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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Dungeons & Dragons - A Guide to Emirikol the Chaotic

The original art by Dave Trampier
In this guide I am going to try and give a comprehensive overview on Emirikol the Chaotic. This guide attempts to collect all the lore and put it in one place to give DMs a nice launching point for using Emirikol in a campaign.

You could use Emirikol as a villain or as a crazy, dangerous NPC the heroes need to associate with. You could also just take some of the material in here and apply it to powerful wizards in your home campaign.

Emirikol is a hard guy to pin down. If you know anything more about Emirikol, please let me know and I'll add it to this guide.

The Essential Information

AD&D 2e version by David O Miller

  • Emirikol is a chaotic neutral level 24 wizard who dabbles in wild magic. 
  • He is a "middle-aged man with a dark, well-trimmed beard, simple but not elegant clothing.
  • He lives in a tower protected by a magic metalstorm, rips in reality and magic-eating creatures.
  • Emirikol has a close companion named Tiae, who is a tiefling thief.
  • He can fly innately thanks to experiments with a potion of flying. 
  • If he is attacked physically, a contingency spell kicks in that casts a disintegrate spell at the attacker.
  • He is primarily concerned with things happening on other planes
  • He associates with demon lords, including Demogorgon.
  • He has five iron golems that he can see, hear and speak through.
  • He has a lot of magic items, including Demonwing - a demon ship that is also a layer of the Abyss.
Where did Emirikol Come From?

The Hackmaster version of Emirikol
Emirikol the Chaotic first appeared in the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide. It was just an illustration, nothing else. If you google Emirikol you will find piles of blog posts about how this single image gave DMs all sorts of ideas. Many used The Green Griffon tavern in their games. Others recreated this exact scene, with Emirikol riding through a city on a horse firing off spells. Many players made Emirikol the Chaotic as their character.

This person claims that Emirikol was actually a character in a game that Gary Gygax ran in a convention. I have no idea if this is true or not.

The Mysterious Artist

Wormy by Dave Trampier
The original piece of Emirikol art was done by the late Dave Trampier. Trampier drew a number of iconic D&D images as well as a long-running comic in Dragon Magazine called "Wormy." Trampier suddenly stopped submitting things to TSR and apparently some TSR employees thought he had died.

It turned out that Trampier had moved and took a job as a cab driver. When people tried to contact him about his D&D work, he would politely tell them to leave him alone.

There's more information here.

AD&D Second Edition

A Paladin in Hell

Emirikol, the 24th level wizard
It wasn't until second edition that Emirikol actually appeared in an adventure. This one is by the great Monte Cook, and is itself based on another famous AD&D image of a paladin in hell. In this high level epic, the heroes really must go to hell to rescue a paladin and an entire church. This adventure is in a generic setting and is meant to be placed in whatever campaign world you are using.

To get to hell, the heroes must visit Emirikol's home and use his ship Demonwing, which can sail the River Styx. I love this adventure. I am guessing not many people ran it because it is for really high level characters. Here is what we learn:

Emirikol's Mephit: The adventurers have just learned that they have to go to hell. A fire mephit appears and hands them a message:

"I can provide the means to recover what has been lost, but I will give it only to those who ask for it in person. - Emirikol the Chaotic"

What is Known: Emirikol disappeared 30 years ago after a sorcerous duel with a wizard named Tinnestron. 

Emirikol's Companion: When the church got sucked into hell, there were a lot of people inside. One of them was Tiae, Emirikol's closest companion.
  • Tiae is a beautiful tiefling who has eyes that glow bright yellow (she covers them with lenses so people don't freak out). She has a ridge of spines that run down her neck and back.
  • She is a 13th level thief.
  • Tiae wears one ring of joining, and Emirikol wears the other. This means that Emirikol can see and hear through Tiae and she can do the same with him.
  • She also wear a ring of shadows, which creates shadows for her to lurk in.
The Metalstorm: The sorcerous battle created The metalstorm, an eternal storm of magnetic winds that carry shards of steel summoned from another plane. The clanging of metal can be heard up to 20 miles away.
  • The metal blocks ethereal travel.
  • Entering the metalstorm causes you to take d100 damage per round.
  • The center of the metalstorm is calm. In it is Emirikol's lair.
Reality Rents: In the eye of the metalstorm, reality has become "threadbare, frayed, and even torn in spots." Those wandering here might fall into another plane. Check it out:

If you fall through a reality rent, you have one round to get back through. If you don't, the hole slowly closes and you're trapped in another plane.

