Deity of farming, hunting, trade, and family
Domains: Animal, Community, Good, Law, Plant
Favored Weapon: longbow
Centers of Worship: Andoran, Cheliax, Galt, Isger, Lands of the Linnorm Kings, Mana Wastes, Molthune, Nirmathas, River Kingdoms, Varisia
Herald:The Grim White Stag
Divine Servitors:Stag archons
Minions: Archons, plant creatures, wild animals
Symbol: Bow and arrow
Sacred Animal: Stag
Sacred Colors: Brown, green
The first gift you ever receive is your family. We all grow from the seeds of our parents' plant.—Parables of Erastil
Erastil (eh-RAS-till), also known as Old Deadeye, is an ancient deity who first became known on Golarion when early humanoids began to domesticate and dominate their natural surroundings. Pastoral legends claim that Old Deadeye crafted the first bow as a gift to mortals so that they might learn to hunt and survive in the dangerous world. Though civilization has continued to advance beyond simple villages, Erastil remains popular in tradition and in the frontiers of the world, a transitional figure between the worship of the Green Faith and the religions of cities.
Erastil is primarily a nature deity focusing on the plants and animals that farmers, hunters, and ranchers deal with in their challenging lives. He is also a god of close-knit communities and families, and has a protector aspect that only surfaces when such things are threatened. Erastil eschews crusades and brazen heroism, and he has no grand plans to eradicate chaos and evil from the world; he simply wants people to be able to live their lives in peace without the threat of being devoured by monsters, conscripted into an army, or destroyed by world-ending magic. He is a stern patriarch whose spirit is as hard as wood. He isn't afraid to face down a bully, nor is he too proud to calm a frightened child. He teaches how to read the turning of the seasons, how to know when to sow and reap, how to tell when livestock are sick or gravid, how to poultice a wound and set a broken leg, how to spot a straggling sheep or the signs that a dog has gone rabid. He believes that cooperation leads to friendship and safety, and that if mortals respect the gifts of nature, it will sustain them. He loves customs that encourage strong family bonds—no matter how quaint they are by modern standards—and enjoys hunting for sustenance but not for sport. Happy weddings and new babies make him smile. He is not one to spout philosophy, and instead gives practical advice and hands-on teaching.
Old Deadeye believes that leadership is a virtue of strong souls and that groups function best when led by a benevolent leader—whether that group is his church, a community, or a family. Many communities strong in Erastil's faith follow the leadership of a village patron or matron, another elder, or the scions of a family renowned for their clearheadedness and past members' leadership roles. In Erastilian families, one family elder is likewise viewed as the leader of the clan or head of the household. The members of such groups typically defer to that leader's plan for peace and prosperity, contributing their own talents, skills, and labor for the betterment of the whole community.
Erastil believes that children should honor their parents and know when it is time to work or time to play.
He dislikes the chaos and trouble that adventurers bring, and while they may have their uses when monsters come sniffing about, it is best if adventurers take care of the problem quickly, receive a meal and a place to sleep, then move on before their wanderlust catches on in otherwise quiet communities.
Erastil's avatar is an upright hunter with the head of an elk, clad in well-used leathers and carrying a simple bow. Old legends say that half lings and humans each see him as a member of their own race, even when members of both races are looking at him at the same time. Some representations show him as fully human—usually of Ulfen or Kellid heritage—depicting how he sometimes appears to children, lost travelers, or those he simply doesn't wish to reveal his divine nature to. In most stories, Old Deadeye's arrows never miss, and a few communities still own a spent arrow supposedly once fired by Erastil, passed down through the generations and treasured for its connection to the god.
Depictions of Erastil in artwork are uncommon, as his followers prefer focusing their energy on more practical matters. Those physical representations that do exist are often carved wooden placards bearing his likeness— these aren't worshiped as icons, but serve as constant reminders of his presence. In other communities, a stuffed elk's head or just its horns serve this purpose. In more elaborate representations, Erastil is shown fighting off wild animals or teaching people how to hunt. On the walls of a few ancient caves predating the Azlanti era are painted primitive silhouettes of an elk-headed man performing similar acts.
