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    Posted on Sat, November 26, 2005 by Dongul
    rasgon writes "
    Nerull is the Flannae god of death and darkness. The antitheses of Pelor in the great cosmic dance, he is the deity of all those who seek greatest evil for their enjoyment and gain. The Gloom-King is not a god worshipped by most.

    NERULL (The Reaper), Foe of all Good, Hater of Life, Bringer of Darkness, King of all Gloom, and Reaper of Flesh
    Greater Power of Tartarus
    Portfolio: Death, Darkness, Murder, Underworld, Covert Activity
    Aliases: Infestix (in the Lower Planes)
    Domain Name: Carceri/Othrys/The Crypt
    Superior: none (was Tharizdun)
    Allies: Incabulos (loose allies), Archdevils, Unique 'daemons, Demogorgon, Apomps (triple god of demodands)
    Foes: Pelor, Life, and all Good
    Symbol: Skull and scythe
    Worshiper's Alignment: Any evil/ assassins, thieves, murderers, necromancers, humanoids

    Nerull is the Flanish god of death and darkness. The antitheses of Pelor in the great cosmic dance, he is the deity of all those who seek greatest evil for their enjoyment and gain. The Gloom-King is not a god worshipped by most. Traditionally, people look to their own gods for salvation, keeping Nerull's name alive through fear. Everyone knows that Nerull will snatch the soul weighted down with sin and unprotected by the patronage of another divinity and drag them into his hellish underworld. Nerull's image appears in the religious texts, church decoration, and passion plays of many faiths, but unlike Incabulos non-worshippers avoid giving him sacrifice of any kind, and avoid his shrines like Death itself.

    For most people then, Nerull's hold is not permanent. Instead, those Reaped are Sown to grow again; they go to the domains of their various gods or back to the womb of mother Beory to be reborn. There is no formal Last Judgment; Nerull simply drags down who he can. His worshippers are most often those who feel the Reaper's grasp is inevitable anyway, who hope they will by following the Hater in life they will at least receive better positions within his court when dead -- despicable villains, especially those who fall under the Reaper's spheres of control; murderers, for instance.

    Nerull must have murdered someone. He is the god of murder, after all. Some argue that he murders all mortals in time, but it's mythologically important that there also be a cosmic murder amongst the gods. Beory is the mother of all, birthing the spirits of tree and lake, wind and mountain, life and death, hearth and home, and the higher spirits of reason, but did she also spawn a consort?

    Did Nerull kill his father? If he did, he did so covertly, destroyed all the evidence and left even myth silent. His cult learns from this, and acts accordingly. Perhaps the doomed patriarch is one again with the all-mother, or perhaps he lies in Tartarus, forever tortured, forever being drained of blood by his traitorous son.

    Blood is a powerful force in Flannae cosmology. From the primal birthing blood of Beory, blood has symbolized life and the perpetuity of the cosmos. Clerics of Pelor speak of the proper flow of blood in the ideal healthy human form and of sunlight as the life force of the earth and sky congealing at dawn and dusk. Priests and druids of Obad-hai speak of the forest's blood, the oerth's blood, and the river's blood. Priests of Rao tell of the blood linking heart and mind. Elves are said by the Flan to be composed of blood and moonlight; orcs of blood and darkness. The Flan themselves claim to be made by the gods from blood and maize. Nerull's flock remembers the blood of sacrifice, and uses its power for the most corrupt purposes imaginable.

    The stuff of life circulates through all of all of reality. Emanating from the sun, the moons, and power points in the oerth, it sustains all that is. Nerull hopes that by releasing it from mortals and gathering it for himself, the cosmos will began to wither and fade until it is all within his domain, like the Glooms of Hades, the furnaces of Gehenna or Nerull's throne, located in the netherworld some scholars call Tartarus, Carceri, or the Red Prison. People everywhere pray to their gods to stave off this fate and keep Nerull below in what Nerull's faithful call the Crypt of Souls, for it is here that the god imprisons the damned.

