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    Canonfire :: View topic - Tharizdun's Nature
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    Tharizdun's Nature
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 24, 2016 7:44 am  
    Tharizdun's Nature

    In your campaign, what is the deal with Tharizdun? This is kind of a free form spitballing thing, and the following questions are meant more to stir discussion on what your opinion is than delve for hard, canonical answers to them.

    He seems to have some ties to the Far Realm, or at least some place outside the universe full of lovecraftian horrors, but what exactly are they? Was he a god who went into the Far Realm and went mad so he decided to destroy the universe? Was he originally from the Far Realm? What was he the god of before he went loco? What's his relation to other gods, archomentals, supernatural beings, etc ... ?

    It does seem to indicate he is possessed of immense power, at least enough that the other gods needed to ally to lock him away, and powerful enough that they couldn't destroy him, just imprison him. What is the source of this power? Is he himself the power that will destroy the universe, or is he just the key and gate that will allow the horrors of the Far Realm to overrun and destroy the universe?
    GreySage

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    Thu Mar 24, 2016 3:18 pm  

    4th edition gave two different origin stories for Tharizdun's descent into madness, and while they don't exactly contradict they each constitute a full explanation, so you don't really need both.

    The Living Gate
    The first, from the Player's Handbook 3, states that in the depths of the Astral was a Living Gate that connected the multiverse to the Far Realm. Long ago, before the Dawn War, three deities discovered the gate: Pelor, Tharizdun, and the god of knowledge (Ioun in 4e; more likely Boccob in a Greyhawk campaign). Tharizdun is identified in that source as a "nameless god, who feared no danger and doubted all authority;" it was Tharizdun who distracted the gate's guardian so that all three gods could gaze into the Gate. Changed by the experience, the three swore never to do so again. Long ages later, during the Dawn War against the primordials, it was apparently Tharizdun who broke the oath and opened the gate, allowing Far Realm aberrations to enter the multiverse. It was Pelor who finally shattered the Gate in order to mostly seal away the Far Realm. The "Abyssal Plague" novels hint that Tharizdun was imprisoned not for the threat he posed to the multiverse, but in order to cover up the secret of Pelor and Ioun's complicity in the original discovery of the Gate.

    Obyriths and the shard of pure evil
    The second origin, from Demonomicon, is that Tharizdun was driven mad by a shard of pure evil created by the inhabitants of a dying universe, the obyriths (a "dying universe" was also given as the origin of Blackrazor in 3e). Hungry for power, Tharizdun attempted to use the shard for himself and it corrupted him instantly. Tharizdun planted the seed in the midst of the Elemental Chaos, creating the Abyss.

    As for me? I don't really like either interpretation. The Far Realm is alien and hostile to the life native to the planes within time, but it's not really the same thing as evil or entropy. Tharizdun honestly feels more "natural" to me, not like an invader from outside reality. I sort of see Tharizdun as an essential part of the universe, the personification of entropy and the counterpart to the Creator.

    The Monomyth
    The beginning was pure void. Out of the void came the Creator (known by many names, including Lendor, Rao, Corellon Larethian, Istus, Boccob, Annam, Io, the Great Mother, and Yig), who uttered his own true name and so brought himself into existence. When the Creator came into being so also came the Creator's shadow, a force of pure destruction called Tharizdun. The two battled for eons, but at last Tharizdun was banished into the void. But Tharizdun's very existence, even banished as he was, corrupted reality, causing all things to age and decay. At the end of time Tharizdun will return, speak his true name, and destroy all creation. Whether this date is near or far is yet to be determined. In the meantime, because of the influence of certain artifacts infused with Tharizdun's essence and weak points in the substance of reality, Tharizdun is sometimes able to send avatars of himself into Creation, and these must be separately bound and banished by gods and mortals working in concert.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:25 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    As for me? I don't really like either interpretation. The Far Realm is alien and hostile to the life native to the planes within time, but it's not really the same thing as evil or entropy. Tharizdun honestly feels more "natural" to me, not like an invader from outside reality. I sort of see Tharizdun as an essential part of the universe, the personification of entropy and the counterpart to the Creator.


    Yeah, this hits the hammer right on the nail. While I see the obvious Lovecraftian parallels and the temptation to put him with beings like C'thulu, et al, he doesn't strike me as so utterly alien and unfathomable as them. Tying him to the Far Realm feels like a bit of a cop out. I think Tharizdun has found a unique niche that separates him from both the "standard" evil deities and those of the cosmic horror variety, maybe somewhere in between the two. He embodies the fringe gospel of madness, entropy, nihilism, and decay, but they are still rooted in mortal concepts of them.
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:50 pm  

    Considering how much Greyhawk material such as modules, accessories, mention Tharizdun and given his popularity among Greyhawk fans, it seems more natural to me that he be tied directly to Oerth itself. I've always been under the understanding that he certainly wanted to destroy Oerth and quite possibly the planes as well. In another thread they are discussing the "Pact" that deities have preventing them from interfering on Oerth. Given that several deities imprisoned Tharizdun, which I understand to be about 1,000 years ago, I think it's a good fit to assume that it is he that came to destroy Oerth, though I confess not to know his motivation. The deities intervened and because of the destruction that Tharizdun did wrought (or could have) on Oerth, once he was imprisoned, the above Pact was made by the rest of the deities.

    Tharizdun seems so directly tied to Greyhawk based on the official writings that I cannot see him being some sort of evil outside influence. His actions and origins are shrouded in mystery which enables each DM to use him as they see fit. Perhaps this mysterious origin is a result of the gods casting some sort of veil over everyone's eyes to protect us and the good people of Oerth from the truth, undoubtedly a most horrible and despicable tale in itself.
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    Fri Mar 25, 2016 9:33 am  

    For my purposes, Tharizdun is the end of the story - every possible story, that I or the players could tell. That is in some ways its dogma:

    "The very threads of existence must be torn asunder, then burned, then the ashes scattered, until all is nothing and no one exists to remember existence."

    Because the evil outer planes and Far Realm are still a source of narrative for both DM and Players, they don't equate to the threat of Tharizdun.

    For my purposes Tharizdun is of its own kind, and desires to destroy every aspect of the game environment. The physical traits of the game environment are composed of four elements. So it has cults to devoted to the destructiveness, and ultimately the destruction of, these elements. These cults have been described in classic adventures.

    The metaphysical traits of the game environment are described in terms of law, chaos, good, and evil, and further subdivided among deities with more narrow purposes/motives. These concepts and entities, whether demon or angel, only seek to transform the game environment. But for Tharizdun these very concepts and entities must be destroyed. Because it views all creatures and things as mere obstacles to be discarded, Tharizdun is evil - in a very, very different way.

    With respect to Law/Chaos, Tharizdun is neutral. The annihilation of reality might be accomplished through a spontaneous, chaotic catastrophe - or through the inexorable, predictable, reliable and never changing forces of entropy. The cults described to date have mostly been chaotic-ish, but it is feasible for a lawful tendency to arise preaching the inevitability and certainty of annihilation.

    In short, no matter what the goals of the players, even if they wish their characters to be even more evil than Iuz, and rule as soul devouring maniacs over all of Oerth, Tharizdun always remains as the definition of "loosing" the game. In the event of a victory by Tharizdun neither I nor the players will be able to describe any further action by an NPC or PC - because there won't be any.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Fri Mar 25, 2016 9:59 am  

    Good points all, especially Rasgon on the differences between the natures of Tharizdun as given in canon and the Far Realm (entropic vs. alien). The route I'm going for my campaign is the opposite, tying both Tharizdun and the Far Realm together with more lovecraftian themes. I remember now I had heard the 4e shard of evil story, but didn't care for it. The Living Gate, and that is actually somewhat close to what I came up with on my own. I'm still working on it and it'll be awhile before it's relevant to the party, but seeing Tharizdun as one of the primordial gods, along with Lendor, Boccob, Beory, Pelor, Nerull, and maybe Istus. He delved where he shouldn't and found the Far Realm, which drove him mad. He then tried to open a gate which would allow the entities of the Far Realms to invade and overwhelm the multiverse. The other primordial gods banded together to stop him, but could only lock him away. If he is ever freed he'll be able to open the gate. Maybe it's lazy, but it works for me. Also IMC, what would be the crystal sphere of Oerth in standard D&D cosmology is the Prime Material Plane. There are no others.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Mar 25, 2016 11:42 am  

    This is a very interesting meta topic and discussion. I am going to spit ball some here.

    AFAIK, and I hope Rasgon corrects me here if I am wrong, there has never been a mention of Tharizdun in any other setting than Greyhawk. He is not a universal entity (unlike the racial gods and fiendish lords). If he were, would not the gods of Faerun, Krynn, etc., all have helped with his imprisonment? I mean, I guess we can assume that they did, but I find it suspect then that their involvement has never been mentioned anywhere by any game product.

