Is... Calistria a reference to an FMV Horror-Adventure Game from the 90s?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion


Link for reference to the game Harvester for the PC, in a a Lotus Prince Let's Play.

Warning: swear words and adult situations likely ensue.

So. The "wasp woman" feels that wasps are super-sensual, and they act as a direct rebuttal to the "Judeo-Christian" value system, filled with passion and desire.

Sound familiar?

Obviously, Calistria looks nothing like the lady in the game, but I found the topical similarities too striking to ignore. Was Calistria inspired by this game?

I wonder if any other of Golarions gods are similarly inspired (by any media, not necessarily the game Harvester in specific)? Anyone here have any similar connections they've noticed? Anyone official have any word on this? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?

Sovereign Court

Erastil is very similar to Cernunnos, a celtic god.


Link to Cernunnos for the curious.

EDIT: To be clear, I see the connection that there's a stag-horned god. While I don't see the connection beyond the most basic, it could very definitely be a basic source of inspiration.

EDIT 2: Really, there's nothing truly known besides the male god with stag horns is my point above. I'm not actually disagreeing with Duskrunner1, though I think my edit came off as doing so. Whoops. :/

Sovereign Court

This might assist some with my reasoning. A different article about Cernunnos. I do agree that it isn't an exact carbon copy, but does serve off as a source of inspiration. Would be interesting to hear thoughts on how the gods came about in design.

Another example is Zon-Kuthon and the various cenobytes from Hellbringer.


the Pathfinder setting has a lot of references to many things.

The first world (I've known it for) is the fairy tale things like fairies and unicorns.

I think Absolom has similar ideas to the United States (I could be wrong.) Either Absolom or the Andorans (not talking about the initial US.)

Kaer Maga may be a reference to The Nightmare before christmas (because really, there's so much crazy things in there such as troll seers spilling their guts to tell the future, giants roaming the streets, and necromancers prancing down the streets.)
--
I like the diversity (I just wish I had the time to read up on more of the mythos.)


Absolom, I know, is at least partially a reference to/based on Jerusalem.

Andoran is basically a United States-template country, if the U.S. was in the midst of Europe (if the U.S. mostly followed the tenets of an angel instead of a deity, and Britain was a devil-worshiping and was also the inheritor of the Byzantine empire (which still exists).

I'll check the other article on Cernunnos soon! :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Nope; Calistria's not a reference to that game, as far as I know. Calistria's one of the deities NOT from my homebrew world—she's one of the gods we invented specifically for Golarion, so I suppose it's possible that someone else involved in her creation played Harvester... but I doubt it.

That said, there were some deities inspired by media and mythology:

Asmodeus and Lamashtu are, of course, direct pulls from real-world mythology.

Erastil is somewhat inspired by various Celtic deities.

Gozreh is inspired in part by Werner Herzog's views on nature, and how nature is not a soft and lovely thing but a brutal and merciless thing.

Pharasma is inspired in part by Death from Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" comics.

Norgorber is a little inspired by the writings of Ramsey Campbell (particularly "The Face that Must Die") and Robert Chambers (particularly his short story, "The Repairer of Reputations"), as well as a dose of Fritz Leiber's stories.

Rovagug has a bit of Lovecraft in him, but is also inspired by the Yeats poem "The Second Coming."

Zon-Kuthon is very much inspired by Clive Barker's stories, particularly "The Hellbound Heart" and the Hellraiser movies.


Thanks, James!

The segment I linked to in that video makes the woman sound so very much like a Calistrian, I was just insanely curious.

Anyway,that's really cool!


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James Jacobs wrote:
Zon-Kuthon is very much inspired by Clive Barker's stories, particularly "The Hellbound Heart" and the Hellraiser movies.

I can't possibly see how they're connected

Project Manager

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Tacticslion wrote:

Link for reference to the game Harvester for the PC, in a a Lotus Prince Let's Play.

Warning: swear words and adult situations likely ensue.

So. The "wasp woman" feels that wasps are super-sensual, and they act as a direct rebuttal to the "Judeo-Christian" value system, filled with passion and desire.

Sound familiar?

