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I once met a grisette from Galt
I once met an Andoran, free--
A Taldan lass of noble blood
Or we could go with the Stork theory and no one actually ever has sex, or at least if they do it has nothing to do with procreation. Have you ever seen a pregnant character in Golarion, excepting Lamashtu, who's always pregnant?
And since She has dominion over animals, She could use the Stork as one of Her heralds, so every sentient being on Golarion, even little human paladins, was spawned by Lamashtu and delivered by Her Stork.
This theory also lets gay couples have children without resorting to additional magic or adoption.
Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
I for one miss the old Random Harlot Generator table and think removing it moves the wrong way. I'd rather just add in a Random Gigolo Generator beside it so you can see if you've found a Genial Gigolo, a Pampered Catamite, a Typical Rent Boy, or perhaps an Aging Roue looking to procure the services of someone on either table.
Well, Speak with Animals lets you speak with extremely stupid animals, like chickens, and hold rational conversations with them, and likewise Stone Tell lets you talk with rocks. But rather than assume you're just talking to the magic with it doing a combination of anthropomorphized artificial intelligence mixed with psychometric reading from the perspective of the tree, chicken, or rock, I just assume that we're living in a fairytale world where all of these things are somewhat intelligent and able to converse with those who've learned their language, whether via spell or some other means of communication.
Basically what we're talking here is animism.
Now as for the implications of this? Well, if a druid casts Stone Tell on a coprolite, it can say, "Oh, long ago I was a beautiful fern. I loved the sun. Then a dinosaur ate me and pooped me out. Later I was fossilized, now becoming the rock you're talking with. What? Oh, yes. Recently I've been part of the wall of the demon shrine. Not long. Only fifty years. Last week? Oh, yes, they sacrificed virgins."
This may be the magical version of TMI, but it happens. And animism is no worse from a lack-of-privacy standpoint than living in a universe where omniscient gods can and will watch you in the shower.
Now, as for eating the flesh of sentient creatures, if you take an animistic view, everything is sentient, so the only things you should probably eat are those things that want to be eaten like fruit since that's how they propagate their seeds. Mind you, you can still have a conversation with an apple, but it's not likely to mind the idea of being eaten so long as its seeds get planted.
Oh, IKEA is part of the end-of-the-world plot, but not like you're thinking. Remember that bit in Norse myth where the Aesir go to the giants' hall, and Thor is dared to lift up the sleeping cat, but all he can do is lift one of its paws--but that was still pretty impressive because the cat was actually an illusion over Jormungandr, the Midgard serpent? Well, it's the same way now, except instead of disguising Jormungandr as a cat, the giants just paint him blue and write IKEA on the side.
Now you know.
FWIW, I was just at the San Diego Comicon. I went to the gaming room and there were many tables of Pathfinder and even more tables of D&D in various editions-- 4e hiding behind smoked glasses (ie. being sponsored but not trumpeted), the D&D board game, and also many demos of D&D Next, both an introductory adventure and two further adventures.
I played the intro and the first adventure. Since we weren't required to sign any NDAs or swear any oaths of secrecy--which would be kind of useless anyway with the playtests being this public--I'll say, having played D&D editions 1-4 as well as Pathfinder, that D&D Next is basically 1st through 3rd with a few frills from 4e added on. Spells again look like actual spells. My wizard, while not having a familiar--still a problem--could at least cast illusions of whatever I wanted, as opposed 4e's annoying nonsense where illusions amounted to a pinch of meaningless descriptive blather cloaking a dumpy combat bonus and nothing more. My cleric had Command again which had a small list of popular commands but a mention that other commands were possible if the DM allowed them--so when attacked by the goblin with the pickaxe, I used command word "Flagellate." Everyone laughed, the DM allowed it, and the goblin took himself out.
