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Juju Oracles, White Necromancers, and non-evil undead(and variants) in Golarion


Pathfinder Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Contributor

Ashiel wrote:

EXACTLY! You get it! Undead are not innately scarier or more evil than FIRE! It's all in how it is used. You might use fire to cook your food, or to light your streets, making those things less scary (no raw food to infect you, no dark streets to unsettle you), or it might be one of the most terrifying things (arsonist sets your house on fire and you fear for your life and the life of your family).

I think we finally understand each other. :)

EDIT: Probably why plenty of people are afraid of spellcasters and such in lots of stories. Magic can be really awesome. Or it could melt your face. It's the threat of the unknown (magic) and what it could be used for.

It should be pointed out, however, that this is just a different argument on how to make uncontrolled mindless undead dangerous without having them actually be evil, depending on your definition of evil.

Basically, they're poison in the form of unlife. If poison is evil, then so is unlife. If poison isn't evil, then neither is unlife, though both are dangerous and bad for living things.

That said, sometimes living things are bad for other living things, so the best thing for the other living things is to kill the living things you don't want with something like poison or unlife. Dousing a weed with weedkiller or killing vermin with pesticide.

The trouble is, while undead creatures may be drawn to living creatures to either feed on their life or snuff it out, this isn't actively malicious. A skeleton doesn't go in for emotional cruelty, and if a vampire does, it's just because he's a jerk.

Now, with fiends being a jerk it's part of the job description. Demons, devils, and daemons all delight in emotional cruelty because they want to destroy the soul, or capture it, or eat it, or some combination thereof.

Of course, there are some undead who want to do that too. Devourers spring to mind, and wraiths like attacking people and raising up new tortured wraiths from those they kill to attack more people.

The only way this wraith business works out logically is if you go with the whole "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men" shadow theory where even the nicest and sweetest person has some inner wickedness, and when a wraith kills them and raises their soul as its spawn, all that's left is that inner wickedness. The light is pretty much snuffed out. Kind of like the devourer wants to do with the whole soul, but the wraith only eats the bright bits.

The same thing can happen with vampires so that all that's left is the nasty and wicked portion of their souls. If they were evil to begin with, probably no one notices the difference. If they were good, there'll be a significant personality shift.

Pretty much you can do that with all the sentient undead and it will work so that paladins can smite them all day long.

Of course, with the mindless undead, it's still problematic. They can slaughter people all day long, snuffing life after life, but that doesn't make them evil anymore than a sword is evil.

Then again, it's an accepted fantasy trope that a sword can be evil. Even a rock can be evil, composed of pure evil from the Abyss.

If mindless rocks and mindless swords can be evil, it follows the same logic that mindless skeletons can be evil. That they run around and kill living things is just a fringe benefit.


In said fantasy tropes, a sword is generally evil because it's infused with all manner of evilness. However, stuffing a sword full of lots of presumably neutral magic generally results in a +1 sword. :P


Jeff Erwin wrote:


Friendly, talky or non-hungry undead = Terry Pratchett.

Vicious, murderous, sneaky undead = Pathfinder.

You never read Carpe Jugulum, did you?

Taldor Contributor

Fabius Maximus wrote:
Jeff Erwin wrote:


Friendly, talky or non-hungry undead = Terry Pratchett.

Vicious, murderous, sneaky undead = Pathfinder.

You never read Carpe Jugulum, did you?

Oh, I did. But the general rule does apply.

Osirion

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Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

The only way this wraith business works out logically is if you go with the whole "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men" shadow theory where even the nicest and sweetest person has some inner wickedness, and when a wraith kills them and raises their soul as its spawn, all that's left is that inner wickedness. The light is pretty much snuffed out. Kind of like the devourer wants to do with the whole soul, but the wraith only eats the bright bits.

The same thing can happen with vampires so that all that's left is the nasty and wicked portion of their souls. If they were evil to begin with, probably no one notices the difference. If they were good, there'll be a significant personality shift.

That's an interesting way of trying to suss out why a paladin, killed by a shadow or wraith, generates a shadow or wraith that is evil, *immediately,* without the paladins personality in life having any sway at all.

My fanwank would be that the shadow or wraith flat-out kills the paladin, and the soul goes winging off to whereever paladin souls go, and that the shadow or wraith is a new creature, generated and given power by the stolen life-energies, and spun off from the generating undead (which might also explain the link they share, and how the new spawn is subordinate to its maker).

That would also explain why not only the alignment changes, but also the Hit Dice and the Intelligence scores. A 6th level Int 20 elven wizard killed by a shadow is replaced by a 3 HD Int 6 shadow. An Int 8 orcish warrior 1 killed by a wraith is replaced by an Int 14 wraith with 5 Hit Dice.

The NG super-genius mid-level elven soul goes on to elven soul-heaven, while the CE lower-HD moaning imbecile shadow is created at the moment of his death.

The undead spawned at the moment of a person's death might have flashes of memory from the person that died, and might even *believe* that it is the tortured soul of that being, or a fragment of the soul of that being, but it's no more the actual soul of that being than the spiritual debris left behind in the corpse that the speak with dead spell contacts and communicates with. The soul-in-heaven (or hell) is unaware that someone is interrogating it's bones with speak with dead or has animated it's bones with animate dead or that there is a specter wailing around the planet with their face.

Ghosts and vampires could be exceptions, as well as other templated undead that can retain the intelligence, personality, class abilities, intelligence, etc. of the person they once were.

Even then, there's plenty of precedent in ghost and vampire lore for them to be 'echoes left behind' or 'soulless creatures.' So, depending on how the GM wants his cosmology to work, even ghosts and vampires don't *have* to have the souls of the guises they wear.

Alternately, instead of undead personalities being 'spun off' from the parent creature, with each shadow-spawn being a bit of the shadow that generated them, perhaps there's a plane out there teeming with shadows and wraiths and spectres just waiting for their chance to pour into this world, and with each person killed by a shadow, wraith or spectre, a tiny portal between this world and that opens for just a second, allowing one of these creatures to squeeze through. Ancient tradition (or some mystical compact, or whatever) requires that those who are 'spawned' in this fashion owe servitude to the one who opened the door and let them into this world. All shadows, wraiths and spectres are the same alignment, intelligence and hit die, regardless of the alignment, intelligence or HD of the creature that died to 'open the door' and let them in, because that's the alignment, Int and HD that they had all the time, waiting on the other side of the barrier between our worlds, biding their time and scratching ineffectually at the barrier, desperate to get in.

Under that paradigm, the 'barrier' that keeps them from swarming into our world might not be indestructible, and the Create Spawn mechanic might serves as a 'pressure release,' allowing a (relatively) few through, to take pressure off of the barrier. If none were able to spawn, the strain on the barrier might increase to the point where it collapses, and they pour by the hundreds or thousands into our world, until the barrier can 'heal up.' Random devastating undead breakouts of this sort are remembered in lore as horrible events, but it's possible that the mortal races haven't yet noticed that they only seem to happen after glorious times when undead *seemed* to have been utterly eradicated in an area, causing dangerous build ups on the other side of the barrier...

Or not.

In any event, I prefer that souls not be easily mucked with. Fortunately, the mechanics seem to flow with the idea that undead, for the vast majority of cases, are not souls, but just new creatures that form upon the death of a mortal person.

Most could think of us less as 'who I used to be' and more like 'the crawlway I snuck through to get here.'

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Set wrote:
In any event, I prefer that souls not be easily mucked with.

I understand that. But then again, souls in peril are a powerful story driving trope. That's why Harker putting down his wife in Bram Stoker's Dracula is an act of love as opposed to just killing another monster. He was liberating Mina from her undead existence, that was twisting her into the exact opposite of the loving woman she was in life.

Contributor

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Well, with the stuff left behind in the body just being "spiritual debris" and not a soul, it all depends on what you mean by "soul."

For example, the ancient Eqyptian concept of the soul was that it had five parts. And Taoism believes in two. And there are many other conceptions of the soul as well.

While it's possible to postulate shadows as all beings that break through from some other plane when someone dies, it's also possible to postulate them as a part or portion of a soul. The wizard without a shadow is an old folklore motif, and it even exists to an extent within the game world with the shadowdancer being able to animate his own shadow.

If, in one of my games, I had a character who had somehow lost his shadow, and then he was killed by an undead shadow, I wouldn't have a shadow rise up as a monster from his corpse because there's no shadow there to rise.

Similarly, if someone were killed by a shadow and had that shadow rise up as an undead monster, and their body were later reanimated via some literally ungodly process like alchemy that doesn't check for the soul's permission like the usual Raise Dead spells, I'd have them come back without their shadow, and I'd make them go on a quest to find it, smack it down, and get it to follow them at their heels like it's supposed to.

Osirion

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Similarly, if someone were killed by a shadow and had that shadow rise up as an undead monster, and their body were later reanimated via some literally ungodly process like alchemy that doesn't check for the soul's permission like the usual Raise Dead spells, I'd have them come back without their shadow, and I'd make them go on a quest to find it, smack it down, and get it to follow them at their heels like it's supposed to.

That's a hot idea. And yeah, the Egyptian khaibit thing was kinda what I was thinking of with the idea of some sort of 'soul-debris' left behind in a corpse after the 'real' soul goes off to the upper or lower planes.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Mikaze wrote:
Those reduced below zero hit points by the lashings of a thornskal slowly transform into small flowering plants, commonly rosebushes or another species appropriate to the environment.

Gah, shouldn't post while half-awake. This should be "at negative-CON" rather than zero, since that would make them more powerful than vanilla morghs. That way it works as a straight replacement for their spawning ability.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A tidbit from earlier editions of the game: It used to be that not all undead were tied to the Neg Plane. Mummies, and maybe wights?, were powered by a connection to the Positive Material Plane.

Osirion

Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
A tidbit from earlier editions of the game: It used to be that not all undead were tied to the Neg Plane. Mummies, and maybe wights?, were powered by a connection to the Positive Material Plane.

I believe that was because the positive material plane was seen as the source of *life,* and the mummy, via it's disease touch, was technically creating life every time it created disease.

3.X 'fixed' that, and now negative energy, raw seething life-hating anti-life, can *also* create living cells and tissue.

In an attempt to make the game seem more superficially consistent (undead and icky slimy gross things must be evil / negative energy!), they made it thematically less so (life-hating anti-life can create life!).

In Golarion, where there's a single goddess of both disease and undeath, the connection is even more explicit. Like Pharasma, Urgathoa is a goddess of both the living *and* the dead. She's just got much worse PR, 'cause Pharasma, as goddess of birth, has chubby smiling babies as her connection to life, while Urgathoa has only icky gross single-celled organisms.

And as Hollywood teaches us, pretty things are more worthy of our adoration.

Contributor

Assuming you can have polytheistic priestess, but also that you must be in one alignment step of your god to have prayers answered, this means that all midwives and obstetricians are by necessity Neutral Evil. At least following this logic:

1. Pray to CE Lamashtu for aid in conception and also to prevent the child from being monstrously deformed.

2. Pray to N Pharasma that the mother doesn't miscarry, have a stillbirth, or die in childbirth.

3. Pray to NE Urgathoa that the mother will not get childbed fever and the child will not be born with congenital syphilis or any other disease(s) the mother may carry.

Of course, if you don't allow polytheistic priestesses, or you have a lot of money and want to avoid dealing with anyone evil at least directly, you hire the NG priestess of Pharasma, the N priestess of Urgathoa, and the CN priestess of Lamashtu for all your obstetrics needs. I assume this is the option for queens and the wives of wealthy merchants who can also afford a few paladins to make sure none of those evil priestesses sneak through.

Andoran

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:


1. Pray to CE Lamashtu for aid in conception and also to prevent the child from being monstrously deformed.

This is really not who you pray to for this. You pray to Lamashtu only if you want the baby monstrously deformed, as she likes her babies that way. She considers deformity a blessing, after all.

Praying for her not to do so is like praying to Asmodeus to free the slaves...it's actively against both their interests and personal beliefs to aquiesce to your request. So they won't.

Praying to Urgathoa to avoid disease does seem totally workable, though. Though so is praying to one of the Gods who really dislikes disease to purge any such, of course.

Osirion

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:


1. Pray to CE Lamashtu for aid in conception and also to prevent the child from being monstrously deformed.
This is really not who you pray to for this. You pray to Lamashtu only if you want the baby monstrously deformed, as she likes her babies that way. She considers deformity a blessing, after all.

In the real world, this sort of 'worship' is probably better called propitiation. You aren't making an offering to a god of wrath or plague or misfortune because you want to be smited or diseased or cursed, but to placate and appease them, and, by offering them praise and gifts, basically bribing them to leave you (or your child, or your village, or whatever) out of their wrath-y, smite-y, plague-y plans.

In Golarion, I suspect most ship captains who toss some coins to the shrine of Besmara don't do that because they are all 'Woo, pirates and sea monsters! Yay!' but because they want to appease Besmara and sort of 'pay her to look the other way' before they set sail.

Some gods, such as Rovagug or Cthulhu might have a 'fine, I'll eat you *last*' sort of ethic about such matters (at best...), but more selfish ones, like Norgorber or Urgathoa, might find it far more useful to have living people fearfully continuing to honor them in secret, than to just kill everyone who prays to them.

Evil gods, after all, aren't robots.

And Lamashtu isn't a dummy. If otherwise good and neutral people are praying to her to not disfigure their children, that's a 'good' thing, in her eyes. Propitiation could be seen as the 'gateway drug' to full on worship.

Plus there's still madness, a much less obvious affliction she can pass on to the children of those who offend her...

Andoran

@Set:

I'm familiar with the practice. Hence my note that the prayer to Urgathoa to avoid disease would be fine, as she's a reasonable sort of God and not completely obsessed with disease always being awesome under all circumstances. And I agree on Besmara being susceptible to such as well. :)

But, per her description, Lamashtu is crazy. And very explicitly the Goddess of Dark fertility. She'd be offended by the very idea that people wouldn't want her 'gifts' on their children. It's debatable if she even wants people who'd pray for something like that as followers.

I mean if she were inclined to the kind of long-term planning you're talking about regarding acquiring worshippers, then people who prayed to her for fertility or safety in childbirth wouldn't get deformed children out of the deal. She'd work the soft sell instead, with the children perfectly fine looking...but with a dark yearning for, say, bestiality and sex with gnolls. Or, as you say, madness.

But all evidence seems to suggest that Lamashtu doesn't do the soft sell. She doesn't soften the harsh truths of what she is or believes or represents simply to acquire worshippers, that's not her style. She'll conceal her presence and cults if she must (and is quite good at it, with the whole Trickery domain) but she is what she is.

She might well make a child who someone prayed to her to not make deformed be both deformed and mad, to simultaneously bless the child and punish the parent for daring to invoke her for such a thing.

And then of course there's the fact that she's not actually the Goddess of deformity per se, merely of madness and certain sorts of physical mutation. Not all deformed children are her handiwork at all, and so it's likely she actually lacks the capacity to grant such a request even if she wanted to (well, any more than any other God could).

All in all, based on what we know of her, Lamashtu seems to me to be someone who you don't propiate like this but instead never even mention for fear of drawing her attention. Unless you want her particular blessings, of course...

Osirion

Deadmanwalking wrote:

But all evidence seems to suggest that Lamashtu doesn't do the soft sell. She doesn't soften the harsh truths of what she is or believes or represents simply to acquire worshippers, that's not her style.

[SNIP]
All in all, based on what we know of her, Lamashtu seems to me to be someone who you don't propiate like this but instead never even mention for...

Good points, all, and, I'll be the first to admit, I often don't 'get' Chaotic Evil at all. The mindset seems very counter-productive, and while there is often the argument made in paladin threads that good does not necessarily equal dumb, it's much harder to argue that Chaotic Evil isn't, almost invariably, very, very dumb, and most often portrayed as utterly incapable of any sort of long-term planning or deferred gratification or subversive shenanigans in service to a bigger end-goal.

I can play all sorts of characters of all sorts of wildly different belief systems or moral or ethical bents, but I struggle to understand self-defeating impulse-driven 'evil-for-the-lulz' characters, and that's pretty much the definition of CE.

Andoran

Set wrote:
I can play all sorts of characters of all sorts of wildly different belief systems or moral or ethical bents, but I struggle to understand self-defeating impulse-driven 'evil-for-the-lulz' characters, and that's pretty much the definition of CE.

But that's exactly what it is: For the lulz. For fun. Really, a lot of CE folks are just as laid-back and fun-loving as the classic CG womanizing dunkard ala Cayden Cailean. His particular recreations are just called atrocities by other people. This doesn't have to be stupid (or even impulsive) any more than the CG version does...but it does tend more towards improvisation than deeply laid plans.

Now, the 'happy-go-lucky' version is only one possibility. I mean, I've seen some pretty intense and grim CG folks, and a CE guy can be very much the say as a nihilistic zealot of his awful God, or a vengeance obsessed nutjob who cares for nothing but his quest and would happily kill babies if it got him what he wanted, or a dozen other possibilities. But the core mentality that seems most prevalent really is pretty much "I'm having fun!"

Have you ever watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Angelus is a great example of a smart and effective CE guy of the 'happy-go-lucky' sort. He's really just having a blast messing with people, for the most part.

Taldor Contributor

Set wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:


1. Pray to CE Lamashtu for aid in conception and also to prevent the child from being monstrously deformed.
This is really not who you pray to for this. You pray to Lamashtu only if you want the baby monstrously deformed, as she likes her babies that way. She considers deformity a blessing, after all.

In the real world, this sort of 'worship' is probably better called propitiation. You aren't making an offering to a god of wrath or plague or misfortune because you want to be smited or diseased or cursed, but to placate and appease them, and, by offering them praise and gifts, basically bribing them to leave you (or your child, or your village, or whatever) out of their wrath-y, smite-y, plague-y plans.

In Golarion, I suspect most ship captains who toss some coins to the shrine of Besmara don't do that because they are all 'Woo, pirates and sea monsters! Yay!' but because they want to appease Besmara and sort of 'pay her to look the other way' before they set sail.

Some gods, such as Rovagug or Cthulhu might have a 'fine, I'll eat you *last*' sort of ethic about such matters (at best...), but more selfish ones, like Norgorber or Urgathoa, might find it far more useful to have living people fearfully continuing to honor them in secret, than to just kill everyone who prays to them.

Evil gods, after all, aren't robots.

And Lamashtu isn't a dummy. If otherwise good and neutral people are praying to her to not disfigure their children, that's a 'good' thing, in her eyes. Propitiation could be seen as the 'gateway drug' to full on worship.

Plus there's still madness, a much less obvious affliction she can pass on to the children of those who offend her...

This is exactly how childbirth/child illness goddesses operate in South Asia. The Buddhist Hariti is a prime example, but many of the Matrikis - emanations of the mother goddess - were specifically associated with certain illnesses and the deaths of children. Over time, the fact that they could cause illness became less important than the fact that they could also prevent it, at least in terms of worshiping them. They shifted from NE to N or NG in effective alignment as they became part of female culture and were seen as protectors rather than embodiments of danger. But this example shows how worshiping Lamashtu to prevent birth defects actually would lead in the RW to her becoming a non-evil entity. It is - nonetheless - how many cultures operate - who better to pay off than the patrons of disasters?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's canonical that if you're demonically inclined or just low on gods in general and you don't want deformed kids, you propitiate Pazuzu to keep Lamashtu away. Just like they did in Babylon.

Contributor

Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
It's canonical that if you're demonically inclined or just low on gods in general and you don't want deformed kids, you propitiate Pazuzu to keep Lamashtu away. Just like they did in Babylon.

True, though this is only something you'd do after you've already conceived. If you haven't conceived and are having fertility problems, there doesn't seem to be another god on the block who helps with the whole "conception" thing.

I mean, let's go down the list:

Abadar: Might help you buy a child for adoption, or buy a fertility potion, but conceive one yourself? No.

Asmodeus: Would probably help you conceive or grant any other wish in return for your soul. This really sounds like a bad idea.

Calistria: Will happily help you get laid. What happens after that? Well, if Luck is a factor, she can help, but if you and your partner are having fertility troubles that are beyond Luck, then likewise "No."

Cayden Cailean: Will help you get drunk. This may help with making a baby, but not if you're really having fertility issues. Could help with male potency issues.

Desna: Again, will give you Luck. If that's not enough, oh well.

Erastil: Would probably help you find an orphan to adopt, and without money like Abadar wants either.

Gorum: Gorum doesn't do babies. That's women stuff. But oh yeah on the male potency.

Gozreh: Really more interested in plant and animal fertility than human fertility. Could possibly provide some healing and assistance to worshipers of either sex. But it's really not what he's known for.

Iomedae: How can a woman be battle-ready if she's pregnant? What an inappropriate request. Ask a fertility goddess.

Irori: If there's something physically wrong with the sexual organs, Irori will heal those, the same as any other part of the body. But conception is a tricky business and nothing is certain.

Lamashtu: You want babies? Lamashtu can help you! Come on down! Monstrous babies our specialty!

Nethys: Nethys will tell you the most favorable time for conceiving and also whether you will conceive or not.

Norgorber: Conception? No. Abortion? Yes.

Pharasma: Some healing can be done, certainly, but the Lady of Graves will also tell you if you're not fated to have a child and how you should get used to that fate, even if it's not one you want.

Rovagug: Yes! Sacrifice more babies!

Sarenrae: Sarenrae does healing, so it's possible, especially if you look at her name "Dawnflower" as being a goddess of beginnings, which would certainly include conception. A possibility, though not a guarantee against monstrous children, so long as they are healthy and good.

Shelyn: The Eternal Rose can grant you luck and protection. That may help with conception, but not health or non-monstrousness. You could give birth to a sickly, albeit beautiful, winged gnoll.

Torag: The father of creation is more interested in crafting than conception.

Urgathoa: Um, goddess of undeath and disease. Unless you're trying to conceive an undead-blooded sorcerer--in which case she'll totally help--sex between living creatures and bearing children? Not really something she can relate to.

Zon-Kuthon: Ooh, painful sex, painful pregnancy, painful labor! Zon-Kuthon will help you get a child so long as you submit to pain and torture! What, you want the child to not be a tortured cripple? And to live?

Now that I've looked at it, I can see a priestess of Sarenrae helping with conception. New beginnings would seem to be part of the Dawnflower's implied interests. And given that conception takes place in the body, this is something Irori would also be interested in. He might require some tantric sex, but it would be more serene and disciplined than kinky.

That said, Lamashtu is the only goddess who advertises herself as a fertility goddess first and foremost. It's not unreasonable to assume that she's a little bit better at it than everyone else, given her degree of practice, and moreover she's the one who will perk up her jackal-pointed ears the moment she hears anyone anywhere ask for a child.

Pharasma? Seriously, she acts like a post-menopausal spinster aunt. She's not someone you'd go for advice on sex, help conceiving, or help preventing conception apart from her, as goddess of prophecy, reading her tea leaves and telling you whether you will or won't get pregnant.

The only specifically good mother goddess was Shelyn's mom who's now dead. Shelyn, as goddess of love, is certainly not against sex, but only if the participants love each other, and from the way she acts, she's a virgin goddess. Not in the not-getting-any/never-getting-any manner of Iomedae, but more in the romantic courtly love sense where she's saving herself for her wedding night or at least until she gets some other god to pledge his eternal love. And the only eligible bachelor god she'd be interested in would be Cayden Cailean, who's sort of Archie to Shelyn's Betty and Calistria as bad-girl Veronica.

Of course this line of reasoning leads to thinking of Golarion as Riverdale with Norgorber as Reggie and Pharasma as Miss Grundy.


Is it odd that I find it silly to think of Lamashtu aiding in child conception, when the actual goddess named Lamashtu is way more famous for killing babies?

Wikipedia: Lamashtu wrote:

Lamashtu's father was the Sky God Anu (Sumer An). Unlike many other usual demonic figures and depictions in Mesopotamian lore, Lamashtu was said to act in malevolence of her own accord, rather than at the gods' instructions. Along with this her name was written together with the cuneiform determinative indicating deity.[2] This means she was a goddess or a demigoddess in her own right.[3]

She bore seven names and was described as seven witches in incantations. Her evil deeds included (but were not limited to), slaying children, unborns, and neonates, causing harm to mothers and expectant mothers, eating men and drinking their blood, disturbing sleep, bringing nightmares, killing foliage, infesting rivers and lakes, and being a bringer of disease, sickness, and death.[3]

Pazuzu, a god or demon, was invoked to protect birthing mothers and infants against Lamashtu's malevolence, usually on amulets and statues. Although Pazuzu was said to be bringer of famine and drought, he was also invoked against evil for protection, and against plague, but he was primarily and popularly invoked against his fierce, malicious, rival Lamashtu.[4]

Deadman Walking wrote:
She'd work the soft sell instead, with the children perfectly fine looking...but with a dark yearning for, say, bestiality and sex with gnolls.

Well, we got druids and last time I checked gnolls were Humanoid creature types. The furries shall rejoice. ^-^

EDIT:

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Of course this line of reasoning leads to thinking of Golarion as Riverdale with Norgorber as Reggie and Pharasma as Miss Grundy.

