Shargaas (pronounced: /ˈʃɑːrgɑːs/ SHAR-gas) was the orcish god of the cold, the dark, and the night, patron of orcs that acted stealthily in the shadows. The brooding Stalker Below plotted the death of the living from the lightless realms deep beneath the surface. The Night Lord was also their god of undeath, though not death itself, and an embodiment of their fears—the fear of the unknown, and the fear of what lurked in the night below.
Description[edit | edit source]
Shargaas appeared as a gaunt, 8 feet (2.4 meters) tall, ebony-skinned orc with jet-black eyes that seemed to glow an unholy light when in the darkness. He dressed in all black and wore a dark cloak.
Personality[edit | edit source]
Secretive, murderous, and frightfully cruel, Shargaas was the smartest of the orc gods. He was more cunning than even the general Ilneval, and his scheming was more cold and calculated than any of the others. Though it didn't manifest as the traditional berserker fury of the orcs, Shargaas was nonetheless a hateful being, seemingly despising all non-orc forms of life. However, the Night Lord's hatred of non-orcs went deeper than that, and was rooted in a basic hatred for life itself; in his glowing eyes, the orcs were little more than useful implements for killing that he would eventually discard once they outlived their usefulness.
His hatred of life extended to divine life as well, for Shargaas despised all other deities. Shargaas hated even his own life, and spent much of his time bemoaning his very existence, striking out (typically after careful consideration) at anyone who made it more unbearable, which included practically everyone in existence. Existence itself did not escape the hatefulness of the Night Lord, for Shargaas loathed the very forces of creation that brought him into being. In Shargaas's mind, the best way to avenge oneself upon creation was to steal everything creation held dear, and the vile deity took great glee in using his powers of undeath.
Powers[edit | edit source]
The strength of Shargaas's avatars was significantly impacted by the level of light in the area. They could see perfectly in absolute or magical darkness for over a mile but were completely blinded in sunlight. In total darkness, they resisted about half of the magic used against them, whereas they resisted on a fourth when in partial light and were completely vulnerable to it when in daylight. If in partial light or darkness, he could hide within the shadows and become nigh impossible to spot, and it was said that when he walked upon the earth that he could hide himself and his followers such that no mortals could detect them.
Shargaas could cast darkness at will, enervation three times each day, and command undead as if he was an incredibly powerful cleric. He could also climb any surface without slipping, even if it was perfectly smooth.
Manifestations[edit | edit source]
Shargaas was known to manifest his presence as an enveloping darkness, or a pair of eyes as pitch black eyes that floated in the air. He also sent omens in the form of sudden chills in the air, moans of lamentation, and his dreaded and painful "cold fevers".
Possessions[edit | edit source]
Realm[edit | edit source]
The Night Lord's realm was known as the Night Below, a seemingly infinite series of tunnels and caverns that twisted in all directions, inside and out, and sometimes over and around each other. In the Great Wheel, it was located on the fourth layer of Gehenna, Krangath, although disinformation spread by Shargaas's minions led to reports claiming that it was on the fiery second layer or cold and acidic third.
The layers of Gehenna were finite (although larger than any known landmass on the Material Plane) and yet Shargaas's realm simultaneously seemed to contain more space than all of Krangath could hold, while not comprising the entire mount. It was thought by some that Shargaas's realm extended beyond Krangath, reaching into the caverns in all worlds at the cold areas associated only with frigid temperatures, spots that Shargaas could supposedly see and reach through to grab someone at his leisure.
In the World Tree and World Axis models, the Night Below was in Nishrek, a natural setting twisted to fit orc ideals. Ravaged by eternal war and ceaseless carnage, entire orc tribes fought across its black seas, tangled forests, jagged badlands, and burning deserts when not preparing for future bloodshed from inside the fortresses and trenches that dotted the terrain. In this bleak, bloody realm, the gigantic cavern system that was the Night Below was still separate from Gruumsh's Iron Fortress.
