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Rahadoum - Not atheistic, but dystheistic


Pathfinder Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Sczarni

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As we are all geeks here, and not strangers to the pedantic, I thought I'd point out something that has been bothering me about the Campaign Setting. Rahadoum is described in various campaign setting works as "atheistic," but I think that it might be more correct to say that they are either dystheistic or misotheistic. These two philosophical positions represent the idea that the gods are real and powerful (which even those in Rahadoum would freely admit) but that all gods are inherently corrupt and unworthy of worship, despite what their followers might preach. Basically it's like this:

a-theist = no god(s)
dys-theist = bad god(s)
miso-theist = hatred of god(s)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dystheism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misotheism

I know one of the objections would be "well, everyone knows the word 'atheism' and nobody has ever heard of these other two." Well, when I was in junior high school and started playing roleplaying games for the first time, I spent a lot of time with a big dictionary looking up all the words that I'd never seen before, and I was better off for it.

What think ye, Pathfinders?

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think both are better descriptions than atheist in a world where you can a) summon divine aid / allies every 6 seconds, and b) their heralds routinely get involved in mortal affairs. Gods being literally real and tangible without the faith component is just something that reasonably sane folks can't go "Nuh uh, they don't exist!"

Sczarni

Exactly. Gods and goddesses (and things that are neither male nor female but fit the definition of gods) are manifest and active in the world. They are undeniable. Everything I've read about Rahadoum says that they just got fed up with all the strife caused by various religious orders and their warring against each other. They decided to cut themselves off from worship, not from belief. In fact, I think one of the writeups on Rahadoum actually makes reference to the fact that the people of Rahadoum (Rahadoumi?) believe in the gods (accept their existence, based on the overwhelming evidence), they're just not allowed to or inclined to worship them.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Approved.

It also goes a long way to address the editorial issue expressed by James Jacobs: (paraphrasing) atheism as a real-world "belief" portrayed in a fantasy game with "real" gods can be curiously offensive to real-world atheists.

Dystheism, as a category, is much less likely to rankle.

I certainly hope Paizo adopts this terminology and hopefully that it removes whatever blocks may exist to more Rahadoum material. I really like that nation, and though I am (coincidentally) an atheist I doubt I would be one on Golarion. The appeal of Rahadoum speaks much more to my anti-authoritarian streak, and not at all to my spiritual beliefs.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Have you read Death's Heretic? This explains their point of view quite well.


TheBigBlueFrog wrote:


Dystheism
Misotheism

Andoran

I totally agree. In fact, on another similar thread, I had gone so far as to point out that the government of Rahadoum is a misotheistic state.

Sczarni

Glad to know I'm not the only one who's noticed this.

Shadow Lodge

Favorites for you!

Silver Crusade

You would never believe how many people are misotheistic in the world today, so in a way Rahadoum reflects reality.

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

I can actually hear Rahadoumi scholars berating foreigners about this:

"No you credulous fool! We are not atheists we are dystheists! Why do you idiots always get this wrong!"


FallofCamelot wrote:

I can actually hear Rahadoumi scholars berating foreigners about this:

"No you credulous fool! We are not atheists we are dystheists! Why do you idiots always get this wrong!"

Hah. I think my next PC will be from Rahadoum.

But he won't be like that. He'll be really, really quiet. I imagine many Rahadoumi are.


TheBigBlueFrog wrote:
What think ye, Pathfinders?

I share your banner. Since I first read about Rahadoum.


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i agree with the whole viewpoint you suggest.

as i am christian, i do tend to sometimes play atheistic characters sometimes in golarion since it does intrigue me. i usually take the stance that the "gods" arent really gods, since they can be killed and die from other causes whereas a true god would be eternal, therefore they are just very powerful mortals, not gods.

rahadoum doesnt have this approach. they just dont like the conflicts started in the name of dieties, so its almost as though they are against religion, organized or not, because it makes people do CRAZY things. so one could argue that they arent actually dystheistic or misotheistic but rather anti-religious, but im not arguing that. it is a concept that interests me though.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Quote:

Approved.

It also goes a long way to address the editorial issue expressed by James Jacobs: (paraphrasing) atheism as a real-world "belief" portrayed in a fantasy game with "real" gods can be curiously offensive to real-world atheists.

Dystheism, as a category, is much less likely to rankle.

I certainly hope Paizo adopts this terminology and hopefully that it removes whatever blocks may exist to more Rahadoum material. I really like that nation, and though I am (coincidentally) an atheist I doubt I would be one on Golarion. The appeal of Rahadoum speaks much more to my anti-authoritarian streak, and not at all to my spiritual beliefs.

