Liber Demonica (3.5e Sourcebook)/LD1

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Chapter 1: Tales of the Abyss

The demons, and their home, are the subject of many legends and stories, and few of them have any consistency or even sanity to them. However, some common ground does emerge from the ravings of the loremasters who make the study of this place their life's work, and these commonalities, ripped screaming (at times, literally) from their works and libraries are listed here.

The Origins of the Abyss[edit]

The origins of the Abyss, like the origins of all the planes, are something of a mystery that no-one has been able to adequately solve. Even the gods are silent on the topic when questioned, as many of them ascended long after the present structure of the planes had been established. While some powerful (and mildly insane) necromancers have tried asking the corpses of deities on the Astral Plane questions about the origins of the planes, and of the Abyss in particular, they have never found anything satisfactory (or, at least, nothing intelligible). It has been left largely to highly-experienced demonologists (who are individuals of questionable motive anyway) to make some sense out of the history of the Abyss, and the fragments they have gathered, when pieced together, retain some consistency.

The oldest time any being questioned recalls is named No Time. During this time, there was no meaning of 'now' and 'then', nor of 'here' or 'there'. Everything was awash with every possibility, and nothing ever remained fixed for long. Some of the deepest areas of Limbo are the closest approximation of such a thing anyone can locate now, but even they are bound to some laws of space and time, whereas No Time was not bound by any laws whatsoever. The true nature of such a thing would be so alien as to render any creature that currently exist irrevocably damaged, but at the time, this was the norm of the multiverse. The planes had not been separated yet, and energies and beings that governed them were not formed yet.

All this changed with the coming of Paradox. Believed to be a cosmic accident, this entity, now known as the Paragon of Time, was the first to try and impose some order on Not Time. Fearing for the end of his existence, Paradox saw that, as long as time was not kept flowing in a steady and predictable direction, nothing could ever be assured of continued existence. Paradox had also been born with the gift of arcane magic - the ability to affect his environment with his will alone. By imposing his will on Not Time, he forced time to flow in only a single direction, and with that established concepts such as causality, the passage of time, age, and ultimately, entropy. Entropy was a vital part of this, as it gave 'time' meaning as such. Everything from now on, even Paradox himself, would ultimately move towards an end - of everything, forever. Whether Paradox realised the consequences of this or not is not known. At the same time, this was the consequence of the ordering of time - that eventually, no matter how far in the future, everything would end, forever.

With this action, something was taken from Not Time - the ability for time to flow freely. Although Paradox had left in some possibility of lateral movement through time, he had put strict conditions on its use, and set himself up as its protector against those who would try to tinker with it excessively. As a result of this, for the first time, parts of Not Time became different to each other - marked by their flow of time. As Not Time was bounded, this meant that some parts lost their potential for faster, or more unusual, time, and instead were left with less of it - or perhaps, none at all. It was this effect that ultimately led to the creation of the Abyss.

Not long after Paradox came the First Ones. They, like Paradox, saw something about the multiverse that they wanted to change. Some wanted to impose additional rules, like mortality, or bounded energy, or landmasses, while others were more concerned with arranging the work of others, by bringing together like and like. These First Ones kept moving different sections of the multiverse around, and are believed to be the original creators of the planar structure and many of the rules that govern it today. However, just as Paradox had changed the multiverse by transferring something away from something else, so did these beings do the same. This left some parts of the multiverse barren, with little remaining, while others became bountiful and empowered. The First Ones that gathered like with like, establishing the universal principle of sympathy, naturally saw fit to combine such barren areas together, creating large planes of emptiness, darkness and horror, where none of them saw fit to go. These planar wastelands were largely left alone, and grew larger and larger as the First Ones sucked out more and more of the essence of the multiverse and concentrated it in their chosen domains.

All of this changed with the coming of the Voidborn. Stepping from these planar wastelands, these beings were the perfect antithesis to creation, representing both the final end that Paradox had placed as a vital part of the universe, and also drawing power from everything the First Ones had left behind - all the emptiness, loss and darkness that they chose to leave behind in the huge planar wastelands that remained. They too sought everything that the First Ones had, but unlike the massive power to create and rearrange that the First Ones possessed, the Voidborn could only take or destroy. Where they went, the planar wastelands grew, being sucked dry of their essence, returning it to the wastelands. However, the energy, once concentrated, instead became dispersed, making the whole wasteland only slightly less harsh in return for the toppling down of the First Ones' pleasure palaces, gardens and lifeforms.

