|Title(s)||Lord of the Dead
Judge of the Damned
Master of the Crystal Spire
|Home plane||2E: Crystal Spire (Gray Waste)
3E: Fugue Plane
|Portfolio||Death, the Dead|
Fair yet cold, Kelemvor is the god of Death and the Dead—the most recent deity to hold this position, following in the footsteps of Jergal, Myrkul and, briefly, Cyric. Unlike these other deities, whose rule as gods of the dead made the afterlife an uncertain and fearful thing, Kelemvor urges knowledge that death is a natural part of life and should not be feared as long as it is understood.
Kelemvor is a Lawful Neutral Greater Power. His symbol is an upright skeletal arm holding the golden scales of justice, his divine realm is the Fugue Plane, and his Third Edition D&D domains are Fate, Law, Protection, Repose, and Travel.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
Kelemvor's story as a mortal is described in the Avatar Trilogy, in the novels Shadowdale, Tantras, and Waterdeep. Kelemvor first appeared in a Dungeons & Dragons game supplement in 1989's Hall of Heroes. By the end of the original Avatar Trilogy, Kelemvor had been slain by Cyric.
The novel Prince of Lies (1993) reveals that Mask, disguised as the sword Godsbane, kept Kelemvor's soul to use in a plot, but the plot backfires and Kelemvor becomes a god as well, taking part of Cyric's portfolio. The story of Kelemvor's godhood is continued in the novel Crucible: The Trial of Cyric the Mad (1998).
His role in the cosmology of the Planescape campaign setting was described in On Hallowed Ground (1996). His worship in the Forgotten Realms is described in Faiths & Avatars (1996). His clergy was further detailed in Warriors and Priests of the Realms (1996), and Prayers from the Faithful (1997). His relationships with the nonhuman deities in the Forgotten Realms was covered in Demihuman Deities (1998).
Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition (2000-2007)
Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-)
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Kelemvor suffered from a form of lycanthropy that had been passed down through his paternal family. Kyle Lyonsbane, Kelemvor's grandfather, was a mercenary ruthless in extracting payment, and who had also left his sorceress companion on the battlefield to die so that he could plunder the enemy's stronghold. In her last breath, the sorceress bestowed a curse upon Kyle. Afterward, Kyle could never attempt to perform an act for any type of reward without turning into panther, and return to his human form only by taking a life. Under the curse, only unselfish and heroic acts were permitted. A mirrored form of the curse was passed on to Kyle's son, making him unable to perform any act without asking for a reward, or suffer the same metamorphosis.
Kelemvor Lyonsbane was the seventh descendant of Kyle. Because of the curse, Kelemvor had become a panther and mercilessly killed his own cruel father when trying to protect an innocent house maiden. After this, he left his household to become a mercenary, hoping to find a release from the curse.
During the Avatar Trilogy, Kelemvor encounters Midnight (Mystra to be) and Adon of Sune. During the Time of Troubles the curse is removed by the god of strife, Bane. Following this, they retrieve the Tablets of Fate that the gods needed to return to the planes. Cyric the Mad pursued them the whole way, and eventually with the help of the Great Archmages Khelben and Elminster, they succeeded in destroying the threats of Myrkul and Bane, and saved Waterdeep. However, Kelemvor was ambushed on the roof of the Blackstaff tower by Cyric, and was killed with the sword Godsbane, which trapped his soul within it.
Revolt against Cyric
As told in the novel Prince of Lies, sequel to the trilogy, after Cyric murdered Bhaal and ascended to godhood, the first thing he wanted to accomplish was to have Kelemvor's soul so that he could gain an advantage over the new Mystra, his most hated rival, and whose portfolio over Magic he coveted. However, for ten years, Cyric and his church were unable to find Kelemvor's soul, every divination and spell they tried yields nothing. Cyric suspected that there were traitors within his own church who fostered Kelemvor's soul. He later launched the Second Banedeath in 1368 DR, unleashing his Inquisition on Zhentil Keep, Yûlash, Darkhold, Teshwave, and the Citadel of the Raven to cleanse all Zhent holdings of non-Cyricist priests. Cyric also released Kezef the Chaos Hound from Pandemonium, and commanded it to trace Kelemvor's soul. Kezef ended up being trapped again by the God of Thieves.
The truth is, Kelemvor's soul was trapped in Cyric's sentient sword, Godsbane, in the moment he was killed in the Blackstaff Tower. The sword was actually Mask, the God of Thieves in guise, who planned to bring Cyric's downfall and gain Cyric's portfolio over lies. Mask used Kelemvor's soul to gain the cooperation of Mystra, all the while planning a revolt in the City of Death against Cyric. With the help of Mystra, Torm, Oghma, and Cyric's own high priest Fzoul Chembryl (whose loyalty lay with the dead Bane), great chaos was caused in two of Cyric's most important bases of faith: Zhentil Keep, and the City of Death. A great number of Cyric's follower lost their faith, thus greatly weakening Cyric himself. Without the will to control the City of Death, dead spirits were freed and roamed about the City. In addition, Cyric's nightmare was freed from Dendar the Night Serpent, and the dream found Cyric, causing him to think that Kelemvor had somehow returned to life and to seek revenge. At that moment, Cyric, though a Greater Power, lost his mind, crushed his sword, which freed Kelemvor, and made his nightmare come true. The two fought, a dead soul against a god. Cyric's fear, indecision, and madness had become his defeat, and Kelemvor finally managed to overthrow Cyric's rule in the City. By the wish of all dead spirits and Denizens in the Gray Wastes (some say by Ao's will also), in 1368 DR Kelemvor became the new God of Death.
