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There's also the Wizard. The Conjuration school has a sub-school specialization for this: the Infernal Binder. I'm playing one fluffed as a graduate of the Acadamae, known for its devil binders, and it's a lot of fun. You get the versatility of a full wizard but a bit of extra summoning power. Good feat choices are Improved Initiative, Spell Focus: Conjuration, Augment Summoning and Skill Focus: Diplomacy/Bluff/Sense Motive. The True Name arcane discovery for wizards fits extremely well. For Prestige Classes, Paizo has Diabolist and Blackfire Adept.
I agree, the twists do add a little wrinkle that should ripple out in very interesting ways. It should give more weight to the political aspect of the campaign that so often goes ignored. I'm looking forward to see how this turns out.
EDIT: And the Swordlords have already begun to pour in. Competition is going to get fierce.
I'm interested in most of the APs, but Legacy of Fire holds a special place in my heart, though I've never managed to get terribly far.
Also, there's usually one or two games looking for a replacement GM after having been abandoned. I'm in a Skull & Shackles game that's in that boat. If you'd consider picking that up, we'd be very grateful. If not, that's understandable. Link is here:
Honestly, while I don't hate the alignment system, I do think it sometimes leads to very silly things. I am perfectly ok with some spells making you a complete monster just by using them. But I've always dislike the "negative energy equal evil" that 3.5 and by extension PF have going for it, since negative energy is just another aspect of the 3.5/PF cosmos, that is opposed to positive energy. Presumably the cosmos needs both to function, so why is using negative energy to make some bodies without souls in it move around "Evil". Creepy? Sure.
We have multiple conflicting canonical stories of creation, so it hasn't been specified exactly how all that works. However, the general treatment seems to be that negative energy equals evil because positive energy equals good. It's a moral dichotomy made real. I agree with your assessment that the cosmos (which, in PF, includes separate planes of existence like Heaven, Hell, the elemental planes, the Abyss, and the Planes of Positive and Negative Energy) needs both to exist, it needs them in the exact same way it needs good and evil. But that raises the question about equivalent energies for law and chaos, and the whole system gets pretty wonky.
Honestly, while by RAW casting undead-creating spells is an evil action, it doesnt state HOW evil. For some, its evil assaying something mean to a farmer. For others, its nearly irredeemably evil, similar to murdering an angel child. So in some games yes, in some games no.
The RAW impose the [evil] descriptor, which informs, if not specifies, the degree of evil. Fireball, a spell that is nothing but pure destruction, is not inherently evil, as it lacks that mechanical descriptor. Evil spells are anathema to good creatures. If anything, the campaign would be defined more by the degree of evil in saying mean things to a farmer than in casting an evil spell.
Look casting Animate Dead makes you as evil as casting Protection from Evil makes you good. So I feel it sort of does a disservice to the magic system to pretend that casting evil spells is really an issue (also it shows how silly the alignment system can be). Really being able to switch your alignment on the fly by casting lots of spells with [X] descriptor seems like it could be really convenient in some situations.
Yeah, Protection From Evil's got the [good] descriptor. In that case, the soul-taintingly evil argument falls flat, and I abandon it as far as canon and mechanics are concerned. Now it's just my own unsupported preference.
Good. That's about the only way I can see reconciling the issue, so it seems like a valid houserule. At least we don't disagree that, as written, those spells are soul-tainting and thus probably shouldn't be ignored.
That depends on the mechanics of the spell (not game mechanics, narrative mechanics). I've always gotten the impression that the undead in Golarion aren't souls forced back into bodies, but rather are created from negative energy given some form of sentience. As such, there isn't a "nicer" way of creating them. That does, however, open the question about what happens when positive energy is used in such a manner. It seems like there's also some moral baggage pertaining to the whole "animated earthly remains" part, but that's purely conjecture. I would be open to having alternative means to achieve similar ends for Team Good, but I don't see the necromancy spells and corpses as being the way to go about it.
Also, there are spells that can return dead generals to life without having to go the reanimation route. There's always raise dead and resurrection, which explicitly bring a person back to life, rather than merely animating their remains with dark energies.
Your example about the Play-by-Post, while interesting, seems to ignore the part where raising dead is soul-taintingly evil. I agree that casting evil spells shouldn't be automatic damnation for everybody involved, but I feel that most people do evil spells a disservice by trivializing them, making them less evil than they should be.
Raising a skeleton isn't on the order of assassinating a fully grown Hitler to end the war. It's on the order of killing his mother before he's born, removing the appropriate organs and cremating them for good measure. And then hunting down his father to make sure he never procreates, finishing off any progeny he may have already sired. You averted a war and saved millions of lives, but you did some pretty dark things to do it, and even if you can justify it to yourself, you'll probably never sleep quite as well at night.
Personally, I'm very happy with the canon that undead are always evil. Other people are entitled to their opinion, but I have yet to see one that really makes a whole lot of sense, at least where the flavor is concerned. Often, it seems that little consideration is given to what actually happens when you cast one of these spells. Casting evil spells isn't some walk in the park, and it isn't without consequences. To illustrate:
You invoke and channel the forces of darkness, the very stuff that evil is made of, using your body as a conduit for malevolent energies. Once the fell words have fallen from your lips like a poisonous curse, you cast it out and into the worldly remains of Farmer Jenkins, put solemnly to rest twelve years past. The creature, this undead abomination fueled by a tortuous hatred of life, now inhabits the rotting skeleton of Farmer Jenkins, called into this world to do your bidding. It digs its way up through the dirt, pale bone clothed in mouldering tatters. The ritual complete, you point your finger toward the lumbering army of orcs and issue your command. "Defend the village." Knowing that what you have done, you have done for the good of others, you still cannot help but feel an inky stain begin to spread across your soul, even as you turn to the next grave, taking a breath to steel yourself before you cast the spell again.
Now, that's all fluff, and fluff conforms to the will of the group. If you want to change it, that's your prerogative. But think about what you're changing. Do you want the [evil] descriptor removed from the spells entirely? Or are you merely advocating that we shouldn't think about the narrative consequences of your character's actions, because you're trying to uphold the integrity of the narra... oh wait.
Alignment has only very sketchy rules to support it, even with the inclusion of Ultimate Campaign. It's not a mechanical construct, it's narrative. As such, there aren't really a whole lot of mechanical implications attached to things like evil acts, unless you're a paladin, and even then, the mechanical consequences are arbitrated by the GM's personal sense of narrative rather than specific rules. If that weren't the case, we wouldn't have a new topic on fallen paladins every week. Alignment is a narrative concept, and must be dealt with in terms of the narrative. So let's not ignore or trivialize the narrative when dealing with these issues.
Claxon, Malwing and The Crusader are generally correct, while Anzyr does a good job demonstrating the capabilities of such a character. The basic idea of the God Wizard is that, rather than directly intervene in combat, they control combat by empowering friendly combatants (buffs), depowering enemy combatants (debuff), creating more friendly combatants (summoning spells) and creating effects that change the literal and figurative shape of the battlefield (battlefield control) to harass the enemy, separate and divide great numbers of enemies, forcing them into terrain that is disadvantageous (either because they'll be in the effect of a spell or because they'll have to avoid the effect of a spell), etc. Such a wizard is like unto a god, for they defeat enemies not by directly harming them but instead by creating or altering the conditions for defeat, such that they've all but won to begin with. This playstyle usually eschews both SoD spells and blast spells, though exceptions exist in each case.
As another correction, the Schrodinger's Wizard isn't a caster that has a spell for every situation; that would the Batman Wizard. The Schrodinger's Wizard is a cheater that abuses a DM's lack of attention and just casts whatever spells they want. The name is a wordplay on quantum mechanics, specifically the Schrodinger Equation and the superposition of states, which is the concept that a system (in this case, the spellbook) exists in a state composed of two or more basic position-states (in this case, prepared spell lists). When a superposition is observed (in quantum mechanics, this would be achieved by taking a measurement of the system; in Pathfinder, this would be achieved by asking the wizard what spells he has prepared), the superposition itself collapses and acts as if it exists as one of the basic position-states that composed the original superposition.
The Schrodinger's Wizard appears to be a Batman wizard because he always, conveniently (suspiciously so, even) has the ability to cast the correct the spell needed to fix any problem. This is because the character's player is cheating and lying about what spells they actually have prepared.
EDIT: Ninja'd by Cyrad. Also a good description.
You play a very high-level game, Klokk. I believe the usual progression is:
Book 1 - Levels 1-3
There's some variation within that progression, of course, but the APs (with the exception of Wrath of the Righteous, which explicitly goes to level 20, mythic tier 10) usually cap off at about level 16 without some serious DM rewrites. Wardens of the Reborn Forge would cleanly replace book 6, as far as levels are concerned. However, it's very unlikely that the Wardens module will actually fit in well enough with the AP's plot to do so.
Rimethorn, there's been relatively little information about the Mummy's Mask AP revealed, but I doubt that it will play out very much like 'The Mummy', in the sense that the setting elements are very unlikely to resemble British-occupied Egypt in the early 20th century. It's likely to be very pulp, but not very industrial. Like every other AP, however, it will probably be very high-magic, rather than low-fantasy pulp. Wizards will not be out-of-place.
Now, that said, there's definitely a place for the gunslinger within the Mummy's Mask AP; Alkenstar hires out gunslingers as mercenaries, and they're probably not terribly uncommon throughout Garund. Aside from that, the setting itself is set up to be a thematic kitchen sink; it's totally okay for your typical adventuring party to wander into Steampunk Kingdom. If you're uncomfortable with that kind of transition, you can also play up the wild magic/magic-dead element of the Mana Wastes, which adds another wrinkle to playing typical adventurers and might add that touch of low-fantasy you seem to be craving.
The Wormwood Mutiny micromanages the timeline throughout the adventure, but as soon as Book 2 starts, the nature of the game changes completely. All of a sudden, the players are thrust into a potential sandbox. Even with a train conductor of a GM, the transition from day-to-day play is problematic.
My biggest concern is what to do concerning the pacing of the game? Do you play out some of the shipboard scenes between destinations? Do you skip right to the destination? I'm worried that the game will quickly become Adam Sandler's Click: The
On the topic of footwear, the pic that Halae's avatar is taken from comes from Blood of Fiends, in the Social traits chapter if I'm not mistaken. She's wearing some kind of boot or high-heeled shoe made for hooves. It doesn't look bad.
I'm playing a Korvosan devilblooded tiefling in S&S. I opted for human eyes with black sclera and red irises (any Gambit fans?), vestigial horns and prehensile tail. He spews smoke from his sinuses when angry; that's been a lot of fun, and a very memorable quirk.
I don't mind being treated differently; the only time when NPC treatment was a problem was when it was inconsistent. At the beginning of the game, there were no social repercussions at all. About ten days into the voyage, however, the racism came out of nowhere. It was a bit jarring having Sandara Quinn (whom I had saved from being raped previously) accuse me of being a traitor without grounds. I would have rather been treated with hostility from the start than to have to suffer the whiplash, immersion-breaking change.
I enjoy tieflings. They're one of the most inherently varied races (each with some sort of explicit theme that tends to be great roleplay fodder), and canon in-world attitudes about them are just as varied. Frankly, I like them way more than aasimars; maybe I just have a much more finely-grained understanding of evil than of good, but I would find it much easier to create ten distinct tiefling characters than ten distinct aasimar characters.
There are a lot of good ideas being thrown around here.
While it may not be exactly a swashbuckler, I've played an Aldori Swordlord build with Crane Style that was a lot of fun and fulfilled most of the dueling criteria. A lot of people complain about the low DPS, but I didn't mind too much, and the constant disarming worked great, even on groups. Of course, once I got disarmed, things changed very quickly...
