Do you like evil boons?


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I think good boons with drawbacks would be neat too!

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Yeah, that's true enough. A special clause for GM credit then?

Liberty's Edge

I enjoy seeing boons with mechanical benefits and consequences like several of the evil boons.

I have one character that has taken evil boons out of fourteen characters. He is a cleric of Besmara that always had death knell memorized to press gang souls for Besmara. He ended up with two season 4 boons.

Season 4 Boons:
I did not know what the mechanical effects would be before I acquired either boon and did not have to pay the cost at the end of the season as he hit 33 exp before the hidden dept was called in.

Ioun stone: I know someone at my table accidentally acquired the boon, may have been me was a long time ago. I do remember convincing half the rest of the table to take one after I had one. Hey it is free for you crazy good people, and Besmara will help cleanse you of evil if you slip too far. Of course I was evil when I was convincing the others.

Sigil Wafers: My cleric was happy to eat a Sigil Wafer as that was like press ganging a portion of their soul. The cleric of Nethys was happy acquiring knowlege. Several people told us not to do it, but we pointed out the chance of getting the right wafer to the right person was minuscule. We knew about the affects of the wafer, but the GM had not shared the destruction knowledge. We also did not realize that the wafers were distinct.

The most memorable boons I have run across have been mixed blessing Boons.

I remember a mysterious stranger that stopped the party when they were on their way to face demons during the Living City campaign. The guy said he hated demons and would be happy to do a favor to the party by giving them a fine demon slaying weapon for some future favor in return. The weapon was both evil outsider and chaotic outsider bane (and it stacked) unfortunately it wasn't mentioned that it also acted as a -5 weapon that teleported to your hand if faced with a devil. There were also several situations when parties had to made decisions on who to help in future scenarios and the stranger would show up forcing your character to vote one way.

There was a Living Greyhawk scenario in Zeif that had tougher than normal encounters that were designed to capture the party. If the party was captured they became research subjects and got a cert that as time went by you gained resistances, lost states, and died two years after you got the cert. I was really looking forward to the other scenarios in the series to discover a way to get rid of the parasitic alien baby replacing some of my major organs. If you made it though the series with the bad boon you were given the choice removing/killing the celestial being your body was corrupting and living, saving the celestial and having your character removed from play(dead), or getting blended with it (chance you were removed from play or you got a boon that gave you some powers from the half celestial template.

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

I gave some more thought to this over the weekend and came to a more nuanced opinion.

While I like the idea of good, chaotic, and lawful boons, evil boons have the specific advantage that no characters in the campaign will have that alignment. So it gives you more room to make tradeoffs that make sense.

In that vein I came up with a few tradeoffs that might work. With proper tuning they might even work for boons of Season 4 power levels. Here are a couple of samples of the "downside" portion of the boons.

Quote:
Although you remain uncorrupted, the [boon] has tainted your soul to some degree. The disparity has weakened your defenses against the tools of evil. You take a -3 penalty on all saving throws against spells with the [evil] descriptor.
Quote:
Using the power of evil to fight the darkness is a powerful lure. However evil has its own agenda and sometimes the costs are not immediately obvious. You take a -2 penalty to attack and damage rolls against creatures with the (evil) subtype.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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In that same vein:

Quote:
Protection from evil no longer protects you from evil.

Scarab Sages 3/5 Venture-Agent

I agree that the boons are a good idea no matter what alignment they favor, but should be balanced better.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

I'd like more evil boons. I'd like good, lawful, and chaotic boons too.

Most importantly, I'd like there to be consequences for taking them. The boons in season four were powerful but I played most of the boon-granting scenarios with characters that explicitly would not take such an offer. There are some minor initial effects, mostly paying for an atonement, but there no grander consequences (and the penalty in the season four finale doesn't really count either). That made the finale a bit disappointing.

Good, lawful, and chaotic boons should have consequences too. Characters sporting the 'holy friendship ring of Sarenrae' should have a hard time in cities that take place in a pirate-aligned city or in orc-controlled lands. Characters that opted for 'Cayden's divine tramp stamp' should get stink-eye when they're interacting with Hellknights. Accepting powerful free stuff should always come with consequences down the line.

Scarab Sages 3/5 Venture-Agent

Feral wrote:
Characters that opted for 'Cayden's divine trampstamp' should get stink-eye when they're interacting with Hellknights. Accepting powerful free stuff should always come with consequences down the line.

This explains so much! No wonder Zarta had all those problems at home. Between the Hellknight's general dislike of the tramp stamp, and her government learning she had gone over to Cayden she really got off light I'd say.

Dark Archive 5/5

Personally, if evil boons come back like season 4, I would suggest the payback comes during the season ending special. That way a pc's actions can help or hurt the group. If everyone takes the boon during the season, or at least a majority of them do, it should hurt or hinder the society, and therefore the players

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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Gack wrote:
Personally, if evil boons come back like season 4, I would suggest the payback comes during the season ending special. That way a pc's actions can help or hurt the group. If everyone takes the boon during the season, or at least a majority of them do, it should hurt or hinder the society, and therefore the players

But what about people who play the evil boon scenarios with one character, an the special with another? If you have five or more characters (which isn't unusual) the chance of that happening by pure luck is already quite high.

