About Promise and Mengkare (possible spoiler?)


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Good afternoon! Today I would like to present my considerations about Hermea and the supposed goodness of Mengkare. And this discussion would never have been written if I had not seen My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

I know, it sounds very strange, but soon you will understand the connection between Hermea and MLP.

The Inner Sea World Guide (I own the Italian printed version) dedicating this topic just 4 pages. Currently Paizo has not released other products regarding this unknown region - except a paragraph of Inner Sea Primer. Obviously, one day they decide to expand this topic (but I guess that will be released no earlier than 2017, it is my impression), but until then we should speculate as to the lore of Dark Souls.

Hermea seems to be a kind of earthly paradise: a utopian society by an individual idealistic, the ancient gold dragon Mengkare (CR 20). The gold dragons are, with the exception of archons and angels, the best living represent of the LG alginment – they have a strong moral character, and they be honorable and honest, but also believe that follow precepts and laws are the cornerstones for a righteous society. A LG creature is “honorable and human”.
So in Promise (the utopic city of Mengkare) everything should be fine.

Well, IMHO unfortunately it is not - I believe that define Mengkare “good” is a big mistake.

Consulting my TISWG and PafhfinderWiki, this utopia seems a George Orwell's nightmare. I guess it's useless to ask you if you've ever read Animal Farm and/or 1984, the most political novels about the dangers of totalitarian government. The first novel is a kind of allegory of the Russian Revolution, the good intentions of the revolutionaries and how, in the end, the communism of Stalin has created worse before the revolution; the second novel appears much more "brutal", where the Party controls fearful citizens and conditioned by totalitarian propaganda in a twisted and terrible society, enough to control every aspect of the life of every individual.

The Glorious Endeavor – the Mengkare's attemp to perfect the human race - may be not a noble intention to raise the nobility and human morality, but rather to subdue it and shape it to the ideals of the dragon. After all, is right in TISWG that emerge some details that I would describe as disturbing:

* Those who receive the invitation to participate in this noble "experiment", can be part of it with the condition gives to all personal authority to Mengkare, agreeing to abide by the dragon's considerable wisdom in all matters. Moreover, once accepted the invitation, you cann't get off the island for the rest of your life.

* Children born in Hermea are “given every advantage-educated” - but when they reach maturity (16 years) they are put under scrutiny by the Council of Enlightenment. Those who are judged "unworthy", or who refuse to accept the status of citizen are sent away and never permitted to make contact with Hermea again. It sounds particularly cruel, but at least the children (as well as some "disgraced" adults) can get on a ship and sail towards the outside world - but "accidentally" these ships are destroyed, and on occasion charred bodies are returned on the shores of the island. Some consider that it is unfortunate encounter with pirates or wild nearby islands, but there may be other explanations. Such as Mengkare's breath weapon...

* The ambassadors of this utopian society define Promise as the most virtuous and noble example of human civilization - but the dragon considers HIS authorities much more important than that of humans. Of course, there is the Council of Enlightenment, composed by intellectuals and sages, who run the city government and sometimes provide advice to Mengkare, but his word is the last to hear and determine it. Mengkare has no problem to grant free will to the people - at least, of course, they do not like to act as a dragon, and then these imposes its law as absolute.

* Another concern is that it clearly says that Mengkare, despite being called "pure and upright," feels forced to make tough decisions. An example? The execution of citiziens who prove disappointing or threaten to disrupt the system. Wait, but Mengkare isn't a LG creature? The task is to bring humans to perfection, and you call yourself good, why would you kill those who (in his opinion, remember) are defined as "disappointing" or "dangerous"? IMHO a true LG should impose exile, and not execution, as exemplary punishment... at least that Mengkare does not want to tell the outside world what is really happening to his island. Moreover, the dragon has forbidden any kind of religion on the island, including the good and neutral deities. According to the dragon, its decision is based on the fact that the religious fervor was often a cause of disagreements and conflicts between humans - but this prohibition is it not a violation of the free will of Promise's citizien?

* Last factor, the few sailors who have been privileged to see the Promised to make trade, there whisper of an undercurrent of fear, or rebels hiding in the forests on the far side of the island or infiltrating the Council of Enlightenment itself. They may be fantasies of drunken sailors ... or maybe not.

Now you're probably making clear "Okay, but what does MLP with this nation?"

This morning I had breakfast at 8 am and, having nothing to do (besides eating a cup of yogurt), do some channel surfing on TV until I see the MLP's opening song. So I decided to watch the cartoon.
The episode was The Cutie Map (part 1) presents a new villain, Starlight Glimmer. She is shown to be seemingly benevolent and laid-back, stating that all the smiling ponies in his city are equal. And the smiling ponies are equal because any form of diversity is explicitly denied - this means that the individual opinions, as well as their skills (such as knowing how to cook or paint) are seen as the cause of envy and conflict, for whichThey are banned without exception.
Obivously, Starlight Glimmer exhibitis his true personality conducting Mane 6 in a cave (and causing them to fall into a trap, taking away the Cutie Mark and forcing them to live in his town). Villain Wiki provides many definitions about his personality, like “Brainwashers”, “Communists”, “Dictator”, “Propagandist”, “Hypocrities” and “Lawful Evil” (a LE pony! Urray!)....

And, suddendly, I made the comparison between Starlight Glimmer and Mengkare.

I'm not saying that Mengkare is a Gargantuan pony... but that episode of MLP seems to have some similarities with the situation in the Promised. I recommend everyone to watch that episode, and then compare it with what is written on TISWG.

