Lords of Ruin

The Lower Planes – comprised of the Abyss, the realm of demons; Hell, home to the devils; and Abaddon, the wasteland that hosts the daemons – contain a terrifying palette of all things evil, from the depraved, bestial, carnal Demon Princes of the Abyss to the ruthless, calculating, diabolical Archdevils of Hell, none of whom would willingly call a group of mortals their allies.

Politics and global destruction make for strange bedfellows, however, and as Demogorgon came close to realizing his ambitions and the Gang of Five prepared to wage war on the powerful Demon Prince on his home territory, they found themselves meeting and allying with a strange cast of the damned that included Demon Princes, millenia-old arcanists who collect archdemons like charms, and even immortal entities that are more force of nature than living thing.

Charon, the Boatman:
As the Horseman of Death, Charon’s name is generally only spoken in whispers for fear that he may come when called. As the Boatman, Charon ushers souls down the Rivery Styx to their eternal punishment or reward, and through his boat, all must one day cross.

Appearing as a tall, gaunt man wearing a wide-brimmed hat and overcoat, Charon wields a boater’s pole. Generally, his face is not visible from under the brim of his hat; all that can be seen is a black shape with two burning-hot cinders where eyes should be.

When Demogorgon’s final contingency to keep Shami-Amourae silent rerouted and harmed the River Styx itself, Charon came to address the matter in person. What he found was quite the opposite of what he expected, however, and after demanding (and receiving) an apology for the Gang of Five’s part in the damage to his river, he invited the group aboard to discuss the task before them. Demogorgon’s grasp, he asserted, extended his reach, and the insult he had dealt Charon and the due process of the Lower Planes would not go unaddressed.

Counseling his mortal companions to seek out Iggwilv, the Witch Queen, Charon placed his blessing upon the Sea Wyvern, allowing the Gang of Five and their crew safe passage up and down the Styx so long as they oppose the Prince of Demons. Offering the might of his forces on the assault on Gaping Maw, Charon’s protection on the Styx and his military might at Gaping Maw were integral to victory over Demogorgon. Undesirous of any stake in the aftermath of the Prince of Demons, Charon and his forces vanished with the death scream of the Prince of Demons. His role in any future dealings with the members of the Gang of Five remain unknown and as inscrutable as ever.

Iggwilv, the Witch Queen:
Centuries-old Iggwilv should require no introduction. Chronicler of the Abyss, lover of Grazz’t, mother of Iuz, former adventuring companion of Murlynd, member of the Company of Seven, progenitor of dozens of spells, and easily the most powerful living arcanist in the Lower Planes, Iggwilv keeps stygian linnorms for guard dogs and plays loose with the hearts of demon lords. On the insistence of both Shami-Amourae and Charon, the party sought out Iggwilv’s counsel in executing their daring plan to raise an abyssal army to oppose Demogorgon that they might confuse and overtake him.

Terrifying though she is, the Gang of Five gamble to seek out so notorious and knowledgeable a figure paid off. While Iggwilv, cloistered in her mansion on an island in the Grey Wastes, seemed only peripherally aware of Demogorgon’s plans, her knowledge of the Abyss and its denizens proved invaluable in coming up with a list of potential allies and a cunning plan to use them. Each name she spoke presented an even more hopeless challenge to a group a mortals in their search for aid: Orcus. Malcanthet. Obox-ob. Even one of Demogorgon’s own generals, a wretched abomination named Bagromar. Mercifully, Charon’s aid was already assured, but the rest?

Most disconcerting of all, Iggwilv’s vast and near-limitless knowledge observed two key facts of the utmost import to her guests: one, that she, like Shami-Amourae, did not see how Hethrediah’s plan to absorb his brother using the Savage Tide would work, and questioned whether it would at all; and two, the identity of the “whore” Olangru accused them of smelling like. It was the fault of the items they carried, she pointed out: Dorian’s dagger, Othar’s rod, Kizziar’s pistol, and Traxen’s breastplate. The identity of the smell, she pointed out coolly, was none other than Malcanthet, Demon Queen of the Succubi, herself.

As the battle on Gaping Maw began, Iggwilv’s intervention was critical to the attacking force. Her ability to open portals throughout the plane permitted the forces of Orcus, Charon, and the Gang of Five to move about the Prince of Demons’ realm to harass and cause him trouble, eventually diverting his attentions to the point that his fractured mind broke, leaving him vulnerable.

