The Dead Three, also known as the Dark Gods,[1] was a collective of three, death-themed deities: Bane,[2] the Lord of Darkness,[3] Bhaal, the Lord of Murder and Myrkul the Lord of Bones.[1] Originally, they were powerful mortal adventurers[4] who sought the path to godhood, known at first as the Dark Three.[citation needed] They found it in the form of Jergal, who acquiesced to their demands as he was tiring of his life as god of the dead. He gave up his portfolios to the three of them, apotheosizing them in the process. Bane ruled tyranny and strife, Bhaal became the god of murder & Myrkul, the dead.[4]

They earned their name of the Dead Three when they all perished during the Time of Troubles. Bane and Torm killed each other in 1358 DR, Myrkul was killed by the mortal mage Midnight while Bhaal was slain by Cyric, using the sword Godsbane, an avatar of Mask.[5]

History[edit | edit source]

Mortal life[edit | edit source]

In the mists of the past, the Dead Three were three power-hungry mortals: Bane the tyrant, Myrkul the necromancer, and Bhaal the assassin. The three forged a pact to achieve godhood or die trying. With their eyes on the ultimate prize of the portfolio of Jergal, Lord of the End of Everything. The three traveled the lengths of Faerûn, endured epic quests and obstacles until they finally destroyed one of the Seven Lost Gods and took a portion of its divine essence for themselves.[4]

With this small portion of divine power the three powerful, but still mortal, companions traveled to the Gray Waste and sought the Castle of Bone. They battled through seemingly endless hordes of undead including skeletons, zombies, spectres, wraiths and even liches. After defeating the legions of Jergal's minions they came upon the mighty god upon his throne of bone.[4]

Immediately the Dark Three claimed the throne as their own, bickering for a moment before the God of the Dead addressed the companions. Much to their surprise, Jergal willingly stepped aside, claiming that he was happy to grant his powers to one of the trio. He offered his guidance to the new ruler, until they were ready to oversee the dead on their own, then asked which among them would take their seat on the throne. At this point they returned to squabbling and a fierce fight broke out between the former friends. Indifferent to their wants, but not wanting to see them battle for eternity or die from exhaustion, Jergal resolved their dispute with a game of skill.[4]

While a failed game of "skull bowling" led nowhere, in part due to the intervention of the god Malar, Jergal suggested leaving the decision up to Lady Luck. He proceeded to break off his skeletal finger bones and the three dark travelers proceeded to play a game of knucklebones. Bane emerged as the winner and took on the divine portfolio of hatred, strife, and tyranny. Myrkul, who came in second place, took reign over the dead and Bhaal was left with dominion over death and murder.[4]

Their ascension was recorded in the book, History of the Dead Three.[6]

As deities[edit | edit source]

The Dead Three reigned over their respective realms for many years. True to his word, Bane spread hate and tyrannical rule across Faerûn,[3] inspired a network of zealous wizards and thralls in the Zhentarim during the 13th century DR,[7] and within a century later would come to be one of the most hated deities and face of evil across the continent.[3][4] Myrkul never enjoyed the widespread, dreadful veneration as was found among the followers of Bane but he was given constant offerings at funerals, by mourning loved ones full of fear and sorrow.[8] Bhaal on the other hand had become a god of immense power, having garnered the servitude of Loviatar and Talona in the divine realm and his avatar Kazgaroth,[9] which on Toril was believed to an aspect of Malar,[10] wreaked havoc in the Moonshae Isles on Toril.[9]

In the year 75 DR, the great seer Alaundo arrived at the library fortress of Candlekeep, where he presented the monks with his many prophecies.[11] Among them was a vision that Bhaal would become aware of his imminent death as a god and ensure his legacy by sowing his seed across Faerûn, with little to no regard for his partners. Alaundo's divination was true, and by the mid-14th century, Bhaal had spawned a score of mortal progeny.[6]

