Why does PFS punish the good?


Pathfinder Society

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Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Playing a good character can be rough in PFS. Let's break it down.

1. Role-playing Prejudice Ever since the early days of D&D there has been some part of human nature that inherently makes people place higher standards on good aligned characters. Players of good characters are required to abide by their alignments far more rigidly than neutral or evil characters are, even though CN characters are supposed to be just as CN as CG players are supposed to be CG. This is both unfair and illogical but even I have been guilty of it and I don't see it going away anytime soon. In some campaigns, good players are rewarded for being good, which does compensate for this, but I see little evidence of this in PFS.

2. Mechanical Disadvantages Good characters are subject to Unholy Blight, Protection from Good, Smite Good and a plethora of other powers and abilities that neutral characters don’t suffer from or suffer less from. Yet these same neutral characters can cast Protection from Evil just as well as a good one, and even have the choice of casting Protection from Good if they want to. Now this particular issue is inherent in the Pathfinder rules and not specific to PFS, but most of the monsters in PFS seem build on the assumption that you are playing a good character. Unholy Blight spamming Erinyes seem especially common.

3. Morally Questionable Orders While faction missions no longer work like they used to, I have seen quite a few faction missions that required you to engage in morally questionable activity. Which means that if you role-play your character properly, good PCs get less Prestige than neutral ones. Huh? If there is any reward a good PC should be getting over a neutral one, shouldn’t that be Prestige? Furthermore, I have seen these morally questionable faction missions in every faction except Silver Crusade. Even in Andoran, which you’d think would be espousing at least a Chaotic Good outlook, I have seen at least 3 strait out assassination missions. So three allowed neutral alignments, three allowed good alignments; yet out of 10 factions, only 1 was safe for good PCs to join.

4. Lack of Adventure Rewards There is an early PFS adventure that gives you less gold on your AC if you do not outright rob a merchant who has already been victimized once. In fact, the adventure flat out states “that is the price for being good.” There are also at least 2 year 4 adventures I can think of that give very nice boons if you are willing to commit morally questionable acts. Yet I can only think of one adventure, in year 5, that actually rewarded the PCs for doing the right thing, and that reward was simply to give them their extra Prestige Point. Now I admit while I have seen quite a few adventures, I haven’t seen every one of them, so if you do know of an adventure that gives you a nice boon for being good I would love to know about it.

So if we tally up the above issues, they seem to indicate a very strong prejudice in PFS for playing a neutral character. In fact, I have met people who only play neutral characters in PFS because of it. My wife, for example, switched her CG rogue to CN because she got tired of dealing with items 2 & 3 above with nothing to compensate for them.

So my question is this: Is it the intent of the management of PFS to promote neutral characters over good ones? If so, why? If not, when are we going to see nice rewards for being good like there are for being neutral?

P.S. Before someone fires back with the trite axiom, “Being good is its own reward,” I would like to point out the following:
a) That is a pretty poor excuse for the systematic persecution of an entire group of role-players.
b) Even if is true, “Being good is its own reward,” is not the same thing as “Playing a good character is its own reward.”


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The Pathfinder Society is a neutral organization.

Dark Archive

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No good deed goes unpunished? #WickedTheMusical


trollbill wrote:

Playing a good character can be rough in PFS. Let's break it down.

1. Role-playing Prejudice Ever since the early days of D&D there has been some part of human nature that inherently makes people place higher standards on good aligned characters. Players of good characters are required to abide by their alignments far more rigidly than neutral or evil characters are, even though CN characters are supposed to be just as CN as CG players are supposed to be CG. This is both unfair and illogical but even I have been guilty of it and I don't see it going away anytime soon. In some campaigns, good players are rewarded for being good, which does compensate for this, but I see little evidence of this in PFS.

What is illogical about that? That just comes down to the definition of good and evil, they are not exactly symmetrical. It is wholly within the mindset of evil to do seemingly 'good' acts, either as 'propaganda' (to cultivate good characters/groups as allies to fight for them, or as image control to appear non-suspicious). That doesn't detract from their evil mindset.

If a 'good' character would freely take 'evil' acts to pursue 'good' goals, then their goodness does come into question. That's just how it works, otherwise you're destroying the distinction of good and evil. Asking for rewards for being good is also destroying the definition of good, if you had rewards then there is no distinction vs. an evil character motivated for personal power, good just becomes another flavor of evil. The point of good is that it is not about personal rewards.

