I'm looking forward to 4E quite a lot, especially the new changes to the Nine Hells and the Abyss. However, I've long had a soft spot in my heart for an independently published D20 setting by the name of Infernum, which sets the scene inside a Hell roughly based upon the Christian format. Given the considerable alterations to the planar structure, I was wondering if it'd be possibly to add the Infernum to the 4E planes as a replacement for the Nine Hells and the Abyss.
Paraphrasing, and stripping away some of the more obviously Christian-based material, the background for Infernum goes like this: thousands of years ago, an archangel grew dissatisfied with serving his patron deity, and converted a number of his fellows to his cause. They rallied their subordinant legions of angels and rebelled, only to fail and be cast from the heavens into the darkness that was the proto-Hell.
Like a terrible metorite, they struck the dark land, smashing into the soil like a great fist and digging a massive crater that would become the cradle of demonic civilisation. For an age the rebellious angels burned, wracked and broken by their headlong fall from grace. And then, they stirred from the wreckage, arising bloodied, but unbowed, fuelled with hate and rage for the loyalists who had cast them down. Knowing that they couldn't hope to reclaim the victory they sought with their diminished numbers, they set about a plan to create a race to win the battle for them.
Hell was not empty even in those days; spawn, the crude protoforms of life that had been discarded by the creators as their skill improved, roamed freely, as they do to this day, and the angels set upon a regime of experiments to create a species half-angel and half-spawn. Sorcerous experiments, bizarre surgeries and vile copulations created the first half-breeds, the primal muck from which would be fashioned, after further crossbreeding, incestuous and mundane, and experimentation, the first seven breeds of demon.
Artificers, the dwarf-like arcano-engineers and forgemasters of Hell. Beasts, whose brutish and animalistic forms hid the minds of master magi. Deceivers, dark reflections of humanity and its variations. Fiends, the flying knights of Hell. Hulks, the brutal warriors. Imps, the spymasters and scouts, and the Malcubi, the seductive winged demons whose sexes would become known to mortals as Succubi and Incubi.
But as the numbers of demons grew, a problem arose. Being half-flesh, demons were more frail than their angelic parents- they hungered, but not for mere flesh, but for iliaster, the spiritual energy from which their forebears had been composed. When the angels had fallen, great chunks of Heaven had fallen with them, raw monoliths of iliaster that were quickly cut to pieces to feed the hordes. But as more and more demons were created, the divine obelisks were depleted, and soon the angels turned on each other, so-called "traitors" being rooted out and rendered down to provide sustenance to their misbegotten children.
Salvation was to arise when the first human souls came to Hell: through experimentation, it was discovered that these frail things could be induced to produce iliaster... through the application of pain. Thus was established the relationship between soul and demon; the latter torturing the former to acquire nourishment. Thus too was the race of demons expanded, two new breeds solidifying from the concepts of their creators to take their place in Pandemonium. Demons once created with the intent of being medics and beast-tamers were directed instead to guard and torture souls, becoming Slavers. Unwilling to tear themselves away from their other tasks, the fallen created the Stalkers to hunt souls wherever they may land.
With this new source of food, the angels once again applied themselves to planning their upcoming seige. But it was not to be. The demons, while savage and inclined to fight amongst themselves, were not stupid. They knew there would be no place for them in heaven- Hell was all they had known, and they were content. Demons attempted to seduce their parents into realising that they could abandon heaven, transform Hell into a dark paradise where they could rule, but the angels were obsessed.
And so the demons rose up and turned against their parents. In a horrific slaughter, they dragged down each and every angel, from the lowest to the lord of the fallen archangels, devouring them in grisly feasts. The throne of Hell was emptied, and has remained so ever since, as the political machinations and near-constant wars amongst the demons has prevented, thus far, any one leader arising to claim the Throne of Pandemonium. Most demons don't care, too concerned with the trials of surviving life in the Pit and acquiring iliaster to bother with the heavens.
So, if I did include the Infernum in my 4E cosmology, what changes would I have to make? Not just to the planes (including Infernum's own backstory), but also to the flavor for classes (such as Infernal-pact Warlocks) and creatures?
Hmm... Well, if you wanted to warp it a little. The Abyss could become the new hell. Since it is said in the cosmology that the Abyss was formed when a dark essence of evil (or some such) was cast into the Elemental Abyss.
