Least Favorite Gods


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Rysky wrote:
Patrick C. wrote:
Because a Strong Female Character does not refer to a female character who is strong, physically or otherwise. It refers to a stereotype, or a trope, of a female character who is written to be "strong" but in the end falls flat as a character. Hence the capital letters. There are quite a few articles written on the subject available on the internet, mostly by feminist people working in the entertainment industry. Do look them up.
Wat.

There's a fine line between a character defined by strength but also having flaws and complexity, and writing a patronizing, one-dimensional, overcompensating caricature--the difference between a person who overcomes problems through strength and determination but also deals with the consequences, and an entity that plows through obstacles without facing significant consequences.

Iomedae is especially tough to wrap around that trope because she was a person (where it's more applicable) and is now a deity (where it's tougher to apply standards we put on mortal characters). Her backstory as a mortal is a little less rigid than her depiction as a goddess, but it takes a lot of digging into canon get to mortal Iomedae, there isn't much of her that's reliably fleshed out, and a lot of it isn't particularly useful for running the setting, her followers, or Iomedae as a deity.

Especially in contrast to other ascended deitiess, Iomedae has a simple, less engaging personality. She's about one thing, and believers are either on board or not considered true believers--by design, there's very little about her that's open to interpretation. That makes her sensibly similar to her mentor Aroden, who was also nigh-infallible and all but unstoppable in pursuit of a goal, yet somewhat devoid of personality when compared to his older and more colorful peers. Where Aroden's goal was the broad advancement of humanity, however, Iomedae's is simply honorable justice, which makes her less useful as a storytelling tool and less engaging as a character.

Some of this is due to her being stuck in Lawful Good, which leads to the same rigid moral simplicity that can make Torag and Erastil less appealing then they might be if they had some dogmatic flexibility. Comparisons to other gods also hurt. Shizuru and Tsukiyo are great examples of LG deities whose backstories reinforce their LG alignment, but also make them relatable and distinct. Wadjet has a chunk of weird Egyptian mythology and unusual form to provide color. Zohls's entire domain is practically the act of interpretation itself.

Iomedae gets none of these benefits--she has a strict focus on a specific sort of behavior, full stop. Even the loss of Aroden and her resulting less-than-cordial relationship with Pharasma doesn't provide much in the way of engaging conflict.

I think Iomedae ultimately dodges the worst of the "strong female" trope because she hasn't needed saving regardless of her strength--even when she's been desperate for aid, she gets it on her terms. The fact that she is so rigid and narrowly focused also prevents her from being completely defined by Aroden, but the degree to which she is defined by Aroden--as well as how much Aroden was influenced by her--also support the trope. Her flaws as a deity aren't as explicitly pointed out as others', but we can derive them from how taxing and corruptible the Worldwound crusaders are. The seeming inevitability of her mortal rise is as easily attributable to mythologization as the Joan of Arc template she's cut from--there are almost certainly wrinkles to which we're not privy, and are left to the GM to add (or not) as they want.

Still, I can see why her bland Arodenite personality and LG traits could drop her down the list. Zeal for Iomedae is inherently one-dimensional--which isn't necessarily a bad trait for a fictional deity, religion, or followers, but it's not an engaging one, either.


Delightful wrote:
Don't wanna rain on your parade, but a lot of Aroden's more "problematic" aspects from Humans of Golarion have gone the way of Erastil's sexism. In his most recent writeup in part four of the Hell's Rebels AP all the dominating other races and less civilized humans stuff is gone and James Jacobs himself has said that Aroden's main goal was making humans as awesome/advanced as they could be.

If all of his more negative attributes were written out of the story, why is he still LN?


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More succinctly, Ripley from Alien is a strong female character. Lara Croft is a Strong Female Character.

The former is an actual character with motivations and flaws and strengths and resolve and all the things that make a character interesting.

The latter is a character in only a loose sense (before, I hear, the new reboot. i haven't played it). She is a self insert character, which in itself is fine (most video game characters are) but she is also touted as being a Strong Female Character simply because she is confident and badass, which makes her strong, but not a STRONG CHARACTER.

Shadow Lodge

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Patrick C. wrote:
Because a Strong Female Character does not refer to a female character who is strong, physically or otherwise. It refers to a stereotype, or a trope, of a female character who is written to be "strong" but in the end falls flat as a character. Hence the capital letters. There are quite a few articles written on the subject available on the internet, mostly by feminist people working in the entertainment industry. Do look them up.

While I agree with your general point, it is worth noting that it is strongly suggested in Chronicles of the Righteous that Iomedae failed the Test of the Star Stone and only survived because the Empyreal Lords as a whole needed a Good Aligned warrior on their side to fill the void.

If that where much more common knowledge, (and Iomedae never Mary Sue fixed it) in setting, that would actually go a long way in helping in her case.


Patrick C. wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:
Patrick C. wrote:

I wouldn't say I hate such and such, but there are some deities I have a few issues with.

