Kelemvor (formerly Kelemvor Lyonsbane), also known as the Lord of the Dead and Judge of the Damned, is the god of death and the dead, and master of the Crystal Spire in the Fugue Plane. In his mortal days, Kelemvor was a skilled mercenary, with the heart of a noble paladin, concealed under rude manners and thwarted by his mysterious family curse.
Fair yet cold, Kelemvor is the god of death and the dead—the most recent deity to hold this position, following in the footsteps of Jergal, Myrkul, and Cyric. Unlike these other deities, who made the afterlife an uncertain and fearful thing, Kelemvor urges knowledge that death is a natural part of life and should not be feared as long as it is understood.
Kelemvor is one of the most unwilling and conflicted of the "New Gods." Although he has a fierce revulsion for undead, his hatred is reserved for "undead by choice" (such as liches). He has sympathy for haunts, apparitions, and revenants that exist because someone died without being able to finish a task, mission, or achievement that dominated their lives at the time of death, or so violently and "unfairly" that revenge or at least public identification of their slayer (as a warning to others) leaves them unable to "rest." So Kelemvor will turn a blind eye to "unfinished business" undead, but stand against those who seek to cheat death and achieve undeath thereby.
Kelemvor is a taciturn deity, and until recently was not completely sure of himself or his role. He has placed such uncertainties behind him, however, and approaches his duty as judge of the afterlife earnestly, tempering his strong sense of justice with kindness and forthrightness. He is not, however, particularly clever, and prefers to solve problems with direct action that sometimes leads to unintended results.
Kelemvor urges his clerics to act as stewards of the afterlife and to teach the people of Faerûn that death is a natural part of life. There is nothing to be feared in the transition, for only the truly wicked, the Faithless, or the False must fear the world beyond the Fugue Plane. Kelemvor views all undead as abominations, ordering his servants to destroy them at every turn.
Kelemvor's clerics make every attempt to minister to the common people, to demystify the process of death and help the bereaved cope in times of loss. Most folk welcome the appearance of clerics of Kelemvor, thankful for their light touch and calming demeanors – a welcome change from the days when unsettling clerics of Myrkul demanded funerary fees that seemed all too close to extortion.
Priests of Kelemvor comfort the dying and provide burials for those who die alone. They administer last rites to the dying and help the living left behind to better understand the natural and inevitable process of death and dying. When people die alone without a will, known heirs, or business partners, their goods are taken by the church to fund its ongoing ministry to the dying. This does not, by any means, mean that death clergy would ever take goods from a grave for their own benefit. In cases of great pain, ravaging disease, or mutilation where death would be a mercy, it is the office of the priests of Kelemvor—and only the priests of Kelemvor—to bring death, as swiftly and painlessly as possible.
When plagues, hordes, or great monsters run amok, they must be fought by the death clergy, for it is not right that many die before their due time. When marauding dragons or other monstrous predators become problems, the death clergy should try to interest adventuring bands in slaying the problems—failing that, they must deal with the problems themselves. Children (particularly those growing up near evil kingdoms) hold militant clerics and paladins of Kelemvor in awe as undead hunters, and communities beset by the attentions of necromancers or tomb robbers often come to his clergy for aid.
All priests of Kelemvor may be called to a holy mission by their god or their senior clergy and pursue a more active and adventurous life. Such priests defend death clergy members and holdings when need be and bring death to others when it is necessary. For example, a Kelemvorite specialty priest assigned to a holy mission may be sent to lead an adventuring party to stop the spread of disease or kill beings seeking to disrupt natural cycles—such as mages who seek to create huge armies of undead or develop necromancy spells that can slay others and transform them inescapably into undead creatures under their control. Death clergy sent to slay predators or to go into dangerous country to comfort the dying are often issued scrolls of offensive spells or magical items of battle power gleaned from the goods of those who died alone.
VestmentsClerics of Kelemvor usually wear smokey gray robes and cowled cloaks. Specialty priests can readily be identified by their silver headbands, which are normally never removed, and by the symbol of Kelemvor displayed prominently in a badge on the chests of their somber, elegant robes. Their robes are always of a single hue without trim or ostentation and of dark, muted hues of green, blue, or gray, in ascending order of rank; they can be worn over armor if need be. The scales in the badge of Kelemvor worn by a priest also denote rank: They are iron-colored for lower clergy, silver for full priests, and gold for higher-ranking priests.
Adventuring clergy members are often given a gray domino mask by the church (sometimes enchanted with detect undead). Adventuring priests dress functionally, wearing whatever armor and clothing is practical. They are required to display the symbol of their deity prominently. Often it is worn on the left breast over the heart or is woven into a cloak.
