Hell on Oerth II
My Lady, Princess Bersheban, I now have time to put pen to parchment and humbly submit this scholastic treatise to you. As you requested, upon this scroll I have summarized a few notable Hellish activities throughout the Flanaess. What I have gathered here represents what I can determine is close to the truth. All of it may indeed be the truth, or possibly none of it. Use caution when attempting to apply this knowledge.
Law’s Fury: Legend has it that the greatest of all Flametongue swords are forged within the leaping flames of the fourth Hell. One such sword is known to surface periodically in the Flanaess. Known colloquially as the “Devilblade” or “HellRazor”, this long sword is truly a beautiful work of art as well as a first class killing instrument. Its actual name is inscribed on the hilt – “Law’s Fury”.
It is intelligent, speaks several languages, and has an overwhelming personality. It was forged by a powerful Oeridian wizard during the Great Migrations. Its original purpose was to give the priests of Heironeous a weapon to combat the Ur Flan warlock lords. This coven of sorcerers often summoned demons to do their bidding. So the Oeridian war wizards imbued with the sword with the special purpose of defeating demons. Mighty mage craft was used in creating a powerful superweapon that would be loyal to the Oeridian cause, the hope was that the sword’s morals would reflect a neutral stance, so that all the major churches of the Oerids could utilize the weapon.
But the sword took on the alignment of its place of forging, and became the bane of the paladins of Heironeous and the weapon of choice among the Church of Hextor. It is recorded that while the sword’s desire to fight demons leads it to occasionally work with goodly aligned personages, it will always attempt to turn such users to the path of law and evil (Foot Note 1). Indeed, the first wielder of Law’s Fury was the paladin-hero Sir Raithe Eildor, who slew scores of demons but later betrayed his holy order and ended his days as a brutal killer, most likely due to the sword’s influence. The sword was last seen in the possession of an Aerdy general who was summoned back to Rauxes in the early days of the Greyhawk Wars and has not been seen since. The sword’s fate remains to be seen.
The Keoland Witch Trials: The race of devils has some varieties that are unknown to human sages. Through my years of study, I have discovered one such class of devil hitherto absent from human knowledge - the possessors. These noncorporeal beings can, as their name suggests, take over the minds of mortal beings and make them do the will of their diabolic masters. These devils have (apparently) not made their presence known in our plane of existence.
But in some obscure corner of the Kingdom of Keoland, mysterious incidents of inexplicable failures of harvests, infertility in animals, and bizarre behavior among children has raised the question of demonic possession. After the local lords decided that these events had gone on long enough, several prominent wizards were hired to cast spells that protected their populace from demons. Those efforts have all failed miserably. Several more outbreaks of a similar nature have cropped up in other parts of Keoland, sparking a panic among the populace. This has been whipped up into a full fledged hysteria, as minor land holders have now attempted to root out the evil facing land by establishing witch trials. I have a theory that the methods used to combat demonic possession would be ineffective against the devilish possessors. If that is indeed true, there is a real possibility that the devils are now deeply entrenched in the local population and can set innocents up for prosecution.
Adding to the already volatile situation, a traveling priest of Pholtus traveled south from the Gran March to assist in the local judges in “determining the truth of the situation”. He is charismatic, zealous, and has gained a following among the normally docile peasant population, much to the chagrin of the Keoish ruling class (FN 2).
Icegate: Located in the far wastelands of the north, this complex maze was allegedly looted some 300 years ago by a party of adventurers. However, the party discovered that there was a gate in the lowest reaches of the complex, a gate that could summon gelugon devils from Hell itself. The intrepid adventurers managed to create a cave in, thus burying the chamber that housed the gate. The party was forced to flee, as the complex was still infested with beholders, but they thought their act of sabotage was successful. They did not realize that at least one ice devil made its way out of the gate before the chamber was collapsed, and thus has been released upon the unsuspecting world (FN 3). The beholders who nominally rule this area have since been clearing away the rubble for their own purposes and may yet activate the gate again, making this locale a potential link to Hell itself (FN 4).
The Knight-Errant of Hell and the Hell Touched: A devilish patron of the former Horned Society has returned to, well, bedevil the lands he once championed. Durgaloth, the Questing Knight of Hell, was recently involved in a great shake up of the nether realms. Hellish politics being what they are, he led a coup in the Sixth Hell (FN 5), very publicly established his control over the realm, only to abdicate his rulership after but a brief time (I speculate that this was all planned in advance, as my sources opine that the current ruler of the Sixth Hell is none other then the daughter of the Lord of the Ninth – and these maneuvers were nothing but an elaborate method to give this wayward devil princess a layer to rule).
