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 Why the Wall of the Faithless?

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
keftiu Posted - 11 Feb 2020 : 03:18:50
This is more of a meta-discussion than a proper lore one, but I wanted the thoughts of the sages on this: what purpose does the Wall serve?

It seems like an odd moral judgment to make - revere a deity in life or face what is essentially an eternal punishment - and I was curious if anyone has ever heard reasoning from the authors why it’s a feature of the setting to begin with. I’d love to get a read on how everyone here feels about it as well, and if anyone discards it or has done a campaign perhaps asking questions about it and/or replacing or destroying it.
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
cpthero2 Posted - 05 Mar 2020 : 05:37:34
Master LordofBones,

The whole thing is ridiculously funny to be honest. The stuff that gets thrown out now days can be so contradictory it is hard to make any sense of it at times. I personally enjoy the idea of Moander as a mortal at some point in time. You know, the local garbage truck driver...

Best regards,




quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

It becomes funnier when you realize that, if all gods are ascended mortals, then Asmodeus, god of sin, has had his entire backstory retconned. The former anaphanct is now a bog standard mortal.

Then you have dudes like Raxivort and Kanchelsis, who were never mortal. Kanchy started off as a mass of corrupt divine blood; Raxivort was in Graz'zt's direct employ. Then there's Urdlen.

LordofBones Posted - 03 Mar 2020 : 07:45:58
It becomes funnier when you realize that, if all gods are ascended mortals, then Asmodeus, god of sin, has had his entire backstory retconned. The former anaphanct is now a bog standard mortal.

Then you have dudes like Raxivort and Kanchelsis, who were never mortal. Kanchy started off as a mass of corrupt divine blood; Raxivort was in Graz'zt's direct employ. Then there's Urdlen.
Irennan Posted - 03 Mar 2020 : 01:01:42
quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X
I also remember reading in an FR novel that all FR gods originated as mortals (I don't remember it well, but I guess it was Stardeep). And also, Mike Mearls said it in a podcast. But this can be a 5e thing.



This is obviously false, though, no matter how you (or better: they) try to spin it. It's pretty clear that entities like Selune and Shar predate any mortal--and they're not the only ones. If it's stated in Stardeep, then it's either the PoV being clueless or--if stated by an omniscient narrator--a blatant (and quite nonsensical) retcon. Given the novel in which it was stated (tail end of 3e) it was possibly part of the 4e reimagining of the pantheon (like the series of the "Selune=Sehanine" kind of retcons).
Zeromaru X Posted - 02 Mar 2020 : 16:19:37
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones


Nerull was only a 'loth in the Gygax novels. 3e's Nerull hates everyone and everything. He's the one power who lives in Carceri because he likes the place. He hates everything so much that he lets fiends eat the souls in his realm for funsies. The idea of him falling in love is so utterly alien that it's incomprehensible.

4e thoroughly retcons this, since the entire pantheon has been upended.

Then 5e upends this more, since Nerull is alive and well.



Well, I guess you didn't read the final 4e Dragon and Dungeon articles, so you may not know, but the Raven Queen was not a regular soul. She was specifically created by a group of gods who wanted to unseat Nerull, with all the traits that appeal to him the most. That's why he fell "in love" with her. And it was not a loving relation what they had. It's heavily implied their only son was born from a non-consensual act, and that Nerull was an abusive husband.

Is also implied that Nerull was not truly dead, just unable to enter the world (of the Dawn War pantheon) by the power of the Raven Queen. There was an aspect of him still active in Pluton, for instance. And he was not among the dead gods in the article about the... well, dead gods of the Dawn War pantheon.

This leads me to believe that only his (major) aspect on the Dawn War's world was killed, but the "main" Nerull was still alive and well in Oerth. In fact, I remember there is a source that mentioned that no matter if a god dies in one world, his "version" on other worlds will be unaffected by such an event.

Anyways, we know all the stories about the origins of the gods and what happened before mortals began to accurately record stuff are myths. They may have a kernel of truth, but aren't actual truths. And that is something that is specifically stated in all 4e sources, at least. In many 4e sources you will read that those stories are just a version of what may have happened and that the source may be taken with a grain of salt. That's why the Bane of the Dawn War has like 3 or 4 different origin myths.