To start, Iomedae. She can be a bit likeable, but upon closer reading, there's something in her that screams "Strong Female Character", and that's just off-putting.
{. . .}

Why is that off-putting?

Because a Strong Female Character does not refer to a female character who is strong, physically or otherwise. It refers to a stereotype, or a trope, of a female character who is written to be "strong" but in the end falls flat as a character. Hence the capital letters. There are quite a few articles written on the subject available on the internet, mostly by feminist people working in the entertainment industry. Do look them up.

Have you've only read her writeup from Council of Thieves? That article starts off sounding as if Iomedae grow up in a patriarchal culture (which as far as I know most parts of Golarion doesn't have) and thus has to repeatedly state that she's worthy of her martial role and not someone to be looked down upon by men. Inner Sea Races doesn't have the feel at all, so maybe you'd like it, and Iomedae, more.


swoosh wrote:
Delightful wrote:
Don't wanna rain on your parade, but a lot of Aroden's more "problematic" aspects from Humans of Golarion have gone the way of Erastil's sexism. In his most recent writeup in part four of the Hell's Rebels AP all the dominating other races and less civilized humans stuff is gone and James Jacobs himself has said that Aroden's main goal was making humans as awesome/advanced as they could be.
If all of his more negative attributes were written out of the story, why is he still LN?

James Jacobs also mentioned that while Aroden didn't to genocide, enslave or directly marginalize non-humans he still wanted mankind to be best race around and surpass everyone else. Essentially if Aroden had his way humans would be like Mary Sue Tolkien elves and all the other races in Golarion would look inferior by comparison.

So, he was still kind of a racist jerk but not utterly evil.


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Well yeah, but the racist elven supremacist and racist dwarven supremacist gods are both Good.

It seems weird to say Aroden can't be Good because he only cares about humans when Findeladlara exists.


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swoosh wrote:

Well yeah, but the racist elven supremacist and racist dwarven supremacist gods are both Good.

It seems weird to say Aroden can't be Good because he only cares about humans when Findeladlara exists.

Agreed. Findeladlara really should be N or LN.


Gorbacz wrote:
Azten wrote:
Wally the Wizard wrote:
A holy war where both sides worship the same god. one believes magic makes you better than everyone else, the other believes that having magic means you have a duty to serve others.
I know I'm late to the thread, but Magi: Kingdom of Magic pretty much had this as an internal schism for the Mage King.
Ah, you're an anime fan. That explains a lot!

And that matters because...?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Azten wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Azten wrote:
Wally the Wizard wrote:
A holy war where both sides worship the same god. one believes magic makes you better than everyone else, the other believes that having magic means you have a duty to serve others.
I know I'm late to the thread, but Magi: Kingdom of Magic pretty much had this as an internal schism for the Mage King.
Ah, you're an anime fan. That explains a lot!
And that matters because...?

Well, I think I'll keep this one as a unsolvable mystery. Kind of like Aroden's death :)


Garrett Guillotte wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Patrick C. wrote:
Because a Strong Female Character does not refer to a female character who is strong, physically or otherwise. It refers to a stereotype, or a trope, of a female character who is written to be "strong" but in the end falls flat as a character. Hence the capital letters. There are quite a few articles written on the subject available on the internet, mostly by feminist people working in the entertainment industry. Do look them up.
Wat.

There's a fine line between a character defined by strength but also having flaws and complexity, and writing a patronizing, one-dimensional, overcompensating caricature--the difference between a person who overcomes problems through strength and determination but also deals with the consequences, and an entity that plows through obstacles without facing significant consequences.

Iomedae is especially tough to wrap around that trope because she was a person (where it's more applicable) and is now a deity (where it's tougher to apply standards we put on mortal characters). {. . .}

I see flaws, as in a champion of justice that is starting to crack under pressure . . . and potential for a future Fall of the Righteous AP, that would make her personality a lot more accessible. Like I said, I like to make a good story out of these things (even if they occurred due to developer mistakes) when possible.


Ah, a subtle insult then because of my opinion. Not very mysterious at all.


Blame it on me being a Desna fan but I do not like Lamashtu. I feel like the entire mother thing is just weird imo, and it doesn't feel like it fits CE, despite how she kinda abuses it.

That is my only hated god.

Dark Archive

Gods I dislike from other settings;

Greyhawk - Pholtus (super authoritarian and strict, yuck), Wastri ('the hopping prohet' god of amphibians and human supremacy? I can't even.), Incabulos (disease gods not named Urgathoa or Talona do nothing for me)

Realms - Kelemvore (Myrkul was more useful from a storytelling aspect, and the setting already had some neutral death-gods, such as Jergal and Urogolan, so Kel added nothing new), Mystra (any of the three. It was possible to play an elf who'd lived long enough to outlive two or three different all-powerful gods of magic. Ugh.), Cyric (so terrible, that the god he replaced came back to life and replaced him. He's like the Spider-Man clone saga of the Realms.), Ao (I've got no use for 'overgods' that are arbitrarily all-powerful *but don't do anything*), Beshaba (as much as I love Tymora, I don't much care for a 'god of bad luck').

