Bane, The Black Hand

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Bane, The Black Hand

Post  Fox on Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:26 am

The Black Lord, The Black Hand, The Lord of Darkness

Greater Deity

Symbol - Green rays squeezed forth from a black fist. (Old orthadox icon was a Black Gauntlet inset with a bloodshot, crimson eye.)

Home Plane - The Barrens of Doom & Despair.

Alignment - Lawful Evil

Portfolio - Strife, Hatred, Tyranny, Fear

Worshippers - Conquerors, Evil Fighters & Monks, Tyrants, Wizards.

Cleric Alignments - LN, LE, NE

Domains - Evil, Destruction, Hatred, Law, Tyranny

Favoured Weapon - Morningstar

The twisted halls of Zhentil Keep echo with malign invocations chanted in shadowy temples throughout Faerun. Bane, the Lord of Darkness, has conquered death itself, returning to the world to give dark inspiration to a thousand intrigues, to foment fear & hatred in civilised lands, and to reassure the common mortal that tyranny, though it may suffer occaisional defeat, will never die.

Though Bane transcended mortality centuries ago, his primary goal remains notably human - he seeks nothing short of the total domination of Faerun. When his servants sit upon the throne of every land, when commoners serve their masters in fear for their very lives & when altruism & hope have been erased from the world, then will Bane rest. Until that dark day, however, the Black Hand has eternity to hatch demented plots & vile intrigues. Eventually, he will rule all Faerun, but there's no hurry. Getting there will be half the fun.

Bane prefers to keep to the shadows, allowing his servants to carry out his intricate plans. On the rare occaision in which he appears, he takes the form of a shadowy humanoid figure - often bare-chested, sometimes wearing dark armour & a stylish black cloak streaked with red. His right hand, invariably protected by a jeweled metal gauntlet, is all the weapon he needs to dispatch the few foes brave (or foolhardy) enough to attack him. He has no tolerance for failure & seldom thinks twice about submitting even a loyal servant to rigorous tortures to ensure complete obedience to his demanding, regimented doctrine. Though possessed of an unforgiving wrath when aroused, Bane is slow to anger, existing in a perpetual state of controlled burn.

Bane's tyranny is known throughout the continent, and his is the image most seen as the face of evil. When news of Bane's destruction during the Time of Troubles made its way throughout Faerun, no fewer than twenty-seven nations declared national festivals of celebration & thanks-giving. The commoner sees Bane's clerics as petty would-be dictators unafraid to spread their influence & agenda. The adventurer sees the clergy as constant interlopers & enemies, agents of a rigid, evil philosophy who side with monsters, devils & savage humanoids to further their wicked ends. Canny nobles glimpse the truest threat, that some of their peers pay homage to the Black Lord to gain through guile & subterfuge what soldiers cannot conquer by force.

Clerics of Bane pray for spells at midnight. Their religion recognises no official holidays, though servants give thanks to the Black Hand before & after major battles or before a particularly important act of subterfuge. Senior clerics often declare holy days at a moment's notice, usually claiming to act upon divine inspiration granted to them in dreams. Rites include drumming, chanting & the sacrifice of intelligent beings, usually upon an altar of black basalt or obsidian. Of late, clerics of Cyric have become preferred sacrifice, though old favourites such as Paladins, unicorns, children & Celestials remain popular with traditionalists. Clerics of Bane most commonly multiclass as fighters, Monks, Blackguards or Dreadmasters. Those assosciated with the Cult of the Dragon often multiclass as Wearers of Purple.

History & Relationships;

Even as a human, Bane wanted nothing more than to become the most feared, respected tyrant the world had ever known. However, doing so would require an infusion of arcen power greater than usually accorded to mortals. Hence, the calculating despot joined forces with the similarly driven humans Bhaal & Myrkul in a pact of mutual assistance that would end in the apotheosis of the entire trio. The three villains adventured across the breadth of Faerun, defeated countless foes, slew one of the Seven Lost Gods & travelled throughout the Lower Planes before achieving that goal. They benefited from the generosity (Or, as some suggest,indifference) of the dispassionate Jergal, who had become bored with his role as patron of strife, death & the dead. Each gained one third of Jergal's portfolio & dominated their area of concern for centuries.

