Tales of Tolgard
The Time of Troubles, also known as the Arrival, the Godswar and the Avatar Crisis, was a cataclysmic time for many deities. The Time of Troubles was a period during which deities were forced to walk the Material Plane in their mortal avatar forms. Several major deities died during the Time of Troubles and a handful of mortals rose to divinity.
The Time of Troubles was precipitated by an attempt by the gods Bane and Myrkul to steal the Tablets of Fate from the overdeity Ao. Angry at the gods for their habitual pursuit of power and negligence toward their mortal faithful, Lord Ao relegated every god (except for the guardian god Helm, selected to protect the gates to the heavens) to walk among their followers on a crystal sphere. The immediate effects of this edict were threefold. First, divine magic (spells granted to clerics by their patron deities) ceased to function altogether unless the cleric was within one mile of their deity’s avatar. Second, arcane magic (a force channeled from The Weave by wizards and sorcerers) ceased to be regulated by its steward, Mystra and became dangerously unpredictable. Third, the characteristically immortal and aloof deities were now vulnerable (though devastatingly powerful) and dwelling among the civilizations of their followers.
The Time of Troubles was a time of significant turnover among the gods. Several deities were “destroyed” during this period. The following are deities who were killed or incapacitated during the Time of Troubles:
- Bane, greater god of tyranny, strife and hatred, a member of the Dead Three, was slain in a climactic battle with the demigod Torm.
- Bhaal, intermediate god of murder, was slain by the young mortal Cyric with the sword Godsbane.
- Ibrandul, a lesser god of caverns, was destroyed by Shar, who still masquerades as the dead deity. The absorption of caverns and the Underdark into Shar’s portfolio has attracted the wrath of Lolth who desires dominion over these realms.
- Leira, lesser goddess of deception and illusion, was slain by Cyric.
- Moander, demigod of decay, was slain by Finder Wyvernspur.
- Myrkul, greater god of the dead and another of the Dead Three, was killed in a duel with Midnight, a mortal woman wielding the powers of Mystra.
- Mystra, greater goddess of magic and among the most powerful of the gods, was in turn destroyed when she attempted to bypass Helm at the Celestial Staircase.
- Torm, demigod and patron deity of paladins, was annihilated by Bane with his dying breath. He was later resurrected by Ao because he died fulfilling the obligations of his portfolio.
- Waukeen, lesser goddess of wealth, attempted to reclaim her divinity during the Time of Troubles, but was imprisoned in the Argent Palace, enslaved to the demon prince Graz’zt. It would be more than 10 years before she would finally be freed by adventurers in effect revitalizing her clergy.
However, death is anything but permanent when deities are involved, and many of them have in some way circumvented their own destruction:
- After Bane’s death, his portfolio was divided among the newly anointed god Cyric and Bane’s own half-demonic son Iyachtu Xvim. Upon the death of one of the greatest forces of evil in existence, all of the Material Plane breathed a sigh of relief; however, not long later, Bane was resurrected, destroying Iyachtu Xvim and reestablishing his church.
- Bhaal had already foreseen his own demise and had populated the world with scores of his own progeny in past years, all as part of a grand scheme for his own reincarnation.
- Myrkul infused the sinister artifact the Crown of Horns with the remnants of his essence, and teleported it away. While its location is unknown, the semi-sentient artifact is presumably fomenting a plan for Myrkul’s resurrection.
- Though Ao had decreed that none of the gods fallen during the Time of Troubles should be reinstated, a complex convergence of factors regarding Torm’s death led the overgod to make a single exception in his case, resurrecting him and elevating him to the status of lesser god.
- After a decade of isolation from her followers, Waukeen was freed from her prison by a band of adventurers, and has resumed her place in the heavens.
Furthermore, a selection of mortals were chosen by Lord Ao to ascend to the heavens to fill the void left by those deities who died:
- Cyric, a petty, sadistic mercenary, slew Bhaal with the sword Godsbane (actually the god Mask in disguise). After the end of the Time of Troubles, he was granted control of nearly all the portfolios of the Dead Three by Ao, making him briefly the most powerful of the gods.
- Kelemvor, a sullen adventurer and companion of Cyric and Mystra, was killed by Cyric with Godsbane, but his soul was hidden by Mask and unintentionally gained the portfolio of death by defeating Cyric with the help of Godsbane (Mask in the form of a sword), ten years after the Time of Troubles. He has since striven to change the horrifying image of death promoted by his predecessors.
- After her death, the goddess Mystra entrusted her essence with the young mage Midnight, who ascended after the Time of Troubles as the new Mystra.
- The exceptional adventurer Finder Wyvernspur absorbed and adapted Moander’s portfolio, and is now the patron of the circle of life.
Dead-magic zones, areas where magic ceases to function, are a lasting effect of the Time of Troubles on many crystal spheres.