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Friday, January 13, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - A Guide to the Nine Hells

This is an overview and outline of the Nine Hells in Dungeons & Dragons. This plane has been detailed in many different products and each realm has unique features. This is meant to be a resource for you to draw from if you use the Nine Hells in your campaign.

I used a million different sourcebooks to put this together. I just took basic information, these books have all the fine details. Here are the ones that I think are the most useful:
I’ve taken information from every edition and combined it into one big version of the Nine Hells. If you just want the 5th edition version unfettered, check out the DMG page 64.
Here's the essential information you should know:
  • Devils are lawful and they live in Hell.
  • Demons are chaotic and they live in the Abyss.
The war between them is known as the Blood War.

There are nine layers of Hell, each with its own ruler. Some rulers were replaced as the editions of D&D went on. This is the current 5th edition roster:
  1. Avernus, ruled by Zariel
  2. Dis, ruled by Dispater
  3. Minauros, ruled by Mammon
  4. Phlegethos, ruled by Belial and Fierna
  5. Stygia, ruled by Levistus
  6. Malbolge, ruled by Glasya
  7. Maladomini, ruled by Baalzebul
  8. Cania, ruled by Mephistopheles
  9. Nessus, ruled by Asmodeus
Asmodeus is the ruler of all devils.


The Nine Hells are also known as “Baator.” In 4th edition, Baator was a planet in the astral sea. In other editions, it is a plane shaped like a mountain turned on its head. The first layer is vast and the others get progressively smaller, though technically most are described as being infinitely large.

There are less details on some the lower planes, suggesting there’s less in them. That said, there is a pile of info on Nessus spread throughout many different books.

Portals are Guarded: Any known, fixed portals to Hell are heavily guarded by Styx devils and barbed devils.

Traveling to the Nine Hells

Known Gate: There is a gate to Avernus in Ribcage known as "The Cursed Gate." You need an official invite from an archdevil, but most people bribes their way through or obtain a forged set of papers. Ribcage is in the Outlands and eventually gets dragged into the Nine Hells.

Sigil: There are portals in Sigil to the Nine Hells. They’re hard to find, because they jump from one location to another. Supposedly, once you know the pattern, it's easy. There is one detailed in the Stygian Masque from Dungeon #219, but that is incredibly dangerous and very high level.

The Malsheem Portal: In the very bottom of Hell, right in Asmodeus’s home, there is a portal to a mortal realm. Nobody knows which one.

Fortresses: Most portals into and out of Hell are in the fortresses of archdevils and dukes. When a portal is found, the devils usually build around it.

Avernus, the First Layer of the Nine Hells

Avernus is described slightly differently in each edition. It is a plane of darkness with rocky crags, deserts of ash and rivers of lava. Blood and viscera coat the surface of the realm, all of which is the remnants of past battles. Red and black clouds in the sky flicker with gouts of orange flame. 

There are toothy mountains with sharp edges of crystalline rock. Many rocks in Avernus seem to have tormented faces etched into them.

Armies: Avernus is always described as a marshaling ground and training area for infernal armies. Demons invade sometimes during the blood war.

The River Styx runs right through the middle of Avernus.

Fireballs: The most prominent trait of Avernus are the fireballs that appear and explode. Each edition handles them differently:
  • 1st Edition: Fireballs form spontaneously, beginning as a glowing, swirling effect in the air. You need to make a saving throw and hit the dirt or you’re taking a pile of damage. If you see a forming fireball, you can cast gust of wind to push it away.
  • 2nd Edition: Fireballs fly through the air at random. The DM should check for one every hour.
  • 3rd Edition: Fireballs careen through the atmosphere, falling from the clouds to the ground. It is said that the fireballs generated by Zariel, who at this time was imprisoned by Bel. The fireballs seek out victims and home in on invaders.
  • 4th Edition: In 4e, there are Avernus cinderstorms (or "battle's bane"), an event where fireballs just keep coming down on you each round. The fireballs are attracted to the blood and lament of the wounded. It continues to attack every round until no creatures are bloodied.
  • 5th Edition: Fiery comets fall from the darkened sky and leave fuming impact craters behind. 
Falling Souls: Sometimes, burning souls fall from the sky. The devils call them “crater makers.” These souls are actually lucky. They have the ability to get up and flee. It is possible for them to return to their old lives. It is said that this occurs when a devil contract is faulty.

Firefungus: This is the only food source on Avernus that is edible to non-devils. It wiggles and is marginally nutritious. It is found in patches of ground recently struck by fireballs.

The Lake of Blood: The Lake of Blood spills from the Stigmaris mountains and flows into the river of blood. Some say the source of the blood is unknown. Others say it is the blood of all past victims on the layer.

The River of Blood: This river is full of infernal leeches. It eventually flows into the River Styx. There may be a whole system of rivers of blood/fluids that merge with the Styx.

