Layer 2 – Descolada
Layer 2 – Descolada

Layer 2 – Descolada


by Decree of the Fraternity of Order


Abyss — Layer the Second

Also Known As: The Driller’s Hives

The Nature of Evil: You are pure and strong, all who are not like you are abominations. Impurity is weak, and must be eradicated. The pure race must prevail at all costs.

Ruler: Tharzax, the Chattering Prince (obyrith lord of ekolids, venomous vermin [he/him]/CE)

Descolada, the Driller’s Hives

Description: The second layer of the Abyss to be catalogued by the Fraternity of Order was unfortunately the twisted chaos realm of Descolada, or as it was known to the original explorers who dared venture within, “The Driller’s Hives“. It’s a vast, labyrinthine nightmare, a realm crafted by insectile horrors that’ll make your skin crawl and your thoughts unravel.

The Guvners, were the first to scratch the surface of this madness. They mapped it, wrote it down in their fancy Lexicon of the Abyss, and branded it as the second layer of the abyssal maelstrom. But let me tell you cutter, this place ain’t no stroll through a meadow of roses. It’s a deathtrap, a lethal embrace that’ll chew you up and spit you out, if you’re lucky and actually get spat out at all.

Imagine tunnels, an endless maze that stretches into the oblivion. And don’t go thinking this is just a cosmic puzzle for your amusement. Oh no, the very walls of this twisted labyrinth are alive with monstrous insectile vermin, and these critters ain’t keen on hospitality. From 20-foot doomwasps to giant scorpion hornets, earwig-mosquitos the size of wolves to antspiders with two dozen hooked legs, and everything in between.They’re all about waging war, against anyone who ain’t one of their own kind. The whole place is like a massacre waiting to happen, a dance of chaos and carnage that never seems to cease.

And if you think the air here is just a breath of nothing, think again. It’s like a disease, a poison that seeps into your flesh and your bones. The very breath you take can trigger a transformation, a decomposition that turns you into a walking zombie with fungus for a brain You’ll be naught but a vessel for horrors, a walking nightmare that spreads spores and pestilence wherever you tread.

But that ain’t all, berk! The demonic denizens of this twisted hellscape include ekolids. These are primeval demons that ain’t content with just wreaking havoc. They infect the living, infesting them with their eggs. Just catching a glimpse of ’em can shatter your sanity, drive you to the brink of madness. And these ekolids, they dwell in titanic, buried hives that give this layer its charming name – “The Driller’s Hives.” Imagine swarms like cities, sprawling and hidden beneath the surface, their dark corridors echoing with the sounds of countless chittering horrors.

In Descolada, every step is a gamble, every breath a risk. It’s a place where survival ain’t guaranteed (or even likely), where chaos and death reign supreme, and where even the bravest soul might find their courage shattered and their mind unravelled in the face of the relentless horrors that call this infernal maze home.

The Powers that Be: The dark lord who holds the reins in Descolada is the Chattering Prince himself, Tharzax. He’s the tanar’ri lord of venomous vermin, a master of the kind of creepy crawlies that’ll make your skin crawl right off your back and creep across the room. He’s got a grip on this layer like a venomous spider clutching its struggling prey. He’s a demon lord, make no mistake, ruling over the swarms of deadly insects and vile creatures that infest the layer. The Chattering Prince, they call him, and it ain’t just a fancy title. His domain is a symphony of buzzing, his court a cacophony of chitters and hisses, a chorus of chaos and cruelty. Tharzax doesn’t have a realm as such – anything that isn’t someone else’s realm, is his – but his base of power in the layer is the swarming infested series of cities that the Guvners first called the Driller’s Hives.

Every Creeping Thing: The Abyssal insects here are Tharzax’s loyal subjects, his armies that scuttle and swarm in his name. Venomous vermin bend to his will, because his very essence is interwoven with their poison. That and the threat of being crushed underfoot. Or worse. Tharzax ain’t a demon lord you want to cross, not unless you’re fond of a fate worse than death, a fate that involves being torn apart – from the inside – by his horde of infernal critters.

Let’s not forget the other powers that call Descolada home. Chaotic evil insectoids and their vile powers, all things that crawl and slither, dwell here, their hunger for chaos and destruction matched only by their thirst for power. This layer is their playground, their canvas of malevolence, where they dance their wicked dance and revel in the very essence of their nature. The most notorious of these is Gazzell’et, the dromite power of vermin. What’s the difference between an dromite and an ekolid, you ask? Well the way I don’t like to think of it, is when you find something monstrous gnawing on your face, if it looks like a insecty-halfling nightmare with compound eyes like a fly and it’s scrambling your brain-box with psionics, it’s a dromite. But if it’s a halfling-sized insect nightmare with spindly legs and a wicked sharp tail that it’s trying to stab your brain-box with to lay eggs inside it, it’s an ekolid. Got it? Good. Oh, and of course this is the Abyss so the two races absolutely loathe one another. Maybe you can use that to your advantage one day.

