When confronted with an interesting bit of cosmological information relevant to a particular fantasy setting, I try to figure out where it belongs in one of the fantasy cosmologies I’m familiar with – this is a fun experiment that provides vastly more entertainment than arguing the nuances of superhero alignments ever did.

Since the introduction of the “power source” concept in Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons — however poorly supported — this has been an exercise in retrofitting older classes according to later developments in the game system, re-configuring classes to use a different power source, and determining where hypothetical classes fall.

When the 4e Player’s Handbook was published, there was an idea of a Ki Magic power source, which was later folded into the Psionic power source because I guess Wizards of the Coast changed their mind. I still don’t get that one, but whatever right?

Anyway, this morning I was thinking about where the supernatural characters of the Hellraiser setting would fall — being a peripheral fan of the film series, and a big nerd.

As I understand it, there is only a little crossover between Clive Barker’s stories (like the Hellbound Heart) and the film series. I don’t actually know because I’ve only ever watched the films (the first six, if I recall). I didn’t research it extensively — just a bit.

Somewhere around the third, maybe the fourth film, we’re given to understand that each of the Cenobites (Pinhead and his ilk) was mortal once, and strayed into the realm where they presently reside in the search for sensations beyond what can be experienced as a living human — an ascension of sorts, albeit a gory one.

Pinhead had a line of dialogue, maybe in the first film or maybe later, where he says that some regard him as “angels, others as demons,” or something like that. Years ago, when I was playing 3e D&D, I might have classed them as one of the zillions of weird in-between outsiders that are neither angels nor demons.

In a way, the Cenobites are like the denizens of Carceri, in that they operate a massive extraplanar prison complex of sorts, however they are nearly all of them willing inhabitants — so it doesn’t really fit. They’re Too Kinky To Torture, and most found their way to Pinhead’s demesne of their own accord.

The first and second Hellraiser films show us that it’s possible to escape however, that while in the other world, inhabitants are still capable of independent thought and motivation. The golden puzzle box (referred to as the Lament Configuration) acts as a gateway but isn’t required to traverse the planes.

Denizens of Pinhead’s world also seem vulnerable to a banishment of some sort, which suggests (in game terms) they no longer strictly “belong” to our world, and thus can be sent away — though they are shown as able to come and go almost at will.

I see them as a sort of Vestige (3e Tome of Magic sourcebook), belonging neither to the Natural world, nor any of the Outer Planes, really — able to pass through our world but having claim only to those who bind themselves to the Cenobites.

Cenobites have no agenda, no higher goal beyond the pursuit of sensual experience — dangerous only to those who dabble but lack the true conviction to seek them.

All of that says “vestige” to me, which would suggest they belong to the Arcane power source. They can be sought through personal study (such as the wizard) or through direct contact, as with the warlock (including the binder and hexblade classes).