moander_symbol.jpg
The Darkbringer, The Jawed God, The Rotting God, The Great Dread God
Pantheon Faerunian
Realm Rarandreth/Offalmound; Astral Plane
Portfolio Rotting Death, Decay, Corruption
Worshippers
Domains
Favored Weapon Scimitar/Sharded Cudgel

Moander

Moander was an ancient god of rot, corruption, and decay who had been banished from the Realms on more than one occasion. Although the ranks of its faithful were never large, Moander had been venerated by a variety of cults since before the rise of Netheril. Alternately represented in the ancient texts as he, she, or it, the Darkbringer is an excellent example of how even dead and forgotten gods can sleep lightly. The Darkbringer was a cruel and petty tyrant who enjoyed tormenting lesser beings and making them destroy that which they held most dear.

Minions of the Darkbringer were charged to feed Great Moander with fresh corpses of their own making. They were to hew down strong plants and trees to feed It. Moander’s priests were charged to keep the Abomination and the lands through which it would pass as warm as possible. When a novice was first initiated into the priesthood and possessed by a seed of Moander, the Darkbringer instructed him or her through horrific dreams as follows: “Seek not to question the ways and words of Moander, lest you be stricken by the Eating From Within. Go forth and possess beings of power and influence for me. Slay, and let the rot cover all. Fight against cold with fire and magic. Fear me, and obey.”

Moander frequently lied, particularly when such prevarications would cause great emotional distress in its victims. The Darkbringer sought to control every aspect of its worshipers' lives, viewing them only as puppets. It sought to corrupt and destroy all who would not bow down before it. Over a thousand years ago, during the time of Myth Drannor, the Darkbringer's sole remaining major temple in the Realms was a huge complex on the site of present-day Yûlash whose inhabitants were a continual menace to the forest peoples. The elves eventually burned the complex to the ground, slew all the priests, banished the Jawed God from the Realms, and imprisoned his avatar beneath the ruined temple where it could only be freed by a nonborn child. They hoped Moander would shrink to nothing, starved of worship, but many of its worshipers survived and fled south where they resurrected the priesthood. Over the next millennia, bands of cultists periodically tried to free the Abomination of Moander-without success. Stones inscribed with its symbol are still discovered on a fairly regular basis in ruined Yûlash.

Moander was inadvertently released in recent years by the sell-sword Alias and her companions through the manipulations of the Cult of Moander which still sought to restore the Darkbringer to the Realms. Moander’s physical presence in the Realms was then destroyed in a battle in the skies above Myth Drannor and Westgate by Alias and her allies with the aid of the red dragon Mistinarperadnacles Hai Draco, also known as “Mist.” The destruction wrought by the Abomination before its destruction resulted in the creation of Moander’s Road in Cormanthor, the elven forest. The Rotting God, now reduced to a demipower, again returned briefly to the Realms with the aid of a tribe of saurials it enslaved, but it was driven back and ultimately defeated by a combination of brave warriors, exiles from another world, and the Harpers. Moander was then slain on its home plane in the Abyss by a powerful human bard, Finder Wyvernspur, who then seized its divine porter. Sages speculate that the Nameless Bard was aided by his patron deity, Lady Luck (explaining, in their opinions, how a mortal could permanently slay a divine power). Finder has since become a deity in his own right, representing, among other things, the need for art to change to avoid the corruption that befalls it when it does not evolve.

If any former power of the Realms is truly utterly destroyed, it is the Darkbringer. However, an infinitesimal fraction of his essence does remain on the Astral Plane, so theoretically it could be revived, given sufficient worship, and could return to haunt the Realms or some other world again. Scheming individuals might have tried to reform the Cult of Moander for their own purposes, but a scheming deity beat them to it—Lolth. To the nature-focused elves of Myth Drannor, Moander epitomized the decay and rotting evil that could corrupt individual elves and destroy the forests the elves held so dear. In a sense, the Darkbringer was a more comprehensible (and tempting) force of evil to the surface elves than distant Lolth, queen of their exiled, dark elf km. With the Darkbringer’s death, Lolth has taken Moander’s name as an alias of her own. The Spider Queen realized in the aftermath of the Fall of the Gods that, like other gods of the Realms, she, too, was vulnerable to the vagaries of the strength and number of her worshipers. Lolth seeks to add surface-dwelling humans, elves, and half-elves to the ranks of her faithful through her guise as the Darkbringer.

