Since before mortals drew breath, the cunning baatezu and the fiery tanar'ri have struggled furiously to batter each other out of existence. The prize in their devastating war of annihilation: the Lower Planes. 'Course, when two unstoppable armies of evil collide, the tremors might leave the entire multiverse a smoking ruin. And woe be to any berk who stands against them - or simply gets in their way.
Created for both players and Dungeon Masters, Hellbound: The Blood War is a comprehensive resource on the infernal clash that has torn the planes apart for millennia. Though the war has spilled into many other PLANESCAPET products, the full story of the roaring conflict has never been detailed - until now.
- The Dark War, an 80-page guide for the Dungeon Master that reveals the secrets of the struggle - its history, strategies, magic, and battlefields.
- The Chant of the War, a 32-page book for DMs and players, detailing the facts that player characters would know about the conflict.
- War Games, a 96-page book of three complete Blood War adventures, including an epic scenario in which PCs can weaken the fiends permanently and forever change the course of the war - not to mention create a brand-new monster in the process.
- Visions of War, a 24-page, full-color booklet of illustrations and maps (scenes and sites in the adventures) to bring the war's horrors alive for players.
- The Bargain, a 16-page, full-color comic book of wartime love and betrayal, painted by DiTerlizzi and Robh Ruppel.
Hellbound: The Blood War (1996), by Colin McComb and Monte Cook, is a Deluxe Adventure and Accessory for Planescape. It was published in July 1996.
Continuing the Planescape Series. Though the Planescape line was focused on novels in 1996, it put about as much attention toward adventures. There were two normal 64-page adventures, and then Hellbound, which is described as a "deluxe adventure". That meant a massive boxed set, similar to the Planes of … (1994-1995) boxes that had been released in previous years. It was also the final boxed set for the Planescape.
In all, Hellbound contains five books: a 96-page adventure book, an 80-page setting book, a 32-page player's book, a 24-page art book, and a 16-page comic. The division of the box into adventures, player's info, and GM's info was pretty typical for the Planescape line, but the inclusion of the two illustrated books was something new …
Gaming Accessories. TSR had included handouts and other player accessories in their books as far back as the release of S1: "The Tomb of Horrors" (1978). That's essentially what the "Visions of War" book was: it contained 14 illustrations to highlight the adventures. Similarly, TSR had been regularly publishing fiction with its Dark Sun (1991-1996), so the "Bargain" comic continued that trend. However, both of the books in the Hellbound box were laid out with the very distinct artistic sensibilities that defined the Planescape line, so they were something new and innovative as well.
Enter the Blood War. The idea of a Blood War between demons and devils had originated with MC8: "Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix" (1991), then had been expanded upon in the Planescape Campaign Setting (1994) box. It'd also been a minor element in several adventures and a background detail in the three Planes of … boxes. However, prior to the release of Hellbound, it had primarily been a part of the setting, not a metaplot.
There had been two exceptions. "In the Abyss" (1994) had revealed chaos ships that were under construction for use in the Blood War, then "Something Wild" (1996) had promised that "a particularly nasty stage of the Blood War" lay ahead. Now, TSR was ready to take these scattered plot threads and turn them into a story that could change the Planescape setting. The heart of that is "Squaring the Circle", one of the three adventures in Hellbound; it reveals some of the secrets underlying the Blood War and also causes a catastrophic change for fiendom: devils and demons alike lose their ability to easily travel between the planes!
Adventure Tropes. Though the "Strange Bedfellows" adventure is investigative, the other two are both MacGuffin quests. In fact, "Squaring the Circle" is a sequence of three different MacGuffin quests, though it also includes dungeon crawls through a Fortress, caverns, and a warship. Beyond these elements, Hellbound is a typical 2e-era adventure, which means that it's heavily plotted and tends to focus on events and encounters.
Expanding Planescape. Unsurprisingly, Hellbound puts most of its focus on the planes most involved in the Blood Wars: the Abyss, Baator, and the Gray Waste. The Fortress of Indifference is detailed in the Abyss, while the abandoned city of Malatanni and the catacombs beneath it get attention in Baator. Finally, a battlefield called the Field of Nettles in the Gray Waste is extensively detailed in an adventure of the same name. Carceri and Gehenna also get some attention. Overall, Hellbound is a great supplement if you want more detail on any of the lower planes.
There's also a bit of focus on the Outlands, particularly the gate-towns of Hopeless and Torch.
Monsters of Note. Though Baatezu (devils) and Tanar'ri (demons) both get considerable attention in Hellbound, it's the Yugoloths (daemons) who shine. We get their deep history and how they relate to the other fiendish races, in what's probably their most notable spotlight ever.
Numerous other races get a bit less attention: celestials (including aasimon, archons, asuras, and the brand-new guardinals), gehreleths, modrons, and slaadi.
NPCs of Note. Planes of Chaos (1994) rather surprisingly noted that Orcus' realm in the Abyss, Thanatos, was now under the rulership of a drow deity named Kiaransalee — who'd recently been introduced in Mosnter Mythology (1992). This strange change is finally explained in Hellbound, but the explanation is just as surprising: Orcus was deposed, perhaps slain, by Kiaransalee!
This was actually the lead-in to Planescape's other major metaplot, focused on the death and resurrection of Orcus. It would run through The Great Modron March (1997) and Dead Gods (1997).
Future History. Daemons, demons, devils, and their war would get more focus in Faces of Evil: The Fiends (1997).
About the Creators. Cook and McComb were becoming Planescape's two star authors. Between them, they'd write the rest of the line's greatest hits, including Faces of Evil: The Fiends (1997), The Great Modron March (1997), Dead Gods (1997), Faction War (1998), and The Inner Planes (1998)
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.