And about the dragon, I have four theories;

1) Mengkare is really convinced that what it is doing is good... but to be convinced to do good does not necessarily mean being really good. So, he isn't LG. Maybe he is LN... or LE?

2) A group of humans represent a fundamentalist fringe of this utopian society. They operate in secret, being careful not to be discovered by the dragon: they want to gain the power, and was able to manipulate the Council implementing an oppressive policy towards the citizens more moderate (coming to false accusations, or have kill them). Mengkare is totally unaware of this, and he is manipulated by those members of the Council who are associated with these extremists, exploiting the naivete of the dragon for their own purposes.

3) Someone controls Mengkare with a gold dragon orb. The identity of the puppeteer is unknown. Perhaps it is a member of the Council. Or maybe one of the many citizens of Promise. Or, maybe, he is controlling the dragon even before they had decided to start the Glorious Endeavor - and therefore it is maneuvering this dragon for 150 years.... maybe a Mordant Spire elf?

4) Mengkare is a fake gold dragon, who uses magic to disguise his true form. If so, what sort of evil creature could be? Maybe a red dragon. Maybe a fiend (I would be more inclined to a devil rather than a demon). Or , maybe, is he an yellow dragon (see Dragon Revisited)?

So, after this Wall of Text - what are your thoughts?

Grand Lodge

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I have a theory myself about Mengkare, and it has to do with the golden orb of dragon kind. According to the book Artifacts and Legends Mengkare gave shards of the orb to various leaders of the inner sea as a sign of good faith to them. But the interesting thing is that in the core of every single orb of dragon kind, there is an ancient dragon of the same color. I believe that Mengkare is the dragon that was sealed inside that orb.
If that is the case the Mengkare is from ages past during a time period where dragons were at war with one another, which might explain his harsher version of lawful good to lawful neutral.
As for executing people those who leave, in the inner sear primer book there is a trait you can get called Hermean Paragon which states you failed to live up the islands standards and were cast off. Which means that Mengkare doesn't execute every single person who does leave the island, in which case if he does kill some people who would he kill? Most likely the people who are evil and come from his island, as this is an experiment to him and he doesn't want to contaminate the rest of the world with the toxic byproduct that he might on occasion produce.


Maybe I badly explained myself. I did not mean that Mengkare kill (or want to kill) anyone who decides to leave the island, but if he is a real LG he can't decide to execute "disappointing" citizien.

From the Book of Vile Darkness wrote:
Execution of prisoners, far from light and hope of rescue, is something all creatures fear when venturing into realms where vengeance or brute malice holds sway. Despicable overlords and despotic states alike enjoy particularly cruel forms of execution, deriding even the idea of lesser penalties. And even an otherwise enlightened society may find that vengeance is more important to it than reformation of the convicted. And so the executioner’s profession never lacks for work.

In a good kingdom with the death penalty, it should be applied to murderers, traitors and deserters. But what could be the dragon's reasons to terminate his citiziens? TISWG is deliberately ambiguous on this argument, but one thing is clear: if in a place that is called "paradise on earth" there is the death penalty, there is something wrong. I mean: if Mengarke really wants lead humans to perfection (not only physical, but also intellectual and moral) and defines itself good and right... why do you will kill a "disappointing" citizien? What kind of example wants to give to humans who have decided to give her trust? Of course we must still see if the dragon is really good... a dragon, for its nature and longevity, has a different mentality from that of a human... but, remember, Pathfinder have a objective approach for alignments. I found this site that explains in detail each of the nine alignments, and here's what he says about the LN (probably the Mengarke's alignment, provided that he is not evil):

easydamus wrote:

A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs him. Order and organization are paramount to him. He may believe in personal order and live by a code or standard, or he may believe in order for all and favor a strong, organized government. Lawful neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you are reliable and honorable without being a zealot. However, lawful neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it seeks to eliminate all freedom, choice, and diversity in society.

A community with a lawful neutral government has a codified set of laws that are followed to the letter. Those in power usually insist that visitors (as well as residents) obey all local rules and regulations. In a lawful neutral society, The people are not only law-abiding, they are passionate creators of arcane bureaucracies. The tendency to organize and regulate everything easily gets out of control. In large empires there are ministries, councils, commissions, departments, offices, and cabinets for everything. If the region attracts a lot of adventurers, there are special ministries, with their own special taxes and licenses, to deal with the problem. The people are not tremendously concerned with the effectiveness of the government, so long as it functions.

IMHO: a LG monarch that pursuing this noble goal but sees that among his people there are individuals who disappoint expectations or that may, to some extent, threaten the welfare and safety of the utopian society... It should decide (albeit reluctantly) to tell these people "I'm sorry but I have to tell you that you are no longer welcome in Promise. But do not be afraid, I will prepare for you a ship loaded with supplies and basic necessities, and you head to the outside world. I am sorry that things turned out this way, but I hope that your travel can proceed without danger ". If he were to be compelled to execute someone, it is because that individual could pose a serious threat to both his community to the outside world (as, for example, a serial killer or a demon lord's worshiper).

We recall another fact of this strange utopian society: a ship full of "disgraced" people and "disappointing" children has never managed to land in the Avistan? Because, from what I understand of TISWG, seems to have never happened. Controlling the Inner Sea's map, I see Magnimar (Varisia) as the closest point between Hermea and the continent. Obviously, it must consider that a journey by ship is full of pitfalls and dangers - but are somewhat skeptical that the ambassadors are able to come and go quietly, while since 150 years nobody of the Promise's exiled citizien has been able to land in the shores of the Avistan. As David Icke would say "Is all a conspiracy!"

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I remember this quote from Dragonstar.

The dragon may be good, but remember it's good as the dragon sees it."

Keep in mind that dragons, unlike Paladins don't have race features that self-destruct over alignment.

Quite frankly the more people are determined to reduce this question as to what mechanic to be applied, the less interested in the story I become.


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For me it is simply this :

Quote:
1) Mengkare is really convinced that what it is doing is good... but to be convinced to do good does not necessarily mean being really good. So, he isn't LG. Maybe he is LN... or LE?


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I have a theory that he's a deeply disguised blue dragon, with blue dragons craving servitude and dominance and all that fun stuff. The red sandstone walls could be to remind him of home, and while charred corpses could be the work of fire, lightning does the job equally well.


I spoke with a my friend about this island, and he told me “Well, I don't undestand RPGs, but from what you've described the situazion... seem a kind of Communist society rather than a meritocracy".

This might be partially true – Promise have barter as economic system, any form of religion is prohibited and, despite all nice words of Promise's ambassadors, in this society there is no democracy. Sure, we have a Council which manages the city government... but it is the dragon that, in fact, take any decision for "the good of society" and so it is free to accept or reject the will of the people and the Council's advice. We must then determine whether the members of this Council are individuals chosen for their skills (martial, magical or diplomatic) or if, instead, for their devotion to Mengkare.

here is another factor we have to clarify: what is meant by "disappointing" citizien? Remember, these individuals are put to death... perhaps they are people with skills and merits overvalued? Or, more likely, those who have challenged the decisions of Mengkare? Since it is the dragon that pronounces the last word, and it is to him to say "this is right, that is wrong"... I believe that people can not express their dissent without the danger of being labeled as "disappointing" or "threats". And if Promessa is under a dictatorship, there may be a secret police.

And now, a likely situation in Promise!

Spoiler:
Jim was shaking. When the man had come to tell him that Mengkare itself wanted to talk to him was elated. But now, in front of the gargantuan dragon, he could not feel within themselves a sense of threat.
This was his first time he watched so closely Mengkare. Its golden scales reflect sunlight like a mirror; the wings, large as Gathering Square, were nicely folded behind his back; and its tail, immensely larger than the bear that hunters had killed a few days ago (and they had brought her carcass in town to flay), looked like a huge snake that was staring at the boy and that, suddenly, he jumped forward to devour it in one bite. But they were the eyes of the dragon, similar to emeralds as big as a wagon, which were now peering silently the young painter.
“Thank you” said the dragon - and this surprises Jim, because it was the first time I heard him speak, and no one would ever expect that his voice gentle as a caress. "Now you can go back to your duties." The man, with a nod, he took leave from Mengkare and walked away leaving Jim alone - in the presence of the Promise's founder.
The dragon tilted its head slightly to the left, continuing to scrutinize Jim until its jaws opened .. revealing what might seem like a smile? "I've heard of you, my boy”
Jim gasped. “S-s-sir, if somehow I have o-offended you...”
Mengkare opened his mouth even more - and his throat a thunderous laughter echoed throughout the hill. “Offend me?! No way! A member of the Council showed me a your picture ... I was impressed by your abilities, and brought her here to show it”.
Slowly, he raised a claw and pointed to the right. Jim looked away from Mengkare and saw, not far from him, stands on a column was one of his portraits.
A few days ago a middle-aged woman, came into his shop, was captured as the profile of the shores of the sea and, to the background, a ship carrying the insignia of Hermea. After a brief discussion, the painting had been exchanged for three pounds of grain. But he never imagined that kind granny belonged to the Council!
“You've got a gift, my dear boy” said Mengkare with his melodic voice. “They are few who manage to collect the beauty of nature, and even a few who manage to immortalize on a canvas. I imagine that your parents are proud of you...”
Concealing a gesture of pride, Jim watched the dragon in her large eyes. “My lord, my parents are -uh- happy of my artistic skill. But this is due to a great master who taught me how to use the brush...”
“I know. Maester Godric, was he? We all mourn his loss. Human life is short as the flame of a candle ... but it can illuminate the path laid out by fate. And your art, Jim, has led you to me”
“My lord?”
“You're a grown man. And I guess you're looking wife. Well, I think the daughter of Big Walter, the jeweler, would be your ideal companion. She is able to make beautiful decorations with sapphires and amethysts. Your love for art, so combined, will spread to the next generation this passion"
Jim's mouth hung open. Charlotte? The daughter of Big William? He had seen her for two or three times, and always from a distance. Yet he remembered his silky hair, its sinuous legs and upright posture and safe while walking in a crowd. His mind led him to a secret fantasy... and now that dream was possible. He simply had to reach out.
However...
Mengkare seemed to have noticed the uncertainty 'cause he said "Something wrong?”
“I am flattered by your words, I did not expect this treatment ... it's just that ... "
“Just what?”
“To tell the truth, I'm already.... engaged....”
Jim felt a few changes in Mengkare's gaze. “I see. And who is the lucky girl?"
“She is Ann. A.. a teacher. She explains the geographical maps to the children”.
The dragon took a deep breath, investing Jim like a strong wind "Jim, you're a good citizen?"
“What?.... yes I am”
“Jim, perhaps today my words may seem cruel, but I can assure you that you would not be happy with Ann. No one in Promise would be happy about your decision.”
“I... i can not understand...”
“The Glorious Endeavor requires full cooperation by any citizen. I do not doubt your feelings for Ann, but do not let your selfishness compromise the happiness of our society. What I am proposing goes far beyond physical attraction: you and your wife will pass on the technique and dedication that every true artist nourishes deep in his heart. And so will your children. The art, in whatever way is expressed, is able to scratch even the most insensitive souls. YOUR art won me - why not bring this passion to OUR town? Ann will understand. You and Charlotte will be happy, and so will understand the grand scheme of things... You don't want to disappoint me, right?”
"No way! I... I'm going to talk to Ann”
“Good guy. And when you're done, go to Charlotte”

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Aurelio 90 wrote:

I spoke with a my friend about this island, and he told me “Well, I don't undestand RPGs, but from what you've described the situazion... seem a kind of Communist society rather than a meritocracy".

