Lord of All Glyphs and Images, the Scribe of Oghma
Symbol: A single candle set above a staring purple human eye with a triangular pupil, or a single lit candle
Home Plane: House of Knowledge
Alignment: Neutral Good
Portfolio: Glyphs, images, literature, literacy, scribes, pictorial and literary art, cartography
Worshipers: Historinas, loremasters, sages, scholars, scribes, seekers of enlightenment, students
Cleric Alignments: CG, LG, NG
Favored Weapon: A whilring glyph (dagger)
Allies: Oghma, Azuth, Milil, Mystra, Lliira, Lathander
Enemies: Cyric, Bane, Malar, Talos, Mask
Deneir (Deh-NEER) is the patron of the artist, the illuminator, the scribe, and the cartographer. His is the power to accurately render and describe, to write and to read, and to pass on information. He counts as his foes all who destroy, hide, or distort knowledge. He works for Oghma making sure that all that is known and true is accurately recorded in the Great Library. He is portrayed in religious art as a balding old sage with a huge, flared beard whose eyes are in some way peculiar: sometimes they are a vibrant violet with triangular pupils, at other times they are a brilliant ice blue, and at yet others they are blazing orbs of blue fire. He is always shown holding a quill pen and carrying or writing in or on a book, scroll, or parchment.
Deneir is caught up in the recording, filing, indexing and maintaining of all that was ever written or depicted. He can appear very absent-minded, and often trails off in midsentence because his mind is racing along other trails of thought even as he speaks. For all his acquaintance with book knowledge, he can be out of touch with the world as it is now—in particular, human customs in practice: He tends to use mannerisms of speech and hold to points of etiquette that disappeared long ago from Faerun—or he may (unintentionally humorously) mix his slang terms or try to sound in vogue and actually sound profoundly dated. When he gets going on a story, he can eat up immense amounts of his listeners’ time as he diverges seemingly endlessly in parenthetical substories. For all their length, his tales always convey some vital piece of knowledge to those who wait them out.
Priests of Deneir are found throughout Faerun, as are shrines and temples in Deneir’s name. Most of the temples of Deneir could best be described as libraries with attached sanctuaries and living quarters, for the preservation of written knowledge is the focus of Deneir’s faith.
Clergy members are known as Deneirrath. Clerics and monks are welcome, but even if they attain high levels, they are not usually awarded the leadership of temples. Monks may be promoted to the head of an abbey or monastery; however, they are always attached to a temple and rank beneath its high priest. As a result, there is some grumbling among non-specialty clergy members of the faith, and many turn to adventuring to give them advancement in other areas.
Though females are as welcome as males in the Deneirrath hierarchy, the title “Priest” is used regardless of the gender of its holder. (The word “priestess” is something for other faiths.) The color of the cloaks priests of Deneir wear denotes their ranks, which are (in ascending order): Applicant, Underpriest, Aspirant Priest, Full Priest, Priest Illuminator, Priest Calligrapher, Priest Editor, Priest Secretary, Priest Librarian, Aspirant Scrivener, Full Scrivener, and High Scrivener (the leader of a temple). The only higher ranks than these are granted personally by Deneir and consist of Writer Inquisitor (used by the most powerful and accomplished traveling adventurers of the faith), Librarian, and High Librarian.
Followers of Deneir believe that information that is not recorded and saved to be used later is information that is lost. Anyone who defaces or destroys a book should be punished in proportion to the value of the information lost unless she or he makes full replacement of it. Deneirrath must write everything down and let copying what is written fill every otherwise idle hour. They are to bring copies of every writing they gather to every temple of Deneir they arrive in (or make the copies there) so that knowledge may spread and nothing be lost.
Information should be free to all and all should be able to read it, so that lying tongues cannot distort things all out of proportion. Deneirrath are to write down all that people say, believe, and observe, leaving others to judge what is true, of value, and proper—for that which is not written is lost, and there must be room for all tastes, all tongues, and all expression. Information that does not harm should be made free to all.
