What could be worse than hell? The domain of a fallen god, whispers of it are found in every religion.
“The wicked shall face their eternal punishment in hell,” says the Confessor.
“Its fires burn hotter than any forge, and the foolish burn away like fool’s gold,” the Stonewarden warns.
“The hottest days of summer do not compare,” intones the Priests of Leaves, “and there is no rebirth for those defilers exiled there.”
The Cultists babble, “In the fire or in the void, your masters cannot speak to you, nor you to them; shun the realm of the fallen sun, and falter not in your labors for your lords, or you shall be so banished!”
And in the rituals of the Ashen Veil lie these words: “From the fires of the pit, come our secrets, but we acknowledge we are supplicants, and offer the price you seek. We come to bargain, not command, oh Lords of the outer darkness and eternal fires. For this presumption, take not our souls, take those of our foes.”
But the truth is much worse. Hell is an attack on every aspect of the souls that dwell within it. An excruciating forge built to transform the weak and broken into physical manifestations of Agares’s hate. In life a man may consider an act unthinkable, but through the slow manipulations of hell that act will become acceptable and then enjoyable. Many spend eternity in this slow grind, hating those above them and crushing those below them.
Hyborem was not so easily satisfied, he thirsted for new challenges. With the covert assistance of Agares, the walls of creation were weakened imperceptibly by rituals learned by the Ashen Veil. Hell, always existing alongside the infinite plane where mortals dwelt, was given brief, tortured access. Hyborem took his servants and set out at once.
Onsir Ellis, strangled to death during a barroom brawl. His wife entered the bar an hour before, begging him to come home, but he struck her across the face and bid her begone.
Perris Loon fell from the rafters of a temple while absconding with gold stolen from the alms box. He lay on the temple floor with a broken back and died cursing the marble angels gazing down from above.
Adian Mor, a lonely man with dark impulses. He attempted to contain his desires by limiting his exposure to other people, and staying at the edges of the small village where he lived. When that wasn’t enough he would capture an animal, usually a cat or stray farm dog, to satiate his desires for a while. He imagined the greatest of his perversions acted out on a wolf that also lurked at the edges of the village. When Adian captured the wolf he took it to his basement, a place of torment. The wolf broke free of its restraints and the two predators fought. The wolf was more merciful than Adian was and killed him quickly.
Twilla Margelin, successful merchant and slaver. Hers is the largest mausoleum in Girona. Twilia died choking on what she thought was the finest imported veal, poisoned by a man whose parents she had consigned to bondage decades earlier.
All paths of depravity end at the same place, the soul’s rebirth as the least of demons, manes. A state so unbearable the entire infernal army pushes themselves onward based solely on the fear of being demoted back to this squalid rank. In hell manes are marked by the sins of their life, the amorphous forms of the gluttonous, splintered bones breaking through the skin of the hateful, the larval bodies of the greedy. But on Arcanearth, manes are granted a form that allows them to become workers and citizens in a cruel hierarchy. The mortal inhabitants of lands conquered by the Infernals quickly perish only to be reborn as manes. Nothing causes a refocus from the trivialities of life to the eternal war better than the flames of hell. Now they are all alike, hateful legions consumed by the need to gather souls for their masters.
A few enterprising mortals seek fortune in the hellish lands as merchants, emissaries, rogues, servants or mercenaries. Foreign empires willing or forced to treat with Hyborem maintain walled compounds where some semblance of normality is maintained. Adventuresome mortals are tempted to patronize the demonic bazaars and wine-shops, but the hazards are many and devious. More than a few awaken to an eternity of service in the fiendish ranks.
The Infernal empire on Arcanearth is a twisted and hideous parody of mortal civilization. The hellish hordes are forced to carve a city from the dirt with their own claws when this reality refuses to submit to their will. But that will is strengthened by Hyborem’s demonic desires, and his underlings abject fear. Hot tempered and impatient, the fiendish archangel of Agares is nonetheless cunning and willing to watch the kingdoms of men, even to learn from them how to operate in this realm, until he is ready to claim the mortal world for his own.
3% Cambion (various mix)
1% Orc, Half-Orc, and other Goblinoid
70% Chaotic Evil
20% Neutral Evil
9% Lawful Evil
Population Lvl 1 or higher: 1%
Sorcerer: 25% (Fiendish Blood)
Warlock: 18% (Fiendish Pact)
Paladin: 1% (Eidolons and Oath-breakers)
Other: < 1%
Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
No rays from the holy heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town;
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently—
Gleams up the pinnacles far and free—
Up domes—up spires—up kingly halls—
Up fanes—up Babylon-like walls—
Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers—
Up many and many a marvellous shrine
Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
The viol, the violet, and the vine.
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.
There open fanes and gaping graves
Yawn level with the luminous waves;
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol’s diamond eye—
Not the gaily-jeweled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass—
No swellings tell that winds may be
Upon some far-off happier sea—
No heavings hint that winds have been
On seas less hideously serene.
But lo, a stir is in the air!
The wave—there is a movement there!
As if the towers had thrust aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide—
As if their tops had feebly given
A void within the filmy Heaven.
The waves have now a redder glow—
The hours are breathing faint and low—
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence.