Velsharoon is the Faerûnian god of necromancy; a demipower who has gathered the study, practice, and practitioners of necromancy and evil liches into his portfolio and who is striving to add general undeath as well.
He is a vain, selfish, petty, but very canny deity consumed with vengeance, obsessed with experimenting on living and dead beings, and unconcerned with the fates of lesser creatures. In many ways he continues to act like the mortal he recently was, albeit with far greater power at his disposal than before.
Newly elevated to a divine state, the Lord of the Forgotten Crypt is only beginning to create a cult of worshipers in the Realms. Although many prognosticators, mortals and immortals alike, have predicted the quick destruction of this arrogant necromancer, Velsharoon has played one power off against another, and he has begun to establish himself in the Faerûnian pantheon.
Worshipers, Clergy & Temples
Velsharoon is largely unknown throughout Faerûn, but in the past year or so many bards have begun to relate fanciful tales of his ascension to audience's seeking to be frightened by stories of horror. Outside of secretive cabals of necromancers, those mortals who are aware of this evil demipower perceive Velsharoon as the lord of liches and a power able to organize the undead against the living.
The church of Velsharoon is a new one, and what hierarchy exists is found within individual temples. Many clerics of Velsharoon spend their days in necromantic research, seeking to understand and expand the faith's collective knowledge of life, death, and undeath. Most have created hundreds of undead servitors, some of them unique. When an undead creation has served its purpose, these self-involved researchers often brand the symbol of their deity on its chest and then order it to wander randomly across Faerûn. Other clerics of Velsharoon are involved in "support" activities for the faith—grave robbing, embalming, or teaching. A few of the more congenial low-level clerics sometimes cure the minor ills of the populace to bring in funding or worldly supplies for the church and to more easily gather information about its enemies. Many clerics multiclass as necromancers.
Velsharan vestments resemble once-resplendent, rotting wizard's robes. The Necromancer's clergy wear garments of varying colors-any shade except red-but their habits are uniformly of somber hue. Most adorn their vestments with depictions of skulls and bones, but the faith is still young enough that fixed patterns of adornment for the various ranks have not developed.
When adventuring, Velsharan clergy members favor iron-shod staves and cold iron or silver maces which are effective when battling undead. Most eschew armor as too great a burden on their spellcasting abilities, with only the relatively rare clerics of the clergy garbing themselves in conventional protective garb. A typical priest or necromancer disciple of Velsharoon considers an escort of undead servitors as eminently suitable armor.
Velsharoon's clergy is composed primarily of priests, known as necrophants, and necromancers. Both groups are represented in roughly equal numbers. Novices and acolytes of Velsharoon are known as Pallbearers. Higher ranking priests have titles such as Soul Stalker, Cryptguardian, Dead Walker, leeder, Life Leech, Spirit Sepulcher, Seeker of the Seven Truths, and Necromaster. Higher-ranking priests have unique individual titles conferred upon them by Velsharoon himself.
Cultists of Velsharoon gather in dusty crypts, abandoned mausoleums, and neglected graveyards. The Necromancer has few true temples, but those few which have been constructed are located in ancient catacombs or necropolises and resemble brooding stone mausoleums carved with ghastly depictions of the dead, the dying, and the undead. Fetid air and the cloying reek of embalming fluid waft through such edifices, and undead servitors serve as untiring sentinels. Vast laboratories, crammed storerooms of alchemical supplies, and befouled mortuaries consume most of the space, and few concessions are made toward sleeping chambers, dining halls, and kitchens.
In Faerûn, Velsharoon has two temples that have been built in his honour by his followers, one named the Crypt of the Arisen Army, which is ruled by Baron Vjurn Blacktower, and The Order of One Thousand Nightmares, which is controlled by a secret cabal of necromancers devoted to him. He also has a fair number of followers in Halruaa to the south.
Clerics of Velsharoon pray for their spells at midnight, when the secrets of the night are best unearthed. For a relatively young faith, the clergy of Velsharoon have quickly established a large number of holy days and rituals. The faith has yet to coalesce into a homogeneous creed, however, and widely varying rituals are found not only in different temples but within individual temples as well. Two rituals have become fairly widespread. The Binding of the Crypt and the Pact of the Everlasting are two rituals performed by powerful clerics, allowing them to return as an undead creature or be raised from the dead automatically if they are slain. Both rituals involve numerous other horrible incantations and the foul sacrifice of numerous good-aligned sentients. Prominent theologians of the faith claim that these rituals are merely the two of seven to be revealed by Velsharoon along a path to achieving immortality.
