Sigil Prep class of 5e

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3/17/2018 8:58 pm  #1


A Student's Guide to the Nine Hells. by Jennifer Chamo

Introduction:

Hiya everyone! So I was really surprised when I told everyone at the Young Asmodeans meeting that I was from the Nine Hells and so many of them seemed so interested. I guess I kind of figured that an extraplanar school like Sigil would have more folks from the pits of Baator, but then again most of the tieflings here don’t have such a direct lineage to Hell as mine and I guess adventuring isn’t a super common career choice down there, so I kind of get it. Anyway, turns out that everyone was super interested in finding more about the place. I guess they were kind of anxious about getting to know the place before agreeing to internships or selling their soul to be consigned there for all eternity in exchange for incredible temporal power. They said they’d normally ask Mandy, since she’s already got her internship there, but I’m apparently “more approachable” and “less frightening to deal with” Plus she apparently didn’t have much interest in recommending attractions and stuff to other club members so she suggested that I make something for the club, as a handout for interested members, and it might even attract some new people if we show them that Baator isn’t all brimstone and hellfire, there’s also some really cool stuff around there, so maybe they might even be willing to sell their soul for the glory of the Hells.
Also, I think Mandy might have laid some kind of suggestion on me to do it. It seemed rude to question her about it, and I probably would have done it anyway… I think. Either way I promised the club, so I might as well get to it.
 
A word on your words:
I wanted to get right into it, but I thought it might be a good idea to give fair warning for everyone before you go to hell about how not to offend anyone there. First thing’s first is what you call the local fiends. I know that everyone typically just says “Devil”, but it’s important to realize that this term can actually be considered kind of insulting for some of the older fiends. A lot of them prefer “Baatezu”, I’m not entirely clear on it, but they get kind of paranoid and agitated about the term, talking about how someone might try to shut this all down if you use that term. I’ve heard it’s the same for some demons, or “Tanar’ri”, but given how chaotic those meanies are I bet most would just tear you apart no matter what you called them. In general, though you should just be careful about what you call a fiend before you know them, especially since not all of them are technically even Baatezu. Good rule of thumb, if they’re covered in vicious chains of black iron, you should probably call them a Kyton instead.
I’m going to just use devil for the most part for the sake of convenience, but keep that all in mind before you offend someone.
This brings us to the second bit, and that’s just that it’s not a bad idea to mind your manners in Hell. Devils in general tend to get annoyed if you don’t follow the rules, and that includes proper social protocol. I won’t say that you’ll get arrested and tortured for improperly addressing someone important, but it’s probably just a good idea on principle to look at what everyone else is doing and try to copy them. You’ll do fine, really, I promise… let’s move on.

Getting There:
It used to be that getting to Baator was easy-peasy, just like anywhere else, you just hop through a portal and be on your way. Unfortunately, a few abyssal incursions raised some security concerns and the department of Hell Land Security decided to reroute all planar travel through Avernus. Keep your paperwork handy when you get there, and be ready to stand in a lot of lines, because the TCA (that’s the Tanar’ri Counterintelligence Authority) tends to be very thorough in making sure that visitors aren’t Blood War saboteurs, knowingly or otherwise. My general recommendations are just to follow the rules, avoid silver blades longer than 6 centimeters, and just try not to look too chaotic aligned. Trust me, the TCA are just doing their jobs, and you don’t want to get selected for a random screening by a Spined Devil.
Once you go through all that you get your Official Invitation to Hell, which guarantees relatively free and safe access through Baator, at least in the parts of layers you said you were traveling through. Keep these on you at all times, and don’t wander out of those authorized areas, because any mortal without a valid one might be mistaken for a saboteur or a petitioner and you might get your soul claimed by some overeager fiends. That being said, don’t imagine that being invited means you have free reign to do whatever you want. Only the lowest ranks of Baatezu don’t realize that the invitations are actually practically worthless in any infernal court, so you stay there only as long as you stay on your best behavior.
Oh, it rarely ever comes up, but I probably should mention that a lot of this red hot tape can be avoided if you actually get a real invitation beforehand. Unfortunately the TCA doesn’t hand these out, they need to be signed by one of the Archdevils themselves. This is pretty rare, but it does mean that anyone who tries to mess with you is also messing with the Archdevil that let you in, so most fiends will make sure to avoid that.
Once you’ve gone through all that business, the rest of hell is freely accessible by a few different means. Portals between the layers are pretty common, especially on Avernus. They’re also pretty well guarded, but your invitation should be fine to let you through. The River Styx is also a pretty popular way to take a scenic tour, and river cruises from the Shelves of Despond, down through Stygia, Cania, and finally Nessus are common, some of the bigger cruises even start and end in some of the other lower planes that the Styx flows through. I will say that while the cruises may be nice, the Styx isn’t exactly the best river for swimming in. Even most devils aren’t a fan of how oily it gets, and mortals, well they don’t really remember how it felt, or much of anything for that matter.
Finally, if you just want to take the truly long way, it theoretically is possible to get between the circles of Hell just by walking. Or, descending more like it, all the layers are right on top of one another, so in theory any hole that brings you deeper down might lead you to the next layer down. That being said, planar cosmology is pretty loopy, so personally I’d recommend some of the more prescribed routes through the place.
 
