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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    You can find descriptions of every layer of every plane in the Manual of the Planes sourcebook from 3.5 (Most things haven't changed from then), including the 9 hells.

    1. Avernus - A cracked and blasted landscape of barren, mountainous ruins. There are endless battles here, courtesy of the Blood War. The River Styx runs through it.

    2. Dis - A massive city of iron, searing hot to the touch.

    3. Minauros - A vile, sucking swamp full of acrid fumes and unknowable horrid monstrosities

    4. Phlegethos - Rivers of fire and brimstone. Much like the Plane of Fire.

    5. Stygia - An endless arctic ocean, crowded with ice floes.

    6. Malbolge - Silmilar to Gehenna, Malbolge is an endless canyon wall, a slope without top or bottom where rockslides are common.

    7. Maladomini - A landscape coated in apocalyptic urban grunge, as the barren landscape is dotted with endless abandoned cities.

    8. Cania - Cold, cold, yet colder than Stygia, no liquid water remains in the cryogenic crucible of Cania. All everything is glacier and avalanche.

    9. Nessus - A barren, flat plain cracked all over with canyons and trenches so deep, that even falling would take one days to reach the bottom.
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  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Not actually sure what Malebolge looks like these days. They updated that a few times when rulership over the plane changed. At some point, the Hag Countess exploded when she was replaced with Glasya and giant body parts, organs and general globs of gore were scattered over the entire layer.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
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  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    Basing it too closely off the Divine Comedy makes for a hell that doesn't make sense in D&D though. The Divine Comedy/Dante's Inferno hell makes sense because it exists solely to torture people who are condemned there by their sins, it doesn't really interact with anything outside itself except mortals and even then only extremely rarely.

    D&D hell is not divinely mandated punishment, nor is it isolated or lacking in enemies who can and will charge in with fire and sword, so it can't really waste time on ironic cruelty unless it actively achieves something. Every soul beng flayed or boiled perpetually is one that isn't working in mines or factories or fighting against the demons. Plus the more evil someone was in life the more powerful they are likely to be when turned into a devil, so the most wicked souls are more useful being transformed straight into a leadership position.

    Of course there's also the problem of almost everyone in D&D hell having no memories of their mortal life and starting out as a mewling blob of mindless flesh, so their suffering isn't even meaningful when it does happen.

    Dante's Inferno type hell would actually make more sense for the Abyss and D&D demons, pointless eternal torture for things done in life makes far more sense for creatures who exist solely to destroy and torment than it does for creatures who decided that the former needed to be stopped no matter how much pain their methods caused.
    Ravenloft is in some aspects portrayed closer to the Dante-style hell, but only at the Darklord level, as they are truly eternally trapped and subjected to constant reminders of their crimes and failures, and taunted with the possibility of eventual escape/success, only to have it snatched away time and again.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Here is a more personal reading of the Nine.

    Avernus

    Do you like the Blood War? I do. It is the true clash of Law and Chaos, with no chance of peace or any concern for whoever gets caught in the crossfire. And Avernus is the Blood War's most famous battlefield, right at the gates of Law! So not only is it one of the best layers of Baator, but I daresay that it might be a better plane of war than Acheron.

    Bonus: Zariel's theme

    Dis

    Many of the lawful planes are home to metallic constructs, including the gnomish toys of Bytopia, the forged ecosystem of Arcadia, and the modrons of Mechanus. In turn, Dis is where hellfire engines are assembled, in a frantic course to equip the troups of the previous layer. It ought to be the ultimate industrial nightmare. I like that a lot.

    Bonus: Dispater's theme

    Minauros

    The miserly realm of a guy whose name literally means greed. Here, devils trade in gold and souls amidst precarious buildings that slowly sink into the mud. And that's it, but it is already such a strong picture.

    Bonus: Mammon's theme

    Phlegethos

    A place of reward and punishment, as meted by its two rulers. On the one hand, it is a Las Vegas where devils enjoy a respite from their duties. On the other hand, it is a court of law where devils are convicted for failing in their duties. And then there is the omnipresent flames, which most of the time do nothing, but may also "either bring searing agony that reduces a devil to a weaker form, or ecstatic joy that transforms it into a mightier being" (MToF p13). So far, four layers, four wins.

    Bonus: A very NSFW (though clean enough for YouTube) music video that I am reminded of.

    Stygia (and also Maladomini, Cania and Nessus)

    I am grouping these four because they share the trait of being mostly empty wastelands, and I just got to ask why? Stygia is like the Arctic Ocean, Maladomini is all deserted cities, Cania is like Antarctica, and Nessus is a maze of pits. While I know there is a bit more than that going on, I still don't see the appeal.

    Bonus: I got nothing.

