The Starry Gnosis was a minor artifact of Shadow Weave magic imbued by the goddess Shar with powers of mental domination. Purported to be a relic of the goddess Mystra instead, it was used to abduct petitioners at the false Temple of Mystra in Wheloon in the Year of Lightning Storms, 1374 DR.
The Starry Gnosis was a crystal sphere about the size of a grapefruit (3.9–5.9 in, or 10–15 cm). It had a dark inner core that no light could penetrate, yet tiny points of light twinkled like stars at the edge of this dark heart. When the full power of the Starry Gnosis was called upon, these stars disappeared as if swallowed up, until it was ready to use again three days' hence. It was rather like a crystal ball gone dark.
When the Starry Gnosis was held and the command phrase "Knowledge lies between the stars" was uttered, it produced a terrible bewitching effect on all within 30 feet (9.1 meters) who were not allied with the bearer. Those whose wills faltered in the face of it would struggle to strike the holder of the Starry Gnosis. The dark orb would continue to assault their minds and wear down their will to retaliate, no matter how far they fled from it. The false priests of the Temple of Mystra devised a special three-day long ritual, the so-called Mystra's Sacred Trust, to wear down petitioners' minds and so guarantee that they would succumb to the Starry Gnosis.
Those who could not shake off the bewitching effect had their wills broken, their minds dominated and beholden to the one who held the Starry Gnosis, akin to the dominate person spell. They were bound to obey that person's commands for nine days, and would still struggle to attack them, should they even get the chance. However, if the orb changed hands, then the victims would be forced to obey their new master.
This power could only be invoked once every three days.
The Gnosis had another, more mundane power: holding the orb bestowed on the bearer the power of darkvision, out to the typical distance of 60 feet (18 meters). This required no activation and no time to recharge, but it had to remain in hand.
The Starry Gnosis also carried a curse or a cost to an unqualified wielder. As a thing of the Shadow Weave, one had to have mastered Shadow Weave magic to use it in any way, else their wits and senses would be immediately assaulted. This would happen every day they attempted to use it.
Furthermore, if one attempted to use the Starry Gnosis who did not worship Shar, then, before the domination effect came into play, it would fail catastrophically. It would crack and explode, unleashing a burst of intensely cold shadow energy, similar to a cold black fireball, over all in 5 feet (1.5 meters).
If the Starry Gnosis was destroyed, then all those bewitched by it would be freed.
The crystal orb was once a jewel set into an immense statue of Shar standing in the Temple of Old Night in Calimport. At the direction of the priestess Esvele Graycastle, it was plucked out and imbued by the goddess Shar herself with divine power, turning it into a powerful tool of mental domination.
It became key to Esvele's plots in Cormyr and the Vast Swamp. The Starry Gnosis became the resident relic in the altar of the false Temple of Mystra in Wheloon in the Year of Lightning Storms, 1374 DR, headed by Lady Naedaenya Arthas. The false priests devised a fake ritual, called Mystra's Sacred Trust, designed to lure in magic-using petitioners and over three grueling days erode their willpower and make them more susceptible to the Starry Gnosis, alleged to grant secret knowledge of magic. The most common words of the endless daily chants were the command phrase of the orb: "Knowledge lies between the stars". Starweaver Deinyn Fembrys presented the Starry Gnosis to the petitioner at the climax of the ritual, dominating their minds so they might be abducted and sent off to the Vast Swamp to be sacrificed.
The false priests called the Starry Gnosis the "secret knowledge", alleged to answer all one's questions. Despite what they claimed, there was no known holy relic or artifact sacred to Mystra called the Starry Gnosis. It might be supposed to be unique to a certain Mystran sect, who'd kept it quiet for some reason. Something going by the name "Starry Gnosis" was mentioned in some religious texts, but these had no connection to the faith of Mystra. It was, of course, a total fabrication.
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 156. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 12, 14. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 28. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
- ↑ Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 21. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 156. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.