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RPG Superstar 9 Season Marathon Voter. Organized Play Member. 26,400 posts (43,038 including aliases). 5 reviews. 3 lists. 1 wishlist. 3 Organized Play characters. 114 aliases.

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"They do get better."

But yeah, Azathoth actually seems like a really fun deity to build a cleric around. Just a goofy cleric trying to start a band.

Imot and the Lantern King are also not pre-Remaster-evil, by the by. There are a couple other "nonevil" gods, too. Of course, strictly speaking, "evil" doesn't exist anymore as an objective qualifier. Plenty of gods are still obviously awful, but plenty others are becoming a lot more complicated thanks to the change. Holy/Unholy aside, how does a given game feel about gods like Groetus, Kalekot, Nocticula, Walkena, Abadar, Aroden or Naderi? It's going to depend on the storyteller's own point of view, their ideology. There's a lot more wiggle room. I know how I see it, but someone else might see it differently. Do I even consider Gyronna or the Green Mother to be "evil", or are they too alien, too fae, to be measured by such crass terms? Is the gold dragon running that one eugenics island "evil"? Yeah, I'd say so. But there's no game engine telling me I'm right or wrong. That's just what I believe.

There's a reason this thread is titled, "Problematic Gods", not "Evil Gods". "Evil Gods" isn't as useful a term as it used to be. This thread isn't just for the wicked. It's for the hot messes, too.

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Naderi wrote:

Edicts: Comfort and encourage lovers, help the suffering escape their circumstances in life or in death

Anathema: Dismiss or mock a creature’s grief, separate lovers, torture a creature

A concept I've had bouncing in my head for a while is a wandering Naderian priestess who journeys from town to town finding lost spirits and corrupted creatures that must be laid to rest. She's got kind of "sad, lonely gunslinger/noir detective" vibes, and rarely gets the chance to spend much time around the living, to solve "happy" problems. She is probably local to either the Mana Wastes or Ustalav. She might have a gun.

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We're talking less about "is the deity evil" and more about how a cleric might interpret their worship, though. Like how Norgorber has special lore dispensations for nonevil worshipers. Just consider it a fun creative exercise and don't worry too much about it! I've moved it offthread.

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Hello, everyone!

So, some recent conversations elsewhere about the challenges in playing Kuthite cleric PCs got me thinking about what a fun prompt it can be. Putting aside whether Zon-Kuthon is an easy god for a PC to worship, you can definitely create a cleric who follows him who can still function in a typical party!

I think that's a neat idea to explore for all the evil or "iffy" gods! I thought we could take a stab at it.

For everyone's reference, here are the edicts/anathemas for some of the sketchier gods of Golarion. Remember: The goal is a PC who can play nice with others.

Edicts and Anathemas:
Lamashtu wrote:

Edicts: bring power to outcasts and the downtrodden, indoctrinate children in Lamashtu’s teachings, make the beautiful monstrous, reveal the corruption and flaws in all things

Anathema: attempt to treat a mental illness or deformity, provide succor to Lamashtu’s enemies
Norgorber wrote:

Edicts: keep your true identity secret, sacrifice anyone necessary, take every advantage in a fight, work from the shadows

Anathema: allow your true identity to be connected to your dark dealings, share a secret freely, show mercy
Urgathoa wrote:

Edicts: become undead upon death, create or protect the undead, sate your appetites

Anathema: deny your appetites, destroy undead, sacrifice your life
Asmodeus wrote:

Edicts: negotiate contracts to your best advantage, rule tyrannically and torture weaker beings, show subservience to your betters

Anathema break a contract, free a slave, insult Asmodeus by showing mercy to your enemies
Zon-Kuthon wrote:

Edicts: bring pain to the world, mutilate your body

Anathema: create permanent or long-lasting sources of light, provide comfort to those who suffer
Naderi wrote:

Edicts: Comfort and encourage lovers, help the suffering escape their circumstances in life or in death

Anathema: Dismiss or mock a creature’s grief, separate lovers, torture a creature
Groetus wrote:

Edicts: preach of the upcoming end times, destroy that which has outlived its usefulness, put the suffering out of their misery

Anathema: artificially extend something’s existence or lifespan, spread hope
Rovagug (more like rova-good luck) wrote:

Edicts: destroy all things, free Rovagug from his prison

Anathema: create something new, let material ties restrain you, torture a victim or otherwise delay its destruction
Baalzebul wrote:

Edicts: Convey yourself with regal dignity, claim what you desire and deserve, seek vengeance from those who wrong you

Anathema: Provoke Baalzebul’s envy, show humility
Barbatos wrote:

Edicts: Veil your motives, make dangerous deals, offer incomplete and ruinous knowledge

Anathema: Hide any plot against your masters, close or interfere with portals to Hell
Belial wrote:

Edicts: Indulge your basest desires, create deadly weapons

Anathema: Impede an act of high hedonism, become too attached to a lover or project
Geryon wrote:

Edicts: Hoard knowledge, test the boundaries of taboo, spread falsehoods to dupe the foolhardy

Anathema: Declare knowledge heresy or forbidden, break your word
Dagon wrote:

Edicts: Swim underwater, improve your own strength, encourage the spread of dangerous sea monsters

Anathema: Break a sworn oath, settle in a land-locked area, share Dagon’s secrets with outsiders
Orcus wrote:

Edicts: Become undead through choice and skill, master necromantic magic, create undead

Anathema: Become a vampire or accidental undead, give succor to faiths that seek to destroy undead
Pazuzu wrote:

Edicts: Tempt others to immoral acts, revel in flight, possess or magically influence others to cause calamities

Anathema: Deny a flying creature the ability to fly, abuse Pazuzu’s name or call on Pazuzu for help, aid worshippers of Lamashtu
Zura wrote:

Edicts: Drink blood, seek vampirism, cause bleed damage

Anathema: Expose vampires, heal a bloody wound without drinking blood from it first
Charon wrote:

Edicts: End all mortal life, exploit those who fear death

Anathema: Offer anything for free, extend mortal lifespans, grant true salvation to the doomed or dying
Nhimbaloth wrote:

Edicts: create undead (particularly incorporeal undead), feast upon carnivores that have recently feasted upon others

Anathema: None
Ardad Lili wrote:

Edicts: Manipulate others with false promises, aid women who have been unfairly maligned

Anathema: Give someone more than you receive from them, allow yourself to be swayed by lust
Doloras wrote:

Edicts: Push the boundaries of science and suffering, torture other creatures

Anathema: Show or act on emotion, allow a plea for mercy to sway you
Eiseth wrote:

Edicts: Avenge all insults, claim what you desire and deserve, humiliate your foes in ironic fashion

Anathema: Allow a slight to go unanswered, show humility or fear
Mahathallah wrote:

Edicts Become an arbiter of reality, reject conventional wisdom as falsehood, capitalize on the ignorance of others

Anathema become too invested in mortal affairs, refuse to hear a truth out of preference for ignorance
The Green Mother wrote:

Edicts: Frolic in vegetation, manipulate people, use what you kill, prey on the weak

Anathema: Hold a secret for too long, discriminate against sex workers or use their trade to harm them
The Lantern King wrote:

Edicts: Play pranks, seek new jokes, leave lit lanterns in unusual places

Anathema: Be completely honest, ruin or explain a good joke
Droskar wrote:

Edicts: achieve goals at any cost, continually improve your abilities, establish dominance, work ceaselessly

Anathema: fail to work toward goals or grow in skill, relax excessively or give into sloth
Kelizandri wrote:

Edicts: Instill hydrophobia in others, kill your foes by drowning them, sacrifice treasures to the depths of the ocean

Anathema: Destroy a body of water, use magic to calm the waves
Ymeri wrote:

Edicts: be passionate and quick of wit, destroy your foes with fire, inspire your inferiors with zeal and strategy

Anathema: allow yourself to stagnate or lose motivation, extinguish destructive blazes
Imot wrote:

Edicts: Search for omens in the natural world, push the boundaries of mathematics, study past disasters

Anathema: Withhold your understanding of a portent, prevent the destruction of things that cannot be saved
Mother Vulture wrote:

Edicts: Recycle rot and waste into useful creations, eat the flesh of your own people, kill without mercy if it benefits your community, help to raise children

Anathema: Poison insects or scavengers, waste food or good materials, allow rot to poison an area, create undead
Dahak wrote:

Edicts: Kill metallic dragons, destroy things at your whim

Anathema: Spare a foe after you have chosen to kill them, forgive a slight
Gyronna wrote:

Edicts: Expose hypocrisy (real or imagined) in others, make other creatures miserable, demand bribes to spare creatures from your torments

Anathema: Allow others to slight you without retaliation, seek the approval of society, forgive those who have wronged you
Kitumu wrote:

Edicts: offer sacrifices to Kitumu, feed the hungers of nature with humanoid creatures

Anathema: step on a firefly, kill those marked by Kitumu
Ydersius wrote:

Edicts: seek to return Ydersius to life, fulfill your passions, conquer your foes with no mercy, achieve glory for serpentkind

Anathema: put the needs of others above those of serpentfolk, aid the spawn of Azlant
Hastur wrote:

Edicts: Spread Hastur’s Yellow Sign, hide the true nature of your worship, promulgate the play The King in Yellow

Anathema: None
Azathoth wrote:

Edicts: Gather a court of devotees, create discordant piping or babbling

Anathema: None
Lahkgya wrote:

Edicts Steal luxuries for yourself, destroy property for fun, demand bribes to spare creatures from your torments

Anathema Work honestly for something you could steal instead, kill a monkey

Just for fun, you can roll 1d100 by the following list:

d% for:
01: Azathoth
02: Hastur
03-04: Mahathallah
05-06: Ardad Lili
07-08: Nhimbaloth
09-10: Doloras
11-12: Eiseth
13: Shivaska
14-15: Zura
16-17: Pazuzu
18-19: Orcus
20-21: Dagon
22-28: Lamashtu
29-35: Norgorber
36-42: Urgathoa
43-49: Asmodeus
50-56: Zon-Kuthon
57-58: Baalzebul
59-60: Barbatos
61-62: Belial
63-64: Geryon
65-68: Gyronna
69: The Green Mother
70: The Lantern King
71-76: Naderi
77-82: Droskar
83-84: Charon
85-87: Kelizandri
88-90: Ymeri
90-93: Imot
94: Mother Vulture
95: Dahak
96: Kitumu
97-98: Ydersius
99: Lahkgya
100: Groetus

For the purposes of the exercise, don't worry too much about what goes into getting your official Unholy certification. Consider it more of a cosmic choice than an act of "practical" evil.

Assume characters are entering a party that is at least somewhat open-minded to clerics of ominous gods as long as the cleric themselves is well-behaved.

As in the rules, Anathemas are unavoidable, but Edicts are flexible. You can have a character who maybe just hasn't had the chance to struggle against an Anathema yet, though. You know, "Well, of course I'd free a slave if it came up, but I'm more focused on the contract stuff and I don't live in Cheliax. Frankly, I don't think Asmodeus really cares about that stuff, that sounds like something those Chelaxians tacked on."

In other words, future ex-clerics are fair game.

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I'm not sure what Unholy sanctification actually involves, aside from positioning yourself on the other end of a cosmic war. Unless it forces you to eat a live baby, I feel like it could be flavored as more a situation of, "Sure, I guess it positions me against the angels, but what have angels done for humans lately?" It's just too big for some mortals to really wrap their heads around as more than an abstract concept.

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Dark Oni wrote:
With the prophecy in mind, those dungeons might be Cayden's nightmares/the Starstone influence manifested

Ooh, wait, fringe theory set off by this: What if all these stories are nightmares of the deity who's actually about to die? A goddess of the night whose dreams are so powerful they manifest as false prophecies?

Man, family gatherings must be so awkward when Shelyn takes her girlfriends and Desna and Zon-Kuthon have to interact. Like, sure, Sarenrae and ZK don't get along, but Zon-Kuthon must be like Desna's super rude coworker who's constantly undermining her projects and eating her bagels.

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I think the problem with ZK is less that he's problematic (he is the evil BDSM god, but Calistria is literally called The Savored Sting) and more that he's a little closer to the R-rating than their core material is really aiming for nowadays. Like, the core material is marketed as pretty close to all-ages. Zon-Kuthon is a core deity, but it's pretty hard to create a non-disruptive cleric for him in a typical campaign.

You can minimize the slavery stuff for a cleric of Asmodeus, the sex stuff from a cleric of Calistria, the hedonism and cannibalism from a cleric of Urgathoa, or even the birthing imagery/monster-boinking from a cleric of Lamashtu, and they'll work okay-ish in a nonevil or prudish party. They can blend in. They can focus on other aspects and be mostly fine.

But if Zon-Kuthon isn't a god of BDSM, he's a god of self-harm and torture. There's not a lot left if you dial him back past that.

A skilled player can totally make a non-disruptive Zon-Kuthon PC. They can also do that for the Green Mother. There's a reason the Green Mother isn't emphasized a ton as a PC option. and the reason is COWARDICE

But seriously, Naderi's another great example. Great goddess, hard to play well. And for what it's worth, most evil gods are challenging to play clerics for in a typical party! But Zon-Kuthon might be the hardest aside from Rovagug. He's just flat-out not a great fit for even some evil-aligned parties. A cleric of Zon-Kuthon is bound to harm themselves, restricted from giving comfort to suffering allies. No other core god has a code that inherently yucky.

If he isn't dying, I think a pseudo-redemption like Nocticula's, or at least a gradual reframing like what's happening with Lamashtu's anathemas, may be at hand for good old ZK.

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Starfinder is a separate continuity, so it's not relevant here in terms of what's happening in Pathfinder. :)

Anyways, I feel like Rovagug wouldn't starve to death. The only way I can see him dying is by devouring himself. I genuinely don't say this kind of thing often--stories have infinite possibility--but I don't see any other explanation for him dying that wouldn't feel contrived or utterly change the tone of the setting. Like, sure, maybe the combined forces of Leng and the Dark Tapestry could take him (although I think I may doubt it), but what would that actually mean for the setting to have such an invasion take place?

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Sanityfaerie wrote:
Kobold Catgirl wrote:

So in answer to 'why'?

Because I am complete trash for a cute sapphic romance or twenty.

"You know, the Core 20 turned into an all-lesbian pantheon so gradually, I didn't even notice."

In the follow-up event to War of Immortals, Paizo starts dropping prophecies about which male god is going to start HRT. Everyone's so sure it's Cayden. It's actually all of them except Cayden.

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Nervously Self-Clarifying Tangent:
To be clear, I am very very much not trying to say that specifically Corvus is equating or conflating anyone or anything. I just mean to say that I haven't personally seen evidence of Arazni being aromantic or otherwise flat-out disinterested or interested, and while I think the interpretation is solid and compelling, and I love to see aromantic representation in stories, I don't think the backstory of her being mistreated and wanting her freedom necessarily means she has to be aromantic. So far, I feel like the evidence is entirely neutral.

Like I said, I have my own biases, and I am happy to cop to that! I like stories about the healing power of romantic love because I like romance stories period. There are other ways to heal, with or without romance and with or without love. I just like what I like.

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I think Torag's a solid bet. It makes sense for Torag's clergy to be doing soul-searching specifically as a part of the story of Torag's death and the aftermath. Imagine if Torag goes down fighting alongside orc gods against a new threat, like Rovagug rattling the cage. That requires buildup and a solid character arc.

Alternatively, imagine if ZK's death leads to the Star Towers being damaged somehow, leading the dwarven and orcish peoples to alliance against some terrible new threat associated with Rovagug.

I like both these theories a lot. I think Iomedae is neck-and-neck with Zon-Kuthon and Torag for "most likely". I was already hesitating a lot on Urgathoa due to her sheer uniqueness (she's the first undead and a great villain! You can't kill off the Original Ghoul!), and now that Paizo staff seem to be gently urging us away from treating Arazni like a direct 'replacement'? Yeah, I think those three.

EDIT: I also saw a great theory about Rovagug's death totally disintegrating the gods' nonaggression pact. Devil's advocate for that: Rovagug's death doesn't have to make the world "safer" if it wakes up his spawn, gets the gods squabbling with each other again, and leaves a god's foul rotting corpse at the center of the earth. There's, like, no way it's happening, but it is a cool theory.

CorvusMask wrote:
Also why are we assuming that Arazni is interested in romance?

First, handholding doesn't equal romance! I deliberately toned it down from kissing. But in answer to your question, I specifically stated what I wanted to happen, not what I think will happen. I don't know Arazni's romantic proclivities. I do feel like conflating "traumatized" with "aromantic" is unnecessary here. It's not problematic, it's a perfectly fine interpretation I support, it's just not mine.

So in answer to 'why'?

Because I am complete trash for a cute sapphic romance or twenty.

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I kind of worry that "Bury Your Gays" has become a little overused as a trope term. I don't think it applies if the death is narratively appropriate and the gay couples aren't being treated like they're expendable. The Prismatic Ray is the most prominent deific love story in the setting--even if they all died (which they won't, of course), that wouldn't be gay relationships being cast aside in favor of straight relationships, that would literally be love itself being destroyed, which is the very opposite of devaluing gay people. I literally can't think of a straight couple among the gods that could "take their place" the way it happens in movies.

Anyways, it's not Bury Your Gays if Arazni takes Desna's place. ;)

You're right, though, that Desna might be too pivotal to the setting. I'm not sure I agree, but she's definitely up there in terms of "thematic keystones". Like, she's the centerpiece of the first scene of the first installment of the first AP Paizo ever made.

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anyways what's important here is I think Arazni should get to hold hands with a goddess and possibly multiple

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Arazni and Iomedae are ultimately both kind of victims of Aroden, so I think it would be an impactful moment where anything could happen. Arazni is clearly going through some changes when she moves to Core, and starting to move past her trauma and let some people in (in a very guarded, careful way) could be among those changes!

Anyways, I agree that it's likely to be an impactful god! Gorum probably does go on the list, I just forgot him. I left Irori off the list because I think he could make a lot of sense for setting off the War of Immortals with his death. As the god of self-improvement who willed himself into being a god, him shattering himself to spread shards of immortality across the world to anyone who wishes to pursue perfection? That tracks. Yes, he's a little boring, but that might be all the more reason to write him off in a way that makes him retroactively interesting. He's not high on my list of maybe-deads, but he's on there.

Sarenrae, though? I absolutely agree her death would be powerful. I also kind of agree with a previous poster that I'm not sure Paizo would kill off the goddess linked to their iconic cleric. I'm not wedded to that, but I think I can bet on it with at least some comfort. I think other gods are more likely. She's probably more likely than Erastil and Gozreh, though.

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magnuskn wrote:
Stormlord506 wrote:
Just gonna throw my two cents out there, I think it's gonna be Iomedae. No reason to have two heralds of Aroden in the core 20.
Actually that should engender some rivalry between the two, which would be good narrative fuel.

Imagine the drama, though, of Iomedae dying in Arazni's arms and passing on her portfolio to her. Arazni is now forced into the role of the Successor, but Iomedae wants her to do what she couldn't, say what she wouldn't. The new Successor's active dislike for Aroden would reflect our own maturing understanding of the God of Humanity and perhaps give Iomedae a final bit of closure to her arc. She never wanted to be the Successor, and her loyalty to Aroden prevented her from realizing she was better at her job than he ever was.

In general, if it's not someone like Torag (and Torag dying alongside the orc gods while fighting against a mutual threat would be a great way to send him off), my strongest theory is that whoever dies, Arazni will be given/take a piece of their portfolio, as Desna did with Curchanus. Maybe it'll be Desna herself. Now there's a wrinkle for the Prismatic Ray.

A lot of gods could make sense, but the ones I think I'm comfortable saying are safe? In order, from "least safe" to "most safe", Erastil, Gozreh, Sarenrae, Abadar, Lamashtu, Calistria.

Maybe leaning so hard on Lamashtu and Calistria, two other Chaotic gods, is a dangerous bet. But alignment is going away, and on a dumb and purely meta I genuinely don't think Paizo would ever get rid of Calistria, the goddess of sex, in favor of Arazni, the patron of the abused. That just feels like a weird dichotomy, intended or no. It could work, but I don't think it'd be the right move. Lamashtu, meanwhile, just feels like too fantastic a villain to throw away.

EDIT: Sarenrae, Erastil, Gozreh, Gorum, Abadar, Lamashtu, Calistria. Calliope's right, Sarenrae's definitely more likely to die than Gozreh.

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Razmir, The TRUE LIVING GOD wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:
Razmir, The TRUE LIVING GOD wrote:

I am also safe.. FYI.


I can't wait for a level 20 jock Exemplar to shove Razmir in a locker.

razmir all "ugh, hardy-har-har, real mature, you guys"

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My Theories:
Zon-Kuthon fits really well for a swap with Arazni. Like, really well. On the other hand, Urgathoa would fit just as well if Paizo wants to take undeath in a new, more complicated direction with Arazni as their sole patron. As my sleeper picks, Norgorber (what happens to the world's secrets when the God of Secrets dies?), Cayden (here comes a new goddess of freedom, and she is scary) or Iomedae (imagine the heartbreak of Arazni, even more jaded towards Aroden than Iomedae, having to take the place of the Successor).

that said if we're betting on "most redundant" we all know it's torag

EDIT: Oh, a friend and I are also speculating on Irori pulling an YISUN and fracturing himself in an act of divine suicide, leading to the rising tides of Exemplars.

Desna would also be a very compelling swap. I don't want her to be, but she would be.

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This kicks ass. Also, good for Urgathoa. She's unliving her best unlife.

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KingTreyIII wrote:
Match the mythology
Side-eyes the wendigo

I think that dude needs to be just flat-out wendigone. He should go the way of Slenderman--make a new monster that plays with the same tropes that fascinate people, but call it something else and add some new ideas. Make an antlered "ancient ghoul" or a cannibalism fey spirit or the like.

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The mummy's Choking Pain ability is really cool! Like, I love it when monster attacks double as story moments. At the end of the day, all that matters is that I can use this in my Age of Worms campaign, so it's good design.

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I wonder what's going to happen to the troll augurs of Kaer Maga?

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FallenDabus wrote:
Temperans wrote:
Calliope5431 wrote:
Temperans wrote:
Wait what is the issue with the word golem?

Original first usage of the word was from Jewish mysticism, they were legendary constructs that could be created by inscribing words in Hebrew on their foreheads.

The most famous legend is the Golem of Prague from the 1500s, which was created by a rabbi to guard the Jewish people of the city from anti-Semitism. The golem goes mad on the Sabbath and eventually has to be shut down by the rabbi.

I can see an argument for it being problematic since it pulls from non-mainstream folklore. On the other hand, so do genies and kami, and they clearly aren't going away (and most people would argue they aren't problematic).

My Jewish friends like them because it's fun to see your culture represented in the game. For them, I get the impression that it's comparable to seeing Tian Xia if you have Asian ancestry, or Rusalkas if you have Slavic ancestry. Makes you feel more welcome. But I can see the counterarguments to the contrary, and I certainly don't want to argue with anyone Jewish who's offended by it.

*sigh* really that's it? That's why the name is changing? I don't even know what to say to that reason.

So, unfortuately I'm several months late and hopefully this doesn't derail, but I do have a more detailed answer for you. Give that it was recently confirmed the golem is becoming the bulwark, I think its topical too.

When ever the discussion of golems in RPGs comes up, I always think of this post. I know several Jewish RPG players very unconfortable with the use of the word, and even though I know many who are okay with it, Heavy Arms explains his issue very ellquoently. I've included it below the spoiler, so others can read it too and hopefully find it as helpful as I have. It is notable because he has no issue with golems existing in RPGs... he just wants them to actually be golems.

You can read the post I've quoted below in its original context...

Thank you for sharing it! Very compelling read.

I should also note that Paizo has indicated other "mythological/modern religion-based monsters", like genies and rakshasas, will be seeing changes to move them closer to their roots. Really exciting to see what we're getting! The homogenized pop culturey versions always felt like less than they could have been.

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Female Kobold

Oh, this is a silly little thing, but I'm going to be taking Sundays "off" from now on. It feels super weird to describe a game as "work", but PbPs actually stress me out more than work sometimes. They're worth it--most of the stress is entirely just from perfectionism--but if they're causing me that much fuss, they probably also need a formal day off.

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Whispering Cairn Maps (Current: Slide 14); 16th of Arodus, Time: 11:20 AM

Tirra gives Edrukk a small nod as she passes by, but doesn't accost him.


Kata's song echoes across the Emporium, and she can see it in people's eyes, that light that enters them, the way they start to move to the rhythm. There is power in her words beyond the power of any bardsong. People don't often play such songs in the Emporium, and rarely with such power, such personal feeling. Even Venelle stares in wonder, although she gets it under control quickly. When the song ends, there is thunderous applause. Zalamandra, appearing across the hall, claps delicately. Her restrained smile marks wariness, though who can say whether it is of the radical message or of being seen to applaud such a message in public?

Ilthane the Black, though, just smiles. Her smile sparkles in the moody light as she makes her way over, and once again the crowd quickly parts to make way for her. She barely seems to notice.

"You have a beautiful voice," she says. Her own voice has an easy melody to it, flowing from syllable to syllable without roughness or break. It's pleasant to listen to, but also a little unnerving, a little too casually perfect. "Should I be flattered to have graced it in such a charming little song?"

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Female Kobold

It's the end of the weekend, so gonna hit everyone with a prompt, but I know things are about to slow down as the holly-days approach.

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Whispering Cairn Maps (Current: Slide 14); 16th of Arodus, Time: 11:20 AM

Stories of the Age To Come persist in every faith, every culture, every tradition of art. People used to laugh. How, indeed, could any age but Aroden's Age of Glory be at hand? They aren't laughing now.

Now, the servants of a mysterious cult conspire beneath the earth to revive Aroden by merging three disparate gods. Their goals are mad, and their methods are an abomination. The strange death-eating green worm stolen from their sanctum speaks to some bizarre purpose. Amariss, High Priestess of Wee Jas, speculated that they might be meant as a tool of immortality, or some sort of anti-undead weapon, but all you have is guesswork. Certainly it's dangerous, but you need to learn more. The Ebon Triad is shrouded in secrecy.

Who is working with the apparently reluctant Balabar Smenk to house this cult?

The principled but callous Ragnolin Dourstone, a man whose rigid code of law and contempt for Smenk would see him climb into the gallows himself sooner than follow anything less than the letter of his law?

The widow Luzane Parrin, Smenk's bitter enemy, having been fighting Smenk tooth-and-nail for years since the mysterious death of her husband?

Gelch Tilgast, one of the city's oldest, most vicious mine managers and Smenk's long-time losing rival?

Chaum Gansworth, neutral opportunist and Parrin's cautious paramour?

Or Ellival Moonmeadow, the reclusive silver mine manager who sees Diamond Lake's politics as beneath him?

The party has made plans to investigate. But are they prepared to face the darkness that lurks beneath Diamond Lake?

And who, that pulled the moon to earth,
shall now claim their reward?
Our world is done
The war is won
by triumvirate black birds.

Chapter Two: The Three Faces of Evil

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The Gateway Grove, The Isle of Last Resort

I'm going to be pretty out of the swing of things for the next couple days, but I'll try to make at least a tiny bit of progress every day. Today it's listing Astraden's buffs on people.

all day: magic vestment, magic circle against evil (2), magic circle against law, find the path, antimagic field, wind walk
1.5 uneventful hours: bear's endurance (2), owl's wisdom, shield of faith (2), death ward, invisibility, protection from law, communal air walk (assuming 6 targets), communal resist energy (2)
30 minutes' travel or 1 encounter: blessing of fervor, prayer, and all the communal spells if you include everyone plus Clunk

Astraden will cast magic vestment on Clunk, magic circle against evil on herself, and find the path on Cuetzpalli to find the quickest route to the forest's center.

She plans to cast communal resist energy (sonic) and when the group is closer to the center, along with most of her support spells.

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Now I'm picturing the two Charons getting in a winner-takes-all ferry race to decide who gets the Styx, like Cool Runnings but with more eternal suffering.

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Whispering Cairn Maps (Current: Slide 14); 16th of Arodus, Time: 11:20 AM

Alais is unable to determine much, Old-Mage Jatembe's legacy being something of a blind spot for the scholarship of Kyonin elves.

However, as Edrukk and Broccan figure out the last piece of the puzzle, the final section of the box clicks into place. Six distinct shimmering cities are revealed, one on each surface of the cube. Well-crafted optical illusions cause them to almost appear to hover above the faces they are carved into.

And then one of them does. Or rather, it pops off in Edrukk's hand.

He broke it.

The box is open. Inside, Edrukk finds twenty nine-sided crystal prisms, a broken, rusting arrow, and a curious implement--a loop of jet-black metal.

Magical Inspections:
The box radiates faint magic. The loop radiates strong magic.

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This isn't meant to denigrate those who take part in them at all, but it's kind of wild when you see a summary of these arguments and they're over such... inconsequential things. People just don't understand how a TTRPG company works at all and they waste so much forum space and energy to advertise it to the rest of us.

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The Gateway Grove, The Isle of Last Resort

Tanith's feeling a little bearish about this party's prospects.

"Understood." She nods curtly. "I have a backup scroll of this spell, but it's best to be concise if we can. First, do you know of a woman named Celeste? Blonde, pierced lip, a little rough around the edges. She's in Alhaster looking for you. I don't know if I should trust her, or this 'Manzorian' who-knows-who she says she works for." She waves her hand derisively, briefly looking a little more the noblewoman and a little less the anxious bard.

Celeste is a disguised ghaele eladrin who helped the party infiltrate the Champion's Games. She works for Manzorian (Manzorian being the pseudonym of the archmage Tenser who faked his death, Allustan's old mentor and the party's primary patron) as a field agent.

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Sounds like the trees ghorans may have evolved alongside!

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The Gateway Grove, The Isle of Last Resort

"They are properly called yugoloths," Clunk says disdainfully. "'Daemon' is a modern expression. It will not linger, I am certain."

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I wonder if giants are going to go sort of the way of hags--connected more to their myth and fairy tale roots. Certainly I would be surprised if hill giants stick around in their current state, considering they've always basically just been "dire ogres". I feel like, on a weirder note, frost giants and titans might be merged--after all, mythological frost giants are defined by being the counter to the gods, making them so similar to titans you almost might as well just combine them to differentiate your take more from D&D's.

I think it'd be cool if giants were moved more towards fey, as a mix of big brutes, goose-owning cloud aristocrats, and tricksters and shapeshifters. I have no idea, though! They'll want to stay Golarion-accurate, and giants are kind of a big deal in Rise of the Runelords.

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Ugh, that's absolutely the worst, Cindy. I'm glad you have a solid network to support you! Shame on them for choosing not to be a part of it--they're missing out.

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keftiu wrote:
I might suggest establishing any kind of presence and rapport with this community, game, and setting before leaping to the hiring process.

I do wonder what the future holds for Pathfinder prose writers. Obviously, plenty of us would love options to publish our fanfiction without first filing off the serial numbers. Not that I've ever done anything of the sort, of course! ;)

I don't really expect anything to happen, though, and I'm mostly just excited to see a new Pathfinder novel coming out. "Pathfinder Infinite but for novels" seems like it would be a much bigger hassle.

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Whispering Cairn Maps (Current: Slide 14); 16th of Arodus, Time: 11:20 AM

Everyone can see the gallery art, to be clear. It's some sort of mechanical marvel. Of course, if you're not nearby, asking Alais still makes sense, especially for the second one.

Alais moves to the next gallery, which likewise comes to life.

This image depicts a pitched battle between two groups of humans--one great army clad in metal armor, wielding swords and spears and riding towering warhorses, the other wearing colorful robes and dyed furs, brandishing staves and hurling beams of many-colored light to destroy their attackers. Several men and women on the second side wear animal masks, and these are etched with special prominence, most notably a tall man in a heron mask who wields a strange obsidian ring. As an armored knight charges for him, a pitch black sphere flies at the behest of a handsome unmasked man wielding a talisman, and the knight instantly vanishes when the sphere touches him. The talisman-wielder is identical to the figure on the sarcophagus downstairs.

At first, the battle appears to be close-fought. Then a vast shadow passes overhead. The cavaliers seem to shrink in fear as the magicians cheer.

Having found no signs of a trap, Kata steps onto the bridge. As her boot lands on the dusty stone, her ears pop.

The dust billows and swirls around her like a little whirlwind. A breeze billows from the pillar, rustling people's hair and making Seeker flap quickly to recover balance.

Shapes begin to emerge within the pillar of winds. At first, they're just abstract patterns, but they find more and more solidity as the seconds go by.

Your ears start ringing painfully, like an intense form of tinnitus. It feels like a warning.

You hear whispers amid the wind. Three soft, sibilant voices.

"Thieves and marauders. By my name Glory, I shall slay them."

"Vultures and trespassers. By my name Shame, I shall punish them."

"Questants and roustabouts. By my name Memory, I shall test them."

The party has a round to react before more happens.

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Oh, Jonathan, I didn't mean to suggest you wouldn't still be moderating! Just that getting one or two extra people whose main or sole job is moderation could be nice. All these forums are a lot for one Morgantini to handle! Even a Morgangargantuan would probably have a tough time handling it alone.

I definitely don't want to relitigate the Moderation Discourse or anything. I just think it'd be swell to see the forums with another couple hands on deck. The impression I always got was that the old forum team benefited a lot from having multiple moderators to lean on and compare notes with.

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I'm very excited about most of this, and especially hope that a new platform means the forums might finally get an actual dedicated moderator job or two. We can dream.

I am a little worried that the forums will lose the quirkiness that makes them fun, but I can't see aliases going anywhere, and those and the lack of custom avatars are probably the biggest eccentricities. I can't think of any others off the smurf of my head.

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Do you think content warnings with page numbers at the start of the book are too high-effort? :P

Literally, people, I love this community, but read the OP. I tried to include a variety of solutions, and not all of them are actually very extreme at all.

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you had to remind me those frogs existed

I came back in today to find 60 new posts, the latest one being moderation. Oof. Not backlogging that. I guess I'll try to acknowledge some of the highlights I get from skimming, though:

1. I actually have a much more serious revulsion than my arachnophobia. The scraping of charcoal is extremely painful to me, and even seeing it in use, or being reminded of its use, can make me anxious and nauseated. I didn't mention it because it's not a very common phobia, nor is it often triggered by Pathfinder. Arachnophobia is among the top three most common phobias in the world (and a lot easier to trigger in art than, say, acrophobia), and yet spiders are among the most ubiquitous monsters to face in fantasy RPGs. That's a lot more worth talking about to me. So that's why "if we address fear of spiders, don't we also have to address people who are afraid of frying pans?" feels to me like a bad-faith argument.

EDIT: "Who decides what should be warned?" I dunno, maybe start with the top ten most common triggers and work from there? There's a reason we include epilepsy warnings on movies nowadays--it's a prominent and highly debilitating trigger that is easy to give a warning for if you care to do so. This isn't a really serious criticism. Obviously some phobias and traumas just aren't very common.

2. I never called for the removal of spiders (except from my house, constantly), though I do think that deemphasizing their art in favor of art of other creatures could be a good change to move towards. For example, in Kingmaker there are quite a few meals you can cook. The spider's legs weren't more important to depict in art than the other recipes, so choosing to commission art of them in particular was an unnecessarily (and likely unintentionally) hostile editing choice.

3. I brainstormed a bunch of potential solutions to the problem. Some don't work, but some could, and I think focusing on the ones that could work, and offering feedback on them, might be a tidge more constructive here than reading one or two, deciding they wouldn't work, and dismissing the problem as unsolvable (or reading none of them, as it seems some people here did). James Jacobs seemed to agree, for example, that downscaling the focus on spider art could potentially work sometime in the future, albeit not anytime soon. There's no reason content warnings wouldn't work, either.

4. Just as wheelchair users can ask someone to lift them up the steps, but might still prefer access to a ramp, many people with phobias would rather just be able to open a PDF and not have to worry so much about being jumpscared without warning. Personal solutions can be useful, but they don't address the broader accessibility issue. We all know about the Archives of Nethys, or that you can print out a PDF and ask a friend to tape over the images.

To be blunt, it's a little funny to be offered these personal "solutions" as if I'd never thought of them before. I've kind of had to, in order to take part in this hobby. I just thought I'd get people talking about ways to make it easier on us! :P

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Oof, that makes a lot of sense. Turns out problems are complicated.

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James Jacobs wrote:

We absolutely could not account for every phobia, but we could account for the more "common" ones. Of which there are still a lot. It'd make things more complicated for us to produce, but it might be worth it. Again... it's something that I'd not considered but am grateful for the topic being raised. We'll chat about it at Paizo.

From the department of expectation management: I don't know that we'll be able to do much at all about this, but step one is talking about it. And that's underway.

That's genuinely all I wanted, so thank you! It's an issue I know can be difficult to address (I feel like an artless PDF might also feel frustrating to some artists whose work goes ignored), but I wanted to sort of prompt people to consider it as a problem, rather than an ordinary inevitability. Spiders are, for good reason, super popular in games and fantasy stories, in part because they scare so many of us. That feels like a good "default setting" to interrogate.

For what it's worth, a "plaintext" option for adventure downloads (like, .txt) could be kind of cool, and presumably a bit easier to implement. It would also make it easier for GMs who like tweaking adventures or taking notes as they go, GMs who need to copy big descriptive text for play-by-posts or add stuff to statblocks, and, of course, GMs with weak computers.

James Jacobs wrote:

In particular, though, and as far as arachnophobia goes... "Season of Ghosts" is an Adventure Path you'll perhaps have to avoid, alas, since there's a lot of spider content in there—it's a land ruled by jorogumo, after all, but also we're including some non-hostile, spider ally stuff in there as well. Sort of akin to what we've done with anadi and Grandmother Spider in other books, I guess. But as far as phobias go, a "friendly spider" is no different than a "mean spider."

The funny thing is, I adore spider content. I'm so excited for jorogumo. Phase spiders, aranea and ettercaps were among my favorite D&D monsters. The pictures are just rough! So I still want to play SoG; I'll just need to read very carefully.

Captain Morgan wrote:
I think APs are pretty comprehensive with their content warnings, currently. KCG, would you still want to read an run an AP with giant spider monsters in it if you didn't have to see the art? Serious question.

100%. Like, I like spiders enough that I'll write content about them as long as I don't have to look at the pictures too much. I can suffer through an AP's spider stuff, I'd just love the option to not feel super uncomfortable the whole way through.

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Using the AON doesn't help for Pathfinder APs, which are, conveniently, the easiest publications to experiment with like this, since new APs get printed every year. Like I said, my GM is literally struggling to get through the material she has to read due to a hyper-realistic spider picture sprawling across the page.

Also, I appreciate your observations, but all spidery things aren't in the same group--driders, web lurkers and ether spiders, for example, are sorted separately to my knowledge. I wouldn't expect them to be sorted together, either.

I listed several options for books other than mandating text-only, actually! In fact, ideas #1, #2, and #5 (#3, sir!) all work universally across mediums.

EDIT: I should also say that if the answer to "many people can't use the books or PDFs" is "then they should use the AON", that's not a bad practical answer, but it does suggest that Paizo has an accessibility issue. Like, what if people with phobias like the beautifully-edited books better? I like Pathfinder's art.

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Hi there! Before I get started, I want to be clear: I love Pathfinder's art, including a lot of really creepy stuff. I also definitely don't think it shouldn't exist--artists who like drawing spiders, deep sea monsters, gore and body horror obviously deserve work, and GMs deserve visualizations. At the same time, something that has been bothering me a lot lately is how ubiquitous it is, how hard it is to avoid, and how difficult it can be to see it coming.

I'm very afraid of spiders. From an early age, I learned to page carefully through new Monster Manuals, paranoid and skittish. I still feel nervous on the Bestiary's silver dragon page specifically because, as a kid, I always had to remember to flip two pages ahead. Pathfinder's spider art is inescapable, and it is realistic. The ogre spider is petrifying to me. The problem is, this art isn't just scary to me. It's art I mostly just don't get to enjoy at all, which sucks for both me and the artist whose work goes unappreciated. I can't look at the ogre spider. I can't look at the drider. I just hurriedly flip to the next page, put a piece of paper over the image, or, on AON, use an adblocker to hide the image for me so I can read in peace.

It's not just me, too. My girlfriend is much, much more afraid of spiders than me, and she as a GM straight-up can't access parts of the first Kingmaker book without exposing herself to art that makes her panic. The art isn't placed where she can simply zoom in and avoid it. It's right in the middle of the text.

My focus is on spider art here, but other common phobias, like trypophobia and thalassophobia, are relevant, too. Honestly, though, sometimes it feels like spider images in particular are leaned on for cheap PG scare value--"we can't do skin couches anymore, but nobody's going to give us an R rating if we put a giant realistic-looking spider on every other page."

Possible solutions:
1. Just commission art for different game elements when possible. There's no reason we needed art of the spiderlegs meal when many other meals were available to draw. It's okay to reduce the artists' focus on spider content for a lot of stuff. I'm not saying "no more spiders", but maybe keep in mind that the more common phobia art you put in, the more people are going to have trouble enjoying your books!

2. Include warnings. Page numbers at the start of the book would be nice, though I think you could go a tidge further and put some sort of marker on the edge of a page that precedes potentially upsetting art. This might be hard to get used to, but would make a serious difference.

3. Stop making the art so hard to avoid. Put it on splash pages, or block it off more carefully. Offer imageless PDFs, or even PDFs that remove specific triggers, like a "spiderless" PDF, a "kid-friendly" PDF that removes gore, etc.

4. I have no idea what the limits of the PDF file type are, aside from "significant and cumbersome". If there's any way to spoiler images, gosh, that'd sure be nice, but I never bet on .pdf having the bare minimum of utility. ;)

5. Embrace cartoony styles more, especially for scary art. This is half-serious, but I do think that varying your art style can be a great way to make the world feel more wild and collaborative, show other ways to play your game (some people play gritty, some people play Nodwick-style "bloodless battles"), and expand your options.

I understand a lot of these changes would be a lot of trouble to initially implement. The fact that I'm still asking will hopefully impress upon people that this is important to me and those I know. This is an entirely fixable problem, but first we need to admit it's an accessibility issue. A picture of spider art that scares readers off the page isn't a feature. It's a bug.

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By the way, for anyone curious, trans people often (but not always) prefer to avoid linking the words "trans woman" and "trans man" together into singular words. It's generally best as an ally to default to writing them as two words. "Transwoman" and "transman" have a connotation of defining the person's womanhood or manhood by being trans, as opposed to a trans woman just being, say, a woman who happens to be trans. It's sort of seen as similar to calling a short man a "shortman". It makes the adjective feel intrinsic to the man being a man in a way it shouldn't be.

Anyways, this is absolutely not meant as a "correction" for anyone here. I'm pretty comfortable assuming the blogs' writers and my fellow posters are fully aware of the whole issue and made informed choices. Plenty of trans people do choose to link the words for convenience, deliberate gender expression, or other reasons. I do so myself, sometimes. I share this mainly for the benefit of hypothetical readers who might find it interesting or useful, because I do see the issue causing strife and misunderstandings from time to time. :)

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Aw, gosh, this story is so sweet.

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I really love that one paladin lady who goes around helping trans youths find their way, but I don't remember her name, just that she's an Isabelle Thorn creation!

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