Baravar Cloakshadow, known as the Sly One, is the gnome deity of illusion and deception.
Baravar's defenses and protective strategies are rooted in deceit-illusions, traps, ambushes, and the like-and his jests and tricks may cause their victims some pain (emotional if not physical). In addition to teaching the arts of disguise, stealth, and spying to the gnomes, the Sly One creates traps and illusions of incredible depth and cunning, a skill he has passed on to gnomes throughout the Realms. As the patron of illusions, Baravar is the preeminent gnome god of magic. The Sly One oversees the magical arts of gnome magical craftsfolk as well. All those who survive by their wits venerate Baravar, particularly those who must often combat kobolds, goblins, and other humanoids. Most gnome wizards venerate the Sly One as well, though they do not necessarily participate in their god's ongoing war with the goblin-kin powers.
Baravar is a crafty, vengeful power who specializes in deceptions. He is unforgiving of any who threaten his charges, and he feels no compunctions about acting against those who have earned his enmity. Although he shares Carl's love of a good practical joke, Baravar's jests and tricks may cause no small discomfort to the victims. He is also a thief and enjoys using illusions to confuse creatures before robbing them. Baravar most often steals out of sheer boredom. The Sly One dispatches avatars to defend gnomes oppressed by humanoids; he often sends one to harass goblinkin from a distance even before they threaten gnomes: "Do unto them before they have a chance to do unto you" is a philosophy he often acts upon.
The church of Baravar is highly regarded for its efforts on behalf of the Forgotten Folk in the ongoing battles between goblins, kobolds, and gnomes over he same tunnels and caves, even if the more cultured gnomes find the priesthood's methods somewhat brutish. Baravar's faithful are deservedly admired for their skill in creating illusions of incredible realism. But their penchant for deception has earned them a measure of distrust among most gnomes, even those who seek to emulate the trickery of Garl Glittergold. Baravar's faithful maintain a low profile around humans and other demihuman races, and they are often viewed as little more than a priestly variant of the gnome illusionists. Dwarves in particular exhibit a degree of distaste for the priesthood of the Sly One, for Baravar's faithful embody nearly everything the Stout Folk dislike about gnomes.
The church of Baravar is only loosely organized, for the veil of secrecy that surrounds it also shields its members to some degree from one another. Baravar's clergy is deeply involved in experimenting with and refining the art of creating illusions. A sizeable fraction of the clergy are adventurers, charged with tracking down and acquiring new spells and magic items that allow the creation and control of effects from the school of illusion. Other clerics work as researchers, ever-refining their magical craft. Clerics of Baravar are generally sneaky, smart gnomes, and they serve their communities as spies and investigative agents and by teaching skills such as disguise, camouflage, and hiding. Most clerics multiclass as illusionists, and many multiclass as rogues.
VestmentsThe ceremonial garb of priests of Baravar consists of a hooded black cloak, a gray cloth mask, and an ornate silver dagger with a wavy blade. The holy symbol of the faith is a tarnished miniature of the silver dagger.
When adventuring, Baravar's priests favor the garb of rogues, including leather armor, light weapons, and a concealing dark gray or black cloak.
HierarchyNovices of Baravar are known as the Cloaked. Full priests of the Sly One are known as the Illusory. Baravarian priests employ a wide variety of titles, seemingly changing them to suits their purposes in any given situation. It is not clear that any true hierarchy of titles actually exists. Specialty priests are known as Hoodwinkers.
TemplesTemples of Baravar always appear to be anything but a house of worship. Cloaked in the guise of another business, the Sly One's priests assemble in secret chapels behind hidden doors guarded by an elaborate array of tricks, traps, and illusions. The interiors of Baravar's churches are cloaked in a mosaic of shifting illusions and omnipresent shadows that befuddle and mislead intruders.
RitualsBaravar's clerics make offerings to their god by creating illusions of items they saw, heard, or otherwise sensed. The greater the realism of such deceptions, the more the deity is pleased.
The clergy of Baravar venerates the Sly One in a monthly ritual known as the Cloaking. Although such rituals are always observed on the night of the new moon, the exact location and nature of the ceremony varies every time. The Cloaking is often held in public places, and it is considered a point of honor by the participants that such assemblies are never detected as such by outsiders. This practice has led to a common joke among the Forgotten Folk that any unexplained gathering of two or more gnomes must be "another meeting of the Illusory."
OrdersThe Knights of the Shadowy Cloak is a mysterious organization with cells in most gnome communities where Baravar is venerated. The Knights work alone and in small groups. Their guiding principles hold that goblins, kobolds, and other humanoid races are an ever-present threat to the safety of the Forgotten Folk, and that, as a rule, members of these races cannot be redeemed. As such, the order is dedicated to driving away or exterminating humanoid tribes that might someday threaten neighboring communities of gnomes. Their methods are chosen not to draw attention or incite retaliatory attacks against those they are trying to defend. Many members of this order are members of multiracial bands of adventurers, for it is considered more effective to direct the militant talents of non-gnomes against the enemies of the Forgotten Folk.
The world is a dangerous place, and the only sure defense is to cloak oneself in the shadows under a web of deception. Strive to master the art of illusion and the game of deceit for therein lies security. Trust no one that has not proven trustworthy to your satisfaction. In war, use the crafts of illusion and camouflage to make sure your side wins. Devote yourself to your art and those you love with equal fervor, for one must have a reason to live beyond mere survival.
Baravar appears as a young, dark-haired gnome with beady eyes. He is very alert and vigilant, and always dressed in dark clothing. He wields a magical poison-dripping dagger called Nightmare, and a magical garment called the Shadowcloak. He genuinely hates the kobold, goblinoid, and orcish races, believing they cannot be expected to reform.
Baravar was closely allied with the other non-evil members of the gnome pantheon. His other allies were Azuth, Brandobaris, Clangeddin Silverbeard, Erevan Ilesere, Mystra, Sehanine Moonbow, Tymora, and Vergadain. His chief enemies were the deities of the goblin and kobold races. Other foes were Cyric (for killing his one-time ally, Leira), Abbathor, Mask, and Urdlen.