    Malbolge

    Welcome to Hell within Hell, inhabited by devils for whom demotion was not enough. There, other devils get to unleash their full cruelty on them. Yet at the same time, the ruler of the place has set up the equivalent of a thieves' guild. You sure you lawful evil, guys? Or is it an Orwellian con to root out conspirators? In any case, an interesting place.

    Bonus: Glasya's theme

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    I remember Crawford saying in an interview that Asmodeus wanted Avernus to be a paradise of temptation, like a big shop window for everything an infernal contract could get you. But the Blood War making it to Avernus put that project literally in ruins.
    Quote Originally Posted by Phhase View Post
    You can find descriptions of every layer of every plane in the Manual of the Planes sourcebook from 3.5 (Most things haven't changed from then), including the 9 hells.

    1. Avernus - A cracked and blasted landscape of barren, mountainous ruins. There are endless battles here, courtesy of the Blood War. The River Styx runs through it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    Here is a more personal reading of the Nine.

    Avernus

    Do you like the Blood War? I do. It is the true clash of Law and Chaos, with no chance of peace or any concern for whoever gets caught in the crossfire. And Avernus is the Blood War's most famous battlefield, right at the gates of Law! So not only is it one of the best layers of Baator, but I daresay that it might be a better plane of war than Acheron.

    Bonus: Zariel's theme
    The idea from Crawford gives me the interesting idea that it's not ENTIRELY in ruins. I really enjoyed the first season of an anime whose shortform name is "KimiBoku" and which translates roughly to "Shall this be our last crusade?" which, on the face of it, is a star-crossed lovers romance, but is hilarious without being comedic in how it contrives the whole thing. Anyway, rather than tout why I like the anime, the reason I mention it is because there's a magic kingdom and a tech empire that are at war (with the romantic pairing being important people on opposite sides, of course). But there are a number of "neutral cities" that the war is forbidden from, and which are used as vacation spots by both sides. The romantic pair keep running into each other at them.

    Demons appreciate their vices just as much as devils do. What if some of the Las Vegas-like Cities of Sin that are meant to be glittering jewels of vice and pleasure survive in part because, despite the Blood War, there's some unspoken agreement to leave them alone as long as demons and devils both get to enjoy them? Maybe the biggest and best-protected (or least-ruined) ones are even on the border with Gehenna, simply because enough chaos seeps in from the demonic activity to pull them there.

    So you have not only the Mad Max wasteland of war, but towering magipunk metropolises that stand amidst the ruins, perhaps right along the Styx, that are either strongholds of Devils not yet fallen, or "neutral" cities run by ... pragmatic ... devilish forces which bend or twist the rules to allow demons in as long as demons don't wreck up the place (and get left alone because they have a secret high-powered demon patron or two who will severely punish any lower-ranking demons that mess up the nice thing they have going on).

  6. - Top - End - #36
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    If anyone was running a Blood War Las Vegas trying to cater to both sides, it would be the Yugoloth. They would also be hilariously bad at it (at least from a mortal standpoint), because their thing is disease, darkness, fear, clinical apathy and forbidden knowledge, not carnal pleasures.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
    "

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    If anyone was running a Blood War Las Vegas trying to cater to both sides, it would be the Yugoloth. They would also be hilariously bad at it (at least from a mortal standpoint), because their thing is disease, darkness, fear, clinical apathy and forbidden knowledge, not carnal pleasures.
    Which might be why the successful efforts are run by devils with more focus on the smooth running of their cities than actively pursuing the blood war.

  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    What if some of the Las Vegas-like Cities of Sin that are meant to be glittering jewels of vice and pleasure survive in part because, despite the Blood War, there's some unspoken agreement to leave them alone as long as demons and devils both get to enjoy them?
    I can see at least a handful of reasons why this wouldn't work:
    • Devils do not do unspoken agreements, except when they silently hand you a paper to sign.
    • Demons are the embodiment of why we can't have nice things.
    • It would more hazardous for devils than for demons, because of home-plane death mechanics.
    • The cities might indeed slide toward Gehenna, which would mean the devils are losing them.
    • Even assuming Bel allowed such experiments, Zariel would not.

  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    I can see at least a handful of reasons why this wouldn't work:
    • Devils do not do unspoken agreements, except when they silently hand you a paper to sign.
    • Demons are the embodiment of why we can't have nice things.
    • It would more hazardous for devils than for demons, because of home-plane death mechanics.
    • The cities might indeed slide toward Gehenna, which would mean the devils are losing them.
    • Even assuming Bel allowed such experiments, Zariel would not.
    While I agree that these are all valid reasons for it not to work, my purpose wasn't to say, "It works this way," but to share an evocative possibility for the plane. If I were trying to make it happen, I'd work on answers to those, but I don't really want to get into what would likely become an argument rather than a discussion of ways to make that setting element work.

