Gruumsh (pronounced: /gruːmʃ/ groomsh or: /grʌmʃ/ grumsh) was the patron god of the orc race and greater god of the orc pantheon. He was named He Who Never Sleeps for he was said to never tire, and symbolized with an ever-open eye to represent the orc belief that he watched over them all, judging the worth of each and every one of their kind. Gruumsh created the orcs and guided their destiny with the aid of his divine subordinates, ruling over orcish mortals and gods alike as their unquestioned patriarch. Long ago he swore that orcs would rule the world, and since then had driven his people to wage endless holy war in the name of his divine wrath.
- 1 Description
- 2 Personality
- 3 Powers
- 4 Possessions
- 5 Realm
- 6 Activities
- 7 Relationships
- 8 Worshipers
- 9 History
- 10 Appendix
Gruumsh normally appeared as a hulking, 10 feet (3 meters) tall orc covered in battle scars and clad in a black, gleaming suit of plate mail armor. His tough, gray hide was corded with muscle, and on his one-eyed face was a bear-like snout. In some incarnations he had only a right eye and an empty left eye socket, while in others he simply had one large, cycloptic eye that stared unwinking in the center of his forehead.
Omens of Gruumsh ranged in leniency from a drifting cloud of toxic smoke to the sudden snapping of a young shaman's neck, usually taking the form of the latter. He was also known to speak and give orders to his devoted through dreams.
Violent and bloodthirsty, Gruumsh was a god that exulted in battle and reveled in warfare. He was a savage deity with the rage of a berserker whose desire to wreak havoc could only be satisfied through destruction and carnage. The patron god of the orcs loved fighting for its own sake, and he needed no greater reason to create gore than to hear the pleasing sound of viscera flopping wetly to the ground. Gruumsh was also driven and aggressive, constantly pushing his people to create and engage in the pain, conflict, and strife that he relished.
Appropriately for a god with only one eye, Gruumsh had two crippling weaknesses that often undermined him: his narrow perspective and shortsighted outlook. Gruumsh had only one view of the world—his own—and could prove incapable of looking at a situation from other angles or seeing things from someone else's position. When not given what he believed to be due respect or proper notice, he immediately attacked the other party rather than asking why, and it was this "act first, think later" attitude which had negatively impacted Gruumsh's effectiveness in many tales.
For example, if Bahgtru (his son) were to stub his toe on a large rock, Gruumsh's response would likely be to curse the stone and destroy it with his son's help before declaring a victory against the forces of nature. The injuries either of them may have sustained or opponents they were planning on fighting later on were irrelevant, as the point had to be made then and there. None of this was not to say Gruumsh was stupid, as he normally had the capacity to plan and act for the future, but it was easy to spark his wrath, and once inflamed, his judgement and foresight was inevitably clouded.
Gruumsh was an unreliable deity, ultimately more concerned with victory than any kind of honor and more interested in causing devastation than making long-term plots or complex maneuvers. However, despite these chaotic traits of his being, Gruumsh also had more lawful aspects to his personality. He was a harsh and brutal patriarch of his race that ruled with an iron fist and constantly expected the best from the orcs, a core part of his philosophy being the weeding out of the weak and the necessity of strength. Even in the ancient past had he been ruled by contradictions, and in any case, undeniably evil.
Despite his severe standards and despotic reign, Gruumsh, in his own way, did care about the orcs. Part of why he waged war was for the glory for his people, and he always sought ever more territory for them to occupy. In the opinion of the One-Eyed God, nearly all territory rightfully belong to the orcs and he encouraged them to take their birthright by driving other races from their lands. It was this drive to acquire territory and living space that was Gruumsh's greatest motivation, and even with his bloodlust and creed of unending war, he would not object to simple colonization provided it could be arranged.
Incredibly powerful even by divine standards, Gruumsh was a god of immense physical strength and impossible vitality, even before he entered a barbaric rage. Once a fight had begun, nothing could pacify him, not even enchantment magic, and spells cast by elves were only a fifth as effective against the One-Eyed God. Despite his divine nature, Gruumsh was still an orc and had the typical orcish aversion, however minor, to bright light, and supposedly grew more powerful during the night. A wide variety of spell-like abilities and clerical magic powers were at his disposal.
Gruumsh had several unique powers as the primary god of the orcs. He could sense anything that would affect orc welfare around four months before it happened, would retain that feeling for about four more months after the event, and had a similar awareness of whenever orcs fought, warred, or had a change in territory. He could also generate a cloud of acrid, black smoke from around his body, a billowing haze similar to a cloudkill spell around 30 ft (9.1 m) diameter and 10 ft (3 m) high. It was believed that at one point he had minor powers of prescience, allowing him to receive visions of the future.
Among Gruumsh's most iconic possessions was his Bloodspear, an iron weapon covered in the blood of elves. The enchanted spear could increase in length, changing from a halfspear to a longspear to strike foes that would be out of reach or too close, and those pierced by it could find themselves paralyzed.
Gruumsh also had other spears he could use in combat, and on occasion he was known to fling one at a cleric of his he was annoyed with. Clerics that atoned for their transgressions and that kept the spears would find it had become a spear of retribution, able to return to its wielder when thrown and particularly dangerous against those that had recently harmed the user.
Conversely, shamans could so impress Gruumsh with their outstanding destructive tendencies that he rewarded them with a magical iron spear, a weapon granted to only a twentieth of the most powerful among them. They functioned as +4 weapons when held (not thrown) by an orc shaman, were non-magical for all others, and burned elves that touched them, forcing them to be dropped.
His spears aside, another of Gruumsh's infamous tools was his eternal torch, that burned with a fire that could never be dimmed or quenched which was reflected in his one remaining eye. From the torch could come corrosive black clouds, and using it Gruumsh could cast both cloudkill and death fog three times per day.
Along with these Gruumsh always carried either a horn of blasting or a glass vessel with around 2-8 doses of dust of sneezing and coughing, which he could light with the torch (while remaining immune to the effects) to create a 20 ft (6.1 m) radius of the foul substance.
Only worshipers of Gruumsh could use the power of Shields of the Severed Hand, so called for the gory, dripping hand, its bloody marks and symbols always wet, emblazoned on their wooden surfaces. The shields allowed one to easily bat foes aside whether charging at them or blocking their strikes. Orcs favored the weapons for their shock value, and the first was made when an orc warrior chopped off an elf king's hand and mounted it on his shield, the shield having been found intact amongst the ashes of the same warrior's funeral pyre with the palm print still present.
Another artifact related to the faith was the so-called Hammer of Gruumsh, a +1 maul engraved with abstract designs. The first to wield it was the orc king Gorak but many warlords had held it since, more recently Kursk One-Tusk and an orog named Thrull after him. The wielder of the Hammer could sunder objects with ease, and saw orc-blooded creatures bend more easily to their desires.
For a deity as focused on territory as Gruumsh, it was notable that for the longest time his pantheon had no true native plane. Instead, they traveled the multiverse searching for a layer of a plane to call their own (a kind of orcish Asgard) and had been forced out of both Gehenna and the Nine Hells in this quest, bringing their unfortunate petitioners along the way. Eventually they came to rest in the Infinite Battlefield of Acheron, a void containing giant metal cubes that constantly crashed into each other, but even then their fight was not over. The orcs ruled over only Nishrek, one face of the cube they had settled on, with the opposite face being Clangor, home of the goblinoid gods. Though the opposing deities managed to split their realms into wholly separate cubes, both still tried to hurl other cubes at their enemies' lands despite their rivals being able to stop it, and the two forces still battled despite being physically removed.
As the orcs believed it, if they fought well and brought glory to their tribes, Gruumsh would call them home to Acheron where they would live out their afterlives in his armies fighting his unceasing, extraplanar war for supremacy, and battle the goblinoid hosts of Maglubiyet. Orcs believed to have died a "good death" (those that died in a failed battle were typically thought to be weak and so didn't deserve to join Gruumsh) were subjected to funerary rites by the priests of Yurtrus, to ensure they ended up in Gruumsh's realm. For example, fallen orcish "heroes" would have their heads severed, boiled or smoked to remove the flesh and then ritually punched to remove the bridge of the nose, leaving the mutilated skull with only one "eye".
Only the orcs and their allies, such as ogres and the occasional yugoloths, were tolerated in Nishrek. All magic used against such creatures did the minimum amount of harm and, with spells that had variable durations, lasted for the least amount of time possible. The mild bend towards law present in the rest of Acheron was negated in Nishrek, and the realm was far more chaotic than its goblinoid counterpart. Like Clangor, Nishrek was heavily carved and tunneled into. It had four deep trenches scored onto the surface to protect its sides and two more going across the center to form a balanced cross, and these connected with similar trenches at the edges. However, while Clangor appeared grid-like from a distance, Nishrek was arranged in a much more disorderly fashion, with meandering tunnels, winding streets, deep, swirling trenches, and haphazardly placed fortresses.
There were six main cities: four in each quarter between the trenches, one in the trenches, and one at the center of the realm built on top a pile of bones. Each city was ruled by one of the six greatest orc clans, those under Gruumsh's direct dominion being the Rotting Eye, White Hand, and Three Fang clans. Gruumsh had residences in each of these domains, from which he planned for war, and he moved between them at random. In each of the quarter cities, the four corners surrounded a pyramid and central eye of a Gruumsh temple, where various priests and shamans from all clans vied for his attention.
The lowest of Nishrek's orcs lived within the realm's trenches in towns being constantly built from goblin bones, ruined armor, broken siege weapons, and whatever other materials could be found. Ghouls were among the least of the horrors that haunted the lower passages, preying on lone orcs. Though sometimes called towns, Nishrek had nothing that could be properly referred to as such, as there were no proper streets, places of business, or even homes. The various settlements of Nishrek were more like field camps than anything else. Most equipment was freely available for purchase, including weapons, armors, clothing, cooking implements, whetstones, and slaves. Many were clearly taken from the goblinoids, and though orcish items were generally of inferior quality, they were also more abundant and were reasonably priced.
Trench-orcs, through bravery, treachery, or simple luck, could rise out of their slums and into the cities. Unlike in Clangor, individual orcs constantly jockeyed for position in Nishrek, firstly to escape the trenches, and afterwards to vie for position in the mighty orcish army. Each rank of higher orc had their own barracks, with archers, spearmen, shamans, and siege engineers all kept separated. While there was technically a clear chain of command (and strength) there were constant fights for dominance that drained the energy of the orcs. However, the brunt of orcish attention was focused on the goblinoids, which the orcish army marched out on a regular (sometimes daily) to combat and besiege.
In the World Tree Cosmology, Nishrek was different from its incarnation in Acheron in that the endless battle was not against the goblinoid hordes of Maglubiyet. Every night, orc warriors clashed in devastating battles, waging war in favor of peace and foregoing diplomacy to instead brutalize each other internally. The reason for this conflict was that each tribe of orc petitioner sought to prove themselves to Gruumsh, believing that one day he would declare a single tribe his true children, and the orcs within it to be the superior to all others. Hellwasps were also said to be native there, their swarms being one of the few events able to provoke the attention of orc armies. The Blood War between demons and devils often spilled into the plane, a frequent connection to the Blood Rift mixing the two eternal conflicts.
Though not many creatures could survive in Nishrek, those that fought on its battlefields would be suffused with positive energy, orc or otherwise. Almost every creature in Nishrek recovered from injury at an enhanced rate, could regrow lost limbs given the time, and even if slain in battle, would rise again each sunset with renewed vigor, as if they had received a true resurrection spell. Nishrek's petitioners were mostly orcs and half-orcs, which looked the same as they did as mortals, although they had the benefit of being unfazed by electricity or the cold and resistant to acid and flames. Followers of elven and dwarven gods were weakened on Nishrek.
Nishrek appeared as an endless plain, with the River Styx flowing through it and linking it to other fiendish planes. Its surface was scarred with crisscrossing trenches and riddled with fortresses, in both of which lived whole orc petitioner communities. Both types were wretched, and the orcs within spent their days waiting for the next attack. Gruumsh watched the carnage from his Iron Fortress, and within its walls all orc and orc petitioners were extremely resistant to magical powers and injury in general.
In the World Axis Cosmology, Nishrek was a dark reflection of Warrior's Rest. It was a setting ravaged by conflict and carnage, a realm of self-destructive savagery where the favored of Gruumsh slaughtered each other for destruction's own sake. The natural setting had been warped by the endless warfare, with jagged badlands, scorching deserts, devastating volcanoes, twisted forests, dark rivers, and black seas. The realm was connected to the Abyss in the Elemental Chaos, and Gruumsh watched this land from his Iron Fortress.
Gruumsh was unconcerned with the goings-on of puny worldly heroes, busy as he was dealing with threats more worthy of a being of his power. Much of his attention was taken up by the war between goblinoids and orcs in their afterlife, but he still pursued his ancient vendetta against Corellon. Normally he only dispatched an avatar to oversee an important battle that the other orcish gods of war (Bahgtru and Ilneval) couldn't be entrusted with. He also sent one on rare occasion to interfere with the appearance of an elven avatar, or if he suspected Corellon or some other meddling power was plotting against the orcs.
Gruumsh was always watching over the orcs and especially wary of transgressions, but this could be as much a curse as a boon. Orcs that couldn't meet his high expectations were destroyed by Gruumsh either through fire or through the aggression of rival orc clans. He often wandered Nishrek, the orcish afterlife, as the orcs warred amongst themselves, choosing to aid either side (as far as anyone could tell) on his whims. Sometimes he would allow an orc army to take shelter from within the Iron Fortress from which he watched the fighting, and at other times he refused.
- The Tribe of He Who Watches
Gruumsh's pantheon was known as The Tribe of He Who Watches, and he held absolute authority over all of its members. Though there was a clear and strict chain of command within the orc pantheon, although the relative positions of the members varied depending on the orc shaman speaking. Each shaman sought to glorify their own favored deity, and sometimes did so to the point that they almost excluded mentioning Gruumsh himself.
Each deity in the Tribe of He Who Watches was a reflection of the central orc desire to conquer territory, embodying various facets of that motivation (such as healing those injured in war), and Gruumsh demanded little of those under him but to kill and destroy the weak and their adversaries. All members of the orc pantheon believed, in some way or another, that might made right. Each member struggled for power, often against one another, but none would dare risk Gruumsh's wrath. Though he did not truly fear his lieutenants rising against him, Gruumsh was wary of certain members of the pantheon, and almost all dwelt with him so that He-Who-Never-Sleeps could keep his ever-open eye on them.
Gruumsh's mate was Luthic the Cave Mother, the orc goddess of healing and home. While Gruumsh was the external force that pushed the orcs to excel, Luthic was the internal influence that kept them working together. It was Luthic's guidance that kept the orcs cohesive when Gruumsh's rage threatened to blow them apart, ensuring that they were a force capable of massing in great numbers to cause large-scale carnage rather than meager bands of violent nomads barely able to scrape by. She was also said to be act as an expression of Gruumsh's desire for confusion and disarray as well as devastation, creating the cracks in stability that allowed for utter destruction.
Though Gruumsh's servant, Luthic proved more dangerous than her subservient position would first make her appear. She was among the few beings able to bend Gruumsh's ear, often able to manipulate him to get what she wanted (even if he didn't truly heed her words), and she wasn't shy about using her influence. Even so, Luthic was not truly faithful to her demeaning husband, and was actually involved in a secret romance with the god of elemental earth Grumbar. When Luthic managed to secure the Eye of Gruumsh, she did not give it to her husband but rather to Grumbar in order to prevent him from leaving in an attempt to protect her from Gruumsh's wrath. Though Gruumsh discovered the tryst, the consequences were unknown.
The son of Gruumsh and Luthic was Bahgtru, the orc god of might and loyalty. It was through the Fist of Gruumsh's tests of strength that his brash followers would prove who among them would one day be worthy of standing under the One-Eyed God's gaze. Bahgtru (who curiously had two eyes) was as phenomenally powerful as he was unbelievably stupid, trusting both his parents completely and requiring guidance in things other gods would do without need for instruction. The one exception to the rule of complete obedience to his father came when his commmands were countermanded by his mother. He gave heed to her orders where Gruumsh did not, and when forced to choose between them would unfailingly pick Luthic, a minor betrayal Gruumsh tolerated only grudgingly.
Gruumsh's lieutenant and right hand was Ilneval, orc god of war and strategy, although Gruumsh did not trust him. The Crafty Warrior secretly desired Gruumsh's position, which the One-Eyed God was fully aware of, and had been waiting for ages to take his place. However, Gruumsh chose not to take action so long as Bahgtru, who Ilneval was terrified of, was on his side. Ilneval was also believed to lust after Luthic, but feared the consequences of acting on this desire.
Shargaas the Night Lord, orc god of darkness and stealth, hated all living things, which extended to divine life and included his master. Though likely not a threat to Gruumsh (just everyone else) he hated the One-Eyed God for the various indignities he had suffered at his hand and only worked with his pantheon out of pragmatic self-preservation. Shargaas sought to ignore the war between goblins and orcs, but had little choice but to assist Gruumsh when asked. Gruumsh did not always appreciate subtle subterfuge, as the orcs were supposed to obtain what they desired with direct force, but he occasionally needed the Night Lord's agents to assassinate a goblinoid general, after which Shargaas would retreat so deep into his realm that not even Gruumsh could contact him for over a year.
Yurtrus the Rotting Lord, orc god of death and disease, had a silent alliance with Shargaas to counterbalance the warmongering influence of Gruumsh, as well as Bahgtru and Ilneval. It was unclear if Yurtrus chose the mantle of god of death or was assigned it, but he was nonetheless a punisher, serving Gruumsh by spreading disease. Those orc tribes that did not follow the decrees of Gruumsh—bringing ruin to the land, raiding neighbors, and killing elves and dwarves—risked a plague by Yurtrus's white hands. Though Gruumsh could likely kill Yurtrus if he got close enough, it was rumored that even he was too frightened by the disgusting abomination that was the Lord of Maggots to do so.
Gruumsh would often send incredibly powerful, fiendish orc barbarians to act as his heralds on the Material Plane. He had many proxies, ranging between orc champions, patchwork teams of fiends, and powerful undead groups. His embrace of chaos saw him lose some of his ability to command astral angels, though he still occasionally made use of them.
The best known proxy of Gruumsh was Makrete Ironskull of the Three Fang tribe, an ogrillon petitioner that commanded thousands of soldiers in the field from the army's rear. His epithet was taken from the metal plate covering a head wound that never properly healed, oozing blood and pus when he fought hand to hand and occasionally causing him to enter maddened rages. Still, he was affable when not in pain, and hadn't lost his tactical brilliance which allowed him to best every one of Rostorhan the Foul's (an exiled cornugon under Maglubiyet obsessed with defeating him) maneuvers on the battlefield.
The greatest of Gruumsh's proxy chieftains was Arderott, who was in command of the town of Rotting Eye. It was rumored that he named almost everything the "rotting" something in an attempt at clever wit. He ruled the Rotting Eye from the Rotting Throne, a gross mass of dead captives, stolen loot, and battle standards.
Gruumsh disliked everything that wasn't an orc or made by orcs, and did not truly consider any non-orc his ally. He was constantly battling other deities for what he felt was stolen from him long ago, and even if orcs talked of forging alliances with other humanoids, including goblinoids at times, all knew that there would only be room for only one people in the end. Gruumsh did have some allies, the troll and ogre deity Vaprak (who he had gotten under his thumb around the Spellplague) being one of them. Asmodeus and his vassals had long had pacts with various evil gods, Gruumsh included, meaning that devils could commonly be found serving the One-Eyed God. Flamebrother salamanders were also among his allies.
The kobold god Kurtulmak had also worked with Gruumsh in the past and was reluctant to oppose him and gods like him, although he considered Gruumsh and the orc pantheon specifically to be stupid oafs. Gruumsh struck a deal with Kurtulmak once, who revealed how he could get his revenge. Using potent magic that involved the sacrifice of thousands of orcs, kobolds, and captive elves they hid away the Misty Isle, a place sacred to the Corellite faith. Neither god nor mortal could find it, knowing only that elves still lived there and couldn't leave, and the ordeal led to the creation of the Seekers of the Misty Isle, an order dedicated to scouring the cosmos for it. The two patron gods could have hidden the portal to the Isle anywhere, from a city sewer or lonely mountain, to the depths of the Abyss.
Of all the various races and their patron deities, Gruumsh had a particular hatred of the elven gods. His ancient battle against Corellon (and overall loss) directed his spite towards the elves, and one of his dictates was to destroy not only them, but also their homes and lands. While most gods were said to have accepted Corellon's mutability of form and passionate ways, these traits infuriated Gruumsh. Even among gods, the wrath of Gruumsh was something to be respected, but Corellon blithely paid him no attention.
Of all the elven gods however, at the very least before his legendary fight with Corellon, it was Sehanine Moonbow that Gruumsh reserved a special hatred for. Corellon was bad enough from Gruumsh's perspective, but when confronting him he could at least expect straightforward battle and invigorating bloodshed, something he could not only understand, but also respect. Sehanine on the other hand was subtle, her behavior unpredictable and her ways unfathomable to the mind of an orcish warrior. She was not only pale and wispy, but also feminine, all traits that would indicate weakness, and yet she was a still a dangerous foe. The fey, magical Sehanine offended Gruumsh's sensibilities regarding size, strength, and gender roles, and for that she earned a unique enmity from He-Who-Watches.
One might think that Lolth and Gruumsh would make natural allies, as both were comparable entities of divine chaos with a strong hatred of Corellon. Though the two were believed to have had dalliances in the past, they were, in truth, fundamentally different. The Spider Queen was whimsically wicked, but her complicated acts of malice were deliberate and well-woven. Gruumsh, meanwhile, was steady in his rage, but this focused fury was as mindless as a tempest. Gruumsh had never been a cooperative deity, and once the deceptive demoness betrayed him, he refused to work with her again. As far as he was concerned, she was an elf, making her his enemy, and he hated her as much as he ever hated Corellon. Lolth had little issue with this, and was happy to be rid of the odorous orc deity, knowing there were other gods she could manipulate.
Gruumsh's hatred for the dwarven gods, especially Moradin, was roughly equivalent to his loathing of the elven ones. Shamanic tales spoke of how Gruumsh and the "Elder Orcs" fought the dwarves for control of the mountains, tales that often wore down the patience of the listener. The orc sense of beauty leant towards an appreciation of the stark and desolate, and a love of the barren and bleak. Gruumsh and the orcs valued their survivability in inhospitable locales, but every orc tribe dreamed of taking a dwarven stronghold, as well as the loot within.
Although the orcs lost their war for the mountains, their reliance on strength over cunning meaning that they could usually only overcome strongholds that were severely weakened for whatever reason, Gruumsh regarded this as a strictly temporary situation. He demanded his followers crush the dwarves and take their caves, and his eye was always vigilant for signs of weakness in Moradin's followers. For his part, Moradin loathed Gruumsh and deities like him.
Of the gnome gods, Garl Glittergold and Baervan Wildwanderer could become annoyances. Garl was a prankster that valued light-heartedness over grim determination, and when mischief was on his mind Gruumsh's axe could sprout donkey heads at the worst possible time just as Moradin's beard could end up tied with giggling flowers. Baervan's constant companion Chiktikka Fastpaw, a trouble-making, giant raccoon, was known to perform acts as outrageous as stealing Gruumsh's breakfast, and Baervan was often held responsible when she did.
The goblinoid god Malgubiyet was, in many ways, similar to Gruumsh. Both were iron-fisted tyrants that reveled in warfare, seeking conflict for the acclaim of their peoples and always urging them on to find more. However, the exact motivations of the two varied slightly.
Gruumsh saw his war in Acheron as a chance to pit his race against an eager enemy, allowing them to prove their worth to their gods, and he both relished every victory and cursed every setback (short-term or otherwise). Meanwhile, Maglubiyet marshaled his Host of Immortals against Gruumsh's slavering hordes in attempt to bring him and the rest of his pantheon to heel. Maglubiyet could also be said to be even more motivated by bloodshed than Gruumsh, for while the One-Eyed God also sought to have his people destroy the surface races, this was driven by his desire for territory, and he urged the orcs to inhabit any environment they could find. Goblinoids meanwhile had a stronger affinity with underground terrain, and Maglubiyet sought the destruction of surface races for the conquering and killing rather than the land.
However, Maglubiyet suffered from the fact that his own pantheon (disregarding the bugbear pantheon) was both more divided and less populated than that of Gruumsh. Unlike Gruumsh, Maglubiyet had no trusted and capable right hand to command the troops without his supervision, being too paranoid to allow his servitors great power, and he felt this vulnerability keenly. On the other hand, he also had a mediator deity in Bargrivyek, who kept Khurgorbaeyag's goblins and Nomog-Geaya's hobgoblins cohesive. The orcs had no such thing, and Gruumsh's willingness to let the members of his pantheon squabble was possibly one of his major weaknesses.
Gruumsh was known to harbor ill-will towards the goblinoid god Grankhul, bugbear deity of stealth and hunting, for his symbol was an always open eye surrounded by darkness. The strange, dark, elemental entity known as the Stalker could also be counted among Gruumsh's enemies. Legend said that when a race of entities (the exact type depending upon the storyteller) entered its dark cave complex, the demigod was driven out and had sought vengeance ever since. It was fueled by a hateful hunger for souls, but was not strong enough to oppose gods as powerful as Gruumsh, instead focusing its anger on creatures like bugbears, kobolds, and gnolls.
- Other Enemies
While gods such as Lolth and Tharizdun had demonstrated a potential willingness to side with primordial forces if the ancient war between Law and Chaos was to begin anew, Gruumsh, although chaotic in several ways and not to be depended on, would likely side with beings of order. This attitude could be seen in the successor conflict, the Blood War, and his support of the legions of Hell. Gruumsh had his pacts with the baatezu overlord Asmodeus, and opposed the hordes of the tanar'ri.
The iron-fisted patriarch of the orcs looked down on the tanar'ri as rabble, seeing the chaos of the undisciplined fiends as weakness. In the mind of the One-Eyed God, weakness had to be burnt away. The thought of the tanar'ri running rampant throughout reality was enough to anger Gruumsh, although there were exceptions to this general rule. He sometimes had allies in the powerful, obedient, and destructive hezrous and the disciplined, militaristic mariliths. In any case, when he had soldiers to spare, Gruumsh sent his fiercest orc warriors to crush the mewling mobs of demonkind. Given his war with Maglubiyet however, where both sides would attack whenever the other lulled in ferocity, orcs sent to fight the Blood War had to be ready to return home at a moment's notice.
Gruumsh had searched the cosmos for his eye, and sought to rip apart whatever being had kept it for him. Unbeknownst to him, it was the Olympian goddess of magic, Hecate, that had the eye, and who had left a trail of clues for him to follow. It would have been possible for him to get it back if he could ever decipher the hints, but eventually Luthic, who had persistently been trying to obtain Hecate's assistance, managed to obtain it.
Gruumsh, along with Corellon, had accidentally created the elder evil known as the Elf Eater. Spawned by the combination of both their blood, the abominable Ityak-Ortheel fled into the Abyss soon after its creation, and had plagued the elves since that time.
Gruumsh was the center of the dark, primal religion of the orcs, one of brutality, bloodshed, and devastation. As venerators of Gruumsh, orcs took pleasure in the act of slaughter and put their faith in blind savagery. Orcs saw Gruumsh's face in avalanches, believed him to be angry when the earth rumbled, and could hear is voice in howling storms. These perceptions were not necessarily untrue, as Gruuumsh, for example, was known to create thunderheads in front of his rampaging hordes, calling on his Talos aspect to create powerful storms. Gruumsh was a god of destruction, and he brought it to people, civilization, and the land itself through his orcs.
