Out With the Old
The Nine Hells — home to Asmodeus
This is largely similar to the writeup in The Dungeon Master’s Guide. Note that Tiamat does not live here. With the exception of Avernus, each layer of the Nine Hells is connected only to the infernal layers directly above and below it (if any). One must always ascend or descend through the Hells in order.
Like the Seven Heavens of Celestia, the Nine Hells are measured in multiple dimensions — one traverses distance not only of length, width, and depth, but also of damnation. Two pits of equal depth, dug side by side in Avernus, will descend the same depth. But one will reveal only earth and stone, and eventually fill with scalding blood. The other will open into Dis. What distinguishes these two pits is esoteric and mysterious
Optional Rule: Planar Commitment
Damned and devils cannot normally exit the Nine Hells. Any such being that tries is instead 1d100 miles in a random direction into an unoccupied space. Devils can usually only escape Hell when summoned or otherwise assisted from outside Hell by someone who is not herself a devil nor a damned and departed soul. Likewise, most passages to the Nine Hells are one-way; it takes one of a few very rare planar portals, or very strong magic, to exit the plane.
The Battlefield of Avernus.
Avernus is a barren wasteland of charred, rubble-strewn plains broken up by mountains and foothills. Rivers of hot blood run across the plains, filling steaming cracks and pits. Clouds of flies swarm across empty battlefields strewn with bones and abandoned weapons. Fiery meteorites stream across the sky and leave smoldering impact craters.
Avernus is the sole entryway and exit point to the Nine Hells; no portals, passages, or other planar connections link any part of the cosmos outside of the Nine Hells to any location within the Nine Hells other than Avernus. Thus, all attempts to invade Hell must pass through Avernus, as must all attempts to escape.
Avernus is ruled by Archduchess Zariel, the former prisoner of her rival, Bel. Zariel appears as a once-beautiful angel whose skin and wings have been wrecked by fire, and a ruthless, calculating strategist. She is vindictive, cruel, and patient. Zariel is the general of Asmodeus armies, primary defender of the Nine Hells from occupation by an outside force. Zariel is served by The Dark Eight, eight cruelly magnificent pit fiends; when one of the Dark Eight falls, the devil elevated to replace it takes on its name and appearance, leading to the illusion of stability and order, and the image of an eternally loyal cadre of infernal generals defending the plane.
The only remaining original member of the Dark eight is Baalzephon, while the most recent addition now bears the name of Furcas. Others are the thunderous Zimimar, the cold-hearted Zaebos, the haughty Dagos and the obsequious Zapan. Corin is a dour, pessimistic intelligence officer, and Paerza is particularly fixated on magic. Each member of The Dark Eight commands one of the Legions of Hell, armies of devils drawn from each of the levels of Hell, each with their own specialities, and typically deployed on Avernus.
Dagos the haughty commands The Few, composed of devils native to Avernus, known for teleporting into battle to strike at enemies from the rear, from the flank, or from amid their own ranks. Led by the fawning Zapan, the brutal engineers of The Iron Defenders hail from Dis, and specialize in defensive maneuvers and breaking sieges. The Gleaming Guard of Minauros are so named for the shining armor they wear, most of it stolen from celestials and corrupted; funded by the Archduke of Avarice, the Gleaming Guard are the best-equipped of the Legions and the best-supplied with strategic magic items and other materiel. Paerza commands pyromantic experts of The Walkers in Fire on behalf of Belial and Fierna, Lords of Phlegethos, though she seems at times to take just as much direction from Mephistophiles. Baalzephon commands the highly-mobile swashbucklers and scouts of the Stygian Champions, specializing in hit-and-run tactics. The Creeping Cadre, led by Furcas and garrissoned in Malbolge, specializes in alternative and asymmetrical warfare, using magic that marks or persistently weakens foes, plague-brewers, slow poison, and other sly techniques. The Maladominaar, named for their home layer of Maladomini, are elite frontal-assault shock troops, commanded by Zimimar. Though nominally administered by General Corin, the spies and intelligence officers of The Serpentine Order first report directly you Mephistopheles, Archduke of Cania. Finally, Asmodeus himself commansa the Nessian Guard, the only legion that does not deploy beyond it’s own layer’s borders.
The Iron City of Dis
The second layer of the Nine Hells is a rocky labyrinth of rocky canyons wedged between sheer mountainous ridges, almost like blades of stone jutting from the earth, all rich in iron ores. The sky of Dis is a relentless red haze, like the sullen light of a distant fire, choked with massive clouds of black, cinder-strewn smoke. The majority of Dis is occupied by the sprawling City of Dis. Enslaved damned and devils mine out the iron veins in the mountains, and then use the iron to build in the tunnels and valleys.
Optional Rule: Scalding Walls
The walls of Dis are always searing hot. Any creature touching the metal takes 4(1d8) fire damage. Any creature adjacent to the metal as it is tripped or shoved must make a DC 15 Dexterity save or touch hot metal, taking 4(1d8) fire damage.
