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Friday, July 14, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - A Guide to Fraz-Urb'luu, Demon Lord of Deception

Today we’re going to check out one of the oldest demon lords in the game of D&D: Fraz-Urb'luu. I went through old products and compiled all that is known about Fraz-Urb'luu into this one guide.

I’ve never been a Fraz-Urb'luu fan. I hate typing his name out, and I’ve always had a hard time running bad guys who are deceivers or illusionists.

As I got toward the end of this, I found some really cool stuff. I missed a note in Out of the Abyss which might hint at an epic future storyline!

The Essentials
Here's a quick overview:
  • He was involved in some big stories in the original Gary Gygax Greyhawk campaign.
  • He rules an Abyssal Realm called Hollow’s Heart, which is a plain of white powder that Fraz-Urb'luu can turn into whatever he likes.
  • Legendary spellcasters Zagig and Iggwilv trapped Fraz-Urb'luu in a bas relief for over 200 years. Iggwilv interrogated him and put much of what she learned in the first Demonomicon of Iggwilv.
  • Fraz-Urb'luu has an extremely powerful staff that was stolen from him. He wants it back. It’s broken into four pieces and if someone else gets their hands on it, they could take Hollow’s Heart from Fraz-Urb'luu.
  • He had a son with a witch named Vilhara. The son is Tsojcanth, a demon prince.
  • Fraz-Urb'luu wants to kill all human beings everywhere.
  • In 5th edition, Fraz-Urb'luu ended up trapped inside a gem. Anyone who touches it goes mad.
Real Life

Here’s the real-life origin: In the original Greyhawk campaign in the '70's that Gary Gygax ran, Ayelerach (played by Mark Ratner) and Erac's Cousin (played by Ernie Gygax) had both obtained vorpal swords that were ruining the campaign.

They stumbled onto Fraz-Urb'luu's prison and freed him. The adventurers panicked and used a scroll to call on the god Zeus to save them, but he ignored their pleas. Fraz-Urb'luu took them to his abyssal realm, destroyed their swords and sent them packing.

AD&D 1st Edition - Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

We learn things:
  • His face is beautiful but cruel! His head is large and pointed and he has blue fur.
  • For centuries, he was imprisoned in a bas relief visage in the dungeons beneath Castle Greyhawk. He speaks all "human languages" and is capable of telepathy.
  • He can gate in demons or "deceive another demon prince into believing he has been summoned to the spot."
  • He rules an Abyssal Plane that seems to be totally flat and featureless. Magic items taken there lose their magic!
  • Fraz-Urb'luu has a staff that combines the powers of a rod of beguiling with a rod of rulership and a staff of command.
  • The staff was stolen while he was imprisoned.
Monster Manual II

Mostly the same entry with a few changes.
  • When Fraz-Urb'luu summons demon lords, he goes elsewhere.
  • His realm is "alive to the demon's wishes, and shapes itself accordingly."
AD&D 2nd Edition - Faces of Evil: The Fiends

We learn a few things, berk.
  • Fraz-Urb'luu is an 18-foot tall hulking humanoid with blue fur and black leathery wings.
  • He has the ability to trick other demon lords into believing that they have been summoned by a mortal. This lasts for two minutes, and then the demon lord is returned to whence it came.
  • When a demon lord is summoned, it does not die when slain - it reappears in the Abyss.
D&D 3rd Edition – Fiendish Codex I

  • Fraz-Urb'luu is immune to scrying and divination spells/effects.
  • Fraz-Urb'luu is the demon lord of illusionists and tricksters. His mortal minions trick others into worshiping him and sacrificing themselves to him.
  • Since his escape from Castle Greyhawk, Fraz'Urb'luu has been rebuilding his realm Hollow's Heart and searching for his magic staff.
  • He employs succubi, lilitus and a number of chaotic evil rakshasas known as the Hollow Rajahs.
  • His cults are known as the Cults of Deception. A cult has about 12 members who eventually sacrifice themselves. They become prisoners in the city of Zoragmelok on Hollow's Heart.
  • His staff: A jeweled scepter of adamantine cast at the end to resemble five bestial arms that grip a horned and fanged humanoid skull.
Dragon Magazine #333

Again, Fraz-Urb'luu has the most annoying name to type. He is considered to be a "primal lord of the Abyss," one of the first demons to rise to dominance. He has been a terrible constant amid the writhing change of abyssal nobility.