Quote:
2. Mechanical Disadvantages Good characters are subject to Unholy Blight, Protection from Good, Smite Good and a plethora of other powers and abilities that neutral characters don’t suffer from or suffer less from. Yet these same neutral characters can cast Protection from Evil just as well as a good one, and even have the choice of casting Protection from Good if they want to. Now this particular issue is inherent in the Pathfinder rules and not specific to PFS, but most of the monsters in PFS seem build on the assumption that you are playing a good character. Unholy Blight spamming Erinyes seem especially common.

Doesn't sounds like a PFS issue to me. Propose your own Pathfinder RPG houserule for 'Protection from Neutral', etc, if you want. There's a sub-forum for that.

Quote:
3. Morally Questionable Orders While faction missions no longer work like they used to, I have seen quite a few faction missions that required you to engage in morally questionable activity. Which means that if you role-play your character properly, good PCs get less Prestige than neutral ones. Huh? If there is any reward a good PC should be getting over a neutral one, shouldn’t that be Prestige? Furthermore, I have seen these morally questionable faction missions in every faction except Silver Crusade. Even in Andoran, which you’d think would be espousing at least a Chaotic Good outlook, I have seen at least 3 strait out assassination missions. So three allowed neutral...

Silver Crusade is the only really good good faction, I thought that was long since understood... In fact, that was recognized from the beginning of it's institution, it was created specifically to be a 'really good' faction UNLIKE Andoren turned out to be.

Most factions are neutral, or at best 'good with problems, more likely sliding to neutral or worse while espousing their righteous goodness'. Some are flat out evil or heavily sliding to evil, and could easily cause a member to run afoul of the 'no evil' rule. HEY! Advantage for good characters! Absolutely no danger of breaking that rule!

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

If you want a challenge, play a good-aligned character.

If you want to play it safe, go with neutral.

If you like baby-back ribs, you go with evil.


Or better, embrace alignment shift and ambiguity, and EXPECT that your character's alignment may shift.
Go ahead and tell the GM:
"hey, this character is really borderline, he may be against evil, but his motivations may not be PURELY good anymore"
so they know that the character's formal alignment may easily shift depending on how things go, without lots of instances to justify a shift.

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Kyle Baird wrote:
The Pathfinder Society is a neutral organization.

So your response is that PFS is deliberately promoting Neutral Characters over Good ones?

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

There is no promotion of neutral characters, just an overwhelming majority of them.


I don't see any rule or stance preventing all players from playing Silver Crusade PCs if they wish.


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Quandary wrote:
What is illogical about that? That just comes down to the definition of good and evil,

Or at least in your opinion it is.

Anyways, I wouldn't mind if there wre more rewards for being good. Feels a little awkward being part of a morally ambiguous organization and being told not to be evil. Always felt a little like your punished for being good, or at least not being rewarded for doing so. or at least to me it did.

I think this has come up before hasn't it?


And last time I checked, Good characters get an entire class to themself (Paladin) while there is no other PFS-legal class that excludes Good.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Da rulez wrote:

Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

...

People who are neutral with respect to good and evil ... may lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others.

If you're not paying for it (at least sometimes), you're not really good.

Of course, some forms of this are more fun in a game than others (in my opinion).

Having the option to either intervene in someone's defense or keep on walking is a fun, alignment-relevant roleplay moment with real consequences. Having to decide whether to make yourself known (and vulnerable to attack) in order to attempt Diplomacy or to sneak in and perform an ambush is a fun, alignment-relevant roleplay decision with real consequences.

Having everyone else just get more cash is less "fun roleplay moment" and more "the goodies can suck it". Same with when the alignment-relevant decision is "Do I even play the game today?"

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

TriOmegaZero wrote:
There is no promotion of neutral characters, just an overwhelming majority of them.

How, exactly, does one get an overwhelming majority of neutral characters without actually promoting neutral characters?

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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trollbill wrote:
How, exactly, does one get an overwhelming majority of neutral characters without actually promoting neutral characters?

By there being more neutral characters that join.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

To expound on Kyle's statement.

Quick question for the OP: have you played or ran Eyes of the Ten? There's some behind the scenes lore that's presented that really showcases how the organization operates.

That aside, I think that lately we're seeing a trend of newer scenarios moving away from the neutral path, and siding with good. The faction missions that required you to mutilate or murder NPCs are no more, and I think the scenario you're referencing is in Season 1-2? We also have scenarios where the PCs are risking their lives to build an army to contend with the Worldwound. That's a lot more good than neutral.