Old Deadeye shows his approval through bountiful hunts, bumper harvests, mild weather, the appearance of straight paths, and the like, but he prefers to limit his direct intervention to helping needy people in lean times, as he does not want to encourage laziness. A hungry family might find their tiny garden provides bushels of vegetables, an old cow might start giving milk again, a weary hunter's prey might stumble or become entangled, and so on. Hoofed animals are considered channels for Erastil's power, with elk-horns being favored by his worshipers for making simple tools and weapons.
Forked lighting is considered a sign of his presence, and creatures or structures struck by lightning are said to have been felled by Erastil's arrows. His anger is reserved for followers who betray his principles; he usually punishes them by changing them into something more useful to their community, such as a pig or a fruit tree.
Mothers often warn misbehaving children that Erastil will transform them, and most communities have at least one small, gnarled tree that local legend claims was once an especially unruly child.
Erastil's favored weapon is the longbow, but his clerics and druids are proficient with the shortbow as well. Most of his priests are clerics, but a small minority are druids, rangers, and (most rare) paladins, while a few remote communities are served by adepts. Druids usually serve communities in places where natural hazards and the weather are their greatest threats, while paladins tend to be leaders in lands where monsters lurk. Often called Old Deadeye by his faithful, Erastil is also known as Elk Father and the Old Hunter. His holy symbol is a bow made of elk antlers with a nocked arrow.
A typical worshiper of Erastil is a common farmer, rancher, village artisan, or subsistence hunter who wants to live her life, take care of her family, and not worry about kings, wars, or monsters. Erastilians are not pretentious, and while they might be proud of their accomplishments, they're simple folk and their desires are modest—a good crop, a fine piece of land, fat livestock, and a healthy family. They look after their neighbors' farms in emergencies and expect the same in return, but are otherwise content to be left to their own business.
Among the faithful, elk iconography is common, but they have no taboos about hunting the animals as long as no part of the body goes to waste. Because elk shed their antlers at the start of winter, tools made from them are fairly common, and even children may own simple knives made from antlers. At birth, a firstborn child is given an elk tooth, supposedly to ensure fertility and a long life. In the extreme north, reindeer iconography is more common than that of elk, though the traditions and rituals among Erastil's worshipers are otherwise essentially the same.
Hymns constitute most of the church's music, often with a strong rhythm so they can be sung to keep time during repetitive work. Flutes, drums, horns, and other easy-to-make, easy-to-play instruments are also common.
Erastil is very pro-marriage, seeing it as the proper way to create families and frowning on those who would bend or break the sacred bonds with adultery or divorce. The church sees marriage as a way to "tame" unruly men and women, and most villages have at least one married couple who tied the knot after being caught in an indiscretion. Widowers and widows usually remarry, especially if there are still children in the house. Most of Erastil's priests are married, though they are not required to be.
A temple to Old Deadeye is almost always a simple wooden building, longhouse, or even town hall that serves a rural community as a gathering place, with religion being only one of its many uses. Sparsely decorated, such structures often contain highly functional furnishings, as the faithful prefer not to waste their holy area with rows of awkward, heavy pews and statues when sturdy tables and stools would make the area well suited for mending tools and clothes, food preparation, and other helpful crafts. In some cases, temples of Erastil have no seating, leaving the congregation to stand. In such temples, sitting during the faith's short services while not taboo, is looked down on for all but the elderly or infirm—and even they bring their own chairs or mats.
A shrine to Erastil is usually little more than an antler or bow-mark carved on a tree or rock.
Erastil's priests usually have a conventional role in a community—such as being farmers or artisans—in addition to their explicitly religious duties, and consider attending to the needs of their own land and families a form of devotion as well. Most of a priest's day is spent performing mundane tasks just like any other member of the village, with the priest pausing only to speak a blessing at the dawn's breaking, but always ready to drop what he's doing and pitch in when he's needed. They are often called upon to help build homes, deliver children, oversee trade, and bless crops. Erastil's priests are careful to put the needs of the community first, because Old Deadeye's gifts may give them an advantage in aiding their fellow townsfolk. For example, a cleric of Erastil who is a shepherd might use his skill and magic to take care of all the village's animals rather than just his own, even if that means he makes less money selling his own sheep at market—the prosperity of the community and the health of its flock being more important than his own wealth. Priests usually have ranks in Diplomacy (though Intimidate may work just as well), Heal, Knowledge (local), Knowledge (nature), and Sense Motive.
Priests bless farmland and herd animals, plan the planting and harvest, and look after injured folk and families in need. Priests often serve as community counselors and mediators, and are generally the first to step in with a firm hand to deal with a rebellious or disruptive member of the community, whether that person is a frequent drunk, an abusive spouse, or a child prone to screaming tantrums. Adult troublemakers who repeatedly break the community's trust and prove unwilling to change are usually branded on the hand and exiled from the community. To prevent more problems, they're usually pointed in the direction of the nearest city. If something comes along that's too much for the priest to handle, such as bandits, an orc band, or a hungry monster, it is the priest's responsibility as a community leader to find those who can deal with the problem, such as experts from other communities who share the faith, or traveling adventurers.
Every few years the church encourages young priests to set out from the community in search of news, seeds for new crops, alternate techniques for animal husbandry, and other useful new skills that can aid their home villages. Though these wanderers appear to be fish out of water, their stubborn dedication to helping those back home has guaranteed the survival of many poor villages, whether they acquired desperately needed money to send back or by eradicated foul beasts that lurked nearby.
Young adventuring priests often end up settling in remote villages saved by their heroic efforts, especially if there is no local priest. This gives the faith an opportunity to grow and establishes the bonds of a greater community outside the immediate interests of a single village—though the church prefers to focus on life in small settlements, it sees the surrounding communities as a kind of extended family and recognizes the importance of maintaining ties with them. Because a priest usually has a leadership role in a community, the priests of Erastil prefer to take charge when they are part of an adventuring party, and sometimes run into conflict with equally headstrong members of the group as a result.
Though druids are a minority among the clergy, all priests respect them for maintaining the natural world they and their people depend upon. They also give a nod to the rare paladins of the faith who are willing to take up swords and shields so the common folk can keep on with their lives. Rangers rarely become leaders in the church, as their skills and magic cater less to healing and growth compared to other priests.
Erastil's church is simple and practical. Most communities have only one or two priests, so complicated hierarchies are unnecessary, and priests defer to the wisdom of elder clergy. Visiting priests are shown hospitality as is appropriate for any guest, but unless these visitors are particularly important (such as the eldest priest in the country), they typically defer to the judgment of the local leaders. Priests who are part of a community are usually called elders, regardless of their rank within the community or the church. Traveling priests not associated with a community are called brothers or sisters.
The paladins of Erastil are gruff, strict traditionalists. They seek to preserve the integrity of rural life and communities. Their tenets include the following affirmations.
• My community comes first, and I will contribute to it all that I can. If I don't give something back, who will?
• I must offer the poor in my community assistance, but I may not do the work for them—instead, I must teach them to contribute to the settlement. It is only through cooperation that a community grows strong.
• When danger threatens, I am not a fool. I seek first to make sure the weak and innocent are safe, and then I quell the danger.
• I keep to the old ways, the true ways. I am not seduced by the lure of money or power. I remember that true honor comes from within, not from the accolades of others.
• I remember that reputation is everything. Mine is pure and upstanding, and I will repair it if it is broken or tarnished. I stand by my decisions, and live so that none shall have cause to blame me.
• I show respect to my elders, for they have done much. I show respect to the young, for they have much left to do. I show respect to my peers, for they carry the load. And I shall carry it with them.
• I am honest, trustworthy, and stable. If I must leave my lands and community, before I go, I ensure that they will be tended in my absence. Even when duty calls, my duties to my home come first—letting them lapse makes me a burden on my people.
Because of his focus on the home and family, and the need for adults to be practical providers for their children and communities, Erastil produces fewer adventurers than many other gods. When his faithful do strike out on an adventure, it's inevitably to help those they leave behind. Followers of Erastil seek riches not for their own sake, but for what such rewards can do for their families and communities, and those forced to embark on a long adventure regularly count the days until they can return to the warmth and simplicity of home.
Erastil's faithful desire to keep the peace, and while they do what they have to, the farther a conflict strays from regions that directly affect their chosen community, the less they feel compelled to continue the fight. They are paragons of stability—some might say too much so—yet while some might call Erastilian values quaint or backward, the faithful feel they serve as anchors for hearth, home, and family, and help folk understand their place in rural communities, where roles must be well defined.
Given Erastil's focus on simplicity over frivolous adornment, the formal raiment of his clerics and druids is practical, and usually consist of a leather or fur cloak or shoulder-cape branded with his symbol or affixed with a wooden badge bearing his mark. Communities led by a druid may have a ceremonial horned hat or drape made from the tanned hide of an elk.
The Parables of Erastil is the common text of the Erastilian faith. It gives homilies on strengthening family bonds, almanac-like advice on planting, and lore about game animals and tracking. The number of chapters varies from place to place, as communities omit things irrelevant to their way of life or add fables emphasizing local events or traditions.
Erastil believes extensive and complicated ceremonies take time away from necessary things like tending to crops and putting food on the table, so most religious events are short and to the point. The solstices and equinoxes are holy days for the church (the week of the vernal equinox is called Planting Week by the faithful, and week of the autumn equinox is called the Harvest Feast, even though the associated rituals only take about an hour). The summer month of Erastus is named for Erastil.
Archerfeast: This holiday on 3 Erastus is a day of feasting, fun, and relaxation. Villages hold archery and stone-throwing contests, ranchers rope and trade calves and lambs, and young people ask permission to wed. Cider is served cold during the day and hot at night. At sundown, an animal is offered to the god, and everyone in the community eats a piece to share in his blessing.
Any folksy, rural saying is likely to spill from the mouths of Erastil's faithful as if it were the god's dogma. Two in particular are favorites.
Never Trust a Fool: Whether the fool is the village idiot trying to catch the moon with a spoon or a traveling adventurer trying to inspire the locals to rise up against the local lord, a sensible person ignores him, as no good will come of this "work."
Nothing Is More Satisfying Than the Fruits of a Day's Labor: This saying is used to chastise lazy folk and rebuke those who wonder what's so satisfying about a simple country life. Gold and gems make one weak; hard work in a field shows strength of body and character.
Erastil can be gruff and reserved, but he is still on good terms with most nonevil deities of Golarion. However, he is very set in his ways and frequently criticizes the particulars of his fellow deities' faiths and practices.
Although Erastil's stodgy demeanor means that few deities go out of their way to fraternize with him, his skills at archery and tracking are among the greatest in the Outer Planes. More than once other deities have sought out the god of hunters for his aid and insight into slaying marauding beasts or finding someone lost in the multiplanar wilds—begrudgingly enduring Erastil's instructions for and opinions on making sure such a thing never happens again.
Despite being ill-suited to planar politics, Erastil does have several allies among the deities of Golarion. Although Erastil views Abadar as a good fellow who's perhaps forgotten where he came from, both want peaceful, orderly homes for their followers. Erastil frowns on Abadar's pomp and occasional heartlessness, but the god of cities sees the value of Erastil's work in setting people and villages on the path to the grand communities they could eventually be—even as he smirks over opinions he usually views as outmoded. Erastil also appreciates the work of Torag, especially his dedication to craftsmanship and clan, but neither stubborn deities can find much more of a common ground with the other besides the mutual respect of two old men nodding across a taproom.
Erastil's paternal affection for Desna is real, but distant and tinged with a slight sadness. Her independence and providence over the reliable cycles of the moon and stars could make her a trusted friend, but her distance, whimsy, and encouragement of self-indulgence makes her too untrustworthy in all but times of direst need. He is more patient in his interactions with Shelyn, for her support of marriage and families strengthens communities. The goddess of art has, on numerous occasions, sought out the god of hunters, asking him to guide her to the most amazing vistas and unique settings in the multiverse. Erastil regularly indulges her, enjoying her company even as he argues with her over the value of art and life. They disagree on most topics, but Shelyn's congeniality and honest appreciation of Erastil's time have preserved their friendship.
Evil deities are largely of a kind to Erastil, and he has little time or interest in doing much more than contributing arrow fire to drive them away. While he views Lamashtu and Rovagug as a frontier scout might wild monsters, he reserves an especial hatred for Urgathoa. That goddess's gluttony and fostering of diseases regularly blight his people, whether in the form of deadly plagues, the tainting of game and fields, or in cultivating the sick-hearted desire for more than one's neighbors. Urgathoa is aware of the god's loathing, and goes out of her way to needle Erastil, setting her minions upon fragile frontier communities whenever the opportunity arises.
