The continents of the Forgotten Realms are perhaps the most popular, and most frequently used of the official settings for Dungeons and Dragons. It also has the greatest number of pantheons, gods, and divine beings. Each race has their own collection, plus the various primordial and overarching gods of the world, and any exalts and demigods connected with those.
In fact, there’s so many that it can be hard to keep track of them all. But if you’re looking for a few to spice up your current campaign, or for your religious character to follow, here are a few of my favorites!
Ao, the Overgod
Ao, unlike most of the gods of Faerun, does not technically have a domain. Instead, he’s the overseer of the other gods of the realm. He ensures that all other gods of the sphere (all of the planes, planets, and dimensions within the Forgotten Realms) fulfill the obligations of their dominion.
If a god of the forest, for instance, decided that they no longer wished to protect the forest, and started destroying them, it would be under his purview to punish them. And harshly, too. Many of the major historical events of the gods are his doing, such as Tearfall, the Time of Troubles, and the Second Sundering.
Ao doesn’t grant magic or power to his followers. In fact, he doesn’t care about mortals whatsoever. But there are a couple of scholarly cults who worship him. When he does appear, he takes the form of a completely unremarkable man (neither young nor old, ugly nor beautiful, intimidating nor comforting) wearing a long robe of stars and planets.
Ghaunadaur, God of Aberrations
If there is any god older than Ao, it’s Ghaunadaur. His domain includes slimes, outcasts, rebels, and various horrific abominations. His temples are foul, stench-filled grottos, home to humanoid sacrifice and malicious backstabbing. He revels in watching the hunt of abominations, and rewards even false followers, who claim him for their own self-promotion. He is the god most closely related to the Far Realm (an outer realm of pure chaos, which tends to incur upon all other realms).
He was once a part of the drow pantheon but left after the War of the Spider Queen. In a fit of madness for Lolth snubbing his advances, he took the intellect of most of his followers, which decimated his own power.
When he does appear, he takes the form of either a red slug, an ooze emerging from the darkness, or a giant roper.
Hlas/Aasterinian, Dragon Goddess of Humor
Hlal, whose domain includes humor, inventiveness, pleasure, and wit, is a minor draconic goddess. She often acts a messenger for greater gods and plays a role in the mythologies of various pantheons. She has good relationships with the mischief-makers of all racial pantheons and is exceedingly friendly to non-draconic worshippers as well. In the outer realms, among most mortals, she is sometimes known as Aasterinian.
Bards, actors, and inventors are common worshippers of Hlal, who worship her with small shrines which decorate the roadside. They encourage free-thinking, innovation, and creativity of al kinds. Brass, copper, and faerie dragons are her most common devotees among the scaled-and-winged kind.
When she appears, she usually does so in the form of one of her draconic followers. But she is known to take any form which helps her complete her mischief or advance her search for knowledge.
Baghtru, Orc God of Strength
Baghtru, the patron god of the common orc, and granter of great physical strength, is known for two things. One, being immensely strong, as befits a god of his domain. And two, being unbelievably stupid. As the son of Gruumsh, he is known to be unfailingly loyal to the supreme god of the orcs, which usually contains the extent of his stupidity’s ramification.
Worshippers of Baghtru are plentiful among the orcs, although rare among other races. And those who do worship him know that they also give loyalty to Gruumsh by doing so. His clerics often take up the most dangerous and vulnerable posts around camp and are valued protectors of elders. Their worship often requires that they go without armor or shield, however, since such protections are considered to be ‘for the weak’.
Baghtru takes the form of a giant, heavily muscled orc, with tan skin, green eyes, and white tusks. He sometimes grants omens to his followers, which are preceded by “Baghtru’s pat” – a splitting headache.
Najm, Deity of Adventurers
The Zakharan pantheon is a little different than most in Faerun. While the Zakharan continent once had as many and varied gods as any other in the Forgotten Realms, they were eventually replaced by the Eight Great Gods – each of which represents a virtue that should be followed to real enlightenment. Najm, who is described as both a god and a goddess, presides over curiosity and adventure.
The Zakharan gods are not concerned with alignment or domain. Their followers must merely strive to embody the characteristic that they preside over. In the case of Najm, followers travel, learn, and try. This can result in both great goods and great evils.
The Zakharan pantheon do not have canonical appearances, but their description as both male and female in form suggest a humanoid appearance of some kind.
There are dozens more deities in the Forgotten Realms’ catalogue. Do you have a favorite? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!