Iggwilv helps nobody for nothing, however, and she was more than prepared to exact a fee for her aid: with the release of the aspect of Obox-Ob over the Gaping Maw capital of Lemoriax, the Iron Flask of Tuerney the Merciless was flung from Dorian’s grip, where it was eventually reclaimed by the Witch-Queen. As the Prince of Demons fell to the members of the Gang of Five, Iggwilv interceded, gathering up the lingering motes of Demogorgon’s essence into the flask. “Consider your debt settled”, she told them, smirking. “I warn you that the next time we meet, I doubt it shall be as friends. Farewell, Gang of Five.” And with that, she was gone.

The Witch Queen plays her games in turns that last for decades, and any conclusion about her motives or plans for the future would be pure speculation. The fact remains, however, that she now possesses both the soul of a former Demon Prince and the one vessel in all the planes in which his rage and fury might be contained.

Orcus, Demon Prince of the Undead:
The mere mention of Orcus’ name is enough to give most people pause. Perched atop a throne of skulls in the palace of Everlost, straddling a yawning chasm in the bone meal desert of Thanatos, his home plane, Orcus has a millenia-old reputation for being violent, brutal, and ruthless. For a mortal to seek him out is nothing short of a very fast manner of suicide.

By virtue of the letter of introduction supplied to them by Iggwilv, however, and with the aid of a Dustman guide, the Gang of Five gained their audience with Orcus. It was Traxen who impressed the Demon Prince of the Undead by being able to resist the extreme negative energy conduit that is his throne to hand-deliver Iggwilv’s note; and when Orcus demanded a champion from the party’s ranks to fight his own champion to the death as proof of their power to fight his old foe, Demogorgon, head on, it was Traxen who stepped forward, dispatching Orcus’ prized dreadnought.

Surprised by the unprecedented strength of these tiny, young, mortal things, and with the backing of Charon and Iggwilv already secured, Orcus agreed to commit his legions to the assault, letting his new allies know that when they marched upon Gaping Maw, Orcus would be there to win the battle for them, and that he, Orcus, would face Demogorgon himself.

During the war council, Orcus’ help proved to be invaluable, as he committed four full legions of his troops to serve as the bulk of the invading forces. Making plain his intentions to sack Abysm and fight Demogorgon on his home territory as his legions marched on Lemoriax, Orcus fought a good fight against the Prince of Demons, but ultimately was unable to overcome Demogorgon within the walls of his own palace. Even as the Prince of Demons attempted to bait the Prince of Undeath into using the Last Word, an attack which, if unsuccessful, could kill Orcus, himself, the Prince of Demons’ attentions became diverted as the dominoes set up by his multi-faced enemies began to tumble against him. Orcus retreated to Thanatos and his throne to recover from his injuries even as Demogorgon made haste for Wat Dagon to stop the mortal insects who opposed him.

When at last Demogorgon lay defeated, Orcus made haste to Wat Dagon to lay claim to the crown of the fallen prince. But fearful of the prospect of Orcus’ deification by seizing the twin roles of Prince of Demons and Prince of Undeath, members of the Gang of Five managed to waylay him for a critical moment, long enough for Malcanthet to sweep in and seize the crown for herself.

Furious about his loss, Orcus nonetheless is far more shrewd than his reputation precedes, and realizing that he stood upon the land of a newly-minted and very powerful demon lord, he bowed to Princess Malcanthet and returned to Thanatos.

The members of the Gang of Five, however, who denied him his prize, would do well to never set food in the realm of the Prince of Undeath ever again.

Malcanthet, Demon Queen of the Succubi:
Beast. Defiler. Author of all the triumphs and tragedies that have befallen The Gang of Five from a time before they even knew each other. Malcanthet, Demon Queen of the Succubi, the master of puppets who pulls the strings that make Othar, Dorian, Traxen, and Kizziar – and indeed, Lavinia – dance.

Dance, bitches.

Obox-Ob, Lord of Vermin:
Demon Prince of Vermin, Obox-Ob is an obyrith, one of the powerful entities whose poisonous, bane existence predates that of even demonkind. When the dark was a formless void, and the stars were not yet born, there were the obyrith, and Obox-Ob among their mad number.

