Paizo, $22.99, ISBN 978-1-64078-127-6
Pathfinder Campaign Setting, 2019
The Pathfinder Campaign Setting has devoted four big books to the demi-divine forces of evil and a meager one to the forces of good. Of course, you can argue that this is because our heroes need more things to slay and loot, but if you are running teams solely dedicated to slaying deities of evil on a weekly basis, I… it’s actually kind of cool, really. Just imagine, a certain cleric of Hanspur slaying Rovagug will be the ultimate LOL. It takes only now, at the twilight of the first edition of Pathfinder, that we finally get a look at the demi-deities of neutrality in Concordance of Rivals.
What I really like here is how, instead of just another “Ooh, here is a neutral demigod of toilet papers and that panic mortals feel when they realize they are out of some!” stuff – there is enough of that here, though – this one also offers a glimpse of how the forces that are neither good nor evil are actually far more meaningful and even inevitable than those of good and evil. The highlight here is that the secrets of creation of this universe are finally revealed, as well as the secrets of the end of the universe.
As some may have guessed, Pharasma is the sole surviving deity after the previous universe ended, and she is the one that created this universe from the remnants of the previous one. She was there when the Maelstrom came to be, and those two even said hello to one another, and she watched as other deities and mortal beings come to be. When Asmodeus and Ihys really screwed up big time, she came down from her Spire and took up the mantle of the judge of the dead, with Ihys being the first of the willing dead to receive her judgment. It is also revealed that she will remain until the final flicker of existence of this universe, awaiting Groetus’s confirmation that, indeed, all life in this universe has ended, before being erased from existence. Oh, and there will another surviving deity who will be left alone to create a new universe. By Hanspur’s water-logged mankini, I hope it won’t be that Mary Sue town bicycle Desna.
The secrets of creation as well as its end are pretty simple in hindsight, but it is easy to understand why ultimately the angel Tabris decided not to give a dire rat’s behind. These facts render the concepts of good and evil meaningless, as ultimately, entropy will consume all. For mortals, it doesn’t matter, as their life spans are too insignificant to matter. For immortals, however, the end is only obsolescence – a plunge into a meaningless void regardless of your stature and powers. These are secrets that only Pharasma knows, and that’s why she’s a hardhearted, dispirited bitch who kills undead for sport. When Tabris realizes this, it’s the reason why he decides to go all edgelord and nihilistic, and who can blame him?
Now, having said that, the rest of Concordance of Rivals is a swamp bog of messy pronoun games and dumb identity politics nonsense. Than again, looking at the authors who make minimum wage writing this splatbook, I shouldn’t be surprised.
Here’s the thing: I don’t give a dire rat’s ass if someone wants to call themselves xe/xhit/xhitself or whatever. They do they, since most of the time, they are the only people who can bear to tolerate their own presence. However, we are talking about deities here. They have the abilities to change themselves into anything, from a chair to a marsupial, on a whim. Therefore, ascribing a gender to a deity is a moronic thing in itself. Sure, you can ask why Nocticula looks like a hot high-class dominatrix most of the time if she’s not “female”, but as a former demon lord of seduction and now the goddess of dancing naked at midnight or some nonsense, it makes sense for her to look that way on Golarion – she wants humanoid males to worship her, so she takes on the form of their ultimate wet dream. Given that she can appear as a man or anything else, there is no point in calling her female. It’s irrelevant. She is a god, and that should be enough.
Furthermore, it is the height of hubris of these snowflake virtue-signalling authors to assume that contemporary made-up gender jargon can be smoothly applied into a fantasy setting that spans existence itself. Are the dung beetles in Paizo telling me that every living creature in existence subscribes to gender being solely male, female, or all the Baskin-Robbins flavors in between? There are no species that may have, oh, three different sexes or more? It seems that, as Paizo resembles more and more a company composed of shrieking dropouts from Evergreen College, they want their setting to become less diverse, more like an universe of snowflakes obsessed with their personal pronouns.
Hence, nearly every entry here sees a being being called “agender”. Why? It’s so stupid and distracting. Who cares? Nobody is going to have sex with these things, especially when some of these things are basically geometric shapes with wings, so who give a dire rat’s behind whether those things are male, female, or whatever? Others are described as “genderfluid”, which is again stupid because as I’ve mentioned, gods shouldn’t be defined by mortal-created concepts like snowflake pronouns. The height of stupidity is Ydajisk, a snake-like protean demigod, being given the sobriquet “Mother of Tongues” only for the description to tell me that this thing is actually genderfluid. Of course it, sorry, they (remember, you are more special if you can get people to use “they” as your preferred pronoun) is genderfluid. They all are.
Honestly, when almost 80% of the things mentioned here are “agender” and “genderfluid”, it may be better to just avoid gendering these beings. Just saying.
And honestly, the fact that some of the same types of being choose to identify as “agender” while others as “male” or “female” is just dumb. Everything here is like a LARPing of snowflakes who want to live out their dreams of becoming gods, because screeching and doxing their opponents on Twitter is no longer providing that dopamine rush.
Setting aside the messy overuse of “agender” and “genderfluid” aside, there is the issue of trying to clump three very different types of beings together. The psychopomps are dour, neutral types who only exist to be miserable edgelords. The inevitables and axiomites are obsessed with order like cybernetically-enhanced autistic children. The proteans are chaotic types who just want everything to be anarchic. Each of these represent perfectly a current real-life snowflake faction, if you are paying attention. Put them all together in a slim splatbook, and it’s like combining devils, daemons, and demons in a single slim volume. Every faction is underdeveloped, and the strongest impression I get from reading each entry is that they are all obsessed with their special pronouns.
Even then, many of these demi-deities are unnecessary. Nethys is already the neutral god of magic – mathematics can easily fall into his portfolio instead of creating two demigods to have this as part of their portfolio. Why do we need a primal inevitable of magic? I’m sure a magic-wielding paladin can easily worship Iomedae or Abadar instead of settling for some obscure nobody created just to fill up the spaces of a splatbook.
Oh, and Pharasma has a husband and a horse, both of whom can be worshiped. I… what… let’s just move on. Mind you, given that Pharasma goes to Desna for some lady-loving now and then, this makes Mr Pharasma a cuck, but I suppose male snowflakes would surely relate to being one, and therefore worship this lawful neutral god of euphemisms for being a cuck.
Edgy snowflakes who want to worship any of these things can take up a situational prestige class that, oddly enough, doesn’t see them going into berserk mode the moment someone misgenders them. Maybe that’s in the inevitable errata. The bestiary is the usual, predictable menagerie of non-divine versions of these things that snowflakes may feel like slaying and looting now and then.
So there you have it. Edgelords go for evil or an angst-laden shade of good, and you don’t want to be friends with people whose characters worship any of these deities of snowflake-ry.