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Lord Ao (AY-oh)[1] was the Overgod of the worlds of Abeir-Toril. As Overgod, all deities and primordials of Abeir and Toril,[6] even those who also operated in other spheres and planes, such as Lolth, were subject to him. To be more precise, only aspects of gods directly connected with Abeir-Toril were under Ao's power.[1][7]

If it were not for Ao's involvement in the Time of Troubles, he would likely have been unknown to the mortals of Faerûn.[1]

DescriptionEdit

Ao only took physical form once, during the Time of Troubles. In that instance, he took the form of a being that was 12 feet (3.6 mts.) tall, ageless (neither young nor old), with a visage that was not pleasant yet wasn't unpleasant, because it didn't had any remarkable features. He had white beard and hair, and wore a black robe dotted by millions of stars and moons, arranged in a not-so perceptible yet harmonious feel.[2]

PersonalityEdit

Ao didn't care what the deities or primordials were doing as long as they upheld their individual portfolios and did not completely ignore their worshipers.[1] When a deity did something that wasn't accounted for by his portfolio, Ao would punish such deity, and such punishments were usually harsh.[3] He could damage deities permanently,[5] or even demote them at-will.[2]

Ao cared even less for mortals,[2] and some theorized that he didn't wanted to be known by them.[1] However, when Ao found worthy mortals, able to upheld the responsibilities of a deity, he promoted them to divinity almost instantly.[2]

ActivitiesEdit

Ao's only job was to ensure deities abided by the rules of the cosmos.[3] He had to report such developments to a "Luminous being" that existed beyond the normal cosmology.[2][8]

Another of his functions was to decide which interloper deities were allowed in the sphere of Abeir-Toril and which mortals could be raised to godhood. If Ao didn't allowed it, a being could not ascend to divinity, and an interloper deity could not enter in the sphere nor affect it in any way, regardless of how powerful these beings were.[7] He was also in charge to decide which dead gods—or gods that had lost their connection with the sphere of Abeir-Toril—were to be revived or returned to the sphere, and allow such development if he deemed it necessary.[2]

Ao established rules concerning the management of the divine.[9] For instance:

  • No two gods in the same pantheon could have identical portfolios.
  • When two gods clash, one of three results occurs:
    • One god fades from the Realms.
    • Both gods merge.
    • One (or both) god(s) alter their portfolio(s) sufficiently that both could remain in or join the Faerûnian pantheon.

These rules were more problem than they were worth, because they encouraged the gods to battle among themselves for supremacy.[1] During the Second Sundering, Ao discarded such rules, reassigned portfolios and created more flexible rules.[6][10]

PowersEdit

Theoretically, Ao could do anything he wanted to.[2] He was credited as the creator of the cosmos, and even existed beyond concepts such as alignment[4] and divine rank.[2] He was more powerful that all the gods and primordials of Abeir-Toril, even combined.[2][3][11] In fact, Ao had the power to create gods out from thin air.[2]

In addition, unlike the gods under him, Ao did not need the worship of mortals and did not desire it either,[2] whereas those "normal" gods who did not receive the worship of mortals could die from lack of it.[7] Ao initiated this after the Time of Troubles in order to enforce his will that the gods act as guardians of the Balance rather than kings of mortals.[3][6]

His powers were limited to the sphere of Abeir-Toril, however, and he could not control or influence something from beyond of it.[1] [12]

Worshippers Edit

The cult of Ao was led by ministers instead of clerics, as these cultists never received any spells from the Overgod. The cult was more philosophical than religious in nature.[2]

Among the known cults of Ao were a cult in Waterdeep, and another in Zazesspur, Tethyr. This cult was remarkable by the fact that its ministers could cast divine spells, but in the end it was revealed that those individuals received their divine powers from Cyric and not from Ao.[2]

The gods of the established faiths of Faerûn informed their priests about the fact that Ao did not interacted with mortals. Because of that, members of other faiths didn't fear neither speak out against the cults of Ao.[2]

HistoryEdit

Creation of the World Edit

There were no exact accounts on how he created the universe, but nonetheless he was credited for the deed.[4] In some traditions, Ao just created the sphere that covered the Realmspace, and the goddesses Selûne and Shar, and they later went to create all the worlds and stars, and other heavenly bodies.[13][14] In other accounts, it was Ao who directly created all that exists, not only the Realmspace, but also the worlds and heavenly bodies, and even the Astral Sea, using the raw energy of the Phlogiston.[15]