Anyway, I think that come the end of Season 5 into Season 6, we'll see the Society start taking a more "good" stance on major issues, rather than remaining neutral. At least that's what I suspect.

*If you haven't played EOTT, don't spoil it for yourself--seriously. Playing it without any knowledge of the plot makes the experience so much better.


MrSin wrote:
Anyways, I wouldn't mind if there wre more rewards for being good. Feels a little awkward being part of a morally ambiguous organization and being told not to be evil. Always felt a little like your punished for being good, or at least not being rewarded for doing so. or at least to me it did.

I don't get it. The 'told not to be evil' reference is exactly something where Good benefits. Anybody Neutral on the Good-Evil axis is really just very close to being banned/perma-character-death. So basically PFS well develops a 'dangerous' area of play (many grey area options/factions/etc), which you can indulge in if you wish, but may suffer the consequences.

BTW, Good can get in line behind Evil for "being persecuted by PFS". Good isn't perma-banned.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

I always forget to play my neutral characters as not-Good. But then, 'I didn't save your character because mine is neutral' is a pretty bad excuse.


Quandary wrote:
I don't get it. The 'told not to be evil' reference is exactly something where Good benefits.

I think our definition of benefits is different.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

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Quandry's post made me wonder if there are players who rolled up good aligned characters only to play through some Season 4 games that give evil boons, only so they could shift their alignment once for free without having to get an atonement.

Surely I'm just paranoid.

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Nefreet wrote:

If you want a challenge, play a good-aligned character.

If you want to play it safe, go with neutral.

If you like baby-back ribs, you go with evil.

That's actually one of the best responses so far. And to be honest, I do enjoy playing good characters over neutral ones usually. But, still, when I see players walking around with free evil tattoos that give them nice mechanical benis or a bonus to stats because they ate part of someone's soul, I have to ask, "Where is the holy sword of Iomedae or the Blessing of Sarenrae?"


@MrSin: Understandable. The definition of sex is sometimes controversial as well.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
trollbill wrote:
How, exactly, does one get an overwhelming majority of neutral characters without actually promoting neutral characters?
By there being more neutral characters that join.

The Pathfinder Society exists to serve itself. It places no moral obligations on its members and in-fact often requires those with opposing views to work together to further its goals.

Silver Crusade 5/5

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I turned down every one of those damned boons without a second thought.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Kyle Baird wrote:
The Pathfinder Society exists to serve itself.

And I exist to serve the Society.

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

TriOmegaZero wrote:
trollbill wrote:
How, exactly, does one get an overwhelming majority of neutral characters without actually promoting neutral characters?
By there being more neutral characters that join.

But why are they joining if there is not more motivation for neutrals to join that goods. If their motivations are the same, then shouldn't we see equal numbers?

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

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Kurik Grandhelm wrote:
I turned down every one of those damned boons without a second thought.

You and my druid both, my friend.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

trollbill wrote:
But why are they going if there is not more motivation for neutrals to join that goods. If their motivations are the same, then should we see equal numbers?

You asked about promoting neutral characters. The Society does not actively promote neutral characters. They promote whoever they feel would serve the Society best.

Motivation to join is separate from promotion.

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Walter Sheppard wrote:

To expound on Kyle's statement.

Quick question for the OP: have you played or ran Eyes of the Ten? There's some behind the scenes lore that's presented that really showcases how the organization operates.

I am actually in the middle of it having only played part 1 so far. I am playing it with my CN Gnome Alchemist.

Quote:
That aside, I think that lately we're seeing a trend of newer scenarios moving away from the neutral path, and siding with good.

I have not played enough year 5 to see that for sure, but it is my sincere hope that you are correct.

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Vydale Mystraline wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
The Pathfinder Society exists to serve itself.
And I exist to serve the Society.

The Core is Mother. The Core is Father.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Sir Jorsal of Lauterbury is Best VC.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

trollbill wrote:
Walter Sheppard wrote:

To expound on Kyle's statement.

Quick question for the OP: have you played or ran Eyes of the Ten? There's some behind the scenes lore that's presented that really showcases how the organization operates.

I am actually in the middle of it having only played part 1 so far. I am playing it with my CN Gnome Alchemist.

My recommendation is to revisit this topic once you finish your playthrough :)

trollbill wrote:
Walter Sheppard wrote:
That aside, I think that lately we're seeing a trend of newer scenarios moving away from the neutral path, and siding with good.
I have not played enough year 5 to see that for sure, but it is my sincere hope that you are correct.

