Baator

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Greyhawk Plane
Nine Hells of Baator
Nine Hells01.jpg
A map of the Nine Hells.
Type Outer Plane
Layers Nine
Alignment Lawful Evil
Native Inhabitants Baatezu, kytons, hellcats, hell hounds, imps
Greyhawk Powers Tiamat, Bargrivyek, Kurtulmak, Sekolah, Bel, Dispater, Mammon, Belial, Levistus, Glasya, Baalzebul, Mephistopheles, Asmodeus, Baalzephon, other archdevils

The Nine Hells of Baator are the plane of evil law, home of the baatezu race of devilkind. The plane consists of nine layers arranged in descending order like a dark pit, the inversion of Celestia's ascending mountain.

Structure

As with other outer planes, Baator is spatially infinite, consisting of nine infinite layers or sub-planes. Baator's first layer, Avernus, shares borders with the neighboring planes of Gehenna, the Outlands, and the battlefields of Acheron; travel is possible between Avernus and these planes at certain locations. Baator's portals are huge hoops of reddish light guarded by abishai and amnizu.

Avernus

Avernus, the first layer of Baator, is blood, violence, domination, and death. Most of it is a rocky wasteland. Beneath the blood-red sky balls of fire burst unpredictably. They are said to be embodiments of the rage of the imprisoned Lord of the First, Zariel.

The River Styx flows through this layer, as does the appropriately named River of Blood.

From the gate in Ribcage the nearest site is the ruined city of Darkspine, where refugees desperately try to avoid the baatezu thought police while trying to do enough good to shift their town back to the Outlands.

In the center of it all is the Bronze Citadel of Bel, Warlord of Avernus, a tangled and continually growing collection of walls and buildings extending from the ancient fortress of the imprisoned ruler of the plane.

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The largest series of astral conduits on Baator lead to the Maggot Pit, a sea of squirming infernal larvae, beyond which the Dragonspawn Pits of Azharul sprawl in a cluster of tall hills and mountains. Beside the Pillar of Skulls is the gateway to Dis, guarded by Tiamat and her draconic and abishai servitors.

This layer is also the location of Abthalom, the "Abyss" of Takhisis (not to be confused with the Abyss). Vast legions of abishai serve the Queen of Darkness, milling through the Rallying Grounds and near the Temple of Takhisis and the Tower of High Sorcery.

Also in Avernus is Draukari, the realm of the kobold god Kurtulmak, who is said to be a brother or son of Tiamat. The towns in Draukari, hidden in the hills, mountains, and deep forests of the realm, are Frekstavik, Nibellin, and Snjarll. Kurtulmak's realm is often raided by goblins serving Bargrivyek, whose own realm "the Peaceable Lands" is nearby.

Garden seems to be an oasis, with fountains of delicious water and trees that put Arborea's to shame. Many are the explorers who brave the terrors of Avernus in the chance of finding it, but many of those who do are never heard from again. Is the Garden a refuge for souls that reached Baator by mistake, a lost paradise hidden by the gods, or a sinister lie?

Dis

Dis is the Second Hell of Baator. It is both a layer and a city of infinite expanse. The realm of Druaga, the Refuge of the Fallen, exists on the plains far outside the city walls.

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Dis is largely flat, with a sky of smoky green occasionally lit up by lightning. Black, stagnant rivers criss-cross its plains. Monolithic spurs of blackened, unworked iron - natural formations, as much as anything in Baator is natural (and that ain't much) - thrust out of the plains, growing more frequent as a traveler approaches the Iron City itself.

Although the Iron City of Dis has a wall, the transition from plain to the city itself is imperceptible. One moment a traveler is passing an iron spur, the next the traveler is in the middle of the city with the mighty iron walls surrounding everything that can be seen. It is thus much easier to enter the Iron City than it is to leave it; to leave, one must pass through the heavily guarded city gates (at least, unless the traveler has means of crossing planes of existence).

The iron walls and streets of the city smoke with intense heat, burning those who touch them without protection. Abishai, erinyes, spinagons, and lemures are common - so are soul shells, petitioners who retain their humanoid forms and memories, the better for Archduke Dispater to torment them. Bezekira, kocrachons, rakshasas, and hamatulas are also found thronging the streets of Dis.

The most prominent building in the Iron City is Dispater's tower of iron and lead, a skyscraping edifice that constantly changes shape. The streets, too, are constantly shifting, constantly being rebuilt by the tormented petitioners, confusing and sometimes choked with garbage.

Despite all this, Dis is the most populous and wealthy city in Baator, filled with planewalkers of all types who come to sample the city's terrifying delights.

Minauros

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Minauros is the Third Hell of Baator. It is a place of eternal acid rain and flesh-slicing hail. Mammon the Viscount is the ruler of Minauros.

