The Great Dark One
|Domain||None. See below.|
|Ethos||Glory to Draxorith, Master of Demons. All shall fall before his might. The world will fall to the demons in his wake.|
|Typical Worshipers||The common citizenry of Duthelm (primarily soldiers, priests and knights)..|
|Head of the Church||Lord Caramus, High Priest|
|Demographics||33% Ogre, 23% Orc, 18% Human, 8% Saurian, 5% Goblin, 4% Borrellian, 3% Dwarven, 3% Sayune, 3% Other|
|Geographic Regions||Primarily Duthelm and, to a lesser extent, much of northern Ithria.|
|Allied Faiths||On neutral terms with the other Dark Lords.|
|Opposed Faiths||All of the Elder Gods, Celestials and Kindred Gods.|
|Holy Symbol||A silhuoutte of a three taloned outstretched claw constrained within a circle.|
Draxorith is called the “Great Dark One”. He is also sometimes referred to as the "Lost God", although never within earshot of an ogre who worships him. Unlike many other gods, Draxorith has no specific sphere of influence or domain of power. He is not a god of war or magic or fate. Draxorith simply is. He is said to be a master of demons and the undisputed overlord of a dark corner of the netherverse. He is a feared and powerful being known for blessing his worshipers with magical powers and immense riches. While seen as a daemonic despot by outsiders, his priests proclaim their lord a fearless master of fate and destiny who has no equal and lives unfettered by the petty laws or morals of mortal man. The common citizens of Duthelm speak of Draxorith as a benefactor who protects and provides for the entire kingdom.
Draxorith is truly a fearful sight. He appears as a giant humanoid with bestial, vaguely reptilian, features. He has long black claws and six segmented tentacles sprouting from his back. He walks on a pair of cloven hooves and a pair of massive black horns crown his head.
Myths and Legends
Draxorith is a creature of malevolence and dark magic. Monstrous in appearance, yet possessing a terrible and dark intellect, he holds sway of empires scattered across other dimensions. In the shadowy twilight of the outer planes, there is a realm where he rules as king… a realm of black stone and glowing crystal shards known as “Uzikath”. Within this realm, Draxorith lives in a great fortress called Draj’gog. The citadel of Draj’gog sits on a rocky island in the middle of a lake of fire in the belly of a great mountain. Here Draxorith is served by legions of lesser demons.
Overview of the Church
Although this is one of the smaller religions of the world, Draxorith's power resonates throughout the kingdom of Duthelm. Draxorith inspires fanatical devotion in his priests and knights and grudging respect in even the lowliest peasant. He has manifested himself in the flesh before the people of Duthelm and led them to battle and glory. Although this happened more than a century ago, the stories have been passed down through the generations… stories from those who saw with their own eyes. He is seen now as the protector and provider for all in the kingdom and is a source of pride for many in Duthelm.
In Duthelm, he is worshiped as the chief god, above all other gods. His priests for an important part of social tapestry of Duthelm. The church is so intertwined with the government of Duthelm that it’s difficult to separate them. Some scholars believe that Duthelm should more properly be classified as a theocracy. In a similar manner, the Black Sorcerers (an elite group of wizards at the Citadel), work so closely with the Church of Draxorith, that they are often considered a branch of the Church.
Duthelm is a monarchy and ruled by Queen Sillar, the daughter of Lord Caramus, the high priest of the church of Duthelm. Although Caramus is reclusive and allows his daughter to rule openly, it is widely speculated that he is the true power behind the throne.
The worship of Draxorith is found primarily in Duthelm, but worshipers of Draxorith can be found scattered throughout eastern and northern Ithria. Agents of the church of Draxorith have been reported as far west as Ithell and as far south as the Pirate Isles. It is even said that orcs, goblins and other foul creatures in the northern mountains of Ithria hold dark rituals to honor the Great Dark One.
History and Origins
Draxorith is unique among the gods in several ways. The myths and legends surrounding Draxorith actually agree with the historical record. The priests of Draxorith know exactly who he is and where he came from. This faith has no delusions. To date, he is the only deity to have manifested himself in the mortal world. History books and countless witnesses can attest to that. Finally, this is one of the youngest and most recently developed religions.