Bane also saw his influence on Toril extending beyond his existence, though the creation of his offspring was somewhat less prolific. Sometime before 710 DR, the half-fiend known as Iyachtu Xvim was spawned as a result of the union between the Black Lord and a true tanar'ri[12] and walked onto Toril through an Abyssal portal in Westgate.[11]

Time of Troubles[edit | edit source]

Consumed by greed for even more power, Bane and Myrkul conspired together to steal the Tablets of Fate from Lord Ao. Frustrated with the deities' growing apathy and abdication of their duties, Ao struck down all the gods to weakened forms of their respective avatars, sending the Tablets to the world of Toril and ushering in the Time of Troubles[13] as well as the dawn of the Era of Upheaval.[14] The reign of each of the three Dark Gods came to an end during this time, at least temporarily.[13]

After the avatar of Bane appeared on Toril, he rallied his clergy and agents of the Zhentarim and began to hunt down the Tablets of Fate. He was joined in this endeavour by his fellow former allies, Myrkul and Bhaal.[15] While the tyrant originally assaulted the town of Shadowdale, which ended in a battle with Elminster and Mystra,[16] he eventually discovered the location of one of these artifacts, guarded by the avatar of Torm in the Temple of Torm's Coming in the city of Tantras.[17]

Myrkul appeared in West Faerûn and he proceeded to travel to the Chauntean temple of Goldenfields in the Sword Coast North. The avatar of the God of Death was defeated in battle by the High Priest Tolgar Anuvien, a feat which nearly killed the former Crazed Venturer.[18] Sometime after this battle, Myrkul learned of the location of one of tablets, reclaimed the artifact and brought it to his realm of the Great Waste of Hades.[19]

Battle of Tantras

On Eleasis 13 1358 DR,[20] As the forces of Zhentil Keep prepared to invade the city on the coast of the Dragon Reach,[17] Myrkul had his clergy work on a mass-scale death spell. Having gained the true names of all the assassins of Faerûn,[18] his worshipers killed scores of followers of Bhaal in a single moment.[21] Meanwhile the priests of Bane performed a ceremony known as the Stealing of Souls, which allowed them to harness the great amount of life force that had been released at once.[18]

As a result, Bane's essence was transferred from his avatar to the colossal, massively-armored statue of black glass that was known as the Black Brother.[18] The gargantuan aspect of the Black Lord marched over the Dragon Reach towards the city of Tantras, to claim the found Tablet of Fate, it was met by a titan-sized, lion-headed Torm. The True Deity had himself been empowered by thousands of lives, offered in sacrifice by the faithful of the city, given upon their god's request.[17] As the two gods battled over the the coastal city on the Reach, chain lightning shot from their massive blows upon one another and the earth beneath them shook as if the Toril was being torn asunder.[22] Just as the Bell of Aylen was rung in the southern end of the city[23] Bane and Torm destroyed one another in a blast of silver radiance, followed by a massive explosion.[24]

Cyric and his Companions

Having just betrayed his friends Kelemvor, Adon and Midnight in the events proceeding the deaths of Bane and Torm, the mortal thief Cyric rallied his Zhentilar soldiers in search of his former friends and the Tablet of Fate they had recovered. The adventurers meanwhile began their voyage across the Sea of Fallen Stars to the city of Waterdeep.[19] Bhaal,[25] as well as Myrkul, learned of the artifact in their possession and the Lord of the Dead dispatched his night riders to intercept them in the Hermit's Wood in Cormyr. The adventurers managed to escape and continued[26] westward to the city of Eveningstar. After a brief reunion between Midnight and Cyric, who was armed with the sword Godsbane, the thief revealed the fact that Bhaal and Myrkul knew of the tablet's location. With the avatars of two of the Dead Three in pursuit of Midnight, Cyric tried to convince to join him in recovering the other tablet and ascending to godhood. He signaled Zhentarim to swarm the tavern and flush the adventurers out. They escaped in the ensuing chaos and continued through Cormyr.[25]

The avatar of Bhaal managed to track down Midnight and her companions in High Horn. As they battled through the Cormyrian keep,[27] he revealed the location of a gate beneath Dragonspear Castle, transversable only by mortals, that would grant access to the Gray Wastes, where Myrkul held the second tablet. Bhaal was temporarily halted by Midnight, and trapped in a large rock of amber.[27]

