Helm is the epitome of the watcher, the guard, the guardian, and has in years past been greatly venerated by those who need to remain watchful for evil at their doorsteps. He has long been seen as a cold and focused deity who impartially took the role of defender and sometimes also enforcer.
Helm is difficult to understand and is often viewed as emotionless, heartless, and devoted only to his duty or goal at the cost of all mortal consideration. While he is devoted to the point of obsession, he is not heartless, but merely a stern disciplinarian. He is fond of children and has been known to be most uncharacteristically lenient (for Helm) when dealing with small infractions by them or on their behalf.
Prior to the Time of Troubles, Helmites were long respected and revered for their dedication and purpose, especially in the frontiers of the North. Its large temple complexes were usually situated near dangerous and evil areas (such as Darkhold) and were regarded as a first line of defense against evil people and creatures. Wracked by defections in the wake of the Time of Troubles, active persecution in the North by those angry that Helm forced the destructive divine avatars to remain in Faerun, and military and popularity losses related to the invasion of the True World (Maztica), the Vigilant or Watchful Ones (priests of Helm) have been in decline. They have only recently begun to recover popular favor and influence, strength, and organization under the unflinching, no-excuses leadership of the veteran priests of Helm from before the Time of Troubles known as the Tested and True
. Most of these folk are people of inflexible beliefs and loyalty. They believe that Helm is the most favored of all the powers, for he was chosen to retain his powers to discipline the others.
Helmite clergy believe they can win back the rightful power of Helm only through demonstrated excellence of vigilance and purity of loyalty in their roles as guardians and protectors. They have set about trying to train bodyguards everywhere and spreading the word that only Helm-tested worshipers of the God of Guardians are truly worthy and reliable to their masters.
Priests of Helm wear spotless, shining, (often everbright-enchanted), unblemished full plate armor with open-faced helms (a visor reduces vision). Helms are often topped with plumes. Such armor may be accessorized with red cloaks and tabards of steel gray, and such garments—or the armor itself—may be adorned with the Unsleeping Eye in the center of both back and breast. In southern regions, Helmite clergy members often wear the finest full plate armor set with gems and worked with gold filigree in designs that accentuate great golden eyes set in the centers of their chests (on the breastplates) and hacks. In areas where heavily armored clerics are frowned on, the armor is reduced to a set of heavy shoulder plates, but the helm remains in any case.
Because of the useful nature of the ceremonial gear of the priests of Helm, it is worn in the field as well as for ceremonial purposes, unless it is decorated with such costly materials that the priest fears it will attract thieves, in which case a more utilitarian version of the same full plate armor is worn. In either case, the armor is dominated by i he symbol of Helm's eye on the chest, often shown in a sunburst or as the topmost level of a stepped pyramid.
Their hierarchy was strict and militaristic, usually with a single pontiff as head of the church—the Supreme Watcher
. However, there has not been someone in that post since 992 DR. All know their position by their rank within the church of Helm, and Helm himself sets the goals for his high priests and priestesses, determining what temples, abbeys, and shrines are to cooperate with each other in which ongoing efforts.
Titles used by the clergy of Helm are (in ascending order of ranks: Novice
have been adopted only since the Time of Troubles, and members of the Tested and True
(specialty priests, derisively known as "Godseyes") have been allowed to retain any older, personal, or variant titles. Clergy who lead or occupy an important office in a temple, abbey, or monastery may also bear additional titles pertaining to their duties.
Temples of Helm are always imposing edifices built solely for defense. Many are fortified abbeys located near dangerous and evil areas, where they form a line of defense against the encroachment of powerful enemies. Major cities usually have a temple or shrine to Helm, for his clerics make excellent guards or leaders of guards. Wherever they are located, Helm's faithful watch their houses of worship with unceasing vigilance. Frequent guards are spectators, a race of smaller beholderkin, which infuriates the church of Bane and its allied beholders. At the heart of the endless barracks, armories, and training chapels is the central altar, which is always a massive suit of full plate mail. All such suits of armor are holy relics of the faith, having once been worn by one of Helm's most esteemed champions. All who seek sanctuary are welcome within a temple of Helm, but if they are accused of a crime, they must willingly submit to the local laws of the land and its justice, if lawfully executed. Despite its risks, many accept this condition, for Helm's followers always ensure that the accused receives a fair trial.
On a daily basis, worshipers of Helm should always pray to the Vigilant One upon awakening and before composing themselves for slumber. A faithful worshiper who poses a question to the god typically receives some sort of (often cryptic) guidance in dream visions. Helm may also grace a nonbeliever who is growing interested in his faith with such visions.
The Helmite faith always holds a Ceremony of Honor
to Helm on each Shieldmeet, but its members observe no other calendar-related rituals to the God of Guardians.
