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I'd say so. In fact, in a similar but TOTALLY opposite angle to this, I put in a snippet into Inner Sea Gods about how the archedevils are often revered as secondary divinities among Asmodeus's faith. While polytheism is a different thing in Golarion (see Player Companion: Faiths & Philosophies) there's nothing wrong with occasionally saying a prayer or asking for a blessing from another deity your god is allied with.
Some regions of Golarion have advocates in the Paizo office. Is there a specific advocate for Arcadia, Sarusan or Vudra yet?
There are for some. Adam Daigle is working on some Arcadia love and, along with Patrick Renie, have some very cool ideas.
Sarusan, doesn't have a ton of love yet (or its advocates are being relatively quiet).
In house, I've probably read the most Indian mythology and have slipped quite a bit into our world, but I can't say it's on my top 3 list of side projects. (Maybe top 10, though.) I do have rough map of the place in my notebook, though. (No, I'm not sharing.) Really, though, the person who's probably thought the most about it is Jeff Erwin from right here on the boards. If you're looking for opinions about Vudra well informed by the real world, definitely hit him up!
Jumping ahead a bit...
doc the grey wrote:
Hey just wanted to pull these back up and see if I could get some info on either of these topics.
1. I really don't believe sexuality is a big thing for immortal embodiments of ideals, especially those with infinitely mutable forms. By and large, I'd go so far as saying that the vast majority of outsiders that are still even interested in the sticky fumblings of sexual encounters are probably bisexual. These types of creatures aren't born in the traditional sense, so there's really no reason for them to even have genitals, breasts, belly buttons, etc (or if we really got into it and looked beyond the game rules, there's not a lot of reason outsiders would even need to breathe, eat, excrete, etc—why would your outer planes even need suns or air, except to comfort newly arrived souls with minds locked into a single understanding).
So I'm not trying to be evasive, but I really don't think sexuality is a big deal for most devils or outsiders.
Or, if that doesn't satisfy, then consider them largely uninterested in sex (expect where noted otherwise), but could be swayed by charming paragons of either gender.
2. Good news! Crocell is straight out of the Goetia, so there's more about him in real world demonology than just what's been said in Princes of Darkness. So if you're looking for more inspiration for him, I'd start there.
For my part, I always imagined Crocell as being tied into mysterious bodies of water, like underground lakes, cenotes, hidden oases, blue holes, hot springs, natural fountains, wells, and the creepy ancient watery graves they found in Mexico. He's big into illusions and language, so I could see him hiding secrets or ancient knowledge in bodies of water, underwater visions, and mist. I think he'd be very into liquid hallucinogenic drugs. I could see his followers being seers, desert dwellers, jungle dwellers, and spear fishers—because I bet he LOVES poisonous fish that can cause hallucinations. I could also see him having some presence in a big city sewer, like a weird sewer seer that sits amid a pristine pool amid a river of sludge and offers visions and dreamlike respite to those who drink from his (poison) font. But yeah, I think his followers could easily be centered around an individual seer—the one who proclaims to see clearly—with followers who ascribe to his mysteries, seek his guidance, are addicted to his tainted waters, or who hunt creatures of the deep to collect their wisdom. I bet this guy LOVES whales and dolphins, especially eating their brains and stealing what they know.
That's the 3 minute stream of consciousness tirade I've got on Crocell at the moment. Hope that helps!
Okay, jumping this in line since AlgaeNymph referenced it on Aug 1 (good gawd I'm behind, oofda).
1. No place in particular, just my brain. Empyreal Lords in general were born during my time working on Dragon, particularly when I was doing the editing on James's Demonomicon series. They were awesome, I love D&D's demon lords, but they always felt limited to just the GM half of our audience. These were massive, super cool articles that players were likely never going to see or be able to use. So it got me thinking, "We should have Demon Lords for good guys."
When we got to Pathfinder, we had a whole world that needed populating. Especially in those early days we were starved for proper nouns, so pretty much anything we dropped in articles could be made to work. That's why in the first few volumes of Pathfinder AP you'll find a few things that didn't take (locations that never manifested on the world map [or have yet to], characters who never took shape). So in my Magnimar article in Pathfinder #2 I put down my marker on the whole Empyreal Lord concept.
Page 59: "Assemblies devoted to the empyreal lords Soralyn, Ashava the True Spark, and the Horseman of War are all known to gather in the city.""
You can see even from there that not everything took. My original idea for the Four Horsemen was that they'd be good-aligned destroyers, but through a series of philosophical conversations and rigid interpretations of the game's alignment system we chose another path. But the overall idea stuck, so I defined these guys more in the Inner Sea World Guide, and then we were off to the races from there!
