Windsong Abbey was built as a pacifist refuge for followers of all religions, good and evil, to come and resolve their doctrinal and political differences in a non-violent manner and to peacefully further their own goals.
Founded in 4082 AR in the wake of the Even-Tongued Conquest by a group of priests who had grown frustrated by the machinations of politicians in matters of faith, Windsong Abbey was always intended to be a neutral ground for the adherents of diverse beliefs. Its founders envisioned a place outside of established nations where members of the 21 most widespread faiths of the Inner Sea could meet and discuss religion, current events, and philosophy in an ecumenical venue, where all beliefs were considered equal and all forms of violence between rival cults prohibited. Members of nearly every faith in the region came to represent their beliefs here over the years, with only the cult of Rovagug declining to take part. And while each faith was held equal, tradition held that the eldest priest would serve as the abbey’s voice, wearing a masked headpiece to denote her role. The first Masked Abbess was a priestess of Pharasma, but over the years to follow, different faiths held the vaunted position.
The abbey itself was built over the ruins of a much older site; a temple of Groetus whose deepest chambers contained mysterious sealed doors, including a particularly ominous one that the priests identified through study and research as one of the “Doomsday Doors”. Many ancient temples of Groetus included these portals; massive apertures said to be counting down the days until the end of the world, at which point each would open to unleash its own localized apocalypse to aid the End Times. In their explorations of the ancient Groetan temple, the priests uncovered a “doomsday key” that would open some of these portals, but they wisely decided these doors should stay closed. The “doomsday key” was entrusted to the Masked Abbot or Abbess and was kept in a vault where none could use it to delve the deeper chambers below the abbey.
And so, for over 500 years and against all odds, this so-called “house of twenty faiths” continued to exist with little to no internal strife or trouble. A small village grew up around the abbey to support the priests, and as the prophesied day of Aroden’s return drew near, the priests watched with keen interest how the world prepared.
As it did throughout the rest of the Inner Sea region, the god Aroden’s death in 4606 AR sent shock waves through Windsong, many churches have withdrawn their representatives from the Abbey, leaving many of its halls abandoned, and contributing to the paranoia of those left behind. In the years to follow, Windsong began to fall apart. Only a few priests stayed on in their original posts, keeping the abbey secure in the hope of reopening it as an universal place of worship someday. Now, only five full-time priests remain at Windsong Abbey: clerics of Desna, Erastil, Gozreh, Nethys, and Zon-Kuthon.
Windsong Abbey has long served as a prominent landmark of the northern Lost Coast, with its stately white lighthouse standing sentinel over the Varisian Gulf. The building itself is quite dramatic, with countless arches and towers, tall stained glass windows which refract the light, and special tunnels in the walls and floors which produce sounds very like a pipe organ. All this is set against the dramatic cliffs and foam-flecked waters of the Varisian Gulf. Windsong Abbey is approximately 120 miles north of Magnimar as traveled via the Lost Coast Road.
An old 20-foot-wide stone wall encompasses the actual abbey grounds. This 10-foot-tall stone belt dates back to the times when the cult of Groetus dominated the region, and was the plinth of the outer palisade of a primitive fort, which was destroyed and abandoned a long time before the foundation of Windsong Abbey. The base of the old wall has been long plundered for construction material, and presents many gaps and collapsed sections along its course.
The abbey’s wharf, consisting of a pier and a boathouse, lies on a small sandy beach at the base of the cliffs. On the landward side, the structure is surrounded by impassable rocks, and is connected to the top of the cliff by a wooden staircase built on sturdy poles.
A famous feature of Windsong Abbey is the fact that the entire structure functions something like a musical instrument. As the winds blow in from the sea, they funnel through a number of pipe-like tunnels located at the base of Windsong Tower, creating a haunting sound known as the Windsong, and giving the abbey its name.
On a typical day, the breeze blowing in from the sea picks up in intensity as the day goes on, while at night the typical wind patterns avoid the pipes entirely. Almost completely silent at night, the tower pipes and the air ducts that crisscross the abbey and the dungeons begin producing low, whistling sounds as the day progresses. When the wind blows just right, the resulting solemn and peaceful tune can be heard throughout the abbey and its surroundings. Variations on the song exist, influenced by seasons, weather, and even the phases of the moon.