<i>Master of All Thieves, Lord of Shadows</i><br>

<b>Symbol:</b> Black velvet mask tinged with red<br>
<b>Home Plane</b>: Niflheim/Shadow Keep<br>
<b>Alignment</b>: NE<br>
<b>Portfolio</b>: Shadows, thievery, thieves<br>
<b>Domains</b>: Darkness Evil Luck Trickery <br>
<b>Worshipers</b>: Assassins, beggars, criminals, rogues, shades, shadowdancers<br>
<b>Aliases</b>: N/A <br>
<b>Cleric Alignments:</b> LE, NE, CE<br>
<b>Favored Weapon:</b> Longsword – "Stealthwhisper"<br>

Mask (MASK) was the deity of intrigue along with being the patron of thieves, but his disastrous perusal of the Cyrinishad led to Cyric being able to steal this aspect of his portfolio from him. One school of thought believed the god totally destroyed after reading the Cyrinishad and having his Godsbane avatar form destroyed by Cyric, another held that Mask was totally subsumed by Cyric, and a third school believed that Mask, engaged in his own intrigues, faked his loyalty to Cyric and later his own death. The truth is that Mask survived the enslaving effects of the Cyrinishad and the destruction of a major avatar form at great cost, losing much of his godly power in the process.

Mask had allowed his intrigue with Cyric to progress so far that he had neglected his own worshipers and was effectively but a lesser power when hit by the effects of the Cyrinishad. When forced to cut away part of his divine power, leaving it in Cyric’s hands, Mask was temporarily reduced to the status of a demipower. To make matters worse, Mask crossed a powerful extraplanar entity known as Kezef the Chaos Hound, who has sworn eternal revenge. Mask cannot remain too long in one location or Kezef catches up to him, and Mask does not wish to confront the Chaos Hound until he regains the status of an intermediate power that he had just after the Godswar. Such is the price of intrigue, a price that Mask has paid dearly. (The Chaos Hound’s chase has slowed somewhat of late, though, as it becomes distracted by the new-found joys of freedom after so many years of imprisonment.)

Mask’s form is ever-changing in regard to appearance—and his true form is not known for sure. Mask remains the patron of thieves, and there his faith is strongest. After a year of frenzied activity by his priests on his behalf (at his encouragement), Mask has taken shadows into his portfolio and managed to climb to the status of lesser power. However, Mask is still a weakened power and walks (or runs, when the Chaos Hound is abroad) carefully in his dealings with the other powers. For the time being, he wants to remain out of the sight (and hopefully out of the mind) of Cyric, who might still covet his remaining power, but he is already plotting ways and means to regain that which he lost to the Mad God.

Mask is very self-possessed and confident—too confident for his own good. He enjoys erecting convoluted and intricate plots to achieve his ends and then playing them out to his benefit. As he has recently learned, however, such predilections proved a weakness for him, and he is now trying much more direct methods to accomplish his goals than before in order to avoid such needless—and unwanted—plot twists as nearly cost him his life and his godhood in his manipulations of Cyric.

All that which occurs within shadow is in the purview of Mask. Ownership is nine-tenths of what is right, and if a person happens to currently have something, it is his or hers. Previous ownership does not count. Therefore, the day belongs to the quick, the smooth-tongued, and the lightfingered. Stealth and wariness are virtues, as are glibness and the ability to sound smooth-tongued and conciliatory while taking control of a situation or twisting it to your advantage. (Needless to say, the writings of a true follower of Mask can be read in many ways.)

The Unproven in the church of Mask are charged as follows: .Wealth rightfully belongs to those who can acquire it. Strive to end each day with more material wealth than you began it with, but steal what is most vital, not everything that is to hand. Honesty is for fools, but apparent honesty is a very valuable thing. Make every untruth seem plausible, and never lie when you can cleave to the truth but leave a mistaken impression.a bridge burned means much rebuilding if you need to cross over there again. Subtlety is everything. A bribe is the least subtle of the tools Mask gives to us. Never force someone to do something when you can manipulate them into doing it and thinking the decision and the deed are entirely their own freewilled work. Never do the obvious, except to conceal a secondary or tertiary deed or arrangement. Spin secrets atop secrets, but do so unconcernedly, not with the sly excitement of untutored youth. Trust in the shadows, for the bright way makes for easy targets..

