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Evil Pantheon

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1 Evil Pantheon on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:07 pm

Bane
The Black Lord, The Black Hand, the Lord of Darkness

Symbol: Green rays squeezed forth from a black fist
Home Plane: The Barrens of Doom and Despair
Alignment: Lawful EvilPortfolio: Strife, hatred, tyranny, fear
Worshipers: Conquerors, evil fighters and monks, tyrants,wizards
Cleric Alignments: LN, LE, NE
Domains: Evil, Destruction, Hatred, Law, Tyranny
Favored Weapon: "The Black Hand of Bane" (morningstar)

The twisted halls of Zhentil Keep echo with malign invocations chanted in shadowy temples though Faerun. Bane (bain) the Lord of Darkness, has conquered death itself, returning to the world to give dark inspiration to a thousand intrigues, to foment fear and hatred in civilized lands, and to reassure the common mortal that tyranny, through it may suffer occasional defeat, will never die. Though Bane transcended mortality centuries ago, his primary goal remains notably human -- he seeks nothing short of the total domination of Faerun. When his servants sit upon the throne of every land, when commoners serve their masters in fear for their very lives, and when altruism and hope have been erased from the world, only then will Bane rest. Until that dark day, however, the Black Hand has eternity to hatch demented plots and vile intrigues. Eventually, he will rule all Faerun, but there's no hurry. Getting there will be half the fun.

Bane prefers to keep to the shadows, allowing his servants to carry out his intricate plans. On the rare occasion in which he appears, he takes the form of a shadowy humanoid figure -- often bare-chested, sometimes wearing dark armor and a stylish black cloak streaked with red. His right hand, invariably protected by a jeweled metal gauntlet, is all the weapon he needs to dispatch the few foes brave (or foolhardy) enough to attack him. He has no tolerance for failure and seldom thinks twice about submitting even a loyal servant to rigorous tortures to ensure complete obedience to his demanding, regimented doctrine. Though possessed of an unforgiving wrath when aroused, Bane is slow to anger, existing in a perpetual stat of controlled burn.

Bane's tyranny is known throughout the continent, and his is the image most seen as the face of evil. When news of Bane's destruction during the Time of Troubles made its way throughout Faerun, no fewer then twenty-seven nations declared national festivals of celebration and thanksgiving. The commoner sees Bane's clerics as petty would-be dictators unafraid to use immoral tactics and unthinkable violence to spread their influence and agenda. The adventurer sees the clergy as constant interlopers and enemies, agents of rigid, evil philosophy who side with monsters, devils, and savage humanoids to further their wicked ends. Canny nobles glimpse the truest threat, that some of their peers pay homage to the Black Lord to gain through guile and subterfuge what soldiers cannot conquer by force.

Clerics of bane pray for spells at midnight. Their religion recognizes no official holidays, though servants give thanks to the Black Hand before and after major battles or before a particularly important act of subterfuge. Senior clerics often declare holy days at a moment's notice, usually claiming to act upon divine inspiration granted to them in dreams. Rites include drumming, chanting, and the sacrifice of intelligent beings, usually upon an altar of black basalt or obsidian. Of late, clerics of Cyric have become a preferred sacrifice, though old favorites such as paladins, unicorns, children, and celestials remain popular with traditionalists. Clerics of Bane most commonly multiclass in fighters, monks, blackguards, or dreadmasters. Those associated with the Cult of the Dragon often multiclass as wearers of Purple.

HISTORY/RELATIONSHIPS: Even as a human, Bane wanted nothing more than to become the most feared, respected tyrant the world had ever known. However, doing so would require an infusion of arcane power greater than that usually accorded to mortals. Hence, the calculating despot joined forces with the similarly driven humans Bhaal and Myrkul in a pact of mutual assistance that would end in the apotheosis of the entire trio. The three villains adventured across the breadth of Faerun, defeated countless foes, slew one of the Seven Lost Gods, and traveled throughout the Lower Planes before achieving that goal. They benefited from the generosity (or, as some suggest, indifference) of the dispassionate Jergal, who had become bored with his role as patron of strife, death, and the dead. Each gained one-third of Jergal's portfolio and dominated their area of concern for centuries.

However, even complete control over strife was not enough for Bane, whose desire for supremacy led him, in 1358 DR, to once again team with Myrkul. The pair stole the Tablets of Fate, inscribed by Lord Ao to outline the roles of the deities of Toril. This precipitated the calamitous Time of Troubles, during which Bane was slain by Torm the True in a furious battle in the harbor of Tantras. It seemed the Black Lord's ceaseless ambition had at last led to his destruction. Bane's church fragmented, with most of the faithful defecting to the clergies of Cyric, who inherited Bane's portfolios, and Iyachtu Xvim, the progeny of Bane's coupling with a powerful demon. Agents of weal and freedom breathed easier in those days, knowing the Toril was rid of perhaps its greatest menace.

Those who let down their guard, however, did so rashly, and far too soon. On midwinter night of 1372 DR, Xvim burst in a conflagration of diabolical green light. From the smoking husk of his remains emerged a newly reinvigorated Bane, his right hand ablaze with green fire. Xvim, it appeared, had been little more than a sentient cocoon, a shell in which grew a festering larva that would, in time, become Bane. Within days, the Xvimlar clergy had converted to the worship of Bane, and a great evil once again cast its calculating stare over the lands of Faerun.

Bane hates virtually the entire Faerunian pantheon but holds special antipathy for Torm, Cyric, Mystra, Tempus, Helm, Lathander, Oghma, and Ilmater, in that order. He has established a working relationship with Loviatar, Mask, and Talona, but as these deities desperately fear him, the alliances are not strong. Bane sees Cyric as a loathsome usurper, and his entire following is mobilizing for a holy war against the Black Sun.

DOGMA: Serve no one but Bane. Fear him always and make others fear him even more than you do. The Black Hand always strikes down those who stand against it in the end. Defy Bane and die -- or in death find loyalty to him, for he shall compel it. Submit to the word of Bane as uttered by his ranking clergy, since true power can only be gained through service to him. Spread the dark fear of Bane. It is the doom of those who do not follow him to let power slip through their hands. Those who cross the Black Hand meet their dooms earlier and more harshly than those who worship other deities.



Last edited by jeffinak on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:25 pm; edited 1 time in total

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2 Cyric on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:08 pm

Cyric
Prince of Lies, Prince of Madness, the Dark Sun, the Black Sun, the Mad God, Lord of Three Crowns

Greater Power of Pandemonium, CE

PORTFOLIO: Murder, strife, lies, intrigue, deception, illusion
DOMAINS : Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Illusion, Tricker
ALIASES: Leira, N'asr (Anauroch, among the Bedine), Bane, Bhaal, Myrkul, Cyruk (among ex-Myrkulytes)
HOME PLANE: Cocytus/Shattered Castle
SUPERIOR: None
ALLIES: None
FOES: Mystra, Kelemvor, Oghma, Azuth, Mask, Tyr, Torm, Deneir, Leira, Iyachtu Xvim, and many others
SYMBOL: A white skull (sans jawbone) on a dark purple or black sunburst
WOR. ALIGN.: LN, N, CN, LE, CE, NE

Cyric (SEER-ick) is a god born of the events of the Time of Troubles. He gained the followers and portfolios of many old evil gods, and fights to retain them. His power base is immense, and he is one of the three greater powers of evil in Faerûn. The destruction of Zhentil Keep, along with many of the rest of the woes of Faerûn, may be laid at his feet. In an attempt to further enhance his own power, Cyric created the Cyrinishad, a book that is enchanted to bind the reader slavishly to believing that Cyric is the most important being in the universe, exceeding all others. Cyric made the serious error of reading his own book and is now mad, believing that he himself is the center of the universe and everything that occurs is by his direct intervention.

Cyric's madness has taken a number of forms, including visions and a continual chorus of voices that burble and moan in the back of his mind. These voices may be parts of Cyric's own shattered consciousness or they may be the remains of the gods that Cyric slew or usurped the portfolios of.

Cyric is petty, megalomaniacal, and totally self-centered. He enjoys tricking and misleading both well-meaning and corrupt individuals and then revealing his deceit when they have made some fatal mistake in judgement or taken a personally devastating course of action that will ruin their lives. His favorite libation is the tears of disillusioned dreamers and broken-hearted lovers, which he drinks from a silver chalice encrusted with tiny rubies in the shape of sundered hearts.

Cyric hates the other gods, most especially Mystra and Kelemvor, but believes they are his puppets, easily fooled and defeated, existing only on his whim. Due to the consequences of his creation of the Cyrinishad, Cyric abandoned the portfolio of death and the dead to Kelemvor and lost the portfolio of tyranny to Iyachtu Xvim, the Godson of Bane.

Cyric uses his new, twisted, ever-changing home in Pandemonium, the Shattered Keep (Cyric refers to it as the "Castle of the Supreme Throne"), as a base for his future plans for the Realms. Such plans have thus far met varying degrees of success, but Cyric believes that the results are as he himself has declared—since he is the most powerful being in the universe.

Other Manifestations

Cyric prefers to haunt the dreams of his worshippers as a bloody wraith or manifest as a cloud of poisonous smoke before his enemies rather than sending an avatar. He sometimes manifests as a sudden gloom containing the phantom images of whirling human skulls—and the dark, intent gaze of two black eyes. At other times he sends nightmares or various undead creatures to do his bidding or show his favor or displeasure. Cyric is not above masquerading as another deity to gain the worship of mortals and the power derived from that worship.

The Church

Cyric's faith attracts power, and it remains strong in any area where evil is planned and beings seek to impress their will on others. Cyric's most devoted followers are young evil men and women seeking to make thier way in an uncertain world and gathering as much power as possible for themselves. He also attracts the worship of almost all who pursue assassination for a living, though most of them are new to that profession, considering the demise of all Faerûnian assassins during the Time of Troubles.

The church of Cyric benefited from a decade of growth and consolidation before the events that drove its god mad. The church absorbed a great many worshippers of Bane, Bhaal, Myrkul, and even the (still-hushed) revelation of the demise of Leira swelled it's ranks.

The true priests of the Dark Sun Cyric ("the Sworn," as they call themselves) are few in number, but growing. Cyric is also still granting spells to a few of the priests of the gods he supplanted after the Time of Troubles in an attempt to maintain these priests' powers long enough to convert them. This strategy worked well for the Bhaalist and Mykulyte clergy, who had almost all converted before the destruction of Zhentil Keep once more shook the Faerûnian pantheon. The Banite priests remained stubborn, and the Cyricist church finally solved the problem of Bane in Zhentil Keep with a purge, known as the Banedeath, that led to the death or forced conversion of all Banites in Zhentil Keep (driving any survivors underground).

This purge tactic was being initiated all over Faerûn when the Keep fell and Kelemvor and Iyachtu Xvim were catapulted to prominence in the Faerûnian pantheon. At this point, Cyric lost most ex-Myrkulyte priests to Kelemvor and almost all unconverted Banite priests to Xvim. Feuds and internal strife are rampant among the now-integrated Myrkulytes, Bhaalists, and Banites and the true priests of Cyric (those who entered the church after Cyric's ascension), as the ambitious, ruthless clergy members all seek to win ever-higher ranks within the still-unsettled priesthood. To these people, personal power—and its use upon others—is everything. Trust is not in great supply among adherents of the Dark Sun.

Cyric, though now a few monks shy of a monastery, remains closely involved with the upper ranks of his clergy. His high priests are expected to carry out his orders, regardless of how dangerous or odd they may seem. Some priests carry out their tasks as enthusiastically as they had before. Others seek to obey the letter of any directives while changing the spirit of them.

The priesthood is still very much in flux. Its members employ a wide variety of titles and disput each other's rank often. Members of the clergy are always aware of the possibility that a superior may stumble, allowing them to advance. Priests are often encouraged by inner voices that may or may not be the voice of their deity. Popular priestly titles seem to include Dark Master, Hand of Cyric, Watchful Skull, and Dread Death.

Dogma: Cyric's faith is one of control by any means necessary. Force and deception are used in equal measure to spread his word. He (or the masks he wears) is highly venerated by those of black hearts and evil deeds, from petty murderers to evil rulers of empires.

Cyricist priests are given the following charge: "Death to traitors. Death to all who oppose Cyric. Bow down before the supreme power of Cyric, and yield to him the blood of all who do not believe in his supreme power.

"Fear and obey those in authority—but if they are weak or given to pursuing airy goals of vague goodness, slay them in the name of the Dark Sun. Battle against all clergy of other faiths, for they are false prophets and forces who oppose the One True Way.

"Bring death to those who oppose the rightful church of Cyric and those who seek to make or keep peace, order, and laws. All rightful authority comes from Cyric, and all other authority must be subverted.

"Break not into open rebellion, for when hosts march, all faiths and gods awaken. It is better by far to fell one foe at a time and keep all folk afraid, uneasy, in constant strife—and under the spreading tyranny of Cyric."

Cyric's abandonment of the portfolio of death and the dead that he had following the Time of Troubles has freed him to embrace much of where his true heart lies—treachery, deception, and strife. Random violence is never as good as violence that serves some greater, more dangerous purpose. Plans and counterplans can twist and turn on themselves, such that a defeat in one area can bring overall victory for the Dark Sun. Any means, any method, any sacrifice or treachery is allowed if it brings about the desired end.

Day to Day Activities: Priests of the Dark Sun are pledged to spread strife and work murder everywhere in order to make folk fear and believe in Cyric. They support rulers with a taste for cruelty and empire-building, but indulge in intrigue in every land so as to spread strife everywhere without plunging realms into widespread war and thus giving worship only to Tempus the war god.

At least, this is what Cyricists pay lip service to doing. In truth. Cyricists spend most of their time scheming against each other in an endless struggle of cabal against cabal, with each priest striving to strengthen his or her own personal power. In addition, Cyric speaks often to his faithful clergy, but not with one voice. They all fear him and must believe what he tells them each is the One True Way, but what he says often sets different churches at cross-purposes and different Cyricist priests at each other's throats as much as it promotes the defeat of other religions.

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: Cyric as yet has established few holy days. Until the destruction of Zhentil Keep, the final day and night of Marpenoth was observed as a holy day in celebration of the Banedeath, the purge that ensured Cyric's total victory over the persistent worship of Bane within Zhentil Keep. After the Keep's destruction, that holy day suddenly ceased to be observed, and all mention of it has been wiped from official church records.

Cyric's church does not celebrate the anniversary of his ascension to divine status as this also marks the anniversary of Midnight's ascension (and Cyric hates her). In addition, church histories now note that Cyric has always been divine, and therefore his ascension would be illogical to celebrate, although the history of Cyric's noble efforts to regain the Tablets of Fate as a mortal are also a part of church canon. The obvious contradiction of speaking of Cyric's mortal life while maintaining his eternal divinity is not allowed to trouble the minds of Cyric's faithful.

Blood sacrifices are deemed necessary for Cyric to hear any prayers of entreaty. Local priests usually declare an impromptu Day of the Dark Sun (a high holy day) whenever they acquire something (or someone) deemed important enough to sacrifice to Cyric.

Major Centers of Worship: Zhentil Keep was the mightiest seat of Cyricism until its destruction at the end of 1368 DR. No new major centers for Cyricism have emerged since its destruction. Most observers expect one of the three new temples recently erected in Amn to become the mightiest seat of power among followers of the Mad God if they do not destroy each other in the rivalries inevitably to come.

Affiliated Orders: The church of Cyric does not sponsor any knightly orders. Cyric has ordered the establishment of a fighting order, the Company of the Ebon Spur, but the order has found no leader yet. The two priests in charge of establishing admission standards into the order (two high-ranking priests in two of the emerging Amnian temples) cannot agree on what those standards should be and are engaged in intricate plots to kill each other off, since each is convinced he is right. Since Cyric appeared to each of them in a vision and gave them precise and contradictory instructions as to the establishment of the order, he is evidently pleased with their efforts. When the order finally does get off the ground, Cyricist crusaders will lead fighters against rival churches for the glory of Cyric.

