Nine Hells

Level 1, Fire. Fiend: "Name", recently freed of bonds, scaly skin, deep blue eyes, large ears, many piercings, talons for feet, possessing a key to the gates of the realm of the dead, a whip of flame, is looking for a lost temple of story and song, can't resist a stiff drink, preys on beautiful young women, and can be controlled only by paying liege to its liege lord.

NPC: A sultry harlot or lecherous monk.

They are tropes for a reason and few are more hypocritical trope slaves than I. use this plane for a lot of senseless action. Have people go nuts, have characters lose inhibitions, release secrets. Everyone rages and surges on this plane. Have people expose their weaknesses, do things they regret. Give them a lot of painful things to reflect on and suffer with as they hit.

They see a large table with food, people that are eating (they are actually imps) and drinking, telling the players they are at a halfway-house so to say, people here are trying to make the most of it trying to have as much fun before they are collected. This however is not the full truth, this is a gluttony test. If they even drink one sip or take one bite (or try to leave) all the furniture and cutlery starts scooping them up placing them at the tables and start force feeding them while the imps are laughing. A series of FORT saves to be able to keep breathing as they are stuffed with filled chickens and potato mash all at once.


Level 2, Ice. Fiend: "Name", Bound to serve a mortal spellcaster, dark crimson skin, glowing yellow eyes, long dark hair with a tall bony frame and leathery wings.  Possesses a book of foul summoning rituals and wields a black steel mace.  Its looking for something to burn and cannot resist setting things on fire.  Enjoys preying on handsome young men, and can be controlled by ritualistically burning a piece of the fiend's flesh.  

NPC: A fat priest or drunken sailor

Misery, Cold, silent agony. Niffleheim to me was always the scariest hell. Make it a tomb or a mountain, my favorite is covering all surfaces in ice and having the ground be strewn with layers of frozen corpses that might stare at you, do nothing or dramatically pop out at you. Without the passion, rage and hate in the previous plane life is nothing but aching pain. The only way to transcend that inevitable pain is of course.

The players enter a semi-large rectangular chamber, the largest part of the room is filled with a knee-deep pool of water. The bottom of the pool is sprinkled with (loads of) gold coins and some bones. The water is not water at all, but a very strong acid (make it high damage for those who try to be greedy and take the gold, make it really stupid for them to take the coins, have an magic-repressing field in and over the pool). This however is not the trap… At the other side of the room is a throne, and on and around the foot of this throne lies a pile of coins and gems and a pharaoh mask face down. When putting on the pharaoh mask or when sitting on the throne the player must make a Willsave to remove it or himself. The player with the mask will hear a voice saying ''greed, greed, Greed, GREED'' he is the only one hearing it. After 1 round gold coins start flying at him, at first a few, but rounds thereafter coins from the pool start slinging themselves at the greedy player… Essentially they get stoned to dead with the gold they wanted so bad, irony right…


Level 3, Flesh. Fiend: "Name", respected a feared lietenant of a mighty fiend, orange skin, pitch black eyes and horns, horrific scars and a pair of wings.  Possesses a book of morbid omens and prophecies and wields poison arrows.  Looking for a person who cheated it and can't resist breaking things.  Preys upon talented actors and musicians and controlled by paying tribute to its liege lord.

NPC: An unscrupulous merchant or tireless treasure hunter

This plane is the literal corpse of a vast being, unimaginable in size, and its only native inhabitant is Thanatos, the Lord of the Undead. Living creatures who wish to visit this place must enter through a portal that must be sourced in a freshly-dug grave (see TRAVEL section for more information). It is unpredictable, deadly, and home to a host of enslaved creatures who serve the will of Thantatos – included Night Hags, Dretch, Ghosts and Death Knights.

A limnal gloom paints the vast grey sky – a queer green smear of luminescense, not unlike the ignis fatuus of the fabled Minas Morgul. The "ground" is the dead flesh of a being known only as "The Body", whose corpse makes up the material elements of the plane. The mottled flesh is firm underfoot, and very slightly spongy. A weapon of at least a +1 enchantment is required to make a cut in the fleshy-ground. In many places rips and tears mar the mostly-flat surface. These wounds are of varying depth, and some go down for hundreds of feet, though the passages are slick with bodily fluids and ichor and can be quite perilous to navigate.

Some of the wounds are thick with pus, bile, mucus and feces. These fonts of putrescense often give rise to hostile lifeforms who care nothing for life or unlife, and wish only to devour and grow large enough for mitosis to occur – these are the Living Fluids, the Tekutina (more details in the LOCALS section).

