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The Abyss

The Abyss

The Abyss, or more fully, the Infinite Layers of the Abyss, is a chaotic evil-aligned plane of existence.

Orginally  from The Book of Fiends

Designed By Aaron Loeb, Erik Mona, Chris Pramas, and Robert J. Schwalb

Some scholars believe that everything in the material world is but are presentation of some intrinsically pure concept found in the Outer Planes. A castle, for example,  is an echo of a perfect, archetypal castle that exists somewhere beyond the Astral Plane. The existence of the roiling Abyss lends credence to such theories. The seemingly infinite layers of this plane of chaos and evil house the”perfect”  inspiration for countless acts of murder, betrayal, perversion, and decadence.

Whole cities rise and fall at the whims of distant masters in endless cycles that seemly to prove the inevitability of anarchy and decay. The aimless souls of mortals range from layer to layer, fearing capture from nigh-omnipotent lords eager to suck essence from their metaphysical marrow. Landscapes leach life, color, and nutrients from those who attempt to settle them, and wild beasts controlled only by hunger and lust haunt jungles infested with murderous plants and poisonous  streams. Few foreigners survive long in the Abyss. The plane seems designed by a bickering assembly of insane but none the less brilliant architects for the sole purpose of punishing and destroying its inhabitants.

Certain creatures do manage to eke outan existence here, as their natures parallel that of the Abyss itself. These beings,commonly known as demons on the Material Plane, divide themselves into countless races, subraces, and breeds. The greatest demons bend the spirit of the plane itself to their will, becoming self-styled princes of certain layers, dominating hordes of demonic subjects just as human sovereigns command their vassals.

Notoriously disloyal, demons hold true allegiance only to their own chaotic, unpredictable nature. They war against one another, against the devils of the Nine Hells, and against the angelic choirs of the Upper Planes, sacrificing themselves in great numbers as if honoring the very concept of destruction, whether of themselves or of their enemies. Despite their propensity to die in huge numbers when facing better-organized foes, their sheer force of numbers propels the armies of the Abyss to victory as often as not. An infinite plane, after all, can produce an infinite number of demonic soldiers.

Yet not all demons prefer the cosmic battlefields of the Outer Planes. Some delight in tempting mortals to acts of chaos and evil, increasing the number of souls entering the Abyss with every foul corruption. Demon princes require mortal souls to maintain their hold on their personal layers, and their agents roam the physical world in search of converts for their infernal masters.

Some demons come to the Material Plane at the behest of amoral wizards, clerics, or sorcerers, who summon them from the Abyss to do their bidding. When under the command of a summoner, demons make powerful shock troops, cunning confidants, and skillful assassins. Certain magical practitioners, known as thaumaturges, have developed the practice of manipulating demonic forces and magic to a science. Just as the world has much to offer demons, demons have much to offer it.

Demons also have much to offer your campaign. They represent the ultimate challenge to the typical party of fantasy adventurers. Nothing is more offensive to a paladin than a demonic paragon of ideals diametrically opposed to the standards of law and goodness. Druids and rangers rightly consider demons unnatural blights whose very presence on the Material Plane threatens the natural order. For a fighter or barbarian demons are the ultimate martial encounter, and they serve as thrilling antagonists in countless bards  ‘tales. Wizards, sorcerers, and clerics, on the other hand, might have much to learn from demonic denizens of the Outer Planes, viewing them as intriguing enemies who hold the key to important lore
in their inscrutable minds.

Even an adherence to chaos and evil, however, allows room for differences. Not all demons exist merely to frighten or eat mortals. Some can make for powerful (albeit very dangerous) allies, approaching an adventuring party with offers of mutual assistance. Some portray themselves as misunderstood victims of creation, benevolent advocates of philosophies not intrinsically “bad,” but simply frowned upon by society at large. In the magical world of a fantasy roleplaying campaign, knowing the difference between a silk-voiced demon who legitimately offers unknown pleasures and one who merely wants to feast on your innards is a valuable skill indeed.


