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So bear with me on this

So I'm working on constructing a world for a DnD game that I am going to be running. I have a general idea of the world that I would like to develop, but am getting stuck on fleshing out some details.

The general setting is the usual Tolkienesque high fantasy set in a dark ages-like medieval faux-European continent. The action takes place in a small town that is nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains.

I have this idea for the big bad guy (the Baron) at the end which I have described in this question on the roleplaying site. In short the end boss is a cross between Dorian Gray with a sprinkle of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He has made a Faustian bargain with a being, lets call him Stan, that is kinda like the devil. Ie, Stan is a god tier being that is lawful evil.

The gimmick of the Baron is that in order to maintain his immortality, he is compelled to maintain a diary. Each entry effectively granting him another unit of lifetime (the frequency is still up in the air here). The Baron's immediate goals arise from his need to maintain this book. He is constantly desiring raw materials that he can use to manufacture new pages and other book binding resources. (I mean there is no reason for the diary to be a single volume, and so he probably has a library full of various volumes of the ongoing document). At the time the players fall into the story, the Baron has been maintaining the diary for hundreds of years (approx 3 centuries say).

I now am considering that the content of the book must be somehow important to the goals of Stan. But How?

For the record, Stan has been banished to the underworld after a big fight with the other big powerful divine things that happened about the time he made the original deal with the Baron.

So my thinking is now something like: Stan is raising a fiendish hell army. He needs to keep track of some strategic information. He makes a bargain with a mortal to record a diary, and in so doing buys a spy. But what information would Stan need that the Barons diary might provide?


As another thread to this I think it would be fun if the Baron had started a religion in which the principle ritual is in someway assisting Stan's goals but in a way that is not obvious to anyone (bonus points for it not being obvious to the Baron).


My general thoughts on the resolution

I recently read about the famines in Ukraine in the 1930's and consider that perhaps the principle resource that both Stan and the Baron would care about is food. The Baron cares about grain because it is the chief export of his protectorate and so represents a measure of his wealth. Stan on the other hand cares about food because it measures the health of the world that he is planning to invade.

And I think that Stan is looking at this with the mindset of a warship manufacturer. His army is going to be expensive, and take centuries of construction. I fell like a titanic hell fiend should take more than a human lifetime to gestate. So he wants to be monitoring the enemies food supply so that he can allocate his own resources more effectively.

Likewise, if the Baron has instantiated cultural rituals around offering food to the gods, well maybe that food is really going to Stan, who is using it to raise his Hellish armies.

Edit:
Thank you all for your fantastic ideas. There are so many good options here that I genuinly don't know how to pick an accepted answer! I really like the idea of immortality being a mechanism to compound the value of the soul, and the idea that the collected works might somehow oneday transfer Stans essence to the mortal plane when complete. I also really like the idea that the barony is a bread basket and mixing that with the Castle Gormenghast elements is right on the money for the Holodomor vibe I was chasing!

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    $\begingroup$ This isnt a worldbuilding problem. This is a problem of figuring out the motivation of a character you've created in a world that is already built. Such character driven questions are not a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 30 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ "What are all these books? Where are the cows? The cows! Let me see that contract..." $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Apr 30 at 16:50
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    $\begingroup$ @sphennings You can make worldbuilding solutions. For example, the content of the diary gives power to the mystic and divine ways that gods fight each other. This would require creating a world where the gods don't just fight by the sword. The OP alludes to a religion, but what would that be. There's plenty to worldbuild here. $\endgroup$
    – frеdsbend
    Apr 30 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ @AndrewMicallef Butter, actually but otherwise that is right. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Apr 30 at 23:09
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    $\begingroup$ @frеdsbend We also have a restriction on brainstorming and idea generation. We're here to help solve problems with building a world not build people's worlds for them. Saying "you can brainstorm some fact of the world that could motivate a character" is does not resolve issues with this question. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 30 at 23:10

16 Answers 16

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New Layer Of Hell.

