What is general opinion on Aroden mystery?


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Amanuensis wrote:

I always saw the death of Aroden as a narrative device to make perfectly clear that in Golarion, humankind is responsible for its own destiny. Not unlike the story of man's fall from paradise in Genesis, it serves to deflect the problem of theodicy and free will. There is no place for adventurers in a world where the divine champion of humanity walks among the mortals. In such a setting, player characters would be reduced to sidekicks fulfilling a predestined prophecy.

And the fact that there is no explanation is essential to this effect. If you think about it, the mythic framework that encompasses man's fall from Paradise is deeply unsatisfying (how could Adam and Eve choose to disobey God if they didn't know the difference between good and evil to begin with?). The narrative can only deflect the problem of theodicy and free will, not solve it. The only truely satisfactory explanation would impose a new meaning, a new destiny on humankind, thereby depriving it of its freedom to choose its own destiny. It's similar with the events surrounding Aroden's death. It ensures that Golarion is a place that needs adventurers.

There's a lot of interesting elements to this post, but... I disagree with most, if not all of it.

This really isn't necessarily a good time to get into heavier theological debates, but it's quite simple to explain why Adam and Eve were able to choose do disobey, even before the Fall: they chose because they had free will, and, in so-choosing, they learned what that meant. In other words, they learned what sin was by doing it the first time.

Similarly, as you sort of touch upon to in your follow-up post, it seems a modernistic fallacy to presume that, just because there's prophecy, you're stuck in ironclad fates, or that predetermination somehow invalidates or lessens the worth of a given individual.

Amanuensis wrote:
Human freedom of choice is fundamentally incompatible with the mythological mindset,

... this is entirely false, though. Human freedom of choice isn't incompatible with the mythological mindset than human desire to fly is incompatible with modern acknowledgement of gravity and aeronautics. A single human isn't able to fly like a bird, use a jetpack (at least any working form that we've devised to my knowledge, outside of very limited and bulky things), or such nonsense, but we've working planes and even space ships to take us beyond the limits of what otherwise would be deemed impossible.

The mythological mindset most assuredly has parameters and limits, and certainly has all sorts of restrictions - that never actually removed human agency, however.

I mean, I can't go star-diving just 'cause I feel like it, but that doesn't remove my agency one bit. Nor does the fact that I am chained by forces too big to really grok to that very star - fundamentally dependent upon it for my life and owing it my very existence, and must respect and properly acknowledge it (by, say, not looking directly at it, not attempting to openly defy it's power, and wearing the proper covering when it's nearby) - change the fact that, ultimately, I'm free to do whatever I want.

Of course there are consequences to these things. Consequences on account of free agency is something that everything in existence deals with, whether in mythology, history, or modern times.

I don't really think it's that big a deal to have a prophecy present in a setting - it's only necessary to own up to it and, as a GM, utilize it in a way that actively helps the free-will imposition of PCs (either by introducing false prophecies, tricky language, or whatnot).

What this thing (the death of prophecy) does, has little to do with,

Amanuensis wrote:
From a narrative standpoint, the ommission is better than any explanation that would distract from the core message ('You are on your own now').

... from my standpoint (because it's fundamentally a flawed message - there are, like, hundreds of gods who, though possibly unable to prophecy, can predict the future with a fair degree of accuracy*), and more, instead, simply allows GMs not to worry about that thing.

"Prophecy's not a thing in this setting, and whenever it has happened, recently, it's been wrong." means a GM can be free to have their mad seer say stuff and, if it doesn't work out, no need to go through mental hoops. In other words, "Relax, d00d." is the message I get, rather than, "Mortal kind's on it's own." And if it does work out, the GM is able to play that up and push further interesting adventures and avenues by that standard, right up until it doesn't work out.

* Divination spells still work, and we've got various boosters.

Amanuensis wrote:
If the setting would treat them equal to humans, they would likely have their own narratives of emancipation (I haven't checked, maybe the do and the picture that I painted is too negative. I guess the gnome's departure from the First World could be seen as such a narrative).

In many ways, the setting treats various non-humans as superior, but I think I see what you mean, here. :)

In any event, none of them really need "emancipation narratives" in this case (though you rightly point out that gnomes have their own variant thereof, as do elves with the drow and dwarves with the quest for the sky, and Halflings with their opposition of literal enslavement) - everyone was 'freed' from prophecy by the death of the 'god of humanity' (Aroden). At this point, based on the generalized hedging going on by staff, I'd guess the working theory is that his death is incidental to the loss of prophecy (which said death was, itself, seemingly prophesied).

Golarion elves are very much so unlike anything found in their mythological origins, by this point. In common they... have pointy ears and live a long time? Make good craftsmen (because they're smart)? And that's about it.

Some elves certainly embrace the stereotype of being in tune with natural whatevers that Tolkien started, and certainly Kyonin has this whole thing with purity and facing off against a corruptor of nature, but by the same token, you've got the Ekujae elves of Garund, the Mordant Spire elves, the drow (nope), and so on; and what's interesting is that none of these are entirely one-sided in their depiction of a culture (except, maybe, drow among themselves).