In 1840 CY, a half ogre wizard named Kulmor who lived in the ogre-held Citadel successfully made contact with the realm of Uzikath. Through dreams and visions and powerful magic, he communed several times with the Great Dark One over several years. Draxorith rewarded Kulmor with great power. With his new power, he drew other ogres to him. He shared with them all that he had learned from his dealings with the realm of Uzikath. He shared with them tales of the Great Dark One.
Beginning in 1846 CY, Kulmor and his followers began to form a small cult. Small at first, they had reached fifty members by 1850 CY. The then-ruling warlord of the Citadel, the great Duthelm, disliked wizards and others of that ilk. He did not like seeing a cult of dark magic gathering power within his citadel. However, later that year, before he had dealt with the cult, Duthelm was slain in battle.
Over the next few centuries, control of the Citadel changed several times as new War Lords rose to power. During this time, the cult of Draxorith slowly grew. Kulmor died in 1903 CY, but a series of strong priests followed him and helped the cult grow and prosper. They established a permanent lair within the Citadel where they communed with Draxorith, conducted magical research and held meetings. As their numbers grew, so did the number of chambers they controlled. By 2300 CY, the church boasted more than three thousand members.
Throughout these years, the abilities and spells of the worshipers increased. Their power and spells gained them much favor in the citadel and they brokered this into a position of power. They made connections with several high ranking commanders and politicians withint he citadel.
By 2510 CY, they were a political power unto themselves. The faithful of Draxorith now numbered more than five thousand.
In 2530 CY, the current high priest of the church of Draxorith, an evil and cunning ogre named Tralibor, used a combination of dark magic, poison and hired killers to assassinate King Kartoth (the then ruling ogre king) and assume control of the Citadel itself. Having already seeded the court with rumor, falsehood and charm, he swayed many to his side and fended off several challenges.
By this time, the Church of Draxorith was well established and a major player within the internal politics of Duthelm. The church even had its own military branch called the “Knights of the Abyss” which gave the church further leverage.
In 2545 CY, King Tralibor began to suspect a plot was brewing among various ogre nobles to overthrew him. Fearing his position was weak, he decided to surround himself by powerful allies. One high ranking priest in the Church that had shown considerable talent, power and loyalty was a young ogre named Caramus. Tralibor appointed Lord Caramus as the new High Priest of the Church of Draxorith. The King also gave Caramus the title and role of Chief Advisor to the King. Little did King Tralibor know that Caramus had much loftier ambitions ahead. Caramus was, in fact, a cambion – a half ogre and half demon.
For many years, Caramus worked to establish allies throughout the Citadel. He would commune with Draxorith directly himself. During these years, he worked to forge a strong relationship between the Black Sorcerers and the Church of Draxorith. He challenged them with the task of opening a rift, a dimensional gateway, to the realm of Uzikath… a gateway that would allow Draxorith into the mortal realm. Caramus and the Black Sorcerers worked on this project in secret, fearing that lesser minds might fear such a manifestation of magical power.
After sixteen years of research and patient work, it finally paid off. In 2562 CY, the Black Sorcerers declared that they could open a stable and permanent gateway to Uzikath and bring the great demon lord Draxorith into Khoras. However, in order to ensure its success, a portion of Draxorith’s essence would have to be transformed to a receptable… a soul gem.
When Caramus brought news of their work to King Tralibor, the King was furious with Caramus. King Tralibor feared that Draxorith would taken over the realm. He ordered both the Church and the Black Sorcerers to abandon their work and ordered Caramus thrown into the dungeons. However, he had underestimated Caramus’ magical power and political allies. Caramus drew upon dark magic and slew Tralibor and his guards where they stood. Lord Caramus immediately took over the Citadel and all of Duthelm.
