Bane, one of the Dark Gods, is the ultimate tyrant and a thoroughly evil and malicious being who revels in hatred and strife and is worshiped by those who in turn enjoy such wickedness. Bane is the evil and malicious greater deity of fear, hatred and tyranny and ruler of Banehold. Preferring to plot and scheme, Bane rarely appears to act in a direct manner; instead acting through his worshipers and other various agents. His ultimate goal is to eventually control the world.
He has no tolerance for failure and seldom thinks twice about submitting even a loyal servant to rigorous tortures to ensure complete obedience to his demanding, regimented doctrine. Though possessed of an unforgiving wrath when aroused, Bane is slow to anger, existing in a perpetual stat of controlled burn.
Among the evil gods, Bane's church is among the most stable and powerful. While there was a time when the god encouraged sectarianism and violent disputes, that time has long since passed and today the god's faithful are as likely to solve their disputes through reasonable debate rather than through a show of force. That being said, Bane's church is no less ruthless than that of Cyric or Shar and it obeys a strict hierarchy extending from the god's most powerful worshipers to his weakest ones, with the god himself the lord of everything they do and, though worshipers of Bane come from every station in life, they all know to whom they owe their blessings, ready to turn it over to the Black Lord at any time
Bane orders his clerics and followers to achieve positions of power within their society, either through force or trickery, and to use that power to further the cause of hate, fear, destruction, and strife. The Black Hand much prefers that his clerics subvert governments and carry out their agendas under the cover of the rule of law, but he tolerates a limited amount of discord and debauchery. Torture, beatings, and calculated assassinations frequently come into play in such operations, and rare indeed is the initiate of the Lord of Darkness who does not possess at least rudimentary skill in such enterprises. The church operates under a strict hierarchy—questioning or disobeying the orders of a superior is an insult to Banes' supremacy, and is punishable by torture, disfigurement, or death.
Banite priests take great pride in their ability to control their actions and avoid succumbing to emotional outbursts. Their outward demeanor is cold and thoughtful, they think carefully before they speak, often preferring sarcasm and "witty banter" rather than overt hostility.
VestmentsCeremonial dress for Banites is black armor with blood-red capes. The more prosperous the priest, the finer the workmanship of the armor. Facial tattoos are common among Banites, which unfortunately makes them stand out in cities. High-level officers in the hierarchy wear gems on their foreheads. Many clerics can be recognized by the black-enameled gauntlet worn on one fist.
When adventuring, priests of Bane retain the black armor. Wizards who follow Bane prefer long, flowing, black and red robes. Neither group would wear such gear if it would expose them to persecution or hamper their service to their god. Usually, extensive facial tattoos among Banites is enough to identify them.
HierarchySpecialty priests of Bane have a variety of titles within their organization, depending on location and position. They tend to be grandiose and threatening (high imperceptor, grand bloodletter, etc.).
TemplesBanes' temples tend to reflect the clergy's regimented doctrines. Tall, sharpened cornered stone structures featuring towers adorned with large spikes and thin windows, most Banite churches suggest the architecture of fortified keeps or small castles. Thin interior passageways lead from an austere foyer to barracks like common chambers for the lay clergy, each sparsely decorated with tapestries depicting the symbol of Bane or inscribed with embroidered passages from important religious texts. Temples frequently include an exposed central courtyard used for military drills and open air ceremonies, as well as a more traditional mass hall for the congregation at large. Most churches feature extensive subterranean dungeons replete with torture chambers, starvation wells, and monster pens.
RitualsBanite customs are often quite spartan in nature and the god's followers celebrate no holidays in honor of their god, instead showing their gratitude to him through service and the ritual torture and sacrifice of sentient beings offensive to the god. Priests of Bane pray for their spells at midnight, pledging their eternal loyalty and service to the Black Hand, knowing full well that the penalty for failure or disloyalty is death.
Serve no one but Bane. Fear him always and make others fear him even more than you do. The Black Hand always strikes down those who stand against it in the end. Defy Bane and die -- or in death find loyalty to him, for he shall compel it. Submit to the word of Bane as uttered by his ranking clergy, since true power can only be gained through service to him. Spread the dark fear of Bane. It is the doom of those who do not follow him to let power slip through their hands. Those who cross the Black Hand meet their dooms earlier and more harshly than those who worship other deities.
On the rare occasion in which he appears, he takes the form of a shadowy humanoid figure, often bare-chested, sometimes wearing dark armor and a stylish black cloak streaked with red. His right hand, invariably protected by a jeweled metal gauntlet, is all the weapon he needs to dispatch the few foes brave (or foolhardy) enough to attack him.
While Bane believed himself the rightful ruler of all the planes and could not tolerate subservience to anyone, the god was willing, unlike many evil deities, to work with others if it served his interests and the god formed multiple alliances. Most notable perhaps was his alliance with Myrkul, which stretched back to when both were mortals and which continued until both of their deaths during the Time of Troubles. Bane also had working relations with the gods Loviatar, Talona, and Mask; when Bane returned to life in 1372 DR, he quickly went about reforging these alliances, primarily by reasserting their fears of him. Besides allies, Bane also had servants, such as Bhaal and his own son, Iyachtu Xvim during his first life as a god, and Abbathor, Maglubiyet, Hruggek, and Tiamat during his second. Malar was also known to work along with Bane at times.
