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Can a cleric of Pharasma temporarily align with undead for the greater good?


Pathfinder Campaign Setting General Discussion

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If some undead have information needed to prevent a widespread disaster, can a cleric of Pharasma work with them to get the information, kind of how a paladin can work with evil creatures for the greater good? More specifics in the spoiler below.

Carrion Crown plot info:

We're in book 5, Ashes at Dawn. We've found an abandoned base of the Whispering Way in Caliphas and met with a Dhampir, who has basically asked us to help a group of vampires find and stop the vampire hunter currently plaguing them. In return, presumably, we'll get good information about how to stop the Whispering Way from bringing Tar-Baphon back to unlife.

My first reaction to this was, "I think it's a fantastic idea for you to take us to meet these vampires. I would love to see them." (Note to self: prepare Daylight, Undeath to Death, Searing Light, etc.). The rest of my party, however, thinks I should cooperate with the vampires in order to achieve the greater good of stopping Tar-Baphon. The idea would be for me to come back and destroy these vampires after we stop the Whispering Tyrant.

To my way of thinking, not only is working with undead a blasphemy, but stopping somebody from destroying them? It's exactly what a cleric of Pharamsa would never do. I admit, however, that my knowledge of her religion is not as expansive as it could be.

Thoughts?


Try to rerail (but NOT derail)the adventure:

Try cooperating with the Vampire hunter to find, capture, and interrogate the vampires that have the information you need. Optionally, convince the vampire hunter of the 'greater good' and have him fake death and hold off on killing the vamps long enough for you to get what you need from the vamps in exchange for inside information that will help the hunter get to the vamps more easily.


I've read Ashes at Dawn and there's another issue here with the vampires but I won't go into it because I don't want to spoil the adventure.

My advice to you? Your character is a servant of Pharasma, right? Find the nearest church and consult the NPC clerics. Your GM can use them as a means to help your character reach a decision in-character that works for his faith. Pharasma is one of the two big faiths in Ustalav so I'm sure you can find some Pharasmin clerics to palaver in Caliphas. They're the best people for your cleric to consult on this kind of moral dilemma, and your GM can use them to help carry the story forward in a direction that works for both of you.


HappyDaze wrote:
Try cooperating with the Vampire hunter

Something he didn't make clear in his description so much: It's not just a vampire hunter, it's a vampire "serial killer." Aligning with the person killing vampires isn't just a matter of meeting him down at the local pub and picking out the guy wearing stakes in his bandoleer.

Here's part of the paizo.com description from Ashes at Dawn (found here: http://paizo.com/pathfinder/adventurePath/carrionCrown), it basically frames what he's already said a different way:

Ashes at Dawn partial product description:
A murderer stalks the streets of Caliphas, a slasher who only hunts a particular type of victim: vampires. As the heroes track the cultists of the Whispering Way, they lose their quarry amid the mazelike alleys of Ustalav’s crowded capital city. But from the shadows, a dark patron rises with offers of aid and insights into the cult’s ultimate evil. All he asks in return is that the adventurers put an end to the murderer terrorizing the city’s vampires.


Not to spoil anything, but Ashes at Dawn addresses this very question (as well as what Paladins could do and you might want to bring it up with your DM for his opinion to get his opinion.

The long and short of it:

Spoiler:
You're facing off against the Whispering Way who are plotting something. The vampires have been in equilibrium with the city for centuries. Ask yourself what serves Pharasma more, abandoning fighting the Way to focus on the vampires or temporarily working with the vampires in order to go after the Way. Which group is the bigger blasphemy? The society that just wants to get by and keeps their own numbers in check, or the organization that wants to turn the entire planet into a paradise of undeath?

It comes down to your characters convictions. Is it worth the distraction from the Way to kill the vampires? Is that part of the Ways' plan? Will you be able to kill all the vampires before leaving town and what happens if you don't and then leave?

So, talk to your GM and then consider just what consequences come from your choices. It isn't as simple as "fight or don't fight". Let your character be guided by his convictions, but don't decide based on one thing alone.

Shadow Lodge Star Voter 2013

Actually it doesn't asnwer the question at all. It soprt of screws over theg groups that do actually see the problem there, and passes the buck with basically a cop-out answer. It is comparrible to ignoring that the players are good and have the AP have them go slaughter an orphinage, because the good of the city calls on that landbeing the cite for the new universaty.

Besides being a Paladin, Paladins, and especially Clerics of Pharasma should have a huge issue with this. Not might, but should. Pharasma is ot good aligned, but her faith is 100% against undead. What's worse, the faith of Pharasma in Ustalav is a peculiar brand that teaches suffering and endurence will garner rewards in the afterlife. So killing the undead abominations, and causing that little extra suffering would be right up their alley.

Which bring the issue right back around full circle. By all rights and expectations, it basically is a douchey move. But, and the best thing I can think of is to completely ignor the vampire/vampyre/nosferatu thing and have some other not-douchey group patronize the party for the same task (or similar enough). Maybe bring Kendra back in with some new found wealth and advanced wizardry with a desire to follow in her father's footsteps, or at least pay for it to be done until she gets some influence set up.


I played Carrion Crown, and while my group did work with the vampires, the DM was fully prepared for the possibility that we wouldn't. There were three worshipers of Pharasma in the group, two of them quite devout. I think the AP offers other means for the group to continue without working with the vampires. Even if it doesn't have this possibility built right into it, though, it wouldn't take a whole lot of time to find ways to give PCs the information the vampires have in the event that the vampires die. Perhaps make it a bit more difficult, but how hard is it to leave letters and things lying around the vampire's lair?

You could also work with the vampires now, and then slaughter them once you have the information you need. The Pharasman faith allows for followers to control undead on very rare occasions if doing so is necessary to destroy them. Working with the vampires with the full intention of killing them later is basically an extension of that.

(Also, I feel the need to point out that Pharasma wouldn't care so much about serving "the greater good"; she's a neutral deity, after all. I'm just being anal-retentive, though.)

