Disclaimer: This question might present some spoilers regarding Ustalav and the Monastery of the Veil. If you're a player about to play a campaign including those elements and don't want to accidentally learn the setting's secrets, you probably shouldn't read the rest.

The Monastery of the Veil is a famous Pharasmin center of worship, located in the Hungry Moutains in Ulcazar. Little is known about it, for the monks that inhabit it are reclusive and swore an oath of silence. However, its archives are most renowned, as they remained untouched during the war with the Whispering Tyrant and are therefore probably one of the oldest collection of knowledge from Ustalav. (The Monastery was built in 3882 AR)

In 4144 AR, the Countess Robeskea requested the assistance of the Pharasmin monks to cure her sons from a plague known as the Whithers. When they refused, letting the children die, the Countess turned to the cult of Norgborber, who eradicated the monks and took their place, claiming their vast vault of mysteries and secrets. Their leader soon emerged with a new charge and a single word: "Anaphexis". The Anaphexia is an order of mute assassins worshipping Norgorber.

The question is, why did Pharasma not react after those events? While the gods are not supposed to act directly on the Material Plane, the Lady of Grave has more than a few emissaries that could deal with the problem. In fact, her agents are actively traveling the planes, hunting anything that disturbs the flow of souls.

The violation of the Anaphexia did not hinder the flow of souls, as far as we know, but they're still using the cover of the Pharasmin monastery. On top of the eventual tarnishment on Pharasma's reputation, the catacombs seem to hold valuable knowledge and/or artifacts, that have effectively been stolen from the church of Pharasma. Given the nature of the cult, they wouldn't have hoarded anything unrelated to their charges, namely things that will have to do with the flow of souls (necromantic spells, mysteries about prolonging one's life, harvesting souls... Imagination can run wild on the possibilities).

**So why did Pharasma not dispatch one or two higher psychopomps to deal with the matter? Is it stated at all (and in this case, am I missing it in my research) or is it left to the GM/player interpretation? **


1 Answer 1


The gods are in constant conflict. So, if Pharasma makes a move towards the Mosnastery of Veils (aka Anaphexia nowadays), which are now worshippers of Norgorber, Norgorber could also make a move towards Pharasma to help his newly acquired followers.

This agreement was made in the dawn of times, in a contract formulated by Asmodeus. While their followers do battle each other all the time (as seen in the graveyard and river Styx), they are not allowed to meddle with mortals like that. The details of this contract are not clear, but it is related to Asmodeus helping the other gods imprison Rovagug.

Similarly, if Pharasma's psychopomps were to destroy all undead, we wouldn't have any undead. But there are other gods with interest in protecting the undead, most notably, Urgathoa, among others. As such, there is no way for the psychopomps to handle all undead or anti-Pharasmin issues, as they have to battle against other outsiders that wish to undo their work as well.

As for details about Anaphexia, you can read more about them on the Occult Mysteries Campaign Setting book, but keep in mind that, whatever the pharasmin were keeping hidden inside their vaults, is now being guarded by the Anaphexia. They didn't simply slay the monks and move on, they took their place guarding whatever secret they hid, as noted:

In this manner, the Anaphexia has operated for centuries, collecting secrets not just to indulge use its god’s divine obsession, but also to continue the work of the monastery’s Pharasmin founders, preserving this wisdom in trust for some mysterious age or event yet to come, and for which the modern world is not prepared.

Keep in mind that their ranks have clerics powerful enough to cast Regenerate (cleric 7), as noted under their ability to restore their member's severed tongues. As such, dealing with most psychopomps is a trivial matter, and the most powerful ones (like Yamaraj) are never sent to the Material Plane.

Also note that they still pose as monks of Pharasma, their identity as worshippers of Norgorber is not publicly known.

The Norgorberite assassins of the Anaphexia pose as ascetic monks of Pharasma, and travel the world killing and stealing to amass a wealth of secrets known only to themselves.

The Inner Sea Gods mention followers of Irori conflicting with the Anaphexia, but that's due to his dogma of obtaining knowledge against Norgorber's dodma of hiding knowledge and keeping secrets, and partially due to his disapproval of the Ascended using the Starstone to become gods. Even so, Irori sees those conflicts as benefical to one's enlightment, as part of the hardship one must go through before they may ascend.

Other than that, there are no other conflicts mentioned in the lore, and if it exists, it happens behind the curtains. In my opinion, both Pharasma and Norgorber have a good reason to leave things as they are. Pharasma has hidden secrets only known to her (like what exactly happened to Aroden, or why Groetus even exists), and if she wanted those secrets hidden and well guarded from everyone, by anyone else, who would be best at doing that than the God of Secrets?

  • \$\begingroup\$ So we're back to classic planar-politic as to why Pharasma does not act directly or though proxy (a psychopomp). But she is still letting the world believe the Monastery of the Veil is a legit Pharasmin monastery. Given the reputation of Norgorber cult, merely suggesting her worshippers that the monastery has been claimed by the Reaper of Reputation would probably justify a small crusade, no? And not only from the Pharasmin church, but good aligned clergy/Lastwall? (Thus tipping the odds in the gods strifes) \$\endgroup\$
    – Nyakouai
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 14:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Im inclined to believe that keeping the monastery guarded is mutually benefical to both Pharasma and Norgorber. Especially considering that Pharasma has secrets only known to her (such as what happened to Aroden). \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 14:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Very true. At least, they're safeguarding the secrets, while a conflict might endanger them. Did not think about that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nyakouai
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 14:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ On that regard, Irori's followers also conflict with the Anaphexia, but Irori sees that conflict as benefical to their own enlightment. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 14:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nyakouai It's also notable that Pharasma pretty much doesn't care a ton about what people think of her AFAIK. She is Death, more eternal than any reputation. Any small eventual hit to her reputation... doesn't matter. She's the most powerful cosmic force (ish) - because she holds the purse-strings for Gods. \$\endgroup\$
    – Delioth
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 17:17

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