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the possibility of utilizing the grit mechanic. Using grit to grant extra actions or temporary bonuses/invulnerability to certain things like AoOs, rough terrain and the like seem like a great way to do things. Especially when combined with the rogue/ninja tricks, you could have a swashbuckler built from a list of grit-fueled combat tricks.
Contrary to the many gunslingers and machinesmiths, I'm interested in playing as either a paladin or inquisitor of Abadar. Especially now that magic works again, or at least it might, it seems like's it time for servant of order to try and tame the Wild, Wild Wastes.
EDIT: And now I've got Bad Company stuck in my head. Rogues and fighters and bards... the gunslinger seems almost boring in comparison!
The fluff text of Golarion has many contradictory origin myths. This is done on purpose. However, Asmodeus is, indeed, a god, as he has his own entry in most of the books on evil gods and has his own deity article in Pathfinder #29, Mother of Flies. The mechanical writing has never portrayed him as anything other than a god. Razmir, on the other hand...
That said, characters in Golarion aren't necessarily aware of the coosmology of the universe they live in. Asmodeus being a devil masquerading as a god could be a fun in-game conspiracy theory. But in-game characters also don't know about mythic levels...
I'm interested! Legacy of Fire is my favorite AP, but I've never gotten a chance to play (on either side of the screen), outside of some very short-lived or slow-moving PbP games. I can get Skype, but I don't have a webcam. Is it a chat-based or audio-visual game?
I have a wizard PC generated specifically for this AP. LG, friendly, with a naughty monkey familiar. He comes pre-packaged with a piece of prose fiction I wrote in place of a conventional backstory. PC is Alem abd-al-Hassan, and you can find him as an alias under my profile.
I've played a fair number of one-on-ones. You can tell a completely different kind of story this way, with a playstyle to match.
Assuming you don't want to depart too terribly much from the usual playstyle, there are a number of options. You can allow the player to control multiple characters, PCs and NPCs alike. A single character can potentially deal a good amount of damage, but they can be overwhelmed very easily. Use lots of low-powered mooks. You can also use a variant HP system that allows a character to recover some amount of HP more quickly.
A good thing to remember is that, when you only have one player, party balance doesn't mean squat. You don't have to worry about making a character too weak or too strong, and the GM can tailor encounters much more easily, as you should easily be able to predict what options the player has available.
You're assuming an overabundance of high-level casters. This isn't Faerun; Golarion is not overrun by mages or clerics. The prominent casters tend to be rulers of some sort (the Ruby Prince is a high-level cleric, Geb and Nex were wizard god-kings, Tar Baphon is probably mythic, Winter Witches in Irrisen, etc.). Even assuming the existence of some high-level casters, there are very few that actually have the power to oppose an entire nation, much less a power bloc, on their own.
You're also ignoring the very probable possibility that the casters could be opposed by others aligned with the armies, and thus the casters do nothing but negate each other, either via counterspelling or an epic magic duel that ultimately doesn't affect the rest of the battle going on. In this sense, casters are more like warplanes and bombers rather than nuclear weapons.
Also, why are these mysterious casters neutral or impartial in the first place? Being individually powerful doesn't automatically make you an uninvolved third party. In fact, given my above point about caster rulers, I'd argue that it's the opposite.
I prefer spontanious because it requires less bookeeping, encourages more thematic choices in spells that say something about the caster as a person, and also specifically because the delayed spell growth rates extends the game's 'sweet spot' by another level or two.
I disagree with the bolded portion here. I feel that wizards, while lacking the baked-in theme of a bloodline, are actually more flavorful. Their greater number of spells in no way reduces their ability to be thematic, and there are plenty of different spellcasters in fiction who seem more like wizards than sorcerers.
Wizards as prepared casters make magic feel deeper, more mysterious, more... arcane. I appreciate the flavor that accompanies them, the erudite academia. Now, a sorcerer is in no way precluded from being a wizened sage locked away in a dusty library; it just doesn't serve their flavor terribly well.
