Gray Waste

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In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, the Gray Waste (more fully, the Gray Wastes of Hades; also, Hades, The Three Glooms, Hope's Loss or The Nadir) is a strongly evil aligned plane of existence. It is one of a number of alignment-based Outer Planes that form part of the standard Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) cosmology, used in the Planescape, Greyhawk, and some editions of the Forgotten Realms campaign settings.

Publication history[edit]

The plane known as Hades was mentioned for the first time by name in the article "Planes: The Concepts of Spatial, Temporal and Physical Relationships in D&D", in The Dragon #8, released July 1977. In the article Gary Gygax describes the plane as Hades' three glooms, one of the "Typical lower planes".[1] The plane was mentioned again in an appendix of the known planes of existence in the original (1st edition) AD&D Players Handbook, published in June 1978, where it was described as "Hades' "Three Glooms" of absolute (neutral) evil".[2]


The Gray Waste is the plane of strongly focused evil within the D&D cosmology; its main theme is that of hopelessness and despair. In the Gray Waste, colors fade to muted shades of gray (except for the occasional portal, which are colored bronze, silver, or gold, depending on where they lead) and the land itself works to remain as soulless as possible. Extended visits to the plane cause travelers to lose interest in leaving; soon after, the entrapping effect of the plane takes over, causing increased apathy and despair. Eventually their sanity and memories fade away, and they become permanent petitioners of the plane.

According to Trenton Webb's critical review of Planes of Conflict for British RPG magazine Arcane, the Gray Waste "erodes the sense of purpose that is the hallmark of an alignment-based philosophy. One symptom of this is the place's ability to fade the colour from a character's clothes!"[3]


The plane is used primarily by the Tanar'ri and the Baatezu as the battlefield for the Blood War. Native creatures include Yugoloths, Diakka, Hordlings, Larvae, and Night hags. Several Deities live here, Hades of the Greek Pantheon, Cegilune the Mother of Night Hags, and others.


The Gray Waste is a spatially infinite plane, consisting of three layers or sub-planes, sometimes referred to as the Three Glooms. The River Styx flows through the first layer, Oinos, connecting it with the other evil-aligned Lower Planes. The Gray Waste shares its borders with the neighbouring planes of the Tarterian Depths of Carceri and the Bleak Eternity of Gehenna; travel is possible between the Gray Waste and these planes at certain locations.

Khin-Oin, the Wasting Tower, a fortress built and maintained by the yugoloths, can be found on the first layer of the Gray Waste.


The Gray Waste has three layers, sometimes referred to as the Three Glooms:


Oinos is the location of a number of godly realms, including Incabulos' realm of Charnelhouse, Kelemvor's realm of the Crystal Spire (formerly Myrkul's Bone Castle), the orc deity Yurtrus' realm of Fleshslough, the dwarf deity Abbathor's realm of The Glitterhell, and the urd deity Kuraulyek's realm of Urdrest. It also holds the majority of Blood War battlefields and Khin-Oin, home to most leaders of the mercenary yugoloths.


Niflheim is the location of a number of godly realms, including Hel's realm of Niflheim, after which the layer is named, Shar's realm of The Palace of Loss, Panzuriel's realm of Rezuriel, Mask's realm of Shadow Keep, Arawn's realm of Annwn, the Isles of the Cursed, and Ratri's realm of Dark of Night. Furthermore, Yggdrasil, the World Ash, has its roots in Niflheim, accompanied forever by the wingless dragon Nidhogg, who will ultimately gnaw away the roots.[4]


Pluton is the location of a number of godly realms, including the hag goddess Cegilune's realm of Hagsend, Hecate's primary realm of Aeaea, and the god Hades' realm of Hades, the Underworld. Furthermore, Mount Olympus is based in Pluton.


Creative origins[edit]

The Gray Waste is partially based on the underworld of Hades in Greek mythology, and the world of Niflheim in Norse Mythology.


  1. ^ Gygax, Gary (July 1977). "Planes: The Concepts of Spatial, Temporal and Physical Relationships in D&D". The Dragon #8. TSR. I (8): 4. 
  2. ^ Gygax, Gary (1978). Players Handbook. TSR. ISBN 0-935696-01-6. 
  3. ^ Webb, Trenton (March 1996). "Games Reviews". Arcane. Future Publishing (4): 73. 
  4. ^ Cook, “Zeb” David, Designer. Planescape Campaign Setting: A DM Guide to the Planes. Ed. David Wise. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR, Inc., 1994. 59. Print.


Outer Planes
Celestia Bytopia Elysium Beastlands Arborea
Arcadia ↑Good↑ Ysgard
Mechanus ←Lawful Outlands Chaotic→ Limbo
Acheron ↓Evil↓ Pandemonium
Baator Gehenna Hades Carceri Abyss