Aliases Lord of the Undead
Prince of the Undead
Prince of Undeath
Home 113th layer of the Abyss
Gender Male
Race Tanar'ri
Alignment Chaotic evil

Orcus is a demon lord and master of the undead.


Orcus is typically described as having the head and legs of a goat, although with ram-like horns, a bloated body, bat-like wings, and a long tail.

Orcus cares for nothing save himself - not even his devotees and undead servants - and focuses only on spreading misery and evil. One of his most identifiable symbols is the artifact, the wand of Orcus, a skull-topped wand with the power to slay any living being. In earlier editions of the game, Orcus also wielded a powerful artifact known as the Orcusword.


Like many of the most powerful demon lords who struggle for power in the Abyss, Orcus started his existence as a mortal on the Prime Plane. He was apparently a wicked spellcaster of some sort, most probably a priest to some dark deity. After his death, his soul, like the souls of all chaotic evil mortals, went to the Abyss and Orcus began his afterlife as a lowly larva.

Orcus proceeded to climb through the demonic ranks in the next several thousand years, going from larva] to mane, from mane to dretch, from dretch to rutterkin, from rutterkin to vrock, from vrock to glabrezu, from glabrezu to nalfeshnee and eventually a balor. From there, he ascended to the rank of demon lord, becoming the Prince of the Undead and ruling the layer of Thanatos, the Belly of Death. Even though there are other demon lords aspiring to the title of Prince of the Undead, Orcus' claim to the title went unchallenged for the most part. Ever hungry for more power, Orcus wanted to be recognized as "Prince of Demons", a title held by Demogorgon and coveted also by Graz'zt. As a result, he became the arch-enemy of both demon lords. In time, Orcus also achieved true godhood.

Orcus became the patron of the Red Wizard Zhengyi in the 900s DR, aiding him in his quest to become a lich. Priests of Orcus supported Zhengyi in 1347 DR, when Zhengyi created the Castle Perilous, giving the lich control over many undead creatures. Zhengyi attacked Damara in 1348 DR, finally bringing it under his control in 1357 DR. Zhengyi lost his power when Gareth Dragonsbane and his company banished Orcus's power from the realm by stealing his wand. Zhengyi's undead army disintegrated along with Castle Perilous and Zhengyi the Witch-King was defeated.

Shortly afterward, Orcus was slain by the drow demi-goddess Kiaransalee, who took over rulership of Orcus' layer of the Abyss and locked his (apparently restored) wand away in the last layer of Pandemonium. Kiaransalee decreed that Orcus' name be erased from all existence.

Despite the drow demi-goddess' efforts, Orcus was restored as an undead demon lord, renaming himself Tenebrous. As Tenebrous, Orcus discovered the Last Word, an utterance so powerful that it can destroy deities. The Last Word will also eventually kill those who know it unless the being is a true deity, and to restore himself to his lost divinity, Orcus went in search for his wand. During his search, Orcus killed several gods including Primus, God of the Modrons and Maanzecorian. Orcus' efforts were stymied by a group of adventurers and Orcus was again destroyed, this time by the power of the Last Word. A cabal of greater deities, in response to Tenebrous' predations, has since nullified the Last Word.

However, Orcus was resurrected by Quah-Nomag, one of his foremost high priests and thralls, in a blasphemous ritual he enacted in the Astral Plane. Orcus then reclaimed his kingdom and his original name, re-proclaiming himself Prince of the Undead, despite his hatred of undead. However, as a result of his second death and resurrection, Orcus has lost his divinity and is now a demon lord again.

Orcus' divinity now exists as a vestige, also named Tenebrous, and can be called upon by binders.


Orcus' realm is Thanatos, the 113th layer of the Abyss . It is a frigid and frozen layer infested with the undead. Several cities dotted the layer, (most of whom are ruled by minions of Orcus, including a powerful succubus and Quah-Nomag himself). He rules from his palace of Everlost in the bone meal desert of Oblivion's End north of a vast mountain chain (called the Final Hills) that cut across the layer. Despite Orcus regaining control over Thanatos, Kiaransalee's taint can still be found in the city of Naratyr on the Frozen Sea south of the layer, and in the so-called Forbidden Citadel in the city of Lachrymosa, located in the Final Hills.

