|Layers:||An infinite number|
- It is an infinity of clutching horror.
- It is home to demons.
- It is where morality crumbles and ethics perish.
The Abyss is all that is ugly, all that is evil, and all that is chaotic reflected in infinite variety through layers beyond count. Its virtually endless layers spiral downward into ever more atrocious forms. Conventional wisdom places the number of layers of the Abyss at 666, though there may be far more. The whole point of the Abyss, after all, is that it's far more terrible than conventional wisdom could ever encompass. Each layer of the Abyss has its own unique, horrific environment. No theme unifies the multifarious layers other than their harsh, inhospitable nature. Lakes of caustic acid, clouds of noxious fumes, caverns of razorsharp spikes, and landscapes of magma are all possibilities. So are less immediately deadly terrains such as parched salt deserts, subtly poisonous winds, and plains of biting insects. The Abyss is home to demons, creatures devoted to death and destruction. A demon in the Abyss looks upon visitors as food or a source of amusement. Some see powerful visitors as potential recruits (willing or not) in the never-ending war that pits demons against devils: the Blood War.
Demon lords and deities inhabit the Abyss, including Demogorgon, Graz'zt, Pazuzu, Blibdoolpoolp (deity of kuotoa), Diirinka (deity of the derro), the Great Mother (deity of beholders), Gruumsh (deity of orcs), Hruggek (deity of bugbears), and many others, including the well-known deity Lolth (draw deity and queen of the demonweb pits). Other demon princes include Yeenoghu, Alzrius, Baphomet, Eldanoth, Fraz Urblu, Juiblex, Kostchtchie, Lissa'aera, Lupercio, Lynkhab, Pale Night, Verin, and Vucarik.
As noted before, the Abyss has layers beyond count, though the top layer is well-known: the Plain of Infinite Portals.
- Normal Gravity: The top layer of the Abyss, the Plain of Infinite Portals, and many other layers have the normal gravity trait, but other layers of the Abyss can contain wildly different gravity traits that run the gamut of possibilities.
- Normal Time: Time flows at the same rate in the Abyss as on the Material Plane. However, rumors persist of a layer where time flows backward with regard to aging. The reverse flow is erratic, however, and a visitor could be reverse-aged to childhood or out of existence altogether.
- Infinite Size: The Abyss goes on forever in the form of an infinite number of layers, although its well-known realms are bounded.
- Divinely Morphic: Entities at least as powerful as lesser deities can alter the Abyss. Less powerful creatures find the Abyss indistinguishable from a normal Material Plane (alterable morphic trait) in that the plane can be changed by spells and physical effort.
- Mixed Elemental and Energy Traits: This trait varies widely from layer to layer. In the Abyss as a whole, no one element or energy constantly dominates, though certain layers have a dominant element or energy, or a mixture of two or more.
- Mildly Chaos-Aligned and Mildly Evil-Aligned: Lawful characters in the Abyss suffer a –2 penalty on all Charisma-based checks, and good characters suffer the same penalty. Lawful good characters suffer a –4 penalty on all Charisma-based checks.
- Normal Magic.
The two most well-known access points to the Abyss are a gate in the Outlands from the town of Plague-Mort, and the River Styx. Both of these links provide access to the top layer of the Abyss, the Plain of Infinite Portals.
Called Demonholme by some, the Abyss harbors demons and is likely their ultimate source. Demons rule most known layers of the Abyss. Other evil creatures reside among the layers as well, including bebiliths, bodaks, retrievers, undead of every sort, renegade devils, twisted mortals, and worse. A class of demons called tanar'ri are the unchallenged masters of the Abyss, although the nigh-infinite variety of the plane means some areas exist beyond their reach.
Those souls from the Material Plane that are not simply absorbed into the structure of the Abyss become petitioners called manes. Manes have pale white skin, cruel claws, sharp teeth, sparse hair, and white eyes. Often, maggots visibly squirm through a mane's bloated flesh. Manes that survive many years are sometimes “promoted” to lesser demon types, though they retain no memory of their former lives. Manes have the following special petitioner qualities:
- Additional Immunities: Electricity, poison.
