I found a really cool adventure hook in Planewalker's Kytos' Hooks section (from before the site remodeled- I don't think you can access the section yet with the new site) called "Frozen Things," in which the PC's travel to Cania and discover an empty lost city which was the site of a battle between Archons and Baatezu against a hugely powerful race of ancient baatorians. The figures are still frozen in the Canian ice and a small squad of keepers guards the secrets of the city.
I thought the idea was awesome and wanted to use it in my Planescape campaign. Pretty much what I've gotten is, the ancient baatorians were the original fiendish race of Baator, and the Baatezu were their creations. A really long time ago, they tried to take over the Great Ring using an army of Baatezu (and their immensely powerful selves), but were stopped when the Baatezu rebelled and celestials stepped in. The city represents one of the final battles, and the rest of the Baatezu moved on to dominate Baator.
Now the ancient Baatorians have been stopped (others could be imprisoned in Carceri, or maybe they could be that mysterious evil force trapped in Belierin (the misty dark layer of Elysium). Perhaps the ancient baatorians were really highly advanced yugoloths who got a little too ambitious. Point is, there's a plot to invert an Astral Rift to revert the multiverse to the way it was at the height of their empire's power. To do this, they have countless yugoloths working to channel the energies of the lower planes into the rift. That's the purpose of the three great yugoloth towers (Tower of the Arcanoloths, Khin-Oin, and the Tower of Incarnate Pain from Faces of Evil).
Now my question, at last, is: what would the ancient baatorians be like? What would they be called? What kinds of powers would they have? Does anyone have any ideas to supplement my giant campaign-of-an-adventure?
The first idea I thought of was that the ancient Baatorians could be fallen celestials who turned away from the path of good. Of course, that's an awful lot like the Biblical Lucifer and his Fall. It makes sense, but may not be the best alternative.
However, then I got to thinking...Nobody knows who Asmodeus really is, where he came from, or how he got to Baator, right? Asmodeus could be the last remnant of these ancient Baatorians. So, going off of that...
Perhaps the ancient Baatorians were gigantic creatures (size Gargantuan) of phenomenal, godlike power. This would have enabled them to easily create the vast numbers and types of baatezu that exist in the multiverse today. It would also account for why Asmodeus can still maintain a tight grip on the rulership of the Nine Hells and how he was able to stamp out The Reckoning. Obviously, if he's willing to leave most of the Lords of the Nine in power, he's confident he can whip them into shape again.
Then again, Asmodeus might've only been the best of the best of the ancient Baatorians. That would explain why only he is left and the others are missing or were defeated.
Appearances? I imagine they looked fiendlike. If they created the present-day baatezu, they probably made them in their own image. Either that, or I imagine they're more like extremely large serpents (think Dendar from Forgotten Realms, the serpent who lives in the City of the Dead and waits till she can devour the sun). The rumors claim that Asmodeus has a body that is really miles upon miles in length.
The fallen celestial idea is easier to follow, I think, and may make more sense. However, I can't imagine that it would be any easy task for a fallen celestial or any type of fiend to acquire as much sheer power as Asmodeus obviously has...That in and of itself suggests the ancient Baatorians could be much more.
Also, perhaps you could somehow link the ancient Baatorian aspect of your campaign into the ancient ruins beneath Malbolge, the sixth layer. I'm sure there would be some connection.
Some interesting ideas. I've always viewed the Ancient Baatorians as, similar to the Yugoloths, the true native fiendish race of Baator, much in the way the 'loths are natives to the Waste (and arguably Gehenna now). Like the 'loths and the Waste and Gehenna, the Ancient Baatorians would spring from the essence of Baator, whereas the interloper Baatezu must be generated from the corrupted larval souls of mortals. (Using the Yugoloth legend of the creation of Baatezu and Tanar'ri from Hades larvae and the law and chaos stripped from the Yugoloth race by the Heart of Darkness, given to the General of Gehenna by the ancient Baernaloth)
Of course being canonical information on them being what it is, anyone is free to take what there is and run with it, putting their own spin on the whole shebang for their campaign. What's interesting however is that, as revealed in Tales of the Infinate Staircase, the 'loths are apparently aware of the Ancient Baatorians, and in fact gifted a Kyton lord with a rapidly developing example of that ancient race. The Kyton thought it was some sort of advanced Nupperibo, possibly the reformed spirit of a Baatezu highup, and kept the thing. I've always seen it as a 'loth plot to subvert the ruling Hierarchy of Baator, or even simply an experiment to breed one of the creatures and let it loose within its original home plane simply to observe what it did to the Baatezu. It also suggests the 'loths have more than one of them. *evil grin*
One idea I'd had, and may yet use in a campaign, involved one of those bizarre cities locked in the ice of Cania thawing out as a result of Mephistopheles' use of Hellfire. However instead of the thawed Archons and the Ancient Baatorians fighting each other upon awakening, since all observers had believed them to be locked in the ice in mid battle versus the other, the Baatorians begin to immediately slaughter the Baatezu while the 'Archons' watch and direct the massacre with dark, knowing smiles upon their faces.
