Harbingers of the End
Summary A realm of vast wastelands under a rotten sky, Abaddon is perpetually cloaked in a cloying black mist and the oppressive twilight of an endless solar eclipse. The poisoned River Styx has its source in Abaddon, before it meanders like a twisted serpent onto other planes. Abaddon may be the most hostile of the Outer Planes; it is the home of the daemons, fiends of pure evil untouched by the struggle between law and chaos, who personify oblivion and destruction. Daemons, which are ruled by four godlike archdaemons, are feared throughout the Great Beyond as devourers of souls.
Abaddon has the following traits:Divinely Morphic: Deities with domains in Abaddon can alter the plane at will. Strongly Evil-Aligned Enhanced Magic: Spells and spell-like abilities with the evil descriptor are enhanced. Impeded Magic: Spells and spell-like abilities with the good descriptor are impeded.
Although more stable than the infinite fissures of the Abyss, and free from the tyrannical rigidity of Hell, Abaddon nevertheless stands as one of the most hostile planes in the multiverse. In its blistered and blackened reaches, both mortal souls and outsiders find themselves preyed upon by the fiendish residents, either slain outright or offered up bound and bleeding to the plane’s rulers as specimens upon which to feast or experiment. Constantly remade to suit its masters’ sick whimsy, Abaddon is a twisted and shifting place that forbears all attempts at mapping, and which only the insane or desperate dare to visit. This is the home of the daemons, those fiends who seek neither to corrupt life nor to bind it to their will, but rather to destroy it utterly. Their wasteland is bleak and dark, lit only by the pervasive, eerie half-light of the plane’s perpetually eclipsed sun. Deserts of ashes, oceans of acid, continent-wide fields of bones, forests of burning trees like living candelabras, and floodplains of salt and toxic sludge welcome visitors pressing through the gloom and the cold, cloying mists. Amid this desolation, all is silent save for the screams of mortal souls hunted for sport and the mad laughter of daemons feeding upon them.
Spirits condemned to Abaddon by Pharasma’s judgment flood into the plane like clockwork, falling from the eclipse-darkened sky like shining, screaming meteors. Half of them never reach the ground, snatched up by winged hunters mid-descent or ensnared by magic and transported to holding pens and slaughterhouses where spiritual consumption operates on an industrial scale. Those that do survive to reach the ground find only horror as they scatter, confused and dazed, before being hunted. Other souls arrive by way of daemonic conquest or predation beyond the plane’s borders, dragged back to Abaddon in vast slave lines. No paradise awaits those mad souls who offer the daemons worship, or whose evil natures condemn them to this plane. No liberation waits to grant them hope. There is no greater meaning, only the extinction of the soul. Those mortal souls that evade capture or travel to the plane for their own reasons are known as the hunted—but few of them endure for long. Those that survive do so by betraying and ultimately preying upon their fellows, and in time transcend their status and become daemons themselves, warped by their own inner natures and the plane’s touch in an ironic, horrific reversal.
All members of daemonkind bow before their greatest kindred, known as the Four Horsemen. Each Horseman personifies one of the greatest threats to mortal life—pestilence, war, famine, and death—and under their rule, they and their lesser kindred feast upon mortals and immortals alike, bleeding the universe dry of its animating essences. Most of Abaddon falls under the direct rule of one Horseman or another, but while they work toward the same ends, each of the Four operates according to his or her own independent agenda.
The Four do not openly wage war upon one another, instead cooperating as an unholy fellowship and presenting a supposedly unified front to the cosmos, though below them the daemonic ranks churn with schemes and outright fratricide. Philosophy, ideology, and differing arts and methods bow before the unifying drive of their kind: to hasten the inevitable oblivion that awaits all life. The daemons are often seen as neutral, their dispositions placing them between the extreme order of devils and the chaotic destruction of demons, yet this simplification is somewhat misleading. Daemons are not devoted to impartiality—rather, chaos is accepted so long as it fosters their goals, while law is co-opted as a useful framework to hasten the end of all things. Daemons are evil bereft of all mitigating influences, single-minded incarnations of nihilism in its purest form, villains willing to use any tool to achieve their goals, whatever they may be.
