Is Golarion Scientifically and Philosophically Problematic?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Silver Crusade

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

After kind of starting an argument with James Jacobs on the possibilities of inter-religious conflict in Sarenrae's faith, I just started to realize that re-reading some of my Pathfinder books has given me some incredible cognitive dissonance.

On the topic of inter-religious strife, James Jacobs stated that with the current crop of warmongering Sarenites in Qadira, some of them would be bound to Hell or Abaddon because while they worship Sarenrae, they employ methods grossly out of line with her ethos, something that may or may not become the topic of an upcoming AP.

I personally believe that such a conflict shouldn't theoretically be possible in a fantasy universe where the gods really do exist and speak to their followers. The primary reason that we have religious schisms and conflicts in real life is because each religion believes they have the one true version of the truth, and that because those truths come from texts written by fallible men and visions that are indistinguishable from hallucinations or magician's tricks. This video by L. Aron Nelson AKA AronRa explains this issue a lot better and concisely than I can. Golarion shouldn't HAVE that problem, as any high-level wizard can cast plane-shift and hear Sarenrae speak her word directly, and without filter. In addition, how can people whose behavior is heretical to Sarenrae cast spells from her? You must be within 1 step of your deity's alignment. Being Neutral Good, the only options for Sarenites are Lawful Good, Neutral Good, and Chaotic Good. And if a cleric of Sarenrae shifted to Evil, Sarenrae should immediately revoke his spellcasting ability as punishment. If most leaders in a deity's church have levels of the cleric class, that should ensure orthodoxy at least in regards to being Good.

In a somewhat related term, how the heck does the process of evolution work in a world where there are mythical monsters created by magic? The only races that couldn't have a basal form on Golarion should be gnomes and elves because they're from other planets or planes, but dwarves, humans, orcs, halflings, etc. should have evolved from a basal form given their similarities. Besides that, how should dinosaurs have continued to remain in response to environmental pressures from events like Earthfall, the magical wars between Nex and Geb, or the formation of the Eye of Abendego? Or in response to more constant things like the presence of supernatural predators, or the problems introduced by undeath? Evolution is the most consistently proven scientific theory in our world, and if there are creatures on Golarion that exist here on Earth, it should follow that they evolved in the same way, but given the way magic completely alters any such variables, evolution could not have produced the same kinds of creatures. Outsiders and alien creatures and things like that can be explained away, but that doesn't explain the presence of things as simple as cats or certain species of plant.


Could they not worship sanerae but really be getting their power from elsewhere?


For me Abadar and slavery are very problematic from the philosophical point of view.

Silver Crusade

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Arssanguinus wrote:
Could they not worship sanerae but really be getting their power from elsewhere?

I'm not sure. It doesn't seem like that's what James Jacobs was implying.

Liberty's Edge

Arssanguinus wrote:
Could they not worship sanerae but really be getting their power from elsewhere?

This.

Just because you think it's Sarenrae granting you your spells, doesn't mean that it is...

Liberty's Edge

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
You must be within 1 step of your deity's alignment. Being Neutral Good, the only options for Sarenites are Lawful Good, Neutral Good, and Chaotic Good.

Wouldn't Neutral also be an option? It's one step from Neutral Good.

Silver Crusade

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Heymitch wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
You must be within 1 step of your deity's alignment. Being Neutral Good, the only options for Sarenites are Lawful Good, Neutral Good, and Chaotic Good.
Wouldn't Neutral also be an option? It's one step from Neutral Good.

Neutral people still wouldn't commit or endorse acts like torture and encouraging the killing of innocents for religious reasons. These Sarenites are trying to start a war between Qadira and Taldor, believing Qadira will win and install a Sarenite theocracy in a nation that had the impudence to ban the worship of their goddess. That seems evil in my book. You wouldn't be bound for an evil plane of existence when you die if it weren't.

Liberty's Edge

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
You must be within 1 step of your deity's alignment. Being Neutral Good, the only options for Sarenites are Lawful Good, Neutral Good, and Chaotic Good.
Heymitch wrote:
Wouldn't Neutral also be an option? It's one step from Neutral Good.
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Neutral people still wouldn't commit or endorse acts like torture and encouraging the killing of innocents for religious reasons. These Sarenites are trying to start a war between Qadira and Taldor, believing Qadira will win and install a Sarenite theocracy in a nation that had the impudence to ban the worship of their goddess. That seems evil in my book. You wouldn't be bound for an evil plane of existence when you die if it weren't.

