Vatun (VAY-tun) is the god of Northern Barbarians, Cold, Winter, and Arctic Beasts. His symbol is the sun setting on a snowy landscape. Though rather popular among the Suel barbarians of the Thillonrian Peninsula, Vatun was not worshipped in the Suloise Imperium.
Vatun appears as a massive Suel barbarian dressed in the skins of polar bears. His beard is made of snow and ice, and his breath is a frozen fog. He wields a mighty battleaxe called Winter's Bite, made completely of ice.
The name of Vatun's previous divine realm is unknown. He is currently imprisoned in an unknown demiplane.
Vatun teaches that winter is an opportunity to cull the weak from the strong, and that cowards should be covered by snow and forgotten. The Great God of the North also speaks of a "Great Winter" which will cover the land, allowing the northern barbarians to inherit the Oerth.
Vatun's priests are charged with aiding their tribe in battle, helping their people survive winter, and healing the injured members of their community. The most capable priests seek the legendary Five Blades of Corusk, which will free Vatun if the five are united. Their favored weapon is the battleaxe.
Vatun's priests preach that cowardice is to be despised, and that Telchur's faith is to always be opposed, preferably with violence. They are also foes of devils and those who serve them.
Vatun's imprisonment has made it more difficult for his priests to use their magic. In order to prepare and cast spells, they need to be within ten feet of a burning flame, no smaller than a torch.
Legend says that some time after the Invoked Devastation and the Rain of Colorless Fire, when the fleeing Suel houses of the Fruztii, Cruski, and Schnai had settled the Thillonrian Peninsula, a great barbarian empire was created by the warriors of Vatun, hailed as "the Great God of the North." Vatun himself was said to have granted the title of "Fasstal of all the Suelii" to the king of the Cruski, a title which made the bearer preeminent among all the nobles of the Suel, and granted him the authority to pronounce judgement on any member of the Suel race. This great empire, if it did indeed exist, lasted only as long as the first fasstal's lifetime.
About the same time as the Battle of a Fortnight's Length (-110 CY), Vatun was imprisoned by priests of Telchur, who were perhaps aided by Telchur's associate Belial. Vatun's imprisonment is said by some to have caused the fall of the barbarian empire.
In 582 CY, Vatun was said to have finally returned to Oerth, appearing on the Thillonrian Peninsula. Vatun successfully united the Frost, Ice, and Snow Barbarians, along with the natives of the Hold of Stonefist, and led this great force to invade Tenh, an event which kick-started the Greyhawk Wars. However, it wasn't long before this "Vatun" was revealed to be the demigod Iuz, and the alliance soon fell apart.
As of 591 CY, the real Vatun remains imprisoned. His brother, the god Dalt, constantly searches for ways to free him.
Myths and legends
The Departure of Vatun
Some legends claim that Vatun was betrayed by a companion deity. Others blame Telchur entirely. There is also a myth that says the barbarians proved unworthy of their patron, so he withdrew of his own accord.
Vatun was first mentioned in Five Shall Be One (1991) as the "Great God of the North," or simply the "Great God." He was also known by this name in that module's sequel, Howl From the North (1191). It was not until the release of the (Greyhawk) Wars boxed set (1991) that the name "Vatun" appeared. The deity only received casual mention in successive products until 1999's The Scarlet Brotherhood, when he and his priesthood were finally fleshed out. Vatun was further detailed in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000), and later received a short write-up in Frostburn (2004).
Many fans of the World of Greyhawk setting note that Vatun shares many characteristics with the Norse god Odin, and point out that Robert J. Kuntz's character, Lord Robilar, was a follower of Odin in the early days of Gary Gygax's campaign, before the setting was published. Noted similarities include the the god's name ("Vatun" is very similar to "Wotan," the High German form of "Wōden," Odin's Anglo-Saxon equivalent), his strong association with the vikingesque culture of the Suel barbarians, and his association (at least the false Vatun/Iuz depicted in Howl From the North) with wolves (Odin was accompanied by a pair of wolves named Geri and Freki).
- Baur, Wolfgang, James Jacobs, and George Strayton. Frostburn. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2004.
- Conforti, Steven, ed. Living Greyhawk Official Listing of Deities for Use in the Campaign, version 2.0. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2005. Available online:
- Cook, David. "History of the Greyhawk Wars." Wars. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1991. Available Online: 
- Holian, Gary, Erik Mona, Sean K Reynolds, and Frederick Weining. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2000.
- Sargent, Carl. Five Shall Be One. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1991.
- -----. From the Ashes. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1992.