Lyvalia

Title Lady of Graves Mother of Souls
Portfolio Fate Death Prophecy Rebirth
Alignment Neutral
Worshipers Midwives, pregnant women, morticians
Worshiper Alignment NG,LN,N,NE,CN
Domains Death, Healing, Knowledge, Repose, Water
Subdomains Ancestors, Ice,Memory, Resurrection, Souls, Thought
Favored Weapon Dagger
Symbol Spiraling comet
Allows creation or rising of undead: No
Favored Animal(s) Whippoorwill
Sacred Colors Blue, White

Obedience

Collect small bones whenever it is convenient and respectful to do so. When it comes time to perform your obedience, lay out the bones in a spiral. At one end of the spiral lay a slip of parchment on which you have written the name of someone newly born. At the other end of the spiral, lay a slip of parchment on which you have written the name of someone newly deceased. Chant hymns from The Bones Land in a Spiral while proceeding solemnly around the spiral, trailing a black scarf on the ground behind you. Gain a +2 profane or sacred bonus on attack rolls made with daggers. The type of bonus depends on your alignment—if you’re neither good nor evil, you must choose either sacred or profane the first time you perform your obedience, and this choice can’t be changed.

Dogma

Lyvalia is the stern observer of life and death, scrutinizing the tangled webs of fate and prophecy, mercilessly cold in the administration of her duties. Having seen infants die, the righteous fall too soon, and tyrants live to advanced age, she makes no judgment about the justness of a particular death, and welcomes each birth with equal severity. At the moment of a mortal's birth, she knows the many possible paths each soul could follow, but reserves her official verdict until the last possible moment.Though prophecy is no longer reliable, prophets continue to be born, and most of them are rendered insane by their confusing and contradictory visions.

In art, Lyvalia is depicted as a midwife, a mad prophet, or a reaper of the dead, depending upon her role. Her visage usually has gray skin, white eyes, and white hair. As the midwife, she is efficient and severe, hair pulled back and arms bare from hands to the elbows.

Pregnant women often carry tokens of this image on long necklaces to protect their unborn children and grant them good lives. As the prophet, Lyvalia is wild-eyed and tangle-haired, and her words echo like thunder. As the reaper, she is tall and gaunt, with a hooded black gown and an hourglass with fast-flowing red sand, and is often shown seated on her throne and passing judgment on mortal souls. Situated atop an impossibly tall spire, Lyvalia's realm in the after world-the Boneyard-looms over the perfectly ordered city-plane of Axis. When mortals die, their souls join the vast River of Souls that flows through the Astral Plane, and eventually deposits them in Lyvalia's Boneyard at the top ofher spire. Once there, they stand in a great line, filtered through several courts according to their alignment and supposed planar destination. Those who die before experiencing their full fate might be lucky enough to return in this life or the next, either spontaneously or by getting called home by resurrection magic, but more often those who feel that they've met an untimely end discover that their destiny was in fact always leading them to their particular moment of death, however unjust or ignoble.

Though she allows resurrection, the Lady of Graves opposes undeath as a desecration of the memory of the flesh and a corruption of a soul's path on its journey to her judgment. She encourages her followers to hunt undead, as the souls of the destroyed undead will then reach her for judgment. At the heart of the Boneyard is Lyvalia's Palace, a gothic structure built over the exact center of the Spire.

Psychopomps walk its pathways and quietly fly above its walls, performing the administration of souls, and Lyvalia's faithful are housed within. Despite its light color and mood, the Palace is obviously a creation of the goddess. It's unknown whether she made the Spire itself. Lyvalia manifests her favor through the appearance of scarab beetles and whippoorwills, both of which function as psychopomps (both in the figurative sense as guides for dead souls, as well as in the literal sense as manifestations of the outsiders called psychopomps).

Black roses are thought to invite her favor and good luck, especially if the stems sport no thorns. Her displeasure is often signified by cold chills down the spine, bleeding from the nose or under the fingernails, an unexplained taste of rich soil, the discovery of a dead whippoorwill, or the feeling that something important has been forgotten. Lyvalia also sometimes allows the spirits of those who have died under mysterious conditions to transmit short messages to their living kin to comfort them, expose a murderer, or haunt an enemy. Lyvalia's holy symbol is a spiral of light, representing a soul, its journey from birth to death to the afterlife, and the confusing path of deciphering prophecy.