Yeah. I never said they would. I'm pretty sure I just said that it was an option you didn't list.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Heymitch wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
You must be within 1 step of your deity's alignment. Being Neutral Good, the only options for Sarenites are Lawful Good, Neutral Good, and Chaotic Good.
Wouldn't Neutral also be an option? It's one step from Neutral Good.
Neutral people still wouldn't commit or endorse acts like torture and encouraging the killing of innocents for religious reasons. These Sarenites are trying to start a war between Qadira and Taldor, believing Qadira will win and install a Sarenite theocracy in a nation that had the impudence to ban the worship of their goddess. That seems evil in my book. You wouldn't be bound for an evil plane of existence when you die if it weren't.

There's the problem. Never did I say that there are Sarenites who endorse torture or killing. It's not that black and white. The situation in Qadira is more complicated than "mustache-twirling evil bad guys" pulling the strings of the faith from behind the scenes.

What I am saying is that the burgeoning schism in the church of Sarenrae in Qadira is more or less a setup for one possible Adventure Path in the future, where more information will be revealed. If such an Adventure Path ever comes to be.

As for the questions about evolution... well, it's kind of a cop out, bu the existence of magic on Golarion means a lot of things that don't necessarily make sense to us in a society of technology and science are fine and dandy.


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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
On the topic of inter-religious strife, James Jacobs stated that with the current crop of warmongering Sarenites in Qadira, some of them would be bound to Hell or Abaddon because while they worship Sarenrae, they employ methods grossly out of line with her ethos, something that may or may not become the topic of an upcoming AP.

I also find that problematic. Golarion's alignment system is clearly rooted in C21st progressive American values. However, if you want to represent traditional non-Western values or even historic Western values (i.e. Europe a few hundred or more years ago), then those automatically get labelled as evil because they contradict ours in numerous ways.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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I go into this more over on the "Ask James" thread where this discussion started, but part of the problem is that early authrors/developers for Taldor and Qadira basically "Got Sarenrae wrong" to a certain extent, and by the time I realized it, it was too late. And the schism elements now mentioned in the Inner Sea World Guide are an attempt to repair and explain the situation, but the full exploration of the "truth" will need to wait until a future prodcut where we can go into it in more detail.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Jeven wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
On the topic of inter-religious strife, James Jacobs stated that with the current crop of warmongering Sarenites in Qadira, some of them would be bound to Hell or Abaddon because while they worship Sarenrae, they employ methods grossly out of line with her ethos, something that may or may not become the topic of an upcoming AP.
I also find that problematic. Golarion's alignment system is clearly rooted in C21st progressive American values. However, if you want to represent traditional non-Western values or even historic Western values (i.e. Europe a few hundred or more years ago), then those automatically get labelled as evil because they contradict ours in numerous ways.

That's the thing, though... Golarion is not and never was intended to be a model of real-world history. It's a fantasy setting that takes SOME inspiration from medieval history, some from ancient history, some from recent history, and some from modern day issues, resulting in a setting that is very much a child of the modern era despite the fact that it's a fantasy setting.

Silver Crusade

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James Jacobs wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Heymitch wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
You must be within 1 step of your deity's alignment. Being Neutral Good, the only options for Sarenites are Lawful Good, Neutral Good, and Chaotic Good.
Wouldn't Neutral also be an option? It's one step from Neutral Good.
Neutral people still wouldn't commit or endorse acts like torture and encouraging the killing of innocents for religious reasons. These Sarenites are trying to start a war between Qadira and Taldor, believing Qadira will win and install a Sarenite theocracy in a nation that had the impudence to ban the worship of their goddess. That seems evil in my book. You wouldn't be bound for an evil plane of existence when you die if it weren't.

There's the problem. Never did I say that there are Sarenites who endorse torture or killing. It's not that black and white. The situation in Qadira is more complicated than "mustache-twirling evil bad guys" pulling the strings of the faith from behind the scenes.

What I am saying is that the burgeoning schism in the church of Sarenrae in Qadira is more or less a setup for one possible Adventure Path in the future, where more information will be revealed. If such an Adventure Path ever comes to be.

As for the questions about evolution... well, it's kind of a cop out, bu the existence of magic on Golarion means a lot of things that don't necessarily make sense to us in a society of technology and science are fine and dandy.

Upon closer examination of your responses I must say...you are right. Nowhere did you say their endorsement of war meant they were going to Hell or Abaddon for their actions. I am guilty of projecting my own misconceptions onto your work and I am very sorry.

Though now I have even more fodder for that Shoanti Sarenite I've been mulling over. Maybe he could be "getting it wrong" the same way, his ingrained hatred of Korvosans juxtaposed with the fact that his goddess says he should let that anger go.

And as for the evolution bit, yeah, I figured that's what you'd say. It's pretty much the only logical answer to such a conundrum. Most of evolution's predicated on the idea that magic doesn't exist. In a world where magic DOES exist? Well it's basically replaced the laws of nature, and is in effect that world's science. Maybe ancient wizards created cats or something...or perhaps cats found their way to Golarion through portals many years ago.

