Shelyn and evil works of art


Advice


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I'm hoping that I can get some input on a topic that is baffling both myself and my DM.

I'm playing a paladin of Shelyn who is helping to eradicate an evil temple. The problem we're facing is that there are evil works of art of evil deities. So far for the valuable unholy symbols she has been going by the part of the code that says you may destroy art if more art arises from it by having the symbols melted down to be used by an artist.

But they encountered a large statue to a very evil deity in an evil temple. We're both stumped on what she should do she's been praying for advice and we're hoping for some insight.

Can paladins of Sheylyn destroy evil art when it's not to be used for more art? There is another paladin in the group she's been talking this over with and the topic has come up that if they leave the statue it may be a source of more inspiration for other evil worshippers. It's too large to carry out all of the stone to use for other artists to make different statues. It also does have a large emerald she's thinking could be used, but that does nothing about the statue itself.

I babbled on, but we've hit a philosophical problem. Could I please get some input that may help?


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I guess she has to decide which is greater -- the evilness of the art or its artistic value -- and then proceed accordingly.


Stone shape. Leave a pile of bricks for someone else to use. Or sculpt it to look like Shelyn, and drop a consecrate.

Win/win.


@David, that's the main thing we've been trying to figure out if it works with the code or not.

@kryzbn it's a group of pretty much all warrior types and rogues, no stone shape for us. (ETA: But that is an awesome idea! I wish we could do that.)


Bummer. Are there any temples to Shelyn nearby? Perhaps a priest of your goddess might find it worthy to trek up there to take care of it?


@Kryzbn That does sound like a good idea! Possibly leaving the unhallowed, evil deity statue for a time to find another who can take care of it to make better art. ^_^

Thank you so much for your input, both of you.

Grand Lodge

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Do the Painting's radiate evil? Will the paintings actually cause harm to those who look upon it?

Is it not art because the Subject matter makes it not worth calling art?

You can also dedicate and give art to Shelyn. She has a huge collection.

I myself would not destroy it unless harm can be done by the artwork. Just cause it is a subject matter you/your PC doesn't like does not discredit it as a piece of art.


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How can art be evil?

I understand that unhinged people could find inspiration in art to commit atrocities; that being said, unhinged people could find hidden messages in their alphabet soup. That's not the soup's fault.

In our society, we have museums with evidence and depictions of atrocities, not to inspire, but to remember the victims, try to understand why, and raise awareness to prevent similar events in the future. People make movies and paintings about war and the Holocaust and other things, so it is possible to make art of evil content without evil intent.

I realize that in the context of the gamespace, this art of evil content *was* created with evil intent, but that's still not the art's fault.

I would think that destroying the art would serve to decrease awareness of the actual problem (unhinged people,) and that devotees of Sheyln would work to preserve it (and maybe the site it is on) as a tribute to fallen souls, and how art can be a tool and a weapon, and just like tools and weapons, hold no fault of their own and must be handled with respect for the power they contain.

Sorry if I got heavy earlier with the war talk, etc. These comments bring up some deep philosophical ideas that I believe are worth exploring.


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I think Fruian has it. If the art is just aesthetically disturbing, it should not be destroyed -- but if it is magically and actively evil or harmful to innocents, then it should be.


David knott 242 wrote:

I think Fruian has it. If the art is just aesthetically disturbing, it should not be destroyed -- but if it is magically and actively evil or harmful to innocents, then it should be.

Agreed; I thought about this when I was posting but forgot to touch on it; at that point it stops being art and becomes a utilitarian device, and should be dealt with accordingly.


I don't think u should worry bout it, more like the artwork is neutral unless it pings evil. Isn't shelyn on good/neutral terms with a lot of the gods (evil ones included)?
If it's JUST art, I wouldn't worry bout it imho. If it was magical, pinged evil, or was part of an unholy alter or something along those lines, I'd say ur good to destroy but otherwise, move along.

Granted then comes along the question, should u "protect" it if others decide to break it or burn the place down? Lol

Silver Crusade

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Art is very subjective, but I believe there are things a Shelynite would be okay with destroying.

A statue of a evil deity? Nah.

A statue of Socethbenoth, demon lord of rape and abuse, depicted in the act of raping someone? Smash that f+!+er to pieces.

A depiction of grim act as a memorial? Nope.

A deiction of a grim act in celebration of said act? Smashy-smashy.


Take ranks in profession sculptor, break apart said statue into small pieces, carve these pieces into new small sculptures of something less offensive to you. That seems like it would be acceptable to Shelyn.

Do you not have a bag of holding to store the statue pieces in once broken apart? Could you come back later with a cart and move the statue? It mostly sounds like your problem is just one of logistics of transporting the statue.

Grand Lodge

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Redneckdevil wrote:

I don't think u should worry bout it, more like the artwork is neutral unless it pings evil. Isn't shelyn on good/neutral terms with a lot of the gods (evil ones included)?

If it's JUST art, I wouldn't worry bout it imho. If it was magical, pinged evil, or was part of an unholy alter or something along those lines, I'd say ur good to destroy but otherwise, move along.

Granted then comes along the question, should u "protect" it if others decide to break it or burn the place down? Lol

She carries the Whisper of Souls. A unholy Glaive she wrestled from Zon Kuthon that corrupts people who wield it. (But has no effect on Shelyn). She is Purifying it.

Silver Crusade

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Claxon wrote:

Take ranks in profession sculptor, break apart said statue into small pieces, carve these pieces into new small sculptures of something less offensive to you. That seems like it would be acceptable to Shelyn.

Do you not have a bag of holding to store the statue pieces in once broken apart? Could you come back later with a cart and move the statue? It mostly sounds like your problem is just one of logistics of transporting the statue.

Just an aside (I actually like your idea) but Bags of Holdings have weight limits so unless it's the high end one or a very small statue you probably wouldn't be able to carry all of it.


Rysky wrote:
Claxon wrote:

Take ranks in profession sculptor, break apart said statue into small pieces, carve these pieces into new small sculptures of something less offensive to you. That seems like it would be acceptable to Shelyn.

Do you not have a bag of holding to store the statue pieces in once broken apart? Could you come back later with a cart and move the statue? It mostly sounds like your problem is just one of logistics of transporting the statue.

Just an aside (I actually like your idea) but Bags of Holdings have weight limits so unless it's the high end one or a very small statue you probably wouldn't be able to carry all of it.

It's true, the entry versions of the bag of holding probably wouldn't work but the problem seems to be an issue of transport.

Is it not possible to come back after you're done clearing out the area and then get a cart and a couple porters to help you move the statue.


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When you take the "statue of a deity" out of its context, it ceases to be an object of worship. In the real world, we've taken a bunch of statues of the various Greek, Egyptian, Assyrian, etc. deities and put them in museums and nobody in the museum is going to think "welp, better worship Zeus now."

A statue of an evil god in a temple or other place of worship says "this is who you should be worshiping" but that same statue in a museum or other place where art is discussed is nothing more than "here is an artist's impression of [evil god]". I think you pretty much render the statue, painting, etc. non-evil (provided it's not magical) by taking it out of its context as an object of devotion and putting it in a context where it will be discussed as a piece of art.

After all, it's not like the various deities of Golarion deny that the other deities exist, and that they each have commonly associated images or representations, and simply displaying those images or representations is not inherently an act of worship. So just arrange for the statue to be transported to some art museum's comparative religion wing or similar. There's probably a university somewhere that would like to have it.

Silver Crusade

TempusAvatar wrote:

How can art be evil?

I understand that unhinged people could find inspiration in art to commit atrocities; that being said, unhinged people could find hidden messages in their alphabet soup. That's not the soup's fault.

In our society, we have museums with evidence and depictions of atrocities, not to inspire, but to remember the victims, try to understand why, and raise awareness to prevent similar events in the future. People make movies and paintings about war and the Holocaust and other things, so it is possible to make art of evil content without evil intent.

I realize that in the context of the gamespace, this art of evil content *was* created with evil intent, but that's still not the art's fault.

I would think that destroying the art would serve to decrease awareness of the actual problem (unhinged people,) and that devotees of Sheyln would work to preserve it (and maybe the site it is on) as a tribute to fallen souls, and how art can be a tool and a weapon, and just like tools and weapons, hold no fault of their own and must be handled with respect for the power they contain.

Sorry if I got heavy earlier with the war talk, etc. These comments bring up some deep philosophical ideas that I believe are worth exploring.

