Thursday 24 December 2020

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
By Clement Clarke Moore 

Jolly St. Nick

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;


The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. 

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, 

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name; 

"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!" 

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too. 

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. 

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. 

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow; 

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly. 

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread; 

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose; 

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

Christmas Magic
May the Spirit of the Season be with you all.
Merry Christmas, one and all!

The Art:
Illustrations by Jesse Willcox Smith, 1912


Friday 18 December 2020

The Fruztii Primer

 “Let whoever can win glory before death.”
― Seamus Heaney, Beowulf

The Wind Howled...
The wind howled and swept clean the Thillonrian Peninsula until the Fruztii claimed that its western expanse of tundra and pine, naming it Rhizia. It is a cold land, and unforgiving land, and it nurtured a hard and unforgiving people, and their southern name became the root of the word Frost in all languages. In truth, they are the Rhizian Tiger clan, not that anyone refers to them as such except those who have dwelt among them.
The Fruztii are a farming and fisherfolk, even though their season is short. They grow root vegetables and maze, and cast net where rivers spill into the bay; but when the fields have been sowed, they embark upon the seas, raiding the lands of the fat folk to the south, taking what Vatun has decreed as theirs: that which the weak cannot keep.
The Sisters of Mystery
The Fruztii are a suspicious people. Magic is not to be trusted. Those who pursued it (as did Zelligar of B1 In Search of the Unknown) have always run afoul of Evil. So say the Sisters of Mystery, the mothers of the clans, who commune with the gods and divine the Paths to be taken from the stars and the bones.
Though one the fiercest of the Clans of Rhiza, the Tigers had been broken on the shield of Aerdy when they sought to crush the Oreidians at Marner and then at Spinecastle, where the bleached bones of their fallen had leant their name to the district that rose from it: The Bone March.
In their weakened state, they soon fell under the suzerainty of their cousins the Schnai (the Snow Leopard clans), until King Ralff in desperation parleyed with their once hated enemy Luxnoll III, to jointly defend against the ever brazen bands of Fists that fell upon their villages from the Kelten Pass while their longships were upon the seas, raiding.

Those wishing a Nordic, or Viking game will be well suited to campaigning here.
Great inspiration for this area can be found in: Beowulf, the Kalevala, Nibelungenlied, The Last King (TV), Vikings (TV), The Eagle (film).

A Fierce, Watchful North
Country specific resources:
There are none specific to the Fruztii, but most pertinent information can be found in:
The Greyhawk Folio, The Greyhawk setting boxed set, Greyhawk Adventures, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Greyhawk Wars, From the Ashes Boxed Set, Ivid the Undying, Dragon_magazine_#57
WGS1 The Five Shall Be One; WGS2 Howl From the North

Adventures in the country include:
Armistice, Dungeon #84, Griff Mountains
Although later retconned into the Yeomanry, B1 Into the Unknown (in the monochrome edition) was originally suggested as located in Ratik. That would make north Ratik (if not Fruztii lands) an ideal location for B2 Keep on the Borderlands, as well.
Other adventures include:
Forest adventures in the Timberway and Spikey Forests. Winter wolves and Mist wolves.
Mountain adventures (and possibly Underdark adventures) in the Raker and Griff mountains (alternate placement of G1-3). Orcs, gnolls, giants and drow, oh my!
Intrigue in Marner and Ratikhill. Ratik has many enemies (the Bone March, Lord Grennell, the Barbarians early on, the Hold of Stonefist, the Scarlet Brotherhood) and dubious allies (the Sea Barons and Theocracy of the Pale).
Border skirmishes with the Bone March.
Fey fading lands.
Ruins of the Ur-Flan from the time of Keraptis.

The Frost Barbarian
Adventures in nearby areas include:
WGS1 The Five Shall Be One;
WGS2 Howl from the North;
Fright at Tristor
The Stolen Seal, WOGG
OJ#9, A Slight Diversion; Redspan, Bandit Kingdoms
WGS1 The Five Shall Be One, Bandit Kingdoms
WGR5 Iuz the Evil;
The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga;
Forge of Fury, Bone March
Out of the Ashes, Dungeon #17, Bandit Kingdoms
Ghost Dance, Dungeon #32, Rovers of the Barrens
The Mud Sorcerer's Tomb, Dungeon #37, Bone March
Ex Keraptis Cum Amore, Dungeon #77, Burning Cliffs
Deep Freeze, Dungeon #83, Theocracy of the Pale
The Sharm’s Dark Song, Dungeon #87
Glacier Seas, Dungeon #87
Beyond the Light of Reason, Dungeon #96, Tenh
Raiders of the Black Ice, Dungeon #115, Blackmoor
Ill Made Graves, Dungeon #133, Jotsplat & the Icy Sea
In the Shadows of Spinecastle, Dungeon Magazine #148
From His Cold, Dead Hands
C13 From His Cold, Dead Hands, by Carlos Lising, casl Entertainment, 2019, Jotsplat & the Icy Sea
FB1 While on the Road to Cavrik's Cove, casl Entertainment, 2021, Ratik
Tomb of Zhang the Horrific, by William Dvorak, Rovers of the Barrens.
Forest adventures in the Hraak Forest. Raiding and seizing Kelen.
Sea adventures upon the Solnor and the Icy Seas.
Raids into the Hold of Stonefist
Mutual defense negotiations with the Barbarian tribes.
Mutual defense with Ratik of the Kelten Pass.
Expeditions into the Griff mountains in search of lost Skrellingshald (also known as Tostencha).
The Land of Black Ice, and the Zeai Clan (Sea Barbarians, or the Leopard Seal Clan) upon the Icy Sea.
Trade expeditions to The Sea Barons and the North Province.
The search for and discovery of Fireland, and the arrival of a ship from Fireland.
Espionage with the North Kingdom.
The Hunt for agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood.

