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Paizo Employee Creative Director

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GM Giuseppe wrote:

Hey James,

I am struggling a bit to justify rationally how small towns such as those frequently depicted in APs could contain such a variety of ethnicities.

In real history we had a true mixture of cultures only when easily accessible traveling means (cars, airplanes) became available. Before that, migration usually concerned groups of people (tribes relocating, settlers founding new colonies) and only very rarely single individuals. Travels were perilous and they took very long, cultural shock was definitely a thing, and people moving in new areas usually did not enjoy all the benefits (usually political rights) granted to normal citizens.

In the Age of Lost Omens, we do not have all of those modern means of travel, and the world is probably much more dangerous than ours, due to monsters. The common pantheon and tongue surely help, but I still feel like that is not enough to justify the huge diversity of ethnicities in small settlements. I feel like common folk travel too much in a world so dangerous as Golarion is, and with a technology level not high enough to ensure safe travels.

May I ask your 2 cents on this? I feel like there is something I am missing from my picture.

Real history is filled with a lot of awful things, and it's MUCH more important to foster a welcoming nature to players from all walks of life than to try to ape things from the real world that may or may not be accurately represented by historians. Furthermore, while Golarion takes inspiration from the real world, it's NOT MEANT to be a real world simulator. We seek to present a world where fantasy heroes and villians clash, but also a world where we can escape from some of the awful and unfortunate realities that have hindered and haunted society from the start.

If a GM wants to have more segregated societies and less-diverse settlements in their game, that's certainly something that GM can do (hopefully with their players being considered), but representing a wide range of people in our products is a core value and it's something I'm incredibly proud of. All the way back to Sandpoint, where I tried my best to have as wide a range of people as possible.

Think of the diverse towns we portray in our products as something to aspire to, rather than something to run from.

If we loose some verisimilitude in our setting by implying that people can travel all over the place and thus be widespread and thus have diverse settlements all over the place, then I'll GLADLY take that hit to suspension of disbelief and keep at it in hopes of some day, the real world not thinking it's unbelievable for a small town to have a diverse population.

EDIT: Keep in mind that the presence of magic and the fact that recorded history in the region goes back much longer in Golarion than on Earth. Golarion may be thematically based on historical stuff, but it's a more advanced into its timeline setting than Earth by thousands of years. In a way, this makes EARTH the temporal backwater, and Golarion is the future we can hope to aspire to. So in light of that... "in historical Earth this or that" is a nonsense argument to take in my opinion.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Have you ever ran a game set in Golarion but with a different game system? The first book of Agents of Edgewatch seems like it might be really fun with Call of Cthulhu rules...

Silver Crusade

Malevolence, eh?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

crognus wrote:
Have you ever ran a game set in Golarion but with a different game system?

Nope.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Rysky wrote:
Malevolence, eh?

How's that for a big fanfare announcement? So big that I didn't even realize that the title had been released. :-/

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Can you reveal what coastal town Malevolence takes place in/near?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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crognus wrote:
Can you reveal what coastal town Malevolence takes place in/near?

The town is a brand new one that hasn't yet been mentioned in print. It's called Crooked Cove, but it's also abandoned and empty at the time Malevolence takes place. The adventure doesn't spend any time there at all–it's 100% focused on the mansion and its grounds. This should help the GM place the haunted house anywhere (although if they do so, they'll have to adjust some of the mansion's history, as its location on the southwestern border of Ravounel is pretty important to some of that).

In my home game that I'm currently running for several folks, Crooked Cove is still active though—it's called Crookcove now (after a storm took down part of the sign outside of town), and the campaign is a sandbox in which the players are free to explore all over the place. The haunted mansion has been the focus of most of that attention, but not all of it.

Silver Crusade

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James Jacobs wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Malevolence, eh?
How's that for a big fanfare announcement? So big that I didn't even realize that the title had been released. :-/

*hugs*

I’m expecting the big announcement for it at Gencon, and a blog before it releases ^w^

Aside from being a haunted house story, can you talk more on what type of adventure you wanted to set up for this or tell?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Rysky wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Malevolence, eh?
How's that for a big fanfare announcement? So big that I didn't even realize that the title had been released. :-/

*hugs*

I’m expecting the big announcement for it at Gencon, and a blog before it releases ^w^

Aside from being a haunted house story, can you talk more on what type of adventure you wanted to set up for this or tell?