The Road of Good Intent: This road isn’t described much other than that it leads to a succession of wrecked cities, crosses over the River Styx and ends at the maggot pit. Along the route are the ruined gate towns of Ribcage, Darkspine and others. These towns were corrupted by devils and they slipped entirely into the Nine Hells.

Darkspine: These ruins are described in a few products. There is one tavern, the Pig and Poke.

A harvester devil named Jebelam tries to tempt visitors or report on them to the Dark Eight. There is also a cornugon guard called Montelado who gladly takes bribes. He was stationed here as a punishment for Blood War failures. Gangs of pain devils and bearded devils rummage through the debris.

The Bronze Citadel: This is the former ruler Bel's ever-expanding fortress. It has 14 concentric rings, each with its own gate guarded by devils. There’s a lot to it:
  • It is loaded with ballistae and catapults and bristling with war machines.
  • It takes up 600 square miles, stretching back through the Stigmaris mountains.
  • Each member of the Dark Eight has a household here.
  • The halls are full of devils seeking arbitration, petitioners, lemures, and hundreds of thousands of lesser devils bound for the Blood War.
  • There are also thousands of spined devils, bearded devils, and legion devils.
  • Adventurers captured trespassing in the Nine Hells are brought here to plead their case before Bel or a lieutenant. 
The Maggot Pit: This is a very important locale. This 1,000 foot diameter pit converts the souls of the damned into lemures. Filled with ooze and writhing white worms, pain devils push the damned in. Once the damned drown, the maggots eat and excrete them. The excrement becomes gelatinous lemures. The Maggot Pit is overseen by Arraka, a red abishai.

The Pillar of Skulls: This pillar is made of the heads of sages who lied to customers in life. The skulls can answer questions, but they demand payment. The payment is that a creature must be pushed inside them and digested. That creature’s head joins the pillar.

One head usually takes charge. The heads can't be slain, but they can be knocked inert for a time.

In 3rd edition, the pillar is made of trophies taken from the blood war. It’s full of twisted, demonic skulls and rises to a height of no more than a mile.

Gates of Malsperanze: This is an archway guarded by gates of iron. It has molten runes that say: "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”  Beyond the gates is a road of skulls that leads to Dis, the second layer.

Tiamat's Fortress: A jagged, crown-shaped mountain redoubt. There are five watchtowers, each carved to look like the head and neck of a watchful dragon. The main entrance is only accessible to flying creatures. Other stuff:
  • Nondragon worshipers of Tiamat appear here as wriggling soul forms. Some become white abishai. The rest are sold.
  • The secondary entrance is a cave near the maggot pit.
  • When inside, it appears to be infinite.
  • There are miles of corridors and treasure caverns, with every coin guarded by a fiendish dragon.
  • Tiamat sold the secrets of abishai physiology so that archdevils can promote them.
  • Tiamat at one time would continuously make babies, spawning eggs every 6 days. Any mewlings that had multiple heads were devoured.
Lake of Despond: Newly damned souls appear here. This could be the place where the River Styx begins. A great funnel-like storm cloud is above it, pulling people from the astral plane to the Nine Hells. If you enter the lake, it has a diminishing effect and you are overcome with despair.

The Few: Dagos commands this legion of devils who like to teleport and attack from the rear.

The Ash Riders of Avernus: Hell Knights who ride wyverns and patrol the realm.

Dis, the Second Layer of the Nine Hells

Most of Dis is comprised of the massive city of Dis. Above it is a flat, smoky green sky in which lightning flickers.

Outside the city walls, the plains of Dis contain "wild" erinyes and hellcats. Mysterious pillars of stone move about the rolling hills.

The city of Dis is made of rusting iron, full of eyrie-riddled towers, zombies, garbage-choked streets alive with rot grubs and black puddings. A road of broken skulls leads to black walls. The skulls transform into spurs of hot iron but must be walked on to get inside.

The entrance is sudden. AS you approach, the walls of the city loom large and then you're instantly in a mazelike street. City details:
  • Population: 400,000.
  • The citizen include devils, damned, cambions, tieflings, planar travelers, spectres, corruption devils, abishai, lemures, spinagons, imps, rakshasas and erinyes.
  • The City of Dis is surrounded by a moat.
  • When inside, it looks infinitely large.
  • Abishai perch on the walls, keeping an eye on toiling petitioners.
  • The streets and walls are hot, and will do damage,
  • The walls and buildings have metallic rods that collect evil energy from suffering.
  • Much of the city is an uninhabited maze.
  • Some businesses in the city use flayed skins of low level devils as carpets and shades to keep the interiors cooler.
  • No two maps of Dis are the same. The city's configuration always changes.
  • Work is always being done on the streets. Slaves scream and burn as they labor.
  • Throughout the city,  there are iron statues of Dispater with glowing red eyes. They are scrying devices.
  • There are vents in walls of the city. In them, you can hear screams from prisons below.
  • The Hall of Infernal Might: A huge temple of Asmodeus in the heart of Dis. The damned worship him.
The Fetters: The slums, where planars come to trade. Gangs of thieves fight for control. Dispater's spies and informants are everywhere, Inns include the Crown of Iron, Fool's Hope, King's Arms.

