This is a snapshot copy of Planewalker before our recent database crash. Please go to www.planewalker.com for the current site.

Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Announcement!

We have moved to new, and hopefully better hardware! Along with this move came a bunch of updates to our code base. Please let me know if you spot something wonky.

60 posts / 0 new
Last post
Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

On another thread, I mentioned trying to hammer out some ideas for Gehenna and got shot down for being non-canonical (fair enough). Now I don’t have the Planes of Opposition so maybe I’m missing out on some critical details but for what little I do know about it, Gehenna seems to be in need for a renovation

When I try to write up a plane I try to include the following:
Unique overall theme
Unique terrain
Reason to visit
Philosophical opposite
Conflict within the plane
At least one unique representative species

Right off the bat, Gehenna seems to lack the first two items.
I was told that the “themes” of Gehenna are mercilessness, exploitation, and deceit. Personally, I feel that all the Lower Planes (minus the fringe planes of Acheron and Pandemonium) all cover deceit and lack of mercy and I don’t see how these would make Gehenna unique. “Exploitation” has a few possibilities but we’ll discuss that more later.

Then the terrain is just one of a quartet of volcanic slopes. Is that really all that unique from the feiry terrains found in parts of Baator? (Yes, if the volcanoes are presented as separate floating islands that is a LITTLE different; but not much for my tastes). Personally, I majorly tweaked this plane's visual but that’s outside the scope of the Renovation Project.
Overall my point is that I could easily see Gehenna being part of Baator both in terms of theme and appearance.

So how do we redecorate? Or am I missing something critical that makes the existing status good as it is?

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

In bouncing ideas around for a rewrite, I came up with the following:
Since Gehnna is opposed by the Beastlands, I started by thinking of the unique aspects of that plane. The Beastlands is the plane of nature but (based on its inspiration from a European-skewd idea of Native American afterlife) I also thought of it as the plane of the “noble savage”. Whether such a being ever existed, the concept definitely did. The noble savage threw off the trappings of society (which they felt corrupted people) and had a natural report with the natural and spiritual world.

By contrast, I felt that Gehenna should be populated by people who are evil because they are absorbed in themselves and distanced from nature and spirituality. I felt that they should also be focused on their social unit. This would result in a sort of “wolf pack” mentality where a person loses his individuality to the group and can rationalize evil by shifting the blame to the larger unit. (This is a little like the mentality of Acheron, but hope my comments below will add a little more distinctive flavor to it)
[As a side note, I felt that this “wolf pack” mentality added a little bit of color to the barghest society – although I don’t know how their society is currently defined]

I then expanded this to the themes of brutality for survival. I didn’t see this as the will to dominate another (as I feel that is Baator’s job), but rather a rationalization for any evil as a means for one’s own objectives. This would start at the basic “survival of the fittest” level where one justifies killing another for one’s own survival (which it shares with the Beastlands) and moves up the scale to the Mafia mantra of “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business” attitude of wiping out rivals for trivial objectives like more money.
I liked the Mafia connection as this also tied it to the theme of slight lawfulness (in this case, lawfulness meaning being loyal to the crime syndicate group).

I liked the contrast of “noble savage” versus “mafia underling” (who justifies evil because of his slavish association with a social institution, i.e. his gang or mafia family)
To me, they both Gehenna and the Beastlands start at the same "survival of the fittest" point where an evil is needed to survive, but then split.
The Beastlands understand the brutality of survival but try their best to mitigate that brutality. They never waste any part of a kill. They give thanks to the providing spirits and to the killed animal itself. They don't allow any greater evils as they realize that other things that people want (mansions, luxury, etc.) just aren't that important.
Gehenna, by contrast, figure that the evil they commit isn't that important so long as they get the things they want. They have no consideration for anyone or anything outside their protective social identity.

I think this would lead to the standard themes of mercilessness, struggle, exploitation and intimidation. But I personally feel that this atttitude makes the residents of Gehenna somewhat unique from the tyrants of Baator and the schemers of the Grey Wastes. (I know there is some overlap with both, but I think that’s unavoidable)
I think it would also easily lead to another anti-Beastland concept of pollution and exploitation of nature (“So what if the lake gets polluted, our group is going to make a fortune”)

So looking back at my list of “requirements” for a plane:
Unique overall theme - answered
Philosophical opposite - answered
At least one unique representative species – I felt the tweaking of the barghest with the “wolf pack” mentality gave them a little more character. As a pack, they are brutal and merciless; but if one (aside from the “alpha dog”) was seperated from the pack he would be in full denial of any responcibility and while still evil, would be too whimpy to act on it. His only goal would to rejoin the safety of his pack.
I thought this was well respresented by the shift from demonic werewolf (when strengthened in the pack) to less threatening goblin form (when isolated)
Feel free to argue this revisioning

So that leaves the following:
Unique terrain
-This didn’t effect me as I rewrote the layout to suite my taste but its too major a change for the Renovation Project. Nonetheless, I think people should throw out some ideas for ways to make the plane of Gehenna look unique

Reason to visit
-Didn’t think of much

Conflict within the plane
-I felt that a barghest vs. invading yugoloths made for a good internal conflict. Any other ideas? Or any suggestions as to what the core of their territorial/philosophical disagreement is?

Hyena of Ice's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-09-25
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

You are indeed missing out without Planes of Conflict. Planes of Conflict states clearly that Gehenna's theme is mercilessness, and this is found even in the land, which lacks any uneven surfaces (thus someone who falls has no means of stopping).
It's also depicted from the land in the form of the lava/cold/acid/darkness/etc. on each mount.

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

It may be wrong to argue this without seeing the source material; but I still don't see Baator, the Abyss or anything in between really overflowing with the quality of mercy.

How is it portrayed that actually makes it unique?

Hyena of Ice's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-09-25
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Well, I just mentioned one such way. Finding level, stable ground on any of Gehenna's four mounts is about as common as finding safe drinking water in the wilderness areas of the Abyss. This means that if you fall (and the slopes are always at IIRC a 45 degree angle, minimum), you're not likely to stop, and you'll eventually fall off the mount into the void below, lost forever to the multiverse (Planes of Conflict doesn't even hint at what the void below the mounts lead to beyond that nobody has ever returned from it)

Lemee see what else I can find.

Here's part of the opening for the plane:

"What Gehenna lacks in size, it makes up for in mean-spiritedness. This is a plane totally without charity, without any concept of pity, mercy, or any other redeeming quality. On Gehenna, it's every berk for himself. This doesn't just apply to the inhabitants. The land itself spits upon the unfortunates here, and a body can consider himself lucky if he isn't overrun by a lava flow or shoved off the side of a mountain."
The book also mentions that there are jagged outcroppings everywhere, which he who falls gets cut on. Essentially, the victim takes damage equivalent to half the distance fallen (and there is extremely little to stop someone from tumbling, meaning that most folks will fall a couple hundred feet at the very least.)

"There are no naturally occurring level places on Gehenna."
People often make such areas, but the plane soon converts them back into slopes. Oh, and most ledges have this nasty habit of collapsing whenever one or more beings are on it.
The slopes range from angles of 5 to 80 degrees, and that's just for the scalable areas.

Oh, and one of the worst things: Portals take the form of holes/tunnels in the ground.
Unfortunately, this is very dangerous, because there is little way to tell (unless you're an evil bastard or are lucky enough to have a spell/power key) if the hole truly is a portal or not. More likely it's a lava vent, and in a worst-case scenario, it's a bottomless pit leading to the void below. Many of the portals are marked, but because of the mean-spiritedness of the inhabitants, some of these marks are false, and actually lead to a magma well or the bottomless void.

The petitioners are described as the same, plus paranoid and greedy/opportunistic. They're not into mindless killing, rioting, might-makes-right, or mayhem like the petitioners of the Abyss. Nor is deception via "bending the rules", doublespeak, and fine script their schtick like it is for petitioners of Baator.
The book states, actually, that they act much like the inhabitants and petitioners of Carceri, save that they're on the plane by choice rather than by force.

"Inhabitants are all self-absorbed and follow their own agenda. They're crafty and they're clever, and most of all, they're dangerous."

Info on spell use:

--Divinations require a death, and call for cunning and pain. An "enemy" must be captured, then skewered (to hold him in place). The divination is performed on the still-living victim's entrails. (by comparison, divinations on Carceri must be performed on a pool of blood from *IIRC* someone who was betrayed by the caster. This makes diviners extremely unpopular on both planes.)

--Conjuration/Summoning has the same requirement as on Baator, or else the summoned creature will be free to do as it pleases (and usually, it pleases to tear the summoner limb from limb. This isn't due to law so much as it is about "what's in it for me?")

--Necromancy works as it typically does on the lower planes; baleful/negative energy necromancy is more powerful, beneficial/positive energy necromancy is weaker.

--Enchantment spells above 4th level don't work.

The Planes of Conflict chapter on Gehenna also has a lot of info about the Yugoloths (as does the one of the Gray Waste)
I would really strongly suggest you buy a PDF of Planes of Conflict, BTW. It only costs 5 USD, and I'm sure there are vendors still selling PDFs of it somewhere.

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Before I start arguing my points, I do want to say that I appreciate Hyenna’s extensive efforts to get me up to speed. You took a lot of time to give me this information and I don’t mean to belittle your efforts to help out a clueless berk like me.
I probably will buy the Planes of Conflict at some point (and I might be converted) but I’ve got a backlog of recently bought things that I’m trying to get through so it won’t happen soon.

Nonetheless, I still feel that Gehenna is just a weak Baator-lite version of a plane with very little to make it unique or to stand out in the minds of the players.

Let’s start with the “attitude” of the plane: No charity, pity, mercy, or any other redeeming quality.
--So, it’s EVIL like all the other Lower Planes. How is that different?

On Gehenna, it's every berk for himself.
--More of an Abyss attitude than Baator, but still doesn’t make it stand out to me

Hostile terrain (ignoring the incline for the moment) – lava and ash
--The feiry terrains of Baator (and probably multple layers in the Abyss) cover this

--I’ve ignored spell alterations as I didn’t see anything that couldn’t have easily been made a rule in any of the other lower planes

Hyenna of Ice wrote
“The petitioners are paranoid and greedy/opportunistic. They're not into mindless killing, rioting, might-makes-right, or mayhem like the petitioners of the Abyss. Nor is deception via "bending the rules", doublespeak, and fine script their schtick like it is for petitioners of Baator.
The book states, actually, that they act much like the inhabitants and petitioners of Carceri, save that they're on the plane by choice rather than by force.
"Inhabitants are all self-absorbed and follow their own agenda. They're crafty and they're clever, and most of all, they're dangerous."”
--I quoted this more extensively as I feel that understanding the motivations of the inhabitants is what really defines the atmosphere of the plane. Unfortunately, the text above just reads to me as “They’re evil like all other fiends – their just not hell-bent on killing”. Greedy, dangerous and self-absorbed seem to apply to all fiends provided they don’t have someone more powerful breathing down their necks.
Most of the inhabitants can be given a quick, unique label:
Devils = tyrants
Demons = engines of destruction (possibly subtle, well planned destruction)
Carcerians = bitter prisoners
Yugoloths = amoral schemers
So what quick summary would you give the residents of Gehenna?
Above, I suggested that the natives (probably not applying to the yugoloths) have a “wolf pack” mentality where they join into packs/gangs/tribes (a slightly lawful tendency) to exert their evil. Individually, they are unsure of themselves. They are so cut off from their individual connection to the natural or spiritual worlds (the Beastland attitude) that in desperation they identify with the group and rationalize their evil as being “needed” for the benefit and security of the group.
Now I understand if people don’t like my suggestion but I hope it illustrates that I’m trying to make the inhabiants unique from their neighbors.
If you disagree or have a better idea, I want to hear it. But as it stands, I still don’t think they have any real personality (aside from “being evil”)

This only leaves the one unique feature of this plane as the 45-degree tilt. I do like this and I did incorporate it into my rewrite of the plane (which I will explain below). But I still don’t think this is enough for a theme or a personality for the plane. It’s definitely a starting point for inspiration; but as it stands I still feel that this plane could use some enhancement (moreso than any of the other Lower Planes, all the rest of which seem pretty well defined to me)

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

This is probably too much for the Renovation Project, but for my campaign, I changed Gehenna a bit. I realize this is probably too much of a change for most people's tastes; but,
I'm including this just to demonstrate a possibility to make the plane unique.

Instead of four volcanoes, I have it as an infinite, mostly flat plane, at a 45 degree angle. There is still lots of unpleasant volcanic activity on this plane but it now infinite with infinite volcanoes and lava flows to inconveniece travelers.
I also added that individuals on this plane (not including powers and those in their domains) will eventually suffer pain unless they toil to move “up” the slope. If the person moves “down” the slope any appreciable amount, he will suffer pain.
If the person is good, the pain of remaining stationary comes on sooner. If a person is actively evil, it might be months (or perhaps years for the truly evil) before he feels the need to move “upwards”. So evil is rewarded with a little more stability.
Because of these constant migrations and the limited amount of resources in this mostly infertile plane, there are frequent conflicts as one group tries to invade the territory currently occupied by another. But even if your group is unopposed, the pain will eventually force you to abandon anything that you built up and move on.

I also added a twist that is a little hard to visualize. The 45 degree angle that sentient beings experience differs for the individuals. All the people that enter the plane through one portal will have the same orientation to which direction is “up”. But they could run into locals or another group that entered through a different portal for whom “up” is in the direction of the first party’s “down”
If it helps to visualize, for native plants and untouched non-sentient items, the plane is truly flat. Keeping this frame of reference, imagine one group heading east (towards their “up”) leaning at a 45 degree angle. The second group is heading west (towards their “up”). The two groups would see the plants growing at a 45 degree angle (compared to them) and the groups would see each other as being off by 90 degrees.
I added this twist just so that groups aren’t just always following the previous group up the mountain. This way, they can meet people coming from any direction (although everyone feels like they are moving “up” the slope)
Rivers, being non-sentient, flow slowly across the flat landscape. But a boat full of people with the same twisted orientation might experience it as a rollercoaster drop down a steep slope.
If a person stumbles and falls “down”, the momentum will keep the person rolling long after he dies. So it is not uncommon to experience “human tumbleweeds” rolling “down” (or “up” or “across”) the plane for years until they are eventually ground to dust.

Sometimes residents can stay in a place long enough to justify building structures; but eventually the group is driven off by invaders or by the pain of the plane. But when one finds such an existing building, dungeon or hole; it might not be oriented to the new occupant: what were built as walls are now floors, floors and ceilings are now walls.
Non-living items placed about this plane keep the orientation of the person who last touched them. So the chandelier might dangle completely horizontally from the new “wall” until it is touched by the person oriented to a different angle. Often times, those individuals that move in will put a lot of effort to climb the “walls” of their new home to reach the chairs and items the previous residents left on the “floor”

Hyena of Ice's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-09-25
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Yeah, that's waaay too much change. I (and most people here) prefer to stick to the canon. That applies to most of your other topics about your campaign setting as well, quite honestly.

I disagree with you about Gehenna being too like Baator. First of all, some of its Baator-like features are the result of completely different reasons. On Baator, it's the result of using laws, rules, and regulations to evil ends, and to trick and deceive.
On Gehenna it's the result of "oh? what's in it for me?".
I did not mention it, but this is essentially a plane for sadists, thieves, and greed. (THIEVES as opposed to thugs/muggers that is, the latter of which is a feature of Carceri) There's no "tyrranical law/hedging out of individuality" like there is on Baator. In fact, the book states that the natives are opportunistic, dog-eat-dog, and individualistic, but somehow they're "kept in line" and society is able to exist.

The yugoloths' tower on this plane houses all their records on the flesh of live mortal victims. The yugoloths torture them as a diversion, not out of sadism, the book states, but out of some sort of philosophy (I don't recall the exact wording).
This differs from Baator and Abyss, BTW. On the Abyss, victims (esp. petitioners) are tortured out of wrath (and to a lesser extent, for a purpose), while on Baator petitioners are tortured purely for practical reasons (e.g. interrogations, speeding up the whole petitioner 'ripening' process, punishing disobedient fiends, etc.)

""On Gehenna, it's every berk for himself.
--More of an Abyss attitude than Baator, but still doesn’t make it stand out to me""

Unlike the abyss however, the Gehennan natives aren't out to kill people just for the fun of it (well, they sortof are, but not as directly). Remember the "what's in it for me?" thing mentioned earlier? Well, this attitude goes both ways.

""they identify with the group and rationalize their evil as being “needed” for the benefit and security of the group.""

They do try to rationalize their evil, yes. Planes of Conflict's Gehenna section gives a few pages on the nature of the Yugoloths-- mainly they're all about the bluff and intrigue. They're obviously way more secretive than the other fiendish races, as evidenced by the fact that nobody knows the General of Gehenna's name, and he's as powerful if not moreso than the Oinoloth.

""have a “wolf pack” mentality where they join into packs/gangs/tribes (a slightly lawful tendency) to exert their evil.""
They only do that to fulfill their individual goals.

Let me look up and post some of the stuff about the 'loths.

So it goes like this:

Baator: Torture for a purpose
Abyss: Torture out of emotion/passion/enjoyment
Gehenna: Torture without purpose or enjoyment
Carceri: torture really isn't a big thing here, though it's sometimes done for enjoyment. (the plane's more about betrayal and committing savagery over meager resources)
Gray Waste: Torture isn't intentionally done here. Even if it was, the victims wouldn't give a damn, so it'd be pointless in the first place.

Hyena of Ice's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-09-25
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

What the book says about the Yugoloths:

"Yugoloths, masters of the bluff, call Gehenna their home these days."

"Yugoloth rank isn't solely based on physical power. In fact, several ranks of lesser yugoloth could easily take their betters in a fight. The secret of yugoloth society is this: it's based around bluff, manipulation, and skill." (though not outright stated, this is likely why enchantment/charm magic doesn't work on Gehenna)

"Marraenoloths (highest rank of lower yugoloth) learn that power can be had in knowledge.
They learn of the power of material wealth, and about holding others hostage to their whims. They also learn about the honor of holding to a contract. At this point, they begin to understand the politics of Yugoloth society."

"Folks suspect that the Yugoloths know more about the Blood War than they're willing to admit. Whispered rumors even claim that the Yugoloths have engineered the whole thing as some grand experiment in evil."

As befitting to the plane, one of the locations is Nimicri, a 500ft. diameter mimic which takes the form of a tiny moon-like planetoid covered in city structures. The book does not state so, but I suspect this may well be another monster of legend.

One thing I have noticed however, is that there are allusions to a theme between the Yugoloths of Gehenna and Gray Waste. The Yugoloths of Gehenna are looking towards the present and future, while those of Gray Waste seem to be stuck in the past. Also, the Yugoloths of Gray Waste focusx far more on pestilence and decay than on manipulation and bluff.

ripvanwormer's picture
Offline
Factol
Joined: 2004-10-05
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Bytopia is cooperation (or even symbiosis), where beings of different but complimentary natures combine their efforts for mutual benefit. If you sell something in Bytopia, both parties benefit from the exchange. More even than Elysium, law and chaos are able to develop mutually beneficial relationships in Bytopia, despite the plane's lawful bent (in Elysium they're more likely to avoid the extremes of both law and chaos; in Bytopia, they embrace them and make use of them, each side bringing their strengths to the mix). Capitalism works perfectly here. Communism works perfectly here as well.

The Outlands are competition. It's not as positive as Bytopia. In any exchange, someone makes more of a profit than the other. There are winners and losers. That doesn't mean the other party doesn't benefit at all, but there's a Darwinian struggle going on, and it's at least possible for people to be cheated or be run out of business, where that's difficult to manage in Bytopia.

Gehenna is exploitation. In any exchange, one side benefits and the other suffers, horribly. It's (nearly) physically impossible to have it both ways on this plane; if you attempt to give someone a fair deal, it means you're likely to be utterly screwed. If it's not them suffering, it's you. Labor here is based on backbreaking suffering or outright slavery. It's a capitalistic (or socialistic) nightmare, with groaning, scarred thralls, people selling their own limbs and bodies and minds to survive a little longer, and absolutely no authority that can check the absolute power of business owners, merchants, gods, and yugoloth and barghest lords. It's thievery with no compassion, food is sold with no safety standards, and workers are ground into dust by their uncaring overlords. It's every evil corporation in books and movies, but a thousand times worse. It's a plane where semi-mechanical horrors kidnap innocents and transform them into pig-thralls with lifespans of mere weeks. Think of the Company in Aliens, or the one in Total Recall. The worst of the Lords of the Planar Trade Consortium have their headquarters here. This plane represents all that's worst about the Fated, just as Ysgard represents what's best in that faction. If you have the Tome of Horrors II from Necromancer Games, there's an outer planar race (the n'gathau) that collects limbs and bodies from living creatures and stitches them together into agonized mockeries - they'd best be placed in Mungoth, I think.

The theme of Gehenna as given in Planes of Conflict is that free will is an illusion. There is only the rule of the strong over the weak. That fits with what I've been saying; you can't choose compassion on Gehenna, not really. You can only be the exploiter, and not the exploited. There's no middle ground. If you're strong, if you have a more powerful will, you find yourself exploiting those who are weaker, willingly or not. If you're weak, you'll be exploited. Good-aligned characters won't want to stay for long.

Gehenna's place as the anti-Bytopia makes it unique in the lower planes. In Baator, plane of wicked politics and law, there are checks and balances on independent corporate exploiters; the villain in Baator is the government, led ultimately by the Dark Lord of Nessus himself. In Gehenna there are many villains without any check upon their activities, no central authority, laissez-faire run rampant, a libertarian dystopia. In the Gray Waste, plane of apathy and soul-crushing despair, suffering is personal and, for the most part, internal, or for the sake of suffering itself rather than for any particular benefit gained by the tormenters (who are affected by the same soul-crushing apathy, which is why the yugoloths mostly moved to Gehenna). In Gehenna, suffering is external, and used to fuel endless agony machines in order to out-compete rivals. As with Bytopia, law and chaos combine in Gehenna, but where in Bytopia they're able to cooperate like nowhere else in the multiverse, in Gehenna they war, endlessly.

Gehenna isn't anarchy like the Abyss; there are rules, but the rules are always subject to negotiation, and they exist purely for the benefit of those in power. Where they produce no benefit, they do not exist. In Baator, rules are much more unchanging and inviolable, and they exist for their own sake. If Baator's laws benefit those in power, this is secondary to the necessity for rules for the sake of rules. Baator is malign law personified. Gehenna is exploitation personified.

Gehenna is also the Beastlands' opposite in many respects, the Beastlands as free, beautiful, and natural as Gehenna is as desolate, polluted, and exploited. It's a mistake to give a plane only one opposite. In fact, most planes have two opposites; its diametric opposite and its mirror opposite. Baator and Celestia are mirror opposites, each the good/evil equivalent of the other on the planes of law. Celestia and the Abyss are diametric opposites, one as chaotic and evil as the other is lawful and good.

I think the unrelenting snow, magma, and ash-covered volcanic slopes of Gehenna are distinctive enough. The only other plane that exists on a permanent slope is Malbolge (before the ascension of Glasya), and that layer isn't volcanic or chill. Think of Gehenna as an evil, tilted Iceland, with the other three layers visible in the void like bloody, triangular moons.