I have no idea if it'll be "announced" at Gen Con. There's a lot of bigger products to talk about, and not enough time to talk about them all. It's certainly not something I've been scheduled to talk about.

My goal for "Malevloence" is to do an entire adventure that super-details a single location—a haunted house. Think of the Misgivings in "Skinsaw Murders" as a trial run, if you will, but that one took up only 21 pages—the haunted house in Malevolence will fill a 64 page adventure, and as such it'll have a LOT more flavor and spook-factor and stuff. It's also going to be a pretty grisly, horrific, and R-rated adventure, so expect a content warning label on it. It's not gonna be one that's appropriate for everyone.

I don't want to give away too much about it, but those who know me know my preferences as much as it comes to horror, so you can also expect...

Spoiler:
...to see some Lovecraftian themes and some Dominion of the Black stuff in here as well. It's the first full-lenght adventure I've written for Paizo that's gonna have this content, in fact... all the other Dominion of the Black/Lovecraftian adventures we've published have been written by other people, so I'm really excited to cut loose with the cosmic horror and body horror and gothic horror elements! There's been several other adventures that I was GOING to write on these themes (such as Feast of Ravenmoor, or something for Strange Aeons, or anything at ALL for Horror Adventures) that I had to hand over to other writers for various reasons, but yeah... the thing I'm most excited is to be able to do a horror adventure on my own rather than developing someone else's or handing off my idea to another author. Not to minimize what the others have done, at all! It's just... it's been a bit frustrating to have had to wait this long to be able to author a horror adventure for the game I've been working on for the past 15 years or so...


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I recently commissioned an artist to draw my first Pathfinder character (even though I don't know when I will end up at the player side of the game) and after seeing the first sketches I'm soooo excited!
That made wonder who was the first character of your homebrew that got artwork for Pathfinder and how did you feel about seeing your creation "come to life"?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Nobunyaga wrote:

I recently commissioned an artist to draw my first Pathfinder character (even though I don't know when I will end up at the player side of the game) and after seeing the first sketches I'm soooo excited!

That made wonder who was the first character of your homebrew that got artwork for Pathfinder and how did you feel about seeing your creation "come to life"?

For Pathfinder, that would have been Ameiko, but it wasn't until Wayne illustrated her for the cover of Pathfinder #49 that she "came to life" for me.

For Paizo, it was Shensen, back in the Dungeon magazine era before she got reincarnated and was still a drow. As with Ameiko, though, Wayne's version of her is my favorite.


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Looking forward to your adventure! How is Kingmaker progressing? Haven’t heard any updates since Paizocon.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Duskreign wrote:
Looking forward to your adventure! How is Kingmaker progressing? Haven’t heard any updates since Paizocon.

We'll have an update soon on the blog on Kingmaker's progress. I wrote it last week and turned it over for prep for the blog but I don't know when it's scheduled to go live.


A friend and I have are having a small argument over the Kobold Bloodline, and whether or not you need to be a Kobold/Human with Racial Heritage (Kobold) in order to take it with Eldritch Heritage. Can we get your thoughts?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Bionikler wrote:
A friend and I have are having a small argument over the Kobold Bloodline, and whether or not you need to be a Kobold/Human with Racial Heritage (Kobold) in order to take it with Eldritch Heritage. Can we get your thoughts?

As your GM and go with their ruling. Rules questions like these need to either be answered by your GM, or addressed by the Design team.


How much would Norgorber be opposed to infighting between his followers?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Kaladin_Stormblessed wrote:
How much would Norgorber be opposed to infighting between his followers?

Not at all.


Mild Strange Aeons spoiler:
I loved your design for the Necril Necronomicon (Necrilnomicon) in Strange Aeons. Are there any other eldritch tomes you'd like to explore in similar detail?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Brissan wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Not in that great extent of detail, since that's a pretty special topic, but now and then there'll be a new spooky in-world book popping up. One, for example, gets introduced in Abomination Vaults coming up in January...


What is your favourite lovecraftian god?