 
While you’re there:

Currency- The official currency in Hell is souls, and most of time you’ll see devils trading with them almost exclusively. Fortunately, thanks to the Bank of Mammon, gold and other precious metals are also accepted as legal tender for most transactions. One important thing to note is that you should probably exchange any silver pieces you have. Most devils hate dealing in silver, on principle just as much as how it burns when they touch it. The local currency use Green Steel pieces in place of Silver, or Greenbacks, as they’re sometimes called. If you need to deal in values as small as silver, I’d recommend getting them exchanged when you first arrive.
 
Laws- Don’t. I just… listen, this a travel guide, not a legal text, and even a cursory overview of all the laws in Baator would take longer than I’d prefer to say. Obviously these are all very important, but even devils can get themselves tangled up in everything that’s there. To give an extremely concise overview.

1. Keep your head down. If something sounds like it could be illegal, it probably is. Rules are bent all the time in the Nine Hells of course, but doing it wrong can land you in a lot of trouble, so I’d avoid it on principle.

2. Contracts. Agreements are made all the time in Hell, and they’re almost always binding. Make sure you read everything before you sign, even the really small stuff in a long-dead dialect of Infernal written in invisible ink. This rule is why the notary business in Baator is so profitable.

3. Fair is fair. This ties into a lot with the first rule, but odds are you’re going to see others doing stuff that you probably think is illegal. It’s best not to question such things though, because odds are they’ve probably found a loophole or other interpretation. Challenging them on that is definitely not keeping your head down, so I really don’t recommend it. Laws were made for the powerful and followed by the rest, after all. Rest assured that if they’re actually breaking a law, they probably won’t get away with it for long. The Osyluths are extremely thorough with their jobs.

Last edited by Ravian (3/17/2018 9:00 pm)

 

3/17/2018 9:02 pm  #2


Re: A Student's Guide to the Nine Hells. by Jennifer Chamo

Baatorian Culture:
I’ve heard people say that Devils don’t like fun, that it’s all just rules and such with us. But that’s not true, and there are a lot of ways to have fun in Hell, trust me.

Scrycast-
Scrycasting is actually a big business in the Hells, they make quality programming that get cast all over the Lower Planes. Some people call it “Devilish propaganda” but honestly I think it’s just some quality shows.

Children’s programming- Oh my gosh I cannot believe more people have not heard of Walt Dis’s stuff. It’s fantastic, absolutely amazing. Like Hannover Hellhound alone…

Editor’s Note: For the sake of brevity, and printing costs, we had to cut a lot of what Jennifer said here. Suffice it to say she’s an incredibly big fan of Walt Dis’s cartoons, along with a lot of other cartoons. You want to find out more about all that, I’m sure there are other sources. One bit did stick out to me though, possibly because it’s not any of Dis’s stuff, but more likely just because it sounded so bizarre.

… like Pentaborous the Singing Pentagram. It’s kid stuff I know, but some of those songs are really catchy. It’s about these kids, I think they’re a cult youth group or something, just kind of one of those nebulous collections of children you see on TV or something, but whenever they get into some trouble or someone starts to question Asmodeus’s teachings, the kids do this little chant. “Pentaborous, pentaborous, help make our decisions for us.” And it summons this big guy in a red foam pentagram costume. And afterwards he sings some song about how best to follow Asmodeus while somebody gets tortured for daring to doubt the might of the Lord of the Ninth, and it all wraps up. It’s all just wholesome Asmodean virtues, you know?
 
Other Stuff I guess- There’s some other on, some of it’s interesting.

Wheel of Torture: It’s a fairly simple format for a game show, you know guess some word puzzles, and spin a big wheel to torture the other contestants and win money, souls and other prizes.

