The Windsong Testaments: Rage of Creation

Thursday, January 02, 2020

It took less than a day for the first seven worlds to end.

Before these seven planetary deaths, before the Material Plane began its storied journey through the Ages, the gods had not conceived that one of their own would wreak such ruin. The mortal realm, after all, was intended to be a place for the faithful of all divinities to learn and grow. Why, then, would a deity seek to destroy what was meant to be for all? In those early times before days were days, it could be said that even the gods were naive.

The glories and horrors of the outer sphere had long since coalesced into the nine outer planes after Pharasma’s First Walk. The Inner Sphere remained empty of mortal life for some time, a blank slate that increasingly drew the curiosity of countless divine imaginations. The raising of the First World was a wise choice, for it allowed the gods to practice the complexities of creation, to rework and rewrite, and to finally settle on a method for the crafting of the Myriad on the Material Plane.

When they turned to the dark universe at the heart of the Inner Sphere, there were already inhabitants—entities left over from other realities, but they were few and far between and seemed content to slumber. The gods kept them in mind as they turned their attention to the Work and were ready to react should these Outer Gods take note of their creations.

The Speakers of the Depths could hardly be concerned with aiding the work, but neither did they oppose the act of bringing order from chaos within the Inner Sphere, and in such act, they provided what aid they could. Desna lit the stars, so that their light could reach the skies of the Myriad. Sarenrae gave life to the suns of those countless worlds where creation would begin. Ihys and Asmodeus, not yet bickering brothers, set to work creating the first mortal frames. Achaekek stood sentinel at the edge of the Spire, an impartial arbiter to oversee reality’s spread. And the Bound Prince waited in the darkest place to welcome mortal death into the world.

And when all was set in place, Pharasma touched the source of the River of Souls and began the flow of mortal life into all worlds. Rovagug, the Rough Beast, who had busied himself with the eternal task of burrowing through the Outer Rifts, took note. He crawled from the rifts, scaled the Spire, and leapt from its edge to hurtle across the Silver Sea. He cracked the Elemental Shell and invaded the Material Plane and gloried in the banquet before him. He consumed seven worlds before they saw their first sunsets but found the food flavorless. Worlds without names... worlds without histories... worlds without anything to lose were unsatisfying to the Rough Beast, and he did not fight hard when the gods, aghast at the destructive assault, drove him back to the Outer Rifts. Desna raised Sevenfold Cynosure as a memorial to the first seven worlds destroyed, and the gods vowed upon its steps that, should the Rough Beast return, so too would they return to face him again.

Much took place during that first age—the Age of Creation. New gods like Calistria and Dou-Bral, Torag and Gorum, or Dahak and Apsu rose and began the creation of their own domains. Life grew and evolved within the Material Plane, and in time, so did sapience. At first, the most intelligent of life consisted either of intrusions from elsewhere, such as the visitations of the xiomorns upon many worlds, or the spread of alghollthu through the darkened seas they had always ruled. But in time, mortals themselves discovered faith and free will, and sapience became the spark that would burn the Age of Creation to ash.

It was this spark that compelled Asmodeus to betray his brother Ihys, who had encouraged the flow of free will through these hungry mortal minds. War spread as the rift between Asmoedus and Ihys grew, and the first true conflict amid the gods saw death and devastation on a scale the Great Beyond had never endured. Asmodeus’s murder of Ihys would bring the war to an end, but not in a way any could predict, for that final act would have repercussions. It was this betrayal that drew Rovagug’s attention back to reality as well. As the Great Beyond reeled from war, Rovagug slipped unseen back into the Material Plane and fed upon the world upon which Asmodeus had first lured and then slain Ihys. The Rough Beast reveled in the flavor of a planet that died screaming, its inhabitants agonizing at their apocalypse, and so from world to world did Rovagug move, feeding and destroying with impunity.

