I know she has been discussed occasionally before, but Lissala and her alignment keep intriguing me. I mean, I understand and can get behind the idea that she's L>E, as opposed to Zon-Kuthon's L<E, both being two members of the same alignment representing different tendencies (that's also why I generally prefer the 5x5 alignment grid to the traditional 3x3 one, which would denote Lissala LN(E) or Lawful Impure and Zon-Kuthon NE(L) or Social Evil, respectively). However, there's just too much about her that seems to indicate that she at some point during her existence wasn't LE/LI. Let me explain:
1) Virtues of Rule vs. Sins of Rule: Her religion started out on the virtue side of things and then steadily fell to sin. While you could make an argument that this was all just a ruse, deception doesn't mesh all that well with her portfolio. Plus, as one of the two Azlanti deities of magic, she opposed Amaznen's stance on keeping magic secret and hoarding knowledge, instead advocating they be shared with others.
2) Her portfolio, i.e. runes, fate, duty, obedience, reward of service: While nothing explicitly indicates Good with a capital G, nothing screams Evil with a capital E either. Runes are technically neutral, as is fate. Duty and obedience can fit anywhere on the Lawful spectrum, and reward of service actually is more of a LG/LN thing. There's definitely the possibility of Lissala subscribing to the benevolent boss subbranch of LE, which would actually be kinda cool, but would also mean that the faith would have been severely warped in certain aspects by the time Thassilon's decadence had reached its peak, like the Runelords treating their subjects more like livestock or possessions rather than people.
3) Domains: Knowledge, Rune, Language and Wards represent the rune aspect of her portfolio, while Law, Nobility and Leadership represent the rest sans fate. Memory and Thought seem to be filler domains, which leaves Evil and Devil kind of hanging in the air, with fate not being represented at all. Then again, other deities also don't have all of their portfolio as a domain even though a fitting domain or subdomain exists *cough* Desna and Stars *cough*.
4) She's not a devil: Bear with me here, but generally an oustider subdomain means the deity either is ascended from that race or has moderate to strong ties to them (or that it was thrown in as filler). However, FEMALE and DEVIL don't really go together. All female devils (i.e. Erinyes and the Whore Queens) are fallen angels or a fallen psychopomp usher in the case of Mahathalla. And they don't exactly rank all that high either, at least according to Hell's official stance on the matter: Yes, the Whore Queens are the most powerful female devils, but they still technically rank below the Infernal Dukes, possibly even below the Malebranche.
5) While she's probably not a devil, it's possible she fell or slipped into being LE from a differently aligned race: One candidate are the CG lillend azata, which have serpentine lower bodies. But while lillends also have wings, CG isn't exactly known for fostering Lawfulness. But if we ignore the humanoid upper body part for a moment and look for winged serpents, we actually have the Good-aligned couatls, with the quetz couatls being the LG members of their race. Their modus operandi also somewhat fits that of Lissala: They don't want to be revered as gods, but tolerate such worship to spread their message. In the same vein, Lissala seems to have been pretty chill with most things and religious practices as long as they were within or furthered the ideals of her portfolio.
Not only that, but quetz couatls are also native to the Mwangi Expanse, a region somewhat subject to Azlanti colonialization back in the day, so she definitely could have entered into the Azlanti pantheon back then, either as a true, already ascended deity of Mwangi origin, or as a false deity that ascended afterwards.
6) Her herald, Krushu the Undying: If you find the couatl connection a little far-fetched, just look at Lissala's herald. Sure, she made it out of many creatures, but it was originally known as Krushu the Divine Serpent, and when we look at real world faiths, divine serpent figures are often also referred to as winged/feathered serpents or depicted as such. One point for the couatl connection.
Second, having two names despite being created by Lissala for herself suggests some sort of shift either in its or its master's behavior or alignment, thus leading to mortals calling it by different names. One point for an alignment shift.
Third, as far as Golarion deities and their heralds go, you have ascended deities like Cayden Cailean that elevated a former companion to divinity or like Naderi who's herald were the cause of her ascension, and corrupted deities like Zon-Kuthon that twisted someone related to their former identity to better fit/represent their new one. As you can see, there is a common theme. So Lissalla, no longer being a couatl, could have built herself a couatl herald, possibly out of necessity since run-of-the-mill couatl have an aversion to being treated as divine beings and would thus not have reacted favorably to becoming one. One point for couatl connection and ascension each.
