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    Infinite Layers of the Abyss Part II
    Posted on Fri, November 10, 2023 by LordCeb
    Osmund-Davizid writes "

    The collective work of the Grey Sages continues with more layers of the Abyss being opened up to explorers and adventurers. 



    The Infinite Layers of the Abyss Part II


    Layer 588: "The Death of Life" by Osmund-Davizid

    With so many layers of the Abyss, there are bound to be several layers that are true hinterlands. Layers so desolate and hostile to life that even the demons will not rule them. The 588th is one such layer.

    The title of the plane is literal - the plane is inherently hostile to all life, inevitably causing death to all who enter. This layer is one in which living beings were not meant to exist. The plane has an energy draining entropy that gradually sucks all the life from any living creature that enters it.

    In game terms, a living creature will lose the equivalent of one level/hit dice for every turn spent in the layer, no saving throw. The effect has a palpable feel - the victim will feel himself getting weaker and colder for every minute spent on the layer. This feeling should be enough for the victim to realize the draining nature of the plane and give them enough time to attempt an escape. A creature drained of all hit dice/levels becomes a bodak.

    Unfortunately, the plane's inherent chaos effects teleportation magic and gate travel. There is a chance that any gate used by a creature to enter may randomly move to a different location before the traveler can reenter. This chance varies widely from moment to moment, making it impossible to predict.

    The layer can also affect the natural teleportation abilities of certain creatures if the creature's magic resistance is breached. The entropic nature of the plane continually barrages the creature's magic resistance, making the creature have to make a magic resistance check every turn spent in the plane, failure means the creature cannot teleport until the next turn, if it makes its magic resistance save. Creatures with magic resistance also avoid the life draining aspects of the layer, but only as long as their magic resistance hold out. If they fail, the creature losses life just as an unprotected being would.

    Physically, the plane is every bit a foreboding as its nature. The blasted landscape of this layer resembles great, black, hardened lava fields. But there has been no volcanic activity in recorded memory, all aspects of this plane are dead (even geologic activity). Nothing grows in this plane, the air is extremely thin and cold, the sky is perpetually grey and there are no clouds or wind. Light comes from an unseen and unknown source, and the light is grey as well, bathing the landscape in a depressing hue.

    All energy is drained away by the entropy. Even demons are not immune to this loss of life. Should the chaos of the plane effect the demon's inherent teleportation power, the demon may die and become a horrid demonic-bodak! As mentioned above, magic resistance can ward off the entropic effects. Certain spells, if cast in time, can protect an individual from the life drain as well. Once a spell wears off, the life draining will begin again.

    Some demons use this plane as a means of execution by throwing their enemies into it. A few demons with interests in the areas of undead mastery have attempted to reside in the layer, but the chaotic entropy fields that saturate the layer have proved to cause too much havoc with the casting of spells and other activities, so that no demon lord would stand to rule there. It is regarded as one vast death trap in the Abyss, though there are rumors of some powerful individuals hiding treasures or magic items in the plane. Because bodaks have no interest in wealth, these hordes can remain in the open and not be disturbed. The plane itself proves to be an excellent guardian of such caches.

    Only bodaks commonly dwell in this layer, and a few of them every so often will stumble upon an exit gate and thus appear in other parts of the Abyss. By no means is this plane the only way that bodaks are created, but this could be the source of this unpredictable curse that occurs elsewhere in the Abyss.

    Therefore, this layer has little value to any being, excepting that because this is a layer that not even demons would enter, a pursued adventurer may flee to it to elude beings who are aware of its nature. This is a dubious benefit. At best, a fleeing character can hope to enter the plane, elude the native bodaks, find a gate to another Abyssal layer, and pray for the gods to have mercy on his fate.



    Layer 512: The Black Towers of Night Everlasting by Xefic

    Theme: Night is coming.

    Ruler: Nocticula, Demon Queen of Darkness

    The layer is an infinite abyss without top or bottom, dark as the darkest moonless night, and cold as the coldest sunless world.  The habitable portion of the plane is made up of a series of apparently infinitely tall stone towers. The towers are of various sizes, from as slender as minarets to as wide around as a cathedral. They’re interconnected by enclosed stone bridges. Most of the towers have windows, but all the window openings are sealed with mortared stonework.

    Although the entire layer is filled with endless darkness, the lowest depths of the plane are filled with the Utterdark, a force of Nothingness, Entropy, and Destruction in which not even demons can survive. The Utterdark is slowly rising and engulfing more and more of the towers. Nocticula and her Court keep moving to higher levels of the towers to escape this force.