2. Complained, no, but it was pointed out by Renee Knipe, a friend who spoke on last year's Queer as a Three-Sided Die seminar at Gen Con. Not being transgender, my vantage on that world is limited. Renee read the section on Arshea in advance of Chronicle of the Righteous's publication (hence her Special Thanks credit in that book) and pointed out "Hey, this is cool, but you know this doesn't have to be all about sexy times." To which I was like "OH! DUH! Of course!" The ship had kind of sailed with Arshea since she'd been set on that course since the inn, but that discussion was certainly a "DUH" moment for me and has revised our paths with some transgender content since then.
3. As a goddess of sexuality, I think she mostly just wants people to share and enjoy that in a positive way.
4. I sure would. But for me, suboptimal characters are the most interesting. We're all suboptimal after all. ;)
5. Well sex is only one-third of Arshea's portfolio, along with freedom and physical beauty. I think I might have talked about this upstream a bit, but I could see her worshipers working at or putting together gymnasiums, spas, shelters, contests, and what not. As for what they do at their meetings, meditation, physical competitions, therapy, discussions on improving/loving your self/body, etc all sound strong. I would not think of these meetings in the modern Christian sense, with congregations assembling to listen to sermons. Maybe look into how real world mystery cults worked for some more ideas.
6. "R" and "Shey" (rhyming with "fey").
Late to the party here, but I'm glad folks are digging B4 so much! It's not a big secret to most folks here that I start the lists for our bestiaries from the huge collection of links and notes I'm constantly putting together on cool monsters from myth, folklore, urban legends, film, literature, video games, comics, wherever. I'm a big fan of monsters with a pedigree.
While a bunch of these are pick-ups from other Pathfinder products featuring cool and creatively unique inhabitants of Golarion (brethedan, gallowdead, incutilis), and others are evolutions of existing trains of thought (dark whatevers, soulbounds), I'll give away 10 more of my sources for the guys on Gancanagh's awesome lists.
Bestiary 4: Apocalypse Locust (??) / Astral Leviathan / Boilborn / Brethedan / All Clockworks / Flesh Colossus / Contemplative / Dark Caller / Dark Dancer / Drowning Devil / Nemesis Devil / Dorvae / Outer Dragons / All Drakes / Elohim / Vildeis (??) / Festering Spirit / Fleshdreg / All Fleshwarps / Freezing Flow / Gallowdead / Galvo / Gathlain / Gearghost / Geist (??) / Gholdako / Cliff Giant / River Giant / Slag Giant / All Golems / Grimple / Guardian Dragon / Hungry Flesh (??) / Incutilis / Kasatha / Both Kytons / Leaf Ray / Living Topiary / Living Wall (??) / Lunarma (??) / Mindslaver Mold / Mudlord / Nagaji / Necrocraft (??) / Nycar / Oma / Owb / Yamaraj / Rukh (??) / Saguaroi / Killer Seahorse / Seaweed Siren (??) / Shard Slag / Shobhad / Shredskin / Shriezyx / Shulsaga / Skinstitch / Soulbound Manequin / Soulbound Shell / Soulsliver / Tiberolith / Trox (??) / Tyrant Jelly / Emperor Walrus / Warsworn (??) / Weedwhip / Wikkawak / Wyrwood / Wyvaran
Clockwork Steed: The idea is basic, but is in here because of Vampire Hunter D's awesome cyborg horse.
Dorvae: My original list had these guys as Dirae, the Roman furies. A combination of bizzare but cool art and a pagination issue meant that they got renamed and moved. Sometimes that happens (sometimes both things happen), and a new monster gets invented. Necessity truly is the mother of invention.
Geist: This is just a poltergeist with the "polter" taken off. So "ghost" or "spirit" and German. Our translators in Deutschland are going to LOVE us for this.
Kytons: Barker, Hellraiser, Tortured Souls couldn't be more apparent in these guys. You'll also note the kytons I write are always named after ecclesiastical positions.
Living Wall: Final Fantasy.
Rukh: Variant spelling of Roc with a Ray Harryhausen spin.
Saguaroi: Cactus people with a name that comes from the saguaro cactus.
Skinsitch: Inspired by the Deadly Toys from Castlevania: Lord of Shadows and Leatherface... together... at the same time.
Yamaraj: From the Hindu yamaraja.
There's a few more on there, but for now I'll let you guys work them out. ;)
Wes, James Sutter was saying you wanted more Monsters. My supplement, the Manual of Aurania, written way back in 1977, has a number of weird monsters. Paizo is welcome to mine it, without charge of any kind. (Altho a mention of the source would be nice).
Cool man, kick me an e-mail at email@example.com sometime. I'd love to take a look!
