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    The Shadow of Iuz
    Posted on Thu, September 11, 2003 by Legate
    MerricB writes "Iuz is one of the most well known villains of Greyhawk - but should he be? This article looks at the knowledge that folk of various lands have of the evil cambion/demi-god. Attention is given to three different eras: of the original Greyhawk boxed set (576 CY), of the time of From the Ashes (585 CY) and of the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (591 CY).

    The Shadow of Iuz
    By: MerricB
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    The Shadow of Iuz
    by Merric Blackman

    There would be few in the Flanaess who have not heard of Iuz. However, the level of accurate information known in various areas should be widely varying in quality. For the people of Furyondy, Iuz is a definite threat, something that they must always be aware of. For the people of the Great Kingdom, Iuz is a tale from far away - although his agents and priests may be occasionally seen.

    Three areas of time are standard for beginning Greyhawk campaigns: about 576 CY (the 1983 Greyhawk boxed set), about 585 CY (From the Ashes boxed set), and 591 CY (Living Greyhawk Gazetteer). Because the Empire of Iuz is viewed differently at each of these dates, I have endeavoured to give you some guidelines for each of them. The guidelines are primarily for human characters: demi-human characters with longer lifespans should be extrapolated from the descriptions given here and in the original source material (especially the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer).

    The areas covered are by no means exhaustive, but rather as general areas of knowledge about Iuz.

    Furyondy, Veluna and the Shield Lands

    576 C.Y. As Iuz had been absent from his lands from 505-570 C.Y., for most PCs beginning their careers, they would have grown up with Iuz being only a legendary figure from their fairytales: "The Old One who ruled the evil Northlands", or some similar description. Certainly they would be aware of the evil humanoids and men that lived in this area, and of the Horned Society that sought to bend it to their will, but of the true terror of Iuz, they would be unaware.

    Iuz's return in 570 CY would have caused a brief stir within these lands bordering the Empire, but because Iuz's attention was initially consumed by regaining his Empire, still the folk of these lands would be more worried by the day to day problems of life.

    A new human character (of about 20 years of age), would know legends of "the Old One", and of his orcish hordes, but little more.

    These legends would probably include tales of his parentage, of his rise to control his Empire, and his power and cruelty, though all distorted, of course!

    585 C.Y. After the Greyhawk Wars, there would be few in these areas who was not aware of Iuz! For most of their lives, Iuz would have been a constant threat. Many will have lost kinfolk in the Wars, and so their hatred towards Iuz would be quite terrifying in its intensity. Indeed, as Iuz has invaded and captured much land in these areas, it is quite likely the PCs' families have been dispossessed of their homes.

    Rumours in wartime being what they are, would provide much misinformation about Iuz. That he eats babies, is ten feet tall, is a being of demonic heritage, shows no mercy to those he captures, and that his sole intention is to annihilate all other beings on Oerth are the least of what new characters would believe - most would be true, of course, as Iuz is that terrifying a being.

    591 C.Y. By this stage, Iuz has been the number one threat to these bordering kingdoms for almost twenty years. Most of what applies for 585 CY still applies, only with more intensity. However, the Flight of Fiends and its consequences for Iuz, has improved the morale of most of those of these beleagured lands.

    The Vesve Forest and Highfolk

    576 C.Y. The elves of the Vesve have lived now for many centuries with the threat of Iuz. With their longer memories, his return is of far more import than to the human lands of Furyondy, Veluna and the Shield Lands. Due to their lower numbers, the elves have a more defensive mindset - and have been battling against encroaching humanoids for decades in any case. The average new character will be fairly well informed as to Iuz's origins as a cambion who has gained much power amongst the humanoids of the Northlands; most elves will be caught between the opposing desires to flee the threat and to defend their homes.

    585 C.Y. By this time, the Vesve has been greatly hurt by the wars, and much of it has been abandoned by the elves and other goodfolk, Highfolk itself holds many refugees. PCs knowledge of Iuz will be similar to that of 576 CY, but will also possess the knowledge that their homes have been taken from them. A new character is likely to either fear Iuz greatly or wish to fight his forces with a great amount of recklessness.