Scarab Sages 5/5 Venture-Captain, Netherlands aka Woran

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I think the emerald spire boons are really spot on: A nice blend of drawbacks and gain.

That said: I would love a boon to be all or nothing. Either you accept the boon and its negative consequences, or you dont get to use it. Payed for atonement? Loose the good stuff too.

Good/chaotic/lawfull boons would be really awesome too, but they need the same deal: Either you get the good and the bad together, or not at all.

emerald spire chronicle item:
I think the book of the damned is a real good example. It has a chance to do bad every time you use it, and if you use it enough, you will suffer the bad effects. But if you destroy it, you get a small benefit. I really like it. Some players still have not picked what to do (use or destroy) and I love the character angst it creates.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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The book was an amazing roleplaying aid in hindsight.

In a hard situation? Out of moves and feeling outgunned? Well, what about the book you found? Could be a life saver. One (more) time couldn't hurt!

You'll always have it in the back of your mind. Available and so very tempting.

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

My neutral good hunter played all the season 4 scenarios with the evil boons and the one where they were supposed to have a serious downside. The downside didn't affect me personally, but killing my animal companion... twice... was enough.

My take on the issue, the benefits were too good to pass up (and even then my character didn't take every boon), and I still have no idea why one or two of those were evil acts.

Personally, I am really not a fan of the implementation:

- Atonement to is too cheap, most of those are a steal for the cost of an atonement.
- Nothing for good characters, either you take the evil option or you don't get a boon.
- As mentioned above, players should be aware what is an evil act, and why.
- As is so often the case, neutral (especially true neutral) seems to be the most effective alignment at avoiding a lot of unpleasant alignment based effects (or all with a certain feat..), I very much prefer a situation where the players can be assumed not to be bigger villains than their enemies.

By all means, when it is appropriate, do more evil boons, but give players some kind of warning ^^

Liberty's Edge 4/5 Venture-Captain, Virginia—Richmond aka Slothsy

I would like to see the "too good to be true" boons get more downsides in general. In the case of the season four boons, I played through it/applied GM credit to a character that always skirted the line of neutrality and evil (or, at the very least, was willing to do anything to acquire knowledge of the past). It made sense for him to accept the items and I even paid for the Cultist Kiss boon, as he would've taken it if he played through it. However, I would've been very frustrated if I had played, say, one of my rogues and was essentially locked out of boons because that character stuck to their moral code. Having evil-leaning things is cool and would be great, but definitely needs to come with an appropriate price tag.

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 aka GreySector

I had previously posted my feelings regarding a certain Season 4 'evil' item here.

4/5 Venture-Agent, Minnesota—St. Louis Park aka BretI

I mostly play good aligned characters. I only have one neutral aligned character who might knowingly take an evil boon.

I think that any alignment boon and any associated drawbacks should clearly link to both the power that granted it and the alignment. There should always be some sort of signs as to what that power is.

I think that the way that Destiny of the Sands Part III handled it has some merit.

Spoiler:
You got an immediate bonus during the scenario from accepting the power. You got a lasting mostly negative boon for doing so. Provide a temptation and then the bill comes due soon after.

In all cases, any alignment boons should be considered in terms of what sort of story you want to present. The first question should be how does this boon help tell the story and bring across the different attitudes represented by the power that granted it. Linking opposing alignments would also be interesting.

Evil may provide a powerful temptation in the form of a bonus that is situational but immediately useful. The drawbacks become apparent later. Good may give a bonus for having avoided the temptation evil put forth.

Having a boon that is an aid and a drawback at the same time would be interesting. Say a chaotic boon associated with trickery that gives +1 save vs. lawful aligned spells, +2 CMD to escape grapples but -2 save vs. illusions, -4 CMB (but not CMD) to grapple a target.

The Exchange 5/5

John Compton wrote:
Also, if one of your PCs accepted such a boon, I'm interested in hearing why. Has the character always skirted the border between neutrality and evil, and this was a way to express it? Does your character worship an evil deity? Was the boon just mechanically too good to pass up? Was it an accident—whether you didn't intend to earn the reward or miscalculated the ramifications? Something else?

I just started reading this thread - from the title I didn't realize that it was going to be from Mr. Compton and just assumed it was a Rant Thread (sorry! now I feel a little bad about assuming the worst).

But now that I see that it really was serious game design questions...
I'll try to read the entire thread today and post a detailed response.

Silver Crusade 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh aka Terminalmancer

I agree that the Season 4 boons were... bizarrely overpowered. I have a NG character who took most but skipped one on principle--and nobody else at the table blinked an eye at taking all of them. Pay for an Atonement and move on... and I too do not understand why two of those were evil at all. It seemed excessively arbitrary.

I have particularly enjoyed the increase in boons that provide minor bonuses based on experience--things like minor skill bonuses, bonuses to hit members of a particular organization, that sort of thing. I find them a good representation of a character's experiences, and adding more explicitly alignment-based boons of all types would be nice.

While evil should undoubtedly get the "best" toys in some ways (combat? Murder? Intimidation?) I do believe that good should have some toys as well--probably along the lines of bonuses to more collaborative social things (Diplomacy?) or reputation. Fame and prestige might be good vehicles for rewarding characters who limit themselves in some other ways. Going through the inconvenience of capturing, controlling, and returning a villain to the authorities usually goes unrewarded and while there are now boons that let you do nonlethal, the biggest benefit I've seen of nonlethal damage is that it doesn't burn the books you are more likely tasked with saving.

As far as drawbacks, I am all for drawbacks! I agree they should not be tied to a particular scenario though. They should be always-present things, penalties to diplomacy or reputation or restrictions on behavior that actually make it an interesting choice rather than a "I want a free thing! Sure, I'll pay 2 PP for it!" situation. The other shoe does not have to be written to explicitly drop; I'm sure a character's reputation (or whatever drawbacks you come up with) can wreck a scenario for a character just as easily when you run into an uncompromising paladin or a wary criminal and their initial attitude is one step too far away for you to diplomacize.

Liberty's Edge 4/5 Venture-Captain, Virginia—Richmond aka Slothsy

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Terminalmancer wrote:
While evil should undoubtedly get the "best" toys in some ways (combat? Murder? Intimidation?) I do believe that good should have some toys as well--probably along the lines of bonuses to more collaborative social things (Diplomacy?) or reputation. Fame and prestige might be good vehicles for rewarding characters who limit themselves in some other ways. Going through the inconvenience of capturing, controlling, and returning a villain to the authorities usually goes unrewarded and while there are now boons that let you do nonlethal, the biggest benefit I've seen of nonlethal damage is that it doesn't burn the books you are more likely tasked with saving.

I also think that these boons encourage/discourage behavior. It's social programming in a way. If we want to see more suspiciously neutral character running around (the type that's one bad day away from an evil alignment), then more evil boons are better. However, if the boons discourage cooperation or otherwise reward bad table manners, I would prefer to stay away from it. I like scenarios that have boons for not outright killing things or trying the diplomatic route because it rewards behaviors I like to see at the table.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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nosig wrote:
John Compton wrote:
Also, if one of your PCs accepted such a boon, I'm interested in hearing why. Has the character always skirted the border between neutrality and evil, and this was a way to express it? Does your character worship an evil deity? Was the boon just mechanically too good to pass up? Was it an accident—whether you didn't intend to earn the reward or miscalculated the ramifications? Something else?

I just started reading this thread - from the title I didn't realize that it was going to be from Mr. Compton and just assumed it was a Rant Thread (sorry! now I feel a little bad about assuming the worst).

But now that I see that it really was serious game design questions...
I'll try to read the entire thread today and post a detailed response.

It's an unsettlingly nice thread given the spicy ingredients :)

Scarab Sages 5/5 Venture-Captain, Netherlands aka Woran

Lau Bannenberg wrote:
nosig wrote:
John Compton wrote:
Also, if one of your PCs accepted such a boon, I'm interested in hearing why. Has the character always skirted the border between neutrality and evil, and this was a way to express it? Does your character worship an evil deity? Was the boon just mechanically too good to pass up? Was it an accident—whether you didn't intend to earn the reward or miscalculated the ramifications? Something else?

I just started reading this thread - from the title I didn't realize that it was going to be from Mr. Compton and just assumed it was a Rant Thread (sorry! now I feel a little bad about assuming the worst).

But now that I see that it really was serious game design questions...
I'll try to read the entire thread today and post a detailed response.

It's an unsettlingly nice thread given the spicy ingredients :)

Sometimes we do behave ;)

Dark Archive 3/5

So, finally getting some thoughts in here:

I like boons that reward characters for making choices rooted in their ethos/alignment. Some of the Season 4 boons were great for my Asmodean/Diabolist Summoner (specifically those that didn't require actually pledging allegiance to another power), with the exception of the one would shift him into an alignment not campaign legal. And at that point I was stopped by meta-game things, not role-play.

So, to echo some sentiments/add my own:

1) Boons based on alignment should be ones that reward and reinforce characters for making a choice rooted in their alignment and ethos.

2) This should cut along each of the axes (good/evil/lawful/chaotic). Not all of them in each scenario, but if you're going to tempt folks with power rooted in evil or chaos you should also provide them with options rooted in good and law. Neutral folks could be rewarded for trying to maintain a balance somewhere, but that can be admittedly harder to write to.

3) There need to be drawbacks and these drawbacks should be set in stone unless the PC ditches the item/option/power provided by the boon. No Atonement to wipe the drawbacks away and keep the toy. This isn't a temptation to give in to evil (or to give up your evil-lite ways for good!) without a drawback. Just like I don't want a Paladin to be able to get a mechanical benefit from evil, pop an Atonement, and keep the benfit I don't want to see a CN Cleric of Rovagug accept the blessing of Iomedea to get an awesome sword, pop an atonement, and keep the sword. That doesn't make sense.

