Baluchor, Prince of Astral Evil

I found a great old illustration of “Baluchor” from an old Halloween advertisement via James Lileks’ Bleat and thought it would make a great demon prince.

Baluchor, Demon Prince of Evil Astral Monsters

Type: Outsider
Size: Large
Hit Dice: 15 (90 hp)
Armor Class: 22 [+3]
Attack: 2 claws (2d8 + Poison I)
Movement: 40′ (Fly 60′)
Save: 9; MR 65%
Intelligence: Super
Alignment: Chaotic (CE)
XP/CL: 7,500/18

SD—Immunity (electricity, poison)

SP—Astral projection, confusion •••, darkness II, desecrate, detect good, dimension door, dispel magic, ego whip •••, fear, intellect fortress •••, magic missile, mental barrier •••, mind blank •, mind thrust •••, nightmare •, phantasmal killer •, psionic blast •••, psychic crush •, read magic, shield, suggestion, symbol (any), telekinesis (2000 lb.), teleport without error (self + 50 lbs.), thought shield •••, tongues, tower of iron will •, unhallow, unholy aura, unholy word, wall of force

Baluchor is the demon prince of evil Astral creatures, paid fearful obeisance to by the kith-yin, mind blasters, night hags and nightmares.

Baluchor’s antennae can pick up mystic vibrations (detect good, detect magic) and thought waves (E.S.P.) in a 60′ radius (always active).

When Baluchor rolls a natural ‘20’ on a claw attack while on the Astral Plane, he automatically severs a creature’s astral thread (if applicable).

Three times per day he can open a portal to the Astral Plane or a portal from the Astral Plane to another plane and, in the same round, use his telekinesis ability to attempt to push a creature through it.

Baluchor’s hairy body is host to numerous pests and parasites, so those in melee contact with him for more than 3 rounds must pass a saving throw or contract a disease.

Three times per day, Baluchor can summon 1 nalfeshnee or 1d2 marilith demons. Once per day, he can summon 2d8 kith-yin, 2d6 nightmares, 2d4 mind blasters or 1d4 night hags.


Hell is for Geniuses

In working on my Blood & Treasure revision, I started thinking today about one of the aspects of monsters that often gets overlooked – intelligence. Starting in AD&D, monsters started getting intelligence ratings, and I think most referees note them and use them to help play a monster encounter, but I wonder whether they really take them into consideration.

Let’s take Hell for an example.

Illustration by Thomas Theodor Heine

Many devils have a high intelligence rating, making them the equivalent of college graduates or even geniuses. A few are super geniuses – and we’re not talking Wile E. Coyote super geniuses, but the real deal – folks smarter than Einstein, Elon Musk and Tony Stark put together. They’re also lawful (evil, but lawful), which means they can work together. Imagine it – thousands of super geniuses working together to create a tech boom in the depths of Hell.

There is some literary precedence for this idea. Milton, in Paradise Lost, noted that the rebel angels used engines of war – possible cannon – in their battle against the Heavenly Host. This was probably an early version of casting “modern” warfare, with its noise and smoke and fire, to our typical vision of Hell, or a Hellish landscape.

We could go a step further, and let the devils in a campaign go full steampunk. What a surprise for high level adventurers, who are expecting the cover to a heavy metal album, and instead enter a nightmarish “World of Tomorrow” when they visit Hell – something more Kirby-esque than classical art. This would also mean that the allies of Hell on the Material Plane would have access to some interesting “magic items” – cannons of course, but also rocket packs, difference engines, steam-powered tanks, etc.

This could make for an interesting campaign, as Hell embraces sorcery and super-science and begins equipping mad wizards and anti-clerics with steam-era technology to conquer the Material Plane, with the adventurers left to discover what this stuff is, how it works, where it comes from and, ultimately, how to stop it. Maybe they’ll need to engineer a rebellion in Hell – the low-order devils against their masters, like something from Metropolis. Or maybe they’ll need to ascend the Seven Heavens and petition the solars and planetars for help in storming the Hellmouth – thousands of aasimars and elves and dwarves brightly arrayed against an undead army that looks like it might have crawled out of the trenches of the First World War!

It could be epic.

Illustration by Thomas Theodor Heine

Six Delightful Demons

Who doesn’t like a good demon (well, not good – you know what I mean). Today, I present six delightful demons that have fallen prey to the bindings of earthbound conjurers.


Izaph is a type I demon that once stalked the woodlands around an ancient castle that was inhabited by a coven of diabolists. The villages that bordered the woods were beset for many years by the temptations and depredations of Izalph, and many a knight and maiden were cast into ruin by the demon’s actions. Finally, a trio of spellcasters, a cleric, druid and magic-user, joined forces to deal with the infamous ‘Demon of the Wood’. The trio found a grove of ancient oak trees and carved runes of power into them. They then drew lots. The cleric lost and served as bait for the demon, fleeing from it and drawing it into an especially large, ancient oak tree. As the demon followed the cleric into the tree, the magic-user and druid completed their spellwork and activated their magic circle, binding the demon into the tree. The cleric, alas, lost his life. Izalph is still trapped in the great oak, brooding and cursing his fate. Seven dryads dwell in the smaller oaks that serve as the anchors of the magic circle, and they delight in tormenting the captive demon.

Izalph: HD 8; HP 28; AC 20 [+1]; ATK 2 claws (2d8) and bite (1d8); Move 30 (Fly 50); F8 R9 W8; AL C (CE); XP 2000; Special: See B&T.


Phimzael is a type II demon that looks like an especially large, warty, frog with bilious green flesh streaked with gold. For many long years, the wizard Yurk researched Phimzael, learning his true name and the symbols required to conjure and hold him. Yurk desired a very ancient spell involving transportation to and from the gem-like worlds that dot the Firmament, and his inquiries convinced him that the Celestial Circle, a band of magic-users known in ancient Irem, had been the last to perfect this spell, and that they had had contact with Phimzael. Yurk also knew that Phimzael was not to be trifled with. He constructed a long shaft, like a well, with a circular room at the bottom. Here, he drew his magic circle and, accompanied by his apprentices, conjured the demon. Phimzael was a cunning opponent, and time and time again he fed Yurk false information about the spell he sought. Eventually, he corrupted Yurk’s most promising apprentice and, during an especially long and frustrating audience with the demon, the apprentice stabbed Yurk in the back (literally) and released Phimzael from the magic circle. It was then that Phimzael learned just how canny Yurk was, for the rim of the shaft also formed a magic circle, more powerful than the first and obscured by illusions. Phimzael was again trapped in a magic circle, and this time there was nobody capable of releasing him. In a fit of anger he slew the apprentices and consumed their souls. He still sits at the bottom of the shaft, which is now filled with water, in the ruins of Yurk’s manse.

