Tales of the Bloodstone Lands
Lord of the Dead, Judge of the Damned
Symbol: Upright skeletal arm holding the golden scales of justice
Home Plane: The Crystal Spire (The Fugue Plane)
Alignment: Lawful neutral
Portfolio: Death, the dead
Worshipers: The dying, families of the dying, gravediggers, hunters of the undead, morticians, mourners
Cleric Alignments: LE, LG, LN
Favored Weapon: “Fatal Touch” (bastard sword)
Kelemvor (KELL-ehm-vor), a former associate of Midnight, Cyric, and Adon during the events of the Godswar, inherited the portfolio of the god of the dead when Cyric lost those responsibilities following the Cyrinishad debacle. The first official act of the newly created god of the dead was to turn Cyric’s Bone Castle into a gleaming tower of crystal, a symbol that this particular god of the dead would hide nothing from his subjects. He intends to impart justice among the dead in an even-handed and fair manner.
Kelemvor is kind, just, forthright, and earnest, though stern at times. He is not terribly clever for a power and tends to try to solve what he perceives as his immediate problems with direct action. Though he means well, he does not always see the difficulties down the road caused by short-term solutions.
Kelemvor has an unexpected ally, at least in terms of traditional godly alliances. He and Mystra, formerly the human Midnight, remain close. They were in love during their mortal lives, but whether this romance has kindled during their godly tenure is a matter they have thus far kept private. Cyric, who lost his death portfolio to Kelemvor, is Kelemvor’s bitter enemy. Cyric views Kelemvor as someone who pointedly and maliciously set out to steal a part of Cyric’s rightful power. One traditional foe of the Faerunian god of the dead, Lathander, has not declared against Kelemvor, but is waiting to see if his actions live up to his promises.
Those who see death as a necessary part of the cycle of life, not something grisly and abhorrent in itself, are the favored followers of Kelemvor. They tend to be humans who derive personal comfort in seeing that disorder does not attend death and to be both sensitive and practical. Gravediggers, mourners, embalmers, monument carvers and stonecarvers who work in graveyards all give their respects to Kelemvor, along with the relatives of the recently deceased and Kelemvor’s clergy. In addition, the majority of the temples of Cyric that used to be temples of Myrkul have now switched their ways and allegiance to Kelemvor and are learning to follow him with as much fervor as they did Myrkul and Cyruk (their name for Cyric) in turn.
These old-line converts tend to be more evil in nature, but are drifting closer to neutrality as the years pass or leaving Kelemvor and finding other deities more suited to their natures.
The bulk of the death clergy are clerics who comfort the dying, administer last rites, assist in funerals, burials, and the just and orderly setting right of affairs that follow, place warning marks of plague and other diseases, and ensure that the will or expressed desires of a deceased are followed. The remainder of the death clergy are the specialty priests, who Kelemvor has blessed with unique foresight and applied wisdom that enables them to anticipate where death will occur and so direct the other clergy. Most specialty priests are also charged with maintaining discipline within the clergy (quelling clerical attempts to prolong life due to sentimentality) and with fundraising to support the clergy. Most donations to the church are bequests in the form of possessions or lands that must be sold, rented out, or—in the case of profitable farms—worked by the clergy.
Priests of Kelemvor are known as doomguides. The church has not been in existence long enough to develop even an informal consensus about the usage of titles.
Kelemvor is interested in having followers who recognize that death is but a part of life. It is not an end but a beginning, not a punishment but a necessity. There is no deceit in death, nothing concealed, nothing chaotic. Death is an orderly process.
The followers of Kelemvor are not out to spread death and destruction in the Realms. Rather, they seek to help others to die with dignity at their appointed time and no sooner. Just as they do not seek to rush death, they also speak out against those who seek to artificially prolong their lives beyond their natural limits, including such magical creations as liches.
The charge of Kelemvor to his novitiates is this: “Death is but part of life: fear it not, evade it not, and view it not as evil. To fear death delivers you into the hands of those who can bring death down upon you. Die with dignity, neither raging nor seeking to embrace undeath. Do honor to the dead, for their strivings in life brought Faerun to where it is now, and to forget them is to forget also where we are now—and why.”
The church of Kelemvor believes that seeking out those who are near death is their great duty, for it is the will of Kelemvor that no human (and if possible, no sentient being) die a natural death in all Faerun without one of his priests at their side. Kelemvor assigns the essences of the dead their proper place in the ongoing cycle of existence, and it must be emphasized to all that he is the Great Guide, leading all folk into their next life. Death is not a final ending, but the next step in a wondrous, ongoing journey. Let no one die not knowing that Kelemvor awaits them and that he is not to be feared, for he believes in justice and wields mercy.
Priests of Kelemvor comfort the dying and provide burials for those who die alone. They administer last rites to the dying and help the living left behind to better understand the natural and inevitable process of death and dying. When people die alone without a will, known heirs, or business partners, their goods are taken by the church to fund its ongoing ministry to the dying. This does not, by any means, mean that death clergy would ever take goods from a grave for their own benefit.
When plagues, hordes, or great monsters run amok, they must be fought by the death clergy, for it is not right that many die before their due time. When marauding dragons or other monstrous predators become problems, the death clergy should try to interest adventuring bands in slaying the problems— failing that, they must deal with the problems themselves. In cases of great pain, ravaging disease, or mutilation where death would be a mercy, it is the office of the priests of Kelemvor—and only the priests of Kelemvor— to bring death, as swiftly and painlessly as possible.