The iron city is undergoing a constant, relentless process of renovation. Parts of the city, even the Iron Tower are constantly replaced, dismantled, reassembled, and remodeled. One of the more stable portions of the city is The Garden of Delights, an oasis of pleasure in the Iron City. Entry is easy; simply knock on the felicately filigreed wooden doors, and you will be greeted by comely maidens. Visitors are welcome to lounge by or bathe in the beautiful azure pools, to partake of refreshments as innocuous or intoxicating as they desire, and waited on hand and foot by beautiful servants while musicians and songbirds fill the air with music.
All is not as it seems, of course; the servants are succubi in disguise and the whole establishment is overseen by a set of nine of bound efreet illusionists who maintain the whole garden by a series of illusions such as mirage arcane, programmed illusion, seeming, creation, nystul’s magical aura and similar spells. Anyone who investigates the Garden closely enough may make a DC 20 Intelligence (Investigation) check to realize that the garden is illusory, but imps (transformed into animals) and succubi will do everything they can to distract someone who seems to be concentrating on their surroundings too much, imposing disadvantage on the check.
Optional Rule: Garden of Delights
Even if someone knows about the illusory nature of the Garden of Delights, its siren song calls out. To willingly leave the Garden, a character who has already completed a short or long rest in the garden must succeed on a DC 20 Will save. On a failure, the character will not willingly leave the garden until it has completed another long rest. A character who knows that the garden is an illusion has advantage on this saving throw.
The imps and succubi in the garden all probe and investigate, assisted by the magical powers of the efreet, to find the most corruptible visitors. Once they are identified, the succubi and efreet use their mind-bending powers to seduce the visitors into corruption. Already-evil visitors are seduced toward service to Dispater, while nonevil visitors are seduced toward evil. Apparently incorruptible visitors are left to their own devices; after a few days of dining on the illusory food and drink of the Garden, they are usually weak enough for the succubi to eliminate them.
The other stable element of Dis is the Prison of Mentiri, where Dispater keeps imprisoned un-damned mortals. One wing, the Bastille of Flesh, contains living mortals captured in the Nine Hells — virtuous paladins are imprisoned side by side with demon-cultists and mercenaries. Subjected to brutal privations, the prisoners must often compete or battle to survive, and many, once stripped of hope and decency are ultimately corrupted. They eventually “sell out” and begin toadying to the guards. Once these souls are wholly corrupted and belong to Dispater, they are executed, their souls reappearing as damned on the Shelves of Despond.
The other wing, the Bastille of Souls, warehouses un-damned souls who have found their way into the Nine Hells. Captured in infernal raids against the outsiders of other realms, cast into Hell due to some cosmic mistake, or killed while adventuring in the Nine Hells, these souls would normally be the exalted of other gods, but are instead imprisoned here, which also prevents them from being resurrected. Dispater abuses these exalted just as he does his mortal prisoners, but is more cautious about destroying them; too many virtuous exalted merging with Mentiri could result in it being pulled out of his grasp, assuming they did not resurrect elsewhere, and besides, outsiders who are dead provide the Iron Duke with no further power.
Instead, Dispater uses these souls as hostages. Devils in his service visit the families and friends and lovers of such prisoners, providing proof of custody and luring those loved ines into faustian pacts in exchange for the soul’s release. Other souls are traded back to the gods who keep them in exchange for goods or concessions.
Dis, both city and layer. is ruled by Dispater, the Iron Duke, who rules from the Iron Tower, a fortress of black iron that is visible from every part of the city except for The Garden of Delights; like the rest of Dis, the Iron Tower is subject to constant renovation. Dispater himself appears as an iron-gray humanoid with horns and a tail. Dispater is calm and controlled at all times, even when engaged in acts of shocking brutality. Dispater’s consort is Lilis, and he delegates a great deal of the administration of Dis to Biffant, Provost of the Iron City, while Titivulus, Nuncio of Dispater serves as his mouthpiece. His primary enforcer is Arioch the Iron Avenger, and his commanders include several pit fiends and the unique devils Alocer, Bitru, and Merodach.
The Bogs of Minauros
A constant oily rain pours down on Minauros from the coal-black sky, soaking into the clay and soil of the layer to create an infinite bog of sodden earth and vegetation. Diseased, aberrant vegetation flourishes throughout the layer.
One of the identifying features of the layer is the Sinking City of Minauros. Enslaved souls and dispossessed devils quarry stone from other layers of Hell and bring it here to build up the city. The foundations are constantly sinking into the clinging muck. Ooze rises between the paving stones and floods whole blocks. Buildings shudder and tilt, streets buckle, and shifts, and structures occasionally collapse entirely. Whenever and wherever a brick or stone falls, it is reclaimed by the work force for one of the city’s countless reclamation projects, though sometimes multiple reclamation crews end up squabbling over these resources.
