Malar, The Beastlord, is the lesser deity of the hunt, evil lycanthropes, bestial savagery and bloodlust. He is a primordial, savage deity who revels in the hunt and the blood of the kill. Malar delights in instilling fear in his victims, for he can literally smell and taste the essences of their terror. The Beastlord is known by many names in many lands, including the Stalker along the shores of the Vilhon Reach, the Render across the Endless Ice and the Great Glacier, the Blue Bear among the Uthgardt, and Herne among the orcs of the High Forest.
In civilized settings, the church of Malar is widely loathed, for its members—often evil lycanthropes—are some of the most dangerous threats to the safety of the local populace. Along the frontier and in wilderness settings, however, those who must hunt for food reluctantly pay homage to the Beastlord, even as they fear his cruelty. Outsiders sometimes differentiate between "Hunts," as Malarite bands are known, that operate openly and those that stalk the night. Some realms, such as Cormyr, legally recognize the former as having dominion over hunting while considering the latter to be little more than dangerous predators to be driven off or slain.
Clerics of Malar indulge in hunting as often as possible. They drive the hunt to make it as dangerous as possible to prey and predator alike, and try to ensure that its bloody finale takes place in a settled area. Common folk do not appreciate having desperate wolves, displacer beasts, and the like chased through town, and they tend to hate and fear Malar's faithful—which is the whole idea: Those who do not venerate the Lord of Beasts should respect him out of fear.
Malarite clergy also preach the joy and bounty of the hunt and work to thwart the expansion of civilization to preserve as much wilderness as possible. To this end, they stage raids and acts of vandalism that are popular with outlaws and bored young nobles. Malarites work against the priesthoods of Chauntea, Deneir, Eldath, Ilmater, Mielikki, Silvanus, and similar deities and their allies. Malarite clergy seek to slay druids of all faiths whenever possible, for they see the natural Balance that druids promote and maintain as the true foe of all who love to hunt. They believe it interferes with the rightful triumph of the strong over the weak. Consequently, druid organizations, those with druidic connections, and those sponsored even partially by nature deities (including the Harpers) also seek out and destroy Malarite strongholds at any opportunity.
Malar's clerics often multiclass as barbarians, rangers, or druids. Many are evil lycanthropes such as werewolves.
VestmentsHuntmasters wear headpieces made from the pelt and head of the most impressive beast they have been able to slay with their bare hands (usually a bear or great cat, but sometimes an owlbear, leucrotta, or peryton). Malarites carry hunting horns on their belts and are never without at least three daggers (usually one sheathed in each boot, two in belt sheaths, one strapped to either forearm, and another hidden in a nape-of-the-neck sheath under the hair or in an armpit sheath). Woodland garb of red or brown is the favored dress for hunts. By day, red hunt clothing is often concealed by a wood-cloak of mottled black, gray, and green. Necklaces of animal bones, fangs, and claws, and a variety of pelts are often worn in addition to normal hunt clothes when priests desire to impress.
When adventuring, priests of Malar dress practically, but most favor armor constructed from the hides of living creatures that allows flexibility and rapid movement. Necklaces of claws and fangs and a variety of pelts from predator animals are often worn to quietly demonstrate a Malarite's hunting prowess to the members of a community.
HierarchyThe church of Malar is loosely bound and without a central hierarchy. It is organized around the concept of the Hunt and consists of local, independent cells. This makes it all the more difficult to counter or remove, for as soon as one den of Malarties is contained, another arises. Huntmasters are the informal religious leaders of the church and may be clerics, druids, rangers, or shape changing predators. They decide the locale, time, and prey of the ceremonial hunts of the faithful. The office of Huntmaster is won by challenge—a fight to the death if the incumbent does not resign—and the Huntmaster decides the locale, time, and prey to be stalked in the ceremonial hunts of the faithful.
Malarite priests are known as Lords of the Hunt or Huntlords (to distinguish them from lay followers, who are merely "of the Hunt"). No individual titles are used, except "Old Hunter" as an address of respect to senior clergy, but clergy members are often known by names such as Brother Stag or Sister Wolf in recognition of the most powerful beasts they have slain along with only their daggers, their bare hands, or claws of Malar. Specialty priests of Malar are known as Talons.
TemplesTemples of Malar are rare, as most Hunts eschew formal buildings for shadowed wilderness glades. Unlike most druidic circles, those of Malar's worship consist of inwardly curving, fang-shaped stones arranged in a ring. In more civilized settings, where the activities of Malarites are viewed with loathing, the sacred area may be hidden within extensive limestone caverns accessible via a sinkhole above the center of the stone circle. The twisting subterranean passages serve as hunting grounds through ruthless Malarties stalk sentient prey (particularly humanoids) captured from the surrounding region.