Obviously, Calistria looks nothing like the lady in the game, but I found the topical similarities too striking to ignore. Was Calistria inspired by this game?

I wonder if any other of Golarions gods are similarly inspired (by any media, not necessarily the game Harvester in specific)? Anyone here have any similar connections they've noticed? Anyone official have any word on this? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?

I wasn't around here when Calistria was created, so I can't speak to the process and references that went into her design, but there's a long-standing tradition of associating goddesses with bees/wasps. The Minoan mother goddess was known as the Pure Mother Bee, and her priestesses were addressed as "Melissa" (bee). (Check out Elizabeth Hand's Waking the Moon if you're interested -- it's a novel, but it's filled with a lot of interesting info about early Mediterranean goddess cults.) There's an Indian goddess whose name I can't recall who is associated with bees, and Rhea, Artemis, Cybele, and Demeter were all known as bee goddesses. The Egyptian goddess of chaos and fear was pictured with a wasp's head.

The thing most of these goddesses have in common is that they were deities who could be benevolent, but they weren't exactly safe. No homey Hestias here, no serene Selenes, no compassionate Kuan Yins. These are all goddesses who will help you out if the whim takes them, and will cut you if you look at them wrong. They're the feminine with all its teeth and claws intact.

Calistria seems to me like an appropriate fictional heiress of that tradition. :-)


While I've known about many of the bee goddesses (though not some of the nifty specific information you've dropped here), I hadn't seen the wasp goddess angle before (so the Egyptian goddess thing is new to me), especially as compared to the bee-ethic of hard work v. intense passion and comparing sting-and-die to sting-at-will (which is directly called out in the various products as one reason Calistria prefers wasps to bees).

Calistria is indeed a really interesting goddess, and a rather strange (and frightening) combination of things: lust, trickery, and revenge. The last is kind of one of the most nightmarish things about the religion (when compared to the other two): she has a large number of sacred prostitutes who pride themselves on being coy, liars, and tricksters, whom you could offend at any moment by actively attempting to worship their goddess, if you're not careful. In some regards, I could almost see it as a the Lolth-like "make everyone better through [potential] strife" by forcing people to be clever and cautious, while simultaneously encouraging tempestuousness.

Speaking of Lolth, Calistria also brings a really cool 'different angle' to elves, in my opinion, and makes for some interesting visuals for Castrovel too (imagining how their structure and style might imitate a wasp-goddesses place, be somewhat in-tune with nature, and also honor their goddess of architecture, just as an example).

Anyway, thanks!

I'm also interested in any other potentially obscure 'inspiration for the setting elements' that may be going on.

Sovereign Court

Very interesting indeed. Thank you both James and Jessica for that insight. Something new learned everyday.

Sovereign Court Contributor

Jessica Price wrote:
There's an Indian goddess whose name I can't recall who is associated with bees...

Bhamari or Bhramari Devi. Her name is reminiscent of buzzing, and means a large bee or wasp in Sanskrit, of which she is the patron deity; she's a minor aspect of Devi,the immanent goddess.Here's a fun article that expands on what Jessica is saying.


Stay beautiful, James. Don't ever change.


Of course the question for me has always been. Why is she neutral?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As opposed to what?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

The NPC wrote:
Of course the question for me has always been. Why is she neutral?

Why is who neutral?


James Jacobs wrote:
Rovagug...but is also inspired by the Yeats poem "The Second Coming."

Woah.


James Jacobs wrote:
The NPC wrote:
Of course the question for me has always been. Why is she neutral?
Why is who neutral?

Calistria of course.

Silver Crusade

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Tacticslion, I'm on a YouTube 90's FMV Adventure game cutscene binge right now and I'm thanking/blaming you. :)


You're welcome!

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I am going to play Pharasma as way more cool/laid back than I used to.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I also read the description of Pharasma with interest, and now want to create an acolyte next time I play.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

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James Jacobs wrote:

Pharasma is inspired in part by Death from Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" comics.

In honor of PAD, the next character that gets resurrected in a PFS game will come back with a hairbrush.

Shadow Lodge

DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
I am going to play Pharasma as way more cool/laid back than I used to.

