Gaerdal Ironhand

<b>Gaerdal Ironhand:</b>
<i>The Stern, Shield of the Golden Hills</i><br>

<b>Symbol:</b> Iron Band<br>
<b>Home Plane</b>: Dothion/the Golden Hills (Stronghaven)<br>
<b>Alignment</b>: LG<br>
<b>Portfolio</b>: Vigilance, combat, martial defense<br>
<b>Domains</b>: Good, Protection, War, Law, Gnome<br>
<b>Worshipers</b>: Administrators, fighters, judges, monks, paladins, soldiers, warriors<br>
<b>Aliases</b>: N/A <br>
<b>Cleric Alignments:</b> LG, LN, NG <br>
<b>Favored Weapon:</b> “Hammersong” (Warhammer) <br>

Gaerdal Ironhand (GAIR-dahl EYE-urn-hand) is the stalwart defender of the Forgotten Folk, the most martial deity of the gnome pantheon. His serious nature garners him sober respect, instead of the gentle affection that is lavished on the other deities. The Shield of the Golden Hills guards against threats from above and below and teaches gnomes to hold their own in combat with larger and more powerful creatures by using their size and natural abilities to their advantage. Gaerdal has a small but devout following among gnome warriors and those responsible for defending gnome communities against outside threats, and he has earned the respect of the Forgotten Folk in general.

Gaerdal has generally good relations with the rest of the gnome pantheon, with the notable exception of Urdlen, but his stem nature keeps him somewhat aloof from the mischievous antics of the other gods of the Forgotten Folk. In particular, the Shield of the Golden Hills is somewhat hostile toward Baravar, disliking deceitfulness, and to a lesser extent Baervan, disliking foolish pranks and other jests, and he may work to thwart their plans if he learns of them. In times of danger for the Forgotten Folk, however, Gaerdal cooperates with all the gnome gods, except the Crawler Below. Among other pantheons, Gaerdal is closest in temperament with the gods of the dwarven pantheon, particularly Gorm Gulthyn and Clangeddin Silverbeard. Gaerdal works well with Helm and Torm of the human Faerun-ian pantheon.

The Shield of the Golden Hills is ever vigilant in guarding against Urdlen's insidious attacks, and he battles the gods of the kobold and goblin pantheons regularly. Gaerdal Ironhand is the most dwarflike deity of the gnome pantheon, rarely smiling, and he is the only gnome god who could be considered stern. Gaerdal takes his duties as the protector of gnome burrows very seriously, at the cost of sacrificing a playful spirit. The Shield of the Golden Hills has no use for tricks, jokes, or deceits, and he remains unsmiling at gnome tales and pranks (save those of Garl himself). The other gnome deities say he chuckles in private, but this is uncertain. Gaerdal often sends an avatar to assist gnomes preparing for battle. <br>

The best defense is unswerving vigilance. Gaerdal charges his followers to serve him with absolute dedication and devotion. Defend and protect communities of the Forgotten Folk against all invaders, both obvious and hidden. Never cease to hone the skills of battle and war, and use times of peace to pass such talents on to gnomes at large so that they can eventually preserve peace for all the Forgotten Folk forever by presenting a defense that none dare challenge.

Be fair to those in your charge, and ask of them nothing that you would not do yourself- including laying down your life for your friends, relatives, and brothers and sisters of battle. Follow orders given you to preserve the efficient function of the chain of command, but do not be blind to the consequences of your actions or the implications of a command. You have a right to question once any order that seems to run counter to the common good or the ideals of our society, for in doing so you may unmask a spy, a traitor, or an invader cloaked by magic.<br>

The Shield of the Golden Hills may manifest as an aura of shimmering silver and gold light that envelops a living creature and then withdraws into his or her body. The effects of Gaerdal's manifestation are three-fold: the recipient receives the benefits of blessed watchfulness, iron vigil, and protection from evil spell..<br>

Gaerdal is served by earth and fire elementals, galeb duhr, guardiaii nagas, helmed horrors, incarnates of courage and faith, maruts, noctrals, per, sapphire dragons, silver dragons, and spectators. He demonstrates his favor through the discovery of alestones, alexandrites, amaratha (also known as shieldstone), camelian, hypersthene, peridot, sapphires, star rose quartz, star sapphires, and topazes. The Shield of the Golden Hills indicates his displeasure through slightly exaggerated and rather bombastic omens, underground rumblings, a statuette cracking very loudly, rocks detonating, and the like<br>

<b>The Church of Gaerdal:</b>
Gaerdal's stern nature is faithfully matched by his priests, and as such, while his faith is well respected among the Forgotten Folk, it is not greatly loved. The faithful of the Shield of the Golden Hills have more in common with the Stout Folk than their own kin, and Gaerdal's church is well respected by those dwarves who venerate Gorm Gulthyn. Although the existence of this cult is not widely known among other races, it is well regarded by those halfling followers of Arvoreen and human followers of Torm and Helm who have learned of their gnome analogs.

