The Infinite Layers of The Abyss
- Alignment: Chaotic Evil
The Abyss embodies all that is perverse, gruesome, and chaotic. Its virtually endless layers spiral downward into ever more appalling forms.
Each layer of the Abyss boasts its own horrific environment. Although no two layers are alike, they are all harsh and inhospitable. Each layer also reflects the entropic nature of the Abyss. In fact, much of what one sees or touches on the plane seems to be in a decaying, crumbling, or corroded state.
The layers of the Abyss are defined by the demon lords who rule them. What follows is a list of only a few.
The Gaping Maw
Demogorgon’s layer in the Abyss is a vast wilderness of savagery and madness known as the Gaping Maw, where even powerful demons go insane with fear. Reflecting Demogorgon’s dual nature, the Gaping Maw consists of a massive primeval continent covered in dense jungle, surrounded by a seemingly endless expanse of ocean and brine fiats.
The Prince of Demons rules his layer from two serpentine towers, which emerge from a turbid sea. Each tower is topped with an enormous fanged skull. The spires constitute the fortress of Abysm, where few creatures can venture without descending into madness.
If Orcus had his way, all planes would resemble his dead realm of Thanatos, and all creatures would become undead under his control. Under its black sky, Thanatos is a land of bleak mountains, barren moors, ruined cities, and forests of twisted black trees. Tombs, mausoleums, gravestones, and sarcophagi litter the landscape. Undead swarm across the plane, bursting from their tombs and graves to tear apart any creatures foolish enough to journey here.
Orcus rules Thanatos from a vast palace known as Everlost, crafted of obsidian and bone. Set within a howling wasteland called Oblivion’s End, the palace is surrounded by tombs and burial sites dug into the sheer slopes of narrow valleys, creating a tiered necropolis.
Lolth’s layer is an immense network of thick, magical webbing that forms passageways and cocoon-like chambers. Throughout the web, buildings, structures, ships, and other objects hang as if caught in a spider’s snare. The nature of Lolth’s web creates random portals throughout the plane, drawing such objects in from demiplanes and the Material Plane that figure into the schemes of the Spider Queen.
Lolth’s servants also build dungeons amid the webbing, trapping and hunting Lolth’s hated enemies within crisscrossing corridors of web-mortared stone.
Far beneath these dungeons lie the bottomless Demonweb Pits where the Spider Queen dwells. There, Lolth is surrounded by her handmaidens – yochlol demons created to serve her and which outrank mightier demons while in the Spider Queen’s realm.
The Endless Maze
Baphomet’s layer of the Abyss is a never-ending dungeon, the center of which holds the Horned King’s enormous ziggurat palace.
A confusing jumble of crooked hallways and myriad chambers, the palace is surrounded by a mile-wide moat concealing a maddening series of submerged stairs and tunnels leading deeper into the fortress.
The Triple Realm
The Dark Prince Graz’zt rules over the realm of Azzagrat, which encompasses three layers of the Abyss.
His seat of power is the fantastic Argent Palace in the city of Zelatar, whose bustling markets and pleasure palaces draw visitors from across the universe in search of obscure magical lore and perverse delights.
By Graz’zt’s command, the demons of Azzagrat present a veneer of civility and courtly comity. However, the so-called Triple Realm holds as much danger as any other part of the Abyss, and planar visitors can vanish without a trace in its mazelike cities and in forests whose trees have serpents for branches.
Yeenoghu rules a layer of ravines known as Death Dells. Here, creatures must hunt to survive. Even the plants, which must bathe their roots in blood, snare the unwary.
Yeenoghu’s servants, helping to sate their master’s hunger as he prowls his kingdom seeking prey, capture creatures from the Material Plane for release in the Gnoll Lord’s realm.