River of Souls

From PathfinderWiki
See also: Mortality, shade, and soul
A map of the River of Souls. Click the image for a detailed legend.

The River of Souls is the name given to the constant migration of mortal souls from the Universe to Pharasma's Boneyard in the Outer Sphere, where they are judged and sent to their eternal fate.1 Cyclical in nature, upon a mortal being's death the River is the first part of a soul's afterlife,2 and before birth the quintessence that becomes a new soul traverses the River and arrives in the Universe to give life to a new mortal being.3


For the passage of souls from creation to birth, see Soul.

Once detached from their mortal vessels, souls pass through the Ethereal Plane, joining each other on their way to the Elemental Planes, then out of the Inner Sphere and into the Astral Plane. Souls then form the titular river, where they are watched over by countless representatives from the Outer Sphere, such as angels, devils, and demons. These forces attempt to protect the souls in transit from malicious forces, as most souls are destined to become shades who join and empower these guardians' home planes.14 The river ends in the Boneyard, where Pharasma judges the souls and dispatches them to a compatible Outer Plane or shuttles them on toward some other fate.5


For other fates of souls outside of the River of Souls, see Soul.

Souls in their migration generally have little to fear on their journey, watched over as they are by powerful entities from the various planes. The two exceptions to this come from night hags and the much more dangerous astradaemons. The former travel to the Astral from their homes on the Ethereal Plane and are always in search of souls to steal and sell to the highest bidder on the Lower Planes. The latter constantly hunt for souls to consume and take back to their masters on Abaddon.1


On the Astral Plane, the River of Souls appears from a distance like a massive, winding silver thread. Those who approach can see the countless souls moving through a silver haze, like so many schools of fish.1 The esoteric tradition considers the River of Souls to be a ley line, and simply one part of the multiverse's network of magical pathways.6


Paizo published a major article on the River of Souls in Pyramid of the Sky Pharaoh.

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

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Erik Mona, et al. “Chapter 3: Religion” in Campaign Setting, 182. Paizo Inc., 2008
  2. Paizo Inc., et al. “Gods of the Inner Sea” in Gods & Magic, 38. Paizo Inc., 2020
  3. Logan Bonner, et al. “2: Tools” in Gamemastery Guide, 141. Paizo Inc., 2020
  4. F. Wesley Schneider. “The River of Souls” in Pyramid of the Sky Pharaoh, 69. Paizo Inc., 2014
  5. F. Wesley Schneider. “The River of Souls” in Pyramid of the Sky Pharaoh, 70. Paizo Inc., 2014
  6. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Chapter 6: Running an Occult Game” in Occult Adventures, 240. Paizo Inc., 2015