Phimzael: HD 9; HP 35; AC 21 [+1]; ATK 2 claws (1d8) and bite (4d6); Move 30; F8 R9 W8; AL C (CE); XP 2250; Special: See B&T.


Zuron was a type III demon that specialized in providing engineering knowledge to those who conjured and commanded him. It was in this capacity that was conjured by the archimage Thebea to advise the gnomish engineer Walprict in the crafting of an especially large and impressive iron golem. Unfortunately, dealings with demons are never easy, and Zuron proved to be more than Thebea could handle. She arrived in her laboratory one morning to find that Walprict had killed himself in an especially macabre fashion, and that Zuron was free of his magic circle. Thebea had prepared for this, though, and grabbing the only item handy, a bronze cog, pronounced a powerful spell that trapped Zuron within the cog. She hid the cog away and, in the course of many years, was killed on an adventure. Her manse fell into disuse and ruin, and one day became the target of locals, who scavenged the ruins for building materials. It was in this way that a scrounger came across the cog and other mechanical items, and traded them to a clockmaker in a far away city, who used the parts to fashion a wondrous clock tower, in which each day a parade of automatons would act out various acts of knightly valor when the clock struck noon. The demon cog, however, corrupted this machine. If it can spill the blood of three innocents, Thebea’s ancient spell can be broken and Zuron released. The demon clock has already claimed one victim, a workman who was cleaning the mechanism when he was struck by the sword of one of the clockwork automatons.

Zuron: HD 10; HP 35; AC 23 [+1]; ATK 2 pincers (2d10), 2 claws (1d6) and bite (1d8); Move 40; F5 R8 W7; AL C (CE); XP 2500; Special: See B&T.


Rahorezs was a rather grandiose and gluttonous pig of a type IV demon who was brought into the fabric of the material plane by the renowned demonologist Praction as a wedding gift for his beloved, Halia Rathsdottir, scion of a family that claimed descent from the rebel angels. The demon was conjured into a tapestry, his depiction fixed there with a magical golden thread. The demon could still communicate from the tapestry, but was otherwise powerless. Still, communication was enough, as Praction and Halia found themselves slowly giving way to gluttony themselves. In time, their inexhaustible appetites drove their subjects to revolt, and the two, despite Praction’s power, were destroyed. Rahorezs had hoped a revolt would result in the tapestry being burned or otherwise destroyed, thus releasing him. Unfortunately, it was merely looted and has been handed down through several owners, always bringing upon them the same curse that finally destroyed the demonologist and his bride.

Rahorezs: HD 11; HP 37; AC 23 [+1]; ATK 2 claws (1d8) and bite (2d8); Move 30 (Fly 40); F5 R8 W5; AL C (CE); XP 2750; Special: See B&T.


The demoness Saherael, a type V demon, fought in the epic Battle of Borok’s Grave, where 20,000 demons and devils, manipulated by the demodands, destroyed themselves in a quest to claim an artifact that did not exist. Neither side tells of the incident today, of course, but the damage was done. Saherael was not killed in the battle, but she was gravely wounded and weakened, and in this state was captured by a coven of witches loyal to Baalzebul. The witches held and tormented the demon for nine long months before finally tearing her, body and soul, apart. Her body they threw to their devil swine, but her soul they captured in six small rubies, each a piece of a larger gemstone. These rubies they set in the hilts of six magic swords that now thirst to be united so that Saherael can reform in the Underworld and seek vengeance on the souls of those who wronged her.  The Six Swords of Saherael are as follows:

+1 Bastard Sword, makes bearer immune to electricity

+1 Broadsword, bearer can cast project image and detect invisibility 1/day

+1 Greatsword, bearer can summon one marilith 1/day with a 20% chance of success

+1 Longsword, grants bearer a +4 bonus to save vs. spells

+1 Scimitar, bearer can cast project image and telekinesis 1/day

+1 Short Sword, bearer can cast blade barrier and teleport without error 1/day

Each of the swords is intelligent and chaotic (CE), and yearns to be re-united with its siblings. All six will fill the heads of their owners with the notion that all six swords united will grant a single wish (which is actually true, as they will allow Saherael’s fondest wish to come true). Assume each sword has an Ego of 6 and can speak and communicate telepathically. They all have 120-ft darkvision.

Currently, the longsword is in the possession of Sir Galt, a formerly shining knight in the process of becoming a chaotic warlord. The scimitar and bastard sword are in the vault of a king, and cry out constantly for their sisters. The other three are scattered about in various dungeons, seeking new pawns to carry them to their ultimate desire.

Saherael: HD 8; HP 25; AC 24 [+1]; ATK 6 swords (2d10) and tail (4d6 + constrict); Move 40; F8 R9 W8; AL C (CE); XP 2000; Special: See B&T.


Dosoharh is a type VI demon that has tired of immortality. He seeks ultimate release from existence, and can only achieve this by being slain in the depths of Hell. Dramatic to the end, he has concocted a grandiose quest involving three (three!) virginal maidens, a silver chalice that holds the preserved eyes of six of the world’s greatest diviners, a down-on-its-luck red dragon called Jorvax the Bloody, the comedy stylings of Thobad (a renowned jester of Yex) and a cast of thousands. Powerful adventurers encountering any of these people or things might take up a thread of this plot and follow it into Hell, where Dosaharh awaits his fate impatiently. What those adventurers will not know is that Dosoharh is a manic depressive, and he’s just about ready to go from the blackest sadness to joy unrestrained (and joy in a demon is a terrible, terrible thing).

Dosoharh: HD 20; HP 66; AC 26 [+3]; ATK +1 vorpal longsword (1d10+7) and +1 flaming whip (1d6+1 + 1d6 fire); Move 40 (Fly 90); F3 R3 W3; AL C (CE); XP 5000; Special: See B&T.

Dragon by Dragon – November 1978 (20)

And so we come to November of 1978, which is notable … for nothing that I’m aware of, other than this magazine. This appears to be their Halloween issue (why November? Kask explains it’s because November is the dreariest month of the year – what with all the football and Thanksgiving? – and thus a good month for horror stories).

Whatever the reason, let’s see what Dragon #20 has to offer.

