Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Greyhawk: Let's Fight Iuz

Welcome Greyhawkers to another rousing edition of Let's Fight... Previous installments like the bone-breaking encounter with Ulaa. can be read in the Best of Greyhawkery page. 
To recap how this column works: in the old days of AD&D, PCs could potentially take on gods (despite what later authors say about gods staying off Oerth). The 1E Deities & Demigods was first to give stats and rules on the powers of immortals, later referred to as avatars in the Greyhawk Adventures sourcebook which gave players a better chance to somehow prevail over a deity in combat. Iuz (aka The Old One) is a different case in that he physically lives ON Oerth so any heroes trying to put an end to his evil reign will inevitably have to fight him, right? Luckily for DMs Iuz is one of the deities in the World of Greyhawk boxed set that was given stats. He was later updated with 3.5E stats in Dragon #294, but for purposes of this post I'll stick with the old school stat block. Enough talk let's examine how much damage the demigod of pain can inflict in battle. Enjoy!

Caveat #1: Iuz the Evil rules an entire domain in the Flanaess (think Sauron in LotR), thus depending on when you fight him it could be a small country (576 CY) all the way to an extensive empire (591 CY). Between his priesthood, his high-level Boneheart henchmen, his humanoid and undead armies, and countless summoned demons from his palace in Dorakaa, Iuz has what seems like an inexhaustible barrier of fanatic defenders around him. Fortunately, this chaotic evil demigod is sadistically vindictive and likes to get his own hands dirty from time to time. I mean, Iuz has previously tangled with powerful foes like Zagyg, St. Cuthbert and Vecna before so, for this exercise we can assume the PCs have made it to the final boss and will fight only Iuz. For the time being...

Caveat #2: (Also Possible Spoiler) The mysterious Soul Husks in the Howling Hills. Do they hold the secret to the Old One's divinity? Would destroying those husks in advance weaken Iuz or possibly just kill him outright making this whole fight unnecessary?  For this reason, let's say the PCs don't have access to the Soul Husks.

Caveat #3: Cause I like to throw in special conditions. In the Glossography, Iuz is listed as a Cleric 16 and Assassin 16. Assassins in 1E are a variant thief class in this edition and have the ability to "assassinate" (of course) and do thievely stuff like sneak around (as a 14th level thief). So again, for this exercise we will also assume Iuz, the demigod of deception, is ambushing the PCs to start this battle...

1. Assassination/Poison Use: As if his (99%) move silently and measly (93%) hide in shadows isn't enough, Iuz can cast Invisibility to open up the festivities. Since he can backstab, the first unlucky PC to be attacked will likely take x5 damage, plus poison (pick your poison), PLUS possible instant death from the Assassination Table (pg75 1E DMG). According to this chart, Iuz 100% insta-kills any character HD 0-7, but even if Mordenkainen is on the PC's team, there is a 30% chance Iuz can insta-kill an 18+ level character. 1E is brutal.

2. Iuz's Forms. Congrats, the PCs were surprised, and one of their party is probably toast, but now they have won the initiative on round one. The Old One appears either as a 7-foot tall cambion demon with long talon fingers, or a 5-foot tall elderly man with talon fingers. In either form he has 165 hit points (in 3.5E he has 760 hp, hah). This is a significant amount in 1E terms. For comparison, Hextor has 200 hp and Heiroenous has 217, and they are lesser war gods!

3. Defenses. The Old One can only be hit by +1 or better magic items. This should be a given, no player is going to tangle with a demigod with ordinary weapons. When the front-line PCs move into melee, they will find Iuz has a -4 AC but -8 AC with his magical Cape of Protection. This Cape also gives him a whopping 65% magic resistance! But wait, there is more!

