Anyone else disappointed there are no more Neutral Clerics of Evil Deities?


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James Jacobs wrote:

This is one of many things we're following in the playtest to see how folks like/dislike a change.

Wall of text below!

** spoiler omitted **...

Thanks for the post!

For me, this just calls into why I don't like the alignment system as a whole. Nine moral variations doesn't leave a lot of nuance. Building from there, any system that ties in with alignment is going to face similar issues.

I think you have presented us with an awesome morality/worship system by way of anathemas. Even if individual restrictions are causing problems for some concepts, it really is great for having a nuanced morality system at play.

None of this is to say that this is a bad system. Just one that I'm not particularly fond of.

Dark Archive

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James Jacobs wrote:

This is one of many things we're following in the playtest to see how folks like/dislike a change.

Wall of text below!

** spoiler omitted **...

There are clerics that exist in the lore of these deities that weren't of these alignments. Is there going to be some lore reason as to why these deities will suddenly stop granting them powers then? It is going to be a story event or a retcon?

Shadow Lodge

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James Jacobs wrote:
Personally, for me, taking lawful neutral Asmodeus worshipers as an example... I see nothing natural at all about someone who worships the ruler of Hell itself in a way that isn't evil.

What about the people who simply wish to create an ordered society, unburdened by Abadar's focus on Wealth and Profit? Asmodeus is equal parts a god of Evil and Law; just as Desna is equal parts Chaos and Good. Why are worshipers prevented from focusing on one aspect in the former case, but not the latter?

One could argue that such half-hearted devotion is offensive to the god's sensibilities or somehow subverting their will, but that argument doesn't hold water, especially for a deity as pragmatic and forward thinking as Asmodeus. If offering the stability of a lawful and ordered society draws in servants, who may later be tempted to the path of evil, furthers the cause of Hell, why wouldn't Asmodeus give mortals enough rope to hang themselves? Why does Asmodeus only allow his will to be carried about by "true" believers, rather than accepting the service of any foolish enough to believe they can bargain with Hell and come out ahead?

I'm utterly baffled by this change because, from my perspective, it only serves to remove story options, and to make Golarion less interesting, not more.

As an afterthought, what does this mean for the Order of the Godclaw? Previously, they existed by focusing on the lawful aspect of all deities, but now since Asmodeus is LE and only LE, that means he conflicts with Iomedae and Torag.


Lifty1928 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

This is one of many things we're following in the playtest to see how folks like/dislike a change.

Wall of text below!

** spoiler omitted **...

There are clerics that exist in the lore of these deities that weren't of these alignments. Is there going to be some lore reason as to why these deities will suddenly stop granting them powers then? It is going to be a story event or a retcon?

Easiest way to do this is to just say something about "All those 'LN' clerics of Asmodeus? Actually evil all along, they were just pulling one over on people who thought 'no, this one can't be evil'."

I mean, quick and dirty retcon is to print some option for clerics of Asmodeus that lets them fool "detect evil" and the like and scan as Lawful Neutral." So all the 'LN' clerics of Big A had that.


Saedar wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

This is one of many things we're following in the playtest to see how folks like/dislike a change.

Wall of text below!

** spoiler omitted **...

Thanks for the post!

For me, this just calls into why I don't like the alignment system as a whole. Nine moral variations doesn't leave a lot of nuance. Building from there, any system that ties in with alignment is going to face similar issues.

I think you have presented us with an awesome morality/worship system by way of anathemas. Even if individual restrictions are causing problems for some concepts, it really is great for having a nuanced morality system at play.

None of this is to say that this is a bad system. Just one that I'm not particularly fond of.

We should bring back LN(E), LN(G), NE(L), NE(C), NG(L), NG(C), CN(G), and CN(E), as it would provide more nuance (really means NE), and it would bring up the idea that there is a strong tendency and a weak one


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James Jacobs wrote:

This is one of many things we're following in the playtest to see how folks like/dislike a change.

Wall of text below!

** spoiler omitted **...

I think Asmodeus in particular has a vested interest in having *exactly* that sort of person prominently in his church. The Big Lie of the Church of Asmodeus, after all, is that his doctrine *isn't* really evil, just the brutally pragmatic and realistic approach a dangerously chaotic world really needs.

Meanwhile, I think being wholly devoted to the teachings of Nethys or Pharasma or (looking forward) Brigh has no reflection whatsoever on alignment.

Silver Crusade

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Disk Elemental wrote:
Asmodeus is equal parts a god of Evil and Law; just as Desna is equal parts Chaos and Good. Why are worshipers prevented from focusing on one aspect in the former case, but not the latter?
That’s an assumption you are having.
Disk Elemental wrote:
One could argue that such half-hearted devotion is offensive to the god's sensibilities or somehow subverting their will, but that argument doesn't hold water, especially for a deity as pragmatic and forward thinking as Asmodeus. If offering the stability of a lawful and ordered society draws in servants, who may later be tempted to the path of evil, furthers the cause of Hell, why wouldn't Asmodeus give mortals enough rope to hang themselves? Why does Asmodeus only allow his will to be carried about by "true" believers, rather than accepting the service of any foolish enough to believe they can bargain with Hell and come out ahead?
For this exact reason. You can be a worshipper of Azzy and LN, but to actually draw power from that, you have to give in. Maybe you think you can bargain, maybe you think you can thread the needle. But in end, when you’ve come so far, what’s a little bit more? These new rules are perfectly insidious for Azzy. A little here, a little there. It’s not much. Juts raindrops. What’s a little bit more? That’s how it works. That’s how it always works.
Disk Elemental wrote:
As an afterthought, what does this mean for the Order of the Godclaw? Previously, they existed by focusing on the lawful aspect of all deities, but now since Asmodeus is LE and only LE, that means he conflicts with Iomedae and Torag.

