“…I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.”
-Alan Seeger, I Have a Rendezvous with Death
The Lady of Death, Fate, and Rebirth, Pharasma is a goddess who is both revered and feared among the mortal races.
She governs the death and rebirth of all living things, shepherding the souls of the departed to their final reward or to be reborn on the mortal plane.
Pharasma Deific Lore
As one of the oldest beings in Creation, Pharasma has had a major influence since the birth of this version of the multiverse.
She has been widely worshiped since the beginning of time, and her following is very loyal to her. All this despite her being a somewhat distant and certainly dispassionate deity.
Pharasma is of Neutral alignment overall, favoring neither good nor evil, law nor chaos, though her followers are often on one side of the fence or the other, being either neutral on the law or chaos spectrum or neutral on the subject of good or evil.
Pharasma’s symbol is a comet spiraling forward in her chosen colors of blue and white. Her favored weapon is a dagger, and her favored animals are whippoorwills, scarabs, and elephants.
Pharasma has many names throughout history and is known as the Lady of Graves, the Lady of Mysteries, the Mother of Souls, the Gray Lady, and the Survivor.
Pharasma is possibly the oldest being in the Multiverse. She is the only survivor of the multiverse that preceded the current one, being the source of her title as the Survivor.
She guided and protected the fledgling Multiverse from beings known as Those Who Remain or the Outer Gods.
Pharasma became an anchor point for the creation of the Multiverse, letting creation grow around her power. She used the power of the Seal to anchor and protect the Multiverse as she grew and new life began to evolve.
When the monstrous deity Rovagug attacked during the Age of Creation, Pharasma stood with the other Gods to oppose him. Using potent magics, she wove the wards around the Dead Vault to lock Rovagug away until the End Times.
During this time, a once powerful mortal woman managed to escape from Pharasma’s realm and became the Urgathoa, the Goddess of Disease and Undeath.
In recent days, the church of Pharasma has been undergoing a revolution of sorts. The first mortal to ascend to godhood, Aroden, died unexpectedly and against the tides of Prophecy.
Since then, Pharasma has begun to lose her influence of Prophecy but instead has gained more power in her aspects of Death and Fate.
When she deigns to appear to mortals, the Gray Lady often appears as a Garundi woman with pale and ashen skin. Her hair is a great flowing mane of pure white, matched by her pearl white eyes as well.
She typically wears an elegant dress of black with a dark hood. She is often carrying an hourglass with red sand slowly draining into the bottom.
The Lady of Graves will also sometimes appear as a mortal woman in the role of midwife or oracle. Often, she will manifest as a dark reaper as well.
Pharasma’s home is her own plane known as the Boneyard. It is also sometimes referred to as Purgatory or the Spiral Lands. It appears as a trackless land full of vaults, mausoleums, cenotaphs, and monuments to those long dead.
Like its governing lady, the Boneyard is overwhelmingly neutral.
The souls of the dead are gathered in the Boneyard to await judgment. Those of neutral alignment often stay here after their end, becoming a part of the bureaucracy of the dead and acting as guides, guards, soldiers, and caretakers.
Some go on to become Psychopomps to shepherd the newly dead to the Boneyard.
Hanging in the sky of the Spiral Lands is a small moon known as Groetus. Groetus is, in fact, a lesser god in his own right. He is the god of the End Times and is prophesied to be the last of the entities to live when the end of all things comes.
Allies and Enemies
For the most part, Pharasma has a neutral outlook on the other deities. She is distant to them, only reaching out to them on the rarest of times.
The Paladin Goddess Iomedae holds a grudge against Pharasma because she did not warn anyone about the impending death of Iomedae’s mentor Aroden, although the grudge is not truly bitter.
The God of accidental death, Zyphus, covets Pharasma’s throne and sees himself as her rival, though Pharasma has yet to really acknowledge him as anything more than a nuisance.
Pharasma’s only true enemy is Urgathoa, who not only escaped her realm but also the goddess of Undead, which is anathema to Pharasma.
Groetus and Pharasma have a… strange relationship to say the least. No one can quite put their finger on how they are connected, other than the fact that Pharasma is the Goddess of Death and he is the God of the End Times.
