The Evil Pieces were created by Ajuka Beelzebub sometime during the 16th century using the crystals available in the Agreas Island to help replenish the number of Devils after the Great War which had caused the death of countless Devils. While many Devils were able to adapt to the Evil Pieces, the Old Satan Faction rejected the usage of the Evil Pieces, believing them to be a disgrace to Devils for reincarnating Humans and other races into Devils. The creation of the Evil Pieces eventually lead to the creation of the Rating Game.
Evil Pieces are commonly given to Pure-blooded High-class Devils, so that they can gather servants of their own. Reincarnated Devils are also given the chance to receive Evil Pieces should they rise in rank and become a High-class or Ultimate-class Devil like Tannin and Rudiger Rosenkreutz.
When a Devil receives the right to obtain the Evil Pieces they are required to go to the Satan's territory and touch a monument which functions as a replacement King Piece to register themselves as King.
If a King wishes to trade a Piece with another King, a ritual must be performed. A trading-purpose magic circle must be drawn. The Kings stand at the side of the magic circle while their pieces stand in the centre of it. The Kings increase their auras while putting their hands forward and activate the written Devil symbols to circulate. The auras of everyone around them begin to glow and synchronize, bypassing the magic circle. With that, the ritual will end and the trade is completed in a simple manner. A trade can still occur even if one of the pieces of the other party has not been used. It is also possible to trade multiple pieces simultaneously, even if they come from different peerages.
The Evil Pieces are identical to normal chess pieces in terms of appearance but will glow in accordance to the aura color of its users when in use.
Based on the game of chess, there are a total of 15 pieces (1 Queen ♛, 2 Rooks ♜, 2 Bishops ♝, 2 Knights ♞, and 8 Pawns ♟) that are given to High-class Devils (King ♚) with a peerage. These pieces are used to reincarnate other beings into Devils and become servants of the High-class Devil.
The reincarnation abilities of the Evil Pieces, however, are not absolute as they cannot reincarnate Gods/Buddhas and Dragon God into Devils even with a Mutation Piece. The recipients they're used on still retains features and abilities exclusive from their previous race.
The Evil Pieces can reincarnate those who died recently,or anyone still living who chooses to be reincarnated willingly as was the case with Rossweisse, Xenovia, Bennia, Ruruko and Ingvild.
Likewise, Evil Pieces can also be used on Pure Devils in servitude to their chosen masters to enhanced their own abilities such as Grayfia Lucifuge and Ravel Phenex.
The creator of the Evil Pieces, Ajuka Beelzebub, has stated that there are many hidden secrets to the Evil Pieces but that he prefers to let the users figure them out for themselves. Currently some known unique traits that have been shown include:
- When Issei's body was destroyed and his Evil Pieces were summoned away, Issei was able to temporarily channel his sword Ascalon through one of them, causing it to assume the form of the sword, allowing him to lend it to Yuuto Kiba.
- The Evil Pieces can reincarnate the spirits of Sacred Gears if they manifest themselves as shown with Regulus.
- The Evil Pieces can automatically appeared in the king's hand when they found a suitable partner to join his/her peerage.
The strengths, talents, and skills of the being to be reincarnated plays a large role in determining how many pieces will be used for reincarnation. Different Evil Pieces cannot be used together. Evil Pieces can also be exchanged between high-class Devils with peerages.
Queens (女王, Kuīn) are worth 9 Pawns. Queens possess all the characteristics of Rooks, Knights, and Bishops, making them the most balanced piece as well as the most powerful. Within individual peerages, Queens typically act as their master's second-in-command, overseeing the rest of the peerage.
Rooks (戦車, Rūku) are worth 5 Pawns. Rooks gain superhuman strength, leading to high offense and defense. However, they are not very quick, and can get beaten easily by a high-speed opponent. It was mentioned in Volume 2 and shown by Rias in Volume 4 that the King can perform Castling with a Rook piece. In later Rating Games, it is demonstrated that Castling can be performed with people who hold Rook pieces.
