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Gods of the Flanaess: Nerull
Posted on Thu, March 15, 2007 by Legate
CruelSummerLord writes ""Death is the end, the final conclusion to all life.  Lord Nerull allows the strongest to take what they will from the living, and to determine who will next be sent into his cold, cruel embrace.  We are the masters of life and death, holding absolute power power over lesser mortals, through our master.  This is the gift he gives to us for furthering his work on Oerth."-The Unnamable Hierarch, High Priest of the Reaper of Souls. 



            NERULL

            Domains: Death, darkness, murder, the underworld, the afterlife, the judgment of souls

Home Plane: Gehenna

            Alignment: Neutrally evil

            Alignment of Clergy: Any morally neutral and any evil

            Alignment of Worshippers: Lawful and neutral, lawful and evil, neutral and evil, or true neutral, although people of all races can donate to the priests of Nerull to pray on their behalf to their dark master.  Most priests of Nerull are human, although many humanoids also revere this dark deity. 

            History and Relationships: It is said that as long as death has existed, will exist, and will continue to exist, so too will Nerull, who is called the Reaper of Souls in some of the tales of the Flan elders.  He has always stood cold and aloof, keeping his own counsel except when he must.  His relationships with the devils, demons and daemons are very bad, given that these creatures were vomited up by the Dark Lord when Dread Tharizdun was thwarted, and so they only answer his calls with fear and hatred, while he responds in kind.  The only exceptions to this rule are Mephistopheles and Asmodeus, arch-devils who share many of his beliefs and work with him in spreading them on Oerth. 

            Utterly pitiless and without compassion, Nerull has deliberately killed all emotions in his heart to the extent that nothing interferes with his duties.  Nerull is also the guardian of the tomb of the Dark Lord, Dread Tharizdun.  His eternal, lonely vigil has required him to pursue his duty without pity.  It is he who ensures that all living things of Oerth pass to their graves-nothing and no one can escape his grasp.  He encourages and welcomes those who hasten the process of death and dying, and is unconcerned by the sadism, wickedness and tyranny of many of his mortal servants.  Anything and everything is excusable to ensure that everything passes as it must, with fear and oppression used to ensure that everyone knows their place and performs their role.  It is that philosophy that the Horned Society uses to justify its cruelty and oppression. 

            Nothing and no one, save the arch-devils Mephistopheles and Asmodeus, have anything less than fear and hatred for Nerull, and he responds in kind.  While he respects Incabulos and Erythnul, whose beliefs often bring more souls into his grasp, all other deities know that if they were subject to the Reaper’s power, he would not hesitate for a second to use it.  

Teachings: Nerull’s clergy teach that life is ultimately futile and worthless, and that it makes no difference how one lives in life, as they will all ultimately suffer the same fate in death.  They hotly dispute the idea that souls are judged according to their actions in life, and rewarded or punished accordingly, stating instead that all souls, whoever and whatever they may have been in life, toil in Nerull’s kingdom for the rest of eternity. 

That said, as all will eventually perish and be equal in death, Nerull’s church recognizes that life is fundamentally unequal, and that the strongest can and will make their own rules and get their own way.  The church can actively encourage this, allowing the strongest to survive and dictate the rules for the rest, a philosophy prevalent in both the old Ur-Flan cults of the “Horned Ones” and in the modern Horned Society and Horned Empire.  Malice, hatred, sadism and cruelty are all acknowledged and accepted virtues, which often bring more souls into Nerull’s embrace.  As all perish in the end and become ultimately one with Nerull, a person’s actions in life are meaningless. 

            Interaction with Outsiders: Nerull is widely feared by most in the Flanaess, and the actions of its most extreme sects in the Horned Society and the Ur-Flan cults only confirm this perception in their minds.  The faith of Nerull is one of the sanctioned faiths of the Horned Society, and all citizens must tithe in grain and coin to the church.  It is here and here alone that the church of Nerull enjoys true temporal power. 

            While the church of Nerull is only actively banned in the Pale and the See of Medegia, in most other states it has little true influence or devotion.  Underground cults of Nerull, who are actively involved in plots and schemes that commonly lead them to battle with adventurers and heroes often tar the reputations of those more moderate variant sects that have openly established temples in cities such as Niole Dra, Rel Mord, Greyhawk, Rel Astra, Stoink, Vlekstaad, Gorna, Scant, Dyvers, and Naerie. 