Or you could have it that, this Hell, was formed when the angels cast out of the Astral Sea piercing a hole within it, which caused its form to warp and bend causing the creation of Hell.
Or I guess you could have it that the ruins of Heaven (could be a dominion in the Astral Sea) fell they formed a new twisted dominion (Hell) in the Astral Sea.
As for the beings I think most of the fallen angels could be simply devils or perhaps some reworked evil-gods angels. Umm... Succubus are now devils as well, and we dunno about some of the others, but I think alot of things should be covered well.
As for Infernal-Warlocks you could put in that their contract to gain power is they will give up their soul when they die to be tortured to gain the iliaster.
An interesting aspect then comes in with the back story for Tieflings. Assuming you allow them, why did the devils/demons create them. Was the contracts originally signed designed to ensure that every child born to the originating participants forced into hell upon their deaths? Did that come about then and are the tiefling characters now still doomed, or did something else happen (misprint in the original contracts perhaps) which led to the children being born in shapes similar to the devils involved in the original contracts?
Just some random notes and ideas from me to continue this topic. *Firstly, one of the concepts of the Infernum game is the concept of the "Hellgout". A dimensional anomaly that kind of blends closing Ravenloft domains, cerebrotic blots and Silent Hill. Basically, every so often, Hell sends a "tendril" to the mortal world, slowly latching onto a given area and eventually 'merging' with it. This creates a patch of the world that demons can access freely from Hell, as well as one where the rules of Hell regarding souls (aka they step out of their 'shells' once a mortal is slain and can be directed around like transparent versions of the living mortal) apply.
This makes it a perfect opportunity for demons to raid: normally, mortals slain in the materium by demons *don't* go to Hell automatically, which makes ravaging and pillaging somewhat less than satisfying. The Hellgout only lasts so long, and then it vanishes, taking the demons with it. What happens to the area it touched is random: sometimes the folks are left alone, to recover from the shock. Sometimes every living being is taken with the demons, leaving an empty but apparently unmarked (usually) town behind. The Marie Celest could have been the site of such a Hellgout. And sometimes the entire area is dragged down to Hell, leaving behind absolutely nothing but a blank spot.
The question is this: is this an element I should keep?
*On tieflings, a vague idea emerges that makes some use of the "Bael Turath" fluff established for D&D 4e: noble houses, a "deal with the devil", etcetera. My idea is that it was the head of a number of houses who made a deal, using dark rituals to contact a number of powerful demon lords and bargaining with them. In essence, each patriarch/matriarch was 'merged' with an individual demon of a particular breed, creating something that was neither human nor demon but a powerful hybrid of the two. One power they shared in common was that they could transform those of their blood into the first tieflings by "implanting" a shard of demonic essence into their soul, shards that could themselves be borne by blood. Using this, they became the leaders of a great empire... before they fell to their own corruption.
The Possessed (for lack of a better term) were extremely powerful, immortal even, but utterly corrupt even before they became one with demons, and they turned their infinite supply of malice on others. Tieflings, who had (naturally) been favored on their rise to power, became a virtual underclass in practise, as their founders saw them as the likeliest threat and thus subjected them to the worst degredations and depredations. This, coupled with time and the fact it was tieflings who helped organise the revolution that finally shattered the empire and slew the Possessed, is why tieflings aren't hated and despised today.
This idea means that there are 8, possibly 9, "breeds" of tiefling, each representing a distant descendant of a demon-touched house. How does this idea sound?
*Idea three is that the place that became Hell was originally either a "proto-world", where the various gods honed their abilities at shaping the Elemental Chaos before creating the "true" World, or it was an attempt by the Gods of Evil to create their own World, inspired by jealousy of the Materium (created by the Gods of Good) and the Feywild/Shadowfell (both created by the Gods of Neutrality- Life/Nature for the Feywild, Death/Decay for the Shadowfell). How does this sound?
*In the Infernum setting, "Demon" is the species and "Devil" is a social rank for Demons. As such, does anyone have any suggestions for what the 'generic' race name might be? I mean, what mortals might call them? The slightly less clued-in might still use those names... some of the more lore-twisted might even use both names for different breeds: Slavers, Deceivers, Artificers, Imps and Malcubi as Devils; Hulks, Stalkers, Beasts and Fiends as Demons.
