The lesser vruul has tough, leathery hide, as black as midnight. Bat-like wings sprout from its back, but they do not look large or strong enough to support its weight in flight. The vruul's claws are long, sharp and appear to be stained with the blood of many victims. Its eyes are eerie, solid green orbs that seem to glow with an inner power.
Vruul coexist within the dark vortece area, which always make warding attacks. You will want to make sure the vorteces cannot hit you, sometimes casting four times in a single round. The vorteces do not wander into the left side of the Dark Shrine, and the vruul do not wander into the huge cavern. When traveling up or down the stairs you should peer ahead so you are not on your back in hard RT in front of the vruul with their battle axes. Vorteces are harmless if warded off. Vorteces are immune to most sorcery spells, and vruul are immune to most elemental. Elemental waves will work if they are not cast directly at any vruul. Non-magical weapons will not be able to break their tough skin. The weapon needs a 3x enchant or greater.
Vruul will stand up and leave the room in a single action. They will not open doors if you wish to cage them. Those that generate in the Dark Shrine carry a short sword and wooden shield, but will wear it, drop the sword, picking up the battle axe and attacking all in the same action. With the shield out their CvA is +20, and with the battle axe it is +25. The vruul absorb the energy from Minor Elemental spells and part of Balefire (713). Vruul are immune to heat, vorteces are immune to cold. Vorteces are immune to most sorcery, but they both take damage from unfocused Energy Maelstrom (710).
The lesser vruul are relatively poor compared to the Sheruvian monks, who have no magical protection spells. Both the vruul and the vorteces will damage you if you try to touch them. Teleportation is somewhat inhibited near the Dark Shrine, Spirit Guide (130) will randomly fail sometimes. It will return you to the hooded figures or Sheruvian monastery, which can easily make you prone while locked in hard RT. Greater vruul swarm behind the two locked doors in the monastery, the right one having a rotating trap, and used to spawn sometimes in the Dark Shrine but are weak for their level.
They injure your hands if you try to touch them, but you do not get injured from skinning or searching them. Myklian skinning and searching still injures the hands, but the same skin quality on a higher color myklian and a lesser vruul are roughly the same now. Non-magical weapons bounce off vruul.
- Non-Magical Weapon Deflection
>kill vruul You swing your short sword at the lesser vruul, but the weapon slides harmlessly off of the lesser vruul's tough skin!
- Touching Vruul (inflicts hand injuries)
>touch vruul You reach out to touch the lesser vruul. A bolt of energy suddenly leaps from the lesser vruul's skin, knocking your hand away.
They only sniff the air, growl, and glare when you are dead. Lesser and greater vruul are indistinguishable other than level. There is no node for resting in the Broken Lands other than the Summoning Chamber, but they usually do not wander into the secret room behind the tapestry.
Behind the Scenes
Vruul were originally called "gogor", a special kind of artificial being. They were invented by the Empress Kadaena, along with many dark races, and several other kinds of malevolent construct. ("Vruul" itself is likely an Iruaric portmanteau or composite glyphical form of "vuul" and "arul", meaning literally "The Enchanter's Sight", or more loosely "The Eyes of Kadaena.") The I.C.E. age form of Marlu (Morgu) was known for plundering ancient crypts, looking for gogor, his favored pets left over from the First Era of Shadow World. They slumbered in urns filled with a foul necrolytic fluid, and appear to be created involving some brutal ritualistic sacrifice. Some gogor were able to fly off with their victims, but these ones cannot, being older than the mechanics for flying creatures. (This is likely a subtle allusion to the sleeping Cthulhu having vestigial wings that should have been incapable of flight.) They were not considered undead, but unholy is plausible. His obsession with them was never given a canonical explanation in the Shadow World source material. It was said that they survived the aeons in their dormant sleep until dark priests of later ages awoke them from their crypts.