The Abyss is a region of intense, extreme, and unforgiving climates, with layers consisting of overwhelmingly fierce desert sandstorms; explosively unstable volcanic activity, boiling lava, and molten rock; blinding, sub-zero Arctic glaciers; bottomless oceans filled with enormous leviathans; nauseatingly putrid environments saturated with disease-causing fungi; and the endless, existential void of infinite space.

It has been suggested that the Abyss may be alive, and that it spawns demons out of its urge to spread chaos and destruction.


800px Hieronymus Bosch Triptych of Garden of Earthly Delights detail WGA2516
Hieronymus Bosch  (circa 1450 –1516)   The Garden of Earthly Delights [detail]

The main race that inhabits the Abyss are the demons, chaotic evil beings. There are four kinds of demon: the classical, religion-inspired demons of evil and sin the Tanar’ri; the ancient, Lovecraftian Obyriths; the recently appeared
Loumaras; and the other demons, which are simply demons that are not specified as belonging to any of the other three categories. Each of these categories contains numerous different species of demon. Of the four categories, the Tanar’ri are the most numerous and most influential and the true rulers of the plane.

The petitioners (souls of the dead who have been sent to the layer for the afterlife) of the Abyss are called manes, and they are the lowest caste of the Tanar’ri. They have pale white skin, sharp teeth and claws, and maggots are reported to crawl through their flesh. Manes that survive for many years may be promoted to greater forms of demon. Extremely clever, lucky ones that survive for millennia may even eventually become Demon Lords. The Demon Lord Orcus is one such demon lord who began as a mane.

The Demon Lords, also known as demon princes, are extremely powerful demons, mostly of the Tanar’ri category though a few Obyrith lords exist as well, who through sheer power and influence have come to rule over one of the layers of the Abyss. They are near god-like in power, each have unique forms, many have cult-followings upon the material plane, and they command scores of lesser demons. Known demon lords include Orcus, as well as Demogorgon, Graz’zt, Fraz-Urb’luu, Baphomet, Yeenoghu, Juiblex, Malcanthet, Pazuzu, Kostchtchie, Dagon, Pale Night, Obox-ob, Zuggtmoy, Sess’Innek, and numerous others.

Chaotic evil deities also inhabit the Abyss, including Vaprak, the god of ogres and trolls; Arachnadia, the demon queen of spiders and drow; and Great Mother, the goddess of beholders. These deities could also be considered demon lords however. The term “Demon Lord” is really more of a title than a category of beings, and deities such as those mentioned meet the criteria for bearing such a title of ruling over one of the Abyss’ layers. Many of the formerly mentioned demon lords themselves have god-like traits; they sway the worship of entire races, have cult-followings, and sometimes even have portfolios attributed to them. Therefore they might be gods. The exact distinction between “demon lord”and “deity” is rather unclear.


The Abyss is said to consist of an infinite number of layers, though the total number is also quoted as 666 (with an in-game explanation of the number having general numerological import). Layers are numbered based upon order of discovery by various personalities in the background details of the game, sometimes considered documented by the Fraternity of Order faction of the Planescape setting. 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 D&D 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 so far 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:

o The river Styx flowing through it (as it does through the top layers of other evil planes).

o 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.

o 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.
  • 14 – The Steaming Fen, realm of the Queen of Chaos.
  • 17 – Pleroma, 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.
  • 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 Arachnadia, queen of spiders and principal deity of evil drow, where her realm and spider-ship is located.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 99 – Unnamed contested layer consisting of several distinctive realms 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 bugbears 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 Loki.
  • 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 also named”Yeenoghu’s Realm”.
  • 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.
  • 524 – Shatterstone, realm of the ogre god Vaprak.
  • 528 – Juiblex’s layer 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 the caverns boarder 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.

Demonic Ravages

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