Elder Evils are ancient evil beings of immense power whose existence threatens the world. Some Elder Evils are gods, while others are merely god like beings, such as extremely powerful Fiends and creatures of the Far Realm. The concept of Elder Evils was first talked about in the book Lords of Madness, which lists five beings of immense power that are respected by the Aboleths as the closest thing they have to gods. Later, the Splatbook Elder Evils went into detail about how to use Elder Evils in a campaign. Elder Evils are also mentioned in 4th and 5th edition.
Lords of Madness
- Bolothamogg, Him Who Watches from Beyond the Stars: A primal force that keeps the multiverse separated from the outer dimensions.
- Holashner, the Hunger Below: A gigantic centipede squid thing that eats its way through the material plane, leaving behind a black substance that can be compressed into Bilestone, a substance that debilitates non-aberrations.
- Piscaethces, The Blood Queen: The origin of aboleths. She wanders throughout the multiverse spawning new aboleths. If she were to ever return aboleths would see it as proof that the multiverse isn't infinite.
- Shothotugg, Eater of Worlds: A mass of liquid that travels between worlds, poisoning and parasitizing them and slowly changing the laws of the multiverse as it does so.
- Y'chak, The Violet Flame: A pillar of violet flames concealing a form so horrifying it would destroy anyone who looked at it. It encourages mortals to worship evil gods and may be responsible for the creation of many of those gods.
Elder Evils (the book)
The book Elder Evils was released near the end of 3.5 edition as a tool for dungeon masters wanting to end their current campaign and switch to 4th edition. The Elder Evils described in the book are entities with the potential to end the world, and thus end the campaign if the players fail to stop them, or act as a satisfyingly epic final boss for the players. The book instructs the DM on how to base a campaign around stopping one of these beings. The book does not describe every detail of the campaigns like most books, but instead gives a general outline of the plot, plus the stats for major enemies the players will encounter, and details of the final dungeon, and what adjustments to make if the campaign is set in Faerun or Eberron. Many of them are not stated, as they are too powerful when fully unleashed for the players to stop, but instead only have stats for an aspect of them.
Known as The World Born Dead, Atropus is a moon sized undead creature that is as old as creation and desires the end of all life. It destroys worlds by crashing on them and then draining them of all positive energy. Atropus cannot be destroyed, but the players can drive it away. As Atropus approaches the world necromancy spells become more powerful and the dead begin to rise as undead spontaneously. Atropus itself has no stats, but the Aspect of Atropus is a CR 23 undead. Atropus is also infested with many kinds of undead, including famine spirits, advanced deathshriekers, rage winds, angels of decay, nightcrawlers, nightwalkers, nightwings, dread wraiths, and a single dread boneyard. Atropus is also a very hostile environment with no atmosphere unless it is about to collide with the world, and has a variety of effects that harm the living and boost the undead.
In the suggested campaign, Caira Xasten (human, level 5 bard, level 5 rogue, level 10 Ur-Priest) wants to attract Atropus to destroy the world to get revenge on the gods, blaming them for the death of her husband who was killed by a falling meteorite. To do this she and her cult first seek out a book about Atropus, then try to obtain the Book of Vile Darkness in order to learn the apocalypse of the sky spell which she will attempt to cast on a large city to attract Atropus with the mass death. Meanwhile, the world is also invaded by a powerful general of Orcus who also wants to summon Atropus named Gorguth (Bodak, level 2 ranger, level 1 fighter, level 9 blackguard), who rides on a powerful construct named Skyshadow and leading his own army of the undead to cause mass death. After failing to stop either one of them, the players then must travel to Atropus and battle against a variety of undead monsters until they find and defeat the aspect of Atropus, which will cause Atropus to retreat.
Father Llymic is an entity from the Far Realm that sleeps in an icy prison that melts in darkness and thickens in sunlight. It wants to remake the world to be more hospitable to itself and its children. Which it then creates by spreading a plague that turns the infected into creatures like itself, which are known as brood spawn. The more people Father Llimic infects, the more he comes out of his sleep, and as it awakes the sun starts to go out, and darkness spells grow stronger while light spells weaken. He is called Father Llymic because he often projects an illusion of a friendly old man. Its true form is a massive demon like creature with scythes for arms, three eyes, and skin covered in icy crystal, with a CR of 18. Beings converted into brood spawn gain similar features.
