The Godsrain Prophecies Part Three

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

While it would require someone with far more expertise to confirm this absolutely, I am now convinced that this set of so-called prophecies are all authored by the same hand. Some of this is due to the handwriting on the documents that have been found in more pristine condition (it is perhaps fitting that a prophecy dedicated to the death of the Lucky Drunk was found on a scrap of parchment that looked like it had been dragged through the floor of more than one tavern), but the rest I attribute both to the places in which they were discovered and, I believe, the rhythm of the writing (though I would be a bit more sure of that if I had read The Peculiarities of Prophetic Speech more closely despite what I believe to be a truly excessive number of footnotes). I am sure that Lorminos knows someone who can confirm my beliefs if needed. That is if, of course, my Lady wants a set of writings so inflammatory to be so widely seen. I am far from convinced of the truth of any of them, and a single author could point as much to a singular troublemaker wishing to create strife as someone with a sudden gift of foresight.

—Yivali, Apprentice Researcher for the Lady of Graves




The Death of Cayden Cailean

Cayden Cailean had never thought himself a liar. A storyteller, sure, in the tradition of the tavern, where convincing someone of your worth might mean a refilled tankard. Who among his fellow patrons hadn’t added enemies to boost their tale of combat or invented some new twice-trapped room deep within the dungeon of a newly fallen foe? To claim that he’d become a god was more than normal boasting, but he couldn’t quite remember what had happened with the Starstone. Maybe he had passed its test and that was what kept him alive. Maybe he’d become a god and godhood felt no different than mortal existence. Maybe he would take another round of good ale on the house (a thank you from the barkeep for the honor of his presence). Maybe as he told his tale he could almost believe it. At least until the nightly dreams began.

They started off as flashes, tiny moments in the dark of night—a clanging sword that echoed down a long and shadowed hallway, the smell of new-cut marble turned impossibly acrid, the taste of blood and honey in the space behind his tongue. And still, no matter what they were, each vision woke him shuddering—skin drenched in sweat, heart racing wildly, cold breeze crawling up his spine, a voice he’d never heard before that whispered in his eardrums—liar, drunkard, cheater, thief. One day you will pay for this with everything you owe.

Cayden Cailean would never call himself a cheater. How could he know belief alone could make a deity? But every time the story spread that he had passed the Test of Starstone, something shifted in him, brought him that much closer to true divinity. By the time he heard his story chanted like a rowdy prayer, he was every inch the god that he had claimed to be. He did his best to share the gift, empower those who followed him, pass blessings out like cups of drink to those who strived for freedom. But no good deed had earned him pity from the voice that stalked his dreams, a whisper he now recognized as that of the Starstone itself, murmuring about the flask that he kept tight against his waist—forbidden, stolen, holy power. There will be a reckoning.

The flask was Cayden’s property from long before the Starstone, but now it held a draft he’d brought back from the Cathedral—a distillation of the power held within its core. And while he still could not remember what he’d done to make or bring it back, he knew that every sip gave him a taste of the divine. His followers’ convictions may have been the thing that made him a god, but all beliefs grow worn and frayed and faded over time. No matter who believed in him, he knew one thing down to his core: the liquid in his flask was what kept his lie alive.

But every tiny sip of nectar took his dreams on twisted paths, until he dreamt of death in the Cathedral every night. And after he had died each way the Test of Starstone could devise—some with the sound of steel on bone, some with the fall of flesh to floor, some with a bargain on his tongue that faded in a gasping breath—it left him with a final and unalterable verdict: time for you to pay your debt, return to mortal life.

Cayden Cailean had never minded being mortal, but as his story shifted, he mourned his legacy. Word spread, as words are wont to do, of his deceitful rise to grace, and those who’d raised his name in praise could barely muster pity. The innkeepers and brewers he’d counted as his worshipers now barred him from their premises, afraid they would be thought of as complicit in his lie, and soon the one-time god had faded out of public life, so far removed that no one knows quite how and where he died. Some say it happened in an alley, slumped over in the pouring rain, while others claim he died in battle fighting for a righteous cause, or braved the Starstone once again in one last fatal try.

Iomedae and Norgorber, as fellow gods Ascended, both moved to quell the rumors that they had also cheated to obtain divinity—Iomedae appearing on the front lines with her champions in tireless demonstrations of her prowess on the battlefield and Norgorber eliminating each one of his followers who dared to voice dissent or wonder who he used to be. But neither sees the true change that still lurks along the margins, as one after another shop begins to claim that, for a cost, you too can be transformed from mortal life to deity. If all it takes is stories and a liquor no one understands (as noted in a few reports of Cayden’s sad demise), then nothing stops a hundred shops from selling sugar water and a complement of town criers to those who feel that being god is next on their agenda—a warlord here, a despot there, the righteous and the vengeful—and what new revolution might they bring if they do rise?

An array of 20 portraits depicting the gods of the Pathfinder setting. Asmodeus, Cayden Cailean, and Pharasma’s portraits have been marked “safe.”





A god created from belief alone? That is both deeply intriguing and somewhat baffling, as this is the first report I’ve read of such an occurrence. Surely if this were truly possible, I’d have encountered it before in my studies. This will require more research, though with what time I will pursue it I know not. It does make me wonder how many believers one might have to acquire to cross the boundary from mortal to god, and whether belief was nearly as important in this case as the Starstone nectar mentioned above. I have no doubt that if someone were able to distill a liquor from a source of pure divine power, it would be Cayden Cailean, but for those of us not blessed with that specific set of skills, I am struck by the idea that you could solve for number of believers and gain divinity simply by exceeding that threshold. Equations are not my strong suit, but I may see if I can find a collaborator and determine what that number might be. Though it might be difficult to do without revealing where the idea has come from. Perhaps it would be better to wait until I have all the prophecies properly analyzed and know what my Lady wishes to do with them before I begin making them a basis for a new research field, but it is hard not to get excited!


