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The demonic rune of Orcus

Prince of Undeath
Demon Lord of Necromancy and the Undead
Areas of Concern
Cleric Alignments (1E)
Domains (1E)
Chaos, Death, Evil, Magic
Subdomains (1E)
Demon, Divine, Murder, Undead
Favored Weapon
Four-horned goat head
Sacred Animal
Sacred Colors
Ivory, red
Source: Lords of Chaos, pg(s). 22

Orcus (pronounced OHR-kuhs)1 is the demon lord of the undead and those who practice vile necromancy,2 but is also associated with the sin of wrath.3 He is a major object of worship throughout the Universe, yet has a relatively small following on Golarion.4 As the demon lord of necromancy, Orcus seems to call more to those who have chosen undeath freely, rather than those who acquired it by accident.5


Orcus has a fearsome appearance, though he certainly looks more human than some of the other demon lords like Dagon and Zevgavizeb. Orcus takes the shape of a fat humanoid with the head and cloven feet of a demonic ram, the wings of a an enormous bat, and a tail ending in a stinger.264 Orcus wields his infamous heavy mace called the Wand of Orcus.24


Orcus' Abyssal realm is called Uligor—an entire world filled with undead, where Orcus is engaged in a war for supremacy of the realm against a number of thanatotic titans.27

Cult and worshipers

Orcus is one of the demon lords with the most aggressive intentions on the Material Plane, but his influence on Golarion is relatively small. The only places where Orcus has any real cults (rather than the lone madmen who typically turn to demon worship) is in Geb, and some of the isolated, backwater areas of shadowy Nidal. While his devout followers claim Orcus is merely biding his time before making some grand move on Golarion, a more realistic reason for the demon lord's lack of local popularity is the intense competition with the more popular cults of Zura, Kabriri, and Urgathoa.264

Very few vampires or ghouls are counted among Orcus' servitors, due to Zura's and Kabriri's dominions over them. To Orcus' followers, the lich is the epitome of undeath, due to the power wielded by one and the patience, power, skill and talent needed to become one. In contrast, vampires and hungry undead are considered the weakest undead, as they spread like diseases, most quickly among the weak. Accidental undead rank only higher, as hard-working liches feel jealousy and frustration over those who become ghosts simply by chance. They are outranked by even mindless undead, calculated additions to the world that only as a result of a necromancer's skill.8

The demon lord's followers are also always opposed by those of the goddess Pharasma, who seek to root out necromancy and undeath wherever they find it.9 In turn, Orcus' followers consider being judged by Pharasma and becoming a shade as wasted potential and consider undeath the true reward for life.8

Orcus is known to have followers who claim the calling of the antipaladin.10

One of Orcus' most powerful followers is the lich Phaegia, a former priestess of Aroden who converted to the demon lord's worship towards the end of her life.11

Among other races, deros are the most likely to venerate Orcus.1213 He is also worshipped by orcs who focus on his aspect as a demon lord of death and anger, although his followers still appreciate the tactical advantages that mimicking his mastery of undead hordes can grant them.14


Only two temples to Orcus are known to exist on Golarion. The first can be found in the Temple Row district of the ruined city of Xin-Shalast, high in the Kodar Mountains of northeatern Varisia. It is located alongside shrines to other demon lords and archdevils including Mammon, Pazuzu, and Lamashtu; it is not known whether the temple is ruined or active.15 The second is located far to the south, below the ruined city of Saventh-Yhi in the Mwangi Jungle. Here, a more fetishistic form of the demon lord was venerated by an ancient zombie cult.16 Rumors exist that a shrine to Orcus can be found within the Whispering Tyrant's prison of Gallowspire, although this has not been confirmed.17


In his Abyssal realm of Uligor, Orcus is served by strange demon-undead hybrids, powerful liches,7 and lilitu demons.3 His most powerful servant is the balor lord Goriath, the Soul Drinker, who has been ordered to retake a remote city-fortress in Uligor.18 In the past, the powerful marilith Ylleshka also pledged fealty to the Prince of Undeath, although this is no longer the case.19


For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.

  1. Erik Mona, et al. “Appendices” in Campaign Setting, 247. Paizo Inc., 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 James Jacobs. “Lords of the Abyss” in Lords of Chaos, Book of the Damned Volume 2, 22. Paizo Inc., 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 James Jacobs, et al. “Chapter Three: Worldwound Bestiary” in The Worldwound, 49. Paizo Inc., 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 232. Paizo Inc., 2011
  5. Amber Stewart, et al. Mohrg” in Undead Revisited, 32. Paizo Inc., 2011
  6. 6.0 6.1 James Jacobs. Demon Lords of Golarion” in Descent into Midnight, 61. Paizo Inc., 2009
  7. 7.0 7.1 Mike Shel. “Gazetteer of the Abyss” in The Midnight Isles, 68. Paizo Inc., 2013
  8. 8.0 8.1 Paizo Inc., et al. “Chapter 1: Fiendish Divinities” in Book of the Damned, 85. Paizo Inc., 2017
  9. Colin McComb. “Faiths of Balance” in Faiths of Balance, 17. Paizo Inc., 2011
  10. James Jacobs. “Demonology” in Lords of Chaos, Book of the Damned Volume 2, 43. Paizo Inc., 2010
  11. Amber Stewart, et al. Lich” in Undead Revisited, 26–27. Paizo Inc., 2011
  12. James Jacobs & Greg A. Vaughan. Nar-Voth” in Into the Darklands, 20. Paizo Inc., 2008
  13. James Jacobs, et al. Classic Horrors Revisited, 7. Paizo Inc., 2010
  14. Benjamin Bruck, et al. “Chapter 2: Uncommon Races” in Inner Sea Races, 151. Paizo Inc., 2015
  15. Greg A. Vaughan. “Spires of Xin-Shalast” in Spires of Xin-Shalast, 30. Paizo Inc., 2008
  16. Greg A. Vaughan. “Vaults of Madness” in Vaults of Madness, 38. Paizo Inc., 2010
  17. Jason Bulmahn, et al. Gallowspire” in Dungeons of Golarion, 20. Paizo Inc., 2011
  18. James Jacobs. Demons Revisited, 13. Paizo Inc., 2013
  19. Wolfgang Baur. “NPC Gallery” in Herald of the Ivory Labyrinth, 61. Paizo Inc., 2014

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