I honestly think that will be the case. I've played/GM'd about 75% of the Season 5 scenarios. Siege of the Diamond City, and most of the other games reward making generally good decisions (not being murder-hobos, fighting the forces of evil, saving innocents, etc).

5/5 5/55/55/5

Art imitates life

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Quandary wrote:
I don't see any rule or stance preventing all players from playing Silver Crusade PCs if they wish.

So because there is one faction that all 3 good alignments can joins safely while neutral characters can join all 10 safely, this is somehow balanced and fair?


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Art imitates life

I'm tempted to link some really trippy fantasy art now...

Art is what its owner wills it to be.(ideally)

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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trollbill wrote:
So because there is one faction that all 3 good alignments can joins safely while neutral characters can join all 10 safely, this is somehow balanced and fair?

Define fair.

Silver Crusade

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+1 to Trollbill. Walter is correct that the winds of change are moving towards more good aligned missions or meta narratives. PFS should incentives playing good, or at least some loyalty to the society. So far as shown in season 4, not so much.

Season 4 Spoilers abound:
I personally thought that at the end of season 4 if you had all those boons your soul should of been sucked out at the end and your character should of been retired from play because of their treachery against the society. Multiple people WILLFULLY compromised the entire society for their own personal gain. What negative effects do they have? Oh in the finale fight he can spend his precious action economy to make a minor negative effect. Please, the second you fight Krune all your bonuses should of just turned into auto penalties.

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

TriOmegaZero wrote:
trollbill wrote:
So because there is one faction that all 3 good alignments can joins safely while neutral characters can join all 10 safely, this is somehow balanced and fair?
Define fair.

1fair adjective \ˈfer\

: treating people in a way that does not favor some over others

Shadow Lodge

trollbill wrote:
But, still, when I see players walking around with free evil tattoos that give them nice mechanical benis or a bonus to stats because they ate part of someone's soul, I have to ask, "Where is the holy sword of Iomedae or the Blessing of Sarenrae?"

"What about me!" cries out the bad man who thinks himself good.

Good is its own reward.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

trollbill wrote:
: treating people in a way that does not favor some over others

Are characters people for the purpose of this discussion?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
trollbill wrote:

Playing a good character can be rough in PFS.

As it should be. Golarion is a world of grey morality (but not grey on grey). It's a world of deep politics. The Society is an organisation which continues to withhold a powerful holy relic from the Church of Iomedae for the sake of it's own studies.

Yes, it can DEFINITELY be a challenge to be a good character within the Pathfinder Society.

And that's the way it should be. If there was no effort involved in being good, what would be the point of heroes?

3/5

Avatar-1 wrote:
trollbill wrote:
But, still, when I see players walking around with free evil tattoos that give them nice mechanical benis or a bonus to stats because they ate part of someone's soul, I have to ask, "Where is the holy sword of Iomedae or the Blessing of Sarenrae?"

"What about me!" cries out the bad man who thinks himself good.

Good is its own reward.

trollbill wrote:

P.S. Before someone fires back with the trite axiom, “Being good is its own reward,” I would like to point out the following:

a) That is a pretty poor excuse for the systematic persecution of an entire group of role-players.
b) Even if is true, “Being good is its own reward,” is not the same thing as “Playing a good character is its own reward.”

Just throwing that out there.


LazarX wrote:
trollbill wrote:
Playing a good character can be rough in PFS.
As it should be.

Yeah, what'd you come to play this game for. Fun? Oh wait..

Liberty's Edge

Well lets look at the disadvantages of being neutral.

1. Role-playing: Given the episodic nature of PFS you have to sometimes have to change your characters behavior as a GM will warn you that your character is being too evil. Perhaps you are playing one of only 3 scenarios actually triggers your characters darker side in the 33 scenarios it takes to get to 12 level, but because that GM doesn't realize that in the other 30 scenarios you are good you do not get to express the range of your character.

2. Mechanical Disadvantages Neutral characters are subject to Unholy Blight and Holy Smite, at times in the same round. When targeted my a holy smite will they will often let the no pvp clause of pfs slide and get hit because it does more damage to the opponents. You do not get a Holy Word/Blasphemy that does not affect you.

3. Morally Questionable Orders A neutral character on the good/evil axis is more likely to follow their law/chaos alignment and not be able to accomplish faction mission if role played correctly that good characters could find it in their hearts to accomplish. When asked to acquire an item from an organization that legally owns it a lawful neutral character will likely disregard that the item will save many lives and have to leave the item behind if the organization is unwilling to part with it. While a could character will see a greater benefit to society in ignoring the law.