Moander’s Minions were a secretive, proud clergy that scoured the land for malformed life (such as mongrelmen and diseased plants and beasts) and brutish, destructive beings (orcs and the like) to feed to Moander. Cultists of Moander strove to spread intelligent vegetable life throughout the Realms, including algoids, shambling mounds, gibbering mouthers, and vegepygmies (russet mold).

Minions of Moander existed to feed the god, whose decaying powers quickly destroyed any body it animated (always a tangled mass of carrion, dead or diseased plants, and the like). Minions were thus always kept busy building new bodies, leading the old ones to fresh food, or infecting other mortals to become new Minions.

In rituals and spell-weavings in secluded wilderness ravines and caves, they built the Great Dread God endless new bodies to possess as the Abomination: triangular pyramids of decaying vegetation, dung, and rotting corpses. Moander animated a “body” as the Abomination in a sacred ritual requiring but a single drop of blood from a living seed that granted the casting priest instant favor and promotion. To begin the ritual, the priest brought one of Moander’s living, seeds to the new body. Living seeds were sentient mammals or reptiles of high intelligence and good alignment who had been possessed by a seed of Moander and who had (at least temporarily) survived the process.

Temples of Moander tended to be located on stark hills in wilderness settings or in subterranean complexes in urban settings. Those in wilderness settings were marked by hilltop circles of red, fang-shaped plinths arranged to resemble a bloody, fanged mouth from above and typically contained an altar in the center of the circle, Those temples located in subterranean complexes were often constructed from forgotten sewer tunnels and saw much of the garbage and sewage of the city overhead pass through their halls. The walls of such temples were carved with tiny, intricate, flowing designs resembling tree sculptures grown and shaped by elves, but which depicted horrific images of heroes suffering deadly tortures at the hands of leering humanoids, being torn apart by chaotic beasts, and being fried, frozen, dissolved, and poisoned by dragons, beholders, and other deadly creatures. Temporary shrines to the Darkbringer were constructed in fetid swamps, verdant jungles, and rank sewers and consisted of massive compost piles meant to house the Abomination.

The Abyss of the Abomination, a subterranean temple of the Darkbringer located deep beneath Yûlash, survived Moander’s destruction and is still being run by the Moanderite cultists (unknowingly backed by Lolth). Tolerated by the Red Plumes of Hillstar, cultists of the Darkbringer are permitted too travel to and from the temple in exchange for regular, hefty bribes to the local commanders. The temple is entered via a deep shaft hidden in a newly constructed warehouse owned by the cult. Surrounded by a ring of fanglike red marble stones, the pit is used as a garbage midden by the city’s inhabitants for a modest annual fee. The cultists serve as an informal dungsweeper’s guild for the slowly rebuilding city. The temple itself is entered via a recently rebuilt stair that spirals down the pit wall to a platform halfway down the stair, and the complex is undergoing a significant expansion.

Numerous sacred sites of the Darkbringer’s cult survive throughout the Realms and are the site of pilgrimages by Moander’s cultists. West of the city of Westgate is a ring of seven hills, each the site of a temple to one of the Seven Lost Gods and topped with a ring of standing stones. The southernmost hill, known as the Hill of Fangs, is the site of a simple shrine to the Darkbringer. The standing stones are not mere pillars but huge red plinths of stone shaped like fangs that point inward. At the center of the ring, meant to suggest the Jawed God, is a bloodstained stone altar. Although the Darkbringer’s cult is no longer active in the region, cultists gather annually at midnight on the sixth of Kythorn, the anniversary of Moander’s defeat, to plead for the return of the Jawed God to the area.

