In the World of Greyhawk campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, Istus is the goddess of Fate, Destiny, Divination, the Future, and Honesty. She is known as the Lady of Our Fate and the Colorless and All-Colored. Her symbol is a golden spindle with three strands.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)
Istus was first detailed for the Dungeons & Dragons game in the article "The Deities and Demigods of the World of Greyhawk" by Gary Gygax
#69 (1983). Istus was subsequently detailed in the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting
(1983), and in Greyhawk Adventures
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
Istus featured prominently in the adventure Fate of Istus
Istus was one of the deities described in the From the Ashes set (1992), for the Greyhawk campaign, and appeared again in Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (1998).
Her role in the cosmology of the Planescape campaign setting was described in On Hallowed Ground (1996). Istus is described as one of the good deities that celestials can serve in the supplement Warriors of Heaven (1999).
Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)
Istus's role in the 3rd edition Greyhawk setting was defined in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)
Her priesthood is detailed for this edition in Complete Divine
Istus is the most powerful of the Baklunish
deities, but aloof from mortals and immortals alike, concerning herself only with the fate of the universe. She is depicted in three different ways
. The first is as an old crone, the second as a mature and haughty noble dame, and the third as a cold and unfeeling young maiden. She carries a golden spindle
(her holy symbol), with which she spins the future into the present, thus weaving the web of fate.
Istus holds herself aloof from all other gods, even those of her own pantheon. The mendicant Daoud
was a servant of the Lady of Our Fate in life. Istus is said to have a strange companion, a cloudlike being who is a prince from the Demiplane of Time
In the course of events in the adventure Fate of Istus, Istus creates a being known as the Morgorath who appears in a variety of guises, behaving sometimes as an ally and sometimes as an adversary.
Istus dwells within the Web of Fate, which is thought by some to be a realm in the Outlands
and by some to be a pocket universe beyond the known cosmology, or perhaps a demiplane within the Ethereal Plane
. All times and places are open to Istus as long as she holds her spindle; if she loses it, she must return home immediately.
In the strange metaphysics of the worshippers of Istus, the multiverse is conceived of as an intricate mesh of interconnected threads, with everything connected to everything else. They are believers in predestination, although the threads of fate are sometimes slack enough that destiny can be altered in some small way. Because the future is for the most part foreordained, it can be permitted by those with the skills to perceive how the threads are linked. Clerics of Istus teach that acceptance of one's fate is the only honest approach; those who strive too hard against Fate will only meet their own foreordained ruins.
Because Fate is callous and often unkind, only cynical and unfeeling people tend to make Istus their patron. Centers of Istus' worship are in Dyvers
, the Free City of Greyhawk
, Rel Mord
, and Stoink
. She is also worshipped in Bissel
, the Bright Lands
, the Plains of the Paynims
, the Tiger Nomads
, the Wolf Nomads
, and Zeif
Clergy and temples
Istus has few true followers and her clerics
tend to be stoic and cynical, having seen all the extremes of mortal destinies. They use divinations to discern what fate will bring, and are called upon by nobles and other important people to make predictions about the future. They hold honesty as a virtue, and teach the importance of accepting one's destiny and role in the world. Eighty percent of them are female.
Clerics of Istus wear gray or black robes. Higher ranking clerics have formal vestments with weblike patterns. They must wear their holy symbols openly and allow their hair to grow at least six inches in length.
Services to Istus include hangings of gauze, clouds of incense, the music of woodwinds, chanting, and meditation.
- Brown, Anne. Player's Guide to Greyhawk (TSR, 1998).
- Conforti, Steven, ed. Living Greyhawk Official Listing of Deities for Use in the Campaign, version 2.0. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2005. Available online:
- Findley, Nigel. Greyspace. (TSR, 1992).
- Gygax, Gary, and Frank Mentzer. The Temple of Elemental Evil (TSR, 1985).
- Living Greyhawk Journal no. 3 - "Gods of Oerth"