In the suggested campaign, the player are sent to investigate the disappearance of a caravan that was attacked by a tribe of barbarians that worship Father Llymic. After this a huge glacier and icy weather spreads down from the mountain where Father Llymic is imprisoned and strange ice monsters start attacking people. Soon whole towns and villages are transformed into brood spawn as the weather gets worse and worse while the sun gets darker and darker. The players must travel up the mountain while battling through mad cultists and many kinds of brood spawn to face and defeat Father Llymic.
The Hulks of Zoretha
The Hulks of Zoretha are five giants made of stone from another world that plan to exterminate all life on this plane to make room for them to repopulate it with their own kind. As they awaken, the moon turns red, causing people to experience uncontrollable rage. Four of the hulks are female and are each associated with a different element while the last one is male and has wings. They are also completely indestructible as long as they are asleep. All of them are CR 16.
In the suggested campaign, Soelma Nilaenish (elf, level 7 wizard, level 10 loremaster, level 1 rogue) hires the party to recover a copy of the Zoretha Scrolls, then later hires them again to protect the scrolls. She then travels with the party to stop the leader of the cult of Zoretha, Janwulf the Soulbiter (ice giant, level 11 bard). But after Janwulf is defeated Soelma betrays the party and takes control of the cult herself. Soelma is in fact horribly depressed and wants the world to be destroyed, while the old leader of the cult, Janwulf actually had no interest in waking up the hulks and just wanted power. The party then stops Soelma from completing the ritual to wake up the hulks but the moon doesn't return to normal and the whole world is at war. A single cultist escapes from the players and finishes the ritual to wake up the hulks and the players must then destroy them.
An immense sea monster that will destroy the world if it ever wakes up. As it gets close to awakening, the world is affected by extreme weather. The Leviathan does not have stats, as it is too big for the players to fight, but the players may battle against aspects of the leviathan, which are CR 16, or an advanced aspect, which is CR 20.
In the suggested campaign, the players save a port town from a disaster and are sent to investigate the cause of the strange weather. The party then encounters an defeats a cult that worships the leviathan, but their leader, a mysterious man named Enshaddon, escapes. Enshaddon is actually an advanced vampiric Ixitxachitl with 16 cleric levels named Axihuatl. He is a worshiper of Demogorgon and wants to partially wake up the leviathan using a shard of chaos in order to flood the world. After the players first disrupt his plans, he sends Marcus Hape (human, level 4 rogue, level 4 assassin, level 4 thrall of Demogogon) to kill them. With the help of a sage named Mytus who provides the players with magic and equipment for underwater travel, the players attack a temple located in a hollow spine on the leviathan's back and interrupt Axihuatl's ritual to wake up the leviathan, causing him to lose control of the beast. Axihuatl then allies with the players because he does not want the leviathan to completely destroy the world. They must then travel deeper into the temple and throw the shard of chaos into a pit at the bottom to put the leviathan back to sleep.
In ancient times, a group of wizards wanted to blackmail the gods. So they summoned a powerful eldritch abomination from "the space 'between' the planes" named Pandorym, contracted it to destroy all the gods, immediately sealed it away before it could do so by imprisoning its mind and body separately, and used the threat of its reunification as the divine blackmail. Fortunately the wizards didn't implement a deadman's switch or anything, so the gods smote their stupid asses when they heard their first demands and wiped the group from the face of history. If made whole, Pandorym will first take revenge on the descendants of the wizards that imprisoned it, then kill all the gods as it was contracted to do. If the contract's completion doesn't return it "home", it'll destroy the universe out of frustration/boredom.