The Horsemen rule Abaddon from the thrones of their own vast domains, connected by the memory-leaching waters of the River Styx weaving through each realm like a black, bubbling ribbon of liquid corruption. The only territories beyond their control are those of the dark gods, most infamously Urgathoa and Zyphus—yet even these were an unsolicited gift from the Horsemen, and there’s no telling to what ends the Four invited the deities to encamp in their midst.
Far from the plane’s core, away from the constantly replenishing tides of souls, Abaddon’s unclaimed wastelands are squabbled over by non-daemonic powers, potent daemon warlords known as harbingers, and lesser daemonic nobles out of favor with the Horsemen. Further outward, the neighboring Maelstrom’s influence grows, causing the plane’s solidity to erode and its terrain to shift and change with the tides of the Cerulean Void. Daemons avoid this unstable rim, yet it’s hardly a safe harbor, as the environment lies open to roving bands of proteans and other creatures eager to violently demonstrate the primacy of chaos.
Even in a plane so devoted to destruction, there are legends. These whisper of another domain, lurking within Abaddon’s core and touched by the bordering domains of the Four, locked away like a cold and silent heart. It was here, the stories whisper, that the Four once served as servants in the early days of the plane, bound to an entity both more powerful and less knowable. And it was in this now-hidden domain that they betrayed, bound, and butchered their master, feasting upon its flesh and seizing its power as their own. Only the Four know whether there’s any truth to this tale. Either way, it hardly matters, for though individual Horsemen may fall and be replaced in their positions, the sovereignty of the Horsemen as a whole remains absolute.
On Abaddon, taunting telepathic dirges ring like church bells through the looming clouds as daemons flit about the eclipse-blackened sky, the fiends phasing in and out of reality and screaming fiendish hymns of pain and oblivion. Below them, the citadels of the Four stand brooding over the broken lands, monuments to the power of the unknowable masters of daemonkind.
As iconic as this desolate vision is, the wastes of Abaddon also harbor other constructions and landscapes, both active and long-abandoned, and other powers make their homes below the occluded sky. Presented here are some of the more notable locations.
Balishek’s Crater: The fractured walls of Balishek’s Crater still steam with pockets of molten glass long after the death of the daemon whose seat of power once rose there. One of the earliest Horsemen, Balishek and his servitors were obliterated in a dim era of Abaddon’s history for some crime long-forgotten by his race, destroyed with such prejudice that the location of his death still boils with his killer’s fury. Such is the anathema of his crime or the fury of his slayer that a lingering fear remains ingrained within the daemonic race, and most daemons refuse to approach the crater. Those who do experience a sudden wrench of fear totally out of keeping with their normal emotions.
The Common Grave: This sea of half-settled earth and half-rotten fiendish corpses stretches from horizon to horizon, inundated in places by the Styx and harboring things that swim in the slurry of soil, stone, flesh, and soul-stuff. This mass grave from the time of Lamashtu’s ancient demonic invasion encompasses a large enough volume to swallow the oceans of a dozen worlds. Yet not all of the dead lie quiet, as its trenches and chasms crawl with memory-stripped horrors born from the Styx, monstrosities that leak necromantic energies, and half-digested scraps of souls that mingle and suffuse the gaps and valleys. The ground rises and falls, breathing with the efflux of rot and burrowing terrors that dwell below, making the region treacherous to cross even for many daemons. Thus it remains a place of the lost and the forgotten, unclaimed and unwanted.
