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Graz'zt is a demon lord in the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, and one of the most powerful fiends in the Abyss. Graz'zt was also named as one of the greatest villains in D&D history by the final issue of Dragon.
Graz'zt was originally created by Gary Gygax, and first appeared in Module S4, "The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth" and in the original AD&D Monster Manual II. After leaving TSR, Gygax featured Graz'zt in the Gord the Rogue series. The character has since been expanded upon by other designers.
Various incarnations have appeared over time; in Gygax's Gord the Rogue novels, Graz'zt is known as the Ebon Lord of the Abat-Dolor, a race of demons who all look more or less like him. He ruled over the abat-dolor with his queen and consort, Elazalag, until he was captured by the witch queen Iggwilv. After seducing her, the Ebon Lord founded a new mongrel empire, forsaking his kin in an effort to enslave any and all of the demon breeds.
Standing nine feet tall, Graz'zt appears as a lithe, muscular humanoid. His skin shines like polished obsidian, and his eyes glitter with malevolent green light. He has yellowed fangs, pointed ears, and six slender fingers decorating each hand. He is sometimes described as having six small black horns half-hidden amid his thick black hair. These fiendish traits are apparent, regardless of whatever form Graz'zt chooses to take. He is considered the comeliest demon in the Abyss, and dresses in the most expensive and elegant finery on the entire plane.
Wielding an acid-drenched greatsword in one hand and a profane tower shield in the other, the Dark Prince is a veritable killing machine when loosed upon the hordes of the Abyss. What's more, he has a vast reportoire of spell-like abilities at his disposal, making him a deadly magical opponent as well. Graz'zt's greatest weapons, however, are his mastery of seduction and guile. He entertains the notion that he is the most cunning and intelligent creature in the Abyss; indeed, there are few who could possibly contest such a claim.
Graz'zt is a skilled politician, and when possible he prefers to solve confrontations with diplomacy and deals. Graz'zt enjoys the game of using words and false promises to trick his foes into serving his needs, especially when he can convince them that they have gotten the upper hand. His preference for political solutions and talking his way out of confrontations is in no way born of a need to avoid combat, though, for Graz'zt is among the deadliest demons of the Abyss.
In combat, Graz'zt does not hesitate to use his spell-like abilities, favoring charm and domineering effects to turn enemies into allies, or unholy blights to weed out lawful and good foes. He utilizes a quickened dispel magic at the start of any combat, attempting to catch as many of his more powerful foes at once, but saves the other two quickened uses for targeted dispels against foes with numerous defensive spells. In the second round of combat, he favors the use of tyranny to order the strongest-looking of his foes to fight by his side while he himself moves into melee to strike the weakest of his foes with his sword. Thereafter, Graz'zt prefers to fight in melee, retreating via teleportation if brought below 200 hit points. Once he recovers, he returns to finish the fight.
It has been said that, like his triple realm, Graz'zt maintains thrice the number of plots and goals as any one other demon lord. While this may not exactly be the case (Malcanthet certainly has an impressive number of entangled concurrent plans), Graz'zt is certainly among the most scheming and plotting of his kin. Those who seek to particularly insult the Dark Prince have used his love of plots and politics to compare him to an archdevil, or have referred to his triple-realm of Azzagrat as "the Little Hells." Most of those who insult the Dark Prince publicly in such a manner do not survive long, since they are spirited away in equally public venues by shadowy demons, shrieking lamias, or worse.
Although Graz'zt participates in the Blood War, his true interests are closer to home — he is much more comfortable (and skilled) at manipulating, allying with, and betraying his fellow demon lords than anything else, and he has perfected these skills to a point where he is now the only demon lord in the Abyss not only to completely command more than one layer of the Abyss, but to retain command of this triple realm for centuries, despite the fact that he recently spent several years imprisoned on the Material Plane.