Erastil's followers are generally friendly toward members of other good-aligned religions, but they also harbor a sense of superiority that can vary from private conviction to outright paternalism. The faith tends to be an all-ornothing affair, and thus attracts people with somewhat black-and-white worldviews. Most of Erastil's faithful, however, have good hearts, and though they may grumble and mutter disapprovingly at those with different beliefs, they'll also help people in true need without hesitation.
Many see themselves as having a parental role toward those around them. If they don't engage in outright evangelism for their faith and worldviews, they still consider it important to attempt to instill proper values in their neighbors while aiding them: they may teach local youth valuable skills while emphasizing the importance of using those skills to contribute to their families and communities, or help a newcomer fix up a house while encouraging him to use it to start a family. They are unlikely to take action against cults of evil deities unless those worshipers directly threaten their community, although any adherent of a malevolent deity who strikes up a conversation with one of Erastil's followers can expect a stern lecture on her misguided beliefs.
Erastil's pastoral domain stands on the gentle slopes of the fourth tier of Heaven. True to his ethos, Old Deadeye's realm is filled with lush farmland punctuated by forests and rivers and populated by small, tightly knit villages of his petitioners, reunited in death. His domain contains only a few cities, mostly as a way of fostering and promoting trade, especially between the petitioners of the dwarven pantheon and the plane's archons, though a few permanent portals allow for cross-planar trade in and out of his domain. For the most part, Erastil is content to have his realm be a pleasantly rural place, where his petitioners can spend eternity in the simple pleasures of working fruitful land and hunting in bountiful forests alongside their families and friends, free from hardship and sadness. While angels, archons, and petitioners devoted to the god may take up causes of their own—acting across the multiverse to help protect faithful communities and fight the horrors of the evil planes—Erastil does not directly require such services, and sees nothing wrong with his people supporting the celestial armies and their righteous cause by staying home and keeping Heaven a stable, healthy, well-defended plane.
Most of Erastil's divine servants are animals or benign forest creatures. Some of them reside permanently on the Material Plane, patrolling frontier areas and keeping an eye out for settlers in need. A few "legendary" animals known to villages are actually Old Deadeye's minions rather than true animals, making appearances once or twice a generation to protect the community. In addition to Erastil's servitor race, the stag archons (see page 287), the following allies serve Erastil, and are suitable for conjuring with planar ally or similar spells.
Arangin (unique celestial heavy horse): Said to be the resurrected spirit of the paladin Jaydis Von's equally heroic and storied mount, Arangin appears when servants of Erastil most need aid, carrying the lost out of labyrinthine forests and saving the wagons of desperately stuck pioneers from hidden bogs. This ruby-toned heavy horse has an Intelligence score of 8 and understands Common but speaks no languages.
Blackfeather (unique avoral): Able to take the form of a man, an eagle, or an eagle-man hybrid, this fierce avoral archer is a skilled and deadly archer who hunts only for sustenance or to defend the innocent. Often he is content to perch on a rooftop, silently watching over a village when strangers appear, ready to aid in case there is trouble.
The Grim White Stag: This enormous stag serves as Erastil's herald. The Grim White Stag was once a powerful spirit creature, worshiped by early humans under the tutelage of druids of the Green Faith. When Erastil's religion became more prominent, it allied with Old Deadeye, respecting his wisdom, strength, and nobility. Some regional tales say that in the early days of the world, Erastil hunted the beast, seeking to make a bow of its horns, yet it proved so agile and hardy that after weeks of pursuit, the god of the hunt tired of tracking the beast. At night, as the god stopped to rest and enjoy a simple meal, the stag fearlessly approached, bowing low to the tenacious tracker. Erastil, understanding that the beast was no savage, welcomed the Grim White Stag into his camp and shared his meal with the ancient spirit of the forest. From then on, the two have understood and respected one another, sharing the same reverence for the forests and creatures there, as well as care for all who would live honestly and in peace with the denizens of the wilderness.
Scorchbark (unique treant): Nearly crippled in a skirmish with a barbed devil, this reckless young treant now displays his burns like a badge of honor. He is obviously wary whenever an enemy uses fire near him, but is a stalwart ally and never lets it deter him from his responsibilities or cause him to hesitate in battle.
