The Morninglord

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The Morninglord
Morninglord Holy Symbol.jpeg
Rose-tinted disc of gold
Alignment Chaotic Good
Divine Rank Unknown
Pantheon Ravenloft
Portfolio Hope, Perseverance, The Dawn, Light, Compassion, Protection, Salvation
Domains Good, Luck, Protection, Salvation, Sun
Home Plane Demiplane of Dread
Worshippers Good Folk, Optimists, Oppressed Peasants, Freedom Fighters, Rebels, Healers
Favoured Weapon A Ray of Golden Sunlight (Shortspear)

Native to the Ravenloft domain of Barovia, though it has spread with some limited effect to other domains along trade-routes, the Cult of the Morninglord is one of the most overtly benevolent in the Demiplane of Dread. It was created by Sword & Sorcery out of fears that legal issues would not allow them to directly refer to deities from other Dungeons & Dragons settings by name. The Morninglord was created to fill the place that Advanced Dungeons & Dragons had given to Lathander worshippers, just as how The Lawgiver replaced Bane.

Dogma[edit]

Even the darkest night cannot last forever, Dawn approaches, and you're its herald. You are the emissary of hope, salvation, and surcease. Liberate others from their fear and teach those you cannot release to endure just a little longer. Justice comes to all evildoers eventually, not by man's laws, but by your hand and the torturous path of fate. Lift the spirits of the downtrodden with the good news of the Morninglord's coming. Pledge your protection to the unfortunate whenever the opportunity presents itself, and see your pledge through the end. Destroy the foul undead wherever you find them, for they are the enemies of the dawn.

Depiction[edit]

An elf-like male being either bathed in light or made of light, with golden skin and fiery hair. He is shown as handsome and kind-hearted, and sometimes a little sad. Blood is often smeared around his mouth, which his faithful explain as representing that darkness is present in even the lightest hearts, and/or that even the darkest heart holds some potential for light.

The Faithful[edit]

Although the Morninglord's cult is the most widely spread of the faiths of Barovia, it is still a fairly small presence and regarded with widespread bemusement and/or cynicism; most Barovians are too jaded and miserable as a result of their lot in life. Still, it is is making itself at home both amongst younger Barovians and amongst the assimilated Gundrakites, who show a much stronger interest.

Because of this, the cult has a relaxed hierarchy; there is no centralized authority or orthodoxy within the church, and each temple is autonomous. Rites, liturgies, hymns and other elements are spread between temples as they prove popular with the faithful. Still, there are a small handful of universal traditions.

Firstly, the cult honors those clergy who have founded temples or committed great deeds of sacrifice and bravery; those martyred in service to the cult or its beliefs are canonized as chanticleers.

Secondly, the priests of the Morninglord pray at sunrise (what a surprise) and hold brief morning worship services every day of the week. The faithful are encouraged to attend at least once per week, but they're a practical church and understand that the realities of Barovian life often impede the ability to attend the services.

Finally, whilst each temple often involves itself in local festivals, the cult has its own singular high holy day. Called Nevermore Night, it's held on the winter solstice; a sixteen hour ceremony that battles the night with prayers of hope and haunting a cappella hymns.

Because of the cult's beliefs about battling evil and protecting the innocent, adventuring clerics of the Morninglord often engage in multiclassing, most frequently as Abjurers, Fighters and Rangers.

History of the Church[edit]

The history of the Morninglord's cult lies with an outlander child named Martyn Pelkar, who emerged from the mist-shroaded Svalich Woods into the village of Barovia, blood-stained and claiming he had been rescued from the creatures of the night by "The Morninglord".

As he grew, Martyn - dubbed "Martyn the Mad" by his neighbors - preached of the Morninglord as a figure of hope and protection against the darkness. Whilst he was received with scepticism, for the most part, a small following began to grow around him. Outliving Martyn's death by illness, the budding cult spread westward, in all likelihood to avoid conflict with Strahd von Zarovich.

It experienced a swell in popularity after the events of the Great Upheavel; with the assimilation of western Gundarak into Barovia, its popularity surged with a new infusion of defiant, receptive souls. Still, it remains mostly a backwater faith, associated almost exclusively with the miserable realm of its birth.

3e Crunch[edit]

The Morninglord's faith had a unique Cleric Domain, Salvation, and a Prestige Class called the Hand of Dawn, both present in "The Ravenloft Gazetteer: Volume 1".

Salvation Domain:

Domain Spells: Remove Fear, Remove Paralysis, Remove Disease, Neutralize Poison, Atonement, Stone to Flesh Greater Restoration, Mass Heal, True Resurrection
Granted Power: If you are conscious when an ally within 5 feet is reduced to 0 or less hit points by an attack, as a free action, you can suffer the damage in their place. You can do this once per day.

Secrets[edit]

A secret society called the Dawnslayers exists within the heart of the Morninglord's church. Following a hidden mandate called the Midnight Clarion, these are the most dedicated vampire hunters in all of the Demiplane of Dread.

What no living member of the church knows is that the sect was inadvertently founded by vampires: the "saint" Martyn Pelkar who founded the Morninglord's church did so after being driven mad by an incident when Strahd von Zarovich killed his family, but was forced to spare him by Jander Sunstar, a Gold Elf Vampire who had witnessed the hunt. An outlander who had originated in the Forgotten Realms, Martyn blended his half-remembered aspects of Lathander's doctrine with his distorted memories of this salvation, creating a cult that crudely aped his original faith. The depiction of the Morninglord is, in fact, a depiction of Jander Sunstar himself, as he was etched into Martyn's memories when they met.

The Deities & Religions of Ravenloft
Lawful Neutral Chaotic
Good Ezra (Pure Hearts)
The Overseer - Ra
Andral - Belenus - Osiris The Morninglord
Tvashtri
Neutral Divinity of Mankind
Ezra (Home Faith) - Yutow
Ezra (Erudites) - Hala
The Ancestral Choir
Mytteri
Evil Ezra (Zealots)
The Lawgiver - Set
Zhakata
The Eternal Order Cat Lord - Erlin - Kali
The Spider Queen
The Wolf God