There are no surface buildings. The bulk of the the inhabitants live within the decaying corpse of The Body, and the only way to enter these areas are through one of 5 charted sphincters (Orbicularis Oris, Pyloric, Urethrae, Anus, Preputial, and there may be more). These muscles open at random, and stay open for random intervals, and no known method of prediction exists to track the durations. Within The Body are numerous locations that are home to a host of horrors – the diabolical factories of suffering and arcane fleshweaving, whose only purpose is the creation of undead creatures to serve the needs of the Plane

This is the vast domain of the Lord of the Undead, Thanatos, King of the Unwalking, Patron of the Necromancer, Unfleshpeddler to the Gods.

Thanatos appears as a large sturdy skeletal humanoid, some 25' tall, and adorned with the skulls and fingerbones of hundreds of unknown races and species laced onto glittering threads of gold and silver and wrapped around him like a vest and a belt. His chest cavity is lit with Unlight, a kind of necrotic-fueled flame, that eats the surrounding light and sheds shadows. Atop his head is a crown made of the teeth of the Mother of All Spawn, wrested from her when she dared to threaten his domain. He carries a scepter of bone, topped with a chunk of sapphire the size of a canteloupe, and it sheds a coldness around it that will freeze flesh from bone in only a few seconds.

SURVIVAL

There is no potable water and no food sources native to the Plane. Attempting to eat the flesh of The Body will result in severe poisoning if a Constitution check at DC 18 is not passed. The poison does 4d6 damage each round for 4d4 rounds before becoming inert. At the halfway round, a new saving throw may be attempted to purge the poison.

Any magic – arcane, divine or other, that is connected to Necromancy will not operate here (the spell fizzles). Instead, the spellcaster will be flagged by Thanatos' senses and a squadron of Death Knights will be dispatched to bring the offender back, where they will be tortured and questioned before being taken to the Unflesh factories for transformation. If the Death Knights are destroyed, Lord Thanatos will send, instead, the Dracolich, Nemrtvý, who will use all its powers to subdue and capture the offending spellcaster. If the dracolich is destroyed, Lord Thanatos himself will come to deal with the problem.

Any wounds taken here will fester and rot much quicker. As a result, all damage taken adds an additional 2 HP of damage due to this effect. (e.g., If you take 4 damage, you actually take 6)

Any living creatures who die here will have their spirits drawn into the Screaming Wind (see "Weather", below). The body can be reincarnated but not resurrected. There is a 50% chance that the spirit drawn back by resurrection will, in fact, be a false spirit – this angry creature will attempt to kill any of the deceased's allies at the first possible opportunity.

Weather

  • The Flesh Rain falls in random intervals, and is a very common occurance. The corpses of humanoids fall from the sky from seemingly nowhere, and blood falls as rain, along with bit of gore and gristle that thump down like dripping hailstones. The chance of being hit by one of the corpses is 25% (check every 10 minutes), and near-misses will be plentiful. If hit, the corpse does 4d6 bludgeoning damage and knocks the target prone, where they lay, Stunned, for 1 round. Anyone hit by one of the bloody hailstones will take 2d4 bludgeoning damage.
  • The Screaming Wind sweeps across the pallid flesh of The Body at regular, if unpredictable, intervals, and anything caught in the Wind is instantly pulled into the hurtling mass and beset by thousands of lost souls filled with murderous rage, who will claw and stomp and hit until the victim is dead and its unfortunate soul ripped from the twitching flesh to join the raging Wind.
  • The Noxious Storm rolls around as a massive thunderhead that drops a thick, warm rain of a mix of foul bodily fluids (vomit, feces, etc…) – this will cause anyone caught exposed in the downpour to become Nauseated (DC 20, and effects as per the Stinking Cloud spell) and suffer 1 level of exhaustion. Continued exposure to the rain will force new saving throws (1 every 6 rounds) or suffer an additional level of exhaustion. The storms generally last from 10 to 100 rounds and cover an area of 2 square miles.

THE LOCALS

Dretch are the most common creatures found roaming The Body, but sometimes wounds will spawn Tekutina, or other undead. The Dretch feast on the droppings of the Flesh Rain, keeping the bodies from piling up. They also attack any intruders, and will flee if losing to alert any nearby Night Hags or Death Knights.

The Tekutina (The Living Fluids)

  • The Hnis (The Pus Oozes) - These yellow and green oozes throw blobs of themselves at victims, hoping to ensnare them in the Slow (DC 16) effect of the thick, sticky liquid.
  • The ┼Żluk (The Bile Oozes) - These black oozes attempt to ambush and smother their prey, and contact with the ooze causes acid damage that eats away at flesh, metal, leather, and glass and can even effect magic items (if they fail a saving throw of DC 16), causing them to cease functioning due to corrosion, or be dissolved altogether!
  • The Sliz (The Mucus Oozes) - These clear oozes are much like the Hnis, hurling globs of themselves to Weaken (DC 16) their prey. They are slower, however, and their attacks have a 50% chance of conferring disease if the target is hit by a critical attack.
  • The Výkaly (The Fecal Oozes) - These dark oozes reek so badly, anyone within 60' of one will automatically become overwhelmed with Nausea (No Saving Throw, as per the Stinking Cloud spell) and their attacks cause an additional 2d6 damage from the foul nature of the creature's substance.