Frost Barbarians:
chaotic neutral, chaotic evil; Suloise, Common, Cold Tongue
DRG#52 - 20

His Most Warlike Majesty, King Ralff of the Fruztii
Capital: Krakenheim (pop. 3,300)
Population: 50,000+/-
Demi-humans: Few
Humanoids: Some
Resources: foodstuffs, furs, silver, gold
WOGA - 21

Proper Name: Kingdom of (the) Fruztii
Ruler: His Most Warlike Majesty, King Hundgred Ralffson of the Fruztii (CN male human Bbn13)
Capital: Krakenheim Major Towns: Djekul (pop. 3,100), Krakenheim (pop. 4,500)
Resources: Foodstuffs (plus fish), furs, silver, gold, iron, timber, shipbuilding supplies
Population: 144,500—Human 96% (S), Dwarf 2% (hill 50%, mountain 50%), Halfling 1%, Other 1%
Languages: Cold Tongue, Common
Alignments: CN, N
Religions: Kord, Llerg, Norebo, Xerbo, Vatun, Syrul
LGG – 43,44

One must always give credit where credit is due. This piece is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. 
Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
The Art:
From His Cold, Dead Hands cover, by Daniel Govar, 2019
Frost Barbarians Shield detail, from the Greyhawk Folio, 1980

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Dragon Magazine 68, 82
OJ Oerth Journal #10, appearing on Greyhawk Online
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

Wednesday 16 December 2020

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1798



And he stoppeth one of three
It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
`By thy long beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me ?

The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin ;
The guests are met, the feast is set :
May'st hear the merry din.'

He holds him with his skinny hand,
`There was a ship,' quoth he.
`Hold off ! unhand me, grey-beard loon !'
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

He holds him with his glittering eye--
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years' child :
The Mariner hath his will.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone :
He cannot choose but hear ;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

`The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.

The Sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he !
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.

Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon—'
The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,
For he heard the loud bassoon.

The bride hath paced into the hall,
Red as a rose is she ;
Nodding their heads before her goes
The merry minstrelsy.

The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot choose but hear ;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

`And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong :
He struck with his o'ertaking wings,
And chased us south along.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,
As who pursued with yell and blow
Still treads the shadow of his foe,
And forward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,
The southward aye we fled.

And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold :
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen :
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken--
The ice was all between.

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around :
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound !

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came ;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God's name.

It ate the food it ne'er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit ;
The helmsman steered us through !

And a good south wind sprung up behind ;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner's hollo !

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine ;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moon-shine.'

`God save thee, ancient Mariner !
From the fiends, that plague thee thus ! —
Why look'st thou so?'–With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.

Part II

The Sun now rose upon the right:
Out of the sea came he,
Still hid in mist, and on the left
Went down into the sea.

And the good south wind still blew behind,
But no sweet bird did follow,
Nor any day for food or play
Came to the mariner's hollo!

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work 'em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,
That made the breeze to blow!

Nor dim nor red, like God's own head,
The glorious Sun uprist:
Then all averred, I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
'Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea!

All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.

About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night;
The water, like a witch's oils,
Burnt green, and blue and white.

And some in dreams assurèd were
Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.

And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.


There passed a weary time. Each throat
Was parched, and glazed each eye.
A weary time! a weary time!
How glazed each weary eye,

When looking westward, I beheld
A something in the sky.

At first it seemed a little speck,
And then it seemed a mist;
It moved and moved, and took at last
A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it neared and neared:
As if it dodged a water-sprite,
It plunged and tacked and veered.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could nor laugh nor wail;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
Agape they heard me call:
Gramercy! they for joy did grin,
And all at once their breath drew in.
As they were drinking all.

See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
Hither to work us weal;
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!

The western wave was all a-flame.
The day was well nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright Sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the Sun.

And straight the Sun was flecked with bars,
(Heaven's Mother send us grace!)
As if through a dungeon-grate he peered
With broad and burning face.

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
How fast she nears and nears!
Are those her sails that glance in the Sun,
Like restless gossameres?

Are those her ribs through which the Sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a DEATH? and are there two?
Is DEATH that woman's mate?

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.

The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
'The game is done! I've won! I've won!'
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

The Sun's rim dips; the stars rush out;
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea,
Off shot the spectre-bark.

We listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip!
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman's face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip—
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The hornèd Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.

One after one, by the star-dogged Moon,
Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.

Four times fifty living men,
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They dropped down one by one.

The souls did from their bodies fly,—
They fled to bliss or woe!
And every soul, it passed me by,
Like the whizz of my cross-bow!


I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
I fear thy skinny hand!
And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
As is the ribbed sea-sand.

I fear thee and thy glittering eye,
And thy skinny hand, so brown.'—
Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest!
This body dropt not down.

Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.

The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie:
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.

I looked upon the rotting sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.

I looked to heaven, and tried to pray;
But or ever a prayer had gusht,
A wicked whisper came, and made
My heart as dry as dust.

I closed my lids, and kept them close,
And the balls like pulses beat;
For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky
Lay dead like a load on my weary eye,
And the dead were at my feet.

The cold sweat melted from their limbs,
Nor rot nor reek did they:
The look with which they looked on me
Had never passed away.

An orphan's curse would drag to hell
A spirit from on high;
But oh! more horrible than that
Is the curse in a dead man's eye!
Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,
And yet I could not die.