    As well as their life force and blood, the Reaper gathers the individual personalities of the evil dead. Killers who fear the undying wrath of their victims often make sacrifices to Nerull:

    Forsaken dead
    Stay in your tombs
    Forsaken dead
    Stay in your Crypt
    Nerull shall bind thee
    Bind thee in blood

    These fears are justified, because the Nerullic priests -- Life Cutters -- have been known to animate the Undead with the souls of those their opponents most fear.

    Nerulliacs are well known for their practice of left-handed, or evil necromancy. Enemies of the cult and anyone buried in an accessible, little-visited area are animated as zombies and walking skeletons. Powerful victims are often made juju zombies; powerful followers might be forced to become zombie lords or better. Ancient priests have been known to be sent back from the underworld by Nerull to serve again as hecuvas or even liches.

    Nerull's underworld court is vast and complex, filled with ministers, proxies, warriors and officers filling various roles in the spirit realm. The monstrous shapes of 'daemons and demodands cover the Nerullic books of the dead, written to guide the damned through eternity.

    The major entities revered as servants or allies of Nerull are Anthraxus, Bubonis, Cholerix, Typhus, Diptherius, Asmodeus, Baalzebul, Moloch, Mammon, Geryon and Dispater. Belial is respected but not worshipped. Mephistopheles and Tiamat are the foci of unrelated cults. Apomps, the tripartiate god of the demodands, is usually considered a lesser aspect of Nerull himself. In actuality, it was probably originally three unique 'daemons. Nerull melted their flesh together using his magic, creating a bizarre and hideous greater being where once there were three. Syrul, goddess of lies, is often associated with 'daemonkind, as she frequents the same planes and encourages their love of deceit, but she rarely works with the Reaper.

    Does Nerull have a consort? While some iconographers have portrayed him with Ehlonna or Myrhiss in order to symbolize the death that comes to youth and beauty, he is normally considered to be a bachelor.
    It is thought that the Nerull's contact with Tharizdun in pre-time rendered him forever sterile. He is not able to create life, only twist it to his service.

    While Tharizdun is not well known or worshipped today, in the past the Dark God, as he is called, was the center of a thriving cult. It was Tharizdun who first lead young Nerull away from the neutral fold of his mother down the path of corruption, forcing Pelor to join the light to preserve the Balance. As the elder god's cult began to die out, many of his flock turned to Nerull as the more active source of power, and Nerull turned from a sulking member of a losing side to the force he is today. Still, if Tharizdun were free the Reaper of Flesh would be more powerful still, with the free energies of entropy run amok.

    Wee Jas is seen as an interloper who formed her own kingdom in a domain rightfully belonging to the King of all Gloom. Those who look to the Taker see her as the more ancient one: the true creatrix of mortality, the keeper of the dead's knowledge, and their judge, but most recognize Nerull as a malevolent force beyond their mistress' domain who must be avoided, and they thank her for her protection.

    The eternal struggle between Pelor and Nerull is like a vast game, with Obad-hai as referee. The ballgames played by children to this day, with the sweat, blood, running and kicking they entail, reflect the sun's journy through the underworld and mirror festival dances and mystery plays which reconstruct this battle. Only the druids believe they know the secret to its resolution; the fusion of life, death and rebirth into one thing, indivisible.

    Nerull’s Avatar (Cleric 16, Wizard 16, Assassin (rogue) 16, Thief 17)

    Nerull is a tall, gaunt, horrific figure, like an animate skeleton, bone devil, babau or ancient lich covered with leathery flesh the color of a well-used blood altar. His grinning face is adorned with thick, ropy black-green locks, and between them glare two eyes of lambent green the color of verdigris, matching his teeth and taloned nails. His scythe is red-veined sablewood with a blade of red-hued force -- the Life Cutter. His rusty-black cowled cloak blends into the night without edges. A daemonic presence formed of primal terror, Nerull stalks the many planes to reap the living and sow fear in the dead.

