Yurtrus (pronounced: /ˈjɛrtrʌsYER-truss[2]) was the orcish god of death and disease, a constant terror that silently waited for their demise.[2] The vile god was a counterpart to Shargaas,[4] for while the Night Lord symbolized the fear of what lurked in the shadowy unknown, the morbid Lord of Maggots was the ceaseless threat of sickness and inevitable death orcs faced. Shargaas merely hated life, but Yurtrus was nothing more than its denial, embodying the principles that destroyed it—antilife.[2][14]

When White-Hands speaks.
— An orcish saying that meant "never".[13]

Description[edit | edit source]

Yurtrus appeared as a vaguely orcish giant, a 12 feet (3.7 meters) tall abomination riddled with rotting flesh and consumed by corruption.[1][13][16][17] His peeling skin glowed green and was covered in oozing pustules and sores, his repulsive form rupturing with every step.[16][2][18] Surrounding the disgusting body of the Rotting One was a huge cloud of noxious, stinking gases, which covered an approximately 20 ft (6.1 m) radius around him.[1][13] Yurtrus also had no mouth, and so could not utter sounds.[16]

The only acceptable part of Yurtrus were his clawed hands,[2] which were smooth, unblemished, and otherwise completely normal save for their pure, chalk-white color.[16][13][17]

Personality[edit | edit source]

Vile and inscrutable, Yurtrus was considered unpleasant even by the orcs.[13] He was infamously uncommunicative (as befit a being with no mouth) and did not share his secrets.[13][19] Despite his lawful tendencies, he was known to act on his capricious whims.[13][14][1]

Powers[edit | edit source]

The horrid gas around Yurtrus's avatar caused mortals increasing levels of distress based on their vitality. Most were affected as if it was dust of sneezing and choking, but the more powerful felt it as a stinking cloud or even symbol of pain, with effects lasting as long as one remained within the smog.[13][1]

Yurtrus himself couldn't be harmed through poisons or illnesses,[13] and his touch infected his victims with a rotting disease (if not several). The loss of vitality from the immediate touch could be permanent, requiring multiple wish level spells to fully remedy, and would be fatal in a few days unless the subject was healed.[13][1]

Aside from that, Yurtrus wielded powerful divine magic which he could use to cast spells of death and destruction.[13][1]

Manifestations[edit | edit source]

Yurtrus's omens were usually outbreaks of disease,[13] though he also manifested through the stench of rot or the decaying of white hands or slime.[15]

Realm[edit | edit source]

Yurtrus's realm, commonly referred to as Fleshslough, was located on the diseased 1st layer of the Gray Wastes known as Oinos. Practically nothing was known about it since not even avatars sent by other gods ever left.[13] What was known was that even by the standards of the emotionally-draining wastes, it was a dreary and depressing place. All plant-life died before getting so far as the border,[19] and each time the entrance (two great black, iron doors set into a hillside) swung open, the stench of death wafted out.[13] Even the yugoloths, ruled in the Gray Wastes by the master of plague and disease that was the Oinoloth, moved carefully through his territory.[19] Only Yurtrus and his equally quiet, mouthless petitioners lived within.[19][20]

In the World Tree cosmology, Fleshslough was located alongside the domains of the other orc gods in Nishrek, a land of eternal carnage where orc tribes fought unceasingly to prove themselves to their gods. In a dimension where (much like in Ysgard) those that died in glorious battle simply returned to life, Yurtrus was the most feared being of all. Petitioners who fought poorly were sent by Gruumsh to the mighty hill standing above the battlefields where Yurtrus dwelt, forced to enter Fleshslough where Yurtrus would separate their spirits from their flesh, permanently killing them.[10]

Activities[edit | edit source]

Yurtrus only sent out avatars to spread pestilence and cause pandemics whenever he so desired.[13][1] However, Yurtrus was said to have an actual role in his pantheon—that of a punisher. It was believed that orc tribes that went too long without following Gruumsh's decrees by despoiling the land, raiding neighbors or slaying dwarves and/or elves, risked being ravaged by Yurtrus's plagues.[21]

Relationships[edit | edit source]