And it's quite likely that your friend has no idea what a Communist society actually is other than what he's heard from American news bytes. He's likely to believe that Russia and China are Communist because they keep calling themselves that, when in actually they're examples of the more malignant forms of crony capitalism, China in particular.

There's also absolutely no foundation for the idea that Promise has taken the stance of Rahadoum either.

You also talk of democracy as if the people of Golarion were Americans who value it, when in fact no country in Golarion, not even Andoran actually practices it in the way we think of it here in our armchairs.

The closest model to Mengkare's society as Mengkare intends it to be is more likely that StarTrek TNG episode "The Masterpiece Society".

Also keep in mind that marriage for the sake of love is a relatively modern concept.


LarazX wrote:
And it's quite likely that your friend has no idea what a Communist society actually is other than what he's heard from American news bytes. He's likely to believe that Russia and China are Communist because they keep calling themselves that, when in actually they're examples of the more malignant forms of crony capitalism, China in particular.

In fact, I forgot to specify that for "communism" was referring precisely to the negative conception. Sorry!


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According to the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting, Hermea is Neutral - which, of course, does not necessarily mean nice. XD On the other hand, it's explicitly stated that Mengkare genuinely believes in what he's doing, and honestly tries to give as much free will to the citizens as possible - he has, after all, selected the best and the brightest to join him, and wants to support them.

What I think is actually happening is that Paizo was going for a two-fold goal here.

First, I highly doubt that they were explicitly lying when writing up the campaign material. If Hermea was not what it truly appeared to be, I think they would have said as much, similar to how Razmiran is discussed - simply put, it's bad business to put out a guide and then say "Sorry, just kidding, buy THIS book to see what it's really like". Things may get the occasional update, but to the best of my knowledge, they try to avoid huge changes. It's simply not good business. Thus, Hermea exists as a potential story hook for adventurers (you "start out" great because you were born there, or your Level 20 heroes can retire there, or they're worried about an agent watching someone and ask you to look into it...), and less so as a place to adventure in.

On the other hand, most entries on Hermea end with a paragraph or two that make you think "Is it REALLY as good as it says...?", and I think Paizo included that as a way of supporting GMs who want to run a dystopian sort of game. Basically, a sort of "dark" Hermea isn't quite canon, but could be easily house-ruled as such for a game.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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It's worth noting that the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting is no longer 100% accurate. It got a fair amount of things flat-out wrong, so it's not a good sole book to cite for arguments or to refer to for information. Inner Sea World Guide is better suited for this.

While we weren't "lying" when we wrote the Campaign Setting hardcover... neither were we 100% settled on what we wanted for the setting. This was before Paizo had a creative director, and the entire project was very rushed (as evidenced by the number of errors in it... down to and including the low-res art on the cover of the book). It was one of our earliest lessons about rushing products... and I really REALLY wish it hadn't happened on a book that was that important... but fortunately, we were able to correct it by publishing the definitive edition of the campaign setting with the Inner Sea World Guide.

And in that book, we kinda dodge nailing down an alignment for Hermea entirely (It's lumped into the Steaming Sea entry, which has an overall regional alignment of CN.) By design. Because nailing down that region's alignment and thus nailing down the dragon's alignment would more or less be a full-on spoiler. One we don't want to reveal quite yet, but not one like "How did Aroden die" that we'll NEVER reveal.

Some day, perhaps. No promises (ha) but we'll see!

Grand Lodge

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James Jacobs wrote:

It's worth noting that the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting is no longer 100% accurate. It got a fair amount of things flat-out wrong, so it's not a good sole book to cite for arguments or to refer to for information. Inner Sea World Guide is better suited for this.

While we weren't "lying" when we wrote the Campaign Setting hardcover... neither were we 100% settled on what we wanted for the setting. This was before Paizo had a creative director, and the entire project was very rushed (as evidenced by the number of errors in it... down to and including the low-res art on the cover of the book). It was one of our earliest lessons about rushing products... and I really REALLY wish it hadn't happened on a book that was that important... but fortunately, we were able to correct it by publishing the definitive edition of the campaign setting with the Inner Sea World Guide.

And in that book, we kinda dodge nailing down an alignment for Hermea entirely (It's lumped into the Steaming Sea entry, which has an overall regional alignment of CN.) By design. Because nailing down that region's alignment and thus nailing down the dragon's alignment would more or less be a full-on spoiler. One we don't want to reveal quite yet, but not one like "How did Aroden die" that we'll NEVER reveal.

Some day, perhaps. No promises (ha) but we'll see!

It is it possible that part of the problem is assigning alignments to countries as if they were persons?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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LazarX wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

It's worth noting that the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting is no longer 100% accurate. It got a fair amount of things flat-out wrong, so it's not a good sole book to cite for arguments or to refer to for information. Inner Sea World Guide is better suited for this.