The Church

Lyvalia's church is a somber and structured organization, and staunchly neutral in matters unrelated to its tripartite roles-as stewards of life and death, most priests see nationalism and other petty concerns as beneath them. Traditions passed down by the goddess and her prophets are followed stringently, though the various branches of the church differ with respect to which rituals and practices they assign the most weight. These differences are never severe enough to force different factions to open conflict, but may make it easy for worshipers to distinguish between members of their sect and other adherents.

Most members of Lyvalia's priesthood are clerics. Roughly two-thirds of her clergy are women, though the gender mix varies regionally, and worldly details like gender and species matter little to most Lyvalians. Lyvalia's followers are expectant mothers, midwives, morticians, and so-called "white necromancers" who study other applications of the magic than undead creation.

Harrowers, palmists, oneiromancers, cloud readers, and others who use nonmagical forms of divination also call upon her, In smaller communities, a Lyvalian priest may assume several of these roles, or a team of spouses might split the duties between them. Of course, as the goddess of birth and death, Lyvalia has many lay followers as well, and even in lands where her faith is not large or organized, commoners pray to her for guidance or protection, much as farmers everywhere pray to Alaister for good crops.

Lyvalia encourages her followers to procreate, whether they're married or in less formalized partnerships; she also supports childless couples adopting and orphanages taking care of those who have no living parents. Church weddings may be simple or ornate, depending on the social status and wealth of the participants. Though she is the goddess of birth, she does not oppose contraception. Her temples are known to provide assistance to women dealing with pregnancies that would inevitably end in the death of both mother and child, or to end the torment of a mother whose child is already dead in the womb, but on the whole she believes killing the unborn is an abomination, for it sends the infant soul to the afterlife before it has a chance to fulfill its destiny.

The goddess's midwives take all the precautions they can to reduce the risk of pregnancy and childbirth; some church midwives, called casarmetzes, are so skilled in a combination of medicine, magic, and surgery that in dire circumstances they can cut a living child from its mother's womb and save both. On the third day after a child's birth, families devoted to Lyvalia call a gathering to welcome its soul into the world. The child must be given a name before this gathering, else superstition holds that it will be unlucky. Visitors bring small cakes, seeds, salted peas, and watered beer to share with the family and other guests. A priest or family elder lists the names of a girl's maternal ancestors or a boy's paternal forefathers, calling for the child to be named publicly and grow up with good health, and for the parents to live to see grandchildren born.

Prayer services to Lyvalia are a mixture of somber chants, stirring ritualized sermons, and joyous song, often based upon regional music, and usually end on an uplifting note-for while death comes to all, new generations stride forth in its wake. During celebrations, the goddess's followers often eat kolash, bread and topped or filled with diced fruit or sweet cheese.Each temple keeps a record of births and deaths of its members, and on the anniversaries of death dates, priests speak the names of the departed while those close to the deceased honor them by lighting votive candles that burn for an entire day and night. Many tombstones have niches to protect soul candles from the wind.

When a member of the faith dies, the body is cleaned, immersed in water, and dressed in a special multi-part shroud consisting of five pieces for a male or nine for a female. A prayer written on parchment, bark, cloth, or stone is tucked into the shroud, and the corpse is sealed in a casket if local custom calls for one. A guardian sits with the body the night before the burial-to honor the deceased, to guard against body thieves, and to watch that the body does not rise as an undead. Mourners (typically the immediate family) traditionally mark their eyelids with black ash or an herbal paste for 5 days after the burial. Curiously, the church does not frown upon suicide, though individual priests may debate whether taking one's own life is the natural fate of some souls or a means to return to the goddess for a chance at a different life. Those who can afford it usually pay to have their remains interred on holy ground by priests. Wealthy merchants and nobles are laid to rest in room-sized private tombs, while those with fewer resources rest in shared burial cells in catacombs or ossuaries. The church allows the dead to be cremated, though burial in earth is preferred; disposing of a corpse at sea, sky burial, and funerary cannibalism are generally considered disrespectful.

