|LG, NG, LN|
|Animal, Community, Good, Law, Plant|
Erastil is one of Pathfinder deities.
Description[edit | edit source]
Erastil, also known as "Old Deadeye" and "The Stag God", is one of the oldest human gods still worshiped in the Inner Sea region, and is concerned with family, farming, hunting, and trade. During the Age of Creation, Erastil was among the gods who battled Rovagug when he sought to destroy Golarion, and were eventually able to contain him in the Dead Vault at the planet's core. His religion dates back to before the Age of Darkness, when small farming communities and hunter-gathers prayed to him for bountiful harvests and successful hunts. Legends claim that it was Old Deadeye himself who crafted the first bow and gifted it to the world. Even as the accomplishments of civilization mount, Erastil continues to embrace and represent the simpler pleasures life has to offer.
Background[edit | edit source]
Erastil, 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 halflings 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.