Pharasma and animate dead.


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion


Pharasma, psychopomps, and duskwalkers are all a very cool part of the lore. Pharasma is an ever-pressent entity since every mortal has to face her judgement eventually. As the arbiter of souls who gets the final say on whether you've been good or not, I want to know how her own domain plays a role in her judgement. Take animate dead, something she would obviously oppose, doesn't have the evil tag, so we can consider it a neutral act to cast. Assuming someone who isn't a cleric or champion of pharasma, has been an average N person their life, and cast this spell for neutral reasons, self defense and the occasional chore. How would that be measured by Pharasma when they die?

TLDR: what does Pharasma think of animate dead?


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Judgement by Pharasma is not about assigning reward or punishment for virtuous or villainous acts in your life. It is ultimately about "what kind of energy did you accumulate in your life experiences" and assigning that energy to the plane that matches it.

You could be a good and virtuous person who does things that are literally anathema to Pharasma (like tomb robbing) and that wouldn't motivate her to take some kind of "revenge" against you and you'd still end up in one of the upper planes.

There is probably no being in all of existence that takes a longer view of things than Pharasma, and relatively few would question her impartiality. I'm pretty sure she doesn't even enjoy it when she gets her hands on die-hard Urgathoans who she sends to get eaten by Daemons (that this is one of the worst places to end up is not her doing). After all, if your soul gets consumed by daemons, becomes a daemon, or just reinforces the plane of Abbadon, it's all the same to her.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

Judgement by Pharasma is not about assigning reward or punishment for virtuous or villainous acts in your life. It is ultimately about "what kind of energy did you accumulate in your life experiences" and assigning that energy to the plane that matches it.

You could be a good and virtuous person who does things that are literally anathema to Pharasma (like tomb robbing) and that wouldn't motivate her to take some kind of "revenge" against you and you'd still end up in one of the upper planes.

There is probably no being in all of existence that takes a longer view of things than Pharasma, and relatively few would question her impartiality. I'm pretty sure she doesn't even enjoy it when she gets her hands on die-hard Urgathoans who she sends to get eaten by Daemons (that this is one of the worst places to end up is not her doing). After all, if your soul gets consumed by daemons, becomes a daemon, or just reinforces the plane of Abbadon, it's all the same to her.

Makes sense for her to be as impartial as possible. So she has different "standards" for how she judges. I imagine her anathemas and likewise other deities anathemas are really just for there followers to worry about. Pharasma has a certain viewpoint on undead but it doesn't have to do with her job. She's a professional.


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Yeah, for people who worship her she says "don't mess with undead unless you're putting them down" and people who are literally getting powers from her are going to lose those powers if they break the rules too much but for everybody else she more or less leaves to their own devices because "people are going to do what they're going to do" is also part of her thing (she used to know all of it, but we lost all of our omens.)

Her reason for opposing the undead is because unless the same amount of energy pouring out of the Positive Energy Plane goes to rebuild the outer planes from the energy that they are losing to the Maelstrom and the Negative Energy plane, the whole system is going to eventually collapse. But it's eventually going to collapse anyway, and it doesn't matter if your soul takes 6 months of 600,000 years to enter the river of souls, it just has to get there eventually to balance the scales.

Urgathoa's response is basically "FU, I've got mine" which is in line with the whole NE thing.


Undead make her job more difficult. Likewise, messing with burials could stir up restless souls that have yet to be judged. I like the whole fight fire with fire thing Pharasma has with the duskwalkers. Or sometimes, her judgement just puts you right back into the material plane. "Try again".


I think there's a big thing about dignity in her whole portfolio, like your birth should have dignity, your life should have dignity, and your death should have dignity. That's a large part of the "leave the dead alone" even if you're not inclined to dabble in necromancy.


Makes sense for a neutral moral code.


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I think Pharasma probably personally regrets every soul she has to send to torment--any non-evil person would--but she considers the consequences of the alternative too terrible to even consider. She follows the rules of the afterlife. She's not going to cheat the system over pretty grievances.