Sczarni

As much as I read about Pharasma on PF wiki she despises undead but she isn't chaotic. Her attitude is rather cold, meaning she hates undead and believes they are unnatural but she doesn't have to respond with total hate and destruction upon them. Her Alignment is Neutral.


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Beckett wrote:

Actually it doesn't asnwer the question at all. It soprt of screws over theg groups that do actually see the problem there, and passes the buck with basically a cop-out answer. It is comparrible to ignoring that the players are good and have the AP have them go slaughter an orphinage, because the good of the city calls on that landbeing the cite for the new universaty.

Besides being a Paladin, Paladins, and especially Clerics of Pharasma should have a huge issue with this. Not might, but should. Pharasma is ot good aligned, but her faith is 100% against undead. What's worse, the faith of Pharasma in Ustalav is a peculiar brand that teaches suffering and endurence will garner rewards in the afterlife. So killing the undead abominations, and causing that little extra suffering would be right up their alley.

Which bring the issue right back around full circle. By all rights and expectations, it basically is a douchey move. But, and the best thing I can think of is to completely ignor the vampire/vampyre/nosferatu thing and have some other not-douchey group patronize the party for the same task (or similar enough). Maybe bring Kendra back in with some new found wealth and advanced wizardry with a desire to follow in her father's footsteps, or at least pay for it to be done until she gets some influence set up.

It isn't really a cop out answer though.

Pharasma is against undead, but she doesn't require her followers to drop everything in order to go and squish the nearest undead creature. She is a very practical goddess and realizes that there are different threat levels to different undead. If she wasn't then all of her clerics would be useless as necromancers would know that they could distract them with a handful of weaker undead in different places.

Same with paladins. They aren't required to stop hunting the ancient red dragon when they hear that someone stole an orphan's life savings. If they were required to do that then their enemies would arrange those kinds of distractions in order to ensure they fall.

Ashes at Dawn presents a difficult moral choice which is not black and white. There is no "good" answer, just grey and grey. Characters don't need to cop-out in order to make their choice as even Paladins and Clerics of Pharasma aren't required to have ADHD regarding evil or undead unless the GM has decided to be a jerk about it.

Shadow Lodge Star Voter 2013

I can't agree with you in this case. This is one case where working with (for) the undead would be absolutely for a paladin or cleric of Pharasma. She is absolute in that regard, and this was confirmed by the devs on another topic. Undead, all undead, regardless of their alignment are ananthema to her faith. This would be similar to a follower of Sarenrae slitting a prisoners throat without even trying to redeem them. It is jsut against the heart of the faith, and should be an instant fall from grace, regardless of what the author wants it to play like. It is not a grey or grey choice, but rather a grey or impossible (I will lose my powers) choice.

That being said, it is just a game, and there are ways around this. I just think it is a great fail on the writers part, and I've seen this very topic come up more than a few times.

Silver Crusade

Beckett wrote:

I can't agree with you in this case. This is one case where working with (for) the undead would be absolutely for a paladin or cleric of Pharasma. She is absolute in that regard, and this was confirmed by the devs on another topic. Undead, all undead, regardless of their alignment are ananthema to her faith. This would be similar to a follower of Sarenrae slitting a prisoners throat without even trying to redeem them. It is jsut against the heart of the faith, and should be an instant fall from grace, regardless of what the author wants it to play like.

That being said, it is just a game, and there are ways around this. I just think it is a great fail on the writers part, and I've seen this very topic come up more than a few times.

I agree with Beckett on this point. I can see a Cleric of Pharasma not hunting down the vampires as soon as he/she learns of their existence if he/she is on another mission of great importance (also I see such a Cleric knowing his/her limitations and not trying to hunt down all the vampires personally if it's beyond his/her ability to do so). However, working with and/or for the vampires (or any other undead) is pretty much unacceptable for a follower of Pharasma, no matter what the circumstances are.

Regarding the 'Ashes of Dawn' partial description under spoiler in Wolf Munroe's post:

Spoiler:
The module may describe the killer of vampires as a "serial murderer"-- a proper Pharasman wouldn't consider the destruction of vampires as murder at all... he/she would consider what this 'so called murderer' has done so far to be a good start and should want to help, not stop, the 'vampire killer' (unless it turns out to be undead itself).

I do think it's a total Fail on the part of the module's creators if they did not put a way to succeed in the module without aiding the vampires of this city-- I'm pretty sure Pharasma's not the only deity in Golarion that really has a problem with people tolerating the existence of the undead, and even if she were the only one-- I don't think it's good to basically put PCs on the spot of defy one of the core tenets of your faith, or fail the mission.

Contributor

As stated a couple posts earlier, Pharasma is a very practical goddess. Yes, she hates the undead, but she's also a goddess of prophecy, and she knows about how to twist words around to get the final result that she wants, that being the downfall of the Whispering Tyrant and whatever evil plot he has this week.

Let's look at it through a different lens. Let's say undeath is drugs. Pharasma is strongly opposed to drugs (undeath) and would like her Narco agents (clerics and inquisitors) to take down the great drug lord (the Whispering Tyrant). As part of the mission, you run across some minor drug dealers (the vampires) who are willing to snitch on the drug lord (the Whispering Tyrant) if they're protected from the rookie cop (the vampire hunter) who's out to bust them.

Now remember that Pharasma is not good and she's not lawful. She's raw practicality. While she'd probably prefer that you don't kill the rookie cop, sometimes you need to break an egg to make an omelet, and anyway, since eggs can be magically unbroken with a raise dead, even that's not the end of the world. Letting the vampire snitches continue to unlive? Well, they're useful. Keeping them around until the drug kingpin is taken out is not pleasant but it is practical.

Sarenrae and Iomedae's clerics would have a harder time selling them on the idea of letting any of the undead stick around, but Pharasma? She's practical. She'd even let the Whispering Tyrant go if it would give her a chance to grab Urgathoa by her stringy black hair and drag her back to the Boneyard to face Judgement.


