View Full Version : Elements to Include In an Abyssal City/Fortress

2009-06-05, 02:22 PM
So my players made some bad and released a bunch of Demons upon the world. One idea that was put forth to resolve the situation is to travel to the Abyss and take out a powerful Demon Lord, hopefully creating a power vacuum that will draw a majority of the Demons back to the Abyss to fight amongst themselves. Not a bad idea on my players' part, so I am going to go with it if they can pull it off.

The party is mostly around 19th level.

The problem that I am having, is that I have no idea what a city would look like in the Abyss, or what kind of elements an Abyssal fortress would have/how it would be designed. What kind of things would you see if you walked the streets of a city in the Abyss? Are there even cities? Also, what would make a good Demon Lord? The group has already fought Balors. Should I just make a big HD-advanced one to be a lord?

Any help you guys can offer would be great.

2009-06-05, 02:32 PM
Well, do demons need sleep in your world?
Do they torture souls all the time, or do they have time of? What do they fill their spare time with?

Also: spikes, skulls and generally all the stuff the warhammer chaos guys have.
Giant pyres, obelisks, rivers of magma...
Sacrifical altairs to their demon lord.

2009-06-05, 02:34 PM
Buy/rent The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and play far enough in to get to the Oblivion Gates. Once you're inside the towers, you'll find all the inspiration you need for the Abyss.

2009-06-05, 02:35 PM
The thing about the Abyss is that it's got nigh-infinite variety. Depending on which layer the players travel to and which Demon Lord rules it, the city could look like practically anything.

I take it you don't have access to Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss?

2009-06-05, 02:42 PM
As for demon princes, if you don't have access to Fiendish Codex or Book of Vile Darkness, you can probably find some of them online somewhere. Demogorgon, Grazz't, Jubilex, all are good options for demon princes. :smallbiggrin:

2009-06-05, 05:13 PM
Here's a couple of good write ups for dukes of hell that could be converted to CE with about thirty seconds work.

a one (http://wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/drfe/20071017)
a two... (http://wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/drfe/20071212)

or if even that's a bit much... (http://wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/drigg/20071024)

2009-06-05, 05:25 PM
I say you build a city of towering crystal spires, wide cobblestone paths, sunny blue skies, gently lapping water, pristine forests, and beautiful, kind people.

And then you reveal the obvious illusion only when your characters are too deep within the bowels of the trap to get out.

2009-06-05, 05:42 PM
Slap me for saying it if you want, but the original Diablo game seems like a good idea for Abyssal cities. Just so much junk down their no telling what you would run in to.

So find your demons/fiends and such that you want to use, and make a society for them that the PC will interact with. Give them a type of city as you would find elsewhere and let things roll from there.

2009-06-05, 06:31 PM
If you have access to it, take a look at the Stronghold Builders book. It gives pretty much inspiration for any type of fortress needed, from flying to multi-planar.
In general just pick a theme and run with it.

2009-06-05, 11:44 PM
Since it's the epitome of both Evil and Chaos, mutable terrain that actively attempts to screw over the party works just fine. Say, the labryinth is trapping itself/rearranging without the need for anyone to direct it, that's just the nature of the plane wanting to **** with anyone and everyone, and even demons stupid enough to get caught by it are viewed as deserving the trouble (and are viewed with some hilarity unless they were underlings that got too delayed by it or sommat, in which case they are nommed.)

Alien Geometry(Geography?) and some other things on TVtropes might give some ideas...

They're probably just as likely to run into a rager that'll try to kill them and fornicate with their remains using their intestines as a prophlyactic as they are to run into swarms/schools of underlings that'll either freak out and flee or raise a warning or act like, well, even eviller gnomes, trying to set off traps and tricks and cruel, cruel pranks on the PCs as much as possible. Or even creatures that know about 'em and are looking to seduce 'em to the dark side or are just taunting them to make 'em mad and do something stupid. Maybe some infernal torture chambers/arenas where souls/unlucky demons go for the amusement of the upper level demons before being nommed/made into magical items/more weak ass demons/what have you.

2009-06-06, 02:13 AM
After some wandering through untold and unspeakable mind-bending horror, they find a place of sanctuary - an area that is normal and safe.

For the first few minutes. :sabine:

2009-06-06, 03:41 AM
Taking some ideas from Heroes of Might and Magic:

Birthing Pools: Lava lakes from where imps spontaneously sprout
Gates: Portals to other infernal locations
Mage Guild(s): The dark, evil kind
Temples: One for each major demon prince
Sacrificial Pits: Of course!

Hall of Temptations: Palace for the Succubi, naturally
Kennels: Where Hell-hounds are bred
Efreeti palace: Might be interesting to have an Efreeti embassy down there...

And if you want to go crazy:
Brimstone Stormclouds: Huge furnaces that spit fire in the sky. Might serve to give a bonus to infernal casters, or simply to prevent fire-resistant creatures from flying in
Deities of Fire: Colossal (really) statues of the greatest demon lords - or your campaign's Big Bad Demon Lord.


2009-06-06, 05:58 AM
Note that it's a chaotic aligned plane, so nothing with an "always lawful" alignment should be found there, including Hell Hounds and Efreeti.

A party of this level, on an adventure of this scale, would probably be best off using some sort of stealth. At the very least they could make a deal to gain affiliation with a faction there in order to avoid being attacked on sight by everything they meet. I'd probably go with Superior Invisibility on everyone, along with Nondetection to avoid being spotted by True Sight. Note that the PCs wouldn't be able to see each other, so they may have to tie themselves together along a rope so they don't get separated. Some sort of telepathic bond may be in order, since they wouldn't be able to communicate otherwise. Maybe just divine their target's location and cast Gate to open a portal into his lair, and just bypass the entire city.

Maybe an unlikely ally (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=5126110&postcount=9) will approach them with an offer to help, though such individuals would have their own motives.

I just got an idea for one particular scene that you may find interesting:
In a prominent location in the city is a large, open plaza. Suspended overhead is an enormous horn or cone pointed downward, the wide end opens over the plaza, and it twists into the sky becoming thinner and blurring from view the higher it goes. From the mouth of this device souls are deposited into the abyss, standing below are Nalfeshnees of varying colors and ethnicities, wearing badges or insignias of various factions. They should be collecting, judging, and claiming the souls and then depositing them into funnels that lead into chambers below. Each would likely have an entourage of lackeys documenting their acquisitions and tracking how many of what types of demons they're to be transformed into.

The chambers below the plaza would be filthy caverns, with the funnels from the plaza opening from the ceiling and catwalks suspended across. The floor should be thick mud that anyone would sink into if they tried to walk on it. Filthy lackey demons would be walking around on the catwalks, shoving the souls into pods and dropping them into the mud to grow into a demon. Different rooms would be used for different types of demons, so there could be no confusion as to what a given soul would be transformed into.

There would be another room below, the floor flooded with water, with a ceiling of mud that's constantly dripping and oozing down. The pods that the demons are grown in would sink through the layer of mud as they're incubated, the depth of the mud between the rooms would be great enough to give them time to fully grow. There would be more lackey demons carrying hooked shovels, walking on stilts in the considerably deep water. They would be prying the finished pods out of the ceiling and letting them drop into the water that floods the floor, a pod would probably bob to the surface and float there while the lackey slashes it open with its shovel to free the creature inside. Once birthed a newly formed demon would sink and be swept away by a strong undercurrent, to be taken into a third room for collection. The water would flow through grates that collect the fresh demons and deposit them into an area where they could be claimed and ushered into pens like livestock. From there they would likely be tied or chained together in a line and escorted away.

2009-06-06, 06:16 AM
You could go for a wild/natureperversion feel - start with a creepy forest motief and go from there, weird mushrooms, weeping trees made of condemmed souls, howling growing closer and closer, tiny winding paths that go nowhere and directions always slipping around when you aren't looking. Go for the Hanzel and Gretel thing but scaled up to give 19th levelers the willies. You could have the Demons as the Wild Hunt chasing screaming things through the trees or as a set of rotting things emerging from caves or spider based things descending from the canopy or whatever.

2009-06-06, 06:42 AM
The problem that I am having, is that I have no idea what a city would look like in the Abyss, or what kind of elements an Abyssal fortress would have/how it would be designed. What kind of things would you see if you walked the streets of a city in the Abyss? Are there even cities? Also, what would make a good Demon Lord? The group has already fought Balors. Should I just make a big HD-advanced one to be a lord?

Any help you guys can offer would be great.

A true Demon Lord doesn't need the fire and brimstone, the horns, fangs and claws, the titanic stature and flaming weapons...a true Demon Lord actually looks something like a well-bred gentleman of wealth and taste (whether this is an illusion or not is besides the point). To an extent he's conquered his naturally chaotic tendancies and has managed to carve out a small modicum of order out of his wild and unpredictable home and minions. It is this superiority over his flaws that makes him great, his dominance over his weaknesses that gives him control. A Demon Lord is not scary because he's big and intimidating; he's scary because he's unexpectedly normal...

After fighting their way through a hideous and mind-bendingly chaotic fortress, the adventurers should come to the inner sanctum to be greeted by said Lord (who, of course knows they're coming) surrounded by a calm and placid scene; marble floors, flowering potted plants, a gently chuckling fountain of clear water, tasteful art and tapestry adorning the walls. Only small hints give away the fact that they're on the Plane of Ultimate Chaos and Evil; the water is actually a virulent and deadly poison or acid, the tapestries (upon closer inspection) depict subtle scenes of torture and madness and the potted plants are carniverous man-eaters.

The fortress itself could be constructed of steel and bronze, flesh, blood and bone. Still living bodies, impaled and run-through with iron hooks, steel barbs and bronze blades writhe and twist within the walls as they scream and plead for mercy constantly, providing sweet music for its demon inhabitants. Perhaps at one point one of the PCs will encounter the visage of an old friend trapped to live in eternal suffering as a building block for the fortress; reaching out to grab at clothing and hair as s/he passes, begging to be released.

Illusion and magic should blend seamlessly with reality; the conjured image of an entire unit of flayed soldiers could be superimposed upon the reality of a village of condemned souls cursed to have their flesh eternally rot from their bones and regrow as they languish in an inescapable pit. If the illusion is dispelled, the reality is displayed in all it's horror. There should be no escape or reprieve from the madness.

Keep combat encounters to a minimum; the occasional torturer, overseer or patrol. Have un-winnable scenarios that the PCs can only evade (like a whole barrack full of Vrocks). By keeping combat scarce, tension should increase as the PC's know that something nasty is going to happen sooner or later; by making it 'easy' they'll know that they're going to have to pay the difference later.