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Moander (pronounced: /mɛˈɑːndɛrmoe-AN-der[15]) was an ancient deity of rot, corruption, and decay, whose origins predated the empire of Netheril. Some believed that the Darkbringer was an elder god.[16] The deity's been banished from Toril on many occasions but the Jawed God always slithered back.[1]

Description[]

Moander had been depicted and described in ancient texts as a masculine deity, a feminine power, or simply referred to as "it."[1] The Darkbringer's most renowned avatar was called the Abomination of Moander, a massive pile of animated rotting mass of animal carrion and putrified vegetation.[11] The Abomination had some superficial resemblance to shambling mounds and gibbering mouthers. The entire surface of the avatar was covered in vines, lichen, moss, tendrils, eyes, and fanged maws of different shapes, sizes and belonging to different creatures. All mouths mumbled, cracked, screeched, and emitted deafening uncontrollable chaotic ravings and chanted Moander's name in a demented chorus.[17] The Abomination, a lumbering mountain of rot, produced putrid black slime,shedding it behind everywhere it went. It absorbed any living or dead matter, increasing the Abomination's body size.[11][18]

Manifestations[]

Moander appeared to his worshipers in an intangible image of a red-eyed giant rotting male humanoid head that sprouted 20 feet (6.1 meters) long tendrils instead of hair and had a maw filled with fangs. This manifestation allowed Moander to communicate, manipulate objects with the tendrils, and create a mental link with the individuals the deity touched with the tentacles. The link remained even after the contact was broken, and the dark god continued whispering in the individuals' minds until the effects were negated via remove curse or remove disease spells.[11]

As the god of decay, Moander could manifest through any type of rot. The deity created long tentacles of rotting matter that sprouted from the spots of decay. Each tendril was 20 feet (6.1 meters) long and could freely manifest and move from one stop of rot to the next, within reach. These putrid tentacles could slam at the god's enemies and implant immobilized or sleeping creatures with the seed of Moander. These tendrils could feed on decaying matter, and after devouring enough, they sprouted a bulb that matured into another independent tendril. These manifestations died and disintegrated when left without food after one-to-eight months.[13]

Personality[]

The Darkbringer was a cruel deity who reveled in controlling its subjects. The tyrant delighted in the torment and destruction of lesser beings; it sought to force mortals' hands to ruin those they held dear. Moander sought to corrupt anyone who refused to bow down to it. The Jawed God used lies and half-truths to cause emotional distress to those it tortured.[1]

Powers[]

Moander's pseudopods spilling out of an Abyssal dimensional door.

In his Abomination avatar shape, Moander was unable to cast spells. However, that was compensated by the sheer power and resilience of the creature. The rotting hulk was could freely move across vertical surfaces or float on water. The entirety of its putrid mass could sprout tendrils, eyes, or mouths to communicate or to land devastating attacks on its enemies. Despite being an easy target, the Abomination of Moander had thick natural defenses, absorbing most attacks into its rotting mass. The Abomination had to be created by the hands of its servants, and the decaying mass that became the vessel of the Jawed God had to be at least 30 feet and 0 inches (9.1 meters) in diameter. The Abomination needed to continuously absorb organic matter in order to grow or simply exist. If left without access to new matter, the Abomination eventually rotted away within one to four months and turned to dust and foul slime. The Abomination's main mode of attack was via tendril slams and sprouting a massive fanged maw that devoured all who stood in front of the avatar. Moander's rotting body also often used huge tree trunks as spear-like projectiles or entangled its enemies. The avatar could also implant the seed of Moander into captured living creatures, taking full control over them.[11]

Those who were unlucky enough to be swallowed by the Abomination were crushed as endless tendrils rotted away their equipment, clothes, eventually killing them and adding the carcasses to Moander's avatar. Some who survived within the creature could be infected with the seed of Moander. The deity gained knowledge of all those "blessed" with the seed. That connection worked both ways, granting the victims a brief look into the god's mind. Moander could cast any spells it knew through any of the seeded victims. Each enslaved victim shared their mind with the deity, making the Abomination permanently smarter and wiser.[11]

This avatar was vulnerable to fire due to flammable gasses and fumes that the giant carcass constantly produced. Smaller sources of magical or mundane flames could damage the creature very little and were quickly snuffed out but the Abomination's wet oozing body. Bigger sources of flame, such as dragon's breath, could detonate the Abomination, instantly destroying the avatar in a colossal blaze. The cold was harmful to it, damaging it and halting the rotting.[11]

Moander's core could move between piles of filth of big enough size through exuding a relatively small flying egg-shaped pod. These pods contained the essence of Moander and allowed it to possess another rotting body, creating a new Abomination. Given enough putrified matter, the Jawed God's avatar could vomit a shambling mound twice per day and a gibbering mouther once every three days. These spawns were under the god's control for the one-to-twelve following days. After that, the creatures were granted autonomy and they wandered away from the creator. Lastly, the Abomination could open a gate at will, sacrificing about a month's worth of rot that sustained it.[11]

During cold months, the Abomination of Moander retreated to warm lands or into lava-filled hot cavers of the Underdark, where it was fed and guarded by the dread god's clergy.[13]

Divine Realm[]

Moander's divine realmOffalmound, was located in Rarandreth, the 223rd abyssal layer, both in the Great Wheel[1][12] and the 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.[8][10]

Relationships[]

Moander especially reveled in corrupting, enslaving, and rotting beholders and similar creatures. Sages thought that to be tied to ancient rivalry with fellow god Bane,[13] while others thought that it was due to Moander's ancient bitter enemy Phalse, who resembled a monstrous beholder with a single eye in the center and mouths in place of smaller eyes.[19] Another ancient enemy of Moander's was Tyranthraxus the Possessing Spirit, who, in the days of antiquity, attempted to take over the Jawed God's hold in the Realms.[20][21]

Among gods, Moander had several allies and significantly more foes. Unlike Ghaunadaur, Lolth was an enemy of Moander who lusted after its portfolio.[22] Many of the elven pantheon opposed dark gods, putting them at odds with Moander. This included Corellon Larethian,[23] Hanali Celanil[24] Rillifane Rallathil,[25] and Solonor Thelandira.[26] The halfling deities Arvoreen[27] and Sheela Peryroyl considered Moander their deadly foe.[28]

The Darkbringer gained many bitter rivals among the gods of Netheril, the feuds that lasted for millennia. These ancient foes included Jannath–an aspect of Chauntea,[29] Jergal,[30] Mystryl–the goddess of magic,[31], Selûne,[32] Targus–aspect of Garagos,[33] and the goddess of luck Tyche, who eventually fell by the Darkbringer's scheme.[34] However, Moander made allies of Kozah–ancient aspect of Talos,[35] with whom, Moander sought to destroy anything that Mystryl had a hand in creating.[31] Shar became allied with both Moander and Kozah against her sister Selûne.[36]

Worshipers[]

The symbol of Moander.

Main article: Church of Moander

Moander's presence and worship have been chronicled in many ancient texts. Some were older than his first recorded organized worship in Netheril.[1] Moanderite worship was predatory dogma that preyed on lonely folk adrift in the world. Those desperate enough to join worship welcomed the firm direction it gave their life. Moander has never been flush with worshipers. However, numerous cults have been dedicated to the deity.[1] Individuals who joined Darkbringer's clergy were put through a ceremony where a seed of Moander was planted inside their bodies. The godly seed grew inside, slowly turning the entirety of their insides into rotting plant matter and eventually dried dead greenery. The clergy of Moander was identifiable by a small flowering tendril protruding from the ear and wound through the hair. This seed allowed the god directly assume control of any creature infected by it.[13]

Non-Human Worshipers[]

Moander was served by and could manifest itself as several intelligent non-human creatures, such as algoids, dark trees, gibbering mouthers, shambling mounds, and vegepygmies created by from russet mold.[13] Moander and his cultists used giant toads, and giant slugs,[14] for their nefarious purposes, and the deity summoned its loyal black or green dragons to serve the Mouth of Moander.[13] The Jawed God's hate of beholders led to the deity transforming dead enslaved aberrations into rotting death tyrants, fully subservient to it.[13] In the late-14th century DR, Moander received worship from some of wild elves who stood in fear of encroaching civilization. These elves believed that the god of decay could protect them from farmers, ranchers, and loggers.[2]

Places of Worship[]

Typical temples of the Rotting God were constructed as sprawling underground complexes or atop sharp hills away from prying eyes in the secluded wilderness. The temples were marked by circled of sharp fang-shaped rocks arranged in the shape of Moander's open jaws, surrounding an altar. The underground temples could be found in places with rot, waste, and decaying sewage. The temple complexes' walls were carved with delicate images of elves frowning trees, tortured humanoids, and people being melted by dragons' acid.[13]

