Tuesday, September 29, 2015

You Say the Underdark is Going Crazy? Diinkarazan Started That.

Buppido, who thinks he is the reincarnation of Diinkarazan in Out of the Abyss

For the last couple of years I've been looking occasionally at the boxed set The Night Below (TSR 1125). The adventure fascinates me as it's a massive undertaking designed in such a way that it test both the players' ability to improvise and plan effectively, as well as, the Dungeon Master's. That's been a rare commodity in the modules that I've examined over the years and so the Night Below has captured my imagination. Still, I've never made a concerted effort to really plow through the adventure from beginning to end so that I'm prepared to actually run it.

I'm changing that.

Anyway, there's a character that has kind of gotten my attention lately, Darlakanand (a Derro with a terrible name) who is driven by the mad Power, Diinkarazan (again, a terrible name). Diinkarazan is one of the many Second Edition divine powers that you run across every so often when exploring a module from that era that will send you off through other books trying to figure out who the hell they're talking about.

The first time that I noticed Diinkarazan was when I ran across the Isle of Derangement: 
". . . This small island has, in the center of its one cove, a single 6-foot-high standing stone with a Derro handprint indelibly etched into its surface. This stone was once touched by the mad Demo demi-deity Diinkarazan, and it causes insanity in anyone approaching within 30 feet (saving throw vs. spell to resist). However, from time to time creatures swim too close to shore and are affected; as a result,a community of wholly deranged kuo-toa lives here. They have become the dominant group by killing anything else that arrives . . ." (Sargent NB, 35)
There's something about the idea of a divine presence coming in contact with a location and leaving a part of its will behind to forever affect the world afterwards that just strikes a perfect tone for me. I mean, Diinkarazan has manifested real evidence of his presence in a world where few even acknowledge his existence and in so doing has indelibly changed a whole section of the Underdark. Sure it's not as sexy as a bunch of Demon Lords running amok in the Underdark as is happening with this year's Rage of Demons story BUT wouldn't it be wild if the ultimate secret of that storyline was that the players had come into contact with the Isle of Derangement from Night Below and were living out the Rage of Demons story in their minds?

Diinkarazan is an interesting character who is really only developed in three places that I know of: the Night Below (TSR 1125), Monster Mythology (DMGR4, TSR 2128), and On Hallowed Ground (TSR 2623). In the Night Below Diinkarazan is a passing presence mentioned but not really defined. Monster Mythology Diinkarazan is granted a whole paragraph where we learn about his relationship with the Derro's primary god, Diirinka. Here it is revealed that Diinkarazan is shunned in Derro lore because the shamans who revere his twin brother, Diirinka, are doing their best to make sure that Diinkarazan is never powerful enough to seek his revenge on his brother for betraying him. The betrayal happened like this:
". . . The two young gods, probably children of one or other of the lesser dwarven gods (this is most unclear), sought to expand their dominion and wished to create their own race of dwarves. They wanted their creation to be distinctive, typified by qualities hill and mountain dwarves lack - speed, dexterity, and magical prowess. Drawn to deeper places than to other dwarves, they explored the Underdark and found a vast cavern glittering with the elemental force of raw magic. They began to gather up strange, alien magical artifacts scattered about a central green crystal sphere floating just above the ground, and as they did so a vast spectral brain floated up from the sphere and surveyed them coldly. Ilsensine, the god of illithids, did not take well to his secrets being stolen by a pair of diminutive dwarves. Diirinka backstabbed his own brother and left him to be consumed by the spectral horror, fleeing for his life. He left his brother to be cursed most horribly by the furious illithid, and banished to the Abyss where he still dwells . . ." (Sargent MM, 59 - 60)
It should come as no surprise to longtime D&D enthusiasts that both the Isle of Derangement and the god Diinkarazan come from the man who moved the needle of D&D away from what had become a tired and banal system and into a whole new realm of possibility: Carl Sargent. Sargent's work has always been the sort of thing that inspires my imagination in ways that few others before him have been capable of doing and almost no one has done since. Just look at that description for the relationship between Diirinka and Diinkarazan! Betrayal, family, power, horror! It's all there and yet so little is defined. It's tantalizing and in the equivalent of two paragraphs Sargent has created a demi-god that I want to make a part of my campaigns. He's everything I like about the Gods of Chaos from Warhammer without the baggage.

I have yet to read On Hallowed Ground yet, but I've ordered it. If anyone would like to fill us in on Diinkarazan's role in that supplement while I wait on UPS to show up I'd love to hear about what he's doing there.

Works Cited

Sargent, Carl. Monster Mythology. USA. TSR, Inc. 1992. Print. pg. 59 - 60

Sargent, Carl. Night Below, Book II, The Perils of the Underdark. USA. TSR, Inc. 1995. Print. pg. 35

Buy the Books Mentioned Here


  1. Here is what On Hallowed Ground has to say: "One of only two derro powers, Diinkarazan's been imprisoned in the Abyss by the illithid power Ilsensine for the alleged crime of attempting to steal the mind flayer's magic. Diinkarazan's brother, Diirinka, escaped - but only by betraying his comrade. Now Diinkarazan alone serves Ilsensine's sentence: He's trapped i the Abyss, totally insane, unable to escape unless a greater power sets him free. To make matters worse, Diinkarazan has a single day of lucidity once every 50 years, and on this day he creates an avatar and looses it on the Prime, where it destroys entire derro villages. (Diinkarazan feels he was betrayed by his own people.)
    His realm consists of a single rocky throne in which the power is trapped, surrounded by rings of flying rocks and tormented by illusions of his greatest fears. As far as anyone knows, Diinkarazan has no proxies and no worshipers.

    1. Wild! Thank you so much for posting that Carl!

  2. I finished reading King for a Day a couple of weeks ago -- and I should get around to writing about it for my blog before it fades from my memory -- and it's a remix of Night Below. The monolith with the handprint also makes an appearance there, btu it's linked to a different pair of brothers. I've not read Night Below, so it's interesting to see the original elements that inspired the newer adventure discussed.

    1. Night Below is one of those campaigns that I read and am (strangely) intimidated by. I don't know if it's the scale of the adventure that gets me or the volume of preparation that would be required to run it well.

      That said, when you do write up your thoughts on King for a Day please let me know so I can read it! I've been looking at it for a while and haven't made up my mind about picking it up.

  3. When I ran Night below, the group only made it 1/3 of the way through before the gaming group broke up. There were many side jaunts and it took about a year to get that far. It was very well done. Probably my favorite boxed adventure ever. Years of fun out of it.

    1. One of the reviews I read of the adventure had a comment from a former player in the adventure who talked about it taking five years of real time to complete!


      I tried asking how often they played but the article had shut down new comments because I came to it about four years after it was posted.

  4. I've owned the Night Below since it was first published. Lots of cool adventure locations like one you've mentioned. I've always wanted to run it but it would mean taking time away from running other campaigns.


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