Abyss

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Greyhawk Plane
Infinite Layers of the Abyss
Abyss01.jpg
The Abyss, as depicted in the Manual of the Planes (2001).
Type Outer
Layers Infinite
Alignment Chaotic Evil
Native Inhabitants Demons, bodaks, chole dragons, eyewings, fetches, fireshadows, gremlins, galltrits, mara, vargouilles, varrangoin
Greyhawk Powers Diinkarazan, Vaprak, Merrshaulk, Ramenos, Laogzed, Urdlen, Kanchelsis, Grankhul, Skiggaret, Eshebala, Great Mother, King of Ghouls, Demon lords

The Abyss or more fully, the Infinite Layers of the Abyss, is a chaotic evil-aligned plane of existence. It exists as one of a number of alignment-based Outer Planes that form part of the standard Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) cosmology.

Description

The description of the Abyss varies some between different editions, campaign settings and even individual accessories. This can be viewed as canonical status of the plane of the Abyss changing, or as an in-character explanation that the conflicting information is the result of misinformation spread by the demons themselves, and of misunderstandings by those who study them.

One description of the Abyss presents it as a region of intense, extreme, and unforgiving climates, with layers consisting of overwhelmingly fierce desert sandstorms, explosively unstable volcanic activity, boiling lava, and molten rock, blinding, sub-zero Arctic glaciers, bottomless oceans filled with enormous leviathans, heaving mountains of flesh, nauseatingly putrid environments saturated with disease-causing fungi, and the endless, existential void of infinite space.

The Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss sourcebook suggests the possibility that the Abyss is actually alive, and that it spawns demons out of its urge to spread chaos and destruction.

Inhabitants

The Abyss is the home of one of the principal combatants in the blood war, the tanar'ri, a class of demon that rule the plane. Various other chaotic evil creatures and deities inhabit the plane, including undead and even some renegade celestials.

The petitioners of the Abyss are called manes. They have pale white skin, sharp teeth and claws, and maggots are reported to crawl through their flesh. Manes that survive for many years may be promoted to lesser forms of demon.

The demon lords inhabit the Abyss, including Demogorgon, Graz'zt, Lolth, and Pazuzu. Many evil deities make their home here including Vaprak, the Great Mother and Diinkarazan, a mad, imprisoned deity of the derro.

Structure

Like other outer planes, the Abyss is spatially infinite and supposedly consists of an infinite number of layers, or sub-planes.

The first layer shares its borders with the neighboring planes of the Windswept Depths of Pandemonium, the Outlands, and the Tarterian Depths of Carceri; travel is possible between the Abyss and these planes at certain locations. The portal to the Outlands gate-town of Plague-Mort is found beneath the town of Broken Reach in the Abyss. Most other portals to neighboring planes take the form of dark pits in the ground, indistinguishable from those pits that lead to lower layers of the plane.

The River Styx flows through the Abyss to many other lower planes, and as such can be used to gain access to those planes. In the Abyss, it is known to flow through the layers of Pazunia, Wormblood, the Blood Shallows, the Sighing Cliffs, Thanatos, the White Kingdom, Shedaklah, Shendilavri, Goranthis, Durao, and Gaping Maw, among others.

A gate to the Abyss exists in the dungeons beneath Onyxgate in Nyrond.

Layers

The Abyss is said to consist of an infinite amount of layers, though the total number of layers is also quoted as 666. Layers are numbered based upon order of discovery by various personalities in the background details of the game, as documented by the Fraternity of Order faction of the Planescape setting. Discrepancies in layer numbers between supplements and sources can be explained as catalogs that have been compiled by different sources.

It is impossible to know with any certainty whether layers are actually arranged in this precise order, in contrast to the known ordering of layers within all the other planes of the D&D cosmology. A useful metaphor is a deck of playing cards shuffled and then tossed down so they are piled together loosely, randomly, and sometimes not at all.

A list of layers named so far in D&D supplements includes:

