subplot in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist - is this even possible? (spoiler alert)

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subplot in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist - is this even possible? (spoiler alert)

In Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, one of the subplots is "Hell of a Summer". In it, two vile parents in financial straits trade the souls of their children to Asmodeus in exchange for money and renewed standing in the community. One boy's soul is taken immediately and his body turned into a Chain Devil. The other two will lose their souls and be turned into Lemures on their ninth birthday unless the parents turn over a huge sum of money and a large number of souls to the Nine Hells. The PCs can aid or hinder this.

Now, my question is: Under the laws of Baator, can the parents even do this, pledge their innocent children's souls to the Nine Hells in exchange for benefits? I thought that a person could only pledge his own soul to Hell, and of his own free will. The children neither did anything to deserve to go to Hell (no "Lawful Evil" acts), no did they agree to the bargain. In the subplot, the Devils have already taken one child's soul and if the parents don't meet the terms of the pact in time they do indeed take the other two kids' souls. It seems like this could be contested, both on the grounds of legality and morality. But am I right? Is there, in fact, precedent for such an act being allowed by Hell's laws?

Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 2010-06-26 14:37
Someone to Watch Over You

In theory, I would agree with you that this seems hinky; but to play Devil's Advocate (literally), I'll take the opposite position.

Perhaps it falls under the "godparent" logic that before a child has a fully developed concept of good and evil, his or her soul is in the charge of an adult (usually the parents but if unavailable, then the godparents). In this case, perhaps a corrupt guardian could sell the child's soul. Although I would argue that the fiends could only possess the innocent up until the death of the guardian who would then take the child's place. But I imagine that even for a brief period of possession, the value of a pure innocent in Hell would be quite valuable. (What value/power does the soul of an innocent actually provide?)

Jem's picture
Last seen: 4 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 2006-05-10 19:50
I might also argue that one

I might also argue that one of the best tricks of the devils is to convince people that they are already damned, and when they believe this they act as a lawful evil person would. The parents would have the "right" -- under Infernal law, at least, not under any moral system -- to offer the child to the devils for raising, and certainly anyone raised by devils is very likely to turn out devilish.

Mere polymorph will not suffice to permanently turn a child into a chain devil, but perhaps the parents' contract allows this great magic to be performed on their poor offspring.

I agree with you that no one can pledge another's soul to Hell. But, as the devils do, one can put an innocent person in such straits that the act becomes more and more likely. This is after all the reason devils are cruel to those who oppose them. At any rate, the even if the parents cannot pledge another's soul, they "can" trade away guardianship rights, and for the devils' purpose, this can easily suffice.

To Palomides, regarding your question on the power of a pure soul in Hell: Dis collects spirits who repented too late, just at the moment they were aware of their death and the judgment of damnation; there are fewer of these than other sorts of damned, but Dispater finds that they are richer in the power that can be drawn from them. So that's some evidence for your idea.