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D&D 5E Brainstorming a Setting's Plane of Hell Based Off of the Seven Deadly Sins

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Okay, I recently had an idea for a cool way to work the Seven Deadly Sins into a D&D 5e setting, which was inspired by my thinking of a way to perfect the D&D cosmology to my liking. I've never really been a fan of the Great Wheel, because I always felt that there were too many planes that shared the same idea. (Acheron and Ysgard as Planes of War, Pandemonium and the Abyss, most of the Upper Planes basically being Heaven, etc.) One of my main thoughts for how to create a "Plane of Evil" that I liked was to combine the ideas of the Devils and Demons, and just have a Plane of Fiends, probably called "Hell" or something like that. And then the idea struck to have the plane have layers, like the Nine Hells and Abyss, but have the layers be unified between one certain idea or "sin". Each layer of the plane would be connected to one of the "Seven Deadly Sins", so the plane is probably going to be called "The Seven Hells". I would also keep some of the typical Archfiends as rulers of these different planes, like Mammon as the ruler of whichever level is connected to Greed and Baphomet as the ruler of whichever level is connected to Wrath.

So, that brought me to create this thread. If you were going to do something like this (create a plane where each layer is based around one of the Seven Deadly Sins), how would you do it? How would you arrange the sins, layer wise (like, how would you order of layers corresponding to the sins)? Here's my current idea for who would rule the layers connected to certain sins (not corresponding to the depth of the layer, though):
  1. Pride - Maybe Asmodeus? Or Moloch?
  2. Greed - Easily Mammon.
  3. Wrath - Probably a demon lord, likely Baphomet.
  4. Envy - This one is probably going to be a Green Hag (but a really powerful one). "Green with envy" is too obvious to not do.
  5. Lust - Definitely a Succubus/Incubus of some kind. Maybe Glasya, even though she's never been explicitly stated to be a succubus.
  6. Gluttony - This would probably be Yeenoghu.
  7. Sloth - Maybe Baalzebul? He does look like a Slug, which are known to be slow, which is connected to laziness. Levistus could also work, as he is stuck in a block of ice all the time.
Next, the names. Would you just name them after the corresponding sin, or would you do something more "fantastical"?

For the geography, I'd probably do something similar to how Avernus is mapped in Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus, but make them a bit bigger. I'd probably also include all of the 5 Ancient Greek Rivers of the Underworld; Styx, Lethe, Acheron, Phlegethon, and Cocytus, probably making some ungodly death-spiral on the lowest level of the 7 Hells. (Hmm. Maybe they could be named "The Seven Hells of Tartarus", as all of these do have Greco-Roman roots. I could also do a "Seven Heavens of Elysium" that are connected to the Seven Graces.)

So, any thoughts? I know that the Nine Hells came from the Nine Circle of Hell from Dante's Inferno, which were based off of the Seven Deadly Sins, but that was lost in translation to D&D's Nine Hells of Baator. Any suggestions on any of this?
 
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AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Green Ronin's Book of Fiends bases Gehenna, its take on a Neutral Evil plane, on the Seven Deadlies.
Okay. I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be a completely unique/unheard-of idea, but it's good to have confirmation. Care to summarize how they did it, for ideas?
 
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DeviousQuail

Adventurer
Kind of a whacky idea but what if there are seven layers of hell but none of them correspond to a sin. Instead, the sins revolve through the layers over time. So layer 1 could be pride today, gluttony tomorrow, and wrath next Tuesday while layer 2 is gluttony now and wrath on Monday.

Each layer would have it's own ruler and style that fluctuate in small ways based on what the sin of the moment is. An example could be a medusa that rules over a layer of statues. Each day (or whatever sin cycle you choose) everyone that was turned to stone is revived and tries fleeing from the Medusa again because being turned to stone is awful. But on Envy day that fear of the medusa contends with a heightened sense of envy by the inhabitants. They want to run away but are also filled with extra envy of the beauty of the statues around them. If they give in to their envy they'll stop running to do awful things like smear feces on the statues or whatever. On Wrath day they may try to destroy the statues (who are revived back to normal eventually). On Gluttony day they may be driven to eat the statues. Just really awful stuff while also trying not to get turned to stone.

It's a bit more work because each layer needs 7 variations but the variations don't need to be huge. It also makes traversing hell interesting because it's not just what the layer is like, but what it's like during each sin cycle (revolu-sin?).
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I would probably just model it after Dante’s Inferno in that case. Granted, Inferno has nine circles, plus the shores outside the gates, but that’s because 9+1 was a pattern he was weaving throughout the Divine Comedy. Inferno was still fundamentally one circle per sin, with an extra couple layers added in to make it fit the pattern.

