PORTFOLIO: Magic, spells, the Weave
ALIASES: Midnight, Mystryl, the Hidden One (Rashemen), The Lady of Mysteries, the Mother of All Magic, Our Lady of Spells
DOMAIN NAME: Eronia/Dweomerheart
DOMAINS: Good, Illusion, Knowledge, Magic, Rune, Spell
ALLIES: Azuth, Kelemvor, Selûne, Oghma, Deneir, Milil
FOES: Cyric, Bane, Talos
SYMBOL: A circle of nine stars, with a red mist rising toward (or flowing from) its center or a circle of seven blue-white stars, or (older) a single blue-white star
WORSHIPER ALIGNMENT: Any
FAVORED WEAPON: Seven whirling stars (shuriken)
Mystra (MISS-trah) is the goddess of magic and with that the goddess of possibilities, which makes her arguably the most powerful deity in Faerûn and possibly throughout Realmspace. She is said to have taught the first spellcaster of the Realms, and to have enabled many of the races to use magic. She supposedly weighs and judges each new spell or magical item to determine whether it should be permitted into the Realms. She is most venerated by wizards and those who use magic or magical items in their daily use. She differs from Azuth in that Azuth is the god of wizards (as to a much lesser degree, all spellcasters), while Mystra is the goddess of the essential force that makes all spellcasting possible. She provides and tends the Weave, the conduit to enable mortal spellcasters and magical crafters to safely access the raw force that is magic. Mystran advisers are common in Azuthian churches, and vice versa.
Mystra is a busy and devoted deity. She provides and tends to the Weave, the conduit that allows mortal spellcasters and users of magic to safely access the raw force that is magic. Essentially, Mystra is the Weave. As the goddess of magic, she is also the deity of the possibilities that magic can bring about, making her one of the most powerful beings involved with Toril. Although she is good and has the ability to prevent the creation of new spells and magic items that her philosophy opposes, she rarely exerts this ability unless the creation could threaten the Weave or the balance of magic in general
Mystra’s church preserves magical lore in secret and hidden places so that magic would continue and flourish in the future even if the dominant races of Faerun were to fall. Its members also search out those skilled in magic or who havc the potential to use it. Her clerics are encouraged to explore magical theory and create new spells and magic items. Sites dedicated to the goddess are enhanced by the Weave to allow any spell cast by her clerics while in one of those sites to have one metamagic effect without the requisite need to use a higher-level spell slot (the metamagic effect ends if the target of the spell leaves the site).
She is aided in her work by Azuth, Dornal the Watcher, and by her Chosen: Elminster, Khelben “Blackstaff” Arunsun, and the Seven Sisters. (The powers of the Chosen are discussed extensively in The Seven Sisters accessory.) Mystra is also served by the Magister, a title borne by a single mortal worker of the magical arts chosen by victory in one-on-one spell combat to be champion of magic. The Magister is also one of the Chosen of Mystra.
Mystra’s typical manifestation is as a blue-white, pulsing glow on items, beings, or places that the goddess wishes to draw attention to, such as a hidden door or item. She also appears as a slender, graceful, disembodied human female hand outlined in blue-white motes of light that points, gestures, writes, inscribes lines on stone with one finger—often writing the tomb inscription of a powerful dead mage as an obscure clue—or unleashes spells.
Mystra has also been known to use agathinons (in natural and magical item forms); devas; maruts; light aasimons; einheriar (former wizards and other prominent users of magic); hope, faith, and courage incarnates; radiant mephits; guardinals of all sorts, hollyphants; gem and metallic dragons (including steel and mercury dragons); pseudodragons; selkies; bluejays; sparrowhawks; white cats, dogs, donkeys, horses, pegasi, unicorns, and mules (all with blue or mismatched eyes); blue and clear gemstones of all sorts; rainbow tourmalines; amarathas; rogue stones; beljurils; and small creatures composed of translucent magical force to demonstrate her approval or disapproval or to send aid to her faithful.
All clerics and specialty priests of Mystra receive religion (Faerûnian) as a bonus nonweapon proficiency. All priests of Mystra are granted weaveglow (see below) upon their initiation.