When Zagig summoned him, Fraz-Urb'luu thought he would run roughshod over the mortal realm. Zagig confronted him with an artifact known as the ichor lance to drain some of Fraz-Urb'luu's essence. Fraz-Urb'luu snatched and disjoined it, but in doing so he released energy that stripped him of his powers. Zagig had tricked him!

Fraz-Urb'luu was imprisoned within the dungeons below Castle Greyhawk inside a massive stone bas-relief for over 200 years.

  • Disjunctive Touch: Fraz-Urb'luu can absorb or negate magic effects with a touch. He can turn magic items (including artifacts) into mundane items.
  • Inscrutable: Immune to divination and scrying.
  • Item Master: He can create any kind of magic staff without expending resources or spells.
  • He can reform the appearance of his realm with a thought.
When Fraz-Urb'luu was imprisoned, other demon lords sent hordes into the realm and killed everyone. The realm became an endless white plain of powdery sand under an empty black sky.

The demon lords fought over his staff and it shattered, scattering throughout the multiverse.

Once Fraz-Urb'luu escaped and returned to his home, he was extremely angry. Without his staff, reforming his layer is very difficult.

Graz'zt, Demogorgon and Socothbenoth (!) all almost forced Fraz-Urb'luu from his realm.

He is building an army to wage war on humans. Fraz-Urb'luu intends get revenge on the entire race because of what Zagig did to him.

The Staff of Fraz-Urb'luu: A jeweled scepter of adamantine. The staff can be used to bend the will of huge armies. The staff has been shattered and the parts scattered. If all of the parts are brought to Hollow's Heart, the staff will instantly reform.

Powers of the Staff:
  • Enhances enchantment spells
  • Casts Charm person, command and suggestion.
  • 2/day cast charm monster, dominate person, mind fog
  • 1/day dominate monster
  • Ir has the powers of a rod of rulership
  • It is also a +5 weapon.
His current symbol is of a partially-devoured human skull with eyes in the sockets that can roll around.

Sacrifices to Fraz-Urb'luu occur once per year. The victim must be someone who has been tricked, preferably lawful good.

Thralls of Fraz-Urb'luu have some cool powers:
  • When a creature is summoned by someone, they can trick he creature into thinking they summoned it.
  • They can use magic staffs without expending charges at the expense of some of their “life force” (temporary CON damage).
  • They gain the service of two skurchur demons.
  • Once per day, they can turn an illusion into reality!
Favored minions of Fraz-Urb'luu: Succubi and skurchurs

The Hollow Rajahs look quite different from normal D&D rakshasas. Instead of tigers, they take on the humanoid forms of other animals. They rule and govern Hollow's Heart.

Skurchur: These demons are plucked and wingless vulture/dinosaur things that serve Fraz-Urb'luu. They magically disguise themselves as halflings or gnomes and become advisers to kind mortal rulers. Very odd! They have a power:
  • Touch of Vacant Beauty: They can enhance someone's beauty and drain their willpower/dull their intuition simultaneously.

Hollow's Heart: Piles and piles and piles of info:

