I mean, I ain't throwing my PDFs anywhere.
Caleb Garofalo wrote:
If there was a substantially large backlash, maybe they would, but that hasn't happened, so it probably won't. I don't think it's reasonable to expect a slippery slope.
Me, I'm just gonna be miffed that there is apparently now less daemon harbinger content, which were already woefully underrepresented among the powerful evil outsiders despite being the most interesting (to me, anyway).
I do think a better content disclaimer might have been a good idea. Folca's one thing, but the other fiendish divinities brought up in Book of the Damned cover themes like genocide (Szuriel), suicide (Sifkesh), self-harm (Abraxas, Osolmyr), torture and mutilation (Andirifku), and rape (Socothbenoth, Zepar). I'm not bringing these up for a study in whataboutism. If Folca is triggering to people who have certain backgrounds, I can bet that some of these other ones might hit close to home with certain gamers a lot more than the usual human sacrifice baddies.
But shouldn't GMs and their players be the ones who ultimately make the decision what is and isn't okay at their tables? Tabletop RPGs allow for a number of very disturbing things, and Pathfinder isn't an exception to that.
You contended earlier in this thread that you don't need rules for NPCs, but many GMs do rely on rules. Malefactor pointed to his own GM preferences wherein he prefers to hold NPCs to the same standards as PCs for the purposes of abilities. Plenty of GMs don't do that, sure... but plenty of other GMs do. Some GMs don't like coming up with their own rules options, which is why rules material like this gets published.
I think there is a bit of a difference between the material existing in a rulebook that may or may not be used in a given game, and a GM suddenly springing something on the players. How big a difference that is may be a matter of debate and perspective, but I think the distinction does exist.
If I were to put forward a change suggestion, I think it'd make sense to change Fiendish Obedience itself. Make it so that evil alignment is a prerequisite for the feat in the first place. That eliminates the hypothetical "neutral-aligned child abuser" situation.
I'll thank Mortonator and Dudemeister for not being as hyperbolic as the OP. Sure, I'm open to hearing an argument as to whether or not the subject matter is "too much" for the game. Less open to declaring Paizo the "child abuse company" or comparisons to FATAL.
I find it's just difficult for me to really take the "incentivizing child abuse" thing particularly seriously, because... well, Daemon Harbinger boons are kind of lame. I don't know about everyone else's game groups, but I've found that it's fairly uncommon that you'll even be doing a campaign that allows for evil characters such as fiend-worshippers, and even if you are looking to do a fiend-worshipper there are dozens of other options. I mean, a small bonus on checks and three spell-like abilities. Woo. Meanwhile Charon has you summoning his horse to age people, Shax gives you a wing of his house, and Areshkagal makes you into a bling warrior. If like only one in five or six or ten of your games will even allow those kinds of options... how many players are actually going to be incentivized? Hell, I'm still waiting on a chance to play a Red Mantis Assassin (I've got like three different character concepts there).
I'm honestly far more open to arguments about trivialization and exploitation for cheap horror value. But I can't help but be reminded of, yes, the 1980s panic with Patricia Pulling and BADD. Or with a think piece I saw about the Rocky Horror Picture Show complaining about Frank-n-Furter being a sexual assaulter...
So I binged it. It was fun, but boy does it have problems. Great animation and action and some really good moments, but boy are there problems. Pacing and tonal issues are the primary ones. Trevor Belmont's dialogue is... bizarrely anachronistic. The amount of f-bombs and edgelord gore are kind of silly.
Also the one-dimensionally evil church. The opening of "the evil church burns the woman at the stake because they think science is witchcraft" is so unbelievably stupid I actually had to stop watching for a bit. Conflict thesis isn't supported by actual history, people. The fifteenth century church was actually doing pretty neat stuff in architecture and engineering. Flying buttresses and all that. Then the flashy intro revealed that the executive producer was Warren Ellis and I went "ohhhh that explains so much..."
Having a message about the dangers of superstition is certainly good, but it's less effective when you make a caricature of history. Also doesn't really mesh with a franchise that's about fighting vampires.
Tho as a counterpoint to the "just making more fiends" argument, though, it has been indicated in setting that the circumstances of death can actually affect the soul's destination. For example, Corosbel's intentions for Hanspur and Moloch's bestiary entry. Something similar may be implied in the Dammerich entry in CotR. I'd never thought of that.
That's actually a very interesting thing actually. I'll need to think about that...
Still a bit dodgy that it's still kind of a pro death penalty thing (seriously, ask me about Arkansas) but that's a very neat spin on it that I think makes me appreciate it a bit more. So I'm gonna amend from "flat out worst empyreal lord" to "interesting but with some pretty awful political baggage/implications."
Arshea, Ghenshau, and Lymneris are all probably among most interesting for me, personally. I also like Korada.
Really don't like Dammerich. I find it interesting how the books frame Ragathiel as like a borderline outcast who's walking a thin and uncertain line, yadda yadda yadda, but Dammerich's fine and other empyreal lords are totally fine with him. Ragathiel's got a super extreme obedience, but Dammerich doesn't. That just strikes me as weird, even aside from the whole "state sanctioned murder is Good!" mess.
So, for my online group I'm running Strange Aeons. One person who was interested had been toying around with the idea of a paladin of Damerrich. Couple other folks in the group are all "ooh, what's that?" and they find out and decide they'll make inquisitors. I allow it, of course, tho my dislike of the Empyreal lord is somewhat clear. Guy who was considering paladin changed his mind 'cause it's not fun if erryone does it. Fast forward to rebooting the campaign post-mythweavers crash, and they seem to be sticking with it. In addition to a third person who seems to be considering it 'cause he likes teasing I guess (he's also considering Torag 'cause he seems to be under the impression that I have a similar hang-up).
Ooh, love me some Empyreal Lord stuffs.
Well, rangers are an obvious choice. Waterways for favored terrain, archery combat style. Lot of bow-oriented builds are appropriate, like the divine marksman. That she's a NG figure makes her appropriate for druids and hunters as well. Sea Druid if I'm remembering stuff from Ultimate Magic right. Sea Singer bard is another good choice.
As far as other options go, I imagine a lot of transmutation spells (a little obvious for an agathion) and especially flight-granting abilities. Also stuff to guard against enchantments (as part of the Pazuzu thing. Gotta keep away from that corrupting influence).
Oh, and also... Tengu!
Ah, here we are: page 293 of Bestiary 4. "All empyreal lords are good outsiders that are, at a minimum, CR 21." I'd be very surprised if Ragathiel turned out to be lower than 26, though. Just, y'know, throwing it out there.
Also, it's true that the "lesser" list in Chronicle of the Righteous doesn't designate that they're weaker. Cernunnos is on that list and he turned out to be CR 30.
Zyphus I didn't like at first 'cause he just looked like he was all whiny and emo, but then I realized that there's actually some humor to that. A big cosmic fly that's raging at a bigger deity that probably barely even notices him.
Also his cult lends itself to some neat ideas for campaigns. Like I could imagine some sort of Final Destination meets Scream kind of scenario.
Damerrich is detailed in Chronicle of the Righteous. I... don't really see that quite working out for a few reasons. The short version is that the Gray Gardeners are bad. Even aside from the fact that their executions are indiscriminate (remember, Damerrich is all about 'just' and LAWFUL executions, whereas the Gray Gardeners don't care if you're guilty or innocent), the Gray Gardeners are in the business of trapping souls, which according to James Jacobs is "one step away from the kind of evil that creates undead."
We don't know a whole lot about the Gardeners, but the two sample statblocks we do have (from Inner Sea NPC Codex and Strange Aeons) are both inquisitors of Norgorber. So in order for this to work, the paladin would need to be deep undercover (which isn't very paladin-like unless we're talking a gray paladin) and he needs to get along with very pointedly evil-aligned folks.
It could be interesting, and I might just be biased on account of me not liking Damerrich very much, but I strain to see how it would work. Generally I think Damerrich's cultists view the Gardeners as a scourge. I could see an inquisitor of Damerrich trying to infiltrate and dismantle them, but as far as a paladin goes I... don't really see it.
Actually, I'm finding that some of these options could be good for a pacifist character. The Stargazer and Runeguard aren't focused on offensive combat at all and can have a lot of utility use. And the Devoted Muse could also be good for a Technical Pacifist-style character, if you're focusing on feinting to disengage (Stage Combatant or Golden Legion's Stayed Blade would of course also be useful).
Eric Hinkle wrote:
They are fairly similar to bards in that regard. When I think about my "pacifist character" ideas, Mesmerist is one of the classes that comes to mind the easiest.
Mainly I think it has to do with concepts; bards do mind-altering and emotion-affecting magic, but their stuff is framed more as inspiring people, while Mesmerists are always framed as being manipulative. Even their party buffs are presented as being tricking their allies.
I'll be keeping an eye out for how the handle the Lantern Bearers. I remember reading the Faction Guide and going "Good-aligned and also genocide. Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh."
But I dunno. That's kind of one of those weird things that gets implied in a lot of fantasy fiction. I've annoyed one of my GMs by being too "real-world ethics."
You know, I can't put my finger on it, but something seems to rub me the wrong way about this. I dunno. Maybe I don't like reprints of stuff or something that makes me concerned that previous content will become obsolete. Maybe I'm wondering if the Blackfire Adepts are one of the factions and still not over a bad campaign experience...
Chalk me up for another one of the Second Darkness people. It'd make it neat for a group to all be able to do RotR, CotCT, SD, and Shattered Star under the same ruleset, as well as update some of the setting stuff to match the more current Pathfinder things. Could have an updated overview on the Drow settlements in the Darklands and such. I also just generally love Darklands and Drow-related stuff, so...
The first two parts reference:
All five bestiaries.
You don't *need* to have all of them (like, the places where it references the NPC Codex and Lost Treasures are pretty much only in passing and don't impact anything) but if you're really just starting to GM, I'd recommend something else. Like maybe Gallows of Madness (which, with the exception of a single enemy that's reprinted anyway, is pretty much Core only).
I'm actually gearing up to do a Galt campaign, myself. I'm gonna copy what I put down in terms of themes that I'm using. Your GM might be doing something different, but here's what I have:
Galt is a dangerous place, full of suspicion and paranoia. Its most effective people are the ones who can win over the mobs or who can work under the cover of anonymity. Masked Personas can be particularly useful, both for classes that have the Dual Identity feature (such as the Vigilante), but any character can don a disguise.
You’ll require more than just anonymity to survive in Galt, however. You may need to make friends (or enemies) with the right people.
Some classes and archetypes worth considering include the vigilante and its many archetypes, as well as the bard (Masked Performer, Demagogue, and Provocateur may be particularly fitting). Inquisitors, rogues, and investigators also make for good intrigue-themed classes.
Prestige classes fitting the themes of intrigue include the Assassin, Red Mantis Assassin, Dawnflower Dissident, Master Spy, Enchanting Courtesan, Lion Blade; even the Gray Gardener itself.
Natives and Outsiders
When making your character, consider whether they’re a native to the region or someone from outside, and what their goal is. Galtans are distrustful of outsiders, but not without some reason. Spies from Cheliax, Andoran, Taldor, and Razmiran all have their eyes on the unstable region. In addition to the international intrigue, others come, either as assassins (the Red Mantis in particular despises Galt for what they deem as blasphemy in their rejection of the divine right of kings), treasure hunters (for many of the old abandoned noble villas still may hold hordes of riches), or for other purposes, such as retrieving the soul of a loved one from one of the Final Blades.
So consider your character. Are they part of the mob? An aspiring member of the Gray Gardeners? An orphan who’d like revenge? A counter-revolutionary?
And if you’re from outside Galt, what are you there for? Are you a spy working with the Twilight Talons? A member of the Pathfinder Society on your way to Woodsedge? Or maybe just an opportunistic treasure-hunter.
Galt is a violent place, and it has been constantly violent for its forty-year revolution. This takes a toll on its populace. Many of the people seem content, as long as they have a target they can be angry at have their bloodlust sated by the near-constant executions. Others would love nothing more than to see the violence and endless executions stop. Still others would have their own revolution with which to replace First Citizen Goss’s regime; hopefully for the last time.
If there’s anything that’s more constant than the Gray Gardeners, it’s the angry mobs. Mobs can be both dangerous enemies as well as powerful tools, if you know how to use them. This campaign will be using stuff from Ultimate Intrigue, such as verbal duels. Mobs also count as audiences for Performance Combat.
Obviously, a lot of this is gonna depend on who your GM is. Most GMs might not give you a lot of wiggle-room with regards to playing pacifist characters (if your GM is accomodating, though, there are lots of neat class options and feats for it), aaaaand your GM probably isn't going to have the "mobs = performance combat" element, but I love the performance combat rules, so I'm throwing it in there, too.