Has WOTC ever hinted (under Hasbro's banner) that they would consider printing compatible game products under the OGL for Pathfinder? If they did, that would be so hilarious, and poetic.
They already are. Dungeon Tiles can be used with Pathfinder the same way that Flip Mats can be used with D&D. Go into any game room at a convention and you'll see a lot of that.
Ditto all the miniatures.
Honestly you would not be seeing it in the next few years as Hasbro sends out D&D Next, movies and whatnot and sees how they do. After that? Well, the shelving and rehabilitating is certainly an option and also part of their established playbook, but once you're looking into the future, there are other possibilities than a company remaining whole and unchanged in the "and it ever was thus, so shall it ever be" mode.
The first possibility of why Hasbro might sell an underperforming brand rather shelve it for future investment is a desperate need for cash caused by some large global economic change. Don't believe this happens? Talk to authors who had their novels tanked when Bertelsmann had to pay a huge amount of money because of German reunification and got it by slashing print runs and advertising budgets. Bertelsmann owns a number of American imprints.
The second is similar to the first but with the need for cash being a lawsuit. Consider Corning glass. Huge company. Made the plates in my cupboard. Also made leaky silicone breast implants which got them sued into bankruptcy.
The third possibility is bankruptcy due to mismanagement and changing markets. Far larger and older corporations have gone under.
The fourth is being bought up by an even larger company, likely a media conglomerate, which sees the advantage in having a giant toy division, and then decides to strip out a few parts of its investment for cash either due to sound business practices or as part of sound business practices to get cash to make up for unwise investments.
Placating the implacable idol is not going to happen, but the idol is not going to stand forever.
Glad you enjoyed, both the story and the archaic words--I really do find they help to set a tale in a time period. With Madame Eglantine, I actually drew from a number of different inspirations--Chaucer's prioress as you noted, especially with her fastidiousness, but also Eglantine Price, the witch from "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," but more the visuals of Miss Price from the original "The Magic Bedknob" and "Bonfires and Broomsticks." Though since this Madame Eglantine is the villainess, I also pulled from a few other inspirations: Mrs. Izzard, the undead witch from John Bellair's "The House With a Clock in its Walls" (I borrowed her scary glasses) and Miss Minchin from Burnett's "A Little Princess." And also, of course, the MO of Bluebeard, Mrs. Lovett from "Sweeney Todd," the Brewster Sister's from "Arsenic and Old Lace," and also Dorothea Puentes, who is currently in prison for murdering her boarders in Sacramento. But as you found this Madame Eglantine is really her own person--and not a villain at all, at least in her own monstrous mind.
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.
Oh, that would be a Strapping Porter, like the one in "The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad."
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.
Irnk, Dead-Eye's Prodigal wrote:
Mechanical effects unchanged, flavortext utterly rewritten, the Harlots trading in their garter belts and fishnets for the Usurers' green eyeshades and ledgers. And what was the trope of being kissed by a sexy ghost girl--which is in tons of folklore--got changed to making a deal with a spectral moneylender which...well, isn't in any folktales I've ever read, and I've read a lot of folktales.
Be glad they at least became "dance halls." Back when White Wolf's Wraith: The Oblivion was under development, the first draft playtest preview--publicly released--had one of the Guilds of wraiths being the Harlot's Guild, with all of their wraithly powers done with sexy harlot stylings. By the time publication rolled around? The Harlots Guild had a reorganization to become the Usurers with a banking theme, because nothing's more sexy than an undead moneylender.
It should also be pointed out that advanced reading copies are standard for publishing in general. Publishers send books out to reviewers in hopes of getting favorable reviews when they hit the stands. Likewise, they also send books in manuscript to other authors in their stable so as to solicit blurbs. Many people have access to a book before the formal publication date.
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.
There are, occasionally, legitimate ways to get the PDFs that you missed when they were available via subscription. The most recent way was the bundle of PDFs offered as part of the Goblinworks Kickstarter--which of course cost money too, but was a good way to get a lot of PDFs one might have missed.
As a feature request, since there are now enough different pawn sets to make it necessary, could someone put together an index--maybe in the wiki--that lists where each pawn is in what set?