Have you watched breaking bad? If so, whats your opinion of it?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Zarcrod wrote:
What is your favourite lovecraftian god?

Hastur.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Zarcrod wrote:
Have you watched breaking bad? If so, whats your opinion of it?

I have. It's one of the best TV shows of all time.

Radiant Oath

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Does the Inner Sea region have any native species of skunks, or is it safe to assume any skunks encountered there were brought over from Arcadia?

I like the idea of playing a druid with a skunk for an animal companion, but not if they'd be considered an invasive species in Avistan...


Thanks for the answer!

More specifically, would it be unusual for a cleric of Norgorber to uphold the Promises of Vyre?

Grand Lodge

James, I have a 1e monster design question for you.

"Creatures with a fly speed treat the Fly skill as a class skill."
"Constructs do not have any class skills, regardless of their Intelligence scores."

If you create an intelligent construct with a fly speed, and then put ranks into the Fly skill, does it count Fly as a class skill?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Kaladin_Stormblessed wrote:

Thanks for the answer!

More specifically, would it be unusual for a cleric of Norgorber to uphold the Promises of Vyre?

Vyre is arguably the ground-zero of Norgorber's cult in the Inner Sea region, and as such, the Promises are likely there because of the faith, so no, it wouldn't be unusual at all.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

Does the Inner Sea region have any native species of skunks, or is it safe to assume any skunks encountered there were brought over from Arcadia?

I like the idea of playing a druid with a skunk for an animal companion, but not if they'd be considered an invasive species in Avistan...

There are skunks native to the Inner Sea region.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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kevin_video wrote:

James, I have a 1e monster design question for you.

"Creatures with a fly speed treat the Fly skill as a class skill."
"Constructs do not have any class skills, regardless of their Intelligence scores."

If you create an intelligent construct with a fly speed, and then put ranks into the Fly skill, does it count Fly as a class skill?

If the construct is intelligent, then yes. It doesn't gain class skills from being a construct, but it does gain Fly as a class skill once it learns to fly.

Silver Crusade

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With Versatile Heritages unleashed (upon some us anyway), have you given any thought on making an Aberrant Blood line of feat choices like what was in Lords of Madness?

I know we're getting Fleshwarps as an option later but it's not quite the same (unless it is).

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Rysky wrote:

With Versatile Heritages unleashed (upon some us anyway), have you given any thought on making an Aberrant Blood line of feat choices like what was in Lords of Madness?

I know we're getting Fleshwarps as an option later but it's not quite the same (unless it is).

Fleshwarps fill that niche for strange distorted character options in a way that's a million times more elegant into the setting's world lore than the setting-neutral aberrant bloodline feats I desinged for Lords of Madness were. It's a HUGE advantage, creatively, to have an expected world to build rules content for. For me, at least. Designing content that has to be "usable in any setting" is super frustrating for me.

Silver Crusade

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James Jacobs wrote:
Rysky wrote:

With Versatile Heritages unleashed (upon some us anyway), have you given any thought on making an Aberrant Blood line of feat choices like what was in Lords of Madness?

I know we're getting Fleshwarps as an option later but it's not quite the same (unless it is).

Fleshwarps fill that niche for strange distorted character options in a way that's a million times more elegant into the setting's world lore than the setting-neutral aberrant bloodline feats I desinged for Lords of Madness were. It's a HUGE advantage, creatively, to have an expected world to build rules content for. For me, at least. Designing content that has to be "usable in any setting" is super frustrating for me.

Ah, my apologies, I wasn't asking for a world neutral option, but heritage options resembling those cool abilities, whether one of your ancestors had a thing for something with tentacles or you or your parent was touched by eldritch powers beyond your/their keening (fear the old blood...)


Hey James!

What is your view of polytheism in Golarion? The way I imagine it after reading the published material is the following:

Ordinary people are full polytheists, in that they pray to a different deity according to their current need (Desna for good dreams, Pharasma when a child is born, Erastil for good hunting, etc.) with no particular preference for any specific deity.

