Desna (DEZ-nuh) is an impulsive and aloof goddess who
delights in freedom, discovery, and mystery. Her aloofness
stems not from arrogance, but from confidence in her own
abilities and her desire to be unburdened by troubles. She is a collection of contrasts—an ancient goddess who
dislikes predicting the future, a traveler who cares nothing for her destination, a carefree creature of instinct haunted
by a past stretching back eons, and a peaceful deity forced to battle with old enemies, eternally young despite the weight
of ages and stars upon her.
Some believe Desna is flighty, frivolous, and easily distracted, but she has a hard, cold side that few see, born of loss,
tragedy, and battle. As a luck goddess, she always believes there is a chance for success. She knows that people fear the
unknown, that dreams can turn to nightmares and a bright destiny can become a dark fate; these opposites in her own nature
define her and give her things to strive against. She challenges those who would corrupt her domain or who have wronged her
friends or followers, striking at them with burning starlight, bad luck, and energies alien to Golarion.
Although her dominion over dreams and stars means that many
seers, diviners, and mystics revere her as an informal goddess of prophecy, she delights in the freedom of people to choose
their own destiny and only uses her power to help others make good choices, avoid troublesome outcomes, and achieve happiness.
She believes that doom and gloom; prophecies or those that seem to guarantee or self-fulfill horrible acts are distasteful,
and she only hands out such messages in the direst circumstances. She prefers to use prophecy as a tool for exploration and
creating choices, not for limiting action and snuffing hope.
Primarily interested in travel for its own benefit, Desna
watches over those who sojourn for any reason. Trailblazers, scouts, adventurers, and sailors all praise her name. (Although
most sailors revere Gozreh, he is a temperamental deity and a little luck from Desna often comes in handy during a storm.)
Her influence over luck makes her a favorite among gamblers, thieves, and others who rely on fortune for shady dealings.
Desna teaches her followers to indulge their desires, experi-ence all they can, and trust instinct as a guide. Her followers
are often wide-eyed, exuberant people, embracing the world in all its strangeness, and willing to jump in with both feet.
Desnans aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, their feet wet, or their knuckles (or faces) bloodied while living
life to its fullest. Critics call them hedonists, but that is an exaggeration, as worldly experience, rather than pure sensation,
is their true goal. Ascetics, hermits, and meticulous planners are unknown in her church. Her faithful teach it is better
to ask forgiveness than permission, as sometimes a unique opportunity requires a split-second decision, whether
to touch a dragon's egg, savor a rare fruit, or assionately kiss the mayor's daughter.
Desna encourages her worshipers to believe in themselves
and express their inner strengths, often in the form of music, dance, or theater. Many songs penned by her faithful become
popular tunes for dancing and gatherings, and several old favorites; are attributed to long-dead Desnan bards, their musical
legacies persisting for centuries. Many believe that the custom of a traveling bard paying for his lodging with a song stems
from Desna’s church and, like bards, wandering followers of Desna encourage young folk to sing and dance in the
hopes of discovering hidden talents.
When the goddess has a message for one of her faithful,
she prefers to intervene in the form of dreams, sending simple impressions, visions, or even prophecies that the sleeper
clearly remembers upon awakening. If a member of her faith is in duress and prays to her before sleeping, she might send them
encouraging dreams. In the most dire circumstances, or situations in which Desna takes a direct interest, a follower in need
might awaken with the benefit of a helpful spell (such as aid, magic vestment, prayer, protection from evil, or remove fear)that
persists throughout the day. When dreams are unsuitable or time is short she indicates her favor with flights of swallow-tail
butterflies, sparrows, dragonflies, geese flying in a four-
pointed star shape, or the timely arrival of messenger birds.
She typically shows her disfavor with a dreamless sleep that fails to refresh the sleeper (as if the person had not slept
at all), sore feet, messenger animals losing their messages, and minor travel accidents.
When Desna manifests an avatar in the mortal world, she
normally takes the appearance of a beautiful but coy female
elven acolyte of her faith. In this guise she aids people in need or suggests relevant excerpts from her holy writings,
the Seven Scrolls, as a way to lead the faithful on the correct path. She is not above singing to lighten dour moods or dancing
with those in need to reinvigorate their confidence. When Desna wishes to reveal her true nature, she transforms her common
clothing into a billowing silken gown and grows brightly colored butter-fly wings on her back, although in somber situations
her wing colors are pale and moth-like.
Desna is chaotic good, and her portfolio is dreams, stars,
travelers, and luck. Her domains are Chaos, Good, Liberation, Luck, and Travel, and her favored weapon is the starknife.
Her holy symbol is a butterfly with images of stars, suns, and moons upon its wings. Most of her clergy are clerics, although
about one-third of her priests are bards or rogues, with a number of neutral good druids or rangers choosing her as their
patron. She is called the Song of the Spheres, the Great Dreamer, Starsong, and the Tender of Dreams.