Designer’s Forum – The Making of a Winner: Imperium – Outstanding Game of 1977 by Marc Miller

Yeah, that Marc Miller. In this article, Miller describes the origins of Imperium. Apparently it began as two games, Imperium being a giant sci-fi game of economics and conquest, and StarFleet, which was on a smaller scale. Ultimately, StarFleet was put on the back burner while Traveler was made. When Lou Zocchi mentioned that the name could get them in trouble with the Star Trek folks, and when they decided Imperium was too big to publish, they decided to take what they had learned making Traveler and apply to StarFleet, which would now be renamed Imperium.

Anywho – the article goes on to describe the design process behind Imperium, and to also provide some rules clarifications and addenda.

I enjoyed this bit …

Whatever happened to that guy?

Distributing Eyes & Amulets in EPT by Mike Crane

One of those great articles that makes perfect sense to people who play the game. The article is just a series of random tables that makes sure “rare” eyes and amulets show up less often than “common” eyes and amulets.

The Mythos of Polynesia in Dungeons & Dragons by Jerome Arkenberg

This article covers everyone from Tangoroa, God of the Ocean, to Pele the Destroyer, to Miru, God of the Underworld. The heroes seem more interesting …

The Polynesian Heroes were born in non-human form, and were brought up by their maternal grandparents, from whom they derived their magic. When in human form, they could transform, stretch, or shrink themselves, fly, take giant strides, and perform great feats of strength.

Maui is, of course, the badass of the crew (and he happens to look like a buffoon with eight heads) – here are some stats for Blood & Treasure.

Maui, Challenger of the Gods: Magic-User 18 and Fighter 15; HP 140; AC 12; ATK 4 slams +7 (1d3+5); MV 30 (Fly 40); F 6 R 9 W 4; XP 4500; Special: Dominate foes with 0 HD or less, 4 attacks per round, spells per day (4/4/4/4/4/4/4/3/3/2); Str 20, Int 18, Wis 18, Con 18, Dex 17, Cha 3.


In this episode, Frank and Dudley abscond with one of the demon eggs to spring them on the ogres. It’s amazing how engaging this strip was right from the beginning.

D&D Variant: Another Look at Witches and Witchcraft in D&D by Ronald Pehr

Love the editor’s note:

Editor’s Note: This seems to be a well thought out class-variant. At the very least, it makes an excellent NPC or hireling/acquaintance. For those DM’s bold enough to try it, it provides a very viable character for ladies; be they sisters, girlfriends, lady gamer or others. D&D was one of the first games to appeal to females, and I for one, find it a better game because of that fact.

It manages to be both inclusive and a bit sexist at the same time.

So, what do the ladies get with this witch? It’s actually a nice class, and, I believe, the origin of the later witch class that showed up in Dragon in the 80’s. Witches here are not Satanists, but more nature lovers who use magic to charm and control – I guess what you would call an enchanter in more modern versions of the game – and who can brew potions, narcotics, hallucinogens, etc. Witches get eight levels of spells, many of them new, and they appear to straddle the normal magic-user/cleric divide.

D&D Variant: Demonology Made Easy by Gregory Rihn

This article is all about conjuring demons (and devils). The key here is learning a demon’s name, and the process is simple and clever: You research a demon or devil’s true name the same way you research a spell:

Demon prince, arch-devil = 9th level spell
Type VI, pit fiend = 8th level spell
Type V, ice devil, succubus = 7th level spell
Type IV, horned devil, night hag = 6th level spell
Type III, bone devil = 5th level spell
Type II, barbed devil = 4th level spell
Type I, erinyes, misc. = 3rd level spell

Definitely one of those, “Why the heck didn’t I think of that” moments.

Once you get down to the conjuration, you roll some percentile dice to see if what you call is what you get. Calling a demon prince, for example, has the following chances:

01-50 = Type V demon
51-75 = Type VI demon
76-00 = Demon Prince

High level conjurations require assistants and sacrifices, and there are additional chances for failure for characters below 20th level. Very good article.

GenCon XI Photo Album

Greg Costikyan of SPI … I believe I recognize the woman as Gygax’s daughter
That Gygax fellow
J Eric Holmes and his son Chris
Jeff Perren
Lou Zocchi and Woody … proving that GenCon’s best days are clearly behind it
Marc Miller
Mike Carr
Tim Kask
Tom Shaw of Avalon Hill

Review: See Africa and Die! or, Mr. Stanley, Meet Dr. Livingstone by Gary Gygax

Gygax reviews Source of the Nile here. Apparently, this is a super long play game. It is pretty extensive review, and it looks like a pretty cool game. Best line of the review:

Be certain to read and KNOW the rules before you attempt to play. The rules are not well organized, nor are they very complete. In fact, in many ways they remind me of those originally written for D&D®.

Gygax also gives some additional ideas for the game.

The Asimov Cluster by William B. Fawcett

This article discusses the problems inherent in recreating scenes from sci-fi novels in games of Traveler. It also provides stats for the planets of the Asimov Cluster from the Foundation Trilogy.

Advert for the drow modules. The drow are going to change quite a bit over the next 30 years.

Preview: The Lord of the Rings by Allen Hammack

This preview is for the Bakshi animated version (which I’ll admit I like, sue me). It mostly gathers together some stills from the movie and a few production notes from Bakshi.

It’s a Good Day to Die by Lyle Fitzgerald

This article compiles death statistics of a D&D campaign in Saskatoon. In two to three years, this campaign racked up 600 deaths of PCs and their advance-able hirelings. Wow! I know the old game was deadly (I’ve played it), but this does seem excessive. The top killers are Miscellaneous Causes (14.6 percent) and goblin races (10.1 percent). Dragons were responsible for 7.5 percent of the kills and giants 5.7 percent – respectable numbers for the big guys. War only caused 6 deaths – I guess one of the four horsemen needs to be replaced by a goblin.

War of the Ring Variant by Allen Hammack

Simple rule change – hide the movement of the fellowship so the bad guys don’t have to pretend they don’t know where they are. Honestly – can’t believe the designers didn’t think of this.

Fineous Fingers

A dragon throws a stupid paladin off a cliff. Nice tactic – fake a subdual.

Demonic Possession in the Dungeon by Chas. Sagui

This article takes the rules to task on the inability of demons to possess victims. In Chas’ rules, only demons of Type IV or higher can possess mortals. Interesting line:

The rule of the thumb is that only those demons that are immune to all but magical weapons and therefore exist upon two planes at once may possess.

One of those, “wait – is that really why, or did he just make that up?” lines.

The basic idea is that the DM let’s the players all know they might be possessed. Everyone rolls a saving throw, but only one character is really the victim. The victim is chosen “randomly” – i.e. first person into a room, last person, etc. A save vs. magic is allowed to avoid the possession.

