place, as well as notable infernals.

  • Dyzonia. The Second Layer, realm of Diabolus, is a jungle much like the Amazon. The infernal population, topography and geography are laid out, including a handy map. There are several interesting locales, including the Sanctuaries, for which visitors will find nothing of the sort, the Preserves, and the Citadel. A key piece found herein are the tables for Bio-Vats and their effects.

  • Great Dyval Desert. The Third Layer, realm of Lady Leviathan, is mountainous, dry and hot. There are oases, but traveler beware. Here be the realm of the Harpies, Deevil Dragons and Gorgons. Interesting locales include Harpy Peak, Gorgon’s Pass, The Blood Mountains, and the Western Peaks.

  • Tundra. The Fourth Layer, realm of the imprisoned Lady Rhada, is a frozen landscape reminiscent of the Canadian Shield at about the tree line. To the north is Glacia, The Frozen Wastes, and the Tundra Expanse. Here be Fenry, and I mean millions of them. There is a surprisingly great deal of nuanced information presented in this section of internal politics and the Minion War writ large.

  • Inferno. The Fifth Layer, realm of Mephisto, likely most resembles Hades. The infernal population, topography and geography are laid out – oppressive heat, volcanoes and rivers of lava, and the terrain fighting back with steam vents, eruptions of toxic gas or lava, fire tornadoes, the like mortals can’t live through without magical assistance. A number of memorable prisoners and magic items stores in the vaults.

  • The Mines of Dyval. The Sixth Layer, realm of Nickodeamis, is a massive rainforest much like Washington State, broken by numerous Mesas. These mesas (Copper Mount, Gold Mount, Ruby Mount, etc) are the sites for massive mining operations, each with unique weather systems.

  • Grim Mortis. The Seventh Layer, realm of Sahtalus and Supreme Lord Dyval. Seven massive shadow realms, resembling the previous Layers, forms the outer rim. Entry to Gim Mortis is randomized between them, and valleys between massive mountain peaks leads to the central citadel realm. Various key locales and personalities, including some of the more powerful Regents, are detailed. The realm is very much reflective of its name.


CONCLUSION


Initial Assessment (9/10). The second Dimension Book that lays out the foundation of the Minion Wars. This is another superb entry, presenting a second group of antagonists in stark contrast to its predecessor. This is something I was very much hoping for, and it delivered in spades. The impression of the infernals and their minions is unique as well. Whereas the Hades armies are brutish and resemble a massive hammer, the Dyval are more calculating and duplicitous. You see this demonstrated in the differences of powers and MDC levels. There are of course millions of slaves, but the sense is that the Dyval operations across the Megaverse are much more expansive than that of Hades. The concept of the Seven Layers and how to get around Dyval was on point, well thought out. The differences in each Layer were incredibly well presented and intuitive. The artwork certainly supports the content, particularly the Bradshaw entries in the Ward Steeds, and my personal favourite of the book, the image found on page 8. I found the computer-generated maps by Carl Gleba, which absolutely help confer a sense of the Layers, don’t translate as well – not Gleba’s fault. Special mention of course to another knock-out-of-the-park cover by John Zeleznik. The worldbuilding is excellent. The look and feel of Dyval is different from that of Hades but still fulfils the monstrous vibe and presents GMs a plethora of adventuring ideas to use as a one-off adventure, or as the basis for a longer standing campaign.


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