Dispater's Iron Tower: The tower is 999 miles tall and changes shapes constantly to a cone, a spiral, a starburst, a squat dome, a stabbing fist, and other endless variations. Walking toward Dispater's tower doesn't work. You feel like you're making progress but you can't get closer. No matter where you are, it appear to be a block away. There is a trick to getting in.

If you get inside, there is one way for visitors to move room to room. It involves plucking petals from a flower that creates portals.

In the tower, Dispater’s throne room always seems one corridor away. Supposedly, the inner sanctum is a much larger city which is magically even farther away from Dispater.

Rumor has it that Dispater might be building a working model of Sigil to study ways to break the locks that the Lady of Pain controls.

The Iron Guard: Dispater's war devil bodyguards

The Pits of Dis: Caverns beneath the tower. Prisoners live in unshackled savagery, fighting for edible garbage.

The Bastille of Flesh: This place houses mortals who were captured wandering in Hell. The jailers force them to compete to survive and strip them of all decency, ultimately corrupting them.

The Bastille of Souls: A warehouse of soul shells that are not lawful evil, but somehow ended up in Hell anyway. Dispater can't use them himself, but he can use them for trade or ransom. These souls can't be raised or resurrected.

Mentiri: This prison holds mortals that broke the laws of hell. Polymorphed devils to sow discord. Once corrupted, the prisoners are killed and reborn as lemures and nupperibos. Sometimes souls of mortals end up here without being damned. Due to ancient compacts, they cannot be tormented nor destroyed, but they don’ t have to be released.

God Street: A winding lane inside a plaza bounded with faceless statues that is home to would-be and has-been lawful evil deities. These deities scheme and live in impossibly huge temples. This street can only be visited through magic. The gods include:
  • Khandovar the Punisher (torture)
  • Z'zelth of the Eighth Order (false knowledge)
  • Uin the Unseeing (blind obedience)
The Spectres of Dis: The city is haunted by a legion of spectres, creatures who realized just when they died that they were wrong about their evil ways. They seek out mortals for a lethal comforting embrace of the virtuous.

They weep and wail and give off evil energy that is collected in metallic rods that give Dispater power. The other archdevils want to know how he does this.

The Garden of Delights: This enticing place is staffed with comely servants, cool beverages, silken pillows sweetmeats and fruits. The longer you're here, the less chance you leave, Dispater forbids his subjects to enter. as this is a place for corruption, not for recreation. Most of this place is comprised of illusions made by a bound fire genie.

The Iron Defenders: This legion is led by General Zapan and they are experts at engineering and holding their ground. More armies are commanded by Alocer, Bitru and Merodach.

Minauros, the Third Layer of the Nine Hells

This realm is an outland marsh of stinking earth covered with carrion and inches of water. Under the leaden sky are volcanic badlands, ash hills and lime-filled rifts. A never-ending cycle of polluted rain, sleet and hail pummels the realm. The sleet leaves an oily residue and the hail is jagged and sharp, flaying skin from bones.

Disease is rampant and there are underwater realms where giant shadow creatures roam. It is possible to fall through a slimy sluice and slide all the way down to the fourth layer, Phlegethos.

The City of Minauros: This is said to be the size of a world. The city is slowly sinking into the muck. The major industry is the soul trade.

Soul trading involves swapping souls for goods or treasure, buying and selling mortal prisoners, dealing out souls that are not lawful evil, and more. Styx devils specialize in this.

Mammon's fortress is built on bodies.

The Pits: In the layer of Minauros, there are shallow pits filled with 2 to 3 feet of water. Captured intruders are shackled and left here to die. Barbed devils perch on the sides of the pit of a cell, burning the heads of prisoners below with magical flames. 

Sometimes, prisoners are tied to stone columns, left to slowly get sucked into the bog. On occasion, the devils are known to let a captive escape so that they can hunt them.

Jangling Hiter: The home of the chain devils is a city made of chains that disappear into the infinite sky above. It is a terrible place where the chain devils rule and others live in mortal fear of them. The devils here produce the best chains known in all of existence.

The damned are brought here from all corners of the plane. So much torturing goes on in Jangling Hiter that it becomes noise pollution.

Rulers: This city used to be ruled by Pollus Windscreaer, a hamatula who was a disinterested figurehead.Another ruler, a pit fiend, was turned into a stone statue for his failures.

The city was eventually taken over by Sagirsa, an archdevil who found Mammon’s favor. It says in 3rd edition that she is a corruption devil, but in 4th edition she’s an archdevil. Maybe she was a corruption devil that ascended. She and Mammon have a chain devil daughter named Baelzra.

Rules: Don't steal, don't kill, don't create chaos.

Climbing the Chains: Climbing up the chains doesn’t really work. You magically never go higher than 50 feet. From the ground, it appears as if you're making progress. In later editions, it says that the chains are covered in razors.