Gnomes are pretty much, "the children of fey turned mortal and seeking to keep alive and vibrant as long as possible" - nothing else really keeps them together or similar.

Halflings lack a culture, but certainly don't fit into anything like their supposed origins - nowhere in Golarion is there a place like the Shire, and even if there were, there aren't any powerful over-arcing culture for Halflings to cling to. One supposes that these guys do need emancipation, but, then again, that's their whole story: the fact that there is an organization dedicated to their emancipation. Oh, wait, that's not actually their whole story - they have too many people groups entirely unconnected to that.

Dwarves and orcs seem pretty typical, but they have decent stories to follow.

But humans have the same sort of, "This is their gist" as any other race: that's what Aroden does (and Azlant and Thassilon and Taldor, etc.): creates a quasi-cohesive narrative one can point at, and go, "yeah, that's humans" without being too worried about it.

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Yakman wrote:

Aroden's church under the Taldans didn't take over Varisia, iirc.

So, if you are reading Rise of the Runelords, of course, Aroden's influence isn't felt. But his footprint is all over Cheliax.

That's a decent point. A fair amount of space has been devoted to Varisia, which is more the adventurer-friendly frontier. The places where Aroden held the most sway, and had the most influence, are areas that are pretty 'settled' and therefore not as adventurer-friendly.

It's not even a case of 'too many APs in Varisia, rawr!' as that Aroden perhaps did his job a little too well, as 'god of civilization,' leaving behind some fairly civilized centers of power. Even if Cheliax has fallen far, it's still not exactly a rough and tumble frontier where anything goes and a party of sword-and-spell wielding vagabonds can make a name for themselves without butting up against the local Boss Hawg and his deputies.

Had Aroden's church been making a major expansion into Varisia, at the time of his snuffing it, and that initiative collapsed (and some might say, was even pushed off a cliff, by locals both malevolent and benign, ranging from various non-human cultures to the Aspis Consortium to pirates who sailed out of Riddleport to the free-spirited Varisians and 'don't call us savages' Shoanti) causing all sorts of local power re-shuffling, who were eager to keep Varisia wild and woolly), then the death of Aroden might have a much larger footprint on Varisia, and adventures set in Varisia, but that ship sailed about 10 years ago. :)

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For the most part, I really don't care. It's a fairly forgettable event that's really all not relevant to much, even in the setting, but in some ways a pretty large missed opportunity.

There are very few campaign settings that have a deity of Humans, (as opposed to Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and various "monstrous races"), and I think the most interesting way to have gone about it would have been to focus on Clerics of the Dead Aroden still getting spells and powers vs "Philosophy Clerics" vs Oracles (although they where not around in the early days), vs followers of the upstart deities that came after.

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Tacticslion wrote:

This really isn't necessarily a good time to get into heavier theological debates, but it's quite simple to explain why Adam and Eve were able to choose do disobey, even before the Fall: they chose because they had free will, and, in so-choosing, they learned what that meant. In other words, they learned what sin was by doing it the first time.

Similarly, as you sort of touch upon to in your follow-up post, it seems a modernistic fallacy to presume that, just because there's prophecy, you're stuck in ironclad fates, or that predetermination somehow invalidates or lessens the worth of a given individual.

That explanation doesn't satisfy me at all, but I'll cede the point in order to avoid writing a fundamental critique of christian hamartiology and its (in my opinion) deeply amoral implications.

Keep in mind that I'm arguing from a narrative standpoint here. The mythological narratives of which I'm thinking all focus on humankind's failing struggle to lead a self-determined life in defiance of the mythological forces. Oedipus' fate has been determined by the oracle's prophecy, and no matter how hard he tries, he cannot escape its grasp. Other heros sometimes have a choice to make, but it's an impossible choiche between self-abandonment and total destruction. That doesn't diminish them as humans, but from a modern standpoint, they aren't autonomous beings. They don't have a life outside of this struggle because that is not what the story is about.

Tacticslion wrote:
Amanuensis wrote:
Human freedom of choice is fundamentally incompatible with the mythological mindset

... this is entirely false, though. Human freedom of choice isn't incompatible with the mythological mindset than human desire to fly is incompatible with modern acknowledgement of gravity and aeronautics. A single human isn't able to fly like a bird, use a jetpack (at least any working form that we've devised to my knowledge, outside of very limited and bulky things), or such nonsense, but we've working planes and even space ships to take us beyond the limits of what otherwise would be deemed impossible.

The mythological mindset most assuredly has parameters and limits, and certainly has all sorts of restrictions - that never actually removed human agency, however.

I mean, I can't go star-diving just 'cause I feel like it, but that doesn't remove my agency one bit. Nor does the fact that I am chained by forces too big to really grok to that very star - fundamentally dependent upon it for my life and owing it my very existence, and must respect and properly acknowledge it (by, say, not looking directly at it, not attempting to openly defy it's power, and wearing the proper covering when it's nearby) - change the fact that, ultimately, I'm free to do whatever I want.