Well to be fair, that's about what they are. It's incredibly hard to respect most of the deities in Golarion for their own merits.

Contributor

Ashiel wrote:
Is it odd that I find it silly to think of Lamashtu aiding in child conception, when the actual goddess named Lamashtu is way more famous for killing babies?

No, not odd, but since moving to Golarion, she had to give up her baby-killin' portfolio to Urgathoa. And anyway, Lamashtu's baby killin' was related to Lilith's baby killin' which was partially spite because she was supposed to have been the mother of humanity but was fired for bein' uppity and was then replaced by Eve and partially because she took the souls of all those kids she slew to raise them up as her own kids, the incubi and succubi.

But if she's actually fertile instead of barren, the impetus for killin' babies sort of goes out the window. She'd rather that they were all her children.

Ashiel wrote:
Deadman Walking wrote:
She'd work the soft sell instead, with the children perfectly fine looking...but with a dark yearning for, say, bestiality and sex with gnolls.
Well, we got druids and last time I checked gnolls were Humanoid creature types. The furries shall rejoice. ^-^

I think the easiest way to accomplish this is for Lamashtu to reincarnate the souls of dead monsters as the children of women who pray to her for completely human children. Congratulations, your son is completely human. Well, except for those vivid memories from his past life when he was a manticore....

Andoran

Ashiel wrote:


Well, we got druids and last time I checked gnolls were Humanoid creature types. The furries shall rejoice. ^-^

*snrk* Gnolls aren't exactly what most furries are into I don't think...

Ashiel wrote:
Well to be fair, that's about what they are. It's incredibly hard to respect most of the deities in Golarion for their own merits.

Huh? How so? I quite like Golarion's gods as a whole. Some of them are dicks or incompetent, sure, but that's sorta how Gods have always been mythologically speaking.

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
I think the easiest way to accomplish this is for Lamashtu to reincarnate the souls of dead monsters as the children of women who pray to her for completely human children. Congratulations, your son is completely human. Well, except for those vivid memories from his past life when he was a manticore....

Ha! I can totally see something like that (only probably worse). My general point is that Lamashtu would not be happy with such prayers and her response would be unpleasant. I think this definitely qualifies (assuming they kept any unpleasant predilections from their previous lives).

Osirion

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Ashiel wrote:


Well, we got druids and last time I checked gnolls were Humanoid creature types. The furries shall rejoice. ^-^

*snrk* Gnolls aren't exactly what most furries are into I don't think...

Just think of them as hyenas, which, while not known for it, can be cute.

Andoran

Set wrote:
Just think of them as hyenas, which, while not known for it, can be cute.

I actually love Hyenas (though not that way) and think they're adorable.

But Gnolls tend to be both filthy and deformed in at least some minor way. They're the opposite of cute, for the most part.
.
.
.
And nevertheless I now suddenly have the desire to play a Gnoll Bard with high Charisma and a propensity for out-of-species romance. Or a Gnoll Inquisitor of Calistria or Shelyn with similar tendencies. I blame you guys.

Silver Crusade

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I experimented with Deathless, and shocked my tomb raiding players, they were supposed to retreve a holy artifact from the saint it was interred with.
problem was, and they'd been warned of it, the tomb was protected by guardians. so they went preped for riddle asking shynxes, traps, the occasional trial etc.
little did they realize that a regiment of crusaders, who pledged their after-lives to guard the tomb against ALL intruders was what they faced. they had become various forms of Deathless that I kinda made up on the fly, this was back in 3.5 of course.
I remember the Knight they nicknamed Meteor, he a positive ghiest who animated his own armor and when they stood outside said "where in the nine hells is the guardian? there's always a guardian to unlock these things."
He promptly announced his presence by kicking a door off it's hinges three stories up (a small turet used for defence when the crusaders were alive). Then swan diving three stories to the stone lance pointing down in what in life would have been a suicide drop. Yelling "your challange is accepted"
He went toe to toe with the team especally after the rouge failed his dex check with 1 and got flattened, not killed, but knocked to -2 and bleeding.
His first action was to cast Virtue to stablize the rouge, and then charged the party.
The entire fight went on with him encouraging the adventurers "ahhh solid hit" "Jolly good show." and all that.

other "white dead" they fought included "Eternal" a zombie crossbowman who used cover and traps he used his DR to great advantage against return fire.
"The Mourner" was an interisting challange. I just made her up on the fly, she looked like a priestess robe and corset with wispy light inside. Her gaze let her look into someone's soul and she told you exactly what you did NOT want to hear. good charcters were shaken, nuteral were stunned, evil just had a mental breakdown. her chamber was full of dead evildoers who had just curled up and died in the fetal position. her weakness was that she could only focus on one person at a time. so solo villans who came here before the party were just torn down by her.

Osirion

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Vulpae wrote:
"The Mourner" was an interisting challange. I just made her up on the fly, she looked like a priestess robe and corset with wispy light inside. Her gaze let her look into someone's soul and she told you exactly what you did NOT want to hear. good charcters were shaken, nuteral were stunned, evil just had a mental breakdown. her chamber was full of dead evildoers who had just curled up and died in the fetal position. her weakness was that she could only focus on one person at a time. so solo villans who came here before the party were just torn down by her.

That one's awesome. It reminds me of the Ghost Rider and his 'penance stare,' a weapon that's more effective on evil people, and less so on those who have less to feel guilty about.

Silver Crusade

pretty much set, I actually had to make the comparison for the players the rouge was feeling pretty brused after the knight and eternal, "you've been subtly backstabbing your "friends" ever since you met. oh and remember the girl in Saivo? and how you punched that begger just for a laugh? basicly your character is suffering all the emotional pain he inflicted on others, just be glad you aren't an anti-paladin."
"it's still not fair..."
"to be honest I didn't think anyone would actually play evil..."
"then why are you smiling?"
"because sombody did..."


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Hahah, I dig it. I'll have to gank that from you Vulpae. I'll probably make some sort of variant mummy, ghast, or bodak with a similar ability. A bodak would quite literally fill out the "penance stare" aspect, since their main weapon is a gaze attack. :)

Also, on the topic of gnolls, this guy looks pretty awesome. Plus, if you turned these guys into a pack of gnolls in your D&D game, you'd have an awesome trio of recurring villains. ^-^

Osirion

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Similarly, if someone were killed by a shadow and had that shadow rise up as an undead monster, and their body were later reanimated via some literally ungodly process like alchemy that doesn't check for the soul's permission like the usual Raise Dead spells, I'd have them come back without their shadow, and I'd make them go on a quest to find it, smack it down, and get it to follow them at their heels like it's supposed to.

Or fly through Wendy Darling's window, and get her to sew it back to your feet...

Silver Crusade

I'm tempted to also add Russian/Slavic style magic to a campain especally in the east beyond Beveroy, the idea of all the dead who died of the plauges rising up from their haunted cities and renewing conflicts of good and evil.
I've been planning to do a bit of gaming based off Anistasia and bartok movies, involving the players going go Galt to save a woman and tracking a psychotic litch, a former priest who met the final blade, they accidently release him and must track him as he heads east to the frosted slavic wastes. raising good and evil undead in his wake as he goes. (a side affect of his existance.)

Silver Crusade

oh I developed a White Bodak idea I've added to the next battlefield. I'm calling him the Knight of Never, aside from the armor and sword and all that jazz I modified the gaze ability.
It doesn't kill you outright like ghostrider's penitance would, but traps the person in a mental cycle of "this is the path you didn't take" not for good guys that's a hell of a lot less traumatic a little wheepy for familys never reared and such. But for the Villans the "if you hadn't gone out for revenge and just gotten over it you'd have friends, a house, a wife, kids, and a family that loved you, you wouldn't be an all powerful badass, but you'd be happy."

Osirion

It's taken me the better part of the morning to skim through this thread, and I've been loving every minute of it. It really reminds me of how these games are an anthropologist's dream, exploring every facet of culture and perception imaginable. I thought I might contribute in a different way, however. I'll apologize in advance for the imminent wall-of-text attack.

To put things into context, I'm a player who's been enjoying the Kingmaker Adventure Path. About the time the AP first came out, I fell in love with the Oracle class; where droves of ambitious adventurers were out seeking power all-day-every-day, the Oracles represented a different path: being cursed with power. I felt that nothing could exemplify this idea better than the Bones Mystery, playing a neutral-leaning-good innocent soul who, by fate, was tormented by the whispers of the gods of death at every turn. Thus I made Bonemender, a reluctant harbinger of death and undeath, pitting his will and force-of-personality (read: Charisma) against the 2/3 Evil deities, attempting to push his destiny in a direction of his own choosing.