War between the First Ones and these newcomers was completely inevitable. This conflict, which bears no name, was the last of its type, as it led to even more unforeseen outcomes, each more terrifying than the last. The destruction of both First Ones and their enemies led to truly dangerous cosmic outcomes, and if it had continued indefinitely, the multiverse may have collapsed or become torn apart. It is believed that Paradox himself was almost destroyed, which would have meant the unmaking of time itself.

Then, suddenly, the First Ones simply left. None know precisely what happened to them, but with their departure, the Voidborn also left. All of them - First One, Voidborn regardless - were removed forever from the multiverse, and the reasons for this remain completely unknown.

The Obyrith[edit]

List of Obyrith
Despite once being the central power in the Abyss, those obyrith not essential to the plane's continued operation have practically been reduced to near-extinction. Those too numerous or powerful to eradicate entirely still remain, but in nowhere near the numbers necessary to take back the Abyss from their hated tanar'ri usurpers. They are left with no choice but to mete out a continued existence under tanar'ri dominion, pushed into small corners of the Abyss and hunted for sport.

While many of the Voidborn sought to claim and destroy the First Ones, one of them decided that the approach they were taking was completely wrong. Instead of seeking to take back what the First Ones had taken, she believed, it would be better to simply work with what they had left behind. Total nothingness wasn't what remained in the planar wastelands - there was, after all, waste. It was that waste that she used to begin her greatest work, and with that, the Abyss was born.

Back then, the Abyss was much larger than it is currently established to be. It was created out of the waste left behind by the First Ones, and came to epitomise everything that the Voidborn thought about the First Ones and what they had created. Steeped in hatred, dark emotions and endless, boundless creation of things too horrible to exist elsewhere, the Abyss became a breeding ground for bizarre and terrifying new life. As this work continued, the Voidborn who first came up with the idea of breathing creation into the planar wastelands slowly began to take on a form different to the others, resembling more and more her own realm. She even took on a name, unheard-of for an Voidborn, and became known as the Queen of Chaos.

Some of her first creations were the obyrith, which were creatures that were designed to be less corrosive to existence as a whole than the Queen of Chaos and her Voidborn cousins. While they still spread insanity and destruction wherever they went, they could also have the capacity to create, just like the Queen of Chaos. And create they did - the Abyss became a huge explosion of races, driven by the many sibriexes primarily, but other obyrith didn't hesitate to create more living creatures. These servant races were very similar to the obyrith, and owed them complete allegiance.

However, the actions of the obyrith and the Queen had other, unforeseen effects. It filled the Abyss with creative energies, which also caused it to spontaneously produce life - in huge variety. Much of this life, not being a direct creation of the Queen or the obyrith, did not owe them allegiance directly, but instead had to be convinced to give of their worship. This worship, initially ignored by the Queen and the obyrith, was quickly shown to be a powerful force, as it could give enough power for a creature to ascend to the status of outsider - or even that of a god. These 'mortals' as they became known, arose spontaneously out of the Abyss, but unlike the obyrith and their servant races, could choose their own way and had freedom to act as they wished.

For this purpose of intercession and taking of worship, the obyrith were extremely poorly-suited - they could simply not deal with mortals directly without destroying them or driving them completely insane. For this, they had to create a race that would obey them, but would not have many of their more bizarre and sanity-wrenching features - leading to the creation of the tanar'ri.

The Tanar'ri[edit]

List of Tanar'ri
The tanar'ri hordes are perhaps the most potentially fearsome fighting force in the cosmos. Infinite in number and variety, the following only constitute a small portion of the vast possibilities that can be spawned by the Abyss.

The tanar'ri proved to be both one of the greatest success stories of the obyrith - and also one of its biggest failures. While they allowed for interactions with mortals on a level that the obyrith simply couldn't manage, the tanar'ri were born of more primal emotions, and had a much more mortal view of the world - distorted, but certainly similar. This was necessary to allow them to interact with mortals and bring them to the worship of the obyrith and the Queen of Chaos. However, this is also what sowed the downfall of both - for the tanar'ri also had the mortal drive for freedom, and mortal understandings. They did not want to serve the obyrith, or the Queen, and instead, wanted to rule the Abyss themselves.

