Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hell's Hoods: Casino Infernale

Among the sinful (and dubious) pleasures of Hell are the gambling houses in its sprawling city of Dis. From every back alley dice game to high-class casino, these are owned by the Pluton family and run by the powerful capo, Asmodai. He also oversees the Hell Syndicate’s gambling interests on the Material Plane, bringing more souls to Hell's gates with the promise of riches.

Asmodai appears as a red-skinned, horned man whose good looks are spoiled by a almost perpetual leer. He dresses in the hippest of silk suits (also red). His voice is as smooth as any crooners--when he wants it to be.  He casts no shadow, but when he passes by, mortals hear fevered, whispering voices urging them to take chances, promising the big score.

Asmodai turns a pair of dice in his left hand, that he can tie to the fate of any mortal (with their consent--though not necessarily with full awareness of what they’re consenting to) for a single toss of perhaps life and death importance. He is said to be able manipulate fate on a small scale to make him difficult to kill in combat. His primary weakness is his own predilection for gambling: He finds it hard to pass on a bet.

Often seen in Hell’s ritziest casinos is a beautiful woman who appears to be made of gold. She moves gracefully amid the tables where chips redeemable for damned soul fragments are wagered, smiling (and even occasionally winking) at hard-eyed and sneering pit (fiend) bosses. This is Beleth, Asmodai’s moll. The old grimoires say her diabolic beauty has tempted men to blasphemy and murder, and not much seems to have changed. She can turn anything she touches to gold, and also return things to their original form at her whim. She’s chattier than most devils and is a good source of infernal gossip, if she takes a liking to you.

Beleth's velvet shadow is flecked with gold dancing like dust motes in a sunbeam.


Jim Shelley said...

With his ability to manipulate fate, I wonder how wise it would be to gamble with Asmodai?

Porky said...

Another good read. They're not just rich characters but all kinds of ideas for how they might be used and what they might be associated with. It's the details that do it.

garrisonjames said...

Great stuff. Almost makes one want to take a group right down to hell and back...almost...but then, a lot of these venues probably deliver, for a price.

Justin S. Davis said...

I am loving this series, for many reasons.

) As a guy who loves Vegas way more than he probably should, "Casino Infernale" may be just about my favorite name for anything, ever. Evocative-with-a-capital-E.

) The specific shadow-effects for each of your demons are brilliant.

) One of my favorite fantasy books as a teen (and no idea if it holds up) was Esther Friesner's Sphynxes Wild (1989), about the mythical sphinx of old returning to destroy mankind. In Atlantic City. With all the resurrected caesars as her enforcers. Your hell-stuff reminds me of that book. (That's a compliment, in case it wasn't clear.)

) I totally want to do something with this material at the tabletop.

Trey said...

Thanks. Let me know if you use it in a game.