The church of Mystryl was the main organization that followed the tenets of the goddess Mystryl, predominately during the time of the ancient Netheril empire, because the Fall of Netheril corresponded with the death of the goddess and her reincarnation as Mystra.
The hierarchy of the Mystrylan church was loosely organized with an order dedicated to each type of magical energy led by a head priest. Titles varied between temples, but collectively they were known as the Servants of Mystery. The priests who made their fame and fortune through adventuring, as well as those that inherited a title and land, were usually called Lords or Ladies of Mystery, although as a general rule, talent and ability for a position outweighed social status or heroic accolades.
The focus of the church of Mystryl was threefold: to create new spells and items; to seek out beings with skill in the Art and profile them; and to preserve magical lore for the future. All capable members of the church were expected to spend time in magical research inventing new magics and increasing the scope of magical scholarship. The clergy also actively looked for talented individuals and monitored their behavior and advancement in order to predict which might become influential in the field of magic. Preservation was accomplished by diligently guarding magical research laboratories, creating secret libraries and private repositories, and sequestering magical items and books in hidden caches throughout the land.
Rituals and CelebrationsEdit
Simple rituals to honor or appease the goddess often took the form of a whispered prayer of thanks after casting a spell, or sacrificing, usually by burning, small items that had been enchanted by a simple dweomer. Arcanists tended to be a solitary lot, believing they could succeed in their Art without outside help, but most acknowledged Mystryl in this way. Those that ignored the Lady of Mysteries were often able to acquire great knowledge yet remained frustrated and unfulfilled by their attempts to apply it.
A ritual known as Starflight was a cooperative spell used for ceremonies of initiation into the Servants of Mystery, the marriage of two devotees, and other more mundane purposes. Two or more priests cast the spell and others could donate magical energy (known as "winds") to the casters in order to give the power of flight to the recipients, which lasted as long as stars were visible in the sky. This ritual was sometimes performed to allow private discussions, to isolate a spellcaster while he or she attempted something dangerous, to undertake long journeys, to grant someone a mini-vacation, or to make a memorable wedding night.
Another cooperative ritual known as Magefire was used for acts of extreme healing, curing, and blessing when an individual was in dire need of restoration (perhaps because an experiment backfired, or because contact was made with fell creatures, for example). The person to be restored laid on the ground within a circle of priests and other celebrants as they poured magical energy into the subject's body, shaped by the Magefire spell. As the energy built up, blue fire began to flicker over their body until it engulfed them completely and they rose into the air to hover like a blue-white star as all manner of ills were repaired, cured, or removed. If done at night, Magefire often ended with a Starflight ceremony. Recipients described Magefire as "the most blissful feeling one can know."
Funerals and other solemn occasions were the time for singing the Hymn to the Lady, a ritual that called forth visions of past arcanists and Servants of Mystery while the living clergy sang a dirge. Mystryl often added other images as oracular guidance, or to have a teaching moment among the attendees.
Centers of WorshipEdit
There were many temples and shrines to Mystryl of all sizes and architectural styles, from natural caves and secluded grottoes, to shrines in private homes, to the grandest of them all: the Temple of All Mysteries, located on the first floating city, Ioulaum's Enclave. Due to rapid growth, the temple was expanded and relocated seven times in the first century of its existence. The final magnificent sanctuary was constructed to be a many-pointed star with some of the points rising up from floor level to make seats for the clergy, while the congregation sat in the lower points. An alter to Mystryl was in the center and the head priest delivered sermons standing before it. Special services were often accompanied by ethereal music, generated magically by attending clerics of course.
Floating enclaves were the sole demesne of the archwizard who created it, and they each set forth their own laws, rules, and guidelines the inhabitants had to follow. It is notable that Ioulaum was the only archwizard to allow a temple to Mystryl on his enclave.
When performing ceremonies and official duties, Mystrylans went bare-headed and wore simply tailored blue robes that were magically enhanced to twinkle like a star-filled sky. Another popular sartorial enchantment was flowing rainbows. In addition, a mantle and a scepter were common accouterments. During the cold season, an additional dark blue cloak was often worn. Hair was typically worn long by both males and females and usually clasped or tied into a pony tail at the nape of the neck. Their holy symbol was typically worn on a ring or necklace. When visiting other cultures, Mystrylans wore armor if necessary or dressed according to local customs if not.
