Thursday, May 24, 2012

Phlegethon, The 7th Circle

And now we're into the 7th circle of Hell, Phlegethon. Here's a preview ...

After the crowded, dangerous cityscape of Dis, it’s nice to settle back into the bleak, dangerous wilderness that dominates most of Hell.

Phlegethon is the seventh circle of Hell, wherein the violent are imprisoned for eternity. It is divided into four different landscapes – bleak highlands, the boiling river of Phlegethon, a tangled woodland of despair and a salty desert caressed by rains of fiery flakes.

The only way to enter Phlegethon is by hitching a ride on Geryon, the reigning prince of Phlegethon. The circle is ringed by 10 mile high walls of granite and quartz, at the tops of which is the vast, sprawling city of Dis.

Myriad caves open in these walls, sending the dank waters of the Styx in waterfalls to fall in the highlands, blanketing them with a red mist. The grandest cave, replete with sparkling quartzes serves as the palace of Geryon.

The reddish liquid of the Styx forms streams and rivulets that flow into the boiling Phlegethon, where shades who dedicated themselves to violence in life are anchored to a depth commensurate to the level of their sins. The craggy, damp hills are home to many oozes and fungi, not to mention the minotaurs of Baphomet, medusas of Stheno and Euryale and savage centaurs of Chiron.

The highlands end at the banks of the Phlegethon, where the centaurs patrol in armies, keeping the shades interred in their boiling punishment. Vandals (shades that escaped the Phlegethon) roam the highlands, keeping its cities and fortresses in a constant state of ruin. The highlands ever ring with the clash of sword and shield, so bring plenty of hit points if you’re planning to spend much time there.

Beyond the boiling river is a gnarled woodland of twisted, black trees with human faces. These are the shades of people who committed violence to themselves in life, their bodies twisted into the shapes of trees that moan and grasp at hair and clothing. Harpies and hell hounds pursue the Profligates through these woods.

The innermost landscape of Phlegethon is a desert of life draining salt. The salt wastes are wandered by the blasphemers and userers, who carry their heavy purses chained round their necks. The salt wastes end at miles-high cliffs that overlook the mountains and jungle valleys of Malebolge, the eighth and penultimate circle of Hell.

Dangers of Phlegethon

As with all of Hell, Phlegethon is not entirely welcoming to life. It has several specific dangers to watch for.

Dehydration: The salt wastes of Phlegethon aren’t just bone dry, they suck the moisture out of living bodies. Living creatures must double their normal water intake here or suffer 1d4 points of constitution damage per day. After two days, living creatures feel their tongues swell and lips crack, and they are unable to speak properly (i.e. no more spells boys and girls!). After three days, one’s skin is so dry that it begins to flake off. Movement is reduced to half and salt insinuates itself into open cracks in the skin, imposing a -2 penalty to all attacks and saves due to pain.

Depression: The woodlands are not just dismal, they suck at one’s will to live. Each day in the woods, one must pass a saving throw or be struck by despair (as the crushing despair or emotion spell). Those who succumb to despair become beacons for the monsters of the woods, and subsequently wandering monsters are encountered on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6.

Phelegethon: The Phlegethon is a boiling river, with flaming oil above and super-heated water below. Touching the water inflicts damage per round based upon how much of one’s body is exposed: 1d6 for a single limb or head, 3d6 for half of one’s body and 6d6 for one’s entire body.

Races of Phlegethon

Phlegethon, like most of the other circles of Hell, is not only inhabited by pitchfork-carrying devils and their victims. Four races known to people of the surface world dwell in Phlegethon, though these races have been changed in many ways by their habitation in Hell.

Centaurs: The centaurs of Phlegethon’s highlands are large creatures, wild and unruly and with blazing eyes. They are immune to fire.

CENTAUR: HD 8; AC 4 [15]; Atk 2 kicks (1d8) or longbow (1d8); Move 18; Save 8; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Immune to fire.

Harpies: The harpies of the dismal woodlands almost have the appearance of angels – porcelain skin, icy blue eyes, white, feathered wings – but marred with a cruel visages and black talons.

HARPY: HD 6; AC 5 [14]; Atk 2 talons (1d6); Move 6 (Fly 18); Save 11; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Flight, siren-song, magic resistance (30%).

Medusas: Phlegethon’s medusas have skin as hard and green as malachite.

MEDUSA: HD 8; AC 1 [18]; Atk 2 claws (1d6) and snake bites (1d4 + poison); Move 9; Save 8; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Gaze turns to stone, poison, half damage from non-magical weapons.

Minotaurs: The minotaurs of Phlegethon have the heads of Brahma bulls, as white as snow, and the bodies of gorillas. They are especially cunning, and are immune to mind control and illusion.

MINOTAUR: HD 8+4; AC 4 [15]; Atk Head butt (2d6), bite (1d6) and battleaxe (1d10); Move 12; Save 8; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Never get lost in labyrinths, immune to mind control and illusion.

Lords of Phlegethon

Several archdevils and demon lords make their home in Phlegethon. The great lord of all the circle is Geryon, who dwells above the landscape of Phlegethon and rarely imposes himself on those below.

The master of the highlands is Baphomet, demon lord of minotaurs and wayward crusaders, who fights ceaseless battles against his ambitious rivals – Gorson, Caym and the sisters Stheno and Euryale.

Amduscias claims overlordship of the woodlands, but must contend with Marchosias, the chief of hell hounds, Eurynome, demon prince of ghouls and lacedons, and Ipes, the chief of the hezrou.

The desert is firmly under the control of Moloch, who savages all who would challenge his dominion. His vassals are Gremory and Uvall.

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