Saint Cuthbert

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Saint Cuthbert The Cudgel, pictured with his cudgel. Not to be confused with Rogal Dorn.
Saint Cuthbert
Cuthbert02.jpg
Alignment Lawful Neutral (Lawful Good tendencies) or Vice Versa
Divine Rank Intermediate God
Pantheon Oerthian
Portfolio Retribution, Common Sense, Wisdom, Zeal, Honesty, Truth, Discipline
Domains 3E: Destruction, Law, Protection, Strength
5E: Knowledge
Home Plane The Bastion of Law (Arcadia)
Worshippers Judges, Constables
Favoured Weapon Mace of Cuthbert (Mace, specifically the cudgel)


Saith Cuthbert of the Cudgel is a Dungeons & Dragons God hailing from the setting of Greyhawk. God of common sense, wisdom, zeal, honesty, truth, and discipline, he is one of the two oldest gods in D&D history, having been created alongside his rival Pholtus in 1972 by Gary Gygax himself.

Personality[edit]

Saint Cuthbert is characterized as a staunch opponent of evil, a zealous and driven deity who values discipline, honest, zeal and pragmatism, all tempered by common sense. He is a rough sort of god, hot-tempered and staunch in his convictions. He is also... well... a bit of a dick. Firmly convinced of his own wisdom and authority, he can easily come off as self-righteous and arrogant - not helped by the fact he claims to know the only truth path for a person to behave, and seeks to aggressively convert others to his following. This is one of the big reasons why he and Pholtus don't get on too well; they both believe they know best, and that they should be the top god, and aren't shy about expressing that feeling. He also has something of an anti-intellectual streak, as he regards commons sense to be far more important than book learning, which it's implied he believes can lead a mind astray from the correct path.

Still, for all his rough edges, Saint Cuthbert is a practical god who does care intensely for the people who follow him. As a god of common sense, he values judgment and individuality; the letter of the law should be strict, but people should be flexible in applying it, not just follow law blindly (the key trait distinguishing him from Pholtus). Punish thievery, yes, but a man who stole a loaf of bread to feed his starving family should just get a flogging and a scolding for not asking for help first, you shouldn't just cut his hand off. The goal of laws, in Cuthbert's eyes, is to show people the key to a better way of life and to "encourage" them to stick to the righteous path by punishing them for disobedience, tempering severity with understanding. Tough love, but love all the same.

He's also rather non-interventionist for a god so actively seeking converts. He tends to take the view that it's more important to focus on enforcing law and order in your own community than to go out looking for trouble by battling evil. Although he is quick to point out that when evil picks a fight first, as it always does, it's common sense to put it down hard.

Alignment[edit]

You see that alignment entry in his character box? Ol' Cuthbert has flipflopped a lot between Lawful Neutral and Lawful Good over the editions, resulting in the attempt to compromise there. Why? Well... on the one hand, Saint Cuthbert is a staunch enemy of evil, but on the other hand, he's... you know, kind of a dick, with a tendency to care more about telling people how they should behave than anything else. So he sits somewhere between the Lawful Good and Lawful Neutral alignments.

Originally, he was described as Lawful Good (with some Lawful Neutral tendencies) in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, when his stats appeared for the very first time in the Dragon Magazine article "The Deities and Demigods of the World of Greyhawk", written by Gary Gygax in Dragon #67.

He then switched his alignment and tendencies in the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition corebook. This was then countered by his appearance in Dragon #358, where he had a "Core Beliefs" article (a series of articles that used Dragon's semi-official status to expand upon the churches of the corebook pantheons), which formally changed him back to Lawful Good (Lawful Neutral)..

Finally, for now, he appeared in the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition corebook with a flatly Lawful Neutral alignment.

Church[edit]

Cuthbertines (that is, worshipers of Saint Cuthbert) are most prevalent in the central Flanaess. The saint has churches in Dyvers, Furyondy, the Gran March, the Free City of Greyhawk, Keoland, Perrenland, the Shield Lands, Tenh, the Principality of Ulek, the County of Urnst, the Duchy of Urnst, Veluna, and Verbobonc. These churches can be large cathedrals, but most commonly are wayside shrines and small, crude chapels. The monastery-fortress of St. Cuthbert in the canton of Clatspurgen, Perrenland was the center of resistance to Iggwilv's tyranny between 481-491 CY, protecting the valley through which the Velverdyva river left the realm.