The oldest pace of Moanderite worship in Faerûn was an underground temple known as the Abyss of the Abomination, in the city of Yûlash in the Moonsea region. The temple complex was over 1,000 years old by the 14th century DR.[1] Another shrine of note was the Hill of Fangs, outside the city of Westgate. The hilltop was surrounded by a ring of eight plinths of red stone that resembled curved inward fangs.[37] More obscure places of worship were mere rumors to most. The forests outside of Ylraphon were rumored to shelter shrines of several evil powers, including the worship site called the House of Moander.[38] Another temple of Moander could be found proudly standing in the City of a Thousand Temples–Bezantur in Thay.[39] Following the Jawed God's death during the Time of Troubles, the main well-hidden active place of worship was the Hidden Glades temple by the town of Torsch in Chondalwood. The faith was led by the Mouth of Moander Dalchatha Maereegh. She ran a wide spy network and guided cultists to capture, slay, and rot enemies of the church, turning them into new bodies for Moander to turn into Abominations.[13]

Holy Days[]

Cultists of Moander were expected to perform a daily ceremonial kill of a creature or gather vegetation to spread rot and decay. Balefire was one of the very few celebrations of the god's worshipers. It took place on the first of Hammer when Moanderites constructed huge bonfires in the name of the god of rot name to hold back the cold.[13]

History[]

A Netherese crowd running from the Abomination of Moander.

In the days of ancient Netheril, a common belief was that Moander came to Toril and established his greatest temple in the mountains of Moander's Footsteps to annihilate an elder race, long forgotten even in the days of antiquity. The rotting god poisoned the race's food and water, causing their extinction.[40]

Although the deity's origins have never been made clear, Moander appeared throughout some of Faerûn's earliest historical recordings and folklore. Moander was one of the players in the Dawn Cataclysm when Lathander healed an ill-fated attempt to reshape the Faerûnian pantheon in his own image. Several deities were killed in the events that followed, including the goddess Murdane. However, the biggest loss for Lathander was Tyche, his lover at the time. She refused to partake in Lathander's grab for power and left him to wander the Realms. During that time, she came across a beautiful rose high in the mountains of Toril. The flower was so perfect that the goddess thought it an apology from her misguided consort. In reality, the flower was a seed of Moander. Tyche tucked the rose in her hair, from whence the flower corrupted and rotted her from the inside. To save her, Selûne was forced to split the goddess of luck, birthing Tymora and Beshaba.[41]

In the days of ancient Unther, the royal House of Haelcaunter was known as "the consorts of gods". Untheric deities, such as Moander, Gargauth, Moander, Shar, Jergal, and the Seven Lost Gods, indeed consorted with the members of the royal family, tasking them with divine missions and guiding them to prosperity or corruption.[7]

Not long before the Year of the Rising Flame, 0 DR, Moander attempted to increase his worshiping on Toril by taking on a humanoid cowled shape and persuading mortals of the importance of rot in nature, equating itself to Chauntea or Silvanus. The deity positioned itself to appear as a goodly natural force not to be feared. The ploy did not sway many, except a smattering of gullible mortals. Eventually, only those who enjoyed death and corruption remained loyal to the cowled god. During that time, Shar considered Moander to be an upstart rival.[42]

In the Year of Clinging Death, 75 DR, Moander's armies of "creeping evil" were unleashed on the elven settlement of Tsornyl. The corrupting forces spread blight through the forests that surrounded the city. The deity's dark influence twisted and mutated every living thing in the vicinity of Tsornyl, including members of its own church. These corrupted creatures were shaped into various unknowable horrors, including deepspawn and rotting shambling mounds. Unable to cleanse nor destroy the created evil, elven High Magic was used to sever the "creeping evil" part of Moander and imprison it within the ruined Tsornyl, later renamed to the dreaded forest of Darkwatch. This act cost 32 elven lives, including two High Mages of Myth Drannor. The loss of power echoed in Moander's diminished influence on Toril.[43]

Most elves died swiftly and painfully when the rot set in on House Tsornyl. A small number of older and more powerful individuals managed to flee Moander through a gate to Luernla, an isolated elven island in the Beacon Rocks. Some of the survivors were infected with slow rot and Nueltrara Tsornyl made great sacrifices to purge the corruption from her remaining subjects. However, she unwittingly granted them a unique type of undead existence in the process.[5]