It is impossible to understand the Dark Shrine, the work of Uthex Kathiasas, or the importance of the vruul without the obsolete lore as context. In the Shadow World history, the Dark Gods did not appear until the Second Era. Without being here in the First Era, there should be no link with Kadaena, or her Lord of Essaence followers from that period. Morgu has no obvious reason to care other than their resemblance. The significance of the "gogor" and Dark Shrine is in establishing this relationship between them both during and prior to the Wars of Dominion. Andraax notably wrote a poem addressing her dark creations that began with: "Once She whispered and life was death. Gogur arose, his wide wings spread. Talons to tear and fangs to feed, the skies were darkened with dread." This can be interpreted for us as "Gogur" referring to Morgu, the archaic form of Marlu, as being made ("spirit born of death") or perhaps even ascended through some dark soul transformation as her servant and master of her gogor. There is possibly an implicit relationship between him and a contemporary "servant of the Shadow" called the Master of Malice. Similarly, the vruul were most likely supposed to be created as pieced together abominations or "simulacra" formed in the urns using blood magic, becoming unholy monsters through transmogrification.
The invoking element to the Dark Shrine was: "Morgu lyxatis kort. Thro dyar K'mur." The loose translation of The Temple of Darkness Poem from what was presumably also Iruaric was "Morgu, Cruel Master. Guard the Dark Queen." (The existence of this poem in the ruins of another temple of the Dark Lords implies its authenticity.) More literally, "lyxatis" means something like "one who is the act of causing dread", or "dread incarnate." "Kort" means "master", but Morgu is the servant in this context, more like "the master's dread" or "the dread who masters [my servants]." Cruelty would better be rendered as Malice. With glottalized sounds of "lyxarulis" this would also translate as "master of the dread seers" meaning vruul. "dyar K'mur" is a subtle play on words. While it means "dark female Lord", meaning Lords of Essaence, the so-called "Queen of Evil" who was said to have created the gogor was actually the Empress Kadaena. K'daen or Kaeden itself means "queen", which were another of her foul constructs, with Kadaena as "high queen" or "Empress." Thus, the translation is more accurately a command, which can be pointedly rendered as: "Dread Morgu, Guard Kadaena."
This implies a relationship between the Lords of Essaence and the Dark Gods dating back to the First Era. Iruaric was the language of the Lords of Essaence, and would otherwise be out of place when speaking about the Dark Gods. However, there is another play on words, given the literal meaning of "dyar K'mur." The Charon (Lornon) deities were known as the "Dark Lords", and "Lady of Darkness" was the specific epithet of Orgiana (Eorgina). Orgiana was not the queen of their pantheon in the archaic theology ("dark queen" alludes to Kadaena), and resided at the time in the Black Hel with a theocracy run by the daughter of Kadaena. The "Temple of Darkness" might actually be her "Temple of Burning Night", which would explain the poem being written in Iruaric. The Dark Path called Kadaena the "Guardian of the Forbidden", which was contemporary with her daughter, with the crypt's design being based on the temple of her theocracy. "Thro dyar K'mur" in this context means roughly the same thing as the chant "Throk Farok". With Morgu as a "spirit born of death", essentially an artificial demon, it is the same meaning of transmogrification as eternal existence in the Void.
Morgu was originally a "Dark Spirit", similar to the Great Spirit Vult (Voln), which were extensions of will of the Dark Lords. It would thus make no sense for Kadaena to have made Morgu unless she was herself one of the Dark Lords. Interestingly, the poem alludes to Orgiana as the "Mother" of darkness, which plays off Morgu being "born" to guard the Dark Queen. It conflates her identity with Kadaena, who used Ordainers as bodyguards. Orgiana herself was known for fashioning demonic races out of mutilated spirits and for having her own dark host of demi-god spirit servants. The "repose in silent waiting" line of the poem plays off the Temple of Burning Night poems calling Kadaena the "sleeping queen" who "spurns death." The cultists whose souls powered the vruul are interred in "silent repose" in the Dark Shrine. Regardless, the invoking element should not have been made in the First Era, being an intra-language transliteration of ancient Iruaric. Since The Dark Path might have ultimately owed its fealty to Orgiana, it is quite possible that Morgu was using the Dark Shrine in the Wars of Dominion. The huge windows, wide passages, and stairs seem designed for him.
The Dark Grotto by implication of the word "grotto" meaning "artificial caves" did not exist until after the magru, and the water by the stairs now could be interpreted as an obscure warding against Morgu. Though the fungal forest might simply be his garden. However, if the cavern and huge staircase were engineered with magru they should be much older, and so the Dark Shrine would have already been present. The temporal paradox of the inscription is that it implies conditions spanning both the past and future from the time of The Dark Path. It is possible to resolve this by considering the allusions to "The Shadow out of Time", which would imply Kadaena made the shrine in antiquity but used a future form of Iruaric with the invoking element.