While we weren't "lying" when we wrote the Campaign Setting hardcover... neither were we 100% settled on what we wanted for the setting. This was before Paizo had a creative director, and the entire project was very rushed (as evidenced by the number of errors in it... down to and including the low-res art on the cover of the book). It was one of our earliest lessons about rushing products... and I really REALLY wish it hadn't happened on a book that was that important... but fortunately, we were able to correct it by publishing the definitive edition of the campaign setting with the Inner Sea World Guide.

And in that book, we kinda dodge nailing down an alignment for Hermea entirely (It's lumped into the Steaming Sea entry, which has an overall regional alignment of CN.) By design. Because nailing down that region's alignment and thus nailing down the dragon's alignment would more or less be a full-on spoiler. One we don't want to reveal quite yet, but not one like "How did Aroden die" that we'll NEVER reveal.

Some day, perhaps. No promises (ha) but we'll see!

It is it possible that part of the problem is assigning alignments to countries as if they were persons?

Nope. Alignments can be assigned to anything. Be they people, regions, planes, magic items, and so on. The system is very versatile.

The problem is that we want to keep it mysterious for now until we decide not to.


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Which makes sense - having more things to reveal can help keep people excited, no? I can already think of several good ways to do a reveal, and I must admit to being quite curious about seeing what you ultimately end up doing. XD

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
LazarX wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

It's worth noting that the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting is no longer 100% accurate. It got a fair amount of things flat-out wrong, so it's not a good sole book to cite for arguments or to refer to for information. Inner Sea World Guide is better suited for this.

While we weren't "lying" when we wrote the Campaign Setting hardcover... neither were we 100% settled on what we wanted for the setting. This was before Paizo had a creative director, and the entire project was very rushed (as evidenced by the number of errors in it... down to and including the low-res art on the cover of the book). It was one of our earliest lessons about rushing products... and I really REALLY wish it hadn't happened on a book that was that important... but fortunately, we were able to correct it by publishing the definitive edition of the campaign setting with the Inner Sea World Guide.

And in that book, we kinda dodge nailing down an alignment for Hermea entirely (It's lumped into the Steaming Sea entry, which has an overall regional alignment of CN.) By design. Because nailing down that region's alignment and thus nailing down the dragon's alignment would more or less be a full-on spoiler. One we don't want to reveal quite yet, but not one like "How did Aroden die" that we'll NEVER reveal.

Some day, perhaps. No promises (ha) but we'll see!

It is it possible that part of the problem is assigning alignments to countries as if they were persons?

Nope. Alignments can be assigned to anything. Be they people, regions, planes, magic items, and so on. The system is very versatile.

The problem is that we want to keep it mysterious for now until we decide not to.

Did you ever see Star Trek's "The Masterpiece Society" that I mentioned before? Any comments on it's relevance?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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LazarX wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
LazarX wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

It's worth noting that the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting is no longer 100% accurate. It got a fair amount of things flat-out wrong, so it's not a good sole book to cite for arguments or to refer to for information. Inner Sea World Guide is better suited for this.

While we weren't "lying" when we wrote the Campaign Setting hardcover... neither were we 100% settled on what we wanted for the setting. This was before Paizo had a creative director, and the entire project was very rushed (as evidenced by the number of errors in it... down to and including the low-res art on the cover of the book). It was one of our earliest lessons about rushing products... and I really REALLY wish it hadn't happened on a book that was that important... but fortunately, we were able to correct it by publishing the definitive edition of the campaign setting with the Inner Sea World Guide.

And in that book, we kinda dodge nailing down an alignment for Hermea entirely (It's lumped into the Steaming Sea entry, which has an overall regional alignment of CN.) By design. Because nailing down that region's alignment and thus nailing down the dragon's alignment would more or less be a full-on spoiler. One we don't want to reveal quite yet, but not one like "How did Aroden die" that we'll NEVER reveal.

Some day, perhaps. No promises (ha) but we'll see!

It is it possible that part of the problem is assigning alignments to countries as if they were persons?

Nope. Alignments can be assigned to anything. Be they people, regions, planes, magic items, and so on. The system is very versatile.

The problem is that we want to keep it mysterious for now until we decide not to.

Did you ever see Star Trek's "The Masterpiece Society" that I mentioned before? Any comments on it's relevance?

I've seen lots of Star Trek, but very very few of them do I associate with the name of the episode. So I can't say off the top of my head, and if I COULD I would not, since any comments on its relevance I would make would be more or less the same as confirming, considering how the internet dissects words and puts so much weight on them. Sorry!


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Mengkare's a vigilante. :D


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Cthulhudrew wrote:
Mengkare's a vigilante. :D

Idk... gold doesn't seem quite Batman's color. Though I can definitely see Batman doing something like Hermea. Unlike Mengkare though, Batman has been proven time and again in his comics that when he says something, he is in fact generally right.

That said, I like the idea of Mengkare and Hermea and have been working on my own campaign for that particular island that involves many more dragons as well as Daralathyxl is a big ole' mythic campaign. Not sure when James is going to reveal the truth behind it, but I imagine it's years out so I've got time to do this before my theory is shot ^_^


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I believe many of you are missing the point and/or goal of Mengkare and his Grand Experiment. I stress 'experiment'. I believe he remains the example of LG also. Despite the constant conflict humans engage in, he has also seen the greatness of humans. Humans are a very young race. So, he secured his realm, and began gathering the best of humanity. Not all humans who are the best are good alignment. To manage and control the goal of this experiment, he has everyone sign a contract and he has absolute authority. But, he takes mostly a hands-off approach to observe. Since not all the participants are of good alignment, some humans would naturally try to warp this experiment to their own ends. Thus, the rumors of outcasts on other parts of the island or charred bodies washed up on the shore may very well have resulted from the consequences of their behavior and violating the terms of their contract. Also, remember WHERE the island is located. The Ulfen island chain of the Ironbound Archipelago is a short distance North. Seafaring Ulfen raiders/traders. Charred bodies from these raiders/pirates is also quite likely. I don't believe that any conspiracy that may exist from Hermea is initiated by Mengkare, but possible narcissistic members of the community, that may have plans to usurp control of Hermea. Naturally, they will probably end of as charred bodies on the shores of Hermea. Don't focus so much on Mengkare's morals. Start looking at the members of the community. We are only just human. That in itself can and has caused much chaos.


