The Forgotten Realms has a very large number of gods, enough so that most campaigns won’t even use half of them. That’s fine. Gods in D&D tend to serve as inspiration for characters and adventures, but every DM has their own way of handling them. In the Forgotten Realms, pretty much every character worships a deity, because the souls of those who do not tend to suffer afterwards with no god to claim them. Exactly what happens to them is unclear – pre-Time of Troubles they were apparently bound into the Wall of the Faithless, but when Kelemvor became God of Death, he instituted a different policy. Certainly, the priests of the Forgotten Realms are pretty clear that you need to worship a deity… and they’re the ones who would know, right?
A selection of deities of the Forgotten Realms are listed in the Player’s Handbook; to these should be added the non-human deities, who are also standard in the Forgotten Realms. In this article, I’m going to discuss a few pertinent details of some of the more prominent gods for adventurers, selected mainly because I like them. And yes, this is only a very small selection of the Gods of Good. It’s not even all of them – I plan to revisit them in the future.
Tymora, Goddess of Luck
When you want to be lucky, you call upon Tymora. (If you want someone else to be unlucky, that’s Beshaba’s job, but I wouldn’t call upon her if I were you…) It’s probably not surprising that Tymora is worshipped or at least invoked by a lot of adventurers. Of course, being lucky doesn’t involve much planning, so Tymora is considered Chaotic Good, but you’ll find people of all alignments calling upon her. I’m not sure how much she listens, but if a character calls upon Tymora before making a roll, you could always give that character inspiration. Or not. She’s that sort of goddess, you see!
Tymora gives her luck to those who help themselves, and is one of the deities that rogues and bards tend to worship, as well as adventurers of all sorts.
During the Time of Troubles, Tymora manifested in her temple in Arabel (in Cormyr) and offered support during the crisis; she gained a great deal of popularity as a result.
Her clerics are known as Luckbringers (or the Fortunate amongst themselves), and they seek to aid those who pursue their own destinies – which makes them very popular with adventurers. More than one adventuring party has been healed by the local Luckbringer, who sees it as their sacred duty to help people who take risks to achieve their goals. Tymora is not a cruel goddess, and doesn’t approve of those whose goals are to dominate or hurt others. If you’re using the factions of 5E, the Luckbringers tend to not get on that well with the Zhentarim and Lords’ Alliance, while being quite close to the Harpers. The Order of the Gauntlet would number a few Luckbringers within its ranks, although it tends to be a more structured organisation than worshippers of Tymora are happy with. They prefer to work alone or in small groups.
Honestly, if you’re choosing a god for your character, you should probably first look at Tymora. A large number of adventurers worship her – with good reason. Her worship is widespread amongst the main adventuring areas of the Sword Coast and the Moonsea (and the Dalelands), so finding a priest shouldn’t be that difficult. Incidentally, the only good-aligned god with a temple in Mulmaster is Tymora – enough testament to her popularity!
Ed Greenwood has a good description of some of the problems of being a priest of Tymora in his first novel, Spellfire.
Torm, God of Courage and Self-Sacrifice
If you’re a bit more serious-minded than a follower of Tymora, the god Torm may be more your style. Torm is followed by quite a number of paladins, and he is one of the deities killed during the Time of Troubles. (However, as he did so in a good cause, trying to defeat Bane, he was returned to life shortly thereafter). Torm isn’t the only Lawful Good deity associated with warfare, but because Torm opposes Bane, the God of Tyranny, I find him quite a useful deity and a good one for my noble warriors to follow. He seeks to protect people, and that’s a good ethos for adventurers to follow.
Torm is Lawful Good, of course!
The feud with Bane brings a few interesting problems for characters in Mulmaster (site of the second season of D&D Expeditions), because Bane is the main deity there. If you worship Torm, I’d keep your head down if you don’t want to cause trouble.
Torm’s priests and followers seek to ensure good rulership: that laws are just, and they are strictly but compassionately enforced. They’re very active in the Order of the Gauntlet and the Lords’ Alliance (although there are a lot of members of the Lords’ Alliance who don’t appreciate their work), but have little to do with the Emerald Enclave. They occasionally find themselves working with the Harpers – although the Harpers are perhaps a little too free-willed for their liking – but they don’t get along that well with the Zhentarim. When you consider that for a large part of their existence the Zhentarim worshipped Bane, you begin to see the tensions! (If you’re in D&D Adventurers League play, don’t use worship of Torm to break party unity. Torm’s followers aren’t going to let Tiamat lay waste the Realms just because they don’t like the Zhentarim much).
Torm tends to be a better choice around the Moonsea area (and the Vast) than on the Sword Coast, but you can find worshippers of him there as well.