Within the crumbling walls of the city, the devils and damned strive for as much stability as possible. The tall buildings funnel the wind, making it stronger and less predictable, but heavy canopies and sturdy gutters keep out the worst of the rain and hail. The devils of Minauros swill foul concoctions in crowded cafes and undertake elaborate commerce, often predicated on the promised exchange of souls not yet captured, and speculating on the economies of mortal nations. Gambling is a common pastime in Minauros, as is the trading of captive damned like livestock. Devils come to Minauros from all throughout the Nine Hells to do business, or just to rest from their toils in less forgiving layers.
The other great city of Minauros is Jangling Hiter, also known as The City of Chains or Torture City. Jangling Hiter is constructed on a series of massive steel plates; at regular intervals across these plates, massive slimy steel posts thrust into the air, attached to even more-massive blade-covered chains that reach into the skies of Minauros. If one were to follow these chains to their far end, one would find them anchored to the underside of The Iron City of Dis, the previous layer. These chains do not pass through an explicit portal of any sort, but at some point a transition occurs. This marvel of planar engineering is wasted on the creatures who live there, who see it as everyday. The city is shielded from the rain and hail by metal awnings, and the heavy precipitation drums on the awnings and roofs constantly.
The primary residents of Jangling Hiter are kytons, sometimes called chain devils. Here, they fillet and disfigure damned souls with practiced precision and cruelty. They are so skilled in their work that other devils outsource the work of breaking the damned to Jangling Hiter, and processions of shackled slaves and wagons filled with captives file into and out of the city constantly across the ooze-slicked ramps erected for this purpose.
The safest portion of Jangling Hiter is the Merchant District, where traveling merchants from other realms are offered limited writs of safe passage. However, the mercurial favor of the devils of Hell makes this an unpredictable arrangement, as the protection of a patron might fall from a significant deterrent to a bad joke without warning. Visitors without such safe passage are often invited to stay in the Visitor’s District, also known to those in the know as the Abbatoir, and canny visitors avoid the place. The Fiend District is where the ranking devils reside, and when they catch outsiders there, many of them enjoy hounding them and chasing them up the chains to be cut to ribbons.
The other stable portion of Minauros is the Labyrinth of Truths, a gray stone fortress atop an upthrust crag of stone. The island fortress has the best gutter work and storm shielding in the layer. The mazelike fortress is a library with nine floors, each devoted to different subjects of Mammon’s interest. The first four floors contain volumes of operational records and journals from eons of missions of corruption. The fifth floor contains dossiers on mortals of interest to mammon, including their strengths and weaknesses, vices, and opportunties for corruption or defeat. The sixth floor contains heavily-ciphered dungeon and treasure maps detailing hoards across the planes. The seventh floor contains inventories of all the structures and rooms in minauros, prior and current, including a catalog of the ocntents of the Labyrinth of Truths. The eighth floor holds personnel records for devils, particularly in minauros, including the full record of promotions and demotions of each. The ninth floor contains the accounts and operations budgets for various mortal cults.
The Chains of Jangling Hiter
Climbing the hanging chains of Jangling Hiter might seem like an interesting passage into Dis, or at least a way to escape landbound pursuers. This is not a great idea; climbing the bladed chains requires a DC 25 Strength (Athletics) check each round; on a failure, the climber makes no progress and must make a DC 25 Dexterity saving throw. The climber takes 9(2d8) slashing damage on a failed saving throw or half as much damage on a successful saving throw. A character who fails the saving throw also has disadvantage on all skill and ability checks to climb the chains on its next turn.
Optional Rule: The Noise of Jangling Hiter
As one might guess from its name, the City of Chains is never a quiet place. The constant rattle of the great chains, the groaning of strained metal, and the tattoo of rain and hail on metal roofs, all echo through the city, but they are dwarfed by the constant cacophony of damned souls, crying out under torture. Once every 1d6 hours that a visitor spends in public, the character must make a DC 20 Charisma saving throw or be frightened. Evil characters have advantage on this save, while good characters have disadvantage.
A character who fails this saving throw is frightened, and onlookers may attempt an Insight check to identify the character as a visitor to the plane. A character who fails this saving throw by 5 or more may succumb to short-term or long-term madness effect (see DMG, p. 259) the DM should consult with the player and settle on an effect that reflects this sort of emotional trauma, rather than simply rolling randomly.
Minauros is ruled by the bloated devil, Mammon, a who appears as a scaly humanoid with a snake’s tail in place of his legs. Mammon is duplicitous, insecure, and petty, always quick to take offense and slow to forgive a perceived slight. Mammon’s latest consort is a less well-known devil named Glwa and his seneschal is Focalur. Other unique devils in Mammon’s high command include Bael, Caarcrinolaas, and Melchon.
The Terrain and Weather in Minauros
Throughout most of Minauros, the weather is heavy rain and the terrain is sucking mud. Moving through 1 foot of the mud costs 3 feet of movement; each space is lightly obscured and all creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight, hearing, or smell. Sometimes the rain turns to hail; any creature caught in the hail without shelter must make a DC 15 Dexterity save. A creature takes 4(1d8) bludgeoning damage, 4(1d8) piercing damage, and 7(2d6) cold damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful save. Hail storms last as long as 1 minute, and deal their damage each turn. The hailstones, often larger than a human fist, often contain odd impurities: hooks, shards of metal, the teeth of fallen devils, and so on.