About the Author

Erin Roberts has been thrilled to be able to contribute a few small threads to the fabric of Golarion in the pages of books like Lost Omens Firebrands, Lost Omens Highhelm, and Lost Omens Travel Guide. In addition to her work for Paizo, she freelances across the TTRPG world (and was selected as a Diana Jones Award Emerging Designer Program Winner in 2023), has had fiction published in magazines including Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, and The Dark, and talks about writing every week on the Writing Excuses podcast. Catch up with her latest at linktr.ee/erinroberts.

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Liberty's Edge

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Ravien999 wrote:
Kittyburger wrote:
I had Cayden as living but I also had him being held back for the final reveal because he's one of the most popular gods in the setting. I'm pleasantly surprised, now I'm reshuffling my "who gets revealed, who gets held back, who actually dies" deck again.

You've got your logic backwards. The ones are going to get written about are going to be the most popular or interesting ones that aren't going to die. Like if its not Sarenrae dying, I guarantee we're getting a Sarenrae narrative.

The 9 kept back for the reveal are the ones nobody cares about or who are uninteresting. coughiroricough

I do not think so.

I think Paizo will go for the best stories in the 10 reveals and the ones most likely to elicit worry/anticipation for the 10 left.

TBH I did not think Cayden Cailean would be one of the revealed because I felt his death tale would be boring.

TBT I never felt anything more than disinterest for him. I always saw him as the frat boy PC of a geek player who wished they could have been a frat boy. Then put this PC to the deity level. Party hard, drink hard, sleep with anybody and everybody and still feel like you're a hero who does the right thing.

I was surprised to be moved by his death tale. To feel sadness for the man behind the deity. The man who became a god without ever knowing if he actually deserved it.

Cayden Cailean is still not my favorite deity. But I can somehow relate to him now. So I want to very sincerely thank the author for this. Because, thanks to this tale, another part of Golarion got a greater life for me.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Gnollvalue wrote:
My current main theory is that Zon-Kuthon dies and Shelyn becomes more distant overall in grief or in pursuit of answers.

Zon-Kuthon is a good bet, since there's a real meta problem of "how do we solve the Nidal problem." Since some of the stuff that's been written about Nidal is dark to a degree that Pathfinder doesn't really do anymore. It just seems weird to say "well, Cheliax doesn't do slavery anymore" (a good change,, IMO) when their neighbor to the north is still kidnapping people to slowly and gruesomely torture to death in service of their warped god.

If Zon-Kuthon gets bisected by his sister, that sets up for Nidal to still be an occasionally horrifying place (There's a lot of vampires around) but less of an overwhelmingly horrific place.

There's also the possibility that in her grief, Shelyn doesn't just become distant, but also starts committing unholy acts in the name of finding answers, bringing him back, self-flagellation/guilt- whatever fits the narrative of how he would have died.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The Raven Black wrote:
Cayden Cailean is still not my favorite deity. But I can somehow relate to him now.

Not gonna lie... I wish I could relate to this.

But it's so far from everything we have on him, it really feels... like a reach, a heroic attempt to give some pathos to a deity without any.

Liberty's Edge

Maybe all death tales have already been written and they choose the order based on the comments here.

Liberty's Edge

6 people marked this as a favorite.

Or maybe they rolled d20s for all of this. To select the one who dies, the ones with death tales, the order in which we get those.

Which has always been an excellent reason to have a Core20.

Grand Lodge

8 people marked this as a favorite.
The Raven Black wrote:
Ravien999 wrote:
Kittyburger wrote:
I had Cayden as living but I also had him being held back for the final reveal because he's one of the most popular gods in the setting. I'm pleasantly surprised, now I'm reshuffling my "who gets revealed, who gets held back, who actually dies" deck again.

You've got your logic backwards. The ones are going to get written about are going to be the most popular or interesting ones that aren't going to die. Like if its not Sarenrae dying, I guarantee we're getting a Sarenrae narrative.

The 9 kept back for the reveal are the ones nobody cares about or who are uninteresting. coughiroricough

TBT I never felt anything more than disinterest for him. I always saw him as the frat boy PC of a geek player who wished they could have been a frat boy. Then put this PC to the deity level. Party hard, drink hard, sleep with anybody and everybody and still feel like you're a hero who does the right thing.

I was surprised to be moved by his death tale. To feel sadness for the man behind the deity. The man who became a god without ever knowing if he actually deserved it.

I think that this interpretation misses the "hero" part of the "Drunken Hero." Cayden is a party god, that's not in question. But he's also explicitly, in the on-the-page text, the god of people who fight for good causes even when the pay isn't there or the opposition is overwhelming, just because it's the right thing to do.

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Kittyburger wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Ravien999 wrote:
Kittyburger wrote:
I had Cayden as living but I also had him being held back for the final reveal because he's one of the most popular gods in the setting. I'm pleasantly surprised, now I'm reshuffling my "who gets revealed, who gets held back, who actually dies" deck again.

You've got your logic backwards. The ones are going to get written about are going to be the most popular or interesting ones that aren't going to die. Like if its not Sarenrae dying, I guarantee we're getting a Sarenrae narrative.

The 9 kept back for the reveal are the ones nobody cares about or who are uninteresting. coughiroricough

TBT I never felt anything more than disinterest for him. I always saw him as the frat boy PC of a geek player who wished they could have been a frat boy. Then put this PC to the deity level. Party hard, drink hard, sleep with anybody and everybody and still feel like you're a hero who does the right thing.

I was surprised to be moved by his death tale. To feel sadness for the man behind the deity. The man who became a god without ever knowing if he actually deserved it.