    Strange shrieks and rustlings can be heard outside the towers where nothing should be able to live. Occasionally something can be heard trying to force its way in through a bricked-up window. This happens especially on the stone bridges; for this reason, even the most powerful demons on the plane spend as little time as possible on the bridges or near the windows. The denizens of the plane do not speak of whatever lurks outside the towers. [The creatures are in fact various types of obyrith that tear to pieces any creature they find outside the towers. The obyrith are also unable to survive the Utterdark, and have been driven mad by the relentless rise of the darkness.]

    The tower levels themselves are strange places. Some are lairs for demons, dragons, or other monstrous creatures. Some are fungus gardens, pools of water or acid, temples to forgotten gods, or strange museums. Others are crossroads, waystations, or even inns. The lower levels, engulfed by the Utterdark, cannot be entered. The highest levels are as vacant and dusty as an unused attic.

    The towers are infested with flocks of starlings, which are sacred servants of Nocticula here and on other planes. Although bright compared to outside, the tower interiors are quite dark. [Magical light sources function only 50% of the time, and even if functional are only 30% as effective. Nonmagical lights sources shed only 30% as much light as normal.]  This plane is rarely visited by non-demons. Occasionally, illithid, drow, and deep dragons can be found here.

    Nocticula: The Demon Queen of Darkness is one of the oldest demon princes. It is said that she stood at Demogorgon’s side when he first seized the title Prince of Demons. It is said she first whispered the secrets of undeath to Orcus. It is said she taught deception to Grazzt, and lies to Iuz. But then, these things are said mostly by her own court…

    Of all the demon princes, she is closest to achieving true divinity than any other save Lolth herself. But she pursues this goal more subtly – instead of seeking worship under her own name, she masquerades as various deities of night and darkness. The power of darkness itself provides her duped followers with their spells, and her deluded worshippers provide the demon queen with the power she will need to eventually ascend to divinity.

    Nocticula is pursing divinity in hopes of stopping the rise of the Utterdark. She does not completely understand that force, but she senses that it will pursue her and destroy her if she cannot find a way to stop it.

    Nocticula acts like a tanar’ri, but she has some affinity with the obyrith as well. Nocticula’s physical appearance cannot be described. She is surrounded by a field of darkness so intense that eyes and mind avoid even glancing at her.

    The Queen of Night is served by starlings (even those on the various prime material planes), marilith, and vrock. Her most feared servants, though, are the Dark Maidens: Sixteen humanoid demonesses that appear to be beautiful women veiled and robed in black. When they lift their veils, their true appearance is revealed. Their countenance drives even demons insane.

    Mysteries:

    • What is the Utterdark? Can it be stopped? Will it escape the layer and threaten the multiverse?
    • Who built the towers? (Nocticula didn’t.) Their structure does not seem susceptible to the destructive effects of the Utterdark.
    • Will Nocticula succeed in her quest for divinity?

    Layer 444: The Shifting Sands of Aseroth by Xefic

    Theme: No secret stays hidden forever.

    Ruler: Arion, Demon Prince of Secrets

    The layer is an infinite desert of fine white sand. The desert is broken by occasional oases and ruined cities. The plane is best known for the hundreds of half-buried monumental statues of sphinxes, gargoyles, angels, and mortals. The statues are of various substances from marble to granite to malachite. All are of exquisite workmanship and possess an ethereal beauty – except for their mouths, which are roughly hewn or scraped away.

    At random intervals, a titan-sized hand or eye will erupt from the sands. Arion’s demons swarm around these strange intrusions, hacking and clawing at them until they withdraw back beneath the sands.

    In addition to the odd demon and fiendish blue dragon, Aseroth is plagued by swarms of tiny glass ants that devour all in their path. In fact, Arion’s favorite punishment is to bury an offending demon up to the waist in the sand, and then wait for the glass ant swarms to eat the demon alive.

    Arion’s capital is TalAseroth, the City of the Sphinx, where a carved stone sphinx – with no mouth – stands on every street corner. Locations of note in TalAseroth include:

    • The Palace of Secrets, Arion’s many-pillared halls, where he sits in state attended by the Nine Viziers.
    • The Scriptorium of Aseroth, where demonic scribes copy down every word spoken in the palace using vellum made from mortal flesh, quills from angel wings, and ink from devils blood. Each page is carefully copied six hundred and sixty-six times. Each page is then consigned to the flames of the furnace, forever destroyed.
    • The Garden of Whispered Delights, where secret, forbidden acts of lust and pleasure are ceaselessly performed.
    • The Vendors of Oblivion, a marketplace of tents and stands where fiendish merchants offer to take and hide all your secrets – for a price.
    • And, most famously, the Grand Library of the Abyss. The Library is said to contain a copy of every forbidden, banned, censored, and burned text ever written in any world. Thousands of mortal sages and wizards spend the lives waiting in vain for permission to view one of the texts. Although no request is ever granted, the librarians are adept at convincing supplicants that they will be the exception if only they would perform one small favor…

    Arion: It is whispered that Arion was originally a mortal who wrested the plane from its previous ruler. Somehow keeping the name of the Aseroth’s prior ruler secret allows Arion to maintain his dominance of the plane. But no secret can be kept forever. Arion lives in constant fear that this secret will be discovered. Arion is not terribly active in the politics of the Abyss, and has no more enemies than any other demon lord.

