God of Storms, God of Strength, Lord of Thunder, Lord of the Fist, Patron God of Athletes, the Storm Fury, the Iron Bull
Overview: Kord is an unusual god in many ways. He is considered the most headstrong god in the pantheon, and certainly the most mercurial. He pursues his passions first and ponders the consequences later (if ever). The brother-god to Bane, Kord encapsulates a number of beliefs similar to his sibling, but with emphasis on competition and earning glory rather than conquest and war for its own sake. (Kord and Bane shared another brother, Tuern, murdered by Bane in the distant past.)
Many people call upon Kord or pray to him. His name is often foremost on the lips of athletes, gladiators, and warriors of all kinds. They seek his favor, his blessings, and an opportunity to earn some glory. They also offer thanks to the God of Strength for their successes and natural talents.
At the same time, many people pray to Kord in hopes of appeasing the God of Storms. Sailors, pilgrims, merchants, farmers, and adventurers all ask for protection from storms. They seek to appease the god’s turbulent anger; when Kord rages, the skies seethe with thunder, lightning, and powerful winds. Much like the storm, once it ends, Kord’s temper disappears with shocking suddenness, and all is right once more.
Although a formal church dedicated to Kord exists throughout Stormfell, it is widely divergent, unorganized, with little interaction or communication between one church and the next. There exists no controlling hierarchy or “father church” for Kord’s clergy. Each temple is independent, operated by one or more priests and a number of acolytes. Not surprisingly, no two Kord temples are the same; they offer different religious services, they observe different rituals, and they emphasize different aspects of Kord’s beliefs.
The clerics of Kord’s faith are widely respected by common people. They often admire his clerics for their strength, athleticism, and competitive spirit. His clerics tend to be outgoing, enthusiastic, and personable. At the same time, clerics of other religions have little respect for Kord’s followers. They look at Kord’s clerics as pretenders or amateurs. In their view, Kord’s “religion” is nothing more than a collection of athletes and old warriors with no clerical training, no perceivable liturgical trappings, and no formal structure.
For their part, clerics of Kord care nothing for the opinions of other religions. If other priests wish to hurl insults, so be it. These clerics are often surprised, however, to learn that Kord clerics enjoy challenges and honor duels (usually to first blood). Many followers of Pelor, Bahamut, and Bane have made the mistake of offending a Kord cleric, only to wind up unconscious with a bleeding nose, black eye, and fat lip. This is not to say Kord clerics attack every insolent fool, but they enjoy providing free object lessons to those in need of learning.
Although Kord’s faith enjoys a measure of respect from people, there is a darker side to his religion and his worship. In Kord’s eyes, competition is the only true way to separate the wheat from the chaff, and competition can sometimes become brutal or harsh. Kord encourages the competitive spirit, but he also encourages the passions that can come with ambition. After all, if you cannot summon enough emotion for a contest, you don’t really deserve to win. The focus on competition extends to all avenues of life, not just sporting events or games.
Competition is a fact of life in nature and amongst all living creatures. In nature, animals compete to survive. When resources become scarce, individuals must compete to meet their needs and fulfill their goals. With any clash, there must be a winner and a loser. Kord cares nothing for the loser; such an individual’s only hope of reclaiming his honor is to offer up another challenge and this time score victory.
It is also worthwhile to remember that one aspect of Kord ties directly into the ferocity and savagery of the storm. He can be fickle and moody, just like a storm.
Spheres of Influence: Strength, athletics, competition, thunder, storms, battlefield prowess
Avatar: Kord’s avatar appears in the mortal world more often than that of any other god, and as a result he is well recognized. Although Kord observes the conditions of the Covenant, he frequently “forgets” or overlooks the rules, much to the fury of his brother, Bane. Because Kord has no agenda, schemes, or secret plots, however, the other gods don’t seem too concerned about the God of Strength’s frequent indiscretions.
Kord’s aspect usually appears in the midst of a large or important athletic competition, although sometimes he appears just before an epic battle. When he appears, he inevitably is male with impressive muscles rippling across his arms, chest, and legs. He is bald with a weather-beaten and scarred face, although he most often seems to be laughing, smiling, or cracking jokes.
Despite his love of competition and contests of athletic prowess, Kord also understands fairness and honor. When his aspect appears in physical form, he never issues challenges, knowing full well that few mortals could hope to beat him – such a competition would be neither fair nor interesting for either participant. On the other hand, if someone challenges Kord, he will accept. He also eagerly accepts limitations and restrictions to the contest, especially if this gives him more opportunities to compete. He might, for example, enter a fistfight while blindfolded, or enter a wrestling bout with one hand tied behind his back. Interestingly enough, Kord’s avatar has lost matches on occasion. When he loses, he inevitably handsomely rewards the victor and celebrates the match.
Signs & Portents: Storms of every type and size are considered signs of Kord’s wrath or displeasure. If you are on a vessel at sea or traveling into the face of an oncoming storm, your best hope is to pray to Kord for mercy and a small measure of protection.