The Statue: There is a massive statue of Sagirsa in the city. Devils leave offerings in its cupped hands.

Panos Qytel: This is a triple-towered structure in Jangling Hiter detailed in Tales from the Infinite Staircase. It is the home of Quimath, a chain devil who has imprisoned a mature nupperibo.

Sections of the city:
  • Visitor’s Quarter aka the "Meat Quarter": People hiding from chain devils
  • Fiend Quarter
  • Merchant Quarter: Safest part of the city
The City of Man: This city is a trap, designed to lure mortals in and slowly corrupt them.

Ruler: Alasta the Keen, an erinyes. She's new. One of the Dark Eight, Furcas, seems to be the shadow ruler.

This town is is broken into nine concentric rings. The area inside each ring is devoted to a certain temptation. One you've mastered it, you can access the next one.

They are: Sensation, Desire, Purity, Emotion, Logic, Understanding, Body, Mind and Power.

Once a mortal reaches the center, they are either cast into the planes or transformed into a lemure.

The Labyrinth of Truths: In these twisting hallways, Mammon's Styx devil bureaucrats store a variety of documents. Each of the heavily-guarded nine floors holds different types of documents: Personnel files, inventories of everything in every building in Minauros, dungeon and treasure maps, rituals and scrolls that record words of power.

The Gleaming Guard: General Zaebos leads an army that wears gleaming armor stolen from angels and wields magic items. Zaebos bullies his erinyes messengers, who are miserable. It is believed that the erinyes are spies of other archdevils.

Phlegethos, the Fourth Layer of the Nine Hells

Phlegethos is the classic vision of Hell, a place of fire and lava. It has the unique distinction of being a place where Asmodeus killed a god. It's a little confusing, but from what I can tell, in one edition it is said that the god was slain where Abriymoch stands. In another, it says the god died in or near the Lake of Fire. They could be two separate entities, not sure.

Phlegethos is full of volcanoes, fires, pits of smoking dung, hills of ash, and rivers of liquid fire. Above the black plains of cracked and cooling lava, the starless sky is lit by leaping flames.

The ground is so hot that mortals take fire damage each round here. Petitioners are frequently dropped into lava by devils.

The Road of Cinders: This road is a broken maze of lava tubes that travels from Abriymoch to Stygia. This is a very dangerous path to take, as floods of lava spill down through the tubes infrequently.

Phlegethos has many outside visitors. It is easy to hide, here, but there are a lot of devils moving about. The flames of the realm actually curve toward those who aren't authorized by devils to be in the realm.

Firefalls: In Phlegethos, rivers of fire tumble from volcanic ridges. It is said that the best flame tongues and helms of brilliance are made here.

Abriymoch, The Mount of Leaping Flames: Belial and Fierna rule Phlegethos from their home in a hollow volcano. This city has walls of barely-cooled magma, obsidian and crystal. The entire structure creates the illusion of a tortured god breaching the surface of a lake of lava.

The interior is lined with balconies connected by a spiral path. At the top, the lips of the volcano hold basalt towers. The central section of the city can only be traversed using gondolas made of Baatorian green steel. The foundation of this place is said to be the grave of a deity slain by Asmodeus.

Some books say that the ore for Baatorian green steel is drawn from this volcano. Others say that Baatorian green steel is found only on Avernus.

The Court Infernal: Abriymoch is home to pit fiends who settle disputes between devils. Souls are granted a fair hearing to dispute soul contracts. The soul will literally have to argue against a devil's advocate before a pit fiend judge. Presiding over the court system is Shamane, a corruption devil who is a stickler for detail.

Governor: Gazra, the pit fiend. Gazra is given a lot of power in Phlegethos. For a time it was said that Fierna let him run the layer with little supervision. He is the consort of Fierna and he is quietly jealous of Belial. Gazra lives in a castle of crystal statues.

Police: 5,000 hamatula

Tymphalos, the Mouth of Iron: This volcano holds a foundry where lesser devils and hundreds of duergar toil to forge weapons of hell. It is run by an archdevil named Tymphal, a mechanical genius and master smith. He distrusts Fierna and tries to ignore events outside his workshop,

The Pit of Flame: This huge lake of boiling filth and white flame is a place of punishment for devils that failed in their duties. The flames of the pit are of a special kind that affects those with immunity to fire. It triggers convulsive agony and an inability to think. It isn’t explicitly said, but this sounds like it is hellfire.

In Planescape, the pit is described as a tall inferno full of metal orbs. Devils are placed in the orbs and left to suffer, sometimes for years.

A cornugon named Zammasir runs the pit with a force of horned devil guards. Bone devils have a special ability that allows them to magically deposit devils (except pit fiends) here.

Some devils come here to voluntarily bathe in the flames, sort of like a trip to a sauna. The flames are said to give strength to those who endure their torments.