- Resistances: Fire 20, acid 20.
- Other Special Qualities: Acidic vapor, no planar commitment.
- Acidic Vapor (Su): When a mane is slain, it discorporates into a cloud of noxious vapor. Anyone within 10 feet of a slain mane who fails a Reflex save (DC 20) takes 1d6 points of acid damage.
- No Planar Commitment (Ex): Unlike most other petitioners, manes can leave the plane they call home.
Movement and Combat
In general, the Abyss functions like the Material plane with regard to movement and combat. On layers where the environment is radically strange, different rules apply. Individual layers of the Abyss could have the firedominant trait, for example, or have subjective directional gravity. Unless stated otherwise, those traits function the same in the Abyss as they do everywhere else.
The ships of chaos
Demons sometimes move from plane to plane in entropic vessels formed of powdered bones, crushed spirits, and petitioners. Meant for use against devils in the Blood War, these ships of chaos have wild powers specifically designed to counter the effects of law. The tanar'ri have commissioned only a very few ships of chaos, but the few demon-crewed ships that do sail the planes are a terror to behold. For brave or foolhardy travelers, the tanar'ri sell passage on a ship of chaos, if the price is right.
The Abyss has more layers than anyone knows, mortal or deity. A few of the most well known are described below. Vision in the Abyss is normal except on layers where environmental conditions inhibit it. Unless noted otherwise, hellish suns, phantom glows, or similarly unpleasant radiances illuminate all layers of the Abyss. Unless a particular layer somehow inhibits sound, hearing is also normal in the Abyss.
Plain of Infinite Portals
This is the topmost of the uncountable Abyssal layers. It is a barren, dusty place without life or greenery, baking beneath a hell-red sun. The dusty plains are broken by three features: huge pits in the earth, great iron strongholds, and the River Styx. The pits of this first layer are portals to deeper layers. Dropping down a given pit soon deposits the traveler into the associated layer, though jumping into random pits that lead to unknown planes of the Abyss is insanely dangerous. Most of the pits are two-way portals, but some are only one-way, leaving travelers stranded on the new layer.
The Abyss is said to consist of an infinite number of layers, though the total number is also quoted as 666. Layers are numbered based upon order of discovery by various personalities in the background details, sometimes considered documented by the Fraternity of Order. Discrepancies in layer numbers between supplements and sources can be explained as catalogues that have been compiled by different sources.
It is impossible to know with any certainty whether layers are actually arranged in this precise order, in contrast to the known ordering of layers within all the other planes of the cosmology. A useful metaphor is a deck of playing cards shuffled and then tossed down so they are piled together loosely, randomly, and sometimes not at all.
A list of layers named includes:
- 1 - Pazunia (also known as The Plane of Infinite Portals or The Palace of 1001 Closets) has been described as an infinite plane with only three types of distinct features:
- The river Styx flowing through it (as it does through the top layers of other evil planes).
- Large sinkholes which connect to other layers of the Abyss, some were drilled intentionally by ancient demons during the Abyss' original exploration. The largest of these holes is the Grand Abyss.
- Iron Fortresses which guard the physical bodies of Demon Princes when they leave the Abyss to travel astrally.
- 2 - Driller's Hives, realm of Tharzax the Chattering Prince.
- 3 - The Forgotten Land, realm of Zzyczesiya the Ungrasped.
- 4 - The Grand Abyss, a bottomless, nigh-infinite canyon that contains portals to virtually every other layer in the Abyss.
- 5 - Wormblood
- 6 - Realm of a Million Eyes, home to the Great Mother, Princess of Beholders.
- 7 - Phantom Plane, realm of the demon lord of the lizard kings, Sess'Innek.
- 8 – The Skin-shedder, realm of Volisupula the Flensed Marquesse.
- 9 - Burningwater
- 10 - "That Hellhole"
- 11 - Molrat
- 12 - Twelvetrees
- 13 - Blood Tor, realm of the goddesses Beshaba and Umberlee from the Forgotten Realms setting. (2nd edition AD&D)
- 14 - The Steaming Fen, realm of the Queen of Chaos.