Specialty priests of Mystryl could wear any armor available at the time[note 1] and emblazoned their shields and embroidered their visible clothing with the blue-white star of their faith. While they relied heavily on magical attack and defense, clerics could choose any bludgeoning weapon for melee combat.
Those that worshiped Mystryl were admonished to wield their power responsibly by the following excerpt from the initiation ceremony:
|“|| Love magic for itself, not just as a ready weapon to reshape the Realms to your will. Play with magic and learn how best to wield it, but remember always that magic is an Art, the Gift of the Lady, and that those that can wield it are privileged in the extreme. Conduct yourself with dignity and with forethought while being mindful of this.
Seek always both to learn new magic and create new magic, but experimenting to learn to craft something oneself is better than merely buying scrolls or hiring tutors. Exult more in creation than in hurling spells, and ensure that your creations are shared with others and so outlive you. Those who serve the Lady best and are most favored in her eyes will serve her beyond death as beings who have become one with magic and live on in it forever.
- Collegium Mysterium
- A flock of bards and wandering minstrels sponsored by the church that collected and disseminated information for the church, as well as singing the praises of Mystryl and bringing glory to her name through deeds of heroism and service.
- Mystryl's Eyes
- An organization of rangers that did long-range reconnaissance and occasional espionage on behalf of the church. They were also troubleshooters, eliminating other-worldly creatures such as demons and devils that escaped unfortunate or irresponsible wizards and wreaked havoc on the natural balance.
- Arcanist Guilds
- Very few groups of arcanists were wholehearted Mystryl worshipers, but those that acknowledged and respected the Mother of All Magic affiliated themselves with their local church and gave what assistance they could. Sometimes an arcanist would be privy to magical forums and general scuttlebutt to which a priest would not have access, and so these guilds sometimes spied for the church and acquired samples for the temple's catalogers.
Mystryl's clergy were a varied lot, made up of specialty priests called Dweomerkeepers, regular clerics, bards, arcanists, and some rangers. Just like her followers they were allowed to be of any alignment, although dweomerkeepers were limited to neutral good, lawful neutral, true neutral, and chaotic neutral. All spellcasters and seekers of the arcane were welcome in the church of Mystryl.
All priests of Mystryl could cause their bodies, or parts of their bodies, to glow softly with a blue-white radiance for as long as they wished. This was known as weaveglow. The range of the light was about 5 ft (1.5 m) and just bright enough to read by. This ability was granted to a priest after his or her initiation and Starflight. Weaveglow was not generally known outside of the clergy, and most Mystrylans kept this sign of divine favor a secret.
The church hierarchy and affiliated groups all worked well together with little to no rivalries or animosity. Mystryl herself was an enemy of Kozah and Moander, so it is a safe assumption that the Servants of Mystery worked against the followers of those deities.
After the Fall of Netheril in -339 DR, the population was devastated and the empire broken. Although the new Mystra immediately took over dead Mystryl's portfolio and managed to save three enclaves from crashing to the ground, the people no longer had the protection of isolation by elevation. Fearful of attack by orcs and the dreaded phaerimm, they migrated north and south to establish the states of Anauria, Asram, and Hlondath, named after their former enclaves. The new goddess told her followers the story of Karsus's Folly in dreams and visions in the hopes that future catastrophes could be avoided. Under her lawful neutral influence and the new rules of magic she laid down, the church eventually evolved and adapted to become the church of Mystra which still welcomed all who used, studied, and appreciated magic.[note 2]
- ↑ Netherese history spans more than three millennia so armor technology evolved from hides to plate armor over the course of about 2,300 years. Metal armor better than chain mail was difficult to acquire because the dwarves they traded with were not easily persuaded to create human-sized sets of armor. See pages 30–31 of Netheril: Empire of Magic The Winds of Netheril booklet.
- ↑ There is little source material on the church of Mystra before the Time of Troubles. What little we know is based on the state of the church around the time Midnight ascended to become the third goddess of Magic.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 49. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 12. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 50. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (Encyclopedia Arcana). (TSR, Inc.), p. 16. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (Encyclopedia Arcana). (TSR, Inc.), p. 19. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 7. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (Encyclopedia Arcana). (TSR, Inc.), p. 8. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 31. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 51. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 116. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), Running the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 47. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.