Lliira, the Joybringer, Mistress of Revels, and Lady of Joy, is the goddess of joy, happiness, contentment, dance, festivals, and freedom. Not to be confused with Leira.
Lliira is the perpetually moving maiden of countless ballads, embodying happiness, freedom, and joyful movement - ever-changing, ever-moving, ever alive. She is the archetypal dancing ingenue that has inspired poets, songwriters, and any who revel in the experience and wonderment of a life lived gaily and free. Somewhat detached from the everyday events of the mundane world, Lliira speaks to her most devoted adherents in dreams, showing by example that most slights are not worth worrying about, and that few troubles are important enough to draw one away from the Elysian Rigadoon, a philosophy that places joyful movement above all other concerns. She is not an ambitious deity, nor does she like pretense, so she is rather uncomfortable with her new role in the events surrounding the disappearance of Waukeen.
Lliira's followers are believers in the ability, potential, and talent of the individual, and the celebration of life and its diversity. She attracts all sorts of fun-loving hedonists. They believe that they should spread joy wherever and whenever possible, and allow no one to be sad when mirth or comfort could be given to them. They strive to brighten the hearts and minds of all the folk they meet, not merely friends and others who embrace Lliira. She receives offerings from lay worshippers and casual worshippers seeking her blessing for a particular party, revel, festival, or other gathering. Lliirans (priests and lay worshipers of Lliira) have a well-deserved reputation as festival animals.
Joybringer novices are charged as follows by a manifestation of the goddess: "Exult in life, and find joy in all things. Out of grief and despair, wrest joy, and join in the dance. Celebrate and honor deaths and the dead - the best mourning is laughing remembrance. My true servants seek joy always through working to bestow it on others. Hide no true feelings, but dance them out if it is not prudent to speak them aloud. Gather into celebrations the lost, the lonely, the exiled and outlaw, the shunned, and even your foes - Festivals are for all. Let folk follow their own desires, and respect their choices. Learn what folk find funny, and what lightens their hearts, and in this doing come to know yourself and how best to serve Lliira and all intelligent beings."
Their temples raise monies by hosting grand galas and then spend these monies in seemingly chaotic fashion, perhaps to beautify this or that public place, or to throw a surprise party for a dour lord. Among the easy going of civilized lands, joybringers of Lliira find patronage and encouragement, and are among the most popular clerics in Faerûn, even among folk who think their goddess represents empty-headed, frivolous nonsense. In darker lands, or in harsh, uncivilized regions in which frivolity can lead to death from the elements or government, their religion is zealously suppressed. Curious to a fault, this only encourages the Lliirans to seek out such locales, hoping to provide happiness and joy with the step of a jolly jig or the lilting trill of a beautiful song.
Lliira's clerics (known as joybringers) range from inattentive flirts to deviant hedonists, and are the most fun holy folk in all of Faerûn to be around. All are good-hearted, and value revelry above all else. Making everyone have a good time is their profession, and they throw the best parties and are the best priesthood at perceiving the needs of others and governing themselves accordingly. (Some people need intelligent conversation to be happy, others need companionship or something to smash - Lliirans try to see what is needed without being told and to fulfill it.) Theirs is an aerobic devotion, and Lliirans are appreciated throughout Faerûn as some of the most physically toned individuals around. Joybringers do their best to see that they do little heart-lifting deeds every day that surprise or aid people. They also ensure that people get a steady stream of jokes from them so that most Faerûnians are eager to talk to them and not guarded in speech, and they explain to any who ask about the methods by which they distribute offerings among the needy so that if people fall onto hard times they know who to see or where to go.
Both specialty priests and clerics of Llira were called Joybringers until 1365 DR, when the members of the clergy themselves began to be confused by this practice. Now specialty priests of Lliira are known as Joydancers to distinguish their functions from the clerics, mystics, and spellsingers of the church, and all members of the clergy may be addressed as joybringers. Joybringers tend to be folk of whimsy, light spirits, and constant joking (but not pranks). They imitate and lampoon others all the time, try to make folk around them laugh, and spend money like water to bring happiness to others by bestowing gifts and throwing feasts. A typical Lliiran act is to offer a tavernkeeper 2,000 pieces of gold or more in return for throwing open the tavern for an evening to allow free food and drink for all. Escorts are then hired by the joybringers to act as peacekeepers ("friendly bouncers"), and the Lliiran clergy members position overhead nets with strategically hidden pull ropes and unseen servant spells (and the like) to neutralize troublemakers and persistent combatants.
Since the Time of Troubles, the church has enfolded many of the former followers and clergy members of Waukeen, especially those merchants who enjoy revelry (in other words, those possessed of a sense of humor and who are not miserly to the point of grasping after every coin and begrudging the time away from trade - or the loss of dignity - involved in a little celebration). Many of Waukeen's former temples have now been reconsecrated to Lliira. With the infusion of new blood, the Lliiran church has become mildly more responsible and mildly more mercantile, but it has also developed a very strong regard for the preservation of personal freedoms. A few former Waukeenar insist on retaining their previous formal titles and vestments, but even such "old guard coinspinners" are gradually being absorbed into the malleable and free-wheeling Lliiran church. Most of the former priests of Waukeen are now out-right joybringers who are either fully taken with the power of the faith or worshipping Lliira as Waukeen's godly regent. Most former Waukeenar seek to work within the wide boundaries of behavior and responsibilities set forth by the Lliiran faith and consider themselves to be the wiser heads that will aid Lliira to best bring happiness to the most people. Most joybringers regard ex-Waukeenar as bean-counters and stick-in-the-muds, but think they are learning to "let go" with time.