The Menagerie: Not all crusades end in righteous victory. The Menagerie is the site of an ancient agathion and angelic incursion to rescue the soul of a dead saint stolen in transit through the Astral Plane. Forging a gate directly from Nirvana into Abaddon’s heart, they arrived by the thousands, and there the Four awaited them, using the stolen soul as bait for creatures far more holy, more valuable, and more delectable in their destruction. A forest now grows around that broken, flickering gateway, long since twisted from its original beauty, and the hunted flock there like moths to a flame, hoping for redemption, salvation, or simply escape. And like moths, they find their doom. The gate functions in only one direction—into Abaddon, not out—giving a glimpse of paradise but no chance of freedom, and daemons lurk to capture and devour all who near. After the battle, many celestials remained behind, trapped within the broken and half-melted statues that litter the forest. While the celestial guardians of the gate refuse to allow any more of their brethren in to save the doomed crusaders, mortal heroes may make the attempt. Even now, the trap remains, waiting for virtuous mortals who seek to rescue the celestials who preceded them.
Mere of Broken Angels: A place of inexplicable beauty within the desolation, this stretch of crystal-clear water radiates a dull, distorted white noise to those who stand on its shores for more than a few minutes. Serenity slips away as gradually the noise decants into the sound of thousands of fists beating against the underside of the lake’s surface, as if it were frozen. Once heard, thousands of angelic figures look up in agony, beating and clawing powerlessly against the water’s underside, slowly suffocating and sinking down to the bottom, which is a carpet of bones and still gleaming arms and armor. As they drown or kill themselves to end the suffering, they sink back to the bottom, but within minutes they spontaneously resurrect, and the horror begins again. The identity of the captive, perpetually dying angels has been lost to history, and the only clue is a small island with a stone jetty, just within viewing distance from the shore. Any attempt to cross the water by non-daemons imposes the angels’ fate on the would-be traveler—swimmers become trapped below the water’s surface, fliers are plucked from the air and hurled below the waves, and teleportation cruelly reroutes to the lake bottom. Anyone who reaches the island finds the print of a massive, clawed reptilian hand or foot, dozens of feet across. Inside the impression are scrawled hundreds of lines in an unreadable script that seems vaguely related to Abyssal.
The Oblivion Compass: Situated atop a granite plateau rising up from the surrounding Styx floodplains in Charon’s domain, the Oblivion Compass counts down toward the Apocalypse, measuring the relative success of the Four as they work toward their ultimate goal. Built from the broken body of a colossal inevitable, its gears are turned by a thousand enslaved axiomites. None but the Four know of its precise history and construction—if indeed even they do—and knowledge of how to read and interpret the signs of its dozens of free-spinning hands and orrery wheels is fiercely guarded.
The Silent Nation: Lodged high in the mountains, the massive glacier known as the Silent Nation inexorably creeps toward the waiting, hungry waters of the Styx. Once an aquatic Material Plane world, the vast ocean was stolen and frozen by the daemons, locking within it every living creature it contained. From the smallest fish to the populations of a dozen aquatic civilizations and their drifting, ruined cities, all remain locked within the ice, their souls still trapped with them. By the terms of some unknown but failed, horrific bargain with Charon, they remain conscious and fully aware of the fate awaiting them once the glacier crumbles into the Styx, and they are at last delivered into the claws of the patiently waiting daemons.
Slave City of Awaiting-Consumption: A city of the damned and doomed, Awaiting-Consumption makes no pretenses as to its purpose. A sprawling metropolis, the city serves as one of the few points of extraplanar contact, with outsider emissaries and merchants living alongside the hunted, daemons, and rare mortal visitors. The majority of the city’s population is made up of the daemons’ captive livestock of hand-picked mortal bloodlines, matched and traded like commodities, but also kept and trained for slave-labor in specialized skills. Visitors pay heavily for seals of protection from the flocks of daemons flying above the city’s spires like vultures, but also from the culture of delusional mortal cultists and city overseers, some of whom spend a lifetime grooming themselves for ritualized oblivion.