I'm starting to feel pretty stupid, like these posts were me trying to rationalize my love of Pathfinder's storylines with my own emerging atheism, despite the odd fact that the majority of my characters tend to be paladins and clerics.


Evolution: Bringing goblorcs, bugblins and bugborcs to a city near you!

Contributor

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There's really no problem in having a scientific cornerstone like evolution in place even if there are things that violate it. It's like the world having gravity, another scientific cornerstone, which is usually obeyed except when it isn't.

Some things defy gravity because they're magic. Likewise, some things defy evolution because they're magic. So elves and humans evolved on different planets and shouldn't logically be able to interbreed despite convergent evolution to highly similar forms. Then you get Calistria, patroness of the elves, who's also a goddess of lust when she isn't doing trickery. If she wants love children with these hot human creatures with their exotic unpointed ears and mysterious round eyes? Okay, she violates evolution. Whatever.

Silver Crusade

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And Torag doesn't want his dwarves intermixing with those oversized klutzes called humans so he violates evolution to ensure they can't mix despite covergent forms? XD

Dark Archive

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I could see followers of Saranrae, goddess of honesty, redemption, healing, etc., one of the settings most unvarnished 'good' gods, perceiving a nation that bans her worship as being philosophically opposed to everything she stands for, including goodness, honesty, mercy, etc. and in danger of surrendering fully to evil. Making war with such a people, while regrettable, might be seen as the only way to overturn this ban, and save the souls of an entire nation from whatever evil is causing them to turn against the redeemer's message.

It's trivially easy to justify taking over a nation that has outlawed the worship of a good goddess, and overturning that ban, and saving the souls of hundreds of thousands of people, could be seen as a net good thing, even if the necessary war could result in many deaths (including many followers of Sarenrae, from Qadira, crusading into Taldor to bring her faith and message back, willing to give their own lives to potentially save so many more).

As one of the notable faiths of Taldor includes that of Norgorber, who could be seen as the NE god of deception, to NG Sarenrae's god of truth, the shadow to her light, followers of Sarenrae in Qadira might blame the machinations of the church of Norgorber for the extreme persecution of their own co-religionists in Taldor, thus making the Taldor / Qadira conflict, in their mind, a very literal battle between good and evil, and therefore a righteous and justified thing. The fact that *some* followers of Norgorber may very well have been involved in the ban, or, at the least, it's enforcement, with Norgorberite agents ratting out hidden pockets of Sarenrite faith and leading the anti-Sarenraen inquisition to their door, and cheerfully supplying wood for the pyres on which they'll burn, doesn't help, and indeed, when revealed, only fans the flames of righteousness in the hearts of the Qadiran Sarenraens.

If Norgorber cares at all about this nonsense, he may actually be fanning those flames himself, by having his followers spread tales of secret 'cults' of Sarenrae worshippers in Taldor being smoked out and / or tortured and / or executed, with whatever level of embellishment seems appropriate to rile up the Qadiran co-religionists on the other side of the border, because the more followers of Ms. Mercy & Redemption surrender to red rage and bloody-minded retribution, the sorts of things that appeal to a god of Secrets and Murder, the better.

But it would be easy enough to happen all by itself, without Norgorber lifting a finger, human nature being what it is.

Thanks to the existence of oracles and adepts and druids and rangers and whatnot, it's entirely possible for a small group of Sarenraens to be totally unaware that they have fallen out of favor with their goddess and her tenets, since their local 'priest' was never a cleric in the first place.

As for why Sarenrae, or any god, would allow any of their followers to be 'wrong' about something? Free will, I guess. I suspect if it was possible to magically dominate one's entire church, so that nobody ever got anything wrong, gods like Asmodeus would already be doing that, and his buddy Geryon, the Archdevil of Heresy, would be out of a job...

Silver Crusade

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Set wrote:
As for why Sarenrae, or any god, would allow any of their followers to be 'wrong' about something? Free will, I guess.

If the myth of Ihys is to be believed, this could very well be the big sticking point for her in particular. Especially since she'd want to prove that Ihys was right and Asmodeus was wrong about the whole free will thing. :)

Contributor

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
And Torag doesn't want his dwarves intermixing with those oversized klutzes called humans so he violates evolution to ensure they can't mix despite covergent forms? XD

Yes, exactly. That's why humans and elves mix with no troubles, making half-elves who are pretty much fine, and likewise with humans and orcs even if the orcish strain tends to be dominant/culturally considered dominant in an uncomfortable parallel to real world human racial politics, but if humans interbreed with giants--who look pretty much like humans in all but scale--you get hideously deformed ogres, or worse, half-ogres, because something awful happens when human and giant genes mix.