The Black Sorcerers opened the gate to Uzikath and a team, consisting of many wizards, priests and warriors, entered the dark realm. Their mission was to find and secure a large and pure piece of vertrillium crystal which occurred naturally in the realm of Uzikath.
After several months, the group returned from Uzikath bearing a huge crystalline rock of emerald hue. Only seven of the original party had survived their adventures in the outer realms. This magnificent piece of crystal was cut and polished and prepared for enchantment. The resulting gemstone was the size of a fist, faceted and flawless. The Black Sorcerers then began the laborious task of enchanting the crystal with the most powerful spells at their disposal. It needed to be prepared to function as a soul gem for the Great Dark One. This crystal was named the Avisarr (a very old ogrish word which roughly translates as "heart of darkness". The preparations were complex and the spells used were vastly powerful. It took more than a year for the Black Sorcerers to complete their work.
After much preparation, the Black Sorcerers reopened the gate in 2565 CY and, in an elaborate and complex ceremony, summoned forth the dread lord Draxorith into the mortal realm. To provide him with the needed anchor to extend his presence indefinitely, a portion of his life force was placed within the Avisarr.
The nature of this summoning and the containment of Draxorith's life force gave the demon lord several advantages. As long as his essence was housed safely in the gem, Draxorith could regenerate any wound and was immune to many forms of magic. Only the highest ranking officials of Duthelm were aware of the special nature of the summoning and the existence of the Avisarr. The Avisarr itself was kept under heavy guard by the Knights within the Citadel.
News of the demon lord's summoning spread during 2566 CY. It struck fear into the hearts of the people of Kitar and Rukemia. It inspired bloodlust in the primitive races. Orcs, goblins, trolls, skrell and worse began coming down from the mountains to serve Duthelm. Other lesser demons were brought through the dimensional gate controlled by the Black Sorcerers. As their armies massed, Duthelm prepared for war. Late in the year of 2566 CY, Duthelm felt ready and launched several attacks against Kitaran villages and the town of Craython Vale. Thus began the great “Demon War”.
The Demon War was fought from 2566 to 2570 CY, during which time there was a nine month siege of the city of Myranor. Duthelm fought against the combined forces of Kitar, Rukemia, mercenary companies from the War Vale, the Order of the Drake and the Conclave of Freedom (a group of six very powerful wizards). In the end, the Conclave managed to setup and spring an elaborate trap within their own stronghold during a climactic battle known as the Battle of the Banishing. Draxorith was banished and the forces of Duthelm routed.
One of the Black Sorcerers, Vistar, deduced the nature of the trap and speculated that Draxorith was not truly banished, but merely caught in an interdimensional conduit. The Avisarr had served as an anchor and prevented him from being fully banished. He was caught between dimensions, the banishing spell and the might of the Avisarr, balanced evenly in a precarious stalemate. Vistar believed that there was still a chance to save Draxorith, but it would require taking the Avisarr to the banishing chamber beneath the Conclave’s stronghold. Duthelm rapidly assembled a rescue force. Vistar, carrying the Avisarr in its reliquary, led the army back to the Conclave’s stronghold.
Their forces overrun, the Conclave wizards feared that the stalemate might somehow be undone. As a last resort, they used their magic to bring down the mountain in a massive eruption and avalanche, wiping out the entire valley and burying their stronghold. Soldiers of both sides fled before the avalanche, but many were caught in the stronghold, buried alive. Vistar and the Avisarr were lost, both presumed buried beneath the landslide.
With the demon lord Draxorith banished, the war quickly unraveled. The loss of the Avisarr and their master was a devastating blow to the Church of Draxorith. The loss of Draxorith left the priests weakened. For the last century and a half, the priests and the Knights of the Abyss have sought the Avisarr and a way to re-establish contact with Draxorith.
Duthelm has since had other skirmishes, battles and minor wars with Kitar, but none that quite rival the first Demon War.
Caramus still rules the Church of Draxorith. He has since put his daughter, Sillar, on the throne and she now rules as queen.
