The Barrens of Doom and Despair
On a plane such as the Abyss, the environment itself seems to conspire against life. The Barrens of Doom and Despair are not so much hostile as simply inhospitable - the place is so bleak that life could never thrive there. The plane consists of vast expanses of black sand, great plains of featureless granite, and bleak canyons ringed by sheer cliffs of knife-sharp obsidian. Except for the River of Blood, no water even trickles through its wastes, and no sun shines despite the oppressive heat. No plants grow, and nothing wholesome lives here. Black clouds cloak a glowering red sky, swathing the land in darkness.
Barrens Of Doom And Despair Traits
The Barrens of Doom and Despair have the following traits.
- Alterable morphic. Each divine realm is divinely morphic.
- Mildly evil-aligned.
- Mild faith.
Barrens Of Doom And Despair Links
Portals connect the Barrens of Doom and Despair with Hammergrim, allowing the achaierai to raid that plane periodically. Blood Rift regularly intersects with the Barrens of Doom and Despair, periodically allowing the Blood War of the demons and devils to spill out into its wastes. The demons and devils don't seem to mind the wasteland of the Barrens, and many of them remain here even after the war has moved on. The deities of the Barrens, for their part, seem to find some amusement in the Blood War and its participants, so they leave the combatants alone unless their battle strays too near. The divine realms are scattered widely across the Barrens, leaving plenty of empty space for the fiends to explore.
The River of Blood flows through the Barrens of Doom and Despair, providing one of its only notable landmarks. Travelers who use this waterway to reach other fiendish planes are in for a very long journey because its brackish waters flow slowly, wind across a nearly infinite distance, and are inhabited by many dangerous creatures.
Beshaba's Realm, the Blood Tor, contains a permanent portal to the Abyss.
Barrens Of Doom And Despair Inhabitants
As befits the name, the Barrens of Doom and Despair are home to some of the most loathsome creatures in the planes. In addition to demons, devils, and yugoloths fleeing the Blood War (and punishment for their "cowardice"), creatures such as achaierai, hell hounds, and hellwasp swarms dwell in the wasteland of the Barrens.
Other inhabitants include: Bladeling, vaporighu, abrian, bloodthorn, bonespear, chronotyryn, gathra, haraknin (canomorph), ironmaw, living holocaust, phiuhl, steel predator, varrangoins (all), vorr, vultivor (canomorph).
Barrens of Doom and Despair Petitioners: Each malicious mortal spirit that comes to the Barrens of Doom and Despair becomes a special form, of petitioner called a larva. Larvae appear as Medium worms with heads that resemble those of their mortal bodies. Larvae serve as the currency of the fiendish planes, especially among night hags, liches, demons, devils, and yugoloths. Most are used as food as to power spells, but occasionally a larva is promoted to some kind of fiend, usually a lemure or dretch. Larvae have the following special qualities.
Additional Immunities: Cold, fire.
Resistances: Acid 10, electricity 10.
Other Special Qualities: Disease, infernal wound, no planar commitment.
Disease (Ex): Any creature wounded by a larva must make a DC 17 Fortitude save after the battle or contract devil chills.
Infernal Wound (Ex): Every time a larva hits with a bite attack (its only attack form), it causes a persistent wound. Any creature so injured loses 1 additional hit point each round. The wound does not heal naturally and resists magical healing. The continuing hit point loss can be stopped by a Heal check (DC 11 + larva's Con modifier) a cure spell, or a heal spell. However, a character attempting to cast a cure spell or a heal spell on a creature damaged by a larva's bite must succeed on a caster level check against the same DC as the Heal check, or the spell has no effect. A successful level check automatically stops the continuing hit point loss and restores hit points as normal.
No Planar Commitment (Ex): Unlike most other petitioners, larvae can be removed from the Barrens of Doom and Despair. Often, they are taken elsewhere to serve as food, barter goods, or basic "soulstuff" for fiendish projects that require an esoteric component.
Features Of The Barrens Of Doom And Despair
As if it were Arvandor's evil reflection, the Barrens of Doom and Despair appears much like an endless wilderness expanse, except that in place of lush forests and a sparkling ocean, it has wasted deserts, arid badlands, blasted heaths, and frozen tundra. Each of the five deities living here has carved out a realm, but the vast majority of the plane is simply the Barrens. The deities do not care what happens in the lands between their realms, though they watch with amusement when the Blood War erupts there or travelers struggle to survive.
Each of the divine realms in the Barrens is marked by a grand and sinister palace at its center. At times, it seems as though the five resident deities strive to outdo each other in the horrible magnificence of their dwellings.
Bane: At once the most grand and the most horrible palace in the Barrens is Bane's fortress, the Black Bastion. A towering edifice of adamantine, obsidian, ebony, and jet, it seems to suck what little light there is out of the sky, casting a pall over, the land all around it. Bane rules over his realm as an iron-fisted tyrant, seated on his throne of skulls. Nevertheless, soldiers from across the planes, particularly devils, flock to serve under his despotic rule. The purpose of all these soldiers is not quite clear, although since Bane has tried before to usurp supreme power, his plans can be easily surmised. Bane is, after all, a god of strife, so he can hardly be expected to gain any satisfaction from simply watching terrestrial conflict.
Beshaba: The Maid of Misfortune's realm, known as the Blood Tor, is marked by a rocky hill near the banks of the River of Blood. A single granite tower at the peak of the hill serves as the goddess's palace. Rivulets of blood, said to be the blood of all who have lost their lives in deadly accidents in Faerûn, flow down the side of the hill to merge with the river.
Hoar: Compared to the majestic malevolence of the Black Bastion, the Doomcourt of Hoar seems rather unimpressive. Heads mounted on pikes, each representing someone who slighted the god of vengeance, surround the palace, giving it an air of despair and horror. The structure is not built for war the way the Black Bastion is; rather, it is a coolly elegant building. The marble walls of the Doomcourt are limned with frost, and its cavernous halls amplify every footstep. Little worship comes to Hoar from Faerûn these days, and the realm seems to be shrinking in on itself.
Loviatar: The wastes grow colder and colder as one travels from Hoar's realm to Loviatar's, until snow and ice stretch as far as the eye can see and fiendish dire wolves howl, thirsty for blood. Travelers lost in this wilderness might find hope in the sight of a beautiful aurora dancing above a glittering ice palace, but no succor awaits here. This building is the Palace of Pain, the seat of Loviatar's power. Her realm is as beautiful as she is, and just as cruel. Though her palace is spectacular to the eye, its surfaces are as sharp as a wall of razors.
Talona: The Lady of Poison's home, known as the Palace of Poison Tears, is far from the realm of her rival, Loviatar. The hot and humid fen that surrounds the structure is infested with parasites and infectious agents of all varieties. Mosquitoes and biting midges swarm in the air, and every substance, from water to air, is toxic. The pyramid-shaped palace squatting in the midst of the marsh echoes Talona's triangular symbol.