Literacy is an important gift of Deneir and should be spread and taught. Deneirrath must learn to read and write and teach at least 10 mortals who do not venerate Deneir to do so also, so that such learning spreads. Followers of Deneir have taken an oath of charity as well, such that they cannot turn down the request of another to write letters and transcribe information. If the one making the request is needy, they can take no payment for doing such duties, though they may charge those who can afford such services a fair rate. Deneirrath are to keep secrets they are exposed to in their charitable duties when bound to by oath or by their moral code.
The primary task of priests of Deneir is to gather and write down—or copy out if it is already written—knowledge and creative things (fiction, poems, song lyrics, witticisms, and diaries) so that nothing written is lost. Some priests never leave the copying cloisters of large temples, while others wander among cottages and hill farms copying out old half-remembered ballads that they can pay some toothless gray-hair to try to sing. Still others operate wealthy lending libraries in the bustling cities of Sembia or ride into danger all over Faerun breaking into old tombs and delving into ruins in search of lost and forgotten writings before such things crumble away forever. These are the sort of deeds that have earned Deneir his nickname “Scribe of Oghma.”
Many common folk through the Realms, however, see Deneirrath as the scribes of the people because they take a special vow of charity upon becoming priests: to write letters and transcribe information for anyone who asks them to as long they do not have to copy out anything magical (mainly for their own safety) or write down anything from their own knowledge that would reveal the secrets of others. (A priest of Deneir imprisoned and ordered to list all the literate people in his town or list all those for whom he’s drafted letters on matters of finance in the last decade would refuse to do so.) The poor receive such services for free, the average commoner in return for the price of the paper and inks plus a single silver piece, and wealthier petitioners pay the going rates. These rates are often as much as 4 gp a page for simple text and double that and more for fairly simple illuminated writings. Large projects must be negotiated, but in slow times, priests of Deneir can be found in the local commons and bars, writing letters for those unable to do so. Real wealth can be gained, however, by a priest asked to write something in strictest confidence—for the Price of the Silent Scribe can be steep, with a third going to the priest and two-thirds to the nearest temple of Deneir.
“Strictest confidence” means that no one outside the faith ever hears or reads of what the priest has been enjoined to silence on. The rumors of secret writings being written down and kept in secret libraries kept by the Deneirrath are true. These secret libraries may be anything from secret passages in temple offices and hollow pillars in shrines to great vaults and even “forbidden towers” in the larger abbeys and monasteries. Deneirrath caches of secret writings are always guarded by spells and usually also by monsters that range from watchspiders to watchghosts. Magical writings are always kept secret from outsiders. Deneirrath never admit that their senior priests do, in fact, copy out spells and make some of the scrolls that temples have been known to sell to adventurers, nobles, and wealthy merchants.
Educating others to read and write is another important task for the clergy of Deneir for which only nominal fees are charged. The temples and abbeys of the faith, however, charge stiff fees to train nonbelievers to be skilled scribes, limners (artists), illuminators, bookbinders, and parchment-makers.
Holy Days/Important Ceremonies
The only holy day that sees special ceremonies in the church of Deneir is the Shieldmeet, wherein copies of old contracts are taken out for public viewing and any mortal may ask to see a copy of any (nonmagical) writing in any temple of Deneir to which she or he can travel. Such records and writings must be specifically requested, however (not “every contract written by Duke Teranzan”), and must not violate the vows of confidentiality of the temple. Shieldmeet is the day on which the Gilding is observed: a rite in which priests gather in a great circle around a levitated manuscript and cast special spells, each of which impresses a single golden letter onto the page, to set forth the Words of Deneir in large letters for public display in days to come. (It is the duty of junior Deneirrath to hunt down and punish thieves who tear off or scrape at letters trying to get the meager gold.)
This is not to say that Deneirrath do not observe complex rituals. They do on a daily basis. These many ceremonies include chants, sung prayers, and responsive readings as well as private, personal prayers. Certain old priests utter a prayer with every illuminated letter they commence and again when they complete it—or whenever they first make a mark upon a virgin page. Most Deneirrath pray to their deity when they undertake a major task such as copying out a noble family tree, making a map, or copying out a minstrel’s chapbook of ballads for sale in the larger, more sophisticated cities of the Realms.
