Do you like evil boons?


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

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Stephen Ross wrote:

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.

Don't forget there's also "Share the Wealth" boons that are occasionally available...

Reading your post out of context gave me a thought, though. The general idea behind good is helping others before yourself, right? What if good boons didn't help the character at all but could be assigned to a different (new?) character? That would certainly make for an interesting dichotomy. Evil boons help you now, good boons help someone else later...

There's some precedent for this, although I don't know what sorts of problems John or others might have seen with it?

3/5

good should definitely get powerful boons on occasion too

I don't buy into its own reward and gets full xp/pp etc

good is far and away not the easiest PFS alignment, or most likely to get full rewards, neutral is

Grand Lodge 4/5

Stephen Ross wrote:
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.

I haven't seen this work well. I would confidently expect some players to ignore the cost, while I'd be bothered by it and probably avoid the boon. Seeing the example in

Spoiler:
Deepmarket Deception

I questioned whether it would ever pay off unless used very heavily.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

In addition, at places like my store, where Chronicles basically only come out when someone is using a boon, I don't know how effectively that would be policed. (Of course, the same is true of all negative boons...)

Sovereign Court 2/5 RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

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Echoing several of the above,


  • On the short term, I like boons with a drawback when used. I also like boons that get a 'gotcha' in a later scenario; even if some players will play that with a different character (or just miss it), some other players will play it with the same.
  • On the longer term, I like having good and evil (or lawful and chaotic) boons that are mutually exclusive.
  • And yes, I agree that if you Atone for a boon, you should lose the boon; that's what Atonement stands for.

It is always fun to have a scenario tie into an earlier scenario.

4/5

Missing from this discussion regarding atonement losing the boons is the fact that if you have a neutral character willing to accept the power from an evil item they MUST receive an atonement or be removed from play...

This seems very counter productive to make sure only good PCs (who would probably be the ones who shouldn't take these items), are the ones who can use them under this proposal.

I definitely think the idea of drawbacks has some merit, particularly those with hooks into metaplots.

3/5

I have mixed feelings, particularly because of PFS' issue with boon fishing.


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I do not like evil characters, evil actions by any character, missions that require evil acts to complete successfully or evil rewards of any kind.

I see no reason in PFS to provide a boon that has the consequence of acquiring an evil trait (e.g. alignment shift). It just seems stupid to me. If PFS wants to provide a boon, make it equally available, not just to the characters that don't mind spending gold on an atonement to avoid becoming evil and becoming unplayable, or the players who like to play evil characters under the guise of another alignment and are overjoyed at getting a cool boon for essentially nothing.

I have only run across one evil boon in play so far, and my lawful good (non-paladin) character immediately refused without second thought. Everyone else, including the other "good" characters took the boon and spent some gold on an atonement.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Do you enjoy seeing these boons on Chronicle sheets?
Absolutely. I love the idea of being tempted by power - and facing the corruption or drawbacks associated with it. It's a fun narrative choice and it's led to some of the most fun roleplay I've seen at PFS tables when people realize the possible gain for betraying their principles.

Has one of your PCs ever taken one?
Yes, several. I ran through the mentioned series of Season 4 scenarios with a consistent group, and we got to see the same band of adventurers "gearing up" to fight a certain 'final boss' (you know the one) by gathering the tools of his own power to wield against him.

Where do you feel the right balance is between power and drawbacks when handling these evil boons (e.g. benefits should be stronger, drawbacks should be stronger, the two should be roughly equal, or any variation on these)?
If the drawbacks are too intense, the boon is really useless. I feel that the boon should be unusually powerful (giving players a real sense of accomplishment or gain if they accept it), but the drawbacks should be dangerous and threatening. Getting a drawback on a chronicle sheet is frustrating and unsatisfying... unless you chose that penalty in exchange for power.

Do you have any other thoughts on the matter?
I do really like these. They're exciting, fun boons to offer, and I get excited to play any scenario which offers one.

Liberty's Edge

The Morphling wrote:

Do you enjoy seeing these boons on Chronicle sheets?

Absolutely. I love the idea of being tempted by power - and facing the corruption or drawbacks associated with it. It's a fun narrative choice and it's led to some of the most fun roleplay I've seen at PFS tables when people realize the possible gain for betraying their principles.

The Morphling, I am completely sincere when I say I'm glad you had a nice experience with these kinds of boons. I'm still not really into it personally, but I'm happy to hear you had a thematic roleplay event with it. That's most likely how these things are intended to play out, and hearing actual examples is great! :)

It was a bit silly in my case. Everyone else was more like

Potential Boon Spoiler:
Extra Feat?!

"Awesome! Sure, I guess I'll drop some gold on Atonement."