The possessed dude has his normal AC, but attacks as the possessing demon. They cannot use lawful-aligned magic weapons. The demon can use its normal powers, provided its new body doesn’t preclude it. All damage is taken by the body, not the demon.

There’s more, but you’ll need to read the article.

Not a bad issue, really. The witch and the demon conjuration articles are my favorites. I’d recommend hunting it down.

Dragon by Dragon – April 1978 (13)

Niall armors up like a barbarian!

Dragon #13 is a mixed bag. Mostly good, a little wasted space (in my opinion of course, one man’s waste is another man’s … hmmm, that’s not going to sound right … skip it). Let’s take a look, shall we …

Tim Kask starts off with his editorial spiel, noting that this is the first of the monthly Dragons. It is also the April Fool’s edition, which we’ll regret a little later on. Gencon moves this year from the Playboy Resort in Lake Geneva (the what in where?) to the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha – they needed more room. TSR Periodicals is also planning a move to a bigger building.

Shlump Da Orc (I’m guessing that’s a nom de plume) produces a surprisingly long article on figuring out how heavy giants are and how much they can lift. In fact, it is multiple efforts to answer this pressing question (one of the ones that suggests to me D&D was already beginning the process of moving from practice to theory with some folks). One formula explains that a 30-ft. tall giant should weigh 11.75 tons, have a 16′ 9″ chest and an 8′ long torso. Would you care for the semi-official weight formula?

Anyhow … the bit on how much a giant could pick up is a bit more interesting, if for no other reason than because of the following assumptions they use about the average human:

The average person can:

1) Carry his full weight on his back
2) Hold in his arms 3/4 of his weight – dead weight that is balanceable
3) With difficulty pick up half his body weight in dead weight
4) With difficulty pick up half his body weight in a struggling animal
5) With mild difficulty pick up 1/4 of his body weight a struggling animal with two hands
6) Fairly easily pick up 1/4 of his body weight in one hand of dead weight, balanced and somewhat symmetrical

Maybe these guidelines will prove useful to you one day.

The other useful bit is the weight (pounds per cubic foot) of various substances, such as:

Aluminum: 170 pounds
Brass, Forging: 525 pounds
Copper: 560 pounds
Iron, Malleable: 450 pounds
Gold: 1,205 pounds
Platinum: 1,340 pounds
Silver: 655 pounds
Steel, Cold Rolled: 500 pounds

Agate: 160 pounds
Beeswax: 60 pounds
Bone: 110 pounds
Diamond: 200 pounds


This one actually came in quite handy for something I was just writing for NOD, and definitely will be transcribed into an Excel document for future use in my writing. Thanks 30-year old Dragon!

Rob Kuntz now treads into dangerous territory with Tolkien in Dungeons & Dragons. I’m not sure if this was pre- or post-lawsuit. This one is an official pronouncement on the “position on D&D in conjunction with other worlds of fantasy which influenced it conception and specifically to clear up the fallacious beliefs regarding Tolkien’s fantasy as the only fantasy which inspired D&D”

The article mostly boils down to “D&D does not simulate Middle Earth, nor is it intended to, so please stop your nerd-whining”. This continues to be a problem in gaming, primarily in that many people forget that these are games, which by design are about allocating scarce resources to achieve victory (which, actually, is also what life is about), and not make-believe sessions in which whatever you want to happen does.

More interesting than this article is the inset by Brian Blume The Bionic Supplement for Metamorphosis Alpha. Bonzer! Random dice roll to replace your parts with bionic bits, and what those bits do. Totally worth reproducing in its entirety:

Jon Pickens is in next with an equally awesome article – D&D Option: Demon Generation. We begin with a kick-ass piece of art …

The article gives a way to generate additional “Types” of demons, with the following assumptions – all demons have Hit Dice and Gate ability appropriate to their level, all of Level III or less are vulnerable to normal weapons, the rest being vulnerable only to magical weapons, Magic Resistance 50% at Level I, increasing by 5% per level thereafter and special abilities based on the demon’s level. The powers are divided into 6 levels, and frankly, this looks like a blueprint for a demon class. I won’t reproduce it all, but worth checking out.

Jerome Arkenberg now presents the Japanese Mythos for D&D – again, very extensive article on the gods, goddesses, monsters and heroes of Japanese myth and legend, though the info on each god/demon/hero is pretty light. If you want a super rules-lite version of D&D, imagine if all you knew about a character was his Armor Class, Hit Points, Movement Rate, Magic Ability (i.e. level of magic-user or cleric), Fighter Ability and Psionic Ability.

Up next is the April Fool’s bit – a couple pages of song parodies. The less said the better.

Tim Kask now presents WARLORD: Correcting a Few Flaws. Since I know nothing about the game, I won’t comment on the article. Sounds like a fun game, though.

Gardner F. Fox now presents The Stolen Sacrifice, another adventure of Niall of the Far Travels (not to be confused with Niall of the Just Running to the Corner for Ice).

“The man moved silently through the shadows, keeping always to the darkest places. He moved as an animal might, his body poised for instant action, a big hand on the hilt of the longsword by his side. His eyes darted from a doorway to the far corner, where the wind blew a length of scarlet silk hanging from the wall. Caution was in his great body, for he knew that should he be seen this night, death would be his reward.”

Fineous Fingers finds out that just walking up to an evil wizard’s stronghold is stupid …

Yeah, you hate him, but DM’s love him. Meanwhile, Wormy introduces barbecued dwarf burgers.

We round it out with James Ward explaining a few tricks for adventurers – the kind of things that remind you that, at least back in the day, it really was a game, meant to be played and the rules exploited.

That’s it for #13. All in all a pretty useful issue, and especially good if you enjoy Gardner Fox.

Dis, Grand City of Hell – Bureaucrats!

I have no idea which preview this is, and yeah, I’m just lazy enough not to look.

Today, we’re looking at Spades.

Originally, I had planned on spades being associated with war, but then I realized that Spades was where I had planned to place Pandaemonium, the Parliament of Hell … thus, Spades is the center of Hell’s government … thus Spades is where the most terrifying thing in the universe has to live … BUREAUCRACY!

Within the blocks and quarters represented by the suit of spades are the most terrifying edifices of Hell, where even arch-devils and demon lords fear to tread … the government offices of Dis. Devils are natural bureaucrats, and the city of Dis lays this truth bare to the world. Each block of spades is crammed full of the government offices of one ministry or another. Petitioners find themselves waiting in lines that last for days only to discover they have the wrong paperwork or should be in the adjacent line.

One cannot enter one of these quarters without showing their papers (which they almost certainly will not have). This requires they be guided to a devil that can process their claim for papers, and thus starts the insanity. In essence, the attempt to process any task in one of these quarters is the same as for finding anything in a block of Dis, and the penalty (wisdom damage) is the same.