- 17 - Death's Reward, realm of Abraxas the Unfathomable.
- 21 - The Sixth Pyre, realm of Kardum, Lord of Balors.
- 23 - Iron Wastes, home to Kostchtchie, demon Prince of frost giants.
- 27 - Malignebula, realm of the Abyssal lord Lissa'aere the Noxious.
- 32 - Sholo-Tovoth: The Fields of Consumption, realm of Turaglas the Ebon Maw.
- 45 to 47 - these three layers make up Azzagrat, the realm of the demon prince Graz'zt, the rival of Demogorgon. Other sources list these as layers 42 to 44. In First Edition D&D, Graz'zt's layer is an infinite palace which filled his entire layer.
- 49 - Shaddonon, realm of the demon lord Rhyxali, Princess of Shadow.
- 52 - Vorganund
- 57 - Torturous Truth, realm of the Abyssal lord Alvarez the Purging Duke.
- 66 - The Demonweb Pits, home of Lolth, queen of spiders and principal deity of evil drow, particularly in Menzoberranzan.
- 67 - The Heaving Hills (Verrangoin Realm)
- 68 - The Swallowed Void
- 69 - The Crushing Plain
- 70 - The Ice Floe
- 71 - Spirac, hunting grounds of the demon lords.
- 72 – Darklight, realm of Nocticula the Undeniable.
- 73 - The Wells of Darkness, currently serve as the prison of several demon lords such as Shami-Amorae, Ansitif and Ebulon.
- 74 - Smargard, home to Merrshaulk the yuan-ti deity and Ramenos the bullywug deity. Also contains The Viper Pit (Sseth's realm; Powers & Pantheons), and the Silent Temple (Planar Handbook).
- 77 - The Gates of Heaven, realm of Munkir and Nekir.
- 79 - The Emessu Tunnels, realm of Anarazel the Daring Darkness.
- 81 - The Blood Shallows, one of Obox-ob's former realms.
- 88 - The Gaping Maw (or Brine Flats or Abysm), home to Demogorgon, Prince of Demons, one of the highest-ranking demons in the abyss.
- 89 - Shadowsea, oceanic realm of the demon lord Dagon, Prince of the Depths.
- 90 - The Guttering Cove, realm of Ilsidahur the Howling King.
- 92 - Ulgurshek, the massive ancient Draedens
- 99 - Unnamed contested layer consisting of several distinctive realms (from First edition D&D module Tales of the Outer Planes); one is where demons are spawned, another is a lightning realm, in another can be found portals leading to Juiblex and Kali's layers.
- 111 - The Mind of Evil, realm of Sch’theraqpasstt the Serpent Reborn.
- 113- Thanatos, the realm of Orcus, demon prince of the Undead. Some sources quote this as layer #333 or #133.
- 128 - Slugbed, realm of the Abyssal lord Lupercio the Baron of Sloth.
- 137 - Outcasts' End, realm of Azazel, Prince of Scapegoats.
- 142 - Lifebane, realm of the god Chemosh from the Dragonlance setting. (2nd edition AD&D)
- 148 - Torrent
- 176 - Hollow's Heart, realm of the demon lord Fraz-Urb'luu, which, due to his magical illusions, appears to be flat, colorless, and featureless to the human eye.
- 177 - The Writhing Realm, realm of Ugudenk the Squirming King.
- 181 - The Rotting Plain, realm of the troglodyte god Laogzed.
- 193 - Vulgarea, realm of the foxwoman goddess Eshebala.
- 221 - Blekhole, home to the lesser lord Frazorza, self-proclaimed 'Demon Lord of Conflict', known also as the 'Bloodless Contrarian'
- 222 - Shedaklah (aka The Slime Pits), home to Juiblex demon Prince of Slimes, and Zuggtmoy, Demon Queen of Fungi.
- 223 - Offalmound, former realm of the dead god Moander from the Forgotten Realms setting. (2nd edition AD&D)
- 230 - The Dreaming Gulf, a windy realm home to the dreams of dead gods.