One thing I personally usually don't address, or try to avoid, is connecting Asmodeus to it all. I prefer The Lord of the 9th to remain enigmatic, and I also have an extreme loathing for the 2nd ed Guide to Hell, and the opinions it expresses regarding the Lord of Darkness. Of course, I'm both a Planescape purist, and all but ap Yugoloth worshiper so...
I've allways figured the lords of nine (the originals anyway) where connected to the ancient baatorians. Over time, they where replaced by others. Bell and the hag countess for instance.
In my mind the ancient baatorians are very alien creatures indeed. Nothing like the baatezu as a matter of fact. For instance, they have very little interest in the goings on of the rest of the great ring. They couldn't care less for the Tanar'ri or the blood war for instance. Or corrupting mortals. Or combatting deva's.
Instead they represent far more fundamental concepts of evil. The ancient baatorian in the Hellbound adventure represented the essence of darkness. Others might represent concepts such as betrail, war, vengance, or lack of mercy (I'm trying to find a better word for that one. mercilessness?).
The baatezu have been quite effective in removing every trace of the ancient baatorians from the planes. However, their succes was not complete. Some still remain, such as the one mentioned in hellbound. Still, it is quite possible that they are more common than we might expect. See, like the loth's (and quite unlike the baatezu), ancient baatorians are formed from the plane, rather than from larvea. Nupperibos for example, could well be the initial form, the young if you will, of these ancient baatroians. They are not formed from larvea or lemures. So where do they come from. Similarly Kytons and baatezu are not known to get allong well. There is a reason Jangling Hither is suspiciously free of the fiends.
What if these ancient Baatorians were demons or tanar'ri of some sort? As far as I recall, you don't hear a whole lot about "ancient Abyssal dwellers." Or they could be connected somehow to the gehereleths (sp) of Carceri...
Hmm, doubt they have a connection to the Gehreleths in any way. For starters it'd break the 3fold symmetry of the 'lehts who have the Farastu, Kelubar and Shator subtypes, and they're quite adamant about the whole 3fold thing, even down to the little obsidian triangles they wear obsessively to link themselves to their diety/creator Apomps.
And you're right, not much is said of ancient Tanar'ri or any other 'native' species of The Abyss. I might be tempted to attribute that to the rather high turnover rate of Abyssal dwellers though. It's a nifty idea though.
It's hard to really imagine what the ancient Baatorians may have been like, especially since we have so little chant on the ancient beings from other Lower Planes (and even the Upper Planes to a lesser extent). The discussion raises a few questions...
- Were the ancient Baatorians involved in the Blood War? No graybeard can say with any certainty how long the Blood War has been going on. I doubt many powers even know. The only being who might know would be Her Serenity and that's if She even cares enough to know. Could it be that the modern baatezu overcame or obliterated the ancients before starting the Blood War with the tanar'ri?
- Going off of that, here's a scary thought: What if all fiends shared a common ancestor in the ancient Baatorians? During that time, there would have been no Blood War and the fiends all cooperated together in peace and harmony (a euphemism, of course, since peace and harmony the Elysium way is all but unheard of on the Lower Planes). The ancient Baatorians may not have been strictly Baatorians, but a collection of creatures from across the Lower Planes who became the progenitors of the various fiendish races. Then, the baatezu for some reason or other decided to take over Baator or something similar and overthrew their creators. This angered the tanar'ri and sparked the Blood War.
The opposite is actually more likely, given the chaotic nature of the tanar'ri. The baatezu, while not necessarily happy, would have been content to live under the rulership of their creators/masters. The tanar'ri could have infiltrated and destroyed the ancient "Baatorians" and angered the baatezu something awful. The baatezu started the Blood War as an exercise in vengeance but the in stalemate that's been going on for so long, the origins of the war have been lost to all except perhaps Asmodeus and a few of the high-up devil lords and demon princes.