I think the planes of Baator ought to have the layers above them visible from below, too, just as in Celestia the layers above can be seen. Let the unique configuration of the plane be visible to those who visit it.

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Hyena of Ice wrote:
Yeah, that's waaay too much change. I (and most people here) prefer to stick to the canon. That applies to most of your other topics about your campaign setting as well, quite honestly.

--I know I was pushing the bounds with my rewrite but to me, this board is more useful to throw out new, sometimes outlandish ideas to generate new concepts rather than a dead repository where rules minutia are hammer out. Sure the average reader will throw out 95% of the things I propose (and I'll throw out 95% of his ideas); but if either one of us gets inspired with a really great idea then I think its worth it.
That's why many of my ideas start with the word "Alternative". I don't expect my ideas to become the new canon material but they are ideas that ignited my imagination and I want to share. People have contributed a LOT of great ideas that sprung off of my original comments, and I appreciate that.

For a lot of the rest of this "argument" (seems too strong a word), I guess we'll have to respectfully disagree. I find the terrain of Gehenna painfully (and I mean PAINFULLY) unimaginative; thus my push way past the boundaries. Although, I'd still be eager to hear some renovation ideas that add some real color whether or not they are so drastic as mine.

The one part that we can keep hammering out (since this topic seems to be verging into a two-person dialog) is the personality of the residents. This has always been a cornerstone for me in designing the planes. If one understands this mental theme, locations and adventures frequently spring to mind.

You mention “Gehennan natives aren't out to kill people just for the fun of it... [rather it’s the] "what's in it for me?" thing mentioned earlier”
--OK my problem with this point is if the residents of Gehenna are so opportunistic, when why don’t they ever do anything?
Yes I know the yugoloths are now in Gehenna (although to me, that seems like a “fix” the designers put in to give people an actual opponent in Gehenna) and the yugoloths are VERY opportunistic. But what have the locals ever done? Have they ever tried to use/exploit/work with the yugoloths to further their own goals? Not to my knowledge.

You also quote something that contradicts the opportunistic theme above
"Gehenna: Torture without purpose or enjoyment"
How does the theme of being opportunistic (evil to gain something) tie in with the theme of sadism. Yes, I get that sadists get pleasure from their acts; but ultimately, it doesn't really accomplish anything. Sadism seems much more of a Abyssian trait.
To me, it just feels like the designers said "What other evil things are there that don't fit in anywhere else? Let's dump all that in Gehenna". If Gehennans are torturing "without purpose or enjoyment" then basically they are just doing it because torture is evil and they are genrically evil, ergo they must torture people.

OK, accepting that the yugoloths moved in to the plane, you made the interesting comment
"Yugoloths of Gehenna are looking towards the present and future, while those of Gray Waste seem to be stuck in the past. Also, the Yugoloths of the Gray Wastes focus far more on pestilence and decay than on manipulation and bluff."
If the opportunistic theme is embraced, this is a good starting point.
The yugoloths AND locals should have plans that they are pursuing in order to reap some gain (consequences to others be damned). Unlike the devils who seek to rule with tyranical order or to tear down what the gods cherish, what is the end game of the resident of Gehenna?
I understand that the motives of the yugoloths have been kept vague and only hinted at (and I think that is approriate). But what are the (probably) less cryptic goal of the other residents? Are they primarily motivated by greed? By security (i.e. ultimately seek to be so powerful that they can stand unopposed)? Are these long-term plans or only short-term plans?
If a person is opportunistic, they have to have some goal in mind whether it is a long-term or a more immediate one. You can't seize an opportunity unless you know where you want to end up.

Regarding the mimic-city – that’s a great concept that I've always loved. Unique, deceitful. It both fits in with the plane and is just a clever idea. It's goal might be as simple as "Feed me!" but it gives a purpose to its deceit.
We need more things like this!

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Rip VanWormer posted while I was writing up my piece.

The "robber-baron" theme is also good. N'gathau marketing body parts is a good, unique form of evil tied to exploitation.

My initial attempt was to contrast Gehenna with the Beastlands (as that is its true planar opposite) but contrasting it with Bytopia (its vertical opposite) works well.

Although I just thought of this follow-up question: what industries can there be on a violently pitched slope with few resources and subject to frequent lava (or other substances) flows?
This isn't impossible, it just makes the setup a little unlikely.

ripvanwormer's picture
Offline
Factol
Joined: 2004-10-05
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Quote:
Yeah, that's waaay too much change.

It actually isn't too much change for my tastes. "Infinite plane at a 45 degree angle" is actually the way Gehenna was presented in the 1st edition Manual of the Planes. Planescape changed this somewhat by claiming the layers weren't infinite. I like the idea that the other layers of the plane are visible in the sky, though, and I really like the idea of a city perched on the very edge of one of the volcanoes (and I developed one such city, which I call the Edge).

The idea of making the angle subjective is an interesting idea. In keeping with the exploitation theme, I might even say the plane was flat for those with the most willpower, and sloped for everyone else.

Quote:
--I know I was pushing the bounds with my rewrite but to me, this board is more useful to throw out new, sometimes outlandish ideas to generate new concepts rather than a dead repository where rules minutia are hammer out.

Absolutely. I want to encourage this as much as possible.

Hyena of Ice's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-09-25
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

""I find the terrain of Gehenna painfully (and I mean PAINFULLY) unimaginative; thus my push way past the boundaries.""
Really? I found it pretty imaginative. Four massive volcanoes floating over a vast nothingness (yes, they ARE floating), two made of magma, one made of acidic snow, and one dead and dark. In addition, the 2nd layer features a mimic the size of an entire city, who eventually wishes to become a major trade hub.

""You mention “Gehennan natives aren't out to kill people just for the fun of it... [rather it’s the] "what's in it for me?" thing mentioned earlier”
--OK my problem with this point is if the residents of Gehenna are so opportunistic, when why don’t they ever do anything?""
They do. They're the ones who actually control the entire damn Blood War, and supposedly masterminded the whole thing. They're friggin' manipulating the Baatezu and Tanar'ri, mainly for profit.

""How does the theme of being opportunistic (evil to gain something) tie in with the theme of sadism. Yes, I get that sadists get pleasure from their acts; but ultimately, it doesn't really accomplish anything. Sadism seems much more of a Abyssian trait.""
It's partly that another theme is mere "evil for evil's sake" among the Yugoloths (and evil for profit), whereas for the Baatezu, it's "evil with a goal", and with the Tanar'ri it's "evil for enjoyment". The Yugoloths are supposed to be even more evil than the Baatezu or Tanar'ri, keep that in mind.

""what is the end game of the resident of Gehenna?""
Nobody knows. That's another theme with the Yugoloths is intrigue. The highest rank of Yugoloth is the Baernaloths, their creators, and unless they're mentioned in the 4E Demonomicon, not a single canonical source lists a single one of them other than Apomps the rebel (who created the Gehreleth of Carceri), but it's well known that the Oinoloth and the General of Gehenna seek their counsel on a regular basis (and only ultroloth princes such as those two are able to contact the Baernaloths) Remember that we don't even know the gender of the General of Gehenna, much less its name! Their nature and goals aren't meant to be fully understood like their Baatorian and Abyssian cousins. However, it's posited that the ultimate goal of the Yugoloths is to trick/manipulate the Baatezu and Tanar'ri into wiping each other out, so that the Yugoloths alone will rule the lower planes.

"But what are the (probably) less cryptic goal of the other residents?"
The other residents are not dominant forces of the plane, so there isn't a whole lot mentioned about them. However, the other INDIGENOUS residents include the Barghests, Phiuhl, Vaporighu, Linquas, and Slasraths.

Slasraths, bonespears, are just animals/beasts/what have you.

Phiuhls obey and cannot be controlled/compelled by anyone, and a Tanar'ri stupid enough to use ESP on it went insane, muttering things that appeared related to the inner planes (e.g. Undead Lords of Brass, Spirits of Long-Dead Wind Dukes, etc.). They'll eat anything, and even the fiends are afraid of them. I think they appear somewhere in 3x as well; this is just their 2E info. They are 'elemental' type creatures made from heat, steam, and toxic vapors.

Linqua work for and are creations of the deity, Sung Chiang. They are extremely prone to drug and energy addictions (in 3x terms, their will score is probably only around 8 at best). They operate as 2nd-level rogues under 2E rules (IIRC Sung Chiang is the Chinese god of thieves)

Vaporighus "don't seem to have any causes or motives; they exist only to cause pain ans suffering to any sod unfotunate enough to cross their path." This thing seems a tad out of place however, because its nature and description fits with something from the Gray Waste (perhaps it, like the Yugoloths, was originally indigenous to there?) with the whole "loves to cause suffering, is festering with disease, etc." theme. "They savagely attack anything short of a greater yugoloth, and sometimes even those."
They also have a fear aura, and also cause fear simply by being so hideous to look at. They're covered in corrosive, diseased slime. Also "only weapons of cold-wrought iron can affect them. Enchanted weapons cannot affect them no matter how powerful (e.g. no matter how many plusses.)"

It also gives a monster writeup for the Baernaloth:
"The essence of the creature is callous detachment, never seeing the suffering and pain that it ceaselessly creates; an unending, insatiable need for misery and affliction; a monster that mechanically, methodically hurts, harms, foils, impairs, and hinders all other creatures. In many ways, the baernaloths are the outcasts among the ranks of the Yugoloths."
They all (save Apomps) represent the Gray Waste version of the Yugoloth, BTW, so they're covered in pus and infectious bodily secretions.
They are the weakest Yugoloth when it comes to sheer might. They know more about fiends of all types, and may not be true Yugoloths at all, but rather some sort of primal ancestor, predating even the Yugoloth, who predate the Baatezu and Tanar'ri.
"More than anything else though, baernaloths see their place in the scheme of things as bringers of misery and pain. They specialize in torture, not as a means of interrogation, but as agony for agony's sake."
This shows another difference between the Yugoloths of Gehenna and Gray Waste:
The ones of Gray Waste are all about disease, pain, and torture. The ones on Gehenna are all about greed, deception, and intrigue (but vestiges of their gray waste nature, such as torture as a diversion, and apathy to anything of no benefit or no harm to them remain)

I honestly don't feel like hunting up the Barghest's 2E writeup or looking at anything from 3x.

""Although I just thought of this follow-up question: what industries can there be on a violently pitched slope with few resources and subject to frequent lava (or other substances) flows?
This isn't impossible, it just makes the setup a little unlikely.""
Actually, some of the towns *esp. those near Sun Chiang's divine realm* are stated in Planes of Conflict to be very good places to find rare and unusual items (which are usually stolen). Unfortunately, they are sold at obscenely inflated prices (IIRC 3x their actual worth).