The sky is black, but it is somehow brightly lit. No shadows are cast here.
  • Athawyn: A decadent city of curving towers and decadent domes ruled by succubi and skurchurs. The guards are orcs. Humans who appear here are eaten by orcs or enslaved by the rulers. The main ruler is a very powerful succubus bard named Nyrashlia.
  • The Blood Dunes: A desert of blood-red particles that are actually scabs and clots of dried blood. There are mysterious ruins here inhabited by liches, mummies and other undead.
  • Bonepus: A small town of 1560 fiendish goblins ruled by a crocodile-headed rakshasa named Rontakus.
  • Deathrot Woods: A forest of sickly trees that is home to demonic plant monsters, including 13 demonic treants.
  • The Demon's Teeth: A mountain wilderness where creatures hide from Fraz-Urb'luu.
  • The Drooling Jungle: A jungle full of trees that have muttering mouths on them. Lots of barlgura live here, along with massive basilisks and acid-spitting hydras. There are rumors that a massive nalfeshnee called the Gardener lives here, too.
  • The Flensers: Volcanoes
  • The Forever Gash: Land of white powder that Fraz-Urb'luu cannot figure out how to transform.
  • Harrowfen: A swamp of poisonous muck inhabited by hezrou and skulvyn.
  • The Hollow Sea: An ocean with many islands containing portals that bring unlucky travelers to this realm.
  • Karantis: A temple-city ruled by a gorilla-headed rakshasa named Kiltikatrit.
  • Karugoze: A raven-headed rakshasa named Liorkian rules this city of orcs, ogres and "fiendish gnomes." What the heck is a fiendish gnome like? For that matter, what would a fiendish lawn gnome be like? Humans are sold here for an average rice of 100 gp.
  • Magghat: Home to slaving sailors, ruled by boar-headed rakshasa named Magghat. Magghat makes disgusting statues.
  • The Red Rapture: A plain full of torture devices operated by vrocks.
  • Scarwood: Fraz-Urb'luu hunts this vast woodland full of feral tribes of humans.
  • The Spiral of Ugudenk: One of Fraz-Urb'luu's great enemies is Ugudenk, demon lord of worms and parasites. He used to burrow into Hollow's Heart and a massive tunnel to his realm still remains. The tunnel leads to the 177th layer of the Abyss.
  • Zoragmelok: This is where Fraz-Urb'luu's lair and fortress is. A nearly-empty city of corkscrew towers and twisted domes. The only inhabitants are Fraz-Urb'luu his consorts (high-level succubi bards, sorcerers and clerics) and humans tricked by his cults. Each of the deceived humans lives alone in a section of the city that has been changed to resemble where they came from.
Expedition to Castle Greyhawk

Kalystys is the daughter of a drow and a succubus who leads a cult of Fraz-Urb'luu in cavers under the city of Verbobonc. In this adventure, she's trapped in a hedge maze. Her ultimate goal is to become a full-fledged succubus. High level followers of Fraz-Urb'luu are given the ability to alter reality, a power she can use to do so.

Excursion to Hollow’s Heart: In this adventure, the group goes to Hollow’s Heart. The group needs find the three pieces of the Godtrap Key. Doubles of famous Greyhawk NPCs each took a piece and brought it somewhere for safe-keeping:
  • Murlynd's Double: Dungeonland
  • Nolzur's Double: Isle of the Ape
  • Zagig’s Double: Hollow's Heart
The heroes go to the Forever Gash - the area Fraz-Urb'luu can't transform. They come up the ichor shrine, a pyramid of red stone with a flat peak. Suspended in the air above it on tall tenterhook is an enormous, disembodied black heart. This heart was torn from a massive nalfeshnee minion of Graz'zt.

An outcast Hollow Rajah named Vajakilar lives here with tiefling minions. He's trying to use the heart to create a massive, undead nalfeshnee

Dungeon Magazine #151

There's a sequel to Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth in here. We learn that Tsojcanth, son of Fraz-Urb'luu is a demon prince! His mother is "a witch named Vilhara."

Who is Vilhara? No idea.

Tsojcanth is a 9 foot tall human with leathery gray skin and a serpentine tail with two poison barbs. His eyes are completely black and he has a steaming tongue.

D&D 4th Edition - Dragon #414

The Iggwilv-Graz'zt affair article has a bit of Fraz-Urb'luu stuff. It says that Zagig imprisoned Fraz-Urb'luu partly to teach Iggwilv (his apprentice at the time) how to handle summoned fiends. She took further instruction from Fraz-Urb'luu, extracting countless secrets. Once she had learned everything she could, she stole stuff from Zagig and fled.

Tsojcanth, son of Fraz-Urb'luu, was a half-demon who was disguised as a mortal for years.

Graz'zt viciously attack Fraz-Urb'luu once solely because he had been Iggwilv's prisoner and plaything at one time - a 'privilege' that Graz'zt no longer wished to share with anyone.

Dungeon #208 - Fraz-Urb'luu: Prince of Deception

Another Demonomicon article. It’s so weird how they did two of the same demon lord when so many have gone undetailed.
  • Orcus is worried that Fraz-Urb'luu might recover his staff. Graz'zt is trying to find the parts of the staff.
  • Fraz-Urb'luu has found the crystal of the staff, so anyone who wants to make the staff whole must get the crystal from him.
  • He likes to corrupt devas, as they are reborn in his layer as rakshasas
  • Some cities in his realm are abandoned facades.
  • Fraz-Urb'luu is saving most of his energy to be channeled into his staff when he succeeds in reassembling it. Upon its completion, the full extent of his power will be realized and he can use the staff to restore and sustain the rest of his domain.
  • The High and Holy Rajah: A rakshasa who rules a golden city called Ketilon. It is on the shore of a sea that connects to the astral plane.
  • There are four pieces of the staff: Two halves of the wooden shaft, a claw of adamantine and the crystal.
  • Reassembling the staff could enable a wielder to usurp control of Hollow's Heart.
D&D 5th Edition - Out of the Abyss

I'll do his stats first and then talk about how he's trapped in a gem.