Of course there are consequences to these things. Consequences on account of free agency is something that everything in existence deals with, whether in mythology, history, or modern times.

I don't really think it's that big a deal to have a prophecy present in a setting - it's only necessary to own up to it and, as a GM, utilize it in a way that actively helps the free-will imposition of PCs (either by introducing false prophecies, tricky language, or whatnot).

I guess I should have been more precise with my language here, but again, I'm arguing from a narratologic standpoint. You are right that prophecy doesn't necessarily preclude human agency, even if that agency only consists of choosing which path to take to reach the inevitable outcome. It certainly doesn't help that mythological narratives offer very little in terms of psychological motivation, which would introduce morality and thereby a sense of agency. But that is not what these stories are about. They demonstrate how even a great person is not master of their own fate, not for rational reasons, but because of an imposed mythical order that defies comprehension.

Tacticslion wrote:

What this thing (the death of prophecy) does, has little to do with,

Amanuensis wrote:
From a narrative standpoint, the ommission is better than any explanation that would distract from the core message ('You are on your own now').

... from my standpoint (because it's fundamentally a flawed message - there are, like, hundreds of gods who, though possibly unable to prophecy, can predict the future with a fair degree of accuracy*), and more, instead, simply allows GMs not to worry about that thing.

"Prophecy's not a thing in this setting, and whenever it has happened, recently, it's been wrong." means a GM can be free to have their mad seer say stuff and, if it doesn't work out, no need to go through mental hoops. In other words, "Relax, d00d." is the message I get, rather than, "Mortal kind's on it's own." And if it does work out, the GM is able to play that up and push further interesting adventures and avenues by that standard, right up until it doesn't work out.

Has it been established anywhere in canon that gods can see into the future? For the most part, divination spells don't allow exact predictions of the future (augury is badly written in my opinion--it's basically a weaker version of divination, which provides a "useful piece of advice"--certainly not the same thing as a glimpse of the things to come).

Talking about 'death of prophecy' is meaningless if prophecy does not imply a predetermined outcome (if not the course that leads to the outcome, which admittedly allows for agency). To me, these messages are one and the same.

I'll freely admit that it's a subjective interpretation. I'm rather sensitive when it comes to the inclusion of mythological content (I certainly wouldn't need stats for gods, for example) whereas others don't seem to have the same reservations.


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Set wrote:
Yakman wrote:

Aroden's church under the Taldans didn't take over Varisia, iirc.

So, if you are reading Rise of the Runelords, of course, Aroden's influence isn't felt. But his footprint is all over Cheliax.

That's a decent point. A fair amount of space has been devoted to Varisia, which is more the adventurer-friendly frontier. The places where Aroden held the most sway, and had the most influence, are areas that are pretty 'settled' and therefore not as adventurer-friendly.

It's not even a case of 'too many APs in Varisia, rawr!' as that Aroden perhaps did his job a little too well, as 'god of civilization,' leaving behind some fairly civilized centers of power. Even if Cheliax has fallen far, it's still not exactly a rough and tumble frontier where anything goes and a party of sword-and-spell wielding vagabonds can make a name for themselves without butting up against the local Boss Hawg and his deputies.

Had Aroden's church been making a major expansion into Varisia, at the time of his snuffing it, and that initiative collapsed (and some might say, was even pushed off a cliff, by locals both malevolent and benign, ranging from various non-human cultures to the Aspis Consortium to pirates who sailed out of Riddleport to the free-spirited Varisians and 'don't call us savages' Shoanti) causing all sorts of local power re-shuffling, who were eager to keep Varisia wild and woolly), then the death of Aroden might have a much larger footprint on Varisia, and adventures set in Varisia, but that ship sailed about 10 years ago. :)

thank you for your cogent points.

also, WE NEED ANOTHER VARISISA AP.

thank you.


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James Jacobs wrote:

I'm sorry some folks are disappointed or frustrated by our decision to keep Aroden's death a mystery.

If this one mystery is ruining the setting for you, then maybe you should consider telling other stories in Golarion that focus on topics other than Aroden. That's pretty much what we've done with the setting—Aroden's death set up the current era, but we aren't interested in telling stories about Aroden's death. That's why we had that event occur a century BEFORE the current in-game year. We are more interested in telling other stories in a world that, 100 years ago, had a significant change take place.

If not knowing how Aroden died is that big a deal, then maybe Golarion isn't the setting for you. That's fine. Not everyone has to like every thing.

I think, perhaps, the more fundamental misstep was in only pinning it 100 years ago. Any elf PC, a core race, was born into the "Aroden is coming" promised land. Since release, many other PC races can very conceivably have lived much of their lives during that time. So, not knowing is a hole in PC's backstories whether the player realizes it or not.

As they get more familiar with the official setting and its timeline, even though it doesn't consciously register, the depth of the hole increases. Throw these characters into the world and it's still very fresh. Look at the prevalence of the wars of the 20th century and how they still play an exceedingly strong role in pop culture. That kind of influence won't wane for another couple hundred years and everyone IRL is just a plain human and not surrounded by a chorus of folks with relatively fresh memories who likely heard his voice through communes and whatnot.