*In D&D parlance, the demons of Infernum don't have a set alignment- aka they aren't "Always Chaotic Evil" like they were in 3e, or "Always Evil" like the angels of evil-aligned deities will/might be in 4e. Given that they need to torture souls for their very survival, and the corrupt and harsh society they've fashioned for themselves (they were originally bred to be an expendable race of warrior-slaves; give them credit for having come up with *any* society at all), Evil is undoubtedly common- however, for every evil demon, there's at least one that's simply pragmatic, accepting what it has to do for survival and scraping by from day to day, its own hopes and dreams locked away inside it's head. I guess that's default to a "Racial Alignment" of "Unaligned, with substantial population of Evil". There could even be a Good demon... but that would take considerable effort to happen and probably wouldn't unless that demon managed to A: find a way to remain out of Hell and B: was exposed to the actual concept of Good in practise.
I will read it closer later when I have more time but your first part about the "Hellgout" you could possibly use by taking the idea propositioned with the Far Realm where it occasionally will layer parts of itself over a area of the World and and change it. If there is more then simply fluff and actual mechanics to this you could take that and instead of Far Realm have this come from Hell.
Just thought I'd try and revive this, seeing as how I finally got my own hard copies of the Infernum books. Thoughts on Demon/Other Species interaction, and how the Classes might tie to the Children of the Pit.
Mortals: The demon relationship with mortals is simultaneously complex and simple. Demons want -*need*- souls. Mortals have souls. However, simply killing a mortal (unless they're in hell) doesn't yield a harvastable soul. So what are demons to do? The answer is simple: bargain.
Mortals are, by their very nature, prone to wanting things. Power, glory, revenge, sex, aid, all sorts of things. And demons can be quite adequate suppliers: nothing like a Stalker to track down the murdering scum who killed your family and skin him alive. Hulks are perfect mercenaries, and the most powerful ones can shatter entire fortresses. Beasts can tutor mortals in the arcane. Artificers are more than willing to trade hell-crafted arms and armour, and as for malcubi... I"ll steer clear of that.
The basic "faustian" contract is simple. The mortal and the demon swear to a special mystical contract, and in return for the demon completing their side of the bargain, the mortal's soul is automatically condemned to be transported to hell upon their death, rather then slipping into the Shadowfell and then falling down the cracks in the Pit (so to speak). Of course, demons aren't picky, and there's more than a few ways by which the souls of others can be traded, from ritualistic sacrifice to the simple process of opening a portal to hell and shoving the poor bastards through.
Angels/Gods: This relationship is quite simple: the two sides, in essence, are mortal enemies. Even evil Celestials are instinctively repulsed by the demons, and the sight or even the mere smell of an angel sets an ancient, inherited hunger burning inside even the most controlled demon. It is oft claimed that it was a combined effort by all the gods, Good, Evil and Indifferent alike, that wove the Great Curse and bound the demons to the Infernum, fearing that some terrible demon lord would arise and lead its bretheren to ravage the Astral Sea like a monstrous swarm of deicidal carnivorous locusts.
Oh, on occasion you get exarchs or arch-angels who try and descend into hell, either to try and "purge it" (if Good) or to recruit demonic aid (if Evil). Those that come back and don't die of their wounds never dare go down again. The Infernum has swallowed entire armies of angels whole... and spat out the bones in the faces of their enemies.
Classes: Clerics- This class I'm unsure of how to handle. Demon-worshipping cults are a common theme of D&D, but I don't know whether to have it that 'demon gods' can grant their worshippers spells or if the "high priests" of such cults are basically Infernalist pact Warlocks with religious trappings. One idea is to borrow from Warhammer's Chaos and the fact that demons contain, muddied as it is, pure divine essence.
Basically, a Cleric and its demonic patron establish a kind of spiritual link- a mystical conduit that connects their essences, allowing the cleric to draw upon the divine energy within the demon and unleash it upon the material world as Prayers. The cleric's power increases as their essence becomes more firmly 'entwined' with that of their patron- in metagame terms, as their level increases, the bond between human and demon becomes more solid, until a high-level cleric is essentially little more than an extension of their patron. However, when the cleric dies, the conduit "reverses polarity", drawing their soul down and into the pseudo-soul of the demon. In essence, death for the cleric means not being banished to hell, but their very soul being assimilated into their patron's being, increasing their power by the power the cleric had acquired.
