This layer is for many tanar'ri the first introduction to the Abyss. Here stands the Court of Woe within the great Mountain of Woe, where the nalfeshnee (also known, astoundingly enough, as the "lords of woe") sit upon their thrones of flame, deciding the fates of all incoming souls and larvae. Supposedly, those of the least promise are shaped into manes, slaves at best and food at worse. Those with enough darkness are shaped into dretches and sent onto the front lines of the Blood War to immediately engage in battle. And those that believe themselves to have far more potential than they truly do are shaped into rutterkin, to bring a sense of humility to them and show them their place, also sent into the War but as nothing but cannon fodder. Of course, with how orderly this process seems, many believe that these decisions are in fact made based on nothing more than the whims of the judges a soul happens to be sent before.
The Court was first established in the millennia following the Upheaval, once the tanar'ri took the plane from the obyriths. To simplify matters of transformation, great rituals were done in order to divert the flow of souls to this layer. The nalfeshnee, as the wisest of those below the rank of Abyssal lord, were assigned the duty of determining the fates of all. This was initially the only duties of the Court, but over the eons it expanded its breadth; now it serves to hold all tanar'ri in judgment, and ancient pacts provide ritualistic methods to call any upon the Abyss before the Lords. Those judged poorly are sent into the Pits of Despair far below the mountain, where they are sent to suffer for years, if not eternity.
While there are many portals leading upon the layer, the only exits are located deep within its caverns. Leaving the Escarand through one of these passages requires the approval of at least one Lord, but is usually granted only after the conclusion of a trial. These portals lead new fiends to their assigned destinations; thus most of these lead to either Pazunia, where a tanar'ri can begin to make their way, or Durao, the embarkation layer for the chaotic armies of the Blood War.
Because of the difficulties of leaving, the Woeful Escarand was a relatively late layer in the catalogue of the Guvners, counted as 400th in their roles. It was first noted by the Company of the White Rose close to three centuries ago, in the 21st year of Karakor. As few nalfeshnee have any good will towards the Fraternity of Order, this adventuring company was forced to carve their way through the mountain until reaching one of the exit passages.
- Faces of Evil: The Fiends, pg.47
- Fiendish Codex I, part 2: The Lost Annals
- Planes of Chaos - The Book of Chaos, pp.22-23
- Planes of Chaos - Poster Map