Tharizdun

Tharizdun
Betrayer God, Elder Evil
Official art of Pelor battling Tharizdun, by Svetoslav Petrov from Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 4.[art 1]
Symbols of Tharizdun.[art 2][art 3]
Deity information
Other names
  • The Chained Oblivion[1]
  • The Angel of Irons
Pronounsit/its
ProvinceDarkness, destruction
SymbolCrooked, seven-pointed star made of chains
AlignmentChaotic Evil[1]
Home planeAbyss
Worship
WorshipersAcek Orattim, frost giants
Cleric domains
Arm of the BetrayersBlade of Broken Mirrors
Appearances
First seen"Dark Bargains" (2x83)
Last seen"The Cathedral" (2x86)
StreamCampaign 2 (2 episodes)

Tharizdun, the Chained Oblivion is the mad deity of death and trickery. It dreams materialize into the infinite Abyss and its demon hordes and aberrations beneath Exandria.[2] It is classified as a Betrayer God and Elder Evil.[1][3]

Description[edit | edit source]

Appearance[edit | edit source]

Official art of Ioun battling Tharizdun, by Wesley Griffith from "Exandria: An Intimate History" (Mx12) at 4:22.[art 4]

You look into this emptiness and you feel something immense. Something old. Something mad.

— Allura Vysoren's ritual.[4]

While the other deities in the pantheon have different interpretations of their form, every record of "Tharizdun is amorphous and without physical manifestation". However, his symbology always feature the seven chains, sometimes swirling around a "rolling, hungry ink",[2] a "spreading cloud of lightless destruction, filled with teeth, malice, laughter, and hatred" that is the Chained Oblivion.[5]

Personality[edit | edit source]

Tharizdun is not best understood as a god like the others.[2] Its "mind" is profoundly alien,[6] and does not carefully form complicated plots. It is a primal, subconscious force of annihilation that insidiously corrupts what it can to undermine everything, opportunistically masquerading in the forms of what other minds desire, and seeping in to twist those minds' intent and perspective toward Tharizdun's own destructive ends.[7]

Biography[edit | edit source]

The Founding[edit | edit source]

Tharizdun is an ancient entity that arrived in Exandria early in The Founding from elsewhere.[8] It is categorized as a Betrayer God, but it does not necessarily belong to nor derive from the same source of divinity that the Betrayer Gods and Prime Deities together came from. It is considered some other kind of being, and it is possibly older, though no one knows.[9] It was "drawn by either the arrival of the divine, the creation of life, the imbuing of magic into the world", and it began to spill from its original place into the world. It was banished before it could completely enter Exandria.[8]

The Age of Arcanum[edit | edit source]

During the Age of Arcanum, a priest of Tharizdun, Acek Orattim, made his base in Gatshadow Mountain,[10] under which the Chained Oblivion had been imprisoned since the Founding.[2] The priest channeled Tharizdun's power, causing Gatshadow to grow notably in height compared to the other Cliffkeep Mountains and grow a maze of tunnels within. From Gatshadow, Orattim spread his evil corruption across the region.[11]

Before the Calamity, the Betrayer Gods each forged a sentient weapon with the life force of a greater fiend: the Arms of the Betrayers.[12] Tharizdun forged a reality-warping stone dagger called the Blade of Broken Mirrors using the life force of a glabrezu.[13]

Tharizdun was released once more onto the Material Plane during the Calamity, causing untold destruction and chaos.[2] One of the climactic fights of the war came about when the Prime Deities sought to banish Tharizdun. Moradin used the Core Anvil to craft the Prime Trammels used in the Rites of Prime Banishment.[14] Ioun baited Tharizdun to her central temple, resulting in her near-destruction and causing her temple to sink beneath the earth in her sorrow.[15] With the blessing of Avandra, four Prime Trammels were attached to Tharizdun, and Pelor prevailed in a spectacularly violent battle with the mad god. Badly defeated and wounded, Tharizdun retreated to Acek Orattim's realm, but Pelor chased and banished Tharizdun there, beneath Gatshadow.[16] Acek was rumored to be so suffused with his master's power that the divine banishment tore the priest's body apart.[17]

It is said that six sets of divine shackles hold the Chained Oblivion at the bottom of Abyss, their power anchored somewhere in Exandria, but no one knows how few shackles must remain. On the locations of each shackle the temples of the Dawnfather and the Knowing Mistress were built for the highest of clergy to keep a close guard,[18] with one of them located in the crypt beneath the Chantry of the Dawn in Rexxentrum.[19][20] It is feared that the powerful nature of Tharizdun, freed from its bounds, could alone shatter the Divine Gate.[21]

Post-Divergence[edit | edit source]

When Lolth was banished early in the Calamity, her drow fled the surface world to rebuild underground. In Tal'Dorei, Tharizdun took advantage of Lolth's reduced influence: it began to whisper to the drow nobility, and its aberrations subtly besieged the drow civilization in the darkness. By 812 PD, the drow of Ruhn-Shak were on the edge of utter dissolution, tearing themselves apart with paranoia-driven violence and trying ever more desperately to clamp down on the chaos.[22]

Meanwhile, the re-formation of Cognouza into a broken collection of many minds had caught Tharizdun's attention, and the mad god helped Cognouza along and influenced the form it took. Similarly, Tharizdun, sensing opportunity in what Obann wanted, allowed Obann to imagine into being a manifestation of Tharizdun's influence in the form of the "Angel of Irons". In both cases, the influence was supposed to subtly lead toward Tharizdun's broad goals.[7]

Kingsley Tealeaf's dreams of his confinement and escape from Lucien included memories of strange black chains that invisibly wove through Cognouza, now broken, the sound of them shattering between worlds, and the angry, unknowable, primal, ancient cry that he could never forget.[23] This represented the loss of Tharizdun's investment in the city.[24]

Worship[edit | edit source]

Commandments of the Chained Oblivion
  • Offer light and life into its all-consuming maw so that it may surpass all divinities and be freed.
  • Uncover, restore, and exalt forgotten shrines and relics in its honor.
  • Ruin and raze the realms to hasten the arrival of the Epoch of Ends.

