Okay, here’s the second entry in my project to update the gods of Monster Mythology to the 2nd Edition “Faiths & Avatars” format. This time we have the chief deity of the orcish pantheon, Gruumsh.
This time I’ve created a couple spells for Gruumsh’s clergy to use, so I’m interested to hear thoughts on them, too. One is a modification of an existing dwarven spell, and the other is a codification of a special ability granted to Gruumsh’s priests in Monster Mythology. I plan to do that for similar abilities listed for other gods.
Gruumsh (PDF Version)
(One-Eye, Creator of the Orcs, He Who Never Sleeps, He Who Watches)
Greater Power of Acheron, LE
Portfolio: Conquest, territory, survival, domination, orcs
Domain Name: Avalas/Nishrek
Allies: Bahgtru, Luthic, Ilneval, Shargaas, Yurtrus, Hextor
Foes: Eldath, Lolth, Meriadar, the Seldarine, the dwarf and gnome pantheons
Symbol: Single unwinking eye
Wor. Align.: LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE
As the undisputed leader of the orcish pantheon and creator of the orcs, Gruumsh (GROOMSH) One-Eye drives his followers to overcome all foes, expand their territories, and claim what they believe is rightfully theirs. He revels in warfare and combat, and teaches that only through constant warfare can the strongest, most brutal orcs survive to beget even stronger future generations. One-Eye epitomizes the brutal savagery and drive to dominate all other creatures that is at the heart of orc society. All those with orcish blood venerate Gruumsh, except the scro and those few who have turned their back on their evil and savage heritage. He is ever watchful of his race, although woe betide those who transgress him or his priests.
Gruumsh has held his pantheon with an iron grip ever since two now-forgotten orcish deities in the distant past rose up and tried to usurp his throne. He Who Never Sleeps destroyed them utterly, and has since tolerated no challenges to his authority. However, this does not mean that he either trusts or fully depends on the other orcish gods. The only ones he can solidly depend on are his son, Bahgtru, and his wife, Luthic. He does not trust Ilneval, but with Bahgtru at his side, he does not worry a great deal about threats to his rule from the Horde Leader. Shargaas and Yurtrus are both tolerated by One-Eye since neither harbors any ambition towards rulership and their powers further his goals. As of yet, Gruumsh has not acted directly against the only independent orcish god, Dukagsh, who is the patron of the scro. Why He Who Watches has not acted is something of a mystery; he is usually not so taciturn, and he has not responded to priestly questions on the subject. Some priests believe it is because Dukagsh is either an aspect of Gruumsh, or that the scro god is explicitly furthering the goals of One-Eye; others theorize that Gruumsh has been distracted by events on Acheron and has just not noticed the actions of the scro. He Who Watches has few friends outside of the orcish pantheon, although he has been known to work with Maglubiyet when the goals are mutually beneficial, despite the near-constant warfare between their two pantheons on Avalas. Gruumsh reserves his greatest hatred for Corellon Larethian of the Seldarine and Moradin of the Morndinsamman, and strives to destroy their works at every opportunity.
Orcish myth has much to say about Gruumsh and his directives to his followers. Their belief that it is their destiny to conquer and destroy the lands of the elves, dwarves, halflings, humans, and other races stems from a particular legend, which can vary somewhat from telling to telling and tribe to tribe, but whose basic elements are always the same. In this story, which takes place at the dawn of time shortly after the creation of the multiverse, the gods gathered to draw lots to determine in which areas of the worlds each race would live. The lot drawn by the gods of the elves gave them the verdant woodlands, the dwarven gods drew the lot that gave them the riches under the mountains, the gods of the gnomish peoples drew the lot for the rocky, sunlit hills, the halfling gods drew the lot for the meadows and rolling hills, and the gods of the humans drew the lot that allowed them to live wherever they pleased. With all the lots taken, they taunted the orcish gods that there was no place left for their race. Decrying their rigging of the lots, He Who Watches took his great spear and smote the lands, opening up great rifts and leaving fields stark and bare, and declared his peoples would live in those areas, survive, and grow strong, and one day, would slaughter all those who sought to cheat them of their right. Other great myths relating to One-Eye are sometimes connected directly to the previous myth, and relate to orcish conflicts with the elves and dwarves specifically, rather than everyone in general. The myth surrounding the elves has a parallel in elven mythology, and relates the great battle fought between Gruumsh and Corellon Larethian. Unlike the elven myth, however, the orcs deny that the Creator of the Elves took One-Eye’s other eye. In the orcish version, Corellon could not win in a fair fight and used magic to trick and cheat Gruumsh of his rightful victory. It is for this reason that orcs fear and hate most magic use, and go out of their way to destroy and despoil elven homelands. The tales of the battles between the orc gods and the dwarf gods for control of the mountains mirrors the previous tale in many ways.
