The Shalm. N Intermediate power of nature, woodlands, freedom, hunting, beasts (He/Him)

Realm: Outlands / The Hidden Wood (moves, usually near Fortitude or Faunel)

Symbol: A mask of oak leaf and acorns

Pantheon: Flanaess (Oerth)

Obad-Hai, the Shalm, is an old-timer among the gods. Steeped in the lore of the wilds, he ain’t your average power of nature. He’s been around since the first leaf budded, and is a real favorite among the Flan, people of the Prime world Oerth. Obad-Hai is the power for who tread the green paths—the rangers, the druids, and all who hold nature dear. His symbol is a mask of oak leaves and acorns, speaks of his deep roots in the woodlands.

The Shalm himself is depicted as a lean and weathered old man, as ageless as the hills themselves. Clad in brown or russet, he carries a wooden staff, the Shalmstaff, a symbol of his authority over the wilds. He’s called the shalm because of the instrument he plays, it’s like a large flute-trumpet that creates a haunting melody that echoes through the forests and valleys, a song as old as the earth.

Now here’s a twist in the tale: Obad-Hai’s got a knack for shifting his shape. He can be as human as the next cutter, or a dwarf, gnome, or halfling, depending on his whims. And it’s not just the humanoid races he’ll mimic; he’s known to take on the form of various animals or fey, making him as changeable as the seasons themselves.

Speaking of seasons, the cycle of his life and death—now that’s a story that’s as barmy as it is beautiful. According to the Old Faith, Obad-Hai is reborn every spring, growing from a young boy into the Stag King and then into a weathered old man by the end of the growing year. When winter comes, he meets his end at the hands of Nerull, only for Pelor and Beory to ensure his return come spring.

As for his relationships with other powers, he’s in a bit of a rough patch with Ehlonna and is outright at daggers drawn with Phyton. And Karaan, that vile nature deity, is like the dark to his light. Yet, in the Flan pantheon, he’s often seen rubbing shoulders with the likes of Beory and Berei, gods of the agricultural sort.

Obad-Hai’s teachings are all about living in harmony with nature, about understanding that life and death are two sides of the same leaf. His ways though are perhaps are a bit harsher, a bit more unforgiving than some of the other nature gods. When his followers hunt, they go after the weak and the sickly first, a grim reminder that nature’s ways aren’t always kind.

Across the planes, Obad-Hai’s revered by a motley crew – humans, dwarves, fey, gnomes, halflings. The tribes of the Flan on Oerth hold him in particularly high regard, seeing him as a guardian of the wilds and a guide for those who tread the green paths.

Some graybeards suggest that Obad-Hai is an aspect of Silvanus, Cernunnos or even the King of Trees. That’s as maybe. Perhaps all of them are aspects of an ultimate nature power. Who can say, those powers move in mysterious ways, after all.

Canonical Sources: 

  • Deities & Demigods [3e] p86-88 (description of power)
  • Dragon Magazine #29 [1e] p29 (Obad-Hai avatar stats and background)
  • Dragon Magazine #342 [3e] p51,54,56 (initiate priests)

Source: Jon Winter-Holt

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