Have to agree. Learning this has completely changed my perception of Pharasma. Not how I imagined her at all, from reading the descriptions written elsewhere.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

The NPC wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
The NPC wrote:
Of course the question for me has always been. Why is she neutral?
Why is who neutral?
Calistria of course.

Ah.

Well... to start, I wouldn't say "of course" there, since she's not neutral. She's chaotic neutral. And since other deities, including Pharasma (who IS neutral) came up in this thread... I needed more info.

ANYway.

Calistria is chaotic neutral because she had to be chaotic, because revenge and trickery and lust are chaotic forces. None of them are particularly evil or good, though.

She's also the most popular elven deity in the Inner Sea region (note... this is NOT the same as saying the "most popular elven deity among elves"). Since she's an elven deity, and since elves skew toward chaotic good... that reinforces the chaotic viewpoint of her alignment and locks that in... but revenge and trickery are certianly not iconic "good" actions. So that skewed Calistria away from being a chaotic good deity. Furthermore, making the most popular elven deity in our core 20 deities be chaotic neutral instead of chaotic good lets us throw a bit of unexpected surprise in the expectations.

She's not evil, of course, becuase she's an elven god, and elves are not evil often enough to justify an evil elven god. Drow, of course, being an exception, since they don't worship elven gods anyway.


James Jacobs wrote:


Ah.

Well... to start, I wouldn't say "of course" there, since she's not neutral. She's chaotic neutral. And since other deities, including Pharasma (who IS neutral) came up in this thread... I needed more info.

ANYway.

Calistria is chaotic neutral because she had to be chaotic, because revenge and trickery and lust are chaotic forces. None of them are particularly evil or good, though.

She's also the most popular elven deity in the Inner Sea region (note... this is NOT the same as saying the "most popular elven deity among elves"). Since she's an elven deity, and since elves skew toward chaotic good... that reinforces the chaotic viewpoint of her alignment and locks that in... but revenge and trickery are certianly not iconic "good" actions. So that skewed Calistria away from being a chaotic good deity. Furthermore, making the most popular elven deity in our core 20 deities be chaotic neutral instead of chaotic good lets us throw a bit of unexpected surprise in the expectations.

She's not evil, of course, becuase she's an elven god, and elves are not evil often enough to justify an evil elven god. Drow, of course, being an exception, since they don't worship elven gods anyway.

Meant to say chaotic neutral. Sorry about that. The chaotic part of her alignment I get. It's the neutral part that always struck me as weird. If she hadn't been an elven goddess would she have been chaotic neutral? It almost sounds that the fact that she is an elven goddess is what's keeping her from the evil territory.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

The NPC wrote:
Meant to say chaotic neutral. Sorry about that. The chaotic part of her alignment I get. It's the neutral part that always struck me as weird. If she hadn't been an elven goddess would she have been chaotic neutral? It almost sounds that the fact that she is an elven goddess is what's keeping her from the evil territory.

Yeah; she still would be. If only because we would need a replacement chaotic neutral deity for the core 20 if she wasn't.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Also there is the simple fact that Calistria isn't pro-active enough to be Evil.
Yeah, you piss her off, she will make you wish you had never been born, but she lacks the active 'make life hell for everyone but me' theme found in most if not all of Pathfinder/Golarion's Evil Deitys.
Which is one of the reason's I flip-flop between questioning Lissala's always LE alignment & concluding that Thassilon was doomed from the get-go.


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There's also the fact that while she's interested in revenge, trickery, and lust... she actually does things for others. Nice things, when it's important.

She even helped Desna out in Desna's super-bad-jam-that-nearly-caused-most-of-the-gods-to-throw-her-out 'just because'.

Vengeance can be used as a force for good (though it's usually evil, by admission); it also doesn't have to be violent, cruel, or even ultimately unpleasant: I've known friends take revenge on each other, and pull an ever-escalating prank-war, and loving each other and life very well (speaking of trickery...). Trickery is just as often heroic as it is villainous. Lust is, by definition, sin, but in societal terms lust has come to mean merely 'strong attraction to' as opposed to the outright sin referenced in the Judeo-Christian Biblical scriptures. (Similarly Pride, like Lust, has come to means something very different from the sin the Scriptures talk about, so we take Pride in our work, our honor, our family name, but are told "pride is evil"... it sends a mixed message. Really, it's a combination of linguistic mutation and inflation of separate concepts into single words). Calistria's also a bit of a tease, embodying lust, but not it's consummation (again kind of going back to the trickery)*.

