Currently Recognized Layer Number: 4 Name: The Grand Abyss/The Cesspool Ruler: None Normal Gravity Normal Time
Although Pazunia is the best known means by which lower levels of The Abyss may be accessed, it is hardly the only layer with extensive connections to the rest of the Torments. A far more ancient method is The Grand Abyss; a vast chasm dating back to the period in which the power of the qlippothim was at its peak both in The Abyss and within the rest of Creation.
The Grand Abyss was first excavated by Tharzax, the Demon Lord of All That Crawls at the beginning of the qlippothic dominance. The acts of expanding the layer physically also expanded its possibilities spiritually until it became simultaneously a boundless chasm and yet one which had the potential to connect myriad other layers to itself, allowing Tharzax to flood those other layers with tides of insectile and qlippothic monstrosities to expand its power. However, it did not retain control over the layer for particularly long despite its ambitions. Others both among the qlippothim and those rare yaldabaoth that survived the Circle of Law's efforts effectively diminished its power. Given a choice between challenging the still vast power of Obox-Ob, the Demon Prince of the Lost, and the rising power of both Chaos and the Queen of Chaos, given that both factions wanted a much greater role in The Grand Abyss, Tharzax chose to retreat from it to preserve both its own life and its own power. As Chaos and his consorts gained power in The Abyss, The Grand Abyss was a powerful weapon for them and those qlippothic lords and princes on their 'side'. It gave them great advantanges in reaching new layers of The Abyss, and slaughtering rivals or otherwise convincing them to attack law instead of slaughtering each other.
During this period, the layer was given much of its current form, as iron doors and other protections were inlaid into the dull, reddish-black simulated rock to block access to the portals by rivals where the insectile horrors of Tharzax had once used bare tunnels with no ornamentation. However, The Grand Abyss has always been contested. Vast battles were fought there even during the qlippothic period.
The end of the Second War of Law and Chaos ended much of the struggle surrounding The Grand Abyss temporarily with the deaths and inactivity of most of the qlippothim that had previously used it to such great effect. When a single qlippothic demon prince briefly became capable of controlling the layer they placed a klurichir of exceptional power, the Guardian of Gates, within The Grand Abyss. Unfortunately for them the Guardian of Gates was one of the most notable demons to join in Madness and Bile, defecting to join others of its kind and ostensibly abandoning its responsibilities to conceal his intended treachery. After Eltab flooded the layer with molten metal the Guardian of Gates quickly took advantage of the slaughter to decimate the survivors-especially any affiliated with the demon prince he once served. From that time onwards, the other klurichir used The Grand Abyss to attack whatever qlippothic layers remained connected through the chasm layer. However, the control of the rebellious klurichir, even with the aid of a demon as potent as the Guardian of Gates on their side, was also short lived. Once the Guardian of Gates became a merely random terror, as compared to a focused opponent of all qlippothim, this provided enough marginal safety to allow The Grand Abyss to be generally used by all demons and travellers to those farther depths of The Abyss.
The Grand Abyss is a chasm so vast that from within its boundaries it is apparently bottomless. Although it can be infinitely deep, it is only ten miles long and two miles wide. It is divided into three regions known as Voragos. The Upper Vorago is the region closest to Pazunia, while the Middle and Lower Voragos are those regions that are further and closer to the Cesspool at the bottom of The Grand Abyss respectively. Direction is further indicated by the fact that there are two sides, or banks, of The Grand Abyss depending on whether one is either facing towards or away from The Styx when looking at it from Pazunia. Standing on top of the right bank of The Grand Abyss and facing away from the chasm ensures that the Styx is visible, while standing on top of the left bank of The Grand Abyss and facing away from the chasm means that the Styx cannot be seen instead.
Due to the fact that portals from The Grand Abyss tend to be far more exposed than those from Pazunia procedures for opening doors tend be both far more elaborate and affiliated with far deadlier mishaps if accessed improperly. Often demons establish doors upon portals only to have these protections sabotaged by ambitious rivals or underlings in order to destroy them and take their place. In some cases as demons slaughtered predecessors in order to control layers, door controls have been established over previous door controls to the point where multiple sets of controls have made doors either inoperable or even worse, set off death traps, Abyssal rifts, or otherwise react horribly to attempts to open them. Layers are not limited to possessing single apertures within The Grand Abyss. Several of the more infamous layers possess three or four ways into them from the layer (often magically mismarked, or made to look identical to each other) that deposit those foolish enough to use them into different locations within a given destination.
While many portal entrances are heavily and lethally trapped, The Grand Abyss, like Pazunia, possesses no special hazards that impede survival. Although The Grand Abyss is extremely dark by its nature, its darkness is not unnatural or magically produced and normal light sources function. Furthermore, its vast size means that at any given time, it is comparatively improbable to encounter any of The Grand Abyss' more dangerous (and rare) permanent denizens-in particular the ancient klurichir Guardian of the Gates.
Falling Souls: The sheer number of petitioners which fall into The Grand Abyss, attracted by the bizarre properties of its aperture upon Pazunia, make the risk of encountering a falling soul ever present, although more often than not, it is not actually lethal to those so unfortunate to have a dretch or a mane actually land on them. Falling souls deal 3d6 points of damage upon impact (Ref save DC 15 for half).
Leap Into The Chasm: One of the most bizarre properties of The Grand Abyss is not present within its boundaries as much as it is present in the region above it. The Grand Abyss attracts petitioners that get within a 10 mile radius of it as a consequence of the consolidation of the Cesspools into a single Cesspool at the bottom of the layer. Petitioners so affected find themselves compelled to travel to the best of their abilities to the edge of the chasm and throw themselves into it. They receive a new Will save every 10 minutes that they are under The Abyss' influence. The Will save DC begins at 16 and increases by one for every hour that a petitioner is within range of the effect, reaching a maximal DC of 32. The property of Leap Into The Chasm is present within The Grand Abyss itself, and as a result falling petitioners that survive colliding with bridges, landings, or other beings (assuming they are not slain for the inconvenience) will often recover themselves-only to cast themselves back into the chasm again.