The moving Moon went up the sky,
And no where did abide:
Softly she was going up,
And a star or two beside—

Her beams bemocked the sultry main,
Like April hoar-frost spread;
But where the ship's huge shadow lay,
The charmèd water burnt alway
A still and awful red.

Beyond the shadow of the ship,
I watched the water-snakes:
They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light
Fell off in hoary flakes.
Within the shadow of the ship

I watched their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.

The self-same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.


Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole!
To Mary Queen the praise be given!
She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven,
That slid into my soul.

The silly buckets on the deck,
That had so long remained,
I dreamt that they were filled with dew;
And when I awoke, it rained.

My lips were wet, my throat was cold,
My garments all were dank;
Sure I had drunken in my dreams,
And still my body drank.

I moved, and could not feel my limbs:
I was so light—almost
I thought that I had died in sleep,
And was a blessed ghost.

And soon I heard a roaring wind:
It did not come anear;
But with its sound it shook the sails,
That were so thin and sere.

The upper air burst into life!
And a hundred fire-flags sheen,
To and fro they were hurried about!
And to and fro, and in and out,
The wan stars danced between.

And the coming wind did roar more loud,
And the sails did sigh like sedge,
And the rain poured down from one black cloud;
The Moon was at its edge.

The thick black cloud was cleft, and still
The Moon was at its side:
Like waters shot from some high crag,
The lightning fell with never a jag,
A river steep and wide.

The loud wind never reached the ship,
Yet now the ship moved on!
Beneath the lightning and the Moon
The dead men gave a groan.

They groaned, they stirred, they all uprose,
Nor spake, nor moved their eyes;
It had been strange, even in a dream,
To have seen those dead men rise.

The helmsman steered, the ship moved on;
Yet never a breeze up-blew;
The mariners all 'gan work the ropes,
Where they were wont to do;
They raised their limbs like lifeless tools—
We were a ghastly crew.

The body of my brother's son
Stood by me, knee to knee:
The body and I pulled at one rope,
But he said nought to me.

'I fear thee, ancient Mariner!'
Be calm, thou Wedding-Guest!
'Twas not those souls that fled in pain,
Which to their corses came again,
But a troop of spirits blest:

For when it dawned—they dropped their arms,
And clustered round the mast;
Sweet sounds rose slowly through their mouths,
And from their bodies passed.

Around, around, flew each sweet sound,
Then darted to the Sun;
Slowly the sounds came back again,
Now mixed, now one by one.

Sometimes a-dropping from the sky
I heard the sky-lark sing;
Sometimes all little birds that are,
How they seemed to fill the sea and air
With their sweet jargoning!

And now 'twas like all instruments,
Now like a lonely flute;
And now it is an angel's song,
That makes the heavens be mute.

It ceased; yet still the sails made on
A pleasant noise till noon,
A noise like of a hidden brook
In the leafy month of June,
That to the sleeping woods all night
Singeth a quiet tune.

Till noon we quietly sailed on,
Yet never a breeze did breathe:
Slowly and smoothly went the ship,
Moved onward from beneath.

Under the keel nine fathom deep,
From the land of mist and snow,
The spirit slid: and it was he
That made the ship to go.
The sails at noon left off their tune,
And the ship stood still also.

The Sun, right up above the mast,
Had fixed her to the ocean:
But in a minute she 'gan stir,
With a short uneasy motion—
Backwards and forwards half her length
With a short uneasy motion.

Then like a pawing horse let go,
She made a sudden bound:
It flung the blood into my head,
And I fell down in a swound.

How long in that same fit I lay,
I have not to declare;
But ere my living life returned,
I heard and in my soul discerned
Two voices in the air.

'Is it he?' quoth one, 'Is this the man?
By him who died on cross,
With his cruel bow he laid full low
The harmless Albatross.

The spirit who bideth by himself
In the land of mist and snow,
He loved the bird that loved the man
Who shot him with his bow.'

The other was a softer voice,
As soft as honey-dew:
Quoth he, 'The man hath penance done,
And penance more will do.'


First Voice
'But tell me, tell me! speak again,
Thy soft response renewing—
What makes that ship drive on so fast?
What is the ocean doing?'

Second Voice
Still as a slave before his lord,
The ocean hath no blast;
His great bright eye most silently
Up to the Moon is cast—

If he may know which way to go;
For she guides him smooth or grim.
See, brother, see! how graciously
She looketh down on him.'

First Voice
'But why drives on that ship so fast,
Without or wave or wind?'

Second Voice
'The air is cut away before,
And closes from behind.

Fly, brother, fly! more high, more high!
Or we shall be belated:
For slow and slow that ship will go,
When the Mariner's trance is abated.'

I woke, and we were sailing on
As in a gentle weather:
'Twas night, calm night, the moon was high;
The dead men stood together.

All stood together on the deck,
For a charnel-dungeon fitter:
All fixed on me their stony eyes,
That in the Moon did glitter.

The pang, the curse, with which they died,
Had never passed away:
I could not draw my eyes from theirs,
Nor turn them up to pray.

And now this spell was snapt: once more
I viewed the ocean green,
And looked far forth, yet little saw
Of what had else been seen—

Like one, that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.

But soon there breathed a wind on me,
Nor sound nor motion made:
Its path was not upon the sea,
In ripple or in shade.

It raised my hair, it fanned my cheek
Like a meadow-gale of spring—
It mingled strangely with my fears,
Yet it felt like a welcoming.

Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship,
Yet she sailed softly too:
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze—
On me alone it blew.

Oh! dream of joy! is this indeed
The light-house top I see?
Is this the hill? is this the kirk?
Is this mine own countree?

