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Rary (right), depicted on the cover of Rary the Traitor (TSR, Inc., 1992)
Game information
Homeland Bright Lands (formerly Ket)
Gender Male
Race Human (Baklunish)
Class Wizard
Alignment Neutral Evil
Age 86 (born 511 CY)
Setting World of Greyhawk

In the World of Greyhawk campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, Rary of Ket is a powerful archmage and ruler of the Bright Lands, also known as Rary the Traitor.

In a storyline developed by TSR for a resetting of the Greyhawk campaign in 1991, Rary, a member of the Circle of Eight, betrayed the Circle at the end of the Greyhawk Wars and was responsible for the deaths of Circle members Otiluke and Tenser. After his betrayal, Rary fled with his ally Lord Robilar to the Bright Desert, where he established the Empire of the Bright Lands.


Gary Gygax, co-creator of the Dungeons & Dragon fantasy game, created a home campaign based in the World of Greyhawk in order to test new rules. His playtesters were friends and acquaintances, one of whom was Brian Blume, co-owner with Gygax of the nascent game company TSR. Rary was a low-level wizard created by Blume for play in Gygax's home campaign. However, Blume was not interested in developing the character into a high-powered wizard; he only played Rary until the wizard character reached 3rd-level and then retired him, having reached his objective, which was to be able to introduce the character as "Medium Rary".[1] Gygax borrowed the name "Rary" for the spells Rary's mnemonic enhancer and Rary's telepathic bond. Ironically, the original Rary was never powerful enough to cast either of "his" spells.

Rary was not a member of Gygax's original Circle of Eight, which was made up of eight of Gygax's own characters that he had developed during solo play, when his friend Rob Kuntz acted as Dungeon Master.[2] However, after Gygax was ousted from TSR in 1985, the company took over creative control of the published Greyhawk setting, and took it in directions Gygax had not envisioned,[3] including remaking Rary into a major Greyhawk personality.

In 1988, Rary's spells were included in the hard-cover Greyhawk Adventures.[4] In 1989, in The City of Greyhawk boxed set, Carl Sargent and Douglas Niles took Gygax's original Circle of Eight and re-purposed the concept as a powerful collection of wizards dedicated to the proposition that no group or entity, no matter how good (or evil), should dominate the Flanaess. Gygax's own wizard, Mordenkainen, became the head of the Circle, while eight wizards from the Greyhawk campaign, made famous from their spells published in the original Players Handbook, became the actual Circle.[5] Several of the wizards, including Rary, had not been particularly powerful characters in Gygax's home campaign, but in the new Greyhawk storyline, all of the Circle were dominant spell casters.


In material developed by Wizards of the Coast (WotC) in 1998 as a further update to the Greyhawk storyline, Rary was described as a man of mixed Baklunish and Suel stock, six feet tall, 170 lbs, with auburn hair, bright green eyes, and a tanned complexion who favors tan robes with intricate gold patterns. Although originally described in TSR material as a man in his eighties, the new WotC storyline had Rary looking like a man in his fifties, having somehow reversed his aging by 30 years. The explanation was that this was not for reasons of vanity, but because Rary knows his current plans may take many decades to come to fruition and is prepared for every eventuality.

Rary's personality is given as thoughtfully contemplative. Apparently he dislikes those who acted foolishly or rashly, and Otiluke was a particular target of his scorn, though even Mordenkainen is characterized as too volatile for Rary's tastes.


The following information is outlined in material developed for the Greyhawk campaign world by TSR and WotC between 1988 and 2008.


Born around 511 CY in Ket, Rary was known as a quiet, dignified scholar and a skilled mediator and peacemaker. He was a living legend in his homeland, and held in the greatest respect by the Paynims, and would confer with their shamans and wise men, telling them tales of their past. The frequency of Paynim raids into Ket decreased dramatically because of his influence. He was apparently invited to join the Circle of Eight in or around 575 CY.