Most worshipers of the Lady of Mysteries are human, but all natives of Faerûn who seek to become powerful in magic without benefit of divine aid must at least appease the goddess with sacrifices. (Burning items that have temporarily been enchanted with a spell is the easiest way to do this.) Wizards, especially good wizards, hold her name in special veneration, even if they primarily worship Azuth or some other deity.
All wielders of magic and seekers after arcane lore of any race are welcome in the service of Mystra. The hierarchy of the Mystran faith is wide and varied, separating into orders concentrating on one form of magical energy or another. Clerics, specialty priests, wizards, and bards can all he found in its ranks without regard to experience level or origin. The general rule of the Mystran faith is that talent and ability for the job outweighs social rank or legendary feats. Only those clergy members who gain their spells directly from a higher power gain their spells directly from the goddess, but all are welcome within the church’s hierarchy. Relations between the various orders and subgroups of the faith are very good. The priests of Mystra are known as Servants of Mystery. Higher level priests, both those with title and lands and legendary adventuring priests, are called Ladies or Lords of Mystery. Titles within the faith vary from temple to temple and follow no standard form across the whole of the church, though most temples are rigidly self-consistent.
Mystran temples can be structures of almost any size or style, and some shrines are natural carves or special grottoes. Through the grace of the goddess, Mystran priests who stand in a place sacred to Mystra can cast spells for the maximum possible damage, duration, or extent of effect (their choice of which). Such places include all Mystran temples and shrines, and most private spellcasting chambers.
All priests of Mystra can cause their own flesh—all of it, or specific areas, such as a hand—to glow at will with a soft, blue-white radiance as a boon from Mystra. This radiance, known as weaveglow, is enough to read by or to allow a priest to clearly see items and surroundings within 5 feet. Most Mystrans keep this sign of the favor of the goddess secret from nonbelievers. As something mysterious, it is more useful, allowing them, for example, to feign affliction or magical attack. Weaveglow is granted to priests after their initiation, which is often a Starflight ceremony.
Dogma: Choice, decision, and knowledge, leavened with a healthy dose of good for the most individuals, are the hallmarks of Mystra’s faith. Magic is great power, and it brings with it great responsibility. Mystra’s clergy are given the following charge upon aspiring to the faith:
”Love magic for itself. Do not treat it just as a weapon to reshape the world to your will. True wisdom is knowing when not to use magic. Strive to use magic less as your powers develop, for often the threat or promise of its use outstrips its actua! performance. Magic is Art, the Gift of the Lady, and those who wield it are privileged in the extreme. Conduct yourself humbly, not proudly, while being mindful of this. Use the Art deftly and efficiently, not carelessly and recklessly. Seek always to learn and create new magic.”
Day-to-Day Activities: Mystran clergy work hard to preserve all magical lore in secret libraries, private safeholds, well-guarded research laboratories, and small, hidden stashes so that magic flourishes in the future regardless of what befalls the thinking races of Faerûn or the powers of the planes. Mystrans also search out beings skilled in spell use, seeking to keep watch on the identities, powers, and behavior of individuals likely to become magic-wielders of importance.
Not everyone can find old magic of note, but all clergy of Mystra can devise their own new magic upon gaining sufficient experience, and they are expected to do so. In this way magical study remains a growing, vibrant thing, and magic does not merely become a handy power to serve rulers and engineers as a tool to tame the Realms, but remains a thing of wonder.
Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: In Waterdeep, the church of Mystra celebrates Gods’ Day on the 15th of Marpenoth, the anniversary of Midnight’s elevation to divinity as the new Mystra, with a huge festival centered around the House of Wonder that ends in magical fireworks that go long into the night. This holiday is being gradually adopted by shrines and temples of Mystra throughout Faerûn.
On the whole, though, the worship of Mystra tends to be a personal thing rather than a series of calendar rituals. For some mages whom the goddess counts as devout believers, it never goes beyond a whispered prayer of thanks to her with each spell they cast coupled with some thought as to the moral consequences of the use of this or that spell. For Mystra, that is enough. The goddess gains both delight and strength, however, from beings who do more in reverence to her. Two ceremonies of personal significance stand out: Starflight and Magefire.
