It is a plane of exile.
It is the prison plane of the multiverse.
It is where the overthrown plot their return.
Carceri seems the least overtly dangerous of the lower planes, but that first
impression quickly disappears. Acid seas and sulfurous atmospheres may be rare
on this plane, and there are no areas of biting cold or infernos of raging heat.
The danger of Carceri is a subtler thing. The plane is a place of darkness and
despair, of passions and poisons, and of kingdom-shattering betrayals. On Carceri,
hatreds run like a deep, slowmoving river. And there’s no telling what the flood of treachery is going to consume
next. It is said that a prisoner on Carceri may only escape when she has become stronger than
whatever imprisoned her there. That’s a difficult task on a plane whose very
nature breeds despair, betrayal, and self-hatred. Unlike most inhabitants of Carceri, the deity Nerull
makes his home on Carceri willfully, not because of exile. Carceri consists of six layers. Each layer has a series of orbs like tiny planets,
in a row. A gulf of air separates each orb from the next. On a particular layer,
little distinguishes one orb from the next, and it’s possible that the number
of orblike planets on each layer is infinite.
Carceri has the following traits.
* Normal Gravity: On the orbs, gravity is exactly like the Material Plane. Between
orbs, there is no gravity, which eases travel for those who can fly beyond the
clutches of each orb’s gravity.
* Normal Time.
* Infinite Size: Carceri may extend infinitely, but it possesses finite components
in the form of its tiny planets.
* Divinely Morphic: Nerull and any other entity of lesser deity power or greater
can alter Carceri. More ordinary creatures find Carceri indistinguishable from
the Material Plane; it responds to spells and physical effort normally.
* No Elemental or Energy Traits.
* Mildly Evil-Aligned: Good characters on Carceri suffer a –2 penalty on all
* Normal Magic.
Portals on many planes allow travel onto Carceri. But almost
none allow access in the other direction. One exception is the River Styx, which
runs through the first layer of Carceri, mixing with the bogs and canals that
crisscross the orbs of this layer, on its way to the Gray Waste of Hades.
Almost no creatures live on Carceri voluntarily.
The exiled, the shunned, and the defeated are sent here, as are traitors, backstabbers,
and the souls of those with underhanded ambition. It’s the prison plane, pure
and simple. Carceri’s residents are thus a mixed bag, racially and culturally.
Most continually plot and scheme to leave Carceri and find their way back to their homes and former positions. Besides prisoners and petitioners,
Carceri hosts fiends that partake in the endless Blood War. Demons, devils,
and yugolorhs all roam Carceri, as do madly galloping nighnnares and other evil
Even if they wanted to, Carceri’s petitioners couldn’t leave,
so they hold a powerful resentment for visitors merely passing through. Most
petitioners on Carceri are souls who abused trust and betrayed friends or family.
Like all petitioners, they have no memory of their past lives, but they remain
treacherous. They lie—constantly, compulsively, and with great cunning. Petitioners
on Carceri reside on one of five layers according to their particular treachery.
Orthrys holds politicians and national traitors, and Cathrys holds those who gave in to animal lusts when logic and reason would have served better.
Minethys imprisons hoarders who could have helped others with their wealth but
didn’t, and Colothys confines liars whose untruths harmed others. Finally, Porphatys
is home to the shallow and selfabsorbed who refused to aid others when the opportunity
Carceri’s petitioners have the following special petitioner qualities:
Additional Immunities: Cold, acid.
Resistances: Electricity 20, fire 20.
Other Special Qualities: Petitioners on Carceri lie often and well, receiving
a +10 competence bonus on Bluff checks.
MOVEMENT AND COMBAT
For characters on an orb of Carceri, movement functions normally.