Clerics and other religion-themed individuals (champions, priests, etc.) tend to focus on a single god (sometimes even a single aspect of it) or a pantheon, in the sense that they devote their lives to those gods or aspects.
But I think they still believe in other gods: a cleric of Iomedae may not like Asmodeus, but I think they would for sure recognize it as a true god, although probably never praying for his favor or helping his faith. And the same cleric may still pray to Pharasma when their child is about to be born, or thank Sarenrae when the sun appears after days of rain.

Is that picture close to yours? What would you change about it? Are clerics still polytheists, or they tend to focus on their god exclusively?

And bonus question: how pervasive is religion in the Inner Sea region, by design? Is the common folk deeply religious as in the Middle Ages or the Early Modern period, or a bit more like today, when finding people completely uninterested in religion is not so rare and those interested in religions are just a part of the population?

Thanks in advance!


James Jacobs wrote:
Rysky wrote:

With Versatile Heritages unleashed (upon some us anyway), have you given any thought on making an Aberrant Blood line of feat choices like what was in Lords of Madness?

I know we're getting Fleshwarps as an option later but it's not quite the same (unless it is).

Fleshwarps fill that niche for strange distorted character options in a way that's a million times more elegant into the setting's world lore than the setting-neutral aberrant bloodline feats I desinged for Lords of Madness were. It's a HUGE advantage, creatively, to have an expected world to build rules content for. For me, at least. Designing content that has to be "usable in any setting" is super frustrating for me.

Mr. James Jacobs,

In which book are the Fleshwarps going to appear?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

GM Giuseppe wrote:

Hey James!

What is your view of polytheism in Golarion? The way I imagine it after reading the published material is the following:

Ordinary people are full polytheists, in that they pray to a different deity according to their current need (Desna for good dreams, Pharasma when a child is born, Erastil for good hunting, etc.) with no particular preference for any specific deity.

Clerics and other religion-themed individuals (champions, priests, etc.) tend to focus on a single god (sometimes even a single aspect of it) or a pantheon, in the sense that they devote their lives to those gods or aspects.
But I think they still believe in other gods: a cleric of Iomedae may not like Asmodeus, but I think they would for sure recognize it as a true god, although probably never praying for his favor or helping his faith. And the same cleric may still pray to Pharasma when their child is about to be born, or thank Sarenrae when the sun appears after days of rain.

Is that picture close to yours? What would you change about it? Are clerics still polytheists, or they tend to focus on their god exclusively?

And bonus question: how pervasive is religion in the Inner Sea region, by design? Is the common folk deeply religious as in the Middle Ages or the Early Modern period, or a bit more like today, when finding people completely uninterested in religion is not so rare and those interested in religions are just a part of the population?

Thanks in advance!

Polytheism is a big part of Golarion, and religion is a big part of the Inner Sea region, but it's not unusual to find people completely uninterested in religion. Among PCs that is going to map to your particular group's preferences and that's not something we control, of course, but among NPCs, the general assumption is that they are religious and have some sort of faith, if not in a single deity, then in a group of them or in some sort of religion. Remember that in Golarion, there are clerics and druids and divine sorcerers and champions and plenty of examples of divine magic out there.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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The NPC wrote:

Mr. James Jacobs,

In which book are the Fleshwarps going to appear?

I assume you're asking about the PC ancestry (not the monsters, which already appeared in Bestiary 1 and Bestiary 2); they'll be in Lost Omens Ancestry Guide early next year.


Hey JJ!

About Velstracs: do they mainly speak Infernal or Shadowtongue? What's their "1st language", and do their names come from it? I read in the SF adventure Heart of Night by Saif Ansari that they see Shadowtongue as too young and insignificant to really get into, so should they default to Infernal? Wouldn't that mean their names are in Infernal as well? Same for rakshasa, I think their main language is Infernal, so their names are probably in Infernal as well?

I'm trying to gather words from various languages to give myself and my players a good idea of how they sound, so any help would be much appreciated!


So I noticed that demon descended tieflings are called Pitborn, which confused me, since I thought "The Pit" was Hell. So how did demon descended tieflings come by that appellation?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Roswynn wrote:

Hey JJ!

About Velstracs: do they mainly speak Infernal or Shadowtongue? What's their "1st language", and do their names come from it? I read in the SF adventure Heart of Night by Saif Ansari that they see Shadowtongue as too young and insignificant to really get into, so should they default to Infernal? Wouldn't that mean their names are in Infernal as well? Same for rakshasa, I think their main language is Infernal, so their names are probably in Infernal as well?

