War of the Dead
Iuz (pronounced YOOZ or EE-uz1) is the chaotic evil demigod of Deceit, Evil, Oppression, Pain, and Wickedness. Iuz is variously called “The Old One” and “Old Wicked,” among other titles. Unlike most Greyhawk deities, Iuz makes his home on Oerth, where he rules a broad swath of the Flanaess known as the Empire of Iuz. His symbol is a grinning human skull, or a human skull with blood-red highlights.Iuz is the cambion child of the demon prince Graz’zt and Iggwilv, the so-called “Witch Queen of Perrenland.” He is an ally, and sometimes lover of, Zuggtmoy, Demon Queen of Fungi, who keeps his soul amulet safe in her layer of the Abyss. His half-sister Drelnza, a vampire daughter of Iggwilv, was slain by adventurers. Iuz is the maternal grandson (by adoption) of Baba Yaga, and through Graz’zt, the half-brother of Athux, Thraxxia, and Arzial. He is also related, through his father, to the demon lords Pale Night, Lupercio, Rhyxali, Vucarik of Chains, and Zivorgian. Iuz is allied with Graz’zt and Pazuzu, who he must deal with to summon demonic minions in any great numbers. He deals carefully with Lolth, but has no formal alliance with her. Thus far, they seek to dominate very different territories. Iuz has many enemies, notably Vecna, Saint Cuthbert, Zagyg, and the Horned Society. He hates Keoghtom, Kelanen, Heward, and Murlynd for aiding in his imprisonment, and hates Bigby, Neb Retnar, Quij, Robilar, Riggby, Tenser for trying to kill him.
Clerics of Iuz are commonly known as Liars or Oppressors among the faithful. These titles are accepted as the honor it is intended to be; the twisted culture that Iuz cultivates considers these words to be flattering. Often they are multi-classed wizards or fighters.
Iuz’s clergy believe in the survival of the fittest, and so battle one another as often as they battle the enemies of their lord. They travel the Flanaess in disguise, seeking powerful magic and captured creatures of great good (or simply their skulls) as trophies to prove their worthiness. They adopt inconspicuous garb outside the Empire of Iuz, but among the faithful they dress in rusty black or white streaked with rust-red stains of blood. Some adorn their robes with bones. Most learn to use greatswords, though whips and flails are greatly approved of for their ability to inflict pain.
Rise to power
Iuz was conceived around 460 CY, shortly after his mother Iggwilv imprisoned the demon lord Graz’zt. He first came to prominence in 479 CY, when the handsome youth gained control of a petty fief in the Howling Hills. Ostensibly beholden to Furyondy, in practice it was independent. It had been left to Iuz upon the death of his “father,” a human ruler who had supposedly claimed that Iuz was his son. Almost immediately, Iuz transformed his estate into an armed camp, and began cultivating alliances with the other local lords. Using cunning and guile, Iuz manipulated his “allies” against one another and against stronger opponents, weakening all of the cambion’s rivals. Slowly Iuz’s forces increased in size as humans and orcs gathered under the banner of the Child of the Evil One. The humans cared little for the orcs, but they liked how their opponents feared the orcish shock troops. Goblins, similarly, began rallying to his cause as well. By 480 CY, Iuz had earned the title Lord of Pain as his conquest began against his weakened neighbors. The atrocities he committed during these early campaigns made it clear to all who witnessed those battles that whoever his parents were, Iuz certainly had no humanity. Before long, Iuz controlled three neighboring fiefs in addition to his original one. King Avras III of Furyondy called his southern nobles for aid against the warlike upstart, but the nation fell into internal squabbling and in the end did nothing to restrain the cambion’s ambitions.
Iuz’s true mother Iggwilv was conquering Perrenland at the same time, but she found time to aid her son with her magic. Iuz, as a marquis cambion, had magic of his own that he used to great effect in intimidating his followers and enemies. Soon Iuz’s capital of Dorakaa had become a charnel house, with a road made from the skulls of the young leader’s enemies leading up to it. Watchtowers built along the road by chained slaves were used to burn the living flesh of prisoners en masse. By 500 CY, Iuz had conquered the westernmost Bandit Kingdoms and named the city of Molag his “summer capital.” As far away as the Principality of Ulek, contingency plans were drawn up in case Iuz should invade.
In 491, Iuz was present at his mother’s court when his father Graz’zt made his bid for freedom. Iggwilv had, at Graz’zt’s suggestion, decided to use her pet fiend Tsojcanth to seal an ever-growing hole leading to the Abyss. Tsojcanth rebelled unexpectedly, and as Iggwilv was recovering from his attack, Graz’zt attacked as well. Caught between the uncontrolled magic of both his parents, Iuz was inadvertently split into his human and fiendish halves. From then on, Iuz’s once-handsome visage resembled a withered old manikin or a bloated, bestial-faced demon. He took the former form when he wished to put his supplicants at ease, and the latter when he wished to intimidate his foes.
Although Graz’zt was ultimately banished, Iggwilv’s powers were exhausted by the melee, and she retreated to other worlds to recover. Without his mother’s magic, the progress of Iuz’s empire slowed, though it did not stop.
Iuz began the process of transforming himself into a deity, gathering powerful wizards or extra-planar beings beneath the Soul Husks Caverns in the Howling Hills. With horrific magics, he drained them of their power, incorporating them into his own being. He also cultivated an alliance with Zuggtmoy, the demon queen of fungi, laying the foundations of what would become the Temple of Elemental Evil.
In 505 CY, Iuz was captured by the wizard Zagig Yragerne and his allies. Along with eight other demigods, he was incarcerated in Zagig’s Godtrap beneath Castle Greyhawk until released by Lord Robilar in 570 CY. In the cambion’s absence, several “false Iuzs”—illusionists, demons, and demodands with delusions of grandeur—began dividing the empire between them. Further south, the landholders of Iuz’s former lands dedicated themselves to the worship of Nerull, Anthraxus, and the Lords of the Nine.
In the meantime, the orcs of the northlands had named him the Old One, and their worship helped increase the demigod’s power. Loyal and opportunistic humans joined the cult, and soon some were rewarded with clerical powers in spite of their patron’s imprisonment. Uneasy with the growth of Iuz’s faith, the southerners joined together to form the Horned Society, making Molag their capital.
In the next half-century, the cultists of the imprisoned Iuz had eliminated their rivals in Dorakaa and established a tenuous peace with the Horned Society to the south. In 570, Robilar, his orcish henchman Quij, and the priest Riggby ventured to the Godtrap at Mordenkainen’s urging. Using magics Mordenkainen had given them, they freed Iuz with the intent of slaying him. Tenser, Bigby, and Neb Retnar showed up shortly thereafter, and a six-against-one melee ensued. Bigby might have crushed the weakened Iuz to death using his famed Hand spells, but Iuz’s magic lashed back at him, leaving Riggby catatonic for days and turning Neb Retnar to evil.
Iuz returned to Dorakaa, slaying impostors, dissidents, and those whose bodies exploded particularly entertainingly, their skulls adding to Iuz’s grisly road. Iuz established himself as a living god, and the Oerth trembled.
Though aware of the return of his nation’s old foe, King Belvor IV of Furyondy ignored it at first, concentrating on uniting the quarreling factions within his own country. Iuz, for his part, spent some time ensuring he had absolute mastery of his kingdom before making his next move.