Ad Astra Per Arcana
Ptah The Opener of The Way
(The Opener of the Way, the Seeker of Hidden Ways, the Supreme Artisan, Creator of the Universe,
He From Whom All Life Emerged)
Lesser (formerly Greater) Power of the Ethereal, LN
Portfolio: Afterlife, Arts, Crafts, creation, creativity, designs, destiny, illumination, insight, inspiration, light, metalworking, space, spelljamming, Travel, Wildspce, Artists, artisans, craftsmen, illumination, travelers
Domain Name: Ethereal/travel/wildspace
Superiors: Re/Ra (dead)
Allies: Sekhmet (unknown in the Realms), Nefertum (unknown in the Realms), Seker (dead), Osiris, Thoth, Bast/ Sharess Sharess
Symbol: A mummified hand held high, palm forward with all but the middle two fingers spread; an Apis (a type of ancient and sacred bull – older, mostly used by groundling clergy, and never used in the Realms); a hawk-headed mummy with an ankh in his right hand (Seker)
Wor. Align: Any
Ptah (TAUH) is one of the most ancient of the powers. He predates even Re, but stepped down for the more vital, active power. According to legend, Ptah formed the Prime Material Plane, and the multiverse for that matter, out of the Ethereal and Elemental Planes, and created the Egyptian (Mulhorandi) pantheon of gods. Now, however, now he makes his own way as he wanders the Ethereal.
Where Thoth is the god of knowledge and science, Ptah is often viewed as the god of artists and designers. While the two gods have much in common, there are important differences. An architect planning a pyramid depends on Thoth for the mathematics to build it and calls upon Ptah for the inspiration that will make it a work of art.
In any case, Ptah is the source of inspiration and creativity, and as such, lovers of art and beauty call upon Ptah. In addition, just as Thoth’s priests claim that he created the universe (or instructed Ptah to do so to his specifications), so, too, do Ptah’s priests exert their claim to the founding waters. However, regardless of the claims of Thoth’s clergy, it is Ptah that is most commonly called Creator of the Universe.
The powers of Mulhorand and the fallen deities of Unther are ancient in origin and Ptah played a crucial role in bringing them to the Realms. Millennia ago, at the height of the Imaskari Empire, the wizards of that land wielded immense powers and in their pride refused to bow down to any divine entity. When the population of their lands collapsed in a calamitous plague, the godless sorcerers of the empire opened a pair of gates to another world. In a series of lightning raids, they captured countless slaves, brought them back to Abeir-Toril, and then permanently closed all connections between those lands and the Realms. Despite harsh repression from the wizards, the Mulan maintained their faith in the deities of their home world and offered up countless prayers for their salvation and emancipation.
Ao heard their prayers, and summoned the god Ptah, an ancient deity of Wildspace whose faith had originated in the home world of the enslaved peoples, the Mulan, and whose followers had recently discovered Realmspace, the crystal sphere containing Abeir-Toril. At Ao’s request, Ptah returned to his home world and assembled the two relevant pantheons of that sphere.
He explained what had happened to their faithful and conveyed the Mulan’s prayers for salvation. Ptah then relayed Ao’s invitation to the two pantheons to extend their sphere of influence into the Realms. Since the Imaskari sorcerers had created an unbreachable magical barrier between the two worlds that denied the entrance of the gods of the Mulan into Realmspace (in a process similar to that employed by the Scepter of the Sorcerer-Kings), the only way the pantheons could enter Abeir-Toril was to send avatars through Wildspace accompanied by Ptah. Ptah explained that their avatars would be cut off from their divine essences in the Outer Planes for the foreseeable future, and hence needed to be as powerful as possible if they were to battle the Imaskari wizards.
Both Ra, the head of the family of deities who would become the Mulhorandi pantheon, and Enlil, the patriarch of what would become the Untheric pantheon, agreed to Ao’s offer, as did many of their divine offspring. (Notably, Enki and his wife Nin-Hursag of the Sumerian pantheon did not enter the Realms, nor did Anubis, Nut, Shu, or Tefnut of the Egyptian pantheon.) Ptah led the gods’ manifestations through the darkness of Wildspace with a powerful artifact known as the Beacon of Light (described in Volo’s Guide to All Things Magical).
