- 1 Valbrinach, God* of Favors and What-Is-Owed
- 2 Domains
- 3 Names and Epithets
- 4 Clergy and Temples
- 5 Sects and Cults
- 6 Tenets of Faith
- 7 Dogma
- 8 Champions and Avatars
- 9 Embodiment and Portrayal
- 10 Enemies and Allies of the Faith
- 11 Immortals
- 12 Thieving Guilds
- 13 Other Gods
- 14 Similar Guides
Valbrinach, God* of Favors and What-Is-Owed
Once upon a time, a mortal was born into a time of misery, hardship, and suffering. They learned to survive on ingenuity and cleverness, and naturally came into a career as a thief. Over time, the thief became renown for acts of daring and amassed a great ill-gotten treasure.
They used their wealth to buy influence. They found other suffering souls and taught them how to steal, and became a guild. More money, more influence. They used their expanding wealth to alleviate the suffering of others. It was charity born of ego, not altruism, yet their fame grew regardless. The thief's larcenous legend became a string of ever increasing risks leading into truly stupefying rewards; the last of which was the mantle of the God of Favors.
The thief had an unwelcome reception among the gods. Partially for not having earned honor in life, but especially for the impertinence of stealing their way to godhood. The other gods were unable to cast the newly-made God of Favors down, so the gods instead took their mortal Name and bestowed upon them the title Voel Bri'nacht.
Without their mortal Name, the God of Favors was made bereft of their mortal notoriety. As a deity, Valbrinach had only a meager following, but even one True follower has more potential than every living soul simply knowing a name.
Now, Valbrinach, God of Favors and What-Is-Owed seeks recompense from their fellow gods, and schemes to build a following large enough to command the respect of the entire pantheon.
Valbrinach has dominion over the metaphysical value of Favors and What-Is-Owed; broadly interpreted as all kinds of favors, boons, debts, vows, pledges, oaths, or other immaterial exchanges, both altruistic and avaricious.
That dominion was what prevented them from being cast down immediately upon ascension: The God of Favors could not be stripped of their powers without being Owed something of equal value, a sizable Debt among gods indeed. Instead, the gods took the thief's name and branded them voel bri'nacht (meaning 'one who moves (up/ahead) quickly/first') as a backhanded way of saying "upstart rookie."
Valbrinach grants stealth, cleverness, ambition, and material rewards to their followers as repayment for their obedience and devotion.
Names and Epithets
Valbrinach is reverently named "The Uprisen One," "The Glorious," "The Famous," and "The Trustworthy." Often derided as "Lord of Charlatans" or "Swindler King," Valbrinach and their followers find such infamy preferable to anonymity; However, Valbrinach takes epithets questioning their godliness, like "Impostor" or "False God" personally, and so do their followers.
Clergy and Temples
Formally, the church of Valbrinach is called "The Great and Hallowed House of Vel Bri'nacht", or succinctly, "The Hallowed House." There are two major organizations in the church: Treasury of Favors, where Bards engage in public outreach, and the School of Theology, which is where Clerics are trained (in many more things than theology).
Valbrinach's mortal life as a thief and crime lord inspired the church's subtle-yet-aggressive approach to evangelism. The School of Theology finds or creates a crisis of faith in a community, and then shows the community how Valbrinach is the answer. Then the Treasury of Favors moves in to maintain a permanent presence, which provides the church with steady income to fuel further growth. Both The School and The Treasury have 'outpost' branches that operate secretly in places where Valbrinach is not yet welcome.
The School of Theology
The public mission of The School of Theology is to perform the Favor of caring for orphaned children on behalf of the community, hopefully to be Repaid in worship. In actuality, The School of Theology is essentially a spy recruitment and training organization.
The School teaches faiths of many religions in order to prepare potential Clerics to operate under cover. An added benefit is that The School is more welcome (or at least less objectionable) in multicultural areas. In regions that are less metropolitan, The School operates orphanages entirely under the banner of other gods.
As much as practical, The School guides adoptions toward families already within the faith. The children receive an above-average education while being subtly evaluated for perfidy and mischief. Children who show aptitude are accepted into The School's secret mission of sending clerics of Valbrinach to undermine and discredit other gods.
Clerics of Valbrinach
Valbrinach The Trustworthy sends their clerics to regions where other gods are dominant. There, the clerics disguise themselves as clerics of the predominant faith and begin to undermine the local faith. Disruptive tactics include, but are not limited to: * Preaching and unpopular or divisive sermon. Especially if it could create a wedge between the church and local government. * Intentionally flubbing a minor miracle; especially if the result can be interpreted as an ominous omen (e.g: harvest prayers answered with a plague of insects). * Sermons that are subtly ridiculous, like being delivered with foolish accent, or willfully overlooking modern vernacular. * Stealing venerated relics and replacing them with fakes. * Exposing _actual venerated relics as fakes. * Behaving lasciviously, or encouraging "fellow" church members to engage in sinful acts. * Stealing or skimming from donations to the church. * Stealing wealth from regional political or religious influencers, both as a means to upset the local order and fund The Hallowed House.