Mask sometimes appears as a drifting, amorphous darkness, that may or may not have or grow a cowled human head. He also manifests as whispery, soft, chuckling laughter or an utterly black, nailless human hand that can carry or wield items, point, emit dust and write in it, or grasp and choke beings, chilling and strangling and preventing forward movement, speech, or spellcasting, but always releasing the foe at the end. The cloud of darkness can enter or pass through any known barrier without taking harm, but vanishes if struck by spells. The touch of these manifestations opens locks, causes manacles, chains, and bindings to crumble and fall away, and allows faithful worshipers to be protected for a day by an ironguard spell, just as the touch of Mask’s avatar does. <br>

Mask also acts through the appearance or presence of annis (hags), dopplegangers, ettercaps, kenku, verbeeg, wererats, werewolves, werefoxes, shadow monsters (creatures as from the wizard spell shadow monsters made permanent by the power of Mask), shadow dragons, and undead shadows. More commonly he sends a shadow where there should be none, smoke-gray horses, iron-gray or black cats, gray dogs, gloomwing moths or tenebrous worms, gray goats, vapor flowers, smoky quartz, gray chalcedony, gray and banded onyx, ravenar, rogue stone, common crows, condors, and gray doves to show his favor or displeasure and as a sign to inspire his faithful.<br>

<b>The Church of Mask:</b>
The followers of Mask have been reduced to their central core: thieves and thieves. guilds. (However, in addition to thieves and more shadowy individuals, courtiers and diplomats have also been known to evoke the Shadowlord ‘s name in hope of guaranteeing a smooth negotiation.) Many guilds still have their shrines to the god, and in those regions where thievery is not actively frowned upon, temples to Mask survive. The priesthood of Mask is independent in each major city or region to prevent the frequent actions against one thieves. guild or temple from spilling over and affecting others.

The hierarchy makes use of clerics, specialty priests, and thieves in about a 30/40/30 ratio. Clergy of Mask are known as Maskarran. Specialty priests of Mask are called demarchesses (deh-mar-KESS-es) if female and demarchs (deh-MARKS) if male. There has been a significant increase in the number of specialty priests in the faith since Mask lost status as a deity; he feels that specialty priests are the most effective adjunct to the thieves who are his mainstay of worship and so has been furiously encouraging their recruitment and advancement by gifting them with more special abilities than before.

In areas with a single strong thieves. guild, the temple or shrine to Mask is usually connected to the guild hall via underground tunnels. In large cities with competing guilds, the temple is in an underground location and is recognized as neutral ground by all sides. Maskarran strive to keep hidden these days, sometimes holding services of worship in underground shrines (often cellars reached by old sewers) and often keeping hidden inside local thieves. guilds. It is to the advantage of such seasoned conspirators as Maskarran that many folk of Faerûn think Mask is dead, and his worship reduced to scattered, bewildered cults.

Maskarran address each other as .Brother/Sister Shadow,. regardless of rank, and hold the titles (in order of rank): Unproven (novices), Proven Brother/Sister, Veteran Brother/Sister, and Master Brother/Sister, with the leader of a temple assuming the title Lord/Lady Master. The elite of Maskarran are largely specialty priests, but nonspecialty priest high priests are known as Hidden Ones.

<b>Day-to-Day Activities:</b>
Maskarran are perhaps the wealthiest clergy in the Realms, second only to those of Waukeen before the Time of Troubles.
They able to call on untold wealth stolen in the past and hidden away in secret places. Maskarran do not hoard and gloat over their takings like dwarves croon over gold; they actively use it to buy agents, bribe officials, sway agreements, and manipulate folk to do thus and so, working behind the scenes to achieve mysterious ends. The mark of a successful priest of Mask is to state to a superior that this or that end (in international politics or the doings within a realm) will be worked toward and achieved within such-andsuch a time.and then fulfill this promise. Maskarran who fail in their promises seldom rise far in the hierarchy, though several attempts at bringing something about are perfectly acceptable so long as none of them too obviously reveal the priest at work behind the scenes.