I also played a Pathfinder demo game, deciding to see how the gunslinger worked--or didn't, as I managed to jam my gun five times in a row before giving up on it. And while Annie-Jam-Your-Gun was still the last woman standing in a TPK, it was a TPK. Having been in another such TPK at Paizocon--the module swiftly becoming "You die, she dies, everybody dies!"--the main generalization I can make is that it comes down to "throttle control" as one of the Venture captains put it, meaning that GMs/DMs/Storytellers/Etc. need to know how to pull back or double down so as to keep an exciting adventure going without everyone dying horribly. Also, bad dice happen. Rolling a 1 with my gun didn't help, and then going to the alchemical cartridges which loaded more quickly but jammed on a 1-5? Four more jams were not very thrilling. But it was a nice saving grace that I got a pull from the Harrow deck after the game and won the grand prize, that being another Core Rulebook. But I didn't win anything on the percentiles for the D&D prize table.
Which is a long way of saying that D&D Next, at least in its current incarnation, is a perfectly playable enjoyable game. So's Pathfinder. It also looks to be very little trouble to run a Pathfinder AP with D&D Next and presumably vice versa.
There's really no problem in having a scientific cornerstone like evolution in place even if there are things that violate it. It's like the world having gravity, another scientific cornerstone, which is usually obeyed except when it isn't.
Some things defy gravity because they're magic. Likewise, some things defy evolution because they're magic. So elves and humans evolved on different planets and shouldn't logically be able to interbreed despite convergent evolution to highly similar forms. Then you get Calistria, patroness of the elves, who's also a goddess of lust when she isn't doing trickery. If she wants love children with these hot human creatures with their exotic unpointed ears and mysterious round eyes? Okay, she violates evolution. Whatever.
I'm usually hanging out in the science fiction field. I'm used to being alongside female writers and female editors, or even being the only guy in my writer's group.
Then I go back to the gaming field and I find situations like this. Seriously? And proof of the ubiquity of the problem is that I hadn't even noticed 72 issues without a single woman on the byline.
This is long overdue.
Or the Morse-code-proficient druid could just crack snails on a rock while wearing the form of a thrush and skip using spells entirely.
The Ghost Sound cantrip is a folding together of the 1st ed Unearthed Arcana magic-user "Haunting-Sound Cantrips" (Creak, Footfall, Groan, Moan, Rattle, Tap, Thump & Whistle) and the superior illusionist Noise cantrip which reads much the same as the current Ghost Sound cantrip except that the clarifying words "illusory sound of whatever nature he or she desires, although it is indistinct and confusing" were dropped.
Following that precedent, I'd treat Ghost Sound the same way. Any speaking is confused gibberish, sounding close to words but never forming them. Singing, likewise, is like trying to make out the lyrics of "Louie Louie" or at best a bunch of "La la la la la la la" folderol. And while you can get the sound of squeaking rats, if the druid tried a Speak with Animals to understand what the rats were squeaking about, it would be as garbled as the human sounds.
The mix seems about right if you look at some other pantheons.
The Norse, for example, are a synthesis of the Aesir and the Vanir, with a few elves (Idunna) and giants (Loki) who married in or became blood brothers, with Hel, the daughter of one of those giants, becoming the ruler of the underworld itself.
Then look at the Greco-Roman pantheon. Yes, you've got all the gods as members of one family, except for the one's who aren't. Hecate was one of the titans who decided to back Zeus and his brothers against the other titans and so was rewarded with a post as goddess of the night (after Hades took over the underworld which she'd run formerly). Aphrodite was this random nymph who surfed in one day on a scallop shell and was so hot that someone had to marry her--Hephaestus as it turned out, but her affair with Ares led to their son, Eros, who later had a thing going with a mortal princess, Psyche, who was given ambrosia to become a goddess after Aphrodite's attempts to kill her failed. Dionysus was one of Zeus's mortal sons who was made a god for inventing wine. Hercules was another who was made a god after death on the basis of fame. Athena popped out of Zeus's forehead fully formed. And this doesn't even get into when they got into crossovers with the Egyptian pantheon.