To those who have stated what they're looking for with Mythic, thanks. It wasn't my intention to challenge, merely looking for explanation; rarely are the specifics ever discussed. Now I know (but please, feel free to keep talking about it). Knowing what you want with epic, I now understand that that's just not the type of playstyle that I would enjoy.
Lord Morham - There are too many interesting characters for me to be able to dedicate years to one of them. Multiple in different games, sure. But one character for a decade is just... Then again, my group can't play the same game for more than 3 months.
I'm actually kind of sad to hear about
Wrath of the Righteous:
Louis Lyons wrote:
When the race is defined, from the start, as being Always Evil, this is exactly what you're dealing with.
Furthermore, the anti-genocide argument swings as far in either direction. You, personally, are making the argument that, while not necessarily "good", the extermination of mind flayers is at least not "evil", because they destroy sentient life. But, if one values sentient life, the mindflayers are as much victims as the rest of us. It's not really their fault that the destruction to sentient life is an inherent requirement in their existence.
Basically, you have a mutual exclusion going on. If one is going to place the value of life above everything else, then genocide is unjustified. One could envision a mutual agreement under which the mind flayers are allowed to live with the rest of society. Sure, somebody has to die for a mindflayer to live. That sucks. But at least you're not committing genocide.
What's that? The mind flayers aren't satisfied and they want to take over completely? Sucks for you, because they're still sentient life and they have just as much right to exist as you do. So you either kill or be killed. That doesn't make it right. The fact of the matter is, unless you accept that these creatures are somehow fundamentally evil, there's no way to morally justify killing them. Without the alignment system, nobody's good. We might be neutral, bet we sure aren't good. The only way to be good, in this case, is to lay down and die while a creature that is not good kills you and takes over your body. By rejecting the fundamental alignment system that was created as an intrinsic part of the fictional universe, you eliminate the possibility completely.
Quit trying to justify a moral compromise. Accept that it is a compromise, and move on. You can't have your high road and walk it, too.
What are epic players really looking for? I understand that they want more levels after 20. That's fine, but presumably its because they want published support for material at that power level. What, functionally, are they looking for? What changes between level 20 and level 21? At level 20, spellcasters have access to wish and miracle. They can already turn a fireball into a nuke. Do they want to be able to steamroll entire continents with a single spell? Things seem like they change even less for fighters between 20 and 21.
Is it the challenges? Do they want to be able to take on bigger and stronger opponents? Defeat the gods themselves, perhaps? As James Jacobs has stated, the BBEG that you get to kill in Wrath of the Righteous is
Spoiler:If you can fight that and win, you can do most anything you really want. That's what you can do with Mythic. Maybe they want to be able to take on all the gods at the same time? If the game's power level were calibrated such that the gods were CR 20, would it eliminate the desire for epic rules?
Deskari, a CR 35 demon lord, functionally equivalent to a god of evil.
By your own admission, the system doesn't function the same way as it used to past a certain point. However, nothing in the rules or in the marketing indicate that that's the way it's supposed to work. The assumption is that it should still continue to work. If it doesn't work at high levels the same way it did at low levels, it breaks down. Just because you can still use it for something doesn't mean it isn't broken.
Mathematically, it most certainly does break down. The dice-based system is essentially a weighted random-number generator that we hang a narrative on. Mechanically, with chance increments of 5% per result, there comes a point where you have weighted the random number generator so much that it stops functioning as such. A level 20 fighter has a BAB of 20. His base value holds as much weight as the maximum value that can be possibly generated. Combined with the fact that monsters at higher CRs have ACs that don't scale the same way, the random number generator stops functioning except for a 5% chance of failure/success when you otherwise would have succeeded/failed. That's a broken system.
Maybe your character is just whimsical like that? Maybe she feels that she should stay but doesn't quite know why? It's easy to forget that characters are people too, and they don't always have to make perfect sense. Maybe there's a palpable sense that your work here is not finished. What was she doing before she met up with the party? Is there any overriding need to keep wandering in the woods? Maybe she feels beholden to the area; after all, there was a unicorn hanging out there, and that should count for something. Perhaps she could take on the region as her territory, appointing herself its druidic protector.
magnuskn, my wording was ambiguous, and for that I apologize. I mean that you feel that Salvatore is a bad writer, not because he didn't provide an explanation, but that the explanation provided did not satisfy you personally. Which is a valid opinion. I think it's best that we just drop this whole lazy vs. not lazy discussion; it's run its course and is sufficiently far from the original discussion to no longer be relevant.