Art has persuasive value. And people can be persuaded to evil. Classic examples from real life would be Mein Kampf, and Leni Reifenstahl's the Triumph of the Will. Less clear-cut examples which are often cited are _Birth of a Nation_ and the music of Wagner. And that's assuming a thoroughgoing naturalistic worldview where only the persuasive aspects of a work are considered rather than possible supernatural aspects. In a fantasy world like Golarion, that is almost certainly not the case and one would expect any theology of philosophy of art to deal with things like _The King in Yellow_ or the _Necronomicon_.

Heck, if you assume that theatre myths about Shakespeare's Scottish play are true, then there are ethical issues about producing MacBeth. What if there were a play that was cursed so that any time someone produced it, at least one member of the cast or set would die? The play is not evil per se and might even produce good in its viewers but there would be definite ethical issues surrounding its preservation and production. (It could make an interesting adventure idea too if the curse were something that could be solved with swords and spells).

The same problem is going to face characters dedicated to the preservation of knowledge in many settings as well. In most settings, there exist categories of knowledge which are "Things not meant to be known" where the mere exploration or knowledge of them leads to madness and evil. Does the priest of Oghma preserve the alienest's journal of the far realms because it is knowledge or destroy it because anyone who reads it and truly understands it will be driven insane?


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This thread has made me want to make an Indiana Jones-esque character who specializes in taking the art out of evil temples for study.

"It belongs in a museum! And nowhere else!"


Fruian Thistlefoot wrote:
Redneckdevil wrote:

I don't think u should worry bout it, more like the artwork is neutral unless it pings evil. Isn't shelyn on good/neutral terms with a lot of the gods (evil ones included)?

If it's JUST art, I wouldn't worry bout it imho. If it was magical, pinged evil, or was part of an unholy alter or something along those lines, I'd say ur good to destroy but otherwise, move along.

Granted then comes along the question, should u "protect" it if others decide to break it or burn the place down? Lol

She carries the Whisper of Souls. A unholy Glaive she wrestled from Zon Kuthon that corrupts people who wield it. (But has no effect on Shelyn). She is Purifying it.

Nice! Didn't know about that :)

Silver Crusade

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PossibleCabbage wrote:

When you take the "statue of a deity" out of its context, it ceases to be an object of worship. In the real world, we've taken a bunch of statues of the various Greek, Egyptian, Assyrian, etc. deities and put them in museums and nobody in the museum is going to think "welp, better worship Zeus now."

A statue of an evil god in a temple or other place of worship says "this is who you should be worshiping" but that same statue in a museum or other place where art is discussed is nothing more than "here is an artist's impression of [evil god]". I think you pretty much render the statue, painting, etc. non-evil (provided it's not magical) by taking it out of its context as an object of devotion and putting it in a context where it will be discussed as a piece of art.

After all, it's not like the various deities of Golarion deny that the other deities exist, and that they each have commonly associated images or representations, and simply displaying those images or representations is not inherently an act of worship. So just arrange for the statue to be transported to some art museum's comparative religion wing or similar. There's probably a university somewhere that would like to have it.

That argument kinda falls apart when the gods in question are much more tangible and direct. And grant spells.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

When you take the "statue of a deity" out of its context, it ceases to be an object of worship. In the real world, we've taken a bunch of statues of the various Greek, Egyptian, Assyrian, etc. deities and put them in museums and nobody in the museum is going to think "welp, better worship Zeus now."

A statue of an evil god in a temple or other place of worship says "this is who you should be worshiping" but that same statue in a museum or other place where art is discussed is nothing more than "here is an artist's impression of [evil god]". I think you pretty much render the statue, painting, etc. non-evil (provided it's not magical) by taking it out of its context as an object of devotion and putting it in a context where it will be discussed as a piece of art.

After all, it's not like the various deities of Golarion deny that the other deities exist, and that they each have commonly associated images or representations, and simply displaying those images or representations is not inherently an act of worship. So just arrange for the statue to be transported to some art museum's comparative religion wing or similar. There's probably a university somewhere that would like to have it.

Yeah I'm going to disagree with you (and agree with Rysky) that your argument doesn't apply because no one (or almost no one) really believes that the Greek, Egyptian, or other ancient deities are real...anymore. However statues of deities in Golarion are of beings that very much exist and have influence on the mortal world, with real tangible effects.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I think it would depend on how you think Shelyn defines 'art.' From one perspective, just about anything can be 'art' while from other's nothing is.