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, Florida—Jacksonville aka Corax "the honest thief"

I think its great to include those kinds of boons. The Season 4 stuff was great and fun. Not everybody at my tables took them, but power gamers are going to power game. I don't like the idea of not including them. I think the boons should fit the story. In the Emerald Spire boons they did some good boons for "NOT" picking the evil power hungry choice.

I would like to see some great GOOD Guy aligned boons and Chaotic ones :D

I think how we have handled Intelligent Items has been good and is a great guide.

I would like to see more vanities open up. Like with the Rift Wardens or the 9th Battalion from the Faction Guide. We would see people spend more Prestige Points and would give us a chance to flesh out some custom ones for PFS outside of the Faction ones from the Field Guide.

I have only taken two evil boon, but it was character story driven and only on the one character. Being a Thassilion Conjuror I felt they were appropriate.

I think it should be balanced for any of the boons. Like the mechanics for the LOCI Boon were it goes from being a benefit to a hindrance. I mentioned the Emerald Spire Boons approach (someone earlier also posted how they were done) But we should not over do the penalty either. Sometimes we should get a really good boon with no draw backs especially if we went through hell to get it. Like the Waking Rune Boons. If im dropping a RuneLord I don't want a Sophia's Choice after all the other stuff I have been through.

I honestly think the Boons have been fairly balanced and the Siege of Serpents follow ups have been really interesting. :D

Sczarni 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Pullman aka Coraith

Hmm wrote:

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

I suppose the moral high ground is its own reward, even if it doesn't gleam as brightly.

Silver Crusade

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I never liked the argument that good should be its own reward in a game fundamentally made to appeal to us as wish fulfillment. While I could get into a long argument about why I think being good is still more rewarding in real life, let's just accept the premise that the real world punishes you and makes it hard for you to be good. If we can accept that Pathfinder allows us to enjoy often enjoy fantasies of power, freedom from authority and convention, and inconveniences of real life, I dont see why we cant also let people occasionally enjoy the fantasy of good people getting rewarded for being good people.

If you want to feel like a cool badass guy who flirts with evil, a byronic hero, or any other more morally-compromised, that's your fantasy and I respect that, and you should be allowed to enjoy it and given tools for you to help tell your stories. Likewise, if my fantasy is to play a good person both more moral and confident than myself that receives recognition for their efforts, I should be allowed to enjoy my fantasy and given tools for it too.

Dark Archive

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My sorcerer took the boX of cookies when he left that area, because they were so delicious. "This one tastes like someone's happiness" I believe was said once or twice. He did share, but much like a box of girl scout thin mints he soon devoured them all. I think I paid for like 11 atonements.

Yes, please put more things like that in pfs.

Lantern Lodge 5/5

Drawbacks need to be tangible and hard to deal with. (If it can be fixed with 1000 gold or 4 PP it's not a drawback, it's a speedbump.)

A +2 to a stat should 'cost' a -4 to another. Rob said it best- -a "+x is worth significantly more than a -X."

I could see anevil boon that offered "accept this boon for a +2 profane bonus to a stat of your choice and a -4 penalty to CON." I have characters who would take that. But it's certainly not free.

I'm certainly in the 'good is its own reward' crowd, but if you want to encourage 'evil at a cost, good is its own reward' you can make evil cost something and have a significant benefit and drawback.

Then the good folks feel like it's a win for turning it down (avoiding the drawbacks), and the evil gets power at a price.

1/5 5/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
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

If I sat down to a Special at say, Gen Con, and essentially got told "Oh, by the way, since sixty percent of the players in the Special took this power-up Boon, so you don't get your second Prestige Point, sorry." I think I'd be at least a little bit irritated.

If it instead turned into "And now your party is TPK'd because the [boon] that five of your six players possess exploded with incomprehensible power" it would be even WORSE.

There was a Season Seven scenario where the end chronicle boon was dependent upon the action/decision the characters made at the end of the scenario.

I wasn't on-board for all this 4th season stuff, but

Spoiler:
Trouble in Tamran
was pretty darn amazing because it felt like the choice that the characters made DID influence what they ended up with, and the options were fairly balanced, just a bit different.

So I'd humbly request that if such things were to be done in future installments, that there is some sort of 'value' that is hidden to players (which should help cut down on the 'fishing' aspect) that can help determine what boons might be earned (or not) as the case may be.

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

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Jeff Hazuka wrote:
Drawbacks need to be tangible and hard to deal with. (If it can be fixed with 1000 gold or 4 PP it's not a drawback, it's a speedbump.)

It certainly shouldn't be something you just paint over with an Atonement and be done with it. Agreed.

