Mystra (Forgotten Realms)

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Mystra
Game background
Title(s) The Lady of Mysteries
the Mother of All Magic
Home plane 2E: Dweomerheart (Elysium)
3E: Dweomerheart
Power level Greater
Alignment Neutral Good
Portfolio Magic, spells, the Weave
Superior Lord Ao
Design details

Mystra (/ˈmɪstrə/ MISS-trə)[1] is a fictional goddess in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game.

She is the Mistress of Magic and Mother of Mysteries who guides the Weave of magic that envelops the world. She tends to the weave constantly, making possible all the miracles and mysteries wrought by magic and users of magic. She is believed to be the embodiment of the Weave and of magic herself, her veins the ley lines, her breath the mists and her body the pulsing, thrumming earth.

She is a Neutral Good (previously, and still also, Lawful Neutral) Greater Power. Since the ascension of Midnight, her symbol is a ring of eight stars surrounding a red mist, which flows from the center to the bottom of the ring; however, her older and still commonly seen symbol is a simple seven-pointed star. Her divine realm is Dweomerheart, and her Third Edition D&D domains are Good, Illusion, Knowledge, Magic, Rune, and Spell.

Publication history[edit]

Ed Greenwood created Mystra for his home Dungeons & Dragons game, set in Greenwood's Forgotten Realms world.[2]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)[edit]

Mystra first appeared within Dungeons & Dragons as one of the deities featured in Ed Greenwood's article "Down-to-earth Divinity" in Dragon #54 (October 1981). Mystra is introduced as the Lady of Mysteries, the goddess of magic, a lawful neutral greater goddess from the plane of Nirvana. The article notes that Mystra is a manifestation of the Cosmic Balance, "the natural workings of the multiverse ... a “Great Mystery” ... or a known higher force", and states that as such she "appears to right great inequalities or goings-awry in the magical balance of things. She appears as a source of light (like a prismatic will-o’-the-wisp to ethereal and astral view, some say) which uses all spells at maximum level ... Mystra is constantly Shape Changing as far as an observer on any Prime Material plane is concerned. She is said to have given the first teachings that unlocked the forces termed “magic” to the races of the Prime Material plane (and, some say, has forever after regretted the deed). Mystra was made lawful neutral on the premise that magic is inherently neutral, and exhibits internal order and laws. Many mages believe that Mystra determines success in the creation of new spells, potions, and magic items." Mystra's role in the cosmology of the Forgotten Realms is detailed: "Azuth serves Mystra. Mystra and Selûne have a mysterious connection ... and Mystra often works with Oghma and his gods." Mystra is most commonly worshipped by magic-users of any alignment, and characters working as sages.[2]

Mystra later officially appeared as one of the major deities for the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Set's "Cyclopedia of the Realms" booklet (1987).[1]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)[edit]

Mystra was described in the hardback Forgotten Realms Adventures (1990),[3] the revised Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (1993) in the "Running the Realms" booklet,[4] and Faiths & Avatars (1996).[5] Her clergy was further detailed in Warriors and Priests of the Realms (1996),[6] and Prayers from the Faithful (1997).[7]

Her role in the cosmology of the Planescape campaign setting was described in On Hallowed Ground (1996).[8]

Her relationships with the nonhuman deities in the Forgotten Realms was covered in Demihuman Deities (1998).[9]

Mystra is described as one of the good deities that celestials can serve in the supplement Warriors of Heaven (1999).[10]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)[edit]

Mystra appears as one of the major deities of the Forgotten Realms setting again, in Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (2001),[11] and is further detailed in Faiths and Pantheons (2002).[12]

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-Present)[edit]

According to the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, Mystra has been murdered by Cyric, and is no longer part of the Pantheon. Her death initiated the Spellplague, which is the direct cause of most of the changes Toril has undergone between editions.[13]

History[edit]

First Incarnation[edit]

Originally called Mystryl, the goddess of magic was a CN greater power of Limbo within the domain Dweomertor, born during the battle between Shar and Selûne in the dawn of time.[14] Being the goddess of magic, spells, creativity, invention, and knowledge, she was said to have taught the first spellcaster of the Realms. All spells of all types were known to her when their creators constructed them, and her spirit was said to imbue all inventors, authors, songwriters, and artists. She was most venerated by wizards and those who used magic or magical items. She provided and tended the Weave, the conduit that enabled mortals to safely access the raw magic force.[15]

Mystryl was depicted as a beautiful human female with rainbow-colored hair, radiant skin, and burning blue eyes. She wore simple, but elegant, blue-white robes of the finest heavy silk. At other times she was depicted as a vaguely female humanoid form composed entirely of prismatic-hued will-o’-wisps.

According to Ao,[15] Mystryl had ultimate control over all magic and could shape it to her will, and she could withdraw a being’s access to the Weave and prevent it from using spells of any sort, and in an even harsher restriction she could also prevent a being from using any sort of magic whatsoever if she so decreed. These conditions persisted until she removed them.

Mystryl could even deny deities access to the Weave, but she couldn’t deny other gods the ability to grant their worshipers spells through prayer.