7) There's precedent for deities changing alignment either when already a true deity or during ascension to such: Dou-Bral/Zon-Kuthon was most likely Good-aligned like his sister, but regardless of what truly happened to him, he came back wrong (i.e. LE). There's also one infamous entity in a certain adventure path that performs an out of the blue alignment shift if allowed to ascend to godhood at the end of the AP, with no real indicator for such since the possibility of an alignment shift generally was only vaguely hinted at in articles or other APs. Articles about Naderi also paint the goddess as coming dangerously close to embracing the general stance on undeath of Urgathoa and Zyphus, which would presumably shift her from N to NE.
8) Her title: I find it rather peculiar that she is called The Sihedron Scion, even though she is the progenitor of the virtues of rule and thus the Sihedron iconography, not a result thereof. This suggests it being a newer and most likely more popular title (since it survived till today), but not her original one. Alternately, it could be that the conception of the Sihedron rune itself is what catapulted her to divinity.
TL;DR: Lissala is either an ascended-then-fallen quetz couatl or a fallascended quetz couatl. Alternately, she was a lillend azata instead of a quetz couatl.
I think this could make for some interesting heretic followers of the goddess, like someone trying to rekindle large scale worship of the goddess, but as a LN or LG religion instead of a LE one. Or possibly a LG cleric still receiving powers or a LN cleric channeling positive energy instead of negative energy.
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I had originally thought something similar, that the references to the 'virtues' of Thassilonian rule being corrupted or perverted into the seven sins was a sign of Lissala's faith changing from a more LN (or even LG) aspect to a LE one, but James Jacobs has clarified that Lissala was *always* evil.
Presumably, the references to 'virtues' was more self-serving language chosen by the Thassilonian rulers to justify their own already wicked rule, and only as time progressed did they strip away the subtlety and double-speak and more openly embrace the evil that had always lain beneath their high-minded doublespeak.
An evil Lissala, all about rulership, may have been completely fine with a soft-sell of her 'virtues' of rule, the better to keep the rabble in line.
The seven 'virtues;' wealth, fertility, honest pride, abundance, eager striving, righteous anger, and rest, don't necessarily scream 'good,' and indeed support the concept that if you are rich, you deserve to rule, or if you have lots of kids, you are a better 'more virtuous' person, etc. So it's certainly not impossible for Lissala to have *always* been evil, just focused earlier on selling her screed to the people who are going to be ruled, by painting the rulers as 'wise' or 'virtuous.' The 'virtues' would just serve as justification for the rulership of the elite. Karzoug's super-rich, so obviously he must be an awesome person, blessed by the gods and totally better suited to rulership than you, mewling peasant #89973. Krune's got oodles of free time to lounge around, so his management (and time-management) skills are without compare, and clearly he knows what he's doing, unlike you, filthy peon #78913, always scurrying to get more work done before the sun sets so that your peon family doesn't starve.
As the rich, fertile, 'righteously angry,' etc. rose to the top, the system would become self-perpetuating, and the rulers chosen from these criteria less and less needful of pretending to be wise or kind or virtuous, since they were on top and had all the power, and, increasingly, the opinions of the hoi-polloi didn't matter to them. Once they'd been dictators and tyrants long enough, the pretense that they were somehow virtuous and ennobled was no longer needed (although I could see plenty of Runelords buying their own pitch, and thinking that they *were* more deserving because of their 'virtues' of wealth and gluttony and sloth).
And then rocks fell and everybody died, so apparently the GM was sick of their crap. :)
I think 4) is inaccurate in several ways: Achaekek has the devil subdomain, and he isn't a devil, nor does he have any particular association with them. Erinyes are not all fallen angels; many are, but some are lesser devils promoted into that caste. I'm not even sure it's right to say that Erinyes are the only female devils; outsiders tends to be able to appear as whatever gender they choose. Certainly most Devils would choose a male form, given Asmodeus' prejudices, but it's not necessarily universal.
