Editable Codex
Iolo, from Ultima Underworld II
Species: Human
Ultima Underworld II
Location: Castle Britannia

Iolo FitzOwen [yoh-loh] is a recurring character. He first appears in Ultima I, and is one of the companions of the Avatar, and a native of Earth.[1]

Iolo is well known both for his talents as a bard and as a bowyer. He is also the husband of Gwenno (a practiced tinker, bard and scholar) with whom he composed the popular ballad, "Stones" —a reminiscence of Stonehenge which is known to be among the favorites of Lord British.


Iolo originally hails from Earth, and was brought to Sosaria by Lord British.

In Ultima I, he was a ubiquitous town jester, who could be found singing "Ho eyo he hum". A "Gwino" (likely a bastardization of Gwenno) could be found in the various castles of Sosaria.

In Ultima II, Iolo and Gwenno could be found together in the city of New San Antonio on Earth in 1990 AD, enclosed within walls reading "Iolo" and "Gwen." It should be noted, however, that time altered significantly after the death of Minax, potentially making this appearance on his home world ahistorical.

Later, Iolo was part of a project known as the "Great Work," in which Lord British, then king of Sosaria, commissioned a series of exploratory travels to provide detailed maps of his realm. The bard compiled both a map and a song in celebration of the city of Britain, describing the city's role as a center of commerce and the songs of the jesters who dwelt therein. [2]

In Ultima III, Iolo could be found in Lord British's Castle, alongside "Gwino" once more. By now the composition of the bard's classic tune had seemingly evolved - with Iolo still singing "Ho eyo he hum!" as was his wont, but now with Gwino adding an accompanying "Muh eh oye oh!" to the song, reversing its phonetics.[3] [4]

Iolo explains current events, Ultima V

In Ultima IV, the Stranger found Iolo in Britain, playing his lute for the entertainment of all who would listen. If asked, he would describe the virtue of Compassion, explaining how it helped to foster communal reciprocity. When complimented regarding his musical talents, he asked to join in the hero's quest to obtain Avatarhood.[5]

Iolo was declared an outlaw during the time of Blackthorn's regime and was forced, along with many of the Avatar's other companions, into hiding. Around this time, Iolo moved into the Deep Forest outside the city of Yew, although he still kept up a shop, known as Iolo's Bows, which sold his works as a bowyer in Britain; with Gwenno managing the store while he was away. It was also around this point that Smith, the fantastical talking horse, came to be stabled on Iolo's land - although whether or not Iolo ever actually owned Smith is a matter which has never been entirely clear.

In Ultima V, after the Avatar was finally summoned back to Britannia through the Codex Coin, Iolo was the second companion to greet the returned hero, who came to his hut with the badly injured Shamino in tow. After the ranger's wounds had been tended to, it was Iolo who told the champion of the disappearance of Lord British and of the coming of Blackthorn's oppressive reign. The bard soon after joined with Shamino and the Avatar in the beginning of their quest to topple the tyranny plaguing the land.

After Blackthorn's exile, Iolo began to train an apprentice, Gwenneth, in the arts of bowyery. He eventually handed over the day to day management of Iolo's Bows to her, citing a wish to retire from craftsmanship to pursue his endeavors as a musician.[6]

In Ultima VI, Iolo helped to save the Avatar, along with Shamino and Dupre, when the three companions intervened to rescue the hero from sacrifice at the hands of the gargoyles. During the struggle, it was Iolo's crossbow bolt which landed in the forehead of the gargoyle priest who held a knife to the hero's throat, upsetting the intended ritual slaughter of the False Prophet. After escaping with the freed Avatar to the Castle of Lord British through a red moongate, the bard once more joined in the hero's quest.

After the gargoyle wars reached their conclusion, Iolo seemingly ended his retirement and expanded his business over the next two-hundred years, opening a second shop known as "Iolo's South" near Serpent's Hold, and pioneering such innovations as the Triple Crossbow, a weapon capable of firing three bolts at once. He also took on another apprentice, Coop, who shared his master's enthusiasm for music as well as bowyery.

