Last Updated on February 20, 2023
Who Is Bhaal?
The story of Bhaal is an interesting one, but before we can get into it, you need to know who he is. First and foremost, Bhaal is a death god in the Faerûnian pantheon. There are a lot of death gods though, so more precisely, Bhaal is the Lord of Murder, a god of violence and ritualistic killing.
(Pronounced: BAWL or BAHL)
- Alignment: Neutral Evil
- Symbol: Skull surrounded by a ring of bloody droplets
- Domains: Death
The History of Bhaal
Normally, we would throw the history of a god later on in one of these articles since they tend to be kind of boring. However, Bhaal is anything but. This god actually has a story that might excite potential adventurers since Bhaal once was an adventurer himself.
That’s right, Bhaal was once a power-hungry adventurer who roamed the Forgotten Realms with a party. He was just like you (or your players if you’re a DM reading through this for research). Perhaps unlike a normal party though, his party was mostly evil characters.
The Dark Three, as they were known, sought to dethrone Jergal, the god of the dead, and take his portfolio for themselves.
Since Jergal had a massive domain with a portfolio that spread out to hatred, tyranny, the dead, and things that a death god might be interested in, the three each took a portion for themselves. Bane claimed hatred, strife, and tyranny, Myrkul took domain over the dead, and Bhaal chose dominion over death itself.
This sort of story is incredible because it paints a vivid picture of how gods work in the Forgotten Realms. Sure, some are divine beings who came into existence at the dawn of time, but others were paragons of certain aspects in the material plane that went on to become deities.
If you choose to branch off of this with your players, you can use an old party of theirs to create a pantheon in the future of the same world. Of course, you might not end up with a few death gods; you might end up with heroic war deities, nature gods, gods of life, or anything that encompasses your party’s personalities.
Bhaal himself has long since ascended to godhood, so the rest of his story goes basically how you might expect it. He’s done a lot of evil and mischievous things and is generally just a source of evil in the Forgotten Realms.
Description and Relationships
Bhaal has long since abandoned his mortal forms, but he does have a few different descriptions that you might want to use at your table. Bhaal has three main avatars known as the Slayer, the Ravager, and Kasgoroth.
The Slayer resembles a pale, humanoid corpse with viscous black ichor pouring forth from its wounds. Bhaal often assumes the form of the Slayer when he walks through cities and large towns in hopes to inspire disgust, violence, and fear in those he sees.
The Ravager is a great behemoth of a creature coming in at around 10 meters tall with large horns, a beard, a mane, eyes filled with the flames of Gehenna (an evil plane in the Great Wheel cosmology), and beyond that, the basic semblance of a storm giant.
Lastly, the third form of Kazgaroth is a monstrous shape-shifting beast that was once an avatar of Malar. Typically, it looks like a massive tyrannosaurus, but the most fun part of it is that you can describe it in whatever way you wish to in order to really mess with your players.
Bhaal is an evil god, and while you might use him as a generic evil deity that seeks destruction and murder and all the rest, the most important thing you can do with this character is to inspire your characters to seek greatness.
The thought of ascending to godhood is really what the fantastical stories that inspired D&D are based around. These are characters who are trying to become legends in their own right, so why not show them that it’s possible? In the process, they might realize that their hunger for power can come at a cost.
However you decide to bring Bhaal to life at your table is up to you, but one thing is for sure: he’s an exciting deity that’s sure to inspire.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.