Priestly Vestments: Priests of Cyric dress in black or dark purple robes, with or without hoods, trimmed with silver. Silver bracers or bracelets (usually adorned with the stamped skull-and-starburst symbol of Cyric) are worn on the wrists to symbolize the priesthood's enslavement to Cyric (in a symbolic reprise of Cyric's one-time captivity), and some priests paint the symbol of their deity on thier cheeks or foreheads on high holy days.

Adventuring Garb: Priests of Cyric are fond of going about in disguise and love using illusions that alter their appearance when they can obtain them. They dress either to be inconspicuous or to impress, awe, and terrify, depending on what they are assigned to do. Whenever they are in disguise or trying to look inconspicuous, they still attempt to wear as much protective armor or magic as possible wihout it giving them away. When dressing to terrify, they love black armor with ornamentation that looks menacing, such as spiked shoulder and elbow pieces and helms in the shape of snarling monsters.

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3 Myrkul (dead) on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:10 pm

Myrkul (Dead)
Lord of Bones, Old Lord Skull, the Reaper, Lord of the Dead

(FORMER Geater Deity)

Symbol: A white human skull face-on against a black field or a reaching white skeletal hand in white on a black field.
Home Plane: Hades/Oinos/Bone Castle
Alignment: Neutral Evil
Portfolio: the dead, decay, old age, parasites, exhaustion, dusk, autumn, corruption
Worshipers: Necromancers, mourners, intelligent undead, gravediggers, the bereaved, power-hungry mortals, morticians, undertakers
Cleric Alignments: LE, NE, CE
Domains: Death, Evil, Fate, Law, Pestilence, Travel
Favored Weapon: Reaper's Harvest (Scythe)


Myrkul, one of the Dark Gods, WAS the god of the Dead, as opposed to the god of death, which is the province of Bhaal. Myrkul has a cold, malignant intelligence, and speaks in a high whisper. He is always alert, never sleeps, and is never surprised. He is never known to loose his temper or be anything other than coldly amused when a mortal succeeded in avoiding his directives or chosen fate. His influence in Faerûn is imposed through fear, and he is a master of making mortals terrified of him through words and deeds. At times, just to remain unpredictable, he can seem almost kind and caring. His cowled skull head is known in nightmares all over Faerûn, and he is the one deity that almost all human mortals can picture clearly. Myrkul takes care that all mortals think of him often - he is even known to materialize beside open graves, scythe in hand, just to gaze around at gathering mourners for a few silent breaths before fading away, in order to remind everyone that he is waiting for them all...

Myrkul's influence on the Realms is manifested through a variety of servitor creatures. He sends "Deaths", skeletons, zombies, and a wide range of undead horrors to work his will. At more than one occasion has Myrkul unleashed armies of night riders astride gaunts against the still-living. Myrkul also sends bats, black phanters or leopards, hell hounds, nightmares, deepest red roses (that looks black and crumbles when touched), jet, obsidian, onyx, ravens, and crows to show his favor or disfavor and to aid the faithful and harass his enemies.

The faith of Myrkul has never been popular, nor is its priests numerous. Many venerated Myrkul out of fear, and offerings are made in his name at funerals and other solemn occasions, but few actually worships him as their primary faith. Myrkulite priests tend to be morbid loners who enjoy scaring others or enjoy the power of widespread rumors that it is death to touch a priest of Myrkul. Gray ones take care to conceal their identities, always leaving locales where they were born and raised.

The clergy of Myrkul is charged to make folk fear and respect death and the power of the almighty Myrkul so that no one stands against the church or tries to thwart its activities. Gray ones are expected to spread the word that touching a priest of Myrkul brings death. They are expected to tell folk that those in the service of Myrkul have perfect patience and can be trusted utterly - and then conduct themselves accordingly. Myrkulite clergy are to teach the stories of past and future "doombringers" - mortals who roam the land, avenging dead friends, masters, an blood kin to whom they had sworn oaths, and slaying those who scoffed or who held other gods supreme than the Lord of Bones.

The holy symbol of Myrkul is displayed blatantly by his priests who feel no need to hide their allegiance as death will come to all eventually - sooner, it is rumored, for those foolish enough to molest a Myrkulite.

Myrkul is worshipped on a daily basis at dusk, but there is only one calendar-related ritual observed by the Church of Myrkul; The Feast of the Moon is known to the faithful of Myrkul as the Day the Dead are Most With Us. Myrkulites believe that on this day the essence of all dead folk rise and drift as unseen ghosts across Faerûn, seeking their living descendants to deliver messages or warnings, or just to observe. To those worshipping the Lord of Bones, this is a day to celebrate the dead.

Myrkulites all address each other as "Death" or "Most Holy Death", adding the honorific before a known name or title. Novice Myrkulites are referred to as Daring Ones, until they become full priests with the title of Night Bringers. Specialty priests of Myrkul are known as Gray Ones.

Myrkul hold in his service a former deity of the dead - Jergal, he is close allies with the other Dark Gods; Bane the Black God, Bhaal the Lord of Murder and Shar the Nightbringer.

Amongst foes Myrkul counts Chauntea the Great Mother, Lathander the Morninglord and Mielikki the Ranger.

In the Dead Three Myrkul was the second to choose from Jergal's powers. Since Bane, the first to choose, had chosen to rule over Strife, pain, etc., Myrkul tried to one-up him by choosing the Domain of the Dead, so that eventually Bane's subjects would become his. During the Time of Troubles, in which Lord Ao (the God of the Gods) banished all the Gods from the Planes, where they were forced to take on mortal Avatars, Myrkul and Bane teamed up to storm a Celestial Stairway (an ever-changing "stairway to heaven", granting access to the Planes from the Realms).

When Bane's avatar was destroyed during a fight with the legendary mage Elminster in the Temple Of Lathander in the city of Shadowdale, Myrkul had his temple's wizards locate the shards of his power. Three of his wizards died in the process due to the unstable nature of magic in the Realms, which is why Myrkul ventured into the Border Ethereal (since none of the Gods had lived in the Border Ethereal before the Arrival, Lord Ao didn't see any reason to have Helm blockade it). This made it much easier to locate Bane's being and to reform them into a whole again. If not for Myrkul, Bane may have actually "died" that day in Shadowdale. Bane lost most of his followers and his power, and Myrkul mysteriously gained those followers.

Myrkul was killed in a duel with Mystra in the skies over the city of Waterdeep, during the Time of Troubles. However, Myrkul infused the sinister artifact called the Crown of Horns with the remnants of his essence, and teleported it away. The artifact was once in the possession of a yuan-ti from Skullport, but has since abandoned its user. Cyric briefly gained control of Myrkul's portfolio, but it was later granted to Kelemvor.

The Lord of Bones enjoys his new form, free of the rigid rules of godhood. He spends his time harassing the churches of Cyric and Mystra.

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4 Shar on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:12 pm

Shar

Mistress of the Night, the Lady of Loss, Nightsinger

Greater Power of Hades
NE

PORTFOLIO: Dark, night, hatred, loss, forgetfulness, unrevealed secrets, caverns, dungeons, the Underdark
DOMAINS: Cavern, Darkness, Evil, Knowledge
ALIASES: Ibrandul (Calimshan, the Shining South, Waterdeep/Undermountain)
HOME PLANE: Niflheim/Palace of Loss
SUPERIOR: None
ALLIES: Myrkul (now dead), Shevarash, Talona, Vhaeraun
FOES: Amaunator, Ibrandul (now dead), Lathander, Selûne, Shaundakul
SYMBOL: A black disk with a border of deep purple
WORSHIPPERS ALIGNMENT: Any, but mainly evil

Loss is the nature of Shar (SHAHR). One of the Dark Gods, she is a deeply twisted and perverse being of ineffable evil and endless petty hatred and jealousy. She rules over pains hidden but not forgotten, bitterness carefully nurtured away from the light and from others, and quiet revenge for any slight, no matter how old. She is said to have the power to make her devout followers forget their pain, yet what occurs is that they become inured to the loss, treating it as a common and natural state of being. The basic inanity of life and foolishness of hope are the cornerstones of Shar's being. She revels in the concealed, in that wich is hidden, never to be revealed. She can always clearly perceive every being, object, and act performed within darkness.

In temples, representations of the goddes are either a black sphere outlined in racing, magically animated flames of purple or paintings of a beautiful human with long, raven-black hair dressed in swirling dark garb. She smiles coldly and her large eyes have black pupils and are otherwise solid purple.

Shar is the mortal enemy of Selûne and battles her ceaselessly on any planes through mortal worshipers and servitor creatures. The undying enmity between the two goddesses is older than recorded time.

During the Time of Troubles, Shar killed Ibrandul, a lesser power of caverns, dungeons, and the Underdark worshiped in Calimshan, the Shining South, and even Waterdeep, for daring to subvert those who venerate the dark away from her. She appropriated his portfolio. She continues to grant the clergy of Ibrandul spells in Ibrandul's name. She is quietly delighted that she is able to use this puppet church to subvert the worship of Selûne without drawing attention to her most faithful worshipers.

Other Manifestations

Shar frequently manifests as amorphous tendrils of darkness where there should be none. These tendrils swirl and writhe constantly and are surrounded by a purple aura. Such darkness sometimes has a single steadily gazing purple eye at its heart, but even if this orb is absent, beings within the darkness always feel the ceaseless regard of a fell awareness. These tendrils of darkness can touch the faithful and transmit messages from Shar directly to their minds, indicate items of importance or direction, or grant numbness and the ability to ignore pain. The tendrils do not heal just allow the faithful to continue on until they drop dead of fatigue or accumulated injury. Shar also works through darktentacles doom tyrants, and mysterious shadow monsters, using them as messengers, guards, and enforcers of her will.

The Church

Shar is worshiped by blinded, nocturnal, or subterranean-dwelling humans and allied beings and by those who hate the light, such as goblinkin and their allies. She is also worshiped by many who favor dark surroundings or who must undertake deeds or do business in darkness. She is venerated by those who are bitter or are grieving over a loss and wish to find peace (especially through vengeance) and by individuals who want to forget. She is also placated by those who know their wits have been harmed and want to find peace or those who have been mentally harmed and want to remember fully or be restored in their minds. Many in Faerûn fear nightfall, the casting of the cloak of Shar, because of the dangers that lurk in its folds.

The church of Shar is largely composed of underground cells, rather than an overt, uniformed body of priests working from temples. As such, its adherents have a covert, widespread, and complex hierarchy wherein every full priest serves a direct superior, and overpriest responsible for a large area, and beings (both human and otherwise) who know the prist's Own Secret (the personal name Share gave them and the dark deed they performed for her in order to demonstrate their loyality and win that name). Clergy members revel in secrecy, and cells of the church are organized around small congregations of worshipers who know and are led by a single prist. Many priests may operate in the same area, and although they may know of and aid each other, they work independently. In this way, should one cell of the church fail, the others can still flourish in its absence.

Most Sharran clergy use such titles of address as "Brother Night" or "Sister Night." To superiors, they say "Mother Night" or "Father Night," and lay worshipers address them so. Their formal titles include Adept of the Night (a novice), Watcher (the least senior ordained priest). Hand of Shar (a battle-tested priest who leads a force of priests-adventurers or oversees several cells), Darklord/Darklady (a senior priest able to proclaim local policy), Nightseer (the oversett of all faithful in a realm or other large geographical area) and Flame of Darkness (archpriest or personally trusted servant of the goddess).

Specialty priests of Shar are called nightcloaks. Until five years ago, they were called nightbringers, only existed outside the standard church hierarchy, and served as contacts, messengers, and enforcers of the Dark Lady's will. They still perform such detached liaison and enforcement functions, but some nightcloaks have now become integrated into the cell structure/hierarchy of the church, especially among the clergy of the Dark Embrace, discussed below.

Shar's hatred of Selûne extends to her clergy and their relationships with the chruch of Selûne. The two faiths war continually, and jihads and assassination plots against Selûnites are common where Shar is strong. One of the reason the chruch of Shar remains so small is a byproduct of this endless war. Several holy wars and vendettas led by Sharrans against more powerful forces of Selûnites have resulted in many Sharran casualties.

Dogma: Dark Followers (the faithful of Shar) are instructed to reveal secrets only to fellow faithful and to never follow hope or turn to promises of success. They should quench the light of the moon (the faithful of Selune and their holdings, deeds, and magic) whenever they find it and hide from it when they cannot prevail. Above all, the dark should be a time to act, not to wait.

Faithful of Shar are not supposed to hope and are therefore forbidden to strive to better their lot in life or to plan ahead except in matters directly overseen by the clergy of the Dark Goddess. Consorting with beings of good alignment who actively serve their deities is a sin unless undertaken to take advantage of them in purely business dealings or to corrupt them form their beliefs into the service of Shar. Devotees of Shar must not speak out against clergy of the goddess, nor interrupt their devotional dances for any reason. Lay worshippers must prove their faith by obedience to the clergy and by carrying out at least one dark deed ordered by a priest of Shar every year - or bring at least one being to believe in, and worship, the Dark Goddess.

The lower clergy of Shar must obey their superiors in all matters, short of following orders that will lead to their own death - Shar desires to gain followers, not lose them. To win new followers and to keep the faithful truly loyal, clergy must see that some of the dark desires of worshippers are fulfilled (such as the elimination of business rivals).

Day-to-Day Activities: The clergy of Shar seem to pursue practical, local goals designed to further the power of the priesthood and of those who worship Shar, rather than to openly oppose other faiths (save that of Selûne). Shar desires to bring all humans under her sway by promoting general lawlessness and striefe. In this way, most folk will suffer loss and turn to her for peace (especially through vengeance), and the influence of all other faiths will be lessened.

Specifically, Sharran clergy are enjoined to work covertly to bring down all governments, particularly within cities, and to publicize Shar's patronage of avengers so that the desperate and despairing humans of other faiths turn to her to geht revenge and not the weakened demipower of vengeance, Hoar. Sponsorship of thieving guilds and hedonistic clubs of all sorts is a key part of this assault on order, as is the encouragement of political intrigue everywhere. Widespread war and slavery are things to be avoided, Shar wants to gain followers, not see them lives thrown away for no gain.

Shar's love of secrecy is strong. Her clergy work toward fulfilling her desire for secrecy by always acting through manipulation and behind-closed-doors intrigue. They also work through and promote shadowy cabals and organizations that appeal to human desires to be a part of something elite and important, to keep secrets, and to be involved in the mysterious. Fifty or more false cults that have arisen in the past two decades have been born of secret clubs and cabals begun by Sharran priests to corrupt the peace and lawfulness of various cities.

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: As so many devotees of Shar keep their faith secret (and this secrecy is encouraged by senior clergy), the Sharran faith has no set holy days aside from the Feast of the Moon. To Dark Followers (the faithful of Shar) this holiday is known as the Rising of the Dark. They gather on it under cover of the more widespread venerations of the dead to witness a blood sacrifice and learn of any plots or aims the clergy want them to work toward during the winter ahead.

The most important Sharran ritual of worship is Nightfall, the coming of darkness. Clergy hold this ritual every night. It consists of a brief invocation, a dance, a charge or series of inspiring instructions from the godness spoken by one of the clergy or by a raven-haired female lay worshiper, and a revel celebrated by eating, drinking, and dancing together. Lay worshipers must attend at least one Nightfall (or dance to the goddess themselves) and must perform - and report to their fellows - at least one small act of wickedness in salute to the Lady every tenday. On moonless nights, Nightfall is known as the Coming of the Lady, and every congregation must carry out some significant act of vengeance or wichedness in the Dark Lady's name.

