Nobanion, also known as the King of Beasts, is a primal spirit sometimes worshiped as a deity of royalty, lions, and other felines, as well as good beasts. Nobanion is considered to have originally been an interloper deity on Toril, but since his arrival he has firmly established himself within the Faerûnian pantheon. His worship is especially strong in Gulthmere Forest and among the wemics of the Shining Plains.
Nobanion radiates both power and gentleness. His roar is deafening, and when he chooses to exert the full force of his charisma, his regal majesty is overwhelming, yet the tinest creature who approaches him in good faith finds itself comfortable in his presence. He tries to lead his pride to do what is noble and right, but does not force his faithful to pursue that path. He deeply wants those under his rule to willingly choose good over evil, action over inaction, and order over chaos. He does not command from the rear and would never ask someone to do something he would not be willing to do himself, including laying down his life for another.
Nobanion is primarily venerated by intelligent animals and beast-like creatures though he does attract humanoid followers, typically humans or wild elves who see him as a patron of monarchs and law-keepers. Nobanion's worshipers also include druids and rangers of Faerûn, of mixed lawful and good alignments in areas such as the Vilhon Reach and the Dragon Coast. He was especially venerated in the city of Nathlekh within the Gulthmere Forest and among the wemics of the Shining Plains.
The Pride of Nobanion fill leadership roles in many communities where the Lion God is revered. Many serve as benevolent monarchs, judges, militia, constables, or as guardians against evil. The vanguard of armies loyal to Nobanion is typically filled with clerics and crusaders of the Lion King. Others teach their hunting or martial skills to the young, while passing along moral instruction and important traditions both by word and deed.
Among the wemic tribes of the Shining Plains, Nobanion's shamans are typically powerful leaders, second only to the chieftain or king. They are responsible for choosing which creatures to hunt, blessing the kill, and confirming the passage of young members of the pride into adulthood.
VestmentsPriests of Nobanion have little in the way of formal raiment. Typically they garb themselves in cloaks made from the hide of a gazelle or antelope and wear a necklace of the teeth and claws of vaniquished opponents around their neck. Their symbol is a single, unblinking lion's eye which each priest paints on his or her forehead. Priests also often depict the face of Nobanion on their robes in stitchery, beadwork, or quillwork or on their chests in paints or as a tattoo.
When adventuring, the Pride of Nobanion select armor and weapons as appropriate for the foe they expect to face. Although they may wear any type of armor available, many eschew armor altogether or wear hide armor fashioned from beasts they themselves have hunted.
HierarchyClergy of the Lion God, known as the Pride of Nobanion, are not given to elaborate titles. Specialty priests are known as Firemanes and are commonly referred to as Lights of the Lion's Mane. Clerics and crusaders are known as Roaring Avengers, while shamans are addressed as Speakers of the Paw and Roar. Lammasu and greater lammasu are considered part of the clergy and are addressed as Elders and Reverend Elders, respectively.
Temples and ShrinesAside from his temple in the city of Nathlekh, Nobanion is worshiped at simple shrines, not elaborate houses of worship. Shrines to the Lion God of the Gulthmere are often difficult to locate, since they are carried by nomads or tribes of wemics who migrate with the seasons (which makes it all the more difficult for Malar's clergy to seek vengeance for their god's defeat during the Time of Troubles). Such shrines are typically set up atop granite outcroppings or beneath solitary trees on the savanna.
RitualsTwo major religious observances are held each year for Nobanion, and they are always exactly three and one half months apart. Their spacing is representative of the gestation period of the lion.
The Festival of the Pride normally takes place during the first week of Ches. This is a time for frolicking, dancing, courting a mate, lovemaking, and generally celebrating the bounty of life and its potential. Religious belief promises that a child/cub conceived this night will go on to become ruler of the church/pride.
The Newborn Celebration always takes place during the third week of Kythorn. This ceremony celebrates the birth (or rebirth-church teachings are vague) of Nobanion, the prominence of lions in the Vilhon Reach, and the importance of the hunt in the region. It is marked by a great hunt and a great feast. Newborns undergo the Rite of the First Blooding where their right paw (or hand) is placed in the blood of the prey and blessed by a priest of Nobanion.
OrdersThe Legion of Lions is a military order of wemic firemanes, clerics, and crusaders. In the aftermath of the Time of Troubles, this unorthodox fellowship of beast knights was founded by Karrlon, formerly a scout of the Mindulgulph Mercenary Company and now a crusader who fights for the Lion God's standard. Thought small in number, this elite fighting company has quickly become the champion of good-aligned beasts throughout the Realms and the bane of Malarites everywhere. In addition to the main company, individual members often join adventuring companies of disparate races to see more of the world and spread the faith of Nobanion.
Hunt only when hungry and do not gorge without need. Waste nothing and all shall have plenty. The cycle of life links all living things into one being, and that being is life itself. The law of the jungle is that only the strong survive, but they survive best by being leaders, not tyrants, by protecting the weak, not bullying them. All creatures have their strengths in the assigned roles and should be encouraged to find their niche. From cooperation between beings of differing strengths comes the strength of teamwork and community, the strongest force of all. By demonstrating compassion and tolerance and living within the land, all living creatures may find harmony with nature and one another. By staying true to oneself and one's pride and conducting oneself with dignity and honor, the respect of one's peers may be earned. Wemics reduce this to the following: Only the strong survive. Live and let live unless provoked. Protect the pride and all its members, but if injury or illness bring them down, allow him or her a swift and painless end to suffering.
Nobanion is typically portrayed as a great male lion or a majestic lammasu. Radiating a powerful, yet gentle presence, Nobanion possessed a majesty and charisma that was overwhelming at times. Even the smallest of animals felt comfortable around him.
Nobanion and Sharess get along well because of their mutual feline natures, but Nobanion finds himself frequently annoyed at Sharess's inability to focus on long-term plans and her constant innuendo-laden teasing. he is on good terms with most of the animal lords of the Beastlands, Water Lion, Balador (lord of werebears), Ferrix (lady of weretigresses), Tapann (god of korreds), and most of the nature deities of Faerûn. He hates Malar with a passion as the perversion of all that is noble and natural in beasts, and he would hunt Malar to extermination if he had the resources to do it. Gwaeron Windstrom and he share this hatred, and they sometimes coordinate their efforts against Malar.
Nobanion also gets along well with Torm and Tyr and sees himself as trying to emulate among beasts what they strive for among humans; however, both these powers are too busy with human affairs to have developed a relationship with Nobanion beyond cordial acquaintance. Nobanion and Lurue have a long-standing alliance and deep friendship that has stood for many centuries, and their relationship is one that Nobanion counts upon most when he needs to get an outside viewpoint on a problem or is troubled or depressed.