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The Church of Umberlee was disorganized, and different locales vary significantly in how they practiced faith in the Bitch Queen. Following Umberlee's nature, internal disputes and questions of primacy and rank were usually resolved through dueling, and the strongest Umberlant prevailed while the other was thrown aboard the next ship to leave port.[6]

Clergy[]

The majority of Umberlee's priests were female, with a ratio of nine to one. On top of being feared, the clergy of the Queen of the Depths had a reputation of being loose. In reality, it was just an attempt to receive temporary relief from "Umberlee's touch", which kept the warm-blooded members of the Church feeling the chill of the sea.[2]

Umberlant clerics could walk unmolested at almost every port and surrounding areas, and they were always welcomed aboard ships in hopes that their presence appeased their furious goddess. The clerics of the Bitch Queen often lived off the offerings of fearful sailors and merchants. They collected the coin and food left at the shrines when no other was around and splashed the altars with buckets of cold seawater and seaweeds. This symbolized the goddess claiming what was rightfully hers.[1] They prayed for spells at high tide (in the morning or the evening) while making offerings and self-anointing on the brow, hands, and feet with seawater.[7]

The Church of Umberlee did not have a significant number of affiliated orders or organizations, although one order of note was the adventuring order called the Sea Queen's Breakers. The members of the adventuring order partook in treasure-hunting activities and various recovery missions both on land and under the sea.[4]

The clerics of Umberlee could rarely be found wearing uniform vestments. As a matter of fact, the only thing they had in common was the easily detectable marine theme. They could be dressed in robes the color of the seas, waves, and storms or with shark teeth necklaces,[8] or, in hotter regions, such as the Utter East, they could simply be draped in foul-smelling seaweed.[9]

Priestess of Umberlee, second from the left, adorned in the traditional hooded fur cloak.

The clerics of the Bitch Queen who resided in temples, especially found in bigger cities, adopted more sophisticated vestments. The ceremonial outfit consisted of a tight sea-colored body-stocking with a lush white fur-trimmed high-collared cape. The outfit represented the waters of the seas and foaming waves. They often wore skeletal hands of the drowned dead on their sashes as a rank-indicator.[4]

The clerics of Umberlee charged exuberant amounts for their services, as per the Church's creed. A long journey from Waterdeep to Calimport might cost an average merchant ship up to 500 gp. That amount often tripled if the ship was a caravel transporting precious goods. The priests on board often charged extra for any and all spells they used throughout the journey and negotiated the price before casting.[4]

Pirates often paid handsomely to the Umberlant for speak with the drowned dead spells, as they could help them find precious sunken treasures.[4]

Ranks[]

The lowest on the Church's pecking order were the novice clerics called the Untaken. Once the goddess acknowledged them as her clergy, they became entitled to collect offerings and donations to the Bitch Queen, lead prayer ceremonies, and dispense her blessings.[1]

The next step in seniority could have many titles, regardless of the actual rank and the priestly powers. Those titles were: Flood Tide, Dark Breaker, Puissant Undertow, Wave of Fury, Savage Seawind, Wavemistress, and Wavelord.[1]

Waveservants and the True Servants of the Wave were the special clergy titles. They often combined any of the titles listed above with added word "Dread" in front.[1]

Holy Objects[]

The priestesses of Umberlee considered preserved hands of drowned people to be precious and holy objects, and some even used them as their holy symbols.[8]

Some powerful priestesses sold special enchanted items called the prayer-tokens of Umberlee. They were an especially powerful but fickle item that could summon the Queen of the Depths' servants to aid the traveler, (or, on occasion, if the goddess was bored, destroy the supplicants.) The prayer-token was known to raise ghost ships from the sea depths, filled with sea zombies, under the temperamental goddess' control.[10]

The Bitch Queen's Envoy was a powerful enchanted shield used by the servants of Umberlee who traveled to the Elemental Plane of Water to parley with Istishia. The shield made its wearer completely invisible to the beings native to the Elemental Plane of Water. It remained in the Church's possession until it was lost, adrift through the planes, eventually finding its way back to Toril.[11]

Abilities[]

