The Gray Waste
|Primary Faction:||Bleak Cabal|
- It is where evil springs eternal.
- It is a plane of endless apathy and despair.
- It is the great battlefield of the Blood War.
Hades sits at the nadir of the lower planes, halfway between two races of fiends each bent on the other's annihilation. Thus, it often sees its gray plains darkened by vast armies of demons battling equally vast armies of devils who neither ask nor give quarter. If any plane defines the nature of true evil, it is the Gray Waste. In the Gray Waste of Hades, pure undiluted evil acts as a powerful spiritual force that drags all creatures down. Here, even the consuming rage of the Abyss and the devious plotting of the Nine Hells are subjugated to hopelessness. Apathy and despair seep into everything at the pole of evil. Hades slowly kills a visitor's dreams and desires, leaving the withered husk of what used to be a fiery sprit. Spend enough time in Hades, and visitors give up on things that used to matter, eventually giving in to total apathy. Hades has three layers called “glooms.” Uncaring malevolence that slowly crushes the spirit permeates each gloom.
- Normal Gravity.
- Normal Time.
- Infinite Size: Hades may extend infinitely, but its realms are finitely bounded.
- Divinely Morphic: Entities of at least lesser deity status can alter Hades, though few deities deign to reign in Hades. The Gray Waste has the alterable morphic trait for less powerful creatures; Hades responds normally to spells and physical effort.
- No Elemental or Energy Traits.
- Strongly Evil-Aligned: Nonevil characters in Hades suffer a –2 penalty on all Charisma-, Wisdom-, and Intelligence-based checks.
- Entrapping: This is a special trait unique to Hades, although Elysium has a similar entrapping trait. A nonoutsider in Hades experiences increasing apathy and despair while there. Colors become grayer and less vivid, sounds duller, and even the demeanor of companions seems to be more hateful. At the conclusion of every week spent in Hades, any nonoutsider must make a will saving throw (DC 10 + the number of consecutive weeks in Hades). Failure indicates that the individual has fallen entirely under the control of the plane, becoming a petitioner of Hades. Travelers entrapped by the inherent evil of Hades cannot leave the plane of their own volition and have no desire to do so. Memories of any previous life fade into nothingness, and it takes a wish or miracle spell to return such characters to normal.
- Normal Magic.
The River Styx flows through the uppermost layer of Hades, and a few of its small tributaries may lead deeper into the plane. As with everywhere else along the Styx, sinister ferrymen ply its length, granting passage to other planes. Portals to other planes are fairly common, at least on the uppermost gloom, Oinos. Portals usually appear as great spinning coins of color. Golden coins lead to Carceri, silver ones lead to the Outlands, coppers go to Gehenna, and rare platinum ones connect to the Astral Plane. Because everything else in the Gray Waste is leached of color, the coin-portals glitter for miles.
Foul creatures of every sort can be found in the Gray Waste. Because this is the battleground of the lower planes, demons, devils, slaadi, formians, and even the occasional deva can be found here, spying for the war effort or deserting their unit. Of course, yugoloths also abound, despite the fact that most of the race has moved from this plane, their original home, to the neighboring plane of Gehenna. Night hags are also thick in Hades. They constantly seek special petitioners called larvae, which they use as a special form of spiritual currency in their dark dealings with evil beings and deities. Besides Blood War detritus, night hags, and petitioners, Hades hosts herds of fiery nightmares.
Petitioners in Hades are mostly grayish ghosts, spirits so depleted by the Waste that they lack solidity. They rarely speak, instead crowding around visitors like moths around a candle, seeking the warmth of emotion and hope that living beings possess. Spirits of particularly selfish and malicious mortals that come to Hades become a special form of petitioner called a larva. Larvae appear as Medium-size worms with heads that resemble the heads on their mortal bodies. Larvae serve as the currency of the Lower Planes, especially among night hags, liches, demons, devils, and yugoloths. Most are as likely to be used as food as to power a spell. The rare “lucky” larva is sometimes promoted to a lower form of fiend. Normal petitioners in Hades gain only one special petitioner quality: incorporeality. But larvae have the following special petitioner qualities:
- Additional Immunities: Cold, fire. Resistances:
- Electricity 20, acid 20.
- Other Special Qualities: Wounding, disease, no planar commitment.
- Wounding (Ex): Every time a larva deals damage, the wound automatically bleeds for 1 additional point of damage every round until a Heal check (DC 15) is made or magical healing is applied.
- Disease (Ex): Following a battle with larvae during which the larvae dealt any damage, wounded characters must make a Fortitude save (DC 17) or contract devil chills (see Disease in Chapter 3 of the DUNGEON MASTER’s Guide, for the effects of devil chills).
- No Planar Commitment (Ex): Unlike most other petitioners, larvae can be removed from Hades. Often, they are taken elsewhere to serve as food, barter, and basic “soulstuff” for fiendish projects, both demonic and devilish, that require such an esoteric component.
Movement and Combat
Movement and combat in Hades are much like movement on the Material Plane. The hateful nature of the plane makes combatants less likely to flee, even if gravely wounded. Most fights here are to the death.
The glooms of the Gray Waste are just that: dull gray lands. The earth is gray, the sky is gray, and the petitioners are gray. Color is foreign here, as if vision itself is subverted. When visitors step into the plane, everything goes from color to white, black, or gray. There is no sun, no moon, and no stars above—just a bleak gray radiance emanating from the sky. This grayness affects more than vision; it is a spiritual grayness. It reaches into the hearts of all who spend time in Hades. Those who spend more time here than they should, such as all the petitioners, are devoid of feeling. They don't laugh, don't cry, and just don't care. All they do is despair, their hope gone and never to return. Both the entrapping trait of Hades and the spiritual sickness called “the grays” are manifestations of the grayness of Hades.