Legacy of Fire
Rovagug (ROH-vah-gug) is hated and feared by all rational beings, whether god or mortal, for it is his will and destiny to usher about the end of the world. Although he slumbers fitfully in the depths, eternally bound in a prison crafted by the gods, should the Rough Beast break free he will tirelessly scour Golarion of life until no god or mortal remains, and when that task is completed he will rend the world asunder. He is absolute destruction manifest; he is the Unmaker.
Long ago, when Golarion was still young, Rovagug arrived from somewhere beyond the depths of space and time, seeking only to devour. This predicated a great battle, as the young gods sought to defend all they had created, but were endlessly thrown back by the intruding horror. Finally a temporary alliance was forged among the gods and a plot was devised. While wily Calistria and many of the other deities distracted the terror, in the heart of Golarion Torag and Gorum forged an unbreakable prison. Asmodeus, Nethys, and Pharasma laid great spells over the creation, fitting it with locks and wards, drawing upon the power of the planes to assure its potency. With each moment, forgotten gods battled and fell forever, until the work was done. When the sign was given, the great angel Sarenrae challenged Rovagug directly, taunting him with holy fire and making him howl with such rage and anguish that his profane din could be heard across the void. The Dawnflower lured him close to the world, and with her blazing sword, sliced a great rift deep into the land’s heart. Magic of incredible power, born of the efforts of dozens of gods and paid for with the lives of dozens more, lashed out and ensnared the destroyer, drawing him into the god-forged prison. As the potent cell quaked and threatened to buckle under the rage of its furious captive, Asmodeus used his Hellforged key to lock the Rough Beast away for all time. With the prison sealed, Golarion healed its wound as best it could, containing its foul charge within, and the deities knew calm once more.
Bound for millennia, the Rough Beast has not forgotten his defeat and has nursed his rage in the knowledge that one day he will break free and feast upon Sarenrae, the fragments of the world, and the cooling flesh of all the other gods. He conserves his strength, sleeping fitfully for centuries at a time, comforted by his horrid dreams of annihilation. While learned folk speak of evil monsters and strange realms far beneath the surface of the world, Rovagug is the cancer at Golarion’s heart, waiting for the inevitable time when he will fully awaken and consume all life.
The Rough Beast requires no specific ritual
to reach him, no heartfelt adoration to unlock a channel to his divine energy. He is indifferent to mortal concerns, goals, or the petty things they do in his name. Rovagug cares not if mortals speak his name in loathing or heap adoration upon him—he wishes only to be set free, and to know that he is not forgotten. Though some of the faithful may believe otherwise, he promises no honored place at his side or immunity from his destruction. The lucky ones will ride in his wake for a time, reveling in the orgy of obliteration; the unlucky will be the first to die, consumed by their god’s terrible hunger.
There is nothing beneficent about the Rough Beast. There is no peace to balance his wrath, no prosperity to counter his disaster, no creation to offset his destruction. Even in his deepest sleep, when his body is still, his mind races with horrible visions of armageddon that to any sane mortal would be nightmares but to him are like a sensual dream. If Rovagug were free, he would break all within reach, eat everything edible, befoul the inedible, and then move on to repeat the cycle. He has no friends or allies, and finds even his spawn and the monstrous things growing on and in him inconsequential; once he has devoured the world, he will surely turn on these extensions of his own flesh and devour them in a cannibalistic orgy. There is no poetry in his actions, just the driving of his heart, each beat counting down with relentless savor to the world’s inevitable end.