Once a character gets more than 100 feet off the surface of an orb, gravity
disappears. But unlike other planes with the no gravity trait, force of will
doesn’t provide a means of locomotion. Characters need a fly spell or another
means of movement to reach a different orb. Carceri’s natives sometimes use
ferrous sleds that slide through the air as if it were solid, skin balloons
filled with hot air, and spinnerets whose 1oo-foot silk lengths catch the wind
and pull a traveler off a high mountain to a random destination. Certain channels
of the Styx and well-hidden proper portals allow movement between Carceri’s
layers. Combat on Carceri functions like it does on the Material Plane.
FEATURES OF CARCERI
Carceri is called the sixfold realm because it has six layers
nested within each other like little wooden dolls. On each layer, a strand of
small planets stretches in two directions toward infinity. Many of Carceri’s
layers are battle-scarred and wasted, the legacy of the Blood War. While much
of Carceri remains oblivious to the war raging across the lower planes, portions
of Carceri are used as staging grounds and even battlefields.
Vision is normal on Carceri. Unlike on the Material Plane, natural light seems
to seep upward from each orb, bathing everything in a reddish light. Hearing
is normal on Carceri.
Orthrys, the first layer of Carceri, is a realm of vast bogs and quicksand.
The River Styx runs freely through the layer, saturating the ground with its
magic. Channels carved into the soft ground through eons of erosion are wide
and deep. Where there is no river, there are swamps. Though patches of dry ground
exist, they are rare and usually climb swiftly to rugged mountains where enraged
titans dwell. Mosquitoes swarm the air above the bogs, annoying travelers. Even
more annoying are the smooth-talking petitioners that populate this dreary realm.
Bastion of Last Hope: A fortress made of black
igneous rock squats in a mountain range of Orthrys. The ambient, reddish light
of the plane lends the Bastion of Last Hope a brooding air of menace. Only one
entrance offers itself, and those entering can’t help but notice that the entrance
strongly resembles the maw of some massive demonic toad. No one person rules
the Bastion. Instead, it serves as a sort of outpost for anarchists. Here a
traveler can obtain all manner of forged documents, surgical alterations to
aid a permanent disguise, and various other nefarious goods and services. It
is a good place to find assassins, spies, and others of ill repute. But cunning
travelers remember that they’re on a plane full of traitors, so they trust no
one within the Bastion’s walls.
Mount Orthrys: The highest peaks of the mountain
ranges on two of this layer’s orbs reach ridiculously high, just bridging the
planetary gulf between them. At their intersection is a titanic palace of white
marble columns, amphitheaters, and galleries. Here lives a race of titans, banished
from the Material Plane long ago. The titan lord of Mount Orthrys, Cronus, resides
at the center of his palace in a throne room a mile wide. Visitors may seek
audiences with Cronus to hear his wisdom, but those who seek such counsel must
be always aware that the titan’s eons-long anger at his confinement may lash
out unexpectedly at those who can come and go at their leisure. Cronus has the
power of a lesser deity for the purposes of altering Mount Orthrys.
The orbs in the second layer of Carceri are covered with fetid jungles and
scarlet plains. The stench of decay fills the air, a rot fueled by acidic secretions
of jungle plants. Those without immunity to acid are soon rendered down to their
component materials if they stay too long amid the swaying trees. The jungle
air deals 1d4 points of acid damage per minute, and some plants secrete more
potent acids. The plains of Cathrys are more habitable. Vast, windswept grasslands
cover the planes. Some patches possess razor-sharp leaves, which can cut a traveler
not mindful of them. Those who hustle (double move) or run on the plains must
make a Reflex save (DC 20) each round or cut themselves for 1d4 points of damage.
Apothecary of Sin: Located deep in the fetid
jungles of an orb of Cathrys is the Apothecary of Sin. The Apothecary is built
from cunningly woven scrap wood atop the trunk of large tree, raising the one-story
structure high above the waving branches of the acid-laden leaves below. Rope-suspended
catwalks provide access above the treetops, though random sections are missing,
possibly victims of caustic storms. Mundane and exotic poisons and acids are
bought and sold in the Apothecary. A demon called Sinmaker runs the Apothecary.
