Nature, Woodlands, Hunting, Beasts
Air, Animal, Earth, Fire, Plant, Water
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In the World of Greyhawk campaign setting and the 3rd Edition default pantheon of deities for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, Obad-Hai is the god of Nature, Woodlands, Hunting, and Beasts, one of the most ancient known. He is often called the Shalm.
He is also considered to be the god of summer by the Flan. Originally a Flan deity, Obad-Hai is most favored by Rangers, druids and other nature priests. His holy symbol is a mask of oak leaves and acorns.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Description
- 3 Relationships
- 4 Realm
- 5 Worshippers
- 6 Artifacts and relics
- 7 References
- 8 Additional reading
- 9 External links
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)
Obad-Hai was first detailed for the first edition of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game in the article "The Deities & Demigods of the World of Greyhawk", by E. Gary Gygax in Dragon #69 (January 1983) with game statistics on page 29 and a description on page 30, including a black-and-white illustration by Jeff Easley. This information is presented again by Gary Gygax in the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting boxed set (1983), on pages 72-73 of the booklet "A Guide to the World of Greyhawk" with game statistics on pages 44-45 of the "Glossography For the Guide to the World of Greyhawk" booklet.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
Obad-Hai was one of the deities described in the From the Ashes boxed set (1992) by Carl Sargent for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons second edition Greyhawk campaign, appearing with a description and requirements for members of his priesthood on pages 89-90 of the "Atlas of the Flanaess" booklet. The Greyhawk Player's Guide (1998) features a color illustration of his holy symbol on an insert.
Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)
Obad-Hai appears as one of the 19 deities worshipped among the common races, by adventurers, and by villains, described in the Dungeons & Dragons third edition Player's Handbook (2000) by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, with notes for Obad-Hai on page 92. Obad-Hai's role in the third edition Greyhawk setting was detailed in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000) by Gary Holian, Erik Mona, Sean K Reynolds, and Frederick Weining, on page 178. Obad-Hai is described in detail in the third edition Deities and Demigods (2002) by Rich Redman, Skip Williams, and James Wyatt, on pages 86-88, including game statistics for the deity, as well as his avatar (earthly manifestation).
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)
"The Deities & Demigods of the World of Greyhawk" in Dragon #69 reveals that Obad-hai is the god of nature, wildlands, freedom, hunting, and wild beasts. His alignment is given as Neutral, and his holy symbol is described as an oak leaf and acorn. The article refers to Obad-hai as "The Shalm", describing him as "an archaic deity of nature and wildlands, one of the most ancient known", and explaining that he can appear as a lean and weathered old man of indeterminate age, dressed in brown or russet and carrying a hornwood staff, or he can appear as a dwarf, gnome, or halfling. It is further explained that he can assume the form of a centaur, pixie, satyr, sprite, treant, or in the form of various animals. The article also explains that Obad-hai "loves nature and wilderness. He is a patron of druids and a friend to those who dwell in harmony with their natural surroundings. Characters or creatures who despoil or wantonly harm either animal or vegetable life are his foes."
The third edition Player's Handbook notes that Obad-Hai plays a shalm, and this instrument is where his title comes from. His favored weapon in this edition is the quarterstaff, and his clerical domains are Air, Animal, Earth, Fire, Plant, and Water.
The article "The Deities & Demigods of the World of Greyhawk" explains that because of his neutrality and favoritism towards creatures such as satyrs and centaurs, Obad-hai has a rivalry and antipathy with Ehlonna.
A chart on page 180 of the Planescape reference book On Hallowed Ground (1996) gives his realm the name of "The Hidden Wood", which can be found on the plane of the Outlands. This information is also found in a table in Warriors of Heaven (1999).
The article "The Deities & Demigods of the World of Greyhawk" relates that Obad-hai was worshipped by the Flan before the invading Aerdi arrived. The article explains that most of his spellcasting followers are druids, but that a few others are normal clerics who commonly wander as pilgrims wearing russet garments and carry staves. The article also notes that temples of Obad-hai are wooden structures in rustic settings, and services are adorned by earth, fire, living flowers, and water.