The Furnace of Phlegethos
Phlegethos is a volcanic desert, with rivers and lakes of magma, fields of glass and hills of ash and sand, interrupted by outcroppings of crystalline stone.
The greatest structure in the whole layer is Fierna’s Palace, It is a twisted, snakelike tower of crystalline stone, engulfed in blue flames. Within the tower, stairs spiral down into the palace’s many pleasure domes. The floors are grates that cover a labyrintine warren of prison chambers. When Fierna grows bored, she will snatch up a lance to jab one of the prisoners, many of whom are her former lovers, kept as an object lesson to those who come after. Others sare creatures of virtue, kept here solely for Fierna’s amusement.
A mile-wide pit of boiling filth known as The Pit of Flame jets multiple columns of flame into the air. These magical flames can torment even the flame-proof devils, and being lowered into the flames is a common punishment. Some devils voluntarily enter the flames as an atonement for some failure or a show of strength, paying the cantilever operators to pull them out after an established period of time. Mischievous onlookers sometimes pay the operators to leave the penitents in the flames for a bit longer. The Pit of Flame is maintained by a cornugon named Zammasir.
The greatest city of the layer is Abriymoch, a massive metropolis of obsidian and volcanic rock crystal built in the crater of an active volcano. The streets are flooded with hot lava. Chamo, the Legate of Abriymoch rules the city, and the pit fiend Gazra commands the police force. Abriymoch is home to the Diabolical Courts, devoted to settling legal disputes between devils and others, mostly dealing with contracts between devils who do not share a chain of command. Foot traffic is impossible for most creatures due to the laval flooding the canals; even creatures immune to the heat, as most devils are, would be sucked down by the molten rock. Most on-fliers travel the canals on gondolas or magical steel.
Phlegethos is ruled by Fierna with the “help” of her deposed father, Belial. Fierna is aly and insinuating, a hedonist and dilletante still acclimating to games of power, with all the predatory instincts of a hunting cat and all the moral instincts of a wasp. Belial is a charming, glib creature whose normally unshakeable confidence has begun to slip in the face of his daughter’s growing independence. The unique devils, Bathym and Zapan are more or less loyal to her, though Balan and Gaziel still remain loyal to Belial. The allegiances of other Dukes of Phlegethos, such as Gazra and Chamo remain unclear. Fierna is becoming increasingly independent over time, which puts her father in a dangerous position.
Optional Rule: the Heat of Phlegethos
Phlegethos is unbearably hot. Anyone caught outdoors for more than an hour must make a Constitution saving throw each hour or gain a level of exhaustion. The DC is 5 for the first hour, and increases by 1 for each hour thereafter. Anyone without access to clean drinking water has disadvantage on the saving throw, as are characters in heavy clothing, or wearing medium or heavy armor, and anyone engaged in strenuous activity such as running or fighting. Creatures with resistance or immunity to fire automatically succeed on this save, and creatures naturally adapted to hot environments have advantage on it.
In addition, Phlegethos is filled with floating cinders, each imbued with a rudimentary sense of malice. These sparks swarm on vulnerable targets as soon as they identify them. Each minute it is out of doors, a creature in Phlegethos takes 3(1d6) fire damage from the cinders clinging to it.
The Sea of Stygia
Stygia is an endless sea of icy water. Most of the ocean’s surface is covered by ice, which constantly ruptures, filling the choppy water with bergs and floes of ice that constantly clash and jockey for position. The sky of Stygia is constant gray twilight. The River Styx still flows through Stygia as a powerful current meandering across the surface of the layer.
On one of the largest icebergs floats the city of Tantlin, all of its structures carved and moulded out of the ice. Tantlin is arranged in a concentric hierarchy of power , with the weakest elements pushed out toward the fringes to be picked off by adventurers and raiders. The primary business of Tantlin is bookmaking; scriveners, calligraphers, illuminators, and bookbinders create copies of documents, contracts, books, and scrolls around the clock, to be shipped to archives all throughout the Nine Hells.
The other most vital site in Stygia is the Tomb of Levistus, the iceberg in which Levistus is imprisoned, which floats rudderless and aimlessly throughout the layer. Flying erinyes and succubi, as well as gelugons on ice-floe rafts, follow Levistus as a retinue and honor guard, but are as powerless as Levistus is to control the direction of the iceberg.
Another iceberg contains the Hall of the Vanquished, a vast trophy room containing foes of the Nine Hells encased in columns of ice, and still another iceberg, called Ghiskidin, holds The Duelist’s Chasm, a jagged pit full of frozen gore where devils are permitted to fight one another to the death regardless of relative status — once the appropriate paperwork has been filed, of course.