We drifted o'er the harbour-bar,
And I with sobs did pray—
O let me be awake, my God!
Or let me sleep alway.

The harbour-bay was clear as glass,
So smoothly it was strewn!
And on the bay the moonlight lay,
And the shadow of the Moon.

The rock shone bright, the kirk no less,
That stands above the rock:
The moonlight steeped in silentness
The steady weathercock.

And the bay was white with silent light,
Till rising from the same,
Full many shapes, that shadows were,
In crimson colours came.

A little distance from the prow
Those crimson shadows were:
I turned my eyes upon the deck—
Oh, Christ! what saw I there!

Each corse lay flat, lifeless and flat,
And, by the holy rood!
A man all light, a seraph-man,
On every corse there stood.

This seraph-band, each waved his hand:
It was a heavenly sight!
They stood as signals to the land,
Each one a lovely light;

This seraph-band, each waved his hand,
No voice did they impart—
No voice; but oh! the silence sank
Like music on my heart.

But soon I heard the dash of oars,
I heard the Pilot's cheer;
My head was turned perforce away
And I saw a boat appear.

The Pilot and the Pilot's boy,
I heard them coming fast:
Dear Lord in Heaven! it was a joy
The dead men could not blast.

I saw a third—I heard his voice:
It is the Hermit good!
He singeth loud his godly hymns
That he makes in the wood.
He'll shrieve my soul, he'll wash away
The Albatross's blood.


This Hermit good lives in that wood
Which slopes down to the sea.
How loudly his sweet voice he rears!
He loves to talk with marineres
That come from a far countree.

He kneels at morn, and noon, and eve—
He hath a cushion plump:
It is the moss that wholly hides
The rotted old oak-stump.

The skiff-boat neared: I heard them talk,
'Why, this is strange, I trow!
Where are those lights so many and fair,
That signal made but now?'

'Strange, by my faith!' the Hermit said—
'And they answered not our cheer!
The planks looked warped! and see those sails,
How thin they are and sere!
I never saw aught like to them,
Unless perchance it were

Brown skeletons of leaves that lag
My forest-brook along;
When the ivy-tod is heavy with snow,
And the owlet whoops to the wolf below,
That eats the she-wolf's young.'

'Dear Lord! it hath a fiendish look—
(The Pilot made reply)
I am a-feared'—'Push on, push on!'
Said the Hermit cheerily.

The boat came closer to the ship,
But I nor spake nor stirred;
The boat came close beneath the ship,
And straight a sound was heard.

Under the water it rumbled on,
Still louder and more dread:
It reached the ship, it split the bay;
The ship went down like lead.

Stunned by that loud and dreadful sound,
Which sky and ocean smote,
Like one that hath been seven days drowned
My body lay afloat;
But swift as dreams, myself I found
Within the Pilot's boat.

Upon the whirl, where sank the ship,
The boat spun round and round;
And all was still, save that the hill
Was telling of the sound.

I moved my lips—the Pilot shrieked
And fell down in a fit;
The holy Hermit raised his eyes,
And prayed where he did sit.

I took the oars: the Pilot's boy,
Who now doth crazy go,
Laughed loud and long, and all the while
His eyes went to and fro.
'Ha! ha!' quoth he, 'full plain I see,
The Devil knows how to row.'

And now, all in my own countree,
I stood on the firm land!
The Hermit stepped forth from the boat,
And scarcely he could stand.

'O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!'
The Hermit crossed his brow.
'Say quick,' quoth he, 'I bid thee say—
What manner of man art thou?'
Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched
With a woful agony,
Which forced me to begin my tale;
And then it left me free.

Since then, at an uncertain hour,
That agony returns:
And till my ghastly tale is told,
This heart within me burns.

I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech;
That moment that his face I see,
I know the man that must hear me:
To him my tale I teach.

What loud uproar bursts from that door!
The wedding-guests are there:
But in the garden-bower the bride
And bride-maids singing are:
And hark the little vesper bell,
Which biddeth me to prayer!

O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been
Alone on a wide wide sea:
So lonely 'twas, that God himself
Scarce seemèd there to be.

O sweeter than the marriage-feast,
'Tis sweeter far to me,
To walk together to the kirk
With a goodly company!—

To walk together to the kirk,
And all together pray,
While each to his great Father bends,
Old men, and babes, and loving friends
And youths and maidens gay!

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest
Turned from the bridegroom's door.

He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The Art:
Illustrations by Gustave Dore

Saturday 12 December 2020

On the Green God and the Elder Evil, Part 3

 “I am the spirit that negates.
And rightly so, for all that comes to be
Deserves to perish wretchedly;
'Twere better nothing would begin.
Thus everything that that your terms, sin,
Destruction, evil represent—
That is my proper element.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust - Part One 

I had an idea. I thought I might write about what was the eldest of the eldest in Greyhawk, and in my imaginings, that was the Old Faith and the Elder Evil. It’s all in the name, I thought. This will be easy, I thought. I was wrong. Other years, it has become a gordian knot, begging for Alexander’s sword.
What is to be made of it all?
If you haven’t already, read the treatise on the Green God, and the first part of the Elder Evil exploration, before diving into this. They are meant to read as one, but they are long. Regrettably, most of my posts are long. 