Orders

Eyes of the Darkbringer

Moander was served by a once secret brotherhood of rogues known as the Eyes of the Darkbringer. The Darkeyes, as they are known among the faithful, served as spies and occasionally as assassins and warned the cult of any brewing threats to their fell rituals. Some wonder if, as Moander's memory persists, so too does this group.

Priests

Servants of Moander had to undergo a ceremony upon their initiation into the cult in which a seed of Moander was absorbed into the initiate. This seed slowly grew throughout the body until the recipient’s entire internal structure was composed of rotting plant material. The only outward manifestation was a small flowered tendril emerging from one ear and winding through the hair. At all times the recipient was under the direct mental and physical control of Meander, whenever it so desired, and would always act according to the instructions of Moander and the cult.

Moander’s priests tended to be lonely, directionless folk who had found in the god’s mind visions firm direction in life. Once Moander possessed a body directly, the god’s control over that being became absolute, but the process of eating them away from within also began. In the case of extremely capable servants, the Darkbringer guaranteed their loyalty by its power to speedily slay them from within if they proved treacherous, but kept them alive for years by granting them spells that inhibited the inner rotting (such as slow rot).

All priests were known as Minions of Moander. Senior clergy of a temple were High Minions, and the leader or high priest of a temple was the Master Minion. The supreme Faerûnian priest of the Darkbringer was known as the Mouth of Moander. The clergy members of Moander used no other titles as they were all simply slaves and puppets of the Darkbringer.

Priestly Vestments

Moander’s priests tended to dress in everyday garb to conceal their faith when they were “reaping” (gathering material for the god’s latest body), but within their hidden cave and subterranean cellar temples, they wore cowled robes of mottled green and brown trimmed with natural vines, symbolizing Moander’s growth from decay, and faceless masks of white with a single eye painted in the forehead and surrounded by teeth.

All senior clergy wore copper-hued robes enchanted so as to afford food for a creeping fungus growth that moved slowly and continuously over them; only the Master Minion had a “bare” copper robe. The Mouth of Moander wore a clean white robe bearing the red-embroidered device of an eye surrounded by an open fanged mouth on his or her breast. As puppets of the Darkbringer, all of Moander’s Minions sported a flowered tendril emerging from one ear and wrapped throughout their hair.

When adventuring, Minions of Moander dressed practically in the best armor they could find. Most wore as much of their ceremonial garb as possible without drawing attention to themselves. Some enjoyed pretending to he druids and dressed appropriately, wielding scimitars. Others favored nondescript brown and green clothing and wielded cudgels inlaid with shards shaped to resemble fangs.

Ritual

The church of Moander had no calendar-related high holy days except the Balefire. Always held on the first of Hammer, the Balefire celebrated the will of Moander’s servants to hold back the cold by building huge bonfire in its honor—fires at which the god always manifested to thank them, to deliver inspirational sermons, and to charge them with missions to further its power during the cold months when the Darkbringer retreated to deep, lava-warmed caverns in the Underdark (and had to be guarded by select faithful Minions against drow, deep dragons, and other dangers of the World Below).

On a daily basis, faithful of Moander had to slay something or gather vegetable matter in the name of the god and render up their gatherings either to build a body for the god or to encourage rot and decay. Each month Moander’s Minions had to seek to extend the influence of the god by spreading rumors of its power and by bringing a seed of Moander into contact with at least one new being (while whispering Moander’s name).

Rituals were simple, and Moander did benefit its priests in one special way: Minions of Moander never caught a disease (including mummy rot and lycanthropy) nor suffered from poisoning no matter what they did. They could eat all manner of rotting food, mold, and the like, and drink water that had been deliberately poisoned or contaminated by decaying things and take no harm.

  • deities/moander.txt
  • Last modified: 2018/01/13 06:46
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