illustration by Igor Grechanyi

In these final eons of the Age of Creation, the gods suffered. Groetus rose above the Boneyard for the first time. Achaekek went mad and consumed his own impartiality to become little more than a mindless beast for many eons to follow. The Bound Prince gnawed upon the despairing souls from those planetary apocalypses and became the First Horseman. And Rovagug continued to feed, slouching from world to world and leaving cataclysms in his wake. As world after world died, devastation undid what the gods had wrought. It was Sarenrae who finally took note, who called upon the gods to honor their ancient vow, who begged them to join her again on the steps of Sevenfold Cynosure. Many, but not all, responded, but at the final moment, even Asmodeus returned, perhaps hopeful to make amends for his act, or perhaps seeing yet another opportunity for personal gain.

A new alliance was born that day as Rovagug turned his attention toward three different worlds—Androffa, Golarion, Earth—and as his actions began devastations therein, the gods began the work that would end the Age of Creation. Wily Calistria distracted Rovagug from his feast, sparing the three worlds and focusing his gaze around the least of them—Golarion, a younger world than its two imperiled sisters. Torag and Gorum toiled together under Pharasma’s guidance within Golarion to craft the Dead Vault, a demiplane metaphysically nested within that could hold the Rough Beast. Abadar provided the perfect key and lock to hold the prison shut, a key so cunning in construction that only Asmodeus could turn it. Dou-Bral placed the Star Towers around Golarion and poised to strike when the time was right. And when the Dead Vault was complete, Calistria lured Rovagug into the trap. There, he was ambushed by Sarenrae and Desna, Apsu and Dahak, Erastil and Gozreh, and many more who would fall in battle to Rovagug’s jaws and be forgotten forever. But as Rovagug stepped fully into the trap, Sarenrae cut open the world and dealt Rovagug a crippling blow, sending the Rough Beast hurtling into the Dead Vault. Dou-Bral woke the Star Towers, and they lanced into the world, stitching Golarion shut and piercing Rovagug within, stunning the rough beast long enough for Asmodeus to turn the key in the lock.

And with that, the young world of Golarion became the Cage. The Age of Creation ended, and the Ages that Followed began. And as long as the Cage continues to spin, as long as the Rough Beast remains within, may those Ages never again falter and die.

About the Author

James Jacobs is the Creative Director for Pathfinder. While he was there at the beginning of Golarion’s creation, many of the deities worshiped by that world’s heroes and villains had already existed for decades before. Goddesses and gods like Desna and Rovagug, Sarenrae and Abadar, Achaekek and Zon-Kuthon first established their faithful among PCs and NPCs alike in James’s home campaign in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Sharing them with the world as deities of the Pathfinder setting, seeing players and creators come to love and hate them (and in some cases cosplay as them), has been a career highlight.

About the Windsong Testaments

On the northern reaches of Varisia’s Lost Coast stands Windsong Abbey, a forum for interfaith discussion tended by priests of nearly twenty faiths and led by a legacy of Masked Abbesses. At the dawn of the Age of Lost Omens, Windsong Abbey suffered as its faithful fought and fled, but today it has begun to recover. A new Masked Abbess guides a new flock within, and the Windsong Testaments—parables about the gods themselves—are once again being recorded within the abbey’s walls. Some of these Testaments are presented here as Golarion’s myths and fables. Some parts may be true. Other parts are certainly false. Which ones are which is left to the faithful to decide.

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Tags: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Web Fiction The Windsong Testaments
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4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I love these! Can't wait for more! :)


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I think this was the last one of the current set that James had written, and I suspect the last big possible early mythology. This and the story about Pharasma fill in a lot of the biggest possible overarching stories from the age of creation, with infinite space for other origins and acts and stories, and it's a garbled re-telling by intention even of that.

I love the series though, so even if they do more of the more personal stories of a variety of Gods, I'm down with that.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

19 people marked this as a favorite.

This is indeed the last of the ones I've written. There will be more Windsong Testaments at some point, but I might not be the one to write them. Time will tell.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

20 people marked this as a favorite.