4) Drawbacks should be cumulative. If you continue to take these alignment rooted boons, the more you take them the rougher things get and/or the harder it will be to maintain your current ethos if it is not in line with the boons (and any powers rooted in it!) at all. After all, if you are consistently giving in to the power of evil, you can't keep saying you're good aligned after awhile or even neutral. Don't leave this up to GMs to track. Create a mechanic for tracking it that can be quickly referenced on Chronicles.

5) Keep the gotcha moments later on. Anyone who kept accepting Runelord power should not have been the least bit surprised when it bit them later on. The season hints heavily you may have to deal with a Runelord eventually. You should know the risks in accepting power that comes from one, especially in the form of magic the Society doesn't fully understand. Choices have consequences, and aligning yourself staunchly in any given direction on the alignment axes should reflect this. And let's face it: we are playing a Good aligned leaning campaign. The consequences for choosing evil should sting more. Yes, the society is Neutral, but doing good things most often benefits someone who is Neutral.

Silver Crusade

People around here really need to learn how to use spoiler tags correctly.

That said, I agree with those who say that I like the concept of evil boons, in theory, as long as they're not so powerful, or the drawbacks so ignorable, that people take them without it being an RP decision.

When I played Feast of Sigils with my lawful good cleric, I avoided the evil act, just because it was evil. I didn't even ask how good the boon was.

The Exchange

Fromper wrote:

People around here really need to learn how to use spoiler tags correctly.

The problem being if you say the title of the scenario and then add the spoiler people now know that scenario has an evil boon. You probably shouldn't just straight up say the scenario in your post either.

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

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I think Evil boons are fine as long as you have equivalent Good boons. I do not recall any Good-based boons whose mechanical benefits were as good as the Evil ones in Season 4. In fact, the Season 4 boons bothered me because it seemed to promote evil character behavior in PFS while I saw no equivalent promotion of good character behavior. So I was ecstatic when I played The Wardstone Patrol at GenCon when it first came out as it suggested a reversal of this policy. Most of my Good characters feel like they succeed at most missions despite being good. This one made me feel I succeed because I was good. Sadly, though, that seems to be the only Year 5 mod I can recall that did this.

Don't get me wrong. I get that the Society, in game, is not a good organization. But it isn't an evil one either. So I would expect an equal treatment.

Spoiler:
I played The Cultist's Kiss with my Paladin, so I did not accept the boon. I played Feast of Sigils with my CN Gnome Alchemist who ate a wafer due to Alchemical/Gnome curiosity before I even knew what the boon was. At the same table was a guy playing a Paladin that said, "Hell, yeah, I'll pay for an atonement to get that boon!"

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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bdk86 wrote:
5) Keep the gotcha moments later on. Anyone who kept accepting Runelord power should not have been the least bit surprised when it bit them later on. The season hints heavily you may have to deal with a Runelord eventually. You should know the risks in accepting power that comes from one, especially in the form of magic the Society doesn't fully understand. Choices have consequences, and aligning yourself staunchly in any given direction on the alignment axes should reflect this. And let's face it: we are playing a Good aligned leaning campaign. The consequences for choosing evil should sting more. Yes, the society is Neutral, but doing good things most often benefits someone who is Neutral.

The problem with this is that people might play the heavily foreshadowed climax/payback scenario with a different character, and avoid the downsides.

Perhaps that climax scenario should also include a "lure" to play it with the same character, similar to a reward for playing a trilogy with the same PC (regardless of whether you took the evil boon).

Paizo Employee 5/5 Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

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There are a few points I've been considering as I read through the responses here. These aren't meant to disqualify any ideas, but they are logistical issues I'll need to address.

The allure of evil: I find it's easier to implement boons that threaten the PC with evil-aligned risks because no matter what someone's PC's motivations are, that character cannot become evil and remain in the campaign. As a result, conversion to evil is a universal threat, and I can use that as a fair drawback to accepting an evil boon's benefits. Being pulled toward chaos, good, or law is a threat to certain classes that have alignment or deity-related restrictions, but to others it could effectively be free.

Where there is evil, there must be good: I hear your call for a good-aligned counterpoint reward for those who refuse the evil option. There might be ways to make the power-to-drawback ratio equivalent between the two, but that's going to take some experimentation on my end. Typically when I'm designing an Evil boon and a Good one, I might give the Evil one 3 points of benefit and 2 points of drawback, whereas the Good one just gets 1 point of benefit. In theory, this should make the two choices mechanically equal. If I have the Good boon grant 3 points of benefit instead, it's a false choice; the Good boon would always be the "right" choice, making the Evil option a waste of space. The tricky but potentially rewarding bit could be coming up with an equivalent 2 points of drawback for the Good boon that actually costs a good-aligned character.