Of course, it could've also been the greedy yugoloths that dead-booked the ancients. Any clueless berks know that the yugoloths are out for themselves. A lot of people are quite certain that the 'loths are actually keeping both the tanar'ri and the baatezu at odds so they can continue to get more out of the War. So, the 'loths could've done in the ancients and framed it on the tanar'ri
- Speculating on the ancient Baatorians makes a body wonder about the other Lower Planes. Here are a few examples:
* Some 'loths (and graybeards) claim they originally called kip on the Waste. To quote the illustrious Tarsheva Longreach, "The yugoloths live on Gehenna, although some claim the Gray Waste was their original case." Now, any berk understands that the 'loths are extremely powerful. Arguably, they could be the most powerful of the major fiendish races. They have the ability to work both sides of the War and that can't be an easy feat. Anyway, here's where I'm going with that. There really isn't a lot of dark (and correct me if I'm wrong) on any indigenous Gehenna life. Nobody's found any ruins (or if they have, they're not talking) or any traces of sentient fiendish life native to Gehenna. The scary part of that? What if the 'loths eradicated all trace of "ancient Gehennans" long, long ago so they could make Gehenna their case?
* Is there a fiendish race native to Acheron? You could argue the bladelings are fiends, but I think that's screed. After all, there are more bladelings who "reform" from evil than there are fiends. Thuldanin has a LOT of uncovered dark on it and not many people really bother with Tintibulus. Similarly, is there a fiendish race native to Pandemonium? Pandemonium probably has more dark than Acheron. Look at Harmonica and Howler's Crag, both of which are places understood by most, if not all bloods. Then there's the fourth layer, who knows what's trapped down there? Now, it's possible that Acheron and Pandemonium don't and never have had native or indigenous fiendish life. They could be too close to Mechanus and Limbo, respectively, to have spawned any fiends...
* Finally (for now) to get back on track with the Baator thing, is there a connection to the ruins beneath Malbolge and the ruins frozen in Cania? Moreover, how many more of these ruins could there be that even the baatezu don't know about? Whole cities could be operating, unharmed and protected, beneath the murk of Minauros. There could even be hidden ruins in Stygia or Maladomini.
quote: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Originally posted by Tertek * Some 'loths (and graybeards) claim they originally called kip on the Waste. To quote the illustrious Tarsheva Longreach, "The yugoloths live on Gehenna, although some claim the Gray Waste was their original case." Now, any berk understands that the 'loths are extremely powerful. Arguably, they could be the most powerful of the major fiendish races. They have the ability to work both sides of the War and that can't be an easy feat. Anyway, here's where I'm going with that. There really isn't a lot of dark (and correct me if I'm wrong) on any indigenous Gehenna life. Nobody's found any ruins (or if they have, they're not talking) or any traces of sentient fiendish life native to Gehenna. The scary part of that? What if the 'loths eradicated all trace of "ancient Gehennans" long, long ago so they could make Gehenna their case?
It's unlikely that Gehenna had any indigenous life of a type similar to how the Ancient Baatorians, or the Baernaloths are the original natives of Baator or the Grey Waste respectively. It's been postulated by some greybeards that Gehenna may have been artificially created during some point in the Blood War (not there's any evidence this is more than just screed). In any case the 'loths have been there in Gehenna long enough to be tied to the plane to the point that Yugoloths will spawn naturally from the essence of the plane. At that point it becomes moot to call anything else as having any sort of claim to the plane.
Now with Carceri its also likely it has no original inhabitants to spawn naturally from the plane, since the Yugoloths are trying to do the same thing there as they did with Gehenna, and the Gehreleths are exiles to the plane with their creator Apomps the Three Faced (a rogue Baernaloth).
The alignment extremes seem to be the only planes to spawn their own true native exemplar races by and large.
[I'm posting this under my own name, I posted the message above using the computer of a friend, and for the second time in a row forgot to change the logged in messageboard name. *sigh*]
That does seem to make sense. After all, Celestia, Elysium, and Arborea are the only Upper Planes with native exemplar life...Archons, guardinals, and eladrin respectively. It kind of leaves a body to wonder why there are no "in-between" races. For example, why didn't bladelings become a fiendish race, let alone a dominant one? Of course, that particular example could always be attributed to bladeling reclusiveness and xenophobia.
Now, here's another weird twist I thought I'd throw in the works...I don't know much about the rilmani, but do you think it could be possible that -they- are the ones who gave birth to the ancient Baatorians? Not only the ancient Baatorians, but every other exemplar race existing today.
Come to think of it, that's really an extremely far stretch in more terms than one. Even if they could, why would the rilmani bother in the first place? It gives a body something to think on, but it's about as unlikely as Gehenna having been created artificially.