So, fluff aside, I'm here to offer a more practical view of playing a would-be non-evil-corpse-raiser.

Going for capital ownership of creep-factor, I made Bonemender a Mordant Spire elf with the Wasp Whisperer racial trait. I found the Juju Mystery some time after beginning the game, so the GM was kind enough to allow me to take the Spirit Vessels Revelation as a Bones Oracle. 90% of the feats I chose involved creating undead, and as of now the party has just achieved 13th level, approaching the 5th module of the game. My thoughts may not be entirely well-ordered, but hopefully someone will be able to see how these sorts of classes affect a real game.

--Starting out my character was no more powerful than any other character. I had to get to 6th level as an Oracle before I gained access to animate dead, and at that point I could raise basic skeletons and zombies. Given the nature of the game, the GM allowed an obscure-and-possibly-homebrewed series of feats designed to increase ones' HD limit for undead (by a factor of x2 at 5th level, x5 at 10th level, x10 at 15th level). At the very beginning of being able to cast the spell, having a couple undead minions was fairly balanced. Once the party downed a number of trolls, however, I found that having 6 or so burning/bloody troll skeletons was starting to upset the balance of power. Sometime later, I also found the same problem bringing ~30 or so skeletal archers. Being able to take down two trolls by myself at 6-7th level, in one round, without my character actually acting could probably be properly called overpowered. This was the first hump - concessions were made and rules adjusted. We had just begun to form our fledgeling nation, so I assigned the majority of my normal mindless HD limit as guards.

--Around the same level I began to realize that, as a divine sorcerer with limited spells known, keeping both the cure spells (learned automatically) and inflict spells (chosen by me) was taxing my ability to be anything more than a general directing my undead. Being the creative pain-in-the-behind I am, I created a spell the same level as animate dead that allowed me to convert the energies that powered undead bodies from negative to positive energy (I'll post the spell here later if requested). This was to allow myself to maintain my minions as well as be the party's healer. Again, at the lower levels it wasn't much of an issue, and seemed to solve the problem nicely.

--Fast-forward several levels. By 11th level my character had a pool of some 300 HD of mindless undead sitting somewhere accumulating dust. In theory, I could bring them with the party to explore what wilderness remained untamed, but at that point, why bring my party-mates? Having the revelation that allowed for the Command Undead feat to be used, my GM allowed me to have a similar pool of undead that could be non-mindless (allowing, through the purchase of a create undead scroll, to create Gulka, the unstoppable horror - a mini-boss add at the end fight of one of the modules, now turned to my nefari--er*cough*.. righteous purpose). I was limited to taking with me the undead I controlled in this pool. We did away with the daily save to escape dominance as a matter of preventing more book-keeping. Having one or two more advanced, hard-hitting undead minions seemed to work well for a while, and while I was always limited by what was thrown against me, my ability to apply templates to near-end-boss creatures seemed to be causing the GM a few headaches.

--At 12th level I gained access to create undead. This is where the real can-of-worms (or should I say can-of-wyrms?) problems began. From the beginning I had gained access to a 6th level spell which, by its' nature, could create CR 1-2 creatures (Ghouls/Ghasts): 2HD creatures that, while having a paralytic attack and the ability to create spawn, would never survive anything my party would be facing. Alternately, I discovered the Juju Zombie, my bread'n'butter. This seemed to me to be the only real option. Juju Zombies and Skeletal Champions didn't lose hardly any abilities; they gained greater defensive abilities, and better ability-score adjustments; they could be applied to classed creatures, allowing the creation of PC-level minions and beyond. But this also meant that they were giving me access to minions that typically went above my own class level in CR, and were typically unbalancing in some regard. The lack of options in what I could create was often frustrating - I had to either be a one-man-army, or leave out the creatures on which I'd spent most of my feats thus far. Not to mention the fact that now my custom-created spell, which fundamentally altered the nature of the undead itself, was being applied to much more potent undead. I was having to contemplate re-tooling everything I created with create undead.

--I'll give you some examples of our more recent play. At 12th level my character had a Control Undead pool somewhere around 80 HD through the use of feats and such. I had raised 6 Will'o'wisps as Fast Juju Zombies - at the time I was assuming they lost nothing, since the Juju Zombie template was applied last, and no selection under the template indicates any abilities are lost. So I had 6 flying, naturally invisible helpers, immune to two energy types, and all magic that applies SR except Maze. They got two touch attacks to deal 2d8 electricity damage (I read later the extra attack from a Fast Zombie should be a slam, but couldn't for the life of me imagine how a Will'o'wisp could do anything other than its' natural attack). We trekked through the swamps in our newly-acquired land, and I was making short work of most of the first encounters. I traded a couple Will'o'wisps out later for some acquatic creatures with a swim speed and grappling abilities (two Ahuizotl). Those creatures then died in a fight with four Adult Black Dragons. Being unable to raise a 14HD creature as a zombie just yet, we later fought two Nuckelavee, and I raised one as a skeletal champion, similarly assuming it retained all its' abilities. Only in the fight with the dragons did my character ever really do anything, and the exploration of the swamps proved to be a series of headaches for my GM. We're going to have to re-tool things once again - if I try to use everything at my disposal it's horribly unbalancing; if I try to use nothing, I'm woefully lacking in direct-damage abilities and spells, and typically end up as some sort of play-thing for a round or ten. (Btw, I hate Herzou demons...)

Hopefully all of that wasn't too hard to wade through. Undead are exceptionally variable as villians, and putting this power in the hands of a player seems to be unstable at best, derailing at worst. I'm an experienced player, so making concessions, adjusting my play-style and approach, even ad-hoc'ing rules and working with the GM, isn't a huge deal, but it's been pretty constant. Even now I feel like, if given free reign, my character could take on most of the major fights in the module on his own with almost no effort. That being said, I've loved the character development and storyline of the character almost more than any other I've ever created. Bonemender is a tortured, somber, creepy font of undeath, trying with all his might to bend it to a good cause.

Next step: going crazy, creating Graveknights, and trying to merge a re-creation of Pharasma's Bone Tower with an elven super-tree. We'll see how things progress. =)

Osirion

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The take-away I got from this;

*You cherry picked revelations from two different Oracles,
*created a custom spell that radically changed the nature of the undead allowing you to heal them without having to prep inflict spells,
*used three possibly homebrew feats to vastly increase the number of undead you could control,
*ignored daily undead command control breakage rules, and
*allowed skeletal (champion) and (fast) zombie templated creatures to retain the various special qualities and special attacks they should have lost per the template(s) and
*then had a balance issue?

Gosh. I wonder why?


Set wrote:

The take-away I got from this;

*You cherry picked revelations from two different Oracles,
*created a custom spell that radically changed the nature of the undead allowing you to heal them without having to prep inflict spells,
*used three possibly homebrew feats to vastly increase the number of undead you could control,
*ignored daily undead command control breakage rules, and
*allowed skeletal (champion) and (fast) zombie templated creatures to retain the various special qualities and special attacks they should have lost per the template(s) and
*then had a balance issue?

Gosh. I wonder why?

On the other hand, it makes for one hell of a story.

Osirion

Set wrote:

The take-away I got from this;

*You cherry picked revelations from two different Oracles,
*created a custom spell that radically changed the nature of the undead allowing you to heal them without having to prep inflict spells,
*used three possibly homebrew feats to vastly increase the number of undead you could control,
*ignored daily undead command control breakage rules, and
*allowed skeletal (champion) and (fast) zombie templated creatures to retain the various special qualities and special attacks they should have lost per the template(s) and
*then had a balance issue?

Gosh. I wonder why?

Take-away whatever you like. It seems you misunderstood my intention, so I'll explain some of your points further; I did fail to provide full context.

-I didn't cherry-pick between two different Oracles. I was allowed to pick a single revelation from a Mystery that also deals with undead. Incidentally, being allowed to do so is why my post was relevant to this thread in the first place.