LazarX, I was under the impression that Spike was actually a minor character who proved to be exceedingly popular and was thus an ascended bit part and ensemble darkhorse.
On the dinosaurs note, that's not terribly difficult. Earthfall didn't kill everything. It was (relatively) contained. Tian Xia wasn't affected by it. Dinosaurs are found in the most northern reaches of the planet, as far north as the Crown of the World and in the Tusk Mountains in the Realm of the Mammoth Lords. It's likely that they simply didn't feel the effects as much or at all that far away.
The bolded part is exactly why I support the removal of the Always Evil thing when it comes to humanoids.
Interesting. The bolded part is exactly why I support the inclusion of the Always Evil thing in some cases, like goblins and drow.
It seems we disagree on what it means to be inherently evil. So now I'm curious: what does it mean to be unable to choose? Functionally, what does that look like? I favor an interpretation of Always Evil drow in that each of them can choose, and they consistently choose evil. What's an example of something that doesn't have the ability to choose, and is evil because of it? How can we tell that they lack such cognitive faculties?
Mikaze, it seems we're just simply going to have to disagree. You want drow to just be elves with black skin and white hair, while I want drow to be fundamentally different and more than just chocolate elves. I'm glad we've at least gotten to the root of the issue and identified it. I'm sorry that you've had such poor experiences and that games with those elements often veer into territory you don't feel comfortable with. I haven't had those experiences.
magnuskn, the reason I accuse the writers of BtVS of being lazy is because they broke their own rules without intention to do so, without consideration for how it would affect their narrative. They simply weren't paying attention. They didn't write Spike the way they did because they were trying to prove a point about good vs. evil. Initially, it wasn't given any consideration. They didn't even seem to be intentionally writing him as not-evil. Maybe the character ran away with the story; that happens, and I can see a case being made for Spike. The story they wrote may have been more interesting for you as a result, but that's more a case of happy accidents and good things coming out of bad. You yourself have expressed your belief that Salvatore is a bad writer for failing to deliver a satisfactory explanation for Drizz't being different. I would posit that this is similar to the writers of BtVS, the difference being that the Buffy writers, instead of delivering an unsatisfactory explanation, instead tried to reconcile the character of Spike with the pre-written mythology. It's bad writing in both cases that caused the problem.
Matthew, I agree that societal pressure is a very powerful force. However, it seems that there's a functional disconnect between these concepts of existential good and evil where mortals are concerned. The societal argument leads to the question of what 'good' and 'evil' really are, which goes back to the ethical philosophy. That's largely a problem with fantasy settings that allow for and reinforce such concepts as existential moral alignment. RPGs aren't really good for moral philosophy, especially as ambiguous as they often are. They're simply playing with a different set of rules, so to speak.
There's one factor of evolution that nobody seems to have mentioned: timetable. Last I checked, the actual age of Golarion has never been stated. Furthermore, we have multiple conflicting and ambiguous creation myths. Lastly, we have all sorts of magical meddling going on. The evolution question is misapplied in a world where humans were originally the aquatic servants of a race of evil alien fish. The aboleth and the given history of humanity on Golarion indicate that evolution bears no weight here. That's not to say that Golarion and evolution are mutually exclusive, but the problem is likely much more convoluted, even more so than it is on Earth. We still haven't really figured out evolution here.*
Also, it's very interesting that humans evidently didn't have a patron deity until Aroden ascended.
*I'm talking specifics. There's still confusion as to the ancestry of humans, and we still only have relatively rough sketches of evolution on a massive timescale.