The rulers of Abaddon possess other such slave-cities throughout their various realms, sealed off to non-daemons. While most of these blasted settlements function simply as breeding programs, others model mortal societies, with residents kept ignorant of their location by magic. Here, daemons experiment upon mortals in their native state, training for the rare campaigns they launch into the Material Plane.
Still other cities dot Abaddon’s wastes, empty and abandoned except for the newly arrived members of the hunted, wandering packs of daemons, and derelict experiments. All of these cities are of different architectures, slowly crumbling to ruins and dust to join the thousands that preceded them. Some appear to have been sucked from their original worlds, their inhabitants devoured in the space of days. Others seem to have always been there, their decay eternal yet never complete. The only intact cities beyond those experiments of the Four are those inhabited solely by fiends themselves, and these cluster near the locations of the various powerful harbingers like swollen lymph nodes around an infection.
The White Mountain: Near the border with Charon’s domain, the White Mountain stands as the highest point in Abaddon, reaching even higher than the volcano housing the Cinder Furnace. Yet rather than ash, it belches forth a miasma of corrosive, white-hot soul-stuff, spontaneously generated undead, and miles-wide, shifting zones of negative energy. The source of its fury is unknown, yet rumors suggest the cause is either a lost artifact, the tomb of a long-dead or imprisoned harbinger, or another long-abandoned experiment by one of the Four.
Zyphus and Urgathoa’s Domains: Abaddon’s two most potent true deities make their domains on the far side of Szuriel’s domain, bordered by the shores of the vast, acidic Sea of Lamentation and the suzerainties of minor daemonic nobles. The Pallid Princess rules a mist-shrouded realm filled with cities of undead engaged in excesses as an extension of life and reveling in the morbid delights of their goddess. Zyphus’s domain sits entirely encompassed by Urgathoa’s, looking like a single giant cemetery—a subtle mockery of Pharasma’s Boneyard. Curiously, each domain’s boundaries belie the size of their interiors; though hemmed in and restricted somehow by the Four, they are far larger inside than out. These domains were gifts from the Horsemen to the gods, who originally dwelled on the Material Plane, and both are under perpetual observation by the fiends. Why they made the grandiose offer is anyone’s guess, but some say that the daemons salivate like animals as they watch from the borders of the realms, and even if they obey the letter of their pact with the gods, their desires remain.
Below are some of the more common non-daemonic residents of Abaddon.
Divs: Formed from corrupted genie souls, Abaddon’s divs revel in destruction and misery, and specifically enjoy the destruction of mortal works. Comparatively few in number, they dwell at Abaddon’s fringes in the domain of their demigod master Ahriman. The Four largely ignore them, viewing their actions as helpful in the long-term, but several harbingers view them with suspicion and ego-fed hatred. When the two races clash—and indeed, there’s a good deal of mutual hatred between daemons and divs with similar purviews, such as hydrodaemons and ghawwas divs—the divs frequently lose or retreat, unwilling to risk angering the daemons’ masters.
The divs’ greatest reason to avoid conflict, however, is the presence of a permanent portal between Abaddon and Golarion: the House of Oblivion, created millennia ago by an Osirian pharaoh. The divs and their master Ahriman fear its discovery by the Four, yet at least one of the Horsemen already knows about it. It was Szuriel, the Horseman of War, who originally bargained with the Pharaoh of Forgotten Plagues and recommended the gate’s creation, linking Abaddon to the Thuvian deserts and helping her use the divs as a secondary assault upon the Material Plane.
The Hunted: For all the daemons’ uncontested might, Abaddon’s largest population is the doomed, damned souls of the hunted. Perpetually flooding into Abaddon by way of the Devouring Gate, or else stolen from other planes by daemons, the hunted exist in numbers that stagger the mind while only barely keeping pace with the rate of daemonic consumption. A fraction of their kind remains temporarily free at any given time, either in hiding or in one of the cities the daemons allow nominal autonomy, while most are either penned, consumed, actively being hunted, or in the midst of their own horrible transformation into daemons themselves. Those hunted who retain their mental faculties and survive their initial arrival sometimes serve as an underclass of protected, abused pets and objects of mockery, living in the fiends’ cities under the perpetual threat of public death and consumption simply for being what they are. Their tortured existences continue at their masters’ whimsy, and they frequently come to worship the Four as madness overtakes them.
