Lissala


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion


So we know that Lissala was/is LE. But my main question is how she is LE. What exactly did she do that was so evil? What sorts of evil things did she promote? Etc. etc.. Is there any information on this?

Silver Crusade

IIRC one of the Shattered Star AP volumes had an article about her, and the stats for her herald.

Scarab Sages

I think a more interesting question is - did she start out LE? Her story and the history of Thassilon seem to speak to the corrupting influence of power.


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Lissala always struck me as more of a grey area between lawful evil and lawful neutral. She promoted the sharing of magic, not it's hoarding, but also obedience and a devotion to your masters. She had no problem with slavery as far as we know, but appeared more concerned about knowledge and society than the evils of those. Perhaps her biggest strike against her is that she doesn't appear to care HOW you become powerful magically.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

She most likely was on the evil tending side of Lawful Neutral all along.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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She's always been lawful evil... but more lawful THAN evil, whereas I'd say that Zon-Kuthon is more evil than lawful.


I'm not questioning that she has always been LE. My question is what exactly is it she does that's evil?


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It depends on how one defines "evil". For my campaigns, the concept of evil is defined as selfishness:
-Chaotic evil is reckless self-indulgence (The Joker: "Some men just WANT to watch the world burn).
-Neutral evil is pure egotism (Charles Augustus Magnussen: "I'm not a villain, I have no evil plan. I'm a businessman acquiring assets).
-Lawful evil is tyrannical self-interest. (Sauron: One ring to rule them all. One ring to find them. One ring to bring them all. And in the darkness bind them).

The whole belief system surrounding Lissala promotes a tyrannical manipulation of magic. It birthed the runelords and sin magic. The question shouldn't be "what exactly is it she does that' evil" because she doesn't need to do anything. Her faith encourages its followers to give into their megalomania, to pursue their own power and subjugate all around them, and to indulge in their most wicked desires. She enables men to become devils. She rewards discipline but encourages despots. That's the definition of Lawful Evil.


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Vindicator wrote:
Her faith encourages its followers to give into their megalomania, to pursue their own power and subjugate all around them, and to indulge in their most wicked desires.

From my understanding it did not do that. That was something the Runelords did all on their own. Originally her system was composed of seven virtues (wealth, fertility, honest pride, abundance, eager striving, righteous anger, and rest). All of which seem to be good things (hence the word virtue). It's the runelords that changed the system, not her. I understand that the runelords are evil. Again my question is, what is it that Lissala did or promoted that was evil?


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I'm sure if you were to have a conversation with Asmodeus, he would tell you there is no greed, only wealth. I'm sure he'd say there is no lust, only fertility. There is no wrath, only righteous anger. That there is no sin, only virtue.

Lissala's seven virtues are nothing more than sugar coated synonyms of the seven deadly sins. Is it that hard to imagine that evil recognizes the importance of subtlety or deception? That some of the greatest evils are those that pretend to be good? Yes, the runelords became more openly decadent and violent in their worship of Lissala, but Lissala never abandoned them or censored her followers for "warping" her teachings. Most gods would unleash holy fire on followers who twisted legitimate virtues into sins, but Lissala continued to support the runelords. Perhaps Lissala represents the "banality of evil". That her devotion to Law made her blind to the clear viciousness or oppressive nature of her teachings? But more likely, Lissala is aware of her own wickedness, but saw such evil as necessary to maintain order.

To surmise, what did Lissala do that was evil? She was the active patron to an evil faith, an evil group of despot wizards, and an evil nation for centuries. What did Lissala promote that was evil? The enslavement of several races, the runelords themselves, the Empire of Thassilon, sin magic, the construction of the Sihedron, and general lawful evilness.

Is she the cackling billboard sign of evil that Zon-Kuthon is? No. But she is evil. The kind of evil that slowly corrupts empires. The kind of evil that makes good man weaker. She is the embodiment of "absolute power corrupts absolutely".


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The Runelord's weren't clerics, so their power didn't come from her. They could call her religion whatever they wanted without having to worry about a loss of spells. And since her worship was practically only in Thassalon, which they controlled almost absolutely, she had no followers to oppose them with. And there's not a very large amount of examples of dieties punishing their followers for going against their teachings anyway (see the Cult of the Dawnflower).

While she may have deliberately posed those virtues when in reality they were sins, nowhere that I've read says that she did that. It just says that they were corrupted, and not by her. Can't be corrupted if that's what they were to start with.

Slavery is not inherently evil (just easily becomes so), and she is not said to have actually promoted it. The Runelords were inherently evil, but again, she is not said to have actually promoted them apart from Xin (not sure about his alignment). The Empire was evil, but again, she isn't said to have supported it, just Xin, and the empire didn't become evil until after him. She did not create/support sin magic, her thing was rune magic. The Sihedron is not evil to the best of my knowledge.

