Book 5: Discussion on Iomedae [SPOILERS AHOY!]


Wrath of the Righteous

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Scarab Sages

Alright, we'll split off to here.

Basic premise: Part 1 of Herald of the Ivory Labyrinth has Iomedae bringing the PCs to her realm. The PCs at this point are 15th level with 7 tiers.

There, she poses three questions to the PCs to ascertain their character. Upon failing to answer the questions as she is looking for, Iomedae calls 'Where are my heroes of the Fifth Crusade? We must wake them up!' and then an unseen choir blasts the PCs for 5/10/20 d6 worth of sonic damage, depending on the question answered wrong.

Please read the actual encounter before commenting in here.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My assertion: Iomedae abducts the PC's and, while those PC's are utterly helpless before her, blasts them with bodycrushing sonic energy whenever they answer in a way that she doesn't like. This fulfills about every requirement of torture for me and is utterly wrong behaviour for the goddess of justice, honor and righteousness.


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Man, i must say that the meeting with the goddess it's a milestone in the campaign and therefore should be as epic as costumized possible.
By my point of vew, the abducion part is way, way more unjust that all the blasting thing. Way mooore!
From what i read, the PCs are teleported away from wherever they are in front of the goddes. No Ts, No Ri. One could ask, if she posses such ability, then way she doesn't abduct the Storm King into a room full of planetars ... o, wait, mythic blasphemy ...
However, I cannot think why the goddess doesn't simply INVITE the PCS, possibly throught a messanger. I've already posted how more simple this make everything (at least for me). Either a Pcs fallen comrade/mentor, or a tiny lanther archon should do the trick.
Gms can even be "tricky" by not revealing who want's them, just make the messanger say "The queen of crusaders wish to speak with you. Touch me and I'll shall carry you to Her". So pcs my think is Galfrey and then, boom! Shoking Heavenly view!


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James Jacobs wrote:
It's basically a slap on the wrist to high level mythic characters is what it is. A "heads-up, pay attention" type thing.

Fascinating. I wonder why Paizo thought that such a thing (especially in this adventure) would be necessary at all? Considering what the PCs have done up to this point, it's a strange inclusion (and eater-of-supposedly-precious-space).

And really, on a meta level - what is the real point of this? As written, it's unpleasant, unfun, and even a bit baffling (and that's just coming from DM's, who get to see the big picture). What reaction were they expecting to get out of the players who are actually playing this game? (This is actually a somewhat serious question - what were they expecting players of this adventure to think? A "whoa, that was awesome"? If so, how?)

"Slap on the wrist"?? An extremely unwise proposition at the best of times in any adventure, and especially so when coming from allies/benefactors/bosses/task-givers. Hrmmm... :/


I could see some groups easily annoyed by the "attitude" of Iomedae (especially if they aren't followers) and proceed to intentionally tank the last adventure in the series. Not unlike the "less than admirable elves" from Second Darkness. By the time I was finished reading that adventure path, I knew that my players would probably WANT a meteor to hit Kyonin. Frankly, I did. However, my avatar might be giving something away on that...

But, back to the point. Why wouldn't the PC's think:

"Hey, we're pretty epic. To the Abyss with these guys, lets go find another plane where we are more appreciated rather than stay and get smacked around by some goddess who thinks blasting us is somehow 'motivational'...". Leaving Galfrey and Golarion high and dry. Ultimately, not likely if everyone is really playing "Good" to the hilt, but how many groups have a Neutral or two in the mix that might take serious umbrage at Iomedae's attitude?

I'd either rewrite this or eliminate the encounter completely. Arnwyn, Pnakotus and magnuskn all make good points.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Arnwyn wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
It's basically a slap on the wrist to high level mythic characters is what it is. A "heads-up, pay attention" type thing.

Fascinating. I wonder why Paizo thought that such a thing (especially in this adventure) would be necessary at all? Considering what the PCs have done up to this point, it's a strange inclusion (and eater-of-supposedly-precious-space).

And really, on a meta level - what is the real point of this? As written, it's unpleasant, unfun, and even a bit baffling (and that's just coming from DM's, who get to see the big picture). What reaction were they expecting to get out of the players who are actually playing this game? (This is actually a somewhat serious question - what were they expecting players of this adventure to think? A "whoa, that was awesome"? If so, how?)

"Slap on the wrist"?? An extremely unwise proposition at the best of times in any adventure, and especially so when coming from allies/benefactors/bosses/task-givers. Hrmmm... :/

It's necessary because I've seen all sorts of play styles... and it's not that uncommon (for good or for ill) for players (and thus their player characters) to exhibit a level of arrogance and bluster and bravado and self-importance that the idea of playing a character as being subservient to any other NPC is unthinkable.

This is an encounter where the players SHOULD role-play their characters as subservient—they're in the presence of a (supposedly) allied deity, after all. And in most cases, where you've got players who have bought in to the AP's themes by this point... it won't be a problem.

In hindsight, I do think I should have toned down the punishment element of the meeting with Iomedae, and I like to think that the vast majority of gamers out there are capable of playing humble PCs when the time is right. Not sure how accurate that hope is, though. Prove me wrong, players of the world!

As for the reaction to the players... Honestly? I'm expecting players who are into the game to not arouse Iomedae's wrath at all, that they've gotten this far in the AP and are now firmly in the mindset of being good guys working for or at least with Iomedae's cause, and thus won't give her any cause to punish them. Instead, they'll come out of the encounter excited to have met a deity and with some cool treasures.