Deep below the surface of stygia is the dark, gelid realm of Sheyruushk, the domain of Sekolah, goddess of the sahuagin as well as sharks and other remorseless predators. Though not an Archduke as such, Sekolah’s command of the depths is unchallenged. Her disturbingly apolitical nature makes her difficult to utilize but also difficult to unseat. Still, since she is content to haunt the depths, all the lords and monsters of Stygia think it wisest not to provoke her.
Stygia is ruled by Levistus, the Frozen Lord, the Lord of Treachery, who appears as an attractive black-eyed human, and who is currently encased in a massive block of unmelting ice. Levistus was a traitorous archduke who had been imprisoned in ice for the murder (following the attempted rape) of Asmodeus’ consort, Bensozia. When Levistus was deposed Geryon, the Lord of Filth rose to power, but Asmodeus later demoted Geryon to restore Levistus to power without freeing him. Levistus is a suave, cunning manipulator whose imprisonment does little to hamper the passion he inspires in his followers. Geryon’s general, Amon, and magistrate, Herodias, were driven into exile, while his consort Cozbi and bailiff Gorson were destroyed. Other unique devils such as Agares and Malachas still serve Levistus.
Optional Rule: Stygian Cold
Anyone caught out of doors in Stygia must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw each hour or gain 1 level of exhaustion. Creatures who are adapted to cold-weather environments or who are dressed in cold-weather gear have advantage on this saving throw, and creatures with resistance or immunity to cold automatically succeed on this saving throw. The frigid waters of Stygia are even worse; anyone immersed in the water for more than a number of minutes equal to its Constitution score must make a saving throw every minute thereafter instead of every hour, and most cold-weather gear provides no advantage.
Optional Rule: Walking On Icebergs
Slippery ice is difficult terrain; each foot moved across the ice costs 2 feet of movement. When a creature moves on slippery ice for the first time in a turn, it must make a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check or fall prone. On a small piece of ice such as an ice floe, or any size ice chunk on choppy water, a character will have disadvantage on this check, and falling prone may result in falling into the water.
Thin ice has a weight tolerance of 3d10x10 pounds per 10 ft square area. If the total weight on an area of thin ice exceeds its tolerance, the ice in that area breaks. All creatures in that area fall through. In the case of fragile ice floes, this usually means falling into the frigid water.
The Pit of Malbolge
Malbolge is an endless eternal slope of stone, at times almost sheer and at other times more gradual. Portions of the layer occasionally shear off, causing immense rockslides. All of the fortresses and keeps of Malbolge are likewise prone to cracking and crumbling; even Glasya’s beautiful what tower, the castle of Osseia has cracked foundations, though it has stood for hundreds of years.
The inhabitants of Malbolge attempt to create stability by digging trenches into the slope to expand their relatively level footing, but as often as not they undermine the stone above them and trigger another rockslide. Water and soil tend to accrete in these trenches, forming terraced gardens of exceptionally toxic and invasive vegetation, such as Razorvine. Other than Minauros, Malbolge is one of the few layers where anything can grow, and Minaouros offers only marshland fare, so slaves toil pitifully to eke out small crops of foodstuffs that are sold to the decadent elites of the Nine Hells. One of Malbolge’s other primary features is its Birthing Pits, where souls broken by torture in Malbolge are warehoused and transformed into larvae.
Malbolge is ruled by Glasya, Asmodeus’ daughter but she is only the most recent ruler. Until Asmodeus slew her to elevate his daughter, Malbolge was ruled by Malagard the Hag Countess, and before Malagard took control, the layer was ruled by Moloch. Glasya is a condescending, mocking sadist with a penchant for mind games and seduction. She has been known to spare (at least briefly) prey that she finds “entertaining.”
The Ruins of Maladomini
The majority of Maladomini is bare rock and hard-packed dry dirt. The rivers are choked with sludge and filth, the forests rotted and dying or petrified, and the cities, which dominate most of the layer, are broken-down ruins. The land frequently groans and shudders and cracks, opening fissures from which foul, reeking, black ichor boils, and the more parched forests frequently burst into flame without warning. Often the filth and pollution of the layer achieves some rudimentary sentience and oozes up out of its gutters and ravines, often only to gasp and die upon breathing the toxic air. Even frequently-maintained buildings look damaged and crumbled as a result of this frequent upheaval.
Optional Rule: The Pollution of Maladomini:
More than any other layer, the atmosphere of Maladomini is toxic. Anyone out of doors in Maladomini must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw each turn or suffer the poisoned condition until it breathes clean air. A creature that has resistance or immunity to poison damage automatically succeeds on this saving throw, as does any creature who does not need to breathe.
Each day a creature spends in Maladomini, it must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or gain a level of exhaustion. When such a creature completes an extended rest, it must repeat this saving throw in order to remove a level of exhaustion. A creature that has resistance or immunity to poison damage or the poisoned conditon automatically succeeds on this saving throw, as does any creature who does not need to breathe.
Anyone who drinks the water of Maladomini takes 14 (4d6) poison damage, or half as much with a successful DC 20 Constitution saving throw. A creature with immunity to the poisoned condition automatically succeeds on this saving throw.