    If the above is correct, then I think we can assume that Tharizdun is not an entity which can threaten to destroy the entire multiverse; rather, he can only threaten to destroy Oerth and it's planar connections, crystal sphere, etc.

    In the same vein, I refuse to believe that "Lendor, Boccob, Beory, Pelor, Nerull, and maybe Istus" were primordial gods who were involved in the creation of the entire multiverse. They, too, are too Greyhawk specific and unknown on other worlds (this does, however, avoid the discussion that, due to the Plurality of Being, these gods are known by other names on other worlds--which I'm fine with because the racial deities all have the same name, regardless of world [with the exceptions of Tiamat/Takhasis and Bahamut/Paladine, etc., on Krynn; there may be other examples]).

    With that being said, my theory is that Tharizdun is actually the divine-rank equivalent to Oerth that Ao is to Forgotten Realms. However, instead of seeking to maintain Balance (a very Greyhawk thing for Ao to want to do, actually), Tharizdun instead seeks to destroy it. We do not actually know if Ao started off as a regular god and then increased his divine rank to become the Overgod of FR or if he was created by The Master/Entity of Light to watch over it. The fact that Tharizdun does still grant spells (via odd circumstances) is something I still need to reconcile with this approach.

    The same is true of Tharizdun in my theory: we do not know if he increased his divine rank to 21+ (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/divine/divineRanksAndPowers.htm) to become Overgod of Oerth or if he was created by The Master. Either way, I would posit that he became mad and, instead of trying to maintain Balance on Oerth, he became obsessed with destroying it. And while that divine rank is powerful, it is not powerful enough to withstand the combined might of the rest of Oerth's gods 100% of the time. Through various machinations, they were able to imprison Tharizdun and sever most of his connections to Oerth.

    But why wouldn't The Master step in and either remove Tharizdun and replace him, or fix him? Perhaps because there are "millions and millions" of realms with Overgods out there who are being supervised by The Master. Despite his mind-boggling power, we know The Master is not omniscient because he has to ask Ao how Ao's cosmos fares at the end of Waterdeep.

    So, here's one of my grand theories on divine rank. Planets which develop intelligent life (or have intelligent life brought to them) lead to the creation/transport of creatures with divine rank. These divine creatures can access the planes (and often live on them) but tend to very focused on their home world. They have varying levels of power, with some being nothing more than 30th level mortals. As some point, either based on the population figures for sentient species or perhaps the number of deific beings attached to a world, it becomes necessary for that world to have an Overgod. That Overgod, regardless of how that status is obtained, must report to The Master--a galaxy-level god. I posit that each galaxy has a master god and these, in turn, probably answer to The Ultimate Creator force of the multiverse (if it is sentient)--or perhaps there are two primordial gods (as in Raymond E. Feist's multiverse, these are Rythar and Mythar; and Mythar could be responsible for creating the Far Realm and its horrific beings).

    Now, with that being said, the hierarchy on the planes still needs to be addressed (and I am of the opinion that the revised FR cosmology introduced with 3rd edition is incorrect and everything 4th edition can be safely ignored as being dumb as hell). It seems silly to me that various gods live on various layers of planes, yet these layers, especially the layers of the Abyss and Hell, are controlled by other powerful, divine-like beings such as demon lords and archdevils. IMO, these planar lords should be much more powerful than gods as their spheres of influence, imo, are greater (if all of the souls of sentient creatures throughout the Prime Material end up on a plane, that's far more power than available to a god of just one world).

    Perhaps these creatures should also be Overgods, except, unlike Ao and others like him, they do grant spells and they are concerned with the machinations of mortals on various worlds as they derive their power from souls and worship, just as regular gods do. Also problematic, mechanically these creatures have tended to be presented as viable foes for very high-level adventuring parties to face (although I believe Mona addressed that in his 3.x fiendish codex by saying that PCs only ever face aspects and avatars, not the actual deific beings themselves. I forget, I need to go re-read that). These planar Overgods then work with gods of various worlds to further their own agendas and will grant to these gods permission to set up shop on their layers or plane. The god gets a planar home, the planar Overgod gets to use whatever energies souls bring with them when they die to help power the engines of their planar layer.

    But if Tiamat is a planar Overgod, why would she be just a god for Oerth (and, as Takhasis, the same for Krynn)? Perhaps planar Overgods reach the stage where they can experience the Plurality of Being and their lesser aspects still must obey the Overgod of whatever world that aspect is meddling with.

    Also, do we know for a fact, game mechanically, that the souls of creatures NOT on the Prime Material end up on a plane? Just a side question.

    Anyhow, I have an idea in my head, a grand unified theory of D&D deification. It would involve each layer of a plane being home to a planar Overgod (these creatures report to no one). At the same time, each populated world that meets the right criterion has an Overgod that reports to a galaxy-level Master. Many of the normal gods of the worlds would then be aspects of a planar Overgod (the Plurality of Being) while the rest are advanced mortals who have ascended to divine rank 0+. I think this would help explain why the racial gods are the same on different worlds but the human gods are much more varied (Plurality of Being gods are not known by the same names and, because humans breed faster/have higher reproductive success rates/are more militant/better with magic than most other races, they have more mortals ascending to godhood, each unique to their home worlds [such as Kelanen, etc.]).

    Thus, there would be a finite number of planar Overgods (not every layer of the Abyss would have one, that would be nuts) and many or most of the gods in the entire cosmos would just be aspects of these planar Overlords. These aspects maintain individual existences, with individual lairs in the planes, but all have one purpose: to increase the influence of the planar Overlord and to drive the acquisition of souls to that plane. I need to make sure this works with the idea that some Demon Lords evolved from lowly manes, such as Orcus.

    This in turn helps explain why The Master needs Overgods to protect the balance on each world; the planar gods are, essentially, insane as they are the personification of one alignment/one train of thought and they seek to push their views of the multiverse on everyone and everything, regardless of the consequences to other creatures and even the multiverse itself.

    Thoughts?


    Last edited by aurdraco on Fri Mar 25, 2016 12:52 pm; edited 4 times in total
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Mar 25, 2016 11:46 am  

    Gave me error messages when I tried to post but then posted after all. Odd.

    Last edited by aurdraco on Fri Mar 25, 2016 11:49 am; edited 1 time in total
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Mar 25, 2016 11:47 am  

    What's elven for "redonkulous"?

    Last edited by aurdraco on Fri Mar 25, 2016 11:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Fri Mar 25, 2016 11:48 am  

    I blame Tharizdun.
    GreySage

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    Fri Mar 25, 2016 1:37 pm  

    aurdraco wrote:
    AFAIK, and I hope Rasgon corrects me here if I am wrong, there has never been a mention of Tharizdun in any other setting than Greyhawk.


    He's in Monster Mythology and the Night Below boxed set as the Dark God and he appears as the prisoner of the Demiplane of Imprisonment in the 1st edition Manual of the Planes and Planescape's A Guide to the Ethereal Plane.

    He's a major god in the fourth edition Nentir Vale setting and he's appeared in the Forgotten Realms novel Sword of the Gods by Bruce Cordell, which established that his cult had invaded the Forgotten Realms once before but was chased out by Mystra, and then again about a century later. Here's the entry for Tharizdun on the Forgotten Realms wiki. The Abyssal Plague series of novels also had Tharizdun interfering indirectly with the world of Athas (by being responsible for the Abyssal Plague that spread there).

    Other Greyhawk gods are worshiped on multiple worlds as well. Pelor was worshiped on whatever world Mayaheine originated on and Iuz the Evil notes that Nerull is feared on many different worlds.

    Quote:
    If the above is correct, then I think we can assume that Tharizdun is not an entity which can threaten to destroy the entire multiverse


    Perhaps not, depending on your campaign. Unless your campaign spans multiple worlds, it's largely irrelevant. I'm more interested in what the people of Oerth believe than what's true.

    Quote:
    In the same vein, I refuse to believe that "Lendor, Boccob, Beory, Pelor, Nerull, and maybe Istus" were primordial gods who were involved in the creation of the entire multiverse.


    I don't think any of those gods was even involved in the creation of Oerth, let alone the entire multiverse. They might not even have existed when Tharizdun was bound. What I'm saying is that there are myths that have them as creator deities.

    I don't think the question of what really happened is very interesting, though, or that it's relevant to most campaigns. I think the multiverse evolved from primal forces without much help from the gods, who arrived much later after they formed from mortal belief. But maybe Tharizdun is something more fundamental than a god.