The Windsong Testaments were something we introduced in the lead-up to Lost Omens Gods & Magic coming out later this month. The next few pieces of web fiction will preview other aspects of the book, but won't be in the Windsong Testaments series. We'll certainly revisit it later when it makes sense, but in the meantime, the web fiction needs to serve some other masters.

Glad to hear everyone is enjoying them in any case. It'll certainly help determine when we add more content to the series.


11 people marked this as a favorite.

I love these.

I'm curious about what went on with Achaekek there, how he regained his senses and what role, if any, his little sister, Nana Anadi aka Grandmother Spider, played in that.

Actually, I'm mostly interested in Nana Anadi there as I adore both her and the African/Caribbean god Anansi she's (partially) based on.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Likin battle mode Desna and Calistria :3


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Holy damn...this is *an* amazing story. I love it, the thought of Gorum and Torag crafting the Dead Vault is amazing to me.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

I know “the gap” is a mystery to never be truly answered, but reading this story just makes me hope one day there is at least an adventure path dealing with the vault.

Sovereign Court

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I love the idea that the gods call Golarion ‘The Cage’.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Interesting that Golarion, Androffa and Earth were Rovagug's last targets. Did we know that before?

One thing that they all have in common is that all three have human inhabitants, apparently completely independently. As far as I know, those are the only separate human species canonically in the setting.


thejeff wrote:

Interesting that Golarion, Androffa and Earth were Rovagug's last targets. Did we know that before?

One thing that they all have in common is that all three have human inhabitants, apparently completely independently. As far as I know, those are the only separate human species canonically in the setting.

Which raises the question: did they originate on one of the planets and migrate to the others somehow? Or is it just some kind of parallel evolution (not sure if there even is evolution in the Pathfinder universe.)


Also, if the First World was like a rough draft, is that why it's so weird and messed up?

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

16 people marked this as a favorite.

My rough drafts are often weird and messed up. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

8 people marked this as a favorite.
thejeff wrote:

Interesting that Golarion, Androffa and Earth were Rovagug's last targets. Did we know that before?

One thing that they all have in common is that all three have human inhabitants, apparently completely independently. As far as I know, those are the only separate human species canonically in the setting.

Nope; that's the first place we've mentioned that.


Yqatuba wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Interesting that Golarion, Androffa and Earth were Rovagug's last targets. Did we know that before?

One thing that they all have in common is that all three have human inhabitants, apparently completely independently. As far as I know, those are the only separate human species canonically in the setting.

Which raises the question: did they originate on one of the planets and migrate to the others somehow? Or is it just some kind of parallel evolution (not sure if there even is evolution in the Pathfinder universe.)

That's an old question and it's pretty clear the intended answer is no. They originated separately on each world (along with much of the other flora and fauna on Golarion at least that's the same as Earth.)

I'm just now curious if there's any connection between those being the last world's Rovagug targeted and the 3 worlds that developed humans.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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thejeff wrote:
I'm just now curious if there's any connection between those being the last world's Rovagug targeted and the 3 worlds that developed humans.

The meta reason is that Androffa is the planet my homebrew is set on (although that's its ancient name—it's contemporary name has shortened to Droffa), Golarion is the planet that inherited a fair amount of lore from said homebrew, and Earth is where said homebrew was created.

There's certainly an in-world reason too about the deeper connection between those three, but it's not one we've explored much more than this blog post. Yet.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
thejeff wrote:
I'm just now curious if there's any connection between those being the last world's Rovagug targeted and the 3 worlds that developed humans.

The meta reason is that Androffa is the planet my homebrew is set on (although that's its ancient name—it's contemporary name has shortened to Droffa), Golarion is the planet that inherited a fair amount of lore from said homebrew, and Earth is where said homebrew was created.

There's certainly an in-world reason too about the deeper connection between those three, but it's not one we've explored much more than this blog post. Yet.

