Hells

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The primary goal of the Hells is to defeat Asmodeus, Overlord of Baator, Dark Lord of Nessus, and overall bad guy. Zerial explains much of the story when you talk to him, though he is a bit long winded.

A party on the Plains of Avernus
A party on the Plains of Avernus

The Nine Hells of Baator.

  1. Avernus, guarded by Tiamat and her five consorts.
  2. Dis, ruled by the Archduke Dispater from his Iron Tower.
  3. Minauros, where Quimath resides in the heart of the City of Chains.
  4. Phlegethos, overseen by the Lords Belial and Fierna.
  5. Stygia, ruled by the frozen Levistus and overseen by The Nameless Pit Fiend.
  6. Malbolge, where the Ancient Baatorian roams the rocky slopes.
  7. Maladomini, where Baalzebul constructs Malagard over and over.
  8. Cania, the bitter cold realm of Mephistopheles.
  9. Nessus, last and greatest of the levels, ruled by Asmodeus himself.


Contents

Entering the Hells

  • To enter the Hells, you must first get to the The Workshop. If you have Zerial's Token, you can use it anywhere in Town to be instantly transported to the Workshop. You cannot enter the Workshop, and hence cannot enter the Hells, until you are level 55. If you do not have a token, you will want to get one as soon as possible. More details about acquiring Zerial's Token are on that page.
  • To start a Tiamat run, touch the Portal Activator while having a Hellstone in your inventory. It will be consumed and the portal will open. Generally one doesn't want to do this until everyone is present and ready to go. To enter any of the other levels, no items are required other than bravery and a touch of foolhardiness. Simply use the portal from which you entered the Workshop to choose the layer you would like to begin. You can visit the Hells layers in any order; however, you will not get the accomplishment of any Hells layer until you have completed the previous layer. Hence, even if you complete Minauros you must already have the Dis tag or you won't get the tag for defeating Minauros. Your Hell tags are stored on a skull acquired at the end of Tiamat.
  • The entire run is a Fugue area for both Immortal & Demi-God characters.

Penalties

Layer AB AC E:Imm P:Imm Sk Sv DC
1 2 1 3% 5% 2 1 1
2 2 3 6% 10% 4 2 1
3 3 4 9% 15% 6 2 1
4 4 6 12% 20% 8 2 2
5 4 7 15% 25% 10 3 2
6 5 9 18% 30% 12 3 2
7 6 10 21% 35% 14 4 3
8 6 12 24% 40% 16 4 3
9 7 13 27% 45% 18 5 3
10 8 15 30% 50% 20 5 4
11 8 16 33% 55% 22 6 4
12 9 18 36% 60% 24 6 4
13 10 19 39% 65% 26 7 5
Penalties Legend
Green: 5x Demigod Light Green: 4x Demigod
Light Salmon: Immortal or 3x Demigod
Orange: 2x Demigod Red: 1x Demigod
Main Article: Hell Penalties

To further complicate your job of closing the Rift and defeating Asmodeus, each level of the Hells progressively adds penalties. These are listed in the table to the right.

After obtaining demigod status, all your penalties are increased by 4 levels, so Avernus has the same penalties as Stygia otherwise would, and Nessus gives a staggering -19 to AC, -10 to AB, -26 to skills, and -39% to immunities. Defeating Asmodeus further times will ameliorate the additional penalties.

The only way to remove all Hell penalties at once is using Greater Restoration, although this only lasts 4-6 rounds. Standard restoration is only good for removing extra vulnerabilities inflicted by enemies. Characters with more than 21 rogue levels and Skill Mastery will have their skill penalties reduced or even removed. The most common way of restoring dodge AC is Bard Song (up to +4) or Cleric UEF (+12). Mage Armour (+3), Epic Mage Armour (+5) or Druid Aura of Vitality (+10) can be used to recover Dodge AC as well. A more detailed explanation of how AC penalties work can be found on the Hell Penalties page.

The Hells are all Fugue zones, though this works somewhat differently than normal. Whether Immortal or even Demigod, you no longer have true immortality in the Hells. Rather than going to Fugue after respawn, you instead go to Limbo. There is a very high chance one of your items will become a Ghost Item which cannot be used for 24 hours. Limbo is a large maze of inviisible walls with a portal hidden somewhere within. Upon finding and using the portal, you will be transported back to your leader if and only if the leader is on the same Hells map you were on when you went to Limbo. If the leader has moved onto the next map or is himself in Limbo, then you will return to Town instead. Since you can rest freely in Limbo, make sure to do so before using the portal back to Baator.

Spawn Structure

Spawns in the Hells consist of set groups of enemies that spawn in the same place each run. Some enemies can be found on every layer, such as Cornugons. There are also enemies specific to certain layers that require special tactics and party coordination to defeat. Spawn composition changes each layer and hence each layer requires different tactics. An exciting part of the Hells is that there is always a chance that you might encounter Randoms, which are a group of random enemies. They can appear at any time, but occur more often in the deeper layers. Randoms can consist of nearly any Hell monster, and there is a chance you might have particularly troublesome random-only enemies that do not appear outside of random spawns. Check the randoms page for a more detailed guide on dealing with these enemies.

Paragons

Paragons are stronger versions of each creature in the Hells. The amount of paragon enemies spawning is dependent on the number of Demi levels in your party (use '!count demi' to check). With enough Demi levels you might even get Superior or Elite enemies. These are even tougher than normal Paragons and have a special healing element. When superiors and elites appear you must stop to check you do not have their healing element on your weapon (or spell) since it will heal them and give them a vast quantity of temporary hit points, this is why it often pays to carry spare weapons with different damage types. The healing element of Superiors and Elites is shown on the Hells Damage Sheet (it's the smaller --cold-- text) and can be very useful if printed out for quickly finding healing elements during a run.

Recommended Character Stats

The Workshop, where all Hell parties begin
The Workshop, where all Hell parties begin

The Hells are not a place for solo play, as they are much harder than any other LL area. While individual characters can shine in many places, it is definitely an area that rewards cohesive party strategy, tactics, balance, and teamwork.

The Hells are usually done with 8-10 players, although some of the upper layers can be done with fewer in experienced parties. An arcane caster (Wizard or Sorcerer), Bard, Cleric, and Druid are of great benefit to any Hells party and are often considered a necessity for the more difficult layers. As seen by the common run shouts "party requires A, B, C, D".

The Hells Damage page describes what damage types each enemy is most vulnerable to and is essential for Arcane Archers. The Hells Damage Sheet can be printed out for easy reference during a run and also shows the healing element of Superior and Elite enemies. For tanks considering a crafted weapon, Acid, Cold, Sonic, Divine, Positive, Negative are usually considered the best damage types to have on a weapon.

Level

The Hells are a level 55-60 area, although most people will wait until level 60 when their character can equip BUR equipment and has full class benefits. Confident players can enter earlier but should definitely aim to be level 60 before going past Minauros.

Saves

Most saves in the Hells are DC55, with some bosses and minibosses going up to DC60. Saves of 58+ (for all of fort, reflex and will) are sufficient to make most checks, but the hells will lower your saves (-5 for an immortal at Nessus) and several enemies have temporary save lowering abilities. Ideally one will have all three saves in the 61-65 range to act as a buffer for save penalties. The save values recommended also depend on your characters role in the party. A tank will generally want a fortitude save higher than that needed by a wizard since Osyluths lower fort saves on hit.

Attack Bonus

Most Hells enemies have AC in the 75-85 range (or 69-79 after curse song). Hence to hit, each of your attacks needs to be made at above +70/. Most tanks aim to have their first attack between +92/ and +100/ in order to have all of their attacks hitting consistently. For example a Paladin with attacks at +80/+75/+70/+65/+60/+55/ fighting a cursed Advepsa with 70AC will often miss on his last three attacks because they are below the Monsters AC level of 70 AC (there is only a 30% chance the last attack will actually hit). If his AB is much higher at +95/+90/+85/+80/+75/+70 the only way he can miss any hit is by rolling a one (though a 60 Paladin would have an actual single hand 6-attack progression of +95/+90/+85/+80/+95/+90 it's unlikely to have an attack at less than -15 (or -19 for dual weapon) from your highest ab). Remember as well that the Hells Penalties reduce your AB (-9 at Nessus for an Immortal), so it never hurts to have a bit more.