Good is its own reward: From a design perspective, I recognize there are also two theoretical camps when it comes to rewarding good-aligned characters for doing good deeds. Camp 1 sees good deeds as their own reward. After all, doing good still leads to full gp, XP, and PP rewards without being accosted by city guards, and it allows many of those players to maintain class abilities that are tied to a good alignment. Camp 2 sees good deeds as something that should be rewarded in equal measure with equally good benefits, and the creation of evil boons without a similar number and quality of good boons is indicative of some anti-good bias. I'd like to aim for somewhere in the middle of those two camps, recognizing the difficulties I've noted above as well as the interest people have in seeing some other-aligned boons show up at some point.

Fitting it all in: Chronicle sheet space is limited. I do anticipate some opportunities will allow me to include opposing boons. I do know that writing up boons with built-in drawbacks or controlling factors (as opposed to a drawback that only happens if someone plays the right scenario) takes up a considerable amount of space.

Again, none of these remove options from the table. They do, however, point out some of the difficulties that might arise in implementing certain types of reward.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

This is a great summary, John.

For me however, 3 points of benefit and 2 points of drawback do not equal 1 point of benefit with no drawbacks. Even if they are mechanically equal, they sure don't feel that way.

Those 3 points of benefit on evil boons are flashy. They look cool. They are tempting, and they can be shown off -- usually in combat -- with great panache.

I'm thinking that they're almost like oracle curses -- things that are somewhat limiting but offer a really neat unique power with just a bit of work. For example, Lyric the Singing Paladin is deaf. She has such a memorably bad initiative modifier (-4) that it never fails to make my GMs and teammates laugh. But when she lays down a silence, she's terrifying against enemy casters. Oracle curses are great examples of drawbacks that people can build really interesting characters around.

Evil boons are similar in nature. Meanwhile, for the good-aligned, 1pt benefits with no drawbacks just look limp by comparison.

Hmm

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 aka GreySector

John Compton wrote:
Fitting it all in: Chronicle sheet space is limited. I do anticipate some opportunities will allow me to include opposing boons. I do know that writing up boons with built-in drawbacks or controlling factors (as opposed to a drawback that only happens if someone plays the right scenario) takes up a considerable amount of space.

I'm curious how chronicle sheets factor into a scenario's page count. There have been one or two occasions (e.g. Destiny of the Sands Part II) where extra chronicle sheets have been added. I think it is pretty obvious that you wouldn't want to make that standard practice, but maybe once a season if you have the opportunity for an opposed good/evil boon perhaps you could do it on a second chronicle?

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

John Compton wrote:
Also, if one of your PCs accepted such a boon, I'm interested in hearing why. Has the character always skirted the border between neutrality and evil, and this was a way to express it? Does your character worship an evil deity? Was the boon just mechanically too good to pass up? Was it an accident—whether you didn't intend to earn the reward or miscalculated the ramifications? Something else?

So believe it or not I have actually only played one scenario with such a boon (although because of VO responsibilities I am well aware of the others).

And my character happily accepted the boon with full understanding of the consequences.

More info including scenario spoilers:

The character I was playing with was my chaotic neutral Mindchemist who is all about self-improvement. However unlike an Iroran his definition of self-improvement is "anything that makes me smarter or harder to kill, who cares what else it does to me." Gaining the mummification discovery was a very joyful day for him.

We were playing Refuge of Time and when the final statue told us we would be rewarded he (after seeing one of his compatriots get greater heroism from a statue earlier and executing a quick search for traps) was the first to bow and cut himself. And that was before we searched the body of Naroth. Once he identified the stone he was more than happy to use it for himself. "What do I care if it's evil? That's going to make me 25% less likely to be critically hit!!"

Of course his next set of thoughts once he became evil was "I wonder if I can get the same power (refuge tokens) from the statue if I cut someone else?" So he started merrily carving Sihedron Runes into the dumb-as-a-brick-not-at-all-wise-and-very-helpful bloodrager.

He happily kept the stone, even with the (almost negligible) downside. I believe 4 of the other 5 did as well, all but the Paladin.


My army of Irorans would all refuse those boons, wary of using such a shortcut. My cleric of Asmodeus never encountered one but would of course happily take an evil boon as long as he did not suspect it to be chaotic as well. I play a lot of divine casters so any of them who would get more than one step away from their deity (even temporarily) wouldn't take it.

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

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John Compton wrote:
Good is its own reward: Camp 1 sees good deeds as their own reward. After all, doing good still leads to full gp, XP, and PP rewards without being accosted by city guards, and it allows many of those players to maintain class abilities that are tied to a good alignment.

I find there are several problems with this concept. The first of which is that it tends to conflate the player with the character. The character may well receive some sort of typical in game reward that one usually receives for being good, such as honors, respect, thanks, or even a personal feeling of satisfaction for doing the right thing (i.e. goodness being its own reward). But little of these 'rewards' translates well to the player of such characters. This is especially true when you consider most adventure denouement are rushed (or even skipped) affairs as people are anxious to pack up while the GM fills out Chronicle sheets at the end of the adventure. So while the character may feel good about the what they did to the point that goodness is indeed it's own reward, the player isn't likely to feel the same way. The closest they might come to this is the feeling of having role-played their character properly. But they can have that same feeling from having role-played their Chaotic Neutral character properly, too.