Orcs were a naturally chaotic race, acting based on instincts and emotions rather than logic or reason, and most normal orcs lacked the capacity to control others in their tribe. Often, only certain charismatic individuals could do so, and it was not enough to simply claim allegiance to Gruumsh. Rather, when orcs proved themselves through feats of ferocity and acts of strength, Gruumsh would directly touch orcs with his will and might, for they were considered worthy of being true followers.
A singled out individual would be visited by Gruumsh and bestowed with a dream or vision signifying their acceptance. This would psychologically, and often physically, transform the orc, driving some to the brink of madness and leaving them only able to mutter about omens and prophecies, while imbuing others with supernatural powers, allowing them to rise a position of authority among their peers. In wilder regions, the priests of Gruumsh tended towards becoming barbarians, while those in or near a civilization commonly became fighters.
Most of the orc pantheon was extremely patriarchal, with most of the gods only accepting male priests and shamans. This applied especially to Gruumsh, who was considered the orc god of virility (in contrast to Luthic, who governed fertility). This was a result of the "might makes right" attitude common in orcish society, since males were stronger on average than females. Even so, a female strong enough to defeat those that would subjugate her could reach any position, with the sole exception of becoming a cleric of Gruumsh.
- Types of Priests
Battle priests (the clerics of Gruumsh) traveled with orc war bands to provide counsel and religious guidance, reading omens, saying prayers, and making the proper sacrifices before and after battle. Orcs would compete for their favor, for those who were judged the best combatants would receive his spells and have a better chance at survival. This useful service could not hide the fact that battle priests highlighted the fundamental contradiction of orc culture. The race strived to enact glorious warfare, but few were willing to die for the sake of their kin or tribe. As a chosen disciple of Gruumsh, the priest expected others to die on his behalf, self-interested behavior Gruumsh could accept, but was not allowed to cower behind other warriors when faced with a dangerous adversary, leading to the priests indecisively drifting at the edge of the fight.
These paradoxical priorities of showing bravery while guaranteeing one's own survival took a sharp turn towards the former when an enemy cleric appeared, particularly one of Corellon. In this case, battle priests would use the magic they would otherwise have withheld for the best warrior on themselves before charging forward to slay his rival. Further contrasting this selfish behavior was that clerics would sometimes "adopt" a soldier, passing on the teachings of Gruumsh to them while on march. This student would then eventually "graduate" by casting their first spell, usually in a major battle.
Specialty priests of Gruumsh could only be found in large clans, with half of his clergy consisting of shamans and witch-doctors. Shamans of Gruumsh, among other requirements, could never lose a personal battle, suffering instant death at their deity's hand if they did. The loss of the tribe in battle meant the loss in power of the shaman, which could be regained by successful conquest later on. Furthermore, they could never use curative spells on anyone but themselves. Despite this high price of office, orcish shamans were highly favoured by Gruumsh in his effort to outdo other deities, and the rigors of shamanic status had some compensation. Firstly they were given extra favor that made them tougher than they would normally be, and second were trained extensively with weapons, making them as equally competent fighters as they were shamans.
Rare among orcs were war howlers, whose talent for inspiring bloodlust made them highly valuable. Though the orcish equivalents of bards, these skilled fighters were taught by the clerics, and had memorized ancient chants of hatred against all other races, harnessing litanies that listed the many crimes of the enemy with such stirring delivery that others were driven to battle. Yet again, however, the internal conflict of orc society meant that few of them survived to be practiced warriors. Their obvious leadership skills made them prime rivals for a chief's supremacy, so only the greatest warlords had the confidence to field many.
- Orc Subraces
Although they acknowledged Gruumsh as the leader of the orc gods, gray orcs did not normally feel bound to worship him above any other members of pantheon. They worshiped the various orc deities equally, and normally selected the one that most closely aligned with their individual interests. Intertribal conflict was perpetuated by religious bigotry, since most members of a particular tribe tended to a favor a specific patron deity whose interests conflicted with the other orc gods. Even so, even orc tribes that held another god as their patron usually paid some homage to Gruumsh as the king of the pantheon.
Mountain orcs acknowledged the other orc gods, but considered them as little more than the servants of Gruumsh. Almost all mountain orc clerics were Gruumsh-worshipers, and as a whole religion was not an all-consuming matter for them. This also applied to orogs (orcs blessed by Luthic) who worshiped the whole orc pantheon, but Gruumsh and Luthic foremost, out of their respect for might alone and belief that the gods were mightiest. Deep orcs displayed this relatively secular worldview to an even greater degree. Though they retained the worship of Gruumsh when they descended into the Underdark, they had more or less forgotten the other members of the pantheon. Religion was still an established facet of their society, but the average deep orc was not interested in matters of the spirit and thought of clerics as little more than healers.
Half-orcs that were raised in orc tribes normally followed Gruumsh. As a god of strength, action, and war, which half-orcs were skilled in and had a propensity towards, they found him an inspiring, if bloodthirsty patron, and related well to his teachings of hatred towards elves and dwarves since both of them often hated the half orcs in turn. However, even half-orcs barbarians and fighters might worship him as a war god even if not evil themselves. Those tired of explaining themselves or who wanted to avoid mistrust kept their religious stances private.
Tanarukks, orc-tanar'ri planetouched, all revered Gruumsh, especially chieftains, who saw their demonic blood as a reward for their long service. They killed the weakest young of their tribes, as well as those among them who did not manifest tanarukk abilities, believing them to have committed a grave offense by rejecting Gruumsh's gifts. However, Ilneval was worshiped almost as Gruumsh's equal, and if they continued to expand the god of orc crossbreeds was likely to supplant the One-Eyed God in their eyes.
Though orcs were his most fervent followers, Gruumsh had come to dominate a multitude of savage humanoids, which he unleashed against the civilized world. For example, during the Spellplague, trolls also worshiped Gruumsh, seeing Vaprak as their racial patron under him. Although an overwhelming majority of evil dragons worshiped Tiamat, around 5% were devoted to different deities, with the more destructive, ravaging types favoring Gruumsh. Evil rangers of all kinds may also worship He Who Watches.
Ogres rarely practiced religion unless introduced to a deity by another race, even if said race was one they treated as enemies. Meetings between orcs and ogres were often violent, but when orcs won, they sometimes took the ogres captive and recognized their value in battle, treating them with surprising fairness before adopting them into the tribe and converting them into Gruumans. Most became barbarians, but a few were trained as "tempests", acting as a tribe's champion and mascot. Armed with an orc double axe and marked with armor bearing Gruumsh's symbol, the appearance of a tempest on the battlefield could strike terror in the enemy and rally shaken orcs.
Orc society was based on the ideals of strength, survival, fear, and war, principles founded in the veneration of Gruumsh and taught to young orcs through cruel experience. His clergy related orcish legend down through the generations, spreading his faith through intimidation, inspiration, and iron-handed tyranny. Gruuman orcs believed that their race had a sacred destiny, to dominate all other beings and rule the world, and that every orc was to contribute to this goal via increasing their own personal strength. Gruumsh, as it was said, made his children strong so that they could take what they needed from others, and such orcs saw the world as theirs for the taking.
Gruumsh drove the orcs to follow his example by conquering their opposition. They were to crush their foes by any means necessary (despite Gruumsh's preference for straightforward brutality) and kill or enslave those that stood in their way. They were to seek never-ending war against their enemies, a dictate ensured by Gruumsh's own deep, spiteful hate for other gods and his desire to lay waste to civilization and revel in its despair. As such, devotees of Gruumsh felt it was their duty to direct the natural orcish proclivity for war. They would encourage it, becoming war-leaders (or key advisors to same), and acted as emissaries to the goblinoids that often joined their hordes.
On a personal level, Gruumsh demanded his followers to be strong and prepared to showcase their strength at any moment, hence why his disciples were sure to maintain their physical fitness. As was the way in Nishrek, what didn't kill them would make them stronger, and Gruumsh supported the strong. Conversely, Gruumsh encouraged his followers to slaughter the weak to earn his favor, for runts and cripples were not just burdens, but signs of his disfavor. Showing weakness would lead to death quickly and there was no place for cowardice when the orcs had yet to claim what belonged to them.
Gruumsh's clergy (alongside that of Shargaas to a degree) culled the weak and unfit for fighting. This policy was applied regardless of age or status, but within reason, orc toddlers for example being expected to fulfill their needs on their own quickly and hastily weaned so that they didn't weaken their mothers. Ineffectual or secular chieftains would find themselves undermined if they stood in the way of the goals of Gruumsh's clergy. Friendliness and peaceability were also intolerable, as Gruumsh had made the orcs to be violent and selfish for a reason, namely so that the weak wouldn't drag down the strong. When the world was ruled by orcs, there would be no place for the weak regardless.
