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Gruumsh (pronounced: /grmʃgroomsh[22] or: /grʌmʃgrumsh[22]) was an orc god and a greater deity. He was envisioned with one eye by all who named him a god and was a deity mainly worshiped by orcs and orogs.[9]

No! You lie! You have rigged the drawing of lots, hoping to cheat me and my followers. But One-Eye never sleeps; One-Eye sees all. There is a place for orcs to dwell... here! And here! And here again! There! There is where the orcs shall dwell! And they shall survive, and multiply, and grow stronger. And a day will come when they cover the world, and they shall slay all of your collected peoples! Orcs shall inherit the world you sought to cheat me of!
— A telling of Gruumsh's mythical declaration of war against the other gods.[23][24]


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.[15][17][13] His tough, gray hide was corded with muscle, and on his one-eyed face was a bear-like snout.[25] 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.[15][17][13]


Violent and bloodthirsty,[26][27] Gruumsh was a god that exulted in battle[28] and reveled in warfare.[15] He was a savage deity[26] with the rage of a berserker[29] whose desire to wreak havoc could only be satisfied through destruction and carnage.[27] The patron god of the orcs loved fighting for its own sake,[30] and he needed no greater reason to create gore than to hear the pleasing sound of viscera flopping wetly to the ground.[31] Gruumsh was also driven and aggressive,[9] constantly pushing his people to create and engage in the pain, conflict, and strife that he relished.[30][27][32][33]

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.[19]

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.[19] He was an unreliable deity,[34] ultimately more concerned with victory than any kind of honor[35] and more interested in causing devastation than making long-term plots or complex maneuvers.[31] However, despite these chaotic traits of his being, Gruumsh also had more lawful aspects to his personality.[34][15] 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.[32][30][13]

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.[15][33] In the opinion of the One-Eyed God, nearly all territory rightfully belong to the orcs[13] and he encouraged them to take their birthright by driving other races from their lands.[30] It was this drive to acquire territory and living space that was Gruumsh's greatest motivation,[15] and even with his bloodlust and creed of unending war, he would not object to simple colonization provided it could be arranged.[13]


Incredibly powerful even by divine standards, Gruumsh was a god of immense physical strength and impossible vitality, even before he entered a barbaric rage.[13][29] 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.[15] Despite his divine nature, Gruumsh was still an orc and had the typical orcish aversion, however minor, to bright light,[13] and supposedly grew more powerful during the night.[36] A wide variety of spell-like abilities and clerical magic powers were at his disposal.[13][15]

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.[13] It was believed that at one point he had minor powers of prescience, allowing him to receive visions of the future.[37]


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.[9][13][17] 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.[38][39]

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.[9][15][40] 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.[15]

Gruumsh was fully capable of working metal and stone to craft weapons and armor, magical or otherwise.[13] His suit of armor was supposedly fashioned from the hides of forty slain dragons.[37]

Related Items[]

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.[38][41]


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.[18] 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.[42][30] Though 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.[43]

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".[4]

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.[42] 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.[43][30] 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.[42] 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.[42][43]

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.[42][43]

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.[42]

Trench-orcs, through bravery, treachery, or simple luck, could rise out of their slums and into the cities.[42] 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.[30] 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.[42] 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.[30][42][43]

Gruumsh was also believed to have a dwelling somewhere in the Infinite Abyss.[44]


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.[12]

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.[12]

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.[12]


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.[5][45]


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.[46] Much of his attention was taken up by the war between goblinoids and orcs in their afterlife,[15] but he still pursued his ancient vendetta against Corellon.[43] 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.[15] 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.[15][13]

Gruumsh was always watching over the orcs and especially wary of transgressions, but this could be as much a curse as a boon.[15] Orcs that couldn't meet his high expectations were destroyed by Gruumsh either through fire or through the aggression of rival orc clans.[30] 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.[12]



The Tribe of He Who Watches

The Tribe from left to right: Bahgtru, Ilneval, Gruumsh, Shargaas, Yurtrus, and on the lower row under Gruumsh, Luthic.

