Gzemnid the Gas Giant

One of Great Mother’s many offspring, and the only one to achieve divinity itself, Gzemnid is a master of air elemental magic and deception. It desires to increase its store of knowledge and magic, but is intelligent enough to know that bargaining for or stealing such things can be just as effective as slaying for them.

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Gzemnid (PDF Version)
(The Gas Giant, the Orb of Obscuring)
Lesser Power of the Outlands, CE

Portfolio:                 Gases, fogs, obscurement
Aliases:                     None
Domain Name:           Outlands/Gzemnid’s Realm
Superior:                   None
Allies:                       Akadi, Great Mother, Ilsensine
Foes:                           Blibdoolpoolp, Callarduran Smoothands, Deep Duerra, Diinkarazan, Diirinka, the Elder Elemental God, Ghaunadaur, Ibrandul (dead), Ilxendren, Juiblex, Laduguer, Leira (dead), Maanzecorian, Piscaethces, Psilofyr, Shevarash, the drow pantheon
Symbol:                     Bronze rod held in tentacles
Wor. Align.:              LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE

The only one of the Great Mother’s offspring known to have achieved true divine stature, Gzemnid (giz-EM-nid) is a wily being of deception, distortion, and avoidance. Known as the Gas Giant for its mastery of elemental air magic, it ever seeks to expand its knowledge and hoard of arcane items by any means necessary.

Beholder mythology portrays Gzemnid as one of the first offspring of Kzamnal, the being whose death is said to have sparked the genocidal internecine wars between the different beholder breeds and their kin. However, it has long been known that Gzemnid is a direct offspring of the Great Mother itself, reinforcing the view many sages hold that the myth of Kzamnal is a beholder fabrication designed to justify their wars. Some even say the deception was created by Gzemnid itself to prevent greater harm to beholder communities, although this is unconfirmed.

What is known of the Gas Giant’s personal history makes it clear the beholder deity has always had a great thirst for knowledge and power. It is said that Gzemnid’s quest for knowledge led it to discover the means to become the first beholder mage, and then the first elder orb as it watched the rise of the beholder races. Some myths credit it as creating or breeding the fungal creatures known as gas spores during this period, although the veracity of these stories is unknown. Eventually gaining enough power to become a deity in its own right, it established for itself a following among mortal beholders, but never challenged the Great Mother’s dominance; whether due to fear, alliance, or familial respect, however, is not known. While the two entities apparently have little contact, the Hive Spawner apparently recognizes Gzemnid as an offspring, and they appear to share a strong alliance. It is possible that the Great Mother barely notices its progeny, however.

Compared to mortal beholders, the Gas Giant is surprisingly non-aggressive. It is more than happy to kill to gain what it wants, but also realizes this is not always necessary or desirable. It is willing to parley with dangerous but non-hostile visitors, trading some of its vast store of knowledge for items it desires, although it uses its cunning and magic to gain leverage in the negotiations. Visitors must be wary, however, for it would rather slay weak opponents and just take what it wishes. Information and knowledge is another story with Gzemnid, however. It recognizes that any creature that discovers some piece of knowledge that it has not may do so again, and it would rather negotiate or steal such information, leaving the discoverer alive to make further discoveries. In fact, of late it has begun to cultivate a following among humans and demihumans for this very purpose.

Gzemnid maintains few alliances, if they can be called that. Its realm on the Outlands, a vast and deep network of labyrinthine caverns filled with mist, distortions, and other magic to confuse intruders connects directly to Ilsensine’s Caverns of Thought in such a way that many sages believe they must be allied. Other sages contend that these connections exist so that the Gas Giant’s defenses can lead intruders into the more dangerous realm of the illithid god. Regardless, there is no known hostile action between the two powers, lending credence to the existence of an understanding between the two at least. On the other hand, Gzemnid does appear to have an alliance with the Queen of Air Elementals, Akadi, due to its interest magics of elemental air. Beyond these two, and its own parent, Gzemnid appears to have little interest in courting the favor of other powers. Further, it mostly opposes other deities on a perfunctory basis; they compete with its followers or are foes of the Great Mother, so it opposes them too. But for only those deities that have thwarted its quest for knowledge and power does it truly go out of its way to oppose. Two such deities are the now-deceased Leira, goddess of illusions and deception to the humans of Faerûn, and the Philosoflayer Maanzecorian, the illithid god of knowledge. Gzemnid desired to learn more of illusions, but was rebuffed by the Lady of Mists, who took umbrage at its own usage of gasses and vapors to deceive and used the Gas Giant’s on tactics of deception against it in an indirect rebuff of its quest. Gzemnid has never forgotten the insult, and celebrated when she died recently during the Time of Troubles on Toril. In Maanzecorian’s case, the illithid god arrogantly dismissed the Gas Giant’s skill and knowledge, insinuating Gzemnid was incapable of the philosophical discourse he desired in trade for any knowledge. Needless to say, the beholder god never forgets an insult.

