How "Good" is Good


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I read part one of the "Book of the Damned" and also read through the opening intro to "Chronicles of the Righteous" and those books leave me with a sick feeling.

How "good" is Good if the lords of good send a guide out to chronicle the truth about all of the multiverse, and he comes back with volumes that speak "blasphemies," one of which is the book of good things, the Chronicle of the Righteous.

If even the lords tremble at reading what's in that book, shouldn't anyone with the artifact immediately lose their good alignment after knowing the truths that the Chronicler was banished for? Since apparently there's some kind of illuminati-level conspiracy behind the good outer planes that the lords of good wanted him to repent for what he said?

I don't like this. Alignment like this should be simple. Good should be good and Evil should be evil. Why is it that we have to get Da Vinci Code nonsense in our fantasy settings where the "good" people are hiding deep dark secrets all the time? It makes me not want to play good characters if "good" is just a title for another bunch of a-holes than an actual, real philosophy with goodly beings to look toward for inspiration and guidance.

Basically: How "Good" can Good be if the guys in charge of it are covering up the truth?


Or maybe it wasn't "the truth", but rather the mad ravings of an unhinged mind? It was pointed out that the guy they send on the mission did come back and it seemed from the description that what he had seen in the lower planes had send him into madness.

That the other celestial beings were kind of jerks about that is of course another problem, with Good often not coming off as very tolerant of dissent.

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Or perhaps the opening of CotR was written by Asmodeus, who's now delighted that he cast a shadow of paranoia at the good camp?

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Yeah, many of the "handwritten" Tabris entries across the books are meant to be taken with a grain of salt. The poor guy is fallen and despairing after all.


Mavrickindigo wrote:
Good should be good and Evil should be evil.

There is also an alignment called neutral, which inevitably means there must be a spectrum.

So, for good (angels, etc.) you can have:

A++ good. The ones who are infallible saints.
A+ good. The saints.
A good. Mostly perfect.
B good. Good but with a few flaws.
C good. Flawed good.
D good = no such thing, you failed and became a good-wannabee neutral.


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Riddle me this, then: If the Chronicle of the Righteous and the Book of the Damned are both written by a crazy guy who can't be trusted, why do they give such high benefits and are artifacts? If the book LIES about good, why do you still get a +4 bonus on knowledge checks? Shouldn't it confer a Penalty in that case?

Reader: According to this, the 7 heavens have some dark heretical secret! I read it in the Chronicle of the Righteous and it gives me a +4 bonus to knowldge

Angel: You know that's a bunch of heresy and lies, right?

Reader: B-but, +4 bonus on knowledge checks!

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Mavrickindigo wrote:

Riddle me this, then: If the Chronicle of the Righteous and the Book of the Damned are both written by a crazy guy who can't be trusted, why do they give such high benefits and are artifacts? If the book LIES about good, why do you still get a +4 bonus on knowledge checks? Shouldn't it confer a Penalty in that case?

Reader: According to this, the 7 heavens have some dark heretical secret! I read it in the Chronicle of the Righteous and it gives me a +4 bonus to knowldge

Angel: You know that's a bunch of heresy and lies, right?

Reader: B-but, +4 bonus on knowledge checks!

+4 is not a high benefit. A high level party with access to CotR could easily have somebody with +30 or more in Knowledge (planes) just out of himself, not counting any spell/effect buffs. A +4 untyped bonus is nice, but it's nothing notable at that point. It seems about right for an artifact written by a half-crazed guy with a rather tentative relationship with reality. Really, Mask of a Thousand Tomes nets you a +10 on ANY Knowledge check and it's not even an artifact, just a regular mid-level magic item. It's something any Wizard with CWI can knock together in spare time.


So shouldn't the artifact's stats mention how the book is heretical and incorrect? The artifact makes it seem like its the be all end all guide to the Upper planes

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Mavrickindigo wrote:
So shouldn't the artifact's stats mention how the book is heretical and incorrect? The artifact makes it seem like its the be all end all guide to the Upper planes

Man, you sure do like your extremes. Imagine you have a travel guide to Hawaii that was written by a person with some mental instability. There are parts of it that are factually correct and reliable and parts of it that are crazy lunatic rants. It's neither an infallible resource and neither a heretical repository of lies. It lies somewhere in-between, and if you want to use it as a reference you gotta cross-reference stuff and hence it gives you just a +4 bonus.


