Spinning off from Odraude's topic, in which he asked for reasons to keep Gods from interfering in events in the Material Plane (Or the equivalent in your campaign setting.) I have a different problem.
Demons, Devils, and many lower plane creatures make excellent villains. Being literally born of evil, they can be killed freely without much consequence. They can be summoned by the Big Bad, or a high-ranking Balor/Pit Fiend, if not a Devil/Demon Prince, could be the mastermind behind the campaign.
(For the sake of this post, Devils and Demons will be used interchangeably, despite the difference between the two. Similar to referring to Heaven as a unified whole, ignoring the standard campaign setting's multiple upper planes.)
However, this leads me to wonder. There's usually a Heaven or equivalent full of angelic beings, if not multiple realms with Archons, Azatas, Angels, and whatever the other 'A' group is. (Intentional case to keep all the Good Outsiders in the beginning of the book, I guess...) Beings whose very purpose would be to fight evil.
This makes me wonder how to run adventures which feature demonic incursions. Small-scale ones I can see being overlooked. Heaven is busy, they don't have to respond to every time a Dretch is summoned into the material plane. But when a full-on Demon Prince is manipulating events, or a deposed prince plots to collude with a Devil Prince to reestablish his rule through bringing in devils to bolster his armies, it seems a little odd that Heaven wouldn't send in a response.
On the one hand, you want the heroes to be the ones to stop the evil demonic plot without thinking that Angels will just come down and solve the problem for them. But at the same time, you don't want Heaven to seem weak and ineffectual, (Or worse, nearly nonexistent as a force.) and only sending down a single Trumpet Archon (or similar) to guide the heroes to the next piece of the MacGuffin seems a little underwhelming without a reason.
What thoughts do you have on this situation? Doesn't have to be Golarian, feel free to redesign Heaven and Hell to make an answer.
|Create Mr. Pitt|
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Perhaps part of the narrative is that the heavens as you designate them feel it is wrong to interfere in the realm of men other than through other men.
It would certainly create some moral ambiguity, but then you've just posed the pathfinder version of the timeless question of how evil can exist if there is omnipotent good. Either they can't interfere or won't interfere, you've gotta figure that out and what it means.
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As I see it, the Celestials are quite powerful, and perhaps more powerful than the Fiends. They also work together quite well. But they're not unlimited or omnipotent.
Heaven itself needs to be guarded, more so than the lower planes. Celestials care if an assault on heaven causes misery to the souls of the blessed dead; demons and devils don't care nearly so much if the realm of a different demon/devil gets trashed. Because celestials are more compassionate and responsible, they're also a bit tied down.
In addition, I think Heaven might be playing a long game, where they try to create heroes. Heroes inspire other mortals to be better people, and are perhaps much more effective than celestial intervention at that. If mortals see a real hero, that teaches them that they too could be like that. Although the power of celestials may be more awesome, fewer people would think that they can be like that themselves.
That said, you ask a good question, and I look forward to other interesting answers :)
1) divine mandate of non-interferance unless summoned. If they just show up, it can precipitate an escalation (cold war)
2) they are working against demons/devils (see Supernatural) but are limited in number/already busy either defending heaven or assulting Hell.
3) because they don't like mortals for the most part (again, see Supernatural)
I think this is being overthought.
A demonic or hellish invasion is so massive and rare that the celestials must respond. I simply decide that there's a lot more fiends. I'll have there be many more pit fiends than solars, as an example. The celestials are losing, and have to ally with or recruit mortals (such as the PCs) to have a chance.
I recall reading a movie director saying the villain must always be more powerful than the hero, and I agree. If the Big Good can beat the Big Bad it's boring.
I think this is being overthought.
A demonic or hellish invasion is so massive and rare that the celestials must respond.
After four crusades, with a fifth ongoing, there still isn't the kind of celestial response your logic suggests should have appeared to close Golarion's Worldwound.
Which leads one to believe that the good planes simply don't have the resources to respond.
There seems to be a persistent thought in this thread that Good and Evil are equivalent forces, equivalently matched, where in most classic fantasy worlds including the worlds of TSR, WOTC, and Paizo, it's clearly not the case. The powers of Good are much more dependent on mortals to get the needed jobs done. The only thing that keeps the upper planes sacrosanct form a massed demonic invasion is that the environments themselves are so anathema to the latter.
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Good topic and interesting answers. I can think of a couple of other possibilities:
1) Maybe the map of the planes is incomplete (or has changed), so another plane (like the Far Realm) has intruded. The evil types don't care, as it hasn't affected them yet.
2) It could be that only souls that have acquired a certain level of power (be it sword swinging, casting spells, ruling a kingdom, or having a certain level of wealth) can become Capital O Outsiders (angels, devils, etc.) instead of just petitioners. Evil attracts more of them then Good. Good may get more advantage out of its petitioners (a billion good petitioners singing praises might be worth a 30th level plane wide protection from evil spell), so Evil tries to leverage its advantage in Capital O Outsiders by having them be active in the world.