In Sigil and the Outer Planes of the Great Wheel, Saint Cuthbert is the most favored god of the Harmonium, who appreciate the god's uncompromising nature, assurance in his righteousness, and willing to violently assert the strength of his beliefs. They have a lot in common.

In general, Cuthbert's faith is concentrated amongst rural populations, and combined with the church's reputation for both aggressive conversion-seeking and self-righteousness, there tends to be a bit of a backlash against the faith by city-dwellers. Cuthbertines have a stereotype as preachy, self-righteous, and proudly ignorant in the urban parts of the world, which can be quite a surprise to many Cuthbertines venturing out of their hamlets for the first time, and which reinforces their isolationism.

When they shed their mortal coils, those who worshiped the saint in life go to Saint Cuthbert's divine realm, called the Basilica of Saint Cuthbert or the Bastion of Law, on Arcadia, the intermediary "Lawful Good/Neutral" plane between Celestia and Mechanus. Souls there act as silent observers while the saint gives out judgments from his Seat of Truth. Saint Cuthbert seldom leaves his plane unless some great duty calls him forth.

Clergy & Holy Orders[edit]

Saint Cuthbert's priesthood is divided into three major orders, each of whom has their own holy symbol from Saint Cuthbert's iconic regalia; the Chapeaux, the Stars, and the Billets.

The Chapeaux, whose symbol is a crumpled hat, seek to convert people into their faith. They are equally divided between lawful good and lawful neutral characters. Paladins of Saint Cuthbert, known as Votaries or Communicants, have an honorary position in the Order of the Chapeaux. Their role is not just to convert others, but to actually fight enemies of the faith.

The Stars, whose symbol is a starburst, seek to enforce doctrinal purity among those already dedicated to the saint. Most are lawful neutral, and they do not shy from using mind-reading magic in order to ensure that even the private thoughts of their flock are pure.

The Billets are the most numerous of Saint Cuthbert's clergy. Most are lawful good, and they seek to minister to and protect the faithful. These are well-beloved by the common folk. Their symbol is a wooden club. The Chapeaux often come into conflict with the Billets, because the former order wants to seek new converts while the latter wants to care for the worshipers they already have.

L'Ordre de la Croix-Rose Veritas, or the Order of the Rosy Cross of Truth, is a minor Cuthbertine order founded in 587 (CY), after the Greyhawk Wars. It was founded by Ormus, a former priest of Rao only just converted to Saint Cuthbert's faith himself. When Ormus discovered an evil warlord had been corrupted by a devil in disguise, he founded the new order in order to track down other devils living among mortals in disguise. The order has three branches: La Croix-Vert, La Croix-Blanc, and La Croix-Bleu (that's "The Crosses Green, White and Blue", for non-French speakers).

The Society of the Sanctified Mind focuses on ridding the world of evil psionicists. It was founded c. 561 CY by a cleric of Saint Cuthbert named Sir Jeremy Costineux, after his home village was enslaved by illithids. This society is a knightly order rather than a strictly religious one, and people of a wide variety of character classes belong to it.

Holy Books, Parables & Relics[edit]

Saint Cuthbert wields a powerful artifact-weapon, called the Mace of Cuthbert, which he sometimes loans out to worthy mortals - an adventure in Dragon #100 involves retrieving this weapon from real-world Earth, where he had hidden it in the London Museum to keep it safe. Other magic items associated with Saint Cuthbert include the cudgel that never forgets and the tabard of the great crusade.

The primary holy book of Saint Cuthbert is a short (usually no more than 30 pages long) instructional text called, simply, Saint Cuthbert and Common Sense: sort of an easy-to-read Cuthbertine bible. It explains the tenets of the Cuthbertine faith - obey the law, be good, and use your common sense - albeit with some slight personal interpretation of the author, and does so with simple language and easy to read letters. It also instructs readers on how to handle problems of faith, such as failing to live up to the Saint's virtues - namely, turn to your community for advice & support whilst also praying to the god for clarity from confusion. Copies of this book are often illustrated, but are done so in a plain fashion, and the book is usually not made too decorative; gilded illuminations and elaborate calligraphy are not in harmony with the Cuthbertine aesthetic.

