Currently Recognized Layer Number: 113 Name: Thanatos Ruler: Orcus Properties: minor negative-dominant
Death is easy to find in The Abyss, even if its ultimate cause can be subtle. It can come about through mere physical destruction, whether from being frozen within the Iron Wastes, utterly dissolved within Shedaklah, annihilated in Abaddon, The Bottomless Pit, or simply ripped apart and devoured by demons. However, there is one layer of The Abyss most prominent among those that offer far worse than death of the body. There, death is merely a transition into a more deplorable state. There, an endless morass of hatred and suffering is aimed at reminding its victims of the one thing that they will never truly have again: life. There, the living are an alien presence greeted with nothing but loathing and raw hunger. Only the most twisted mortals and demons that are themselves purveyors of the curse of unlife truly consider this place home. It is both the dwelling place of undeath's creator and its epitome: Thanatos.
Every aspect of Thanatos represents implacable hostility towards the living. The air is too thin to sustain mortal life in any conventional sense yet it carries the moans and hisses of the dead with ease, as well as the occasional screams of living prey that is captured and devoured like a fine delicacy at best, and preserved alive in order to be used or transformed by the undead at worst. The chill of the grave quickly makes itself felt upon flesh and soul. Thanatos, often referred to as the Belly of Death or the Mausoleum of Hate, is a vast, shattered land consisting of fields of rubble and barren rock, labyrinthine graveyards, and catacombs only interrupted by sanguinary glaciers and rivers, causing the layer to stink of the coppery aroma of fresh blood and death.
Overhead, a blood red moon fills most of the sky, changing phases randomly, providing rare and spotty moonlight to the layer and barely breaking its darkness. During the few hours of the “day” when it is missing, a baleful, heatless light emanates from above, bathing Thanatos in crimson illumination that allows one to see the layer’s most distinctive and deadly feature: its nigh-uncountable varieties and swarms of undead. Restless dead of almost every conceivable variety, some of which are unique to the dwelling place of The Goat, can be found here. The least powerful or intelligent among them often gather in hordes numbering many thousands, creating valleys of ghouls, legions of shambling zombies, and clouds of shadows and other incorporeal undead large enough to blot out the moon itself. The more powerful and willful of the restless dead build bizarre necropoli where they engage in quests to extract ever more necromantic power for themselves.
Thanatos is apparently a fairly old layer of The Abyss, although scholars fail to agree as to its origins. The earliest tomes that describe a layer vaguely resembling it record a vast, rocky plain haunted by cloudlike demons whose attacks were tainted by oblivion itself. Once Orcus spawned as a demon prince, one of his first acts in controlling Thanatos was allegedly to cause the skies themselves to rain freezing blood for untold years, until the layer came to resemble its current form, if only as a foundation from which he would extract even greater horrors later. Other scholars claim that Thanatos was spawned from the first worlds that Orcus condemned to the suffering of unlife in their entirety.
Direction in Thanatos is indicated relative to three different major landmarks: the Final Hills, the Sea of Blood, and the River Styx. The Final Hills encircle Everlost where The Goat mostly resides and the Bone Meal Desert, also known as Oblivion's End. However, as one of the more bizarre geographical features of a Realm Beyond where the terrain itself can respond to the whims of its twisted masters, no matter how far any being travels parallel to the Final Hills, they seem to extend themselves so as to maintain the same separation between The Goat's necropolis and the rest of Thanatos. The Styx flows from a subterranean source in the Final Hills down to the Sea of Blood, and direction is generally indicated as to whether a necropolis or location lies on the left or right bank of the River of Sins while facing the Final Hills.