Gzemnid is moderately active on the Prime Material Plane, and in the lives of its followers. It sends his avatars to search for or retrieve knowledge or items of magic that he desires, in particularly those that deal with misdirection, illusion, and obscuring. He is also said to occasionally visit mortal wizards to trade for information when they are especially adept at uncovering basic truths about the multiverse.

Gzemnid’s Avatar (16HD Beholder, Air Elementalist 18)
In appearance, Gzemnid looks much like a giant beholder with a sky-blue pebbly hide and the standard central eye and ten eyestalks. However, on the crown of its head, it has a circle of two-foot long tentacle-fronds that are more than dextrous enough to use items like wands or rods. It casts spells exclusively from the schools of elemental air and illusion/phantasm, and can cast spells from the sphere of elemental air as if they were wizard spells of the same level.

AC −4/−2/3; MV Fl 6 (MC A); HP 128; THAC0 5; #AT 1
Dmg 3d4 (bite)
MR 25%; SZ L (8-foot diameter)
Str 12, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 20, Wis 20, Cha 16
Spells 5/5/5/5/5/3/3/2/1
Saves PPDM 4; RSW 5; PP 5; BW 4; Sp 6

Special Att/Def: Gzemnid is not averse to combat, but favors using deception or magic to achieve victory over an outright assault, and it tries to disengage if it finds itself in melee. It is somewhat stronger than normal beholders in melee, being able to bite for 3d4 points of damage, but its mouth and stomach are too small to swallow creatures whole. In the tentacles topping its crown, Gzemnid carries a fully-charged rod of beguiling.

The Gas Giant has all the eyestalk powers of a normal beholder but at greater range, and saving throws made against them suffer a −4 penalty. Its central eye projects an anti-magic ray in a 90° arc before it, to a range of 200 yards. Gzemnid’s charm person, slow, and telekinesis eyes have a 160 yard range, with a 1000-pound weight limit on the latter eye. The charm monster eye has a range of 80 yards, while the cause serious wounds eye has a 50-yard range and the death ray eye has a range of 60 yards. Its sleep and flesh to stone eyes have a range of 50 yards, and the disintegrate and fear eyes have only a range of 30 yards. In addition, Gzemnid can cast distance distortion, guards and wards, hallucinatory terrain, phase door, screen, shadow door, vacancy, and veil once per day each.

Gzemnid is immune to nonmagical weapons and all elemental air spells and attacks. Like a normal beholder, 75% of hits strike its body, while 10% strike an eyestalk or the central eye each, and the remaining 5% strike a smaller eye. The Gas Giant’s central eye can suffer 40 points of damage before being destroyed and has an AC of 3. Damage suffered by the central eye counts towards Gzemnid’s hit point total. Each of its eyestalks and smaller eyes can suffer 15 points of damage before being disabled; this damage does not count towards its total hit points. The eyestalks themselves have an AC of −2 while the smaller eyes have an AC of 3. Destroyed eyestalks are regenerated at a rate of one per day.

Other Manifestations
While Gzemnid is active in monitoring the lives of its followers, it favors sending an avatar to converse with them over manifesting its power in their aid. On those occasions when it does, it typically chooses various mists, fogs, and wind effects to indirectly aid escapes or subterfuge. In general, however, it expects its followers to be powerful and skilled enough to take care of themselves, believing that those followers who end up in mortal danger did not learn its tenets of escape well enough.  In other circumstances, however, it has been known to create images or forms in mist and fog to give followers clues or guidance when it wishes to steer them towards a certain important goal.