Also, tieflings and aasimar are only human-based because the way that metaphysics work, the forces of heaven and hell only want to have sex with humans. Your easiest way to prevent seduction by a succubus is to be a halfling.


Set wrote:

I could see followers of Saranrae, goddess of honesty, redemption, healing, etc., one of the settings most unvarnished 'good' gods, perceiving a nation that bans her worship as being philosophically opposed to everything she stands for, including goodness, honesty, mercy, etc. and in danger of surrendering fully to evil. Making war with such a people, while regrettable, might be seen as the only way to overturn this ban, and save the souls of an entire nation from whatever evil is causing them to turn against the redeemer's message.

Reading this has made me think that this is perhaps how the fall of Ninshabur started, before Sarenrae destroyed the entire city turning into the pit of Gormuz.

Perhaps she is not wanting to have history repeat itself.

Dark Archive

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Also, tieflings and aasimar are only human-based because the way that metaphysics work, the forces of heaven and hell only want to have sex with humans. Your easiest way to prevent seduction by a succubus is to be a halfling.

Not any more! Blood of Fiends and Blood of Sparkleponies have size Small options for both Tieflings and Aasimar!

Magic is like science. Just because we can now insert fish genes into tomatoes or grow meat outside of an animal doesn't mean that evolution stopped working. Dinosaurs and cats and peoples and evolution happened in the fantasy world, despite there being a lot of other stuff *also* happening, like outsiders and bizarre fantasy-universe (possibly magically-assisted, possible divinely-enabled, thanks Mommy Lamashtu!) crossbreeding.


Can someone point me out to where is it mentioned that Taldor banned Sarenrae's cult?


I think it's fine for this schism to exist, especially when you think about it that the clergymen aren't all clerics. There's probably a great deal of adepts, aristocrats, and commoners that act as priests and as such, continue to act in such heinous ways without losing any spells.

Liberty's Edge

Well demographically speaking, roughly 1 in 1250 people is a 9th level character or higher. How many of those are clerics? Well, we'll be what's probably overly generous and say 1 in 6. So, 1 in 7,500 people can get the kind of advice you're talking about...more like 1 in 150,000 if looking for a Cleric of a particular God (though some place where a full 1/4 of the Clerics are worshipers of the same God, like Qadira, that might be more like 1 in 30,000).

That's still maybe one guy per city who can make these kind of pronouncements 'ex-Cathedra'...and no real assurances that he isn't lying unless you have another guy (who you trust) to confirm things. Clerics who can do this sort of thing are simply rare enough that it's not hard for the vast majority of people to start misinterpreting things the way they want to hear, and potentially ignoring those who disagree in favor of those who agree with their prejudices.

Silver Crusade

BarrenSpirit wrote:
Can someone point me out to where is it mentioned that Taldor banned Sarenrae's cult?

The Taldor player companion was where it got the most talk, complete with options for Sarenraens keeping their faith on the downlow.

I can't recall if it was officially banned exactly or if it was "just" rampant persecution, up to and including lynching.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

Well demographically speaking, roughly 1 in 1250 people is a 9th level character or higher. How many of those are clerics? Well, we'll be what's probably overly generous and say 1 in 6. So, 1 in 7,500 people can get the kind of advice you're talking about...more like 1 in 150,000 if looking for a Cleric of a particular God (though some place where a full 1/4 of the Clerics are worshipers of the same God, like Qadira, that might be more like 1 in 30,000).

That's still maybe one guy per city who can make these kind of pronouncements 'ex-Cathedra'...and no real assurances that he isn't lying unless you have another guy (who you trust) to confirm things. Clerics who can do this sort of thing are simply rare enough that it's not hard for the vast majority of people to start misinterpreting things the way they want to hear, and potentially ignoring those who disagree in favor of those who agree with their prejudices.

That's a pretty interesting way to do demographics. I use a modified version of the one in the DMG 3.5 that's also tied into the Kingdom Building campaign and makes use of the Apprentice Rules. It's an excel sheet that's taken a life of its own. How'd you come upon those numbers?

Liberty's Edge

Odraude wrote:
That's a pretty interesting way to do demographics. I use a modified version of the one in the DMG 3.5 that's also tied into the Kingdom Building campaign and makes use of the Apprentice Rules. It's an excel sheet that's taken a life of its own. How'd you come upon those numbers?

They're based heavily on the Settlement Rules and specifically what kind of spellcasting is available in what settlements, I mean, if 5th level spellcasting becomes available at over 2,000 people, that strongly implies that 9th-10th level spellcasters are inevitable in towns of 2001-5000 but not in towns of 201-2000. That has population implications. The thread linked goes into a lot more detail regarding this.

