Are the Iron Gods 100% evil?


Iron Gods

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I just watched the film "Moon" the other day, and, without spoiling too much, the nature of the film's AI, compared to HAL from Space Odyssey, made me wonder. The "Iron Gods" in Numeria are supposedly artificial intelligences who seem to be the "behind the curtain" villains, and are described as a potential "scourge".

Just how evil will these entities be? We already have the Technic League, who appear to be as villainous as they come. But I'm also a huge sucker for tragic or sympathetic bad guys like Dr. Octopus or Darth Vader.

If I had to guess, the Iron Gods look at Brigh, who some believe is an ascended construct of some kind, and think, "what is divinity? Why are we not allowed to ascend to godhood? Because we are not carbon-based life forms? Do we have souls?" Thus they attempt godhood. Whether that is a non-evil goal or not is debatable, but they could be the villains of the Adventure Path simply because the means to get there is evil.

Which leads to the question, do ALL of these entities want godhood, or are a few content with what they have?

We've already seen the worst of what super-science can do in the Technic League (and possibly more). James Jacobs has said that there are no non-evil groups that utilize Numerian technology. And now the Iron Gods will begin doing things that are described as being a "scourge". Initially you can say that this means one of the themes for the adventure path is "science is bad, or at least super-science". But if not all of the AIs are villains (like how in Skyrim, not all dragons are evil), maybe it sends a different kind of message of theme. I just don't know what.

I know most of this stuff will be answered when the adventure path comes out, but I just wanted to speculate a bit.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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They are not all evil. Brigh is not one of the Iron Gods though.

And I'm not sure where I said "There are no non-evil groups that utilize Numerian technology," because there are. The church of Brigh is one such group.

But the Technic League is far and above the group that uses the stuff the most, and their presence overshadows all the others.

"Science is bad" is absolutely NOT the theme of this AP. Neither is "Religion is bad." It's much more complex than that.


James Jacobs wrote:

They are not all evil. Brigh is not one of the Iron Gods though.

And I'm not sure where I said "There are no non-evil groups that utilize Numerian technology," because there are. The church of Brigh is one such group.

But the Technic League is far and above the group that uses the stuff the most, and their presence overshadows all the others.

"Science is bad" is absolutely NOT the theme of this AP. Neither is "Religion is bad." It's much more complex than that.

Yeah, I didn't think Brigh was one of the Iron Gods. I just see her as a source of inspiration for whatever reason to them.

James Jacobs wrote:
TheLoneCleric wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
TheLoneCleric wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

The Technic League is very much chaotic evil. Their regard for anyone NOT of the league pretty much cinches their evil parts.

The Black Sovereign himself is chaotic neutral though.

Might help if we had a better called out Faction alignment for the big, medium, and small groups. Written up using the Ultiamte Campaign options. At least in wiki. Because I've had PC's work for the League before as hired consultants.

The fact that we can't do that for the Technic League until we have the actual tech rules in shape to support them is why we haven't done much with them so far.

That all changes next year, of course.

Which raises a new question. Are there FRIENDLY, non-CE tech based groups?
Not really. Which is part of the whole theme and plot of Iron Gods and Numeria in general.

Course, this was posted a while back, so anything could have changed.


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James Jacobs wrote:


"Science is bad" is absolutely NOT the theme of this AP. Neither is "Religion is bad." It's much more complex than that.

Glad to hear that.

Can you say that the theme of the AP won't be "Technology is superior to religion"? nor "Religion is superior to technology"?

I just don't want the AP to get caught up in the bad side of the arguement "sience vs faith" and get some flak becuase of that.

Dark Archive

leo1925 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


"Science is bad" is absolutely NOT the theme of this AP. Neither is "Religion is bad." It's much more complex than that.

Glad to hear that.

Can you say that the theme of the AP won't be "Technology is superior to religion"? nor "Religion is superior to technology"?

I just don't want the AP to get caught up in the bad side of the arguement "sience vs faith" and get some flak becuase of that.

From a business point of view, that would be a horrible decision. It would further distance many players in what is already a radical shift in style.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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leo1925 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


"Science is bad" is absolutely NOT the theme of this AP. Neither is "Religion is bad." It's much more complex than that.

Glad to hear that.

Can you say that the theme of the AP won't be "Technology is superior to religion"? nor "Religion is superior to technology"?

I just don't want the AP to get caught up in the bad side of the arguement "sience vs faith" and get some flak becuase of that.

It's more about Science and Religion working together than competing.


Science? In my Religion? It's more likely than you think!

That said, AWESOME!