Again... if I had a time machine and knew how some (not all, it's worth remembering!) folks reacted to this section of the adventure, I would have downplayed the punishment element. Probably by leaving the part near the start that talks about how she deals with PCs who are openly mocking or antagonistic to her, and cutting ENTIRELY the "failure" clauses for each question. That way, if you succeed, you gain a cool treasure. If you fail, you don't, but you aren't punished.

And that's probably the best way to handle the scene if you feel that Iomedae comes off as too mean.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think Lochar's suggestion from early in the other discussion was the best.

I am still dismayed that this is now a part of "official" Iomedae's personality. And quite disappointed.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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magnuskn wrote:

I think Lochar's suggestion from early in the other discussion was the best.

I am still dismayed that this is now a part of "official" Iomedae's personality. And quite disappointed.

I get that.

Also... we've ramped back or retconned or adjusted PLENTY of things before. Just because it gets into print doesn't mean it's carved in stone. Going forward, I suspect we'll NOT be trying to make Iomedae into a heartless sound torturer... that was NEVER the point or intent or goal of this adventure, as a matter of fact, so don't expect us to support that interpretation of her personality going forward.

We don't get everything right on the first try. We try to get as much of it as right as possible, but 100% perfection is not attainable.

But I also think that this still needs to simmer and take the test of time as well. There's certainly a vocal group here that thinks it's not appropriate personality wise for Iomedae, but there are others who think it is.

In the meantime... I'll keep repeating the mantra of "change what you need to for your game" and support that by trying to repeat the intent of the encounter, which in some cases is obviously not coming across as written.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

"Excuse me, I know I'm lawful good and all that, but my Herald just had his heart ripped out of him and was corrupted into darkness and I can feel it inching its way into my very psyche. So here's some sound torture to browbeat you guys into saving him and getting the right answers."


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
magnuskn wrote:

I think Lochar's suggestion from early in the other discussion was the best.

I am still dismayed that this is now a part of "official" Iomedae's personality. And quite disappointed.

I get that.

Also... we've ramped back or retconned or adjusted PLENTY of things before. Just because it gets into print doesn't mean it's carved in stone. Going forward, I suspect we'll NOT be trying to make Iomedae into a heartless sound torturer... that was NEVER the point or intent or goal of this adventure, as a matter of fact, so don't expect us to support that interpretation of her personality going forward.

We don't get everything right on the first try. We try to get as much of it as right as possible, but 100% perfection is not attainable.

But I also think that this still needs to simmer and take the test of time as well. There's certainly a vocal group here that thinks it's not appropriate personality wise for Iomedae, but there are others who think it is.

In the meantime... I'll keep repeating the mantra of "change what you need to for your game" and support that by trying to repeat the intent of the encounter, which in some cases is obviously not coming across as written.

Alright, that's good enough for me. Sorry to be such a nagging presence sometimes, but I invest myself in the setting, too and I have to present it in a way to my players where I believe in what I am telling them.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Tangent101 wrote:
"Excuse me, I know I'm lawful good and all that, but my Herald just had his heart ripped out of him and was corrupted into darkness and I can feel it inching its way into my very psyche. So here's some sound torture to browbeat you guys into saving him and getting the right answers."

Not sure what this adds to the discussion.

It's already a pretty heated topic. Let's keep the posts here to be constructive if we can... if only to keep me from crying myself to sleep at night! ;-)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

One of the things I wonder about is how Iomedae transports the PCs to her realm if there is all the deity non-interference rules going about that doesn't allow them to directly influence the world.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I guess for me it's mostly an issue of whether it's voluntary or not. If the PCs agree to subject themselves to her tests, then I don't see the problem... but the way it's worded, it looks like she's abducting the PCs, then forcing them to ask questions or get blasted. That's where it gets a bit uncomfortable.

When I read it, I assumed t


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As for me, I'll probably keep the trumpet-blasting. But only if the PCs do something really stupid.

Like if one of my players tries to grope Iomedae. He'll be lucky if he just gets 20d6 sonic damage...


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

That's what bakahammers are for. ;)

Scarab Sages

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Tangent101 wrote:
"Excuse me, I know I'm lawful good and all that, but my Herald just had his heart ripped out of him and was corrupted into darkness and I can feel it inching its way into my very psyche. So here's some sound torture to browbeat you guys into saving him and getting the right answers."

So, let's rewrite the entirety of Iomedae's scene, removing the sense of kidnapping (though it still happens) and torture (which isn't her fault).

Spoiler:

Very quickly after the party returns from the Midnight Isles, the Sword of Valor shimmers and a number of planetars appear, though no one had prayed for their arrival.

The planetars quickly approached the party (a number equal to the number of party members split up, so they never see more than one.)

"Iomedae requires your presence, mortal Hero(es)."

The party is given only a moment to prepare themselves before the planetars shift them to Iomedae's home plane.

The party appears in the cathedral as noted, but without the planetars. Iomedae stands before the party, armored as if she is ready to ride out on a Crusade herself, though shield and sword are not quite at the ready. Followers of Iomedae immediately recognize her as their deity.

The choir invisible's voices and music hums throughout the cathedral. A DC 40 Perception check (DC 30 for anyone with 10 or more ranks in Perform: singing or other musical type perform) notes the presence of what sounds like a single dissonant note among the music that irregularly repeats.