Following the Time of Troubles, clerics of Umberlee did not have access to the turn undead ability, but could control the undead created from creatures that had perished in the sea or that were aquatic by nature. They were granted the divine ability to breathe underwater, the ability to swim,[1] and resistance to lightning.[12]

The Umberlant priests' favorite weapon was a uniquely shaped hooked sickle-like knife. These knives represented Umberlee's reaping of those killed at sea.[1]

By serving Umberlee faithfully, the priests hoped to earn enough of her good graces to be teleported to safety, in the event of the ship they were on sinking.[4]

Waveservants, Umberlee's specialty clerics, were proficient in combat with bludgeoning weapons, tridents, harpoons, and exotic-looking Umberlant dueling knives. They also were known to speak some of the aquatic languages, such as the dragon turtle dialect of the Draconic language, the aquatic elf dialect of the Elven language, or the languages of koalinth, kuo-toa, locathah, nereids, merfolk, morkoths, sahuagin, or tritons. They could breathe underwater, and additionally, more experienced Waveservants could move through water with ease, as if they were wearing a ring of free action. Especially powerful Waveservants could summon and control sharks as long as the Waveservant performing the call was within the sharks' natural habitat.[4]

Magic[]

Some of Umberlee's clerics had the ability to smite any non-aquatic creatures once a day.[13] These were the divine magic spells granted to the clergy of Umberlee[14]:

speak with the drowned dead[14]striking wave[14]oars to snakes[14]stormcloak[14]waterspout[14]maelstrom[14]entangle[13]mark of the outcast[13]control water[13]rushing waters[13]

Waveservants also received additional arcane and divine spell-like abilities from Umberlee due to their specialty status[4]:

watery double (once per day) • water walk (at will) • striking wave (once per day) • control weather (once per day, only at sea; this spell-like ability was only usable to worsen the weather conditions and never to improve them)

Among other exotic spells granted by the Bitch Queen were battle trident[15] and speeding trident, both exceptionally rare spells on Toril.[16]

Holy Days and Rituals[]

The holy symbol of Umberlee painted on a boat.

The Drowning 
The dangerous and private ritual held by the worshipers of Umberlee to promote the Untaken to the senior level of the clergy. This ritual was forbidden from being observed or partaken in by anyone but Umberlee's clergy. The Untaken supplicant was laid upon the altar encircled in candles, each lit with an intoned prayer to the Bitch Queen by a different priest. The clerics then left the room as the most senior of the Umberlants cast a spell, flooding the room with a crushing seawater wave that swept the supplicant away. If the Untaken survived the trial, they were considered confirmed in the service of the Queen of Depths. The ritual symbolized Umberlee's divine powers sparing the servant, the grace she could take away at any moment. The priests who displeased Umberlee never woke up the following morning, as their lungs were mysteriously filled with seawater.[4]
First Tide 
This holy day was celebrated when the ice broke up in a harbor. It consisted of a flute and drums parade through town with a caged animal, which was tied to a rock and then thrown into the sea. If it survived, it was magically healed and treated as a sacred animal with the rank of an Umberlant.[7] This was an ancient custom with its roots in the days of old when Umberlee selected her clergy from among the human sacrifices drowned in the same manner as the animals of the First Tide.[4]
Stormcall 
A mass prayer to send a storm away, redirect it to another harbor, port, or ship, or summon one to wreak vengeance on the town's enemies.[7] The Stormcall commenced with the worshipers kneeling around pools of seawater with floating lit candles fixed to driftwood collected by Umberlee's priests for the ritual. The worshipers then tossed valuables into the pools as the priests tried to keep the candles lit with their divine magic. If the candles blew out, it meant the goddess' displeasure.[4]

Regions[]

Waterdeep[]

In Waterdeep, at the end of Fleetswake, the Fair Seas Festival was held. It was a ceremony dedicated to placating the Bitch Queen, during which tithes were given by dropping coins—including those collected during Fleetswake by increasing the normal docking fee to 1 gp—into the deepest reaches of the harbor. Strong currents dragged this wealth into Umberlee's Cache.[17] The donations were collected by the members of the Master Mariners' Guild as well as the clergy.[18]

Baldur's Gate[]