Styxfalls: A branch of the Styx falls into The Grand Abyss on its left bank. Although for obvious reasons it is untraversable even by marraenodaemons, it is still a significant hazard within the layer as various promontories and shelves serve to fragment it further. Since the Styx in The Grand Abyss is a minor diversion from the main course of the river upon Pazunia, the Will save DC to avoid amnesia is the same (DC 20). In some places, the Styx itself is aerosolized and it is treated as an inhaled poison instead of slightly lower difficulty in terms of avoiding its effects given its diffused nature, and the Will save DC is 15 instead. Fortunately, these regions are recognizable through their unnatural opacity (Perception DC 25).
The Brittle Bridge: An unfortunate quirk of portal creation in The Grand Abyss put a bridge between Furnace (the layer of Garyx) and The Iron Wastes ruled by Kostchei. The bridge is locked in a constant struggle between fire and ice as frost giants and red dragons vie for a foothold and beachhead on the other side. The bridge itself is wide but brittle (hence its name) due to the extremes of temperature at each end but it continually regenerates and cannot be utterly destroyed despite the dedicated efforts of minions from both powers. It has a 40% chance of collapsing underfoot each time it is walked upon by a being, and each 10 foot by 10 foot square section can be treated as having hardness 1d6. The Brittle Bridge is found in the Middle Vorago.
The Devouring Door: In most cases when beings use a portal within The Grand Abyss and never return it is generally assumed that they met their end as a consequence of their destination. In a disturbingly significant number of cases, this assumption is false. These individuals have instead fallen victim to a creature known as The Devouring Door. In a manner analogous to the Portal Togarin of Pazunia spawned by Zuggtmoy, Ugudenk created a vast, wormlike creature that mimicked almost identically one of the valid portals in The Grand Abyss. Physically, it resembles a portal to another Torment and it is able to project images of these other Torments to lure in potential travelers that get within 100 feet of it (Will save DC 30 to resist), which it promptly consumes. As these images are directly implanted within the minds of potential victims, standard protections against illusions are not effective against them, although mind blank and similar methods are effective if the potential for such deception is detected. The Devouring Door wanders throughout The Grand Abyss with no apparent preference for any particular Vorago. Thus far it has avoided the Guardian of the Gates (who may or may not know of the beast).
The Hallucination Gate: One of the most bizarre portals within The Grand Abyss does not lead to another location within The Abyss as much as it leads into a fragment of time itself. This portal was named the hallucination gate by the first mazza'im and mortals to discover it, and it was one of the many innovations of Cabiri at a time when the qlippothim were both stronger and far more numerous than the present.
Peering into the hallucination gate allows those who use it to have a brief vision of The Grand Abyss as it once existed during the qlippothic domination. As esoteric a power as this may seem, it has in fact proved invaluable both to the surviving qlippothim as well as their enemies, when the former attempt to reclaim layers that may have been lost or become inaccessible after Madness and Bile, while the latter seek to expand to new layers and territories. The visions of the hallucination gate provide a +10 profane bonus on Knowledge (the planes) and Spellcraft checks in order to identify the proper functioning of any Grand Abyss gate,and a +4 bonus on caster level checks when casting either divinations or planar spells towards the end of opening one. However, as befitting the bizarre and lethal 'blessings' of Cabiri, those visions provided by the hallucination gate eventually prove fatally detrimental to their beneficiaries if a Will save DC 30 is failed while attempting to use it. The initial symptoms of hallucination gate insanity appear as visual overlays that grow more distracting and disturbing. These are accompanied by phantom telepathic noises, inflicting a cumulative -1 penalty to visual and auditory Perception-based checks as well as 1d4 points of Wisdom damage per day. After a time, the visions of The Grand Abyss as it existed in the past come to completely overwhelm the senses and memories of the being who used it in the present. The ultimate result is a self-withdrawn state of insanity not unlike the solipsism spell, except far more difficult to eliminate. The mental damage inflicted by the hallucination gate can only be cured in an Reality not tainted by chaos and mazza'im are just as vulnerable to it as mortals. Normal protections against mind-affecting effects are sufficient to prevent its damage, however, but they also render a being incapable of acquiring the dubious benefits of its ancient knowledge. It is only through the risk of madness that insight can be gained. Qlippothim are an exception to this rule and can use the hallucination gate without a required sacrifice or other troubles.
The hallucination gate is located on the right bank of The Grand Abyss and in the Lower Vorago. It possesses no platform whatsoever. It instead has a couple of clawholds and apertures hewn out of the rock and designed for the anatomies of creatures that were very different from the mazza'im-much less mortal forms. Flight and spells which animate rope or other attachment devices are common means of holding oneself in place while the portal is accessed. Activating the hallucination gate requires telepathic contact.
Six Tricks: This broad, circular platform is suspended on bridges over the vast shaft, and around the edge of the platform are arrayed six portals with three on each side and reachable by slender spans across the void. The portals seem to connect to The Gaping Maw, Pazunia, Twelvetrees, The Infinite Labyrinth, Smaragd, and Shedaklah. All of these, however, lead to Hollow’s Heart instead. Whenever any of the portals to Fraz’Urb’Luu’s layer is activated, a half-fiendish copy of any non-evil traveler is spawned on The Grand Abyss side, formed from Abyssal substance by an ancient spell of the Prince of Deception. These copies seek out the places dear to the original and embark on campaigns of deceit and destruction there, until and unless the original manages to escape Hollow’s Heart (the portals are one way only); the copy senses if the original has left Hollow’s Heart, and tries to find and kill the original at all costs so that it can continue with its evil acts. Six Tricks are found in the Lower Vorago. Although Fraz 'Urb Luu has constantly sought to make Six Tricks migrate throughout The Grand Abyss or even worse, make most of the portals of The Grand Abyss actually lead to Hollow's Heart instead, his endless search for the Rod of Fraz 'Urb Luu has forced him to temporarily set aside this scheme along with many of his other deadly and annoying innovations.
