When it comes to Greyhawk, the world is populated by some truly horrendous folks… and these are five of the worst people on Oerth.
Greyhawk, as a setting, might live in the shadow of its younger sibling, Forgotten Realms, or its cooler cousins, Dark Sun, Planescape, and even Spelljammer (Spelljammer is definitely the setting most likely to be either on a skateboard or wearing sunglasses but eating comically in a 90s movie). But it is full of many of D&D’s most iconic figures. If you’ve cast a spell with someone’s name in it, odds are good they’re from here. Greyhawk is one of the original settings, and today we’re looking at some of the worst people in that world.
Okay when it comes to being terrible, Acererak (pronounced “Ah-sair-ack”) is one of the best places to start. He is the original evil wizard that did it. Acererak built the legendary Tomb of Horrors, which is about as casually cruel as you can get. But beyond that, he’s also the son of a balor, so he’s literally an evil wizard and a demon. Acererak has done all kinds of pretty monstrous things and loves to play with Spheres of Annihilation, leaving them where an adventurer can just stick their head inside and that’s the end of that. He was an apprentice of Vecna, which brings us to…
That’s right, Vecna, god of undeath and secrets or possibly just really powerful at being a lich, he is probably one of the iconic evil wizards out of Greyhawk. Powerful enough to have two separate artifacts in the book, there is nothing pleasant about Vecna. He wrote a significant chunk of the Book of Vile Darkness, a literal evil book that your character might find–nothing good can come from finding anything even remotely associated with Vecna. Not to mention the atrocities that he’s borne out on people in Greyhawk. He destroyed the city of Fleeth, slaughtering the entire population.
And that’s before he became a god, maybe, or is trapped in Ravenloft, depending on what edition you’re playing in.
Iggwilv, who also wrote an evil book, the Demonomicon of Iggwilv, is another of Greyhawk’s evil mages. She is unimaginatively the daughter of Baba Yaga, yes, that Baba Yaga, and once she slips out into the world, Iggwilv is responsible for a whole number of terrible things. Not the least of which is summoning and imprisoning multiple demon lords, including Graz’zt and Fraz-Urb’luu, from whom she stole many secrets.
Zagyg Yragerne is E. Gary Gygax spelled backwards, and Zagyg is the god of Humor, Eccentricity, Occult Lore, and Unpredictability in Greyhawk because Gygax was a very subtle man who decided his self-insert character should be a literal god in his own world. It does cast a disturbing light on the “scandalous apprenticeship” of Iggwilv (because Zagyg took her as an apprentice), and for the most part, Zagyg goes around just imprisoning beings at the behest of Boccob. He famously “promotes enlightened neutrality and uncertain humor” and delights in “imposing his jokes on all he meets, preferably in a way that leaves them wondering for some time afterwards,” which is all you need to know.
Mordenkainen, on the other hand, is probably the worst person on Oerth. He’s the head of a vast circle of “enlightened mages” who consider themselves above it all known as the 8. And is fanatically devoted to neutrality, to the point where he will go out of his way to destroy powerful evil beings as well as powerful good beings just to keep things balanced. He’s the king of “well I’m comfortable where I am, so I must fight to maintain my status quo.” Mordenkainen is the sort of wizard who just wants to know what’s so great about good, and what’s so bad, really, about evil. He’s just asking, just wanting to promote discussion but if you’re not going to answer him, that just proves his point.
Mordenkainen is the That Guy of That Guys, is what I’m saying.
Who would you say are the worst people on Oerth?