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Repeated use of it would probably not attract her attention but her Clerics, Champions, and assorted Fervent worshipers would probably show up eventually and not care about the neutral reasons.

Liberty's Edge

Depends on their outlook. Animate Dead is akin to a Summon spell. You don't even need a corpse around to cast it.

And the undead created does not last.

Basically, it looks like you are creating an undead, but really you are creating a fac-simile.

BTW Pharasma does not care about the Evil tag. She frowns on the creation of undead because these hoard part of the soul energy whose free flow is necessary to prevent the whole of creation from collapsing into nothingness.


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I think we've gotten a good grasp on Pharasma. One of my favorites. She's got her standards for judgement and her edicts for followers. An impartial arbiter of ultimate justice won't consider her own personal views for her judgement. Only the objective truths.


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aobst128 wrote:


Makes sense for her to be as impartial as possible. So she has different "standards" for how she judges. I imagine her anathemas and likewise other deities anathemas are really just for there followers to worry about. Pharasma has a certain viewpoint on undead but it doesn't have to do with her job. She's a professional.

I want to address your statement that Pharasma has "different standards" for how she judges.

If you mean that she treats different people differently, then no. Largely not. She treats everyone (as far as I'm aware of in written lore) by the same standard including deities that have been killed.

If you mean that she has a different set of judging criteria than what you or I as humans might use and that she isn't making a moral judgement then that would be correct. Pharasma doesn't care about the morality of your life. Souls are the building blocks of the outer planes. When Pharasma looks at your soul and judges you, it is not about a making a moral judgement for her. It is an analysis of "your soul's energy best aligns with this group".


And to answer the question of why it would matter that your soul energy aligns with the group, it's because eventually souls dissolve from their individual identity and go on to power those planes and serve as building blocks for outsiders (and the plane itself).

If I'm remember my Golarion cosmology correctly.


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I meant that she has her moral standards for her followers and she has standards for her judgement which are unchanging. She has a moral viewpoint but it doesn't interfere with her job.

Liberty's Edge

aobst128 wrote:
I meant that she has her moral standards for her followers and she has standards for her judgement which are unchanging. She has a moral viewpoint but it doesn't interfere with her job.

Yes. She is both a goddess with edicts and anathema and the ultimate Neutral arbiter of where souls go after their demise.


There have been times in the past where Pharasma has sent a soul somewhere that didn't seem in line with their actions or alignment. There have also been cases where two planes both had a claim in the soul, and advocates from both planes argued before her court. But that was back when her ability to know people's fates and destinies was a little more reliable.

She's still the closest to "all-knowing and sane" we have in the universe, but I imagine losing all the omens made her a bit gunshy.


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Those omens are really slippery you know?

Liberty's Edge

PossibleCabbage wrote:

There have been times in the past where Pharasma has sent a soul somewhere that didn't seem in line with their actions or alignment. There have also been cases where two planes both had a claim in the soul, and advocates from both planes argued before her court. But that was back when her ability to know people's fates and destinies was a little more reliable.

She's still the closest to "all-knowing and sane" we have in the universe, but I imagine losing all the omens made her a bit gunshy.

Not to mention the disappearance of the Seal.

Really, Aroden dying was almost a non-event at that time.


The Raven Black wrote:

Depends on their outlook. Animate Dead is akin to a Summon spell. You don't even need a corpse around to cast it.

And the undead created does not last.

Basically, it looks like you are creating an undead, but really you are creating a fac-simile.

BTW Pharasma does not care about the Evil tag. She frowns on the creation of undead because these hoard part of the soul energy whose free flow is necessary to prevent the whole of creation from collapsing into nothingness.

I think this is mostly a balance thing and gamification, animate dead is still creating undead in universe.

Liberty's Edge

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The way the spell works, there is no undead left after 1 minute max. Which is why it does not have the Evil tag BTW.

