Deity of Fate, Defeat and Hopelessness in the Azolin Pantheon
Member of the Central Pantheon
Chemosh is the master of the doomed and is representative of fatalism. Chemosh hates life, thinking it a gift wasted on mortals. He festers within the hearts of mortals, trying to get them to give up the shell of mortality and move on to the next stage in the soul's journey. Chemosh tempts mortals with the promise of "immortality." In reality, he is condemning them to an eternity of undeath as his slaves. This is Chemosh's way of mocking life.
Chemosh is sometimes called the Lord at the End of Everything, and is the fatalistic undertaker who strives for the ever-encroaching termination of all things living. His faith represents the doomed fate all people face to some degree, defeat in all goals and hopelessness in all aspects of life. Chemosh revels in the slow descent of the world to death, to the end. Few people worship the Forgotten One, but his entropic influence on the world is meticulously documented by sages and religious organizations trying to make predictions of the end of the world.
Chemosh never angers, and always speaks with a disembodied, chilling voice that echoes with the dry whisper of a long forgotten crypt. His tone is always bland, his words fatalistic, and his demeanor excessively formal. Most mortals find the deity a shadowy, sinister figure that leaves a vague feeling of unease and enervation in his wake. Chemosh is totally focused on the eternity of nothing following the brief distraction of life.
The Scribe of the Doomed is depicted as a smooth gray face holding no features other than a pair of bulging yellow eyes. His body is nothing but a shadow-filled gray cloak which rises and falls as if buffeted by an unseen wind, and he wears white gloves that are supported by invisible hands and arms.
Chemosh has only a handful of living worshipers, but it is believed several score of his priests still survive as mummies in long-sealed tomes. These mummies still possess their living intelligence and can cast priest spells. While most are lawful evil in alignment, some favored few tend toward a stricter lawful neutral ethos.
Clerics of Chemosh generally wear black robes and white masks that resemble a human skull. The eldest cleric is known as the Fatemaster, and is able to cast powerful attack spells using their battle staffs.
The Bleak Cabal
Chemosh's only known order is known as the Bleak Cabal ("Bleakers", "Madmen"), who deny that any belief system has any merit; as they see it, the world has physical rules, but no metaphysical or philosophical ones, therefore any meaning in life must come from within. They are derived from real-life existentialists and nihilists. The Bleakers just resign themselves to facing life as it heaps its woes upon them without hope and meaning.
Records of the Chemoshian church speak of two now-extinct affiliated groups: The Companions of the Pallid Mask and the Hand of Chemosh. The Companions of the Pallid Mask were a group of Chemoshian priests who specialized in combating and commanding the undead. They eliminated undead creatures whose existence was not sanctioned by the church or who had proven troublesome. They also supervised non-sentient undead work crews that the church sometimes ran for profit long ago. The Hand of Chemosh was an elite group of fanatic priests who led others under their command to avenge slights upon the church of Chemosh at the direction of a high priest. They acted against those of other faiths who raised or resurrected someone without paying due tribute to Chemosh or who violated or looted a tomb under the protection of the church.
Chemosh's cult mainly dwells in secret, but the Crypt of Imminent Death is their single known temple, and is a small onion-domed structure of gold-veined black marble. Dyhna Zhyborrin, the temple's mistress, oversees the temple's small staff, leads worship services in the city, and maintains close ties with the clergy and worshipers of Nerull.
Chemosh's faithful have little patience or need for holy days or religious ceremonies, viewing them as unnecessary distractions. The one small ritual Chemosh's priests are required to perform is called the Sealing. After attending a creature's demise, priests are required to sprinkle a light dusting of ash and powdered bone over their corpse to mark another step toward the world's end.
Chemosh has only one holy day, recognized and observed by most primitive cultures on Azolin. The day is known as The Choosing, and usually involves the consulting of oracles and prophets to discern the future of a child that is soon to become an adult. Chemosh has sway over whether the youth is to have a doomed fate, with Sotha Sil governing the fortunes of that fate. The tribes consult the oracles, try to divine the fate of the youth, and offer sacrifices or pledges of service to Chemosh to change or influence this fate – or choose to accept it and embrace your fate. The day falls on the birthday one year before the child becomes an adult, based on the customs of the society. As such, there is no set date for The Choosing each year. More sophisticated cultures do not observe this holy day as Chemosh does not have as powerful an influence. Some families or cultures believe that to ignore the will of Chemosh completely is to ignore the doomed fate itself, thereby granting free will.
Chemosh retains a fondness for the long-vanished ancient times of Azolin, but the inexorable progression of time has wasted his appreciate of life to nothing. He maintains a cursory alliance with Nerull as he sees his influence as necessary to the end of everything. All other deities of the pantheon either ignore or disregard the Bleak Hand. Following the events of the Cyrinishad debacle, Chemosh has nothing but scorn for Cyric, considering him anathema to the orderly dissolution of the world, and the same hold true for the nihilistic madness of Tharizdun. Chemosh combats any effort to prolong life into undeath, which makes him an unlikely ally of the goodly deities and a tentative enemy of Vecna.
Chemosh and his avatars can take the form of any undead creature, gaining all its innate abilities in doing so. They use powers such as energy drain and enervation to carry out the Bleak Hand’s will. Chemosh has been known to take the form of a mortal man with a great white beard, bent with extreme age yet holding intelligence and driving energy with his sunken eyes. Chemosh’s preferred manifestation is the sound of a heavy tome being closed with chilling finality. This manifestation often occurs upon the death of an exceptionally long-lived mortal, particularly one who has extended their life artificially through magic.
Chemosh is served by a wide variety of creatures seen as harbingers of death in various cultures. For example, the great white-bearded vultures of the Kimaji-Bava are known as N’asr’s children, which ferry spirits into the afterlife to their preordained realms at Chemosh’s behest.
Myths and Legends
Scriveners of Doom
Mummified Scriveners of Doom are chosen priests who continue to serve their lord by delaying their eternal rest to bring order and regulation to the disposition of the dead. Buried in long-forgotten crypts, they do nothing but scribe the doomed fate of all living things on cracked parchments. Some are served by zombies and skeletons, but never by sentient undead. For eons Chemosh has whispered to his mummified clergy an unending litany of names and fates that they then dutifully record on scrolls until Chemosh deems it time for their end. It is said that when the world finally grinds to a halt and passes away, the last mummified Scrivener of Doom will lay down its pen and crumble to dust. Such undead priests sometimes attack and sometimes ignore interlopers who invade their dusty tombs, depending upon whether or not such beings have reached their appointed hour of death. They always attempt to drive off and if necessary destroy any being who disturbs their sacred tasks, since order in death is as important as death itself in the teachings of the faith.
The small cult of living Scriveners of Doom spend their days maintaining and extending vast archives of scrolls listing how sentients under their purview passed away and their destination in the afterlife. Despite their near hopeless task, they toil on undaunted, knowing they have eons to complete their appointed task.
The Scribe of the Doomed serves as the Seneschal of Bone Castle, a realm in the Spirit Realm deep within the lands of the dead.
"Each being has an eternal ending that is chosen for him or her at the moment of creation. Life is a process of seeking that ending for eternity. Existence is but a brief aberration in an eternity of death. Power, Success, and joy are as transitory as weakness, failure, and misery. Only the end is absolute, and then only at its appointed hour. Seek to bring order to the chaos of life, for in death there is finality and a constancy of state. Be ready for death for it is at hand and uncompromising. Life should be prolonged only when it serves the greater cause of the death of the world."