Through his mortal mediaries, Gruumsh drove his people to achieve their manifest destiny, acquiring new lands and living space. Orcs considered it a gift, Gruumsh's greatest gift per his own clergy, that they could survive where weaker races couldn't or wouldn't. So that his children could serve as instruments for his vengeance, he pushed them to gather and breed so that their numbers could flourish (before being pruned of the weak), a horde could rise, and they could take what rightfully belonged to them. Yet Gruumsh believed in razing the lands of his foes, in raiding and pillaging as well as occupying. Orcs would strike at beautiful lands when they could, but due to his influence likely burn it to the ground before returning home, and chieftains were encouraged by priests to sack human cities.
More than anything else, Gruumsh sought the destruction of the elves. With them out of the way, orcish domination would be that much easier, and if any orc could hate any elf more than was the norm, the clerics of Gruumsh did so in their utter loathing of Corellon's clerics. Not only would Gruuman disciples hunt down elves in their forest homes, but they'd launch suicidal attacks in the hopes of killing one servant of the elven god.
Clerics and adepts of Gruumsh prayed for their spells in the dark of night and their holy days took place during the new moon. Anniversaries of great battles against dwarves, elves, or other orc tribes were also considered holy days. Proper worship of Gruumsh required blood in large quantities, preferably of any humans or demihumans but elves more than any other, to be sacrificed on a monthly basis.
The last day of Marpenoth, called Gharfek’taaz (meaning the Feast of the Bloodied Stones) by Gruumans, commemorated Gruumsh’s ascendancy as the master of Nishrek and it was on this day that new shamans were ordained in bloody orgies of sacrifices and tortures. Becoming a shaman or rising in power meant besting any other orc who desired the position in a duel to the death, the winner either earning the right to train or leaving with their power intact, after which, in the same long ceremony, a roughly equivalent opponent to themselves also had to be slain in combat. Magic besides "acceptable" enchanted weapons or types used by most orcs was forbidden in this battle. Shamans had to sacrifice half their loot, and failing to meet blood quotas meant slowly losing power, culminating in the complete loss of shaman status and use as a sacrifice by other shamans in the next ceremony.
Gruuman orcs had a variety of conflicting messages about how Gruumsh was to be worshiped, and different tribes had their own superstitions about how to garner his favor or ward off his ire. For example, it was the nightmare of every civilization to hear a chorus of orcish voices chanting his name outside of their settlements, yet he was reportedly not to be referred to by name among certain tribes by any but his own divine spell-casters, instead being called He-Who-Watches or He-Who-Never-Sleeps. Other beliefs an individual orc might hold were that a tribute of elf ears would bring his favor, that he should be avenged by the death of every elf they saw, that showing superior strength honored him, and that stomping one's foot three times and saying his name warded off bad magic.
A clear example of the divide in religious practices regarded the matter of ritual eye removal. Orcs often attempted to prove their faith to Gruumsh by gouging out one of their eyes as a sacrifice to him. However, which eye was to be removed frequently varied depending on who was doing the removal. Shamans were required to pluck out their left eyes, and particularly zealous clerics did so simply as a sign of devotion, both imitating him in the hopes of gaining his perspective, since in legend it was the left eye Gruumsh lost. Many Eyes of Gruumsh meanwhile underwent a painful, bloody ritual where the right eye was removed (and making any noise constituted failure), so that symbolically they could see what Gruumsh could not, complementing rather than copying his vision.
Gruumsh himself encouraged this practice, for indeed it was he who called for followers loyal enough to serve in his image. If an orc slayed an elf in his name and offered the corpse as a sacrifice, he might personally appear as an aspect and demand either of the supplicant's eyes. Those who sacrificed half their mortal vision might be granted the ultimate honor of carrying a small part of his unyielding rage into battle in the form of divine magic. In other cases, Gruumsh would first grant an orc a divine boon and then force them to remove their left eye. In any case, the return of one's sight (either by outside means or if the gift naturally faded away) frequently marked the end of the power.
Despite how different they could be, religious practices regarding Gruumsh did have common features. All prayers to Gruumsh began with the word "kharg-hark", meaning "revenge" in Orcish, regardless of the prayer's context. Following the One-Eye's shortsighted example, religious ceremonies made no mention of the future outside of the oft-repeated declaration that they intended to take over the world. The most famous rite however was the "Ritual of the Poles", whereby orcs would mark newly conquered territory. After the battle's conclusion, the Gruumans would pound longspears point up into the ground at the boundaries of their domain, placing the head of a fallen foe on each spear-point.
Various orc rituals had been contrived and lost over the years. An orc who subjected themselves to rituals involving Gruumsh's judgement might undergo various effects. At times Gruumsh saw fit to grant a commune or raise dead spell and at others he deemed the orc unworthy and devoured their body and soul. Those he did find worthy might be rewarded with the Mark of Nishrek, imbuing them with the powers of the Hatred and Orc domains as well as causing a symbol (a broad diamond-shaped "pupil" with a slender, similarly shaped "iris" inside) to manifest as a burned scar on the forehead. By bathing in the bubbling green blood of Gruumsh (usually found at unholy sites where clerics tended to iron cauldrons full of the ichor) it was possible for an orc to become Gruumsh-blooded. This caused the permanent shriveling and subsequent loss of the left eye, but empowered them with Gruumsh's fury among other strange abilities.
Other rituals used by Gruumans included the collection of raiding captives for a mass sacrifice to Gruumsh, the completion of which would summon an aspect of his to terrorize the nearby region, or an act of great destruction performed by a powerful priest to call forth an exarch. They might also utilize magic rituals made by other races, such as the method for creating plague walkers, as Gruuman clerics rarely cared if their troops got caught in the crossfire of their rancid bursts.
Gruumsh was to be worshiped within orcish lairs. Once orcs made camp somewhere, a war hearth would be lit, serving as a place for the celebration and feasting after victory and killing, and to represent the rage in the unblinking eye of their god. It was kept continually burning by the priests, and if the orcs moved camp then coals would be collected from the hearth and kept glowing in shells and pots until a new hearth was started. Adjacent to the main chamber was the war chief's residence, which housed a smaller fire in its center, and next to his enclosed sleeping area would be a shrine to Gruumsh consisting of a crude stone effigy surrounded by bloody offerings.
Some temple or shrine to Gruumsh laid at the heart of almost every orcish community. These were oppressive places filled with acrid smoke and the stench of blood, and were essentially military camps with as many fighters and barbarians as clerics. The temples and larger shrines always had holding cells for sacrifices to be made, and many housed gladiatorial zones, the largest hosting arenas where wagering was common and the best gladiators could earn much treasure. Some were known to acquire young girallons in order to train them as guardians and fighting beasts.
In the Beginning
Gruumsh's origins were shrouded in the myths and legends of pre-history, though one tale bandied about by particularly dauntless theologians claimed a link to his archenemy Corellon. According to the legend, Corellon and Gruumsh were twin brothers (though Corellon slightly older) created by a primogenitor deity since lost to history. Some degree of clairvoyance was within this being's purview, and it foresaw a war that would engulf the gods. This forgotten deity believed its sons would be able to turn the tides in their favor, and sacrificed itself so that its children could live.
Whether or not this tale was true, part of the reason Gruumsh and Corellon hated each other was that they diametric opposites. Where Corellon had allegedly been imbued with intelligence and light, Gruumsh was given savagery and darkness. Corellon was graceful where Gruumsh was brutal and fair where he was wanton, peerlessly agile where he was tirelessly mighty and vital, one brother reason and beauty and the other rage and ugliness. Corellon was blessed with the power to create, while Gruumsh could only destroy. Furthermore, the deity granted arcane magic to Corellon, knowing he would have the wisdom and care to deliver it to mortals, while seeding in Gruumsh a spark of divine prescience out of great compassion for its less intelligent and attractive son.
Despite being cast as mirror images of each other or divine echoes of the same being, direct parallels between the two did not always line up properly or could be confusing. Some claimed Corellon possessed "excellence", or that one of Gruumsh's contrasting traits was "chaos". There was no knowing the truth of this origin myth and asking either elves or orcs would be unwise as both considered this legend to be heresy. No matter their origins, however, none would deny that a vicious rivalry had always existed between the two.
Though Gruumsh and Corellon remained leery of each other, sparring and coming to blows time and again, the eternal hatred between the two had not yet been realized. At one point, Gruumsh tried to destroy Arvandor (possibly located in the Feywild at this point) before the realm could be built, and so Corellon met him in battle atop a mountain. Though some members of the Seldarine existed by this point, Corellon wished to face Gruumsh in a one-on-one duel, and managed to come out the victor, Gruumsh's blood scalding the land for miles around and turning it into a sizzling stretch of blackened badlands. Yet even this was not what truly sparked the unceasing enmity between them.
The exact series of events that would precede the legendary clash between Corellon and Gruumsh were clouded in legend and confusion. Among them included the fall of Lolth, the ancient war between the forces of law and chaos, and the creation of the elves and orcs, each of which was riddled with interpretations and retellings. Many could potentially be true at once, and since time was experienced differently in the Feywild (when chaos invaded, they only heard rumors of violence) few could say if even the Seldarine interpretation (assuming they would give one) was correct.
Lolth's role in the build-up was incredibly varied. Some divinations placed her involvement with him ages before the ancient Dawn War, and that her betrayal was of Corellon due in part to having dallied with him back then. During Gruumsh's initial attack on the unfinished Arvandor, she was said to have watched in secret, admiring his fury, although any bond that may have existed between them had long since gone out. In any case, it was undisputed that she secretly acted in the One-Eye's favor at one point. Not even Corellon or Sehanine could tell whether she had turned evil or had always been different, though some claimed that the fall of the Weaver was Gruumsh's own permanent wound on Corellon.
