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Myrkul (pronounced: /ˈmɛrkʊlMER-kul[13] about this audio file listen), also known as the Lord of Bones, the Lord of the Dead and the Reaper,[2] was a god of the dead in the Faerûnian pantheon.[14] He was originally a mortal man, a necromancer named Myrkul Bey al-Kursi, who ascended to godhood alongside Bhaal, the god of murder, and Bane, god of fear, hatred and tyranny.[15] For a time Myrkul's portfolio, and his home, the Bone Castle, were both usurped by the mortal Cyric and later passed on to the ascended Kelemvor.[14] However, as that which is dead can never truly die, Myrkul was worshiped as a god of the dead once more in the 15th century DR.[2]

His influence in Faerûn was inspired through the fear of death.[4] Myrkul wasn't widely worshiped so much as dreaded, and even blamed for the natural difficulties that accompanied growing old.[2] He had mastered the skill of sparking unease and fear amongst mortals through every action or mere word. His face, the white skull shrouded in a black cowl, was recognized across the Realms as the symbol of fear and death, the paragon of nightmares.[4]

It was very important to Myrkul that Faerûnians always kept him in the back of their mind. He never missed an opportunity to remind the world that he was waiting for them all.[4]

Description[edit | edit source]

The avatar of Myrkul appeared as a skeleton of a man hidden in flowing black robes. His wrinkled, lesioned skin and blackened, cracked lips gave the appearance he was just on the verge of death. He spoke in a rather high whisper, though his words never showed enough inflection to convey feeling or concern.[4]

Symbol[edit | edit source]

The holy symbol of Myrkul was a white skull inset into a black triangle.[2]

Abilities[edit | edit source]

This section is a stub. You can help us by expanding it.

Worshipers[edit | edit source]

Main article: Church of Myrkul

A cultist of Myrkul

The worship of Myrkul was never popular in Faerûn.[4] His worshipers, who were often undertakers in one form or another, were a morose, secretive lot, reticent to share their faith with those outside his meager and unorganized church.[2] These Myrkulytes were tasked with ensuring the people of Toril both feared and respected death. To aggrandize Myrkul's power they would propagate rumors that merely touching one of his priests would bring certain death.[6]

Relationships[edit | edit source]

From his mortal life and well into godhood, Myrkul maintained a complicated kinship, if not outright friendship, with Bane and Bhaal.[15] He counted Shar as an ally and Chauntea, Lathander and Mielikki among his foes, though the latter was likely a much longer list.[4]

Despite his death at the hands of Cyric, whom his faithful referred to as Cyruk, the transition of Myrkulyte mausoleums to Cyricist temples was a smooth and painless transition.[6]

Death walks behind each of us, every day. Nay, don't look back nor try to run—none can outrun his fate, though many try strange and elaborate ways of doing so. Death is patient and comes for you when he's ready—oft when you least expect him and least want him. It's the way of Death.
— Oren Bel Danarr, Sage of Triel, Musings on the Realms[16]

Realm[edit | edit source]

Myrkul ruled from the realm of the Bone Castle, within the Gray Wastes. After the Time of Troubles was sent adrift on the Astral Plane.[4]

History[edit | edit source]

As a mortal, Myrkul's full name and title was said to have been Myrkul Bey al-Kursi, Crown Prince of Murghôm.[17] He was a powerful adventuring necromancer in his mortal years, traveling with Bane and Bhaal, each dedicated to a quest to attain divinity for themselves. The trio scoured the Realms for power and information to get closer to godhood and eventually managed to slay one of the Seven Lost Gods. Having gained some divine power, they embarked into the Gray Waste, and after slaying legions of undead, stood before the Lord of the End of Everything, Jergal.[15]

The ancient god had grown tired of his reign and freely agreed to hand over his dominion of the underworld. As the three could not decide who among them would sit upon the throne of the dead, they left the decision to chance with a game of knucklebones. Bane emerged the winner and declared himself "ruler for all eternity as the ultimate tyrant". Myrkul had come in second place and his decision seemed to out-maneuver the Black Lord.[15]

"But I choose the dead, and by doing so I truly win… All things must die—even gods.
— Myrkul Bey al-Kursi[18]

So Myrkul ascended, or rather descended, as the Lord of the Dead, ruler of the underworld.[15] While he would never have the predominant worship that Bane, or even Bhaal, had in Faerûn he became a symbol of fear that every mortal would recognize and remember.[19]