    But could Tharizdun seriously mess up the multiverse if he was freed? Yes, absolutely, because "he couldn't cause much harm anyway outside of one world" is a recipe for anticlimax. Why define the maximum amount of harm in advance? That's like establishing that a nuclear bomb that went off in New York would have no effect outside the city limits. If something's supposed to be an epic disaster, part of selling it as an epic disaster is the fact that the fallout is unknowable. The unknown is scary, but neat boundaries are not. Even if he can't affect other worlds directly, what would the consequences be to the planes if an entire world like Oerth was destroyed? Terrible storms in the Astral and Ethereal would be the least of it; it might alter the balance between law, chaos, good, and evil and affect the politics of the outer planes. It could be something as simple as Graz'zt involving himself in worlds that had heretofore been spared his influence after he no longer had Oerth to pick on. It could be something as complicated as ethereal storms altering the way magic works on other planes, the planes shifting, the Plane of Fire losing half its mass to the Plane of Magma and Limbo swallowing Toril's moon.

    I think Oerth doesn't have an overgod in the way that Realmspace does. That's why the gods of Oerth have a much messier, informal pact of noninterference instead of an absolute source of authority with the power to bring them to heel if they step too far. Vecna's plot in Vecna Lives! would be impossible in a sphere with an overdeity.

    In general, I think overdeities are a bad idea. They're the reason the history of the Realms reads as a series of deus ex machinas rather than as an organically evolving world. They should be avoided if possible.

    Quote:
    I think this would help explain why the racial gods are the same on different worlds but the human gods are much more varied


    The racial gods aren't always the same on different worlds, though, while human deities are often worshiped on multiple worlds. I don't think the racial gods should be universal even on a single world. The Seldarine is a pantheon, just as the Suel gods are a pantheon, and culturally isolated elves on Oerth may worship gods other than the Seldarine. Oerth's elves may be as likely to worship Ehlonna, while Oerth's dwarves are as likely to choose Ulaa or Fortubo as they are to worship the children of Moradin, and in far-off lands they may have completely unrecognizable sets of gods.


    Last edited by rasgon on Fri Mar 25, 2016 2:13 pm; edited 10 times in total
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Fri Mar 25, 2016 1:38 pm  

    Interesting model! That's the main reason why I've adopted the cosmology that I describe above, because it's hard enough for me to reconcile all the different pantheons of Oerth to my satisfaction, much less the pantheons of multiple crystal spheres. You did make me realize I may want to consider some non-human gods for membership in the group of primordial deities, as well as fitting in Tiamat.
    As far as Tharizdun being in other settings, I know that Ghaunadaur in FR is associated by some people with the Elder Elemental God, at least in that they share characteristics, and I believe Ghaunadaur is also called the Elemental Eye. Not sure if that's canon or not. That's assuming you believe Tharizdun to be one in the same as the Elder Elemental God, something I believe Gygax at least once said in an interview is not the case. Whatever works with each individual's campaign is good though.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Mar 25, 2016 9:52 pm  

    Great stuff, as usual, Rasgon. I appreciate the reply and info.

    rasgon wrote:
    He's in Monster Mythology and the Night Below boxed set as the Dark God and he appears as the prisoner of the Demiplane of Imprisonment in the 1st edition Manual of the Planes and Planescape's A Guide to the Ethereal Plane.


    When did Tharizdun acquire the "Dark God" title? It seems odd to me that MM would use the title but not his name. Same for Night Below.

    Also, my understanding of Night Below is that it is set on a generic world but with notes included for putting it on Oerth or Toril.

    Also, I just read the "The Demi-Plane of Imprisonment" entry in MotP--he is not mentioned by name or the Dark God title and the entity described was defeated by the "forebears of the beings known as the Great Powers of all alignments". To me, that sounds like a much more ancient event. Same for the matching entry in the Planescape guide. The entity's prison in both entries is referenced as a demi-plane...I thought Tharizdun was locked away in a completely dead multiverse?

    rasgon wrote:
    He's a major god in the fourth edition Nentir Vale setting and he's appeared in the Forgotten Realms novel Sword of the Gods by Bruce Cordell, which established that his cult had invaded the Forgotten Realms once before but was chased out by Mystra, and then again about a century later. Here's the entry for Tharizdun on the Forgotten Realms wiki. The Abyssal Plague series of novels also had Tharizdun interfering indirectly with the world of Athas (by being responsible for the Abyssal Plague that spread there).


    I am unfamiliar with Nentir Vale as I ignore all of 4th edition as being non-canonical due to the vast changes that edition made to the cosmology and mechanics of the multiverse. I am not familiar with 5th edition yet.

    It is interesting that Cordell's novel mentions him as it was Cordell who wrote the Planescape guide (the demi-plane of imprisonment entry was very similar to the one in MotP though).

    I am okay with a Tharizdun cult invading FR and other worlds; with access to plane-shift, or other world-jumping mechanics, it's possible. However, to me, that does not make him part of those settings in any meaningful way.

    rasgon wrote:
    Other Greyhawk gods are worshiped on multiple worlds as well. Pelor was worshiped on whatever world Mayaheine originated on and Iuz the Evil notes that Nerull is feared on many different worlds.


    Thanks for reminding of these. I think these instances fit right in with my Plurality of Being cosmology idea.

    rasgon wrote:
    I'm more interested in what the people of Oerth believe than what's true.


    This is where we differ; I am far more interested in what is true, game mechanically. I can then address the inconsistencies, from an in-game point of view, across races and cultures once I understand the "truth".

    aurdraco wrote:
    In the same vein, I refuse to believe that "Lendor, Boccob, Beory, Pelor, Nerull, and maybe Istus" were primordial gods who were involved in the creation of the entire multiverse.

    rasgon wrote:
    I don't think any of those gods was even involved in the creation of Oerth, let alone the entire multiverse. They might not even have existed when Tharizdun was bound. What I'm saying is that there are myths that have them as creator deities.


    Perhaps I should have asked this sooner: what are the canon references which give a timeline for his imprisonment?

    rasgon wrote:
    I don't think the question of what really happened is very interesting, though, or that it's relevant to most campaigns. I think the multiverse evolved from primal forces without much help from the gods, who arrived much later after they formed from mortal belief. But maybe Tharizdun is something more fundamental than a god.


    I guess part of the fun is in not knowing. However, I still want to know. :)
    IF Tharizdun is multiverse threatening, that I am more drawn to the idea that he is some Other thing that the gods had to deal with. I believe this is why he is so often tied to the Lovecraftian and the Far Realm; there just isn't anything else to tie him to.

    rasgon wrote:
    But could Tharizdun seriously mess up the multiverse if he was freed? Yes, absolutely, because "he couldn't cause much harm anyway outside of one world" is a recipe for anticlimax. Why define the maximum amount of harm in advance? That's like establishing that a nuclear bomb that went off in New York would have no effect outside the city limits. If something's supposed to be an epic disaster, part of selling it as an epic disaster is the fact that the fallout is unknowable. The unknown is scary, but neat boundaries are not. Even if he can't affect other worlds directly, what would the consequences be to the planes if an entire world like Oerth was destroyed? Terrible storms in the Astral and Ethereal would be the least of it; it might alter the balance between law, chaos, good, and evil and affect the politics of the outer planes. It could be something as simple as Graz'zt involving himself in worlds that had heretofore been spared his influence after he no longer had Oerth to pick on. It could be something as complicated as ethereal storms altering the way magic works on other planes, the planes shifting, the Plane of Fire losing half its mass to the Plane of Magma and Limbo swallowing Toril's moon.


    It wouldn't be anticlimactic for the characters on Oerth. Your analogy confuses me; theoretically, there could be a Davy Crockett nuclear bomb that went off in New York City that would have no direct effect outside the city limits. Also, I believe you are speculating at possible consequences; are there game mechanics which describe the effects you are describing? I do not believe that the destruction of any one world would have any sort of major impact upon the planes.

    rasgon wrote:
    I think Oerth doesn't have an overgod in the way that Realmspace does. That's why the gods of Oerth have a much messier, informal pact of noninterference instead of an absolute source of authority with the power to bring them to heel if they step too far. Vecna's plot in Vecna Lives! would be impossible in a sphere with an overdeity.


    While it may be that Oerth has an Overgod who has not yet revealed itself to mortals (and, naturally, the gods themselves aren't going to admit they have a boss), your point about Vecna's plot is interesting. IF Tharizdun was the Overgod, he isn't anymore. Thus, Vecna's machinations would not have been impeded by an Overgod, assuming The Master did not appoint a new one. I can envision that Tharizdun's imprisonment by the other gods led to the messy, informal pact of noninterference.

    rasgon wrote:
    In general, I think overdeities are a bad idea. They're the reason the history of the Realms reads as a series of deus ex machinas rather than as an organically evolving world. They should be avoided if possible.


