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I don’t remember seeing hell wasps before, but they sound like the sort of monster that might have debuted in 3e.

The Lore

In past editions the Blood War was this eternal alignment-based conflict, but here it’s part of Asmodeus’ safety net. You see, the other gods don’t like Asmodeus very much, both because he’s an evil asshole and because he got his position by murdering a popular non-evil deity.

One of the measures he took to prevent them from ganging up on him was to commit the considerable armies of Hell to the task of containing the demons of the Abyss. As we mentioned before, demons are too busy with infighting to launch regular invasions on the rest of the universe, but when they do manage to briefly get their shit together and spill out, they find a few legions of devils waiting to fight them. Hell also launches occasional raids into the Abyss to prevent demons from organizing.

This isn’t a war that rages on eternally, but a series of sporadic conflicts that flare up whenever one of the two sides feels a bit stronger. The gods lets Asmodeus be because he provides a valuable service, and because providing that service also serves as a check on his power. Asmodeus and his underlings in the meantime keep enacting diabolic schemes to acquire more power in an attempt to dominate the other gods.

One of the most enthusiastic participants in the Blood Wars seems to be Glasya, Asmodeus’ daughter. Because of this she tends to be involved in stories where demons and devils switch sides, corresponding to her failures and successes. We already heard about Graz’zt the devil who became a demon lord. And now we get to hear about a whole species of demon who became devils.

Hellwasps were once a species of demon related to the insectile mezzodemons, servants of a wasp-like demon lord whose name was lost to time. Glasya fought and killed this demon in one of her raids, and its spawn immediately swore allegiance to her. She took the lot of them to Hell and converted them into devils. Now they inhabit the Garden of Delights, a region of Malbolge. As loyal servants of Glasya, they can be found alongside any of her other servants or allies.

The Numbers

Hellwasps are Medium Immortal Magical Beasts (devils). They have Darkvision and a Flight Speed of 8 (hover), but their ground speed of 0 means they can’t actually walk. They fight with their natural weapons: a pair of sword-like talons, and a huge venomous sting.

Hellwasp Colony Guard

This is a Level 19 Minion Skirmisher of the kind you can find by the score in hellwasp hives. Their Sword Talon attack allows them to shift 1 square before or after the attack, and their Sting deals poison damage, slows, and prevents the target from shifting for a turn.

They’re good for slowing the PCs down and setting them up to be surrounded by sturdier allies. The ability to shift away after a talon attack makes them slightly less vulnerable to melee-centric PCs.

Hellwasp Devil

The regular version is a Level 23 Skirmisher with 212 HP. Since it’s higher level it probably represents an exceptional individual within a hive, of the kind that gets loaned out to allies and sent on away missions.

Aside from a somewhat weak Sword Talon attack, the hellwasp can also perform a Talon Skewer. This also counts as a basic attack. It allows the wasp to fly its speed and make two talon attacks at any point along the movement. The wasp doesn’t draw opportunity attacks when moving away from the target of these attacks. If both attacks hit the same target, the wasp grabs them, and the Drag Off trait allows it to pull the grabbed victim when it moves without drawing opportunity attacks from them.

Yes, this is another one of those fliers that allows you to have fun with cliffs. And at epic level we’re probably taking the cliffs of Hell itself, which have lava pools or other layer-appropriate hazards at the bottom.

Hellwasp regulars also have a stronger Sting. It deals more poison damage, slows, prohibits shifts and deals ongoing 15 fire damage (save ends all). This is a “recharge 5+” attack, and a good one to use on a PC that was dragged off to an isolated position.

Final Impressions

Bugs with sword-arms that slot neatly into the same slot as Swordwings. Perfect for those players who dislike monsters that lack ties to AD&D lore. You can reskin these into swordwings, or take inspiration in swordwing abilities when building more hellwasp varieties.

Mechanically, they’re interesting without overstaying their welcome. It’s always fun to see a monster who can carry PCs off and drop them into lava pits.