Azuth, the High One, the Patron of Wizards, the Hand of Sorcery, the Lord of Spells, the Lord of Spellcraft. To the people of Faerun Azuth is the god of wizards, Mystra’s friend and servant.
The stories and legends surrounding Azuth indicate that he was a powerful mage that studied the magical lore of a dozen fallen empires before battling the fledgling deity Savras for the heart of Mystra and access to the Weave. Azuth was the first Magister, and he ascended with Mystra’s help to join her in Dweomerheart as her servant and guardian.
Azuth has secretly steered and controlled the course of magical development (on Mystra’s orders) in Faerun for a millennia, aiding, tutoring, and saving the Chosen.
Azuth’s origins are a mystery to all except the High One himself (and Mystra). Some claim that he is a Netherese Archmage or Imaskari Artificer, but despite these assertions no mention of his name can be found in the annals of history of either magically mighty nation. It is possible that he arose in the aftermath of the fall of an empire such as Netheril or Imaskar, and that his origins are an accident of creation from the magical chaos that accompanies the fall of great and powerful magocracies.
Whatever his origin, Azuth is known to have studied the magical legacies of many fallen empires, until he came into conflict with a demigod of Halruaa, known as Savras. Azuth and Savras fought across Halruaa and the Shaar for unfettered access to Mystra and the Weave, ultimately Azuth won the battle and ascended to godhood to serve at Mystra’s side.
That however is only part of the story.
Azuth was one of many scions of Netheril (Savras and Leira included), that learned of the true nature of the Weave and the existence of Weave Anchors, through which one can control a portion of the Weave. They also learned of the sentiences hidden inside the Weave that formed the being known as Mystra.
Seeking to control all the Weave Anchors, Azuth reignited a secret war that had been fought for millennia between the two most dominant identities within the Weave. In order to win the war for his patron (Mystra), he battled Savras and Leira for control of a powerful Weave Anchor hidden in Halruaa. The fallout of this battle caused much damage to the realm and raged out into the Shaar for control of other Weave Anchors.
At the end of this wizard war, Azuth was victorious, taking the monikar “The Lord of Spells” from Savras. Savras was imprisoned in a staff known as the Sceptre of Savras, and Leira vanished, never to be seen again.
With his control over the Weave Anchors unrestricted, Azuth achieved magical heights undreamed of even by the Netherese Archmages. He attuned himself directly into the Weave, earning a measure of control over it such that he could limit, augment, or imbue those around him with magical powers. He became the first Magister and gathered unto himself a great following in the southern lands that would coalesce into the Church of Azuth as time passed.
Eventually, Azuth even managed to merge his soul, his essence, his mind into the Weave, becoming what is known today as a Weave Ghost, but much more than any other Weave Ghost before him (with the exception of Mystra) because he was attuned to so many Weave Anchors, and his unique nature allowed him to invest all of himself into the Weave.
Azuth persists today as the Weave Guardian (a special state far and above all other Weave Ghosts), able to manifest a visage of his former self anywhere within the Weave at a single thought. He can communicate directly with anyone currently affected by the Weave (which includes anyone on Faerun), as well as being able to use any spell stored within the Weave (any spell that has ever been cast using the Weave) at any target within the Weave. With these abilities Azuth has saved the Chosen of Mystra many times. Thanks to his unique origins, Azuth is also able to transfer a portion of his consciousness into a number of constructs known as the Favoured, leading many to think he has avatars.
Azuth is not a true god, he lives within the Weave as a powerful Weave Ghost (known as the Weave Guardian) that will never fade and be absorbed into Mystra. His powers, however rival and mimic those often attributed to the gods and so he has been classified by divine experts as being a Demi-god and a Lesser God over the centuries.
Azuth is the Weave Guardian, he is part of the Weave (although he is not the Weave itself and so is not omnipresent or omniscient within the Weave like Mystra), and as a result his domain is anywhere that the Weave touches. He can manifest with a thought, anywhere that the Weave touches, likewise he can communicate with or monitor anyone within the Weave.