The portals of Six Tricks have a minor degree of sentience which enables them to detect the desires of those who approach them, and to present the most appealing falsehood in response. It is this minor vestige of intellect which enables them to be avoided. One method for detecting them is through the use of the psionic power detect hostile intent (which will correctly perceive a lie), as well as by casting divinations such as commune in order to figure out whether the portal is a valid one or a creation of Fraz 'Urb Luu's deranged imagination.
Grand Abyss Portals: The layers that are accessible by The Grand Abyss tend to be far more ancient than those connected to Pazunia. Those that have known Abyssal lords as rulers also have a higher proportion of qlippothic control than those accessible from the former layer. Some of the more notable entrances are the following:
Cogerron (Layer 444): The most frequently accessed portal to Cogerron exists within The Grand Abyss. It first appeared in the vast chasm shortly after the end of the Second War of Law and Chaos, and seems to have been discovered by Abraxas shortly afterwards. However, as Abraxas wished to keep all knowledge of Cogerron to himself (even denying his 'allies' among the other klurichir knowledge of it), the then Demon Prince of Mysteries did his best to obscure both the location of the portal as well as the means by which it could be entered.
The Cogerron portal is distinctive through the incredibly elaborate drawings and markings carved into the stone surrounding it. These provide a vital hint as to how to open the portal, which is otherwise an iron wall without crevice or joints, and is otherwise nigh-unassailable. The portal key consists of the drawings themselves-which when looked at from the right angle, form a vast labyrinthine image. Whenever they are expanded by those wishing to enter Cogerron from The Grand Abyss, then the portal itself opens, allowing such beings ingress. As with many such portals, there is a significant and lethal trick to operating it correctly. Any additions to the labyrinth-drawings must significantly make the drawing in its entirety more complex and more difficult to solve. Failing to add to the complexity of the drawing forces the beings making the attempt to make a Fort save DC 35. Those who do not succeed at making this save are trapped in the drawings as the spell imprisonment and the labyrinth redrawn slightly in order to record their durance. Making the save instead does no outwards harm to the potential victim, but also renders them incapable of using the portal for the next 1d6 days without accidentally being sent to a random layer of The Abyss instead.
Although vital, it possesses no immediately threatening guardians located upon the platform. However, it is monitored by an advanced and highly modified blackstone gigant (Fiend Folio) from an adjacent platform. It was placed there shortly after the Cogerron portal was first discerned to have been opened by a wide array of Abyssal powers, leading many to suspect that either Abraxas or one of his minions during the height of his power was responsible both for its construction and placement. However, it has been effectively subverted by Vuron, and will either follow beings leaving through the Cogerron portal to other destinations throughout The Grand Abyss, or will try and kill them in order to take anything for the Alabaster Demon instead if they are sufficiently weak.
Dispersion (Layer 93): One of the more bizarre and treasured layers controlled by Demogorgon is Dispersion. Its value to the Devourer of Souls consists of its ability to dismantle virtually all creatures foolish enough to enter the layer into their components-their minds, their anatomy, and even fragments of their souls-and then allowing whoever controls the layer to reassemble them in far more bizarre ways. Through such means, Dispersion has proved an invaluable tool to the Devourer of Souls as he continues to create artifacts, new forms of life, and even new forms of demons, as well as and destroying its rivals. The Dispersion portal can be opened by a being that is simultaneously in two physically distinct places at once, or otherwise possesses a multiplicity of mindsets. Its protections include a magical device prototypical to the retrievers in that it projects an array of devastating eyerays against opponents, dealing 15d8 points of damage each time it is triggered of either fire, cold, electricity, or acid (Rev save DC 30). The device also senses which, if any, attacks have been successful against opponents; if none of them are successful then within 1d4 rounds it alerts the denizens of Gaping Maw of the attacks against it unless it is otherwise stopped or bypassed.
While Dispersion is an apparently fairly old layer, the portal is located on the right bank of the Upper Vorago-as one of The Grand Abyss' myriad anomalies defying any generalized rule to the chasm. Although there was once a bridge connecting the Dispersion portal to another on the left bank of The Grand Abyss, it was apparently destroyed in ancient times. There is no current evidence that there was ever a door on the other side-or for that matter, that there was ever a battle or other conflict in which it was destroyed.
Driller's Hives (Layer 2): The qlippothic monstrosity Tharzax, Demon Lord of All That Crawls still retains a portal with The Grand Abyss. Unlike most of the other demonic survivors of the Second War of Law and Chaos, in Tharzax's case, the portal is actually relevant to his current ambitions. Without either the Queen of Chaos and the incipient rivalry of the qlippothim, or the irritations of the klurichir, Tharzax now covertly seeks to reclaim that which was originally his. This is an ambition that is tacitly supported by Rahab, as by aiding him (as sporadic and random as such assistance might be), should Tharzax gain sufficient power, The Grand Abyss would no longer be an entry point into The Unfathomable Depths. The ambitious and ancient demon lord accomplishes this through finding those portals that have not been used for hundreds of millenia and permanently sealing them or respecifying their opening conditions so as to make them only accessible to Tharzax. In this manner, it hopes that it can make The Grand Abyss increasingly insignificant to the rest of The Abyss' denizens-while giving Tharzax more power over the layer in its entirety until he can eventually control it.
The Driller's Hives portal is a pustulent mass of swollen flesh nearly twenty feet tall and at least as wide which appears as if it had been stung untold millions of times and was entirely formed out of twisted regrowth. It is accessible with a summoned or actual swarm, whose multiplicity of separate entities can sting or bite the door in the random patterns necessary to open it. Failing to open the door properly or in a timely manner (within three minutes of intruders being detected within 80 feet of it) causes it to spew digestive bile and rot on targets until they either depart from the portal platform or have been killed, dealing 30d8 points of acid damage and 2d6 points of Con damage on targets within 80 feet of it (Fort save DC 30 halves both). It is located in the Lower Vorago on the left bank of The Grand Abyss.