I'm trying to gather words from various languages to give myself and my players a good idea of how they sound, so any help would be much appreciated!

Shadowtongue is their language, but since that was a Golarion language in 1st edition and not a Core language we had to fake it in 1st edition. In 2nd edition, us using Golarion in the core setting let us correct this, so that now Shadowtongue is the official language of the Shadow Plane, and as such, is the native language for velstracs. We kept Infernal on their list mostly for backwards compatibility reasons.

That said, Starfinder's handled by a different team with a different Creative Director, so you'll see some differences now and then between the settings, especially since Starfinder built its world lore from 1st edition content.

So, for your game, feel free to choose whatever you prefer.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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SOLDIER-1st wrote:
So I noticed that demon descended tieflings are called Pitborn, which confused me, since I thought "The Pit" was Hell. So how did demon descended tieflings come by that appellation?

Because of a mistake way back when; it can be tricky and confusing for some folks to keep in mind that demons are in the Abyss and devils are in Hell and so on.

We should have called demon tieflings "Riftborn," I suppose. Maybe, if we remember this and if I'm still around for it, when/if we get to a 3rd edition we'll make that change. The ship's sailed for now, though.


Is the Order of the Dragon's Aid Allies a replacement effect that would negate any other Aid Another replacement (like the Halfling Helpful trait)?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Tigrium wrote:
Is the Order of the Dragon's Aid Allies a replacement effect that would negate any other Aid Another replacement (like the Halfling Helpful trait)?

I have no idea what you're talking about. Is this something from the Advanced Player's Guide? Is it a 1st edition or 2nd edition rules question? Looking at it a bit more, I assume it's 1st edition since "Aid Another" is called "Aid" in 2nd edition...

In any event, nitty-gritty rules questions like this aren't things I can answer here. They need to be asked on the product page or in the rules forum, where the Design team can see them. Sorry.


Mr. James Jacobs,

In your estimation what would a CG god/demigod of destruction look/act like?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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The NPC wrote:

Mr. James Jacobs,

In your estimation what would a CG god/demigod of destruction look/act like?

Like a Chaotic Neutral one.

Destruction, to me, isn't a good thing. It's a chaotic thing, for sure, but destroying things tends to hurt more than it helps, so it's more along the evil side of that axis than good.

If I were told to create a good deity who granted the destruction domain to their worshipers, and my advice was overruled and I wasn't given an option other than to follow orders, I guess I'd build a Chaotic Good deity similar to Milani, but lean in hard on her element of crusading against lawful evil societies and working hard to bring them down. But I'd also temper that element with a very strong theme of her providing protection and shelter to the innocents who would inevitably get caught in the crossfire of such a tactic. And then I'd have to steel myself for the entire internet backseat designing/developing the choices made to justify it.

It wouldn't be worth the trouble, in my opinion.


James Jacobs wrote:
The NPC wrote:

Mr. James Jacobs,

In your estimation what would a CG god/demigod of destruction look/act like?

Like a Chaotic Neutral one.

Destruction, to me, isn't a good thing. It's a chaotic thing, for sure, but destroying things tends to hurt more than it helps, so it's more along the evil side of that axis than good.

If I were told to create a good deity who granted the destruction domain to their worshipers, and my advice was overruled and I wasn't given an option other than to follow orders, I guess I'd build a Chaotic Good deity similar to Milani, but lean in hard on her element of crusading against lawful evil societies and working hard to bring them down. But I'd also temper that element with a very strong theme of her providing protection and shelter to the innocents who would inevitably get caught in the crossfire of such a tactic. And then I'd have to steel myself for the entire internet backseat designing/developing the choices made to justify it.

It wouldn't be worth the trouble, in my opinion.

Interesting. Thank you.


James Jacobs wrote:

Shadowtongue is their language, but since that was a Golarion language in 1st edition and not a Core language we had to fake it in 1st edition. In 2nd edition, us using Golarion in the core setting let us correct this, so that now Shadowtongue is the official language of the Shadow Plane, and as such, is the native language for velstracs. We kept Infernal on their list mostly for backwards compatibility reasons.

