Iris is the Goddess of the Dawn, a concept she embodies in every literal and metaphorical sense. As a deity of light, she fundamentally represents the idea of transitioning from darkness to day, and her church and personality alike reflect this attitude. While she brings light and salvation, she rarely remains in one place for too long - the dawn is always moving across a world, and it's for others to continue helping those who have found the light.
While her exact history isn't entirely clear, most of her followers believe that Iris came into existence from the sheer awe that life itself experienced when it saw the first dawn. That makes her a truly ancient goddess by any reckoning, possibly even deserving the title of primal goddess, although her followers do agree that she's probably at least somewhat younger than the very earliest gods who created the material plane.
Iris offers the Good (Redemption), Liberation (Self-Realization), Magic (Divine), Sun (Exalted variant only, with the Exalted Light subdomain), and Travel (Exploration) domains to her followers. The Exalted Sun and Exalted Light domains are by far the most common among her followers.
Exalted Sun Domain
Exalted Sun’s Blessing (Su): Whenever you channel positive energy to harm undead creatures, add your cleric level +2 to the damage dealt (or substitute the class giving you the ability to channel positive energy if you are not a cleric). Undead do not add their channel resistance to their saves when you channel positive energy.
Improved Channel (Ex): At 4th level, you gain Improved Channel as a bonus feat.
Sun Spell Mastery (Sp): At 12th level, add +2 to the effective caster level of all spells you cast with the light descriptor. Add an additional +1 for every 4 additional cleric levels thereafter.
Exalted Light Subdomain
Combine the changes and powers of the Exalted Sun Domain with the Light subdomain to create the Exalted Light Subdomain. Replace the Blinding Flash power of the Light subdomain with the Exalted Blinding Flash power below.
Exalted Blinding Flash (Su): As a standard action, you can emit a flash of light from your holy symbol or divine focus. The most powerful light emanates out 20 feet from you. Creatures with fewer Hit Dice than your cleric level within this area are blinded for 1d4 rounds unless they succeed at Fortitude save with a -2 penalty. All creatures in this area are dazzled for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your cleric level (minimum1). You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 6 + your Wisdom modifier.
Note: Exalted domains take up both of a cleric's domains, rather than just one. These rules are from The Genius Guide to Exalted Domains of Light and Lore by Super Genius Games.
Surprising no one, Iris' holy symbol is a rising sun.
Quarterstaff. Iris appreciates the flexibility that a quarterstaff offers in well-trained hands, and even has a quarterstaff as her personal weapon.
Centers of Worship
Iris may be worshiped anywhere that the light of the dawn can reach, though her faith is somewhat more popular in areas with an unusually high amount of life. She's also popular - for what should be obvious reasons - in places that are undergoing revolutions to overthrow tyrants.
That said, Iris' churches are usually small. While she's always willing to help people find the light, the majority of her followers eventually settle on a different deity for the rest of their life.
Worshipers and Minions
Iris accepts worshipers of all races and backgrounds, though she's generally most popular among humans. As she sees it, everyone is welcome to pursue the light, and she generally doesn't see anyone as beyond redemption as long as they're willing to put forth an honest effort.
However, regardless of their background or status, Iris never grants spells with the [darkness] or [shadow] descriptors to anyone who receives divine spells from her, and explicitly forbids them from using such spells unless there is no other viable option. Those who use such spells without extenuating circumstances may find themselves stricken by blindness until the next dawn - a none-too-subtle reminder of what it's like to be trapped in darkness and how the light can change that.
She also has a small number of worshipers among the fey. While the fair folk are not especially religious in general, Iris has attributes as a goddess of growth and new life, which fits in well with certain aspects of fey ideologies. Those worshipers almost never try to convince other fey to follow her, though, accepting that fey are simply different that way.
Iris' minions include angels and residents of Nirvana, whom she occasionally dispatches to give advice and aid as necessary. She is also the goddess of Sorathel, who serves as her Empyrean Paragon and personal champion.
Iris typically appears as an angelic humanoid with a bright halo of solidified light behind her. She is excessively obvious in her appearances, disliking illusions and falsehood in general, so there is generally no subtlety to misunderstand when she shows herself.
Iris' church is a small organization focused on helping others find a better place in their life. It takes many forms depending on where it is, but in many cases, she works closely with other deities of good and may even share their temples at times. Iris is particularly close to Sarenrae and a few members of her faith can often be found wherever followers of the more-popular sun goddess are.
Temples and Shrines
Iris has relatively few temples or shrines, but loyal followers occasionally build them for personal use. Regardless of location or materials, temples and shrines are designed to let the light of dawn enter regardless of the time of year.
A Priest's Role
Priests of Iris (meaning formal members of her church, not just clerics) are tasked with spreading help, salvation, and forgiveness to those in need. As the goddess of the dawn, Iris particularly emphasizes going to places or people in need to help them, rather than sitting around and responding to problems.