Jeff Hazuka wrote:

A +2 to a stat should 'cost' a -4 to another. Rob said it best- -a "+x is worth significantly more than a -X."

I could see anevil boon that offered "accept this boon for a +2 profane bonus to a stat of your choice and a -4 penalty to CON." I have characters who would take that. But it's certainly not free.

This though is way too much. It's not much of a "boon" if it looks like it costs more than it profits you. There may be a few characters who'd take such a thing, but the number would be vanishingly small.

Evil should be seductive; this sounds more like a parable saying "see, evil doesn't pay after all".

Boons shouldn't be an even trade between having the boon or not; that's not a reward. Having a boon should look like it's better than not having it. A +2/-2 is an interesting boon; I think for quite a few optimized PCs, assigning the -2 to a stat they'd already dumped would be pushing it into the "danger zone" where just a small amount of ability damage could put them out of commission. Wizards who dump Strength get quite nervous around Shadows, and Charisma damage is surprisingly scary to almost everyone already (it's often either dumped or a main class stat; either way, loss is baaaad).

1/5 5/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Alternatively, if the breakdown (in the event of stat bonus/negative) went something like +1/0, +2/-1, +3/-2, that might be an idea.

Another option might be "Character gets +x to their *lowest* ability score, but they can't raise it again through any means."

That would be a tough decision to make for some people.

4/5

part of the problem of putting an artifact class MacGuffin/Magnetic Plot Device in scenarios is there will be unforseen consequences.


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.

I would agree good is it's own reward but PFS heroes are not in a vacuum. People see things, stories get told chronicles written of what the PCs do. Good or bad. Heroes that sacrifice for good are often given things.

Realife example, I was out to eat at the table next to us had a Vietnam veteran cap. The waitress came up after the meal and said someone paid for their bill because of being a veteran.

I would imagine civilians rewarding the PC with gear or supplies for championing good would be similar.

2/5

If you're going to add a powerful boon, whether it's evil or not, it might be a good idea that a PC can only gain the boon if the scenario is played in the current season (or perhaps season +1).

I'm sure there are people that replay (or play illegally) certain scenarios to gain an extra feat or +2 ability score. They become "must play" scenarios. It would be nice to have a statute of limitations on it, like the Shadow Lodge/LL boons.

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/55/55/5 Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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Jason S wrote:

If you're going to add a powerful boon, whether it's evil or not, it might be a good idea that a PC can only gain the boon if the scenario is played in the current season (or perhaps season +1).

I'm sure there are people that replay (or play illegally) certain scenarios to gain an extra feat or +2 ability score. They become "must play" scenarios. It would be nice to have a statute of limitations on it, like the Shadow Lodge/LL boons.

No, this solution would break Organized Play, making it impossible for new people to ever play older scenarios and claim full rewards. As an event coordinator, it would mean that I would only have season 6 and 7 scenarios to choose from, or that I would have to tell my players, "See that neat boon on your chronicle sheet? You don't get it."

When I ran Season 4 series at Dreamers, I had a number of GMs burning stars to replay it. I agree that the boons were likely a major motivator, but hey... Isn't that part of that what star rewards are for? To allow GMs to replay a favorite scenario?

At least this series also had a great story and fantastic challenges.
Hmm

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/55/55/5 Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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An aside to scenario developers:

As someone who GMed a Season 4 scenarios on to a good aligned character that did NOT take the boon, I am grateful, grateful that I finally played that same character in a scenario where something attacked people with evil auras! It made me feel good about resisting the lure of evil.

4/5 Venture-Agent, Tennessee—Chattanooga aka ZenithTN

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PFS in my mind has never been about good-aligned adventuring. It already caters to neutral-minded characters. Partly because of system (e.g. smite neutral and protection from neutral are not a thing.) Partly because of plots and meta-plots (Fetch the McGuffin, often at any cost.) As the game face of the company, this is imperfect.

If I were a virtue espousing diety, PFS would likely be on the list of agencies my people are not allowed / encouraged to associate with.

If I were a conglomerate of archaeologists and rabid collectors, there would be many times I wasn't interested in partnering with upstanding people, as they are a hindrance to my goals.

I understand PFS has to allow these options..... because .... revenue, but I wish it weren't so. I'd like to see our public game stop catering to the morally ambiguous characters and go back to old school gaming that I can be proud to share with my son and his friends. You can do what you will with your private game, as I do with mine, but I'd like to see the public game face for Paizo become warmer, not colder.

PFS has in some ways deteriorated from its intent in my mind. If we are going to ban Vivisection and Undead Lords based on flavor, then don't undermine that flavor with blessings from the nefarious.

