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The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, the duergar, bodaks

 
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:18 am    Post subject: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, the duergar, bodaks Reply with quote

WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun wrote:
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.


"A previous age" might just mean prior to the Age of Great Sorrow beginning in 213 CY, but I think the implication is a much longer timescale. In Michael Kasparian's interview 22 Questions on Tharizdun, Gygax said that he imagined the Temple had been built by "third or fourth generation" Suel and other races who had mingled with them shortly after the Suel-Bakluni Wars, and that Tharizdun was bound approximately 750 years ago (from circa 576 CY, so approximately -175 CY).

In the Oerth Journal #1 timeline, the Temple of Tharizdun in the Yatils was founded in 900 SD (-4616 CY) by Arinanin, a lich who had ruled the Suel lands for over 400 years before being driven out after the disastrous alliance between the Suel and the dark elves in the war that led to the descent of the drow. With the priesthood of Tharizdun he had allied with, Arinanin fled to the Yatils and established a temple.

Lenard Lakofka's revised timeline in Oerth Journal #11 changed Arinanin to a vampire and his high priest Tilorop to a lich, but I don't like this as well. For one thing, it gives vampires and liches the same origin.

The Runes of the Dwurs at Azak-Morad, a dwarven history by the French Greyhawk fan group Les Fauconniers, added to the Oerth Journal #1 timeline, stating that human temples to Tharizdun were discovered in 2695 RD in the dwarven calendar (-3081 CY) in the reign of Duegan IV, king of the dwarven kingdom of Damgarath in the Yatil Mountains. Duegan seemed more concerned with elves entering his lands and undermining his authority than with the Tharizdun worshipers, though the dwarves of Yrden in the Barrier Peaks were more concerned with the Dark God's influence. Tharizdun isn't mentioned again, but Duegan soon went mad, beginning a war with Yrden that ended with the exile of his people and the birth of the duergar race.

The implication here, I think, is that Tharizdun's cult corrupted Duegan. If Arinanin was a Suel lich, he could have actually possessed Duegan's body permanently, at least until it burnt out and he needed to find a replacement.

Oerth Journal #1's elven timeline stated that Tharizdun's temple in the Yatils was "cleared" in 3900 OC (-563 CY).

Dungeon #151 places Tsojcanth at the battle with Tharizdun's forces, and Complete Champion credited an adventuring party known as the Six from Shadow with Tharizdun's final defeat (along with an army that was mostly annihilated). Both Tsojcanth and the Six are also said to have defeated a wielder of one of Vecna's artifacts, which would place the battle much more recently than both -3051 CY, the date Les Fauconniers gave to the descent of the duergar, and -563 CY, since Vecna wasn't defeated until -358 CY or so. Unless the Temple rose and fell more than once.

The Six from Shadow were "clever Dardallion of Greyhawk, the devout Imdastri of the Heavens, the sagely Ktolemagne Sky-Reader, the relentless Orsos the Black, the brutish but brilliant Sunyartra Eight-Fingers, and Lord Marshal Sir Reikhardt of Geoff." Greyhawk, according to The Adventure Begins, was known by that name from at least 330 OR. Geoff has seemingly been known by that name (or as Gyruff) since time immemorial. It's also possible the Six's places of origin have been modernized in recent retellings. One of them might, conceivably, have been Tsojcanth in an assumed identity.

The Slayer's Guide to Undead by Gary Gygax and Jon Creffield identifies the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun as the origin of the bodak.

The Slayer's Guide to Undead wrote:
"Simon Trismagestus tells of a distant valley where a temple was built to the elder gods, the people there honouring the forgotten ones with blood and prayers until they awoke He Who is Lost.

"In the center of the evil fane a great shard of black crystal, twice as tall as a man, hung suspended. The priests and wizards scryed places and worlds far distant when they gazed into its ebony depths. One winter's night, when all about the temple was coated in frost, they beheld The Hidden One's unutterably beautiful face in the translucent rock.

"Who can look upon pure evil and not be driven to madness? Blasted were those wizards and priests, driven screaming from the black sanctuary to tear out the eyes that had seen what no man should see. Death claimed them, but those who have come into contact with absolute evil and looked upon utter wickedness cannot escape its consequences, even in death.

