Episode 195 of the Letters Page: Creative Process: Underworlds

Just your normal supernatural stuff

1 Like

Yeah, demon hero probably! :smiley: Sentinel Comics can have their own Hellboy!

Okay, “Guise and the Naturalist Go to Hell” definitely needs to be voted on for a writer’s room. :3

I like how they didn’t realize they’ve already done the living dimension with Hul.

Oh boy, the Realm of Depression!

Yeah, I definitely also want Nightmist and Fanatic go to crazy heaven and aren’t affected much because one’s made of the place and the other’s already crazy.

So this was great for me. One of my SCRPG players has a character whose main form of attack is turning into an unknowable, angelic being and overwhelming the villain with psychic force. I’ve been thinking she’s clearly a captive from another realm, and unless she comes up with something else, I think Clarity will be that realm. :slight_smile:


I have to say, I LOVE the idea of “dark gods/titans as places” idea of doing realm and dimensions. The idea that the realm is sentient, that the god and the god’s realm is one and the same, is really cool. It’s one of the things that got me into the lore of Exalted, where that’s a big part of the overthrown titans of the setting.


So is it “The Gray” (American), or “The Grey” (British)?

Or how about “The Graey” (Eldritch) since we also have Aeternus?


A little disappointed that they didn’t count the Void among their underworlds, since it’s explicitly an alien place which you don’t want getting into reality.

I wonder if C&A forgot that Grannum and Nahropt are ex-humans according to their own lore. It could still work, they could be spirits from Stereotypical Hell which Apostate brought to this plane in spirit form so they could possess and transform human bodies. Odd that we have a real Hell but not a real Heaven, though I’m kind of okay with it, since I agree that it’s better for Fanatic’s character to leave her faith unconfirmed.

Stereotypical Hell (aka Aeturnus, but I started writing before they named it, so I’ll stick with calling it Hell) seems like it should have started out as an elemental plane of fire, and then absorbed energy of pain from people who were burned by fire, and then absorbed energy of lies from people who were betrayed, and so forth, until now it’s an actual Plane of Torment.

Another RPG that includes this concept is Changeling the Lost, where there’s a book that explains how the True Fae actually work, and the rules allow them to be a person, a place, a thing, or a group. What they actually are is a collection of titles, and each of those titles can be a single entity…so you could have a single true fae who is Bezaliel the winged humanoid, and Stereotypical Hell the place, and Condemnation the sword, and the Imp Pilferers as a group, and the Fiendish Pugilists as a group, and those are the five Titles that comprise the single true Fae who is Apostate.

EDIT: Okay, C&A are super proud to have invented The Gray, which suggests to me that they haven’t read the D&D Manual of Planes recently, because this is pretty much exactly the Neutral Evil plane of Hades, the Gray Waste, a dimension of pure despair where the souls of the damned slowly waste away while being too despondent to save themselves. They’re not exactly the same, but it’s pretty dang close.


Depends on who’s writing it. The place is named after the color, so if Soothsayer Carmichael looks through a portal and sees this place, he probably says “oh I saw the Grey”, but if Nightmist did it (I’m pretty sure she’s American), she’d call it “the Gray”.

The being which is Aeternus might well internally think of it that way, assuming its internal dialogue is in something vaguely resembling Aenglish.

White Wolf/Onyx Path really like the concept. They had it in 1st edition Scion, but they got away from it in 2nd edition Scion, as they moved away from the primacy of Greek and Norse mythos and made it more a viewpoint thing rather than a nature thing.

Anyway… the Gray/Grey goes back a long time in D&D. I think I first encountered it in… I think the Dragonlance or Dark Sun novels, then later the Eberron setting had something like that in before the “Gray Waste” got codified (still annoyed that they keep assigning evil alignments to Hades, but that’s another rant). So A&C had an interesting take on it, at least. Nothing new under the sun and all.

I understand them not counting The Void or Ur-space as “underworlds” necessarily. To continue the D&D cosmology references, in this setting the Inner Planes are where the various gods and spirits and such are located, and the Void is more an Outer Plane, where things get REALLY weird.