So, there is a high chance the stories about the death of Nerull may just be a tale made up by the sages and priests of the Nentir Vale to try to explain why suddenly Nerull lost interest in their world and then the Raven Queen appeared from somewhere to take the portfolio of death. And this explanation is perfectly canon within 4e lore.

quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones where you got this, since we know that Hextor and Heironeous were born gods. The elder powers of the Forgotten Realms were born from the war between Shar and Selune. The Krynnish pantheon is made of born gods.



From a Planescape source, but I don't remember which one. I also remember reading in an FR novel that all FR gods originated as mortals (I don't remember it well, but I guess it was Stardeep). And also, Mike Mearls said it in a podcast. But this can be a 5e thing.
LordofBones Posted - 02 Mar 2020 : 03:36:08
quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X

quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones


The Dawn War pantheon is 4e, and had to rewrite Nerull's entire character.



It's canon, whether we like it or not, much like the Wall. That originated in 4e doesn't make less valid just because you have a bias against an edition.

And I have both 3e and 4e sources, and there is no difference between the two versions of Nerull, save that in 4e Nerull was an ascended human* and not a daemon/loth in disguise (tho, the 3e sources never mention the loth thing). I find the 4e version of Nerull pretty faithful to its 3e incarnation, in fact.


Nerull was only a 'loth in the Gygax novels. 3e's Nerull hates everyone and everything. He's the one power who lives in Carceri because he likes the place. He hates everything so much that he lets fiends eat the souls in his realm for funsies. The idea of him falling in love is so utterly alien that it's incomprehensible.

4e thoroughly retcons this, since the entire pantheon has been upended.

Then 5e upends this more, since Nerull is alive and well.



quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X*And according to Planescape, all gods are ascended mortals, so this isn't as preposterous as some people makes it to sound.




I don't know where you got this, since we know that Hextor and Heironeous were born gods. The elder powers of the Forgotten Realms were born from the war between Shar and Selune. The Krynnish pantheon is made of born gods.
LordofBones Posted - 02 Mar 2020 : 03:25:30
quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X

quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

To be fair, afterlife in Baator and the Abyss does allow for promotion. Orcus was a human necromancer-priest long before becoming tanar'ri lord of undeath.



Do you have the source for this? I sounds interesting.



Dead Gods.

It's somewhat the reason as to why Orcus is the most popular among mortal cultists; he simply resonates better with them. Graz'zt was born into power, Demogorgon was created for it, but Orcus crawled his way up from nothing through sheer grit and willpower to seize an Abyssal throne.
Ayrik Posted - 29 Feb 2020 : 19:32:57
quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X

quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

To be fair, afterlife in Baator and the Abyss does allow for promotion. Orcus was a human necromancer-priest long before becoming tanar'ri lord of undeath.



Do you have the source for this? I sounds interesting.

Many sources - numerous monster manual entries, half of Planescape, many splatbooks - before "fiends" were all lumped into one generic taxon.

Advancement is not certain. It takes lifetimes, centuries, millennia, aeons. Most souls do not survive the process, few indeed can reach the higher tiers. These are no longer whatever they once were, their previous existence(s) is(are) half-forgotten, only the rage and hatred and pain and cruelty and malign essence remains. Crucibles of hellfire burn away weaknesses, humanity, compassion, sanity - all that remains is pure, hard, condensed evil.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 29 Feb 2020 : 17:22:12
quote:
Originally posted by The Masked Mage

I don't know... I think the way he is bound is that he sits in judgment over those who died, but has no control over those that died before. Those souls have their place in the pantheon established already.

For those reasons the wall is and he has no control over it - aside from adding to it that is.



That's still not saying he can't change the rules or that Myrkul had some special power that Kelemvor doesn't.

I'm also unconvinced that Kelemvor couldn't do away with the Wall, provided that he found another method for those souls to be dissolved.
Zeromaru X Posted - 29 Feb 2020 : 16:24:29
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones


The Dawn War pantheon is 4e, and had to rewrite Nerull's entire character.