The most iconic book of Cuthbertine teachings, so popular it is practically a secondary bible to them, is Parables of the Wise Fool; a collection of fables in which an uneducated rural man faces common rural problems - agriculture, animal husbandry, crafts, fending off beasts, fighting, etc - and solves them with common sense, often showing up well-meaning but self-important "book smart" individuals in the process. These tales are hugely beloved amongst Cuthbertines; "I may be a fool, but I am a wise fool" is a common Cuthbertine rejoinder to anyone commenting on their reputed lack of smarts. It's telling that the most hated heresy in the Cuthbertine church is a book called Tales of the Vulgar Fool, which features a version of the Wise Fool who uses cunning and common sense to indulge in thievery and lechery; Non-Cuthbertines see these stories as humorous parodies of uptight Cuthbertine homilies, but the church considers it a deep and serious assault on their faith, and the Stars order spends much of its time trying to root out copies of the book and quash heretics who seek to learn from it.

The Saint Among Us is a minor holy book that tells Saint Cuthbert's purported origin as a mortal shepherd on a distant world who lived such a simple, blameless, charitable life that he was rewarded by the gods by being brought to Oerth, where he walked the world as a holy man teaching evil the error of its ways, and ultimately ascended to godhood on the strength of his saintliness. The book is mostly a parable, seeking to serve as a guide by example to Cuthbertines.

One of the most commonly told Cuthbertine parables is "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" - which, on a D&D world, is sometimes converted into "The Boy Who Cried Orc" instead.

Sacred Days[edit]

Saint Cuthbert's Day: Celebrated on the 4th day of Growfest, Saint Cuthbert's Day is the largest festival celebrated by Saint Cuthbert's church. It involves locals and pilgrims gathering at a city's gate at dawn and parading and singing along a major road until they reach the local shrine or temple. Children swipe at everyone within reach with switches in a custom known as "the cleansing" - but the marchers are guarded by members of the Billets, who swiftly crack down on non-Cuthbertines who seek to take advantage of this to vent some anti-Cuthbertine sentiment. At their destination, a cleric brings out a replica of the Mace of Cuthbert and there is a great feast from noon until dusk, and then a bonfire from sundown until midnight that the faithful believe can remove curses and misfortune.

Breadgiving Day: This is a new event that began only after the Greyhawk Wars, originally as a charitable event for refugees. Subsequently, it has become a day dedicated to feeding the hungry in general. Cuthbertines take the opportunity to preach and gain converts, and provide security for the event. The faiths of Pelor and Rao also participate, and try to keep the Cuthbertines from getting too sanctimonious or aggressively preachy.

Inter-Faith Relations[edit]

In general, Saint Cuthbert respects any Lawful Good god, although he and his followers tend to believe other such gods aren't as smart or as capable as Saint Cuthbert himself. His church is on its best terms with Rao, Delleb, Heironeous, Pelor and Lendys.

He is staunchly critical of Neutral Good deities, whom he regards as "not trying hard enough" and of most Lawful Neutral deities, who he thinks tend to forget about using their common sense. He despises the Chaotic Good gods, although he does consider them marginally better than the Chaotic Neutral ones, who are the closest things he has to enemies amongst the non-evil gods. He's also contemptuous of True Neutral deities, whom he sees as wishy-washy and unwilling to take a stand.

His fiercest non-hostile rivalry is with Pholtus, as the two gods share so many of the same faults that they can't stand each other.

Naturally, Saint Cuthbert is most opposed to the gods of evil. Whilst the Chaotic Evil gods are obvious enemies of him, he has just as much enmity, if not more, for the Lawful Evil ones, whom he sees as perverting the fundamental nature of law and order. Whilst he battles all evil gods, his most prominent enemies are Vecna and Iuz.

