Oghma, also known as The Lord of Knowledge, is the deity of bards, inspiration, invention, and knowledge in Faerûn. His portfolio is rather large, covering anything to do with coming up with new intellectual pursuits: whether it be poems, symphonies, prose, art, mathematical, architecture, crafts, etc. Oghma was the leader of the Deities of Knowledge and Invention and his home plane was the House of Knowledge.
Oghma is a cheerful and wise power whose ability to persuade others to his point of view he puts to endless use. He can be solemn and righteous, but he is more often quietly humorous and quick to smile. His one flaw may be his fondness for his own thoughts; he tends to implement rather convoluted plots that he has worked out first in his own mind rather than to take direct action.
Oghma's followers are those who seek knowledge and wish to spread it to the corners of Phrelle. His worshipers typically include bards, wizards, seekers of knowledge, librarians, scribes, inventors, and cartographers.
The clergy of Oghma all carry secondary jobs outside their religious duties. While in many smaller cities and towns these priests also take on the jobs of teachers, librarians, and scribes. In most communities the temple is a place of learning as well. Priests of Oghma refer to themselves as "Loremasters."
Priests of Oghma have traditionally been of two sorts: those who remain within the temples, monasteries, and abbeys, spending their lives in analysis, reading gathered tomes, and copying out texts and spells as requested and those who go out into the world to find the writings that fill the abbey libraries. There have always been conflicts between the overly fussy pedants among the cloistered and those who chafe under the petty rules and infighting they encounter within abbey walls and prefer to face the real world as one of the wayfaring. Most abbeys of Oghma support themselves by selling maps, scribework, and spell scrolls.
Wayfaring clergy are frequently sent armed with spell scrolls to trade and coin to purchase learned works and scrolls with, or make money by teaching, selling their own maps, writing poems, letters, songs, and lyrics for various patrons, and answering specific questions about Faerûn from their accumulated store of knowledge. Their map copies are always of real maps. A member of Oghma's clergy may sell a map that she or he knows to err in some respects but to be the best available, but can never knowingly sell a false map or a copy of it.
An Oghmanyte is expected to publish at least one book and cause it to be delivered to at least three temples of the Wise God. Such books may be some sort of small chapbook, such as a collection of song lyrics overheard from observation of performing minstrels, or they may even be romantic fiction, so long as such works realistically portray an existing society or place in the Realms and so impart some true knowledge to the reader.
Priests of Oghma are paid to give advice and draw up contracts, and they may even work directly for rich merchants, giving advice and judging the reactions of opponents of their patron during tough negotiating sessions. They receive tribute for Oghma before merchants make important business deals and before the inhabitants of Durpar, Estagund, and Var the Golden embark on new ventures. The priests who work at the Library of Oghma also manage and supply the teams of explorers and sages who constantly update that vast storehouse of knowledge.
All priests of Oghma are called Loremasters (and sometimes Namers). Other clergy include a smattering of bards and wizards. All races are freely admitted to the priesthood. The entire church hierarchy is devoted to the spirit of one man, the Grand Patriarch of Oghma, who until the Time of Troubles made his home in Procampur and was recognized as being the "voice of Oghma." During the Time of Troubles the Grand Patriarch disappeared without a trace. Answers from Oghma have been conflicting and confusing as to what happened to him. The Patriarch's house in Procampur has become a shrine to Oghma. Until the Grand Patriarch's fate is known, the church is running without an ultimate head, and it has split into several factions and subfactions.
The largest faction is the Orthodox Church of Oghma, which does not recognize anyone using the title Patriarch since its hierarchy holds that the Patriarch who vanished during the Time of Troubles is still serving Oghma. Perhaps the Patriarch is on another plane of existence or has ascended to a semidivine state, but nevertheless, until Oghma says otherwise, he is the only rightful Patriarch and they have refused to elect a new one until his fate has been determined. This faction believes that knowledge should be shared freely, no matter its content.