Iris is a popular goddess among some types of adventurers, particularly paladins and other crusaders who want to strike down evil and help those who have the opportunity for redemption. As a goddess of travel, among other things, she can actively aid those who are always on the move.
In addition to the regular oaths a Paladin takes, those who follow Iris often swear to the following tenets.
- I recognize the limits of my power, and that I cannot do all things at all times. I am willing to set aside the immediate good if there is a long-term good that is more important, though I do not do so lightly or as an excuse to avoid doing what is right.
- I recognize that there are many solutions to problems, and that I do not know all things. My way is not the only way, and not everybody acts (or should act) as I do. I will listen thoughtfully to others, and if I have objections, they will be practical ones - not simply a desire to make others conform to my will.
- I recognize that true honor comes from my own behavior, and that neither fame nor fortune are my goals. However, I also understand the importance of my reputation, and I will live in such a way that none have cause to blame me.
- I understand the weight of my sword - and of my heart. Without righteousness, my blade is only useful for violence. My true strength is not the power of my blade, but the power of my heart.
- I will be temperate in my words and actions, not zealous, for a thoughtful mind finds it easier to avoid error. I will not be afraid to question myself, admit my errors, or seek new ways to improve - for I am not perfect, and I can always improve myself.
- In battle, I seek victory, for I cannot help others if I die. While I will fight fairly when the fight itself is fair, I will seek more practical measures when it is not - there is no dishonor in efficiency, especially if it preserves my strength or helps protect others.
- I believe in goodness above all else. The code I have sworn is only as valuable as the good it supports, for restrictions alone are meaningless. Should any part of my oaths ever cease to support goodness, or to be so ineffective in comparison to another action that I could not justify the inferior choice, I am no longer bound by them until they once more align with righteousness.
Iris favors bright, noticeable clothing among her followers, though she understands if there are times when they need to tone the saturation down. That said, the dawn will arrive places regardless of whether or not people want it to, and many of her followers uphold this by being extremely noticeable.
Iris' holy book is the Book of the First Light, and it primarily consists of inspirational stories, quotes, and practical advice for improving one's life and dealing with others. It's noticeably more of a self-help guide than a properly religious text, and her followers often hand out copies for free when someone seems receptive to its contents.
Iris' church celebrates the solstices and equinoxes on each world, each of which has a thematic meaning to the church. Whether the dawn comes sooner or later, it always arrives, and that promise is something her people can rely on.
As a mythic patron, Iris usually offers power to those who are struggling with their current behaviors and trying to change for the better. She pushes people to actively improve themselves and do the work of becoming a good person (or at least a neutral one, if evil), and accepts people from all races, alignments, and histories. However, she is quite serious about self-improvement, and those who ask her to be their patron are expected to follow through.
Iris makes her celestial home within Nirvana, the plane of goodness untouched by law or chaos. Rather than being in a specific location, though, her realm can only be reached by walking towards the dawning sun each morning. Those who are meant to arrive will always reach it when they are meant to be there, while others will be left behind. Those who arrive properly find themselves in an expansive field of flowers, aligned to produce a gorgeous rainbow of color and surrounded by endless trails leading to new realms and discoveries.
There is one permanent entrance to Iris' domain for visitors: A door at the very end of the Hall of Slumbering Kings, where the greatest mortal hero-kings await the day they are needed once more. Her personal servants seem capable of traveling directly to her domain, but attempts to imitate their movements always fail. As a goddess of travel, Iris has extraordinary control over travel to and from her domain, and she doesn't hesitate to use that.
As a full deity, Iris has essentially no limit on her powers, although she abides by the general agreement of the gods to not do things that would start another war in the heavens like the one fought against Rovagug. She is an active goddess, often traveling personally to places in need and bringing such aid as those trapped by darkness need. Sorathel occasionally accompanies her, but that's more for Iris to have someone to talk to than because she needs any help or protection - very few things can threaten a deity, and she's struck down foes as powerful as demon lords for accosting her on her trips. (That said, she's rather well-known as being basically nice to others, and she doesn't strike out at powerful entities unless they start it. Given how monumentally stupid actually attacking any deity tends to be, these attacks are not considered to be breaking any rules, and nobody's going to feel too much regret for those who deserved the smiting they got. In short, it's not worth escalating.)
Outside of her other abilities, Iris wields an enchanted quarterstaff known as Mihrel, the Staff of Sacred Light. (Other staves with similar powers are essentially lesser copies of this artifact.) This staff is enchanted as a weapon, as a staff, and as an implement of power, giving it enormous flexibility in terms of what she can actually use it for. However, though it has numerous minor-but-useful enchantments, Iris mainly uses it for smacking enemies upside the head or radiating blinding light.