While attempts were made to unite the species by the Queen of Chaos, the tanar'ri rebellion was unavoidable. The obyrith, too confident and too insane in their thinking to realise what was going on, fell rapidly to a tanar'ri onslaught, headed by some confident and powerful leaders. Once the dominant Abyssal species, the obyrith quickly became a relic, reduced to a fraction of their former number and population, and forced to hide in the remote corners of the Abyss. However, despite this, the highest leadership of the Abyss remains firmly in the hands of the obyrith and other non-tanar'ri creatures, which perhaps shows that their rebellion was not as successful as they had hoped.

The Queen of Chaos opposed this war and destruction of her first children, but due to the actions of a few truly ingenious tanar'ri and their strange allies, she too was destroyed. However, Voidborn don't simply die - they simply transform, becoming something entirely different. In becoming Pale Night, the Queen of Chaos became a truly different creature, unlike anything which had come before. She remains a lord (or lady) of the Abyss to this day, and it was through her mysterious agency that several of the current Abyssal lords and ladies came to their great power.

To the great surprise of both Pale Night and the obyrith, the tanar'ri were not as well-suited to their role as they would have liked. While they were not as insane as the obyrith, they were still so overwhelmed by their emotions, and so prone to infighting, that they couldn't direct or gain the worship of mortals, preferring instead to rape or eat them. While this created great fear in the human populations of the Abyss, it did not bring any beings closer to godhood - and perversely, simply gave mortals more opportunity to ascend to godhood themselves, as their champions could now fight against the tanar'ri far more effectively than they could against the obyrith.

The Birth of the Material Plane[edit]

Pale Night and the obyrith however, had no time to lament this, for the war against the First Ones had taken a strange new turn. Seeing the futility of the conflict, the First Ones wove their great magics, and simply removed themselves, along with all Voidborn, from the multiverse. However, in the process, they also did the unthinkable - they tore a piece of the Abyss free, invested it with their remaining powers, cleansing it of its more horrific features, and transported all the humanoids that inhabited the Abyss into it. They set the angels, their children, to watch after it, in a time that became known as the Time of Mercy.

During this time, mortals were finally given respite from the horrors of being ruled by the tanar'ri, obyrith and a former Voidborn. The angels, powerful as they were, had a new mission - the preservation, strengthening and protection of all humanoids, and they took to this mission with great zeal. As the Children of the First Ones, they saw themselves as the remaining force for the will of the creators of the multiverse, and pursued it to the best of their abilities. They taught mortals the arts of magic, and tried to instill in them a respect for the cosmic laws, which were all that remained of their First One parents. By all accounts that remain, the Time of Mercy was perhaps the greatest and most serene time for all mortals, and many of the great discoveries and creations date back to this time.

However, the denizens of the Abyss call this time by a very different name - the Separation. To them, this was an insult against them, the taking of something that was rightfully theirs, and a slap in their face by the angels - a final insult by the First Ones. Pale Night screamed for years at the pain of losing so much of her home, and all - obyrith and tanar'ri - heard and felt her pain. They understood then, as they do now, that they must reclaim the Material Plane - by any means necessary. Even the ancient conflict between the obyrith and tanar'ri vanished in comparison to the pain of Pale Night - a pain that continues to this day. Their hatred for the angels became even greater than their hatred for each other.

However, beyond the simple agreement that the Material Plane had to be returned to the Abyss, the tanar'ri and obyrith lords could not agree. Even Pale Night, their former mother, who felt the loss of the Abyss more than any other, could not manage to convince them to act together. The alien nature of the obyrith and the emotionality of the tanar'ri made any kind of agreement almost impossible, and started hundreds of feuds which burn to this day, causing as many demons to fall to infighting as do to conflicts with their enemies. Each lord and lady of the Abyss, along with their servants, proceeded to try and return the Material Plane to the Abyss - any way they knew how. To each of them, the Separation can be ended - and none know which, if any of them, are right.

The Eternal War[edit]

And thus, it remains to this day. Driven by their passions and their overwhelming goals, demons continue to be a huge danger to all mortals. This was made worse by the decision of the angels to end the Time of Mercy, declaring the Edict of Observation. This took away the greatest protectors of mortals, leaving them at the mercy of the evils of the universe. Only their greatest heroes can stand before the ravening hordes of the Abyss - and only the greatest of them can possibly hope to triumph. However, the Abyss always has more horrors in store for all those who would dare challenge them. They would see the Separation ended, and the Material Plane dragged back into the Abyss, screaming, to end the pain of Pale Night.

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