Souls, Demon Sacrifices, & Pharasma's oppinion


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion


So, I'm really to solve this little conundrum here. If people know of a book they could point to that has the answers written somewhere that would be great, but I basically have a trifecta of questions.

Do souls that worship a demon lord, and subsequently sacrifice themselves to said demon lord (not perform a ritual to become a demon themselves-- skipping the larvae stage/memory loss) skip the river of souls *AND PHARASMA'S JUDGEMENT* and be pocketed by aforementioned demon lord?

Are victim sacrifices equally skipping the river of souls and boneyard judgement?

And finally, if both of these assertions are true, is Pharasma okay with the Demon Lords exerting such influence over the judgement of souls in particular; especially if that circumvents her input.

This has been driving me bonkers.


Inkmane wrote:

So, I'm really to solve this little conundrum here. If people know of a book they could point to that has the answers written somewhere that would be great, but I basically have a trifecta of questions.

Do souls that worship a demon lord, and subsequently sacrifice themselves to said demon lord (not perform a ritual to become a demon themselves-- skipping the larvae stage/memory loss) skip the river of souls *AND PHARASMA'S JUDGEMENT* and be pocketed by aforementioned demon lord?

Are victim sacrifices equally skipping the river of souls and boneyard judgement?

And finally, if both of these assertions are true, is Pharasma okay with the Demon Lords exerting such influence over the judgement of souls in particular; especially if that circumvents her input.

This has been driving me bonkers.

Aaaand I found James Jacobs answering all this in perfect detail. What a relief. Thank you past Jacobs.


This is a very good question. And yes he partially answers it.

But how does Pharasma the most powerful deity deal with this ? This is obviusly wrong or illegal (much like undead). And how do the good deities deal with this ? Its not like you can sacrifice evil souls to the good planes. Ang why do es lawful evil Asmodeus allow these acts (there is at least on AP where this happens)


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Erk Ander wrote:

This is a very good question. And yes he partially answers it.

But how does Pharasma the most powerful deity deal with this ? This is obviusly wrong or illegal (much like undead). And how do the good deities deal with this ? Its not like you can sacrifice evil souls to the good planes. Ang why do es lawful evil Asmodeus allow these acts (there is at least on AP where this happens)

Well, Pharasma probably doesn't care. The soul sacrifice game is something evil fiends do to gain 'power' over 'good' outsiders. In her purview, its largely inconsequential. After all, the soul will eventually become Chaotic Evil and sort correctly into quintessence. If someone wants to come down and argue about it, there's a process for that and they can take it through the courts. Corrupting souls is what evil outsiders do. She can't ask them to stop doing that.

I think what Pharasma really objects to is when something stops a soul from participating in the cycle. Undead really gum up the gears. Now, we know that people bypassing judgement and ascending to an outsider form is also offensive to Pharasma's Church and servitors, and maybe Pharasma herself, but its A) more rare, and B) still ostensibly participating in the soul game.

She probably has the "Office of Extra Judgement Ascension" staffed by a Morgana and a couple of other psychopomps and calls it good.

Liberty's Edge

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Kasoh wrote:
Well, Pharasma probably doesn't care. The soul sacrifice game is something evil fiends do to gain 'power' over 'good' outsiders. In her purview, its largely inconsequential. After all, the soul will eventually become Chaotic Evil and sort correctly into quintessence.

This is definitively not correct. Stealing souls like this (as opposed to mundane corruption, which is fine) is very much messing with Pharasma's system in the same way that creating undead is and she takes it every bit as seriously, sending appropriate minions to stop such things when possible.

In fact, that's the whole plot of the Pathfinder Tales novel "The Redemption Engine", which involves several fairly potent agents of hers being assigned the task of stopping such a thing (albeit, in that case, it's Evil souls being taken and changed).

