Garagos is a deity associated with the rampaging destruction and plundering of war, rather than tactics, strategies, or armies. The Reaver is linked with the mad bloodlust that overtakes some warriors, resulting in horrifying carnage.
Garagos himself scorns the use of armor (though he does not care if his priests wear it) and admires those who give in to battle-lust and merciless destruction in conflict, destroying all that lies in their path and taking no prisoners. He is blood-thirsty and single-minded. He angers quickly and cools down from an emotional boil very slowly. He is feared for the damage he can do and the uncontrolled nature of his fury.
Once Garagos was an honored deity of war, a being associated more with military victory through fury and perseverance. He eventually came into conflict with the young demigod Tempus, who vied for his dominance over warcraft. The Tome of Foehammer's Triumph, a collection of scriptures held holy by the church of Tempus, tells of a century-long battle in which the Lord of Battle finally defeated Garagos by turning the Reaver's mindless fury against him.
Long though slain, Garagos reappeared in the recent past, either awakened from ageless slumber or resurrected by a devoted cult of worshipers. His newest incarnation seems utterly devoid of the craftiness he once possessed. Instead, Garagos is a being of idiot rage, a violent six-armed whirlwind of carnage that seems to exist only to destroy. It is believed these changes to his mentality forced him to move his divine realm from chaotic Limbo to the more dour/insane Pandemonium, either that or he was secretly in love with someone (it is not mentioned who, although his clergy are forbidden from acting against the church of Shar) and the move to Pandemonium represented him giving up all hope. Others say that Garagos had just started his decline into pure evil, with his realm moving with him.
Garagos attracts those with a cruel, destructive, reckless streak. Berserkers and sadists who eschew mercy and enjoy causing destruction and eradicating opposing forces often call on Garagos for extra aid even when they profess to worship another deity such as Tempus or Talos. The Reaver has also become something of a fashionable god among brigands, outcasts, and those who regularly raid other peoples or settlements for plunder. The goal of every worshiper of Garagos the Reaver is to be covered in their enemy's blood at the heart of a conflict they initiated.
The Garagathan faith is not really organized overall. It exists as a number of independent churches with individual hierarchies. Many rival churches often fight each other for dominance.
Clerics of Garagos, known as Bloodreavers, spend their days formenting strife throughout the continent, knowing that each conflict contributes to Garagos' continuing rebirth. They believe that Garagos eventually will regain his divine strength, unseating the hated Lord of Battles and reclaiming the mantle of Deity of War. They continually create and expand networks of spies, faithful warriors, and other agents to increase the power of the cult, and the leadership of a cult cell is usually determine by the result of power plays between the agents of rival clerics.
Senior clergy of the Reaver are charged with renewing and expanding an ever-growing network of informers, agents, sympathizers, and faithful warriors—and of training and disciplining such folk. The performance of a priest's charges reflect on the priest, for good or for ill, so they often set spies upon their agents, and activate back-up teams to carry out a mission if the first team fails. At the highest levels, Garagathan priests spend their days in ruthless power plays against rival senior clergy members seeking to become head of one of the various independent churches of Garagos.
VestmentsPriests of Garagos wear the best armor they can obtain, though it is usually extremely battle-worn. Many clergy members wear red boots and gloves. High priests usually wear scarlet or crimson overrobes or tabards. Specialty priests often have embroidery or ruby ornaments on their ceremonial robes in the shapes of teardrops of blood. Garagathan clergy members may have belt buckles or cloak pins fashioned with the symbol of Garagos or even bear dagger-like belt weapons sporting a basket hilt in the shape of a whirlwind of five blades.
Priests of Garagos wear almost the same outfits in the fields as they do to ceremonial functions, sporting armor, red boots and gloves, crimson capes, and decorative ornamentation in the shape of Garagos' symbol.