It seems to me that Shelyn's perspective is that art=beauty=truth etc. Art is that which enhances, inspires, brings hope and a greater understanding of the world. It can be unsettling, but unless it is an unsettling piece that teaches or inspires in some way, it is not 'art'.

So a statue, even one crafted with skill, that's purpose is to demean, degrade, cause fear and exult evil would not be art in the sense that Shelyn sees and values art. Kind of like Justice Stewart's 'I know it when I see it' as to whether something was 'art' or 'obscenity'.

Obviously other interpretations are possible, but this makes sense to me.


Rysky wrote:
That argument kinda falls apart when the gods in question are much more tangible and direct. And grant spells.

I would imagine that any deity worth their salt would care about images or representations of them being worshiped or disrespected, and respond accordingly, but I would assume their time is sufficiently valuable that they won't be bothered to keep tabs on every single statue or representation of them out there. If a statue or painting is displayed in a gallery in a way that is neither venerative nor disrespectful, why would the deity it's tied to even care? After all, if a city with a temple in it burns down, and all that's left is a statue of that deity alone in the wilderness (marble doesn't burn), is the god in question still going to care about it when nobody is around to worship or disrespect them?

One would assume any gallery that displays icons of gods would have a cleric on retainer to make sure that everything is displayed properly in a way that won't provoke or favor anybody, but I don't think the statue or painting itself is can be seen as either good or evil.

Silver Crusade

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Rysky wrote:
That argument kinda falls apart when the gods in question are much more tangible and direct. And grant spells.

I would imagine that any deity worth their salt would care about images or representations of them being worshiped or disrespected, and respond accordingly, but I would assume their time is sufficiently valuable that they won't be bothered to keep tabs on every single statue or representation of them out there. If a statue or painting is displayed in a gallery in a way that is neither venerative nor disrespectful, why would the deity it's tied to even care? After all, if a city with a temple in it burns down, and all that's left is a statue of that deity alone in the wilderness (marble doesn't burn), is the god in question still going to care about it when nobody is around to worship or disrespect them?

One would assume any gallery that displays icons of gods would have a cleric on retainer to make sure that everything is displayed properly in a way that won't provoke or favor anybody, but I don't think the statue or painting itself is can be seen as either good or evil.

The concept of museums or galleries is a fairly modern one that depends on a good deal of wealth and other social capital. In ancient times, nobody took the statue of a god in order to display it in "a museum." If Philistines conquered your city and took the idols of your gods from your temple, it was either: A. because they were made of gold/valuable metals and could be used for currency or B. because they wanted to put your gods' idols in their gods' temples as trophies of how their gods had conquered your gods. If the Romans took your gods, they probably wanted to display them in a triumph or lesser celebration which was basically the same thing. I'm sure there are post-colonialists out there who would argue that's also true of the British Museum, etc.

And in a fantasy setting one should not simply assume that "artwork" is inert. There are several PFS scenarios where night at the museum style things happen in the Blackros Museum.

You're assuming that there is a non-venerative, non-disrespectful context for display. In most of the ancient world, there wasn't. In Golarion, the Blackros Museum might qualify (or might not--the Blackros family has some pretty sinister elements to their history and holdings, the "non-venerative" context could easily be a front in some cases) but it's not clear that such things are widely practiced or acknowledged.


I would assume "are there galleries in existence that display religious art work in a respectful but non-venerative fashion" is the sort of thing the GM should be able to decide, and a PC with connections to the church of the goddess of Art should be able to figure out. If there aren't, I would think "let's found one" would be a a good way for a PC to solve the problem in the long term.

As for "artwork being inert" it seems like artwork can certainly be magical, but a non-magical painting should really be no more apt to spontaneously generate shenanigans than a non-magical bench or a non-magical spoon.

As for the issue of "museums are a modern notion" I would say that fantasy settings are always a mixture of modern and historic (or modern notions of historic) notions about things, and "the Gods literally exist and affect things in a tangible way" would be an incentive to move quickly beyond "let's melt down the sacred art or use them as trophies to show how much better we are" to something less likely to piss off the patron God of whoever you just conquered. After all, if the Gods actually exist, you can't even run the old scam of "your gods are just our gods with different names, see how the stories are the same?"