It's canon, whether we like it or not, much like the Wall. That originated in 4e doesn't make less valid just because you have a bias against an edition.

And I have both 3e and 4e sources, and there is no difference between the two versions of Nerull, save that in 4e Nerull was an ascended human* and not a daemon/loth in disguise (tho, the 3e sources never mention the loth thing). I find the 4e version of Nerull pretty faithful to its 3e incarnation, in fact.

Obviously, I don't have any other source prior to 3e so cannot say anything about them. But if you find 4e Nerull that different from the Greyhawk one, the blame lies in 3e.


*And according to Planescape, all gods are ascended mortals, so this isn't as preposterous as some people makes it to sound.

quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones


Other pantheons generally don't overstep into the resident death god's realm - the Oeridian pantheons don't meddle with Nerull or Wee Jas; the Olympians don't mess with Hades; the Celts leave Arawn be; the Faerunians don't meddle with Myrkul or Kelemvor; the Bureaucracy doesn't meddle with Yan Luo; the Norse leave Hel alone, etc.

The problem with the Wall is that it's simply the most blatant about it. I don't see protests being raised about Nerull turning souls into bricks for his realm, or the Norse dishonorable dead having to deal with poisonous snakes and hellhounds.



Didn't knew about the Oeridian punishment for their dead, but I know the Nordic did something about it. There is no wonder why Odin and Freya both created alternatives to Niflheim, so that at least they could give their favored worshipers a better afterlive. At least, in their actual mythology. I dunno how they modified it to fit the Great Wheel.

As for Hades, we all know the Greek gods are jerks.
Zeromaru X Posted - 29 Feb 2020 : 16:07:11
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

To be fair, afterlife in Baator and the Abyss does allow for promotion. Orcus was a human necromancer-priest long before becoming tanar'ri lord of undeath.



Do you have the source for this? I sounds interesting.
LordofBones Posted - 29 Feb 2020 : 07:13:57
To be fair, afterlife in Baator and the Abyss does allow for promotion. Orcus was a human necromancer-priest long before becoming tanar'ri lord of undeath.
Ayrik Posted - 29 Feb 2020 : 04:41:20
I don't see protests about the fates suffered by evil, godless, soulless folk in the generic Gygaxian Great Wheel either. I can't imagine an afterlife in the Nine Hells or in the Infinite Abyss would be a pleasant experience. Even fiends don't enjoy it.

Real-world mythologies and religions have invented cruel punishments just as bad or worse than The Wall. Is having your soul gradually dissolved by a cosmic solvent really as bad as having your soul remain intact for the rest of eternity simply so you can suffer endless anguish and torment? Viewed from this perspective I think The Wall seems almost merciful.
LordofBones Posted - 29 Feb 2020 : 03:00:38
quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X

As a matter of fact, the Dawn War pantheon did took matters into their hands when Nerull overstepped into his stewardship of the dead, and expelled him from their world -- by creating the Raven Queen to kill Nerull's aspect in that world and maintain him barred from ever re-entering, and then just forced the Raven Queen to follow strict rules about the treatment of the dead.



The Dawn War pantheon is 4e, and had to rewrite Nerull's entire character. Other pantheons generally don't overstep into the resident death god's realm - the Oeridian pantheons don't meddle with Nerull or Wee Jas; the Olympians don't mess with Hades; the Celts leave Arawn be; the Faerunians don't meddle with Myrkul or Kelemvor; the Bureaucracy doesn't meddle with Yan Luo; the Norse leave Hel alone, etc.

The problem with the Wall is that it's simply the most blatant about it. I don't see protests being raised about Nerull turning souls into bricks for his realm, or the Norse dishonorable dead having to deal with poisonous snakes and hellhounds.
The Masked Mage Posted - 29 Feb 2020 : 02:46:49
I don't know... I think the way he is bound is that he sits in judgment over those who died, but has no control over those that died before. Those souls have their place in the pantheon established already.

