Erythnul (3.5e Deity)
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|Symbol:||A red blood drop, or a bestial mask representing Erythnul's changing visage|
|Home Plane:||Windswept Depths of Pandemonium|
|Portfolio:||Hate, Envy, Malice, Panic, Ugliness, Slaughter|
|Domains:||Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Trickery, War|
Erythnul resembles a 7-foot-tall (2.1 m), brutal-looking man. He is rubicund of complexion, hirsute, and muscular, with knotted muscles and a blocky frame. His dull-green eyes are filled with the madness of war. He typically wears red fur and red-dyed leather, and carries a stone-headed mace. A hole in the head of the mace creates a whistling noise as Erythnul swings it; the keening howl of the mace has been known to send those who hear it fleeing until they collapse from exhaustion.
Erythnul is called the Many, because in battle his features continually shift from human to bugbear to troll to ogre to gnoll and back to human again. His spilled blood transforms into similar creatures. Erythnul delights in panic and slaughter. He can spread fear through his eyes.
Erythnul's realm, the Citadel of Slaughter, is in the third layer of Pandemonium, Phlegethon. There, his domain appears to be the ruins of a great stone citadel. In the chill winds can be heard the sounds of a terrible battle. The maddened souls of Erythnul's faithful kill each other eternally. Erythnul himself joins in the melee, slaughtering an endless stream of his own worshippers. A giant sacrificial altar is said to exist at the center of it all.
The chaos of battle is the sacred charge of the worshippers of Erythnul. In all the myriad forms of terror and suffering that war creates, there is a strange kind of unity. This is part of the reason that Erythnul is called the Many. Battle is a test of merit and strength, and living and dying by the sword is the definition of the good life.
Many of Erythnul's worshippers believe that blood spilled in battle feeds their god, increasing his madness and bloodlust. Chaotic neutral worshippers believe that non-combatants and weak opponents are meaningless, and that killing them does nothing to satiate their god or prove their ability; killing those unworthy of a warrior's death even angers Erythnul, they believe. Chaotic evil worshippers, who are far more common, disagree, believing that all slaughter is a sacrament, and that the dying screams of innocents are music to Erythnul's ears, hymns in the church of the battlefield.
In civilized lands, Erythnul's followers (including evil fighters, barbarians and rogues) form small, criminal cults. In savage lands, evil barbarians, gnolls, bugbears, ogres, and trolls commonly worship him. Many factions of Erythnul's cult exist, fighting one another as often as they fight nonbelievers. In cities, they tend to be less overt, forming a nebulous organization known as the Temple of Carnage. Most of Erythnul's faithful are chaotic evil, though a few are chaotic neutral. Erythnul is the official god of Stonehold in the World of Greyhawk campaign setting.
In the least violent services to Erythnul, shrill reed instruments are played discordantly while gongs clash and drums pound. During major rites, a fire is built and victims are sacrificed. One famous rite is the "Bloody Howl," when soldiers captured from the previous battle are killed in order to bring Erythnul's favor just before the next one.
Prayers to Erythnul are customarily rhyming chants with gory subject matter.
Clergy and Temples
Erythnul's clerics wear rust-colored garments. On ceremonial occasions they wear white robes, the better to display the bloodstains on them. They wear stylized masks symbolizing Erythnul's many aspects. In civilized areas they may foment rebellion and unrest, while in the wild they may lead groups of bandits. Clerics of Erythnul get most of their training in large wilderness temple-fortresses. Senior clerics try to frighten would-be initiates into quitting; those who avoid flinching after many tests are accepted into the priesthood.
The ranks of Erythnul's priesthood are, from lowest to highest, Raider, Marauder, Reaver, and Incarnate.
Erythnul's temples tend to be hidden. Most towns and cities have small, secret cults dedicated to the Many within the thieves' quarter. In the wilderness, his worshippers build squat, ugly fortresses where sacrifice after sacrifice takes place. Any place where carnage and slaughter have occurred is considered holy. Erythnul's profane altars are built on platforms reachable by steep flights of stairs.