AD&D's cosmology had a very simple reason why you had so many more demons and devils in the prime than (usually temporarily summoned by a spell only) celestials: People are more often evil than good when they do register as non-neutral through their actions.
There were actually significantly more demons and devils than celestials, to the point where the only thing them from invading the upper planes was spending most of their energy on the blood-war.
The gods do in fact not give a flying **** as well, as they have their own closed off dimensional realms within the planes, where whatever they damn well hope and dream whatever they bloody want into reality.
The High heavens sign a contract with Lucifer that both will not interfere with the world of the mortals... unfortunately some devils and demons don't think of keeping their nose out of the mortal world.
As angels etc. have very high moral standards they will not break the contract (as long as the mortals can deal with it on their own (maybe with some "pokes" in the right direction^^).
Lucifer sneaked a small line into the contract which allows lesser evils to interfere (something like: "I and all my followers will.." unfortunately demons don't follow Lucifer).
I think Tryn has the right kind of idea. Its how it worked on Stargate SG1... The Asgard and the Goa'uld had a "Protected Planets Treaty"; the Goa'uld were always on the look out for ways to get what they wanted without breaking the treaty. Maybe Heaven/Hell had a big battle and much was lost on both sides, the treaty was made to stop more loss's; But it permits them to come to the mortal realm if they are summoned by a strong enough person...
One more thing! Jackie chan Adventures gives another option. Destroying Hell would simply cause it to be replaced with another evil. Maybe a stronger one... Maybe this is how they landed up with the current Devil/Demon problem, they "killed" one and it just split into two.
One more thing! This was also the case in Legend of Korra. Or rather it just couldn't be destroyed, this worked in their favour as it was the same for light.
One more thing! Uncle is Awesome.
Create a setup where outsiders, in general, require mortal intervention to act on the Material Plane. As a simple fact of planar mechanics, make it so that even if the outsider has gate as an at-will spell-like ability, it simply cannot gate to the Material Plane; a request must come from the Material Plane.
Let them send dreams and visions, but beyond that, they need to be summoned or called by mortals, beings already on the Material Plane. Now, for the most part, all you need are stories, and human nature.
Heaven won't help a deposed prince recover his throne unless he truly is just, good, right, unlawfully deposed, and the current ruler is a tyrant, and so on. More importantly, Heaven won't offer to do so. Heaven might provide aid if requested, but they'll require goodness out of the prince, and Heaven will say so up front, and honestly.
Hell, on the other hand, will whisper, maybe directly, maybe just through legends, about how it can restore the prince to his throne (regardless of whether he's good or evil at that point). And Hell won't tell him what the true cost is until he's already accepted the deal.
The assistance of Hell will be seen as a shortcut to power (probably with a very bad downside at the end, but people are notorious for believing that they can avoid the comeuppance that everyone before them got). The assistance of Heaven will be seen as expensive, difficult to get, and only even available if you meet their strict criteria of goodness.
This, then, works on all outsider groups, not just Heaven and Hell. The more the group wants to be on the Material Plane or directly influence it, the more they'll whisper to mortals.
An alternative is for Heaven to be a bunch of jerks whose attitude is "those stupid mortals summoned a demon? They (mortals in general, not just the specific group that summoned a demon) deserve whatever they get." I've met outsiders like that in games. They're really, really annoying, so unless you want PCs to hate Heaven, I don't recommend it.
|Lord Foul II|
There are a lot of good responses here, but I'll add the different approach that I took to the mix.
I've been working hard to de-couple the cosmic forces from the moral alignment system in my games. Instead of outsiders being the servants of Good and Evil (with the occasional Law and Chaos on the sidelines), angels are servants of ORDER, and demons serve CHAOS.
It is important to note that Order and Chaos are not analogous to Good and Evil, nor to the Law and Chaos of the traditional moral alignment system. Order, in its more benign forms, tends to build strong communities that are stable and compassionate. But Order also can tend towards fascism, creating rigid dictatorships that eliminates dissenters at any cost. Similarly, Chaos can be selfish and destructive, which seems evil. But it also is a force for freedom and passionate emotion, which might be identified as good.
Order demands obedience and offers safe passage. Chaos promises salted earth but broken chains.
The end result, from a story perspective, is that you don't always want an angel to come help, because some of them are just as bad as the demons. The demon may show up and slaughter your family and enslave your town as part of its greed for power and dominance. The angel may show up and enslave your town because it thinks your governor is corrupt and you can't be trusted to manage yourselves.
As a side benefit, it allowed me to condense the various alignment-based spells into two versions (So "detect evil/chaos/good/law" is now "detect order/chaos") which gets rid of the annoyance of chaos/law versions that never ever get use in most games. It also allowed me to tone down Paladins as criminal detectors, because they now detect and smite CHAOS (the cosmic force), not evil (the moral alignment). It elevates them above the squabbles of petty criminals and allows them to focus on the greater "evils" of the world, which is thematically where I want them to be.