Ok, look at it this way.

Cleric of Pharasma (or a paladin) is chasing a vampire. The vampire gets to a town before her and creates 5 vampire spawn. He goes to the next town, creates 5 more spawn. He does the same in the next town and the next.

The cleric/paladin knows that if the vampire gets to Town Z before she does then the vampire will cause a wave of undeath to kill everyone in every town that he visited on the way there.

So, knowing what is at stake (ha ha) why is the cleric/paladin required to stop at each town and hunt down and destroy each nest of spawn when the head vampire is clearly the greater threat? Each stop uses up time and resources that would be better spent on hunting the head vampire.

Nothing keeps the cleric/paladin from coming back and taking out the spawn nests later, but he could lose the war by focusing on the small battles.

Spoiler:
A cleric of Pharasma or a Paladin would be bound to come back and take out the vampires in Ashes at Dawn when all is finished, but in what way are they serving their goddess by willingly walking into the very trap their enemies want them to walk into?

This specific situation has been discussed to death in the Carrion Crown forum, but it basically comes down to gods not being blinded by hate and being able to see the forest for the trees. Pharasma and the Paladin having gods would be more concerned with the plans of the Whispering Way than they would be with a nest of vampires living in equilibrium with a city for centuries. That isn't to say that they don't care if their follower just ignores the vampires, far from it. But it does mean that they would put the priority on stopping the Way and leaving cleaning out the vampire nest for after. Especially if working with the vampires means learning more and more about the nest and how they operate so they can be taken out easier later.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

Can we move this discussion to the carrion crown section?

My opinion is that a cleric of Pharasma can temporarily ally with undead only if it aids in the destruction of an even more powerful undead opponent.

Silver Crusade Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm dealing with this very issue in my Carrion Crown campaign as well. The Ulfen paladin, who did not have a patron deity when it started, is a recent convert to Pharasma. He understands the greater need, the greater goal that the group is trying to accomplish. Does he like it? Not by any means. But the player told me that he's looking at it in the same manner that Blade did in Blade II. He's using the time to learn all he can about the vampires, their spawn and their mortal servants. I commended him on his patience, something his character was never known for previously.


Responding to the OP I would just say "no". The church of Pharasma doesn't give a damn about the greater good. They're neutral. Everything dies in the end and sooner or later is largely irrelevant. So take that Daylight, the stakes and as much garlic as you can bear and do unto the foul abominations.

Shadow Lodge Star Voter 2013

That's almost like what is going on. Here let me correct it. All that is going on, and the cleric/paladin meets Urgathoa. Urgathoa says I'll finance you to go kill this vampire. Cleric/paladin says okay, "I mean Pharasma, your archrival who stands against you in all things, well all except for this I guess is practicle right?"

No, sorry. It both contradicts the setting material and it breaks sense of belief. Otherwise we might see some Clerics of Pharasma casting Animate Dead, when it was practicle.

"As a follower of Pharasma, you detest Urgathoa, Orcus, and all those who exult in undeath, for they represent both a corruption of natural existence and a vile bending of the will of Pharasma."

Taboos
"The taboos of the faith are largely local in nature, but there are a few that remain constant across the faith. . . . While necromancy
has many beneficial spells that allow you to care for both the dead and the living, you may not create undead, nor control them unless you do so specifically for the purpose of destroying them."

"The church despises the undead as abominations to the natural order, and all priests follow the church’s teachings about undead without question; creating undead is forbidden, and controlling existing undead is frowned upon, even by evil Pharasmin priests."


To respond to several things here:

1) Asking my DM isn't going to help, as his knowledge of Golarion is generally less than mine, and I'm not particularly well-read on the subject.

2) When I said greater good, I meant greater good as far as Pharasma sees it - in this case, opposing the Whispering Tyrant, a lich that wants to kill the entire world and raise them all as undead.

3) While I could just barely see my character tolerate working with the vampires for a short time in order to get necessary information about Tar-Baphon (with the full intention of destroying the vampires after the info is gathered), the idea of hunting down a "serial killer of vampires" and stopping him? Absurd. He's not a serial killer! He's destroying abominations whose very existence blasphemes Pharasma.

I guess my only real option is to pretend to work with the vampires while being loaded down with anti-undead spells, and once we get the info, unload on them. By no means will I assist in killing or causing any harm to the vampire hunter, however. Pretty sure this character is going to die in the attempt, since two of the other party members most likely won't help, but oh well.


In their eyes he is a serial killer but that's a different discussion entirely. As for this problem the book does adress howto treat the situation. The whispering way worships urgathoa, pharasma's sworn enemy, so working with the vampires for the information is a nescessary evil to one of pharasma's followers. You get the info stop the way and then return to purge the city, that is my reccomendation.


Beckett wrote:


"As a follower of Pharasma, you detest Urgathoa, Orcus, and all those who exult in undeath, for they represent both a corruption of natural existence and a vile bending of the will of Pharasma."

Taboos
"The taboos of the faith are largely local in nature, but there are a few that remain constant across the faith. . . . While necromancy
has many beneficial spells that allow you to care for both the dead and the living, you may not create undead, nor control them unless you do so specifically for the purpose of destroying them."

"The church despises the undead as abominations to the natural order, and all priests follow the church’s teachings about undead without question; creating undead is forbidden, and controlling existing undead is frowned upon, even by evil Pharasmin priests."

As I have been reading through this thread and thinking about things, these quotes say a lot of what I would have posted. The text says a cleric of Pharasma will not create or control undead. This says nothing about tolerating one long enough in order to complete a goal larger than just the destruction of these undead. You can despise something, yet tolerate it, in extreme circumstances.

Silver Crusade Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Beckett wrote:

That's almost like what is going on. Here let me correct it. All that is going on, and the cleric/paladin meets Urgathoa. Urgathoa says I'll finance you to go kill this vampire. Cleric/paladin says okay, "I mean Pharasma, your archrival who stands against you in all things, well all except for this I guess is practicle right?"

