Pholtus

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Pholtus
Game background
Title(s) Pholtus of the Blinding Light
Home plane The Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanus
Power level Intermediate
Alignment Lawful Good (Lawful Neutral)
Portfolio Light, Resolution, Law, Order, Inflexibility, Sun, Moons
Domains Good, Knowledge, Inquisition, Law, Sun
Superior none
Design details

In the fictional campaign setting of Greyhawk used for the Dungeons and Dragons fantasy role-playing game, Pholtus was one of the first gods created by Gary Gygax as he and Dave Arneson developed the game of Dungeons & Dragons. Pholtus eventually evolved into Greyhawk's Oeridian god of Light, Resolution, Law, Order, Inflexibility, the Sun, and the Moons, and was also used in the Planescape campaign. His symbol is a silvery sun with a crescent moon on the lower right quadrant. His colors are white, silver and gold.

Publication history[edit]

Before publication: The Greyhawk home campaign[edit]

In the early 1970s, when Gary Gygax was using the dungeons beneath Castle Greyhawk to playtest the game that would become known as Dungeons & Dragons, he did not include any references to any organized religion. Eventually his players asked that their clerics be able to gain their powers from someone more specific than "the gods". Gygax, with tongue in cheek, created two gods: Saint Cuthbert—who brought non-believers around to his point of view with whacks of his cudgel[1] —and Pholtus, whose fanatical followers refused to believe that any other gods existed. Although St. Cuthbert quickly became widely known due to references made to him and his shrines in Gygax's short stories and articles, Pholtus would remain hidden inside Gygax's home campaign for the next decade.

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

Gygax published his Greyhawk home campaign as the 32-page The World of Greyhawk folio in 1980, but due to lack of space, did not include details of any of his deities. Two years later, he published "The Deities and Demigods of the World of Greyhawk", a five-part feature in Dragon that described 19 gods. As part of this article, Pholtus appeared in Dragon #68 (1982).[2] A few months later, TSR re-issued The World of Greyhawk as a boxed set. With more room for content, Gygax was able to include the information about the 19 deities, including Pholtus.[3]

In 1988, most of the same information about Pholtus re-appeared in the Greyhawk Adventures source book.[4]

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

In 1991, TSR decided to revise the Greyhawk storyline with the From the Ashes boxed set, and Pholtus was again one of the featured deities.[5] In 1994, TSR stopped publishing Greyhawk material, but Pholtus was transferred to the Planescape campaign setting, where his role in the cosmology was described in On Hallowed Ground (1996).[6]

TSR was bought by Wizards of the Coast the following year, and in 1998, the Greyhawk campaign setting was revived, and Pholtus was included in Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins.[7]

Pholtus continued to serve double duty in two campaign settings, and in Planescape's Warriors of Heaven supplement (1999), he was described as one of the good deities that celestials can serve.[8]

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

Pholtus's role in the 3rd edition Greyhawk setting was defined in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000).[9]

Pholtus was one of the deities detailed in Dragon #294 (2002), in the article "Beings of Power: Four Gods of Greyhawk."[10]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)[edit]

His priesthood is detailed for this edition in Complete Divine (2004).[11]


Description[edit]

Pholtus himself appears as a tall, slender man with pale skin, flowing white hair and bright blue eyes burning with the fires of devotion. He always wears a silky white gown and a cassock trimmed with gold and silver, embroidered with suns and moons.

Realm[edit]

Pholtus is said to reside in The Path of Law, a domain in the Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanus. Dragon #294 placed him in Mount Celestia instead.

Relationships[edit]

Pholtus has an unfriendly rivalry with Saint Cuthbert and despises the Oeridian wind deities (Atroa, Sotillion, Telchur, Velnius, and Wenta).

He is opposed by Trithereon and Xan Yae. Clerics of Norebo particularly enjoy bothering his followers. Pholtus is allied with Heironeous and Pelor.