Aroden should have died 1,000+ years or so ago. How the aboleths called down the Starstone is an acceptable "it just happened" because NO ONE has a connection to those events. Aroden is much, much too fresh in the setting. So, to say "tell other stories," comes across flat. There is practically no story in a cohesive sense that is untouched by those events and yet you want us to simply move on. Sorry, people don't work like that.

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Buri Reborn wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

I'm sorry some folks are disappointed or frustrated by our decision to keep Aroden's death a mystery.

If this one mystery is ruining the setting for you, then maybe you should consider telling other stories in Golarion that focus on topics other than Aroden. That's pretty much what we've done with the setting—Aroden's death set up the current era, but we aren't interested in telling stories about Aroden's death. That's why we had that event occur a century BEFORE the current in-game year. We are more interested in telling other stories in a world that, 100 years ago, had a significant change take place.

If not knowing how Aroden died is that big a deal, then maybe Golarion isn't the setting for you. That's fine. Not everyone has to like every thing.

I think, perhaps, the more fundamental misstep was in only pinning it 100 years ago. Any elf PC, a core race, was born into the "Aroden is coming" promised land. Since release, many other PC races can very conceivably have lived much of their lives during that time. So, not knowing is a hole in PC's backstories whether the player realizes it or not.

As they get more familiar with the official setting and its timeline, even though it doesn't consciously register, the depth of the hole increases. Throw these characters into the world and it's still very fresh. Look at the prevalence of the wars of the 20th century and how they still play an exceedingly strong role in pop culture. That kind of influence won't wane for another couple hundred years and everyone IRL is just a plain human and not surrounded by a chorus of folks with relatively fresh memories who likely heard his voice through communes and whatnot.

Aroden should have died 1,000+ years or so ago. How the aboleths called down the Starstone is an acceptable "it just happened" because NO ONE has a connection to those events. Aroden is much, much too fresh in the setting. So, to say "tell other stories," comes across flat. There is practically no story in a cohesive sense that is untouched by those events and yet you want us to simply move on. Sorry, people don't work like that.

Um, we have so far.

That and saying that having his death occur only 100 years ago causes plot holes in backstories of all long lived PC races is bit of an exaggeration.


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I think Aroden developed the bad habit of traveling into the future to see how his plans worked out, then returning to his "present" to adjust things accordingly. On his last trip, one of two things happened:

1) Things went so well in that future that he decided that the best thing he could do was leave it alone. That required him to be effectively "dead" for the time interval that he was gone.

or

2) Since time travel into the past is possible only via a previously placed "anchor", Aroden had to set such an anchor for any trip into the future so that he could return to the point from which he left. A deity who disagreed with his plans simply destroyed that anchor as soon as he left, leaving Aroden stranded in that distant future.

Either way, and assuming that the Starfinder setting makes no fresh mention of him, Aroden is stuck somewhere in the post-Starfinder era and will never be officially heard from again. Unofficially, Aroden stranded in the Starfinder setting could make for an interesting homebrew adventure.


Rysky wrote:

Um, we have so far.

That and saying that having his death occur only 100 years ago causes plot holes in backstories of all long lived PC races is bit of an exaggeration.

We have so far what?

It's really not considering how active he was with humanity and the faith. That the setting seemingly expects the denizens of Golarion to have come so close to the divine and to go on like nothing happened relatively soon after is a bit of a stretch. Tbh, I'm surprised more counties didn't do what Cheliax did and align itself wholesale to a particular deity.

My point was that even with a huge event in real history where the vast majority of participants have now died, we still talk about it frequently, make sure it's taught in core educational curriculum, publish works multiple times a year that produce billions in revenues, and so on. Contrast that with Golarion's relatively sparse handling of Aroden's death and it just doesn't add up. THEN to be told to focus on other things takes a weird feeling and pushes it to the point like something is wrong there.

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Meanwhile, DC still refuses to tell the one and only official origin story of Joker.


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Gorbacz wrote:
Meanwhile, DC still refuses to tell the one and only official origin story of Joker.

We'll never know how he got those scars. :(


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I always felt Aroden's death was a cool concept that never went anywhere. I'm not sure if it's due to the timeframe (only 100 years ago) or if it's because his death has no effect on the world. Okay, yes it had an effect on the world as it was the catalyst for change in governments (Cheliax) or weather (Eye of Abendego), but aside from some one-off changes in the recent past, there is no effect in the current day.

I feel like his death would have much more impact to players if it had an actual game effect (maybe divination magic shouldn't work). The fact that prophecies are broken means nothing since there are no long term prophecies to be affected, they never seem to factor in to adventures or other campaign materials (and I'm not sure how prophecy would even work in a world where divination magic is available). Because there is no game effect to his death he has become entirely inconsequential to my players and myself.

It's a shame. I sure like the concept of a god's death.


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Gorbacz wrote:
Meanwhile, DC still refuses to tell the one and only official origin story of Joker.

and bully for them.