PookaWitch wrote:

@David, that's the main thing we've been trying to figure out if it works with the code or not.

@kryzbn it's a group of pretty much all warrior types and rogues, no stone shape for us. (ETA: But that is an awesome idea! I wish we could do that.)

Is it just a statue? Or is it also a focus for evil, an evil artifact.

Once the temple itself has been cleared out, will destroying the statue remove more evil from the world.

If the answer to any of the above save the first question is a yes, Shelyn will be okay with destroying it.

Grand Lodge

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Elder Basilisk wrote:


The concept of museums or galleries is a fairly modern one that depends on a good deal of wealth and other social capital.

And in a fantasy setting one should not simply assume that "artwork" is inert.

PathfinderWiki wrote:
Shelyn herself has an extensive collection of artwork, mostly gifts from potential suitors or worshipers, most of which portray her. She also has a massive collection of violins and a secret collection of glaives.

Easy out is just giving the works to Shelyn and letting her deal with it using her divine wisdom on her terms.

Quote:
Nice! Didn't know about that :)

Here ya go.

Whisperer of Souls:
Shelyn bears the glaive gifted to her half brother called the Whisperer of Souls. The weapon was crafted by the former god of smiths, who fell during the same murderous spree that claimed Shelyn's mother. When he received it, the weapon corrupted Zon-Kuthon and convinced him to go to war against the other deities. It was during this war that Shelyn lost her mother and became goddess of love. When created, Whisperer of Souls was given the ability to absorb souls (hence its name) and once it absorbs 100 powerful souls (not just anybody's soul will do) it will become a god in its own right and bring about an era of murder and death. When Zon-Kuthon received the weapon it held no souls; by the time Shelyn stole Whisperer of Souls it had almost all it needed. In the time since, Shelyn has been able to free most of those souls thanks to the help of Nethys and brave adventurers (a grand quest of goodness must be performed to release a soul). Much to the frustration of Whisperer of Souls, it cannot seem to corrupt Shelyn or influence her in any way (earning her the title "the Incorruptible"). Quite the opposite, in fact: when Shelyn first stole the weapon it was a nightmarish and hideous piece of craftsmanship, but in the millennia since, Shelyn has remade it into a beautiful piece of art. It still bears a few ugly remnants, but they become less pronounced with each soul she releases.

In my opinion Like the whisperer of Souls, I believe Shelyn would only destroy art as a Last resort and really only if it causes harm to others. She is Purifying and turning the glaive into something Beautiful went it started off as a twisted abomination. It shows me Shelyn is not the type to take the easy method of destruction.

But that is just my opinion.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Fruian Thistlefoot wrote:
In my opinion Like the whisperer of Souls, I believe Shelyn would only destroy art as a Last resort and really only if it causes harm to others. She is Purifying and turning the glaive into something Beautiful went it started off as a twisted abomination. It shows me Shelyn is not the type to take the easy method of destruction.

Clearly though, from an 'artistic' point of view she has destroyed the 'nightmarish and hideous piece of craftsmanship' (which some would undoubtedly consider 'art', in the process of creating something she considers 'a beautiful piece of art'.

Arguably changing art is doing greater violence to the piece and the artist than just destroying it.

Grand Lodge

We could Argue the artistic point of view of Definition of Destroy.

I was using the term destroy as defined by Websters dictionary.

Webster's wrote:
to cause (something) to end or no longer exist : to cause the destruction of (something) : to damage (something) so badly that it cannot be repaired

I was using it as she did not just obliterate/Destroy or cause the Glaive to become non-existant.

But instead chose the harder path of releasing the souls.


This is a great thread.

I don't think there is a right answer, but the discussion has been great. In a world where magic and deity are demonstrably real, can art become more than art. I note that Horror Adventures has art based haunts, so you have mechanisms, if somewhat tedious ones.

Good art causes an emotional response, I like the idea that evil art could lead to corruption, again, not HA version of corruption.

Does Shelyn subscribe to the "Virtue untested is meaningless" philosophy?


Daw wrote:


Does Shelyn subscribe to the "Virtue untested is meaningless" philosophy?

I doubt it. She's not Iomedae after all.She doesn't have the DrillSargent or warrior mentality of a crusader.