Graz'zt's allegiances with other demon lords generally last only as long as the Dark Prince needs them to last, but in a few cases his allegiances are long indeed. The strongest (and longest) of these ties is with Verin, an incredibly intelligent humanoid demon lord with pale skin, angular features, and no body hair of any kind. His flesh oozes a sort of spiritual slime that unnerves mortals, but otherwise a casual observer might not even recognize him for what he is. Certainly, Verin is the most mild-mannered and easygoing of demon lords, and in his role as Graz'zt's chief diplomat, his silver tongue is at the root of most of Graz'zt's often unlikely alliances. During Graz'zt's recent imprisonment on the Material Plane, Verin took his place as ruler of Azzagrat and successfully defended the triple realm from numerous assaults by other demons. That Verin graciously stepped down from the throne immediately upon Graz'zt's return speaks volumes of his decidedly un-demonic nature. Yet Verin is said to have another aspect to his existence, a mirror of his white-skinned incarnation known as Ztefano, an equally brilliant diplomat whose speciality lies not in forming alliances but in promoting schisms and fueling wars.
Other notable alliances include the long-standing ones between Graz'zt and his mysterious sister Rhyxali, Queen of Shadows, and a curious allegiance with the Demon Queen of Fungi, Zuggtmoy. The Queen's Causeway in Fogtown, the "uppermost" third of his capital city of Zelatar, is named in Zuggtmoy's honor, though none understand the true reasons for this, especially given Zuggtmoy's strong ties to one of Graz'zt's greatest enemies, Demogorgon. And of course, he maintains a cordial alliance with Pale Night, although he visits her realm infrequently.
Graz'zt has even been known to maintain alliances with those who have failed him — the most notable of these being the demon lord Ebulon, who once served Graz'zt as a general. When Ebulon was defeated by Demogorgon and then imprisoned in the Wells of Darkness, Graz'zt sent his armies into the Wells of Darkness in a daring rescue attempt but failed. Now and then, the Dark Prince sends champions into the Wells to attempt rescues, but the humiliation of his initial failure has kept him from making additional massive forays into the prison plane.
Yet despite his numerous alliances, it is for his wars that Graz'zt is best known in the Abyss. He has warred with his brothers Lupercio and Vucarik at times, as well as against countless other demon lords. Once served by the strange patron of the xvart race, Raxivort, Graz'zt now hunts the simpering demigod with increasing frustration. Graz'zt's long-running feud with Malcanthet, Queen of Succubi, is well documented, although the cause of this war is not (many believe Graz'zt attempted to woo the beautiful demoness only to be spurned, but those who postulate this theory within Graz'zt's earshot don't live long thereafter to ponder the repercussions). He has also long warred with Orcus, one of the few demon lords in the Abyss who can match his power. Yet the most notorious of Graz'zt's wars have been against Demogorgon. Often, these conflicts put him in uneasy alliances with Orcus — alliances that invariably erupt in their own confrontations and leave Demogorgon wracked with mirth and delight.
One need only look back over the past few decades for numerous examples of Graz'zt's plots. He lured Waukeen, goddess of wealth from Faerûn, into his city and imprisoned her for years in hopes of replacing her place in that world's pantheon with his own daughter Thraxxia. He deposed fellow demon lord Adimarchus from the Abyss and engineered his imprisonment in the asylum of Skullrot on Carceri. And most recently, he nearly weakened Lolth herself in an attempt to trick her into uniting the demon lords under his leadership. Rumors even hold that Graz'zt is preparing to absorb a Material Plane world into the Abyss, trapping it in the parched realm of the Nerebdian Vast (the desert like 48th layer of the Abyss, bordered on the far side with his sister Rhyxali's realm of Shaddonon, and with whom he has had much aid in preparing the Vast for this eventual capture) and turning it into a fourth kingdom.
And these are but examples of his more blatant schemes. Few living today know, for example, that he fathered his son Athux with none other than Eclavdra, then an up-and-coming priestess of Lolth who was growing increasingly dissatisfied with her role in that priesthood. It was Graz'zt who exposed Eclavdra to the cult of the Elder Elemental Eye and thus engineered a terrific schism in the drow city of Erelhei-Cinlu that resulted in chaos all the way up through the Demonweb itself. When Eclavdra fled the church of Lolth, Graz'zt was there to accept her again, and even now that the infamous drow priest has returned once again to Lolth's fold, who can say if Graz'zt's plans for her have come to full fruition?
Yet Graz'zt does have one central goal in mind, and this primary goal drives all other goals and all other plans, including his eternal war against Demogorgon for the role of Prince of Demons and his plot to absorb a Material Plane world into the Abyss. This goal is nothing less than uniting all the fiends of the Lower Planes (not just the Abyss) and leading them in an unthinkable army into the Upper Planes to raze them to the very foundations of the multiverse. Every one of Graz'zt's plans, in some way or another, takes him one infinitesimal step closer to this unthinkable goal.