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Check out these old threads for interesting discussion on Hermea:
Hermea thread 1
Hermea thread 2


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Jealousy breeds contempt, since Mengkare is running one hell of an idyllic society it would make sense for there to be a lot of people really butthurt about not getting in.

It's also really odd how so many people have trouble with Mengkare, a Lawful Good dragon, taking measures to ensure the Glorious Endeavor continues to run smoothly. It makes sense to remove the disappointments and toss 'em on a boat to the mainland, and it makes sense for the occasional psychic to mind-read a population for potential dissidents. How else would a society of 10/10 geniuses banging out Apex Humans function? Through pixie farts and Chaotic Good spunky rebel tendencies?

Please, Mengkare knows what he's doing.

Etonwan wrote:

Don't focus so much on Mengkare's morals. Start looking at the members of the community. We are only just human. That in itself can and has caused much chaos.

Exactly this, it is extremely difficult to tarnish (or burnish) a dragon, and probably even more so when it's a Great Wyrm. Mengkare is not the evil in this equation, human nature is, and Mengkare's role is to make sure the bad apples don't crop up before they can poison society.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

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Also, bear in mind that Mengkare started his Glorious Experiment while Aroden was still alive, with prophesies that indicated that he would be returning in a reasonably short period of time to bring forth an enlightened age for humanity.

So, the dragon set up his process, with strong reasons to believe that Aroden would be returning, making the Glorious Experiment either redundant and pointless, or else actively impeding Aroden's will for humanity.

You've got to admit, that takes a lot of hubris, even for an ancient gold dragon.

It also points us towards a very powerful being, who had a clear motive for making sure Aroden *didn't* come back and wreck things.

Executive Editor

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Aurelio 90 wrote:

soon you will understand the connection between Hermea and MLP.

This phrase delights me immensely. :)


Etonwan wrote:

Spoiler:
I believe many of you are missing the point and/or goal of Mengkare and his Grand Experiment. I stress 'experiment'. I believe he remains the example of LG also. Despite the constant conflict humans engage in, he has also seen the greatness of humans. Humans are a very young race. So, he secured his realm, and began gathering the best of humanity. Not all humans who are the best are good alignment. To manage and control the goal of this experiment, he has everyone sign a contract and he has absolute authority. But, he takes mostly a hands-off approach to observe. Since not all the participants are of good alignment, some humans would naturally try to warp this experiment to their own ends. Thus, the rumors of outcasts on other parts of the island or charred bodies washed up on the shore may very well have resulted from the consequences of their behavior and violating the terms of their contract. Also, remember WHERE the island is located. The Ulfen island chain of the Ironbound Archipelago is a short distance North. Seafaring Ulfen raiders/traders. Charred bodies from these raiders/pirates is also quite likely. I don't believe that any conspiracy that may exist from Hermea is initiated by Mengkare, but possible narcissistic members of the community, that may have plans to usurp control of Hermea. Naturally, they will probably end of as charred bodies on the shores of Hermea. Don't focus so much on Mengkare's morals. Start looking at the members of the community. We are only just human. That in itself can and has caused much chaos.

Young? The humans have multiple examples of the oldest and most powerful civilizations on Golarion. Azlant, Shory, Osirion, etc., and on top of that, they have at least 6 gods among their number, probably 7 because I doubt Norgorber is a non-human since non-humans are practically non-existent in Golarion for doing big and important things. Certainly not apotheosis.

You can call the humans many things, but 'young and inexperienced' they most certainly are not. You don't see elves or dwarves making flying cities or world spanning empires or creating "I AM A GOD NOW" spells.


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Myrryr wrote:
You don't see elves or dwarves making flying cities or world spanning empires or creating "I AM A GOD NOW" spells.

The elves do have the aiudara network, which is interplanetary (at least).


Echo Vining wrote:
Myrryr wrote:
You don't see elves or dwarves making flying cities or world spanning empires or creating "I AM A GOD NOW" spells.
The elves do have the aiudara network, which is interplanetary (at least).

Ah, yes... so impressive, a wizard managed to learn how to cast a combined interplanetary teleport and teleport circle spell. Clearly the elves, with their one kingdom on two different planets and no divine members are a match for the several dozen human civilizations on Golarion alone.

Sorry, 'bout the sarcasm, just a tad salty about that 'if you're not human, you're not important' part of the Golarion setting heh.


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Hermea came up during the "Secrets of Golarion" panel at GenCon. There was a little bit of discussion, but basically boiled down to, "we're unlikely to learn more until they (Paizo) fully determine the implications of Mengkare's eugenics".


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"We're unlikely to learn more until the company has determined the implications of the eugenics program" ALWAYS points to LG-ness. :P


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Myrryr wrote:
Echo Vining wrote:
Myrryr wrote:
You don't see elves or dwarves making flying cities or world spanning empires or creating "I AM A GOD NOW" spells.
The elves do have the aiudara network, which is interplanetary (at least).

