The Time of Troubles, also known as the Godswar or Avatar Crisis, was a cataclysmic time period in the chronology of the Forgotten Realms Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting. Taking place during the Year of Shadows, 1358 DR, the Time of Troubles was a period during which the gods of Faerûn were forced to walk the earth in their mortal avatar forms. Several major deities died during the Time of Troubles, and a handful of mortals rose to divinity.
The Time of Troubles was precipitated by an attempt by the gods Bane and Myrkul to steal the Tablets of Fate from the overdeity Ao. Angry at the gods for their habitual pursuit of power and negligence toward their mortal faithful, Lord Ao relegated every god (except for the guardian god Helm, selected to protect the gates to the heavens) to walk among their followers on the earth. The immediate effects of this edict were threefold. First, divine magic (spells granted to clerics by their patron deities) ceased to function altogether. Second, arcane magic (a force channeled from The Weave by wizards and sorcerers) ceased to be regulated by its steward, Mystra, and became dangeously unpredictable. Third, the characteristically immortal and aloof deities were now vulnerable (though devastatingly powerful) and dwelling among the civilizations of Faerûn.
The Time of Troubles coincided with the release of the second edition of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game, and events in the story reflected changes in the game rules. For example, the demise of the assassin cults in Faerûn reflected the fact that the assassin player character class was discontinued in AD&D Second Edition. Similarly, in the comic-book series based on the Forgotten Realms, a wizard notes that after the upheaveals in magic caused by the Troubles, some of his spells had changed in power and effect; and indeed, the game rules for those same spells had been revised.
It is interesting to note that for a brief time, one side-effect of the Time of Troubles was the creation of 'wild magic' and 'dead magic' zones in Faerûn. These were relatively small areas of Faerûn's geography where magic behaved unpredictably, in the case of a wild magic zone, or ceased to operate at all, in that of a dead magic zone. The concept of wild and dead magic zones, interesting though it was, was abandoned soon after it was introduced, though a dead zone was mentioned at least once in printed Realms fiction — Realms of Mystery, one of several Forgotten Realms short-story anthologies, makes mention of a specific area that is a dead magic zone.
Deaths, ascensions, and resurrections Edit
The Time of Troubles was a time of significant turnover among the gods of the Faerûnian pantheon. Several deities were "destroyed" (see below) during this period. The following are deities who were killed or incapacitated during the Time of Troubles.
- Bane, greater god of tyranny, strife, and hatred and one of the Dead Three gods, was slain in a climactic battle with the demigod Torm in battle outside of Tantras.
- Bhaal, intermediate god of murder, was slain by the young mortal Cyric with the sword Godsbane, resulting in the poisoning of the Winding Water river west of the Boareskyr bridge.
- Gilgeam, demigod and king of Unther, was slain by Tiamat.
- Ibrandul, a lesser god of caverns, was destroyed by Shar, who still masquerades as the dead deity.
- Leira, lesser goddess of deception and illusion, was slain by Cyric.
- Moander, demigod of decay, was slain by Finder Wyvernspur.
- Myrkul, greater god of the dead and another of the Dead Three, was killed in a duel with Mystra in the skies over the city of Waterdeep.
- Mystra, greater goddess of magic and among the most powerful of the gods, was in turn destroyed when she attempted to bypass Helm at the Celestial Staircase.
- Ramman, Untheric lesser god of war and storms, was slain by Hoar, but his portfolio was stolen by Anhur of the Mulhorandi pantheon.
- Torm, demigod and patron deity of paladins, was annihilated by Bane with his dying breath.
- Waukeen, lesser goddess of wealth, attempted to reclaim her divinity during the Time of Troubles, but was imprisoned in the Argent Palace, enslaved to the demon prince Graz'zt. While she was imprisoned her portfolio was temporarily subsumed by the goddess Lliira.
However, death is anything but permanent in the Forgotten Realms, and many of these deities have in some way circumvented their own destruction:
- After Bane's death, his portfolio was divided among the newly anointed god Cyric and Bane's own half-demonic son Iyachtu Xvim. Upon the death of one of the greatest forces of evil in existence, all of Faerûn breathed a sigh of relief; however, in 1372, Bane was resurrected, destroying Iyachtu Xvim and reestablishing his church.
- Bhaal had already foreseen his own demise, and had populated the world with scores of his own progeny in past years, all as part of a grand scheme for his own reincarnation. This master plan is the basis of the Baldur's Gate computer game series.
- Myrkul infused the sinister artifact the Crown of Horns with the remnants of his essence, and teleported it away. While its location is unknown, the semi-sentient artifact is presumably fomenting a plan for Myrkul's resurrection.
- Though Ao had decreed that none of the gods fallen during the Time of Troubles should be reinstated, a complex convergence of factors regarding Torm's death led the overgod to make a single exception in his case, resurrecting him and elevating him to the status of lesser god.
- After a decade of isolation from her followers, Waukeen was freed from her prison in 1371 DR by a band of adventurers, and has resumed her place in the heavens.
Furthermore, a selection of mortals were chosen by Lord Ao to ascend to the heavens to fill the void left by those deities who died:
- Cyric, a petty, sadistic mercenary, slew Bhaal with the sword Godsbane (actually the god Mask in disguise). After the end of the Time of Troubles, he was granted control of nearly all the portfolios of the Dead Three by Ao, making him briefly the most powerful of the gods.
- Kelemvor, a sullen adventurer, was granted Myrkul's portfolio by Ao, and has since striven to change the horrifying image of death promoted by his predecessor.
- After her death, the goddess Mystra entrusted her essence with the young mage Midnight, who ascended after the Time of Troubles as the new Mystra.
- The exceptional adventurer Finder Wyvernspur absorbed and adapted Moander's portfolio, and is now the patron of the circle of life.
Finally, Lord Ao lifted the barrier that prevented the Mulhorandi god-kings from reuniting with their divine selves on the Outer Planes. The physical incarnations of the Mulhorandi gods departed Faerûn and left governance of the empire to mortal rulers under their guidance.