No, sorry. It both contradicts the setting material and it breaks sense of belief. Otherwise we might see some Clerics of Pharasma casting Animate Dead, when it was practicle.

What are you trying get at here. I'm having a hard time understanding what you've written.

Beckett wrote:

"As a follower of Pharasma, you detest Urgathoa, Orcus, and all those who exult in undeath, for they represent both a corruption of natural existence and a vile bending of the will of Pharasma."

Taboos
"The taboos of the faith are largely local in nature, but there are a few that remain constant across the faith. . . . While necromancy
has many beneficial spells that allow you to care for both the dead and the living, you may not create undead, nor control them unless you do so specifically for the purpose of destroying them."

"The church despises the undead as abominations to the natural order, and all priests follow the church’s teachings about undead without question; creating undead is forbidden, and controlling existing undead is frowned upon, even by evil Pharasmin priests."

This I understand, as you're quoting from Faiths of Balance. I consult it as well as the write up for Pharasma in Trial of the Beast, which says pretty much the same thing. FoB has these items as well.

"Whether depicted as the midwife, the prophet, or the reaper, Pharasma is a cold goddess with responsibility for the ultimate fate of all
mortal souls. Yet though she represents death, she is not cruel; she shepherds souls into and out of the mortal world with care, taking no pleasure in suffering. She has seen tyrants prosper and the innocent
weep, and is necessarily amoral, yet she has also seen people change dramatically over their lives, and thus withholds judgment until a mortal’s death. Though she can read the patterns and is said to know the fate of every life as it enters the world, she also understands the inconsistency of prophecy, and holds such knowledge close to her chest,
maintaining the idea (or illusion) of free will."

The majority of the this is important, but the most important is this passage - 'Though she can read the patterns and is said to know the fate of every life as it enters the world, she also understands the inconsistency of prophecy, and holds such knowledge close to her chest,
maintaining the idea (or illusion) of free will.'

Free will implies choice and those that act in her name are free to choose how they will best serve her. This is further reflected with the following:

"You follow Pharasma because you believe in fate, and in the inescapable path of destiny. Everyone worships the goddess to some extent, for not even the most hubristic of mortals or gods can deny that hers is the hand that shepherds souls into the afterlife, sending those bound to other gods to their rightful destinations. It’s said that even Aroden was judged after his death by the Lady of Graves.
For those who worship Pharasma above all others, the most important things in life are birth, death, and prophecy. When you adventure in her name, it is often to destroy undead (which are antithetical to the natural cycle) or to seek out and attempt to understand strange prophecies. You may seek to protect the dead from disgrace, and are exceedingly uncomfortable with the standard adventurers’ practice of tomb robbing (though you have no problem rooting out whatever abominations may have taken up residence in such places, provided the innocent dead are treated with respect)."

Note that the word 'often' is used when it speaks of adventurers and the destruction of undead. Many times. Frequently. That is the definition of often. It does not mean every time or always. Often, as it is used here, gives the follower of Pharasma the opportunity to examine situations pertaining to undead as they encounter them and judge how best to deal with them on a case by case basis. Many times, the answer may be wholesale destruction. Sometimes it is not. How that runs counter to the setting is something I have trouble understanding.

Shadow Lodge Star Voter 2013

Pharasma would then strip the Cleric of all divine abilities or the Paladin would then fall from grace, as they have just sinned against their own faith, willingly, or done what is expressly tabboo. I don't have a problem house rulling around it. I also don't even follow this myself.

My point is that I do not approciate Paizo writting this sort of stuff into their AP, particularly one that otherwise focusses so much on the exact oppostie of this scenerio, and not giving an alternate way for this to go down. It's poor writting, in my opinion. This is not a moral quandry, and there isn't a ethical choice here. This is not, in any way, an issue about making a less evil choice than the evil choice. It's setting the players up for failure, and then trying to had wave it as not that important.

Silver Crusade Star Voter 2014

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

That is your interpretation. There are many that share it. I would agree if Pharasma were Lawful Neutral. She is not, for that would make her more strict and rigid than she is. Pharasma is Neutral and that enables her the to ability to be more flexible when it comes to her clergy than most deities. Allowing a few vampires to exist in the face of dealing with the followers of a being that would turn all living things into undead and thus deny her the opportunity to judge and ferry those souls to their appropriate afterlives would be acceptable to her in my mind. This does not run counter to what has been written or established by the designers. It does not set the players up to fail as the purpose of the AP is defeating the Whispering Way.

But again, that is my interpretation.

Shadow Lodge Star Voter 2013

It's less my interpritation as what the devs insist is her view on things. Such runs counter to her faith, period. We also may be talking about a different encounter.

Contributor

Unless there's some extreme wonkiness going on, no cleric of any god is going to meet Urgathoa except, possibly, an extremely devout worshipper of Urgathoa who's mystically transformed into a Daughter of Urgathoa because she pleased her goddess--and even then, I seriously doubt she'd sense more of her goddess's presence than a mystical pat on the head as the transformation took place.

Theologically speaking, all undead are the creatures of Urgathoa but this is like saying that all beasts belong to Lamashtu and all beer to Cayden Cailean. Just because something is undead doesn't mean that it's a particularly devout follower of Urgathoa, or even follows her at all. Most liches likely fall into this category.

And then there's the idea of "exulting" in undeath. Religious claptrap aside, one assumes that "exulting" involves spreading undeath with maybe a little plague and pestilence on the side, and the more any particular undead does this, the higher they are on Pharasma's "Naughty" list and Urgathoa's "Nice" list. The ghoul who runs about eating orphans, making more of them, spreading ghoul fever and so on is going to be "exulting" more than the ghoul who's gotten himself a job as janitor for the local medical school and does a very good job of getting rid of the cadavers after the students are done with them and the only slight problem is that he isn't feeding them to the otyugh he says he is because it's conveniently dead.