For those reasons the wall is and he has no control over it - aside from adding to it that is.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 26 Feb 2020 : 16:15:47
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

MotB makes an interesting point that Kelemvor can't actually reverse his predecessor's policies. To quote Myrkul:

"Despite your ego, the universe does not bend to your whims... and it is I who set the rules long ago."

Which brings up an interesting point: the Wall is a weapon, a club of belief...in Myrkul.




I think Myrkul was talking out his bony backside, there. The rules of the universe don't bend to Myrkul's whim any more than they bend to Kelemvor's. All deities in the Realms must follow Ao's rules - and one of those rules is that the deity that controls a portfolio has full control over it.

If the god of the dead can set a rule, then the god of the dead can change that rule -- it's an aspect of the office and is not going to follow a previous office holder when he leaves that office.

If Kelemvor can't remove the Wall, than either it was mandated by Ao, or there's some other reason that it has to be there that's beyond Myrkul or Kelemvor -- and the former clearly did not want to admit to that.
Zeromaru X Posted - 26 Feb 2020 : 14:54:51
As a matter of fact, the Dawn War pantheon did took matters into their hands when Nerull overstepped into his stewardship of the dead, and expelled him from their world -- by creating the Raven Queen to kill Nerull's aspect in that world and maintain him barred from ever re-entering, and then just forced the Raven Queen to follow strict rules about the treatment of the dead.

So, I see it more as something that the gods of the Realms doesn't care about to change rather than something they cannot change. That, or Lord Ao enforces the existence of the Wall. I can see him doing it. The guy is rather a merciless prick who is obsessed with maintaining the status quo regardless if the new things are better...
LordofBones Posted - 26 Feb 2020 : 03:12:30
MotB makes an interesting point that Kelemvor can't actually reverse his predecessor's policies. To quote Myrkul:

"Despite your ego, the universe does not bend to your whims... and it is I who set the rules long ago."

Which brings up an interesting point: the Wall is a weapon, a club of belief...in Myrkul.

Yes, Kelemvor can change his domain. Yes, he can institute new laws. But what he can't actually do is reverse or alter decisions made by his predecessor, who was acting well within the bounds of his office as Lord of the Dead. Myrkul may have been evil, but as far as we know, he did his job well and kept his domain tidy. It's not like the Oeridian pantheon's up in arms over Nerull bricking petitioners into the walls of his domain, or the Aesir are out against Hel for her treatment of the Nordic dead.

Death gods are basically given leeway over how they treat the petitioners of their respective pantheons, even those who don't worship them in their own crystal sphere.
Zeromaru X Posted - 26 Feb 2020 : 00:20:51
Yeah, you're right. However, I guess that is like when people dislikes something so hard, they don't want it near lol. Like those people that complaints about 4e, but don't even have the books...
Wooly Rupert Posted - 25 Feb 2020 : 15:52:55
quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X

I stand corrected, then. Though I still don't like the idea of that ugly Wall looming in my Realms..




The Wall is more problematic than it's worth, at the moment... But it's also something that has almost no bearing on anything -- it's not like it's going to come up in game play, unless you either deliberately bring it into focus or you've got a Faithless (N)PC who can't avoid getting killed.

It's like worrying about Halruaa when your characters never leave the Heartlands.
Zeromaru X Posted - 25 Feb 2020 : 12:42:19
I stand corrected, then. Though I still don't like the idea of that ugly Wall looming in my Realms..
Demzer Posted - 25 Feb 2020 : 10:39:12
quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X

If we go by canon, yes. I'm going to ignore the LFR adventures as they are of dubious canonicity, but if you read any canon sources (sourcebooks, magazines and novels) about the Abeiran displaced lands, the only church you're going to find is the Church of Bahamut in Tymanther. And then, the Church of Enlil, also in Tymanther, but that is from a "recent" novel. So, for like a century, the only god interested in the souls of the Abeirans (or the dragonborn, in this case) was Bahamut. A whole country of tens of thousands potential worshipers, and just one god trying to convert them (yeah, a few dragonborn worship other gods, but those converts are on an individual basis, not organized churches or even cults).