The two divine families landed on the highest peaks of a range of mountains on the northeastern edge of the Imaskari Empire known today as the Teyla Shan (Godswatch Mountains). There they further divided their remaining divine essences and created lesser, mortal forms of avatars, known incarnations. These incarnations descended into the fertile plain below and went amongst their long-forsaken peoples. The most talented they made priests, and the truly faithful were transformed into divine minions. (Ptah created no manifestation, incarnations, or divine minions, and hence was never worshipped by the Mulan. Nevertheless, the Mulan remember him as the founder of the Mulhorandi pantheon and the constructor of the oldest artifacts of great magic still in active use in Mulhorand, the three Chariots of Re.)
Before the overly complacent wizards realized what was occurring, their Mulan slaves rose in open rebellion. Having already expended much of their magic, the godless wizards and the Imaskari Empire quickly collapsed in a conflagration that devastated the land and created much of the Raurin Desert. The manifestations led the shattered remnants of the Mulan westward, into more fertile lands occupied by a people known as the Turami. The Mulan whose ancestors had primarily venerated Re settled with Re and his children on the eastern shore of the Alamber Se where they interbred with the Turami and founded the nation of Mulhorand. Enlil, his family, and their worshipers continued on to the western shores of the Alamber Sea where they founded the nation of Unther.
During the Orcgate War that came centuries after the destruction of the Imaskari, the manifestation of Seker the Lightbringer, a neutral-good lesser power of the afterlife, as well as the god of light, was slain in a mutually destructive battle with the avatar of Yurtrus, the orc god of death and disease. However, before leaving the Realms, Seker passed his power on to his ally, Ptah, and as a result, Ptah added the afterlife, illumination, and light to his portfolio. (In fact, on some worlds, Ptah is seen as an aspect of the tripartite-being – much like the elven deity Angharradh – Ptah-Seker-Osiris, a composite deity of creation, death, and afterlife.)
However, Ptah’s commitment to and interest in the Lightbringer’s small church was less than what it should have been, and he allowed Seker’s temples, mostly located among the eroding plains of Raurin, to become covered over by the sands of time and the Raurin Desert. The church eventually devolved into a cult (with most of the faithful turning to Osiris) and then largely disappeared from Abeir-Toril with the church of Ptah taking in many stragglers with the truth of Seker’s demise. Today, there are only a handful of cultists who still call upon Seker. In addition to Ptah’s absorption of Seker’s portfolio, his faithful also include destiny among the lesser aspects of his portfolio.
Aside from Thoth, Ptah remains somewhat aloof from his fellow Egyptian gods, except for his wife, Sekhmet, the lion-headed goddess of vengeance and punishment and the protectress of the righteous; and his son Nefertum, the god of the lotus and unguents, as well as medicine in general. (Much like Nut, Shu, and Tefnut, Sekhmet and Nefertum did not enter Realmspace as most of their fellow powers did.)
Ptah wanders the Ethereal Plane, his faithful believe, due to the Misty Shore’s relative proximity to the Elemental Planes – which are often considered the ultimate sources of creation. This status as a creator god and a traveler god have made Ptah a popular name to invoke for aid and guidance among Ethereal and inner-planar travelers, as well as Wildspace travelers. He is known and worshipped in nearly every known sphere of existence. Moreover, unlike almost all other powers, Ptah is even said to be approachable by mortals. (Though mortals had best tread carefully around the god – Ptah seems to feed off the Ethereal, and he can send a mortal literally anywhere in the planes. It has even been suggested that Ptah can drop a being in another god’s realm without that power’s permission.)
When Ptah sends his avatar into the world, it normally takes the shape of a powerfully built shaven-headed man with a beard and jet-black skin. However, his avatar’s form may resemble either a human or dwarf in stature. His eyes reflect the universe and contain the fire of creativity that is the inspiration of all artists. Moreover, Ptah exudes a feeling of strength and power. He is most often portrayed wearing a black skull cap and white skirt.
Ptah is a clever and dynamic god with a great love of art and beauty. He smiles upon craftsmen who produce works of great quality and will sometimes send his avatar to assure that such persons receive the recognition they deserve.
Ptah can call upon any of the domains or schools for his spells.
Clergy: Clerics, monks
Clergy’s Align: Any
In crystal spheres where the Egyptian (Mulhorandi) pantheon is worshipped, Ptah is revered as the god of artisans. However, most spelljamming priests of Ptah are spaceborn and look down on their groundling cousins as having lost sight of Ptah’s true glory as the creator of the universe. (In addition, it may be that this lack of Ptah’s worship by the “groundlings” of Toril, assisted the Mulhorandi god-kings in keeping their nation, more or less, isolated in the wake of empire until the recent Godswar.) It is because of this aspect of the Ptah’s portfolio, that of creator-god, that he has become a popular name to invoke among Ethereal and inner-planar travelers.
