Layer 422 – Death Dells
Layer 422 – Death Dells

Layer 422 – Death Dells

The Death Dells

Abyss — Layer the Four Hundred and Twenty Second

The Seeping Woods, Savage Searing, Otaheti

The Nature of Evil: Survival of the savage, plain and simple. Everything here is designed to test your mettle. The grasses can slice through flesh, the thorns and strangleweed are deadly, and even the water can kill you. Yeenoghu’s realm embodies his belief that only the strong deserve to live, and mercy is for the weak. Civilization and order have no place here; it’s a dog-eat-dog world, or more accurately, a gnoll-eat-everything world.

Yeenooghu, the Prince of Savagery

Powers of Note: Yeenoghu, the Prince of Savagery (planar tanar’ri lord [he/him] / CE)

The Chant: The Death Dells, the 422nd layer of the Abyss, is a place lifted right out of your nightmares. Yeenoghu, the Howling Prince, rules with a brutal tooth and claw. His realm is an endless expanse of sickly yellow forest and dun savannah under a low-hanging, blood-red sun. The grasses are razor-sharp, the air is thick with the stench of decay, and the water teems with venomous parasites. This is not a place for the faint of heart, berk.

Yeenoghu’s seat of power is his iPalace of Ill-Omen, a city-sized towering mountain mansion of cracked bones and withered limbs ripped from those who’ve displeased him. This macabre monument is visible from nearly any point in the realm, a grim reminder of the fate that awaits anyone who crosses the Savage Prince. The Savage Prince forces an army of slaves and captured undead to drag this bony mountain around the layer, visiting all of its important sites. The land around it is a hellscape where Yeenoghu and his gnollish retinue hunt anything that moves—lesser tanar’ri, unfortunate travellers, roaming ghouls, and even each other when the bloodlust takes over.

The Savagery of the Dells

One of the most dangerous parts of this layer is Azael’s Waste, a vast desert north of the Screaming Peaks that Yeenoghu hasn’t fully conquered. It’s a barren reminder of the layer’s former lord, Azael, whose influence still lingers on. This landscape defies even Yeenoghu’s control, truly a testament to the Abyss’s own savage nature. The Screaming Peaks themselves are a treacherous range of blade-like mountains, filled with ghoulish horrors and colossal flying beasts, making any attempt to traverse them a probably death sentence. And the sounds the winds make there cutter, a chilling shriek that chills you to your very soul.

The Screaming Peaks

Bechard’s Landing is a pit of misery, where the dying obyrith lord Bechard lies in eternal torment. This ancient demon, resembling a massive beached whale, offers incomprehensible telepathic counsel to Yeenoghu. His death throes sometimes trigger violent weather, turning the area into a tempestuous nightmare of wind and acid rain. Yeenoghu values Bechard’s ancient knowledge, even if he can’t fully grasp its significance.

Then there’s the Curswallow, a rough yellow ocean to the east. It’s the closest thing to sanctuary for escaped slaves and gnoll petitioners fleeing Yeenoghu’s tyranny. An armada of escaped slaves, led by the Cannibal King Malagash Unosh, roams these unforgiving waters. Their survival depends on cannibalism, a brutal echo of the savagery they tried to flee. They rescue other fugitives, but those who join must partake in the gruesome practice or face a grisly end themselves. Whether or not this is part of Yeenoghu’s grand design, or it simply amuses him, is unclear.

Lastly, the Seeping Woods mark the traditional boundary of Yeenoghu’s influence. It’s a twisted forest of sickly yellow-leafed trees, home to dangerous predatory ghouls and rebellious factions. Here, a group of succubi, servants of Malcanthet, plot to humiliate Yeenoghu by destroying a colossal statue of the Prince of Gnolls.

So, planewalker, if you’re thinking of braving the Death Dells, you’d better prepare yourself for something wicked. This place is a test of survival at its most brutal. Tread carefully, and remember: in Yeenoghu’s realm, only the strong survive.

The Rancor of Ghouls

A ghoul pack of the Death Dells

So you’re asking the sensible questions, cutter. What’s with all the ghouls in Yeenoghu’s realm? Well, sit down and listen close, because the Prince of Savagery’s ways ain’t for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. Yeenoghu’s gnollish followers and the undead ghouls are locked in a perpetual dance of death, a gruesome game of cat and mouse where both sides are actually rabid dogs—and some of them undead ones.

See, one of Yeenoghu’s first triumphs was his defeat of Doresain, the King of the Ghouls. The undead ruler controlled the White Kingdom—the 421st Abyssal layer neighbouring the Death Dells—that Yeenoghu and his savage army invaded and conquered, dragging much of his territory into his own. Yeenoghu’s Seeping Woods, as this realm used to be called, combined with captured portions of the White Kingdom of the ghouls, casme to be called the Death Dells by Abyssal scholars. And who would argue with an Abyssal scholar, cutter?