Those Nerullians who operate openly among the public usually try to keep to themselves, although they often put up with abuse and worse from fearful citizens and superstitious peasants.  They commonly work in laying the dead to rest, particularly those who have no one to mourn for them or who simply belong to no particular faith, as well as people who die poor, homeless or alone. 

In this case, they proceed quietly and without hesitation in performing their duties.  Anyone who has nowhere else to provide a decent burial and memorial service for a friend will find willing aid at a temple of Nerull.  Anyone can be buried with honor and be given a funeral, with calm reception and unimposing help from the priests, who usually merely request a donation so they may continue their work. 

They also commonly accept donations from those who want them to pray to their dark master on the penitent’s behalf, either to ward off death or to ensure that a departed loved one is resting peacefully in the afterlife.  They stoically accept the abuse many heap on them, knowing that, in the end, they will be as equal as their abusers when they meet after death. 

            The independent Flan have a wide variety of opinions on the faith of Nerull.  Some deeply hate it, most notably those who have suffered at the hands of the Ur-Flan Horned Ones who spread terror and murder in their dark god’s name before the Great Migrations.  Others view it more neutrally, also hating the evil of the cults of the Horned Ones, but still viewing Nerull as a necessary, if distasteful, aspect of the cycle of life that all beings pass through on their existence. 

They consider Nerull and the Oerth Mother Beory to exist in symbiosis, Beory giving birth to all things at the beginning of their lives and Nerull returning them to her when they die.  Few independent Flan nations, save those corrupted by the evil of the Horned Ones, revere Nerull, but wandering Flan have their own rituals, songs and dances with which to pay their respects to the god and the part he plays in the balance of life and death. 

            Variant Sects: There are gentler, more moderate branches of the Nerullian faith who stress the aspect of Nerull that accepts all who die and states that all die equally.  They believe that everyone, from the richest king to the poorest serf, deserves the dignity and peace of being properly laid to rest, and take it upon themselves to do so.  Those who may have been turned away from other churches for reasons of poverty, reputation or alignment, yet still wish to die with dignity, are often given sanctuary and put to rest by the Nerullians. 

            One of the sharpest divisions in the church concerns the raising of undead.  Some Nerullians claim that the dead are their master’s playthings, and that by granting them spells he is using his servants as strings to direct such puppets.  Others fiercely denounce the undead as an affront to the equality of the dead that Nerull teaches, claiming that they pervert the Reaper’s teachings. 

            Stoicism, calmness and a cool head are admired by all Nerullians, but some view sadism, malice, cruelty and hatred as virtues, while others prefer simple devotion and obedience to the wishes of the dying.  No one would ever accuse a Nerullian of compassion, however-if adventurers were to bring a mortally wounded companion into a Nerullian temple of even moderate beliefs and beg for their friend to be healed, the Nerullian, even if he were a moderate, would refuse to interfere with the work of his master. 

Disease and mortal wounds are not to be treated, as they are merely signs that Nerull has chosen to collect this victim’s soul at this particular time, and it would be a sin to thwart his intentions using his own gifts.  If an adventurer or other sick or dying person were to perish in a temple of Nerullian moderates, however, they would be given all honor and respect due the deceased, regardless of their station or status in life, and their bodies and souls would be treated appropriately. 

The moderate Nerullians who stress respect for the dead and doing them honor are viewed as contemptuous weaklings by their evil brethren, who consider them as “servants of the living” and make people lose respect for their master by presenting him as someone who provides succor and peace to those who suffer and die.  Truly evil Nerullians prefer to spread fear for their deity, saying that the proper way to spread the message of Nerull is to make everyone fear and dread the fate they cannot escape, that no matter where they run and where they hide, Nerull will find them. 

            Adventuring Clergy: Very few of Nerull’s clergy adventure openly displaying the symbol of their deity, as those relatively benign sects of the dark god are not disposed to the adventuring profession.  Those sects that are so inclined are always evil and dangerous, working with evil adventuring bands and as agents of malevolent powers like the Horned Society, the Slave Lords, or any other number of evil beings and organizations. 