The Lake of Fire: A vast lake of burning pitch in the middle of Phlegethos, the lake of fire is a neutral ground for diabolical disputes. It is said that Asmodeus killed the previous master of this realm right on this spot. The dying deity uttered a wrathful curse, submerging Asmodeus's faithless angels in seething fire.

Devils cannot abide the torment of this lake.

The Walkers in Fire: General Pearza commands this army, known for using fire on themselves and others. They are famous for using erinyes and pain devil wizards to fly above and send fireballs down on their enemies.

Stygia, the Fifth Layer of the Nine Hells

Stygia is an icy realm known for its great frozen sea and mammoth icebergs. The Styx winds through it but somehow does not mix with the waters. The realm is dimly lit by green-blue auroras of flickering frostfire and cold lightning that strikes most flying creatures.

Cold fires burn on rocky peaks after a lightning strike. Shooting stars of ice plunge into the swamp.

Avalanches and electrical storms are frequent, as are roaming glaciers controlled by Styx devils who delight in torturing lemures. The Styx devils believe that the laws of Hell do not apply to them, but they obey Levistus.

Tantlin: Tantlin was the home of Geryon, the former ruler of Stygia. This castle is situated at the center of the plane. Tantlin is considered an important trading post due to being right on the Styx.

With Geryon gone and the current ruler trapped in a glacier, the ruler of Tantlin had significant power. She was an unnamed pit fiend whose presence is feared. She believed that the strong should survive.

Gangs of devils and planars roam the streets, dispensing their own brand of law. Each faction controls a section of the city and go out of their way not to hurt merchants or workers.

In 3rd edition, the city was restored. The pit fiend was frozen and shattered, with pieces of her remains becoming magic items and collectibles. They will melt in warm temperatures, increasing their value.

The city has been reorganized with a caste system. Tantlin is organized in concentric rings where the most powerful devils live in the center.

The big industry in Tantlin is paperwork. Calligraphy, books, scrolls and documents.

Near Tantlin are mines eternally being quarried by belabored petitioners.

The Tomb of Levistus: Prince Levistus is frozen in an iceberg but is fully aware of his surroundings. He can telepathically communicate to devils within a 10 mile radius

The iceberg prison of Levistus circulates through Stygia, guarded by gelugons and a regiment of erinyes. The ice magically resists all attempts to excavate him. Other sections of the glacier have countless, confusing corridors lined with frozen bodies.

Deep in the tunnel are the halls of frozen memory, where still-living beings are entombed in pillars of ice. These creatures are primarily mortals that opposed Levistus.

Below the waterline, souls are stocked. These souls wander the tunnels of the glacier aimlessly, with no warmth or comfort. They can become encased in a rime of frost if they don’t keep moving. These souls are being hoarded by Levistus for a sinister plan.

At the base of the glacier are floating docks where icebreaker ships unload soul cargo.

Duelist's Chasm: If a devil applies for and receives a License of Lawful Combat, they are permitted to fight in this arena lined with red slush. Barbazu gambling masters take bets.

The master of this place is a Styx devil named Galgub, who wants to be transferred to a warmer layer of Hell.

Hall of the Vanquished: Souls of powerful creatures are stored in this museum/training ground.

The Hall of Tragedies: This theater is the dwelling of Asmodeus's assassin devils, the Stygian Masque. They wield god-slaying daggers.

The Pillar of Geryon: A forgotten monument on a glacier, this pillar grants powers to those willing to give their head or hand to Geryon.

The Stygian Champions: Baalzephon runs this maneuverable army. They have a reputation of being a mobile, swashbuckling force. 

Malbolge, the Sixth Layer of the Nine Hells

This realm has undergone a number of transformations linked to the changes in rulership. Originally, Moloch ruled Malbolge but was ousted by the Hag Countess. She was eventually transformed into an abomination that covered the layer, which is now ruled by Glasya. Glasya uses the giant-sized bones of the Hag Countess as buildings.

Apparently, creatures who drop to 0 hit points in Malbolge are dragged into the Hag Countess/ground by tendrils and devoured. Creatures known as kalabons are literally sentient chunks of her flesh that roam the land.

During the Hag Countess’s reign, Malbolge was on a tilt. Falling was a constant danger for travelers and boulders rolled around in magical patterns. Copperclad fortresses were built to withstand rolling boulders.

The Hag's Innards: There are a lot of stories about the underground area of Malbolge. In the tunnels with foul-smelling pools, devils wander and hunt the damned for sport. When down below, mortals will take acid damage each round from the dripping digestive juices. There are said to be many creatures living down there and that there are underground cities full of ancient monsters.

Osseia, Fortress of Glasya: Osseia is made from the skull of the Hag Countess and has red eyes that can shoot flames. It is located on a rounded hill above a perfumed garden. The exterior is adorned with erotic statues and poisonous plants.

Inside there are five luxurious floors with well-guarded playrooms. A close inspection of the furniture and ornamentation reveals that it is all made from the lacquered bones of countless victims.