Few civilized cultures attempt to depict the
Rough Beast accurately in art; some merely portray him as a worm-like creature with a great toothy maw. The primitive tribes and mad cultists who worship him make no attempts at high art, satisfied with abstract renderings or simple depictions painted in blood on a wall, banner, or shield. Like a huge, miles-long worm, grasping with countless limbs that stretch along his body and reach from within his mouth, Rovagug’s form is maddening. Various parasitic creatures cling to his skin, some of them slug-like or insectile, and others of maddening, unidentifiable shapes. Similar creatures live in his blood, spilling forth from his wounds, usually no larger than a dog and typically manifesting as a swarm of thousand-legged vermin. These parasites die within minutes of leaving the god’s body, being dependent upon the supernatural quality of his flesh for their own life, but not before voraciously consuming those foolish enough to be caught in the wake of Rovagug’s spilled blood. Because of his imprisonment, Rovagug can almost never manifest an avatar, and must act indirectly in the world through his priests and titanic spawn, which serve as his heralds.
Rovagug’s followers believe earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are the manifestations of their god’s fitful sleep, and after such events occur cultists usually pray and make sacrifices to wake him, lest he continue to sleep longer than the paltry durations of their mortal lives. His followers assume that storms and toxic gas vents are evidence of his breath coursing up from the dark places in the world. If these things afflict the enemies of the cult, the faithful take it as a sign of his favor, whereas he is clearly displeased if such natural disasters harm his worshipers.
Priests usually dress in shaggy coats dyed in strange colors—the more unusual the source of the hide, the better. The wearing of hideous animal masks is common, and some of these masks are so strange and distorted it is hard to tell what creature the mask is supposed to represent (assuming it is just one animal, or a real creature at all). Priests in particularly successful tribes possess a variety of masks for different purposes, such as blessing the tribe for an upcoming battle, bringing good luck for a hunt, or sacrificing a living creature.
Rovagug is chaotic evil and his portfolio is wrath, disaster, and destruction. His symbol is a fanged mouth surrounded by spider legs, though individual cults might use slightly different symbols such as a crab with a mouth on its back, a maw surrounded by scorpion stingers, or a crude drawing of a claw encircled by a spiral. His domains are Chaos, Destruction, Evil, War, and Weather. Most of his priests are adepts or clerics, though a small number of druids, witches, and aberrant spellcasters worship him. His best-known title is the Rough Beast, though he has many names used by various tribes and cults, including the Tide of Fangs, the Imprisoned King, and the Worldbreaker. His favored weapon is the greataxe, not through any personal attachment to it—for he doesn’t use weapons—but as a common tool of the orc hordes that sing his praises.
Most of Rovagug’s worshipers are orcs, who howl prayers to him as they cleave their opponents limb from limb. Few people in civilized lands honor him, as there are easier ways for sane folk to gain magical power—even Zon-Kuthon is thought to be a better choice for amoral devotees seeking easy access to divine magic. Most of his followers in cities are madmen creeping about the doorstep of civilization. Many are psychopaths without the discipline to serve Norgorber as murderers, the technique to practice the aesthetic mutilations of Zon-Kuthon, or the sorcerous power that cultists of Urgathoa often possess. Some are pyromaniacs, embracing fire and arson as tools of their terrible god, though others stand naked amid great storms or hurl themselves into volcanoes. Among such misguided cults, Rovagug is seen as a deity of cleansing and enlightenment, destroying the old world to make room for a new one in which the faithful will be made into gods and taught to kill and destroy in strange new ways for the pure pleasure of it. The most obvious of his followers are the prophets of armageddon; often mistaken for the morbid priests of Groetus, they preach and scream at passersby, proclaiming that the world will soon end—though some are wise enough to avoid invoking the Rough Beast’s name in their rants, lest they rouse the ire of the soft, “civilized” people of the cities.
Sacred rites are simple—sacrificing slaves or prisoners, shouting, foot stomping, breaking valuable items, and perhaps banging the occasional gong. However, these practices are all things invented by mortals—all that is required to contact him is prayer. The acts associated with the prayers and the order in which they are performed are irrelevant, though the god enjoys the feelings of destruction that accompany them. This means that two different orc tribes may have very different ceremonies, evolved over generations and dependent upon their local circumstances and preferences. One tribe may burn offerings or sacrifice them to a volcano in a dance-like procession, another might crush them with clubs while making guttural roars, while others hurl them down upon jagged rocks and emit keening wails.