One of the major cities still inhabited in the layer is The City of Malagarde. Malagarde is a city of sloth and despair, it inhabitants seized with a strange fatalism. The city crumbles and is covered in filth, usually only scoured away by one of the frequent windy dust storms or incredibly rare rain showers. Occasionally, some citizens shake off the despair and try to clean and restore parts of the city, but such binges rarely last long.
The semblance of this city’s name to that of the Hag Countess, ruler of Malbolge, is considered by some to be a conicidence. The name Malagarde roughly translates to “Wicked guardian” or “wicked garden.” Scholars of the planes speculate that the legendary night hag might have hailed originally from the city of sloth, or that she was somehow responsible for founding it.
At the center of Malagarde is the Palace of Filth, from which Baalzebul rules the layer. When Baalzebul was transformed into a slug, his palace collapsed into a pile of fecal sludge. The Lord of Flies reshapes the the interior himself, tunneling through the mass of detritus. Several buildings and other structures were crushed under the collapsing palace, making it difficult to navigate, and the more stable portions are maintained by magical barriers.
Baalzebul must reinforce the chambers of the Palace with his secretions periodically, or the rooms begin to collapse. He find this maintenance tedious and depressing, and so he often neglects these duties, letting whole wings collapse and digging them out again later. This is especially true when Baalzebul is distracted by some plot or scheme, and the current state of the Lord of Lies’ palace is often seen as an indicator of whether or not he’s up to something big, though in many cases it might just be that he’s become bored with the maintenance.
Optional Rule: The Despair of Malagarde:
Malagarde is the ultimate manifestation of the pervasive sloth that Maladomini embodies. Once a day, a creature in Malagarde must make a DC 10 Wisdom save. On a failure, that creature is subject to a despair effect determined by the table below, or a different effect assigned by the DM.
1-4 Apathy. You have disadvantage on death saving throws and Dexterity checks for initiative and gain the flaw “I do not believe I can make a difference to anyone or anything.”
5-6 Abandon. You have disadvantage on Wisdom saving throws and Intelligence saving throws, and gain the flaw, “Only constant distraction in the form of meaningless pleasures can distract me from the pain of my existence.”
7-8 Ennui. You have disadvantage on death saving throws and on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws and gain the flaw “I find it difficult to care about anything around me.”
9 Fatalism. You have disadvantage on all saving throws, and gain the flaw “I think this place is going to kill me, but it will only get worse if I try to escape.”
10 Absurdity. You have disadvantage on all saving throws and ability checks. You also have the flaw “I find myself unable to take anything seriously. The worse the situation is, the funnier I find it.”
A creature affected by this despair can attempt a new saving throw after each long rest to end this effect on itself. If it succeeds, it must still make a new saving throw on the following day or succumb again, possibly experiencing a different despair effect. If the saving throw fails, then the character may either continue with the despair effect noted, or roll for a new one. The despair can also be negated by calm emotions, greater restoration, or any other effect that removes a curse.
Another significant location is the Carnivàle Eternale. Situated under an unblockable sluice pipe that eternally pours filth down onto an muddy vale, the Carnivale offers the devils permitted to cavort there (usually as a reward for good service) every unmentionable degradation or pleasure they could imagine. The Carnivàle offers a thriving black market as well as other services, many of them carnal.
The Mirrors of the Carnivàle
Among its other attractions, the Carnivàle includes a hall of twisted mirrors. When someone wipes the grime from one of these mirrors and looks into it, she is greeted with a vision of herself conquering and ruling one of the other Eight Hells — usually Dis or Cania, but never Maladomini. Anyone who sees such a vision must make a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw.
On a failure, the viewer is filled with a sense of unwarranted self-assurance as well as being subjected to the effects of a suggestion spell. The content of the suggestion is always some act of corruption or infernal obeisance, but one that is designed to set the viewer on the path to diabolical mastery. Thus, the suggestion might prompt the viewer to insult the next pit fiend she sees (a prideful act) but not to abase herself before it except in a ploy to curry favor (since such a servile act would not on its own serve any ambition.
Other than Malagarde, the greatest metropolis in Maladomini is Grenpoli. This city is peculiar in the Hells because violence is forbidden there. In addition to the wards limiting violence here, it is policed by elite erinyes champions and mages whose sole job it is to negate violent outbursts and evict rulebreakers. The penalties for violating the law of Grenpoli is severe, often including demotion and execution, so few devils risk it. There is a reason for this odd rule: Grenpoli is a haven of pure politics, where devils are taught the arts of manipulation, and so they are absolutely forbidden to resort to other means. An actual school of politics augments practical experience with lessons in theory and tactics.
Grenpoli is incidentally a haven for non-devils. While visitors may expect to be corrupted, manipulated, cajoled, or even enslaved, they can at least walk the streets without fear of violence or physical coercion. Mortal malcontents from all worlds, escaped damned, and stranded invaders have formed a growing population within the city over the centuries. These souls often plot against the rulers of the Nine Hells, but they also serve as a population for the manipulative devils studying in Grenpoli to work with. Nevertheless, cadres of enforcers from all throughout the Hells camp outside the city, waiting to capture any such souls who attempt to slip out of the city.
