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Moander (pronounced: /moʊɛˈɑːndɛr/ moe-AN-der) was an ancient deity of rot, corruption, and decay. The "Darkbringer" never had a large following, but various cults had venerated Moander since before the rise of Netheril. Moander was alternately referred to as he, she, or it in the ancient texts and the deity's gender remains unknown to this day. The Darkbringer was generally a cruel, controlling tyrant, delighting in the torment and destruction of lesser beings and seeking to corrupt any who refused to bow down to it.
Moander's divine realm Offalmound was located in Rarandreth, the abyssal layer numbered 223, both in the Great Wheel and World Tree cosmology. Adherents of the latter worldview speculated that with the deity's demise his realm was either pushed outside the Astral Plane without any connections remaining or collapsed altogether.
Many lonely folk, adrift in the world at large, were drawn to the Darkbringer for the firm direction It gave their life. Servants of Moander were required to endure a ceremony to join the cult that involved the absorption of a 'seed of Moander.' If worthy, the seed gradually grew in the initiate's body until the entire internal structure was replaced with rotting plant matter. A small flowered tendril protruding from the ear and wound through the hair was the only visible indication of the change. At this stage, whenever it wished, Moander could assume complete direct mental and physical control of the recipient. It could also speed up or slow down the rotting process, which allowed for further control of Its servants through fear. Cultists were expected to kill something or gather vegetation on a daily basis in order to spread rot and decay. Most also celebrated Balefire on the first of Hammer (month) by constructing huge bonfires in its name to hold back the cold.
Priests of the Darkbringer were referred to as Minions of Moander, with senior clergy taking the title of High Minion and the high priest being called Master Minion. The head of the entire Faerûniun church was the Mouth of Moander, usually a human female priestess. Extremely rarely, a Master Minion would become an Undying Minion upon death, an ooze-like undead creature known as a skuz. Minions were expected to spread rumors of Moander's power, feed its Abomination, and infect new followers with the 'seed of Moander.'
Although the deity's origins have never been made clear, Moander appeared throughout some of Faerûn's earliest historical recordings and folklore. One legend holds it responsible for corrupting Tyche, the goddess of fate in ancient times, which resulted in the deity splitting into the two "sister" goddesses of fate that existed later, namely Tymora and Beshaba.
In 75 DR, Moander the Darkbringer hurled its forces and the "creeping evil" against the elven city of Tsornyl, blighting much of the surrounding woods. The magic of Moander twisted all life, both follower and victim alike, into corrupt monsters, including deepspawn and shambling mounds. While the evil could not be destroyed, High Magic severed the creeping evil from Moander and imprisoned the corruption at Tsornyl (soon to be called the Darkwatch). This weakened the Darkbringer's presence in Toril, though it cost the lives of thirty-two elves, including two High Mages, to sever and bind the power.
This evil still lurked in the area known as the Darkwatch and awaited a sliver of divine energy to return Moander to life.
Over a thousand years ago, the Cormanthyr elves of Myth Drannor battled the deity's avatar in its last remaining major temple, located on present-day Yulash. The avatar was known as the Abomination and consisted of a huge mass of rotting vegetation and carrion that left the ground void of any living thing in its wake. The elves slayed the priests, banished the Darkbringer, and sealed the essence of his avatar beneath the ruins, to be released only by an unborn child. Some cultists fled south and the priesthood managed to survive. Over the next millennia, they tried to free the Abomination, but to no avail.
In 1357 DR, the mercenary Alias and her party were manipulated by cultists into freeing the Abomination for a time, as described in The Finder's Stone trilogy by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb. Alias, her friends and the dragon Mist destroyed the Abomination after it had wrought terrible destruction in Cormanthor and Westgate.
Reduced to a demipower, Moander was brought back to the Realms by a tribe of Saurials whom it had enslaved, but was again defeated with help from the Harpers, Alias, Finder Wyvernspur, and a saurial paladin named Dragonbait. The story culminates with Moander's death on its home plane of the Abyss at the hands of the powerful human bard Finder Wyvernspur during the Time of Troubles. Finder Wyvernspur then took the Darkbringer's divine power, possibly with the help of his patron deity Tymora, and became a demigod in his own right.
The Truth about his "Death"
What was always considered perplexing about Finder's success at "killing" Moander was, that he had success at all because gods could only be killed by other gods in the true sense. The supposed explanation was, that Finder had Tymora's support at doing the deed and succeeded only because of it. The truth about it was, that Finder didn't succeed at truly killing Moander. The old god's consciousness remained in Darkwatch, where it drained power and gained strength from people visiting the place and one creature of sufficient strength, like an avatar or a Chosen, would be enough for him to regain his demigod status. The method by which he lured people to Darkwatch was by infecting those with special spores. These spores could straightforwardly eat people or influence them like through suggestion to make the infected send more to be infected. Another method by which he lured people to Darkwatch was by making the appear like one of religious significance. This was met with different degrees of success. Clerics of Cyric ventured there to relish the dark energy there while Vhaeraun following drow wanted to have nothing to do with the place.
If any deity in the realms could truly be called 'dead', it is Moander. However, there was still a tiny fraction of its power that resided with its corpse, which floated through the Astral plane. So theoretically, it could be revived, given enough worship.
What worshipers the Darkbringer had left could have been reorganized and concentrated once more had an opportunistic individual thought of it. That is, if Lolth had not already beaten them to that goal. To the elves of Myth Drannor, Moander could corrupt individual elves and destroy their beloved forests, more so than Lolth ever could. But with the Darkbringer's demise, Lolth has taken up Moander's name as an alias of her own. Ao also instructed the gods to pay more heed to their worshipers and Lolth has realized that she may not be able to rely solely on those living in the Underdark to be her followers.
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