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Greyhawk Deity
Gruumsh, as depicted in Deities & Demigods (2002).
Title(s) One-Eye, He Who Never Sleeps, the One-Eyed God, He Who Watches
Home Plane Infernal Battlefield of Acheron
Power Level Greater
Gender Male
Alignment Chaotic evil (lawful evil in previous editions)
Portfolio Orcs, Conquest, Strength, Survival, Territory
Domains Chaos, Destruction, Domination, Evil, Mysticism, Strength, Tyranny, War
Superior None

Gruumsh (pronounced groomsh), also known as Gruumsh One-Eye, is the patron deity of orcs, who regard him as the god of Conquest, Survival, Strength, and Territory. His symbol is an empty eye socket, or a single unwinking eye. His sacred animal is the giant rat.


Gruumsh appears as a powerful orc with one eye. 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.


Gruumsh's divine realm is the Iron Fortress on the cube of Nishrek in Acheron. Gruumsh rules three of the cube's sides directly, while Bahgtru rules two of the sides and Ilneval rules the remaining side. The fortress towns of Rotting Eye, White Hand, and Three Fang all lie under Gruumsh's direct control, while Baghtru controls Iron Fist and Broken Skull, and Ilneval controls Blood Armor. Luthic's realm, and the settlement of Black Claw, is said to lie in the cube's heart, where she waits in the darkness and sends forth plagues.

Gruumsh shares his home in the Iron Fortress with his son Bahgtru and his lieutenant Ilneval.

Nishrek is riddled with tunnels for the orcish troops to dwell in. They are chaotically arranged, and the tunnels meander; the streets and trenches of Nishrek wind and meander, the strongholds set haphazardly. Nishrek is scored with four deep trenches on its sides and two more in the center to form a cross. Ghouls and worse are said to haunt the deep lower passages. In each orcish city, the four quarters of the town all surround the central eye and pyramid of Gruumsh's great temple.

Orcs and their allies - orogs, ogres, ogrillions, and sometimes yugoloth mercenaries - are the only creatures tolerated here.


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.


The holy symbol of Gruumsh.

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 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.

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.


Gruumsh's priests wear dark red vestments, war helms, and black plate mail. Their favored weapon is the spear.

Holy days, temples, and rituals

Gruumsh's holy day is the new moon, and he is worshiped in orcish lairs. A sacrifice of blood is made to him monthly.

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. One extreme rite involves voluntary impalement with a spear, symbolic of Gruumsh's suffering at the hands of rival gods. If the initiate survives this impalement for a day or more, they are tentatively accepted into the fold. Cultists are called upon to continually prove their devotion through various means.

Smaller orcish tribes often raid nearby villages and harass those who intrude into lands they believe are rightfully theirs. Elf and dwarf settlements are likely targets, but any non-orcs are considered fair game.

"Gruumsh sees only victory!" and "Blood for the One-Eye!" are common oaths, as is "By his bloody spear!"

Myths and legends

Gruumsh makes homes for his people, as depicted in Dragon #62 (1982).

The Eye of Gruumsh

In a past time, Gruumsh had two eyes but he lost one in a fight with the chief elven god Corellon Larethian. Myths say that Gruumsh had become enraged when he saw the newly formed bodies of the elves, viewing them as an abomination. Accordingly, he gathered like-minded deities into an army meant to crush the Seldarine and their own allies. Gruumsh meant to paralyze Corellon with his magical spear; this attack failed and initiated an epic battle. During the course of this battle Gruumsh injured Corellon and, according to legend, from the blood shed by Corellon the elven people were brought to life, while the blood shed by Gruumsh was used to create the orcs. Corellon ended the fight by putting out Gruumsh's left eye, which is how Gruumsh earned his moniker "One-Eye." Some orcish clerics deny this tale, dismissing it as elven propaganda, and claim that Gruumsh always had one eye.

The Creation

Gruumsh created the orcs from his own blood and hatred, in his own image, to be his servants in the world but was cheated out of a home for his people by the other gods, according to the following excerpt by Roger E. Moore from Dragon #62:

In the beginning all the gods met and drew lots for the parts of the world in which their representative races would dwell. The human gods drew the lot that allowed humans to dwell where they pleased, in any environment. The elven gods drew the green forests, the dwarven deities drew the high mountains, the gnomish gods the rocky, sunlit hills, and the halfling gods picked the lot that gave them the fields and meadows. Then the assembled gods turned to the orcish gods and laughed loud and long. "All the lots are taken!" they said tauntingly. "Where will your people dwell, One-Eye? There is no place left!"

There was silence upon the world then, as Gruumsh One-Eye lifted his great iron spear and stretched it over the world. The shaft blotted the sun over a great part of the lands as he spoke: "No! You Lie! You have rigged the drawing of the lots, hoping to cheat me and my followers. But One-Eye never sleeps. One-Eye sees all. There is a place for orcs to dwell…here!," he bellowed, and his spear pierced the mountains, opening a mighty rift and chasms. "And here!," and the spearhead split the hills and made them shake and covered them in dust. "And here!," and the black spear gouged the meadows and made them bare.

"There!" roared He-Who-Watches triumphantly, and his voice carried to the ends of the world. "There is where the orcs shall dwell! There they will survive, and multiply, and grow stronger, and a day will come when they cover the world, and they will slay all of your collective peoples! Orcs shall inherit the world you sought to cheat me of!"

Creative origins

Gruumsh was created by James M. Ward for the Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia (1980).


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  • McComb, Colin. The Complete Book of Elves. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1992.
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