|Greater Power, "The Water Lord"|
|AoC: Water, wetness, purification|
|Worshippers: Water elementals, genasi, elementalists|
|AL: TN||WAL: Any|
|Symbol: A cresting wave|
|Home p/r: Elemental Plane of Water/Sea of Timelessness|
|Favored Weapon: Warhammer|
|Domains: Destruction, Protection, Travel, Water, Weather|
|Subdomains: Catastrophe, Ice, Oceans, Purity, Storms, Trade|
|Known Proxies: None|
The God-King of Water Elementals, the elemental lord of Water, is one of many deities that makes his home in the Elemental Plane of Water, but he is by far the most powerful. Those that follow him believe that the whole of the plane is merely a manifestation of his form, and though he grants an essential component of life, he does not provide life itself, seemingly caring little how his gifts are used. Among the more distant gods, Istishia is fairly uncaring in his interactions with his followers, his elemental status giving him a greater barrier of understanding that many who worship him find slightly alien.
Istishia is a fairly sedate deity, not having much in the way of relationships with other powers. He sees the battle between good and evil as a passing fancy, barely even paying note between the so-called quest for rulership between the good and evil archomentals Olhydra and Ben-hadar. The only major connection he has with any deity is his great foe Kossuth, the elemental lord of Fire. There is great enmity not just between these two deities, but between their followers as well, and the faithful of Istishia are charged with attacking those of Kossuth whenever they encounter one another.
The faith of Istishia is a fairly hierarchical one, with a single organized system of ranks applying over a number of sects, each expressing a different reflection of the beliefs of the Water Lord. Novice priests of Istishia are known as Searchers, until completing a number of one-on-one courses with a senior priest. Upon ascending from Searcher status, they have a number of titles associated with their rank, though these tend to be used only within the faith, being a bit too formal for day-to-day use. In order, these titles are: Essential Servant (full priest), Spring of the God, Tidal Messenger, Cephalian, Full Flood (senior priest), Monsoon, Typhonic Oracle (head of a temple or large shrine), Grand Oracle (senior or elder head of a temple), Stratus Primae (leader of a region's temples and shrines), and finally Delphine Regent (the hereditary leader of an entire plane's faith). In addition, those priests who manage to slay or otherwise soundly defeat an enemy of the church, most often a high-ranking priest of Kossuth or powerful fire-elemental creature, gain the right to add the honorific "True" before their titles.
Most Istishian priests garb themselves in blue-and-green robes, with coral decorations added on ceremonial occasions. The wave of Istishia is usually presented as a gemstone incorporated into a medallion, brooch, ring, or other form of jewelry; the gem itself is most often a jade, emerald, malachite, aquamarine, or water opal. While adventuring, priests have no restrictions on their garb, though most tend towards hues that suggest water, cooler colors or pure white.
There is little in the way of ritual amongst followers of Istishia, though each morning is begun with a quiet prayer said in his name over a drink of water, and each night ends the same way. Holy days are few on the planes, but on Prime worlds where he is worshiped, spring and neap tides are seen as joyous occasions, and times for festivals on the part of his various churches. Such times are also seen as occasions to encourage diplomacy between the surface-dwelling and water-dwelling sides of his church, with both branches exchanging emissaries through magical accommodations.
The sole other ritual held by Istishians is that of the Waveriding, a ceremony which is performed when a priest of Istishia grows strong enough to summon a true water elemental. This ceremony is preceded by an hour-long responsive reading and chant, after which the summoning itself is performed. After the summoning, the priest is carried by the elemental over a large body of water for a long ride, and upon the priest's return, the elemental is tossed garlands of flowers and gifted with drafts of fine wine and beautifully crafted pieces of jewelry or pottery to carry back to the Sea of Timelessness upon its departure.
The core of the Istishian faith is that of interconnection. Those who follow Istishia believe that all is cyclical, and though each of the elements has its place, water will always triumph. For though water may be transformed by its environment, it retains its nature and in turn transforms the environment it is in. "Earth dissolves through water, fire is extinguished even by steam, and air becomes clouds and then rain, completing the eternal cycle." The creation of pottery is a common task for novice priests of this faith, both as a source of income for their churches and to demonstrate how though all elements are connected, water in the end triumphs despite its mutability. Such priests use water to mold clay, dry the pots in the air, finish them with fire, and the pots are then used to carry water or other liquids; though water aids the process, the elements in the end bend to its needs.
Most sects of the Istishian faith try to avoid personal combat and direct confrontation in dealing with unbelievers where possible, instead working through the path of least resistance as water takes the easiest course to the sea. Istishian priests don't ignore those events going on around them, but rather prefer to work quietly through less-obvious paths, molding events around them subtly to accomplish their goals. Priests of Istishia tend to believe that if they are merely allowed to go where they will, the essential truths of Istishia will convince all of his power.
Searchers are commonly charged with the following instructions, statements embodying the faith that have been passed down from instructor to student for many generations: "The eternal Istishia acknowledges change but holds to his essential nature. Do not try to be what you are not; rather, excel at what you are and carry this message of personal excellence to the world. Be flexible but not unreasonable. As the rains flow down to the ocean in the folds of the earth and not up mountains, so do the truths of Istishia spread throughout the land through their natural routes, not through rank force. The mysteries of life are to be enjoyed and puzzled over, but realize that some answers do not come in this form or this world, but rather in the next. Realize that the cycles of life are mirrored by the cycles of fate; be prepared to pay the price of reap the reward for the actions of your past or your future."
- Faiths and Avatars, pp. 78-82
- Faiths and Pantheons, pg. 98
- The Inner Planes, pg. 56