The most important ceremony of the priesthood of Shar is the Kiss of the Lady, a horrific night-long revel of slaying and doing dark deeds in the name of the lady that ends with a feast at dawn. Kissmoots are scheduled irregularly, whenever the priests of Old Night decree. Increasingly the rival clergy of the Embrace have been proclaiming that this ritual be celebrated at different times than those decreed by the temple of Old Night.

Major Centers of Worship: The Temple of Old Night in Calimport is the oldest, haughtiest seat of worship to Shar. It is a subterranean complex underlying much of the eastern city ruled by the highest-ranked known mortal servant of Shar: the aged Irtemara, the Dancer Before Dawn, a debauched and jaded Calishite woman famous for her revels and murderous whims (which, over the years, have brought about at least six changes of government in various realms across Faerûn). Irtemara is loyally served by three male priests who work covertly against each other. They will undoubtedly break into open battle for supremacy when Intemara dies.

The Temple of Old Night vies for supremacy over the Dark Followers with the Dark Embrace, a temple founded not quite 40 years ago by clergy of the Dark Goddess dissatisfied with the leadership of Old Night. The Embrace perches atop a crag in Amn, overlooking the midpoint of the trade road linking Imnescar and Esmeltaran. Its policies are more ruthless than those proclaimed in Calimport - the faithful of the Embrace are more openly active in local politics wherever they operate, employing assassinations where intimidation and the fulfillment of dark desires fail. The Embrace is led by a small circle of clergy whose leader seem to be the Eye in the Flame Aubert Heldynstar. Most clergy of the Dark Embrace are nightcloaks.

Affiliated Orders: The church of Shar sponsors no fighting orders or knighty orders. Crusaders who serve the faith are attached to perticular Sharran cells and temples, not the faith in general. Clergy of the faith who have killed one of the clergy of Selûne are rumored to gain access to an honorary order or secret society known as the Dark Justiciars. Many thieves' guilds have connections to Sharran cells, and such affiliated groups use each other for their particular plots mercilessly.

Priestly Vestments: The colors purple and black are used extensively in Shar's church and among her followers. Most Sharran clergy dress in black cloaks or soft, silent dark garb with purple trim, piping, or accessories during rituals. High ceremonial dress of those of rank or taking a special role in a ritual is a long-sleeved robe of deep purple over black tights or a black velvet chemise. A black skullcap covers the entire head, except for on woman with jet-black hair. Such hair is seen as a symbol of the Dark Lady's pleasure and is left to flow unfettered and long. Less commonly encountered versions of Shar's symbol than the one mentioned above are of a glistering purple eye outlined in black with a black pupil or a cowled hunting cloak of unadorned black stretched out flat.

Adventuring Garb: Sharran clergy wear practicular clothes in the fashion of the land they are in while pursuing day-to-day life. They are fond of jewelry fashioned from obsidian, black onyx, amethyst, and purple jade, but they are not required to wear it. When entering a situation where they might encounter hostilities they wear armor and take appropriate protective measures.

Sisters of Light and Darkness

This was the birth of the world and the heavens. After Lord Ao created Realmspace, there was a period of timeless nothingness, a misty realm of shadows before light and dark were seperate entities. Within this dim chaos stalked 13 lords of shadow, the shadevari - whether they came from elsewhere or are children of the shadow itself, none can say.

Eventually this primordialessence coalesced into twin beautiful goddesses who were yin and yang to each other: they were so close they thought of themselves as one being. The Two-Faced Goddess created the heavenly bodies of the crystal sphere and together infused them with life to form the Earthmother, Chauntea. (Although Chauntea has since contracted her essence to encompass only Abei-Toril, in the beginning she embodied all matter in Realmspace.) This new universe was lit by the face of the silver-haired goddess, who called herself Selûne, and darkened by the welcoming tresses of the raven-haired goddess, Shar, but not heat or fire existed within it.

Chauntea begged for warmth so that she could nurture life and living creatures upon the planes that were her body and limbs, and the two Sisters-Who-Were-One became divided, as for the first time they were of two minds. Silvery Selûne contested with her dark sister over whether or not to bring further life to the worlds. During this great conflagration, the gods of war, disease, murder and death, among others, were created from residues of the deific battle. At one point during the battle, Selûne seized the advantage and reached across time and space to a land of eternal fire. Fighting the pain of the blaze, which burned her sorely, she broke off a fregment of that ever-living flame and ignited one of the heaveenly bodies so that it burned in the sky and warmed Chauntea.

Incensed, Shar redoubled her attack on her injured twin and began to snuff out all light and heat throughout the crystal sphere. Again Selûne gave of herself and tore the divine essence of magic from her body, flinging it desperately at her sister in defense of life in the sphere and nearly killing herself of the spiritual injury it caused her. A just-born being of raw magic tore through Shar, bonding to some of her divine magical energy and ripping it free of her, and reforming behind her as the goddess of magic, known now as Mystra, but then as Mystryl. Though Mystryl was composed of both light and dark magic, she favored her first mother Selûne initially, allowing the silver goddess to win an uneasy truce with her more powerful, dark twin. Consumed by bitterness at her defeat, Shar vowed eternal revenge.

The twin goddesses contested for eons as life struggled into existence on Toril and the other planes under Chauntea's watchful gaze. Shar remained powerful, but bitterly alone, while Selûne waxed and waned in power, often drawing strength from her allied daughters and sons and like-minded immigrant deities. Over time, Shar grew strong again, aided by the shadevari who preferred night to blinding light and who stalked the Realms seeking to meld light and dark into shadowy chaos once again. Shar's plot to reform the world after her own desires was undone when Azuth, the High One, formerly the greatest of all mortal spellcasters and now consort to Mystra (incarnate successor to Mystryl), found a way to imprison the shadevari in a pocket-sized crystal sphere located beyond the edges of the world by creating the illusion of a realm of shadows. The Lords of Shadow were drawn to investigate, and before they discovered the trick, Azuth imprisoned the shadevari with the Shadowstar, a key of shadows forged by Gond. The

High Lord then hurled the key into the endless reaches of the cosmos allowing life to flourish on in Chauntea's loving hands.

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5 Talos on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:13 pm

Talos
The Destroyer, the Raging One, the Stormstar, the Storm Lord

Intermediate Power of Pandemonium
CE

PORTFOLIO: Storms, destruction, rebellion, conflagrations, earthshakings, and vortices
DOMAINS:Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Fire, Storm
ALIASES: Baelros/Bhaelros (Calimshan), Kozah (Anauroch, among the Bednine), Malyk (the Underdark)
HOME PLANE: Pandesmos/Towers of Ruin
SUPERIOR: None
ALLIES: Auril, Malar, Umberlee, Velsharoon
FOES: Aerdrie Faenya, Angharradh, Arvoreen, Chauntea, Corellon Larethian, Cyrrollalee, Denier, Eldath, Gond, Hanali Celanil, Helm, Lathander, Mielikki, Mystra, Oghma, Rillifane, Rallathil, Savras, Sehanine Moonbow, Sheela Peryroyl, Shialla, Silvanus, Solonor Thelandira, Sune, Tyr, Valkur, Yondalla
SYMBOL: Three lightning bolts, each of a separate color, radiating from a central point
WORSHIPPERS ALIGNMENT: LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE

Talos (TAH–los) is the destructive force of nature. He is the god of storms, forest fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and general destruction.

Talos is usually encountered as titanic, bellowing laughter in the heart of a gale. Sometimes the laughter is accompanied by two eyes like giant blazing coals, which are surrounded by swirling maelstorms of air. In urban areas Talos more often manifests as two fist-sized, swirling storm clouds. Talos also sometimes works through the presence or action of vargouiles, yeth hounds, quasits, wind walkers, and the elemental spirits known as tempests.

Talassans are taught that life is a combination of random effects and chaos, so the devout should grab what they can, when they can, as who can say when Talos will strike and bring them into afterlife ?

Talassan clergy are to preach to all of the might of Talos, warning them always of the forces only he can command - the fury of all Faerûn. They are never to cease in such speech, so that everyone may know that Talos is to be worshipped by all, and that in time to come he must be, or he will destroy all life with the forces at his command. His clergy should walk unafraid in all storms, forest fires, earthquakes and other disasters, for the power of Talos protects them. They should let others see this whenever possible, so that unbelievers will come to believe in the true power of almighty Talos.

Talassan clergy should make all fear Talos by showing the destruction that he and all of his servants can cause. To avoid tasting his fury, they are to pray to him energetically and tell all folk that such observances - and only such observances - can protect them from the furies of the gales, hailstorms, winds, floods, droughts, blizzards, hurricanes, and other natural dooms. Such forces can also be hurled at one's foes - an advancing orc horde, for instance - if Talos deems a place or a person worth defending. So one cannot afford to ignore Talos, but must bow down and worship him. The clergy of Talos are to proclaim this message to all and show everyone the destruction even the slightest of the servants of Talos can cause.

It should be noted that clergy of Talos enjoy destruction and arm themselves heavily to bring it about where spells may fail at all times. Talassans tend to go to one of two extremes: Either they armor themselves to the hilt in the most menacing-looking armor they can obtain, or they wear next to no armor and use protective magicks instead so that to the average observers they look almost suicidal in their fervor to get into the thick of destruction.

Talos is served by Auril the Frostmaiden, Malar the Beastlord and Umberlee the Bitch Queen. Together they are known as the Gods of Fury.

Dogma: Talos the Destroyer is the dark side of nature, the uncaring and destructive force that lies waiting to strike at any time. Talassans are taught that life is a combination of random effects and chaos, so the devout should grab what they can, when they can, as who can say when Talos will strike and bring them into the afterlife?

Talassan clergy are to preach to all of the might of Talos, warning them always of the forces only he can command the fury. They are never to cease in such speech, so that everyone may know that Talos is to be worshipped by all, and that in time to come he must be, or he will destroy all life with the forces at his command. His clergy should walk unafraid in all storms, forest fires, earthquakes, and other disasters, for the power of Talos protects them. They should let others see this whenever possible, so that unbelievers will come to believe in the true power of almighty Talos.

Talassan clergy should make all fear Talos by showing the destruction that he and all of his servants can cause. To avoid tasting his fury, they are to pray to him energetically and tell all folk that such observances - and only such observances - can protect them form the furies of gales, hailstorms, winds, floods, droughts, blizzards, hurricanes, and other natural dooms. Such forces can also be hurled at one's foes - an advancing orc horde, for instance - if Talos deems a place or a person worth defending. So one cannot afford to ignore Talos, but must bow down and worship him. The clergy of Talos are to proclaim this message to all and show everyone the destruction even the slightest of the servants of Talos can cause.

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6 Beshaba on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:14 pm

Beshaba
The Maid of Misfortune, Lady Doom (Intermediate Faerunian Deity)

Symbol: Black antlers on a red field Home Plane: The Barrens of Doom and Despair

ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
DOMAINS: Chaos, Evil, Fate, Luck, Trickery
PORTFOLIO: Random mischief, misfortune, bad luck, accidents
WOSHIPERS: Assassins, auspicians, capricious individuals, gamblers, rogues, sadists
CLERGY: CE, CN, NE Domains: Chaos, Evil, Fate, Luck, Trickery
FAVORED WEAPON: "Ill Fortune" (barbed scourge) [scourge]

Beshaba (be-sha- ba) is a deity who is feared far more than she is venerated, for she is spiteful, petty, and malicious. The Maid of Misfortune is given to random behavior and bouts of extreme jealousy with regards to her sister, demanding equal veneration (or at least lip service) to that given to Tymora. Although the thought of Beshaba actually appearing is enough to make most folk tremble, she is always invited and welcomed formally in speeches or ceremonies of formal functions (such as marriages and coronations), contests of sport or martial prowess, or at the naming of children. If not invited, she may take offense and wreak endless misfortune upon those involved. Beshaba is worshiped largely out of fear, and it is the task of her clergy to spread that fear by starting talk of Beshaba's power and latest wickedness and by instructing all in how to make offerings to her or in how to join her clergy if they would prefer to be protected against all misfortune. Along the way, the members of her clergy take care to indulge their tastes for random cruelty and sadism. They enjoy acting mysteriously to manipulate simpler folk into serving them in matters both great and small, from providing them with food, luxurious shelter, and companionship to giving them weapons to wield against their rivals in the church of Beshaba and against the clergy of all other faiths.

Clerics of Beshaba pray for their spells at midnight. Immediately before doing so, if at all possible, they must make an offering to the Lady by setting fire to brandy, wine, or spirits while uttering the name of the goddess and dipping a black antler tine into the mixture. Burning one's fingers slightly in doing so is looked upon favorably. Devotees of Beshaba observe both Midsummer and Shieldmeet with wild revels of destruction and rudeness. Otherwise, they ignore the calendar, holding special ceremonies upon the deaths of important clergy members and when one of their number ascends in rank. The former ceremony is known as the Passing and is a rare time of dignity and tender piety. The corpse of the departed is floated down a river amid floating candles in a ceremony that transforms it into an undead creature and teleports its to a random location in Faerun to wreak havoc. The ceremony of ascension is known as the Marking and involves drum music, dancing over flames, and either branding or tattooing. No spell or potion is permitted to mitigate the pain. Many clerics multiclass as assassins, auspicians or rogues.

HISTORY/RELATIONSHIPS: Beshaba was formed when Tyche, the former goddess of luck, split in twain during the Dawn Cataclysm to form her two "daughters" Beshaba, and Tymora. It is said that Beshaba got all the looks and Tymora all the love, as men who have met the gaze of the Maid of Misfortune and either been consumed with lust or driven to carry out her every reckless whim can attest. In women, Beshaba's gaze inspires mania reflective of Lady Doom. Beshaba has spurned Talos's recent overtures, seeing them as an attempt to subsume her portfolio. She has no real allies, but is wholly dedicated to the destruction of Lady Luck. She also enjoys toying with Shaundakul, and masquerades under his name in Anauroch while performing malicious and mischievous tricks (such as causing oases to dry out, blinding people, and causing travelers to get lost).

DOGMA: Bad things happen to everyone, and only by following Beshaba may a person perhaps be spared the worst of her effects. Too much good luck is a bad thing, and to even it out, the wise should plan to undermine the fortunate. Whatever happens, it can only get worse. Fear the Maid of Misfortune and revere her. Spread the message across Faerun to obey Beshaba and make offerings to appease her. If she is not appeased, all will taste firsthand the curse that is spreading throughout Faerun: "Beshaba provides!" (misery and misfortune). Make others worship Beshaba and then advise any being in how to worship Beshaba, or pay the price of being cast out and cursed with misfortune all their days.

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7 Bhaal (dead) on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:15 pm

Bhaal (Dead)
Lord of Murder

(Former Intermediate Deity)

Symbol: human skull surrounded by a counter-clockwise orbit of many streaming blooddrops
Home Plane: The throne of Blood
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Portfolio: Death, especially violent or ritual death (Murder).
Worshipers: Murderers, assassins, bounty hunters, contract killers, and mercenaries
Cleric Alignments: LE, NE, CE
Domains: Death, especially violent or ritual death (Murder)
Favored Weapon: "Bone Blades" (Dagger)


Bhaal (Bahl), one of the Dark Gods, was the God of death, particularily of slaying, assassination, and violent death. His was a powerful faith in Faerun at on time, and the Lord of Murder was venerated by numerous assassins, violent mercenaries, and other brutal and fiendish killers. While he lived, Loviatar and Talona served him (though the two were rivals to each other), and he in turn served Bane.