The Gas Giant is served by cloud dragons, gas spores, ildriss grues, invisible stalkers, mist dragons, mist and steam mephits, steam quasielementals, and vampiric mist. It expresses its favor through the discovery of cloudy gemstones of all sorts, as well as ground fog and mist that forms unusual shapes or mystical symbols. It expresses its displeasure through a cold, clammy mist that springs up around an individual and makes it difficult to breathe, mist hiding pitfalls or other minor dangers, and hallucinations of dangerous forms in fog or mist that shock and frighten a viewer but turn out to be nothing.

The Church
Clergy:                      Specialty priests, wizards
Clergy’s Align.:      CN, LE, NE, CE
Turn Undead:           SP: No, W: No
Cmnd. Undead:         SP: No, W: No

All specialty priests of Gzemnid receive religion (beholder) as a bonus nonweapon proficiency. Beholder priests never need to use material or somatic components to cast their spells, and only need holy symbols to regain spells each day.

Priests and wizards of Gzemnid do not hold any special status within beholder society, unlike those of the Great Mother. They are generally treated as just another type of beholder mage or elder orb, gaining any privileges or suspicions that come with such status in their particular hive. They often have roles of lore keepers or sages within their hive as well. Outside of beholder hives, Gzemnid’s worship is poorly known, even among races that have regular contact with eye tyrants, with those few aware of his existence typically being sages of beholder or underdark lore, or beholder hunters. The Gas Giant’s recently cultivated following among humans and demihumans often have no connection to such sages, however, having joined the clergy by direct visitation by Gzemnid or being recruited by an existing member. As yet, such cults are small and secretive.

Only beholder clergy of Gzemnid builds temples, and there are no set plans that most follow. Beholder physiology and the location tends to dictate what their temples look like, although high locations that are accessible only to those with flight or levitation are favored. If there is no natural mist or fog phenomenon in the area, temples are often enchanted with permanent vaporous mists, obscuring the halls and entrance. Shades of blue with accents of white are popular, as are swirls, whorls, and billowing designs and motifs. The stone entrances, despite usually being hidden, are carved in such a way to evoke clouds and the sky. The central altar is usually formed of a sphere of sky-blue stone, magically levitated in the center of the worshiping hall. Shrines are far simpler, and common among beholders and humanoid priesthoods. They usually consist of a polished stone of sky blue, about the size of a crystal ball, which rests in a cradle of silver or white stone. Little other adornment is common.

Novices in the service of the Gas Giant are found only among the human and demihuman clergy, and are called Mists. Full priests of Gzemnid are called Beguiling Obscurants. There is no formal hierarchy among beholders and their kin, and as yet there is none among the humanoid clergy, although it is likely one will develop as the priesthood expands. As such, individual priests typically develop their own titles. Specialty priests are known as inenubilates. The vast majority of Gzemnid’s priesthood are standard beholders (80%), with gauths (5%), spectators (2%), observers (2%), and various other beholder kin (3%) making up the remainder of the beholder clergy; the rest of the priesthood consists of humans (3%), drow (2%), elves and half-elves (1%), gnomes (1%), and other spellcasting humanoids (1%). The gender breakdown of the human and demihuman clergy overwhelmingly favors males (90%), with females (10%) rarely drawn to his service, mostly among drow. Wizards, including beholder mages and humanoid air elementalists and illusionists, make up a large portion of the Gas Giant’s clergy (40%) with the rest consisting of specialty priests (60%), most of whom are elder orbs and beholder priests who’ve chosen the same route of spellcasting as beholder mages.

Dogma: Knowledge is power; acquiring the former leads to the latter. Acquire knowledge by any means, but remember that those who discover one secret or new idea may do so again; gaining the knowledge through subterfuge or deception allows them to be a further supply of secrets. Magic is knowledge actualized, and elemental magic focuses on the raw components of creation; such magic has great power. Confronting others directly is not wise; escape from those who wish you harm and take a subtle revenge later.