Ptah is seen as the source of inspiration, creativity, and creation, and as such, lovers of art and beauty call upon Ptah, as do many healers. Moreover, priests of Ptah are expected to be artists, artisans, and scholars themselves.
Ptah’s priests tend to equate Ptah with whatever ruling god they happen to encounter to show that Ptah is the true ruler of the pantheon. In Realmspace, for example, the priests of Ptah proclaim Ao, the overgod of the pantheon of the Realms, as an avatar of their god. Similarly, so to are Odin, Zeus, and Paladine. These proclamations are usually disturbing news to the followers of these gods within their spheres. Thus, while the worshippers of Ptah are pandemic, they are not popular with the established local churches in any of the spheres.
To become an avowed follower of Ptah is extremely easy. Nearly every sphere contains a flock of priests eager to help convert those seeking Ptah. There is a traditionally a small donation (10-20 gp.) for the conversion, although the petitioner may substitute a small handcrafted item made by his own hands.
The Temple of Ptah is open to beings of any race, although Ptah’s worshippers are predominately human. Most members of other races who join, especially planewalkers or spelljammers, are viewed as pragmatists taking advantage of the special magical benefits that accrue to the followers of so wide-ranging a god. So long as they make regular donations, however, they are treated as well as any human member.
Ptah’s priesthood has many clerics existing on Prime worlds where the Egyptian pantheon is worshipped (though a few make it to Wildspace). Ptah also sponsors a small order of itinerant monks who primarily travel through Wildspace and the Inner Planes. His priests are known as wayfarers due in large part to their extensive traveling throughout the Inner Planes and Wildspace. The itinerant priesthood has a small number of known clerical ranks. In ascending order they are: supplicant, inerrantist, missionary, ingressor, theofarer, demiurge.
The faith of Ptah has few steady allies. Outside of Wildspace, the church tends to get along with the clergies of the other established faiths of the Egyptian (Mulhorandi) pantheon, though they have no love for the clergy of Set. In addition, the faith has also developed a relationship with the Planewalker’s Guild. The clergy tend to have very little opinion about most of the major factions of Sigil and the multitude of sects from the Outer Planes. Nevertheless, the faithful generally believe the Athar are dangerously blasphemous, and the Sign of One are almost so, while the Doomguard and Dustmen are simply demented. The ptahians see the Ethereal-based Believers of the Source as rather likable, though the Godsmen don’t seem to quite get that Ptah is the ultimate source of the divine they purport to believe in.
While Ptah’s clergy has developed few allies outside of those of their god’s native pantheon, within Wildspace, they have developed a more complex set of relationships with the other prominent spacefaring organizations. The Seekers, a group dedicated to knowledge, are in frequent contact with Ptah’s priests as their wide access to many spheres makes them a prime source of general knowledge, but the Seekers are justifiably suspicious of the priests’ information when it turns to theological matters. The Shapers, a spacefaring organization that represents the wizard school of invokers, have supported the priests of Ptah in the past, and there are a number of spaceports where a Shaper monopoly on wizardry is paralleled by a Ptah monopoly on priestly magic. Both groups see themselves as bring order to the cosmos, and taking the “wild” out of Wildspace. When the priests of Ptah turn to force as a way of converting recalcitrant peoples, they often employ the Trading Company, a potent mercenary force, as its businesslike attitudes mitigate any conflict with the priests.
On the other hand, while many spacefaring people find the priests of Ptah irritating, few truly hate them. The Pragmatic Order of Thought, a group founded on the ideas that all people deserve liberty of thought and freedom, finds the monochromatic theology of the priests of Ptah stifling, and this has caused some friction over the years, even spilling over into the Order’s relationship with the Trading Company. The Xenos, an entirely human organization with a rabid hatred of other races, hate the priests of Ptah (of course, they hate just about anyone) because Ptah accepts demihumans into his priesthood. While the priests of Ptah have verbally attacked the Celestians, worshipers of the Greyspace-based deity Celestian, on theological grounds, the Celestians have only ignored these protestations.
