Tales from the Sword Coast
The gods of the Realms, also called Powers, are important beings; they grant magical spells to their worshippers, involve themselves in Farûnian dealings, and grow or diminish in personal power in relation to the number of mortal worshippers they possess.Clerics in the service of a deity will advance only if they please their god, by remaining faithful to the god’s rules and aims, and acting as the god wishes. There are many deities in the Realms, even among humans, and this plethora of divine beings, and the wide variance of portfolios which they represent or epitomize, has led to general tolerance of the beliefs and worship of others.
The sacrifice of intelligent beings is considered murder in lawful realms, and use of another person’s goods as offerings is both theft and wanton destruction. Individuals, particularly clerics, may not be overly tolerant of the beliefs of others. It is considered impolite to inquire too deeply into the details of worship of a god one does not worship or is not likely to worship.
Most people on Toril pray to a number of gods on a daily basis, but dedicate their life to one particular patron diety. Many folk make offerings both to gods they revere and to dieties of opposite alignement, to ward off spite and divine whim. This is so because all the powers of the Faerûn pantheon are deeply enmeshed in the functioning of the world’s magic, its ecology and the dealings of its beings – civilized or not. Even orc children know that to die without a patron diety is to spend eternity writhing in the Wall of the Faithless, and begging for demons to claim one’s soul.
When mortals die, their souls are drawn to the Fugue Plane. This place is flat, gray and nondescript. The spirits of the dead gather here, usually unaware that they have died. The various gods and goddesses send their envoys on a regular basis to gather the souls of their worshipers; usually outsider beings of the proper alignment.
A worshiper’s soul automatically recognizes an agent of its patron diety, knows that it needs to follow and cannot be deceived into following the agent of another power. Likewise, agents cannot claim the souls of those who worshiped a patron other than those they represent. The collected soul is brought to its deity’s realm, where it will serve in whatever capacity necessary. There are two exceptions to this rule: devils and demons.
THE BAATEZU – devils lurk in small enclaves within the Fugue Plane. By agreement with Kelemvor, the god of the dead, they cannot harm or trick the waiting souls of the just-dead. However, they are allowed to explain to the soul its condition and may bargain with it. The baatezu have a great desire for souls, whom they use to create lemures (the lowest sort of devil) which over time are transformed into more powerful entities in the service of the Nine Hells.
THE TANAR’RI – while the lawful baatezu bargain with souls, the chaotic demons employ a simpler method: they steal them! Tanar’ri rulers sometimes create portals between the Abyss and the Fugue Plane, from which pour dozens of demonic servitors. Rallying at the Wall of the Faithless, the demons claw and tear the fabric, then make haste with as many doomed souls as they can. Kelemvor’s minions battle them, as do the baatezu, who are always willing to take on their old enemies. The attacks are tolerated, so long as they are not too frequent and don’t upset the age-old balance of power.
The City of Judgement
The shared realm of Kelemvor, Lord of the Dead, and Jergal, Scribe of the Doomed comprises the central portion of the Fugue Plane. From the Crystal Spire, Kelemvor and Jergal beckon the Faithless and the False from the Fugue Plane and into the city proper, there to be judged.
The Faithless, those who denied faith or paid lip service to their god, all receive the same punishement: They form a living wall around the City of Judgement, tormented forever or at least until stolen by the tanar’ri; a fate many consider to be even worse.
The False, who betrayed a faith they believed in, remain in the City proper, there to be punished in accordance with their crime. It is whispered that mutilation, dismemberment and madness are but the sweetest tortures inflicted by Kelemvor’s minions upon the False . . .
Everyone knows that the gods exist. There presence in the world is made real both by their holy power that they display through their priests (ie Priest Spells), and by the fact that occasionally, prayers ARE actually answered! Only 14 years ago, the Gods actually walked in the Realms, present in the form of their Avatars, and fought with each other. This was known as the Time of Troubles or the Godswar, and it was a time of bizarre weather, frequent earthquakes, omens in trees and skies and wizards had trouble controlling their spells.
Most people did not know what caused the Godswar, and there are as many if not more stories as there are Gods, as each church tells their story of what was going on. There are some consistent facts though. Apparently the Gods have their own God, called Ao, or the OverGod. He sets himself apart from the Realms, and although he now has a small following of worshippers, he grants no spells, and does not listen to their prayers. In the Godswar, Ao cast the other Gods from the heavens and forced them to walk on Faerun. He stripped them of a lot of their power for this time, and commanded Helm, God of Guardians, to guard the gates until the Gods differences had been settled. Some Gods actually died during this time, although in a similar way that magic or holy power can bring a mortal life back from death, the death of a God may not be permanent either.