"Welcome, heroes of the Fifth Crusade. I am Iomedae. You who have proven the most capable among all the crusaders, I would charge with striking back against the Abyss' latest injustice: the kidnapping of my own Herald. I have brought you here to test the mettle of your very soul, for where I would send you, your every step will be shrouded by the worst of evils."

Iomedae pauses for a moment to let the PCs come to grips with where they are and who speaks to them. Allow a DC 40 Knowledge: Religion check for the PC to know that a god's Herald is directly imbued with a shard of the god's power.

Iomedae then continues on. "Answer my questions to prove the strength of your soul and convictions, or remain silent and allow my domain to wash away the weaknesses you bear."

The first question is asked as stated. Iomedae expects followers of her religion to know the act, but is greatly pleased if others do as well. However, what she is truly looking for is the PCs willingness to brave the deepest pits and carry their own light with them. Success as per the book.

For groups who do not answer, or who answer well outside the acceptable, Iomedae speaks instead, shaking her head. "Heroes of the Fifth Crusade, remember your own bravery!" The choir crescendos as all the stained glass shifts, all the Acts of Iomedae save the Fifth changing to scenes of valor of the PCs. Featuring among them the players dive into the Abyssal Rift, the final mine in the Isles, and even one of them braving the dark while lost but guiding under Kenabres.

But among the rising choir comes the dissonant note. Allow each player another perception check with a +5 circumstance bonus to hear it. Each player takes one point of ability drain to Constitution as the note seems to draw something from them. Iomedae does not appear to notice.

The second question is asked as the book.

Success Condition: Iomedae is looking for the PCs to not always put Good in front of Law, nor Law in front of Good. So long as the party can present to her a united front that does not descend into Chaos or Evil, the party correctly answers her question. For the speech, add. "The gift I grant you is guidance from my hand directly. Offer your hand in my name and I will offer atonement instantly." The one use Atonement SLA (CL 20) may be invoked as a standard action.

Failure: Iomedae motions again to the stained glass as the choir rises. This time, the Eighth Act of Iomedae stays while the other windows reflect the PCs and known NPCs actions of offering atonement. Arueshalae praying before a statue of Desna, Jesker in Delamere's tomb (if he was saved), and setting Alrys Harnaste to rest feature among them. Again though, the dissonant note rises along with the rest of the Choir. Allow another perception check with a +10 circumstance bonus as the note seems to ravage the PCs bodies for 2 points of Con drain.

The third question is asked as the book.

Success: Iomedae seems pleased so long as any of the party is willing to see her quest through unto death, or rallies any fearful party members to Iomedae's cause. Continue with her speech per the book.

Failure: "What fear takes you, heroes?" All the murals shift as the choir swells to almost insane heights, shifting to a blood pounding chant. "Did you not face death in Kenabres, before the power of the wardstone gifted you might to face greater demons? Do you hold the fear of freed but fledgling Drezen, a babe protected by mighty heroes? But you are those heroes! Where is the valor that lead you into the Abyss once already?"

The dissonant note of the choir deals 4 points of Con drain and provides a +20 circumstance bonus to the Perception check to hear it.

Call to Glory:
Iomedae does not heal anyone (see below for Con drain results). Unless the PCs failed at all three questions, Iomedae continues with her speech. Otherwise, she may set them a task in the worldwound to allow the PCs to prove a new answer to her questions.

Con Drain:

Unless a PC hears the dissonant note, PCs do not recognize the Con drain though their players still track it.

Should a PC hear the dissonant note, even before any Con drain, and bring it up to Iomedae, she answers as follows:
"Even now Baphomet seeks the power I imbued in my Herald and I must stave off his attempts." Iomedae closes her eyes for a moment and the dissonant note squelches. The note does not return in further failed questions, but Iomedae seems a touch distracted for the rest of the scene.

After the third question, should anyone have Con drain Iomedae notices and heals it without a word.


Lochar wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
"Excuse me, I know I'm lawful good and all that, but my Herald just had his heart ripped out of him and was corrupted into darkness and I can feel it inching its way into my very psyche. So here's some sound torture to browbeat you guys into saving him and getting the right answers."

So, let's rewrite the entirety of Iomedae's scene, removing the sense of kidnapping (though it still happens) and torture (which isn't her fault).

** spoiler omitted **...

Good Call, Lochar

The idea of using the banner is iconic and simple.
Since we are here, what about making up some extra stuff, like different reactions for touched by divinity pcs? Or a dignified sidequest for those pcs who need to "wash away their fears"?


And what if one of the PCs is Iomedae's offspring? No special treatment, surely, but some kind of dialogue change.


For my two coppers, I'm not sure why the players SHOULD be humble. By this point in the adventure they are hot s***, and they should know it. They are the mightiest warriors the material plane has to offer and they are about to trudge sword-first into the Abyssal realm of a Demon Lord that antagonized them directly. Being knocked down a peg by a Goddess who is so far beyond measurable power it's laughable for her to even have a sword and armor is likely to demoralize and piss them off more than "wake them up" or motivate them in any way to change their attitude.

A Demon Lord and his minions are on the same power scale as the PC's. The PC's may be serious underdogs, but an underdog wins by having courage, a winning attitude and a willingness to do what it takes, not by bowing and scraping unnecessarily in front of a being that A) has no reason to antagonize them and B) is ostensibly on their side. It smacks of bowing and scraping before a king who thinks himself not of mortal flesh, not a warrior Goddess whose motivation should be to destroy her enemies by emboldening and empowering her potential agents.

