RP Question: Evil Character / Good God


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


I am new to Pathfinder but a group of my friends is wanting to start playing in it and Im excited about it. I love the book line and the lore of the world. I have a lot of experience with other systems (Longshot, but if anyone remembers Parthos from AOL hit me up I'd love to chat about the old days).

I had just written this thread out and it got lost when I tried to post it, so forgive me if I jump over something when trying to re-create it.

Let me start off by saying that I (and my normal DM) take a slightly nuanced and non-canonical view of alignment than is found in most RPG rulebooks. To me alignment is a persons innate nature and is not something that is easily changeable (if it is even possible to be changed at all). A Good person doesnt become Evil just because they make some bad choices, and conversely an Evil or selfish person doesnt become Good even if they have a lifetime of good deeds.

That being said here is the concept of the character I have been thinking about. It is an evil person who wishes to "buy" their way into a better afterlife.

He is Neutral Evil, selfish and only out for his own gain. He doesnt care who gets hurt in the process, but doesnt take any particulate joy in destruction or causing harm for its own sake. However he has a sense of enlightened self interest and takes a long view of what personal gain means. Additionally he has extensive knowledge of the Gods and knows that souls are sent to the Boneyard and sorted according to their nature and whatever Gods may have a claim to their soul before being sent to the plane of their afterlife.

Because he knows his own nature he knows where he is likely to end up after his eventual demise. He has no desire to end up in Abaddon where, at best, his soul will be hunted down and used as the foodstuff of Daemons only to lead to the eventual destruction of the soul and possibly far worse - all without any hope of redemption, liberation, or reward for worship or service.

In an effort to avoid this he will actively seek out a Good aligned God to worship and become a divine conduit for, in the hopes that this will earn him a better ultimate end. Obviously not all Gods would accept such an acolyte, but I have to think that there are at least some who are flexible enough to see the potential good this person could do by acting against their own nature and accept him.

So my questions are:
1) Which Good aligned Gods would be most likely to accept this type of Cleric? For purpose of this question lets ignore the RAW that a character must be within 1 step of his Gods alignment.

2) How would this effect spells and spell like abilities that deal with alignment?
For instance the Cleric Aura ability, would this reflect the characters alignment or his Gods?
Which spells would he have access to - those that match his alignment or his Gods?
Which version of Channel Energy would he use?

3) What Archtype would best suit this character? I am leaning toward Evangelist as I feel it fits the feel I am going for thematically. I had considered Seperationist, but I kind of think this person wouldn't gamble on anything less than apparent full devotion, he wouldnt want even the hint of heresy to ruin his chances of a better afterlife.

4) Is there anything else I am missing or that I havent considered?

5) What do you think the eventual outcome of this would be? This wouldn't have an effect on that character himself, because he cant know the answer until he dies - but I still find it an interesting question.
Perhaps the God would accept him as a follower but would not intervene on his behalf at death, allowing him to go to Abaddon anyways. Or perhaps the God does intervene but Pharasma decides that his sould belongs in Abaddon anyways. Or perhaps the characters gamble does pay off and he goes to a Good aligned afterlife but how does this "tainted" soul interact there?

Liberty's Edge

1) for good deities, that's a bit hard. Saranrae is god redemption and might grant powers to someone evil hoping they'll eventually start to see the light. A lawful deity might also be ok with the literal interpretation of good.

2) If it targets your alignment, in this hypothetical, you are still evil and affected by holy word, protection from evil, etc.
The aura is explicitly your deities alignment and not yours.
Spells are granted from your deity, so I would assume you could cast Good spells but not Evil ones.
Positive channel certainly.

3) I don't know of a particular cleric archetype, but there are likely inquisitor ones that match this kind of thing.

5) If a god found you worthy of granting powers, they'd probably see that you got what you were looking for - though it depends A LOT on the god. For example, if you never stopped being selfish over your whole life, even Saranrae might sadly leave you to your fate.

4) Have you considered Asmodeus? Asmodeus is just the kind of god to give an evil person serving him a decent deal - see asmodean advocate, etc. He wouldn't care that you're neutral evil (or anything else really).


None, I would say. Unless some plague has wiped all non-evil people from Golarion. I can't see why they'd grant him powers. If they did, there should be some particular circumstance and he should be actively trying to change which would mean that I'd expect a drastic change in the PC's behaviour / mentality very soon or else...

If he's interested in not being a lemming in Hell why not a neutral god? Plenty of those and they'd be happy to have him.

Afterlife wise I think he'd pick. The god he served vs. his alignment. But I can't see a good god being interested in him for more than a few days.

Edit: Here's the thing you mention "a hint of heresy" It seems like he thinks the god would be interested in what he does not who he is. I see a good natured cleric who messed up much more likely being granted powers and going to heaven than this guy that seems like he's just going through the motions for his own selfish purposes. Personally, RAW aside, I'd just tell the player the good gods are just not interested unless he's actively and honestly trying to change ways and mentality.