  • 1 - Pazunia (also known as The Plain of Infinite Portals or The Palace of 1001 Closets) has been described as an infinite plane with only three types of distinct features:
    • The river Styx flowing through it (as it does through the top layers of other evil planes).
    • Large sinkholes which connect to other layers of the Abyss, some were drilled intentionally by ancient demons during the Abyss' original exploration. The largest of these holes is the Grand Abyss.
    • Iron Fortresses which guard the physical bodies of Demon Princes when they leave the Abyss to travel astrally.
  • 2 - Driller's Hives, realm of Tharzax the Chattering Prince.
  • 3 - The Forgotten Land, realm of Zzyczesiya the Ungrasped.
  • 4 - The Grand Abyss, a bottomless, nigh-infinite canyon that contains portals to virtually every other layer in the Abyss.
  • 5 - Wormblood
  • 6 - Realm of a Million Eyes, home to the Great Mother, creator goddess of the beholders.
  • 7 - Phantom Plane, realm of the demon lord of the lizard kings, Sess'Innek.
  • 8 – The Skin-shedder, realm of Volisupula the Flensed Marquesse.
  • 9 - Burningwater
  • 10 - "That Hellhole"
  • 11 - Molrat
  • 12 - Twelvetrees
  • 13 - Blood Tor, realm of the goddesses Beshaba and Umberlee from the Forgotten Realms setting. (2nd edition AD&D)
  • 23 - Iron Wastes, home to Kostchtchie, Prince of Wrath.
  • 27 - Malignebula, realm of the Abyssal lord Lissa'aere the Noxious.
  • 32 - Sholo-Tovoth: The Fields of Consumption, realm of Turaglas the Ebon Maw.
  • 45 - Rauwend is the first of the three layers that make up Graz'zt's triple realm, which is collectively called Azzagrat. Other sources list these as layers 42 to 44. In First Edition AD&D, Graz'zt's layer is an infinite palace which filled his entire layer.
  • 46 - Shadowsky is the second of Graz'zt's three layers.
  • 47 - Vhoorzzt is the third layer of Azzagrat. Like Rauwend and Shadowsky, it is controlled by Graz'zt.
  • 48 - Nerebdian Vast, desert realm bordering both Azzagrat and Shaddonon. (Dragon #360) Called Skeiqulac, the Ocean of Tears, in Demonomicon (2010).
  • 49 - Shaddonon, realm of the demon lord Rhyxali, Princess of Shadow.
  • 52 - Vorganund
  • 53 - Phage Breeding Grounds
  • 57 - Torturous Truth, realm of the Abyssal lord Alvarez the Purging Duke.
  • 65 - Court of the Spider Queen, Lolth's realm.
  • 66 - The Demonweb Pits, home of Lolth, queen of spiders and principal deity of evil drow, particularly in the Vault of the Drow. In the first edition Manual of the Planes, Lolth's Web is located on the 65th layer, from there access is possible to the 66th layer, where her realm and spider-ship is located.
  • 67 - The Heaving Hills (Hezrou realm)
  • 68 - The Swallowed Void
  • 69 - The Crushing Plain (also called Gibbering Hollow, Ollomegh's realm).
  • 70 - The Ice Floe
  • 71 - Spirac, hunting grounds of the demon lords.
  • 72 – Darklight, realm of Nocticula the Undeniable.
  • 74 - Smargard, home to Merrshaulk the yuan-ti deity and Ramenos the bullywug deity. Also contains The Viper Pit (Sseth's realm; Powers & Pantheons), and the Silent Temple (Planar Handbook).
  • 79 - The Emessu Tunnels, realm of Anarazel the Daring Darkness.
  • 81 - The Blood Shallows, contested realm.
  • 88 - The Gaping Maw (or Brine Flats or Abysm), home to Demogorgon, Prince of Demons, one of the highest-ranking demons in the abyss.
  • 89 - Shadowsea, oceanic realm of the demon lord Dagon, Prince of the Depths.
  • 90 - The Guttering Cove, realm of Ilsidahur the Howling King.
  • 99 - Unnamed contested layer consisting of several distinctive realms (from first edition AD&D module Tales of the Outer Planes); one is where demons are spawned, another is a lightning realm, in another can be found portals leading to Juiblex and Kali's layers.
  • 100 - The Barrens (Oublivae's realm).
  • 111 - The Mind of Evil, realm of Sch’theraqpasstt the Serpent Reborn.
  • 113- Thanatos, the realm of Orcus, Demon Prince of the Undead. Some sources quote this as layer #333 or #133.
  • 128 - Slugbed, realm of the Abyssal lord Lupercio the Baron of Sloth.
  • 137 - Outcasts' End, realm of Azazel, Prince of Scapegoats.
  • 142 - Lifebane, realm of the god Chemosh from the Dragonlance setting. (2nd edition AD&D)
  • 148 - Torrent
  • 176 - Hollow's Heart, realm of the demon lord Fraz-Urb'luu, which, due to his magical illusions, appears to be flat, colorless, and featureless to the human eye.
  • 177 - The Writhing Realm, realm of Ugudenk the Squirming King.
  • 181 - The Rotting Plain, realm of the troglodyte god Laogzed.
  • 191 - Fountain of Screams
  • 193 - Vulgarea, realm of the foxwoman goddess Eshebala.
  • 222 - Shedaklah (aka The Slime Pits), home to Juiblex Demon Prince of Slimes, and Zuggtmoy, Demon Queen of Fungi.
  • 223 - Offalmound, former realm of the dead god Moander from the Forgotten Realms setting. (2nd edition AD&D)
  • 230 - The Dreaming Gulf, a windy realm home to the dreams of dead gods.
  • 245 - The Scalding Sea
  • 248 - The Hidden Layer, realm of Eltab.
  • 274 - Durao (gateway layer), mustering ground for the armies of the Abyss as they prepare for battle in the Blood War.
  • 277 - Belistor, Yrsillar's realm.
  • 297 - The Sighing Cliffs, realm of the Demon Lady Lynkhab.
  • 300 - Feng-Tu, realm of the Chinese gods Tou Mu and Lu Yueh.
  • 303 - The Sulfanorum
  • 313 – Gorrison's Grasp, site of Illssender's Tower
  • 333 - The Broken Scale, realm of the god Hiddukel from the Dragonlance setting. (2nd edition AD&D)
  • 340 - The Black Blizzard
  • 357 - The Arc of Eternity, realm of Eldanoth the Bloodless Scion.
  • 377 - Plains of Gallenshu
  • 400 - Woeful Escarand (Nalfeshnee Realm), a court at which newly arrived larvae and sometimes other demons are judged
  • 403 - The Rainless Waste, site of Mal Arundak, the City of Confusion (Fallen archon realm)
  • 421 - White Kingdom, ruled by the King of Ghouls, once a vassal to Orcus, vassaled to Yeenoghu, briefly a free agent, and now vassaled to Yeenoghu again.
  • 422 - The Seeping Woods, ruled by Yeenoghu, Demon Prince of Gnolls. Called "Yeenoghu's Realm" in Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss.
  • 452 - Ahriman-abad, realm of Ahrimanes, Chief of the Cacodaemons.
  • 487 - Lair of the Beast and Mansion of the Rake, realm of the vampire god Kanchelsis.
  • 493 - The Steeping Isle, realm of Siragle the Ineffable.
  • 499 – Carroristo
  • 503 - Torremor, realm of the demon lord Pazuzu.
  • 507 - Occipitus, former realm of Adimarchus, the demon prince of madness.
  • 518 - Melantholep possible name of the nesting grounds of the chole dragons, or perhaps an unknown demon prince who rules the layer.
  • 519 - March of the Pierced Men.
  • 524 - Shatterstone, realm of the ogre god Vaprak.
  • 528 - Molor, the Stinking Realm is a layer under the control of Juiblex. It includes the town of Thullgrime and a bottomless cavern known as the Maw of Eternity. It's described in the 4th edition supplement The Plane Below.
  • 531 - Vudra, realm of the giant marilith Shaktari, the Queen of Poison.
  • 550 - Forest of Living Tongues.
  • 558 - Fleshforges, realm of Dwiergus the Chrysalis Prince.
  • 566 - Soulfreeze, realm of Aseroth the Winter Warlock.
  • 570 - Shendilavri, realm of the demon lady Malcanthet, Queen of the Succubi.
  • 586 - Prison of the Mad God, realm of the derro god Diinkarazan.
  • 597 - Goranthis, realm of Socothbenoth the Persuader.
  • 600 - Endless Maze, the realm of Baphomet, Prince of Beasts. The demoness Pale Night resides here as well.
  • 601 - Conflagratum, realm of the Abyssal lord Alzrius, Lord of Infernal Light.
  • 628 - Vallashan, a layer designed to allow temporary victory to conquering armies of good alignment, only to then corrupt the conquerors and turn them against themselves
  • 643 - Caverns of the Skull, realm of the Black Earth Mother Kali, the goddess of destruction. In First Edition AD&D, Kali's layer was #500 and was a jungle of blood-red vegetation bordering a sea of blood.
  • 651 - Nethuria, realm of Vucarik, Consort of Chains.
  • 652 - The Rift of Corrosion
  • 663 - Zionyn, realm of the demon lord Obox-ob, Prince of Vermin.
  • 665 - Unnamed. A bottomless black void where victims fall until the winds flay the flesh from their bones. (Blood Hostages)