You have to wonder how many Arodenites have petitioned Qi Zhong, who has already resurrected at least one deity, for aid.


I would wonder how many arodenites knew about that


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Steelfiredragon wrote:
I would wonder how many arodenites knew about that

it's still a good plot hook for a campaign.

off to Golarion's Hong Kong!


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Erik Mona wrote:
bitter lily wrote:


If your decision to keep your personal "working theory" isn't happy-making for some of your fans, why do it? Why not let us know in a blog -- nothing "official" -- what your personal theory is? If we as GMs want to tell a different story, you're still freeing us to do so. End of mystery in the sense of withholding information, on-going mystery in the sense of what we make of it.

Why not?

Because I don't have a personal theory.

I do not know how Aroden died, or why, or who did it, or in which room it happened. I don't find those things to be the interesting parts about him. In fact, it's kind of the one aspect of the character that I don't find particularly interesting.

The interesting thing to me is more in the "what now" aspect of what happens to the campaign world when "God" dies. What happens to institutions, to culture, etc. Add to that the idea that this also casts prophecy in doubt, and you've got a bunch of inherent questions that are more interesting to me than "who did it."

I never really considered "who did it" when I created Aroden. I left that to be determined later, to be woven into other stories by other authors, very likely stories that hadn't been considered yet, left for future development if we decided to develop it at all.

The "working theory" is more something James and others have pieced together in the time since Aroden's creation, tying in the few clues that I left with other cool stuff that they're planning to have a "maybe this is how it went down," but as I mentioned earlier, even that's flexible until we actually decide to address the issue. If we do.

I could outline an entire Aroden-focused Adventure Path with all kinds of insight into his life, his cult, and the ruins of his influence, but to be perfectly honest I'm not certain even that would answer the question of how he died.

I like that the people of Golarion don't know. So long as there's no "official" answer, the answer is free to be whatever you want it to be.

Huh.

Okay, I have to admit; this has changed my outlook on the Aroden Mystery situation. I had always viewed his death as a known variable, a fixed point in time and space, which radiated outwards to affect the rest of Golarion. My point of contention was with having been made aware that Aroden had definitively died, and that Paizo both a) knew how it happened, and b) were never going to reveal it.

Now I realize that the mystery of Aroden's death isn't about how he died; the mystery is about how Golarion is reacting to his death.

Very cool.

I retract my earlier statement of disinterest. In fact, now I think that the best ending for Pathfinder would be an AP about the return of prophesy; it could be kind of like Golarion finally getting over the loss of Aroden.

Thank you for this post, oh wise and benevolent dictator of my gaming budget!


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Personally, here's my head canon as to Aroden's death and the end of prophecy went through.

-----------

Aroden, the Last Azlanti, meets with Pharasma in secret as the time of the Age of Glory is soon upon Golarion.

"What is your purpose in calling me Aroden?" Pharasma asks in her neutral voice.

"I have come to know of what is to come, in order to replace the soon to be fulfilled Starfall Doctrine." Aroden replies with a bow to the goddess of prophecy.

"Very well." Pharasma says as she holds up her hands and a sphere of light appears above them. She then slowly lower her hands and watch the glowing ball of light.

"You shall lead the kingdoms of man from your throne on the kingdom of Cheliax. You shall finally save Sakoris of demonic influence before the demons open a portal to the Abyss. Light shall fall down on Nidal, it's shadows of fear will cease. Peace, progress, and hope continues on the world of Golarion for ten thousand years."

Aroden smiles at the prophecy for it shall be what he dreams of the world to become.

"But," And this word wakes him from the image, "Once the Age of Glory reaches its end, the last of Dou-Bral's towers shall fall. Rovagug is then freed from the gaping hole and Golarion will end. The gods shall do battle with the beast once more, but this time, they will fail. Soon Rovagug shall herald the beginning of the end as he kills off mortals and worlds. In a thousand years during the Age of Twilight, the last soul will be judged and Groteus will fall down on the Boneyard, and end the universe forever more."

Aroden stands in front of the goddess in shock, with his skin as pale as moonlight.

"Is there," He mutters in hope, "Is there a way to prevent it?"

"There is no way to prevent it." Pharasma replies in the same neutral voice, "It is now prophesied and so it shall be. For prophecy is never wrong."

"Unless," Aroden says in conviction as he looks at the goddess, "Unless prophecy is made wrong."

"That is true, but no one would try to defy their fate and destiny."

"Then judge me." He asks as he tries to fight the sorrow of the future.

"I only judge the dead." She says her usual tone.

"Then make me dead! Cut off my divinity and judge me!"

"Why would you do such a thing? Do you sacrifice your own divinity for simply making the prophecy not come to pass?"

"Yes! If it means Rovagug not escaping his prison, if it means the Age of Twilight not happen, if it means the end of the universe not come to pass, then yes! What is the good of divinity if it means not saving those who ask for your aid?"

"Be warned, should you go through with this reckless act, for once prophecy is made wrong, no one will know what will happen in the future."

