Million Mouths; The Thousands

Symbol: A bat-winged, scorpion-tailed ant
Home Plane: The Nine Hells
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Cleric Alignments: Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil
Portfolio: Domination, conquest, tyranny, the art of war, insatiable need
Worshipers: Those desiring order and security, conquerors, hobgoblins, disciplined warriors
Domains: Evil, Law (Tyranny, Slavery), Plant (Decay), War
Favored Weapon: Longsword or Spiked Gauntlet (cleric chooses one)

Physical Description:
Swarm is a tall, deceptively slender-but-muscular figure who appears, at first sight, to be dressed from head to toe in dark full plate armor with a large-mandibled ant's head for the helmet. A second look, however, quickly reveals that the "armor" is actually Swarm's carapace, and the ant's head is his own. Swarm seems indifferent to gender most of the time, but commonly takes an effeminate male form, though he sometimes takes on the form of a female when the mood strikes him and he feels the need for a different perspective. He has also been known to adjust his ant's head so that it actually does become a helmet, which, when removed, reveals a coldly beautiful, androgynous face, much like that of a half-elf, with long, flowing hair, the color of which is random the first time someone sees Swarm remove his helmet, but which remains that color to that person's perceptions forever after. At times, when fighting foes of superior ability or when wishing to make an especially horrific impression, Swarm can change into a vast host of bat-winged, scorpion-tailed ants. The stingers and jaws of these horrible creatures drip a caustic venom, and the swarm can skeletonize a human-sized creature in a matter of seconds while ensuring that every instant of those few seconds is filled with pain beyond description.

Description of Nature, Personality, and Dogma:
Swarm is the ultimate tactician, a cold, calculating mastermind of the art of war, rather than the sound and fury that often accompanies warfare. Thus, Swarm is not so much a god of war, as that is something more than covered by other deities, as he is a god of the preparation that goes into waging effective warfare, and the ruthless but essential decisions afterward that must go into handling those who have been conquered, either to integrate them into the whole of the conquering people, or else to destroy them utterly.

Matters of good and evil do not matter to Swarm, and he and most of his followers will say as much. This, of course, immediately identifies them as evil in nature, but it does aptly describe Swarm's lack of concern for matters of morality or ethics. All that matters to him is how best to conquer a particular objective or a given campaign, thinking of all things in military, opportunistic terms. In daily life, even those of Swarm's followers who might never pick up a weapon or fight in an armed conflict, it is considered a sin to hold back when it is possible to take advantage of others, or to show mercy. Thus, there are as many bankers and businessmen who follow Swarm as there are generals.

Clergy, Places of Worship, Important Rituals, and Servitor Races:
If anyone wishes to earn Swarm's favor, they must first demonstrate their ability for strategy. This can come in almost any form, from games of strategy and concentration to the tactics that govern sports and schoolyard roughhousing, but Swarm always demands some ability to think ahead of one's opponents from his clergy, and a suitably oppositional mindset, seeing all things in the form of competition, with a lust for victory at all costs. Those that show some promise soon find themselves empowered by Swarm, who speaks directly to their minds in the midst of their strategizing, forming a message from the order of a well-laid plan of attack.

Each temple of Swarm must be built in a defensible location, and the temples themselves look more like forts, spartan and functional and bristling with the implements of war. Many of these temple-forts serve as the the headquarters for tyrants and conquerors and generals as they plan their campaigns, and all of Swarm's temples are expected to maintain as good a collection of maps as it possible. All temples of Swarm also keep a large grilled altar by their front steps, complete with sluices for blood and restraints to hold victims in place.

