Enormous thanks must be given to the RPG.net poster “Wields-Rulebook-Heavily” for creating this truly impressive mythos.
Used with implied permission.
“You know what the best kind of flattery is? Finding bits of my stuff being yoinked for people’s campaigns all over Obsidian Portal.”
Originally Posted by Player’s Handbook
The god of change, Avandra
delights in freedom, trade,
travel, adventure, and the
frontier. Her temples are
few in civilized lands,
but her wayside shrines
appear throughout the world. Halflings, merchants,
and all types of adventurers are drawn to her worship,
and many people raise a glass in her honor, viewing
her as the god of luck. Her commandments are few:
✦ Luck favors the bold. Take your fate into your own
hands, and Avandra smiles upon you.
✦ Strike back against those who would rob you of
your freedom and urge others to fight for their own
✦ Change is inevitable, but it takes the work of the
faithful to ensure that change is for the better.
A generic “pick me if you can’t think of anything else” goddess? I think not!
An Avandran will fight to the death for the right of a demonic cultist to speak his mind. They will bleed for their worst enemies, build podiums for Erathian order-spewers, allot followers of hateful fate and banal prophecy equal time to theirs and fight tooth and nail against anyone who would oppress and enslave. Freedom is not free to claim, but must be practiced. Most people want security, but an Avandran will settle for nothing less than full liberty, even if you don‘t want it. But take care, because an Avandran does not give the right of freedom to those who would take away your weapons, voice or free will.
An Avandran lives in and for the moment; the moment of action, where you are forged by your choices. The moment of doubt, which can kill you on the spot. The moment of epiphany, when the world seems to fill you with its wonder and gives you purpose. The moment of insight, when you see clearly into another‘s heart. Indecision is not an Avandran trait. An Avandran might meditate on her purpose for a week but instantly drop her line of thought when confronted with need, and think it a most fruitful experience. Believe almost fanatically in something now, but don‘t fear innovation just because it‘s inconsistent with what you believe now. Liberty lives in the moment, the place where choices are made; it is important above all that you are free to choose when this moment comes.
Let the gambler pray to Avandra for luck, the adventurer for favor, the bold for the day to be seized and the trader for a great bargain. Avandra will fight for all of you, and enable you to fight for yourselves.
Avandra walks Creation
It is said that when Avandra first walked the world, no other god had ever before walked it without explicit purpose. She explored it all, delighting in the sights and leaving a trail of chaotic change behind her. She only looked back when she had reached the highest mountaintop in the world, and was horrified to see what her change had wrought. In her wake was left enslavement and misery, the worst attributes of freedom lost. Other gods had come, and imposed their own rules on those of creation, causing more conflict and strife as the mortals chafed under alien concepts, no matter how well intentioned. Feeling remourseful, she stole away all mortal creatures in the night and granted them a portion of her own divinity to help make her changes for the better. The day after, a great furor rose among the gods as mortals had found the will to resist even them and their power, elevating mere mortal creatures to be near equals to the gods. In their anger, they consulted Ioun as to who was responsible, and she led them all to Avandra who calmly waited them on top of the highest mountain.
“Why have you done this thing?”, asked the Gods. “Because all deserves freedom, or none of us do”, said Avandra. Though some did not immediately see the wisdom in this, most did, and were shamed. “I have given them all freedom to choose”, said Avandra, “and so in will they are our equals, and must be treated as such even if they‘re not as powerful as we.” She laid down the guidelines for equitable exchange, where faithful mortals could choose to accept any God‘s word as truth, but must in turn be granted wisdom and freedom to impose the Gods‘ commandments as they saw fit. Thus was born the seed of freedom in all things, and the rules of investment by which Gods could extend their power to mortals and awaken their divinity, forming the first Invokers. Ever since that time, Avandra has strived against the chains her foolish actions helped create.
What does freedom imply for the individual? Is it the power of self-reliance and determination or the power of objection against authority? Every member must face the questions of freedom and find their own answers, but the core of the faith holds that every sapient being has the right to certain inalienable freedoms, such as the right to speak freely.
