Lord of Bones, Old Lord Skull, The Reaper Lord of the Dead
Portfolio: Autumn, The Dead, Wasting, Decay, Corruption, Parasites, Old Age, Dusk, Exhaustion
Aliases: N’asr (Anauroch, among the Bedine)
Domain Name: Formerly: Oinos/Bone Castle; currently adrift on the Astral Plane
Superior: Only Ao supercedes Myrkul in might.
Allies: Bhaal (now dead), Jergal, Shar, Bane
Foes: Chauntea, Lathander, Mielikki
Symbol: A white human skull face-on against a black field or a reaching white skeletal hand in white on a black field, (in recent years, either symbol usually shown on an Inverted black shield with a continuous border of white, stylized human fingerbones)
Worshipper’s Alignment: LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE
Myrkul (MER-kul), one of the Dark Gods, was the god of the dead, as opposed to the god of death, which was the province of Bhaal. His portfolio, and his home in Hades, the Bone Castle, were both usurped by Cyric after the Lord of Bones was destroyed atop Blackstaff Tower in Waterdeep during the Time of Troubles by Midnight. Later Myrkul’s portfolio passed to Kelemvor when Cyric was driven from the City of Strife by an alliance of gods and denizens.
Myrkul had a cold, malignant intelligence, and spoke in a high whisper. He was always alert, never slept, and was never surprised. He was never known to lose his temper or be anything other than coldly amused when a mortal succeeded in avoiding his directives or chosen fates. His influence in Faerûn was imposed through fear, and he was a master of making mortals terrified of him through his words and deeds. At times, just to remain unpredictable, he seemed almost kind and caring. His cowled skull head was known in nightmares all over Faerûn, and he was the one deity that almost all human mortals could picture clearly. Myrkul took care that all mortals thought of him often—he was even known to materialize beside open graves, scythe in hand, just to gaze around at gathering mourners for a few silent seconds before fading away, in order to remind everyone that he was waiting for them all.
Myrkul enjoyed appearing as a skeleton clad in a billowing black cowled robe and wielding a scythe. He had scaly, wrinkled skin covered with knobby lesions and black, cracked lips. His eyes gleamed with a cold, evil light and were so sunken that his face looked like a skull. His chest and torso were bare bones, and he had four bony arms, not the usual two. Below the waist his bones were covered by withered sinews and wasted flesh. He could fly about so that his rotting, gangrenous feet did not need to touch the ground.
The Lord of Bones could cast spells from any school, but he could not cast spells that created light (not just fire or heat) as their primary function. When he cast spells, he could cast twice the normal number of necromantic or necromancy spells per round with triple effectiveness (area of effect, duration, range, etc.) at a -3 penalty to his targets saving throws (when allowed).
Special Att/Def: Myrkul’s grip crushed for 1d10 points of damage (plus his Strength bonus) and chilled. The chilling effect was akin to a chill touch, doing an additional 1d10 points of damage with a temporary loss of 1 point of Strength (no saving throw for either effect) per successful strike. If the situation enabled him to, Myrkul could cast two necromantic or necromancy spells per round (double the normal allowed amount for deities also attacking physically), grapple with two hands, and wield his scythe with the other two hands. If Myrkul’s scythe ever left his hands, it vanished only to reappear in his bony grasp whenever he pleased. His scythe had a similar chilling effect to his touch; it caused the temporary loss of 1 point of Strength per successful strike.
The Lord of Bones could animate or create any type of undead creature indefinitely by touch. All skeletons or zombies he animated obeyed him absolutely. Greater undead that he created were required to perform one service for him and were then free-willed. Myrkul could also automatically disrupt any undead creature of less than divine status with his touch at will, turning it into dust that not even Ao could reanimate. Myrkul was immune to all forms of attack by undead creatures of any sort.
If he chose, Myrkul’s grasp could confer flesh rot, the “mummy disease,” in addition to its normal chilling effect. This contagion negated all cure wounds spells, caused infected creatures to heal at only 10% of the normal rate, caused a permanent Charisma loss of 1 point every two tendays, and was fatal in ld6 months. Touched creatures could avoid acquiring this disease with a successful saving throw vs. poison, but they had to save again each time the Reaper touched them. Those who acquired the disease could be cured of it with a cure disease spell as normal. A side effect of Myrkul’s touch was that living creatures saw all those around them as moving, talking, clothed skeletons. Victims could not see flesh, including expressions, moving lips, and so on.
Myrkul could also choose to appear as a swooping human skull with blazing lights for eyes. It was normal-sized or larger (up to about 6 feet in height) as he desired, and vanished in flame if destroyed. (If it were so destroyed, Myrkul could not manifest or appear in avatar form anywhere on Toril for three days.)
Myrkul could also appear as a disembodied flying skeletal arm that pointed, gestured, or wielded a slashing scimitar.
All of Myrkul’s manifestations retained all the powers of his avatar except the ability to materialize a scythe and to cast two necromantic spells in a round; manifestations can unleash only one. Some sages hold that Myrkul could only manifest thrice per day on any plane other than the Gray Waste, but the truth of this assertion is severely doubted, as other powers of greater stature are not known.
Myrkul’s influence on the Realms was manifested through a variety of servitor creatures. He sent “Deaths” (identical to the minor death associated with the Skull card of a deck of many things), skeletons (all types, from crawling claws to blazing bones and crypt things), zombies (all sorts), and a wide range of other undead horrors to work his will. Myrkul unleashed armies of night riders astride gaunts against the still-living on more than one occasion. Myrkul sent bats, black panthers or leopards, hell hounds, nightmares, deepest red roses (that looked black and crumbled into dust when touched), jet, obsidian, onyx, ravens, and crows to show his favor or disfavor and to aid the faithful or harass his enemies.
See Also: The Church of Myrkul