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The Abyss was the birth place of the demons,[4] a chaotic evil universe unto itself with uncountable layers of infinite variety connected haphazardly.[2] The Abyss's place in the cosmology of the Forgotten Realms shifted over time, but the nature of the plane remained fairly constant: a violent, malevolent place where the strong survived on the backs of the weak, the weak conspired to overthrow the strong, alliances only lasted while convenient,[11] and the landscape itself tortured the mind and body of all who dared to pass.[1]

CosmologyEdit

In the Great Wheel cosmology model, the Abyss was an Outer plane on the Great Wheel connected to the Astral plane, Pandemonium, Tarterus, and Concordant Opposition.[12] It was estimated that the Abyss had 666 possibly infinite layers but no one could be certain. The first layer, named Pazunia after the demon lord Pazuzu, was described as a barren, dusty place baking under a red sun, broken only by great iron fortresses, huge holes in the ground, and the river Styx. Some branches of the Styx flowed down the holes (which were conduits to the various layers) and some of these holes supplied water to the Styx in reverse waterfalls.[4]

When the Great Wheel model was replaced by the World Tree cosmology model, the river Styx was renamed the River of Blood and it flowed through all the fiendish planes (except for the Supreme Throne and the Demonweb Pits) originating in the Abyss, passing through the Blood Rift—an unusual plane that connected the Abyss with the Nine Hells[13]—bringing the demons even closer to their arch-enemies the devils,[14] resulting in the Blood War. Cosmologists found evidence of portals between the Abyss and the Barrens of Doom and Despair, Clangor, the Demonweb Pits, and Hammergrim, with intermittent portals to Deep Caverns and Fated Depths.[2] The Astral plane connected all of the fiendish planes to the Prime Material Plane, but not directly to each other.[15]

After the Spellplague, Asmodeus consumed the essence of the fallen Azuth and ended the Blood War by casting the Abyss to the furthest depths of the Elemental Chaos.[16] The World Axis cosmology described the ruined Abyss as a domain with ever-changing features and realms, where the demons waged futile wars over meaningless empires. Once again the river Styx flowed through the Nine Hells and the Abyss, but then emptied its pollution into the Astral Sea.[17] Other than the Styx or braving the Elemental Chaos, the only known passages to the Abyss were found in the Demonweb Pits, the Dismal Caverns, and Nishrek.[1]

LayersEdit

Abyss Map

An artist's rendering of the Abyss

Main article: Layers of the Abyss

The number of layers in the Abyss was unknown and perhaps unknowable, but this article attempts to list them regardless of which cosmology model was in favor at the time of discovery. Each layer had its own characteristics, which were as varied as the demons themselves.[2] All types of terrain, atmosphere, weather, gravity, and material composition were represented in the myriad layers. Some examples were:

  • Air-dominant—zero gravity, no matter except air[8][9]
  • Ash—blowing dunes of ashes[9]
  • Battleground—Blood War or other[9]
  • City—warrens and slums to citadels and palaces, teeming with demons[9]
  • Earth-dominant—solid rock tunneled by the inhabitants[8][9]
  • Fire-dominant—everburning flames with salamanders, etc.[9]
  • Delusion—appears to be Normal but the flowers are poisonous or the trees attack[8]
  • Desert—endless tracts of black, white, or red sand with no water[8]
  • Glacier—infinite black, white, or orange ice with few rocky peaks breaking the surface[8]
  • Hellscape—a burning mix of magma, rock, and belching brimstone[9]
  • Maelstrom—swirling, bubbling chaos like Limbo[8][9]
  • Mountainous—rocky crags, precipitous cliffs, soaring peaks[9]
  • Negative-dominant—major or minor[9]
  • Normal—similar to a Prime plane with various flora and fauna[8][9]
  • Ocean—a trackless ocean, with a surface[8][9]
  • Salt—crystalline badlands or desert[9]
  • Sea—of acid, blood, garbage, insects, oil, or worms, etc.[9]
  • Swamp—noisome bog inhabited by predators[9]
  • Undead—specters, spooks, and ghosts[9]
  • Volcanic—lava flows, earthquakes, volcanoes, and smoke[8]
  • Water-dominant—nightmarish creatures in the murk[9]

InhabitantsEdit

Main article: demon

There were myriad types of demons, too numerous to catalog here. Non-demonic life could be found in the Abyss but was most likely imported from other planes.[citation needed]