The Order of One Thousand Nightmares is a company of nightmare-riding swordwraiths who haunt the Fields of the Dead. Although the ghostly warriors have battled each other for centuries, Velsharoon's clergy have recently mastered powerful spells enabling them to organize the contentious spirits of the ancient warriors into a necromantic knighthood of nearly 200 undead mercenaries whose ranks continue to grow. The aims of the necrophant masters of this unholy army are unknown, but they surely spell trouble for the Western Heartlands.
Life and death are the twin faces of eternal existence. To surrender to either one is to resign oneself to obscurity. True power lies in the twilight zone between life and death. By seeking to explore and extend the mortal condition and form—even mortal life itself—knowledge of the world and its infinite complexity are extended. Let no one interfere with the pursuit of such research, for the end result will more than justify the necessary sacrifices along the path. Knowledge is power, and knowledge of life and death brings power over all beings, living and unliving.
Velsharoon appears gaunt and skeletal, with withered flesh stretched tight across his horribly visible bones. Bright pinpoints of crimson light burn in the empty sockets where his eyes had been. He wears dark, tattered wizard robes. He is said to wield a staff known as the "Skull Staff of the Necromancer", which is an Imaskari artifact.
Relationships & History
Azuth remains an unlikely and unhappy ally of Velsharoon, and Talos seems to be biding his time until the Lord of the Forgotten Crypt gets his comeuppance. Kelemvor, the new Lord of the Dead, and Jergal, Scribe of the Doomed, actively oppose Velsharoon as his predilection for black necromancy violates many of their most cherished tenets. Cyric and Velsharoon share a mutual enmity as both seek to acquire a larger portfolio at the expense of Kelemvor. Finally, though they are not yet numbered among his enemies, it is likely that Velsharoon will soon find himself opposed by the myriad powers of nature, by the Triad of law and good (Tyr, Torm, and Ilmater), and by Lathander, the Morninglord.
As a mortal, Velsharoon was a renegade Red Wizard of Thay who lived in the Tower Terrible in Soorenar as well as several other abodes. He aspired to the position of Zulkir of Necromancy, but was driven from that land centuries ago after feuding with his chief rival, Szass Tam, and several other powerful Red Wizards. Nearly as powerful as his archrival, Velsharoon spent many decades seeking enough power to destroy Tam and other wizards to challenged his evil machinations, including Halder of Delzimmer, Omm Hlandrar of Halruaa, the Simbul of Aglarond, and Elminster of Shadowdale.
In a very old ruin in the Plains of Purple Dust, southwest of the city of Zindalankh on the Sempharwater, Velsharoon discovered a process laid down long ago by Talos the Destroyer by which a great wizard can achieve demipowerhood. The Vaunted, as the archnecromancer was sometimes pilloried, managed to complete the ritual, which first turned him into a lich, and ascended into the ranks of Faerûn's pantheon with the Destroyer's sponsorship at the end of 1368 DR. (Some speculate that Ao allowed his ascension to provide a balance to the new Lord of the Death's dislike for the undead.)
Several sages believe that Velsharoon used a phylactery of Mellifleur (God of Lichdom) in his ascension ritual, and this tied him to Mellifleur's divine phylactery in Gehenna. As such, the two powers are currently tied to each other in Death's Embrace, neither able to destroy the other without also destroying themselves. Both powers appear to be researching methods to absorb or sever the other, keeping their plans secret from the other in hopes of gaining the upper hand.
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Velsharoon is a gaunt and skeletal humanoid, with withered flesh stretched tight across his horribly visible bones. Bright pinpoints of crimson light burn in the empty sockets where his eyes had been. He is wearing a dark, tattered wizard robe and is carrying a staff topped with a skull, with a glowing gem in each eye.
Deep in the dusty catacombs is a brooding stone mausoleums carved with ghastly depictions of the dead and the dying. Fetid air and the cloying reek of embalming fluid waft through the air. As you enter, you see several torches lining the walls, enough to provide small, but ample light in the room. You see an open area to the right with 6 tables, with bodies laying on each—all appear to be dead. To the left of the entrance is a storeroom crammed with alchemical supplies. At the back is a large archway that leads to a laboratory of some kind, with a stone table in the middle (large enough to hold a body). Wooden tables line the walls, all covered with tools, medical supplies and torture instruments.
Velsharoon's cleric is wearing a once-resplendent, but now rotting, charcoal wizard's robe. The robe is adorned with depictions of skulls and bones. He is carrying a wooden staff with a small skull resting at the top.