Deity of Invention and Inspiration in the Azolin Pantheon
Member of the Central Pantheon
Oghma, also known as The Lord of Invention, is the deity of bards, inspiration, invention, and lost knowledge in Azolin. His symbol is a blank scroll, waiting for his faithful to fill it with their ideas. Oghma thrives on new ideas, regardless of their consequences, and the communication of knowledge in all its forms.
In elder times, Oghma is said to decide whether a new idea would be known to the world or confined to its originator. Later evolution of the faith would give way to sharing all knowledge with the world, regardless of the consequences.
Oghma is a cheerful and wise power whose ability to persuade others to his point of view he puts to endless use. He can be solemn and righteous, but he is more often quietly humorous and quick to smile. His one flaw may be his fondness for his own thoughts; he tends to implement rather convoluted plots that he has worked out first in his own mind rather than to take direct action.
Oghma most often manifests as a blue-green radiance accompanied by distinctive crawling cords of rising, almost menacing music. These are always the same, and only Oghma dare use them. Others who try to imitate the chords are visited by an immediate warning manifestation; if they persist, this is accompanied by a blue ring of flame that encircles and burns them either severely or fatally, depending on the anger of the god. The radiance is always accompanied by a strong sensation of being watched, and Oghma may even speak in an elderly, echoing, cultured voice, using words sparingly to say, for example: "Well said," "'Tis well done," "Desist from thy course, or perish," or "What ye seek is to found in..."
Oghma has also been known to manifest as a roguish bard, daring scoundrel, tinker gnome, or bookish loremaster.
Those who worship Oghma include artists, bards, cartographers, inventors, loremasters, sages, scholars, scribes and wizards. Followers may be of any alignment, unlike most neutral gods. They often wear Oghma's symbol, a silver scroll on a chain, as a necklace. Gnomes are especially fond of the Lord of Invention, most commonly among the Tinker Gnome sub-race.
All priests of Oghma are called Newbringers. Other clergy include a vast majority of bards and a smattering of wizards. All races are freely admitted to the priesthood. The entire church hierarchy is devoted to the spirit of one man, the Grand Patriarch of Oghma, who is recognized as being the "Voice of Oghma."
The largest "organized" faction of Oghma worshipers is the Council of Nevermind in the gnomish lands.
Priests of Oghma have traditionally been of two sorts: those who remain within the temples, monasteries, and abbeys, spending their lives in perpetual research and cloistered invention and those who go out into the world to find the writings that fill the abbey libraries, or compose great works of their own from experience. Most abbeys of Oghma support themselves by selling maps, artwork, and new spells of their own devising. Wayfaring clergy frequently survive on their creative arts to support their travels.
Wayfaring priests that linger in an area make their own writings from observations of Azolin and make money by teaching all manner of creative arts, selling maps, writing poems, letters, songs, and lyrics for various patrons, and answering specific questions about Azolin from their accumulated store of knowledge. Their map copies are always of real maps. A member of Oghma's clergy may sell a map that she or he knows to err in some respects but to be the best available, but can never knowingly sell a false map or a copy of it. An Oghman is expected to publish or perform numerous works throughout their lives. Such works may be some sort of small chapbook, such as a collection of song lyrics overheard from observation of performing minstrels, or they may even be romantic fiction, so long as such works realistically portray an existing society or place in the world and so impart some true knowledge to the reader.
While the church of Oghma officially sponsors no military or knightly orders, it spreads its aegis over a countless number of monkish or creative fellowships, scholarly orders of honor, guilds of adventurers or explorers, and colleges of bardic knowledge. Some of these include the Children of the Passive Voice, an order or learned monks whose members protect and archive all forms of art and invention; the Order of the Gilt Laurel, an honorary society of historical fiction authors; and the Fellowship of the Forest, a naturalist and preservation society.
Companions of the Silver String
The Companions of the Silver String are heroic bards who acted valiantly at risk of their own lives in the service of the church of Oghma. This order is extremely well respected in the bardic community and is a goal of a great many young adventurers setting out of their own quests of discovery and invention.
In monasteries, temples, and abbeys of Oghma, the majority of each day is typically occupied by readings aloud from great books of art, philosophy, and history at gatherings held every two hours or so. It should be noted that almost all temples to Oghma have their own rituals that vary from one temple to the next except the Cornerstones of the Day (the Binding and the Covenant) and that many have two different sets of rituals: those for the resident clergy and those for laity and visiting clergy.