"But that means none of that prophecy will come to pass. Am I right?"

"No one knows, for once prophecy is made false, no one will be under fate, and they will take destiny under their own hands."

"Then so be it. If it means giving at least a chance of hope in the future, I, Aroden, the Last Azlanti, shall sacrifice myself and my divinity to you, O Pharasma, to be judged under your eyes."

"Very well, but know this, should you be revived back to godhood in any way, then this act shall be in vain, and prophecy shall ring true once again." Pharasma then summon her scythe and slash the god in front of her.

The screams of Aroden echoes through the world of Golarion as a series of storms and disasters as weaves of fate and destiny tear apart. A hero of Aroden, whose name should have been remembered for defeating the demonic cult that would have open the Worldwound, instead dies when a storm knock over a gargoyle on him. The collections of prophecies that should have happened instead bound themselves together and appear in the world as the Book of 1000 Whispers. And when Aroden's screams ended, the Echo of Lost Divinity stands in servitude to the lady.

And so, on the awaited day of 4606 since Absalom Reckoning, there is silence and lost omens.

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Yama951 wrote:

Personally, here's my head canon as to Aroden's death and the end of prophecy went through.

----------

Insert well written explanation.

Funny, I come to simular situation in my head cannon, however, it is the gods around Aroden who figure it out, and who attempt to convince Aroden to turn his back on the prophecy.

Only Aroden is too in love with his perfect plan to do so. So the heroes are his assassins. Iomedae struck the blow and Milani planned it, and then took Iomedae's atonement and granted the forgiveness, so that Iomedae, could remain the heroic goddess that she is.

People would need her example in the days to come.

The very act of what she did, her revolt, made Milani the goddess she is today. The fact that she pulled it off is was protects her, for even Zon Kuthon and Asmodeus take pause before they take on this minor goddess. The world needs her example as well.

And this bond forged in blood is why they are sisters.


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I just hope the mystery around Aroden's death doesn't join the lot of Planescape's Lady of Pain, Eberron's Day of Morning, Ravenloft's Dark Powers or the Gentleman Caller's big plan. Those settings are pretty much dead. Their lore is now static. Those secrets lost.

Granted, some of those mysteries never did have an "answer" in the same way Aroden's death has an "answer" to protect consistency in the setting. But if anything happens to the publication of the setting, that info will be lost.

It makes me sad.

At the same time, the revelation surrounding Aroden's death, if it ever happens, should be significant and mark an important transition for the setting. Like his death did.

So no pressure.


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I find it interesting not just in itself, but that it implicitly ties into the Eye, the Worldwound,
and the collapse of Tian-Xa's giant empire.

Something big happened, and that's interesting. I don't expect or necessarily want an answer, but I like the event.


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Sundakan wrote:
A mystery without an answer isn't a mystery. It's just a thing that happened.

I'm sorry, but when I read this and saw how so many people liked it, I couldn't stay quiet.

An event without and answer is the exact definition of a mystery. It becomes just a thing that happened when you solve it.


I'm given to understand that the Devs do have a specific explanation for how Aroden died, they just don't intend on ever sharing it.

My opinion on this used to be that if it mattered, then it needs to be revealed at some point because a story without a pay off is often unsatisfactory, and if it doesn't matter, then there's no reason to actually come up with an explanation.

My opinion on it now is that I don't want them to reveal it because no answer they can provide will be satisfying. Reality will always fall short of our imaginations and any reveal to a mystery this big and this long going is going to be a let down.

In the end I don't know what the solution is; whether there was a sweet spot where revealing the truth would have made the answer satisfactory but wouldn't have been too soon. I do know that dragging it out invites some mockery of the concept(I personally like to think it's something absurdly mundane and embarrassing.)

Personally the only time I've ever played a character who's remotely cared about Aroden's death was when I played a LN Cleric of Asmoedus Heirophant in a Wrath of the Righteous game and he "cared" about Aroden's death in the sense that as he began to grow into a quasi-deity he decided his post-crusade plans involved throwing his hat in the ring as one of the claimants for Aroden's domain in Axis.

Aside from that I can't say as though I've ever played a character who's given Aroden any thought.


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I can't sit and read this whole thread to see if someone's made this point yet, but what could be more 'human' than dying? Mankind dies best, quickest and most consistently. What better way to be the god of Man than to die?

It's a feature, not a bug. And it creates the potential for interesting NPCs for sure. What is the motivation for continuing to worship a god who's apparently died, particularly in a world where the power of other gods is so demonstrable?

And thanks to Eric for his post that he himself doesn't know the answer to this. Not knowing the answer to this is one of the salient features of Golarion. In a universe where adventurers can literally go to heaven or hell to seek their answers and return to spread the word, and might even become 'gods' themselves, you have to have some over-arching unsolvable mysteries. Without them there's no room for philosophy in the world and the whole subject matter dries up and becomes less fun.

It's like knowing the meaning of life - I think that would likely take all the fun out of it.


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The death of Aroden was interesting the first time I read about but is completely pointless for me now.