Dogma: The clergy of Ptah are instructed as follows: “Ptah gave life to the other gods by means of his heart and his tongue. The conception of thought in the heart and the speech of the tongue determine the action of every limb. Ptah’s presence is universal in the heart and mouths of all beings. By pronouncing the identity of everything, the authority of his utterance was such that all creation came into being. Whatever the eyes see, the ears hear and the nose breathes goes straight to the heart and the conclusion reached by the heart is spoken by the tongue. This is how Ptah commanded all the gods into existence and how he became He From Whom All Life Emerged. Ptah is the complete synthesis of mind and the material world. He is the intellectual principle of creation amalgamated with the physical image of life itself. As such, he is superior to all other gods.” As a result of this theology, the faithful must honor their god by visiting that which he has created, traveling the Prime, or better yet among Wildspace and the Inner Planes that make up all that is.
There is little in the way of what most would consider morality, good or bad, in the teachings of Ptah. At best, his doctrine could be described as supporting a general benign indifference in regards to such issues.
In addition to the above teachings, one doctrine that remains from the days when Seker’s clergy joined Ptah’s is a hatred of the undead as unnatural monsters to be destroyed by the light.
Day-to-Day Activities: The priests of Ptah are among the most forceful proponents of religion in the Known Spheres and the Planes. They are found throughout the Spelljammer universes, and to a lesser degree among the Inner Planes, preaching the superiority of their god. They are fanatical in their zeal to convert people to the way to Ptah, and use the fact that they can receive their clerical spells in all the spheres to prove the superiority of Ptah over other gods. Followers of Ptah are expected to assist one another, especially those who travel the planes and crystal spheres. Priests, and even lay members, are also encouraged to find others who wish to join the temple. (Very often, these members establish themselves as intermediaries between new converts and the priests. They collect the temple donations from the members they introduced, and keep 10 percent of the new members’ donations for themselves. Nonmembers, mindful of Ptah’s origins, refer to this as a pyramid scheme.)
Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: Ptah’s holy days take place on the new moon every month, during which precious stones are propitiated, especially jade.
For all their dogmatism, the priests of Ptah are surprisingly easy to get along with once you have converted. Members of the temple must donate a small work of art (purchased for 5-10 gp., although works made by the member’s own hand are preferred) to the temple upon leaving or entering a crystal sphere or plane. This is usually done during brief ceremonies in which the member says good-bye to his old priest and introduces himself to the new ones. Further donations of 1-2 gp. per standard month are also required, but these may be waived if the member is not able to pay.
Major Centers of Worship: The priests of Ptah claim their god created all of the crystal spheres, therefore they have chosen no one spot as a supreme center of worship or headquarters.
Affiliated Orders: Ptah has no official knightly orders. However many planewalkers and spelljammers are dedicated to his name and the spread of his worship. Ptah does sponsor an itinerant order of monks, the Order of the Hidden Ways. This order is in constant motion, traveling alone or in small groups, and almost never sets foot on a major Prime world, preferring instead to travel among the spheres and the Inner Planes discovering new inspirations to spark their creativity.
Priestly Vestments: Ptah’s priests don gray robes trimmed with scarlet. Males shave their heads upon attaining the fourth or higher levels, while the females wear long hair at all times. Land-bound faithful often wear white robes trimmed with black and silver. They also adorn themselves with ornaments of jade. The standard holy symbol of the faith is the ankh (which Ptah is credited with creating).
Adventuring Garb: When expecting battle, priests of Ptah will don armor and black helms, arming themselves as they see appropriate. The most common weapon the faithful train in is the scepter (treat as footman’s mace). However, the versatile and unassuming quarterstaff is also a very popular weapon among the followers of Ptah.
Unlike the clergy of most powers, in the Wildspace of any crystal sphere, Ptah can grant his faithful the normal allotment of spells they may cast. However, on the planets within crystal spheres that Ptah is not worshipped, Ptah cannot award spells over the 3rd-level. However, much like the clergy of other powers, wayfarers are cut off from Ptah while in the phlogiston and unable to replenish their spells through prayer until they leave the phlogiston.
Priests of Ptah who are planewalking cannot be cut off from their god if they are anywhere on the Ethereal, regardless of whether they are in the Border or Deep Ethereal, or even its numerous demiplanes, including the Demiplane of Dread.
The priesthood of Ptah is reputed to have made priestly variants of many of the wizard spells often used in Wildspace, the Inner Planes, and the Ethereal. Moreover, due to their wide travels, they are also said to have access to many of even the rarest priest spells known across the Multiverse.