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The tower looks vaguely like a crooked ram's horn; the thing is lit from below by the nauseating light which seems to flow from the pit in an almost liquid manner. But most terrible of all are the hundreds of severed heads impaled on the cruel barbed hooks that seem to cover every square foot of the tower's matrix [ The Scythe of Orcus is a minor artifact which Orcus has been known to give to his favored minions, and which was described in the adventure "Headless" in Dungeon 89, with game statistics on page The Scythe is made entirely out of yellowed bone, but has the strength and hardness of adamantine.

It can sever the heads of opponents like a vorpal sword. Anything slain by the Scythe of Orcus but not beheaded rises again as a free-willed undead creature, and the wielder of the Scythe can magically summon these undead creatures. The Scythe is intelligent and chaotic evil in alignment, and can communicate with its wielder by empathy. If the wielder works to promote the will of Orcus, the Scythe is happy, but if not then the Scythe tries to gain control and attack its wielder, returning to Orcus with a blast of hot sulfurous wind if it kills its wielder.

The adventure Dead Gods gives a glimpse into the past life of Orcus, as seen through a manifestation in the form of a shapechanging creature on the Astral Plane:. At first, the being appears to be a fat, grotesque human - probably a foul wizard or a wicked priest, judging by the evil affectations and horrid symbols on his clothing.

But the figure shrinks as if melting, becoming a wormlike larvae. It then bloats and takes the shape of a manes, then a bar-lgura.


Next, the being mutates further, changing to become a floating chasme, then a vrock. The vrock screeches and becomes a hezrou, which immolates and transforms into a huge, fiery balor. The loathsome balor bloats, its head growing ramlike, adopting the traditional form of Orcus.

This shape in turn takes on a rocky countenance signifying his first death , which then becomes the shadowy Tenebrous. Finally, the whole transformation starts over again, as the wraithlike form solidifies into the obese, evil human. This sequence is explained as the god's memories of his past beginning with his mortal life, then as a larva , working his way up through the ranks of the tanar'ri, becoming an Abyssal lord, and then as Tenebrous. His new priests and followers preserved the essence of his remains in a large phylactery, a glass container about five feet tall filled with highly toxic green preservative fluid.

The introduction to Dead Gods provides more background on what occurred prior to the events of the module. It states that "long ago", when Orcus had grown fat and inattentive, losing the dark edge that helped him rise to the position of a power, Kiaransalee conspired against him and took advantage of his carelessness. Taking revenge of some past slight by Orcus, she "slew him through treachery and surprise, quickly usurping his realm and position", decreeing that his name never be spoken or written.

Some time later, "in the not-so-distant past", the body of Orcus began to stir, slowly changing until he disappeared. Events apparently came together that helped to bring him back, including his worshipers in the City That Waits waking from their eternal slumber, Acererak scheming with the Negative Energy Plane, and a once-powerful follower of Orcus sending a final impassioned prayer. Orcus was now "a thin, small, shadowy creature", and renamed himself Tenebrous. He was still a god, but much less powerful than before his death. His servants had been slain by Kiaransalee, so Tenebrous brought them back as undead tanar'ri called "visages", tasking them to gather information to plot his vengeance.

He also found the Last Word in the ruins of Pelion on the plane of Arborea , which he could use to slay even gods. He sought the Wand of Orcus , which Kiaransalee had hidden, so he killed Primus and took his place, as detailed in the adventure anthology The Great Modron March. The modrons found that two drow had hidden the wand , but the memories of the drow were erased when they were drowned in the River Styx, so Tenebrous sought to use a magical blossom to restore their memories and find the wand. The builders of the Last Spire inscribed a prophecy about the coming of Tenebrous on a brass plug in the spire's interior, which reads: "Here in this Bright World shall trod the feet of ineffable Darkness.

A great lord of the infinite pit, once brought low, shall find his way here, having pulled himself from death's cold embrace.

Beyond, he will find the means for his goal, but the price of vengeance is death again - unless he can find that which was his, now lost. The third edition Manual of the Planes notes that although the ceremony to resurrect Orcus was seemingly disrupted, "Orcus returned all the same". The third edition Tome of Magic reveals that part of the godly power that Orcus shed after his death and subsequent resurrection as a demon lord remained intact. Less than a god but still divine, this essence coalsced into the bitter sentience which became the vestige Tenebrous, the Shadow that Was - "a pale reflection of what he once was, a shadow of a shadow".