Starflight is often used as an initiation when an individual joins the priesthood of Mystra or a celebration when two worshipers are wed. It is a special ceremonial cooperative magic worked by several priests that empowers one of the faithful to fly so long as stars are visible in the sky. This can make long journeys easy, provide a joyous change of pace, serve as a special means of looking over the land, achieve privacy for important discussions, place one of the faithful a safe distance away from precious things in order to try hurling spectacular spells, or provide a very special beginning for one’s marriage.
Magefire is renewal; it is the exciting feeling of great magical power surging through one’s body, blazing out as flickering blue fire as it spills forth, cleansing and renewing. With enough clergy powering it, this cooperative ceremonial magic can heal all sorts of fell conditions. Mystrans describe it as “the most blissful feeling one can know.” It is spectacular to watch. The Mystran to he affected lies down on the ground and the circle of celebrants pours power into the worshiper—until his or her body, blazing with blue fire, slowly rises to hang in midair above those fueling the ceremony, humming and crackling with the power of the magic surging through it. Magefire often ends in a Starflight ceremony, provided the celebrants intone the correct incantation.
The Hymn to the Lady is a solemn ritual performed at funerals and magemoots, that calls up visions of dead mages and Mystran clergy as a plainsong dirge is intoned by the living clergy present. Mystra often uses these visions to insert her own guiding scenes. A modified Magefire ceremony may be employed at the end of the Hymn to raise the honored dead aloft into a floating pyre on high.
Major Centers of Worship: On the wooded eastern verge of Elventree stands a ruined, overgrown stone hall known as the House of Mysteries. It is reportedly the strongest place of power to Mystra in all Faerûn (along with the nearby Harper refuge, the House of the Harp).
Those who enter the House of Mysteries say that the inside is like a sound-eating dark void where soft voices whisper and glowing, varicolored motes of light drift about. No spell can illuminate this darkness, and out of it comes the Voice of the Goddess (or a senior devotee) answering questions with cryptic advice, identifying items apparently without need of spells, and (rarely) altering supplicants with spells that come “out of nowhere.” Word of such puissant divine aid and guidance has spread swiftly across Faerûn, and wizards from distant realms indeed have come to Elventree in search of grandeur.
The largest temple to Mystra in all the Realms is located in Mt. Talath in Halruaa. It occupies an entire cavern complex, and its high priestess, Lady of Mystery Greila Sontoin, is very old but still capable of performing powerful ceremonies and casting mighty spells. The grand temple of the complex is open to all who want to worship, but the storerooms and libraries are only open to Halruaans of proven good intentions and of Mystra’s faith. Non-Halruaans are sometimes admitted to certain libraries and halls deemed to contain nonsensitive items and reference works, but usually such admittance is at the price of a very steep admission fee.
Affiliated Orders: Most wizards and bards in the Mystran church are members of the clergy and belong to no special order, though the church of Mystra has close ties with Those Who Harp (the Harpers), an organization working for good and against the rise of great powers throughout Faerûn. Those bards who are not clergy members belong to the Children of the Starry Quill and often work as information gatherers and rumormongers for the church or spend part of their time in designated libraries unearthing magical knowledge and then preserving it for posterity. Some members of the Starry Quill are also Harpers.
The church also sponsors a knightly order of paladins and a small order of rangers. The paladins, the Knights of the Mystic Fire, are granted their spells by Mystra. They often accompany members of the clergy on quests to locate lost hoards of ancient magic and also form the cadre from which the leadership for the small groups of armed forces who guard Mystra’s larger temples and workshops is drawn. The rangers, known as the Order of the Shooting Star, also receive their spells from Mystra. They serve as long-range scouts and spies for the church and also deal with magical threats that threaten the natural order of things, such as unloosed tanar’ri and baatezu and creatures born of irresponsible wizardly experimentation.
Priestly Vestments: The ceremonial garb of Mystran priests is simple blue robes that are sometimes trimmed with white. They are accented by a cloak of deep blue in colder climates. Some form of headgear is required, though this may range from a simple blue skullcap for the scholarly orders of the Sword Coast North to wide, ornate, blue hats and helms in southern lands.
Adventuring Garb: In the field, priests of Mystra wear armor and bear the new symbol of Mystra on their shields as a display of their faith. If armor is inappropriate, they dress in the fashion of the land they inhabit appropriate for the inclement weather.