By his very nature, Yurtrus did not typically form relationships. He did have a cold alliance of sorts with Shargaas, silently supporting the Night Lord's subtle efforts to counteract the influence of the three orcish gods of war (Gruumsh, Bahgtru, and Ilneval).[2] Ilneval hated both Yurtrus and Shargaas for their underhanded methods and smell of cowardice, but was smart enough to put both their skills and abilities to use effectively when fighting other pantheons.[22] Even Gruumsh, however, was frightened of Yurtrus despite likely being able to kill the Rotting One if he desired, as rumor had it that he was unwilling to get that close.[14]

Outside of his own pantheon, Yurtrus was thought to have some relations with other gods of death and disease like Talona, although it was possibly more a rivalry than an alliance.[2] He was perhaps the mightiest of the non-human gods of Hades with the exception of the sea-confined Panzuriel[note 1] (though if the two ever bothered to fight, Yurtrus would be a serious challenge),[3] but there were perhaps some places so virulent that even he would hesitate to go there.[20] Like the rest of his pantheon, he hated the dwarf, elf, and goblinoid gods, and he opposed them when the opportunity arose.[2]

Yurtrus had no known proxies,[14] but despite his lack of a mouth and generally silent ways, he was known communicate through telepathic whispers to some.[16]

Worshipers[edit | edit source]

Yurtrus followers were the outcasts of an orc tribe, those that, due to frailty, deformity, injury, age, or some other infirmity, were too weak to be part of the main body.[6][5] Rather than face a life of daily ridicule or be exiled or killed, such orcs joined the cult of Yurtrus[5] (or were deemed unsuitable and given over to the cult of Shargaas).[16] Rarely were his priests leaders of their clans,[2][13] but they were found in all tribes and had a kind of protected status.[6]

Yurtrus's horrifying nature granted his followers a great amount of independence,[2] so they were allowed to stay on the fringes of the tribe, although they were nonetheless held in unease and aversion.[16] Shamans of white hands walked the line between the living and the dead, gaining unnatural powers of death (and disease) from their nonverbal communion with Yurtrus,[16][13] and their practice of necromancy (considered taboo even by orcs) created a strange combination of fear and reverence in the rest of the tribe.[16]

Those that chose to worship Yurtrus were often orcish or half-orc assassins,[2][1] and others that either profited from or worshiped death.[1] Yurtrus's church was generally disorganized, its clergy dispersed among uncounted tribes and clans, although there were a few orders of monks dedicated to him.[2] One such monastic order was the the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge, who unlike other monks, could learn clerical abilities without destroying their potential as monks. They bleached their hands and grew their nails long, dipping their claws in blood infected with red ache powder before going into battle so as to infect their enemies.[23] Other followers of the Rotted One trained as divine disciples.[2]

According to legend, once each year on the winter solstice, the Rotted one reached out with his pristine white hands and touched an orc infant in the womb. Said orc would be born with whitish skin, pink eyes, and a weak, slender frame, but none would dare slay the newborn despite its "deformity" for its traits marked it as a chosen emissary of Yurtrus, a plague speaker. A hallowed outcast, plague speakers struck respect and terror in other orcs, who feared him for his divine origin and vile deity. Standing alone, a plague speaker's only company was usually his mother, who idolized him and was sometimes a potent spellcaster herself.[21]

Plague speakers were given a secure sleeping area, albeit well away from the tribe, ample food and drink, and a share of the spoils of war. Their duties were to tend to a small shrine of Yurtrus, care for the sick and dead, and to represent the desires of both Yurtrus and the orc pantheon as a whole, ensuring the chief didn't rouse their ire. Normally he would be aware of threats to the tribe before he was in personal danger, and though other orcs would gladly exploit the confusion he created when coming to their defense, they would not fight by his side. If the tribe was destroyed, they would go in search of a new home, and any orc tribe he came across had no choice but to accept him, however grudgingly, to avoid the wrath of his patron deity.[21]

Dogma[edit | edit source]

An orc nurtured to carry the plague of Yurtrus.