The role of the Dawn War in events was also a matter of confusion. In some tales Lolth's betrayal and the subsequent ruin brought to Arvandor opened the eyes of the Seldarine to the larger issues of the multiverse, leading them to get involved with the conflict which Gruumsh was already fighting. Since the shedding of Corellon's blood was instrumental in the elven origin story however, elven scholars were conflicted on whether the two had their ultimate clash before that conflict. In truth, the two had fought many times before, and from various divine ichors, elves and orcs had come into being before.
As the story was told in every orc tribe, Gruumsh never stopped fighting during the Dawn War, never needing to rest or break off to replenish his apparently limitless strength. Corellon and his host joined the fight later, yet the elven god's devotion to the war was second to none, his fervor like that of a general. Gruumsh and Corellon fought besides one another at this time, cooperating if only grudgingly,  and indeed their combined prowess turned out to be necessary to thwart the hordes of malevolent chaos.
Even as Corellon fought with the camaraderie of a sibling, however, Gruumsh harbored murderous thoughts towards Arvandor's Coronal, growing more bitter and jealous with each passing battle. Corellon had been joined the war late and yet was beloved by many, praised as a champion of war and magic. Furthermore, in his eyes at least, Corellon's host of beauteous mortals and fey servitors failed to show him proper deference. Gruumsh looked upon the Seldarine and all elvenkind as an abomination — weak, irritating, and favored. Some elven scholars claimed that it was this moment that marked the inevitable clash, going so far as to purport that it was the first time he thirsted for blood.
Others, however, purported that there was one other straw that would see the epic struggle between the rival gods explode. When the Dawn War ended, it gave the various deities time to deal with other matters, including mortals. Corellon had long regarded mortals besides elves as unrefined, yet through Sehanine realized his error, coming to embrace devotees from other peoples to bestow his gifts and wisdom upon them. And it was this act, it was said, Correllon's desire for influence in the mortal world, that was too much for Gruumsh to allow. Many times had they come to blows in the past, but it was their attempts to stake their claims on creation and gain a following among the mortal races that would be the true conception for a fight that would shape fate.
The Battle's Start
Gruumsh had seen visions of his desired battle against Corellon, as well as its gristly conclusion, as a result of his divine prescience. He dreamt of Corellon's death, his sundered body paraded through the Astral Plane as he assumed the elf's providence over magic, and of the mortal world made into a battlefield, the elven races torn down while they were still young and replaced with a people created in his own image. All he had to do, as he saw it, was make the first move.
It was Gruumsh's intent to ambush the elven god and paralyze him with his spear, hoping to kill Corellon and drink his blood to obtain his powers. Gruuman shamans would freely admit this aggressor status, claiming Corellon deserved it due to his failure to show proper deference. Gruumsh, of course, would fail due to his own shortsightedness, though it was possibly Corellon's own hauteur that allowed Gruumsh to get close enough to wound him.
While accounts of the battle disagreed on who technically started the battle, in reality, both knew it was coming. Indeed it was Corellon who invited Gruumsh into his domain in the hopes of discussing an end to the destructive war between their peoples, and though he would have liked to claim that he had expected good faith in return, he was unsurprised when the truce was broken. Corellon had granted the orc god advantage upon advantage, foreswearing the use of elven magic, meeting him in a hilly rather than forested region as a courtesy, and surrendering his right to banish him until he chose to leave, all because it never occurred to him that he might lose.
Compiled legends regarding the legendary battle purported that Gruumsh had no intention to parley with Corellon, and was loudly intent on seeing through his vision. In yet another act of treachery Gruumsh had, ironically, levied elven magic against the Coronal, colluding with Lolth to do so. One of these boons, so it was said, was a terrible spell woven into Gruumsh's weapon, rendering it invisible and poisoning its tip with paralytic venom. From that same compilation it was said that neither god was truly playing fair, and that Gruumsh's attempt to lay low his enemy failed because Corellon's apparent form was in reality one of Sehanine's most potent illusions (arguably not "using magic against him" as the oath went).
The tale of Gruumsh and Corellon's battle was deeply intertwined with the event known as the Godswar, a battle primarily between the Seldarine and their allies against a varied host of wicked divinities. While it was Lolth that truly masterminded the conflict, Gruumsh, in elven legend, was said to have gotten other gods to flock to his standard when he was preparing to crush the Seldarine, and one could argue that he was the catalyst for the war.
Exactly who participated in the Godswar was not known, although at least a hundred divinities were reported to have joined the Anti-Seldarine coalition. Among them included evil Realmsian powers such as Malar and Auril, gods such as Kurtulmak, Maglubiyet, Hruggek, and Ghaunadaur, and unnamed deities of the goblinoid, orc, and ogre races. On the Seldarine's side were gods from a hundred worlds, those of the woodland, the faerie folk, and even the ancient Fairy Court, including deities of the pixies, sprites, centaurs, fauns, and unicorns. Garl Glittergold also aligned with the Seldarine, though various other gods, especially gods of law such as Bahamut and possibly Moradin, lamented this impetuous chaos so soon after the Dawn War.
The war would go on for days, at least by the measure of immortals. Each combatant in this war suffered great injury both in body and spirit, some falling from the wayside after being badly hurt and some possibly dying. Some legitimately cared about the conflict, others had scores to settle, and others still were simply using the conflict between gods as an excuse for battle. Nonetheless, Gruumsh and Corellon's battle was a different event from the Godswar, albeit closely related, and ended before the Godswar began.
Depending on who told the story, the battle between Gruumsh and Corellon was a mere trifle for the elf god, a combat that raged from dawn to dusk, a week long battle, or a clash of titans that spanned many planes and touched several worlds, shaking the earth and causing storms in the skies. None could say how long it lasted or to where it was confined. In Arborea, where the fight took place, a single day could last longer than a year on certain worlds, and if the fight was taken near the Feywild, as some tales purported, time would be even less reliable.
In terms of where the battle happened, certain legends claiming the Feywild as a location for the fight stated that it was where the borders of the mortal and Faerie realms were particularly thin, allowing effects to seep through to other realities. Furthermore, Corellon was said in myth to have led Gruumsh on a chase through the wilder places of the mortal world, avoiding civilizations and turning back to face him when his divine wrath would have smote wilderness too fragile to endure him. Cracks would course across the hills and yawning chasms would open; Scardale would be an example of such a legend, as it got its name from the locally named "Scar" a great gorge said to have formed from one of the many blows of Corellon that went astray in the struggle.
The start of the duel saw no telling blows delivered between the rival gods; in combat, they were perfect counterparts. Gruumsh's unending strength was a match for Corellon's unrivaled agility, and his alleged foresight allowed him to anticipate the swifter swings of the elf's blade. The corrosive clouds of Gruumsh's torch and the swift thrusts of his spear were countered by the sweeps of Corellon's glittering sword. Their weapons would clash again and again but each strike was parried, and every killing strike foiled.
Even so, Gruumsh, from his first strike, had seemed more confident and grimly determined than ever before, doggedly pursuing the elven deity when he inevitably began to tire. Eventually both would be bleeding equally as hard and suffering from true wounds, Gruumsh having slashed Corellon with his spear just as Corellon had pierced Gruumsh's flesh with his sword. Corellon had known well the cunning and battle fury of his opponent but had counted on two things to assure his victory despite his yielded advantages: his superior agility and Sahandrian, his incredibly powerful blade. Much was his surprise when it seemed that, with naught but a rusted axe, Gruumsh shattered his sword. This, however, was yet another deception woven by Lolth, who Gruumsh had been working with; she had hexed Sahandrian's sheath, but the blade was still in shards all the same.
As the day waned and night waxed, Gruumsh was empowered by the growing darkness while Corellon was weakened. The orc god's superior power and endurance had begun to prevail over Corellon's dancing blade, and so Gruumsh pressed his advantage. Corellon, knowing he would not outlast him, had no choice but to make his retreat at this time, not just for his own sake but to protect the essence of the elven people, much as he would have liked to continue fighting. Even as he sat down to rest under the shade of a gnarled tree Gruumsh was pursuing him, the open terrain and bright moonlight making the elf all the easier to track.
And it was at this point, the conclusion of the mythic battle, where the most contention arose and long debates were focused, primarily around a single question; what cost Gruumsh his victory, and subsequently, his eye? If the orcs were to be believed, then nothing. Orc religion, and Gruumsh himself, denied that he lost an eye to Corellon, and suggesting otherwise was blasphemy. He had either always had one eye or had gouged it out at birth, either to enhance his senses or as a sign of fealty to chaos. At best, they claimed Corellon stole the eye because he couldn't win fairly. In any case, their myths purported that the cowardly elf used a fey trick to flee Gruumsh's wrath when he realized he was outmatched.
In contrast, elven versions of the story could skew the situation nearly as heavily in the opposite direction. Not all elves acknowledged the battle went on all that long, and in some stories, it simply annoyed the Father of Elvenkind. These elven myths stated that the battle was over before it even began, for Corellon defeated Gruumsh with a single, well-placed arrow. The illusion provided by Sehanine hid the fact that he was standing high on the other side of the valley before letting loose a divine shot, which according to some elven loremasters, blinded Gruumsh then and there. Such sages underestimated Gruumsh, for his premonitory sight and keen eyes alerted him just in time to dodge.