Unfortunately for its untold victims, Thanatos is comparatively easy to enter. The majority of portals into the Belly of Death can be freely accessed by the restless dead; living creatures can also freely enter if they are in the presence of at least one undead creature. Another common means by which Thanatos portals can be opened is through blood spilled with murderous intent in their immediate vicinity (50 ft.). Finally, portals may also be entered by beings that have used magic to simulate undeath, possess undead grafts, or are otherwise infused with the energies of the unliving. In addition to philosophical reasons, the ease of entering Thanatos also makes it a popular destination for the Dustmen and groups of similar interests – particularly if they are hunted and need a place to hide where most would fear to follow them. Generally, these personages have little involvement in the fierce and lethal rivalries of the Mausoleum of Hate and exist on either the physical or political margins of the necropoli, understanding quite well that they are barely tolerated. Knowledge (the planes) DC Sample Information Acquired 25 Thanatos is ruled by Orcus. It is minor-negative dominant, and otherwise deeply hostile to the living. The layer's portal on Pazunia can be accessed through spilled blood or the presence of an undead creature. 30 The most prominent denizens of Thanatos reside in necropoli. Among the better known necropoli are the City of Straight Curves, Everlost, Golmin Thur, Lachrymosa, Lash Embrar, Naratyr, Orcusgate, and Vadrian. 35 Each necropolis presents special hazards even beyond their ability to create specific varieties of undead from those mortals that die within their boundaries. When you successfully make this check, you become aware of the specific hazards of each necropolis, as well as the better known regions between them such as The Bone Meal Desert or the Sea of Blood. You can also become aware of what types of undead are produced by dying in each kind of region. 45 With the exception of Everlost (where Orcus himself resides) and Vadrian, necropoli are factionalized. The pre-eminent beings in the necropoli are Glursidval, Harthoon, Glyphimhor, and Nilos. Furthermore, you realize that the necropoli themselves are not geographically unified either, and know the names and approximate locations of the better known districts. 55 The two most prominent factions in Thanatos are the liches of Harthoon, and the undead/demons of Glyphimhor. These two factions have minions within most of the major necropoli, and spies or other beings to act upon their hungers and lusts for power elsewhere. 65 With the exception of Vadrian, beings within each necropolis have rivals. You are aware of their names, their general agendas, and have some idea where these rivals can be found within their respective city of the dead.
Thanatos can be considered to possess the following geographical features and properties:
The Final Hills: Though flight and teleportation are easy methods of entry, Everlost can only be reached by land in two ways, both of which are extremely dangerous. The best known consists of traversing the Final Hills; a low mountain range composed entirely of broken and shattered headstones and filled with a series of narrow passes infamous for their sheer number and variety of incorporeal undead. Beyond the greater shadows, dread wraiths, umbral creatures (LM), crimson death mists (MMII) and other horrors residing within the Final Hills, these paths are also threatened by the Reality of Oblivion’s touch more than almost any other place in the Mausoleum of Hate. A constant stream of minor earthquakes and fumaroles from which clouds of disease-inflicting gas infused with negative energy constantly vent are the results of this influence. Any living creature which inhales these vapors, in addition to taking 6d6 points of negative energy damage per round, must also make a Fort save DC 60 or else catch life blindness (see Book of Vile Darkness). Reaching Everlost through the Final Hills typically takes three days by mortal reckoning, and living creatures that die within The Final Hills arise from the dead as greater shadows of equivalent hit die to their class levels, or as umbral creatures.
Sea of Blood: Although Thanatos proper does not connect to the Styx throughout its entirety, the places where the blood-seas are exposed to the frigid air but have not frozen solid present their own dangers. Horrible undead monstrosities live within the blood; a physical manifestation of the death and suffering that The Goat has spread throughout Creation as he slaughtered the living. Corpse Styx dragons (Draconomicon) and far worse things that may even be older than Orcus' dominion over the layer swim within its opaque depths, bent to his will since his rise to power. In addition to the normal dangers presented by drowning in the blood, it deals 5d6 points of negative energy damage upon direct contact, and 20d6 points of negative energy damage upon full immersion (Fort save DC 60 for half damage) per round. Half of the damage inflicted by either contact or immersion is pure vile damage, and cannot be healed except upon consecrated ground. Undead creatures are immune to the Sea of Blood's power to inflict vile damage upon all other beings. Mortals that die within the Sea of Blood arise as drowned (MMIII) with full hp and equivalent HD to their original total character level, drenched in ever-dripping blood.
The Styx: A branch of The Styx enters Thanatos and meanders across much of its territory until finally entering the Sea of Blood about a day's travel away from Naratyr. Due to the layer's geography, normal means of Stygian travel are typically unavailable. Orcus generally despises daemons, and icing the Styx over throughout most of its course in Thanatos was an act he performed relatively soon after establishing total control over the Mausoleum of Hate. Still, in some places where the Styx flows underneath the glaciated blood and through catacomb-grottoes, rare marraenodaemons can offer at least some transport to those who can afford their rates, and piscodemons have been known to use its foul waters to spy either for those serving The Goat or for his enemies depending on who is currently offering them more wealth. The Styx is not unusually potent within Thanatos and the Will save DC in order to avoid memory loss is 25.
