Alternative: decay, swarm
Urgathoa (pronounced oor-gah-THO-ah)1 is the Varisian goddess of physical excess, disease, and the undead. She is mostly worshiped by dark necromancers, the undead, and those wishing to become undead. Sometimes those who live gluttonous lifestyles make supplication to her, as do those suffering from a serious illness.23
There are stories that suggest that Urgathoa was once a hedonistic mortal woman. Upon her death, she fled Pharasma's Boneyard and returned to Golarion, making her the Great Beyond's first undead creature. Her return to the mortal world is said to be the origin of disease.2
Urgathoa's divine realm is Bloodrot, a necropolis located on the shore of the Sea of Lamentation in Abaddon inhabited by her undead followers. She originally received this realm in a deal with Charon, and the daemons largely leave her alone.4
Among her enemies are Erastil, Sarenrae, Pharasma, Gozreh, and their followers. She also comes into conflict with Abadar and Calistria. Calistria, in particular, is more of a friendly rival than an enemy, as she represents lust while Urgathoa champions carnal excess, and the two often fight over potential followers. She also hates followers of the Prophecies of Kalistrade, as their strict sexual and dietary restrictions go counter to her hedonism and gluttony; and she is annoyed by Irori's discipline and moderation.53678 She has recently come into conflict with Gorum, who wants his worshippers to die in battle and considers death by disease humiliating.9 Since her undead followers can quickly spread across the living world, Lamashtu sees Urgathoa as a rival.10
Zyphus, who keeps his divine realm inside hers, is loyal to Urgathoa and shares many interests with her. Due to their shared stance that love endures beyond death, Urgathoa has been trying to recruit Naderi, which in turn puts her at odds with Naderi's former mistress Shelyn.6 Urgathoa has been known to ally with the Four Horsemen from time to time, as many of their objectives are the same.3 Her relationship with the demon lords Kabriri and Zura, patrons of ghouls and vampires, are inconsistent.6 Cults of Groetus often cooperate with cults of Urgathoa who share their hedonism, but the nihilistic Groetans scoff at an eternal existence as undead.11
She is also considered an ally of the followers of the Whispering Way,12 though some of her followers impede the Way's more promising plans should they draw too close to turning all mortal life into undead beings, as that would leave those who consume the living without food.13
Urgathoa is generally depicted as an attractive, pale-skinned, and ebony-haired woman. Unlike mortal women, her flesh begins to rot and wither away at her waist, leaving her as little more than a blood-soaked skeleton from the hips down. She is often similarly manifested, but wearing a loose fitting gown stained with black, brown, and red splotches.5
Urgathoa's minions include powerful vampires, liches, and other intelligent, authoritative undead. Some female clerics of Urgathoa are transformed after death into undead creatures known as the daughters of Urgathoa.2 One of the most famous of these terrifying creatures is Illcayna Alonnor, who leads an army of wights in the ruined Isgeri town of Finder's Gulch.14 Her divine servitor race are the sarcovalt, disgusting fly-like creatures that roam her realm feeding on the remains of devoured souls.15
This servant of Urgathoa is a devourer, a powerful, extremely emaciated-looking undead. Her white skin is so thin and tight that the creature's bones and connective tissue can be seen through it. She can occasionally be called on by powerful magic to perform tasks, but requires the soul of an important creature in return.56
Church of Urgathoa
The churches of Urgathoa are dispersed across Golarion in cell-based cults, with individual groups rarely working together. Activities are usually done under the cover of night, except in lands such as Geb, where she is worshiped quite openly.5 She is most often followed in the the Darklands, Osirion, Ustalav, and Varisia,3 and among twisted Garundi17 and Varisians throughout the Inner Sea region.18 Urgathoa is one of the Three Feasters, the deities worshipped by the Koboto tribe of the Sodden Lands.19
Certain dedicated worshipers of the Pallid Princess perform daily obediences in order to receive divine blessings known as a boons from their goddess. The obedience takes the form of a ritual in which the worshiper spreads the most sumptuous feast she can find on a flat surface covered with a black velvet cloth. While consuming the food, the penitent must drink wine and say prayers to Urgathoa until she is painfully full. After a full hour of this, the worshiper must consume a piece of rotten or rancid food, trusting in the goddess to protect her from any illness that might follow. If the ritual is performed correctly and the goddess approves, the worshiper's ability to cast necromantic spells is increased for the day.20
Urgathoa's priests are primarily composed of clerics and necromancers. They have few responsibilities to uphold, other than helping those who desire undeath, and protection of their own. Understandably, they often are secretive of their religious inclinations in public. The priests have been known to compel their enemies to eat their own fallen comrades.21
The ceremonial clothes of Urgathoa's worshipers are a loose, floor-length, gray tunic, with a bone-white or dark gray cape clasped at the front. The lower half of the tunic is usually shredded, alluding to the goddess' own physical decay. Most ceremonies involve consuming great amounts of food and drink, which means that most raiments are covered by numerous stains.23
The church is organized as a matriarchy, with a powerful cleric, usually female, at the head of each temple; if the priestess is a daughter of Urgathoa, the entire temple is considered especially blessed. Priests who can create undead, either through magic or through the passing of their undead taint, are called Necro-Lords, and receive extra privileges.
Congregants are divided into two castes. The higher caste is known as the ghula, which consists of privileged members who may or may not be members of the priesthood. They are served by the famished: initiate members attempting to prove themselves worthy of recognition by the church. Rank inside the congregation may sometimes be an inversion of rank outside it, and if one of the famished is of higher social status outside the church than a ghula, the ghula treats the famished respectfully in public to preserve the church's secrecy. Like most evil cults, the secret church is scattered and cell-based, and contact between congregations is infrequent.13
Senior priests of Urgathoa sometimes practice a ritual known as the Reaping. The priest will put on a grey robe and arm himself with a vorpal scythe. The priest then heads out into the world to cause as much death and destruction as he can before he is driven back to his sanctuary. They believe that if Urgathoa is pleased by the outcome of the Reaping, she will grant a boon to the priest.22
Antipaladins of Urgathoa
Antipaladins dedicated to Urgathoa are creatures of the night who bring disease and leave only death in their wake. They hope to emulate their patroness by hastening all to their unavoidable graves, and see undead as the ultimate expression of existence, as they have transcended both life and death. If not undead themselves, her antipaladins strive to emulate them and destroy all who oppose them. Unrepentant gluttons, they seek to feed their hunger and base desires whenever possible.13
Temples and shrines
Urgathoa's temples are modeled after feast-halls, with a large table serving as an altar, surrounded by numerous chairs. Usually temples are near a graveyard or a crypt, frequently inhabited by ghouls.3 Her greatest temples are often guarded by daemonic servants.5 Her largest temple in Geb, and it being a nation of undead, perhaps the largest in the world, is the Cathedral of Epiphenomena in the city of Mechitar.23
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. Urgathoa's favored animals include death's-head moths, flies and maggots, vultures and other carrion eaters.24
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
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- The Inner Sea World Guide, 14. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 22. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 175. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- Inner Sea Gods, 156. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- Sean K Reynolds. (September 11, 2008). The Origins of Gods and Magic, Paizo Blog.
- “Vorpal Sword” in Classic Treasures Revisited, 57. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 77. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- Animal Archive, inside back cover. Paizo Inc., 2013 .