Of course many enemies have concealment which increases the likelihood of tanks missing hits (although unrelated to AB and AC scores). To decrease enemy concealment all tanks should have either the Blindfight feat or a very high Listen score (60 skill ranks in Listen is equivalent to having the Blindfight feat, but increasing Listen to 100-127 reduces enemy concealment a lot more).

Armor Class

Most denizens of the Hells have AB between 115 and 120 (107 - 112 after curse song), but each attack is made with a d20 roll, meaning attacks can reach as high as 140 if a spawn starts attacking before it is cursed. As with your own attacks however these are made at a decreasing progression, so only the first attack of the round is made at full AB.

To be able to avoid the majority of attacks you will need AC of around 120-135, depending on the other defensive mechanisms you have. Characters with Critical Hit Immunity, Concealment (greater than 50%), excellent soak or Epic Dodge can afford to have less AC near the 120 AC end of the scale. Characters without any forms of defense other than their AC should aim to have close to 135.

Hit Points

Getting HP right is not as crucial as AB or AC, but enemies in the Hells can still do some very nasty damage, especially if you lack Crit Immunity. The amount of HP you need is dependent on class, and how you intend to play. Try to aim for between 700-900. Tanks should definitely try to have plenty of HP close to or even above the 900 mark.

Checks

The Hells introduce a lot of unique checks, many of which bypass immunity granted by items. Knowing how to protect yourself against the likes of equipment slagging, knockdown, confusion, amnesia, domination and petrification is an important part of completing the Nine Hells with as few deaths as possible.

There are also many checks that can be prevented with immunity from items. Fear and Poison immunity are very common and are two of the most important ones to cover. Mind Spells, Disease, Freedom, Knockdown and Death Magic are all fairly rare but are still worth covering (most of these are on a lot of items anyhow). Immunity to the Bigby spells isn't necessary but can protect against the occasional Rakshasa Grasping Hand.

There are Ability Checks, in particularly for STR and DEX. A good tank is supposed to stand them.

Expected Time Taken

Some parties can do the runs faster, some slower. These are general guidelines.

Tiamat 1 - 1.5 hours
Dis 0.75 - 1.5 hours
Min 1.5 - 2 hours
Phleg 1.5 - 2.5 hours
Stygia 2 - 2.5 hours
Malbolge 1.5 - 2.5 hours
Maladomini  2 - 4 hours
Cania 2.5 - 4 hours
Nessus 2.5 - 4 hours

Rewards

The Hells is one of the few places where Beyond Ultra-Rare loot may be obtained. There are also many set Hells drops -- items found exclusively on some levels. It is also the home of premier caster gear from Tiamat, melee weapons from Dis, Feat granting tomes from Minauros and AA bows from Phleg (the exotic damage type versions of the Dustbone bows). There are also a set of highly desirable artifacts obtained when Asmodeus is slain. Many Hells items require a tag from a given level to use, so after completing each level more equipment is unlocked.

The first time one defeats Asmodeus, the character achieves demigod status. This is to immortals as immortality is to your pre-immo characters. In certain Legendary Level areas your character no longer fugues but will get up after a time just like immortals do in regular zones. This includes Ssithrak, Illithids, Black Pyramid, and Rona. Your character will also now glow purple instead of red so everyone around you is aware of your prowess.

The other additional benefit of defeating Asmodeus is a +2 bonus to all 6 stats. If the character repeats the task and defeats Asmodeus a second time (often referred to as being double demi, or 2x) they get yet another +2 to all stats. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th times will not give any direct benefit, but will progressively reduce the additional demigod Hells penalties. Note that adding +2 to stats will have the effects of raising hit points by 40, adding +1 to all saves (+2 for Paladins and Blackguards), +1 to ab, +1 to spell DCs for casters, and +1 to AC for dexers (+2 for monks).

For caster clerics it is a nice idea, to only demi twice, since you can cast GR on yourself, it keeps the party at a lower demi count. Making random spawns less volatile.

See Also

Bestiary: Hells
Randoms
Set Hell Loot
Hell Secrets
Hells Mord/Breach Guide

In the workshop, you can obtain Volo's Guide to Baator, Abridged, 3rd Edition from Zerial. This gives a little backstory for each level though contains little of practical game use. Planescape also has quite a bit of relevant backstory on the Hells and its denizens. Many of the monsters found in the Hells on HG can be found here.

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