Say what you will about the Forgotten Realms, but one of my favorite aspects of a setting stems from their pantheons. Faerun has a plethora of unique and exciting deities with plots and schemes that play in the backdrop of the world. One of my favorite Forgotten Realms supplement was D&D 3rd Edition’s Faiths and Pantheon. It was a vast tome that contained details about each deity worshipped in Toril, from their backstories to dogma and religious practices, to even the expectations and beliefs of their clergy. Additionally, the book also gave stat blocks for the principal deities and introduced a means and method to stat your own god. A hobby I personally enjoyed for many years as the editions of the game progressed.
When I saw Faiths of the Forgotten Realms announced and appear on the DMsGuild, I was delighted to see a modernization of the original Faiths and Pantheon I adored back in the early days of my D&D experience. It’s a great resource that I personally believe this product is a great spiritual successor from the original supplement.
You can purchase your copy of Faiths of the Forgotten Realms here.
This is a considerable supplement, almost 200 pages, sporting over 50 cleric and paladin options for the most iconic deities in the Forgotten Realms that were featured in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. Additionally, there are character options such as backstory events that led your characters to their faiths along with material discussing the significant holy days within the Faerunian calendar. In such a divinely relevant setting as the Forgotten Realms, these are facets that often get overlooked or even forgotten in some instances. Have these elements instill such an enriched immersion for even non-divine spellcasters. In Faerun, many do not belong to a religious order but are aware of the presence of the many deities that house within the pantheon. It reminds me of Ed Greenwood’s Spellfire trilogy, wherein how mercenary companies many occasionally make prayers to gods such as Tempus, Myrkul, and Mask for success and protection. Tying those divine backstory moments can still be quite useful and impact in your stories in the Realms. After all, deities are always in search of worth new champions and chosens.
Close to 180 new spells divided between the deities, over a dozen new magic items, and even iconic artifacts from the Forgotten Realms’ history. New spells for various faithful and zealots, I can easily see even wizards of a faith gain access to some of these spells. These can be great quest rewards or connections for a mage with their faith (especially if they’re not Mystra or Azuth based). While it’s not stated, some of these spells may even be excellent choices for Rangers as well, who sometimes need a bit more versatility in their spell choices. It’s something to consider though I am unsure if that was the original intent of the writers and the creatives.
There are descriptions about all of the faiths’ respective holy texts, which make for significant quest objects, rewards, and or even adventure hooks. I felt that entries for the sacred books should’ve been included in the first chapter about the faiths instead. My one organizational criticism.
Lots of magic items to help with a faithful character, but also artifacts with the new Overwhelming property. I love this property, I’ve never been a fan of the random detriments and benefits tables featured for artifacts in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. I get why Wizards of the Coast incorporate them, but I’m still not a fan of them. Anywho, there are some iconic artifacts featured for some of the Realms more prominent deities such as the Cyric’s Cyranshad, Mask’s Stealthwhisper, or Myrkul’s Crown of Horns. These religious relics can undoubtedly be the focal point of campaigns and major story arcs.
Expanding on the divine backgrounds for a moment: most clerics, paladins, and divine soul sorcerers have an epiphany or moment wherein an event would change their lives and turn them towards the devotion of a divine being such as a deity. An example would be Moses with the burning bush, for instance. Whatever pivotal moment, this marked your character as an emissary for your god. Many D&D players may have chosen the acolyte background, but honestly, anyone (at any point in their lives) can join the clergy of a faith. For example, a Druid of Silvanus may have heeded to nature’s call as a young farmer and became a warden of maintaining the balance between civilization and nature.
The different faiths have a variety of significant religious holidays with various temples and shrines, some religions have a regional significance which continues to curtail your backstory to enrich it and bring layers of depth. The sweet nugget (for the lore buff in me) has to be the names for the various followers of a particular faith, such as followers of Cyric are called Cyricists. Such material was referenced mainly in novels and supplements from previous editions, this attention to detail had already boosted my confidence for this product.
Domains and Oaths
The design choice of unique clerics for each deity helped accentuate the distinct variations between each god. For example, a cleric of Chauntea versus a cleric of Silvanus is vastly different in their priorities regarding nature, where one focuses on agriculture and the other the wild, unforgiving aspects of life. These subtle distinctions help define the different faiths where you will find plenty of overlap, this is the tension between deities and their coveting of portfolios. The mort portfolios a deity wields, the more worshippers they have access to, though some portfolios embody such broad emotions and ideals such as hate, love, greed, and kindness.
Each deity has a comes with a specific Cleric domain, a Paladin oath, and an occasional Ranger archetype. Some iconic roles and features are seen from earlier editions of the game, the cleric domain for Mask is essentially the Master of Masks from Complete Scoundrel. However, there are some new takes on other canonical groups/sects of the different clergy. Some flesh out the priesthood of these faiths, while a few missed the mark for me. It’s more fandom-related in criticism, so I won’t bore you with it, but overall, the execution was undoubtedly monumental.
I enjoyed this product, it was certainly a great callback and spiritual successor of Faiths and Pantheons from the 3rd Edition heyday. Some deities never made a return to the Realms and I would’ve loved to explore more on that, such as Shanadakul (I am currently writing an adventure series to explores the deity’s return to Faerun, which can be found here). Otherwise, this product lives up to being a great supplement for exploring the many deities and faiths within Faerun. Most of the authors and contributors returned to tackle The Faithful of Eberron, featuring many of Keith Baker’s unique faiths in the iconic arcanepunk noir setting.
If there’s ever a sequel supplement exploring more of the Realm’s divinity, there are still the racial pantheons to explore for the elves, drow, dwarves, orcs, halflings, and gnomes. Faerun is renowned for its plethora of deities and all of them are vying for power and consolidation of followers. It’s a constant soap drama. Faiths of the Forgotten Realms is a fantastical companion for the 5th Edition era of the Forgotten Realms. I highly recommend it!
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