And then there's the same ghoul after the school has found him out and someone wants to put to test that interesting necromantic phenomenon where a ghoul can eat all he likes, never get full, and never goes to the bathroom. So what happens when you chain his face to the spigot of a meat grinder and run as many bodies through as you can? Do you get a happy ghoul? A fat ghoul? A horrifically tormented ghoul? And while Zon-Kuthon would doubtless approve of a torture which has no end, even in undeath, you'd think that both Pharasma and Urgathoa would for once agree that this is not what they meant by "exulting" in undeath.

Now, given a choice between going after the Whispering Tyrant or the poor ghoul chained to the meat grinder in the wizard's basement, most clerics of Pharasma would agree that the Whispering Tyrant is a bigger priority because there's a lot more "exulting" going on there.

The vampires are the same thing. If they're smart, or lazy, or a little decadent, or all of the above, they're not going to be raising armies of spawn as fast as they can make them because frankly, that much exulting is serious work, and after you do it a few times, it gets boring and you find some comfortable equilibrium that works for you. And even if your chief joy is eating babies, if you're smart, you're going to realize that babies don't grow on trees, and you might want to do some matchmaking and paying for prenatal care for the local villagers. I mean, who wants a miscarriage? Not the local vampire who might even have money dropped in the poorbox of the local temple of Pharasma so long as the local cleric was more into midwifery than undead slaying. Likewise curing the sick, because how can you eat peasants if they all die of the plague? It's not like they grow on trees.

Admittedly this is undead as symbiote rather than parasite, but the most successful ones would be because Pharasma, also being the goddess of prophecy, understands priorities.


Before everyone keeps hating on Paizo for forcing Pharasma's clerics and paladins to ally with the vampires, the module does allow for the player characters to slaughter all of them. There are ways to get enough information to continue the storyline even if the vampires are all killed.

Shadow Lodge Star Voter 2013

No one is hating on Paizo, just agnoliging it was a poor decision, in my opinion. Carrion Crown, despite it's so many errors and issues, is by far my favorate AP. You might also take a look at what Wes mentions on page 5, and search on the issue a little on the boards before handwaving it away as not an an issue. :)

I don't use Golarion official lore, (it's to broken and contradicting), so this isn't so much an issue with me, but it is for both an official stance and because it breaks from what is an accepted standard for the setting.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Undead Mastermind: I will give you the codes to the bomb in that orphanage if you just let me go.

Cleric of Pharasma: I would like to save those children but you are undead so I am going to have to kill you instead.

People in the real world have to make hard choices and do things and work with people they don't like all the time. Police work with criminals (and even let them slide on petty stuff) in order to get to bigger important fish. The US funded terrorists to get at the Russians. We keep people in power in order to keep stability. Sometimes life just sucks.

If Clerics of Pharasma had to drop everything they are doing to destroy undead, I feel like there should be a giant crusade by the Gallow Spires,in Geb (or Nex don't remember which one is Undead), in Nidal, and all the other places Undead seem to be in abundance. But there aren't because when push comes to shove, you just gotta live your life. In the AP you are not really working for the vampires, you are coming to a mutual understanding. You are allowed to be logical, and under no circumstance should a PCs faith make them suicidal. Does ever Paladin that hears of a lich have to run straight for it, and go all kami kazi on it for no gain or real good reason? The AP just assumes that the PCs will no go attacking everything insight like rabid animals. I think you should be allowed to play a paladin or cleric and not have to play them like an insane zealot.


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Just to get that out of the way: Since Pharasma is true neutral (and not good, as wrongly stated earlier), there are no paladins of Pharasma.

And on a different note: to demand a taboo has to be uphold all the time and without exception is a purely lawful streak. I don't think (IMHO, of course) Pharasma would not allow a cleric to temporarily ally with an undead to prevent an even greater undead menace to reach its ghouls ... um ... goals.


my take on pharasman theology (which seems to what the thread is about now):

1-The primary concern is to let the dead rest in peace and on messing with their fate. No animating of corpses. No use of undead slaves (aka controlling undead). Even raising dead is questionable unless it is a willing soul the fated to get a second chance.

2-Mindless undead should be laid to rest wherever encountered, but that is almost like an act of mercy: restoring them to the rightful dead state.

3-Killing sentient undead like vampires is secondary. Yes they are a disgrace, and can not be allowed to escape death/fate forever. But if they don't otherwise disturb the balance between life and death, they are small fry. Animating innocent corpses is much more vexing than simply being undead.

In short: the main agenda is to protect the innocent dead, allowing normal people to journey from life to death unmolested. Animated dead are an abomination, but where the mindless bodies are victims to be released rather than monsters to hunt. Hunting rogue undead is secondary.

Quote:
You may seek to protect the dead from disgrace, and are exceedingly uncomfortable with the standard adventurers’ practice of tomb robbing (though you have no problem rooting out whatever abominations may have taken up residence in such places, provided the innocent dead are treated with respect)

I think this quote supports my view: protecting the innocent dead is clearly the main priority, but the cleric has no problem rooting out abmoniations (undead or otherwise) as long as the dead are treated ok.

Based on this, cooperating with said group to stop a larger threat is comparable to paladins cooperating with known criminals.

EDIT: the ultra-lawful aspect of Pharasma is: you can't cheat death, you can't escape judgement, you can't change the rules. Not anal, just inexorable. Doesn't force any behaviour, but records every choice for judgement day.

Silver Crusade

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IMO--

I'm not faulting, nor would I fault, a Cleric of Pharasma for not dropping everything else she's doing to go hunt down a bunch of Vampires. The Whispering Tyrant is a much higher priority.

However... I still do not see, under any circumstances mentioned thus far-- helping a bunch of vampires stop someone who is doing the right thing (ending their unlife). For me, leaving the vampires alone because you have a more important mission isn't the problem-- it's the idea that you're going to assist the vampires in stopping someone who's doing Pharasma's work by eliminating them.

