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World of Greyhawk character
First appearance"The Deities and Demigods of the World of Greyhawk" – Dragon #71 (1983)
Created byGary Gygax
TitleThe Reaper, the Foe of All Good, the Hater of Life, the Bringer of Darkness
AlignmentNeutral Evil
HomeTarterian Depths of Carceri
Power levelGreater
PortfolioDeath, Darkness, Murder, the Underworld
DomainsDeath, Evil, Pestilence, Trickery

In the World of Greyhawk campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, as well as in the game's default pantheon of deities, Nerull is the Flan god of death, darkness, murder, and the underworld. He is known as the Reaper, the Foe of All Good, the Hater of Life, and the Bringer of Darkness. His symbol is a skull and scythe.

Publication history[edit]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977–1988)[edit]

Nerull 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).[1] Nerull was subsequently detailed in the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (1983),[2] and in Greyhawk Adventures (1988).[3]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989–1999)[edit]

Nerull was one of the deities described in the From the Ashes set (1992), for the Greyhawk campaign,[4] and appeared again in Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (1998).[5]

His role in the cosmology of the Planescape campaign setting was described in On Hallowed Ground (1996).[6]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000–2002)[edit]

Nerull appears as one of the deities described in the Players Handbook for this edition (2000).[7] Nerull's role in the 3rd edition Greyhawk setting was defined in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000).[8]

Nerull is also detailed in the Manual of the Planes (2001),[9] and Deities and Demigods (2002).[10]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003–2007)[edit]

Nerull appears in the revised Players Handbook for this edition (2003).[11] His priesthood is detailed for this edition in Complete Divine (2004).[12]

Nerull was one of the deities featured in Libris Mortis (2004).[13]

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–)[edit]

As mentioned in the Manual of the Planes (2008) for this edition, Nerull has been slain and replaced by the Raven Queen.


Nerull is usually seen as a black-robed skeleton, with a rust-red body and green, ropy hair. He carries a staff called "Lifecutter" that at his command grows a scythe blade made of scarlet energy. His alignment is Neutral Evil. Nerull is the patron deity of those who seek the greatest evil for their own enjoyment or gain.

Other aspects[edit]

Nerull and the oinoloth Infestix are described as the same being in the Come Endless Darkness novel by Dungeons & Dragons designer Gary Gygax. Among the Bakluni, Nerull is known as Tharoth the Reaper (This is unofficial Oerth Journal material). He is viewed in this context as a servant of Istus, in charge of ending mortal lives upon her command.


Nerull has tenuous alliances with Faluzure and Hextor. He respects Incabulos, who starts the work that Nerull completes, but has nothing to do with him; their priests do not cooperate unless faced with a common enemy. The Foe of All Good sponsored the ascension of his mortal follower Kyuss to godhood. He seeks to destroy and reabsorb the power of Mellifleur, who stole divine energy meant for one of Nerull's own servants. Oddly, Nerull is on neither good nor bad terms with one of his few competitors: Wee Jas.

Nerull is said to slay Obad-Hai every winter.


Nerull dwells in Carceri, either in its outermost layer or its innermost. According to On Hallowed Ground, his realm is called the Crypt and is a city inhabited by the dead and undead. There, Nerull consorts with fiends of all kinds, who wander the realm devouring the shrieking souls trapped under Nerull's power. According to the 3rd edition Manual of the Planes, his realm is Necromanteion, described as a citadel carved from black ice, where the souls of the dead are trapped within the walls, ceilings, and floors. Demonic clerics perform twisted experiments and recite ghastly litanies. Nerull's throne is within a wide hall called the Hidden Temple, and even more unspeakable horrors are said to be buried in tunnels beneath.

Unlike most inhabitants of the Red Prison, Nerull wasn't banished to Carceri; he lives there because he likes it.

In 4th edition, Nerull originally lived on the realm of Pluton in the Astral Sea. After his death, the Raven Queen abandoned the realm. There are still a few angry souls left on the plane, which the funeral wealth of thousands of dead monarchs deep within the mausoleums; no more dead souls arrive there, and no God has taken up the rule of the plane since because any attempt to interfere with the gray wastes of Pluton is likely to anger the Raven Queen.


Nerull's faithful believe they will be rewarded for acts of murder, for every living thing is an abomination in the eyes of the Reaper.


Nerull is the patron deity of those who seek the greatest evil for their own enjoyment or gain. Most common folk do not worship or propitiate him, although they fear him greatly. It is believed that any form of appeasement will merely draw his attention, something that is at all costs to be avoided by the sensible. Nerull seems, in fact, to draw power from the very avoidance of his name. Some of the peasants of the former Great Kingdom do propitiate Nerull with minor rites, begging safe passage for the souls of the dead. Among the Flan and in the Old Faith, Nerull is sometimes considered to be the god of winter.

The Reaper is one of the patrons of the Horned Society and the White Kingdom, and thought to be the will that animates the drowned ones.


Nerull's clerics are feared throughout the lands as cold, calculating murderers. Named clerics of He Who Revels in the Slaying of the Living include Delglath, Jipzinker, Andrade Mirrius, Guiliana Mortidus, and Nezmajen. They are secretive and often solitary. When not in disguise, they dress in the same rust-red hue as the bones of their god.

