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Baator — Layer the Second

The Iron City, the Pernicious Spires of Dis, the City of Spite, the City that Burns, the Hell of Gluttony

Themes of the Layer: The sin of gluttony. The city of Dis draws in and consumes almost everything from the layer, no matter the cost. The rest of the layer has been stripped bare to sustain the breakneck pace of building, tearing down and rebuilding. Inside the houses of the noble baatezu of the city are continuous parties of over-indulgence and waste, as the high-ups of the burg continuously try to out-do each other in extravagance and excess.

The Walls of Dis

Welcome to the Searing City

This layer is a desolate expanse of blackened iron wasteland stretching as far as the eye can see. Jagged peaks loom in the distance, their presence shrouded in mystery—indeed, so is whether they are real or illusionary. The air is thick with the acrid stench of hot iron, and the sickly green sky crackles with ominous lightning. The elephant in this room is in fact a seemingly infinitely large burg—the eponymous city of Dis itself. While the region outside the city is itself an endless expanse of cracked black lava fields called the Malpaís, the few scattered burgs and realms that exist out there are dwarfed by the metropolitan area.

There’s only one way into the city, and that’s via the white cobble road that winds through the wastes before getting lost amongst jagged spikes of iron that jut from the ground with increasing frequency the closer you get to the city of Dis. Except as you get close you’ll realise they’re not cobblestones, but in fact the skull of those who denied the will of Dispater, the Lord of Dis. Only by travelling the road can you enter the city itself, and you’ll almost certainly be surprised when it suddenly drops you inside the city; you don’t appear to reach the wall or a gate. It’s almost like you’re kept walking while someone decides whether to let you in, and when they approve, you’re suddenly in.

Inside the city, visitors are enveloped in a bewildering maze of streets and alleys, where the iron walls exude intense heat capable of inflicting severe burns. The streets themselves are also paved with stones that radiate heat, causing pain to any unfortunate soul whose bare flesh comes into contact with them. The petitioners of course aren’t given niceties like shoes.

The Iron Tower of Dispater

The city itself seems to stretch infinitely in all directions, disorienting those unfamiliar with its warped geometry. The screams of tormented souls echo through the streets, mingling with the metallic clang of labourers and the occasional roar of infernal beasts.

The sights in the city as varied as they are unsettling. Towering structures made of rusting iron dominate the skyline, connected by precarious suspension bridges, casting long shadows that seem to reach out and grasp at passersby. Everywhere, metallic rods collect the energy of suffering from out of the air, charged up by the ceaseless toil of the damned. Iron statues of Dispater, eyes glowing red with scrying magic, watch over the city, serving as both grim decoration and, probably, surveillance.

The Iron Tower, Dispater’s seat of power, looms ominously, seemingly always just out of reach due to the distorted geometries. Even worse, no matter which way you turn to face, it’s always there in front of you. This towering fortress, shrouded in shadows and mystery, serves as both a bastion of defence and a beacon of fear, its dark spires reaching towards the smoky skies like the talons of some ancient predator.

Despite the chaotic layout of the city, certain districts emerge within the maze of streets, each with its own distinct character and perils. The Iron Heart, with its imposing structures and forbidding atmosphere, serves as the beating heart of Dis, where the most powerful and influential denizens of the city hold sway. The Oppidan Maze, a tangled web of narrow lanes and shadowed alcoves, is home to thieves, cutthroats, and those seeking to disappear into the city’s labyrinthine depths. And the Ghetto of Outcasts, a desolate expanse on the outskirts of the city, is where the most wretched and downtrodden souls eke out a meagre existence, far from the prying eyes of the city’s rulers.

Visitors should be wary of the many dangers lurking within the twisted streets. Gangs of thieves vie for control in the slums of the Fetters, while Dispater’s spies and informants seemingly lurk in every shadow. Vents in the streets emit the anguished cries of prisoners held below, serving as an omnipresent reminder of the city’s ruthless high-ups. And the ever-present specters of the damned, condemned to eternal torment, serve as a grim reminder of the city’s cruel and unforgiving nature.

Despite its nightmarish appearance, Dis seems to hold an allure for those willing to brave its dangers. Within its depths lie secrets coveted by devils and mortals alike, hidden caches promising power, wealth, and forbidden knowledge to those bold enough to seek them out. But tread carefully, for in the streets of Dis, one wrong step can lead to eternal damnation.