Gruumsh generally does not send avatars to the Prime Material; usually only for a great battle that cannot be entrusted to Bahgtru or Ilneval, or to oppose the actions of an avatar of the Seldarine.
Gruumsh’s Avatar (Fighter 37, Cleric 18)
Gruumsh appears as a huge, battle-scarred orc with grey-green skin and a single central eye. He always wears dull black full plate armor which is covered in the dried blood of his enemies. He can cast spells from all priest spheres, but only uses reversed forms where appropriate.
AC −4; MV 12; HP 228; THAC0 −10; #AT 5/2 or 6/2
Dmg 2d8+16 (spear +4, +10 Str, +2 spec. bonus in spear) / 3d6 (torch)
MR 50%; SZ L (10 feet)
Str 22, Dex 16, Con 21, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 20
Spells P: 8/8/8/8/6/4/2
Saves PPDM 3; RSW 5; PP 4; BW 4; Sp 6
Special Att/Def: Gruumsh wields the Bloodspear, a great iron spear +4 as well as an enormous, everburning torch. Each hit by the Bloodspear paralyzes for 2d4 turns (save vs. paralysis at −4 to negate) and once per turn can cause darkness, 15′ radius centered on the victim if One-Eye wishes. His torch cannot be extinguished or dimmed by any means (fire quench, etc.) and he may strike once per round with it if he desires, causing 3d6 points of fire damage. He always wears magical full plate armor +3.
Once combat has begun, Gruumsh cannot be pacified by any means (emotion, charm, suggestion, etc.). His magic resistance rises to 80% when faced with elven magic. He can only be struck with weapons of +2 or better enchantment, and is immune to all gas attacks.
Gruumsh can cast cloudkill and death fog 3/day each through his torch. He always carries either a horn of blasting or a glass vessel containing 2d4 applications of dust of sneezing and choking. Using his torch, he can ignite the dust to generate a 20-foot radius of effect which lasts for 1d4 rounds per application (although strong winds can disperse the dust faster).
Gruumsh rarely manifests to his followers, as he believes they should be strong enough to confront challenges without his intervention. When he does manifest to a priest, it is usually in such agreeable forms as the snapping of a priest’s neck, or more leniently, a billowing cloud of black, toxic smoke. On very rare occasions, warriors or priests who have overcome tremendous odds will be sheathed in a blood-red aura, showing their fellow orcs that they are models to follow.
Gruumsh does not often exert his will through servitor creatures; however, he is known to be served by ash mephits, baatezu (any least or lesser type), cyclops and cyclopskin, fachan, hell hounds, imps, maelephants, reaves, smoke mephits, and sword spirits.
Clergy: Clerics, specialty priests, crusaders, shamans, witch doctors
Clergy’s Align.: LE, NE, CE
Turn Undead: C: No, SP: No, Cru: No, Sha: No, WD: No
Cmnd. Undead: C: Yes, SP: Yes, at priest level −2, Cru: No, Sha: Yes, WD: No
All clerics (including multiclassed fighter/clerics and clerics/thieves), crusaders, shamans, witch doctors, and specialty priests of Gruumsh receive religion (orc) as a bonus nonweapon proficiency, and are required to become proficient in the use of the spear (and may do so even if not normally allowed by class restrictions). Shamans are required to pluck out their left eye as a sign of devotion to One-Eye; some clerics do so as well, but they are not required to. All priests of Gruumsh are required to have at least a 12 Strength, as well.