On graduation from The School of Theology, Clerics of Valbrinach are granted the holy symbol of the church, a travel scale, and a The Tale of Daring, the holy book of Valbrinach. Both items are enchanted**. Once a sunset, one or both items can be made to appear as the holy symbol and holy text of a different faith.
In it's default state, The Tale of Daring is an excitingly-written anthology of heists attributed to Valbrinach. Once glamoured, can appear as the standard-issue holy text of any other god. Upon closer inspection, subtle subversive edits become apparent. Double-negatives, malapropisms, misspellings, etc. twist the meaning of the original text into something conforming to Valbrinach's ethos.
The scale is usually a short bronze chain with a hoop at one end and the other end attached to a pin, which bisects a rod. Each end of the rod ends in a hook. When glamoured, the will have the shape and weight of the disired holy symbol. Additionally, a spell cast to detect the alignment of the cleric (and only the cleric) will reveal an alignment conforming to the cleric's disguise.
Clerics of Valbrinach who are undercover use hand signals or code- and counter- phrases to recognize each other. They are forbidden from wearing or possessing anything that does not help them maintain cover.
Students who go through the training but do not have the skill, temperament, or desire to become clerics usually become part of The Treasury of Favors, but there are pernicious rumors "no one leaves the church alive" after learning Valbrinach's secrets.
If pressed on the topic of ex-clerics, a serving cleric may say that even if such a blasphemous rumor has any truth, then no one leaves the church "alive" simply because no one leaves the church! Certainly, the spiritual and tangible rewards for serving The Uprisen One are so great that there is no need to enforce loyalty with threats! …Of course, that would be coming from a cleric whose god commands: "Thou shalt not suffer a snitch to live."
The Treasury of Favors
The Treasury of Favors is most-often described as a beer hall that is sometimes mistaken for a church. In fact, the Treasury of Favors secretly runs actual breweries in areas where The School of Theology has not yet prepared the population to receive The Uprisen One's Great Covenant.
The breweries sell barrels and funnel the profits back to the church. Often, breweries use labels or names alluding to Valbrinach's lore, and the barrels are additionally marked with coded symbols indicating the religious climate where the brew originated. e.g: A traveling cleric who spies a barrel of Crowned Crow stout look a little closer and find the Reverse Stroke sign etched into the barrel. He may then inquire about where the beer came from and learn that it came from a brewery in South Bottleneck. The message would mean: South Bottleneck has fallen on hard times, and may be open to entering The Great Covenant.
Surprisingly, in areas where The Hallowed House is operating openly, the Treasury of Favors is not open to the public. Worshipers are expected to keep what goes on inside strictly secret. However, unlike The School of Theology, what goes on inside The Treasury is simply low-level revelry, not distinguishable from what might be found in an luxury beer hall. Secrecy around The Treasury is meant to be talked about; It cultivates an air of camaraderie and exceptionalism in members, while inspiring curiosity in non-members. An added benefit, the sometimes suspicious interactions between clergy are more likely to be overlooked by worshipers acclimated to a veneer of harmless cloak-and-dagger theatrics.
Bards of Valbrinach
Students of The School of Theology who aren't selected to become clerics are often (not always) encouraged to become proprietors in the Treasury of Favors. For many, The Treasury is a venue to regale worshipers with songs of daring adventure from a forgotten age. Meanwhile, clergy use the cover of worship to peddle political and financial influence. Using The Treasury's unofficial motto: "Soft power and hard cash."
Sects and Cults
Clerics travel often to help maintain thier cover, and carry messages from one group to another. Consequently, the internal messaging of the church is clear and consistent. Splinter sects are a rarity, even compared to other organizations with such sparse and disparate membership.
There is one apocryphal idea within The Hallowed House that seems perennial: Valbrinach was never truly mortal and is actually the bastard scion of an unidentified god. This idea invalidates the theological engine of The Hallowed House ("As Valbrinach ascended, so can you ascend!") and is swiftly quashed.
Tenets of Faith
Lay faithful believe that Valbrinach is a mortal who ascended to True Godhood via cunning and tenacity. Which is true! Valbrinach was (very briefly) a True God, but their near-immediate relegation to demi-god status is not publicized.