-Kingmaker is an AP where the players move gradually from typical party-fights-the-dragon combat to mass combat. The current authority on said mass combat, as well as a good number of aspects of the Kingmaker game, is a third-party book, basically a collection of rules. This book (Book of the River Nations, from Jon Brazer Enterprizes) details that an army of 100 creatures (one could assume 1st level warriors) is, in mass-combat, the equivalent of a creature of its' CR (in this case, 1/3 if I'm not mistaken). When the feats increasing my characters undead HD pool were allowed, it was in the interest of allowing him to later command an army in mass combat. Even controlling bloody/burning skeletons, the CR of 200 of such creatures would be about a CR3 creature in mass-combat. I can explain the details of mass-combat more fully if necessary, but hopefully I've clarified the reasoning behind what I posted before.

-The custom-created spell was a story element as much as an attempt at making creation of undead more functional - a reaction of my character trying not to summon hoards of evil creatures. This was done before I had even found the Juju revelation I had 'cherry-picked,' as well as prior to the addition of a second player playing a Cleric (ironically of Pharasma, you can imagine the discussions).

-The by-passing of the command undead rolls was actually suggested by the GM, as Kingmaker deals with months and years of game time, much longer than a typical setting.

-My mis-handling of the undead templates was intended to illustrate that: 1) I am fallable, and 2) dealing with undead as a player involves a great deal of research, book-keeping, and understanding of rules that aren't often pointed out in an easily accessible place and/or in great detail (such as how to apply multiple templates).

Overall I wasn't trying to whine/brag/panhandle for compliments over how over-powered my character was or anything of the sort. I was trying to offer a practical look on the fundamental topic of this thread. Dealing with undead is dark, complicated, and interesting. The rules for creating undead are sparse, logically so since the creative director himself said he didn't want undead to turn into the next anti-hero. Playing an undead-controlling class - which was written in official books, and thus supported *at all* - is still very tricky and requires a great deal of interpretation and working with the GM. Whatever you take from this is up to you. As for me - grappling with complex issues of honor, society, and near-blasphemy - I'm certainly enjoying every bit of it.

Osirion

Somnus the Bonemender wrote:
The current authority on said mass combat, as well as a good number of aspects of the Kingmaker game, is a third-party book, basically a collection of rules. This book (Book of the River Nations, from Jon Brazer Enterprizes) details that an army of 100 creatures (one could assume 1st level warriors) is, in mass-combat, the equivalent of a creature of its' CR (in this case, 1/3 if I'm not mistaken).

The Leadership feat (or, even better, the Undead Leadership from the 3.5 days) might be an easier way to account for these sorts of numbers, without adding to the command rating.

On the other hand, 3.5 also had a few ways of mucking with the control rating, such as the General of Undeath PrC or the Dread Necromancer base class, so there's precedent for that, as well.

The route you went down, dedicating three feats to it, tends to, IMO, create an 'all or nothing' situation where you ended up with a large enough chunk of your character build tied up supporting that, which becomes problematic later, if you/your GM decides that it went too far. I believe you even mentioned something about that, that you'd decidated some resources to this, and then it turned out to be a problem.

Some sort of feat retraining might be an option, at that point, to edit those command-rating-boosting feats out.

Using Leadership, or a version thereof, also has the side-benefit of being something that the other players in your group can also do, with living units, so that it becomes less of an exceptional case for your character.

Quote:
-The custom-created spell was a story element as much as an attempt at making creation of undead more functional - a reaction of my character trying not to summon hoards of evil creatures.

The 1st edition positive-energy-empowered mummy (and the 'deathless' from Eberron) provide precedent for that sort of thing, but Pathfinder has a funky Alignment Channel feat option that allows you to *hurt the living with positive energy* (or heal the living with negative energy!). By the logic that allows that feat to work, it should be equally possible to create an 'Undead Channel' feat that allows one to heal the undead with positive energy.

Since many undead feed off of the living (whether through blood, flesh or life-energy), which are healed / sustained by nummy positive energy, it's even thematically appropriate for such a feat to exist, 'slowing down the stream' of positive energy so that undead can metabolize it just as they do the life-energy they steal from the living.

Just an alternative way of dealing with the same situation, without actually changing the undead created, although I get that changing the undead was actually on-theme for your character, due to his wrestling with the nature of the creatures and 'fighting fire with fire' and all that. (Not that positive energy is any more or less evil than negative energy, mechanically, but that false association is certainly reinforced enough in official product to be a given assumption...)

Quote:
Playing an undead-controlling class - which was written in official books, and thus supported *at all* - is still very tricky and requires a great deal of interpretation and working with the GM.

That's certainly true. I suspect that the only reason necromancy was included in the core book at all was because of backwards compatibility, given the abhorrence some of the game's designers have for the subject. (And yet they produce book after book about demons and devils, with no real consideration for how much more useful books about angelic or celestial patrons and forces would be for people playing the non-evil characters they claim to encourage, or even require, in the case of Pathfinder Society).

IMO, necromancy (and illusion) probably shouldn't be 'schools of magic' at all. Necromancy is a hodge podge of conjurations (negative energy creatures), transmutations (animated corpses), evocations (direct negative energy attacks) and enchantments (fear spells).

It's not actually a 'school' at all. It's just stitched together from parts stolen from other schools, shambling along, pretending to be alive.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Set wrote:

That's certainly true. I suspect that the only reason necromancy was included in the core book at all was because of backwards compatibility, given the abhorrence some of the game's designers have for the subject. (And yet they produce book after book about demons and devils, with no real consideration for how much more useful books about angelic or celestial patrons and forces would be for people playing the non-evil characters they claim to encourage, or even require, in the case of Pathfinder Society).

There's some good news in that area. :)


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I just saw this thread and read through it, and I'm with the "why are mindless anythings evil?" crowd, personally. But mostly, I wanted to comment to say there's some awesome ideas for the nature of undead and their creation upthread a few posts - kudos, really!

An idea I had about the shadows (and other sorts like that as well) is that you could actually have them be...good, in a way. Or rather, not the shadows in and of themselves, but the role they play - when something dies by their touch, what becomes a new shadow isn't the victim's soul, but rather only part of it. The bad part. So it's actually splitting the evil, however much that may be, off from the good part of the mortal's soul, allowing the soul to go on to a "good" afterlife as it's stripped of its evil and imbuing the evil with some amount of consciousness (depending on the type) to go do this more often.

It could be the product of a long-dead deity and its sense of redemption, a forcible purifying of evil grown into a huge menace in the absence of said deity's control (and seriously getting on Pharasma's bad side, because wtf, how do you judge a soul justly when it's been forcibly split into good and bad?).

For that matter, maybe Pharasma just hates undead so much not because of any inherent evilness/abomination-ness but because it increases her workload to have to keep judging and rejudging some being every time Narf the Necromancer decides it's time for a new lackey.

Osirion

DrowVampyre wrote:
An idea I had about the shadows (and other sorts like that as well) is that you could actually have them be...good, in a way. Or rather, not the shadows in and of themselves, but the role they play - when something dies by their touch, what becomes a new shadow isn't the victim's soul, but rather only part of it. The bad part.

Shadows as sin-eaters? Perhaps even having been deliberately created to 'cheat' Pharasma's judgement and win a place in the upper planes, by having the 'sin-eater' devour one's inner darkness and leave one's soul purified and without 'shadow' for the judgement?

Ooh, that's awesome! And I could definitely see Pharasma *hating* the concept, since whatever culture tried this was trying to cheat her system and run a game on her!


Set wrote:
DrowVampyre wrote:
An idea I had about the shadows (and other sorts like that as well) is that you could actually have them be...good, in a way. Or rather, not the shadows in and of themselves, but the role they play - when something dies by their touch, what becomes a new shadow isn't the victim's soul, but rather only part of it. The bad part.

Shadows as sin-eaters? Perhaps even having been deliberately created to 'cheat' Pharasma's judgement and win a place in the upper planes, by having the 'sin-eater' devour one's inner darkness and leave one's soul purified and without 'shadow' for the judgement?

Ooh, that's awesome! And I could definitely see Pharasma *hating* the concept, since whatever culture tried this was trying to cheat her system and run a game on her!

Exactly. ^_^ I'm glad you like the idea! It doesn't really explain why the spawn follow the creator, but I thought it was a neat concept anyway. <_<

Osirion

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DrowVampyre wrote:
Set wrote:


Shadows as sin-eaters? [SNIP]
Exactly. ^_^ I'm glad you like the idea! It doesn't really explain why the spawn follow the creator, but I thought it was a neat concept anyway. <_<

The spawn following the shadow what brung them could be part of Pharasma's kickback on the concept.