Rary betrays the Circle[edit]

After a decade's careful deliberation, Rary decided that the Circle of Eight was too quarrelsome to ever be effective in its goals. On the day of the signing of the Treaty of Greyhawk, he tried to eliminate the Circle but only succeeded in killing Tenser and Otiluke. Simultaneously, Robilar besieged the castle of Tenser, sacking its treasures and destroying all of Tenser's known clones. Having largely failed in their quest to destroy the Circle, the two conspirators fled to the Bright Desert, where they founded a kingdom.

Further plans[edit]

In the Living Greyhawk campaign, Rary desired to recreate the ancient kingdom of Sulm by recovering an artifact known as the Scorpion Crown. (Players of the campaign were often unwittingly employed as agents of Rary to help fulfill his goal.).[6]


When Gary Gygax developed new spells for Dungeons & Dragons, he often borrowed wizards' names to give the spell names more verisimilitude. He borrowed the name of Brian Blume's retired wizard for the spells Rary's mnemonic enhancer, and Rary's telepathic bond, which appeared in the original Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook.

Because Rary's two original spells seemed to involve psychic or mental powers, whenever a new spell was developed that involved these powers, authors often attributed them to Rary:

  • Rary's aptitude appropriator
  • Rary's arcane conversion
  • Rary's empathic perception
  • Rary's interplanar telepathic bond
  • Rary's memory alteration
  • Rary's mind scan
  • Rary's mind shield
  • Rary's plane truth
  • Rary's protection from scrying
  • Rary's replay of the past
  • Rary's spell enhancer
  • Rary's superior spell enhancer
  • Rary's urgent utterance


In a similar fashion, further background material on Rary has given him credit for authoring the following works:

  • Arcane Puissance of the Memory
  • The Lost Spellbook of Rary the Traitor[7]

Living Greyhawk campaign[edit]

During the Living Greyhawk campaign, several adventures set in Rary's home region of Ket referred to him as Rary the Patriot, and Ketite characters in these adventures sometimes tried to convince players that Rary was not evil, merely misunderstood.[8][9]


  1. ^ Gygax: "[Rary] was one that Brian Blume created early in the D&D cycle, a magic-user that Brian wanted to work up to 3rd level so as to introduce him as 'Medium Rary.' When he gained that level Brian quit playing that PC, pretty much dropped out of regularly playing D&D in fact.""Gary Gygax: Q & A (Part X, Page 7)". EN World. 2006-05-29. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  2. ^ Gygax: "The original [Circle of Eight] was composed of my PCs--Mordenkainen, Bigby, Yrag, Rigby, Felnorith, Zigby, Vram & Vin. In the novel version the Circle was expanded to encompass other PCs in my campaign such as Tenser. It came into being because Mordenkainen and Associates had a lot of wealth stored up from successful adventuring, located a place for a stronghold deep in enemy territory to assure plenty of action, and then went to work building the citadel." "Gary Gygax: Q & A (Part IV, Page 9)". EN World. 2003-11-01. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  3. ^ Gygax: "Later TSR and [Wizards of the Coast] approaches to and treatment of the Greyhawk setting was quite contrary to the purpose for which I intended it when it was created.""Gary Gygax: Q & A (Part XIII, Page 9)". EN World. 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  4. ^ Bambra, Jim (March 1989). "Role-playing Reviews". Dragon. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR (#143): 71–72. 
  5. ^ Niles, Douglas, and Carl Sargent. The City of Greyhawk (TSR, 1989)
  6. ^ Creighton Broadhurst (June 2008). COR8-11 Restoration and Empire. Wizards of the Coast. 
  7. ^ Bonny, Ed (1998), "Arcane Lore: The Lost Spellbook of Rary the Traitor", Dragon, #249 
  8. ^ Stephen Baker (November 2006). KET6-07 The Empty Post. Wizards of the Coast. 
  9. ^ Lisa Liscoumb (February 2005). KETINTRO5-01 Best Man for the Job. Wizards of the Coast. 

Additional reading[edit]