A still highly incomplete guide to some of the gods, goddesses, deities, demigods, demons, devils and other belief systems that exist in the realms.
Religions of the realm are, on the average, complementary and tolerant; even strange and fanatic deities seldom demand exclusiveness from their followers – not to speak of fighting disbelievers. Still, there are some cults that exclude each others worship, as the nature of one might lift or counteract that of another – like you wouldn’t want to drink beer along with chocolate cake. Still the majority of people are monotheistic (believing in only one god). Luckily the deities of the realms never really interact with the play little or no role in the daily lives of the realms
Though – as is expected of them – most religions promise an afterlife, in some horrendous circumstances one might not be as dead as would seem appropriate: the life-force (something different from the soul) may be funneled back again into a dead body or even skeleton. The resulting zombie or revenant has nothing in common with the former being except the shape (more or less). Through a bitter fate or curse, a soul can be left with the life-force, but not the body of its own; the result is a ghost. Ghosts of mages and wizards do often keep their magical abilities.
In many Dungeons & Dragons settings, deities are beings that player characters can interact with directly. There is no question whether the gods exist; if you’re an experienced planar traveler, you can drop by Asgard and beat up Thor. Fundamentally, deities are just very powerful characters. This is not the case in the realms. While many of the deities are portrayed with anthropomorphic icons, they do not walk the mortal world or even the known planes. If they exist at all, they inhabit a higher plane of existence—a realm that cannot be reached with planar travel. Some believe that the souls of heroes travel to this realm after passing through the darkness; while this is a comforting belief, it has never been proven.
Many believe in one true power, the One or Prime God, an unseen benevolent force that guides us all. the One is the creator of existence, is inherently good and surrounds us all. If the gods may not even exist, who do you commune with them? Why do planar allies answer your call? Divine magic exists, and most believe that it is a gift from the greater powers. Something provides answers to commune, and a priest believes it to be his deity. A skeptic may counter that it is the collective unconscious. As for planar allies, reverence for greater powers is not limited to mortals. Celestials and fiends also worship deities. An archon dedicated to a specific deity may never have seen the face of the goddess but it believes in her implicitly, and it will aid those mortals who fight in her name. Ultimately, belief in a deity or greater power is a matter of faith. Each deity represents an ideal and espouses a certain code and approach to life. When you embrace the path of a god, you become part of a community in the mortal world. Perhaps, if you are deeply spiritual, you will gain the power to perform miracles of divine magic. This is what people expect of the deities in the realms: they affect the world by guiding and empowering their followers, not by manifesting and taking direct action.
A Cosmic Chess Game…
Pantheistic Clerics and the Cleric with No God
The predominant religion of the realms is the worship of one god, monotheism, most praise theOne or Prime God, dwarves revere the All-Father, which many believe to be one and the same.
It is possible for a cleric to have no god and still perform divine magic. This is not, however, the same as having no beliefs; it still requires a strong commitment to an ideal or a philosophy. The cleric needs to devise his own system of belief and explain how it justifies the domains he has selected, and the DM always has the authority to disallow a combination of domains. The goal is to allow a broad range of personal faiths.
Divine Magic in the World
Arcane magic is seen as a “science”. It is a force that can be controlled through formula and incantation. Divine magic is quite different: it is a miracle of faith. True clerics are rare. They are the crusaders of the church, skilled in battle and capable of channeling the power of their deity. The vast majority of priests are experts who possess no spellcasting ability whatsoever. An average religious expert might possess Knowledge (religion), Knowledge (History), Heal, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive, and use these skills to provide spiritual guidance to her community. Most divine spellcasters are adepts, just as most arcane spellcasters are mages. A cleric of any level is a remarkable figure. A side effect of this is that most temples do not sell divine spells. To begin with, many temples don’t have a divine spellcaster. Those that do will not sell the gifts of their god for mere gold. If the petitioner is a loyal member of the faith, an adept may aid him at no cost, or the adept may set a price based on the abilities of the adventurer, calling upon him to make a sacrifice to prove his faith or perform a service in the name of the church. The more powerful the spell, the more significant the sacrifice or service. If a nonbeliever serves the cause of the church, it’s possible a priest will provide assistance, but a temple is not a marketplace. No one can demand a miracle as if purchasing a spell from a wizard’s guild. Needless to say, this makes a character’s choice of religion an important decision. A cleric whom follows the teachings of the Prime God will never consider helping a follower of the Shadow, and you’d be soiling your faith even to ask. There is a notable exception to this rule: corrupt clerics. Especially in large cities, there are priests who are more interested in lining their pockets than serving the faithful. If you can find such a cleric, you can purchase any spell he can cast, at standard prices.
Here are some if the most popular deities:
- SōL – Sun God
Very old, but rather shrunken in importance is the God of Light, which is claimed to be (chiefly by his priests) the father of all gods. It may be caused by an earlier support of the wrong political force (Kings? Emperors? The Sun Priests are very secretive about that), maybe playing the “father” card too much. Many of the great temples of the Sun are rented to other cults, sold, or abandoned altogether. The religion, itself, is still alive, even though somewhat hidden. The priests still command the powerful sun and light magic, creation, and many spells of protection and the elements. Favorite weapons: scepter, darts
- Iris – The Lover, the realm’s smaller moon, that orbits around its larger moon, Luna.
The small moon circles the great one, for this reason he’s called “the lover” or “follower”. Priests of Iris work astral magic, they master revelation and use it for protection and magic securing. Their magic of death is frightening. Holy men (and women) of Iris are civilized sages, reclusive folk, concentrated on research and wisdom. This religion isn’t wide-spread and popular, but recognized and deeply respected. Temples are always situated adjacent to or close by Temples of Luna. Favorite weapon: stiletto, dagger.
- Luna – The Huntress, the realm’s largest (Great) moon
Mighty, old magic is woven around the cult of the Moon Goddess. Some wise old men say that she’s elder than the realms itself, but crazed old wise men aren’t necessarily all that credible. Favorite weapon: slings, arrows, mace.
- Dreg’Atar – Demonic Beast Lord, the bull god
The Bull God was present long before humans even were vainly seeking for the other gods. It is believed that it was the BloodStone Dwarves who eventually succeeded in defeating Dreg’Atar, legend say’s he was imprisoned in a chamber of amber deep within the EverFrost mountains. Dreg’Atar is often worshiped as a god of death, since his main purpose on this plane is to hunt and feed on the souls of mortals. Chaotic and evil in nature, Dreg’Atar has come to be the patron of many humanoids, he even has a small following among the greater races, especially in man. Dreg’Atar is mostly a forgotten entity, his memory fading with each passing season, but in the deepest, darkest recesses of the realms, temples to his chaotic evil ways still exist.