The second largest faction is the Church of Oghma in Sembia, which is distinguished mainly in that it believes a new Patriarch has been appointed and that all knowledge should be tested and proven to be worthy of dissemination before it is given out into general release. This faction is joined in its stance on the church hierarchy, but not on theology, by the third faction.
A third faction, called the Pursuers of Pure Knowledge, acknowledge the new patriarch, but do not accept his stance on vetting knowledge.
To date, there has been a tenuous cooperation between most regional churches, but a recent rift between the Church of Oghma in Sembia and the Orthodoxy in Cormyr has caused relations to be broken off totally between the church in those nations. Loremasters of the one nation are not welcome in the others' temples and vice versa. However while this religious schism seem to follow real-world examples of faiths splintering, one forgets that in Faerun the deities answer prayers through magic, so strictly speaking none of the factions are wrong because Oghma grants spells to all of his followers.
Another separate faction from the Shining South revere Oghma under the feminine guise of Curna, who they consider to be an aspect of the unifying world spirit they refer to as Adama. This sect is barely involved with the politics of the others and has a more common sense approach to knowledge, dealing primarily with knowledge of day-to-day current events.
VestmentsAll priests of Oghma have the same ceremonial dress - white shirt and trousers with a vest of black and gold brocade. The shirt sleeves are wide, but tied at the wrists. The vests, known as kantlara, depict many glyphs, sigils, runes, and symbols of magical power, arcane meaning, and significance in various realms of Faerûn down through the ages. Such markings are sewn on by the wearer using gold braid. They may be of any sort and size and are displayed on any spot on the garment that the wearer desires. At any time a priest ascends a level, she or he usually sees the symbol to be sewn in a dream vision. Kantlara are thus personal and individual garments.
Priests who lose or are separated from their kantlara are allowed to use purple or crimson vests adorned with a simple scroll of Oghma on the back and the symbol of Chelsinara on both breasts. This symbol, named for an important early priestess of the god, consists of two cupped hands, fingers uppermost and thumbs touching. It means "I learn." It is the badge of Oghma used by all who worship him, both laity and clergy, to denote their membership among the faithful.
A small boxlike hat is worn in ceremonies held on sacred grounds; off of ground Holy to Oghma it is removed. In addition to their other ceremonial garb, the priests of the breakaway Church of Oghma (in Sembia) always wear a harlequin's mask.
In the field, Oghmanyte priests have a relaxed dress code, wearing what they choose and usually choosing as much armor as possible. The Church of Oghma (in Sembia) retains the harlequin's mask, but only within the borders of Sembia.
Priests of the Wise God are encouraged to develop any music skills they possess under the tutelage of senior clergy and bards of accomplishment, and they usually carry some sort of instrument on their persons as well as some means of writing things down. Many loremasters carry items of minor temple magic known as pens of Oghma. These are quill pens that do not break, glow at the writer's will brightly enough to see to write or read by, and generate their own endless ink: a substance that does not blotch or fade and dries instantly.
HierarchyAcolytes in the service of the Binder are called Seekers, and those of some accomplishments are Senior Seekers. When an acolyte demonstrates clear (good and useful) inspiration, solid service in Oghma's cause, or true loyalty to the god to the discernment of at least two priests of the Wise God; those two priests confirm the acolyte as a true priest of Oghma, bestowing upon him the title of Loremaster. Those who rise in the service of Oghma may win various titles in different places and jurisdictions, but the most widely recognized hierarchy of ranks (in ascending order) is: Loremaster, Loremaster Amanuensis, Loremaster Venturer, Loremaster Bold, Lore-Scribe of the God, Wise Anticipator, Inspirator, Inspirator High, Atlar, Higher Atlar, Loremaster High, Loremaster Most High, Eye of Oghma, Divine Hand of Oghma.
