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God of Affliction
Pharika is a god of affliction and medicine, alchemy and aging. In the earliest days of Theros, Pharika seeded the world with countless secret truths—mysteries of medicine, minerals with strange properties, nexuses of magic, and the like—which she hid among Nylea’s wilds and the shadows of Erebos’s Underworld, leaving clues where mortals might find them. It isn’t altruism that drives her; she studies the innovation and suffering of mortals, deciphering in them ever greater mysteries as she treats Theros as her personal laboratory.
Pharika typically takes the form of a green-skinned human woman with the lower body of a snake. Her hands are thickly scaled and a pair of bronze-scaled vipers seamlessly emerge from her chest. She is never without her kylix, a drinking cup within which she can produce virtually any medicine or toxin. When her aims require subtlety, Pharika often takes the form of a serpent or a medusa, or sometimes an aged human.
Little escapes Pharika’s cool gaze. Even when outwardly friendly, she is cunning and calculating, watching for the slightest sign of weakness or desire that she can exploit later. Those who offend her rarely recognize their misstep until she strikes.
Pharika represents the duality of life and death distilled into a single draught that can serve as tonic or toxin, depending on the dosage. She is most associated with affliction, whether that phenomenon takes the form of a disease, a venom, a drug, or the passage of years. Her cures are reliable but come at a cost. In some cases, that cost is pain as the medicine courses through the imbiber’s body. In other cases, she demands years of life, either from the patient’s lifetime or the researcher’s labor.
In her oversight of life and death, Pharika acts as a patron of alchemists. Pharmacists offer prayers to her while crafting potions, as do the ill or infirm before imbibing a supposed remedy. Likewise, a body’s slow transformation is sacred to her, whether it be the inevitable effects of aging or the petrification of her medusa children’s victims.
To Pharika, Theros is an ongoing experiment and mortals are her agents in carrying it out. Rather than limit her knowledge to what her own insights yield, she revels in watching mortals decipher the world’s wisdom and unearth its hidden knowledge, and she delights in seeing each sage interpret their findings in novel ways. She is willing to do anything to perpetuate experimentation and discovery, even at the cost of turning her less devout followers into specimens.
Despite her venomous reputation, Pharika has provided nearly every god with a cure or an otherwise essential tonic at a crucial moment. As a result, she’s rarely in outright conflict with her fellow gods, yet she’s always willing to jeopardize peace with her peers if it means indulging some audacious new experiment.
The gods of the Underworld have cordial relations with Pharika. She and Athreos enjoy each other’s silent company, and Erebos appreciates her agenda, which ultimately bolsters his realm. Pharika rankles somewhat at the attention Erebos gets from dying mortals, chafing at their tendency to appeal to him when they could beg her for healing or for a painless death.
Pharika and the gods of civilization cautiously maneuver around one another’s territory, with Ephara and Karametra recognizing Pharika’s medicinal virtues, and she is always seeking subtle ways to use city-states in her experiments without provoking her peers. She disdains Ephara’s and Karametra’s desire to tame the world rather than understand it.
Pharika has her most complex relationships with the gods of knowledge. Pharika loathes that Keranos gifts wisdom to the undeserving, while Kruphix represents mysteries even she has yet to fathom.
No god is more precious to Pharika than Nylea. She adores Nylea as the source of nature’s abundant bounty and delights in Nylea’s warmth. Anyone who threatens or offends Nylea is likely to also earn Pharika’s enmity.
The diseased and the dying alike often make written entreaties to Pharika for a remedy. Prayers are written on scraps of paper or shards of pottery, sealed in small pots, and buried in bogs, leaving them as secrets for others to exhume years later. Many people pray to her before undergoing a medical procedure, picking herbs, or confronting a venomous animal. Nights of a waxing crescent moon (roughly the first week of each month, when a sliver of moon lingers in the early evening) are sacred to Pharika and are thought to be an auspicious time to harvest medicinal plants.
Pharika’s followers include members of several small mystery cults, which embrace varying aspects of her divine nature. The most infamous of these is the Cult of Frozen Faith, led by a medusa. Initiates receive a lethal dose of poison, become petrified, and then are restored to flesh one year later. Petitioners who have Pharika’s favor emerge alive and healthy; those she doesn’t care for fail to survive the transformation.
MYTHS OF PHARIKA
Tales of Pharika emphasize her secret knowledge, with many legends hinting at apocrypha that a listener might track down to discover the god’s most exalted lore.
