As Above - So Below
The Binder of What is Known, the Lord of Knowledge, Patron of Bards, the Wise God
Greater Power of the Plane of Concordant Opposition
PORTFOLIO: Knowledge, Invention, Inspiration, Bards
ALIASES: Curna (Durpar, Estagund, and Var the Golden)
DOMAIN NAME: Plane of Concordant Opposition/House of Knowledge in Tir na Og
ALLIES: Deneir, Milil, Gond, Lliira, Mystra, Azuth, Lathander
FOES: Talos, Bane (now dead), Mask, Cyric
SYMBOL: A simple, blank scroll
WORSHIPPERS ALIGNMENT: Any
Oghma (OGG-mah) is the most powerful god of Knowledge in Faerûn. Much as Mystra of old was said to sit in judgment of each new spell, Oghma is said to decide whether a new idea would be known to the world or confined to its originator. Deneir and Milil both act as intercessors for Oghma, carrying new information both to him and to those whom Oghma favors. He is on good relations with the artificer god, Gond Wonderbringer, who serves him by giving ideas manifest forms, but their relationship has sometimes become tense due to Gond's proclivity to press for the rapid introduction of new devices throughout Faerûn. In Durpar, Estagund, and Var the Golden, Oghma is worshipped as part of the Adama, the Durparian concept of a world spirit that embraces and enfolds the divine essence that is part of all beings. Here he is known as Curna, goddess of wisdom.
Oghma is a cheerful and wise power whose ability to persuade others to his point of view he puts to endless use. He can be solemn and righteous, but he is more often quietly humorous and quick to smile. His one flaw may be his fondness for his own thoughts; he tends to implement rather convoluted plots that he has worked out first in his own mind rather than to take direct action.
Oghma most often manifests as a blue-green radiance accompanied by distinctive crawling cords of rising, almost menacing music. These are always the same, and only Oghma dare use them. Others who try to imitate the chords are visited by an immediate warning manifestation; if they persist, this is accompanied by a blue ring of flame that encircles and burns them either severely or fatally, depending on the anger of the god. The radiance is always accompanied by a strong sensation of being watched, and Oghma may even speak in an elderly, echoing, cultured voice, using words sparingly to say, for example: "Well said," "'Tis well done," "Desist from thy course, or perish," or "What ye seek is to found in …"
Oghma has also been known to manifest as a blinding white light that may from time to time extrude two blazing eyes of fire, emit beams of coloured force that bestow magical effects, or project hands that can point, carry or wield things. He also uses various golems, translators, electrum dragons, feystags, watchers, and watchghosts to demonstrate his approval or disapproval or to send aid to his faithful.
CLERGY: Clerics, Specialty Priests, Monks, Bards, Wizards
CLERGY'S ALIGNMENT: LN, N, CN
TURN UNDEAD: Cleric: Yes, Specialty Priest: Yes, Monk: No, Bard: No, Wizard: No
COMMAND UNDEAD: Cleric: No, Specialty Priest: No, Monk: No, Bard: No, Wizard: No
All clerics, specialty priests, and monks of Oghma receive religion (Faerûnian) as a bonus nonweapon proficiency.
Oghma is venerated by sages, wizards, and the knowledgeable. He is particularly worshiped by bards, who also show their bended knees to Milil. Anyone seeking information, particularily lost or hidden information, sends a few good words in Oghma's direction and asks for his blessing.
All priests of Oghma are called loremasters. Other clergy include a smatering of bards and wizards. All races are freely admitted to the priesthood. The entire church hierarchy is devoted to the spirit of one man, the Grand Patriarch of Oghma, who until the Time of Troubles made his home in Procampur and was recognized as being the "voice of Oghma." During the Time of Troubles the Grand Patriarch disappeared without a trace. Answers from Oghma have been conflicting and confusing as to what happened to him. The Patriarch's house in Procampur has become a shrine to Oghma. Until the Grand Patriarch's fate is known, the church is running without an ultimate head, and it has split into several factions and subfactions.
The largest faction is the Orthodox Church of Oghma, which does not recognize anyone using the title Patriarch since its hierarchy holds that the Patriarch who vanished during the Time of Troubles is still serving Oghma. Perhaps the Patriarch is on another plane of existence or has ascended to a semidivine state, but nevertheless, until Oghma says otherwise, he is the only rightful Patriarch.
The second largest faction is the Church of Oghma in Sembia, which is distinguished mainly in that it believes a new Patriarch has been appointed and that all knowledge should be tested and proven to be worthy of dissemination before it is given out into general release. This faction is joined in its stance on the church hierarchy, but not on theology, by the Pursuers of Pure Knowledge in Mintar. (The pursuers of Pure Knowledge have met a great many setbacks recently due to Mintar being taken over by Teldorn Darkhope, Lord Knight Imperceptor of the Dark Lord, who claims to serve Bane reborn and has killed all who oppose him openly. The church opposes him, therefore, covertly).