I think that this interpretation misses the "hero" part of the "Drunken Hero." Cayden is a party god, that's not in question. But he's also explicitly, in the on-the-page text, the god of people who fight for good causes even when the pay isn't there or the opposition is overwhelming, just because it's the right thing to do.

TBT I prefer Milani or even Iomedae for this.

Not to mention Gorum, for whom fighting on will always be the right thing to do.


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Calliope5431 wrote:
Zon-Kuthon? He's a walking sharps container. If you poke him, you're going to get sliced. And he's not as important overall.

Zon-Kuthon is the fundamental underpinning of the oldest contiguous human civilization on the planet.

That's the fundamental thing about ZK. It's about Nidal. "We sold the soul of our country to a dark god in return for our survival and it worked." It's been around, as a functional culture where people can and do live and thrive and raise their children... and has been since Earthfall. Far more than any of these other countries, Nidal endures. People choose to live there, for reasons that aren't inherently wrong. It's a major example of how very different from those other gameworlds Golarion is. Even the inherently evil countries are fundamentally coherent, and have some depth - have something going for them other than just being evil.

I don't think it's going to be any of the evil deities. The one evil deity that I think it would most fit would be Urgathoa, and... well, they've been working on making the undead redeemable, and that's cool, and Arazni's rise will definitely help with that, but I feel like replacing Urgathoa with Arazni would be taking it a bit too far. I mean, most undead are still going to be evil, you know? Having the only undead-themed god in the pantheon be neutral would be... weird.

Of the neutrals...? If anything, I'd say Gorum. Gorum is just... bland. I mean, if Gorum dies, what do we lose, really? Of course, on the flip side, what do we gain? I mean, I don't know that it really triggers all that much story, you know? Okay, so the half-orcs lose a patron, and that's a thing. Maybe they'll find another who's more interesting?

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Tbh, if fourth fic continues the trend that these prophecies actually represent deity's worst fears, that really chances the paradigm. (it also would explain why all three stories so far have major red flag of "wait something is wrong". First one with psychopomps doing absolutely nothing without Pharasma, second with Ihys seeming rather comfy with using Rovagug as self destruct button if his gentle hand is threatened and third with the fact that belief making you into god isn't really pathfinder setting mechanic outside of like idols in 1e)

Like... There is no reason to have story about how Rovagug's death leads to massive power vacuum because that wouldn't be what Rovagug fears. Maybe there could be surprising character reveal, but that kind of story would be more representative of collective fear of gods rather than teaching something new about Rovagug.

Same way, unless short story would reveal something surprising about Gorum's insecurities, you'd think there wouldn't be much fo story to tell. Sure we didn't know about Cayden Cailean's possible impostor syndrome (except that in retrospect it makes 100% sense both in pathfinder and starfinder, starfinder iteration's relapse into further alcoholism post Gap seems kinda like redo of his alcohol binge memory loss so it likely was trauma trigger for him), but its reveal fits perfectly into place. Gorum so far is essentially spirit of battle without further personality, he is cool, but you'd think his fear would be rather simple topic to explore.

Like you would think that story about Irori's death would be boring, but if you look it as character study of what Irori fears, then suddenly it has lot of potential to give more depth to Irori


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Pathfinder Adventure, LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
AceofMoxen wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Shelyn definitely goes into the "more interesting alive than dead" category. Zon Kuthon is just an edgelord without her.
Unless Shelyn's death sets Zon-Kuthton back on the path of light. That creates lots of interesting stories.

There's an old segement from Paizo where they talk about how ZK never really was Dou-Bral, Shelyn's brother, but rather that Dou-Bral was a vessel for ZK's evil self to inhabit like a incubation chamber from himself in another multiverse altogether.

That is to say, if we go by the dev team's old intent, there never was a "Light" option for ZK.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
CorvusMask wrote:

Tbh, if fourth fic continues the trend that these prophecies actually represent deity's worst fears, that really chances the paradigm. (it also would explain why all three stories so far have major red flag of "wait something is wrong". First one with psychopomps doing absolutely nothing without Pharasma, second with Ihys seeming rather comfy with using Rovagug as self destruct button if his gentle hand is threatened and third with the fact that belief making you into god isn't really pathfinder setting mechanic outside of like idols in 1e)

Like... There is no reason to have story about how Rovagug's death leads to massive power vacuum because that wouldn't be what Rovagug fears. Maybe there could be surprising character reveal, but that kind of story would be more representative of collective fear of gods rather than teaching something new about Rovagug.

Same way, unless short story would reveal something surprising about Gorum's insecurities, you'd think there wouldn't be much fo story to tell. Sure we didn't know about Cayden Cailean's possible impostor syndrome (except that in retrospect it makes 100% sense both in pathfinder and starfinder, starfinder iteration's relapse into further alcoholism post Gap seems kinda like redo of his alcohol binge memory loss so it likely was trauma trigger for him), but its reveal fits perfectly into place. Gorum so far is essentially spirit of battle without further personality, he is cool, but you'd think his fear would be rather simple topic to explore.

Like you would think that story about Irori's death would be boring, but if you look it as character study of what Irori fears, then suddenly it has lot of potential to give more depth to Irori

...and if this is being drawn from the fears of each deity, then that's a suggestion that the author would be able to plug into such fears inherently.... which in turn suggests the idea that it might be a god who garners that information through their domains, and that somehow that might be the god who winds up dying. On that line... Nethys seems the most likely. He's the one who achieved godhood by mainlining True Knowledge of All The Things.

/******/

At the same time, I'm not sure I buy that. In particular, these Prophecies include some major statements about the past and present, and i don't think we can call those parts in any way reliable. Like, Cayden Cailean's doesn't make sense as a fear unless he actually *is* sipping divinity from that hip-flask. Asmodeus's story only really makes sense as a fear if he really does still have a wound from Ilhys that never heals... and so forth. If we assume that the author is a deity, and specifically the deity who's going to die, it makes more sense as a set of shadows and stories and justifications to throw in the way of the death that hunts them - explanations for why nonono, it's not me who's going to die. It's that other god over there.

...which honestly suggests Norgorber, more than anything.

/********/

As far as who's going to get featured in one of these... I suspect that we'll see one from each of the 9 pre-remaster alignments, and then one more that will probably be N. The fact that they went N/LE/CG up front... well, it at least draws the eye to that implication.


Ravien999 wrote:
AceofMoxen wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Shelyn definitely goes into the "more interesting alive than dead" category. Zon Kuthon is just an edgelord without her.
Unless Shelyn's death sets Zon-Kuthton back on the path of light. That creates lots of interesting stories.

There's an old segement from Paizo where they talk about how ZK never really was Dou-Bral, Shelyn's brother, but rather that Dou-Bral was a vessel for ZK's evil self to inhabit like a incubation chamber from himself in another multiverse altogether.

That is to say, if we go by the dev team's old intent, there never was a "Light" option for ZK.

Do you have a link? That sounds fascinating!


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Calliope5431 wrote:
Ravien999 wrote:
AceofMoxen wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Shelyn definitely goes into the "more interesting alive than dead" category. Zon Kuthon is just an edgelord without her.
Unless Shelyn's death sets Zon-Kuthton back on the path of light. That creates lots of interesting stories.

There's an old segement from Paizo where they talk about how ZK never really was Dou-Bral, Shelyn's brother, but rather that Dou-Bral was a vessel for ZK's evil self to inhabit like a incubation chamber from himself in another multiverse altogether.

That is to say, if we go by the dev team's old intent, there never was a "Light" option for ZK.

Do you have a link? That sounds fascinating!

That might suggest the possibility that Bral is still in there and Shelyn does have reason to hope she can save him.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Sanityfaerie wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:

Tbh, if fourth fic continues the trend that these prophecies actually represent deity's worst fears, that really chances the paradigm. (it also would explain why all three stories so far have major red flag of "wait something is wrong". First one with psychopomps doing absolutely nothing without Pharasma, second with Ihys seeming rather comfy with using Rovagug as self destruct button if his gentle hand is threatened and third with the fact that belief making you into god isn't really pathfinder setting mechanic outside of like idols in 1e)

Like... There is no reason to have story about how Rovagug's death leads to massive power vacuum because that wouldn't be what Rovagug fears. Maybe there could be surprising character reveal, but that kind of story would be more representative of collective fear of gods rather than teaching something new about Rovagug.

Same way, unless short story would reveal something surprising about Gorum's insecurities, you'd think there wouldn't be much fo story to tell. Sure we didn't know about Cayden Cailean's possible impostor syndrome (except that in retrospect it makes 100% sense both in pathfinder and starfinder, starfinder iteration's relapse into further alcoholism post Gap seems kinda like redo of his alcohol binge memory loss so it likely was trauma trigger for him), but its reveal fits perfectly into place. Gorum so far is essentially spirit of battle without further personality, he is cool, but you'd think his fear would be rather simple topic to explore.

Like you would think that story about Irori's death would be boring, but if you look it as character study of what Irori fears, then suddenly it has lot of potential to give more depth to Irori

...and if this is being drawn from the fears of each deity, then that's a suggestion that the author would be able to plug into such fears inherently.... which in turn suggests the idea that it might be a god who garners that information through their domains, and that somehow that...

In this scenario, Cayden's fear isn't that something is sipping his divinity, its imposter syndrome and fear that he doesn't actually deserve his godhood because he can't remember how he earned it

Anyway I was thinking that the headcanon for ZK/Dou Bral was basically ZK being Dou Bral from previous reality reincarnating himself into this multiverse through cosmic time capsule more or less? iirc, I don't remember that paizo con segment

Either way it wasn't 100% canon, it was developer headcanon iirc


CorvusMask wrote:

In this scenario, Cayden's fear isn't that something is sipping his divinity, its imposter syndrome and fear that he doesn't actually deserve his godhood because he can't remember how he earned it

Not what I meant?

Like, a significant part of the underlying basis for that incarnation of imposter syndrome was "In a real way, I'm drinking my divinity from a hip flask. It's not really mine." If this scenario was an actual fear of Cayden's, that would mean that, yeah, the contents of his hip flask were somehow a big part of what was making him a god. I'm pretty sure that that's not being stated as canon.

So... sure, he could easily have imposter syndrome, but if the prophecy is tied into that somehow, it's only at the level of "prophetic entity divines (or guesses) that Cayden has imposter syndrome. Prophetic entity makes something up that sounds cool as an entertaining headcanon for why he might have imposter syndrome." That, in turn, suggests that this stuff is mostly just fabrication. It is, at best "inspired by the deity's fears", rather than "drawn from".

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmm, that's true... We need to see rest of them to make more educated guess


1 person marked this as a favorite.

All this talk of fear has me wondering if the author of these prophecies isn't a sahkil. Writing up a bunch of fear-centric prophecies that Pharasma's bunch have to sort out sounds like something they'd do.

Maybe these are the writings of a Sahkil Tormentor, pushing for more power by creating tools enabling them to feed off the fears of the gods. A quick skim of the names doesn't suggest any who would specialize in that kind of thing, other than perhaps Nameless, Who Sits on an Empty Throne, who sounds like they'd preside over fears of loss of control for the powerful.

Liberty's Edge

Color me confused. Three Blog Posts and I don't know what the stories mean other than they are "safe."

Shadow Lodge

8 people marked this as a favorite.

It's marketing. The mystery is supposed to hook you.


One interesting thread in the upcoming events is how Achaekek will react. He is supposed to protect the gods from those who would steal their power, but does that extend to those who would just outright kill them?

And there is also the matter of exemplars. Will Achaekek see them as legitimate inheritors of divine power, or as exactly the sort of thieves he has sworn to hunt down?