Silver Crusade

PossibleCabbage wrote:
As for the issue of "museums are a modern notion" I would say that fantasy settings are always a mixture of modern and historic (or modern notions of historic) notions about things, and "the Gods literally exist and affect things in a tangible way" would be an incentive to move quickly beyond "let's melt down the sacred art or use them as trophies to show how much better we are" to something less likely to piss off the patron God of whoever you just conquered. After all, if the Gods actually exist, you can't even run the old scam of "your gods are just our gods with different names, see how the stories are the same?"

I see it as just the opposite. Our idea of how people who believe in gods would behave should be informed by how people who actually believed in gods actually behaved. In the ancient world many people actually did believe that their various gods did exist and taking trophies to demonstrate the superiority of their gods over their enemies is exactly what they did for rival pantheons or people groups. Most of the time, it worked out. Sometimes, as they told the stories, it did not. One of the stories in the Bible recounts the ark of the Covenant being captured by the Philistines who took it to the temple of Dagon for exactly that purpose. The next day they found Dagon's statue fallen off its pedestal. So they put Dagon back up. Then next morning, Dagon was missing his head and his feet. So they decided that some other Philistine city could have the honor of having defeated the Hebrews god. That city was smitten with tumors. So they made an offering to the god of the Israelites and quite respectfully sent his ark home. Regardless of whether you think that story is true or not in real life, that's exactly the kind of thing I think should happen in a fantasy world. Some people would be really worried about having their god Dagoned and would be very careful to avoid offending the gods of the land. Some people would be eager to demonstrate the superiority of their gods. And some people would treat conquered gods differently on a case by case basis. In Greyhawk, Heironeans who conquered Hextorites (or vise versa) would almost certainly take the trophy if they didn't just destroy the whole temple. Heironeans who defeated followers of Al Akhbar would probably leave Al Akhbar's shrines alone or might even make an offering in respect.

There is no such thing as a "neutral", non-venerative but non-disrespectful way to take the icons and worship accouterments of a deity who actually exists. We moderns can only imagine that there is such a thing because we don't believe the gods actually exist and after several thousand years (in most cases) can see their idols as nothing more than a special class of sculpture with cultural significance but nothing more. For deities that actually exist, things like idols are either holy or profaned. Once dedicated to worship, there are no other options.


I think the elucidating thing about the Dagon story is that it's being recounted by the people who won in the end (as it's their god that's taking exception to their sacred relic being disrespected). I don't think you would find stories about "we conquered those guys and we desecrated their idols, and maaaan was that a bad idea" because there's no reason to tell that story, it makes your god look weak and their god look strong. If there's a story that makes your god look stronger than their god, you tell that one but not the reverse.

I would imagine in a world where the gods actually exist and are apt to take exception to their idols being disrespected, there would be clear and well-known examples of "why that's not a good idea" since the irate god would probably like to send a message to discourage others. But if that hasn't been relatively common (or at least commonly understood) over the past few centuries, it's probably not going to happen to the PC who disrespects the sacred relics of whatever god they're already opposed to.

Frankly, I think "the gods actually exist" makes it easier for there to be a non-venerative but also non-disrespectful way to display an icon of the god, and really raise a lot of questions about the nature of "worship" in this setting. After all, if you know for a fact that Shelyn exists and you perform these rites in order to get your spells, that's more of a quid pro quo than an actual expression of faith (you can't have faith in things that you have concrete proof of, since it's unnecessary.)

Or for another example, almost everybody agrees that Elvis Presley exists, some people worship him as a divine being. There are a lot of pictures and paintings that depict Elvis, and if I were to display one prominently in my home (over the mantle, say) that would neither be offensive to the people who worship Elvis nor would it be any evidence that I worship Elvis. I can just say "I think Elvis was way cool" and most everybody will be okay with that.

So perhaps the nature of worship on Golarion is basically "I have a contractual relationship with this divine being, and while I acknowledge that these other beings exist and are powerful, I have no contractual relationship with them." Perhaps the nature of divinity in a fantasy world where all sorts of gods exist and grant boons to their followers is "this is the being who was worthy of my attention" and nothing more. It's perhaps more like "being a citizen of a country" (in that you care about the rules determined by your country/god and not the rules set by any other) than any real form of worship.


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Take up satire. Carve some groucho marx glasses on it.

