Cyric

Prince of Lies, the Dark Sun, the Black Sun

Symbol: White jawless skull on black or purple sunburst
Home Plane: The Supreme Throne
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Portfolio: Strife, lies, intrigue, deception, illusion
Domains: Death
Favored Weapon: “Razor’s Edge” (longsword)

Allies: None
Enemies: Mystra, Kelemvor, Oghma, Azuth, Mask, Tyr, Torm, Deneir, Leira, Bane, and many others

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Cyric (SEER-ick) is a god born of the events of the Time of Troubles. He gained the followers and portfolios of many old evil gods and fights to retain them. His power base is immense, and he is one of the three greater powers of evil in Faerun. The destruction of Zhentil Keep, along with many of the rest of the woes of Faerun, may be laid at his feet. In an attempt to further enhance his own power, Cyric created the Cyrinishad, a book that is enchanted to bind the reader slavishly to believing that Cyric is the most important being in the universe, exceeding all others. Cyric made the serious error of reading his own book and is now mad, believing that he himself is the center of the universe and everything that occurs is by his direct intervention.

Cyric’s madness has taken a number of forms, including visions and a continual chorus of voices that burble and moan in the back of his mind. These voices may be parts of Cyric’s own shattered consciousness or they may be the remains of the gods that Cyric slew or usurped the portfolios of. Cyric is petty, megalomaniacal, and totally self-centered. He enjoys tricking and misleading both well-meaning and corrupt individuals and then revealing his deceit when they have made some fatal mistake in judgment or taken a personally devastating action that will ruin their lives. His favorite libation is the tears of disillusioned dreamers and broken-hearted lovers, which he drinks from a silver chalice encrusted with tiny rubies in the shape of sundered hearts.

Cyric hates the other gods, especially Mystra and Kelemvor, but believes they are his puppets, easily fooled and defeated, existing only on his whim. Due to the consequences of his creation of the Cyrinishad, Cyric abandoned the portfolio of death and the dead to Kelemvor and lost the portfolio of tyranny to Iyachtu Xvim, the Godson of Bane. Cyric uses his new, twisted, ever-changing home, the Shattered Keep (Cyric refers to it as the “Castle of the Supreme Throne”), as a base for his future plans for the Realms. Such plans have thus far met varying degrees of success, but Cyric believes that the results are as he himself has declared—since he is the most powerful being in the universe.

The Church

Cyric’s faith attracts power, and it remains strong in any area where evil is planned and beings seek to impress their will on others. Cyric’s most devoted followers are young evil men and women seeking to make their way in an uncertain world and gathering as much power as possible for themselves. He also attracts the worship of almost all who pursue assassination for a living, though most of them are new to that profession, considering the demise of all Faerunian assassins during the Time of Troubles.

The church of Cyric benefited from a decade of growth and consolidation before the events that drove its god mad. The church absorbed a great many of the worshipers of Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul, and even the (still-hushed) revelation of the demise of Leira swelled its ranks.

The true priests of the Dark Sun Cyric (“the Sworn,” as they call themselves) are few in number, but growing. Cyric is also still granting spells to a few of the priests of the gods he supplanted after the Time of Troubles in an attempt to maintain these priests’ powers long enough to convert them. This strategy worked well for the Bhaalist and Myrkulyte clergy, who had almost all converted before the recent destruction of Zhentil Keep once more shook up the Faerunian pantheon. The Banite priests remained stubborn and the Cyricist church finally solved the problem of Bane in Zhentil Keep with a purge, known as the Banedeath, that led to the death or forced conversion of all Banites in Zhentil Keep (driving any survivors underground).

This purge tactic was being initiated all over Faerun when the Keep fell and Kelemvor and Iyachtu Xvim were catapulted to prominence in the Faerunian pantheon. At this point, Cyric lost most ex-Myrkulyte priests to Kelemvor and almost all unconverted Banite priests to Xvim. Feuds and internal strife are rampant among the now-integrated Myrkulytes, Bhaalists, and Banites and the true priests of Cyric (those who entered the church after Cyric’s ascension), as the ambitious, ruthless clergy members all seek to win ever-higher ranks within the still-unsettled priesthood. To these people, personal power—and its use upon others—is everything. Trust is not in great supply among adherents of the Dark Sun. Cyric, though now a few monks shy of a monastery, remains closely involved with the upper ranks of his clergy. His high priests are expected to carry out his orders, regardless of how dangerous or odd they may seem. Some priests carry out their tasks as enthusiastically as they had before. Others seek to obey the letter of any directives while changing the spirit of them.

The priesthood is still very much in flux. Its members employ a wide variety of titles and dispute each other’s rank often. Members of the clergy are always aware of the possibility that a superior may stumble, allowing them to advance. Priests are often encouraged by inner voices that may or may not be the voice of their deity. Popular priestly titles seem to include Dark Master, Hand of Cyric, Watchful Skull, and Dread Death.

Dogma

Cyric’s faith is one of control by any means necessary. Force and deception are used in equal measure to spread his word. He (or the masks he wears) is highly venerated by those of black hearts and evil deeds, from petty murderers to evil rulers of empires.

