An Introduction to the Forgotten Realms: Gods of Neutrality

As I mentioned in my last article, there are a lot of gods in the Forgotten Realms. The list in the Player’s Handbook has only a few of them! This article presents five of the important gods of Neutrality.

Kelemvor, Lord of the Dead

Kelemvor is another mortal who became a god. The lover of Midnight (who became Mystra), he now functions as judge of the dead. Basically, when you die, Kelemvor works out where you end up.

He hates undead. Really, really hates them. This makes him a great deity to follow if you’re going to be playing in a campaign with a lot of undead – you’ll always have an in-character reason to go after them. His priests are known as Doomguides, and they counsel the bereaved and try to aid them in their time of grief. Along the way, they likely get to destroy a few undead as well!

This puts his faith in stark contrast to that of Myrkul, the god of the dead killed in the Time of Troubles. Myrkul was an evil deity whose priests thought undeath was the best thing ever. Rumours that he is back are likely denied by the Doomguides.

As for Kelemvor, he’s something of a rocky run as a deity. His mortal self was slain by Cyric (on his way to becoming a god himself), his soul was trapped in the sword Godsbane, which was actually the deity Mask, god of thieves. Mask’s machinations eventually caused Cyric to lose control of the land of the dead and for Kelemvor to ascend (1368 DR). Kelemvor then showed a lot of favouritism in his judgements, which led to his being accused of incompetence by the other gods. Eventually he settled upon being strictly fair in his judgements, and so he has continued to this day.

Kelemvor is Lawful Neutral. His chief temples are in Ormath (in the Shining Plains) and Ormpetarr (in Sepech). He was the only deity with a temple in Phlan, which is where the Tyranny of Dragons adventures were set for the D&D Expeditions program.

Kelemvor’s followers mainly would serve in the Order of the Gauntlet, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the Lord’s Alliance as well. The Zhentarim? Very, very unlikely.

Tempus, the Foehammer

Do you like fighting? Then Tempus is likely the deity for you!

When you get a Chaotic Neutral deity of War, you’re not talking about a great lord of strategy here. Tempus just enjoys battle, and dispenses his favour randomly to those participating – or at least, that’s how us mortals see it. He’s very popular as a deity of the northern barbarians (who call him Tempos), and of warriors all through the Realms. If you’re playing a Barbarian, there’s a fair chance you worship Tempus.

The dogma of Tempus states that he gives his favours to the deserving warrior – whatever that means! He’s not opposed for his followers from retreating from battles they’d otherwise lose, but neither does he appreciate mortals constantly avoiding battle. It’s the true test of valour.

Despite his chaotic alignment, Tempus does respect some things. Displays of valour. Honour in battle. He’s not a god of random destruction: he’d rather you attack an opponent’s army rather than destroy their homes. Killing women and children? That’s not the way of the true warrior.

“Be fearless. Never turn away from a fight. Obey the rules of war.”

There are three notable temples to Tempus I can find: the Abbey of the Sword in Battledale, The House of Glory in Tantras, and the Towers of the Vengeful Hand in Eshpurta, but you’re likely to find shrines and priests to Tempus everywhere! Mulmaster also has the High House of Swords, for people playing D&D Expeditions in the Elemental Evil season.

There are likely to be followers of Tempus in most of the factions, although the Lord’s Alliance and Zhentarim would seem better fits.

Silvanus, the Forest Father

The original version of druids in Dungeons & Dragons only allowed them to be True Neutral, with one interpretation being that they were removed from civilisation and attempted to protect the forests from being cut down for more humans to live there. Silvanus dates from that interpretation, which also encompasses the idea of life having to be in balance: with Good balanced by Evil and Law balanced by Chaos.

Silvanus is lifted from the Celtic pantheon – the original entry on him in the first boxed set said to look in Legends and Lore for a description, which doesn’t give that much more detail. Basically, he’s worshipped by druids and their followers, and has a chance to appear when a druid or his grove is damaged. More detail has been added since. He’s served by Mielikki, and strongly believes in the Balance. He doesn’t believe that violence should be the first resort of disputation, but he’s not against it when time is not on his side or he or his followers are threatened.

His followers can occasionally ignore that last, and rather aggressively go against people who might threaten the wild, but it’s not part of his core belief. Really!

Yes, Silvanus is True Neutral.

Oakengrove Abbey is a major temple of Silvanus in the Great Forest of Cormanthor, south of the Moonsea. You’re likely to find shrines to Silvanus in the wilder parts of the Realms – especially the North and the Dalelands. Big formal temples? Quite unusual. Druidic groves? Much more likely!

The worshippers of Silvanus make up a large portion of the Emerald Enclave. I suppose a few might be in the Order of the Gauntlet or the Harpers, but it’s Emerald Enclave that fits best.

Gond, the Wonderbringer

One of the more unusual deities in the Forgotten Realms, Gond is the god of invention. Did you know there’s a form of gunpowder in the Realms, smokepowder? That’s Gond’s fault.

The island of Lantan was the centre of his worship, although there’s also a major temple complex to him in Baldur’s Gate. When Abeir and Toril fused again in the aftermath of the Spellplague, Lantan was flooded by the resulting tsunamis, and most of their technology was lost. There was wild rejoicing all over Faerûn! Well, probably not, because everyone was recovering from the devastation, but it’s fair to say that the worshippers of Gond were viewed with a fair deal of scepticism and intolerance by those who had witness the results of their labour.

The faith of Gond is entirely about bringing new stuff into existence. Consequences? What are those? It’s the pursuit of the new, the bringing into the light of something no-one had previously thought of that is important. It’ll make life better in the long run. Honest!

Gond’s alignment is Neutral, and you’ll find that there are lot of gnomes that worship him, along with smiths and other craftsmen.

There’s a long standing tension between magic and technology (in some fantasy worlds, the rise of technology means the loss of magic). I’m not sure if that’s true in the Realms, but it’s certain that the worshippers of Mystra and Gond don’t tend to get along that well.

Followers of Gond would mostly be in the Lord’s Alliance, although I wouldn’t be surprised if a few were in the Zhentarim or Harpers.

Helm, the Watcher

If you need a guardian who takes his job seriously and never wavers, choose Heimdall. Unless you’re in the Realms, in which case Helm is your god. Patron of city guards and soldiers everywhere, the worship of Helm is omnipresent in civilisations that take seriously the rule of law. Which means, of course, there are a lot of places in the Realms that don’t care about him at all!

Helm managed to get a pretty bad reputation during the Avatar Crisis as he was the deity set to prevent all the exiled gods from returning home. Mystra didn’t believe he’d stop her, so he killed her to show he was serious. Yes, Helm has no sense of humour. (If the current Mystra is actually Mystryl, this isn’t the version of Mystra that Helm killed. They might actually respect each other!) And then there was the business with the invasion of Maztica, where his followers took on the roles of the conquistadors… Of course, then Abeir and Toril fused and Maztica wasn’t there any more. It’s probably back post-Sundering…

Helm was slain in 1384 DR by Tyr, possibly at the instigation of Cyric. During the events of The Sentinel, he chooses a new Chosen: Kleef, once a guard from Marsember. So, he’s back…

If you’re a Lawful fighter, Helm is a pretty good choice as your deity. Two significant temples of Helm could be found in Procampur and Tsurlagol, both in the Vast.

Followers of Helm can be found mainly in the Lord’s Alliance, although some might be in the Order of the Gauntlet.

2 comments

  1. Pingback: An Introduction to the Forgotten Realms: Gods of Hillsfar and Elventree | Merric's Musings

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