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

As I said before, I feel we will have to disagree. To me:
1) A volcano in a void is no more or less exciting or thought-provoking than a volcano in the middle of a field. (And floating islands have already been done in Ysgard and Acheron). For Planescape settings, I want more than that. But ultimately, this is a minor point.
2) Yes, the yugoloths are great opportunists; but it’s always irked me that they had to be imported to this plane. Is there any good reason why they couldn’t behave exactly the same way without moving from the Grey Wastes? I can’t think of any. Sure if they stayed in the Wastes, they might have two competing factions (old school vs. schemers of tomorrow) under the same roof, but I think that would actually make the yugoloths more interesting
3) Even if the yugoloths’ goals are shrouded in mystery, can’t there be at least one native Gehenna species that does have an understandable “exploitive” goal? Again, it irks me that aside from the imported yugoloths that there aren’t any residents that aren’t just “animals/beasts”. This is the major point where I think some renovation is needed

So now to focus on the positive:
1) Mimic-city – GREAT idea, only drawback is that by definition it is a lone entity acting for itself and once it's secret is known, it isn't as useful
[Although there seems like there is potential for an adventure if the city were to "reproduce" - perhaps by mitosis. Perhaps the second city would try to find a new home on the planes]
2) Based on your reference to Sun Chiang’s realm, I think a really good idea would be for that deity to have created a race (linqua?) that are tasked to break into all the great treasure troves throughout the multiverse. They then have to bring the stolen items back to his realm where (minus a few select items kept for the god himself) they are sold on the largest, open, black market in the planes.
This gives the race a concrete purpose. It taps into the themes of greed and exploitation (the stealing minions are disposable to the god). And it gives people a reason to come to this plane.
[I don’t know what kind of wards the god would have to protect himself from the wraith of gods who were robbed. Maybe, he tricked the other Chinese gods into a deal where the entire pantheon agreed to defend him with their lives if he was ever threatened. Perhaps he stole the peaches of immortality and only agreed to return them if the gods made the pact.]
3) I liked the themes of corporate abuse that VanWormer brought up; although, I’m still having trouble thinking of types of businesses (aside from the thieving industry above) that would set up in this environment. Suggestions? All I can think of are mining and smelting operations under extremely unsafe and enviromentally disasterous conditions (not that there is much environment to destroy in Gehenna) Maybe the smelting operations dumb their slag or the mining periodically hits outlets of lava and causes a mini-eruption that destroy any downhill farmland.
4) Aside from the competing “robber-barons” at the top (who are willing to sacrifice their underlings to get an edge on their opposition), such an atmosphere of suffering would draw lower-level exploiters that would offer false promises of ways to ease the sufferers pain. The idea of people suffering so much that they’d sell body parts to the n’gathau is a colorful concept of evil in action. It’s evil for a goal (as opposed to torturing people just because it is evil to torture people)
Perhaps, the n'gathau will buy body parts in exchange for "lottery" tickets that promise to get a berk out of the back-breaking slavery he is in. Whether the lottery actually pays off, or if it pays but with "conditions" is up to the DM
5) I still personally like tweaking the barghest to the "wolf pack" mentality I mentioned above. This would give us an evil mirror image of Beastland residents while the "robber-barons" and thieves would provide an evil mirror image of Bytopia residents.

We might have exhausted this topic; but does anyone else have any ideas for new races or new motivations for existing races in Gehenna? Any greedy business that could work here?

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

ripvanwormer wrote:
I developed one such city, which I call the Edge.
Is it populated with people who "still haven't found...what they're looking for" [Yes, a lame U2 joke]

Regarding making the angle subjective (if you chose to use it here or in some demiplane), here's an idea that popped to mind.
You might, for example, have a person roll a d20. If he rolls a 1 then, the land is flat. But for each point over that, the person gets a 5 degree tilt. Roll a 2 = 5 degree incline; roll a 8 = 35 degrees. Roll a 10 or higher and you get the standard 45 degree tilt. You could add a bonus to the roll for high WIS scores.
Maybe that's too complicated but it's a possibility.

A 5-degree change of incline makes a big difference when you're walking uphill. (And makes the dangers of slipping much more significant)
I don't know how I'd handle roped together people. If the lead was on "flat" land and he was roped to a person at a 45-degree tilt and the later slipped and started falling, something would have to give.
Perhaps the lead has to roll a save or else get pulled into a similar 45 degree frame of reference (and since he is probably carrying more gear - since it was easier for him), this could be catastrophic if he was flung into the new frame of reference

BTW, thanks for the kind words regarding my crackpot ideas.

Hyena of Ice's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-09-25
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

""Is there any good reason why they couldn’t behave exactly the same way without moving from the Grey Wastes?""

They probably could, but see, the migration to Gehenna is part of a big plot for future dominance, so that's why you don't see any old-fashioned Yugoloths on Gehenna, or new-age/scheming Yugoloths on Gray Waste.
Also, as someone else mentioned, it's possible that the Gray Waste affects even the Yugoloths, just as Gehenna makes inhabitants more opportunistic and scheming.

""Even if the yugoloths’ goals are shrouded in mystery, can’t there be at least one native Gehenna species that does have an understandable “exploitive” goal?""

Any major species in the 3 lowest planes that fit such a description and attempted to defy the Yugoloths would be long extinct by now. The only reason the Gehreleths of Carceri aren't a mere memory (or less) is because they've learned to be passive -- just lay down and let the other fiends take their lands and exploit them. This is part of the reason why the Gehreleths are so backstabbing and nasty-- they know they can't do anything about the fiends, and this makes them extremely bitter, so they take it out on everyone and everything else on their plane.
Also, bear in mind that I only listed the Gehennan indigenous monsters from the Planescape books and Monstrous Manual (which doesn't include any new 3.5 monsters).

Found the Barghest.

On the Barghest: "On Gehenna, each barghest has its own stronghold and force of servitors over which it rules despotically. Goblins readily recognize and worship barghests, but other races find them to be indistinguishable from the common prime-material goblins.
The goblin hosts fear and serve the barghests, often going to great lengths to bring them suitable gifts and sacrifices, and the barghests respond by slaying the goblins' enemies and generally enriching the goblins' treasure hoards.
Occassionally, a barghest on Gehenna will spawn a litter of six young, which are immediately sent to the Prime Material Plane to feed and grow. Those that survive eventually return to Gehenna, but while they are away, must feed on humans and demihumans."
The adult barghests are described as cunning and scheming, but no goals for the species are mentioned.

""I think a really good idea would be for that deity to have created a race (linqua?)""
Yes, the canonical sources state that Sung Chiang created the linqua.

I'll go look at the 3.5 monsters.

....
Yeah, looks like there's only three indigenous to Gehenna, and only one of them is new (that's just looking at Crystalkeep, though)

As for Gehenna's powers, they include:
Gaknulak (Khalas/Aknuthrak) (Kobold deity of traps, trickery, protection, and stealth)
Iyachtu Xvim (Chamada/Bastion of Hate) (Faerunian deity of tyrrany, son of Bane; killed early on in 3x)
Loviatar (Mungoth/Ondtland) (Faerunian and Finnish dominitrix goddess of pain)
Maanzecorian (Chamada/Rictus) (Illithid deity of knowledge)
Math Mathonwy (Khalas/Corriegrave) (Celtic deity of magic)
Mellifleur (Mungoth/Death Embrace) (patron deity liches and necromancy)
Memnor (Chamada/Thraotor) (giant deity of mental control and pride)
Sargonnas (Chamada/Palace of Deception) (Krynnish deity of fire, vengeance, intrigue, and rage)
Shargaas (Krangath/The Night Below) (Orc deity of destruction, cold, darkness, death, and thieves)
Squerrik (Khalas/Cheisin) (patron deity of wererats)
Sung Chiang (Khalas/The Teardrop Palace) (Chinese god of thieves)
Syrul (Khalas/Castle of Ugly Truth) (Oerdian deity of deceit, false promises, and lies)
Velsharoon (Mungoth/Death's Embrace) (Faerunian god of necromancy and undeath)

Anyway, you can see a pattern there.

In comparison, the powers of Carceri tend to cover thieves, murder, and evil hunters/predatorial behavior.

Powers of the Gray Waste include your 'nilla "Lord of the Underworld" (Arawn, Kelemvor, Hades, Hel, etc.) as well as deities of darkness, disease, and decay.

ripvanwormer's picture
Offline
Factol
Joined: 2004-10-05
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Yes, mining and smelting would be the primary industries, and the industries associated with the Blood War, including weapons and other provisions. Merchants who bleed desperate troops dry for needed supplies in an inhospitable environment (and remember, not all Blood Warriors are fiends) will be common. Yes, it's a horrible place to live and work - that's the point. Life is nasty and short for the desperate peons of the plane; their overseers burn through them quickly, and send barghests to hunt for more, endlessly more, mostly children. Think of inhosptable mining colonies on Mars. The vaporighu make admirable whipmasters and slave drivers, though I also love the idea of vaporighu gangsters in sleazy cantinas. I recommend The Forever War by John Haldeman for more flavor on wars in inhospitable, unfathomably cold and dark environments. Then imagine that planar merchants have the ability to bring relief, at ruinous prices. For the miners, too: "I owe my soul to the company store," indeed. As long as the Blood War lasts, Gehenna's economy will thrive, for some.

Gehenna is the cruel parent who sacrifices her children. The name comes from Gihinnom, the fiery garbage dump outside Jerusalem where children were burnt in the furnaces of Moloch. Barghests sacrifice their own children, casting them to other planes to survive on their own before returning to the warm comfort of the furnaces that spawned them.

An infinite volcanic slope isn't any more creative or interesting than a finite, but unfathomably large volcanic slope. Unless you're on the edge, watching lava or Styx water rain down into the endless, endlessly hungry void, there's no difference from a visitor's perspective, except you're robbed of some of the most visually arresting sights on the plane: the other three furnaces hovering in the sky, each darker than the last, and the terrifying edge itself, and beyond the edge of the first furnace, the blood-red orb that is the gate to Torch. The Gehennan town nearest this portal, as I said, I've named the Edge, also Void's Edge, Furnace's Edge, the City of Ravens, City on the Edge of Never, Neverland, City of Lost Children, etc., ruled by the hidden cabal of vaporighu elders who have controlled the city since it slid from the Outlands long ago, at the moment the vaporighu race was first created.

I do like the idea of subjective slopes, though that's not incompatible with the idea of finite layers, unless you're on the edge or peak. Volcanoes bigger than worlds are readily distingishable from Ysgard's earthen rivers or Acheron's cubes.

Gehenna is lava and cold and darkness and barren rock because this makes working there more agonizing, and supplies more precious, but also, yes, because this is the antithesis of the beastlands.

Gehenna is also the location of the Flower Infernal, headquarters of the Tacharim, planar marauders created to give Pentar plausible deniability in her war against the modron march.

Don't forget the trade in secrets and lore: Mellifleur, Velsharoon, Math, and the Tower of the Arcanoloths itself.

Hyena of Ice's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-09-25
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Should be mentioned that Moloch (more or less synomatous with the "Baal" of the Bible) was a Semitic sun/sky deity. Many cultures in the middleast had dualistic sun gods who were the gods of life, fertility, and authority/kings, but at the same time, the gods of famine, immolation, and plague (this is how the Aztec gods were as well, and most animist deities and spirits are the exact same way since the latter are personifications of nature-- forces of nature given sentience and divinity, and thus were neither good nor evil-- just as a river brings civilizations life and transportation, it also brings floods and destruction. The mother earth goddess would represent fertility, nature's bounty, and the womb of life, but also the womb of death-- e.g. the grave, and famine. In fact, I remember reading that one of the Neolithic goddess statues from Turkey is a morbidly obese woman on one side, and a skeleton on the other.) Sadly, evil solar deities are not encorporated into D&D (A'tar is the closest thing to an evil solar deity).

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

I appreciate the responses but I'm starting to have trouble telling if I'm reading new suggestions or explanations of the cannon material.