From day-to-day Maskarran typically tend to their plots and provide support to and collect tithes from individual thieves and thieves. guilds. Each church of Mask has its own policy about reporting .rogue. thieves to the guild of a region: Some provide aid but covertly inform the local guild, others refuse aid and inform, and still others provide aid to whoever pays the proper tithe and inform no one,

<b>Holy Days/Important Ceremonies:</b>
There are no calendar-related rituals in the Church of Mask, but at every full temple of the god, the Ritual of the Unseen Presence is celebrated at least once a month. This ritual is an acknowledgment in chanted verse, hymns, and offerings of wealth.coinage stolen by the faithful that is melted down in altar-flanking braziers or crucibles .of the constant regard of Mask, who sees all deeds, however well hidden.

Lay worshipers and Maskarran also participate in daily Sunset Prayers, in which they kneel, proffer coins to the clergy and worship before the Altar of the Masked God. Praying junior clergy members give coins to senior clergy members, and the highest-ranking priest of a holy house of Mask gives his or her coin to the lowest-ranking priest present in recognition of the wry humor of Mask, who so often makes the high low, and the low high. The Altar of the Masked God is always a massive stone block over which floats an enspelled black velvet, fur, or silk mask of giant size (6 feet across or more) or which has a mosaic in inlaid precious gemstones of a similar giant mask behind it.
The Church of Mask has darker rituals associated with the elevation of clergy members in rank known only to the initiated. These secret observances and the Ritual of the Unseen Presence are always guarded by striking shadows spells cast by senior clergy members to slay or keep away eavesdroppers

<b>Major Centers of Worship:</b>
The House of the Master’s Shadow in Telflamm, where Lord Master Most Hidden Jalaunther Ithbreeiur leads over 300 Maskarran in worship, is the largest temple to Mask in Faerûn. Jalaunther has initiated several energetic programs designed to build the ranks of Mask’s faithful, including a network of undercover contacts in all major cities of Faerûn who double as information-gatherers and the spreaders of rumors about this or that treasure (to attract the interest of those interested in thievery). These agents, known as .local shadows,. identify important thieves and those rebellious to authority and approach both of these sorts of folk to recruit them to the faith or at least offer them training.for thievery or intrigue. Jalaunther has also set his clergy members the twin tasks of building their temple magic (including the spells they are currently researching) into a network of powerful, practical stealth and battle magic and working themselves into positions where they can influence the politics of all realms in Faerûn behind the scenes. Needless to say, these ambitious goals are achieving success only slowly.<br>

<b>Affiliated Orders:</b>
The church of the Shadowlord has no affiliated knightly orders. Members of the clergy who have pulled off a particularly daring heist or intricate piece of manipulation of people and events are often admitted (voted on by acclamation at a secret yearly meeting of members of the order) to the Circle of the Gray Ribbon. Many thieves. guilds (as well as individual thieves) throughout Faerûn have connections to the church and rely on it for medical and tactical support.<br>

<b>Priestly Vestments:</b>
Maskarran wear no badges of rank nor differing vestments, but all senior clergy members strive to purchase, have made, or (preferably) steal such useful items as slippers of spider climbing, teleport rings, rings of shadow (that generate darkness 15. radius at will of a sort that their wearers can see through), rings of invisibility, wands of viscid globs, ropes of entanglement, and protective garments enchanted to provide feather fall protection (as well as a wide array of enchanted weapons and armor).

Ceremonial Maskarran dress consists of tunics and trousers in a bright motley. The tunics sport ballooned sleeves and cuffs and bright embroidery, displaying wealth. The entire outfit is covered with a full-length, hooded gray cloak that can be drawn shut to hide the bright color beneath. A black cloth mask is worn beneath the hood. In some areas where Mask has fallen on particularly hard times, the gray cloak and mask only are worn as a symbol of the Shadowlord’s favor.

Inside a temple of Mask, the masks are of black gauze and do not conceal the identity of the wearer; in public, such masks are usually thick, black wool or heavy, double-thick silk and extend to cover most of the face in an effective disguise. (A bearded priest, for example, would have a mask that extended well down over the chin.) There is a saying that “the degree of law in a town can be seen on the face of a priest of Mask.”

<b>Adventuring Garb:</b>
Priests of Mask are encouraged to hide their true nature and masquerade as other priests or commoners. Normal dress for clerics of Mask is similar to that of any merchant, craftsperson, or adventurer in the area or similar to that of any armored battle cleric or itinerant adventuring cleric of any faith. Specialty priests of Mask usually dress as thieves in leather or other light armor or assume the guise of typical peasants one might meet on any town’s or village’s streets.<br>

Last updated byDispater