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Baator — Layer the Third

The Fetid Swamps of Minauros, Erebus, the Hell of Greed

Themes of the Layer: The sin of greed. Chant goes that Minauros used to be a rich layer of forested islands, but over the millenia it has been stripped of anything and everything in a futile attempt to satisfy the insatiable desires of Mammon, and churned up to a monotonous swamp of worthless muck.

The Malodorous Marshes of Minauros

Denizens of Minauros

Minauros, the third layer of Baator, is a desolate and oppressive realm; a cold, fetid swamp that stretches endlessly in all directions. The air is thick with miasmic fogs, and the stench of decay hangs heavy in the atmosphere. Ominous leaden skies regularly unleash torrents of acidic rain and flesh-slicing hail, adding to the misery of the environment. 

The landscape is dominated by vast, dismal marshes of foul, rotting soil, feculent quicksands, dotted with the carcasses of unfortunate creatures and mangroves of twisted, lifeless trees. Sharp ridges of obsidian thrust irregularly from the muck, creating treacherous terrain for travellers as they wade through the mire. The murky fog that blankets the landscape, obscures visibility, while eerie shapes lurk just out of focus at the edge of a basher’s vision.

Tread carefully, cutter, for the ground is also pitted with so-called ‘cells’; large shallow pits filled with rancid water, and lined with brass and iron chains. These serve as prisons for unwary and unlucky travellers, captured intruders and unfortunate souls who have attracted the attention of Mammon’s barbed devil sentinels. These nasty pieces of work loom near the cells, ready to descend upon trapped sods, burning their heads with hellish flames until they duck under the vile swamp waters for brief respite. The cruel laughter of the baatezu mingles with the sounds of the suffering prisoners.

The thick air is heavy with the putrid stench of decay, the stagnant waters of the marshes, the carcasses of the fallen, and the unmistakable odours of the waste that occasionally pours out of the clouds as chamber pots in the city of Dis on the layer above are emptied directly into Minauros — for this disgusting marsh is also the largest open sewer in the planes. The acidic rain leaves behind an acrid odour that clings to clothing and skin.

The constant lash of acidic rain and the howling of harsh winds create a cacophony of misery, only broken by the occasional scream of tortured souls which echoes across the marshes. Hailstorms frequently strike the marshes, where the shards of ice that are whipped around by the winds contain sharp fragments of metal, or the fangs or claws of the dead. You might be tempted to shelter under one of the rock canopies that baatezu have built to protect buildings or what passes for roads. The more protective ones will have an enterprising fiend eager to collect rent; the more intense the storm the higher the price. But buyer beware, because the teetering stone ceilings have caused the death of many a berk when the foundations shift and they come crashing down, burying the unlucky sods under the cloying mud.

The Hell of Greed

The Sinking Streets of Minauros

Mammon’s influence pervades every aspect of Minauros, with his overflowing greed and avarice trickling down to drive the actions of its inhabitants. Every useful resource that the baatezu can glean from Minauros is snatched up and spirited away to satiate Mammon’s demands, from stones to shore up the foundations of his sinking city, to the unfortunate souls that end up in this forsaken hell. Petitioners are subjected to the cruel tortures of the cells, their suffering maximised for Mammon’s gain, as tormented souls command higher prices.

Underneath the surface of the swamp lurk dark beings of ancient horror, so the chant goes. Occasionally a probing sinuous tentacle might wrap around the ankle of an unlucky or careless swamp-traveller. If this happens to you, you’ve got mere moments before you’re dragged down to a fate that’s likely worse than death. It’s the unknown owners of these grasping appendages that the baatezu attempt to placate, or at least redirect, with sacrificial souls.

The Sinking City

The Palace of Mammon

Mammon’s grand seat of power is a haunting and oppressive city built upon towering stone plinths that thrust into the depths of the swamp below. Petitioners, lashed to the columns, slowly sink into the frigid waters, their frantic screams echoing through the decaying streets as they meet their slow and inevitable watery fate. Buildings and streets constantly shift and buckle as the city sinks inexorably into the muck, the ominous creaking and groaning of the precarious structures adding to the atmosphere of impending doom. Mammon’s gilded palace, adorned with disgusting amounts of ostentatious treasure, leans precariously as its foundations sink into the black mire, yet somehow always managing to avoid complete collapse.

The stench of rot permeates the air, mingling with the sickly metallic odour of Mammon’s ill-gotten treasures. Black muck oozes up between the paving stones, slowly devouring everything in its path. Occasionally, the sound of combat erupts as lesser baatezu vie for resources salvaged from the crumbling buildings, their greed driving them to fight for riches plucked from the decay, or pieces of wreckage from ruined buildings that might be useful.

Mammon, Lord of the Third

Mammon’s insatiable greed is reflected in every aspect of the city, from its sinking foundations to its soul trade industry. The chant goes the reason the city sinks is because of the weight of the gold and plunder that Mammon has hoarded in his vast Counting House treasury. Yet the Lord of the Third is too miserly to spend any of the almost infinite wealth to shore up the city’s foundations properly. Instead, his servants are tasked with the perpetual futile task of packing the foundations with stones or anything sturdy they can find in the swamp, repairing damaged streets and buildings, or sacrificing low-value petitioners and prisoners to the unseen swamp horrors. The high-value ones, or course, are sold in the thriving soul trade. The choicest spirits and shades are swapped for goods or treasure, to satisfy the eternal demand of baatezu nobles of other layers of the plane. Souls of lawful and evil petitioners command better prices, while the rare soul of the good that accidentally find their way here are the most highly sought-after.

Locations of Minauros

  • Aeaea (secondary realm of Hecate)
  • City of Man, the (independent burg)
  • Eye for an Eye (independent burg)
  • Freetown (independent burg)
  • Jangling Hiter, City of Chains (kyton burg)
    • Kytons’ Quarter
    • Merchant Quarter
    • Panos Qytel (site)
    • Visitor’s Quarter
  • Labyrinth of Truths (site)
  • Minauros the Sinking (realm of Mammon)
    • The Counting House
  • Rhel’s Tears (battlefield)
  • Shores of Sorrow (site)
    • Forest of Lament (site)
  • Swamp of Erebus, the (site) — the sewers of Dis
  • Thorngate (gate to Phlegethos)

Powers of Minauros

  • Hecate (Greek power of witchcraft)
  • Mammon, Viscount Lord of the Third

Nobles of Minauros

  • Anarazelguardian of the treasures of Mammon
  • Baelnoble baatezu
  • Bohga the Treasurer (an asura rana paragon)†
  • Caarcrinolaas of the Seventh Quarternoble baatezu
  • Chupurvagasti the Lady of Poison Mist (an asura rana paragon)†
  • Focalurseneschal of Mammon
  • Glasya, Archduchess Lord of the Sixth, frequent visitor
  • Glwaconsort of Mammon
  • Islin former Queen of Baator
  • Melchon — noble baatezu
  • Morsch, Duke — noble baatezu
  • Worm of Minaurospurple worm
  • Zbavra — witch-queen of Minauros
  • Zimimar — member of the Dark Eight

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]
  • 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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