Regarding Hyena's comment
"...attempted to defy the Yugoloths would be long extinct by now..."
I don't buy this. If another group's goal was to be the supreme power on Gehenna, then yes the yugoloths would probably smack them down into extinction. But there are goals that wouldn't conflict with the yugoloths plans (or might even fit in with them). In the example of a race of corporate robber-barrons that are running evil businesses that create weapons, both groups can work on their independent goals and co-exist.
The corporations make money (at the expense of their workers) and the products of that industry go to add fuel to the Blood War (the yugoloth's goal). The corporations don't really care about what they make so long as they make a profit and the yugoloths don't care if the bosses get rich so long as their plans for the Blood War continue on schedule.
Another example would be my trying to place the n’gathau as exploiters at a lower-level. Since their actions don't disrupt the process of industry (and actually support it as they provide a glimmer of hope to workers that might otherwise collapse in despair, and create mostrosities from the body parts that might be sold back to the companies to power engines of the industry - bellows, turbines, etc.)
The presence of the yugoloths does not neccesitate the non-existance of any other intelligent evil and their goals. Other groups just have to find a niche that doesn't intrude on the plans of a stronger force.

If no other intelligent species exists on Gehenna in the cannon material, OK. That's what I'm trying to fix as I do think having more pieces in play makes for more interesting possibilities for adventures.

I think the list of powers will be helpful but I don't see any pattern that you mention (except for generic "evil") .
The list includes: monster races, trickery, stealth, tyranny (seems better in Baator), pain/torture, (evil) knowledge, magic, necromancy/liches, mental control, vengeance, intrigue, rage, destruction, cold, darkness, thieves (which you say is also covered in Carceri), and lies.
That seems all over the place to me and I think it supports my argument that Gehenna is something of a dumping ground of evil that they couldn't fit in somewhere else; instead of having a good cohesive theme for the plane.

My point, in bringing up the linqua wasn't to point out that they are created by a god. My point was to try to come up with a species that had a purpose that aligned with the portfolio of the god (or in this case to give a purpose to a species already mentioned)
Sung Chiang, Chinese god of thieves => race designed to perform thefts throughout the multiverse and bring the riches back.

Can anyone think of any other good fits? E.g.
Maanzecorian, Illithid deity of knowledge => maybe a similar race that goes out into the multiverse to lurk in shadows until they can get to crucial secrets that they can then steal and bring back to their god (a little repetative to the one above)

Velsharoon, Faerunian god of necromancy and undeath => a race of undead created from the left over body parts of fiends that die on the battlefields of the Blood War in Gehenna.
(Do dead fiends leave corpses on foreign planes?)
This might be in mild conflict with yugoloth plans as the undead beings want the battles to happen as quickly as possible so that they can harvest new parts (to repair themselves or to create new members of their species).
The yugoloths MIGHT want a battle to happen at a later point in time or in a place other than Gehenna. So the undead minions need to use stealth in their attempts to fuel the flames of war and start the battles ahead of schedule; or else, they are targeted by the yugoloths.

These may not be great examples, but hopefully you can see what I'm trying to accomplish.

VanWormer wrote
"Don't forget the trade in secrets and lore: Mellifleur, Velsharoon, Math, and the Tower of the Arcanoloths itself."
I always associated the trade of secrets as being the domain of the yugoloths alone (or mostly alone). Are you suggesting an alternative or just supporting the cannon?

Both of you give a real-world history of Gihinnom and Moloch (both of which I knew) but I don't see where you were going with them.
Does the sacrifice of barghest children suggest an adventure possibility or a benefit to the barghest that would suggest an adventure possibility? I don't see it.
Do you have a vision for an evil solar deity in Gehenna? If so, how does he contribute to the societies of the plane (aside from being another god on the list of gods that live in Gehenna)?
I don't mean these last comments insultingly. It may just be that I'm too dense to follow you, but I need more of a vision of where you were going with these ideas.

Hyena of Ice's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-09-25
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

there are goals that wouldn't conflict with the yugoloths plans (or might even fit in with them). In the example of a race of corporate robber-barrons that are running evil businesses that create weapons, both groups can work on their independent goals and co-exist.

No, they can't, because the Yugoloths want to be the dominant race and rulers of Gehenna.

no other intelligent species exists on Gehenna in the cannon material, OK.

Did you not read my earlier posts? There are several other indigenous sentient races on Gehenna-- the Linqua, Barghests, Vaporighus, and Phiutls are all sentient races. There's also Pyroclastic Dragons from the 3E Draconomicon. None of these races holds much dominance over the plane, however.

I think the list of powers will be helpful but I don't see any pattern that you mention (except for generic "evil") .

Most of the powers (Gaknulak, Memnor, Sargonnas, Shargaas, Squerrik, Sung Chiang, and Syrul) are powers of thievery, intrigue, and/or manipulation *wererats are swashbuckling thieves and tricksters*. (I have to admit-- it worries me that you didn't notice this pattern)
All the powers of Mungoth (4th layer which is dark and cold-- an extinct volcano) are powers of undeath (Mellifleur, Shargaas, and Velsharoon).

My point was to try to come up with a species that had a purpose that aligned with the portfolio of the god (or in this case to give a purpose to a species already mentioned)
That already is their purpose, though.

(Do dead fiends leave corpses on foreign planes?)
Apparently so, since the books talk about Slaad travelling to the lower planes to eat the body parts of fallen fiends.

Velsharoon, Faerunian god of necromancy and undeath => a race of undead created from the left over body parts of fiends that die on the battlefields of the Blood War in Gehenna.
(Do dead fiends leave corpses on foreign planes?)
This might be in mild conflict with yugoloth plans as the undead beings want the battles to happen as quickly as possible so that they can harvest new parts (to repair themselves or to create new members of their species).

Problem with this is that Velsharoon's divine realm is on Mungoth, the 4th layer, and the Yugoloths steer well clear of that layer. I left the info on their realms (when I pasted it into this topic) intact for a reason.

Do you have a vision for an evil solar deity in Gehenna?
Not necessarily. Such a deity might be better suited to Baator anyway (either that or the deity is a fallen angel or archon living on Gehenna)

ripvanwormer's picture
Offline
Factol
Joined: 2004-10-05
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Quote:
Does the sacrifice of barghest children suggest an adventure possibility or a benefit to the barghest that would suggest an adventure possibility? I don't see it.

It was an example of how barghests fit the theme I was trying to convey. But yes, I did mean to suggest an adventure in which immature barghests are kidnapping human children and bringing them back to Gehenna to work in forced labor camps.

There should also be various exiled devils connected to Moloch, the exiled Lord of the Sixth himself, on the plane.

And it fits with other ideas I plan on posting to this thread eventually. The point is to establish a theme to spur further creativity. I think the "exploitation of children" theme has legs.

As for evil sun gods, that particular tangent doesn't seem relevant to this thread, but there are some evil sun gods in D&D, including the Maztican god Tezca (chaotic evil god of heat and sunlight), the Aztec/Olman gods Tezcatlipoca and Tonatiuh, and the Babylonian god Nergal, if you use a more historical version. There's also an evil sun cult in the non-canonical Greyhawk novel The Price of Power.

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Sorry, I misunderstood your quote. I thought the barghest were sacrificing their OWN children. I didn't see the PCs caring all that much.

Your way makes a lot more sense and does open up possibilities

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

ripvanwormer wrote:
I also love the idea of vaporighu gangsters in sleazy cantinas.

When I first read this, I kind of dismissed it jokingly (as I couldn't help but thinking of the vaporighu in zoot suits and talking like Edward G. Robbinson (sort of like Chief Wiggum on the Simpsons for those who don't know the actor).
I find the image amusing but I didn't take it seriously.

However, the more I think about it, the more it seems to fit. While we should probably build up some unappealing themes for Gehenna (like the child sacrifice, which is a good fit but still one I find so unappealing that I don't like getting too creative with it); there is also a place for gambling dens here.
Yes I know there are a number of such institutions on the planes (especially the Lower Planes) but it would feed a need on this plane. Gambling usually appeals to those who have no other refuge.
I see the petitioners of Baator being too hounded by the heirarchy to gamble too much. And I see gambling in the Abyss turning into free-for-alls too often with the accusations of cheating.
In Gehenna, there is enough law to tempt people with the promise (even if a false one) of rules for the games. But not enough law to prevent the shady activities that go on in gambling dens.
Also, the exploited of Gehenna would probably know that they are gambling away their thin sliver of hope; but they have such miserable lives that they can't think of any other way to get ahead aside from winning that "one big score"
Most of the business would be from Gehenna petitioners and planars. But the small stakes games they play are almost always rigged. Only fiends taking some R&R from the Blood War would get to play the high-stakes games which are slightly lessed rigged in the House's favor.
(Would they have separate wings for the different types of fiends? Or could they only come on alternating nights?)
-"What happens in Gehenna, stays in Gehenna"
-"Ladies Night: All succubi drink free!"

Hyena of Ice's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-09-25
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

That's something that bothers me about the Yugoloth: there's no temptress of mortals. Just because the Yugoloths aren't born directly from petitioners doesn't mean that they don't need them. Outsiders can only be born (be it sexually, asexually, or spontaneously) from a plane's essence, and with the exception of the Inner Planes, that requires the absorption of petitioners and dead outsiders.

ripvanwormer's picture
Offline
Factol
Joined: 2004-10-05
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

This essay suggested a conspiracy theory that explains the lack of succubus-equivalents among the 'loths.

But really, I have no problem with it. Baatezu and tanar'ri tempt mortals. Yugoloths are fiends that concentrate most of their resources in tempting other fiends. Mortals and mortal souls, in their view, are a contaminant, a pollution that distracts them from the absolute purity of evil. Unlike the tanar'ri and baatezu, they are far older than mortals and do not think they need them (though they don't seem to care enough to wipe them out; mortal existence is beneath their consideration). Their towers act as filters that remove any mortal taint from the plane's energies before creating new mezzoloths, or they can, in a pinch, reproduce sexually, though they seem to find this distasteful. Yugoloths, like obyriths, vaati, elder Baatorians, guardinals, eladrins, and so forth, are part of the older generation of planeborn that precede the use of petitioners in reproduction.

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

This isn't canonical; but I had speculated that the yugoloths had found a way to empower themselves from the destruction of the Blood War (hence their manipulations to prolong it).
If they are siphoning off evil power from both the LE and the CE planes, its not as critical for them to interact with mere mortals; and especially not for something as degrading as seducing them.
They stilll encourage corruptions and dark pacts since the energy of the dead souls, whether they end up in Baator, the Abyss or in between, will ulitmately power and serve the yugoloths.
But they find it more to their tastes to make the devils and demons work any angle (i.e. corrupt any mortal they can in any way they can) to get an edge over their enemy; then the yugoloths just reap in the dark energy that the others have sowed in the hearts of mortals.
I even had the yugoloths being the secret providers of most of the "true names" of other types of fiends that get to the hands of mortals. The devils and demons then get summoned to the Prime where they interact with (and corrupt) mortals more directly. The yugoloths just sit back and enjoy the benefits.

It may not be to your tastes but that was my explanation for why yugoloths are summoned less often (I think that's canon) and seem to interact with mortals directly less often than other fiends. And this could also explain why there are no yugoloth seducers (that I know of)

Center of All's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2004-05-11
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

I am getting images of a prohibition-era speakeasy town on the slopes of Gehenna, a den of drunkenness, gambling, backstabbing, and brawling. A place thieves go to strike deals, fiends go looking for slaves, where the booze flows freely, but don't ask what it's made of because you really don't want to know.

You can bet anything you want at the tables. Winners really win, but losers really lose. You can lose the clothes off your back. But even if you're tossed out naked and bereft of dignity, if you get out with your soul intact, you're a lucky sod.

Then again, if you play the game and win, the rewards are well worth it.

And the dark forces running the burg make sure just enough bashers win to keep the other berks coming.

---------------------

On the subject of a race of creatures made from grafted fiend parts...

The two colder layers of Gehenna are popular undead haunts (hah!). They could work. But how about this.

Some time ago, an ambitious arcanaloth got an idea to build a Frakenstein-like creature built from body parts he found across the Blood War battlefields. If successful, this creature and others would make mercenaries he could hire out to warlords on all sides of the War.