Night Hags: Natives of the Ethereal Plane, night hags are champions of the soul trade, and thus are commonly found on Abaddon. Stealing or buying mortal souls from the Material Plane, the hags find no greater buyers for their mewling wares than the daemons. Traveling across the planes by magic or via complex networks of artificial gates and natural portals, the hags function as planar merchants and go-betweens. Peddling their wares and souls openly within Abaddon’s cities, and even within the realms of the Four Horsemen, the hideous merchants are protected from harm by an unspoken agreement between the Four and the hags’ racial deity, Alazhra the Dream Eater.
Nightmares: Abaddon’s equine fiends roam the plane’s wastelands, many indoctrinated from birth to loyalty toward the specific Horseman or harbinger whose realm their bloodline calls home. In return for their relative freedom, the nightmares serve as mounts for powerful daemons, and the greatest of their kind carry the Four directly. The unique mounts of the Four command much the same sort of respect from other nightmares as the Four do from other daemons, though nightmare society is much more individualistic and difficult to organize. While mortals (and perhaps some daemons) often think of nightmares as simple mounts, the nightmares see themselves as equal with their masters, as even the title of “Horseman” would be meaningless without their assistance. In this sense, the relationship between daemon and nightmare is much closer to true symbiosis than a simple master/servant arrangement. Nightmares not working directly with a particular daemon are free to roam across Abaddon without concern for borders or domains, protected by their power and status and feeding upon the acrid vegetation, wandering spirits, and soul-empowered wastes produced by their fiendish neighbors.
Other Creatures: Still other creatures dwell within Abaddon’s depths. Vargouilles can be found here, feeding on scraps and creatures that wander into their territory, while constantly looking for routes to the Material Plane. Wild yeth hounds hunt the wastes as well, less organized than those bound to Lamashtu but still terribly dangerous.
While Abaddon’s daemons have experimented endlessly upon themselves over the eons—forming new daemon castes and specialized varieties of their kind intended for specific means of destruction—most inhabitants of other planes only know the daemons for their insatiable hunger for obliterating and consuming souls. While the Four do seek to bring death to all things, mortal and otherwise, one of the paradoxes that defines their existence is their simultaneous need for destruction and love of twisted creation. Rather than the blasphemy one might expect, creating new and innovative mechanisms by which the cosmos may be flayed and stripped is one of daemonkind’s chief pastimes. Among these daemonic creations which plague the planes, the demons of the Abyss rank foremost, having entirely reshaped the nature of that plane and the balance of power among the residents of the Outer Sphere. But as horrific as that race may be, Abaddon’s fiends have also unleashed dozens of other, lesser-known horrors upon the planes, hideous monstrosities borne from the tinkering and warping of flesh and soul.
Some of the most devastating diseases and pandemics to curse the surface of Golarion were crafted by Apollyon, the Horseman of Pestilence, as well as those Horsemen who came before him in his role. In the depths of Abaddon near the Throne of Flies, the Horseman churns thick slurries of decay within massive onyx cauldrons. It was there, in his private laboratory, that he devised such diseases as enteric fever, sleeping sickness, and leprosy. While magic-users can easily cure those bearing such deadly afflictions, regions where the aid of magic is scarce suffer the worst of these contagions, which can kill their victims in mere days in most cases. Other diseases, including tetanus, bonecrusher fever, and even the bubonic plague (whom many have taken to calling Daemon’s Touch for this very reason), have been attributed to the Lord of Pestilence as well, but the Horseman gives no indication as to the truth of any of these rumors.