Lord of Greed
Areshkagal is a faceless, six-legged female sphinx whose midnight-blue fur is sparse enough that her pale, ashen skin can be seen through it. Draconic wings sprout from her shoulder blades, and her tail is the front half of a viper.2 This viper's mouth speaks riddles to her prisoners, and her face is rumoured to be so hideous that, on revealing it, Areshkagal sends onlookers mad, to their deaths, or worse.3 Some legends claim the Abyss itself cannot bear the sight of her countenance.4
Areshkagal's mightier younger half-sister, Aldinach, ousted her from her former domain in the Sea of Whispering Sands. Their mother, Lamashtu, pays no heed to the strife between the two demon lords, so Areshkagal constantly sends groups of demonic sphinxes and other denizens of her realm against Aldinach without fear of familial repercussion.2 Rumor has it that Areshkagal's treasury still lies hidden in her former domain, and she seeks to reclaim it before Aldinach can find it and plunder its vast riches.3 There is an Abyssal layer called the Enigma of Areshkagal.5
The rocky, inhospitable Blood Clefts serve primarily as a staging area for Areshkagal's assaults on the Sea of Whispering Sands. What vegetation may grow there nourishes itself on the seeping rivers of blood which cross the landscape, or on the blood from living interlopers.4
Scholars have noted for some time that Areshkagal's form bears a striking resemblance to that of Outer God Nyarlathotep, and that both are legendarily deceptive, renowned for their trickery. While no solid evidence has been found for ties between them, the similarities have led some to speculate that Areshkagal might have worshiped the Crawling Chaos in her mortal life and adopted her guise as a form of respect or deference, or in an effort to spread confusion. Regardless, when their cults have come into contact with one another, each go to some lengths to avoid claiming the other's territory, they generally do not clash, and some will trade secret and magical knowledge.4
It goes without saying that there is absolutely no love lost between Areshkagal and Aldinach.
Worshipers and followers
Areshkagal has fewer worshipers than her sister, since she lost many of her powers with her ouster. On the Material Plane, she has some drow followers,6 particularly the drow of House Vonnarc in Zirnakaynin.78 Other possible creatures that may acknowledge her as their mistress include evil maftets, sphinxes, portal-mages, and lamias in Osirion and Katapesh.
Temples to the Faceless Sphinx often include magical doors enchanted to become "riddle locks" which serve as the only entrance to parts of the structures. These portals require answering their unique riddles before they open and allow entry; answering incorrectly may sometimes cause the door to open, only to teleport the interloper to a prison cell with no exit, a far-flung desert, or even another world altogether.4
Followers of Areshkagal have a deep-seated hatred of the cult of Aldinach, which the followers of the Lord of Scorpions seem to view with contempt, as if they were an unworthy, dying breed, rather than a true enemy.4
Some devotees of Areshkagal gain special powers by regularly etching the Twenty-three Riddles of the Flesh—an interlocked series of puzzles no mortal has yet solved—on their skin with a knife carved from the rib-bone of a child.4
- “Appendices” in Campaign Setting, 246. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Demon Lords of Golarion” in Descent into Midnight, 56. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “Lords of the Abyss” in Lords of Chaos, Book of the Damned Volume 2, 12. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Chapter 1: Fiendish Divinities” in Book of the Damned, 24–25. Paizo Inc., 2017 .
- “Endless Night” in Endless Night, 36. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Drow of Golarion” in The Armageddon Echo, 64. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- James Jacobs. (December 9, 2008). Who does house Vonnarc serve?, Paizo Messageboards.
- “Endless Night” in Endless Night, 21. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- Ereshkigal (real-world Mesopotamian deity) on Wikipedia