On the Sarenite Schism topic, there are many more followers of Sarenrae than there are clerics of Sarenrae. That, in and of itself, allows for a whole lotta confusion. Human error is not an insignificant consideration. I'm fond of the idea of Norgober waging a cold war on Sarenrae by secretly empowering those who are way off base, fomenting unrest, and generally being a troll amongst the gods.
I would agree that it certainly can be lazy thinking, and has been used as such. That doesn't mean it always is. Especially if examples of such evil exist in conjunction with other kinds. I like Spike as much as the next guy, but the Buffy Universe was pretty clear from the beginning that vampires = evil, and Angel was the exception that proved the rule, and he was more of a loophole than an exception. Spike violated the rule they wrote into the universe. I'd argue that that's lazy writing.
Was Lovecraft lazy because he never analyzed Cthulhu's Freudian excuse?
Furthermore, you've still failed to identify what it means to be "inherently evil". Simply disagreeing with my assessment doesn't do anything to further the discussion. My argument stands that choosing to do bad things to other people because it makes you feel good is still an example of inherent evil. It is, in fact, the capacity for self-determination that allows them to be inherently evil. Because they have the choice to do good and yet they choose do evil in spite of that ability, without coercion, they are inherently evil, because they are internally motivated to do evil. And when a whole race of creatures is born this way, it makes the whole race inherently evil. It is this fact which allows for maverick special snowflake good guys in the first place. If the whole race wasn't inherently evil, you lose access to any story founded on being different. The Drizz't problem wasn't that drow were inherently evil, it was that the overwhelming popularity of the exception to the rule forced a paradigm shift. For that matter, I don't recall Drizz't ever being explained. He was simply different. He rejected evil, but his reason for rejecting evil was never explained.* Is that lazy writing? I would say so, for the same reason discussed above.
And still, nobody complains about Always Evil outsiders. Why is that? Everyone's okay with evil demons. How about creatures native to the Material Plane? Nobody complains about evil aboleth. Or evil goblins. It's evil drow almost exclusively.
*I only read the Icewind Dale trilogy. If it was explained later, please correct me.
Urist The Unstoppable wrote:
You can still have them have an evil culture without being inherently evil. I don't like the idea of something having free will but unable to be nice at all.
You're comfortable with things actively and deliberately choosing to murder, rape, steal? That sounds like "inherently evil" to me.
Yeah, I find the concept of "inherently evil" to be very poor storytelling, too, unless it is an outsider. And even there exist some corner cases, if not we wouldn't get redeemed fiends or fallen celestials. Free will is a very important factor to life.
What, exactly, does "inherently evil" even mean? It's a concept that doesn't really exist in the world. Are sociopaths inherently evil? Sociopaths are generally considered to be 'malfunctioning' in some way; for a number of reasons, they display antisocial behavior, and on the extreme end, may seem to be "evil". Nobody forced them into this behavior; in truth, there's very little one can do to coerce somebody into being "evil". The choice is always still there, you can always choose to not steal a cookie/say mean things to people/eat the census taker's liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti. That said, there's evidence that sociopaths have significantly different neuroanatomy that "causes" their behavior.
Any way you slice it, this is going to come down to ethical philosophy. What is evil? What makes a person evil? Who decides what evil is and isn't? Why is it that, just because I like to hear the sounds of dying babies, I'm evil? I mean, Conan just loves listening to the lamentations of his enemies' women, but that doesn't make him evil.
"Inherently evil" is a storytelling device. That much we agree on. But I disagree that it's "lazy" storytelling. For it to be lazy storytelling, it has to be a shortcut to doing work, in this case to explain an evil motive. This suggests your belief that evil must be externally motivated, or at least be explained by a Freudian excuse. In my opinion, this is a total cop-out. It excuses "evil" by reducing it to something that you can understand and possibly sympathize with. In doing so, you drop the ball on holding "evil" accountable. Sure, there are plenty of rationalizations for evil. But to force the concept of evil to adhere to rational motive? To disregard, out of hand, anything potentially worse than that? By definition, evil is everything that is wrong and bad. It is abhorrent, vile, disgusting, and disturbing. By reducing it, you neuter it into a form that is more comfortable to you, as though evil is something you're supposed to be comfortable with. If you can't stomach it, that's fine. But please don't accuse me of laziness, simply because I allow such irredeemable horror to exist.