Graduates of the school at Grenpoli are tested at Offalion, a blasted hillside outside the city, where devils erect elaborate “sets” as small as a single room or as large as a palace or city block. Here, the devils of Maladomini and other layers engage in “dry runs” of various missions. The devils who study here take place in simulated political activities such as priestly synods, elections, or conclaves of nobles. Each scenario has its own set of rules and victory conditions. Victors of these games are awarded high-profile missions or even promoted on the spot, while losers are held back, given missions of higher risk and lower reward, or simply demoted.
Optional Rule: The Wards of Grenpoli
No weapons are permitted within Grenpoli. A powerful magical ward surrounds the city; any weapon carried into the city is immediately teleported to that creature’s home. If the weapon is a magic weapon, its bearer may attempt a DC 20 Charisma saving throw to keep the weapon from being teleported away.
In addition, violent magic is suppressed here. Directly damaging or otherwise violent spells are negated as if by an antimagic field; a spellcaster may attempt a DC 15 Charisma saving throw to cast a spell despite this ward. On a success, the spell is cast normally, but on a failure the spell slot is expended to no effect.
Maladomini is ruled byBaalzebul, Lord of Lies, a quasi-humanoid slug. Baalzebul is a more recent addition to the ranks of Hell’s rulers, having begun his existence as an angelic being named Triel. Baalzebul is smart, calm, and reserved. His deceptive calm conceals his burning resentment and shame at his disfigurement by Asmodeus. Baalzebul’s consorts are Baftis and Lilith. The Marshal of Maladomini is Barbatos and the generals of Maladomini are Abigor, Bileth and Zepar.
The Wastes of Cania
Even more than Stygia, Cania is a frozen wasteland. A barren expanse of frozen plains and icy mountains, with thin layers of ice and snow covering jagged crevasses, Stygia is littered with frozen corpses of devil and intruder alike. Few but the devils of Stygia and Cania can survive here, and even most of the damned of Cania are soon frozen solid.
Most of the settlements in Cania are built into the mountains, the only things in the layer that provide any shelter from the biting winds. The most impressive of these is the citadel of Mephistar, a metropolis carved into the ice of the massive glacier Nargus, which ispinned in place by two other glaciers. Flame magic is slowly melting the glacier and flooding the city with warm fog, protecting it from the plane’s pervasive chill.
Mephistopheles’ Palace is situated in Mephistar, though it has also begun to melt and sag. One of the few places left untouched by the melt is the Ice Garden, a faithful reproduction of an organic garden done totally in ice, maintained by the gelugon wizard Yogga, a sarcastic and subtle creature who protects the garden with additional ice magic. New forms of pyromancy are explored in the School of Hellfire, a tower of infernal green steel imbedded into the glacier. Several city blocks west of the School have been tainted by corrupt fumes from the tower, which eventually cooled and settled into the ice until they disappeared. The school is overseen by a pit fiend named Quagrem.
Optional Rule: The Toxic Zone of Mephistar:
Whenever a melt occurs in the toxic zone (whenever anyone uses fire magic, or after one minute of exposure to an open flame or other heat source), a toxic cloud is released that affects everyone within a radius of 10 feet. Everyone within that area must make a DC 14 Constitution save or take 18 (4d8) poison damage and be poisoned for one minute. A poisoned character can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns to end this effect on itself.
Beneath the glacier T’chemox, devils and damned labor to excavate the Ruins of Kintyre, a city said to have been crushed by Mephistopheles in one fell swoop when it sided with one of his rivals. Crews work nonstop to dig shafts through the glacier, down into the city to reveal its secret. Rumor has it that great magical lore can be found in Kintyre, particularly as relates to Mephistopheles’ chosen art of pyromancy.
Far away from the other settlements of Cania, on plates of magically-generated ice that sprout from the Mountain of Gelineth like shelf fungus, is the city of Nebulat. Here dwell countless gelugons who were once Mephistopheles’ favorites, fallen out of his regard as he turns his eye to new applications of fire magic. These ice devils feel abandoned, betrayed, and unappreciated, but dare not voice their discontent too openly. The gelugons’ leader is an irritable ice devil named Tuncheth, who is attempting to regain Mephistopheles’ favor by developing an as-yet incomplete form of ice magic known as The Plume.
Cania is ruled by Mephistopheles, Lord of Hellfire, who appears as a classic devil, similar in appearance to a cambion. He is witty, intelligent, and charming. He seems sophisticated, urbane, disarming. His consort is Baalphegor and the Chamberlain of Mephistar is Barbas. His Justiciar is Bele, and his pit fiend generals include Bechard, Buldumech, Guland, Silchard, and Sphandor.