The most powerful clergy of Lliira are those who have demonstrated shrewd business judgement in handling church investments; they know how to parlay what is donated into many times that amount (a skill at which former Waukeenar excel, and which makes those who remain in the faith likely to gain status quickly after the faith's initial prejudice against them). This process not only yields the church the funds it needs to do good works (and pay for all that food and wine), but this cleverly earned wealth has made it one of the larger landholders in Faerûn - albeit as the sum of the holdings of a large number of quasi-independent, locally-run temples, and not as a firmly ruled, organized empire. Far-sighted Lliiran clergy are broadening the reach of the church to make it increasingly "the faith that brightens everyday life and therefore should be embraced in everyday life," and the worship of Lliira is growing steadily.
The smoothest diplomats among Lliirans (as opposed to the most brilliant clowns) speak to rulers and wealthy merchants of how useful the church of Lliira is at keeping the common people happy (or at least content) - something that perceptive merchants and rulers can see for themselves - and remind such powerful folk that the church needs constant financial support. Wise heads among the rich and powerful give these joybringers regular donations, and the church also receives a constant stream of small handfuls of coins from the wills of poor peasants who want to give something to the only people who made them happy.
VestmentsCeremonial vestments of Lliira for joybringers of both genders consist of a skin-tight outfit divided into unequal orange, yellow, and red sections. One leg may be yellow, the other red, one sleeve orange, the other yellow, the front orange, and the back yellow. A sleeveless robe is worn over the entire affair in patches of yellow, red, and orange. Plunging necklines are common among both priests and priestesses, and the hair is worn long for both genders of joybringers, although it may flow free or be bound up in any manner of hairdo. Elaborate earrings are also worn by joybringers of either gender, and cosmetics, anklets, bracelets, and delicate chain belts may also be seen; personal variations in dress are permitted and even encouraged.
The red, yellow, and orange coloration of the Lliiran faith is continued in the field in armor, overrobes, cloaks, and outdoor clothing as much as possible. When this is not possible, a cloak featuring some red, yellow, and orange fabric is preferred, even if it but sports piping in those colors.
HierarchyJoybringers use few titles, addressing each other as "Brother" and "Sister," and referring to themselves as the True, novices and laity as the Tested, and nonbelievers as the Unseeing. Temples are led by a Master of the Revels (even if female), and she or he is assisted by a High Prior, a Lorespeaker, a Seneschal, and a Quartermaster. The goddess herself is the only Mistress of the Revels, and by her decree such formerly popular titles as Revelmistress have been outlawed.
The High Priestess Chlanna Asjros was formerly known as High Revelmistress until she was personally "touched by Lliira", after which she adopted the new title of Grand Rapturemother in accordance with the goddess's wishes. She also found that she had gained a divinely granted special ability to levitate and dance on air and will or walk around three feet off the ground, not merely ascend or descend as most levitating folk do. Church philosophers (such as they are) take it as given that all future Grand Rapturemothers or Rapturefathers will be granted this special ability.
Joybringers have no organized hierarchy or chain of command. Relations between clerics are excellent. Adventuring clerics are universally respected as envoys from temple to temple, but no religious community of Lliira reports to, or is subservient to, another. The visit of an adventuring priest to an established temple is cause for celebration (of course, a sunny day is also cause for celebration, as is a cloudy one, or a cloudy one with a nice sunset, etc.). The accepted guidance and leadership of the Grand Rapturemother over the entire church is a matter of obeying generalized policy decrees and accepting temple funds from her seemingly limitless coffers.
TemplesTemples of Lliira can be of any style, but are usually built around a huge meeting facility/party room/ball room, from which open out smaller conference rooms, bars, chat rooms, and nap rooms (for those who have overindulged in drink). Upper floors usually house the clergy members, who live in comfortable apartments. Lliiran temples are opulent, by any standard, featuring crystal chandeliers, parquet or mosaic stone floors, velvet draperies, artful gilt mirrors, and well-stocked, solid oak bars. Temples and shrines to Lliira are usually fronted by her symbol. Lliira's symbol adorns most altars and her temple doors.
RitualsJoybringers rejoice at the coming of dawn and pray to the Mistress of the Revels upon the birth of each morning. Nearly every single holiday not tied to the worship of some malign being is a cause for celebration. All of the major holidays of the calendar and all local festivals (and in truth, just about anything else) are occasions for a "holy festival" or "lesser revel" of the Lliiran faith. These ceremonies always involve an opening fanfare and songs to the goddess given while tumbling or dancing and then progress to a feast. What happens thereafter is determined by the occasion; there may be speeches or a solemn holy ritual, ribald comedy entertainment, amorous pursuits, or a friendly contest such as a tug-of-war, knock-the-knight-down, or a pun duel. On all joyous occasions, offerings of food or wealth are "held up to the goddess" and her name invoked. These offerings are then buried, burned, or (whenever possible) given away to beggars and others not invited to, or unable to be present at, the revelry.