And this leaves out places such as Akanūl and Laerakond (a whole continent), that have no god vying for those souls.

So, if we go by the canon materials, the gods are not trying to convert the Abeirans, even when gods gain a lot from worshipers. To me, this means two things: either the gods are holding back for some reasons, or they are not interested in the Abeirans, and are in a diva attitude of "you must come to me", that I don't see as something "good". And seeing how Enlil came out from nowhere and began to claim dragonborn worshipers without no one saying nothing about it, I guess there is no restriction in the Abeiran souls.

And if a god is not interested in a soul, and such soul is not interested in a god (even if such lack of interest is justifiable), then I guess those souls are going to be mortared in the Wall.



But these canon information you cite, to me only tell that in some places the Faerunian (well more the Untheric) pantheon is encroaching on the dragonborn and trying to get converts. Just like the Faerunian pantheon was doing in the Old Empires pre-Spellplague, trying to get a foothold somewhere they had no power previously and get those souls too.

But just like with the Mulhorandi and Untheri and Chessentan who followed their own gods of old, the Abeirans are probably not subject to the dictates of Kelemvor and the Faerunian pantheon.

Wooly fished out the tweet by Ed I was referring to before and I agree with the following:

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

So not all of the dead go to Kelemvor; he only sees worshippers of the Faerūnian pantheon. So followers of other pantheons go elsewhere.

This would mean that whether on Faerūn, Abeir, or Laerakond, dead Abeirrans go to whatever fate awaited their ancestors. Kelemvor doesn't get them unless they convert, and either way, they don't go into the Wall.



In hundreds of years of time, maybe, if most of the dragonborn and genasi and whatever else came from Abeir convert (which is not a given, as you [Zeromaru X] were pointing out how on Abeir the concept of divinity and "patrons" is completely different) then they will be subject to Kelemvor's (or whoever will be the Faerunian God of Death then) rules. But for the time being it seems much easier to me to assume that the Abeiran souls keep following their old path to the afterlife, be it instantaneous oblivion, reincarnation, dissolvence into the Planes or whatever they did for millenia before the merging of the worlds.

Assuming that the good gods are not trying to get converts among the Abeirans because they are acting like divas shows a clear bias on the idea of divinity and religion which doesn't belong in the setting.
A much more reasonable assumption would be to think that most good gods respect the Abeirans traditions and indipendence and don't want to even try conversions.

I also think that if everyone (every god) started blurring the philosophical border of what region/ethnic group is or isn't within the Faerunian pantheon (in the case of a big wave of proselytisation that involved a lot of different churches) then you will have problems with Kelemvor having "legal grounds" to process Abeiran souls and then some (probably a lot of) people might get screwed.

Of course this is all interpretation of the scattered information we have but I like it better when new and old "canon" are gelled together to make sense (ie the good gods have a good reason to not touch the Abeirans) then jumping to conclusions which would invalidate a lot of well established facts (ie Ilmater fought for millenia against oppression and tyranny and slavery ... and then stands by while thousands or possibly millions of souls get damned for eternity without giving a s**t).
The Masked Mage Posted - 25 Feb 2020 : 08:09:06
quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

I feel there are a bit too many misconceptions being fueled here which I feel stem from drawing parallels with our real world where they don't belong.



My point, succinctly put
Wooly Rupert Posted - 25 Feb 2020 : 01:52:41
A recent Twitter exchange from Ed:

quote:
@Razzelmire

@TheEdVerse went on Twitter just to ask this. Is Kelemvor in charge of all souls or Faerunian pantheon only? What about Mulhorandi pantheon? Do Giant, Dragon, Mind Flayer, Elf, Dwarf, etc souls go to him or to their own respective judgments?


