The classes found in Player's Handbook II, as well in the Complete Books, Miniatures Handbook, and other sources, can add depth, variety, and freshness to a game. Many people already use these classes in their Forgotten Realms games but wish more information was available about how the classes fit into the world.
This article is the first in a series that will provide information on how the PHB II classes can be incorporated into the Realms. All of this information is optional. At the end of each entry, alternative ideas are listed for how to include the history and lore written here but without requiring the introduction of these classes into your game.
Beguilers first appeared among churches dedicated to the preservation and guarding of secrets. They were sorcerers trained to focus on illusion and enchantment. Young children with sorcerous potential were chosen to be raised in the church and taught its deepest secrets. High priests relied on beguilers to weave webs of deceit that concealed and preserved the knowledge of their faith.
The faiths that most frequently used beguilers included Gargauth, Mask, Leira, Sehanine Moonbow, Shar, and Baravar Cloakshadow. In recent years, these faiths have experienced a variety of changes and conflicts that drove away or expelled their beguilers. With the exception of the church of Baravar, no more beguilers are linked to churches in Faerun.
Among Gargauthans, beguilers served an incredibly important role. Using their magical abilities, they wove webs to conceal the vast conspiracies and corruptions set in motion by "the Tenth Lord of Nine." When secrets began leaking out and spoiling many of the church's plans, the beguilers suffered horrible punishments. During the Time of Troubles, they were blamed for the unraveling of many of the church's schemes. With increasing punishments -- maiming, horrible scarification, and other tortures -- the beguilers abandoned "the Hidden Lord's faith." They are now hunted by the Gargauthans to destroy the secrets they possess.
The beguilers of Mask and Leira formed a single organization known as Demarch's Alliance, which served both churches. It is unknown who or what Demarch was, and the remaining former members won't provide any details. When Mask betrayed Leira, an irreconcilable rift opened in the alliance. In the Halls of Demarch -- a secret guildhall hidden beneath Tantras -- a massive battle known as Demarch's Fall was fought between the two factions. In bloody, mist-shrouded skirmishes, the beguilers of Mask and Leira tore each other to pieces, leaving behind an undead-infested network of tunnels obscured in fog. Surviving members fled to all corners of Faerun, fearing retribution and the "reacquisition" of the secrets they possessed.
Of all the churches formerly employing beguilers, the situation in the faith of Sehanine Moonbow is most surprising. It is unknown precisely what occurred to anger "the Luminous Cloud," but rumors abound. According to the most oft repeated, in the Year of Lightning Storms, "the Lady of Dreams" became furious with the beguilers of her faith. They fled from her temples, using their superior powers of illusion to conceal themselves from the elven deity's clergy. Whatever crime they committed must have been dire, for followers of Sehanine are tasked with bringing back the rogue mages dead or alive.
The Church of Shar expelled its beguilers, no longer finding any use for their abilities. The primary task of the beguilers of Shar was to conceal the existence of the Shadow Weave. When the "Lady of Loss" revealed its existence, openly flaunting her masterful creation, their usefulness waned. The beguilers were forced out of the church, sometimes violently.
The church made little effort to hunt them down at that time. It is now beginning to regret letting them go because of their knowledge of secrets that could be compromising to the faith.
When rogue beguilers ran from their churches, they used their abilities to conceal their whereabouts. They taught their abilities to young people with sorcerous potential, hoping to foster apprentices for protection and to carry on their legacies. Most of the runaways remained independent from any groups, but a few joined organizations or became operatives for governments -- a job their training and experience left them well prepared for. Benevolent beguilers have been found among the Harpers, Guardians of the Weave, Lords' Alliance, Moonstars, and Soft Claws. Malevolent beguilers have joined the ranks of the Cult of the Dragon, the Shadow Thieves, the Twisted Rune, and the Zhentarim.
The only church that hasn't lost its beguilers is that of Baravar Cloakshadow. Gnomes who worship other deities claim that The Sly One's faith is becoming increasingly twisted and insular. While no formal organization exists among the clergy, the change seems universal, as if the god himself is infecting his followers with increasing paranoia. The chosen of that faith, Embrel Berrodwyn (NG Male Gnome Beguiler 4/Favored Soul 4/Mystic Theurge 10) is rumored to be close to Baravar's goal of concealing all gnomes from detection. Even the Knights of the Shadowy Cloak are affected, becoming more aggressive in their fight against the gnomes' eternal enemies.
For those wishing to use the history of the beguilers without incorporating the class into their games, here is an alternative. A beguiler can be replaced by a sorcerer with a large number of enchantment and illusion spells. The arcane trickster class allows a sorcerer/rogue to have both powerful spells and rogue abilities, much in the same way as a beguiler. Embrel's levels in beguiler and favored soul can be replaced by levels in sorcerer and cleric, still allowing him to qualify as a mystic theurge.
While not particularly common, dragon shamans are found among barbarian tribes that worship or live in close vicinity to dragons. Scholars postulate that these shamans learn their powers from a dragon that lairs near their territory. Some dragon shamans can be found in more civilized lands, but the insular tribes are more likely to develop dragon cults.
Several dragon shamans live among the barbarians of the Far Hills. These barbarians form small, tight-knit cults of dragon worship led by their dragon shamans. The barbarian tribe of the Earthrust Mountains known as "the Lost" has worshipped dragons for over 100 years. Their first dragon god was red, but they have also worshipped a brass dragon. There have been cases of dragon worship among the Uthgardt barbarians of the Great Worm Tribe. These are relatively rare -- evil dragons usually don't have the patience and restraint necessary for this, and most good dragons find it distasteful. Other cults exist among the tribes of the North and the island barbarians in the Sea of Swords.
The Cult of the Dragon does worship dragons in its own way, but only a handful of dragon shamans have been recorded among its ranks. It is more common for "civilized" dragon cults to pop up when charismatic leaders ally themselves with dragons for power. As with most cults, the leader attracts the downtrodden -- orphans, victims of abuse, widows, and the homeless -- by promising them a better life in return for their worship of a dragon (or dragons). The most well known instance of this was in the Year of the Tusk. A cult formed near Myth Drannor that worshipped a small group of green dragons. The cult kidnapped locals, offering grisly sacrifices to the greens. It was eventually discovered and destroyed, but it did significant damage to the area before its demise.
The worship of dragons is more common among humanoid tribes than it is among humans. At least three orcish cults in the High Moor worship red and blue dragons. These are quite entrenched in the region, having been there for several hundred years. These tribes tend to include some of the most fanatic worshippers, instilling unshakeable loyalty in their dragon gods. Dragon shamans are found most frequently among orcs, but they also exist among kobolds and lizardfolk.
For those wishing to use the history of the dragon shamans without incorporating the class into their games, here is an alternative. A dragon cult can be led by an adept or a cleric of a dragon god (especially if that cleric has the dragon domain).
About the Author
Eytan Bernstein hails from exotic Long Island and spends his days writing and editing projects for numerous game companies. In addition to his work on Dragons of Faerun, the Magic Item Compendium, and numerous other projects, Eytan serves as a partner and PR & Marketing Manager for Silven Publishing. He enjoys hunting for gems and minerals in rock quarries, studying religion and theology, composing music, and playing with his many pets. For more information about Eytan, check out www.eytanbernstein.com. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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