Followers of Yurtrus believed death was the inevitable fate of all life, and that the ravages of an epidemic were simply death taking victims who had not fallen in battle, allowing orcs to choose what way they would most likely die. Orcs could only forestall the touch of White Hands only by begging for mercy, and as such they were to fear him, but ultimately, it would be of no use. Disease and pestilent doom would come to all, for death always lurked in the shadows of Luthic's caves, and it would certainly strike again.[2]

The clergy of Yurtrus determined if the food and water in tribal stores was too rotted or tainted for consumption,[2] and when plague struck orc tribes, the White Hands of Yurtrus, as they were known, were responsible for quarantining the sick. Those suffering from abhorrent diseases that could be saved but not healed were brought into the fold and tended to like prized cattle, because they had been chosen for a special divine purpose. At night, during a heavy fog, at the front of an army or in defense of the tribe, these orcs given Yurtrus's vile blessing were sent (often through a hail of arrows) to spread the message of death and disease to the enemy. Upon death (which they themselves could immediately induce) they exploded in a shower of toxic corruption, softening the enemy in a suicidal burst of sickness.[16][24]

Rituals[edit | edit source]

The holy symbol of Yurtrus.

In many respects, Yurtrus was not so much worshiped as he was dreaded and appeased, given fealty by the orcs only because they were afraid of angering him and sought to propitiate him.[13][2][14] Some tribes had begun to worship him as a god of food and health (given the priests' duty of looking over the food supply), but he was moreso being propitiated as the reverse.[2]

The clergy of Yurtrus were the intermediaries between their tribe and the Rotting Lord, pleading with him when the community was the victim of a disease or an epidemic[2][13] and communing with other orcs through the auspices of Luthic, although ironically most removed their tongues to emulate their god and so couldn't speak.[24] Despite his silence, Yurtrus was sometimes receptive to properly respectful prayers and sacrifices to save an individual or tribe from the ravages of disease.[2][13] Living sacrifices to Yurtrus were offered on an otherwise monthly basis under the full moon, though a great number of prisoners and slaves were given in times of plague.[1] Sacrifices to the Rotting Lord were generally given through their inoculation to a particularly horrible disease.[2]

The divine followers of Yurtrus prayed for their spells at dusk, when the day began to die, and the church recognized two major holy days. The first was the Ceremony of Contagion, celebrated on Midsummer's Eve, when Yurtrus's contagion was said to take root, drain the world of life, and draw it inevitably toward winter and the year's end. After a series of bloody sacrifices to protect the orcs disease, the priests went forth to spread disease and death worldwide, especially to other races. The second holy day, known as the Putrescent Death, was celebrated on the eve of Midwinter. That night, the clergy of Yurtrus recognized the death of the world, symbolized by sacrificing members of other intelligent races.[2]

After Death[edit | edit source]

Every orc knew that the Hands of Yurtrus were the gateway to the ancestors of the tribe, masters of the borders of life and death. It was through their shamanic rites that the spirits of the dead were contacted and the living passed into the land of the dead.[16][24]

The priests of Yurtrus dealt with matters of death related to the tribe,[16] sending off the dead (whether they perished due to injuries, disease, or natural causes) in funerary rites.[2] They sought out the bodies of fallen heroes, and sometimes even enemies of appreciated strength and ferocity, to honor them by severing their heads, boiling or smoking them to remove most of the flesh, and then ritualistically punching the bridge of the nose to leave a single "eyehole" behind.[16]

Orcs that served the tribe well were meant to be sent via the rituals to meet Gruumsh in the afterlife.[24] Orcs that died in a failed battle were left behind, for they were weak and did not deserve to join Gruumsh, while those that perished from old age (a rare occurrence in orc society) were likely followers of Yurtrus already, and would have their bones repurposed and their souls taken when Yurtrus came for his chosen in absolute silence.[16]

Clothing[edit | edit source]

Hands of Yurtrus wore pale white gloves made from the bleached skins of non-orc humanoids (preferably elves) to symbolize their connection to White Hands, though covering their hands in ash was also acceptable.[16][24][1][13] They also wore thin "armor" woven from the same material that was about as effective as cloth, though they kept their heads bare. In combat they wielded maces with the head in the shape of a white fist.[1][13]