Now, that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Pharasma may be powerful, but as the existence of undead and Urgathoa demonstrate she's hardly all-powerful, and so it happens, but it's very much right there with undead as something she disapproves of and her agents will work to stop. An isolated incident would be a lower priority than an ongoing pattern, obviously, but it's still super not okay with Paharasma.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

This is definitively not correct. Stealing souls like this (as opposed to mundane corruption, which is fine) is very much messing with Pharasma's system in the same way that creating undead is and she takes it every bit as seriously, sending appropriate minions to stop such things when possible.

In fact, that's the whole plot of the Pathfinder Tales novel "The Redemption Engine", which involves several fairly potent agents of hers being assigned the task of stopping such a thing (albeit, in that case, it's Evil souls being taken and changed).

I'm not sure its stealing a soul. Its a proper sacrifice. Its the responsibility of Good deities to send their agents to stop that sort of thing.

If someone was poaching petitioners from the river of souls, yeah, that's something to get up in arms about.

But soul sacrifice is pretty big thing for evil religions in the fiction and as a story device. If Pharasma was against that , that's Pharasma against almost all evil deities and she'd end up losing her neutral position. It doesn't make sense.

If it does offend her, I have to imagine its in the same way that a factory manager is offended by a high Parts Per Million count this month.

Liberty's Edge

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Kasoh wrote:
I'm not sure its stealing a soul. Its a proper sacrifice. Its the responsibility of Good deities to send their agents to stop that sort of thing.

It is, in fact, stealing. Pharasma considers anything that puts the soul somewhere other than where she'd assign it to be stealing, and this does precisely that.

In fact, James Jacobs says exactly this in the linked post, stating that she'd view it to be just as bad as undead, just harder to fix.

Kasoh wrote:

If someone was poaching petitioners from the river of souls, yeah, that's something to get up in arms about.

But soul sacrifice is pretty big thing for evil religions in the fiction and as a story device. If Pharasma was against that , that's Pharasma against almost all evil deities and she'd end up losing her neutral position. It doesn't make sense.

Nope. You are pretty clearly textually incorrect, on top of the James Jacobs quote above. There is a literal and specific canonical example of Pharasma objecting to exactly this.

As I said previously, "The Redemption Engine" is basically exactly this scenario, just on a slightly larger scale than usual. Her agents treat it as a very serious problem.

Which is to say, one sacrifice is a rounding error, like a single ghoul, and she doesn't get really worked up over it, but she does oppose it and consider it inappropriate, and her clergy can and will put effort into stopping it. You start doing this on any large scale and you get serious Psychopomp and other Pharasma related problems.


She's against undead too, and that's evil... there's not even any neutral deities of undeath, they're exclusively evil.


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The scale is the concern in the Redemption Engine.There's some kind of machine/engine that is subverting the souls and bypassing the judgement. Its not being done properly.

"Even one missing soul unaccounted for was an anomaly." As "The Redemption Engine" says.

Either sacrificing someone's soul to an evil deity is much more rare than I'd been lead to believe, which I'm not sure of given how Abrogail Thrune routinely sacrifices at least one person a year to Asmodeous and other such infractions occurring throughout the AP line through the years.

Or, a properly sacrificed soul is correctly the property of said evil deity. I think the entire thing can't make any sense otherwise.

Perhaps a soul going from the material plane directly to the target deity's plane without a stop by the boneyard first is the infraction to which Pharasma objects. That makes sense.

Liberty's Edge

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There are tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of undead in Golarion. They are far more common than properly done sacrifices that actually send the soul to one's deity (just stabbing someone and saying 'For Lamashtu!' clearly doesn't cut it).

And yet, those undead still very much exist.

You're acting like something being relatively commonplace (for certain values of commonplace) is evidence that Pharasma approves of it. It isn't. She's powerful, perhaps even the most powerful deity around, but her power has definite limits and she's bound by the same noninterference rules as all other deities, and she does not consider a single sacrifice any more important than a single undead, so it's no surprise that such behavior persists even in defiance of her wishes.

There's also a matter of priorities, sure Abrogail Thrune may sacrifice a person a year to Asmodeus, and Cheliax as a whole probably sacrifices dozens...but Geb makes hundreds, if not thousands, of undead in the same time frame. Which of those is Pharasma gonna consider a higher priority, do you think?

