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.
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.