Bhaal was violent, cruel and hateful at all times, and lived only to hunt and murder. He could be alterately cold, calculating and ruthless or filled with a savage bloodlust. The pretense of living creatures instilled a deadly hunger in the Lord of Murder and an overpowering need to kill and destroy. His minions, such as Karogoth the Beast inthe Moonshae Islands, wrought devastation and violent death wherever they roamed.

Bhaal suffered a series of reverses prior to the Time of Troubles, the most vital being his banishment from the Moonshaes. Bhaal tried to destroy the Earthmother (Chauntea) and seize the Moonshae Islands as his personal domain. The Ravager, imbued with a greater fraction of Bhaal's essence than is normally contained in an avatar, was slain by Tristan, High King of the Ffolk, who wielded the Sword of Cymrych Hugh. As a result, Bhaal was severely weakened and exiled from the Realms for a time.

Before Bhaal could rebuild much of his power, he was returned to Faerun in avatar form by the will of Ao during the Fall of the Gods. Bhaal, reduced to a killing force able only to possess humans, then went on a spreee of murder and destruction the like of which had never before been seen. When Lord Bane sought the power needed to challenge Torm, he slew all of the assassins in the Realms who made up the bulk of the Lord of Murder's faithful, further reducing Bhaal's power. After the Lord of Strife's destruction, Bhaal forged and alliance with Myrkul. The two gods sough the Tablets of Fate so that they could return to the Outer Planes. After pursuing her across the Heartlands, Bhaal kidnapped Midnight and seized one Tablet of Fate, but was murdered soon after by Cyric with the sword Godsbane (later revealed to have been the avatar form of Mask). What remained of Bhaal's essence was absorbed by the Winding Water, and that river has subsequently been poisonous from the Boareskyr Bridge downstream to the Trollclaw Ford.

It is believed that a fragment of Bhaal's personality remains in the jet black, foul-smelling waters of the Winding Water much like Myrkul's essence survives in the Crown of Horns and fragments of Bane's personality survive in his servitor Baneliches. If Bhaal is ever resurrected, it will be in the shadow of Boareskyr Bridge.

Priests of the Lord of Murder were known as either Bhaalists or Bhaalyn and were always a disorganized web of strictly local hierarchies. They tended to be clerics in the urban areas of the Realms, while in remote areas, they tended to be specialty priests known as deathstalkers.

The leader of an area or faction of Bhaal-worship, regardless of level, was always known as the High Primate / High Primistress, and the head of a temple or fortress was its Primate/Primistress. Often fortresses of Bhaal were citadels that sheltered many assassins and sent forth agents to nearby towns or city marketplaces to solicit patrons to hire the occupants of the citadel to perform killings. The assistants of a Primate or Primistress (known in many other faiths as 'priors') held the title First Murder, and the First Murder could call upon the Cowled Deaths (nine most senior clergy members who held offices in the religious household or community). Underneath these eminences were the common clergy members, collectively known as Deathdealers and bearing the shared title (regardless of level or rank) of Slaying Hand.

Urban temples didicated to the Lord of Murder were typically dark, spartan dungeons located beneath a city's streets featuring an occasional mosaic or sculpture depicting a violent death. Most contained several chambers of tokens taken from the bodies of murder victims and large crypts filled with the corpses of past victims who could not be left wher they fell. Rural holy sites were usually primitive shrines located on barren hilltops and dominated by blood-stained sacrificial altars. Typically a ring of stones carved to resemble teardrop-shaped skulls is inlaid in the ground around the altar.

Dogma: Bhaalists belived (in their sick and twisted way) that every murder committed strengthened holy Bhaal. As a result, they viewed murder as both a pastime and a duty. Bhaalists were required to deal death once in every tenday during the darkest period at the heart of the night. If imprisonment or other constraining circumstances made this impossible, they had to murder twice for each death missed. In accordance with the Lord of Murder's teachings, Bhaalists strove to ensure that before they died, murder victims knew who was killing them and that their death was in the name of Bhaal.

Novices of Bhaal were charged as follows: "Make all folk fear Bhaal. Let your killings be especially elegant, or grisly, or seem easy so that those observing them are awed or terrified. Tell folk that gold proffered to the church can make the Lord of Murder overlook them for today."

Day-to-Day Activities: While Bhaal also encouraged the pursuit of personal wealth and hobbies, in the main, Bhaalists spent their nights performing murders and their days perparing for murder (procuring or caring for weapons, journeying to the appropriate site, praying to Bhaal for success, sleeping under guard as to be fully awake for the hours of darkness, eating, training, praying for spells and the like). Many served as assassins, bounty hunters, and mercanaries or in organized brotherhoods of men and women in such professions.

Priests of Bhaal enjoyed killing for its own sake but tried not to murder indiscriminately. Much time and thought went into the planning of not just the dark deeds, but the implications of killing this or that individual. The church tried to eliminate all rivals and those who stood against it, to be sure, but also strove to enrich itself by frightening common folk into placing offerings of coinage and valuables before Bhaalists and by taking care to let economically and socially important individuals live unharmed. High Primate spent much f their time planning the proper strategies of manipulating nearby rulers, inhabitants, and organizations into the deeds and behaviour that the Bhaalyn desired.

Holy Days / Important Ceremonies: The main ritual to Bhaal is, of course, an act of slaying, during which the priest intoned: "Bhaal awaits thee, Bhaal embraces thee, none escape Bhaal" (if necessary, repeatedly). After each murder, a priest of Bhaal drew Bhaal's symbol beside the corpse in the blood of the victim and smeared the blood on his or her own hands, from where it promptly vanished if the ceremony was done fitly.

Priestly Vestments: Regardless of rank or gender, all Bhaalyn wore full ceremonial robes and cowls of deep purple or of black with violet streaks of random size, shape and placement. The interior linings of the cowl and garments were always deep black, and a black veil was worn over the face to make the cowl seem empty to an observer. High-ranking priests sometimes added a scarlet sash to this costume for easy recognition when ill-lit rituals were taking place. Curve-bladed ceremonial daggers were worn on the belt, but only High Primates, Primates or other members of the Brethern of the Keen strike employed them in combat or slayings; all other Bhaalists used them only in rituals.

Adventuring Garb: When adventures were undertaken or guard duty preformed, Bhaayln wore full armor of the best type they could obtain or were allowed to wear. Black capes and black leggings usually accompanied the serviceable armour.

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8 Auril on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:16 pm

Auril
Frostmaiden, Icedawn, the Cold Goddess, Lady Frostkiss

Lesser Power of Pandemonium, NE

PORTFOLIO: Cold, winter
DOMAINS: Air, Evil, Storm, Water
ALIASES: Saukuruk (among the peoples of the Great Glacier)
HOME PLANE: Pandesmos/Winter's Hall
SUPERIOR: Talos
ALLIES: Talos, Umberlee, Malar
FOES: At'ar (Amaunator-now dead), Moander (now dead), Sune, Chauntea, Shiallia, Uthgar
SYMBOL: A white snowflake on a gray diamond (a heraldic lozenge) with a white border
WOR. ALIGN.: LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE

Auril (AWE-ril) is most powerful in those regions that are affected by deep winters or crouch at the edges of the Great Glacier. She is worshiped primarily out of fear. She serves Talos and is one of the Gods of Fury, and much of her ethos is similar to that of the god of nature's destruction. She has seen much of her personal power eroded by Talos, and as a result, the winters have grown colder in the past decade to remind the northerners who still controls the power of cold. While she can call on the other Gods of Fury for aid, she only does so with Umberlee with any confidence; Talos usually responds but them directs all the glory and worship to himself, and Malar despises her. The feeling is mutual.

When portrayed, Auril appears similar to her Frostmaiden avatar (see below). She is a fickle, vain, and evil creature whose cold divine heart remains untouched by any hint of true love, noble feeling, or honor. She often toys with those who offend her, trapping them in snow storms and then driving them insane by tantalizing them with visions of warmth and the comforts of home before she freezes them to death. Her eternal beauty is cold and deadly the flower of womanhood preserved forever in a slab of arctic ice-with sensibilities to match the ice.

Other Manifestations

Auril usually manifests as icy breath accompanied by a cold, ruthless chuckling and a blue-white radiance that leaves a thin line of frost to mark its passage. She also appears as a blank-eyed face of frost with long, wind-whipped white hair that radiates intense cold. Auril uses this latter manifestation if she wants to speak, slay, or confer items of power upon worshipers. She slays with her life-chilling kiss and confers boons by breathing them out of the face's mouth. Her victims must make a successful saving throw vs. death magic to survive the face's kiss.

Auril also indicates her favor or disfavor or sends aid through the presence or action of water elementals, ice para-elementals, undead, winter wolves, frost giants, and other arctic creatures.

The Church

Auril is feared and worshiped in order to hold off the depredations of the harsh winters with which she threatens Faerun. Trappers, miners, and settlers in the North, some barbarians and inhabitants of the Great Glacier, and residents of the lands crouching at any glacier's edge revere her and honor her in attempts to placate her cold fury come winter time. In recent years, winters have been getting longer and colder, and more and more folk have been making the prayers to Auril that her clergy urge be done. A few clans of frost giants are led by shamans in her service.

Priestesses of Auril roam the lands of Faerun, especially in the North, though her clergy are now being seen more often in the Heartlands. Auril's church has a few males within its ranks, but most clergy of the Frostmaiden are female. Specialty priests of Auril, called icepriestesses and icepriests, make up one-third of Auril's priesthood. The relationship between the specialty priests and the clerics of Auril is very good. The entire church is very loosely and informally organized, and clergy members wander and are largely independent. Most priests of Auril use only the honorific "Hand of Auril" or "Icebreath," but at temples such as the House of Auril's Breath at Glister the clergy use formal titles. In ascending order, these are: Postulant, Votre, Icewind, Storm Sister/Storm Brother (a title given to the great bulk of priests between 3rd level and 8th), Frosttouch, Lady/Lord Cold, Lady/Lord Deep Winter, Lady/Lord Cold Circle, and High Hand of Ice.

Because of their immunity to natural cold, priestesses of Auril are often seen scampering lightly through the snows in summer-weight clothing or bathing in frigid river waters in the depths of winter to no apparent ill effect. They need much less food than other beings because of this ability, and often roam the northlands energetically when blizzards have forced other folk to hole up against the weather. Many priestesses of Auril make a handsome living delivering medicines, messages, and needed supplies throughout the northlands in winter.

Dogma: Auril charges her clergy to: "Cover all the lands with ice. Quench fire wherever it is found. Let in the winds and the cold; cut down windbreaks and chop holes in walls and roofs that my breath may come in. Work darknesses to hide the cursed sun so that the chill I bring may slay. Take the life of an arctic creature only in great need, but slay others at will. Make all Faerun fear me."

Auril's clergy are commanded to revere her and sing her praises into any chill breeze or winter wind. They are to make all creatures fear or worship her and to bring down her cold power against all so that all may know her and quake before her. They are not to raise their hands against any other priest of Auril.

Day-to-Day Activities: Clergy of Auril seek to make all folk fear their goddess and her clergy (to cut down on the attacks they face) through the fury of the winter weather. They also try to make themselves personally wealthy and influential by carrying out tasks that others cannot in the worst winter weather and by magically protecting those who pay or obey from the worst winter conditions. Clergy members make offerings to the goddess of some of the wealth they amass by scattering it in falling snow during a storm or throwing it through cracks in river ice or glacial crevasses during the winter.

In the cold months, Auril expects each of her priests to force or persuade someone to pray to her in the approved manner by beseeching Auril for mercy and praising her for the "cold cleansing" she brings. This prayer must last for the length of time it takes a piece of ice larger than the "supplicant's" hand to melt against his or her bared flesh. It must be done out of doors and preferably at night. During the winter, Aurilian clergy are also expected to slay at least one creature by cold. This is often done so as to provide worshipers or potential worshipers of the goddess with food or to slay a personal foe of the priestess or priest.

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: Midwinter Night is the most holy time of the year to clergy of Auril. It is a festival of ice-dancing that lasts the whole night through, during which the goddess desires her clergy both to enjoy themselves and to lure as many folk as possible into her service.

Postulants are instructed in the ways of the goddess, and must undergo the most sacred ritual of Auril to gain admittance into her clergy: the Embracing. This personal ritual may occur at any time of year, but if it is in summer, the postulant must journey to arctic or high mountain regions in order to find a blizzard. The Embracing consists of running through a blizzard all night long dressed in only boots (though they may be thigh-high), a thin shift, and body paint depicting symbols sacred to Auril. Celebrants either perish of exposure or are accepted by the goddess by being rescued from the pain and shivering by Her Embrace.

Thereafter, clergy members usually pray in private, by lying out in the snow all night long in prayer vigil. In summer, her clergy usually immerse themselves (except for their heads) in the coldest water they can find, typically by lying down in a fast-flowing stream. Auril answers their queries and gives them directions and missions through mind visions.

Two informal but enthusiastically celebrated rituals are the Coming Storm and the Last Storm-howling ice storms called up by clergy working en masse with all the cold magic they can muster. Together they bring fierce weather down upon a town or region to mark the onset of winter or its last gasp as spring begins.

Major Centers of Worship: The House of Auril's Breath in Glister, north of the Moonsea, is the largest and most influential temple to the cold goddess, boasting a congregation of over 1,600 gathering around the fires fore nightly Fire and Ice rituals (all of them miners and fur trappers too afraid not to venerate Auril). High Hand of Ice (high priest) Malakhar Rhenta leads the Storm Circle of 14 or so senior priestesses in running the temple and planning the weather maic they work. The House of Auril's breath is known more commonly to those not of the faith as "the Cold House" or, more bitterly, "Cold Comfort Towers."

Affiliated Orders: Auril's church has no affiliated military or knightly orders. She is just not of a mind to sponsor prolonged military actions; she would rather send a blizzard down on those who offend her than troops. An odd assortment of cults and fellowships have grown up around or become attached to her worship, though. These groups include the Cult of Frost, whose driving goal is the acquisition of the artifact known as the Ring of Winter; a group of wizards known as the Frost Witches, who have recorded at least one tome of frost and cold magic in Auril's name and are reputed to know the location of the Codicil of White, a priestly book describing Aurilian rituals and containing some wizard spells also; and the Sisters of Istishia, who worship Istishia as a herald of cold and servant of Auril. The Sisters of Istishia's worship seems to benefit Istishia, not Auril, as a few Aurilian priestesses have been given a divine mandate to seek out the Sisters and "correct" their theology.

Priestly Vestments: Priests of Auril wear ice-white ceremonial robes with blue piping. The robes are cinched at the waist by a very wide silver belt, which also hold the requisite ceremonial ice axe. The ice axe bears the snowflake-in-lozenge symbol of the faith. A silver circlet on the head is the final touch.

Adventuring Garb: When adventuring, most priests of Auril wear at least the circlet, the belt, and the ice axe with their normal day-to-day clothes. Since they are immune to the effects of cold, they usually wear only what clothing they think enhances their appearance, not necessarily what others are wearing for the weather. They never encumber themselves with excessive clothing or large sleeping bundles, preferring to travel light for maximum mobility.

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9 Loviatar on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:17 pm

Loviatar
Maiden of Pain, the Willing Whip, Patroness of Torturers

Lesser Power of Gehenna, LE

PORTFOLIO: Pain, hurt, agony, torment, suffering, torture
DOMAINS: Evil, Law, Retribution, Strength, Suffering
HOME PLANE: Mungoth/Ondrland
SUPERIOR: None (formerly Bhaal)
ALLIES: Malar, Bane (now dead), Bhaal (now dead)
FOES: Ilmater, Eldath, Talona, Lliira
SYMBOL: A black nine-stranded whip, the ends bloody and barbed, or (in elder days) a chalk-white, slim, female human left hand, fingertips downward, with three drops of blood dripping from each of them.
WOR. ALIGN.: LE, NE, CE

Loviatar (Loh-VEE-a-tar), one of the Dark Gods, appears in her religion's art as a pale maiden dressed in white, pleated armor and carrying a bone-white wand, a whip, or a scourge that she uses as a weapon against her foes. She is venerated by torturers, sadists, and other twisted and evil people and creatures, including some nonhumans who love to bully other nonhumans. While he lived, Loviatar served Bhaal along with Talona, though the two goddesses are heated rivals. Loviatar loves to torment and tease Talona and has more than once expressed the opinion that by all rights Talona ought to and eventually will serve her.

