Loviatar is the aggressive, domineering and fearless patron of torturers, sadists, and bullies.
Loviatar is aggressive, domineering, and fearless. She has a cold and calculatingly cruel nature and is also almost unreachable emotionally. She has an instinct for inflicting both physical and psychological pain, and she always seems to know what to say and the way to say it to inflict the most hurt and raise the biggest self-doubts in someone, mortal or deity. And unlike most simple bullies, she does not fear pain or hurt herself and laughs at attempts to physically damage or verbally humiliate her. The only possible weakness one might use against her is her very calculating nature, which relies on her assumption of the innate selfishness of human nature. Beings acting in a self-sacrificing or heroic manner can sometimes snarl her carefully knit plans. [Loviatar is probably derived from the Finnish goddess of death and disease of the same name].
Worship of Loviatar tends to be strongest in large, decadent cities. Newcomers are often recruited from the ranks of the bored and wealthy or the desperately hungry beggars through large revels where much drugged wine is drunk and dancing and more intimate pursuits go on for several days and nights.
As one of the Dark Gods, Loviatar likes to be feared, and her clergy members are ordered to whisper of her ever-present power in the darkness after they have inflicted pain. Their prime charge is to tirelessly cause suffering, both widespread and personal. This work may be as brutal as flogging an encountered band peasants until they flee, working to break up existing amours and friendships, and engaging in scandalous dalliances before coldly spurning the victims and departing. The activities of prudent worshipers of Loviatar should never be so high-profile that local authorities set out to imprison or thwart them upon first sight, but such activities should be energetic and numerous. Beauty, intelligence and acting are useful attributes, but the ability to fully understand someone is the best skill a Loviatan can acquire, as knowing someone fully can help a Loviatan inflict maximum pain, one way or another.
Priests of Loviatar tend to be cruel and sadistic. They enjoy bestowing pain upon others (and receiving it) within a hierarchy of strict rules and discipline. Junior clergy members are often ordered to do tasks in a needlessly difficult or painful way to reinforce this iron discipline. Those who stay faithful usually develop truly awesome self-control, and in battle can carry on thinking and acting calmly even when dying from wounds or lacking limbs. They become very used to pain and are usually much scarred from self-inflicted injuries and hurts dealt by their superiors. To increase the agonies they receive and inflict, handfuls of salt are often rubbed in open wounds.
Priests of Loviatar are few in number, but widespread in power. Opponents tend to avoid them, since murder is the least that they will do in revenge against insults to their goddess. Women—both humans and half-elves— dominate the ranks of the priesthood both numerically and in rank and have always done so. Loviatar's tightly organized priesthood is composed primarily of clerics. Her specialty priests, called Pains, operate as a separate arm of the faith, moving from place to place and ensuring that the goddess's will is carried out; they serve as the envoys and secret agents/inquisitors of the church. The clerics hold the pains in great regard, since they are often the tools of Loviatar's punishment. If an organized temple or shrine of Loviatar is present in a city, clerics make up the bulk of the organization, but one to three pains are also able to be called upon by the clerics.
The church of Loviatar is currently relatively independent, though its members aid other evil churches when it suits them. They particularly hate the church of llmater, which teaches that strength comes out of suffering, and the church of Eldath, which teaches of peace, the banishment of fear, and living in harmony with nature, since the specialty priests of these deities are resistant to Loviatar’s pain-inflicting abilities.
Loviatians are known to run BDSM clubs in order to try and gain greater funding and inroads amongst the ranks of the sexually perverse. During warfare, priestesses of Loviatar scourged their naked shoulders or scratch their cheeks with their nails to evoke magic.
Loviatar's worship is the state religion of Dambrath.
VestmentsLoviatans of both genders wear high black boots, black choker gorgets, and long black gloves that reach up to their shoulders. They also wear daring-looking leather body harnesses over or under side-slit ritual robes of icy white or black lined with scarlet silk (so that movements cause red flashes).
Loviatans are usually armed with saw-edged daggers and whips. A typical priest of low rank has a dagger at her belt, another in one boot, and a barbed whip with a 6-foot reach. A priestess of "full" (medium) rank adds to this gear a barbed cat-o'-nine-tails with a 4-foot reach, and perhaps a black metal mace with skin-contact sleep venom in its hollow handle, so that its first strike releases the venom.
