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The Church of Shar was the organization dedicated to spreading the dogma and carrying out the wishes of the deity Shar. Although the estimated one hundred thousand worshippers of Shar can loosely be deemed members, its true membership consisted of the clergy of the church, who numbered around 3,500. The faith was forbidden in many areas of Faerûn which led to the church going underground, practicing in hiding much of the time. An element of fear was associated with the worship of Shar since many of her followers were willing to give their lives in her service.[1]

DogmaEdit

The intent of the Church of Shar was to spread the faith across Toril. This was achieved by undermining and corrupting individuals, governments and even other religions, causing them to be more likely to accept the views and dogma of Shar.[1] Because the most valuable commodity to the clergy of Shar was their secrecy, information was closely guarded and only revealed when it was absolutely essential. The clergy of Shar expected that secrets were traded for similarly confidential information.[3]

AttitudeEdit

The atmosphere of the organization was one of unwavering faith to its leader, Shar herself. Disobeying an order usually resulted in death. Although devotees were perfectly willing to give their life for Shar, she did not want to deplete the number of her dedicated followers.[3]

ActivitiesEdit

The clergy of the Church of Shar used corruption and subversion to spread Shar's faith, but were forced to do so in secret due to the prevalent banning of Shar's worship. [3] They traveled in small groups or individually throughout Faerûn, often disguised as merchants or pilgrims to avoid detection. Their missions usually involve either espionage or outright murder.[2]

Seemingly without pattern, Shar requested that her priests killed a certain people, usually a sorcerer or wizard who she deemed to have misused the Shadow Weave, while other times she forbade such acts against specific individuals. It is not uncommon for the church to make use of the Shadow Weave itself, although Shar holds onto the deepest and most powerful secrets of the magical force.[3]

By revealing secrets, Sharran clergy will attempt to incite bitterness and jealously within individual, such as telling a woman that her husband is having an affair. These emotions are strongly embraced by Shar and highly increase the likeliness of a successful conversion.[3]

OrganizationEdit

InitiationEdit

In order to become clergy within the church's organization, one underwent tests of faith and commitment which would be likely to vile any good-aligned being. Potential recruits incapable of murder were not admitted, and would likely be killed. After a few months of displaying their willingness to join, new recruits have likely committed many murders.[1]

In order to become a worshiper of Shar, the tests were less strenuous, but nonetheless involve performing acts that would be considered deplorable by kindhearted individuals.Any betrayal of the faith resulted in the swift death of the formerly-faithful.[1]

HierarchyEdit

Priest-Shar

A cleric of Shar wearing purple and black robes.

The church was split into individual cells that operated independently from one another, with a temple or shrine of Shar as their focal point. Cells were linked under the leadership of a priest, who controlled a number of cells in a geographic area. Priests regularly communicated with one another, but rarely revealed truthful information to their inferiors.[3]

FactionsEdit

One faction of the Church of Shar was dedicated to eliminating any knowledge of the shadow weave that did not originate from the church itself. They believed that anyone outside the church with such knowledge was a threat to their security. They have been known to recruit adventurers for the purposes of eliminating the individuals in possession of such knowledge.[3]

OrdersEdit

Dark Justiciars
The Dark Justiciars were an honorary order or secret society within the priesthood of Shar. It was rumored that in order to gain admittance to the order of the Dark Justiciars, a priest of Shar had to have killed a priest of Selûne.[4]
Order of the Dark Moon
Shar's secretive monastic order tapped into the shadow weave through their powers of sorcery.[citation needed]
Nightcloaks
Formerly known as Nightbringers, this group of particularly debased followers of Shar who were separated from the church, until the Time of Troubles when they were absorbed into the clergy as specialty priests.[4]
Beguilers of Shar
This order tasked with keeping the existence of the Shadow Weave secret. When Shar publicly revealed the existence of the Shadow Weave, the order was dissolved and its members were ejected from the church.[5]
Darkcloaks
Unusual among other orders in the Church, the Darkcloaks were actually a compassionate group of oracles and care-givers who tended to those troubled souls who were emotionally damaged, often bringing the bliss of forgetfulness to soothe their pain. Their work did much to present the church in a positive light to the populace, though quite often the reaction was still negative. This order included some of the few non-evil, and even law-abiding clerics of the Church.[6]

BasesEdit

Amn

The Dark Embrace was a relatively new but powerful temple full of priests dissatisfied with how the church is run in the south.

Anauroch

Thultanthar has been a centre for the worship of Shar since before Karsus' Folly. Since the reappearance of the flying city in 1372 DR, Anauroch has become the single biggest focal point of sharran worship over the last century.

Calimshan

The Temple of Old Night in Calimport has, for the longest time, been the main church of Shar in Faerûn.

Hulburg

The Sisterhood of the Black Veil is a small Sharran cell that operates under the guidance of the priestess Sennifyr.[7]

Netheril

The Reign of Night in the town of Sepulcher was the most important holy site for the Church of Shar at the time of the Netheril Empire, and the high priestess of that temple led the entire faith.[8]

Sembia

The shade Volumvax runs a secret temple under the cover identity of a lighthouse off the coast of Saerloon known to those aware of it as the Darkhouse. Using portals and planar magic, Volumvax plots to kill Selûne herself! The influence of Shar's clergy became much more pronounced when Sembia became a vassal-state of returned Netheril

Waterdeep

Vanrakdoom, one of the sublevels of Undermountain, is the location of a powerful temple of Shar headed by the death knight Vanrak Moonstar.

RelationshipsEdit

AllegiancesEdit

The Church of Shar occasionally worked together with the Monks of the Dark Moon but Shar preferred that they work independently.[1] The church employed the services of undead, evil humanoids and young evil dragons if they could be bribed or coerced into service. Talona would ally with Shar, but only if the aim was causing harm to their common enemy Loviatar. Shar and Cyric remained on cooperative terms.[2]

EnemiesEdit

The Church of Shar was generally opposed to any good-aligned religious orders, but particularly despised the deity Selûne. Members were dedicated to hurting Selûne and her worshippers as much as possible and even suspended other activities to pursue opportunities to strike at Selûne.[2]

HistoryEdit

The worship of Shar dated back to when mortals first appeared on Toril. After Shar's acquisition of the cavern portfolio from slaying Ibrandul during the Time of Troubles, she gained the worship of subterranean beings such as goblins, kobolds and troglodytes.[1]

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AppendixEdit

AppearancesEdit

ReferencesEdit

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