    From the waist up, the Prince of Secrets appears to be a handsome human youth with amber eyes and blond hair. From the waist down, though, he is an inhuman monster: Arion has 12 unmatched appendages in place of legs, ranging from a comely female leg to a monstrous tentacle to a giant roach leg to other, more bazaar appendages. The prince is strangely shy about his mismatched legs, and keeps them hidden by a long kilt. Although he has the ability to shapechange into other forms, every guise he wears has at least one extra appendage of some sort.

    Mysteries:

    • Who or what was the prior ruler of Aseroth?
    • What are the titanic arms and eyes that occasionally erupt from the sands?
    • Will any mortal succeed in getting access to a text from the Grand Library?
    • Will Arion’s secret be discovered? What happens then?


    Layer 276: The Churning Seas of Goriog by Xilinar

    It is likely that as someone arrives on this plane they will fall from the sky only a score or so feet above the surface of the waters that comprise this layer. Unless they act quickly or have adequate abjuration magics in place, their first contact with the Churning Seas will likely be their last!

    Assuming the visitor survives long enough to take in the horrid vista that greets them, they will note several unpleasant things about this land. First, there is the acrid reek that assails the sense of smell. Second, is the dramatic curve of the horizon suggesting the plane is a relatively small sphere. Third, is the bubbling, churning nature of the seas they find themselves adrift upon. The seas here churn and roil because they are in fact acid not water! A knowledgeable adventurer (a successful relevant knowledge check) will note that for the acid to boil and bubble as it is, it must be reacting with something and releasing gasses as a result.

    Upon further examination, the keen-eyed surveyor will note the occasional, unidentifiable something bobbing in the sea. When investigated from a somewhat closer vantage point, the bobbing things are revealed to be what appears to be the slowly dissolving corpses of a vast legion of fiends. Intrepid adventurers that manage to ply their way to one of the "corpses" will discover the horrid truth... The fiends are not in fact dead, but are paralyzed as the acid gnaws away at them. A further knowledge check will suggest that the acid is weak enough that it’s balanced against the natural resistances and regeneration of such fiends. Thus, the creatures are in unimaginable agony, but not in any risk of actually being dissolved.

    The plane is actually a small worldlette that is only several hundred miles across and its possible to circumnavigate the whole thing if so inclined. The alien nature of the plane allows for gravity to function as the players are accustomed even though the diameter of the plane is so much smaller than their home world. If someone is so inclined and they choose to dive into the acidic seas, they will find them uninhabited. If somehow they manage to find the bottom of the ocean, they will discover a glass like core several hundred yards across that is virtually impregnable. It is in fact composed of a substance similar to which is created via the spell glassteel, but with the strength of adamantite.

    If visitors here continue their explorations, they may finally encounter what could be mistaken for a small isle amidst the nightmarish seas. In fact, this is the body of Goriog. If a means of discerning the grim history of Goriog is available (such as Contact Higher Plane, Legendlore, a sage with specialization in fiendish politics, etc.) they can learn the following:

    *Goriog was in fact a minor godling that dwelt upon the Abyss aeons past. He and his followers were gaining in power such that he began to draw worshippers away from a rival deity now also long dead (or at the DM's discretion a deity from the PC's home world) who punished him and his abyssal legions by imprisoning him in this plane of torment.

    *The magic of the plane is such that Goriog and his followers are paralyzed for an eternity of suffering in the acidic bath. However, it can be broken if the core of the plane can be accessed. Within is a large gem through which the magic of the plane is bound. It is up to the DM to devise a sufficiently fiendish mechanism for disabling the magic protections in place, but it should be an epic feat to accomplish such a task (e.g. the gem must be shattered with the sword of an Astral Deva after it has been bathed in the tears of a saint or something similar).

    What they may not learn, but could conceivably surmise is that Goriog and his followers are now quite insane after aeons of such agony and suffering. Thus, the would-be saviors are likely to receive something other than a generous reward should they free Goriog and his minions from their suffering.



    Layer 513: The Trackless Shadowforest of Urgwai

    This was the latest challenge thrown out by the Grey Sages.  To date, only one has attempted to plumb the mysteries of this unholy layer.  The great sage Anced Math was rumored to have begun an expedition to this dread place to further the Grey Sage’s collective knowledge but has not returned with his discoveries as yet.  Perhaps some mysterious planes were never meant to be explored…

     

    "
     
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