"The shocked valley-dwellers buried the fallen seers in caves to the north of their city. When the sun descended behind the mountains that night, the tombs opened once more as the first bodaks came into the world. To their former temple the undead walked, seeing through orbs, soulless and white, that had taken the place of the eyes they tore out. The men, women, and children of the valley sought to placate the returned souls, horrid though they seemed, with gifts of bread and fruit but the bodaks brought both death and undeath to their countrymen.

"To this day the bodaks creep over the face of the world, always by darkness for they cannot endure the sun's warm glare, spreading their curse through the pale, godless eyes given them by The Lord of Darkness Eternal."


WG4's portrayal of Tharizdun's cult, as a place of evil that periodically inflicted vile deeds on neighboring nations, fits with the idea of an ancient lich (or vampire, I suppose) leading troops but doesn't fit with the later development of Tharizdun as a being who could plausibly bring about the end of all existence. In Michael Kasparian's interview 22 Questions on Tharizdun, Gygax clarified that it was a "minor avatar" who led the cult. Gygax wrote that "these avatars do not necessarily understand their own status, or even know of their source." Perhaps Arinanin himself had somehow evolved into an avatar of Tharizdun, or had been one all along?

In "22 Questions," Gygax identified the Cyst beneath the Temple as a "tendril of energy" leading to Tharizdun's true prison on another plane, which fits with the narrative in The Slayer's Guide to Undead where Tharizdun's priests witness distant worlds within it.

Robert J. Schwalb's adventure "The Essence of Evil" from Dungeon #152 featured an avatar of Tharizdun known as Shothragot. Shothragot has the ability to summon "black cysts," which in this telling aren't portals to Tharizdun's prison, but monsters for the PCs to fight. Shothragot has nothing to do with the Forgotten Temple, however; it's imprisoned beneath Mount Stalagos from Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. But Shothragot is freed after being fed the 333 gems from the Forgotten Temple.
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:55 am    Post subject: Re: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, the duergar, bodaks Reply with quote

I appreciate your research, Rasgon, tying disparate pieces of canon and fanon together into reasonable conclusions. :)

The following conundrum, however, you left only partially answered, so I would like to offer another possibility.

rasgon wrote:
WG4's portrayal of Tharizdun's cult, as a place of evil that periodically inflicted vile deeds on neighboring nations, fits with the idea of an ancient lich (or vampire, I suppose) leading troops but doesn't fit with the later development of Tharizdun as a being who could plausibly bring about the end of all existence.


Humanity's limited understanding of the divine nature has been evolving (for the better, I hope) throughout our history. Perhaps seeming discrepancies in the recorded nature of Tharizdan simply represent an evolving understanding of that evil being's true nature. To whit, ancient cultists only understood him as seeking chaos, murder, and mayhem while today's cultists have a more enlightened(?) view of his ultimate desire being to rid existence of all that is in it. Obviously, only an insane person would seek their own utter annihilation, so it reasons that Tharizdan is also a good of insanity. :P

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rasgon
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:31 pm    Post subject: Re: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, the duergar, bodaks Reply with quote

SirXaris wrote:
I appreciate your research, Rasgon, tying disparate pieces of canon and fanon together into reasonable conclusions. :)


My post above didn't have as strong of a narrative as I wanted when I started writing it.

What I wanted was to just write a simple timeline of the Forgotten Temple based on the OJ #1, official works, and my own speculation, but as I did more research I thought the canon sources were undermining where I wanted to go. The main problem was I was trying to collapse all references into a single battle (the Descent of the Duergar was the same as the Age of Darkness ended by Rao in Flan myth, was the same as the Binding of Tharizdun from WG4) and that doesn't really fit. I should have been spreading them out into multiple resurgences of the Temple.

My preferred timeline would be something like:

Mythic Past: Tharizdun is bound by an alliance of the other gods.

c. -2,000,000 CY: The destruction of the faranth civilization leaves their temple to Tharizdun in the Yatils abandoned.

-5518 CY: The First Protector of the Suel, Alianor of House Hurn, dies in an attempted invasion of the isles of Nippon.

-5166 CY: In the Suloise Basin, the First Regency War ends with one of the regents destroyed after accusations of possession by evil beings.

-5046 CY: Arinanin of House Korin, a distant descendant of Alianor, demands the Regents grant him the title of First Protector; this is denied and Arinanin is imprisoned.

