Greyhawk: Return to the Classic
Boccob is the god of magic, arcane knowledge, balance, and foresight. He is known as the Uncaring, the Lord of All Magic, and the Archmage of the Deities. All times and places are open to him, and he has visited many alternate realities and planes unknown to the wisest of sages, places even the Elder Evils avoid. His symbol is an eye in a pentagram; usually this is worn as an amulet.
Boccob is usually portrayed as a middle aged man with white hair who wears purple robes decorated with golden runes. He is described as carrying the very first staff of the magi with him at all times. In addition, he knows every spell ever created and can travel to any time and dimension. He is the possessor of the only magical library that contains a copy of every potion, spell, and magic item in existence.
Boccob rarely has any desire to interfere with events occurring upon the Prime Material. He is the least interested of the core deities, having no agenda to push, unlike others such as Wee Jas, Heironeous or Vecna.
Among the Bakluni, Boccob is known as Al’Zarad, the god of Magic and Learning, portraying him with Baklunish facial features. Regarded as a creation of Istus, Al’Zarad has few worshipers.
Boccob is served by the mad demigod, Zagyg, whom he sponsored into godhood. He is allied with Delleb. The Archmage of the Deities is opposed to Tharizdun, who he believes is slowly draining magic from the Oerth.
Some accounts hold that in the time before time when Boccob walked Oerth he took a mortal wife and had a mortal son who went on to found either the Bakulunish or the Suloise Empires. Some even argue that Veccna and later Mordenkainen are decendents of this line, but these are widely regarded as just rumors.
Boccob’s realm is known as the Library of Lore. This imposing citadel sits atop a barren bluff in the Outlands. Those who would access the library and its knowledge must climb a single narrow stair guarded by four elder elementals, one of each of the cardinal types.
The walls themselves are proof against teleportation and astral meddling, and those who try find themselves at the base of the great stair. Within the walls of the library, spells that access other planes do not function. The library is a convoluted mazework of passages that cross beneath and occasionally through each other, leaving no mark of their passage but foiling the most diligent of mapmakers. Within this structure are private meditation cells for spellcasters, sealed armories of magic items, and both true and false libraries that contain much of the magical and mundane knowledge of the multiverse. Those granted access to a true library (done with the approval of Boccob himself) can find the answer to any questions as if a commune spell were cast. One hour of research is required for each question answered. The Library of Lore contains a copy of every nonartifact magic item created by mortal hands. They are sealed beneath magical wards and traps, and golems and shield guardians patrol the halls. Souls who worshiped Boccob in life may peer over their patron’s shoulders, catching glimpses of the secrets of the multiverse.
Boccob is a greater power, and as such the effects of his realm can be felt far beyond the walls of his library. Within this area he can limit magic of many types at will. In addition, much magic is enhanced in Boccob’s realm. Divinations cast within the domain are extended, and all spells within the Library of Lore itself may be cast without verbal utterances. He has the power to further modify the magic trait of his realm.
The souls of Boccob’s worshipers appear as they did in life and have abilities typical to Outlandish petitioners. In addition, they have the ability to know the motivations of others and they often use this ability to determine whether a visitor deserves to receive the information desired. Petitioners are usually librarians, scribes, researchers, inventors, or guides.
Boccob’s dogma emphasises neutrality above good, evil, law or chaos, and holds magic to be the most important thing that there is.
Boccob teaches that magic is the most important force in the cosmos, and that balance between Law and Chaos, and between Good and Evil, should be preserved. Magic, according to Boccobite dogma, is an energy source of finite extant, and may eventually wane. Boccob promotes the research and creation of new spells and magical items, under the theory that this increases the amount of magic available to everyone. It is beleived that only Boccob can understand the true flow and power of magic. That the spells cast by wizards, even epic ones, are but a pale reflection of the true ebbe and flow of magic that Boccob is previe to.
It is thought that any wizard that can tap into this true flow of magic shall accend to godhood much the way Zagyg did.
Many of his faith hold that Boccob briefly walked the plane of Oerth but only in legendary time refered to as the time before time. Popular legends say that when he chose to come to this plane he waited for his mother gazed upon a falling star and then stayed in her womb for sixty-two years, and was born when his mother leaned against a plum tree. He accordingly emerged from her underarm a grown man with a full grey beard and long earlobes, which are a symbol of wisdom and long life.
He set forth to teach those that lived on the plane of magic but was unable to get them to understand the true nature of this force they where using. Traditional accounts state that Boccob grew weary of the mortals inability to see beyond their own limitations. According to these legends, he ventured into the western sky to live as a hermit in the outlands in what would become his library. As he crossed in front of the moon a women saw him. This women asked the old master to produce a record of his wisdom. This is the legendary origin of the Uncaring’s Will. In some versions of the tale, the women is Wee Jas and as the work is finished being uttered finally sees what the Lord of Magic had been trying to teach and follows him into the sky.
Seek balance above good, evil, law or chaos. Fight to push back the encroachment of good just as you would the oppression of evil. Magic is the most important thing on Oerth, and it must be preserved so that the balance can be preserved.
The Uncaring’s Will: The Uncaring’s Will is widely considered to be the most influential Boccobite text. It is a foundational scripture of central importance in Boccobism. It has been used as a ritual text throughout the history of religious Boccobism. However, the precise date that it was written is the subject of debate: Thus it is just described as the time before time.
It is belived that the Lord of all Magic authered this himself; Divided into five chapters and twenty-five subchapters, this is the core text of Boccob the Uncaring’s faith. It is a collection of sermons and prophecies discussing the origins of the faith, epistles from early members of the religion, commands from Boccob himself, and obscure predictions of the future.
Boccobite commentators have deeply considered the opening lines of the Uncaring’s Will. They are widely discussed in both academic and arcane circles. A common interpretation is similar to Korzybski’s observation that “the map is not the territory”. The opening lines, with literal and common translation, are:
道可道，非常道。(Magic can be said, not usual way) “The Magic that can be described is not the true Magic.”
名可名，非常名。(Magic can be cast, not usual casting) “The Magic that can be cast is not the constant Magic.”
It lays out some major and core themes of the Uncaring One’s principles such as:
- Force begets force.
- One whose needs are simple can fulfill them easily, one whose talents are broad can have broad needs.
- Material wealth is worthless when compared to arcane power.
- Self-absorption and self-importance are vain and self-destructive.
- Martial victory in war is not glorious and not to be celebrated, as one spell should make that victory mute.
- The harder one tries, the more resistance one creates for oneself.
- The more one acts in harmony with the universe (the Mother of the myriad things), the more one will achieve, with less effort.
- The truly wise make little of their own magical knoweldge for the more they know, the more they realize how little they know.
- When we lose the fundamentals, we supplant them with increasingly inferior values which we pretend are the true values.
- Glorification of wealth, power and beauty beget crime, envy and shame and are not true persuits of magic.
- The qualities of flexibility and suppleness, especially as exemplified by water, are superior to rigidity and strength.
- Everything is in its own time and place.
- Duality of nature that complements each other instead of competing with each other — the two faces of the same coin — one cannot exist without the other.
- The differences of opposite polarities — e.g., the differences between male and female, light and dark, strong and weak, good and evil etc. — help us to understand and appreciate the universe.
- Humility is the highest virtue.
- Knowing oneself is a virtue.
- Envy is our calamity; overindulgence is our plight.
- The more you go in search of an answer, the less you will understand.
- Know when it’s time to stop. If you don’t know then stop when you are done.
Words of the Prophets. This is literally a collection of prophecies of all sorts, many of them of doubtful veracity. Acolytes of Boccob study them as much to learn divination’s limitations as its successes.
The Rare Water. Considered a heresy by some Boccobites, The Rare Water claims that each spell cast forever diminishes the amount of magic in the multiverse. Those who trust this book therefore seek to use magic as little as possible. The mainstream church of Boccob teaches that the use of and creation of magic actually replenishes the amount of magic available.
Boccob’s followers include wizards, sorcerers and sages.
Boccob seems not to care whether he is worshiped or not. Nonetheless, he receives devotion from oracles, sages, and seers, and many wizards and archmages consider him their patron. He is known to every culture.
Boccob’s clergy are described as echoing his detached stance on worldly affairs, and instead look towards different pursuits such as magical research and the creation of magical items. Members of Boccob’s clergy are often multiclass cleric/wizards or cleric/sorcerers.
Boccob’s clerics are usually neutral, though a small minority are chaotic neutral. Some are lawful neutral, neutral evil, or neutral good. The church does not actively encourage others to study magic, but neither does it discourage them; its primarily concern is balance.
Boccob’s temples are described as being fortified structures with vast libraries, and are usually sited in urban locations.
Boccob’s temples are generally tall, round towers, although the one in Greyhawk City is a pyramid. The evangelistic patriarch Riggby ran a cathedral dedicated to Boccob in Verbobonc. Some temples of Boccob are guarded by pious templars who combine arcane magic with martial training. Services performed by Boccob’s temples include the identification of magical items and other divination spells.
Boccob is honored with magical research and experimentation, with the burning of incense, the reading from books of arcane lore. Each creation of a new spell or magic item is celebrated (usually once a year, in the holiday known as Great Discovery). High-level followers of Boccob make pilgrimages to other planes of existence.
Prayers to Boccob utilize florid and elaborate language, signifying great erudition, labored formality, and a robust vocabulary.
Celestial Conjuntions. As many clerics of Boccob are astrologers, profound conjunctions of the stars, moons, and Wanderers are observed by the church with the uttering of prophecies and other various complex ceremonies.
Great Discovery. Celebrated early in the year, this holiday honors the magical discoveries made in the previous year. Every five years, the holiday is expanded to include testing for magical talent and expeditions to rediscover lost lore.
The Last Rite of the Prophet. When a powerful cleric or other devotee of Boccob dies, a somber eulogy is held. In addition, some of the magical power is drawn from the corpse to empower a magic item.
Artifacts and associated magic items
The Rod of Reversal looks like a length of unbending steel chain. It reflects spells cast on its wielder.
Boccob’s Blessed Book is a thousand-page tome that allows spells to be inscribed into it without the usual costs.
The Tome of Ancient Lore was allegedly written by Boccob himself and stolen from his Library of Lore. It is said to contain every spell that will ever be conceived, but the index is deliberately difficult to use.
Darvax’s Staff was owned by an Oeridian wizard at the Great Kingdom’s height. Darvax disappeared on his 40th birthday on an expedition to other planes of existence, but his staff – carved from the thighbone of a black dragon and topped with an adamantine symbol of Boccob – is occasionally seen in the Flanaess to this day.
The Razor Bands of the Archmage is a steel orb that rotates around its owner’s head like an ioun stone. It can be ordered to attack like the Iron Bands of Bilarro.
The Sphere of Time Scrying is a blue-hued crystal ball that seems to have been made using the wizardry of the ancient Suloise. It can be used to divine the past.
Myths and Legends
Boccob and the Demon Prince
According to this myth, Boccob once outwitted and bound a mighty demon prince for a thousand years (the identity of this prince varies from tale to tale), using the enslaved demon to counter the plans of a celestial paragon. This myth teaches the importance of the Balance, and how planning and knowledge can be used to overcome a more powerful foe.
The Wizard and the Spellfountain
Once upon a time, a wizard came across a fount of powerful oerthmagic. He used it greedily, however, sharing it with no one, and eventually its reservoir ran “dry.”
The moral of the story is that sources of magical power last longer if more people use it, each distinct spell pattern adding to the reservoir of energy. Magic must be used and shared, not hoarded.
The Lost Spell and the End of Magic
Not so much a myth as a prediction, this story foretells the end of all magic on Oerth. In the myth, a great spell exists that can prevent this calamity, but it is not found in time due to the laziness and shortsightedness of wizards. The story-prophecy is retold often to encourage scholars of magic to keep up with their research.