For example, I'm running Skull & Shackles. It's not until the session after the current one that I find that the Skull & Shackles pawn set actually has a Canopy Creeper pawn and I didn't need to pull out the Shambling Mound from the Bestiary Box and say "Okay, plant creature with vine tentacles. Close enough." Then I want to have a horde of xtabay as are called for in the adventure. Can't find any in the S&S pawns, but do an internet search and find that they're going to be in the Bestiary Box II coming out later this month.
And that doesn't even get into wanting to pull monsters for my homebrewed games or for adventures written by other publishers.
I also realize that some people like to take their pawns out of all the cardboard, sort them, index them and whatnot, but that's not me. I prefer to keep them in the original cardboard, unpopped till I need them, and then pop them back in after the session. Since they now come with numbers next to them, this makes it extra useful for indexing, especially in the cases where I need multiple of a specific monster and there are multiples scattered throughout the various sets, as is the case with giant wasps for example.
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.
If there were a "wait to ship with a hardback or box set" option, rather than just "hold for monthly subscription" a whole lot of the troubles of the envelopes getting bunged would be non-issues. That said, even the envelopes show up very neatly for me since I'm not very far away and on a major transportation hub.
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.
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
And Torag doesn't want his dwarves intermixing with those oversized klutzes called humans so he violates evolution to ensure they can't mix despite covergent forms? XD
Yes, exactly. That's why humans and elves mix with no troubles, making half-elves who are pretty much fine, and likewise with humans and orcs even if the orcish strain tends to be dominant/culturally considered dominant in an uncomfortable parallel to real world human racial politics, but if humans interbreed with giants--who look pretty much like humans in all but scale--you get hideously deformed ogres, or worse, half-ogres, because something awful happens when human and giant genes mix.
Also, tieflings and aasimar are only human-based because the way that metaphysics work, the forces of heaven and hell only want to have sex with humans. Your easiest way to prevent seduction by a succubus is to be a halfling.
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.
While there may be nothing explicit about dark powers being able to pull the plug on an antipaladin who has ticked them off, it's strongly implicit and certainly the way most GMs would run things. If the particulars of the antipaladin's pact are handwaved, the terms are nebulous until such time as the GM needs to clarify them. Whether the antipaladin's powers are turned off like cable service or repossessed like a company car depends on the way the GM wants to run the metaphysics, but it is still the GM's call as to what the metaphysics are, not the player's.
Besides, if you could become an antipaladin, recant, and run off with your powers intact to take up another class we'd see a lot more chaotic good Robin Hood figures with a level dip in antipaladin. Don't see many of those? That's probably because most GMs rule that it doesn't work that way, making it a bad build.
"Reaver" to me sounds like metal band formed by middle school students which may have later turned pro but still has that pretentious juvenile sound to it -- ie. dangerous sounding but not an actual bad word that would upset mom.
As for the whole business of antipaladins having their fiendish patrons squash them into paste if they get too big for their britches...why? If they don't like them as antipaladins, just turn them into some high level demon and have done with it. But seriously, any demon lord worthy of the name is not going to be worried about a 20th level antipaladin not just because of power but because of the obvious weakness of an antipaladin--their power depends on their patron. Offend your patron and they yank their patronage.
And it's not like the forces of goodness are waiting for antipaladins to lose their powers so they can offer them trade-ins for paladinhood either.
Might as well call it was they're calling it. At some point in every product's iterations, they start calling it something without a number, and trying to number it just gets confusing.
We could call it D&D Hail Mary and it might be more accurate, but it would still be confusing for getting everyone on the same page.
If Paizo wants a product to go up against D&D Next, it would honestly depend on where they are in their production schedule and what they plan to have coming out at the time.
What I'd advise, actually, is letting the 800 lb gorilla have its month on the stage. Gamers only have so much discretionary income, and the ones who will still be willing to drop enough for the 5e slipcase set at a heavy Amazon discount will have that much less to spend on any big Paizo release. And while pre-orders may not be as high as they were with 4e given how burned many were by that, there is a playtest so it's not precisely a pig in a poke except for the artwork, and with 4e, the artwork was never an issue so not a problem.
Aside from that? Put out a perennial that doesn't rely on the free PDF for pre-orders. A big Pathfinder Battles extravaganza set for example. At worst D&D Next does gangbusters and the product waits a bit for people to have extra cash. Or it doesn't do well and the Paizo offering sells more quickly instead.
While I like blackguard, it does make me think of the dastardly villain from a bodice ripper.