Sinmaker is a glabrezu of average abilities, except for his special affinity
for acids, poisons, and venoms. He delights in all things poisonous—the more
diabolical, the better.
All the poisons found on Table 3–16: Poisons in the DUNGEON MASTER’s Guide are
available in the Apothecary, as well as many special, unique concoctions bought
by Sinmaker from travelers or synthesized in Sinmaker’s ownlaboratory. Acid
is also sold here, by the one-dose vial or by the thousand-dose keg. Neither
the size of the purchase nor the nature of the buyer matters to Sinmaker.
SIN MAKER’S SURPRISE
The demon proprietor synthesizes a special acidic poison from
the acid plants native to the plane called Sinmaker’s Surprise. This concoction
has two components: poison and acid.
Sinmaker’s Surprise is specially formulated such that its caustic qualities
remain quiescent until it comes into contact with living tissue. Therefore,
it does not harm weapons or objects to which it is applied. Victims make saving
throws against the poisonous component normally, but automatically take damage
from the acid component. Sinmaker’s Surprise has the following characteristics:
Fortitude Save: DC 24 (injury) or DC 18 (ingested).
Initial Damage: 2d6 points of temporary Constitution damage (from poison).
Acid Damage: 1d6 points of damage per round for 3 rounds.
Secondary Damage: 2d6 points of temporary Constitution damage.
Price: 4,400 gp.
The third layer of Carceri is filled with sand. Stinging grit is driven so
hard by the wind that it can strip an exposed being to the bone in a matter
of hours, should one of the place’s terrible windstorms spring up. Sandstorms
(which function like duststorms as described in Chapter 3 of the DUNGEON MASTER’s
Guide) are 10% likely in any given area per 24 hours. All who dwell in this
layer, mortal and fiend alike, cover themselves in cloth garments to block out
the stinging sand. Tornadoes are common on Minethys. To avoid these hazards,
petitioners live in miserable sand-filled pits, dug by hand. Their crude pits
must be constantly dug out to provide even the slightest shelter.
Sand Tombs of Payratheon: Payratheon is the
name of a vanished city built on an orb of Minethys eons ago. That city is long
buried, but its sand-drowned avenues, crumbled towers, and silted porticos still
remain far below the shifting surface of the layer. Sometimes the shifting sands
reveal Payratheon for an hour or a longer, but it is always engulfed again by
the sands, smothering most creatures who were tempted by its appearance and
entered the sand-blasted city. Particularly resourceful adventurers have burrowed
down to find outlying suburbs of the city during its phases of submersion. Tales
of terror walk hand in hand with these accounts, which tell of dragonlike “sand
gorgons” that swim through the sand as if water. Also mentioned are the remnants
of former inhabitants that force their way through the streets as petrified
undead, so weathered and eroded that little can be discerned of their race or
The fourth layer of Carceri is a realm of mountains so tall, rough, and cruel
as to stagger the imagination of a traveler from the Material Plane. Travel
on foot here is almost impossible, because the land is divided by canyons miles
deep where it is not lifted to absurd heights by mighty tectonics. A few trading
routes do exist, usually in the form of rickety bridges and cliff-face trails
barely wide enough for one. It’s impossible to move normally away from the areas
along the trading routes. Characters must make Climb checks (DC 15) to move
one-half their speed as a miscellaneous full-round action.
Garden of Malice: The hanging gardens of Colothys
are found on a single orb of the layer that travelers would do well to avoid.
To the inexperienced eye, many of the cliff faces and sheer slopes of this orb
are home to thick vines and tubers that sprout a riot of beautiful flowers.
Characters who attempt to collect samples for their botanical collections quickly
learn that the vines are animate and determined to wring the life from any creature
that would dare to use them as climbing aids, defoliate the flowers, or even
move too close. It may be that the animate vines represent one large organism
that has grown through the eons to cover one whole orb. Once every six hundred
days, the vines release tiny seeds into the air that look like dandelion fluff.