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This will not work because in order to be a cleric you need to be within one step of your deity’s alignment. A neutral evil character can be a cleric of ay evil or true neutral deity. They cannot be a cleric of a good deity. They can be a worshiper of a good deity but not a cleric. I would say that any good deity is going to see through your attempts to bluff them about your true nature. A neutral deity would probably work

If you GM is ok with this then at this point you need to see him because you are firmly in the domain of house rules so no one but your GM can answer your questions.


I'd agree that for this kind of character, Sarenrae would probably be the only good deity who would really give your character a chance in the hope that his feigned good behavior becomes a foundation for real good behavior. "Fake it 'til you make it," essentially.

You might also consider having your character actually change and grow as the campaign goes on. It could be really cool.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Shelyn. Look at how she has never given up on her brother, even when he's become one of the darkest, nastiest deities in Golarion.


I'll look into both Sarenrae and Shelyn. I have the Inner Sea World Guide ordered through my local game store and I understand it includes a good bit about the major Gods. What I know of the Boneyard comes entirely through the "Deaths Heretic" books by James Sutter, and I just assume that the big picture from it matches the lore from the rulebooks.

@Blashimov - I hadn't considered that no. We tend to run "non-evil" campaigns only so an Evil cleric of and Evil God wouldn't really work.

This idea started as an effort to find an interesting RP way around that, by having an Evil cleric of a Good God who is being good but still for selfish reasons. I understand that this may work better as an idea than in practice, and might work even better as an important campaign related NPC than as a PC.

And thank you all for you input and advice :)


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Devils Advocate wrote:
Let me start off by saying that I (and my normal DM) take a slightly nuanced and non-canonical view of alignment than is found in most RPG rulebooks. To me alignment is a persons innate nature and is not something that is easily changeable (if it is even possible to be changed at all). A Good person doesnt become Evil just because they make some bad choices, and conversely an Evil or selfish person doesnt become Good even if they have a lifetime of good deeds.

You do realize that that view is absolutely at odds with every major theologian and ethicist (with the possible exception of John Calvin) since the beginning of written records?

Quote:


He is Neutral Evil, selfish and only out for his own gain. He doesnt care who gets hurt in the process, but doesnt take any particulate joy in destruction or causing harm for its own sake. However he has a sense of enlightened self interest and takes a long view of what personal gain means.

In an effort to avoid this he will actively seek out a Good aligned God to worship and become a divine conduit for, in the hopes that this will earn him a better ultimate end.

Okay, salvation-by-works. That's a view that no one actually holds, although Protestants have often accused other people, particularly, the Catholic church, of holding that view. But I could easily see your character believing it, in the same sense that I could see him believing any other false-and-heretical belief.

That said, neither gods nor their mortal representatives are omniscient, so it's easily possible that he could fake "goodness" well enough to fool Father O'Hara at the local seminary, and maybe even the Bishop who actually does the ordination. And as long as he's using the spells and divine blessings for purposes that match with his god's, the god will probably continue to grant them, either not knowing or not caring what's in his innermost heart-of-hearts.

I could also see deities with a more realistic understanding of human[oid] nature being familiar with "Becoming the Mask," and reasoning that a lifetime of practice at faking being good is likely to result in the character actually becoming good, and being willing to take a gamble. Any of the redemption-oriented deities might like that particular wager -- Shelyn in particular is into redeeming the unredeemable.

As to the ultimate fate of the soul,.... well, that's strictly in the purview of the GM, but self-deception is often the key to evil. There are a number of Biblical passages about God not recognizing piety without grace.....


I feel like a character having a pretty detailed idea of the nature of good and evil is fine. Having that idea be the 100% correct one is weird and unnatural. Try to maintain a distinction between "what my character thinks is the case" and "the things he has no basis for actually knowing." After all, the reason Pharasma is super, super mysterious is to allow the fiction to go without commenting on the nature of free will vs. determinism.

So "My character is a selfish jerk because they believe that they are innately evil and this gives them license to just do what they believe is natural for them to do" is one thing but "my character is a selfish jerk because they are innately evil" are different kettles of fish entirely.

I feel that the story of "My character was evil because they took the easy, self-serving path but eventually achieved a state of wokeness and set out to work to be a better person" is a perfectly fine story to tell, and is one where writing any particular alignment on your character sheet is likely to get in the way of the story.