That said, Starfinder's handled by a different team with a different Creative Director, so you'll see some differences now and then between the settings, especially since Starfinder built its world lore from 1st edition content.

So, for your game, feel free to choose whatever you prefer.

Thanks JJ, Shadowtongue for Velstracs sounds great!

I have another question, but this is complicated.

I've noticed many creatures in the bestiary are given an evil alignment, described as totally despicable in various flavors, and left at that. Why did Paizo choose this approach and what can a GM do to change it at least a bit?

I'll give you an example: gnolls are statted as CE, but when you read their description you find out many aren't, actually, so it obviously depends on the gnolls your GM is having you face - it sounds like a cultural matter tied to what clan you're from. Ogres on the other hand are statted as CE and their whole bit is how they're completely horrible bullies and torturers, all of them stupid and astoundingly mean, etc. Many creatures have had this treatment - lamias, chromatic dragons, trolls...

First off I don't understand why the Bestiaries don't explain anything about the alignments as statted. I guess most creatures only tend towards a certain alignment but can deviate - after all even demons can be redeemed, right? So labeling whole species as evil is more of a shortcut I guess?

And secondarily, when the Bestiary talks about how ogres are these completely immoral beings, why is that so? Why some creatures are almost always a certain alignment (not talking about extraplanar beings here) - is it in their genes, and does that mean we should commit a genocide to free Golarion from those evil races? Is it their culture, and is it so monolithic that they don't have even half the variety seen in humans, not even that of dwarves, elves, halflings, gnomes, goblins? If gnolls can be varied in their alignment why not other creatures too, right in the Bestiaries, and why keep evil races almost unaltered from 1st edition even when Paizo could give a much more nuanced portrayal of old classics and folkloric and mythic beings? Is it really that *all* ogres are required to be sadistic torturers to tell a certain kind of horror story?

This was probably a doozy but I hope you won't be angry at me. This kind of thoughts are really bugging me as of late and I'd like to know your stance on this.

Thank you again.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Roswynn wrote:

I've noticed many creatures in the bestiary are given an evil alignment, described as totally despicable in various flavors, and left at that. Why did Paizo choose this approach and what can a GM do to change it at least a bit?

I'll give you an example: gnolls are statted as CE, but when you read their description you find out many aren't, actually, so it obviously depends on the gnolls your GM is having you face - it sounds like a cultural matter tied to what clan you're from. Ogres on the other hand are statted as CE and their whole bit is how they're completely horrible bullies and torturers, all of them stupid and astoundingly mean, etc. Many creatures have had this treatment - lamias, chromatic dragons, trolls...

First off I don't understand why the Bestiaries don't explain anything about the alignments as statted. I guess most creatures only tend towards a certain alignment but can deviate - after all even demons can be redeemed, right? So labeling whole species as evil is more of a shortcut I guess?

And secondarily, when the Bestiary talks about how ogres are these completely immoral beings, why is that so? Why some creatures are almost always a certain alignment (not talking about extraplanar beings here) - is it in their genes, and does that mean we should commit a genocide to free Golarion from those evil races? Is it their culture, and is it so monolithic that they don't have even half the variety seen in humans, not even that of dwarves, elves, halflings, gnomes, goblins? If gnolls can be varied in their alignment why not other creatures too, right in the Bestiaries, and why keep evil races almost unaltered from 1st edition even when Paizo could give a much more nuanced portrayal of old classics and folkloric and mythic beings? Is it really that *all* ogres are required to be sadistic torturers to tell a certain kind of horror story?

All alignments listed for creatures in any Bestiary list the typical alignment for that creature. The GM can change those whenever they want.

Gnolls in Pathfinder are intended to play an evil role—they're demon worshipers and slavers, and as such are typically chaotic evil. A gnoll can be any alignment, but one that's not chaotic evil is not a typical gnoll monster. Ogres are awful creatures, and we lean into that (with their classical mythological lore of being such); the word itself is a real-world word that has a definition of " a monster in fairy tales and popular legend, usually represented as a hideous giant who feeds on human flesh" or "a monstrously ugly, cruel, or barbarous person" (using the definitions from dictionary.com). As such, an ogre monster needs to epitomize those features in order for the word to retain it's meaning. If we wanted to do a non-evil version of something like this, we would use a different word entirely.