I tend to follow logic, sympathetic magic, and cinematic precedent for how spells work.
I'd say Arcane Mark requires touch and puts the mark wherever it is you touch. It makes no logical sense to have you touch someone on the arm which causes an invisible brand to appear on their butt. Similarly, you can use an item to extend your touch, like Gandalf tracing the rune on Bilbo's door with his staff or Zorro using his blade to cut a Z.
Writing something on someone's heart wouldn't happen unless you exposed the heart first--though would make a dandy way to hide secret messages assuming you had the Heal skill and some healing spells so you could cut someone's chest open without killing them, write some letters on their heart, then heal them up and send them on their merry way until someone kills them and cuts out their heart so they can read the message.
This is a valid use of the spell, but it's also a huge story hook.
So the character has his arcane mark, 1-6 characters, arranged as a glyph or monogram or even a small sentence--"KICK ME" is possible, as is "U R A PIG" and possibly more meanings, assuming hieroglyphics and Chinese characters can be used. And the mark is visible or invisible as he likes.
So, if it's visible, the character goes around magically stamping people with a tattoo.
Who does this? Obviously the character, but who else? Serial killers for one. Mob hitmen as well. Both have well documented histories of leaving calling cards with their victims.
In most civilized societies, this is frowned upon which would lead to an Inquisitor being sent to deal with you.
But what about the people who survive, either due to running away, or surrendering, or even just beating the caster but not killing them? If they have a magical tattoo of the magus's Arcane Mark, they will probably not be pleased. And branding sentient beings...isn't that something slavers would do? You can bet that the good folk of Andoran would view this very dimly, and in fact, probably have laws against it.
Of course the laws of Andoran would pale to the punishments in Katapesh for those who put their mark on someone else's property. Slave rustling is the highest crime.
And there may be some other land somewhere where the use of arcane mark on human beings is reserved for the state who write things like "THIEF" and "HARLOT" and "GOSSIP" on the foreheads of those breaking local laws.
So the magus decides to make his Arcane Mark invisible. Fine. It then shows up to detect magic. There's still the same problem with those who might view this as the work of a hitman or serial killer. Likewise, marking people invisibly is also what some slavers would do, so same trouble in Andoran and Katapesh.
But it gets more entertaining still. Let's say someone survives the attack by the magus, and this someone is cautious or superstitious, or both, and goes to a witch, asking if he's been cursed. The witch then casts Detect Magic, the characters of the Arcane Mark glow visibly, and the witch says yes, yes, he is cursed! And she tells him how much money it will cost to remove the curse.
Yes, she knows it's an Arcane Mark and it will fade in a month, but knowing that, who in their right mind is going to pay her 100 GP for the casting of an Erase spell?
Of course 100 GP is a lot money, but the victim doesn't want to die of a curse, so he goes to the slightly more honest wizard down the lane for a second opinion. The wizard down the lane casts Detect Magic--I'm assuming for free, like the witch, since casters get unlimited use of it and do it almost reflexively--and the Arcane Mark blazes alight. The victim nearly faints in horror, for the accursed runes appear the same as they did when the witch cast the spell, and he asks if he's going to die, or if the wizard would take less that 100 GP to "Erase" the accursed mark!
The wizard stifles his laughter with arcane mumbling, but doesn't want a feud with the witch, so admits that the 100 GP is the going rate for the spell to "Erase" such runes, but then mentions that the Arcane Mark may also be removed at will by the original caster. Maybe the victim might ask him?
The victim decides that he will, but since the magus tried to kill him last time, this time he gets together a large gang who ambush the magus when he's away from his companions--for example, on his way to the privy behind the inn--and bring him to the victim once he's been beaten within an inch of his life.
There are easier ways to become a god. In Chinese mythology, Chang O became the goddess/fairy of the moon because someone gave her husband the peach/pill of immortality, he put it under his pillow, she found it and ate it, not knowing what it was.