Cyricist priests are given the following charge: "Death to traitors. Death to all who oppose Cyric. Bow down before the supreme power of Cyric, and yield to him the blood of all who do not believe in his supreme power. "Fear and obey those in authority—but if they are weak or given to pursuing airy goals of vague goodness, slay them in the name of the Dark Sun. Battle against all clergy of other faiths, for they are false prophets and forces who oppose the One True Way.

“Bring death to those who oppose the rightful church of Cyric and those who seek to make or keep peace, order, and laws. All rightful authority comes from Cyric, and all other authority must be subverted.

“Break not into open rebellion, for when hosts march, all faiths and gods awaken. It is better by far to fell one foe at a time and keep all folk afraid, uneasy, in constant strife—and under the spreading tyranny of Cyric.”

Cyric’s abandonment of the portfolio of death and the dead that he had following the Time of Troubles has freed him to embrace much of where his true heart lies—treachery, deception, and strife. Random violence is never as good as violence that serves some greater, more dangerous purpose. Plans and counterplans can twist and turn on themselves, such that a defeat in one area can bring overall victory for the Dark Sun. Any means, any method, any sacrifice or treachery is allowed if it brings about the desired end.

Day-to-Day Activities

Priests of the Dark Sun are pledged to spread strife and work murder everywhere in order to make folk fear and believe in Cyric. They support rulers with a taste for cruelty and empire-building, but indulge in intrigue in every land so as to spread strife everywhere without plunging realms into widespread war and thus giving worship only to Tempus the war god.

At least, this is what Cyricists pay lip service to doing. In truth, Cyricists spend most of their time scheming against each other in an endless struggle of cabal against cabal, with each priest striving to strengthen his or her own personal power. In addition, Cyric speaks often to his faithful clergy, but not with one voice. They all fear him and must believe what he tells them each is the One True Way, but what he says often sets different churches at cross-purposes and different Cyricist priests at each other’s throats as much as it promotes the defeat of other religions.

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies

Cyric as yet has established few holy days. Until the destruction of Zhentil Keep, the final day and night of Marpenoth was observed as a holy day in celebration of the Banedeath, the purge that ensured Cyric’s total victory over the persistent worship of Bane within Zhentil Keep. After the Keep’s destruction, that holy day suddenly ceased to be observed, and all mention of it has been wiped from official church records.

Cyric’s church does not celebrate the anniversary of his ascension to divine status as this also marks the anniversary of Midnight’s ascension (and Cyric hates her). In addition, church histories now note that Cyric has always been divine, and therefore his ascension would be illogical to celebrate, although the history of Cyric’s noble efforts to regain the Tablets of Fate as a mortal are also a part of church canon. The obvious contradiction of speaking of Cyric’s mortal life while maintaining his eternal divinity is not allowed to trouble the minds of Cyric’s faithful.

Blood sacrifices are deemed necessary for Cyric to hear any prayers of entreaty. Local priests usually declare an impromptu Day of the Dark Sun (a high holy day) whenever they acquire something (or someone) deemed important enough to sacrifice to Cyric.

Major Centers of Worship

Zhentil Keep was the mightiest seat of Cyricism until its destruction at the end of 1368 DR. No new major centers for Cyricism have emerged since its destruction. Most observers expect one of the three new temples recently erected in Amn to become the mightiest seat of power among followers of the Mad God if they do not destroy each other in the rivalries inevitably to come.

Affiliated Orders

The church of Cyric does not sponsor any knightly orders. Cyric has ordered the establishment of a fighting order, the Company of the Ebon Spur, but the order has found no leader yet. The two priests in charge of establishing admission standards into the order (two high-ranking priests in two of the emerging Amnian temples) cannot agree on what those standards should be and are engaged in intricate plots to kill each other off, since each is convinced he is right. Since Cyric appeared to each of them in a vision and gave them precise and contradictory instructions as to the establishment of the order, he is evidently pleased with their efforts. When the order finally does get off the ground, Cyricist crusaders will lead fighters against rival churches for the glory of Cyric.

Priestly Vestments

Priests of Cyric dress in black or dark purple robes, with or without hoods, trimmed with silver. Silver bracers or bracelets (usually adorned with the stamped skull-and-starburst symbol of Cyric) are worn on the wrists to symbolize the priesthood’s enslavement to Cyric (in a symbolic reprise of Cyric’s one-time captivity), and some priests paint the symbol of their deity on their cheeks or foreheads on high holy days.

Adventuring Garb: Priests of Cyric are fond of going about in disguise and love using illusions that alter their appearance when they can obtain them. They dress either to be inconspicuous or to impress, awe, and terrify, depending on what they are assigned to do. Whenever they are in disguise or trying to look inconspicuous, they still attempt to wear as much protective armor or magic as possible without it giving them away. When dressing to terrify, they love black armor with ornamentation that looks menacing, such as spiked shoulder and elbow pieces and helms in the shape of snarling monsters.

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Cyric

Tales of the Bloodstone Lands Autumnfyr