In the Year of Unkind Weapons, 171 DR, the Cormanthyr elves of Myth Drannor were engaged in a two-year-war[44] against the deity's avatar in its last remaining major temple, located in what later become the city of Yûlash. The avatar was known as the Abomination of Moander–a huge mass of rotting vegetation and carrion that left the ground void of any living thing in its wake. The Coronal of the City of Song and sixteen of High Mages weaved elven High Magics and cast the binding on the Darkbringer. It sealed the essence of the Abomination beneath the ruins, to be released only by an "unborn child." Most of the priests were slain, yet some cultists fled south, and the church managed to survive. Over the next millennia, they tried to free the Abomination, but to no avail.[11]

Isaw that battle. Moander puffed up like an overproofed loaf of bread. The dragon spat flame at it. Boooom! Fried dragon and chunks of rotting god rained on the city. Took out a piece of the city wall, the Dhostar warehouses, and a lot of the northwestern slums. That crash shook out this town like a dirty rug. The town's merchant nobles thought a new Flight of Dragons had arrived!
— Jamal, Thespian of Westgate[45]

Moander's Torillian avatar remained trapped until the Kythorn 5, the Year of the Prince, 1357 DR.[46] Moander's cultists found unlikely allies in a sorceress Cassana, her lich ally Zrie Prakis, the Darkbringer's ancient enemy fiend Phalse, and the Fire Knives assassins. The dark alliance pooled their resources to create a living construct, a "nonborn child," each member of the alliance planned on using the construct for their own purpose. The Jawed God's cultists sought to use it to unleash the Abomination of Moander onto the world once more. Against all odds, the construct was lost to the group and gained sentence, becoming the hero known as Alias. Via manipulation and the compulsory magic of her azure bonds, Alias and her companions were lured to the war-torn town of Yûlash and freed Moander from his ancient prison. The Abomination captured Alias and held her inside its massive rotting body as he grew even bigger, feeding off soldiers, beasts, and trees. Burning with a vengeance, the Abomination made way across Cormanthor towards Myth Drannor, the city of his ancient enemies. The avatar left behind a cleared way in the elven forest later called Moander's Road. Eventually, Moander's avatar was destroyed in the aerial battle over Westgate by a red dragon Mistinarperadnacles Hai Draco. Many of the Darkbringer's cultists were killed in the battle of the Hill of Fangs outside of the city by joined forces of Alias, her "brother" Dragonbait, Olive Ruskettle, and Akabar Bel Akash. Of course, the cultists of Moander were far from gone, but the god itself was reduced to being a mere demipower.[11][46] The Abomination shed a huge part of its rotting carcass along the route it carved through Cormanthor. Since then, Moander's Road was known for a huge mound that once was part of the creature. It spawned strange previously unseen blossoms all around the dead god. Locals believed that something dangerous was lairing within the rotting mound.[47]

Before Moander disappeared from Toril once again, it sent visions to the High Priestess Mogion of Sembia, guiding her to the temple in Yûlash.[48] Mere months after the Abomination's demise, Mogion led her group–the Church of Moander, to the ruined temple. She plotted to open a dimensional door to the Abyss to bring Moander's true form to Faerûn. At the end of the day, Mogion only succeeded in opening a small gate allowing several pseudopods of the deity to pour into the Prime Material. These Bits of Moander, as well as the High Priestess possessed by the rotting god, were defeated by Alias, Dragonbait, and a band of adventurers branded with azure bonds.[21][49]

Supposed Death[]

Moander attempted a return to power in the Realms in the Year of Shadows, 1358 DR. The deity tracked down the saurial tribe Dragonbait hailed from and transported them as his slaves into a remote location within the DalelandsTarkhaldale. The demipower implanted the seed of Moander into Coral, an old flame and mate of Dragonbait's, turning her into the Mouth of Moander, the High Priest of the Rotting God. Reestablished on the Prime Material plane, Moander infected a powerful beholder Xaran, a Harper agent Kyre, and an army of treants. The Darkbringer's slave saurials were tasked with growing a pile of rot to become a new Abomination, defiling all living things in the Lost Vale, and adding their own eggs to the dreaded god's body. In the advent of the Time of Troubles, Alias, Dragonbait, Finder Wyvernspur– Alias's creator and father, confronted the saurial colony and Moander. Dragonbait was forced to kill his old love Coral as there was nothing left of her but rotting vines on the inside. Finder Wyvernspur and Akabar Bel Akash followed the god into the Abyss and sacrificed their lives in selling destroying the Darkbringer with a shard of para-elemental ice that powered Finder's Stone. Finder inherited Moander's divinity, with sponsorship from Moander's enemies, goddess of luck Tymora[50] and the House Wyvernspur patron goddess Selûne,[51] and became a demigod in his own right.[11][52][50]

One of the shards of The Jawed God, floating in the Astral Sea.

