Laduguer is the patron of the evil duergar, or gray dwarves. The Exile is venerated as the protector of the gray dwarves and defends them from the countless other creatures of the Underdark who wish to enslave them and seize their tunnels, mines, and crafts. Duergar craftsmen, particularly those who seek to create magical weapons, pay particular homage to Laduguer.
Also known as the Exile, the Gray Protector and the Master of Crafts, Laduguer is a bitter, resentful, cheerless deity, a cosmic slave-master and tyrant who despises beauty as "useless frippery" and demands unceasing toil from those under his command. Xenophobic in the extreme, he charges his duergar followers to enslave, exploit and ultimately exterminate all other races.
Although primarily the patron of the duergar, Laduguer still occasionally answers the prayers of other dwarves.
Within gray dwarven communities, Laduguer and his clergy are considered strict taskmasters whose strengths and mandates ensure the very survival of the duergar. Few gray dwarves resent the Exile's mercilessly high standards, and most duergar respect him for his principled stand against the lazy and weak Morndinsamman and their shield and gold dwarven followers. Shield dwarves, gold dwarves, and svirfneblin regard Laduguer and his followers as embittered fools deserving of their fates who have done much to undermine the strength of the dwarven race in both their absence and their assaults on nonduergar dwarven holds. Other races in the Underdark have little sympathy for the gray dwarves or their embittered god and seek only to destroy or subjugate them.
Priests of Laduguer are commonly called thuldors, a dwarvish word that can be loosely translated as "those who endure." Only the strongest of duergar are selected to be thuldors, as the training is literally torturous; hours of repetitive prayer, interspersed with hard physical labor, branding, torture and other acts that require feats of superhuman endurance, culminating in being tied between two crushing stone blocks and left in solitude for a week. Many don't survive the training. Holy Quests of Laduguer often revolve around awakening - and hopefully controlling - some long-buried evil of some kind.
VestmentsThe clerical vestments of Laduguer's priests consist of utilitarian metal breastplates emblazoned with Laduguer's broken crossbow bolt symbol and gray, hooded mantles. Many priests have a brand of Laduguer's holy symbol on their forehead. Some priests carry a gem of any type, split nearly in two by a large crack, one half of which is deeply flawed and the other half of which is perfect. For the duergar, such gems symbolize their split from the rest of the dwarven race and their superiority over those they have forsaken.
HierarchyNovices of Laduguer are known as the Untempered. Full priests of the Exile are known as Grimcloaks. In ascending order of rank, the titles used by Ladugueran priests are Deep Adept, Dark Craftsman, Invisible Artisan, Rune Weaver, Grim Guardian, and Doom Knight. High Old Ones have individual titles but are collectively known as the Ardukes of the Gray Gloom.
TemplesTemples of Laduguer are grim, smoke-filled halls hewn from solid rock and bereft of adornment, aside from weapons and armor demonstrating the skilled craftsmanship of the Exile's priests. Laduguer's houses of worship are filled with armories, barracks, smithies, and storerooms. Many temples include sizable stables used in the care and breeding of steeders, large monstrous hunting spiders used as transport by many Underdark races. The duergar, under the guidance of the thuldor, have cornered the market on these highly trainable, versatile beasts of burden, granting the race considerable financial clout it the Night Below. Temples are usually built directly atop mine shafts from which the raw materials are extracted. Great coal-burning forges provide the only warmth, and their ashen exhaust covers ever surface in dark soot. Clerical guards, many of them mounted on steeders, are everywhere, overseeing the skilled smithwork that proceeds without pause.
RitualsThuldor pray for spells in the morning, usually before dedicating at least an hour to concepting, creating or improving of a magical weapon. Prayers to Laduguer are simple one-or-two-sentence affairs, but they're repeated dozens of times, with exactly the same rhythm and intonation each time. They're intended to be used to guide his followers at their work.
As God of Toil, Laduguer has few rites, because time spent in ceremonies is time spent away from work. One day a year, on the Winter Solstice, the duergar observe the ceremony of Grimtidings. They lay down their tools and gather to hear stories of their voluntary exile and the decadence of other dwarves. Laduguer is praised for his great skill, and the duergar swear vengeance against those who have insulted their god and their people.
The Ardukes of the Gray Gloom also declare holy days, known as Guerdon Revels, after major victories and when prisoners (particularly gold and shield dwarves) are captured. While the work does not stop during such festivals, most gray dwarves are given a few moments off from their labors to observe the recounting of heroics by duergar warriors, to examine plundered loot, and to participate in the torture and painful deaths of any prisoners.
OrdersThe Gray Lances of the Snarling Steeder are a mounted order of duergar crusaders and fighter/priests. The Gray Lances serve as the elite cavalry of gray dwarven armies, and their most common opponents are drow mounted on riding lizards. Individual duergar knights and their steeder mounts are well schooled in subterranean warfare techniques for battles that unfold across cave floors, walls, and ceilings.
The duergar teach that superiors must be strictly and promptly obeyed. They teach the importance of dedication to one's craft and endless toil to achieve wealth, security, and power. They view life as a harsh existence in which nothing is easy; this is the proper, honorable way to live, as reward without effort is sin. Laduguer teaches his people to suffer stoically and remain aloof from other dwarven peoples, who are lazy and weak. The weak are undeserving, and adversity is Laduguer's forge.
Laduguer appears as a tall, gaunt duergar with skin that can change between gray and brown to match the nearby rock. He is bald and perptually frowning. He is inclined toward evil, but this is mostly turned inward, gloomy and unforgiving over what he feels is his rejection by his kin. He is supremely lawful above all else, despising the other dwarven deities for being lazy, indolent, and feckless.
The Taskmaster was once a member of the Morndinsamman, or dwarven pantheon, but he exiled himself over a point of honor. His only ally is Grumbar, the Boss of the Earth Elementals. His list of enemies, on the other hand, is long, including Blibdoolpoolp, the Blood Queen, Callarduran Smoothhands, Diinkarazan, Diirinka, the Great Mother, Gzemnid, Ilsensine, Ilxendren, Laogzed, Maanzecorian (dead), Orcus, Psilofyr, Urdlen, the drow pantheon, and every member of the dwarven pantheon, except for Dugmaren Brightmantle.
He was briefly allied with Lolth, and from this alliance he gained the knowledge that provided his people with their giant spider mounts, the steeders. As the drow and duergar fought for resources and territory, however, the alliance shattered, and Lolth and Laduguer became foes.