The multiverse is cracked and broken. The Lower Planes are divided from those above by a gash in reality. On the far side of Hell, the wound has partially healed, although how it was sealed is unknown. Chasm, though, is still a bleeding rent in the fabric of the cosmos. It is a great pit that opens at the edge of order and sanity, and drops away for countless leagues into the abyss of the Infernum. Order, not being a wastrel, has put the Chasm to use. Souls judged evil are hurled into Chasm, where they fall until landing and impaling themselves on the thorny trees of the Wood of Damnation. Atop Chasm is the Great Grid, a vast prison door that keeps the forces of the Lower Planes from swarming up. The sheer sides of the Chasm have been gnawed away and colonized by all manner of creatures. There are vertical kingdoms and terraced dominions clinging to the edge of the Chasm, as well as cities floating amid the rain of souls.
Getting there… and BackEdit
The easiest way to access Chasm is to use magic. Trying to climb into Chasm from below draws the wrath of thousands of flying demons; from above, the traveller must evade or persuade the ever-vigilant Grid Guardians to let him pass. It is much better to plane shift or gate in – so long as the traveller is prepared for the drop. Natural portals to Chasm are few. There are the usual portals from the Astral Plane and the various nexus points. Magical resonance occasionally creates a portal to Chasm at the bottom of huge pits and ravines, while the walls of Chasm are rumoured to connect to the Plane of Elemental Earth in places.
Artificial portals in Chasm are relatively common – after all, the naturally coterminous points of the plane are blocked by the Grid above and by fiends below. Most of the terraces have at least one portal, as do the Windfisher Cities.
Survival in ChasmEdit
The single most important question in Chasm is; ‘can you fly?’ Those who can may cross the Chasm easily, assuming they can dodge the falling souls. Those who cannot must slowly clamber around the edges. The denizens of Chasm are mostly Lawful Evil, so slavery and oppression are common. The shafts of light that manage to pass through the Grid light the upper reaches of Chasm. The lower sections are choked with yellowish fumes and smoke from the Infernum, so massive wrought-iron lampposts projecting from the walls of the pit are used on the lower half.
Features & PropertiesEdit
|... to Astral||7||Coterminous|
|... to Infernum||7||Coterminous|
|... to Halls of Order||7||Coterminous|
The Chasm is roughly square in most places, although its shape changes greatly as one descends and the walls bulge or fall away. The upper sections are the most regular, but the heat rising
|Table: Falling Objects|
|31-60||A Damned soul falling. The soul is always evil, but may be of any race or class.|
|61-80||Stone or earth from a terrace above.|
|81-90||Junk and broken items.|
|91||A random simple melee weapon.|
|92||A random simple ranged weapon.|
|93||A random martial melee weapon.|
|94||A random martial ranged weapon.|
|95||A random exotic weapon.|
|96||A random piece of armor.|
|97||A random piece of adventuring gear.|
|98||A random alchemical item or toolkit.|
|99||A random mundane item.|
|00||A living creature who has fallen.|
from the Infernum has melted much of the lower stonework, creating ghastly, twisted tongues of molten rock and ashen drifts. The width of the Chasm also varies, from around one hundred miles at its widest to no more than 100 feet at its narrowest. Occasionally, massive earthquakes cause regions of the Chasm to draw together or spring apart. The Grid has been observed to flare violently when this occurs, although it is unknown if the shock of the earthquake disturbs the Grid or whether the Grid itself is used to reshape the Chasm.
Things constantly fall through Chasm – souls, mostly, screaming as they plunge towards their eternal torment, but Chasm is used as a dumping ground for all sorts of things. The earthquakes and terrace-building on the upper levels dislodge stone and waste matter; numerous gates from magically potent civilizations disgorge unwanted detritus into the Pit. Some have referred to Chasm as the ‘worldsewer’ and the epithet is not entirely inaccurate. That said, the most surprising objects have fallen into Chasm, leading many to suspect that either the Halls of Order are using the pit to dispose of unwanted chaotic items, or that the fluctuations in the Grid create temporary portals which suck in objects from across the planes. Others believe that the goods held by the dead are carried with their souls and then dropped into Chasm when the soul continues on to its final resting place.