4. Precast spells? Of course, foolish mortals! Iuz is a Cleric 16, has an 18 INT and 20 WIS. He could conceivably have any number of pre-cast spells (Mirror Image is one he can do at will), but he needs just one. As a demigod Iuz can cast Anti-Magic Shell a barrier which moves with him. What the shell does is make him 100% impervious to magic as well as breath weapons, gaze and voice-attacks. Worse yet, all magic is suppressed in his 16' diameter shell. This means all those +1 or higher weapons are now ordinary swords when the PCs rush in for melee. Oops. 

5. Ranged spells. Maybe the PCs hang back and assess their situation. At range, as a demigod, Iuz can cast Finger of Death spells pretty much at will. Save or death effect. One hero a time. If Iuz used any other spells at range, he would be toying with the PCs.

6. Melee, Hand-to-Hand versus Two-handed Sword: Okay the PCs have committed to fighting him up close cause at range he is just picking them off. Here is where Iuz gets true shock value. In half-demon form he can choose to go toe to toe with his great +3 sword doing a scary +12 damage, but he only gets one attack per round. Yawn. The old man form on the other hand can attack with two bony hands doing 11-14 damage each. Furthermore, whoever he hits with his hands is now being strangled! That victim will DIE in 1d4+1 rounds unless freed. Mind you, he has a 21 Strength. Additionally, while the Old One is squeezing the life out of a poor hero, and his allies hopelessly stab at him with dispelled weapons, he can once per round "expectorate" on the poor adventurer like the Exorcist. This nasty spittle ages the person 1-6 YEARS and the body part struck withers becoming useless, no save! (gross yes, but 1E does not mess around) If any heroes make it out of this fight alive, they may well have a limp and full beard.
7. Mobility. Iuz is just your average medium-sized creature when it comes to moving around. As a demigod however, he could conveniently Levitate at will making this fight a ranged massacre, unless the heroes can fly. Or to be really annoying, Iuz like all deities in 1E can just teleport without error. He can zip around the field attacking from above, behind, four rounds later, etc. Theoretically he might be able to strangle a helpless PC and teleport them both over White Plume Mountain and let go. But I digress...

8. Healing. The demigod of evil is light on healing as you'd expect. Though he should really only need one spell, Heal, which he can use once a day to recover all his lost hit points shy of d4. That would be a true kick in the butt for any party that thinks they have the Old One on the ropes.

9. Summon and Gate in Allies. Okay suppose Iuz underestimated the heroes; they are a Monty-Haul bunch with all the experience and tricks in the AD&D book. Iuz is no fool so he calls in help like any good deity would. Once per day each he can cast Summon and Gate spells. He can only summon one or two chaotic evil creatures, but the total can be 20 HD worth. Not too shabby! With the Gate spell however the Old One can draw in demonic aid that he is so well known for doing. My money is on him asking his BFF Zuggtmoy the Demon-Queen of Fungi to save his hide. He will owe her a favor after that spell. She has AD&D stats in the Temple of Elemental Evil by the way.

10. Psionics?! This is optional, but in 1E a lot of your deities and quasi-deities have psionics in their stat blocks. I personally never used them, but the rules are there in the PHB/DMG and aren't overly complicated. Iuz the Evil is listed as type III which means he has three minor and two major psionic powers. He also has all psionic defense/attack modes in the book. Like Psionic Blast, Id Insinuation, Ego Whip. Really? I don't need to explain any of these powers because they are redundant at best. Iuz is already terrifically hard to defeat, giving him psionic powers would be another way for the DM to tease the players. Unless the heroes have a psionic character in their group, this would be no contest.

11. Finish Him! Lastly, Iuz has his "soul object" safe-guarded on another plane of existence. This means defeating Iuz while a long shot, is possible, since he has this contingency in place. He will however keep coming back, and remember, Iuz is vindictive. Take heart adventurers! Whatever game system or timeline you play, Iuz can be brought down permanently, but to succeed it will require a few quests in advance to weaken his resources and powers, rather than confronting him directly. 


Lord Gosumba said...

Yes a very BAD idea!!!

casey said...

Best. Post. Ever. Hail, Iuz!

Joe said...

Great post!