AfterlifeEdit

In the Great Wheel cosmology model, chaotic evil souls would travel directly to the Abyss and become manes, the lowest form of sub-demon.[18] Manes were treated as slaves, cannon fodder, and food by the demon lords.[18][19] In the later World Tree cosmology model, all souls would first go to the Fugue Plane and await transport to their final resting place.[5][20] Greedy demon lords would open a portal to the Fugue Plane and conduct raids to steal souls and bring them back to the Abyss to become manes.[21] After the Spellplague, Shar reshaped the Plane of Shadow and folded in what death energy did not get absorbed into the Elemental Chaos and created the Shadowfell.[22] After that, souls on their way to the afterlife started their journey in the Shadowfell and most made it to the Fugue Plane to await judgment, but a few remained behind or were lost.[23]

RealmsEdit

Relatively few greater powers carved out a realm in the Abyss because dealing with the ubiquitous hordes of demons and ambitious demon lords would require too much of their attention.[11] Those deities for whom the chaotic evil nature of the Abyss was attractive at some point in time, along with the demon "royalty" whose names were not spoken openly in civil society, were:

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 66. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 142. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jeff Grubb (July 1987). Manual of the Planes 1st edition. (TSR), p. 73. ISBN 0880383992.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Jeff Grubb (July 1987). Manual of the Planes 1st edition. (TSR), p. 101. ISBN 0880383992.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 258. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Monte Cook, Jonathan Tweet, Skip Williams (July 2003). Dungeon Master's Guide 3.5 edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 160. ISBN 0-7869-2889-1.
  7. Jeff Grubb (July 1987). Manual of the Planes 1st edition. (TSR), p. 75. ISBN 0880383992.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 Jeff Grubb (July 1987). Manual of the Planes 1st edition. (TSR), pp. 101–102. ISBN 0880383992.
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14 9.15 9.16 9.17 Monte Cook, Jonathan Tweet, Skip Williams (July 2003). Dungeon Master's Guide 3.5 edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 161. ISBN 0-7869-2889-1.
  10. Monte Cook, Jonathan Tweet, Skip Williams (July 2003). Dungeon Master's Guide 3.5 edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 149. ISBN 0-7869-2889-1.
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13 11.14 Jeff Grubb (July 1987). Manual of the Planes 1st edition. (TSR), p. 102. ISBN 0880383992.
  12. Jeff Grubb (July 1987). Manual of the Planes 1st edition. (TSR), p. 74. ISBN 0880383992.
  13. Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 140. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  14. Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 141. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  15. Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 139. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  16. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 73. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  17. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 64,66. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Gary Gygax (1977). Monster Manual. (TSR, Inc), p. 17. ISBN 0-9356-9600-8.
  19. Mike Mearls, Brian R. James, Steve Townshend (July, 2010). Demonomicon. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 26. ISBN 978-0786954926.
  20. Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 153. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  21. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 259. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  22. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 69. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  23. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 65. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 24.5 24.6 Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 143. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  25. Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (Cyclopedia of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 10. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
  26. Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood (1990). Forgotten Realms Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 16. ISBN 0-8803-8828-5.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Gary Gygax (1983). Monster Manual II 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 35. ISBN 0-8803-8031-4.
  28. James M. Ward, Robert J. Kuntz (1980). Deities and Demigods. (TSR, Inc), p. 112. ISBN 0-935696-22-9.
  29. James M. Ward, Robert J. Kuntz (1980). Deities and Demigods. (TSR, Inc), p. 107. ISBN 0-935696-22-9.
  30. Jeff Grubb (July 1987). Manual of the Planes 1st edition. (TSR), pp. 102,103. ISBN 0880383992.
  31. Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 149. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  32. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 63,74. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  33. Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader (July 2004). Serpent Kingdoms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 20. ISBN 0-7869-3277-5.
  34. Mike Mearls, Brian R. James, Steve Townshend (July, 2010). Demonomicon. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 8. ISBN 978-0786954926.
  35. Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (Cyclopedia of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 16. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
  36. Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood (1990). Forgotten Realms Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 35. ISBN 0-8803-8828-5.
  37. Gary Gygax (August, 1985). Unearthed Arcana (1st edition). (TSR, Inc.), p. 117. ISBN 0880380845.
  38. James M. Ward, Robert J. Kuntz (1980). Deities and Demigods. (TSR, Inc), p. 111. ISBN 0-935696-22-9.
  39. Ray Winninger (August 1995). Giantcraft. (TSR, Inc), p. 9. ISBN 0-7869-0163-2.

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