1. Zombie bureaucrats seeking papers (and brains) (4d6)
2. Amaimon tax collectors (1d8)
3. Azizou demons on inspection (1d6)
4. Iron golems (1d8)
5. Bearded devils on patrol (1d8)
6. Random official and retinue

“My symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern.” – C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (1942)

A. Nybbas: Nybbas is the demon lord of jesters and charlatans, and he heads up the Ministry of Food & Drink, which is in charge of tasting the food of archdevils and demon lords (they use shades for that) and in arranging entertainments and diversions for the masses of Hell. Nybbas’ quarter is always in an eternal state of misrule and mayhem, and the people here play rough, seemingly getting their ideas for pranks from old cartoons (you know, the funny ones made by our grandparents’ generation).

The quarter is a carnival of capering buffoons and clowns and mad pranksters parading through blocks that may once have looked like a sinister Paris, though it is now a ruin of broken glass, splintered wood and vandalized buildings. Besides the japing shades (most of them were wicked bards, illusionists and jesters in life), the quarter is inhabited by nupperibos and lemures, who work in the diabolical bureaucracy under the direction of dretches.

Nybbas’ gate is a 10-ft. tall red door with a golden knocker in the shape of grotesque jester’s face. Touching the handle on this door sends a 6 dice electrical shock into the person who touches it. The shock acts like chain lightning. Behind this door there is a 10-ft. long tunnel that ends in a second door colored green. When one enters this door, a gallon of alkahest, the universal solvent falls from the ceiling (save or struck by disintegrate spell). Beyond the green door there is a white door; when opened, the first person who opens it is struck by a scalding hot pie in the face (6d6 points of fire damage, plus 1d6 points of damage per round thereafter until the filling is scraped off). Beyond the white door there is a chamber guarded by 1d4+4 rubber chicken golems … okay, maybe that’s taking it a bit far. Beyond the white door is the final chamber – a seeming dead-end holding a garishly colored statue of a harlequin pointing at the door through which the adventurers entered. Pulling this finger releases a stinking cloud (as the spell) and, 6 rounds later, causes the entry door to become a gate into the next quarter.

In the center of this madhouse is a grand castle reminiscent of Mad King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein castle, though Nybbas’ looks like it’s been through a tornado. The castle also serves as the ministry headquarters, where 20 companies of nupperibo and lemure bureaucrats do their best to follow the rather chaotic orders of their master. Five companies of red jesters serve as the supervisors of the ministry and Nybbas’ personal guard.

Nybbas appears as a fat man in a comfortable throne flanked by two fiendish giant hyenas. His court is filled with red jesters and shades forced to laugh eternally at stale old jokes and cruel pranks. Everyone entering the room must pass a saving throw each turn or be struck by hideous laughter. Nybbas has a moon-like face, glistening eyes that burn with an infernal passion and thin lips curved into a grotesque smile. He holds a traditional jester’s marotte tipped with a grimacing skull with living eyes.

NYBBAS: HD 15 (80 hp); AC -6 [25]; Atk 1 slam (2d10) or marotte (1d12 + save vs. hideous laughter); Move 6; Save 3; CL/XP 23/5300; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, magic resistance 76%, immune to fire and poison, spells (dream, nightmare, hideous laughter, stinking cloud), summon 1d6 red jesters 1/day.

4. Chadper: Chadper is the Minister of Internal Revenues and perhaps the only demon in Hell more feared by other demons than by shades and mortal visitors. He and his tormentor demons, with their hell hounds, collect the tributes owed to Lucifer, in soul coinage and shades, by the other demons of Hell, down to the lowliest lemure.

The entire quarter is composed of black streets of smooth obsidian and buildings of the same material – all of it seemingly carved from a great block of the material and smoothed as though by burning sands. The only shades in Chadper’s domain are those collected for Lucifer and meant to be doled back out to the demon lords and arch-devils to reward their loyal service. They might be found in long chain gangs heading into or out of the city, but most often are kept in deep, stifling pits awaiting an accounting. These pits are guarded by squadrons of erinyes, who perch on the buildings above, slinging the odd dart or rebuke into the pits to keep the shades quiet. Chadper detests noise, and demands almost complete silence throughout his domain. All communication is by whisper or hand signal, and those who break this commandment are immediately set upon by a squadron of silenced tormentor devils and summarily executed.

The gates of Chadper’s domain are composed of the same obsidian as the rest of the domain, and consist of long tunnels with low ceilings (10-ft.) upheld by rows of pillars (20) carved into the shape of grotesque minotaurs. The gates are completely silenced, and rarely passed through save by captive shades, tormentors carrying back tributes, or demons and devils (including lords) coming hat in hand to beg forgiveness from Chadper and pay their taxes. The gates are guarded by obsidian golems, who merely masquerade as the grotesque pillars. Folk who enter the gate areas can be teleported by Chadper into his throne room as he desires, once per day.

Chadper’s great chancery is an obsidian cube, unadorned, with tiny doorways marked in silver tracery on the ground level of each face. Within are 1,000 joined courts where the tribute of Hell is counted, re-counted, certified and then, by the direction of Lucifer, doled back out. Chadper has no lair, per se’, but merely travels from court to court, accompanied by a squadron of tormentor devil guards, directing the dretches who serve him. He commands 8 companies of dretches and 20 companies of tormentor devils, making him among the most powerful devils in Hell. He can also sic a dozen hounds of Chronos on those defy him or refuse to submit to his summons.

Chadper appears as a faintly glowing angel with a twisted, atrophied face and two large, saucer-like ears that permit him to hear, per clairaudience, anything said in Hell. He wears black robes and a black breastplate and carries a +3 glaive that opens bleeding wounds (1d6 hit points per round until healed) in its victims. Those who die from these wounds rise up as vampires under his control.

CHADPER: HD 20 (101 hp); AC -5 [24]; Atk 1 glaive (3d4+3 + bleeding wounds); Move 18 (F24); Save 3; CL/XP 31/7700; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, magic resistance 35%, immune to fire and poison, spells as 15th level cleric, double damage from sonic attacks and saves at -2 vs. sonic effects, control stirges and vampires, change into death fog (double strength) 1/day, summon 2d4 vampires or 1d4 stirge demons 1/day.

