All mortals know and fear the Raven Queen. The underlying dread might stem from ancient, perhaps forgotten, knowledge of those ancient days when Nerull the Reaper claimed the dead for himself, or it could be from her cold, uncaring nature as death’s manifestation. Her somber priests do little to soften the Raven Queen’s presence in the world, and they do much to reinforce her shadowy, often sinister reputation. Fear pervades the ranks of her followers, but so too does respect. She might be detached and distant, but she is not an evil figure. Few people worship her exclusively, but all include her in their prayers and petitions when her influence is desired.
The Raven Queen is far more than a death god: She is the Mistress of Winter and Lady of Fate. Her evolution from a powerful soul to her present state has only grown her influence in the world. The three concerns—death, fate, and winter—are related, but the latter two are not just reflections of her role as death’s guardian, but reflect a growing influence over mortal matters.
The Raven Queen’s portfolio includes death, fate, and winter. Understanding how these aspects relate to the deity provides keen insight into what it means to serve her and what she expects in return for the power she bestows.
It is the unknown that sows fear in mortal hearts. Is there life after the grave? Is there peace or salvation—maybe a chance to live again? Or is there only annihilation’s uncaring embrace, where oblivion’s ravenous appetite erases all deeds, experiences, hopes, and fears?
Most know the Raven Queen as the god of death and the guardian of souls as they exit the world to make their final journey into the unknown. She embodies the life cycle, and myths about her demonstrate the trials all mortals must endure in their existence. The Raven Queen lived, died, and was reborn as something greater than she once was. Mortals who follow the Raven Queen often believe her story highlights the struggles they all must face, and should they be found worthy, they might live again.
In her death aspect, the Raven Queen expects her servants to respect death’s claim and not to interfere with those who are dying. Death is a natural process and when the individual’s fate beckons, none should stand in its path. Most who serve the Raven Queen let the dead stay dead and never employ the Raise Dead ritual without sufficient cause. Even when they do, they demand another life to replace the one restored.
Your life is but one of many threads in existence’s tapestry. All have roles to play in the world’s shaping, but each has a purpose that helps define the larger pattern. The Raven Queen does not so much cut your thread, but she identifies when your life has served its purpose. When she calls, go not in fear but in satisfaction that you have achieved what you were meant to achieve.
The Raven Queen does not decide how a mortal’s life goes, but rather observes the world and its developments on a grand scale. As the Lady of Fate, she identifies the moments when death marks a fitting end or serves as a catalyst to goad others to carry on in the deceased’s name. When the mortal dies, the Raven Queen guides the soul to her palace Letherna, where she ushers the dead through to the beyond. She has the power to intercede on a mortal’s behalf—to forestall death or quicken it as she decides—but she reserves such gifts for those worthy of her intervention.
The Raven Queen despises most undead, though she has used them from time to time, and she instructs her servants to destroy them wherever they encounter these abominations. Undead pervert the natural order, denying fate its power. Their destruction ensures the proper balance is restored. This intolerance extends to any who exploit death for personal ends. Orcus, Vecna, and to a lesser extent Zehir have earned her enmity.
Usher in the season of death by accepting its frigid embrace.
Winter is often overlooked in discussions about the Raven Queen and is included as an afterthought or a symbolic manifestation of her influence over the natural world. Although her role as patron of death and fate eclipse her winter aspect, winter is key to understanding her and what she expects. Winter is the season of death. Plants wither and die, animals fade, and the world waits for the seasons to turn so life can begin again. The Raven Queen might be at her strongest in the winter, but even she recognizes it must not last forever because it is only one part of life’s natural cycle.
Omens and Signs
People identify the Raven Queen in many signs and symbols. The raven, naturally, is her favored animal, and these birds feature prominently in rites and ceremonies dedicated to the deity. To kill a raven invites the deity’s wrath because they are her beloved creatures and act as her eyes and ears in the natural world.
In addition to the raven, the Lady of Fate also inherited symbols associated with her predecessor, Nerull. Skulls are ubiquitous in her temples and shrines. They decorate the doors and exterior walls, serve as altars, and are worked into arms and armor used by her divine knights. Such grim visages remind people of how fleeting life is.
Three is an important number to the Raven Queen. The number signifies the cycle of life: birth, death, and rebirth. When she wishes to communicate with mortals, she might use three black feathers, skulls, finger bones, and the like to give warning about an imminent danger or of an unforeseen threat.