Contest of Wills
Time of Troubles
The Time of Troubles, also known as the Arrival, the Godswar and the Avatar Crisis, was a cataclysmic time period in the chronology of Faerûn. Taking place during 1358 DR, the Year of Shadows, the Time of Troubles was a period during which the deities of Faerûn were forced to walk the earth in their mortal avatar forms. Several major deities died during the Time of Troubles (see Deaths, Ascensions, and Resurrections) and a handful of mortals rose to divinity.
The Time of Troubles was precipitated by an attempt by the gods Bane and Myrkul to steal the Tablets of Fate from the overdeity Ao. Angry at the gods for their habitual pursuit of power and negligence toward their mortal faithful, Lord Ao relegated every god (except for the guardian god Helm, selected to protect the gates to the heavens) to walk among their followers on the earth. The immediate effects of this edict were threefold. First, divine magic (spells granted to clerics by their patron deities) ceased to function altogether unless the cleric was within one mile of their deity’s avatar. Second, arcane magic (a force channeled from the Weave by wizards and sorcerers) ceased to be regulated by its steward, Mystra and became dangerously unpredictable. Third, the characteristically immortal and aloof deities were now vulnerable (though still devastatingly powerful) and dwelling among the civilizations of Faerûn
Deaths, ascensions and resurrections
The Time of Troubles was a time of significant turnover among the gods of the Faerûnian Pantheon. Several deities were “destroyed” (see below) during this period. The following are deities who were killed or incapacitated during the Time of Troubles:
- Bane, greater god of tyranny, strife and hatred, a member of the Dead Three, was slain on Eleasias 13 in a climactic battle with the demigod Torm in battle outside of Tantras.
- Bhaal, intermediate god of murder, was slain by the young mortal Cyric with the sword Godsbane. However, Bhaal had foreseen his own death, and had populated Faerûn with his progeny, the Bhaalspawn, in a bid to resurrect himself, as explored in the Baldur’s Gate series.
- Gilgeam, demigod and king of Unther, was slain by Tiamat.
- Herne, a corrupted avatar of Malar worshiped in the High Forest was hunted and killed by Malar himself who then subsumed his worship.
- Ibrandul, a lesser god of caverns, was destroyed by Shar, who still masquerades as the dead deity. The absorption of caverns and the Underdark into Shar’s portfolio has attracted the wrath of Lolth who desires dominion over these realms.
- Moander, demigod of decay, was slain by Finder Wyvernspur.
- Myrkul, greater god of the dead and another of the Dead Three, was killed in a duel with Midnight, a mortal woman wielding the powers of Mystra, in the skies over the city of Waterdeep.
- Mystra, greater goddess of magic and among the most powerful of the gods, was in turn destroyed when she attempted to bypass Helm at the Celestial Staircase.
- Ramman, Untheric lesser god of war and storms, was slain by Hoar, but his portfolio was stolen by Anhur of the Mulhorandi pantheon.
- Tiamat’s three-headed incarnation was slain by Gilgeam. Her essence was divided among three dragons, the red Tchazzar, the blue Gestaniius, and the green Skuthosiin. Tchazzar consumed the other two and was subsumed by Tiamat. The Dragon Queen then destroyed Gilgeam late in the Godswar.
- The Red Knight, a little-known servant of Tempus, appeared as an avatar, and possessed the mortal Kaitlin Tindall Bloodhawk. She led a group of adventurers called the Order of the Red Falcon in battle against a horde of monsters in Tethyr.
- Torm, demigod and patron deity of paladins, was annihilated by Bane with his dying breath. He was later resurrected by Ao because he died fulfilling the obligations of his portfolio.2
- Waukeen, lesser goddess of wealth, attempted to reclaim her divinity during the Time of Troubles, leaving her portfolio in the care of Lliira, but was imprisoned in the Argent Palace, enslaved to the demon prince Graz’zt. It would be more than 10 years before she would finally be freed by adventurers, revitalizing her clergy.
However, death is anything but permanent in the Forgotten Realms, and many of these deities have in some way circumvented their own destruction:
- After Bane’s death, his portfolio was divided among the newly anointed god Cyric and Bane’s own half-demonic son Iyachtu Xvim. Upon the death of one of the greatest forces of evil in existence, all of Faerûn breathed a sigh of relief; however, in 1372 DR, Bane was resurrected, destroying Iyachtu Xvim and reestablishing his church.
- Bhaal had already foreseen his own demise and had populated the world with scores of his own progeny in past years, all as part of a grand scheme for his own reincarnation. This master plan is the basis of the Baldur’s Gate computer game series.
- Myrkul infused the sinister artifact the Crown of Horns with the remnants of his essence, and teleported it away. While its location is unknown, the semi-sentient artifact is presumably fomenting a plan for Myrkul’s resurrection.
In Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, it was revealed that Myrkul also left behind a curse called the Spirit-eater, actually the half-destroyed soul of one of his Chosen.
- Though Ao had decreed that none of the gods fallen during the Time of Troubles should be reinstated, a complex convergence of factors regarding Torm’s death led the overgod to make a single exception in his case, resurrecting him and elevating him to the status of lesser god.
- After a decade of isolation from her followers, Waukeen was freed from her prison in 1371 DR by a band of adventurers, and has resumed her place in the heavens.