Yay! I was going to quit and totally go full-on Victorian romance, but since you asked for it, I'll stick with horror. :D
How about this for starters: Every hour for all of Halloween I'll post one link to something horrifying on my Twitter account: @FWesSchneider.
In fact, as of posting this, the twelfth one might have just gone up.
Enjoy and Happy Halloween!!! :D
I have a near complete Ravenloft collection, but not this! So it will receive a place of honor.
Thanks a ton man!
What about the Pathfinder Journal for Carrion Crown? (AP's 43-48) I'm playing so haven't read them myself to be sure.
It's called Guilty Blood. I remember quite liking it at the time, but can't recall for the life of me who wrote it.
And Sutter, tell whoever's writing that next Ustalav story to get her/his ass in gear!
Tom Benton wrote:
hi Wes - I'm looking forward to listening to your Lovecraft discussion on Know Direction. In the meantime: Necropants!
Awesome man! For folks who haven't seen, you can check out my discussion with the 3.5 Private Sanctuary podcast on Lovecraftian horror in two distinct flavors:
Private Sanctuary: Lovecraftian Horror (Audio)
Private Sanctuary: 2013 Lovecraftian Horror (Video)
If you want more talk about horror in Pathfinder and RPGs in general, check out these too:
Paizocon 2013: Horror in RPGs (Know Direction, Audio)
Paizocon 2013: Horror in RPGs (YouTube, Video with Notes)
Private Sanctuary: 2012 Horror Podcast
(You can also check out my notes and links that go along with the discussion on my personal site here)
As for the pants: That's horriblawesome! I am now subscribed to this blog.
I see your Necropants and raise you a Cthulhu Tiki Mug (as seen the Lovecraft discussion above).
Congratulations: Your holiday shopping is now done. :D
Lord Snow wrote:
Glad to see so much love for the kytons. The ostairus is a very recent pick up from Shattered Star #64: Beyond the Doomsday Door (if you didn't see the page of kyton philosophy and propaganda in there, you are missing out!). The sacristan is something entirely new... kind of a bruiser... with a portal to the Plane of Shadow locked in his fused shut mouth. So pretty humdrum as kytons go. ;P
Distant Scholar wrote:
Who knows, maybe we'll do Misfit Monsters Redeemed II someday but for now...
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
As promised, my talk with the Private Sanctuary podcast on H.P. Lovecraft, Lovecraftian horror, and horror in Pathfinder is up now.
while the video is up here (including glimpses of Bestiary 4, my office, my awesome Cthulhu tiki mug, Ryan's insane G.I. Joe collection, and lots of talking with my hands!). :D
First off, I'm going to drop a few links (or re-links), since this is something I've talked about extensively over the past couple of years:
Now that the billboard is out of the way, forewarning that I've put a few footnotes at the bottom of this lengthy post, so if you see numbers in the text they're referring to whats at the end.
Beyond aesthetic, beyond tips for making a game creepy, beyond rules that enhance scary storytelling, a lot of what we're talking about here comes down to character agency and consequences: on what level can characters influence a story and what sorts of ramifications are there to characters’ decisions.
In the Pathfinder RPG and games like it, characters are typically either driving factors in the narrative and are empowered to control or overcome the challenges they face. Characters are often referred to as heroes in these games, not just because they're typically good guys but because it's largely assumed they're going to win. At a core level, the Pathfinder RPG wants the characters to win and ultimately characters are more powerful (or will have the opportunity to become more powerful) than the challenges they'll face.
In many games designed to be horror games—Dread, Call of Cthulhu, Shadows of Esteren—the characters have less control, they're more often pawns or victims of the plot and the challenges are greater. Characters usually aren't thought of as heroes in these games—aside from it being a bit out of step with the game's aesthetics, does anyone really think of their Call of Cthulhu investigators as heroes? There's typically the up-front acknowledgement that a character is likely going to die—or go insane or worse—and their victory is not assumed. In many of these games—like in many horror films—a character is at her strongest and most capable at the beginning of the narrative and things go downhill from there.
The other angle here pertains to consequences.
In Pathfinder and games like it, there are really relatively few hard, statistical threats to characters. Lose a hit point? You'll get it back. Lose a level? You'll get it back. Lose a weapon? You'll get/buy another. Die? You'll be resurrected. More characters survive Pathfinder games than those who don’t—in fact, most come out on the other side of an adventure stronger than when they started. While characters decisions may affect the details of the narrative, the game is hardwired to statistically improve characters.
In games designed to be horror games, the consequences are a bit more obvious: you go insane, you die, you fail, you are not promised marked improvement. These consequences are often either set in stone or prove difficult to mitigate. So if you die, that's it. If you go insane, you have to deal with it—you're probably not getting better. If you drop your holy sword in the lava, you shouldn’t expect to get it back. Consequences have permanency and weight that your character might eventually collapse under.