The single most significant goal for this church is to re-establish contact with Draxorith. His banishment at the hands of the Conclave did not return him to the realm of Uzikath. It has been surmised by some priests that the Great Dark One is, in fact, trapped between dimensions (and this is indeed the case). Draxorith is trapped in the Conduit, the gateway prepared by the Conclave, trapped between dimensions.
A related goal is the recovery of the Avisarr. This single gemstone is a relic of the church and valued more highly than any treasure or kingdom. Most within the Church agree that finding the Avisarr is the only way to free Draxorith. Because of this, they will stop at nothing to recover the Avisarr.
Finally, the church of Draxorith seeks expansion and conquest. Throughout much of the last few centuries, most of Duthelm's military campaigns have been territorial disputes with its neighbor, the Kingdom of Kitar. One of the goals of the church is to aid Duthelm in the conquest of Kitar as a first step toward the eventual goal of conquering the Rukemian Empire.
Temples, Churches and Holy Sites
The main temple of this religion is housed within the Citadel, Duthelm’s capital city. It is known as Gralithor, ogrish for “Temple of the Shattered Skull”. This colossal architectural wonder lies at the very heart of the Citadel. Specifically, it dominates much of the nineteenth and twentieth levels. It sits at the top of a great shaft which connects it to the Shrine of Lost Souls many levels below.
Lesser temples can be found in throughout the rest of Duthelm, the Coalition, the Pirate Isles and Asylum. In civilized lands, the worship of Draxorith is forbidden. Those who worship in those lands do so secretly.
Although originally an ogre god, the worship of Draxorith has spread to many lands and races. The followers of Draxorith are mostly ogre and human, but saurians, goblins, orcs and a miscellany of rogues and bandits also kneel at his temples. They seek to emulate the pure chaos and freedom that their god represents.
Those who pray to the Great Dark One do so for many reasons. The priests and knights of the church gain their magical might directly from Draxorith. Although, since his banishment more than a century ago, their powers have been somewhat curtailed. The common citizens of Duthelm look upon Draxorith as the patron lord of the realm, the font of all things that gives Duthelm its magic, power and glory. Draxorith is a source of great pride for many in Duthelm.
In other lands, there are wizards and warriors both who pray to Draxorith secretly. Some crave power and worship to gain mastery of dark magic and foul spells. Others pray for strength in battle.
Allied and Opposed Faiths
The church of Draxorith is generally opposed to all of the Elder Gods and Celestials, except for Vorkayne. Because of the mutual economic dependency between Carrikos and Duthelm and shared interest in magic, the church of Draxorith is on neutral terms with the church of Vorkane. Draxorith is generally on neutral terms with most of the other Dark Lords.
The church of Draxorith preaches a philosophy of personal ambition, conquest through strength, the right of the mighty to rule and the power of magic over the mundane. Mindless destruction is not the goal of this group. Rather, they seek to elevate those of power to loftier positions and to subjugate the weak to their proper place. The strong should rule, according to this faith, which is a very ogre like attitude. However, strength is measured in many ways. The weak willed souls of the world allow themselves to be confined by unnecessary rules and traditions imposed upon them by moralistic religions. The church of Draxorith teaches the faithful to free themselves from such limited thinking. Obey no rules but that which you set for yourself or those given to you by your superiors. But never hesitate to test yourself against them. Allow no other to keep you down, instead always strive for greatness. The strong deserve to rule. Strength also manifests itself in ability. Therefore, personal ambition and mastery of skills, crafts or magic is an important part of this religion. Each and every person is expected to better themselves through the mastery of something... be it a skill, a craft or ability. Most choose to become a skilled swordsmen, a cunning thief, a valued blacksmith or a talented stone mason, for example. While few have the necessary intellect and gift to master magic, the arcane art is seen as the most powerful force and those who master it garner great respect.
The holy book of this faith is called the Torkarana (a combination of several ogrish words, tor meaning “tome”, kar meaning “powerful” or “great”, -a- can be translated as “self”, “one” or “you” depending on context and ana meaning “gloom” or “darkness”. Most scholars translate it as “the book of the Great Dark One” but it can also be translated as “the tome of great darkness”). It contains the prayers, rituals, laws, histories, philosophies and spells of the faith. Every temple will have a copy of this book. A copy of the Torkarana is typically a large tome bound in leather and iron. The main copy held in the Temple of the Shattered Skull is said to be fashioned from pages of copper plate bound in dragon hide.