In this area, orc shamans spoke the truth regarding Corellon's miss (the shot just grazed Gruumsh and invigorated him with the pain). Elven stories that granted this, however, purported that this was not his intent. The arrow was meant as a warning shot rather than an actual attack, meant to point out his vulnerability since losing his eye would spell the end of much of his divine power. Given how Gruumsh would never again directly assault the Seldarine (though none could say if he might try again in the future), instead focusing his wrath on mortal elves, the threat seemed to have affected him. At that time though, Gruumsh simply bellowed and laughed; Corellon knew he would not have time to fire again, and so the fight proper began.
Elves that recognized the fight between Gruumsh and Corellon as a long battle normally chose to believe that Corellon won solely of his own merits. Gruumsh simply let down his guard, Corellon managing to wear down even the tireless orc god and strike him down when his strength failed. While elven myths usually had him triumph alone however, both orcs and elves had versions of the tale where Corellon had help, a distraction grabbing Gruumsh's attention and allowing the elf to seize his chance. The nature of this distraction was itself a source of much debate.
Some among orcs and elves claimed that it was Sehanine's doing that Gruumsh was defeated. She gave Corellon strength in his darkest hour, her tears mingling with his blood to give him the push he needed (similar tales had him draw strength from the spirit and song of the Feywild or find his fortitude at the sight of his friends). Both races had versions where she directly intervened, distracting Gruumsh with illusions or blinding him with light. Other orcs claimed it was Lolth who interfered, again using some dark glamour to draw Gruumsh's attention. The drow had similar teachings, claiming that the enchantments Lolth wove into Gruumsh's spear turned against him and paralyzed him at a crucial moment, only to be rewarded with exile and pain.
The truth behind these myths laid somewhere in the middle. Sehanine did appear and get involved near the battle's end, using her magic to blind Gruumsh when he attempted to attack her, and mixed her tears with Corellon's blood to create elven souls. Most importantly however, she returned Corellon's ability to fight back by restoring the destroyed Sahandrian and giving it to Corellon before clouds covered the moon and she disappeared. Lolth arguably assisted Corellon but mostly by accident, entrapping Gruumsh in her web to prevent him following Corellon into Arvandor. In reality, this was an excuse for her magical lashing out at the fact he wasn't killed, and Gruumsh would have been halted by Arvandor's mystic defenses regardless.
So did the final phase of this battle of gods commence, Gruumsh with his spear and Corellon with his blade. While Corellon could not equal Gruumsh's attacks, he could dodge, parry, and get in close despite Gruumsh's attempts to keep him at bay. The orc god managed to blow him back with the spear's hilt long enough to switch to a dagger and axe, yet Gruumsh still could not properly strike Corellon. Sahandrian would not break again, and even against two weapons Corellon was too agile for his guard to be broken, preventing Gruumsh from bringing his full strength to bear. Sensing the turning tide of battle, Corellon made his move, thrusting his sword so Gruumsh could only block with his arm. Too late did Gruumsh realize his dagger remained in his hand; Sahndrian sunk between his arm bones, and drove Gruumsh's weapon into his eye.
All sensation was erased from Gruumsh's mind in a burst of white-hot pain. He screamed and howled, rolling and tossing on the ground in immortal agony, clutching his face as a copious flow of black ichor spewed from his ruined eye. Corellon simply regarded his foe, uncertain of whether or not the fight was over as Gruumsh spoke out against him. The orc threatened and swore at the Protector, whose own fortitude was beginning to falter from his various injuries, promising him eternal misery and the destruction of all he created. Unsure if Gruumsh could live up to his promise of continuing the fight, Corellon left, back towards Arvandor. Gruumsh's other injuries would heal, and quickly at that, but he would remain half-blinded for all time.
Some said that Corellon made particularly sure to twist his blade so that Gruumsh's eye would never heal, and that in fact it was the cause of the meeting. In this tale, Corellon knew Gruumsh's eye gave him his prescient powers, and at great personal cost had secured knowledge on how to strip this power from him. Never, neither at the battle's start or end, did he plan on killing the orc; assuming that he could, he didn't want to (perhaps out of some sense of divine kinship, whether one believed the stories of their relatedness or not). Neither would it be honorable to slay an unarmed or wounded foe, a dishonor that Sehanine herself would be bound to report. Though he would have preferred to parley, if Gruumsh could not be trusted with his prophetic powers, Corellon was determined to end his threat, not by killing, but crippling him.
Standing once more, Gruumsh attempted to track down Corellon, expressly planning to fight him if he still stood or slay him where he layed. Even if not for Arvandor's natural defenses, he was stopped by Lolth, caught as a fly in the Weaver's conjured web. She would attempt to gain information out of the One-Eye, but Gruumsh would have none of it, especially after his defeat and subsequent capture at her hands. In some myths Lolth was already exposed as a monster at this point and had failed to approach Corellon (whether to kill him or beg his forgiveness) due to Sehanine's influence. She would whisper in Gruumsh's mind after he was blinded promising to heal him and expose Corellon's weaknesses. Fact or fiction, their history cast aside, Gruumsh denied her, and counted her as a foe ever since.
With Corellon beyond his reach (an arguable retreat on the elven god's part), Gruumsh was left to leave Arborea on his own. He turned back, some say breaking through a mountain wall behind him when he lost the eye, fleeing to the netherworld below as he took refuge in the darkness under the earth. Blood still dripped from his fingers as he left in pain, blood that would spawn a series of horrors. The remnants of his eye dripped into the cracks in the earth under the earth, mingling with latent primordial pockets to spawn dreadful monsters. Meanwhile, some of the ichor seeped into the Feywild, supposedly cursing (or blessing) the fomorians with evil eyes, clairvoyant sight, awful pain and terrible power. The connection was but a rumor however, as was the blood's alleged link to the one-eyed cyclopses.
Whether or not one believed that Gruumsh won the battle, elves and orcs thought of this (albeit incorrectly) as the genesis of the latter race. Gruumsh left the field in a welter of curses that Corellon would know only sadness, nursing his hatred for him below the earth. He would forever seek ways to shape enemies of the Seldarine, and the greatest of these creations, born from his will, burning rage, and black blood, would be the orcs. Just as Corellon's blood (mixed with Sehanine's tears) formed the souls of new elves, so too did orcs arise from Gruumsh's, appearing from where it mingled with the mortal earth where the adversaries had fought. In his most painful hour, his race of special servitors that would bring destruction to Corellon's works, the vision he had foreseen, would come to pass.
The creation legends of the various demihuman (including elves, dwarves, gnomes, and halflings) and human peoples stressed the importance of the deal their gods had with one another about allocated living spaces in the world. The greatest gods created and/or shaped the worlds, and in them Corellon took the woodlands, Moradin the mountains, Garl the hills, and Yondalla the meadows, with the protean humans allowed to live wherever they could thrive. The gods were in agreement regarding their peoples places and it was deemed good; not so in the myths of the orcs.
In the myths of pre-history constantly retold by their shamans, the orcs held to the (some would say ridiculous) idea that the gods and their set locations in the world were decided by sortition, each drawing lots that gave them their respective lands. When it came around to the turn of Gruumsh and his pantheon however, the lots would either already had been used up, or only after attempting to pick a location would Gruumsh learn it had been taken by someone else. All the good places of the world, if not every place, had been claimed, and in this version the other gods laughed and taunted the One-Eye as his people had nowhere to live. The lots had been rigged, and his orcs cheated into destitution.
It was important to note that even in some elven myths of this ancient story, where the gods agreed on dominions rather than selecting them randomly, the element of there being no good territories remaining for Gruumsh remained. In non-orc legends he was said to have emerged from the shadows of the Underdark, almost always being the one to bring strife into the world through his violence and fell creatures. Indeed, in elven myths it was the hatred he introduced through the Godswar that resulted in the gods secretly encouraging their people to spread beyond their chosen borders. In any case, Gruumsh's divine fury was said to have been respected by his fellow gods in the past, and yet in this moment he felt himself and his chosen people cast aside without respect, robbed of a place in the world.
At first Gruumsh was silent, but then he lifted his spear over the world and unleashed a furious bellow. So did Gruumsh pierce the mountains, lay waste to the green hills, gouge the meadows and burn the forests. He made chasms, rifts, caves, badlands, barren wastes, and blighted glades for his followers to inhabit (although in some he just takes the caves, cliffs, and dark places no one else wants and plots vengeance from there). Then did Gruumsh swear that his people would avenge themselves by taking other lands for themselves, declaring total war against the other gods (especially the Seldarine and Morndinsamman, whose forests and mountains he would have chosen second and first respectively and who he felt particularly cheated by) and that a time would come when orcs ruled the world.
Over the course of history, Gruumsh and his pantheon had always been without a permanent home, with some claiming that his preoccupation with waging unwinnable wars had led to the poor state of his pantheon. In pre-history, anywhere between one to four unknown orc gods might have been destroyed.[note 2] This might have been because they conspired to depose Gruumsh (since then he ruled the others tyrannically) and were destroyed utterly, or the result of Ilneval undermining and systematically destroying them. The Crafty Warrior's scheming saw other (possibly the same or including the same) orc gods relegated to lesser status in his climb to power, and it was letting his pantheon members fight amongst themselves that saw them removed from the Hells.