Right, outsiders generally can choose whatever gender they like to appear as, I forgot about that. But as you said, basically the only caste in Hell were it's approriate to appear as female are the Erinyes, as far as I know. Also, the wiki says: "While most other devils are created from mortal souls, most erinyes are sculpted from the essences of fallen celestials that have been turned away from the path of good. A few are created from lesser devils, but only if that devil had a spark of piousness in its past existence.". So even those that are promoted devils are fallen in a sense.
Regarding Achaekek and the Devil subdomain: He's a LE god of assassins for hire, i.e. murder via contracts. I think the sudomain was simply thrown in because nothing else fit better and there was still a slot to be filled. Then again, no deity so far has claimed involvement in Achaekek's creation, so perhaps Asmodeus had a hand in it and that's a remnant of his influence?
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Either way, there certainly could be one or two scholars that believe Lissala fell from grace, after all, Asmodeus claims to be the first of the gods (along with his dead brother Ihys) even though James Jacobs has stated that Pharasma is the oldest being.
I am a huge fan of heresies and differing claims on matters of faith, so even if I decided to go 100% towards James Jacobs 'Lissala was always evil' as canon in my games, that doesn't mean that Geryon (or some other tricky patron, like Sivanah) couldn't be quietly encouraging a heretical splinter of the church.
(And yeah, the story of Asmodeus and Ihys is just one of many tales told by the *Prince of Lies* that I'd take with a grain of salt.)
Geryon seems less likely in this specific case, because Lissala's faith is mostly dead anyway *and* he'd be less interested in promoting a LN or LG 'heresy' of a LE faith (unless he regarded her LE faith as competition for LE worshippers of the Archdevils or Asmodeus, and was willing to splinter her church on general principle...). As well, if it was Geryon, he'd be unlikely to go so far as to support a 'good' heresy, if only because he couldn't really grant heretical clerics the abilities like channel positive energy that they'd expect. (Sivanah, on the other hand, likely can...)
One of the cool things about Golarion is that even the things that are canonically not the case can still happen, thanks to meddlers like Geryon and Sivanah, actively working behind the scenes to confuse things and weaken the faiths of others.
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Speaking of Sivanah, isn't it her herald's (who's an archon, no less, if I remember correctly) schtick to answer the summonings of Kuthite priests and royally waste their time?
We might be on to something regarding Sivanah sowing the seeds of good-aligned heresey within the evil faiths:
After all, there's that one exiled from Nidal for blasphemy LN cleric that worships Zon-Kuthon as Dou-Bral and channels positive energy of all things. Makes me wonder if that's really Dou-Bral crying for help from within Zon-Kuthon or Sivanah preparing the church for a schism.
Her interest in/patronage of Razmir seems a little concerning, but that would make for two LE faiths she's actively connected to, so why not add Lissala's to the mix?
Also, Sivanah is one of my favorite characters/deities: she could be a fallen azata, a risen demon, a protean (she grants the subdomain, though probably more in a know-your-enemy sense), maybe even a being from the Shadow Plane (interestingly, Count Ranalc has been mysteriously absent ever since his banishment from the First World, and though some outsiders and deities claim otherwise, Sivanah seems to be a relatively recent force among the gods). And her servants seem to have a theme of removed-at-least-one-step-from-the-usual-alignment going on, I think. Plus, her faithful are pals with the faithful of Arshea. And one of her pastimes seems to be alternating between sessions of Xanathos Speed Chess and Gambit Roulette with Norgober.
My lil theory has been for awhile that Lissala got a good bit sneakier during the fall and decided to re-list godhood as Sivanah. There is a good bit of overlap in both symbology and domains.
i suppose for one imagining shes in charge and preserving the knowledge... then loses control as all that preserved everything is turned to dust. Only stuff that was saved was cunningly and trickily hidden.
Meanwhile quite obviously varisian tattoos have vanished nowhere.
My idea is that Lissala was a LN goddess who later turned into LE. It has been mentioned that she felt that all knowledge should be freely shared in Azlant. This was the big difference she had with Amaznen.
I thin someone used that knowledge she spread so freelt very stupidly. So stupidly that he killed an enourmous amount of people. Lissala was so shocked by this that she reconsiderd her ideas on knowledge sharing and made it stricter.
Making ever more compromises to her original ideals till they were completely changed.