I am not sure how people would find this offensive. Actually I will go a step further and say I am not sure how this could even be seen as offensive.I can only assume you are referring to people who hate the gods being called atheist?

Quote:
Exactly. Gods and goddesses (and things that are neither male nor female but fit the definition of gods) are manifest and active in the world. They are undeniable. Everything I've read about Rahadoum says that they just got fed up with all the strife caused by various religious orders and their warring against each other. They decided to cut themselves off from worship, not from belief. In fact, I think one of the writeups on Rahadoum actually makes reference to the fact that the people of Rahadoum (Rahadoumi?) believe in the gods (accept their existence, based on the overwhelming evidence), they're just not allowed to or inclined to worship them.

I disagree with this. I think it is just as easy to deny the existence of the gods in Fantasy Settings as it is in the real world. It is all about perspective. There are plenty of things that are not Gods that can be treated as Gods, Demonlords, Powerful Elementals, Crazy Fey, Things from beyond the stars or other dimensions, and even powerful mortals. Aroden was a man before he became a god, and then later he died. If you could give me a definition of a god, that some other entity could not fulfill then I would agree with you they are undeniable, but I doubt you could.

Osirion

TheBigBlueFrog wrote:

As we are all geeks here, and not strangers to the pedantic, I thought I'd point out something that has been bothering me about the Campaign Setting. Rahadoum is described in various campaign setting works as "atheistic," but I think that it might be more correct to say that they are either dystheistic or misotheistic. These two philosophical positions represent the idea that the gods are real and powerful (which even those in Rahadoum would freely admit) but that all gods are inherently corrupt and unworthy of worship, despite what their followers might preach. Basically it's like this:

a-theist = no god(s)
dys-theist = bad god(s)
miso-theist = hatred of god(s)

It seemed to me, in the initial writeup of Rahadoum, that they didn't so much *hate* the gods (or think of them as corrupt), as they hated what inter-religious warfare and strife had done to their nation.

It wasn't a 'the gods are crazy' moment, it was a 'this is more trouble than it's worth, just ban everything! Throw the baby out with the bathwater!' moment.

These days, the pendulum seems to have swung a bit to 'everyone in Rahadoum is evil, crazy and filled with hate, and will burn their own atheist brother at the stake when he gains that 4th ranger level' so I'm not sure whether my initial view was overly rosy-spectacled, or the vision of Rahadoum has changed to the point where it's not really usable, other than as an example of places in Golarion that are not really usable for anything (other than the usual object lesson that people can't be trusted to make their own decisions, and will only succeed under the guiding hand of a monarch or tyrant), and to be avoided at all cost.

Atheist is probably as good as it's gonna get. It's still pretty much a dirty word, and the latest poll on the subject showed that Americans are 4% more willing to elect a Moslem President (and 14% more likely to elect a gay or lesbian President) than an atheist, ranking atheists dead last of all the categories polled.

Cheliax

2 people marked this as a favorite.

As an atheist, there are unfortunate implications to calling the nation that 'hates' the gods atheistic. All of us have been accused on more than one occasion of hating or having an issue with god. It's an obnoxious stereotype used to dismiss our philosophy as the rantings of angry children.

I will thank Paizo, however, for taking the right step away from D&D and not making the nation they dub atheistic an Always Chaotic Evil human-drow equivalent.


Timothy Hanson wrote:
I am not sure how people would find this offensive. Actually I will go a step further and say I am not sure how this could even be seen as offensive.I can only assume you are referring to people who hate the gods being called atheist?

To clarify, the "offensive" content with respect to atheism in Pathfinder was not related to Rahadoum, but rather to the treatement of atheist souls in the Great Beyond cosmology. It's been discussed, and I think the creative director has said he would have it work differently in future versions.

Now, I wasn't personally offended by the Great Beyond example, but I can see how it gets a little strange what with atheism being the only belief system that exists more or less identically in the real world and the fantasy setting.

I am not trying to make a big deal of it, though. This topic carries a lot of baggage, and I fear that baggage may keep Paizo from exploring Rahadoum as much as I would like. Let's not let this thread degenerate into a real-world religious debate.


Set wrote:
These days, the pendulum seems to have swung a bit to 'everyone in Rahadoum is evil, crazy and filled with hate, and will burn their own atheist brother at the stake when he gains that 4th ranger level'

What pendulum is this? Did I miss some content? This seems radically different from how the nation is portrayed in the two campaign setting guides.

Taldor

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

As we are all geeks here, and not strangers to the pedantic, I thought I'd point out something that has been bothering me about the Campaign Setting. Rahadoum is described in various campaign setting works as "atheistic," but I think that it might be more correct to say that they are either dystheistic or misotheistic. These two philosophical positions represent the idea that the gods are real and powerful (which even those in Rahadoum would freely admit) but that all gods are inherently corrupt and unworthy of worship, despite what their followers might preach. Basically it's like this:

a-theist = no god(s)
dys-theist = bad god(s)
miso-theist = hatred of god(s)

It seemed to me, in the initial writeup of Rahadoum, that they didn't so much *hate* the gods (or think of them as corrupt), as they hated what inter-religious warfare and strife had done to their nation.

It wasn't a 'the gods are crazy' moment, it was a 'this is more trouble than it's worth, just ban everything! Throw the baby out with the bathwater!' moment.

This is how I read it as well.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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Evil Lincoln wrote:
Set wrote:
These days, the pendulum seems to have swung a bit to 'everyone in Rahadoum is evil, crazy and filled with hate, and will burn their own atheist brother at the stake when he gains that 4th ranger level'
What pendulum is this? Did I miss some content? This seems radically different from how the nation is portrayed in the two campaign setting guides.

I'm with Lincoln--as probably the staffer with the most investment in Rahadoum, it's definitely not supposed to be a totally evil, hateful place. While there's certainly a witch-hunt element for those who directly espouse the worship of a god, they see it as an attempt to protect their freedom and independence from powerful outside forces (the gods and their churches) who are constantly throwing their weight around and telling mortals what to do.

I see Rahadoum less as an evil society, and more as a fiercely independent nation that's terrified of religious terrorists trying to subvert or destroy their culture. (I know, it's an outlandish idea for a nation, but this is fantasy, right...?)

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Sutter wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
Set wrote:
These days, the pendulum seems to have swung a bit to 'everyone in Rahadoum is evil, crazy and filled with hate, and will burn their own atheist brother at the stake when he gains that 4th ranger level'
What pendulum is this? Did I miss some content? This seems radically different from how the nation is portrayed in the two campaign setting guides.

I'm with Lincoln--as probably the staffer with the most investment in Rahadoum, it's definitely not supposed to be a totally evil, hateful place. While there's certainly a witch-hunt element for those who directly espouse the worship of a god, they see it as an attempt to protect their freedom and independence from powerful outside forces (the gods and their churches) who are constantly throwing their weight around and telling mortals what to do.

I see Rahadoum less as an evil society, and more as a fiercely independent nation that's terrified of religious terrorists trying to subvert or destroy their culture. (I know, it's an outlandish idea for a nation, but this is fantasy, right...?)

I've read Death's Heretic, and I don't get the sense of Rahadoum as evil. (BTW, is the name intended as a sound off of Babylon 5 and/or Lord of the Rings?. I'm waiting for a chance to sound off the line. "If you go to Rahadoum you will die." some day) I do get the sense that they are very sensitive to the ideas that the gods of the world do resent their status and are constantly trying to subvert it. Paranoid perhaps, but. But evil in intent, not so much.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Also, while I agree 100% with the semantic arguments around the term "atheist," it's important to remember that in a world where the gods are *objectively real,* the refusal to believe that they exist is likely held by so few people that it would be viewed as a mental disorder rather than a theological position. So perhaps it's not surprising that the Rahadoumis read "no gods" as meaning "WORSHIP no gods" rather than "THERE ARE no gods."

Spoiler:

/end self-aware hand-waving

Osirion

Evil Lincoln wrote:
Set wrote:
These days, the pendulum seems to have swung a bit to 'everyone in Rahadoum is evil, crazy and filled with hate, and will burn their own atheist brother at the stake when he gains that 4th ranger level'
What pendulum is this? Did I miss some content? This seems radically different from how the nation is portrayed in the two campaign setting guides.

I got that impression from this post.

It stuck in my head because of the passive-aggressive 'some people don't get it' that was going in from the chorus, which is, unfortunately, not uncommon, and seems to be encouraged at times.


Set wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
Set wrote:
These days, the pendulum seems to have swung a bit to 'everyone in Rahadoum is evil, crazy and filled with hate, and will burn their own atheist brother at the stake when he gains that 4th ranger level'
What pendulum is this? Did I miss some content? This seems radically different from how the nation is portrayed in the two campaign setting guides.

I got that impression from this post.

It stuck in my head because of the passive-aggressive 'some people don't get it' that was going in from the chorus, which is, unfortunately, not uncommon, and seems to be encouraged at times.

Couple that with the execution of any cleric or paladin and the fact that the government of Rahadoum iis currently trying to engineer a crisis, come save the day, and then blame it religious believers down't help their position either.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Set wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
Set wrote:
These days, the pendulum seems to have swung a bit to 'everyone in Rahadoum is evil, crazy and filled with hate, and will burn their own atheist brother at the stake when he gains that 4th ranger level'
What pendulum is this? Did I miss some content? This seems radically different from how the nation is portrayed in the two campaign setting guides.

I got that impression from this post.

It stuck in my head because of the passive-aggressive 'some people don't get it' that was going in from the chorus, which is, unfortunately, not uncommon, and seems to be encouraged at times.

When it comes to labeling a nation "good guys" or "bad guys," it's easy for folks to look at the same data and come away with differing opinions--even within our staff. Jacobs and I are particularly notorious for having opposing viewpoints on matters of morality (ask us about Hermea sometime).

That's not a flaw. Rather, it's the point. To me (and I think to a lot of us here at Paizo), morally gray settings are far more interesting than easily pigeonholed ones. If we've been doing too much to portray Rahadoum negatively, that's good to know, and it's probably time we started showing more of its positive aspects. (Certainly I tried to explain and humanize the Pure Legion in Death's Heretic, and hope to work with it more in the future.) Because like every nation I've been to in the real world, Rahadoum is made up of people, and therefor has both good and bad elements.

Would I immigrate to Rahadoum? Hell no--I want all that divine magic to keep my PCs healthy and happy. Yet I can also see the nobility in their mission (if not their method), and am fascinated by the course their history has taken.

And if trying to describe the morality and philosophy of its people is causing discussion on the boards--and in the office--then I feel like we must be doing something right. :)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Also, it should be noted that religious folks aren't necessarily executed. The Rahadoumi government also uses fines, exile, imprisonment, and other methods to oust folks of a religious bent. I imagine that it's a lot like the war on drugs--in some places the laws are extremely harsh, in other places you can get off with much lighter punishments.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

(P.S: I'm not a cultural relativist, I just play one in Pathfinder.)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

I think a lot of the conflicting viewpoints come from some of the extremes Rahadoum gets taken to in different venues. I remember reading one PbP character's bio that left me going "man what" with its allegedly LG Pure Legion character fanatically butchering Sarenraen men, women, and children. Sticking to actual canon sources, guys like Rupert Rain from the NPC Guide really don't help much in the sympathy department what with putting weapons into circulation specifically made to kill divine casters of any sort and outsiders of any sort, including good ones made of good dead mortals, without any care for who they'll be used against.

Really, the core flaw with Rahadoum's society isn't the choice that they've made for themselves, but rather that they make it for others. State-imposed beliefs and would make me nervous whether it was Rahadoums enforced lack-of-it or if Lastwall suddenly decided to persecute every faith that wasn't Iomedaean. Kind of why I'd figure Ezren would be as uncomfortable about the place on moral and ethical grounds as Kyra. I think that's what tends to boil away a lot sympathy many folks might otherwise have for the Rahadoumi. Perhaps more focus on the more moderate portions of Rahadoum and the Pure Legion rather than dangerous fanatics(like the above-mentioned Rupert Rain) could go a long way towards restoring some of that, maybe with more focus on the common people.*

And good point on the alternate(and much lighter) punishments for breaking the law in Rahadoum. Those tend to get a lot less attention when the more extreme examples grab it all. Like with focusing more on the average Rahadoumi rather than the hardliners, perhaps that needs to get more airtime to show that the Pure Legion isn't to Rahadoum what the Burners are to Iomedae?

*Though from what I've heard, Death's Heretic sounds like it fits that bill.


Well, James, I'm glad you agree.

I think maybe adopting different terminology going forward would help to navigate that thorny issue, however. Even in this thread I feel we are ever teetering on the precipice of a religious diatribe or three.

I really like Rahadoum, and I'm really a fan of your contributions in particular (City of Strangers!) , and the notion of you developing it more has me very excited. I hate to think it would lie fallow because of the religious baggage. If dystheism instead of atheism makes it even one iota more likely we'll get a book, then dystheism it should be!

Osirion

2 people marked this as a favorite.
James Sutter wrote:
(ask us about Hermea sometime).

Yeah, Hermea's another one that intrigues me. On the face, it sounds interesting. Digging deeper it sounds kind of like yet another 'road to hell, paved with good intentions.' (See; Rahadoum, Galt, possibly Andoran, depending on whether or not the Lumber Consortium finishes getting their fingers in every pie...)

Sometimes it seems like, when I suggest something to make a character or concept from a place like Nidal or Rahadoum or Razmiran or Hermea playable, it gets smacked down with a 'you can't do that, these people are bad-guys' argument, and even the fuzzy areas where I can squeeze in a playable concept are shut down hard and re-defined as unfriendly to play, as if these entire nations were intentionally designed to be unusable.

I get that, for instance, there could be *something* hinky going on Hermea, for instance, but if a dragon with *at least* 25 in all of his mental stats and charm spells and a +36 or more Diplomacy modifier, is somehow incapable of covering his tracks so as to not leave burned corpses littering the beaches, and have rumors of that travelling all along the Inner Sea, then something's really wrong with that dragon. Not like 'crazy' or 'evil,' but, 'profoundly incompetent and not very bright.'

I mean, it's *got* to be anti-Mengkare propaganda, because a 20d10+ breath weapon isn't gonna leave recognizable corpses behind to be found by visiting ship captains, now is it? Someone's planting them there (or just planting the rumors). It may even be Mengkare himself! (to discourage those he hasn't deemed worthy from flocking to his well-ordered island paradise...)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

I think it's easy to fall into the trap of constantly presenting "bad guys" in our products, because GMs generally want NPCs (and monsters, etc.) that they can have PCs fight rather than ally with, and a lot of GMs feel that if there's a "G" in a character's alignment, then that character is useless to them except as a GM mouthpiece. (Personally, I *love* pitting players against good guys, but that's just me.) As much as I may have a reputation for wanting everything to be morally gray, I also have a big problem with the "good guys are useless" philosophy. While I suspect that you'll likely see a lot more bad guys from Rahadoum (and every other nation) spotlighted, I'll certainly do what I can to keep it from turning into an oversimplified "bad guy" nation.

And Set, I like the way you think about Hermea. :D

(P.S: You know, this is a lot like the problem where news agencies generally report bad news, and thus if most of your exposure to a given minority is through those news outlets, you'll naturally develop a negative opinion of them...)


And with that, Mr. Sutter threatens to push the thread off a different thread entire. ;)

Sczarni

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm just glad that my original post has led to such a rational discussion of language, religion and in-game morality. Thanks, everyone, for contributing to this thread.


Set wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
Set wrote:
These days, the pendulum seems to have swung a bit to 'everyone in Rahadoum is evil, crazy and filled with hate, and will burn their own atheist brother at the stake when he gains that 4th ranger level'
What pendulum is this? Did I miss some content? This seems radically different from how the nation is portrayed in the two campaign setting guides.
I got that impression from this post.

Not to mention this slightly earlier post where it seems that the police will be called when your ranger reaches level 4.


hogarth wrote:
Set wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
Set wrote:
These days, the pendulum seems to have swung a bit to 'everyone in Rahadoum is evil, crazy and filled with hate, and will burn their own atheist brother at the stake when he gains that 4th ranger level'
What pendulum is this? Did I miss some content? This seems radically different from how the nation is portrayed in the two campaign setting guides.
I got that impression from this post.
Not to mention this slightly earlier post where it seems that the police will be called when your ranger reaches level 4.

That seems likely to be the case, yes.

Best to hide your spellcasting in public if you're a ranger in Rahadoum. Fortunately that's not usually too hard to do (a spellcasting-focused ranger is generally a rare sight).

Or take an archetype that swaps spells for something else (I bet the trapper archetype sees a lot more use among Rahadoumi rangers than it does elsewhere).

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Also, as mentioned above, Rahadoumis are not robots. Individuals (and even individuals working for the government) are likely to all have differing opinions and interpretations of what "zero tolerance" means.

Setting information is there to inspire, not straitjacket. The point at which you feel like part of a setting is monolithic, uniform, and boring is the point at which we as designers have failed--no society is truly uniform, now or at any point in history. There are always exceptions, factions, and interpretations.

In short: it's your game--play it the way you want!


I am still confused about a couple of things especially JJ has said about Rahadoum...

Quote:
Rahadoum is not tolerant of divine magic at all. The Laws of Man do not make a distinction between clerics or druids or paladins or rangers or oracles or inquisitors or ANY divine casters... Even if you're one of the druids who doesn't worship a deity (some do, remember, and the lawmakers of Rahadoum don't really make distinctions between those who do and those who don't), you STILL believe in something other than humanity's right to live without faith.

Oracles don't have a hoot to do with faith of any kind, their own or of others.

Nor do Rangers, who spells merely come from meditating an hour per day.
Nor do Atheist Paladins who heed no god nor advocate such.
Just like some creatures have 'Arcane' SLAs, some characters can have 'divine' magic powers.
Some of those are from Deity Faith, some aren't.
Are demi-humans whose racial abilities give them 'divine' SLAs/etc also treated as illegal?
Should Wizards/Sorcerors avoid Celestial Familiars, etc, if they want to avoid problems in Radahoudoum?
What about Witches, whose spells ARE stored in a magical sort of being (the familiar, with help from patron)?

Quote:
Witches and diabolists are arcane spellcasters—they'd probably weird out some Rahadoum citizens, but since a witch can do things on her own without fear of a higher power or philosophy snatching away her powers, she remains the ruler of her destiny and thus fits in with Rahadoum's creed.

Oracles can't lose their powers due to a higher power/philosophy snatching away their powers (at least any more than anybody else, e.g. Ennervation), Rangers can't, and Paladins aren't particularyl different than just a real finnicky Monk (and they can be Atheistic to boot) both of whose abilities don't work when they stray away from a certain narrow path that is implicit in those abilities.

Maybe there's a good reason behind the mass ban on 'Divine' magic, but I'm just not seeing it from the stated creed of Rahadoum... I understand that some cases may be 'fringe' extremism but I just don't see to logically come fromp point A to point B in applying Rahadoum's ideology here...

Also, what exactly is the means used to determine 'Divine Magic' usage?
Is there a Detect Divine magical spell? (arcane presumably)

Taldor Contributor

When I was working on the Jistka chapter for Lost Kingdoms I had this idea - not really explored in the final product - that part of the Rahadoumi rejection of the Gods might potentially stem from the psychic scars of the Jistkan gods turning their back on the Imperium. But that was millennia older than the current atheistic state, so it would have been a pretty long evolution towards that philosophy.
Aristun, the founder of Jistka, also discounted the importance of the afterlife, and his heirs generally promoted human achievement and arcane power - golems and other constructs, their chief innovations - are in a sense the usurpation of divine creative power. Hence, the Jistkan distain for gods or humanist philosophy is probably (regardless of the behaviour of the Jistkan gods) a direct ancestor of the present Rahadoumi secular state.


Quandary wrote:

Maybe there's a good reason behind the mass ban on 'Divine' magic, but I'm just not seeing it from the stated creed of Rahadoum... I understand that some cases may be 'fringe' extremism but I just don't see to logically come fromp point A to point B in applying Rahadoum's ideology here...

Also, what exactly is the means used to determine 'Divine Magic' usage?
Is there a Detect Divine magical spell? (arcane presumably)

My guess is that a blanket banning of divine magic makes it easier to not let worshippers in. If the ban is specifically on those who get their magic from gods, then a cleric could pretend to be an oracle and get into Rahadoumi society. And Rahadoumi society wouldn't like that. Best to just ban all divine magic, because then you're not accidentally letting someone of faith in on the belief that they're a different class.

And I believe a simple detect magic identifies "Divine" in place of which arcane school a spell belongs to, if it's a divine spell being cast (presumably this info is revealed upon a successful knowledge religion check rather than the usual knowledge arcana to identify school). At least that's how I run it.

Osirion

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Quandary wrote:

Also, what exactly is the means used to determine 'Divine Magic' usage?

Is there a Detect Divine magical spell? (arcane presumably)

Arcane sight (sor/wiz 3), AFAIK, is the only core spell that can tell if a spell is divine or arcane. Spellcraft, Knowledge (arcana/religion) and the detect magic spell don't do that.

But Rahadoumi citizens can automatically tell if a spell is divine, and don't need to cast spells to do so. That's been explained to me in previous threads on the topic, that you cast one divine spell and BAM, they can just tell, and while those who explained that to me were not Paizo employees, they did get the thumbs up from the official replies.

My own original notion was that the Rahadoumi don't even know what the meta-game concept of the divine descriptor is, and simply persecuted people who worshipped the gods (spellcasters or not, divine or arcane or psionic), with clerics being the 'soft target' since, in Golarion, they all have to worship a god. Adepts, Rangers, etc. so long as confirmed atheists, would have been fine, and a theist Wizard would have been run out of town on a rail, regardless of whether or not his spells were arcane.

But I was corrected on that. Casters of 'divine' spells are verboten, even if atheists. The most theist of theists are fine, so long as they cast arcane spells (or none at all), and don't build any churches or preach on streetcorners.

The whole country must be a breeding ground for Milani-worshippers. There's not a lot of places where a goddess of violent revolutions and blood-soaked streets be kind of preferable to the status quo, but Rahadoum seems to be on the short list.


Set wrote:
But I was corrected on that. Casters of 'divine' spells are verboten, even if atheists. The most theist of theists are fine, so long as they cast arcane spells (or none at all), and don't build any churches or preach on streetcorners.

Apparently the problem is having faith in anything (nature, etc.). Which leads to the paradox: what happens if I have faith in the Rahadoumi government? ;-)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
hogarth wrote:
Set wrote:
But I was corrected on that. Casters of 'divine' spells are verboten, even if atheists. The most theist of theists are fine, so long as they cast arcane spells (or none at all), and don't build any churches or preach on streetcorners.
Apparently the problem is having faith in anything (nature, etc.). Which leads to the paradox: what happens if I have faith in the Rahadoumi government? ;-)

That is... a whole can of worms.

ANYWAY, SET (note, this will contain a lot of in-character style!):

Let me put it this way: Set, you're original idea was probably "right"... to an extent. The long and short: if a divine character doesn't go around waving their divine flag, they'll get on in Rahadoum just fine. The problem is, most can't, otherwise they won't be doing their religion any kind of a service at all.

I mean, those verbal components for divine spells aren't likely to be the same verbal components for arcane spells, so, you know, praying to Gorum is probably going to be pretty obvious. At least that's how I take it.

As was said above, all divine magic is banned because it's easier to control things that way... just to make sure. I mean, what if an oracle renamed "Gorum" to "himself" in his own personal version of that religion! Then when he's praying to "himself", he might secretly be praying to Gorum! That tricky fiend! Let's get 'em! (I know of at least one famous Christian comedian who jokingly said he renamed his bed "the word" to sound more spiritual during 6 AM phone calls from fellow believers... see, he was in "the word" when they called.)

In some ways it's kind of like the U.S. - we hate(d) witchcraft as being the Devil's handiwork because of cultural heritage and beliefs. Some of them even are! But what about those perfectly nice, good people that thought/think of themselves as "Witches", but actually seek to do no evil? The act of persecuting innocent people isn't a good one - at all. But then again, there are those witches that do worship the Devil, and do seek to do evil and harm. And, much like today, those are often the ones that get all the press.

Sometimes people get a certain idea, perpetuated culturally, and oppose others based on bigoted beliefs... those same people who are ordinarily decent, good, upstanding citizens who generously give to their neighbors and make sure the poor and the homeless are fed. But drop in someone who was secretly a practicing "witch"?! Oh no! How awful! Quietly trying to infiltrate our society with their mind-and-soul-bending ways! How wicked can you get?! And after all we've done for you! I mean, that other guy, sure he likes and respects Witchcraft (which is stupid and creepy), but at least he doesn't practice it! And really, if there was nothing sinister, why would they have to hide it?!

You could totally see how this could be applied to all divine magic powers.

Point in fact, that evil "divine" thing? It totally destroyed their country a while back. And those terrible, awful "divine" people - while trying to persuade them, no less! - cursed the land as they left, leaving a once-green pastures to become harsh desert. No... divinity isn't a nice, good thing at all, much less one that should be allowed. They've already proven themselves and shown just what their true colors are like.

Much better to stick with Man and Rule of Law. At least we're real people, not puppets dancing to the string of some nasty "higher power". Sure some may "worship" gods, but the gods aren't truly acting through them, and they don't channel their actual power/presence/whatever. So, they're creepy, but still part of acceptable society, as they're not truly corrupting anyone.

And those Druids! Also always trying to tell us what to do and how to run our lives! And they even have their own secret cultic language thing they actively hunt down and protect with violence! If they didn't have something to hide, why would they do that?! And those rangers use awfully similar magic. They may be innocent puppets, but they're corrupted now! Same with paladins, the poor dupes!

No, far better to be safe, make sure, and be of clear conscience knowing that our souls, fates, and destiny are actually our own, not some detestable "god"-thing's.

(thus concludes the in-character style!)

I mean, I like your idea, Set, and it's a totally valid one for a home game, I just get the idea that they're going for the other idea (up above) instead. A bunch of otherwise fairly decent people who have one major bigoted awful shoved up their posterior due to their own history that's kind of spiraled (understandably, from a certain, ignorant viewpoint) out of control into a self-perpetuating thing.

I mean, people that worship gods are persecuted... but not in the destructive way. They're creepy, unliked social outcasts. Those who channel divine power of any kind, however (and there is a clear delineation between arcane and divine magic beyond just meta-game descriptors) are the real enemy and they are the persecuted ones. In a way, that makes more sense, and makes Rahadoum less "evil", because they're genuinely only assaulting the "real threats", as they understand it.

And I'm pretty sure Rahadoum is a breeding ground for Milani worshippers. Which is just one more major reason why the country hates gods, because, I mean, you know: she's trying to overthrow the government in a violent revolution.

(Also, worth noting, Set, I actually really like your idea. I think the designers just took it in a different direction than you, and am trying to explain it as opposed to argue it.)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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While it may conflict with some previous messageboard posts--and allow me to remind folks once more that messageboard posts by me or any other individual staffer are NOT canon, as we're a team effort here--my interpretation as one of the staffers most invested in the issue is that Rahadoum's policies are against religion and allegiance to a god--not divine magic, per se.

That said, if a Rahadoumi caster detects divine magic in his neighbor, the safest assumption is that the other person is probably a cleric. Sure, they might *say* they're not, and that their power is coming from somewhere areligious... but really, in this sort of McCarthyist witch-hunt environment, everybody's going to say that. Better to just treat them like a terrorist. (This, in fact, is the backstory for our iconic oracle, Alahazra.)

To be clear, though: Rahadoumi citizens cannot automatically tell if someone's a divine caster. That's not in the rules, nor does it make sense for the world--why would a random pig farmer be able to spot the difference between spell types? An arcane caster can likely tell if somebody's spell is arcane or divine if they witness it or examine its magical traces after the fact, but as long as the divine caster takes care not to cast in front of anybody who might be able to guess their secret, it's easy enough for them to blend in. That's one of the big themes of Rahadoum--religious casters could be *anywhere*, doing their devious work, and in many cases actually are maintaining underground congregations. If all divine casters were automatically detectable, that wouldn't work, and the whole nation would be way less interesting.


OK, that sounds alot more like what I originally took away from CS descriptions of Rahadoum.
It doesn't seem that Rahadoum is otherwise especially ignorant, and in fact has colleges of arcane magic, etc,
which implies that important parts of society/government are well aware of non-deific sources of 'divine magic',
(from studies of Arcane Eye theory and why stuff totally unconnected with the gods sometimes 'lights it up')
but I don't see that meaning that such knowledge is wide-spread and well integrated/understood,
so cases like Alahazra's MAY very well be fairly common(?), although I'd expect SOME Oracles (etc) to be able to exist at least semi-openly within the knowledge of 'official' Pure Legion/regime personalities (without requiring them to self-consciously become 'agents of deity-worshippers'). Actually, Colleges of Arcane Magic seem just the perfect sort of milieu for them to be accepted in :-)

So... problem with getting from Point A to Point B is fixed. Yay!


One can identify whether a spell is divine or arcane merely by identifying the spell, as pet the feat Arcane Vendetta out of the setting book.

I would very much advocate for 'atheism' to be used in the setting books to indicate, you know, atheism, and for words that accurately describe the viewpoint of those who believe that the gods are, say, evil ('maltheism') to be used for their part.


Whose big idea was Rahadoum anyway?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
Terraneaux wrote:

One can identify whether a spell is divine or arcane merely by identifying the spell, as pet the feat Arcane Vendetta out of the setting book.

I would very much advocate for 'atheism' to be used in the setting books to indicate, you know, atheism, and for words that accurately describe the viewpoint of those who believe that the gods are, say, evil ('maltheism') to be used for their part.

The average pig farmer doesn't have the Arcane Vendetta feat. Also, while almost everyone knows the definition of atheism, other -ism terms are a bit more obscure. Don't sweat it.

Osirion

Generic Villain wrote:
Also, while almost everyone knows the definition of atheism, other -ism terms are a bit more obscure. Don't sweat it.

As related to a game setting where 'divine' can mean 'a type of spell cast by an atheist Ranger' *or* 'of or relating to the gods' *or* 'an actual god' and 'profane' can mean 'something sacred to a god I don't like' and 'evil' can be a subtype, spell descriptor *or* alignment, and applied to a non-evil person (such as someone currently under the effect of Infernal Healing, or a risen fiend, who retains their evil subtype, while being of good alignment) or non-sentient object incapable of malevolence, I would have to agree that we are long, long past using words to mean what they mean.

Eh. 3.0 introduced a lot of grammatical strangeness, leading to funkiness like a sacred bonus being able to stack with a profane bonus, but not with another sacred bonus... (Iomedae and Asmodeus work together better than Iomedae and Torag!)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
Set wrote:

Good stuff

Good stuff! I never thought about it that way. One word that springs to mind is blashpemy - by definition it's an act or verbal curse against God, but when there are hundreds (thousands?) of gods, almost everything you do is blashpemy to some higher power or another.

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