9. Leonard: Leonard, or Master Leonard, is also known as the “Black Goat” and serves as the Inspector General of Hell. His quarter appears to be a place of Renaissance splendor – broad avenues of azure stone flanked by white trees and buildings of peuce and tourmaline with ornamental iron work and gold filigree around the doors. Promenading through the streets are shades dressed in finery, with large, ribboned hats on the women and fine, ebony sticks in the hands of the men. All of these shades are mere illusion, and the buildings, though pretty, are all empty.

Underneath the streets the demons of the Inspector General do their work, in labyrinthine dungeon corridors were every torture known to demon is employed to root out opposition to Lucifer. The practitioners of the torture are 16 companies of azizou, who have a special knack for the work, while another 8 companies of barizou skulk about Dis seeking out disloyalty and inefficiency.

The gates of the quarter are located above ground, and are flanked by an honor guard of 60 manes demons in gleaming, golden armor, with hundreds of pretty, fluttering pennons on long pikes, each one topped by a bleeding, moaning head. The gates are curtains of acid (6d6 points of damage when walked through – save for half – and 1d6 points of damage each round thereafter (for 10 rounds) until neutralized with salt – eats flesh, stone and all metals except silver, gold and platinum). The curtains of acid are drawn aside to allow people to pass when Leonard wants them followed by his geruzou demons.

Leonard’s lair is deep within the dungeons under the streets, in a fortress of solid blue jade (3-ft. thick walls) called the Hall of Injustice. The Hall has many pitfalls and is guarded by a company of mehrim (goat demons). Leonard can be found in a scrying chamber, which allows him, via hundreds of floating crystal spheres, to see through the eyes of all of his servants.

LEONARD: HD 17 (101 hp); AC -1 [20]; Atk 1 touch (save or lose half hit points) or rapier (2d4+2 + 1d6 electricity); Move 18; Save 3; CL/XP 26/6200; Special: +2 or better weapon, magic resistance 85%, immune to electricity, petrification, poison and mind effects, cast spells as 11th level cleric and magic-user, teleport with error 3/day, scry (as with crystal ball) 3/day, summon 1d6 mehrim demons 1/day.

Dis, Grand City of Hell – Asteroth and Natijula

Still plugging away. I’m working on “spades” tonight, which I was going to have revolve around violence, but then got my head out of my butt and realized needed to revolve around bureaucracy. How could I have missed that? Anyhow … enjoy some crazy diamonds.

2. Natijula: This block is as hot as an oven, with brick buildings of bright red, with flint roofs and wrought iron accoutrements that give it the appearance of a Hellish New Orleans. The buildings hold bakeries of hellstoker demons producing ashen loaves and deadly delicacies, café’s that serve scalding coffee and bitter tea and every sort of restaurant and tavern. In the streets there are fire pits on which are roasted stench kows and other hellbeasts. These pits are tended by lemures whose flesh drips into the pits, the fire hissing and sending up gouts of steam that become sinister steam mephits. Zombified shades in silk finery walk the streets selling wine from casks on their backs or giant rats on iron skewers.

The gates of Natijula are tall and composed of ivory-colored stone with steep battlements and blue, conical roofs. The battlements and towers that flank the gates of thick, bluish wood, are defended by a company of anti-paladins sans heads. Behind the gates are hidden a giant ballista, cranked by a stone giant in black platemail and armed with a giant halberd.

Natijula, the self-proclaimed Lady of Agony, is an inhumanly tall woman with an hourglass figure. Her head is bald and she has deep-set green eyes. Her body is covered in golden scales and she wears a classic chainmail bikini and many rings on her fingers and toes. Two massive eagle wings sprout from her back, and she has the ability to take the shape of a roc.

Her “palace” is a great courtyard paved with azure stones and filled with long tables where all manner of demons and devils feast, served by emaciated halfling shades weighed down by iron boots. About 1 hour in 6 is filled with a melee between the demons and devils, always over something trivial, but always fought to the death. Natijula has a deep, abiding hatred for all Mephistopholes (they’ve had dealings in the past), and will do everything in her power to oppose him and his servants.

5. Liro: This quarter is reminiscent of Venice, with many canals of water, Stygian black, cutting through the Renaissance-style buildings of glistening, slick black stone with silver highlights and ornaments; the tarnished domes, the thin bell towers with their black, iron bells that, when struck, cast a deafening silence over the quarter (save or deaf) and their crooked piazzas of spongy stone that spurt blood as one walks over them. Floating above the streets are ghostly shades engaged in a never-ending dance and cavorting in the heady fumes dispatched from great, silver braziers that line the streets and produce no light or heat, only a thick, white smoke that stings the nostrils.

Within the canals there float black lotus that attract ill-tempered sprites, and on great burgundy lilly pads there sit black-fleshed hezrous, fat and self-satisfied, eyes drowsy and glazed, thick purple tongues darting about, capturing screaming sprites and sending them to a terrible death in their bellies.

Leather goods are the business of this quarter, leather drawn from every creature imaginable. Some shops sell the prepared hides, while others fashion them into suits of armor (always of the finest quality), scabbards, boots, saddles, cloaks and other goods. Leprechauns handle most of the fancy craftwork, the other goods being imported from other quarters.

The gates of the quarter are located about 20 feet below the surface of these waters – quite a surprise to those who have entered through a normal gate from elsewhere – and are secured by walls of ice one foot thick. Swarms of giant piranha guard the gates, under the seeming command of the hezrou, who make some effort not to displease the mistress of the quarter.

Liro’s palace is set between three of these canals, giving it a triangular shape. It is the most imposing building in the quarter. It is a gracious affair, though much of that grace is robbed of the place by the tempestuous behavior of Liro. Liro is a short, elegant, petite demoness with dark, ruddy skin that is slightly scaled around the hands, feet, shoulders, neck and eyes. Her eyes are teal in color and appear to be looking directly into the eyes of every person within 30 feet of her (even those behind, who see her as facing the other direction). She wears only a cloak of tiny, triangular gold panels and a diadem of gold and pearl. She is surrounded by a pall of the same stinging white smoke that issues forth from the braziers on the streets, though this acts as the death fog spell. Liro is always accompanied by a guard of chittering rubinous xaocs, visitors to Hell who find it entirely too stifling and staid for their tastes.

J. Astaroth: Astaroth is a prince of Hell, and through the markets of his quarter flow spices, narcotics and other such substances sought after by the manors of the demon lords and arch-devils. Astaroth’s quarter is a maze of zigzagging corridors between ziggurats of iron and marble, atop of which pit fiends on thrones of fire roar defiance to the assembled masses of bearded devils who cluster at their feet.

