Ruins of Adventure
Minister of Ao
- Races: Any
- Sub-Classes: No Priests, Paladins, or Rangers
- Ability Requirements: none
- Alignments: Any
- Starting Cash: By class
- Weapon Slots: By class
- Bonus Weapon Proficiencies: none
- Required Weapon Proficiencies: none
- Allowed Weapons: By class
- Allowed Armors: By class
- Non-weapon Slots: By class
- Available Categories: By class, plus Spiritual
- Bonus Non-weapon Proficiencies: Debate, Philosophy, Sacred Legends
- Required Proficiencies: Religion
- Recommended Proficiencies: Ancient History, Astrology, Begging, Ceremony, Chanting, Chicanery, City Familiarity, Etiquette, Literacy, Local History, Modern Languages, Oratory, Prestidigitation, Recharge, Storytelling, Teaching, Zeal.
- Forbidden Proficiencies: Arcane Order, Prayer, Woodsongs.
Overview: Before the Time of Troubles, the question of who the gods answered to was a philosophical conundrum better suited to sages than priests. During the coming of the Avatars, however, it was revealed that the powers themselves had a deity—or at least, a more powerful power who had the ability to chasten them. This entity is Ao. While the inhabitants of the Realms are aware of Ao’s existence, there is little reason to call on him or seek his words of wisdom, which would be unforthcoming in any case. Ao regards the powers of the Realms as his creation and has little concern for the affairs of mortals. He requires no worshipers, grants no spells or powers to mortals, and it is doubtful that he even listens to mortal prayers or pleas.
Immediately following the Time of Troubles, cults grew up that worshiped Ao directly. Most of these cults appeared suddenly and evaporated just as quickly when it became clear that Ao does not answer prayers, offer protection, or grant spells to his “faithful priests”. Direct worship of Ao has largely subsided, save for a cult in Waterdeep and a smaller one in Tethyr. The group in Waterdeep tends to behave more like a debating society than a church, and its members act in accordance to the tenets they believe Ao espoused, seeking to maintain balance among the various deities and their faiths.
“Priests” of the cult of Ao are known as Ministers. They receive no spells or special powers from their god, save those that they devise themselves or through the clever use of magic items.
Description: The ceremonial garb of the Ministers of Ao is black trousers and shirt over which is worn a long, flowing robe of black with either white spots or jeweled spangles. Ao has no holy symbol.
Ministers of Ao wear whatever is currently in fashion, appropriate for the weather, or suited to their profession when they are not holding services.
Role-Playing: Most of the activities of the cult of Ao center around debating the meaning of Ao’s nature, what he said during his sole appearance during the Time of Troubles, and whether he serves another over-over-power himself.
Most of the discussions of the Waterdhavian cult of Ao are partially or totally phrased as questions. These include: Ao is the over-power, but what does that mean, really? Does Ao worship someone? What would that being’s function be? If Ao did not create the Realms, only the powers of the Realms, then who did—if anyone?
Some cults of Ao are more activist and feel that it is their responsibility to ensure that all faiths in the Realms actively support the assigned portfolios of their deities.
- While Ao does not offer any direct protection to his worshipers, the stubbornness of a Minister’s faith in a being greater than gods does protect him from some divine actions. As a result, Ministers of Ao have limited magic resistance that applies only to spells cast by priests. Whenever such a spell is cast at a Minister, there is a percentage chance equal to twice his experience level that it will fail. This functions just like other magic resistance, but cannot be voluntarily suppressed by the Minister (he can’t just stop believing that the gods are not as powerful as they claim), and thus applies to beneficial spells as well.
- Because Ao does not grant spells to his faithful, the Ministers of Ao have been forced to find creative means to care for their flocks. All Ministers of Ao, regardless of class, can use any magic item that would normally be restricted to priests, including scrolls.
- The established faiths of the Realms do not see any reason to speak out against or act against the cult of Ao, because they do not see it as any kind of threat—the high priests of all faiths have been informed that Ao has nothing to do with mortals. As such, Ministers are given remarkable freedom to move about and espouse their teachings—even the most violent inquisitors and oppressive theocracies will generally ignore Ministers so long as they do not pose an immediate physical threat.
- Since they cannot perform miracles, the Ministers of Ao must be very persuasive in order to attract worshipers to their cults. Ministers of Ao gain a +1 bonus on all Leadership-based non-weapon proficiencies and can attract double the normal number of henchmen (as determined by their Leadership score).
- Ministers of Ao are often written off as mad men due to their insistence on worshiping a being who will not answer their prayers. Unfortunately, this is somewhat true. Even the most stable of Ministers is, at the least, a social misfit drawn to strange religions, willing to proclaim their unorthodox beliefs on the street-corners, and constantly searching for some sign that their god is not as impassive as he seems. Ministers of Ao suffer a -2 penalty on saving throws against illusions, phantasms, and confusion spells and effects.
- While the churches consider them harmless, most common people in the Realms have trouble taking the Ministers of Ao seriously. Ministers of Ao always roll NPC reactions against the “Indifferent” column, even when dealing with their most devout cultists, most trusted friends, or most enduring enemies.
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