And even if he is fine with Exemplars, there's a good chance some of his cult will still brand Exemplars as blasphemies that must be cut down.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Another well-written entry. I enjoyed this one.

And CC is safe. Huzzah!


Cole Deschain wrote:
Kobold Catgirl wrote:
But if Zon-Kuthon isn't a god of BDSM, he's a god of self-harm and torture. There's not a lot left if you dial him back past that.

Darkness and the fear to be found within it, and becoming that fear.

Loss, how both survive and inflict it.

Surviving your pain and showing others how it feels.

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger" taken exactly as it is written without giving a moment's thought to all of the ways that statement isn't inherently true.

Expanding your sensorium through ever-more intense physical and mental trials to achieve self-mastery.

Like I said, a creative player can work around it! But self-harm is in Zon-Kuthon's Edicts. The first thought people are going to have is, you know, Reavers. That's fine for a supplement god like Naderi--I have tons of ideas for a noir-themed follower of Naderi who's focused on finding the ghosts of wayward lovers and putting them to rest--but for a core god, it's valuable (not necessary, but valuable) for "new players" to be able to intuitively access them regardless of where they're coming from. That's why Norgorber and Asmodeus are great! You can choose to focus on the serial killing and slavery elements if you want, but equally prominent, if not moreso, are their emphases on secrecy and contracts. Asmodeus can just be a mean cartoon devil. Urgathoa can just be the goddess of undeath. Even Lamashtu, arguably the second-edgiest god after ZK, can just be the Mother of Monsters.

Also, while Lamashtu is very, very edgy, her edicts and anathemas are actually pretty easy for a PC to play straight in any campaign! She's also just on Urgathoa's level of "too cool a villain to throw away without a damn good reason". I'm not sure Zon-Kuthon is on her level.

Personally, I really like Kalekot and kind of wish he was more emphasized over Zon-Kuthon as a PC option. Now that dude's a great reflection of what to do with fear.

By the way, I fully understand the logic of "I'd rather the dead god be chosen based on what's best for the story", and I partially agree! But I also think that if you're going to kill off a god, the setting needs to be left in a good place for new players who don't know the story and are looking for options. I absolutely think that "this god doesn't have a lot to offer or reflects a version of Golarion we're not really interested in emphasizing" is worth considering. I think Paizo will be taking both factors into consideration.

EDIT:
Just to help drive home what I'm talking about, here are the evil gods' Edicts and Anathemas, excluding Rovagug.

Lamashtu wrote:

Edicts: bring power to outcasts and the downtrodden, indoctrinate children in Lamashtu’s teachings, make the beautiful monstrous, reveal the corruption and flaws in all things

Anathema: attempt to treat a mental illness or deformity, provide succor to Lamashtu’s enemies
Norgorber wrote:

Edicts: keep your true identity secret, sacrifice anyone necessary, take every advantage in a fight, work from the shadows

Anathema: allow your true identity to be connected to your dark dealings, share a secret freely, show mercy
Urgathoa wrote:

Edicts: become undead upon death, create or protect the undead, sate your appetites

Anathema: deny your appetites, destroy undead, sacrifice your life
Asmodeus wrote:

Edicts: negotiate contracts to your best advantage, rule tyrannically and torture weaker beings, show subservience to your betters

Anathema break a contract, free a slave, insult Asmodeus by showing mercy to your enemies
Zon-Kuthon wrote:

Edicts: bring pain to the world, mutilate your body

Anathema: create permanent or long-lasting sources of light, provide comfort to those who suffer

Of these, I would say that Asmodeus's and Zon-Kuthon's are the most difficult to run PC clerics of. Asmodeus clerics can't free slaves and are directly guided to produce nightmare players ("the goblin surrendered!" "sorry, God says it's torture time :)"). Kuthite clerics are directly told to "mutilate their bodies", which, you know, isn't very ambiguous. These two are the gods who are not only overtly evil in their requirements, but also overtly disruptive--they force behavior that is very likely to make players uncomfortable.

On the other hand, Urgathoa works okay as long as nobody in the party directly hates undead or it's kept as a long-term goal like lichdom. They aren't allowed to destroy undead, of course, which can be a big problem in some campaigns if they don't have other tools or handy compromises. Don't play Age of Worms with an Urgathoan priestess.

Norgorber can be a little tricky with the "show mercy" thing, but aside from encouraging your favorite edgy assassin boys, he's pretty manageable. And Lamashtu can actually work great! A lot of her edicts are pretty sympathetic, and the one sketchy Anathema--"treat a mental illness"--is pretty interpretable. Some official versions of her have been published with that wording directly softened, even.

This was a fun exercise. Asmodeus is way more "problematic" as a PC god (as in, disruptive) than I realized, and Urgathoa might be a little trickier due to that one rule. I think Zon-Kuthon might be more disruptive than Asmodeus, but it's closer than I thought. Happy to concede that!

EDITx2: Also, I know Edicts aren't "strictly mandatory" like Anathemas are. I don't think that's super relevant here, but I'm aware!


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Noven wrote:
Color me confused. Three Blog Posts and I don't know what the stories mean other than they are "safe."

- One of the Core 20 is going to die (and Arazni is going to ascend)

- They're slow-rolling the reveal of which one. Each of these blog posts reveals one of them that *won't* be a target, and we're getting 10 of those (thus marking half the list as safe), one per week, before the final reveal of which one dies
- This is primarily in order to drive hype (and to drive speculation, which drives hype).
- We also get nifty altverse short fiction along the way about what it might look like if one of them *did* die, in a particular way, so that's fun.
- There's a bit of a wrapper fiction around this all about our favorite skeletal bird librarian digging this stuff up.

That's basically it.