Silver Crusade

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Possiblecabbage, you really don't get it. There are lots of people who did believe and do believe that gods actually exist. They reacted 180 degrees opposite to the way you think they would if they were right. Therefore your idea about how people would react if they believed things is 100% wrong.

It doesn't matter that you think things would be different if gods really existed. All of those things that you think gods would do if they really existed--the people who believed in them believed that they really did them. All of those things you think would change the nature of how gods would be worshipped? They are how people who do or did believe in gods actually believed the world worked. To a great degree your summation of Golarion religious belief as, "I have a contractual relationship with this divine being, and while I acknowledge that these other beings exist and are powerful, I have no contractual relationship with them," is a fair summation of how ancient world pagans actually believed and acted. (At least the Greeks, Romans, Danes, et al. I'm less knowledgeable about Native American, African, and Indian, Chinese, etc beliefs. And it's more complex for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, because the nature of their religious belief is different from how the ancient world pagan religious belief that forms the basis for D&D/Pathfinder pantheons worked). But the bottom line is, if you want to know how those beliefs and that mindset would influence people to behave, you can't ignore how people who actually had those beliefs and that mindset actually did behave. They wouldn't act differently because happenings on Golarion gave them even more reason to think they were right about the gods.

To the another point, while you are right that the point of the Ark of the Covenant/Dagon story in the bible is to illustrate that the God of the Israelites was stronger than the gods of the Philistines (and/or that he was real while the gods of the Philistines did not exist at all; both interpretations of similar power encounters are supported by various sections of scripture), you are wrong that the only such stories of power encounters are of the "our god is stronger than their gods" variety. The Romans and Greeks actually do record quite a few instances of "we did this, that or the other and boy was it a bad idea; we had to consult the Sybilline oracles/go to Delphi/wait for a prophet to tell us how to appease the god and make the problems go away." Sometimes, for the Romans, the answer was build a temple (Rome ended up with a lot of temples), sometimes it was something like, burn two slaves alive in the center of the city. And Tacitus (I think it was Tacitus but it could be one of the other Roman historians) tells us that they did it and the problems went away. I'm sure that the Babylonians, Persians, Egyptians, Phoenecians, Aztecs, Mayans, and Zulus all had similar stories but I'm less familiar with their history and we have less (or none) of their records.

The analogy you provide is illuminating but in the opposite way to how you think it is. First, people who purport to worship Elvis really don't believe he's divine. It's playacting like people who claim to be Jedi or pretend to worship the flying spaghetti monster. The joke is that they really don't think there is a flying spaghetti monster and if there were, don't think he'd be worthy of worship. They ape the words and forms of theistic belief in order to mock people who actually believe in God or gods and/or make a legal point. Try that with Krishna in rural India and see how far your get. But that to one side, the proper analogy for your Elvis painting is if you went into the temple of Elvis, held the priest at gunpoint, and took the painting out of his temple and hung it on your wall. There is no way to do that "respectfully" and "non-veneratively." No matter where or how you hang it, it is still a sacred icon that you forcibly removed from its place of veneration. It's 100% different than if you went down to the store and bought your own velvet painting of Elvis that had never been in a shrine or worshiped.

Going back to the original post, objects and implements of worship are not objects of art. They are sacred objects or implements of worship. Even if they share many characteristics and are made with the same techniques as objects of art, they're not the same, any more than the urinal in a modern art museum is the same as the urinal in the men's bathroom. They may look the same. They may even have come from the same factory, but they're not the same. One is a urinal and one is artwork. (At least granting the premises of modern art--if you don't, the urinal in the display case is not really art; it's a con-job masquerading as art, but that's neither here nor there, though I suspect that would be more in line with Shelyn's view of art than the "modern art" conception of art).


"Going back to the original post, objects and implements of worship are not objects of art"

I think that this is where I fundamentally disagree. Literally everything is an object of art, provided it is treated as an object of art. Insofar as we treat it as an object of art, instead of what it might otherwise be, it is an object of art and not whatever it used to be. When Duchamp signed the urinal and put it in a museum, it ceased to be a toilet fixture and became a work of art. If you try to use it for its original purpose, they'll throw you out of the museum. Art only functions as art insofar as it can be discussed and considered as art ("Fountain" was, as point of fact, a joke that became art because people took it seriously and treated it like art.)