Compared with that, Cayden wandering drunk into the Cathedral of the Starstone and getting lucky enough to get the tests he could pass? Considerably more difficult.
In both cases, however, you have people who become gods because they got lucky.
And that's fine. As above, so below. There are some people who simply luck out.
While Baba Yaga is awesome, it's really not hard to reskin any story and set it elsewhere.
For example, to go with a fictional universe that people are familiar with, let's go with Doctor Who.
Irrisen, rather being another country in Golarion, is another planet or maybe a frozen moon. Whitethrone is still Whitethrone, Queen Elvanna is still Queen Elvanna, but Baba Yaga is instead the Ranee and the Dancing Hut is her TARDIS. All the magic is replaced with suitably advanced technology.
Or you want magic, just not Golarion magic? Fine. We go with Narnia as the baseline for our magic since there was already lots of world-hopping to earth going on in that series. Baba Yaga is swapped out for Queen Jadis, the White Witch. Queen Elvanna becomes the lady of the green kirtle from The Silver Chair. The Dancing Hut becomes the Wardrobe. You can have rapier-wielding mice and spellcasting beavers run off to Russia to stop Rasputin.
Or we go with Oz as our cosmology. Baba Yaga becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. Queen Elvanna becomes the sorceress Mombi who has used the Gnome King's Magic Belt to restore her powers and vanquish Glinda, Ozma, Dorothy and any other possible threat to her power and she now seeks to take over the world. The Dancing Hut is still there, but it's been brought to life with Dr. Pipt's Powder of Life the same as the Jack Pumpkinhead, the Sawhorse, the Glass Cat, the Patchwork Girl, and Vic the phonograph. It was formerly a chicken coop which is why it thinks its a chicken. Rasputin is also not very far off from the original Oz timeline so there's really no trouble with the time.
There, all easily reskinned. Same adventure, different universes.
What I'd like to see is all the characters from the web fiction thus far, one per sheet, and not a lot of multiples. I got the NPC Codex, and while it was nice to see Fren from Robert Vardeman's "Plow and Sword" getting some use as the Beggar, I generally don't think of a kid with a hoe as a beggar, and while I might want six beggars, I'd prefer them to all look like individuals. Admittedly my anthropocentrism showing here, but while I'm fine with one giant wasp looking just like another one, and even ghouls being somewhat interchangeable, I'd rather the beggars not look like a chorus line of clones. And maybe some female beggars?
It's a double standard, but a real one.
Put a guy in a pin-up shot on the cover of anything and it will be assumed that any guy who's reading it will be doing so to check out the dudes.
Ditto with any woman reading it.
Put a pin-up girl on the cover of anything and it's assumed that the guys who are reading it are checking out the girls, whereas women reading it will be assumed to just be reading it anyway, since women are culturally allowed and even encouraged to check out the competition, whereas if a man's eyes linger on another man, he's assumed to be sexually interested.
Tiresome, certainly, but nonetheless real.
The purpose of cover art is threefold. The first is to advertise to the customer whatever it is he or she might want to buy. The second is to please the purchaser by reflecting his/her interests. The third is for the purchaser to display to the world to advertise his/her interests to attract like-minded individuals.
If you've got a cover you want to be read as "I'm looking to hook up with other D&D players" and the iconography instead is read as "I'm looking to hook up with men," you've got a problem with the third item.
It's like the time I once wore a tie-dyed T-shirt to the wrong part of town and had three different people come up to me trying to buy acid, the third actually explaining that wearing orange tie-dye on Tuesday on this particular street meant I was supposed to be the drug dealer.
In a perfect world I should be able to wear tie-dye wherever I please with no other meaning than "I like tie-dye," but the world not being perfect it can be misread. Ditto with holding a magazine with a cover with some pin-up guy on it.
I would go with:
3). Durvin Gest, famous founder of the Pathfinders, and an unnamed member of the Decemvirate since.