But the essential philosophy of freedom runs deeper than this. There is no point at which you are completely and truly free of all things. Most people are always slaves to desires, and must moderate them, though some Avandrans will spend years trying to eliminate theirs. Death is an essential limiter to your ability to freely affect the world, though it should not be feared if your cause is just. An Avandran must reconcile truths like these with the understanding that the world must simply be allowed to take care of itself. Change is inevitable, and you must both do your part to make change be for the better and accept the world for what it is. Many Avandran faithful are content with walking the middle path between these conflicting ideas, but the divinely empowered servants of the goddess must have the fire to strive and blaze with passion for their ideals, knowing that there is no one who better champions your own cause than yourself.
An Avandran must realize that they are like gods in miniature, given the power to understand and command their own minds, their surroundings and even divine power. It does not suit a god to fear, but to act. They recognize this amazing potential, and give thanks to Avandra, the one goddess who would not mould you for herself.
Avandra gives particular favor to those who strive against worse odds than others, such as the poor and the small-statured halflings, and is said to offer her power and faith as a form of apology to the results of some her more unwise changes, such as the Changelings who strive against their lack of concrete identity.
There‘s something to be said for Avandran faithful; you always know where the trouble is when they‘re around. Avandra is not a passive law-abiding deity, and her followers tend to be a rough mix of idealists, students, apprentices, the dispossessed and even the criminal. Avandran faithful protest paying taxes to an unjust government, or even reject the concept of legal tender altogether. Most of them consider imprisonment to be folly, a foolish way to punish when they could be led to redeem. Indeed, the extremes of Avandran faithful-such as the clergy- are infamous for taking no prisoners, considering death to be a greater mercy than bondage in any form. Avandrans will happily protest any time they can, and though they‘re most often peaceful in their protests if their governing body allows them to be they can and will turn violent seemingly at the sound of a flipped coin.
Some of the most holy Avandran holidays are devoted to protesting by way of fasting, marching, shouting and revelry. Some cities have formalized the proceedings, with officials turning up at the marches to listen to the concerns of the public. In other places, they turn violent every single year as the Avandrans march through the most inflammatory neighbourhoods and make the most outrageous claims, sometimes requiring outside intervention to resolve the issues.
Roles within the church of Avandra are not about passivity, but action. They are not set in stone, but as ever stereotypes will emerge.
Many clerics subscribe to the idea of the objector; that one‘s duty to society and oneself is concerned first with protest against authority. Every sapient being is responsible for its own representation, and if it perceives something as injust it is its duty to rise up. Sometimes they need a nudge to get going, or a hand to help against authority‘s brutal military enforcement, but an Avandran cleric fears neither. Just how far these clerics go is left to interpretation. A vast majority of them consider violent rebellion the most efficient tool for change, while a very few consider full pacifism the best way to bring about good while minimizing evil. The latter are radical at best, but greatly respected when their ideas succeed.
Should you wish to earn your liberty, you must be willing to forego your security.
A Paladin is a protector of the faith, and for Avandra that means a protector of liberty. Their protection doesn‘t end at mere physical protection, however. Paladins are as likely to band up to protect your protest from aggression as they are to be honored speakers at your rally. Paladins defend your rights, wether they are your right to a weapon for self-defence to the right to speak your mind, regardless of wether local authorities would protest otherwise. They make for exceptional adventurers, championing the cause of good in one moment and having a nice drink and gamble afterwards with comrades in arms.
If you wish to be free, the only way is to guarantee freedom for all. No one is free when another is not.
Avandran avengers are those who most rely on the moment in their work, and they embody the ideal of equal exchange. They sacrifice of their time and freedom to insure others‘ success, but they enter such a bargain with their eyes open. They have an unfair reputation for targeting political rivals, because Avandrans wouldn‘t dream of limiting even an enemy‘s rights, but a political rival to an Avandran isn‘t too unlikely to be evil in some way, and those who inflict evil on others forfeit their rights to good. Avengers are happy with being unpopular as long as they are in the right, a fair enough bargain. Avengers of Avandra also have an unusal reputation for being tough but fair in trade, pursuing their interests with near divine fervor.