    I like consistency within my game mechanics. Waterdeep, if accepted as canon for all of D&D, makes it clear that there are millions and millions of beings like Ao in the Multiverse. Why would Oerth be any different and not have one? I'm really growing fond of the idea that Tharizdun was Oerth's Overgod and that he was imprisoned after he went mad. Whether or not The Master has replaced him is unknown but it seems unlikely if Vecna's actions seem too unlikely if an Overgod did exist for Oerth (and it would be fun to think that there isn't one, that the Master is leaving Oerth as an Overgodless experiment). Also, the Realms as deus ex machinas is because of the real world authors involved, imo.

    aurdraco wrote:
    I think this would help explain why the racial gods are the same on different worlds but the human gods are much more varied

    rasgon wrote:
    The racial gods aren't always the same on different worlds, though, while human deities are often worshiped on multiple worlds. I don't think the racial gods should be universal even on a single world. The Seldarine is a pantheon, just as the Suel gods are a pantheon, and culturally isolated elves on Oerth may worship gods other than the Seldarine. Oerth's elves may be as likely to worship Ehlonna, while Oerth's dwarves are as likely to choose Ulaa or Fortubo as they are to worship the children of Moradin, and in far-off lands they may have completely unrecognizable sets of gods.


    It actually makes more sense that the racial gods aren't always using the sames on different worlds, as they would be following the same Plurality of Being model as the human gods (and as Tiamat/Takhisis and Bahumut/Paladine). But why shouldn't the racial gods be universal on a single world? What game mechanic do we actually have that confirms that line of thinking? Sure, Plurality of Being could mean that that the same gods have two different pantheons on the same planet, but I feel that that is a convoluted route to take with this thought exercise. While Oerth's elves might worship Ehlonna, that has no bearing on the fact that, throughout most of D&D history, the racial gods have been the presented as being the same regardless of the game world being described. As far as communities in far-off lands having unrecognizable sets of gods, you are only speculating.

    I like the idea of fewer gods, seems less messy to me.
    GreySage

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    Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:20 am  

    aurdraco wrote:
    When did Tharizdun acquire the "Dark God" title?


    From the Ashes refers to him that way. "Most folk feel that the less they know about the Dark God, the better they like it. Even mention of his dread name is held to be a danger."

    He's clearly the same entity as the Dark God detailed in Monster Mythology because Carl Sargent uses the same language to describe him in both texts.

    Monster Mythology: "Like those of the Elder Elemental God, this deity's lost shrines are awful places, but more chilling: Exhaustion, fatigue, mind-bending illusions, catatonia, depression and paralysis await those who enter." [page 67]

    From the Ashes: "What manner of Power Tharizdun is is unknown, although his name is associated with loss of strength and sanity, exhaustion and cold, fatigue, mind-bending illusions, depression, catatonia, and paralysis." [Atlas of the Flanaess, page 92]

    Night Below verifies this. In book 3, The Sunless Sea, it says, "This wretched isle holds the remains of a cult of the lost Dark God (known as Tharizdun on Oerth)." [page 28]

    Tharizdun is how he's known on Oerth; the Dark God is his more general title throughout the worlds, where his precise power level and origin story can vary from world to world.

    Quote:
    Also, my understanding of Night Below is that it is set on a generic world but with notes included for putting it on Oerth or Toril.


    This is basically correct. It's a generic adventure with notes for Oerth, Toril, and Mystara. That's why Tharizdun is mostly referred to as the Dark God in this adventure, with the note that on Oerth he's called Tharizdun.

    Quote:
    Also, I just read the "The Demi-Plane of Imprisonment" entry in MotP--he is not mentioned by name or the Dark God title and the entity described was defeated by the "forebears of the beings known as the Great Powers of all alignments". To me, that sounds like a much more ancient event. Same for the matching entry in the Planescape guide. The entity's prison in both entries is referenced as a demi-plane...I thought Tharizdun was locked away in a completely dead multiverse?


    From the Ashes says: "Legend says that Tharizdun is banished or imprisoned in some unknown demi-plane." You can of course do whatever you want with the Demiplane of Imprisonment, but it sounds like an obvious reference to Tharizdun to me.

    Where are you getting the "completely dead multiverse" idea from? I think the Abyssal Plague novels said something to this effect, but it's not really what we have in the Gord novels or Sargent.

    Quote:
    I ignore all of 4th edition as being non-canonical due to the vast changes that edition made to the cosmology and mechanics of the multiverse.


    I don't think the word "canonical" has much meaning outside one's personal campaign, but the hero Demascus originated in the Nentir Vale setting and became the protagonist of a Forgotten Realms book (Sword of the Gods) and there are countless tie-ins between the Realms and Greyhawk (most recently in 5e's Curse of Strahd, which notes that Mordenkainen will ask about Elminster of Shadowdale if the PCs tell him they're from Toril). So the worlds are connected in some sense, even if the cosmology around them is different. Stories vary from world to world anyway.

    Quote:
    Perhaps I should have asked this sooner: what are the canon references which give a timeline for his imprisonment?


    Most sources just say "aeons ago." My own interpretation is based on the Manual of the Planes' "the forebears of the beings known as the Great Powers of all alignments" reference, which makes me think Tharizdun's imprisonment happened before the birth of any of the current gods.

    3rd edition's Monster Manual IV says that the Elder Elemental Princes of Evil are too young to remember the war between the gods and Tharizdun. Since the Elder Elemental Princes fought on both sides of the war between the Wind Dukes and the obyriths (Dungeon #129, Dragon #347, Dragon #353), Tharizdun's banishment must have been very long ago. 4th edition's Demonomicon shortens the timeline: Tharizdun is imprisoned early on in the war and the Princes of Elemental Evil fight on in his name.

    Monster Manual IV wrote:
    Long ago, both good and evil deities allied against Tharizdun, who seeks the annihilation of all reality, and sealed the god in a mighty prison. The ever-greedy Princes of Elemental Evil, too young to remember that ancient war, allowed their ambition to blind them to Tharizdun’s deception. Should they succeed in freeing the Elder Elemental Eye, the resulting destruction would spell the end of all existence.


    Artifact of Evil said "Aeons ago, he was entrapped by those deities who understood that this greatest Evil must be fettered or all Goodness would perish from this world and possibly the entire multiverse. Acting in concert, these entities managed to enmesh Tharizdun in a manner that turned his own evil upon him, slowly spinning a cocoon of power that, being of his own making, wrapped and entrapped him in a way he could not avoid. But because it was a web spun from his own malign deeds and drawing upon his very forces, the terrible one of utter darkness would not willingly finish the work. Too late to untangle the bindings, he could still exist and wield a limited wickedness bound as he was. Thereupon, those who had conjoined to create this subtle snare had then to complete their task. They did so, but Tharizdun understood too, and used his still mighty force to resist. Those who struggled against him had hoped that Tharizdun himself would complete the web, thus bringing about his own annihilation... A forlorn hope indeed, considering the greatness of Tharizdun's wicked and malign powers."

    Which is basically the story from the 1st edition Manual of the Planes: "...the destruction was not complete..."

    Quote:
    While it may be that Oerth has an Overgod who has not yet revealed itself to mortals (and, naturally, the gods themselves aren't going to admit they have a boss), your point about Vecna's plot is interesting. IF Tharizdun was the Overgod, he isn't anymore. Thus, Vecna's machinations would not have been impeded by an Overgod, assuming The Master did not appoint a new one. I can envision that Tharizdun's imprisonment by the other gods led to the messy, informal pact of noninterference.


    Well, it's noteworthy that the Gord novel Dance of Demons depicts not one but at least four entities that roughly correspond to the concept of an "overgod": Proctor Chronos (who "measures events, put the proper and necessary limits and boundaries to things" and rules the fourth dimension), Lord Entropy ("in Entropy's kingdom there is nothing, stasis"), and Lady Tolerance, mistress of the House of Option ("I am Lady Tolerance, after all. I must allow all things, even those which are inimical to my very existence, such as multiple probabilities occurring simultaneously." She rules the fifth dimension, the dimension of Probability. The fourth entity is Tharizdun, who is equal in power to the other three.

    They're not the same thing as what Planescape calls overpowers, who have absolute authority over the gods of a crystal sphere and no authority elsewhere. Entropy, Chronos, Tolerance, and Tharizdun have authority over many worlds and planes, but they roughly fit into the category of entities beyond divine rank 20.

    Quote:
    But why shouldn't the racial gods be universal on a single world?


    I don't know about should or shouldn't, but they aren't. For example, in the Forgotten Realms the elves of the Yuirwood once worshiped a pantheon separate from the Seldarine, including Zandilar the Dancer, Relkath of the Infinite Branches, Magnar the Bear, Elikarashae, and the Simbul (and five other gods whose names are now lost). And as I noted, Ulaa is worshiped by dwarves, gnomes, and halflings, but not universally. The same is true of Ehlonna and her elven, gnomish, and halfling worshipers.

    Quote:
    throughout most of D&D history, the racial gods have been the presented as being the same regardless of the game world being described.


    This isn't the case. Racial gods don't exist at all on Krynn (or on Athas, of course), and in Birthright goblins worship Kartathok rather than Maglubiyet, while Orogs worship Torazan rather than Gruumsh. Birthright elves are atheists.