The Dark Prince is a deeply sexual, erotic being. He is known on many worlds only in legend, as a dark figure who visits witches and sorcerers, granting them sexual favors as well as magical powers. As a result, his female consorts have populated the multiverse with a depraved host of half-fiend children. Some learn of their father's identity and delve into the Abyss, hoping to usurp his power. His dark elf son, Athux, leads Graz'zt's demonic army, while his daughter Thraxxia serves as a private assassin.
For a time, Graz'zt was trapped on the Material Plane by the witch-queen Iggwilv, who used his insight to elevate her own power. Eventually, however, she succumbed to the Dark Prince's charms, and their story was made infamous by the products of their romance: the vile demigod Iuz and an unnamed child. Graz'zt ultimately returned to the Abyss, but rumors abound that he did, in fact, fall in love with his captor.
Ancient texts claim that Pale Night is the mother of Graz'zt, Lupercio, and Vucarik in Chains, which would also make him related to those demons. The demoness Rhyxali is rumored to be his sister.
The god Raxivort was once a servant of the Dark Prince. He stole powerful artifacts from Graz'zt and escaped to the howling chasms of Pandemonium, where he became the divine patron of rodents and bats. Raxivort even has his own chosen race, a goblinoid horde known as the xvarts.
Through his own schemings and mischief, Graz'zt has become the chief enemy of Waukeen, a goddess of wealth and merchantry. The deity bargained for safe passage across Zelatar with information regarding a secret horde of treasure. Graz'zt readily accepted the offer, but betrayed Waukeen as soon as she arrived in the Abyss. His goal was to usurp her power. Imprisoned in the Argent Palace, the goddess was forced to witness profane celebrations held in her honor. Her rescue is detailed in the campaign module For Duty or Deity.
But even the wrath of a god cannot compare to the hatred and spite of the Dark Prince's chief rivals, Demogorgon and Orcus. The violence of the eternal war between these three demons rivals that of the Blood War, and costs them unthinkable resources that could be put to use in the battles against the baatezu. Graz'zt covets Demogorgon's title as the Prince of Demons above all else, and throws army after army at his most hated enemy in hopes of claiming it.
Graz'zt wars with many other lords of the Abyss as well, including Baphomet and Yeenoghu. Thanks to the efforts of his son Athux, he recently overthrew the demon prince Adimarchus, who ruled Occipitus, the 507th layer of the Abyss, though he has yet to actually conquer that particular layer.
The Court of Graz'zt
Graz'zt's most powerful servant is a mysterious, hyper-intelligent demon named Verin. Like Graz'zt, Verin appears almost human, but his skin is deathly pale, and he constantly oozes spiritual slime. Verin can change his form at will, and often elects a black-skinned mirror image of himself, known as Ztefano. He serves as the Dark Prince's major domo and chief ambassador to the other demon lords.
Graz'zt is always attended by six powerful lamias, and his marilith escorts, Unhath and Reluhantis, are never far from his side. When at his palace, the Dark Prince keeps many attractive demons at hand, to feed his voracious sexual appetite. Bodaks and similar horrors are the only other occupants of the Argent Palace.
Technically, every demon living within Graz'zt's world-spanning empire is considered one of his loyal servants; those who prove otherwise are fed to the carnivorous plants in his perfumed hanging gardens. Noteworthy minions include a hulking goristro named Orwantz, who acts as Graz'zt's personal border control for Azzagrat, and Rule-of-Three, a cambion who meets secretly with other fiends of the Lower Planes, to strategize an attack against the celestials.
The Cult of Graz'zt
Although he has not yet achieved divine status, Graz'zt is worshiped by many monstrous races, most notably the lamias. Many of his high priests, known as the Chosen, are female, and the rituals they perform are violent and involve themes of darkness and betrayal.
Some sources claim that Graz'zt was the creator of the Vasharans, a breed compared to humans as the drow are compared to elves. Deemed cruel and soulless by the gods who created him, the Vasharans' Adam-like ancestor was destroyed. But Graz'zt breathed new life into the corpse, long before he attained his present status. It is a terrifying legacy, for the Vasharans are obsessed with deicide, and destroying all gods has become the reason for their existence.
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