Sacrifice your life to win back freedom by force; Sacrifice your freedom and it is lost forever.
Invokers are lucky. That‘s certainly the most concise description for an invoker of Avandra. Her presence brings about good fortune for her comrades, and the unprobable becomes likely when she wills it. Invokers of Avandra are an odd lot, ranging from the seemingly unconcerned fools who thrive on their luck to the deeply contemplative mystics whose understanding transcends mortal comprehension alone- or at least seemingly so. Invokers are lucky, but they are not subtle. They firmly believe that they are meant to direct change from the root, often mirroring Avandra‘s exploits in the mortal world from ancient times, and sometimes that means summoning hordes of angels to sort it out.
If you want others to be free, free yourself.
Adventurers are the most holy representatives of Avandra. Those who would go forth and seize their dreams, relying as much on luck as any kind of plan and wandering free from authority are close to the perfect ideal of Avandran idealism. Avandran clerics will freely aid adventurers (or at least ask for a very modest price), showing disregard for the adventurer‘s faith, ideology or even criminality. Certainly, they‘ll favor those who rebel against unjust authority and who strive for good, but rogues of all kinds can find assistance if they can find the clergy. Avandran temples are shared with other deities more often than not, and actual temples dedicated solely to her are rare, at their most common along frontiers or where authority hasn‘t asserted itself. It‘s more common to find her clergy on the road, maintaining wayshrines and assisting those who fight to keep the roads free. The perfect member of the clergy would be an adventurer herself, striving for Avandran ideal in thought and deed through sheer self-determination. And when that won‘t do, flip a coin.
Where there is civil strife, there is Avandra. Erathian clergy aren‘t adverse to internicine wars, but the Avandran ideal of revolution is antithetical to the hierarchy of order. A great many Avandrans maintain that the best government is the least government, and will seize any spark of discontent and fan its flames to break down established authority. There is a kind of grudging acceptance between the two faiths; one seeks to become ever greater through iteration of law and civilization, the other strives for individual effort and self-reliance, but each one strengthens nations in their own way. The vast majority of conflicts between the two are limited to bar fights and catcalls.
However, there do come along great revolutionaries, those who can through force of will topple cities and nations and break ancient order forever. These great Avandran leaders (never called prophets!) are dangerous to Erathis‘ ideals, and each church has in the past laid aside all other concerns to focus on one another. These are tumultuous times, full of uncertainty and chaos and rife with cults which thrive in the giants‘ shadows. With civilization split into distant points in a dark land, a time where such heroes walk the lands, each city must take exceptional care.
Avandra helps her faithful in subtle ways for the most part. There are many tales of her wilder days in the world‘s youth, when her rebellious passion sought release, and her generosity overflowed all too often with dire unintended consequences. The goddess of luck learned that misfortune tends to follow favor, a balancing of the scales. Changelings are at least partly her creation, and the fortunes of entire planes have shifted on her will. In more recent times she takes a more moderate approach, attempting as best she can to arrive at a favorable exchange for everyone involved.
But she does not teach others to curb their passions. Her own experience has taught her best of all, and she encourages her servants to learn and relearn every painful lesson over again. Within each mortal lies the potential to change the world, and she‘s learned well enough that they hardly need great displays of power to assist them. Boldness inspires Avandra just as she inspires it in turn, and her knowing smile grants luck to the brave.
The heresies of selfishness
There are many philosophies of freedom, but only a few of those reach the status of outright heresy, and most of them fall under the same category of heresy; that of making your importance greater than everyone else‘s. Wether it‘s phrased in terms of doing as you will or in absolutes of how worthy you are compared to others, the heresy is one of selfishness. Although the Avnadran faith likes to paint all heretics with the same brush, the truth is that they‘re just as divided as Avandrans generally are.
