Barrens of Evil (3.5e Environment)
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The Barrens of Evil
This plane is intended to be used as part of the Fortress Celestia Campaign Setting.
Obviously this environment is inspired by cannon planes from various versions of D&D, particularly Planescape and Forgotten Realms. It is not meant for profit, and I do not own any D&D - related intellectual property other than some ideas for homebrew settings like this one.
An adult-oriented environment
This is a place where bad things happen all the time. The kind of things that show up in the most disturbing newspaper headlines in the real world. Of course, one can simply omit the most egregious acts from lighter adventures, but they are a fundamental aspect of what this plane is. This plane is probably best left as only a mysterious external source of evil for groups who are uncomfortable with going into the details.
A Multiverse of Evil
This is a plane of apathy, cruelty, and political corruption. Morally disgusting behaviors are commonplace, and most of the locals see nothing wrong with that. This plane contains countless layers, most of them largely seemingly infinite plains of gloomy, unpleasant, and foul lands. Lifeless deserts, spooky canyons, seas of lava and broken ice, polluted swamplands, and other less - than idyllic scenery dominate the landscape. Many resemble an ironic, sad, or horrific parody of prime worlds, while others are places of misery, madness, or weirdness rivalling the Plane of Pure Chaos. Locally, there are places of beauty, comfort, and mercy, but these are rare and usually either cursed or under the rule of a jealous, powerful, and cruel being. The plane is said to be the accumulated remains of numerous lesser planes conquered and bled of resources by forces of evil.
Normal (mostly). Divine beings have limited authority to modify the gravity within their own realms.
Normal (mostly). Divine beings have limited authority to modify the flow of time within their own realms.
Infinite, or at least seemingly so.. Especially when one takes into account the fact that no one seems to know how many layers there are.
Divinely Morphic / Marginally Morphic. Quasi - divine beings, fiends of ~CR 20, etc., and above, can alter their own realms at will by means of wish spells, which may be cast to alter their own realms without the usual requirements and penalties. Any significant alteration by other beings requires the use of vast quantities of labor and technology, or powerful magic, and without the explicit blessing of the local authorities in some areas, one can expect a visit from a fiendish bureaucrat and his well - armed associates, or an assassin.
Magic, Alignment, and Energy/Elemental Traits
None. However, certain elements may be affected by local conditions. Magma, ice, smoke, ooze, fire, etc. tend to be enhanced while earth, air, and water tend to be fouled. Wood tends to be rare compared with prime worlds, but objects made from the wood of this plane tend to be stronger and more durable than ordinary wood.
None. However, negative energy seems to be much more prevalent than on most prime worlds in some areas. Undead are common in these places.
Mildly Evil, Slightly lawful. Good creatures take penalties (usually -2) to charisma based skill checks. Chaotic or lawful creatures take charisma based skill check penalties on some layers.
Alignment Effects. Good - based spells are cast as if the caster were 4 levels lower. If that would be impossible, the spell simply fails. On some layers, this also applies to law or chaos - based spells. Evil - based spells are cast as if the caster were 2 levels higher. On some layers, this also applies to law or chaos - based spells.
Movement and Combat
Works normally except as per the conditions listed above. Many of the locals love fighting, especially the part where people other than them get hurt, but many others are dispicable cowards. Most of the cowards fear angering their superiors more than they fear death, however. In addition, most of the locals can also detect your alignment by one means or another, and they don't like good folk at all.
Features of the Plane
A "cluster" of several of the most inaccessible layers, ruled over by a society of arch-fiends who collectively rival the most powerful gods in the known multiverse in political power. They hold sway over the devils, who have, under their command, conquered most of the entire plane. Beneath the Lords of the Nine, the Infernal Ministry runs the everyday concerns of the empire and is a key tool in the Lord's success. Rules can sometimes be shockingly strict here, and it is possible to be convicted of failing to bow in the proper manner.
These planes have few devils. Demons rule and run wild here. However, the planar lords here enforce a few laws, all with the penalty of death: lesser beings must respect ambassadors and other VIP's from anywhere on the plane, regardless of alignment; and taxes must be paid. Often the taxes from one planar noble to another are paid in slaves. Chaotic Evil deities make their home realms here.
The Great River
Wider than many seas and allegedly infinitely long, the great river spans an unknown number of layers and multiple planes. The great river allows boats to travel from here to the Broken Machine and the Plane of Ideological Conflict. Skilled boatmen provide the only normal means of navigating it safely. Boatmen are a prestige class requiring years of training to become the chief pilot of a boat. Falling in can be very hazardous for creatures not native to the waters, resulting in memory loss, and often hypothermia or drowning. It is also very possible to contract any number of contagious diseases by contact with the waters, and it is a mild poison as well.