Fleshforges (Layer 558): Dwiergus was a frequent target for the klurichir during Madness and Bile and the portal to Fleshforges reflects this due to the difficulty involved in entering it. The portal key is a circle set upon a landing upon which a being heavily modified by qlippothic fleshcrafting must stand. As the qlippothim had little use for the most part for mortal languages, what minor details of the portal's nature are indicated through telepathic visions in one's head, and a mild sympathy effect (Will save DC 30) which attracts beings that possess any qlippothic modifications whatsoever that wander within a hundred feet of the portal's platform. The correct portal key is a living creature that has been fleshcrafted in a sufficiently bizarre way by the qlippothim to stimulate the portal's opening. If successfully activated, then the ground opens up beneath them and any other beings present and swallows them piecemeal in a series of grotesque, peristaltic motions that are extremely nauseating for bystanders to observe, but are not actually harmful and transport them to the layer. If the pattern of fleshcrafting is incorrect, then the floor below them forms a chrysalis around the victim or false key, secretes acidic fluid which deals 20d8 points of acid damage per round to victims (Fort save DC 30 for half), and dissolves them until there is nothing but gelatinous, semi-liquefied flesh and fragments of bone, or a puddle of highly ravaging bile in the case of demons. Creatures encased through failing to open the Fleshforges portal can attempt to escape by breaking through a chrysalis, which has 200 hp and hardness 5, but it otherwise possesses no special immunities except against acid. The portal to Fleshforges is located in the Lower Vorago on the right bank.
The Forgotten Land (Layer 3): As befitting the paradoxical nature of its ruler, Zzyczesiya, a demon lord infamous for her anonymity, and about whom increased knowledge of her powers confers ignorance, the portal to the Forgotten Land can only be seen by those who can see practically nothing else. It is only visible to amnesiacs, whether the mental condition is induced temporarily or permanently through spells such as programmed amnesia, psionic powers such as mind leech, or through poisoning with Styx-water. The area around the portal appears as a plain stone platform which is only visible when seen with peripheral vision, or through an indirect means of sight such as a mirror. Successfully opening the portal requires the destruction of a unique piece of knowledge (such as burning the single scroll of a spell otherwise only known to the being that wrote it, or erasing a single unique memory from a being within a 30 foot radius of the door itself). Tarrying around the portal by being within 100 feet of it without actually opening it in a fifteen minute time period inflicts 1d8 points of Intelligence damage (Will save DC 32) which can only be cured outside of a 100 foot radius of The Forgotten Land portal's door. The Forgotten Land's portal is located in the Upper Vorago on the right bank, and is otherwise an entirely unmemorable circular, cold iron door ten feet in diameter.
Incarnations of Iniquity (Layer 120): The portal to the depraved layer of Heramael, The Demon Lord of Flesh is a device known as a lascivious orifice. The lascivious orifice has telepathic properties like the qlippothim themselves and reforms itself into the object or personage of the most intense carnal desire of the beings before it, although it never has a singular appearance if a group of beings look upon it simultaneously. Opening the lascivious orifice then requires mating with the orifice. The portal is nastily addictive in the worst way, and those who have touched it once are quite likely to find themselves returning for further satisfaction, if not catching the malign attentions of Heramael himself should he find their lusts to be potentially useful. An initial Will save DC 20 allows one to resist these temptations. If the original save is failed, then the save DC increasingly compels beings to return to the orifice, increasing by one point per day until it reaches a maximum of DC 30. The Lascivious Orifice is located within the Lower Vorago on the left bank.
Iyondagur (Layer 399): One of the more frequently visited layers of The Abyss is Iyondagur, the bizarre and eternally shadowed layer of Elazalag. Although Iyondagur possesses a portal upon Pazunia, Elazalag as well as most beings that regularly trade with her actually prefer to use the opening located in The Grand Abyss instead because it is more obscure against mortal and divine intervention.
The portal to Iyondagur is a deceptively easily opened door with two layers of protection. The first is that the door, ebon and rectangular, requires an onyx key. In reality, the exact pattern of notches and ridges on the key is totally irrelevant as compared to the intent to reach the layer. Any onyx key specifically made for Iyondagur is sufficient provided that it is never used for another purpose. Once this layer is opened, the second protection upon the door comes in the form of an apparently unending hallway under the effects of a damning darkness (BoVD) spell, dealing 2d6 points of damage to any good-aligned creature that travels through it each round they are inside the passageway. Any creature that takes more than eight steps into the darkened tunnel can walk forward without reaching Iyondagur or retrace their steps without ever reaching The Grand Abyss again until they satisfy the second procedure for accessing Iyondagur-and realizing that the portal always requires a trade in order to be opened. If there is no attempt to make such a deal with the portal, then the portal itself chooses something to take from the being that attempts to access it once every five minutes. In the case of mortals, this usually results in Elazalag claiming their soul, while demons may find themselves imprisoned by the portal until one of her subsidiary abat-dolorin can collect them from it for their malevolent purposes. In either case, the Fort save required in order to involve imprisonment begins at DC 20 and increases by 1 point per every five minutes until it reaches a maximal DC of 30. Walking from The Grand Abyss to Iyondagur takes a minimum of thirty minutes, with teleportation and magicks such as dimension door blocked by the nature of the portal itself.
The Lightless Depths (Layer 89): Rahab is one of the oldest demon princes still active within The Abyss, and its layer is a reflection of almost incalculable age. Given The Lightless Depths' extremely ancient history in The Abyss, the primary portal to enter the layer exists within The Grand Abyss instead of upon Pazunia. The Lightless Depths' portal is located in the Lower Vorago. Although The Lightless Depths has never been successfully invaded (despite multiple disastrous attempts during Madness and Bile) as compared to infiltrated, Rahab still despises the concept of any point by which its layer can be entered that it doe not totally control. As such, Rahab makes point of making this entry to his layer as difficult as possible. The portal to his layer consists of a horizontal tunnel of rippling water, as black as the depths of the seas themselves, which never flows outwards from the portal. The water is sentient and in addition to being capable of extending tentacles to drag intruders into it, can also spray jets of itself outwards, dealing 10d6 points of pressure damage and knocking them off of the ledge so that victims plummet to their deaths (Ref save DC 35). Beings that are dragged into the water instead take a far larger amount of pressure damage (20d6 points per round), and find themselves imploded as the spell (Fort save DC 35) if they are stuck within the water for longer than 4 rounds. Triggers for the portal's defenses include, but are not limited to, the presence of mazza'im nearby, a wide array of qlippothic species that Rahab detests (including golab), as well as several other more obscure factors. Mortals ravaged by qlippothim and interaction with the myrmyxicus can safely enter-although practically none that do so ever return.