Regardless of the motivation, it is now clear the Durgaloth now wanders the multiverse again, seeking quests and missions on behalf of his dark masters. Among his followers are a group of incredibly powerful mortals who assisted him in his coup. These mortals represented the elite of the elite of the Horned Society, and managed to avoid the fate of their comrades during the Greyhawk Wars. Now, reports are filtering in of some of these presumed lost individuals returning to avenge the Horned Society and continue to forward their evil agenda. Their experiences in Hell have made them powerful – collectively they are known as the “Hell Touched”.
The Hell Touched have started to return to this mortal plane, bringing back a piece of Hell with them. That is, these individuals now exhibit some Hellish trait due to their contact with the infernal. Some traits are merely cosmetic (i.e. glowing eyes, smell of brimstone), but some now boast additional powers such as enhanced senses, great strength, immunity to poisons or fire, and/or other such abilities. Rumors of such a powerful being will surface on occasion, only staying long enough to fulfill some dark task then disappearing as fast as they came. Most fascinating is that some young dragons have been observed bearing similar freakish powers as well (FN 6). Durgaloth may have some master plan that is yet to be realized, and his plans would likely involve revitalizing the Horned Society using his cadre of Hell Touched.
The Sleeper and the Twisted Forest: There have long been rumors of mighty beings of a supernatural aspect lying dormant throughout Oerth. One such tale was of a mighty pit fiend that was summoned by a powerful Suel mage. The story goes that this mage was the leader of a particularly wicked band of Suel who were fleeing across a region known to them as Suenha Hills. This band of Suel massacred the native Flan in heinous manners, in order to placate their fiendish master. This bloody action cursed the Suel to become encased in stone. This site, now known as the Twisted Forest, still claims victims, turning the unwary into stone – this is the lingering result of the pit fiend’s tampering with the original curse. When the Suel were petrified, the pit fiend was likewise affected, but being so powerful, he was able to resist petrifaction. Instead he sank into the earth and will lay dormant until enough evil souls become trapped in the Twisted Forest. Once a certain threshold is reached, the sleeping pit fiend will awaken. Or so the stories say.
The Sharks of Hell: In the waters near the islands of the Sea Barons, lies the mysterious Sinking Isle. Old mariners tell of a former captain of the Aerdy fleet, Jaager Sharkstooth, whose ship ran aground at the Isle. While his crew worked to repair the ship, the captain was drawn to explore the ruins on the island. The captain returned a changed man, ordering his crew to submit a blood oath to an inhuman sea power – a shark god. Most of the crew was cowed into submission, already being afraid for their lives at merely being grounded on the cursed isle. Those who refused to submit were slaughtered. The captain then took his ship and became the most feared pirate vessel the seas have ever seen, looting and slaying along the waterways of Oerth at will. The iniquities the crew did to their victims eventually cursed them to roam the seas forever, effectively immortal unless slain in combat. Presently, there is a small pirate fleet, “The Sharks of Hell” roaming the southern waters of our world. The flagship, Carcharodon, boasts a wide variety of malign magical powers. The Pirate Captain Jaager is served by several imp familiars, has been known to consort with sahuagin, and swimming along side the fleet are several huge sharks of freakish cunning (FN 7).
Caged Legions: A colleague of mine, the Fiend-Sage of Rel Astra has given me a bit of information as a professional courtesy. Some demonologists at Rel Astra have reported that their summoning spells have been perverted by the appearance of creatures that appear as devils, but exhibit demonic powers. This has played havoc with wizards who may be expecting a chaotic fiend but instead have their wards and protection voided by getting, as unlikely as it sounds, a devil from the Abyss. These creatures can have the strengths and immunities of a devil, a demon, or both. Their features can reflect demonic graftings or mutations on devilish hosts. These creatures have proven impossible to control. Thus, the warning to any would be fiend summoners is to beware of any gate or link to a layer of the Abyss known as the “Houses of the Caged Legions”, as this is the source of these strange creatures (FN 8).
This is all the information I have to give you at the present time. With all the planar activity that our world hosts, it is no small wonder that the powers of Hell and the Abyss vie for supremacy using mortals as proxies for their own schemes. For now, this treatise is at an end.
1: The sword’s other powers and abilities should be tailored to the needs of each individual campaign. To sum up: it is a Lawful Evil, Long Sword, Flametongue, with the special purpose of slaying demons. It has high intelligence and ego, speaks with a very cultured and urbane voice. All its suggestions sound very reasonable, and it is in that manner that the sword has subverted numerous goodly warriors to the road of evil over the centuries.