So, yes it breaks one of Pharasma's anathema and should not be used by her Clerics and Champions.

But it is such a minor disturbance to the cycle that her servants are extremely unlikely to come specifically after you. They do have far bigger undead fish to fry.


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Pharasma's people aren't particularly proactive about dealing with people who do things that they disapprove of. Like they haven't bothered to do anything about the entire undead planet in Golarion's solar system up to and including Starfinder times.


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The Raven Black wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

There have been times in the past where Pharasma has sent a soul somewhere that didn't seem in line with their actions or alignment. There have also been cases where two planes both had a claim in the soul, and advocates from both planes argued before her court. But that was back when her ability to know people's fates and destinies was a little more reliable.

She's still the closest to "all-knowing and sane" we have in the universe, but I imagine losing all the omens made her a bit gunshy.

Not to mention the disappearance of the Seal.

Really, Aroden dying was almost a non-event at that time.

How much you wanna bet it just fell behind the couch and nobody's checked yet?

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Pharasma's people aren't particularly proactive about dealing with people who do things that they disapprove of. Like they haven't bothered to do anything about the entire undead planet in Golarion's solar system up to and including Starfinder times.

My take on that situation is less that they haven't done anything yet, and that they either tried and failed, or they are still mustering everything to deal with Eox. They are dealing with an entire planet whose ruling class are ultra-powerful and cunning liches whose society was, at least at one point, capable of mustering the required technological and magical might to shatter two planets like stale biscuits and convert their own world's entire population into undead. The psychopomps might need a bit of a run up to that problem.

Then again our observations aren't mutually exclusive, either. The Boneyard could be gathering what intel it needs to deal with Eox and taking their sweet time about it, hoping their "wait and wait and wait and see" approach will cause the problem to deal with itself. One of the bone sages has to get antsy enough to blow the planet up the rest of the way soon, right?


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It's totally a valid approach (IMO) to say "I think this Eoxian problem will sort itself out. Besides, no one even knows about the other solar system that's going to collide with this one, that planet only has like 10,000 years left anyways. I will need to move Golarion though, I should get on that. "

10,000 year later...

"Well, I managed to save Absalom. Good enough!"

Dark Archive

I assume summoning conjured undead is more of bad joke to hear but not particularly punishment worthy :p


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Yeah, i imagine even if a Pharasmin found out you were a random joe schmoe wizard casting Animate Dead, they'd probably just find it supremely distasteful rather than a Mortal Sin. (For you, for them obviously they would just simply not do it)


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Pharasma's people aren't particularly proactive about dealing with people who do things that they disapprove of. Like they haven't bothered to do anything about the entire undead planet in Golarion's solar system up to and including Starfinder times.

More locally, they sat by while Tar-Baphon spread his legions and was stopped by the Shining Crusade. Strangely silent when Geb turned himself into a ghost. Or When Geb desecrated the soul of a diety's herald. Or when Geb went and became Undeadville. Or when Caliphas fostered an entire vampire kingdom underneath it.

It might be more interesting to see what the church actually does intervene in. The discovery of a Soul Anchor prompted the dispatch of a powerful Morgana. When the Ruby Prince opened tombs to explorers, the church of Pharasma got involved. One guy making six doses of Sun-Orchid Elixir a year prompted a visit.

They do more against immortality than undead, it seems.

But yeah, the Church of Pharasma is not a crusading church. I think it stems from Pharasma's long view of 'Time sorts it all out'.

Pharasma: "You're gonna get yours Baphy."
Tar-Baphon: "Oh, like I haven't heard that before!"

The anti-undead thing could just be something Pharasma gave her followers so they'd have something to do. "I'm busy balancing the ledgers of the cosmos. Go kill some undead or whatever."


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It's worth noting that Pharasma's church didn't do nothing in some of these events. Ustalav were already worshippers when TB ran them down. On the second day of battle, Prince Adamondais rode out against Tar Baphon wielding a freshly-consecrated artifacts created with the combined powers of him and every other bishop of Pharasma in the country, iirc, and got smoked same as his elder brother did the day before.