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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    Stygia (and also Maladomini, Cania and Nessus)

    I am grouping these four because they share the trait of being mostly empty wastelands, and I just got to ask why? Stygia is like the Arctic Ocean, Maladomini is all deserted cities, Cania is like Antarctica, and Nessus is a maze of pits. While I know there is a bit more than that going on, I still don't see the appeal.

    Bonus: I got nothing.
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    If we shadows have offended, think but this, and all is mended. That you have but slumbered here, while these visions did appear, and this weak and idle theme, no more yielding but a dream. -Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 5, Scene 1

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Which might be why the successful efforts are run by devils with more focus on the smooth running of their cities than actively pursuing the blood war.
    I mean, sure, but the 'loths would be really good at waiting for you in a back alley with a lead pipe to break your kneecaps if you win too much.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
    "

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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Mephistopheles seem to basically use Cania (or Caina, sometimes) as that bomb range the mythbusters occasionally went to to blow up cement trucks.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
    "

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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    While I agree that these are all valid reasons for it not to work, my purpose wasn't to say, "It works this way," but to share an evocative possibility for the plane. If I were trying to make it happen, I'd work on answers to those, but I don't really want to get into what would likely become an argument rather than a discussion of ways to make that setting element work.
    I am sorry if I appeared confrontational.

    Personally, I would imagine such neutral cities in the Outlands, in the vicinity of Torch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Well, that was fire *ba dum tss*.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    That's an OK start, but now what it needs is a bunch of devils with forced smiles who have been ordered to pretend that Avernus still is that paradise of temptation.
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    "Take a moment to look around you. Witness the beauty of the world we have created!"


    For general Hellish inspiration, I'd highly recommend the World of Darkness sourcebook The Thousand Hells.

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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Lots of good thoughts in the thread! In my most recent game, I've emphasized the bureaucracy of the nine hells as a security measure - protecting themselves from the more chaotically-minded by requiring complex forms in triplicate to get anything done. Until, that is, you reach Asmodeus' court, where the highest bureaucrats hold constant networking events. That plus some Hellish flavor: I added some accursed souls who are shaped into "telephone booths," where you can go speak into a big fleshy receiver to get in touch with Hell Support, for instance, and sentient "buses" made of, you know, flesh and soul and stuff to transport low-ranking devils around. The buses are always blocking the box, though, and there's always someone sitting next to you, even if you can't see them.

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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    Stygia (and also Maladomini, Cania and Nessus)

    I am grouping these four because they share the trait of being mostly empty wastelands, and I just got to ask why? Stygia is like the Arctic Ocean, Maladomini is all deserted cities, Cania is like Antarctica, and Nessus is a maze of pits. While I know there is a bit more than that going on, I still don't see the appeal.

    Bonus: I got nothing.
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  17. - Top - End - #47
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    In my campaign world, Hell is one portion of the parallel world called Ja'hannam (which also contains the Abyss; it's basically "all the lower planes.") This is an Arabian Nights styled world, so many things have pseudo-Arabic names.

    As far as environment goes, the "Hell" portion of Ja'hannam is quite a bit more comfortable than most of the other parts of it...at least in a brute physical sense. It has properly-established cities, trade routes, guards, etc. Things are kept clean, crime is minimal to nonexistent. If you weren't told that it was Hell, you might mistake an empty nighttime plaza for being part of a safe and well-policed city anywhere in the mortal world, albeit with a rather unique sense of (austere) decoration.

    Thing is, being in Hell isn't this "fire and brimstone" thing most people expect. That's the Abyssal part of Ja'hannam. And, in general, mortal souls don't go there OR to the Abyssal part; they pass beyond the circles of the world eventually, lingering (whether only briefly or for a long time) in the spirit-world, Al-Barzhak, that is the barrier between life and afterlife. No one knows what the actual afterlife is like, not for certain, for the One, the Great Architect, shrouds such knowledge from the living. Dead mortals only go to Ja'hannam if they have made foolish deals and screwed up (mortal souls really aren't that valuable in my Hells).

    Instead, some living mortals do reside in Ja'hannam. Fewer than in the mortal world, but that's just because it's not a very hospitable place to live in general. The vast majority of the residents are what the priesthood calls "Servants," or rather, ex-servants. And in the case of those areas called "Hell," they are servants who did not break from the goal of the divine plan, just the restrictions on how that plan should be enforced. So they create places that are sturdy, safe, "prosperous" for a given definition thereof...and which are completely absent any real freedom or independence. Hell's cities are safe because disobedience is met with violent force or magical compulsion, because that is the kind of existence its devilish rulers fought and bled to be able to have. It is clean and orderly and sterile because that is what they think the divine plan was supposed to produce, a paradise where no one ever "suffers" (except by disobeying), or "wants" (except wanting freedom), or wishes ill (because they have no choice). As long as you live in a place far away from the battle-lines of the Blood War, Hell is one of the safest, securest, most placid places to live; some scholars and even meditative types have chosen to live there because they know that, as long as they play by the rules, they'll never have to leave. It's hard for mortals to get into Ja'hannam (and even harder to leave once there), but it has a certain twisted appeal.