-5026 CY: Tilorop of House Nan, a descendant of the Regent deposed in the First Regent War, frees Arinanin from prison, telling him that the House of Nan has been secretly worshiping Tharizdun for generations. Deeper lore: Tilorop is the deposed Regent and a Suel lich; he's been hopping from body to body for generations and is currently inhabiting the body of Tilorop, his own descendant.

-5010 CY: Tilorop and Arinanin attempt to overthrow the Regency, but are defeated in the Second Regent War. Arinanin falls in battle, but Tilorop transforms him into Oerth's first lich. Deeper lore: Tilorop's own body is grievously wounded, so he transfers his spirit into a new host: Arinanin.

-5003 CY: Tilorop and Arinanin overthrow the Regency in what is remembered as the Third Regent War. Tilorop is appointed Priest Regent and the lich Arinanin declares himself Chief Regent of the Suel. The Time of Darkness begins. Deeper lore: The spirit of Tilorop inhabits the body of Arinanin, and a new priest of Tilorop's bloodline is appointed to venerate Arinanin as Avatar of Tharizdun and offer his body as the lich's new host when the time arrives.

-4666 CY: The Descent of the Drow. The drow, allied with giants, orcs, and the Suel army under the direction of Arinanin, are defeated in their final battle against the gray elves. The Rockseer elves flee the final battle. The Suel army is entirely destroyed and the drow are driven underground.

-4616 CY: The other Suel houses band together and overthrow Arinanin, who flees north, along with his priesthood, making the ancient Temple of Tharizdun in the Yatils his new headquarters. Arinanin begins referring to himself solely as Tharizdun. For centuries, he survives by hopping between the bodies of his high priests, his followers preying upon the peoples of the north. Eventually they dwindle, and the spirit of Tilorop/Arinanin goes into dormancy in the Black Cyst beneath the temple. Deeper lore: If the lich was not already an avatar of Tharizdun, it becomes such after long centuries inhabiting the Oerthly aspect of Dread Tharizdun's otherworldly prison.

-3081 CY: Dwarven explorers uncover the Forgotten Temple. Entering the fane of the Black Cyst, the spirit awakens and possesses the body of one of the dwarves, and eventually takes over the body of the dwarven king, Duegan. Duegan begins raging about immigrants from the recently founded elven nation of Highfolk, while the dwarves of the Barrier Peaks watch alertly for signs of Tharizdun's corruption.

-3051 CY: King Duegan declares war against Highfolk; an alliance of Highfolk elves with the dwarves of the Barrier Peaks eventually defeats his armies, which retreat into the Underdark, becoming the duergar after centuries of enslavement by the illithids. Tharizdun's avatar goes back into hibernation in the Black Cyst.

-563 CY: An alliance of dwarves, gnomes, elves, and Flan humans, aided by the timely intervention of the deva Incarum and the Crook of Rao, defeats a new resurgence of Tharizdun's avatar, which goes back into dormancy.

-175 CY: An alliance of neighboring nations defeats a new resurgence of Tharizdun's cult. Tharizdun's avatar is bound to the Black Cyst permanently by the wizard Tsojcanth with the aid of an adventuring party known as the Six from Shadow.

213 CY: Worshipers of Tharizdun rediscover the Forgotten Temple, but are unable to determine how to free their master. The Lament for Lost Tharizdun is composed. The greatest priests are transformed into bodaks after staring too long into the Black Cyst.

476 CY: The last High Priest of Tharizdun dies, leaving the Forgotten Temple uninhabited except by wandering monsters.
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jamesdglick
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 9:57 am    Post subject: Re: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, the duergar, bodaks Reply with quote

rasgon wrote:
...In Michael Kasparian's interview 22 Questions on Tharizdun, Gygax clarified that it was a "minor avatar" who led the cult. Gygax wrote that "these avatars do not necessarily understand their own status, or even know of their source." Perhaps Arinanin himself had somehow evolved into an avatar of Tharizdun, or had been one all along?...


-There was that adventure in Dragon, where a follower of Tharizdun hooked up with his sister in order to create an avatar of Tharizdun. How the baby turned out depended on what the mighty adventurers did, so presumably, they don't immediately know their origin (if ever), and if they do discover it, they have an element of free will in what they do with their powers.
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