Other Inhabitants (all are either serving from another Plane or were created here)

  • Servants of Thanatos – Ghosts
  • Elite Guard of Thanatos – Death Knights
  • "Watchdog" of the Plane – Dracolich
  • The Conductors of the Symphonies – Night Hags

MYSTERIES

The truth of the Plane is obvious when one sees the Unflesh factories. Necromancers, diabolical clerics, and other evil creatures on the Planes capture people and send them here, to be traded for "freshly-made" undead. The new, living arrivals are taken to the factories and subjected to The Symphonies – a system of torture perfected over uncounted eons by the Night Hags who serve Lord Thanatos. The Symphonies transform the living into the undead, though the process takes a variable amount of time depending on the undead being created. The Night Hags who are true artists of pain and suffering are masters of their craft – no apprentices serve here. The arias of screams and shrieks follow a proscribed set of exacting parameters that are played out with exquisite timing and the maximum amount of trauma while still keeping the vessel viable until the transformation into unlife.

The fresh undead are kept under strong guard and kept docile until they are discharged through a commercial transaction. The magic circles that serve as the portals to the various realms are keyed to transfer the living and the undead at the same time, so there is a seamless transfer. Those would would try and alter the deal by not providing the agreed upon amount of sacrifices are visited by a trio of Night Hags who's only job is to enforce the will of Thanatos. Offenders are always dragged back to the Layer and subjected to the Ghost Symphony and bound to the will of Thanatos as personal servants. These poor ghosts live in constant fear of destruction, as Thanatos like to snack on his incorporeal slaves from time to time.

The Symphonies take many forms, and specialized Halls have been created within The Body to facilitate the perfect rendition of each Symphony. Though the details of each Hall are unknown, their names are whispered as litanies of fear.

The Halls

  • The Limb Farm
  • The Chamber of Blade
  • The Bogrot Hall
  • The Forest of Hooks
  • Razor Edge Hall
  • The Shreiking Gallery

Random Encounters

  1. A patrol of Death Knights on a routine sweep to check if the Fleshrain has dropped any corpses that are intact enough to serve in the Factories. They are connected by telepathy to Thanatos, and if they are destroyed, a new patrol will be sent (at double the size). They fight to the death.
  2. A bile ooze is feasting on some hailstones from the Fleshrain. Once any victims get 60' or closer, the ooze will sense them and move to attack. It will fight to the death.
  3. A group of Zombies have spontaneously manifested and are desperate for living food. They are runners, and are three times as strong as a zombie on the PMP.
  4. A wound in The Body spawns a pack of Gravecrawlers. They are soon joined by a swarm of dozens of Crawling Claws.
  5. The ground suddenly splits and tumbles the party into a cavity deep within The Body. They take 3d6 damage from the fall. Many oozing, pulsating passageways branch off from this place. The Tekutina and roaming Night Hags accost any travelers that might be found wandering here.
  6. A wild band of Dretch are feasting on some corpses and what appears to be another band of visitors who have lost their fight. If the Dretch are driven off, the dead adventurers can be plundered for their loot (the dead NPCs can be whatever level you deem appropriate).
  7. The Shrieking Wind has turned upon a group of Dretch and Death Knights near one of the charted sphincters. The Dretch are quickly consumed, but the Death Knights are holding their own.
  8. The Dracolich, Nemrtvý, is out for a leisurely cruise. If the party doesn't take cover, the dragon will do a swoop and have a closer look. Lord Thanatos sees what Nemrtvý sees.

TRAVEL

Travel to the plane can be achieved through several means. Casting Plane Shift must occur from within a freshly dug grave, or the caster (and friends) will, instead, be shifted to a random layer of the Abyss. Another method is to find the entrance to the Crypt of the Skeleton King and step through the doorway at midnight on the winter solstice. Rumors of a way of bribing a Night Hag for the location of another Planar Gate have been whispered in the local mage guilds.

Exit from the plane is specific. Only two copper coins, pre-Blessed and placed on the closed eyes of the traveler will allow the Plane Shift spell to function correctly. If the spell is cast without this precaution, the new location will be a random layer of the Abyss.

