Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Black Age of Bane - Initial Thoughts

Introduction & Background

The introduction for the Dungeon sidetrek Hidden Destinies says:

The church of Bane has spies in many places across Faerûn (and  elsewhere on Toril), and the clergy of Amaunator is no exception.  Verped, a Banite residing at Fort Morninglord, intercepted the original  message, and has come to a startling conclusion: The boy, Caom, is not  some unfortunate innocent caught up in unknown powers. Verped believes  him to be the subject of a long-forgotten prophecy. The boy will grow  into the greatest tyrant of this or any age, eclipsing even the Chosen  Imperator Fzoul Chembryl and heralding the Black Age of Bane.

I've been thinking about this for a while now but let me backtrack a bit first.

One of my favourite themes for the backstories of the campaigns I run is that of heresy. I find the idea of heretical movements within ostensibly Good and Lawful Good religions to be fuel for a range of NPCs, events, encounters, adventures and campaigns. 

There was an excellent DDi article written by Erik Scott de Bie in Dungeon 171 titled The Eye of Justice. It was about a heretical sect in the church of Torm based in Westgate.  

The church of Torm is the state religion in the nation of Elturgard which is distinguished by the existence of a second son, known as The Companion, created as a Epic spell (3.5e) or Epic ritual (4E) by a pre-Spellplague heretic known as Daelegoth Orndeir. Orndeir was a follower of Amaunator at a time when believing in Amaunator was a heresy within the church of Lathander. Furthermore, he was a believer in the Three-Faced Sun heresy which postulated that there were three aspects to the sun deity - dawn, highsun and dusk - and that only two could be "showing" at any one time. According to Orndeir and his then-fellow heretics, Lathander represented the dawn, Amaunator, highsun and Myrkul, dusk. Myrkul's demise meant that Amaunator should be ascendant at the same time as Lathander.

We do not know canonically how this situation was resolved before or during the Spellplague but we do know that Amaunator is definitely ascendant, as a greater power, no less, in the 4E Realms. One of the things I liked about Amaunator even during the 2E period was here was a Lawful Good deity who could just as easily be Lawful Evil (3.5E and earlier) or Evil (4E). In fact, I see Amaunator as a challenger of Bane for the portfolio of tyranny.

So, back to Torm as the state religion of Elturgard. 

It seems strange when you first read the 4E Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (FRCG) that the state religion of Elturgard, with such a powerful and obvious display of Amaunator's might by way of The Companion, should be that of Torm. Unless, of course, you also look at how it talks about a darkness sealed within Fort Morninglord (which is also off-limits on pain of death) and consider that Amaunator has a tyrannical streak within him... as do, no doubt, some of his followers.

So, what if Orndeir's heresies extended into outright apostasy and he came to embrace Bane? Perhaps he also saw Bane as the true heir of the mantle of dusk from Myrkul. If he believed that, then it would be very easy for Bane to lure him over to his side as a natural outgrowth of his believe in the (heresy of) The Three-Faced Sun.

So, let's assume that Elturgard's first state religion was Amaunatori in nature, with Daelegoth Orndeir as Righteous Potentate (as high priests of Amaunator were styled). In due course, Orndeir took to himself a more majestic title of Supreme Righteous Potentate as he sought, driven in part by the whispers of Bane, to extend his golden rule of light and law across all of Faerûn.

In due course, sometime during the years of the Spellplague, the tyrannies of the Supreme Righteous Potentate were opposed by heroic followers of Torm and, eventually, Orndeir was overthrown. So ashamed were other Amaunatori of this episode in the history of their religion, particularly at a time when Amaunator  was making an obvious return, that they agreed to pass rulership of Elturgard to the Tormites and to hide the records of this era, and an imprisoned Orndeir, beneath Fort Morninglord.

Fast forward a few decades and the church of Torm is very much in charge but, like the Amaunatori before them, are becoming increasingly strident, harsh, cruel and tyrannical. Add to this the heresies of The Eye of Justice mentioned above and you can see that Elturgard is being taken over by the whispers of Bane once more except this time it is the Tormites who are being persuaded by his subtleties.

With all of that as background, what if Orndeir foretold the Black Age of Bane as a time when the Black Lord accepted the mantle of dusk from the fallen Myrkul and which would be heralded by The Companion being changed from an eternal sun to an orb of darkness spreading night across the lands that it previously lit.

Thus, the campaign is about the Banites and the heretical Tormites and Amaunatori attempting to find a way to transform The Companion from a thing of light into darkness and, when this happens, a resurgent church of Bane unleashes its armies across Faerûn.  The first part of the campaign leads up to this key event - the darkening of The Companion - and the second part becomes about reversing this process.



  1. Thanks, I think you've solved the big problem I had with Elturgard! It appeared to make no sense, but having Tormites overthrow tyrannical Amaunatori solves it! :D

    1. You're welcome and thanks for the comment. I've posted some similar thoughts over at the WotC forums but I think that was about three years ago. The 2E product, Bastion of Faith, with its secret heresy was also an inspiration.

  2. I am so glad to have found this! In 5e there is next to nothing about the history of Elturgard and I foolishly set my campaign smack in the middle of it without any idea how to make Elturel work politically and religiously. Not only have you solved that problem, but I think you've given me the central tension of my campaign as well! The Companion going dark! that's fantastic!