Deity of hatred, extortion, and spite
Domains: Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Madness
Subdomains: Demon, Insanity, Nightmare, Rage
Favored Weapon: dagger
Centers of Worship: Lake Encarthan region, River Kingdoms
Symbol: Single bloodshot eye
Sacred Animal: Black cat
Sacred Colors: Pink, white
"Depraved," they bellow at that which they covet. "Unforgiveable," they label her crimes, which they once gleefully committed upon her without shame. Ours are not the words of hypocrites. Ours is hate worn without a coward's mask.
—Black Ledger of Macy Swain
The goddess Gyronna plays shepherd to wayward hate and coddles the entitlement and darkness in mortal hearts. The superstitious and crass describe Gyronna as both the Angry Hag and the Hag Queen, goddess of scorned women. While her priesthood does consist largely of women used and cast aside by society, she represents a much darker impulse than mere wounded pride. Gyronna is the briar that springs from bitter soil; her purview is not scorn, but the hatred that festers around a wounded heart never allowed to heal and the dread things that grow from small and thoughtless evils. When trust and love fail, her embrace fills that void with the strength of seething vengeance and bitter entitlement.
Few sources agree on Gyronna's origin, and her cults quietly hunt anyone who investigates it. Many place her origins in the First World, as a malicious fey princess who delighted in manipulation for her own amusement. After crossing a powerful rival—Baba Yaga or Magdh, by most accounts—the immortal dilettante was punished with deformities and cast into the mortal realm. Other stories describe her as a trio of bickering sisters who befell the same fate, and were so mutilated that they were forced to lean on one another to even stand, eventually growing together into one loathsome, hateful whole. In the wake of such exile, kindness and civility are, to her, dribbles of poisoned honey, and Gyronna would burn all the world to ash to eradicate such mockery and deception.
Gyronna's complete figure is rarely depicted; she is more often represented as the same bloodshot eye her followers use as their unholy symbol. Her rare manifestations are chaotic, shifting form mid-conversation—sometimes decrepit, other times vibrantly young, beautiful, withered and dead, jubilant, weeping, or raging. According to ancient tales, the Angry Hag has no true form beyond the singular bulging eye through which she sees the shadows cast by even the brightest lights. Only her gender remains constant—though she presents vastly differing images of womanhood—as do the ragged vestments in which she wraps herself.
The Angry Hag's favor is felt in misfortune befalling those who vex her followers, or in small, suffering animals left in one's home by stray cats. Those who earn her ire can expect minor social blunders to grow far beyond their expected scope, premature aging, or for their touch to wither plants and sicken animals.
Order and hierarchy disgust Gyronna, and her faith is one of hidden cults—referred to as circles—spread by hushed whispers and desperate midnight indoctrinations. Her teachings emphasize personal fulfillment and rejection of the hollow trappings of society unless they suit one's needs. Chief among her cultists are women in troubled marriages, who have found themselves either betrayed by the person they trusted most in the world, or punished and exiled from their community for betraying that same trust. The hurt from such encounters, or similar rejections and violations of trust, plants the seed Gyronna's faith cultivates into poisonous fruit. No wound of spite is unjustified and no price of revenge is too high; all past agony demands new suffering from others.
Individual adherents may act openly or in secret, but circles of Gyronnans nearly always meet in seclusion, concealing their identities under hoods or behind masks. Meeting by night in untamed wilderness or in crumbling structures where vermin and rot dominate, her faithful trade secrets, offer prayers and sacrifices, exchange poisons and black magic, and cajole one another into assisting with personal rituals or plots. Leadership is determined by whichever member can cow her sisters into compliance or recruit enough followers to overpower challengers. Hags or cruel changelings often lead a circle, while a full hag coven may command large and influential cults to act as their eyes and ears across a broader area. In such cases, Gyronna's mortal worshipers serve almost entirely as agents for their mistress's whims, helping to enact schemes, secure victims for torture, and kidnap healthy infants to exchange for their own changeling brood.
Gyronna's faith consists almost entirely of women, but is by no means a religion that glorifies or protects her chosen gender. Women outside her faith—and even the unwary within it—are considered apt targets for violence, extortion, and curses. Key among her philosophy is nurturing the entitlement that accompanies a life touched by wealth, beauty, or political power, and her church has little use for the poor or other groups forced to society's margins. While the bitter-hearted among these groups may participate in her cults, they rarely earn the goddess's favor or any measure of influence unless they also wield formidable magical abilities. Her cult has no particular interest in challenging genderrelated prejudices or improving the lot of women in general; most would rather use oppressive gender roles or assumptions to conceal their activities or lay a foundation of hatred in potential future converts.
While Gyronna's worship is predominantly practiced by women, this is more because the goddess finds the anger of men to be blunt and clumsy. She is a vintner of malevolence, keen to grow a cold, bitter heart over months or years, and has no use for worshipers who fall prey to the self-aggrandizement or lack of self-awareness she believes men embody. She is known to strike those men who beg her favor with impotence, claiming it calms their temperament. The threat of such a result drives most men away, but a select few find her potential support for their vendettas and resentment to be worth the risk, and eventually find a place within her cult.
Gyronna's priestesses claim—though only when their goddess's eye is turned away—that upon her first ascension to godhood, the Angry Hag found herself unnaturally fecund, and birthed endless daughters. Her first seven she devoured. The next seven she crushed beneath a great stone. And the daughters thereafter she cast down into the dust. The seven she devoured further gestated in their mother's bile, and eventually sprang from her chest as the first night hags, every bit as wicked as their mother. The seven she crushed were found by Pharasma, who nurtured the infant souls as they learned compassion and matured into the first memitim psychopomps.
But the daughters beyond those found themselves adopted by mortal families, and loved as mortal children, and became the first changelings. Gyronna watched these children with disgust, but one by one, the world failed each girl in turn, blackening their hearts through ignorance, loss, or cruelty, and they inevitably found their way back to their true mother. Gyronna rewarded them with the same painful ascension she'd endured, tearing the lingering goodness from their mortal forms and transforming each daughter into a progenitor for her own breed of hag; thus, an untold number of early hags may have become the founders of new hag lines. Even today, changelings remain Gyronna's favored servants, for each is but a moment's cruelty away from crawling pitifully back into her mother's arms.
As Gyronna is a secretive and paranoid goddess, her followers rarely construct elaborate temples. Instead, they claim sites of great natural beauty that are isolated from prying eyes, and dedicate them to the Angry Hag. Each site is christened with an altar of piled stones, capped with a fist-sized stone painted to resemble an eye, or with an enormous gem, among more influential circles. Followers claim that Gyronna—as well as any hags who serve the cult—can see through these stones to cast judgment and dispense curses. Especially ambitious circles have been known to erect elaborate monuments or rings of standing stones upon sites of natural wonder in mockery of the fey or druidic protectors from whom they seized these sites.
Sites frequented by Gyronna's priestesses develop a dimness and dankness that meld into a sense of looming dread. Venomous creatures and plants flourish in and around her shrines. Adherents of the Angry Hag mark these spaces in ways obvious only to the faithful. In urban settings, these demarcations appear as motifs of three concentric circles—resembling an eye— worked into decorations and stonework, while in rural environs a circle may hang woven spheres or circles from tree branches or paint eye imagery onto trees and rocks. Such territorial markings are intended to warn off other Gyronnans, but cultists consider such subtle and contextual messages to be sufficient warnings for all trespassers, and maintain that any who stumble into their territory deserve whatever fate befalls them.
Most women find their way to Gyronna's arms after a humiliating downfall or painful personal experience, and find new purpose in exposing the same weakness or hypocrisy in others. Worshipers of the Angry Hag believe that nothing and no one can be truly selfless or worthy of redemption, and that all who aspire to goodness have some disgusting truth they hide from the world. A priestess's role is to uncover this hidden truth and pluck and pick at it to make these supposedly moral souls dance to her whims, until they finally admit—broken, ruined, and sobbing—that altruism and all their good deeds were lies told to hide a rotten core. A priestess of Gyronna knows herself to be a monster, but believes she is a monster of circumstance, formed by the malice of the world and willing to admit her terrible truth rather than hiding it from herself.
Gyronna's faith divides roughly into urban and rural sects, though both are highly informal affairs of superstition more than strict adherence. Urban worshipers live a double life, fitting seamlessly into their middle-class or highsociety lives by day and working fell magic by night. Rural sects, in contrast, operate largely in the open, trusting fear of their magic and inevitable reprisal to keep the scattered people of the countryside from standing against them. Most operate at night, roaming their territory during dusk and dawn, and Gyronnans in isolated settings brazenly demand alms, food, or lodging from those whose paths they cross during these transitional hours.
As a follower of Gyronna grows in power and experience, her tolerance for others dwindles until she can no longer stomach the presence of her own sisters. These rare elders retreat from society, hiding deep in the wilderness or sealing themselves within lonely estates, and visit terrible and protracted deaths upon any who violate their homes. They spend their days in meditation or communion with the Outer Planes, hoping to learn some foul new untruth regarding the nature of creation that has thus far gone unexposed, and in so doing, earn a place at their goddess's side as one of the immortal Daughters of Gyronna who tend her infernal realm. Clerics of Gyronna can prepare eyebite as a 6th-level spell.
The worshipers of Gyronna are monsters made, rather than born, and few begin their careers in her service. Those who serve her directly do so by undermining forces of compassion and prestige, often out of spite for those same organizations' failures to protect or provide for them. Recruiting a few dissatisfied housewives or the workers in a miserable brothel may grant a priestess access to many private conversations or let her spread disease or cursed afflictions, all the while undermining the trust between the town's inhabitants.
In the River Kingdoms, Gyronna sees many casual worshipers and momentary invocations. Many beg her favor or donate to her cultists to ward off bad luck. Bitter and abused women along the untamed frontier may invoke her name to curse an ex-lover or punish men who cross them, hoping to draw the Angry Hag's attention upon such targets even if the supplicant doesn't honor her directly. Especially superstitious folks may even retain a Gyronnan priestess in the hope that she will ward away other dark forces that stalk them.
Gyronnans mark their divine awakening by retaining the same clothing they ritually don when their eyes first opened to the goddess's sacred truths, along with a black smock representing the wrongs done to them and their transition to her faith. These outfits, or "shabbles," quickly turn a filthy gray, and Gyronnans sometimes accentuate the clothes they wear under their smocks with pink splotches, like the veins of their goddess's bloodshot eye. Over time, these vestments and smocks invariably grow ragged and patched, and even the grandest gown transforms into an unsightly rag. Pristine shabbles are the sign of a neophyte worshiper, as distinct and embarrassing as a child's jumper.
Gyronna's faith is spread through hushed whispers and colorful invectives. While no single holy book binds them, many priestesses maintain black ledgers filled with gossip, dreams, blackmail material, and the identities of fellow zealots, as well as lists of enemies and the myriad wrongs they've committed. The ledgers of especially old or powerful priestesses become akin to holy books in their own right.
Black Ledger of Macy Swain: Among the most famous of these holy books, this ledger contains the writings of a Gyronnan witch tried shortly before the death of Aroden and executed via poison, hanging, disemboweling, drowning, beheading, and finally, burial, even as her head still screamed curses at her accusers.
Most circles meet under the new moon—fewer souls can witness what transpires on moonless nights, and superstition claims that midnight on these dark nights is when the Angry Hag blinks her ageless eye, and that looking upon her work when it reopens pleases her.
Blightmother's Eve: The final new moon of each year stands out as a night of toil among Gyronnans, who use the occasion to make sacrifices and work powerful rituals. Their ultimate hope is to rejuvenate the bitter crone, in hopes that she enters the new year with slightly more patience for her wretched mortal followers.
Priestesses of the Angry Hag especially love blistering invectives and clever insults. Some are purely odious, while others wax poetic, but a bitter heart backs each, and calls to its kin.
Blessed Are the Maids Who Find Nothing so Odious to Endure as Peace: Sometimes shortened to "this odious peace," or "blessed, odious girl," the most common Gyronnan aphorism praises women who stir up trouble and cannot abide quiet and easy days.
Weeds Spring from Waste: Gyronnans are quick to remind each other and outsiders that their wickedness grew from a far more wretched source, and the bleak deeds they enact were often set in motion by those they seek to punish.
Gyronna is most closely associated with her fellow Kellid god, Hanspur, and the clergy of each pay grudging respect to those of the other. Gyronnan priestesses are expected to spare Hanspur's servants from their extortions and violence, and in return, those who worship the Water Rat offer safe passage and shelter along the waterways.
Among the philosophies and portfolios of the more popular gods of the Inner Sea, Gyronna's hew most closely to Lamashtu's; in the River Kingdoms and along the shores of Lake Encarthan, there is occasional overlap between the human worshipers of both goddesses.
Beyond these connections, Gyronna despises other deities and busies herself in plotting their downfalls. To that end, she disrupts the worshipers of other gods and blackmails their servants, as much for her personal empowerment as to expose their hypocrisy and prove that all the world is just as shallow, selfish, and cruel as her own twisted heart. She hates Pharasma, whom she accuses of stealing away those children she murdered so long ago and poisoning them against their mother. She holds similar contempt for the demon lord Mestama, calling the vile woman a pale imitation of herself and a false mother to her children. Some planar scholars whisper that Mestama and Gyronna are actually twin aspects of the same being, though few advocates of this blasphemous theory survive long.
Gyronna rules the twisted, midnight forest of Muravelara, an Abyssal realm where the sun never rises and the trees themselves seem to press in and overwhelm travelers. Massive toads and feral cats stalk the shadows, alongside hags and female vrocks. The Hag Queen herself is rarely in residence, preferring to wander the Material Plane, while leaving the forest in the care of her daughters— both literal and honorary. The Daughters of Gyronna guide her petitioners in sacrifices and hunts in between long periods of flagellation and abuse, and all manner of trespassers are captured for drawn-out dismemberment, sacrifice, and regeneration, only to finally be burned alive as torches for special ceremonies conducted under the realm's bloodshot moon.
Hags of all breeds ultimately answer to Gyronna's cruel whimsy and make up the bulk of her loyal servants. Night hags and fiendish hags are both suitable servitors to answer a Gyronnan priestess's planar ally summons. Within this vile legion, a few servants stand out.
Daughters of Gyronna (unique fiendish hags): Those hags and mortal women who commit atrocities of note join the Angry Hag's side in death as rulers of her Abyssal realm. Each hag claims a specific wicked deed as her purview, and coddles petitioners who earned Gyronna's favor by committing it. They're said to always number thirteen thirteens, and any new addition to this host must first slay whichever daughter she intends to replace and feed upon the daughter's festering liver.
Hebdanke (herald of Gyronna): The seven daughters who Gyronna devoured lived on in their mother's hide as wretched boils before bursting forth as the first night hags, and the youngest emerged a twisted and hideous beast, unable to cloak her hideousness in the guise of beauty like her sisters. The horrible honesty of Hebdanke's face earned her an eternal place as Gyronna's twisted right hand, and as perhaps the only thing the Angry Hag genuinely loves. In place of the ability to twist her own flesh into beauty, Hebdanke is instead blessed with a touch that twists others' beauty into repulsiveness, allowing her to reshape unborn children in Gyronna's image.
Nyvuss (unique CE silvanshee): Once the curious and lovable feline familiar of the Kellid witch Marganala, Nyvuss watched as her mistress's disguised green hag lover lured her deeper into corruption. When Taldan authorities finally lashed her to a pyre for her crimes, the witch swore her soul to Gyronna if only the hag goddess would allow her to take the grand prince's head. The Angry Hag obligingly stitched the burned witch and her familiar into one horrible whole, and under the next new moon, Grand Prince Rodivarian III tripped over a black cat and broke his neck in the fall. Ever since, the mad Nyvuss has served as Gyronna's messenger, spy, and courier of foul luck, always darting in shadows and moving by night so none can see the still-twitching human face stitched into her bloated stomach.