Even if it's factually true, Tabris might have recorded information that, while not reflecting specifically bad on the empyreals, might have been too dangerous to reveal. Or alternatively might have undermined the good cause.

What if the book reveals that despite the best efforts of the Empyreals, evil will eventually win? Imagine what that sort of revelation would do for the angels and others of heaven


Gorbacz wrote:
Mavrickindigo wrote:
So shouldn't the artifact's stats mention how the book is heretical and incorrect? The artifact makes it seem like its the be all end all guide to the Upper planes
Man, you sure do like your extremes. Imagine you have a travel guide to Hawaii that was written by a person with some mental instability. There are parts of it that are factually correct and reliable and parts of it that are crazy lunatic rants. It's neither an infallible resource and neither a heretical repository of lies. It lies somewhere in-between, and if you want to use it as a reference you gotta cross-reference stuff and hence it gives you just a +4 bonus.

But this isn't a random pamphlet, it's a Major Artifact. It is the definitive guide to the Upper PLanes. This is supposed to be an amazingly powerful artifact of Overwhelming goodness. Wouldn't it be tainted by evil if it had lies in it?


MMCJawa wrote:

Even if it's factually true, Tabris might have recorded information that, while not reflecting specifically bad on the empyreals, might have been too dangerous to reveal. Or alternatively might have undermined the good cause.

What if the book reveals that despite the best efforts of the Empyreals, evil will eventually win? Imagine what that sort of revelation would do for the angels and others of heaven

Wouldn't any adventurers who found it find this out and spread it across the world? Heck, the books we have say that excerpts are in Absalom and studied by their highest scholars.


Maybe it does more guiding you toward a source of information than actually providing information.

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wraithstrike wrote:
Maybe it does more guiding you toward a source of information than actually providing information.

It could be like some of the works that reference a text, but only has fragments from the original work.

One thing that the Paizo writers do is to try to keep the origins of the multiverse vague, with multiple stories. So, any work may have truths but not the whole truth.


Mavrickindigo wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:

Even if it's factually true, Tabris might have recorded information that, while not reflecting specifically bad on the empyreals, might have been too dangerous to reveal. Or alternatively might have undermined the good cause.

What if the book reveals that despite the best efforts of the Empyreals, evil will eventually win? Imagine what that sort of revelation would do for the angels and others of heaven

Wouldn't any adventurers who found it find this out and spread it across the world? Heck, the books we have say that excerpts are in Absalom and studied by their highest scholars.

The known copies of those books are all under lock and key...It's not like they are available in every dungeon.

It's possible that past people who had the found the book, either:

A: weren't interested in reading it, just making money from it
B: Kept the secret themselves, for whatever reason
C: Destroyed the book, to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands
D: Tried to profess the truths, but ultimately were not believed, or that information didn't last long after the readers death.
E: Empyreals interdicted the book before the relevant sections could be deciphered
F: Nearly all the copies known in existence are incomplete

So I can think of lots of reasons that secret hasn't generally spread.


I just think that Good Outsiders pulling an MIB on anyone who gets too close to "the truth" reeks of shady neutrality, at best.


The book might also contain secrets about how to destroy the heavens, or how to unmake life. Not because it explicitly says how, but because it says how it was made, and once you know how something is made, it is a lot easier to un-make it by finding that weak point.

Look at it as a Plans for the Death Star type situation. What if it has the blue prints to Good and the Evil can then learn where to fire their figurative proton torpedo to destroy all of Good.

It might be that, while it is the definitive guide to Upper Planes, it's also probably been heavily censored by those in the Upper Planes to hide stuff that ultimately doesn't need to be known. Hence the +4 bonus instead of something like a +20 bonus.


For that matter...there is plenty of lower plane stuff that I don't think the Denizens of those planes would like mortals to have common knowledge of. Like the Oinodaemon, or the rather high demon lord death count.


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MMCJawa wrote:
For that matter...there is plenty of lower plane stuff that I don't think the Denizens of those planes would like mortals to have common knowledge of. Like the Oinodaemon, or the rather high demon lord death count.