Are you smarter than a Nupperibo?: This one is also technically a game show, but there’s not really much in the way of a contest, since Nupperibos are practically non-sentient, let alone capable of answering basic arithmetic, science, history and language arts questions, even aside from being practically blind and deaf. Mostly it’s just about laughing at their faces scrunch up as they try to think. People do watch just in case of that once in blood moon occurrence when the Nupperibo beats the other devil though, and they go “back to class”, which basically means the Nupperibo and the devil switch ranks. It’s really something to watch, and the hope is enough to make sure they get a constant stream of new Nupperibos willing to try, usually because they don’t get told about what happens to the losing Nupperibos afterwards.

Nine Hells’ Kitchen: This one’s made on the back of its host, Goritos Ramsay. Rumor has it he used to be the personal chef of some fallen Archdevil, and it’s his cooking skills alone that meant that Lord Asmodeus spared him. He’s apparently bond to host this cooking show for the rest of eternity now and is determined to make every contestant suffer more than him as retribution. It all makes for some great drama. Format’s pretty simple, nine chefs enter, only one survives the challenges, both of the cooking itself, as well as Goritos’s constant berating them for their failings. I’d generally recommend the censored version, mostly because most of Goritos’s swearing are actual curses, which is known to have adverse effects on the viewers.

The Divine Comedy: This one’s kind of a bit weird, since it’s apparently actually a lower planes version of this Celestian drama series of the same name about this clueless mortal named Dante trying to find his girlfriend in Celestia. Most of it didn’t attract a lot of a following (There’s not a lot of jokes for one, which weirded out a lot of people who saw Comedy in the title.) But for some reason the first season, Inferno, takes place in the Nine Hells, and it appealed to enough devils that they decided to make their own version. The Hell Version, sometimes just called the Inferno for the original’s tag line, is popular to the point where most have never even heard of the original version. It’s still about Dante, being this clueless doof wandering around the Hells, but they rarely bring up any plot, they changed his catchphrase from “There is no greater sorrow than to recall happiness in times of misery.” to “Hot enough for ya?” and most of it’s just about Dante and his wisecracking friend Virgil getting into wacky misadventures, which usually ends with one or both of them getting tortured in hilariously creative ways. People say the later seasons have gone downhill, but truth be told it was rarely more than the kind of thing that you leave playing in the background.

Fiends: This one is about a bunch of dysfunctional fiends of various types and their adventures living together in Dis. It took a bit for everyone to suspend their disbelief about so many fiends of different alignments possibly tolerating one another. But their quirky antics and the fact that all of them are such horrible monsters, seems to have won most everyone’s hearts.

Mammon in the Middle: No one really likes this one to be honest, but Mammon funds it personally and no one in Minauros dares not to watch it, so it stays on air despite its quality. From what I’ve heard, It seems to mostly just center around Archdevil Mammon, playing himself, having to deal with the idiocy of his family members, played by actors, and their drama. Some fiends, outside of Minauros of course, have raised criticisms that the other characters seem to be loose caricatures of the other Archdevils, but Mammon hides behind the disclaimer he puts at the start of every episode saying “No identification with actual fiends (living or deceased), is intended or should be inferred.” Everyone knows that the excuse won’t hold up under any serious scrutiny, but he hasn’t criticized Lord Asmodeus yet, and no one’s willing to invade Minauros over something as trivial as a sitcom, so most everyone’s just content with banning it on their layer. As such you can only watch this one on Minauros and Nessus, also Avernus, but that’s probably just because Mammon hasn’t gotten around to replacing Beleese, Mammon’s thuggish brother, with a Zariel parody character, and Zariel’s been enjoying it in the meantime.

The Real Erinyes of Malbolge: I was never allowed to watch this one, and from the descriptions I’ve heard of it, I’m sure I don't want to. It’s one of those reality shows where they just film a bunch of Erinyes making indecent innuendos and being catty to one another like a bunch of Succubi. It’s really unbecoming, and my sister Lillian has been writing letters for years to get it off the air for its shameful portrayal of Erinyes.

Editor’s Note: While I haven’t personally watched this one, I do follow Glasya and Fierna on Penstagram and they both actually seem to be a huge fans of the show, mostly organizing viewing parties for the new seasons and such. Jennifer refused to even listen to this when I mentioned it to her though.
 