Kord also offers signs of his blessings through sudden bursts of strength or speed, especially at times of great need or when victory is just in sight. On the field of battle, warriors speak of “Kord’s gift” in the form of a rush of renewed energy even after hours of combat. In almost every story, the individual receiving the blessing describes a sense of euphoria and invincibility that is unequalled. Those blessed with Kord’s gift are able to fight through agonizing pain, ignore grievous wounds, overcome tremendous obstacles, and defeat younger or stronger foes.
Individuals who choose to cheat or compete dishonorably, on the other hand, have sometimes experienced Kord’s curse. His curse manifests as sudden bouts of nausea, fatigue, or dizziness. The person’s muscles cramp up and he feels unable to continue.
Tenets of the Faith: Be strong, but do not use your strength for wanton destruction. Strength (and other forms of athletic prowess) is considered an indicator of worth in Kord’s eyes. He encourages his followers to pursue physical perfection in one or more forms, whether involving warfare or athleticism. Kord teaches the value of building strength and vitality at all life stages.
At the same time, strength is a gift that should be used for honorable purposes. Just because you are strong or powerful does not give you any rights or privileges. If you waste your strength on pointless violence, needless cruelty, or in dishonorable ways, you have squandered the gift and are unworthy. Kord has no problem with violence or conflict; these concepts stand at the foundation of his beliefs. Kord does, however, refute the use of violence for its own sake, or using it against those of lesser talent and skill. Besting a weakling or beating a helpless victim is unworthy of true competitors.
Be brave and scorn cowardice in any form. Defeat, although unpleasant, teaches many lessons – perhaps more than victory teaches. How you face defeat is more important than how you face success. If you surrender, flee, or give up in the face of obstacles, you have failed far worse than simple defeat. In Kord’s eyes, courage is another kind of strength, a form of strength worthy of recognition and respect. Cowardice, regardless of its form, deserves nothing but scorn.
Prove your might in battle to win glory and renown. Although the term “battle” often refers to actual combat, it also refers to any form of competition – a sporting event, surviving in the wilderness, or even raising a crop. A challenge (a physical challenge, that is) represents the purest way to demonstrate your abilities and skill. You should seek out physical challenge and take every opportunity to prove yourself. Once you find success, take joy in it and allow others to take note, so that they may follow your good example.
Holy Symbol: A broadsword gripped in a fist, with a lightning hilt
Place of Worship: Kord has a number of temples as part of his religion, but most “true” ceremonies take place on the field of honor – a battlefield, site of an impending duel, or an athletic arena. Kord favors devotion in the outdoors most of all. As a rule, Kord temples are fairly small and nondescript, used only when foul weather or other circumstances demand.
Canon: The Manual of Puissant Strength. Although some priests of other faiths debate whether Kord can even read or write, Kord’s worshippers adhere to the teachings of The Manual, a slim book filled with training methods, advice, and techniques for gaining strength, speed, and ability. Many groups, not just followers of Kord, consider it a useful tool.
Cleric’s Alignment: Any
Duties of the Priesthood: Priests of Kord are dedicated to keeping themselves fit and healthy. Just as important, they teach others how to fight, compete, and win. They spread Kord’s teachings regarding the value of athleticism, strength, and seeking glory. Many Kord clerics serve in the military, training soldiers, especially in the art of unarmed combat. Other priests spend their lives overseeing athletic competitions and contests, traveling from community to community.
Limitations & Sacrifices: Clerics of Kord are taught to avoid excess in all things, especially food and drink. Alcoholic spirits are forbidden except on holy days, as they interfere with one’s abilities.
Kord’s clerics must devote a considerable portion of their time and efforts to their physical well-being, not to mention the well-being of their friends and associates.
Whenever possible, clerics of Kord must seek out ways to compete with other people and to prove their worth. With Kord’s followers, there is no such thing as resting on one’s laurels; competition is a constant, and all mortals must strive to prove their value each and every day. At times, this competitive spirit can make cooperation with a Kord priest difficult or downright impossible; his clerics have a reputation for being among the most stubborn and hardheaded of any faith.
Role-playing a cleric of Kord offers some unusual opportunities. Such a cleric is definitely different from the standard stereotype. He is going to be competitive, athletic, active, and have little time for or interest in book-learning or the trappings involved with religion.
The Good. A cleric of Kord can be a lot of fun, especially if played a little “over the top.” In a number of ways, his clerics are the epitome of zeal in the physical realm, and everything they say and do is colored by their pursuit of physical perfection. Not surprisingly, clerics of Kord hold little respect for bookish priests, frail wizards, or pale thieves. Although they understand the value of intelligence and cunning, they view it as secondary to soundness and strength of body.
The Bad. As important as physicality is to a Kord cleric, do not go too far overboard with the notion. You don’t want to be remembered as the “gym teacher” of clericdom, and it can be all too easy to veer straight into the realm of ridiculous if you carry the idea too far.
Keep in Mind. Consider taking the Skill Training or the Skill Focus feat for Athletics or Acrobatics, and making that skill one of your character’s highest and most important. Try and use your skill whenever possible, and find new ways to put it to use, even if an easier way might exist.