    If the devils had their way, all of reality would look like this--and because there would thus be no more demons and no more "regular" servants, they would finally make good on their promise of paradise: a place for everyone and everyone in their place, and never any misdeeds or wantonness or blemish, "perfection" everywhere just as the One desired. And all it would take is erasing the agency of any mortal that disagrees!

  18. - Top - End - #48
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    When you arrive in Baator as one of many new lemures, you soon find yourself under the "care" of someone who lives to swing spiked chains. You might be herded to serve as cannon fodder in the Blood War, or be put on display in a soul marketplace.
    Yeah, but Lemures aren't sentient. That's almost a mercy.

    Quote Originally Posted by HoboKnight View Post
    {Scrubbed} Per such "lore" approach, {scrubbed}a socialist country with state-run economy and army. Army is really important. There is a lot of opression {Scrubbed}, who inherited his powers from his predicessor.
    Now this is exactky the kind of thing the Nine Hells should have more of. Not the original post mind you, the way the post is here where it looks like Friend Computer from Paranoia has gotten to it. Eveything is above your security cleatance and on a need-to-know basis.

    In fact, now that I think of it, that's probably why the lemures are non-intelligent; they're so far down the heirarchy they're not permitted to know anything at all
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Yeah, but Lemures aren't sentient. That's almost a mercy.
    That seems to vary.

    In 5e, it is clear that lemures are not only made from souls but are also still regarded as such.
    Quote Originally Posted by MM p67, The Infernal Hierarchy
    The lowest form of devil, lemures are the twisted and tormented souls of evil and corrupted mortals.
    Quote Originally Posted by MM p68, Chain Devil (Kyton)
    Chain devils act as sadistic jailers and torturers in the infernal realms, relishing pain and living to inflict it on others. They are called on to torment mortal souls trapped in the Nine Hells, inflicting their sadistic fury on the horrid lemures in which those souls manifest.
    Quote Originally Posted by MToF p12, Mammon
    On its arrival, each soul passes through the capital of Minauros, the Sinking City, and is recorded. The soul is then distributed to whoever should claim it, according to contracts in force and laws in effect. Mammon appropriates any extra lemures for himself and sells them for profit.
    Quote Originally Posted by MToF p168, a quote from Mordy
    A lemure emerges from the Styx wiped of memory, yet the patterns of evil it performed in life remain indelibly inscribed upon its soul.
    While lemures have an Int score of 1 (-5), the edition doesn't have any rule regarding that and sapience. Also, lemures understand Infernal. Even their inability to speak might be more physical than mental, in the style of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.
    Quote Originally Posted by MM p69, Lemure
    A lemure resembles a molten mass of flesh with a vaguely humanoid head and torso. A permanent expression of anguish twists across its face, its feeble mouth babbling even though it can't speak.
    As I see it, it is you who arrive in Baator. Your new existence is as if your body was horribly flayed and you were drugged out of your mind, but it is still you.

  20. - Top - End - #50
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    That seems to vary.

    While lemures have an Int score of 1 (-5), the edition doesn't have any rule regarding that and sapience. Also, lemures understand Infernal. Even their inability to speak might be more physical than mental, in the style of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.
    Ah, ok, difference in editions. In 3.5e Lemures have no intelligence score and the "mindless" trait
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2021-02-11 at 12:24 AM.
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    If we shadows have offended, think but this, and all is mended. That you have but slumbered here, while these visions did appear, and this weak and idle theme, no more yielding but a dream. -Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 5, Scene 1

  21. - Top - End - #51
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post

    While lemures have an Int score of 1 (-5), the edition doesn't have any rule regarding that and sapience.
    True, but as I recall, things that were mindless in past editions, like Animated Objects, are Int 1 in 5e. Reasonable to conclude that 5e's Int 1, is the equivalent of 3e's Int -.
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2021-02-11 at 01:58 AM.
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    Default Re: What are Nine hells REALLY like?

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    Reasonable to conclude that 5e's Int 1, is the equivalent of 3e's Int -.
    Maybe. But then it means that a lemure's understanding of Infernal is no more than a reaction to voice commands. And so, when a kyton tortures a lemure, it is really an angry kid throwing Siri at the wall.

    Which is a bit too silly for my taste. It also considerably reduces the horror of the Hells.

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