The Magic-Starved: These creatures feed on magical energy and wander in and out of the reality holes. Spells have no affect on them. In fact, they "eat" magic. They swarm casters and beg them to use spells.

If someone casts a spell, they must keep making saving throws as the magic-starved start stealing their memorized spells.

Steeds of Chaos: Also lurking in the eye of the metalstorm are over 20,000 horse-sized creatures that each look different. They run in a circle, an endless stampede inside the metal storm, trampling anything in their path. If you get trampled you take 10d6 damage per round.

The Crystal Spire: This 2,000 foot tall tower is made of crystal and rises up from the sea. The top of it is flat, and on it is a fortress made of polished iron. Halfway up the spire is a ledge and an iron bar. A magic mouth says: "Grasp and speak of the beauty of chaos." Doing so is the way to get into Emirikol's lair.

The Fortress: This fortress is not detailed. All that is said about the fortress is that each room inside it shifts and moves around, and that the place is very deadly and loaded with treasure. I think I would take the rooms in "Emirikol Was Framed!" (a DCC RPG adventure I describe below) and use them as the interior of the fortress.

Don't Try To Get Into The Fortress: Flying around, trying any other way to get in leads to Emirikol's iron golems telling the heroes they're being "rude." If the heroes persist, they are plane shifted to a dangerous layer of The Abyss.

Emirikol's Audience Chamber: The heroes stand on a brass platform floating in darkness. hovering in the darkness is a throne, on which Emirikol sits. He offers the heroes Demonwing, which will get them to Hell.

The Throne of Power: His throne is an artifact. It casts an anti-magic shell in a 50 foot radius that does not affect who sits on the throne.
  • It allows a caster to turn "touch" spells into ranged spells.
  • The throne allows Emirikol to connect to his golems.
  • One spell can be stored in the throne.
D&D 3rd Edition

The Fist of Emirikol

Some of the chart results.
This is both an item in the game and a unique d20 given out as a promotional item.

The Fist of Emirikol is said to be an item Emirikol used often. It is made from bone, and there's a sigil carved in each of its 20 sides.

So basically, your character chucks it at an enemy and the player rolls on a chart for the random effect. The effect is triggered. Most of the effects do a lot of damage. Once the effect is resolved, the fist disintegrates and re-appears in a bag carried by the owner the following day, ready to be used again.

This comes from a free .pdf on the wizards site here. That page also includes a web program that rolls the Fist of Emirikol die for you.

Emirikol in Greyhawk?

Emirikol by Doug Kovacs
This document from greyhawkonline shows that Emirikol lives in the nation of Ull on the world of Oerth. Ull is ruled by a half-ogre named Bruzharag the Misbegotten. I'm not sure if this is referring to material in an official D&D publication or not.

D&D 4th Edition

The Book of Vile Darkness

The main book in this little set has quotes from a lot of different D&D NPCs. There is one from Emirikol:

"This world, I fear, has outlived its usefulness." - Emirikol the Chaotic

D&D 5th Edition

Monster Manual

On page 60 there is a quote from Emirikol. It is placed on a page with stats of demons. That makes sense, I guess, because demons are chaotic.

I like that they've made an effort to keep Emirikol's name out there. It feels like it is time to do something major with him.

Dungeon Crawl Classics

Generally I try to keep these guides to "official" D&D stuff, but the DCC stuff I think really does a good job capturing the spirit of Emirikol. I assume they were able to use him through the 3rd edition SRD?

Lokerimon the Lawful

First off, we get an image in the DCC RPG rulebook which is somewhat familiar:

That's a pretty fun idea, to have Emirikol's lawful counterpart. Maybe he was created through some spell effect, where Emirikol accidentally created his exact opposite.

Emirikol's Entropic Maelstrom

This is a wizard spell on page 217 of the core rulebook. If anyone deserves a named spell, it is Emirikol.

This spell creates a maelstrom. "A bank of lightning-filled, purple-black fog appears, and the howling of the damned is heard with its misty confines."