To date, there has been a tenuous cooperation between most regional churches, but a recent rift between the Church of Oghma in Sembia and the Orthodoxy in Cormyr has caused relations to be broken off totally between the church in those nations. Loremasters of the one nation are not welcome in the others' temples and vice versa. The heart of this problem seems to have been caused by assumptions behind the keynote remarks of one Sembian loremaster at a Sembian arts festival in which an extensive Cormyrean Oghmanyte contingent had come to participate.
Acolytes in the service of the Binder are called Seekers, and those of some accomplishments are Senior Seekers. When an acolyte demonstrates clear (good and useful) inspiration, solid service in Oghma's cause, or true loyalty to the god to the discernment of at least two priests of the Wise God; those two priests confirm the acolyte as a true priest of Oghma, bestowing upon him the title of loremaster. Those who rise in the service of Oghma may win various titles in different places and jurisdictions, but the most widely recognized hierarchy of ranks (in ascending order) is: Loremaster, Loremaster Amanuensis, Loremaster Venturer, Loremaster Bold, Lore-Scribe of the God, Wise Anticipator, Inspirator, Inspirator High, Atlar, Higher Atlar, Loremaster High, Loremaster Most High, Eye of Oghma, Divine Hand of Oghma. The Church of Oghma in Sembia and the Pursuers of Pure Knowledge in Mintar use the titles (in ascending order) of: Advocate, Accomplished Advocate, Loremaster of the Twelfth, Loremaster of the Eleventh (and so on up to Loremaster of the Second), Loremaster First, Loremaster High, Learned One, and Patriarch. Clergy address each other as "brother" and "sister" regardless of rank, and a polite form of address for outsiders and lay worshipers to use when dealing with any priest of Oghma is "lady (or lord) loremaster".
Dogma: Knowledge is most supreme, particularly in its raw form, the idea. An idea has no weight but can move mountains. It has no height but it can dominate a nation. It has no mass but it can push aside empires. Knowledge is the greatest tool of humankind, outweighing anything made by mortal hands. Before anything can exist, the idea must exist.
Knowledge is power, and must be used with care – but to hide it away from others is never a good thing. At least once within the passing of each moon, the clergy of Oghma should copy some information of import in written or inscribed form so that the records multiply and knowledge is not lost. Oghmanyte clergy are to stifle no new ideas, no matter how false or crazed they seem, but to let them be heard and considered freely. They must never slay a singer, nor stand by while others do so. They are to listen to new bards when they meet them and sponsor bards when they can.
A typical Oghmanyte charge to novices is: "Spread knowledge whenever it is prudent to do so. Keep no secrets for their own sake. Curb and deny falsehood, rumor, and deceitful accounts and histories whenever you encounter them. Write or copy some lore of value and give it away freely at least once a year. Hide some writings away while distributing others widely so that the written knowledge of Faerûn is larger when you leave life than when you entered it. Sponsor, assist, and teach minstrels, bards, scribes, and recordkeepers whenever you encounter them and perceive a need. Spread truth and knowledge throughout the Realms so that all folk may know more. Never deliver a message falsely or incompletely, but always just as you receive it. Teach any folk who ask how to read and write or as much of these crafts as time and tasks permit – and charge no fee for this teaching."
Day-to-Day Activities: Priests of Oghma have traditionally been of two sorts: those who remain within the temples, monasteries, and abbeys, spending their lives in analysis, reading gathered tomes, and copying out texts and spells as requested and those who go out into the world to find the writings that fill the abbey libraries. There have always been conflicts between the overly fussy pedants among the cloistered and those who chafe under the petty rules and infighting they encounter within abbey walls and prefer to face the real world as one of the wayfaring. Most abbeys of Oghma support themselves by selling maps, scribework, and spell scrolls. Wayfaring clergy are frequently sent armed with spell scrolls to trade and coin to purchase learned works and scrolls with.
Wayfaring priests who run out of abbey funds or who are independent of any abbey make their own writings from observations of Faerûn and make money by teaching, selling maps, writing poems, letters, songs, and lyrics for various patrons, and answering specific questions about Faerûn from their accumulated store of knowledge. Their map copies are always of real maps. A member of Oghma's clergy may sell a map that she or he knows to err in some respects but to be the best available, but can never knowingly sell a false map or a copy of it. An Oghmanyte is expected to publish at least one book and cause it to be delivered to at least three temples of the Wise God. Such books may be some sort of small chapbook, such as a collection of song lyrics overheard from observation of performing minstrels, or they may even be romantic fiction, so long as such works realistically portray an existing society or place in the Realms and so impart some true knowledge to the reader.
