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|Home plane||Windswept Depths of Pandemonium|
|Portfolio||Hate, Envy, Malice, Panic, Ugliness, Slaughter|
|Domains||Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Trickery, War|
In the World of Greyhawk campaign setting and the default pantheon of deities for the third edition of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, Erythnul is the Oeridian god of hate, envy, malice, panic, ugliness, and slaughter. He is known as the Many, and is worshipped by many gnoll, troll, ogre, and bugbear tribes, in addition to humans. His symbol is a red blood drop, or a bestial mask representing Erythnul's changing visage.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Description
- 3 Relationships
- 4 Realm
- 5 Dogma
- 6 Worshippers
- 7 Temples
- 8 Rituals
- 9 Artifacts and relics
- 10 Reception
- 11 References
- 12 Additional reading
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)
Erythnul was first detailed for the Dungeons & Dragons game in "The Deities and Demigods of the World of Greyhawk" by Gary Gygax in Dragon #71 (1983). Erythnul was subsequently detailed in the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (1983).
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)
Erythnul appears as one of the deities described in the Players Handbook for this edition (2000). Erythnul's role in the 3rd edition Greyhawk setting was defined in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000).
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)
Erythnul resembles a 7-foot-tall (2.1 m), brutal-looking man. He is rubicund of complexion, hirsute, and muscular, with knotted muscles and a blocky frame. His dull-green eyes are filled with the madness of war. He typically wears red fur and red-dyed leather, and carries a stone-headed morningstar. A hole in the head of the morningstar creates a whistling noise as Erythnul swings it; the keening howl of the morningstar has been known to send those who hear it fleeing until they collapse from exhaustion.
Erythnul is called the Many, because in battle his features continually shift from human to bugbear to troll to ogre to gnoll and back to human again. His spilled blood transforms into similar creatures. Erythnul delights in panic and slaughter. He can spread fear through his eyes.
Erythnul has a long-standing rivalry with Hextor, due to the latter stealing Erythnul's portfolio of War. He sponsored Roykyn's ascension to the status of hero-power. He is allied with Kurell. Erythnul is often worshipped in association with Karaan, though the latter deity is far more obscure.
Erythnul's realm, the Citadel of Slaughter, is in the third layer of Pandemonium, Phlegethon. There, his domain appears to be the ruins of a great stone citadel. In the chill winds can be heard the sounds of a terrible battle. The maddened souls of Erythnul's faithful kill each other eternally. Erythnul himself joins in the melee, slaughtering an endless stream of his own worshippers. A giant sacrificial altar is said to exist at the center of it all.
Previously, he had a realm called the Fields of Malice in Cocytus.
The chaos of battle is the sacred charge of the worshippers of Erythnul. In all the myriad forms of terror and suffering that war creates, there is a strange kind of unity. This is part of the reason that Erythnul is called the Many. Battle is a test of merit and strength, and living and dying by the sword is the definition of the good life.
Many of Erythnul's worshippers believe that blood spilled in battle feeds their god, increasing his madness and bloodlust. Chaotic neutral worshippers believe that non-combatants and weak opponents are meaningless, and that killing them does nothing to satiate their god or prove their ability; killing those unworthy of a warrior's death even angers Erythnul, they believe. Chaotic evil worshippers, who are far more common, disagree, believing that all slaughter is a sacrament, and that the dying screams of innocents are music to Erythnul's ears, hymns in the church of the battlefield.
In civilized lands, Erythnul's followers (including evil fighters, barbarians and rogues) form small, criminal cults. In savage lands, evil barbarians, gnolls, bugbears, ogres, and trolls commonly worship him.
Many factions of Erythnul's cult exist, fighting one another as often as they fight nonbelievers. In cities, they tend to be less overt, forming a nebulous organization known as the Temple of Carnage. Most of Erythnul's faithful are chaotic evil, though a few are chaotic neutral.
Erythnul's clerics wear rust-colored garments. On ceremonial occasions they wear white robes, the better to display the bloodstains on them. They wear stylized masks symbolizing Erythnul's many aspects. In civilized areas they may foment rebellion and unrest, while in the wild they may lead groups of bandits.
Clerics of Erythnul get most of their training in large wilderness temple-fortresses. Senior clerics try to frighten would-be initiates into quitting; those who avoid flinching after many tests are accepted into the priesthood.
The ranks of Erythnul's priesthood are, from lowest to highest, Raider, Marauder, Reaver, and Incarnate.
Erythnul's temples tend to be hidden. Most towns and cities have small, secret cults dedicated to the Many within the thieves' quarter. In the wilderness, his worshippers build squat, ugly fortresses where sacrifice after sacrifice takes place. Any place where carnage and slaughter have occurred is considered holy.
Erythnul's profane altars are built on platforms reachable by steep flights of stairs.
In the least violent services to Erythnul, shrill reed instruments are played discordantly while gongs clash and drums pound. During major rites, a fire is built and victims are sacrificed. One famous rite is the "Bloody Howl," when soldiers captured from the previous battle are killed in order to bring Erythnul's favor just before the next one.
Prayers to Erythnul are customarily rhyming chants with gory subject matter.
Artifacts and relics
The Executioner's Hood is one of three such items originally worn by one Xeric IV, who killed every member of his extended family two centuries ago.
The Morningstar of the Many is said to have been dipped in the blood of creatures from every plane. It resembles a mace carved with laughing mouths that takes on different characteristics every round.
Rob Bricken of Kotaku identified Erythnul as one of "The 13 Strangest Deities In Dungeons & Dragons", commenting: "Standard god of evil stuff like hate, envy, malice and slaughter, which is somehow different from massacres, which is of course Hextor's domain. I imagine it can get pretty tricky deciding whether you're going to massacre somebody or slaughter them, which makes it difficult to know who to pray to. Erythnul is also the god of ugliness, which seems like a very weird thing to pray for. Do you ask Erythnul to impart ugliness on others? If you're ugly, do you pray to him to keep you ugly? What if you're attractive, but just have really low self-esteem?"
- Gygax, Gary. "The Deities and Demigods of the World of Greyhawk." Dragon #71 (TSR, 1983)
- Gygax, Gary. World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (TSR, 1983)
- Sargent, Carl. From the Ashes (TSR, 1992)
- Moore, Roger E. Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (TSR, 1998)
- McComb, Colin. On Hallowed Ground (TSR, 1996)
- Tweet, Jonathan, Cook, Monte, Williams, Skip. Player's Handbook (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
- Holian, Gary, Erik Mona, Sean K Reynolds, and Frederick Weining. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
- Redman, Rich, Skip Williams, and James Wyatt. Deities and Demigods (Wizards of the Coast, 2002)
- Tweet, Jonathan, Cook, Monte, Williams, Skip. Player's Handbook (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
- Noonan, David. Complete Divine (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
- Brown, Anne. Player's Guide to Greyhawk (TSR, 1998).
- Conforti, Steven, ed. Living Greyhawk Official Listing of Deities for Use in the Campaign, version 2.0. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2005. Available online:
- Gygax, Gary, and Frank Mentzer. The Temple of Elemental Evil (TSR, 1985).
- Haley, Jason H. "The Allure of Evil." Dragon #361. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2007. Available online: 
- Kestral, Gwendolyn. Monster Manual IV. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2006.
- Monster Manual V. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2007.
- Reynolds, Sean K. "Core Beliefs: Hextor." Dragon #356. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2007.
- Living Greyhawk Journal no. 3 - "Gods of Oerth"