It took him a long time to make the perfect creation, but he finally did, using mostly fiend parts. A little tanar'ri, a little baatezu, a little yugoloth, and a pinch of gehreleth.

The arcanaloth wanted his undead creations to be useful, so he imbued them with intelligence. He gave them magic, instilled a fighting instinct within them, and taught them how to adapt. Because they were an amalgamation of different fiends, they were able to adapt more quickly and creatively than any one fiend. Fiends are bound to their natures as chaotic or lawful evil, but these creations didn't have that fetter.

In his hubris, the arcanaloth never thought his creations would outwit him. He used his magic to keep them in line but he became overconfident. He'd given the creatures the ability to adapt. And so his first creations learned how to resist the arcanaloth's magic and they killed him.

It is sometimes said that every creature seeks to reproduce itself. These creations were no different. After they killed the arcanaloth, they retreated to the cold slopes of Mungoth or Krangath. From their hiding place on the cold slopes, they go out into the hotter Gehennan volcanoes and look for other body parts. They've made a modest number of themselves already and plan to make more.

Plus, sometimes they find upgrades among the fallen -- grafts they can use to better themselves.

And someday, they might launch an all-out attack on the 'loths, striking out against their creators.

---------------------

You may wish to take a look at Pathguy's page on Gehenna. He talks about a lot of what's discussed already in this thread but it's worth a look. He takes a very "organized crime" approach to Gehenna. The Godfather is even quoted on the page. Definitely worth a look if you want to see a take on Gehenna's nature.

__________________

http://kaitou-kage.deviantart.com/ -- My deviantART gallery

http://www.planescapemetamorphosis.com/ -- Planescape: Metamorphosis, a Planescape webcomic in the works

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Glad for the input as we needed a few more voices on this topic.

I was working on a spin where the self-replicating undead were created by the lich-god who turned away from them as a failed experiment.
Then out of desperation to keep themselves alive, they started harvesting new parts and building new members of their species to "perfect" the experiment and show their creator that they were worthy of his attention. This would give them a tragic spin.
But after reading your suggestion, I see that while mine would make a good Ravenloft story; your suggestion is much better in keeping with the nastiness of this plane.

Also, on the "gangster" theme. Would "throw him into the Void" or "give him some magma shoes" be these gansters' equivalent of tossing someone in the Hudson River?

Hyena of Ice's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-09-25
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Also, on the "gangster" theme. Would "throw him into the Void" or "give him some magma shoes" be these gansters' equivalent of tossing someone in the Hudson River?

Possibly, that and giving someone a good shove (they'll go tumbling down the slopes) Just bear in mind however that Yugoloths as well as most Gehenna natives and inhabitants are completely immune to fire damage, so giving someone 'magma shoes' wouldn't have the same effect.

VikingLegion's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2009-09-08
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

I really like the idea of Barghest Crime Bosses - each one the leader of a rival family. Could an exceptionally powerful Barghest retain control over his litter of 6 whelps after they've come back from consuming souls on the Prime? IIRC the ones that survive and make it back to Gehenna are now considered adults and strike out to find their own smoking rift to rule over....

...But what if some Barghests are so powerful (Godfathers, if you will) they can actually summon their newly returned brood back to their side and compel them to "keep working for the family".

There could be interesting power struggles within each family - as sibling barghests maneuver behind the scenes to raise their own standing. Only one barghest of each litter can be the underboss, so constant infighting is to be expected. Extremely ambitious barghests may even plot to knock off the Godfather and set themselves up as the new capofamiglia.

Hordes of goblin underlings would form the mafioso backbone of these crime families - handling most of the grunt work - collecting "protection money", taking out rivals, ripping off any mortal berks that are barmy enough to travel to that plane, etc.

A funny storyline could involve a goblin tough who has been with the family for so many years, he actually thinks he's on track to become a made man even though that's an honor only ever given to barghests. He could eventually become disenchanted with this perceived slight and be convinced by the PCs to help take down a family from the inside.

Center of All's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2004-05-11
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Hohoho! Don't get involved in the barghest mafia! It can only lead to trouble.

I like this and I'm going to have to use it somewhere.

Actually, my comic is going to Gehenna down the road and barghest mafia is just the antagonist I need to make that story arc work.

__________________

http://kaitou-kage.deviantart.com/ -- My deviantART gallery

http://www.planescapemetamorphosis.com/ -- Planescape: Metamorphosis, a Planescape webcomic in the works

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

I like all of this too; but, the only problem I see with this is that crime typically needs to have some sort of commerce from which it parasitically feeds. (e.g. you can't run an extortion racket if there are no businesses nearby). Given the hostility of the natural environment, I don't see a lot of business happening here.

Admittedly, we've already brought up some possibilities:
mining
smelting/forging weapons for the Blood War
the thief-god's possible black market
gambling dens (although, they'd have to be pretty nice to entice people to come here just to see them)
slave markets (perhaps with a focus on kids or other innocents)

Is this enough? Or would they do a lot of business elsewhere and bring the profits back home?(e.g. extortion in the Outlands, smuglling operations throughout the planes, etc.) Perhaps the Planar Trading Consortium is just a front for the secret dealing of these crime families?

Maybe I'm worrying too much over minutae; but if it occurred to me, it's likely to be something my players ask (and I hate breaking the thin shell of suspended belief).

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Thanks Center for the link to Pathguy/Li Po's page. We did seem to hit upon a lot of the ideas he presents.

One aspect that he mentions that I think has been underrepresented here is the appearance of respectablity.
Sure a crooked casino boss or mafia don will have your thumbs broken for a simple infraction; but they all pride themselves as appearing better than that. They all think of themselves as classy, powerful guys that "unfortunately" have to indulge in some dirty activities to make their businesses run smoothly and to not loose power to rivals.

Much like Donald Trump, this air of "class" probably isn't fooling anyone but themselves. Or maybe it does? While one might be aware that the the creep running the gambling den is a low-life, the average person probably can't even get close to conceiving the depths of the evil he generates.

This makes another good contrast to the Beastlands. There a person ties to live true to his soul and doesn't worry about what society at large thinks of him. He is in tune with the natural and the spiritual, and that's all that matters.
By contrast, the Gehennian (who is also true to his evil soul) is concerned with the image he presents to society either due to his own vanity or because he feels that presenting a palpable front is better for business (isn't that right A'kin?)
If something was to threaten this appearance (making him look crude, weak or foolish), he would probably lash out far more brutally than if the person tried to quietly steal money from him (in which case, the punishment would still be horrible but it would be doled out unemotionally "You'll forgive me having to flay you alive; but you understand, it's just business").

swiftcutter's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2010-03-22
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

"I also added a twist that is a little hard to visualize. The 45 degree angle that sentient beings experience differs for the individuals. All the people that enter the plane through one portal will have the same orientation to which direction is “up”. But they could run into locals or another group that entered through a different portal for whom “up” is in the direction of the first party’s “down” "

I really really like this idea. It's appropriately bizarre, and combat against a gang of bad guys who are oriented in the opposite way would be quite wacky.

Center of All's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2004-05-11
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Palomides wrote:
I like all of this too; but, the only problem I see with this is that crime typically needs to have some sort of commerce from which it parasitically feeds. (e.g. you can't run an extortion racket if there are no businesses nearby). Given the hostility of the natural environment, I don't see a lot of business happening here.

Admittedly, we've already brought up some possibilities:
mining
smelting/forging weapons for the Blood War
the thief-god's possible black market
gambling dens (although, they'd have to be pretty nice to entice people to come here just to see them)
slave markets (perhaps with a focus on kids or other innocents)

Is this enough? Or would they do a lot of business elsewhere and bring the profits back home?(e.g. extortion in the Outlands, smuglling operations throughout the planes, etc.) Perhaps the Planar Trading Consortium is just a front for the secret dealing of these crime families?

Maybe I'm worrying too much over minutae; but if it occurred to me, it's likely to be something my players ask (and I hate breaking the thin shell of suspended belief).

I think it's enough, honestly. Plus, if you build it, they will come. The adage is true in many respects. On the Great Wheel, it can be even truer. There are more than enough people on the planes to get caught up in barghest mafia politics.

Something the books don't touch on quite enough is that all the planes have a mortal population. The mortals may not be on every single layer, and they may not even be that widespread. But they all have a mortal population. Even Vacuum is mentioned as having a few people that prefer to eke out a life in the void.

Plus we have to remember that "mortal" doesn't mean "human." The goblins have a presence on Gehenna (probably doubly so, given their associations with barghests). Tieflings are probably also common mortals. The active layers probably boast some fire genasi denizens and you can bet there are several human communities.

If you reach out a little bit, it's also easy to see fire giants (there is a giant community on Mungoth -- not fire giants but still giants), maybe some rogue modrons, perhaps some orcs, the list of possibilities go on.

Consider, too, that many divine realms exist across Gehenna. These realms are populated by a host of mortals, among other things. While each individual realm may be mostly self-sufficient, contact between the mortals is possible -- especially if there's a go-between group (like barghest mafia families). Unless the divine realms are pretty explicitly off-limits (and it's very possible in Gehenna), canny barghest families might go trading. Even then, some barghests might try to make trouble. It's a dangerous game, but a body'd be surprised what a power allows to happen in his realm -- especially one that's less caring about the fate of his followers.

Plus, there's Sung Chiang's Teardrop Palace, which is a major black market resource.

The Planar Trade Consortium is virtually everywhere, so you can guarantee they've got a presence. Though I doubt Estevan would let his organization just be a front.

If the mafia groups prove successful, you might see Merkhants, several unsavory Taker groups, and maybe even some ambitious Indeps and Sensates heading in to try and stake their claims.

Beyond that, there are plenty of non-mortals. Gehenna's one of the conflict planes and while it doesn't see nearly as much Blood War traffic as the Gray Waste, it still sees some. The yugoloths are a constant presence. The Crawling City makes its rounds on Gehenna and one of the popular theories is that Gehenna, not the Waste, is the actual plane of origin for the 'loths. Some of the barghest families may make big deals with baatezu warlords. Their shared lawfulness would make it easier for barghest crime bosses to deal with baatezu than tanar'ri.

There are lots of undead on the two colder layers, though the barghests probably avoid Krangath (and maybe Mungoth too; barghests seem to prefer the heat). But there's nothing saying there can't be some kind of trade link. Some undead will prefer to isolate themselves, but some are ambitious.

Plus, if we use the cobbled-together undead fiends, they might enjoy arrangements with barghest families.

With the gambling dens, the barghests just need to make sure enough people win that word gets out about great payoffs. After that, it's paying the right chant-brokers to spread the right chant. There are plenty of people on the planes desperate enough, daring enough, or stupid enough (the three are not mutually exclusive) to try their luck on barghest gambling tables regardless of the plane they have to get to.

Bottom line is, I think the commerce is there, just gotta know what to look toward.

__________________

http://kaitou-kage.deviantart.com/ -- My deviantART gallery

http://www.planescapemetamorphosis.com/ -- Planescape: Metamorphosis, a Planescape webcomic in the works

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Center of All wrote:
I am getting images of a prohibition-era speakeasy town on the slopes of Gehenna
I had a similar vision, but then I wondered what exactly would be "prohibited" amongst beings so evil? I think that these speak-easies should have the prohibition that the Blood War doesn't exist within its walls. If you can't agree to that rule, then you are either thrown out or you are not allowed inside in the first place.

I don't think this rule would be strong enough to keep devils and demons from tearing each other apart (Well maybe it could stop conflict but I'd recommend keeping them separated in different establishments that cater to their species). What I mean is that all military distinctions get checked at the door.