Has anyone done a thread for brainstorming "friendly" clerics of sinister gods yet, now that alignment is gone and it's becoming much more tenable? I'd love to brainstorm some affable Naderians, Lamashtans and Kuthites.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

We have one in Strange Aeons now, she's got the spirit but is definitely confused about what Zon Kuthon is actually about. We're very confused as to how she still gets spells.


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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
Has anyone done a thread for brainstorming "friendly" clerics of sinister gods yet, now that alignment is gone and it's becoming much more tenable? I'd love to brainstorm some affable Naderians, Lamashtans and Kuthites.

From what we can tell, It's only going to work for the ones where unholy sanctification is optional. Unholy sanctification itself seems to require being A Bad Person in some fairly direct ways.

But aside from that, I've not seen such a thread. So go for it, if you like.


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I'm not sure what Unholy sanctification actually involves, aside from positioning yourself on the other end of a cosmic war. Unless it forces you to eat a live baby, I feel like it could be flavored as more a situation of, "Sure, I guess it positions me against the angels, but what have angels done for humans lately?" It's just too big for some mortals to really wrap their heads around as more than an abstract concept.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I mean, its pledging yourself to literally evil forces and accepting that to uphold pledge, you have to be actively malicious and malevolent


I do remember a thread about how Sarenrae allows murderers now that alignment is gone, but it faded rather quickly. In any case, three of the classic evil core 20 do not require sanctification, and iirc two of them formerly allowed neutral clerics, so it's an interesting idea. Now that Lamashtu had a slight wording change j think she's one of the most interesting "what do you mean my deity is evil? She's just the champion of the unloved" alt deity interpretations we have right now

Liberty's Edge

Sanityfaerie wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:

In this scenario, Cayden's fear isn't that something is sipping his divinity, its imposter syndrome and fear that he doesn't actually deserve his godhood because he can't remember how he earned it

Not what I meant?

Like, a significant part of the underlying basis for that incarnation of imposter syndrome was "In a real way, I'm drinking my divinity from a hip flask. It's not really mine." If this scenario was an actual fear of Cayden's, that would mean that, yeah, the contents of his hip flask were somehow a big part of what was making him a god. I'm pretty sure that that's not being stated as canon.

So... sure, he could easily have imposter syndrome, but if the prophecy is tied into that somehow, it's only at the level of "prophetic entity divines (or guesses) that Cayden has imposter syndrome. Prophetic entity makes something up that sounds cool as an entertaining headcanon for why he might have imposter syndrome." That, in turn, suggests that this stuff is mostly just fabrication. It is, at best "inspired by the deity's fears", rather than "drawn from".

All this reminded me that the Core 20 deity most in tune with fear is Zon-Kuthon.

Liberty's Edge

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Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
I do remember a thread about how Sarenrae allows murderers now that alignment is gone, but it faded rather quickly. In any case, three of the classic evil core 20 do not require sanctification, and iirc two of them formerly allowed neutral clerics, so it's an interesting idea. Now that Lamashtu had a slight wording change j think she's one of the most interesting "what do you mean my deity is evil? She's just the champion of the unloved" alt deity interpretations we have right now

Edicts and anathema have not changed, nor have the values upheld by the deities. Lamashtu was Evil, so she is still evil.


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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
I'm not sure what Unholy sanctification actually involves, aside from positioning yourself on the other end of a cosmic war. Unless it forces you to eat a live baby, I feel like it could be flavored as more a situation of, "Sure, I guess it positions me against the angels, but what have angels done for humans lately?" It's just too big for some mortals to really wrap their heads around as more than an abstract concept.

A quote that @The Raven Black pointed me to

Remaster Core Preview, page 3 wrote:
Sanctification: Some deities sanctify their clerics and similarly devoted followers. This gives the follower the holy or unholy trait. The holy trait indicates a powerful devotion to altruism, helping others, and battling against unholy forces like fiends and undead. The unholy trait, in turn, shows devotion to victimizing others, inflicting harm, and battling celestial powers.

It's not the same as the all-encompassing vaguely-defined concepts of "good" and "evil" that we used to have, that invited everyone to sub in their own moral intuitions and then argue about them. It's a lot more limited in scope and more clearly defined. Still, "devotion to victimizing others, inflicting harm" is pretty damning as far as coming up with a character who's appropriately "friendly".

Now that's all the preview, so it might not make it to the final? At the same time....

Anyway, if it does hold true, any deity that requires unholy sanctification of their clerics is inherently requiring that their clerics be that kind of person, and that carries its own implications.

The Raven Black wrote:
Edicts and anathema have not changed, nor have the values upheld by the deities. Lamashtu was Evil, so she is still evil.

Alignments were always pretty ill-defined, and there's no longer any indication that "evil" exists as a thing in the same way. Lamashtu does have the same edicts and anathema, and they suggest a deity who's perhaps not in the healthiest headspace... but they're not necessarily inherently evil in the way you seem to be using the word.

Liberty's Edge

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The Lower Planes are still there.

Lamashtu is still an ascended Demon lord.

Her servants are still doing terrible things.


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I don't have PC1 on hand to reference, but I understood that Lamashtu's anathema has changed (specifically to swap the mention of mental illness and deformity for a less loaded expression of the same concept).

Nevertheless, Lamashtu is still a demon goddess and my point was not to say that she is not evil. Rather, that she is one of the evil gods who most permits the story of a self-righteous follower who believes that Lamashtu is a savior of the downtrodden on their own perhaps deluded worldview.

It's not that she's not evil, it's that her teachings seem to be the right shade of moral dark grey to make the most interesting story. It's always been a little difficult with alignment telling the story if somebody who believes they're justified when they're slipping in to evil, and Lamashtu not requiring unholy sanctification helps that... even if the fact that she doesn't offer holy is an inconvenient truth to overlook for this follower.