The Falls are not constant; one minute, the skies might be empty while in the next a torrent of damned souls and wreckage from some forgotten war pelt down. Roll on Table: Falling Objects if a character investigates a Fall.
Huge rocks float through Chasm, most of which have been colonized. The so-called Windfisher Cities are more like villages for the most part. They cast great nets into the falls to dredge out anything of value. As the best prizes are found higher in the falls, there is constant jockeying among the cities for the upper sections of the Chasm. Wars are fought using flying ships and wyvern-riders for a few miles of altitude in a near-infinite pit.
Several sections of the Chasm have been cut and shaped into stairs. No one stairwell extends the full length of the Chasm, from the fumes of Hell to the Great Grid, but a traveller can theoretically travel the Chasm without clambering over sheer rock or flying. Most of these stairwells are inhabited or guarded, and some are trapped or lead into dungeons. Some stairwells delve mercifully into the rock face, enclosing travellers. Others are carved into the walls of Chasm, so the traveller can see all the way down as he climbs, and one misstep can send an unfortunate soul tumbling into the abyss.
The major bastions of civilization in Chasm are the terrace kingdoms. Massive ledges have been cut into the stone walls by legions of slaves and bound monsters, to create territory for despotic kings and exiled demons. These petty kingdoms rarely last more than a few centuries before being torn apart by war or crushed by the falling debris of a higher land. The one thing almost all these kingdoms have in common is that their societies are extremely stratified; a commoner from one terrace might be executed for daring to trespass on a higher ledge, or even for looking up from the ground. In general, the higher the terrace and the further back it is from the edge of the pit, the higher its status.
The inhabitants of these kingdoms vary; tieflings and other fiendish races are common, as are undead and half-undead. Not all of the Damned fall all the way into the Infernum, so dead clerics and sorcerers can carve out their own dominions on the edge of the abyss. There are also kingdoms made by the common races; humans and goblins seem to get everywhere, while evil elves and moriedhel take to the racism and drive for purity in the terrace kingdoms with characteristic élan and cruelty.
Death from Above (CR2)Edit
Falling objects regularly rain down from above, such as small stones or falling victims. A character can keep an eye on the sky; this causes a -2 penalty to all skill checks, Reflex saves, and attack rolls, but does ensure that the character is never surprised by a sudden shower. A character who is not keeping watch may be struck by falling objects, for 2d6 damage. A Reflex save at DC 12 is allowed for half damage. One character may keep watch for up to eight others.
Obviously, the major danger on a plane that is all precipice and void is falling. Strong winds whip around the edges of the chasm and the rocks are slick with slime and condensation, so Balance and Climb checks are required to move in many areas of the plane. The DC for these checks varies from 10 to 30 (roll 10 + 1d20 for a random section of the plane).
A character who falls off the edge of the cliff is unlikely to plummet all the way into hell – there are many protrusions and irregularities in the shape of the wall, so he will probably also slam into some obstacle. The character must make a Dexterity check, beginning at DC 10. If the check succeeds, the character manages to angle his fall and strikes the cliff face again 1d20 x 10 feet down (roll damage as normal). The character may now make a Reflex save at a DC of 10 + the result of the 1d20 roll to grab on. If he fails to angle his fall, or fails to grab on, he may make another Dexterity check after another 1d20 x 10 feet, but the DC for each subsequent Dexterity check increases by 2. A character who falls from the center of the Chasm (from the Grid, a floating island or flying ship) uses the above rules, but the DC for the Dexterity check starts at 20. If a character’s body is killed by the fall, his soul continues falling into the Infernum, and must be retrieved before the character can be raised.
One of the convenient things about Chasm is that all directions can be given simply in terms of distance fallen. Barometers and altimeters are more common than lodestones or maps.
Peredrim (Large Town, was Metropolis):
AL LN; 3,000 gp limit; Assets 600,000 gp; Pop 4,000; Mixed (50% outsiders, 25% damned, 25% fiends). Power Centers: Netmaker’s Guild (LN), Varus the Field (LE), Spider-eater Herders (LE).