TOOLKIT

This is completely arbitrary, but I thought it would be fun to try and give some numbers around how long it would take the Factories to churn out undead. I've given some pre-requisites for creating that kind of undead, as a bit of fun, feel free to change/ignore.

Undead Production Times

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Type

Pre-Requisite

Time to Create (in days)


Boneclaw

A skeleton

4

Bonedrinker

A skeleton slain by acid

6

Crawling Claw

A zombie

1

Crimson Death

A wraith slain by fire

14

Death Knight

A zombie of a paladin

60

Devourer

A vampire slain by acid

21

Dracolich

A living dragon

400

Drowned

Any humanoid who has drowned

30

Dust Wight

A wight slain by fire

26

Effigy

A humanoid slain by fire

12

Ghast

A ghoul slain by fire

7

Ghost

Any creature slain by betrayal

12

Ghoul

Any cannibal

7

Gravecrawler

A zombie slain by radiant energy

7

Haunt

Any creature slain by betrayal

12

Lacedon

A ghoul that has drowned

20

Mummy

Any humanoid

40

Necrosis Carnex

A humanoid slain by necrotic energy

21

Plague Spewer

A vampire slain by disease

50

Salt Mummy

Any humanoid

40

Shadow

Any humanoid

7

Skeleton

Any humanoid or animal

1

Spectre

Any humanoid slain with fear

7

Web Mummy

Any humanoid slain by spiders

40

Wight

Any humanoid cannibal

7

Wrackspawn

Any tortured zombie

10

Wraith

A wight

7

Zombie

Any humanoid or animal

2


I thought it would be fun to actually stat out the Wind. High level parties could conceivably drive it off or destroy it.

The Screaming Wind

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Stat/Info

#/Modifier

Other


HP

300

 

AC

10

 

Movement

100

 

Attacks

100 claw/tooth attacks

 

Damage

1 per attack

 

Special

Unending Agony

If the Wind is destroyed, it will reform in 24 hours


Level 4, Death. Fiend: Bound to the location, blackened skin, glowing yellow eyes, unsettling grin and discolored flesh, hooves for feet, a key to the gate of the dead realm, wields a wicked spear, looking to dethrown its liege, enjoys setting things on fire, preys on musicians, and can be controlled by grafting some of the fiend's skin to one's self.

NPC: A dueling knight or raging soldier

A large pile of gold or other loot, but if you get close it appears that even the tiniest object has razor sharp teeth.


Level 5, Madness. Fiend: "Name", is an ancient and powerful being.  Orange skin, laughing eyes and black horns, a thick-set frame, talons for feet, possesses a soul of terrifying villain trapped in a gem, wields a black steel mace and searches for someone who cheated it.  A ritualistic sacrifice of a goat can control it.

NPC: A foul witch or devil-may-care thief

If you look behind Death you get madness. Make it a library, make it a memory. Make it a God's Dream, a character's nightmare. Make it an asylum. Make it offputting and have fun. If you look behind Madness you get

Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen to The Velvet Kitten. Where their… your wish is their every command. No succubi or incubi anywhere crosses fingers behind back.


Level 6, Truth. NPC: A boastful singer or sham fortune teller

Put your BBEGs, horrible revelations, betrayals here. Let all your simmering plot points go off. Make it a flashback, make it their home town, make it a boss battle. Make the whole delve have been a dream or a path untaken. Have some fun here.

This will be a fun one! Why? Because you are going to metagame the shit out of them with a monster/devil. Target the strongest player, say this devil deals double damage to barbarians or whatever, make it a shit excuse. Next round he uses AoE attack, 1,5 times the normal size and elves can not make a saving throw. etc etc shit like that, every time they get a little bit angry you invent something new stupid. The angrier they get the stronger this devil becomes. In the end when they figure it out and stop getting angry it is just a little imp playing super mindtricks (make it quite an immediate transition, the moment they find out transform the devil before their eyes.. Otherwise it is unfair.


Level 7 NPC: A sadistic serial killer or champion gladiator

This is clearly not written in a sane order but whatever, we are in limbo. If one of the PCs is not religious he has to become religious on the spot, let him/her choose a god or at least let them accept the concept of their existence. The rest is just a point of ''believing'' and you will end up in the second plane.


Level 8 NPC: A scheming noble or corrupt watchman

Oh that friendly imp that you picked up at gluttony? yeah he is a spy, has learned all your tactics and tells them to the ?archdevil? waiting there. They fight him but guess what, he dies and the artifact behind him is behind a glass mirror, it was in one of the planes they past all along. Is that not nasty enough? The imp is also gone and starts running with the artifact through all the ''planes'' playing ''catch'', insert random encounters from every plane here.


Level 9

 

Nine Hells

Dungeons & Dragons Zatra