    AC -6: ; MV 15, 45 flying ; HP 400 ; THAC0 -3 ; #AT 1 (10' swath)
    D 5-30
    MR 100% ; SZ M (7' tall)
    Str 14; Dex 21; Con 21 ; Int 21 ; Wis 21 ; Cha 7
    Spells: 7/7/7/6/4/3/1
    Saves PPDM 4; RSW 6 ; PP 7; BW 10; Sp 7

    Special Att/ Def: The Reaper's avatar has infravision at 360' feet. He can be struct only by weapons of +2 or better. Nerull's scythe is a +5 weapon; it causes instant death unless his victim saves vs. Death. Regardless, the damage done by the blade cannot be magically cured short of a heal or similar high level spell. Double damage is done against positive energy using creatures; undead creatures struck save vs. spell or have their negative energy drained and crumble to dust, while their spirit travels to the Underworld (Hades, Gehenna, Hell, etc). The scythe sweeps 10' wide and 2 feet broad in an arc of about 180 degrees before Nerull; it can cut even into the Border Etherel or through color pools, and it is effective against those in gaseous form.

    Nerull can summon 3 demodands per round. Though they hate him, they serve him out of fear. His personal version of the ebony tendrils spell creates a 10' diameter clump that causes instant death to those it touches, saving throws and magic resistance allowing.

    Other Manifestations:

    Nerull's omens take the form of unexpected, horrible deaths involving lots of panicked gurgling and crying children and loved ones.

    The Church
    Clergy: Specialty Priests, Assassins, Necromancers
    Clergy’s Align.: any evil
    Turn Undead: SP no, Ass. no, Nec no
    Command Undead: SP yes, Ass. no, Nec by their own power

    Nerull's church is organized into multiple secret societies. Followers of the god of covert activity, they rarely act openly except in the most evil of lands. To join a cult of Nerull, an initiate must swear an oath of secrecy under penalty of death, and must prove her loyalty and devotion by slaying a close family member. Following a period of torture, the initiate is counted as a full member as long as she remains in "good" standing. Nerull's is actually often one of the most egalitarian of cults: orcs, ogre magi, elves and troglodytes are all let in without prejudice and usually given promotions according to their ability.

    Dogma: Nerull represents the antethesis of the Flan morality and virtue exemplified by Pelor, Rao, and Allitur. He is the inversion of society's rules in a perverse black mass engineered for the destruction of all. Such a powerful negative force is also a powerful attractant for those seeking might and influence without scruples. For these, the law of Nerull -- the destruction of law and the use of it to enforce form and structure on questionable goals -- has long been a plague on the night and society in general.

    Day-to-day Activities:
    Under cover of darkness, they enshroud the cities and countryside in a campaign of terror, plotting always to defeat the forces of good and please their evil master. Their secrecy only encourages their reputation; they wield rumor and ignorance as a weapon. They sometimes act as a secret shadow government in an otherwise innocuous village.

    Holy Days/ Important Ceremonies: Priests of Nerull must sacrifice a sentient being at least once a month. Priests of Nerull urge their flocks on to greater villainies on the Holy Day of Pelor during Midsummer's day.

    On Goodmonth 11th the Dark Night is celebrated with acts of murder, kidnapping and ritual sacrifice.

    Major Centers of Worship: Well known Nerullic cults include the Shriven Sickle in Greyhawk, which seeks, among other things, to undermine the church of St. Cuthbert there. The Midnight Darkness, active in Aerdy, is led by a mysterious figure known as the Hidden Sickle. This cult has recently been responsible for a series of extremely mysterious, grisly, and above all scary murders of various servants of good; apart from this they've kept themselves extremely secretive. Finally, Nerull worship was one of the primary faiths of the Horned Society, along with deviltry.

    There are a number of Nerullic cults across the Flanaess, but those are the best known.