The oldest temple in Baldur's Gate, Water Queen's House, was staffed by widows of folk lost at sea. The temple's servants rarely interacted with outsiders, only venturing out to purchase bare necessities at the market, to collect tithes after the worshipers rang the temple's bell, and to give out prayers and blessings. Most of the tithe collected was carried down the temple's mossy stairs into the sea. Most outsiders did not know what happened to the treasures taken underwater by clerics, but in reality, Umberlee-worshiping sahuagin retrieved it within an hour after the treasures were taken to the sea and left at the very bottom of the stairs deep underwater.[19]

Monksblade[]

The Worshipers of the Wave who lived in the small hamlet of Monksblade claimed a sprawling towered manor as Umberlee's holy house. The worshipers spent the year praying and making offerings to the Bitch Queen to ensure the coastal safety of the village's fishing. Twice a year, the Umberlants ventured into the sea depths aided by their ability to breathe underwater to capture monsters of the deep for sacrificing to their deity.[20]

Bezantur[]

The Bezanturian Church of Umberlee employed incredibly aggressive methods of tithe collection. They used a small army of thugs that shook the ship captains and traders traveling by sea for money to appease the Queen of the Depths. A third of the collected coin and valuables were sent to the sea, a third was used to pay the thugs, and a third returned to the temple to enrich the clergy. The Church held lavish socialite parties once a tenday attended by the elite of Bezantur.[21]

Notable Members of the Church of Umberlee[]

Appendix[]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc.), p. 173. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ed Greenwood (October 2012). Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 175. ISBN 0786960345.
  3. Ed Greenwood (July 1995). Volo's Guide to Cormyr. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 98. ISBN 0-7869-0151-9.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc.), p. 174. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 254. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  6. Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. Edited by Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 83. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. Edited by Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 82. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Steve Kenson, et al. (November 2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 41. ISBN 978-0-7869-6580-9.
  9. Ed Greenwood (February 1998). The Mercenaries. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 5. ISBN 0-7869-0866-1.
  10. Ed Greenwood (February 1998). The Mercenaries. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 84. ISBN 0-7869-0866-1.
  11. J.E. Sawyer (December 2000). “Silicon Sorcery: Magic from Icewind Dale”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon #278 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 109.
  12. Richard Baker, Joseph D. Carriker, Jr., Jennifer Clarke Wilkes (August 2005). Stormwrack. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 110. ISBN 07-8692-873-5.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick (October 2003). Underdark. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 53. ISBN 0-7869-3053-5.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 174–176. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  15. Mark Middleton et al. (1999). Priest's Spell Compendium Volume One. (TSR, Inc), p. 56. ISBN 9780786913596.
  16. Mark Middleton et al. (1999). Priest's Spell Compendium Volume Two. (TSR, Inc), p. 570. ISBN 9780786914210.
  17. Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 119–120. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
  18. Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Adventurer's Guide to the City”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 28. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Adam Lee, et al. (September 2019). Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. Edited by Michele Carter, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 193. ISBN 978-0-7869-6687-5.
  20. Ed Greenwood (July 1995). Volo's Guide to Cormyr. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 99. ISBN 0-7869-0151-9.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Anthony Pryor (June 1995). “Campaign Guide”. In Michele Carter, Doug Stewart eds. Spellbound (TSR, Inc.), p. 28. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  22. Steven E. Schend (August 1997). “Book One: Tethyr”. In Roger E. Moore ed. Lands of Intrigue (TSR, Inc.), p. 57. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
  23. Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood (1990). Forgotten Realms Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 114–115. ISBN 0-8803-8828-5.
  24. slade, et al. (April 1996). “Cities & Civilization”. In James Butler ed. The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (TSR, Inc.), p. 25. ISBN 0-7869-0391-0.
  25. Jennell Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 12. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
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  27. Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader (July 2004). Serpent Kingdoms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 99. ISBN 0-7869-3277-5.
  28. Roger E. Moore (February 1998). Errand of Mercy. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 87. ISBN 0-7869-0867-X.
  29. Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), p. 157. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.
  30. BioWare (June 2005). Designed by Keith Hayward, Rob Bartel. Neverwinter Nights: Pirates of the Sword Coast. Atari.
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