Regardless, the name "Night Below" was more than symbolism; no matter its location, Shargaas's realm was darker than the blackest night, and no matter the power or magical nature of light brought there, it could only illuminate a 5 feet (1.5 meters) area. Even infravision failed in the Night Below, although the darkness magnified one's other senses, with sound and smell becoming extremely important. For those not blessed by Shargaas, this was a horrid curse, as they found their armor jingling, weapons clanking, storage containers creaking, and even the slightest sounds reverberating throughout the realm. Most had to actively will themselves to move faster due to the greater acuity with which they heard their own noises.
Inhabitants[edit | edit source]
For those who were blessed by Shargaas however (including his petitioners) the Night Below's qualities were exceptional boons. Those going through the tunnels could move silently with rarely the slightest shuffle betraying their skulking, and could easily mask their scents from others. In addition, only the devoted servitors of Shargaas and the Night Lord himself could see in the dark within the Night Below, with all of them possessing a sort of blindsight.
Anyone blindly stumbling through the realm attracted orcs like flies drew in spiders, and light was sure to draw the attention of many, though only one would normally appear before the intruders. The rest (at least nine more and up to ninety-nine) were hidden in the shadows ready to strike, preferably from behind. The Night orcs, as they were known, were brutal and petty beings taken from the most wicked of Shargaas's mortal followers. They spent their afterlives in a desperate bid for Shargaas's approval, and killed anyone without a good enough reason to be there (with most reasons being insufficient). There were also rumors of other creatures in the Night Below, though the orcs surely knew about them and likely controlled them.
The main towns in the Night Below were in the larger caverns, but even the most sizable strongholds only contained around 3000 individuals since the realm was big enough there was no need to pack together. The major town was known as Cold Fever (after one of Shargaas's punishments) and was just as inhospitable as the rest of the realm, although if one was lucky they might find a guide to take them there (not that they'd be safe even once they got to the realm). Shargaas's Audience, his citadel, was at the center of town, although one that didn't belong was more likely to die before reaching it.
Only those looking to hire assassins or thieves received any kind of welcome, as the Night orcs rightly prided themselves on being some of the best of both. They had near unrivaled knowledge of their trade—poison, accidents, and other matters of murder— if one was willing to pay the exorbitant price. Some also went to Cold Fever for information about the rumored layers of Gehenna below Krangath, (which if they existed only Shargaas knew about) but those who went for such reasons never returned and likely ended up in his undead army.
Activities[edit | edit source]
Shargass only sent out avatars when he was concerned with a conflict between orcs and other underground races, such as dwarves or gnomes. He sought to spark war underground in order to obtain corpses for animation. His minions were sent out with some regularity.
Relationships[edit | edit source]
Shargaas hated all beings, not all of them equally, and his choice to ally with the other orc deities, who he tried to manipulate into serving his own despicable ends, was a purely pragmatic one. In particular he maintained a cold alliance with Yurtrus, the mouthless orc deity of death and disease, who silently backed Shargaas in his efforts to subtly counterbalance the warmongering influence Gruumsh, Bahgtru, and Ilneval. Ilneval loathed the two of them for their underhanded and cowardly approached, but the War-Maker was smart enough to utilize both their skillsets effectively when fighting other pantheons. Conversely, Shargaas secretly revealed the ambitious lieutenant's treacheries to Gruumsh to undermine him while cementing his own position in the pantheon.
Gruumsh didn't always look kindly on subterfuge and sabotage given that the traditional orc way of getting what one wanted was to do so directly. However, even the One-Eyed God found Shargaas's secretive services needed from time to time, and despite wanting to ignore the eternal war between orcs and goblins, Shargaas had little choice but to give him assistance. At Gruumsh's command, Shargaas would send teams of assassins to "dispose" of generals in the goblinoid forces before withdrawing so far into his realm not even Gruumsh himself could contact him for over a year. Shargaas was dangerous to all beings but Gruumsh, but the Night Lord still regarded the pantheon leader with vengeful hatred for all the indignity he put him through.
To express this hatred towards Gruumsh, Shargaas heaped abuse on his favorite proxy, Turgren the Half-Blind, so called because he was blind in one eye. Despite bearing no personal hatred towards Turgren, the sight of the orc reminded him of his bitter experiences with Gruumsh, so he nonetheless mistreated the unfortunate servant. Turgren abused anyone lesser then him, whether they were an actual subordinate or complete stranger, in turn, using his skills in physical and mental torment.
