Batrachi were an amphibious race that are counted as one of the Creator races.
History[edit | edit source]
- -33500 DR: The batrachi begin forming their own empires.
- -31000 DR: The batrachi release several primordials from their imprisonment to aid in the war against Annam's titans. The gods oppose the primordials which causes catastrophes across the entire planet, including what the batrachi call the Seven-Turn Winter. While the war rages on many batrachi retreat to Limbo where they found the Supreme Throne. In reaction to the war, Ao splits the world in two with the primordials given dominion over Abeir while the gods keep Toril.
Geographical Region[edit | edit source]
Deity[edit | edit source]
Many Earth religions share the myth of an ancient flood, which marks the destruction of, and separation in time from, an antediluvian world that was very different from what came after. Conversely, cultures beneath the waves of Toril share myths of an anteterrene world, before the ice glazed over the face of the world, before the land thrust up above the surface, when Toril was completely covered in water.
When Abeir-Toril was first a water world, the humanoid form was completely unknown for many ages; therefore, all the gods that are trans-pantheonic (that is, gods who in some aspect are worshiped in more than one geo-political area or culture of Toril), those who have been around from the beginning, were not originally conceived of in human form. The octopoid creator race would have conceived of them in their own terms—as octopoids, or other aquatic species.
Most of the oldest gods of the human pantheon of Faerûn originated as aquatic deities that would seem very alien in form and outlook to those we know today. They have either morphed over time into their current human guises, or at some point in the last 35,000 years, a human has ascended to divinity and stepped into the shoes of an expired deity, thereby assuming the mantle of his power — as Mystra did with Mystryl.
Even to the extent that they have a current human guise, it does not mean that, somewhere beneath the seas or in the dark places of Toril, those gods are not still worshiped in their former aquatic guise; thus, they may yet maintain that aspect of themselves to this very day. Such an alien form and mode of thought may still be very comfortable to them. Which stresses the point that Gods are beyond the ken of human understanding and you simply cannot ever think that you have them pegged, or know the whole of the truth about them.
Before the Days of Thunder, before the advent of Ramenos, and long before Ramenos converted the greater portion of the aquatic creator race to his own faith, killed off their pantheon, and transformed them into the amphibious Batrachi, they were an invertebrate race of medium sized octopi.
Steven Schend refers on page 60 of The Sea of Fallen Stars, in the section on Other Gods of Serôs and the Outer Sea, to "the mythical Great School of the parent aquatic races." I have long considered what the Great School pantheon of the aquatic creator race must have been like. Below are some thoughts on who might have been included, and how they were conceived of in their aquatic aspects.
Note that their names in those aspects are completely unknown to us. As the octopoid creator race spoke in a soundless language of gestures and shifting color patterns produced by the chromatophores in their skin (see the entry for Tako in the Kara-Tur Monstrous Appendix); we would be unable to pronounce those names, or even write them, were they known. Therefore, to the extent that these gods are cognates with modern human gods, I will simply refer to them by the names which humans know them today. Otherwise I will refer to them by portfolio.
The Great School Pantheon of the Aquatic Creator Race:
Selûne (along with her sister) is the eldest god of Toril. As such, it would be appropriate for the octopoids to conceive of her in a more primitive, even prehistoric guise. I see her as a giant ammonite (perhaps like Parapuzosia seppenradensis) or possibly a nautilus of some kind, with a great spiral shell that coils around into a big, smooth, disk-like, opalescent shell, the lambent glow of which recalls the light of the moon, refracted through the water and slightly rippled by the motion of the waves.
Zotha: Goddess of Toril's second moon, Selûne's handmaiden that follows her about the sky. This small moon of ice and rock was smashed by the Primordial Asgorath and hurled down upon Faerûn during Tearfall, creating the Sea of Fallen Stars. The shattered remnants of Zotha now trail behind Selûne by roughly 60 degrees (orbiting in the stable L5 Lagrange point) as the trojan asteroids known today as the Tears of Selûne. (See the 2e Draconomicon p.2 for reference to the name of this moon, Grand History p.8, and 4e FR Campaign Guide p.41 for details about the events.)
Shar: Selûne's dark sister could of course appear in whatever guise she liked, but was most commonly conceived of as tentacles shrouded in a perpetual cloud of ink.
Mystryl: Perhaps a silver squid, although I am intrigued with the image of a luminescent jellyfish of silver hue, whose myriad tendrils continue on indefinitely, extending ever outward to form the network of the Weave.
Chauntea: God of life, mother of all things. Found frequently in ancient undersea ruins in intricate mosaics of colored glass tiles or bits of polished shell, where she is depicted as a mother octopus lovingly sheltering a small baby octopus in each of her eight arms.
Sun/Amaunatar: the counterpart to Selûne—a golden Ammonite (from Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix II and Monstrous Compendium Annual 4). I don't know if this was the same god as Amaunator or not. This would have been the god of the first sun, who was devoured by Dendar the night Serpent — which consequently plunged the world into darkness and caused the glaciation of the surface of the planet. When the sun was reforged anew, the former sun god was replaced with the aquatic version of Lathander, god of Dawn.
Lathander: A rosy-hued octopus, born when the sun came back in the sky.