Cult of Orcus

The cult of Orcus is mainly composed of twisted creatures with a morbid fascination with the undead, such as necromancers, as well as creatures deliberately seeking the path to unlife, such as would-be liches and vampires.

Orcus has a chance of hearing his name whenever and wherever spoken, and of reacting by manifesting to the speaker in an irritated mood. Unscrupulous merchants in various parts of the D&D have used this by selling parrots trained to speak only innocuous phrases until at a predetermined location, when they scream Orcus' name non-stop. This summons the demon, who slays the adventurer, allowing his or her equipment to be looted by the merchant's associates.

Wand of Orcus

The Wand of Orcus is a powerful artifact. This skull-tipped wand has the ability to automatically slay any living creature it touches. The Wand is highly coveted across the planes, and Orcus sometimes lets it fall into the hands of mortals in order to allow them to wreak chaos and evil.

The wand is currently thought to be in the possession of a cult called the Lurkers In Shadow.

The Orcusword

The Orcusword was Orcus's personal weapon when he was still a balor. It is currently held in Tchian-Sumere, Orcus's fortress on the Negative Energy Plane


The following beings are some of Orcus's most infamous servants:

  • Acererak. The infamous lich Acererak was once a servant of Orcus, long ago.
  • Elder Arantham, a huecuva priest, formerly devoted to Bahamut, who seeks to transform Orcus once again into a true god.
  • Bleeding Setch, a cambion, was once a proxy of Orcus. He went into hiding after Orcus's demise, but it is not clear whether or not he has returned to the service of the Prince of Undeath.
  • Eldanoth, a former vassal of Orcus who abandoned Thanatos when the wards keeping him enslaved to the Prince of Undeath were broken by the demon lord's death. He now dwells on the 359th layer of the Abyss, seeking to become a god of hate and crime.
  • Eldrua, a derro savant who sought to build a device that would siphon thousands of souls to her master in the Abyss.
  • Glyphimhor is a balor who serves Orcus faultlessly and enjoys slaying Kiaransalee's faithful.
  • Hacamuli is one of the messengers of Orcus. He appears as a pale, gaunt horse with hazy black eyes. Flies crawl over his sore-infested body.
  • Harthoon is a powerful lich sorcerer from the material plane. He is Orcus's vizier and a master embalmer.
  • Kauvra is a deadly half-orc vampire known for her rages. She is Orcus's personal enforcer.
  • Khuul the Witch-Ghoul was one of Orcus's greatest servants. Khuul was slain centuries ago by Saint Bane.
  • Khavra Akti, a grey elven wizard who hopes to aid Orcus in annexing the world of the dead to his Abyssal realm.
  • Kierno Varim, a tiefling warlock known as the "mad animator," who believes that if the undead ever outnumber the dead, reality will rearrange itself so that undeath is the natural order.
  • The King of Ghouls, who served Orcus before his layer was conquered by Yeenoghu.
  • Mauglurien, a dwarven death knight rival of Elder Arantham. Mauglurien hopes to elevate Orcus by slaying an existing goddess of death and reanimating her as an undead thrall. Mauglurien leads a mercenary company called the Ebon Riders.
  • Quah-Nomag is a half-ogre Skull King who was pivotal in Lord Orcus's return. He now inhabits Lash Embrar, having been stationed there after Orcus tired of his pretentions.
  • Shonvurru, an undead marilith who seeks to alter reality by studying or controlling elder evils from the dawn of time.
  • Sithas Tyrr, a "paladin" of Orcus who seeks to change the world by controlling something that even the gods fear.
  • Xerivar, a bloody animated corpse with three quasits continually tearing at his flesh.
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