Discovery: So here’s a tale of discovery, disaster, and the twisting knife of fate. The Driller’s Hives, they were first unveiled to the multiverse by one Lord-Provost Carolan of the Seventh Tower, a brave cutter from the ancient history of the Fraternity of Order. Now, don’t think for a moment that this was some sort of glorious expedition. Oh no, this was a tale of woe and bloodshed, a tale that left permanent scars on both body and mind. It was the fifth year of the reign of Factol Clarille of the Fraternity when Carolan led his fated expedition into the depths of the Abyss. You see, Pazunia, the Plain of Infinite Portals, had been officially recorded a year earlier as the first layer of the Abyss, thanks to Carolan’s guild. But now, they sought to pierce the veil of the Driller’s Hives. Brave souls they were, those sages and combatants, hand-picked by experts on the Abyss from all corners of Sigil.

The preparation was meticulous, the divinations were made, the prayers offered, and the teams were formed. Four teams, twenty strong each, ventured forth. But fate is a malevolent mistress, and it seems the Abyss conspired with her against the explorers. Within hours, all but one team was destroyed. Death and madness stalked the remaining survivors like shadows, their minds and bodies ravaged by the very essence of the plane. The natives, they were expecting. The fast-onset of abyssal diseases, the scrying had not revealed.

And what did they discover? Creatures, horrors that defied the imagination. Insects twisted and merged into a nightmare amalgamation – ant, spider, scorpion, wasp, and more. These abominations, known as ekolids, were the rulers of this twisted layer. They learned that Tharzax, the lord of venomous vermin, ruled over the chittering hordes with an iron grip, an ekolid-like tanar’ri lord whose name struck fear into the hearts of those who heard it.

Only a handful survived, including Lord-Provost Carolan himself, and even they weren’t spared from the horrors that they had witnessed. Minds shattered, bodies scarred, they returned changed, their sanity forever marred by the terrors of Descolada. The devastation was so profound, so overwhelming, that the Fraternity of Order deemed this layer Interdicted, a forbidden place that would forever be tainted by their failed venture.

Swamp of Descolada

Hazards: The moment you set foot in this abyssal labyrinth, you’re marked, cursed by a transformative disease that twists your very essence. It’s like a shadow that clings to your skin, a malevolent force that seeks to unravel your being. The disease, it’s relentless, creeping through your veins like venom, a silent torment that even the bravest can’t escape.

[Every ten minutes make a Fortitude save (DC20) against the rotting disease. Fail, and your Constitution starts to wither; with every failure, 1d4 points is drained from your very life force. If you’re one of the undead, well, then it’s your Charisma that’s on the line, your essence fading into the void. Imagine, cutter, stumbling through those twisting tunnels, your very life force eroding, your vitality slipping through your fingers. And once your Constitution or Charisma hits zero, that’s it, curtains. Your body succumbs to the curse of Descolada, collapsing into hundreds of ekolid egg sacs, your form a vessel for the horrors of the layer. Cure? Yeah, there’s a way out. Spells like remove disease, those enchantments might spare you from this awful fate. For a time. But remember, while you’re within the layer, you’re like a wounded animal, susceptible to reinfection. A scratch, a wound, it’s a door for the disease to worm its way back in, to drag you down once more. Some rumours claim paladins are immune to this effect but are you foolhardy enough to test that out?]

Locations in Descolada

When you you step into the mists of Descolada, and the air wraps around you like a suffocating embrace. Some say it’s like walking through a steamy tunnel, where the humidity hangs heavy in the air, clinging to your skin like a shroud. Warmth, it’s everywhere, the kind that seeps into your bones, making your clothes stick to you like a second clammy skin. And those underground jungles, oh, they’re alive with the cacophony of insects, their chittering and buzzing a constant symphony of chaos.

Don’t think for a moment that Descolada is lush greenery and gentle warmth. No, no. Survivors speak of endless mazes, tunnels that twist and turn, a labyrinth that seems designed to drive you mad. Stifling heat, it’s your constant companion, the very air a weight upon your chest. Dankness pervades these tunnels, moisture dripping from the walls like a thousand poisoned tears. Occasionally a tunnel opens into an enormous cavern, and that’s usually where the hives are found. Avoid the caverns.

And as you move through this layer, remember that portals are the name of the game. Some might lead you to the surface, where tropical jungles stretch out as far as the eye can see, alive and crawling with insect hordes. The ground is pock-marked with holes and tunnels leading back down towards the labyrinth. Other portals might plunge you deep underground, into the heart of the massive driller hives, where the ekolids reign and the very essence of the layer pulses with life and death. These portals don’t seem to have keys, and are hard to even spot, so watch your step lest you find yourself going from the worst place you could imagine, to somewhere even worse. Or better yet, don’t go there in the first place.

There are precious few well-described locations on this horrible layer. Partly because the place is so maddeningly hard to navigate, but mainly because the few berks who made it back alive weren’t able to answer any questions in a meaningful way on their return.

Notable Locations

Key Characters to Avoid

  • Gazzell’et (dromite power of vermin, domination, slavery)
  • Tharzax (the Chattering Prince, obyrith lord of the ekolids)

Canonical References:

  • Fiendish Codex 1 (3e) p38-39 (ekolid), 156 (Abyssal layer table)
  • Planes of Chaos: Abyss Poster
  • Planes of Law: Poster of the Cosmological Tables

Source: Jon Winter-Holt,

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