A higher ranking devil can't bark orders at his underlings while under the Gehennean's roof.
If a low-level demon wants to bad mouth his superiors, he's free to do so without incurring more than some dirty looks.
If an underling wants to get drunk and behave like a fool, he is allowed to do so without consequences (provided he doesn't damage Gehennaen property that he can't pay for)
No molydei can search for deserters within (although, they could hang around outside, as visitors without money are ousted pretty quickly - but a deserter that keeps winning could stay indefinitely provided he keeps gambling and can keep paying for room and board)
Admittedly, if an underling takes a swing at or wins a lot of games of poker against a superior, he will probably have trouble once he gets back to the front; but, while in the gambling den, everyone has to play by the house rules and this grants everyone more freedom to indulge their vices without worrying about what tomorrow will bring.

Hopefully, this adds to the Casablanca/speak-easy vibe, and gives a little more reason to gamble here than in the gambling dens back in their home planes. These dens of sin are little oases with their own rules where one can pursue one's own selfish indulgences without worrying about the demands of others.

[Side note: Instead of poker chips, would high stakes games involve tossing larvae on the table?]

Center of All's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2004-05-11
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Palomides wrote:
I had a similar vision, but then I wondered what exactly would be "prohibited" amongst beings so evil? I think that these speak-easies should have the prohibition that the Blood War doesn't exist within its walls. If you can't agree to that rule, then you are either thrown out or you are not allowed inside in the first place.

I don't think this rule would be strong enough to keep devils and demons from tearing each other apart (Well maybe it could stop conflict but I'd recommend keeping them separated in different establishments that cater to their species). What I mean is that all military distinctions get checked at the door.

A higher ranking devil can't bark orders at his underlings while under the Gehennean's roof.
If a low-level demon wants to bad mouth his superiors, he's free to do so without incurring more than some dirty looks.
If an underling wants to get drunk and behave like a fool, he is allowed to do so without consequences (provided he doesn't damage Gehennaen property that he can't pay for)
No molydei can search for deserters within (although, they could hang around outside, as visitors without money are ousted pretty quickly - but a deserter that keeps winning could stay indefinitely provided he keeps gambling and can keep paying for room and board)
Admittedly, if an underling takes a swing at or wins a lot of games of poker against a superior, he will probably have trouble once he gets back to the front; but, while in the gambling den, everyone has to play by the house rules and this grants everyone more freedom to indulge their vices without worrying about what tomorrow will bring.

Hopefully, this adds to the Casablanca/speak-easy vibe, and gives a little more reason to gamble here than in the gambling dens back in their home planes. These dens of sin are little oases with their own rules where one can pursue one's own selfish indulgences without worrying about the demands of others.

[Side note: Instead of poker chips, would high stakes games involve tossing larvae on the table?]

Well, I don't mean to imply that there is some kind of prohibition. Certainly, there can be. My use of "prohibition" was more to illustrate the seedy feel these bars would have. It was the first idea that came to mind.

That being said, I think barring the Blood War could work if you want to create a prohibition. The speakeasy towns could be popular R&R spots for the troops. After a brutal campaign, they spend time on Gehenna visiting the barghest-run brothels, dens of drinking and drugs, and vast casinos. I think making the barghest Casablancas more neutral territory could very well work.

Maybe "speakeasy" isn't exactly the right term. I could definitely see several barghest Las Vegas-style casino towns across Gehenna. Can you imagine what a barghest-run resort city would look like? Atlantic City from Hell? Remember, the devil is not always horrific and grotesque. Evil doesn't always come in the violent and brutal forms. The kind of debauchery that a casino city offers lends itself remarkably well to exploitation of the "weak" customer by the "strong" casino owners.

And if the barghests really are the mob bosses of Gehenna, they're the perfect group to be in charge of these hellish Vegases and Atlantic Cities and so forth.

The cities themselves make incredible adventure venues. Some cities might be run entirely by one barghest cartel. Others would have influence from several different cartels. There's room for all sorts of turf wars, inter-clan fighting, and political wrangling to get in control of the city. Back-alley deals are common -- as are back-alley muggings.

The casinos range from grungy, dismal dives for the Blood War grunts to vast, palatial resorts for visiting dignitaries, high-ranked soldiers, and anyone else that can afford their monumentally steep prices. Anyone and everyone is welcome to these vacation "hotspots" (hah!). Just don't cross the ruling mob and you might even get out with your skin intact.

Of course, crime runs rampant through these cities. They're popular havens for pickpockets, footpads, con artists, and cutthroats. The barghest mobs are constantly at each other's throats. Miniature Blood Wars do erupt between baatezu and tanar'ri on back streets and alleys. Brawls break out fairly often in the less-classy parts of town. In the upper-class areas, politics and maneuvering become deadly as fiends can't break the habit of trying to outdo each other. The barghests enforce what they can but they also support some of it too. Organizing the crime helps keep everyone in check. If one group of visitors gets a little out of control, arrange some "accidents" to get them back in line. Smaller thieves' guilds constantly try to get up and running but they always get destroyed or absorbed into one of the ruling barghest mobs.

Every once in a while you get some misguided celestial or Harmonium group that comes in trying to clean the place up. They either fall from grace very quickly or they get laughed (and usually killed) out of the cities.

These casinos probably operate several branches across the Outlands and Sigil. They might even have some places in Baator (Dis would be a good place for a casino branch), the Gray Waste, and maybe even other Lower Planes. I could see some kind of setup on Carceri, trying to lure the terribly desperate people that dwell there. Or on Pandemonium, maybe in the Madhouse or Windglum, hoping to get a few barmies to part with things they won't realize are gone. Might even have a presence on several Abyssal layers, like Azzagrat or Malcanthet's layer. These outlying franchises would provide a small taste of what's actually possible on Gehenna proper. If they're specially crafted to cover up how bad things get when you really lose, then they'd be great for snagging a lot more hopefuls seeking to make a quick fortune on the fiery slopes.

__________________

http://kaitou-kage.deviantart.com/ -- My deviantART gallery

http://www.planescapemetamorphosis.com/ -- Planescape: Metamorphosis, a Planescape webcomic in the works

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that you though some prohibition rule HAD to be in place. I was just trying to use a familiar term/image to come up with new ideas.
I was trying to think of what made the typical speak-easy such a "romantic" notion. And I think that what made it so was that (like Casablanca) once you cross over the threshhold, then a different set of rules apply.
In Casablanca for instance, outside the Nazis and freedom fighters were antagonists; but inside, there was an uneasy truce while both groups indulged in less than "proper" behavior.
Similarly for Prohibition speak-easies, outside one might be a respected cop or judge; but inside, the rules get put aside so that everyone can enjoy themselves.

Crime might be rampant in these cities but I think it should be done under the veneer of an orderly society. If this thin layer of "propriety" under the house rules doesn't exist; then things would quickly escalate and probably turn into just another generic battle site of the Blood War

I like the idea of the franchises (like a small town casino). It would satisfy an itch but you'd still want to see the real deal (Vegas, baby!)
Since you mentioned franchises in Pandemonium, it made me wonder if different spots gamble with different things. E.g. maybe on Pandemonium, a desperate gambler who is out of money can gamble away a sliver of his remaining sanity?

Hyena of Ice's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-09-25
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

I had a similar vision, but then I wondered what exactly would be "prohibited" amongst beings so evil? I think that these speak-easies should have the prohibition that the Blood War doesn't exist within its walls. If you can't agree to that rule, then you are either thrown out or you are not allowed inside in the first place.
In all likelihood any sort of sanctified item that might possibly be able to function on that plane would be banned, and if it's not banned by actual law, it'll be banned functionally-- e.g. you'll find that every single street 'loth and what-have-you is suddenly on your ass.
The same cannot be said of cold-wrought iron (which IIRC the loths are weak to) since the 'loths can actually use it. Whereas items which deal sacred damage/have sacred bonuses/etc. only serve their enemies. Their GOOD aligned enemies. Obviously these things wouldn't be common in the first place, so anyone who brings such things isn't just some clueless green prime. Of course, if he has such a thing, chances are he's fairly powerful, so Gehenna's street gangs are far more likely to stalk the guy and try to ensure he has an unfortunate 'accident' rather than engage him directly.

[Side note: Instead of poker chips, would high stakes games involve tossing larvae on the table?]
Possibly. Or even worse: get demoted to the next lower level of demon/devil/yugoloth. Of course that's only if the gambler bets his rank, and would be the fiendish equivalent to betting one's shirt.
If you can't pay, you'll be sent to the dungeons for a few liquid pain extractions (see Book of Vile Darkness for details on this. As I recall the 'loths in particular are big on liquid pain extraction, though that may have come from somewhere other than the BoVD. In fact, *I could be remembering thsi incorrectly however* if I recall correctly, the Yugoloths use liquid pain as a fuel source for some of their machinery.)

swiftcutter's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2010-03-22
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

If you want to play up the disparity between the Beastlands and Gehenna, you could go the ecological route... If the Beastlands represent incorruptible nature, Gehenna could represent the soulless exploitation of it. The wasted terrain of Gehenna pretty much reflects this already. Everything natural on Gehenna has been artificially twisted into some horrible new form or harvested to extinction.

Another thought along those lines: Perhaps there are large numbers of fossils belonging to extinct creatures and races below the surface of Gehenna. These might be of interest to scholars and necromancers.

Jem
Jem's picture
Offline
Factor
Joined: 2006-05-10
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

swiftcutter wrote:
If you want to play up the disparity between the Beastlands and Gehenna, you could go the ecological route... If the Beastlands represent incorruptible nature, Gehenna could represent the soulless exploitation of it. The wasted terrain of Gehenna pretty much reflects this already. Everything natural on Gehenna has been artificially twisted into some horrible new form or harvested to extinction.

That's an interesting line. The Beastlands as pristine nature, Bytopia as conserved nature, Gehenna the opposite of both as exploited nature, with maximum ecological destruction wrought by the yugoloths and the other planar natives.

The Lower Planes aren't noted for their wealth or bounty, but Liber Malevolentiae says that the waters on Gehenna taste of heavy metals. Perhaps you could say that the volcanos of Gehenna are almost the only source of many valuable minerals in the Lower Planes, particularly obsidian and porphyry, malachite and azurite, and metals like tin, platinum, and perhaps cold iron and silver (the latter two not being well-liked materials on a lot of Lower Planes, what with the natives being vulnerable to it and all!). The locals extract it with frantic effort, selling their finds for the food and drinkable water the plane lacks.

Large mines worked by blasting (magical) and slave gangs would criscross the surface and caves of Gehenna, feeding screaming, smashing conveyors that slice dross off of valuable stone, and belching refineries that smelt the ores, for sale to armies and other operations across the Lower Planes. Any given mine is small and grudging, requiring a huge investment of labor and yielding a tiny amount before another claim has to be found. Worked-out, abandoned mines are everywhere.

Fights over claimjumping are constant, and there is always a need for explorers to survey. The plane's lava flows and earthquakes constantly produce new areas to explore. It's even said that if it weren't for the miners extracting stone and dumping loose waste, that gets blown or washed away into the void in the next Gehennan storm, and shipping off the material they find, that Gehenna would be larger -- that it's only the extraction and exploitation that keep Gehenna from growing into a plane the size of its neighbors.

Quote:
Another thought along those lines: Perhaps there are large numbers of fossils belonging to extinct creatures and races below the surface of Gehenna. These might be of interest to scholars and necromancers.