The streets are lined with walls covered with blue tiles and mosaics of serpent people, demonic lions, pit fiends and great battles between devils and demons, all with the bodies of mortals trampled beneath them. Alcoves are set into these walls wherein sit wrinkled, pot-bellied shades wrapped in tattered, dusty azure robes. Before them are spread shallow wicker baskets filled with all manner of herbs, spices and narcotics. Anything you could want, at tremendously high prices, though they will sell almost anything for a drop of a person’s blood. Mangy camels covered with oozing sores, some with leathery bat wings, are led through the dusty streets, laden with goods from the world above, or with the bodies of shades in need of correction and punishment. The everpresent buzz of fly demons can be heard above, the demons swarming over the streets and sometimes swooping down to pluck up a shade, camel or traveler for a quick meal (i.e. 1 in 6 random encounters is with 1d8 fly demons).

The streets are patrolled by scorpion demon magistrates, on the lookout for double dealing and a cut of the proceeds of the shades’ business. They serve Astaroth as his enforcers in his quarter, keeping the spice lords (there are several) under control. Among them are Tizu the hezrou who controls the opium trade, Mosheveti the marilith who controls the supply of saffron and white pepper and Vucarik, the pit fiend who controls the flow of honey. These lords dwell in the ziggurats with their retinues.

The gates of Astaroth’s quarter are numerous, though most of them are false. Finding a gate in this quarter can always be accomplished in 1d3 hours of travel, but only 1 in 4 found gates is genuine. False gates drop people into deep pits lined with burning coal, where they are roasted alive. All of the gates are guarded by twin sirrush and a company of bearded devils armed with mancatchers and heavy crossbows that fire spiked spheres. When these spheres hit a person, they discharge an electrical shock that deals 1d6 points of damage and paralysis for 1d6 rounds (save to negate).

Astaroth dwells in the largest of the quarter’s ziggurats, one surrounded by a moat of mercury (those passing over must pass a saving throw or lose 1d6 points of wisdom and suffer confusion for 10 minutes). Within the ziggurat there is a grand palace of chambers thick with painted columns and deep pools of icy water inhabited by bound water elementals which Astaroth can shape into the form of beautiful women who dance seductively for the arch-devil and his court of pseudo-intellectuals. Astaroth commands three squadrons of inquisitor demons (xxx), five companies of scorpion demons and ten companies of bearded devils. Astaroth is mounted upon a wolf-headed black dragon so ancient it may predate Hell itself.

Dis, Grand City of Hell – Slums

This one took me a while. I couldn’t map it, couldn’t treat it just like any other city (it was too large to do it justice with a few shops and such) and needed to find a reason for characters to wander around a bit. I think (or hope) I finally cracked it.

Dis is like a collection of cities, which will still be represented on cards, that connect with one another – kinda like they predict the great eastern megalopolis of Boston – New York – Philadephia will be one day. Each of these cities/blocks/quarters is ruled by a separate demon or devil lord, and each is like a prison with heavily guarded gates. The only way to get through a gate besides fighting through it is to gain a brass seal from the lord of the place, and that means doing a favor (rolled randomly). This creates a reason to move about and explore – finding the other demon lord that has to be parlayed with / killed / paid tribute to etc.

Escape from one block to another is one thing. How about escape from Dis. The city of Dis just sprawls – it has no beginning and no end. Nobody can simply walk through it and get to the next circle of Hell. To escape, one must summon Geryon for a lift, and to do that, they need a silver seal from one of the more powerful lords of Hell, represented by the Jacks, Queens and Kings of the deck. Getting in to see them requires seals from at least three of the demon lords under them (i.e. of the same suit). The whole point is to draw players into the politics of Hell and, hopefully, produce a fun experience.

With that said, here’s a sample of some of the quarters in the suit of Clubs, the suit of toil and despair.


The buildings in this block are tall and irregular, and covered in a greasy sheen that stinks of rotting flesh. Those who enter the block must save as though facing the noxious stink of troglodytes. The streets are narrow and twisted, and every so often empty into vast, circular courts. These courts are flurries of activity, as manes demons scurry about, tossing writhing mortals and shades into a pit, about 30 feet in diameter, of boiling liquid. Bearded devils armed with iron staves push these poor souls back into the pit when they try to escape. Other bearded devils are in charge of ladling off the greasy slime that these people are rendered into, scooping it into large black barrels carried on the backs of manes demons. These barrels are loaded on carts when they are full and delivered to other blocks for processing.

The gates of Borbazu’s block are composed of a vast weave of skeletons. Above the gates, bearded devils man great pots of boiling oil to pour through murder holes that send a great spray down before the gates (all within 30 feet of a gate must pass a saving throw or suffer 3d6 points of damage from the boiling oil). In towers that flank the gates there are 40 manes demons armed with heavy crossbows ready to send a volley of bolts down on invaders. Each gate is under the command of a barbed devil armed with a chain that ends in a three-pronged meat hook. If an attack with a chain beats an opponent’s AC by 5 or more, it hooks into their flesh and holds them until removed with a successful bend bars check (which inflicts an additional 1d6 points of damage). The skeletons of the gates can deliver 1d6 attacks to any within reach, trying to grab and hold intruders rather than kill them.

Borbazu, a minor lord of Dis, rules this block. He takes the form of a towering serpent of pallid flesh (not scales) that dwells beneath the block. He can emerge from any of the flesh pits scattered through the city. Borbazu can also assume the form of a ruddy-skinned, boyish warrior, handsome, but with vestigial horns and a lenonine mane. This form has aquamarine eyes and wears white robes. In this form, Borbazu can form metal objects of up to man-sized with the merest thought.


This block consists of crooked buildings made of pale, sweaty stone. The buildings hang over the streets, making the air close and stifling, though at odd intervals blazing hot winds whip through these corridors. The walls are spiked, and the doors are all clad in green copper. The streets sometimes empty into pit-like courts with ophidian designs carved into the sides, and winding ramps that lead down into the courts.

The gates of Caila’s block are all at the end of cramped streets, and consist of circular doors. The doors are coated in deadly poison, and touching the doors causes the spikes in the nearby buildings to fire (1d6 poisoned dart attacks, 1d6 points of damage from each). The buildings on either side of the street hold a company each of bearded devils. Behind each door, a purple worm lurks, waiting to lurch out and swallow people whole.

One of the courts is entered via a bronze arch hung with crystal beads that cut one’s flesh like razors and whisper portents of doom into their ears. The court’s walls are set with dozens of little windows covered by shutters painted with images of demons or devils, others with shocking scenes of hopelessness and despair. Behind each of these windows is an oracle who can give one piece of information, provided the questioner passes their palm with an equally valuable piece of information written on a parcel of their own flesh. The oracle reaches their hand through the shutter (as in incorporeally) to retrieve their payment and then reaches back out with a tiny scroll containing the desired information.