Sabraoxot (Layer 363): Abraxas made specific efforts to create a portal to his layer after the qlippothim were defeated in The Grand Abyss as a means of increasing his prominence throughout Creation. As the Demon Lord of Mysteries is dedicated to restoring his former glory, he actually encourages those who still follow him to use the portal to Sabraoxot in The Grand Abyss-especially since its distance from Baphomet's iron fortress upon Pazunia makes attacks from the rival demon prince far less frequent.
The Sabraxaot portal is a cold iron, circular door which appears permanently open, revealing vistas of Sabraoxot that while false, are also tempting to those who look upon them. It can be opened by a sigil granted to Abraxas' worshipers which must be placed into a series of alcoves in a seemingly random order that, in actuality, can be deciphered with a Spellcraft check (DC 66), although any being that follows Abraxas or possesses a magic item constructed by Abraxas himself will also be able to enter successfully. It is located in the Lower Vorago on the right bank. Attempting to open the door improperly triggers far more potent versions of both the symbol of death and greater sign of warding spells, with the Fort save for the former to resist death as DC 35, and the latter dealing 30d6 points of damage. The names of all who attempt to improperly open the portal becomes known to Abraxas as well, who is well known for taking further action against trespassers.
Shedaklah (Layer 222): The elimination of the klurichir (for the most part) as a menace to Zuggtmoy liberated her to direct more of her efforts, unfortunately, towards restoring her once significant and devastating influence upon The Mortal Coil. One element of this scheme consisted of making her layer more accessible while also ensuring that it could not easily be invaded. The portal to Shedaklah in The Grand Abyss is a minor, if disturbing, reflection of this ambition. As compared to Zuggtmoy's mobile and predatory fortress upon Pazunia, the gateway to Shedaklah is comparatively easy to open. It is made of a unique species of fungus that pulsates and writhes, irregularly growing and shrinking. As the portal was created during the time in which Zuggtmoy was influenced by and in turn influenced the cults of Elemental Evil, it is accessible through casting any elemental spell that has been corrupted or otherwise marred by evil (such as corrupting it, violating it and causing it to do vile damage, or using an evil spell component to otherwise augment it such as a soul or Bile).
While deceptively simple in form and function, the portal is also alive and somewhat sentient. It is capable of recalling which beings have transgressed against the Fungal Crone and acting lethally against them. This is accomplished by inflicting upon them horrible and semi-sentient contagions which both infect and eventually liquefy those foolish enough to provoke her wrath. The attacks of the Shedaklah portal are treated as breath weapons with an 80 ft. range (encompassing not only the platform itself, but the immediately adjacent region), and Fort a save DC 40 is required in order to resist these diseases. Furthermore, the semi-sentience of the portal enables it to detect which creatures are and are not infected by its defenses. It adapts by blasting potential intruders with different diseases until one or more are found against which opponents are vulnerable. Initially, such diseases are only those that are relatively common. However, for particularly persistent or menacing intruders, the diseases take effect more rapidly after 5 minutes, and after 10 minutes of intrusion the portal will begin attacking them with epic diseases.
The Swallowed Void (Layer 68): One of the best defended portals within The Grand Abyss leads to a layer whose original name and residents have been lost to Creation. This is not due to the fact that anything particularly valuable seems to have been contained within the layer as much as it is due to how it was destroyed and who destroyed it. The Swallowed Void is believed to be one of the first layers that was annihilated by Apollyon, The Demon Prince of Destruction.
The destruction of what became The Swallowed Void was an event which initially went unnoticed until a deranged cultist of The Dark Angel managed to open its Grand Abyssal portal some time afterwards. An akrusid horde swarmed into The Grand Abyss, killing thousands of other demons and nearly creating a rift between layers large enough for Apollyon himself to enter the chasm. The effort to destroy The Grand Abyss failed. The akrusids were slaughtered by demonic hordes affiliated with rival demon princes and the portal sealed by the efforts of the Guardian of Gates, as well as a wide array of demons both personally summoned by him or otherwise linked to him in those ancient days before he came to plague the layer. As Apollyon takes no sides in seeking the end of all existence, practically no faction present within The Grand Abyss or for that matter, beyond it, has any interest whatsoever in seeing the portal open once more and letting the akrusid swarms of Apollyon be unleashed throughout The Grand Abyss or Pazunia. After that day, virtually every demon prince, demon lord, and atrocity that made use of The Grand Abyss or what lay beneath it agreed upon one issue: The Swallowed Void portal should never be opened again.
The result is a situation in which multiple factions have placed multiple layers of traps upon the door in order to keep it from ever being opened. Upon several occasions emissaries have even been sent to the Guardian of Gates in order to try and convince it to keep watch over this particular door over all others. However, the horrible deaths that have come to all such representatives have disabused all demons, even Graz'zt, from making any further attempts. Currently, there are at least ten different layers of traps upon the door, each appearing as a slightly different door which only becomes active when the previous layer of traps is bypassed. Among the more notable of them are the following:
The most recently applied layer of protections was created by one of the most otherwise intransigent demon princes with regards to most of the other powers of The Abyss: Lolth. In her rage after Apollyon destroyed a Mortal Coil world with several of her favorite priestesses (and whose denizens she had been manipulating towards their destruction for millenia), Lolth has placed multiple unique curses the portal aimed against anyone who sets foot on the portal's platform. The most obvious reaction of this trap is that it summons bebiliths. Once every 1d4 rounds after the portal is approached, a new, summoned, advanced (24 HD) bebilith will appear within 100 feet of it. By itself, this would not appear to be exceptionally devastating save for the fact that proximity also triggers a devastating curse (Will save DC 40 to resist). Not only do the summoned bebiliths attack any creature near the portal, dragging them off through planeshifting to devour them, but the victims are permanently penalized with a -4 penalty on both their armor class and saves against bebiliths, with a Will save DC 40 to resist this effect. Furthermore, they also attract bebiliths for the rest of their most likely drastically shortened lives, with all bebiliths within a 6600 foot radius forced to make a Will save DC 40 or else be compelled to travel to the cursed victims and attack them as well. All elements of this curse can only be eliminated with a wish or miracle spell, but it is rumored that Lolth sends her yochlol after those poor fools that both survive these curses and have them lifted-as well as anyone with the audacity to challenge the Demon Queen of Spiders in her wrath by assisting such wretches.
