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I found it particularly noteworthy that he's sentenced a man to death for the crime of 'resembling the former occupant of this ruined house and coming back to it', as if the concepts of chance resemblance and coincidence never occurred and its all right to kill people on suspicion.

In addition, his logic of 'the Duke's legacy rightfully belongs to the people of Galt' seems to be based on nothing more than 'because we were able to take it by force, it is ours', which is exactly the sort of behavior the revolutionaries were objecting to re: the old nobility to begin with.

If this vignette was intended as an example of he who fights monsters not taking sufficient care to avoid becoming a monster, it is a brilliant success.

If it was intended to portray a heroic figure, it is... not so much.

Errrr, if you haven't read part 5 of the AP then how do you know if your DM ran the encounter remotely according to the provided script or not? 'Cause I, who have read the entire encounter, can't tell from your description whether he did. For all we know he Rule Zero'ed the entire thing.

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I opened my game with the PCs walking down the street on their way to the plaza for the grand speech. Horgus Gwerm got hit by an NPC pickpocket in front of them and they had a chance to react to that, and that's how they met (both each other and him).

They then walked into the plaza, stood with the Crusaders, took their oath, and listened to Lord Hulrun making a speech I came up with (text below).

Then I suddenly faded to black at the end of Hulrun's speech and had them wake up in a cave covered with dust, had them RP their immediate reactions to that, and only then did the last few minutes of their lives as a flashback cutscene, complete with blurry SFX due to having all been hit on the head and kinda fuzzy about what happened immediately prior.

(note: If you're wondering at the 100th anniversary thing, I changed the date in my campaign a little.)

Lord Hulrun's speech:
Valiant folk of every nation, be welcome to the city, and to our noble cause.

We stand here on the edge of the Worldwound. Only a little more than a hundred leagues from here lies the road to the Abyss itself.

You have all heard the tales of how foul and rapacious, how cruel and horrible, the demons of the pits are. Over the course of your service, you will have your chance to see how true rumors and tales can be.

You will face horrors your prior lives have hopefully left you without the vocabulary or experience to comprehend, let alone describe. You will fight against an enemy that knows no honor, no mercy, not the slightest trace of forbearance or scruple. An enemy that will spare no existence, stoop to any cruelty or ruse, to not only kill you but destroy you. To not only ravage your body but also injure your heart... and your soul. By force of arms, by guile, by betrayal, by enticement and bribery and vice of every kind, they will be eternally devoted to do unto you as they would unto every man or woman or Golarion; to break you, kill you, destroy all that you are.

And with that in mind, you are no doubt asking yourself right now -- "why am I here"?

*everyone chuckles*

Why indeed. All of us, from Queen Galfrey herself down to the most humble spearman in the lowest ranks, ask ourselves this question in our hearts every day. We would not be men or women if we did not. We would not be men or women if we could not.

And I hear the counsel of despair saying "But our enemy knows no doubt! But our enemy knows no vacillation! They do not share the frailties of mortal flesh or mortal spirit! How then, can we survive?"

And I answer, as the gods themselves have answered, "Because you are men and women. Because you can feel".

For a heart that knows fear can also know courage, for is not courage not merely the absence of fear, but the determination to do right in spite of fear? Aye!

And the heart that knows betrayal can also know loyalty, for is not betrayal impossible for those who are loyal to nothing in the first place? Aye! (by this point the crowd is roaring the response along with him)

And the flesh that is tempted by vice can also know virtue, for if something could not ever be denied then it would not be a temptation, now would it? AYE!

We are here because we have faith! Not just in the gods we choose to follow, but in each other! No matter how long it takes, how many defeats we suffer, how many setbacks are apparent, we are still here! And so long as men continue to say "Here we stand! Here we do not submit!", we cannot be defeated! One hundred years this Crusade has endured, and one hundred more it will endure if it must! Or two hundred, or three!


Although I entirely understand the desire for it to be over with a little sooner.

But it is not one hundred years we ask from you today, but one. Only the demons would demand an eternal ordeal from man. The gods, and those of us who serve them, ask much of you now and will ask much of you later on. But we will never ask more from you than mortal men have, in the past, proved capable of bearing. As we have faith in gods and each other, we have faith in this; as hard as the road ahead is, you can endure.

And so now comes the moment of choice, for it is that right to choose that is one of the things we fight for. If any man or woman has doubts that yet remain, has obligations elsewhere that they will not gainsay, or has simply decided to give this up for a game of soldiers, then let them leave now. Let them leave this square and let no one here scorn them or question their courage. It is a hard and often lonely thing to be a crusader. There is no shame that attaches for those who choose not to be.

*no one leaves*

It is the most heartwarming moment for me every year, when I make the offer to let those who would depart, and no one does. Yet again, you have justified my faith in you all.

And now, all raise your right arms, and swear along with me...

*insert Crusader's Oath here*

Welcome, valiant ones all, to the Mendevian Crusade!

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Garrrrggggh, do I hate the idea that the poor little overwhelmed woman trying to do the big man's job can't be expected to show some damn control of her emotions. Trading out Lawful Stupid for Bad 50s Stereotype is not a trade-up.

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So? The Crusader's Oath is given word-for-word, and 'I swear to follow Iomedae' is nowhere in it. That nails it down, and if the flavor text suggests otherwise than it still does no more than suggest; until and unless you can point to the part in the Oath that says 'I swear to follow Iomedae's commands', you ain't got nothing.

And no, just because her symbol is on the flag, that doesn't prove anything. The British flag carries the cross of St. Andrew and St. Patrick layered over the cross of St. George, but the British Army oath of enlistment still swears loyalty to Queen Elizabeth II and the government under her, not the Church.

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Yes, but that does not change the fact that being a member of the Mendevian Crusade in no way requires you to join Iomedae's religion. The sole obligation assumed by swearing the Crusader's Oath is an obligation to fight the demons of the Worldwound under a chain of command defined as 'Queen Galfrey and the duly appointed officers under her', for a minimum of one year. You can do that while having simultaneously pledged your soul to frackin' Asmodeus -- and IIRC, some of the Chelaxians in the Crusade actually have done that.

Being a Mendevian Crusader in no way automatically places you as a member of the Iomedean faithful any more than saying 'So help me God' at the end of the US Armed Forces oath of enlistment means that your chain of command stops at the Pope instead of the President.

To recap:

* The encounter has Iomedae forcibly relocating you to an inescapable position without your informed consent and keeping you there until you have either done everything she wants you to or pissed her off to the point she bodily throws you out after beating you up. 'Kidnapping' is an entirely fair description of this kind of conduct; hell, this is practically the dictionary definition.

* The amount of beating up the PCs can take potentially goes up to 20d6 sonic damage, which is a lethal attack by any remotely sane definition. That's the same amount of d6 as terminal velocity falling damage. Literally dropping the PCs off the top of a mountain could not be more violent than what happens to them.

* Some of the failure conditions that get you smacked are way too easy for a non-spoiled player to walk right into even if they're trying to be nice about it, because the writing of the questions is counter-intuitive as all hell in spots.

* I don't know about you, but any paladin in a game I was running that thought that striking someone with a 20d6 smite was an acceptable behavior for hearing an answer they didn't personally agree with during a theological debate would be suffering a shutdown of paladin powers on the spot. That a paladin deity is written as thinking this sort of thing is appropriate is either one of the more offensive takes on 'Lawful Stupid' I have ever seen as official game canon, or else is an example of towering hypocrisy (remember that hypocrisy is demanding that other people follow rules that you yourself violate).

Look up the posts in the original thread if you're really curious for details, towards the end we were going through the whole encounter almost literally line by line.

Original thread here.

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Speaking of villains, another thought:

From the material, we know that even the Worldwound demonic incursion doesn't want to let Tar-Baphon out of the box, and in fact sent a major task force under a marilith general for the specific purpose of making sure the Whispering Tyrant stays in it.

We also know that the three seals that control the Grand Seal holding the Cenotaph shut are in Taldor, Lastwall, and one of the dwarven kingdoms -- i.e., they are still all in territory controlled by the resistance.

You almost wonder if their ultra last-ditch style contingency, if/when it looks like the world is about to fall to the demons forever, isn't to break all three seals open and go "Screw it! If we can't have the world, NEITHER CAN YOU!"

Or: the Osterhagen Key from Dr. Who.

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What I found most hilarious is the part where the Worldwound's southern advance is bogged down in Ustalav. Ustalav, the land of horror movie villains, that held off the demonic advance for almost a year due to the alliance of the vampire lords and the monsters (except the werewolves) with the humans.

Now the Worldwound's tip of the spear is bogged down in occupied remnants-of-Ustalav, a land up to its fundament in necromancy and ghosts, a land that only gets /worse/ the more of its population dies.

Man, I'm almost tempted to feel sorry for the demons. It must be like Vietnam crossed with Ravenloft.

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LordOfThreshold wrote:

And as for the jackbooted thugs idea, remove any harm done to you in the transit and when they remove the black bag from your head, you're sitting in the Oval Office with Obama sitting at his desk with a very serious look.

He says, "I have a problem I think you are perfect to help me solve."

You would be stumbling over yourself with so many 'Yes, sirs' and 'No, Sirs,' you wouldn't have time to object. You'd be honored, humbled by the fact this this great person has called on you to help them in their time of need. So he has some tests, some of them painful, for you to undertake. You're about the change history for the most powerful person in the world. Show some respect.

Christ, I missed this earlier.

As for 'you would be humbled to change history for the most powerful person in the world' thing you have going... yeah, speak for yourself. I wouldn't put up with this s$@@ from the Presidents I actually voted for, much less one of the ones I voted against. If the man wants to haul in someone in the middle of the night and give him orders to go somewhere and do something dangerous... he has an entire Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps full of people who volunteered to do this. Who signed a contract giving him the right to do this -- to them. Likewise for civilian employees of executive branch agencies, such as the FBI, the CIA, etc, etc, etc. All of them are available for hazardous service because they chose to be.

Are you sensing a consistent theme here? Yup. The theme is 'choice'. The theme is 'consent'. Seriously, dude, are you even an American citizen? Do you have any idea how hideously illegal by the laws of our country this would be for even the President to do? You have to volunteer to put yourself under military discipline in this country... we don't even have a normal military draft anymore, let alone a full-on 'let's randomly shanghai someone from civilian life into anything the President feels like' scenario you're describing here.

So, seeing as how I was once in uniform getting myself injured and suchlike precisely to help preserve and defend the right of ordinary US citizens to be able to tell their government "I obey the law, I pay my taxes, and that's all you have the right to order me to do unless I volunteer myself to do more -- because this is a free country."

Which is why, in the scenario you outline, I would be... less than cooperative.

How does this relate to the Iomedae topic? Simple. As I said a couple days ago, people who are already priests or paladins or suchlike of Iomedae's church -- people who actually are sworn to her service already -- actually can be treated like this by Iomedae, at least semi-legally. The problem is, not all player characters are guaranteed to already be clerics or paladins of, or even lay worshippers of, Iomedae. And by what right can she shanghai in worshippers of other deities or none? They're not members of her church... and the Mendevian Crusade may be sponsored by her church, but its not part of her church. The Commander-In-Chief of the Mendevian Crusade is Queen Galfrey -- in her role as "secular ruler of the kingdom of Mendev", not in her role as "senior paladin of Iomedae".

And you'll notice a total lack of complaint for earlier chapters in this AP where Queen Galfrey showed up and ordered the PCs to 'go here and do this' without asking pretty please first... because the PCs had legitimately enlisted in the Mendevian Crusade in the opening act, and so, she's legitimately their CO.

Iomedae isn't. That's the thing. Your example, in addition to being hilariously out of touch with both American law and culture, isn't even relevant. What Iomedae is doing is more like if President Obama was randomly kidnapping citizens from the European Union and having them dragged to his office... and hey, they've every right to say "What the f++* is this b~$*#&+%? Let me out of here! I want to talk to my embassy! I'm not even an American! You're not my President!"

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Also, the encounter is anything but a simple 'as long as you don't attack her or mouth off to her, you'll be fine'. The questions are so poorly chosen and presented that even with the best intentions in the world, its still quite likely that you're gonna get failsmacked at least once.

That questions #2 and #3 have failure conditions that are the exact opposite of each other makes it even worse. Who the hell is likely to answer question #2 without hesitation, get slammed by Iomedae for not showing hesitation... and then jump right into question #3 with the same degree of confidence that they did question #2? It's a pretty normal human response that if you get zapped for doing something, your next attempt will try something else.

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Odraude wrote:
To be fair, she is the goddess of paladins. I shouldn't be surprised that the Queen of Paladins is everything that is Lawful Stupid.

In addition to everything said on that topic earlier, its not even a good example of Lawful Stupid.

If a paladin of Iomedae had tried this same kind of s%$! on anyone else, they'd be losing their paladin powers so fast that you couldn't time it with an atomic stopwatch. So if Iomedae is ignoring the same kind of behavior rules that she makes all of her employees live under because she's the boss and so rules are for other people, that means this is an example of Chaotic Stupid.

This encounter fails so hard it fails at failing.

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Sheesh, I take one day off from following the thread and look what happens.

All right, let's hit some of the talking points...

* First off, I've been playing AD&D since the Player's Handbook had a large orange demon on the cover. I was going to GenCon when it was still at the Parkside campus in Kenosha. I've been to the Barrier Peaks, the Tomb of Horrors, and Hommlet. I am, in short, as old school as it effing gets without actually having been in Gary's original campaign or playing Chainmail. I say this not to brag, but to explode someone's theory that all the people complaining about the Iomedae encounter are 'entitled new age players' or whatever namecalling you were using to cover your total lack of argument. Because I have been alive for over 40 years, and have been throwing dice on tabletops for around 30 of them, and I think that encounter was written horribly.

* 20d6 sonic is not 'negligible' damage. Sure, 15th-level/7th tier mythic characters can survive it... but characters of that power level could survive doing the backstroke in an erupting volcano, so, that's hardly proof of anything. In fact, in the old Spelljammer rules they actually statted out the falling damage for literally being dropped from orbit... and it was 20d6 damage. So, basically, Iomedae thinks failure to answer her question is punishable by as much pain as trying to undergo atmospheric re-entry in your birthday suit. That is insane.

* There is an alignment already written in the rules for people who believe that having superior power or position allows you to freely ignore rules that are for lesser people, and that there's nothing wrong with inflicting pain and injury on people just because you feel like it. The problem is, that alignment is the one they call Chaotic Evil. Iomedae is supposed to be the other alignment. Y'know, the one that believes that even the most important person has to live by the same rules as the least important person (Lawful) and that you're not supposed to hurt people just because you're not getting exactly what you want (Good).

* re: 'unwilling to put their lives on the line' -- one of the many problems with the tests is that the tests are b*#&%!~!. They aren't useful methods to actually test for what Iomedae is supposed to be looking for.

In an earlier post I showed that Captain America would probably score a zero out of three on this test, which means its useless as a test for finding out who's got the right stuff or not. In this post, I shall tackle the test from the other example... by finding the worst possible person who could actually pass it. But rather than use subjective examples, I'll actually stick to one with a Pathfinder writeup.

Question #1 -- its mechanically listed as a DC 25 Knowledge (Religion) check. Anybody who can make that check makes the question. So, this is an actual stat we can look up! And do you know who can pass that check in their sleep? Nocticula. She's only got a Knowledge (Religion) of +51 listed in her writeup. She could throw a natural 1 and still pass the DC for the check by more than 2x over. Actually, Nocticula would score a 2 out of 3 on this exam.

Question #2 -- the pass/fail condition for this test is admitting that you're not sure, or being hesitant to come to a conclusion. This one she almost certainly fails; demon lords seldom feel uncertainty, and even when they do they don't admit it. It's a sign of weakness, and they hate showing those.

Question #3 -- But by the same token, that lovely demon lord overconfidence/pride thing means that Nocticula will sail through this one. The success condition for this one is being certain about your answer, about being confident that you can get the mission done... and, well, demon lords are generally prideful and confident and sorts.

So, Iomedae's "hero test" is so idiotically written that your average demon lord would score a minimum 2 out of 3 on this thing. What kind of hero test is that?

No, I'm sorry, this isn't 'entitled player whining'. This is 'experienced GM looks at this encounter and notes that the writing not only is massively OOC and against alignment and class restrictions for Iomedae, it doesn't make any logical sense to begin with and wouldn't even if running this kind of test was IC behavior for the deity in question'.

The scene simply does not logically jibe with its own alleged goals. If Iomedae is testing for 'you must be this heroic to go on the Abyss ride', then shouldn't the tests actually involve searching for heroic qualities? Everything listed on this test is ethically neutral. Knowledge, lack of self-confidence, abundance of self-confidence; these are all traits that both heroes and villains can have.

Iomedae's 'hero test' is nothing of the kind, and would still be a badly written scene even if it was 100% voluntary and the worst consequence of getting a question wrong was being slapped on the wrist with a piece of overcooked spaghetti. That the test comes across as an unholy hybrid of being given extraordinary rendition to Camp X-Ray and competing in gorram Genkibowl, and the prize for guessing wrong involves being slapped with enough damage to kill an average frost giant in only two hits, only makes it exponentially worse.

Actually, reading Baphomet's tenets about "the beast is clever" and "the beast is patient" and all that, I'm getting the impression that Baphomet is supposed to be the Graz'zt analogue of Golarion. Graz'zt is WotC licensed content, after all, not open game content.

Whoa yeah. Dracovar, my mental apologies for my thoughts of the past hour or so.

If your players have been spoiled on the pitfalls of the encounter, they are of course going to sidestep right around them. I think this needs to be a blind test to be valid.

Unfortunately, anybody who's so much as glanced at the forum this week has been spoiled all to hell on the encounter by the theorycraft thread. *g*

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Brain in a Jar wrote:
Chuckg wrote:
Just to clear up, that's also one of the things we're never going to agree on.
Then i quess your opinons are more equal than mine?

No, the disagreement is your apparent contention that everything is just a matter of opinion. My opinion might not be 'more equal' than yours, but the actual factual record definitely is 'more equal' than any contrary opinion.

It's the difference between objective and subjective, a basic tenet of philosophy and/or logic. Feel free to research it on your own, I think the rest of the thread is getting bored with our competing lecture series.

Just to clear up, that's also one of the things we're never going to agree on.

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We are never going to agree on this issue, Brain. I cannot put it more simply than this, and I am not going to bother trying to repeat my arguments to you again(*) because you obviously are never going to agree with me, either.

(*) My apologies in advance to the rest of the thread if I backslide into temptation. It's a weakness I have.

Actually, no, its not "my opinion" -- it's the dictionary definitions of the words 'hesitation' and 'confidence'. The two of them are antonyms of each other. That means that they have opposite meanings. It's like "wet" and "dry", or "day" and "night". If you're in the one, then you are automatically not in the other.

So if you are showing hesitation, then you are not being confident. Since 'not being confident', by itself, can trigger 20d6 sonic worth of failsmack on this question, then showing hesitation in your answer -- by definition -- will get you failsmacked. In direct contradiction to the last question, where not showing hesitation was the automatic failsmack. Seriously, psychologists designing mazes for lab rats don't get this unfair and arbitrary about it. Not even the mazes that have electric shocks.

You don't get to scream 'it's just your opinion, man!' when we're talking about the meaning of plain English words. Language is a tool for communication; words carry meaning; if the author intended to mean something else, then he should have used different words.

PS: Yesterday you were all like 'respect my opinions! can't you just respect other people's opinions?', but today you seem all like 'the opinion came from Chuckg, therefore it doesn't mean anything compared to mine!' I'm being reminded of Orwell's "Animal Farm" right now, and the pigs that were "more equal" than the other pigs.

Hesitation being the opposite of "conviction and bravery" and "confident about the quest", that being what Iomedae is specifically stated to be looking for, my statement is still entirely truthful and accurate. If you hesitate to answer, obviously you're not being confident.

PS: [changed my mind, let's not even go there]

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Amusing thought; we've already got one Runelord stuck up in this piece, so why not two? If we assume the other APs happened off-stage with NPC parties, then Karzoug should be hanging around the afterlife somewhere.

*has a mental image of some demented 'Odd Couple' comedy with two Runelords -- the bitter old original generation and the flashy young newcomer -- stuck as roommates for eternity*

Read it. You were still playing games with selective quoting and context, as my own quotes (longer and with more supporting text than yours) from the same paragraphs will show to anybody who reads both versions.

Also, Iomedae's hero test is so idiotically written that Captain America himself would be lucky to pass one question out of three, and would more likely score zero. Read my prior post for details.

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OK, Brain In A Jar, seeing as how you've characterized quoting directly from the book as 'generalization', flat-out said that things printed directly on the page and bold-texted for your convenience don't exist, and tried to twist the meaning of everything I said, I really can't find a way to keep discussing this with you until and unless you return to taking this seriously.

For the record, folks, here are the (edit) full failure conditions of questions #2 and #3 as direct quotes from the text, as opposed to the (edit) partially transcribed bits without full context that Brain In A Jar just tried to sell you.

Question #2:

Iomedae is not looking for a specific answer to this question; rather she's seeking hesitancy and conflict. Blindly adhering to any rule may be lawful, but is not always good-a truly lawful good person will temper rules with judgment. A paladin should never be so bound to his pursuit of the law that he loses sight of what it is to be good. As long as at least one character seems conflicted about answering this question, yet in the end answers either yes or no with conviction, Iomedae is pleased. If the characters fall into a long, bickering argument (and thus fail to work as a team) or if they all immediately answer "yes" or "no" without seeming to think through the repercussions of the answer, they fail.

So, its exactly what I and everyone else has said all along. Even if there is no rudeness and no bickering, if the PCs are simply too eager to answer question #2, they're still gonna trigger the failure punishment.

Which means that any and all contrary arguments of the form 'you just want PCs to get away with being rude' and suchlike are straw men, because that's not how the encounter is actually written. Even perfectly polite and well-meaning PCs can still get failuresmacked here, if they just commit the offense of failing to read the DM's mind.

Question #3:


As with previous questions, it is not the answer so much as the method of answering that Iomedae is interested in. Here, she hopes to see conviction and bravery-evidence that even in light of such a dangerous task these true heroes do not shirk. As long as at least one

PC seems confident about the quest, presenting an air of resolve that it's better to die attempting such a task than to avoid it out of fear, Iomedae is pleased.

The only thing necessary to fail this encounter is for the PCs to not be gung-ho.

You know who would be failing this test? Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin. Or Luke frickin' Skywalker. Batman, Superman, and Captain America. Even fecking Optimus Prime. I've seen all of these fictional characters in at least one scene where they're taking one look at the impossible odds ahead of them and openly admit 'Oh s!&!, this is gonna suck.' Y'know, right before they suit up and go in anyway, but they don't go in all eager and confident -- they go in sweating bullets. But they still go in, because they're heroes.

But Iomedae's definition of hero apparently doesn't fit this kind of hero. To her, its worth 5d6 sonic damage to smack PCs if they don't 'seem confident about the quest'. Apparently having the honesty to openly confess your doubts rather then cover them with bravado, which is something you'd think a true paladin goddess would appreciate, is something Iomedae thinks is worthy of punishment. Even if not a single thing else was wrong about the writing in this encounter, it would still be a vast and gaping disappointment to see that neither the goddess of honor & justice & valor herself or the author writing her seems to grasp the difference between true courage and mere bravado.

You know what? If I can take a broad selection of classic uber-hero characters from fiction and point out moments of their canon where they'd fail Iomedae's standards, then Iomedae's standards are by definition unreasonable. Any hero test that Captain America fails is not a hero test, its an idiot test.

Actually, let's run with this. I'm going to take Steven Rogers from the Avengers and Captain America movies we all know and run him through the test.


Iomedae: "You are bold to look on me and I favor boldness. When facing demonic foes, one must be bold , as I was when I faced one of my most dangerous enemies. Tell me, then, which undead lord did I slay while leading my knights of Ozem into the Three Sorrows, and why do I think you might be worthy to carry the legacy of that knighthood into the depths of the Abyss?"

Cap: "Um, what? I'm sorry, ma'am, but I haven't studied your history and I don't see how that question even relates to the mis-"

*5d6 Sonic Damage* (He's not answering the question and he's being neither humble nor confident; just confused.)

Iomedae: "You have a hero's bravery. You have p roven that You can survive the horrors of the Abyss, and this mark your courageousness as surely as any feat. But also you have learned that not all those in the Abyss are your enemies. Some are creatures whose nature can be used as a tool to defeat greater evils. So tell me, when evil assumes a fair form, and when weak villains beg for their lives, are they due mercy. Or are the wages of their villainy always death and oblivion?"

Cap: (without hesitating) "At least two of my teammates (Chuckg's note: Hulk and the Black Widow) used to be villains, and they're some of the finest people I know. And killing people who are trying to surrender to you is just plain wrong, and while I can and have killed in combat before I don't much like killing people, especially outside of war. Whenever possible they should be arrested and taken for a fair tria-"

*10d6 Sonic Damage* (Not only didn't he hesitate to answer it -- because of course he wouldn't, he's Captain America -- but he stated his ethical principle as an 'always wrong', something the entry specifically notes Iomedae doesn't believe applies to this issue. And before you go 'Cap has a code vs. killing so he'd fail this test as its geared towards medieval heroes', that's exactly why I used the movie version, who we saw on multiple points picking up a gun and shooting bad guys with it. He clearly has no prohibitions against taking life so long as its during a legitimate wartime situation, so, close enough!)

(Personally I don't think we'd even reach the third question because after the second smack Cap's going to think he's been taken by some crazy supervillainess and start throwing his shield -- after all, he hates bullies, wherever they're from -- but we'll do it anyway.)

Iomedae: "Honor is my soul and life, justice is the passion that stirs me to war, and yet the cause of the true and righteous is beset on all sides by evil. Tell me, how does one outwit and defeat a demon lord in his own domain? For let us not pretend, this is what I ask you to do."

Cap: "I'm sorry, ma'am, I don't know anything about demon lords or their capabilities. I'll ask my friend Thor to see if-"

*20d6 Sonic Damage* (Of course Cap is still entirely willing to try it; he's just saying what seems sensible to him, which is 'I have no idea, so I'll go ask the nearest expert to help me plan it'. But that doesn't sound confident and gung-ho enough, and so, boom.)

So there you have it. Iomedae's hero test is so idiotically written that Steve Rogers, Lawful Good true-blue hero if anybody ever Lawful Good true-blue hero'ed, would very likely score a zero out of three.

Add: Also, the whole 'paladins are lawful stupid asshats' is exactly why we hate this encounter. It is the very root of our hatred. Because, yes, Iomedae's behavior in this encounter is a huge official precedent in favor of that interpretation... and speaking as someone who watched the meme 'Hurr durr Lawful Good is dumb and brutish' eventually ruin his enjoyment in three separate major d20 game lines, I am epically un-thrilled at even the faintest suspicion that such a thing might come to Golarion as well.

I was the happiest guy on Earth when I saw Champions of Purity being written as a testament to un-cynical, un-brutal-and-narrow-minded interpretations of the Good alignments. I cheered when Sarenrae's expanded deity writeup contained an explicit mention of the illegal orders doctrine as first codified at the Nuremberg Tribunals. (That is, an acknowledgement of the ethical principle that 'I was just following orders' or 'I was just obeying the rules' can justify outright evil acts, and it is your duty to refuse illegal orders). I fist-pumped when Milani's expanded deity entry had someone as hardcore as the Chaotic Good goddess of guerrilla fighters still going 'The important thing is to remember that you are ultimately fighting for peace; never take the war to the point where you are destroying the village to save it'.

After years and years of slogging through game supplement after game supplement that was all 90s ironic post-modern cynical about the idea that genuinely heroic characters could exist without intolerance, without fanaticism, without self-righteous brutality, Golarion finally came along and said 'Hey, you know what? We're going to create a world where Good is actually Good, Evil is actually Evil, and there's gray area in the middle, so it'll genuinely be for all types. None of this is 'Evil is awesome, grey area is everywhere, and Good is never un-tarnished' 90s stuff' that tells all the fans of the old school to go away, there's no place for them. Because to quote Agent Coulson, "people might just need a little old-fashioned."

So if Golarion is really going to abandon that idea and go back to the worst excesses of the Realms re: 'hurr durr dick paladins' and Eberron re: 'hurr durr even the shiny supposedly Lawful Good religion has a secret core of brutality and self-righteous witchburning at its heart, nothing is pure, nothing is sacred', then Jane, stop this crazy thing, I wanna get off.

Which is why I'm really hoping that Ivory Labyrinth will turn out to be a one-off aberration and future Pathfinder supps will never go near this kind of thing again. They've got an entire roster of evil and neutral gods to act like narrow-minded self-righteous bullying asshats if need be; leave the genuinely good ones to still be some genuinely good, thank you.

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Brain in a Jar wrote:

The PCs are not hit with sonic damage for wrong answers. They are hit with sonic damage for being crass, rude, or bickering with each other.

A group of PCs who attempt to answer the questions and fail them all are entirely unharmed.

You're still wrong.

From page 10 of "Ivory Labyrinth":

If the question is not answered correctly and at least one PC doesn't present himself as humble or confident, Iomedae frowns and shakes her head. She nods to the unseen choir, saying "We must wake them up, these sleeping children. Where are my bold heroes of the Fifth Crusade?" A moment later, the sound of the choir blasts out from all directions, causing each PC to shudder and shake in divinely inspired awe, and dealing 5d6 points of sonic damage to each PC (Fortitude DC 25 half).

Nothing in here about 'crass, rude, or bickering'. The only thing it takes to get blasted is to a) not know the answer and b) not show the emotions Iomedae wants to see. There is a wide range of possible responses that could trigger being blasted in the face here that are neither 'crass, rude, nor bickering'...

... such as asking 'Wait, how does this question in any way relate to the mission at hand?', which was the first thing that came to my mind when I read this encounter, and quite a few other peoples'.

And that's just the first question. The failure condition for the second question is simply 'not hesitating about your answer'... which can get PCs whacked with sonic damage even if they're being entirely earnest about trying to answer Iomedae's question. In fact, especially if they're trying to be earnest about it. And the failure condition for the third question is a simple 'hesitating about your answer'... so, again, perfectly polite PCs can still walk straight into this with their faces if they a) come up with the mistaken assumption that because being too quick to answer got them blasted on the last question, they'd better not rush to answer this question either or b) show any hesitation at the idea of jumping a demon lord, even if they are still ultimately willing to go.(*)

(*) This is also particularly insulting because courage is not the absence of fear, courage is the willingness to do the right thing despite being full of fear. So having the freaking goddess of honor and justice herself smack you just for showing fear at all is, pardon my french, b*$!+&@+. Lady, I thought it was Gorum who wanted overconfident berserkers. There is entirely a role in stories for the humble hero who freely admits that he's scared witless by the whole thing but is still willing to risk it anyway, but apparently there's no place in Iomedae's heart for such. And let me tell you, any alleged job interview for heroes that Samwise Gamgee couldn't pass is a useless fricking job interview.

tldr; There is a myriad of possible ways, none of them involving rudeness to Iomedae, that PCs can still fail the questions and still get blasted. You have, yet still, tried to say things about the encounter that are simply not true. Dude, you have the right to your own opinions, but asking for the right to your own parallel reality is a bit much.

At that point 'its necessary to preserve the gravitas of the encounter' just left the building, right alongside Elvis. *g*

Well, if they're necessary mission equipment then the woman should be loaning them to us for free, and it would be incredibly childish and spiteful of her to send us down to the Abyss without them even if she didn't like our attitudes.

Even the encounter as written, in all of its terribad glory, still acknowledges the concept 'Iomedae is aware that sending you out and not getting you back will be a worse outcome than simply not sending you at all.' Going with that line of reasoning a little further, she has every reason to load you up with a couple of booster packs pro bono. It would not be a plot hole to have this happen.

I mean, come on Iomedae, do you want your Herald rescued or not? Kee-ripes, not even the Johnsons in freaking Shadowrun usually dicked around like this. If equipment was actually mission-critical and not reasonably part of a shadowrunner's gear loadout already, they gave it to us. Or at least loaned it to us. Or at worst, let us have the chance to purchase it at wholesale prices plus discount. When Iomedae's employment package is looking like a worse deal than running for gorram Saeder-Krupp, something is direly wrong with the writing.

I'm going overlong. The short version is, however you slice it there is no reason the PCs have to "earn" anything here. Either you can just say that the artifacts are added to our paycheck for this run alongside everything else we're already getting, or else you can say that 'Iomedae is loaning you these things because if you're going to go into the Abyss itself on her behalf then she's going to give you as much help as she can get away with before the Prime Directive starts making frowny faces at her'.

So, no trials necessary, and no need to write any.

Oh, I know exactly what trial I should pass to earn those artifacts.

I should venture into the depths of the Abyss itself to rescue the Herald of Iomedae from a fate worse than death, or grant him merciful release if I cannot. :)

Or: Make the artifacts part of the quest reward, and have her pay you 50% up front and 50% on completion. Because, really, 'one Miracle each' is sorta chintzy at this level; given that we're gonna be level 18 and tier 9 by the end of this run, our party's own cleric can do us Miracles for free.

Seriously, 'saving the herald of a god from eternal damnation' is the sort of job where being paid a couple of minor artifacts is not unreasonable.

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Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
And while I sometimes have to get my group back on track - actually we all decided that we wanted to reduce distractions while we play, to improve the RP - that is the nature of the beast.

And? In your experience, did slamming a player's character with an invincible grudge monster actually improve their focus on the game?

What I meant, is that if a player decides to want his character to go forth, stand before a goddess and fart in her face

At this point you are discussing something entirely other than what we were objecting to. I'm gonna ignore this part and move on, because there is no point in discussing it. If you persist in trivializing all opposition to this encounter's writing as 'people who just want to fart in a goddess' face', then rational discussion will become impossible.

I think, they could be better phrased, but in essence she just wants to know a bit about the characters.

... she is a freaking deity. If she wants to know something about the characters, she has an almost literal infinity of options for finding out, none of which require stealing the gag of that Japanese game show parody from that one "Supernatural" episode. You know, the one where the Trickster forced Sam & Dean to play a silly quiz show, and every time they got an answer wrong they were punched in the balls? 'Nutcracker', I think it was called?

I wrote an entire post on the silliness of the idea that Iomedae would need to 'test' the player characters at all. They've already been through four books' worth of tests at this point.

Actually, now that I think about it, her whole shpiel of 'Are you ready to face the temptations of a demon lord?' makes Iomedae look like an idiot. Ma'am, you're already a chapter late asking this question! We just got through the whole prior adventure with having to deal with Nocticula! Y'know what? If I've just walked out of a face-to-face with the freaking Succubus Queen and still retained my good alignment, my dignity, and my pants, I think I just might already have proven some bona fides about whether or not I've got the mental fortitude to face down a demon lord without either succumbing to evil's temptations or else soiling my underwear. I've definitely proven it a lot more than being able to pass a DC 25 Knowledge check about the details of Iomedae's biography will prove anything.

It's a badly written scene that makes no sense and no amount of trying to put lipstick on the pig will change it. It doesn't even take its own premises seriously; there is no rational reason Iomedae should be wondering whether or not I can face Baphomet if I've already been able to avoid getting screwed over (literally or otherwise) by Nocticula.

And yes, Nocticula was not putting in a full-court press. On the other hand, I had to go through the intrigues of her entire realm before I even got to her. So, y'know, anybody who's successfully completed The Midnight Isles without needing to wash off and get an /Atonement/ spell afterwards? Does not need any more testing.

True, but its not like there isn't precedent for demons tragically underestimating mortals to their doom. Indeed, most of the mythology of 'how mortals survive hell' is based on that, no?

I see my job as DM not as to preserve my villains at all cost, but to make sure that my PCs victories over the villains are satisfying to them.

I don't see where the prospective Baphomet fight under discussion would be rendered anticlimactic or unsatisfying if Baphomet /didn't/ escape at the last second, no PCs you get no chance to stop this, he just does.

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Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
Iomedae blasting rude or disrespectful npcs: This section seems intended to preserve a certain sense of authority or maybe dignity is the better word.

As multiple people have pointed out in this thread, the one thing a DM cannot compel by force is the player's emotions. If the players really want to clown around and ruin the game, there is literally nothing in-game that can be done to stop this. The most an author can do is write a sidebar reprising the relevant section of the Core Rules re: 'dealing with problem players'... a section that ISTR is more about 'ask them politely out-of-game to moderate their behavior, and remove them from your play environment if they are incorrigible' than it is about 'have an invincible NPC beat their PC up until they do what you want'.

So, I reject all lines of reasoning based on 'This was necessary to preserve the dignity of the game session'. The dignity level of a game session is a problem that exists at the meta level, not the in-story level. Writing something into the encounter to try and 'fix' this is both useless (as there is no way it will actually work) and counterproductive (as the attempted fix in Ivory Labyrinth not only does nothing to actually address the core issue, it is alienating a lot of people who wouldn't have been problems in the first place with its, errr, problematic depiction of a lawful good goddess).

The only things you can do at the story level to avoid the dignitas of your game session evaporating are all negative actions -- i.e., don'ts. Don't write a scene that's impossible to take seriously, don't talk in a silly voice, don't refuse to take your own plot seriously, etc, etc, etc. But that was never the problem here in the first place, and so turning Iomedae into the bully of the firmament is not the needed solution.

If your players are refusing to take your game seriously, then using an invincible grudge monster to chew up their PCs is not going to fix anything! When has this ever worked as a strategy? Come on, people, we're experienced DMs here. We know what the classic pitfalls of bad railroady DM'ing are. Seeing them written into an official published game product as the suggested course of action is not something we should be defending.

PS: I'm pretty sure that the last thing Iomedae would want to do if she's trying to get cooperation from Asmodeus worshippers is give them any fodder to say 'Wow, Asmodeus was right; Good really is hypocritical as hell.'

Which is, I will reiterate, exactly what she is doing. None of her worshippers would be able to get away with acting in a similar fashion without losing their own paladinhoods and needing some Atonements. So if Iomedae herself does the same thing and considers that justified, then she is making her subordinates obey rules that she doesn't obey herself. That is hypocrisy, literally by definition.

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Its happened multiple times, and more than a few of them didn't end with backstabs. The classic example is "The Alien, the Ally and... Armageddon!" in FANTASTIC FOUR #116 (original run), with the first appearance of the Over-Mind.

To quote from Unca Cheeks' review of it...


Von Doom's potent combination of mystic might and technological wizardry manages to piledrive the Overmind to his massive, alien knees....

... at which point, the star-spawned uberconqueror -- in the immortal parlance of the bone-headed lead guitarist from THIS IS SPINAL TAP -- "cranks the volume all the way up to eleven."

At no point, it should be noted, does Victor Von Doom turn tail and flee, in tried-and-true super-villainous fashion.

At no point (again, one notes) does Von Doom attempt to wriggle his way into a beneficial (or even appreciably less dangerous) alliance with the Overmind.

Instead -- in the face of "the power of a billioon billion minds"; a psychic onslaught of sheerest psychic prowess that would leave stunted and blasted and withered the marshalled forces of every other Marvel Comics super-hero, combined -- Doctor Victor Von Doom yields not so much as one single, solitary inch of ground.

Right up until the moment, in fact, when he ends up getting himself stubbornly sledgehammered into that very same ground.

In willing alliance with his true, sworn blood foemen, mind.


"It's over, Ben," a shell-shocked Sue Richards manages to murmur, at deadly length. "But... poor Doctor Doom..."

"... needs neither your pity, nor any thanks you may proffer," the proud monarch declares; ragged, yet unbowed. "This night, a cosmic drama was enacted... I played the role assigned me [...] but it is ended, and Doom plays no more.

"When next we meet, it will be on my terms... in my way...

"... and it will not be as allies."

That's about how I imagine things would end if the good deities had to team up with Asmodeus to stop the key of Rovagug's prison from being turned. :)

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Something to remember is that Asmodeus is the custodian of the key to Rovagug's prison. If Baphomet ever by some miracle credibly got into a position where Asmodeus' fall at his hands was likely, Asmodeus would get a lot of allies to help avoid that eventuality. Allies who wouldn't care a bit if Asmodeus was going to lose power, prestige, or parts of his divine realm, but would care if Asmodeus was about to get totally overthrown. Allies from among the good deities, let alone the neutrals and evils.

Because 'chaotic evil demon lord gets the key to Rovagug's prison' is the sort of thing that results in the Fantastic Four allying with Doctor Doom, if you get what I'm saying.

Hrm. Having 'if the Herald is corrupted then they will send him to be the vanguard of the next attack against the Crusade, and morale will shatter and all may certainly be lost' is a valid pragmatic reason to make the players want to go on this trip, now that you point it out.

So do the convo like I laid out above, and if the PCs asks 'what's in it for us?', a disappointed Iomedae goes 'Look, its either rescue him now or fight him later... when he has a whole demon army at his back and your own army is busy collapsing in despair, and he's stronger and you're weaker. Which odds do you like better?'

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I recommend the 'test' be skipped entirely in the first place. As pointed out, the entire point behind a 'test' is ultimately sillypants -- with the PCs achievement records to date, Iomedae should already have a good idea of just what kind of moral fiber and mental toughness they have or not. Even with the test as written she's still ultimately hoping that they won't succumb, she's not sure of it (because let's face it, those questions as written don't remotely establish any kind of useful psych profile). And its not like anybody else is lining up for this job, so Iomedae's only two choices are "send the PCs anyway regardless of her worries" or "abort mission and abandon the Herald".

So, no test. It doesn't logically fit the situation and trying to force it to creates a lot of the problems on its own, even aside from the, errr, 'enforcement mechanisms'.

Iomedae is supposed to be the paladin of paladins -- given that the party already has had multiple interactions with quest-giving paladins in this Adventure Path, just take the pattern already established and run with it. Have her simply ask for their help. Just, y'know, ask. After all, she really does have no right to command that the PCs do this(*) (unless they actually are clerics or paladins of Iomedae, but, most of your players won't be). And being a lawful good person, if she doesn't have a legal right to demand something, she shouldn't demand it.

(*) The Crusader's Oath everybody swore actually does give the right to let Queen Galfrey command the PCs like she did earlier, which is why nobody is complaining about that. But this is different, because nobody playing this is guaranteed to have sworn to the worship of Iomedae.

As for the 'I am afraid you might be turned' bits... well, have her raise her concerns along that regard not with mind games but by the straightforward method of simply telling the PCs what she's worried about. Its not like its an unreasonable fear, given that 'the Herald of Iomedae might be being brainwashed by demons right now' is the entire reason they're going on this trip in the first place. If a major angel can be taken down, then fearing for the safety of mortal souls makes sense. And being an honest and forthright sort of goddess, if she has worries about what dangers are coming up ahead, she shares those worries with the people who are actually going to face those dangers and asks them 'Are you willing to risk this? I don't want anybody volunteering for this without first knowing what they're really getting into.'

And yes, this carries the risk that the PCs might say 'no' and the AP will completely stall. So? Like I said, its not like your players can't recognize an obvious quest-giver when they see one... and if they don't want to continue forward with the AP then you don't have a game anyway, so, moot point.

PS: Oh yeah, and avoid the entire problem of 'well if gods can just yoink people into their divine realms in the Prime then why the hell don't the evil gods just snipe all the heroes' by having Iomedae not y'know, physically yoink people off the prime. If all we need is a communication, then have her show up in their dreams (something that has oodles of mythological and literary precedent) and do the whole conversation there, with the blessings and artifacts mysteriously by their side when they awaken. Or have a vision of Iomedae appear to them like the legends about sighting the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. Or cripes, just do a commune spell in reverse, with the deity contacting them instead of vice versa.

Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
I suspect, that Iomedae is still capable to to differentiate between good natured flirting (especially since she should have looked at the PCs no and then) and intentionally disrespectful rude comments. And while is has a rather stern look on her face, at least if the picture is any indication, she should show her disinterest with words first.

Sure, that's the common sense interpretation and 99.99999+% likely to be used by any DM who actually gets this far... but its not what's written on the page. The logic of the encounter is laid out as IF [Iomedae is disrespected] THEN [smite smite smite], without any discussion of possible alternatives or intermediate steps... well, unless you define 'DC 40 save to avoid being permanently struck mute' as 'intermediate'. Which is kinda hard to do given that even this minimum possible step will still almost certainly perma-cripple the character so hard that the player will have to retire it and get a new one to continue adventuring... at which point you might as well have just killed them.

Or: Pointing out that the encounter can be (and almost certainly will be) adapted by your local DM to avoid its flaws as written does nothing to address the topic under discussion -- which is, is the encounter well written. It ain't. It's a total fixer-upper. That it can be fixed does nothing to change that it needs to be fixed, desperately, which is the point under contention.

And yeah, the encounter is written to be able to deal with a group full of... idiots or worse, but frankly writing an encounter with a god is a pretty tall order.

One: writing encounters with good-aligned gods that don't make them look like insecure bullying asshats is something David Weber has managed (read 'Oath of Swords' sometime), so, its not like it takes reincarnating JRR Tolkien to pull it off. Hell, how many people in this thread have managed to come up with suggestions?

Two: the simple method of 'have Iomedae show up and ask politely for their help', while hardly inspiring or original, would still be a several thousand percent improvement on what we got here. So, the question 'how hard is it to write a really awesome encounter with a god?', while interesting and worthy of discussion in its own right, is still distracting us from the question 'how hard would it have been to write an encounter that, even if it doesn't set the stars on fire with its literary genius, still would suck less than this one?'.

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(sarcasm mode: ON) Actually, you don't even have to heal them. Its perfectly all right to beat them down to -1 hp, then stabilize them, then dump them back at their houses and leave them to either get medical attention from their surviving friends (if any), make the Con checks on their own, or die.

(sarcasm mode: OFF) Because that's exactly what she does to you if you trigger the '2 offenses of being rude or 1 offense of actually attacking' level of smiting.

Saint Caleth wrote:
The problem is that much of the time Golarion tries to consciously not be that, so I find it a bit incongruous if that is what is suddenly being pushed in this AP.

Eh, what?

Here's the official Golarion position on 'why play a good character'? It's from the intro to Champions of Purity.


Why be good? It’s a question that often goes unanswered in fantasy roleplaying games like Pathfinder. Why is that so? Because lucre and level advancement in many such games tend to be rewards for defeating evil. Though the player characters loot treasure vaults and murder monsters, they are heroes struggling against a rising tide of darkness. Playing such characters allows us to satisfy that inherent desire in all of us to rise above the evil of our world and champion something positive, much like superheroes or our favorite characters from fantasy literature do.

The world of Golarion abounds with opportunities to join epic struggles against evil. Characters can take up with the Mendevian Crusaders in the ongoing battle to extinguish the demonic tide flooding the lands and stop the Worldwound’s expansion; they can tangle with the undead of Geb, freeing pockets of humans from the vile rulers who use the living as chattel; or they can aid Andoran in its efforts to annihilate the slave trade. Other possibilities include freeing the frozen land of Irrisen from the Witch Queen Baba Yaga or overthrowing the Midnight Lord’s hold on Nidal.

Playing good characters is certainly challenging in any game world, especially when the game’s trappings—level advancement, ability gains, and fantastic magical items and artifacts—are so exciting that they can sometimes distract you from your character’s noble aims and purpose, thereby separating you from the game’s true spirit. While leveling up by slaying monsters is part of play, and gaining cool magical items does make your character more difficult to defeat, the heart of the game is about players coming together in common cause in the face of nigh-overwhelming evil.

So what is the real reward of playing a good character? It is beating back the insurgent forces of darkness, saving a small town from being overrun by undead, and building a bastion of safety in the chaotic wilderness to serve as a front line against invading hordes. It is saving the day, defeating evil, and gaining the gratitude of a helpless village. Such are the real rewards of true heroes.

So, you can't exactly say that its a sudden genre shift for Golarion.

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Saint Caleth wrote:
Every alignment has strengths and weaknesses, good characters would not be very interesting dramatically if that were the case.

Really? Millions of fans find the fictional characters I just named very interesting, and they are -- Optimus in particular -- archetypical examples of pure shiney good without serious, or in some cases any, real flaws. Apparently, there is indeed still a market for things you're not personally interested by.

As a general thing -- if Good and Evil are actually just two sides of the same kind of coin, if one of them isn't legitimately better than the other, then the terms 'good' and 'evil' are reduced to meaningless. You're just talking about Us vs. Them at that point. You reduce the cosmic struggle between angels and demons to the same moral level as Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings... its not about one actually being the right choice vs. the wrong choice, its just about your team vs. their team.

I suppose there is a place for stories about moral relativism... but an adventure path about big shiney heroes saving the world from an invasion of demons ain't it.

The strengths of LG are Loyalty, Integrity, Conviction and Tenacity as well as Mercy and Empathy. So you are right that all those things you mentioned are great examples and show the best face of LG. The weaknesses are what I said above. Self-righteousness and a tendency to judge everyone by your standards and probably find them wanting.

No, 'Lawful Good must be self-righteous and narrow-minded' is a poisonous meme that many people disagree with and isn't actually true.

The "weakness" of Lawful Good is that you are Lawful Good. You have signed on to perhaps the most restrictive code of behavior in the universe. You are surrounded on every side by temptations that even other good people don't have to struggle against, and you play by the rules even when everybody else isn't playing by them. Which by itself is a great way to get screwed blued and tattooed, as anybody who's actually been stuck in a 'I'm obeying the rules and the other guy is getting away with munchkining and cheating' totally knows.

At no point do you also have to be a narrow-minded intolerant type.

Heck, Lawful Good has a definition in the core rules. Let's go look at it.

Lawful Good: A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. She combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished. Lawful good combines honor with compassion. (emphasis mine)

But perhaps there's another supplement that goes more into detail on what the Lawful Good alignment in Pathfinder is about. Oh wait, there is. "Champions of Purity". Let's go look.

Lawful Good characters are proficient at understanding bureaucracies, following laws, and cultivating order and structure in their own lives and in others'. They are naturally helpful, and others find them trustworthy, even if they don't share the same alignment. [...] These characters sometimes have problems defying laws, even when the laws are unjust. Instead of disobeying or protesting against such laws, they work within the provided structure to change those laws, and they implore others to do so as well. They feel guilty lying to others, even if only asked to fib to provide a ruse for their companions. Similarily, they won't break the law to help good-intentioned party members perform actions that might have beneficial results.

Hrm. Nothing in here even hinting that a narrow-minded or self-righteous POV is required for Lawful Good, or even a standard part of Lawful Good. It's all about self-discipline and self-denial. Their biggest weaknesses are presented in terms of 'might not buck the system hard enough even when it needs a good bucking', and even then they still try to change the system for the better somehow; they don't just roll over and take it all "We vuz just followink orderz!" style. And at multiple points their tolerance of and willingness to work with other good belief systems -- Neutral Good or Chaotic Good as well as Lawful Good -- is highlighted.

Is this easy or boring? Hells no. Try actually roleplaying Captain America sometime. Brother, any teenaged idiot can act like Wolverine; he's easy to get down. Acting like an LG exemplar while still being able to find ways to get things done in an imperfect world? Now that's playing on Hard difficulty.

I only see narrow mindedness in the fact that a LG character sees in their worldview the confluence of two optima, Good and Law.

Not consistent with Pathfinder core material. Not consistent with Faiths of Purity. Not consistent with the bulk of material presented for PF or d20 in the past decade, really. Book of the Righteous, for all its flaws, at least was able to get down the base priciple that 'Good people are not supposed to be a!+#!%$s. Seriously. Good is kind and tolerant and fights for the little guy. Its evil -- even the deluded sorts of evil that think they're good -- that are all about forcing compliance and stamping out dissent.'

Then again I have been informed that I am really really cynical about Lawful alignments in general.

Yeah. From what I've seen your interpretation of Lawful Good is more appropriately Lawful Neutral at best.

In my reading of this scene I disagree with you about the dramatic intent. It needs to set the scene of impossible odds with no margin for failure more than it needs to provide any kind of uplifting note.

I think that was already set when they pointed out that you were going into the Abyss to try and face down a demon lord in his own lair, really.

Seriously. I am going into the Abyss to directly confront a demon lord in their own lair. At this point, the stakes are high enough!

I don't need to see the alleged touchstone of the faith, the ever-vigilant Inheritor, the very goddess of Honor and Justice herself, supposedly breaking down all hysterical-tantrumy, to make the stakes feel any higher. At best its a severe cognitive dissonance and actually distracts me from the main dramatic thrust of the arc. At worst, its bathos. (Bathos (noun) 1. a ludicrous descent from the exalted or lofty to the commonplace; anticlimax. 2. insincere pathos; sentimentality; mawkishness. 3. triteness or triviality in style.)

Also as a literal deus-ex-machina to launch the party into the adventure.

Why, because just showing up and asking politely wouldn't have worked? It's not like anybody who's gotten this far into an Adventure Path can't recognize a quest-giver NPC when she shows up with one.

I see what you mean about the first direct appearance of a deity is this kind of scene. It is perhaps unfortunate, but it is what is required at this point in the plot.

Disagree. The only thing the plot requires at this point is to tell you where the next stage of the plot is. Which can be achieved in any one of a dozen ways.

And as for lending the moment more dramatic weight -- a greater goddess is showing up in person to ask me for a personal favor -- said personal favor being to go to the depths of the Abyss itself to confront a demon prince at the heart of their power.

Y'know what? The dramatic stakes of a moment like that are already off the scale, just from a simple factual reading of the situation. We don't need any big dramatic flourishes to try and make it seem even bigger... especially not if the flourishes are written so jarringly and hysterically that they only distract from the moment at hand, if not actually personally piss off the players because they're being arbitrarily slapped around by invincible DM grudge monsters.

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To be fair, as far back as AD&D 1st edition we had spells that killed or crippled or permanently blinded or deafened evil people while doing nothing to good people -- specifically, holy word. If that's been OK all along, then I can't complain too hard about ravages.

But brain rewrites? Sorry, my own personal belief system is that you just don't go there. Mind-controlling a dude to 'drop the knife and let the hostage go' is one thing, because, y'know, you're just temporarily restraining him to save someone's life. Permanently forcing a belief system to alter itself to your own preferences against their will? That hits my personal horror button.

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Saint Caleth wrote:

I think that the intent of the writers was to show that as a very young deity she still has some negative human emotions that she can fall victim to in trying times. The unprecedented direct attack on her herald is about as trying as you can get. She is frustrated on a monumental, divine scale. That this situation can rattle even a god should impress the consequences should the party fail.

In her frustration the lawful part of her alignment can easily lead to what she does in this scene, especially if the mortals she is trying to temper into her weapons in the mortal world start giving her s+~&. Lawful, even Lawful Good is not in the business of Democracy, especially not Iomedae who is an essentially military deity, and one of the downsides of LG that they are prone to judge everyone by their standards.

One: I disagree that LG is about being this self-righteous or narrow-minded. 'Lawful Jerkass' is an alignment that those of us AD&D 1e veterans suffered through at our game tables for so many many years... we don't want to go there again. Some of us have our mental images of paladins shaped by things like the Paksenarrion novels or Optimus Prime or Michael Carpenter or the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Captain America, as opposed to the real-world history of medieval witchburning.

Heck, even AD&D 1e had St. Cuthbert as LN. He didn't get the LG retcon until much, much later.

But that aside... OK, let's for the sake of argument agree with everything you just said. Iomedae really is that unusually stressed out and frazzled, she really is screwing up that bad, the author really did intend this. I don't agree with it, but for the duration of this post I'm going to roll with it anyway as a hypothetical.

So. Even if we accept all this, we are left with the conclusion that...

... Iomedae's first on-stage appearance in the entire storyline is a shot of her majorly screwing up.

Um. Wow. Yeah. This feels a major dramatic misfire, if true. The big inspiring goddess figure of the crusades, as well as the first time in any adventure path that characters have actually met a deity in person on friendly terms, and the dramatic intent of that scene is to show the goddess at her worst moment? What dramatic purpose would that serve? The big moment of inspiration before you set out to harrow the very hells itself, and its all about showing the alleged patron goddess completely losing her s++% and freaking out?

That's not very inspiring at all. It is in fact a giant buzzkill. Its a shot straight in the ass of morale.

So... OK, you've brought up a hypothetical line of argument that might explain the character incongruity. However, even if it's true, then you've just traded 'this scene is massively OOC' for 'this scene is very jarring and against the storyline's overall theme of righteous crusading staying undaunted vs. impossible odds', which is not very much of a trade-up at all.

Add: Not to mention the cognitive dissonance at being tested for 'can you keep your cool even when the most powerful forces of the Abyss are traumatizing your soul?' by an examiner who herself is being traumatized by the forces of the Abyss and going at least halfway to hysterical in the process.

Or, for that matter, the general annoyance at the idea of making the big on-camera appearance of the strong righteous warrior queen of the gods being a scene of her being a hysterical woman throwing a temper tantrum. Which... OK, I'm a guy, so I'll have to go ask my one female player if she'd find this offensive as a portrayal of an alleged strong female character. But I'm already guessing that she'll probably say 'hell yeah'.

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Scaevola77 wrote:
Chuckg, not to demean your service in the military, but the point I was trying to make is that Iomedae would rather not send people needlessly to their deaths and thus strengthen the enemy. Is that not a good trait for officers to have?

If the process of determining whether I'm at excessive risk of death can itself leave me blind, deaf, dumb, and crippled for life... as well as injured unto the point of dying... then you have to ask 'So what's the point?'

To my understanding, the elite special forces often go through SERE training, which includes resistance to torture. How is that taught, if not by controlled torture? (I honestly don't know much about SERE, this is just what I have heard).

One: SERE training -- and for that matter, elite special operations units in general -- requires all volunteers precisely for this reason. Nobody goes into this s&$& without first knowing exactly what he signed up for, and consenting to it in advance.

But the Iomedae scene? Starts out with you being press-ganged. You don't get a choice about having to show up for the test sequence, and you can't even ask 'How do I get out of this chickenshit outfit?' without getting slapped. The only way written in the scenario to leave Iomedae's presence before facing the questions is to piss her off to the point where she throws you out... and if you've done that, then you've already been deafened, blinded, struck mute, and slammed into negative HP.

Two: If a recruit actually got a permanent disabling injury of any kind during SERE training -- much less the full 'blind, deaf, unable to talk, oh yeah, and injured to the point of near-death experience' package -- then a minimum of one instructor would probably see his career as an instructor coming to a sudden halt, if not actually being court-martialled for negligence.

Would you care to respond to any of the other rebuttals I presented using quotes from the book?

Either I already have earlier in the thread, or else your rebuttals are covering topics not about book knowledge, so, what would be the point? And if you have a specific point you want me to re-examine in detail, could you tell me what it is?

Lastly, participation in this thread was originally interesting, but I grow weary of this thread. At the end of the day, we can have different interpretations of how this encounter portrays Iomedae.

The problem with 'all opinions are valid' is that it runs head-on into 'but the prior canon only has one Iomedae'.

I told a couple of my players about the encounter, and they thought it sounded cool and in character for Iomedae.

Obviously I disagree, but you knew that already. So, the point is?

I don't find it particularly upsetting and inconsistent with her role as a LG warrior goddess.

My argument on why Iomedae's actions in this scenario do not remotely qualify for the designators Lawful or Good, using her own religion's precedents for Lawful Good no less, has already been made. At length, and with "quotes from the book". If you haven't bothered to read it, not my problem.

James Jacobs seemed to express disappointment in the fan reaction

That's fair, I'm entirely disappointed in James Jacobs' writing.

Seriously, if this kind of stuff is what Lawful Good is officially going to mean in Golarion now -- if 'Lawful Good' really is going to get a canonical imprimatur for the sort of terrifying self-righteousness and lack of compassion that considers permanently crippling someone to be a just and proportionate response to them calling you a dirty name -- then to hell with it. I watched that same kind of thing completely destroy any fun and enjoyment I had in the Forgotten Realms (quick, name a high-level LG ruler, priest, or other important NPC in Realms canon that isn't either killed off pointlessly, epically blind to the corruption among their own allies, or a total jerkass. 'Cause I'm comin' up blank.) , and I'm not going to be shy about registering my objections to setting this kind of precedent for 'Lawful Jerkass' as an allegedly LG-complaint action in official Pathfinder game product.

and seemed to feel that the representation of Iomedae was fairly accurate.

And he also said that now that he's seen the fan reaction he wished he had a time machine to go back and warn himself to write it completely differently, so your point is?

Look, if the man feels he has something more to contribute to this thread, he can say it himself. If you're going to try and claim that he supports your POV officially as the line editor then I would appreciate a direct quote, because citing the author as Word of God (TVTropes reference) is not something you do unless its explicit.

I would encourage everyone to evaluate if perhaps you are misinterpreting the encounter or Iomedae's character

... yes, because I posted all of the wordcount I've done today on the topic -- which is a quite staggering total -- without once actually evaluating my position already. /sarcasm off

Obviously I already think that my interpretation is correct, sourced by canon, and extensively thought out -- because if I didn't, I wouldn't have opened my mouth in the first place. Yes, the possibility exists that I could be wrong, because I am a human being and thus capable of error. However, simply saying 'you might be wrong' isn't going to get me to suddenly recant my entire POV and agree with everything you say. I'm going to need something genuinely persuasive, some insight into canon or some reference cite that I've entirely overlooked.

Which so far you have yet to successfully deliver.

and to find out what your players might think of the encounter.

I already know what my players think of the encounter. Trust me. It ain't flattering.

I suspect that the encounter's focus on negative consequences may have skewed some perspectives on the encounter.

... I've already typed out and then backspaced over four separate answers to this one, before I finally decided to just not bother. That should give you a hint as to how offensively patronizing a statement I found this.

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Eh, philosophically speaking, I would consider it a greater sin to forcibly rewrite someone's free will than I would to kill them under circumstances where killing is otherwise justifiable (i.e., just war, self-defense, defense of other, etc). Killing them under circumstances where killing isn't justifiable is of course right out, but that goes without saying and would continue to go without saying regardless of which side of this question we're on, which is why it goes without saying. *g*

Yes, this applies even if eternal damnation awaits my victim in the afterlife. Whatever happens to that dude in the afterlife happens because of the life choices he made. I didn't hold a gun to his head and say 'Be evils or else!' He played under the same rules we all did, he bet his money, and he took his choice. I'm not doing anything worse than fighting him and winning, and if he hadn't attacked me or mine I wouldn't even be fighting him.

Getting into his skull and rewriting his thoughts, OTOH, is horribly invasive and coercive. Without law there is no civilization, no. But without choice, there is no good. Take free will completely out of the equation and there's no reason to leave sentience in there. We might as well be ants.

To focus more on Golarion specifically and less on philosophy in general... as I recall, converting the heathen at swords-point is considered anathema by Golarion deities of Good; if that's true, then how much more anathema would converting the heathen by using the Squadron Supreme Behavior Modification Machine be?

Actually, there is a text for the Crusader's Oath; it's in Inner Sea World Guide, under the 'Low Templar' prestige class entry.

I do so swear under the Light, by the Sword and Scales of Truth and all the fires of heaven, to undertake this holy Crusade. I pledge to guard heart, spirit, body, and mind from the corruption of this Wound upon the World. I furthermore promise and declare that I shall wage relentless war against the Spawn of the Pit and their manifold legions, as directed by those with charge of this Crusade and whenever opportunity presents, to extirpate and annihilate their execrable race and any who serve them.

It would appear Crusaders swear their oaths to the temporal authorities in charge of the Mendevian Crusade -- that is to say, to Queen Galfrey and the duly appointed officers under her. There isn't a damn thing in here about swearing to Iomedae as your patron deity.

Which, given that the Mendevian Crusade canonically has everything from Chelaxian devil-worshippers to Taldorian penal brigades in it, is sorta how it has to work.

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Tangent speaks for me with most of it, or else I've already talked about it, but one comment still cries out for a response:

She doesn't have the option of getting anyone else, true. However, she doesn't want to just throw the PCs away to their doom. They are the best able to do the job, but if they are not actually able to do the job, sending them would do more harm than good. She is being a good, caring military commander in that respect.

A 'good caring military commander' does not maim subordinates just for talking out of turn (non-judicial punishment, yes. for a severe offense some brig time, yes. wall-to-wall counseling? ... only very rarely, and unofficially, and even then hospitalizing the person (much less inflicting permanent disabilities) is doing it wrong and will get multiple people sent to Leavenworth) and does not set up arbitrary pass-fail tests where the answers are either 'have you read my biography'?, completely subjective and with /no/ one right answer, or else otherwise total gotcha questions. Seriously. I can think of a a handful of examples from 20th-century military history (let alone medieval military history) where commanders were routinely expected to discipline erring troops by beating them severely, but ain't none of them were remotely fitting the descriptors of 'good' or 'caring'.

No. Seriously. I've been in a military, thank you. I know what good officers are supposed to behave like. Iomedae, as written in that scene, epically failed to.

And now that I've mentioned it, another thing that annoyed me. For a test that is allegedly to determine if the PCs have the moral fiber to resist being corrupted by the powers of Hell, question #1 is about... Iomedae's biography?

Seriously. That question is all 'I expect everyone in the Crusade, even those serving other gods, even those who have never been part of my Church, to have read and memorized all the details of my mortal life to the point where they can recite random obscure (DC 25 Knowledge check, remember) details from it on cue!' Um... what?. Lady, this is a fair test only for your own priesthood. They can be reasonably expected to have as a job requirement 'must memorize all the details of Iomedae's catechism and mythology, even the obscure bits'. But not even your lay worshippers are expected to jump through these kinds of hurdles without at least a chance to read up on it first, let alone someone else's worshippers. And note, the majority of PCs playing this Adventure Path? Will not be worshippers of Iomedae, much less clerics of.

Pfah! 'Have you read my biography?' as an exam question indeed! Who the heck am I talking to -- Iomedae the Inheritor or Gilderoy Lockhart?

PS: Now that I've thought about it... if members of the party don't worship Iomedae as their patron deity, as is entirely possible (even probable)... what gives her the right to yoink them forcibly in at all? Just membership in the Mendevian Crusade alone shouldn't do it; there's like at least five major deities sponsoring that thing, plus the Crusader's Oath doesn't say a damn thing about 'And I also accept Iomedae alone as my personal savior'.

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Scaevola77 wrote:
She wants them not to quail and grovel before her, but also doesn't appreciate them mocking her. There is a HUGE spectrum between "quail and cower" and "openly mocking". There is no contradiction here beyond what you are manufacturing.

Yes, because players and DMs always interpret things exactly the same way every time.

The line between defiance and mockery is, as our very discussion here is proving, vastly subjective and all in the eye of the beholder. If the player thinks he's on one side of the line and the DM thinks he's on the other side -- which is entirely possible in any game, even ones where the players and the DM have gamed together for a long while -- then somebody's going to get the fertilizer smited out of him purely on a misunderstanding. This alone would justify the claim that this encounter is poorly written, because a well-written encounter does not set up PCs for this kind of misunderstanding without at least writing a sidebar for the DM saying 'Please keep in mind that your players and you may not interpret this the same way and err on the side of caution' or something. Which they didn't.

As a side note, this could add more reason for her "torture". How do the PCs handle a display of power from a goddess? Will they cower in front of her? Will they behave rashly and attack? Will they remain collected and respectful? If they are truly worthy, they will do the last.

Disagree. That would, among other things, contradict 'remain cowards in the face of evil', another quality she is allegedly looking for. What kind of hero lets himself be assaulted without provocation without defending himself?

For that matter, when was the last time any DM had an NPC actually attack a player, and deal 5d6+ worth of damage, and still credibly expect the player to not roll for initiative?

You will notice that at no point in this thread did anybody object to Iomedae's smiting someone who actually draws down on her except to say 'It would be sad if this happened due to a misunderstanding' or 'If you're invulnerable to harm, perhaps you don't need to beat the guy half to death to stop him when you have options available just to stun him'. This is because if you're attacked without provocation -- 'provocation' being defined in the sense that self-defense law would define it, so harsh language doesn't count -- its a reasonable action to fight back.

So saying 'maybe the point of the encounter is that Iomedae is looking for people who will take a beating from her without daring to raise their hands back at her' is, in my opinion, way off base. You know who traditionally looks for that kind of subordinate? The Evil Overlord. He loves to have minions that don't kick back when he kicks them in the face.

Again, why do some people insist that its perfectly reasonable for Lawful Good to keep using the personnel management policies more traditional for Chaotic Evil?

Also, if Iomedae is looking for people who will fight even at hopeless odds, who will not surrender even if faced with the vast power of a demon lord... then she can hardly be surprised if they also refuse to back down when confronted with the vast power of a goddess. Trying to have it both ways at once is a failure of both logic and this encounter's writing.

This was already discussed. Someone can be "most worthy" and still not actually be "worthy".

Ah, I missed that. But, having heard that line of reasoning, I still disagree.

At my job, I may be the most qualified to re-wire the building due to my I may be the most qualified to re-wire the building due to my electrical engineering background. However, that does not actually make me qualified to do the job.

Yeah, but here's the thing. Your building manager has the option of simply hiring an outside electrician. Therefore, it actually is worth his time to ponder the distinction between 'who is most qualified of the people on my staff' and 'who is sufficiently qualified in an absolute sense'.

But Iomedae doesn't have the option of hiring out. If she cannot find a team of heroes among her Crusaders capable of doing this job, then she just ain't going to get the job done ever. Its that simple and that hard.

Iomedae is, literally, in the position of a military commander who needs a high-risk mission done deep into enemy territory, and has only one team that is even possibly qualified for the job. At this point, why the hell is she screwing around with evaluation tests and games at all? If the mission is really that important that its worth the risk, and there's only one possible choice to do it, then its not really a choice at all is it? If there was anybody else around who could possibly do this job then maybe setting us both up to be tested to see which one of us has a better chance would make sense. But there isn't. The entire conceit of the Adventure Path is that there specifically is not. Its all up to us.

So since the entire AP is based on the principle of 'Send in the PC heroes and hope for the best'... why is she just not doing that? Why does this encounter exist at all? It damn sure ain't because its literary merit or entertainment value justify spending time on it on its own hook. And as just laid out at length, its hardly necessary to the plot either.

Cowards in the face of the evil that is confronting them actively on a day to day basis and she is about to ask them to face?

Doesn't work that way. My objection here is how her dialogue is phrased. As phrased, failure to try and answer her questions is 'cowardice in the face of evil'. Except that this only makes sense if Iomedae is the face of evil. Ergo, the dialogue makes no sense and is badly written, and should have been phrased as 'in the face of danger' or something else that would actually fit the situation she is talking about.

captain yesterday wrote:
mayhaps to get things back on track instead of using this thread to bicker and argue on ethics we can get back on track and suggest useful ideas for those for whatever reason don't care for the encounter

I think I've put in as many suggestions on that vein as the rest of this thread combined, but if you want another one, let's roll with the riff from a few posts ago and go 'Have this actually be Baphomet trying to screw with your heads, with Iomedae riding in as the dream cavalry at the end and acting entirely opposite from the brutal quiz show host routine. Like, literally the first words out of her mouth are 'Are you all right?', and then a sincere thank you for all the service you've done so far, and then an impassioned plea for your help even though it goes into the Abyss, volunteers only.'

(Obviously of course the entire thing has to be in your dreamscape, because if Baphomet was actually capable of just yoinking you to his realm bodily he'd have murdered you right then and there, but hey, there is longtime classic precedent for both gods and demons speaking to heroes of legend in their dreams.)

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On re-reading this encounter, I am struck yet again by how horribly sloppy the writing is. Page 8 of 'Ivory Labyrinth' contains a specific mention that Iomedae is supposedly looking for PCs that will defy her, because if they have the cojones to remain proud and defiant in a goddess' face then she knows that they won't quail vs. a demon lord. And yet Page 9 is all about 'if you dare offend the goddess she will SMITE THE FERTILIZER OUT OF YOU. why, you can't even so much as raise your eyes to her without her permission!'. (No, seriously. You can't. It's a DC 40 Will save to so much as look at her unless she feels like permitting you to. I am not making this up.) In addition to being unable to remain consistent with prior Pathfinder supplements about Iomedae, this thing cannot remain consistent with itself from page to page!

Actually, its worse than that. It can't remain consistent with itself inside the space of a single paragraph.

Let's check out Iomedae's opening dialogue...

Welcome, heroes. I am Iomedae. You are those who have proven most worthy to strike back against the Abyss' latest injustic: the kidnapping of my own herald. Answer my questions truthfully and be found worthy of the great task I would set before you. Remain silent, and be known as cowards in the face of evil."

Within the space of two sentences this thing has just fallen back on itself. In literally one breath the goddess tells me I am "proven most worthy" of the quest, and in the next she tells me that I need to take a test in order to prove myself worthy. Make up your mind, ma'am! Am I worthy or not? Have I already proven myself or am I yet to?

And the sheer clumsiness of the phrasing of "be known as cowards in the face of evil". Um, ma'am, the only people here are the party and you. So, where exactly is this evil that I'm currently in the face of again? Wait a minute...

Man, those posts we wrote about how parties would not be entirely irrational to assume they'd been kidnapped by Baphomet pretending to be Iomedae were closer to the mark than we knew! Forget suspecting that something is wrong here; the way she's phrasing this is practically telling you that something is wrong here. In another adventure, this would be exactly the sort of subtle foreshadowing clue that players are expected to catch on and go 'A-ha! The gambit is revealed!', or at the very least look back in hindsight at and go 'Well, the adventure was fair about warning us...'

But no. This is actually supposed to be Iomedae talking. Her dialogue is just that bad, to where taking her own statements at literal face value add up to 'By the way, I'm actually the face of evil'. This is George Lucas writing romantic dialogue for Anakin & Padme bad.

Whoever said that this thing wouldn't be accepted as a 'Dungeon' magazine submission was being charitable.

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Mary Yamato wrote:

The scenario in which I'd expect to see a perfectly reasonable and cooperative group of players end up fighting with Iomedae would go something like this:

The PCs are followers of Sarenrae, or at least of her philosophy. They have spent the previous four modules working extremely hard to redeem enemies and have been pretty successful. So, when Iomedae asks question #2 they answer immediately and with no trace of hesitation on anyone's part, because they have long ago settled this to their satisfaction.

They take a little damage and Iomedae appears angry.

My own party would have failed on the exact same criteria -- and none of them were Sarenrae worshippers. But we were the group that was redeeming Kreggal the Dretch damn near from session one out, and witnessed several divine miracles around the little guy's redemption efforts (one of them while consecrating a temple of Iomedae, no less!)... so, yeah, if I'd thrown them at this with no forewarning, they might well have leapt to the conclusion 'OK, this is Baphomet trying to mindgame us into abandoning the path of redemption and going down the fanatical inquisitor road! Just like his Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth had been trying to corrupt the Crusade all along, canonically, in previous examples during this adventure path! But your brutality betrays you, demon! A true goddess of justice would never smack someone with 5d6 lethal simply for not giving the answer to a question that she wanted to hear! Even when you attempt to pretend to be good, your evil and shortsightedness are manifest! HAVE AT THEE!'

(Also, my most eloquent player was running a paladin of Ragathiel -- who, as we might remember, is a redeemed arch-devil. Trying to hit him with this question might well have resulted in him giving an entire speech on how anybody who denies the possibility of redemption is blaspheming against his god, which might very well accidentally trip the lese-majeste meter depending on just how eloquent he's feeling that day.)

Fortunately -- and never before have I said that word about the premature dissolution of a campaign -- my players' decision to abandon the game (new player didn't like the Pathfinder system and found it un-fun... ah well,their choice) prevented us from ever reaching this scene.

Which is a damn good thing, because if I'd run it like this and they'd reacted like that, I also would have had to retcon it into actually being Baphomet or someone, or else I'd have had three of my best friends flip the table on me.

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Brain in a Jar wrote:

Those are all fine as well. No one is wrong in this thread. We are strictly speaking of differing opinions.

Some people enjoy a more old testament, greek god, flavor of deity.

Actually, someone is wrong in this thread -- you. You don't get to say "It's my opinion" when talking about matters of simple factual record -- such as what Iomedae's description in the Pathfinder supplements does or does not say.

Iomedae, as written in Faiths of Purity, Inner Sea World Guide, Council of Thieves, etc, is not an "old testament, greek god, flavor of deity". She simply isn't. Your personal preferences and your own campaign aside, what's actually written in the game supplements is clear -- and totally inconsistent with what was written in Ivory Labyrinth.

This is why so many of us object to it. Because its violently out of character.

And that's not just a difference of opinion. That's the text.

Add: There's also that part where you tried to pass off blinded, deafened, permanently voiceless, and taken to -1 HP as a "spanking". That's simply wrong. No 'opinion' can possibly stretch the definition of 'spanking' remotely that far, anymore than I could define a price tag of $100 million as 'slightly expensive' or the Pacific Ocean as 'slightly damp'.

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Yeah. I mean, if we're talking about temperate responses more in keeping for the goddess of paladins, justice, and all that:

"You get to be quiet now." -- The jerkish character has a silence, 1' radius field put around his mouth. If he actually has something important to say it turns off and he can contribute to the meeting, but every time he starts to say something insulting she hits the mute button again. If you want to know how a silence spell can know whether or not what a guy says is polite ahead of time, the answer is 'It's a miracle.'

"Somebody needs a time-out." -- *poof* If the misbehavior is chornic then the jerkish character is now back on the Prime, and no longer participates in the scene. He misses out on all the possible bennies that the rest of the party could have gotten. But since mortals have free will and Iomedae respects that, if the rest of the party still wants to take their friend along on the rest of the Crusade they totally can. She just won't invite him to her house anymore.

"... you're kidding. You're kidding, right?" -- This one is for anyone who actually attacks Iomedae. She just stands there and no-sells whatever they throw at her, and actually laughs out loud that somebody thought it would work. Then she says that OK, if the player character wanted to challenge her to a duel, all they had to do is ask. The next step involves a straight-up honorable duel, maybe a few die rolls, a s~%# ton of non-lethal damage, and the PC back on the Prime contemplating the error of his ways while he invests in some soothing cream for all his new bruises.

Notice the common theme to all of this -- the response is the minimal level of force necessary to resolve the situation, and none of it has Iomedae acting in anger or offended pride. A guy who actually is trying to take the meeting seriously but just keeps saying stupid stuff is punished with a temporary inability to say anything stupid. A guy who just doesn't want to participate at all... is no longer participating. And anybody too stupid to know not to try and fight a god... gets the opportunity to learn why fighting a god is really stupid, but the beating they take is entirely non-lethal damage and is no more brutal than a martial arts master teaching the newest student just how far he has to go. Its the difference between Yoda showing Luke that he's not as good as he thinks by running Luke until he drops, and Darth Vader teaching Luke that he's not as good as he thinks by cutting Luke's hand off.

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