I do not believe there is any combination of written rules or dice roles that make a game system intrinsically scarier than any other (1), rules don’t prescribe narrative. You could just as easily use the Call of Cthulhu rules to play a procedural crime drama as you could a horror story. You can just easily file the serial numbers off the Pathfinder RPG and run games of other types and genres (2). Certain options might be more robust in certain systems, but a game’s mechanics and thematics are distinctive pieces.
So if you wanted to run Pathfinder as a horror game, you have to ask what you really want, Pathfinder with a horror aesthetic or Pathfinder tweaked to adopt the conventions of a horror game.
If you just want to make you're Pathfinder game creepy, there's tons that you can do—use scary monsters, limit humor and distractions, lose the miniatures and grid maps, use music, etc, etc, etc (3). The game remains Pathfinder, but you're essentially tricking the players into thinking the game has fundamentally changed with an increased focus on showmanship and ambiance. It's cool and really fun, but the fundamental rules of the game and your social contract with the players has not actually been altered.
If you want to make Pathfinder a true horror game, the social contract with your players has to change (4). The characters' agency has likely shifted from that assumed in a normal Pathfinder game to something more akin to that of a horror RPG, where challenges might outstrip the character's abilities, some penalties might be particularly dire or arbitrary, and survival/victory is not assured (5). Once everyone's on board with playing a horror game, it’s easy to tweak the rules to support this type of game. For example: take resurrection and all related spells out of the game (death becomes more final); make it more difficult to effectively rest and replenish abilities (resources become scarcer); increase the CRs of encounters to be more equal to (or higher than) the PCs' level (closer/more taxing combats); increase scarcity of certain abilities/items/magic or impose ramifications to their use (limitations and danger reduces fire-and-forget effects), etc. Most of the rules remain Pathfinder, but suddenly actions have more lasting effects, the danger level has increased, resources have to more closely rationed, and the question of whether or not something is the right choice at the right time becomes much more meaningful. Layer some common horror storytelling techniques on top of this and you've cribbed yourself a horror game.
Currently, all official Pathfinder RPG products considered horror themed play with creepy elements entirely on the grounds of narrative and aesthetics. The stories might be creepier, the descriptions more lurid, the subsystems engaging more unsettling material (insanity, haunts, curses, etc), but the challenges are not designed to be any more dangerous, the characters face no change in potency, and the game remains 100% Pathfinder.
So, if you're looking to run a particularly creepy game of Pathfinder, there's tons of awesome suggestions in this thread and elsewhere to hook you up with the right adventure or help give your game a spookier vibe. But if you're looking to fundamentally change your Pathfinder game to make it play more like a horror game, think about some of these suggestions and other minor tweaks you might make to adjust the characters' control over your game's narrative and the dire reality of their consequences.
1 Let me call out and use Dread as an example real quick. There is nothing about using a Jenga tower as that game's method of resolving challenges that makes it fundamentally a horror game—you could just as easily tell a sci-fi or fantasy story with no horror elements with the Jenga tower replacing dice. The tension that the Jenga "mini-game" brings with it, however, and the "BOO!" of a collapsing tower hitting the table makes the system FANTASTICALLY effective in helping to tell a horror story. But Jenga itself is not marketed as a horror game. When overlaid with the veneer of a scary story, though, there's a potent connection.
2 For example, I ran a sci-fi game set in the Mass Effect universe earlier this year using 100% Pathfinder rules. There's a ton of details under the Mass Effect tag on my Erratic Episodes site here if you’re interested in seeing how it worked and even downloading that horror-themed adventure.
3 I and others talk about methods of this at length in several of the links above.
4 By the by, this is NOT something that a GM just gets to do. If your players come to the table expecting to play Pathfinder and you've house-ruled it into a horror game, expect them to be jarred. It's important for the players and GM to be on the same page about what type of game is being played. Lack of clarity in this regard can easily result in misconceptions, arguments, hurt feelings, and failed games. Always be talking to your players!
5 Why play a game the PCs can't win? Why watch a horror movie where the protagonists might not survive? The focus is on the danger, the challenge, the struggle, and the story. GMs in horror RPGs face a greater challenge than in games like Pathfinder in avoiding coming across as antagonists. When elements of the story end up being brutally unfair or crippling to an individual player, this can’t be a surprise. The GM has to have been upfront that such things could happen during the game and that such is to be expected, not personal, and is part of the fun. The GM remains in the position of being responsible for making sure that even a hamstrung player continues to have a good time—which can sometimes be challenging. Players who enjoy roleplaying the facets of insanity, the curse that turns them into a zombie, the challenges of a paraplegic, might really enjoy being afflicted with such developments, but some players might consider it unfair and have their enjoyment of the game severely impacted. As always, it's important to know your players and what they want out of a game, and to be clear about the type of game you're running.
