Io (Dungeons & Dragons)

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Game background
Title(s) The Ninefold Dragon, The Concordant Dragon, The Great Eternal Wheel, Swallower of Shades, Lord of the Gods, Creator of Dragonkind
Home plane Outlands
Power level Greater
Alignment Neutral
Portfolio Creation
Domains Knowledge, Magic, Strength, Travel (plus Dragon and Wealth, and in Forgotten Realms: Spell)
Design details

In many campaign settings for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, Io is the chief deity worshipped by dragons, god of dragonkind, balance, and peace. He is seen by his people as the creator of all things. He is neutral in alignment, but he also contains within him all other alignments. His symbol is a multi-colored metallic disk.

Publication history[edit]

Io was first detailed in the book Monster Mythology (1992), including details about his priesthood.[1] Io was detailed for the Forgotten Realms campaign setting in Cult of the Dragon (1998).[2]

Io appears in 3rd edition in Defenders of the Faith (2000).[3] His priesthood and his role as a draconic deity are further detailed for this edition in Draconomicon: The Book of Dragons (2003),[4] Complete Divine (2004),[5] and Races of the Dragon (2006).[6]


Io is unfathomably large; it is said the largest dragon who ever lived is smaller than a single one of his scales, which are blue, gold, brass, or red, and edged with silver and dark purple. He can, and does, appear as any age or breed of dragon, however.


Io is paired with Chronepsis, who is seen as a re-enfolding that balances Io's extension of being into the worlds. As Io becomes all things, Chronepsis draws them back into himself. They are seen as brothers and represented in a complex symbol involving a nine-headed dragon swallowing its nine tails. Like Jazirian, Merrshaulk, and Shekinester, Io is an aspect of the World Serpent archetype.

In many campaign settings, the draconic pantheon of gods consists of the leader Io, as well as Aasterinian, Bahamut, Chronepsis, Astilabor, Hlal, Lendys, Faluzure, Garyx, Tamara and Tiamat. Aasterinian is his messenger.

Nathair Sgiathach is also said to be an offspring of Io, though he has no involvement with the rest of the draconic pantheon.

Some myths say Io raised the kobold god Kurtulmak to divinity.


Io cares for nothing but his children, dragonkind, as a whole. If an individual dragon jeopardizes the safety of the draconic races, he will oppose it. He prefers to remain aloof from conflicts between dragons, however.


Io is revered by dragons as the creator of the multiverse and of their race. He is also worshiped by some half-dragons, kobolds, lizardfolk, troglodytes, and even some humans.


Io has fewer clerics than most draconic deities, though even the most devout cleric of other dragon gods (and many of Kurtulmak) gives him some homage. Clerics of Io have no hierarchy or fixed dogma; each interprets the Ninefold Dragon differently, worshiping him in one of his many aspects. Red dragons worship him as an evil being, while gold dragons revere him as a paragon of good. Those who would become Io's clerics seek to rid themselves of all such biases, though some never succeed.


Dragon gods, in general, have few temples. There are shrines in Io's honor, usually taking the form of open-air constructions surrounded by pillars and topped with domes. These shrines are placed in open terrain - the middle of a desert, for example, the center of a valley, atop the peak of a mountain, or on a vast, treeless plain. There is one construct known as the "Shrine of Io', it is a massive dragon skeleton, large enough for any dragon to walk into. Within the shrine lies the sacred hoard, a massive treasure accumulated over time by offerings made by countless dragons to Io.


Io's rituals involve the blending of many things in a whole, reflecting Io's own nature. One common ritual involves drinking wine with a drop of blood from each participant dissolved in it.

Prayers to Io are deep and resonating, taking the form of supplication or (for half-dragons) plaintive questions.

Myths and legends[edit]

The Two Voids[edit]

Priests of Io make the distinction between the Shadow Void, which is the known multiverse, and the First Void, the hidden domain of pre-creation. In the First Void, Io existed alone. There was nothing else, and until Io willed it there could be nothing else. Io voluntarily shed some of his blood in the Shadow Void, which created the potential for other things to come into being. Only then could there be other gods and other creations. Most races know only of the Shadow Void, which is why they have no myths of Io.