The Church of Oghma in Sembia and the Pursuers of Pure Knowledge in Mintar use the titles (in ascending order) of: Advocate, Accomplished Advocate, Loremaster of the Twelfth, Loremaster of the Eleventh (and so on up to Loremaster of the Second), Loremaster First, Loremaster High, Learned One, and Patriarch. Clergy address each other as "brother" and "sister" regardless of rank, and a polite form of address for outsiders and lay worshipers to use when dealing with any priest of Oghma is "lady (or lord) loremaster".
TemplesFar more common in cities than the wilderness, temples of Oghma resemble libraries filled with acolytes huddled over desks covered in books, maps, and scrolls.
RitualsClerics of Oghma pray for spells in the morning. Every day, they perform two rituals known as the Cornerstones of the Day. : the Binding and the Covenant. The Binding is a morning service wherein the symbols of Oghma are written in the dirt, in ashes upon a stone altar, or in the mind if a clergy member happens to be shackled or otherwise unable to write, while a silent prayer of loyalty and praise is made to Oghma. The Covenant is an evening service during which a passage from some work of wisdom is read aloud or recited from memory, a song or poem is offered up to Oghma, and some item of knowledge that the clergy member has learned during that day is spoken aloud to the god and to any fellow clergy present.
In monasteries, temples, and abbeys of the Wise God, the rest of the day is typically occupied by readings aloud from great books of lore, philosophy, and history at gatherings held every two hours or so. It should be noted that almost all temples to Oghma have their own rituals that vary from one temple to the next and that many have two different sets of rituals: those for the resident clergy and those for laity and visiting clergy.
Midsummer and Shieldmeet are the most sacred days of the Oghmanyte calendar since they are occasions when agreements are made or renewed and many contracts, bonds, and the like are drawn up.
OrdersWhile the church of Oghma sponsors no military or knightly orders, it spreads its aegis over a countless number of monkish fellowships, scholarly orders of honor, guilds of naturalists and herbalists, and colleges of bardic knowledge.
Some of these include the Children of the Passive Voice, an order or learned monks whose members protect many libraries and abbeys; the Order of the Gilt Laurel, an honorary society of historical fiction authors; the Fellowship of the Forest, a naturalist society; and the Companions of the Silver Strings, an order of heroic bards who acted valiantly at risk of their own lives in the service of the church of Oghma. Other orders include the Scribes of Knowledge and the Seekers of Knowledge. The Oghmanyte faith also has ties with Those Who Harp (the Harpers), an organization working for good against the rise of great powers throughout Faerûn.
Knowledge, particularly the raw knowledge of ideas, is supreme. An idea has no weight, but it can move mountains. The greatest gift of humankind, an idea outweighs anything made by mortal hands. Knowledge is power and must be used with care, but hiding it away from others is never a good thing. Stifle no new ideas, no matter how false and crazed they seem; rather, let them be heard and considered. Never slay a singer, nor stand by as others do so. Spread knowledge wherever it is prudent to do so. Curb and deny falsehoods, rumor, and deceitful tales whenever you encounter them. Write or copy lore of great value at least once a year and give it away. Sponsor and teach bards, scribes, and record keepers. Spread truth and knowledge so that all folk know more. Never deliver a message falsely or incompletely. Teach reading and writing to those who ask (if your time permits), and charge no fee for the teaching.
Oghma's most common form is a kindly old man dressed in simple priest vestments.
Oghma, when not in human form, is represented as a flash of light that speaks in the voice of an old man, a series of notes preceding his arrival. The only knowledge forbidden to follower of Oghma is the exact tone and order of this song, and those who attempt to recreate it will find themselves warned once, and destroyed the second time.
Oghma's most common foes were Mask, Cyric, and Bane. Oghma's old archnemesis, Leira, is now dead and an aspect of Cyric. He may have been opposed to Ilsensine.
Along with Milil, Deneir, and Gond, Oghma was one of the Deities of Knowledge and Invention. He led the deific group and, although Deneir was lost, Oghma continued to lead them.