That raises the question of what happens to the demon-gods: do they remain in hell no matter how much power they have acquired from their absorbtion of faith and human souls, essentially little more than "demon princes" ala Demogorgon, Orcus and Grazz't, or does a demon who absorbs sufficient amounts of such become a divinity in truth, soaring from the Pit as the chains of the Great Curse shatter and they burst into the Astral Sea, shaping a new Dominion for themself?
Martial Characters in General: No real effect on these classes, though demons might attempt to ensnare souls by bartering infernal weapons, hell-crafted arms & armour and mercenary/hireling work to them.
Warlocks & Wizards: As stated, the Infernal pact seems to essentially be a form of "Vestige pact"; the warlock is making bargains with the essences of slain/imprisoned devils who desire revenge against Asmodeus. Incorporating Infernum suggests that the Infernal pact basically consists of making a contract with a demon for magical powers and being taught how to manipulate "raw magic" in the way demons do.
Wizards learning from demons are still possible; in this case, the contract is basically the same as between two mortal wizards- the mortal offers payment to the demon and the demon tutors him in conventional arcane magic.
Paladin: not a clue how this one might change. Paladins can be any alignment now, but given the already stated idea about demon-god Clerics getting their power through a spiritual link, I don't know how Paladins would be differentiated.
I've been going through my Infernum books and I finally managed to pinpoint most, if not all, of the things that I feel need to be examined and altered to merge the Pit into 4e. Can anyone give me their opnions/advice/suggestions on the following factors?
The timeline Because Infernum was created to be a game where you could actually have a campaign based there instead of the "Weekend in Hell" (ala Ravenloft 2e) approach, the Pit has a rather short age- the current year in which the books are set is 766 AF (After Fall); seven centuries and sixty-six years since the angels first crashed into Hell. There is perhaps some room for 'expansion', as time is basically divided into a number of Ages, consisting of (from the Fall): The Age of Foundation (the creation of the demons, discovery of torture-for-iliaster, the destruction of the angelic hosts and the foundation of the Infernum) The Age of Houses (the nine Noble Houses of Demons -Astyanath, Carthenay, Glabretch, Haimon, Jelac, Oblurott, Riethii, Sturrach, Zethu- form and begin struggling against each other) The Age of Sturrach's War (House Sturrach, grown mighty on its military prowess and alliance with House Carthenay, attempts to conquer all of Hell, finally being stopped and thrown into disarray when its Lord is destroyed along with Lord Zethu. House Jelac is destroyed by House Riethii) The Age of Chaos (the time of rebuilding and turmoil in the wake of the war's end, a band of independent demons begins to usurp the lands once belonging to House Jelac and dub themselves the new 9th House, House Lictat) The Age of Upheaval (recognition of House Lictat, beginning of the Free City Heresy, present day)
Time in the Pit The basic concept of the Infernum is that time is, more or less, meaningless/non-existant. To this end, it depends upon time "stolen" (or perhaps "leeched) from the mortal world by the multitude of great Brass Pillars upon the First Circle, which gulp handfuls of time from the Materium and transmit it to the Clocks of Hell in Pandemonium.
Brokenlanders Demons aren't alone in the Pit. When they rebelled and destroyed their creators, some angels managed to escape to "The Broken Lands", which are the "cold, empty ruins of a dead universe". There, they encounted a strange race of beings, referred to in some texts as the Quillipoth, but which the demons call, simply, Brokenlanders.
The Brokenlanders basically consist of sentient energy lattices inside an incredibly thin but resilient shell of crystalline matter- a Quillipoth looks like sketch in glass and spiderwebs, and the amount of matter used would fit neatly into a thimble. Their universe is all but entirely exhausted; nothing remains but a ringworld orbiting a guttering star. In contrast, the universe that lies beyond Hell is rich in matter, energy, life, emotion and creativity. This, coupled with the fascination their appearance naturally caused, meant the renegade angels were quickly able to enlist the Brokenlanders to their cause. Though the portal to Hell can only be opened rarely, and at considerable cost, when it pens the Quillipoth surge through, driven by something that can only be considered a desperate hunger for the creation beyond.
