Goddess of Birth, Death, Fate and Prophecy
Symbol: A cometlike spiral of energy
Pharasma is most often depicted as an ashen-skinned woman with white eyes. She wears a dark, hooded, robe-like dress and holds an hourglass filled with red sand. She is alternatively depicted as a mad prophet, a reaper of the dead, or a midwife, depending on her current role.
As the goddess of birth, death, and fate, Pharasma awaits all mortals when they die. Her realm, the Boneyard, sits atop an impossibly tall spire overlooking the city-plane of Axis and is the final destination of the River of Souls, the metaphysical stream that carries the souls of dead mortals to her realm for judgment and subsequent assignment to an afterlife in the Outer Planes.
The faithful say Pharasma is with any living creature in the universe from the instant it is born to the moment of its death. She sees all the possible choices facing a mortal at any given moment, as well as their long-term repercussions. And when that creature inevitably dies and goes before her to be judged, she and her army of psychopomps use this knowledge to send the souls to the reward or punishment they earned during their lives. No one escapes her decisions for long, and even the gods are judged by the Lady of Graves when they perish.
Pharasma sternly observes both life and death, assigning afterlives in accordance with mortals’ characters but without a personal interest in either sin or righteousness. Despite being the goddess of death, she has no quarrel with magical healing and even resurrection, as she can read the lines of fate and knows the difference between a mortal’s true death and a temporary state of non-being. However, she considers the undead a desecration of the memory of the flesh and a corruption of a soul’s path to judgment, and she instructs her followers to destroy such abominations wherever they may be found. Those who create such monstrosities are to be treated similarly.
Every species that lives and dies worships Pharasma to some extent, though many do so by different names or in forms unfamiliar to Pact World races. Her most devoted followers come from the ranks of diviners, expectant parents, morticians, and slayers of the undead. As befits her impartiality, most members of her church take a neutral stance regarding politics and other worldly concerns. The majority of Pharasma’s priests in the Pact Worlds are mystics, working as healers, midwives, and prophets, though she’s also popular with warriors in some societies. All Pharasmin priests are well-versed in the funerary rites and practices of at least their home culture, and many try to learn as many rites as possible in order to cater to a wider variety of people. While even the simplest cemetery is a shrine to the Lady of Graves, Pharasma’s temples in the Pact Worlds tend to hearken back to an earlier age, taking the form of grand gothic cathedrals when circumstances allow, though usually still adjacent to a crematorium, graveyard, or other place of rest.
Pharasma employs a number of immortal beings as servants. Among them are the psychopomps, who are created from souls whose lives did not pull them toward good or evil, structure or chaos. They serve Pharasma in the Boneyard as advisors, judges, caretakers, explorers, guides, guards, and even soldiers when needed. Her divine servitor race are the psychopomps, humanoid creatures that battle undead and help lost souls find their final reward.
Birthed-In-Sorrow This servant of Pharasma is a wingless, dragon-like creature who possesses clerial powers, and uses them to fight the undead. Echo of Lost Divinity This minion is a spectral warrior bedecked in expensive dress. It only appeared in Pharasma’s service at the beginning of the Age of Lost Omens. Endless Grave This servant appears to be an animated, wheel-like being composed of rock. Steward of the Skein Pharasma’s herald is a mighty armored and winged warrior who travels the planes to restore the balance of life and death, announce auspicious births, and battle the undead hordes.
Church of Pharasma
Many of Pharasma’s worshipers are those closely aligned with either burgeoning life or terminating death. These include midwives, grave diggers, and morticians. Pregnant women often carry small medallions bearing her likeness to protect their child. Her followers dress in black for her ceremonies (no matter the local custom), with their clothes adorned with silver, and carry tiny vials of holy water.
Her priests are typically clerics, diviners, and necromancers who choose not to create undead. Her followers view the undead with hatred and consider them a great abomination. Pharasmins view putting the undead to rest as a holy duty. The creation of undead is outlawed, and commanding undead rather than destroying them is deeply frowned upon as well.
Temples and shrines
The temples of Pharasma have the appearance of dark and ancient cathedrals, usually found close to a graveyard, although a single stone in an empty field or graveyard can just as well serve as a shrine. Underneath the buildings are catacombs filled with crypts of the dead, typically priests or affluent townsfolk. Being entombed in these catacombs is thought to bring favor from the Lady of Graves. For example, in the City of the Invincible Overlord, the Necropolis of the Faithful extends out from the original grounds of the High Temple of Pharasma. The services held by worshipers include chanting and singing. They are typically considered a joyous occasion, and a celebration of the circle of life and death. Members of the clergy also keep records of a community’s deaths and births.
Pharasma’s holy book is called The Bones Land in a Spiral, written by a prophet long ago. Its predictions are so vague that no one is sure if they are accurate or if they have already happened. Other sections that were added later contain information on safe childbirth, the proper burial of bodies, performing auguries, and other such matters.
Pharasma’s followers celebrate the Day of Bones on the 2nd EarthDay of the month of Black Moon, and in nations where the Lady of Graves is a prominent deity, her priests take part in the Procession of Unforgotten Souls in the weeks leading up to the harvest feast.
Gods are often associated with certain animals, either because they possess a quality favored by the god, or because the god’s faithful feel a special kinship to them. Pharasma’s favored animals include whippoorwills, scarabs, and elephants.
The Voices of the Spire is a militant wing of the Pharasmin priesthood devoted to the extermination of undead.
The Pharasmin Penitence is an extremist sect that views worldly pleasures as going against Pharasma’s plans and actively seek out those whom they feel upset their beliefs by making life easier, for instance, arcane casters.
The Casarmetzes are church midwives who are so skilled at the procedures of childbirth that they are able to keep both mother and child alive in dire circumstances.