In typical D&D fashion, all the fiends are constantly feuding with each other for power and influence.

Stan is a medium rank devil. From a mortal's point of view, he is godlike. But unlike more powerful devils, he does not control his own layer of Hell.

Enter the Ritual. A 301 year long ceremony to turn Barony A into a new layer of hell under the command of Arch Duke Stan.

You see, every Archduke has psychic access to all the comings and goings in their realm. The ritual works the opposite way -- take a realm and write diaries to give the new lord access.

The ritual makes the diaries indestructible. And once enough information is obtained, Stan can enact the second half of the ritual to transfer all of that information into his brain.

There are some story hooks here. For one thing, the final battle is, of course, with Stan in the library. Since he is only Medium power, the players can fight him directly once they reach high level.

Maybe the library is part of the battle. Stan keeps opening books and throwing them into different memories during the fight.

Maybe going inside the books happens well before the final battle. Finding a single volume of the diary could happen in session 1.

Over the next few sessions, the players get an idea what the diary is. Later they can go inside the memories of the diary.

Perhaps the volume they find is Volume 2. It gives some details about what the Baron is up to without saying explicitly, there is a Devil involved. Since the Baron appears in the diary himself, it certainly says the Baron is hundreds of years old! It is a good tool for exposition.


Depending on how Devil-y you want Stan to be, you can do loads of fun stuff. In D&D, devils are like lawyers. It might be the ritual only works through a silly loophole in the Devil Constitution. Since Archdukes come and go, the duke of a realm is defined legally as someone with psychic access. So giving yourself psychic access -- even if you are not especially powerful -- makes you archduke. And everyone then has to recognise your status. Easy peasy.

Another option is that having a layer of Hell on the Earth is a big deal. The Blood Constitution says Devil lords may not come to Earth. Devils can only come when called, and can only interact as part of contracts. Otherwise, they must remain in Hell.

Maybe making PART of Earth into a plane of Hell immediately makes the whole of Earth into a plane of hell. With Stan as Archduke of a small region, and the mortal kings and queens as Archdukes of the other regions.

In either case, with a Chunk of Hell on Earth, the devils' options suddenly open up.

Once Barony A becomes Stanhold, you can have as many devils as you want roaming the streets. They no longer need a densely-worded contract to stab you up the backside with a red-hot pitchfork for all eternity. They only need the pitchfork.

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  • $\begingroup$ Double plus for the DnD session scheme! This is all super helpful, and actually sounds a tonne more fun than what I was originally thinking. Thank you! $\endgroup$ May 1 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ Are there any good examples of teleporting players into the memories? I have stipulated that my players are illiterate (unless they give a good reason not to be). I can imagine a mage reading the book and getting sucked into the past, but what happens to the rest of the party if she wasn't reading aloud? Are they staring at a petrified mage, or is this happining in seperate timescales...seams like a question for another site... $\endgroup$ May 1 at 1:06
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    $\begingroup$ @AndrewMicallef No examples spring to mind. I suggest time in the book is the same as time outside. Simply to make dealing with characters inside the book and characters outside easier. Though I'd be reluctant to have some players inside and some outside for any length of time, and would tell the players, simply to make things easier for me. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    May 1 at 11:39
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    $\begingroup$ @AndrewMicallef I also suggest (a) The first time the book is used it triggers a loud bang or bad smell that alerts the other players to investigate (b) You enter the memory world by touching the reader. I expect this to happen to some of the investigators until the players figure out how it works (c) The ritual is broken if you close the book or knock it from the readers hands, for example with a stick or broom (d) The ritual can be used on several willing people by reading aloud. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    May 1 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron: With b.), you could easily make it a chain effect as well (Anyone sent in can also suck someone else if they are touched), and have it be a friendly and/or important NPC be the person who first encounters the book. $\endgroup$ May 1 at 21:57
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The diary is a ruse; the devil's goal is merely to corrupt the baron.