Valbrinach ascended not because they stole, but because they had goals and worked toward them consistently and relentlessly until they achieved their ambition. Unlike other religions that focus on spiritual enlightenment only, Valbrinach teaches that achieving material attainment and spiritual enlightenment are the same.
The central promise of The Hallowed House is The Great Covenant: "What is Owed will be Repaid," the idea that Valbrinach will Owe their Faithful for the Favor of worship.
Worshippers to the Treasury of Favors are expected to have spiritual and worldly desires, and are encouraged to pursue their personal goals with the support of the church, while also supporting the church in exchange.
That The Great Covenant promises actual, practical, material benefits is the greatest selling point of Valbrinach's message. However, it is also the most dangerous part of the message, since the church often executes on The Great Covenant via fraud, bribery, or extortion.
Initiates into The School of Theology are the only members aware of Valbrinach's status as a demi-god, and that by bringing the faithless and doubtful followers of other gods into the worship of Valbrinach, Valbrinach will ascend to an irrevocable state of True Godhood.
They also interpret this goal to imply, per the Great Covenant, that spiritual ascension (i.e. immortality) will be part of their 'cut' when Valbrinach becomes a True God.
Champions and Avatars
Clerics who graduate the School of Theology use assumed names and prefer to go un_noticed. When caught by worshipers of another god in an act of blasphemous sabotage, the last act of many champions of Valbrinach is to claim (by standing order of The Hallowed House) that their name _is Valbrinach.
As a demi-god, Valbrinach does not have any avatars. The explanation for the conspicuous lack of a mortal embodiment varies, but it's usually a parable that alludes to their former mortality and ends, "…and that's why you never pull the same job twice!"
Embodiment and Portrayal
If Valbrinach has ever appeared before their followers, there is no evidence of it.
Revelations from Valbrinach come in the form of the same sublte signs and signals that alumni of The School of Theology use to communicate, but in mischevously supernatural ways, like finding a coded scroll dead dropped within solid rock, or the Sigil Oaxs inside a freshly-laid egg.
Valbrinach is artistically symbolized as a crow or fox near, with, or stealing a crown. Clerics often point to depiction of any crow or fox as the artist alluding to their god, but truthfully, Valbrinach The Glorious is rarely depicted in works of art outside the church.
Depictions of Valbrinach in corporeal form consistently describe them in raiment of gold, purple, and red. The Hallowed House has no particular stance on Valbrinach's gender or race, and will gladly cast thier god as a male or female of any race, depending on the traditions of the local culture; _i.e: In a matriarchal Elven society, Valbrinach is female Elf sitting atop a pile of mythril; in a patriarchal Dwarven society, a male Dwarf sitting atop a pile of diamonds. If a member of The Hallowed House were asked about that discrepancy, they would remark that both piles of wealth are very high indeed.
Enemies and Allies of the Faith
Faeries and the rouge-ish branches of the Fae family tree tend to view Valbrinach as a kindred spirit, and deal with members of Valbrinach's flock in good faith. Similarly, Lawful Demons keen to bargain with mortals treat Valbrinach's servants with professional courtesy. Very long lived beings, like dragons, may recall being personally robbed by a then-mortal Valbrinach, and could still be nursing grudges.
Criminal organizations not already pledged to some god of ill-gotten gains are often the first converts to Valbrinach's straightforward message of reciprocity. Many 'outpost' operations of The Hallowed House pay dues to the local guilds and do their best to stay in good standing, so a cleric in need will have assistance should the time come.
Supercilious gods of law, justice, and morality are especially frequent targets of Valbrinach; they find Valbrinach extremely irksome, but do not usually count The Charlatan King among their chief concerns.
Gods of nature and magic, with whom Valbrinach is often antagonistic, feel Valbrinach's upsetting of the Natural Order very troublesome, and try to stop expansion of The Hallowed House as much as practical.
As a half-mortal, Valbrinach still has a fearful level of respect for gods of death and other psychopomps.
The Hallowed House avoids antagonism with 'minor' gods; either because Valbrinach wishes to appear 'above' them or out of sympathetic understanding as a fellow 'minor' god. Regardless, the general stance of The Hallowed House regarding all manner of class conflict is: "Punch up, not down."
Chaotic and/or Evil Gods
The Hallowed House does not actively pursue the followers of Evil gods as a practical matter; it's high-risk low-return.
Valbrinach hates the gods of war, strife, and chaos that made their mortal youth so painfully trialsome. They would gladly ally themselves with nearly any being to wound the reputation (or person) of a god who disperses the kind of indiscriminate suffering that takes parents from children.
Codex of the Gods Wiki
**At the DM's discretion, of course.
- Don’t be afraid to make your Cleric a heretic
- former necromancer class?
- Why I love this game so much: A DM’s experience
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