I've also applied them to the listed NPCs for Magnimar, Korvosa, and Sandpoint and found them to be roughly (albeit only roughly) accurate, which was pleasant.

Sovereign Court

Mikaze wrote:
BarrenSpirit wrote:
Can someone point me out to where is it mentioned that Taldor banned Sarenrae's cult?

The Taldor player companion was where it got the most talk, complete with options for Sarenraens keeping their faith on the downlow.

I can't recall if it was officially banned exactly or if it was "just" rampant persecution, up to and including lynching.

To quote from the book, "Stavian I made worshipping Saranrae illegal in Taldor, destroying all her temples and places of worship in the Great Purge of 4528ar and uniting most of Taldan society against Saranrae's followers by propagandizing them as treasonous spies."

Grand Lodge

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Golarion shouldn't HAVE that problem, as any high-level wizard can cast plane-shift and hear Sarenrae speak her word directly, and without filter.

"So let me hear this straight. You've just got the plane shift spell and you're going to just POP into a Goddess' domain to interrogate her about what her clerics are doing in Qadira?

"That's right, I've got the spell in my book and I've prepared two, one for the return trip."

"And you don't see a problem with just popping in her domain unnannounced? "

"She's a good goddess. What can possibly go wrong?"

--Account of the last known sighting of Zifnub, The Not So Careful.

Silver Crusade

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I am trying SO hard not to laugh at that...and failing. XD


Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
In a somewhat related term, how the heck does the process of evolution work in a world where there are mythical monsters created by magic? The only races that couldn't have a basal form on Golarion should be gnomes and elves because they're from other planets or planes, but dwarves, humans, orcs, halflings, etc. should have evolved from a basal form given their similarities. Besides that, how should dinosaurs have continued to remain in response to environmental pressures from events like Earthfall, the magical wars between Nex and Geb, or the formation of the Eye of Abendego? Or in response to more constant things like the presence of supernatural predators, or the problems introduced by undeath? Evolution is the most consistently proven scientific theory in our world, and if there are creatures on Golarion that exist here on Earth, it should follow that they evolved in the same way, but given the way magic completely alters any such variables, evolution could not have produced the same kinds of creatures. Outsiders and alien creatures and things like that can be explained away, but that doesn't explain the presence of things as simple as cats or certain species of plant.

Here's my WAGes.

If Golarion does exist in the same universe as Earth exists, it is very far away and it is possible that the creatures that exist on both Earth and Golarion have undergone a convergent evolution on different planets, but with exactly the same DNA configuration. This would be possible because there are only so many ways particles can be arranged, so with infinite space and finite particles, eventually we will reach a point where even complex arrangements such as in living organisms are repeated. Dinosaurs remain because while Earthfall, while pretty devastating and with a fallout that lasted a thousand years, might not been as devastating as the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs and had a fallout that might have lasted several thousand years.

To explain elves, since iirc there have historically been gates between the planets of Golarion's solar system, it is possible that evolution occurred on a multi-planetory level in this solar system due to "cross-fertization" through the gates. As for gnomes, the 1st world overlaps the 2nd world I believe, so it is possible for them to also have similar DNA patterns, or they really are just so different. I don't think there are any half-gnomes running around.

And as far as magical influence, yeah it might have created morloks and owlbears, but it left cats and poppies alone.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Just because something is an incontrovertible, objective fact, doesn't mean large swaths of people can't have virulent or even violent disagreement about it. In the real world, people can't even agree about global climate change.

I have no problem believing that religious schism is possible in a world where the gods are objectively real and observable.

Grand Lodge

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Michael Gentry wrote:

Just because something is an incontrovertible, objective fact, doesn't mean large swaths of people can't have virulent or even violent disagreement about it. In the real world, people can't even agree about global climate change.

I have no problem believing that religious schism is possible in a world where the gods are objectively real and observable.

More importantly, the gods themselves may have no problems with schisms. Passionate beliefs bring in devoted worshippers on both sides of the divide. So maybe some blood is spilled, but overall the god's position still winds up becoming stronger overall. Also importantly the only real folks feeling the heat of Sarenrae's militant arm is the nation of Taldor which has banned her religion.

So she may be willing to overlook the issues of the war cult in the interest of leveraging influence in Taldor over the long term. And while the gods are nigh omniscient, they're not neccessarily immune to making big mistakes.