Temples[edit | edit source]

Yurtrus's followers dwelt on the threshold of an orc tribe's cave, where the actual cavern system began. As keepers of the dead, their place of worship were underground crypts, the entrance to their domains decorated with piles of bones and skulls. An altar to Yurtrus made of stone with the symbol of a hand painted with ash and tallow was placed in a cramped chamber separate from the main living area, lined with ossuary material. The bones of fallen warriors added to the shrines, and the bones of Yurtrus's Hands were used to build furnishings and structures in areas dedicated to his worship.[1][16][25]

History[edit | edit source]

In 927 DR, the Year of the Red Rain, Yurtrus's wrath fell upon the Sword Mountains, causing the Blood Plagues. During this time, the orc shaman Wund united several orc tribes under the leadership of chief Uruth, forming the kingdom of Uruth Ukrypt. The cult of White Hands formed the backbone of that kingdom, and around this time the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge was founded.[26]

Rumors and Legends[edit | edit source]

It was not known if Yurtrus was assigned his position like many other gods of death, or if he willingly chose the mantle of decay and disease.[19]

Appendix[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Roger E. Moore (June 1982). “The Gods of the Orcs”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #62 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 30, 32.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 151. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Colin McComb (December 1995). “Liber Malevolentiae”. In Michele Carter ed. Planes of Conflict (TSR, Inc.), p. 47. ISBN 0-7869-0309-0.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 24, 118. ISBN 978-0786965809.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 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.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Scott Fitzgerald Gray (April 29, 2014). Dead in Thay. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 67.
  7. Rob Heinsoo, Stephen Schubert (May 19, 2009). Monster Manual 2 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 140. ISBN 0786995101.
  8. 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.
  9. Hal Maclean (September 2004). “Seven Deadly Domains”. In Matthew Sernett ed. Dragon #323 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 65.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 161–162. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  11. Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 189. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  12. Carl Sargent (May 1992). Monster Mythology. (TSR, Inc), p. 45. ISBN 1-5607-6362-0.
  13. 13.00 13.01 13.02 13.03 13.04 13.05 13.06 13.07 13.08 13.09 13.10 13.11 13.12 13.13 13.14 13.15 13.16 13.17 13.18 13.19 13.20 13.21 13.22 Carl Sargent (May 1992). Monster Mythology. (TSR, Inc), p. 48. ISBN 1-5607-6362-0.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 Colin McComb (1996). On Hallowed Ground. Edited by Ray Vallese. (TSR, Inc), p. 134. ISBN 0-7869-0430-5.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Sean K. Reynolds (2002-05-04). Deity Do's and Don'ts (Zipped PDF). Wizards of the Coast. p. 15. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2018-09-08.
  16. 16.00 16.01 16.02 16.03 16.04 16.05 16.06 16.07 16.08 16.09 16.10 16.11 16.12 16.13 16.14 16.15 Mike Mearls, et al. (November 2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Edited by Jeremy Crawford, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 84. ISBN 978-0786966011.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Mike Mearls, et al. (November 2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Edited by Jeremy Crawford, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 185. ISBN 978-0786966011.
  18. 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.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 Jeff Grubb (July 1987). Manual of the Planes 1st edition. (TSR), p. 107. ISBN 0880383992.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Colin McComb (December 1995). “Liber Malevolentiae”. In Michele Carter ed. Planes of Conflict (TSR, Inc.), p. 48. ISBN 0-7869-0309-0.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel (July 2006). Monster Manual IV. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 116. ISBN 0-7869-3920-6.
  22. Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 150. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
  23. Sean K. Reynolds (2002-05-04). Deity Do's and Don'ts (Zipped PDF). Wizards of the Coast. p. 7. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2018-09-08.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 Mike Mearls, et al. (November 2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Edited by Jeremy Crawford, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 184–185. ISBN 978-0786966011.
  25. 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.
  26. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 111–112. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.

Connections[edit | edit source]

The Tribe of He Who Watches
The Orc Pantheon
Gruumsh
Lesser Deities
BahgtruIlnevalLuthicShargaasYurtrus
Exarchs
Obould

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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