Gruumsh's pantheon was known as The Tribe of He Who Watches,[1] and he held absolute authority over all of its members.[9] Though there was a clear and strict chain of command within the orc pantheon,[19][30] 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.[19]

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),[32] and Gruumsh demanded little of those under him but to kill and destroy the weak and their adversaries.[31] 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.[32] Though he did not truly fear his lieutenants rising against him,[30] Gruumsh was wary of certain members of the pantheon,[47] and almost all dwelt with him so that He-Who-Never-Sleeps could keep his ever-open eye on them.[32]

Gruumsh's mate was Luthic the Cave Mother, the orc goddess of healing and home.[47] 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.[4] 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.[48]

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.[47][49] 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.[50]

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.[4] Bahgtru (who curiously had two eyes)[19] was as phenomenally powerful as he was unbelievably stupid, trusting both his parents completely[49] and requiring guidance in things other gods would do without need for instruction.[15] 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.[19][47]

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.[30][49][9][47]

Shargaas the Night Lord, orc god of darkness and stealth, hated all living things, which extended to divine life and included his master.[47] 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[51] and only worked with his pantheon out of pragmatic self-preservation.[47] Shargaas sought to ignore the war between goblins and orcs, but had little choice but to assist Gruumsh when asked.[49] Gruumsh did not always appreciate subtle subterfuge, as the orcs were supposed to obtain what they desired with direct force,[4] 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.[49]

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.[47] It was unclear if Yurtrus chose the mantle of god of death or was assigned it,[52] 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.[53] 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.[49]


Gruumsh had many proxies, ranging between orc champions, patchwork teams of fiends, and powerful undead groups. The best known 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.[42][54]

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.[42]


Gruumsh disliked everything that wasn't an orc or made by orcs,[13] and did not truly consider any non-orc his ally.[9] He was constantly battling other deities for what he felt was stolen from him long ago,[9] and even if orcs talked of forging alliances with other humanoids, all knew that there would only be room for only one people in the end.[19] 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.[48][55] 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.[56] 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.[57] 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.[58][59]



Of all the various races and their patron deities, Gruumsh had a particular hatred of the elven gods.[25] His ancient battle against Corellon (and overall loss) directed his spite towards the elves,[13] and one of his dictates was to destroy not only them, but also their homes and lands.[9] While it was said that most gods 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.[60]

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 had 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.[25]

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.[37] As far as he was concerned, she was an elf, making her his enemy,[25] and he hated her as much as he ever hated Corellon.[29] 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.[25]


Gruumsh's hatred for the dwarven gods, especially Moradin, was roughly equivalent to his loathing of the elven ones.[13][15][30] 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.[15] Gruumsh and the orcs valued their survivability in inhospitable locales,[15][61] but every orc tribe dreamed of taking a dwarven stronghold, as well as the loot within.[62]

Although the orcs lost their war for the mountains,[13] their reliance on strength over cunning meaning that they could usually only overcome strongholds that were severely weakened for whatever reason,[62] Gruumsh regarded this as a strictly temporary situation.[13] He demanded his followers crush the dwarves and take their caves,[9] and his eye was always vigilant for signs of weakness in Moradin's followers.[62] For his part, Moradin loathed Gruumsh and deities like him.[63]


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.[64]


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.[32][33]

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.[4][65] 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.[33]

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.[32] 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.[32][33] 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,[32] and Gruumsh's willingness to let the members of his pantheon squabble was possibly one of his major weaknesses.[30]

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.[66] 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.[67]

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.[34] 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.[68]

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,[68] although there were exceptions to this general rule. He sometimes had allies in the powerful, obedient, and destructive hezrous and the disciplined, militaristic mariliths.[69] 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.[68]


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,[30][70] but eventually Luthic, who had persistently been trying to obtain Hecate's assistance, managed to obtain it.[49]

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.[71]


Gruumsh was the center of the dark, primal religion of the orcs, one of brutality, bloodshed, and devastation.[72][73] As venerators of Gruumsh, orcs took pleasure in the act of slaughter and put their faith in blind savagery.[73][74] 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.[73][35]

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.[4]

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.[4] In wilder regions, the priests of Gruumsh tended towards becoming barbarians, while those in or near a civilization commonly became fighters.[9]

If Gruumsh intended females to be the equal of males he'd have given them bigger muscles.
— A less brutish translation of a saying among orc warriors.