HierarchyGaragathan clergy members address each other as "Bloodbrother" and "Bloodsister," adding "High" as a mark of respect if they are speaking to a priest of four or more levels greater than their own. They eschew formal titles beyond the rough rankings of Supplicant (novice), Priest/Priestess of the Blood (full priest), Reaver Lord/Lady (senior priests), and Favored (veteran senior clergy of ruling rank). This last title is added to whatever fanciful, self-styled rank the senior priest wishes to assume, such as Favored High Reaver Danagar the Blood-Drenched or Favored Storm of Battles Fingore Master of Reavers. When attached to a military forces (a rare thing), priests may also hold a rank within that force.
TemplesMany temples of Garagos are hidden beneath cities. Sewers and underground passages are rife with his old altars and symbols. Some temples are located outside cities, in secret caverns or hidden forest enclaves, and are staging areas for causing strife in certain cities, towns and trade routes. All his temples have an altar where bloody sacrifices are performed.
RitualsBloodreavers pray for spells in the morning. Ceremonies to the Lord of War typically involve bloodletting as well as anointing the faithful in the blood of their enemies. Though a few well-kept clerics prefer to sow discord through guile in the courts of cities across Faerûn, most of Garagos' feral clerics eschew bathing, proudly wearing multiple coats of enemy blood.
The blood obsessions of the cult of the Master of All Weapons has led many to conclude that services to Garagos involve some degree of vampirism, but a direct link has never been proven. Indeed, most vampires would be more likely to treat a blood-soaked cleric of Garagos as a particularly hearty meal than consider him an ally.
There are no calendar-related Garagathan religious rituals. Any gathering of seven or more priests may call a Blood Festival. A Blood Festival involves a feast wherein at least some of the food must be butchered at or next to the table and subsequently devoured while still bloody (that is, not fully cooked). Initiations of priests to the Full Blood, the ceremony by which novices are made into full priests, must take place at a Blood Festival. Initiation into the Full Blood involves dipping the supplicants' hands into fresh blood and then painting their cheeks with the symbol of Garagos with blood. The blood used must be that of one or more monsters (dangerous creatures) slain by the supplicants to be initiated and full priests of Garagos with no other assistance.
OrdersThe few crusaders of the Garagathan faith all belong to the Brothers of Blood, an order dedicated to crushing the foes of Garagos. Its members unfortunately tend to die young, however, as making constant attacks on the church of Tempus tends to make anyone's life short and bloody. The various independent churches of Garagos have ties to the Red Wizards, the Zhentarim, the Iron Throne, and the Shadow Thieves, though none of these connections are very strong. For unknown reasons, Garagos forbids acting against the church of Shar, though he also does not allow his churches to ally with hers.
Peace is for weak fools. War makes all participants strong, and only in head-to-head conflict is honor satisfied. Only cowards avoid battle. Any who strike down a foe from ambush or from behind demonstrate cowardice. Retreat is never an option, even in the face of a greater foe, for it a warrior's heart is focused on Garagos, the deity will provide strength enough to conquer any enemy.
Garagos prefers to appear as a rugged-looking, scarred, half-naked giant of a man wielding a different weapon in each of his many hands. He can grow arms out of his massive shoulders at will, and he never has fewer than five. His skin is red, covered by a misty cloud of red blood droplets that stream from his weapons. Within this cloud of blood a faint, continuous wailing can be heard. Priests of Garagos say this sound is "the lament of the lost, as their essences flow out of them into the blood sea of battle." Garagos himself scorns the use of armor.
Garagos also works his will through berserkers, both alive and dead, and through inspiring a berserk frenzy in a being. Garagos also acts or shows his favor through the appearance or presence of wolverines, weasels, aurumvorae, worgs, dire wolves, and red-and-black hued gemstones.
Tempus merely tolerated Garagos for reasons of his own, reasons that many Realms scholars believed stemmed from the fact that Tempus disliked mindless slaughter and destruction, and would be obliged to take on that portfolio if he slew his rival. Though both were chaotic neutral in moral alignment, Garagos was far more heedless than Tempus in what war wrought, reveling in destruction and slaughter while the greater deity valued honorable combat; this distinction between the different modes of war they represented may be the reason that Ao did not enforce his otherwise strict edict against portfolio sharing by stripping one or the other of his dominance over War.