As for the vampires below Caliphas, there is a bit of internal schism behind that. Of the few people who knew, Mother Thestia is taking the patient approach of 'if we open up war with the vampires, the living will suffer greater losses than if we bide our time letting them hunt' (which is fairly true of the last vampire war in Caliphas when the vampires actually just went into hiding) while her high inquisitor Zetiah believes that this is lowkey heresy and would love to turn the vampire Cold War hot.

I don't know what they were doing when Geb happened thousands of years ago, but mind you I don't think there's much in the way of centralized power structures for Pharasma, so for mortal authorities to try to call down a crusade on the order of other crusades, I don't think they would have the same pull without Pharasma herself taking an interest. The shining crusade was called by Taldor mustering their armies to respond to a political threat on their radar, not any church that I know of.


Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
As for the vampires below Caliphas, there is a bit of internal schism behind that. Of the few people who knew, Mother Thestia is taking the patient approach of 'if we open up war with the vampires, the living will suffer greater losses than if we bide our time letting them hunt' (which is fairly true of the last vampire war in Caliphas when the vampires actually just went into hiding) while her high inquisitor Zetiah believes that this is lowkey heresy and would love to turn the vampire Cold War hot.

I'm just glad I haven't been back to Caliphas since my group ended Carrion Crown. The party's Gunslinger/Paladin's epilogue was "Go back and kill all the vampires." Sorting that new status quo out isn't high on my list of a good time.


Kasoh wrote:
Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
As for the vampires below Caliphas, there is a bit of internal schism behind that. Of the few people who knew, Mother Thestia is taking the patient approach of 'if we open up war with the vampires, the living will suffer greater losses than if we bide our time letting them hunt' (which is fairly true of the last vampire war in Caliphas when the vampires actually just went into hiding) while her high inquisitor Zetiah believes that this is lowkey heresy and would love to turn the vampire Cold War hot.
I'm just glad I haven't been back to Caliphas since my group ended Carrion Crown. The party's Gunslinger/Paladin's epilogue was "Go back and kill all the vampires." Sorting that new status quo out isn't high on my list of a good time.

I'm not there yet, but I 100% my Champion of Sarenrae (and probably my Cleric and Monks of Pharasma) to do exactly that. I've been saving the statblock I created for Luvick in my list for just such an occasion.


Meanwhile, my party loved the vampires and now I keep making Ramoska Arkminos a recurring NPC in every AP I run. :P


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Quote:
TLDR: what does Pharasma think of animate dead?

Short answer on Animate Dead is that it's a summoned creature, which as James Jacobs has said, does not actually rudely pull something from one of the planes into reality to do your dirty work, as he found that concept morally unjustifiable within an ethical framework. Rather it creates an artificial simulacrum of the platonic ideal of, say, an angel, or a devil, or in this case an undead.

So while you may be using the material body of the undead, you're not using a person's soul to animate it.

This plausibly allows you to have, say, a Pharasman cleric cast Animate Dead without getting in trouble with their deity as long as they're not digging up graves but rather relying on ethically sourced bones.

There are examples in Western church architecture of respectful uses of human remains that might serve as examples of ethical uses.

More here on summoned creatures

Liberty's Edge

Note though that it is Necromancy and not Conjuration. So it is likely to be powered, however short the duration, by a soul (or part of it). So, still No-no for a Cleric of Pharasma.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Politely disagree, but not interested in telling anyone how to run their stuff.


It is worth considering that necromancy includes the ability to create life with diseases. The undead created though Animate Dead may be purely negative constructs. At least I assume a mindless skeleton requires no soulstuff in its creation aside from the vital animating principal undead are known for. On the other hand, may be harder justify 'creating' a ghost without drawing a lingering spirit out of the ether, or at least a glob of spiritual energy...