A priest of Oghma must observe two solemn rituals every day: the Binding and the Covenant. The Binding is a morning service wherein the symbols of Oghma are written in the dirt, in ashes upon a stone altar, or in the mind if a clergy member happens to be shackled or otherwise unable to write, while a silent prayer of loyalty and praise is made to Oghma. The Covenant is an evening service during which a passage from some work of wisdom is read aloud or recited from memory, a song or poem is offered up to Oghma, and some item of knowledge that the clergy member has learned during that day is spoken aloud to the god and to any fellow clergy present.
Oathmark is one of the most sacred days of the Oghman calendar since it is an occasions when agreements are made or renewed and many contracts, bonds, and the like are drawn up. Likewise, the Association of Nevermind is also considered a sacred day for Oghma since it is the annual gathering of the tinker gnomes and the grand sharing of inventions and ideas among all who consider such things paramount.
Oghma's most common foes are Vaermina, Cyric, and Bane. Oghma is strong allies with Ioun, Azathoth and Saradomin. He has a tentative friendship with Moradin, given the relation of his gnome worshipers and their dwarven cousins. He also forms one of the three points of the trinity known as the Light of Creation.
Most Oghman history dates to the earliest awareness of Azolin's past. Some claim that Oghma inspired the world with written language, others that the Lord of Invention is responsible for all concepts. While such theological pedantry incites endless debate among the scholarly classes of Azolin, nearly everyone agrees that Oghma is ancient and has been widely worshiped since before the dawn of history.
Myths and Legends
Legend holds that Oghma's old arch-nemesis, Leira (once the deity of repressed knowledge) was slain by Oghma and allowed history to once again be discovered. This represented the end to the Lost Time and the beginning of Recorded Time.
Followers of Oghma tell an interesting tale regarding the earliest days of existence. Not long after Shar and Selune created Azolin and gave birth to Chauntea, the world's animating spirit, a traveler came upon a chaotic landscape of indistinct, shapeless concepts yearning to be given solidity. To each of these concepts he gave a name that would define it in the aeons to come. Such was the power of these names that the concepts transcended their elusive existence, bound to physical form in the material world. Thus, did Oghma, the Binder of What is Known, give order to chaos and claim and honored place among Azolin’s oldest deities.
Oghma’s dominion over the realm of ideas continues to this day. The Muse Lord sits in judgment of all ideas, deciding whether they will be allowed to spread, or whether they will die with their originator. In this regard, the Binder exercises a great deal of caution, for the experience of countless ages weighs heavy on his heart.
Oghma’s strictures demand the following: Encourage innovation and new thoughts, wherever they might lead. Disseminate knowledge as widely as possible so that all can benefit from its instruction.
Knowledge is most supreme, particularly in its raw form, the idea. An idea has no weight but can move mountains. It has no height but it can dominate a nation. It has no mass but it can push aside empires. Knowledge is the greatest tool of humankind, outweighing anything made by mortal hands. Before anything can exist, the idea must exist.
Knowledge is power, and must be used with care - but to hide it away from others is never a good thing. At least once within the passing of each moon, the clergy of Oghma should copy some information of import in written or inscribed form so that the records multiply and knowledge is not lost. Oghma clergy are to stifle no new ideas, no matter how false or crazed they seem, but to let them be heard and considered freely. They must never slay an artist, nor stand by while others do so. They are to listen to new bards when they meet them and sponsor bards when they can.
A typical Oghman charge to novices is: "Spread knowledge whenever it is prudent to do so. Keep no secrets for their own sake. Curb and deny falsehood, rumor, and deceitful accounts and histories whenever you encounter them. Write or copy some lore of value and give it away freely at least once a year. Hide some writings away while distributing others widely so that the written knowledge of Azolin is larger when you leave life than when you entered it. Sponsor, assist, and teach minstrels, bards, scribes, and recordkeepers whenever you encounter them and perceive a need. Spread truth and knowledge throughout the world so that all folk may know more. Never deliver a message falsely or incompletely, but always just as you receive it. Teach any folk who ask how to read and write or as much of these crafts as time and tasks permit - and charge no fee for this teaching."