Temples of Gaerdal are fortified subterranean strongholds formed from worked caves that serve as both houses of worship and defensive fortifications. Small statues of the god are erected at the center of such shrines, symbolizing Gaerdal's unflagging vigilance, but otherwise each temple is relatively austere, adorned only with the shields of the fallen. Novices of Gaerdal are known as the Eyes of Shield. Full priests of the Shield of the Golden Hills are known as the Vigilant Host. In ascending order of rank, the titles used by Gaerdalian priests are Stern Watcher, Stem Observer, Stern Guard, Stern Sentinel, Stern Sentry, Stern Guardian, Stern Defender, and Stern Protector. High-ranking priests have unique individual titles. Specialty priests are known as sternshields.<br>

<b>Day-to-Day Activities:</b>
Gaerdal's priests are as close to being a warrior caste as one could find among gnomes. Their numbers are fairly small. They are much less given to levity than most gnomes and may often be administrators, judges, and the like. Their role as protectors is of major importance to both their religious teachings and the safety of the communities where they dwell. Although temples of the Shield of the Golden Hills are rare, Gaerdal's priests usually erect small statues of Gaerdal at major entrances to gnome settlements to remind other gnomes of their daily duties. The closest most members of Gaerdal's clergy get to actively seeking enjoyment is their perennial and self-assumed task of making life difficult for the followers of Baravar, and to a lesser extent, Baervan and Garl.<br>

<b>Holy Days/Important Ceremonies:</b>
The followers of Gaerdal refer to tenday periods as Tenhammers, a name referring to the marking of the passage of each day by striking a great hammer against a metal shield, for such is the typical length of service for guard duty for members of this faith. The tenth day of every ten Tenhammers is a holy day of the faith, known to gnomes everywhere as the Great Clang and on such days the cult of Gaerdal assembles to pay homage to the god through battle hymns and rhythmic chants.<br>

<b>Major Centers of Worship:</b>
The Rathgaunt Hills, located due east of Lake Lhespen and the Shaar, midway between the cities of Shaarmid and Sebben, are a dangerous and unforgiving region for surface dwellers, for many predators who hunt on the plains of the Shaar and Eastern Shaar, including perytons, wyverns, and manticores, dwell amidst these rocky crags. A scattered community of rock gnomes, well skilled in the art of camouflage, dwell in shallow burrows throughout the range of hills working small, scattered veins of gold and silver. The ever-present need to defend the burrows of the Forgotten Folk, coupled with the need for armed caravans to bring their wares to Shaarmid and the Great Rift for trade, has given unusual prominence to the cult of Gaerdal.

At the heart of Sevenstones Hill, a prominent tor whose rounded peak overlooks the northern branch of the Traders' Way to the east, lies the Shield of the Rathgaunt Hills, a fortified abbey of 200 warriors and priests whose vigorous efforts keep the range relatively safe for its gnome inhabitants. The temple's high priest and de facto leader of the scattered gnome enclaves is Shield Genera Martak Ironwall. The most notable aspect of Martak's term as Shield General has been the amicable resolution of many long-standing points of friction between the Forgotten Folk of the Rathgaunt Hills and the Stout Folk of the Great Rift, a development that recently led to a treaty of mutual defense between the two races and regions.<br>

<b>Affiliated Orders:</b>
The Shields of the Golden Hills are a strictly organized militant order with semiautonomous chapters in most large gnome communities. Strictly divided into four individual branches according to skill, this group includes specialty priests, fighters, fighter/clerics, and clerics. The Shields are charged with defending the Forgotten Folk against attackers as well as serving as both the champions and officers of any larger force raised by the gnomes in time of need.<br>

<b>Priestly Vestments:</b>
The ceremonial vestments of Gaerdal's clergy include a suit of chain mail, an open-faced helm, and a shield emblazoned with the god's device. The faith's holy symbol is an iron or steel band worn on the right forearm.<br>

<b>Adventuring Garb:</b>
The strictly functional ceremonial garb of priests of Gaerdal serves them well in dangerous situations. Nevertheless, members of the clergy acquire the best armor that they can afford, and most senior priests commission a suit of gnome-sized plate mail at some point in their lives.<br>

Last updated byDispater