Sins, Virtues and metagaming.


Rise of the Runelords

Sovereign Court

After The Skinsaw Murders my players have comfortably worked out the basics of sin magic. It's inevitable at this point in the adventure path: wrathful souls, greedy souls and a seven pointed star? Aha! There must be five more types of souls, natch. It was a quick deductive scene between the dilettante ranger and the busybody sorceress.

I'm curious though, as a metagaming concern, from where do the modern residents of Varisia gain a concept of the seven deadly sins? How would they know what the missing sins were?

The concept's popularity due to the Catholic Church (and Catholic writers), but in Golarion who carries the torch of this philosophy? How was it passed down? Is it metagaming to assume the concept is as familiar in Golarion as it is in the real world? Is it more common among native Varisians? Shoanti? Academia?

Additionally, one of the PCs knows Thassilonian (it was an available language in the Player's Guide, which I regret). Wouldn't the story of Thassilon effectively be played out in their language? It's pictographic and their magical/political philosophy is anchored in writing. How do you keep Thassilon cryptic for someone who speaks Thassilonian?

I’m curious because it’s crucial to the flow of the mystery yet it seems so inherently meta.

How do you explain it in your own campaigns?

Thanks!


Selk wrote:

After The Skinsaw Murders my players have comfortably worked out the basics of sin magic. It's inevitable at this point in the adventure path: wrathful souls, greedy souls and a seven pointed star? Aha! There must be five more types of souls, natch. It was a quick deductive scene between the dilettante ranger and the busybody sorceress.

I'm curious though, as a metagaming concern, from where do the modern residents of Varisia gain a concept of the seven deadly sins? How would they know what the missing sins were?

The concept's popularity due to the Catholic Church (and Catholic writers), but in Golarion who carries the torch of this philosophy? How was it passed down? Is it metagaming to assume the concept is as familiar in Golarion as it is in the real world? Is it more common among native Varisians? Shoanti? Academia?

Additionally, one of the PCs knows Thassilonian (it was an available language in the Player's Guide, which I regret). Wouldn't the story of Thassilon effectively be played out in their language? It's pictographic and their magical/political philosophy is anchored in writing. How do you keep Thassilon cryptic for someone who speaks Thassilonian?

I’m curious because it’s crucial to the flow of the mystery yet it seems so inherently meta.

How do you explain it in your own campaigns?

Thanks!

Never had to. My players don't ask many questions or go over information too thoroughly (which can make DMing a little difficult).

I would guess, that knowledge of the Sins would be mostly limited to Acadamecians who study the Thassilonian empire and that knowledg would be relatively small in scope. They would probably have very patchy information regarding what the sins are and what they were used for, with different scholars having different theories (i.e. some scholars might call guilt or sorrow or some other emotion a sin instead of one of the traditional ones).
Alternatively, perhaps the church Saranae uses a slightly toned downed version of the sins, pursuing the concept somewhat less fervently that the real world Christian church did. Perhaps they would be something mentioned in a few holy texts and the occassional sermon by a well educated priest. There might be something in the Paladin's Code about them, so maybe it would be knowledge held particularly by the paladins of a few different faiths.
My two coppers.

Sovereign Court

For my campaign the seven deadly sins are a recurring motif in folklore; this folklore being the evolution of stories from Thassilon.

A lot of people can still tell you the 12 labours of Heracles (and even more can tell you that they exist, but not what they are) even though the Olympic religion died out a long time ago.

Scarab Sages

Selk wrote:
Additionally, one of the PCs knows Thassilonian (it was an available language in the Player's Guide, which I regret). Wouldn't the story of Thassilon effectively be played out in their language? It's pictographic and their magical/political philosophy is anchored in writing. How do you keep Thassilon cryptic for someone who speaks Thassilonian?

I also have one PC who knows the Thassilonian language and who put points in knowledge of Thassilon. I find this very useful to have her at some times. Here's how I went about to make sure it doesn't ruin the game for anybody:

First, I made a shortened version of the Thassilon article of PF1, and gave it to her. It was about one page long when I finished to shop off anything that could relate to the plot of the AP.

Then when she discussed those choices with me, I told her that Thassilonian was at best legends and old tales that are mostly used nowadays to teach lessons to youngsters through parabolitic (is that a word?) meaning. That was to mean that she could expect to be laughed at or ignored if she was to talk about Thassilon to others (something like what happened to Brodert in Sandpoint).

As for language, I decided that her studies of the language was made through observation of Thassilonian documents and very poor translations and notes that were made of those documents by other scholars who spent their lives trying to make some sense of the runes. So I decided that she could recognize a couple runes here and there, and make some general meaning of common groups of runes, but that she could not fully understand it. I took the example described in the spherical room in part 3 of PF1 as a guidline to general meaning vs exact understanding.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Selk wrote:
I'm curious though, as a metagaming concern, from where do the modern residents of Varisia gain a concept of the seven deadly sins? How would they know what the missing sins were?

The concept of the seven mortal sins is perpetuated in Golarion via Varisian tradition.

Spoiler:
The Varisians themselves were the artist/craftsman caste in ancient Thassilon. They saw their seven rulers embody the seven virtues of rule and turn them into bad things. After Thassilon, the Varisians reverted back to their nomadic ways, and they preserved the knowledge of these seven deadly sins via oral tradition. When Rise of the Runelords begins, the runelords themselves are obscure and known only to scholars of history, really. Everyone else remembers them only as the seven deadly sins; the sins themselves have replaced the runelords in popular Varisian folklore.

As for knowing Thassilonian... no; being able to read Thassilonian only means you can read the language. It doesn't mean that you know all about the empire's history, in the same way that learning to read Latin or Sanskrit or Egyptian Hieroglyphics doesn't automatically mean that you know all about those societies. It makes it EASIER to learn about them, sure, but that knowledge doesn't come parceled with the language.

Making things more difficult for Thassilonain scholars is the fact that most of the writing that remains is NOT descriptive of the empire. It's mostly learned from carvings on monuments (at least, until

Spoiler:
the PCs discover the library in Pathfinder #4
happens. The writing on these monuments is mostly poems, fragmentary, bits of already-known lore about the world or magic, or the like.

Among those who can read Thassilonian and who have studied the empire, they certainly know that Thassilon was an ancient empire, one ruled by powerful wizards, and that they built monuments, and that their society was linked to the seven virtues of rule (the smarter among these scholars have, of course, tied these seven virtues to the seven Varisian sins). The Varisians and Shoanti were pretty diligent about destroying records of proper names and the empire itself where they existed, making the process of piecing things back together a tough one indeed.

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