He has no specific repayment in mind. His goal is simply to give the baron immortality in hopes that, like the parable of Gyges, freedom from the consequences of his actions tempts him into evil. What does an immortal ruler fear from an uprising of some peasant rabble? They don't have the devil's power on their side! (Yet.) What does he need with an heir, a family, the human connections that might stir his sympathies? He has no need to pass his lands on to anyone; he will reign for all time. And so, freed from the human frailties that might have kept his darker urges in check, the baron can become a great power for evil.

But why demand anything at all? Well, everyone knows the devil doesn't just give you things. The devil's generosity is reason to be very suspicious indeed! Instead of merely giving the baron immortality and having the baron constantly wonder why, it's better to let him barter down the price for it and let the baron think he got away with a bargain. (Pride, too, serves the devil.) And if the baron does think that something's fishy about the deal, he's more likely to suspect that the price is higher than he thinks - just like you did, he'll jump to the conclusion that the diary is important to the devil. Like any con artist, the devil wants him to be certain of that wrong premise, because questioning it won't lead the baron any closer to the truth.

By getting the baron to accept the premise that the devil is doing him a favor in granting him immortality, the devil is concealing the much greater benefit he gains from the baron's evil being meted out across the land, no doubt corrupting his followers in turn, and making the people of the barony desperate enough to call out for any aid... even a fiend's. The devil might be passing up a prize now (although the baron's soul is probably not going good places one way or the other), but for the promise of many more future prizes.

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Installment Soul Payments

A person's soul is a big, powerful, important thing that grows as they do. It cannot be sold when you're twenty, because you only have twenty years of it to sell. Of course, you can make a lump-sum bargain on your soul, offering to give it at the end of your life... but as the person selling your soul, you have to recognize that "If you make me immortal, I'll give you my soul when I die" has got some serious perverse incentives for Stan to subtly undermine the immortality he offers.

So instead, you sell your soul in installments, paid continuously throughout your artificially extended life. Now, incentives are much more aligned: the devil keeps getting pieces of your soul as long as you live. Like the goose that lays golden eggs, the devil wants you to live as long as possible, as do you!

This narratively fits very well with the character getting a new extension of life with every diary entry, like paying their credit card bill every month. As to the mechanics of how writing the diary entry sells the Baron's soul... well, I think anyone who has kept an intimate diary can speak to how much of their soul they put into it. It's a very intimate, personal thing, and as a symbolic act of surrendering your spiritual essence, it's quite resonant.

The justification for why Stan wants soul energy in the first place has more to do with your magic/spiritual system, but "souls grant evil beings power" is enough of a classic story element that you probably don't even need to explain it.

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  • $\begingroup$ I really like this, and the classic tropes make it a much easier sell. I don't have to worry as much about making the economics balance out. But I'm going to leave the question open a little longer all the same 😊 $\endgroup$ Apr 30 at 8:11
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    $\begingroup$ @AndrewMicallef In addition to the 'paying a credit card' metaphor, consider this like Stan going into soul agriculture, abandoning the very intensive hunting-and-gathering of mortal souls with the much simpler option of planting some long-lasting crops and stocking up on soul-grain, or making a self-milking cow like the Baron here. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel B
    Apr 30 at 10:11
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    $\begingroup$ An interesting twist might be that the diaries are filled with repetitions of the same story. Like a mad man, the Baron repeats it daily, mutters it to himself. It's the dedication that feeds Stan, like prayer or worship. $\endgroup$
    – frеdsbend
    Apr 30 at 21:40
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Psychometry, The Horcrux, and The Portal:

Stan is in a bit of a bind. He's in exile, and his ability to do things outside the underworld is now really limited. He is, however, a really clever guy, and not too proud to get himself out of exile on the cheap. He's willing to take the long game and bide his time.