I can understand a test, for sure. There should be some means of determining if the PC's have what it takes to go on a highly dangerous infiltration mission into a complex more hazardous than anything in any AP so far. I just think the proving ground should not be the characters ability to answer questions about the goddesses own deeds while trying to look humble doing it. I will likely include questions in this test, but I will also likely include some sort of side mission requiring the PC's to display the qualities Iomedae is looking for in her champions. If they do well they go with her blessing and the cool treasure, and if not they go alone.

EDIT: Lochar that is an excellent re-write. I will probably be taking elements of it, if not the whole thing for my group. It's much better at conveying the urgency and the need for courage in the face of danger than what is written in the book. I like it!

Scarab Sages

"Iomedae requires your presence, Blessed Child."

Lower the dissonant note Perception DC by 5 for PCs with Touched by Divinity, as they are closer in tune with their mother's nature.

-

Otherwise, in this case it's more important that Iomedae address the heroes as a whole, of which her child is one, rather than singling out one PC. If the party fails a question however, and the child was part of the reason they failed, you could always throw in a line "You were born to this calling, my son/daughter/children. Rise up to your destiny!"

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Drock11 wrote:
One of the things I wonder about is how Iomedae transports the PCs to her realm if there is all the deity non-interference rules going about that doesn't allow them to directly influence the world.

One of the reasons we haven't actually spelled out in print what those "deity non-interference rules" are is so that we don't have to explain that; we can simply make the gods do the things we want them to do or NOT do in order to tell the story that lets the player characters be the heroes.


James Jacobs wrote:
Drock11 wrote:
One of the things I wonder about is how Iomedae transports the PCs to her realm if there is all the deity non-interference rules going about that doesn't allow them to directly influence the world.
One of the reasons we haven't actually spelled out in print what those "deity non-interference rules" are is so that we don't have to explain that; we can simply make the gods do the things we want them to do or NOT do in order to tell the story that lets the player characters be the heroes.

That, and this part of the AP is supposed to be a surprise.


I actually have little issue with the "abducting". I don't see that as an issue. Really, the encounter just needs the sound torture removed and I'd honestly be fine with it.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As far as I can tell, it's impossible to make someone humble by force. You can humiliate them, but it's just not the same. So I wouldn't try.

What would Iomedae pressingly want to know? Well, was there some weakness in her Herald that led to this disastrous capture? If the GM could develop an idea about such a weakness, then it would make sense for Iomedae to be testing for it.

I don't know this part of the story so I can't guess the Herald's actual weaknesses, if any. But some ideas:

--He clung to justice when mercy was needed, or to mercy when justice was needed (the paradox of the LG alignment in many cases)

--He had some pride or ambition that the demons could work on; he wasn't content to be Iomedae's servant. (After all, Iomedae was once a Herald and now a god--why not him?)

--He didn't have the wisdom to see through a deception; he mistook a subtle demonic evil for good. (There's a nice example of this in the backstory of Shackled City which might be inspirational.)

--He became too invested in a personal friend, beloved, place, group, or project, and that became a weakness the demons could exploit.

--His trust in Iomedae faltered, either because of an actual flaw in her, a weakness in his own personality, a demonic deception, or something involving the fall of Aroden. Without faith he couldn't withstand the demons.

Once you know what went wrong with the Herald, it would make sense that Iomedae would be trying to find out if the PCs share that flaw--if they do, sending them to the Abyss would just be throwing good money after bad. So she'd ask questions germane to this, such as "When were you in situation X? How did you resolve it? Looking back, were you right?" for some appropriate situation.

She might also test for fracture points in the group, but you can't do that unless you know the PCs in question. We just had a nice scene in Jade Regent along the lines of "What about the PC necromancer? Do you take responsibility for him--not only for what he may do now, but what he may someday become?" That was a suitably hard question for my priest of Tsukiyo, and may have been a turning point in his taking moral responsibility in a broader sense. So, a GM might think about ways the party might split, and challenge those. Have the more Good characters been in denial about their comrades' real natures? Is there someone here not willing to sacrifice themselves for their comrades, and if so, how do the comrades feel about that?

This kind of scene is best tailored to the PCs, though of course the module-writer can't do that, so module attempts will always be somewhat generic.

The Exchange

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James Jacobs wrote:
magnuskn wrote:

I think Lochar's suggestion from early in the other discussion was the best.

I am still dismayed that this is now a part of "official" Iomedae's personality. And quite disappointed.

I get that.

Also... we've ramped back or retconned or adjusted PLENTY of things before. Just because it gets into print doesn't mean it's carved in stone. Going forward, I suspect we'll NOT be trying to make Iomedae into a heartless sound torturer... that was NEVER the point or intent or goal of this adventure, as a matter of fact, so don't expect us to support that interpretation of her personality going forward.

We don't get everything right on the first try. We try to get as much of it as right as possible, but 100% perfection is not attainable.

But I also think that this still needs to simmer and take the test of time as well. There's certainly a vocal group here that thinks it's not appropriate personality wise for Iomedae, but there are others who think it is.

In the meantime... I'll keep repeating the mantra of "change what you need to for your game" and support that by trying to repeat the intent of the encounter, which in some cases is obviously not coming across as written.

I really like hearing this.

I have a question. but I want to make sure it's clear I'm asking not in a mocking tone but in a really curious one - I want to understand the design process that lead to the encounter being shaped the way it is.