Last edited by Ravian (3/22/2018 8:46 pm)

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3/22/2018 6:40 pm  #3


Re: A Student's Guide to the Nine Hells. by Jennifer Chamo

Cuisine:
Devils don’t necessarily need to eat, and not everything that they do eat is palatable to mortals, but don’t imagine that that means you can’t find anything good there. Devilish cuisine is rather famous for its use of native spices, such as Baatorian Mustard, Peppercornugons, and the like. It’s important to specify when ordering such dishes based upon your fire resistance however. Most restaurants grade their food using the following categories:
Feeble (No fire resistance whatsoever.)
Purifying (Fire Resistance recommended)
Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Order This (Fire Immunity Required, establishment not liable for damages)
 
Many Restaurants are location specific, but some of the more prolific chains include:
 
Damnino’s Pizza: The pizza itself is alright for what it is, but Damnino’s real claim to fame has always been its grandiose advertising and the incidents that often resulted from it. First there was their “30 minutes or less or your soul’s free” delivery pact, which they had to rescind after several Good-aligned religions started ambushing their delivery fiends in an effort to prevent more souls from being condemned to the Hells. Then there was the incident with their mascot, an imp they called the Noid, who, true to his name, just annoyed people with his commercials until they ordered pizza. Unfortunately, he was a little too annoying and Damninos decided to let the Noid go after his antics on scrycast led to no fewer than three different demon lords laying siege to Damninos franchise locations in an effort to destroy the imp. Last I heard he was working as a mascot for hire while dodging the abyssal bounty still on his head.
 
Baatezu and Robbins: Robbins was apparently some sort of mortal ice mage trying to find the secret to perfect ice cream. Driven near to madness, he sold his soul, and controlling interest in his company to Levistus, who whispered unto him dark secrets of the 31 flavors of pleasure, pain and despair that could be frozen into a special form of infernal ice known as Gelatugon. Robbins’s soul was condemned long ago to Stygia, but the Ice Devils continue to toil for Levistus, expanding his icy reach ever further through the hells. Needless to say it’s quite popular, as even Devils enjoy a cool treat on a hot day, which is most days for much of Hell.
 
Sinnabon: Mostly found in malls and rest stops, they strike precisely when your defenses are weakest with the most alluring scents you’ve ever smelled. Combine it with the Brachina pleasure devils that they hire to run the cashier, and most mortals will have signed an icing-covered contract for another Cinnamon Roll in no time.
 
Applebels: Not gonna lie, this one’s pretty terrible, but it's absolutely everywhere. When Bel got bumped down from his archfiend spot, he apparently conceived of this as a scheme to win back rulership of Avernus through mind control. First, he would build a massive restaurant franchise in some of the most remote areas where dining options were otherwise extremely limited. Second, he made a deal for a shipment of apples of temptation that he would lace the food with. This would supposedly result in a popular uprising of charmed devils against Zariel and lead to his reinstatement as lord of the First. However, you could kind of tell that Bel has been out of the scheming game for a while with his focus being on the blood war for so long, so the apple shipment fell through entirely and he apparently hasn’t managed to get another supplier since then. Now he’s just left with a restaurant franchise with really mediocre food and terrible service that nonetheless continues to not go under simply because it’s often the only dining option in many parts of Hell.
 
Bone Devil Grill: You primarily only find this one along the banks of the Styx. As advertised, the staff is entirely made up of Osyluths, or Bone Devils. This has led to rampant speculation that the entire franchise is really a front for the Inquisition of the Hells, rather than the casual seafood dining experience it claims to be. The owners, who have never publicly revealed themselves, insist such claims are discriminatory against bone devils. They also claim that all claims of activities involving experiments with Styxian water to manipulate memories of the restaurants’ patrons are also blatant falsehoods, though no one could remember asking such a question.
 
Hel Taco: Despite the name, this fast food chain, specializing in a Maztican/Baatorian fusion making liberal use of Baatorian spices, does not actually claim affiliation with the Norse goddess of the dishonored dead. Apparently, it was originally just called Hell Taco, but this was eventually considered to be too on the nose for the purpose of effective marketing, and since the owner was not known for his creativity, he just dropped an L from the logo. As a result they’ve been embattled in an ongoing legal battle with the goddess’s clergy, that only ended when the owner himself legally changed his name to Hel in order to avoid culpability. Other than the good, if very spicy, food, the most notable thing about the chain is the persistent curse the marketing department decided to inflict upon their locations as part of an advertisement stunt and never quite figured out how to dispel. For some reason, the hunger of the patrons actually begins to take physical form into some sort of unknown but terribly violent magical entity that the restaurant only refers to as “The Beast”. Some might think that the risk of being eviscerated by a hulking monster while waiting to get an Enchilada might be bad for business, but it’s actually proven to be a positive boon as both the employees and the customers are heavily incentivized to keep the line moving. Nevertheless, you might want to avoid the occasional massacres that happen on the particularly busy lunch rushes.

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