Pandorym's mindless body resembles a huge Sphere of Annihilation that moves towards anyone that tries to control it, which is kept in an unknown extradimensional prison. Pandorym's mind is sealed within a large near-indestructible crystal and is immensely powerful even without its body; the tiny leakage through the crystal is enough to corrupt nearby high level characters and obliterate the minds of weaker-willed folks, a small "fragment" of its mind is a CR 25 Psionic threat, and the fully released mind is an unstatted behemoth that only divine intervention could stop...
...so it's unfortunate that Pandorym's sign interferes with the planar connections of the world (via a sky-spanning glyph) and makes conjuration+divine magic increasingly difficult as its mind gains influence. Presumably its fully released mind would completely block the world off and make divine intervention near impossible.
In the suggested campaign, Tune Majii (human, Level 2 bard, level 2 wizard) hires the player to find her missing father Lucather (quell, level 8 enchanter, level 10 loremaster), who has become enslaved to Pandorym. Meanwhile, the gods begin sending their mortal followers warnings that somebody is trying to unleash an unimaginably powerful evil. This person turns out to be the Inevitable named Obligatum VII (kolyarut, level 3 Hexblade, level 5 Occult Slayer), our wiki's literal poster child of Lawful Stupid. Obligatum VII wants to release Pandorym because the poor old eldritch abomination entered into a bad-faith contract and must receive rightful legal remedy for the indignity, regardless of the god-ending possibly-universe-ending consequences. The players will have to travel to the prison where Pandorym's mind is kept and defeat Lucather and Obligatum VII before they can smash the crystal open with Obligatum's adamantine sword. If the players succeed, they may have to travel to Mechanus and prevent Obligatum VIII's creation (who'd start this shit all over again).
Ragnorra is an entity of corrupted life that wants to remake all life to fit her own ideals of what life should be. She travels between worlds in the form of a red comet, which crashes down on the world and begins spreading her skin and nerves over the planet, warping all creatures into aberrations. As Ragnorra gets closer to landing, positive energy spells become stronger but also cause gross blemishes, Ragnorra's spores start to fall from the sky that turn things into swarms of pests, living things gain healing abilities but are slowly corrupted into aberrations, and eventually even the dead start rising as aberrations, while undead are forced to flee unless they are underground. When Ragnorra crashes onto a planet she is reduced to a fraction of her full size but is still gargantuan size and has is CR 19 in both her initial form after landing, and her True Mother form taken when she merges with the neurotangle.
In the suggested campaign, a cult that worships Ragnorra called the Malshapers attempts to attract Ragnorra to the player's world using kidnapped people and other stolen living entities as bait to guide her on her path to the world. The leader of the cult is Irthicax Vane (Zenythri, level 17 monk), whose world was destroyed by Ragnorra and once fought against her, but eventually went mad and turned to worshiping her, though the players may be able to convince him to help stop her. As Ragnorra approaches, mysterious springs with healing properties start popping up everywhere that are controlled by the Malshapers. Swarms of vermin begin appearing in cities, and in response to this undead beings start showing up to fight them. As the red comet continues to get closer the undead all start leaving. While the players are investigating to see if the undead are planning anything, they get repeatedly attacked by low rogues sent the Malshapers. Then an Aboleth mage with the ability to breath air falls from the sky and enslaves the risen corpses of the Malshapers. Then Ragnorra crashes into the earth and creates an enormous crater full of aberrations and corrupt flesh. The players must travel across this crater to reach the center and confront Ragnorra. Once she has transformed into her True Mother form, the players must defeat her by breaking her connection with the planet, and thus forcing her to leave.
Sertrous was a powerful Obyrith that was killed in the distant past, but whose spirit clings to life in his severed skull. He was first killed for refusing to serve The Queen of Chaos but his spirit escaped to the material plane where he possessed a snake an made it into his new body. After he sent armies of snakes and monsters to attack mortals because he was jealous of the worship the gods received from them, he was then killed again by a Solar named Avamerin, but not before Sertrous revealed the secret that divine magic is possible to gain from any kind of faith, not just faith in a god. Avamerin at first didn't understand what Sertrous had said and shared the words with others, and when godless clerics started appearing as a result he was punished by being demoted to a Planetar. Avamerin then turned on his god and began working to bring Sertrous back to life. Avamerin now leads a cult of heretical Yuan-ti called The Vanguard of Sertrous that claims Sertrous is the true creator of the Yuan-ti. As Sertrous gets closer to returning to life, encounters with snakes and snake-like monsters become more and more frequent. Sertrous does not have stats because he is nothing but a immobile skull, but the players may fight against a CR 23 aspect of Sertrous.