            Any adventuring clergy of Nerull will usually disguise their faith in almost any realm except the Bandit Kingdoms, the Horned Society, the Pomarj, or Ahlissa.  The more moderate and benign priests of Nerull use less frightening and violent images, rituals and symbols when in the open, and so they are often grudgingly tolerated.  Those who are exposed as priests of Nerull can expect to be impaled, drawn and quartered or burnt at the stake, for only Nerullians who plot evil deeds have any reason to disguise themselves. 

Very few of Nerull’s clergy adventure openly displaying the symbol of their deity, as those relatively benign sects of the dark god are not disposed to the adventuring profession.  Those sects that are so inclined are always evil and dangerous, working with evil adventuring bands and as agents of malevolent powers like the Horned Society, the Slave Lords, or any other number of evil beings and organizations. 
There are gentler, more moderate branches of the Nerullian faith who stress the aspect of Nerull that accepts all who die and states that all die equally.  They believe that everyone, from the richest king to the poorest serf, deserves the dignity and peace of being properly laid to rest, and take it upon themselves to do so.  Those who may have been turned away from other churches for reasons of poverty, reputation or alignment, yet still wish to die with dignity, are often given sanctuary and put to rest by the Nerullians. 
Nerull is widely feared by most in the Flanaess, and the actions of its most extreme sects in the Horned Society and the Ur-Flan cults only confirm this perception in their minds.  The faith of Nerull is one of the sanctioned faiths of the Horned Society, and all citizens must tithe in grain and coin to the church.  It is here and here alone that the church of Nerull enjoys true temporal power. 
Nerull’s clergy teach that life is ultimately futile and worthless, and that it makes no difference how one lives in life, as they will all ultimately suffer the same fate in death.  They hotly dispute the idea that souls are judged according to their actions in life, and rewarded or punished accordingly, stating instead that all souls, whoever and whatever they may have been in life, toil in Nerull’s kingdom for the rest of eternity. 
It is said that as long as death has existed, will exist, and will continue to exist, so too will Nerull, who is called the Reaper of Souls in some of the tales of the Flan elders.  He has always stood cold and aloof, keeping his own counsel except when he must.  His relationships with the devils, demons and daemons are very bad, given that these creatures were vomited up by the Dark Lord when Dread Tharizdun was thwarted, and so they only answer his calls with fear and hatred, while he responds in kind.  The only exceptions to this rule are Mephistopheles and Asmodeus, arch-devils who share many of his beliefs and work with him in spreading them on Oerth. 
Lawful and neutral, lawful and evil, neutral and evil, or true neutral, although people of all races can donate to the priests of Nerull to pray on their behalf to their dark master.  Most priests of Nerull are human, although many humanoids also revere this dark deity.  It is said that as long as death has existed, will exist, and will continue to exist, so too will Nerull, who is called the Reaper of Souls in some of the tales of the Flan elders.  He has always stood cold and aloof, keeping his own counsel except when he must.  His relationships with the devils, demons and daemons are very bad, given that these creatures were vomited up by the Dark Lord when Dread Tharizdun was thwarted, and so they only answer his calls with fear and hatred, while he responds in kind.  The only exceptions to this rule are Mephistopheles and Asmodeus, arch-devils who share many of his beliefs and work with him in spreading them on Oerth. 
Any morally neutral and any evilLawful and neutral, lawful and evil, neutral and evil, or true neutral, although people of all races can donate to the priests of Nerull to pray on their behalf to their dark master.  Most priests of Nerull are human, although many humanoids also revere this dark deity.  It is said that as long as death has existed, will exist, and will continue to exist, so too will Nerull, who is called the Reaper of Souls in some of the tales of the Flan elders.  He has always stood cold and aloof, keeping his own counsel except when he must.  His relationships with the devils, demons and daemons are very bad, given that these creatures were vomited up by the Dark Lord when Dread Tharizdun was thwarted, and so they only answer his calls with fear and hatred, while he responds in kind.  The only exceptions to this rule are Mephistopheles and Asmodeus, arch-devils who share many of his beliefs and work with him in spreading them on Oerth. 
"
 
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