Grand Archive

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Sanityfaerie wrote:
Kobold Catgirl wrote:
I'm not sure what Unholy sanctification actually involves, aside from positioning yourself on the other end of a cosmic war. Unless it forces you to eat a live baby, I feel like it could be flavored as more a situation of, "Sure, I guess it positions me against the angels, but what have angels done for humans lately?" It's just too big for some mortals to really wrap their heads around as more than an abstract concept.

A quote that @The Raven Black pointed me to

Remaster Core Preview, page 3 wrote:
Sanctification: Some deities sanctify their clerics and similarly devoted followers. This gives the follower the holy or unholy trait. The holy trait indicates a powerful devotion to altruism, helping others, and battling against unholy forces like fiends and undead. The unholy trait, in turn, shows devotion to victimizing others, inflicting harm, and battling celestial powers.

It's not the same as the all-encompassing vaguely-defined concepts of "good" and "evil" that we used to have, that invited everyone to sub in their own moral intuitions and then argue about them. It's a lot more limited in scope and more clearly defined. Still, "devotion to victimizing others, inflicting harm" is pretty damning as far as coming up with a character who's appropriately "friendly".

Now that's all the preview, so it might not make it to the final? At the same time....

Anyway, if it does hold true, any deity that requires unholy sanctification of their clerics is inherently requiring that their clerics be that kind of person, and that carries its own implications.

[...]

The exact same wording is in a sidebar on page 36 of the Player Core remastered book.


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The Raven Black wrote:

The Lower Planes are still there.

Lamashtu is still an ascended Demon lord.

Her servants are still doing terrible things.

Yep.

The characters did not change just because "alignment" is gone. Just because there isn't a mechanic for "freaking evil" doesn't mean that, say, Socothbenoth isn't freaking evil. He's still an unspeakably vile predator.

It's like saying there's no "red" or "blue" keyword on monster statblocks, and therefore monsters do not have color. Color is totally a thing in-universe, but there's no need to spell out a purely RP concept like that mechanically. Likewise, morality still exists, it's just that it's not mechanically relevant anymore.


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We're talking less about "is the deity evil" and more about how a cleric might interpret their worship, though. Like how Norgorber has special lore dispensations for nonevil worshipers. Just consider it a fun creative exercise and don't worry too much about it! I've moved it offthread.


Kobold Catgirl wrote:
We're talking less about "is the deity evil" and more about how a cleric might interpret their worship, though. Like how Norgorber has special lore dispensations for nonevil worshipers. Just consider it a fun creative exercise and don't worry too much about it! I've moved it offthread.

Quite.

I still think one of the funniest things in Golarion is the fact that Nocticula's pre-redemption (around 4719 AR, or 2019 in our universe) "Redeemer Queen" followers went straight to the Abyss. Even if they were good-aligned. Because heresy doesn't pay.

demon cackling


Something I've forgotten to mention: so far, all these stories are mostly focused on "what happens when this god had died", instead of "what might kill this god". I think that's a good decision, from a creative-direction standpoint; that means you don't bring up issues of "XYZ could totally body ABC", or "here's a doomsday weapon that can kill gods". If that trend continues, I'm curious as to what they'll have as cause-of-death for the other seven, or if it'll be elided like "yeah XYZ died in... some manner, but that's not the important part of this story".

Also, I'd really LIKE it if we got to see what-if stories for the other nine; ideally as stuff here, because then there'd be no publishing-delay and it'd be free, but I can also picture them as interspersed within a published book that relates to the topic. Or at the very least, because I fully understand "writing up good stories" takes time and effort, I'd like to hear their one-sentence-summaries for the nine that didn't get written about ("we never really discussed it, and I have no idea" is always a valid response).

Also-also, I've thought of ANOTHER reason why I want the dead god to be one who's around in Starfinder: because I think it'd be funny to hear the official explanation of "well Starfinder isn't NECESSARILY the far future of Pathfinder, but it's not necessarily NOT that either".

Also-also-also, all this talk about "what each god most fears" is giving me some MAJOR The Magnus Archives flashbacks; anyone know if people on the creative team have listened to that podcast?


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Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:

I don't have PC1 on hand to reference, but I understood that Lamashtu's anathema has changed (specifically to swap the mention of mental illness and deformity for a less loaded expression of the same concept).

It did. PC1:

Edicts: bring power to outcasts and the downtrodden, indoctrinate others in Lamashtu's teachings, make the beautiful monstrous, reveal the corruption and flaws in all things.
Anathema: attempt to change that which makes you different, provide succor to Lamashtu's enemies.

Her description still paints a relatively evil picture, and the whole package isn't exactly rainbows and sunshine, but those anathema's are perfectly fine. Hell, the new anathema resonates pretty strongly with me as a nonbinary person.

In terms of "can a Cleric of this fit into an average adventuring party?" I suspect so, yeah.


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AceofMoxen wrote:
Calliope5431 wrote:
AceofMoxen wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Shelyn definitely goes into the "more interesting alive than dead" category. Zon Kuthon is just an edgelord without her.
Unless Shelyn's death sets Zon-Kuthton back on the path of light. That creates lots of interesting stories.

True, but it's also a minefield.

"Kill the happy nice sister so her edgelord brother can be redeemed" gets justifiably panned on a regular basis.

Of course, if there's anyone I trust to navigate that arc well, it's Paizo. I'm just guessing the other way around (with pieces of Zon-Kuthon becoming part of Shelyn) is more likely.

I don't think it would count as a "frigding," because Shelyn wouldn't be forgotten, we had plenty of time with her, and she had other connections. Like, Desna's hair trigger would be pulled, setting up a great conflict.

Strictly speaking, "Fridging" in this context is any time a female character is tortured or killed with the purpose of spurring a male character's plot forward. So yeah, if the kill Shelyn because that allows them to do something with Zon-Kuthon, it's absolutely Fridging even though she got to exist in the story before that. (In the most infamous case, the writer flat out said he developed the fridged character before killing her specifically to try to increase the impact, so its not like this is strictly for characters that we barely know.)