War/Garagos/Targus/Tempus: A five-armed octopus weilding an obsidian blade in each arm. He has daunting armor assembled from bits of shells or the chitinous plates & carapaces of crustaceans. Did he always have just five arms? Or did he once have eight but lost three in battle? I don't really know, but the five-armed motif is echoed in his modern aspect of Garagos. This god was born out of the War of Light and Darkness between Shar and Selûne, after the creation of the first sun, when Dendar swallowed it from the sky. If the account in the history section on p. 260 of the 3e Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting book is accurate, then "from their divine conflict, the deities of war, disease, murder, death, and other fell forces were created."
Disease/Talona: War's sister, Disease, arose during this same period. While it is possible she was personified as a spindly, elder octopus, I see her as something much more vast and deadly, such as a red tide. Or a swarm of tiny, biting, stinging, burrowing, or parasitic organisms. Her deadliness is paradoxically based on an overabundance of life, reproducing without restraint, like cancer. After the War of Light and Darkness, the Barrens of Doom and Despair was created to contain her. Which perhaps makes it a much harsher place of imprisonment if she began as an aquatic deity. A barren, scorched, dry terrain where nothing can thrive; it proved an effective barrier to prevent her from growing beyond the limits of her domain.
Panzuriel, god of Death, Murder, Strife, & Dusk: Panzuriel is still venerated in secret places beneath the waves. Certainly he is known to many krakens. Though most krakens now worship Umberlee, there are still those who revere their ancient patron. As god of murder and strife, did he engineer the killing of the first sun? Did he manipulate Dendar the Night Serpent into swallowing it? Or was he born as a result of the first death or murder during the war. I suspect that originally there was another god of death, but that Panzuriel murdered him and consolidated the two portfolios together in one god. Perhaps he sought to murder Amaunator, and thereby gain the portfolio of the sun. I think he was successful to an extent, but in his hands, the sun portfolio became the portfolio of dusk. He certainly presided over the Long Night of the Frozen Sky. As the god of Death during this era, he would have presided over the Fugue Plane, too. Although, I gather the Fugue Plane was not created until after the conclusion of the War, by treaty among the gods in order to ensure fair access and distribution of the souls of their deceased worshipers. At this time, the Fugue Plane would have been an aquatic plane as well. Now the River Slyth is all that's left of the Fugue's former sea. Panzuriel would later lose control of the Fugue to Phraarkilloorm, the Aearee god of death, when the Aearee rose to power.
Talos/Kozah/Bhaelros/Gruumsh: The one-eyed god of storms and destruction looks much like the race of tako do today. He had not yet created the orc race at this time, at least not in Toril's crystal sphere. Perhaps he was an interlopler deity, brought in by Shar from another world to aid her in the war against her sister. Some speculate that this god began as an arch-fey, the eternal nemesis of Corellon. I assume the feywild existed at this time, but if it were the mirror of Toril then perhaps it was similarly an ocean world during this period, populated solely with aquatic fey life: nixies, nereids, and fey versions of Prime life. If Gruumsh is that old, he may have indeed begun as an aquatic arch-fey. Perhaps his octopoid form was not a guise, but actually his original form.
Ghaunadaur: He is said to be a very ancient deity, and — as a god of oozes, slimes, jellies, outcasts, and rebels — well, there must be oozes, slimes, and jellies aplenty in the ocean. And as for rebels and outcasts, surely he did not lack for worship there.
Sekolah: The god of predation has hunted the depths since the dawn of time. Some speculate that Malar is a modern fragment/aspect of Sekolah. Although a conflicting myth holds that Malar was the product of a rape perpetrated by Talos on Chauntea during a terrible encounter between them during the War of Light and Darkness. It is possible that Sekolah was prayed to by hunters. I could see him serving in a similar capacity to how Malar is viewed in modern times.
Piscaethces: The aboleth were known from early on in the depths — thought to have been brought in from the Far Realms by early experimentation of the octopoids with planar magic. While the Blood Queen was never a part of the Great School pantheon, she was know to them, and there were even those among the creator race that worshiped her.
Blibdoolpoolp: She still had the head of lobster, but as the human form did not yet exist on Toril, the conception of her did not involve a lower human half. Though what her lower half could have been remains unknown. Neither did the kuo-toa yet exist, so she was not their patron god during this period. It is unclear exactly who revered her, if she was a proper member of the Great School pantheon or not, or what portfolios she possessed. Perhaps vengeance?
Auril: After Dendar swallowed the sun, the surface of Toril's oceans froze over. It seems certain the aquatic creator race had need of a god of ice. If it is possible that Gruumsh began as an arch-fey that came over from the Feydeep, is it possible also that the Queen of Air and Darkness was exiled from the Feydeep at around this same time, and came to be worshiped on Toril as the god of ice? (See Brian James's article "Hall of the Frostmaiden" in Dragon #367, p.60 as a basis for this theory.) If so, maybe she appeared as a pale white octopoid, surrounded by a shimmering mist of ice crystals that would constantly form in the water around her.
These are the only ones I can think of for now that are transpantheonic, are not interlopers from other human pantheons, and who would likely be old enough to precede human life on Toril.
I can't say for sure if all these gods would have been known or revered by the aquatic creator race. And likely there were many more in the pantheon whose names are lost to time. Gods of portfolios that would have been uniquely important to aquatic races such as whirlpools, kelp, salt, sand, aquaculture, buoyancy, or even more alien concepts that would be hard for us as land-dwelling, air-breathing humanoids to appreciate. But these are my initial thoughts about what the proto-batrachi pantheon of the Great School may have been like.