The City of Corpses Everlost Golmin Thur Lachrymosa Lash Embrar Vadrian
Chill of the Grave: The chill of the grave threatens to overwhelm all but the dead themselves in Thanatos. The layer is treated as unearthly cold to living creatures, dealing 2d6 points of cold damage per minute without a save.
Minor Negative Dominant: The vast majority of Thanatos is minor negative-dominant, dealing 1d6 points of negative energy damage per minute to any living creature within its borders. However, this is not always the case. In certain areas – usually, but not always, those of great importance – the Belly of Death is major negative-dominant, while in other locations — often those places (few as they are) Orcus finds it necessary to allow mortals or positive energy access – the layer is not negative-dominant at all. The Demon Prince of the Undead can change the degree of negative-dominance in a particular area at his whim. Such changes take one minute per square mile and gradually take effect 2d4 minutes after Orcus' will influences the layer.
Thin Air: Thanatos is treated as high peak terrain for the purposes of inflicting altitude sickness and fatigue upon creatures that need to breathe, save that the Fortitude saves must be made once every hour instead of once every six hours.
Undeath’s Dues: Any mortal that dies within Thanatos arises as an undead creature within 1d6 minutes of death. Any attempt to bring an undead creature back into life within Thanatos requires a caster level check (DC 76) in order to be successful. Far more disturbing and lethal is that bringing a living creature back from the dead within Thanatos also alerts every undead creature within a 14 mile radius of the successful resurrection. The restless dead will almost always send minions to punish those responsible for not only bringing the hated presence of life into Thanatos, but undoing the layer's efforts to expunge it. Preventing this secondary effect requires a successful rank check against Orcus. Failing such attempts causes the mortal to instead arise from the dead as a mane adapted to the layer's hostile conditions. These wretched souls are usually herded by the chasme also capable of surviving Thanatos and loyal to Sleepless to the nearest Blood War battlefield. As a manifestation of Orcus' massive power over undeath, not all regions condemn those who fall within Thanatos to arise as the same types of undead. Each necropolis, valley, and sea has its own unique combination of undead creatures that arises as a consequence of death within its bounds. This is denoted in each specific entry.
- Citadel Osteous: Perhaps the most infamous passageway into The Goat’s realm is found within the Plane of Infinite Portals. Like most of the prominent portals in Pazunia, it is surrounded by a massive fortress. This fortress, known as Osteous, appears as a half-buried skull constructed out of bone, submerged up to the upper jaw in the rust-red soil of The Abyss' first layer. The eyesockets and other apertures are closed by peculiar, rippling windows made of magically enchanted blood. These macabre barriers reflect bizarre, undead semblances of any beings that gazes within them–if not far more disturbing and morbid imagery. For those foolish or mad enough to brave the malice of Osteous' guardian and the power of its other denizens, it is always located at least six days travel from the Chasm leading into The Grand Abyss; thus, only the truly powerful or truly desperate use mundane physical means to reach the portal. While there are many paths into Thanatos besides its primary portal in Pazunia, one thing remains constant regardless of which path one takes: few do not quickly regret their decision to enter, and even fewer escape to tell the tale.
- Ptaliss: Because of Pazunia's connections to the Land of Dreams, Osteous possesses a unique guardian: an ancient and vicious ghost whose identity has all but lost to the living save its name: Ptaliss. Trapped against its will to remain within the fortress for all eternity, Ptaliss was believed to have been cursed to haunt Osteous as punishment for a long-forgotten transgression committed against Orcus in a distant past.
So tenacious was her presence and malice, that even Kiaransalee's attempts to get rid of the ghost were met with overwhelming disaster. Whenever the Revenancer attempted to purge Ptaliss, the ghost simply reappeared, for while the demon that was Orcus was dead, the sins of her son still persisted as well as her tortured existence. Unable to sever Ptaliss’ spiteful grip on reality–and ignorant of the source of the shade’s angst, Kiaransalee’s attempts to destroy the fortress likewise failed when it somehow managed to rebuild itself through the ghost's power. Incapable of permanently annihilating either Ptaliss or Osteous, Kiaransalee eventually settled on building a fortress of her own–though, upon Orcus’ triumphant return to The Abyss, her fortress did not fare as well.
As one of the few ‘survivors’ of the Revenancer’s Purge, Ptaliss, in a perverse way, is now accounted as one of Orcus' most 'loyal' servants. Consequently, few and far between are those who make it to Osteous’ portal, save it be the will of The Goat–for nothing short of his own will can shield those who wish to enter from the ghost’s dreadful wrath.