@TheEdVerse

Kelemvor’s clergy will tell you that Kelemvor governs the fate of all souls. However, this is (honestly believed by those who say it) church propaganda. In other words, it isn’t true; the truth is that Kelemvor can’t even keep up with judging all Faerūnian pantheon=worshipping human souls. So, yes, the souls of nonhuman beings go to other judges and judgments, some souls get lost and “wander,” and humans who worship the Mulhorandi pantheon or other deities not of Toril encounter other judges. It seems to vary on a case-by-case basis, which really means mortals are struggling to understand the afterlife, and various faiths are attempting to provide answers which likely have more to do with reassurance and doctrine than reality. Or to put it in the very apt words of a real-world faith: “It’s a mystery.”
#Realmslore


So not all of the dead go to Kelemvor; he only sees worshippers of the Faerūnian pantheon. So followers of other pantheons go elsewhere.

This would mean that whether on Faerūn, Abeir, or Laerakond, dead Abeirrans go to whatever fate awaited their ancestors. Kelemvor doesn't get them unless they convert, and either way, they don't go into the Wall.
Seethyr Posted - 24 Feb 2020 : 22:10:01
quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
.
There are only two points that I would like people to actually take a step back and think hard on and these are:
1) check your atheism/agnosticism/general faith at the door because we are talking about a fantasy setting with a few gods of oozes(!), a lot of the points raised in the discussion interpret the gods (all of them) as malevolent power hungry billionaires toying with mortal souls and call into question monotheism which is basically non-existent in the setting;
2) Myrkul did it, not "the Christians", as much as I understand in our modern world it's more fashionable to claim faith in Banjo the Clown than Christianity, it gets tiring seeing in a forum on a fantasy setting my faith being called out quite explicitly without reason, I would like to be afforded the same amount of respect anyone of any other belief seems to be entitled to;



I often stay out of these discussions myself, but this response deserves quite a bit of love. Seconded.
Zeromaru X Posted - 24 Feb 2020 : 20:40:12
quote:
Originally posted by Demzer


So you automatically assume that gods that represent the best aspects of human life, some of which sacrificed a lot for their mortal followers for eons untold, are just standing by and tossing souls to the Wall because they don't give a s**t and it's all a big lie ... instead of, you know, maybe understanding how the afterlife worked in Abeir, since, as far as I am aware, people died in Abeir too before the merging?

Considering that other pantheons with racial deities of death receive their own treatment it means that there are already exception to the main Faerunian pantheon way of handling things. Also considering that people died on Abeir without any godly intervention (in any direction), I would not automatically assume the dragonborn are screwed.

Going on a wild guess, since I really don't know, taking into account the more "primal" and elemental nature of Abeir I can hypothesise that the souls of whoever dies there end up in the old way, feeding the Planes.

I would not automatically assume that since no word has been said in canon print about dragonborn afterlife than all of Toril's goodly divine beings are d**ks because ... well that's not very logical ...

At the end of the story, Lord Ao is calling the shots in both worlds and I'm assuming there is already an "Aberian soul-processing procedure 101.pdf" file he/she/it can slip into Kelemvors hands to get the dragonborn their due.



If we go by canon, yes. I'm going to ignore the LFR adventures as they are of dubious canonicity, but if you read any canon sources (sourcebooks, magazines and novels) about the Abeiran displaced lands, the only church you're going to find is the Church of Bahamut in Tymanther. And then, the Church of Enlil, also in Tymanther, but that is from a "recent" novel. So, for like a century, the only god interested in the souls of the Abeirans (or the dragonborn, in this case) was Bahamut. A whole country of tens of thousands potential worshipers, and just one god trying to convert them (yeah, a few dragonborn worship other gods, but those converts are on an individual basis, not organized churches or even cults).

And this leaves out places such as Akanūl and Laerakond (a whole continent), that have no god vying for those souls.

So, if we go by the canon materials, the gods are not trying to convert the Abeirans, even when gods gain a lot from worshipers. To me, this means two things: either the gods are holding back for some reasons, or they are not interested in the Abeirans, and are in a diva attitude of "you must come to me", that I don't see as something "good". And seeing how Enlil came out from nowhere and began to claim dragonborn worshipers without no one saying nothing about it, I guess there is no restriction in the Abeiran souls.

And if a god is not interested in a soul, and such soul is not interested in a god (even if such lack of interest is justifiable), then I guess those souls are going to be mortared in the Wall.

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