    Places sacred to Nerull range from towering cathedrals to simple shrines hidden from prying eyes in dark cellars. Often, they are built in the mouths of caverns, symbolizing the entrance to Infestix's dark netherworld. Runes and glyphs of warning are carved nearby by those who discover such dark demesnes, and the cave entrances are collapsed if possible. Places of Nerull are filled with snuffed candles and icons or bas-reliefs of powerful figures in the Reaper's underworld system. The Kings of Hell, the Lords of Daemonkind, and so one are arranged according to their duties and positions. Like a twisted version of the rosters of Allitur, everything in the tumultuous realm of the Bringer of Darkness has its place. Uniting the images, in the center, a portrait of Nerull devours the souls of the dead with his gaping, fanged maw or cutting them down with his scythe. The altars are of rusty-colored stone. Service pieces are usually of copper and malachite.

    Affiliated Orders: Cults of Nerull often find themselves aligned with assassins' guilds and other groups that share similar interests, such as cults of Incabulos. Occasionally, the worship of Nerull will become an institutionalized part of a thief or assassins' organization, with clergy high in the ranks. Nerull has no "paladins," usually relying on rogues to carry out the Reaper's will.

    Priestly Vestments: During rites and summonings Life-Cutters dress completely in the colors of their faith: rust red, or blackish-rust. They carry staves, often tipped with rattles made from the skulls of children, and of course the unholy symbol of the skull and scythe.

    Adventuring Garb: In most situations, priests of Nerull go incognito. A hint of rust-red or blackish-rust is usually all that is required: enough to allow them to artfully hint at their dark alliance before killing someone, although most Life-Cutter's fashions wouldn't look out of place in a funeral full of mourning morticians. It's essential that people know the Nerulliacs are out there: it's also essential that no one knows exactly who they are. If the priest is going to display her unholy symbol openly, she will usually wear a mask. Even the Dread and Awful presences of the Horned Society never revealed their true identities; the mask -- the idea of Nerull -- is more important than the humanity behind it.

    Specialty Priests (Life-Cutters)
    Requirements: as priest
    Prime Req.: Wis
    Alignment: any evil
    Weapons: dagger, knife, sickle, great sickle (treat as hook-fauchard), staff, staff-sling, garotte
    Armor: any
    Major Spheres: Astral, Combat, Guardian, Healing (rev), Necromantic (rev), Sun (rev)
    Minor Spheres: Charm, Divination
    ADD: ebony tendrils, command, pass without trace, sanctuary, hold person, obscurement, withdraw, dispel magic, meld into stone, quest, part water, aerial servant, word of recall, cacodaemon, minor summoning, succor
    Magical Items: as cleric plus Staff of Withering, Necklace of Strangulation, Cloak of Poisonousness, Rug of Smothering, Bag of Devouring
    Bonus Profs.: Sickle
    Recommended Profs.: blind-fighting, disguise
    Required Profs.: none

    •1) blind-fighting and disguise costs as if they were from the Priest group
    •1) Surprised only on a 1.
    •6) Evard's black tentacles (as a 4th level magic-user)
    •12) destruction (reversed resurrection) 1/week

    Nerullic Spells

    2nd-level spells

    Animate Dead Plants
    Sphere: Plant
    Range: 80 yards
    Components: V, S, M
    Duration: 1 turn
    Casting Time: 7
    Area of Effect: 40-foot cube
    Saving Throw: Half

    Like a combination between animate dead and entangle, with this spell a priest can animate logs and dead or recently killed trees to ensnare her opponents. Any creature that rolls a successful saving throw vs spell can escape the area, moving at most 10 feet per round until out of harm's way. The undead plants have an unearthly chill about them that causes 1 point of damage for each round of contact. The material component is Nerull's holy symbol and a burnt oak leaf.