But sacrifice and actually sending souls where they don't belong is still, explicitly, from the mouth of the game world's Creative Director, and with supporting evidence textually, something she disapproves of for all the same reasons and to the same degree she disapproves of undead.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

There are tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of undead in Golarion. They are far more common than properly done sacrifices that actually send the soul to one's deity (just stabbing someone and saying 'For Lamashtu!' clearly doesn't cut it).

And yet, those undead still very much exist.

You're acting like something being relatively commonplace (for certain values of commonplace) is evidence that Pharasma approves of it. It isn't. She's powerful, perhaps even the most powerful deity around, but her power has definite limits and she's bound by the same noninterference rules as all other deities, and she does not consider a single sacrifice any more important than a single undead, so it's no surprise that such behavior persists even in defiance of her wishes.

I think Pharasma follows the rules of the universe. No more, no less. Regardless of her approval. I think we disagree on what the rules of the universe are in this particular aspect.

You put together a good argument though.


I've wondered a similar thing, as there are multiple creatures with abilities that send a target directly to some afterlife location and seem to bypass the Boneyard entirely (E.G a cacodaemon, which is only CR 2, can turn a soul into a gem, which, if eaten by another evil outsider, sends the soul to Abaddon regardless of alignment.)


Kasoh wrote:
Erk Ander wrote:

This is a very good question. And yes he partially answers it.

But how does Pharasma the most powerful deity deal with this ? This is obviusly wrong or illegal (much like undead). And how do the good deities deal with this ? Its not like you can sacrifice evil souls to the good planes. Ang why do es lawful evil Asmodeus allow these acts (there is at least on AP where this happens)

Well, Pharasma probably doesn't care. The soul sacrifice game is something evil fiends do to gain 'power' over 'good' outsiders. In her purview, its largely inconsequential. After all, the soul will eventually become Chaotic Evil and sort correctly into quintessence. If someone wants to come down and argue about it, there's a process for that and they can take it through the courts. Corrupting souls is what evil outsiders do. She can't ask them to stop doing that.

I think what Pharasma really objects to is when something stops a soul from participating in the cycle. Undead really gum up the gears. Now, we know that people bypassing judgement and ascending to an outsider form is also offensive to Pharasma's Church and servitors, and maybe Pharasma herself, but its A) more rare, and B) still ostensibly participating in the soul game.

She probably has the "Office of Extra Judgement Ascension" staffed by a Morgana and a couple of other psychopomps and calls it good.

That brings up a question I have about the cycle, prophecy ,foresight and destiny stuff.

Becoming an undead is a disruption of the cycle(John becomes a zombie)

However, since Pharesma is effectively Destiny of the Endless, she knew eons before John was born that he would become a zombie.

She also knows that eventually John will no doubt be destroyed by adventurers and things will be sorted out.

So there is no disruption of the cycle, everything is happening to plan. Anyone who thinks they are cheating the cycle isn't because Pharesma knows beforehand what happens.

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She doesn't know those things until she has to make judgments, really. She's not all-knowing. She sees the most likely future, but not the only future.


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Phillip Gastone wrote:

That brings up a question I have about the cycle, prophecy ,foresight and destiny stuff.

Becoming an undead is a disruption of the cycle(John becomes a zombie)

However, since Pharesma is effectively Destiny of the Endless, she knew eons before John was born that he would become a zombie.

She also knows that eventually John will no doubt be destroyed by adventurers and things will be sorted out.

So there is no disruption of the cycle, everything is happening to plan. Anyone who thinks they are cheating the cycle isn't because Pharesma knows beforehand what happens.

So, my janitor of the cosmos interpretation of Pharasma isn't entirely online with everything, but I imagine that it comes down to production quotas. The Universe needs X souls returning to the planes at Y rate to keep everything running smoothly. There is also runoff that needs to be fed to Groteus. Even if Pharasma knows that it'll all balance out in the end, she still needs to process another six thousand souls per hour this pay period or Elysium is going to going to lose a thousand square miles.

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