As such, I have to issue a resounding NO to evil boons and instead ask for boons to reward a PFS refocused on the elements worth rewarding. Boons like You must give this boon to someone you have gamed with no more than once. Boons that trigger on You stayed true to good alignment and the gods noticed. Boons that trigger on I overheard you talking up the game to a new player. Boons like Sorry you couldn't make the convention, but we want to include you. Boons like Thanks for letting us play at your house this week. Boons for helping the authorities shut down a drug ring. Boons for contributing to positive change in Golarion canon, like a partial victory over slavery. Boons for putting out house fires. Boons for capture, trial and incarceration of evil doers. My list could go on awhile, but is summed up with Behavior rewarded is behavior repeated. Please reward only good behavior.

I have to admit, I am disappointed Paizo would ask such a thing. Doing so is indicative of the state of affairs on multiple levels, and saddens me.

Source: 4 star GM, convention goer, 30+ characters, father of one.

Tl;Dr No evil boons please.

Grand Lodge 4/5

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Agree with you 100%, Harold. I am a power gamer, and I have never taken or intend to take an "evil" boon. Most of my character's are good-aligned, but even the neutral ones lean toward good. Only actions that benefit the greater good should be rewarded, in my opinion.

I love the idea of a boon you have to give to someone else, or a boon for staying true to your alignment/oath and the Gods noticed.


Yes and yes. Flavor wise i love it and it helps solidify your character's identity when you choose your faith/belief over power. To me that's literally the point, there are evil deities that will grant you power should you truly desire it and we have chosen not to take the easy power.

2/5

Hmm wrote:
No, this solution would break Organized Play, making it impossible for new people to ever play older scenarios and claim full rewards. As an event coordinator, it would mean that I would only have season 6 and 7 scenarios to choose from, or that I would have to tell my players, "See that neat boon on your chronicle sheet? You don't get it."

It's an option. And to use it would depend on a number of factors.

Just because a boon isn't available doesn't make a scenario unplayable. Boons shouldn't be such a strong factor in whether a scenario is played or not. Last year I played "Way of the Kirin" and there were no special rewards involved (Ex-Lantern Lodge gained +1 stat and the boon was later removed after having 2 months to play, making this scenario unplayable apparently). Seriously, who cares, it was a good scenario.

Anyway I guess we have a difference of opinion and my suggestion would deter boon hunting. The last thing I want when I sit down at a season 4 evil boon scenario is to be at a table of 4 guys who have already played it.

I'm sure these GMs would still pick the perfect character for these scenarios (during the 2 seasons they'd be available), would burn stars to replay, so I don't feel bad about it at all.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

There's a difference between being disappointed in inaccessible content and "exactly the kind of boon hunting you and your friends are doing". That's a pretty serious smear for a "difference of opinion".

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/55/55/5 Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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Exactly. I offer a lot of oldie but goodie scenarios for my players, most of whom are PFS newbies. As a GM, I care about whether the scenario is fun and my players have a good time. Part of that good time is seeing the look of pleasure and surprise on their faces when there is something cool on their chronicle sheets.

Hmm

2/5

Difference of opinion. I’d rather scenarios get scheduled at conventions because of their merit as being good scenarios, not because they grant an extra feat or a stat bump. I guess you can put me into the camp of not wanting powerful evil boons then.

Paizo Employee 5/5 Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

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Harold Ervin wrote:

PFS in my mind has never been about good-aligned adventuring. It already caters to neutral-minded characters. Partly because of system (e.g. smite neutral and protection from neutral are not a thing.) Partly because of plots and meta-plots (Fetch the McGuffin, often at any cost.) As the game face of the company, this is imperfect.

If I were a virtue espousing diety, PFS would likely be on the list of agencies my people are not allowed / encouraged to associate with.

If I were a conglomerate of archaeologists and rabid collectors, there would be many times I wasn't interested in partnering with upstanding people, as they are a hindrance to my goals.

I understand PFS has to allow these options..... because .... revenue, but I wish it weren't so. I'd like to see our public game stop catering to the morally ambiguous characters and go back to old school gaming that I can be proud to share with my son and his friends. You can do what you will with your private game, as I do with mine, but I'd like to see the public game face for Paizo become warmer, not colder.

Although I hear the overall message of your post loud and clear, I'm getting confused by your reasoning. The third and fourth paragraphs seem to be contradictory. To paraphrase you, if good-aligned (i.e. "upstanding") people are hindrances to the goals of a conglomerate of archaeologists, and those good-aligned options are allowed for "revenue" purposes, why does that support steering the organization away from morally ambiguous choices in an adventure?

Quote:
PFS has in some ways deteriorated from its intent in my mind. If we are going to ban Vivisection and Undead Lords based on flavor, then don't undermine that flavor with blessings from the nefarious.