To be the Lord of the Dead is to be the judgment of the departed souls. In the novel Crucible: The Trial of Cyric the Mad, being the new Lord Death, Kelemvor wished to clear all the corruptions in the Realms of Death brought by former Lords of Death. He reshaped the Bone Castle, infernal citadel in the Gray Wastes of Hades where Jergal, Myrkul, and Cyric used to dwell, into the glorious Crystal Spire, its translucency representing that no more should Death be a frightening mystery. While faithful souls would be claimed by their respective deities, faithless souls and those with a false faith that his/her god did not want, are judged before the God of Death. Former Gods of Death would decide whether they were the Faithless, or the False. Either way, in the hands of Myrkul or Cyric, these souls eventually ended up being eternally tortured.
Kelemvor, however, was more lenient on those Faithless and False who were virtuous and honorable in life, while the ones who were cowardly or capricious were severely punished. Those souls being judged as noble, would be sent to the then merrier and heaven-like parts in the City of Death, such as the Singing City, or Pax Cloister, while for thieves and cowards there were hell-like parts of the City such as Acid Swamps.
As a result, honorable and brave mortals no longer feared death, and recklessly threw their lives away, trusting in Kelemvor's judgement rather than worshipping other benevolent gods. The cowardly and crafty mortals became too fearful to do much, lest they die and find themselves before Kelemvor. This, in combination with Mystra's unjust granting of magic, favoring only those good, brought unintentional imbalance and robbed the other deities of potential worshipers. Being exposed by Cyric, Kelemvor and Mystra were accused by the Circle of Greater Gods of being guilty of Incompetence by Humanity.
Kelemvor wondered how he could judge the damned, when he himself failed in his own personal judgement. He gradually came to realize that there is nothing human in being a god. To correct his mistakes, great changes were undergone in his realm, as well as in himself. The City of the Dead was changed to a gray world, not truly light, not totally dark, simply dull gray. Gone was the good and evil in the City, only indifference and silence remained. The once diamond-like Crystal Spire was also smoked the color of topaz. Kelemvor also rid himself of all signs of humanity in order to properly fulfill his duties, which means replacing the warrior-like human he used to assume with a darkly robed figure, his raven black hair turned to silver, his eyes became pupiless, his armor tattered and black, and donned a silver death mask.
He then conducted the Reevaluation, where all souls in the City were to be judged according to new criteria, then be sentenced to new places in the City. Souls being judged will not find torture, but neither will they find joy. They will exist with souls ethically similar to themselves.
During the process, Adon (Kelemvor and Mystra's mutual friend, as well the patriarch of Mystra's church) was driven mad by Cyric's trick, losing his faith in Mystra, and had died a faithless soul. Mystra came to Kelemvor and asked for Adon's soul, which Kelemvor steadfastly refused since Adon was now one of the Faithless, or perhaps even the False. This, along with Kelemvor's loss of passion, eventually caused the breaking up of their relationship.
As mortals, Kelemvor and Mystra were lovers, but it is unlikely this is maintained now that they are both deities with responsibilities. Kelemvor's greatest enemy is Cyric, but he also fiercely opposes the machinations of Velsharoon, the necromancer god who animates the dead into undead and stands against everything Kelemvor works for, and Talona, for the unnatural deaths caused by her diseases. This also makes him an ally of Lathander the Morninglord, who also opposes undeath. Kelemvor maintains practical alliances with good- and neutral-aligned gods of death in other pantheons—Sehanine Moonbow, Osiris and Urogalan amongst. Kelemvor is served by the original deity of death, the mysterious Jergal, who keeps records of the final disposition of spirits of the deceased.
- Scott Ciencin (as Richard Awlinson), Shadowdale, TSR, Avatar Trilogy, Book 1, 1989
- Scott Ciencin (as Richard Awlinson), Tantras, TSR, Avatar Trilogy, Book 2, 1989
- Troy Denning (as Richard Awlinson), Waterdeep, TSR, Avatar Trilogy, Book 3, 1989
- Grubb, Jeff, Kate Novak, David E. Martin, Jim Lowder, Bruce Nesmith, Steve Perrin, Mike Pondsmith, and R. A. Salvatore. Hall of Heroes (TSR, 1989)
- James Lowder, Prince of Lies, TSR, production no.: 8539 / 964510000, 1993
- Troy Denning, Crucible: The Trial of Cyric the Mad, TSR, production no.: 8577 / 964520000, 1998
- McComb, Colin. On Hallowed Ground (TSR, 1996)
- Martin, Julia, and Eric L. Boyd. Faiths & Avatars (TSR, 1996)
- Terra, John. Warriors and Priests of the Realms (TSR, 1996)
- Greenwood, Ed and Stewart, Doug. Prayers from the Faithful (TSR, 1997)
- Boyd, Eric L. Demihuman Deities (TSR, 1998)
- Ed Greenwood et al. (2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. Wizard of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Boyd, Eric L, and Erik Mona. Faiths and Pantheons (Wizards of the Coast, 2002)
- Troy Denning, Crucible: The Trial of Cyric the Mad, TSR, production no.: 8577 / 964520000, 1998.