Aestraste’s Reward. So impressed was she with the deeds of her champion Aestraste that Pharika offered to fill her kylix with any draught for Aestraste to imbibe. The champion asked to taste the nectar of pure joy, and the god obliged. But when Aestraste took a sip, passion took hold of her, and she quaffed the entire elixir. Overwhelmed with ecstasy, the champion perished, having forgotten that too much of anything—even happiness—can be fatal.
The Basilisk’s Greed. In Pharika’s earliest days, her mind overflowed with knowledge, and she retreated to a secret, verdant glen. There, she set to scribing her secrets into the garden’s fruits, hiding within each a dozen deaths and their cures. When she retired wearily to bathe, a lizard crept into her grove and gobbled up much of the fruit. It’s said that this original basilisk and its progeny are still heavy with undigested secrets, and that if basilisk blood is distilled into ink, it can be used to write out forgotten lore.
Day of Affliction. During the first week of the eleventh month, Meletis observes Pharika’s winter festival, the Cheimazion. The sick and infirm sleep in the god’s temples during this festival in hopes of receiving a miraculous cure, and the truly devout imbibe near-lethal doses of poison, trusting Pharika to oversee their recovery. In some tales, a cobra with rainbow scales appears in Pharika’s temple and bites some incurable soul. The envenomed victim pitches and babbles for three days, but their disjointed words prove to be a font of alchemical truths, sometimes bearing the secrets to healing others around them. In most of these myths, the victim expires at the end of these three days—Pharika’s price for sharing her secrets—but in some, the patient recovers, thereafter exhibiting remarkable resistance to illness and poisons.
Dragon Balm. Some texts of Pharika claim that within the chemical makeup of each individual dragon lies the cure to one specific disease or venom. Those desperate for a cure to a rare affliction often pray to the goddess to reveal the monster that embodies the malady tormenting them. Such insight, though, rarely decreases the danger of dragon hunting.
The Medusa’s Curse. To seed the world with knowledge, Pharika gathered her medusa children and granted a hundred secrets to each, bidding them to hide their revelations throughout the mortal realm. Selfishly, the medusas each kept secrets for themselves, using these as currency to bargain with mortals. Angered that her children would hoard any of her secrets, Pharika cursed them, so that they could never after behold their own reflections without risking death.
Alignment: Usually neutral, often evil
Suggested Classes: Cleric, druid, ranger, rogue, warlock, wizard
Suggested Cleric Domains: Death, Knowledge, Life
Suggested Backgrounds: Criminal, guild artisan, hermit, outlander, sage
Most champions of Pharika seek to uncover the world’s greatest secrets through science, alchemy, and magic. They are often enamored with the mysteries of life and death, along with snakes or other venomous creatures.
Pharika craves champions who support her ongoing experiments, torment her enemies, and deliver cutting-edge aid to the suffering. Yet, just because someone serves Pharika doesn’t mean they are immune to her whims. Why did Pharika turn her gaze upon you, and how did you survive long enough to earn her approval? The Pharika’s Favor table provides several suggestions.
|1||You were born in a plague-struck village’s final days, ultimately being the only survivor.|
|2||Exposure to a rare toxin granted you visions of Pharika, and you have sought her wisdom ever since.|
|3||Your medical attention proved crucial to a stranger’s survival, and now your acquaintances periodically fall ill, as though Pharika is testing you again and again.|
|4||A sagacious serpent once offered you guidance and has influenced your studies ever since.|
|5||You are dying. As death grows nearer, you are increasingly adept at deciphering nature’s mysteries.|
|6||You have no idea why Pharika showed interest in you, and you might sometimes wish she hadn’t.|
Devotion to Pharika
In accepting Pharika as your patron, you entrust your health and your knowledge to her. As her follower, consider the ideals on the Pharika’s Ideals table as alternatives to those suggested for your background.
|1||Devotion. My devotion to my god is more important to me than what she stands for. (Any)|
|2||Scholarship. Unlocking the natural world’s secrets is a challenge I welcome. (Neutral)|
|3||Balance. My work shall save as many lives as it takes, balancing the deserving and the insufferable. (Neutral)|
|4||Immortality. Those who discover nature’s darkest and direst secrets earn the right to live forever. (Evil)|
|5||Fatalism. Everyone dies. As a result, I may employ their brief lives to further my agendas. (Evil)|
|6||Tutelage. The world is a deadly classroom, and students need an expert guide to survive. (Neutral)|
Earning and Losing Piety
You increase your piety score to Pharika when you expand the god’s influence in the world in a concrete way through acts such as these:
- Creating a cure for a dangerous affliction
- Defeating a powerful foe by using poison
- Discovering or documenting an unknown people or a poorly understood creature
- Building or restoring a temple to Pharika, or a site that glorifies serpentine creatures
Your piety score to Pharika decreases if you diminish Pharika’s influence in the world, contradict her ideals, or make her look ridiculous or ineffectual through acts such as these:
- Destroying alchemical, medical, pathological, or similar research
- Performing a notable act of healing without exacting a significant price
- Slaying a medusa or serpent
Piety 3+ Pharika trait
As a devotee of Pharika, you have power over affliction. You can cast ray of sickness with this trait a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for this spell.