Undeath is an affront to Kelemvor. Undead creatures are to be destroyed or given true death whenever they are met with, and even sought out and hunted down for that holy purpose. Priests of Kelemvor are free to hire or take as companions folk of other faiths to assist them in this purpose, for the great sin of undeath must he stamped out by whatever means possible. Though members of the clergy can command the undead, these commands usually can be boiled down to “Go back to your graves and sleep there forever” except in times of dire need. Kelemvor has made no official statement to single out good-aligned undead creatures as an exception to his policy, though specific temples and individuals often take only lenient action against or ignore such creatures in the field, preferring to concentrate their efforts on those creatures of obvious malevolent intent or who are likely to quickly multiply.
All priests of Kelemvor may be called to a holy mission by their god or their senior clergy and pursue a more active and adventurous life. Such priests defend death clergy members and holdings when need be and bring death to others when it is necessary. For example, a Kelemvorite specialty priest assigned a holy mission may be sent to lead an adventuring party to stop the spread of disease or kill beings seeking to disrupt natural cycles— such as mages who seek to create huge armies of undead or develop necromantic spells that can slay others and transform them inescapably into undead creatures under their control. Death clergy sent to slay predators or to go into dangerous country to comfort the dying are often issued scrolls of offensive spells or magical items of battle power gleaned from the goods of those who died alone.
Holy Days/Important Ceremonies
Most folk experience the rituals of the death clergy in a personal way: As someone dies, a priest or priests of Kelemvor performs the Passing, a simple ceremony of last rites that is a chant of comfort calling on Kelemvor to be alert for the coming essence of this person, who has enriched life in Faerun in his or her own way and earned this salute. The Lament for the Fallen is a larger ceremony of this sort sung over a battlefield, ruined village or fortress, or other site where many folk have recently died.
Clergy of the god also lead a daily morning ceremony over graves, the Remembrance, and a ritual that begins after nightfall, the Daeum. The Remembrance is a dignified rite of songs and prayer usually attended by relatives of the dead. The Daeum, or Thanks to the Guide (Kelemvor), is a celebration of the strength and purpose of the Great Guide and his church and is attended only by faithful followers of the god. It is at the close of this ceremony that the goods of the dead are distributed to the assembled faithful and any favors of the god or holy missions are dispensed through manifestations or the orders of senior clergy.
The two great calendar-related holy days of the Church of Kelemvor are Shieldmeet and the Feast of the Moon. During both of these days, priests of the Lord of the Dead tell tales of the Deeds of the Dead so that the greatness and importance of the ancestors of those alive today will never be forgotten. They also call back from the dead heroes who are needed in the land again (in the opinion of mortal supplicants whom Kelemvor agrees with). During both of these solemn high holy days, any priest of Kelemvor who casts speak with dead can talk freely with the departed for as long as desired and hold conversations, not merely put questions to them for which the answer will be a bare “yes” or “no.”
Major Centers of Worship
The only major center of Kelemvorite worship thus far is the Tower of Skulls in Ormath, an abbey built as a ziggurat whose walls are carved with a stone facing in the shape of staring human skulls. Its spiral ways are roamed by mysterious guardian creatures that resemble will o’ wisps. The resident clergy, commanded by the High Lord Doom Bezurgathan Indraeyan, can muster a capable army of battle-hardened clerics wielding magical items to defend the abbey. Vast cellars reaching down to an underground river for water and into caverns in which edible fungi are grown underlie the Tower. The priests make potent amber wine and various perfumes, unguents, and potions for sale from the fungi they raise.
Thus far the church of Kelemvor has no affiliated military or knightly orders. All gravediggers, embalmers, and other cemetery workers and crafters who work for the church of Kelemvor and are not themselves clergy belong to the Most Solemn Order of the Silent Shroud, a society whose rolls are kept by the church and whose members know each other as true members of the order by certain secret signs. They report any signs of undead activity or desecration in graveyards tended by Kelemvorites immediately to the church. The Kelemvorite church is seriously considering sponsoring a holy order of crusaders and paladins to target undead creatures of fearsome prowess who tax the resources of the clergy of the nascent church. The tentative name of this group would be the Knights of Eternal Order, but church scholars are discussing other names that would be more indicative of the order’s duties.
Clerics of Kelemvor usually wear smoky gray robes and cowled cloaks. Specialty priests can readily be identified by their silver headbands, which are normally never removed, and by the symbol of Kelemvor displayed prominently in a badge on the chests of their somber, elegant robes. Their robes are always of a single hue without trim or ostentation and of dark, muted hues of green, blue, or gray, in ascending order of rank; they can be worn over armor if need be. The scales in the badge of Kelemvor worn by a priest also denote rank: They are iron-colored for lower clergy, silver for full priests, and gold for higher-ranking priests.
Adventuring Garb: Adventuring clergy members are often given enchanted gray domino masks entrusted to their use by the church that enable them to detect undead (as the lst-level wizard spell) and see with infravision up to 60 feet in darkness. Adventuring priests dress functionally, wearing whatever armor and clothing is practical. They are required to display the symbol of their deity prominently. Often it is worn on the left breast over the heart or is woven into a cloak.
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