Saint Cuthbert (Dungeons & Dragons)

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Saint Cuthbert
Game background
Title(s)St Cuthbert of the Cudgel
Home planePeaceable Kingdoms of Arcadia
Power levelIntermediate
AlignmentLawful Neutral (Lawful Good)
PortfolioCommon Sense, Wisdom, Zeal, Honesty, Truth, Discipline
DomainsDestruction, Good, Law, Protection, Strength
Design details

In some versions of the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game, Saint Cuthbert of the Cudgel is the combative deity of Wisdom, Dedication, and Zeal. Originally created for the World of Greyhawk campaign setting, he was later made part of the generic "core pantheon" for the game's third edition.


In 1972, when Gary Gygax began to playtest the new "Fantasy Game" that he and Dave Arneson would eventually develop into Dungeons & Dragons, using the dungeons underneath Castle Greyhawk, he did not have an organized religion. Since his campaign was largely built around the needs of lower-level characters, he didn't think specific deities were necessary, since direct interaction between a god and a low-level character was very unlikely. However, some of the players wanted a specific deity so that cleric characters could receive their powers from someone less ambiguous than "the gods". Gygax, with tongue in cheek, created two gods: Pholtus and St. Cuthbert—and Cuthbert brought non-believers around to his point of view with whacks of his cudgel.[1]

Publication history[edit]

The first published mention of Saint Cuthbert (spelled "St. Cuthburt") was in the second issue of The Dragon, in Chapter 2 of Gary Gygax's serialized short story The Gnome Cache.[2]

Saint Cuthbert's name was inspired by the real-world Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (AD 634-687). There are subtle hints in some sources (including a short story in Dragon #100) that Saint Cuthbert of Greyhawk and Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne are intended to be one and the same, or at least that the former has knowledge of the latter.

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

Saint Cuthbert was first given formal game statistics for the Dungeons & Dragons game in "The Deities and Demigods of the World of Greyhawk" by Gary Gygax in Dragon #67 (1982), where his alignment then was given as lawful good (lawful neutral tendencies).[3] Saint Cuthbert was subsequently detailed in the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (1983),[4] and in Greyhawk Adventures (1988).[5]

A roleplaying scenario appeared in Dragon #100 (1985) involving the recovery of the Mace of Cuthbert from "real world" of Earth, in a museum in London. According to the scenario, Saint Cuthbert had secreted his favored weapon there in order to keep it safe in a world where magic doesn't exist, and therefore no one would have reason to believe the medieval armament was anything special.[6]

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

Saint Cuthbert was one of the deities described in the From the Ashes set (1992), for the Greyhawk campaign,[7] and appeared again in Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (1998).[8]

His role in the cosmology of the Planescape campaign setting was described in On Hallowed Ground (1996).[9] Saint Cuthbert 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]

Saint Cuthbert appears as one of the deities described in the Players Handbook for this edition (2000).[11] Saint Cuthbert's role in the 3rd edition Greyhawk setting was defined in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000).[12] He was described as a lawful neutral (though still intolerant of evil) deity with a focus on retribution and the punishment of sins. Retribution had formerly been the primary area of influence of the deity Trithereon, who did not appear in this book.

Saint Cuthbert is also detailed in Deities and Demigods (2002).[13]

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

Saint Cuthbert appears in the revised Players Handbook for this edition (2003).[14] His priesthood is detailed for this edition in Complete Divine (2004).[15]

In Dragon #358 (2007), a "Core Beliefs" article by Sean K Reynolds has officially returned Saint Cuthbert to lawful good (with lawful neutral tendencies).[16]

Fictional history[edit]

Rumored to have once been a mortal man, Saint Cuthbert is an intermediate deity. His alignment has been variously interpreted as lawful neutral (lawful good tendencies) and lawful good (lawful neutral tendencies). Saint Cuthbert hates evil, but is more concerned with law and order, with converting the uninformed, and preventing backslides among the faithful.


Saint Cuthbert is a foe of many evil deities, including Iuz and Vecna. He also has an intense rivalry with Pholtus, a similarly intolerant though good-leaning god.

Saint Cuthbert is strongly allied with Rao. He is an ally of Delleb, Heironeous, and Pelor as well. His worshipers get along well with those of Lendys.