The most holy ceremonies to Lliira always begin with the ritual of Swords Cast Down, wherein two or more weapons are cast onto the ground amid chanting and covered with fresh flowers (either picked or - in winter - conjured up by hired druids, hired mages, or special spells cast by senior clergy members). The most holy personal prayers to the goddess always involve the faithful supplicant dancing alone in a meadow, garden, or beautiful setting while whispering or singing prayers to the goddess. The appearance of a rainbow during such prayers is seen as a blessing and a powerful good omen.
Marriages: Lliiran marriage ceremonies are very similar to those celebrated by worshippers of Sharess.
Funerals: Followers of Lliira are not entombed in crypts. Rather, a Dance of Death spell is cast on the body in a consecrated place, usually on bare earth and in private place shielded from public view, deep in the temple grounds and often ringed by gardens, or in the cellar of an in-city temple bower. The spell animates the corpse to dance endlessly until it collapses, the various pieces continuing to try to move until all joints fail and what's left is allowed to rot on site. Many corpses may be dancing in the same bower at the same time; the rotted remains are cremated and the ashes cast into the air by dancing clergy of the goddess during certain festivals (most of the major ones, throughout the year).
OrdersThe Lliiran church has no affiliated knightly orders for obvious reasons. It does have several honorary orders celebrating excellence in the art of dance, including the Order of the White Violet (for performance of great poignancy) and the Order of the Leaping Stag (for performance skillfully evoking the nature of an animal) among others. Lliira's church also has a fundamental tie to the Harpers, a secret organization working for freedom and good throughout Faerûn. The murder of Selgaunt's Grand Rapturemother Chlanna Asjros (whom Lliira had taken as a lover while in mortal form during the Time of Troubles) by forces of a local cult of Loviatar deeply affected the Joybringer - a militant order known as the Scarlet Mummers now tours Faerûn with her support, dispatching agents of the Maiden of Pain by means of an elaborate and deadly dance utilizing the mummers' blade boots.
Each day is another movement in the Elysian Rigadoon, the joyful dance of a life lived in rapture and without care or frustration. Seek joy always by working to bestow it upon others. Festivals are for all – gather into celebrations the lost, the lonely, the exiled and outlawed, the shunned, and even your foes. Let folk follow their own desires, and never fail to follow your own.
She appears as a will-o'-wisp that leaves a sparkling trail and can emit dancing lights at will that it can direct to illuminate certain areas, signal, form symbols or words in the air, and so on. The wisp speaks with Lliira's voice, has all the properties of a true will-o'-wisp, and can unleash spells just as the avatar of the goddess does. This wisp is almost always flickering and dancing and is often accompanied by a wordless, ululating song (this sound is the goddess singing; it sounds like a human female crooning from afar).
If Lliira intends to take no active part in events, she may manifest as a sudden dancing radiance about an item or favored person. This light is short-lived and is accompanied by joyous laughter or exultant, wordless singing. The light can convey silent mental messages (as words spoken in the mind) and one priest spell per round to those entering its confines. Spells thus bestowed are either cast upon the being or placed in their minds for their own later use (one time only) and require no material components.
Once a great friend of the commerce goddess Waukeen, Lliira absorbed many of the disaffected clerics of the Merchant's Friend when that goddess vanished during the Time of Troubles. Lliira had promised Waukeen to guard her portfolio and goldly power until she returned for it, and she felt forced to take over Waukeen's disintegrating church to preserve what she could for the return of her friend. She sent a prophet to the gates of every temple of Waukeen to speak to the Waukeenar. He was to emphasize Waukeen's uncertain status (that she could not be found in the Realms or her home plane and showed no sign of appearing in the near future) and Llira's regency (not appropriation of the position), but the Waukeenar, already in a panic stricken state after receiving no new spells for years, immediately heard what they thought they were going to hear and recorded that Waukeen was dead.
Lliira is rather uncomfortable with her role as the shepherd of the bulk of the former flock of Waukeen. Though she was only holding Waukeen's portfolio as its regent, the increased power the Waukeenar delivered to her was a constant temptation, and the prospect of completely folding that power into herself grew sweeter each day. Still, she held off doing so out of loyalty to her friend and to respect the promise that she made. Upon her return, however, Waukeen jealously coveted those clerics who had converted to Lliiranism, and the resulting ill will has formed a slight rift between the former companions.
Lliira's allegiance is primarily to Sune (who until recently was also served by Selune), though her closest everyday ties are to Milil, who shares her flare for performance, and the two powers often work together. Because of this close relationship, scholars have often become confused about her ultimate loyalty; although she is allied to Deneir, Milil, and Oghma, the latter is not her superior. A nasty legend surfaced after the Time of Troubles that Lliira hunted down and killed Leira, the Lady of the Mists, since their names were similar, but this is patently untrue.