Killed millenia ago by the Queen of Chaos, a rival obyrith lord, Obox-Ob’s portfolio and his plane were lost to Demogorgon, who usurped him. While most of Obox-Ob was destroyed, one of his aspects remains to retreat to another layer of the Abyss. But there was another, Iggwilv knew, imprisoned on the 87th layer of the Abyss, a blighted, acidic badland known as the Blood Shallows, where Demogorgon had set up a supply depot and training ground for his armies.

Knowing that releasing the aspect would utterly annihilate the camp and that subsequently capturing and releasing the Lord of Vermin on Demogorgon’s home plane would strike fear into even the Prince of Demons’ heart, the group released Obox-Ob’s aspect, which went on a rampage through Demogorgon’s war camp before ultimately being captured in the Hundred Demons Flask.

Obox-Ob is an immense monster with large, barbed legs protruding from each side of its long, serpentine body, which is covered with a multi-plated layer of chitinous armor that gives it a highly vermin-like appearance. At one end of his body is a tail that splits into three long sections, each tipped with a vicious stinger; on the other, a neck punctuated by three sets of glaring red eyes above a lamprey maw from which slithers a long tongue ended in a corkscrew-shaped point. To gaze upon Obox-Ob is to know madness.

Ultimately, Obox-Ob was deployed to the very gates of Lemoriax during a daring bombing raid carried out by Othar, Dorian, and Kizziar. Releasing the maddened, hungry aspect of the Lord of Vermin at the very gates of Demogorgon’s capital has allowed Obox-Ob to seek his revenge to the maximum benefit of those who desire Demogorgon’s fall.

Having claimed the crown of the Prince of Demons and rule of Gaping Maw, Malcanthet, energized by the quickening of the Prince of Demons’ energy, banished the aspect of Obox-Ob to the wretched and pitiful layer of the Abyss where his other aspect reigns, where he rejoined his other sliver of self.

Somewhere in the fetid and wretched dark, the Prince of Vermin grows stronger as the pieces of his fractured self begin to congeal together. Already, the other obyrith lords welcome their blind, idiot brother back to the fold and prepare for the day they may blot out the stars.

General Bagromar, Aspect of Demogorgon:
As cunning as he is ferocious, General Bagromar is both an aspect of Demogorgon as well as a clone of one of his lord’s halves (which half is unknown, though his methodical nature has lead some to believe it is Aaemeul he is drawn from). A brilliant military commander, General Bagromar leads Demogorgon’s forces in the Blood War alongside his brother, Tetradarian. It was Iggwilv who recommended Bagromar be approached, for despite his successes in the Blood War, his brother is most favored by their lord. Iggwilv believed this jealousy could be capitalized on, if Bagromar’s hatred of his brother could be twisted into action.

After infiltrating Bagromar’s camp in the Blood Shallows, Bagromar, was successfully won over with a display of the group’s shrewdness and their impressive catalog of those they had already signed to the cause. For the promise of the opportunity to settle the score with his brother and claim a higher rank in the Abyss, he has vowed to ensure that Tetradarian’s forces do not interfere with the battle at Gaping Maw.

True to his word, Bagromar lead a timely intervention into the siege of Lemoriax by rallying his forced to assault and overtake the Demos Horde of his brother, Tetradarian, allowing the forces of Orcus to march on Lemoriax. In the pitched battle that followed, Bagromar was the victim, his muzzle stained with the blood of his brother.

With his lord defeated and Malcanthet’s seizure of Gaping Maw for her own, Bagromar bows his knee to the Princess of Demons, and under her reign, will achieve the notoriety and recognition denied to him living in the shadow of his brother and father.

The Old Man:
Avatar of Irori, The Perfect One, God of Gods, and the patron of Tobin Gray, the Old Man is a humble fellow of indeterminate race who appears to be a feeble, ancient man with paper-thin skin and long, whispy, white hair. In truth, the Old Man is a paragon of physical prowess, his tiny stature and unassuming appearance belying the fact that he is among the most puissant, nimble entities to walk the planes.

The Old Man arrived, unannounced, at the war council held between the Gang of Five and their confederates in the alliance to slay Demogorgon. While initially unrecognized, the Old Man’s warmth and quiet power managed to quiet even Orcus. After the majority of the preparations were made, the Old Man committed three of the legions of Axis, the plane of perfection and law, to the ensuing theatre.

Though the Old Man did not intervene on the battlefield personally, he, on behalf of the Enlightened One, sent one of his aspects to lead his forces, in the form of Tobin Gray.

Lords of Ruin

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