Scarred Lands - most of the demigods. I liked the notion of the setting having very few gods, compared to the many dozens in the previous Greyhawk and Realms settings, so the addition of gods of halflings and gods of dwarves and whatever that seemed liked spun-off aspects of the big nine felt like it was watering things down and making a thin soup out of what was a rich meal. That said, Drendari and Nemorga were exceptions, since, A) they were fist, and B) I liked them. :) Of the 'big nine,' Belsameth (goddess of the night, madness, death and magic) sometimes felt a little scatter-shot, and didn't feel, to me, like she tied together her portfolio as well as the others. She felt a bit like she was 'goddess of everything we have left, and haven't given to one of the others.'


Rysky wrote:
Patrick C. wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:
Patrick C. wrote:

I wouldn't say I hate such and such, but there are some deities I have a few issues with.

To start, Iomedae. She can be a bit likeable, but upon closer reading, there's something in her that screams "Strong Female Character", and that's just off-putting.
{. . .}

Why is that off-putting?

Because a Strong Female Character does not refer to a female character who is strong, physically or otherwise. It refers to a stereotype, or a trope, of a female character who is written to be "strong" but in the end falls flat as a character. Hence the capital letters. There are quite a few articles written on the subject available on the internet, mostly by feminist people working in the entertainment industry. Do look them up.
Wat.

Here's a helpful illustration.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Set wrote:
(so terrible, that the god he replaced came back to life and replaced him. He's like the Spider-Man clone saga of the Realms.)

I've never understood this, though I've heard it before. Cyric always struck me as a great character, simply because he got stuff done! Bane, by contrast, always came across as a Saturday-morning cartoon-style villain, all bluster and no ability to actually accomplish anything.

Insofar as I'm aware, Bane did exactly three things of note: 1) teleporting a bunch of cities underground (e.g. the whole "Pool of Radiance" saga), which seems kind of random, and had no real impact on anything, 2) accidentally causing the Time of Troubles, and 3) killing Torm and dying in the process, and Torm came back immediately.

Cyric, by contrast, was killing gods left and right from the get-go. He killed Bhaal (ushering in the Baldur's Gate games), even if it was because he was using an avatar of Mask at the time. He bumped off Leira (admittedly off-screen), he very nearly brought about war among the gods due to his Cyrinishad, and ended up destroying Zhentil Keep (albeit on accident). Oh, and he did what Bane never could, and killed Mystra.

To me, it was clear which was the more dynamic deity.


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UnArcaneElection wrote:
Garrett Guillotte wrote:


Iomedae is especially tough to wrap around that trope because she was a person (where it's more applicable) and is now a deity (where it's tougher to apply standards we put on mortal characters). {. . .}

I see flaws, as in a champion of justice that is starting to crack under pressure . . . and potential for a future Fall of the Righteous AP, that would make her personality a lot more accessible. Like I said, I like to make a good story out of these things (even if they occurred due to developer mistakes) when possible.

I alluded to some of that while trying to avoid too many WotR or HV spoilers ("even when she's been desperate for aid, she gets it on her terms"), but that thread/encounter in particular is... fraught. (Copy and paste Robert Brookes's comment here.)

James's statements of intent, Wolfgang's original less aggro version of that encounter, and the GM and PC freedom inherent in running AP encounters (as opposed to more static setting material) all make her actions in that encounter look more like the result of flawed story design and development than intentional complexity. Nor do James's post-mortem statements do anything to steer her away from her design being one-dimensional.

As you note, it's all a bit of accidental characterization, underwritten to a point where personal biases about Iomedae as a character fill in personality details that potentially conflict with what the author and developer thought were more obvious (Lawful Good, honor, and justice aren't inherently kind, harmless, or patient). However handy that mistake might be, it's hard to dish out credit for something tucked deep enough in one AP that many GM's won't know it exists and most characters won't reach the encounter, and with enough conditions that many characters who do play that encounter still won't see it—an edge case that accidentally made her slightly more complex, and might well get retconned out considering the reaction.

In other words, it was her Darth Vader "choke on your own ambition" dad joke moment: an out-of-character aberration that implies she has a trait that nobody intended for her to ever have, probably wouldn't even exist if one editorial pass during development went slightly differently, and which many people who use the character will either ignore or never see. Iomedae is as likely to go around having tantrums at mortals as Darth Vader will have more corny dad jokes added to a new Special Edition trilogy.


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Pharasma is really annoying and also really boring.


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Garrett Guillotte wrote:

{. . .}

In other words, it was her Darth Vader "choke on your own ambition" dad joke moment: an out-of-character aberration that implies she has a trait that nobody intended for her to ever have, probably wouldn't even exist if one editorial pass during development went slightly differently, and which many people who use the character will either ignore or never see. Iomedae is as likely to go around having tantrums at mortals as Darth Vader will have more corny dad jokes added to a new Special Edition trilogy.

You know, considering past history, I wouldn't count on that not to happen . . . .

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