2: The truth of this situation can be changed according to the tastes of the campaign: there can legitimately be an outbreak of devilish or demonic activity in rural Keoland as superstitious folk turn to supernatural beliefs (these possessor devils were described in Dragon Magazine # 42), there could be a cult of diabolists trying to establish a church, a Scarlet Brotherhood plot to sow dissension in the population, or this could be just an example of paranoid hysterics. Likewise, the priest of Pholtus could be a true do-gooder who just likes to meddle, or he could be a tool for the devils to distract from their real operations, to being a devil himself! For a historical look at witch trials to use as inspiration, follow this link: http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/salem.htm
3: The escaped ice devil was the gelugon-wizard Murodoc. This devil traveled to the mountain ranges of the east seeking the Hanging Glacier – for reasons described in the Canonfire article Wyrms of the Flannaess: Synjje.
4: The Church of Mephistopheles has, in the years following the sacking of Icegate, sent diabolists to the maze in order to recover the gate site. The local beholder population has agendas of their own and currently, a powerful force of Mephistopheles’ servants has claimed portions of Icegate and is attempting to parlay with the beholders in order to access the gate chamber and reactivate it. These diabolists are survivors of the Horned Society and have connections to other such groups across the Flanaess.
5: These events were described over several Canonfire articles (see list of sources below). The Hag Countess was an inadequate ruler of Malbolge, so Durgaloth led a successful coup defeating her using exiled rabble devils and his chosen mortal servants. But according to published materials, Glasya is now the ruler of the Sixth, so in order to mesh better with such materials, Durgaloth he abdicated his position, his role in this grand scheme completed. He now does what he does best, serve Hell as a questing knight.
6: Some examples of a Hell Touched would be the warrior lord Jhanser, who has become a death knight with the power to wield potent hell-fire magic or the green dragon Verithmirax, who has been enhancing her brood of young dragons with Hellish magics. The exact powers on each individual can vary depending on the needs of the campaign, but should be suitably epic as befitting of very high level challenge.
7: The connection to Hell comes from what Captain Jaager found on the Sinking Isle. While exploring a ruined cathedral, the Captain was possessed by a cursed devilish artifact – an unholy dagger consecrated to Sekolah, the god of the sahuagin. While Sekolah is hardly a firm ally of devilkind, and shows nothing but contempt for races other then sahuagin, this pirate fleet has opened up opportunities for Sekolah’s religion to spread and for his sahuagin to expand their influence to the surface world. So Sekolah’s curse continues to drive the fleet to commit more and more rapacious acts of villainy as well as pressing more unfortunates to replace fallen members of the cursed crew. It is rumored that some human cults dedicated to Sekolah (disguised as a more benign sea god) are starting to become established in lonesome coastal regions. These human followers preach to fishermen to make sacrifices to ensure good catches. Their unholy ceremonies are marked by horrid feastings done in the dark of night.
8: The origin of these unique hybrids of demons and devils was related on a forum thread on Canonfire, located here:http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=219&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=25
9: Rexifer is a lich-sage who occupies the castle of Spiral, near the Grandwood Forest. He works as an advisor for a powerful princess of House Darmen, who jealously keeps tight control over his services. To this end, Princess Bersheben has her sister Baaneth, (a capable mage in her own right) keep watch on the lich to make sure no one else can access the wealth of knowledge he possesses. Rexifer himself absolutely does not care one whit about the politics of Great Kingdom, he is only interested in scholarly pursuits.
While his field of expertise is the Blood War, Rexifer himself is of a more neutral alignment, and will share his knowledge with anyone who shows an interest. Quite unknown to Princesses Bersheben and Baaneth, Rexifer has contacts with the outside world. Through magical means, Rexifer can communicate with a handful of other sages to exchange notes and debate arcane matters. Some of his contacts include the Fiend-Sage of Rel Astra, the court of Rauxes, various Greyhawk wizards (perhaps even members of the Circle of Eight?), and even some good aligned scholars who are seeking methods to combat fiendish influences.
SOURCES: “Guide to Hell” by Chris Pramas, Dragon Magazine Articles in Issues # 28, 42, 75, 76, 79, and 91, The Greyhawk Wars Adventurer’s Book, Ivid the Undying, Greyhawk Adventures hardcover book, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Bastion of Faith, Iuz the Evil, A Paladin in Hell
Canonfire articles: Hell on Oerth, Wyrms of the Flannaess: Verithmirax, Wyrms of Oerth: Synjje, Excerpts From the Book of Fire: The Reckoning, The Libram Infernal - Annex: The Politics of Hell in Malbolge, Excerpts from the Libram Infernal: The Sixth Hell Malbolge "