BLEAK ETERNITY OF GEHENNA
It is a plane without charity, mercy, or pity.
It is the Oven of Perdition, the Fourfold Furnaces.
It is where yugoloths cavort on endless volcanic slopes.
Gehenna’s top layer borders Hades and the Nine Hells,
so it is not a pleasant place. Floating in an impenetrable, infinite void are volcanic mountains seemingly without
base or peak. They are only finite in the strictest sense of
the word, measuring hundreds of thousands of miles in
each direction. A single volcanic mountain dominates
each of the four layers of Gehenna, though lesser volcanic
earthbergs drift and sometimes smash into the greater
There is no naturally occurring level place in any of the
layers; all the slopes are at least 45 degrees, and many are
akin to sheer cliffs. Gehenna’s fiendish inhabitants have
carved artificial ledges, some large enough for entire cities,
and switchback paths to connect them. But those edifices
not carved by native yugoloths or deities have a tendency
to break apart, sending their builders on a long, sliding fall
down the mountain.
Gehenna’s four layers are Khalas, Chamada, Mungoth,
and Krangath. Each layer is differentiated from the other
by its degree of volcanic activity.
Powerful entities that possess realms on Gehenna
include many lords of the yugoloths, as well as Melif the
Lich-Lord and Memnor, deity of evil cloud giants. The
realm of Maanzicorian, an illithid deity, was once located
here. But Maanzicorian was slain by Tenebrous, the name
taken by the demon lord Orcus when he first returned
from supposed annihilation. Accordingly, Maanzicorian’s
realm has started to crumble, its deity gone.
Gehenna has the following traits.
- Normal Gravity: Gravity is similar to the Material Plane, but naturally occurring
volcanic mountains seem to float free in an infinitely larger void. Gravity
is normal on the steep slopes of a mountain, and a fall tumbles victims many
miles until a chance ledge catches them, or continued rolling abrasions of the
fall completely shred the victim.
- Normal Time.
- Infinite Size: The impenetrable void of Gehenna is infinite, but each volcanic
mountain is finite. Each is far larger than the largest known land mass on the
Material Plane, however.
- Divinely Morphic: Memnor and other deities can alter Gehenna’s mountainous
landscape. Ordinary creatures find Gehenna is as alterable as the Material Plane.
- No Elemental or Energy Traits.
- Mildly Evil-Aligned: Good characters on Gehenna suffer a –2 penalty on all
- Normal Magic.
Like all the lower planes, Gehenna has the River Styx
flowing through at least its first layer, Khalas. In fact, it is
the biggest river on the layer, and it hurtles through
gorges and canyons with breathtaking speed. Its cataracts
are legendary, and the occasional ledge creates waterfalls
of epic, if polluted, proportion. Attempting to change
planes via the Styx is a very dangerous thing indeed, on
Portals to other planes are fairly common, as are portals
between layers of Gehenna. They usually appear as bottomless
black chasms. Sometimes they are marked as
portals, but sometimes yugoloths mark actual bottomless
chasms as portals by mistake or with malice.
The yugoloths, masters of schemes, are most at home on
Gehenna, though sages note that yugoloths actually originate
in Hades. But the yugoloths have been on Gehenna
longer than most of the deities who now have their realms
Petitioners of Gehenna are the refuse of the planes.
Greedy and grasping, they care only for themselves.
Expect no favors from such a petitioner unless proof of
immediate recompense is at hand. Unlike on many of the
other Outer Planes, petitioners on Gehenna are more
willful, traveling from layer to layer on their own personal
quests for power. They’re looking for the ultimate exercise
in free will, though they are destined to never find it.
Gehenna’s petitioners have the following special
Additional Immunities: Poison, acid.
Resistances: Fire 20, cold 20.
Other Special Qualities: Surefooted.
Surefooted (Ex): All petitioners have a +10 competence
bonus on Climb checks.
MOVEMENT AND COMBAT
Movement on Gehenna is much like movement on the
Material Plane, though the mountainous, sloping nature of
Gehenna imposes constant dangers.
Falling on Gehenna
Because every natural surface on Gehenna slopes at least
45 degrees (except for occasional ledges and artificial
constructions), moving from place to place is dangerous.
The description of the Climb skill in Chapter 4 of the
Player’s Handbook describes how characters move about on
Gehenna’s slopes. The DC for Climb checks on Gehenna
varies from 0 for ordinary slopes to 15 for steep areas and
25 for sheer cliffs.
