King of all Dragons
Divine Domains: Dragon,
Favored Weapon: Longsword
Cloaked in smoke, fire, and incense, hugely fond of gold, blood, and jewels, and the favored patron god of dragonkin everywhere, Baal is a figure of celebration, raucous festivals, and powerful impulses of noble sacrifice and even martyrdom in the cause of Mharoti conquest and glory. The jaws of Baal are huge and fanged, and—as his scriptures frequently repeat—“fires must be fed.” All his worshippers make sacrifices of gold and jewels, and most of all the sultan, who is believed to be under Baal’s special protection.
The god is sometimes male and sometimes female, matching the ruling sultan or sultana, but always resembles a red-orange dragon with golden teeth, eyes, claws, and horns, and black wings streaked with green and gold. The current incarnation of Baal’s visage is male, though many of his followers still use the female form from recent habit.
The Mharoti are the devoted followers of Baal, and they consider it an honor to have a son or daughter join the priesthood. Dragonkin make up the majority of his devotees, but humans and even some gnolls are fond of Baal’s extravagant confidence and sure protection. Baal watches over more than the sultan: he also protects every hearth in the empire, every child is his child, and every lantern, candle, or torch burns through his divine will.
Professional mourners and funeral attendants are also his followers, as are all the titled nobles of the Mharoti, for Baal protects authority and the divine rights of draconic ruling class. In that vein, all true dragons and most drakes worship Baal as their patron and protector.
Thirty or 40 orders of cavaliers, paladins, wizards, and priestly warriors revere Baal, from the Golden Lanterns of Harkesh (an order of fire wizards) to the Humble Knights of Searing Truth (zealous paladins). Thieves, merchants, dwarves, necromancers, and scribes are all banned from his temples.
Symbols and Books
Baal’s symbols are a horned dragon head and a leaping flame (rarely combined). His priests wear red, gold, black, and orange.
The teachings of the Lord of Fire are never written down, but instead are held in the memories and recited daily by the Baal-Shek, the learned priests who have memorized all 444 of the sacred stories of Baal. The final 44 of these are secrets unique to the priesthood of Baal, and it is said that those who learn them are all dragonkin who were raised from infancy by the dragon lords.
Shrines and Priests
The greatest temple of Baal is the Sultan’s Fire Shrine, which might once have been a modest chapel for the sultan’s private use but has since been decorated, ornamented, and expanded over the years with a dozen tall towers (set with jewels on their balconies and bell towers, to catch the light) and with a ceiling of pure hammered gold. Even dragons grow silent when first entering Baal’s sacred precincts. Also justly famous is the Shimmering Temple in the province of Kalpostan, the heartland of the Mharoti Empire.
The priests of Baal are the empire’s tax collectors, its front-line paladins and martyrs, and its financiers, for the Counting House of Baal is also the Sultan’s Treasury. The coin given to the priests of Baal is both a sacred obligation and a payment for the betterment of empire. Who could refuse to give the dragon his due?
Hasibe al-Harkeshi serves as the current chief of the priesthood of Baal. Elementalists and tophet guards and attendants accompany her everywhere, and she is said to sacrifice bars of pure gold to the god each week.
Some believe Baal is a mask of Aten, Chernobog, Khors, Loki, or possibly even Volund, but this is blasphemy within the precincts of the Dragon Empire. In practice, the god of fire has many children (as the Mharoti have it), and dozens of local fire-saints, fire demigods, and even flame dragons are referred to as Sons and Daughters of Baal.
Baal finds the slow rhythm and washing tides of Seggotan tedious, and the Fire Lord is a more active god than the other three elemental lords. Baal despises most human gods, especially the ancient and weak Southern gods as well as the vile gods of the Crossroads, schemers and tricksters such as Volund and Rava.
The greater rivalry, though, is with Khespotan over the proper treatment of souls and earthly remains. Baal favors cremation for the dead and Khespotan favors burial, and the two priesthoods fight street battles over the right to officiate at the funerary rites of major officials. Baal’s priests are quick to point out that all drakes and dragons insist on cremation.
What Baal Demands
Sacrifice gold, blood, and treasure to the dragon masters. Pray before a fire every day, and burn fat, meat, paper, and incense in his name. Avoid water; never swim or sail if you can walk or fly. Rage is a righteous and proper form of worship, but protect the innocent, unless their hour of sacrifice is at hand. Never write down the lessons of Baal, but keep them pure in your heart.
Source: Midgard Worldbook by Kobold Press