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Baator — Layer the Fifth

The Hell of Emptiness, Arbuda the Blister Hell, the Frigid Barrens of Stygia

Themes of the Layer: The Hell of Emptiness, of false emotions, hollow truths and lurking threats. While the surface of the plane is frozen solid, sinister undercurrents conceal hidden monsters. The baatezu here have similar personalities too; frosty and emotionless on the surface, but bestial and dangerous beneath the facade.

Hell Frozen Over


Stygia’s as cold as Phelegethos is hot. And cutter, you’d better believe that’s hellishly cold. The chant goes it used to be an ocean layer, but these days it’s a murky field of colossal grinding icebergs, beneath a dark sky rent by flickering frostfire and lightning storms. Icy shooting stars occasionally crash down into the ice, melting lakes and igniting cold fires, which while cold are still dangerous and can burn through ice and down to the liquid ocean below. The ozone tang in the air will scour your nose—if it doesn’t get frozen solid first. In between blinding lightning flashes, the ambient light is dim enough to cause problems for cutters who can’t see well in the dark. The dirty ice is polluted with an oily sheen, and filled with grit, shards of metal, bones and teeth, and even—the chant goes—ancient creatures frozen and forgotten in the depths of the ice.

Way down deep, far below the ice, the Depths of Stygia feel almost like another plane again. Here the pitch black waters are under suffocating pressures, keeping them liquid despite sub-zero temperatures. Add to this danger the unidentifiable horrors that lurk in the darkness, and you won’t be surprised that this part of the plane is very poorly explored, even by baatezu. Back on the surface, the River Styx winds a sluggish course through Stygia, its corrupted waters somehow neither mixing nor completely freezing. Because of this, it’s one of the faster ways to navigate the layer. Baatezu have build fortress-burgs and prison-towers on the scant solid ground that’s found near the Styx, or else on top of glaciers or icebergs or even hewn from the dirty ice itself. Some of these icebergs are connected by great bridges of ice-rimed green steel, making the footing treacherous for the unwary.

Tantlin, the City of Ice, is the largest burg on Stygia. Carved from the hollow core of a colossal meteorite, or the interior of a monstrous iceberg, depending on who you ask, this city is formed of concentric rings, and inhabitants are controlled by a strict caste system. Lesser baatezu are restricted to the outermost district only, while more powerful fiends are permitted to venture into the inner cores. Non-fiend visitors are only permitted by contract with a pit fiend, but with one of those to hand should expect few problems. Beyond being indebted to a pit fiend, of course.

The Lord of Stygia

The Iceberg of Prince Levistus

Ironically, this even includes the Lord of Stygia, Prince Levistus. Imprisoned inside a gigantic iceberg, he nevertheless controls the realm completely, thanks in part to his ‘proxies’ Trinity—the Voice of Levistus—and Zanth, a cutter who enforces the Will of Levistus. How they communicate with their master is dark, but it’s said he’s as fully aware of events that transpire in Stygia as any Lord of Baator in their home.

The reason he’s encased in ice is a long story for sure—the short version being he propositioned Bensozia, the consort of Asmodeus, and when she refused his advances, he did the honourable thing, for a baatezu lord, and murdered her. Despite him also being a fiend, this annoyed Asmodeus, who decided death would be far too quick a punishment, instead freezing Levistus into ice until the end of time. In a move no doubt intended to annoy Asmodeus, Levistus makes out he’s content to remain encased, and the cold from his icy tomb has spread to touch almost the entire layer now.

The Locals

The layer is occupied by a surprising number of baatezu, primarily abishai and spinagons, lorded over by amnizu. Erinyes can be found in citadels; it seems to be something of a punishment for them to be assigned here, however.

Menacing shadows under the ice in Stygia

Also dwelling in Stygia are three powers, each of whom would gladly see Levistus sunk to the bottom of the ocean. The Egyptian power Set maintains a realm here, one of the few parts of the plane that isn’t frozen over. His minions defend their territory against baatezu fiercely, but the power himself has yet to openly challenge Levistus. Deep beneath the ice, the lord of sharks Sekolah had not yet sensed the blood of Levistus and bides his time, waiting to strike when his enemy is wounded. Similarly little is known about Kriesha, a power of wintery monsters, who 

Finally, the layer is host to more asura rana than any other later of Baator. Prior to the arrival of Levistus on the scene, the Lord of the layer was an asura rana named Geryon. He was replaced by Levistus after getting on Asmodeus’ wrong side. Following the Bensozia incident, Asmodeus reinstated Geryon as Lord, and the asura became sycophantically loyal to Asmodeus in gratitude. When dealing with baatezu though, this is not a wise move, for he had been peeled. Asmodeus used this loyalty to drain what remained of Geryon’s power, casting him out into the Far Realms. Chant goes that Geryon remains there, plotting to grab enough energy to once again manifest himself. And when he does, his hibernating asura rana servants will come out of hiding and save him again.

Locations of Stygia

  • Academy of Lies (former library of Geryon)†
  • Ankhwughat, the Black Pyramid (realm of Set)
    • Khas-tep (realm town)
    • Tukhamen (realm town)
  • Arch of Ichor (gate to Malbolghe)‡
  • Duelist’s Chasm (site)
  • Elgarz
  • Ghiskidin
  • Hall of the Vanquished (site)
  • Hall of Tragedies (site)
  • Inquisition (independent burg)‡
  • Pillar of Geryon (site)
  • Razor Stair (site)
  • River Styx (planar pathway)
  • Sheyruushk, the Fated Depths (realm of Sekolah)
  • Steadfast Chill (realm of Kriesha)
  • Stygian Deep (area)‡
  • Stygian Eye, The
  • Tantlin, City of Ice (independent burg)† 
    • Tomb of Levistus (site)
  • Tichaim (independent burg)
  • Voiporl (realm of Mahathallah)†

Powers of Stygia

  • Kriesha (Cerilian power of winter and monsters)
  • Levistus (baatezu Lord of the Fifth)
  • Mahathallah (power of death, fate and vanity) — Queen of the Night†
  • Sekolah (sahuagin power of hunting and savage brutality)
  • Set (Egyptian power of murder and drought)

Nobles of Stygia

The Court of Levistus
Note: Most of the court of Levistus are ignoble baatezu, for the true nobles shun him. These lesser baatezu are keen to use their leverage with Levistus to ennoble themselves.

  • Agares (the Prince of Broken Glass) — baatezu lord of arrogance and perversion
  • Amon, Duke (the Wolf) — seneschal of Levistus
  • Cozbi — Consort of Levistus (rumoured to be dead)
  • Crocellthe Soothing Sin†
  • Erridon Alaka — high mage of Stygia
  • Fecor
  • Herodias — magistrate of Stygia
  • Gorson (the Blood Duke) — former Bailiff of Geryon
  • Leccas the Well Spider†
  • Machalas — commander of armies of Levistus
  • Osdri of the Shifting Tiles†
  • Piriasthe Whispering Vial†
  • Trinity (the Voice of Levistus) — a hellcat
  • Zanth — enforcer of Levistus’ will

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]

More details to follow!


  • Jon Winter-Holt
  • Atlas of the Planes — Stygia

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