When they shed their mortal coils, those who worshiped the saint in life go to Saint Cuthbert's divine realm, called the Basilica of Saint Cuthbert or the Bastion of Law. This realm is in Arcadia. Souls there act as silent observers while the saint gives out judgments from his Seat of Truth. Saint Cuthbert seldom leaves his plane unless some great duty calls him forth.


  • Saint Cuthbert and Common Sense. This short book, normally no more than thirty pages long, uses simple language to explain the tenets of Saint Cuthbert's faith. Some personal interpretation is permitted, but the essentials (obey the law, be good, and use common sense) remain the same. Those who fail at living up to the Saint's virtues are advised to turn to their communities for advice and support, and to pray to Saint Cuthbert to clear up their confusion. Copies of Saint Cuthbert and Common Sense are normally written by hand in easy-to-read letters, sometimes with simple drawings. Gilded illuminations and elaborate calligraphy are not in harmony with the Cuthbertine aesthetic.[16]
  • Tales of the Vulgar Fool. This book is considered foul heresy in the eyes of Cuthbertines, particularly the Order of the Stars, who try to suppress it whenever it is encountered. It takes the traditional Cuthbertine parables of the Wise Fool and twists them so that instead of overcoming his problems with common sense, he indulges in thievery and lechery. Non-Cuthbertines see these stories as humorous parodies of uptight Cuthbertine homilies, but the church does not approve. A small minority of the faithful take the Tales of the Vulgar Fool to heart and incorporate their "advice" into their lives, and this is the sort of thing the Order of the Stars tries to stamp out.[16]


Cuthbertines (that is, worshipers of Saint Cuthbert) are most prevalent in the central Flanaess. The saint has churches in Dyvers, Furyondy, the Gran March, the Free City of Greyhawk, Keoland, Perrenland, the Shield Lands, Tenh, the Principality of Ulek, the County of Urnst, the Duchy of Urnst, Veluna, and Verbobonc. These churches can be large cathedrals, but most commonly are wayside shrines and small, crude chapels.

On other planes, Saint Cuthbert is the most favored god of the Harmonium faction, who appreciate the god's uncompromising nature. The current leader of the faction, Faith, is a cleric of Saint Cuthbert.


Saint Cuthbert's priesthood is divided into three major orders.

  • The Chapeaux, whose symbol is a crumpled hat, seek to convert people into their faith. They are equally divided between lawful good and lawful neutral characters. Paladins of Saint Cuthbert, known as Votaries or Communicants, have an honorary position in the Order of the Chapeaux. Their role is not just to convert others, but to actually fight enemies of the faith.
  • The Stars, whose symbol is a starburst, seek to enforce doctrinal purity among those already dedicated to the saint. Most are lawful neutral, and they do not shy from using mind-reading magic in order to ensure that even the private thoughts of their flock are pure.
  • The Billets are the most numerous of Saint Cuthbert's clergy. Most are lawful good, and they seek to minister to and protect the faithful. These are well-beloved by the common folk. Their symbol is a wooden club. The Chapeaux often come into conflict with the Billets, because the former order wants to seek new converts while the latter wants to care for the worshipers they already have.

Minor orders[edit]

There are a few lesser-known orders of St. Cuthbert.

  • L'Ordre de la Croix-Rose Veritas, or the Order of the Rosy Cross of Truth, was founded in 587 (CY), after the Greyhawk Wars. It was founded by Ormus, a former priest of Rao only just converted to Saint Cuthbert's faith himself. When Ormus discovered an evil warlord had been corrupted by a devil in disguise, he founded the new order in order to track down other devils living among mortals in disguise. The order has three branches: La Croix-Vert, La Croix-Blanc, and La Croix-Bleu.
  • The Society of the Sanctified Mind focuses on ridding the world of evil psionicists. It was founded c. 561 CY by a cleric of Saint Cuthbert named Sir Jeremy Costineux, after his home village was enslaved by illithids. This society is a knightly order rather than a strictly religious one, and people of a wide variety of character classes belong to it.


Saint Cuthbert's churches can be large cathedrals, but most commonly are wayside shrines and small, crude chapels.