Second, there are PFS adventures where being good can cost you GP, XP & PP.

Third, there are costs to the player for playing good characters. One is that it can make scenarios more difficult, but I can let this one slide as this can be looked at as greater challenge=greater reward in pride of accomplishment. But another primarily comes from greater character scrutiny/interference on the part of GMs who sometimes watch good (especially lawful good) characters like a hawk while they ignore everything the neutral characters do. This last bit is by far one of the reasons a large number of the players I have talked to play neutral characters instead of good ones. It's simply less hassle.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

trollbill's third point comes in addition to in-character issues with other players. When playing my paladin of Shelyn - one of the most laid-back paladins you'll ever meet - I had another character's hostility from the start. The CN rogue was constantly harassing me, afraid that he would be somehow constrained by my actions. (The player, while seemingly nice enough, fell back on "it's what my character would do".)

It wasn't a very fun session, and just reinforced the idea that playing neutral-bordering-on-evil characters is the "smart move" in PFS. :/

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

John Compton wrote:
Good is its own reward: From a design perspective, I recognize there are also two theoretical camps when it comes to rewarding good-aligned characters for doing good deeds. Camp 1 sees good deeds as their own reward. After all, doing good still leads to full gp, XP, and PP rewards without being accosted by city guards, and it allows many of those players to maintain class abilities that are tied to a good alignment. Camp 2 sees good deeds as something that should be rewarded in equal measure with equally good benefits, and the creation of evil boons without a similar number and quality of good boons is indicative of some anti-good bias. I'd like to aim for somewhere in the middle of those two camps, recognizing the difficulties I've noted above as well as the interest people have in seeing some other-aligned boons show up at some point.

Well, maybe not necessarily?

It would be interesting to challenge the notion that "Neutral is the no-hassle alignment that gets everything." Neutral clerics don't get hassled for casting aligned spells; can summon evil creatures and still cast protection from evil as well; and get off light when the Unholy Blight or Holy Smite comes down.

And yeah, Neutral can afford not to step on the toes of oppressive regimes. The neutral PC isn't so burdened by compassion that she can't just look the other way when awful things happen; that's much harder for a good PC. In a country like Nidal, a good PC might have to choose between interfering, or staying out of trouble.

So a Good boon might actually be about taking the thorny path instead of the easy safe uncomplicated Neutral road. A Good boon might indeed result in a PC receiving less money or other rewards because that charity came out of her own pocket.

The challenge here would be putting such moral choices in a scenario so that they're individual choices; we don't want table fights because half the party wants to do the right thing and maybe earn a Good boon, and the other half wants to get full gold/prestige/etcetera.

Silver Crusade 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh aka Terminalmancer

John Compton wrote:

There are a few points I've been considering as I read through the responses here. These aren't meant to disqualify any ideas, but they are logistical issues I'll need to address.

The allure of evil: I find it's easier to implement boons that threaten the PC with evil-aligned risks because no matter what someone's PC's motivations are, that character cannot become evil and remain in the campaign. As a result, conversion to evil is a universal threat, and I can use that as a fair drawback to accepting an evil boon's benefits. Being pulled toward chaos, good, or law is a threat to certain classes that have alignment or deity-related restrictions, but to others it could effectively be free.

Where there is evil, there must be good: I hear your call for a good-aligned counterpoint reward for those who refuse the evil option. There might be ways to make the power-to-drawback ratio equivalent between the two, but that's going to take some experimentation on my end. Typically when I'm designing an Evil boon and a Good one, I might give the Evil one 3 points of benefit and 2 points of drawback, whereas the Good one just gets 1 point of benefit. In theory, this should make the two choices mechanically equal. If I have the Good boon grant 3 points of benefit instead, it's a false choice; the Good boon would always be the "right" choice, making the Evil option a waste of space. The tricky but potentially rewarding bit could be coming up with an equivalent 2 points of drawback for the Good boon that actually costs a good-aligned character.

Good is its own reward: From a design perspective, I recognize there are also two theoretical camps when it comes to rewarding good-aligned characters for doing good deeds. Camp 1 sees good deeds as their own reward. After all, doing good still leads to full gp, XP, and PP rewards without being accosted by city guards, and it allows many of those players to maintain class abilities that are tied to a good alignment. Camp 2 sees good deeds as something that...

While I agree 100% with you in terms of how the boons could be/are balanced in purely mechanical (economic?) terms, I would still point out that 2 points of drawback are not purely drawback--they're also character development, danger, risk, and can lead to other interesting drama down the line. I know they're trickier to pull off well, but I think some of us, at least, would welcome similar challenges for characters with good, lawful, or chaotic bents. They don't even have to be 3-to-2 balanced, 2-to-1 would probably be just fine and that still gives you the sense that evil has better toys.