The most important rituals for followers of Swarm take place after a battle is won, and all of them are designed to cow one's defeated foes into proper submission. First, and most commonly, the most able-bodied of an enemy's warriors that are taken prisoner, as well as their most skilled tacticians and charismatic leaders, and everyone else that might be a threat to the rule of the conquerors and is even slightly likely to resist, are taken in front of the nearest altar of Swarm, or the most visible place available, and then bound down, and their still-beating hearts torn out while they and all the conquered people watch. A second ritual, also fairly common, is that of decimation. In decimation, a conquering army lines up all the captives of an enemy army, and then slays one out of every ten in a neat, methodical fashion, before letting those who remain go free, as a warning to what could have been done, without utterly dismantling the fighting capacity of a conquered people, so it will be easier to rebuild. Both of these two rituals are generally followed by a great deal of forced integration between the conquering people and the conquered, especially in the form of enforced marriages so that the two peoples produce a mingled race. A final, less common, and more horrific ritual is that of salting the earth. This ritual is usually only done against truly hated foes, or foes that have rebelled, or otherwise proved impossible to manage, or what a truly horrendous example is needed. In this case, all the fighters of a conquered people are killed without mercy, save for those that are taken as slaves of the conquerors, a fate which awaits any of the conquered people who seem healthy or useful enough, and then the buildings of the land, even whole cities, and all crops and food animals that are not taken are razed to the ground, and the soil heavily seeded with salt so that it will take years, perhaps even centuries, before the land will ever be able to bear plant life again. The weak of a people, its elderly and children, are then left to fend for themselves in this barren, desolate wilderness, while the rest are carried off into lives of slavery, often utterly annihilating their culture in the process.

Swarm is served by many potent devils, and is also known to command a great host of evil-aligned formians.

History and Relations:
When the gods did battle with the Fallen Ones, they recognized the need for military strategy. For this reason, they called upon the aid of the greatest tactician of the titans, Swarm, and offered him a place among their number if he would help. Swarm saw the wisdom of this, and quickly joined the side of the gods, his capable mind playing a key role in ensuring their victory.

Though Swarm has few true friends, there are even fewer who would dare to question his military skill: Swarm is the very embodiment of military genius, and the unbridled desire for more which can never be satiated. The Morrigan herself admires Swarm and, it is rumored, has been his lover, though neither deity will discuss such matters. Tiamat regularly communicates with Swarm, and they have a functional business relationship; so long as Tiamat does not betray Swarm too egregiously, this relationship is likely to continue. Dan Dao regards Swarm as an equal in personal confrontation, and though Swarm lacks the raw talent of Swordedge, his keen strategic ability applies to personal combat as well, and the two have fought to a standstill on several occasions. Lugscar and Swarm have an odd relationship, as the hulking brute and the slender strategist have frequently fought on the same and opposing sides of various conflicts, as have their worshipers. They disliked each other intensely on their first meeting, but this dislike has gradually turned to a friendship of rivals. Neither will admit that they admire the other, and both compete most viciously, but their competition always has a slight and very subtle playful side, and there have been times when one or the other deity could have caused the other immense and possibly permanent harm, but held back. It is thus not uncommon for followers of Lugscar and Swarm to work together, but it is also just as likely that they will fight once they are bereft of a common enemy. Talus and Bahamut both detest Swarm, who they both see as an embodiment of perverted principles, while Zahir and Bellakadina would dearly love to manipulate Swarm, but find this almost impossible, though they have at times managed to convince him to work with them, though only if their relationship remained strictly business. In this regard, Zahir and Swarm get along quite well, and often serve each other's interests.

Favored Offerings and Justifications for Direct Intervention:
Swarm's preferred offering is the still-beating heart of an enemy, which may be plucked out on the battlefield if desired shortly after that enemy is killed, as his more neutrally-inclined worshipers tend to do, but Swarm much prefers this to be done to prisoners of war after they are bound to his altars, and are able to clearly see their own hearts before them before they die. The more difficult it is to defeat an enemy, which may be sentient or nonsentient, the more prized that enemy's heart is as a sacrifice. Greater offerings to Swarm include the deliberate despoiling of entire lands in his name, and the crowns and other finery of conquered rulers placed on the altars of his temples before they are ritually destroyed for their precious component materials.

It is very seldom that Swarm is directly interested in the affairs of mortals, as he feels strongly that to intervene in matters of conquest is to ensure that any empires that might be carved out will be weak and rotten at their cores, because they relied too much on divine intervention. However, he has been known to provide especially cunning leaders with tactical insights even beyond their own significant abilities, and occasionally will help courageous and loyal units and armies function together with almost perfect unity, so that they can better carry out the plans of their leaders. These blessings come only when mortals have done all that they are able to do on their own, through strategic cunning and research, and training in the arts of war, and Swarm recognizes such effort, often regardless of alignment, and will reward it appropriately with that little something extra that can often decide a close battle. In this way, Swarm ensures that those who use good military practices have a greater chance to prosper, while those who lack such discipline and military acumen will have to look elsewhere for help.