As for antipaladin, I think it neatly follows the medieval logic of having antipopes and an antichrist. Then again I've often run a medieval fantasy game where I just go ahead and use the whole hierarchy of medieval Christendom because it's an easier fit with the black-and-white morality paladins prefer rather than fantasy polytheism. (Though I do also tend to gray it up a bit too. The Knights of Malta were very upset when their beloved Pope Guido Medici died and the new pope started peace talks with the Saracens. And that doesn't even get into the time the party met Pope Joan....)
I had a very good time at the convention. A short list of pros and cons.
Kyle's Meet-and-Greet was amazing. An absolute showstopper beginning to what was an excellent con. (I need to find out what was in the salmon rub.)
The banquet food was very good and the banquet itself was well run, with fun presentations. The slideshow in particular was a nice way to shout out to all the members of staff in a concise fashion. The trivia contest afterward was also fun.
The quality of the bar and restaurant food was very good in all but price.
The seminars were well run and interesting. In particular the Reaper Bones take-and-paint and painting class were a lot of fun.
The exchange board for games was a nice touch. Someone was also very generous Saturday and put an unneeded banquet ticket on it. I already had mine, but it was nice to see that sort of community.
The badge holders were very nice, good to put business cards in, and banquet tickets and the day's schedule once you trimmed it.
The choking scented-oil candles in the lobby. When I first got in on Thursday, they made it hard to breathe and made my eyes water. I mentioned something about it to staff. Either they mentioned it to the hotel or else I got used to it, but it's something I could really do without at a hotel.
The aforementioned food desert, not just around the hotel but in the hotel. I've been doing cons for a number of years and my old favorite and the best model I've seen for a con hotel is the old Red Lion/Doubletree model where there is both a high class restaurant as well as a coffee shop. The lack of a coffee shop option makes the con too pricy.
Parking. I didn't bring a car this time, but $36 for parking is obscene.
The banquet seating. I didn't have a trouble standing in line, but there ended up being a spare seat at our table. No one claimed it, and it ended up being used as the empty chair since that was the only way people could get by the table to the ones further in. Putting balloons up to mark the empty chairs is a good idea.
The printed schedule cards were nice but just a bit too wide to fit in in the badge holder. I trimmed mine and it worked, but using slightly narrower paper would fix this.
Suggestions for Next PaizoCon:
All the Paizo staff were present and a good number of the contributors. It would be nice if one night--likely Friday--if a mass signing were organized on the model of the ones at World Fantasy. Have that go on in the hall outside the Paizo store both as a way to sell books and promote the authors.
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.
If this were first edition and you were an illusionist--the go-to caster class for tricksters--you would use the Noise cantrip from the Unearthed Arcana to make the sound of a child sobbing or, if you actually want "Please help me!" said in a girlish voice you use the 1st level illusionist spell Audible Glamer.
If you were a 1st ed magic-user, you'd pick between the Moan or Groan cantrip and the 2nd level Audible Glamer spell.
In the current edition? You ask your GM if you can add Audible Glamer back in as a 1st level Sorcerer/Wizard and possibly Bard spell.
Audible Glamer isn't currently in Pathfinder since it was never put into the SRD and thus is product identity. But it is very easy to houserule in.
Having the Ghost Sound cantrip function like the 1st ed Audible Glamer rather than the 1st ed Noise cantrip makes it overpowerful for a cantrip.
I fix this by just giving a bonus to characters to answer questions about the place where they live or grew up. Something like +15 for your own neighborhood, +10 for the city where you live, and +5 for knowledge of the country. So, for example, Nella is a student at the Acadamae in Korvosa. She gets a +15 for questions about the Acadamae, +10 for Korvosa itself, and +5 for Varisia in general, even if she hasn't put any points into Knowledge Local. The person with tons of Knowledge Local who walks into a town is assumed to have spent a lot of time perusing gazetteers and travelers' memoirs.
If the tapping can't be synchronous, how on earth would you make the sound of drums? Can you only make the illusion of ghosts with no rhythm?
At some point some coded message is going to be possible. If you can make the tolling of a bell with the clock striking twelve--a fairly reasonable use of Ghost Sound--you will have anyone with the ability to count able to realize the number twelve has been rung. If you can have it play music with any variation in notes, you can either encode a message in the progression of notes or just play an instrumental passage of a well known piece such that a savvy bard, knowing the lyrics that go with that passage, would be able to comprehend the message.