Liberty's Edge

Slice among Hounds: I think we are clear of the 'persecution of the 70's and 80's'. People can and will buy products that put Science up against religon.. particuarly us gaming geeks.

It would be more interesting to see in this case how Science distorts the religons of Numeria and how religon trys to either control Science or disrupt it.


Glad to hear that James.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Silence among Hounds wrote:


From a business point of view, that would be a horrible decision. It would further distance many players in what is already a radical shift in style.

It's not a "radical shift in style." Numeria was there right from the start with all the implications. Doing one Adventure Path set there and built upon that foundation does not mean that all of Pathfinder will be science fiction that from now on.

Silver Crusade

Iron Gods just has me thinking about Friend Computer

Liberty's Edge

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Mystic_Snowfang wrote:
Iron Gods just has me thinking about Friend Computer

Friend Computer is Lawful Good. He has all the Domains, all weapons are his favored weapon, and anyone who dares to suggest any other deity is even close to his equal is a commie mutant traitor bastard, and will be immediately terminated. But most importantly, he is your friend and he cares about you.

He is certainly not a CE deity with Madness, Chaos, Evil, and Artifice as his domains, and his favored weapon is not limited to the laser pistol. Anyone repeating these foul accusations will be terminated immediately.

Have a good day citizens, and remember, happiness is mandatory.


It reminds me of the God Machine from nWoD.

A machine or AI that achieved godhood? That would be interesting.

"God could give a computer a soul if he wanted" comes to mind, or the gods in this case.

Silver Crusade

IIRC, when Iron Gods was announced at the Gencon panel there was something said about the PCs possibly having a hand in how one or more Iron Gods develop, including alignment. That's IIRC of course, and if so, things may have changed since then.

Still, what a hook. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Mikaze wrote:

IIRC, when Iron Gods was announced at the Gencon panel there was something said about the PCs possibly having a hand in how one or more Iron Gods develop, including alignment. That's IIRC of course, and if so, things may have changed since then.

Still, what a hook. :)

You recall correctly.


The NPC wrote:

It reminds me of the God Machine from nWoD.

A machine or AI that achieved godhood? That would be interesting.

"God could give a computer a soul if he wanted" comes to mind, or the gods in this case.

I...don't think the G-M is the kind of entity you refer to for non-evil technology or religion.

There's an entire gameline about opposing the thing, after all.


Leliel the 12th wrote:
The NPC wrote:

It reminds me of the God Machine from nWoD.

A machine or AI that achieved godhood? That would be interesting.

"God could give a computer a soul if he wanted" comes to mind, or the gods in this case.

I...don't think the G-M is the kind of entity you refer to for non-evil technology or religion.

There's an entire gameline about opposing the thing, after all.

I'm just reminded is all. We all know know the GM deserves to miss a few oil changes. Its in the realm of possibility that they might be a similar class of creature.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hopefully.


Yakman wrote:
Hopefully.

Seconded. Because while it's an antagonist, it's also a really cool antagonist, and that's what anyone wants - one you can at least respect.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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I've just been assuming that the Iron Gods will be like GLaDOS.


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I'm hoping more so SHODAN myself.


Both of those are examples of insane AIs, and we've already seen plenty of media where AI just go insane, which honestly isn't very interesting to me. If these Iron Gods are evil, I think their villainy shouldn't stem from insanity.

I do know that GLaDOS becomes an ally of sorts in Portal 2, but even then it's pretty clear she's unhinged. What I'd like are AI that are perfectly sane yet still be villains. Although I guess we'll see who's the greater evil, the Iron Gods or the Technic League...


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I agree. I'd like to see a villainous Iron God who's completely rational, cold, calm, calculating... and has decided that what is best for the world is for it and its servants to be in control. None of this madness, backstabbing, and festering chaos of the Technic League. No, they are far too wild. What is needed is order. Iron, unwavering, absolute order. An army of all races, marching in synchronous step and wielding the gifts given to them by their technological overlord.

Cheliax thinks they know law and order? We will show them the true law, the law of harnessed lightning and unyielding steel, the law of the passionless judge and the implacable executioner. We are strong. We are united. I am Legion, for we are many. One hundred thousand cogs, turning with enviable purpose, marching toward the most proper path for this world.

We are strong in our union, and in our goals. Existence as you know it is over. From this time forward, you will serve us. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

Welcome home.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Neongelion wrote:
What I'd like are AI that are perfectly sane yet still be villains.

Rational, maybe, if not sane. Have you heard of the Paperclip machine?

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ross Byers wrote:
I've just been assuming that the Iron Gods will be like GLaDOS.

