The name of the god of death is long forgotten, but she is called the Raven Queen. She is the spinner of fate and the patron of winter. She marks the end of each mortal life, and mourners call upon her during funeral rites, in the hope that she will guard the departed from the curse of undeath. She opposes Orcus and undeath in general. Unlike most gods, she does not make her home within a dominion in the Astral Sea; instead, she rules from the palace Letherna in the Shadowfell.
A particular spirit may stay at the Raven Court for a few days, or for a few centuries. The spirits swiftly lose track of how long they’ve spent there; time passes strangely in Letherna. A hero a thousand years dead might be encountered there, swearing he had just recently arrived, while another, dead for only a day or two, might feel a century had passed. In this way, Letherna is very similar to the courts of the fey. The Court might therefore be a very good place to obtain information about a wealth of topics — provided an adventurer could reach it without dying, or could return from the dead afterwards.
The Raven Queen is empowered to both escort the newly dead to Letherna and to sit in judgement of them. She does not always do so, however, and when she does, it’s as likely to be for a common peasant as for a great hero. On the other hand, she frequently gives up the spirits of great heroes and terrible villains to the agents of other gods, and these spirits then go on to dwell in their gods’ dominions.
On occasion, the Raven Queen will allow a spirit to return to mortal life even without a bargain. This occurs when she determines that the creature in question has a part to play in fate that is as yet unfulfilled. Those who return in such a way are often marked by the experience, possessing a quirk of appearance or just an “aura” that makes ordinary mortals uneasy in their presence. A boon of this nature is never extended twice.
The Raven Queen gained her position as the Queen of Death after usurping the position from Nerull. She overthrew the tyrannical god and claimed his portfolio by absorbing the powers of every tormented soul in his dominion, leading the other deities to revoke her power over deceased souls; hence, she can only claim dominion over Death itself, and not over those who have died.
The Raven Queen also gained the position as the Goddess of Winter after slaying the rebel goddess Khala who had sought to trap the natural world in an eternal winter to secure power over it. Her plans convinced the primal spirits to expel gods and primordials from the world.
The Raven Queen’s domain of Letherna is a glittering palace of obsidian and silver, located at the very center of the Shadowfell. Letherna is the place to which all of the spirits of the dead come before ultimately proceeding on to their final fate. Within its confines, they regain some semblance of form, and they pass their days in the court of the Raven Queen until they receive their final judgement. Letherna and its environs are in a constant state of winter, though the spirits who dwell there feel no discomfort because of the fact; to them, it may as well be midsummer.
She expects her followers to abide by these commandments:
- Hold no pity for those who suffer and die, for death is the natural end of life.
- Bring down the proud who try to cast off the chains of fate. As the instrument of the Raven Queen, you must punish hubris where you find it.
- Watch for the cults of Orcus and stamp them out whenever they arise. The Demon Prince of the Undead seeks to claim the Raven Queen’s throne.