Forest of Sighs: The trees of this forest were once strands of the Hag Countess’s hair. Glasya impales those she is bored with on the branches. They don't die, the trees feed on them and nourish them simultaneously. The victims rot away over the course of decades.

Birthing Pits: These pits are similar to the Maggot Pits in Avernus. Damned souls are pushed into pools full of larvae and pits lined with dozens of toothless mouths. When the feeding and excreting is done, these pools and pits expel a lemure.

The Knives: Some of Malbolge's old surface shows through as jagged obsidian shards. Those who walk on them find that they drop away, causing them to plunge far below.

Slag, the Final Fortress: Back in the early days of Malbolge, there were 13 different bronze fortresses, each devoted to a different cruelty. Only one remains, a half-melted structure that Moloch lived in.

In this fortress, Moloch used to dip his victims in molten gold. He'd put them in niches and gaze upon their pain. It was said that Moloch was imprisoned under here for a time, possibly encased in gold as well. Moloch really gets around.

The Ten Towers: Ten crooked towers, each being one of the Hag Countess's fingers. Now they are guard posts for erinyes. One of them is known as the Tower of Pain. Glasya imprisons and torments her most dangerous foes here. Lower levels hold adventurers.

It is believed that the Hag Countess’s inner circle and her nightmare, Bloodcurdle, are imprisoned here and tortured horribly. From what I can tell, her inner circle included 3 hags, at least one medusa and a corruption devil. In addition to Bloodcurdle, she owned a stable of nightmares.

Lakes of Bile: These lakes produce poisons and acids that Glasya’s agents bottle and sell. One lake produces a mood-scrambling intoxicant that causes horrific hallucinations.

Glasya took the souls that the Hag Countess owned and experimented on them. Some are beautiful, some are hideous

The Creeping Cadre: General Furcas leads this army that uses disease and poison as weapons. Their blades leave lingering marks on their foes.

Maladomini, the Seventh Layer of the Nine Hells

Maladomini is a realm full of fire pits and smoke under a blood-black sky. Bridges with diabolic faces cross rivers of molten fire, strip mines belch filth, slag heaps burn and filth litters the roads.

The realm is dotted with the ruins of cities and quarries where devils and slaves toil. In the ruins, petitioners hide along with beasts and devils who lost their territories. Some link to tunnels underground where there are creatures who lived in Baator before the time of the devils.

Maladomini is constantly being built and torn down due to Baalzebul’s perfectionism. Petitioners dig without tools, looking for stone and mineral. They build parts of a city and then are told to move on.

Malagard: Baalzebul lives in this fortress of great black stone. The name is similar to the name of the Hag Countess, Malagarde. I try to refer to her as the Hag Countess to avoid confusion. Here are details:
  • The Palace of Filth: A bubble of dung and refuse in Malagard. This is where Baalzebul lives.
  • Malagard is beautiful, full of perfect boulevards and exquisite fountains. It will soon be torn down because Baalzebul strives for perfection.
  • Those who stay in the city for 6 hours or more may succumb to the sin of sloth.
  • There is filth everywhere. There are entire towers are full of reeking debris.
  • It is full of cells of prisoners and larvae to be devoured.
  • It is so vast that those who escape prison cells never make it out.
  • Weird creatures roam this underworld.
  • Baalzebul has a large collection of gems and plants. 
Carnival Macabre: Located under a sluice, this place offers dark pleasures and degradation. There is a black market where devils barter for forbidden items such as stolen souls, hidden treasures, writs of safe passage, and books of banned rituals.

No Pit Fiends: Pit fiends are not allowed in Maladomini. Baalzebul fears them.

Amputees: Over half of the devils here are missing a limb due to Baalzebul’s love of torture and dismemberment.

The Road of Perdition: This road is said to be lined with grotesque statues.

Grenpoli: This city is a place of political treachery where weapons and offensive spells are forbidden. It is extremely similar to the City of Man in Minauros.

The only way in is through one of the four gates.Weapons must be handed over to the guards upon entry. Details:
  • Ruler: Mysdemn Wordtwister, an erinyes and a master politician.
  • Real Ruler: It is said that the true power here is the pit fiend Lenphant, chief administrator of the infernal bureaucracy.
  • Everyone in Grenpoli betrays each other and hatches schemes.
  • It is illegal to carry weapons or cast spells, and it is punishable by death.
  • There's only one punishment for crime here: death.
  • Mysdemn has spies throughout the city, informants who tell her everything.
  • The Political School: This place teaches you how to think like a devil, and all of the portals in and out of hell. Most erinyes graduate from this place.
  • There are magical wards that actually teleport weapons away.
  • Erinyes patrols can dispel and counter most magic.
Offalion: A pile of rubble where devils practice subterfuge to prepare for corrupting mortals. Mortals are often pressed into service here.

The Maladominaar: The army of Maladomini, led by General Zimimar, It contains elite shocktroops who can scatter and divide enemies. The heart of his army is the Nyashk, 16 bugbear sorceresses who wear helmets that look like the heads of giant flies, wield acid-spewing rods and fire off disintegrate spells in major battles.