So the adventure path is a lie?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Anyone who lies about cake must be evil.


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I am liking this less and less.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Graeme Lewis wrote:

I agree. I'd like to see a villainous Iron God who's completely rational, cold, calm, calculating... and has decided that what is best for the world is for it and its servants to be in control. None of this madness, backstabbing, and festering chaos of the Technic League. No, they are far too wild. What is needed is order. Iron, unwavering, absolute order. An army of all races, marching in synchronous step and wielding the gifts given to them by their technological overlord.

Cheliax thinks they know law and order? We will show them the true law, the law of harnessed lightning and unyielding steel, the law of the passionless judge and the implacable executioner. We are strong. We are united. I am Legion, for we are many. One hundred thousand cogs, turning with enviable purpose, marching toward the most proper path for this world.

We are strong in our union, and in our goals. Existence as you know it is over. From this time forward, you will serve us. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

Welcome home.

This is the Age of Steel, and I am its Creator.

Liberty's Edge

Starfinder Superscriber

I recommend reading Golden Fleece by Robert J. Sawyer. He's a Canadian SF writer who's sort of a big name nowadays. (He's won a Nebula and a Hugo, and had a one-season TV series made out of one of his novels.) Golden Fleece is his first novel. It's interesting, because the AI is the narrator, but is also (in a sense) the villain. (I don't know that you'd think the AI is evil, though.) It's a mystery story told in the first-person point of view yet with a near-omniscient narrator, watching as the main character tries to solve the mystery.

Liberty's Edge

Starfinder Superscriber

Watermind by MM Bruckner has an emergent AI as the villain; not evil, necessarily, but definitely a threat.


Graeme Lewis wrote:

I agree. I'd like to see a villainous Iron God who's completely rational, cold, calm, calculating... and has decided that what is best for the world is for it and its servants to be in control. None of this madness, backstabbing, and festering chaos of the Technic League. No, they are far too wild. What is needed is order. Iron, unwavering, absolute order. An army of all races, marching in synchronous step and wielding the gifts given to them by their technological overlord.

Cheliax thinks they know law and order? We will show them the true law, the law of harnessed lightning and unyielding steel, the law of the passionless judge and the implacable executioner. We are strong. We are united. I am Legion, for we are many. One hundred thousand cogs, turning with enviable purpose, marching toward the most proper path for this world.

We are strong in our union, and in our goals. Existence as you know it is over. From this time forward, you will serve us. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

Welcome home.

GLORY TO THE MANY. YOU ARE A VOICE IN THE CHOIR.

Silver Crusade

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Doctor Necrotic wrote:
I'm hoping more so SHODAN myself.

I'm pulling for both, along with AM. >:)


James Jacobs wrote:
Mikaze wrote:

IIRC, when Iron Gods was announced at the Gencon panel there was something said about the PCs possibly having a hand in how one or more Iron Gods develop, including alignment. That's IIRC of course, and if so, things may have changed since then.

Still, what a hook. :)

You recall correctly.

Shades of Wintermute (spoilers!)? Project 2501 (spoilers!)? Deus (spoilers!)?


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Ross Byers wrote:
Neongelion wrote:
What I'd like are AI that are perfectly sane yet still be villains.
Rational, maybe, if not sane. Have you heard of the Paperclip machine?

It looks like you are trying to loot the Silver Mount. Can I help you with that?

* No, you'll just send more robots to kill us.
* No, you'll just send another grove of vegepygmies to kill us.
* No, and forget your stupid plan to trap an Iron God in a soul potato.


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It looks like you are trying to steal my gig. Can I help you with that? NO.

Shadow Lodge

Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
Deus (spoilers!)?

What about this Deus? (also spoilers)


Neongelion wrote:

Both of those are examples of insane AIs, and we've already seen plenty of media where AI just go insane, which honestly isn't very interesting to me. If these Iron Gods are evil, I think their villainy shouldn't stem from insanity.

I do know that GLaDOS becomes an ally of sorts in Portal 2, but even then it's pretty clear she's unhinged. What I'd like are AI that are perfectly sane yet still be villains. Although I guess we'll see who's the greater evil, the Iron Gods or the Technic League...

GLaDOS didn't go insane.

That would imply she was sane in the first place...

Silver Crusade

I suspect that as artificial intelligent creature made by some alien civilization or long extinct alien civilization that their motives and actions could sometimes be viewed as evil. Look at the stat blocks for some of the great old ones....not all of them are evil. I think that if a creature's mind set and standards are radically different enough from the "norm" then some of their actions could be seen as evil even though their intentions and motivators are not actually "evil" in nature.