Tiamat and Bahamut[edit]

According to a myth in Races of the Dragon, Io's first child was a small, simple-minded dragon called Vorel. Vorel's name means "beautiful" in Draconic, for beautiful it was, perfect of scale and form. Next Io created a pair of children, male and female he created them: Bahamut and Tiamat were their names. Io intended them to grow up and mate, producing children that combined the best traits of each. Instead, the two were immediate rivals, yet Io would not choose a favorite between them. After many failed schemes to make herself look better and Bahamut worse, Tiamat hatched a diabolical plan: she slew her sibling Vorel and framed Bahamut for the awful deed. Io, however, carefully sought out the truth, and sorrowfully banished his daughter Tiamat from his presence. Tiamat turned utterly to hatred and Evil, while her brother Bahamut, ever her rival, turned to Good in order to oppose her. So it was that Io lost three of his children: the first to death, the second to Evil, and the last to Good.

The Sleeping Deep Dragons[edit]

In the cores of some worlds are the Sleeping Deep Dragons, spiritual beings fathered by Io for purposes unknown. Occasionally, the Concordant Dragon will send an avatar to commune with their dreaming selves.

In Return to White Plume Mountain, a vast being called the Leviathan or the Swimmer Below is revealed to dwell in the core of the Oerth, and is said to have existed as long as the world. The Leviathan awoke only a few centuries ago, and has formed a sympathetic tie with the shade of the druid Aegwareth. Whether the Leviathan is exactly the same as what Monster Mythology called the Sleeping Deep Dragons is unclear, but they are similar concepts.

Just one of the Leviathan's eyes is almost a hundred feet across. The Leviathan is impervious to all mortal weapons.


According to a myth in Races of the Dragon, Io gave the secrets of creation to a green dragon called Caesinjach, who used the secrets to create the race of kobolds. The greatest of Caesinjach's creations, a kobold called Kurtulmak, was left dying when his fortress-mine was collapsed by the gnomish deity Garl Glittergold. Io offered Kurtulmak a choice: he would restore the mine or transform Kurtulmak into an immortal hero who could avenge his people and make sure the mine was never forgotten. Kurtulmak chose the latter path, eventually becoming the deity he is today.

The Io's Blood Chain[edit]

Some time after the creation of dragonkind, Io looked down to see what had become of his children. Seeing them at war, he cried, "If blood need be shed, let that which is shed be mine!" Cutting his belly with one claw, divine blood fell upon the waters, creating an island chain known today as the Io's Blood Isles. He urged his followers in visions to go there and form a harmonious society. Some of the dragons did go to these isles, but their war continued. Io sent his avatar to a group of humans and inspired them with a hatred of all dragons, teaching them the making of armor and the forging of weapons. The humans traveled to the isles and began slaughtering dragons of every faction and breed. The dragons were forced to unite in order to survive, and Io had his peace at last.

Io in other settings and editions[edit]

Io also features prominently in the Council of Wyrms campaign setting. In that setting, the Io's Blood Island Chain is said to be literally created from Io's blood.

Other draconic gods such as the Pearl Dragon, Opal Dragon, and Diamond Dragon (from Basic Dungeons & Dragons) may be present in earlier editions or in different campaign settings.

It is possible that Io created Paladine and Takhisis of the Dragonlance setting. As the creation myth goes, when the High God entered the universe (of Krynn) and decided to make a new world, he called forth for other gods to help, and Paladine and Takhisis answered. The king and queen of Wyrms they were. Possibly, they were two of Io's oldest and most powerful offspring. The 4th Edition "Draconomicon" books confirm that Takhisis is Tiamat in fourth edition.

In the fourth edition mythology, Io created dragons and dragonborn. When he died, Tiamat and Bahamut were created from different sides of his personality.


Additional reading[edit]