To start, Bestiary 4. But there's something else coming down the road that I expect will have some more Golarion-centric details. For now: patience. ;)
doc the grey wrote:
This may be more a question for James Jacobs but here it goes. Considering that Aeons are like the white blood cells of the multiverse; keeping it all running and in balance, how do you think they feel about qlipppoth? Considering that many believe them to be older than or even from beyond the multiverse wouldn't they have a relationship akin to an invading virus or infection vs. the aeon immune system? Also what about the elder gods or other Cthulhuian entities considering that many are at least older then this material plane and survive it's apocalypses and recreations?
About the qlippoth? Aeons would not get on well with them, but so long as they keep to their crevices—so long as their benign viruses—they're not worth the expenditure of time and energy to wipe out. That said, qlippoth are not about keeping quiet. While one or two creeping out to do evil isn't worth their notice, mass uprisings are a problem. Fortunately, when it comes to qlippoth, demons do most of the aeons jobs for them, as the demons are even more interested in keeping the qlippoth down—and certainly from overrunning the Abyss—than the aeons are.
As for Great Old Ones, they're also not a huge problem. The drift around in the Material Plane and are relatively small in number. So long as none get too disruptive of the greater planar structure, they don't have a reason to strike en masse.
Overall, the aeons are interested in the foundations of the multiverse and the structure of that vast body. A termite in your home, you don't notice; 10, you've got bigger problems; even 100, there are probably bigger issues. A thousand? Termites dropping into your soup? Things that you can't ignore they can't ignore either.
This makes it great for big plots though, because that way you and your PCs know that when an aeon shows up the whole multiverse is paying attention—and that's a big deal.
Pipe kitsune are Japanese. I learned about them from XXXHOLIC years ago.
Ha! YUP! Awesome. That was definitely the first place I saw them as well and a HUGE reason I put them on the initial hit list for Bestiary 4. :D
If you're really digging on pipefoxes, let me suggest going to Google image search and typing the following "pipefox etsy."
Also, it's worth noting that the pipefox comprises the far less @#$&ed-up half of my favorite spread in Bestiary 4. So just wait and see the creepy "P" monster he's sharing a bunk with. ;)
Cori Marie wrote:
If you wanted to do this, you've got a few options. Shutting down Shub-Niggurath is a pretty major deal (and who knows what mythic taint might leak into the world). The weird powers in Schloss Caromarc could infect the PCs with something, as could the Palatine Eye's secret relics or something at the Stairs of the Moon. Adorack is pretty much a mythic location already, and defeating Marrowgarth or, prior to there, the Gray Friar, could both trigger new tiers. The relic Raven's Head could also release some pent up Pharasmin power.
So there's a few options.
You can DEFINITELY add mythic to your Carrion Crown game, but go into it aware that it's likely going to make your campaign less of a horror game and more of a high powered, "super heroes"-like game. I'm not saying mythic obliterates moodiness, but... well... what does Superman have to be afraid of?
Cori Marie wrote:
2) I'm definitely adding in other encounters as well, like the two AP add-ins that Legendary Games did and Carrion Hill. However I'm a little bit writer blocked when it comes to addressing the lesser seals. a) Could you tell me where they are? b) How would you address their getting broken?
We've touched on one of the lesser seals in Pathfinder Module: Hungry are the Dead, so that's done for ya. :)
Ultimately, though, whatever you decide to do, I promise that no one from Paizo is going to come to your house and tell you you're wrong if you move them to more convenient spots. Like all around Ustalav and the surrounding areas. There's also a ton of great options for that:
The Spiral Cromlech in Lepidstadt could be a good place for one. So could Kalexcourt (the CR 19 Charnel Colossus from [the ENnies Award Winning] Inner Sea Bestiary even lives there, and he'd make a fine mythic challenge). My termagant kyton from that same book could also make a fine protector for another one, say in the Chapel of Guilts in Barstoi? The Cenotaph, right outside Canterwall, is detailed in Mythic Realms and is even tied into Tar-Baphon. Demons Revisited also gives stats for Kalestrua, the CR 21 mistress of Casnoriva in Virlych if you wanted to go there. I wrote up Dragons Unleashed's cover girl, Serzilian, as a CR 19 menace who lives in Baallalota, deep in the Graidmere Swamp, so she also could make a great seal guardian.
So pleanty of options here, again proving that there's no campaign problem that can't be solved if you throw enough books at it. ;)
Cori Marie wrote:
3) Lastly I just wanted to say thanks for the Gallowspire article in Dungeons of Golarion, as I've spent downtime at work the past few weeks drawing the levels and such. I finished drawing out the Silent Shrine today, and have the main chamber in the shape of the Tyrant's head.