However, even complete control over strife was not enough for Bane, whos desire for supremacy led him, in 1358 DR, to once again team with Mykrul. The pair stole the Tablets of Fate, inscribed by Lord Ao to outline the roles of the deities of Toril. This precipitated the calamitous Time of Troubles, during which Bane was slain by Torm the True in a furious battle in the harbour of Tantras. It seemed the Black Lord's ceaseless ambition had at last led to his destruction. Bane's church fragmented, with most of the faithful deflecting to the clergies of Cyric, who inherited Bane's portfolios & Iyachtu Xvim, the progeny of Bane's coupling with a powerful demon. Agents of weal & freedom breathed easier in those days, knowing that Toril was rid of perhaps it's greates menace.

Those who let down their guard, however, did so rashly & far too soon. On Midwinter night of 1372 DR, Xvim burst in a conflagration of diabolical green light. From the smoking husk of his remains emerged a newly invigorated Bane, his right hand ablaze with green fire. Xvim, it appeared, had been little more than a sentient cocoon, a shell in which grew a festering larva that would, in time, become Vane. Within days, the Xvimlar clergy had converted to the worship of Bane, and a great evil once again cast it's calculating stare over the lands of Faerun.

Bane hates firtually the entire Faerunian pantheon, but holds special antipathy for Torm, Cyric, Mystra, Tempus, Helm, Lathander, Oghma & Ilmatar, in that order. He has established a working relationship with Loviatar, Mask & Talona, but as these deities desperately fear him, the alliances are not strong.

Dogma;

Serve no one but Bane. Fear him always & make others fear him even more than you do. The Black Hand always strikes down those who stand against it in the end. Defy Bane & die - or in death, find loyalty to him, for he shall compel it. Submit to the word of Bane as uttered by his ranking clergy, since true power can only be gained through service to him. Spread the dark fear of Bane. It is the doom of those who do not follow him to let power slip through their hands. Those who cross the Black Hand meet their dooms earlier & more harshly than those who worship other deities

Clergy & Temples;

Bane orders his clerics & followers to achieve positions of power within their society, either through force or trickery, & to use that power to further the cause of hate, fear, destruction & strife. The Black Hand much prefers that his cleric subvert governments & carry out their agendas under cover of the rule of Law, but he tolerates a limited amount of discord & debauchery. Torture, beatings & calculated assassinations frequently come into play in such operations & rare indeed is the initiate of the Lord of Darkness who does not possess at least rudimentary skill in such enterprises. The church operates under a strict heirarchy - questioning or disobeying the orders of a superior is an insult to Bane's supremacy & is punishable by torture, disfigurement or death.

Bane's temples tend to reflect the clergy's regimented doctrines. Tall, sharp-cornered stone structures featuring towers adorned with large spikes & thin windows, most Banite churches suggest the architecture of fortified keeps or small castles. Thin interior passageways lead from an austere foyer to barrackslike common chambers for the lay clergy, each sparsley decorated with tapestries depicting the symbol of Bane, or inscribed with embroidered passages from important religious texts. Temples frequently include an exposed central courtyard used for military drills & open air ceremonies, as well as a more traditional mass hall for the congregation at large. Most churches feature extensive subterranean dungeons replete with torture chambers, starvation wells & monster pens.

Before the Time of Troubles, Bane's church was riven by internecine strife, divided into the Orthodox sect (commanded primarily by Clerics) and the Transformed church (dominated by Wizards). Bane himself encouraged this struggle, appreciating the value of dissention when applied to his own servants. His long dormancy seems to have cleared his mind on this matter, however, as he has acted personally to eradicate those divisions, even going so far as to name Fzoul Chembryl, the ruler of Zhentil Keep, as his personal Chosen Tyrant & infallibel mortal representative. The formerly fractious Banites have made common cause in the vicious pogroms against those clerics who turned to Cyric after Bane's "death" & have not returned to the fold;their increased co-operation can only lead to foul tidings for the rest of Faerun.

Avatars;

Because he was killed while in avatar form, the Black Lord is loath to send true avatars to Toril. Instead, he prefers to possess mortals or work through powerful servants such as the Zhentarim. When forced to create an avatar, Bane usually chooses the form of a handsome young human male with dark hair, stylish dress & a condescending mien. The appearance of such an avatar is seldom a moment of celebration for the clergy of the Lord of Darkness, since such occaisions generally mean that Bane has decided to take a personal interest in the punishment of a failed disciple. Bane treats his avatars as morale officers, not soldiers, so his own worshippers usually have more to fear from them than do his enemies.
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Fox

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