Day-to-Day Activities: Most of Gzemnid’s clergy focus on increasing their store of knowledge, especially on topics of magic, the elements, or esoteric secrets of the multiverse, although many have more mundane interests as well. Study and research fill their time, and if a member of a community, they often fill roles of sages.

Important Ceremonies/Holy Days: The priesthood of the Gas Giant observes no formal holy days and has no regular ceremonies. They hold that pursuing knowledge is an act of worship in itself.

Major Centers of Worship: Most beholder hives of significant size have small temples or shrines dedicated to the Gas Giant, but large and ornate temples are rarely constructed in its honor. Additionally, the xenophobic nature of beholders rules out pilgrimages to great temples or holy sites; two beholder followers of Gzemnid arriving at the same place would invariably battle to the death. While the humanoid priesthood of Gzemnid might one day build such temples, they are too small, scattered, and secretive at this time to do so.

Affiliated Orders: Gzemnid’s priesthood sponsors no martial or monastic orders, and is not likely to ever do so. There has been some thought among his recent human and demihuman recruits to secretly sponsor wizards or schools of magic, or even to create a secret college of magic to further the Gas Giant’s goals. Whether they will do so in the future remains to be seen.

Priestly Vestments: Beholder priests wear no garments or adornments to signify their status; other beholders have little trouble distinguishing their position, however. Gzemnid’s human and demihuman clergy wear hooded robes of sky blue edged with thick bands of white fabric. The holy symbol used by the clergy is a rod wrapped in short tentacles made of bronze; beholder priests sometimes embed this symbol in their forehead or keep it in their mouth in order to present it with their tongue when necessary.

Adventuring Garb: Beholders use the full range of items and equipment available to their hive, while the Gas Giant’s humanoid clergy favor the equipment of wizards, with robes, daggers, and staves common. Such clergy rarely adventures, preferring to perform research in their towers and libraries.

Specialty Priests (Inenubilates)
Requirements:          Intelligence 15, Wisdom 12
Prime Req.:                Intelligence, Wisdom
Alignment:                LE, NE, CE
Weapons:                   Dagger, dart, knife, sling, staff
Armor:                       None
Major Spheres:         All, astral, charm, divination, elemental (air), numbers, summoning, thought, wards
Minor Spheres:         Elemental (earth, fire, water), healing, protection
Magical Items:         As clerics and wizards
Req. Profs:                Ancient history
Bonus Profs:             Spellcraft

  • Among beholders and their kin, any breed capable of becoming a beholder mage or an elder orb may become an inenubilate, as can any humanoid race capable of becoming a priest. As yet, only humans and demihumans, especially drow, have been called to Gzemnid’s service.
  • Inenubilates may multiclass as inenubilate/air elementalists if cleric/mage multiclass combinations are allowed by race.
  • Inenubilates can select nonweapon proficiencies from the priest and wizard groups with no crossover penalty.
  • Inenubilates can cast wizard spells from the elemental air school as described in the Limited Wizard Spellcasting section of “Appendix 1: Demihuman Priests” in Demihuman Deities.
  • Inenubilates can cast wall of fog (as the 1st-level wizard spell) once per day
  • At 3rd level, inenubilates can cast obscurement (as the 2nd-level priest spell) once per day.
  • At 5th level, inenubilates can cast stinking cloud (as the 2nd-level wizard spell) or dispel fog (as the 3rd-level wizard spell) once per day.
  • At 7th level, inenubilates can cast beguiling fog (as the 4th-level priest spell) or hallucinatory terrain (as the 4th-level wizard spell) once per day.
  • At 9th level, inenubilates can cast cloudkill or mind fog (as the 5th-level wizard spells) once per day.
  • At 12th level, inenubilates can cast guards and wards or mislead (as the 6th-level wizard spells) once per day.