In the suggested campaign, the players are hired to find out why a merchant has cut contact with his business partners and discover that he has fallen under the sway of a group of Yuan-ti who are lead by somebody named Seghulerak (Yuan-ti abomination, level 10 cleric, level 5 thaumaturgist) and do not worship the traditional Yuan-ti gods. Seghulerak and the Vanguard of Sertrous seize control of a major Yuan-ti city and start setting up serpentgates in temples around the world from which to launch invasions. The players investigate an infestation of snakes and interfere with the creation of one of these gates. The players eventually makes their way to the city where the Vanguard of Sertrous is based after many battles against Yuan-ti and other snake monsters and defeat Seghulerak, but her body vanishes when she is killed, leaving behind a pile of dead headless snakes. After some investigation the players learn about the Serpent Reliquary, an extradimensional temple that is the true base of the Vanguard. The players locate the portal the Reliquary and defeat Seghulerak again. After this they meet Avamerin, who will try to trick the players into leaving by lying that Sertrous never existed and this was all a test by the gods. If the players attack and defeat him, he is transformed into the aspect of Sertrous which the players must destroy. If the players are dumb enough to fall for his trick, he might send them to a layer of the abyss disguised as their home.
The Worm That Walks
The Worm That Walks is an evil demigod named Kyuss that wants to conquer the world and bring about the age of worms to become a full god. As get gets closer to escaping his prison, the world becomes infested with giant centipedes and other worm-like monsters. Kyuss was once a prophet of an evil god who attempted to ascend to godhood by sacrificing all of his followers and transforming into a great monster made of worms, but he got stuck between mortality and godhood and trapped inside an obelisk. The Worm That Walks is a CR 20 aberration.
In the suggested campaign, Edwin Tolstoff (human lesser worm that walks, level 3 necromancer, level 3 cleric, level 10 true necromancer), a villain from the book Exemplars of Evil, escapes from his prison by having his grandchildren kill their mother and release him, causing spawn of Kyuss to start appearing. Edwin wants to released Kyuss from his prison because he hates being a worm that walks and hopes that Kyuss will either kill him or restore his humanity. The players are called to solve a murder mystery, whose culprit is a wererat named Draen, who works for Katarin Tolstoff. After solving this mystery, people are kidnapped and the players track them down to find an Avolakia who is turning his captives into spawn of Kyuss. Though the players defeat him, people continue disappearing all over the nation. When the party's spellcaster visits a local wizard's guild, they find that it has been ransacked and most of the wizard transformed into undead by Edwin. The most notable item he has stolen is a Well of Many Worlds. The Herald of Kyuss (Avolakia, level 8 cleric) working for Edwin then poses as an NPC ally the players know and tells them that a wizard named Emirikol the Chaotic is planning to destroy the universe by putting a Sphere of Annihilation into the well. This is a trick by Edwin to give him the chance to steal a Talisman of the Sphere from Emirikol while the players are fighting him. But Edwin is unable to find a sphere of annihilation, and so anonymously hires the players to go to the Tomb of Horrors and secretly follows them so that he can steal the sphere from the tomb. The players then must chase him to Wormcrawl island to stop him from using it to break Kyuss's prison. When he reaches the obelisk he completes the ritual and places the sphere of annihilation into the well of many worlds, creating a black hole and releasing Kyuss. The players will have to defeat Kyuss and stop the black hole from destroying reality if it isn't stopped by divine intervention. If you don't have the Exemplars of Evil book, it suggests replacing Edwin with a different villain. The book also suggests combining this plot with the Adventure Path, Age of Worms from Dungeon Magazine, which also features Kyuss.
