Worshiping a Dead Goddess – Idiot Wizard of the Internet

Worshiping a Dead Goddess


My go to move when making a character for any TTRPG is to make the Zealot of a Small Order. A lot of the time for me this takes the form of a Lawful Neutral dwarf cleric who is utterly devoted to one very specific reading of one very particular facet of one domain a given major deity.1 It’s so fun and easy to come up with a character concept that has an interesting perspective by taking that reading to its logical conclusion at a Heroic 112 I like that Zealots of Small Orders tend to be earnest weirdos who seldom fit in. I love the idea of dedicating your life to an aberrant perspective on minutae.

In exploring these concepts I have somtimes dreamed up a few fun and/or interesting Small Orders on which to base my zealots, and the two which I write about today are reflections of each other. They are what happens when the god of practicality is killed in cold blood, and what mortal apostles do after outliving the god they expected to outlive ten more generations.

A Bit of Context

This story takes place after Lathander’s insurgent attempt to acquire supreme divine power by remaking the pantheon in his own image, an event now known as the Dawn Cataclysm. It’s hard to place divine events on mortal timelines accurately due to the immense and awesome scale alone, though it’s thought that it was about -255 DR when the goddess of the depths, Umberlee, sprung upon Murdane, Helm’s lover, and dragged her to the bottom of the sea in her briny emrace. It’s commonly said that Helm holds an iron cold grudge against Lathander to this very day for instigating the events that caused the god of guardians to lose what he cherished most. What’s not as commonly known is how this attitude is tempered by Lathander’s own loss in Tyche.

What is much less known is where Helm’s attitude towards Lathander is cold, towards Umberlee it’s a burning impotent rage. Picture in your mind the god Helm, covered as he is from head to toe in plate armor, his steel helm drawn tightly over his face standing just below the knee in lake water. See how he must stop in that place, how he cannot extend his protection further becaus the waves will win this fight every single time. It’s no contest. And so Helm does’t fight. This is the reason no matter how far you’ve sailed, you will always feel a moment of uneasiness stepping onto water and you leave Helm’s protection, giving yourself to the mercy of Umberlee. This is the bodily feeling of having the divine grace of a god stripped away from you.

Murdane’s Vigil Anchorites

Having lost the tempering effect of Murdane’s pragmatic presence, some Helmites decided to devote themselves to lifelong vigils in her memory. With a slightly emboldened flair for the dramatic, these adherents of Helm have decided to brick themselves into lighthouses that dot the rocky and windswept shores of the Sword Coast. They serve as lighthouse keepers and serve as clergy for the locals. They often become respected religious authors and philosophers within their community. A stereotypal anchorite is a seventh child of noble upbringing with a religious bent or bookish streak and a preference for independence, seclusion, and indoor life. Often times a wealthy family that supports the anchorite will lavish the lighthouse with amenities to make their family member more comfortable throughout their stay. Longstanding aristocratic families may have an heirloom tower, decorated with religious iconography.3

Due to the frequent overlap of noble heritage, privacy, location at points of interest, and frequent transmission of written messages; Anchorites of Murdane’s Vigil tend to be favored recruitment targets for spies and other clandestine operatives. They can often be swayed to the interestes of some ruling power or another by trying to be helpful to their family’s ambitions in some way. It’s uncommon but common enough to note that sometimes at the onset of political intrigue, there will be a rash of anchorite escapes that occeasionally become political prisoners. Somtimes you need to escape having covertly sided with the losing side of a war and the enemy knowing your precise location. Sometimes you just make a dumb decision when you’re young.

Celebrants of the Drowned Goddess

The sudden loss of their god sent the disciples of Murdane into a shock and mourning, a tumultuous period which saw as many as 5% of members break their vows and leave their respective orders.But the apostles of the goddess of pragmatism will not let a minor thing like the death of their god sway them from their task.

The Anchorites, with their wealth and bombast, made a very public show of with the establishment of their order. By the time the disciples of Murdane emerged from their grief, a whole separate religious order had publicly claimed their grief. Feeling snubbed by their nearest deific patron, they began their pragmatic work. In their homespun gear, they began scouring the wilderness for places where one could drown and correcting it. When you see a sturdy log tipped to cross your local creek, thank the Celebrants. When you see stacks of large bouyant fruits near the lakeside, thank the Celebrants. You may still find them, taking on their solo adventures as traveling tinkers without packs.

Often they will be contracted to provide consultation during large bridge construction projects. Celebrants near riverside cities often live much more lavish lives than their rural comrades.

  1. Like the psychopomp purging the plumbing clogs of undeath from the river of souls. ↩︎

  2. 12 ↩︎

  3. It might be cool to have this be the pride of the city or town, but the family may have a dark history. Who knows? This is all for you to run with. ↩︎

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