The "Atlas of the Flanaess" booklet in From the Ashes notes that the worship of Obad-Hai has spread throughout the Flanaess but is most revered by druids who live in very wild places, such as those of the barbarians and other underpopulated lands, and that he also has worshippers among the gnomes, dwarves, and halflings.:90 The Greyhawk Player's Guide notes that his worshippers include hunters, woodsmen, and "many rustic males".:19
The third edition Player's Handbook notes that barbarians, rangers, and druids sometimes worship him, and the book suggests that he is the god most commonly worshipped by druids. The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer adds that most of his followers are male, and "serve as protectors of nature, acting as the agents of retribution when their protection is insufficient or too late. They teach hunting in the way that nature's creatures do". That book also gives a perspective on the relationship between Obad-Hai and his followers: "One should live in harmony with nature in all of its variety. Those who destroy or otherwise harm nature deserve swift vengeance in an appropriate manner. Those who are one with nature have little to fear, although the well-meaning but foolish are sometimes brought down by a danger they could not avoid or divert. The wilds can be ugly, dangerous, or terrible, but these things are a part of nature and should be respected as much as those that are beautiful, harmless, or wonderful." The third edition Deities and Demigods states that the clerics of Obad-Hai have no hierarchy, treating all those of their order as equals, and keep to their wilderness, rarely involving themselves in society. The book adds that while temples to Obad-Hai can be located nearly anywhere, they are usually amid groves of oak trees.:87
Complete Divine explains how clerics of Obad-Hai receive their training: "Obad-Hai's adherents learn to become one with the Shalm in isolation, surrounded by wilderness. Only at the beginning and end of a new cleric's training does he receive guidance from a senior member of Obad-Hai's clergy. The rest of the time is spent living off the land and developing an instinctive connection to Obad-Hai's will. Not surprisingly, Obad-Hai counts more druids among his followers than clerics." Common quests for Obad-Hai's followers involve those perform services such as to protect a forest from woodcutters, cleans the corrupted heart of a swamp, or prevent a dwarven mine from unleashing a volcanic eruption. Prayers and psalms in honor of Obad-Hai often begin with references to birth and growth and end with references to death and dying. His temples, marked by groves of oak trees deep in the wilderness, are defended by dozens of guardian animals and other denizens of the wilderness, who are generally content to observe visitors from a distance. The book also notes that rites in the name of Obad-Hai are seasonal, triggered by events such as the first songbird of spring or the first snowfall of winter.
An article on the Wizards of the Coast website for the Living Greyhawk column describes that, according to the ancient traditions of the Old Faith, Obad-Hai is reborn every spring, hatching in the form of a young boy from the fruit of a sapling that grows from his own grave. By summer Obad-Hai takes the form of a strong young man, the Stag King, leading the Wild Hunt against those who would defile Nature. By autumn he has grown into the weathered old man of his standard depictions. When winter begins he is slain by Nerull, who hangs his corpse on the Summer Tree. After seven days, Pelor cuts him down and buries him in the earth, where Beory's tears cause a new sapling to grow, which drops the fruit that hatches into the young Obad-Hai once again in the spring.
Artifacts and relics
According to "The Deities & Demigods of the World of Greyhawk" in Dragon #69, Obad-hai carries the Shalmstaff, a magical wooden staff that "allows its bearer to walk tirelessly without food or water for as long as desired. Animals will never harm the bearer. For the bearer of the staff, vegetation will part to allow easy passage." The article also notes that when Obad-hai discards the staff, it will instantaneously fly to the nearest hornwood tree, remaining there until he summons it.
Complete Divine gives two examples of relics of Obad-Hai - the armor of the fallen leaves (pages 92-93), and the staff of the unyielding oak (page 102). The armor of fallen leaves is a relic sewn together from actual leaves by Ehlonna and presented as a gift to Obad-Hai during a time when they had better relations.:92-93 There are three staves of the unyielding oak. These staves are actually treants who have willingly bound themselves to quarterstaff form in order to aid followers of the Shalm. They have the ability to reassume their treant forms at the command of their wielders.:102
- Gygax, Gary. "The Deities and Demigods of the World of Greyhawk." Dragon #69 (TSR, 1983)
- Gary Gygax (1983). World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting. TSR.
- Carl Sargent (1992). From the Ashes. TSR. ISBN 1-56076-341-8.
- Anne Brown (1998). Greyhawk Player's Guide. TSR. ISBN 0-7869-1248-0.
- Johnathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (2000). Player's Handbook. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0786915501.
- Gary Holian, Erik Mona, Sean K Reynolds, Frederick Weining (November 2000). Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1743-1.
- Redman, Rich, Skip Williams, and James Wyatt. Deities and Demigods (Wizards of the Coast, 2002)
- Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (2003). Player's Handbook. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0786928867.
- David Noonan (May 2004). Complete Divine. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3272-4.
- Colin McComb (1996). On Hallowed Ground. TSR. ISBN 0-7869-0430-5.
- Perkins, Christopher. Warriors of Heaven (TSR, 1999)
- Menge, Eric. "Power Groups: Druids of the Old Faith." Wizards of the Coast. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2008. Available online:
- Steven Confonti (March 2005). Living Greyhawk Official Listing of Deities for Use in the Campaign. Wizards of the Coast. . Available online:
- There is an article about Obad-Hai at the Great Library of Greyhawk.
- There is an article about Obad-Hai at the Planescape Encyclopedia.
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