    The elven pantheon of Immortals on Mystara includes such figures as Ilsundal, Mealidan, Calitha Starbrow, Rafiel, Atzanteotl, and Ordana, while dwarves worship Kagyar the Artisan instead of Moradin. Halflings worship the High Heroes, including Brindorhin, Coberham, and Nob Nar.

    The elves of Bodi in the Spelljammer setting have no religion. The silver dragons of Nubis believe they were created by a squid-god called Kraken. The silver dragons of Edill in Greyspace worship Rais, a goddess of intellect apparently unknown elsewhere.

    In the Astromundi Cluster, elves worship a god called Reqis, god of battle, and goddess called Wajek, goddess of hunting, considered male and female halves of the same deity; dwarves worship a god called Chodak (who may be the same as Clangeddin Silverbeard), lizard men worship Sstasa ("the god of everything") and mind flayers worship Lugribossk.

    The elves of Aerenal in Eberron revere their own ancient dead instead of a set of gods, calling them the Undying Court. None of the typical D&D demihuman gods are known on Eberron.

    Quote:
    As far as communities in far-off lands having unrecognizable sets of gods, you are only speculating.


    Not really. Ptah's Seekers from Dragon #202 are a race of dwarves who worship Ptah. The korobokuru, or oriental dwarves, have shamans called tusu who propitiate spirits rather than priests who worship gods (A Sourcebook of Kara-Tur, Volume I, page 90). The duergar have their own god, Laduguer, who is not part of the Mordinsamman (anymore). The patron of the orc-descended scro in the Spelljammer setting is the demigod Dukagsh.

    Races of Stone offers versions of the dwarf and gnome pantheons that are similar in some ways to the standard one developed by Roger E. Moore and Carl Sargent, but very different and incompatible in other ways. If you consider those gods to be canon, you have the makings of related but separate demihuman religions.

    If demihumans seem religiously homogenous in much of D&D, it's because they're presented as culturally homogenous. If dwarf culture in the Realms is much the same as dwarf culture on Oerth, it's not surprising they venerate mostly the same gods (though there are differences between the two: the dwarves of the Realms worship gods like Gorm Gulthyn, Haela Brightaxe, Sharindlar, Thard Harr, and Deep Duerra who are apparently unknown on Oerth. The drow and elven pantheons are subtly different between the worlds as well.

    But there are also places where demihuman races have cultures different from the standard one, and they often venerate different gods or have different approaches to religion entirely. In this way, demihuman religion isn't any different from human religion. Just as the Baklunish worship different deities than the Suel, distant, culturally isolated groups of elves worship different gods than the elves of Celene or Lendore.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:58 am  

    smillan_31 wrote:
    As far as Tharizdun being in other settings, I know that Ghaunadaur in FR is associated by some people with the Elder Elemental God, at least in that they share characteristics, and I believe Ghaunadaur is also called the Elemental Eye. Not sure if that's canon or not. That's assuming you believe Tharizdun to be one in the same as the Elder Elemental God, something I believe Gygax at least once said in an interview is not the case. Whatever works with each individual's campaign is good though.

    I've always kept Tharizdun and the EEG separate, as they are presented in Monster Mythology as separate entities (The Dark God and the Elder Elemental God respectively). Like the Tharizdun / Lovecraft connection, there are similarities between Tharizdun and the EEG but they are still different enough. Tharizdun, as already mentioned, is more about the end of all things whereas the EEG comes across as pure primal chaos. With the EEG, I'm more tempted to tie him with the Far Realm.

    In my 5e campaign, I've created a mashup of Princes of the Apocalypse, Gates of Firestorm Peak, and Legacy of the Crystal Shard and placed it in northeastern Blackmoor (near Tonnsborg). So I had to modify the story line somewhat to bridge all these modules together and retrofit it all into GH lore. It sort of started as one idea / module but quickly took on a life of its own and became what it is now: a campaign that evolves as it progresses. Initially I considered using Tharizdun as the great evil behind it all, but opted to stick with the EEG. It just felt more appropriate.

    rasgon wrote:
    Most sources just say "aeons ago." My own interpretation is based on the Manual of the Planes' "the forebears of the beings known as the Great Powers of all alignments" reference, which makes me think Tharizdun's imprisonment happened before the birth of any of the current gods.


    The Essence of Evil (Dungeon Magazine #152) alludes to Tharizdun's imprisonment as a thousand years ago, although this could be vague abstraction.


    Quote:
    ...And in the last days, the sleep of a thousand years shall end when the herald appears, blotting out the sun in all its awesome glory. Its shuddering bulk shall sound the trumpets of destiny, those clarion calls to bring forth He Who Waits, the Dark God, the Wrongly Held.
    GreySage

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    Sat Mar 26, 2016 4:17 pm  

    Oh look, a double post.

    Last edited by rasgon on Sat Mar 26, 2016 4:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Sat Mar 26, 2016 4:18 pm  

    Luz wrote:

    The Essence of Evil (Dungeon Magazine #152) alludes to Tharizdun's imprisonment as a thousand years ago, although this could be vague abstraction.


    Quote:
    ...And in the last days, the sleep of a thousand years shall end when the herald appears, blotting out the sun in all its awesome glory. Its shuddering bulk shall sound the trumpets of destiny, those clarion calls to bring forth He Who Waits, the Dark God, the Wrongly Held.


    That quote refers to Shothragot, the herald of Tharizdun who has been dormant since the time of the Twin Cataclysms. Shothragot's sleep will end and Shothragot will appear, then he will attempt to bring forth his master. https://index.rpg.net/display-entry.phtml?articleid=20154


    Last edited by rasgon on Sat Mar 26, 2016 4:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Sat Mar 26, 2016 4:22 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    That quote refers to Shothrogot, the herald of Tharizdun who has been dormant since the time of the Twin Cataclysms. Shothrogot's sleep will end and Shothrogot will appear, then he will attempt to bring forth his master. https://index.rpg.net/display-entry.phtml?articleid=20154

    Cool, I've never seen that Dragon article before. Thanks for the correction and the link!
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sun Mar 27, 2016 4:26 pm  

    Thanks for all the responses and posts in this thread! It spurred me to finally nail down the cosmology and something like a concrete cosmology and timeline for the Age Before Ages and imprisonment of Tharizdun. Not that it is going to come into play anytime soon, but it's nice to finally have worked something out that I like and makes sense to me.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sun Mar 27, 2016 8:18 pm  

    Rasgon, thanks for the awesome reply. I'm not going to use the quote feature, too clunky at this point. I think you have addressed almost all of my thoughts anyhow.

    Re: The Dark God title, I'm trying to wrap my mind around the publication dates to make sure that they didn't retroactively shoehorn Tharizdun into the narrative in the MoP demi-plane of imprisonment narrative. Manual of the Planes was published in 1987, From the Ashes and Monster Mythologywere published in 1992, Night Below was 1995. WG4 was published in 1982. As the being in MoP was not named, this does look la bit like retroactive shoehorning to me. That's fine, I'm just trying to sort it out in my head.

    LGG also mentions "an Age ruled by dread Tharizdun." Which age was this? WG4 mentions that The Forgotten Temple was "built in a previous age, a secret place of worship to Tharizdun". If Tharizdun ruled, why did the temple need to provide a secret place of worship? The age he ruled must have preceded the age the temple was built, right? Re: when he was imprisoned, LGG says he hasn't been heard from in 1,000 years. That's not really that far back, imo, in the grand scheme of things.

    It appears that I found the references in Abyssal Plague to the dead universe and thought that was based on older canon.

    Re: the Gord books, iirc, Oerth is destroyed and a new world is created. As a result, I don't consider Gordhawk to be canonical. However, your point about Proctor Chronos, Lord Entropy, Lady Tolerance, and Tharizdun as divine rank 21+ is interesting. Not sure if I would include the other three in a grand cosmology; have they ever been mentioned outside of the novels?

    Thank you for the detailed demi-human mythology. There are way too many gods for my liking. It would be awesome if someone could undertake a project to tie them all together. Also, sorry, I thought you were speculating about the far-off land inhabitants.

    I tend to think that demi-humans are more culturally homogeneous across multiple worlds because their nature is less fluid than that of humans.

    Thanks again.

    So, what in order to threaten the entire multiverse, I would have to think that Tharizdun was once more powerful than The Master. And what if the Age ruled by Tharizdun wasn't isolated to Oerth, but was instead a universal Age? That would help explain the Rao myth that Rao created Celene and Luna "that they might gain guidance from the tyranny and darkness of an Age ruled by dread Tharizdun."
    GreySage

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    Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:28 am  

    aurdraco wrote:
    LGG also mentions "an Age ruled by dread Tharizdun." Which age was this? WG4 mentions that The Forgotten Temple was "built in a previous age, a secret place of worship to Tharizdun". If Tharizdun ruled, why did the temple need to provide a secret place of worship? The age he ruled must have preceded the age the temple was built, right? Re: when he was imprisoned, LGG says he hasn't been heard from in 1,000 years. That's not really that far back, imo, in the grand scheme of things.