When adventuring, priests and priestesses of Loviatar wear a pleated armor that resembles scale mail. However, the ceremonial garb is lightweight and designed for fashion rather than protection. It is constructed to emphasize the figure of the wearer rather than to provide true protection. The pleated mail is often augmented by breastplates that bristle with spikes. From a wearer of such augmented armor, a firm hug (the Embrace of Loviatar) does damage. The addition of the breastplate adds somewhat to the protection provided by the armor.
HierarchyPriests of Loviatar are called, simply, "Pains". Novices or postulants to the Faith of Pain are known as Kneeling Ones. Confirmed priests use the titles (in ascending order): Taystren, Adept (in Pain), Sister/Brother (in Torment), Supremar, Caressor (of Terrors), Whiplass/Whiplar, Paingiver, Whipmistress/Whipmaster, High Whipmistress/Whipmaster, Branded (of the God), and Truescar. Words in parentheses in the preceding list represent parts of the formal title seldom used except in rituals, disciplinary hearings, or documents. The last two titles are applied to all Loviatan clergy members who have served as the head of a temple, abbey, or monastery of the goddess or who have personally distinguished themselves in their service and taken up a life of wandering to further Loviatar's will and influence, often sponsoring or leading bands of "dark adventurers" to spread torment.
TemplesMost Loviatan temples feature extensive dungeons beneath their above-ground facilities. The surface temples are usually are built of stone or thick wood and resemble nothing so much as a combination monastic cell complex and prison. Even the windows of priest's rooms are often blocked with metal bars.
RitualsLoviatans always pray for battle spells before going out in public and are admonished to be alert. They often engage in self-flagellation, often in the morning when praying for spells. The most basic ritual performed by Loviatans is a kneeling prayer at morning and at evening performed after striking oneself once with a whip. Other rituals of the faith center on consecrating wine, whips, holy symbols, and other items—both practical, such as potions of healing, and horrific, such as torture implements—used by the devout and on celebrating advancement in priestly rank.
All four seasonal festivals are celebrated by Loviatans with the Rite of Pain and Purity: a circle dance of chanting, singing clergy members performed upon barbed wire, thorns, or broken glass or crystal, where the priests allow themselves to be urged to greater efforts by the whips of high level priests and are accompanied by the drumming of lay worshipers. A red radiance rises gradually and forms a flickering cloud above the ring. If Loviatar has important missions to speak of, is especially pleased with this group of followers, or wants to enact her displeasure, she manifests in the heart of the cloud. If Loviatar does not manifest, the ritual ends after half an hour, and the priests heal themselves.
Every twelfth night (unless such a night coincides with a Rite of Pain and Purity, which preempts it) the clergy members celebrate smaller Candle Rites wherein they sing, chant, and pray as they dance around lit candles, passing some parts of their bodies through or over their flames repeatedly until the rite ends with the highest-ranking priestess extinguishing her candle with consecrated wine.
OrdersThe Loviatan religion has no knightly orders. Monks of the faith all belong to the Disciples of the White Rod, named in honor of the token granted to their founder by Loviatar and held in the home abbey near Calimport as a relic. Mystics follow an eccentric philosophy/order that they call the Way of Transcendence. When asked what their order's tenets are, they just smile knowingly.
The world is filled with pain and torment, and the best that one can do is to suffer those blows that cannot be avoided and deal as much pain back to those who offend. Kindnesses are the best companions to hurts, and increase the intensity of suffering. Let mercy of sudden abstinence from causing pain and of providing unlooked-for healing come over you seldom, but at whim, so as to make folk hope and increase the Mystery of Loviatar's Mercy. Unswerving cruelty will turn all folk against you. Act alluring, and give pain and torment to those who enjoy it as well as to those who deserve it most or would be most hurt by it. The lash, fire, and cold are the three pains that never fail the devout. Spread Loviatar's teachings whenever punishment is meted out. Pain tests all, but gives strength of spirit and true pleasure to the hardy and the true. There is no true punishment if the punisher knows no discipline. Wherever a whip is, there is Loviatar. Fear her—and yet long for her.
Loviatar appears as a pale maiden dressed in white pleated armor, and carrying a bone-white wand, a whip, or a scourge that she uses as a weapon against her foes.
Once a follower of Bhaal, Loviatar was affiliated with Malar and Talona and had fallen under the sway of Shar, though the return of Bane changed this, as she once again served as his consort. Loviatar's portfolio conflicted most with that of Ilmater, because Loviatar despised those who helped others. She also hated Eldath and Lliira for offering rewards without any suffering to achieve them.