The monastery-fortress of St. Cuthbert in the canton of Clatspurgen, Perrenland was the center of resistance to Iggwilv's tyranny between 481-491 CY, protecting the valley through which the Velverdyva river left the realm.[12]:86

Holy days[edit]

  • Saint Cuthbert's Day. Celebrated on the 4th day of Growfest, Saint Cuthbert's Day is the largest festival celebrated by Saint Cuthbert's church. It involves locals and pilgrims gathering at a city's gate at dawn and parading and singing along a major road until they reach the local shrine or temple. Children swipe at everyone within reach with switches in a custom known as "the cleansing." At their destination, a cleric brings out a replica of the Mace of Cuthbert and there is a great feast from noon until dusk, and then a bonfire from sundown until midnight that the faithful believe can remove curses and misfortune.[16]
  • Breadgiving Day. This is a new event that began only after the Greyhawk Wars, originally as a charitable event for refugees. Subsequently, it has become a day dedicated to feeding the hungry in general. Cuthbertines take the opportunity to preach and gain converts, and provide security for the event. The faiths of Pelor and Rao also participate.[16]

Artifacts and relics[edit]

Saint Cuthbert wields a powerful artifact called the Mace of Cuthbert. Other magic items associated with Saint Cuthbert include the cudgel that never forgets and the tabard of the great crusade.

Myths and legends[edit]

  • The Saint Among Us. This is a story of Saint Cuthbert's origins as a mortal shepherd who long ago lived a simple, blameless, charitable life. He was rewarded by the gods by being brought to Oerth where he walked the world as a holy man teaching evil the error of its ways. Eventually he became a god; the tale attempts to guide others by example.[16]
  • Parables of the Wise Fool. The dogmatically correct stories that the Tales of the Vulgar Fool work of heresy is a parody of, these stories involve agriculture, animal husbandry, crafts, fending off beasts, fighting, and other common activities. The protagonist, the Wise Fool, is normally portrayed much as Saint Cuthbert is, as a young or middle-aged man with a crumpled hat, who shows up well-meaning but self-important antagonists with simple common sense. Many of the most common sayings used in the Cuthbertine faith are attributed to the Wise Fool. These books are often illustrated, and simple paintings of the Wise Fool are common on rural chapels and the like.[16]
  • The Boy Who Cried Wolf. This story, possibly brought by Saint Cuthbert himself from another world, tells of a shepherd boy who tells lies about a wolf attack and is consequently not believed when a wolf actually attacks. A variation of this story is "The Boy Who Cried Orc."[16]


  1. ^ "Gary Gygax: Q & A (Part XII, Page 8)". EN World. 23 August 2006. Archived from the original (Forum) on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2017. ...St. Cuthbert was more of a joke than otherwise. Consider the advicacy of pounding sense into someone's head by dint of blows from a club.
  2. ^ Gygax, Gary (August 1976). "The Gnome Cache". The Dragon (2): 6–7.
  3. ^ Gygax, Gary. "The Deities and Demigods of the World of Greyhawk." Dragon #67 (TSR, 1982)
  4. ^ Gygax, Gary. World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (TSR, 1983)
  5. ^ Ward, James M. Greyhawk Adventures (TSR, 1988)
  6. ^ Schroeck, Robert. "The City Beyond the Gate." Dragon #100 (TSR, 1985)
  7. ^ Sargent, Carl. From the Ashes (TSR, 1992)
  8. ^ Moore, Roger E. Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (TSR, 1998)
  9. ^ McComb, Colin. On Hallowed Ground (TSR, 1996)
  10. ^ Perkins, Christopher. Warriors of Heaven (TSR, 1999)
  11. ^ Tweet, Jonathan, Cook, Monte, Williams, Skip. Player's Handbook (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  12. ^ a b Holian, Gary, Erik Mona, Sean K Reynolds, and Frederick Weining. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  13. ^ Redman, Rich, Skip Williams, and James Wyatt. Deities and Demigods (Wizards of the Coast, 2002)
  14. ^ Tweet, Jonathan, Cook, Monte, Williams, Skip. Player's Handbook (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  15. ^ Noonan, David. Complete Divine (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h Reynolds, Sean K. "Core Beliefs: Saint Cuthbert." Dragon #358. (Paizo Publishing, 2007)

Further reading[edit]