The only planets in existence that know how to make raspberry doughnuts.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

The thing that always struck me as odd in this legend is Gorum's involvement in making the cage. I would imagine he'd have been fighting, not forging. Unless the metaphorical nature of the cage is much more combative than just some impenetrable bars holding Rovagug in place.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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RangerWickett wrote:
The thing that always struck me as odd in this legend is Gorum's involvement in making the cage. I would imagine he'd have been fighting, not forging. Unless the metaphorical nature of the cage is much more combative than just some impenetrable bars holding Rovagug in place.

Gorum and Torag teaming up to build the cage = the melding of two opposing tacticians, one focused on offense, one focused on defense, to make the cage as efficient as possible to contain something as dangerous and powerful as Rovagug.

Sovereign Court

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Love seeing Calistria in action. With a heckin big buzz-buddy to boot!


12 people marked this as a favorite.

Is Rovagug what really killed the dinosaurs?


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well, that was absolutely lovely.

Little things like Abadar fashioning a key only Asmodeus can turn really give it a suitably legendary feel.


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The Gap, potentially explained.

Rovie ate all memory of Golarion, or tried to.

Unfortunately, when one eats a cage designed to hold one, there are unfortunate ramifications...

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Fantastic post, really cool new teasers, and a lovely telling. Thank you all, James + crew.


So will some version of these stories be in the upcoming hardcover?

Dark Archive

Wow, James, these stories are amazing! Will these excerpts from the Windsong Testaments be included the book?


I told you, Asmodeus is a good guy and a friend of humanity all along. Why don't you listen? Why do you keep launching all those nonsensical uprisings, silver ravens, free captains, what's freedom worth if you're trying to win it by working against The One Who Can Turn The Key?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Asgetrion wrote:
Wow, James, these stories are amazing! Will these excerpts from the Windsong Testaments be included the book?

Nope. They were all written well after the book went to press, but thank you for the kind words! :-)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Funny Skeleton Friend wrote:
I told you, Asmodeus is a good guy and a friend of humanity all along. Why don't you listen? Why do you keep launching all those nonsensical uprisings, silver ravens, free captains, what's freedom worth if you're trying to win it by working against The One Who Can Turn The Key?

Doesn't mean Asmodeus can UN-turn it... or that no one else can eventually figure it out!


10 people marked this as a favorite.

Not featured in the artwork: the Speakers of the Depths watching and eating popcorn.


Be nice to have these as a printable file hmmmmmm.....


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Quote:
Achaekek went mad and consumed his own impartiality to become little more than a mindless beast for many eons to follow.

Any way you could elaborate a bit on that? Assassin Mantis god has always been one of the more interesting gods to me, but never seems to get much lore. Considering his shift of domains after Earthfall did something happen then to change his view?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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demon321x2 wrote:
Quote:
Achaekek went mad and consumed his own impartiality to become little more than a mindless beast for many eons to follow.
Any way you could elaborate a bit on that? Assassin Mantis god has always been one of the more interesting gods to me, but never seems to get much lore. Considering his shift of domains after Earthfall did something happen then to change his view?

I could, but not at the moment. This is a hint to a story I'd like to explore at some point in the future.


Love the Windsong Testaments and esp. the tidbits like about Achaekek. Makes me want more^^

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I still absolutely love these, and would like to echo my comments on other Testaments that if a book of them were ever compiled, I would subscribe to that newsletter!

Having Torag and Gorum as the architects of the cage is a nice touch. It also adds a bit of gasoline onto one of the major hypotheses about The Gap in Starfinder...but in that same breath it also makes me wonder if Rovagug and The Gap have any direct relation to The Devourer.

It is slightly odd whenever I read the bits about Dahak fighting against Rovagug, though.

Also, the connection between Androffa, Earth, and Golarion now being canon is a really, really nice touch! :)


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Really love these. They flesh out the early mythology really well and are well writed too.