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

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John Compton wrote:
Where there is evil, there must be good: I hear your call for a good-aligned counterpoint reward for those who refuse the evil option. There might be ways to make the power-to-drawback ratio equivalent between the two, but that's going to take some experimentation on my end. Typically when I'm designing an Evil boon and a Good one, I might give the Evil one 3 points of benefit and 2 points of drawback, whereas the Good one just gets 1 point of benefit.

Imagine 2 feats:

Feat A: Weapon Focus +1 to Hit with your Weapon.

Feat B: Ranged Focus +3 to hit with a ranged weapon, -2 to hit with melee weapons.

---

I suspect +2/0 is closer to +3/-2 than +1/0 is.

+2/-1 vs +3/-2 is also I think I more interesting and equitable choice.

Because of our ability to minimize and abate penalties in other ways I think a +1 is generally more valuable than a -1 is harmful.

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

Robert Hetherington wrote:
John Compton wrote:
Where there is evil, there must be good: I hear your call for a good-aligned counterpoint reward for those who refuse the evil option. There might be ways to make the power-to-drawback ratio equivalent between the two, but that's going to take some experimentation on my end. Typically when I'm designing an Evil boon and a Good one, I might give the Evil one 3 points of benefit and 2 points of drawback, whereas the Good one just gets 1 point of benefit.

Imagine 2 feats:

Feat A: Weapon Focus +1 to Hit with your Weapon.

Feat B: Ranged Focus +3 to hit with a ranged weapon, -2 to hit with melee weapons.

---

I suspect +2/0 is closer to +3/-2 than +1/0 is.

+2/-1 vs +3/-2 is also I think I more interesting and equitable choice.

Because of our ability to minimize and abate penalties in other ways I think a +1 is generally more valuable than a -1 is harmful.

I agree with that particular example, but I don't think that's a particularly good example (not one that would make it onto a chronicle) as it is highly build-dependent. For a Zen Archer or bow-wielding ranger it's a no-brainer. Try this one on for size:

Boon A: Evil is Awesome - You get +3 on saving throws vs. spells and spell-like abilities from the evocation school. However you take a -1 on all saving throws vs. spells and spell-like abilities from the enchantment and necromancy schools.

Boon B: Good is Steadfast - You get +1 on all saving throws vs. spells and spell-like abilities from the evocation school.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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To add to the already Jenga esque balancing act...

The evil thing has to be evil without being arbitrary but obviously thats problematic: public relations for "if you're so evil then eat this puppy" tend not to go over too well with parents. "Lick this rock.. its evil because.. ITS EEEEVIL" doesn't work at a story element.

3/5

Don't have a lot to contribute regarding most of the evil boons that have already been released as I've not played or GM'd the scenarios which have them (though I've played with / GM'd characters who have gone through them).

As a random thought, though, I am hoping you might consider doing a boon-writing contest in the future, with evil boons as an option to see what other things folks can come up with that may spark some additional insights and ideas.

Dark Archive 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I will take this opportunity to continue to beat the Lawful Evil Dead Horse.

THWAK! THWAK! THWAK! THWAK! THWAK!

5/5

jon dehning wrote:

I will take this opportunity to continue to beat the Lawful Evil Dead Horse.

THWAK! THWAK! THWAK! THWAK! THWAK!

What the hell, man? That hurts! What'd I ever do to you?

Dark Archive 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Lawful Evil! I scream, you scream, ok just I scream for Lawful Evil!

Silver Crusade

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Robert Hetherington wrote:
John Compton wrote:
Where there is evil, there must be good: I hear your call for a good-aligned counterpoint reward for those who refuse the evil option. There might be ways to make the power-to-drawback ratio equivalent between the two, but that's going to take some experimentation on my end. Typically when I'm designing an Evil boon and a Good one, I might give the Evil one 3 points of benefit and 2 points of drawback, whereas the Good one just gets 1 point of benefit.

Imagine 2 feats:

Feat A: Weapon Focus +1 to Hit with your Weapon.

Feat B: Ranged Focus +3 to hit with a ranged weapon, -2 to hit with melee weapons.

---

I suspect +2/0 is closer to +3/-2 than +1/0 is.

+2/-1 vs +3/-2 is also I think I more interesting and equitable choice.

Because of our ability to minimize and abate penalties in other ways I think a +1 is generally more valuable than a -1 is harmful.

I would like to echo Mr. Rob's statement as well. The very concept of min-maxing works BECAUSE the values of a +1 and a -1 are so disproportionate to someone with system mastery.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

With regard to the Wardens of the Reborn Forge boon: the drawbacks so thoroughly overwhelmed the benefits that zero PCs out of 12 in the two times I've GMed Wardens chose to accept it, despite all my efforts to entice and cajole them.

Conversely, I know very few PCs who declined the boon from Feast of Sigils because the benefit was far greater than the drawback.

4/5

I recall Feast of Sigils as the day that most of the characters belonging to the Andoran faction players shrugged and took a boon without much of a care. My recollection of the ioun stone was the party describing me as being lucky that I could take it without getting atonement. I left the convention feeling as though there wasn't really a place in PFS for a good character with three evil boons and not even an acknowledgement for not taking them.