Within sight of this alley is the jagged red tower of Caila the Judge. The upper portions of the 10-story tower are circled by a guard of young red dragons. The tower’s interior is as red as the exterior, with ornaments of carnelian, ruby and bloodstone. Movement from one level to the other is via teleporting cabinets, though some of the cabinets in the tower instead fill with poison gas or spears that leap up from the floor.

Caila is a short, leggy demoness with blue-black skin that bristles into barbed scales when she is excited. She has almond-shaped eyes of azure. She surrounds herself with artists, who she can inspire with her gaze, replacing a portion of their soul with her own. Caila can summon 1d6 fiendish giant scorpions three times per day and can assume the form of a giant scorpion once per day.


Malphas is both a prince of Hell and a grand president, and he is the patron of architects and masons. As one might imaging, his sprawling block is composed entirely of stone buildings, and everyone a piece of art. Cathedrals, strongholds, towers, all ornamented with flying buttresses, fanciful water spouts, bridges, tunnels, fountains, statuary, veritable skyscrapers; amazing and very difficult to navigate, as it is so crowded and the streets so narrow. Construction is constant here, with bits of masonry sent falling to the ground at random intervals (1 in 6 random encounters forces adventurers to pass a saving throw or suffer 4d6 points of damage).

The gates of Malphas’ quarter are great strongholds, ten stories tall, with perfectly straight and smooth walls. They are patrolled by his gargoyles (three companies are assigned to each gate) and barred by wooden portcullises that instantly rust any metal that touches them. Within each gatehouse tunnel, Malphas’ soldiers can pour green slime on invaders and deliver fusillades of poisoned darts.

Malphas occupies the grandest cathedral in his domain, a veritable demon-made mountain of stone, all of it rare and expensive, with spires that defy gravity. Within this monument he houses the remainder of his infernal army and keeps a population of slaves, artisans (he has bargained for the soul of many great artists and can summon them at will) and priests. He sits at the center of a maze of passages, all trapped and well-guarded, for Malphas is paranoid in the extreme.

Malphas appears as a crow, but can be induced sometimes to take the form of a handsome humanoid with blue-black skin and curved, golden horns. In either form, he carries a mason’s trowel, which attacks as a +2 battleaxe, can cleave through any stone, cast disintegrate and earthquake once per day and can, at will, transmute rock to mud and mud to rock. Malphas is always at war with one demon lord or another, and is always in the market for spies.

Gehenna – Besieged Towns and Ruby Cities

Probably the last Gehenna preview until NOD 13 hits the virtual shelves – having an extra day this February is going to help. Other articles slated for lucky number 13 include Shades of Red (the variant red dragons), Hero vs. Villain (stats for Zanzibar the magician and the speed demon Greymalkin – and an adventure seed as well), a crop of Demon Lords, Epic Journeys (a series that will lay out the concept of a 1st level to 20th level campaign centered around an epic level monster, in this case the Anaxim), the rules to my card game Greatsword, the Evolutionary PC class (with some sweet art) and a few new magic helms.

On to the preview …

Fly Man of Abaddon by Ndege Diamond – not in this preview

80.28 Nathox: Nathox was once a splendid town of 1,000 Xshayathian ophidians under the command of the glabrezu Keirzer the Dreadful. It is now besieged by an army of demonic centaurs and erinyes that marched into Gehenna from Stygia. Powerful magics from the centaurs and their leader, Erichtho (Mage 17; 43 hp), the Stygian witch and a servant of mighty Dagon, Prince of Stygia, who seeks the soul of the damsel Beatrice, stolen by rebel erinyes.

Erichtho wields the horn of an ancient white wyrm, using it to freeze the once blazing city, encasing the walls in ice and causing all of the fires in the city to sputter and die – they now produce nothing but thick, acrid smoke.

87.76 Black Dogs: This hex is patrolled by packs of gaunt, black dogs. The dogs are about the size of terriers and are capable of emitting a terrible shriek before attacking (save vs. fear or flee for you drop). The strange beasts are only harmed by holy symbols (which are pretty pathetic weapons) and divine magic. They have 90% resistance to arcane magic and even magic weapons only harm them 90% of the time. The dogs were summoned by an unfortunate wizard using a small book bound in black leather. The book was stolen from the camp of Paymon, and may contain other weird summonings.

88.73 Monastery of Madness: There is a monastery here that looks like it might have been dreamed up by Salvadore Dali – all abstract shapes and weird lines. The monastery is dedicated to Azathoth, the Slaad Lord of Madness, and is staffed by a priesthood of walking slimes and overseen by a balor demon called Karum, Bringer of Madness. Karum looks as though his flesh is melting from his body, and he leaves a trail of slime that, if it puddles, has a 1 in 6 chance per turn of animating as yet another walking slime.

At the heart of the monastery, if one can find it through the shifting corridors and many pit falls, there is an idol in the form of a black sphere that gives off a strange humming noise (like a theramin) and great arcs of electricity (1 in 6 chance per round of striking a random person within 30 feet with a 3 dice lightning bolt that also steals their soul unless they pass a saving throw). Rumors speak of a vault beneath the idol holding all manner of relics and riches.

The idol is surrounded, at a distance of 35 feet, by six hepatizon pedestals. A thief can work out that they are triggers that must be weighted down with 100 lb. each to be triggered. If this is done, the would-be tomb robbers get a nasty surprise. Instead of discovering a treasure vault, they instead are drained of 1d4 levels, their life energy passing into the black sphere, which shatters and is sucked inward into a umbral blot that has been summoned to wreak havoc in Hell in service to mighty Azathoth.

92.42 Calepp: Calepp is a grand city of ruby spires inhabited by the 1,000 Lamuresti elves. The city is constructed of ruby-colored crystal and blocks of brass, each one a bas-relief of a beauteous elf. From the walls of Calepp, the elves sing terrible chants that echo across the metallic sands, mourning the kidnap of the Princess Ninsab, daughter of King Barimu (Fighter/Mage 10; 36 hp).

The elves are especially enraged that Barimu has launched no counter attack against the gnolls [90.76] who took her. He is currently enchanted by Eshkit (Duelist 11; 35 hp), a rakish woman who is actually a doppelganger in service to Mammon, sent to spy on these elves who worship Mulciber above all other demons. She has carried a magical garnet into the city and has secreted it in Barimu’s treasure chamber. The accursed garnet has not only stolen Barimu’s heart and will, but is spreading a wasting curse (per mummy rot) through the elves of the city.

Gehenna – Introduction

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.