strongly chaos-aligned and strongly evil-aligned
The Outer Rifts, also known as the Abyss (pronounced uh-BIS),1 is a plane in the Outer Sphere dedicated to the rule of evil unfettered by law. It is accessible through huge rents in the Maelstrom, opening into fiendish depths vast beyond imagining. Demonic occupants of the Outer Rifts sporadically pour from these rents to menace one plane or another, and sometimes even tear their way into the Universe. The Outer Rifts have many layers, many of which are ruled by powerful and unique demon lords or deities.2
Realms in the Outer Rifts
The Abyssal realms are pockets in which the fabric of the Outer Rifts has slowed its relentless, changing insanity to a near-reality pace. These places are often ruled by a demon lord, either thanks to the lord's own power over the area, or simply because demon lords are attracted to a place to build a fortress and armies. Some Abyssal realms have remained relatively unchanged for aeons and are designated as anchored realms, or anchor realms.3
The two primary races that inhabit the countless layers of the Outer Rifts are the ancient qlippoth and the prolific demons, which act as metaphysical bookends to all the numerous races of the Outer Planes. The qlippoth are believed to be some of the most ancient, or perhaps the oldest races of the Great Beyond, while the demons are the youngest. The qlippoth had already existed for eons when the Outer Rifts first revealed itself to the rest of the multiverse, while the demons were originally created by daemons from the souls of evil mortals. When the influx of evil and lawless souls began rising steeply, the demons grew beyond the daemons' ability to control, and are now the most prolific of all the fiendish races.2
Connections to other planes
In the earliest days of creation, Rovagug was tasked with burrowing through the Outer Rifts.4 As mortal life began, Rovagug gnawed his way out of the deepest Outer Rifts and jumped across the Astral Plane to invade the Universe. He consumed seven planets, but as they had no names nor histories their taste was dull, and he put up only a token fight when the other deities drove him back to the Outer Rifts.54
Such planar tears have become closely associated with the Outer Rifts. Powerful demon lords, such as Deskari, have been capable of tearing through the planes and opening rifts between them. The most notable such rift on Golarion was the Worldwound, an open tear that connected Deskari's Rasping Rifts to the lands of Sarkoris from 4606 AR67 to 4718 AR.8
In addition, the River Styx—which originates in Abaddon and runs through many other planes—passes through or is connected to the Abyssal realms of Cerebulim, Everglut, Ishiar, Kurnugia, the Midnight Isles,9 Moonbog, and Undersump.10
The Abyss is covered in detail within the pages of The Great Beyond, A Guide to the Multiverse, Lords of Chaos, Book of the Damned Volume 2, and Planar Adventures'. It also features in an extensive article in The Midnight Isles called "Gazetteer of the Abyss".
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Appendices” in Campaign Setting, 246. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 242. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “The Realms” in Lords of Chaos, Book of the Damned Volume 2, 40. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- James Jacobs. (January 2, 2020). The Windsong Testaments: Rage of Creation, Paizo Blog.
- “Chapter 2: Fiendish Realms” in Book of the Damned, 157. Paizo Inc., 2017 .
- “Lords of the Abyss” in Lords of Chaos, Book of the Damned Volume 2, 5. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “At Your Door” in Lords of Chaos, Book of the Damned Volume 2, 63. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Broken Lands” in World Guide, 26–27. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Appendix: Excerpts” in Book of the Damned, 270. Paizo Inc., 2017 .
- “Appendix: Excerpts” in Book of the Damned, 271. Paizo Inc., 2017 .