Countless oddball evil cities, bizarre structures, forests of unpleasant plants, rugged volcanic mountains, vast cavernous underdark passages, weird rivers, and displays of depravity on an epic scale, pepper the various layers of the plane without obvious regard to logic. As vast as this plane is, probably any location that you've ever heard of as being somewhere on a lower plane, might actually be here!
Probably nearly every sort of known non - good undead, fiend, and fiendish creature, and a lot that aren't probably can be found somewhere on the plane. Formians and other lawful neutral outsiders sometimes serve local leaders in civil construction and as combat engineers. In addition, most other creatures commonly found in the armies of evil, including humans, are common here.
In general, devils outrank other fiends here; the demons, humanoid races, and less - evil inhabitants such as formians, tend to get discriminated against. In some parts of the plane, demons are considered vagrants to be arrested and enslaved on sight unless they can produce papers showing they are trusted slaves of a devil or archfiend master on a specific errand to that area. Of course, the bounty hunters themselves must be on guard for other bounty hunters sent to eliminate slave thieves.
Society varies from layer to layer, but in most places is divided along class lines:
creatures who have no great skills, wit, strength, wealth, challenge rating, or political power, and serve no powerful master, employer, or customer base have little more value in the eyes of their superiors than rats living in the sewers. They consider it to be honoring such a creature to force it into slavery or bothering to kill it.
a slave has no value but what its master and local culture choose to give it, but that is still better than being vermin. There are many ranks within the slave classes, from cannon fodder, to valued administrator of a noble's estate.
lesser fiends, mercenaries, low - ranking government officials, etc. who aren't slaves but make a dishonest buck on their own skill and wits. The planar nobles treat them as not much more than slaves, and they are typically expected to behave as a slave would in front of a planar noble. Many seek fortune or fame in hope to one day be regarded as bourgeoisie.
moderately high ranking fiends, the wealthiest local leaders, and others who make a living off the effort of slaves and the proletariat, but are not planar nobles by any stretch of the imagination. They have, relatively speaking, great freedom to pursue their own agendas, but must constantly be on guard lest they enrage a noble. The planar nobles usually treat them with respect, but they are still typically expected to bow and obey as if a slave when before a planar noble. Many hope to one day be regarded as nobles, an ambition which often leads to their downfall.
quasi - deities, pit fiends, and other epic - level beings who rule over whole realms, regions, or even layers, or have political connections that allow them to influence the top leaders of the plane. The Nobles have their own complex hierarchy and rules about titles, who must bow to whom, etc., which are often deliberately too complicated to be easily learned by outside observers.
a pack of dretches, ogres, giant rats, fiendish tyrannosaurs, etc. is looking for food, territory, etc. Hunting has been scarce and their hunger makes them all the more aggressive.
a disorganized force of poorly armed, low - CR slaves, such as lemures, dretches, zombies, goblins, orcs, etc., is being herded to a battlefield or gladiatorial arena by a small group of fiendish sergeants and their assistants. The slaves are either too brainless or too used to survival - by - obedience to understand they are being led to their deaths, and they also have no training in discipline. The sergeants see this as just another boring mission and are becoming increasingly annoyed at their charges lack of ability. They would eagerly enjoy an opportunity to take their frustration out on a stranger.
a small force of skilled mercenaries on their way to a rendezvous point or searching for enemies of their employer. They'll gladly kidnap anyone if they think they'll be paid for it.
an emissary or other person of minor importance is travelling on business with wagons of goods, servants, and / or bodyguards. They are not really interested in anything other than arriving at their destination unharrassed and on time, but might enjoy a brief distraction to relieve the stress of having to carry out the unreasonable wishes of some planar noble.
a fiend of a high - CR type and its assistants, is transporting injured, mistreated, and bound "criminal vagrants" to the slave market.
a band of filthy water, magma, or some other unpleasant fluid flowing at the bottom of a ravine, blocking your path. Fiends and other inhabitants may be using it to transport goods for sale in the local market, materials for their lord's castle, or as a defensive barrier.
a tiny outpost or hamlet with a bar and inn, and possibly a casino, brothel, infirmary, and market, all both serving and preying upon travellers. The owner(s) are low - ranking bourgeoisie who are mostly only interested in wealth and don't care exactly how they end up making it. They pay off the local officials and play political games to ensure any minor infractions are overlooked.
A small percentage of the locals don't fit the mold. Not every fiend is truly committed to evil, and a few well - placed devils and demons are even secretly working for the other side part - time. A few realms are startlingly free from the norm of gloomy, polluted lands. For example, there's a town of neutral evil halflings here who use cruelty, connections, and bullying to protect their priceless unpolluted farmland.