Staff Changes: The staff of Fraz-Urb'luu is referred to as "the legendary staff of power" and it was "taken from him by those who imprisoned him." Hmmm. I missed this when I read this so long ago.

It was taken from him by Zagig and Iggwilv?! That sounds like a possible clue to a future adventure, no? Will there be a Castle Greyhawk adventure where the group assembles this "staff of power"? Probably not, but that’s a really weird detail to throw in there.

Many of his worshipers think he is a beneficent being and a granter of wishes. Fraz-Urb'luu delights in aiding demon hunters against his adversaries.

Hollow's Heart is described as a featureless white plain of white dust. So everything's gone? Did it revert to white dust when he got summoned again? His lair is the city of Zoragmelok, which is still standing.

Madnesses of Fraz-Urb'luu include:
  • I have intermittent hallucinations
  • I never let anyone know the truth about my actions or intentions, even if doing so would be beneficial to me.
Fraz Isn't So Smart: Fraz-Urb'luu had taken precautions to try to prevent being summoned and trapped again which backfired spectacularly. When Gromph's spell goes off in this adventure, his failsafe kicked in. Fraz-Urb'luu’s lifeforce shunted into a black jewel.

Gromph's spell was so epic that it actually pulled the gem into the Underdark with the other demon lords.

The Gem: When you touch the gem, you must make a DC 23 Charisma saving throw or succumb to a form of indefinite madness (listed on Fraz-Urb'luu stat page).

Anyone who touches this gem falls prey to delusional madness. While imprisoned in the gem, Fraz-Urb'luu retains his alignment and senses but loses all of his other attributes. This gem has an AC of 10 and just 1 hitpoint, but it's immune to non-magic weapons or spells that require a saving throw.

Shattering the gem releases his lifeforce, and he can return to his body in the Abyss.

Story Possibilities: That actually sets up some interesting possibilities. In Out of the Abyss, it's clear Fraz-Urb'luu might spend up to nine months down there. While these demon lords are trapped in the Underdark, their Abyssal layers are up for grabs! Demon lords like Lolth and Pazuzu can swoop in and take them, in theory.

If Fraz-Urb'luu's body is just lying there for nine months, all sorts of things could happen. A spirit (maybe a loumara) could inhabit it, or one of his hollow rajahs could use it to pretend to be him. An astral being could possess it.

What happens if his body is destroyed? Like.. thrown into a sphere of annihilation? Would he just be a roaming spirit? Would a new body form? Would he merge with his own abyssal layer?

Fraz-Urb'luu seems more interesting if he actually stays in this gem, whether he rules his realm or not. Maybe he somehow bonds with his staff so that he actually is the staff.

Now that I think about it, if Fraz-Urb'luu is gone, all someone has to do is assemble his staff, go to Hollow's Heart, and they can steal his realm from him! The hollow rajahs are probably racing each other to find the pieces.

Maybe his son, Tsojcanth, would take it over.

There you go. Fraz;Urb”loo{} is done.


Field guide to Fraz-Urb'luu
History of Fraz-Urb'luu
Fear of the Dark - A DMs Guild adventure that expands Fraz's role in Out of the Abyss


Peter V. Dell'Orto said...

Nice guide.

Evil gnomes are really a thing, it seems. Keraptis had a crew of evil gnomes in the backstory to White Plume Mountain, for example. Even GURPS Dungeon Fantasy has rumors of "Hell Gnomes."

Timothy Brannan said...

These posts are fantastic. Always happy to see a new one pop up in my feed.

Sean said...

Peter V. Dell'Orto: Hell gnomes?! That sounds awesome.

Timothy Brannan: Thanks! I have a pile of demon stuff I'll be rolling out. I want to do one on the plain of 1,000 portals but it is in so many books! I'm probably 60% done with it.