Psychometry is about a little bit of a person transferring to the objects around them. A person living in a house for years leaves a bit of themselves behind and haunts the place when they die. Objects close to a person reveal information about them because they are now tied to that person. In the course of a normal lifetime, the amount of a person (their "soul") transferred to objects is fairly small. But now you make someone fixate on an object, and do it for centuries. The Baron is slowly transferring his soul into the diaries.

With his soul outside his body, the diaries are functionally like a horcrux, protecting the Baron from death. He's slowly building a ring of bookshelves in his library imbued with his soul. These can be functionally a portal (like a magic circle, but in reverse), or they can be the power source to open a portal that is at the center of the circle (pre-built by Stan for one of these "Just in case" scenarios that has now come up).

The Baron's soul will be the power source for opening the portal (Stan's escape hatch), allowing Stan to manifest in your world and escape confinement. As soon as the Baron is done transferring his soul to the diary, Stan can materialize, taking possession of the Baron's now-empty body and all of the Baron's armies, wealth, and power. Not a bad starting point for Stan.

Has the Baron gotten immortality? Well, if it works, people will remember the Baron's role in unleashing Stan forever.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like this idea. Sounds just like the sort of thing Stan would do. $\endgroup$ Apr 30 at 17:03
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The Baron's immediate goals arise from his need to maintain this book. He is constantly desiring raw materials that he can use to manufacture new pages and other book binding resources.

This would not be a problem for a rich noble ruling a province. At least, not if the materials were ordinary parchment and ink, plus wood, thread and leather for ordinary bookbinding.

One way that Stan could be corrupting the Baron is via obsession. If everything the Baron does is focused on maintaining the diary, on a grander and grander scale, that leads to the economy becoming distorted and the Baron's subjects undergoing increasing levels of suffering. That's effective corruption: the corruptee does all the creativity and work, Stan reaps the rewards.

So the first volumes of the diary are quite reasonable: a page a day or so, in properly bound volumes. But the volumes gradually grow larger, with more expensive bindings, and increasingly detailed accounts of each day. After a couple of decades, the baron has a team of scribes whose job is to collect every word he says. A couple more decades and there are teams of artists drawing sketches of every scene of the day.

A few decades, and the Baron insists on being observed at night, so that every change in position in bed is recorded; pretty soon he's having his mind being read day and night so that every thought and dream is recorded. Of course, he has to approve each day's record, which takes an increasing amount of his time. To make this easier, his days are pre-scripted so that the sketches can be done in advance, allowing the daily oil paintings to be produced in time.

Since the Baron's staff and administrators share his obsession, nothing apart from the diary is treated as important, and the country gradually collapses. Outsiders who venture to suggest that something is wrong are expelled, or executed if they happen to disrupt a day's plan by disturbing the Baron's expression, making the relevant painting inaccurate.

If you have read the Gormenghast series, use that atmosphere, and turn up the obsessiveness of the rituals. If you haven't, it's strongly recommended.

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  • $\begingroup$ That sounds very much inline with the tinpot dictator I had in mind. The place may have been a bread basket, but ever since Comrade Baron started orchestrating everything production has dried up. Would you recommend a particular title in the series as a good example for me to read first? $\endgroup$ Apr 30 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ > This would not be a problem for a rich noble ruling a province. I think he is a rich noble when we meet him, but I see no reason why he should have been at the time of the deal :P. Also medieval ink would not be cheap you need three ingredients from three corners of the known world! $\endgroup$ Apr 30 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ @AndrewMicallef: Start at the beginning, with Titus Groan. The series is essentially one very long episodic story. $\endgroup$ Apr 30 at 23:27
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The baron rules a breadbasket

Many major empires have a bread basket. The Greek empires had Crimea, in the Ukraine. The Chinese had Sichuan. The Roman Empire had Egypt. Their vast harvests fed by the fertilizer of the Nile let them fuel an empire that stretched across Europe, Asia, and Africa. When the grain from Egypt dried up, the Roman Empire fell.

The baron has an extremely fertile and wealthy country, with a well set up and efficient bureaucracy to collect taxes and administrate his territory. They supply a decent percentage of worldwide food- perhaps 20-40%, depending on how good harvests are elsewhere, and have trade networks that spread worldwide.