That depends in part on whether nefarious character mechanics (e.g. archetypes, feats, and spells, which the player plan a character around) are equally disruptive as corruption-oriented boons acquired in-play (e.g. a boon on a Chronicle sheet). My take is that a boon with built-in drawbacks that trigger regardless of whether someone plays the "right" scenario is less likely to tip the perceived alignment of the Society because the boon carries with it its own narrative implications (e.g. "I got this because I didn't realize a ritual was evil and infectious" rather than "From day one, my cleric has been all about parading undead through town.") and non-trade-based drawbacks (e.g. "If I stop trying to fight the evil, I'll become evil and never be given missions again" rather than "I gained the ability to dissect people painfully but had to give up explosives").

Quote:


As such, I have to issue a resounding NO to evil boons and instead ask for boons to reward a PFS refocused on the elements worth rewarding. Boons like You must give this boon to someone you have gamed with no more than once. Boons that trigger on You stayed true to good alignment and the gods noticed. Boons that trigger on I overheard you talking up the game to a new player. Boons like Sorry you couldn't make the convention, but we want to include you. Boons like Thanks for letting us play at your house this week. Boons for helping the authorities shut down a drug ring. Boons for contributing to positive change in Golarion canon, like a partial victory over slavery. Boons for putting out house fires. Boons for capture, trial and incarceration of evil doers. My list could go on awhile, but is summed up with Behavior rewarded is behavior repeated. Please reward only good behavior.

Other alignment-oriented boons aren't off the table, though they are tougher to adjudicate and balance.

Social rewards (e.g. A reward given to someone for being a good person out-of-game) might be possible. I recall working through this idea with Mike Brock a few years ago and running into some major logistical and distribution issues at the time. It's something to revisit.

As for rewarding behavior I want to see repeated, I'm mostly on board. The way I tend to write evil boons involves a significant (often ongoing) cost; it's not so easy as getting an atonement vaccination and then walking off with the prize. Good-oriented boons rarely require upkeep because they're rewards for having done something impressive and nice. Evil-oriented boons in a campaign that doesn't allow evil PCs should be more of an investment in which the PC (and possibly the player) is regularly sweating about whether it was wise to sign that infernal contract—and perhaps bleeding Prestige Points to repair the collateral damage.

Quote:
I have to admit, I am disappointed Paizo would ask such a thing. Doing so is indicative of the state of affairs on multiple levels, and saddens me.

Much as you have offered a resounding "no" to evil boons, I must offer a firm rebuttal of your take-away above. If I ask for feedback about a potentially contentious topic, it is because I acknowledge the potential impact and value the community's feedback on the subject. Perhaps I am missing some of the ramifications of your statement beyond my asking about evil boons. If so, please send me a private message or email at your leisure.

Venture-Captain, Germany–Hannover aka Hayato Ken

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Here are some thoughts:

-many people seem to imply playing a CN character is actually playing an evil character. I think that´s wrong and offensive. CN is a distinct alignment with a clear write up and totally worthy playing of it´s own.
-when a player has a CN (or other alignment character, because the same is possible with LN or N alignment and those are much closer to some very interesting evil gods...), but plays evil, then it´s a player problem, the problem of one certain person and should be handled as such by eventually marking of that character as evil and unplayable.
-most players i know and have seen who want to play an "evil" character aren´t actually playing an evil character, they want to play a struggle and fiddle with dark forces, so they are really better off playing a neutral character. That´s a 100% legal concept and quite often seen in the most thrilling literature. Probably the most famous character like that is one from very iconic novels in the RPG genre, Raistlin Majere from Dragonlance.
-I have seen more jerkish paladins than jerkish CN characters so far.
-If you want to have a black and white game world that´s fine. Please accept that others have their own ideas though and all have to cooperate within PFS. (And your homegames most likely win a lot when you cooperate there too. We have a very interesting Mummys Mask game going on with an UC summoner and an undead eidolon, who wants to head the call of Urgathoa, and a calistrian warpriest and life oracle on the other side, who want to defend life and especially the living, for various reasons. Not to mention that there are cursed half-undead party members, what makes channeling positive energy very difficult often.)

The Exchange 5/5 5/5

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John Compton wrote:
Some well-reasoned responses to Harold Evans.

John while your viewpoint - and indeed your original question - was about the impact of evil boons on the campaign world, my takeaway is that Harold is looking at it from a meta perspective. He does not want to see any additional options that would encourage or even give an option for players to take an "evil" path and indeed would prefer to see the entire campaign realigned to reward good behaviour. To have PFS be a tool for advocating outside-game good behaviour as well. Especially for the youths that are playing.

