HARP Bestiary Preview Excerpt: Three Example Subplanes of the Abyss

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell and Guild Companion Publications Ltd © 2016

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"The Arena of Blood is a violent and bloody training ground for the Demons, where the warriors learn their martial skills, the generals test stratagems, and fell devices and artificial beings imported from the subplane of the Forge of Devilry and elsewhere can be trialed."

HARP Bestiary Preview Excerpt: Three Example Subplanes of the Abyss

The Arena of Blood

A blood-red sun in a sky tinged with crimson hangs above a landscape of rolling plains, occasional hills and rare mountains, interspersed with rivers flowing towards the sea. The vegetation, the soil and the rocks, even the waters of river and sea reveal in their pink and reddish hues that this is no part of the mundane world.

Scattered across this realm are fortresses raised by the sweat of demonic servitors and dark magic. Here the demon lords marshal their forces and engage in unceasing war against their rivals. Skirmishes are fought by squads of demonic warriors and scouts, full-scale battles are won and lost upon the battle plains, and strongholds are besieged. War-galleys rowed by the damned contend for control of the rivers, while ships of war clash in naval battles at sea.

The Arena of Blood is a violent and bloody training ground for the Demons, where the warriors learn their martial skills, the generals test stratagems, and fell devices and artificial beings imported from the subplane of the Forge of Devilry and elsewhere can be trialed. Though there is pain and agony, blood and ichor spilled, bones broken and bodies crushed, few Demons die permanently in these conflicts. Unless a Demon is foolish enough to enrage one of the diabolical overlords, fallen Demons are normally permitted to rebuild their bodies from miasmic energy so that they can fight another day and be ready at the end of time for the final war against the gods.

The Black Waters

A harsh blue sun blazes above an unending saltwater ocean stirred above by unceasing winds and below by strong currents. From time to time, vast banks of cloud cover the sky and great storms lash the ocean, creating giant waves hundreds of feet high and miles along. During these storms, lightning crackles and torrential downpours of an acidic black rain deluge from the sky. Everywhere water, none of it fit to drink, even for mundane saltwater creatures.

Look more closely at the ocean and floating islands of black toxic algae can be observed, drifting with the waves. The dark blues of the upper waters of this subplane quickly give way to a submarine twilight and then into the inky midnight of the lower waters.

The denizens of the Black Waters rarely deign to visit the surface of their world. Their preferred domain is the deeper waters. Here the lesser Demons sport with sharks, giant squid and other sea monsters imported from other planes and adapted by magic to survive and flourish in this watery hell. Greater Demons rule the depths from bizarre underwater citadels and palaces fashioned from warped coral, holding court and, it is said, receiving ambassadors and tribute from aquatic races in return for magical aid.

The Mists of Nightmare

Enter this subplane at any point and the traveler will be immersed in an extremely dense fog. The fog is everywhere and seems unending. It is easy to become lost in the Mists of Nightmare and unable to find one’s way back to the entry point.

The Mists are not empty. Lurking in the Mists are Mist Demons. Wraith-like, they glide through the mists seeking incomers to the subplane. The Mist Demons draw upon the dreams, the fears and especially the nightmares of any travelers they find, and then use the miasmic mana to conjure these horrors into reality. These mana shapings may be illusions, semisolid phantasms, or fully realized creatures and items of mana, according to the whim and power of the Demon(s). The denizens of the Mists have no interest in building fortresses or palaces; their rulers mingle among their inferiors, frustrating those who would seek them out.

Whenever the Mists interfaces with another plane of existence through a gateway, the Mists will seep into the other world. If there is a mist or a fog on the other side, the Mists of Nightmare will infect it and frequently one or more Mist Demons will follow to seek new prey.