Boareskyr Bridge

In short time, the Lord of Murder escaped and continued his hunt for Midnight. After Cyric and his former companions came to a truce, they traveled with the remaining Zhent soldiers through the High Moor and came across a camp of tents on the southern end of the Boareskyr Bridge.[28] Bhaal descended upon the group and began to rend the soldiers and their horses. After the death of Cyric's lieutenant Dalzhel, Midnight blasted the avatar of murder with an arcing lightning bolt. His smoldering, scarred body continued advancing towards the young mage, having killed and possessed the last of the Zhent soldiers. Cyric plunged Godsbane into the back of the Lord of Murder, permanently destroying his avatar. As Bhaal's tormented body writhed in agony, screaming and pulsating with energy, Midnight teleported her allies, including Cyric, away to safety.[29]

Myrkul and a night rider in the streets of Waterdeep.


Midnight and her companions regrouped in the city of Waterdeep. After some time the Myrkul appeared in cloud of black fog pouring out of the Pool of Loss beneath the Yawning Portal inn. Using the Tablet to hold open the portal, and maintain the connection between Hades and Toril, a legion of fiends and undead poured into the city. Midnight and her companions were accompanied by Elminster and Khelben Arunsun as they holed up in Blackstaff Tower,[30] having hidden the tablet within the spire's library. In the chaos that followed the assault of his malevolent army, the Reaper easily found the recovered artifact, reunited the twin tablets and ascended to the roof of the tower. Before he could reach the Celestial Stairway, Midnight managed to steal one of the tablets, by means of her growing arcane power. Myrkul and his minions battled with Midnight and her allies.[31] As a griffon rider flew to the tower and temporarily distracted the Dead God, Midnight managed to disintegrate the avatar of Myrkul, even in the middle of a zone of silence. A cloud of brown pestilence fell from the roof of the tower and drifted over two city blocks, withering plants and choking people and animals alike.[32]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

The Time of Troubles saw the deaths of the Dead Three[5] but their influence over Toril was not stopped for good.[33]

Notable Cults of the Dead Three emerged in Faerûn throughout late 15th century DR. One particular cell was exceptionally prevalent in the city of Baldur's Gate.[33]

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Appendix[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 124. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  2. Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 44. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 36. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 37. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 264. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  6. 6.0 6.1 BioWare (December 1998). Designed by James Ohlen. Baldur's Gate. Black Isle Studios.
  7. Kevin Melka and John Terra (April 1995). Ruins of Zhentil Keep (Campaign Book). (TSR, Inc), p. 28. ISBN 0-7869-0109-8.
  8. Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 125. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 45. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  10. Douglas Niles (November 1987). Moonshae. Edited by Mike Breault. (TSR, Inc.), p. 28. ISBN 0-88038-494-8.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 269. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  12. Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 82. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 23. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  14. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 43. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  15. Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  16. Ed Greenwood (1989). Shadowdale. (TSR, Inc.). ISBN 978-0880387200.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 163. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Ed Greenwood (1989). Tantras (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 26. ISBN 0-88038-739-4.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  20. Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 74. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
  21. Steven E. Schend, Sean K. Reynolds and Eric L. Boyd (June 2000). Cloak & Dagger. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 103. ISBN 0-7869-1627-3.
  22. Ed Greenwood (1989). Tantras (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 37. ISBN 0-88038-739-4.
  23. David C. Sutherland III, Dennis Kauth and Diesel (1989). Tantras (Map). Edited by Anne Brown and Kim Mohan. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-88038-739-4.
  24. Ed Greenwood (1989). Tantras (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 38. ISBN 0-88038-739-4.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 15. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  26. Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 5. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 19. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  28. Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 25. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  29. Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 26. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  30. Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 36. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  31. Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 38. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  32. Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 39. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Adam Lee, Christopher Perkins (September 17, 2019). Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 171. ISBN 0786966769.
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