Piety 10+ Pharika trait
Pharika’s blessing shields you from most maladies. You have advantage on saving throws against being poisoned, and you are immune to disease.
Piety 25+ Pharika trait
Pharika blesses you with Pharika’s Balm, an effect that can cure or enfeeble. As an action, you can touch a creature and choose one of the following:
- The target regains hit points equal to 1d8 + your Wisdom modifier, and you can cure the target of one disease or neutralize one poison affecting it.
- The target must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, or for 1 minute, the target deals only half damage with weapon attacks. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on a success.
You can use this action a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
Champion of Affliction
Piety 50+ Pharika trait
You can increase your Dexterity or Wisdom score by 2 and also increase your maximum for that score by 2.
Magic Resistance. The mutant has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Speak with Beasts and Plants. The mutant can communicate with beasts and plants as if they shared a language.
Tree Stride. Once on their turn, the dryad can use 10 feet of their movement to step magically into one living tree within her reach and emerge from a second living tree within 60 feet of the first tree, appearing in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the second tree. Both trees must be Large or bigger.
Multiattack. The mutant makes two attacks with their cutlass and or tentacle.
Cutlass. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6 + 4) slashing damage
Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage,
Constrict. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 20 ft., one creature. Hit: The target takes 11 (2d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage, and it is grappled (escape DC 14). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and it takes 21 (6d6) poison damage at the start of each of its turns. The vine can constrict only one target at a time.
Your innate magic comes from the forces of chaos that underlie the order of creation. You might have endured exposure to raw magic, perhaps through a planar portal leading to Limbo, the Elemental Planes, or the Far Realm. Perhaps you were blessed by a fey being or marked by a demon. Or your magic could be a fluke of your birth, with no apparent cause. However it came to be, this magic churns within you, waiting for any outlet.
Wild Magic Surge
Starting when you choose this origin at 1st level, your spellcasting can unleash surges of untamed magic. Once per turn, the DM can have you roll a d20 immediately after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher. If you roll a 1, roll on the Wild Magic Surge table to create a magical effect. If that effect is a spell, it is too wild to be affected by your Metamagic, and if it normally requires concentration, it doesn’t require concentration in this case; the spell lasts for its full duration.
Wild Magic Surge
Roll on this table at the start of each of your turns for the next minute, ignoring this result on subsequent rolls.
For the next minute, you can see any invisible creature if you have line of sight to it.
A modron chosen and controlled by the DM appears in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of you, then disappears 1 minute later.
You cast fireball as a 3rd-level spell centered on yourself.
You cast magic missile as a 5th-level spell.
Roll a d10. Your height changes by a number of inches equal to the roll. If the roll is odd, you shrink. If the roll is even, you grow.
You cast confusion centered on yourself.
For the next minute, you regain 5 hit points at the start of each of your turns.
You grow a long beard made of feathers that remains until you sneeze, at which point the feathers explode out from your face.
You cast grease centered on yourself.
Creatures have disadvantage on saving throws against the next spell you cast in the next minute that involves a saving throw.
Your skin turns a vibrant shade of blue. A remove curse spell can end this effect.
An eye appears on your forehead for the next minute. During that time, you have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
For the next minute, all your spells with a casting time of 1 action have a casting time of 1 bonus action.
You teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space of your choice that you can see.
You are transported to the Astral Plane until the end of your next turn, after which time you return to the space you previously occupied or the nearest unoccupied space if that space is occupied.
Maximize the damage of the next damaging spell you cast within the next minute.
Roll a d10. Your age changes by a number of years equal to the roll. If the roll is odd, you get younger (minimum 1 year old). If the roll is even, you get older.
1d6 flumphs controlled by the DM appear in unoccupied spaces within 60 feet of you and are frightened of you. They vanish after 1 minute.
You regain 2d10 hit points.
You turn into a potted plant until the start of your next turn. While a plant, you are incapacitated and have vulnerability to all damage. If you drop to 0 hit points, your pot breaks, and your form reverts.