Incidentally, Torm’s patron Tyr was slain during the Spellplague and gave his powers to Torm (per 4E), but it’s entirely possible Tyr is now back – he’s listed in the Player’s Handbook, after all. We just don’t know (yet) what’s happened…
Lathander, the Morninglord
One of my favourite deities for good-aligned clerics is Lathander. Or Amaunator in 4E. It’s a bit confusing. I’m going to go with the original deity here – Amaunator isn’t in the 5E PHB, so I’m going to cheerfully ignore him.
Lathander represents beginnings and renewals. He’s invoked by those beginning a journey, entering into a business arrangement, or upon the birth of a child. His clergy want people to live happily together. Others might call them idealistic, but they don’t see anything wrong with being optimistic. Above all, his clergy – the Dawnbringers – seek to foster hope.
Lathander is Neutral Good. You’re likely to find his followers in the Order of the Gauntlet, seeking to guide its troops on some new mission. There are likely a few followers of Lathander amongst the Harpers as well, and though it’s probably unlikely the Zhentarim have many devotees amongst its numbers, they may invoke him when they start new capers.
You can find temples to Lathander around the Realms. In particular, there are temples in Tantras, Shadowdale, Daggerford, Marsember and Waterdeep.
Lathander’s optimistic nature does grate on some other gods, and he steadfastly opposes the evil gods of Bane, Cyric, Loviatar, Talos and especially Shar. He also hates undead – which makes him an ally of Kelemvor.
Mielikki, the Forest Queen
Mielikki is one of the deities of the Realms taken from real-world mythologies, in this case, the Finnish pantheon. Her priests seek to have intelligent beings living in harmony with the wild. They frown upon the wanton destruction of nature, and seek to replant areas that have been blighted.
Mielikki is Neutral Good, and tends to be a lot less militant about the natural world than some of the other nature gods, which means that the clerics, druids and rangers that follow her aren’t opposed to people using forest resources, or even chopping down a tree or two (as long as two trees are planted for each tree taken). They think everyone can get along, but that doesn’t mean they won’t take direct action when necessary to protect their forests.
As you might expect, Mielikki tends to be revered more in the wilder places of the Realms. The northern part of the Sword Coast, for instance – Silverymoon in particular – and the Dalelands as well. I would expect she doesn’t have many worshippers in Thay! Mielikki doesn’t really have temples, but there are a number of groves and natural features sacred to her.
Mielikki is an important goddess to the members of the Emerald Enclave and her worshippers may also be allied with the Harpers. At times, her worshippers might aid the Order of the Gauntlet, although the Order’s goals don’t really fit with Mielikki’s aims; the Order opposes all evil, Mielikki wants to defend the woodlands and its people more. The Lords’ Alliance tend to come into conflict with her worshippers the most. The Zhentarim tend to be more city-bound, and their schemes less likely to draw the opposition of the forest people.
If you read the popular Forgotten Realms books by R.A. Salvatore, Drizzt and Catti-Brie worship Mielikki.
Mystra, Goddess of Magic
If you want a complicated history of a deity, Mystra’s got it. I’m not even sure of her alignment. She was originally presented as a Lawful Neutral deity in the original Forgotten Realms boxed set. In the Time of Troubles she was slain, and replaced by the adventurer Midnight, who then took Mystra’s name as well as her portfolios. Midnight-as-Mystra was Neutral Good. Then Cyric killed Mystra, which caused the Spellplague that devastated the land (leading to the 4E Realms), but during the Sundering, Mystra was returned to life. And, it seems that the Mystra that got returned to life was actually the one killed during the Time of Troubles. So why does the Player’s Handbook list her alignment as Neutral Good? No idea. Perhaps she came back as a kinder deity. Or the PHB is wrong. Anyway, Mystra is either LN or NG. Choose one and have fun with it.
She’s also the Goddess of Magic, meaning that she’s worshipped by a lot of sorcerers and wizards. (Warlocks tend to serve their patrons). Her priests and followers seek to spread magic, and not have it hidden away. The idea here is that in a world without magic, only brute strength rules – wouldn’t it be nice to have an alternative? In the Realms, magic is that alternative.
Mystra is potentially the most powerful god. She’s so powerful that a large part of her power has been hidden away within certain mortals (although how mortal they are bearing her power is open to interpretation). Certainly the most famous of her Chosen – Elminster – has lived for a very long time indeed.
There is a temple to Mystra in Waterdeep. In Mulmaster, her worship is outlawed – not all that surprising as arcane magic is outlawed there! I’m not actually sure how much she gets large congregations in any case that would warrant temples – her clergy are likely to tend a smaller flock. A shrine here or there, mostly. Really, the local wizard’s tower is all the shrine she needs!
The Harpers are the most likely to have devotees of Mystra amongst their ranks, along with the Lords’ Alliance. Followers of Mystra amongst the Zhentarim are likely fewer, just due to the disagreements of the goddess with Bane and Cyric. (Let’s face it, Mystra was killed because of the actions of Bane and Myrkul…)