Bhaal, the Lord of Murder, the Deathbringer, is the God of Death of the Faerunian Pantheon. His legend is of the Dark Three and their quests to battle the Lost Gods and steal divinity for themselves.
Bhaal is worshipped by cultists and assassins that delight in the murder of others to indulge their appetites and advance their station. His name is feared by all the goodly and law abiding folk of Faerun, who make secret offerings to keep the Deathbringer from their door.
Bhaal is one of the Dark Three and the stories of their quest to achieve godhood are told far and wide across Faerun. The most well known of these myths is called “Knucklebones” and depicts the Dark Three challenging the forgotten god Jergal in his home domain. Jergal was happy to freely give up his power, and after distracting the intruding Malar, a contest was held (most often a game of Knucklebones) to decide who would gain what part of Jergal’s power.
Bhaal chose last and became the God of Death to balance out the acquisitions of Bane and Myrkul.
In modern times Bhaal is viewed as being subservient to Bane, who is viewed as being the strongest of the Dark Three. He is most often depicted as a hulking brute covered in bleeding wounds, and armed with a wicked, curving dagger. His head is flayed of flesh, taking on the visage of a bone white skull surrounded by a halo of blood. In this form Bhaal is supposed to be an unthinking brute that slays without thought or question. It is believed this depiction derives from the last days of Bhaal’s life where he was half mad from poison and torture and rampaged across Calimshan and Tethyr before being slain.
The other depiction of Bhaal is that of a cloaked figure wearing a steel harlequin mask. He carries twin curved daggers but is otherwise dressed and cloaked in fine, dark clothing. He stalks opponents relentlessly, increasing their fear and terror until the final blow falls. This depiction is most like the Bhaal of history known in Netheril and Jhaamdath.
Tharlagaunt Bale was an accomplished Arcanist of Netheril, famed for his prowess in mage duels. He was such a skilled duellist that he was often hired by other Arcanists and Archwizards to eliminate their rivals, but despite his magical ability dwarfing more than a few Archwizards, he chose never to raise (or steal) an enclave.
Bale was, unbeknownst to all but a handful of people, one of a select group of candidates infused with the divine power of Jergal. These candidates all became exceptional magic users, even by the standards of the Archwizards of Netheril, and most of those that survived to the Fall of Netheril in -339 DR fulfilled the purpose of their creation and became part of a great ritual in Ascore to create the greatest of divine beings.
Bale and his companions had been on a decades long quest to find the Lost Gods and take their power for themselves. Together the roamed the lands around Netheril, seeking these ancient primordials and stealing their power for themselves, defeating Borem of the Boiling Mud in -359 DR, Maram of the Great Spear in -357 DR, Tyranthraxus in -356??? DR, Camnod the Unseen in -353??? DR, Haask Voice of Hargut in -350 DR.
It is also believed that they travelled into the lands of Jhaamdath following the Fall of Netheril, and then into Calimshan following the Fall of Jhaamdath. Along the way they are thought to have allied with and betrayed other companions, such as Malar and Talona.
In Calimshan the Dark Three sought a great magic imprisoned in the Marching Mountains, in a conflict that echoed events from the dawn of Calimshan and have become muddled with the Myth of Four Rivers as the founding story of the land. It is in Calimshan that the Dark Three finally broke apart and went their separate ways, competing to find the great magic in Calimshan.
Ultimately Bhaal was betrayed by his former companions, poisoned and mutilated by magic until he resembled a hulking behemoth consumed by bloodlust. He was ultimately slain and was secretly buried in an underground vault known as Bhaal’s Rest (the name given to the secret crypt hidden in every temple of Bhaal). His ascension to true divinity likely took place after his death, even though history depicts him becoming a god after challenging Jergal during a mysterious event known as the Dawn Cataclysm.
The Bhaalspawn: There are legends among the Cult of the Deathbringer that Bhaal sired scores of mortal progeny for some purpose known only to himself. The existence of Bhaalspawn is true and there are hundreds of individuals across Faerun (and beyond), in whom the blood of Bhaal is strong.
Tharlagaunt Bale sired many children during his lifetime in Netheril, Jhaamdath, and later Calimshan. All of these children benefited from the power in Bale’s soul and achieved great deeds of fame or infamy, they also all exhibited a peculiar physical trait; golden eyes. These children and Bhaal were responsible for siring a bloodline that has passed into nearly every corner and race of Faerun.
The blood of Bhaal is thinner now than it was, but there are individuals that arise in every generation that have gold flecks in their eyes and abilities far beyond their normal kin, these are the Bhaalspawn and they cause chaos, destruction, and murder wherever they roam.