Garl Glittergold is the Watchful Protector of the Forgotten Folk and the leader of the gnome pantheon. He is said to have discovered the first gnomes while exploring a new cavern and then told them a joke before leading them into the world. All gnomes who embrace the communal life of the Forgotten Folk venerate the Joker, even if they also worship another deity. His name is invoked by gnomes involved in smithcraft (particularly those who work with gold) and gem cutting. Gnomes who wish to play a prank or tell a joke invoke his name, as do those who seek to protect and strengthen gnome communities.
Garl is a gentle and approachable power, one who values quick thinking and a clear head more than almost anything. He rarely stays in one location for very long. Though physical prowess and spiritual might are important, nothing is more crucial than keeping it all in perspective. Garl watches over cooperation among gnomes at all times; he may send omens, even an avatar, to resolve strife and serious disputes. Garl prefers trickery, illusion, and wiles to direct physical confrontation, although if forced to fight he is hardly weak. The leader of the gnome pantheon often steals evil weapons and magic intended for malefic ends from their owners and then disposes of them. The Joker is also a mischievous trickster, said to have the largest collection of jokes in the multiverse, and he has always got one appropriate to the situation. The Joker usually carries plenty of props for his illusions and practical jokes as he never knows when they might come in handy. There is another side to Garl than that of the witty adventurer who collapsed the kobold god's cavern. The Watchful Protector is ever alert to threats to the Forgotten Folk and watches directly over their affairs. If such threats cannot be forestalled, Garl will defend his people as needed and appropriate. Although his military prowess is almost always used defensively, when Garl's people are physically threatened, the god is a grim and determined war leader who out-thinks as well as out-fights his opponents.
The church of Garl is highly regarded throughout gnome society for its role in bringing the community together, and the Joker's priests often serve as both the spiritual and temporal leaders of their communities. In the conscious emulation of the overlapping interests of the god and the other members of the pantheon, the church of Garl works closely with most other gnome churches, engendering a great deal of good will.
A significant minority of the church clergy seeks to emulate the adventures of Garl, and it is this subgroup that is primarily visible to members of other races. As such, the other human and demihuman races commonly regard the Joker's faithful as a loosely organized, ebullient, and friendly bunch, forever getting involved in shenanigans of one sort or the other and inveterate practical jokers. The mischievous exploits of both god and clergy are told and retold around the hearths of gnomes throughout the Realms.
Garl's clerics serve their communities as artisans, educators, entertainers, mediators, and protectors. Even those who wander in search of adventure serve this function, for their exploits are incorporated into the oral tradition of the Forgotten Folk and related for generations thereafter. In their teaching of the young, members of the Joker's clergy combine a very earthy practicality with a streak of humor that keeps their young charges entertained and their learning all the better for that. Many also work as smiths (particularly goldsmiths), miners, gem cutters, and they are expected to contribute to the best of their ability, regardless of their seniority. The clergy maintains a careful vigilance toward hostile races, especially kobolds, and watches over the collective strength of the Forgotten Folk. Finally, the priesthood maintains a good archive of jokes, jests, and tales, and priests are expected to be entertain audiences through a combination of all three. Many clerics multiclass as rogues or illusionists.
VestmentsThe ceremonial garb of Garl's priests includes a gold-plated war helm, a golden belt, and if possible, a suit of gold-plated chain mail or plate mail. The holy symbol of the faith is a brightly colored gold nugget worth at least 10gp.
Garl's clergy employ a wide variety of weapons, including battle axes, crossbows, darts, flails, hand axes, maces, short bows, short swords, slings, spears, picks, and war hammers. Although those who wish to exercise their rogue or illusionist skills often prefer lighter armor or none whatsoever, most priests of the Joker favor the heaviest defensive mail available.
TemplesTemples of the Joker are typically located in worked caves just below the surface at the heart of gnome communities. The central sanctuary is usually circular with a domed ceiling divided into four quadrants by great soaring arches. Each arch is carved with depictions of gnomes from all walks of life engaged in all of life's activities, a recurring theme in the church of Garl suggesting the contribution of each individual member of the community to the collective prosperity. The walls and ceilings of such temples are typically plated with gold leaf or studded with brightly polished gold nuggets that gleam in the light of flickering torches. Concentric circles of stone pews, split into four quadrants by narrow aisles that run beneath the arches, face inward to the central, slightly raised dais. The church of Garl encourages the use of the Joker's temples for more than just worship services, for this advances the interests of the god. Entertainers of all types, particularly joke tellers and illusionists, hold many concerts and shows in the round that are open to all members of the community.