To continue: 

The Elder Elemental Eye

The Chained Horror
Consider, if you will, Tharizdun, an apocalyptic being of unbelievable power, and a capricious attitude towards life and all who live it.
The deity Tharizdun is a being of pure destructive force, of cold, conclusive obliteration and utterly evil nihilism. [RttTEE – 4]
That about sums Tharizdun up: dark, cold, malign, destructive, so much so that the whole of the universe had to go, so much so that an entire pantheon of gods has to come together to defeat him. The answer as to why these disparate beings banded together to banish Tharizdun is obvious; the gods are part and parcel with the universe; should it go, so do they. I can imagine they were rather motivated to set aside their differences, for the nonce. If it took all their might to banish Tharizdun, that would make him pretty powerful, equally powerful to the lot of them, it would seem.
An ancient, dark god of malign decay and madness, Tharizdun seeks nothing less than the utter destruction of the universe, reducing all to literal nothingness. Eons ago, Tharizdun was imprisoned when the other gods put aside their differences and attacked in unison, fearing his dread dreams would come to pass. [Dragon #294 – 31]

It’s an old trope, Evil cast down; used in most religions, I imagine; used in the Christian ethos, certainly:
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, 'Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of out brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.
[Revelation 12: 7-10]
Defeated, much like Lucifer, Tharizdun broods; he plots, he manipulates, and awaits his eventual return.
Now Tharizdun is trapped alone in a prison demiplane from which he cannot free himself. His conduits to the Prime Material Plane and the rest of the Great Wheel are few and tenuous, and only learned sages know that Tharizdun was ever worshipped. Under the cover of darkness, cults of his insane priests labor tirelessly to free their dark master from his prison, hoping to aid him in his destruction of all.
Tharizdun’s cultists call him by many names, including He of Eternal Darkness and the Ebon God. He also grants spells in the guise of the Elder Elemental Eye. [Dragon #294 – 31]

That’s how we imagine Tharizdun, anyway.
The question arises: Does Tharizdun truly wish to bring an end to the whole of creation? He must; all our literature professes as much; so, it must be true.
Why? Because he is the embodiment of Entropy, and Oblivion, and wishes a return to its perfection.

If that is the case, we could never hope to understand him.
And if we can never hope to, you have to wonder about his worshipers. Who are they that they should desire the same? Such a world view would be nihilistic, in the extreme. You would have to be insane to worship a god that promises to destroy the universe, bringing an end to everything, themselves in the bargain. So, we have to wonder: Are they insane? Or do they see him in some different “light?”

Oh, Lucifer, son of the morning!
Consider this passage concerning Lucifer:
"How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you said in your heart:
'I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will aabove the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.'
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
Yo the lowest depths of the Pit."
[Isaiah 14: 12-15]

This is how I imagine devotees of the Elemental Eye see their god. Cast down. To rise again in all his glory. But that is their world view of the Elemental Eye. Do they even know that they are worshiping Tharizdun? Few, in fact, realize that they are.

The Elder Elemental Eye is actually an aspect of dread Tharizdun. Clerics of the Elder Elemental Eye are his clerics, although sometimes they do not realize it. [RttTEE – 4]
Even the clerics of the original Temple of Elemental Evil did not refer to the Elder Elemental Eye. They believed that they revered only the evil aspect of the elements themselves (or the demon Zuggtmoy […]). [RttTEE – 4]

Those few that do are hopelessly insane. Did congress with the mind of Tharizdun drive them so?
His cult is small but fanatically devoted. Coming to them in mysterious and mind-wrenching dreams, the deity imparts his dark will to his followers. The goal of Tharizdun’s clerics is to channel enough power to their dread master so that he can free himself from his prison. This, of course, will spell the utter end of the world, and so this faith appeals only to the completely insane. [RttTEE - 4]

Calling to those souls that resonate with His
Whatever their reasons why, the Cult of the Elemental Eye has been around a very long time. Worship of the Elder Eye is ancient. There are long lost temples across the Flanaess that still call to those souls that resonate with His, as Roghan and Zelligar were to their Caves, and Lareth the Beautiful would surely be to the Gnarley Woods. As Wongas was, ages earlier. [WG4] 

When Man was still young, they were drawn to his temple in the Yatils, and would be for centuries, to the dark presence that thrummed in its depth.
The Temple was built in a previous age, a secret place of worship to Tharizdun, He of Eternal Darkness. It drew the most wicked persons to it, and the cult flourished for generations, sending out its minions from time to time to enact some horrible deed upon the lands around. However, a great battle eventually took place between Tharizdun and those opposed to his evil. Unable to destroy him, they were strong enough to overcome his power and imprison him somewhere, by means none have ever been able to discover. Thus Tharizdun disappeared from the face of the earth, and from all of the other known planes, and has not been seen again since. [WG4 - 3]

GREAT CHAPEL: This area appears to be a long-abandoned chapel or small temple, but in whose honor it is impossible to state. The whole is 40' wide and about 60' long, with the far (north) wall concave, the curve being smooth and shallow. Small, fluted columns of deep black stone line a 20' aisle, leaving a 10' wide space beyond on both east and west walls. Within the front 40' of the place, all stone is black. Beyond, where a stone rail rises 3' from the floor, and a curving step or dais rises 1' and meets the back wall, floors and walls are of deepest purple, although the ceiling remains black. [WG4 - 18]

AISLE: The 10' wide area seems to have been well-used, for the floor is worn down, and the walls are likewise slightly dished by the touch of many bodies. If the walls are actually touched, the character will feel a tingling and his or her vision will go black for a fleeting moment, then sight will be restored. Tactile sense will discover that there are strange, indiscernible convolutions here which form mind pictures when touched. These impressions are pleasurable and unsettling at the same time. Any person failing to save versus magic after experiencing this sensation will attempt to return and feel the sensation once again. If this happens, that individual will automatically experience the following things:

1) [Vision] in total darkness will seem normal, but, any light brighter than a hooded lantern will be disgusting to him or her, and he or she will immediately ask that it be extinguished or else he or she will go elsewhere.