The church of Gruumsh dominates most orcish tribes, and all other priesthoods are nominally subservient to it. Powerful specialty priests, clerics, and crusaders of Gruumsh are sometimes tribal chieftains, but more often they are advisors and war leaders, whereas shamans and witch-doctors are almost always advisors. They push their tribes to wage war and expand their territory, and are tasked with eliminating the weak, sickly, and infirm in order to keep the tribe strong and healthy. One-Eye’s clergy can be very vindictive; they do not hesitate to put an orc into a dangerous situation, or eliminate them outright, if they feel they have been slighted. Gruumshan priests have great say in who becomes chief of a tribe, and the clergy will undermine a chief who opposes their goals.
The priesthood of He Who Watches does not build many temples. They usually perform their services in a specially designated area within the tribal encampment, or in a nearby cave or grotto. When orcish tribes have taken the homes of elves, dwarves, gnomes, or other intelligent creatures they will frequently defile their temples and use them for their own religious ceremonies. The few Gruumshan temples that have been built tend to resemble small, squat fortresses made of large, dark stone blocks. The interiors are dark, dirty, and frequently covered in the dried blood of old ceremonies. It is common for such temples to contain small shrines dedicated to the other gods of the orcish pantheon, with the exception of Shargaas and Yurtrus, as well.
Novices in the service of One-Eye are called the Watched. Full priests are known as Everwatchers. There is no uniform hierarchy amongst the tribes, and the chief priest position is always held by the strongest orc. Specialty priests are known as bloodspears. Gruumsh’s clergy contains mostly orcs (65%), followed by orogs (25%), half-orcs (9%), ogrillons, scro, cyclops and cyclopskin (1%). Only the strongest females (18 Strength) can even attempt to join the priesthood of Gruumsh, and to do so, they usually have to overcome the head priest in combat; as such, the priesthood of Gruumsh is almost entirely male (99%). Gruumsh’s clergy is composed of specialty priests (45%), clerics (34%), fighter/clerics (12%), crusaders (6%), and cleric/thieves (3%). Shamans and witch doctors are not part of the clerical hierarchy, although they are considered brothers of the faith. Shamans are found in a bit more than twice as many Gruumsh-dominated tribes as witch doctors.
Dogma: Might is right. Only the strong should survive. Weed out the weak from the tribe. One-Eye’s greatest gift to his people is the ability to survive where weaker creatures would die; gain strength in these areas and use that power to sweep away the enemies of the tribe. Slaughter elves and destroy their works and homes. Rid the mountains and caves of dwarves and make their homes your own. Crush weaker orc tribes, for they do not deserve the blessings on He Who Watches.
Day-to-Day Activities: He Who Watches requires frequent sacrifices, on at least a weekly basis. The typical method of sacrifice involves securing a creature to a steeply angled altar and piercing their torso with a ceremonial iron spear; these are always designed to be wounds that cause a slow death, and the blood drains into a pool at the base of the altar. Elven victims are preferred, but any creature will do. One-Eye’s clergy also tend to be battle leaders, and revel in the glory of combat. They will usually perform blessings and divinations before initiating combat, in order to maximize the success of the attack. Within the tribe, they usually mediate most disputes, although for an orc, that usually means returning favorable decisions for the strongest warrior. However, they are by no means poorly disposed to bribery, and many of the oral traditions include subtle reminders about providing shamans and priests with treasure and magic found on raids. Such stories are told to reinforce the dogma of Gruumsh and identify the current enemies of the tribe, as well as to glorify famous ancestors, the chief, and the priests. Lastly, priests watch over the general welfare of the tribe, although this generally takes the form of identifying the weak and cowardly and disposing of them.