HierarchyNovices of Garl are known as the Uncut. Full priests of the Joker are known as Jewels. In ascending order of rank, the titles used by Garlian priests are Amethyst, Topaz, Opal, Jacinth, Diamond, Emerald, Ruby, and Sapphire. High-ranking priests have unique individual titles, but high female priests are known collectively as Star Rubies whereas high male priests are known as Star Sapphires, although neither gender-based group is considered senior to the other. Specialty priests are known as Glitterbrights.
RitualsClerics of Garl pray for their spells early in the morning, shortly after the sun rises. The church of Garl holds monthly worship services on the 13th day of each month, known as the Communion of Laughter, the Forgotten Folk venerate the head of the gnome pantheon through a variety of activities that last the entire day. Although the order varies from temple to temple, the Joker's rituals include a period of prayer and quiet contemplation, dancing atop the central dais, the sharing of communal meals, storytelling to the accompaniment of visual displays of magic, and joke telling contests that last late into the night. Individuals are expected to offer a bit of gold (or other precious metals, if gold is not available) to the god, even if it is just a handful of gold dust. The moneys so collected are used by the temple for the collective benefit of the community.
OrdersThe Companions of Arumdina are a military order of Garlian fighters, clerics, fighter/clerics, and specialty priests with strong links to the church of Gaerdal Ironhand. Dedicated to the defense of gnome communities across the land, members of this order are unusually stern by the standards of the church. Justifiers, as members of this order are sometimes known, are skilled in defensive military tactics, particularly in the rolling hills and deep forests where most gnome communities may be found. Individual members often double as marshals, although their duties in this regard are usually light given the general law-abiding character of gnome society. Members of this order are commonly called in to combat ankhegs, bulettes, and other burrowing monsters that pose a threat to gnome settlements and they specialize in tactics to combat such beasts.
The Glittering Jesters are a loosely affiliated band of individuals who seek to relate and/or imitate their god's most outrageous exploits. Many travel from community to community, acting as performers and pranksters to the delight of common folk at the expense of the pretentious and highbrow. An elite minority of Jesters become adventurers in the hopes that their exploits will make their way into the oral tradition of the Forgotten Folk, to be told and retold for generations thereafter. Participation in events worthy of relating as a tale is considered to be an offering to the god. In the gnome oral tradition, the better the tale, the more likely it is to be attributed to a great, legendary hero of the gnomes or even to one of the gnome gods themselves. To the members of this group there can be no greater measure of their deeds than to have a tale relating their actions eventually attributed to Garl himself. It is the quality of the tale a deed inspires, not the accuracy of the tale or even the deed itself, by which their offerings are judged.
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While life may sometimes be hard, it is important to keep a sense of humor and always welcome opportunities for laughter and delight. Communities are forged through the cooperation and communal spirit of a group of individuals who work and play together. The strength of a community is the cooperation that binds individuals into more than the sum of their contributions. A great prank can lighten hard times and make good ones shine. Never take yourself too seriously, lest you lose touch with those you protect and care for. Do not fear change or the unorthodox - therein lies the future. Above all, do what works.
Garl is depicted as a handsome, golden-skinned gnome with sparkling gemstones for eyes. He wears a flowing silk cloak and usually a substantial amount of gold decoration.
Garl Glittergold leads the gnomish pantheon. He is on good terms with Aasterinian and Pelor and allied with Yondalla, Corellon Larethian, and Moradin. He is also allied with Brandobaris, Clangeddin Silverbeard, Cyrrollalee, Dumathoin, Erevan Ilesere, Grumbar, Vergadain, and all of the gnomish pantheon except for Urdlen and Gelf.
Garl is the arch enemy of kobolds and their patron deity Kurtulmak. His other enemies include Urdlen, Gelf, Gruumsh and the other orc, and goblin gods.
It is rumored that Garl has a twin brother (and nemesis), Gelf Darkhearth, his rival for the hand of the goddess Sheyanna Flaxenstrand.