Pathfinder is, at its core, a game that simulates combat, and that means there needs to be a wide range of things for your player characters to fight, and that means that presenting a wide range of creatures that are presented as things that you SHOULD fight if you want to protect things or be heroes is important.

We, you, or anyone else can certainly tell a story about a non-evil ogre (although the implication that "old classics and folklore are 'nuanced' is a bit disingenuous, in my opinion—those stories are often things people told to try to understand evil and awful things in the world, not to explore the psychology of what is or isn't evil), if there's no baseline that "ogres are typically evil," then your story about a non-evil ogre loses a lot of its compelling elements. To take it down analogy lane... a story about a flying bird is boring. A story about a flying elephant is not. It's the exceptions to the norm that make stories about exceptions worth telling. The story about Shrek is fundamentally flawed and less interesting if there wasn't an element of "ogres are monsters" to build off of.

We could have simply cut the alignment line entirely from the book, sure, but that removes a key element of the monster's role in the made-up world that we're presenting to you to use in your games. And that's a disservice to storytelling, in my opinion.

When we take a creature from a Bestairy and present it as a player character ancestry, THAT is the time where we get into the details and nuances of how they're not simply always the same thing. Alternately, presenting a multi-page entry for a creature in an ecology format article, such as in a Pathfinder Adventure Path or a "Monsters Revisited" style book gives us room to explore their culture and society. In a monster bestiary (whose PRIMARY PURPOSE is to give you, the GM, rules for things that the PCs can fight against), where we often have fewer words than this messageboard post (and often fewer words than in this paragraph) to say every non-rule-thing we want to say about the monster, leaning on the alignment is a necessary shortcut for us to present the creature's baseline world lore without having to cut it out entirely.

Looking back at your note on gnolls vs. ogres... Gnolls are a creature we already knew that there was an interest in having a player-character ancestry option for, and they're the right size and shape to make good PC ancestries, and we knew at the time that some day we were going to do a PC ancestry for them, so we devoted some of the bit of space we had to pointing out that there are exceptions. Ogres, on the other hand, are NOT an appropriate PC ancestry due to the fact that they're so big and inhumanly strong, and we haven't seen much of an interest in PC ogres, and we aren't really interested in making them into a PC ancestry, so we didn't want to spend some of our limited text resources talking about how some ogres are not evil.

Feel free to change a monster's alignment however you wish in your games to make them fit your world better. You have the advantage of only being limited by your time and interest in exploring that creature's subtleties; you don't have to get everything you want to say about it into a single short paragraph.


If Sandpoint had a background music track/leitmotif, what would it be?


James Jacobs wrote:

All alignments listed for creatures in any Bestiary list the typical alignment for that creature. The GM can change those whenever they want.

Gnolls in Pathfinder are intended to play an evil role—they're demon worshipers and slavers, and as such are typically chaotic evil. A gnoll can be any alignment, but one that's not chaotic evil is not a typical gnoll monster. Ogres are awful creatures, and we lean into that (with their classical mythological lore of being such); the word itself is a real-world word that has a definition of " a monster in fairy tales and popular legend, usually represented as a hideous giant who feeds on human flesh" or "a monstrously ugly, cruel, or barbarous person" (using the definitions from dictionary.com). As such, an ogre monster needs to epitomize those features in order for the word to retain it's meaning. If we wanted to do a non-evil version of something like this, we would use a different word entirely.

Pathfinder is, at its core, a game that simulates combat, and that means there needs to be a wide range of things for your player characters to fight, and that means that presenting a wide range of creatures that are presented as things that you SHOULD fight if you want to protect things or be heroes is important.

We, you, or anyone else can certainly tell a story about a non-evil ogre (although the implication that "old classics and folklore are 'nuanced' is a bit disingenuous, in my opinion—those stories are often things people told to try to understand evil and awful things in the world, not to explore the psychology of what is or isn't evil), if there's no baseline that "ogres are typically evil," then your story about a non-evil ogre loses a lot of its compelling elements. To take it down analogy lane... a story about a flying bird is boring. A story about a flying elephant is not. It's the exceptions to the norm that make stories about exceptions worth telling. The story about Shrek is fundamentally flawed and less interesting if there wasn't an element of "ogres are monsters" to build off of.