The two points-- not wasting time eliminating every last undead bloodsucker you come across, and allying with them to eliminate a hero-- are not the same thing.


Lanx wrote:
Just to get that out of the way: Since Pharasma is true neutral (and not good, as wrongly stated earlier), there are no paladins of Pharasma.

Well, technically, the Paladin class entry doesn't say that Paladins must follow deities who are within one step of LG. As a result, there could be a Paladin of Pharasma, though she would be an unusual choice of deity for a Paladin.

Also: I don't think killing the vampires would be a "kamikaze mission". I'm pretty sure the vampires are a CR-appropriate challenge, and if the party agreed to help, the vampires could be killed without high risk of character death.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Fionnabhair wrote:
Lanx wrote:
Just to get that out of the way: Since Pharasma is true neutral (and not good, as wrongly stated earlier), there are no paladins of Pharasma.

Well, technically, the Paladin class entry doesn't say that Paladins must follow deities who are within one step of LG. As a result, there could be a Paladin of Pharasma, though she would be an unusual choice of deity for a Paladin.

Also: I don't think killing the vampires would be a "kamikaze mission". I'm pretty sure the vampires are a CR-appropriate challenge, and if the party agreed to help, the vampires could be killed without high risk of character death.

The characters are not fully aware of this fact to be certain. This is also due to the fact that it is an AP and everything sort of levels up with the characters, so pretty much everything is level appropriate all the time.

CC:
The AP itself sort of deals with this. The head vampire is CR 18 and is talked about during the continuing the adventure section. So if the PCs tracked him down at level 12 there is a good chance they could be TPKed. The AP sort of just has him absent though since they want to give people the option of killing all the vampires while still remaining in the level gap.


randomwalker wrote:

my take on pharasman theology (which seems to what the thread is about now):

1-The primary concern is to let the dead rest in peace and on messing with their fate. No animating of corpses. No use of undead slaves (aka controlling undead). Even raising dead is questionable unless it is a willing soul the fated to get a second chance.

2-Mindless undead should be laid to rest wherever encountered, but that is almost like an act of mercy: restoring them to the rightful dead state.

3-Killing sentient undead like vampires is secondary. Yes they are a disgrace, and can not be allowed to escape death/fate forever. But if they don't otherwise disturb the balance between life and death, they are small fry. Animating innocent corpses is much more vexing than simply being undead.

In short: the main agenda is to protect the innocent dead, allowing normal people to journey from life to death unmolested. Animated dead are an abomination, but where the mindless bodies are victims to be released rather than monsters to hunt. Hunting rogue undead is secondary.

I don't understand the reasoning that putting down mindless undead is a higher priority to Pharasmins than putting down thinking undead. The skeleton or zombie is actually pretty insignificant since it is mindless - there's not really any soul left to it. Ghouls and other undead that can infect the living and pull others out of the natural cycle are pretty big offenders to the order. Sentient undead that willingly seek out their condition - such as the lich and many vampires - are horrendous abominations in the eyes of the Pharasmin faith. Vampires are even worse than liches because they have to feed upon the living and can spread the curse of undeath to others. It makes things even worse to realize than Vampires often congregate in groups, making them even more of a threat. Sorry, but don't let the modern day 'white hat vampire' fool you - in the Pathfinder world, vampires are about as bad as you can get.

Shadow Lodge Star Voter 2013

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To the Pharasma and her faithful, intelligent undead are slightly worse, because they (usually) made some choice to become undead, or choose to continue that existance, which is cheating Pharasma. Unintelligent undead are only slightly less "hated" because they are outside the natural order of things (death, soul, rebirth, afterlife, etc. . . ) but mostly because they are disturning the dead, which she and her faith are all about protecting and honoring.

I'm not really so sure about the mindless undead being more an issue. :)

Also note, that Pharasma, (it's been said before it just doesn't seem to be sinking in) is not good aligned. She is cold and practicle in the sense that everyone dies. While she doesn't have any particular desire to kill and does not wish to punish/torture, she does not have an issue say, burning down an orphinage to destroy a vampire cult hiding in the basement. That was their time. A good aligned cleric/paladin of Pharasma, (pretty sure I've seen published Paladins of Pharasma???), is caught between their two beliefs. Goodness and their strong faith and alignment to the faith of Pharasma. Not being good is not going to wreck their class abilities (except for the paladin). Betraying their faith's principles to Pharasma, even if it is for Good (alignment) will, because Pharasma is their sorce of power, and acting against her teachings is a no-no for divine classes.

Contributor

Beckett wrote:

To the Pharasma and her faithful, intelligent undead are slightly worse, because they (usually) made some choice to become undead, or choose to continue that existance, which is cheating Pharasma. Unintelligent undead are only slightly less "hated" because they are outside the natural order of things (death, soul, rebirth, afterlife, etc. . . ) but mostly because they are disturning the dead, which she and her faith are all about protecting and honoring.

I'm not really so sure about the mindless undead being more an issue. :)

Also note, that Pharasma, (it's been said before it just doesn't seem to be sinking in) is not good aligned. She is cold and practicle in the sense that everyone dies. While she doesn't have any particular desire to kill and does not wish to punish/torture, she does not have an issue say, burning down an orphinage to destroy a vampire cult hiding in the basement. That was their time. A good aligned cleric/paladin of Pharasma, (pretty sure I've seen published Paladins of Pharasma???), is caught between their two beliefs. Goodness and their strong faith and alignment to the faith of Pharasma. Not being good is not going to wreck their class abilities (except for the paladin). Betraying their faith's principles to Pharasma, even if it is for Good (alignment) will, because Pharasma is their sorce of power, and acting against her teachings is a no-no for divine classes.

That was their time?

Ahem.

The Goddess of Prophecy would like to have a word with anyone presumptuous enough to declare when anyone's time is besides herself. Especially if these words come out of the mouth of one of her clerics or paladins.

Ahem. Ex-clerics or paladins.

