Rise of Nations
Faiths and Pantheons
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the deities worshiped on Golarion, but merely the ones that are popular in and around Brevoy and the River Kingdoms that characters would be familiar with.
Master of the First Vault
God of cities, wealth, merchants, and law
Domains: Earth, Law, Nobility, Protection, Travel
Favored Weapon: Crossbow
Abadar is said to dwell in the perfect city of Aktun, where he watches over the First Vault. Legends maintain that its vast halls hold a perfect copy of every object ever made, from the flawless longsword to the faultless law. From Aktun, the Master of the First Vault works his plans to bring civilization to the entire world.
Abadar is often shown as a clean, well-dressed man bearing the markings of riches and civilization. From his gold breastplate to his richly embroidered cloak, everything about him is refined and cultured. In addition, the Master of the First Vault always appears with an ornate key about his person.
Clerics of Abadar are an organized lot, spending much of their time helping communities thrive and grow. They care less about morals as the expansion of civilization. Despite this, their efforts generally tend toward the advancement of all, as this helps the growth of civilization.
The Savored Sting
Goddess of trickery, lust, and revenge
Domains: Chaos, Charm, Knowledge, Luck, Trickery
Favored Weapon: Whip
Although the elves worship a great many deities, they hold none so highly as Calistria. The Savored Sting speaks to the mercurial, detached nature that makes elves elves. Some favor her as a trickster goddess, while others appreciate her lustful, audacious spirit. Ever scheming and planning her next conquest, Calistria is always maneuvering to a more advantageous position.
Iconography of the faith depicts Calistria as the ideal of elven beauty, dressed in revealing gowns with long graceful ears, slender limbs, and a suggestive smile playing across her lips. Giant wasps, her favored creatures, commonly appear beside her.
In human lands, temples of Calistria often host a lively community of sacred prostitutes, each with his or her own contacts in the community. The resulting hotbed of gossip, double-dealing, and opportunities for revenge assure the cult’s growing popularity.
The Drunken Hero
God of freedom, ale, wine, and bravery
Domains: Chaos, Charm, Good, Strength, Travel
Favored Weapon: Rapier
The legends say that Cayden Cailean never meant to become a god. As a hired sword working out of Absalom, Cayden was renowned for taking on any job, so long as the cause was just and the coin was plentiful. He often spent his earnings on potent drink. One night, in his stupor, a fellow drunk dared him to take on the Test of the Starstone. Thereafter, Cayden Cailean vanished, presumably slain by the artifact’s powerful guardians. A few days later, however, he emerged from the Starstone’s sacred cathedral as a living god.
In art, Cayden Cailean appears as he did in life, with a tankard of ale in one hand and his sword in another. Other depictions of the Drunken Hero display broken shackles about his wrists, representing Cayden’s escape from the concerns of mortal life.
Members of Cayden’s faith make excellent guides, quick to smile at danger and always willing to have fun in even the direst of circumstances. His festive temples resemble common ale halls and attract members of all social classes.
Song of the Spheres
Goddess of dreams, stars, travelers, and luck
Domains: Chaos, Good, Liberation, Luck, Protection
Favored Weapon: Starknife
While the other gods created the world, legend holds that Desna was busy placing stars in the heavens above, content to allow the other deities to create a place full of wonders for her and her faithful to explore. Since that day, all those who look up to the stars find themselves wandering in the endless mysteries of the sky.
Desna often appears as a comely elven woman, clad in billowing gowns with brightly colored butterfly wings on her back. Delicate clouds of butterflies frequently accompany her image.
Wanderers at heart, the faithful of Desna travel the world in search of new experiences, while always trying to live life to its fullest. Their temples are light, open affairs, with most possessing a skylight to allow in the night sky and a significant number of astrological charts to mark important celestial events.
God of farming, hunting, trade, and family
Domains: Animal, Community, Good, Law, Plant
Favored Weapon: Longbow
Worship of Erastil dates back to before the Age of Darkness, when early humans began to domesticate and dominate their natural surroundings. Pastoral legends claim Old Deadeye crafted the first bow as a gift to mortals so they might learn to hunt and survive in the dangerous world.
Erastil’s rustic followers often carry a carved wooden placard bearing their god’s image. He appears as an old human trapper with bow in hand or as a tall humanoid creature with the head of an elk. These image often depict Erastil fighting off wild animals and other beasts.
Erastil’s faithful can be found in most small villages and towns, administering to the people less through sermons and more by deeds. His clerics are often called upon to help build homes, birth children, oversee trade, and bless crops. Shrines to Erastil are almost always simple wooden buildings that serve rural communities as gathering places.
Our Lord in Iron
God of strength, battle, and weapons
Domains: Chaos, Destruction, Glory, Strength, War
Favored Weapon: Greatsword
Gorum’s clerics say the Lord in Iron was forged in the first great battle between orcs and humans. When the dust from the conflict finally settled, all that was left was one suit of iron armor. Since that day, dying warriors and victorious knights sometimes swear that they see Gorum delivering their deathblow or charging alongside them.