James, you said you intended the encounter to be a "slap on the wrist" for the PCs, a humbling moment. But, I mean, isn't it widely accepted today that slaps on the wrist were a horrible idea? that a teacher should school the children not by inflicting physical punishment upon failure but by making them want to succeed?
The problems I had with the encounter (Iomedae is not acting like a champion of good but like a petty, self possessed psychopath) were not something that occurred to me after reading the section several times and pondering deeply about it - rather, they were immediately and glaringly obvious. Maybe that is because of the large disparity between what I was expecting and what I was getting (I was really looking forward to meet one of Golarion's gods). But the fact remains that you and Wolfgang Baur and maybe a couple of editors all went over the section (multiple times and very professionally, I am sure) and yet it seems that none of you saw Iomedae's behavior even the least bit problematic in any way. I mean, you did say you were very surprised when people read it the way I did.

So what was the process of developing the encounter? how,when the idea of a slap on the wrist came up, did no one ask, "wait, slaps on the wrist are a negative relic of the past - and when the 'slaps' are the equivalents of 20 stabs with a short sword, maybe we are veering a bit into evil territory here. Shouldn't Iomedae be using other methods to teach the heroes?".

I really, honestly am asking this in a positive way. I am continually impressed with what you folk at Paizo can come up with, and it's always surprising to me when I see something that I consider a glaring problem, and I'm curious to learn how that came to be.

Now, to a nearly unrelated question: why is Iomedae only giving the PCs her gifts if they manage to answer her questions? doesn't she want them to have the best chances possible for saving her herald? maybe it would make more sense if she gave them the gifts anyone, but would require them returned by the end of the mission if the PCs answered incorrectly. After all, it's a bit childish to deprive them of powerful tools that will come very handy in the Abyss just because they failed to answer the question... especially given that she is going to send them on that mission regardless of how they answer.


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Personally I'm conscious of the fact that designing games must be difficult, and that no two gaming groups are alike.

My take on this event

Spoiler:

Theme:
- Humility
- Inspiration
- Awe
- Resolve
- Emotions (love)

I'll start off with a visitation. They were visited before after the Grey Garrison in their dreams, so Iomedae will do so again. Is this a dream, or is it reality? It will soon become apparent that it is indeed reality.

Once transported to Iomedae's cathedral, they will find themselves on the steps to the altar, gazing at the most magnificient structure they have ever seen, with stained-glass windows depicting the Acts (foreshadowing to question #1, angelic attendants among the pews, a soft sound of a choir rehearsing, although there is more than a tinge of sorrow in their harmonies.

Iomedae will move up behind them, below them and move a few steps up while they admire the building.

"I am glad you approve of my cathedral, for it is sustained but through the prayers of my loyal followers." Giving a small measure of thanks to any Iomedaen followers in the group.

"It is, however, also my prison." Pause for effect. "There is a matter of greatest urgency and the utmost difficulty I would impart upon you, and it is my sincere hope that the many trials you have endured up to this point have been enough to bolster your resolve and to strengthen your arms. I would grant you three tasks to test your mettle before setting out on your next voyage, that of running the labyrinth of the Demon Lord Baphomet in search of my abducted Herald."

After a pause, and to allow any Iomedaen followers in the group to regain their composure and to take in these news she gestures toward the closest stained-glass windows which shift from one of the acts to a scene of a more recent battle.

"A little history if you wish." (PC may resist the effect with a DC40 will save (harmless))

The group is pulled into the window depicting a bloody battlefield and crusaders in disarray. They appear behind a cleric in battle vestments kneeling on the ground, head touching earth while the battle rages on all sides. It is apparent this is a battle on the tipping point between victory or defeat, a battle against a host of demons. The battle of Raliscrad.

As the group can do nothing but stand in witness, they realise the cleric is calling out for help, and it is indeed a powerful cry, for before him, shimmering in the air a being of purity appears, swords circling his head, a fire in his eyes. "Your call has been heard faithful one, what would you ask of me?"
The cleric slumps forward, utterly spent after the calling. "Help us please, in The Inheritor's name!"

The Herald would tip the battle in the crusaders favor, it would be a decisive win, were it not for the shadow being cast across the Herald's face. Unable to turn around, the heroes are powerless to face this new opponent, but it is apparent the Herald does, and it is with a mix of rage and despair. "You!" is all he manages before coils of shadow and dark, demonic energy shoots across his form, and a strange dual laughter issues from behind the PC's as the writhing form of the Herald is pulled from the plane they are on.

And the group is pulled from the stained-glass window, back to the cathedral, feeling like they've ran several hundred yards in heavy armor.

"This is what face you, brave heroes." Iomedae has moved to a chair off to the side of the altar, mostly reserved for the attendants to priests holding sermons. Looking quite unlike all the depictions of her, The Inheritor has obviously suffered a heavy blow from the events at Raliscrad.

"Can you do it? Can you really travel to the heart of a Demon Lord's realm and free my captured servant?" Iomedae asks as much herslef as the heroes, but any affirmative answer draws a smile from the goddess.

As I said, I would test you my heroes of the fifth crusade, to steel you against the coming storm. "Join me in history"
She extends her arm towards the heroes and the cathedral grows bright until all vision is blocked out.

Next they find themselves on a hill, surveying a land under heavy clouds and thunder. The heroes stand amongst horses and knights unaware of their presence. The Inheritor moves between the horses, showing a sense of kinship with the beasts of war, moving up tp the head of the formation who are at a stand still.