Loviatar is aggressive, domineering, and fearless. She has a cold and calculatingly cruel nature and is also almost unreachable emotionally-toward love, fear, or even hatred. It would have to be a miracle for any deity or moral to make a dent in her icebound heart. She has an instinct for inflicting both physical and psychological pain, and she always seems to know what to say and the way to say it to inflict the most hurt and raise the biggest self-doubts in someone, mortal or deity. And unlike most simple bullies, she does not fear pain or hurt herself and laughs at attempts to physically damage or verbally humiliate her. The only possible weakness one might use against her is her very calculating nature, which relies on her assumption of the innate selfishness of human nature-beings acting in a self-sacrificing or heroic manner can sometimes snarl her carefully knit plans.

Other Manifestations

Loviatar manifests either as a flying black whip that moves as her avatar does and has the same properties as the whips her avatar can create or as a floating, disembodied human female head that laughs maniacally as it flies about, platinum blond tresses streaming behind it. In either form, Loviatar can use her kiss ability, speak, write (with the top of the whip or as an animated lock of hair, in either case leaving behind letters written in black blood), or cast illusions.

Loviatar also acts through the appearance or presence of baatezu (exiles), imps, and tieflings (mages and warriors who are all cruel, veteral adventurers, and skilled torturers). More commonly she sends inquisitors, nightmares, hell hounds, black rats, black poisonous spiders, wolf spiders, jet, ivory, snowflake ivory, snowflake obsidian, webstone, black violets, and black and red poppies to show her favor and as a sign to inspire her faithful.

The Church

Worship of Loviatar tends to be strongest in large, decadent cities such as Athkatla, Calimport, Mulmaster, Saerloon, Selgaunt, Telflamm, Waterdeep, and Westgate. Newcomers are often recruited from the ranks of the bored and wealthy or the desperately hungry beggars through large revels where much drugged wine is drunk and dancing and more intimate pursuits go on for several days and nights.

Priests of Loviatar are few in number, but widespread in power. Opponents tend to avoid them, since murder is the least that they will do in revenge again insults to their goddess. Women-both humans and half-elves-dominate the ranks of the priesthood both numerically and in rank and have alsways done so. Loviatar's tightly organized priesthood is composed primarily of clerics. Her specialty priests, called pains, operate as a separate arm of the faith, moving from place to place and ensuring that the goddess's will is carried out; they serve as the envoys and secret agents/inquisitors of the church. The clerics hold the pains in great regard, since they are often the tools of Loviatar's punishment. If an organized temple or shrine of Loviatar is present in a city, clerics make up the bulk of the organization, but one to three pains are also able to be called upon by the clerics. Mystics often are attached to small groups of pains, and monks, while living only with other monks in monasteries and abbeys, usually owe fealty also to the temple to which their abbey is hierarchically attached.

Priests of Loviatar are known as Loviatans (pronounced "Low-VEE-a-tans" and in old texts are sometimes referred to as Lovites (LOH-vites). They tend to be cruel and sadistic. They enjoy bestowing pain upon others (and receiving it) within a hierarchy of strict rules and discipline. Junior clergy members are often ordered to do tasks in a needlessly difficult or painful way to reinforce this iron discipline. Those who stay faithful usually develop truly awesome self-control, and in battle can carry on thinking and acting calmly even when dying from wounds or lacking limbs. They become very used to pain and are usually much scarred from self-inflicted injuries and hurts dealt by their superiors. To increase the agonies they receive and inflict, handfuls of salt are often rubbed in open wounds.

Loviatans always pray for battle spells before going out in public and are admonished to be alert. Although they boldly walk dark streets alone, their reputations sometimes land them in trouble with drunken sailors or dock workers or into ambushes from adherents of goodly faiths. Such attackers rapidly discover that most devotees of the Maiden of Pain are vicious in a fight. Since they do not fear pain or disfiguring wounds, they strike boldly where a more prudent combatant might withdraw. Some priestesses even go into taverns when bored or restless and deliberately start fights, though Loviatans rarely resort to such public methods of spreading mayhem in civilized areas for fear that they will be thwarted, slain, and the faith outlawed or adherants harassed in the future.

Novices or postulants to the Faith of Pain are known as Kneeling Ones. Confirmed priests used the titles (in ascending order): Taystren, Adept (in Pain), Sister/Brother (in Torment), Supremar, Caressor (of Terrors), Whiplass/Whiplar, Paingiver, Whipmistress/Whipmaster, High Whipmistress/Whipmaster, Branded (of the God), and Truescar. Words in parentheses in the precending list represent parts of the formal title seldom used except in rituals, disciplinary hearings, or documents. The last two titles are applied to all Loviatan clergy members who have served as the head of a temple, abbey, or monastery of the goddess or who have personally distinguished themselves in their service and taken up a life of wandering to further Loviatar's will and influence, often sponsoring or leading bands of "dark adventurers" to spread torment.

The church of Loviatar is currently relatively independent, though its members id other evil churches when it suits them. They particularly hate the church of Ilmater, which teaches that strength comes out of suffering, and the church of Eldath, which teaches of peace, the banishment of fear, and living in harmony with nature, since the specialty priests of these deities are resistant to Loviatar's pain-inflicting abilities.

Most Loviatan temples feature extensive dungeons beneath their above-ground facilities. The surface temples are usually built of stone or thick wood and resemble nothing so much as a combination monastic cell complex and prison. Even the windows of priest's rooms often sport bars.

Dogma: Loviatar teaches that the world is filled with pain and torment, and the best that one can do is suffer those blows that cannot be avoided and deal as much pain back to those who offend. They (chillingly) believe that true pleasure is only won through pain. In the Loviatan faith, the strong are those who taste pain and strive on.

Novices in the Loviatan faith are charged as follows: "Kindnesses are the best companions to hurts, and incrase the intensity of suffering. Let mercy of sudden abstinence from causing pain and of providing unlooked-for lealing come over you seldom, but at whim, so as to make folk hope and increase the Mystery of Loviatar's Mercy. Unswerving cruelty will turn all folk against you. Act alluring, and give pain and torment to those who enjoy it as well as to those who deserve it most or would be most hurt by it. The lash, fire, and cold are the three pains that never fail the devout. Spread my teachings whenever punishment is meted out. Pain tests all, but gives strength of spirit to the hardy and the true. There is no true punishment if the punisher knows no discipline. Wherever a whip is, there am I. Fear me-and yet long for me."

Day-to-Day Activities: As one of the Dark Gods, Loviatar likes to be feared, and her clergy members are ordered to whisper of her ever-present power in the darkness after they have inflicted pain. Their Prime Charge is to tirelessly cause suffering, both widespread and personal. This work may be as brutal as flogging an encountered band of orcs until they flee or as subtle as breaking hearts among young nobles by pretending to fall in love with the gallants (while disguising one's Loviatan faith), working to break up existing amours and friendships, and engaging in scandalous dalliances before coldly spurning the victims and departing. The activities of prudent worshipers of Loviatar should never be so high-profile that local authorities set out to imprison or thwart them upon first sight, but such activites should be energetic and numerous. Being a good actor-and of striking beauty, or experienced in using spells to appear so-are very useful traits for a Loviatan, but the most successful Loviatans are those who understand the ways and natures of folk and so know just how to cause them the most pain and to manipulate them toward that end.

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: The most basic ritual performed by Loviatans is a kneeling prayer at morning and at evening performed after striking oneself once with a whip. Other rituals of the faith center on consecrating wine, whips, holy symbols, and other items-both practical, such as potions of healing, and horrific, such as tortune implements-used by the devout and on celebrating advancement in priestly rank.

All four seasonal festivals are celebrated by Loviatans with the Rite of Pain and Purity: a circle dance of chanting, singing clergy members performed upon barbed wire, thorns, or broken glass or crystal, where the priests allowed themselves to be urged to greater efforts by the whips of high-level priests and are accompanied by the drumming of lay worshipers. A red radiance rises gradually and forms a flickering cloud above the ring. If Loviatar has important missions to speak of, is especially pleased with this group of followers, or wants to enact her displeasure, she manifests in the heart of the cloud. If Loviatar does not manifest, the ritual ends after half an hour, and the priests heal themselves.

Every twelfth night (unless such a night coincides with a Rite of Pain and Purity, which preempts it) the clergy members celebrate smaller Candle Rite wherein they sing, chant, and pray as they dance around lit candles, passing some parts of their bodies through or over their flames repeatedly until the rite ends with the highest-ranking priestess extinguishing her candle with consecrated wine.

Major Centers of Worship: Aside from in the nation of Dambrath, where the worship of Loviatar is the state religion and the queen of Dambrath, Yenandra, is its high priestess, the Black Spires of the Maiden temple in the Vale of Wailing Women west of Ishla in Amn is the largest, wealthiest, and most energetic center of worship to Loviatar, sending out agents all over Faerun and speaking with "the close love of the goddess." The House of Spires has risen to such prominence only in the last decade and so very rapidly because of one priestess: Queen of Torment Chalathra Nyndra, a dark-eyed, raven-haired, gaunt woman of truly vicious tastes and a legendary hunger to feel pain. It should be noted that Chalathra has found and modified an old draconic spell that acts to heal through immersion in a pool of a secret, enchanted mixture of tree saps and plant oils-and that creatures in cantact with this substance automatically make all System Shock and Resurrection Survival rolls if faced with situations requiring them while largely immersed. Loviatans will hunt down-to the ends of Faerun and beyond-and slay anyone stealing any samples of this "Milk of the Maiden."

Affiliated Orders: The Loviatan church has no affiliated knightly orders. Monks of the faith all belong to the Disciples of the White Rod, named in honor of the token granted to their founder by Loviatar and held in the home abbey near Calimport as a relic. Mystics follow an eccentric philosophy/order that they call the Way of Transcendence. When asked what their order's tenets are, they just smile knowingly.

Priestly Vestments: Loviatans of both genders wear high black boots, black choker gorgets, and long black gloves that reach up to their shoulders. They also wear daring-looking leather body harnesses over or under side-slit ritual robes of icy white or black lined with scarlet silk (so that movements cause red flashes).

Loviatans are usually armed with saw-edged daggers and whips. A typical priest of low rank has a dagger at her belt, another in one boot, and a barbed whip with a 6-foot reach . A priestess of "full" (medium) rank adds to this gear a barbed cat-o'-nine-tails with a 4-foot reach , and perhaps a black metal mace with skin-contact sleep venom in its holly handle, so that its first strike releases the venom, causing the next six blows to force saving throws vs. poison on a victim.

High-ranking priestesses are usually also equipped with several iron bands of Bilarro spheres at their belts, and afew also carry a wand of frost, fire, and fear. This rechargable magical weapon is a cat-o'-nine-tails with a 4-foot reach made of electrum tentacles attached to a steel shaft.

Adventuring Garb: Priests and priestesses of Loviatar wear a pleated armor that resembles scale mail. However, the ceremonial garb is lightweight and designed for fashion rather than protection. It is constructed to emphasize the figure of the wearer rather than to provide true protection. The AC of ceremonial scale mail is 6 instead of 4. Loviatar's priests wear it is a badge of honor and pride.

The pleated mail is often augmented by breastplates that bristle with spikes. From a wearer of such augmented armor, a firm hug (the Embrace of Loviatar) . The addition of the breastplate adds somewhat to the protection provided by the armor.

Loviatar grants boons, in the form of white wands, to those who have caused widespread suffering. She usually grants these boons to members of her priesthood who have served her outstandingly. However, she has been known to grant white wants to individuals outside her faith who have, willingly or not, caused widespread suffering. She prefers to grant them to those who have unwillingly or unknowingly done so, in particular good and lawful types who will be tormented just knowing that they have advanced her cause. (Loviatar delights in tormenting good or lawful beings with these "gifts"; in such cases, the wand emits her cold laughter whenever it operates.) Loviatar's white wands appear mysteriously, but their origin and purpose are mentally communicated to the beings they are intended for upon first contact. (If any other creature but the one it is intended for touches a white wand, it melts away like ice in the hot sun.)

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10 Malar on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:18 pm

Malar
The Beastlord, Lord of Beasts, the Black-Blooded Pard, the Ravaging Bear

Lesser Power of Tarterus, CE

PORTFOLIO: Hunters, marauding beasts and monsters, blood, bloodlust, evil lycanthropes, stalking
DOMAINS : Animal, Chaos, Evil, Moon, Strength
ALIASES: The Stalker (Vilhon Reach), Render (Endless Ice and Great Glacier), Blue Bear (Uthgardt barbarians), Herne (Orcs of the High Forest)
HOME PLANE: Colothys/The Land of the Hunt
SUPERIOR: Talos
ALLIES: Auril, Talos, Umberlee, Bane (now dead), Loviatar
FOES: Chauntea, Deneir, Eldath, Ilmater, Lurue the Unicorn, Nobanion, Silvanus, Sune, Gwaeron Windstrom, Shiallia, Uthgar
SYMBOL: A brown-furred, bestial claw with long, curving talons tipped with fresh red blood
WOR. ALIGN.: N, CN, LE, NE, CE

Malar (MAH-larr) is the god of the savage wild. Along with Umberlee and Auril, he is one of the Gods of Fury who revel in the kill or who hunt for sport or to excess, fallen rangers, sentient carnivores, and lycanthropes. Those who suffer the depredations of wild beasts attempt to placate the Beastlord with offerings of freshly killed and bloody meat, but Malar rarely recognizes their entreaties. In his more favorable aspects he is revered by beings who identify with the untamed nature, grace, and amorality of predators.

Malar achieves almost sensual fulfillment from the hunt and the kill. He revels in the fear radiated by the hunted and hungers for the blood of his prey. He speaks only in low growling undertone or vicious snarl. The Lord of Beasts despises the Balance sought by druids and their deities and seeks to overthrow it through the actions of his faithful. He manifests an avatar in Faerûn in an endless hunt across the Realms whenever the mood strikes him—which is almost constantly.

During the Time of Troubles, Malar stalked the length and breadth of Faerûn. He is known to have battled Nobanion in the Gulthmere Forest in a fierce conflict known as the Roar of Shadows. The Beastlord was driven north and west by the Lion God working in an alliance with the Emerald Enclave. When Malar appeared in the North, he was relentlessly pursued by Gwaeron Windstrom and could not shake the Master of Tracking from his trail. The Beastlord did challenge and defeat Herne, a corrupted incarnation of the Master of the Hunt brought to the Realms by an ancient wave of immigrants along with Oghma and other powers. Herne was venerated by the orcs of the High Forest, and Malar has since assumed his portfolio.

In the aftermath of the Time of Troubles, Malar has been weakened by the growing strength of Talos. As a result, he has been forced to seek new worshipers among the nonhuman tribes, and now numerous humanoids have begun to venerate the Beastlord as an adjunct to their traditional pantheons. Malar has also acquired additional human worshipers from the ranks of a few beast cults by slaying their totem spirits and assuming the animal spirits' portfolios as aspects of his own. One of the first beast totems to fall to his bloody talons was Blue Bear, an Uthgardt beast cult corrupted by pervasive contact with lower planar beings and venerated in other lands as Render, the Bear God.