I can see the viewpoint. I can without a doubt say that my parents would never have let 12 year-old me play Pathfinder Society games. They might have been slightly more willing if the entire campaign revolved around good characters fighting the forces of evil. Where characters are rewarded for donating their money to good causes and for bringing wrongdoers to face the rightful authorities while being punished for looting everything in sight (currently sometimes required to gain full rewards) or coup-de-grasing fallen enemies (currently usually irrelevant). Especially with the expanded push for PFS in schools and libraries, there is good reason to have it encourage ethically and morally acceptable behaviour.

So, yes I do see the viewpoint. However that would be a completely different campaign. It might be a discussion to have for a hypothetical PFS 2.0, but the massive change this would make is not really relevant to the campaign as it is.

disclaimer:
This is indeed an alias. I'm using it because I don't want to give what is basically an opinion post any weight by putting a V-O tag on it.

3/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Louisiana—New Orleans aka Duncan7291

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 would love to see some evil boons. Yes, they need drawbacks but please don't make them too onerous that the player cannot function at needed level. The aforementioned Forge boons come close to that. Well at least the first one does but you bring it back into acceptable range on second one. The ability to lessen the penalty is nice as long as the scenarios are tied together and not too long of a break between.

Personally, my barbarian/alchemist would love these. Santi worships Lamashtu as an exiled tiefling from Chiliax. She was called a monster all her life and decided to embrace the path others had accused her of to gain power. She started as a barbarian filled with rage but discovered the achievement of her monstrous goals through alchemy. Now she vicious accomplishes her goals by tooth, claw and horn.

Silver Crusade

I have to agree with some of the points above, about how the Society is clearly a much more neutral than good organization already. Some people want to play heroic characters, and they fit in less than the morally ambiguous ones, in general. I play a bit of both, depending on the PC, but I do wish my more good and heroic PCs fit in better.

So I'd rather see rewards to encourage good behavior in PCs than more evil boons like we had in season 4. Even without boons, I'd like to see more heroic missions. We have a lot of adventures where you're just searching ruins and recovering artifacts, but not as many where you're protecting the innocent and fighting off an evil invasion. They do exist, but I'd love to see more of them.

1/5 5/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Let's see what I've played so far in Season Seven, generalized with spoilers under tabs:

A 'time plot'

Spoiler:
Sky Key Solution

An investigation into 'weird stuff' (x2)

Spoiler:
Six Seconds, Twisted Circle

An investigation into ancient ruins after fighting the whole way there

Spoiler:
Ironbound Schism

An investigation into recent ruins in Absalom

Spoiler:
School of Spirits

A request by a Venture Captain to look into their past.

Spoiler:
To Judge a Soul

A request by a faction leader to clear the Society's name in a city.

Spoiler:
Trouble in Tamran

A secret rendezvous with an enemy operative to deal with some 'bad stuff'.

Spoiler:
The Consortium Compact

An undercover investigation into the history of a police state.

Spoiler:
Faithless and Forgotten 1

An amazing discovery that wasn't anticipated.

Spoiler:
Faithless and Forgotten 2 -- given what the party was *sent* to investigate.

A prison break.

Spoiler:
Faithless and Forgotten 3

I'd humbly suggest that about a third to a half of what I've played so far in the season has been 'heroic' even if it ties into what the Society's goal is.

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

My general impression is that the Society starts on a job for "neutral" reasons, but if you seen an opportunity to do something heroic, it'll often be rewarded. You might improve people's opinion of the society, make a new friend, earn an unusual reward, and often it counts towards secondary success conditions.

When in doubt, do the right thing.

3/5

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Excepting his first sentence and the bit about boons for PFS community service awards (which I can totally get behind and would love to see some sort of sheet akin to the faction sheets, but for OOP stuff), I disagree with pretty much every point Harold made.

I appreciate that the campaign can illustrate that there are multiple alignments represented within the Society, even if a player is restricted from playing an evil character within the PFS campaign.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

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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 can only respond with a character anecote. MY barbarian was expose to Darkest Vengeance at a very low level and as a result developed an extreme fear of the dark. So much so, I often huddled with the caster like a small child whenever we were dependent on their magical light source. This went on for nearly all of his career.

When the Lissala series came out, there was an event where he was in complete darkness that was broken suddenly by a fire spell created by a Lissalan cultist. He took this as a sign that Lissala was showing him a way out of his fears. Thereafter he partook of all the "taints" from all the Lissala scenarios. In his mind, the general opinion of Lissala being an evil maniacal deity is misunderstood and he focuses on her role as a knowledge and rune goddess. Now being 12th level, I dunno if its worth it, but I have considered using a rebuild-boon from GenCon to change him to an inquisitor of Lissala to reflect his religious epiphany.