For ever secret the Good has, there might be a polar opposite on the Evil side. Could you imagine how the Fiends would react if there was some way of turning the Abyss into a 'Good' Plane? I'd imagine, Demons, Devils and Daemons would all fight to keep that knowledge secret, if only to prevent Good from getting stronger (in the case of Devils and Daemons).


One thing, I think, about all of this is, as I recall, Tabris, after he'd collected his research, started to say things and was commanded to stop, but refused. From the impression I got, they may well have gone, "Oh, wow, that was far more thorough than we thought, well, hm, okay, just hand that over so we can keep this quiet so all of reality doesn't fall out of whack when one fool mortal gets his hands on this; well done." except that he just didn't stop talking.

It painted less a picture - to me - of Tabris being unjustly thrown down because of doing his job and more that he did his job, but when he was told to keep the information he found quiet... he didn't. For whatever reason, while searching deep into the "truths" of the universe, he was broken, and kept spewing things - good, bad, neutral, insane, and true, possibly all at once - even when commanded to stop by the very ones he was given the task by.

It seemed more due to a combination of insubordination and insanity than, "WHAT?! I'mma smite you for doing what you're told!"

I think what happened to Tabris was sad and unfortunate. My guess is that at least partially it had to do with the evils of the lower planes (especially, I'm guessing, the Abyss), and at least partially it had to do with him finding out true understandings of things like, say, the Outer Gods, or Great Old Ones or similar.

To me, it seems similar to what happened with Desna. Desna was, technically, in the right for murderizing a demon lord that messed with her followers one too many times, but the very serious problem that came from that threatened all of reality. She didn't know it would threaten all of reality, but it did, and it was her fault. Fortunately for Desna at that time, she had three goddesses helping her out, one of which (probably barely) managed to turn the collected host of demon lords on each other before they could destroy everything.

Tabris likely didn't have those kinds of allies at his side, and whatever he discovered, it's likely to have similar scope. That - combined with his refusal to stop divulging it - is what got him smite-a-tronned.

At least that was my impression. I could easily be wrong.

EDIT: And who told Tels about my Kingmaker Character's TOP SECRET PLAN to redeem the entire Abyss?!?! DAGGUMIT, what part of "TOP SECRET, TELL NO ONE" don't you guys understand?! Ugh! Lousy loyal advisers can't keep their fictional mouths shut.

EDIT 2:

Mavrickindigo wrote:
I just think that Good Outsiders pulling an MIB on anyone who gets too close to "the truth" reeks of shady neutrality, at best.

It can... but it doesn't have to be that way. It depends heavily on the "truth" in question, and who they're MIB-ing, and why.

If the particular "truth" is something that will fracture all mortal minds that hear it... they're literally healing people of insanity (and/or incurable endless despair) by removing that information and preventing insanity (and/or incurable endless despair) by suppressing it.

If the particular "truth" is something that can cause problems for all of reality, they may well be preventing it from getting out because, you know, Rovagug. I mean, he's like right there. And he's got plenty of people who are out to do that sort of thing for him.

If the particular "truth" is something that can actively harm good creatures, (a "and their secret weakness is..." sort of thing), than they daggum better well suppress that information, or else. Not just in self-interest, either, but in the interest of all good creatures.

In many cases, it's hard, if not impossible, for us to fully imagine the kind of truths that would do this. What could the revelation be? But part of that difficulty, thankfully, comes from the fact that we don't know them. If we did, presumably it'd be common knowledge. And if it was common knowledge, well... we'd likely have far more problems than simply not imagining that kind of "truth".


Good is not good when it is imperialist or assimilates other cultures. It is that simple.

Killing evil for a cause is one thing, eliminating alternatives, spreading lies, trying to be the medieval Catholic church is not the path of good.

The game becomes complex if good churches have to live up to their ideals.


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I don't see the Empyreal Lords being that Imperialist. Some are definitely militant, but then those Empyreal Lords are mostly all about smiting beings made of pure concentrated evil.

I wonder if Bestiary 4 might give us more info on Tabris. Chronicles of the Righteous seemed to strongly imply that Tabris "fell" into neutrality, and I could see him being the chief overlord of some sort of outsider(s) associated with Truth.

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Just confirming: But yeah, Tabris fell into neutrality rather than evil, and was barred from the heavens after he walked out rather than chased out. IIRC, so far it's unknown how much if any contact there is between him and his former brethren.

IIRC, he's currently living on the streets of Axis...