At the front is a young lady, flanked by two knights, all with their helmets off. The older advisers to the young Iomedae seem hesitant about their quest. broken conversatins are heard through the rain and thunder. "...What if we fail my Lady, what then of the rest of teh campaign?" The other adviser is of like mind to the first. "I don't think we have the strength to break this enemy now."

The mortal Iomedae turns in her saddle and smiles, favouring her troops a smile, and her eyes seem to find the ghostly presence of the heroes yet to come.
raising her voice she bellows. "My knights, my knights! Are we not the Knights of Ozem?! If not we, then who shal stand against this foe, and the other foes to come?! History will judge us no matter what we do, but you know as well as I do, history favors the Bold! Join me in battle, join me in death and we shall taste the fruit of glory, and all will remember us!"

All thought os hesitation swept aside by the charismatic commander, the host of knights starts a charge toward the enemy lines, crying as much to Iomedae as to Aroden.

Left behind, The Inheritor seems lost in thought for a moment before turning towards the heroes. "History does indeed favor the bold, remember this my heroes. Now to the test. You must abchor your mind when facing a Demon Lord, for they are vaunt to make you forget who you are. Know you history and use it as a beacon to stay true to yourselves. Which enemy do I face here, which enemy did my Knights vanquish at this place?" (per the first question - Erum-Hel, Lord of Mohrgs at the Battle of Three Sorrows, the Fifth Act of Iomedae.)

If no one knows this, she enlightens them and prays they will research the history of the crusades and use it as an anchor. Shen then transports them back to the cathedral and presensts them with the Chalice of Ozem.

"Now to the second test.
You have a hero’s bravery. You have proven that you can survive the horrors of the Abyss, and this marks your courageousness as surely as any feat. But also you have learned that not all those in the Abyss are your enemies. Some are creatures whose nature can be used as a tool to defeat greater evils. So tell me, when evil assumes a fair form, and when weak villains beg for their lives, are they due mercy? Or are the wages of their villainy always death and oblivion?”

Should the group fail to reach a consensus, she will show them their acts of compassion throughout their adventure on the stained-glass windows and quiz each hero about their motivations for that kindness, and remind any hero that hesitates that every redeemed demon is one less piece on the enemy's board.
She grant the Atonement ability with the hopes that they will be able to save souls for the light, and deny the darkness its due.

"The final task then. How will you outwit the Lord of Minotaurs in his own labyrinth, how would you strike against such a foe? How will you defeat a Demon Lord in his own realm?"

If none of the heroes seem confident or willing to risk their lives she will gently shake her head while smiling. "You have already learned this lesson, you have already placed youselves in danger uncounted times, you are heroes, my heroes of the fifth and final crusade. If you don't have faith in that, know at least that I have faith in you!"
She draws a string off her cloak, and offers the heroes the Stole of the Inheritor

The goddes moves to stand in front of her throne.

“Strike evil in the name of the good and right, and redeem those you can from folly. With the blessing of Iomedae, you shall vanquish evil, and your names shall ring with glory, for even if you fail in this righteous task, your just rewards will await you in the Great Beyond! Take then this, my final gift to you! With it, you shall always be but a step away from home, yet know that the path it opens to safety
will save you but once before it returns to me — save such flight for a last resort.”

The tone of The Inheritor's choir changes dramatically flavor, and the song is now one of hope and valor, and some heroes might just catch snippets of lyrics incorporating their names into this mythic event.

“You are worthy to champion me against Baphomet, for mandate
prohibits the interaction of the divine in even such matters as
personal as the loss of a herald. I charge you as worthy souls to
go into the darkness of the Abyss, into the Ivory Labyrinth of my
enemy, and seek out my herald. If he be dead or worse, I trust
you shall finish things as befits those of your boldness. Heed the
advice I have given you. Go forth on a road of honor, swiftly and
with great justice, to defeat Baphomet and return or avenge my
herald. In so doing may you find the strength to face the true
peril that lies ahead. Deskari always watches, and the time shall
soon come when the Worldwound must be closed forever lest it
consume your world.”

With that, the cathedral flashes white once again, and
an instant later the PCs have returned to where they left
the Material Plane. Yet in each of their hands is a simple
token: a bronze holy symbol of Iomedae. Each PC knows
that he need but hold the symbol in a fist and concentrate
to be transported into the Ivory Labyrinth, one final “gift”
from Iomedae to speed them on their way. Beyond this, she
cannot aid them in the trials to come.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

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I'm going to add my voice to the thought that the problem has cropped up because this is cast very much as 'an encounter'. An encounter has to have a tangible challenge to overcome and consequence if it is not.

By far the majority of parties will never come across the problems identified because the main challenge of the encounter is - be confident, but not overconfident, heroes. That should be no problem for most groups that get this far. For most of them it will be a roleplaying encounter with a goddess. It should be awesome.

However, the focus of the encounter is more on what happens if the PCs mess things up. Most groups will never see that, but most GMs will and it will likely colour the way they run this. Even if all goes to plan, my reading of the Inheritor is not a pleasant one and I'll have to get around that when I run her.

My personal response as I read the encounter went from excitement to bafflement. "She does what? Why would she do that?" Looking at it again, the chance of the bad stuff happening is slim. Only characters who are not the champions that Iomedae really wants them to be are in danger. I still think the damaging trumpets are a mis-step but, even with them included in the write-up, they shouldn't be relevant most of the time.

