A number of deities influence the lives of mortals in Midnight Sun. Some gods act as protectors to specific guilds, other gods' influence is more subtle, but an event is almost always the result of their whims, benevolent or malicious. The gods also hold tremendous powers over the realm of death - remember this, for it may aid you in the future...
Hades rules over the kingdom of death which goes by the same name. He also has power over the riches of the earth, the precious metal that lies hidden deep within it. His nature is relentless and unpitying, yet he is fair and just; he is formidable but not wicked. As hard as it may be to comprehend, he is merely lord over the dead, but not death itself, which is Bhaal's power. Hades is rarely worshipped, as there is nothing which can sway him from his beliefs. His human shape is dark-skinned, dark-eyed and handsome, despite the deep scar that runs across his face; however, in combat, he appears more as a vile humanoid, fanged and hideous, his eyes a flame. However, it is a rare occurrence for him to appear on earth, as he is an unwelcome visitor.
While being one of the oldest deities, Lathander appears as a young man, and young is the spirit of all that he stands for. Creation, birth, rebirth and renewal are central to his teaching, the dawn being a daily reminder of the power of life over death and the new hope that arises, giving the ability to turn any setback into a success. New growth is vital to his church; new ideas lead to progress, therefore innovation is always blessed. His followers are urged to aid and protect, to drive out evil, and to encourage civilisation to progress and perfect itself. While he often appears exuberant and vain, his enthusiasm for life stirs the optimistic, perseverant nature of his priesthood, and they strive to follow his doctrine through every new day.
Silvanus is fixated on balance. Whether the balance is between the forces of nature in the wild, or between life and death, he works against those who disturb the balance by destruction, hence his stance against Talos and Malar, and is wrathful towards those who threaten wild things. His followers tend to live in and rely on remote places, and will often tend to sick animals and plant new flora in public to promote Silvanus' kindly image and to attempt to serve the natural balance. Offerings to him are usually wooden items, but certainly never blood. He is seen as fatherly, protective and helpful, and only opposes beings who set out to interfere with the natural cycles of life, death, flood and fire. For him, every situation should be anticipated, reason should prevail, and hostile actions should be the only basis for confrontation.
Tempus believes in a certain kind of balance. To him, peace and war have little meaning without the presence of both to contrast each other; to him neither good nor evil is a more worthy ally. He does not win battles himself, nor back a certain army for any long-term campaign, but through his random support he lends his aid to all deserving warriors equally. War is something brought on by civilisation, but which civilisation itself relies upon to keep a certain peace. He hates to witness dishonourable fighting, cowardice and trickery; he dislikes uncontrolled bloodshed or the unconsidered consequences of war. His worshippers are encouraged to abide by rules and keep their battles short, efficient and respectable, and not to shy from death, but to remember the fallen. Respect is one of his most renowned teachings, for all foes have their own strengths. It is seen as most dishonourable to undermine your opposition to make yourself look greater - true greatness can only be maintained through ability.
Known only through rumour and thought of as a dark, malevolent being, Tharizdun stands for absolute eradicative force, obliteration of all that is known, and a threat to everyone and everything. The collective powers of the other deities combined were used against him, yet stopped short of being able to destroy him; instead, he has been imprisoned in slumber, where the realms are safe from his influence. Tharizdun is associated with reduction of strength, fatigue and paralysis, as well as mental illness and hallucination. It is believed that, in his uncompromising evil, only the insane can possibly worship him, as they would not be excluded from being exterminated in his awakening. Those who support him are fanatical, and wish to channel enough power to their master to free himself from his sleep; he in turn appears in their dreams to impart his will to them. Even in his tormented sleep, Tharizdun dreams also; his dreams of disaster and decay summon up nightmarish creatures to plague the realms.
The figure of Bhaal is rarely seen in the realms, and few are brave enough to hazard mentioning his name. With the title of Lord of Murder and generally seen as the god of violence and premature death in all forms, this is hardly surprising. He is a god who witnessed his own death, and who takes special delight in watching the untimely demise of the most innocent. His followers, unknown in number, worship him in secrecy, and are responsible for transporting souls from this world to the next. Naturally, he revels in all violence, and with every ritual killing comes an increase in his power.
Crom's guise is that of a middle-aged man, a soul who has experienced what life can bring, but still has plenty more to give. His favourite proverb, "Hope is the last that dies", gives away his desire to see the triumph of good in battle, though he is thought to prefer no battle at all. Indeed, Crom is known to be a powerful fighter himself, and has been known to aid those undermined by deceptive practices in battle, for the sake of a just conclusion. He embodies many of the differing meanings of hope: he breathes a sense of optimism and desire for good, in addition to the firm belief of the promise that it will come. His followers are expected to fulfil their intentions, without leaving their deeds undone. And he is someone on whom his followers can centre their expectations: he will be their hope.
Freja, both beautiful and youthful, is the deity of love and fertility, and travels to respond to her followers' requests to deal with matters of the heart. It is thought that her sympathy for this weakness indicates that it is not merely a mortal failing, and that she too has had her share of trouble. She is often portrayed with a charm pouch at her belt, and the falcon-feathered cloak that becomes her skin when she embodies the noble bird, while in her human form she has been seen pulling a cat-drawn chariot. Like most women, she is indulgent in the sensual pleasures, which she sees as key to a happy heart; she loves poetry and music, and is fond of gold and jewels. Spices she sees as awakeners of desire, and flowers are valued for their colour and perfumes. She is pleased by a person's beauty both inner and physical.