Ditto for anyone who says any variant on "Kill 'em all and let Pharasma sort them out!" When it comes their time to be sorted, well, guess who just volunteered for lowest priority while more urgent cases are attended to?

Aside from the whole business of saying when it's anyone's time to die--which is Pharasma's business--another part of her business is dealing with the dead, and nothing causes more undead than people dying with unfinished business or in pain and torment. Both is almost a perfect recipe for generating a tormented spirit, and burning a bunch of orphans alive in an orphanage? Um, yeah.

And wait until one of the orphan spirits finds out that it was a cleric of Pharasma who burned him alive and becomes a vengeful ghost who won't rest until he has justice. Justice!

How do you spell "justice"? Pharasma has been doing this sort of paperwork long enough that she knows that it's probably not going to be a splash of holy water and a lollipop, or even some fake words about "We will always remember this tragedy." Yes, that would be nice, but let's be realistic. Enough "justice" to lay the ghost would probably involve building a new orphanage if not also burning down one of her own temples, likely with the clerics inside. Anyone volunteering for self-immolation duty aside from the idiot who burned the orphanage?

This is not to say that you can't have evil clerics of Pharasma, but they better be very clear on the idea that if they kill anyone for their own amusement or convenience or whatever, they risk both treading on one of Pharasma's prophecies and also creating a restless spirit.

Shadow Lodge Star Voter 2013

No, not ex-clerics. It IS Pharasma's job to decide whose time is up, and that shouldn't be a main issue with the faithful. A Cleric deciding it is or is not, however, is stepping outside of the faith's beliefs. Except that they are the literal and figurative mouthpiece and voice of their faith in the world. The hands of their deity.

Remember that part about not desiring pain or to kill or torture. That is part of the it too. If it come down to needing to choose between righting a wrong (killing undead) vs killing others (who are going to die anyway), Pharasma would choose to kill and destroy the undead, I think most of the time.If there is no other option. It's extreme, and that is particularly why I said that as an example. The faith is NOT good aligned. They do not value life as sacred or emotionally the same way that you are ascribing to them. But I will thank you for proving my point about why it is so bad to create contradicting views and truths in canon.

She is not good aligned. She is practicle and cold, willing to burn down the forest knowing that, in time, that is how the forest will thrive. Also remember, though she is the deity of prophecy and fate, the death of aroden has destroyed those two aspects, even for her.


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I don't think that most undead spontaneously arise from dying while butthurt. I think that most of them come about from magic. Whether it's Animate Dead, Create Undead, Create Greater Undead, or more specific and exotic magics, I still say it's from magic. There are certainly undead that propagate themselves, but I would still contend that the lines were initially spawned by magic. To assume otherwise is to believe that undeath is natural to some degree since living creatures are going to die and some of them are going to die in bad ways.

Shadow Lodge

HappyDaze wrote:
I don't think that most undead spontaneously arise from dying while butthurt.

This might just be my next drunk tattoo. . .

ha ha ha :)

Contributor

Beckett wrote:

No, not ex-clerics. It IS Pharasma's job to decide whose time is up, and that shouldn't be a main issue with the faithful. A Cleric deciding it is or is not, however, is stepping outside of the faith's beliefs. Except that they are the literal and figurative mouthpiece and voice of their faith in the world. The hands of their deity.

Remember that part about not desiring pain or to kill or torture. That is part of the it too. If it come down to needing to choose between righting a wrong (killing undead) vs killing others (who are going to die anyway), Pharasma would choose to kill and destroy the undead, I think most of the time.If there is no other option. It's extreme, and that is particularly why I said that as an example. The faith is NOT good aligned. They do not value life as sacred or emotionally the same way that you are ascribing to them. But I will thank you for proving my point about why it is so bad to create contradicting views and truths in canon.

She is not good aligned. She is practicle and cold, willing to burn down the forest knowing that, in time, that is how the forest will thrive. Also remember, though she is the deity of prophecy and fate, the death of aroden has destroyed those two aspects, even for her.

With the death of Aroden, I think all that can be shown is that Pharasma withheld that particular prophecy from her clerics, causing many of them to be rather put out, as it's a rather glaring omission. But from a theological standpoint, if giving any particular prophecy might change fate, it would be that one.

Alternately, she didn't know, because even her foresight isn't complete. She's not saying.

With the business of burning the orphans along with the vampires, you'd think there'd be more than a few easy excuses to get the kids out before setting fire to the building and the bloodsuckers in the basement. Make an illusion of an ice cream truck. Hire the Child Catcher from Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang. Whatever. Just locking the doors on the kids and dousing the place with lamp oil? That doesn't read "necessary" so much as "convenient."

As for undead arising from people being "butt-hurt," that's pretty much the classic way when you don't have a necromancer or evil cleric handy or some other variety of undead, and it's also pretty much the only way to get a ghost which are always the most troublesome because they don't take "Booga-booga! Go away because my goddess disapproves of your existence!" as an acceptable reason to quit haunting.

Ghosts always want something, and "Justice" is on the list of all-time favorites.


My point is that in this game you DO have necromancers and evil clerics, and they are generally the root of undead creation.

Still, I will concede that the ghost is the poster child for undeath by butthurt, but I still don't see it as the career kick start for most of the rest of the graveyard shift.

Silver Crusade Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Not reading spoilers and much of the thread because I'm playing in Carrion Crown, but personally: Blind, absolute absolutism is a damn dangerous thing.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Fionnabhair wrote:
Lanx wrote:
Just to get that out of the way: Since Pharasma is true neutral (and not good, as wrongly stated earlier), there are no paladins of Pharasma.
Well, technically, the Paladin class entry doesn't say that Paladins must follow deities who are within one step of LG. As a result, there could be a Paladin of Pharasma, though she would be an unusual choice of deity for a Paladin.

This is true, but

Faith of Balances, p. 27 wrote:
Of all the gods of balance, only one supports and promotes a holy order of paladins: Abadar.