- 241 - Palpitatia, realm of the bugbear gods Grankhul and Skiggaret.
- 245 - The Scalding Sea
- 248 - The Hidden Layer, realm of Eltab.
- 274 - Durao (gateway layer), mustering ground for the armies of the Abyss as they prepare for battle in the Blood War.
- 297 - The Sighing Clifs, realm of the Abyssal lord Lady Lynkhab.
- 300 - Feng-Tu, realm of the Chinese gods Tou Mu and Lu Yueh.
- 303 - The Sulfanorum
- 313 – Gorrison's Grasp, site of Illssender's Tower
- 333 - The Broken Scale, realm of the god Hiddukel from the Dragonlance setting. (2nd edition AD&D)
- 340 - The Black Blizzard
- 348 - Fortress of Indifference, ruled by Tapheon, the nalfeshnee; former realm of the demon lord Thralhavoc.
- 357 - The Arc of Eternity, realm of Eldanoth the Bloodless Scion.
- 377 - Plains of Gallenshu
- 399 - The Worm Realm, realm of the gnome god Urdlen.
- 400 - Woeful Escarand (Nalfeshnee Realm), a court at which newly arrived larvae and sometimes other demons are judged
- 403 - The Rainless Waste, site of Mal Arundak, the City of Confusion (Fallen archon realm)
- 421 - White Kingdom, ruled by the King of Ghouls, once a vassal to Orcus and Yeenoghu, but is now a free agent.
- 422 - The Seeping Woods, ruled by Yeenoghu, Demon Prince of Gnolls. Called "Yeenoghu's Realm" in Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss.
- 423 - Galun-Khur
- 452 - Ahriman-abad, realm of Ahrimanes, Chief of the Cacodaemons.
- 471 - Androlynne, realm of Pale Night.
- 487 - Lair of the Beast and Mansion of the Rake, realm of the vampire god Kanchelsis.
- 489 - Noisome Vale, ruled by the balor Tarnhem.
- 493 - The Steeping Isle, realm of Siragle the Ineffable.
- 499 – Carroristo
- 503 - Torremor, realm of the demon lord Pazuzu.
- 507 - Occipitus, former realm of Adimarchus, the demon prince of madness.
- 518 - Melantholep possible name of the nesting grounds of the chole dragons, or perhaps an unknown demon prince who rules the layer.
- 523 - Rocky desert that houses the Lakes of Fire (see Planescape adventure 'Rapture').
- 524 - Shatterstone, realm of the ogre god Vaprak.
- 528 - Juiblex's layer in First Edition D&D, an infinite layer of slimes and oozes feeding off each other. Juiblex's palace is said to resemble the biggest pile of garbage in the multiverse.
- 531 - Vudra, realm of the giant marilith Shaktari, the Queen of Poison.
- 558 - Fleshforges, realm of Dwiergus the Chrysalis Prince.
- 566 - Soulfreeze, realm of Aseroth the Winter Warlock.
- 570 - Shendilavri, realm of the demon lord Malcanthet, Queen of the Succubi.
- 586 - Prison of the Mad God, realm of the derro god Diinkarazan.
- 597 - Goranthis, realm of Socothbenoth the Persuader.
- 600 - Endless Maze, the realm of Baphomet, demon Prince of Minotaurs. The demoness Pale Night resides here as well.
- 601 - Conflagratum, realm of the Abyssal lord Alzrius, Lord of Infernal Light.
- 628 - Vallashan, a layer designed to allow temporary victory to conquering armies of good alignment, only to then corrupt the conquerors and turn them against themselves
- 643 - Caverns of the Skull, realm of the Black Earth Mother Kali, the goddess of destruction. In First Edition D&D, Kali's layer was #500 and was a jungle of blood-red vegetation bordering a sea of blood.
- 651 - Nethuria, realm of Vucarik, Consort of Chains.
- 652 - The Rift of Corrosion
- 663 - Zionyn, realm of the demon lord Obox-ob, Prince of Vermin.
- 666 - ???