Look at it this way: The Pathfinders start out by exploring lost Azlant and "discovering" amazing Azlant technology--the Wayfinders--which they use to track down all sorts of secrets and bring them back for the masters of the society to keep in their vaults.
This is a dead simple plan for veiled master. Once the main work is done of creating the "famous hero" persona, let him "disappear" on one final adventure, then take the place of a member of the Decemvirate who holds a swing vote for the council. Rinse and repeat as necessary over the years so as to puppet the council and thus the Pathfinder Society.
The African Orisha spirit Oshun, whose name means "Sweetwater," is also heavily associated with bees, honey, and for that matter, sacred prostitutes.
Oshun is also a lot nicer than Calistria, except when she finally loses her almost infinite patience, in which case she'd make Calistria look positively mild by comparison.
It would be nice to see a picture of a Mwangi interpretation of Calistria. While all the depiction of the wasp goddess have thus far been quite hot, as is appropriate, it would be nice to see a depiction who isn't so white. Ditto with all the gods and goddesses who didn't previously have mortal ethnicities.
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!
The Broken-Hearted Crown of Golarion
By Kevin Andrew Murphy
Imrijka, the Inquisitor – “For Love of Mysteries”
Who knows what may be summoned with a cry?
Lirianne, the Gunslinger – “For Love of Wonder”
A woman in this world finds her own place.
Hayato, the Samurai – “For Love of Honor”
I did just as my father bade me do
Reiko, the Ninja – “For Love of Justice”
Atop the heights where noble falcons soar,
Feiya, the Witch – “For Love of Travel”
A trek across the World’s Crown from Minkai
Eando Kline, the Pathfinder – “For Love of Humanity”
I’m free to roam the world and paths untracked
It appears that Games Workshop has unleashed the power of the Streisand Effect. More than one group of science fiction writers is currently planning a Space Marines anthology in protest, and one group has already registered the domain.
With item #5, I think the ads with the "I'm a monster" gnome and his pet badger, Francis, were universally beloved, pretty much. That said, comedy springs from pain, and what made the ad funny was the underlying tension of swapping the gnome to the Monster Manual and the tiefling to the Players Handbook, which irked a lot of players, myself included, on the basis of worldbuilding. Having the tieflings given giant horns and crocodile tails so they could be Draenei clones also didn't sit well with many players who preferred a somewhat subtler approach.
The troll and grapple ads, OTOH, were the match and the fuel for the edition wars.
There's also the wise decision with Paizo to keep the world of Golarion relatively separate from the main rule books so that people who want to play Pathfinder with a different world--or even their own homebrew--don't have to pick up world-specific setting books to pick up essential spells that should have been in the core books.
Well, WoD is another matter, and the seduction system was originally set up for vampires to feed off of NPCs. I know that system quite well--or at least previous iterations, as I've written a lot for MAGE--and I'll say that you really need to apply common sense. Some people aren't going to be seduced by anything short of a two year courtship and a marriage proposal. If you need to seduce someone in ten minutes or less, you need to look for an easier nut to crack.
I'd just skip to buying the flip maps which are already laminated. The Thornkeep double-pack is a particularly good deal if you collect maps, especially since if you're going to be buying the PDF, you might as well buy the flip maps as a pre-order while subscribing to the map line for a month. That will effectively give you the flip maps for $8 over what you're paying for the PDF, or $2 a side which is far cheaper than what Kinkos would charge for a color print that size not even counting the laminating.
No one can guarantee anything. Online hosting companies go belly up with frequency, new management teams come up with bizarre and draconian policies, and so on and so forth.
Cloud storage is also only as secure as the company its based in. I remember some years ago when AT&T pimped the ease and convenience of having your answering machine hosted on their servers so it wouldn't go out with a power failure. Then they blew a transformer in a heatwave and all the customers in the area were unable to get their messages for days.
Currently cloud storage is nice for businesses but isn't attractively priced for individual users.