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.
Begin pedantry alert....
The word "gibberish" comes from the name "Geber" which was the Latinization of the name of the Arabic alchemist Jabir ibn Hayan who set the standard for a mixture of highflown language, poetic diction, alchemical shop talk, and deliberate ciphers that his writings were pronounced "gibberish."
So gibberish is speech, but it's incomprehensible speech. It sounds like it means something. In fact, you may be quite certain it means something. But you can't make heads or tails what that is.
Gibberish is most certainly speech. It's just nonsense speech. If you make an illusion of a Swedish chef, but you don't speak Swedish, then your illusion sounds like the Swedish chef from the Muppet Show: "Yaybe horg de inkydoo. Mork! Mork! Mork!" But if those perceiving the illusory Swedish chef don't speak Swedish either? Then the gibberish sounds like Swedish.
While we can't know for certain--short of asking the authors for clarification, which is certainly a possibility with 3.5 and Pathfinder--there are two reasons the wording of rules changes between editions. One reason is to actually make a change in the rules which is generally done to fix something that's broken or to prevent problems with new rules mechanics. The other reason is to make the verbiage look different enough that it doesn't look like a direct copy/paste and also matches the aesthetic style of the new book as a whole. I know because that's exactly what I did when I rewrote the Spheres from Mage 1st ed to Mage 2nd.
Trouble is, whenever that happens, there are invariably editing and transcription errors. Some small string of words, which looks at first glance to be a mere rhetorical flourish and thus prime candidate for pruning, turns out to be an important clarification put in to avoid ruling troubles.
And to be fair, the 1st ed Noise cantrip is based on the 1st ed PHB 2nd level magic-user/1st level illusionist spell Audible Glamer. Audible Glamer can specifically make any sound you want, without any troubles with clarity. Want to hear the "Queen of the Night" aria? You've got it, with perfect enunciation.
The question basically comes down to whether the current Ghost Sound cantrip is the 1st ed Noise cantrip partially renamed by rolling it together with the Haunting Sounds cantrips series or if it's the 2nd/1st level spell Audible Glamer dropped to a cantrip and renamed.
It should also be pointed out that a lot of 3.x cantrips, when moved to Pathfinder, were made overpowerful by the ability to use them continuously. If you rule that Ghost Sound works like Audible Glamer, then you can have someone use it continuously to get around all sorts of problems. Is the "Queen of the Night" aria out of your vocal range or did slavers maybe cut out your tongue? No problem. All you have to do is lip synch. Did the orcs smash your lute to kindling? Just grab a frying pan and do air guitar while Ghost Sound gives you full concert-quality audio. Does reading the Dark Language of Blood aloud have an unfortunate habit of making the speaker gag, human vocal chords not meant to make such demonic sounds? Easy. Just have Ghost Sound provide the voices as you read the text.
Admittedly, for my personal games, I port Audible Glamer back in as a 1st level spell, especially since it avoids the trouble with the at-will cantrips in Pathfinder. So it's a rules call. But keeping the divide from 1st edition avoids having the need to make it.
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.
The trouble is, "harm" is relative. Teleporting someone into a volcano is generally bad, except some creatures are immune to fire damage. Teleporting them to the roof a high tower where they'll slide down and plummet to their doom is bad unless they can fly, in which case it's a great place to go.
What you really need are two spells. One to teleport another person to somewhere of your choosing which can be pleasant or not depending on circumstances. Teleporting someone to the steps of the palace is generally not bad, but might be unpleasant if there's a riot or a war taking place, or even the ill-timed arrival of the royal carriage. The other spell would be one to teleport someone somewhere random which would have a very good chance of being bad.
There's a synopsis at the Pathfinder wiki.
The only things you need to know to enjoy Queen of Thorns are already mentioned in the text, but the main matters of significance are that Radovan picked up an extremely nice jacket in his travels to the East, along with a better understanding of his nature as devilspawn, while Varian got a better grasp on magic and also picked up a magic sword. And Arnisant has a fun adventure which is not revisited in Queen of Thorns.
I read and enjoyed both books, but if you can't get past the Asian setting, I don't know how to make it more enjoyable for you.
The Test of the Starstone is actually a reality television show put on by the gods for their own amusement with a panel of gods as the judges. It's kept mysterious so the mortals will stay impressed. The mortals who win are mostly chosen for their entertainment value.
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.