Gruumsh, also known as Gruumsh One-Eye, is the patron deity of orcs, who regard him as the god of conquest, survival, strength, and territory.
As the undisputed leader of the orcish pantheon and creator of the orcs, Gruumsh One-Eye drives his followers to overcome all foes, expand their territories, and claim what they believe is rightfully theirs. He revels in warfare and combat, and teaches that only through constant warfare can the strongest, most brutal orcs survive to beget even stronger future generations. One-Eye epitomizes the brutal savagery and drive to dominate all other creatures that is at the heart of orc society. All those with orcish blood venerate Gruumsh, except those few who have turned their back on their evil and savage heritage. He is ever watchful of his race, although woe betide those who transgress him or his priests.
As orcs that are not clerics or adepts are forbidden to speak his name, Gruumsh is also known as "One-Eye," "The One-Eyed God," "He-Who-Never-Sleeps," and "He-Who-Watches."
The church of Gruumsh dominates most orcish tribes, and all other priesthoods are nominally subservient to it. Powerful specialty priests, clerics, and crusaders of Gruumsh are sometimes tribal chieftains, but more often they are advisors and war leaders, whereas shamans and witch-doctors are almost always advisors. They push their tribes to wage war and expand their territory, and are tasked with eliminating the weak, sickly, and infirm in order to keep the tribe strong and healthy. One-Eye's clergy can be very vindictive; they do not hesitate to put an orc into a dangerous situation, or eliminate them outright, if they feel they have been slighted. Gruumshan priests have great say in who becomes chief of a tribe, and the clergy will undermine a chief who opposes their goals.
VestmentsThe ceremonial garb of Gruumsh's priests varies from tribe to tribe, but always includes a ceremonial iron spear, which is usually used to slay sacrifices. Blacks and dark reds are predominant whatever type of garments they wear as well, and the priests always wear some form of ceremonial armor, painted black, and some priests also don a red-painted open-faced helmet. Their holy symbol is made of black iron whenever possible, although if iron working skills are lacking in the tribe, carved stone or wood is a suitable replacement. The symbol usually is hung from the neck on a thong or chain, and the priest always includes trophies from past sacrifices and defeated enemies (teeth, ears, etc.) on it as well.
When adventuring, travelling, or going to war, priests of Gruumsh always utilize the best armor they can find, and will paint it black, if possible. They wear their holy symbol as above, and utilize either a spear or the best weapon they are proficient in. All their other clothing and equipment is indistinguishable from any other orc's gear.
HierarchyNovices in the service of One-Eye are called the Watched. Full priests are known as Everwatchers. There is no uniform hierarchy amongst the tribes, and the chief priest position is always held by the strongest orc. Specialty priests are known as Bloodspears. Shamans and witch doctors are not part of the clerical hierarchy, although they are considered brothers of the faith. Shamans are found in a bit more than twice as many Gruumsh-dominated tribes as witch doctors.
TemplesThe priesthood of He Who Watches does not build many temples. They usually perform their services in a specially designated area within the tribal encampment, or in a nearby cave or grotto. When orcish tribes have taken the homes of elves, dwarves, gnomes, or other intelligent creatures they will frequently defile their temples and use them for their own religious ceremonies. The few Gruumshan temples that have been built tend to resemble small, squat fortresses made of large, dark stone blocks. The interiors are dark, dirty, and frequently covered in the dried blood of old ceremonies. It is common for such temples to contain small shrines dedicated to the other gods of the orcish pantheon, with the exception of Shargaas and Yurtrus, as well.
RitualsHe Who Watches requires frequent sacrifices, on at least a weekly basis. The typical method of sacrifice involves securing a creature to a steeply angled altar and piercing their torso with a ceremonial iron spear; these are always designed to be wounds that cause a slow death, and the blood drains into a pool at the base of the altar. This kind of sacrifice is symbolic of Gruumsh's suffering at the hands of rival gods. Elven victims are preferred, but any creature will do.
"Gruumsh sees only victory!" and "Blood for the One-Eye!" are common oaths, as is "By his bloody spear!"
OrdersThe most devout followers of He Who Never Sleeps are a cabal known as the Fury of the Eye, the most zealous and ruthless orcish religious movement. They actively seek to drive their tribes toward conquest and the annihilation of their enemies. More moderate members of the Fury of the Eye seek to more pragmatically enslave their foes, reasoning the weak exist to serve the strong. Initiation to the Fury of the Eye may include acts of sacrifice to One-Eye or the enslavement of particularly reviled foes of the orcs.
