An Iuzian Conundrum

Last March, when I posted about the meta-campaign originally envisioned by Gary Gygax that would encompass The Village of Hommlet, Temple of Elemental Evil, Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, and Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, commenter fluxisrad made an interesting observation about the timing of the events surrounding Iuz’s interactions with Zuggtmoy and the Temple not making sense in the context of the other things we know about Iuz.

And he has a point. Consider the timeline of events as we know them:

479: Iuz appears in the north
505: Iuz is trapped beneath Greyhawk Castle
513: Horned Society, taking advantage of Iuz’s absence, officially breaks away and declares their own nation
569: Battle of Emridy Meadows. ToEE is sacked, Zuggtmoy imprisoned
570: Iuz is freed from beneath Greyhawk Castle
573: Prince Thrommel of Furyondy kidnapped, taken to ToEE

The question becomes, when did Iuz and Zuggtmoy get together and plot the rise of the Temple of Elemental Evil? The obvious choice is sometime between 479 and 505, which is the only time that both Iuz and Zuggtmoy are both free from imprisonment. However, that carries with it a problem, as the Secret History of the Temple [of Elemental Evil] tells us that Iuz’s motives for helping Zuggtmoy were that:

If the Temple triumphed, then he could call upon Zuggtmoy to repay his aid and make sure that Iuz, not the Horned Society, benefited most from the territorial acquisitions in Furyondy. Also, a strong Chaotic Evil ally against the power of the Horned Society could be most useful. (ToEE 29)

And there’s the conundrum. If the only time that Iuz and Zuggtmoy were both free was before the Horned Society came into existence, how could it be that the Horned Society loomed so large in Iuz’s plans?

One solution is that the Horned Society existed prior to 513, not as an independent state, but as an association among the “calculating generals and unholy men at the vanguard of the push against Furyondy” (LGG 62)

This also has great implications for the history of the Temple itself. Before the timeline problem was pointed out to me, I always saw the Temple of Elemental Evil as having a rather meteoric rise over the course of a couple of years, leading up to its downfall in 569. But if we go with this explanation, then the Temple must have been around for many decades, working slowly and stealthily until it felt itself powerful enough to declare itself to the world in the absence of Iuz’s support.

But… this explanation still doesn’t cover all the issues. Again, the Secret History of the Temple tells us:

Having just learned of the sharp check dealt to Lolth in her plans to wreak Evil, the Lady of Fungi agreed to accept Iuz as an (almost) equal in the Temple. She saw him as an excellent weapon, especially useful against the Horned Society once she had absorbed most of Veluna and Furyondy. She would then encourage Iuz to crush the might of the Society, and she would be left as the great Evil power in the Flanaess, ready to absorb the Wild Coast and Pomarj, while the rumps of Iuz and the Horned ones served as buffers in the north and east. Her hordes, in turn, could concentrate on the hateful elves and dwarves to the west…
And so the alliance formed, and actually worked, but saved not the Temple. Zuggtmoy was bound in its dungeons, but Iuz remained free (just as he had planned).

This passage speaks of the Horned Society as holding territory, and most definitely doesn’t portray them as a shadowy cabal within the empire of Iuz. And when it says that “Iuz remained free” that speaks to the notion that all this happened after he was freed from the dungeons beneath Castle Greyhawk, because he most certainly did not “remain free” after 504!

Another possibility is that it was not Iuz himself who approached Zuggtmoy, but one of the various “false Iuz’s” who we are told sprang up following his imprisonment. This doesn’t seem very likely, though, as surely Zuggtmoy would have realized that she was dealing with an impostor at some point. Too, the text of the Secret History of the Temple makes no mention of such a thing, maintaining that it was Iuz himself who dealt with Zuggtmoy.

Yet another possibility is that Iuz was able, somehow, to communicate with Zuggtmoy from within the Godtrap beneath Greyhawk Castle. This, however, is extremely unlikely, both because no other such communication is mentioned anywhere, and Zuggtmoy’s plans described above seem to assume an Iuz who is a free and powerful agency unto himself.

I confess this is a tough one, and I can’t come up with an explanation that satisfies both of the key requirements; a time when Iuz and Zuggtmoy are free, and the Horned Society is a powerful nation unto itself. Any suggestions? Am I missing some vital clue?

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Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

16 thoughts on “An Iuzian Conundrum

  1. That wouldn't make sense from Zuggtmoy's point of view. Since Iuz wouldn't have had access to his armies, he wouldn't have anything to offer. He wouldn't be in any position to "crush the [Horned] Society".

  2. I recently ran the Temple, as part of the old campaign you mention.

    The solution that springs to my mind sort of nullifies one of your qualifiers.

    Perhaps the Society didn't exist as an independent nation, but the demons somehow knew that it would. They do have access to divination magic, no?

  3. I always viewed them as something like the Knights Templar. They owned land, castles, etc, but weren't a nation per se. Just an organization.

  4. I can't wrap my head around the evidence to piece together an answer either. It is easy to say the Horned Society (Horned Ones) have been around for a long time. I've heard as much said by Gary Holian that they're originally an ancient power group, but land owning as a group is hard to say.

  5. Perhaps the split between the Horned Society and Iuz was becoming more obvious, at least behind the scenes, and everyone was busily preparing for the inevitable. It is even possible that the Society actively betrayed Iuz and were in some measure instrumental in trapping him. In this scenario, Iuz and Zuggtmoy are conspiring to betray the Society first, but the Horned get their licks in before that can happen.

    That seems thin, but I am having a hard time envisioning how this timeline could fit the alleged Secret History.

  6. Maybe it was not the real Iuz that was imprisoned in 505CY under Castle Greyhawk. It was a way for him, upon his disappearance, to see who were truly loyal, before setting his plans in motion. In that way he could have plotted with Zuggtmoy before her imprisonment in 569CY.

  7. Does the word "appear" neccessarily indicate that this is the first point from which Iuz began existance? Perhaps he was around for a while operating in secret and only appeared as a public presence in 479. That would have given he and the fungus queen enough time to plot and scheme.

  8. Hmmm, never mind. I noticed the timelines and issues about 5 minutes after I posted and headed for the exits around here.

    The only thing that I can think of is that the Horned Society was planning its breakaway for decades and Iuz knew and was already getting ready to move against them.

  9. I am famous! Next: fortune.

    So: the Chronology in the Folio says that 513CY sees the "Rise of the Horned Society", which to me strongly implies that they existed previously. I like Jeremy and faoladh's suggestions. I guess I'd say that, after the Society's ploy worked, Zuggtmoy put off the plans, finally discovered where Iuz was imprisoned, and connived to plant the seed of his release in the mind of reckless adventurers, while she went ahead with the plan in light of Lolth's sudden weakness. For Zuggtmoy, a free Iuz would tie up Furyondy and Veluna's armies in the north and give her some freedom of action (so Iuz's role would precede and enable her planned absorption of those realms, contra Joe's second quote from the Secret History). But the adventurers weren't all reckless: some informed Furyondy, which forced Zuggtmoy's hand with the results that we know. Then Iuz is released, learns about all this, and tries to reorganize the Temple to tie up Furyondy and Veluna in the south, while he takes back the realm that is his by right… for which Zuggtmoy's power would be useful if she can be controlled, yada yada yada tying into my speculations in the comments of the linked post.

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