The baron funds wars.

Due to their immense wealth, the baron has a huge amount of wealth and supplies available. Countries that want to go to war or do some expensive public order project often have to get a loan from the baron.

Kings, emperors, and lords come from across the world to share stories and beg for the favor of the baron. Their notes of money are valuable from the densest stone cities to the deepest green forests.

If there's a large project somewhere, there's a good chance the baron is involved.

Stan gets supplies, information, and influence.

They can vary the material needed for each diary. While the early ones may have been simple ink and paper, the later ones could be human skin, elf skin, demon skin, ink from a rare squid in the deep ocean.

By varying the needed materials for the diary they can encourage the baron to influence the world and gather information in useful ways. They can also encourage religious development that directs food supplies to their own armies.

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The Baron is Stan's telegraph

Do anything very many times and you'll eventually do it unconsciously. A pedestrian example: the first time you washed the dishes, you had to pay attention to each dish -- how to hold it and rotate it as you scrub it, which parts require the most cleaning, etc. But now you're an adult who has washed the dishes thousands of times, and you can do the washing while watching TV and mentally planning your day: you're completely absent.

Thus it is with the Baron. The price of immortality seemed trivial when he made the pact, but he had a second think about it when he sat down that first night to scratch out the first of (hopefully) a million "Trew & Compleat" diary entries (as stipulated by his contract with Stan, signed, as you would expect, with his own human blood). Try it some time; you'll find it's harder than you'd expect.

But the days turned to months, then years, then centuries, and, practice making perfect, it did get easier -- so easy that the Baron even failed to notice the occasion of his 100,000th diary entry (very near the end of his 274th year of immortality). These days he hardly gives it a second thought: sit down at his writing desk, grab the quill and ink pot, do a quick jot, then off to bed. (A servant collects the page and places it with the others, to eventually be bound together into a volume.) In all honestly, the Baron probably couldn't tell you what he wrote last night.

And that is precisely how Stan likes it:

Automatic writing, also called psychography, is a claimed psychic ability allowing a person to produce written words without consciously writing -- Wikipedia

The Baron has been unknowingly transcribing Stan's direct orders for his secret cultists here on the mortal plane, orders he receives through a spiritual link established between the two of them as part of the immortality enchantment. That is what flows from his hand while his mind is elsewhere.

The servant who collects the pages is one such cultist, hired for that purpose at the Baron's own (unconsciously) written instruction in a note left with one of his diary pages in the early years of the project.

These days, the "diary entries" read just like telegrams from Hell, because that's what they are: orders for assassinations, instructions for growing the cult, letters of introduction used to establish links between sympathetic conspirators, threats that must be delivered verbatim to some target, intelligence gathered for the purpose of corrupting or blackmailing powerful people, etc.

The Baron's private library now boasts some three hundred volumes of The Life & Times of Baron K----, each painstaking assembled, by a long succession of the Baron's assistants, from 365 pages of fine writing paper.

Except for the first three volumes, every single page in every book is blank.

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    $\begingroup$ One advantage of this approach is you could have someone catch sight of the pages of the "Telegrams", and have a potential starting point for how they are transcribed. Either as Demonic Morse Code, or "Do <X> action against <Y> group STOP". $\endgroup$ May 2 at 3:16
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The Baron knew the deal was too good to be true. Immortality for the price of a dairy? But his goals require risk, and so a risk he took. Then when the Baron was in danger, Stan provided a second deal - tear out a page in your dairy, and you'll have the power to defeat your foes. So the Baron did - the instant the page was torn free, a foul and mighty pit fiend stood in his place, mercilessly crushing his enemies. And so Baron found the ploy - Stan had planned this to put unlimited power within reach, each time costing a bit of his soul.