Divine hunter (paladin)
Nimble Natural Summons
Altar of Erastil
Bracers of archery
Bronze skinning knife
Bow of ErastilM
Cloak of elvenkind
Deadeye's spotter ring
Clerics, paladins, and rangers of Erastil may prepare goodberry as a 2nd-level spell, and druids can cast the spell on nuts or seeds as well as berries. Clerics and paladins may cast animal messenger as a 2nd-level spell, and all priests may use that spell on any non-hostile animal (including friendly guard animals and domesticated animals).
Erastil's priests can use summon monster and summon nature's ally spells to summon the following creatures in addition to the normal creatures listed in the spells.
Summon Monster II/Summon Nature's Ally II celestial elk (LG)
Summon Monster III/Summon Nature's Ally III celestial dire boar (LG)
Plant five seeds in fertile earth, spacing them out in the shape of an arrow. The seeds may be those of any plant that can potentially grow in the region, though edible plants are preferred. The seeds don't need to be from a type of plant that could thrive in that soil—all they must have is a chance at survival. If no suitable earth exists, place a small bundle of seeds (again, those that grow edible plants are preferred), a small bundle of preserved food, or a quiver of arrows in a place where a passerby might see it. Mark your gifts with Erastil's sign, and say a prayer for the health and safety of the communities in the area and those who may be in need of Erastil's guidance. Gain a +4 sacred bonus on Survival checks.
1: Family's Bond (Sp) cure light wounds 3/day, shield other 2/day, or prayer 1/day
2: Twin Fang (Ex) Once per day as a standard action, you can summon an exact double of your animal companion. The double acts and thinks like your animal companion in every way, and obeys your commands just as the original would. Your original animal companion and its double understand and trust each other perfectly. The double remains for 1 round for every Hit Die you possess, and then vanishes. If you don't have an animal companion, you instead gain the ability to use summon nature's ally V as a spell-like ability once per day.
3: Faithful Archer (Ex) You are particularly skilled at using Erastil's favored weapon. When using a longbow, you add your Wisdom bonus on attack and damage rolls against targets within 30 feet.
1: Animal Friend (Sp) charm animal 3/day, animal messenger 2/day, or summon nature's ally III 1/day
2: Hunter's Ally (Sp) Once per day as a standard action, you can summon a pair of hound archons. The hound archons follow your commands perfectly for 1 minute for every Hit Die you possess before vanishing back to their home in Heaven. The hound archons don't follow commands that would violate their lawful good alignment. Such commands will not only earn refusal and scorn from the hound archons, but could cause them to attack you if the command is particularly egregious.
3: Communal Table (Sp) Your devotion to caring for your community allows you to evoke Erastil's divine bounty to feed your friends with a banquet of cooked game and simple beverages. Once per day, you can use heroes' feast as a spell-like ability. Creatures that eat from this communal table, a process that takes 1 hour, gain a +2 sacred bonus on attack rolls and Will saving throws instead of the usual +1 morale bonus. Whenever you cast this spell, choose one teamwork feat; you may select a new feat every time you cast this spell, but once it's cast, your selection can't be changed. Anyone who eats from the communal table gains the benefits of the chosen teamwork feat. The benefits of the heroes' feast, including the bonus teamwork feat, last for 12 hours. A character doesn't need to meet the prerequisites for a teamwork feat granted through this ability.
1: Sureshot (Sp) longshot 3/day, deadeye's arrow* 2/day, or flame arrow 1/day
2: Tough Hide (Su) When you wear armor made from leather or animal hide, the armor provides an extra +2 armor bonus to your AC. This bonus improves the normal armor bonus granted by the armor; in other words, it stacks with the suit's normal armor bonus. You also mystically subsume some of the qualities of the animal that gave its life for the armor. Gain the scent ability with a range of 30 feet while wearing armor made from leather or animal hide.
3: Farmer's Bond (Su) Your time spent cultivating crops has given you a bond with plants. You can cast speak with plants 3 times per day. If you spend at least 1 hour during the day in direct sunlight, you don't need to eat that day. Finally, you become immune to poisons ingested from whole plants (not distilled poisons, such as assassins use) and any poison from attacks or effects generated by plant creatures.