4. Lack of Adventure Rewards I have seen several Boons that slide your character one step closer to evil if your character takes it. These boons are very powerful (i.e. free feat). In game you do not know that acquiring the Boon shifts your alignment, so neutral characters need to atone to not be removed from PFS play and get an evil act recorded on their character sheet. Good characters can get a free boon and are neutral or can chose to atone and stay good.


trollbill wrote:
Quandary wrote:
I don't see any rule or stance preventing all players from playing Silver Crusade PCs if they wish.
So because there is one faction that all 3 good alignments can joins safely while neutral characters can join all 10 safely, this is somehow balanced and fair?
Quandary wrote:
And last time I checked, Good characters get an entire class to themself (Paladin) while there is no other PFS-legal class that excludes Good.

Yup. Fair.

EDIT: There is also the Good Domain (and Sub Domains) that only Good has access to, while Evil (and Sub Domains) are illegal, and Neutral Domain doesn't exist.
EDIT2+3: And I just verified, Separatist Cleric doesn't change that.


The best answer is that the PFS is not a good organizaiton. Why no evil then, because evil is not trustworthy so no organization that is not wholly evil wants evil members as they can not be trusted. However, in a certain sense good members can not be trusted either as their morals would likely trump loyalty to the organization.

You thus get a society that but does not allow evil members but also does not truely value good members either.

When you think about it, most large organizations want people who are trustworthy as members but willing to do questionable things for their own benefit and that of their organization.


And I'm not sure that in-game-world PFS is kicking out Evil characters (via unspoofable Paladin Smite tests?),
rather, they may exist in PFS in-game-world, but aren't allowed in the out-of-game-world organized play...???


Mike Franke wrote:
The best answer is that the PFS is not a good organizaiton.

Something to look at is that the scenarios themselves are written by human beings, and what happens inside of them isn't always directly related to the society. Its possible to involve helping someone and being rewarded for that just as much taking an evil tattoo. Heck, you can make it a good tattoo or helping a bad person and flip it. Neither of those involve the society on their own though.

Quandary wrote:
And I'm not sure that in-game-world PFS is kicking out Evil characters

Nor are they looking over you to figure out if your one of those banned classes or races. Sometimes in game doesn't fit well with real life, which isn't inherently bad, imo.

Spoiler:
"I think that guy's a vivisectionist..." "What makes you say that?" "He wrote it on his resume!" "Well... maybe he's just a doctor... A really bad doctor." "Can't be too bad. He has skill focus: Heal." "Well then he is a doctor! We need one of those. The pathfinder healthcare plan is awful atm. They just throw you out!"

Okay, this joke is going to take a while...

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

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Quandary wrote:

And I'm not sure that in-game-world PFS is kicking out Evil characters (via unspoofable Paladin Smite tests?),

rather, they may exist in PFS in-game-world, but aren't allowed in the out-of-game-world organized play...???

I am pretty sure that evil not being allowed in PFS has nothing to do with the organization itself and everything to do with limiting table conflict.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

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Walter Sheppard wrote:
Surely I'm just paranoid.

Don't call me Shirley ;-)

Dark Archive

TriOmegaZero wrote:
There is no promotion of neutral characters, just an overwhelming majority of them.

I'm honestly not even sure if this is the case anymore. Seems every time I turn around there's yet another paladin trying to derail mission because it requires "dishonorable" or subjectively "evil" acts to be completed. In fact, it's not even just paladins anymore! There's suddenly a ton of LG cavaliers that, for some odd reason, just will not cooperate with parties. At first I thought this was unique to the circles I roll in; it became apparent that I was mistaken after conferring with people from a wide number of areas.

To the OP: PFS does not punish characters for being good aligned. If anything it seems to be more and more punishing people that walk the line, at least mechanically. That moral grey area is slowly giving way to lolgood for some unfathomable reason.

trollbill wrote:


I am pretty sure that evil not being allowed in PFS has nothing to do with the organization itself and everything to do with limiting table conflict.

The society itself does all kinds of evil things and has lots of evil NPCs in it, I'd imagine. The lack of evil player characters is likely due to a large number of "evil" characters being incessant jackasses even when that alignment does not require such. Besides that, good and evil in the same party would never end well.

Spoiler:
They have necromancy labs; lots of necromancy labs. They've also been using criminals as cheap labor, horribly disfigured criminals that mysteriously were not disfigured until the Society got ahold of them. >_>

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