Not sure if this helps answer your question, but it was my role-play justification for taking the evil boons.

Venture-Captain, Germany–Hannover aka Hayato Ken

Heroic doesn´t necessarily equal any good alignment or good aligned goal.
Characters of any alignment and goals of any alignment can be equally heroic.
While the society might not be selflssly good, lots of evil and bad things are hindered on purpose.

Dark Archive

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These boons are some of my favorites in the game. Not because of the power level; I think that they could be just as fun while being less powerful in general or having greater downsides for using them. I like them so much because they encourage the characters to make meaningful choices and serve to distinguish them from each other.

For my part, my neutral wayang investigator is determined to bring about The Dissolution en masse to all wayangs on Golarion. He chose to use these tainted sources of power in the belief that making himself personally more capable would allow him to achieve what he sees as a heroic goal. Watching him slowly slide into more and more questionable tactics (associating with Zarta probably hasn't helped) has been the highlight of my PFS career so far.

I don't like the idea of turning off a boon after an atonement for one simple reason: it makes it so only Good characters can use the boon in play. In retrospect, I think that a little change in fluff for the Season 4 boons could have made everything a lot happier for everyone. I'm no writer, but something like this for example:

----

Your character receives the Evil Mark of Evil boon. If your character spends 8PP, you instead receive the Mark of the Redeemer Boon.

Evil Stone of Evil: This evil of this super evil stone grants you a +2 profane bonus to an attribute of your choice. Your alignment moves one step towards Evil unless you pay for an atonement spell.

Stone of the Redeemer: Through prayer, magical research, or sheer force of will you have overcome the evil of the stone. You receive a +2 sacred bonus to an attribute of your choice.

----

Now good guys (or moral neutrals) can pay 8PP and feel like they did something cool triumphing over evil while still getting the powerful boon (at a higher cost). Good guys of questionable morals can make a choice to move to neutral and get a great boon for free. Neutrals that were already a little questionable have to pay a (smaller) cost to make sure that they don't slide all the way to evil. Everybody wins.

4/5 Venture-Agent, Tennessee—Chattanooga aka ZenithTN

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John Compton wrote:


Although I hear the overall message of your post loud and clear, I'm getting confused by your reasoning. The third and fourth paragraphs seem to be contradictory. To paraphrase you, if good-aligned (i.e. "upstanding") people are hindrances to the goals of a conglomerate of archaeologists, and those good-aligned options are allowed for "revenue" purposes, why does that support steering the organization away from morally ambiguous choices in an adventure?

I was stating my view of the way things are, and apparently could have been more clear.

The in-game Pathfinder Society Corporation is functionally hindered by employing good aligned characters. But Paizo.com overrules the in-game corporation. It certainly isn't because Paladins make the best Pathfinder Agents; it's for the sake of real-world revenue.

The out-of-game Pathfinder Society does not allow evil characters. Thank you for this. Remember the reasons for this.

Thus, Pathfinder Society, both in-game, and out-of-game, caters to neutral characters.

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PFS has in some ways deteriorated from its intent in my mind. If we are going to ban Vivisection and Undead Lords based on flavor, then don't undermine that flavor with blessings from the nefarious.
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That depends in part on whether nefarious character mechanics (e.g. archetypes, feats, and spells, which the player plan a character around) are equally disruptive as corruption-oriented boons acquired in-play (e.g. a boon on a Chronicle...

My turn for confusion, John. If you are lobbying for nefarious character mechanics, so long as they aren't disruptive, then you've missed my point.

PFS has banned some character options. The publicly advertised reason was to defend the campaign from nefarious character types. I agree with that reasoning. Please continue to do this.

If you ban some character options as distasteful (evil alignments, Vivisectionists, Undead Lords, the list goes on), it's then incongruous to allow evil boons. Just at face value, Evil boons are a bad message to send for our public game. I regret the ones we've already allowed. Beyond face value, the conflicting message it would send is also bad. "That particular evil isn't good. This particular evil is okay. Hey, wait, Mister, why are you taking your wife and kids away from the table?"

4/5 Venture-Agent, Tennessee—Chattanooga aka ZenithTN

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Reply, Part II, because my forum editing is elementary at best.

Quote:

Other alignment-oriented boons aren't off the table, though they are tougher to adjudicate and balance.

Social rewards (e.g. A reward given to someone for being a good person out-of-game) might be possible. I recall working through this idea with Mike Brock a few years ago and running into some major logistical and distribution issues at the time. It's something to revisit.