As a single sentience he can still only perform a limited number of activities at a time (although he has learned over the centuries to monitor several individuals at once) and has established a number of alerts that can bring certain activities to his attention – such as the use of specific sigils and wizard marks by those who do not own them (in particular the sigils of the Chosen of Mystra have been protected in this way).
Azuth’s final resting place (the point where he merged with the Weave) is with the Weave Anchor in Halruaa, and his material form likely still resides in the catacombs beneath the House of the High One Ascendant. If his attention were focused more often anywhere it would be here.
Azuth has accomplished many great things during his long life. He survived the Fall of Netheril and plundered the ruins of that ancient civilisation in his quest for knowledge. In the process he acquired the Old Staff and bent it to his will.
It is likely that the activities of Azuth were responsible for divorcing the Nether Scrolls from the Weave, and bringing stability to the Weave in the decades following the death of Mystryl.
Azuth is the Guardian of the Weave and can call upon many of the allies hidden within the Weave that serve Azuth or Mystra. In addition to that, Azuth has his own church and military orders that obey his every command (through the high priests of the Church of Azuth).
Shadowstaves: Shadowstaves are beings that have shed their mortal bodies (either through death or through choice) and learned to survive within the Weave as a shadowy, vaguely humanoid being that is able to regain vitality from concentrations of magic (spells, wards, magic items, etc), most often they hide within staffs (hence their name).
Shadowstaves are most often former magisters and powerful servants of the Church of Azuth, Mystra, and Savras, so these churches must have learned of the secret to becoming a Shadowstaff (possibly from Azuth himself), but there are instances of creatures that resemble Shadowstaves that have no affiliation to either organisation and so may have discovered the process for themselves.
Azuth is able to call upon the services of any Shadowstave (those created by his church or not), and it appears they are unable or unwilling to disobey his requests (as the Weave Guardian he could likely destroy them with ease). It is the ultimate fate of all Shadowstaves to fade into the Weave entirely and be absorbed by it.
The Church of the High One: The Church of Azuth was officially founded in Halruaa about a century following Azuth’s confrontation with Savras, and grew to become the primary religion in that country, then spread to Calimshan and the Vilhon before crossing the Sea of Fallen Stars and spreading throughout Faerun, although it was gradually absorbed into the Church of Mystra at the same time. The temples of the Church of the High One are controlled by the Favoured (living constructs) which act as repositories for Azuth’s sentience when he so desires, and in this manner he maintains absolute control over his Church.
Azuth is rumoured to be one of the few beings in existence capable of casting two spells at the same time, however it is likely that this feat is achieved through his possession of “the Old Staff” which is able to cast spells independently of its owner.
The Girdle of Holy Might: This girdle forms the basis for a number of powerful magical items originally held by the Church of Azuth and now belonging to the Church of Mystra. The girdle is rumoured to have been crafted by Azuth himself, and enchanted over the centuries to grant a number of magical powers.
The wearer of the girdle gains increased strength, protection against evil creatures, and the ability to use the word of recall spell once a month. High priests of Azuth spent centuries trying to recreate the power of the Girdle of Holy Might, but succeeded only in creating the lesser Girdles of Priestly Might and Girdles of Priestly Warding, and even the secrets of their creation have since been lost.
The Old Staff: This ancient artefact is incredibly powerful, able to absorb any spells cast at it or the wielder with the option to reflect those spells back on the caster. Any spells it absorbs can be used to power a vast number of spells that can be cast independently of the activity of its wielder.
The staff is said to unleash a magical explosion of titanic proportions if it is ever broken (although this is obviously only a rumour).
Atop the staff sits a large gemstone known as the Donjon of Facets or the Spirit Stone, which can be used to draw weakened opponents into a prison demiplane from which there is no escape (unless the wielder releases them).
The origins of the staff are unknown, although many of the spells it uses are said to be of ancient Netheril. Many believe that the staff possesses a sentience, and it is this sentience that is able to cast spells independently. The sentience, however, appears to be completely loyal or subservient to Azuth, always obeys his every command.