May 28th, 2008: Howdy Greyfans! I was reading Wizards' product schedule preview the other day and came across this excerpt from Divine Power about the new Core Deity, the Raven Queen:

Rise of the Raven Queen
In the early ages of the world, the souls of mortals unclaimed by the gods were not free to pass to the great beyond after death. Instead Nerull, the god of the dead, held them in his gray, cheerless dominion. The dead were fated to spend eternity as powerless shades, haunted by the memory of life's rich sensation and vigor. Nerull's dominion grew ever greater, as each day myriads of mortal souls came to Pluton and never departed. The god of the dead set his sights on making himself king over all the gods, and began to send blights and plagues into the world to speed the passage of mortals into his realm.

Then an especially powerful mortal died and came to Nerull's domain. She was a beautiful and proud sorcerer-queen. Among the gray shades of mortals held in Pluton, her ghostly form glowed with the fierce power of her will and ambition. Her name in life is forgotten now, but some knew her as Nera, the name that Nerull bestowed on her. Nerull deemed her a worthy consort, and gave her form and substance so that she could rule at his side. This proved to be Nerull's doom, for the sorcerer-queen refused to be second to any being, god or mortal.
Nera discovered the means by which Nerull held mortal shades in thrall, and seized that power for herself. Strengthened by countless souls, she challenged Nerull and strove with him for mastery of Pluton. Although she was mighty indeed, Nerull was an old and strong god, and even shorn of his dead legions he was too strong for her. In order to defeat him she had to expend the souls she held. Each one she released gave up a tiny surge of strength as it passed from bondage, and by freeing almost all the souls held in Pluton she grew strong enough to destroy Nerull and seize his dominion over death.

In her victory, the sorcerer-queen thought to take Nerull's placeóbut the other gods intervened. Rather than rising as new goddess of the dead, she became goddess of death instead. Mortals who did not put themselves in the power of gods or devils in life were no longer bound to eternal existence as shades under her dominion, but instead were free to pass into the infinite, beyond the power or knowledge of the gods. The death goddess has sought to escape the strictures limiting her power ever since. Soon after her ascension she expunged her own true name from the knowledge of all creatures, hoping to void the restrictions in that fashion, and took to calling herself the Raven Queen. She abandoned Pluton, since she could no longer hold souls in thrall, and founded a realm of her own in the mountains of Letherna in the Shadowfell.

In the long centuries since the Raven Queen overthrew Nerull, she has slowly increased her power, adding dominion over fate and winter to her rule over death. While she is not malicious or destructive, she sorely resents the gods who denied her the full power Nerull once wielded and jealously guards her domain. The Raven Queen claims all mortal souls who do place themselves in her power, and those that do are enslaved within her cold realm forever.

Fun stuff eh? For good or ill this is the type of development that would likely take hold in a new 4th edition Greyhawk someday. Would we miss Nerull if he were replaced by a female goddess? And why wouldn't it be - hold that thought my show just came back on...

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