The Abyss is aimed squarely at Adepts. I'm sure Experts will be tempted to come here and try their luck and, with an experienced group they should be okay. On the other hand, I mapped this zone with resist blunt and slash items, blade barrier and sanctuary and still died when I grew careless. The Abyss, first layer of Hell is not for the faint hearted.
You enter the Abyss from The Astral Plane through the pool of Swirling Crimson Mists. You'll find yourself at Into the Depths (Id) to the south-west of the map below. Along the river Styx to the west lies only an Outcropping (Ou) with two, fireshielded Bile demons waiting for you. The rest of the zone is along the river to the east.
The zone is loosely split into three parts: The castle, the fortress and through the canyon to the floating orb and above. As you travel east along the river Styx you come to a fork in the river where you can go north or south. The Castle is to the north. The gate to the castle north of Before A Battered and Broken Gate (Bf) can be knocked to unlock it and you find yourself in the courtyard before the castle. As with the rest of the zone you can come across pretty tough mobs at any turn so if you can spy or use wizard eye I would do so. One room you can't look into is the Shed (Sh). Inside a demonic wraith awaits, keep it bashed and it'll be no trouble.
The strange gate (strange) to the north of the Entry to the Decayed Palace can be knocked to open the way into the castle proper. To the north you head up into Dripping Halls and a Demi Lich awaits you at the end of the corridor. To the east from the Pit of Despair (Pd) is the Western Tower. Kalas waits at the top, and the rooms around there have some interesting mobs including a necromantic mummy in the Chamber of Darkness (Ca) your weapons will get caught up in his bandages and you'll be disarmed! There is also an undead Beholder (HUGE) with a Treasure key. The trapdoor up from the Penultimate Level (Pl) can be knocked to open the way up to The Loft where Kalas awaits. Kalas himself is a fairly tough mob and if you miss a bash he'll hurt you. He also has a weapon with weapon-spell burning hands that's do you more damage each turn, I'd recommend globes of invulnerability.
If you go south on the river Styx instead of heading to the Castle you can be transferred from an empty room to a room with three Hygrodemons in it. All three are sanc'd but I managed to kill all three and only took around 50hp damage. Once you reach the Waters of the River (Wr) you are offered the choice of north or east. The fortress and the floating orb are to the east. The north leads to Charon.
If you know your mythology, you know that Charon is the skeletal boatman who rows the boat that crosses the river Styx to the underworld. In Shadowdale he resides here in the Abyss. You give him 2000 gold and he'll take you to a room called "Charon asks for a choice". If you choise the eastern path Charon will take you to Tiamat's Hell (and you can be attacked straight away so be ready before you pay Charon). To the west lies Hades/Shadowkeep.
If you chose to go east back at the Waters of the River (Wr) you can follow the river for a few more rooms before a final choice is presented: east to the Fortress or north towards the Floating Orb. The fortress is smaller so I'll deal with that first.
The Gates of the Fortress (Gf) can be knocked and you'll soon find two shops. The shopkeepers at Avid's Weapons (Aw) and The Shop of Tor'Umtir (To) don't have very much of interest: overpriced darts, bread and water. You can cast knock to unlock the door to the Pens of the Achaierai but it only opens the way to a pen with five Acherai in there. Heading east then south takes you to the Outer Temple (Ot) a giant spider there carries The Key to the Curtain of Energy. It unlocks the door to the south. In the Altar of Lloth (Al) is a black pool "to another layer of the abyss". If you step into it you're taken to a Dark Hole. There are no exits and the only way I could get out was to cast astral. To the north Maxwell resides in his room (Mr) he wasn't too tough.
The last part of the zone consists of a route through a canyon to Impressive. Most Impressive (Im) where you stand and gaze in awe at a floating orb. The way up is simple but the way up from the Lower Entrance (Le) is locked. Knock unlocks the 'metal' and opens the way up to the Stairwell (Sw). Once again I shouldn't have to warn you that most mobs will give the single player 150k and cast spells if you don't bash them. There aren't that many HUGE mobs up here.
The locked door to the east of the Dull Red Corridor (Dr) can be unlocked with knock and opened with 'open stone', as can the locked door to the north of the Passage with a Door (Ps). If you pull the lever in the Engine Room (Er) the floor drops out from beneath you and opens a way down in to the Lower Entrance (Le). The Den (Dn) has two Glabrezu and a Succubus. I took out all three in one go but I made sure I had minor and major globes of protection, sanc and blade barrier and still lost over 200hp doing it. Thankfully the globes deflected lightning bolts that would have finished me off... Up from The Bowls (Tb) takes you to Above the Hempisphere.
All of the doors (bar one) can be knocked from here on in. You need to kill mobs until you find the Wand of Absorbsion as you need it to unlock the 'aura' south of the Upper Branches if you wish to tackle the master of the zone, Pazuzu. The Heart (He) is a magic dead zone where Jerome awaits, I had no problem killing him. I did avoid the undead Dracolich in The Nest (Ne). I also avoided In the Alcove in the Branches (Ac) because there are 18, that's right EIGHTEEN, Demonic Spiders awaiting you. I'm not sure how hard they each are but I wasn't willing to find out on my own.
Once you make the Upper Branches (Ub) and unlock the aura 'push aura' opens the way south to the Enclave and from there you can go up to Pazuzu in The Perch (Pc). Tysha and Lorthos joined me at this point and gave me a hand killing him. We took him down fairly easily without dispelling him but if you miss a bash I'm told he's fairly nasty ;-)
Tw-------Dh \ | Sa De+Hd-Hw-Hd-Rc \ Os Ca Lo + \ | + Cm Ba Dv Sd-Pl-Bu | / /| Pd-Ch-Cb-Bd Tt Bo Dn | | / + Co Ew-Tt An-Ps-Tp + \ | ^ | Cd-Ed-Cd Pi Sr-Tb Dr+Er | | \ | Sh-Wf-Fo-Cd Pi Cd-Cd-Du | \ / | Bc Sp Sw Ff + \ + Bf-So-Et Palace of Orcus Le | / | Ra | / | Cn Fl | | | | Vs-St-Tu Im-Ex-Bw | | | | Na-Dl Wc-Cf | | | | | | Ec-Cy Df | | | | Ss Ro | | | | Ri-Cs Ta-Aa-Aa | | | | | Wr-Ab-Bl Gf Mr | | + / Ar-St-Rs Sx Vd Bt | | | | | Ou Bs-Bs-Bs-Cr St-Rs-Rs-Br Aw-Bb-To Pe | | | | Bk-Se-Ds Pa+Bi-Sl----Af | | Id Be | Ot + AlAbove the Hemisphere
Ub Pc /+ / Ac / El | / En-Tk-Lb / | Tk Pr Ne / + Oc Tr-Bg Bv-Cv-Jt + | | /| Td-Bn Cw Ow | + | | / | Wp Ce He-Li + Rg Bh-Ea | | | Do-On-Eh \ Down to the Hemisphere
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