    Age and aeon are synonyms, so Tharizdun must have been imprisoned more than one Age ago. I'd discount the Age of Great Sorrow as being relevant to this counting, since that seems like a lesser sort of Age. Vecna Lives counts the imprisonment of Kas in Citadel Cavitius as day one of the present Age by Vecna's reckoning and the Oerth Journal timeline counts the Rain of Colorless Fire as the end of the Age of Legends; those two events are only a few years apart.

    The adventure "Hopeful Dawn" in Dungeon #41 describes a mythological age of darkness (it isn't called that in the adventure, it's just called "an era of despair and suffering under Tharizdun") in which Tharizdun tempted humanity into evil and in retribution Rao plunged the world into eternal night before creating the moons and driving away Tharizdun's fiends for the sake of the virtuous few.

    WG4 describes a time when Tharizdun's temple in the Yatils was creating a nuisance for surrounding nations, but it seems like a local threat rather than a threat to the world or multiverse. I think this was long after Tharizdun's original imprisonment, with the cult in contact with one of Tharizdun's avatars rather than his true self. This is what Gygax said in the interview "22 Questions on Tharizdun " http://web.archive.org/web/20090131064024/http://mux.net/~ulmo/greyhawk/tharizdun.html

    Quote:
    Q11: From your text above, when would you say was the Temple in the Yatils Mountains was constructed?

    I had in mind that it was built not long after the Suel-Bakluni Wars. While I hadn't contemplated the cyclical energy release for T, this does indeed seem to mesh with such a notion.

    Again, in the module, I considered the "Tharizdun" worshipped by the temple builders as an avatar of the true one imprisoned long before that time. What I was thinking of, though, is another, lesser "crusade" by the Good-aligned deities (sans Neutral) against a strong Avatar calling itself Tharizdun, the alliance of deities chaining and packing off that extension of the greater, so as to keep the prison from being rupture by the growing presence of the greatest evil one in the general cosmos (and its center, the world of man, of course:).


    When the LGG said he hadn't been heard from in a thousand years, I think they're saying it's been a thousand years since he's formed a major avatar, and a thousand years since his cult has made itself publicly known, not 1,000 years since the god's initial imprisonment or 1,000 years since the age when he ruled over a world of darkness.

    Quote:
    Re: the Gord books, iirc, Oerth is destroyed and a new world is created. As a result, I don't consider Gordhawk to be canonical. However, your point about Proctor Chronos, Lord Entropy, Lady Tolerance, and Tharizdun as divine rank 21+ is interesting. Not sure if I would include the other three in a grand cosmology; have they ever been mentioned outside of the novels?


    They've only been mentioned in that one novel to my knowledge, but if you're looking for a take on overdeities with a Gygaxian pedigree, that one exists.

    I think demihumans have the same free will and ability to change and evolve culturally that humans have, but their longer lifespans and slower reproduction rates mean their cultures change more slowly.

    I've come up with a number of schemes to associate nonhuman deities with their human counterparts, but it's sometimes hard to settle on a single set of correspondences.
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    Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:34 am  

    Thanks again for the detailed response. Interesting interview!

    Gygax interview wrote:
    Q3: Is he trapped in the "Demiplane of Imprisonment" from the description in _Manual of the Planes_?

    I don't think that the work cited is well thought out in this regard. If there was such a plane, it would be too well-known, and far too simple a matter to visit and pull a jail break, so to speak. Instead, envision if you will an infinite cosmos, and the potential to create all manner of new dimensional sets so removed from probabilities that a search of the combinations would take an eternity to complete but a fraction of the possibilities.

    In short, the combination imprisoning Big T created a special isolation cell, as it were, and contained the major portion of this entity therein.


    I must have read this in the past and thought he meant an empty universe or something. Anyhow, interesting that he didn't like the Demiplane of Imprisonment idea; hard to say whether he doesn't like the concept (because then he describes a similar concept) or that it's relatively easy to find, or both. Ugh.

    The interview also discussed the 1000 year cycles, avatars, etc. Good stuff.
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    Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:32 pm  

    A-Baneful-Backfire wrote:
    For my purposes Tharizdun is of its own kind, and desires to destroy every aspect of the game environment.


    So, are you saying Tharizdun is Lorraine Williams? ;)
    GreySage

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    Wed Mar 30, 2016 5:35 pm  

    One thing I've been considering, reviewing the Oerth Journal #1 timeline, is that maybe Arinanin, the lich-king who once ruled the Suel lands before, after being overthrown, establishing the temple of Tharizdun in the Yatils, is actually the avatar of Tharizdun if you define avatar as something a once-mortal can be transformed into. He's kind of an interesting Sauron-like figure. Perhaps after sowing terror across the Yatils for generations the forces of good bound him, and it's his shape that later cultists discovered imprisoned in the Black Cyst.
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    Wed Mar 30, 2016 5:37 pm  

    Awesome thread and great comments from everyone. Several questions I had on the subject were addressed and some new ideas came to light that I'll probably use sometime.

    Also, BlueWitch....hilarious.lol
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    Thu Mar 31, 2016 3:08 am  

    People often get a bit too hung up on defining everything. It is a fantasy world. Most background doesn't need to be explained down to the finest bit of minutiae. In fact, very little of it needs to be explained. The gods are not just very powerful, stat-able creatures, and it is irrelevant to rigidly define everything about them - gods are not supposed to be completely understood. It is unimportant to know much about them at all, but about their churches and clergy, well, that is actually important when role-playing/encountering characters who serve them. As such we can define what the character's beliefs are (and such beliefs very much must not necessarily represent the truth of anything) and how the powers of the gods work in the world, but we shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that every single system of belief, even within the same pantheon, need conform to a single sensible whole. We simply do not need to define the gods in such a way, and every faith - even those within the same pantheon - can have their own unique and often conflicting stories about why things are the way they are (which has everything to do with how each particular faith perceives things to be, and not much else). Having an over-god is fine, but not having one is fine too, and Greyhawk does not have one. The gods simply only need to be. The big question is, "Why are the gods as they are?", but we don't need to reason out an ECTHED IN STONE answer to that question, because then it isn't "The Big Question" anymore, and nobody needs to know the answer to it anyways, so quit this fumbling about with things that are beyond mortal comprehension, because it all doesn't universally have to make sense! Laughing

    Okay, enough of that. You’ve all succeeded in twisting my arm. Laughing Where the fun comes in, for me at least, is not in defining everything as it actually is (because the "truth" of it matters not at all), but in defining what the followers of each of the gods believes to be "The Ultimate Truth". To this end, we don't need a single uniform plan as to why everything is as it is, and so I offer you a version of what a very few learned mortals might believe to be the truth of Tharizdun's origins and nature, and the nature of most things. Maybe there even is some truth (or just "truth") in it, even if that distinction matters not at all! Wink

    Ah, Tharizdun! How to not use thee much in my campaign, and yet have your presence pervade all things… Evil Grin Laughing

    “In the beginning (because there always has to be a beginning, doesn’t there? NO, THERE DOESN’T, but pitiful mortal minds can’t understand the lack of such a concept, and so we must include it! rolleyes Laughing), the gods did manifest from the Primordial Chaos of Being, imposing order upon it (yes, even the gods of chaos imposed their own various brands of "order" upon things!). While the gods were doing this, one god in particular seemed to the other gods to be whiling away his time doing much of nothing, but they were mistaken. Rather than spending his time imposing his will upon the raw stuff of Being and forming it like the others were, Tharizdun spent his time simply gathering to himself the bits of it that every other god seemed, for the most part, to be ignoring. These mostly unwanted bits, and there were nearly as much of them as everything else combined, began to coalesce into cold, darkness, madness, oblivion, and...oh yes...evil, among other things. Unknown to the others, and from nearly the beginning of all things, the other gods had taken in bits of the raw stuff of Being that Tharizdun had already become the master of, but had left “lying around” for the others to “claim”. Yes, you can almost hear a “MUHAHUHUHUHAHAHAhahahahaha…” echoing in the distance, can’t you? Okay, you actually can hear it. Yep. There it is. Just…there. Happy

    Anyways, the gods were pleased in the main with The Great Creation as it progressed, all of them combining their efforts to bring together the primordial forces they had power over to form the Prime Material Plane. They agreed that it would only be fair to apply their powers equally to such a creation, and so they did, though Tharizdun only seemed to contribute very little. Afterwards, some of the gods wanted to create more, and so began to form additional planes composed of what each of them held power over. Thus began the formation of the outer and inner planes, and as one plane was created, its opposite was soon created by other gods, until the multiverse was balanced and complete, with all of the powers represented therein. In this way the seeds of alliances and enmities were being sown, though Tharizdun, for his part, took no sides in anything. Tharizdun seemed to be even less involved in the creation of the additional planes, and yet tired still more easily than before, though he did not seem to have done much of anything, and so the other gods mistook his exhaustion for lassitude, or outright weakness. Tharizdun didn’t seem to be pleased or unpleased with the results, or even conscious of his perceived weakness. The other gods were unable to comprehend him, and those that might have made no effort to do so.