Furthermore, a selection of mortals were chosen by Lord Ao to ascend to the heavens to fill the void left by those deities who died:
- Cyric, a petty, sadistic mercenary, slew Bhaal with the sword Godsbane (actually the god Mask in disguise). After the end of the Time of Troubles, he was granted control of nearly all the portfolios of the Dead Three by Ao, making him briefly the most powerful of the gods.
- Kelemvor, a sullen adventurer and companion of Cyric and Mystra, was killed by Cyric with Godsbane, but his soul was hidden by Mask and unintentionally gained the portfolio of death by defeating Cyric with the help of Godsbane (Mask in the form of a sword) in the Year of the Banner (1368 DR), ten years after the Time of Troubles. He has since striven to change the horrifying image of death promoted by his predecessors.
After her death, the goddess Mystra entrusted her essence with the young mage Midnight, who ascended after the Time of Troubles as the new Mystra.
- The exceptional adventurer Finder Wyvernspur absorbed and adapted Moander’s portfolio, and is now the patron of the cycle of life.
Finally, Lord Ao lifted the barrier that prevented the Mulhorandi god-kings from reuniting with their divine selves on the Outer Planes. The physical incarnations of the Mulhorandi gods departed Faerûn and left governance of the empire to mortal rulers under their guidance.
Aside from those slain or risen to divinity, several deities’ avatars appeared all over Toril.
- Aerdrie Faenya and Shaundakul initiated a romantic relationship.
- Anhur appeared in Serôs. Battled and defeated Sekolah in the Alamber Sea.
- Azuth kept a portion of Mystra’s divine essence safe.
- The avatars of Clangeddin and Labelas fought all over Ruathym with Labelas winning the conflict.
- Deep Duerra masqueraded as the regent of Underspires, creating an elite army that went on to attack Ironfang, Undraeth and expanded the city’s territory.
- Eldath spent a lot of time with Mielikki and the two were seen embracing as sisters.
- Garagos Slaughtered many people in Westgate’s harbour district before wading into the sea.
- Gond washed up on the shore of Lantan where he was quickly named patron deity of the region.
- Gwaeron Windstrom hunted Malar through The north when he appeared there.
- Hoar retrieved a cache of weapons from under Thaymount (while avoiding the schemes of a Red Wizard called the Masked One) with which he armed and mobilized the army of Akanax to attack Cimbar, Soorenar and Luthcheq. This sparked a greater civil war in Chessenta until they rallied behind Hoar to attack Unther and the church of Ramman.
- Ilsensine appeared in Oryndoll, inspiring citizens to great levels of ingenuity and the creation of the religious ‘Venerator’ faction.
- Lolth briefly appeared in Menzoberranzan, granting Yvonnel Baenre the power to destroy House Oblodra after the crisis.
- Milil stayed in his temple north of the city of Athkatla.
- Nobanion fought and defeated Malar in the Gulthmere Forest.
- Sekolah appeared in Serôs.
- Selvetarm Rampaged through the drow city of Eryndlyn, attacking followers of Vhaeraun & Ghaunadaur until their combined cults drove him off into the wild Underdark.
- Set forged an alliance of convenience with Tiamat after her resurrection.
- Shar appeared in Calimport to subsume Sharess but was foiled. She later went to Waterdeep, imprisoning and impersonating her twin sister Selûne. The Moonmaiden was eventually freed by her followers and Shar retreated into Undermountain.
- Shiallia worked to undo the damage Malar had caused during his hunts, forging an alliance with Gwaeron Windstrom.
- Siamorphe was rumoured to have manifested in the Assumbar villa in Waterdeep, protecting many North Ward and Sea Ward buildings from Myrkul’s Legion.
- After battling Ubtao in Chult, Sseth entered a deep sleep. A Sarrukh priest trapped Sseth on the Abyss and prevented him from waking up, allowing Set to usurp Sseth’s worship.
- Sune saved Sharess from assassination at the hands of Shar and then freed her from the influence and corruption of the Lady of Loss.
- Tempus appeared in Battledale and Mistledale. He also slew a drow lich named Malyk in the Underdark beneath Shadowdale.
- The avatar of Tymora appeared in the Lady’s House, a temple devoted to her worship in Arabel. She protected the city during the crisis.
- Tyr was blinded by Ao’s rage at the theft of the Tablets of Fate and then chose not to heal his eyes.
- Umberlee wandered the seas surrounding the Pirate Isles attacking any pirates she met with storms. She also secretly appeared in the Trackless Sea after foreseeing the return of Iakhovas to make Slarkrethel her seraph.
- Urdlen attacked several rural gnome communities, leaving the curse of lycanthropy in his wake which turned the survivors into weremoles.
Dates of Note
- The first three books of the Avatar series occur from Kythorn 1 to Marpenoth 15.
- Ao cast the gods down in the early evening of Kythorn 15.
- Helm destroyed Mystra for attempting to ascend the Celestial Stairway on Midsummer.
- Bane and the Celestial Stairway were destroyed on Flamerule 18.
- Myrkul brought back Bane into Fzoul Chembryl on Flamerule 25.
- Bane and Torm destroyed each other on Eleasias 13.
- Cyric slew Bhaal on Eleint 26.
- Myrkul was slain by Midnight on Marpenoth 15.
- Midnight and Cyric ascended to godhood on Marpenoth 15.
- Wild and Dead-magic zones, areas where magic behaves erratically or ceases to function, are a lasting effect of the Time of Troubles.
- The stricture that all dwarven priests must be the same gender as their god is relaxed.