Or it could be a side-effect of the shadows being, literally, only fractions of a soul, incomplete and feeling incapable of making decisions on their own, desperate to be 'part of something' and slavishly following the shadow that they imprinted on after being torn apart from the rest of their soul-self, ever yearning for that sense of completion they had before, and trying to 'get it back' by killing other living creatures and tearing *their* darkness out.

They aren't trying to 'make more shadows,' they are trying to crawl back inside of a living person and become whole again.

The process always seems to kill the people they try it on, and they end up as cold and lonely as ever, and followed around by yet more whiny blots of selfish hungry darkness that want the same thing...


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Set wrote:


The spawn following the shadow what brung them could be part of Pharasma's kickback on the concept.

Or it could be a side-effect of the shadows being, literally, only fractions of a soul, incomplete and feeling incapable of making decisions on their own, desperate to be 'part of something' and slavishly following the shadow that they imprinted on after being torn apart from the rest of their soul-self, ever yearning for that sense of completion they had before, and trying to 'get it back' by killing other living creatures and tearing *their* darkness out.

They aren't trying to 'make more shadows,' they are trying to crawl back inside of a living person and become whole again.

The process always seems to kill the people they try it on, and they end up as cold and lonely as ever, and followed around by yet more whiny blots of selfish hungry darkness that want the same thing...

Ooh, that's good. Kinda lends them a tragic air too, which I like.

In fact, that gives me an adventure idea...

Spoiler:
A recent event (earthquake, volcano, whatever) exposed an ancient ruined city from an unknown civilization. Naturally, this has led adventurers to the site to seek whatever riches must surely be buried within the massive vault at the center of the ruin.

Little do they know that the vault doesn't hold treasure, but tattered remnants of evil, the darkness in the souls of the city's inhabitants. Left behind when the ruling mages and clerics banded together to enact a powerful ritual, to purify the entirety of their people and lead them to the heavens regardless of their mortal misdeeds, the shadows were meant to remain trapped for eternity within the vault.

As soon as the seal was broken, the shadows - trapped for untold millennia with nothing but a monumental hunger to become whole once more - surged out and began desperately trying to reunite themselves with the living, spreading their curse in the process.

Now the party must face the darkness and somehow manage to draw the shadows back into the vault to be sealed back within its walls...or reverse the original ritual, tear countless souls from the heavens to be recombined with their dark reflections, and send them to Pharasma to face the judgement they escaped ages ago...

Shadow Lodge

DrowVampyre wrote:

I just saw this thread and read through it, and I'm with the "why are mindless anythings evil?" crowd, personally. But mostly, I wanted to comment to say there's some awesome ideas for the nature of undead and their creation upthread a few posts - kudos, really!

An idea I had about the shadows (and other sorts like that as well) is that you could actually have them be...good, in a way.

First off, I'm with you on most of this thread. I'm playing a N halfling juju oracle/Undead lord in Serpent's Skull and having a blast with my zombies (of course I'm feeling a little overpowered, and considering changing characters, but I digress).

Now, onto the quoted section: I felt I had to jump in and point out the core rule book actually has a way of having Good shadows already. Shadow Dancers. We had a LG shadow dancer in our Legacy of Fire campaign, and he of course had a LG shadow that followed him around. I just thought it was interesting and thought I'd share. :)

Osirion

DrowVampyre wrote:

Spoiler:
Now the party must face the darkness and somehow manage to draw the shadows back into the vault to be sealed back within its walls...or reverse the original ritual, tear countless souls from the heavens to be recombined with their dark reflections, and send them to Pharasma to face the judgement they escaped ages ago...

Very, very awesome!

Osirion

First off, to keep to the current topic, I agree with the absolute awesome-ness in that adventure idea. Especially with the PCs approaching a massive vault with loot-hungry eyes, and bringing about the calamity by their own actions. Some players might shrug off the guilt, but as a story I think it's pure 'gold.'

Additionally, I like the 'sin-eater shadows' in general. Anything that adds more flavor to undead and their origins, rather than making them the "I am the spawn of pure evil incarnate, bleagh~" kind is good stuff in my book. I'm trying to re-imagine ghouls in a similar way - driven to commit atrocities like carrion cannibalism ought to show more signs of madness than simply being evil. Still evil, certainly, but evil being battled against within the psyche of the undead creature, perhaps.

Also, to update my own current situation: coincidentally my GM and I decided that the strange series of feats was, indeed, getting a little too ridiculous. Since the rules for creating mass-combat armies was pretty vague to begin with, we figured my character could create and command one army of mindless undead in line with the sorts of armies our kingdom could create anyways. Having been refunded two feats, I find my pools a bit more reasonable now (though with the Undead Mastery feat from the Ultimate Magic book, still pretty high).

I still find myself wanting to try to come up with positively-aligned interpretations of undead - essentially creating more specific versions of the 'deathless' from Eberron. For skeletons/zombies it's pretty easy; for the more specific forms of undead I'm getting able to create these levels, I'm finding more difficulty. The interpretation of shadows you mentioned is great, and I may very well use that as inspiration when Create Undead, Greater rolls around at 16th level. But does anyone have ideas for the more physical undead? To give some specific things I'm thinking of trying to change, through rules caveat or more created spells or whatever else, I'll provide a small list:

-Ghouls/Ghasts hunger for the flesh of sentient mortal corpses, and spread disease with their natural attacks. I tend to think being infused with positive energy would change much of that, but maybe not? Maybe the positive energy allows them to be sated, but they still crave that as much as dead flesh? Maybe, as a white necromancer/juju oracle, you'd find yourself having to cast Cure spells purely to sate your awkwardly constructed creation? Instead of spreading disease with an attack, maybe they start imposing the penalties one might have from not eating for a number of days (of course no death from starvation - it would obviously be limited to imposing penalties or fatigue/exhaustion).

-Wights thirst for the lifeforce of living beings, which is sated through their level-draining natural attacks. How would this be altered by positive energy? I've had a hard time imagining it, since force-feeding positive energy seems like giving it the very thing it hungers for. Would it become perfectly sated, and being so, simply collapse/become undone? The direct opposite of energy-drain would likely be healing and instilling temporary hit-points, but that wouldn't functionally work on a natural attack. I'm really at a loss here - and realizing that basically creating a string of custom-made creatures just to satisfy my character's ambitions is becoming much more hassle to me and my GM than it is helpful to the story.

I'm certainly growing increasingly aware of the 'can of worms' I've been opening up. Still, I'm not against the idea of significantly altering undead through my character's machinations. The crux of his driving motivation is to prove himself to Pharasma - the only non-evil deity that's still a patron to Bones oracles - and is currently trying to do so by re-creating the Bone Tower in the mortal realm. I'm planning to let him go a bit crazy/obsessive about it, and who knows what'll happen if an invading army manages to destroy the tower along with his hopes and dreams. As always, loving the thread and the ideas/feedback in it. Keep up the *good* work!

Osirion

I'm leaving for work, so I've got no time to really think about this right now, but I wanted to get an idea out of my head before I go;

Somnus the Bonemender wrote:
-Ghouls/Ghasts hunger for the flesh of sentient mortal corpses, and spread disease with their natural attacks. I tend to think being infused with positive energy would change much of that, but maybe not?

Infused with positive energy, a ghoul/ghast analogue might be as teeming with life as the ghoul would be teeming with disease organisms, but, in this case, it's plant life. Flowering vines crawl all across the body, taking sustenance in the dying/undying always-healing flesh of the positive energy-imbued humanoid (or whatever). The plants themselves might have some special effects (a pollen cloud that fascinates or dazes, to replace stench, or poison thorns that replace disease / paralysis). It wouldn't necessarily be a 100% spot on conversion (unless you deliberately designed it that way, which you could, if the 'pollen' sickened people and the plant growth worked like a disease affliction, taking root in and spreading over the bodies of those wounded by the creatures bite attack, finally killing them and 'animating' them just like ghoul fever as one of these positive energy ghouls).

While negative energy infused undead are sometimes seen as blighting the land while they travel, curdling milk and withering grass and causing crops to wilt, etc., the positive-energy-infused plant-bedecked ghoul might have the opposite effect, and occasionally be visited by bees or colorful hummingbirds, and leave small flowers springing up in it's wake.

For a 'good' mummy, or at least, a very, very lawful 'oath beyond death' sort of mummy, the canopic jars could be replaced with an inscribed tablet that includes the oath of the guardian who agreed to be mummified and serve his master (and their interests) beyond death itself. The owner of the tablet might be able to trick the mummy into service, long after the original pharoah or high priest or whatever is dead. The abilities wouldn't really need to change, other than to toss in some fast healing, to represent the infusion of positive energy.