Major Centers of Worship
Iron Dragon Mountain, a hidden, legendary peak in the Earthfast Mountains, is the site of the Master’s Library in Faerun, a complex of many caverns where more books than anywhere else in all the Realms—even Candlekeep, the Library of Curna in the Curna Mountains, and the great libraries of Shou Lung—are stored. Here can be found the High Librarians, who have samples of all known written tongues and can read them (even dragon writings). Sixty or so High Librarians— said to all be bearded, balding, shuffling men of great age—are said to live here. Their leader is the Librarian Supreme Haliduth Orspriir, a vigorous man who has lived some 600 years by the grace of Deneir. He can call on eight mature adult to great wyrm mist dragons who lair in various nearby peaks to defend the Library from attack. All devout Deneirrath undertake a pilgrimage to the Master’s Library at least once in their lives, but most never get beyond the Reading Room, a small fastness well to the south of the true temple, where a kindly old female Keeper (assisted and guarded by loyal watchghosts) makes use of a secret gate (usable only by nonliving matter) to send notes to the Master’s Library requesting specific texts and to receive copies of the requested writings to hand to the faithful.
The treasured collections of Silverymoon, the artifact museums of Calimshan, and Twilight Hall in Berdusk are all important regional centers of Deneir’s worship. The Edificant Library, administered jointly by the clergy of Deneir and Oghma and located in the Snowflake Mountains northwest of Carradoon, was another prominent regional temple before its destruction in the Year of the Helm (1362 DR). A magnificent cathedral to Deneir known as the Soaring Spirit has since been built on the spot by High Scrivener Cadderly and is quickly becoming the premier center of learning and worship of the Lord of Glyphs and Images in western Faerun.
Deneir, with Mystra and other powers, has influence on the mysterious group known as the Harpers, and one of Deneir’s largest churches, the Inner Chamber in Berdusk, is the front for an extensive Harper organization known as Twilight Hall. While Deneir has no militant knightly orders, his faith does number an order of scribes and several orders of monks. All temple scribes certified by the church of Deneir as skilled and trustworthy belong to the Literate Brotherhood and wear a pin or badge depicting a white quill with a gold nib. The monastic orders include the Preservers of the Ordered Way, who tend to remain cloistered and perform copying and illuminating work; the Disciples of the Free Word (known derisively as the “Pens of the Poor”), who pursue the church mission of offering scribe duties to the indigent with great vigor; and the Zealots of the Written Word (usually just called “Zealots” or Carmendines, after their founder), an adventuring order that accompanies priests of the faith on holy quests and pursues money-making efforts for the church.
Deneirrath always wear the badge of the god upon their person—if nowhere else, on a gold circlet worn about their brows. They are also never without their most important identifiers, their ubiquitous writing kits: triangular leather pouches belted to their right hips containing paper, inks, and pens. There is a saying about Deneirrath and their kits: “If a Deneirrath is naked in the bath and the ceiling above him catches fire, he will grab any books in the room first, his writing kit second, and the door third, leaving clothes behind for more modest men.”
The standard dress of priests of Deneir, both in normal daily use and for ceremony, is a tan, off-white, or white tunic with a stiff, circular collar, breeches, and a medium-length ornamental cloak of the sort known as a swirl cloak in the cities of the Sword Coast (because it covers nothing against winter winds and bad weather, but merely swirls out grandly behind the wearer). The color of the cloak denotes the rank of the cleric, from diagonally black-and-white striped for Applicants, to black for Underpriests, black with a maroon collar for Aspirant Priests, black with a gray central strip for Full Priests, gray with black trim for Priest Illuminators, all gray for Priest Calligraphers, indigo for Priest Editors, sepia for Priest Secretaries, turquoise for Priest Librarians, royal blue for Aspirant Scriveners, white with gold trim for Full Scriveners, and pure white for High Scriveners.
Adventuring Garb: Adventuring clerics of Deneir wear whatever is most suitable for their particular mission, but they always wear both their writing kits and badges bearing the symbol of Deneir somewhere on their persons.
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