Most of the layer is a vast dismal marsh of foul rotting soil, littered with carrion and pools of water. Through murky fog, one often encounters numerous carcasses soaking up the filthy rain. Another horrid feature of these lands are "cells." These are large shallow pits, filled to a depth of two or three feet with water. Chains and manacles of brass and iron are attached to huge stones laying at the bottom of the cells, where intruders and others captured by Mammon's barbed devil sentinels will be kept. The chained prisoners are forced to stand or sit in the chill, fetid water until they die from exposure or starvation, unless they are taken away for for torture or interrogation first. Fortunate prisoners escape, though occasionally the barbed devils will allow a prisoner to escape in order to hunt it for sport.

Toward the layer's center, Minauros rises into immense volcanic badlands of slime-filled rifts and ash-hills. The huge stone city of Minauros the Sinking can be found here, sitting in a marshy bowl in the center of these volcanic lands. The city is constructed of a black stone gleaned from another plane, perhaps a world on the Prime Material, and rests on mighty pillars that eternally sink into the foul bog that fills the layer.

Below the city are said to be the ruins of a town that once resided in the Outlands, a town filled with riches beyond dreaming. Hanging in the sky over the stink of Minauros can be found the city of Jangling Hiter, suspended by chains suspended from who knows what.

The realm of Hecate, Aeaea, is also located on Minauros, as is the realm of the Blood Queen of the aboleths.

Phlegethos

Phlegethos is the Inferno, a tortured layer of volcanoes, hills of ash, gouting fires, streams of magma, pits of smoking excrement, and burning sand beneath a screaming rain of magical fire flakes. The Fourth Hell is ruled by Great Belial and his daughter, Fierna.

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The ground of Phlegethos is always uncomfortably hot. This, as well as patrols of barbed devils, keep— most intruders constantly on the move. Tremors are common, and it is not unusual for the ground to violently erupt or fissures to open without notice. —The sky of Phlegethos is a dark, starless void, but constantly leaping flames provide weird illumination to the harsh landscape.

Rivers of liquid fire feed and emerge from at least two massive lakes where the flames burn brightest. This fiery "water" is inhabited by numerous wandering salamanders that were brought to the layer in days long past, to be bound in servitude to the master of the plane. Given that salamanders are not prone to taking orders, this didn't work out, and most were slain by Belial's servants and vassals. Those few who escaped remain bound to Phlegethos by Belial's magic, and continue to survive by avoiding large groups of baatezu and snatching lone individuals who venture too close to one of the fiery rivers.

The Pit of Flame is a boiling, fiery sea of refuse empowered by the primal energy of Baator. It is a place of both promotion and punishment for baatezu across the nine circles. Thousands of osyluths watch it to ensure that it is not abused.

Phlegethos' capital, Abriymoch, is a fortress city built on the lip of a volcano. It has little tolerance for outsiders, but important allies of Fierna, the Lord of the Fourth, have their places in its society. The pit fiend Gazra, commander of the hamatulas, dwells here in a palace of crystal.

Most of Phlegethos is inhabited by barbed devils, though other baatezu live there as well.

In the fiery plains beyond Abriymoch, the Sumerian goddess Inanna lives in a realm called the Jealous Heart.

Stygia

Stygia, the fifth layer of Baator, is a freezing layer of cold and ice dominated by a murky ocean fed directly by the River Styx. The surface of the ice is covered with chilly marshes. The dark sky is constantly filled with lightning storms, and the ice may be lit by weird cold flames.

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Tantlin, the City of Ice, is built on a huge ice floe with a large harbor to the river Styx, and is ruled over by a huge pit fiend. The lack of any kind of law enforcement leads itself to gangs controlling much of the city. Prince Levistus rules over this layer, frozen in a giant iceberg floating in the harbor.

Baatezu of this layer include amnizu, osyluths, and cornugons. In the water are giant octopi, sharks, squids, whales, sahuagins, and scyllans.

Some also still serve Geryon, who lives now in his Citadel Coldsteel. There he broods with his minotaur worshippers and thinks of vengeance, but mostly he still does the bidding of the Dark Lord of Nessus, who holds the key to his restoration. Doing his bidding is the wolf-headed duke Amon, though some claim that Amon is not as loyal as he seems, and serves Levistus in certain matters as well.

Beneath the ice is Sheyruushk, the realm of the sahuagin deity, Sekolah. On another ice floe is the realm called the Steadfast Chill, where Kriesha (a goddess of Cerilia) dwells.