This is part of my quandary. While she is associated with many "evil" things, there is no record of her actual involvement with said things. Just their involvement with her.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

For the record, Xin was LN.


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Lissala's article in Shattered Star is interesting. It reminds me a lot of the Dispater article in Kobold Magazine, actually.

The entity herself actually sounds relatively reasonable, other than her encouragement of both blind obedience and disproportionate punishment. And the resultant actions of her followers that she was completely okay with.

(Similarly, Dispater in his article actually comes across as an honorable, reasonable entity, and then you reach how his followers perform sacrifices, and it's incredibly jarring. Dispater is horrible, yet in a way keeps his own hands clean.)

The article makes it clear that she completely approved of the Runelords, and really did recognize Runelord Krune (who was a straight up wizard, not a cleric) as her High Priest. Amusingly enough, her teachings favor arcane magic over divine magic, and so seeing her divine servitors dwindle in favor of arcane casters was not a surprise.

Viewed in the right light, Lissala comes across as a reasonable entity. The problems come to the surface when you consider the actions she approved.

(Like Sorshen apparently murdering an entire city to become immortal. If I understand Lissala right, in Lissala's eyes Sorshen, as the master of those people, actually had the right to kill them all to further to her own magical advancement. By Lissala's teachings, those people had a duty to die for Sorshen's whims.)

Nethys is bonkers but still has compassion.

Lissala is what Nethys would be like if he had no compassion at all.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Any chance we'll get the obedience for Lissala?


Interesting. Thank you Zhangar. That's mostly what I was looking for.

Also: as it turns out I'm LE. Who knew?

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

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A lot of Lissala reminds me of Wee Jas, who was my favourite Greyhawk deity.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Matthew Morris wrote:
A lot of Lissala reminds me of Wee Jas, who was my favourite Greyhawk deity.

Wee Jas... the lady who had a thing for kidnapping promising mages and subjecting them to a pass or die examination from which none would survive.


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Vindicator wrote:
I'm sure if you were to have a conversation with Asmodeus, he would tell you there is no greed, only wealth. I'm sure he'd say there is no lust, only fertility. There is no wrath, only righteous anger. That there is no sin, only virtue.

One of the most interesting perspectives on evil that I've ever heard is that 'everyone is the hero of their own story'.


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Zhangar wrote:

The article makes it clear that she completely approved of the Runelords, and really did recognize Runelord Krune (who was a straight up wizard, not a cleric) as her High Priest. Amusingly enough, her teachings favor arcane magic over divine magic, and so seeing her divine servitors dwindle in favor of arcane casters was not a surprise.

(Like Sorshen apparently murdering an entire city to become immortal. If I understand Lissala right, in Lissala's eyes Sorshen, as the master of those people, actually had the right to kill them all to further to her own magical advancement. By Lissala's teachings, those people had a duty to die for Sorshen's whims.)

That is actually the opposite of what I got from her article. When talking about Thassilon's downward spiral into depravity, it specifically mentions that this was the result of the nation's culture, and not a directive of the goddess. Although the more distasteful practices did not conflict with Lissala's teaching, they don't seem to have been encouraged either.

Lissala's slow withdrawal from Thassilon always struck me as a sign of disapproval. The runelords and her church were abandoning her directives and so she gradually moved away, or perhaps she viewed it as the other way around.

Also, nothing in the article indicates she approved of Krune. He was the head of her church, and many people thought him to have a special connection to the goddess, but there isn't anything that really supports him having her approval.

I quite like Lissala, and she seems like a quite positive deity. Her church was heavily involved in the local community, and even today emphasizes service regardless of the facade the cult is using.

If a slave isn't a good fit for the church's rigor, sell them to a owner with a more suitable post. Apprentices who aren't happy should be encouraged to seek other careers, not punished and forced into conformity. Sounds like deity we need to bring back. Lissala 2015!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

One important aspect of alignment is that LN is an alignment goal in and of itself that someone might adhere to. If Lissala was LN, she would, either actively or passively, disapprove of the LE stuff that went on in her faith - and we know that is not the case. One of her most sacred shrines, the "Well of Virtue" started out as a dedication to a number of virtues and then over time it became dedicated to sin. I think the reason arguing against Lissala being LN is that in the book "Portal of the Sacred Rune", a lamia priestess of Lissala (lamias being quite far from LN in general) is trying to resurrect the cult in the same location, in the exact same ways that occurred under Lissala's faith during the height of the empire. Here is a quote from one description of the room:

"From these bars hang three human forms, hands chained above their heads, facing out on the well. Patterns of half-healed runic scars decorate their naked backs."

Those are modern-day Lissalans, practicing the same things Lissalans did in the past. As in like, very questionable acts that are portrayed as dedications to her. She's pretty okay with these things as a general rule of thumb, so as close as she may be to LN, a loooot of the text in her entries implies that she herself is pretty okay with being LE.