Important Ceremonies/Holy Days: The holiest of days in any tribe commemorates their greatest military victory, especially if it involved the defeat of elves, dwarves, or other orc tribes. These events usually include mock-combat (which still frequently ends in death or serious injury), stories of great events and myth, and wild feasts. They usually draw a connection to the combat between Gruumsh and Corellon Larethian if the battle was a victory over the elves, or the combat between the orcish gods and the dwarven gods, if the battle was against dwarves. Priests of One-Eye also hold ceremonies during the nights of the new moon, although these are usually restricted to the priests themselves. All holy rites require the sacrifice of a direct enemy of the tribe; this is usually not difficult as almost every nearby intelligent race is considered as such. Elves and dwarves are by far the favored sacrifice, followed by orcs from other tribes, then all others. Priests usually paint their faces with the blood of the sacrifice, as well as any non-priest participants in whatever ceremony is being performed (for example, a warrior about to be elevated to chieftain, a young warrior who has made his first kill and is to be initiated into the chief’s warband as a full adult, etc.).
Major Centers of Worship: Because of the tribal nature of orcs, there are not many centers of worship open to all orcs, especially on groundling worlds. However, wildspace orcs are somewhat more cooperative than their groundling cousins, and as such temples to Gruumsh built in areas of heavy orc activity usually ban unauthorized combat. They often have arenas to allow the controlled exercise of orc aggression, as well as to settle disputes. There are persistent rumors that a major temple to Gruumsh has been built upon the defiled remains of a temple to Corellon Larethian that was taken during the first Unhuman War, but the name and exact location have not yet been identified.
Affiliated Orders: The Swords of Gruumsh is the only known military group associated with One-Eye’s church. They are composed entirely of crusaders, fighter/priests, and specialty priests, and found mainly in wildspace armadas. However, small groups using the same name are known to exist on worlds with no known connections to wildspace orcs, so it is believed that this organization was created through direct intervention by Gruumsh on all worlds where he is worshipped. In the orcish wildspace fleets, they function mostly as marines and shock troops, while on groundling worlds, they operate in groups of no more than six individuals (although there is no limit to the number of groups operating on any given world). In all cases, they specialize in combatting elves and dwarves (+1 to attack, on top of any other bonuses they may have), and seek them out above all other enemies. When operating independently, they search out small enclaves of elves, dwarves, and their allies, and attempt to completely wipe them out.
Priestly Vestments: The ceremonial garb of Gruumsh’s priests varies from tribe to tribe, but always includes a ceremonial iron spear, which is usually used to slay sacrifices. Blacks and dark reds are predominant whatever type of garments they wear as well, and the priests always wear some form of ceremonial armor, painted black, and some priests also don a red-painted open-faced helmet. Their holy symbol is made of black iron whenever possible, although if ironworking skills are lacking in the tribe, carved stone or wood is a suitable replacement. The symbol usually is hung from the neck on a thong or chain, and the priest always includes trophies from past sacrifices and defeated enemies (teeth, ears, etc.) on it as well.
Adventuring Garb: When adventuring, travelling, or going to war, priests of Gruumsh always utilize the best armor they can find, and will paint it black, if possible. They wear their holy symbol as above, and utilize either a spear or the best weapon they are proficient in. All their other clothing and equipment is indistinguishable from any other orc’s gear.
Specialty Priests (Bloodspears)
Requirements: Strength 15, Constitution 12, Wisdom 9
Prime Req.: Strength, Wisdom
Major Spheres: All, combat, elemental earth, law, summoning, sun (reversed forms only), war
Minor Spheres: Divination, elemental fire, guardian, healing, necromantic, protection, wards
Magical Items: Same as fighters and clerics
Req. Profs: Spear, survival (pick type)
Bonus Profs: Blind-fighting
- Bloodspears must be male and have orcish blood (with the exception of the cyclops and cyclopskin). Most bloodspears are orcs or orogs, but half-orcs, scro, ogrillons, cyclops, and cyclopskin may all become bloodspears.
- Bloodspears are not allowed to multiclass.
- Bloodspears may select nonweapon proficiencies from the warrior group without penalty.
- All bloodspears have a +1 to hit against elves.
- All bloodspears gain a +2 to saving throws against spells cast by elven spellcasters from the sphere of charm or the school of enchantment/charm.
- At 3rd level, bloodspears can cast aid (as the 2nd-level priest spell) upon themselves once per day.