Exhuming a buried corpse is considered a violation of the dead, and the church normally refuses to do this-even when a city government seeks to break ground for a sewer, aqueduct, or other vital construction. However, if a priest discovers a worshiper's corpse that has been buried improperly or accidentally exposed, he or she usually arranges for a proper burial in accordance with church teachings. The church does not mourn apostates, and while priests do not withhold services from those of other faiths, they flatly refuse to give rites to former Lvialians who turn their back on the church.

Temples and Shrines

In heavily populated areas, Lyvalia's temples tend to be grand, gothic cathedrals adjacent to graveyards, although in smaller towns they might be humble structures with artistic flourishes meant to echo the great cathedrals, and even a single bleak stone in an empty field or graveyard can serve as a shrine. Large temples usually have catacombs underneath, filled with corpses of the wealthy and of former members of the priesthood, as burial under the goddess's temple is believed to soften her judgment of the deceased. Even a remote Lyvalia monastery has ample cemetery space, and might be the final resting place of generations of wealthy and influential folk-as well as an uncountable accumulation of tomb treasures.

Many local temples have only one ranking priest, but the largest temples have a high priest or priestess for each aspect of the faith-birth, death, and fate. In theory these high priests are all equal, though the high priest of prophecy has assumed a lesser role in recent decades, and the person holding that position is often strange or unstable. Temples that include crypts also have a cryptmaster in charge of that facility. Rank within a temple is based on seniority, as well as on knowledge of the faith, magical power, and personal achievements (such as the destruction of powerful undead). Hierarchy between churches depends on the size of the populations they serve; a large city's temple has greater influence than a small town's temple.

Taboos

The taboos of the faith are largely local in nature, but there are a few that remain constant across the faith. As her follower, you are forbidden to kill her psychopomps, such as whippoorwills and scarabs, for they are the goddess’s eyes and ears. While the goddess has no opinions regarding contraception, you may not partake in the abortion of unborn babies, for to do so is to cut short the destiny of a child before it has had a chance to make its own. While necromancy has many beneficial spells that allow you to care for both the dead and the living, you may not create undead, nor control them unless you do so specifically for the purpose of destroying them.

A Priest's Role

Priests of Lyvalia take responsibility for all three of her concerns in the mortal world. Priests (of any gender) who are skilled in midwifery assist at births, and the presence of a Lyvalian priest during childbirth almost always ensures that both mother and child will live. Priests focused on prophecy bear its questionable gift, or record and interpret the ravings of those who do. And all priests of Lyvalia are stewards of the dead, familiar with both local funerary customs and those of neighboring lands. They protect graveyards from robbers and necromancers, and the memory of the deceased from the ravages of time, memorizing or recording what they know about anyone who dies in their presence.

Lyvalian inquisitors hunt down the undead and those who seek to create such monstrosities, but all priests have a solemn duty to oppose such abominations when they find them. Creating undead is forbidden, and controlling existing undead is frowned upon, even by evil members of the faith. Most priests are highly skilled in Heal, but often have ranks in Diplomacy and Knowledge (religion) as well.

A typical priest earns her living tending to women in labor, acting as a mortician, digging graves, selling spellcasting services, or building and blessing tombs for wealthy patrons. An adventuring priest will not violate the sanctity of a tomb simply for the purpose of looting it, and if she enters a burial place to fight abominations, she still opposes desecrating any non-undead corpses encountered during the hunt. Followers of Lyvalia tend to be brusque; some people attribute this to haughtiness, but more often it's simply due to the fact that most of a Lyvalian's interactions are with the dead or dying, mad prophets, or women in labor groups who rarely care about social niceties. When their services are needed, Lyvalians give orders and expect to be obeyed, as a mortal soul (either recently departed or about to arrive) is usually at stake.

All priests carry a skane-a double-edged ceremonial dagger with a dull gray blade, often with a stylized depiction of the goddess's face and hair on the pommel. They use these daggers to hold open prayer scrolls, to touch parts of a corpse when performing death rites, to cut shrouds for the dead, and to sever the umbilical cords of newborns. It is not forbidden for a priest to use a skane to draw blood or take a life, but some refuse to do so and carry a different item to use in combat. A casarmetzes carries a special skane bearing Lyvalia's likeness on one side of the pommel and a crying child on the other, and uses this to perform her surgeries.

