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Zugzul

by Marco Dalmonte

And now the mysterious Zugzul, which dates back to DA-modules of Blackmoor !
I pictured him as a classic badass who doesn't belong to the Sphere of Entropy. Rather he's the negative version of Ixion, interested in personal power and the destructive aspect of fire and energy.

ZUGZUL
(Surt, Corona)
Patron of Power and War, Patron of Fire, Patron of Necromancy
Level, Alignment, Sphere: 32 (Hierarch), NE, Energy
Symbol: a burning pit
Portfolio: power, conquest, fire and fire creatures, necromancy, darkness, war, destruction
Worshipped in : Ylaruam, Skothar, Davania and wherever fire giants dwell
Appearance: an imposing giant clad with a heavy red robe, with bronze skin and flaming eyes, his head completely shaven and tattooed with strange runes, wearing a golden amulet and gold bracelets and with a flaming double axe on his belt. He usually travels on a chariot pulled by two fire salamanders.
History: LIKELY THEORY: Zugzul is one of the most ancient living immortals, and like Ixion and Thanatos he doesn't remember or simply doesn't want to speak of his origins. He was always obsessed by the power of fire and the negative energies, and he is in constant competition against Ixion to rule the sphere of Energy. However in all these centuries he was never able to overthrow the ruling hierarch of Energy, and this burns him even more than any magical flame.
During the course of the millennia he tried very hard to expand his influence over the mortals, with devastating results for Mystara. His first attempt at creating a cult among the giants of Mystara aimed at reducing the influence of the sphere of Matter over them. He descended on Mystara using the mortal ID of a giant named Surt and soon he became the leader of an entire clan using both brute force and making promises to claim the better and richer lands of the southern giants with the power of fire. Thanks to his superior knowledge and magic, Surt revealed to his followers the secret of metallurgy and crafted better weapons and armours for his warmongering clan. Surt's love for fire soon ignited all his followers, who started practicing mystical rituals to strengthen their bodies through fire. Finally he led his fiery army against the southern giants, challenging the rulership of the storm giants and beginning a long and disastrous civil war. After two centuries the civilisation of the giants fell in its darkest age and surviving the giants scattered to the four winds. Surt's descendants gradually became the fire giants, while other clans became the modern cloud giants (followers of Brom) and the frost giants (followers of Hel).
After this coup, Zugzul tried to cast his shadow over the human populations without coming directly in the Prime, and he got the favour of the Afridhi. In short time, he led the Afridhi to threaten the Thonian supremacy in Skothar, but Blackmoor's swift and unforseen ascension ruined his plans. The Afridhi were badly beaten by the new Blackmoor Empire and were pushed out of its borders. Zugzul's cult remained in power in the Afridhi civilisation until the Great Rain of Fire obliterated them as well as many other races.
Afterwards Zugzul focused his attention on the rising Nithian empire, where he was worshipped as Corona. There he started eroding Rathanos's and Pflarr's base of faithfuls, and later he allied secretly with Thanatos to corrupt the Nithian clerical hierarchy in exchange for power and knowledge over death and the dead. The Magian Fire Worshippers switched almost completely their worship from Rathanos to Corona and this contributed to bring the downfall of the Nithian empire. His cult was never completely forgotten by the descendants of the Nithians and he's still worshipped by the deranged Magians in Ylaruam.
Personality: Zugzul is hungry for power and not much inclined to follow the immortal's code of conduct. He always try to break the rules without getting framed, and since he's so cunning and clever, most of the times he succeeds (his greatest plot was conspiring with Thanatos and Ranivorus to bring Nithia's downfall without being blamed for it). He is also particularly obsessed by the rough power that lies in the elements, and he has based his philosophy on the worship of Fire and Shadow (his name in Afridhi means indeed Dark Fire or Chill Fire). He has also been fascinated by the dark side of life, that is undeath and necromancy, and his partnership with Thanatos only reinforced this aspect of his personality. He considers Rathanos more an embarrassing taunt organised by Ixion at his expenses than a real rival in fire magic, and he's always been an enemy of Protius (since the two represent the two opposed elements). Although he continues to operate to further Energy's goals, his methods have always alienated him Ixion's support, and the ruling hierarch considers Zugzul a dangerous rival that could move the universal balance on Entropy's side if he were to take his seat. Finally, he counts among his enemies the immortals Brom (patron of the cloud giants, Brom has not forgotten Surt's part in destroying the giant civilisation) and Thor (another deity who despises Zugzul's philosophy and his control over the evil fire giants).
Patron: unknown (probably nobody)
Allies: only occasionally a secret ally of Thanatos
Enemies: Ixion, Protius, Brom, Rathanos, Thor
Classic D&D Stats:
Followers' alignment: Neutral or Chaotic; clerics must be Chaotic
Favoured weapons: battle axe (allowed all bludgeoning weapons)
Clerics' skills & powers: +1 bonus to Constitution, resist fire power free (3 times a day), +2 bonus to necromancy and arcane spellcraft skills.
D&D3E Stats:
Domains: Energy, Evil, Fire, Death, War
Preferred weapon: battle axe
Sources: DA4, AC10, GAZ2, GAZ4, GAZ7