The winds of the layer often send the seeds blowing across several hundred other
orbs of the mountainous realm. Though many are eaten by vermin, many other seeds
have also found nourishing soil, and have sprouted tubers in small nooks and
forgotten cliff-faces on other orbs.
The fifth layer of Carceri is a realm where each orb is coated in a cold, shallow
ocean fed by constant black snow. The snow and water are mildly acidic, automatically
dealing 1d6 points of acid damage per 10 minutes of direct exposure. Artificial
structures do not last long in Porphatys. Small islands barely taller than sandbars
rise above the waves. Most petitioners crow from atop the small sandbar islands,
promising anything to those who can take them away. Despite their entreaties,
they reward any charity with betrayal at the first opportunity. Another exiled
titan lives here, but even his palace is half sunken and slowly crumbling before
the acidic waves.
Ship of One Hundred: A ship rides the cold swells
of Porphatys’s seas, called the Ship of One Hundred, though in some accounts
it is referred to as the White Caravel. It appears as a ghost-white caravel
unmanned by any visible crew. It wends between the islets of many orbs (somehow
disappearing on one orb and appearing on another), picking up stranded souls
and other travelers who are brave (or foolish) enough to brave passage. Passengers
soon discover that apparently no one moves on board the craft. The lower deck
and hold are stuffed with exactly one hundred unadorned stone sarcophagi. No
one has ever successfully opened a sarcophagus and lived to tell the tale. Any
time this has been tried, some unrecorded calamity devours all creatures currently
on board, and the next time the ship puts in at a new port it is utterly empty
of life. Stories have it that the ship seeks to deliver its terrible cargo,
but it waits for the end times to do so. Between the “cleansings” that occur
when the curious try to open a sarcophagus, travelers (mostly petitioners, demons,
or other creatures) infest the ship. Some make it their temporary home, happy
to move from place to place by whatever mysterious force steers the ship. These
denizens take a very dim view of visitors who want to open a sarcophagus.
The coldest layer of Carceri is also the lowest—or innermost, given the nested
nature of this plane. Unlike the other layers, Agathys has only a single orb:
a sphere of black ice streaked with red. The air is bitterly cold and deals
1d2 points of cold damage each round. This layer has the minor negativedominant
negativedominant trait. Petitioners here are half imbedded in the ice, their
lies frozen on their lips.
Necromanteion: A black citadel carved out of
ice is the focus of the greater deity Nerull’s realm. Nerull is a deity of death
and is called the Reaper, the Foe of All Good, the Bringer of Darkness, and
similar names. Petitioners are frozen flush into the floors, walls, and ceilings
of the Necromanteion, just as they are in the surrounding ice. The deserted
entrance to the Necromanteion leads quickly to a wide hall called the Hidden
Temple, which crawls with undead of all types. The pallid, green glow of gibbering
ghoul-light lanterns illuminates the area. Hundreds of onyx altars are evenly
spaced around the hall, and demonic clerics constantly chant stanzas of a ghastly
necromantic ritual. Besides chanting, the demonic priests spend endless hours
attending grotesque experiments on necrotic flesh piled on other altars. Nerull’s
throne stands at the center of the Hidden Temple. Woe betide the character who
disturbs Nerull, a rust-red skeleton wearing a dull black cloak. Always clutched
in Nerull’s skeletal hands is his sablewood staff. Lifecutter, which projects
a scythelike blade of scarlet force that has the power to slay any creature.
The Hidden Temple has several satellite chambers. Some hold food and quarters
for the demonic clerics, others have cells for living captives destined to be
strapped onto an onyx altar (or become food for a hungry cleric), and in some
are special vaults where the relics of Nerull’s faith are sealed away. Finally,
small tunnels lead deeper into the ice of the layer, supposedly connecting to
vaults of horror so ghastly that even the demonic priests shy from exploring
their depths. Otherworldly wailing and whispers rise up from the depths.