Obad-Hai is the god of Nature, Woodlands, Freedom, Hunting, and Beasts, one of the most ancient known. He is also considered to be the god of summer by the Flan. Originally a Flan deity, Obad-Hai is most favored by druids and other nature priests. His holy symbol is a mask of oak leaves and acorns.
Obad-Hai is most often depicted as a lean and weathered old man of indeterminate age, dressed in brown or russet. He carries a wooden staff called the Shalmstaff, and is known for playing a woodwind instrument called a shalm or shawm. Obad-Hai can appear as a human, dwarf, gnome, or halfling, and has worshipers among all four races. He is also depicted in the forms of various animals or fey.
Obad-Hai has an unfriendly rivalry with Ehlonna, and is the sworn enemy of Phyton. He is an enemy of the vile nature deity Karaan. The Shalm is often grouped with Beory and Berei among the agricultural gods of the Flan.
The Hidden Wood of Obad-Hai is a patchwork of thick woods, open glades, and rolling fields. Explorers’ notes place the Hidden Wood in several specific locations in the Outlands, often near the gate-towns of Fortitude or Faunel. It’s rarely found at all except by travelers who become lost in the woods, and by those souls who were dedicated to the Shalm during their mortal lives.
Obad-Hai’s domain is nature in all its forms: wild and tamed, savage and domesticated. All four seasons exist simultaneously in balance within the Shalm’s realm. In the space of a quarter-mile, snowfields give way to forests draped in fall color next to orchards heavy with fruit and newly plowed fields. Creatures encountered within the Hidden Wood tend to be axiomatic or anarchic, but include a large number of Prime Material Plane animals, beasts, and plants. These creatures are usually hostile to travelers, an attitude that Obad-Hai encourages.
The Shalm has changed the magic traits within his realm. Spells cast by druids here are enhanced, and all spells targeting animals or plants are heightened. He has the power to make other changes to the traits of his realm if he wishes.
Petitioners serving Obad-Hai appear human and have the abilities of typical Outlandish petitioners. In addition, they gain the ability to speak with animals and plants at will. Petitioners are often gardening, herding, hunting, pruning, planting, or harvesting. Great feasts are common within the Shalm’s realm.
Obad-Hai teaches that one should live in harmony with nature, and that those who would damage the natural balance deserve swift vengeance. Obad-Hai’s faith is colder and less compassionate than Ehlonna’s, preaching death in balance with life. When followers of the Shalm hunt, they target the weak and sickly first.
Obad-Hai is revered by humans, dwarves, fey, gnomes, and halflings. His faith is strong among the Flan tribesmen in the Bright Lands, in Geoff, in the Gran March, among the Rovers of the Barrens, in Stonehold, in Tenh, in the County of Ulek, and in Verbobonc.
Obad-Hai’s clerics favor russet-colored clothing and simple quarterstaves. They have no hierarchy; all members are treated as equals. They keep to the wilderness and to themselves, rarely getting involved with society and often living as hermits. Most get along very well with rangers and druids.
Many druids of the Old Faith revere Obad-Hai. Druids of the Shalm are found within the Adri Forest, where they are led by Archdruid Immonara. Archdruid Reynard Yargrove in the Sheldomar Valley is another worshiper of the Shalm.
Temples of Obad-Hai are wooden structures in rustic settings, almost invariably laden with oak trees. The god’s shrines are often stone circles or circles of oaks deep in the wilderness.
Prayers in honor of the Shalm often begin with references to birth and growth and end with references to death and dying. Services involve the consecration of earth, fire, living flowers, and water. Rites in Obad-Hai’s name are seasonal, often triggered by events such as the year’s first birdsong or snowfall.
Worshipers of Obad-Hai work to protect the wilderness from dangers such as unnatural corruption or cataclysms, or from deforestation by woodcutters.
Worshippers of Obad-Hai consider Midsummer’s Night to be the holiest of all. All quarrels between the faith of the Shalm and other sects are set aside, and they join in celebration of the Oerth and the Balance they serve. This is considered the best night to harvest mistletoe.
Myths and Legends
Obad-Hai and the Summer Tree
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.