Anyway, that's how I play Calistria: chaotic, certainly, and exceedingly dangerous, but definitively not evil. She might pull minor 'vengeance' against you, if she feels you deserve it, but it might not be as bad as all that. She's an emotional firecracker, though, so watch out!

* Horrifyingly enough, it's actually Urgathoa who embodies the sin of over-indulgence. While normally that relates to 'hunger', its actually been outright stated that it applies to "all" the "hungers" of the flesh... and... ew. Oh, man, ew. Also, she's evil.

Liberty's Edge

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James Jacobs wrote:
Gozreh is inspired in part by Werner Herzog's views

Gozreh.

Herzog.

Wait a second.

...

ARRRRG!

CAN'T UNKNOW!


brreitz wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Gozreh is inspired in part by Werner Herzog's views

Gozreh.

Herzog.

Wait a second.

...

ARRRRG!

CAN'T UNKNOW!

Well, f%~$ me.

Sczarni

brreitz wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Gozreh is inspired in part by Werner Herzog's views

Gozreh.

Herzog.

Wait a second.

...

ARRRRG!

CAN'T UNKNOW!

Wow. Me too.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Trinite wrote:
brreitz wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Gozreh is inspired in part by Werner Herzog's views

Gozreh.

Herzog.

Wait a second.

...

ARRRRG!

CAN'T UNKNOW!

Wow. Me too.

I absolutely love it. I wish he and Robert E Howard had been contemporaries, just for the possibilities of some kind of nightmare manifesto being produced that we could raid for material.

"I believe the common denominator of the Universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility and murder."


brreitz wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Gozreh is inspired in part by Werner Herzog's views

Gozreh.

Herzog.

Wait a second.

...

ARRRRG!

CAN'T UNKNOW!

Even dwarfs started small.

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The African Orisha spirit Oshun, whose name means "Sweetwater," is also heavily associated with bees, honey, and for that matter, sacred prostitutes.

Oshun is also a lot nicer than Calistria, except when she finally loses her almost infinite patience, in which case she'd make Calistria look positively mild by comparison.

It would be nice to see a picture of a Mwangi interpretation of Calistria. While all the depiction of the wasp goddess have thus far been quite hot, as is appropriate, it would be nice to see a depiction who isn't so white. Ditto with all the gods and goddesses who didn't previously have mortal ethnicities.

Sovereign Court Contributor

There's also an Esoteric (Tantric) Buddhist goddess and Buddha, Kurukulla.

Besides being the patron of bees, she's also the Buddhist goddess of love. She's bright red in color, and wears red lotus blossoms from which her angry bees fly. She can be called upon to make people happy, fall in love, change their minds, or reconcile. Originally Kurukulla was a more CN sort of being, called upon to bend people to a sorcerer's will; she was associated with a story where a Naga fell in love with a queen and united with her, fathering a son. Consequently, magical practitioners asked for her help in curing poison, attracting the amorous attentions of naginis, etc. Many of her spells involve menstrual blood.
In Esoteric Buddhism, however, she is called upon for compassionate love and harmony, not to compel others. As a symbol of transcendent bliss, she is a gateway to enlightenment. She is unique amongst Tantric goddesses in having no male consort, and hence being autonomous from masculine forces. She is a ruler of dakinis, and dwells in a cave. Oh, and her weapons are a goad, she wears a garland of human heads and a bone skirt, and a crown of skulls.

She's a pretty awesome goddess, all in all.

Sczarni

Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
brreitz wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Gozreh is inspired in part by Werner Herzog's views

Gozreh.

Herzog.

Wait a second.

...

ARRRRG!

CAN'T UNKNOW!

Even dwarfs started small.

That's the first movie my wife and I saw together when we were dating.

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