Vandrians; The heresy of of total self-relience
“Be complete within yourself”, says the heretic, “and you will never need others”. It all begins innocently enough, but listen further and your soul may be chilled. “Others will try to weaken you, but give them no charity for it weakens you both.” Again, not an unfamiliar concept to an Avandran; It‘s better to teach a man to fish than give him a fish. “Most people are weak, and deserve only to be led by the great; your duty lies only with the great” is where the Avandran faithful will stop listening unless they intend to cause pshycial harm to something. Total Self-Reliance, sometimes called “Vandrian philosophy” for missing the most important point, teaches that freedom is earned, not given, and that to earn it you must prove yourself greater than everyone else. It‘s an Avandran offshoot that actively seeks and reinforces an establishment of hierarchy of merit. Many people will shrug and wonder why the proposed meritocracy of the Vandrians is a problem, but that is why the Avandran faithful are rare folk. The philosophy goes still further to venerate great individuals, no matter what they‘ve accomplished to become great, including everyone from excellent artists to infamous serial murderers. They prostrate themselves before idols of worldly success and call it “freedom”. Avandra is pained by them, even as she does not turn away from them, and that is the final insult. Worse still is that the other faiths will sometimes prefer this cult above the regular church on the premise that they‘re better neighbours, and so usurp the regular faithful.
The heresies of the Chained King That Crawls and the Demon Prince of the Undead
Among the faithful of Torog the evil, the slaver, the ugly, the imprisoned, there are many who proudly wear defiled symbols of other faiths. Most prized above all are those who have willingly given their worship of freedom to become enslaved to Torog. If all life is bound to certain needs from which one can never be free, one‘s only freedom becomes a choice of how to be chained. Torog is always busy and takes no particular notice beyond a small measure of somewhat petty satisfaction, and the former Avandrans don‘t strive against Avandra in particular, but one of the Avandran faithful who strides the Underdark to face the lord of Slavers and meets with the strange creatures and other followers of Torog may find her faith deeply shaken as dozens of willingly malformed holy symbols of former Avandrans adorn those holy to Torog. Torog in particular attracts Avandran Avengers, who may come to see their enslavement to Torog as the ultimate personal sacrifice to help maintain the world‘s balance.
Worse still is Orcus, who offers Avandrans an easy way out from all physical desire. Be enslaved to his will, and he will end their hunger, cease their thirst and murder all their physical lusts. Those driven to desperation in their war against their own bodies may willingly give up the one most valuable thing they have for the illusion of freedom from life, when the truth is simply the chains of death.
Demons; The heresy of pain
They are called demons, for who else could derive pleasure from inflicting pain on the unwilling? But to them who willingly accept this moniker, this is backwards; Why should the promise of pain to others limit your own freedom to express yourself? In the heart of the Demonic faith lies the premise that the ones in opposition are the ones who are most truly free, and there is no greater opposition than that of the Abyss. They claim the enemies of the Gods and the Primordials as figures to be revered as the original rebels. They forego all worship of Avandra and all other gods, naming them hypocrites, and in particular they revile Avandra for ever siding with Torog the enslaver. And that the demons are chained to their imprisonment is never an issue; to them they are unjust chains made by tyrants. Do as you will is their only law, and the most holy act of the Demonic heresy is indeed to free a demon to let it do as it will. Even a hint of suspicion of one of these cults will inspire righteous wrath among the Avandrans, a rare thing indeed. They will not actively work against the Demons in any way unless they prove themselves a danger, so Demonic cults can thrive in the same place as a temple of Avandra, albeit grudgingly, and Demons will sometimes aid Avandrans who quest to do battle with Torog, he who enslaves the prisoners of the gods themselves, possibly in a bid to free the enemies the gods could not slay. An Avandran is faced with difficult choices when faced with such a dilemma, but they‘re choices which Avandra trusts the mortal to make.