Spend at least 30 minutes working to make another sentient creature's life measurably worse or more miserable, whether by destroying its property, sabotaging its efforts, or afflicting it magically. Your victim must survive this encounter, but your actions can indirectly lead to its death, such as tainting a plague-ridden man's medicine or stealing the money a woman would use to pay back a loan. You must make your victim aware of your involvement, and always name some price or task your victim can perform to assuage your bitter heart and gain recompense for the damage you have inflicted, though this price does not need to be reasonable. You gain a +4 profane bonus on Intimidate checks.
1: Dread Gifts (Sp)fumbletongue 3/day, disfiguring touch 2/day, or eruptive pustules 1/day
2: Rot Their Minds (Su) Your spewed curses and venomous retorts take on a malevolent timbre, and your enemies' minds bend before the potency of your ire. Once per day, you can cast feeblemind, as per the spell, except remove curse can remove this effect, as can heal, limited wish, miracle, and wish. If the target fails its Will saving throw against this effect, it recognizes you as its afflictor. After this effect ends, if you are within 30 feet of the target, it is shaken for a number of rounds equal to your Hit Dice or until you move more than 30 feet away from it (whichever comes first). This is a curse effect.
3: Mother of Curses (Su) The rage within your heart shields you against harm and turns it back on others. You gain an amount of spell resistance equal to 11 + your Hit Dice, but only against necromancy and transmutation spells, as well as enchantment spells of the charm subschool. Once per day, when a spell fails to penetrate your spell resistance, you can reflect it back on its caster, as if using spell turning.
1: Alone Among Many (Sp)youthful appearance 3/day, undetectable alignment 2/day, or nondetection 1/day
2: Come by Night (Ex) Night is when others are vulnerable and trusting, and few can pierce the darkness to see your handiwork. You gain darkvision 30 feet and are immune to any magical sleep effects (this functions identically to an elf's immunity to magical sleep effects).
3: Curdled Trust (Su) You can sow the seeds of distrust in a group and assign the blame for your actions to another. Once per day, upon committing an evil act or casting a spell in front of witnesses, as a free action you can enchant all onlookers to believe another person known to them committed that act. If you know a creature's full name, you can name it specifically as the culprit. Otherwise, each onlooker sees a random friend or family member committing your actions. Onlookers who succeed at a Will saving throw (DC = 10 + 1/2 your Hit Dice + your Wisdom modifier) are not fooled, though they might still be fooled by concealing clothing or mundane disguises you may be wearing. This is a mind-affecting enchantment effect.
1: Malice (Sp)ray of sickening 3/day, blindness/deafness 2/day, or excruciating deformation 1/day
2: Cloak of Curses (Su) You surround yourself in a shroud of whispered secrets and spiteful swearing, distorting the world around you and repelling others with the bitterness in your heart. Once per day, you can activate your cloak of curses as a standard action, and maintain it for up to 1 minute per Hit Die you possess. While the cloak is active, creatures of the animal and vermin type will not approach within 5 feet of you and move away if you approach them. Attacks from all other creatures suffer a 20% miss chance. This miss chance increases to 30% if the attacking creature is lawful or good (this miss chance does not stack). Creatures that succeed at a Will saving throw (DC = 10 + 1/2 your Hit Dice + your Charisma modifier) are not affected by your cloak of curses.
3: Never Suffer Alone (Ex) Misery is a gift you have received far too much of, and you have learned to reflect it onto others. Three times per day, when an opponent successfully deals hit point damage to you, you can immediately make an attack of opportunity against the creature that damaged you, even if you could not normally make an attack of opportunity. You can attack normally with this attack of opportunity or target the triggering creature with one of the spells granted by the malice boon above (though doing so provokes an attack of opportunity if an opponent is in melee with you). You can use this ability only once per round.