In the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, Baravar Cloakshadow (BARE-uh-vahr CLOKE-sha-doh) is the gnomish deity of illusions, protection, and deception. He creates traps and illusions of stunning complexity and cunning. He is somewhat mean-spirited compared to most of the other gnomish gods, and his pranks may cause even his friends real pain, at least emotionally. He genuinely hates the kobold, goblinoid, and orcish races, believing they cannot be expected to reform. His symbol is a cloak and dagger.
Baravar Cloakshadow was first detailed in the book Monster Mythology (1992), including details about his priesthood. His role in the cosmology of the Planescape campaign setting was described in On Hallowed Ground (1996). He received a very detailed description for his role in the Forgotten Realms in Demihuman Deities (1998).
Baravar appears as a young, dark-haired gnome with beady eyes. He is very alert and vigilant, and always dressed in dark clothing. He is a thief, though not a terribly competent one, making up for his lack of physical expertise with confounding illusions. He wields a magical poison-dripping dagger called Nightmare, and a magical garment called the Shadowcloak.
In many campaign settings, the gnome pantheon of gods, also called the Lords of the Golden Hills, consists of the leader Garl Glittergold, as well as Baervan Wildwanderer, Baravar Cloakshadow, Flandal Steelskin, Gaerdal Ironhand, Nebelun, Segojan Earthcaller, and Urdlen. Baravar is allied with all of the gods of his pantheon, except Urdlen. Baravar works with the former gnomish god of magic, Segojan Earthcaller, to advance the arcane arts, and with Calladuran Smoothhands, for many svirfneblin are experts in magical deception. Gaerdal disapproves of Baravar's deceptive nature, and sometimes seeks to thwart his schemes.
Baravar's enemies include Abbathor, Kuraulyek, Kurtulmak, Urdlen, and the various goblin gods, but dislikes the deities of all evil humanoid races. He does not restrain himself in expressing this hatred either, visiting all manner of cruel pranks upon them when he can.
Baravar lives in the gnomish realm of the Golden Hills on the plane of Bytopia. His domain there is called the Hidden Knoll; it is filled with tricks and nonlethal traps, which Baravar continually changes. Those able enough to avoid these hazards are permitted to freely take the treasures Baravar stows there for that purpose.
Baravar teaches that deception is the only reliable way to find safety in the dangerous world. His followers are encouraged to develop their own abilities of deception and to avoid complete trust in anyone. Followers of Baravar may hope for the best, but they must be prepared for the worst. Harsh practical jokes are encouraged as a means of vengeance. Baravar's followers try to maintain the facade of being law-abiding citizens, though they are taught that laws should be readily discarded if it is more convenient to do so. They devote themselves to their art and to those they love.
Baravar is the primary gnomish god of magic, and as such he is revered by gnome wizards of all subraces, as well as those gnomes who create magical items and all those who must survive by their wits. Those who often have to battle kobolds and goblins revere him especially. Where evil humanoids are concerned, "Do unto them before they have a chance to do unto you" is both their motto and their god's.
Clerics of Baravar work to further refine illusion magic, and they quest for new illusion magic and magical items. They are researchers and adventurers. They are encouraged to be proficient in camouflage, disguise, and hiding. They are well regarded among gnomes for their efforts against kobolds and goblins. Dwarves often exhibit dislike of Baravar's clerics, who with their deceitful ways embody all that a typical dwarf distrusts about gnomes.
Novice clerics of Baravar are known as the Cloaked. Full priests are given the title of Illusory. Apart from that, they have a wide variety of titles, changing them as suits their purposes in order to disguise exactly who leads whom. Specialty priests are known as Hoodwinkers.
On ceremonial occasions, Baravar's clerics wear black hooded cloaks, gray cloth masks, and carry ornate silver daggers with wavy blades. They used tarnished miniature versions of these daggers as their holy symbols. Adventuring clerics wear the garb of rogues, including dark gray or black cloaks.
Baravar's temples are never presented as such, being usually disguised as some unrelated type of building and further cloaked with hidden doors, traps, and illusions.
Baravar's holy nights are when Luna is new.
Once a month, when the Mistress is hidden in the sky, Baravar is honored in a ritual known as the Cloaking. The location and nature of this ceremony is constantly changing. Most often it is performed in public places, with the celebrants challenged to prevent the uninitiated from ever realizing what's going on. For this reason, unexplained gatherings of gnomes are sometimes referred to as "meetings of the Illusory."
Typical offerings to the Sly One are realistic illusions depicting objects the casters have sensed. The more convincing these illusions are, the better the Master of Illusion is pleased.
Rob Bricken of Kotaku identified Baravar Cloakshadow as one of "The 13 Strangest Deities In Dungeons & Dragons", commenting: "This Gnomish deity is the god of illusions, protection and deception. He's also the god of "hatred of goblinoids," the races of monsters who tend to gives gnomes the hardest time. While goblins are patently evil in the D&D-verse, they are sentient, making Baravar is a God of Very Specific Racism."
- Sargent, Carl. Monster Mythology (TSR, 1992)
- McComb, Colin. On Hallowed Ground (TSR, 1996)
- Boyd, Eric L. Demihuman Deities (TSR, 1998)
- Boyd, Eric L, and Erik Mona. Faiths and Pantheons (Wizards of the Coast, 2002).
- Conforti, Steven, ed. Living Greyhawk Official Listing of Deities for Use in the Campaign, version 2.0. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2005. Available online:
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