Outside his own pantheon, Shargaas was without allies, though his enmity for the dwarf, gnome, and goblin gods was greater than any other loathing.
Worshipers[edit | edit source]
Shargaas was worshiped as the patron of orcish (including half-orcs) bandits and thieves, and any among their kind that did their wicked work under the cover of darkness. He was considered by most orcs to be a god of pariahs, weaklings, and other outcasts, those that for whatever reason (injury, infirmity, ineptness, malnutrition, or seniority) were unfit for proper roles in the tribe. While this was somewhat true for the followers of Yurtrus as well, who also joined the cult of their god to avoid daily shame, banishment, or death, those under Shargaas were even greater rejects, deemed unsuitable to serve as custodians of the dead. Seen even by their fellow orcs as debased, dishonorable skulkers in the shadows, those forced into the deep darkness of the tribe would either be brought into the cult or Shargaas or sacrificed to the Night Lord.
The priests and shamans of Shargaas were sneaking killers who constantly honed their skills, often supplementing their clerical skills by training as assassins, blackguards, divine seekers, rogues or shadowdancers. Pickpocketing, hiding in the darkness, and assassination were skills that every follower needed to learn. Joining the cult required sufficient levels of dexterity, and clerics gained the ability to create continual darkness and cast a version of cloak of fear combined with the darkness spell (which the priest could see through).
Elite among the assassins and thieves of the cult were the Red Fangs of Shargaas, who used a combination of intense training and magic granted by the Night Lord to perform covert operations. They saw through the darkness, quickly slayed unprepared foes, and could cast darkness without material components, a move known as the Veil of Shargaas. Red Fangs rode an animal sacred to Shargaas, giant bats, with most enclaves having a rookery where such creatures were nurtured. By using secret tunnels in the back of orc layers (typically ending in a cliff face from the main lair), they conducted stealth raids and assassinations. The giant carnivorous bats silently entered enemy territory and echolocated hidden enemies, before swooping down, snatching the victims, and going back through the tunnels. Captives were either fed to a brood of giant bats or kept as slaves for work or barter.
Dogma[edit | edit source]
According to the dogma of Shargaas, the darkness was cold and everlasting, but the mantle of the black night provided cover for a hidden blade. The Night Lord was considered the patron of Underdark orc tribes, his own clans always dwelling underground, and it was the duty of his followers to eliminate all other races, and especially to go into the deepest tunnels and wage war against those intruding upon Shargaas's domain.
Much like with Gruumsh and Shargaas, the cultists of the Night Lord were sometimes called upon by orc chieftans to perform specific tasks when faced with foes that could withstand direct assaults. They acted as scouts and spies for orcish armies, though only under the cover of darkness, and worked on the margins of enemy forces to eliminate watchmen and prevent defense forces from mustering. In particular though, the cultists were sent to assassinate an enemy leader, kidnap an important individual as a hostage or swipe a valuable object. The cult leader would supply aid when asked for the price of something the group prized, such as food, tools, or slaves.
Despite being despised by most other orcs, the secret society of Shargaas was a dangerous hidden force in most tribes, for one of their mandates was, while silent and unseen, to cull the weak. While most Shargaasan followers were forced to dwell far from the others, others remained with the main body, hiding their true affiliation while posing as ordinary warriors. These secret agents singled out the weakest warriors to strengthen the tribe as a whole and removed them based on the logic that a chain was only as strong as its weakest link, and a young orc that failed to show sufficient warrior talent would soon be visited to either join or be slain by the cultists.
Even orc chieftans were not exempt from the predations of Shargaas's followers, and the clerics of the Night Lord could strike fear into even the mightiest of them. Part of the culling of the weak included the elimination of chiefs perceived to be cowardly, weak, or ineffectual leaders, elimination being a stab in the dark. The failures of an orc warchief could be the doom of Shargaas's own followers, and so the eyes of any leader had to be watched for signs of weakness.
While the practice of culling the weak was normally accepted as necessary, speaking of it was taboo; orcs that disappeared were simply said to be "with Shargaas" and never mentioned again.
