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The most evil LG Paladins


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


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Before I write anything, I apologize for the clickbait title. [/sorrynotsorry]

How would an evil regime smear a competent Good government as the most vile thing on the planet? Specifically, I was thinking of a marauding CE country using various half-truths, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, and other deceptions to defame a LG country. The CE country would be some sort of mixed-ethncity empire or coalition that believes it is morally and culturally superior, as well as Good (Detect Evil would probably be thought of as Detect Ambition or something). The LG country would host an order of Paladins, be lead by a redeemed criminal-turned-Paladin, and share a contested border with the CE country. The CE country's propaganda should usually follow logically, seem to be confirmed by facts at hand, and not be racist, sexist, or belief that they are inherently superior (although superiority of ideals is OK).

Should the LG country be ethnically homogenous, and slandered as racist? Should the CE country have no tax (government budget won via pillage), and the LG government's tax be labeled as oppressive, bad for business, and kleptocratic? Would they have strict laws (slandered as oppressive), or lenient ones? (considered immoral). Many minor laws (bureaucratic and smothering), or a few large ones? (lack of nuance is disproportionate to crime?) Should they have a volunteer military, so the CE people can call the LG military warmongers? Or should it be a conscript military, so the CE country can say the LG people are violating their freedoms? Should the LG government be a democracy, and labeled as slow and ineffective? Or should it be a monarchy, and be called autocratic? Or maybe a theocracy, so the CE government can say that the LG government is a giant murder cult (and doesn't like freedom of religion)? What should the relative sizes and powers of these countries be - smaller CE one, to look like a defiant underdog, or larger one, to make the LG one look like an outlier? Would the CE country view divine magic or magic in general as evil?

For the Paladin order in particular, what are some practices that could be construed as insanely evil? Perhaps Smite could be thought of as some crazy discrimination against ambitious people (evil folks), other religions, and certain races (well, types, not subtypes) of sentient beings (Colorful dragons, undead, Evil outsiders). The mechanic wouldn't be described directly "smite evil", but might be recounted as the Paladin getting a crazy look in their eye, glowing with evil magical power, and going on a murder-rampage. Maybe if they wore certain colors (black, red), and had certain styles of weapons and armor (mostly spikey things and face-covering helmets), and had certain aspects emphasized (blood-stained, giant, angry, implacable, etc.) they could appear to be villains? Or if their daily prayers consisted of loud ritual chanting? Spells/LoH were reflavored to be red, black, purple, spikey, or otherwise evil-seeming? Vague, grandiose, cult/conspiracy theorist-sounding pronouncements? Something like: "Once we destroy your precious (CE country), the righteous shall be rewarded with a new world order!"

In short, how do I make Good people look really, really bad?


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LG imprisons people. To preserve order, freedom is threatened. LG believes it is worth the cost. All chaotic alignments disagree.

You could probably just attack their crusaders, and say they're not righteous paragons and are just as barbaric.

Provoke Paladins to publicly slaughter enemies. That makes them look really intimidating and untrustworthy. E.G., set up an assault in the middle of town with a bunch of cannon fodder. Now everyone can see how ruthless and savage the paladins are.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

There is a government in the River Kingdoms that outlaws all divine casters, mostly due to bad history of religious strife and civil war. It wasn't even an evil kingdom, just traumatized by too many years of holy war atrocities.

As for the most borderline evil Paladin I have witnessed in play - someone created a Paladin that would regularly detect the alignments of any person he met. If the person "pinged" evil, he would challenge said person to an immediate duel. If the person was unarmed, the Paladin would drop a weapon for the person to use in the duel. That was a primary example, yet you get the point - just enough of a loophole to be LG, yet walking a very keen edge away from falling.

Liberty's Edge

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

Take the most strange and mysterious rituals of their church and cast them in the worst possible light (example : Christians eat the body and blood of their own god)

Proclaim their apparent righteousness is a front for disgusting practices (worked against the Templars)

Use alt facts


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I'd think: what bothers me the most from LG characters/societies/organizations? Then take it to the extreme, exaggerate it, and you have a good argument against them.

LG societies seem oppresive to CE characters. Also, they choose their rulers with complex methods made only to keep the weak and unfit in the power. A CE bad leader will probably just be killed and replaced. A LG society prevents people from doing that, so a bad leader stays, no matter what people wants. That's tyranny!LG societies also force their people to give away their well earned money to their leaders. Isn't that robbing the poor to make the rich even richer?

Note that I don't say that I really think that, I'm just taking some LG practices out of context on purpose.

Edit: Another idea: They prosecute all people who don't believe the same as they do. They'll kill you just for worshipping a different god! (Of course, speaking specifically of worshipping an evil god with blatantly evil practices).