— from the Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn[25]

The Chained Oblivion and its devotees often deceive other cults to follow unknowingly aid their efforts by creating a false interpretation of Tharizdun entirely[26] because its main intent of distraction, madness, and ruin—laid upfront—may not attract many follower.[27]

Those who are reckless enough to follow the commandments of the Chained Oblivion are "often spurned, hateful, and chaotic souls" who have lost touch with society. Chained Oblivion's influence helps nurture of "uncontrollable hunger, uncharacteristic aggression, and eventually violent mania". The higher acolytes, as part of their ritual of ascension and to show their zealous believe, often pluck their eyes so "they can peer through shadow and light," sustained enough by their faith.[28]

Tal'Dorei[edit | edit source]

In the inhospitable realm of the Neverfields in nothern part of Tal'Dorei, the minority of the frost giants, who have suffered near-death experiences, secretly join one of the cults of the Chained Oblivion, accepting the inevitability of misery among the eternal cold of the Neverfields and seeking the solace within their adversities. When most of them worship the Wildmother, embracing the harsh nature of their lands and seeking her guidance to safely cross the ice fields.[29][30]

Known worshipers[edit | edit source]

  • Acek Orattim – Priest of Tharizdun during the Age of Arcanum and the Calamity.[11]
  • Jayne Merriweather
  • Angel of Irons cult
    • Obann – Obann was not aware of the true identity of the Angel of Irons until he failed to break the fane, after which he was destroyed and what remained of him twisted into Obann the Punished.
    • Vence Nuthaleus – It is unknown how much Vence knows about the true nature of the cult of the Angel of Irons. He collaborated with fellow cultists Respa and Adeen in an attempt to break one of the fanes holding Tharizdun in the bottom of the Abyss.
    • Cardinal Respa - Cardinal in the Chantry of the Dawn. Cardinal Respa led several cultists in a prayer of worship for the Angel of Irons and hoping for its release.
    • Adeen Tasithar (presumably via domination) - he confessed to aiding the cult, but seems to be unaware of why and how he did it and genuinely horrified by his actions, even when talking to who he thought was Vence. The Mighty Nein therefore suspect that he might have been under the control of Obann.

Appearances and mentions[edit | edit source]

Official art of Symbol, by Conceptopolis from Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn.[art 5]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

The epic-level adventure hook Scion of Oblivion in the original Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting involves a piece of Tharizdun's power that was cast into the Shearing Channel in its epic battle with Pelor during the Calamity. That gradually growing power has mutated a kraken into an abomination that horrifically transforms everything around it—creatures, ships, the weather—as it rises and seems to build an army for some larger attack.[31]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 1: "Story of Wildemount", p. 27.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 19.
  3. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 7: "Wildemount Bestiary", p. 281.
  4. "Dark Bargains" (2x83) at 4:07:51.
  5. "Titles and Tattoos" (2x84) at 2:50:27.
  6. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 21.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Critical Role Campaign 2 Wrap-Up" (Mx10) from 2:16:05 through 2:19:22.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Titles and Tattoos" (2x84) at 2:51:59.
  9. "Titles and Tattoos" (2x84) at 14:00.
  10. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 2: "Allegiances of Tal'Dorei", p. 63.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, pp. 63–64.
  12. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 1: "Story of Wildemount", p. 30.
  13. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 1: "Story of Wildemount", pp. 30–31. See also p. 275.
  14. "The Endless Atheneum" (1x106) at 1:08:57.
  15. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 51.
  16. "The Endless Atheneum" (1x106) from 1:08:57 through 1:09:55.
  17. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 64.
  18. "Titles and Tattoos" (2x84) at 2:52:50.
  19. "Titles and Tattoos" (2x84) at 3:26:02.
  20. Although Rexxentrum itself was founded post-Calamity, it was built on the site of an ancient temple to Pelor. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 107.
  21. "Titles and Tattoos" (2x84) at 2:53:22.
  22. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, pp. 23–24. See also p. 21.
  23. "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 6:55:22.
  24. "Critical Role Campaign 2 Wrap-Up" (Mx10) from 2:16:05 through 2:19:22.
  25. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 2: "Allegiances of Tal'Dorei", p. 36.
  26. "Titles and Tattoos" (2x84) at 22:27.
  27. "Talks Machina #134: The Cathedral" (TM2x86) at 19:30.
  28. "Titles and Tattoos" (2x84) from 22:06 through 25:20.
  29. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 6: "Allies and Adversaries of Tal'Dorei", p. 221.
  30. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 125.
  31. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 48.

Art:

  1. Official art of Pelor battling Tharizdun, by Svetoslav Petrov from Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 4. This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
  2. Symbol of Tharizdun from Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting.
  3. Symbol of Tharizdun from Explorer's Guide to Wildemount by Claudio Pozas. (source)
  4. Official art of Ioun battling Tharizdun, by Wesley Griffith from "Exandria: An Intimate History" (Mx12) at 4:22. This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
  5. Official art of Symbol, by Conceptopolis from Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn. This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.