The holy symbol is a silhouette of Draxorith's outstretched three taloned reptilian claw enclosed in a circle. The circle represents the unity of the church and the outstretched claw with its three digits, represents the three branches of the Church. The first represents the priests who are the main body of the Church. The second talon represents the Knights of the Abyss, the military branch of the Church. The third represents the Black Sorcerers and Darklore, who are often seen as the arcane branch of the Church.
The faithful of the Church of Draxorith are expected to pay one quarter of all treasure and wealth they obtain through “selfish deeds” such as theft, deception, betrayal or murder. It is said that Draxorith is watching and so very few feel the need to try to cheat the Church.
The faithful of Draxorith meet once every 13 nights in a dark mass. At these gatherings, the priests lead the faithful in prayer, tell stories of the might and glory of Draxorith, cast spells and summoning servants and demons from the realm of Uzikath to aid the Church. Sometimes enemies of the Church are ritually slain and sacrificed to the Dark Lord.
There are two significant holy days in this faith:
The first holy day is the Day of Ascension, celebrated on Landthrive 25. It is the anniversary of the summoning of Draxorith. This is a day of feasting and celebration. Towns in Duthelm hold festivals. Revelers will dress in costumes and wear ornate masks that resemble demons or monsters. Mischievous behavior, pranks and petty thievery are common components of this celebration. It is good luck to forgive debts, release prisoners and fix broken things on this day.
The second holy day is called the Bereavement, observed on Icebreak 11. It is the anniversary of the Battle of the Banishing during which Draxorith was banished by the Conclave (although in Duthelm, it is taught that Draxorith sacrificed himself in battle and allowed himself to be banished to protect the Kingdom of Duthelm). This is a day of mourning and remembrance. All people are expected to fast this day, to wear dark colors and to abstain for all laughter, frivolity and celebration. Most businesses close this day.
While the holy day of Bereavement is widely known, the practices within the upper levels of the Citadel are not. During the Bereavement, the very highest ranking members of the Citadel will meet at the Temple of the Shattered Skull. Members from all three branches attend. A gateway is opened to the realm of Uzikath and Lord Caramus will lead the small group into that dark realm for a short time where they meet, trade and negotiate with powerful entities on the other side. Few can say they have made that journey. The group always returns before the end of the day.
The most holy artifact of the Church of Draxorith is a mythical gem steeped in legend. This brilliant jewel is known as the Avisarr. It is crafted from a translucent green crystalline stone known as vertrillium. It is said that this gem was torn from the heart of a mountain that lies deep in Draxorith's realm of Uzikath. In centuries past, it was brought to the world of Khoras and enchanted so that it would contain the life force of Draxorith and allow him to roam the world. It was this very act that set in motion the Demon War two centuries ago which raged between Duthelm and Kitar. The current whereabouts of the Avisarr are unknown and the recovery of this legendary object is one of the main goals of the church. The Avisarr is the single most prized object in all of the church’s history.
In this religion, the term "disciples" simply refers to "one of faith". All those who pray to Draxorith are considered disciples. Most of the citizenry of Duthelm falls under this category.
The acolytes are the lowest rank of the tiers of the church. Those disciples who choose to serve the church in a more meaningful way begin their journey by giving their worldy possessions to the church, relinquishing all titles and assuming the humble role of an acolyte. It is the acolytes who see to the day to day tasks of the church: cleaning the pews and altars, fetching supplies, repairing armor, scrubbing floors, working in the kitchens and a thousand other trivial duties. The acolytes labor ceaselessly in the hopes of one day donning the robes of a priest. The acolytes are no training whatsoever. They have no spell ability, little combat ability and no real authority. Acolytes were simple brown robes. After many months of service, they may be promoted to the rank of subjacent.