At the end of the day it's a trope, and tropes can be used in effective ways, not all of which are bad... but this particular trope has a bad reputation for a reason.

And of course, there's the whole problem of "we're going to drive the story forward by killing off the Queer Goddess of Love" in THIS political climate has a serious "Agents of Edgewatch" vibe to it.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

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Icoret wrote:
So how much of this is canonical then? Does Cayden really believe that he is only a God because he faked passing the test and everybody believed him? Is the drink in his flask real?

What is canon:

1) The nosoi psychopomp, Yivali, uncovered a series of prophecies she (or the original author) refers to as "The Godsrain Prophecies" and has been researching them and annotating them in the process.

2) The prophecies contain the text included in the "The Death of [GODWHODIES]" sections of this webfiction series.

Beyond that, it's all up for debate.

I mean, I can predict that Oppenheimer will win the Best Picture Oscar next month, but until that happens (or doesn't) it's not canon for our real world. Same is true for the contents of these prophecies.

Shadow Lodge

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Jan Caltrop wrote:
Also-also-also, all this talk about "what each god most fears" is giving me some MAJOR The Magnus Archives flashbacks; anyone know if people on the creative team have listened to that podcast?

If they haven't, they really should. Everyone should. It deserves more Eyes.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kobold Catgirl wrote:
Like I said, a creative player can work around it!

But none of that was me being creative XD It was just switching off the "lots of players dig Laori" lights and looking into what Zonny-boy's schtick is.

But let's get back to Laori... she keeps her spells, her abilities, all that jazz, all while being a valid ally to an ostensibly (or at least, intended to be) good guy bunch of PCs. If you wanna play a corner case nice-ish Kuthite, the template is already there.

Also, remember, thanks to their recreational activities, Kuthites have a rep for being great doctors. (which makes their anathema really funny)

Certainly, "bring pain to the world, mutilate your body," can be tough to slot into a bunch of friends who would really rather you didn't, but so are "make the beautiful monstrous" and "reveal the corruption and flaws in all things" (it's the "all" that causes trouble there}


"Mutilate your body" is a lot more specific.


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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
"Mutilate your body" is a lot more specific.

I disagree... "make the beautiful monstrous" is pretty unambiguous- and the subjective nature of beauty actually makes it worse- it means that where the cleric sees beauty, they must make it monstrous.


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Tridus wrote:
AceofMoxen wrote:
Calliope5431 wrote:
AceofMoxen wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Shelyn definitely goes into the "more interesting alive than dead" category. Zon Kuthon is just an edgelord without her.
Unless Shelyn's death sets Zon-Kuthton back on the path of light. That creates lots of interesting stories.

True, but it's also a minefield.

"Kill the happy nice sister so her edgelord brother can be redeemed" gets justifiably panned on a regular basis.

Of course, if there's anyone I trust to navigate that arc well, it's Paizo. I'm just guessing the other way around (with pieces of Zon-Kuthon becoming part of Shelyn) is more likely.

I don't think it would count as a "frigding," because Shelyn wouldn't be forgotten, we had plenty of time with her, and she had other connections. Like, Desna's hair trigger would be pulled, setting up a great conflict.

Strictly speaking, "Fridging" in this context is any time a female character is tortured or killed with the purpose of spurring a male character's plot forward. So yeah, if the kill Shelyn because that allows them to do something with Zon-Kuthon, it's absolutely Fridging even though she got to exist in the story before that. (In the most infamous case, the writer flat out said he developed the fridged character before killing her specifically to try to increase the impact, so its not like this is strictly for characters that we barely know.)

At the end of the day it's a trope, and tropes can be used in effective ways, not all of which are bad... but this particular trope has a bad reputation for a reason.

And of course, there's the whole problem of "we're going to drive the story forward by killing off the Queer Goddess of Love" in THIS political climate has a serious "Agents of Edgewatch" vibe to it.

It's absolutely fridging. And Zon-Kuthon would be the archetypal "male character" for whose benefit it happens. The trope is usually employed for dark, brooding antiheroes or villains, which is exactly his thing.

The fact that Shelyn is ALSO the gay goddess of love just makes it even more of a PR suicide. The look would be incredibly bad with the audience Paizo generally courts.


Zon-Kuthon dragged his own father into the same nightmarish location that corrupted him, and turned him into a mindless monster of destruction.

He's already destroyed his family with his own two hands, he's not going to change for his sisters death.

Rather one might question Shelyns possible 'blasphemy’ for being a reason for her death...after all the Goddess of Love died once, another may follow suite.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:

I don't have PC1 on hand to reference, but I understood that Lamashtu's anathema has changed (specifically to swap the mention of mental illness and deformity for a less loaded expression of the same concept).

Nevertheless, Lamashtu is still a demon goddess and my point was not to say that she is not evil. Rather, that she is one of the evil gods who most permits the story of a self-righteous follower who believes that Lamashtu is a savior of the downtrodden on their own perhaps deluded worldview.

It's not that she's not evil, it's that her teachings seem to be the right shade of moral dark grey to make the most interesting story. It's always been a little difficult with alignment telling the story if somebody who believes they're justified when they're slipping in to evil, and Lamashtu not requiring unholy sanctification helps that... even if the fact that she doesn't offer holy is an inconvenient truth to overlook for this follower.

In my Kingmaker CRPG, the Lamashtu priestess/cult leader was a better religious/faith leader than the foolish 'holier-than-thou' Heaven knock-off.

Just sayin.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Eh Owlcat loves "moral complexity", but even then event card resolutions change based on leader you have, and Lamashtu cultist's event resolutions are often brutal

Also I feel like that is ungenerous description of the other character xD

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