Grand Lodge

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eakratz wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
In a somewhat related term, how the heck does the process of evolution work in a world where there are mythical monsters created by magic? The only races that couldn't have a basal form on Golarion should be gnomes and elves because they're from other planets or planes, but dwarves, humans, orcs, halflings, etc. should have evolved from a basal form given their similarities. Besides that, how should dinosaurs have continued to remain in response to environmental pressures from events like Earthfall, the magical wars between Nex and Geb, or the formation of the Eye of Abendego? Or in response to more constant things like the presence of supernatural predators, or the problems introduced by undeath? Evolution is the most consistently proven scientific theory in our world, and if there are creatures on Golarion that exist here on Earth, it should follow that they evolved in the same way, but given the way magic completely alters any such variables, evolution could not have produced the same kinds of creatures. Outsiders and alien creatures and things like that can be explained away, but that doesn't explain the presence of things as simple as cats or certain species of plant.

Here's my WAGes.

If Golarion does exist in the same universe as Earth exists, it is very far away and it is possible that the creatures that exist on both Earth and Golarion have undergone a convergent evolution on different planets, but with exactly the same DNA configuration. This would be possible because there are only so many ways particles can be arranged, so with infinite space and finite particles, eventually we will reach a point where even complex arrangements such as in living organisms are repeated. Dinosaurs remain because while Earthfall, while pretty devastating and with a fallout that lasted a thousand years, might not been as devastating as the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs and had a...

The Society For the Preservation of Beloved CatGirls requests that you both cease and desist.

Shadow Lodge

I think it's worth noting that the overwhelming majority of Saranrae's (or almost any god's) followers are NOT divine spellcasters. They don't speak to her personally. There's indication for them if they've gone down the wrong path in their worship of her.

I think that a lot of people on these boards forget that the overwhelming population of Golarion (or any other campaign setting) is composed of the NPC classes, and even the bulk of those are commoners and experts.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kthulhu wrote:

I think it's worth noting that the overwhelming majority of Saranrae's (or almost any god's) followers are NOT divine spellcasters. They don't speak to her personally. There's indication for them if they've gone down the wrong path in their worship of her.

For that matter, I don't think it's routine for ANY of the gods to actually SPEAK to their clerics personally. (otherwise you wouldn't need spells like Commune or Augury) They grant them spells after all in response to their prayers. That's generally more than enough response as far as they are concerned.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Interaction with the gods or their planar underlings seems to be presumed to be pretty common for PCs, though. A prereq for the Mystery Cultist prestige classes requires the 8th-levelish PC to have been rescued from the brink of death by an outsider or be the recipient of a spell cast by a celestial being, and one of the story feats in Ultimate Campaign requires the PC to speak with their deity or its herald in person and is apparently supposed to be on par with feats that require you to provoke 20 AoOs for healing in combat or to cast breath of life on an ally. Heck, the completion benefit for the breath of life one is better than the 'meet god' one. *mind boggles*

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
that Shoanti Sarenite

My very first Pathfinder character was a Shoanti Sarenite! Ancrym Morn was a Skoan-Quah, captured and sold into slavery as young teenager. He was purchased by a benevolent Sarenite Qadiran from Absalom. When Ancrym converted to Sarenrae worship and expressed a desire to return to Varisia as a missionary to the Shoanti, his master not only freed him, but also equipped him for the journey.

So imagine a giant Shoanti man, all of 6'4" and 250 lbs., with a big black and white skull tattoo covering his face and a scowl that could start fires, dressed in a male version of Kyra gear. And also, he's the most polite, friendly, and civil guy you could hope to meet.

Sczarni

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Cylyria wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
BarrenSpirit wrote:
Can someone point me out to where is it mentioned that Taldor banned Sarenrae's cult?

The Taldor player companion was where it got the most talk, complete with options for Sarenraens keeping their faith on the downlow.

I can't recall if it was officially banned exactly or if it was "just" rampant persecution, up to and including lynching.

To quote from the book, "Stavian I made worshipping Saranrae illegal in Taldor, destroying all her temples and places of worship in the Great Purge of 4528ar and uniting most of Taldan society against Saranrae's followers by propagandizing them as treasonous spies."

Note, there are still groups worshiping Saranrae underground. There's actually a large portion of a PFS scenario which spotlights this.

pfs scenario spoiler:


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I stopped having a problem with the issue of divergent religious philosophies that followed the same deity - when said deity has an objective existence and is communicative - when I looked at the problem in a different way.

To me, gods treat their religion the way a trader would person their stock portfolio. You want to diversify because if one particular stock starts to tank (e.g. people are less attracted to your religion), then you could lose everything. Allowing religious schisms to grow or die on their own, rather than being shut down from "on high" is how gods make sure their religion remains relevant in the game world, since whichever one "wins" and subsequently thrives is the one more likely to appeal to the largest number of people; in this way the gods are making sure that their churches fit in with societal evolution.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So I have this theory...

