Rise of the Elder Gods
Rakdos, Corrupter of Heroes
Letter to Miranda, Harper Cell Leader
Per your request, our agents have uncovered more information about Ammon’s mysterious devil patron. His name is Rakdos, Corrupter of Heroes, and he’s created quite the reputation for himself. He’s considered an oddity among his devil peers because he sponsors heroes with pure hearts and good intentions. Don’t let this deceive you – Rakdos is a master manipulator behind some of the greatest threats in our realm.
Rakdos isn’t at the same level of power as the nine archdevils, but his influence spreads quickly and he’s started to cultivate a large following. We’re trying to anticipate his next move, but because he operates in the shadows, it’s difficult to get a read on his preferred method of operations.
Our agents did intercept a letter addressed to one of his cult leaders, which I’ve included with this message. Perhaps the following letter might give you insight on Ammon’s patron. Don’t let your guard down around your warlock agent, we can’t afford to let Rakdos get his hooks into our organization.
Berstork Blacksong, Senior Harper
My dear Wormwood,
I’m pleased to hear that recruitment efforts for the order are going well, but I’m disappointed to hear that many of our colleagues (both mortal and fiend) don’t understand why I choose to sponsor heroes. It’s true that most of my colleagues in the Nine Hells take a more traditional path of helping mortals with hearts almost as dark as ours. I don’t disagree with this path, but it’s not the approach I take for two reasons:
1. Heroes, in the long run, are easier to manipulate and cause far more collateral damage than villains.
When a black-hearted mortal makes a deal with a devil, they usually only ask for enough power to accomplish their goal. Although they might use our power to accomplish a few dastardly deeds, once they achieve their goal, our influence becomes limited. This is not the case with heroes.
Heroes will kick down dungeon doors and raise hell to achieve their goals. (And believe me, as a devil lord, I know something about raising hell). Heroes are never satisfied with the status quo and they will always seek more power as their challenges increase. In turn, this creates an opportunity to redirect the hero’s efforts toward unwittingly furthering my goals.
It’s true that a hero might use my power for a noble cause, at least in the short term. But who cares if a sponsored warlock takes out a goblin tribe, bandits, or dark elves? Ultimately, it creates less competition for our cultists in the mortal realm. Also, through careful manipulation, I can often lure heroes into doing my work for me by pitting them against my enemies.
2. The most powerful fiends are those who used to be servants of the light.
Corrupting heroes is a long-term effort, but every success weakens the forces of good while gaining us a powerful ally. The mortals have a quaint parable about how it’s possible to boil a frog alive, as long as you slowly increase the heat. It’s the same way for mortals: If your influence is subtle, but pervasive, it’s only a matter of time until you have them completely in your clutches.
How to corrupt heroes? Let me give you a few suggestions:
• Gradually lead the hero to make moral compromises for the “greater good.”
• Appeal to the hero’s inherent sense of greed and love for power.
• Take advantage of the hero’s short-term perspective.
For example, about a thousand years ago, I sponsored a warlock named Zhark the Impetuous. Zhark wasn’t the sharpest sword on the rack, but he was willing to put his life on the line for the weak and helpless. When he set out on a fool’s quest to overthrow his tyrannical king, my colleagues in the Nine Hells mocked me for helping him. Of course, I was the one with the final laugh.
In the end, Zhark was triumphant and assassinated his king in a bloody duel to the death. Zhark assumed that his king’s death would bring peace and prosperity in the land. He underestimated the greed of his kingdom’s nobles, and instead, he started a civil war that lasted forty years with a body count in the tens of thousands.
You see, when I made a pact with Zhark, I knew he didn’t have a succession plan. I just knew that if given enough power, he would further my plans if pointed in the right direction. Like most heroes, Zhark’s commitment to foolish concepts like “justice” made it easy to use him as a tool to accomplish my goals.
Rest assured, my plans for Ammon Varis is very similar to what I accomplished with Zhark the Impetuous. Ammon may be slightly more intelligent than Zhark, but he’s just as easily manipulated in his own way. Keep me updated on your progress on growing our organization in Neverwinter. This city will be the key to our future operations in the North.
Rakdos, Corrupter of Heroes