I don't really see why. Each AP is a new beginning of a new cycle. Next month starts the Reign of Winter. If a new player is interested in subscribing, I'd tell them to start with that--and not just because I wrote the fiction. It's because the first volume of any AP is designed as a starting point. With that, the Core Rules, and the Bestiaries, you can easily run a game. If the GM wants to include some cool monster from multiple volumes ago, chances are it's already in the Bestiary, and even if not, it will be in the online materials.
As for what you miss out on getting when it's first available, if something sells well enough--especially if it sells out--at some point down the road it will make economic sense to reissue it in some other form. That said, Paizo doesn't want to get into a situation where no one buys the APs when they come out, preferring to wait for compilations.
About the only trouble is the frustration of the collector's impulse to get one of everything, and the reader's frustration in not being able to read something when they want to due to the only copies in print having fallen into the collectibles market. But it's the way the book trade works. At least with PDFs there's a stopgap for those who just want to read the material, rather than have the physical ephemera in their hands.
Quite honestly, you may have multiple machines and no desire to figure out how to configure the filing on each one so you'll find the file precisely when you need it. Having the file kept securely in an online library to download on any particular machine when you need it is more useful than having the file you wanted somewhere in an old laptop in a house or apartment in some other city from where you are currently.
Having the data stored by the company who originally sold you the data is more convenient for the user than having to configure some other online storage arrangement or having to leave a computer plugged in 24/7 in another house.
If you've got world hopping and parallel universes, you're going to get all of them--including this one. If for some reason you don't like this one and don't want to deal with it, preferring to deal with some other literary world, here's an alternate: In 1900, a little boy named Digory Kirk and his friend Polly Plummer use his wicked uncle Andrew's magic rings (made with Atlantean magic) to visit the Wood Between the Worlds and from there a couple worlds, including one called Narnia, just coming into being. This is all chronicled in The Magician's Nephew. At the end of the book, Digory plants an apple core from that world in his back yard along with the magic world-hopping rings. Some years later, the tree falls over and he uses the wood to make a wardrobe which figures into the plotline of a later book of some fame. What happened to the damn rings?
It's a big plot hole, and an unanswered one, so instead of landing in WWI Russia, the hut comes through in WWI England, smashing the apple tree utterly flat and uprooting enough rings for the party to hop through the Wood Between the Worlds to Narnia halfway through the White Witch's reign. How this detour relates to Baba Yaga is up to you, but the parallels are pretty obvious. Also, Digory isn't there to notice because presumably he's off on the continent for WWI. When he gets back, his mom tells him it was a storm that smashed the tree, because honestly, who's going to believe a chicken-legged Russian hut landed in her backyard?
Polly is probably somewhere else, but if you want, you can also bring Uncle Andrew out of retirement for a second trip to Narnia. Then you look at the plot of the 6th volume of the Reign of Winter and figure out how to get the adventure back on track, having mostly avoided dealing with WWI.
If they were that "disposable," no one would be buying the RotRL anniversary edition.
I'll relate to you something told me some years ago by a man who ran a used paperback bookstore: Fans are different. Romance readers buy a book one week, and when they finish it, they never want to read it again. The churn on Harlequin romances is fast and furious to the point where they're banned from the New York Times Bestseller list. Mystery readers are different--They will hang onto books they like, but part with those they didn't care for as much or just tire of. Fantasy and science fiction readers hold on to their books forever. You will seldom find a used copy of a current novel, and as he said, the main times he got books it would be a large collection when someone died or suddenly had to move.
I think you can figure what model roleplaying games follow. People like reading adventures as well as playing them and it is very possible to rerun a classic adventure with a new group.
Rules are only so useful. Taking a bestiary listing as an example, an overbloated statblock and an underwritten roleplaying and ecology listing will age less well than an overwritten ecology and a skimpy statblock.
Part of the Paizo model is that the longer more elaborate bestiary listings show up in the APs and adventures. This also helps them keep their value long after the AP is played since they're still adventure fodder for the GM.