Real-Life Connections[edit]

In real life, Saint Cuthbert is the patron saint of Northumbria (that's northern England, for all you non-Britfags in the audience) in the Anglican and Catholic faiths. In older fluff, it was implied that he really was Saint Cuthbert, and that he somehow ended up in Greyhawk and was worshiped there. Strangely, this completely escaped TSR when the moral panics made them scrub D&D of all references to real-world Christianity in Second Edition. Probably because no one who isn't a devout Catholic or Anglican from Northumbria (or, apparently, Gary Gygax) has ever heard of Saint Cuthbert.

Funnily enough, this makes the Oerthian St. Cuthbert's henotheistic ("acknowledge the other gods, but worship me above all others") attitude a lot more understandable.

The connection is actually lampshaded; an adventure in Dragon Magazine #100 has the players go to London to recover the Mace of Cuthbert, and a story in that same issue subtly hints that that Saint Cuthbert of Greyhawk and Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne are intended to be one and the same, or at least that the former has knowledge of the latter.

Publication History[edit]

As mentioned, Saint Cuthbert was born in the days when D&D was still being playtested by Gygax and Dave Arneson. As they romped around the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, some of the players wanted a specific deity so that cleric characters could receive their powers from someone less ambiguous than "the gods". Gygax thought this wasn't necessary, but, tongue-in-cheek, responded with Saint Cuthbert, the God of Common Sense who was willing to beat wisdom into people with a stick, and Pholtus, God of Self Righteousness, and thus Oerth received its first two gods.

The very first mention of Saint Cuthbert - called "Saint Cuthburt" at that point" - was in a serialized short story called "The Gnome Cache", written by Gygax and printed in The Dragon #2. His faith later made its first debut in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition module The Village of Hommlet, which is the prologue to the famous Temple of Elemental Evil adventure. The god's statistics and personality were revealed in Dragon Magazine #67, when Gygax penned the article "The Deities and Demigods of the World of Greyhawk". St. Cuthbert and his faith would later receive more details for this edition in the splatbooks World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (1983), and in Greyhawk Adventures (1988).

In AD&D 2nd edition, he was described in the set "From the Ashes" and again in "Greyhawk: The AdventureBegins". His role in the Planescape setting was detailed in "On Hallowed Ground", and he is mentioned as a patron of celestials in "Warriors of Heaven".

In Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, due to it borrowing random bits from Greyhawk as the foundation for its new generic setting, Saint Cuthbert appeared in both the 3.0 and 3.5 Player's Handbooks. Saint Cuthbert's role in the 3rd edition Greyhawk setting was defined in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, whilst his "generic D&D" church was expanded in Deities & Demigods for 3.0 and Complete Divine for 3.5. He also received a 3.5 expansion in the Dragon Magazine #358 "Core Beliefs" article.

Absent in 4th edition, he returned as part of the Greyhawk Pantheon listed in the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Player's Handbook.

How older players remember him.
The human deities of Greyhawk
Lawful Neutral Chaotic
Good Al'Akbar - Allitur - Delleb - Fortubo
Heironeous - Jascar - Kundo
Mayaheine - Merikka - Murlynd
Pholtus - Rao - Ulaa
Atroa - Azor'alq - Berei - Ehlonna - Heward
Johydee - Keoghtom - Lydia - Myhriss
Nola - Pelor - Urbanus - Uvot - Zodal
Dalt - Kord - Lirr - Phaulkon
Phyton - Sotillion - Trithereon
Vogan - Wenta
Neutral Cyndor - Daern - Katay - Lendor
Osprem - Saint Cuthbert - Stern Alia
Tsolorandril - Vathris - Wee Jas - Zilchus
Beory - Boccob - Bleredd - Bralm - Breeka
Celestian - Daoud - Geshtai - Fharlaghn - Istus
Joramy - Kelanen - Mouqol - Nazarn - Obad-Hai
Velnius - Xan Yae - Xanag - Xerbo - Zuoken
Berna - Kurell - Kuroth - Llerg
Norebo - Olidammara - Procan
Ralishaz - Rudd - Telchur
Vatun - Zagyg
Evil Asmodeus - Earth Dragon
Hextor - Scahrossar - Zarus
Damaran - Incabulos - Kyuss - Meyanok - Nerull
Pyremius - Syrul - Tharizdun - Vara - Vecna
Beltar - Erythnul - Iuz - Karaan