That humans are "Kryptonians", or some long forgotten offshoot of them that is affected by "Light". When humans are denied "light" they devolve into Mongrel men which are close if not the step before Orc. The Elves talk about seeking the Brightness, so I theorize they are a branch of Humanity that have found more "light". You end up with a neat Orc-> Human-> Elf evolution that has a nice symmetry with the Bugbear-> Goblin-> Hobgoblin line.

Now I ordered that way on purpose to show something else.

Bugbear = CE
Goblin = NE
Hobgoblin = LE

Orc = CE
Human = N?
Elf = CG

An elf who loses the "Brightness" becomes a "Dark" Drow. I find it strange that this mostly happens to elves that go underground away from the "light" and become evil.

The Elves are from Castrovel which is a planet that is closer to the "Light". They love and admire the natural world, having a tendency towards plants which grow in the light.

The human malleability also lends itself to many other combinations. What is more chaotic that being able to take from anything and make it part of you, gain strength from it and move on.

Since the above emphasizes the Chaos line of evolution, the thought has crossed my line that Law had a part to play as well. It finds working forms and locks them into their current state.

The Orc/Dwarf hate could be deeper, more of a split in philosophe when a group of humans abandoned the light for the depths. While the Orcs simply changed with it, the Dwarves imposed the will of the people on the depths, changing the depths to serve them. Embracing Law. The Law then "Locked" them in and preserved them. They are master crafters because they impose their law on the elements to make them into what they think they should be.

This leads to this, Chaos is environment changing you and Law is you changing the environment.

Gnomes are dimensional outcast, who are losing their "brightness", essentially a poisoned well that without a stronger power doesn’t branch out.

Halflings, I theorize, are "Good's" attempt to make a line. If you look at the goblinoid line as an "Evil" line then it’s possible that Halflings are the NG "goblin." Instead of branching off itself though "Good" saw the opportunity to influence the most malleable race and now follows it around subtly influencing it.

Again all theory.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Charlie Bell wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
that Shoanti Sarenite

My very first Pathfinder character was a Shoanti Sarenite! Ancrym Morn was a Skoan-Quah, captured and sold into slavery as young teenager. He was purchased by a benevolent Sarenite Qadiran from Absalom. When Ancrym converted to Sarenrae worship and expressed a desire to return to Varisia as a missionary to the Shoanti, his master not only freed him, but also equipped him for the journey.

So imagine a giant Shoanti man, all of 6'4" and 250 lbs., with a big black and white skull tattoo covering his face and a scowl that could start fires, dressed in a male version of Kyra gear. And also, he's the most polite, friendly, and civil guy you could hope to meet.

Cool, the one I'm envisioning is the bastard child of a Sklar-Quah woman and an elf wizard, who lost his mom and was enslaved by a minor crimelord in Korvosa (Gaedren Lamm, of course). He was abused and left for dead, and he was rescued by a paladin of Sarenrae, and started to serve at first out of a sense of debt to the people that saved him and protected him, and later grew to truly believe, and is constantly struggling with his inborn anger and hatred for Korvosa and especially for Gaedren, and seeks to return to his people to turn them away from the path of revenge, as Sarenrae turned him from that dark way...

Project Manager

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
And if a cleric of Sarenrae shifted to Evil, Sarenrae should immediately revoke his spellcasting ability as punishment. If most leaders in a deity's church have levels of the cleric class, that should ensure orthodoxy at least in regards to being Good.

Evil outcomes, though, don't always happen because of evil intent. People can believe that they're doing something for the right reasons, and have the results be disastrous. And given that Sarenrae is a strong proponent of redemption, it doesn't seem like she'd be quick to disown or strike down her followers for mistakes.

For example (spoilered for tangent):

Spoiler:
There's the question of whether an "ends justify the means" approach is evil. It's easy -- and certainly cleaner and simpler -- to draw a stark line in the sand and say no, the ends never justify the means. It's not always terribly practical, though. If you take something like surgery, you're doing harm to a person (cutting them open) to remedy a greater harm (removing a tumor, repairing a heart, etc.). Effective social services may require abandoning attempts to help a certain segment of the population in order to be able to help a larger group that is also in need. Saying the ends never justify the means often means making the perfect the enemy of the good.

At the same time, once you decide that the ends do justify the means, it's easy to go some terrible places. Most sane people can look at the Inquisition and agree that it was evil. Attempting to torture people into following doctrine is a classic and blatant abuse of power and perversion of faith. However, if you believed that it was a choice between inflicting pain on someone for a short period of time in this life, or letting them suffer an eternity of torment with no hope of release, there's a certain logic in choosing what appears to be the lesser suffering for them.

Either approach in a philosophically pure form (the ends never justify the means, or always serve the greatest good regardless of what it takes) is going to eventually result in letting bad things happen, but navigating the middle between them requires a lot of judgment calls that fallible mortals are going to get wrong sometimes.