The thing is though, Baa’tor is already based on Inferno.
 

If you want to do something different you could invert the seven deadly sins as the dark side of the seven virtues, Judgemental Self Loalth instead of Pride, Puritanism instead of Lust, Totalarianism Communism instead of Greed, Self Obsession instead of envy, Meekness instead of Wrath, Anorexia instead of Gluttony.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
So, any thoughts? I know that the Nine Hells came from the Nine Circle of Hell from Dante's Inferno, which were based off of the Seven Deadly Sins, but that was lost in translation to D&D's Nine Hells of Baator. Any suggestions on any of this?

Love your idea.

Cautionary note- I love Dante's Inferno - weirdly, I was introduced to it a long time ago by Niven & Pournelle, who wrote a sci-fi book based off of the classic.

....but as I'm sure you know, there are some aspects of it that would need careful consideration and change before mapping it to a D&D game given that it was based on a very different mindset. The First Circle (non-believers) and the second Ring of the Seventh Circle (suicide, attempted suicide) immediately spring to mind as ... problematic.

Even trying to map out what is considered lustful might be odd. Just saying- maybe take more of the gist and the atmosphere than the facts.
 

Davies

Hero
Okay. I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be a completely unique/unheard-of idea, but it's good to have confirmation. Care to summarize how they did it, for ideas?
Excerpted:

Gehenna is a great flat plane in the form of a giant circle.
The outer part of this circle is called the war zone, for
the simple reason that all around this outer circle the war
between Hell and the Abyss rages. The war zone forms an
enclosure around six smaller circles that, in turn, encircle
one central circle. They are the Circle of Wrath, Circle of
Envy, Circle of Lust, Circle of Sloth, Circle of Gluttony,
Circle of Greed, and the Circle of Pride.
Each of the internal circles is ruled by one of the
exarchs of Gehenna. These powerful daemons (mostly)
are the lords of the Seven-Circle Realm, though they have
neither supreme authority nor any firm laws. Indeed, each
seeks only to further their own aims and strengthen the
power of their circle.
 


Helpful NPC Thom

Adventurer
Love your idea.

Cautionary note- I love Dante's Inferno - weirdly, I was introduced to it a long time ago by Niven & Pournelle, who wrote a sci-fi book based off of the classic.

....but as I'm sure you know, there are some aspects of it that would need careful consideration and change before mapping it to a D&D game given that it was based on a very different mindset. The First Circle (non-believers) and the second Ring of the Seventh Circle (suicide, attempted suicide) immediately spring to mind as ... problematic.

Even trying to map out what is considered lustful might be odd. Just saying- maybe take more of the gist and the atmosphere than the facts.
Catholicism is not problematic.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Catholicism is not problematic.

That's not what I said. What I said is that a straight mapping of Dante's Inferno would be seen as problematic to many people today; for an easy example, I don't think I could run a game where I was telling the people at my table that anyone who committed suicide or attempted to commit suicide had been consigned to one of the worst circles of hell.*

That's just not the type of game I run. YMMV.


*And the extent to which Dante is reflective of actual religion, or has some literary license, varies and is not appropriate for this forum.
 

jgsugden

Legend
You're following my playbook in your initial post. The good news for you: I've made it work for about 35 years.

In my campaign lore, the Hell Plane is a singular plane. It has the 9 Hells at the core (Nessus at the center, surrounded by the 7 'middle' regions, surrounded by Avernus around all of those 7, and then with countless Demonic controlled regions surrounding Avernus - with the Blood War raging in Avernus.) (The Heavens are similarly pulled into one plane, and the Elemental Planes are also unified into one plane).

Those 7 Middle Infernal Regions are controlled by Archdevils that I tied to the 7 deadly sins, putting a spin on the lore of each to achieve my goals. It is not explicit, but players have noted it over the years. My Archfiends have experienced some turnover with new players (homebrew figures) taking control of some of the regions.

I also tied the 7 deadly sins to the Rod of Seven Parts (aka the Rod of Law). Each part of the Rod is tied to a deadly sin, as well as the opposite of the sin (Chastity and Lust, Patience and Wrath, Charity and Greed, etc...). The Rod pieces are actually devoted to the battle between these extremes, not the extremes themselves. It is also tied to a damage type. It plays a huge role in the rise of Asmodeus, and is a central lore artifact in my setting.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Love your idea.

Cautionary note- I love Dante's Inferno - weirdly, I was introduced to it a long time ago by Niven & Pournelle, who wrote a sci-fi book based off of the classic.

