the Black Lady
the Sea Banshee
Besmara (pronounced bes-MAR-uh),1 also known as the Pirate Queen, is a goddess most commonly worshiped by the sailor-folk of the Shackles or Ilizmagorti. She is said to captain her legendary ship Seawraith throughout the seas and waterways of the Great Beyond (especially the Maelstrom), making raids on places such as Hell, Elysium, Axis, and Heaven. Pirates do not tend to be a very religious lot, and generally only call on her on their deathbeds or if in extreme danger. Those few priests who do devote themselves to her generally also are captains of their own raiding ships and have a fierce reputation. Her symbol is the jolly roger, a universal emblem of piracy, normally a white skull and crossbones on a black field.2
As the deity of buccaneers, privateers, and those who seek their fortune through daring sea ventures, Besmara embraces a freewheeling lifestyle that celebrates defying restrictive laws and societal norms. However, she imposes a strict adherence to the pirate's code upon her followers. Once they commit themselves to a ship, they are bound to show unwavering loyalty to their captains and crews until they reach their intended destination.3 She demands followers seize what they want without care for who owns it, and encourages devotees to fight dirty and sow chaos if it gives them the upper hand. She follows these guidelines as well and is actively searching for an opportunity to gain more divine power by preying on other minor gods.4
Besmara originated as a water spirit who could manipulate monstrous sea creatures, her power grew over centuries as seafarers made sacrifices in her name. Eventually, she warred with and absorbed opposed spirits of battle, gold, and wood to ascend to the status of minor deity.4
Besmara is traditionally depicted as a woman wearing a pirate's costume, with loose-fitting clothes, distinctive black boots, and perpetually wind-blown hair.4
Among her more well-known planar allies are:5
Church of Besmara
Besmara's followers can most commonly found in Garund, particularly on the island of Ilizmagorti and the Shackles.6 Most of Besmara's devotees are people whose livelihood relies on piracy, either directly or indirectly. Both pirates and privateers are counted among her faithful, but followers of other faiths will also offer prayers to Besmara for good luck at sea.4
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Appendices” in Campaign Setting, 246. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Chapter 3: Religion” in Campaign Setting, 170–171. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “High Seas” in World Guide, 65. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Gods of the Inner Sea” in Gods & Magic, 55. Paizo Inc., 2020 .
- “Besmara” in The Wormwood Mutiny, 73. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- Inner Sea Gods, 176. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- “People of the Impossible Lands” in Impossible Lands, 41. Paizo Inc., 2022 .
- “Besmara” in The Wormwood Mutiny, 72. Paizo Inc., 2012 .