As for rewarding behavior I want to see repeated, I'm mostly on board. The way I tend to write evil boons involves a significant (often ongoing) cost; it's not so easy as getting an atonement vaccination and then walking off with the prize. Good-oriented boons rarely require upkeep because they're rewards for having done something impressive and nice. Evil-oriented boons in a campaign that doesn't allow evil PCs should be more of an investment in which the PC (and possibly the player) is regularly sweating about whether it was wise to sign that infernal contract—and perhaps bleeding Prestige Points to repair the collateral damage.

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I have to admit, I am disappointed Paizo would ask such a thing. Doing so is indicative of the state of affairs on multiple levels, and saddens me.

Much as you have offered a resounding "no" to evil boons, I must offer a firm rebuttal of your take-away above. If I ask for feedback about a potentially contentious topic, it is because I acknowledge the potential impact and value the community's feedback on the subject. Perhaps I am missing some of the ramifications of your statement beyond my asking about evil boons. If so, please send me a private message or email at your leisure.

Evil-oriented boons in a campaign that doesn't allow evil PCs should be more of an investment in which the PC (and possibly the player) is ...

I disagree. Evil-oriented boons in a campaign that doesn't allow evil PCs should be anathema. Evil options are not best presented or catered to in Pathfinder Society.

Asking for input from your constituents is normally a laudable effort.
But there are limits even to acts motivated by good intentions. I don't ask the populace who I should stalk. Megacorp doesn't run a headline polling for which rainforest to strip. SuperGas doesn't ask us about forcibly evicting a tribe off an oil-rich parcel of land. I really wish Paizo would not have evil boons, let alone ask about evil boons.

The Exchange

I am all for Evil boons, Many good people don't always make good choices and now imagine the neutral ones. I think most boons in PFS are given for good/neutral accomplishments so I do not think we are in any danger of becoming the Aspis agents, but to think that slipping from that path once or twice in an entire career of good wouldn't sometimes yield positive results (for someone) is naive.

3/5

Harold Ervin wrote:
The out-of-game Pathfinder Society does not allow evil characters... and then a long rambling bit with actually nothing else I can agree with

I started to go through Harold's points, point-by-point, but I don't actually have time for that and had to delete things like "Han shot first, that wouldn't get him kicked from the Society!" so that I wouldn't get too close to the don't-be-a-jerk rule.

Suffice to day, there is actually nothing he posted that I agree with in his last two posts and I am VERY glad that whatever PF games he plays are seemingly nothing like those I play and enjoy.

Thanks again for listening to multiple sides, John.

The Exchange

I agree with TimD. I like a game that can accommodate all types of players, characters, and ideals.

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

Ragoz wrote:
I agree with TimD. I like a game that can accommodate all types of players, characters, and ideals.

Given that PFS is a marketing tool, it would make sense to appeal to the widest crowd possible, even if my personal preference would be towards a good leaning campaign.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Benjamin Falk wrote:

Here are some thoughts:

-many people seem to imply playing a CN character is actually playing an evil character. I think that´s wrong and offensive. CN is a distinct alignment with a clear write up and totally worthy playing of it´s own.
-when a player has a CN (or other alignment character, because the same is possible with LN or N alignment and those are much closer to some very interesting evil gods...), but plays evil, then it´s a player problem, the problem of one certain person and should be handled as such by eventually marking of that character as evil and unplayable.
-most players i know and have seen who want to play an "evil" character aren´t actually playing an evil character, they want to play a struggle and fiddle with dark forces, so they are really better off playing a neutral character. That´s a 100% legal concept and quite often seen in the most thrilling literature. Probably the most famous character like that is one from very iconic novels in the RPG genre, Raistlin Majere from Dragonlance.
-I have seen more jerkish paladins than jerkish CN characters so far.
-If you want to have a black and white game world that´s fine. Please accept that others have their own ideas though and all have to cooperate within PFS. (And your homegames most likely win a lot when you cooperate there too. We have a very interesting Mummys Mask game going on with an UC summoner and an undead eidolon, who wants to head the call of Urgathoa, and a calistrian warpriest and life oracle on the other side, who want to defend life and especially the living, for various reasons. Not to mention that there are cursed half-undead party members, what makes channeling positive energy very difficult often.)

Certainly some good stuff here. But Raistlin was all the way evil.


Andrew Christian wrote:


Certainly some good stuff here. But Raistlin was all the way evil.

What about Zarta?

4/5

A boon that just makes you detect as evil and get an atonement isn't really evil. It's just mechanically evil.

In a few cases how you got the item was the evil. That ended with the scenario and possible atonement. So it's a memento of past evil. Not so nice if people remember what you did to get it but most can live with the embarrassment.

Something that's ongoing evil is tougher. Usually that involves Will saves or ongoing monetary loss via providing sacrifices to recharge an item (temporary hit points tied to Death Knell or Poison or Vampiric Touch).

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