Kelemvor's elite clerics, called Doomguides, sometimes multiclass as necromancers or rangers using their knowledge to hunt down and destroy undead.
TemplesMany of Kelemvor's temples used to be temples of Myrkul, and hence have less inviting or soothing architecture than their high clerics might prefer. Bone-and-Skull motif's predominate, and some of the larger temples even feature now-sealed chambers once used for revivification or darker rites. One major center of worship devoted to Kelemvor is the Tower of Skulls in Ormath.
RitualsClerics of Kelemvor pray for spells at sundown. Most holy ceremonies involve blessing a soul for the transition into the afterlife. If present at the moment of death, a cleric of Kelemvor performs the Passing, a simple ceremony of last rites that is a chant of comfort calling on Kelemvor to be alert for the coming essence of this person, who has enriched life in Faerûn in his or her own way and earned this salute.
The Lament for the Fallen is a larger ceremony of this sort sung over a battlefield, ruined village or fortress, or other site where many folk have recently died. This ceremony, similar to the Passing, features low, droning chants, and rhythmic beating of ash staffs upon the open ground.
Clergy of the god also lead a daily morning ceremony over graves, the Remembrance, and a ritual that begins after nightfall, the Daeum. The Remembrance is a dignified rite of songs and prayer usually attended by relatives of the dead. The Daeum, or Thanks to the Guide (Kelemvor), is a celebration of the strength and purpose of the Great Guide and his church and is attended only by faithful followers of the god. It is at the close of this ceremony that the goods of the dead are distributed to the assembled faithful and any favors of the god or holy missions are dispensed through manifestations or the orders of senior clergy.
The two great calendar-related holy days of the Church of Kelemvor are Shieldmeet and the Feast of the Moon. During both of these days, priests of the Lord of the Dead tell tales of the Deeds of the Dead so that the greatness and importance of the ancestors of those alive today will never be forgotten. They also call back from the dead heroes who are needed in the land again (in the opinion of mortal supplicants whom Kelemvor agrees with). During both of these solemn high holy days, any priest of Kelemvor who casts speak with dead can talk freely with the departed for as long as desired and hold conversations, not merely put questions to them for which the answer will be a bare "yes" or "no."
OrdersThus far the church of Kelemvor has no affiliated military or knightly orders. All gravediggers, embalmers, and other cemetery workers and crafters who work for the church of Kelemvor and are not themselves clergy belong to theMost Solemn Order of the Silent Shroud. Those of this order identify each other with a series of secret signs. Their task is to keep the church informed of undead sightings and gravesite desecrations.
The Knights of Eternal Order is a recently established order whose purpose is to hunt and destroy powerful undead. They are said to develop powerful undead-fighting powers by sacrificing other paladin abilities.
Recognize that death is part of life. It is not an ending but a beginning, not a punishment but a necessity. Death is an orderly process without deceit, concealment, and randomness. Help others die with dignity at their appointed time and no sooner. Speak against those that would artificially prolong their life beyond natural limits, such as the undead. Do honor to the dead, for their strivings in life brought Faerûn to where it is now. Forgetting them is to forget where we are now, and why. Let no human in all Faerûn die a natural death without one of Kelemvor's clerics at her side.
When Kelemvor sends his avatar, he typically appears as he did during his mortal life. He appears as a well-built man wearing shimmering chainmail and a closed-face helm. He usually carries a Morningstar of nearly-translucent stone that glows red in the presence of undead. His voice is gravelly and he always speaks solemnly. Not known for having a sense of humor, he is relentless in his pursuit for the eradication of every undead creation.
Kelemvor prefers to send a translucent image of a floating skull enfolded by a hood and surrounded by the flapping tarters of the rest of a diaphanous gray robe. This image is accompanied by the mournful whistle of winds. The image can speak with the voice of the god, though Kelemvor prefers to speak directly into the minds of beings who are present.
As mortals, Kelemvor and Midnight were lovers, but it is unlikely this was maintained after Midnight's ascension to take Mystra's place as they were afterwards both deities with responsibilities (Crucible: The Trial of Cyric the Mad gives an account of the end of Kelemvor and the new Mystra's love — though via a possibly unreliable author). Kelemvor's greatest enemy is Cyric, but he also fiercely opposed the machinations of Velsharoon, the necromancer god who animated the dead into undead and thus stood against everything Kelemvor works for, and Talona, for the unnatural deaths caused by her diseases. This also makes him an ally of Lathander the Morninglord, who also opposes undeath. Kelemvor maintains practical alliances with good and neutral-aligned gods of death in other pantheons — Sehanine Moonbow primarily and formerly Urogalan and Osiris as well. Kelemvor is served by the original deity of death, the mysterious, fatalistic, and pragmatic Jergal, who keeps records of the final disposition of spirits of the deceased.