The Iron Gods
Temple of Zyphus
Zyphus is full of a quiet, seething anger that slowly builds to a breaking point until he lashes out, which sates him for only a few moments. Every child killed by an infected cut, every happy groom felled on his wedding day, and every master rider fatally thrown from her horse has felt Zyphus cold hand. It’s said that every accidental death adds to his strength, so that someday he can grow powerful enough to usurp the place of his most hated rival: the Lady of Graves. Also known as the Grim Harvestman, Zyphus both loves and hates his worshipers (known as Zyphens). On one hand, they constantly remind him of his divine nature, feeding his ego and furthering his goals in the mortal world. But the petty deity envies his followers’ mortal lives, for his was taken from him without cause or purpose, and he resents them for having what he can’t. Communication with his followers is brief, terse, and often full of bile; like an abusive parent, any apparent kindness in him is just a lull before the next outburst. Some among his faithful believe that once he usurps Pharasma’s place, he will allow all souls to wander the planes unsorted, and he will reincarnate himself as a mortal with no memories of his prior existence. Others believe every soul he claims allows him a brief respite from his rage as he savors a piece of its former mortality, and that these shallow sips of life motivate him to keep reaching for more. Zyphus instructs his followers through ruthless actions rather than persuasive homilies or notable revelations. He believes that the universe is ruled by chance, not some grand plan his very existence as a god proves that even the goddess of fate can be surprised. Because no deities truly have the answers, mortal faith in them is misplaced. It’s important to note that Zyphus is an agent of random chance, but not of chaos-he is equally as likely to kill a lawbreaker, a paladin, a despotic tyrant, or a freedom fighter, so long as the death results from an accident and is pointless or tragic. He doesn’t seek to promote chaos over order, only to instill a resigned fear and acceptance that death could come at any time. Zyphus looms over mortal life, keeping all shrouded in fear of a capricious, pointless death. Zyphus appears as a gloomy, terrifying figure clad in hooded black robes decorated with bones. His face is a gaunt, pale nightmare with a distended, screaming mouth an hollow eye sockets grown over by translucent membranes of skin. He wields a heavy pick made of bones, reputed to be the actual remains ofhis mortal body. Zyphus’s feet are hidden beneath his robes, and he never leaves tracks when he walks-some believe that he floats eerily just above the ground. In art, Zyphus is represented by his pickaxe or an eyeless face in a hood or cowl.