I imagine his situation being a bit along the lines of Tacticslion's scenario. Taking things to a cosmic level, his experiences might have left him entirely unable to percieve certain truths from honest angles.

That is, for just one possible example....let's say the Big Damn Secret of Good is that Vildeis is willingly acting as a multiversal heatsink for all the suffering and negativity in reality. The absolute honest truth might be that the endgame for that is for her to finally take it all in and purify it, simultaneously saving the multiverse and finally being able to live without pain herself.

But Tabris is incapable of seeing that, because he's still carrying too much from his trips everywhere else. He can't take that hopeful leap to reach the conclusion of what Good is actually doing, because all the hope has been beaten out of him. All his idealism has fled, cynicism moved in. So when he looks at what he can percieve of the Vildeis heatsink plot, all he can see is an Omelas scenario, which would paint everyone living in the paradisical goodly planes as hypocrites. And because that misinterpretation is based on half-percieved elements of truth, it presents ideas that are very dangerous to the cause of Team Good.

Replace "Vildeis heatsink" with "Operation Put IHYS Back Together", "Operation Put Pieces Of IHYS Into More People Instead", "The Abaddon Eversion/Kill Oblivion Plot", "Codename Nirvana Is Ponies" or whatever according to preference. ;)

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Tabris was a good guy and then he began posting at The Gaming Den.


MMCJawa wrote:
Even if it's factually true, Tabris might have recorded information that, while not reflecting specifically bad on the empyreals, might have been too dangerous to reveal. Or alternatively might have undermined the good cause.

Yep, Tabris is a whistleblower currently holed up in the planar-port of Axis seeking asylum. The Empyreals are attempting to have him extradited so they can try him for holy treason.


Jeven wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:
Even if it's factually true, Tabris might have recorded information that, while not reflecting specifically bad on the empyreals, might have been too dangerous to reveal. Or alternatively might have undermined the good cause.
Yep, Tabris is a whistleblower currently holed up in the planar-port of Axis seeking asylum. The Empyreals are attempting to have him extradited so they can try him for holy treason.

It seems like he's a whistle-blower who blew a whistle that didn't need blowing.


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Even if what Tabris wrote about was true and not half-crazed (unlikely in most cases), there are still some things which he could write about which could get you in big trouble for revealing "state secrets" and those secrets need not be shadowy conspiratorial evil. You can have conspiratorial good.

For North American readers, I'd ask if anyone remembers the "Valerie Plame" scandal. Revealing the nature and/or activities of undercover operatives could be what got him in trouble. Writing about the plans to have certain agents of good willingly "fall" to evil (but not really) so they could infiltrate the enemy lair.

In some cases, it could be because he wrote about active operations that the good guys weren't comfortable talking about, or completed operations where the operative had to push the envelop a little to maintain his cover and the good guys are uncomfortable talking about it, or operations where they lost the operative because they drank the kool-aid and truly did fall to darkness and the good guys are ashamed of these particular incidents.

And you can be an undercover operative and do s%#+ty things and still not be completely evil, misdemeanor felonies if you will. It's like a DEA or undercover Vice agent - they'll usually give their real bosses notice first before they commit a crime (if they have the chance, sometimes you gotta act quick) to maintain cover: doing drugs, selling drugs, assault, vandalism, minor arson. The agencies with undercover operatives have a pretty wide range of sanctioned crimes that are allowable in extreme cases but there are still some things that are completely off-limits such as murder obviously.

I think this is still in-theme for the good guys, especially Chaotic Goods. How far are you willing to go to stop an evil 10,000 times worse?


Yeah as others have commented...There is nothing to suggest that Tabris is in asylum or on the run from Heaven. He willingly walked away and turned his back on the Empyreal Lords. There were innumerable secrets in his books on the planes that would not be good in the hands of others and I am sure the empyreals would rather not have written down.

The Books of the Damned are full of evil obediences, information on demonic grafts, soul traffic, etc. That for example would be one obvious element that the Empyreals would rather not have spread further.

I am not really sure that Tabris is "insane" either, or at least no more insane than many other outsider races. I think Tabris labored and endured so much to assemble the Books that it skewed his viewpoint. The books became less about giving Good and edge in the conflicts with the other alignments, and more about knowledge for knowledge sake, free of morality.

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