2) Strange desires will begin to flood the individual's mind during times of quiet. These desires will be unwholesome at first, then absolutely strange ...

3) The name of Tharizdun will rise unbidden to the individual's lips whenever he or she is under stress and needs aid. [WG4 - 18]

ALTAR RAIL: The square fore portion of the chapel is divided from the sacred portion by a railing of puce-hued stone. This railing is 3' high and intricately carved and pierced. This work is disgusting and disturbing in nature, being of vines and tendrils, tentacles and serpentine bodies intertwined with human forms and skeletons and other things unknowable. [WG4 - 18]

RAISED SECTION: This step or dais appears to be the place where an altar service might have been conducted. There is a low table of black mineral which has bits of shiny purple within its polished surface. […] To either side are rotted and crumbling chairs of some sort. There are piles of rusted metal near the doors on the north wall. What devices or purposes these items once served is impossible to tell. On the wall behind the altar stone there is an anomaly. The violet color of the stone seems to bear the indistinct shadow of a large, vaguely-human shape. But it is so obscure, and so uncertain in form, that it may be a trick of light playing upon the curving surface of stone. [WG4 - 18]

After a time his servants returned again to the Temple, deserted as it was of any manifestation of their deity. Amongst these wicked folk were many powerful magic-users and clerics. All sought with utmost endeavor to discern what had happened to Tharizdun, so that he could be freed and returned to rule over them once again. All attempts were in vain, although the divinations and seekings did reveal to these servants of Eternal Darkness that a "Black Cyst" existed below the Temple. By physical work and magical means they delved downward to reach the Black Cyst. What they discovered there dismayed and disheartened them. In the hemisphere of black needlerock (floating as if by levitation) a huge form could be seen. Was this the physical manifestation of Tharizdun? None could tell. The misty form was black and indistinct and enclosed in vaporous purple energy as well. No ritual, no spell, no magic could pierce the enigma. [WG4 - 3]

As you enter this hemispherical chamber of some 40' diameter, the name of the place comes unbidden to your minds. It is called the cyst, The Black Cyst. From where you stand near the entrance, your iron torches cast only a faint light to where some form lies near the center of the place. This shape is so black that it is absolutely lightless, and it seems to absorb all the radiance from your torches. As was true in the entry chamber, so too here; all is needle-rock. [WG4 - 30]

The Black Cyst
You have dared all and descended the spiraling purple steps formed by the strange column of gray smoke, lilac light, and jet black. This swirling, pulsing column of radiation has opened a means of entrance to somewhere far beneath the surface of the earth — or perhaps to some place not of this earth. All of you feel the press of time, a sense of urgency. How long will this strange gate remain open? You all hope not to learn the hard way as you hurry down a seemingly endless flight of "steps" made of the purple radiance. Ten minutes seems more like ten hours, but at last you have come to what must be your final goal, for the stairs of light give way to more mundane ones of black stone... [WG4 - 29]

Their rituals went unheard.
Then, as time continued to pass, even this ritual grew stale and meaningless. The clerics of Tharizdun began to pilfer the hoard of beautiful gems sacrificed to him by earlier servants [….]
[The] former servants of this deity slipped away with their great wealth to serve other gods and wreak evil elsewhere. [WG4 - 3]

Finally, only Wongas, Tharizdun’s last High Priest, remained. He too grew weary, his life long and unfulfilled. “Lord, why have you forsaken your people,” he cried. Old, tired, spent, he had strength for one more spell, hand having prepared his way.
Wongas' Reward
The last High Priest, alone, wandered off into the place reserved for his remains in the dungeon, for alone he was unable to take his proper place in the Undertemple. Thus, a century ago, the last servant of Tharizdun died, and the Temple was without inhabitant of human sort.
[WG4 - 3]
Unable to place himself in the chief crypt, not being able to get past the guardian there, [Wongas] had his vault placed in this chamber. Before he could begin proper decoration of the sarcophagus, however, the last of the lesser priests and servants deserted the Temple. Eventually, Wongas stalked to his tomb alone, full of rage and hate and shame. The High Priest made his own corpse into a monster by force of hate and displeasure. [WG4 - 26]
Wongas transformed himself into a Coffer Corpse to forever guard his temple against those infidels who might pilfer it as his perfidious brethren had. And Tharizdun’s temple passed into legend.
The Black Cyst knew that others would come, because they always did. So, it sang its song, and waited. Patiently, as is the way of Tharizdun. Patiently? One wonders, for the Black Cyst, like its master, does not feel the passage of Time.

Time did pass. Centuries. And the Evil rose again, as it is wont to do.