Forced to leave their territories in the other planes of lawful evil, Gruumsh and his followers moved to Acheron, the long-established home of Maglubiyet, where they would end up fighting for the same cube. Both races, goblinoid and orc, stated that their side won each battle, yet due to the nature of the plane, the enemy would simply return to life the next day. Neither side would move to another dull cube or share the current one, fighting for centuries to secure one dismal hill only to lose it again the next decade. So it continued until the cubes were separated, not that this ceased the feud between the rival powers.
Gruumsh's pantheon suffered even more causalities with the advent of the Orcgate Wars. In -1076 DR, on a southern portion of the Plateau of Thay, a horde of orcs was unleashed, quickly overrunning the territories of Mulhorand and Unther. The orcs were from another world, having discovered a massive Gate opened years earlier by the rebel wizard Thayd. The god-kings of those lands mustered opposing armies and charged against them, and in response the orc shamans (using magic since lost to their descendants) summoned avatars of their own gods to counterattack.
The war would rage on for the next four years, culminating in heavy losses on the sides of both armies. Despite enemy tactics, the orcs nearly overwhelmed the hastily assembled human forces, who only survived by the grace of Re, Lord of Sun and leader of the Mulhorandi pantheon, blinding the orc army. It was then that Gruumsh and his divine allies charged forward, and at great personal cost to themselves, slew the god-king of Mulhorand, thus committing the first act of deicide in the Realms.
Re's death was not in vain however, for Anhur, Lord of War, had devised a brilliant trap. The elite forces of both Unther and Mulhorand had been held in reserve up until this point, and once the orcs charged had smashed into their flanks. The orc was army scattered and Gruumsh, along with the rest of his pantheon, was forced to retreat. While Gruumsh and his pantheon had managed to slay Re (as well as the Untheric gods Inanna, Girru, Ki, Marduk, Nanna-Sin, Nergal, and Utu), the price of this unprovoked conflict was steep. Many gods and divine manifestations from his side had died as well, and those that hadn't were severely weakened from the fight against Re.
The problems for the orc gods did not stop in Faerun's ancient past. During the Time of Troubles, the travel god Shaundakul was said to have slain at least one demipower, possibly of orcish origin, in the ruins of Myth Drannor. His position did improve with the advent of the World Tree Cosmology however, where Nishrek was its own domain not constantly beset by goblinoid hosts, even if the wars just turned inwards.
The Spellplague of 1385 DR and the decades preceding it saw a further flourishing of Gruumsh's influence. The orc population grew and more humanoids fell under his sway as he put his own pantheon and other minor deities of savage races under his control. Talos was noted to have been an aspect of his for this period, while at the same time Maglubiyet was forced under Bane's tyranny.
Unfortunately for Gruumsh, this supremacy did not last. Over the course of the Second Sundering he lost his Talos aspect and Maglubiyet had broken free of Bane's control, their eternal war in Acheron recommencing. Furthermore, his control over his own pantheon had waned, as it was around this time when Luthic's secret romance with Grumbar was uncovered.
The archmage Tzunk went so far as to predict that the Cave Mother would outlast Gruumsh in the war against Maglubiyet, surpassing even her husband in ferocity when her children were threatened. Where Gruumsh saw the war simply as an opportunity for glorious battle, she took a longer view of the conflict, understanding its cosmic implications for the orcs. Tzunk predicted that the war would end with her the last god standing, ascending to rule her warrior children.
Regardless of his future, Gruumsh was still a powerful, destructive force in the multiverse. He swore revenge against all other gods for their alleged crimes against him, and Corellon above all others for maiming and robbing him of his own powers of premonition. Thus would the One-Eyed God continue his eternal war of vengeance against his peers; he remained a threat into the modern era, too treacherous to be dealt with and far too angry to be ignored.
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Akadi | Amaunator | Asmodeus | Auril | Azuth | Bane | Beshaba | Bhaal | Chauntea | Cyric | Deneir | Eldath | Gond | Grumbar | Gwaeron | Helm | Hoar | Ilmater | Istishia | Jergal | Kelemvor | Kossuth | Lathander | Leira | Lliira | Loviatar | Malar | Mask | Mielikki | Milil | Myrkul | Mystra | Oghma | Red Knight | Savras | Selûne | Shar | Silvanus | Sune | Talona | Talos | Tempus | Torm | Tymora | Tyr | Umberlee | Valkur | Waukeen
Abbathor | Berronar Truesilver | Clangeddin Silverbeard | Deep Duerra | Dugmaren Brightmantle | Dumathoin | Gorm Gulthyn | Haela Brightaxe | Laduguer | Marthammor Duin | Moradin | Sharindlar | Vergadain
Aerdrie Faenya | Angharradh | Corellon | Deep Sashelas | Erevan | Fenmarel Mestarine | Hanali Celanil | Labelas Enoreth | Rillifane Rallathil | Sehanine Moonbow | Shevarash | Solonor Thelandira
The Dark Seldarine
Eilistraee | Kiaransalee | Lolth | Selvetarm | Vhaeraun
Arvoreen | Brandobaris | Cyrrollalee | Sheela Peryroyl | Urogalan | Yondalla
Lords of the Golden Hills
Baervan Wildwanderer | Baravar Cloakshadow | Callarduran Smoothhands | Flandal Steelskin | Gaerdal Ironhand | Garl Glittergold | Nebelun | Segojan Earthcaller | Urdlen
Bahgtru | Gruumsh | Ilneval | Luthic | Shargaas | Yurtrus
Anhur | Bast | Geb | Hathor | Horus | Isis | Nephthys | Osiris | Re | Sebek | Set | Thoth
Other gods of Faerûn
Bahamut | Enlil | Finder Wyvernspur | Ghaunadaur | Gilgeam | Lurue | Moander | Nobanion | Raven Queen | Tiamat
Greater Gods of Faerûn
Amaunator | Asmodeus | Bane | Chauntea | Corellon | Cyric | Ghaunadaur | Gruumsh | Kelemvor | Lolth | Moradin | Oghma | Selûne | Shar | Silvanus | Sune | Tempus | Torm
Gods of Faerûn
Angharradh | Auril | Bahamut | Berronar Truesilver | Beshaba | Garl Glittergold | Gond | Ilmater | Loviatar | Luthic | Malar | Mielikki | Sheela Peryroyl | Sseth | Talona | Tiamat | Tymora | Umberlee | Waukeen | Zehir
Exarchs of Faerûn
Abbathor | Arvoreen | Baervan Wildwanderer | Bahgtru | Baravar Cloakshadow | Brandobaris | Callarduran Smoothhands | Clangeddin Silverbeard | Cyrrollalee | Deep Sashelas | Dugmaren Brightmantle | Erevan Ilesere | Fenmarel Mestarine | Fzoul Chembryl | Garagos | Hoar | Hruggek | Jergal | Labelas Enoreth | Lliira | Maglubiyet | Malar | Marthammor Duin | Milil | Obould | Red Knight | Sharess | Shargaas | Shevarash | Shiallia | Siamorphe | Solonor Thelandira | Thard Harr | Uthgar | Valkur | Vaprak | Vergadain
Greater Deities of Faerûn
Angharradh | Bane | Chauntea | Corellon Larethian | Cyric | Garl Glittergold | Gruumsh | Horus-Re | Kelemvor | Lathander | Moradin | Mystra | Oghma | Shar | Silvanus | Sune | Talos | Tempus | Tyr | Yondalla
Intermediate Deities of Faerûn
Abbathor | Arvoreen | Baervan Wildwanderer | Berronar Truesilver | Beshaba | Callarduran Smoothhands | Clangeddin Silverbeard | Cyrrollalee | Deep Duerra | Deep Sashelas | Dumathoin | Erevan Ilesere | Flandal Steelskin | Gond | Hanali Celanil | Helm | Ilmater | Isis | Labelas Enoreth | Laduguer | Lolth | Mask | Mielikki | Nephthys | Osiris | Rillifane Rallathil | Sehanine Moonbow | Segojan Earthcaller | Selûne | Set | Sharindlar | Sheela Peryroyl | Solonor Thelandira | Thoth | Tymora | Umberlee | Urdlen | Vergadain
Major Deities of Faerûn
Angharradh | Bane | Bhaal | Chauntea | Corellon Larethian | Garl Glittergold | Gruumsh | Horus-Re | Lathander | Moradin | Myrkul | Mystra | Oghma | Shar | Silvanus | Sune | Talos | Tempus | Tyr | Yondalla
Other Deities of Faerûn
Auppenser | Abbathor | Arvoreen | Auril | Baervan Wildwanderer | Berronar Truesilver | Beshaba | Callarduran Smoothhands | Clangeddin Silverbeard | Cyrrollalee | Deep Duerra | Deep Sashelas | Dumathoin | Erevan Ilesere | Flandal Steelskin | Gond | Hanali Celanil | Helm | Ilmater | Isis | Labelas Enoreth | Laduguer | Lolth | Mask | Mielikki | Nephthys | Osiris | Rillifane Rallathil | Sehanine Moonbow | Segojan Earthcaller | Selûne | Set | Sharindlar | Sheela Peryroyl | Solonor Thelandira | Thoth | Tymora | Umberlee | Urdlen | Vergadain