The Streets of Dis

He Who Rules

The Iron Duke Dispater, Lord of the Second

Dispater, the Iron Duke, ruler of Dis and second in power only to Asmodeus himself, cuts a figure of quiet menace and unyielding authority amidst the infernal landscapes of Baator. His city embodies his essence: A sprawling labyrinth suffering, where every corner holds the promise of treachery and torment.

Dispater himself is a figure of intrigue and paranoia, his form cloaked in shadows and his intentions veiled in secrecy. He’s said to possess a mind sharper than a vorpal sword. His every word is laden with hidden meanings, his every action a carefully calculated move in the eternal game of infernal politics—and you’d better believe he moves in mysterious ways.

Locations of Dis

The City of Dis

  • Fetters, the (Ghetto of Outcasts)
  • Ironheart, the (district)
    • Demagogue, the (prison-museum)†
    • Eleusys (palace of Erecura)† 
    • Fallen Fastness, the (library)
    • Garden of Delights (site)
    • Hall of Infernal Light (temple to Dispater)
    • Hall of Skulls (gate to Minauros)
    • God Street
      • Sanctum of the Hidden Mother
    • Iron Sceptre, Dispater’s Tower (realm of Dis)
    • Mentiri (prison)
    • Pits of Dis
    • Pyrite Vault, the (treasure vault)†
  • Oppidan Maze (district)†
    • Andramal, the (canal)†
    • Bastille of Souls (warehouse of lost souls)
    • Broken Chains (velestrac embassy)†
    • Docks of Dis
    • Lethe, the (canal)†
    • Market of Breaths, the (market of lives)†
      • Emporium Isitalba
    • Soul Market
    • Widow’s Cry
  • Safe as Houses (district)‡
  • Velvet Glove (district)‡
    • Iron Fist (fortress and administrative HQ)‡
    • Smoking Salmon (tavern)
    • Tombs of the Heretics

The Malpaís (wastelands outside the city walls)

  • Empire of Exiles
  • Gate to Avernus (gate)
  • Ghaunapthal
  • Knoll of Blades
    • School of Pain
  • Retreat of the Fallen (realm of Druaga)
  • River Styx (planar pathway)
  • Road to Dis
  • Valkyria Reforged (realm of Eiseth)†

Powers of Dis

  • Dispater (Lord of the Second)
  • Druaga (Babylonian power of baatezu summoning)
  • Eiseth (power of battle and revenge) — Queen of the Night†
  • Erecura (power of deduction, mind reading, subtlety) — Queen of Dis†
  • Khandovar the Punisher (power of torture)
  • Uin the Unseeing (power of blind obedience)
  • Z’zelth of the Eighth Order (power of false knowledge)

Nobility of Dis

These are Baatific nobility who are loyal, or pretend to be loyal, to Dispater. Some dwell in the Iron Tower in the Court of Dispater, others have large estates inside the city of Dis.

  • Alocer (the Pack Lord) — noble of beasts, bunters, traditions
  • Arioch (the Iron Avenger) — noble of retribution, punishment, vengeance
  • Biffant (mayor of Dis)
  • Bitru (the Twelfth Spirit) — noble of lust
  • Lilis (the Iron Maiden) — noble of information, spying, intelligence
  • Kri’ik (pit fiend servant of Dispater)
  • Malachlabra (Duchess of Hell) — daughter of Dispater
  • Merodach (former consort of Zariel)
  • Ose (Duke of Claws) — builder of war machines
  • Titivilus (the Scrivening Count) — record keeper of Dispater
  • Ustyhrin-ja (chief of Erinyes)
  • Zaggutch (lieutenant of Dispater)

These bloods are not part of the Court of Dispater but are on cordial enough terms for them to be given leave to remain in the city.

  • Console Chayte (the Ambassador in Chains) — kyton diplomat†
  • Erzylian — a blue dragon who watches over the Market of Breaths†
  • Forcas (the Duke of rhetoric) — the noble of blasphemy, secrets and tomes†
  • Onamahu — the Twice Pure (an asura rana paragon)†

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.

Canonical Sources

  • Book of Vile Darkness [3e]
  • Faces of Evil [2e]
  • Fiendish Codex II [3e]
  • Fires of Dis [2e]
  • A Guide to Hell [2e]
  • Hellbound: The Blood War [2e]
  • Manual of the Planes [1e, 3e, & 5e]
  • On Hallowed Ground [2e]
  • Planar Handbook [3e]
  • Planes of Law [2e]
  • Planescape Campaign Setting: DM’s Guide to the Planes [2e]
  • Planescape Monstrous Compendium Vols. 1 & 2 [2e]
  • Planewalker’s Handbook [2e]

More details to follow!

Source: Jon Winter-Holt

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