That's awesome! So, so glad you're digging it!
Think of it as being Interview with the Vampire, with scattered Draculas. There are multiple very powerful vampires in Ustalav: the nosferatu Galdyce; the Whispering Tyrant's general, Malyas; Conte Tiriac, and—the most active—Luvick Siervage. Siervage is by far the most active, and has established a vampiric society that stems from Caliphas and reaches to all the major cultural centers of Ustalav to some degree. In Caliphas he's established a working relationship with certain other power players there—a topic that will be explored in an upcoming product. As such, Ustalav's vampires tend to either be lesser vampires who bow to Siervage's mandates on subtlety, or more powerful beings that eschew the greater vampire society and live on their own. This doesn't jeopardize Siervage and his ilk, as individual vampires are just that: individuals, lone monsters to be dealt with if the larger human society reveals them. It's the vampire culture that dwells beneath Caliphas and in the shadows of other cities that Siervage seeks to protect... but again, that's something for later.
To revisit this:
Wes, have you listened to Welcome to Night Vale?
Yes and it's AMAZING!
I am gradually catching up while infecting the rest of the office.
If you're not listening to this, you are missing out on something you would very much enjoy.
Why do you think you don't deserve to enjoy things?
Alexander Augunas wrote:
I totally missed this and advocate we revisit it to give it the consideration it deserves.
I dare you to find a jackalope in one of our products--even a mention.
(I equally dare you to find mention of CR in any myth.) :P
That said, small and deadly, not something you're going to want for after getting your hands on B4. ;)
(Edit: Hold on, Aurumvoraxes are CR 9! High CR indeed.)
Alexander Augunas wrote:
If Paizo had a Male Swimsuit Calender, what would your month be and what would you be doing in your picture? (You have to be in the calender because Editor-in-Chief ;-P)
December, and probably playing Super Mario Bros. 3--just like I did after many a pool trip growing up. :P
Moving right along.
Steve Geddes wrote:
Hate you guys... :P
*underlines this project on THE LIST*
Is Ustalav missing a county?
So far I've only talked about 15 of them, and Rule of Fear only touches on 15 (see page 9).
I've kept my options open on that last one so far, because there's a few different stories and family backgrounds here that I'd still like to explore (or would like to keep my options open on).
As each of the 16 counties was a land granted to one of Soividia Ustav's generals, each county also equates to one of the nation's 16 original ruling families. Each county name or original name is (generally) derived from the historic name of one of those ruling families. We can see this in the modern country with the similarities in name between Odranto county and the Ordranti family and Caliphas county and the Caliphvaso family.
If someone forced me to pin down something right now, I'd likely do one of two things. Either, I'd chalk out a region of Canterwall and Lozeri as a traditional county that became defunct during the creation of the Palatinates, or I'd mark off a region larger than the Furrows in that region to reenforce that area's formerly contested nature.
But neither of those is quite the story I want to tell with the sixteenth family. So if you need something right now, feel free to run with one of those. But if you want the full story, that's something that I'm keeping in my back pocket for a while longer. (Though may have dropped hits at in Rule of Fear and Carrion Crown.) ;)
I spent my vacation earlier in the year playing this, particularly with the Game of Throne mod. While I didn't know about the game when I was writing Rule of Fear, it's definitely up my alley and the sort of game I enjoy. (I even took a few pictures of my play through and put them up on my Tumblr.)
I've got loose notes on the family trees of many of Ustalav's major nobles, as that's such an important part of having a realistic nobility. These were going to go into Rule of Fear at some point, but had to be dropped. I'll find an outlet for them at some point down the road though!
Everything Trinite said.
Spot on, man! You've totally preempted me on this, so I don't have much more to say than "+1" and "We can be buds." :D
Similarly in Ustalav. The Prince is a member of the Ordranti family, which has ruled for a long time and has a lot of personal holdings. So he'd be rich and powerful even if none of the counts paid him any taxes directly. What he has instead is the prestige of rulership, and legal authority to command their obedience. What this means it that it's usually in the Counts' best interests to pay the Prince and support him, or else he might throw his influence against them. That could mean anything from withholding any money that they might request from the royal treasury, undermining their families' marriage prospects, or even revoking their title and declaring them to be rebels. But of course any of these actions could have repercussions with the other Counts, and the Prince would have to be careful not to lose their support.
Again, yup yup. It's no accident that Prince Ordranti and Odranto have similar names. The prince's family still has holdings in that county, likely with greater prominence near the boarder with Lost Sarkoris and around Ardagh given both the prince's militaristic background and Ardagh's position as the county seat, but also stretching to Castle Odranto since it bears the old version of their name.