Whether the evil came west from Dyvers as is claimed by one faction, or crept up out of the forestlands bordering the Wild Coast as others assert, come it did. At first it was only a few thieves and an odd group of bandits molesting the merchant caravans. Then came small bands of humanoids-kobolds or goblins raiding the flocks and herds. Local militia and foresters of the Waldgraf of Ostverk apparently checked, but not stopped, the spread of outlawry and evil.
A collection of hovels and their slovenly inhabitants formed the nucleus for the troubles which were to increase. A wicked cleric established a small chapel at this point. The folk of Hommlet tended to ignore Nulb, even though it was but six miles distant. The out-of-the-way position was ideal for the fell purposes planned for this settlement, as was its position on a small river flowing into the Velverdyva. The thickets and marshes around Nulb became the lair and hiding place for bandits, brigands, and all sorts of evil men and monsters alike. The chapel grew into a stone temple as its faithful brought in their ill-gotten tithes. Good folk were robbed, pillaged, enslaved, or worse. In but three years a grim and foreboding fortress surrounded the evil place, and swarms of creatures worshipped and worked their wickedness there. The servants of the Temple of Elemental Evil made Hommlet and the lands for leagues around a mockery of freedom and beauty. Commerce ceased, crops withered, pestilence was abroad. But the leaders of this cancer were full of hubris, and in their overweaning pride sought to overthrow the good realms to the north who were coming to the rescue of the land being crushed under the tyranny wrought by the evil temple. A great battle was fought to the east, and when villagers saw streams of ochre-robed men and humanoids fleeing south and west through their community, there was great rejoicing, for they knew that the murderous oppressors had been defeated and driven from the field in panic and rout.
So great was the slaughter, so complete the victory of good, that the walled stronghold of the Temple of Elemental Evil fell within a fortnight, despite the aid of a terrible demon. The place was ruined and sealed against a further return of such abominations by powerful blessings and magic. [T1 The Village of Hommlet - 2]

Worshippers of those evil deities is scattered about, and on the rise again everywhere, or so it would seem.
It seemed that no monsters were left to slay, no evil existed here to be stamped out. For four years thereafter, this seemed true, but then bandits began to ride the roads again-not frequently, but to some effect. This seemed all too familiar somehow to the good folk of Hommlet, so they sent word to the Viscount that wicked forces might still lurk thereabouts. This information has been spread throughout the countryside, and the news has attracted outsiders to the village once again. Who and what these men are, no one can be quite sure, although all claim to be bent on slaying monsters and bringing peace and security to Hommlet, for deeds speak more loudly than words, and lies cloak true purposes of the malevolent. [T1 - 2]

Using their connections in the still-thriving cult of Lolth (unlike that of Zuggtmoy), the clerics of the Elder Elemental Eye influenced powerful individuals to return to the ruined temple. Lareth the Beautiful, the wizard Falrinth, Barkinar the commander, and others, not all of whom were friendly to one another, found their way into the hierarchy of the new temple. This time, its backers believed, the temple would grow quietly until it was ready to strike. [RttTEE - 6]

Lareth the Beautiful
None are as dedicated to their cause as Lareth, “the Beautiful.” Any and all who associate with him are seduced by his beauty, easily subverted to his cause.
Lolth was as smitten as any other. She has sent him aid, believing as any other that might meet him, that he is loyal and true.
Lareth the Beautiful is the dark hope of chaotic evil—young, handsome, well endowed in abilities and aptitudes, thoroughly wicked, depraved, and capricious. Whomever harms Lareth had best not brag of it in the presence of one who will inform the Demoness Lolth. [T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil - 26]
Lareth has been sent to this area to rebuild a force of men and humanoid fighters to gather loot and restore the Temple of Elemental Evil to its former glory. He is but one of many so charged, of course, but is looked upon with special favor and expectation. He and his minions have been careful to raid far from this area, never nearer than three or four leagues, travelling on foot or riding in wagons of the traders from Hommlet. None of the victims are ever left alive to tell the tale, and mysterious disappearances are all that can be remarked upon. No trace of men, mounts, goods, wagons or draft animals is ever found.
Evil to the core, Lareth is cunning. If a situation appears in doubt, he uses bribery and honeyed words to sway the balance to his favor. He is not adverse to gaining new recruits of all sorts, and will gladly accept adventurers into the ranks (though he will test and try them continually). Those who arouse suspicion will be quietly murdered in their sleep. Those with too much promise will be likewise dealt with, for Lareth wants no potential usurpers or threats to his domination. [T1-4 - 26]

In days past, when Lareth the Beautiful commanded the moathouse (the outpost for the Temple of Elemental Evil), both Zuggtmoy and Lolth believed him to be their priest—when really he served none other than the Elder Elemental Eye [Tharizdun]. [RttTEE – 5]

Lareth Risen
While Lareth was indeed slain by adventurers in this room, an even more powerful cleric of the Elder Elemental Eye, named Hedrack, raised him from the dead soon afterward and spirited him away. [RttTEE - 30]

Surely, after such utter defeat, the temple would pose no further threat to the lands of good.
Not so. In fact, in the years that have passed the insane and corrupt followers of the Dark God have moved closer to victory than ever before. A number of clerics and powerful servants in the Temple of Elemental Evil were spirited away by agents from the cult of Tharizdun to a new, hidden temple in the Lortmil Mountains. [RttTEE- 6]

Lareth does in fact know a great deal about the cult of Tharizdun, garnered from bits of information overheard in the temple and called forth in divinations that he has performed. Back in the day—like almost all the other clerics involved with the Temple of Elemental Evil—Lareth had no idea that he was actually working for the cult of Tharizdun. [RttTEE - 32]

Evil cults based in Verbinbonc and Southern Furyony are rare but dangerous, worshipping evil deities such as Iuz, Vecna (evil secrets), Tharizdun (entropy, insanity), and the Elder Elemental God. [Slavers – 10]

This rise is not a local occurrence.
The floor in this cavern is packed sand, pale yellow with flecks of iridescent material. Tendrils of pale mist or smoke writhe along the ground, carrying the rank odor of muddy filth and the sharp tang of resin or incense.
Ahead rises a pyramidal spire, as thin and sharp as a dart. It is composed of dusky gray stone, marbled with the ghastly white of dead flesh. A staring eye adorns the visible side of the spire.
A pit filled with glowing coals lies just beyond each corner of the spire. Yellow and blue flames dance over the coals, and tendrils of smoke and mist wander among the tongues of fire before escaping the pits and creeping along the floor.
An irregular pool ringed with slime lies beyond the spire. [A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry - 19]
Brubgrok brought in a small group of evil clerics to assist him with his operations. The clerics worship an unspeakably evil god they refer to as the Elder Elemental Eye, or simply the Eye. [A0 - 19]