Other Manifestations

Malar prefers to manifest as a cloud of darkness in which two large, red, feral eyes gleam. From this cloud may issue forth his voice, bestial roars or snarls, or (most often) deep, snarling laughter.

Malar may also manifest as, or change in one round to, a disembodied, animated furry beast limb (akin to that conjured up by the beast claw spell, described below) that can point, draw symbols or write in the air in letters of floating, blazing blood, carry or manipulate items, or fight (raking for 3d4 points of damage, striking twice per round at THAC0 -8, and having AC 0, MV Fl 21 (A), and 101 hp). An impossibly deep, bone-shaking snarl usually accompanies this latter manifestation.

Malar acts frequently through all sorts of predators, particularly bears, wild hunting cats of all sorts, displacer beasts, fang dragons, jackalweres, gargantua, leucrotta (greater and lesser), evil lycanthropes, owlbears, perytons, wolfweres, wolverines, aurumvorae, wolves, and even (very rarely) the tarrasque. He has been known to place appropriately seeded deepspawns in regions where predators and/or prey are scarce so as to ensure the hunt never ends.

The Church


Malar is not a popular god with many devoted followers. Like Umberlee, he is invoked usually to prevent his intercession (usually heralded by wild beasts) as opposed to beseeching it. Groups devoted to following him are present, however, terrorizing civilized areas and surviving by poaching what they need.

Temples of Malar are simple affairs. Typically they are inwardly curving, fang-shaped stones arranged in a ring in shadowy forest glens. Many temples, particularly those located in more civilized settings where the activities of Malarites are viewed with loathing by the local populace, are built above extensive limestone caverns and accessed via a sinkhole in the circle's center. The twisting subterranean passages serve as hunting grounds through which ruthless Malarites stalk sentient prey (particularly humans and demihumans) captured from the surrounding region.

The church of Malar is loosely bound and without a central hierarchy. This makes it all the more difficult to counter or remove, for as soon as one den of Malarites is contained, another arises. The church organization is built around the concept of the hunt, and consists of local, independent cells or "Hunts." The leader and most powerful individual of each hunt is known as the Huntmaster, who may be a priest, warrior, wizard (very rarely), or shapechanging predator (such as a wolfwere or evil lycanthrope). If human, the Huntmaster can be identified by his or her headpiece: usually a bear, great cat, or other creature the leader has killed with his or her bare hands. The office of Huntmaster is won by challenge—a fight to the death if the incumbent does not resign—and the Huntmaster decides the locale, time, and prey to be stalked in the ceremonial hunts of the faithful.

Malarite priests are known as Lords of the Hunt or Huntlords (to distinguish them from lay followers, who are merely "of the Hunt"). No individual titles are used, except "Old Hunter" as an address of respect to senior clergy, but clergy members are often known by names such as Brother Stag or Sister Wolf in recognition of the most powerful beasts they have slain along with only their daggers, their bare hands, or claws of Malar. Specialty priests of Malar are known as talons.

Dogma: Survival of the fittest and winnowing of the weak are Malar's legacy. A brutal, bloody death has great meaning: "May you die an old man" is an insult among Malarites. The hunt is the fulcrum of life and death, and the focus point of life is the challenge between the hunter and the prey, the judgment of who may live or die. Malarites are expected to view every important task as a hunt and to remain ever alert and alive. They must walk the wilderness without trepidation, as Malar does, and must show no fear in the hunt. By being bold, they expect to win the day.

Malarite novices are charged as follows: "Savagery and strong emotions defeat reason and careful thought in all things. The strong must slay as frequently as possible and exult in the doing if they are to survive and achieve dominance of the pack that society truly is under the polite veneer it maintains. Taste the blood of those you slay and never kill from a distance. The glory and danger in the hunt should be told to all in grand tales. Work against woodcutters, farmers, and all fools who seek to cut back the forest and slay beasts because they are dangerous. Suffer no druid to live, for they believe not in survival of the strong, but in a weak-minded balance that allows the inferior to survive and often to rule. Slay not pregnant wild creatures, young wild creatures, or deepspawns so that dire beasts to hunt may always be plentiful."

Day-to-Day Activities: Priests of Malar indulge in hunting as often as possible and strive to route the hunt to make it as dangerous as possible, so that its finale (the killing of the quarry) takes place in a settled area (so that the Malarites can demonstrate their superiority, of course). Common folk who do not appreciate having desperate leucrotta, wolves, displacer beasts, and the like chased through town tend to hate and fear Malarite clergy members—which is the whole idea: Those who do not venerate the Lord of Beasts should respect him out of fear.

Malarite clergy members also preach the joys and the bountiful yields of the hunt and work to thwart the expansion of farms and settlements so as to preserve as much wilderness as possible. They work against the priesthoods of Chauntea, Deneir, Eldath, Silvanus, and Ilmater, staging raids and vandalism much as outlaws nad bored young noblemen indulge in.

Malarite clergy seek to slay druids of all faiths whenever possible, for they see the natural Balance that druids promote and maintain as the true foe of all who love to hunt. They believe it interferes with the rightful triumph of the strong over the weak. Consequently, druid organizations, those with druidic connections, and those sponsored even partially by nature deities (including the Harpers) also seek out and destroy Malarite strongholds at any opportunity.

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: Worship of Malar centers around the hunt and tends to consist of personal prayers to the Beastlord offered before the chase, during pursuit, and while drinking a toast over the slain quarry (sometimes a toast of the blood of the very animal killed). The droning Bloodsong is intoned over the bodies of all creatures slain during a hunt—and specific ritual prayers and chants should accompany feasting on any beast slain duringa hunt.

The only high rites of the faith are the Feast of the Stags and the High Hunts. The Feast is celebrated at Higharvestide, when Malarite clergy parade through settled areas bearing the heads of the beasts they have slain during the previous tenday (a frenzied orgy of killing) and lead all who desire to eat to a feast. The beasts hunted down by Malarite hands are the main dishes at this two-day-long revel of gluttony, and all folk are invited (even druids may come and dine in safety, protected by "the Peace of the Table"). At this feast, clergy publicly undertake to hunt throughout the winter ahead for the tables of specific widows, aged folk, infirm individuals, and orphan children. This day marks the annual high point of regard for the faith of Malar in most communities.

By Malar's command, every hunt (religious ceremony) of his worshipers must celebrate at least one High Hunt in each of the four seasons of the year. A High Hunt is a sporting event attended by all Malarite clergy members able to walk. They wear boots and headpieces made from the skulls or heads of beasts they have personally slain, and each wields only a single knife or the claws of Malar. Their quarry—a sentient humanoid, usually a human male—who is set free in a wooded area (or extensive cavern complex if necessary) ringed by Malarite clergy members. The quarry is armed and armored with all the nonmagical items he or she desires that can reasonably be obtained—and then hunted to death for the glory of Malar. However, if the prey escapes the boundaries of the hunt (set up at its beginning) within a day and a night or survives until the sun has cleared the horizon on the morning after the hunt begins, he or she wins freedom, can never be so hunted again, and can ask any boon of the Huntmaster that is within his or her power and does not involve killing a Malarite.

The prey is often a druid and cannot be a worshiper of Malar. (Huntmasters cannot use the High Hunt to eliminate potential rivals within the clergy.) When slain, victims of the hunt are wholly burned to ashes as a meal for Malar.

Major Centers of Worship: The Divine Den in Bezentil, where High Huntmaster Skith Tsornagar leads a congregation of 70 or so Malarite clergy members and twice as many lay worshipers who are avid hunters, is the center of Malar's faith in the Great Dale and all of Faerûn east of the Dragon Reach and north of Thay. The clergy members of the Divine Den mount many hunting expeditions to remote and perilous regions of Toril in pursuit of exotic prey. A dozen skilled smiths among them make the True Talons of the God (approved claws of Malar).

The Deep Hunting Grounds in Undermountain beneath Mt. Waterdeep is a powerful and rapidly growing temple located amidst a subterranean forest known as the Wyllowwood. Led by Benita Darkwind, the congregation of 60 or more priests and as many warriors, rogues, and lay worshipers is actively expanding its influence through the streets of Waterdeep.

Affiliated Orders: The church of Malar also includes lone priests unaffiliated with any particular hunt. These solitary women and men, known as Beastmasters, exhibit an amazing rapport bordering on telepathy with animals and other predators, and they are rumored to command fearsome powers resembling those of powerful druids. Beastmasters resemble savage beasts in disposition and lifestyle and exert control over most predators in large swaths of wilderness through the use of multiple, concurrent find companion spells. (Other clergy can only have one animal companion at a time.) Beastmasters only rarely call upon the aid of other Malarites in their territory, but when they do, few local Huntmasters defy their requests. There is a loose correlation between the geographic areas of influence of Beastmasters and circles of druids in the wild. Individual Beastmasters and their servitors contest in an endless cycle of violence with nearby druids.

Malar is also served by a few rare Beast Lords. These lone spellcasters breed unnatural monsters like bulettes, stegocentipedes, owlbears, perytons, and so forth. While most Beast Lords are human, a few are drawn from the ranks of other races such as illithids and beholders. One prominent nonhuman Beast Lord in the North is an illithilich, believed to be based in ruined Dekanter, who seeks to conquer part of the dark realms of the Underdark with an army of beasts.

Priestly Vestments: Huntmasters wear headpieces made from the pelt and head of the most impressive beast they have been able to slay with their bare hands (usually a bear or great cat, but sometimes an owlbear, leucrotta, or peryton). Malarites carry hunting horns as their belts and are never without at least three daggers (usually one sheathed in each boot, two in belt sheaths, one strapped to either forearm, and another hidden in a nape-of-the-neck sheath under the hair or in an armpit sheath). Woodland garb of red or brown is the favored dress for hunts. By day, red hunt clothing is often concealed by a woodcloak of mottled black, gray, and green. Necklaces of animal bones, fangs, and claws, and a variety of pelts are often worn in addition to normal hunt clothes when priests desire to impress.

Adventuring Garb: When adventuring, priests of Malar dress practically, but most favor armor constructed from the hides of living creatures that allows flexibility and rapid movement. Necklaces of claws and fangs and a variety of pelts from predator animals are often worn to quietly demonstrate a Malarite's hunting prowess to the members of a community.

Talons of Malar and Huntmasters are allowed to employ the weapons known as claws of Malar. Claws of Malar are metal weapons gripped in the fists that resemble brass knuckles studded with rows of sharp, jagged edges along the top like lion's claws. A priest must allocate a weapon proficiency for these weapons in order to use them. A priest trained in their use can strike once per round with each fist without disadvantage.

Although crude local specimens of these weapons exist, the best True Talons of the God come from one source: the Divine Den in Bezentil, the most important temple to the Lord of Beasts in all Faerûn. Claws from this source are blessed in the blood of beasts slain in the hunt, enchanted to never rust (even if touched by rust monsters or assaulted by spells that should make them rust), and bear tiny markings that allow the smiths who made them to identify each pair. Other individuals can try to use the claws, but a nonbeliever or a nonpriest of Malar suffers the wrath of the church if she or he does so, and said wrath translates the the Malarites hunting down and slaying the individual as a warning to others.

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11 Mask on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:19 pm

Mask
Master of All Thieves, Shadowlord, Lord of Shadows

Lesser Power (previously Intermediate Power and briefly Demipower) of the Gray Waste, NE

PORTFOLIO: Thieves, thievery, shadows
DOMAINS: Darkness, Evil, Luck, Trickery
HOME PLANE: Niflheim/Shadow Keep
SUPERIOR: None
ALLIES: Bane, Bhaal (now dead), Leira (now dead), Ibrandul (now dead)
FOES: Helm, Oghma, Torm, Tyr, Cyric, Selûne, Waukeen (missing), Deneir
SYMBOL: A black velvet mask, tinged with red
WOR. ALIGN.: NG, CG, LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE

Mask (MASK) was the deity of intrigue along with being the patron of thieves, but his disastrous perusal of the Cyrinishad led to Cyric being able to steal this aspect of his portfolio from him. One school of thought believed the god totally destroyed after reading the Cyrinishad and having his Godsbane avatar form destroyed by Cyric, another held that Mask was totally subsumed by Cyric, and a third school believed that Mask, engaged in his own intrigues, faked his loyalty to Cyric and later his own death. The truth is that Mask survived the enslaving effects of the Cyrinishad and the destruction of a major avatar form at great cost, losing much of his godly power in the process.

Mask had allowed his intrigue with Cyric to progress so far that he had neglected his own worshipers and was effectively but a lesser power when hit by the effects of the Cyrinishad. When forced to cut away part of his divine power, leaving it in Cyric’s hands, Mask was temporarily reduced to the status of a demipower. To make matters worse, Mask crossed a powerful extraplanar entity known as Kezef the Chaos Hound, who has sworn eternal revenge. Mask cannot remain too long in one location or Kezef catches up to him, and Mask does not wish to confront the Chaos Hound until he regains the status of an intermediate power that he had just after the Godswar. Such is the price of intrigue, a price that Mask has paid dearly. (The Chaos Hound’s chase has slowed somewhat of late, though, as it becomes distracted by the new-found joys of freedom after so many years of imprisonment.)

Mask’s form is ever-changing in regard to appearance—and his true form is not known for sure. Mask remains the patron of thieves, and there his faith is strongest. After a year of frenzied activity by his priests on his behalf (at his encouragement), Mask has taken shadows into his portfolio and managed to climb to the status of lesser power. However, Mask is still a weakened power and walks (or runs, when the Chaos Hound is abroad) carefully in his dealings with the other powers. For the time being, he wants to remain out of the sight (and hopefully out of the mind) of Cyric, who might still covet his remaining power, but he is already plotting ways and means to regain that which he lost to the Mad God.

Mask is very self-possessed and confident—too confident for his own good. He enjoys erecting convoluted and intricate plots to achieve his ends and then playing them out to his benefit. As he has recently learned, however, such predilections proved a weakness for him, and he is now trying much more direct methods to accomplish his goals than before in order to avoid such needless—and unwanted—plot twists as nearly cost him his life and his godhood in his manipulations of Cyric.

Other Manifestations

Mask sometimes appears as a drifting, amorphous darkness, that may or may not have or grow a cowled human head. He also manifests as whispery, soft, chuckling laughter or an utterly black, nailless human hand that can carry or wield items, point, emit dust and write in it, or grasp and choke beings The cloud of darkness can enter or pass through any known barrier without taking harm, but vanishes if struck by spells. The touch of these manifestations opens locks, causes manacles, chains, and bindings to crumble and fall away, and allows faithful worshipers to be protected for a day by an ironguard spell, just as the touch of Mask’s avatar does.

Mask also acts through the appearance or presence of annis (hags), dopplegangers, ettercaps, kenku, verbeeg, wererats, werewolves, werefoxes, shadow monsters (creatures as from the wizard spell shadow monsters made permanent by the power of Mask), shadow dragons, and undead shadows. More commonly he sends a shadow where there should be none, smoke-gray horses, iron-gray or black cats, gray dogs, gloomwing moths or tenebrous worms, gray goats, vapor flowers, smoky quartz, gray chalcedony, gray and banded onyx, ravenar, rogue stone, common crows, condors, and gray doves to show his favor or displeasure and as a sign to inspire his faithful.

The Church

The followers of Mask have been reduced to their central core: thieves and thieves. guilds. (However, in addition to thieves and more shadowy individuals, courtiers and diplomats have also been known to evoke the Shadowlord ‘s name in hope of guaranteeing a smooth negotiation.) Many guilds still have their shrines to the god, and in those regions where thievery is not actively frowned upon, temples to Mask survive. The priesthood of Mask is independent in each major city or region to prevent the frequent actions against one thieves. guild or temple from spilling over and affecting others.