Liberty's Edge

Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
It is worth considering that necromancy includes the ability to create life with diseases. The undead created though Animate Dead may be purely negative constructs. At least I assume a mindless skeleton requires no soulstuff in its creation aside from the vital animating principal undead are known for. On the other hand, may be harder justify 'creating' a ghost without drawing a lingering spirit out of the ether, or at least a glob of spiritual energy...

James Jacobs stated once that mindless undead were animated through a very small part of the soul that was once inside the body, causing at least discomfort and maybe some small pain to the soul.

That is why even mindless undead are anathema to Pharasma : they divert part of the soul energy from the cycle of life and death, no matter how small.


The Raven Black wrote:
Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
It is worth considering that necromancy includes the ability to create life with diseases. The undead created though Animate Dead may be purely negative constructs. At least I assume a mindless skeleton requires no soulstuff in its creation aside from the vital animating principal undead are known for. On the other hand, may be harder justify 'creating' a ghost without drawing a lingering spirit out of the ether, or at least a glob of spiritual energy...

James Jacobs stated once that mindless undead were animated through a very small part of the soul that was once inside the body, causing at least discomfort and maybe some small pain to the soul.

That is why even mindless undead are anathema to Pharasma : they divert part of the soul energy from the cycle of life and death, no matter how small.

Fair, I do remember that now that you mention.

Noting that Animated Dead doesn't have the Evil tag that Create Undead does, which is supposed to be the result of such soul snatching, so I speculate that this means whatever Animate Dead creates is not actually using natural grown souls, even temporarily, but using pure negative energy and/or ethically sourced spirit energy as needed.

I still think even facsimile undead would be wholly anathema to a worshipper of Pharasma, but they don't seem to trip the evil necromancer vibe check

Dark Archive

I don't have a leg in this hokey-pokey, but at my table I would rule that Animate Dead doesn't violate Pharasma's Anathema based on the spell being a sustained spell. To me, that means that there isn't soul energy being used to animate the undead, but the caster's own energy is keeping the creature going.

Would it be frowned upon? Sure. But I wouldn't rule it violates the anathema unless the caster grossly overused it.

Liberty's Edge

Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
It is worth considering that necromancy includes the ability to create life with diseases. The undead created though Animate Dead may be purely negative constructs. At least I assume a mindless skeleton requires no soulstuff in its creation aside from the vital animating principal undead are known for. On the other hand, may be harder justify 'creating' a ghost without drawing a lingering spirit out of the ether, or at least a glob of spiritual energy...

James Jacobs stated once that mindless undead were animated through a very small part of the soul that was once inside the body, causing at least discomfort and maybe some small pain to the soul.

That is why even mindless undead are anathema to Pharasma : they divert part of the soul energy from the cycle of life and death, no matter how small.

Fair, I do remember that now that you mention.

Noting that Animated Dead doesn't have the Evil tag that Create Undead does, which is supposed to be the result of such soul snatching, so I speculate that this means whatever Animate Dead creates is not actually using natural grown souls, even temporarily, but using pure negative energy and/or ethically sourced spirit energy as needed.

I still think even facsimile undead would be wholly anathema to a worshipper of Pharasma, but they don't seem to trip the evil necromancer vibe check

Already in PF1 there were a few undead-creating spells that were not Evil. The common point was that the undead thus created were only temporary.

I think the Evil part came from releasing Evil undead on the world who could one day roam freely and kill innocents.


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Keirine, Human Rogue wrote:

I don't have a leg in this hokey-pokey, but at my table I would rule that Animate Dead doesn't violate Pharasma's Anathema based on the spell being a sustained spell. To me, that means that there isn't soul energy being used to animate the undead, but the caster's own energy is keeping the creature going.

Would it be frowned upon? Sure. But I wouldn't rule it violates the anathema unless the caster grossly overused it.

My take is simple and entirely opposite.

One of Pharasma's anathema is "create undead."

Did an undead get created? If Yes, proceed to Violated Anathema.

It seems fairly straightforward.

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