We could have simply cut the alignment line entirely from the book, sure, but that removes a key element of the monster's role in the made-up world that we're presenting to you to use in your games. And that's a disservice to storytelling, in my opinion.

When we take a creature from a Bestairy and present it as a player character ancestry, THAT is the time where we get into the details and nuances of how they're not simply always the same thing. Alternately, presenting a multi-page entry for a creature in an ecology format article, such as in a Pathfinder Adventure Path or a "Monsters Revisited" style book gives us room to explore their culture and society. In a monster bestiary (whose PRIMARY PURPOSE is to give you, the GM, rules for things that the PCs can fight against), where we often have fewer words than this messageboard post (and often fewer words than in this paragraph) to say every non-rule-thing we want to say about the monster, leaning on the alignment is a necessary shortcut for us to present the creature's baseline world lore without having to cut it out entirely.

Looking back at your note on gnolls vs. ogres... Gnolls are a creature we already knew that there was an interest in having a player-character ancestry option for, and they're the right size and shape to make good PC ancestries, and we knew at the time that some day we were going to do a PC ancestry for them, so we devoted some of the bit of space we had to pointing out that there are exceptions. Ogres, on the other hand, are NOT an appropriate PC ancestry due to the fact that they're so big and inhumanly strong, and we haven't seen much of an interest in PC ogres, and we aren't really interested in making them into a PC ancestry, so we didn't want to spend some of our limited text resources talking about how some ogres are not evil.

Feel free to change a monster's alignment however you wish in your games to make them fit your world better. You have the advantage of only being limited by your time and interest in exploring that creature's subtleties; you don't have to get everything you want to say about it into a single short paragraph.

Okay, sorry, I must have not explained myself clearly: I wasn't saying the "old classics", or folklore or mythic monsters, were *nuanced*. I was saying that Paizo and other companies in this day and age could be able to portray those "monsters" in a more nuanced light.

Just to clarify.

Okay, next question: don't you think this view of "monster races", i.e. ogres, gnolls, etc, all monolithically evil, mostly savage, barbaric, horrifying, opposed to goodly civilization etc, replicates colonialist ideologies employed to justify the subjugation and genocide of whole peoples?

I ask in good faith. I think they do and that makes me terribly uneasy when I have to explain gnolls to my players or think about some ogres' motivations, but I'm finding ways to unf$@@ the game in my head (like giving everyone a name, making everyone a person, giving them thoughts, aspirations, sense of humor, feelings, aesthetics, beliefs, having them negotiate, having them run away or yield, showing the consequences of violence, focusing on what the characters are feeling...).

I generally like the Lost Omens setting. And the APs. So I'm trying to make it work, even though it requires effort. I just like Paizo's work very much, and feel like I want to do this.

Although, if later on monstrous races stop being mostly savage brutes out to destroy civilization, and don't become goodly monstrous kingdoms nor noble savages, but functioning, complex, internally diverse societies (and not just collections of near-identical tribes at war with each other)... I would love that kind of book. Even if it contained a lot less creatures.

But I don't think that's the direction you're going with the Bestiaries. Although it should be explored more often, I think, at more length.

As long as we have races of monsters to fight, because they're evil monsters... we're doing nothing Tolkien didn't, and I'm not sure we wanna be stuck in that time period regarding depictions of the foreign and characterizations of what's "evil".

You know, I ask you these things, because on one hand I see the model Paizo is following of course, and it's very successful, but on the other you guys always try to promote diversity in everything you can, which is so admirable. So maybe... it would be possible to avoid evil races to fight and focus more on evil factions, like in most of Age of Ashes (and many other APs!).

Also, when my players roll a Recall Knowledge I'm always struggling with how to tell them a whole species behaves a certain way - that doesn't seem conducive to good storytelling to me. If you have any suggestions about this, too, I'd be happy as a clam.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Brissan wrote:
If Sandpoint had a background music track/leitmotif, what would it be?

Hmmmmmm... probably something calm and idyllic with wind instruments.

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