The Lord in Iron commonly appears as a suit of terrible spiked full plate armor, along with a pair of fiery red eyes but no flesh visible. The most important of Gorum’s priests don similar armor for important ceremonies and in battle. Followers claim the spirit of Gorum lives in iron, be it armor or weapon, taking great care to polish and maintain metal arms.
Warriors from across Avistan and beyond call out to Gorum to strengthen their blades and aid them in upcoming battles. His temples are more akin to fortresses than places of worship, made to withstand any assault.
The Angry Hag
Goddess of hatred, extortion, and spite
Domains: Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Madness
Favored Weapon: Dagger
Gyronna’s origin is uncertain, and few entities care to treat with her for any length of time to find out the truth. Some believe she may have once been a creature of the First World, cast out for some infraction against a fey queen. Others say she was born a green hag and became a favored priestess of Lamashtu, gaining divinity from an ancient pact. Still others suggest she was a rival or rebellious child of Baba Yaga, banished to a far land until her penance was paid.
The goddess only allows females into her priesthood, and attracts the castaways and undesirables of society— those suspected of witchcraft, adulterous wives, old prostitutes, and so on. Her priestesses are renowned for their ability to foster hatred and turn friend against friend. They are also known to swap young infants for hideous monsters birthed from their own horrid wombs.
The priesthood itself has no canon or book of scripture, or temples; instead, they favor small shrines of simple piled stones topped with a fist-sized, spherical stone inscribed with an iris and vein-like tracings. Some actually have a large cat’s eye gem, from which (it is rumored) the hags of Gyronna peer.
The Water Rat
God of river travel, rivers, and smugglers
Domains: Chaos, Death, Travel, Water
Favored Weapon: Trident
Hanspur is the god of the watery domains of the Sellen River and considers himself lord of all who travel his domain. His doctrine comprises the Six River Freedoms and includes only a few other simple statements about the changing nature of things, how life is a river, and death on the water is a good end to a simple life. He dislikes dams and anyone who would block or change the course of rivers.
Hanspur is depicted in art as a bearded man with spiky, reed-like hair. His symbol is a rat either walking on water or standing on a flooding piece of driftwood, and he is known to travel with a dire rat companion. Legends claim he was a priest of Gozreh who was drowned by a traveling companion, then raised by Gozreh as a guardian of the waterways.
Worshipers of Hanspur don’t have many formal temples, instead favoring shrines built on driftwood, and released downriver on small rafts, carried downstream on a wayward and unplanned path. The Water Rat’s priests are highly transient and rarely stay in one settlement for more than a few days, trading news and healing magic for goods and shelter.
Master of Masters
God of history, knowledge, and self-perfection
Domains: Healing, Knowledge, Law, Rune, Strength
Favored Weapon: Unarmed strike
The followers of Irori claim he was once a mortal who achieved absolute physical and mental perfection, and thus attained divinity. While many Avistani of the Inner Sea are wary of his strict adherents, the disciplined regimen of the Master of Masters is gaining popularity among those who seek order in these troubled times.
Irori is very rarely depicted in art because his faithful believes that any icon of him could not hope to live up to his perfect image. Instead, they describe him as a flawless Vudran man, with no hair save a long braid, simple robes, and wooden sandals.
Temples dedicated to Irori are not generally open to the public. Inside, his faithful study and train night and day in an endless quest to achieve perfection and purify their lifeforce. Those who rise to the rank of master are said to go to Irori’s side when they die, to serve him forever, while those who fail are reincarnated to begin the journey anew.
Mother of Monsters
Goddess of madness, monsters, and nightmares
Domains: Chaos, Evil, Madness, Strength, Trickery
Favored Weapon: Falchion
Gnolls claim that when Lamashtu first saw the hyena, she took it as her consort and the first gnoll was born. Minotaurs say the same of bulls, and a thousand such stories abound about all manner of creatures, each citing the Mother of Monsters as the beasts’ progenitor.
Lamashtu’s crude depictions usually paint her as a jackal-headed woman, with long feathered wings, taloned feet, and a great swollen belly. Such image frequently include a multitude of monsters gathering to her call, with the favored rising above the rest.
Those who worship the Mother of Monsters seek out deformity both in themselves and in others. Scarring rituals and mutilations are common among the faithful. Although she is typically venerated by monstrous races such as gnolls, medusas, and goblins, some human cults practice her dark litanies in secret, promoting tainted births and destroying works of beauty.
The Reaper of Reputation
God of greed, secrets, poison, and murder
Domains: Charm, Death, Evil, Knowledge, Trickery
Favored Weapon: Short Sword
Little is known of Norgorber’s life in Absalom before he ascended to godhood through the Test of the Starstone. Members of his debased faith go to great lengths to keep his life a secret, using murder if necessary to obscure Norgorber’s origins. Some believe that if the Reaper of Reputation’s true nature was discovered, he would be undone.