In Ultima VII, Iolo, now graying and old, met with the Avatar immediately after his arrival in Trinsic through a red moongate. The bard had come to the city to speak with his acquaintance, Finnigan, and was discussing the details of the sudden and horrific murder of the town's blacksmith, Christopher, when the hero appeared. Iolo urged the Avatar to investigate the manner, joining his old friend immediately to offer what assistance he could.[7] During the following quest, which came to be the hero's first brush with the Guardian, it was found that Gwenno had encountered a sailor from Buccaneer's Den who had offered her a map to the legendary Serpent Isle. Thrilled at the opportunity to explore the strange new land, Gwenno took off on a voyage of exploration, leaving Iolo behind in Britannia.

In Ultima Underworld II, Iolo was among the guests attending the fête at Lord British's castle to celebrate the Reconstruction, and was trapped inside of the great blackrock dome that the Guardian crafted to imprison the revelers.

In Ultima VII Part Two, Iolo accompanied the Avatar to Serpent Isle, hoping to find his lost wife and to assist the hero in tracking former head of the Fellowship, Batlin. Throughout the adventure there, Iolo spoke of his love for Gwenno, eventually gaining the attention of Lady Yelinda of Fawn with a song composed to reflect his woe at her absence. When it eventually came to be revealed that Gwenno had been slain in the course of her journey, the bard was heartbroken.

During the Avatar's adventures within the ruins of the ancient Ophidian civilization, Iolo became possessed by the Bane of Insanity, an aspect of the shattered Chaos Serpent from Ophidian cosmology. In this fallen state, Iolo slaughtered numerous inhabitants of the city of Fawn. He was eventually struck down and cured of his possession (and the resultant insanity it imbued him with) by the Avatar, and reunited with the resurrected Gwenno, who had been found and revived in the course of the hero's adventures.

In Ultima IX, Iolo, like many of the other companions, had been seduced by the power of the columns, taking on the name Ooli and the mantle of the Wyrmguard. He could be found guarding the column near Dungeon Despise.[8] If the Avatar chose to spare his life, he could later be found in his new home near the outskirts of Britain, after the Shrine of Compassion had been restored. Here, the aged bowyer would teach the Avatar an advanced shooting technique, and would give him his personal bow.

Later, Iolo would aid in the final defeat of the Guardian, journeying to the Despise again to cleanse the corrupting column linked to it, helping to cut off the Guardian's power and to divert the catastrophic collision of Trammel and Felucca.[9]


Iolo the bard has been a companion to the Avatar since the days of Mondain's assault. Like the Avatar and Lord British, he was born on Earth, although he has chosen to spend his life here in Britannia.

- from A Safe Passage Through Britannia (Ultima Underworld II)

The Tale of Iolo and the Brigand: A Parable of Compassion[]

Iolo was Bard, bowman and freeholder, as well as the trusted friend and champion of Lord British. It was not strange, therefore, that his neighbors should turn to him in time of crisis.

The nature of the crisis at hand was a single man named Edric, a brigand by trade, who had come to haunt the trails that cut through the wild forests and hills of that region. He was a most cruel villain, with no thought for the lives or honor of his victims, and robbery was the very least of his depravities.

See the complete tale at: The Tale of Iolo and the Brigand: a Parable of Compassion


  • Iolo's counterpart in reality is David R. Watson of Texas, a personal friend of Ultima creator Richard Garriott and an actual bowyer by trade. Watson actually composed the ballad, "Stones;" his late wife Kathleen Jones (who appeared in the series as Gwenno) wrote the lyrics. Watson also appears as Triolo and Dr. David Yellin in the Worlds of Ultima series.
  • In Ultima VI, conversing with Iolo can allow the player to access the cheat menu. See Cheating in Ultima VI for more information.
  • In Ultima Underworld II, Iolo looks much younger when met in the midst of his dreams. Makes it clear that old men do dream of being young...
  • In Ultima IX, the Avatar may opt to slay Iolo when encountering him as a Wyrmguard. If this happens, Gwenno will become furious with the Avatar and Iolo will later appear as a ghost, thanking the hero for releasing him from his bondage to the Guardian. He will later be restored to life along with Dupre and any other slain companions once the Shrine of Spirituality is cleansed. [10]
  • Iolo is lactose intolerant


The Companions of the Avatar
The Companions Mariah Iolo Geoffrey Jaana Julia Dupre Shamino Katrina