There's very little in the setting to engage players to care about how Aroden died or why. Once it became clear that Paizo wasn't going to go anywhere with it my players lost interest. While it sounds like an important piece of background fluff it doesn't have any real impact on what players do.

While I could "make up" my reasons, if I'm going to do that level of cosmological change then I'll just run homebrew. The reason I play pre-made stuff is so I don't have to do that.

Dark Archive

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DM Luke wrote:
I can't sit and read this whole thread to see if someone's made this point yet, but what could be more 'human' than dying? Mankind dies best, quickest and most consistently. What better way to be the god of Man than to die?

Favorite Loki quote, from a time when he tricked some occultists into believing that he was giving them great power, which they used to do all sorts of terrible things, and then died horribly as the power consumed them from within,

"They killed thousands of people before they died!"

"Yes, but what's important is that they died. That's what you mortals do. Die. You're actually known for it."


Is death even really a thing when you know there's an afterlife? Die, get judged by Pharasma, go to your plane, become an outsider, and go back to the material world as a powerful immortal celestial being. I imagine for most Good people in Golarion death is an upgrade.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
goldomark wrote:
I just hope the mystery around Aroden's death doesn't join the lot of Planescape's Lady of Pain, Eberron's Day of Morning, Ravenloft's Dark Powers or the Gentleman Caller's big plan.

Actually, the developers eventually did tell us what the Gentleman Caller's plan was after the line ended (along with Azalin's interrelated plan and why S was doing her travelogue of the domains).


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Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Delightful wrote:
Is death even really a thing when you know there's an afterlife? Die, get judged by Pharasma, go to your plane, become an outsider, and go back to the material world as a powerful immortal celestial being. I imagine for most Good people in Golarion death is an upgrade.

Considering you don't get to keep your memories, probably not really worth calling it an upgrade...if you even consider the outsider your soul becomes actually 'you'. And some percentage chance that you get absorbed by your plane. Besides, most outsiders don't have the ability to hop back to the material plane even if they did manage to be one of the rare outsiders that keep memories of their mortal life.


Kerney wrote:
Only Aroden is too in love with his perfect plan to do so. So the heroes are his assassins. Iomedae struck the blow and Milani planned it, and then took Iomedae's atonement and granted the forgiveness, so that Iomedae, could remain the heroic goddess that she is.

Well, that would be an explanation as to why Iomedae is less good than her PR department would have you believe, I suppose.

Deadbeat Doom wrote:
Now I realize that the mystery of Aroden's death isn't about how he died; the mystery is about how Golarion is reacting to his death.

Mystery does not seem to be the proper term. It seems like less of a mystery and more of a zeitgeist or metaplot.

FormerFiend wrote:
I'm given to understand that the Devs do have a specific explanation for how Aroden died, they just don't intend on ever sharing it.

That's ultimately irrelevant though.

They could and would just as easily say that if it were the case as if it were not. Either way would require the same amount of secrecy on their part and NDAs to muzzle disgruntled former employees and nosy interns.

DM Luke wrote:
Mankind dies best, quickest and most consistently.

Are you sure you're not thinking of Gobbos?

Set wrote:

Favorite Loki quote, from a time when he tricked some occultists into believing that he was giving them great power, which they used to do all sorts of terrible things, and then died horribly as the power consumed them from within,

"They killed thousands of people before they died!"

"Yes, but what's important is that they died. That's what you mortals do. Die. You're actually known for it."

That's a great example of how things can sound silly when taken out of context, but also how you can include just enough context to make a quote look even weirder than if you had provided no context at all.

I'm left staring at those lines and going "Whaaaa...?"

Delightful wrote:
Is death even really a thing when you know there's an afterlife? Die, get judged by Pharasma, go to your plane, become an outsider, and go back to the material world as a powerful immortal celestial being. I imagine for most Good people in Golarion death is an upgrade.

Death essentially erases your personality and memories. In some ways it's worse than simply being erased from existence, because there's still a sort-of-you-shaped entity in the multiverse, but it definitely isn't you anymore.

Becoming a petitioner is an upgrade for, well, level 1 characters and level 2 non-casters. Unless they're Evil, in which case it's a massive downgrade.

Becoming an outsider is the whole erasure of the self of dying increased by an order of magnitude. And possibly involving cramming the raw essence of multiple souls into one in order to make an outsider out of the gestalt essence that has basically nothing from the entities that gave rise to it.

Scarab Sages

James Jacobs wrote:

The way the whole "Aroden thing" plays out is covered in pretty much EVERY product we publish for Golarion. The whole campaign setting is set in the time it's set to explore the ripple effects of a significant event like the death of a deity like Aroden. The fact that no one knows how it happened and the fact that it happened at all made the Inner Sea region of Golarion what it is today, and made all the locations and people and nations behave the way they do, and thus sets up every single adventure and resource book and novel and so on that's set in the region.

I do understand that some folks are frustrated that we haven't revealed how Aroden died and that we have no plans to ever do so, but the mystery is such a fundamental part of the setting it's not something that would help in revealing it.