Cania, the Eighth Layer of the Nine Hells

This lightless, frozen realm is incredibly cold, causing frostbite within hours. There are many corpses, frozen perfectly. Setting fires attracts ice devils.

Secret Lairs: Cania is full of secret, frozen locales. There are icy cities with forgotten libraries, ghost-haunted palaces and cities encased in ice holding angels and spined creatures of unknown origin. In the underground caverns it is said that many of the angels who refused to rebel against He Who Was lurk, now undead beings of terrible power.

Citadel of Mephistar: Locked in place by a number of glaciers, Mephistopheles rules from this a white-blue jewel with walls of carved glacial ice. The interior is very hot and contains lavish heated baths, scented fires, and hell-bright tapestries. Gelugon nobles wait on Mephistopheles. There is a garden of frost, a frozen facsimile of a living garden.

Devils live here in tenements. The lowest-ranked devils live in squalor at the bottom, while greater devils live in vast suites at the top.

The School of Hellfire: There is a school of hellfire, which is 99 stories tall, made of Baatorian green steel and surrounded by poisonous vapor. The dean is a pit fiend named Quagrem. Here, devils can learn the secrets of wielding hellfire.

Mephistar is on a glacier that roams about, obliterating lesser glaciers. This glacier has wiped out entire invading fiendish armies.

Kintyr: This is the lost city of a lesser archdevil high between two mountains. The archdevil was destroyer for being be faithless to Mephistopheles (he was possibly one of the betrayers when Mephistopheles pretended to be Molikroth) and entombed in cursed ice.

There is an artifact here that Mephistopheles wants, but the slain archdevil’s ancient wards hide it from all devils. Mephistopheles forces mortal prisoners to search for it, but none have survived the excursion. The school of hellfire has been excavating it, but have had no success.

Portal to Nessus: At the bottom of a glacial pit, 9,999 ice devils guard it this portal. To go through the portal, you must plunge into an icy lake and swim 1,0001 fathoms through icy slush. Down there is a portal of ice and corrupted silver. This portal leads to Malsheem in Nessus.

Nebulat: A mountain retreat where ice devils live. They are led by an archdevil named Tuncheth and they are not happy about hellfire. They spy on the school of hellfire and are developing their own cold-based magic called The Plume, which actually freezes the bloodstream of living creatures.

The Serpentine Order: General Corin runs this legion of spies, infiltrators and assassins. They are good at disguising themselves as different types of demons.

There is an elite guard of hell knights here who ride mammoths instead of nightmares.

Nessus, the Ninth Layer of the Nine Hells

It is said that Nessus is so difficult to get to that anyone who does so is given the power of an ice devil or higher.

Nessus is flat and desolate. A network of gorges and canyons scar the realm, home to millions of devils. Any bridges are deadly unless the magic password is known.

Devils can't teleport in or out of this realm. Non-devils can use plane shift to do so.

Malsheem: This is Asmodeus’s grand palace, a fey court of darksome beauty with a tangible aura of despair and filled with the sounds of weeping. It contains halls of gold-veined marble, walls covered in intricate gold leaf and furnishings of the finest quality.

In the center of the palace is a great magic gate that goes to any plane the user chooses. Any amount of creatures can pass through it. Asmodeus can't destroy or affect it. It is believed that in some mortal realm, there is a magic portal that connects to this gate. Details:
  • It is the largest citadel in the outer planes.
  • It is on the floor of the lowest rift..
  • It holds an army of millions of devils held in reserve for a cataclysmic battle that Asmodeus thinks will dwarf the Blood War.
  • When someone who is not lawful evil walks on the stone of this palace, smoke rises from their footsteps.
  • The guards and servants are pit fiends.
Tabjari:  This is a copper citadel that can be accessed by trapped tunnels. It houses a copy of the Pact Primeval, which spews forth goodness and demotes devils who stay near it for more than 6 hours. Lemures dissipate completely. The guardians of it are mortal cultists.

There are two other copies of the pact. One is in Mechanus and one is in Celestia. These pacts are impervious to destruction and if removed from the lawful planes, chaos would be strengthened.

The pact is encased in a ruby that is 10 feet high and 6 feet wide. It weighs 20 tons.

Once every nine years, a person can come close to it and pay respect to the principals of law to gain power to smite chaos. They do extra damage to chaotic creatures and gain skill in legal proceedings. These last for 99 days, and can be renewed for 30 days with an act of obeisance.

The Chalices of Woe: Standing in rows amid the ruins of a forgotten city, creatures are placed in these red-hot coffins and kept alive for years through magic. 

Neshminaar: Neshm the pit fiend rules this secret city behind towering walls of black stone with just one small gate. Inside its gloomy halls, devils breed monsters and create constructs. Damned souls are food for the monstrosities.