There are things buried deep in the oerth that should remain so; lest they be released and destroy us all.
The Ebon Lord waits still. He has scattered the means of his returns hither and yon.
Beyond the purple veil, the rounded black walls of an entirely different room stretch out around you. It is completely black here, yet you can see the size and features of the room—as if here you can see shades of darkness. A dark, oblong orb, like an egg, rests atop a long black block. The orb is shrouded in swirling mist. [RttTEE - 116]

The Elder Elemental Eye is an aspect of Tharizdun. It was created to mask the cult from the forces of good and to draw in new worshippers who might be afraid to serve Tharizdun directly. Clerics of the Elder Elemental Eye typically wear ochre-coloured robes and carry or wear a symbol, a black triangle with an inverted Y-shape inscribed within it. Some times the robes are altered to reflect which element the specific cleric is aligned with (air, earth, fire, water).

If the Elder Elemental Eye was Tharizdun, was the Elder Elemental God Tharizdun?

"No, the Elder Elemental God I envisaged as an entity of vaguely Chronos-like sort, a deity of great power but of chaotic sort, and not always highly clever in thought and action. Big T on the other hand is the epitome of pure, reasoning and scheming evil. Eclavdra, being more of the mold of Tharizdun, would prefer to have as "master" a powerful deity she might hope to influence, thus the EGG."
Gary Gygax ("Col_Pladoh"), 10th January, 2003, Q&A with Gary Gygax Part I, Enworld.

All that did was muddy the water.

I would hazard that the Green God and the Elder Evil, however we might name them, are old indeed, far older than anyone imagines. They find their origin at the very beginning.
Consider this:
In the beginning there was Eternity. It dreamed.
The Dreaming Void
Eternity knew nothing of time and space, because it came before these constructs, and had yet to dream them. But it was from that dream that arose the infinite possibilities of what might be; and what was once infinite fragmented with each new possibility dreamed. The Dream imagined; the Dream saw, and creation began. An imagined shape coalesced from that swirling chaos, itself revolving, and rotating, becoming, taking form.
Form by its very nature was no longer infinite possibility. Form must Be. And thus, Law was born.
That form became the Twin Serpents, and they divided the firmament, constructing the Elements when each took the other by the tail and devoured its mirrored image, creating the Great Wheel of the Outer Planes. Thus, even Chaos, as we understand it, is a facet of Law. Eons passed. The universe became. Life emerged, and its foundation became the Green God. But existence has never been static. It changes. It flows, ever seeking a greater perfection that it can never attain.
But part of the dream wished to return to the perfection of the infinite possibility that was once the eternal void. And thus, Entropy was born, even as Law was.
Both are Possibility. And both are eternal. And all stem from them/It. Indeed, It predates the planes, as it was the Dreaming that created the elements and then the planes from the elements.
Even as the spark of life formed, so too did its opposite, Oblivion—what we would call death. Oblivion found purchase in Death. We might call Oblivion the Elder Evil; but that would be wrong. Life is not Good, just as Oblivion is not Evil. They existed before such simple philosophies, and as such, neither could ever understand them. To them, all things “Are,” or “Are Not.”
Our desire “to be” found form in the Sacred Male and the Sacred Female, the Father and the Mother, Obad-Hai and Beory. We created them in our own image. They appear as human to humans, lizardfolk to lizardfolk, treants to treants. The Green God is far more powerful than either of them because they are an imagined aspect of It.
It is only our desire to exist that created the precept that the Void, and the “Is Not”, are evil. And it was then that Evil was born, and in its most primitive state it became the Elder Elemental God, only becoming Tharizdun, the Destroyer, the Hater of Life, as our fears became more concrete.
Do those Eternal Entities hate one another? No. How can one hate the other when they are the Twin Serpents of Creation, forever entwined; or dare I suggest it: One and the Same. 

The gods as we know them are only constructs of our imagination, begot from out desire to make sense of the universe. We created them in our infancy to put a face to our wishes and fears. The eldest of those are the greater gods, the youngest demi-gods. Those emerging, ascending, are Quasi-deities and Heroes.
Eternity Chained
So, why did it take the entirety of the pantheon to imprison Tharizdun? Because Tharizdun is truly one half of the Universe.

And in the end, there can only be one.

I would suggest that Gary Gygax was of the same mind as H.P. Lovecraft when he created the Elder Elemental God, and then Tharizdun. There are some evils that are just too horrifying to comprehend—let alone defeat. To attempt to do so would result in insanity (if you were lucky), or more likely, the loss of your soul.
One would be better suited to defeat those who worship that inexplicable Evil, then that Evil itself.

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”
― H.P. Lovecraft

To conclude, I give you words and wisdom from our greatest muse:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5



One must always give credit where credit is due. This piece is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable.
Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
The Art:
Hommlet detail, by Dave Trampier, from T1 The Village of Hommlet, 1979
Lareth detail, by David Roach, from Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, 2001
Temple detail, , by Rich Longmore, from A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry, 2013
Twin Serpents detail, by Hannibal King, from Guide to Hell, 1999

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9023 B1 In Search of the Unknown, 1979
9034 B2 Keep on the Borderlands, 1980
9058 G1-3 Against the Giants, 1981
9065 WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, 1982
9147 The Temple of Elemental Evil, 1985
Dragon Magazine 294
The Greyhawkania Index, compiled by Zason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer