I’ve come to the monumentous decision to push the portion of the Hellcrawl covering Stygia, the 5th circle of Hell, back to the next issue of NOD. Honestly, I don’t think I could write it quickly enough to get NOD 13 out in February if I don’t. So, Stygia and Dis will be covered in NOD 14, and NOD 13 will contain Abaddon and Gehenna.
And speaking of Gehenna … a few more previews of that bleak landscape:
|Image found at the Happy Whisk|
25.58 Aurika’s Tower: The dwarven adventurer Aurika (Elementalist 11; 32 hp) has established herself in a tower of cracked, creamy white stone. The tower is a spiral cone, in the fashion of an alicorn, and appears to have been raised from the ground by the way the metallic sands are piled around it.
The tower can be entered through a single large portal that is blocked by a massive block of stone that weighs about 3 tons. Aurika simply uses passwall to move through the stone, though she rarely ventures out into Gehenna. She sought the gates of Hell as an adventurer long ago, and the dwarves still speak of her legendary career. After finding the bleak wasteland of Gehenna, she became intrigued by the metal sand and what challenges they might hold to an Elementalist. She was also changed by her travels through Hell, her natural dwarven avarice heightened and excited.
Aurika is a heavy woman with brown skin and a thin nose (for a dwarf). Her hair is brown and worn very short, and her grey-green eyes show a fickle side to her personality.
The bottom of her tower contains pure lead sands, which she has sifted with the help of various elementals. Aurika is using this lead sand to create a lead golem, which she believes will be able to challenge the demon lords. The lead golem is about 50% complete.
27.57 House of Lead: A monastery of lead blocks has been constructed here. The monastery consists of an outer building and an inner building. The courtyard between them is a weird garden of burning coals and slim, crystalline growths reminiscent of branch coral. Igniguanas skitter around the coral. The only way from the outer building into the inner building is across the 12-ft. wide garden, the rectangular portals from one building to another being offset and located about 10 to 20 feet above the ground – a difficult jump indeed.
The outer building is home to the lesser demonic monks, a collection of peoples from Gehenna and a few tieflings as well, all dedicated to attaining physical and mental perfection that they might better serve their ultimate liege, Lucifer. They number 20 in all.
The inner building is the home of their master, Amus (Monk 15; 68 hp), a muscular man, heavily scarred, with reddish skin and a face encased in a brass lion mask that covers his entire head. A sapphire embedded in the mask permits him to communicate telepathically with all sentient beings within 100 feet. His home is a great cube of lead, 40 feet to a side, and cluttered with ledges and poles jutting from the floor, ceiling and walls at every conceivable angle. Amus’ meditation platform is a stout column in the center of the building, about 10 feet tall and topped by a bed of nails.
Besides Amus, the inner building is guarded by four chain demons, that lurk in the shadows. Their true purpose is to guard the treasure within the lead pillar, a vial of Lucifer’s own ichor, which appears as a black, viscous fluid.
28.61 Volcano: A volcano of black rock rises from the sands here, eternally spewing streams of magma that solidify on the extremes of the hex into promontories of porphyry, serpentine, hornblende and magnetite. Rivers of molten metal flow through these promontories from a molten lake into the rest of Gehenna, and sleek crystalline sea serpents can sometimes be seen surfacing in the lake.
There are dozens of monastic cells carved into the rock within the rim of the volcano. Naked hermits, their hair singed and their skin like leather, dwell in these places, contemplating the fall of Lucifer and the end of the cosmos. They are all powerful clerics (Cleric 9), and capable of answering many and varied questions about Gehenna and Hell as a whole (i.e. they’re a good source of adventure hooks).
30.48 Xarcho: Xarcho is a magnificent citadel of 2,000 Xulites who serve Mulciber. Their citadel has 60-ft. tall walls laid out in a circle set with nine great towers, each 100-ft tall and studded with arrow slits from which 4d6 heavy crossbow-armed Xulites can shower bolts down from any given angle.
Within the walls, the citadel is divided into raised streets lined with cheerless basalt buildings housing the people and their shops, and between them 200-ft. wide canyons of basalt where the smithwork of the people is performed. The furnaces are natural vents of burning gasses that send a crimson radiance into the sky – a radiance that can be seen from one hex away in otherwise black Gehenna.
At the center of the citadel there is a palace-temple of black marble where sits the balor Vugencothi, the Herald of Insanity and ruler of Xarcho. The balor is entertained by the sufferings of slaves drawn from all over Hell, including the form of the succubus Neveh, flayed alive and bound with leather thongs crafted from her own hide. She is forced to dance by a gang of sabre-toothed tigermen armed with pitchforks and wearing leather battle harness.
Rising from the black temple there is a scarlet spire around which curls a writhing flame. Once per day, at the direction of Vugencothi, this flame can be send blasting through the citadel, this holocaust of flame inflicting 6d6 points of damage on all who are not immune to fire (no save).
The temple is surrounded by a marketplace of shrewd traders and moneychangers from around Gehenna. At one end of the plaza there stands the infamous inn known as the Sign of the Smoking Serpent, where fire nymphs in mithral collars that send shocks of electricity through them serve platters of smoked meats (very well done, of course) and fiery wine that forces normal folk who drink it to pass a saving throw or suffer 1d4 points of damage and the loss of their voice for 1d8 days.
Xarcho is currently suffering a rash of banditry from a warband of Uccenite warriors. Encounters with the sahitim occur on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6 in this hex. Encounters are with 2d6 sahitim, and there is a 25% chance that they are battling with 2d6 bronze men.