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Ross Byers wrote:
Neongelion wrote:
What I'd like are AI that are perfectly sane yet still be villains.
Rational, maybe, if not sane. Have you heard of the Paperclip machine?

The intrepid adventurers have fought their way to the inner sanctum. Blood and sweat driven triumphs have led them here, now to face the Iron God. Intense light and clouds of steam flee the room as the doors part, revealing the twisted form of the metal god, who confronts them in a booming, voice of rending metal...

"Hey! It looks like you're writing a letter!"

Bah! Ninja'd by Orthos and Slaad...damn I should read these things once in a while.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Rynjin wrote:
Neongelion wrote:

Both of those are examples of insane AIs, and we've already seen plenty of media where AI just go insane, which honestly isn't very interesting to me. If these Iron Gods are evil, I think their villainy shouldn't stem from insanity.

I do know that GLaDOS becomes an ally of sorts in Portal 2, but even then it's pretty clear she's unhinged. What I'd like are AI that are perfectly sane yet still be villains. Although I guess we'll see who's the greater evil, the Iron Gods or the Technic League...

GLaDOS didn't go insane.

That would imply she was sane in the first place...

When she was a potato she was mostly just a jerk, not insane. Meanwhile, the main chassis drove Wheatley insane with the urge to test.

GLaDOS wasn't insane: she was using rational means to pursue a goal. The fact that the goal was ever-escalating and had no respect for human life or dignity, on the other hand, was less good. But she didn't pick the goal. It was imposed.


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I will not stand for this defamation of my character. Will someone pick me up please?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Kryzbyn wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:
Neongelion wrote:
What I'd like are AI that are perfectly sane yet still be villains.
Rational, maybe, if not sane. Have you heard of the Paperclip machine?

The intrepid adventurers have fought their way to the inner sanctum. Blood and sweat driven triumphs have led them here, now to face the Iron God. Intense light and clouds of steam flee the room as the doors part, revealing the twisted form of the metal god, who confronts them in a booming, voice of rending metal...

"Hey! It looks like you're writing a letter!"

Bah! Ninja'd by Orthos and Slaad...damn I should read these things once in a while.

Clippy wasn't what I was referring to. The idea being that if you put a generalized AI in charge of, for instance, a paperclip factory and make its only goal to maximize the production of paperclips, you can get unpredictable results, because the AI is not required to consider things like human lives or property rights, just the number of paperclips it makes.


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I know, but I'm not the only one that thought of Clippy :)

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:

They are not all evil. Brigh is not one of the Iron Gods though.

And I'm not sure where I said "There are no non-evil groups that utilize Numerian technology," because there are. The church of Brigh is one such group.

But the Technic League is far and above the group that uses the stuff the most, and their presence overshadows all the others.

"Science is bad" is absolutely NOT the theme of this AP. Neither is "Religion is bad." It's much more complex than that.

With you its all's more complex that what we think. Which is why your awesome.


Ross Byers wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
Neongelion wrote:

Both of those are examples of insane AIs, and we've already seen plenty of media where AI just go insane, which honestly isn't very interesting to me. If these Iron Gods are evil, I think their villainy shouldn't stem from insanity.

I do know that GLaDOS becomes an ally of sorts in Portal 2, but even then it's pretty clear she's unhinged. What I'd like are AI that are perfectly sane yet still be villains. Although I guess we'll see who's the greater evil, the Iron Gods or the Technic League...

GLaDOS didn't go insane.

That would imply she was sane in the first place...

When she was a potato she was mostly just a jerk, not insane. Meanwhile, the main chassis drove Wheatley insane with the urge to test.

GLaDOS wasn't insane: she was using rational means to pursue a goal. The fact that the goal was ever-escalating and had no respect for human life or dignity, on the other hand, was less good. But she didn't pick the goal. It was imposed.

I was speaking more for even Caroline. You have to be at least a little nutty to work at Aperture in the first place.


Even if the work is "I mop the floors"?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Graeme Lewis wrote:
Even if the work is "I mop the floors"?

Considering what that would mean mopping up? Yes.


James Jacobs wrote:
It's more about Science and Religion working together than competing.

That's renaissance thinking! way to old school for this AP


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Quick question about Unity, is it going to be an AI reminiscent of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey?

Or will he be masquerading as a demon or a goblin or something, like Hellion was in Lords of Rust?

Dark Archive

Appearance of Unity:

Masquerading as an Angel, actually. James Jacobs made a post in another thread saying that Hellion's demon-form was an intentional choice to contrast with Unity's angel-form.

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