    591 C.Y. Things have not improved by now for these areas. New characters should follow the notes for 585 C.Y., only the sense of hopelessness amongst the elves has probably increased.

    The Bandit Kingdoms

    576 C.Y. Life in the Bandit Kingdoms is chaotic at best, and stories of Iuz are a favourite tale of mothers to their children. ("Be good or Iuz will get you!") Unfortunately, most adults have been brought up to discount tales of his power, and so most new characters from this area are probably dismissive of Iuz.

    585 C.Y. By this stage, much of the Bandit Kingdoms have been incorporated into the Empire of Iuz. New characters from this area either know Iuz as an overbearing overlord, or have fled for better areas.

    591 C.Y. As for 585 C.Y.

    The Wolf Nomads and the Rovers of the Barrens

    576 C.Y. Tales of Iuz has been told and retold around the campfires by the elders, so all new characters from this area are informed as to how terrible Iuz can be - although the factual details of these tales is likely to be greatly distorted. Iuz's return has not greatly perturbed most of the clan chiefs, but individual members may take this occurence more seriously. The Horned Society is perceived as the greater threat at this period of time.

    585 C.Y. The full might of Iuz has become apparent to these peoples by now. Their superstitious tendencies will have been fully aroused by the fiends Iuz has at his beck and call, so new characters are likely to greatly fear Iuz and his powers, as well as having many tales (mostly wrong or exaggerated) about his powers.

    591 C.Y. Though by now Iuz has lost the services of the fiends, his name has lost none of its potency. That the Nomads were roused into an ill-conceived attack upon the Empire of Iuz will indeed intensify the tales, and new characters from this time will be well fortified by many tales of Iuz's cruelty and power.

    The Free City of Greyhawk

    576 C.Y. Members of Iuz's clergy have long plotted and sought wealth and magic in the Free City and its ruined Castle, so the name of Iuz is hardly unknown to those in the Free City - although actual factual tales of his capabilities are.

    585 C.Y onwards. Iuz is no mystery at all to the Free City, although they wish he was. The common folk avoid speaking his name, although Iuz is not something they think about overmuch. In the minds of the rulers of the Free City, Iuz is increasingly important.

    The Sheldomar Valley

    576 C.Y. Tales of Iuz would have been told to new characters in these regions, but such would be lesser than the tales of Giants and other terrors more specific to these areas. New characters will know of Iuz's name and possibly that he has returned to his lands far to the north, but little more.

    585-591 C.Y. By now, Iuz's name is known by everyone, though more details would be wildly varying and inaccurate.

    The Great Kingdom

    576 C.Y. The inward-looking Great Kingdom is generally unaware of the very existence of Iuz! Perhaps some characters have heard the name from a couple of "Legends from the West", but little more. New characters related to diplomats would have more information, but still little when compared to Furyondian inhabitants or even those of the Sheldomar Valley.

    585-591 C.Y. Iuz's name would now be known - but primarily as a distant threat in the west, rather than someone who imperils the very Kingdom; indeed the Great Kingdom has its own problems by this stage, and such are more important than any half-baked stories of a cambion ruler!

    Lands further away have probably not even heard of Iuz; certainly in the south-east and the Spindrift Isles, the name of Iuz is only known to collectors of tales and history.

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    Re: The Shadow of Iuz (Score: 1)
    by Osmund-Davizid ( on Wed, February 11, 2004
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    Neat idea for an article! I like the break down of the different time periods and areas of the world. This is news you can use no matter where or at what time period you play. It gives some practical flavor to what news bards, sages, and adventurers would know.

    Another organization that would be neat to treat in this manner would be the Scarlet Brotherhood, tracing how they rose from obscurity to the present day scourge of the south.

    Good article.

    Re: The Shadow of Iuz (Score: 1)
    by GVDammerung on Tue, August 10, 2004
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    I really like the thought in this article! Very nicely done. Iuz is usually so monolithic; this is a well thought out change of pace. I still find Iuz vastly overdone, however. A GH cliche. This is the best attempt to "save" Iuz that I have seen (even if that wasn't the intent).


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