Betrayer's Crusade[edit | edit source]

When the Rashemen city of Mulsantir was ravaged by a plague known as the Black Whisper, only two priests, both of them faithful to Myrkul, were willing and able to tend Rashemi that died within the streets. As a rare symbol of recompense, the Lord of the Dead retrieved the Silver Sword of Gith from the Abyss and presented it to his follower, Akachi. Myrkul anointed him as his chosen and directed him to continue his teachings in Faerûn.[20]

When Akachi's faithless lover died in an accidental arcane backfire, the priest knew her soul would be lost to the Wall of the Faithless in the City of Judgement. He begged Myrkul to spare her from this fate, but the Lord of Bones refused. Filled with anger and sorrow, Akachi renounced his god, and along with his brother Araman, assembled group to march on the City of Judgement by means of the Betrayer's Gate, tear down the wall and retrieve his beloved.[20]

Akachi's crusaders were met on the Fugue Plane by Myrkul himself, who led an army comprised of ancient heroes, a horde of devils from the Abyss and those judged to have broken oaths with their deities. During the ensuing battle, Myrkul broke through Akachi's forces and had the former Chosen bound in chains and dragged to the basilica to face judgement. He was denounced as one of "the False", and rather than be banished to the City of Judgement, was cursed to roam Faerûn as the faceless man, an abomination with an insatiable hunger for the souls of others that became known as the Spirit-Eater. Myrkul handed down this punishment as a sort of contingency plan that ensured the people of Toril would always fear his name.[20]

Time of Troubles[edit | edit source]

Many years later, Myrkul again allied himself with Bane and the two dark gods conspired to steal the Tablets of Fate from the overgod Ao, in hopes that the loss of these tablets would weaken him enough that he could be overthrown.[21] In response, the gods were banished from their respective Realms, forced to live on Toril in avatars that held a mere fraction of their divine power.[22]

Sometime in the first half of the year 1358 DR, the gods appeared in the Realm of Faerûn. While it was unclear where Myrkul first turned up, at one point he traveled to the Goldenfields, a temple dedicated to the Earthmother Chauntea, where he fought the High Priest Tolgar Anuvien. Myrkul was stopped from destroying the temple outright, but he left Anuvien dying on the ground after their battle.[23]

On Eleasis 13,[24] Myrkul assisted Bane with their continued pursuit of the tablets and had his clergy work to create and cast a mass-scale death spell that, by use of their true names, killed all of the assassins throughout Faerûn. These souls were consumed by Bane and his worshipers in an ultimately futile attempt for the Black Lord to assault the Temple of Torm's Coming in the city of Tantras, where one of the tablets rested under guard.[23]

It was unknown exactly when, but Myrkul learned of the location of the other Tablet of Fate and recovered it to his realm, the Great Waste.[25] Remaining in his realm with his tablet, Myrkul sent his night riders to intercept the mortal Midnight at High Horn, as he knew her to be in possession of the other divine artifact.[26]

The undead host of Myrkul riding through the streets of Waterdeep.

After Midnight and her companions arrived at Waterdeep, Myrkul followed from Hades through the Pool of Loss beneath the Yawning Portal inn. He rode through the city with a horde of undead and fiendish minions, finding Midnight, her allies and the remaining Tablet of Fate taking refuge in Blackstaff Tower.[27] He briefly reunited the two divine slabs and ascended the spire towards the Celestial Stairway. A magnificent battle ensued on the tower's roof, and when the Lord of Bones was distracted by a swooping griffon he was disintegrated by the young mage whom he had been pursuing. The avatar of Myrkul was destroyed in an eruption of plague and death.[28] Some of the dust from this explosion drifted far to the north and came to rest in the Mere of Dead Men southeast of Neverwinter, causing outbreaks of undead from ancient battles in the area.[29]

Crown of Horns[edit | edit source]

As Myrkul's avatar was slain, just before the majority of his power was transferred to Cyric during his ascension, the last remnants of his energy entered into the Crown of Horns, which was locked away within a vault inside Khelben "Blackstaff"'s tower. The ancient Netherese artifact held what was left of his personality and memories for a decade, after which it reformed its physical form on Toril. By Myrkul's lingering will, the crown transported around Faerûn to a number of hosts, allowing the god to maintain his influence among the mortals, as he ever did, sowing dissent and fear via suggestion and influence.[30] Among those that wore the crown were Aumvor "the Undying"[31] and the Yuan-ti pureblood, Nhyris D'Hothek.[30]