Ankhwugat is the realm of Set. Set is the dark master of the desert, lord of serpents, jackals, assassins, and creatures of the wild. Though dark waters flow underneath his realm, its surface is hot and dry as the sands of Pelion, and those familiar with the realm of Nephythys there will see Ankhwugat as a twisted reflection of that one. When Set and Nephythys divorced, Set went to Stygia to forget his pain. Perhaps once all Stygia was like Ankhwugat, and perhaps, if Set has his way, it will be again. Some claim that Set is mad and wishes to transform the layer or even turn his realm into a new outer plane set between Baator and Acheron. Others say he only wishes to reunite with his estranged wife Nephythys, and that the mad ones are the baatezu who try to earn his favor. The common chant says that Set and Levistus are headed toward a showdown. The will of a Lord of the Nine is supposed to be absolute in his layer, but Set has the good will of Ra and Levistus is imprisoned in ice.

Malbolge

Malbolge, the Crushing Lands, is the Sixth Hell of Baator, a place of craggy, black stone and ash filled with stinking vapors, smoke, fire pits, and huge caves and caverns in which ancient Baatorians still lurk. The air is hot and choking, and the whole layer exists at a steep tilt so that no flat terrain exists. Falling is a constant danger here, as are rockslides and avalanches.

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The Sixth has had more known lords than any other layer of Hell. The earliest known ruler of Malbolge, the archdevil Beherit (along with his consort, Batna), was destroyed by Asmodeus for violating rules regarding the promotion of devils. Subsequently, the layer was ruled by Baalzebul through his viceroy, Moloch. When Moloch defied Asmodeus after the Reckoning of Hell, the former was exiled to Avernus, while rulership of the Sixth was passed on to Moloch's leman, Malagard the Hag Countess. Malagard's reign was short-lived, however, as she was deposed by Glasya, Asmodeus's daughter and current Lord of the Sixth. As of Fiendish Codex II, Glasya used the Hag Countess's body to reform Malbolge. Thus, the Sixth plane of Baator is in fact little more than the Hag Countess's innards and bones. The Countess is technically dead, though her life essence still remains on Malbolge.

Malbolge is a noisy place populated by tormented lemures, cornugons, and the occasional spinagon. Large numbers of lesser devils on this layer are missing all or part of at least one limb, or have some other sort of disfigurement or imfirmity--a testament to the days when Baalzebul and Moloch ruled here, both of whom delighted in the torture of their subjects.

The nobles of this layer dwell in copper fortresses, whose metal plating helps ward off the worst of the falling stones. The Hag Countess once traveled between these fortresses in disguise, testing the gentility of her subjects; she despised mindless brutality, and destroyed those who committed it.

Maladomini

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Maladomini is a hell of ruins, the seventh layer of Baator. Everything natural on the layer has been defaced, destroyed, or stripped away, replaced with strip mines, quarries, poorly maintained roads and bridges, rivers of molten lava, slag heaps, wasted cities, and polluted canals, filled with stinking vapors, earth tremors, fire pits, and mines. Petitioners and other refugees hide in the ruins. Underground, the ancient diabolic predecessors to the baatezu still lurk.

The archduke Baalzebul, the Lord of the Flies, rules this layer. He is never satisfied with his cities, always demanding that they be destroyed and rebuilt based on tiny, unnoticable flaws. Nothing less than perfection will do for him, even if he has to destroy his entire layer - indeed, all of Baator - to acheive it.

The major intact cities are Grenpoli, the city of treachery and diplomacy run by the erinyes noble Mysdemn Wordtwister, a fortress called the Relentless, and Malagard, a city of black spires from which Baalzebul himself rules.

Cania

Cania, the Eighth Hell, is the eighth layer of Baator. It is dominated by intense, freezing cold, and is extremely hostile toward those who are unwelcome on the layer, which includes nearly every being that enters. It is the home of the gelugon baatezu.

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Cania is ruled over by Mephistopheles. The seat of his power is the citadel Mephistar, which sits atop the glacier Nargus. The Lord of the Eighth can control the movement of Nargus.

Many things lie hidden under the ice of Cania: vast lost cities, frozen armies of creatures. The primary portal to access Nessus is through a gaping hole guarded by 9,999 gelugons. At the bottom of the dizzyingly deep pit is an icy body of water and 1,001 fathoms deep in that is a silvery portal to Malsheem.

Nessus

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Nessus is the Ninth Hell, the deepest layer of Baator. It is a plain shattered by rifts deeper than the deepest ocean trench. Many of the ravines and canyons here reach thousands of miles into undifferentiated, dead stone. Most of the trenches seem natural, but some appear as if they were cut or blasted into the land. Rumor has it that an offshoot of the River Styx flows here and there, dropping into trenches and trickling its way across the layer. Few know how to reach this tributary, if it exists at all.

A rift of incredible depth and width lies immediately below the layer boundary between Cania and Nessus. Malsheem, the Citadel of Hell, rises in its dark, elegant, fiendish beauty from the trench. From here, the Overlord of Hell, Asmodeus, rules the plane of Baator.

See also

Bibliography

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