Orcus has taken a similar approach.The portal traps he has placed also summons creatures, causing a new array of undead to arrive once every 1d4 rounds as the spell summon undead IX. Even if these creatures are defeated, once every 8 rounds, the trap that Orcus has laid also emits a massive wave of negative energy which deals 30d6 points of damage to all creatures within 100 feet of the door and forces a secondary Fort save DC 40 for half damage, both healing any surviving undead that are adjacent and further damaging any beings foolish enough to defy Orcus' will.
The portal to The Swallowed Void is located on the right bank of the Lower Vorago and the bridge connecting it to the other side was destroyed during the original battle to reseal it. The landing for flying creatures has been spiked with twenty cold iron and mithral spines that are wickedly barbed. These grow up to twenty feet away from the landing during a single round and impale creatures that approach them, with a Ref save DC 25 to avoid them and dealing 6d6 points of damage per round and per spine. Its appearance beyond a 50 foot radius has been obscured by multiple layers of illusions and anti-divinatory spells cast by the same atrocities and demon princes that have trapped the portal. Outside of this radius the landing is not even visible. Divinations will refuse to recognize either the proximity of the portal or provide any answers as to its status or existence except upon a successful caster level check DC 50.
Torturous Truth (Layer 57): Although Alvarez, the Demon Lord of Torment, is largely itinerant through The Abyss as he seeks more victims his armies have grown sufficiently vast for him to control a layer in his absence. Originally belonging to a minor qlippothic atrocity, the portal to it can be found in The Grand Abyss. The portal key is a physical representation of suffering destroyed upon the platform, and the entrance to Torturous Truth is an arched, iron doorway ten feet tall around which spiked metal chains are wrapped. One of the most alarming elements of the entrance to Torturous Truth is that it does seem to possess some minor degree of sentience to the point where it detects beings that alight upon the landing to enter it. If they do not scream to enter the portal of their own volition within a minute of close proximity, the entrance can create dancing chains that implant themselves in the flesh of beings upon the portal, dragging them towards to door and squeezing into their flesh until they are ground into nothing and their dying screams open the portal without any willful effort. The portal is found in the Upper Vorago on the left bank.
Twelvetrees (Layer 12): Although Twelvetrees has a portal upon Pazunia as well, the dominant portal used by those beings who wish to try and ensure that Gaping Maw is not immediately aware of their arrival is found in The Grand Abyss instead. Located on the right bank of the Lower Vorago, the Twelvetrees portal can be easily found due to the fact that it emits waves of suffering and agony which can be felt by any good-aligned creature that gets within 500 feet of it (Will save DC 25 or else take -4 to all saves as long as they are within the area affected). The Twelvetrees portal platform is made of wood that will never burn regardless of the strength of the fire applied to it. Opening the portal itself is both simple yet subtle. It requires a scream of genuine anguish from a good aligned creature within twenty feet of its simple and unadorned wooden doors nearly thirty feet tall. However, given the rarity of good aligned creatures (despite the enjoyment that demons would have in otherwise tormenting them merely to open the portal), the most common method consists of recording a good creature's scream with a mimir and then directing it to scream before the aperture.
Vudra/The Doorway To Obliteration (Layer 531): When Vuron imprisoned Shaktari in the Wells of Darkness, he understood quite clearly that it was insufficient to merely render her obscure and contained. He needed to also deprive her and those mariliths inclined to follow her of as many resources as possible. One way in which this was accomplished was by heavily trapping the portal to Vudra, Shaktari's extraordinarily toxic layer, that was located within The Grand Abyss, along with all of its other entrances. A couple of these other defenses have fallen by the wayside through the vagaries of The Abyss as well as Shaktari's efforts now that she has been freed. However, The Grand Abyss portal remains a source of infuriating frustration for the klurichir and a menace to those foolish enough to approach it willingly, or do so inadvertently because they were unaware of its history. The traps laid by Vuron have proved so lethal that regardless of what name the portal was originally known by, its infamy have earned it another title instead; one which is best translated from Abyssal as the doorway to obliteration.
The Doorway to Obliteration richly earns its title through both its extreme sensitivity to tresspassers and its lethality. Creatures that get within three hundred feet of it trigger its initial response. A shaft of light emanates from the portal, illuminating the entire area for many times that radius and bathing the unfortunate future victim in its cold, yet intense, glow. Neither invisibility or any type of other protection against divination has so far proved effective at preventing this initial reaction, and it appears to react in the same way regardless of whether nearby beings are demonic or not. Typically demons and other creatures flee as quickly as possible from anyone that has been marked by the Doorway in order to avoid what occurs shortly afterwards.
Five minutes after the Doorway to Obliteration has detected and reacted to a potential tresspasser, they are immolated in a brilliant burst of light, taking 60d6 points of disintegration damage (Fort save DC 40 for half). Furthermore, not only are they affected, but those beings that are either physically or politically proximate take half of this damage as well, although at a much lower save DC if they are within 300 feet of the initial target (DC 20). The only method so far discerned for avoiding this damage consists of a rapid series of planeshifts away from The Grand Abyss, and five or more escape attempts before this five minute period ends has allowed beings to survive the Doorway to Obliteration's reaction.