True to her chaotic nature, Mystryl was flirtatious and profound, flighty and persistent, light-hearted and deadly serious.[15] Her moods and state-of-mind varied from moment to moment, but she generally tried to do what she thought was right. She seemed too trusting and innocent at times, and tended to overreact when she felt she had been tricked. She distrusted but didn’t hate Shar, who had sought to seize control over her for centuries, and she also rebelled occasionally against the good-intentioned suggestions of Selune, who she regarded as smotheringly maternal at times. Kozah and Moander, who always seemed intent on ruining that which she created or inspired, were her mortal enemies. Mystryl died when Karsus, wanting to take her place as god of Magic created the most powerful spell ever (12th level spell) and nearly destroyed the Weave. Mystryl sacrificed herself to save the Weave before it was too late.

Second Incarnation[edit]

Mystra came into being after Mystryl sacrificed herself to save Faerûn from the destruction of Netheril caused by Karsus in DR -339. Mystryl sacrificed herself to save the weave before the damage became irreparable. When reincarnated as Mystra, she used the form of a peasant girl learning the basics of cantra magic but with the capacities for archwizardry. She recreated the weave of magic with a few more rules, and no spell above 9th level would function.

Priests and priestesses of the new goddess of magic were told the story of Karsus in dreams and visions when they prayed for spells. It was Mystra’s attempt to make sure that nothing like this ever happened again. Yet Karsus was accredited as being the only human to have ever achieved godhood through spellcasting, even if was only for a fleeting moment.

Mystra's Chosen[edit]

Mystra installed the mortal Azuth as the first magister, a position created specifically to recognize her most promising mortal pupil. With the help of Mystra, who had become his lover, Azuth finally ascended to divine status, and also enslaved Savras and Velsharoon. Mystra told Azuth at about the time of the Year of the Rising Flame (0 DR) that some of her divine power must be given into mortals, which would slumber within them, so that Mystra could call on it only with their permission. It would serve to help them heal quickly and would stretch their years into virtual immortality, but otherwise it would avail them little. The Chosen might gain some special powers, but these would still be far less than those of a deity.[16]

The Goddess of All Magic accordingly appeared to a few mortals she considered suitable, first in dream visions and then directly, and ultimately invested part of her divine power (known as the Silver Fire) in them. Elminster (who was trained by Mystra personally in the form of one of her own priestess named Myrjala[17]), and Khelben Blackstaff, were two of the first.

Daughters of Mystra[edit]

It soon became clear to Mystra that most mortals were not tough enough to carry divine power. They either soon withered and died, burnt out by the load they carried, like the elfqueen Aloevan of Ardeepor, or they thrived but were twisted and corrupted by their power, like the mage Sammaster, who began to think of himself as a god and set about building himself a cult of worshippers (which survives today as the Cult of the Dragon). Thus Mystra proceeded to breed her own children, known as the Seven Sisters through the possessing of the Half-Elf Elué Shundar and mating with Dornal Silverhand. Elué/Mystra and Dornal were wed in the Year of Drifting Stars (760 DR).

The happy couple had a daughter, Anastra Syluné, the following winter (the Year of Laughter, 761 DR), and six other daughters followed one per winter: Endue Alustriel in the Year of the Snow Sword (762 DR); Ambara Dove in the Year of the Sharp Edge (763 DR); Ethena Astorma (later known as Storm Silverhand) in the Year of Mistmaidens (764 DR); Anamanué Laeral in the Year of the Cowl (765 DR); Alassra Shentrantra, who is known today only as the Simbul in the Year of the Yearning (766 DR), and Qilué Erésseae in the Year of the Awakening Wyrm (767 DR).[16]

(However, it was written in[18] p. 7 that Sammaster's year of birth was on or near 800 DR, which was after the seven, and in p. 8 He then became the first mage to become one of the Chosen of Mystra since the Seven Sisters many years before. These could mean that her failed relationship/mentorship with Sammaster had nothing to do with her decision to breed the Seven.)

Third Incarnation[edit]

At the end of the Time of Troubles, Midnight was bestowed Mystra's godhood and portfolio by Ao.[19] Midnight adopted Mystra's name in order to make peace with her worshippers, and named her mortal friend Adon, a former cleric of Sune, as her head of church. At this time Mystra's stated alignment shifted from Lawful Neutral, maintaining the balance in use of magic, to Neutral Good, reflecting the mortal's attitudes towards the uses and purpose of magic. Midnight/Mystra retained her home among the clockwork planes of Mechanus. She remained aided in her work by Azuth and Elminster.

In the Avatar Series Mystra was revealed to be a uniquely powerful being. In Shadows of the Avatar, she is described as more powerful than any god (save Ao). The major catch is that roughly half of Mystra's power lies in her Chosen and in the Lesser Power Azuth; Ao arranged things this way so that Mystra would not rule all Realmspace.

While Mystra might be the most powerful god, that doesn't save her from Cyric and Shar, in the year 1385, when the two group together to kill her in her own realm of Dweomerheart, destroying it utterly, and ruining several smaller realms and lesser deities, as said in the final entry in The Grand History of the Realms.