Fundamentally I believe that "individual icons of worship" are beneath the concern of gods, and the only wrath you'd really be courting if you put "statue of [evil god]" on display in a private gallery is "the worshipers of [evil god]", who are probably not nice people so it's a meaningful concern. They're the only people who are going to look at the statue as something other than a piece of art in the context in which it is presented. The curator would be wise to point out that the desecration was in fact only perpetrated by the person who brought them the statue, and whatever quarrel they have is with that person (whose name could certainly be provided for a fee), as the museum itself has gone to great lengths to show appropriate respect (and obviously they can't be expected to consecrate a temple but they do what they can.).


Do what people in the art world used to do COVER IT UP. Shelyn should appreciate that. ;) But for a group of mostly fighters, it might be the best way of handling it. What you need is a Bard with Performance to tell you how best to handle it. Cover it up and tie it with a bow!

Silver Crusade

This has been an interesting discussion to read and think about. I was going to suggest the smart-ass idea (like using it as a coat rack) but Bob Bob Bob beat me to it. I would point out to the Cabbage-Basilisk thread that one of the ideas we have to work with is modern definitions of art that simply are not the same as historic/ prehistoric views. The whole concept of "art for art's sake" is probably a recent creation (keep in mind "recent" is subjective). For most of human history, art most likely had functional attributes, whether magical (like painting a scene of killing a bison to influence your bison hunt), or ceremonial (there's reason to believe that certain cave paintings for example were used in either religious or secular rituals), or whatever. Coming from different traditions of art and viewing excellent craftsmanship, we come to think of them as artistic, and they are, but they aren't at the same time. For example, the mention of the British Museum. When the Brits (and other colonial powers) came into new areas, they often stole objects claiming that the natives wouldn't know how to protect their own art (even though some of these works were hundreds or thousands of years old). The Euros viewed these works as art; the natives may have viewed them as having historical value, religious value, or other values (even something simple like a pot can have artistic value though the potter just used it to cook soup).
Anyway, I'm just thinking out loud. Cool discussion. I hope we find out what PookaWitch decided to do with her statue.


Art can not be evil! If it's evil, it's not art!


Hand it over to a group of preschoolers, along with a lot of paint, glue, glitters, dry macaroni...

They'll make it art.

Grand Lodge

I have a higher level Warpriest priest of Shelyn, and just based on what context we have he would likely destroy it. I operate him based on the Paladin code, and that does state you can destroy/sacrifice art to save a life. He would believe that (Depending on the God/Goddess) leaving the statue as is could cost people's lives or souls later, so better to destroy it and if Shelyn is displeased ask forgiveness later.

If it's Lamashtu or another divine that destroys beauty I doubt Shelyn will mind at all, since discourage future worship will protect the beauty in the world.

Ultimately it's your GMs interpretation of Shelyn's will that matters, and whatever he thinks she'd approve of would be the best course for your character.


This may be a bit of a meta answer, but I would suggest having your character roll a knowledge religion check about it. For extra roleplaying, mull over both sides, look at your WWSD bracelet and then roll.

Joke aside, unless it is magically enchanted to be dangerous I think you could leave it be, maybe cover it up for the time being, but I am not the DM and can't smack the paladin over with the +5 Hammer of Falling if the other player's interpretation differs from mine.


I think a large tenet of Shelyn's faith is that there is beauty to be found in ANY work of art. The use of the statue is not as significant as the expression of the sculptor creating it, who may not have been evil at all, and simply working for who pays him.


If it is carrying a message to the onlooker which will influence him to do evil, it's torch and pitchfork time. If it is art for art's sake, get it into a museum.

If it is the statue of another deity, it comes down to what the stance on the proliferation of evil cults is. Since it is not a question, if the deity exists, it comes down to what message your temple wants to convey to others. If they put it up for public display, they kinda endorse that deity, if the put it into a cellar it is no longer art, since it cannot be admired any longer, and might as well be done away with.

(I also firmly believe that any example of abstract "art" should be eradicated with extreme prejudice, hopefully along with the perpetrator - so take that as you will :) )

Silver Crusade

Take the work of art and transform it. Instead of it being an statue to an evil diety, it becomes part of a diaroma where an evil diety is defeated by Shelyn.


Is the statue made of babies?

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