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Titles Purgatory
Sphere Outer Sphere
Alignment Lawful evil
Denizens devils
Lawful evil outsiders
Lawful evil souls
Description Nine descending infernal circles

The plane of Purgatory is the ultimate expression of order in the Great Beyond, of the weak subjugated to serve the strong, of complete obedience, and of unquestioning faith. It is not willful and random like the torments of the Abyss or purely sadistic and spiteful like that of Abaddon. Evil and obedience here are honed to a razor's edge in service to a greater purpose: that of bending the will of souls and the very architecture of creation itself to the greater glory of the lord Asmodeus and his perfect order. It is the home of a myriad of devils and other evil outsiders and sadly the final destination for countless mortal souls.[1][2]


Although Purgatory is a boundless realm of torment and suffering, it is often thought of as a series of stacked or nesting layers bounded by the Maelstrom. A traveler must pass through each of these in order to arrive at the next lower one. Each is overseen by one of Asmodeus' lieutenants, the dreaded archdevils.[2]

Layers of Purgatory[]

A vision of Malebolgia

The first layer, Avernus, is ruled by Barbatos and is a volcanic wasteland where souls assemble, are judged, and are sent to their appropriate layers for eternal punishment.
The second, Dis, is ruled by Dispater and consists of a large city which provides soldiers to the other layers.
Erebus is the third layer of Hell and is ruled by Mammon. It consists of the sewers of Dis and includes the counting house in which Hell's fortunes are listed, its supplies cataloged, and its soldiers equipped.
The fourth layer of Hell is ruled by Belial and contains the hideous forges of Hell, where unsuitable souls are recast into something more fitting to the infernal eye.
The realm of Geryon and the temples and libraries of sin and heresy, it is here that the temptation of Hell is practised as an art form to be mastered.
The realm of Moloch is a smouldering forest of false reward and spirited hunts of the damned.
In this infernal realm the damned watch the feasting of devils from cages of ice afloat glaciers and frozen oceans; here the archdevil Baalzebul holds dominion.
Caina is a realm of iron and torture where steel cages suspended above impenetrable darkness spreads in all directions. Here Mephistopheles is lord of the damned.
The unknown layer of Nessus is the heart of Hell and the palace of Asmodeus.

Geographical Features[]

Although each layer is geographically and morphologically distinct from the others, they share a number of features or traits in common.

The fires of Hell are a common linguistic and literary image but hardly compare to the malicious and deadly reality of actual hellfire. It burns without need of fuel and can be found easily in water, rock, or air. Stinking of sulfur, its flames burn with an unholy radiance that disproportionately harms good and moral creatures. Hellfire is most commonly encountered in the layers of Phlegethon, Malebolge, Cocytus, Caina, and Nessus.[2]
Hellmouths are living portals in the fabric of Hell itself, most commonly appearing as disgusting rents in the ground, devilish faces, or open orifices. They connect the various layers of Hell and are therefore heavily fortified and guarded, with a devil of at least infernal duke status assigned as overseer. A few extremely rare hellmouths connect to other planes, most commonly the Abyss, the sewers of the planar city of Axis, or a world on the Material Plane.[2]
The River Styx
The River Styx begins in Avernus and runs through several layers of Purgatory, passing through planar portals or hellmouths. It serves as a passage from Avernus through Dis, Erebus, Stygia, Malebolge, Cocytus, and Caina before passing to other planes. In its courses can be found countless souls who have lost their memories, aquatic fiends, and planar traders.[2]


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The Great Beyond
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