Yeenoghu, ever the bloodthirsty tyrant, doesn’t lift a claw to protect his gnoll petitioners from the ghouls that now roam his domain. No cutter, he actually enjoys watching them tear each other apart. See, for Yeenoghu, life—or unlife, as it were—is a constant proving ground. Survival of the fittest, survival of the savagest, that’s his creed. In the Death Dells, only the strongest, most cunning creatures earn the right to exist.

The gnolls, ferocious as they are, have to constantly prove their worth against the ravenous ghouls that infest the Seeping Woods. It’s a brutal cycle: gnolls hunt ghouls, ghouls hunt gnolls, gnolls and ghouls hunt planewalkers. Each pack that roams the razor-sharp savannas or the bleached forests knows that every hunt might be their last. This relentless struggle for survival keeps them keen, keeps them savage, and that’s just how Yeenoghu wants it.

Now, oue might think that no certain gnoll chieftain or a ghoul overlord would have a special place in Yeenoghu’s black heart, but the truth is, he’s got a particular favorite, and it ain’t just any gnoll or ghoul. There’s one beast that stands out in the Death Dells, a creature that embodies the pure essence of Yeenoghu’s savage philosophy. They call her Shentarr Blood-Mane, an vampiric gnoll huntress of unparalleled ferocity. She’s as barmy as a bag of vorpal ferrets and ten times as deadly. Her fur is matted with the blood of countless foes, her claws and fangs sharpened on the bones of the fallen.

The Curswallow

Shentarr has earned Yeenoghu’s favor not through loyalty or submission, but through sheer, unbridled savagery. She leads a pack of gnolls so ruthless, they’ve can tear through ghoul hordes like a scythe through wheat. Her cunning and brutality are unmatched, and she’s rumored to have a macabre sense of humor, often leaving gruesome trophies mocking her ghoul adversaries. Whether her pack realises she’s actually undead herself is unclear, but Yeenoghu does and he finds it highly amusing.

But don’t think for a moment that Yeenoghu shields her from danger. Oh no, he pushes her harder, sets her against even more terrifying foes, just to see if she can overcome. It’s said that Yeenoghu watches her battles with gleeful anticipation, savoring every moment of carnage. In his twisted mind, Shentarr is the epitome of his ideals, an unliving champion of the savage chaos he adores.

This brutal competition, this never-ending cycle of violence, it’s what keeps the Death Dells in a state of perpetual chaos. The land itself seems to feed off the bloodshed, the very air humming with the energy of constant conflict. The gnolls, driven by their bloodthirsty god’s expectations, and the ghouls, mindless in their hunger, create a landscape of endless war and death.

Locations of the Death Dells

  • Azael’s Waste, the Savage Searing (former realm of Azael)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p146-148
  • Bechard’s Landing (resting place of Bechard)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p147
  • Curswallow, the (site)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p109,147
  • Dun Savanna, the (site)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p146-148
  • Forest Sentinel, the (site)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p147
  • Gathering Gate, the (interplanar gate)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p146-148
  • Mazaran (realm of Ma’azbert)‡
  • Palace of Ill-Omen (wandering site)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p147
  • Screaming Peaks, the (site)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p146-148
  • Seeping Woods, the (realm of Yeenoghu)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p147
  • Vujak-Kesk (realm town)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p146-148
  • Vujak-Riln (realm town)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p146-148
  • Vujak-Sesko (realm town)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p146-148

Denizens of the Death Dells

A gnoll pack of the Death Dells
  • Azael the Ensnared (tanar’ri lord, dead)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p146-147,155
  • Bechard, the Rotting Husk (obyrith lord, dying)
    • Dragon Magazine #349 p31; #357 p69
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p146-147,155
  • Death Pack (cult of gnolls)
    • Demonomicon [4e] p26
  • Malagash Unosh (the Cannibal King)
    • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p109,147
  • Ma’azbert (drow elf power of disease, decay, poison)‡
  • Shentarr Blood-Mane (favourite of Yeenoghu)‡
  • Splitfang (gnoll cambion proxy of Yeenoghu)
    • On Hallowed Ground [2e] p137
  • Yeenoghu (intermediate power, Prince of Savagery)

Creatures of the Death Dells

  • Escaped mortal slaves
  • Flind — Monster Manual III [3e] p62
  • Ghast
  • Ghoul
  • Gnoll
  • Juggernaut — Monster Manual II [3e] p132
  • Tanar’ri, Gadacro — Monster Manual V [3e] p27
  • Tanar’ri, Maurezhi
  • Terror birds — Fiend Folio [3e] p175
  • Vorr — Planescape Monstrous Compendium 2 [2e] p120

Canonical References:

  • Book of Vile Darkness [3e] p141
  • Demonomicon [4e] p26
  • Dragon Magazine #270 p65; #341 p23; #349 p31; #357 p69
  • Fiendish Codex 1 [3e] p78,109,146-148,155-156
  • On Hallowed Ground [2e] p49,137,176
  • Planes of Chaos [2e] Book of CHaos p23; Abyss Poster (brief layer description)

Canonwatch: Entries are from D&D canon unless otherwise marked, although when the canon is sparse I’ve got creative with the details; † adapted from a 3rd party publication; ‡ homebrew.

Source: Jon Winter-Holt,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *