Why are PCs forced to side with the Devil in every Adventure Path?


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion

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Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

anthony Valente wrote:
If it's as good as it sounds, this might be the first AP I purchase :) What great themes!

With the benefit of some inside information, I can tell you that it's good enough that it is the first AP I'm running in my home game.

Spoiler:
Though, in fairness, I might have run Legacy of Fire if I hadn't just finished an Arabian campaign. Anyway, at the time LoF was coming out I was still trying out a subarctic 4th Ed campaign and seeing how I liked the system. It was okay, but I ended up ending the campaign around 8th-9th level after about 7 months or so. After a break I waited for PF to come out and got a new campaign started, and by that time I was looking forward to Kingmaker already just on principle, and as I was starting work on #5. Maybe I'll get back to LoF one of these days.

Liberty's Edge

Mark Chance wrote:
Hugo Solis wrote:
Good is quite defined by morality, and I always try to NOT use our current worldwide morality where killing is simple NOT GOOD, no matter the point of view....

If you think that's the "current worldwide morality" then I humbly submit you were not paying attention to the 20th century.

no, he is in Mexico, here people is mostly catholic, killing IS NOT GOOD, it doesn't matter what for...

but damned it has become so f&%$ing common that before we grew horrorized to learn in the news of an execution... we know are accostumed to ehar about 3 or 5 per week .. or day :(


Jason Nelson wrote:
That said, this AP represents a thoroughgoing effort to create an adventure scenario that is sandboxy in all the good ways. There IS an overall narrative in the background, but it's not on a fast timer, as it is mostly keyed to respond to the progress that the PCs make. In the course of time, they will create their own allies and enemies through their actions and choices.

IMO, these make the best published adventures. Again, I point to Masks of the Living God as a sandbox-style, but short adventure where the players don't feel like they are along for the ride story-wise. All the info is presented there for the GM to run, but the players still have free reign as to how they go about reaching the end.

Edit:Rewards other than treasure and magical items are never emphasized enough in published adventures it seems. Sounds like a good opportunity for the folks at Paizo to lead the way in inspiring these less tangible rewards. Individual GMs can always do it of course, but it'll be nice to see how professional writers/GMs handle it in Kingmaker.


Montalve wrote:
no, he is in Mexico, here people is mostly catholic, killing IS NOT GOOD, it doesn't matter what for...

I've spent a good hunk of the past 20 years studying Catholic history, theology, and philosophy. My degree is in the first. I'm a certified catechist in my archdiocese. It is not Catholic teaching that killing is not good no matter what. In fact, in certain situations, certain people become morally obligated to use force, including deadly force when necessary.

anthony Valente wrote:
IMO, these make the best published adventures. Again, I point to Masks of the Living God as a sandbox-style, but short adventure where the players don't feel like they are along for the ride story-wise. All the info is presented there for the GM to run, but the players still have free reign as to how they go about reaching the end.

Sandbox is what I'm going to shoot for once I put on the DM hat again with my group.


I haven't played any of the APs (I'm more of a core books kind of guy), but for whatever my opinion is worth, here it is...

The theme that the forces of good must sometimes ally with a lesser evil in order to defeat a greater one is neither new nor unique to Pathfinder. It's one of the oldest stories around, and it resonates deeply with us because it is familiar to both our fiction and our real lives.

Could Frodo destroy the One Ring if not for the assistance of the murdering cannibal Gollum?
Could Buffy defeat Angelus without the help of bloodthirsty psychopath Spike?
Could the Allies have defeated the mass-murdering Axis powers if not for the massive contributions of the mass-murdering Soviets?

Sometimes in life you have to hold your nose and say "I don't like you, you represent everything that I oppose and one day I'll probably have to take you down, but there are bigger problems at hand right now."


Green Left Eye wrote:
Could Frodo destroy the One Ring if not for the assistance of the murdering cannibal Gollum?

Sure. Sam could've bullrushed Frodo off the cliff....

Liberty's Edge

Mark Chance wrote:
Montalve wrote:
...if Hitler had won the story would have been different

But the moral of the story would remain the same.

:p

what moral dilema? If Hitler had won you would be asking if we traveled in time and killed Churchill or Roosevelt we could have stoped the deaths of so many innocent british or americans who died pointless dead so the Reich would be eternal!

lol chaingin the perspective changes everything...unless you are with the resistance and ask yourself how to stop the evil empire of being formed in the 1st place...

Liberty's Edge

Jason Nelson wrote:

No real argument with the premise - as James said, D&D ultimately IS all about killing monsters and taking their stuff. That's the heart of the game.

That said, this AP represents a thoroughgoing effort to create an adventure scenario that is sandboxy in all the good ways. There IS an overall narrative in the background, but it's not on a fast timer, as it is mostly keyed to respond to the progress that the PCs make. In the course of time, they will create their own allies and enemies through their actions and choices.

The AP is designed to give characters time to do all those little things we like to think about our characters doing but usually don't because:

a. There's no REAL reward for doing it; and,
b. There's no time to do it because the REAL adventure is coming on a fast train!

Kingmaker is an effort to remedy that, so there are real rewards, both tangible in-character rewards and also pure meta-game rewards like XP, for doing the things that your characters would logically want to do in a scenario where they have a chance to carve a kingdom out of the wilderness without worrying about whether the world is going to end in the next six weeks.

Are there monsters? Yes. Absolutely. There is stuff to kill and loot to pillage. There is danger, but hopefully your characters will feel like they have the opportunity and the motivation to spread their wings in some new and different ways without being penalized for doing it!

did something like this some years ago with a group in another city, I absolutely love it.


Montalve wrote:
what moral dilema?

I didn't say anything about a moral dilemma.

Montalve wrote:
If Hitler had won you would be asking if we traveled in time and killed Churchill or Roosevelt we could have stoped the deaths of so many innocent british or americans who died pointless dead so the Reich would be eternal!

No, I wouldn't be asking that. My moral compass may not always point true north, but I'm not so spineless as to be unable to see grotesque evil for what it is.

Montalve wrote:
chaingin the perspective changes everything...

No, it doesn't. It only changes the perspective. The actual dimensions of the thing being observed remain the same.

Liberty's Edge

Mark Chance wrote:
Montalve wrote:
what moral dilema?

I didn't say anything about a moral dilemma.

Montalve wrote:
If Hitler had won you would be asking if we traveled in time and killed Churchill or Roosevelt we could have stoped the deaths of so many innocent british or americans who died pointless dead so the Reich would be eternal!

No, I wouldn't be asking that. My moral compass may not always point true north, but I'm not so spineless as to be unable to see grotesque evil for what it is.

Montalve wrote:
chaingin the perspective changes everything...
No, it doesn't. It only changes the perspective. The actual dimensions of the thing being observed remain the same.

again, you look through the eyes of the history written by the victor...

if Germany had won, the extermiantion camps would have been a secret and maybe some dark secrets of the Allies would have come to light to show them as evil... (cof cof american-japanese camps akin almost to many concentration camps in europe)

history... unfortunately is written by those who win... not stated facts... yes sometimes and in some areas history is discovered to be a fake... but just how many of your heroes are exactly so? I know many of my countries national heroes are "reworked" to actually become heroes... the classic example is Pancho villa... we all know he was a thief of cattle, but still he is a natioanla heroe because he fought as part of the Revolution to take down first a dictatorship, then later an usurper goverment that had murdered the new president... and if he had reached the power... who knows what kind of barbarian would have he been...

we are who we are because of the history we have lived on...

Paizo Employee Creative Director

anthony Valente wrote:
Edit:Rewards other than treasure and magical items are never emphasized enough in published adventures it seems. Sounds like a good opportunity for the folks at Paizo to lead the way in inspiring these less tangible rewards. Individual GMs can always do it of course, but it'll be nice to see how professional writers/GMs handle it in Kingmaker.

The funny thing is that I often try to work in non-treasure rewards into the adventure paths, and often these inclusions start to weird people out. Granting XP for having strange visions in Age of Worms is an example that stands out in my mind.

In any case, there's a LOT of non-treasure rewards in Kingmaker. And in the first Serpent's Skull adventure (which I'm currently writing), there are some other neat non-treasure rewards you get for helping NPCs.

Liberty's Edge

Wow, seems like I've touched of a firestorm debate. (Kewl :) Reminds me of "Davinci Code" book discussions that used to get out of control at the library I worked at (turns out most people didn't want to discuss the book really, but religion).
I'd just like to point out I didn't intend this as a damning criticism. I'll say again that I love love love Paizo's creations (my savings account loathes you, but that's another matter). It's just that I thought I saw a systemic plot trend that kept popping up. Granted, upon examining the examples I gave, I see that they weren't all painted as necessary, but they did help to illustrate my point. It was from there that I started theorizing on why the anti-hero morally ambiguous trope was always getting the most attention. Maybe it just reminded me too much of the Dark Age of comics, where almost every new character was a Rob Leifield inspired brooding borderline psycho path.
Anyways, my objection wasn't that such elements were included, I too find them interesting when done well, but that they seemed to be consistently pushed as the favored options. I just remembered that in the Savage Tide path there was something similar in the beginning. Except more in the opposite vein. I'm talking about the sidebars where advice was given on what to do if the players didn't ally with the lead NPC Lavinia, but instead joined the pirates. At 1st I didn't like it, but later I saw it as a good idea to include the option. Especially considering that alot of Players alignments actually default to Homicidal Kleptomaniac :)
As to points made in some of the other posts. I find the whole Paladin having to choose to murder a child to save a town to be kind of lame. As others have put it, it's sort of a GOTCHA! argument. And again is an example of extremely limited options. It reminds me of that scene from Dark Knight. Where the ferry passengers are given the choice of saving themselves by blowing up the prisoner's boat 1st. In the end they decided not to play along with his game. Someone else made a good point: why would you ever trust the villain to uphold his end of the choice? Referencing the Dark Knight, wouldn't it have been just the Joker's style to lie and have the detonators actually be for the ship they were on? (and addressing a plot hole here, why didn't anyone check for bombs before they left?)
And to that post that attested that killing and eating a lone traveller of a different species might seem unsavory, it needn't necessarily be seen as evil. O_o ?!? Oooookay.
Kingmaker is starting to sound alot like Conquest of Bloodsworn Vale, one of my favorites. I also like the idea of the goal not just stopping the big bad, but maybe freeing the big good? To save a city in Galt maybe? Maybe other interesting goals can be explored; like accomplishing the 12 Labors of Hercules? Winning the hand of the Princess/Prince? Becoming renowned enough to join the Round Table? Boarding a ship and going where no Man/Elf/Dwarf/Xorn has gone before (sexing up green skinned women optional)? Getting the band back together to save the orphanage? etc. None of this prevents having interesting bad guys around for heroes to smack.
Thanks for the interesting discussion guys!


Montalve wrote:
again, you look through the eyes of the history written by the victor...

I'm enough of an historian to know better than take this canard too seriously.

Montalve wrote:
if Germany had won, the extermiantion camps would have been a secret and maybe some dark secrets of the Allies would have come to light to show them as evil... (cof cof american-japanese camps akin almost to many concentration camps in europe)

The death camps weren't a secret. Thousands of people knew about them, and that's not counting the victims. Also, they are hardly comparable to detention camps in the U.S. (no matter how unjust those were), which, it bears pointing out, also aren't a secret, and never were. In fact, they were existence was quite well-known at the time throughout the U.S. and beyond.

Montalve wrote:
we are who we are because of the history we have lived on...

And my history includes hundreds of years of philosophical and theological reflection about the acceptability of genocide. Of course, nowadays too people are too timid or self-absorbed to condemn even obvious evil.

Reminds me of a short poem. IIRC, it goes like this, "Here lies Sir Tact, a noble fellow. His silence wasn't golden, merely yellow."

:)

Liberty's Edge

I'd also like to say that, I didn't at all think Pathfinder was getting too stale or unimaginative. One of the reasons it's so successful is the imagination that's put into it.


Tikon2000 wrote:
(sexing up green skinned women optional)

I'm in!

Liberty's Edge

ok, good points Marks
you are right most of us are molded by lot, some by what they live closes too...

but this is a moral disccusion its best no taken off :P just let the thread take its course.


A special message from the President of the Evil United States.


Montalve wrote:
but this is a moral disccusion its best no taken off :P just let the thread take its course.

Sounds fair. :)

So, for those of you in the know, on a 1-10 railroad scale, with 10 being "you're locked in the baggage car and just along for the ride," how prominent is the alleged problem of Paizo APs coercing cooperation with evil in order to succeed at adventure objectives?


Jason Nelson wrote:
Frostflame wrote:
Well Tikon Golarion isnt a world based on Western European Christianity. The rules and philosophy differ greatly. After all its a high fantasy setting, and part of the Pathfinder system is exploring shades of gray and morally questionable acts to attain a greater good. In the system actually encourages a person to face temptations and find a way to overcome them without being tainted by evil.

I think this was precisely the problem the OP had, not that temptations to evil were available, but that there appeared to be no real way to succeed WITHOUT taking the evil route. That's not "requiring them to face temptations" and "make interesting choices," it's "requiring them to choke down the evil choice whether they like it or not because there is no alternative."

My inference is that the OP wouldn't have any particular problem with "siding with evil" being *A* possible choice (including it being the easiest, most convenient, or even the most effective choice) in completing an adventure or an AP. His objection seems to be more that there is no choice if the PCs want to succeed.

In sum:

Type 1: PCs face a choice of siding with evil to succeed. If they choose not to side with evil, it probably will make the adventure more challenging.

Type 2: PCs are forced to side with evil to succeed. If they choose not to side with evil, it probably will make the adventure impossible.

Type 1 is interesting. Type 2 is boring. The OP's objection (to my reading) seems to be much less about having to side with evil at all and much more with Type 2 adventures.

Frostflame wrote:
After all don't forget evil can wear a fair face, and as we say in our world the devil can quote the scripture for his own purposes.
Sure, but in Savage Tide, for example, Orcus and Iggwilv and Malcanthet make no pretense whatsoever about being wholly evil in their actions, attitudes, and choice of lair. Again, there's no fair face, no subtle deception,...

If you play an adventure path as written and follow it from point A to Point Z then yes you probably will end up succeeding but having made some kind of compromise with an evil party. However dont forget this you are pcs you have choices and resources that could be used in such away that taint could be avoided altogether. In Savage Tide you make deals with two different demon lords to defeat Demogorgon. I say find a way to make a deal with two Arch Angels to defeat said demonlord. Yeah I know its out of the way not part of the path but its an open option to you if you know where to look. Players should leave all options open and not be lazy and Dms should be well prepared for every eventuality and choice that a PC makes.

And further I wasnt being Patronizing either I was pointing out another cultural belief that the opener may not have been aware of.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

While I do like the edgier stuff that pathfinder has written, I can also see the point that the OP is making. I am playing in an age of worms adventure path.
Our party consists of
Broc: CN ½ orc male Barbarian/ fighter 5/4
Freia: CN: Human Female Monk/ Dread Necromancer 2/8
Ederheart: LN Human male Spirit Shaman/ Wizard/ Mystic Theurge 3/3/4
Tsin: N ½ Drow/Halfling female Rogue 9
Aegis: LN Warforged Male Fighter 9
Xander: N Halfling Male Ranger 9
Elyas NG Human Male Rogue/ Bard 2/7 (My character, with whip and fedora hat)

There have been lots of opportunities to role-play our differences in the game. My character doesn’t like that the dread necromancer animates the dead. My character finds that to be an evil act. The necromancer believes that it is a mater of moral and cultural relativity. The spirit shaman doesn’t seem to care, he has refers to the zombies as simply meat puppets powered by negative energy.

We have also had to deal with the cult of Mammon. My character doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. First off he believes it is wrong to deal with devils and demons. Also he doesn’t even want to have anything to do with a devil’s bargain. He believes the mortal will always come out the looser so he doesn’t want to take the risk.

The spirit shaman is used to negotiating with the spirits for magic, so negotiating with the followers of Mammon or possibly Mammon himself doesn’t faze him.
The Dread Necromancer doest care if we have to make a deal with a devil. Power is power to her so long as she can use it.

Somehow the party tangled with the cult of Mammon, I think we killed some of their clerics in an altercation. (I wasn’t there) and the cult wanted us to kill someone in the name of Mammon to make amends. My character didn’t want to have anything to do with this bargain, but the barbarian was perfectly willing to enter into the bargain.

All in all it is a fun game. My character may disagree with the other characters, but it is all in good fun. Some of them believe that you may have to make compromises to accomplish a greater good. My character doesn’t believe that the ends justify the means. He believes that you don’t need to compromise your morals in order to achieve a greater good, in other words stopping the age of worms from coming about. My character believes that if you do allow the ends justify the means, you can either allow or commit even greater and greater evils.

So I can see where the OP is coming from. And no my character isn’t a paladin. He is simply trying to be a good person.

I think that in the case of where the party has to pull a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and works with and possibly helps evil entities, because that is the solution provided in a pre written adventure, Hopefully the DM will allow for other solutions that pcs can come up for the challenges in the modules other then what is presented.

Oh on the ends justifying the means question, I have noticed that over time, I think that there is a different attitude towards torture. I remember in a game I was DMing in 2000 the party had to get some information from a dugar prisoner. One of the players wanted to torture the information out of the Duagar. I seem to remember I was DMing the forge of fury, and the party needed to find some stone tablets with metallurgical formulas written on them. Luckiy before I needed to say anything, other party members stopped this from happening.

In resent years, granted this is a different game and different players, I have found people more accepting of torture being applied to extract information from a prisoner. This used to be something only villains did. “And now your highness we shall discuss the location of the hidden rebel base.” So far other Players have had their PCs beat a prisoner with their fists and if any sharp objects are going to be used, the Dm “fades the scene” and asks for some intimidate rolls. Thank you Jack Baur and 24. I do like the show however.

What have others noticed?


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Montalve wrote:


history... unfortunately is written by those who win... not stated facts... yes sometimes and in some areas history is discovered to be a fake... but just how many of your heroes are exactly so? I know many of my countries national heroes are "reworked" to actually become heroes... the classic example is Pancho villa... we all know he was a thief of cattle, but still he is a natioanla heroe because he fought as part of the Revolution to take down first a dictatorship, then later an usurper goverment that had murdered the new president... and if he had reached the power... who knows what kind of barbarian would have he been...

History is not always written by the winner. In the US, for most of the 20th century, post-Civil War history was taught more from a southern perspective than that of the victorious Union. It's why most people think that the Reconstruction was all about carpetbaggers and scalliwags rather than the larger number brave people daring intimidation and violence for teaching and working with former slaves.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Frostflame wrote:
If you play an adventure path as written and follow it from point A to Point Z then yes you probably will end up succeeding but having made some kind of compromise with an evil party. However dont forget this you are pcs you have choices and resources that could be used in such away that taint could be avoided altogether. In Savage Tide you make deals with two different demon lords to defeat Demogorgon. I say find a way to make a deal with two Arch Angels to defeat said demonlord. Yeah I know its out of the way not part of the path but its an open option to you if you know where to look. Players should leave all options open and not be lazy and Dms should be well prepared for every eventuality and choice that a PC makes.

Sure, but DMs dropping $120 for a six-issue AP also have a reasonable expectation that the adventures will include guidance for handling intentionally tricky parts such as these.

Hey, it requires word count to create and describe morally ambiguous dilemma situations in the first place; if we're talking about word count economy, we can save a lot by making things simpler and avoiding that entirely. However, if we want to keep including them, it's a reasonable directive for writers who do that to also require that they include a sidebar (it's part of the regular Paizo style sheet, after all) for "What should you do if the PCs don't want to play along with [Villain of the Week]?"

I've written adventures where there's a lot of investigation and deception, and you can WAYYYYY overwrite if you end up trying to anticipate every possible PC action, esp. for high-level adventures where they have so many options. You have to write some of that, because it touches on the core of the adventure and you have to make a reasonable accommodation for giving the DM a blueprint for how to deal with obvious tactics. What you can't do is go crazy trying to run down every possible action.

That is my ultimate point. An adventure writer can't and shouldn't try to account for every possible action; only the DM can do that, knowing their players and their characters. However, the adventure writer absolutely should account for the most probable actions by the PC.

I think good PCs refusing to cooperate with Lesser Evil to defeat Greater Evil is a probable enough outcome that an adventure writer should account for it. That doesn't mean writing up a whole separate sub-adventure; it just means spending one sidebar, probably 200-300 words or so, giving the DM pointers for what to do, what alternate routes they could have to get things done within the adventure and where they might link back up to the core adventure if they skip some part that could only happen in cahoots with the bad guys.

Remember, these kinds of dilemmas aren't something that are going to be coming up all the time. They are something that will probably happen once or twice in an entire Adventure Path. AP adventures are 30-35000 words. I don't think it's unreasonable to spend 1% of the word budget of ONE of those six adventures giving a "What if?" sidebar when you make a point of creating a dilemma situation or decision point where PCs might have a good chance of balking.

Spoiler:
In End of Eternity, there are actually three separate NPC power groups, none of which are evil and each of which has a reasonable rationale for why the PCs might want to side with them against the others. Depending on which way the PCs go, what might be a combat encounter for one group may be a social/diplomacy encounter for another. For the places your party chooses not to fight, the combat stats are almost wasted word count, but for a party who goes a different route their DM is probably happy that they are included.

This is really a more extreme case, because in this adventure there really ARE separate strands you can follow built into the adventure. I'm not advocating that as a necessary regular feature of adventures (though I think it worked well in that one); I just think a minimal nod to the idea that you are including a questionable area make sense from the standpoint of good design.

Frostflame wrote:
And further I wasnt being Patronizing either I was pointing out another cultural belief that the opener may not have been aware of.

In that case, my apologies for mischaracterizing what you said.


Jason Nelson wrote:
… my apologies…

I feel a disturbance in the force. It's as if a million posters suddenly cried out in terror and then were suddenly silenced.


BTW, Jason, nice job on End of Eternity. Favorite issue of the whole publication thus far.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

CourtFool wrote:
Jason Nelson wrote:
… my apologies…

I feel a disturbance in the force. It's as if a million posters suddenly cried out in terror and then were suddenly silenced.

Nice. Well played, sir. :)

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Evil Lincoln wrote:
BTW, Jason, nice job on End of Eternity. Favorite issue of the whole publication thus far.

Many thanks. Glad you enjoyed. If you have a particular favorite bits from reading it or especially fun parts from running or playing it, please do share, whether here under spoiler, in the EoE product thread, or by email at:

Spoiler:
tjadenjason at gmail dot com


Jason Nelson wrote:
Frostflame wrote:
If you play an adventure path as written and follow it from point A to Point Z then yes you probably will end up succeeding but having made some kind of compromise with an evil party. However dont forget this you are pcs you have choices and resources that could be used in such away that taint could be avoided altogether. In Savage Tide you make deals with two different demon lords to defeat Demogorgon. I say find a way to make a deal with two Arch Angels to defeat said demonlord. Yeah I know its out of the way not part of the path but its an open option to you if you know where to look. Players should leave all options open and not be lazy and Dms should be well prepared for every eventuality and choice that a PC makes.

Sure, but DMs dropping $120 for a six-issue AP also have a reasonable expectation that the adventures will include guidance for handling intentionally tricky parts such as these.

Hey, it requires word count to create and describe morally ambiguous dilemma situations in the first place; if we're talking about word count economy, we can save a lot by making things simpler and avoiding that entirely. However, if we want to keep including them, it's a reasonable directive for writers who do that to also require that they include a sidebar (it's part of the regular Paizo style sheet, after all) for "What should you do if the PCs don't want to play along with [Villain of the Week]?"

I've written adventures where there's a lot of investigation and deception, and you can WAYYYYY overwrite if you end up trying to anticipate every possible PC action, esp. for high-level adventures where they have so many options. You have to write some of that, because it touches on the core of the adventure and you have to make a reasonable accommodation for giving the DM a blueprint for how to deal with obvious tactics. What you can't do is go crazy trying to run down every possible action.

That is my ultimate point. An adventure writer can't and shouldn't...

This is my point. Adventure paths are pretty straight foward in what they do and can be played that way no problem there. Like you said there is a word count the writers have to adhere to and so they put all the necessary meat for the adventure to work. After that its up to the Dm and the players to modify in small or major ways as seen fit. In Savage Tide for example why make deals with the demon lords Grazzt and Malcanthet when by that power level The Party Cleric and Wizard have access to Planar Ally and binding spells to call Celestials and gain their aid. Sure it isnt in the AP, and the writers could leave it out for word count, but PC characters have access to this resource and could possibly alter the game play.( Much to the dismay and hardwork a Gm has to put in after)Its the beauty of pen paper role playing that you get this freedom to play with, unlike a computer game which has more limited options.


Don't believe him! He's after your cookies! ;)


Mark Chance wrote:
The death camps weren't a secret. Thousands of people knew about them, and that's not counting the victims. Also, they are hardly comparable to detention camps in the U.S. (no matter how unjust those were), which, it bears pointing out, also aren't a secret, and never were. In fact, they were existence was quite well-known at the time throughout the U.S. and beyond.

The National Socialist propaganda machine was quite adept at boldfaced lying about things that would have seemed obvious to the man on the street. One of the reasons the Final Solution was ultimately workable was the fact that bureaucrats et. al. could bury their heads in the sand and refer to euphemsisms like "deportation," "evacuation," "protective custody" and of course "special action". So I think 5-10 years out from a Nazi victory in WWII the general populous would have had very little memory or concern over what happened to the Jews/gypsies/homosexuals/Communists, etc.

And while I agree with you that the American internment camps are not comparable to the Nazi concentration/death camps in terms of committed atrocity, they certainly are a black stain on the US that isn't likely to be absolved any time soon. I spoke with my grandmother several years ago about this situation, and she said something to me that really chilled me to my bones, though I believe her. She said "we didn't know, no one knew about it." Granted, she didn't live on the west coast at that time, but it struck me as sounding very similar to the reports from the German and Polish residents of towns and villages near the sites of the Nazi camps.

Zo

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
And yes... I'm a fan of darker, grittier fantasy stories, and as I'm the Creative Director, that sentiment tends to creep into most of Paizo's offerings. And we've had very few complaints.

I am personally one fan glad of that.

James Jacobs wrote:


I'm curious, though, to find out if the worry that we put too much evil in our adventures is shared by others? Again... the grittier adventures and elements we produce generally get good reviews and good sales, so I feel pretty justified in presenting these more mature, edgier products and adventures, but if folks...

Not I, that is one of(not the only one) but one of the big reasons I am a big Paizo fan is because of the darker, grittier aspect to Pathfinder products.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

More darkness, more grit please :)

In fact, I think this is one of the reasons Golarion sticks out to me.


DigMarx wrote:
...euphemsisms like "deportation," "evacuation," "protective custody" and of course "special action".

Folks largely knew what those euphemisms referred to. Did many choose to turn a blind eye and pretend they didn't know? Certainly.

DigMarx wrote:
...She said "we didn't know, no one knew about it." Granted, she didn't live on the west coast at that time, but it struck me as sounding very similar to the reports from the German and Polish residents of towns and villages near the sites of the Nazi camps.

Folks who lived near the death camps and said they didn't know were lying. Anyone in eastern occupied territories who lived near Jews knew that the Nazis were in the business of killing Jews (among others).

In the U.S., without the mass media we have today, it is vaguely conceivable that some folks in rural areas away from California didn't know about the Japanese internment camps, but otherwise....

It's not like it was a secret. For example:

One
Two

Never underestimate the ability of the masses to look the other way and pretend nothing's wrong.


Deals with the devil? D&D forces you to be evil!

I told you so!!!

P.S. Goodwin strikes again!


DigMarx wrote:
And while I agree with you that the American internment camps are not comparable to the Nazi concentration/death camps in terms of committed atrocity, they certainly are a black stain on the US that isn't likely to be absolved any time soon. I spoke with my grandmother several years ago about this situation, and she said something to me that really chilled me to my bones, though I believe her. She said "we didn't know, no one knew about it." Granted, she didn't live on the west coast at that time, but it struck me as sounding very similar to the reports from the German and Polish residents of towns and villages near the sites of the Nazi camps.

Only a scattered few people really knew anything about it. My grandfather was a chemist here in Chicago during WW2. One of his partners on the west coast was a Japanese American who was rounded up. My grandfather only knew about it because his partner was allowed out of the camp to continue to work. The media never picked up on the story. They were too afraid to criticize the government.


You just have to ignore all the allignment spells, alignment restrictions on all classes etc to play a paizo module. Basically ignore cause and effect. Its sorta funny they kept alignment but made it flexible for NPCs without making it flexible for PCs.

Its not overly creative the whole 'layered character' thing it just follows flow of the recent generations inability to percieve commitment to any ideal or be apt enough to fulfill their beliefs AND get ahead. So the fuzzy headed belief in valid hypocracy creeps into all culture you interact with as lets face it everyone likes dragging others to their level and convincing them their choices HAD to be made as it helps us sleep at night.

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

Didn't somebody say something about threads getting too long?

"Evil Choices" are becoming too common in the adventure paths, I don't have any good ideas about what to replace them with that gives the same level "Shades of Grey", I understand about page count.

I must say when I DM I tend to make the "Evil Choices" seem much like the only choices, Sub Par DMing but I use modules for time saving and don't usually have time to develope alternate methods as I like would to present for my players.

Captian Marsh had a good idea with an AP about Good going on the offensive, now with that you can really fit in some "Shades of Grey" or not.


I like the gritty world where Pathfinder resides. I like the moral ambiguity available in each of the paths. If there are nine alignments playable, why restrict players in the paths to only three or four? As has been pointed out, none of the paths (with possible exception of SD) require the players to make evil choices to get to the end. My vote sticks with keeping it in the shades of gray.


James Jacobs wrote:

As for chaotic neutral, I do try to make sure that when you have a monster that's actually evil, such as a baby eater, then that monster SHOULD be evil.

In the case of the Mother of Flies... I suspect that either the bit about her eating kids was an unfounded rumor... or it's just a goof.

I'm fond of both lawful neutral and chaotic neutral as bad guy alignments, but if something's evil, it should be evil. In the case of the Mother of Flies... she was intended to not be EEEEVIL as much as she was chaotic. And the intent there, as I mentioned above, was that there's a lot of legend and rumor about her that's not 100% accurate.

Just because someone is good doesn't mean they are friendly. Likewise evil isn't always antogistic. Every character should have goals which drive them. Their 'alignment' illustrates how they would accomplish those goals.

Then again Orcs are for head bashing, not analyzing.


James Jacobs wrote:
anthony Valente wrote:
Edit:Rewards other than treasure and magical items are never emphasized enough in published adventures it seems. Sounds like a good opportunity for the folks at Paizo to lead the way in inspiring these less tangible rewards. Individual GMs can always do it of course, but it'll be nice to see how professional writers/GMs handle it in Kingmaker.

The funny thing is that I often try to work in non-treasure rewards into the adventure paths, and often these inclusions start to weird people out. Granting XP for having strange visions in Age of Worms is an example that stands out in my mind.

In any case, there's a LOT of non-treasure rewards in Kingmaker. And in the first Serpent's Skull adventure (which I'm currently writing), there are some other neat non-treasure rewards you get for helping NPCs.

XP rewards for non-combat related events aren't quite what I'm talking about. I like them, don't get me wrong. I remember several situations in the AoW adventure that gave such XP rewards. In fact the part of that adventure which included attending a certain party in that gave out such rewards is one of the most memorable chapters of that campaign amongst my players (I'm remaining ambiguous on details on purpose for those who haven't played it). Not much combat at all, but a lot intrigue and XP to be had.

XP is a reward more for the players, not the PCs. The PCs (and by extention the players) can't use XP in play like tangible rewards such as gold and items. But having these rewards over and over leaves the players (and by extension the PCs) jaded. I'm interested in non-tangible rewards such as gaining land/property, status, aid, and such. These types of rewards always seem to be hinted at in rule books, but never expanded upon.

Here are some examples of non-tangible rewards
- gaining land/property (granted, hereditary, or taken by force)
- gaining a base of operations
- having a reason to keep all that fine art you find in dungeons instead of selling it
- gaining access to a magical pool guarded by dryads that lets you see into the future on occasion
- gaining the trust and aid of an NPC
- gaining a "get out of jail card" from a divine entity
- gaining a reputation that carries actual weight (in game) for defeating the Fire Giant Chieftain (such as perhaps fire giants not actually attacking you on site and being more susceptible to Intimidate checks)
- gaining an emblem that is recognized (for better and ill) by powers of authority
- becoming captain of a battalion of the king's men.

What I find intriguing about Kingmaker, is that the previews here hint at rewards such as these. All too often, it seems that the ultimate rewards are: gaining levels, getting more magical items, defeating the big bad, saving the town/kingdom/world. Again, don't get me wrong, I love these goals, but what about goals than embed the characters into the background of the campaign itself like gaining a castle with a retinue (fighter), becoming that grand merchant of rare and forgotten treasures (rogue), or becoming the sage that every important figure turns to (wizard), becoming the hierarch of a church (cleric)? Maybe the game can't be built to play to these types of goals… I don't know. 1e seemed to have this assumption built into the rules in the players handbook, with wizards eventually getting a tower, fighters getting men-at-arms if they build a stronghold, rangers getting their "merry men" and such. But again, it wasn't expanded upon.

Now I do recall rewards along these lines from time to time in published adventures. But they are few. I think it could be easily done in Pathfinder adventures and even PFS, especially since the paths are tied so closely to the campaign setting itself. And one more thing I'd really like to see is another reason to obtain treasure beyond buying magical gear. Ugh!

Sczarni

Placeholder until on a real computer

Really interesting discussion so far


I have two difficulties with the intangible rewards:

1) A limited number of players are actually interested in them.

2) They involve more work for the GM as there's a bunch of fleshing out to do.

That said, when you do have players who are interested in the intangibles they really do (in my experience) appreciate them and get a lot more enjoyment from the game.

The other hook that I've found to be very engaging is if you manage to make the antagonism between the players and the villian(s) (or side villians) more personal. Pugwumpis are naturals at this - they mess with the player's dice rolls and I saw that cause an immediate and intense lust for vengance. I've added other side villians to a couple of adventure paths. These villians managed to become quite dispised, motivating the characters and making the plot a bit less linear.

I agree with that the passive nature of other good forces is a problem and I think it can spoil the flavour of some adventures, giving a railroaded feel to things. One method of dealing with it is to provide aid to the PC's but ensure that those providing the aid have a very rough time of it. (Like Sandpoint guards who get paralized and ripped to shreds in a cornfield) The PC's will probably get to the point where they'd rather do things on their own.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

We've put intangible awards into Pathifnder APs from the start. We don't always call them out and highlight them though. An example from each AP we've done or are currently working on:

Shackled City:

Spoiler:
A PC can gain a new template and rule or redeem a layer of the Abyss.

Age of Worms:

Spoiler:
The PCs can win a gladitorial competition and get famous!

Savage Tide:

Spoiler:
The PCs can earn the love of a powerful noblewoman, gain a sailing ship, or help grow a remote jungle colony.

Runelords:

Spoiler:
The PCs get put in charge of a wilderness fort.

Crimson Throne:

Spoiler:
The PCs gain the alliance and friendship of a Shoanti tribe.

Second Darkness:

Spoiler:
The PCs gain control of a business and can run it.

Legacy of Fire:

Spoiler:
The PCs become leaders in a small trading town and can help shape its fortunes.

Council of Thieves:

Spoiler:
The PCs can become famous actors, and might even be able to become rulers of Westcrown if they play their cards right.

Kingmaker:

Spoiler:
The PCs rule their own kingdom and build their own cities.

Serpent's Skull:

Spoiler:
By befriending NPCs and earning their trust, PCs will be able to gain benefits and bonuses to skills and maybe even earn bonus feats.

There are PLENTY more... but I gotta get running if I'm gonna be home in time for the Paizo chat AND to see Lost!


Ummm... given that I have a reputation as the devil(R) at my gaming table... I have no problem with siding with the devil.

As to the Shackled City campaign:

Spoiler:
The theme of it is the planar axis with regards to that part of the Abyss. Can a section of the Abyss be redeemed? One hopes so, as it has been proven that other planes can harbor and lose parts of themselves and other planes. This option was provided for the plane in the magazines, I don't know about the HC. Further: Siding with the devil, or tolerating, rather, happened a few times where the PC's get played by the bad guys. I.E. Vhalantru's offers for the PC's, in which the PC's help the Shackleborn get captured.

Not every adventure should include this, but many layers of intrigue are wonderful for a campaign. They make for great stories, and are even better when the PC's can stop the same bad guy they were forced to ally with to save the world/kingdom/city/cheerleader. Remember Adventure Paths are all catered to have a little bit of everything, from intrigue, investigation, and then combat.

I personally love what Paizo's doing with them, so I'm good either way.

Now, onto the other tangent, non-monetary/magic item x rewards:
Titles, Land, and reputation... These are very hard to quantify for game mechanics purposes. Honestly, I like reputations. I like titles, and I like land grants for rewards for characters. Mind you, the land grants should have some plot hooks built in, i.e. monsters need relocated/eradicated or nobles need a strong leader (goes along with title). Not to be overused, mind you, but something for the PC's to think about.

Now, the other part to titles nobody is thinking about is favors. Titles could and should grant ranks (i.e. baron/Baroness, lord/lady, marquise/Marquesse?, count/contess, duke/duchess, etc.) and favors. Certain nobles get something they want for little or nothing due to who they are, the peasant's hero saves the day and gets a month free rent and hiding from the authorities at a farmstead outside of the main city, etc. These favors could be quantified and standardized for Pathfinder.

Side note, not trying to derail from Pathfinder, only add to it (and help get a subsystem working for DM's who want it):

Spoiler:
Anyone interested in seeing an example of titles and how they can work should check out the rewards system in FantasyCraft from Crafty Games (via mongoose publishing). Titles grant a number of things, but "Favors" is/are one of them. Your "Rank" in a particular title type gives you options of favors, which require diplomacy and spending a little of your reputation on... which is the real currency of that system. I love it, and I am working on importing it to my own PF games. Seriously, Pathfinder and FantasyCraft are the two d20 games I actually want to RUN and PLAY.


Geo Fix wrote:

I have two difficulties with the intangible rewards:

1) A limited number of players are actually interested in them.

2) They involve more work for the GM as there's a bunch of fleshing out to do.

That said, when you do have players who are interested in the intangibles they really do (in my experience) appreciate them and get a lot more enjoyment from the game.

The other hook that I've found to be very engaging is if you manage to make the antagonism between the players and the villian(s) (or side villians) more personal. Pugwumpis are naturals at this - they mess with the player's dice rolls and I saw that cause an immediate and intense lust for vengance. I've added other side villians to a couple of adventure paths. These villians managed to become quite dispised, motivating the characters and making the plot a bit less linear.

I agree with that the passive nature of other good forces is a problem and I think it can spoil the flavour of some adventures, giving a railroaded feel to things. One method of dealing with it is to provide aid to the PC's but ensure that those providing the aid have a very rough time of it. (Like Sandpoint guards who get paralized and ripped to shreds in a cornfield) The PC's will probably get to the point where they'd rather do things on their own.

I can see players having a limited interest as you say, but since we're talking about published adventures, I don't see the GM have that much fleshing out to do as hopefully, the writer has done that for you or at least given you a good start.

But back to villains and the whole morale dilemma thing. Villains don't have to be "villains" in the usual sense, which is to say that they don't have to be evil or not evil but do morbid things that make them appear evil. As to your mentioning making the antagonism between players and the villains personal, the most hated "villain" in my campaign amongst my players isn't even evil or Chaotic Neutral. He is an NPC who makes his wealth by stealing from adventurers. His basic premise is to let others do the dirty work, and when they are weak, simply steal what they got. He doesn't kill them… he'll gain more wealth keeping them alive. In fact, he's actually saved their bacon on one occasion. He figured he had good "employees" and didn't want to see them offed. :D

Turning the whole thing on its head, it would be interesting to see a good NPC/group become the "villain", but NOT by doing some evil act and becoming evil Anakin Skywalker-style.


James Jacobs wrote:

We've put intangible awards into Pathifnder APs from the start. We don't always call them out and highlight them though. An example from each AP we've done or are currently working on:

Age of Worms: ** spoiler omitted **

Savage Tide: ** spoiler omitted **

I can only speak to these two, as they are the only ones I own and know with any expertise. I would say that for the age of worms:

Spoiler:
yes you become famous, but there is no in game benefit. At least I don't think there is, it's been over a year and a half, so I can't remember.

There is also the last reward of the campaign:
Spoiler:
Where you actually get the opportunity to rule Alhaster!

…but alas the campaign (at least publish-wise) ends thereafter. Our group has started a new campaign in the same world, and this reward is definitely in play, just not in the hands of the players and their current PCs.

Spoiler:
Another I can think of is the Fountain of Fortune's Folly. A very interesting one! I really enjoy this sort of stuff as do my players. Decisions to be made. Should I take the reward along with the consequence?

As to Savage Tide: I can't remember if:

Spoiler:
You get to keep the ship before you head to the Isle of Dread or after. If it's before, then yes, this is definitely what I'm talking about !

The ratio of tangibles to non-tangibles is still very lopsided :P

Sorry to keep rambling on. I'm not trying to be nitpicky intentionally if it seems I come across as such. I'm just advocating my personal taste of seeing these sorts of rewards having a larger presence in the game as compared to gold and magic items. I'm enthused at the prospect of seeing more of this sort of reward type incorporated into published adventures, particularly Kingmaker.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

In Savage Tide...

Spoiler:
You gain the ship, the Sea Wyvern, during the 2nd adventure. You keep it until the end of the entire campaign.

And if the Age of Worms and Shackled City non-monetary stuff seems weird or light... it's 'cause we were still learning the ropes! :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

anthony Valente wrote:
Sorry to keep rambling on. I'm not trying to be nitpicky intentionally if it seems I come across as such. I'm just advocating my personal taste of seeing these sorts of rewards having a larger presence in the game as compared to gold and magic items. I'm enthused at the prospect of seeing more of this sort of reward type incorporated into published adventures, particularly Kingmaker.

No worries... I'm just trying to point out that, particularly in the Pathfinder APs, we HAVE been pretty good, I think, about including what you're looking for. Not sure if you've checked out many of those APs, but including non-treasure awards is pretty standard in APs. If only in the category of handing out story awards for XP for accomplishing things.

Sczarni

ok, finally have a real keyboard to work with...

with regards to "deals with the devil" or "choice of lesser evils", in the AP's I have run/played in -Savage Tide, Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne, Second Darkness, and now Council of Thieves, only Savage Tide and 1 part of Crimson Throne really have such issues built in.

Savage Tide

Spoiler:
The whole Enemies of my Enemy and Wells of Darkness are about recruiting powerful anti-Demogorgon aid. In the adventures, that consists of demon lords, evil deities, and the Witch Queen.

Since I had a completely anti-undead Cleric in my game, I had to lose the Orcus angle, instead allying the party with a bunch of LG Planar Dwarves, based around Niflheim and Yggdrassil (since you're there already).

Of course, that adventure also has you allying with the Eladrins, so a little leeway is possible.


Crimson Throne
Spoiler:
When you ally with Shadowcount Sial or Laori Vaius, there is a time when you may have an evil cleric helping out with the party. They are not NECESSARY to finish the adventure, but they do make bypassing certain wards/areas easier.

In my game, the party distrusted both of them, and Sial made good his escape earlier, rather than later. My group was mostly evil aligned, anyways, so there is that.

And, truth be told, with the exception of a few Second Darkness plot-issues, almost any of the AP adventures can be run from either side of the Good/Evil axis. Motivation for the mission will vary, but that is true of all groups. When the DM tailors the module to his group, it works better in the end, anyways.

For my money, though, keep more adventures like Hook Mountain Massacre, Tides of Dread, and Burnt Offerings coming. Fantastic NPC's to play, good combat and game mechanics, and all around fun to run/play!

-t


I would just like to toss in that in many point buy systems such 'non-tangible' rewards are, in fact, bought with XP.

Me, personally, I do not charge for those things after character creation. If your character earns them in game, then you get free points (cost of the non-tangible plus whatever XP gained).

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