|Mammon by George Frederick Watts (1885)|
Time for my first preview of Gehenna, with an overview of this rather warm circle of Hell.
Although Gehenna is a dry, inhospitable wasteland of black, burning metallic sand, it almost looks like paradise to travelers who have just slogged their way through many leagues of sewage and decay in Abaddon.
Getting into Gehenna is dangerous. When one is one the very edge of Abaddon they cannot see into Gehenna. Instead, they see nothing but miles of sewage and junk as far as the horizon. When they place one over the border, though, they suddenly find themselves in the midst of a howling, raging storm of burning metallic sand and fire (per the fire storm spell). This persists for 1d6 rounds, and when it ends, one sees nothing but Gehenna, with no trace or sign of Abaddon.
Gehenna, as mentioned above, consists of mile after mile of rolling dunes of metallic sand. The sand is mostly black, but there are lines of coppery red, golden brown and silvery white worked into the landscape, making it almost pretty for a circle of Hell. Rivers of molten metal flow through the landscape aimlessly, ending in bubbling lakes. There are also great mesas of basalt to be found in Gehenna, and it usually on these that the landforms that the various tribes and lords of Gehenna dwell.
No plants exist in Gehenna, but the landscape is often broken up by growths of metallic crystals, some tall and branched like trees, others in spiked clumps.
All of the animals of Gehenna are immune to fire. Most are reptilian or insect in nature.
Gehenna is the ring of Hell allotted to the souls of the avaricious and prodigal. Avarice (also known as greed or covetousness) is the rapacious pursuit of wealth, status and power. While all people have ambitions, the covetous take this to an extreme, casting aside the eternal (and Lawful) for the temporal. In time, these things they sought fall through their hands as dust and escape them.
In Gehenna, the shades of the avaricious are turned into “misers”. Misers take the form of slaves in Gehenna, being driven by the Gehennites to push around great stones for their pointless monuments to the glory of Mammon, Amon or one of the other lords of the circle. The misers have lost their humanity and their individuality, and are now little more than beasts of burden.
The shades of the prodigals, on the other hand, become small in stature – nimble little thieves who try their best to steal from travelers and others, but find their bodies become immaterial whenever they attempt to hold onto anything, their newly acquired wealth quickly slipping through their hands. They are naked and hunched, and would be pitiable if not for their rapacious faces.
Races of Gehenna
Gehenna, as lifeless as it might seem, has its own inhabitants. These are the seven tribes of Gehenna, all of them races known to people of the surface world but altered by their habitation in Hell.
Arkusites: The Arkusites are hairless gnolls with pallid skin and icy blue eyes. The Arkusites build strongholds of gold and ride out from them on feral centaurs to raid and plunder. Arkusite warriors wear glistening scale armor, amply decorated with gold and tall, golden conical helms and wield long horseman’s axes and shortbows. Warriors are extensively tattooed.
Arkusites worship various demon lords, and change their allegiance often. Their priests use drugged wine to bring on prophetic dreams and practice ritual cannibalism.
The Harrites: The Harrites are kobolds that look like pteradactyls with golden scales and eyes like multi-faceted garnets. They roam Gehenna in great swarms, swooping down on victims from above with their cruelly barbed and hooked spears, snatching people up into the sky to be roasted alive in their towers. The Harrites dwell in great fluted towers of blue metal (cobalt, in fact). In the base of these towers, which rise in clumps from the landscape, they keep great fires burning at all times. The towers are open from base to ceiling and ringed with platforms and shelves on which the kobolds dwell. They hang their captives over these fires from chains and allow their screams and moans of torment to echo up through the tower. On the ceiling of the tower they keep strange ooze, which feeds on these screams and produces weird, sticky nodules that the kobolds collect and sell. The nodules are eaten by the inhabitants of Hell like candy. The Harrites usually worship Pazuzu.
The kobolds can exhale plumes of burning ash. Alone, a kobold can spew this into the face of an opponent once every 1d4 rounds, the victim having to pass a save or be blinded for 1d4 rounds. In groups of 30 or more, the kobolds can swoop down and exhale in unison, creating the equivalent of an incendiary cloud that lasts for 1 round.
Lamuresti: The Lamuresti are the elves of Gehenna, with warm, copper skin and entirely black eyes. They are graceful in appearance, with sharp, severe features. The Lamuresti are completely loyal to Mammon, whom they call their divine king. Each lamuresti village is governed by a priestly steward (an anti-cleric of level 1d4+2). They construct two-towered bronze ziggurats to Mammon and decorate their walls with bas-reliefs and metallic tiles depicting woodlands and marshes they may never visit. They are particularly known for their bronze lions.
The villages of Lamuresti contain eternal flames fed by the bodies of the shades punished in Gehenna (or any other captive they can get their well-manicured hands on). The Lamuresti are known for their harsh punishments and cruelty (pyramids of skulls, flaying captives alive, walling people into their city walls, etc.). The males wear flowing robes of cloth-of-gold and conical caps, with tighter dresses and feathered head-dresses on the females.
Lamuresti warriors wear scale armor and carry short swords, spears and longbows.
Sarrimites: The Sarrimites are changeling goblinoids. When first encountered, they look like hunched and muscular goblins, with short, bandy legs and bearded faces with over-large teeth jutting from their grim, low-set mouths. They wear iron masks that depict noble-looking men with dead eyes and long beards. When joined in battle, they shout their war-cries and become large hobgoblins. If reduced to half their normal hit dice, they grow into ogres (their equipment growing with them), gaining 2 extra hit dice and doing +2 points of damage with their attacks. The Sarrimites wear iron scales and horned helms. They attack with axe, spear and hand cannon (per heavy crossbow).
The Sarrimites are usually loyal to Mulciber, but worship his wife, the sensuous demoness Tyrana, a winged lilin only marginally loyal to Lilith of Erebus. Her temples grace the citadels of the Sarrimites and are attended by the female goblins. The citadels are ruled by the high priestess of Tyrana, the goblin king being subservient (and married) to her – a situation no goblin king cares for.
The goblins are expert engineers and smiths. Their villages are joined by iron-shod roads that rise above the burning sands of Gehenna, and they have canals that channel the molten rivers of metal to their foundries where most of the weaponry, armor and ordnance of Hell is manufactured.
Uccenites: The Uccenites, or “wolves of Gehenna” are sahitim, demonic humanoids who dwell in some of the deserts of Nod. Like their surface kin, the Uccenites are lean and lank, with golden-orange skin, with black horns like those of an antelope rising up to 3 feet tall. They swathe themselves in black robes, the men veiling their faces, the women adorning theirs with black tattoes.
The Uccenites are nomads, setting up temporary camps around large sepulchral tomb mounds in which they store their mummified dead. These mummies are animated, of course, and appear as naked, hunched sahitim (they are interred in a fetal position that bends their spines) covered in red ochre paint and in a state of decay. These mounds look like conical pyramids, wider than they are high, made of various metal blocks. The Uccenites also raise megalithic monuments to Amon, whom they worship exclusively. In honor of their demon lord, they sacrifice captives by slowing carving up their bodies while alive – first the ears, nose and lips, then the fingers and toes, etc.
Uccenite warriors wear mail tunics and carry bronze shields, scimitars and jezzails (as crossbows). They ride beasts that look like a cross between wolves and camels.
Xshayathiyans: The most grandiose and powerful of the peoples of Gehenna are the Xshayathiyans, also known as ophidians. They were worshipping demons before it was cool – perhaps before there actually was a Hell. Here they preside over stately cities of silver and gold, encrusted with gems and inlaid with serpentine and lapis lazuli. They wear kilts and loose tunics of cloth-of-gold and –silver and tall crowns (even the lowliest wear crowns). Warriors wear bulbous helms with golden face masks depicting demons, gorgons, medusas and other monstrous creatures. They are armed with iridescent scale coats, oblong shields, spears, axes, short swords and longbows.
The Xshayathiyans are ruled by their magic-users, who preside in palatial temples that are home to powerful glabrezu demons, the ruling class of the ophidians, who serve as the various satraps under their emperor, Mammon from his capitol, the Burnt City. These temples also hold ritual vats in which the priests bathe in oil or in the blood of sacrifices. The temples are guarded by winged gorgons and serpoleopards.
Xshayathiyan magi possess the most useful objects in Gehenna – at least for adventurers. These are stones that look like pure, white quartz spheres that, when buried one foot beneath any soil, cause a spout of pure, fresh water to erupt into a fountain for 1d4 minutes. One waterskin can be filled from the fountain per minute. The stones, called stones of necessity, function once per day, and there is a 5% chance per use of them crumbling into dust.
Xulites: The Xulites are bronze men – humans with skin not only the color of bronze, but the consistency as well. The Xulites build citadels of brass, decorated with gynosphinxes with golden bodies and ivory faces. Within these citadel they keep gorgons who feed on the metallic sands (they are immune to their petrifying breath) and grow crystalline trees of emerald and ruby.
The Xulites are slavers, capturing the zombie-like prisoners of Gehenna and using them as beasts of burden. They wear pointed helms and scale hauberks and wield longswords, spears, daggers and crossbows that throw metal darts. The elite Xulite warriors ride scaled lions (like miniature dragonnes) into battle, their roars driving their foes in fear before them.
Lords of Gehenna
Mammon, the Grand Prince of Avarice, rules the Circle of Gehenna with subterfuge and double dealing. There are those who say he commands a power greater than himself, and uses it to get his opponents out of the way. Four demon lords have proven too powerful for Mammon to unseat, they being Amon, Maphistal, Paymon (king of the glabrezu demons) and Pazuzu. The smith of Hell, Mulciber, also dwells in Gehenna, though he shows no interest in the politics of Hell and is not seen as a rival by any of the other lords.