Neither Shaktari's servitors or Shaktari herself have had any success so far in eliminating Vuron's deathtraps although they have attacked the problem in various ways. The doorway to obliteration remains consigned to another purpose instead: providing one of The Grand Abyss' most reliable ways of annihilating beings that are either diverted near it or deliberately misdirected there so a lethal accident will erase them from existence.
Xhoul (Layer 663): As Obox-Ob is one of the most ancient active denizens of The Abyss, it should come as little surprise that his layer, Xhoul, can be accessed from The Grand Abyss instead of Pazunia. In his case, the entrance to Xhoul within The Grand Abyss is a bizarre structure known as the Carapace. It consists of an overlapping series of insectile scales inscribed in the wall, which in turn is encircled by a ring of compound, insectile eyes and evershifting arthropod limbs, growing and altering to appear in one second mantid-like, while in another similar to those of a housefly. Those who attempt to attack the Carapace discover that it is amply capable of defending itself through modifying its limbs into a multitude of venom-injecting scorpion stingers (Atk +30, Fort save DC 40 Con damage), spewing corrosive poison (dealing 16d6 points of acid damage), or sending waves of insanity (Will save DC 40, 100 ft. radius) from the layer itself outwards to derange its attackers.
Obox-Ob's portal can be opened by any being that possesses both insectile and qlippothic aspects to their nature. Many forms of qlippothic grafts are sufficient to trigger the aperture, and attaching them to other creatures is the most common means by which it is opened by non-ekolid. Whether they survive the procedure or not is largely irrelevant.
The Carapace is located on the right bank of the Upper Vorago, despite Obox-Ob's best efforts to actually make it more obscure. Interestingly, both Obox-Ob as well as his pre-eminent minions seem to be unaware of both Rahab and Tharzax's efforts towards a similar end-although for entirely different motives.
The Abyss is a place of myriad paradoxes; of realms with interwoven paths such as the Demonweb Pits or infinite labyrinths beyond mortal comprehension such as The Endless Maze. One of the best known among these paradoxes is the truth concerning The Grand Abyss; that although a being may fall into it for an infinite length of time, the unfortunate, the malign, and the foolish, may actually come to the bottom of The Grand Abyss. The Grand Abyss' lowest point is known as the Cesspool.
The Cesspool is where those chaotic evil souls that are not specifically claimed by a power of The Abyss arrive. They plummet from the impenetrably darkened sky, dealing 4d6 points of damage to any creature that they land upon (Ref save DC 20 for half) and arrive stunned for 1d4 rounds. The threat of having a falling soul land on a being is not particularly dangerous to most beings. What is far more hazardous instead is that because of the presence of so many fresh evil souls, the Cesspool is overrun with mazza'im in the thousands, if not millions.
The Cesspool is an endless scene of horror. Although it not an area inherently connected to multiple layers like either The Grand Abyss proper or Pazunia, it is filled with nalfeshnee from throughout The Abyss that are sufficiently gifted at planeshifting to reach it. From within The Cesspool these mazza'im claim the fresh souls those chaotic evil mortals that are sufficiently insignificant to not have an inherent claim from a demon prince. The ground of the Cesspool is covered with writhing, screaming, manes as well as those other mortal petitioners that have yet to be claimed.
Like much else about The Abyss, The Cesspool was originally a conceptual incarnation of disunity. There was not originally a single Cesspool but rather multiple Cesspools; scattered and interlinked throughout an Abyss that was both composed of that which most recognize as The Abyss proper in current times as well as Pandemonium. Each of the Cesspools was controlled by a different faction of the qlippothim. Despite the dedicated efforts of Chaos and his Consorts to achieve greater control over them and so better control the lesser qlippothim during the Second War of Law and Chaos, this was something that was beyond even their ferocious power. The amount of warfare necessary to wrench a Cesspool away from the most potent of the qlippothim would render them useless against the vaati. Even in the cases of those weaker qlippothim, other Cesspools would arise depending on the vagaries of the war against law in all its forms.
In a manner similar to Pazunia, The Cesspool's current form is strongly tied to the rise of the mazza'im in The Abyss. One of the effects of Rod of Law was – unknown to all at the time – to draw the Cesspools into a single location. Only one demon prince among the qlippothim correctly ascertained at a later date how the Cesspools had changed-and unfortunately for it, its pre-eminent minion was Eltab. Once Eltab realized how he could turn this discovery to his own ends he sought to simultaneously claim it for himself and for the Guardian of Gates through his scheme of draining Pazunia and devastating The Grand Abyss. However, when Abraxas discovered Eltab's scheme-and just as importantly, quickly realized that Eltab's machinations would allow the Lord of Ruins to control access both to Cogerron and Sabraoxot as well, massively undermining his power, Abraxas schemed to have Laz'bralthull 'discover' the Cesspool for himself-denying Eltab his prize. Instead, The Butcher as well as hundreds of molydei and nalfeshnee that followed him dragged untold qlippothim there en masse during Madness and Bile, slaughtering outright those demons who proved too much trouble for impregnation, and transforming the rest in order to bolster their hordes against the still-massive numbers of the surviving qlippothim. This was an arrangement that was naturally loathed by much of the rest of The Abyss. Only the power of Laz'bralthull, the Demon Lord of Butchery, as well as those other mazza'im and molydei in particular more personally 'loyal' or more terrified of him than they were of his rivals, managed to hold it together. As with most such situations in The Torments, it was short-lived due to two factors.
Foremost among these factors was Laz'bralthull's defeat by Zuggtmoy. His incarceration in the Wells of Darkness removed the immediate threat that disloyalty would be punished by The Butcher personally. However, by itself, this would not have been sufficient to change the nature of power within the layer. Eltab, still allied with the Guardian of Gates, acted to reclaim his discovery. He quickly took over where Laz'bralthull left off, and ensured that most of The Cesspool's resources continued to be focused towards slaughtering the qlippothim. If anything, his power actually increased at first without the threat of The Butcher extorting some measure of his power and strength from him.