The influence of Lolth (or Lloth, as her name is sometimes spelt) is a strange concept; jealous of the power of the overland gods, she has kept her place by perpetuating evil rumours about the ghastly acts she has commanded, and keeping as many as possible fearful of her, as fear is a strength and the next best thing to worship. Strongly believing in her own superiority over all other beings, she is malicious to others and loves to trick them; she will pit her worshippers against each other, and even her most loyal followers hate and fear her but carry out her deeds for the minor power she gives them. She is cruel, impulsive, temperamental, and volatile, and thrives on seeing anyone tortured. She despises love and respect for undermining ferociousness, yet she will gladly aid those she has a desire for. To her, combat should be vicious and deadly, and will expel the weak and useless from the realms.
The followers of Malar, the savage deity that he is, love the glory of the wild hunt, preferably where there is danger to both predator and prey, so that the kill is all the more satisfying - all the more satisfying if others can witness its bloody end, and tremble in the presence of Malar's power. Fear in the hunted is despised, but his worshippers also delight in this; weakness, however, is seen as a sin and hardly revelled in at all, for fighting a weak opponent reduces the triumph in the kill. The exception, however, is that Malarites believe firmly in the survival of the fittest, and that by the slaughter of the weak they can play their part in the evolution of all beasts. To them, survival is an honour, yet death in battle is greater still; life and death go hand in hand, giving meaning to each other. Followers of Malar dislike the perceived weakness of those who promote the gentle, neutral side of nature, and will fight against the deities of civilisation and peace.
Mielikki strives to protect the balance of the wild, which puts her at direct odds with Malar, the beast lord and advocate of the hunt. While death is an accepted part of the balance of life, she and her followers cannot bear to see suffering or injury done to beasts, and will heal them wherever possible. Her worshippers take the responsibility of protecting the forests, and teaching respect for forest life, and among them healing, planting and servitude are the most admired qualities. To her, the wild should be embraced and its ways followed, not feared, and that one should plant anew where death fells. Her followers believe destruction should never be required for the benefit of another, and those who hunt wild animals for fun should be punished at all costs. Mielikki is good-humoured, confident, protective and fiercely loyal; she serves Silvanus, and rides into battle bareback on a Unicorn.
Mystra is devoted to her godly tasks, and rarely appears to mortals as a result. She is not just the goddess of magic, but also of the possibilities that magic unfolds; she provides and maintains the Weave of Essence, the raw force of magic, and has become so intertwined with it, she appears to embody it. She encourages her followers to study magical theory, learn new magic, and love magic for itself, rather than as a means of exerting force, as the threat of it is often enough, and to preserve magic lore in case the weave were to be damaged. She is displeased by worshippers of an overly proud and arrogant nature, who rightly see their privilege in being able to use it, but misunderstand the premise of a real spellcaster, to whom real wisdom is the knowledge of when not to use the Art.
The god of elemental water, Istishia embodies water in its various forms. Her interests are in travel and swift progress; like the ebb and flow of the seas and streams, and the ever-changing clouds, rain and thunder. She dislikes a stubborn mind and has interest neither in fixed, unevolving ideas nor highly-structured bodies of worshippers. While she has power over fertility and freshness, and the ability to give or take life at will, she has little interest in where these are targetted, and her powers are rarely used. This is just as well, as while she has the capacity of extreme, destructive force, she more usually approves of consistantly wearing away at the enemy, weathering down their defences. She has little interest in confrontation and prefers to follow the path of least resistance, like a river flowing to the sea.
Selune is a quiet, calm goddess, and her followers worship her personally, dancing and offering wine or milk; this, together with the Sun's prominence over the moon in the realms, have led to the popular idea that she is little cared for under the Midnight Sun. However, her beliefs are widely upheld among the majority: they aid others as though they are friends; they are accepting of other beings; they promote acceptance and tolerance, and often even accept others as equals. To this end, Selune's influence is widespread, even if her worshippers are few. She changes like the moon itself, and gives a kindly light to those who wish for her blessing. She admires the great who act with humility, and watches carefully over navigators and questers.
The god of rebellion, inferno and the destructive aspect of nature, Talos' worshippers are few and far between, and often devote themselves to him through their utter fear of the unknown. While his power can protect through storm, fire and earthquake, if it is needed it will most likely be down to his ever-changing whim whether he grants such favours. This impulsiveness is an integral part of his worship, as his followers live for the present, not out of optimism but in the knowledge that they may be destroyed at any moment. His actions are crazed, and often done solely to appear powerful, proving himself by devastating those who cannot oppose him. Those followers who are not committed through fear admire his short temper and love the chaos and destruction his power brings, and threaten Talos' revenge in blackmail. Progess, learning and the mild side of nature are despised by him, and he is equally despised by the other gods.
As a mortal knight, Torm obeyed the commands of his masters, regardless of the danger they posed to himself. His service, however, was rewarded greatly by being anointed the god of Duty and Justice, whose followers strive to maintain law and order against corruption and trouble. While appearing austere, determined and unrelenting against his enemies, his principles are of charity and honour, and in dealing with the faithful, the young, the sick and the weak he shows the compassion and gentleness that one would expect from a righteous god. His passions are support, sanctuary, teaching and guidance, in addition to respect, obedience and faithfulness. Every failure of duty diminishes him, and every success increases his powers.
One area where the influence of gods is especially marked is the rotation of celestial bodies. The science of astrology studies these cycles and their effects. It is also said that praying at a god's shrine at a time when the stars favour that god can bestow powerful blessings, even more pronounced for those who were born under the same sign.
Throughout history, scholars have also speculated about how divine influence is reflected in the geographical layout of the realms. While this is hardly more than speculations that remain yet to be proven, you can read more about the hypothesis if interested.