It's not actually easy to be good. It's fairly easy, I think, to be neutral: to simply refrain from intentionally harming others. But active goodness requires a lot more effort, engagement with the risk of doing harm while attempting to do good, and the navigation of some thorny ethical thickets.

Short of basically usurping her clerics' free will -- giving them precise instructions for everything they do -- Sarenrae has to deal with a priesthood of mortal, limited servants, most of whom genuinely (if they are good) want to do right, but who are going to make mistakes, make bad decisions for good reasons, weigh the importance of things incorrectly, and so on.

For myself, and in my home game, I treat the theological question of why good deities sometimes let their followers do bad things as multifactorial:

--the gods' guidance of mortals has to be somewhat indirect, so as to avoid direct conflict with other deities and their goals (e.g. Desna might send visions to and eventually disown a mortal who is seduced into serving Asmodeus, but she can't force him not to serve another god without ending up in direct conflict with Asmodeus, something the gods don't do so they can avoid all-out god wars)
--gods are considerably more powerful than mortals, but not omniscient or omnipotent -- there are things of which they're not aware
--gods have more context than mortals, so what appears to be a setback for worshippers of a deity may appear to be necessary to the deity for reasons mortals aren't privy to, or things that appear earthshaking to mortals might appear minor or even irrelevant to deities
--most good gods are not merely interested in obedience from their worshippers, but in helping mortals as a group move toward greater goodness and understanding, so they allow mortals to make mistakes to learn
--gods' understanding of "good" is different from mortal understanding, because they have greater context, because they're not human, etc.

Ultimately, allowing a schism to happen might teach a god's followers something important about goodness, might serve some unrelated but important purpose, might avoid conflict with another deity or power in the universe, might produce a new denomination that's closer to the truth, etc.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Odraude wrote:
That's a pretty interesting way to do demographics. I use a modified version of the one in the DMG 3.5 that's also tied into the Kingdom Building campaign and makes use of the Apprentice Rules. It's an excel sheet that's taken a life of its own. How'd you come upon those numbers?

They're based heavily on the Settlement Rules and specifically what kind of spellcasting is available in what settlements, I mean, if 5th level spellcasting becomes available at over 2,000 people, that strongly implies that 9th-10th level spellcasters are inevitable in towns of 2001-5000 but not in towns of 201-2000. That has population implications. The thread linked goes into a lot more detail regarding this.

I've also applied them to the listed NPCs for Magnimar, Korvosa, and Sandpoint and found them to be roughly (albeit only roughly) accurate, which was pleasant.

Ah see I didn't even take that into account for my player's city building. The highest level caster they have in the city is a level 5 wizard. Though there are ways (expensive ways) for them to increase the level cap of NPCs. Ends up being much more of an exponential growth in terms of levels. Plus, I rolled low :p


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jessica Price wrote:
It's not actually easy to be good.

I wish more people would acknowledge that.


Also, that Man (And demihumanity) is inherently stupid.

Senior Editor/Fiction Editor

Man, alignment battles AND evolution battles? This thread touches all of my favorite things!

I won't bust out a bunch of arguments here, but you definitely *can* have ideological schisms within churches, and even among people who are divinely inspired. But you don't have to take my word for it--one of Pharasma's own ushers explains it in Death's Heretic, and there's a ton more of that sort of thing in The Redemption Engine. As for evolution and why there are so many humanoids in Golarion's system--there are a bunch of theories in the introduction to Distant Worlds.

Is this a blatant plug? Of course, but I figure that since we've already written, developed, and published musings on this stuff, you might as well get the polished versions. :D

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Joana wrote:

Interaction with the gods or their planar underlings seems to be presumed to be pretty common for PCs, though.

Keep in mind that the PC's are the protagonists of your narrative. Everyone else is just supporting cast. You can't assume that PC's represent the norm.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
LazarX wrote:
Joana wrote:

Interaction with the gods or their planar underlings seems to be presumed to be pretty common for PCs, though.

Keep in mind that the PC's are the protagonists of your narrative. Everyone else is just supporting cast.

+1000 to this.

All the hypothetical 'what ifs' can lend the game world to being one that doesn't need the PC's to even exist. Why should 4 misfits set out to kill mysterious BBEG from Carrion Crown when there's a whole nation of Warrior Priests *right next door* who could devote the 3-4 game months the party spent leveling up slaying those Belkzen orcs then storm Gallowspire as an army of level 14 paladins?

Yes its nice to look at the world as a living organism, but we often forget it is actually designed to be only a backdrop.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Like the Magi in the Mummy Returns right? The Army that kept the forces of Annubis/Scorpin King tied up while the heroes beat the real threat?

It is always the small units that sneak in, break the lines, get the Mcguffin. Large armies are just the distraction.

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