But as numerable as his allies, Bane had many enemies as well. For a time, Bane's most hated foe was the goddess of magic, Mystra, whose power he coveted. Since his return, however, Bane's greatest foes were Cyric who stole from him many of his worshipers and the Zhentarim, and the Triad (Torm, Ilmater, Tyr), particularly its formerly junior but now senior member Torm, who was the being responsible for Bane's first death. Bane was also enemies with the gods Amaunator and Oghma and called Helm and Midnight enemies as well when both gods lived.
HistoryLike many of the younger gods, Bane was once a mortal human. Little was known about the Black Hand's past, not even precisely when it was he lived, but the adventurer became known when he forged an alliance with two other mortal beings: Bhaal and Myrkul. Together, the three forged a pact of mutual aid and ambition: together they would conquer not just the world, but the heavens, becoming gods unto themselves. They targeted specifically the powerful god of death, Jergal, who was among the most powerful of Toril's deities at the time. Bane the deity was viewed by many as the face of pure evil and his malevolence and tyranny were known throughout nearly all of Faerûn.
The group, known as the Dead Three, soon became well-known to Jergal, surmounting every obstacle thrown their way, obtaining magical power and even, at one point, destroying one of the Seven Lost Gods, taking the fallen primordial's essence for themselves and dividing it up equally. Unbeknownst to them, this was all Jergal's doing, for the god had grown tired of his crown, even allowing powerful magic weapons such as the Jathiman Dagger, gifted to Bane, to fall into the hands of the party.
When the time came to confront Jergal, the god of death tricked the Dead Three into turning on one another, each desiring the others' power. Jergal then intervened and proposed to divide up his portfolio for them, based upon a game of knucklebones, which Bane promptly won. Bane claimed for his prize governance over the sphere of strife, believing he would be able to rule over all of Toril in this way. As it turned out, however, Bane would not only have to contend with Bhaal and Myrkul, who became powerful gods in of themselves, but with the rest of the divine, who would become his most hated foes.
The Time of Troubles - The Fall of Bane
Although Bane had many foes, he did find allies in a few gods and in particular continued a working relationship with the other members of the Dead Three, with whom he plotted against his enemies, such as the goddess Mystra. It was during this time that Bane sired a son, Iyachtu Xvim, some say by a tanar'ri, others by a fallen paladin of good. Xvim resented his father but nonetheless served compliantly as his servant during this period, along with other servants of the Black Hand such as Bhaal. Iyachtu Xvim's true purpose, however, would not be revealed until many, many years later.
Eventually, Bane's plots backfired against him and in one particularly overambitious gambit, he and Myrkul attempted to steal the Tablets of Fate from Ao the Overgod himself. For this, the two and every other god were banished from their astral dominions to traverse Toril's surface in an exercise of humility, precipitating the Time of Troubles. It was Ao's hope that through this, the gods would learn not only to be content with what power they had, but to respect the needs and wishes of their worshipers.
However, not all the gods were so willing to learn and all of them tried to regain their divine power as quickly as possible. Bane was among these deities, but unfortunately for him he was slain by the young god Torm (on Eleasias 13, 1358 DR) near Tantras. Subsequently the majority of Bane's power fell from him to the mortal Cyric, who temporarily claimed the powers of all the Dead Three - all of whom perished in the Time of Troubles. A smaller portion fell to his son, Iyachtu Xvim, an eventuality that Bane had anticipated should he himself perish. When news of his destruction spread across the Realms, at least a score of Faerûnian nations marked the occasion with widespread festivals of thanks and celebration.
Resurrection and Return to Power
For Bane, it soon became apparent, death was but a temporary setback. Anticipating the possibility of his own death Bane, the god of tyranny had, like his companion Bhaal, created a scion for the purpose of his own regeneration. When the time was right Xvim, who was in fact little more than a cocoon to contain the essence of Bane, burst forth into the black and armored figure of Bane, destroying the younger god entirely. This event (which occurred on Midwinter in the Year of Wild Magic) appears to have been in part the work of the lich Szass Tam as well, who performed a summoning the same night. Overnight the Faithful of Xvim, led by the god's Chosen Fzoul Chembryl converted to the worship of their returned master, as did many of Cyric's own worshipers.
Since his miraculous resurrection, Bane has gone to the work of reestablishing his power base, a task which he has been largely successful in. Regaining nearly all of his followers from Xvim and Cyric, Bane then went about reforming his church hierarchy, forcibly eliminating its tendencies towards in-fighting, which he previously had encouraged in order to separate the weak from the strong; he now realized this leadership style to be self-defeating and destructive. Bane installed as the head of this new church Fzoul Chembryl, whom he took as his own Chosen. Bane also reestablished his old alliances with Loviatar, Mask, and Talona, who had previously worked alongside him before the Time of Troubles.
Bane escaped the Spellplague largely unscathed and, in fact, the cataclysm largely benefited him, removing two of his chief rivals, Mystra and Cyric all at once. In the century that followed Bane's power increased only further and the god conquered the goblinoid pantheon, bringing Maglubiyet and Hruggek to heel before him. By the end of the Era of Upheaval Bane was as powerful—and as dangerous—as he had ever been.
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