That said, I do like the idea of the boon from Wardens of the Reborn Forge better, but the penalties far outweigh the bonuses. There are not many characters that could take on that boon with their build. If they wanted the bonuses, it would be more viable to spend money to mimic those bonuses than to take the boon and spend money negating the penalties of the boon.

Despite my distastes for them, the season four evil boons they had the important feature that anyone could benefit from them. While some people benefit more from the bonus, everyone can use a bonus to an ability score or an extra feat. That is one element the Warden boon lacks. That boon feels as though it is directed at a very small subsegment of characters. For an evil boon to work it needs to be usable to a significant segment of characters.

Liberty's Edge

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I very much dislike Evil Boons. I always want to play Good characters, and I always try my very hardest to be nice and bring kindness to Golarion! :)

I recently played a Season 4 Scenario that has a very powerful evil reward. All my friends, regardless of alignment took it. The Good characters or Neutral characters that dropped just got an atonement after. My Neutral Good Druid refused. My friends brought up the fact that I would lose absolutely nothing, and gain quite a lot. That is actually true.

There was zero downside for taking it. Zero benefit for not taking it, as well. If anything, it would have been even easier to take it because I was a Neutral Good Druid; I wouldn't even need an atonement. But it's not something I would do. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I want any kudos (or cookies) for being Good. I just want a fair shake. It stings that my character missed out on what could have been an awesome and treasured boon. I didn't enjoy that part. No offense intended of course! The scenario itself was great fun.

5/5

I have had two characters benefit from such boons. The first took the rock fully aware of what it meant. He wanted the power.

The other ate the cookie without realizing. But given it's effect... well he didn't care so much afterwards. As I understood it the effect was immediate, so that's who he was, why would you ever want to change who you are (a gnome)?

Given that, I have enjoyed seeing these, quite rarely and unexpectedly. More is good, so long as it really fits the story.

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Agent, Kentucky—Lexington

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John Compton wrote:

1) evil-themed boons

2) Real-world time limits
3) atonement
4) mechanical boost
5) prefer boons that don't require a gp expenditure, but the occasional purchasable benefit can still work
6) can too easily just avoid playing that adventure with that character.

1) I'm no fan of any alignment based boon, but if done do other alignments and try to balance out the boons.

2) Hate. Pointless. Some characters, I try to play every time I can, but due to issues making table of the required level, I've had up to 12 to 18 months between sessions. Time limits makes it 1 session long.

3) Too easy to fix, turns into a gp expenditure boon.

4) Most will see it as a mechanical boost. You need to make the boon, non mechanic (flavor) to avoid. Something like a non-mechanical additions. Like "can see the blood flowing through the skin" or some other RP benefit that has no mechanical boon.

5) I also prefer non-gp boons. But if you do mechanical boons, make them gp expenditure and price according to WBL. Allows mechanical benefits to be fair.

6) Too many people would know, and too many people would share. I personally hate boons that are limited. I've got a fighter with an Improved Familiar boon. I wish I knew not to play that scenario with that character. If you want to do stuff like this, allow a check box on the sheet "[] Assigned to character __________" where you can check it off and assign the benefit to another of your characters.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Azothath

In a general way -
yes, some of the Year 4 boons were some great buffs for $500gp, others *meh*. I saw some good characters refuse them (yay!) others just looked at the mechanical aspect. So that really falls into player temperament and how one executes the roleplaying.
Personally, it's like evil candy... so tasty and you want some more... nevermind the alignment as it's all about mechanics... mwoHaahaaahaaa (see there was a shift from good to neutral there...)

The only chaotic (and possibly good) boon I've seen is one wrascally improved familiar.

I'll mark up some non-lethal only weaponry as Good... I'm sure I've missed some others...

So it's all about follow through and consequences. GMs should have NPCs react to evil auras etc and rarely does that make it into the scenarios. Going forward I think it should translate into a minor circumstance bonus with sympathetic alignments, or a penalty with opposing alignments.

As we are in PFS it comes down to GP. I'd suggest a minor(1-5%) GP cost per scenario for things with lingering effects. It's just a generic way to handle the disassociation and problems alignment items may cause if not on a host or user with synergy. There's only 1 or 2 steps away in the basic alignment scheme.

Continual specific modifiers(+/-) are appropriate to a specific item based on that items concept and interaction with the user. Often that falls into the design category. It falls into the play implementation as alignment has never been very specific on things and is mostly left to the GM to work out.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Azothath

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what ever happened to redeeming evil items?

5/5 Venture-Agent, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Azothath

there have been a few scenario boons that allowed you to assign the bonus/boon to a new character. This is probably the best compromise in a re-assignment strategy. I admit I like "[] Assigned to character __________" but it could easily get crazy... Besides, that's what GMming is for (putting that boon on the character you want) 8^).

Some of the book boons are for all your characters. Most are trivial but one can save you and possibly get you killed some more.

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