Firestorms of Nessus: These racing walls of fire are several hundred feet long, 5-10 feet deep, and 10 to 60 feet high.

The River Lethe: This may branch off from the River Styx. Those who touch its green waters must save or be feebleminded. Even if cured, all memories prior to touching the river are gone. It is said that this river flows through dimensional space in an incomprehensible plane and it passes through the Prime Material plane.

The Lake of Fear: In a massive bowl is an icy lake full of bodies of all who ever crossed it. When you walk upon it, the ice rises like a set of jaws to engulf you.

Forest: There is a forest full of trees with burning leaves that are never consumed. If you break off a branch, it bleeds blue-green ichor

The Serpent's Coil: This is an incredibly deep rift. In it lies the true form of Asmodeus. Apparently, when he fell into the Nine Hells, this titanic miles-long form shattered and Asmodeus emerged.

His wounds have yet to heal. His acidic black blood pools in the hollows of the rift. Each drop of blood becomes a pit fiend. They patrol this area hunting for intruders.

Nobody who speaks of his true form lives for more than 24 hours after. It is said that dusty scrolls in Demogorgon's citadel have details on it.

The Gorge of Slaughter: A place where devils kill each other.

The Forgotten Lake: The River Styx drops from Cania in a waterfall that collects in a fast-draining pool called the Forgotten Lake. The waters cascade from the lake to the canyon floors and are soaked up by Nessus.

It creates a mist in a half-mile radius that can wipe your memory clean. The stolen memories of others appear here and are then torn apart by hooked tendrils.

The Nessian Guard: Each soldier in this army was born from the wounds of Asmodeus himself. Asmodeus keeps this army in reserve for an even more apocalyptic battle to come.

The Outer Torments

Srezgaz the Crackling

In 4th edition, these islands were detailed in the Plane Above. Each island is connected to an archdevil. They were meant to be put in the astral plane, but they can be placed right on a mortal world with no problem at all.

The Soul Market: Also known as Fair Trade Island, this is a pleasure palace full of endless winding platformed streets with multi-colored awnings. Succubi and incubi serve exotic drinks. There is lots of business done in the shadows and many a stealthy assassination.

The many hags in the city command fallen angels and run houses of ill repute.

Three archdevils compete for control of this island. Each hope that they can use the island to win the favor of Asmodeus or strike against an archdevil ruler:
  • Verginion the Virile: No details given. He's virile!
  • Svidanfi: The queen of assassin devils.
  • Srezgaz the Crackling: An ascended bone devil. His bones crackle when he walks.
Malharak, Hell's Bastion

Located on the top of a towering cliff, this was the last loyal holdout of He Who Was, taken after a 100 year siege.

The current ruler likes Asmodeus

Archdevil: Assailra, a warder devil who rose to prominence and then had a falling-out with Glasya over a shared lover and was exiled. She hates Glasya.


This island of black rock has a spiraling underground set of catacombs where new tortures are invented. Screamstone is so horrible that even devils fear this place. Executions are said to last centuries. Alloces comes here to scout for talented torturers.

Archdevil: Veris, the seeping one, master of pain and suffering. He is a student of Alloces.

The Shores of Sorrow

This island appears to be a paradise with shores of black sand. Those who come here encounter the spirits of those they loved and lost. At first, everything is bliss. Then, the spirits vanish, are killed or attack.

Soon after, the spirits appear again and the cycle repeats. Mortals are slowly wasted away by pervasive despair.

Devils and undead lurk on this island, led by an archdevil named Islin.

Archdevil: Islin, a bloated spider-like devil who was once a queen in Baator lives in the Forest of Lament, feasting on the tragic memories of visitors. She knows many secrets of the Nine Hells but she has given over to despair. She will give away secrets in exchange for happy memories.


This place holds a scrying tower once used by He Who Was. Hidden deep in a jungle of serpent trees, there is a throne of obsidian sized for huge creatures.

Archdevils battle to sit on the throne. It is said that a spellcaster or archdevil who sits on the throne can view any place in the Nine Hells.

It is possible that Asmodeus has power over this throne and he can infiltrate the mind of those who sit upon it. He can see their every thought and memory. It is believed that Levistus once used the throne, and Asmodeus learned all of his secrets.

There are a few archdevils who have battled for the throne over the years, including Moloch and Raamoth have interest

Phrenicia, a powerful succubus cast from Glasya's court, wants to use it to spy on her mistress.


Timothy S. Brannan said...

WOW. This took a couple of readings to really appreciate all that is here.
Great work. I'll need to reference this again.

Ken said...

I like the Nine Hells as it was originally envisioned in Dragon Magazine 75-76. The current incarnation just blow chunks.

Unknown said...

Great Summary, thanks a lot for this as I am working on my campaign and needed a high level refresher.



Unknown said...

Nice work and thank you.

Anonymous said...

Holy shit, I'm about to run a campaign that takes place solely through the nine hells and will be referencing this often, good job and thanks

Unknown said...

You just made my whole week thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this!

Great job.