Seemingly secure in his knowledge of Stan's plan, the Baron hoards the pages in his dairy, only using them in the most dire of situations. Stan of course manipulates things so that the Baron is tempted to pull a page, but can always just avoid doing so - the Baron narrowly "defeating" Stan each time.

Of course, that's just what Stan intends the Baron to believe. Stan is patient - if one page temporarily unleashes a mighty pit fiend, what would two pages do? Ten? A thousand? A million? The Baron is far too smart to do such a thing. But one day, a wily hero will notice the Baron's obsession with the book, and think "surely this must be the source of the Baron's power?". That hero will steal the book, destroy it - and unleash hell.

The dairy is a portal to hell - each entry the Baron makes is an opportunity for Stan. When a single page is pulled, Stan empowers Baron, giving him his Jekyll/Hyde thing. But if lots of pages are pulled at once, Stan could get an army through. If enough pages are pulled, Stan himself may be able to get through.

And if that doesn't work, it's still not a complete loss for Stan. The Baron never did think what happened to the pages after he discarded them...

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  • $\begingroup$ Excellent twist! I like that angle a lot! $\endgroup$ May 2 at 4:21
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It is much simpler.

The diary is a gimmick, but it is also important. The important things in it are that (1) Baron is asked to use specific ingredients for ink, and (2) is asked to include at least one paragraph describing his surroundings.

At the time Stan was banished, this was the only thing he managed to set in motion -- the agreement with Baron.

The diary is linked to Stan in a way that allows Stan to portal to the place described in diary... but only during the day the entry was written in.

So he needs a new entry every day. And he needs the particular mortal who knows what to do. Hence the immortality.

The previous entries are useless, but since he is not confiding his plan to Baron, Stan might impress Baron to keep them intact, as a red herring.

Stan is usually not using the portal, but he might have risked using it once or twice. It is part of a plan set in motion that will allow him to enter the world when he is ready with his fiendish army.

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The archetypical way gods work in stories is Gods create sentients, sentients create faith, faith powers the Gods♤.

The Baron's diary will be scrutinized by Stan and his followers, and from it chapters will be made that will form the Great Book of Stan. This will be brought to the people who will read it (or have chapters told to them by followers) and will teach them the laws, wisdoms and advantages of having faith in Satn*.

This diary is to eventually generate a religion around Stan with the Baron as his immortal prophet, proof of his power and the rewards of eternal life you will receive♡. This creates a compelling reason to stop the Baron because if they dont then Stan. Will. Return.

♤alternative: sentients exist and have faith, create Gods.

*oops, imagine if I accidentally added an A rather than swapped the position! Copyright might have ensued!

♡please ignore the soul furnace at the end of the tunnel.

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1. The diary itself is designed to corrupt Each page of the diary must be made of parchment made from an intelligent creature, and inked in blood of the same. The baron must choose to kill and defile constantly corrupting his soul.

2. it's an experiment. Many stories tell of how immortality can be a curse, but your devil is skeptical, so he gives it to some random yahoo with the requirement of documenting their life so he can find out if it really is awful in the long run for mortal beings.

3. The baron's soul is important not the baron. Your devil is keeping the soul out of circulation by making the baron immortal, but he needs it to be the baron's choice to maintain it, he can't just screw up the cosmic balance on a whim he needs the mortal to choose to do it, hence the diary. Bonus, the baron gets to find out his death really would make the world a better place.

4. the baron is a roadblock to destiny. Someone favored by one of the positive realms is supposed to take over the baron's land/title when he dies and work some great good, making the baron immortal screws that up, the diary is just a McGuffin, but the sides of light might target to get the baron out of the way. Expect attempts to destroy the diary. Bonus moral conundrum for the baron if they find out.

5. the hubris red herring. Unbeknownst to the baron, he is not really immortal, just when he "dies" someone else dies in his place. The baron's cavalier attitude towards death is causing immense suffering. Works even better if the person who dies is one of the baron's peasants/subjects, or if they are all people from some remote village which the baron can later discover. The diary is just a red herring, although there is the bonus is after finding out the baron can now go back and learn how many people have died for his bargain. Bonus if someone else puts it together before the baron by reading/stealing the diary.