Though Lyvalian priests worship the death goddess, they have no taboo against preventing death through healing, either mundane or magical. Lyvalian priests who sign on with adventuring parties usually act as healers-if not particularly gentle or sympathetic ones and most temples raise money by selling healing and other spellcasting services.

Holy Text

Pharasma's holy book, The Bones Land in a Spiral, mostly consists of the words of an ancient prophet. The faithful debate which events its predictions foretell, and whether the prophesied days have already passed. Later sections dispense advice on facilitating safe childbirth, properly disposing of the dead to prevent undeath, and other relevant topics. In older temples, the holy book consists of collections of scrolls illuminated with rare inks and bound in metal filigree, each held in a gray silk mantle to protect it from wear and mishaps. Some of these collections are historical artifacts worth thousands of gold pieces, and priests bring only the scrolls they need to temple services, leaving the remainder in a safe place. Church doctrine mandates that worn-out protective mantles can't simply be discarded, so used mantles are either walled up in tiny compartments within temples or sewn into a burial shroud for a priest or other notable member of the faith. Corpses fortunate enough to bear a Lyvalian mantle as part of their shrouds are said to be especially resistant to the power of undeath, including being animated or turned into spawn.

Holidays

The first month of spring, Lyval, is named for the Lady of Graves-a month of new life and renewal for the world. The church has two common holidays shared by all temples.

Day of Bones: On the fifth day of Lyval, priests carry the enshrouded corpses of the recent dead through the streets of the city in an honored procession. These corpses are interred at no cost in a church graveyard, tomb, or sepulcher, which is considered a great honor to the departed.

Procession of Unforgotten Souls: In lands where the Lady of Graves is a prominent deity, this ceremony is held nightly in the weeks leading up to the harvest feast, during which the faithful ask the goddess to delay when she takes them to the afterlife. Priests wear thin, black robes over their festival clothes, and carry lit candles in a procession into a large fountain, pool, lake, or quiet river. As they enter the deeper water, the candles go out, but as the priests reach the other side, the candles re-light, and the water makes the black robes transparent, revealing the festival colors beneath.

Relation With Other Religions

All deities deal peaceably with Lyvalia, for their agents must have access to her realm to escort souls under their protection to their respective homes. While she approves of some actions and disapproves of others, she remains aloof and distant, with no true friends or enemies. She detests entities like Zephyra, who actively disrupt the cycle of souls by creating undead, as well as daemons who prey on the River of Souls, yet she leaves direct conflict to her minions, and does not demean the honor of her role as judge by withholding souls rightfully bound for such patrons.

Most of the other gods understand and appreciate her impartiality, Pharasma's relationship with the enigmatic Groetus, who floats above the Spire, is a mystery.

Like their goddess, the followers of Lyvalia detest Zephyra, and all those who exult in undeath, for they represent both a corruption of natural existence and a vile bending of the will of Lyvalia. Lyvalians oppose these foes whenever they encounter them, and vehemently counter their attempts at evangelism. If they learn that such cults are planning to raise undead, Lyvalians recruit allies and spend resources without hesitation to stop the abomination. Otherwise, Lyvalians are free-but not compelled-to make alliances and enmities with anyone they choose, on an individual level or as a temple, just as the Lady of Graves works with all the gods to guide mortal souls into their realms.

Lyvalian priests are renowned for their impartial natures, and regularly minister to both sides in a given conflict, caring foremost for the proper treatment of the dead and newborns. Followers of the Lyvalian Penitence might clash with the faithful of deities who focus on alleviating or preventing suffering, but are more likely to imply view them with cold distrust. A few fanatics take it upon themselves to pursue wizards, sorcerers, and other magic-users who attempt to improve the world through magical means; the fanatics see these attempts as defying the will of Lyvalia.

The following content has been adopted from the god, Pharasma, created by Paizo. Due to the game's individual setting, races, names and locations may be altered or removed entirely. Please recognize that these gods are not canon to the world of Golarion, so any comments, complaints, or concerns can be directed to the game's admin staff for further inquiry and answers. Thank you in advance.

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