    The truth of the matter was that Tharizdun was using more of his power than any other single god, as portions of what he was master of were used by many of the other gods in the creation of nearly all things. Every time another god used some bit of creation that Tharizdun already held mastery over and had let them acquire, they unknowingly acted on his behalf, and doing so drew power from Tharizdun, and so he tired more quickly than any of the other gods, but none knew the reason why; they assumed that he was simply weak. Various gods who had taken in much of the power that Tharizdun was master of unknowingly found themselves influenced by Tharizdun, and many of their inclinations to do certain things were nudged along, or subsequently altered by, the will of Tharizdun. But it wasn’t so much that Tharizdun had gained mastery over any of the other gods, merely a portion of their power, but he did have a degree of mastery over nearly all they had created, including the Primordial Races of the burgeoning Prime Material Plane, many of who were formed from bits of the power Tharizdun was the master of. The will of Tharizdun had been subtly manifested all along, in nearly all things.

    The gods were satisfied with "their" creation, and those that were concerned with such things (and even those not so concerned) could see a balance being established in Creation, and the necessity for it, but little did any of them they know that the influence of Tharizdun had so insidiously crept into The Great Creation, for here there was some darkness and there some cold, and while madness only had the potential to touch anything, everything had once been nothing, and could become so again. The touch of Tharizdun was upon nearly the whole of Creation.

    As the Primordial Races of the Prime Material Plane began to echo the conflicts of their creators and so come into conflict themselves, the various powers came to the aid of their creations. These miniscule beings seemingly had the power to influence their creators, which Tharizdun found amusing, and having a portion of his power spread among nearly all things, he began to exert it. As he was wont to do, Tharizdun casually exerted his influence, and the creations of the others began to dance to his whims. Worship of the other gods became worship of him, as minds here and there from among all of the lesser beings of the Prime Material Plane given the gift of the merest glimpse into the mind of Tharizdun, and so, in small, scattered groups, they fell down in worship of him, forgetting their own creators and tapping into the slivers of influence of Tharizdun that pervaded their beings, if only in small bits. The various powers could not help but eventually take notice of this, and they began to not only question what Tharizdun was doing, but how he was able to do it.

    When the gods eventually confronted Tharizdun he was unconcerned, and so continued with his amusements. When the great god of the Scaly Races could stand no more of his meddling, he struck out at Tharizdun, and was obliterated with a gesture, for the great god of the Scaly Races had taken in much of the power that Tharizdun was already the master of, and so he was undone and consumed, and forgotten. Only the few servant powers of the great god of the Scaly Races remained to guide their creations. In response to this, a group of gods combined their power to move against Tharizdun, and those who had unknowingly taken in too much of what belonged to Tharizdun were likewise snuffed out, while those who had taken in less were diminished to be lesser or near to nothing, and so they were all likewise cast down and consumed by Tharizdun, and were forgotten, their followers falling into worship of other gods, or of the more recent powers than had manifested from the concentrated powers that made up the other planes.

    The remaining gods eventually figured out what had occurred, and realized that they could not simply annihilate Tharizdun, for tendrils of his power extended to many of them, and to nearly all of Creation, and to pluck the thread of Tharizdun would lead not only to the lessening or outright destruction of themselves, but to the unraveling of the whole tapestry of Creation itself. And so they had to come up with plan to remove the threat that Tharizdun posed, but without destroying him. And so a most clever prison, devoid of the merest portion of anything Tharizdun had power over, did the gods then fashion…

    ***

    As the power of the Slumbering God is in most things, even if only in some small way, even imprisoned he has the power to influence the world and those in it. Though he has been imprisoned for millennia, cults of the Dark God seemingly spring up from nowhere, their members being drawn to concentrations of Tharizdun’s power. Most such concentrations of power were hidden away long ago by the other gods, and in most cases only the most arcane of rituals can open paths to them. Such is Tharizdun’s unadulterated power that those who find these paths are often consumed by what they find at path’s end, and those that do return are not as they were before. Ultimately, these cults seek the release of their Dark God, and otherwise work to use the influence of their master, which pervades nearly all aspects of Creation, to undermine it in revenge, and so they are the enemies of the followers of all of the gods.

    As to the Far Realms, there is no such place/plane as the Far Realms. What the Far Realms actually is are the dreams of Tharizdun made manifest, and from them come nameless, unfathomable horrors that have somehow gotten loose (a soul-chilling thought in and of itself). If any of these...things...from the "Far Realms" have any commonality with other powers, it is only because those other powers were subverted and remolded to their new form by the will of the Slumbering God, for it is no mere coincidence that such...things...are usually associated with cold, darkness, madness, evil, or the void in some way. Evil Grin
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    Last edited by Cebrion on Tue Apr 05, 2016 10:54 pm; edited 2 times in total
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:34 am  

    Cebrion wrote:
    ... yes, even the gods of chaos imposed their own various brands of "order" upon things!


    This was all good, but I especially like this point. Chaos may be chaos. but it's definitely not nothingness. This is what separates Tharizdun and his devoted followers from pretty much every other being -- god, fiend, elemental, celestial, or mortal -- in the multiverse.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:11 pm  

    Who art thou, to ask that which should not be asked?
    Who art thou, to know that which should not be known?
    I recognize in thou the folly that drew in a thousand fools before me,
    And the folly that shall draw in a thousand more after.

    The knowledge of the beginning and end of all things,
    The Dark Lord, Dread Tharizdun.

    An entity in times long past-Istus, Lady of Fates? Beory, Oerthly Mother?
    None can say for sure.
    Such an entity gave rise to life, to existence, to good and to evil,
    To all the beings we worship today as gods.

    But no thing can exist without its opposite-good without evil, light without dark, oerth without air, fire without water.
    So too, out of existence and fate, did come entropy and nihilism.

    So too, was the Dark Lord conceived,
    So too, did his rage, hate and malice know no bounds.
    For he was a living paradox, something that should not exist and yet did,
    This was the depraved truth, the obscene lie, that defined him.

    Thus did the Dark Lord seek to destroy all existence, including himself, to destroy the existence that infuriated him,
    And the existence that contradicted his own nature.

    Thus did the Dark Lord commit a further paradox,
    Giving rise to minions who aided him in his efforts to destroy the original entity and the gods it left in its wake.
    Evil divinity joined with Good, eschewing previous conflicts,
    Despite their nature, the Evil gods sought still to exist, contrary to the Dark Lord's nihilism.

    This further paradox, irony upon irony, infuriated the Dark Lord still more,
    Causing him to redouble his efforts, so that life and all of existence would suffer.

    For eternity the battle might have raged,
    Were it not for the sacrifice of a single solar.
    Plunging into the depths of the Dark Lord's maw,
    He sacrificed himself so that existence might live.

    Sickened was the Dark Lord by yet another paradox,
    The sacrifice of life and passage into death so that others might live.

    At last was the Dark Lord laid low, and his minions laid down with him.
    At last was the Imprisoning War successful,
    At last the Age of Night came to an end.
    At last was the Dark Lord imprisoned and entrapped.

    The Dark Lord's minions were locked 'neath the Black Ice, screaming to be free,
    The Dark Lord himself imprisoned somewhere none can say.

    Moradin crafted an adamant prison to entrap him,
    Nerull promised death to any who drew near to him,
    Corellon cast spells of warding on the prison,
    Incabulos tormented him with nightmares to keep him asleep,
    Pelor ensured no light would reveal his location,
    Gruumsh and Annam forced his prison into the furthest reaches of beyond,
    Garl hid the way with illusions and false riddles,
    Yondalla grew thick covers to obscure him,
    Magblubiyet cursed any who learned of his location to die in war,
    Rao gave insight that he should not be disturbed,
    All these gods and more played their part.

    For their efforts in fighting the Dark Lord's minions,
    And for the blood they shed to exist,
    The Oerth Mother rewarded many a colleague.
    She shared the gift of life with good and evil alike.

    Gods good and evil gave rise to new beings,
    Divided by alignment, united in desiring to exist.

    So does the Dark Lord now slumber,
    Though his legacy remains still yet.
    The lower planes, the devils, demons and demodands did he retch after imbibing the solar,
    Foul creatures that bear his taint.

    Such horrors, but pale shadows of Dread Tharizdun's might, so that they might be slain by mortals,
    Cannot be so by the gods, bound as they are to the very nature of the planes.

    The gods of evil could not dislodge the demon lords or arch-devils,
    And but dwell as tenants upon the lower planes,
    These creatures, so unlike their original creator and like his enemies,
    Are yet another of Dread Tharizdun's cruel paradoxes.

