Mystra is the goddess of magic and with that the goddess of possibilities that magic can bring about, which makes her arguably the most powerful deity in Faerûn and possibly throughout Realmspace.
She is said to have taught the first spellcaster of the Realms, and to have enabled many of the races to use magic. She is most venerated by wizards and those who use magic or magical items in their daily use. She differs from Azuth in that Azuth is the god of wizards, while Mystra is the goddess of the essential force that makes all spellcasting possible.
Mystra provides for and tends to the Weave, of which she is effectively the embodiment. The Weave is the conduit that enables mortal spell casters and magical crafters to safely access the raw force that is magic. She supposedly weighs and judges each new spell or magical item to determine whether it should be permitted into the Realms. Although she favors the ethos of good, she has learned that as deity of magic, she must preserve the Balance. While she can prevent the creation of new spells and magic items that her philosophy opposes, she rarely exercises this ability unless they threaten the Weave or magic in general.
The church of Mystra is very powerful across Faerûn and includes many adherents among the populace. Were more wizards and sorcerers devout worshipers of the Lady of Mysteries, the faith would undoubtedly be the most powerful in all Faerûn. Mystra's followers have lost a great deal of influence since the Time of Troubles, when magic ran amok and caused great destruction. The deity's actions over the past decade have only driven more worshipers, particularly evil wizards and sorcerers, into the arms of Shar.
Mystran clergy work hard to preserve all magical lore so that magic can flourish in the future regardless of what befalls the thinking races of Faerûn or the powers of the planes. They maintain secret libraries, private safe holds, well-guarded research laboratories, and small, hidden stashes. Mystrans also search out beings skilled in spell use and keep watch on the power and behavior of individuals likely to become magic-wielders of importance.
The clergy actively seek out sources of old magic, often from tombs, dangerous ruins—even liches. They consider it more crucial to know the precise location of artifacts and items of magical power than to possess them, but wherever possible, they work to wrest control of such things from the aggressively evil, the irresponsible, and the unsound of mind. While some of Mystra's clerics follow the teachings of the older, lawful neutral incarnation of the deity, most have changed alignment in accordance with her current incarnation or have left the faith.
All clergy of Mystra are expected to devise their own new magic (whether it be spells or items) upon gaining sufficient experience. In this way, magical study remains a growing, vibrant thing, and magic is not merely seen as a handy tool for rulers and engineers to tame Faerûn, but remains a thing of wonder. Mystra's clerics usually multiclass as sorcerers or wizards.
All priests of Mystra can cause their own flesh—all of it, or specific areas, such as a hand—to glow at will with a soft, blue-white radiance as a boon from Mystra. This radiance, known as weaveglow, is enough to read by or to allow a priest to clearly see items and surroundings within 5 feet. Most Mystrans keep this sign of the favor of the goddess secret from nonbelievers. As something mysterious, it is more useful, allowing them, for example, to feign affliction or magical attack. Weaveglow is granted to priests after their initiation, which is often a Starflight ceremony.
VestmentsThe ceremonial garb of Mystran clerics consists of simple blue robes, sometimes trimmed with white, accented by a cloak of deep blue in colder climates. Some form of blue headgear is required, though this may range from a plain skullcap for the scholarly orders of the Sword Coast North to wide, ornate hats and helms in southern lands.
Mystra's symbol was a blue-white star before the Time of Troubles, but both old and new symbols are still in use. Mystran clerics are very tolerant of the older worship of Mystra, as they feel that progress comes only by learning about the past. They let established symbols of the old faith stand, but when creating new symbols, they always use the new sigil of their deity.
In the field, priests of Mystra wear armor and bear the new symbol of Mystra on their shields as a display of their faith. If armor is inappropriate, they dress in the fashion of the land they inhabit appropriate for the inclement weather.
HierarchyThe hierarchy of the Mystran faith is wide and varied, separating into orders concentrating on one form of magical energy or another. Clerics, specialty priests, wizards, and bards can all he found in its ranks without regard to experience level or origin. The general rule of the Mystran faith is that talent and ability outweighs social rank or legendary feats. Only those clergy members who gain their spells directly from a higher power gain their spells directly from the goddess, but all are welcome within the church's hierarchy.
The priests of Mystra are known as Servants of Mystery. Higher level priests, both those with title and lands and legendary adventuring priests, are called Ladies or Lords of Mystery. Titles within the faith vary from temple to temple and follow no standard form across the whole of the church, though most temples are rigidly self-consistent.
TemplesTemples of Mystra can be almost any size and style of structure; some shrines are natural caves or grottoes. All are living works of art—or rather, "Art-raised" with magic and wrapped in countless spells. Most are filled with magic items, many of which are of an esoteric rather than practical nature. Most include an open central courtyard in which daily services are held and from which one can see the stars at night or a magical representation of them. Lesser rooms house libraries of magical lore or serve as work shops and laboratories for experimentation in the Art.
Sites dedicated to the deity are enhanced by the Weave to augment spellcasting power. Through the grace of the goddess, Mystran priests who stand in a place sacred to Mystra can cast spells for the maximum possible damage, duration, or extent of effect (their choice of which). The benefit ends if the recipient leaves the location of the temple.
RitualsClerics of Mystra pick one time of day or night to consistently pray for spells. On the whole, though, the worship of Mystra tends to be a personal thing rather than a series of calendar rituals. For some mages whom the goddess counts as devout believers, it never goes beyond a whispered prayer of thanks to her with each spell they cast coupled with some thought as to the moral consequences of the use of this or that spell. For Mystra, that is enough. The goddess gains both delight and strength, however, from beings who do more in reverence to her.
Two ceremonies of great personal significance are Starflight and Magefire. Starflight is often used as an initiation when an individual joins the priesthood of Mystra or a celebration when two worshipers are wed. It is a special ceremonial cooperative magic worked by several priests that empowers one of the faithful to fly so long as stars are visible in the sky. This can make long journeys easy, provide a joyous change of pace, serve as a special means of looking over the land, achieve privacy for important discussions, place one of the faithful a safe distance away from precious things in order to try hurling spectacular spells, or provide a very special beginning for one's marriage.
Magefire is renewal; it is the exciting feeling of great magical power surging through one's body, blazing out as flickering blue fire as it spills forth, cleansing and renewing. With enough clergy powering it, this cooperative ceremonial magic can heal all sorts of fell conditions. Mystrans describe it as "the most blissful feeling one can know." It is spectacular to watch. The Mystran to he affected lies down on the ground and the circle of celebrants pours power into the worshiper—until his or her body, blazing with blue fire, slowly rises to hang in midair above those fueling the ceremony, humming and crackling with the power of the magic surging through it. Magefire often ends in a Starflight ceremony, provided the celebrants intone the correct incantation.
The Hymn to the Lady is a solemn ritual performed at funerals and mage-moots, that calls up visions of dead mages and Mystran clergy as a plainsong dirge is intoned by the living clergy present. Mystra often uses these visions to insert her own guiding scenes. A modified Magefire ceremony may be employed at the end of the Hymn to raise the honored dead aloft into a floating pyre on high.
Mystran clergy celebrate the 15th day of Marpenoth, the anniversary of Midnight's elevation to divinity as the new Mystra, with a huge festival centered around the House of Wonder that ends in magical fireworks that go long into the night. This holiday is being gradually adopted by shrines and temples of Mystra throughout Faerûn. Otherwise they have few calendar-related rituals, focusing more on a personal style of worship.
OrdersMost wizards and bards in the Mystran church are members of the clergy and belong to no special order, though the church of Mystra has close ties with Those Who Harp (the Harpers), an organization working for good and against the rise of great powers throughout Faerûn.
Order of the Starry Quill: The Starry Quill is an order of Mystran bards who often work as information gatherers and rumormongers for the church or spend part of their time in designated libraries unearthing magical knowledge and then preserving it for posterity.
Order of the Shooting Star: The Church of Mystra sponsors an order of rangers, known as the Order of the Shooting Star. These rangers receive their spells from Mystra. They serve as long-range scouts and spies for the church and also deal with magical threats that threaten the natural order of things, such as unloosed tanar'ri and baatezu and creatures born of irresponsible wizardly experimentation.
Knights of Mystic Fire: The Church of Mystra sponsors a knightly order of paladins, the Knights of the Mystic Fire, who are granted their spells by Mystra. They often accompany members of the clergy on quests to locate lost hoards of ancient magic and also form the cadre from which the leadership for the small groups of armed forces who guard Mystra's larger temples and workshops is drawn.
Love magic for itself. Do not treat it just as a weapon to reshape the world to your will. True wisdom is knowing when not to use magic. Strive to use magic less as your powers develop, for often the threat or promise of its use outstrips its actual performance. Magic is Art, the Gift of the Lady, and those who wield it are privileged in the extreme. Conduct yourself humbly, not proudly, while being mindful of this. Use the Art deftly and efficiently, not carelessly and recklessly. Seek always to learn and create new magic.
As a goddess, Mystra could shape change at will and mortals who saw her reported she changed constantly. Others described her appearing in a form resembling a multicolored will-o'-wisp.
Mystra also appears as young girl who has a graceful bearing, large, dark eyes and short-cropped blond hair. She is usually barefoot and wears plain ankle-length robes of a dark hue. She sometimes goes by the name Caitlan Moonsong.
Mystra is the third deity to hold the position of Lady of Mysteries and Mother of All Magic since the rise of Netheril. The first was Mystryl, who died saving the Weave from the arrogance of the Netherese arch wizard Karsus. The second Lady of Mysteries was the first to create the Chosen of Mystra, including Elminster, Khelben, and the Seven Sisters. She died at the hands of Helm during the Time of Troubles while trying to return to the planes. At the end of the Avatar Crisis, a mortal wizard named Midnight assumed the name of her predecessor upon ascension to divinity. Like Cyric and Kelemvor, it took the new Mystra some time to grow into her role as a deity. For a decade, she battled her old enemy Cyric on many occasions, and for a time, withheld the use of magic from deities and mortals alike. However, since then she seems to have learned her role as guardian of the Balance and impartial arbiter of the Weave.
Mystra's greatest enemies are Shar, who created the Shadow Weave in response to Selûne's creation of Mystra and the birth of the Weave, and Cyric, who was a mortal along with Mystra and Kelemvor (with whom Mystra has a cold friendship). She is served directly by the Lesser Power Azuth, and indirectly by demipowers Savras and Velsharoon. Mystra also has powerful mortal servants in her Chosen including Elminster, Khelben Arunsun and the Seven Sisters.