  1. combine several of the above, devils are intelligent they have plans within plans, no matter what happens it is win win for the devil.
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Long term investment

There is a scene in Good Omens where Crowley, a demon who is always up to date with whatever is trending, meets two of his colleagues who spend most of their time in hell. They talk about their achievements.

Lately one of the demons has corrupted a priest, and the other has corrupted a child. Meanwhile Crowley has turned off all cell phone signals in London during lunch time. The other demons don't understand the scope of this, but Crowley has managed to turn thousands into violent, swearing people (if only for an hour), causing ripples of evil that will spread through history.

Later in the book Crowley faxes Microsoft Windows's End User License Agreement to hell, along with a note saying "learn, guys".


This is just to say that the evil that is now doesn't have to be big. It just has to be a seed. The Marquis of Sade's One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodomy [1] and his other works have much more impact nowadays than it did some 300 years ago. Likewise, with your baron, you have a work of evil art that will reach new heights when the printing press is invented. People will be inspired to do evil - or to accept evil being done to them - after reading that book.

[1] This book exists and features things such as a judge sentencing a man to death because he wanted to have sex with the man's daughter. The judge then promises the man's family a pardon in exchange for sex, has the sex, but has the man hanged anyway, in front of the man's daughter as he ravishes her. That is one of the least evil deeds in the book.

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The diary is a loophole

I like the answer by Cadence, but I think the diary can serve an additional purpose. Think about it... Can you maintain a diary for eternity ? Are you sure you won't miss a single day, forever ? This gives great flexibility for the Devil to just cancel his side of the deal whenever the baron is not useful for him anymore, because it is highly unlikely that the baron will have exactly fulfilled his side of the deal, especially if the Devil requires some specific things to be in the diary, but intentionally does not check on them for a long time at the beginning.

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He's got the barony exactly the way he wants it, and he wants to keep it that way.

He foresees that inheritance would muck it up -- anything from an observation that heirs often differ, to a vision that the heir will be a paladin who will consecrate the barony to a god of good.

Immortality will keep him in the world.

The diary will keep him in the barony, because if the diaries are destroyed, he loses the time. Furthermore, making a new diary is not cheap. He uses vellum, which lasts. For every volume, he must breed so many ewes to get so many lambs to get so many sheep for the sheepskin, and the making of the book is not cheap. Fleeing the barony will make this impossible.

Besides, he can rules lawyer a way that the Baron did it wrong if he wants out.

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The devil uses the content of the diary for corrupting other men and gain new souls.

Sure, the devil can corrupt men on its own, but having a diary written by some human can be more effective at corrupting its peers. Instead of "lead by example", it's "corrupt by example".

Stan needs just to write about his debauchery in the diary, and for sure his immortality and wealth will not make him lacking inspirational material.

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"Your words shall be written in the purest blue with ink made from crushed lapis lazuli, written on pages from trees which outlasted many generations. All you have written as such shall be your diary, and both the words on the inside, as well as your thoughts about them or the diary on the outside shall be known to me.

In return I promise: For as long as your diary grows, I will grant you unending life and a healthy, powerful body."

Magical materials for magical communication, and the materials are quite rare at that. On the surface, it looks like Stan is betting that the human eventually will fail to acquire them, while the human is betting the opposite.

Unbeknownst to the Baron however, his body got a new ability: To transfer some of his energy into the pages he writes, as long as he uses the specified ink and paper.

Multiple centuries, and ten thousands of pages later, the diary has become a magical powder keg - or a powerful resource.

At some point, the Baron probably has noticed. But what is he supposed to do about it? He can't get rid of it - it is literally his life line. He can't tell too many people about it, after all it's a treasure in itself. And spreading it out isn't an option either - if just one of his hideouts gets destroyed, it will throw him back more pages than he can write in the time he has left.

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