Sages debated how true was Moander's destruction. His avatars were gone, and his existence in the Abyss was cut short by a mortal with heat from the divine. Some claimed to have encountered Moander's body floating in the Astral Plane,[14] and there was evidence of a fraction of the Darkbringer's essence growing in power in the planes.[11] The truth was that Finder didn't succeed at truly killing Moander. Like many other divine beings, Moander was more than a single entity. 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 them appear like one of religious significance. Remaining worshipers of Moander received mental whispers from the god, the so-called "Moander dreams".[2][53] 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.[54]

Meanwhile, the worship of Moander became splintered between cultists who followed the Jawed God and those who embraced a new religion dedicated to rot and corruption. Drow deity Lolth felt vulnerable after the Godswar and quickly seized the opportunity to claim Moander's name as her aspect in the surface world and the Rotting God's hegemony, unclaimed by Finder. Under Moander's guise, Lolth attracted surface humans, elves, and half-elves who found rot and corruption more appealing and comprehensible than Lolth dogma among the drow.[11][55]

In the Year of Lightning Storms, 1374 DR, strange fog started appearing in the High Forest. All living beings who found themselves within the roaming clouds were turned into rotting mummies adorned with Moander's holy symbol. During the same period of time, a band of Moanderite cultists uncovered ancient, powerful Netherese magics and attempted to use them to rob Finder Wyvernspur of his divine spark in order to return Moander to Toril. The attempt, evidently, was unsuccessful.[56]

Return to Toril[]

Question not the words of Moander, lest you be stricken by the Eating From Within. Go forth and possess beings of power and influence for me. Slay, and let the rot cover all. Fear me, and obey.
— Voice of Moander[57]

Following the return of dead gods and Tori's healing from the damage done by the Spellplague. Mystra's resurrection heralded the Second Sundering in the 15th century DR. Despite not being fully dead, Moander's influence was returned to the Prime Material plane. The deity laid low, gathering power, hiding in patches of rot, death, and decay, as well as corrupt minds of mortals, such as the Rotting Man of Talona.[58] In the 15th century DR, Moander found influence among foolish mortals seeking power. The god of decay offered pacts to warlocks in exchange for spreading rot, fear, and reverence of the Jawed God. The deity stove the decay of the seeds of Moander and mandated the followers to spread the seeds among individuals of power and influence in the Realms.[57]

Rumors & Legends[]

  • Brindul Alley in Waterdeep was haunted by a strange flying hand that greatly resembled the holy symbol of Moander. There were many theories of the hand's origin. However, none were confirmed.[59]
  • Citadel of Fungi in the vicinity of Moander's Road was known for copious amounts of yellow-green mold and fungus in the 15th century DR. The ancient citadel's treasures remained un-plundered as locals whispered of Moander's influence spreading from the long-killed Abomination, rotting underneath a hill.[60]
  • Many rumors about gods circulated among mortals. The most salacious were stories of Mystra's divine lovers. There have been claims of Azuth, Helm, Shar, Bane, Moander, or the nearest rock to consort with the goddess of magic. The truthfulness of all these claims was not known.[61]

Appendix[]

Trivia[]

  • Worshipers of Moander often cursed by "Moander's mirth"[62] or swore by "Moander's Mouth."[63] "Rose of Moander" was a common early-to-mid-14th century DR exclamation.[64]

Gallery[]

Appearances[]

Adventures
Curse of the Azure Bonds
Referenced only
TantrasUndermountain: The Lost Level
Novels
Azure BondsSong of the Saurials
Referenced only
Sword PlayMortal ConsequencesDangerous GamesCormyr: A NovelThe Simbul's GiftFinder's BaneTymora's LuckElfsongMasqueradesPool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth DrannorSwords of EveningstarSacrifice of the WidowStorm of the DeadSon of Thunder
Video Games
Curse of the Azure BondsPools of Darkness
Referenced only
Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth DrannorIcewind Dale
Card Games
Referenced only
AD&D Trading Cards

References[]

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Connections[]

The Netherese Pantheon
AmaunatorJannathJergalKozahMoanderMystrylSelûneSharSuneTargusTyche
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