Atropos is a powerful psychopomp and judge of the souls of dead children. She is also Pharasma’s youngest daughter and close ally. It is said that Pharasma is grooming Atropos to be her successor when Groetus finally ends everything.
What Pharasma lacks in full allies, she makes up for in those who serve her. She has many servants including the Psychopomps and those mortal souls who stayed behind to serve in her realm.
She does have several specific servants though:
- The Ahmuuth are Pharasma’s divine servitor race. They appear as 6-foot-tall humanoids wrapped in dark robes with owl masks over their faces. They wield sharp daggers and are protected by the shards of gravestones that float around their bodies in tight orbit. They sometimes travel to the Mortal Realm to hunt powerful Undead or Necromancers who have overstepped their bounds.
- Birthed-In-Sorrow is a powerful Linnorm who is a devoted Cleric of Pharasma. He hunts undead in her name.
- Echo of Lost Divinity is a spectral warrior who serves Pharasma. He looks very much like the dead deity Aroden.
- The Endless Gravestone is a wheel-shaped construct composed of stone.
- The Steward of the Skein is Pharasma’s herald. She is a powerful armored warrior who travels the multiverse to bring the balance of life and death.
Worship of Pharasma has existed since the world was new, and almost all empires have revered her in some way as the Goddess of Birth and Death.
To Pharasma, death is neither good nor evil, just nor wrong. It simply is. Pharasma is the ultimate judge of where a soul belongs and where it is fated to be.
She is there when a soul is brought into the world, and she is there when it ends. Fate is only for her to know.
Undead is a perversion of the cycle of Life and Death, and they should be destroyed wherever they are found.
Edicts: Strive to understand ancient prophecies, destroy undead, lay bodies to rest
Anathema: Create undead, desecrate a corpse, rob a tomb
Those who worship Pharasma tend to make their living on either end of the cycle of life and death — midwives, doctors, and wet nurses on one end, and morticians and gravediggers on the other end.
Pregnant women often carry small silver medallions with Pharasma’s symbol on them for good luck with their pregnancy.
Her followers often wear black for their ceremonies and will carry small vials of holy water as a good luck charm.
Pharasma’s clerics are overwhelmingly clergy, but there are a small number of them who are arcane casters specializing in divination as holy oracles.
A few among her clergy are actual necromancers who use their powers of death to war against the undead. Those who actually raise the dead are enemies of the faith.
Temples and Shrines
Temples to Pharasma are old and imposing structures built of stone and concrete. They are often close to graveyards and have massive catacombs underneath.
To be buried in one of these catacombs is considered a great honor among her followers and is to be blessed by the Lady of Graves.
As for Shrines, any gravestone or cenotaph is a small shrine to Pharasma. As Goddess of Death, she is in all places death touches.
Among the faithful, The Bones Land in a Spiral is the holy book of choice. It is also sometimes referred to as Bones Fall in a Spiral and is full of vague prophecies and esoteric visions of the future.
It also records birthing rites, funerary rites, and ways to prevent the spread of Undeath.
The third month of the year is known as Pharast and corresponds to the beginning of early spring. This month is named in honor of Pharasma in her capacity as the Goddess of Rebirth from the death of winter.
The Day of Bones is the 5th day of Pharast and consists of the clergy of Pharasma carrying around the enshrouded bodies of the recently deceased in an honored procession to be interred in their final resting place.
The Procession of Unforgotten Souls is celebrated in countries where Pharasma has a large following. It is celebrated nightly for several nights straight leading up to the autumn harvest.
Priests of Pharasma wear thin robes of black and proceed to carry lit candles into a deep pool of water. As they pass beneath the water’s surface, the candles go out.
However, when the candles resurface, they light themselves again, and the black robes are turned translucent to review the autumn-colored clothing underneath the priest robes.
Player characters worshiping the Goddess of Death is not unknown. She is a Neutral deity, so it is definitely a possibility that players will want to follow her. This is definitely true if the player wants to portray an Undead Hunter.
Players could also take on the worship of Pharasma as a Goddess of Fate. Diviners, Seers, and Fortune Tellers are all called to follow Pharasma.
There are many ways player characters or NPCs can show their involvement with the Church of Pharasma and their reverence for the Lady of Graves.