Ah, yes... so impressive, a wizard managed to learn how to cast a combined interplanetary teleport and teleport circle spell. Clearly the elves, with their one kingdom on two different planets and no divine members are a match for the several dozen human civilizations on Golarion alone.

Sorry, 'bout the sarcasm, just a tad salty about that 'if you're not human, you're not important' part of the Golarion setting heh.

That always bothered me in Star Wars: Dozens of alien species and humans are still the center of the galaxy.

About Hermea my greatest interrogation is how hard it would be for a powerful disruptive element to infiltrate and corrupt/take over the island, given their habit of recruiting remarkable people.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cruel Illusion wrote:


That always bothered me in Star Wars: Dozens of alien species and humans are still the center of the galaxy.

Canon has it that humans are the most adaptable AND the most... prolific of the races, which is why they're everywhere.

Contrast with Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Trek, etc, etc...


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Echo Vining wrote:
Myrryr wrote:
You don't see elves or dwarves making flying cities or world spanning empires or creating "I AM A GOD NOW" spells.
The elves do have the aiudara network, which is interplanetary (at least).

It's been hinted however that they were not the ones who built them.


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Myrryr wrote:
Echo Vining wrote:
Myrryr wrote:
You don't see elves or dwarves making flying cities or world spanning empires or creating "I AM A GOD NOW" spells.
The elves do have the aiudara network, which is interplanetary (at least).

Ah, yes... so impressive, a wizard managed to learn how to cast a combined interplanetary teleport and teleport circle spell. Clearly the elves, with their one kingdom on two different planets and no divine members are a match for the several dozen human civilizations on Golarion alone.

Sorry, 'bout the sarcasm, just a tad salty about that 'if you're not human, you're not important' part of the Golarion setting heh.

Funny thing about elves, it has not only been hinted that their aiudara network goes between more than just Castrovel, Golarion and Akiton, but they are originally also from another as of yet unknown planet.

Executive Editor

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Fact: Pretty much any time I give a straight answer in a setting book, I immediately follow it up with "...but SOME rumors suggest that the truth is far stranger, such as..." I know several of the other devs here also follow that general philosophy.

Truth is fine, but conspiracy theories are more fun. :D


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James Sutter wrote:

Fact: Pretty much any time I give a straight answer in a setting book, I immediately follow it up with "...but SOME rumors suggest that the truth is far stranger, such as..." I know several of the other devs here also follow that general philosophy.

Truth is fine, but conspiracy theories are more fun. :D

... but SOME rumors suggest that the truth is far stranger, such as James Sutter secretly being legally obligated by Zon-Kutho- er, an undisclosed entity to torture us.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wouldn't that be Nor...glrrkkkkkklllllgrrgggllll..................

Liberty's Edge

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The 'problem' with Hermea (and Rahadoum) is that people are naturally nervous about giving any sort of validation to concepts which were previously associated with quite unsavory real world regimes... and many are all but incapable of separating the two.

Yet this is unjustified IMO. Many of the great atrocities of our history have been committed in the name of religion... yet there are numerous positive portrayals of religion in the Golarion setting. Some will jump to say that religion is also sometimes a positive force in our world, but that's the point... none of these concepts are wholly beneficial or solely harmful. Selective breeding is responsible for improvements in all of our crops and domesticated animals. Non-believers and eugenics proponents have made great advancements in many fields. Focusing only on the worst associations of some ideas while putting a positive spin on others creates a skewed vision of reality.

Thus, while it is possible to view Mengkare as pursuing some sort of 'master race' agenda, the available information can also be taken to suggest that he seeks to build a society incorporating the best of multiple cultures (and races) from throughout Golarion (similar to the 'melting pot' concept in the US).

'Good' or 'Evil' is determined by the precise goals and execution... not mere recognition of the scientific fact that a population's genetic traits are determined by the pool of contributors.


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James Jacobs wrote:
Because nailing down that region's alignment and thus nailing down the dragon's alignment would more or less be a full-on spoiler. One we don't want to reveal quite yet, but not one like "How did Aroden die" that we'll NEVER reveal.!

Anyone else think this is a HUGE spoiler in its own right? If he's a typical Lawful Good gold dragon, why hide it?

Silver Crusade

Azten wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Because nailing down that region's alignment and thus nailing down the dragon's alignment would more or less be a full-on spoiler. One we don't want to reveal quite yet, but not one like "How did Aroden die" that we'll NEVER reveal.!
Anyone else think this is a HUGE spoiler in its own right? If he's a typical Lawful Good gold dragon, why hide it?

It's not stated if he's a typical LG Gold Dragon, which is exactly what James said in the post you quoted.


James Jacobs wrote:
Because nailing down that region's alignment and thus nailing down the dragon's alignment would more or less be a full-on spoiler. One we don't want to reveal quite yet, but not one like "How did Aroden die" that we'll NEVER reveal.!
Azten wrote:
Anyone else think this is a HUGE spoiler in its own right? If he's a typical Lawful Good gold dragon, why hide it?
Rysky wrote:
It's not stated if he's a typical LG Gold Dragon, which is exactly what James said in the post you quoted.

Azten, while it's a neat concept that has some merit, it doesn't quite hold up as any true evidence on its own.

Rysky, I think you might have missed what Azten was saying... or, perhaps, you were answering it, but in a way that it seems like Azten might interpret differently (which I kind of did until writing this sentence; though I've changed my mind and I now think you're saying what I'm about to).

To (hopefully) facilitate communication, and to answer Azten, I'll simply let state: it is not inherently a spoiler that they hide something, even if that thing would otherwise be typical.