So, I could have used more time spent on beefing up the awesomeness of the meeting (lots of nice ideas already thought up in these threads), rather than so much time spent on the punishments for ineptitude. So much time spent on what to do if your PCs act stupidly means that we don't have as much time spent on what Iomedae does if she's pleased. It comes across as underwhelming, when the meeting with Nocticula in The Midnight Isles was super exciting.

I totally understand what James is saying about how he meant this scene to play out and I think with the changes mentioned in his post a few up from here, it would work much better.

Aside from this though, I love the adventure. The two set on the abyss are exactly how I want high level planar adventures to feel. Weird, scary and exciting. Great job all round. (I do hate being negative. Especially when so much is so good.)


So I am going to play devil's advocate here and defend iomeade. First of all she is a goddess, but also still a human. She has had physical desires mental faults and such and the only thing that is different between her and any other mortal is that she has a boat load of power. Most people do not know their goddess personally kind of like celebrities. There is what you hear about them but not what you actually see. So this god has a million different errands across the multiverse and her herald gets abducted. There is only one group of heroes who can save them, and she is desperate. Desperate enough to break divine laws and give them a minor artifact and transport them to her realm. When she does not get help she becomes frustrated. She may not lose her paladin powers because well she sets the standards for paladins and if you read any of the wrath of the righteous articles there were plenty of brutal inquisitors whom she gave her power to who did terrible things in the name of justice. Seranae's clerics are always fighting civil wars and with each other on their interpretation of their goddess (how seranae can bestow her power upon many and send mixed messages is beyond me)...but hey in real life it happens all the time.

So I would cut the creative people at paizo some slack. Just add that for summoning them and breaking a divine law, she has granted lee way to all the powerful deity-like beings to summon and outfit their champions. Might make the game more interesting if one of the pcs was a cleric of an opposing god, perhaps asmodeus. Given this is not how Iomeade normally acts but a story where a goddess is pushed to a breaking point of kidnapped or something and the heroes have to go rescue her is a story of greatness in the making.

What I would do, is say that the party begins to feel a dark unholy aura from their goddess, maybe like thoughts of darkness and revenge are plaguing her, so if they do not recover the herald Iomeade is in danger of falling to neutrality or even evil where she could become a goddess of wrath or revenge. Surely something a mythic character could prevent.

Mr Jacobs what do you think?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Lord Snow wrote:

I have a question. but I want to make sure it's clear I'm asking not in a mocking tone but in a really curious one - I want to understand the design process that lead to the encounter being shaped the way it is.

James, you said you intended the encounter to be a "slap on the wrist" for the PCs, a humbling moment. But, I mean, isn't it widely accepted today that slaps on the wrist were a horrible idea? that a teacher should school the children not by inflicting physical punishment upon failure but by making them want to succeed?
The problems I had with the encounter (Iomedae is not acting like a champion of good but like a petty, self possessed psychopath) were not something that occurred to me after reading the section several times and pondering deeply about it - rather, they were immediately and glaringly obvious. Maybe that is because of the large disparity between what I was expecting and what I was getting (I was really looking forward to meet one of Golarion's gods). But the fact remains that you and Wolfgang Baur and maybe a couple of editors all went over the section (multiple times and very professionally, I am sure) and yet it seems that none of you saw Iomedae's behavior even the least bit problematic in any way. I mean, you did say you were very surprised when people read it the way I did.

So what was the process of developing the encounter? how,when the idea of a slap on the wrist came up, did no one ask, "wait, slaps on the wrist are a negative relic of the past - and when the 'slaps' are the equivalents of 20 stabs with a short sword, maybe we are veering a bit into evil territory here. Shouldn't Iomedae be using other methods to teach the heroes?".

I really, honestly am asking this in a positive way. I am continually impressed with what you folk at Paizo can come up with, and it's always surprising to me when I see something that I consider a glaring problem, and I'm curious to learn how that came to be.

Sure, modern thinking is that wrist slaps aren't a great idea. But Iomedae isn't supposed to be a goddess of forward modern thinking. She's not perfect... NONE of our deities are perfect. They all have flaws and faults. Desna's impulsive, for example, and Erastil is super traditional, and Nethys tends toward madness, and Shelyn is perhaps a bit too easy to admit that her brother is really bad, and so on. Iomedae's faults include the fact that she's a bit too intense and isn't the best at making friends.

The encounter itself, as originally written by Wolfgang, had the damage from the sonic blasts MUCH lower (2d12, 3d12, and 4d12), nonlethal damage for non-evil PCs, and no damage to lawful good PCs. It also caused paralysis for a few round. In hindsight, that's probably a better way to have handled it (even though these effects and the paralysis were pretty minor and inconsequential overall). The reason that I changed things to be more significant damage is as I explained above—Iomedae is somewhat impatient and has no time or interest in handling the PCs gently or coddling them. She wants to make sure they get how important things are, and due to the flaws in her personalty, she ends up perhaps taking too strong a hand in that if the PCs end up, in her eyes, wanting or failures. In any event, the real reason the damage got bumped up was because I wanted high level mythic characters to notice and feel like there was in fact risk involved—it's there to make sure the PCs are treating what really, at its roots, is a roleplaying encounter, as an equally important encounter to a fight with Baphomet.

Not all groups are interested or capable of that without having some real numerical threat to their character's stats. If your group is one that enjoys roleplaying scenes like this, perhaps simply saying "The goddess is very disappointed in your answer" is enough, if not more than enough, to punish failure. That's not a question I can answer for you, though.