When are they going to start selling fake Wayfinders?
More seriously, I just flagged this post too, but there wasn't an "advertising spam" option listed among the possible flags. Could this be added? It seems to crop up with some regularity.
Ross Byers wrote:
True, but with the exception of Richie Rich, we don't have swimming pools filled with diamonds to use as a ball plunge either.
Hmm, now that would be an interesting story, Smaug versus Richie Rich.
Ross Byers wrote:
Entirely possible, and Baba Yaga's rule that the new queen of Irrisen must be her daughter is Baba Yaga's to break. If she wants the new queen to be her granddaughter, who's going to tell her no?
Plus an eight-year-old Queen Anastasia would mean that Irrisen would have ten years of a regency period, and those are always fun.
I'm just wondering if there's some way we can have our adventurers kidnap/rescue Anastasia so Baba Yaga could install her as the next ruler of Irrisen.
Note: I have not been allowed to peek at the adventure notes for this path. This is pure speculation on my part.
(Also, I'd love if this were a way to import Faberge eggs into Golarion.)
While there is an obvious appeal to decreeing "The power of raw Goodness doesn't kill babies," the trouble with this is figuring out what mechanism accomplishes this feat.
One is that the god and/or raw force of Goodness that granted the Holy Smite ability looks down from the clouds every time the Holy Smite button is pushed and micromanages the damage so innocent albeit neutral babies aren't smacked in the process.
The trouble with this approach is twofold. First, if the god or Goodness itself is peering down from the clouds to micromanage things, why doesn't he, she, or it just squash the evildoer into paste with a precision Smite and save everyone the bother? Yes, there's game mechanics, but if you're saying that the god and/or Goodness is actively watching, then they're actively watching, and you might as well skip to divine intervention.
The second is the problem of "What's so special about a baby?" So the Holy Smite miraculously doesn't touch the neutral but innocent baby. What about the baby's equally neutral but innocent teenage sister? Does she get Holy Smited to death? And if she does, what happens when you line up, say, the Von Trapp family children (who for purposes of this example we'll assume are all neutral) and blow a Holy Smite at them. Who dies and who doesn't? At what age do the powers of Goodness decide that melting off an innocent neutral person's face is not such a bad thing?
The other related approach is to posit some force of "innocence" that shields the neutral-but-non-evil babies, children, and simpletons who've yet to encounter or comprehend true evil. This doesn't require direct micromanagement of Goodness and has folklore going for it too, but should also have the drawbacks of folklore as well. For example, if there is some Ark of the Covenant that the forces of evil and even their usual neutral pawns can't touch for fear of having their faces melted off, it would make sense to have some hag tart herself up as a sweet granny and ask Hansel and Gretel to go fetch her "old hope chest" which she can't pick up because her arthritis is so bad.
Then there's also just the question of what sort of story you're wanting to tell. If you don't want to have babies being specially protected, but you don't want to have the forces of evil be especially incompetent either, the easiest trick is to just have all the babies be "Sir Not Appearing in this Picture" and have the potential innocent victims all be of voting age.
I read "If the baby dies, he is evil!" as the smiter then being evil for killing the baby. Admittedly this is a matter of pronoun ambiguity, assuming an indeterminate-gender baby, and also assuming the paladin is male.
I don't have many auto-fall buttons for paladins, but willfully killing a baby is among them.
If you're going to talk about the nature of evil, consider the plight of the sultan's pet crocodile.
The crocodile has lived in the crocodile pit for many years. The sultan has fed him a steady diet of human and other sentient being's flesh--halflings, dwarves, elves, etc. All of them have been tossed in the crocodile pit.