Worshippers[edit]

Worshippers of Pholtus are called Pholtans. Some Pholtans claim that he set the sun and the moon in the sky and maintains them in their rigid procession to show all creatures the One True Way, a strict path which allows no deviation but absolutely assures rightness. Such claims are not regarded as doctrine.

The Pholtan church is the state religion of the Theocracy of the Pale, and is the only religion permitted or recognized within that nation. An even more severe Pholtine theocracy exists in the Bandit Kingdom state of Dimre. Pholtus's church is also widespread in Nyrond and the Shield Lands.

The faith of Pholtus often conflicts or works at cross purposes with that of Saint Cuthbert, whose alignment is also borderline Lawful Neutral/Lawful Good.

Clergy[edit]

Pholtus's clerics are most active in cities, where they seek to reveal the light to unbelievers. They act as lawyers, judges, and arbiters when they're not preaching about their god. They are never completely without light if they can help it. Magical light is preferred, but a candle or a piece of luminous fungus will serve if no other light is available.

Paladins[edit]

Paladins of Pholtus are known as templars or inquisitors. They consider questions of morality to be secondary to faithfulness to Pholtus and his One True Way. They seek the destruction of chaos, darkness, and evil, in that order. While some individual Pholtan paladins can be as merciful as paladins of Pelor or Heironeous, doubt and mercy are not considered virtues in their tradition, and many believe them to be weaknesses.

Pholtan paladins traditionally dress in white and pale yellow tunics of fine linen or silk, with silvery borders decorated with suns and moons or excerpts from Pholtan scripture.

The Knights Templar of the Theocracy of the Pale are the most infamous of Pholtus's paladins, combining Pholtan conviction with nationalistic zeal.

The Lords of the Gloaming are a group of Pholtan paladins who seek to destroy portals to the Lower Planes of existence. Saint Ceril the Relentless was among their number.

Temples and rituals[edit]

Buildings consecrated to Pholtus are white. Services include many brightly burning candles, long sermons and choruses of the worshippers' anthem, "O Blinding Light":

O Blinding Light,
O light that blinds,
I cannot see,
Look out for me![12][13]

This song comes from the Firesign Theatre album Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gygax: "St. Cuthbert was more of a joke than otherwise. Consider the advocacy of pounding sense into someone's head by dint of blows from a club.""Gary Gygax: Q & A (Part XII, Page 4)". EN World. 2006-08-23. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  2. ^ Gygax, Gary (August 1982). "Greyhawk's World - News, Notes and Views of the Greyhawk World: Events of the Eastern and Southern Flanaess". Dragon (Lake Geneva WI: TSR). VII, No. 3 (64): 13. 
  3. ^ Gygax, Gary (1983). World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting. Lake Geneva WI: TSR. 
  4. ^ Ward, James M. (1988). Greyhawk Adventures. Lake Geneva WI: TSR. 
  5. ^ Sargent, Carl. From the Ashes (TSR, 1992)
  6. ^ McComb, Colin. On Hallowed Ground (TSR, 1996)
  7. ^ Moore, Roger E. Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (TSR, 1998)
  8. ^ Perkins, Christopher. Warriors of Heaven (TSR, 1999)
  9. ^ Holian, Gary, Erik Mona, Sean K Reynolds, and Frederick Weining. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  10. ^ Noonan, David. "Beings of Power: Four Gods of Greyhawk." Dragon #294 (Paizo Publishing, 2002)
  11. ^ Noonan, David. Complete Divine (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
  12. ^ Stormberg, Paul J. (Spring 2001). "Thus Spake Gary Gygax: Ye Secrets of Oerth Revealed". Oerth Journal (Canonfire). II, No. 1 (12): 8. Retrieved 2009-05-16. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Robilar Remembers: Where's Ernie?". Pied Piper Publishing. 2002-11-17. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  14. ^ Firesign Theatre. Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers. Columbia Records, 1970.

Additional reading[edit]