Death[edit]

Murdered by Cyric in the Year of Blue Flame (1385 DR), Mystra is no longer a part of the Forgotten Realms pantheon. The weave that she controlled and oversaw from her plane, Dweomerheart, burst - as did its counterpart the Shadow Weave. This resulted in the Spellplague spreading across the cosmos.[13]

Fourth Incarnation[edit]

Mystra returned to the Forgotten Realms in 1479 DR.[20] A vestige of Mystra had survived her death in 1385 DR, and was guiding her Chosen to aid in her renewal. The Simbul was tasked to close multiple rifts in the Weave and between realms. In doing this task, she absorbed much Silverfire and Blue Flame. The Simbul gifted all of that energy to Elminster, who in turn freely returned it to Mystra in a cave within the King's Forest of Cormyr. This new Mystra was a combination of the memories of Mystra and Midnight/Mystra, and presumably of Mystryl as she had drawn her memories from the Weave rather than from personal experience.

Mystra's return was highlighted as part of the Dungeons & Dragons Encounters adventure War of Everlasting Darkness by Wizards of the Coast in 2012. She assisted the adventurers in defeating Lolth and her efforts to plunge Faerun into everlasting darkness, which would have allowed the drow to invade and conquer the surface realms.[21]

Relationships[edit]

Mystra's greatest enemies were Shar, who created the Shadow Weave in response to Selûne's creation of Mystryl and the birth of the Weave, and Cyric, who was a mortal along with Mystra and Kelemvor (with whom Mystra had a cold friendship). She was served directly by the Lesser Power Azuth, and indirectly by demipowers Savras and Velsharoon. Mystra also had powerful mortal servants in her Chosen including Elminster, Khelben Arunsun and the Seven Sisters.

Orders[edit]

  • Order of the Starry Quill[22]

The Starry Quill is an order of Mystran bards who often work as information gatherers and rumormongers for the church or spend part of their time in designated libraries unearthing magical knowledge and then preserving it for posterity.

  • Order of the Shooting Star[22]

The Church of Mystra sponsors an order of rangers, known as the Order of the Shooting Star. These rangers receive their spells from Mystra. They serve as long-range scouts and spies for the church and also deal with magical threats that threaten the natural order of things, such as unloosed tanar'ri and baatezu and creatures born of irresponsible wizardly experimentation.

  • Knights of Mystic Fire[22]

The Church of Mystra sponsors a knightly order of paladins, the Knights of the Mystic Fire, who are granted their spells by Mystra. They often accompany members of the clergy on quests to locate lost hoards of ancient magic and also form the cadre from which the leadership for the small groups of armed forces who guard Mystra's larger temples and workshops is drawn.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grubb and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set. Wizard of the Coast. ISBN 0-88038-472-7. 
  2. ^ a b Ed Greenwood, Dragon magazine #54 - "Down-to-earth divinity" (October 1981)
  3. ^ Grubb, Jeff and Ed Greenwood. Forgotten Realms Adventures (TSR, 1990)
  4. ^ Ed Greenwood (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. ASIN B000K06S2E. 
  5. ^ Martin, Julia, and Eric L Boyd. Faiths & Avatars (TSR, 1996)
  6. ^ Terra, John. Warriors and Priests of the Realms (TSR, 1996)
  7. ^ Greenwood, Ed and Stewart, Doug. Prayers from the Faithful (TSR, 1997)
  8. ^ McComb, Colin. On Hallowed Ground (TSR, 1996)
  9. ^ Boyd, Eric L. Demihuman Deities (TSR, 1998)
  10. ^ Perkins, Christopher. Warriors of Heaven (TSR, 1999)
  11. ^ Ed Greenwood et al. (2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. Wizard of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5. 
  12. ^ Boyd, Eric L, and Erik Mona. Faiths and Pantheons (Wizards of the Coast, 2002)
  13. ^ a b Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (2008)
  14. ^ History of the Sisters of Light and Darkness[1998], appeared in Interplay computer game Baldur's Gate.
  15. ^ a b c slade with Jim Butler (1995). Netheril: Empire of Magic. Wizard of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2. 
  16. ^ a b Ed Greenwood (1995). The Seven Sisters. Wizard of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-0118-7. 
  17. ^ Ed Greenwood (1995). Elminster:The Making of a Mage. Wizard of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-0203-5. 
  18. ^ Dale Donova (1998). Cult of the Dragon. Wizard of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-0709-6. 
  19. ^ Troy Denning (2003/1990). Waterdeep. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3111-6.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  20. ^ Ed Greenwood (2012). Elminster Enraged. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-6029-9. 
  21. ^ Merwin, Shawn; Townshend, Steve; Wyatt, James (2012). War of Everlasting Darkness. Wizards of the Coast. 
  22. ^ a b c Erik Mona; Eric L. Boyd. Faiths and Pantheons (Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms, Campaign Accessory). Renton, Wash: Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3. 

External links[edit]

Additional reading[edit]