Optional Rule: Chill Winds of Cania
Cania is bitterly cold, a circumstance only exacerbated by severe wind chill. Anyone caught out of doors in Cania must make a DC 20 Constitution saving throw each hour or gain 1 level of exhaustion. Creatures who are adapted to cold-weather environments or who are dressed in cold-weather gear have advantage on this saving throw, and creatures with resistance or immunity to cold automatically succeed on this saving throw. The frigid waters of Cania are even worse; anyone immersed in the water for more than a number of minutes equal to its Constitution score must make a saving throw every minute thereafter instead of every hour, and most cold-weather gear provides no advantage.
A constant strong wind howls across Cania, carrying clouds of loose snow, imposing disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight or hearing as well as on ranged weapon attacks. The wind extinguishes all open flames and disperses fog and other clouds. A flying creature in the wind must land at the end of its turn or fall. Each minute it is exposed to the icy winds, a creature must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution save or take 3(1d6) cold damage.
Any creature that dies while exposed to Cania’s winds is frozen into a statue of icy meat before it even falls, often freezing to the the ground as well, trapping it eternally in the moment of its death.
Optional Rule: Walking On Icebergs
Slippery ice is difficult terrain; each foot moved across the ice costs 2 feet of movement. When a creature moves on slippery ice for the first time in a turn, it must make a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check or fall prone. The heavy winds sometimes impose disadvantage on this check.
Thin ice has a weight tolerance of 3d10x10 pounds per 10 ft square area. If the total weight on an area of thin ice exceeds its tolerance, the ice in that area breaks. All creatures in that area fall through. In some cases, this means falling into the frigid water.
The Endless Chasm of Nessus
Nessus is a barren, rocky desert, a plain devoid of hills, mountains, rivers, or any other features save for the spiderweb of fissures and canyons that spread throughout the entire realm. Some of the most narrow gorges and fissures of Nessus are a few hundred feet deep, but the largest seem bottomless, extending eternally into the depth. Devils cling to the sides of these chasms and burrow into them, connecting to one another with tunnels and rope bridges spanning the gulfs.
Defining features of Nessus include the vast spiral-shaped canyon known as The Serpent’s Coil, the Gorge of Slaughter, were the most violent devils reside, Hell’s Lips, where hunger is a palpable force, Reaper’s Canion, which feeds on the blood of the dying, and the bottomless Crevasse of Eternity. The River Styx pours through Nessus into the infamous Forgotten Lake before splitting into distributary streams that run through various canyons and gorges.
At the juncture of Hell’s Lips and Reaper’s Canyon sits the massive citadel known as Malsheem. Here resided Asmodeus’ Nessian Guard, his private army. It is said that the army grows in size every time Asmodeus sheds a drop of blood. Whatever the truth, Asmodeus husbands these forces jealously, planning to use them for some massive act of conquest against the heavens.
Nessus is of course ruled by Asmodeus, who appears as an attractive red-skinned humanoid with horns and hooves. He is soft-spoken and disturbingly reasonable and lucid. He is well-prepared for almost any eventuality, perfectly poised, and supremely confident in his power and position.
Optional Rule: The Eternal Storm of Nessus
The surface of Nessus is uninhabited and with good reason. A constant strong wind screams across the plain, carrying clouds of loose snow, imposing disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight or hearing as well as on ranged weapon attacks. The wind extinguishes all open flames and disperses fog and other clouds. A flying creature in the wind must land at the end of its turn or fall.
Each turn, a creature exposed to the buffeting winds of Nessus must make a DC 20 Strength saving throw or take 9(2d8) bludgeoning damage and be blown 4d10 feet in a random direction and be knocked prone, often over the edge of a crevasse where it may fall to its doom. If the creature is blown into another object or creature, it takes 3(1d6) damage for each 10 feet it was blown; if it was blown into a creature, that creature must make a DC 15 Dexterity save or take similar damage, or half damage on a successful saving throw. On a successful saving throw, the creature takes only half damage, is not blown away, and is not knocked prone. Unattented objects are also blown about to similar effect.
Each minute, there is a 10% chance that a creature standing on the surface of Nessus will be struck by lightning, taking 28(8d6) lightning damage or half as much on a successful DC 20 Dexterity saving throw. Characters wearing metal armor have disadvantage on this saving throw.
The Outer Torments, The Archipelago of the Nine Hells
The color sea of The Nine Hells, like that of other astral realms, includes several “islands,” motes of matter floating amid the color pool. Most of these are detritus — petrified fragments of dead titans, or flotsam of planar shipwrecks that have accreted into masses. Technically speaking, The Nine Hells have no Outsiders; anyone who enters the Nine Hells may remain there, including outsiders of any realm. Even were some damned souls to materialize on the islands instead of in the Nine Hells, it is unlikely they would patiently wait for admission into their damnation.
On the other hand, escape from the Nine Hells is difficult even for devils. Thus all manner of outcasts and rogues dwell on the Outer Torments, forming dens of piracy and completely unrestricted commerce. Several deposed and exiled fiends, even archdevils, reside here, some unable to leave due to infernal bindings. The most vital of these outposts is Fair Trade Island, also known as the Soul Market, ruled by night hags with a tenuous peace rigorously enforced by a collection of devils and fallen angels.