WalkingTarget got confirmation it is Grey

1 Like

That’s a weird and IMO-wrong way to characterize it; the Outer Planes are made of human belief, so they’re really not all that weird. The D&D equivalent of a truly weird place is the Far Realm, but a debatably better model takes us back to White Wolf, where Mage the Awakening’s cosmology consists of the five Supernal Worlds, one of which is effectively Hell, where the Goetic demons that are reflections of humanity’s dark impulses come from (and another one is the Faerie realm, and some fae choose to present themselves as if they were demons, because what faeries actually are is living stories and thus they can potentially appear as anything that a story has ever been told about). But there’s also the Abyss, the giant wound in the cosmos that separates the Supernal Worlds from the Fallen reality, and it has its own “demons” which are less Faustian and more Lovecraftian. The Supernal demons are essentially creatures that exist within Reality to play an antagonistic role in humanity’s natural development, being drill sergeants and tempters and other forms of negative reinforcement that spur humans to potentially develop in positive ways by avoiding the demon’s example; the Abyss demons, by contrast, are simply Things That Should Not Be, which only enter the world because the Fall caused reality to break, and now they are attracted to any use of Supernal energy, and will try to erase the mage who calls on abnormal powers, because what the Abyss “wants” is essentially to unmake its own miserable existence by sealing all breaches of reality, including killing all mages (at least that’s my recollection, it’s been a while since I read all this). In any event, the Abyss of MTAw seems like the closest equivalent to the Void, though a bit more actively malevolent.

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing about The Grey. It’s just the D&D version of Hades, also called “The Gray Waste”, which leaches emotion and color out of visitors until they lose the will to leave and become permanent residents.

I feel vindicated, because despite being American, my instinct is always to spell the word with an e. :B

I’m from California. “e” is the color, “a” is the name of the dude that got recalled.

Well, since ol’ Carmichael is the only British Magician that we know of, does that mean that it’s confirmed that he discovered The Grey? (Or is there another Mage from across The Pond that we do not yet know of?)

All it confirms is the spelling. You’ll have to ask follow up questions to get that.

1 Like

I’m sure there’s a British mage in the universe, but his purely coincidental resemblance to a certain blonde cigarette-smoker means that he must be Sir Not Appearing In This Game Franchise, at least until C&A come up with a more creative way to reinterpret the character. Gender-flipping would be an easy first step, but the result would be pretty similar to Nightmist unless you did a lot more than just that.

I always thought that Nightmist was that character’s equivalent.

1 Like

I certainly think she’s close. But we were talking about wanting someone British, and I’m pretty sure Faye isn’t, so I speculate that there might be another one.

Sure, but I don’t think that that character would be based on Shmonstantine.

No, but her combined with Soothsayer C comes close.

1 Like

I did wonder how they came up with SC; it never occurred to me to assume this. But he does have sort of a similar look, and that’s probably why he’s from the British Isles.

I don’t think it’s that direct. IIRC, in the episode where they came up with him, they were basically going for “What’s the opposite of Argent Adept” and built from there. The grumpy Brit magic know-it-all is a popular trope. Not just John C, it’s a pretty common trope. I mean, I think Soothsayer comes closer to Giles from Buffy (minus the “Ripper” aspects). But smoosh him and Nightmist together and you have something close.

Or, looking at it another way, it’s looking at a character, saying “what are the pieces” and then building something different out of that. Jim Butcher (of the Dresden Files) tells a story of getting into an argument over whether it’s the idea or the skill of the author that makes a story. Butcher was arguing that a good author can take a horrible idea and make it good, and a dare ensued where he was given two bad ideas. The first? Lost Roman Legions (the person giving the dare hated the idea). The second? Pokemon. Butcher took both, and started researching, looking at stuff like the mix of Germanic auxiliaries in many of the “lost” legions, and Pokemon’s roots in animism and nature spirits. The result? The Codex Alera, a best selling series.