Sharess is the deity of hedonism, festhalls and sensual fulfillment. She has the individualistic and hedonistic personality of a feline and she is constantly grooming herself to ensure her appearance is always up to standards. Sharess is an innate flirt and loves toying around with beautiful mortals; once she had her fill, she swiftly moves on to other sources of pleasure. She is known in the Mulhorandi pantheon as Bast.
Sharess is worshiped in large urban areas such as Waterdeep, Calimport, and other cities along the Sword Coast. She is revered by male and female professional escorts who take pride in their professions, the decadent rich, and those who seek only endless pleasure in life. In Mulhorand, she is also revered by those who combat Set and rewards those who work long and hard against him with occasional nights of wild pleasure to inspire them to further efforts. Sharess's faith is still very young and its ceremonies very loose and fluid, with long worship services that resemble nothing so much as extended feasts and revels, heavy on the pleasures of the flesh and light on the teachings of the spirit. A goodly number of former followers of Waukeen who have rejected Lliira's teachings have become interested in Sharess.
The church of Sharess is casually organized, although its members often work and play together. Alignment restrictions for Sharess's clergy are weak, and a gentle slide toward evil is still often tolerated. Those priests who remain evil and seem unwilling or unable to drift back toward neutrality in their behavior are secretly entreated by agents of Shar to shift their worship to the Dark Maiden while maintaining their position within the clergy of Sharess. Sharess seems unwilling or unable to prevent such defections at this time, rare though they may be.
Many priests and priestesses of Sharess run pleasure houses in large cities or directly serve decadent rulers. These pleasure houses cater to all the senses and include fantastic feasts, heavenly baths and massages, unique experiences, such as flight, and every other pleasure imaginable. Wealthy festhalls often employ one or two mid-level Sharessin, and some Sharessin wander the countryside, with Sharess's blessing, seeking new pleasing sensations to add to their repertoire.
Many clerics multiclass as bards.
VestmentsAll priests of Sharess wear their hair long and style it to show off their faces and bodies to their best advantage. The priestly raiment of Sharess's clergy varies widely according to the priest's gender, the local climate, current fashions, and the priest's taste. Waterdhavian courtesans favor highly suggestive evening dresses that make them seem half-undressed, while the women of Calimport's harem's wear diaphanous negligees, short vests, sheer pantaloons, gold dust, and endless gemstone beads and coins strung in ropes and made into decorative chains and fringes. Male clergy typically prefer tight-fitting breeches that are tailored to their charms and open shirts. They often wear decorative belts and vests. Her holy symbol is the image of feminine lips carved from dark amber or ruby and worn on a golden chain on the wrist or ankle.
The few priests and priestesses of Sharess/Bast who remain in Mulhorand favor tight-fitting kalasiris (tight-fitting white linen knee-length skirts) and ornate pectoral collars draped suggestively over the chest or breasts. The holy symbol of Bast is a cat's head wearing golden hoop earrings.
When adventuring, the clergy of Sharess endeavor to preserve the gifts of the goddess as best as they can and hence typically wear the best armor they can afford. There is no point to living life without pleasure, however, so they always decorate such armor as provocatively as possible.
HierarchyThe clergy of Sharess are collectively known as Sharessin. Both male and female humans can be found in their ranks, but charismatic and physically beautiful female humans comprise the great majority of them. Specialty priests of Sharess are known as Sensates. As there is no known connection between Sharess's faithful and the Outer Planar faction of the same name, this is a potential point of confusion.
TemplesThe few temples of Sharess are typically located in large cities along the Sword Coast, but small shrines to the goddess of pleasure may be found in almost every festhall in the Realms. Her temples are typically constructed to resemble elaborate festhalls, with graceful, fluting pillars, octagonal domes, great halls sculpted to resemble forest glades, secluded nooks, bathing areas in natural mineral springs, great banquet halls, and richly scented massage parlors. Most are guarded by staunch fighters and even exotic sentient monsters who are sworn to protect all revelers who partake in the name of Sharess.
RitualsClerics of Sharess pray for their spell at dusk, when the lure of the night first beckons. The church of Sharess celebrates more festivals than possible any other faith in Faerûn. They are known collectively as the Endless Revel of Life. The daily rising and setting of the sun, the yearly passage of seasons, the appearance of a full moon, or nearly any other event is cause for celebration and wild revel to which the general populace is always invited. Each such festival has several outlandish titles and new festivals are added all the time as old ones are forgotten. Without comparison, however, Midsummer's Eve is the time of greatest rejoicing among Sharess's faithful and an occasion for the most extreme pursuits of boundless pleasure.
OrdersSharess is served by no military or knightly orders. Most professional escorts in major cities join formal or informal guilds led by her clergy, however. Sharess is served by a secretive sisterhood of female werecats known as the Eyes of Evening who also pay tribute to Selune. The aims and goals of this mysterious fellowship are unknown, although they are rumored to hunt cultists of Shar and Loviatar during nights of the full moon.
Life is to be lived to its fullest, in decadent sensual fulfillment of yourselves and others. That which is good is pleasurable and that which is pleasurable is good. Pleasure is to be sought out at every opportunity and life is to be lived as one endless revel. Spread the bounty of Sharess so that all may join in the endless revel of life and bring joy to all those in pain. Infinite experiences await those who would explore, so try the new as well as savoring the old.
Sharess was often depicted as a beautiful, voluptuous woman with the head of a cat (especially in Mulhorand)
Bast was a Mulhorandi deity who served as patroness of cats and Anhur's lieutenant in the eternal struggle against Set. At the height of Mulhorand's second empire, when many beast cults were popular, Bast subsumed the portfolio of Felidae, a beast cult deity of felines, sensual pleasures, and nomads. Struck by wanderlust, Bast traveled across Faerûn, leaving numerous cults in her wake, many of which knew her as Sharess. Sharess eventually began to experiment with the darker side of pleasure and fell under the sway of Shar. She would have undoubtedly been wholly subsumed by the Dark Goddess if Sune had not freed her during the Time of Troubles. Since that time, Sharess has restored her ties of friendship with Anhur, Hanali Celanil, Lliira, Milil, Nobanion, Selune, and Sune. She now works to oppose the evil of Set, Shar, and Loviatar, and Shar has never forgotten that Sharess escaped her clutches.
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