Most of the orc pantheon was extremely patriarchal,[9] with most of the gods only accepting male priests and shamans.[32] This applied especially to Gruumsh, who was considered the orc god of virility (in contrast to Luthic, who governed fertility).[19] This was a result of the "might makes right" attitude common in orcish society, since males were stronger on average than females.[15] 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.[61]

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.[75] 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.[19]

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.[76] 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.[77] 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.[78]

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.[79][80]

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.[81]


Though orcs were his most fervent followers, Gruumsh had come to dominant a multitude of savage humanoids, which he unleashed against the civilized world.[8][82] For example, during the Spellplague, trolls also worshiped Gruumsh, seeing Vaprak as their racial patron under him.[55] Although an overwhelming majority of evil dragons worshiped Tiamat, around 5% were devoted to different deities, with the more destructive, ravaging types favoring Gruumsh.[83]

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.[84]


Orc war priests wore a patch over one eye to symbolize their worship of the orc deity.[85] They also dressed in dark red vestments, armored with war helms and black plate mail.[20]


Gruumsh's holy day was the new moon, and he was worshiped in orcish lairs where blood was sacrificed to him monthly.[20]

Faithful of Gruumsh were called Gruumans.[citation needed]


Gruumsh's enmity with the other gods started with a lottery. The gods of the dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, humans, and orcs met to draw lots to determine which parts of the world were to be inhabited by their respective worshipers. The non-orcish gods rigged the lot. Elves got the forests, dwarves the mountains, humans the right to live wherever they wanted, and so on, but there was no lot prepared for the orcs. Gruumsh was mocked and insulted by the others for this and was enraged over the others cheating the orcs into destitution as part of a joke. He lifted his spear to strike caves and holes into world and claimed these for his worshipers and vowed that they will grow stronger there to ultimately kill every one of the cheaters and take everything from them.[86][23]

In a past time, Gruumsh had two eyes but he lost one in a fight with the chief elven god Corellon Larethian. Gruumsh meant to paralyze Corellon with his magical spear; this attack failed and initiated an epic battle. During the course of this battle, Gruumsh injured Corellon and, according to legend, from the blood shed the elven people were created. Corellon ended the fight by putting out Gruumsh's left eye, which is how Gruumsh earned his moniker "One-Eye". Some orcish clerics denied this tale, dismissing it as elven propaganda while claiming that Gruumsh always had one eye.[9]

In the year −1071 DR, Gruumsh battled and killed Re, the leader of the Mulhorandi pantheon, during the height of the Orcgate Wars. This was the first recorded instance of deicide.[87]

Gruumsh's influence flourished in recent decades[as of when?] with the growth of the orc population, and as other humanoids came under his sway. His recent triumphs[as of when?] included putting the orc pantheon and other minor deities of the savage races under his thumb.[citation needed]



  1. In 4th edition (during the Spellplague), Talos was noted as being an aspect of Gruumsh, but in 5th edition the two are once again seperate

Further reading[]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Steve Kenson, et al. (November 2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 24, 117–118. ISBN 978-0-7869-6580-9.
  2. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  3. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins, James Wyatt (2014). Dungeon Master's Guide 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10. ISBN 978-0786965622.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Mike Mearls, et al. (November 2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Edited by Jeremy Crawford, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 82–85. ISBN 978-0786966011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. Edited by Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 64, 74–75, 80. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  6. Logan Bonner (August, 2009). “Domains in Eberron and the Forgotten Realms”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #378 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 32.
  7. Rob Heinsoo, Stephen Schubert (May 19, 2009). Monster Manual 2 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 140. ISBN 0786995101.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 23, 62, 104. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 148–149. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
  10. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 240. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  11. Hal Maclean (September 2004). “Seven Deadly Domains”. In Matthew Sernett ed. Dragon #323 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 65.
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The Tribe of He Who Watches
The Orc Pantheon
Lesser Deities

Deities of the Post–Second Sundering Era
Ao the Overgod
Faerûnian Pantheon
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
The Morndinsamman
Abbathor | Berronar Truesilver | Clangeddin Silverbeard | Deep Duerra | Dugmaren Brightmantle | Dumathoin | Gorm Gulthyn | Haela Brightaxe | Laduguer | Marthammor Duin | Moradin | Sharindlar | Vergadain
The Seldarine
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
Yondalla's Children
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
Orc Pantheon
Bahgtru | Gruumsh | Ilneval | Luthic | Shargaas | Yurtrus
Mulhorandi pantheon
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