A note on names: The family name is "Ordranti," the county's name is "Odranto." Odranto was the original family name of one of Soividia Ustav's generals, who became the patron of one of Ustalav's first 16 noble families. In the more than 2,000 years since the nation's founding the name has shifted in spelling and pronunciation--likely about 3843 when Andredos Ordranti began the Ordranti ruling dynasty. The spelling has a more cosmopolitan, Chelish flair, which is something many Ustalavic nobles either covet or pride themselves on--despite being in a region that's realitively savage in comparison to the nations bordering the Inner Sea. (This is also seen in the ruler of Varno's adoption of the title "Conte" rather than the traditional "Count.")
(To take it one step further, it's also no accident that Prince Ordranti, Odranto, and the The Castle of Otranto have similar names.)
Also, as one last element, at least a faction of the military in the capital is foresworn to the prince, not the countess. So there might be a slight hostage overture here, with the prince having troops in the countess's seat of power, which is also heavily fortified and has the nation's largest and strongest port. If the prince needed to hold out against troops raised by the countess (likely using her family estate, Chateau Douleurs, as a power center), he likely could for some time until reenforced by allies local or abroad.
Did Seryzilian get hit by a gender-changing curse between the two incarnations (Dragons Unleashed vs. Dragons Revisited)?
Don't know that I'd call it a curse, but her gender sure did change. But if you take a look at her stats and story between the two versions, you'll see that's probably the least of the differences.
If there's going to be a dragon in my nation, it's going to be presented MY way. };)
What are Nisps and Swaithes?
I'm jumping ahead here because I really want to see Dragon78's head explode. :)
So check this out man. If you EVER need a monster name, it turns out that Denham Tracts probably has you covered. Check out the page on them and Denham's infamous list of spirits and faeries. We've name dropped quite a few creatures off this list and fully stated up even more. It's one of my go-to mines for new monster ideas that straddle that line between mythological and totally open territory.
Check it out! And totally let me know which ones you think sound coolest!
Hitting on the other details of AlgaeNymph's question:
So I hit on that just a bit upstream here.
2. Given that he's both transgender and sexualized, has anyone complained about him perpetuating stereotypes or somesuch?
Not that I've noticed, but certainly anyone who is looking to Arshea for a non-sexualized example of a transgender character will be disappointed, as she's certainly not that. Arshea's liberated view of gender roles comes from a view of sexuality that's divorced from having a single gender. That's part of her personality and divine portfolio, gender just isn't a big thing for her personally and she doesn't feel like it has to be a major thing for her worshipers. Thus she encourages her worshipers to aspire to their vision of physical beauty and choose whatever course is right for them in the pursuit of being most comfortable in their lives and their forms. As much as she is a goddess of sexuality, she's also a goddess of physical beauty and freedom, and while these aspects overlap in certain regards they can also stand alone. Just as being transgender isn't all about sexuality for many transgender people it doesn't need to be entirely about that for Arshea, as she's also so concerned in people feeling free and beautiful. You could divorce yourself from the sexual aspects of her faith entirely and still rest assured that she'd be an advocate for your pursuit of the perfect you.
But all that aside, Arshea is far from our only transgender character in the Pathfinder Campaign Setting. If you're looking for transgender characters whose sexualities aren't major facotrs of their personalities or goals at all, I'd suggest checking out Gray Maiden Filario Grantsliem in Pathfinder AP #62, barbarian Lanani Shabu in the NPC Codex, Mirislova in Pathfinder AP #69, and Cesseer of Ning (gender neutral) in Pathfinder AP #70, just to name a few from the past year.
3. Since Ragathiel's celestial obedience means he wants people at the forefront of cosmic battles, what does Arshea's mean?
That you're engaging in, enjoying, and encouraging consensual sex, physical intimacy, and personal connections. That you're encouraging another person to be beautiful and praising them for how they're already beautiful. That you're not letting sexuality become just another rote habit or forgettable errand, you're keeping the mystery and spirituality in it. That you're experiencing or sharing freedom and an ecstatic experience.
These are all things Arshea thinks are good. They might not be as challenging as fighting embodiments of evil, but not all evils have fangs and claws. Boredom, disconnection, pain, depression, these are more subtle evils and are very worth being combated.
4. Given Arshea's obedience, would you allow any of his worshippers to take the hedonistic (Ultimate Campaign, p.65) drawback?
Totally. It's certainly not a great min-maxy choice, but it sure could make a fun character! :D
5. What exactly do Arshea mystery cults do? I'm guessing sex is a large part of it but Arshea seems activist from his description.