The hierarchy makes use of clerics, specialty priests, and thieves in about a 30/40/30 ratio. Clergy of Mask are known as Maskarran. Specialty priests of Mask are called demarchesses (deh-mar-KESS-es) if female and demarchs (deh-MARKS) if male. There has been a significant increase in the number of specialty priests in the faith since Mask lost status as a deity; he feels that specialty priests are the most effective adjunct to the thieves who are his mainstay of worship and so has been furiously encouraging their recruitment and advancement by gifting them with more special abilities than before.

In areas with a single strong thieves. guild, the temple or shrine to Mask is usually connected to the guild hall via underground tunnels. In large cities with competing guilds, the temple is in an underground location and is recognized as neutral ground by all sides. Maskarran strive to keep hidden these days, sometimes holding services of worship in underground shrines (often cellars reached by old sewers) and often keeping hidden inside local thieves. guilds. It is to the advantage of such seasoned conspirators as Maskarran that many folk of Faerûn think Mask is dead, and his worship reduced to scattered, bewildered cults.

Maskarran address each other as .Brother/Sister Shadow,. regardless of rank, and hold the titles (in order of rank): Unproven (novices), Proven Brother/Sister, Veteran Brother/Sister, and Master Brother/Sister, with the leader of a temple assuming the title Lord/Lady Master. The elite of Maskarran are largely specialty priests, but nonspecialty priest high priests are known as Hidden Ones.

Dogma: All that which occurs within shadow is in the purview of Mask. Ownership is nine-tenths of what is right, and if a person happens to currently have something, it is his or hers. Previous ownership does not count. Therefore, the day belongs to the quick, the smooth-tongued, and the lightfingered. Stealth and wariness are virtues, as are glibness and the ability to sound smooth-tongued and conciliatory while taking control of a situation or twisting it to your advantage. (Needless to say, the writings of a true follower of Mask can be read in many ways.)

The Unproven in the church of Mask are charged as follows: .Wealth rightfully belongs to those who can acquire it. Strive to end each day with more material wealth than you began it with, but steal what is most vital, not everything that is to hand. Honesty is for fools, but apparent honesty is a very valuable thing. Make every untruth seem plausible, and never lie when you can cleave to the truth but leave a mistaken impression.a bridge burned means much rebuilding if you need to cross over there again. Subtlety is everything. A bribe is the least subtle of the tools Mask gives to us. Never force someone to do something when you can manipulate them into doing it and thinking the decision and the deed are entirely their own freewilled work. Never do the obvious, except to conceal a secondary or tertiary deed or arrangement. Spin secrets atop secrets, but do so unconcernedly, not with the sly excitement of untutored youth. Trust in the shadows, for the bright way makes for easy targets..

Day-to-Day Activities: Maskarran are perhaps the wealthiest clergy in the Realms, second only to those of Waukeen before the Time of Troubles.

They able to call on untold wealth stolen in the past and hidden away in secret places. Maskarran do not hoard and gloat over their takings like dwarves croon over gold; they actively use it to buy agents, bribe officials, sway agreements, and manipulate folk to do thus and so, working behind the scenes to achieve mysterious ends. The mark of a successful priest of Mask is to state to a superior that this or that end (in international politics or the doings within a realm) will be worked toward and achieved within such-andsuch a time.and then fulfill this promise. Maskarran who fail in their promises seldom rise far in the hierarchy, though several attempts at bringing something about are perfectly acceptable so long as none of them too obviously reveal the priest at work behind the scenes.

From day-to-day Maskarran typically tend to their plots and provide support to and collect tithes from individual thieves and thieves. guilds. Each church of Mask has its own policy about reporting .rogue. thieves to the guild of a region: Some provide aid but covertly inform the local guild, others refuse aid and inform, and still others provide aid to whoever pays the proper tithe and inform no one,

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: There are no calendar-related rituals in the Church of Mask, but at every full temple of the god, the Ritual of the Unseen Presence is celebrated at least once a month. This ritual is an acknowledgment in chanted verse, hymns, and offerings of wealth.coinage stolen by the faithful that is melted down in altar-flanking braziers or crucibles .of the constant regard of Mask, who sees all deeds, however well hidden.

Lay worshipers and Maskarran also participate in daily Sunset Prayers, in which they kneel, proffer coins to the clergy and worship before the Altar of the Masked God. Praying junior clergy members give coins to senior clergy members, and the highest-ranking priest of a holy house of Mask gives his or her coin to the lowest-ranking priest present in recognition of the wry humor of Mask, who so often makes the high low, and the low high. The Altar of the Masked God is always a massive stone block over which floats an enspelled black velvet, fur, or silk mask of giant size (6 feet across or more) or which has a mosaic in inlaid precious gemstones of a similar giant mask behind it.

The Church of Mask has darker rituals associated with the elevation of clergy members in rank known only to the initiated. These secret observances and the Ritual of the Unseen Presence are always guarded by striking shadows spells cast by senior clergy members to slay or keep away eavesdroppers

Major Centers of Worship: The House of the Master’s Shadow in Telflamm, where Lord Master Most Hidden Jalaunther Ithbreeiur leads over 300 Maskarran in worship, is the largest temple to Mask in Faerûn. Jalaunther has initiated several energetic programs designed to build the ranks of Mask’s faithful, including a network of undercover contacts in all major cities of Faerûn who double as information-gatherers and the spreaders of rumors about this or that treasure (to attract the interest of those interested in thievery). These agents, known as .local shadows,. identify important thieves and those rebellious to authority and approach both of these sorts of folk to recruit them to the faith or at least offer them training.for fees.in thievery or intrigue. Jalaunther has also set his clergy members the twin tasks of building their temple magic (including the spells they are currently researching) into a network of powerful, practical stealth and battle magic and working themselves into positions where they can influence the politics of all realms in Faerûn behind the scenes. Needless to say, these ambitious goals are achieving success only slowly.

Affiliated Orders: The church of the Shadowlord has no affiliated knightly orders. Members of the clergy who have pulled off a particularly daring heist or intricate piece of manipulation of people and events are often admitted (voted on by acclamation at a secret yearly meeting of members of the order) to the Circle of the Gray Ribbon. Many thieves. guilds (as well as individual thieves) throughout Faerûn have connections to the church and rely on it for medical and tactical support.

Priestly Vestments: Maskarran wear no badges of rank nor differing vestments, but all senior clergy members strive to purchase, have made, or (preferably) steal such useful items as slippers of spider climbing, teleport rings, rings of shadow (that generate darkness 15. radius at will of a sort that their wearers can see through), rings of invisibility, wands of viscid globs, ropes of entanglement, and protective garments enchanted to provide feather fall protection (as well as a wide array of enchanted weapons and armor).

Ceremonial Maskarran dress consists of tunics and trousers in a bright motley. The tunics sport ballooned sleeves and cuffs and bright embroidery, displaying wealth. The entire outfit is covered with a full-length, hooded gray cloak that can be drawn shut to hide the bright color beneath. A black cloth mask is worn beneath the hood. In some areas where Mask has fallen on particularly hard times, the gray cloak and mask only are worn as a symbol of the Shadowlord’s favor.

Inside a temple of Mask, the masks are of black gauze and do not conceal the identity of the wearer; in public, such masks are usually thick, black wool or heavy, double-thick silk and extend to cover most of the face in an effective disguise. (A bearded priest, for example, would have a mask that extended well down over the chin.) There is a saying that “the degree of law in a town can be seen on the face of a priest of Mask.”

Adventuring Garb: Priests of Mask are encouraged to hide their true nature and masquerade as other priests or commoners. Normal dress for clerics of Mask is similar to that of any merchant, craftsperson, or adventurer in the area or similar to that of any armored battle cleric or itinerant adventuring cleric of any faith. Specialty priests of Mask usually dress as thieves in leather or other light armor or assume the guise of typical peasants one might meet on any town’s or village’s streets.

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12 Talona on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:21 pm

Talona
Lady of Poison, Mistress of Disease,She of the Deadly Kiss, Mother of All Plagues

Lesser Power of Carceri, CE

PORTFOLIO: Disease, poison
DOMAINS: Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Suffering
ALIASES: Kiputytto
HOME PLANE: Cathrys/Palace of Poison Tears
SUPERIOR: None (formerly Bhaal)
ALLIES: Bane, Bhaal(Now Dead), Shar
FOES: Chauntea, Loviatar, Mielikki, Silvanus, Sune, Lliira, Kelemvor, Tyr, Shiallia
SYMBOL: Three golden amber teardrops on a purple equilateral triangle with point upward
WOR. ALIGN. LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE

Talona (Tah-LOW-nah), one of the Dark Gods, is often depicted as a withered old crone with a scarred, tattooed face in religious texts. Where she walks, misfortune and death follow. She is an odd deity. Sages have described her as having the personality of a petulant, greedy child trapped in the body of a once-beautiful woman now scarred by horrific disease and ravaged by age: She is alternately desirous of attention at any cost like a small child and aloof like a wounded paramour who has been discarded by her love.

Talona’s power slowly wanes after each great plague in Faerûn. When she feels vulnerable in her position, she unleashes another wave of misery and disease-brought death and receives a torrent of prayers entreating her to spare the inhabitants of Faerûn from her withering touch. Her power then waxes again in an endless cycle of indifference, devastation, and appeasement. In particular, Talona’s power was ascendant during the destruction of Asram (after the erection of the Standing Stone), in the Year of the Clinging Death (75 DR), during the Rotting War (902 DR), in the Year of the Scourge (1150 DR), in the Year of the Empty Goblet and the Year of Beckoning Death (1252-1253 DR), and during the Great Plague of the Inner Sea (1317-1323 DR).

Some old texts of Talona refer to her as Kiputytto, but this is actually the name of a rival demipower who challenged Talona’s portfolio and lost. The battle between the two goddesses destroyed the Netherese survivor state of Asram in its wake. When Kiputytto attacked Talona, Talona plagued the ill-fated Asram in order to obtain the devotional power generated from the worship of its citizens, who hoped to appease Talona and lessen the effects of the disease. Kiputytto responded in kind in the same location, provoking a devastating series of increasingly virulent plagues (perhaps even magical in nature) that overloaded the curative resources of Asram’s various priesthoods and wiped out the entire population in less than a month. Even most of those who escaped the scourged area died soon after of disease. Shortly afterward, Talona won this devastating deific contest and murdered Kiputytto.

Representations of Talona’s symbol dated to before her battle with Kiputytto show it depicted as a flesh-colored equilateral triangle with point upward containing three teardrops arranged in a triangle with the uppermost black, the lower left purple, and the lower right green. Why the coloration was changed after her triumph over Kiputytto is one of the inner mysteries of the church not ever revealed to outsiders.

While he lived, Talona served Bhaal along with Loviatar, though Loviatar and Talona and are fierce rivals. Loviatar loves to torment and tease Talona over her ugly appearance, her scanty number of followers, her cowardly and ineffectual attacks, and her puny portfolio (in Loviatar’s words). Needless to say, Talona openly delights in any setbacks Loviatar experiences, and sometimes even aids good adventurers if she thinks they will damage Loviatar’s reputation. Talona has recently cultivated an alliance with Shar

Other Manifestations Talona may manifest as a flickering brown-and-yellow radiance above a place of disease or death (such as a battlefield). Her shape and movements resemble a dancing flame able to teleport itself for short distances. She is unable to speak in this form, but may write by burning letters in wood or other organic substances or scribing them in sand, ashes, dust, or other loose material. In this form, she can by touch bestow spells, enact her Touch (see above), and communicate mind-to-mind employing mental visions with any creature. (In practice, only Talontar are favored by such communications). She also sends chasme (tanar’ri), gulguthras (otyughs, neo-otyughs, and gulguthydras), imps and quasits, ironmaws, rats (pack of giant and normal-sized rodents), sewerms, shadowdrakes, spiders (gargantuan, hairy, and watch), terlens, and vorrs to inflict her wrath, show her approval, or aid her faithful. Her presence is sometimes indicated by the sudden appearance and rapid growth of a black lily or a poisonous herb or fungus. The talontar believe the discovery of a solitary piece of amber or jasper indicates the Lady of Poison’s favor, but if such a gem shatters when touched, the victim will soon die of disease (if amber is found) or poison (if jasper is happened upon).

The Church

Talona, like most chaotic evil gods, is more feared than worshiped and is propitiated to avoid her attentions, not to draw them. The church of Talona operates underground, as can be expected of a faith that promotes death and disease. It IS strongest in those regions where plagues are rampant, and the faithful of Talona are often accused of creating such situations. Many wererats pray to the Lady of Disease for additional weapons of disease to use against the hated humans.

Those who actively worship Talona tend to gather in secret in the catacombs beneath cities or in wilderness ruins. Underground temples are often built above reeking, overflowing sewers or in humid grottoes overgrown with fungi and mold. Wilderness shrines are typically located in stagnant swamps and marshes rife with disease-laden mosquitoes and rich with the sickly sweet scent of decay. Twisted gargoyles carved to resemble mortals wracked with various diseases or poisons are positioned prominently throughout such structures.

The Lady of Poisons attracts the cruel to her service; her priests tend to be self-sufficient, capable—and sadistic. Priests of Talona are known as Talontar, and members of the faith as a whole (laity and clergy) are called Talonites. Talontar are partial to ritual facial tattoos and scarification over their whole bodies. Talonite priests of 2nd level or less are considered probationary initiates. Only upon reaching 3rd level are they formally inducted into the priesthood. Specialty priests of Talona, known as malagents, wield poisoned daggers and serve as the adventuring and internal policing arm of the faith. They make up about 45% of Talona’s clergy members and are slowly ascending to dominance of the faith, with clerics (40%) and mystics (15%) comprising the remainder of the priesthood. Specialty priests are addressed as “Most Fatal Horror” and are sometimes— not to their faces—known as “Fatals” to other Talonites. Other priests of the Lady of Poisons are addressed as “Most Debilitating Holiness,” though senior clergy usually call their juniors “Young Venom,” regardless of their relative ages.

Dogma: Talona’s ethos stresses that life and death are in balance, but that death is the more powerful and should be paid proper homage and respect. Life and death are balanced only because birthing and generation are so plentiful. Death is the true power, and the lesson that waits for all. lf it falls to the followers of Talona to drive home the point with the tip of a dagger, so be it.

Talona’s faithful are taught that if they respect death and the many ways the powers can deal it, that knowledge will allow them to live longer. If people think themselves invincible thanks to wealth or a swift swordarm or strong spells, the great equalizer of disease, Talona’s breath, will teach them respect and humility. Initiates to the faith are charged as follows: “Let pain be as pleasure to the faithful of Talona. She works upon you from within, and in weakness and wasting is her strength. She is forever and always with you, whomever you or the rest of the world believes in or serves. Let all living things learn respect from Talona and pay homage to her in goods and in fervent worship, and her dedicated priests will intercede for them so that Talona will not claim them—this time. Go and work in Talona’s name and let your doings be subtle or spectacular, but make them known as the will of the Mother of All Plagues.”

Day-to-Day Activities: Aside from selling poisons, antidotes, and medicines, the Talontar travel Faerûn as quietly as possible, constantly seeking out new diseases and afflictions and spreading rumors so as to augment the reputation of Talona. What seems to motivate Talontar in their day-to-day behavior is a quest for respect: respect that is due Talona for her potentially devastating abilities and due them as her representatives in Faerûn. Throughout their careers, Talona’s priests work with magic and inoculations to build their personal immunities to various poisons and diseases. Thus protected, they treat the diseased, take employment as food tasters for paranoid rulers, wealthy merchants, and nobles, and bun those who have died from diseases. Whenever a realm or city-state casts out or punishes any Talontar, for any reason, priests of Talona work to cause a plague in that place to exact “Talona’s price” for such insults. Rumors have circulated that certain unscrupulous Talontar have occasionally chosen wealthy folk as targets for disease so that wealth and properties can be seized by the church upon the death of these wealthy owners— with the threat of contracting disease keeping rightful heirs and claimants at bay.