    Even as the Dark Lord sleeps, he manifests still upon this Oerth,
    Such that Forgotten Temples arise in his name, until he is driven back again.

    The Mother, the Elemental Eye, the Egg of Coot...
    Be these creatures spawn of the Dark Lord?
    Be they minions who escaped imprisonment 'neath the Ice?
    If such is the truth, what other horrors now dwell within and without upon the Oerth?

    Know thou, then the truth of the Dark Lord,
    That his existence allows yours, that should he be destroyed, so shall you.

    Such is the paradox of the Dark Lord,
    The depraved truth, the obscene lie,
    Irony upon irony rose in his wake,
    Adding further to his malice and anger.

    So do good and evil struggle,
    So do light and black come together and fade into gray.

    One final bidding, to honor the Dark Lord befittingly.
    Never must his name be uttered without first adding the honorific "Dread".
    Such was part of the spell of imprisoning,
    Woe and damnation to those who fail to pay the Dark Lord his due respect!


    Last edited by CruelSummerLord on Fri Apr 15, 2016 3:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Tue Apr 05, 2016 4:46 pm  

    Luz wrote:
    rasgon wrote:
    That quote refers to Shothragot, the herald of Tharizdun who has been dormant since the time of the Twin Cataclysms. Shothragot's sleep will end and Shothragot will appear, then he will attempt to bring forth his master. https://index.rpg.net/display-entry.phtml?articleid=20154

    Cool, I've never seen that Dragon article before. Thanks for the correction and the link!


    There's more detail on Shothragot in Dragon #362.

    Quote:
    Shothragot is a special case, for this dreadful horror's origins trace back to the Invoked Devastation and the Rain of Colorless Fire, when Tharizdun's servants summoned forth his avatar for the last time. Whether or not its appearance compelled the use of appalling magic that brought death and devastation to hundreds of thousands is a matter of debate, but what is known is that almost as fast as the avatar appeared, so too did he vanish after the wrought destruction. Most scholars suspect the avatar was destroyed in the conflagration, but in truth, it was weakened, dreadfully so, and the powerful energies unleashed left the avatar crippled. Thus it fled into the bowels of the earth, where it waited.


    The articles don't say so explicitly, but there's a strong implication that Shothragot slumbered beneath the Temple of All-Consumption from Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, in Mount Stalagos.
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    Sat May 07, 2016 4:25 pm  

    I personally base my ideas of Tharizdun on the original ideas of Its creators. Tharizdun was Gary's interpretation of Kuntz's Tharzduun, which was in turn Kuntz' version of Clark Ashton Smith's Thaisadon. Smith being a devout acolyte and friend of Lovecraft, Thaisadon was created in the mold of Lovecraft's Great Old One or Outer God-type beings. Kuntz was a big fan of inserting Lovecraftian influences into D&D (as with his inclusion of the Cthulhu Mythos in the original Deities & Demigods) and of using Lovecraftian themes of being driven mad from uncovering ancient beings of chaos and evil and discovering secrets Man Was Not Meant to Know. At the very least, they were absolutely going for a Lovecraftian feel to Tharizdun, if not origin.

    I imagine Tharizdun wanting to cause something like a Vacuum Metastability Event*, where the base "vacuum energy level" (the lowest possible resting energy point) of the universe drops out and resettles at a lower level, essentially destroying physics and rewriting all physical laws as the universe reconfigures itself along its new baseline lowest point energy level. This would absolutely destroy the universe, leading to something new and completely unknowable to form in its place over the following billions of years as the new universe forms around a new set of physics. This also fits in with Tharizdun's theme of cold and the supernatural chill of Its temples, as if It were always seeking to force those areas to reach absolute zero temperature in an attempt to break through to below A0 to form a bubble nucleation that would then spread out and cause the rest of the universe to collapse.


    (*Imagine having a closet full of junk. You toss in a big armful of junk and it somehow all wedges between the walls of the closet at a point maybe a foot above the floor, forming a new "floor" above the actual lowest point in the closet. But then you keep piling other things on top of that junk, maybe even building a Lego castle on top of it just for fun, and the closet gradually fills up based on that false "floor" of junk a foot above the actual floor. But if something happened and one of those pieces of junk wedged in at the bottom were moved, this "floor" would collapse and everything would fall to the actual floor. That's the basic idea, that our universe could possibly be configured like that, and at any moment the bottom of the universe could drop out and all of physics would just collapse. Just an idea, but kind of a cosmically nightmarish one.)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_vacuum#Vacuum_metastability_event
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Sat May 07, 2016 6:32 pm  

    Wow! Don't mess with Tharizdun!

    Hmm. The system may be auto-banning people. Could be for a good reason, or not though. This is two in a short amount of time, so I'll look into it.

    Carry on.

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    GreySage

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    Wed May 11, 2016 7:01 am  

    I've always found Maldin's take interesting. Any of you familiar with it? Confused
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    Wed May 25, 2016 7:32 pm  

    Tharizdun's named as Dark God by Rob Kuntz in the Dark Druids adventure too: http://www.chaotichenchmen.com/p/dark-druids-by-robert-j-kuntz.html
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    Sun Jul 17, 2016 12:25 pm  

    Longish post ahead. After reading Scott Sz's Cold Text Files posts on the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun a few years back, I did a bit of my own close reading and thinking. Most of this is based on that module and the very limited mention of T in Guide to the World of Greyhawk (I have a cordial dislike of subsequent GH treatment of the deity).

    Notes from the Guide:
    *Tharizdun is listed as a greater god. Is this despite his imprisonment, or what he would be without it? If he remains “greater” despite his imprisonment, imagine his power if unfettered...
    *Racial origin: unknown. One of two such gods with this designation, the other being Wastri; this supports the notion of Tharizdun's alien origin (see below).
    *Attributes: Eternal Darkness, Decay. While not stating "annihilation of the universe" explicitly, these are things we might have after such an event. I'd propose that Tharizdun was willing to play a very long game, snuffing out stars and life along the way, rather than seeking a single multiverse-wide cataclysmic event. Also, decay suggests to me radioactive decay, something Scott and I both saw as implicit in the Forgotten Temple.
    *Alignment: Evil. Just evil. The only deity so designated. No attention paid to the law/chaos axis – just EVIL.

    OK. A little on the origins. Let me sum up. My basic idea, derived from details in the module, is that Tharizdun's worship was brought to Oerth by beings from another world far distant in space (or another Crystal Sphere, if you use that cosmology). This world orbited a black hole or something like it - possibly the prison of Tharizdun or its physical manifestation on the prime. This is the Black Sun of the Temple's religious imagery; its light was the inspiration for the "black light" effect in the great cavern (the alien founders could "see" radiation). The various unknown stone and metals found in the Temple were brought to Oerth from this world, on which "sunlight" was unknown and starlight was cursed.

    The module contradicts itself in a couple places, which I chalk up (in-world) to the malleability of myth. Here's the basic outline I came up with:
    Deep primordial past: alliance of gods traps Tharizdun into a black hole/neutron star/black sun body (the T-object)
    The Builders come to dwell on a world orbiting the T-object, and worship it
    The T-object releases an avatar (at least one)
    The Builders and avatar depart the black sun world for Oerth
    The Builders and avatar construct the temple, possibly with stone brought from the black sun world; the avatar is responsible for the super-high level stuff (indestructibility, black sun effects, undertemple and its ability-raising powers, the 4-faced statue, chapel effects)
    The temple cult grows, drawing evil folk in; they also travel the lands, seeking recruits and establishing cells; goal is to send soul-energy to the T-object enabling it to grow and possibly to shatter, releasing Tharizdun entirely
    Priests (and possibly mages) of the gods in the original alliance attack the temple; at least some of the Builders are absent (assuming they are still alive, which I think is likely)
    The altar is destroyed or removed from the chapel, and the avatar retreats to the undertemple
    The priests reach the undertemple and battle the avatar
    The priests defeat the avatar and imprison it in the Black Cyst, using extreme cold to contain its radiation and heat (all areas of extreme cold in the temple are the work of the alliance)
    The alliance perishes, their bodies consumed by the deific energies channeled through them
    The absent Builders return and seek the avatar
    They discover the means to build the magical stair to the Cyst
    They create the floor, stone block, pedestal, and possibly more accoutrements of the Cyst
    They also create the Lament and its packaging
    The Builders perish, their souls going to join the T-object; the remaining human priests inter them in the great sarcophagi
    The human priests begin to steal Gems (though careful to replace them with lesser jewels) and depart the temple
    Eventually, without the power of the avatar and the builders, the cult dwindles and dies out, with Wongas the last priest
    Perishable items decay, while things wrought by the avatar or builders remain
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    Wed Jul 20, 2016 8:22 am  

    Great insights Chevalier. I hadn't thought about some of your points before. This is a topic that creates great conversation.
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