Demons are some of the oldest creatures in the universe. While there is no definitive way to accurately record their age due to time distortion between dimensions, the eldest are thought to be in existence for billions of years at the very least. But, age has little relation to power. A demon’s strength is tied to the amount of souls it consumes and there are always usurpers looking for an opportunity to prey on the weary. Higher ranking Infernals that are in a position to rule also draw strength directly from the negative emotions that saturate their lands.
These pawns, also called “imps”, are the weakest of the weak. They are one of the few native inhabitants of Hell, meaning that they were never another creature in a previous life, such as fallen angels or damned humans were. Minor demons spawn from Hell itself, much like spirits do from the aether. A minor demon can never progress through life stages, however, and are only used as slaves by their more powerful kin until they are eventually consumed as a snack.
Diminutive, deformed, and utterly useless, these Infernals pose no threat whatsoever to anybody. An average human adult without any combat experience could put one down without difficulty. They are still demons though, and like all demons they can possess other creatures.
Infernals cannot exist indefinitely on Earth without a vessel due to the atmosphere being toxic to them. The stronger the demon, the more durable the vessel is needed and the less time it can spend on Earth without one before being sent back to Hell. Savvy demon lords and above use their expendable army of imps to possess mortal humans since they are weak enough to last on Earth just so long to accomplish a given task.
A minor demon may be a minor nuisance on its own, but when possessing a human and removing fear and pain along with the soul, they can become a terrifying sight in battle to other mortals. Some human bodies even begin to mutate when possessed and reflect their true sinister nature. Lingering emotions like hate and anger are amplified by the demonic presence within their empty shell, leaving behind something truly abhorrent…
Lesser demons go by countless names across the endless worlds and cultures they spawn from. A soul damned to Hell soon becomes a lesser demon if it is not immediately devoured or captured upon arrival. These demons are an instant threat to any human and most undead. Like all Infernals they can only ever be killed for good in their homeworld where they are exponentially more powerful.
Lesser demons resemble how they appeared in their past lives only with a few additions. All demons grow horns from their skull; the stronger the demon, the larger and more ornate they become. Their eyes—the windows to their damned souls—turn variations of red and over time their blood boils until it becomes magmatic.
As these demons age and consume souls they gradually metamorphose to depict their inner evil. Many turn into towering behemoths, but the madness that drives them is blinding. The more they lose themselves to their rage, their sentience wanes and they become little more than savage beasts for the more cunning Infernals to command.
On average, a well-fed lesser demon’s hide is bulletproof to all conventional firearms, highly resistant to being pierced by mundane materials like steel, and immune to terrestrial fire with added defense against many paths of magic. They range in height from nine to twenty feet and can lift anywhere from five to thirty tons. Their horns can casually slice through most earthly metals and like most demons are immune to pain and fear.
An Infernal becomes a greater demon after consuming thousands of souls. Most centuries old undead start as greater demons once they die, but since they have not consumed any souls yet they become easy targets for other hellspawn.
These demons differ very little from their lesser incarnation and some do not consider these a separate denomination. Either way, these demons stand out for their beginning in mastery over hellfire, full sentience, and the ability to learn Forbidden magic. In some cases they can return to a more humanoid appearance useful for deceiving others.
Any Infernal that has consumed in the millions of souls and owns a substantial amount land in Hell (around the size of a large city or metropolis) is known as a lord. Ancient undead and fallen angels automatically become these upon death, and more powerful demons can offer lordship to those who make a pact with them. As with greater demons, those that cheat the system become prime targets and must show dominance quickly or suffer a terrible fate for eternity.
Demon lords gain a sizable increase to all parameters—intelligence included. The dimension of Hell has been around long before Earth and stores limitless knowledge from the many other worlds it has contact with in its lands. The knowledge does not come in the form of books or scrolls, but is seeded within Hell’s collective consciousness that lords and above can tap into. Alien languages, enigmatic fields of science, and bizarre magic paths are only scratching the surface of what Hell has to offer a curious mind.
Demon lords are the first rank of Infernals to specialize in their sins. They seek to corrupt others to add to their armies and expand their influence both in Hell and Earth through constant scheming. They are tireless monsters that will stop at nothing to gain an inch. A single demon lord at its peak has the power to affect whole countries, and potentially continents, with infectious corruption or sheer destruction. Luckily, they can only last mere minutes on Earth.
Countless legends across innumerable worlds have been told of these Infernals. They stand in direct defiance of the gods and make all but the strongest tremble at their might. It takes billions of souls to rise to the rank of an archdemon. They command entire legions and rule vast empires in Hell that could snuff out all life on Earth with little effort if left unchecked.
Archdemons are leagues above their predecessors with nigh-omniscience and omnipotence. An archdemon could be taller than the highest mountain peak with near-incalculable strength enough to sunder continents with a footstep, or assume the form of an innocent young human whose mere presence on Earth drives whole hemispheres into a homicidal frenzy.
There is no true limit to the power they can muster, but their paranoia is typically their main hindrance. Not in the best company, archdemons are acutely aware that they are always being watched for a moment of weakness that their peers and subordinates could exploit. They have a transcendent level of patience after having been in existence longer than most worlds and act through others instead of risking their legacy.
Archdemons cannot spawn in any capacity on Earth under its current state. It is one of the last bastions against the forces of Hell and this enrages them. Demons—especially archdemons—do not take kindly to having limits, making Earth a prime target for their wrath.
There is not much to be said about the Infernal Kings because nothing more than conjecture has ever been recorded on them. They are uncontested in Hell—both omnipotent and omniscient—and it is widely agreed upon that they are the founders of their dimension and all who spawn from it.
Some say that the Infernal Kings are the pure embodiment of unmitigated evil. After their underlings corrupt worlds to become suitable for them, the kings finish off the remaining inhabitants and cast their judgment whether to destroy the planet or repopulate it with their kind.
Others think that these demons are actually different aspects of one entity that is the antithesis to the fabric of creation. Their machinations are just what is necessary to unravel the strings so something new can be created in its place. Maybe they do not represent evil when viewing their actions from a cosmic scale, but oblivion.
Regardless of the theoretical ideology behind them, the Infernal Kings are peerless and there is no way to ascertain anything close to a limit to their power. Once they breach the veil, there is next to nothing that anyone can do to stop the inevitable annihilation.
Like archdemons, they are thought to be unable to enter Earth’s realm at all, but there are accounts of them at least manifesting in some manner to certain individuals. Stories also tell of their temporary defeat at the hands of empowered gods, though it may have been less of a battle and more of a test of worthiness for more dubious means.