The Infernal Battlefield of Acheron
|Cosmology / Powers and Deities / Dramatis Personae /
Rules and Mechanics / Character Creation / Equipment
The hue and cry of battle is the first sound a soldier hears when arriving on Acheron and the last sound a refugee hears when leaving. That’s all there is on Acheron: conflict, war, strife, and struggle. Many armies populate Acheron, but leaders are scarce. Truly, rebels without a cause are common on Acheron, whether they’re petitioners, mortals, fiends, or celestials. Acheron has four layers, each made of island- or even continent-sized iron cubes floating in an airy void. Sometimes the cubes collide, and echoes of past collisions linger throughout the plane, mingling with the ring of sword on sword as armies clash across the faces of the cubes. Acheron hosts many deities, including Wee Jas, the deity of death and magic; Gruumsh, the god of orcs; Maglubiyet, the goblin deity; and Hextor, the deity of tyranny and self-proclaimed champion of evil.
Acheron has the following traits.
- Objective Directional Gravity: The strength of gravity is the same as on the Material Plane, but which way is down depends on which face of the cube you’re on. Walking across edges between faces can be dizzying for the inexperienced.
- Normal Time.
- Infinite Size: Each cube is finite, but the void the cubes hang in is infinite.
- Divinely Morphic: Acheron changes at the whim of its deities. Ordinary creatures must use spells and physical effort to change the infernal battlefield.
- No Elemental or Energy Traits.
- Mildly Law-Aligned: Chaotic characters suffer a –2 penalty on all Charisma-based checks.
- Normal Magic.
As on all the lower planes, the River Styx flows through the top layer of Acheron, called Avalas. The Styx flows on many of Avalas’s cubes—welling up from a crater on one cube to flow many miles, then leaking down into another crater, and reappearing on another cube. Sometimes the river takes a new course over a cube face, which can result in entire cities being washed away in a tide of forgetfulness and death. Portals to other planes are fairly common. Usually, such gates appear in the mouths of the many tunnels that riddle most of Acheron’s cubes.
Renegade armies filled with every sort of creature wander the faces of Acheron looking for enemy forces to fight. However, mutiny or madness soon brings down even the strongest military leader, leaving most armies without a true objective other than the destruction of other renegade armies. Sometimes armies of undead or constructs last longer, because they are able to mindlessly fulfill their last orders. Armies that have not gone completely mad may still seek a goal, such as the defense of a realm, the procurement of provisions, the overthrow of an impostor king, or any of a hundred other causes. Unfortunately, because most of those causes were important on a plane far from Acheron, even the most steadfast armies soon lose focus and go renegade. Achaierai, devils, imps, fomorians, rakshasas, dragons, and yugoloths also inhabit Acheron. Rakshasa clans rule several hidden cubes throughout Acheron, all cloaked by powerful illusions. Clockwork creatures from Mechanus keep a few hidden mining colonies scattered through the two lowest layers of Acheron.
Finally, Acheron holds enormous flocks of birds. Ravens, vultures, gulls, bloodhawks, and swallows tumble on the wind, sated on the carnage of the many battlefields.
Deserters and petitioners make up many of the renegade armies on Acheron. If soldiers have killed others for a cause they do not believe, and killed happily, they might wind up as petitioners on Acheron. Particularly rabid revolutionaries and terrorists slain on the Material Plane also find their way to Acheron, often as leaders of the roving armies. The renegade commanders cannot rest until they are finally slain and their essence merges with the plane itself.
MOVEMENT AND COMBAT
Movement on the Infernal Battlefield of Acheron is much like movement on the Material Plane. Walking between faces seems daunting to the uninitiated, but is relatively easy. Moving between cubes requires some son of flying ability. Travelers in Avalas and Thuldanin must be wary of collisions between the cubes, because everything between the two cubes at impact is crushed into nothingness. Cubes bound for collision are visible a day or two in advance of impact, providing enough warning for evacuation.
FEATURES OF ACHERON
The cubes that make up each of the four layers of Acheron are pitted and scarred with cracks and dents from their many collisions and craters from their many battles. On the orderly plane of Acheron, the cubes always rust or fracture along straight lines and at right angles. Some of the cubes are only a few hundred feet on a side, but others are big enough for whole cities and kingdoms. Geometric shapes other than cubes exist, though they are rare (except on Tintibulus, the third layer). Vision is normal on Acheron. The plane is lighted by a gray, fluctuating illumination that varies slightly between bright moonlight and a dark, cloudy day. Hearing is also normal, though the echo of colliding cubes and the ring of battle is always in the background.