Norgorber’s cult splits itself into four groups, with each one focusing on one of his aspects and ignoring the others. They often wear masks as symbols of this devotion and to keep their own identities secret (even in Absalom, where the church is marginally allowed). Despite this split, the faith still works together in some regards, taking careful actions meant to shape the future according to some secret plan.
Temples dedicated to Norgorber are rarely known to be such. They are often hidden in other legitimate businesses, transformed at night so the faithful can plot and pray. His clerics are master imitators, stealing others’ identities and using them to cover up dark deeds.
Lady of Graves
Goddess of fate, death, prophecy, and birth
Domains: Death, Healing, Knowledge, Repose, Water
Favored Weapon: Dagger
Sitting atop an impossibly tall spire, Pharasma’s Boneyard awaits all mortals. Once there, they stand in a great line, waiting to be judged and sent to their final reward. Only the unworthy end up in her graveyard, their souls left to rot for all eternity. Legends claim that Pharasma knew the death of Aroden was fast approaching and even judged him, but did nothing to warn her followers, many of whom were driven mad by the event.
Pharasma is depicted as the midwife, the mad prophet, or the reaper of the dead, depending upon her role. Pregnant women often carry small tokens of her likeness on long necklaces to protect the unborn and grant them good lives.
The clergy of Pharasma gathers in gothic cathedrals, usually located near a town’s graveyard. Her faithful despises undead and go to great lengths to destroy such abominations whenever encountered.
Father of Creation
God of the forge, protection, strategy
Domains: Artifice, Earth, Good, Law, Protection
Favored Weapon: Warhammer
Torag is an ancient god, and his dwarven followers credit him with the creation of the world at his great forge, striking his new work again and again with his hammer to get the shape he desired. As the rocks tumbled and the sparks flew, the dwarves were born— beings made of stone with bellies full of fire. He created the dwarves to be tough, stubborn, wise, and creative— traits they would need to persevere and overcome all obstacles— and expects all his worshipers of all races and walks of life to seek to embody those traits.
Torag appears as a powerful and cunning dwarf, busy at his forge hammering at a weapon or shield. He is the consummate planner, with a contingency for nearly every situation. Nearly half his clerics are dwarves, although a great many humans have taken up his call. His faithful are skilled architects, craftsmen, and military planners. Guardians and watchmen sometimes offer up prayers to the father of creation, hoping he protects them as they watch over their charges.
Temples tend to be circular, built around a large, central and fully-functional forge and satellite anvils used for even mundane tasks, for every act of smelting and smithing is considered a prayer to Torag.
The Key and The Gate
Outer god of gates, space, and time
Domains: Darkness, Chaos, Knowledge, Travel, Void
Favored Weapon: Dagger
According to some, the Dark Tapestry is not so much a location as a thing that connects all places and possibilities. These texts go on to suggest that this it is conscious— that it is aware. Yog-Sothoth is normally said to dwell within the Dark Tapestry, but some ancient legends say he is the Dark Tapestry. Certainly he has great power over time and space, and can exist at multiple times in multiple realities. Distance has no meaning to him, yet he seems unable to properly exist in the reality shared by most mortal life. He can only partially intrude upon this dimension, taking on the shape of a slithering mass of iridescent spheres or glowing motes of light when he does.
Yog-Sothoth’s cultists believe he is slowly preparing the many worlds of the universe for a new age presaged by the wakening of the Great Old Ones, during which time the inhabitants of these worlds will be wiped out to make way for the true masters. Cults often call upon Yog-Sothoth to bless unborn children, turning them into monstrous hybrids that help prepare the unsuspecting world for the time when the stars themselves shall be right for the Great Old Ones to rule once again.
THE GREEN FAITH
The Old Faith, The Great Eld, The Wyrd
Associated Religions: Druidism, Erastil, Gozreh
Domains: Air, Animal, Earth, Fire, Plant, Water, Weather
The Green Faith is, with little argument the oldest form of worship on Golarion, as evidenced by the numerous druidic symbols found in the cave drawings of early man. It is a naturalistic philosophy based on the belief that natural forces are worthy of attention and respect. Followers of the Green Faith meditate daily, commune with natural forms of power, and show respect to nature in all things. Farmers and peasants, for example, often hang fresh herbs from the lintels of doorways as a sign of respect. Although the Green Faith is based on nature, one need not be a druid to value its tenets; nor do all druids necessarily count themselves as members of this philosophy, although almost all of them appreciate its values.
According to legend, in the earliest days of its existence, the Green Faith was split into four factions. One group held its faith in the storms of the sky, a second in the earth that provides a home to all living things, another in the strength and purity of wild beasts, and the last in the cleansing purity of fire. For years, these four factions fought for supremacy, each claiming that the aspect of nature it venerated was the most important. Finally, the leaders of the four factions agreed to revolve their conflict through single combat. Before the battle could begin, however, a multicolored geyser sprang from the ground, equal parts water, earth, and flame. The geyser was followed by an enormous flock of multicolored birds, which flew off in all directions. The faction leaders saw this as a clear sign from nature that no one element could be more important than another, and that ultimately, the four factions shared the same basic philosophy.