Zargon is an ancient evil who once ruled over Baator as the father of the Baatorians before Baator was conquered by Asmodeus and his Baatezu. Although he was defeated by Asmodeus, he could not be killed even by the gods and was imprisoned on the material plane. His horn is nearly indestructible and he will regenerate from it if the rest of his body is destroyed. Now he has given up on reclaiming Baator and wants to conquer the mortal world. As he gets closer to awakening the world is affected by extreme weather, including rains of slime that pollute water sources with a contagion that can turn people into slimes called Whelps of Zargon. Zargon is only CR 16, though according to the fluff he is capable of killing gods due to them being vulnerable to his powers.
Dorn (Cynidicean, Level 1 rogue, level 3 fighter, level 3 ranger, level 7 thrall of Juiblex), the son of Zargon's high cultists, flees from Cynidicea, only to be captured by gnolls and rescued by the party. Zargon begins to wake up as his cultists dig him up. Dorn then gets captured by the cult of Juiblex who tortured and eventually brainwashed him into joining them. The players are then hired by an archeologists named Vanessa (Tiefling, level 7 Archivist, level 7 Entropomancer) to take her to Cynidicea. However she gets separated from the party on the way and finds her way to Cynidicea alone, where she ends up joining Zargon's cult. The awakening of Zargon attracts the attention of Juiblex, who sends Dorn to make an alliance with Zargon. Zuggtmoy attempts to stop Juiblex by having their own cult frame the Juiblex's cult for murders, which the party investigates. Vanessa convinces Dorn to take control of Zargon's cult with her, and they sacrifice Dorn's father to speed up Zargon's revival. Several factions try to manipulate the players into leading them to Zargon's resting places and the players must play them against each other to find out about Zargon and where to find him. The players eventually make it to Zargon's tomb just as he is fully revived and defeat him and his cultists and ooze servants. But in order to destroy Zargon permanently, they will have to throw his horn into the Eye of Zargon deep underground.
Two more being described as Elder Evils appeared in Dragon Magazine.
Zurguth, The Feasting Vast is mentioned in the article Ecology of the Kaorti, in issue #358. Zurguth is an extremely powerful monster of the Far Realm in the form of an ocean of flesh. It accidentally created the Kaorti just by looking at a group of wizards who entered the Far Realm.
Shothragot is detailed in issue #362, in an article written similarly to a chapter of the Elder Evils book. Shothragot is an avatar of Tharizdun sealed beneath the temple of the Elder Elemental Eye, who works to free Tharizdun from his prizon by collecting the 333 gems of Tharizdun. Shothragot itself is too big for the players to defeat and so doesn't have stats, instead the players must ender inside of Shothragot and fight the Essence of Shothragot, which is CR 22. As Shothragot gets closer to completing is goal the sky is covered in a Seal of Binding, similar to the one produced by Pandorym.
During 4th Edition, several of the Elder Evils were adapted by Dragon Magazine as potential sources of power for Warlocks.
Zargon the Returner was listed as a possible patron for great old one warlocks in the Players Handbook. Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes describes the Elder Evils as the source of monsters known as Star Spawn and it includes a list of Elder Evils, which include both the elder evils from Lords of Madness, a few from the Elder Evils book, and some new ones.
- Ityak-Ortheel, the Elf-Eater
- Dendar, the Night Serpent
- Borem of the Lake of Boiling Mud
- Kezef, the Chaos Hound
- Zargon, the Returner
- Carmnod, the Unseen
- Holashner, the Hunger Below
- Piscaethces, the Blood Queen
- Shothotugg, the Eater of Worlds
- Y'chak, the Violet Flame
- Bolothamogg, Who Watches from Beyond the Stars
- Hargut, of the Gray Pestilence
- Haask, the Voice of Hargut
- Ragnorra, the Mother of Monsters
- The Hulks of Zoretha
- Kyuss, the Worm That Walks
- Tharizdun, the Elder Elemental Eye
- Atropus, the World Born Dead
- Pandorym, the Utter Annihilation
- Haemnathuun, the Blood lord
- Maram of the Great Spear
- Tyranthraxus, the Flamed One
- The Queen of Chaos
- Father Llymic, the Alien Thought Given Flesh