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: The church of Talona observes thrice-daily prayers to the goddess (morning, highsun, and evening, though the timing of such rituals need not be precise), and daernuth (holy festivals) every 12 days. Festivals are events open to nondevotees, where such visitors are encouraged to pray and give offerings to Talona to spare themselves or loved ones from death, disease, wasting diseases, and the like. At such day-long celebrations, priests of Talona are always careful to show lepers and other victims of disfiguring diseases being cured by priestly magic before everyone and also to demonstrate their immunity to contracting disease by touching disease-carrying or filthy objects to the stillbloody ritual wounds of a Talontar (inflicted as during a private cicatrization ceremony). A long symphony of rolling drums, deep-voiced chanting, and glaur, shawm, and zulkoon music proclaims the power and veneration of Talona throughout the day, and minor priests busily sell poisons (for eliminating vermin, of course), antidotes, and medicines throughout the day, assisted by senior clergy who diagnose conditions (usually with great accuracy) and prescribe treatments in return for stiff fees (typically 50 or 100 gp per examination).

Annually at the daernuth falling closet to Higharvestide, initiates of the faith are formally inducted into the priesthood. This ascension is marked by horrifying private ceremonies involving ritual scarring and sacred tattoos. Exceptionally unappealing individuals who undergo the ascension ceremony find their personal Charisma raised by the ceremony due to the respect engendered in those viewing them by the fact that they survived the experience causing such scars . The amount of scarring is so severe for specialty priests of the faith that their Charisma drops

Major Centers of Worship: The House of Night’s Embrace, a fortified temple-palace in Tashluta ruled by Lady Doom Thalaera Indlerith, is the most prominent site of Talona’s worship. The House is defended by an army of black-masked guards assisted by gargoyles and golems. In its secretive depths the battle-tested Priestesses of the Lady’s Night make poisons, potions that spread disease by touch or introduction into beverages, and antidotes to both (which they sell at very high prices). Agents of the Night’s Embrace maintain a busy touring schedule of wealthy houses, noble country seats, and royal courts throughout Faerûn posing as purveyors of fine wines and perfumes, but their true calling is an open secret Many of the priestesses employed in this duty dabble in local politics (and love lives) for their own entertainment, secure in the knowledge that fear of poisoning will keep them safe from the daggers that claim most intruders into such affairs.

Affiliated Orders: Talona is not served by any military or knightly orders, but she is served by several secret cabals of rogues and other vermin The Plague Rats are an elite organization of thieves, assassins, and wererats active throughout the Western Heartlands and the North. Their secret base is believed to be located in the depths of the Rat Hills and to have connections to Undermountain. It was apparently unaffected by the great Conflagration in the Year of the Shield (1367 DR).

The Plague-mother’s Children is a guild of thugs active throughout Chondath and the Vilhon Reach. Formerly composed of crusaders dedicated to the extension of the Rotting War as the ultimate test of Talona’s favor, it has degenerated in recent years into an informal brotherhood of warriors and thieves who run extortion rackets throughout the region and threaten Talona’s wrath if they are not given their monetary due. (Crusaders are no longer included among the faithful of the Mistress of Disease.)

During the Tune of Troubles, Talona appeared to an evil human wizard named Aballister and bade him to found a trifold order of wizards, priests, and warriors. Castle Trinity, a castle-in-mountain’s clothing, was built into a rocky spur on the northeastern edge of the Snowflake Mountains. Talona gave the wizard an unholy recipe, the Chaos Curse (named Tuanta Quiro Miancy — the Most Fatal Horror), with which he could destroy the agents of good in the region. Accessed by a dozen rocky tunnels, the stronghold was eventually collapsed and ruined through the work of Cadderly, a priest of Deneir based in the nearby Edificant Library, and his friends. They succeeded after countless battles in the Library, the Snowflake Mountains, the nearby Shilmista Forest, and in the town of Carradoon. Remnants of the triumvirate of Talona may yet survive in secretive fellowship.

Priestly Vestments: All priests of Talona wear gray and green robes with ragged sleeves. These are washed but never repaired and in time become faded rags. Out of pride, most priests continue to wear their old, worn-out vestments until they are nearly naked. Old and high-ranking priests tend to have ritual scars and tattoos all over their bodies, and some even sport many body-piercings so that their torsos are studded with small rings linked with fine chains. Female clergy and laity alike often wear earrings and elbow-dangles of black metal wrought in the shape of talons.

Adventuring Garb: If embarking on a possibly dangerous adventure or preparing to go into battle, Talontar favor black-and-purple armor adorned with spurs, horns, and spikes. They wear any armor in a pinch and prefer to wear as much armor as possible. Only specialty priests of Talona carry the special ceremonial poison daggers of the faith. They have no compunction against using them in combat. A nonbeliever caught with such an item attracts the unwanted attentions of Talona to his or her health as well as her church’s wrath.

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13 Valsharoon on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:22 pm

Valsharoon
The Vaunted Archmage of Necromancy, the Necromancer, Lord of the Forsaken Crypt, Lord of the Forgotten Crypt, the Lich-Lord, Patron of Evil Liches

Demipower of Gehenna, NE

PORTFOLIO: Necromancy, necromancers, lichdom, evil liches, undeath
DOMAINS : Death, Evil, Magic, Undeath
ALIASES: Mellifleur
HOME PLANE: Mungoth/Death's Embrace
SUPERIOR: Azuth
ALLIES: Azuth, Mystra, Talos
FOES: Cyric, Jergal, Kelemvor
SYMBOL: A laughing lich skull wearing a silver crown on a solid black hexagon
WOR. ALIGN.: LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE

Velsharoon (VEL-shah-roon) is the Archmage of Necromancy, a demipower who has gathered the study, practice, and practitioners of necromancy and evil liches into his portfolio and who is striving to add general undeath as well. Newly elevated to a divine state, the Lord of the Forgotten Crypt is only beginning to create a cult of worshipers in the Realms. Although many prognosticators, mortals and immortals alike, have predicted the quick destruction of this arrogant necromancer, Velsharoon has played one power off against another, and he has begun to establish himself in the Faerûnian pantheon.

As a mortal, Velsharoon was a renegade Red Wizard of Thay who lived in the Tower Terrible in Soorenar as well as several other abodes. He aspired to the position of Zulkir of Necromancy, but was driven from that land centuries ago after feuding with his chief rival, Szass Tam, and several other powerful Red Wizards. Nearly as powerful as his archrival, Velsharoon spent many decades seeking enough power to destroy Tam and other wizards to challenged his evil machinations, including Halder of Delzimmer, Omm Hlandrar of Halruaa, the Simbul of Aglarond, and Elminster of Shadowdale.

In a very old ruin in the Plains of Purple Dust, southwest of the city of Zindalankh on the Sempharwater, Velsharoon discovered a process laid down long ago by Talos the Destroyer by which a great wizard can achieve demipowerhood. The Vaunted, as the archnecromancer was sometimes pilloried, managed to complete the ritual, which first turned him into a lich, and ascended into the ranks of Faerûn's pantheon with the Destroyer's sponsorship at the end of 1368 DR. (Sages speculate Ao allowed his ascension to provide a balance to the new Lord of the Death's dislike for the undead.)

Velsharoon served the Storm Lord dutifully, if not loyally, for two years before realizing that Talos was forcing him to expend his divine energy at a profligate pace. Unwilling to be worn out like a footsoldier's marching boots, Velsharoon shifted his allegiance to Azuth after forging an alliance of convenience with the Patron of Wizards. Infuriated, Talos railed against his fickle servant, but Azuth, with Mystra's help, backed the Archmage of Necromancy in a bid to redress Talos's encroachment on Mystra's province of magic. After Talos calmed down, Velsharoon made a secret alliance of convenience with the Destroyer, and he now plays Azuth and Talos off against each other. Officially, Velsharoon serves Azuth as the power primarily concerned with one class of specialist wizard-necromancers-much like Savras the All-Seeing serves Azuth as a patron of diviners. Unofficially, Velsharoon continues to aid Talos's quest for perennial destruction by encouraging his followers to unleash their horrible creations on an unsuspecting world.

Azuth remains an unlikely and unhappy ally of Velsharoon, and Talos seems to be biding his time until the Lord of the Forgotten Crypt gets his comeuppance. Kelemvor, the new Lord of the Dead, and Jergal, Scribe of the Doomed, actively oppose Velsharoon as his predilection for black necromancy violates many of their most cherished tenets. Cyric and Velsharoon share a mutual enmity as both seek to acquire a larger portfolio at the expense of Kelemvor. Finally, though they are not yet numbered among his enemies, it is likely that Velsharoon will soon find himself opposed by the myriad powers of nature, by the Triad of law and good (Tyr, Torm, and Ilmater), and by Lathander, the Morninglord.

Velsharoon is a vain, selfish, petty, but very canny power consumed with vengeance, obsessed with experimenting on living and dead beings, and unconcerned with the fates of lesser creatures. In many ways he continues to act like the mortal he recently was, albeit with far greater power at his disposal than before.

Other Manifestations

Velsharoon prefers to manifest as a great, disembodied human skull glowing with red, pale blue, or blue-green flames. Such an apparition appeared in the Skull Gorge following the Battle of Bones as the human troops made their final assault on the goblinoid armies. Although Velsharoon was a mortal necromancer at that time, church scriptures claim that the unholy visitant foreshadowed the Necromancer's impending ascent to the pantheon. Velsharoon can cast any spell or employ any spell-like power through such a manifestation. The phantom, blazing skull is immune to all attacks and apparently is simply an apparition. However, anything or anyone within the radius of the flickering flames suffers 4d6 points of magical fire damage per round. A successful saving throw vs. breath weapon reduces the damage by half.

Velsharoon is served by many forms of undead, both sentient and non-intelligent and both free-willed and controlled. In particular he manifests his will through blazing bones, boneless, crawling claws, dreads, flameskulls, flesh golems, and poltergeists. He is also served by living creatures such as fenhounds and scarab beetles. He is fond of black, purple, maroon, rust-red, gray, and bright and unnatural green gemstones (reminiscent of green slime in hue). These are often held sacred to him, and their discovery is said to denote his favor or presence. The overnight appearance of an adult bloodrose plant is said to herald the impending arrival of Velsharoon's avatar or manifestation.

The Church

Velsharoon is largely unknown throughout Faerûn, but in the past year or so many bards have begun to relate fanciful tales of his ascension to audience's seeking to be frightened by stories of horror. Outside of secretive cabals of necromancers, those mortals who are aware of this evil demipower perceive Velsharoon as the lord of liches and a power able to organize the undead against the living.

Cultists of Velsharoon gather in dusty crypts, abandoned mausoleums, and neglected graveyards. The Necromancer has few true temples, but those few which have been constructed are located in ancient catacombs or necropolises and resemble brooding stone mausoleums carved with ghastly depictions of the dead, the dying, and the undead. Fetid air and the cloying reek of embalming fluid waft through such edifices, and undead servitors serve as untiring sentinels. Vast laboratories, crammed storerooms of alchemical supplies, and befouled mortuaries consume most of the space, and few concessions are made toward sleeping chambers, dining halls, and kitchens.

Velsharoon's clergy is composed primarily of specialty priests, known as necrophants, and necromancers. Both groups are represented in roughly equal numbers. About 20% of the Necromancer's clergy are clerics, holdovers from before the Time of Troubles who served Myrkul, the former Lord of the Dead, and who have little interest in serving Kelemvor, the new Lord of the Dead, or Cyric, who briefly preceded him. Novices and acolytes of Velsharoon are known as Pallbearers. Higher ranking priests have titles such as Soul Stalker, Cryptguardian, Dead Walker, Bleeder, Life Leech, Spirit Sepulcher, Seeker of the Seven Truths, and Necromaster. Higher-ranking priests have unique individual titles conferred upon them by Velsharoon himself.

Dogma: Those who are chosen to be the apostles of Velsharoon are an elite fellowship of visionaries worthy of the respect of the common masses and entitled to be held in esteem for their bold excursions to the frontier of life and death. Life and death are the twin faces of eternal existence. To surrender to either one is to resign oneself to obscurity. True power lies in the twilight zone between life and death. By seeking to explore and extend the mortal condition and form-even mortal life itself-knowledge of the world, in all of its infinite complexity, is extended.

Lesser beings cannot understand the importance of the exploration of life, death, and undeath and the philosophical implications of this complex medley. Let no one interfere with the pursuit of such research, for the end result will more than justify the necessary sacrifices along the path. Knowledge is power, and knowledge of life and death brings power over all beings, living and unliving; power that can lift the church of Velsharoon and his priests to dizzying heights.

Day-to-Day Activities: Many priests of Velsharoon spend their days in necromantic research, seeking to understand the faith's collective knowledge of life, death, and undeath. Most have created hundreds of undead servitors, some of them unique. When an undead creation has served its purpose, these self-involved researchers often brand the symbol of their god on its chest and then order it to wander randomly across the Realms. Other priests of Velsharoon are involved in "support" activities for the faith-grave robbing, embalming, teaching, etc. A few of the more congenial low-level priests sometimes cure the minor ills of the populace to bring in funding or worldly supplies for the church and to more easily gather information about its enemies.

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: For a relatively young faith, the clergy of Velsharoon have quickly established a large number of holy days and rituals. The faith has yet to coalesce into a homogeneous creed, however, and widely varying rituals are found not only in different temples but within individual temples as well. Nonetheless, one ritual has become fairly widespread.

The Pact of the Everlasting is a special ceremony performed by Velsharoon's priests upon attaining 9th-level This unholy ritual involves the casting upon them of a Velsharoon's death pact (as well as numerous other horrible incantations and the foul sacrifice of numerous good-aligned sentients. Prominent theologians of the faith claim that this ritual is merely the first of seven to be revealed by Velsharoon along a path to achieving immortality.

Major Centers of Worship: The Crypt of the Arisen Army is hidden amidst the caverns worn into the walls of the steep-walled valley known as Skull Gorge. The subterranean temple and surrounding city, Necropolis, were founded at the site of one of Velsharoon's mortal abodes known as the Forgotten Crypt, which was built in the form of a grand mausoleum amidst the crypts of an ancient Netherese city. The Cryptskulls, as the clergy of the temple are known, haunt the length of the Skull Gorge and the neighboring Battle of Bones. The have animated a legion of undead to guard the gorge after claiming the entire valley as their domain. They are led by a high-level necrophant, Baron Vjurn Blacktower.

Affiliated Orders: The Order of One Thousand Nightmares is a company of nightmare-riding swordwraiths who haunt the Fields of the Dead. Although the ghostly warriors have battled each other for centuries, Velsharoon's clergy have recently mastered powerful spells enabling them to organize the contentious spirits of the ancient warriors into a necromantic knighthood of nearly 200 undead mercenaries whose ranks continue to grow. The aims of the necrophant masters of this unholy army are unknown, but they surely spell trouble for the Western Heartlands.

Priestly Vestments: Velsharan vestments resemble once-resplendent, rotting wizard's robes. The Necromancer's clergy wear garments of varying colors-any shade except red-but their habits are uniformly of somber hue. Most adorn their vestments with depictions of skulls and bones, but the faith is still young enough that fixed patterns of adornment for the various ranks have not developed.

Adventuring Garb: When adventuring, Velsharan clergy members favor iron-shod staves and cold iron or silver maces which are effective when battling undead. Most eschew armor as too great a burden on their spellcasting abilities, with only the relatively rare clerics of the clergy garbing themselves in conventional protective garb. A typical priest or necromancer disciple of Velsharoon considers an escort of undead servitors as eminently suitable armor.

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