The most holy major Helmite ceremonies are the Consecration of a Postulant
, which confirms a seeker as one of the clergy, and the Consecration of a Glymtul
, which dedicates an special item to Helm's service (glymtal is an ancient word for "favored thing"). Other ceremonies of note are the Purification and the Holy Vigil
. The Purification is a renewal of faith undergone by beings returning to the faith or atoning for a shortcoming in vigilance, loyalty, or worship. The Holy Vigil
marks the ascension of a cleric to a higher rank. It is a nightlong ceremony that tests the willpower of the candidate, whose weapon is enspelled to levitate by a senior cleric through ritual magic, the candidate's concentration keeps it hovering.
Rite of Excommunication
Upon failure to complete a task, or upon evidence of cowardice or failure to follow Helm's precepts, the highest ranking disciple of Helm available would excommunicate the offender with these words:
"You have been tried by fair authority and found wanting. You have betrayed your trust. When the time came to watch, you were blind. When the time came to stand, you were kneeling. When the time came to protect the poor, injured, and young, you sacrificed them. You fled in craven cowardice. You fought in ignorance and pride. Your weapons were dulled when the challenge came, and the blood spilled is on your head. Your name was called, and you did not answer. You are not pure. You are not loyal. You are no protector. You are dead to the children of Helm. Now go and die to all others."
- Companions of the One True Vision - Known for being loyal shock troops and defenders against overwhelming odds, this order fell into some disgrace after events in the Maztican campaign.
- Watchers over the Fallen - A small fellowship of battlefield healers.
- Everwatch Knights - This group of dedicated bodyguards was hired out by Helmite temples to generate revenue for the church.
- Vigilant Eyes of the God - One of the Helmite orders of paladins.
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Never betray your trust. Be vigilant. Stand, wait,and watch carefully. Be fair and diligent in the conduct of your orders. Protect the weak, poor, injured, and young, and do not sacrifice them for others or yourself. Anticipate attacks and be ready. Know your foes. Care for your weapons so they may perform their duties when called upon. Careful planning always defeats rushed actions in the end. Always obey orders, providing those orders follow the dictates of Helm. Demonstrate excellence and purity of loyalty in your role as a guardian and protector.
A very old deity, Helm was the eternal sentry and was always seen wearing a full suit of armor that represented the weight of his heavy responsibility.
Far back in time, the deity Lathander caused a divine purge known as the Dawn Cataclysm in which Helm's lover, a lesser deity of pragmatism called Murdane, was a victim. Helm begrudged the Morninglord for this. However, Helm reserved his real opposition for deities whose plots threatened the people and stability of Faerûn, especially Bane, Cyric, Mask, and Shar. He was also especially at odds with the uncontrolled violence and careless destruction of the deities Garagos, Malar, and Talos.
The only god who could have been considered a full ally of the Watcher was Torm, the god of paladins. Strongly held ideological differences caused a great rivalry verging on hatred between the clergy of the two gods, but the deities themselves remained close.
The Time of Troubles
During the Time of Troubles in 1358 DR, when the gods walked Toril, it was reliable Helm whom Lord Ao trusted with the task of keeping the other deities from returning to their divine realms in the planes without returning the stolen Tablets of Fate. For this task, Ao left Helm with all his divine abilities, guarding the Celestial Stairway to the planes.
On Midsummer, when the goddess Mystra—who had spirited away a portion of her divine power in the realms, which she then recovered once the gods were cast from the heavens—attempted to pass him without the Tablets, she was turned back by the Watcher, and when she forcibly tried to pass the Watcher, he destroyed her with a catastrophic explosion in the skies above Castle Kilgrave, north of Arabel. Following Mystra's death, Helm shed a single tear that fell to Toril, but stopped before hitting ground. Hovering over the crater of destruction left below, the teardrop appeared as a magnificent gemstone, filled with the torment and guilt that Helm felt inside.
This action had enormous repercussions for Helm. Whilst it put off any of the other earthbound deities attempting the same action, it also caused the other deities and mortals alike to hold Helm in great contempt. Surprisingly, however, Helm's following remained strong in the south.
After the Time of Troubles ended and other gods were restored to their former existences, Helm himself was no longer bound to stand guard against them and much of his worship had faltered. The reputation of his clergy was made worse when the natives of recently discovered Maztica, whom the priests of Helm were subjugating in their conquest of the region, highlighted their cause.
In 1384 DR, while conveying messages from Tyr to Tymora during the pair's courtship, a strange and fateful misunderstanding resulted in the accusation that Helm had stolen Tymora's heart. Helm was subsequently slain in a duel by Tyr. Cyric was suspected to have had a hand in these events.
The Heresy of the Threefold God, a belief held by the Eye of Justice maintained that Helm wasn't truly destroyed by Tyr, but rather had his divine essence merged into Tyr's upon his death.
After the Second Sundering, Helm returned to the Realms. While the faith of Helm endured dark times during the century that he was dead, or at the very least incorporated into Tyr's essence, his worship never truly disappeared across the realms of Faerûn. Since his return, his faith steadily rebounded across Faerûn.
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