RitualsClerics of Malar pray for spells at night, preferably under a full moon. They also offer prayers to the Beastlord before the chase, during pursuit, and while drinking a toast over the slain quarry (sometimes with its blood). The droning Bloodsong is intoned over the bodies of all creatures slain during a hunt, and specific ritual prayers and chants accompany feasting on any prey.
The only high rites of the faith are the Feast of the Stags and the High Hunts. The Feast is celebrated at Higharvestide, when Malarite clergy parade through settled areas bearing the heads of the beasts they have slain during the previous tenday (a frenzied orgy of killing) and lead all who desire to eat to a feast. The beasts hunted down by Malarite hands are the main dishes at this two-day-long revel of gluttony, and all folk are invited (even druids may come and dine in safety, protected by "the Peace of the Table"). At this feast, clergy publicly undertake to hunt throughout the winter ahead for the tables of specific widows, aged folk, infirm individuals, and orphan children. This day marks the annual high point of regard for the faith of Malar in most communities.
By Malar's command, every hunt (religious ceremony) of his worshipers must celebrate at least one High Hunt in each of the four seasons of the year. A High Hunt is a sporting event attended by all Malarite clergy members able to walk. They wear boots and headpieces made from the skulls or heads of beasts they have personally slain, and each wields only a single knife or the claws of Malar. Their quarry—a sentient humanoid, usually a human male—who is set free in a wooded area (or extensive cavern complex if necessary) ringed by Malarite clergy members. The prey is often a druid and cannot be a worshiper of Malar (Huntmasters cannot use the High Hunt to eliminate potential rivals within the clergy). The quarry is armed and armored with all the nonmagical items he or she desires that can reasonably be obtained—and then hunted to death for the glory of Malar. When slain, victims of the hunt are wholly burned to ashes as a meal for Malar. However, if the prey escapes the boundaries of the hunt (set up at its beginning) within a day and a night or survives until the sun has cleared the horizon on the morning after the hunt begins, he or she wins freedom, can never be so hunted again, and can ask any boon of the Huntmaster that is within his or her power and does not involve killing a Malarite.
OrdersThe church of Malar also includes lone priests unaffiliated with any particular hunt. These solitary women and men, known as Beastmasters, exhibit an amazing rapport bordering on telepathy with animals and other predators, and they are rumored to command fearsome powers resembling those of powerful druids. Beastmasters resemble savage beasts in disposition and lifestyle and exert control over most predators in large swaths of wilderness through the use of multiple, concurrent find companion spells (other clergy can only have one animal companion at a time). Beastmasters only rarely call upon the aid of other Malarites in their territory, but when they do, few local Huntmasters defy their requests. There is a loose correlation between the geographic areas of influence of Beastmasters and circles of druids in the wild. Individual Beastmasters and their servitors contest in an endless cycle of violence with nearby druids.
Malar is also served by a few rare Beast Lords. These lone spellcasters breed unnatural monsters like bulettes, stegocentipedes, owlbears, perytons, and so forth. While most Beast Lords are human, a few are drawn from the ranks of other races such as illithids and beholders. One prominent nonhuman Beast Lord in the North is an illithilich, believed to be based in ruined Dekanter, who seeks to conquer part of the dark realms of the Underdark with an army of beasts.
Survival of the fittest and the winnowing of the weak are Malar's legacy. A brutal, bloody death or kill has great meaning. The crux of life is the challenge between the hunter and the prey, the determination of who lives or dies. View every important task as a hunt. Remain ever alert and alive. Walk the wilderness without trepidation, and show no fear in the hunt. Savagery and strong emotions defeat reason and careful thought in all things. Taste the blood of those you slay, and never kill from a distance. Work against those who cut back the forest and who kill beasts solely because they are dangerous. Slay not the young, the pregnant, or deepspawn so that prey will remain plentiful.
Malar appears as a sleek and supple humanoid catlike beast with blood-spattered ebony fur. Some depictions of Malar show his catlike face painted in blood.
Malar is an ancient deity who dates back to the days when the first beasts stalked the land. He has always hated the Fair Folk and maintains a long-standing alliance with Lolth against the Seldarine. Over the centuries, he has tried to usurp power from other deities with varying degrees of success. He is one of the Deities of Fury, along with Talos (his superior), Auril, and Umberlee, and he is allied against the deities of peace, civilization, and nature, but harbors a particular loathing for Nobanion since that deity defeated him in a fierce conflict, known as the Roar of Shadows, during the Time of Troubles.
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