The story of the Bound Prince is really something I hope will be develloped in the future

The Concordance

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Rysky wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
thejeff wrote:
I'm just now curious if there's any connection between those being the last world's Rovagug targeted and the 3 worlds that developed humans.

The meta reason is that Androffa is the planet my homebrew is set on (although that's its ancient name—it's contemporary name has shortened to Droffa), Golarion is the planet that inherited a fair amount of lore from said homebrew, and Earth is where said homebrew was created.

There's certainly an in-world reason too about the deeper connection between those three, but it's not one we've explored much more than this blog post. Yet.

The only planets in existence that know how to make raspberry doughnuts.

But all worlds have a version of Swedish Meatballs.

"It's a strange thing, but every sentient race has its own version of these Swedish meatballs! I suspect it's one of those great universal mysteries which will either never be explained, or which would drive you mad if you ever learned the truth."

- G'Kar, Babylon 5

Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Iwaopeln wrote:

Really love these. They flesh out the early mythology really well and are well writed too.

The story of the Bound Prince is really something I hope will be develloped in the future

There's a good bit out there, some of it involving reading between the lines. The Bound Prince has multiple titles. :)


So even the combined might of Desna, Asmodeus, Sarenrae and Calistria couldn't suppress Rovagug? Is he that powerful? Or he isn't, but his regeneration power is so potent that he's virtually unkillable?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Aenigma wrote:
So even the combined might of Desna, Asmodeus, Sarenrae and Calistria couldn't suppress Rovagug? Is he that powerful? Or he isn't, but his regeneration power is so potent that he's virtually unkillable?

Yes, he's that powerful. But also, this is a great example as to why we DON'T publish rules for quantifying deity powers. It lets us just tell stories and myths about them without having to double check if the rules work for the stories.


I'm really not sure why Rovagug doesn't grant access to the Might domain, because I think it's more suitable for him than the Zeal domain.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Aenigma wrote:
I'm really not sure why Rovagug doesn't grant access to the Might domain, because I think it's more suitable for him than the Zeal domain.

Because he doesn't share his Might. He does share his ferocity [Zeal].


I like to describe Rovagug as cosmic destroyer who will end all.But he is necessary for end of universe and next one to come.


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C. Richard Davies wrote:
Aenigma wrote:
I'm really not sure why Rovagug doesn't grant access to the Might domain, because I think it's more suitable for him than the Zeal domain.
Because he doesn't share his Might. He does share his ferocity [Zeal].

He also demands zeal more than he does might. Ability to destroy can be magnified by all sorts of tools and magics, but to serve rovagug you have to accept that he not only wants to eat everything including the things you like, but he wants everything to suffer and be aware of its suffering because that improves the flavor. Takes quite a bit of zealotry to accept that, you can figure the might out elsewhere.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

These testaments are superb writing, really Paizo thanks for these!


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I discovered those today and what a delight! Thanks for those JJ!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Woo! And thanks for reading them, everyone! :)

Liberty's Edge

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These myths do feel appropriate to Golarion and give some much needed and appreciated lore to Golarion. As someone who is familiar with the creation stories of many cultures, I enjoyed this story and I look forward to future entries. (I imagine that different faiths and different cultures will have different takes on various events. The perspective of the elves, dwarves or from Tian Xia on some of these events might be interesting to read.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
The Rage of Creation wrote:
When they turned to the dark universe at the heart of the Inner Sphere, there were already inhabitants—entities left over from other realities, but they were few and far between and seemed content to slumber. The gods kept them in mind as they turned their attention to the Work and were ready to react should these Outer Gods take note of their creations.

The alghollthu believe themselves to have a longer history on the material plane than the gods of the material plane, would they happen to be some non-deific inhabitants from other realities within the material plane?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

These have been great, and a big part of why I went ahead and reserved a copy of Gods and Magic. Can't wait to read more! (even though I know this was the last one... for now.)

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