The City of Peredrim was built by the most cunning of stonemasons in ages past. The city’s walls were impenetrable, its towers reached high into the sky yet were more enduring than diamond, its foundations absorbed the shock of quakes and burrowing worms alike with no more than an imperceptible quiver. In short, Peredrim was unassailable. Its attackers did not bother to assail Peredrim though; instead they shattered the terrace on which it sat. With a terrible grinding noise, the whole city slid and slid…and stopped. Peregrim ended up clinging to the cliff face, the terrace it stands on having been cleaved off, whereupon it tipped over the edge and got stuck on an overhang. The city now stands at a right angle to its former position; walls are now floors, streets are chutes or ladders. The city is now mostly empty, but a few loyal citizens remain – even in its steep and diminished form, Peredrim is still magnificent, defensible, and beautiful.
The Dominion of AsaguthEdit
Asaguth is king of nine terraces, making him one of the most powerful, but petty warlords on Chasm. He is a half-orc, half-fiend, the offspring of a famous orc warrior and a marilith. He won his kingdom and his throne by virtue of his mixed blood, and he intends to breed an army of similar strengths. Race and purpose segregate the various terraces of his kingdom; at the base, humans toil in the fields.
Two terraces up, dwarf-smiths forge weapons and armor. On the seventh terrace, fiends conspire and whisper. The eighth terrace, known as the Pleasure Gardens, are anything but; here, Asaguth enforces a breeding program between mortal to fiend through natural, magical, and alchemical means. The bat-winged legions of Asaguth are one of the few units of flying infantry in Chasm, and so have a great advantage over the other terrace kingdoms, who must rely on skyships and flying mounts.
The Web LandsEdit
About two-thirds of the way down Chasm lie the Web-Lands, the haunt of fiendish spiders and other arachnid horrors. The webs criss-cross the Chasm, trapping souls and other falling objects. There, spiders spin webs large enough to catch cities and ships, here too – wars are often fought between the drifting Windfisher Cities and the spider empire. The spiders, huge and loathsome, ancient and powerful, are usually the victors in such struggles, however, when the webs grow too thick and the flow of souls to Hell is choked off, pit fiends armed with vorpal swords rise up and slice through the webs, opening Chasm once more. The Sect of the Spider is rumored to have a stronghold or portal near the Web Lands, where they brew the fabled drug latheen.
The Gallows of InsightEdit
The Gallows of Insight is an ancient structure sunk deep into the side of the Chasm constructed from godbone and the wood of the first tree that stretches out into Chasm. It is rickety and groans in the slightest breath of wind. A thick hempen rope hangs from an iron ring at the tip of the Gallows’ arm.
Hanging from the Gallows is rumored to bring wisdom. A character that ties the rope around his leg and hangs from the Gallows may gain a permanent +1 inherent bonus to Wisdom. At the end of each day, the character may make a Gallows Check; roll 1d20 + the character’s Wisdom modifier. If the total exceeds 20, the character permanently gains one point of Wisdom. For each day spent without food or drink hanging from the Gallows, the character may gain a +1 insight bonus to his Gallows Check (see starvation and thirst for the effects of such conditions). A suspended character is always subject to Death from Above (see Hazards), is never considered to be aware of potential threats, and is denied a Reflex save for half. The suspended character is also especially vulnerable to falling objects (see The Falls) and rolls to determine what type of item falls past the character. Sentient creatures will desperately try to catch hold of a hanging character to halt their fall, though they require a Reflex check at DC20 to do so. Any inanimate item striking the character inflicts 1d6 points of damage logical for its type per size category above Small. For example if a discarded chair hits a character, the item is Small and so deals 1d6 points of bludgeoning damage. A discarded greatsword also hits the suspended character, as a Large weapon, this deals 3d6 points of slashing damage.
Characters can attempt to hang from the Gallows in this fashion as many times as they wish, but may only benefit once. Alternatively a character may also choose to hang by the neck; such a character takes 1d6 points of non-lethal damage every 15 minutes. At the end of each day, the character may make a Gallows Check; roll 1d20 + the character’s Wisdom modifier. If the total exceeds 20, the character gains 1d4 permanent points of Wisdom. For each day spent without food or drink hanging from the Gallows, the character may gain a +1 insight bonus to his Gallows Check. Again a character can attempt to hang from the Gallows in this fashion as many times as they wish, but may only benefit once.
The Great GridEdit
The Great Grid is the lock on the gates to the Infernum. It is a vast grating that covers the entirety of Chasm; fifty-mile-long girders of adamantine, each one imbued with the most potent abjurations and runes of warding. Fields of arcane force seethe between the gaps in the Grid, preventing anything from crawling back up the Chasm.
