||Greater Deity (Divine Rank 17)|
Symbol: bay leaf
Alignment: True Neutral (Uncaring)
Portfolio: plants, harvests, wines
Worshippers: farmers, foresters, druids
Cleric Alignments: TN, NG, NE, LN, CN
Domains: plant, protection, sun, water
Favored Weapon: scythe
Animal Totems: boar, deer
The followers of Barith protect the plant-aspect of Nature,
and believe in the power of the 'living spirit' of Gaeleth. They are
charged with sewing and protecting the harvests of the land, be it for
consumption by the faithful, or for consumption by the creatures of
nature. The church's responsibility is to shepherd the faith of those that
care for the land, including the animals that feed off of the harvest.
Some members of the faith take care of wines and other alcoholic beverages
derived from plants. All followers look forward to the day when Barith is
once again as powerful as he once was.
All who have seen the Harvest God agree on his appearance, regardless of their race. He appears as a moderately-sized man in his mid-fifties, with shaggy hair gone to gray at the temples and in the chin of his beard. His face is lined with the years of weather, and his hands are the callused and gnarled hands of a veteran farmer. Barith wears a simple cassock made of thick white cotton, and has a large straw hat upon his head; coupled with his woven fiber
sandals, he appears at first as a simple farmer, but his eyes are unmistakably those of a god.
As their world crumbled around them during the Prism Wars, the men and women of Gaeleth cried out in anguish, starving and shocked by what had become of their world. In the first year after the end of the
Prism Wars, many priests could pray to their gods, and be answered with nourishment and water, but their prayers were not enough. Too many begged for food and drink, and too many craved the mind-numbing effects of wine and ale. As well, the lands had been
devastated by the powers of the mages, and the damnations of the priests; what top soil was left ran away with the rains and the storms. As farmers tended to weak and dying fields, the first Chosen of Barith found the Harvest God's Relic while plowing. Near to death and desperate to feed his family, Zhves Nyar found the strength of faith he needed in the newfound god -- and his fields grew in the cloud-choked sun and the salt-poisoned earth. Zhves went on to become one of the great Chosens of that time, turning an era of suffering into the Age of Survival. Barith's faith spread, from farmers to druids, rangers to herbalists. As each millennium passed, the new order of Barith grew stronger and deeper in faith, spreading its leaves and driving down deep roots. The druids rose under Barith's direction, and began to reshape nature, creating a balance where there had been none before.
During the Shaping Wars, the solitary Barith found his church pitted against a variety of nations and causes, fighting each of them to maintain the hard-fought balance. In the end, only Barith remained; the power of the druids, the farmers, and the men of plants was assured. As the Age of Peace slowly rolled on, the power of the Harvest God grew even more. Avard
Karatikan, creator of the Karatikan Alliance, began a slow and peaceful campaign to unite the world under the rulership of the druids, making Barith the dominant god. When Nathel's armies invade, the lightning strike was the first in a storm of strikes that would slowly erode the tree of Barith, withering its roots and cracking its boughs. When the wars were over, the druids' hold had been burned away, both with the destruction of the land, and with the combined power of the other gods. As the
Inquisition grew, the Church of Barith held its peace, taking the time to heal itself and the lands themselves, though it would never again regain its former glory.
The Harvest God's Relic was stolen by the archon Nabrol from its temple housing in the Vadent Mountains. The guardians of the relics were a powerful group of ranger/druids sworn to its protection. They were able to track the Relic to the Dark Continent, Shadareth -- and there the Relic was lost to them. Unable to penetrate the perilous waters surrounding the Dark Continent, the guardians were forced to turn back again and again, even as their numbers diminished through the centuries.
Barith's Chosen lost a great deal of his titular power when Avard Karatikan died at Rhythis Keep, during the formation of Lake Kiriath. Since that time, the
Disciples have taken up most of the real power, leading the various cardinals and their congregations from the Nation of the Sebre Druids. The church itself is still quite strong, though it lost its political influence with the heads of nations. Farmers continue to sew their crops and reap their harvests, lending their quiet and gentle faith to the Church of Barith. The druids, however, have been
devastated. The once-powerful orders within the church have fallen into disarray, with petty squabbling over leadership consuming the heirophants. Many regions of forests and lands once balanced by the druids are uncontrolled, with the balance of nature established by the druids long ago disintegrating. In the controlled lands of the other gods, their clerics and followers maintain a balance of their own that stands in contrast to that of the millennia-old intent of the Church of Barith. Recruitment continues for more druids to replace those lost by the Storm Wars, and to replace the ranks of the priests. Many temples and
monasteries remain closed, overgrown against the day when priests of the Harvest God will return to reopen them. The only bright spot is the priests that specialize in the making of wines, ales, and other spirits distilled from plants; their tithes help keep the church afloat during the hard financial times of the Inquisition.
Druids of Barith gain the Plant domain as though they were a cleric of Barith of the equivalent level. Priests of Barith cast all plant-based or plant-affecting spells as though they were one level higher.