Another opposition to the animal variety of the Beastlands, yeah. Fossils of every animal species, in vast fossil beds, and the gates to the Gray Waste are found within the forests of bones. The fossil beds seem to be extruded from the unknown depths of the plane, possibly as species go extinct on one Prime Material world or another. This also gives rise to veins of coal, oil, and tar, which are another frantically-exploited resource that leaves Gehenna's surface blackened, ripped, and choked with smoke.

ripvanwormer's picture
Offline
Factol
Joined: 2004-10-05
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Jem wrote:
The Lower Planes aren't noted for their wealth or bounty, but Liber Malevolentiae says that the waters on Gehenna taste of heavy metals. Perhaps you could say that the volcanos of Gehenna are almost the only source of many valuable minerals in the Lower Planes, particularly obsidian and porphyry, malachite and azurite, and metals like tin, platinum, and perhaps cold iron and silver (the latter two not being well-liked materials on a lot of Lower Planes, what with the natives being vulnerable to it and all!).

It's definitely the only source for Gehennan morghuth-iron, described in the 3e Arms and Equipment Guide.

Wicke's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-04-24
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

I'm loving the direction this is taking!

Jem wrote:
That's an interesting line. The Beastlands as pristine nature, Bytopia as conserved nature, Gehenna the opposite of both as exploited nature, with maximum ecological destruction wrought by the yugoloths and the other planar natives.

Not really relevant to the rest of the thread, but I just wanted to point out how Carceri, being the fourth corner (so to speak), might be considered to be overrun nature. The landscape there is merciless.

ripvanwormer's picture
Offline
Factol
Joined: 2004-10-05
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Some more thoughts, while they're still relatively fresh.

The map in Planes of Conflict shows the Styx traveling more or less straight down the slope of Khalas, beginning near the peak of the volcano and reaching almost to the edge, where it is shown disappearing into caves near the town of Fo Ling Po. The map in Dragon #358 is similar, showing the Styx flowing from the Gray Waste to Gehenna to Baator. The Styx in Gehenna is full of waterfalls and cataracts, so it's not practical to use it to travel all the way from one end to the other. The Styx, of course, has many offshoots and tributaries that extend into other planes, so someone who knows the river really well, as the marraenoloths do, can get into almost any town in Khalas from almost any other place in the Lower Planes that the River Styx touches. But someone just poling their way along the main river from the Oinos will probably end up near Khalas's peak, plummet down waterfalls and cataracts for hundreds of thousands of miles until they reach the bottom and get squirted into Baator. Dragon #358 suggests that 'loths offer charms and spells to protect ships going over the falls.

Hellbound: The Blood War describes the Bridge at Khalas, somewhere not too far upstream of the Teardrop Palace, which is apparently the only bridge that spans the River Styx on this plane. Anywhere else you have to ford, swim, ferry, teleport across, tunnel under, or fly over the river, effectively dividing Khalas into two halves (you could go the long way around the volcano, but that's like traveling all the way around the world instead of crossing the Mississippi, assuming the world was the size of Jupiter and had no oceans). I would assume, then, that one side of the river has all the portals that connect to the Gray Waste, and the other side of the river has all the portals to Baator. These portals are all supposed to look like pits in caverns under the surface of Khalas, but most of the reliable ones should have fiendish fortresses built over them so that the tanar'ri and baatezu (and others, in some cases) can defend these crucial entry points from their rivals. Other portals lead to Torch in the Outlands, or lower layers of the plane.

Those portals that don't have fortresses built over them can be trading towns. They offer, in fact, a good reason for towns to exist, if they're not on the River Styx (as Fo Ling Po and the Teardrop Palace are). They're going to usually need some way to get goods and services.

Characters need a reason to visit Nimicri, the living mimic-town in Chamada (it's described as a colossal mimic, but it's more like the genius loci from the Epic Level Handbook). The 3e Manual of the Planes says that Nimicri "is an established stop along several trading routes that crisscross the Outer Planes," which is weird for a town built in such an inhospitable layer of such an inhospitable plane. Clearly there needs to be one or more portals nearby. Nimicri floats above the surface of the plane, so any of the usual type of Gehennan portals are probably going to be underneath it; possibly both a portal from Khalas and another portal leading to Mungoth, just far enough apart that travelers have time to reach the surface and say, "Oh, that looks like a nice place to stop," before continuing on to the next portal. There also needs to be some plausible way to travel there; some winged creatures (maybe some pretty ones) willing to ferry the PCs to and from the surface of the orb.

As was noted above, the slowly dawning horror as the PCs realize that the happy, safe town of Nimicri is actually an enormous carnivore is only going to be effective once (I would also take a page from the book/movie Solaris here), but that's not necessarily the end of the story. The next step is Nimicri learning to detach bits of itself and send them into other planes, doppleganger-like entities determined to lure more travelers toward their parent or even to evolve into new versions of Nimicri elsewhere in the planes. Maybe a war erupts between the spawn of Nimicri and the children of the living demiplane Neth. Maybe Nimicri eventually decides to move itself into Sigil, squeezing through a portal in the undercity. There's always a creative way to bring an old villain back.

Of course, the PCs also need a reason to travel to other layers of the plane. They're probably not really interested in mining, so there need to be more valuable treasures in the offering, like rumors of a waterfall where diamonds fall instead of water, or some crucial secret of the fiends in a ruined city or in the hands of the 'loths.

Anyone trying to get into the lower layers of the plane through Gaknulak's realm of Aknuthrak or the wererat god Squerrik's realm of Cheisin is likely to run afoul of traps, so it's a bad idea. The Teardrop Palace, Fo Ling Po, or Corriegrave might be good places to hunt around for paths leading into the deeper Furnaces, though. In Chamada you'll want to look for Nimicri even if you're smart enough not to stop there. Hulgis' Cleft in Mungoth seems to mostly survive by selling etched wares, so it'll want a portal nearby too, as well as paths to Smertzen and Aasbern in the neighboring realm of Loviatar. Loviatar's realm is more habitable than much of Gehenna, since it has fiendish caribou, fiendish wolves, and other animals that imply a somewhat natural ecosystem, but there still has to be some kind of path from the upper layers nearby if the PCs are going to reasonably get there. The town of Portent in Mungoth is supposed to have guides that can be hired to take people through the lower tunnels, so this is almost certainly the best way into Krangath.

Center of All's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2004-05-11
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Wicke wrote:
Not really relevant to the rest of the thread, but I just wanted to point out how Carceri, being the fourth corner (so to speak), might be considered to be overrun nature. The landscape there is merciless.

Especially given that one layer of Carceri houses those that gave into their bestial urges.

Also especially given that Malar's realm is on Carceri and he represents the savagery of nature on Toril.

__________________

http://kaitou-kage.deviantart.com/ -- My deviantART gallery

http://www.planescapemetamorphosis.com/ -- Planescape: Metamorphosis, a Planescape webcomic in the works

Hyena of Ice's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-09-25
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Well, these are the deities I have listed so far for Carceri.

OTHRYS
The Titans (I left these out because they aren't part of the theme)
Nerull (Oerdian deity of death, darkness, and murder)
Raiden (Japanese deity of thunder and fletching)
Surma (Finnish deity of death)

CATHRYS
Grolantor (hill giant deity of hunting and combat)

MINETHYS
Faluzure (draconic deity of undeath, decay, night)
Karontor (formorian giant deity of hatred, beasts, and deformity)
Null (draconic deity of death, decay, darkness)
Parrafaire (naga deity of dungeon guardianship, traps, riddles, mazes, and trickery)
Talona (Faerunian deity of disease, famine, and poison)

COLOTHYS
Malar (Faerunian deity of bestial urges, beasts, evil lycanthropes, savagery, and bloodlust)
Vhaeraun (Drow deity of thievery, mischief on the surface, and conquest through stealth)

AGATHYS
Apomps (Baernaloth creator of the Gehreleths/Demodands)

Unlike Gehenna, the deities here don't have the same running theme, though Apomps, Grolantor, Malar, Nerull, Talona, and Vhaeraun could all be said to possess either murder or assassination in their portfolios (Parrafaire as well since he's the god of monsters who serve as dungeon guardians as well as dungeon traps. Unlike all the other non-titan powers however, he's not evil-aligned.)

Unsung's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2012-10-04
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

I'm kind of surprised Gehenna was slated for renovation. Admittedly it's not as well-populated as the Gray Waste, but that always seemed to be the point to me. Gehenna is *the* barren plane, for me. I could see how it could suffer from complaints that it was a little too similar to Baator, but I think I always imagined the wastelands of Baator and the Abyss as bursting with their own unique brands of life, while Gehenna was just... empty.

Anyway, as I mentioned in the PRJ for the Beastlands, in my campaign, I transplanted the rakshasa from Acheron to Gehenna. Acheron already had its goblin and orc petitioners, not to mention the bladelings. Besides, the rakshasa never really seemed to fit on Acheron. Rakshasa, for me, aren't about oppression and warfare so much as deception and greed. I view their lawful alignment as having to do with the strict laws which govern their conduct amongst themselves, as well as their deep respect for the gods.

These rakshasa will usually make some attempt to obey a direct order from a god, any god, not just their own. Likewise, certain high-ranking celestials, whose orders are apt to come straight from their patron god's own lips, also gain a lot of traction with rakshasa. The rakshasa won't obey orders which contravene the edicts of their creator, ten-headed Ravanna, but they respect divine laws, to a degree in which they certainly don't respect the laws of anyone else.

This selective lawfulness is one way in which I justify their placement in Gehenna, although in my setting, Gehenna was always their home on the Outer Planes. They maintain a mercantile presence on Acheron, as with most of the planes. They reserve a special interest for Thuldanin, but are most famous for having stolen one the cubes of Acheron, a fortress which now serves as one of the great hubs of rakshasa on Gehenna's first layer of Khalas.

Gehenna is a plane of thieves. In my visions of the planes, the four mounts are surrounded by floating debris stolen from worlds past counting. It's a bustling port for planehopping spelljammers, despite being full of wrecked ships, shattered planets, depleted asteroid mining concerns... When the rakshasa wish to put on a show for newcomers, they cloak the place in illusions, though such magic is heavily localized, used solely to impress and entertain guests who are not permitted to stray from the courts of their fiendish hosts.

I'm sure slavery does a brisk business in Gehenna. Spelljamming mind flayers, the tso and their uncouth hillbilly cousins the neogi, khaasta, the Dao... All are welcome!

What little honour there is among thieves contributes to the plane's lawful facade. Perhaps it is a fitting irony that the rakshasa have found their own plane stolen out from under them by the yugoloths. The irony is further heightened if the rumours are true, and the raavasta were once rakshasa who turned stag on their race.

In any event, when it comes to organized crime, to cutthroat politics, to corrupt corporate industry, and the kind of evil that operates under the veil of legitimacy, I'd like to throw the rakshasa's collective hat in the ring. They're the lurking beast behind the sophisticated veneer, tigers camouflaged in pinstripes.

Palomides's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

This is in-line with my vision of Gehenna being sort of a planar equivalent of Vegas - a small center of glitz set in the middle of a wasteland that hides a den of sin and depravity

swiftcutter's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2010-03-22
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Unsung wrote:
In my visions of the planes, the four mounts are surrounded by floating debris stolen from worlds past counting.
Okay, that is a really cool idea! The plane itself as a thief!

Wicke's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2009-04-24
Re: Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

Palomides wrote:
This is in-line with my vision of Gehenna being sort of a planar equivalent of Vegas - a small center of glitz set in the middle of a wasteland that hides a den of sin and depravity

This particular vision/dichotomy makes for an interesting contrast with the Beastlands. There you have "man" and nature living in harmony and in relative innocence. In Gehenna, you have pockets of high civilization and corruption surrounded by bleak, denuded wastelands. You have an internal contrast of the different states of corruption of Gehenna and both contrast directly with the Beastlands.

Planescape, Dungeons & Dragons, their logos, Wizards of the Coast, and the Wizards of the Coast logo are ©2008, Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc. and used with permission.