One way to do this mechanically, however, is to be a Zealot Vigilante. Specifically this would allow you to be NE in your social identity, and TN in their vigilante identity so they could technically worship and receive spells from an NG deity (you just can't cast them as long as your social identity is NE.) Tell the story of a guy who is a jerk, develops a bad reputation, decides to give a damn about his bad reputation, finds religion, and puts on a mask to get away from their bad reputation. Eventually you can become a better person and your alignment can change.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Devils Advocate wrote:
Let me start off by saying that I (and my normal DM) take a slightly nuanced and non-canonical view of alignment than is found in most RPG rulebooks. To me alignment is a persons innate nature and is not something that is easily changeable (if it is even possible to be changed at all). A Good person doesnt become Evil just because they make some bad choices, and conversely an Evil or selfish person doesnt become Good even if they have a lifetime of good deeds.
You do realize that that view is absolutely at odds with every major theologian and ethicist (with the possible exception of John Calvin) since the beginning of written records?

I didn't realize that no, but it doesnt bother me much to be on the wrong side of theologians. Im a Texan of Irish descent, we only get philosophical when we drink otherwise we tend to look at things practically. And in my experience people are who they are, and while yes it is possible for people to change - that is very much the exception rather than the rule. As an example if you are a liar and a cheat, you can try not to do those things but even if you are successful it will be because you *choose* not to do them - which means taking the liar/cheat option was probably your first instinct anyways - so have you really changed your nature or are you only changing your actions?

Quote:
Okay, salvation-by-works. That's a view that no one actually holds, although Protestants have often accused other people, particularly, the Catholic church, of holding that view. But I could easily see your character believing it, in the same sense that I could see him believing any other false-and-heretical belief.

Which is perfectly fine by me. He doesnt need to be right (especially about things that from his point of view he couldn't know the answers to), the motivation just needs to make sense in character.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
I feel like a character having a pretty detailed idea of the nature of good and evil is fine. Having that idea be the 100% correct one is weird and unnatural. Try to maintain a distinction between "what my character thinks is the case" and "the things he has no basis for actually knowing." After all, the reason Pharasma is super, super mysterious is to allow the fiction to go without commenting on the nature of free will vs. determinism.

That is a fair point. Though I think some of this becomes a bit more fluid in these types of settings. In the real world I can make a guess as to my nature (or alignment) but I can't really know it. I think I'm basically a good person but I dont have a problem breaking laws I don't agree with (to make this even more stereotypical I am a criminal defense lawyer), so I would guess that I'm NG or CG but that doesnt mean I'm right. But characters in these types of games have access to all kinds of divination and spells and effects which could tell you definitively what your nature (alignment) is. Maybe he couldn't be 100% certain about the nature of the afterlife, but there has to be enough literature out there written by people who have actually traveled to those planes, so that he can have a pretty decent idea (obviously I would be putting a bunch of ranks into Knowledge Religion to justify this). But I do take your point and it is a good one.

Quote:
One way to do this mechanically, however, is to be a Zealot Vigilante. Specifically this would allow you to be NE in your social identity, and TN in their vigilante identity so they could technically worship and receive spells from an NG deity (you just can't cast them as long as your social identity is NE.) Tell the story of a guy who is a jerk, develops a bad reputation, decides to give a damn about his bad reputation, finds religion, and puts on a mask to get away from their bad reputation. Eventually you can become a better person and your alignment can change.

Not an option that I've run across, I'll look into it thank you.


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Devils Advocate wrote:
As an example if you are a liar and a cheat, you can try not to do those things but even if you are successful it will be because you *choose* not to do them - which means taking the liar/cheat option was probably your first instinct anyways - so have you really changed your nature or are you only changing your actions?

Yes, you've changed your nature. Just as you learned to cheat, you can learn not to cheat. Repeated choices become a habit, not a choice. Repeated habits become character.

That's one of the things that behavioral psychologists have been studying for a long time.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Andoletta 'Grandmother Crow' is a Greater Empyreal that is big on redemption, as well.


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I don't think, flavor-wise, that Desna would be that bad. Her ways are alien. Maybe the cleric thinks he's out for himself, but maybe he's serving Desna all along.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Create Mr. Pitt wrote:
I don't think, flavor-wise, that Desna would be that bad. Her ways are alien. Maybe the cleric thinks he's out for himself, but maybe he's serving Desna all along.

I had a character in a home campaign that ended up doing exactly that, though she wasn't aware of it, at first.


This really gets at the question of why gods grant anyone spells, which AFAIK, isn't really addressed too explicitly anywhere.

RAW to count as a worshiper of a god for mechanical purposes you have to be within 1 step to the god's alignment (non-mechanical worship is "veneration"). So no, a NE character can't be a spell casting cleric in good standing of a NG god.

What isn't part of the rules is whether that restriction is simply a preference of the gods ("I'm not giving spells to him! He's a jerk!") or a metaphysical limit on the gods' power ("I *can't* give spells to him, he's doesn't have the right kind of soul!"). If the former, a god might waive the rule for some good reason.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Ragathiel is another one that's big on redemption. Of course he is also the type to have you killed if he finds out you are faking it.

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