Gzemnidan Spells
2nd Level
Summon Gas Spores (Pr 2; Conjuration/Summoning)
Sphere:                    Summoning
Range:                     15 yds.
Components:           V (V, S, M)
Duration:                 2 rds./level
Casting Time:          5
Area of Effect:         Special
Saving Throw:        None

With this spell, the caster can summon and command a number of gas spores. For example, the gas spores can be commanded to float menacingly towards targets or act as a screen for the caster. They are normal gas spores in every way; they explode if they suffer 1 point of damage, infect creatures they contact with rhizomes, etc. However, beholder priests can use this spell to great effect, for the summoned gas spores will always resemble the caster if they are a beholder. As such, these summoned gas spores act as a mirror image spell for the purposes of determining what is hit if they are in close proximity to the beholder priest. In addition, the caster can order the gas spores to scatter down different corridors for the duration of the spell while they themselves take another route, easily confusing any opponents they are facing.

If the caster of this spell is a beholder or beholder-kin, they are completely unaffected by the touch or explosion of a gas spore; all others save reptilians are affected normally. The spell summons 1d3 gas spores, plus one per five levels of the caster (so two at 5th, three at 10th, etc.). Any creature within 20 feet of a gas spore has a 75% chance to be unable to distinguish them from the casting beholder priest; beyond that range distinguishing the two is impossible.

The material components needed for this spell are the priest’s holy symbol and a small vial of gas spore rhizomes; beholder priests need only verbal components to cast this spell.

3rd Level
Befuddling Breath (Pr 3; Invocation/Evocation, Enchantment/Charm)
Sphere:                    Charm, Elemental Air
Range:                     0
Components:           V (V, S, M)
Duration:                 Special
Casting Time:          6
Area of Effect:         20-ft. cube
Saving Throw:        Special

With this spell, the caster breathes out a cloud of vapor in a cube 20 feet to a side, which persists until the end of the round before dissipating. All those caught within the vapor, or entering it before dissipation, must make a saving throw versus spell or become befuddled for 2d6 rounds. During this time, those affected have their decision-making skills confused and muddled, making it difficult to come to a correct decision. This is most pronounced in any sort of interrogation or negotiation; a creature who has failed a saving throw will be unable to follow the questions or terms presented to them, and must make a saving throw versus spell before responding to determine if they have been able to gather their thoughts well enough to competently respond; if the saving throw is failed, they generally agree or answer in the affirmative to anything presented to them. Since a creature is unable to follow the details of a conversation if their saving throw is failed, it never registers as a lie to magical detection. Passing the saving throw allows them to respond normally until another question or set of terms is presented.

In a combat situation, victims of this spell must make a saving throw each round in order to act normally, indicating they gathered their thoughts well enough to follow the battle for that period of time. If the saving throw is failed, the affected creature stands confused for the round, unable to move or do anything besides defend themselves.

Psionicists, wizards specializing in the schools of mentalism and enchantment/charm, and priests of deities of philosophy or thought all save against these effects with a +2 bonus.

The material component for this spell is a chemical mixture of rare ingredients that must be ingested at the time of casting. The ingredients cost 60 gp and take a week to brew.

4th Level
Beguiling Fog (Pr 4; Alteration, Enchantment/Charm)
Sphere:                    Charm, Elemental Air
Range:                     30 yds.
Components:           V (V, S, M)
Duration:                 2 rds./level
Casting Time:          7
Area of Effect:         20-ft. cube
Saving Throw:        Special

This spell summons a dense fog, as a fog cloud spell, bank that dulls the senses and slows the mental faculties of those within it. Any creature entering the fog bank is affected unless a saving throw versus spell is made with a −1 penalty; they are then affected for the full duration even if they leave the area of effect or the fog is blown away by a strong wind. While under the effects of this spell, creatures suffer a +1 penalty to their initiative and a −1 penalty to all saving throws versus mind-affecting spells and psionics. Furthermore, each creature affected is susceptible to one suggestion (as the spell) by the caster for the duration, with a saving throw allowed with a −4 penalty. No effect of the suggestion lasts beyond the spell’s expiration; otherwise it conforms to the spell in every other way. The suggestions may be made individually or collectively, so long as they are all made before the beguiling fog is dispersed or the spell fades.

The beguiling fog can be dispersed in one round by strong winds, such as a gust of wind spell or a djinni’s whirlwind. Suggestions and other effects last the full duration, however.

The material component for this spell is a piece of obliviax (memory moss) that has been steeped in simmering water for an hour.


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