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Wheat Sheaf or Corn Dolly
Aliases The Earth Mother, the Harvest Queen
Alignment Neutral Good
Divine Rank Greater Goddess
Pantheon Anglo-Saxon
Portfolio Fertility, The Earth
Domains All, Animal, Charm, Creation, Elemental Earth, Guardian, Healing, Necromantic (White), Plant, Protection, Weather
Home Plane Prime Material
Worshippers Anglo-Saxons, Village Leaders
Favoured Weapon Staff or Dagger

Nerthus is the chief deity of the Anglo-Saxon Pantheon in Dungeons & Dragons. Like the rest of her pantheon, she was introduced to the D&D multiverse in the article "Hearth & Sword" in Dragon Magazine for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition.

As the Earth Mother, Nerthus has dominion over mankind, as well as all beasts and plants, and her concern is the well-being of all her children. The Anglo-Saxons invoke her guidance before all endeavors; whilst the war-gods Thunor and Tir may be invoked for strength in battle, it is Nerthus whose protection is sought before battle. Though she is a benign and loving deity, doing her best to answer the calls for good harvests and protection, she is neither omnipresent nor omnipotent; she cannot safeguard all, especially in the face of the more malicious or troublesome members of her pantheon, such as Woden and Thunor.

Nerthus manifests herself amongst her people as either a spectacularly healthy and vigorous plant, or as a middle-aged but beautiful wise woman, clad in humble earthen-brown clothes that match her chestnut hair and hazel eyes, carrying a wheat-sheaf. Nerthus' avatar has the combat abilities of a Ranger (15)/Cleric (25), though she prefers nonviolence; if attacked, she will try to use her spells to Charm or neutralize her attacker, or wield her godly magic to either make the victim fall asleep for a year (save vs. spells at -6 to resist) or transform them into a plant (no save).

Flowers that bloom out of season, or in the depths of the winter months, are often regarded as those rare victims of Nerthus' wrath.

There are two major holy days or important ceremonies to Nerthus.

The first is the month of Sol-monath (February); this is the start of the plowing and planting season, and thusly special loaves of bread are placed within the freshly plowed furrows after being dedicated to Nerthus.

The second is the rite of Halig-monath (September). For this holy month, all weapons and armor are shut away within the community. A covered wagon, drawn by cows, is brought into the center of the community by Nerthus' priests. As long as it remains there, the village celebrates, holding feasts and other dedications to Nerthus. The ceremony ends with the wagon being taken to a ritual place of bathing; there, the occupant - who is said to be Nerthus herself - is ceremonially washed by slaves... who are then drowned as a human sacrifice because no mortal is allowed to touch the goddess and live.

Nerthus also shares the festival of Modranect ("Mother's Night") with Mannus and Ing, as this ceremony at the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon year is when vows are made and renewed.

Nerthus' Priesthood[edit]

Nerthus' priests are the most common speciality priests of all the individual Anglo-Saxon deities, outnumbered only by clerics dedicated to the pantheon as a whole. Their dogma is simple: The community and the protection thereof is of paramount importance. Nerthus' priests work to prevent harm to their people, counseling against unnecessary battles and seeing to observation of the proper rites to ensure good harvests and healthy livestock. Their days are spent blessing newborns, fields and herds, or presiding over marriages; in the rare ties of war they agree to, they also organize the army ("fyrd", in Anglo-Saxon) and its deployment.

A Nerthus priest wears humble brown robes, often with corn dollies either sewn to the robes or worn on a necklace around the neck, and allows their hair to grow long. They are not, by nature, suited for the role of adventurers, but those few who do leave on such a path will wear no armor, trusting to the goddess to protect them.

To become a speciality priest of Nerthus requires Wisdom 14+, Charisma 15+, Any Good Alignment, and proficiency in Dancing and Herbalism. They are only permitted the use of staffs as weapons, gain Agriculture and Animal Handling as bonus proficiencies, and cannot use magic items that are fire-based (except those that guard against fire) or which are destructive in nature. They have access to the following Spheres:

Major: All, Animal, Charm, Creation, Elemental (Earth), Guardian, Healing, Necromantic (beneficial spells only), Plant, Protection, Weather
Minor: Divination, Elemental (Air, Water), Sun, Wards

And gain the following special abilities:

  • Can identify poisonous plants on sight and can Detect Poison at will from 2nd level.
  • From 2nd level, gain the ability to calm animals, as per a Ranger one level lower.
  • From 3rd level, can cast Sleep 3/day.
  • From 5th level, can cast Charm Person 1/day.
  • From 10th level, all Charm-based spells cast by the Priest of Nerthus have a -2 saving throw penalty (which stacks with other penalties) and effects twice the standard number of targets. Additionally, against animal or plant-based targets, no saving throw is applicable.