A new adventure will be published by Wizards of The Coast on September 17 and it will be one of the most unique pieces of our libraries. It is about two most interesting places of Forgotten Realms, Baldur’s Gate with all of its corruption, trade and ambition and Nine Hells with its interesting archdevils, unmatched political games, and lust for power. In this adventure, we will venture forth to Avernus, First Layer of Nine Hells of Baator. During the story we will be involved in the politics of Nine Hells, several possible deals with devils and will witness the endless war between demons and devils, Blood War. In this blog, we will delve into the history of Avernus and examine the information published so far.
Let’s talk about Avernus.
Avernus is the first layer of Nine Hells. It is the very first place demons place their heads for Blood War after they follow and sail through River Styx. Its size is infinite and magic works normally in this realm.
The layer is a completely incinerated wasteland. Countless basalt mountains and rock pieces made of obsidian or quartz cover the ground. This geography makes movement really hard. Moreover, some of these take the shape of a face of a demon or various hideous creatures because of the battles taking place and bloodshed which does not help to adventurers at all.
The layer has no sun and it has a crimson sky. Huge fireballs fall from the skies and struck random places. So, if you enter this place somehow, be sure that you find a place to take shelter before taking rest.
Lastly, there are many rivers, lakes, and waterfalls of blood. They connect to River Styx at one point. The mystical thing is, although many devils think that the blood comes from the ones who died in Avernus, that the source of this blood is unknown.
Apart from them, two landmarks cannot be missed. The Bronze Citadel and The Pillar of Skulls. The Bronze Citadel is a huge citadel with long walls and thousands of devil soldiers in it. It is the home of the ruler of the first layer. The pillars, on the other hand, is literally a massive pillar of skulls. Those who die here makes an addition to the pillar.
Who rules this hideous place?
Thanks to their evil nature and unbelievably complex politics of Nine Hells, Avernus has experienced different rulers.
Once, Tiamat, Queen of Chaos and Evil Dragonkind, was ruling over Avernus. However, even though she was a faithful servant of Asmodeus and she still is, she was not being able to succeed at her most important mission, keeping outcast devils at her layer in a powerless situation. As a result, Asmodeus degraded her but let her live and gave her a new order in which she had a chance to prove herself again. Tiamat started to protect the gate opening to Dis, second layer of Nine Hells, until her ascension to the demigoddess.
Then a fallen angel, Zariel, rose to power. She had ruled with an iron fist. Both her merciless nature and martial prowess had struck fear to many until her reign was brought to an end by Bel. Bel is a powerful pit fiend from Dis. Although Bel was not a member of Dark Eight, a council of eight dangerous and powerful pit fiends residing in the 9th layer, by using its relations, Zariel was defeated.
Although a little knew about the fate of Zariel, Asmodeus was, of course, one of them. As long as he learned that Zariel was kept as a prisoner under the Bronze Citadel and Bel was siphoning her power day by day, Asmodeus made a clever plan to keep all three rulers under control. This move was important. Because Asmodeus demands having enough power to execute their orders from his archdevils, but they should not be able to dethrone him.
So, Asmodeus ordered Tiamat to watch over what remained from Zariel. This prevented Bel from draining more power, Tiamat from acting on her own and Zariel from doing an unexpected maneuver.
During this time, Asmodeus made an offer to Tiamat, a second chance to rule Avernus. Unfortunately, Tiamat refused the offer since she feared the results of a second disappointment. Instead, Tiamat offered her service as Asmodeus’ champion and made a vow to devour all of his enemies.
Sometime later, Bel failed at keeping a demon invasion at bay. As a result of this disappointment, Asmodeus announced Zariel as the ruler of Avernus and ordered Bel to act as her advisor.
Although Avernus has been transformed into a place of commerce and rich cities, after Zariel’s ascension to power, she immediately ordered devils to build militaristic camps and forges of war machines again.
We will see this version of Avernus in the adventure, a place of war. I hope we will be offered some jobs from these old rivals.
Who will we meet in Descent Into Avernus?
It has been announced that we will see the stat blocks of Zariel (Ruler of Avernus), Baphomet (Demon Lord of Minotaurs) and Yeenoghu (Demon Lord of Gnolls). Also, there are rumors about Kostchtchie (Demon Lord of Frost Giants). We will also meet Arkhan The Cruel, dragonborn paladin of Tiamat from actor Joe Manganiello and Arkhan’s death domain cleric of Tiamat, the tortle Krull. It seems really interesting and exciting to see such characters.
There are also stat blocks for the cultists of Dead Three (Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul) which will add some more plots to the story.
Any new stat block for Bel (former ruler of Avernus) is not seen on the table of contents. This may be because its powers were ripped apart when it was degraded and it turned into a common pit fiend again.
What else is there?
Another different game mechanics will be given by this adventure is that there will be statistics for infernal war machines and there will be battles that should be done by using them, similar to the system used in Ghosts of Saltmarsh adventure.
I was nearly for getting soul coins. Yes, new items shaped like a coin, holding souls inside. By using them, you can trade in Hells.
Lastly, we will see Elturel. It is a place given in one of the deepest, interesting and best adventures written for 4th edition in Living Forgotten Realms events. The fate of Elturel also excites me much!
So, with a quick recap over history and little details, these are the things waiting for us in this new adventure. I am sure it will be really full of blood, wickedness, war, and fun.
What do you think about Descent Into Avernus? How do you feel about it and what more lore can you add to its background?