Creatures can move at one-quarter speed as a moveequivalent
action on the sloping surfaces, or at one-half
speed as a full-round action. Attempting to move faster
incurs a –5 penalty on the climb check, as described in the
Those who fail their Climb checks make no progress. If
they fail their Climb checks by 5 or more, they fall. If a fall
occurs, the victim rolls, bounces, and rebounds off the
endless steep slope of Gehenna. Falling characters get a
chance to catch themselves by making a Climb check (DC
10 on a slope, 35 in a steep area, and 45 on a cliff).
If the fall occurs in a random location, the victim comes
to a stop on a natural ledge some 10d10+100 feel farther
below and takes 10d6 points of damage from the
bouncing, bone-jarring descent. In some locations on
Gehenna, a victim’s fall could end sooner—in a river of
Combat on Gehenna is much like it is between two
climbing foes on the Material Plane. Anyone on the
surface of Gehenna’s mountains loses his Dexterity bonus
to AC and cannot use a shield. Attackers get a +2 bonus to
attack climbers, even if they’re climbing themselves.
A climber who takes damage must immediately make a
new Climb check against the DC of the slope. If the
climber fails, he immediately falls, taking damage as
described in Falling on Gehenna, above.
FEATURES OF GEHENNA
Each layer of Gehenna (called a mount) is slightly
different, but each burns with an evil will. The lava flows
seem to seek out the casual traveler, and fissures open
under a visitor’s feet as if the ground itself hungers. As on
Carceri, the sloping earth itself provides light, so shadows
The air of Gehenna’s
first and lowest layer has
a crimson tint near the
ground, due to the
magma flows and pyroclastic
ash, but it
quickly fades to black
no more than a few
dozen feet overhead.
Strangely, the next
mount, Chamada, is
visible in the darkness
overhead, though it is
so far away that it
burns like a small,
The slopes of Khalas
are streaked with
waterfalls and cloaked
in steam. The falls
never find the bottom of the layer, either evaporating or
disappearing into fissures. The mightiest waterfalls are
those made by the River Styx as it makes its tumultuous
passage across this forbidding layer.
Teardrop Palace: Located along the Styx, a nautilusshaped
pagoda crouches with two smaller shrines set beside it. A wrought-iron fence
encircles Teardrop Palace, which occupies an obviously deity-carved ledge. The
pagoda measures miles on each side, as do the lesser shrines. A crowded bazaar
thrives between the two smaller shrines, filled with milling yugoloths, petitioners,
devils. demons, other outsiders, and the occasional mortal visitor. The bazaar
buys and sells everything the ultimate black market because almost everything
has been stolen from some other part of the Great Wheel. Prices are high and
pickpockets are a constant threat, but the market has a reputation for selling
exotic, hard-to-find items.
The second mount of
Gehenna is the most
savage. The slopes
burn with constantly
flowing magma so
thick that solid, cool
ground is rare, and so
bright that the glare
blots out the sky
itself. Cascading lava
harden and briefly
dam the fiery flow, only
to explosively burst forth
in new directions. Vents
unexpectedly open, spewing
fresh ejecta, and miniature
volcanoes are common. The air
itself is usually filled with feather-soft
gray ash, which falls everywhere like dread
snow, often dropping visibility to zero.
The Crawling City: A great metropolis of obsidian
and ash, the Crawling City moves across Gehenna, moving from layer to layer
at the will of the its master, the general of Gehenna. The Crawling City moves
by virtue of thousands of fiendish, fire-immune legs grafted under the massive
lower deck of the city, allowing the metropolis to cling to the steepest cliff
face on Gehenna and slowly ford the broadest river of lava. The general is an
ultroloth whose power is said to approach that of a demideity. In theory, all
yugoloths answer to the general, although the yugoloths’ proclivity for plots
and webs of deception means that many have divided loyalties.
The city has low barracks for devilish, demonic, and other
assorted elite mercenaries, and siege towers housing potent war
magic. There’s also a war academy where brilliant fiendish
strategists teach their lore to up-and-coming officers bound for
the Blood War, and massive factories where smithies constantly
turn out the latest in fiendish military hardware.
The Crawling City itself, in all the millennia of its existence,
has never directly entered the Blood War. Ancient prophecies
tell that should it ever do so, the Blood War will finally reach a
decisive conclusion in an apocalyptic final battle.