....but as I'm sure you know, there are some aspects of it that would need careful consideration and change before mapping it to a D&D game given that it was based on a very different mindset. The First Circle (non-believers) and the second Ring of the Seventh Circle (suicide, attempted suicide) immediately spring to mind as ... problematic.

Even trying to map out what is considered lustful might be odd. Just saying- maybe take more of the gist and the atmosphere than the facts.
I've never actually read Dante's Inferno, I'm just sorta-familiar with the concept, as most people are with classics that well-known.

I would definitely not include a Layer for Atheism or Suicide. I was not aware that those were in Dante's Inferno. I was more going to base it off of the more well-known 7 Deadly Sins (translated into D&D terms), not anything from Dante's Inferno, really. I was just pointing out that the 9 Hells come from the 9 Circles of Hell in Dante's Inferno, not saying that I was going to base the 7 Hells after any part of Dante's Inferno, really.

So, yeah, having Atheism and Suicide be "deadly sins" is definitely problematic (to say the least), and I would not include that in this plane of hell.

I was going to be careful with Lust. I was more going to do it as overindulgence in the carnal pleasures than the stereotypical "extramarital sex is a sin". Kind of like Gluttony being overindulgence in food (which also has the potential to be problematic if it comes to fat-shaming, which I will absolutely avoid), to the point where that's all that you think about (think Yeenoghu and the Gnolls' never-ending hunger), but applied to sex, drugs, and music. Do you think that would be less problematic?
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Excerpted:
Thanks!

Isn't that a bit similar to how Dante's Inferno does it (the Circles instead of Layers)? I'm definitely going to do something different than that, as I'm not a fan of Daemons/Yugoloths, would definitely have the Archfiend-rulers of the layers be the Supreme Authority, and have it be more Cylinder/Cone-shaped instead of a flat-circle.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I was going to be careful with Lust. I was more going to do it as overindulgence in the carnal pleasures than the stereotypical "extramarital sex is a sin". Kind of like Gluttony being overindulgence in food (which also has the potential to be problematic if it comes to fat-shaming, which I will absolutely avoid), to the point where that's all that you think about (think Yeenoghu and the Gnolls' never-ending hunger), but applied to sex, drugs, and music. Do you think that would be less problematic?

Definitely.

If you abstract it a little, then gluttony is taking more than you need (not necessarily food), and lust is desire and coveting- not just carnally, but you can (improperly) lust over your neighbors ox.

Um, I guess that could be carnal too, but ... ewwwww.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I would probably just model it after Dante’s Inferno in that case. Granted, Inferno has nine circles, plus the shores outside the gates, but that’s because 9+1 was a pattern he was weaving throughout the Divine Comedy. Inferno was still fundamentally one circle per sin, with an extra couple layers added in to make it fit the pattern.

The thing is though, Baa’tor is already based on Inferno.
It is sorta-based on Inferno, but not in any real way besides "There are 9 parts of hell". The layers of Baator aren't based off of different "sins", they're layers shaped like a funnel instead of a flat-disk, and so on. IMO, it's a superficial connection, and the 9 Rings of Hell in Dante's Inferno weren't complete translations of the 7 Deadly Sins, either. I would more like it to be based truly off of the Seven Deadly Sins, have it be layered instead of ringed, and have lots of D&Disms in it.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Definitely.

If you abstract it a little, then gluttony is taking more than you need (not necessarily food), and lust is desire and coveting- not just carnally, but you can (improperly) lust over your neighbors ox.

Um, I guess that could be carnal too, but ... ewwwww.
A lot of the Seven Deadly Sins are about taking (or wanting) more than you need. Pride is about an overinflated ego, Greed is about wanting more money than you need, Wrath is about an overabundance of anger, Envy is quite literally about wanting what other people want instead of what you have, and so on. The only one that doesn't really fit this mold as well is Sloth, but even then that could be taken as an overabundance of free-time or sleep/relaxation.

But, yeah, definitely eww. That's kind of the point, IMO. The levels are personifications of the worst traits of humankind (well, traditionally, anyway), so it's kind-of supposed to be disgusting from the human-viewpoint.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
It is sorta-based on Inferno, but not in any real way besides "There are 9 parts of hell". The layers of Baator aren't based off of different "sins", they're layers shaped like a funnel instead of a flat-disk, and so on. IMO, it's a superficial connection, and the 9 Rings of Hell in Dante's Inferno weren't complete translations of the 7 Deadly Sins, either. I would more like it to be based truly off of the Seven Deadly Sins, have it be layered instead of ringed, and have lots of D&Disms in it.
When you say layered, you mean like a slice of cake, or like a planet?
 

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