The glottalization of the Iruaric words in the Broken Lands implies they originated in an ancient speaker of the language, who nevertheless was writing in a contemporary form of the language instead of hieroglyphs. In the canonical Shadow World lore, Andraax is implied as having the ability to see visions of his own future, which is only one step removed from trans-temporal telepathy. In this sense they were all still her servants, long after her death, in the Wars of Dominion. The crystal dome further appears to be based on "Through the Gates of the Silver Key", which involves projection across times. For what it is worth, the Summoning Chamber in the Sheruvian monastery once allowed teleportation to many places in the material world, and gives a vision of a future where Town Square Central is burning.
The Dark Gods were speculated by some Loremasters, like Uthex Kathiasas, of originating in "failed" Lord of Essaence experiments with creating non-corporeal life. (Others thought they escaped from an interdimensional prison, which may be what The Broken Lands represents. There was also a theory that the moon gods were actually Lords of Essaence impersonating deities. Some classes of demonic in Rolemaster were the fallen spirits of wicked immortal spellcasters, so by implication the dead followers of Kadaena should have been associated with dark gods from the demonic planes.) Similarly, surviving followers of Kadaena were said to have created Great Demons, who were also demi-gods like the Dark Spirits. These followers of Kadaena were known to have worked with the Dark Gods during the Wars of Dominion. Uthex was killed in the same year one of them conquered this whole region. "The Legend of the Necropolis of Etrevion" also intentionally preserved a typo from some source books implying Kadaena was herself the first moon goddess. The Great Moon of Orhan (Liabo) was inaccessible even to the Lords of Essaence, and its pantheon of moon gods was unknown until the Second Era.
The Dark Shrine itself might be an allusion to Kadath from "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath". Among the borrowed features from the story include the sheer vertical cliffs, the grottoes and frescoes, being on the moon, the fluorescent fungi, the bone pit, the boulder strewn plain, and especially the huge stairs leading up the dark tower of a great demon (whose symbol in bas-relief made one shudder without knowing its meaning. The steps led to a portal returning to the enchanted woods of fungus, forbidden to the ghouls, and the huge cavern is the city of the Gugs.) This associates Morgu with the same Old One premise as the Ordainer symbolism below the Graveyard. The lesser vruul lore reflects the "night-gaunts" who haunted the "peaks of Throk" in the dream underworld, where the word "Throk" in Iruaric was itself likely borrowed from Lovecraft. The night-gaunts would refuse to fly over bodies of water, which thus contains the vruul in the same way it repels Morgu himself. This would explain why the vruul do not wander into the cavern. The night-gaunts guarded the caves of the mountain Ngranek, where the gods of earth lived before ascending to Kadath, which had tunnels descending to the underworld.
When the vruul generate they "lope" into the room, likely an allusion in context to the narrator asking his ghouls ("dog-like lopers") to gather a swarm of night-gaunts to frighten off the shantaks over Leng, as well as witnessing mountain sized heads "lope" in the distance on their flight to Kadath. The eye windows in the Dark Shrine may refer to this and the face on Ngranek. The night-gaunts had vision all over their bodies. Consequently, "lyxatis" can be interpreted as a glottalization of "lyxarulis", meaning "dread seers." The translation of the Dark Shrine inscription in this case becomes: "Marlu, Master of the Vruul." This is remarkable because Marlu's original post-I.C.E. Age gods lore gave him the title "master of the vruul", which was also when the roles of Kadaena and Origiana explicitly merged into Eorgina. The Broken Lands has a motif of omniscience, possibly associating Kadaena with Yog-Sothoth. Night-gaunts also served Nodens rather than Nyarlathotep, the father of Gwyn ap Nudd, the King of Annwn. The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and its fantastic creatures, including the kidnapping behavior of the night-gaunts, is generally regarded as having been based on the fairy fantasy literature of Lord Dunsany. It is possible the Vruul spelling may have been chosen to play off Vritra, the root of the sleeping nightmare wasteland demon of Shadow Valley, and likewise there were vruul invasions in the Vvrael quest.
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