The Rise of the Maleficarum
The church operates under a strict hierarchy – questioning or disobeying the orders of a superior is an insult to Bane’s supremacy, and is punishable by torture, disfigurement, or death. The Church of Bane’s tyranny is known throughout the continent with Bane’s image most seen as the face of evil. When news of Bane’s destruction during the Time of Troubles made its way throughout Faerun, no fewer that twenty-seven nations declared national festivals of celebration and thanksgiving. The commoner sees Bane’s clerics as petty would-be dictators unafraid to use immoral tactics and unthinkable violence to spread their influence and agenda.
Cyric’s church is pledged to spread strife and work murder everywhere in order to make folk believe in and fear the Dark Sun. It supports cruel rulers and indulges in intrigue in such a way that the world won’t be overrun by wars (and thus fall under the sway of Tempus). His church is often beset by internal feuds and backstabbing, but this conflict has decreased in recent years as Cyric has gained better control of himself and has consolidated the churches of deities whose portfolios he took over. War has broken out between followers of Cyric and Bane.
The Church of Shar is an organization dedicated to spreading the dogma and carrying out the wishes of the deity Shar. Although the estimated one hundred thousand worshippers of Shar can loosely be deemed members, its true membership consists of the clergy of the church, who number around three and a half thousand. The faith is forbidden in many areas of Faerûn and this leads the church underground, practising in hiding much of the time. An element of fear is associated with the worship of Shar since many of her followers are willing to give their lives in her service.
The Red Wizards are the magocratic leaders of the country of Thay. The most powerful Red Wizards are the zulkirs, each specialized in one of the schools of magic. These eight choose the tharchions (regional governors) who handle the day-to-day leadership of Thay while the zulkirs scheme and plot to rule the entire world.
The Zhentarim, also known as the Black Network, is an evil organization intent on dominating the land from the Moonsea to the Sword Coast North. Originally a secret society, for years the Zhents have operated openly in the Moonsea area, particularly around their greatest base of operations, Zhentil Keep. People who live near Zhentarim strongholds grow used to caravans with its symbol but live in fear that someday they will see armies marching under that banner.