Below is a list of character builds, feats, and magic that is common among the worship of Pharasma.
For obvious reasons, these character options are broken up by Pathfinder 1st and 2nd Edition.
Pathfinder 1st Edition
These archetypes provide an excellent option for builds based around characters who worship the Lady of Graves:
Many followers of Pharasma have these feats:
The below list of magical items are all connected to the worship of Pharasma or are connected to her Church:
- Altar of Pharasma
- Gravewatcher Chainmail
- Ghost Battling Ring
- Ring of the Faithful Dead
- Pharasma’s Command
- Fate Blade
- Lady’s Spiral
- Crystal Ball (Detect Thoughts)
- Fate’s Shears
- Icon of the Midwife
- Lady’s Mercy
- Crystal Ball (Normal)
- Crystal Ball (See Invisibility)
- Stone of Tomb Warding
- Crystal Ball (Telepathy)
- Crystal Ball (True Seeing)
These monsters are connected to Pharasma directly and could be either power allies or dreadful enemies:
Pharasma has one prestige class associated with her:
- The Mortal Usher is a mortal agent of the Psychopomps, empowered by the divine beings to act where Pharasma’s Outsider servants cannot. They are endowed with powers to destroy undead creatures or free trapped souls to let them go on to their final reward.
Domains and Subdomains
Below is a list of domains and subdomains open for clerics of Pharasma to use:
Followers of Pharasma who can cast spells will often have one of these below spells on their spell lists or in their spell books:
- Defending Bone
- Early Judgment
- Funereal Weapon
- Smite Abomination
- Spiral Ascent
- Spiral Descent
Below are options for religious traits for characters who are connected to Pharasma’s worship or her church.
Remember that you can typically have only one trait for your character in a campaign. Check with your GM to make sure how they are using traits in their campaign:
Pathfinder 2nd Edition
Pathfinder 2e has its own way of allowing you to customize your character as a worshiper of Pharasma.
- Divine Ability: Constitution or Wisdom
- Divine Font: Heal
- Divine Skill: Medicine
- Favored Weapon: Dagger
- Domains: Death, Fate, Healing, Knowledge
- Alternate Domains: Soul, Time, Vigil
- Cleric Spells: 1st: mindlink, 3rd: ghostly weapon, 4th: phantasmal killer
Because of the ancient laws and pacts among the deities, none of them can actively interact with the material plane directly.
However, these deities can show their favor or displeasure in their followers by granting them boons or curses.
Sometimes Pharasma could provide a boon to a follower before they undertake a great task in her name.
“Those who would prevent a soul from reaching the afterlife draw Pharasma’s ire, but those who merely dabble in pursuits like lengthening their life or resurrection are usually ignored as eventually, death comes for all.
Minor Boon: You see a momentary, prophetic glimpse of your fate. Once, you gain a +2 status bonus to a single check; you can apply this bonus after you determine the result, and it can potentially change the degree of success.
Moderate Boon: You gain a greater mastery over the energies of life and death. Your Strikes deal 1 positive damage to undead. Your spells that deal positive damage to undead gain a +1 status bonus to damage per spell level, and your spells that heal the living gain a +1 status bonus to the Hit Points restored per spell level.
Major Boon: Pharasma keeps you alive to fulfill your fate. The GM secretly chooses a fate Pharasma knows you must fulfill. Until you fulfill this fate, any time you would die, a grave but nonfatal misfortune instead befalls you. You take at least a full day to recuperate, and you potentially face permanent consequences, but you don’t die. If you would have died even once without this boon, once your fate is complete, you let out a final sigh and then die peacefully.
Minor Curse: Horrifying or enticing visions of your final judgment distract you from the task at hand. You take a –2 status penalty to initiative rolls.
Moderate Curse: Fate turns against you and reveals dire portents. Divinations such as augury cast by you or that involve you always suggest woe. Once per day, after you attempt a check, the GM can make the result of the roll a natural 1.
Major Curse: Pharasma wills the end of your life and your lineage. You become unable to have children (or otherwise procreate by any means, including create spawn abilities) and are permanently doomed 2.”
Source: Gods & Magic pg. 39 2.0