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber
KestrelZ wrote:
As for the most borderline evil Paladin I have witnessed in play - someone created a Paladin that would regularly detect the alignments of any person he met. If the person "pinged" evil, he would challenge said person to an immediate duel. If the person was unarmed, the Paladin would drop a weapon for the person to use in the duel. That was a primary example, yet you get the point - just enough of a loophole to be LG, yet walking a very keen edge away from falling.

What if the person refused to fight? Would the paladin just up and murder them?


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I am Martro Livondar, and I'm here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? "No," says the man from Andoran, "it belongs to the poor." "No," says the man from Cheliax, "it belongs to the Divine." "No," say the paladins, "it belongs to everyone." I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... Daggermark. A city where the artist would not fear the censor; where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality; where the great would not be constrained by the small! And with the sweat of your brow, Daggermark can become your city as well.


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Envall wrote:
I am Martro Livondar, and I'm here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? "No," says the man from Andoran, "it belongs to the poor." "No," says the man from Cheliax, "it belongs to the Divine." "No," say the paladins, "it belongs to everyone." I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... Daggermark. A city where the artist would not fear the censor; where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality; where the great would not be constrained by the small! And with the sweat of your brow, Daggermark can become your city as well.

Hmm, never thought of Randian "ethical egoism" as CE before (had considered it NE), but you make a compelling case.


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I think you could genuinely - if you wanted to - have the LG country up some ethically grey activities that they would believe are truly for the greater Good (and in an objective morality system, probably align with the methods of the Upper Planes.)

I'm thinking of coerced atonements to force alignment changes to LG.

Chaotic characters are imprisoned and held "for their own good" in camps until they submit to an alignment change, at which point they're allowed to go free, since the country can be assured that they'll align with the government. Such "detainees" would be treated well, and those that resist would likely be viewed with pity and sympathy. "Poor thing, you're just sick; but don't worry, we can fix you if you'll just let us help you. Why must you resist? "

Spells like Overwhelming Grief would be used until the detainees were ready to submit, "to help show them the error of their ways."

(Credit for this disturbing method goes to the excellent novel, "Villains by Necessity" by Eve Forward. I highly recommend a read to help you with this concept - assuming you can find a copy.)


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If the LG country, and it's Paladins, behave like most adventurers and exterminate certain creatures almost on sight (goblins, orcs, drow, any Always Evil) race, that's a good angle. Talk about innocent goblins cut down in their prime as these marauding crusaders invaded their village. See also: goblin babies.

Likewise, in the extremely likely case that the LG nation doesn't allow the Always Evil races full rights and citizenship then you've got obvious bias and discrimination. How judgemental the self-righteous elitists are.


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Hmm...

Lawful Good psychics that kidnap the violent, wipe their minds with amnesia spells, and give them new lives as productive members of society. I think all of these things are both Lawful, and Good is executed correctly. Then it gets really disturbing for the PC's though.


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I suggest you to look some pictures of european medieval/gothic/renacentist churchs, cathedrals, castles, etc. You can use them as an illustration too. They can be creepy.

Describe everythign as oppresive: clustered, walled, with a dim light. Fortresses have small windows so the lightening is often poor.

Also, describe high buildings as impossing figures. Everything must look opressive.

When portraying them describe them as imposing figures, speak in an humorless and harsh voice. Be polite but speak with authority.

If they are wearing armor never describe them as shiny. Describe them as bladed. An armored iron fist is also an evoking image. Everything must evoke opression, power, tyranny.

You can also look for some medieval religious hymns. Gregorian chants or something. They can be very creepy and mortuory. They might be just religious hymns but they'll evoke something much more creepy on your players, like necromantic rituals or something similar.

Playing with some images that are too associated with evil even if that's not true always helps creating the right mood so they unconsciously think they are dealing with bad guys.

Is this what you were asking for? I tried to give some ideas for the ambient, I hope you can use some.


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I've just had a random idea and I have to post it even if I don't know if it would fit your campaign.

Imagine the PCs realize this «evil» guys are keeping an horde of undead in some hidden crypt. Make it seem like they are planning to use them as an army.

The truth: A whole town was affected by an undead plague. Maybe they hadn't enough power to defeat them or maybe they thought they could reverse their condition. Some heroes sacrificed themselves to guide them to the aforementionated crypt even if they got trapped inside with them, to avoid the plague spreading and them causing more damage.

What the PCs know is just that these people are keeping about 200 undead. Scary, huh?


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My Self wrote:
Before I write anything, I apologize for the clickbait title. [/sorrynotsorry]

No worse than the news . . . which should provide you with quite a bit of inspiration.

My Self wrote:

How would an evil regime smear a competent Good government as the most vile thing on the planet? Specifically, I was thinking of a marauding CE country using various half-truths, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, and other deceptions to defame a LG country. {. . .}

Should the LG country be ethnically homogenous, and slandered as racist? Should the CE country have no tax (government budget won via pillage), and the LG government's tax be labeled as oppressive, bad for business, and kleptocratic? Would they have strict laws (slandered as oppressive), or lenient ones? (considered immoral). Many minor laws (bureaucratic and smothering), or a few large ones? (lack of nuance is disproportionate to crime?) Should they have a volunteer military, so the CE people can call the LG military warmongers? Or should it be a conscript military, so the CE country can say the LG people are violating their freedoms? Should the LG government be a democracy, and labeled as slow and ineffective? Or should it be a monarchy, and be called autocratic? Or maybe a theocracy, so the CE government can say that the LG government is a giant murder cult (and doesn't like freedom of religion)? What should the relative sizes and powers of these countries be - smaller CE one, to look like a defiant underdog, or larger one, to make the LG one look like an outlier? {. . .}

If the Chaotic Evil country is REALLY COMPETENT at this, they can use each of those things and their opposite simultaneously. As we have seen demonstrated on Earth, cognitive dissonance can produce results previously not thought to be possible.


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Kileanna wrote:

I suggest you to look some pictures of european medieval/gothic/renacentist churchs, cathedrals, castles, etc. You can use them as an illustration too. They can be creepy.

Describe everythign as oppresive: clustered, walled, with a dim light. Fortresses have small windows so the lightening is often poor.

Also, describe high buildings as impossing figures. Everything must look opressive.

When portraying them describe them as imposing figures, speak in an humorless and harsh voice. Be polite but speak with authority.

If they are wearing armor never describe them as shiny. Describe them as bladed. An armored iron fist is also an evoking image. Everything must evoke opression, power, tyranny.

You can also look for some medieval religious hymns. Gregorian chants or something. They can be very creepy and mortuory. They might be just religious hymns but they'll evoke something much more creepy on your players, like necromantic rituals or something similar.

Playing with some images that are too associated with evil even if that's not true always helps creating the right mood so they unconsciously think they are dealing with bad guys.

Is this what you were asking for? I tried to give some ideas for the ambient, I hope you can use some.

Yes, you hit the nail on the head. Or at least one of the nails. I'm looking for good guys to passively appear evil, and ways for bad guys to make good guys appear evil. I want to go full-court press on creating conscious and unconscious biases against them. And I'll look up some Gregorian chants.

Would it be too much to have the paladin-sorts converse in a foreign tongue that the player characters are not familiar with? Or to portray them as having accents, if they speak a language player characters do know?

Should the good guy folks have lots of art in their important buildings, or no? Should the evil folks be heavy on art? If so, what kind? Gargoyles? Tapestries? Paintings? In good condition? Should there be a general lack of luxuries and comforts, or should there be an unusual opulence in important locations (churches, fortresses, government buildings, etc.), while there is a total lack elsewhere? Equal or unequal distribution of wealth?


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Depending on how proficient you are in faking accents without making them look forced or goofy it can be a good solution.
Some languages and accents have a harsh note on them that helps creating a desired mood. But exaggerating it can cause the opposed effect, so it all depends on how comfortable you feel speaking with an accent.

Myself, when I try to use an accent I tend to fall too much into stereotypes so I usually avoid it. But I've seen GMs who do it great.

By the way, I love the idea of good guys passively looking evil. As someone who likes to mess a lot with my players preconceptions this is great.

I still remember a game that I played (Dalindra was the GM) and the evil guys were a child and a very polite and well mannered man who always seemed so helpful to us. The good guy was a harsh, rude and commanding man. I found a lot of proof against the real villains, but the other two players believed to the very end that the baddies were goodies and viceversa. Never underestimate the power of misconception.


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Another idea that just popped out of my mind: brainwashing kids.

The truth: The government has ruled that scholarship is compulsory until 12 years old and built schools in almost all the towns, so all children learn how to read and write, even the poor ones. LG, right?

The twisted truth: they brainwash their citizens since childhood, teaching them how to worship their gods and see other gods as evil. They also make them bow to their glorious leaders. They are growing religious fanatics from their early childhood.

If you want to add some scene involving the PCs you can have a mother carrying an unwilling child to school. He cries and she seems scared: if he doesn't go to school the government will punish them. If PCs ask about how are they punishing them, she answers that the government will take her money if she doesn't send her child to school. The truth is that the government has stated that parents with children that go to school have a cut on their taxes as an incentive to keep the children going to school. But the mother will not say it like that, of course.

Paizo Employee Community & Digital Content Director

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Removed a handful of posts. Let's keep real-world current events out of the threads discussing gameplay. Thanks!

Shadow Lodge

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Have the good guys use terms that sound like euphemisms, but aren't, like "Re-education Centers" or "Ministry of Truth."

Kileanna wrote:
I suggest you to look some pictures of european medieval/gothic/renacentist churchs, cathedrals, castles, etc. You can use them as an illustration too. They can be creepy.

If you want to go really over the top...

To expand on the ambiance:

Darkness is typically associated with evil, though to make it a bit more subtle you might want to stick with just describing things as dim like Kileanna suggested.

Poison also has a really bad reputation without being actually evil. It's called out as being typically inappropriate for paladins, but you could either intentionally subvert that or else make it a known (or just alleged) specialty of other factions within the country. You could design a really sinister looking alchemists' guild using snake imagery - which is in many cultures a symbol of healing and transformation.

You can also play with elemental imagery. Heroic players will use elemental powers all the time, but describe it right and these things could come off as creepy. Frost works well in presenting a character as "cold hearted" - a knight could have a "chill aura" emanating from his weapon, the touch of which "seems to sap the heat and life from you." Fire can have associations with either demons or angels, but if you describe it as sulfurous or smoky it tends to swing in the sinister direction. Storms are generally pretty ominous. Dripping, hissing acid should also get some heebies jeebied.

For weapons, try the flail. The things are intimidating but could also behind the curtain be associated with a benign harvest deity. Similarly, the scythe. Personally I also see greataxes, greatswords, kukri, and daggers as somewhat more threatening/sinister than longswords or rapiers.

For knightly types you'll want plate with face-concealing helms and the gauntlets Kileanna mentioned. If you can't get the NPC in heavy armour go for studded leather (perhaps "charcoal" or "rust" coloured).


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Thanks for the ambience suggestions. I'll make sure to make all the effects sound creepy. Face-concealing items sound good - make people less human, and appear almost stormtrooper-y. Should the equipment be uniform and well-maintained, or should it be haphazard, mixed, and cobbled together?

Weirdo wrote:
Have the good guys use terms that sound like euphemisms, but aren't, like "Re-education Centers" or "Ministry of Truth."

So these could be places like schools where they teach things like language (if the player characters don't know the local language), government fact-checking bureaus, etc.? Any particularly unflattering euphemisms for a tax collection agency? What specific fears should I invoke when trying to come up with names for a LG government's agencies?

How about sinister-sounding government official titles or religious leader titles? Are there any that would work particularly well? Any I should avoid? Would it be too obvious to go all "great/grand/supreme/dear leader"? Or "great general of heaven"? "The Boss"? "Minister of the Holy Land"? "First Citizen"? Are there more subtle, yet accurate ways to go about it? Any particular titles for police/guardsmen? Local priests?

As for setting, what state should the country be in? Should people be impoverished? Or unusually wealthy? Untouched by battles? War-torn? Should there be a lot of refugees? Lots of sights, sounds, and smells? Or should streets be empty? Should it seem sterile and lifeless, or should it be overflowing with problems? What would make the society seem evil, without actually being evil? Sprawling cities? Or ones that are subdivided by large walls?

What sort of terrain should the country be placed in? Should there be cities built on the sides of volcanoes? Mountainous, rocky terrain? Or swampland? Should it be on the edge of some vast, old-growth forest? Or a barren, icy tundra? Or maybe a desert? Salty flatlands? Lots of waterways, or none? Or perhaps dry or polluted waterways? Abundance of natural resources, or a complete lack of them? Frequently foggy, and sun often covered?

Also, to contrast with how the LG country appears, how should I outfit/portray/describe the CE country?


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"Darkness is typically associated with evil." I have used this, A Lot. Darkness is also often the only protector of the most oppressed. Darkness shields the fleeing slaves. It also provides a place for star-crossed lovers. Darkness blinds the forces of the Law, for good or ill.


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Also, player history matters. Have the players recently been through a particular AP/campaign that had distinctive villains? Then have the Lawful Good country have some similar characteristics, perhaps even from shared heritage if it is in the same world setting.


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In the Kingmaker game I am a part of, my paladin of Sarenrae could be viewed as evil by those outside of the kingdom he serves.

He is a firm believer in the law and maintaining order in the country. He fights dealing non-lethal damage with a club in an attempt to capture, and only draw his sword against mindless, instinct-driven, or irredeemable foes.

He offers his captured foes an opportunity for redemption, else they be punished by the law of the land. Seeing as the party makes those laws, there's a lot of death penalties and imprisonment without trial. That can be viewed a fairly eveil, even though he does what he does because he believes it is in the best interests of the people he judges.


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Going farther with the Good kingdom having imagery with unfortunate connotations: arthropods. As animals go, arachnids are extremely caring for their young, but that's not what anybody thinks of for what a spider represents. Some of the behaviours such as scorpion burrow shape are genetically ingrained, so that could be the reason why a dwarven clan would choose them as their emblem. Termites are viewed as pests, but are one of the few other animals that make large structures. You could incorporate this motif into the armour of the soldiers, such as antenna-like helmet frills denoting rank.

As for how to outfit the CE nation, make it so they have plenty of resources, significantly more than the LG nation. It means that, for example, the mines are less dangerous because they don't need to go as deep. It also means there's no actual reason to fight their resource-poor neighbour, they just feel like it.

My Self wrote:
Any particularly unflattering euphemisms for a tax collection agency?

The Wealth Redistribution Office.


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Another possibility is for the Lawful Good country to have a high percentage of (or even have overall originated from) redeemed evildoers, and the Evil (Chaotic or otherwise) country will stop at nothing to belittle, corrupt, and ultimately ruin that redemption.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

This is... actually a really cool concept!

And the thread has some awesome ideas!

That said, I've a few questions and comments.

I'm actually curious: if the country is chaotic evil, to what end are they interested in any sort of justification of their actions?

Chaotic evil, to me, ultimately needs to justify nothing - they are ultimately able to accept anything they desire for their own reasons. So, for example, if the country is chaotic evil and run that way, any government would inherently be a sham; the power structure would simply be whoever happens to be the "strongest" (relative word - it's whoever has the ability to leverage their greatest asset to greatest effect in a manner that allows them to control - through fear, manipulation, persuasion, beating others up, or whatever - the majority of influence).

Now, obviously, you're doing this for the benefit of the PCs.

But what motivation does the government have to trick a few low-level rubes?

(If the PCs are high level, I wouldn't expect any ruse to last long.)

Now, if you'd like to borrow some elements directly from Pathfinder... call the good guys "Hell Knights" (or something similar) and make them just as scary looking, with a pretty similar origin story: a "good" (really neutral) deity's clergy supposedly held sway in the region long ago, but - through corruption or incompetence or both - permitted the rise and flourish of a demonic cult of some sort.

If you really want to crib from PF's book, the originator, Dundel Ruel, lost first his son, then his wife to the machinations of this cult, as they spread drugs, deceit, and abuse through the city, unleashing chaos and death. Thus, he gathered his followers together, and set out to establish vigilante order and crush the demon-cult...

The collection of vigilantes that sought to redeem and restore order and justice and light and good to the failing society were mocked and belittled by the corrupted and decadent. Denounced by the priests who failed their own god as "Hell Knights" (or whatever) the vigilantes then took this new name, originally meant as an insult to shame them, as a badge of honor, and became the Hell Knights.

Note: you may be uncertain of the validity of the Hell Knights as a template, given how they're used in PF, and, you know, that's fair. However, allow me to point out two things: the oldest, unbroken always-extant order is the Order of the Scourge, i.e. the LN/LG order. Also, the Hell Knights purposefully purged cruel and corrupt orders from their ranks. It was not until the collapse of Cheliax from the death of Aroden, after a powerful and persuasive Hell Knight was convinced by Thrune that they had the best chance to unify the country and end the cyclical bloodshed and death; he then (against the will of pretty much all of the council) convinced the lictors of the same. This was the beginning of the "current" LN/LE tendencies among some of the orders of the Hellknights.

In any event, that's just one optional take on the whole thing.

That said, such a concept could suggest a solution to the initial question: if the demon-cult was destroyed, that doesn't mean the demon lord associated with it was. So, you know, a couple years or decades or centuries or whatever later, after the redeemed nation had finally started to lose its vigilance, a subtle game of manipulation and putting people into the "proper" places to finally bring the chaos and destruction down upon the people who escaped it such <an arbitrary length of time appropriate for your story> ago...

The CE nation might not know or care that it's a pawn - the rewards are pretty sweet, and it really wants to.

I'm still not sure who (other than the PCs) the propaganda is for, but that's one idea that comes to mind.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Kileanna wrote:
I suggest you to look some pictures of european medieval/gothic/renacentist churchs, cathedrals, castles, etc. You can use them as an illustration too. They can be creepy.
Weirdo wrote:
If you want to go really over the top...

Daggum, I always love the idea of that place.

"The bones of the saints..." indeed.

Weirdo wrote:
Darkness is typically associated with evil, though to make it a bit more subtle you might want to stick with just describing things as dim like Kileanna suggested.

This can be really emphasized by making an entire ninja "knightly" order devoted to stealth, subterfuge, and utilizing the power of darkness and shadows against their foes...

Bonus points if they're actual ninjas (for poison, they work with the alchemy guild, see below), or vigilantes for complete divinatory immunity making it look like they government is spending a loooooooooot of money to keep their (probably toooootally evil) secrets locked up tight...

Describing these shadow-users as assassins who strike their targets with impunity, only to summon up their undead shadows to feast upon the torment of their foes by withering the flesh (permanently crippling them) and outright killing others by this slow, crippling method. Since "everyone knows" how shadows spawn (CR 3, 10+CR = DC 13 knowledge is beyond most untrained, but all people need to know is that shadows that kill people make more shadows of the people they kill; that said, if they're "common" enough, locally, you could make it a DC 5+CR = DC 8 - easy enough for "everyone" to know whatever they need to), it's pretty clear these monsters are ripping out the souls of their victims and corrupting them into more corrupt, enslaved undead to fuel their unholy order.

It's only made worse that many of these resort to poison!

As an aside, the idea of commoners having to overthrow the previous characters in power (the government or cult or whatever) neatly answers the natural question of, "Why do they have vigilantes in this government group?" with "Because the government originated from a tradition of vigilantes."

This can easily be painted as both a good and evil thing.

Weirdo wrote:
Poison also has a really bad reputation without being actually evil. It's called out as being typically inappropriate for paladins, but you could either intentionally subvert that or else make it a known (or just alleged) specialty of other factions within the country. You could design a really sinister looking alchemists' guild using snake imagery - which is in many cultures a symbol of healing and transformation.

This bears emphasizing, especially if they actually have tons of snakes of all stripes that they actually milk for their poison. Of course, the poison itself might never be used as poison, or, if it is, it's alchemically altered so it only "poisons" certain diseases or pest creatures, or perhaps is altered to become a non-lethal method of keeping people down for long periods.

If you have this work with the shadow-wielders, this can be part of the rhetoric, detailing a large portion of how the "bad" government (supposedly) operates: by creating a thriving assassination industry, it generates high demand for poisons and other illicit substances - substances utilized to ensure that people "disappear" forever (because, secretly, of course, they're rescued and deprogrammed from their previous brainwashing).

Weirdo wrote:
You can also play with elemental imagery. Heroic players will use elemental powers all the time, but describe it right and these things could come off as creepy. Frost works well in presenting a character as "cold hearted" - a knight could have a "chill aura" emanating from his weapon, the touch of which "seems to sap the heat and life from you." Fire can have associations with either demons or angels, but if you describe it as sulfurous or smoky it tends to swing in the sinister direction. Storms are generally pretty ominous. Dripping, hissing acid should also get some heebies jeebied.

So...

- Hleid
- Svarozic or Angradd
- Heironeous
- or... er... I, uh... I got nothin' for acid. Sorry!

Weirdo wrote:
For weapons, try the flail. The things are intimidating but could also behind the curtain be associated with a benign harvest deity. Similarly, the scythe. Personally I also see greataxes, greatswords, kukri, and daggers as somewhat more threatening/sinister than longswords or rapiers.

Especially if you can tie the weapon into something important to the nation's past, it can make the inclusion seem not-random, later. Like, say, the combination of axes and kukris and flails and scythes and sickles and tridents and nets are because it was a movement comprised of three groups (the lumberjacks, farmers, and fisher-folk of the land) who united to overthrow the previous evil government (or who became the vigilantes or whatever), and they used the tools they had available at the time - this created a particular martial style which emphasized those kinds of things - after all, they weren't using "weapons" but rather "normal tools" - but, through the years, the original tool styles have been refined, and the things that were once make-shift weapons are now real weapons, and really intimidating, too.

==============

As an aside, you've asked several questions about things like, "Should they be rich or poor? Art or spartan?" and so on, and the answer, to my mind, is "Yes."

Comparatively, I wouldn't make them on the high end, relative to their neighbors, but I'd definitely have it look like they're on the high end.

See, the CE place is probably effectively rolling in dough, with naturally-bountiful lands; they just hide it better, because they don't care about the truth, and they don't care about their people, so much of the land is probably a dump - explained away as a quirk of misfortune and natural villainy ('cause "<bleep> you, nature!" says the CE evil people).

The LG place, on the other hand probably does have a very rough 'natural' existence - likely lots of predators (mundane and supernatural) and natural dangers everywhere, not to mention harsh climate and difficult growing seasons - but, because they're lawful good, everyone within the society pitches together, and the work gets done (LG is the only kind of society in which you can actually expect "To each according to his need, from each according to his ability." to actually function).

This makes the streets clean, the clothes well mended (and even new-looking in many cases), and the people seemingly well-off; but it also leaves a grim, hardworking people with little time for pleasantries or non-gallows-humor (which, most often, expresses itself through deadpan quips; to an outsider, though, these would seem like grim proclamations of genuine how terrible things are, especially since people never smile - socreepy - ... an artifact of when the society was molded into that under monstrously evil regimes, previously, but reinforced by the vile monsters that still remain from that time, ohheyspeakingof,seebelow). It also makes the cities look like imposing fortresses of doom that vow hate and murder on anything that approaches. That said, outside of the civilized places, the people probably live very simply and in a seemingly barbaric fashion - at least on the surface; this is untrue, of course, but they use whatever materials they have ("every part of the buffalo" plus "nothing goes to waste") making those that live in some regions look like barbarians with their furs and leathers and big weapons (though probably scythes and sickles, or axes and kukris, depending on the style of people they are; either way, they probably utilize crossbows, predominantly to add to that feeling of "off" because, what the heck are advanced crossbows doing in this primitive village...?), while others in the cities look like evil variants of Protestant-cum-Muslim hyper conservatives.

The art, where it exists, it probably mostly pretty disquieting - either maybe something like children-of-the-corn style creepy rough and disturbing in the boonies/barbarian places, or is probably creepy gore-fest style artwork, often emphasizing the gory torture of various innocent people, with titles like, "The reward for a life of chastity." showing <no-no!> with a <uh-uh!> and an <oh, my!> but only because <that doesn't go there!> and similar... of course what is left unsaid is that this is actually a replica of a historical event that happened 200 years ago to one of the local saints who refused engage in demonic sex rituals, and, though the piece is disturbing, it's meant as a "Never forget." sort of thing - as is most all the civilized art. This feeds back into the concept of describing things in a disturbing manner (such as Christians ripping apart and eating the flesh of their God and drinking His blood).

Speaking of Christians, especially the early church, make the religious views some sort of Mystery rites - that means non-believers aren't invited. In truth, this is because there is a deep-seated spiritual belief both that enforcing a particular faith upon someone who has another is wrong (this does not, it is worth noting, apply to children, or citizens, who are required to follow <faith> because, literally, <faith> is the only thing that is keeping the country functioning and not dead; see bad soil/lots of diseases/etc.), and that their god(s) deserve correct veneration and respect (and they don't tolerate disrespect toward it/them, so it's best for everyone if they don't put someone in the position to get themselves in trouble). This, of course, is a prime location for rumor-mongering.

Music could be delightfully horrifying, too. Banjos and rain-sticks and gutteral primitive chanting with ominous drums for the "barbarian" music, and grand organs and reeds and domineering choruses (and/or Gregorian-style monk chants) for the more "civilized" areas.

So this leaves the LG place with lots of apparent wealth, when it has naturally very little. It probably also has a striking "divide" (that no one enforces) between "rich" and "poor" i.e. "cityfolk" and "non-cityfolk" - and both of them look terrible and menacing.

(By the way, it should be pretty clear that a lot of these ideas are stealing uh, "borrowing" pretty heavily from the rest of the ideas in this thread. So... thank those guys. Thanks, guys!)


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Wow, thanks for all the advice/content!

Should the LG country have a ban, restriction, or permit system for adventurers (that the CE country does not)?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

This is also a great place to explore non-standard family values.

So, for example, making the entire thing a polyandrous matriarchy in which females are generally the more important one, and most often hold a harem. Apply twisted looking gory "creatures" that are strongly associated with various tortures and blood rites, as the center of each House (a local political-social-financial unit that also includes family blood ties, but not exclusively; these matriachal structures represent the method by which the society is organized), and a central goddess related to spiders and webs and darkness, or whatever, and you're going to give your players a rather deliberate association with something else...

If you really want to up the parallel structure, have a wondering rebel wielding two scimitars whatever those things are, or whatever ('cause someone who rejects their home society and people to become a wandering swordsman who kills their former fellows and takes their stuff is clearly a good guy rebelling against the oppressor, and not just a mentally disturbed bandit with delusions of grandeur).

Uh... gtg, guys, I have somthin' I need to do for no reason...

EDIT: code fix


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
My Self wrote:

Wow, thanks for all the advice/content!

Should the LG country have a ban, restriction, or permit system for adventurers (that the CE country does not)?

Most definitely! The more (not-really, but could-seem-that-way) "oppressive" the better!

Do be aware, though, if you push too much, no matter what the PCs eventually find out, they might never be able to overcome that initial impression, and you may well end up with players who just don't care about the differences - they've built up to much enmity over too much time for them not to fight against the "good guy" country. Of course, that's when you, as GM, somehow invest them in personal stakes in switching allegiances... like maybe the CE guys give better l00t drops, or you get a totally sick intelligent uberweapon, but it only works if you're using it to fight the bad guys...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Tacticslion wrote:
Apply twisted looking gory "creatures" that are strongly associated with various tortures and blood rites, as the center of each House

I never properly explained this. Sorry!

These are, of course, supposed to be saints that were martyred. The "blood rites" are either the things that were done to them (they are not done to anyone these days, of course), or something small, like pricking a finger once every year (on a sterilized thing) to bleed in memory of the pain these great people of the past went through, or something.

The rest of it is either based off the concepts espoused earlier or just vague matriarchy plus the tendency to have more men babies than women babies, and those babies successfully tending to live.


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Here's another one: the LG country maintains a large standing army... that spends all of its time repairing roads and bridges.


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Tacticslion wrote:

This is... actually a really cool concept!

And the thread has some awesome ideas!

That said, I've a few questions and comments.

I'm actually curious: if the country is chaotic evil, to what end are they interested in any sort of justification of their actions?

Chaotic evil, to me, ultimately needs to justify nothing - they are ultimately able to accept anything they desire for their own reasons. So, for example, if the country is chaotic evil and run that way, any government would inherently be a sham; the power structure would simply be whoever happens to be the "strongest" (relative word - it's whoever has the ability to leverage their greatest asset to greatest effect in a manner that allows them to control - through fear, manipulation, persuasion, beating others up, or whatever - the majority of influence).

Now, obviously, you're doing this for the benefit of the PCs.

But what motivation does the government have to trick a few low-level rubes?

They are interested in justifying their actions because everyone is the hero of their own story. The Joker isn't "a monster" for going on sadistic murder sprees, he's just "ahead of the curve". Anakin Skywalker incapacitates Samuel L. Jackson, kills a bunch of children, strangles his pregnant wife, and tries to murder his best friend because "the Jedi are evil", not because he knows "it is too late" for him to step out of the deep end. Real-world comparisons abound.

The government structure wouldn't need to be a sham - it could simply be a minimal-interference government. Maintain roads, construct utilities, make sure nobody is taking away others' rights, and keep a standing army. As long as your definition of "taking away rights" is sufficiently loose, there's no reason why you couldn't have a government in a CE country. Perhaps three basic rights: the right to think what you want, the right to do anything you want, so long as you are not taking away someone else's rights, and the right to retributive justice. Society might exist on a shoestring of mutual understanding, where the only reason people don't rob each other blind is because of the risk involved. Trust would be required on an individual basis, not an implicit one. And it would create a very feudal environment. But it could work out. The government would possess the right to beat up anyone who came after them, and if they had the largest/best army, they would win. If you are waging a crusades-style constant war (with looting involved), the government could rack up the funds to run the army and continue to recruit for the army. The only thing you'd need to do from there is ensure that people always want to fight...

Which would probably come from propaganda. Shoot some propaganda around, and make people think your enemy is truly evil. Instead of just drawing from the greedy, bloodthirsty, and desperate crowds, you start pulling in the patriotic and righteous crowds too. As your propaganda gets better, your army grows, so your government can invade more places, take more from your enemies, and therefore take less from your people. Maybe they can also protect/spread local business interests abroad, although that is rather Lawful. Meanwhile, your soldiers becomes liberators, fighting against a despotic regime that oppresses its people. They become heroes. You get misguided good people fighting for an evil cause. Or people who don't realize they are evil, who believe they're still the underdog Jedi-Council-but-not-Master sort. Or the Punisher sort of people, who think they are patriotic heroes while they slaughter anyone who gets in their way. Or... player characters.


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Tacticslion wrote:

{. . .}

But what motivation does the government have to trick a few low-level rubes? {. . .}

Propaganda usually isn't just to trick a few people . . . it's to trick a LOT of people, to the point where you build up a critical mass that can be used to trick and/or pressure even higher level people.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Awesome! So long as sufficiently solid answers for this are extant, it works for me!

(Also, Andrew Ryan's Rapture is a great example - but I wanted to hear solid motivations, too. Thanks!)


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"Everyone is the hero in their own story." Not universal by the way, but facile and clever. People try to rationalize and lie to themselves, but, barring actual brain damage, are, at some level,aware of the reality. It is less painful to whitewash away those times you have chosen poorly, and hurt people. Successfully breaking past those rationalizations can be quite illuminating, and bloody well dangerous.

"You have no right to judge me!" Is the mantra of the mindset. If you catch yourself sayimg things like that, talk to someone who won't help feed your self-delusion. Self realization isn't helped by bad behavior so often being rewarded.


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The Sideromancer wrote:
Here's another one: the LG country maintains a large standing army... that spends all of its time repairing roads and bridges.

Or maybe something that looks like gunboat diplomacy, but using giant intimidating navy ships to deliver supplies to people in need?


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^Or more specifically, the Lawful Good country isn't all that rich, but is under threat much of the time, so they have to try to make everything dual use (military and non-military).

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