Set wrote:
DrowVampyre wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Very, very awesome!

Somnus the Bonemender wrote:

First off, to keep to the current topic, I agree with the absolute awesome-ness in that adventure idea. Especially with the PCs approaching a massive vault with loot-hungry eyes, and bringing about the calamity by their own actions. Some players might shrug off the guilt, but as a story I think it's pure 'gold.'

Additionally, I like the 'sin-eater shadows' in general. Anything that adds more flavor to undead and their origins, rather than making them the "I am the spawn of pure evil incarnate, bleagh~" kind is good stuff in my book. I'm trying to re-imagine ghouls in a similar way - driven to commit atrocities like carrion cannibalism ought to show more signs of madness than simply being evil. Still evil, certainly, but evil being battled against within the psyche of the undead creature, perhaps.

Thanks! I'm glad you both like the ideas. ^_^

Somnus the Bonemender wrote:


I still find myself wanting to try to come up with positively-aligned interpretations of undead - essentially creating more specific versions of the 'deathless' from Eberron. For skeletons/zombies it's pretty easy; for the more specific forms of undead I'm getting able to create these levels, I'm finding more difficulty. The interpretation of shadows you mentioned is great, and I may very well use that as inspiration when Create Undead, Greater rolls around at 16th level. But does anyone have ideas for the more physical undead? To give some specific things I'm thinking of trying to change, through rules caveat or more created spells or whatever else, I'll provide a small list:

-Ghouls/Ghasts hunger for the flesh of sentient mortal corpses, and spread disease with their natural attacks. I tend to think being infused with positive energy would change much of that, but maybe not? Maybe the positive energy allows them to be sated, but they still crave that as much as dead flesh? Maybe, as a white necromancer/juju oracle, you'd find yourself having to cast Cure spells purely to sate your awkwardly constructed creation? Instead of spreading disease with an attack, maybe they start imposing the penalties one might have from not eating for a number of days (of course no death from starvation - it would obviously be limited to imposing penalties or fatigue/exhaustion).

You could go with something like this, depending on what specific flavor you want for them. Set's suggestion above is neat, to me - undead vinebound bee-carriers is definitely a new angle, and I could totally see naturey communities loving that (guardians for an elven tree city, for example, or a druid's sacred circle, or whatnot).

You could also have them give off positive energy, which would be...a very specialized use, to be sure, but doable. Positive energy will still kill, if you're exposed to too much of it, but at the same time if you were injured you'd be getting healed by being near the thing, and it would be pretty much the ultimate anti-undead thing (think of a phalanx of these things defending a town against a horde of normal undead - they'd be healing each other for being near, harming the undead they were in melee with both with positive energy and whatever weapons they have...).

As far as flavor, you could make it so that instead of infusing them with negative energy and them having a warped version of the consciousness they had before, they could be animated by the essence of a spirit/outsider from the positive energy plane, or even be something like the reanimated corpses of fallen paladins who still wanted to fight for goodness, or of good outsiders who were permanently tethered to the material plane, or something along those lines.

Somnus the Bonemender wrote:
-Wights thirst for the lifeforce of living beings, which is sated through their level-draining natural attacks. How would this be altered by positive energy? I've had a hard time imagining it, since force-feeding positive energy seems like giving it the very thing it hungers for. Would it become perfectly sated, and being so, simply collapse/become undone? The direct opposite of energy-drain would likely be healing and instilling temporary hit-points, but that wouldn't functionally work on a natural attack. I'm really at a loss here - and realizing that basically creating a string of custom-made creatures just to satisfy my character's ambitions is becoming much more hassle to me and my GM than it is helpful to the story.

Wights are easier, I think. Keep the level draining, but reflavor it - instead of being them sucking the lifeforce out of someone (that seems like Con drain to me anyway, actually), say that their attacks pierce the soul and force their target to face the evils it has caused. The level drain would be coming not from actually growing weaker, but from their spirit fighting itself, not just in an "I'm torn about what to do" sort of way but literally fighting itself and thus weakening them as much of their energy, consciously or not, is turned to stopping that internal conflict - if they make their saves later, then they did so, if they fail them, the "good side" won and left them weakened by all they had done, until they get a blessing from their dark deity to set them "back on the path" (restoration, etc.) or whatnot.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Mohrg

CN-Variant - Writhelings

Unpredictable and dangerous, writhelings are bizarre creatures of an uncertain origin. Some sages believe they are unliving tools of the proteans, while others hold that they are instruments of vengeance for naga-kind. Whatever the case, one can never be certain if a writheling will claim one victim or leave an entire village depopulated of humanoid life.

Writhelings are composed of the skeleton of its mortal shell and a swarm of long, thin, humanoid-faced serpents. These serpents are impossible to count to an exact number and always share the same face, that of the person they once were, their features only slightly streamlined towards the facial structures common amongst nagas. Their coloring is typically dull during the writheling's calm state, with the entire mass slowly crawling and coiling about their old bones and through the skull, seemingly holding the structure together. In its excited state, the serpents grow more vibrant and slither through their shared form with greater speed, at the same time giving the writheling increased agility and a disconcerting appearance as its surface becomes a mad mass of motion. By the time the creature prepares to claim their chosen victim, it is a humanoid-shaped whirlwind of hissing-screaming serpents about a frame of white bone, each of their eyes alight with blue-green flame.

The bite of these serpents is more curse than poison. Those who succumb to their kiss are rendered helpless but left alive as the writheling either moves on to its next victim or remains to see its work done. The victim's undergoes a painful transformation as their skin turns grey and sclay and their flesh twists and warps itself into serpents, each of which bear their face. The victim's mind and soul is divided between these nagalings, granting them each somewhat more than the base intelligence of a natural serpent and some glimmer of memory from their former life. The old skin eventually sloughs away like a shed snakeskin, unleashing the swarm of new serpents the immediately scatter and flee from their discarded bones. These nagalings most often flee into the wild, living out the rest of their lives as animals, sometimes morosely pondering a lost life only partially remembered. Rarely, the nagalings born from particuarly strong-willed victims will remain close together, their combined intelligence granting them roughly the same functionality as an awakened animal.

Writhelings rarely rise spontaneously from dead humanoids. Often they simply appear from the wilderness, wandering through villages, transforming everyone it can, and finally crumbling to dust after leaving the area empty of inelligent life. This frequent pattern of behavior leads many to believe that they might be the tools of particularly unscrupulous druids warring against civilizaiton, but many consider this same behavior to match the purposes of the chaotic proteans.

Writhelings are most common in Vudra, Jalmeray, and Nagajor, lending credence to the theory that they were creations of nagakind, though they are also found within the Mwangi Expanse and, disturbingly, the areas of Varisia surrounding Viperwall. Further evidence of naga involvement can be found in the fates of many of the "nagalings" born from writheling attacks. Many of these pitiful creatures wind up as servants or slaves of true nagas, with the rare "awakened" swarms being particularly prized specimens.

The appearance of a writheling does not always spell doom for an entire populace. Just as often a lone writheling will hunt down one or a few specific individuals, sometimes marked for vengeance by the writheling or its creator and sometimes targetted simply for being a stabilizing element in a social structure that someone has marked for destruction. The targets of these more focused writhelings have included the just and the wicked, be they heads of logging companies, the leaders of dangerous and oppressive cults, and the rulers of cities seeking to expand. While a focused writheling may claim a number of victims trying to get to its chosen target, it will always pass on and crumble to dust after the deed is done.

----

Woulda named 'em Writhewraiths but...ya know.

Trying to round out the Morgh options off after the Thornskals. Coming up a bit blank for their LN counterparts at the moment.

Silver Crusade

The issue, having been discussed thoroughly, leaves little more for me to say. But, seeing as how this is a topic I'm very interested in, I'll go ahead.

Personally, I think that all sapient creatures should have a variable alignment. If a creature can reason (even if they are heavily predisposed one way or another), they can change their minds. Heck, if good outsiders, who are supposedly the embodiment of their alignment, can Fall, I see no reason why a ghoul couldn't rise beyond his or her baser nature. And the exemption for ghosts is silly.

I can kind of get behind the idea that CREATING undead is an evil act (what with being against the laws of nature and Pharasma and all that), but I cannot understand why simply BEING one is evil. Oh sure, being undead might earn the enmity of good people/gods/etc., but that doesn't make the state evil.

I actually have more to say on the subject, but I have to run...poop...

Oh well, later...

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