- At 6th level, bloodspears can heal themselves for 1d8 points of damage for each sentient creature they have slain in the previous 24 hours.
- At 7th level, bloodspears can make three melee attacks every two rounds.
- At 7th level, bloodspears can cast strength of one (as the 3rd-level priest spell) once per day.
- At 8th level, bloodspears can cast spearbless (as the 4th-level priest spell) once per day.
- At 11th level, bloodspears can cast rage (as the 5th-level priest spell) once per day.
- At 13th level, bloodspears can make two melee attacks per round.
In addition to the spells listed below, priests of One-Eye may cast the 1st-level priest spell blessed watchfulness, detailed in Demihuman Deities in the entry for Gorm Gulthyn, the 1st-level priest spell strength of stone, detailed in Demihuman Deities in the entry for Moradin, and the 5th-level priest spell rage, detailed in Faiths and Avatars in the entry for Malar.
Treeburst (Pr 2; Alteration)
Sphere: Combat, Plant
Range: 10 yds./level
Components: V, S, M
Duration: 1 rd.
Casting Time: 5
Area of Effect: 6 cu. in./level
Saving Throw: Special
This spell allows the caster to cause a tree, bush, or pile of plant material to suddenly explode, propelling jagged splinters in all directions. If the desired spell focus is larger than the volume the priest can affect, only part of it flies about. The spell does not affect any intelligent plants, nor does it affect worked wood in any way.
Splinters endanger all beings within 20 feet of the spell focus. Beings within 10 feet must save vs. spell for half damage. Beings between 10 and 20 feet distant who save successfully are allowed a second saving throw. If both rolls are successful, they avoid all damage (due to luck, dodging, and cover). If only one roll is successful, they take half damage. The presence of cover adds a +2 to the saving throws, but armor does not reduce the damage or give any additional protection.
The splinters do a base damage of 1d2+1 points of damage per level of the caster (i.e., 1d2+1 points per six cubic inches of solid plant material). When calculating the volumes for any heavily leafy section of plant (bushes, tree tops, small trees, etc.), assume that a plant about two and a half feet wide, deep, and tall equates to six cubic inches of material. For example, a bush that is roughly two and a half feet in diameter and about seven and a half feet tall can be entirely affected and causes 3d2+3 damage. Depending on the size of the trunk and the volume of material lost, the top portion of a tree may come crashing down upon anything below; the DM should utilize the grenade-like missile chart to determine where exactly it lands. The trunk causes 1d6 points of damage per foot of diameter to any creatures it hits, so a three foot wide tree would cause 3d6 points of damage. Creatures may make a saving throw versus breath weapon, modified for dexterity, to dodge the trunk entirely.
The material components for this spell are the priest’s holy symbol and a few drops of blood from any intelligent sylvan creature (elves, pixies, brownies, etc.).
Spearbless (Pr 4; Enchantment)
Components: V, S, M
Duration: 2 rds./level
Casting Time: 5
Area of Effect: 1 spear
Saving Throw: None
By means of this spell, the caster can temporarily enchant a single spear or spear-like weapon to cause more damage when it strikes a target. When a creature is struck by a spearblessed weapon, damage is rolled normally and any magical bonuses are applied, then that number is doubled; Strength, specialization bonuses, and any other magical effects not inherent to the weapon are applied only after the doubling and not doubled themselves. For example, a caster with a 17 Strength enchants a spear +1 with spearbless and attacks a goblin. Upon hitting the goblin, the wielder rolls 1d6 for damage, and gets a 5. He adds the +1 magical bonus, and then doubles it for a total of 12, then adds 1 for his Strength bonus, resulting in a total of 13 points of damage. This spell does not grant any additional bonuses to hit, although it functions as a +2 weapon for determining what creatures it can hit. The spell lasts for two rounds per caster level.
Weapons enchanted with spearbless glow with a dull, blood-red aura. Only spears and spear-like melee weapons that are wholly type P can be affected. Thus, the caster can enchant weapons such as spears and awl pikes, but not fauchards, military forks, or javelins.
The material components for this spell are the priest’s holy symbol and the weapon to be enchanted. Neither item is consumed in the casting.