Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Road to Pandemonium (+ A Bonus Poem)

 

Carl Ludwig Beutler

I had floated the idea of a pilgrimage hellcrawl using Ultraviolet Grasslands some months ago.

The good news is that this is that post.

The bad news is that this post is unnecessary. UVG in its default state requires so little actual modification for a proper hellcrawl. Just minor changes in aesthetic and name. My original plan of having lists of find and replace terms is undone by the sheer amount of material that does not need anything changed at all.

But, people want the post, so the post they shall have.

Phlox of Whose Measure God Could Not Take beat me to it.

This Hell is not the Hell I have written of before.

The Climate of Hell


The infernal regions are dominated by two primary biomes.

The Highlands are frigid desert plateaus, stripped nearly bare by biting winds and oxygen deprivation. A few hardy species can cling to life up here, but even then it is mostly razor-edged bone grass. The Highlands are the only source of clean water in hell (though it still has a strong sulfuric taste), and those oasis springs are the only way of surviving long-term in the region.

The Lowlands are unbearably hot, humid, and muggy. They are choked with fungal forests, corpse-mud fields, and dark, slow-flowing rivers. The air is heavy with spores and the omnipresent smell of rot. Here is where the bulk of the population of Hell is found. Life overflows here, and all of it in some way is dangerous.

The soil of Hell is scab-red and chalky, though in regions of great erosion bands of white, purple, orange, dun, and deep brown can be seen. It can harden into the consistency of concrete if water is added and it is swiftly baked dry. Close inspection will reveal fragments of compressed bone throughout; particularly dense deposits of the damned will be compressed into opalescent soulcoal.

The water of Hell is dark and thick with scum. A greasy sheen lies atop it, no matter how many times it is boiled or filtered. Even in its drinkable states, it is unpleasant, and bears an overwhelming taste of sulfur.

The sky of Hell is an angry red bruise, lit by the artificial sun Ixion. The black clouds grow thicker and last longer into the day as one approaches the Black City. When the clouds clear, it is possible to glimpses the corpses of angels, fallen and lawful alike, hanging in the emptiness between the crystal spheres.

The Peoples of Hell

Humans from Nations Beyond

Hell is, technically, unclaimed territory in these days. Nations of the outside world send their armies and agents into Hell, prospectors attempting to make it rich, the desperate come in droves for there is nowhere else to go.

Humans damned to Hell 

There aren't many any more. The last damnation was long ago, and those who bear the yoke will, in due time, grow so old and slow and still that they will cease animation entirely and sink into the ground to be compressed into soulcoal.

Humans born in Hell

Not much different from humans from nations beyond, save for their cracked grey skin and ember-colored eyes.

Parahumans

Exposure to Hell's environmental magics can lead to drastic changes in form and mind if one invites in the local powers. The most common ones are those inhabited by multiple demons working together as a sort of collective-mind.

Vomes

The original inhabitants of Hell, before the angels cast from heaven came.

Demons

An incredibly indirect term. Can be used interchangeably between actual fallen angels (rare), vomes (inaccurate) or the malicious spirits of the dead (probably the most accurate).


The Pilgrimage

There is a black sea where the corpses of the fallen angels rest. On a spur of rock jutting out over that depthless water, there is a tiny chapel of Our Lady. It is the sole place of true rest in all of Hell, the one place of respite and deliverance from the weight of the world. But the way out is through. To reach that sanctuary, one must journey to the very center/end of the world - The Black City of Pandemonium.

Pilgrims will start in the city of Pilgrim's Progress, in the east of Hell along the coast of the Basin of Dis. The climate is mild enough here, the wall thick enough and the cats vigilant enough, to maintain a city-state of some size, though it is as far away from Pandemonium as it is possible to be. Some semblance of life as it was before Hell is possible here.

Once pilgrims pass through the Wicket Gate just outside the city, they can truly say that they have begun their journey.

From here, the hack is primarily a matter of find and replace names and aesthetics as you see fit.

The Pilgrims

  1. The Knight  - Scarred veteran of the Order of St. Lazarus.
  2. The Squire - The Knight's son. Head-in-the-clouds idealism.
  3. The Yeoman - Laconic hunter in the Knight's employ. Addicted to 4-Thieves Vinegar.
  4. The Prioress - A commanding figure. Romantically connected with the Friar. Pregnant.
  5. The Nun - Assistant to the Prioress. Niece of the Priest. Tired of being pushed around.
  6. The Priest - From the far north; a foreigner twice over in Hell. Uncle of the Nun.
  7. The Friar - Romantically connected with the Prioress. Knows what lies ahead.
  8. The Merchant - On the run from a past they will not elaborate upon.
  9. The Florentine - A neurotic poet of dreamlands and phantasms.
  10. The Sergeant at Arms - Eyepatch. Cigar. 3 bars and a crown on the sleeve.
  11. The Canon - An ordinary church bureaucrat, a dabbling alchemist and occultist.
  12. The Physician - From far away, taught by books most scholars thought lost.
  13. The Maid - Instructed by angels to pick up a sword.
  14. The Cook - Shady, shady fellow. Best not ask where meat comes from, in Hell.
  15. The Wife of Bath - Four ex-husbands, on the hunt for a fifth.
  16. The Miller - A large, crude individual, more clever than he lets on.
  17. Hanged Man - Killed three priests, escaped three nooses.
  18. Ratcatcher - Wherever there is plague or hunger, a ratcatcher's services are always is demand.
  19. Summoner - Laughably corrupt and obnoxious. Court summon, demon summons, package deal.
  20. Confessor - Exorcist and investigator. Dour. Silent. Waiting for someone.

Bonus Poem

Included because it is tonally relevant. No title that I could find, would have been initially written in 2014 for an assignment. Original version lost, though I don't think edits were made to the copy and the only changes I made from that to this are restructuring one line and replacing another. I know the assignment involved writing something using lines from other sources but I'd be damned if I can recall which ones I picked.

**

Fairest flower of gloomy Dis

in a gown of phoenix feathers

putting gunpowder in her tea

sitting on blue weirwood steps

on a slum-town stoop

watching the doughboys clean up the river

    of sludge that flows through the Cut

        where the barnacles and bonebriars and firelillies

            and flesh-bulb trees

        crowd around clap-board shacks and

        squat brick shithouses and

        canopies of shed-armor from the backs of

        warbeasts.

It is today that she polished her horns and

    painted herself red-on-grey

        and put a lily in her hair

            as the doughboys clean up the river

                that flows through the Cut,

    though the fumes would burn through their lungs

    if they ever took off their masks

        so even if they might be good men

        a long way from home

        she has never seen their faces

        though they always take time to wave as

        they pass by on their way to clean up the river

            that flows through the Cut.

**



7 comments:

  1. That was a rather fun class.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This Hell is not the Hell I have written of before.

    The link there is messed up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Huh, thought I fixed that. no matter! Should be fixed now.

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  3. Is the Wife of Bath related to Brides in the Bath Murders?

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    Replies
    1. Nope, the OG Wife from the Canterbury Tales.

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    2. Strange coincidence then (but maybe fitting, if somebody wants to give Wife of Bath and her four ex-husbands a different undertone).

      Delete