The TearfallEdit

During the Days of Thunder, when the batrachi were losing their war against the titans, they performed a powerful summoning ritual and released several primordials from their ancient prisons. The gods quickly moved against their ancient foes, and those battles caused the worldwide catastrophes that destroyed the batrachi civilization. A primordial known as "Asgorath the World-Shaper", determined to destroy the world if she couldn't control it, threw an ice moon at the planet, creating the Sea of Fallen Stars. This event was known as the Tearfall.[16]

Before the world was completely destroyed, Lord Ao intervened and sundered the original world of Abeir-Toril into two twin worlds, Abeir and Toril, giving the former to the primordials and the later (the original world) to the gods, ending the conflict.[16] The Tablets of Fate were created by Ao after the Tearfall as a way to maintain the new worlds of Abeir and Toril apart, and to ensure a balance between the forces of Law and Chaos, as well as between the gods and the primordials.[6]

The Mulhorandi and Untheric pantheonsEdit

When the Imaskari captured the Mulan people from another world and brought them to Toril, Ao contacted the ancient being Ptah, and invited the Mulhorandi and Untheric gods to manifest in Toril. With help and permission from Ao, these deities were able to follow their worshipers and end their servitude.[17][18]

The Time of TroublesEdit

In 1358 DR,[19] the gods Bane and Myrkul stole the Tablets of Fate from Ao and hid them in Faerûn,[20] wrongly suspecting that some of the Overgod's power was derived from these tablets.[21] When Ao discovered the Tablets of Fate were missing he summoned all the deities and asked for those guilty to hand them over. When no one stood forward to admit to stealing the Tablets of Fate, Ao cast down all the gods from the heavens, taking their divine power in the process. Ao tasked Helm with guarding the Celestial Stairways which would lead the deities back into their divine realms.[22]

After valiant heroes (among them the mortals Cyric, Kelemvor, and Midnight) recovered the Tablets of Fate and returned them to Ao, the Overgod himself destroyed the Tablets of Fate, grinding them into powder as a way to teach the gods a lesson.[8][6] This act, however, unraveled the laws of Realmspace, beginning the chaotic Era of Upheaval.[6]

Many cults of Ao arose after Time of Troubles, but disappeared as quickly in the following years.[2] By 1372 DR, even written records about Ao had disappeared,[1] and by 1479 DR all the cults of Ao had banished from Faerûn altogether.[4]

The SpellplagueEdit

It its believed that Ao could not stop the Spellplague from happening because that cataclysm was born from the defiling powers from the Far Realm, a plane that existed outside of Realmspace, and therefore was beyond Ao's power.[12]

The Second SunderingEdit

In 1482 DR, Ao began the Second Sundering, as a way to restore the worlds of Toril and Abeir of the ravages of the Spellplague.[23] During the Second Sundering, Ao recreated and rewrote the Tablets of Fate, inscribing the names and purposes of the gods and primordials he chose to serve in a new, inclusive divine reality.[6]

Rumors & LegendsEdit

Some believed that the Shadow of Ao, a powerful artifact that had the power to split a world in two, was related to the Tearfall. It was believed to be located somewhere in Laerakond.[24]

AppendixEdit


References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 4. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 30. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Colin McComb (1996). On Hallowed Ground. (TSR, Inc), p. 168. ISBN 0-7869-0430-5.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 74. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 40. ISBN 978-0786965809.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Ed Greenwood, Erin M. Evans, Paul S. Kemp, R.A. Salvatore, Richard Lee Byers, Troy Denning, James Wyatt (August 21th, 2012). What is the Sundering? (Part 1). Retrieved on September 7th, 2017.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Troy Denning (July 2003). Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 345. ISBN 0-7869-3111-6.
  9. Error on call to Template:cite web: Parameters url and title must be specified. Eric L. Boyd. Eric Boyd on Pantheons of the Realms. Archived from [ the original] on 2002-06-25. Retrieved on 2010-09-27.
  10. Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-0786965809.
  11. Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 15. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  12. 12.0 12.1 M. Sean Molley (2014-02-11). The End and the Beginning (ADCP6-1) (ZIP/PDF). Living Forgotten Realms. Wizards of the Coast. p. 137. Retrieved on 2017-07-20.
  13. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 260. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  14. Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 141. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  15. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 42. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 31. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  17. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 185. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  18. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 31. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  19. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 142, 144. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  20. Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), p. 23. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  21. Scott Ciencin (May 2003). Shadowdale. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 86–88. ISBN 0-7869-3105-1.
  22. Scott Ciencin (May 2003). Shadowdale. (Wizards of the Coast), p. Prologue. ISBN 0-7869-3105-1.
  23. Paul S. Kemp (2012-08-20). The Sundering. Retrieved on 2016-12-13.
  24. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 210. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
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