Nimicri: From the slopes of Chamada, Nimicri
appears as a small moon about 2,000 feet in diameter. It floats in splendid
isolation above the burning mount, covered with spires, steeples, and less dramatic
structures connected by a weblike network of streets. Everything is clean, the
buildings are comfortable and in excellent repair, and every citizen of Nimicri
is quite polite. Excellent goods of all sons can be had at the trading post,
and Nimicri is an established stop along several trading routes that crisscross
the Outer Planes. What most visitors never realize is that Nimicri— buildings,
people, and all—is one vast creature that mimics a town. Sometimes Nimicri absorbs
a visitor into itself completely, but other times it allows visitors to leave
completely unharmed. If even a single drop of a visitor’s blood spills onto
any surface in the city, Nimicri is able to duplicate that visitor exactly,
including memories up to the point when the blood was spilled. If a “citizen”
of Nimicri is ever forcibly removed from the town, it immediately dies like
a limb severed from a body.
Tower Arcane: This tower rises high above the
lava flows and ash clouds of Chamada, decorated with blades and spikes that
promise pain and death to unwelcome visitors. Yugoloth wizards control the tower,
which functions as the record vault for the yugoloth race. The history of the
yugoloths can be found here, though the information is well protected and heavily
encrypted with glyphs of warding, symbols, and other protective spells. The
interior halls of the Tower Arcane support the bodies of flayed petitioners
dangling from chains. The wizards use the blood of these petitioners (and the
occasional unwelcome visitor) to pen their history. Torture paraphernalia line
any walls not given over to bookshelves and sealed archives. Deep below the
tower lies a vast library of particularly ghastly contracts with mortals, extending
for miles. The most potent protective spells in the wizards’ arsenal protect
the sanctity of the library from encroachment by molten rock or extraplanar
thieves. Each contract is inscribed on the living skin of a petitioner, burned
in with magic and branding irons. Petitioners are strung on chains like popcorn
on a string for miles in parallel lines of agony. The only thing on the mind
of any given petitioner is its own particular contract and its personal pain.
The third mount is far less volcanically active than either Chamada or Khalas.
In fact, it is quite cold and often covered by snowfalls. The light of scattered
volcanic vents is akin to the light cast by a full moon, making navigation across
Mungoth’s icy slopes difficult. Even that light is sometimes snuffed out by
a heavy snow and ash fall. The combined snow and acidic ash are dangerous to
travelers without shelter. The ice that accumulates on Mungoth’s slopes gives
a –4 circumstance penalty on Climb checks.
Valley of the Outcast: A deep chasm contains
a wellhidden realm sheltered from the ever-present acidic snow. Built of equal
pans basaltic rock and giant bones is a rough castle. The castle is scaled to
the proportions of its master, an outcast fire giant wizard named Tastuo. Her
eight siblings, fellow outcasts, also reside in the castle. Like their sister,
all are either wizards or sorcerers. Yugoloths of the layer have several interlocking
contracts with Tastuo, which helps ensure the valley’s safety should her enemies
ever find her. Tastuo never names those enemies, but her predicament makes her
sympathetic to the plight of travelers seeking asylum. Thus, the Valley of the
Outcast doubles as a way station for visitors in need, but only if they can
The snow-ash mixture on Mungoth deals 1d4 points of acid
damage per minute of exposure. Only artificial structures or
caverns offer any lasting protection against the snowfall, which
blows through any given area 80% of the time.
The fourth mount of Gehenna, the Dead Furnace, is
devoid of volcanic activity; it went inactive millennia ago.
The great mountain of the layer is a darkened pillar
rumbling in the night. The layer is shrouded in silence.
No wind stirs and no light glimmers. Krangath is dead.
Petitioners are rare, and those that move about on this
layer have learned to keep quiet, lest Melif hear them.
Hopelorn: An artificially maintained ledge holds
a precisely fashioned complex of obsidian. Dim, reddish lights are visible in
tiny, slitlike windows throughout the complex. This is Hopelorn, the stronghold
of Melif the Lich-Lord. Hopelorn is a mortuary city where sarcophagi glow like
streetlights and necromantic energies dance wisplike over every boulevard. Here
undead are welcome, but not so the living or petitioners, whom Melif regards
as pathetic losers unable to properly manage the passage of their mortal lives.
In Hopelorn, Melif and a cabal of liches and other powerful undead spellcasters
conduct their undying research into the nature of life, death, and being. Sometimes
Melif and his assembly capture fiends for outrageous experiments, though they
are careful never to capture yugoloths, lest the wrath of that race fall squarely
on Hopelorn. Besides, it is rumored that Melif was once a yugoloth himself,
before he steeped himself in the eldritch arts and eventually lichdom.