Rituals[edit | edit source]
Shargaasan clerics prayed for spells at midnight, when darkness shrouded the world. The major holy days of Shargaas occurred during the new moon, when the sky was clouded and dark. Services in honor of the Night Lord cold be done anywhere, but during the monthly new moon ceremony, a grim event known as the Chant in the Abiding Darkness, the clergy of the Night Lord gathered under the dark sky to honor the Stalker Below.
Sacrifices to Shargaas took the form of stolen items, with supplicants to the faith being required to offer something during the Chant that was of great value to its original owner (preferably an enemy's heart). Orcs deemed unfit were also known to be sacrificed to Shargaas by being torn apart and devoured as tribute to the Night Lord. Afterwards, the assembled clergy would chant a series of ritualistic prayers, pledging their service to the Blade in the Darkness as his silent and deadly weapons.
Temples[edit | edit source]
Shargaas was thought to lurk in the depths of the earth, deep underneath the caves of most orcs that dwelt on the surface-realm. As such, the outsider orcs of the Stalker Below dwelt in the deepest, darkest most isolated portions of a tribe's lair, away from the warhearth close to where the entrance to his realm was located. Altars of Shargaas took the form of bloodstained rocks.
Clothing[edit | edit source]
Appendix[edit | edit source]
See Also[edit | edit source]
Further Reading[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Gary Gygax (August, 1985). Unearthed Arcana (1st edition). (TSR, Inc.), p. 119. ISBN 0880380845.
- Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 150–151. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
- Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 24, 118. ISBN 978-0786965809.
- 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, 81. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- 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.
- Hal Maclean (September 2004). “Seven Deadly Domains”. In Matthew Sernett ed. Dragon #323 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 65.
- Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel (July 2006). Monster Manual IV. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 118. ISBN 0-7869-3920-6.
- Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 161–162. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
- Carl Sargent (May 1992). Monster Mythology. (TSR, Inc), p. 47. ISBN 1-5607-6362-0.
- Colin McComb (1996). On Hallowed Ground. Edited by Ray Vallese. (TSR, Inc), p. 134. ISBN 0-7869-0430-5.
- Gary Gygax (August, 1985). Unearthed Arcana (1st edition). (TSR, Inc.), p. 120. ISBN 0880380845.
- Jeff Grubb (July 1987). Manual of the Planes 1st edition. (TSR), p. 108. ISBN 0880383992.
- Roger E. Moore (June 1982). “The Gods of the Orcs”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #62 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 30, 32.
- Sean K. Reynolds (2002-05-04). Deity Do's and Don'ts (Zipped PDF). Wizards of the Coast. p. 14. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2018-09-08.
- Colin McComb (December 1995). “Liber Malevolentiae”. In Michele Carter ed. Planes of Conflict (TSR, Inc.), p. 40. ISBN 0-7869-0309-0.
- Mike Mearls, et al. (November 2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Edited by Jeremy Crawford, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 84–85. ISBN 978-0786966011.
- Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), Running the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 63. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
- Mike Mearls, et al. (November 2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Edited by Jeremy Crawford, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 185–186. ISBN 978-0786966011.
- Colin McComb (1996). On Hallowed Ground. Edited by Ray Vallese. (TSR, Inc), p. 177. ISBN 0-7869-0430-5.
- Jeff Grubb, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan (September 2001). Manual of the Planes 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 108. ISBN 0-7869-1850-8.
- Colin McComb (December 1995). “Liber Malevolentiae”. In Michele Carter ed. Planes of Conflict (TSR, Inc.), p. 41. ISBN 0-7869-0309-0.
- Jeff Grubb, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan (September 2001). Manual of the Planes 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 111. ISBN 0-7869-1850-8.
- Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 161–162. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- Colin McComb (December 1995). “Liber Malevolentiae”. In Michele Carter ed. Planes of Conflict (TSR, Inc.), p. 28. ISBN 0-7869-0309-0.
- Mike Mearls, et al. (November 2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Edited by Jeremy Crawford, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 82. ISBN 978-0786966011.
- Mike Mearls, et al. (November 2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Edited by Jeremy Crawford, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 90. ISBN 978-0786966011.
- Gary Gygax (August, 1985). Unearthed Arcana (1st edition). (TSR, Inc.), p. 122. ISBN 0880380845.
Connections[edit | edit source]
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