In DCC RPG, when you cast a spell, you roll on a table. The higher the roll, the more powerful the effect.

At low levels, the maelstrom decays non-magic metal and organic materials. It gives weapons a -2 to hit and damage, and a -2 to AC. These are permanent effects! Worse, the next critical hit destroys the affected armor and weapons.

Higher Level versions of this spell:
  • All creatures age 2d10 years (elves age 2d10x10 years!).
  • All creatures must save or be transformed into glass, sand, tin, "dead vermin" or even primordial ooze.
  • The highest result: "All mortal creatures in the area of effect are torn apart by the uncaring, chaotic forces that reside in the heart of the cosmos."
They really don't mess around in the DCC RPG.

Emirikol Was Framed!

You can buy this adventure right here. Centuries ago, Emirikol had a lover named Leotah, who was also a powerful wizard. Emirikol basically dumped her to focus on Chaos. Since that time, the two have been quietly at war.

In this adventure, Leotah has a new scheme to mess with Emirikol. Yes, that's right. She's going to frame Emirikol for a crime he did not commit!

This whole adventure actually starts with what appears to be Emirikol riding a horse rampaging through the city. There's also winged gorillas, known here as "gorhellas."

Basically the heroes have to go to Emirikol's Tower and adventure their way through a bunch of crazy rooms to get to Emirikol. Once they do, we reach the big finale where, of course, Leotah shows up. It's up to the heroes to decide which side to take, if any.

We learn a bit more about Emirikol:
  • On the night of the new moon, Emirikol must sleep in a glass sarcophagus, breathing the vapors of a death head lotus to replenish his power.
  • Emirikol draws power from an artifact known as "The Glass Darkly." Destroying it may kill Emirikol as well.
  • Emirikol lives in The Shifting Tower...
The Shifting Tower

  • It is 200 feet tall and surrounded by a trapezoidal-shaped wall. 
  • It is located in a city.
  • The blocks immediately surrounding the tower are vacant. Nobody wants to live near Emirikol.
  • The tower's appearance shifts several times an hour. Sometimes it's made of crystal, sometimes it is a pillar of roiling flame (!), etc.
  • The exterior is guarded by a pterodactyl.
Inside the Tower: The walls have veins. If the walls are cracked, they will bleed crimson ichor. The windows are made from "crystallized sweat of demons."

The Golem Room: There's a room with golems on slabs that resemble Emirikol. A hero who is not careful will end up might end up getting their soul drawn into one. It is not pleasant.

The Cranium Library: This room has shelves lined with skulls. Each skull stores knowledge, which you can access by touching one.

Emirikol's Inner Sanctum: This room is mirrored, creating endless reflections in all directions. In the center of the room is a floating chair "shaped like a hollow metal sphere shaved in half."



Timothy S. Brannan said...

Fantastic analysis as usual.

Love the deep dive into these topics you do.

Sean said...

Timothy Brannan: Thanks! I am hoping someday to find out if that story about Emirikol being an actual character in a Gary Gygax-run game is true or not.

Unknown said...

Great job. I loved the article, but if that guy played Emirikol with Gary Gygax BEFORE 1978, he must be immortal. He looks a little too young for a guy in his fifties or sixties.

Zeromaru X said...

You left out two other 4e sources. In Heroes of Shadow (page 7), it's mentioned that Emirikol studied in the Ghostflame Spire, a tower near the city of Nera, which exists simultaneously in the world and the Shadowfell and is devoted to teaching destructive magical arts.

In Heroes of the Elemental Chaos, one of the magical theories of Emirikol is used to counter the magical theories of Mordenkainen and Rigby.

Anyways, great job.

Unknown said...

The setting of the original art, Emirikol riding along a street firing a spell as fighters emerge from the Green Griffin is an actual place on the island of Rhodos, Greece.

Jason said...

I was never aware that the Emirikol concept was developed beyond the original painting since I only ever played 1e. To me it is a little disappointing that he was developed as such a powerful character. I always saw him as a fourth or fifth level chaotic evil M-U taking his revenge on ordinary townspeople with magic missiles.

Thorr-kan said...

The 2E Wizard's Spell Compendium included Emirikol's Question spell.

Anonymous said...

Where does the 5% MR come from??