Priests of Curna are paid to give advice and draw up contracts, and they may even work directly for rich merchants, giving advice and judging the reactions of opponents of their patron during tough negotiating sessions. They receive tribute for Curna before merchants make important business deals and before the inhabitants of Durpar, Estagund, and Var the Golden embark on new ventures. The priests who work at the Library of Curna also manage and supply the teams of explorers and sages who constantly update that vast storehouse of knowledge.
Holy Days / Important Ceremonies: Midsummer and Shieldmeet are the most sacred days of the Oghmanyte calendar since they are occasions when agreements are made or renewed and many contracts, bonds, and the like are drawn up. However, a priest of Oghma must observe two solemn rituals every day: the Binding and the Covenant. The Binding is a morning service wherein the symbols of Oghma are written in the dirt, in ashes upon a stone altar, or in the mind if a clergy member happens to be shackled or otherwise unable to write, while a silent prayer of loyalty and praise is made to Oghma. The Covenant is an evening service during which a passage from some work of wisdom is read aloud or recited from memory, a song or poem is offered up to Oghma, and some item of knowledge that the clergy member has learned during that day is spoken aloud to the god and to any fellow clergy present.
In monasteries, temples, and abbeys of the Wise God, the rest of the day is typically occupied by readings aloud from great books of lore, philosophy, and history at gatherings held every two hours or so. It should be noted that almost all temples to Oghma have their own rituals that vary from one temple to the next except the Cornerstones of the Day (the Binding and the Covenant) and that many have two different sets of rituals: those for the resident clergy and those for laity and visiting clergy.
Major Centers of Worship: Candlekeep is traditionally the greatest center of learning in Faerûn, and one of the most holy places of Oghma. The Leaves of Learning temple in Highmoon (Deepingdale) is the most recently prominent center of worship., but several temples are vying for supremacy in Oghmanyte worship in Faerûn at present: the Tower of Thought in Selgaunt, where Most High Learned Priest Urdiyvan Eraen leads the Church of Oghma; the gilded Domes of Reason temple in Procampur, where High Loremaster Librarian Estember Orntalar seems to be winning a vicious power struggle to succeed the Patriarch of Procampur as leader of the Orthodoxy; and the House of Many Tomes fortified abbey in upland Impiltur, west of Songhal, where Loremaster Most Exalted Prespaerin Cadathlyn claims to have reached "a new closeness" to the Binder and has taken on the title "Binder of Faerûn" as a mark of his oneness with the god. The Font of Knowledge in Waterdeep is also notable as the most recently completed Grand Temple of Oghma. It was finished in Midsummer of the Year of the Banner (1368DR) and is led by Loremaster Most High Sandrew the Wise.
The Library of Curna in the Curna Mountains (also known as the Mountains of Wisdom) in the Shining South holds the most prominent center of scholarship and worship of Oghma in the guise of Curna. Its contents are said to differ from Candlekeep's in that they focus more on current events, business, and naturalistic studies than Candlekeep's collection, whose strength is by far in historical works.
Affiliated Orders: While the church of Oghma sponsors no military or knightly orders, it spreads its aegis over a countless number of monkish fellowships, scholarly orders of honour, guilds of naturalists and herbalists, and colleges of bardic knowledge. Some of these include the Children of the Passive Voice, an order or learned monks whose members protect many libraries and abbeys; the Order of the Gilt Laurel, an honourary society of historical fiction authors; the Fellowship of the Forest, a naturalist society; and the Companions of the Silver Strings, an order of heroic bards who acted valiantly at risk of their own lives in the service of the church of Oghma. The Oghmanyte faith also has ties with Those Who Harp (the Harpers), an organization working for good against the rise of great powers throughout Faerûn.
Priestly Vestments: All priests of Oghma have the same ceremonial dress – white shirt and trousers with a vest of black and gold brocade. The shirt sleeves are wide, but tied at the wrists. The vests, known as kantlara, depict many glyphs, sigils, runes, and symbols of magical power, arcane meaning, and significance in various realms of Faerûn down through the ages. Such markings are sewn on by the wearer using gold braid. They may be of any sort and size and are displayed on any spot on the garment that the wearer desires. At any time a priest ascends a level, she or he usually sees the symbol to be sewn in a dream vision. Kantlara are thus personal and individual garments.
Priests who lose or are separated from their kantlara are allowed to use purple or crimson vests adorned with a simple scroll of Oghma on the back and the symbol of Chelsinara on both breasts. This symbol, named for an important early priestess of the god, consists of two cupped hands, fingers uppermost and thumbs touching. It means "I learn." It is the badge of Oghma used by all who worship him, both laity and clergy, to denote their membership among the faithful.
A small boxlike hat is worn in ceremonies held on sacred grounds; off of ground Holy to Oghma it is removed. In addition to their other ceremonial garb, the priests of the breakaway Church of Oghma (in Sembia) always wear a harlequin's mask.