Then one day the Sultan tossed in a druid, who instead of just doing Speak with Animals to talk with the crocodile, blew and Awaken spell. Now the crocodile is intelligent and can talk. And the druid has informed it that if it eats any more sentient beings, it miraculously become Evil. Before, when it was just a dumb animal, it was Neutral, but now that it's a rational being who can talk, it will become Evil if it continues its wicked sentient-being eating ways. And if it dies being Evil it will then be punished and tormented in Hell.
The crocodile thinks this is patently unfair. It's a crocodile, after all, and it's never learned to hunt, having been raised as a pet and fed a steady diet of halfling servants who spilled the palm wine or otherwise displeased the sultan, and it's not like non-sentient beings are just stumbling into its crocodile pit. And the crocodile then eats the druid, who confused and upset it, and has now probably damned it to Hell too.
Now the question is, is the crocodile now Evil? Was the druid?
And how does this compare to a ghoul who just wants to snack on an already-dead corpse?
If separation from society were the basis of evil, the paragons of all wickedness would be hermits and castaways. Since they're not, it has to be something else.
With someone encountering a cranky wight in his barrow mound, the difference between him and someone whose house you break into, intent on stealing his stuff, is what precisely? Ditto the mummy in his tomb. These are his grave goods for his afterlife, dammit. Anyone who steals them deserves to get mummy rot. Get your own afterlife.
Which doesn't mean that there can't be evil undead, but if you look at most of them as people, they generally have reasons for behaving as they do, and it makes no points with anyone to greet them with "Begone, wicked and unnatural thing! In the name of -insert-deity-here-, I command it!"
Wow, being dissed by a proselytizing graverobber. I shall never live down the ignominy.
Meanwhile, other cultures pour libations on the graves of the dead, leave them flowers, or burn hell money and other elaborate offerings for their ancestors to use in the afterlife. They generally have less trouble with cranky undead people, or at worse have different problems, like ghost brides hoping to entice living grooms to join them in their narrow houses.
Well, the "corruption by darker powers" depends on how powerful those darker powers are. Yes, Urgathoa is the goddess of undead, and might be able to make normally polite and peaceable undead go nuts, run amok, and kill and eat all the humans they'd previously been coexisting with, (including their mortal servants, which can get truly inconvenient for a vampire with staff), but that's the same as saying that since Lamashtu is the goddess of beasts, all beasts are subject to "corruption by darker powers," since any moment Lamashtu wills it, she can have a live-action remake of "The Birds" with Merisiel taking the place of Tippi Hedren.
While Urgathoa stirring up the undead is a fine plot, it should likely be used sparingly, the same as having Lamashtu making the birds go nuts or Cayden Cailean possessing all the town drunks. Generally speaking, drunk should be drunk the same way that undead is just undead, with nothing more mysterious to it than that, and birds are just birds and unlikely to attack en masse unless they're some form of special birds who do that.
Part of the trouble with undeath and evil is that if they're not, there's the question of what is.
Take ghouls and ghasts, for example. They're spawned by a ghastly fever which they now transmit, and have an all-consuming hunger, but have also built amazing underground cities which they live in. They have humans brought in as food or raised as livestock, but they don't just gobble them all up immediately--or at least the ghouls don't. The ghasts are kicked out of their cities and treated as abominations, which is rather darkly amusing when you think about it.
So then there questions of how evil is your average civilized ghoul compared to, say, your average Cheliaxian devil-worshiper. If ghouls can resist eating humans, then they can resist eating humans. It may be like walking around giant walking talking gingerbread men, but you can't talk with a gingerbread man once you've eaten him. Or at least you hope not.
Now, the easy thing with the Cheliaxian devil worshiper is they suddenly have a moral epiphany and realize that halflings are people too and are thinking creatures in their own right and have better things to do with their lives than polish your boots or be sacrificed to Asmodeus. So if the devil-worshiper can have this epiphany, can the ghoul?
I'd say yes, though this would likely end with the ghoul taking his or her unlife, since while immortality is nice, existence as a continually starving undead plague vector is not terribly attractive compared to transcending to some other plane and getting a immortal body that's free from hunger.
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