I like Golarion quite a bit. If it came down to having to choose between the ruleset or the campaign setting, I'd be running Golarion with a different ruleset. I started playing AD&D 2e in 2007, and the group I play with has gone through serious growing pains. But we've settled down and Golarion is my RPG home. My DM has some serious love for some pre-Spelllplague FR, though.
Aaron Scott 139 wrote:
I wonder how useful a rogue would be in this setting. This feels like a setting for holy rollers and face pounders and uber spells. Is the rogue a good fit here?
Totally! There isn't much that's immune to a good old-fashioned sneak attack, and there's a prC for Low Templars, folks who come to Mendev for less-than-righteous reasons. The Crusade has been plagued with internal conflict, and a sizable portion of the crusaders are people you wouldn't want to meet alone in a dark alley. Try "The Worldwound Gambit" for some Worldwound rogue action.
I'm interested in going for a Kellid. Possibly barbarian, but summoner is also extremely flavorful. God-caller? Synthesist drawing on the might of his ancestors? I'd like to be cursed with an Abyssal disease, looking to die in glorious battle rather than waste away as an infirm. I hope we get some new curses/diseases for this one; that's kind of Deskari's thing.
There's plenty of not-good in Mendev. There's a whole PrC dedicated to the Low Templars, the not-so-righteous members of the crusade. It's well-known that a good portion of those coming to fight aren't in it for the right reasons.
There's definitely lots of room for a paladin, but it's by no means the "paladin path". You could play an inquisitor of Iomedae who's joined up with the Burners (think Salem witch trials in the worst way), a criminal from Lastwall sent to fight to work off his punishment, a mercenary in it for the gold, a Kellid barbarian descended from the people of Sarkoris (the barbarian kingdom that got wiped off the map when the Worldwound opened). A vocal minority here on the boards are going to be playing followers of Asmodeus. There's lots of room for characters of all stripes.
Personally, I like that the drow were evil to the last man (elf). I'm not advocating racism or genocide. I try to be a good person. But I personally found it refreshing that the setting allowed for a race of evil. Lots of people seem to think that that's a straitjacketing proposition, a race of automatically-evil creatures. But really, it's liberating; it adds more options, specifically the option to not have to justify being totally evil. Sometimes you just want to play a bad guy. Not Freudian excuse, just a really bad attitude. We all have those days, and sometimes less is more when it comes to RP.
It's all well and good if you want drow to be more sympathetic, with at least some capacity for redemption. But I prefer to preserve some degree of acceptable target syndrome. That's just how I like my fantasy. People don't seem to question the rampant slaughter of orcs in LotR. Nor do they seem to disagree with the Pathfinder goblins, who are hilarious but very much Always Neutral Evil. That's one thing I love so much about them.
The issue hinges on the nature of philosophical concepts such as good and evil. In the real world, these are immaterial considerations, highly nuanced and horrendously vague. But in Pathfinder, Good and Evil, Law and Chaos, these are fundamental properties of the universe. They're as real as fire, water, earth and air. If you're Evil, you're made of evil. You can't change that any more than an earth elemental can be made of air. It seems that this gets glossed over for denizens of the Material Plane, but that's because mortals aren't made of evil. Mortals are fundamentally malleable. So why are red dragons always chaotic evil? Why are goblins always neutral evil? Do they have to be? Those are questions for you to answer for yourself. The developers have given us their take on what makes drow Always Evil. I, for one, am content to let Evil be evil. It's just more fun for me that way. Evil gives the drow their racial identity. Because, without Evil, what are drow? They're elves with black skin and white hair. It's like the difference between Garundi and Avistani; cosmetic and cultural, but ultimately just another flavor of human. And I want more from drow than just chocolate elves. More like a gingersnap cookie. The kind that hurts just a little bit, makes you want another bite. An Evil cookie, if you will.