For the next minute, you can teleport up to 20 feet as a bonus action on each of your turns.
You cast levitate on yourself.
A unicorn controlled by the DM appears in a space within 5 feet of you, then disappears 1 minute later.
You can’t speak for the next minute. Whenever you try, pink bubbles float out of your mouth.
A spectral shield hovers near you for the next minute, granting you a +2 bonus to AC and immunity to magic missile.
You are immune to being intoxicated by alcohol for the next 5d6 days.
Your hair falls out but grows back within 24 hours.
For the next minute, any flammable object you touch that isn’t being worn or carried by another creature bursts into flame.
You regain your lowest-level expended spell slot.
For the next minute, you must shout when you speak.
You cast fog cloud centered on yourself.
Up to three creatures you choose within 30 feet of you take 4d10 lightning damage.
You are frightened by the nearest creature until the end of your next turn.
Each creature within 30 feet of you becomes invisible for the next minute. The invisibility ends on a creature when it attacks or casts a spell.
You gain resistance to all damage for the next minute.
A random creature within 60 feet of you becomes poisoned for 1d4 hours.
You glow with bright light in a 30-foot radius for the next minute. Any creature that ends its turn within 5 feet of you is blinded until the end of its next turn.
You cast polymorph on yourself. If you fail the saving throw, you turn into a sheep for the spell’s duration.
Illusory butterflies and flower petals flutter in the air within 10 feet of you for the next minute.
You can take one additional action immediately.
Each creature within 30 feet of you takes 1d10 necrotic damage. You regain hit points equal to the sum of the necrotic damage dealt.
You cast mirror image.
You cast fly on a random creature within 60 feet of you.
You become invisible for the next minute. During that time, other creatures can’t hear you. The invisibility ends if you attack or cast a spell.
If you die within the next minute, you immediately come back to life as if by the reincarnate spell.
Your size increases by one size category for the next minute.
You and all creatures within 30 feet of you gain vulnerability to piercing damage for the next minute.
You are surrounded by faint, ethereal music for the next minute.
You regain all expended sorcery points.
Tides of Chaos
Starting at 1st level, you can manipulate the forces of chance and chaos to gain advantage on one attack roll, ability check, or saving throw. Once you do so, you must finish a long rest before you can use this feature again.
Any time before you regain the use of this feature, the DM can have you roll on the Wild Magic Surge table immediately after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher. You then regain the use of this feature.
Starting at 6th level, you have the ability to twist fate using your wild magic. When another creature you can see makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw, you can use your reaction and spend 2 sorcery points to roll 1d4 and apply the number rolled as a bonus or penalty (your choice) to the creature’s roll. You can do so after the creature rolls but before any effects of the roll occur.
At 14th level, you gain a modicum of control over the surges of your wild magic. Whenever you roll on the Wild Magic Surge table, you can roll twice and use either number.
Beginning at 18th level, the harmful energy of your spells intensifies. When you roll damage for a spell and roll the highest number possible on any of the dice, choose one of those dice, roll it again and add that roll to the damage. You can use the feature only once per turn.
You’ve been a member of The Aces for quite some time now. Long enough to gain some notoriety within the crew as some of Captain Heartless’ go to crew members. Sailing the seas has been something that most of you have come to know for years now. Your Captain, known to be a cold hearted and ruthless man to all outside of the crew, is someone special to The Aces. Every member of the crew respects the captain in a high regard. He takes care of you all; ensures that you are well fed, receive the proper medical treatments, and are enjoying your lives to the fullest. You know that Heartless was once a general of grand army and has defected from them working as a privateer. He thus far moved into a life of piracy with you all by his side.
About a month ago, you came across a vessel. Your navigator noticed on the ship signs of human trafficking aboard it. Without hesitation, your Captain called his orders and the raid had begun. Human trafficking is something Heartless does not tolerate. You all rescued who you could and were able to take down those who stood in your way.
Within the raid you acquired a new companion that was rescued while others were brought to the nearest port. Their name, according to the documents you all retrieved, was Ryver. A young human man with peculiar blue markings on his face. He doesn’t speak with others, believed to be mute, but seemingly is able to communicate with the Captain. Because of this, the Captain has taken him under his wing as his apprentice of some kind.
With Ryver now a part of the crew you continue to sail the seas. You eventually come to a port in Labela where Heartless has arranged a private meeting. Once the meeting has concluded, you set off once more. Following a map of some kind that Heartless retrieved this was just another day. The map supposedly shows a spot where sunken treasure lies. This is where our tale begins.