So, for clarity, this mystery is something that you don't intend to answer, so it would be within the GM's discretion to establish what happened?

The way it is written in "EVERY product" always implies that the answer exists, and I just don't own the right books with that source material. If there is no intended answer, I do find this style of leading the reader on to be a bit frustraiting.

The Exchange

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Rereading some of the quotes and having to comment, as I'm kinda the opposite of Buri Reborn, as far as the start of the campaign setting goes:

Erik Mona wrote:
The interesting thing to me is more in the "what now" aspect of what happens to the campaign world when "God" dies. What happens to institutions, to culture, etc.
James Jacobs wrote:
The way the whole "Aroden thing" plays out is covered in pretty much EVERY product we publish for Golarion. The whole campaign setting is set in the time it's set to explore the ripple effects of a significant event like the death of a deity like Aroden.

I understand these points from an authorial point of view. Because to write teh setting, the authors had exactly to do that, they had to imagine how this event changed the world. But to me as a player, it actually kinda makes things even worse. Because I want to explore this ripple effects as well, because I want to experience what happens to the world when "God" dies.

But unluckily, campaign play starts 100 years after when things already have settled, when the ripple effects have already stabilized. So in our games (as long as we use official APs) those events aren't the focus, the ripple effects do not play a central role if at all. We don't get to explore how modern Cheliax came to be, we explore what happens after the fact, to use that as an example. And this is by no means a critique of the quality of the APs, it's just that with regard to those APs the death of Aroden is basically the canvas on which you paint your picture. It's obviously important (because no canvas -> no picture) but in practice, it's pretty irrelevant. We do not deal with what happens when "God" dies. We deal with what happens after those things happened.

I'll probably get punished for that, but in this respect, it's very similar to what happened to the Realms during 4E. I would have probably been much more interested, if we actually could have lived (as PCs) through that time. But unluckily, game started 100 years later and while there were some aftereffects as well, your games did basically not deal with the event or it's direct consequences.

Contrary, itt's something I think Eberron handled very well. Not only did you have a big, setting-defining event that basically just happened right before the campaign start (the destruction of Cyre resulting in the end of the war), so that as player you really felt the direct consequences of those events, it also enabled you to play through the Last War itself via the "Forge of War"-sourcebook in case you were more interested in this time.

Again, I love most if not all of the themes Paizo tackles with the APs. But none of them deals with the aftermath of Aroden's death directly, and where they do it's on a pretty abstract level that puts it in the same boat with other "unnecessary stuff the GM builds but the players will never hear nor care about".

I'll end admitting that this is partly a problem that has no solution. Because as long as you write a setting that has any kind of interesting backstory, there will probably be people that would rather explore the backstory than the actual setting.

Dark Archive

WormysQueue wrote:
Again, I love most if not all of the themes Paizo tackles with the APs. But none of them deals with the aftermath of Aroden's death directly, and where they do it's on a pretty abstract level that puts it in the same boat with other "unnecessary stuff the GM builds but the players will never hear nor care about".

Oh, I'd love all to death some backwater Chelaxian community where the locals have no idea that Aroden is dead (or are convinced that he was only wounded, and has come to them, his only 'truly faithful' worshippers, to rest and recover from some divine betrayal), and are keeping the faith alive thanks to (unknown to them, obviously) the support of someone more sinister or tricky, like Geryon, Archdevil of Heresy, who is empowering a 'cleric of Aroden' who is leading the community astray (and genuinely believes that he is worshipping Aroden, and that everybody else 'got it wrong' and that the ancient book he found detailing previously unknown tenets of Aroden, like human supremacy and other nasty evil-friendly concepts, contains the truth that was suppressed). Over a generation or two, anyone who knew better, or spoke out too openly about this 'new direction,' or who traveled widely and brought back information about how 'everybody knows that Aroden is dead,' would wake up dead, thanks to Geryon providing an imp to invisibly poison (preferably in their sleep) anyone who rocks the boat (again, completely unknown to the cleric of Geryon, who thinks he's a cleric of Aroden...).

Heck, even finding out that your local Pathfinder lodge used to be a church of Aroden, and that it's got a few haunts in specific areas made up of the frustration, anger and loss of former priests and parishoners, who died as a result of the death of their god (father brought sick children to church for curing, didn't get it, cleric dies in ensuing brou-ha-ha), could be one way of making the death of Aroden relevant to a particular group, many years later. Those rooms had just been sealed off, but now something within those rooms (or on the other side of them) is needed, and those haunts have to be dealt with...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Set wrote:
Heck, even finding out that your local Pathfinder lodge used to be a church of Aroden, and that it's got a few haunts in specific areas made up of the frustration, anger and loss of former priests and parishoners, who died as a result of the death of their god (father brought sick children to church for curing, didn't get it, cleric dies in ensuing brou-ha-ha), could be one way of making the death of Aroden relevant to a particular group, many years later. Those rooms had just been sealed off,...

that was one of the coolest parts of Hell's Rebels.

argh stupid forum. i wrote all this other stuff and it got erased!

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