Those who would become priests of Nerull must undergo an arduous initiation that climaxes in being buried alive for a time.


Nerull's temples are hidden and usually subterranean except in the most evil lands, as befits the god of darkness and the underworld. One place vile enough to openly host sizable temples of the Foe of All Good is Rel Astra. Well known cults of Nerull include the Shriven Sickle in Greyhawk, which seeks, among other things, to undermine the church of Saint Cuthbert there. The Midnight Darkness, active in the former Aerdy lands, is led by a mysterious figure known as the Hidden Sickle. Beneath Castle Greyhawk, followers of Nerull fought a subterranean war with the followers of Vaprak. In the Hold of the Sea Princes, cultists of Nerull made it their goal to frustrate and destroy Jeon II. This cult has recently been responsible for a series of extremely mysterious, grisly, and above all terrifying murders of various servants of good; apart from this they have kept themselves extremely secretive.


Services to Nerull are ghastly things performed in absolute blackness, featuring litanies of fear and suffering. Murder is done as an homage to the Reaper.

Holy days[edit]

Nerull has few known holy days:


Relics associated with dread Nerull include the Mace and Talisman of Krevell, named for one of his most infamous priests.

Myths and legends[edit]


When the Oerth was still young, beings from the Far Realm attempted to assert dominance over all reality. They sent minions to destroy the newly sentient, pre-human life that then lived on the surface of the world. Four gods rose to oppose this: Pelor, Obad-Hai, Nerull, and Kord. Pelor and Nerull had yet to form allegiances to Good or Evil in those days; they were most interested in maintaining the balance between Law and Chaos. Kord was just along for the sake of having something to fight. The four gods each sacrificed a part of their power to create an anchor that would sever the ties of the invaders to their unguessable masters, and so were able to defeat them.[citation needed]


Eventually, a powerful Sorcerer-Queen entered his realm. Unlike all the other inhabitants of the realm, her soul shone with her ambition and determination. Nerull judged her to be a worthy consort, restored her power and vitality, and named her Nera. The Sorcerer-Queen was too proud to kneel to any God, however, and rose up in rebellion. Learning how Nerull kept the souls in his thrall, she released them all, gaining power with each released soul while Nerull suffered. This gave her the power to defeat Nerull, take his divinity into herself, and become the Goddess of Death. She erased her true name from history and became known as the Raven Queen.[14]


  1. ^ Gygax, Gary. "The Deities and Demigods of the World of Greyhawk." Dragon #71 (TSR, 1983)
  2. ^ Gygax, Gary. World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (TSR, 1983)
  3. ^ Ward, James M. Greyhawk Adventures (TSR, 1988)
  4. ^ Sargent, Carl. From the Ashes (TSR, 1992)
  5. ^ Moore, Roger E. Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (TSR, 1998)
  6. ^ McComb, Colin. On Hallowed Ground (TSR, 1996)
  7. ^ Tweet, Jonathan, Cook, Monte, Williams, Skip. Player's Handbook (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  8. ^ Holian, Gary, Erik Mona, Sean K Reynolds, and Frederick Weining. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  9. ^ Grubb, Jeff, David Noonan, and Bruce Cordell. Manual of the Planes (Wizards of the Coast, 2001)
  10. ^ Redman, Rich, Skip Williams, and James Wyatt. Deities and Demigods (Wizards of the Coast, 2002)
  11. ^ Tweet, Jonathan, Cook, Monte, Williams, Skip. Player's Handbook (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  12. ^ Noonan, David. Complete Divine (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
  13. ^ Collins, Andy and Bruce R Cordell. (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
  14. ^ Divine Power (2008)

Further reading[edit]

  • Aperlo, Peter E. "Quadripartite." Dungeon #99. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2003.
  • Bass, Walter M., Jack Barker, Roy Rowe, Louis Prosperi, and Tom Prusa. Treasures of Greyhawk. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, Inc., 1992. ISBN 1-56076-366-3.
  • 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:[1]
  • Cordell, Bruce. "Oath order : The monks of the oath of Nerull." Dragon #299. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2002.
  • Decker, Jesse. "The Spire of Long Shadows." Dungeon #130. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2006.
  • Findley, Nigel. Greyspace. (TSR, 1992).
  • 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: [2]
  • Menge, Eric. "Power Groups: Druids of the Old Faith." Wizards of the Coast. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2008. Available online:[3]
  • Mobley, Blake, and Timothy B. Brown. Greyhawk Ruins. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1990 . ISBN 0-88038-860-9.
  • Mona, Erik. "Baklunish Delights (Part One)." Oerth Journal #3. Council of Greyhawk, 1996. Available online:[4]
  • Niles, Douglas, and Carl Sargent. The City of Greyhawk. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1989.
  • Reynolds, Sean K., Frederick Weining, and Erik Mona. "Blood of Heroes." Living Greyhawk Journal #3. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2001.
  • Iuz the Evil. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1993.
  • Ivid the Undying. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, unpublished. Available online: [5]
  • Living Greyhawk Journal no. 3 – "Gods of Oerth"

External links[edit]