My main worry about these creatures is simple: where and how would their dead universe fit into the cosmology?
Location of Hell Likewise, where to place the Pit in the "map" of the 4E multiverse is proving problematic. It naturally has some connection to the Shadowfell, but it can also connect to the mortal realm. The vague idea that comes to me depicts it "hanging" halfway between the "Great Works" (Materium, Feywild, Shadowfell) and the Elemental Chaos, and positioned halfway between Materium and Shadowfell.
Level of Technology This is one area I think is a major problem: though a good deal of it is based around "technomancy", blending sorcery/alchemy into industrial machinery, Hell has a technology level roughly equivalent to the early 19th century. Telecommunications in the form of Screamer Lines (which are basically telegrams/telephones where each wire is a soul stretched to hair's thinness and tortured to produce different screams that equate to different sounds), trains (from simplistic giant spawn with embedded armour plate and bolted wheels to biomechanoids), biomechanoids (golem-like abominations created from artificially grown flesh and alchemically created metal that serve various purposes, from golem-like soldiers to transportation), steam engines and firearms.
The Free City Heresey The basic "civilisation" level in Hell is Feudal; the Houses consist, simply, of more powerful demons commanding the obedience of the less powerful. The Free City Heresy is a newcomer to the order of Hell, and is basically a form of democracy. First emerging in Dis, on the 6th circle, it has spread to other locations throughout the Upper Circles and is considered the greatest threat to the current order of the Infernum. To put it simply, the Free City Heresy eliminates Covenants -the mystical bindings that are an essential part of controlling other demons, but requires the demons treat both each other and non-demons as equals.
The Church of the Morningstar This was the first non-House organisation to develop in the Infernum, and emerged from a small group of demons who snuck into Pandemonium (the original wards barring the demons from entering) while the other circles were fighting. They crept right into the Palace of the Morningstar, and found there that the Morningstar, the strangeling orb of mystical fire that serves as Hell's sun, was generated by eldritch engines and arcane machinery. At the center of these, they found the skull of a human woman, ensorcelled to retain the soul of whoever she had been in life. It spoke to the demons, claiming to have been left behind by the First of the Fallen (the Archangel who had been the first cast down) and that, if they would work to maintain the engines, they would be rewarded when it returned.
As the First had never been reported slain on the killing field when the demons rebelled, the demons agreed, studying the powerful angelic magics left behind. However, engines need fuel, and like almost everything in Hell the Morningstar was fuelled by iliaster. When their reserves ran out, the demons approached the Nine Houses, eventually working out a deal. The demons of the Pit would tithe iliaster to keep the Morningstar alight, and the Priests of the Morningstar would serve as a way to get particularly troublesome demons out of the way without actually killing them.
While they are, fundamentally, a kind of social service (they keep the sun going- what else do you call it?), the Church has grown over time into a deliberate mockery of mortal religions (though there are a few screw-loose demons who actually believe the "faith" professed by the Morningstar). The problem is, the default Infernum version is a parody of the monotheistic Judao-Christian faith: how would it be altered for a setting where the default religion is polytheism? My best guess is that they would mock most if not all of the various Good religions, especially Sun and Purity-related faiths.
Abhorei During the age of Foundation, two demons managed to "slip the net" before the demons found out how to torture souls for iliaster. One, an imp named Glabretch, would become the founder of House Glabretch, the disease-mongers. The other, a beast named Abhor, slipped away through the tunnels and sailed across to the other side of the Sunless Sea, there to found a new race of parasitic demon-creatures he came to call "Abhorei". These vile monstrosities function by grafting themselves to the bodies of living beings and feeding of their energy- spawn, mortal, demon, angel, it's all the same to them. And they hate their "cousins" greatly.
This one I don't have much of a problem with, but I was wondering: perhaps the Abhorei could have evolved so divergently due to exposure/proximity to the Far Realm? In much the way some Aberrations of the profanities of mortal life created by exposure to such alien energies, perhaps the same energies transformed early demons into body-snatching logistical monstrosities?
In other words, would tieing/connecting the Abhorei to the Far Realm be a valid 'tweak' of their fluff?