Breaking through the Grid requires either smashing through an adamantine girder (hardness 20, hp 28,800) or passing through one of these fields of force (which behave just like a prismatic wall, only each layer also inflicts 10d6 points of arcane damage on anyone touching it). There are only two viable ways through the Great Grid.
Firstly the Circle of Judgement, where souls are evaluated, stands above a portal through the Great Grid. Theoretically, a creature could pass back through this portal, but would then have to deal with the Grey Judges. Secondly, there are all sorts of small tunnels and secret passages on the edge of the Grid, where it is set into the stone of Chasm. This warren of cracks and rifts is patrolled by Grid Guardians as well as other dangers, but it is relatively easy to slip through unnoticed.
The Great Grid was created to prevent major fiendish invasions of the upper planes, not to block off access to the Infernum altogether. All of the demon princes and arch-fiends can translate to other planes by bypassing the Grid, but it does ensure that the armies of Hell will never march on the vulnerable Halls of Order.
The Grid has a single lock – the City of Puzzles. This is a city built in twenty-four square districts that can slide around like a child’s puzzle. One combination of the districts will open the Great Grid, but these districts constantly squabble for access to the four elemental gates located at the corners of the city, and rarely cooperate with anyone who wishes to slide the city’s districts around to solve the puzzle.
Aranea, phase spiders, spider eaters, achaierai, barghests and all manner of fiends and outsiders dwell in the Chasm. The Great Grid has its own defenders, the constructs known as Grid Guardians.
Huge Construct (Extraplanar, Lawful)
Hit Dice: 16d10+40 (128 hp)
Initiative: +0 (Dex)
Speed: 30 ft.
Armor Class: 28 (-2 size, +20 natural armor), touch 8, flat-footed 28
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple: +12/+31
Attack: Slam +21 melee (1d8+11) or gridspear +12 ranged (1d6+13)
Full Attack: Six slams +21/+21/+16/+16/+11/+11 melee (1d8+11) or gridspear +12/+7/+2 ranged (1d6+13)
Space/Reach: 20 ft. /10 ft.
Special Attacks: Gridspears, Smite Chaos, Smite Evil, Spell-like abilities
Special Qualities: Construct Qualities, Gridlock, Immunity to Prismatics, DR 20/Adamantine
Saves: Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +4
Abilities: Str 32, Dex 10, Con -, Int 8, Wis 8, Cha 16, Luk 10
Skills: Spot +18
Climate/Terrain: The Great Grid
Challenge Rating: 14
Alignment: Always lawful neutral
The creature rolling along the grid is roughly spherical, but its base slots onto a rail running through the Grid. It has six arms spaced equally around its equator and a blandly smiling metal face atop its spherical body.
Grid Guardians are potent constructs made to patrol the Great Grid and protect it. Silver Guardians patrol the upper side of the Grid, in the Halls of Order. Golden Guardians move along the lower side of the Grid, watching the Chasm. Bronze guardians all revolve along the inner edges of the Grid, inside the energy fields. The Guardians were built by the Lords of Order along with the Great Grid, and are essentially extensions of the Grid’s purpose.
Grid Guardians are only interested in two things – protecting the Grid and ensuring that no-one gets through it. They will stop to converse with travellers on the grid, but they are not especially loquacious, even for giant metal rolling toys stuck to an adamantine railway.
Gridspears (Su): A Grid Guardian can produce up to three gridspears from its body to throw each round. A gridspear is a spear +2 that casts forcecage (barred version) on anything it strikes. A gridspear vanishes after being thrown.
Smite Chaos (Su): Once per day, a Grid Guardian can make a normal attack to deal +16 additional damage against a chaotic opponent.
Smite Evil (Su): Once per day, a Grid Guardian can make a normal attack to deal +16 additional damage against a evil opponent.
Gridlock (Su): While on the Great Grid, a Grid Guardian has fast healing 2 and has a +6 bonus to all saving throws (not incorporated into the above stats). If destroyed, it is reabsorbed into the Grid.
Immunity to Prismatics (Su): Grid Guardians are immune to all prismatic spells, including the fields of force that pervade the Grid.