The fact that at the end of it all she heals and fixes all the damage that she did to the PCs was intended to be a sort of apology, if you will.

Lord Snow wrote:

Now, to a nearly unrelated question: why is Iomedae only giving the PCs her gifts if they manage to answer her questions? doesn't she want them to have the best chances possible for saving her herald? maybe it would make more sense if she gave them the gifts anyone, but would require them returned by the end of the mission if the PCs answered incorrectly. After all, it's a bit childish to deprive them of powerful tools that will come very handy in the Abyss just because they failed to answer the question... especially given that she is going to send them on that mission regardless of how they answer.

Because those gifts are really good and important to her, and if she feels that the PCs aren't the Absolute Best Choice for the mission... she wants to hold off giving those gifts to them because if she feels they're not the Best Choice... then she wants to give the gifts to whoever she DOES eventually find to be the Best Choice. If the PCs can still solve the problem without the gifts, that's great, but in her mind, giving these gifts to a group that she fears won't survive the adventure is the same as giving some of her greatest treasures to Baphomet, who certainly isn't adverse to looting dead adventurers.

Is that childish? Perhaps. You can also call it pragmatic and realistic.

As for the game reason? I just feel that it's better for the PCs to earn prizes and rewards rather than to just give them to them for free. Sure... phrasing it like "You've done well to get this far, here are some artifacts!" would work if you do so in the context of the adventure path as a whole... but I've done things like that before and folks have complained that "giving things away to the PCs for free" (be it treasure or XP or whatever) is bad.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

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I am guessing that writing roleplaying encounters that challenge PCs in a defined way are extremely tricky. Designing combat encounters or trapped dungeons and the like are well defined in the rules. You can do them well or badly but the process is clear.

Encounters like this are central to what a roleplaying game is but the rule set doesn't provide the same clear framework for design. I think that is as it should be. Scenes like this are going to run very differently for every group. Hats off for putting in an encounter like this and trying to quantify an outcome that isn't just a few diplomacy checks. I can see it being a very personal and intense scene if played well.

Thanks for providing your views James. It's great that you have provided thoughtful responses to the concerns raised here.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think people need to remember that Good isn't necessarily Nice. The first thing that jumped out at me when I saw Iomedae's headshot is that she looks intimidating and severe. She doesn't have a problem with redemption, but neither does she obsess over it like Sarenrae. She's a campaigner, a general, has sacrificed countless good people in order to keep the Abyss from getting more of a foothold on Golarion than it already has, and knows that many more will still die in this last attempt. She's severe because she didn't have the luxury of being anything but what she is in life, and can't change now that she's become a deity. I don't have a problem with the damage, especially since she waves her hand and fixes everything that's happened at the end. The PCs are mythic heroes, and are the current Big Shots in Golarion, but she's a goddess, and powers like them get to do whatever they want.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Personally, I would find it interesting to hear how the encounter with Iomedae as written is being received by players at the table.

My reading of it, and many others, seemed fairly in-line what James was saying they were shooting for. Others clearly disagree in their evaluation. However, I am a big believer in the idea that what is seen in the book and what transpires at the table can be very different even without any tweaks. I think this is especially true in a case like this where a lot of the text does focus on what will occur only if the party fails to live up to Iomedaen ideals or seriously blunder. So what comes across at the table could be all of the positives from the encounter, and none of the portions that people are discussing or upset by are even a factor.

I plan to run it pretty much as written, possibly with a bit extra content as a nod to the paladin of Ragathiel in the party, but my group is a long way from encountering the Inheritor. I just wonder if our perspectives are colored by the writers accounting for things that quite probably won't happen and we are unduly focusing on those aspects of Iomedae's portrayal.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I'll say this. Mythic can really enhance a monster. Mythic damage reduction is quite nice, so long as you don't have a paladin in the group (or the monster is actually neutral). But it can also make the players overpowered. I suspect that a Mythic Tier is closer to 2/3rds of a level, even though it rarely results in an increase in to-hit.

The fun thing about my little snarks is that they have resulted in some beautiful inspirations among the other forumites. I rather enjoyed reading the corruption of Iomedae that one person did, and other people have likewise crafted some fantastic ideas.

To be honest, if Mr. Jacobs hadn't risen so vehemently to the defense of the scene as-written, I'd probably not have fixated on this. His defense of how this was written seemed reminiscent of a refusal to admit a problem existed, which was not the case. And his loyalty to the author of this scene is admirable. But it still got me snarking. ;)

The way the group dynamics are looking, I suspect I won't be merging my tabletop and Skype groups to do a six-person WotR campaign (as the Skype group is breezing through Runelords while the Skyrim group (as I love to call them) meet half as often and aren't even done with half of book 1 year). It's a shame as I suspect they'd enjoy interacting with one another. But then, I can eventually put the tabletop group through either the Mummy AP or perhaps a later one (they're moving REAL slow).


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And i was thinking that people were complaining only because Iomedae is a female goddess and her gender role is supposed to being motherly, but i guess i was wrong.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Misroi wrote:
The PCs are mythic heroes, and are the current Big Shots in Golarion, but she's a goddess, and powers like them get to do whatever they want.

And she is asking them a favor, punctuated by occasionally torturing the people she is asking a favor of, just because she feels that they don't say what she wants to hear. "Severe" doesn't cut it, especially since she is the THE goddess of honor and justice.

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