Personally, I like her as being more LE. It's a nice step between her and like, Abraxus, or her and Asmodeus. I think scholars that follow her and carefully toe that same line between LE and LN are some of the most interesting characters because they're totally the ones whose pursuit of knowledge gets them into quite a number of pickles!


xeose4 wrote:
One important aspect of alignment is that LN is an alignment goal in and of itself that someone might adhere to. If Lissala was LN, she would, either actively or passively, disapprove of the LE stuff that went on in her faith - and we know that is not the case.

By the reasoning, she would disapprove of the LG or LN that went on, and she didn't. As you said, one of her most sacred shines was initially dedicated to virtues. To me seems very L(n). She's neutral because she isn't very interested in morality rather than particularly dedicate to neutrality itself, which is a valid form of neutral alignments.

I'll agree that having her as evil is definitely interesting. It gives LE more nuance when you have Asmodeus at the center, but Lissala and Zon-Kuthon on the sides.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I agree that she does seem L(n), and I would agree that if she was LN she would disapprove of extensive LGness going on too. And yeah I don't think she cares very much about neutrality so much in the line of "I'm not a charity" stance!

could it be L(e) (and little e on purpose) maybe just because of her own religious practices? I don't know what role self-mutilation plays in religion, or on people's views of the LG-LN-LE scale. fasting is considered perfectly okay, as is flagellation to the extent that it's part of a purification ritual. I guess I wonder if it's a "power at any cost" which fits LE slightly more, and LN slightly less. LN does have rules - it does have limits, right? that's what separates it from LE in the first place?


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My personal view is that Lissala was a LE deity who was slowly shifting to LN. Then the degradation of Thassilon happend and she quit in disgust.

Shadow Lodge

Based on the history alone I sort of see her as the opposite, a LN, with possible good tendencies, that was more forced by her followers and following towards LE, then just gave the world the finger.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Can a deity be influenced by their worshippers?

Scarab Sages

Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Can a deity be influenced by their worshippers?

I've always been of the opinion that it was the Runelords that corrupted Lissala, not the other way around.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Can a deity be influenced by their worshippers?

Well we've precident that they can be affected by other powers (Dou Bral/Zon-Kuthon) and possibly mythic forces.* But PAizo has not revealed the interaction of worshipers and deities.

*:
Noctula could shift to CN and become another lust goddess per WothR


Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Can a deity be influenced by their worshippers?

No

Shadow Lodge

Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Can a deity be influenced by their worshippers?

I'm not sure, but based just on the material we do have on Lissala, I just can't think of any feasible reason she would otherwise be evil. It just doesn't make any sense. It's been a problem with the NPC since at least 2011 and has never really been satisfactorily answered/corrected.


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Lissala's the sort of goddess that's completely chill with a priest torturing an underling for entertainment.

She teaches that you must obey your betters, and your betters have the right to do with you whatever the hell they want, because they are your betters.

None of the Runelords ever crossed a line that she found unacceptable.

Just think about that =P


So. Two important things have come up (semi)recently. The first is that Lissala is in Starfinder, so apparently she returned from her vacation or whatever.

The second is that, according to The Flooded Cathedral, she did indeed used to be LN. I haven't read the writeup in it yet, since I'm excessively poor, but this pleases me to no end.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
SOLDIER-1st wrote:

So. Two important things have come up (semi)recently. The first is that Lissala is in Starfinder, so apparently she returned from her vacation or whatever.

The second is that, according to The Flooded Cathedral, she did indeed used to be LN. I haven't read the writeup in it yet, since I'm excessively poor, but this pleases me to no end.

I guess that the Azlanti Star Empire has something to do with Lissala's comeback in SFRPG

In old Azlant she was a minor deity (4 domains only) and is mentioned as becoming a "true deity" (5 domains I guess) when she later embraced the malevolence of Sin magic (and became LE and got Evil as her 5th domain)

She became greatly popular in Thassilon (at the same time I guess) and they sent hunting parties back to Azlant to exterminate the remnants of her old cult (which likely included a few LG now-ex Clerics)

Fascinating example of a deity changing her alignment and what it entails.

Scarab Sages

More like Lissala never went away, she was just focused on the Azlanti colony all that time instead of her followers on Golarion.

Still not sorry to have killed Kurshu the Undying though.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

There is a hint in The Flooded Cathedral that Lissala and Amaznen (the Azlanti god of magic and invention) had something of a falling out. Which might help explain her turn to evil (similar to Mahathallah and Pharasma).

Grand Lodge

In my long-running Korvosa & Varisia campaign there is the NPC Cleric of Lissala in Kaer Maga (the one published in the PFS Scenario) -- and one of the PCs. He is LN and is trying to start a Temple in Korvosa to Lissala as a LN deity.

So, at least in my game, there are/will be two Temples to Lissala, one LE and one LN. ....And we'll see how it all plays out through roleplay.

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