Bishops (僧侶, Bishoppu) are worth 3 Pawns. Bishops gain enhanced demonic power and magical abilities which they can use to conjure up a multitude of spells (offensive, healing, etc.). However, more powerful spells consume most of their demonic and magical powers, which takes a long time to regain, forcing them to use their power carefully or risk becoming vulnerable to physical attacks.
Knights (騎士, Naito) are worth 3 Pawns. Knights gain increased speed and mobility, enabling them to perform high-speed attacks and maneuvers. However, their main weakness is their low defense, making them vulnerable to powerful attacks if they are not careful. Another weakness among knights are their legs; if their legs are injured, their mobility is greatly reduced.
Pawns (兵士, Pōn) are worth 1 Pawn each. The traits of Pawns is the ability to promote into a Queen, Rook, Knight, or Bishop in enemy territory (as seen in the anime when Issei enters the church to save Asia) or with the permission of their King (as seen when Issei asked Rias for permission to promote before fighting Riser to break off the engagement).
There are also special pieces known as the Mutation Pieces (変異の駒, Myūtēshon Pīsu). If reviving a person requires more than one piece, then using one Mutation Piece would be sufficient in reincarnating that person instead of having to use several pieces. Mutation Pieces can be a Queen, Rook, Knight, Bishop, or Pawn. They are said to be very rare, and only 1 out of 10 Devils possess the Piece. The Mutation Piece is said to be a bug in the Evil Pieces system that was kept for fun. Normal Evil Pieces can also change into Mutation Pieces. This typically occurs as a result of some significant event of the reincarnated devil, as seen with Issei's Pawn Pieces transforming into Mutation Pieces.
Another feature installed in the Evil Pieces are the Unused Evil Pieces, which will undergo changes according to the master's growth, allowing the King to use less pieces when reincarnating other beings into Devils. Issei's unused Rook, for example, is now a Mutation Piece.
King (王, Kingu) pieces are rare pieces created in the early days of the Rating Games. Unlike the other pieces which grant special abilities, the King Piece simply boosts a person's power. However, the King piece's strengthening is anywhere from 10 to 100 times and more. There are restrictions to its use. One, the user cannot already have an Evil Piece(s) because the King piece would overlap with their current piece(s) and expose them to dangers. Two, the user can potentially die if they are too strong. There are only nine unused King Pieces in existence, but they were banned by the current government from use for fear that Devils would use it to pursue evil desires. After Volume 21, the King Pieces have been confiscated.
- Rias mentioned that the Evil Piece System was established in the past few hundred years, but the exact year was never stated. Meaning that it could've been active around the end of the 15th century and start of the 16th, as Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, a human soon reincarnated into a Devil lived in the 15th and "died" the same era.
- As Evil Pieces were based on real-life chess, when the earliest version was invented in India around the 6th century, then evolved into its more modern version in the 15th. As historically the queen and bishop pieces remained relatively weak until between 1475 AD and 1500 AD, the possible creation date of the Evil Pieces must lie between 1475 and 1535.
- Each of the Evil Pieces' standard values comes from the valuation of the chess piece relative value system Each value is important in assessessing the relative strength in potential exchanges, and is most commonly used in computer chess.
- All known Rooks don't own a genuine Sacred Gear.
- All known Queen are usually female but their are also males such as Tannin, Alivian, and Sectaas Barbatos.
- All known female Pawns have only consumed 1 Pawn Piece each.
- No Half or Mixed Devils have been issued Evil Pieces, likely as a result of the Underworld Government's focus on handing them out to Pure-Blooded Devils. But, Reincarnated Devils who becomes High-Class Devils recieves them upon promotion.
- Light Novel Volume 1, Life 2
- Light Novel Volume 22, Life 2
- Light Novel Volume 2, Life 2
- Light Novel Volume 15, Episode Azazel.1
- Light Novel Volume 8, Extra Life
- Light Novel Volume 12, Life -2
- Light Novel Volume 1, New Life
- Light Novel Volume 4, Life 4
- Light Novel Volume 2, Life ∞ vs Power ∞
- Light Novel Volume 4, Life 3
- Light Novel Volume 23, Life 3
- Light Novel Volume 7, New Life
- Light Novel Volume 20, Life 2
- Chess piece relative value system on Wikipedia.