    Organ Tell
    Sphere: Necromantic, Divination
    Range: Touch
    Components: V, S, M
    Duration: Special
    Casting Time: 2 rounds
    Area of Effect: one organ
    Saving Throw: None

    This casting allows the priest to gain secret knowledge from organs she has removed from human bodies. Unlike speak with dead, the spell does not conjure up the spirit of the deceased, or anything sentient at all. The heart will be able to describe how regular its beats were, if its person was frightened or content or palpatic or obese, if it was wounded by a blade, etc: things a heart would know. A brain will be the most useful organ, but even it is merely a dead lump of meat without its spirit, so it will mainly be able to talk about only the gist of thoughts and memories the character had, and about what the pineal gland was up to. In addition, there is only a 30% chance that the right area of the brain was contacted; if the priest contacts the wrong half, the spell fails.

    The material component is a surgical knife.

    3rd-level spells

    Black Blood of Sacrifice
    Sphere: Necromantic
    Range: Touch
    Components: V, S, M
    Duration: 3 rounds+ 1/level
    Casting Time: 6
    Area of Effect: one open wound caused by the caster
    Saving Throw: Negates

    After cutting another person, blood boils up from the wound as an alien, tarlike substance. The priest can then direct it as she will (using her usual THAC0). This liquid sticks an attacking opponent on a roll of 1, giving the Nerullite a free attack. It is somewhat acidic, causing 1d4 points of damage per hit. Finally, it can be used to dispose fo the body (if there is one), converting it completely into black ooze at the normal rate of damage. The mess still remains as puzzling evidence, but that can be effective too, especially when one is framing a wizard.

    The material component is the aforementioned bloody wound, and a symbol of Nerull.

    Sphere: Healing (rev)
    Range: 12'
    Components: V, S, M
    Duration: instant
    Casting Time: 9
    Area of Effect: 5'
    Saving Throw: Negates

    A hideous keening erupts from the priest's throat, causing him 2d4 points of damage and preventing him from speaking for the rest of the day.

    This spell then causes old wounds on everyone (except priests of Nerull) within a 30' radius to open; the characters suffer all the damage they've suffered in the past 24 hours once again, whether it's healed yet or not.

    The spell can be countered by a bard.

    The material component is a severed human trachea or gouged-out pair of vocal cords.

    5th-level spell

    Sphere: Necromancy
    Range: touch
    Components: V, S, M
    Duration: permenent until destroyed
    Casting Time: 1 round
    Area of Effect: 1 soul
    Saving Throw: Negates

    After slaying a victim, this spell prevents her from ever being raised, resurrected, or reincarnated without a wish. Otherwise, the victim's soul stays in the priest's staff until that staff is destroyed. The staff must be made from materials and craft costing not less than 500 gp, including copper and malachite. The staff is not consumed in the casting, but a new one must be made for each soul captured.

    6th-level spells

    Silver Throat of Hell
    Sphere: Charm
    Range: 30 yards
    Components: V, M
    Duration: 4 turns + 4 turns/level
    Casting Time: 7
    Area of Effect: 1 creature/level
    Saving Throw: Negates

    This spell acts as a mass suggestion, with a few differences. First, it causes unbelievable pain to the victims (but, unlike daemonsong, not to the caster). Second, if they fail their saves, theylove the pain, and obey the caster in hopes of more. This is purely a role-playing difference.

    The priest's voice becomes haunting and beautiful, but it cuts into the ears of those who listen like rusty stilettos. The poor souls take 1d6 points of damage, and lose a point of strength every round the voice is heard (strength points are regained 1 per every round of silence).

    Undead are not subject to the spell.

    The material component is 1000 gp worth of silver, which is of course consumed by the casting.

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    Gygax, E. Gary; Monster Manual II; TSR Hobbies, Inc.
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    Hurbon, Laennec; Voodoo: Search for the Spirit; Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
    Johnson, Basil; The Manitous: the Spiritual World of the Ojibway; HarperCollins
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    Re: Nerull (Score: 1)
    by Tzelios on Tue, January 03, 2006
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    Very good write-up. Your understanding of Greyhawk theosophy is superb.

    Re: Nerull (Score: 1)
    by Tzelios on Tue, January 03, 2006
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    Even in the absence of the Purifier, Nerull's father would have some good faith, e, I mean luck.

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