|Title(s)||The World Born Dead|
|Home Plane||Prime Material Plane (Greyspace, or outer space in general)|
|Portfolio||prime mover, the first cause|
Atropus, known as the World Born Dead, is an undead planetoid whose coming is a harbinger of death and destruction.
Once a great power, little remains of Atropus but a decaying, disembodied head the size of a small moon (700 miles in diameter), apparently made of black stone, heavily cratered, and covered with foul amniotic fluid. It is barren and rocky, roughly spherical and with mountainous ridges, deep trenches, and sharp spikes upthrusting from the ground. Noxious tar bubbles up from the craters. Glossy black stones each 40 miles in diameter form its eyes. The atropals—stillborn gods—are said to be cast-off detritus from Atropus's substance. Undead conjured from nightmares also inhabit the world, and the master of them all is a headless, alien humanoid that is the focus of Atropus's incomprehensible intellect.
Atropus has low gravity and no atmosphere.
Atropus is believed by some sages to be the ultimate ancestor of all the gods. It is served by Gorguth, a bodak who formerly served Orcus, and by an ur-priestess called Caira Xasten. It is also served by the various undead that live upon its mass, including famine spirits and angels of decay.
Atropus drifts slowly through the cosmic void, seeking out signs of life. Because the darkness between worlds is vast, Atropus has been out there a very long time. To those on a world Atropus has chosen, it appears as a small speck in the sky that grows ever bigger as Atropus approaches, until it dominates the heavens. It begins its orbit just beyond the world's most distant moon and spirals inwards, picking up speed as it loses altitude. It always remains on the dark side of the world, keeping away from the light of the sun.
Stripped of its primal creative power, Atropus bitterly regrets its original decision to bring life into the universe. It now desires only to take back its gift by traveling from world to world and stripping them of all life, leaving only undead in its wake. It suspects that once all life is extinguished, the gods too will die, and finally Atropus will cease to exist as well.
Atropus has no worshippers and, apart from Caira Xasten, no mortal followers.
Myths and legends
Certain scholars have compared the creation myths of the dwarves, the oral traditions of the grey elves, and the collected writings of Acererak collected from the Black Spire on the Plane of Shadow to arrive at a controversial conclusion: the eldest gods first sprang into existence due to the self-sacrifice of a "prime mover" who has since transformed from a being of creation to one of pure destructive force. The reasoning seems to be that for life to exist, there must be death, and that the creation of living beings must have changed the creator into a creature of negative energy. Atropus is also mentioned in the in-game artifact known as the Book of Vile Darkness (as opposed to the real-world book published by Wizards of the Coast, which does not mention Atropus).
The asteroid known as Reaper in the Grinder became infested with undead after colliding with another celestial body. The world of Gnibile in Greyspace became entirely populated by undead due to an unknown cataclysm long ago. The Pits of Azak-Zil were created by a meteorite that infected the area with the curse of undeath. There's no official connection between these undeath-related cosmic events and Atropus, but connections could be created if desired.
Atropus is named for Atropos, the Greek goddess of fate and destiny.
- Schwalb, Robert J. Elder Evils. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2007.