Certainly. Sexuality is only one part of Arshea's portfolio. The pursuit and maintaining of physical beauty likely leads to a great deal of physical training, so her followers might run and participate in gymnasiums, organized games, contests, spas, baths, and schools (you've got to know something to stay in peak shape), as a few examples. Freedom is also a very general idea, making them advocates against slavery, but also situations that enslave, like ignorance, poverty, social expectations, physical limitations, and depression, as a few examples. The latter three seem especially up her alley to me.
These are just off the cuff, but there are tons of ways you could take this. I hope this gives you just a few ideas.
6. Oh, and how is "Arshea" pronounced?
I say it "R-shey."
Oooh, I might be disappointing you here.
The idea was pretty basic: I thought we should have a deity that didn't think sex was a bad thing, but also wasn't all BDSM about it. Think Aphrodite for adventurers.
But then what gender do you make that deity? Well, everybody should want to make out with this deity. Being a deity she doesn't really have to worry about the limited nature of a static form, so she can swap back and forth however she pleases, so it just turns out that she favors both genders equally. As such, her faith typically depicts her as a beautiful androgynous figure. Gender's just not a big thing for her and she doesn't want love, physical or otherwise, to be tied to something as random as what chromosomes you were born with.
So that's the not too revolutionary idea.
As for more of the story behind Arshea, I've talked about the making of Chronicle of the Righteous at length on my personal site. If you get an opportunity, and want to see some of the really good buzz this has created, do check it out over on wesschneider.com.
And because you asked for meaty, here's something that I think would be right up the cult of Arshea's alley:
This elixir's magic functions instantaneously and cannot be dispelled, though drinking a second transgender elixir reverts the character back to the former gender and appearance. The elixir has no effect on characters of races with no gender. Characters of races with more than two genders may decide which gender this elixir transforms them into.
Additionally, here's the girdle of opposite gender revised as a normal magic item rather than a cursed item:
Cord of Opposite Gender
What do the damned remember of their mortal lives? Before it's completely ground out of them, anyways...
Not very much I figure. Traveling the River of Souls, waiting to be judged by Pharasma, and getting to your final resting place, this occurs over a lengthy period. Typically, characters called back via restorative spells or speak with dead are likely still queuing for their final judgement.
Those that pass full on... well...
We'd want them to have their memories of life for a while, that's part of what makes the reward or punishment so sweet or terrible. You want souls to get to Heaven and be reunited with their families, or get to Hell and realize the full horror of their punishment.
But there's a point, and it happens in a blink in the planes, that you've existed for far longer as a soul then you ever did as a mortal. Gradually, it's got to be like remembering your first steps or your earliest memories: they're vague, or you know them from what people told you, but gradually even they fade. Eventually it's all gone.
How long that takes, I suspect, varies from spirit to spirit, plane to plane, and whether or not a souls wants to forget. Some might hold onto glimpses of life for ages, while others might forget after years.
This is something that I think you want to be flexible with, as there are cool stories to be told either way, with souls have long memories or totally forgetting their lives.
Power Word Unzip wrote:
What, in your mind, makes a good kyton story for an adventure scenario? What elements should absolutely be in place to utilize such a being to its fullest extent (from a dramatic standpoint, not a mechanical one)?
Ever read the "Hellbound Heart?"
The thing I like the most about kytons is that their entire race wants to achieve perfection. This seems so basic, and at it's heart so pure an endeavor. You could walk up to anyone on the street and ask if they wanted to be their perfect selves and the majority would likely say "yes."
It's their view of perfection and their path to it that gets... twisted.
They legitimately do strive for physical/mental/sensational perfection, they want to be the ur-sensates, having the ur-experiences, but they willingly cast away anything to reach those experiences and often see any means as justifying the ends.
If you want to see how a kyton reasons and rationalized this to mortal, just check out the page of kyton rhetoric included with the eremite in Pathfinder #64.
As far as what I think makes a great kyton adventure: I love that kytons are lawful and will only give mortals what they ask for. They're civil but strident, they will be polite but they will also take what they have been promised. They are sympathetic of limited views and seek to free limited minds from them. That they're not conquerors, they're philosophers of experience and possibility and limited moral restrictions like taboos or morality mean nothing to their liberated sensibilities.
Think of them as doctors with a sick baby. The child is terrified, it knows there's some inscrutable being with a needle bound to hurt it. If that child needs a shot, though, and fate or more potent beings have brought the child to the doctor, it doesn't matter how much kicking and screaming it does. The doctor has a broader perspective and knowledge far greater than that of the child and will do it what must do. What is a moment's pain compared to all that's at risk, all that could be?
Alexander Augunas wrote:
]I'll just keep praying to Desna that Twilight vampires continue to never scream, "Awesome!" to the good folk at Paizo.
A little faith. Your prayers are better spent on more likely threats. Like all the world's air molecules spontaneously turning into VHS recordings of season 2 of Disney's Gummibears.