Outside orcish lands, half-orcs and other humanoids act as the eyes and ears of the Fury of the Eye cult, as they tend to be more accepted by other races. Given time, they may grow to treat mixed-race groups such as adventuring bands with the same devotion they would show an orcish tribe.
The Swords of Gruumsh is an military group associated with One-Eye's church. They are composed entirely fighter/priests, and specialty priests. It is believed that this organization was created through direct intervention by Gruumsh on all worlds where he is worshiped. Swords of Gruumsh operate in groups of no more than six individuals (although there is no limit to the number of groups). In all cases, they specialize in combating elves and dwarves (+1 to attack, on top of any other bonuses they may have), and seek them out above all other enemies. When operating independently, they search out small enclaves of elves, dwarves, and their allies, and attempt to completely wipe them out.
Gruumsh teaches his followers that the strong are meant to rule and the weak are meant to be crushed, their flesh rended and their blood spilled, their bodies killed or enslaved, because purging the world of weakness is what is best for all. Slavery is usually only a brief reprieve before death. Runts and cripples are more than just a burden on society, but a sign of Gruumsh's disfavor, marked by their weakness for elimination. That which does not kill an orc only makes them stronger.
Non-evil followers of Gruumsh take a more moderate approach. They do not automatically kill or enslave non-orcs, and even dwarves and elves may be spared if they are not automatically hostile. They do, however, seek to prove orcish superiority at every opportunity through contests of strength and martial skill.
Gruumsh appears as a huge orc with one eye and a huge muscular chest, scarred from various battles. He usually has on a heavy fur cloak, a necklace of large fangs, and a belt of skulls. A figure of fury and driven cruelty, Gruumsh rules his pantheon with brute power. His favored weapon is the spear.
Gruumsh is the husband of Luthic and father of Bahgtru. Ilneval is his most capable lieutenant.
Gruumsh considers himself supreme, and considers every non-orc his enemy, holding special enmity for some. Gruumsh hates Corellon Larethian with a passion. He spreads this hatred to all of the Seldarine, especially Sehanine Moonbow, who fooled the orcish god many times to protect Corellon and her other family members. Gruumsh also loathes Moradin and the dwarven pantheon.
One of Gruumsh's greatest enemies is the goblin deity Maglubiyet. Gruumsh controls a mighty spirit-army of orcs in Acheron that wars continuously with the spirits of goblins under Maglubiyet's command. The orcs claim that their spirits always defeat the goblins, but the goblins always reform to battle again.
In his own pantheon, Gruumsh rules over all the other gods (although Shargaas and Yurtrus bear him little real loyalty beyond that made from fear), and has his orders carried out through his lieutenant Ilneval.
MythologyOrcish myth has much to say about Gruumsh and his directives to his followers. Their belief that it is their destiny to conquer and destroy the lands of the elves, dwarves, halflings, humans, and other races stems from a particular legend, which can vary somewhat from telling to telling and tribe to tribe, but whose basic elements are always the same. In this story, which takes place at the dawn of time shortly after the creation of the multiverse, the gods gathered to draw lots to determine in which areas of the worlds each race would live. The lot drawn by the gods of the elves gave them the verdant woodlands, the dwarven gods drew the lot that gave them the riches under the mountains, the gods of the gnomish peoples drew the lot for the rocky, sunlit hills, the halfling gods drew the lot for the meadows and rolling hills, and the gods of the humans drew the lot that allowed them to live wherever they pleased. With all the lots taken, they taunted the orcish gods that there was no place left for their race. Decrying their rigging of the lots, He Who Watches took his great spear and smote the lands, opening up great rifts and leaving fields stark and bare, and declared his peoples would live in those areas, survive, and grow strong, and one day, would slaughter all those who sought to cheat them of their right.
Other great myths relating to One-Eye are sometimes connected directly to the previous myth, and relate to orcish conflicts with the elves and dwarves specifically, rather than everyone in general. The myth surrounding the elves has a parallel in elven mythology, and relates the great battle fought between Gruumsh and Corellon Larethian. Unlike the elven myth, however, the orcs deny that the Creator of the Elves took One-Eye's other eye. In the orcish version, Corellon could not win in a fair fight and used magic to trick and cheat Gruumsh of his rightful victory. It is for this reason that orcs fear and hate most magic use, and go out of their way to destroy and despoil elven homelands. The tales of the battles between the orc gods and the dwarf gods for control of the mountains mirrors the previous tale in many ways.