Third Crusade of the Faithless[edit | edit source]

Myrkul as a Dead Power

In 1374 DR, while escaping from the Academy of Shapers and Binders in Thay, the Kalach-Cha passed through a portal to the Astral Plane and happened upon Myrkul's corpse, spending some time conversing with the nearly-dead god on the nature of the Spirit-Eater curse, of which they were the current victim.[20]

Mask of the Betrayer permits the player character to slay Myrkul permanently using the Spirit-Eater curse at the end of the conversation, or allow One of Many to attempt to consume his remnant. Given Myrkul's resurrection in the 5th Edition rulebooks, neither of these choices can be considered canon.

15th century[edit | edit source]

While many were converted to the worship of Cyric,[32] and later Kelemvor,[20] there were several minor shrines of Myrkul that survived through the Spellplague and past the Second Sundering. Following this cataclysmic event, the Lord of the Dead was restored as one of the gods[2] of death, sharing aspects of his domain ironically enough with Jergal, in service of Kelemvor, despite the opposing viewpoints of their faithful.[7][33][9]

In the later years of the century, Myrkul was a quasi-deity that remained in mortal form.[1]

Appendix[edit | edit source]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Video games

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Adam Lee, Christopher Perkins (September 17, 2019). Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 231. ISBN 0786966769.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 35. ISBN 978-0786965809.
  3. Interplay (December 1997). Designed by Chris Avellone, Robert Hanz. Descent to Undermountain. Interplay.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 124. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  5. Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 142. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 125. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 21. ISBN 978-0786965809.
  8. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 294. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins, James Wyatt (2014). Dungeon Master's Guide 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 96–97. ISBN 978-0786965622.
  10. Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 41. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  11. Colin McComb (1996). On Hallowed Ground. Edited by Ray Vallese. (TSR, Inc), p. 182. ISBN 0-7869-0430-5.
  12. Eric L. Boyd (1997). Powers and Pantheons. (TSR, Inc), pp. 31–32. ISBN 0-7869-0657-X.
  13. Adam Lee, Christopher Perkins (September 17, 2019). Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 4. ISBN 0786966769.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 43. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 36. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  16. Ed Greenwood (June 2000). “The New Adventures of Volo: Quotations of the Realms”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon #272 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 95.
  17. Brian R. James and Matt James (September 2009). “Monument of the Ancients”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dungeon #170 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 80.
  18. Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 37. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  19. Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 35. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 Obsidian Entertainment (September 2007). Designed by Kevin D. Saunders. Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer. Atari.
  21. Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 23. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  22. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 264. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Ed Greenwood (1989). Tantras (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 26. ISBN 0-88038-739-4.
  24. Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 74. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
  25. Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  26. Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 5. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  27. Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 36. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  28. Ed Greenwood (1989). Waterdeep (adventure). (TSR, Inc), p. 39. ISBN 0-88038-757-2.
  29. Ed Greenwood and Sean K. Reynolds (May 1999). “Wyrms of the North: Voaraghamanthar, "the Black Death"”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon #258 (TSR, Inc.).
  30. 30.0 30.1 Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (1996). Volo's Guide to All Things Magical. (TSR, Inc), p. 101. ISBN 0-7869-0446-1.
  31. Jeff Crook, Wil Upchurch, Eric L. Boyd (May 2005). Champions of Ruin. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 126. ISBN 0-7869-3692-4.
  32. Jeff Crook, Wil Upchurch, Eric L. Boyd (May 2005). Champions of Ruin. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 125. ISBN 0-7869-3692-4.
  33. Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 32. ISBN 978-0786965809.

Connections[edit | edit source]

The Faerûnian Pantheon
Major Deities
AzuthBaneBhaalChaunteaCyricGondHelmIlmaterKelemvorKossuthLathanderLoviatarMaskMielikkiMyrkulMystra (Midnight) • OghmaSelûneSharShaundakulSilvanusSuneTalosTempusTormTymoraTyrUmberleeWaukeen
Other Members
AkadiAurilBeshabaDeneirEldathFinder WyvernspurGaragosGargauthGrumbarGwaeron WindstromHoarIstishiaIyachtu XvimJergalLliiraLurueMalarMililNobanionThe Red KnightSavrasSharessShialliaSiamorpheTalonaTiamatUbtaoUlutiuValkurVelsharoon

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

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