Far more important, as it gave most of the atrocities and rising demon lords and princes of that ancient time motive to change the situation, was the rising significance of The Blood War in The Abyss. Those molydei most influential in The Cesspool were those most invested in Laz'bralthull's deranged extermination of the qlippothim-and to them, any mane, any dretch, that went to The Blood War was a soul not used to slaughter their predecessors. In comparison, to those mazza'im that rose to power after the klurichir, those manes and dretches that were lost on a largely irrelevant internecine conflict meant defeats in The Blood War. A growing array of Abyssal powers detested this situation. Among them Kardum, already infuriated by Eltab's trickery upon Pazunia, proved most successful in his schemings to overturn the klurichir lord's power. His plots against the surviving molydei affiliated with Laz'bralthull were two-pronged in nature.
The first aspect of Kardum's successful overthrow of the klurichir came in the form of finding allies that loathed The Cesspool's current molydei almost as much as himself. After some searching, Kardum was ultimately successful in reaching an accord with the nalfeshnee of Woeful Escarand. For their assistance in devising weapons that would allow them to infiltrate and subvert their rival nalfeshnee that still followed the klurichir, Kardum aided them with by providing them with the first of the Judges' Gavels; the signature artifacts of the future Lords of Woe that not only augmented their already ferocious power to warp the fresh souls of the chaotic evil dead, but also allowed them to 'judge' those mazza'im that would attempt to challenge them upon the layer-giving them a way of defending themselves from all but most powerful form of reprisal against their whims.
The second aspect of Kardum's schemes came in the form of actually encouraging strife among his opponents. It hardly took much effort from him in order to do so, and once the molydei began fighting amongst themselves, bloodshed spread like a rapidly moving conflagration throughout the region. Battle quickly ensued in The Cesspool, as molydeus turned on molydeus, and nalfeshnee turned on nalfeshnee. At the end of this second era of vast conflict, those demons that followed Eltab or the klurichir in general in Madness and Bile were slain or they were turned into manes and sent against their own brethren or the front lines of The Blood War.
However, Kardum himself did not retain control over The Cesspool much longer than the molydei he annihilated through treachery and power. In actuality, his control was even more brief than theirs was, as Kardum's success convinced others to attempt to follow the same path towards gaining power in The Cesspool as he himself did. Shortly afterwards, demon princes who realized the power the Cesspool had to augment their armies started sending nalfeshnee of their own to claim souls from it. Both Orcus and Demogorgon claim to be the first to discover this for themselves and overthrow Kardum's influence-a claim which most beings will wisely choose not to challenge while in their presence. Their initial successes soon inspired further imitators both from their rivals, and from the demon atrocities also involved with The Blood War who wished to augment their own forces. Within mere years, The Cesspool came to be dominated by the nalfeshnee that became its most obvious influences-even while still supplying those atrocities, demon lords, and demon princes on their respective layers with a constant stream of fresh dretches, manes, and rutterkin.
Entering The Cesspool is deceptive both in its simplicity and the ease by which one can fail to enter it at all. Reaching The Cesspool merely requires that one either possess a chaotic evil soul (whether in the form of a petitioner or a stored soul), or else be chaotic evil themselves, and simply fall downwards in The Grand Abyss. Petitioners or those who desire to deliberately reach it crash-land on the 'ground' in the Cesspool. In comparison, beings that attempt to enter the Cesspool without meeting either criterion simply fall forever in the former layer unless they either stop themselves through teleportation, land somewhere, or collide with a bridge across The Grand Abyss. In such cases, the Voragos actually warp themselves around the failed attempt of the being to enter the Cesspool. Some unfortunates have been known to fall for hundreds or even thousands of years on end between the Middle and Lower Voragos before either dying, colliding with something else, or being slaughtered. Death often comes as a blissful release to such unfortunates, given that for those beings that do not starve or meet their end through dehydration, their environs typically drive them insane. Otherwise, falling through The Grand Abyss to land in The Cesspool takes 10d4 minutes with no factor apparently able to either make the descent slower or faster.
Aside from the endless mane-swarms, the predominant demons found within The Cesspool are chasme, nalfeshnee, and the occasional molydeus. Most other forms of mazza'im eventually visit The Cesspool at least once-particularly if they are trying to extort further fresh souls out of one or more of the nalfeshnee that reside there.
Escaping from The Cesspool is more difficult. The most reliable, yet bizarre, means of getting out of The Cesspool consists of 'cleaning' an area around the attempted planeshift, ensuring that there are no petitioners within a 50 foot radius of it for at least 5 minutes. If this is successfully done then the planeshift proves successful. Typically this is accomplished by specialized repulsion or antipathy spells, although other, far more unusual methods have been developed by a multiplicity of demons. The most direct approach is for demons to kill or otherwise force to flee the creatures surrounding them long enough for them to depart. It also possesses a portal to Woeful Escarand (Layer 400), the layer of the nalfeshnee Lords of Woe. The portal key is a symbol of judgment or examination, such as a gavel, balance, or spectacles-although few would claim that entering Woeful Escarand is in any way an improvement over the chaos and terror of The Cesspool.
The Grand Abyss Knowledge (the planes) Table Knowledge (the planes) DC Sample Information Acquired 20 The Grand Abyss possesses portals to layers that are generally older and more obscure than those upon Pazunia. 25 The most notable permanent denizen of The Grand Abyss is the potent and amnesiac klurichir known as the Guardian of Gates. Fortunately, he is only encountered relatively infrequently. 30 The Grand Abyss, while excavated by Tharzax, was contested even among the qlippothim. Most of the qlippoth residing in The Grand Abyss were killed either by the Second War or by the chasm's flooding with molten iron. 35 You are aware of which portals are so heavily trapped as to be menaces not only to those beings that attempt to open them, but those beings that are close to such attempts. 40 At the bottom of The Grand Abyss is a region known as The Cesspool, where hordes of nalfeshnee squabble about acquiring fresh evil souls for their own foul purposes or those of more powerful demons. 45 You are aware of the requirements necessary to open most of The Grand Abyss' portals-both well known and obscure.