That is so awesome. Its also oddly similar to an idea I had, in which the elementals each had their own moon, and all of them were basically made of essence, in a different form(ie fire would be essence becoming plasma, air is gaseous essence, water liquid, and earth solid. There is also essence in its own form, and it can't be changed from one to the other form after it is already essence. Then it would start to change on what is basically an atomic structure as it all moves together, which also allows elementals to become stronger simply with normal water, earth, air, or fire, while remaining impure) Then this sort of stuff is used by human mages for power. They basically just drain off the essence and shove it in an item for the safest method, which is also the least used. The other methods involve shoving the essence in without draining it out and cutting its connection to the moon, which also leaves the consciousness of the elemental.
You should probably use illiaster for that sort of stuff too, with mortals providing the main form, and both a quick drain method, and a slow drain(you already have that however). However, there would also be attacks against angels, and the elementals would be another target, although it is arguably one of the most dangerous, since the illiaster is impure.
Thank you Holy_Beholder... I think. I can't really understand what you're saying, but I gather that you like this idea.
So, can anyone comment on my concerns? Give me their opinions on possible fixes for the listed problems?
What about suggestions for how the Infernum might be useful for adventurers? The basic "assumption" is that all of the planes should be accessible for gaming, if I recall correctly, rather than the "sinkholes" of previous editions (the life-sapping Negative Energy Elemental Plane, for example). Well, Infernum is designed by default so that campaigns for mortal parties can be actually set there without the goal being "ESCAPE!!!", but I'm not sure how well its themes would blend with more fantastical 'base settings'.
For example, in canon-Infernum, a campaign might be set around establishing your own stronghold, defeating a more powerful rival (and/or usurping its place), taking part in a war on Abhorei, aiding the efforts of your House/The Free City Heresy, etc...
Just decided to try my hands at some rudimentary Creation myths- can anyone please critique it or make suggestions on changes/improvements? First up, the Creation of the Planes.
Scholars argue which came first, but all agree that, in the beginning, the Worlds were two: the Elemental Chaos, the World of Matter, and the Astral Sea, the World of Spirit. For time beyond meaning, for time is something of the 4th World, there was nothing but the endless shifting and swirling of the currents of the two worlds, until life first blossomed within the Astral Seas, the unmarred essence colaescing into the Gods themselves. Eventually, the Gods, beings of pure Spirit, were drawn in wonder to the Elemental Chaos, and found that they had the power to shape this untamed priomrdial Matter as they willed. Crudely and clumsily at first, but with ever-greater proficiency as time passed on, as a mortal sculptor becomes progressively better at her art.
And so was shaped the 3rd World, the World that would become known as Hell, as the Gods tested their newfound abilities in the ultimate expression of shaping Matter. Some scholars, noting Hell's abundance of rock and metal, proclaim that the 3rd World was constructed entirely from the hardest, densest materials, as the Gods were as yet too unskilled and unrefined to work with finer, more fragile substances. Whether or not that was the case, the 3rd World was created entirely from the raw stuff of the Elemental Chaos, a practising ground for the Gods that culminated, finally, in their greatest work: breathing Life into inanimate material, creating the crude works known as Spawn.
Yet the Gods found themselves disappointed. For all of their hard work, they had produced nothing but a cold, dark, ugly, barren World, populated by mindless monstrosities. Much like children confronted with an unwanted toy or similar diversion, they abandoned their work and returned to the Astral Sea, wondering what had gone wrong. It was then that one of their number (and precisely who it was differs from story to story) suggested that they try again, but that this time they mix Spirit in with their sculpted Matter, a suggestion that intrigued the Gods and reinspired them.
Thus was born the 4th World, the World of Mortals, the perfect fusion of Matter and Spirit. Stories differ on the creation of the Feywild, the 5th World, with some suggesting it was an attempt at creating a World with a greater proportion of Spirit and others that, like the 6th World, the Shadowfell, it was an unintended reflection, a strange shadow cast by the light of blazing essence and swirling creation-stuff.
Whatever the case, when their works were finished, the Gods retired to the Astral Sea in great pride and contentment, taking joy in their work. They cherished their mortal creations, so much more elegant and wonderous than the ugly Spawn, but it was this cherishment, this pride, that led to the War in the Heavens...