Those acolytes who serve well are promoted to subjacent. Subjacent are put in charge of small teams of acolytes and given responsibility to oversee specific tasks and goals. Subjacents are encouraged to discipline the acolytes as they see fit. Subjacents are armed with simple short swords and shields. They wear leather armor under grey robes. Subjacents are generally given better quarters, better food and more freedom than acolytes. A subjacent may serve months or years before being promoted to the rank of lesser priest.
The lesser priest rank is where the real training begins. Lesser priests are initiated in to the mysteries of the faith. They are granted minor magical ability and are instructed on how to prepare for rituals and so forth. Lesser priests fight with chain, shield and a shorter version of the blood reaver sword. Besides their clerical duties, they often will perform guards for higher ranking clergy and important places.
As priests rise in rank and power, their right hand begins to change and grow. Only the right hand is affected. This mutation of the hand is linked to the magic granted to them. The lesser priests have slightly elongated fingers and fingernails. Most of their spells are cast with their right hand. The affected hand is also slightly stronger. Priests of Draxorith do not use external holy symbols of any kind. This mutated hand is their holy symbol.
The bulk of the church are the priests. The priests tend to the day to day administration of the church, minister to the faithful, defend the Church with their spells, provide for the followers and generally serve as the backbone of the faith. Priests may occasionally be given guard duty for very important areas. Priests of Draxorith wear black robes and wield blood reavers, a special sort of broad hacking blade. The priests of the Church number in the hundreds. Only through exceptional service to the Church, unwavering loyalty and great battle prowess is a priest of Draxorith invited into the ranks of the Knights. Priests command great spell ability. Their spells involve healing, enchanting magic items, divination and lore. The Priests of Draxorith use the orichalcum mineral in their rituals and magic. They use it to increase the power of their pentagrams, their soul cages, their summoning spells and their death chants.
The mutation of the right hand in full priests continues to change as they gain power and experience and rise in rank. The right hand becomes stronger and larger. The fingers become elongated, the nails turn to the talons, the skin takes on a greenish hue and the overall hand becomes more clawlike. It cannot easily be hidden and most gloves will no longer fit. Gloves and gauntlets would need to be specially made for the deformed hand. All spells emanate from this hand.
Knight of the Abyss
The elite military branch of this church is known as the Knights of the Abyss. There are currently only eighty four of these highly trained, heavily armored warriors and each has magical ability granted them by Draxorith. The Knights of the Abyss fight with sword, shield and powerful spells. They are fanatically loyal to Draxorith and all are combat veterans who have proven themselves in countless battles. These are the men and women who ride out into the world on great black stallions on special missions for the Church. They also provide security at temples, lead the disciples in battles and aid the priests. Knights wear black lacquered heavy plate armor and wield enchanted blood reaver swords. The Knights of the Abyss tend to focus more on combat oriented magic. Their spells have been witnessed to blind opponents, hurl opponents across courtyards with a wave of their hand, summon shields that deflect spells, cause their swords to erupt in fire and sense hidden opponents.
The mutation of the right hand in a knight has completed. At this rank, the right hand is now a scaled, reptilian claw. It is immensely strong and abnormally long and large. It dominates the lower arm and can not be hidden. Indeed, the knights display their deformed limb with pride. It is a blessing from Draxorith and a symbol of their power.
Lord Commander of the Knights of the Abyss
The Knights of the Abyss are led by Sirreth the Unholy, an undead skeletal knight who serves Caramus as lieutenant. Sirreth wields a magical blood reaver sword (that drains life energy from those it wounds and bestows it upon its undead wielder as healing) and flies on a bat winged horse.
The High Priest of Draxorith
Ruling over the entire church is Lord Caramus who holds the rank of High Priest. He has ruled for the last 300 years and appears to be ageless. It is known that he commands terrifyingly powerful spells. The extent of his abilities can only be guessed at. Both of his hands are fully mutated to the reptilian claw.
This website was last updated July 31, 2022. Copyright 1990-2022 David M. Roomes.