For example:
- Mengkare is feared by some as burning would-be runaways
- Mengkare is associated with eugenics... as are the Nazis...
- Mengkare is strictly anti-religious, similar to the Soviets
- Mengkare is whispered to brutally suppress rebels

... these things could be seen, when taken together, as powerful red flags. But if, in 'reality', Mengkare is a lawful good gold dragon*, and this is known, than it automatically shuts down any possibility of future intrigue-laden campaigns... campaigns filled with, one might say, the "Ultimate Intrigue"**: whether or not a gold dragon of ancient power and might is corrupt, and if so, how and why; and if not... what is causing the darker rumors?

See, the thing is, if Mengkare is evil or even neutral, that's a fine story. But if he is... why hide it? The above rumors indicate that he's evil, and there are plenty of people on the boards who decry his actions as evil - even those that are literally spelled out ahead of time with no trickery involved and that people literally agree to voluntarily.

We know that the rumors are at least partially false, as there are traits and feats that deal with people who are antithetical to the rumors being true. Yet the washed up bodies and other elements definitively cast a dark shadow on the whole deal.

So what gives? I dunno. That's the point.

I'll stick to my own interpretation (that I believe is not loved around the Paizo office, if memory serves, meaning it's unlikely) that Mengkare is still lawful good - not even the teetering kind of lawful good, just straight up lawful good - until I see otherwise... but because they've refused to disclose his actual alignment, I'll just have to wait and see.

* My favorite interpretation, by far.

** Pun very much so intended.


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Personally, I sincerely hope that Mengkare is legit, it's so refreshing to see new interesting takes on LG and Promise seems a perfectly valid one, with a focus on Lawful as well as good.
For alignment Mr Jacobs, maybe he's Mythic 3 resulting in him having the beyond morality ability, which'd let you keep the exact details of how legit he is under wraps for the entire length of an AP and would explain how he can't just prove he's good by having Paladins occasionally wave him through whenever rumors pop up.


BLloyd607502 wrote:

Personally, I sincerely hope that Mengkare is legit, it's so refreshing to see new interesting takes on LG and Promise seems a perfectly valid one, with a focus on Lawful as well as good.

For alignment Mr Jacobs, maybe he's Mythic 3 resulting in him having the beyond morality ability, which'd let you keep the exact details of how legit he is under wraps for the entire length of an AP and would explain how he can't just prove he's good by having Paladins occasionally wave him through whenever rumors pop up.

This is... a very good idea, as well. I like it!

(An alternate idea that I came up with, was mind blank somehow cursed/embedded into him, which he wasn't able to drop; I really like yours, though, as it has solid in-game mechanics.)


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Tacticslion wrote:
BLloyd607502 wrote:

Personally, I sincerely hope that Mengkare is legit, it's so refreshing to see new interesting takes on LG and Promise seems a perfectly valid one, with a focus on Lawful as well as good.

For alignment Mr Jacobs, maybe he's Mythic 3 resulting in him having the beyond morality ability, which'd let you keep the exact details of how legit he is under wraps for the entire length of an AP and would explain how he can't just prove he's good by having Paladins occasionally wave him through whenever rumors pop up.

This is... a very good idea, as well. I like it!

(An alternate idea that I came up with, was mind blank somehow cursed/embedded into him, which he wasn't able to drop; I really like yours, though, as it has solid in-game mechanics.)

Plus it makes sense, after all he's charming enough to build a Kingdom (Moment of Charisma) and markedly powerful, even for a gold dragon.

Besides, everyone knows Mythic is one way to godhood.

An entire AP based around the PCs having been convinced he's nefarious or a villain by his enemies and being manipulated into trying to bring down Promise could be a fantastic AP, a real twist on the usual stuff Paizo does.
After all, what could be more classic and simple than saving the Kingdom by slaying the tyrant dragon?

Silver Crusade

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I didn't want to bring this up but I believe I've read before that the reason they're not posting Mengy's alignment is that the developers themselves don't even agree what it should be.


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Okay, Mengkare actually having the Beyond Morality mythic ability would be great.

Also, as a powerful ruler and incredibly old dragon, I'd expect Mengkare to just be keeping a mindblank up on himself at all times (much I'd expect Queen Abrogail and Razmir to do). Mindblank thwarts all attempts to gather info through divination magic, meaning it trumps stuff like legend lore, commune, etc.

My own hunch is that Mengkare is actually LG (though a dragon's LG can be kind of alien to a human's LG) and there's some sort of insurgent group - probably backed by an outside force - that's active on the island.

As a lot of the shadier deeds being allegedly attributed to Mengkare just seem too sloppy to be the deeds of even a tarnished great wyrm gold dragon.

Edit: And I'll second what Rysky said - it IS my understanding that the two James have an irreconcilable difference of opinion on Mengkare's alignment, greatly reducing the odds of Mengkare ever actually appearing in print. (Though Mr. Sutter may be completely fine with that =P)

Silver Crusade

Maybe not gaming print but Hermea showing up in a Tales novel would be neat, and you wouldn't have to specifically write down Mengy's alignment either!

Liberty's Edge

If the LG deities themselves did not decide to go Mengkare's way, then who is he to believe he knows better ? How can that be LG ?

Silver Crusade

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That's more Gods aren't supposed to interact with mortals on that level.

It has absolutely nothing to do with alignment.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Wouldn't his scales begin to tarnish, if he was doing evil?

Silver Crusade

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Hmm, I'm not familiar with that process off the top of my head, where is that mentioned?


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It's in Dragons Unleashed, but if I'm remembering correctly that was declared non-canon a while back, it was a vestigial left over from their work on 3.5 version of Pathfinder.

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