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The Nine Hells of Baator

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The first circle of Hell was also the "topmost". Avernus is a desolate wasteland with rocky terrain, sparse, twisted vegetation, concealed snake pits, caves and warrens, volcanoes, and rivers of magma. The sky is starless, full of choking smoke and glows a dark red due to balls of flammable gas that floats about or streaks across the atmosphere, randomly exploding as a fireball. The ground is littered with the detritus of countless battles, and blood trickles out of the ground in vein-like streams eventually flowing into the River Styx.


The second circle Dis, when described as its own layer, is a flat barren plane containing little more than black, stagnant rivers, stretching for thousands of miles until it reached some rolling hills. The sky is a cloudy dull green shot through with lightning


The third circle Minauros is an endless bog of vile pollution, decaying bodies, and rotting marsh, repeatedly drenched by rain, sleet, and hail storms. The soggy, bone-strewn, disease-ridden swampland made movement very difficult and is only broken occasionally by serpentine ridges of volcanic rock. Nameless creatures even the devils fear inhabit the swamp. Minauros as a realm is depicted as a broad but low-vaulted cavern connected to Dis. Oily water rains down upon swamps, deserts of mud, and oozing black soil, pockmarked by bubbling fumaroles and mud geysers.


The fourth circle Phlegethos is the Hell that most resembled the stereotype of a fiery world of eternal damnation, filled with active volcanoes, rivers of liquid fire, molten rock, ash hills, smoking pits, unbearable heat, all wracked by tremors and earthquakes. Even the air seems aflame and thus Phlegethos is considered to be fire-dominant.


The fifth Circle Syigia is the complete opposite of Phlegethos, Stygia is a bottomless ocean covered by an ice sheet up to 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) thick. The river Styx cuts across the ice forming a channel. The river also supports small but hardy plants and mosses which, after millennia of decay of this vegetation, resulted in swampy areas along the banks of the river. A few floating islands are the only non-frozen ground in Stygia, their peaks wreathed in lightning arcing from the coal-black sky. Where lightning struck, a strange phenomenon called "cold fire" erupted: white flames of extreme cold that "burn" for a short time and then disappear without a trace.


The sixth circle Malbolge is a gargantuan tumble of angular black stone blocks, each block ranging in size from a small city to a large metropolis, that formed a pile hundreds of miles thick. The randomly tilted and ill-fitting blocks are honeycombed with angular passages and caverns causing non-flying travelers to frequently need mountaineering skills and risk avalanches. Stinking clouds of vapor rise up from the depths and light the sky with the color of blood, Malbolge also rests on an infinite sea of lava.


The seventh circle Maladomini has to have vapor-polluted skies similar to Malbolge but the surface is solid. Maladomini is a colossal maze of passages each several miles across that eventually led to Cania, Malbolge, and Nessus. The seventh Hell is filled with ruins of old cities, stagnant rivers, exhausted and abandoned quarries and strip mines, stone aqueducts and lava canals, decaying fortresses, swarms of biting flies, and black pools of ichor that erupted from the ground.


The eighth circle Cania is a bitterly cold-dominant realm of solid ice mountains, titanic, unnaturally fast-moving glaciers, and nearly continuous snowfall that makes Stygia seem balmy by comparison. Unprotected travelers are exposed to temperatures of −60 ℉ (−51 ℃) but on the positive side, there are a few creatures that hunt in the icy wastes.


The ninth and deepest Hell Nessus is a land of extremes regions cold as Cania, volcanoes like Phlegethos, a lake of ice, a flaming forest, sheer cliffs, fire winds. A progression of rifts, pits, and chasms lead down and down, forming a vertical maze hundreds of miles deep that contain great cities and fiendish armies.