This makes paladins of Pharasma extremely unlikely.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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In my opinion, most deities are more concerned with their greater goals rather than every little action a single mortal takes. I'm positive Pharasma can handle the occasional strange bedfellow for her clerics if it serves her interests--though, as in the real world, various members of her church may be far more hard-line about everything.

That said, it's the GM's call. If he or she wants to play any of the gods as strict doctrine-oriented folks... well, maybe it's because that particular PC is more important than we realize, in the grand scheme of things, and thus warrants personal attention... (And of course, the reverse is also true--perhaps a PC is so important that a god is willing to bend the rules a little.)

Silver Crusade Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Lanx wrote:
Fionnabhair wrote:
Lanx wrote:
Just to get that out of the way: Since Pharasma is true neutral (and not good, as wrongly stated earlier), there are no paladins of Pharasma.
Well, technically, the Paladin class entry doesn't say that Paladins must follow deities who are within one step of LG. As a result, there could be a Paladin of Pharasma, though she would be an unusual choice of deity for a Paladin.

This is true, but

Faith of Balances, p. 27 wrote:
Of all the gods of balance, only one supports and promotes a holy order of paladins: Abadar.
This makes paladins of Pharasma extremely unlikely.

Unlikely... yes.

Impossible... no.

Paladins can operate outside the structure of a holy order. Irori doesn't support a holy order, but it has been acknowledged that there are paladins that champion his beliefs. They're just extremely rare.

If a paladin's player decides to take up arms for Pharasma, then they should be allowed to do so, provided that the DM agrees.


Starting a war with the vampires might just make more vampires, and that is certainly worse than working with them. Given the options, less is better than more so cooperation can be done. Hunting them down later is also an option however.

Grand Lodge

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A classic problem of theology...can a blasphemy become acceptable for the greater good, especially to prevent a greater, yet similar, blasphemy down the road...obviously I can't speak for the Gods here, but the usual answer is, unfortunately, a no.

In 3.5, Book of Exalted Deeds expressed this point rather clearly when it described using evil for the sake of the greater good. The good folks at WotC explained to us that using evil is NEVER a good option, regardless of circumstance and outcome. Think on it in terms of, oh, lets say, a point scale. Every time a good end is achieved, you get Good points. Every time a bad event occurs, you get Bad points. An evil action earns you bad points, so even if you eliminate an evil circumstance (thus earning you good points), evil still gets points. This is generally considered a no-no. A harsh ruling, yes, but a strict cleric wouldn't do this. The only probable exception is if Pharasma herself intercepted and told you that you are allowed to commit this sin. Otherwise, even if it would do you good, you can't do it. Blasphemy is blasphemy, sin is sin. Traditionally, circumstance doesn't enter the picture, because doing so risks broadening and generalizing what is supposed to be an iron-clad ruling and thus diluting its significance and purpose (a la, if you define morality based on current standards and situations, anything done by a majority would be considered "moral," which is obviously not the case, for example, slavery). A paragon of clerics would therefore find some third option to achieve the same end, no matter how difficult. HOWEVER, we are all still mortal, and mortals are flawed. Technically, you shouldn't, especially with a judgmental goddess like Pharasma (literally the judge of the universe, I might add), but...it'd be a pretty mild sin when compared to failing to taking down...well...you know...


For this AP in particular, its something the DM and Players need to sit down and seriously discuss before you ever even make the characters.

Thigns such as:

"guys, Pharisma is a very bad choice in this adventure"
the same way you might tell a ranger to avoid X as favored enemy,
or a wizard to avoid specializing in X because it won't be terribly effective.

If the DM believes that Pharisma's teachings are such that the cleric would lose their powers for going along with the "AP Railroad" that hte PC's are rather expected to follow in the contract of settling down and doing an AP, thats something the player needs to know.

If the DM has decided Pharisma isn't that tight fisted then he can just ignore it and let the RP roll knowing that whichevery way the PC decides, its just good RP opportunity and growth for the character.

What IMO the DM Shouldn't do is stay silent on the issue at char gen when someone is choosing Pharisma and then yank their powers with a "ha ha the Ap screwed you" stick.

Thats just.. rotten.

-S

Shadow Lodge

My main issue is that this starts to set a presidence, and clearly or unclearly as you will, begins to undercut how the setting and the game are suppossed to work. Clerics and paladins follow codes. Those codes are both based in alignment and based in their faiths, which might contradict.

If it is okay for a follower of Pharasma to do something that their faith expressly decides is wrong, then where in the sand is the line drawn. This is not something that should be up to either the DM or different from group to group, becuase the player should know what to expect, in general, while playing classes that have a code. If that code does not matter, if it is "just guidelines", then that restriction needs to just be dropped.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Selgard wrote:

For this AP in particular, its something the DM and Players need to sit down and seriously discuss before you ever even make the characters.

Thigns such as:

"guys, Pharisma is a very bad choice in this adventure"
the same way you might tell a ranger to avoid X as favored enemy,
or a wizard to avoid specializing in X because it won't be terribly effective.

If the DM believes that Pharisma's teachings are such that the cleric would lose their powers for going along with the "AP Railroad" that hte PC's are rather expected to follow in the contract of settling down and doing an AP, thats something the player needs to know.

If the DM has decided Pharisma isn't that tight fisted then he can just ignore it and let the RP roll knowing that whichevery way the PC decides, its just good RP opportunity and growth for the character.

What IMO the DM Shouldn't do is stay silent on the issue at char gen when someone is choosing Pharisma and then yank their powers with a "ha ha the Ap screwed you" stick.

Thats just.. rotten.

-S

Or the DM should be ready to do a little ad libing. It has been awhile since I read it, but the PCs can just drop kick the vampires in the face if they really wanted to. There is nothing saying they have to work with them. I still agree with you though, the GM should advice the played on what types of choices might work best, or provide the most fun for everyone. I can see some options causing some serious issues in the different APs, and while I think it might make their lives a little harder I remember when I read the AP thinking, these issues can all be circumvented with only minor difficulty.

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