Fiendish Codex I elaborates more on his early history, stating that he "began life thousands of years ago as a wicked mortal whose vile deeds eventually resulted in his death".

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After this his soul manifested upon the Abyss as a larva, then a mane , centuries later evolving into a rutterkin , next becoming a nalfeshnee who "sat upon the th layer's Court of Woe during the era of the githyanki revolt against the illithid empire", and he eventually conquered the th layer of the Abyss and became a demon lord. According to the fourth edition Monster Manual , Orcus was once a mighty primordial who was corrupted by the evil of the Abyss, reshaping him "into the likeness of pure destructive evil". Although the gods sent a host of angels to slay him, Orcus killed every last one of them.

Orcus is a very old demon. Like many of the most powerful demon lords who struggle for power in the Abyss, Orcus started his existence as a mortal on the Prime Plane. He was apparently a wicked spellcaster of some sort, most probably a priest to some dark deity. After his death, his soul, like the souls of all chaotic evil mortals, went to the Abyss and Orcus began his afterlife as a lowly larva.

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Orcus proceeded to climb through the demonic ranks in the next several thousand years, going from larva to mane , then on to dretch , rutterkin , vrock , glabrezu , nalfeshnee , and eventually a balor. From there, he ascended to the rank of demon lord, becoming the Prince of the Undead and ruling the layer of Thanatos, the Belly of Death. Even though there are other demon lords aspiring to the title of "Prince of the Undead", Orcus' claim to the title has gone unchallenged for the most part.

Ever hungry for more power, Orcus wanted to be recognized as " Prince of Demons ", a title held by Demogorgon and coveted also by Graz'zt. As a result, he became the arch-enemy of both demon lords. A cabal of greater deities, in response to Tenebrous's predations, has since weakened the Last Word considerably. Orcus plays a key role in the adventure The Throne of Bloodstone , which is set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. In this sourcebook, it is revealed that Gareth Dragonsbane and his band of adventurers were responsible for the defeat of Orcus. The supplement Demihuman Deities by Eric L.

Also, the Legion of Vengeful Banshees, an affiliated order of crusaders devoted to Kiaransalee, are fanatically dedicated to the destruction of Tenebrous's visages, and are based in the Acropolis of Thanatos deep beneath the Galenas. The book The Grand History of the Realms describes the role of Orcus and his offspring in the nation of Narfell on page The first ruler of Tharos and later Narfell was Thargaun, a human worshipper of Orcus.

This began the Darakh dynasty, which continued with other half-fiend sons of Orcus, including Heldakar, Yannos "the Slayer", Garthelaun "the Goreclaw", and Ilithkar. Ilithkar was ultimately overthrown by his cousin Rheligaun "the Horned," a half-fiendish son of Fraz-Urb'luu. In the adventure, Orcus uses one of his followers in a scheme to steal souls from the lands near Sterich.

Most religions view these soul-stealing devices as blasphemous, and the church of Wee Jas finds them particularly abhorrent. The article "Demogorgon's Champions: The Death Knights of Oerth, Part Two" by Gary Holian in Dragon January notes that the death knight Lord Andromansis of Garastet "spurned Demogorgon by striking a bargain with the demon prince's great rival, Orcus, quickly becoming obsessed with the intersection of magic and undeath.

Other publishers have also used Orcus as either an antagonist or as a deity in their own publications. In , Wizards of the Coast also released a full sized gargantuan figure of Orcus as part of their Icons line. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Sutherland III. Main article: Cult of Orcus.

Main article: Wand of Orcus. Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition for Dummies. Retrieved Planes of Chaos. Hellbound: The Blood War. The Great Modron March. Dead Gods TSR, Wizards of the Coast. Miniatures Handbook. Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss. Schwalb , and James Wyatt. Faces of Evil: The Fiends. Return to the Tomb of Horrors. December The Grand History of the Realms.


Wrath of the Immortals. TSR, Inc. Codex of the Immortals. Tome of Horrors. Necromancer Games.

Rappan Athuk Reloaded. The Crystal Skull.

Archived from the original on Green Ronin Publishing. Classic Fantasy Review. Goblinoid Games. Book of the Damned, Vol.