Unnumbered layers:

  • Demonwing is an Abyssal layer that has been changed by Demogorgon into a plane-crossing, flying ship. It features in the adventure A Paladin in Hell by Monte Cook.
  • The Plains of Rust is another unnumbered layer, once the site of a diabolic colony before Orcus and Juiblex caused all iron on the layer to crumble. It's described in The Plane Below.
  • The Spires of Rajzak is a layer of canyons inhabited by demonic hordes and a maddened, indescribable demon lord known as Rajzak, also from The Plane Below.

Creative origins

The name of the Abyss was based on the Abyss of Milton.

See also

Bibliography

  • Baker, Richard, Rob Heinsoo, and James Wyatt. Manual of the Planes. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2008.
  • Baker, Richard, Travis Stout, and James Wyatt. Player's Guide to Faerun. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2004.
  • Boyd, Eric. "Wells of Darkness." Dungeon #148. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2007.
  • Dobson, Michael, and Douglas Niles. The Throne of Bloodstone. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1988.
  • Cook, Monte. A Paladin in Hell. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 1998. ISBN 0-7869-1210-3
  • -----. The Planewalker's Handbook. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1996.
  • Grubb, Jeff. Manual of the Planes. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1987.
  • King, J. Robert. Blood Hostages. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1996.
  • McComb, Colin. Faces of Evil: The Fiends. Renton, WA: TSR, 1997.
  • -----. On Hallowed Ground. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1996.
  • -----. Well of Worlds. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1994.
  • McComb, Colin, and Monte Cook. The Great Modron March. Renton, WA: TSR, 1997.
  • -----. Hellbound: The Blood War. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1996.
  • Schneider, F. Wesley. "The River Styx." Dragon #358. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2007.
  • Schwalb, Robert J. "Into the Maw." Dungeon #147. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2007.

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