Godclaw, being a bastardized pantheon obsessed on Law, didn’t have Clerics to my knowledge.


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Rysky wrote:
Godclaw, being a bastardized pantheon obsessed on Law, didn’t have Clerics to my knowledge.

Didn't it have Paladins? Back when Paladins didn't need to be devoted to a specific deity. I hope this means we can hurry up and get back rules for Paladins who devote themselves to several gods, or no gods.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Lifty1928 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

This is one of many things we're following in the playtest to see how folks like/dislike a change.

Wall of text below!

** spoiler omitted **...

There are clerics that exist in the lore of these deities that weren't of these alignments. Is there going to be some lore reason as to why these deities will suddenly stop granting them powers then? It is going to be a story event or a retcon?

If we do something with one of those characters, that'll give us a GREAT opportunity to come up with new rules for how characters like that can exist, but that said, it also could be a case where not everything that an NPC can do can or should be something a PC can do.

Dark Archive

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You know what, I think it would just be easier if clerics are limited to their god/goddess' alignment only. Because it is hard to justify why ZK would get LN clerics but Asmodeus not and in all fairness it makes more sense to just go "you have to be the alignment of the deity you worship"

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Disk Elemental wrote:

What about the people who simply wish to create an ordered society, unburdened by Abadar's focus on Wealth and Profit? Asmodeus is equal parts a god of Evil and Law; just as Desna is equal parts Chaos and Good. Why are worshipers prevented from focusing on one aspect in the former case, but not the latter?

One could argue that such half-hearted devotion is offensive to the god's sensibilities or somehow subverting their will, but that argument doesn't hold water, especially for a deity as pragmatic and forward thinking as Asmodeus. If offering the stability of a lawful and ordered society draws in servants, who may later be tempted to the path of evil, furthers the cause of Hell, why wouldn't Asmodeus give mortals enough rope to hang themselves? Why does Asmodeus only allow his will to be carried about by "true" believers, rather than accepting the service of any foolish enough to believe they can bargain with Hell and come out ahead?

I'm utterly baffled by this change because, from my perspective, it only serves to remove story options, and to make Golarion less interesting, not more.

As an afterthought, what does this mean for the Order of the Godclaw? Previously, they existed by focusing on the lawful aspect of all deities, but now since Asmodeus is LE and only LE, that means he conflicts with Iomedae and Torag.

Being equally about evil and law, like Asmodeus is, means that you would NOT simply wish to create an "ordered society". You would want to create an 'EVILLY ordered society." Lawful neutral is the one you'd want for an "ordered society".

This doesn't remove story options any more than the fact that we won't be likely to have a witch in the core rules "removes" witches from Irrisen. Part of a new edition's growing pains are that when it starts up, not all options will be available. In time, we may be offering ways to play off-kilter clerics... my personal preference would be for that role instead to help bolster an oracle or other different divine spellcaster, and leave cleric as the "I worship a single deity" option and do a robust "I worship a pantheon or an unusual philosophy of a deity" type class later on.

And the Order of the Godclaw will be largely unaffected. The order is not a deity, and it does not grant spells to clerics. A cleric in the order would still choose her deity, and would be an appropriate alignment, but the Order itself would sill welcome them. This means that some clerics in the order would clash against others now and then, but that's the same as it is now pretty much. No change.

And again, my post was to contextualize why we're testing this in the first place. It's not set in stone for the final game.


Thebazilly wrote:

I don't like it, either. It removes a lot of the nuance in the religions. Not only for evil deities, but for the good ones too. The Glorious Reclamation and the Cult of the Dawnflower don't make sense if Iomedae and Sarenrae can't have Neutral worshippers.

Asmodeus should allow LN as well.

Clerics historically were allowed to be one step away because they worshiped one or both facets of the God’s alignment. So a LN cleric should be able to worship because he totally believes in the Law part but can “understand” the evil way to accomplish the goals although as an individual he’s less absolute on that point. If you match both alignment pieces of your God your very hardcore.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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ulgulanoth wrote:
You know what, I think it would just be easier if clerics are limited to their god/goddess' alignment only. Because it is hard to justify why ZK would get LN clerics but Asmodeus not and in all fairness it makes more sense to just go "you have to be the alignment of the deity you worship"

I wholeheartedly agree. But that stance does make it tough to get a lot of variation and choice in for clerics, since we can't list the full 350 or so deities active in the Pathfinder setting in the Core Rules.

As for justifying why one deity has more wide-reaching alignment options for their clerics than other deities, I don't think it's hard to justify those at all, and in fact that really gives an important and interesting way to expand on different deities' personalities. Asmodeus in this case becomes an "exemplar" of rigid pure no-holds-barred lawful evil, whereas Zon-Kuthon becomes a more permissive, less strict version of lawful evil that DOES allow for different expressions of worship. Helps make the two deities more separate and less of "He's the LE one who's about burning Hell and he's the LE one who's about shadowy Hell."

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Godclaw, being a bastardized pantheon obsessed on Law, didn’t have Clerics to my knowledge.
Didn't it have Paladins? Back when Paladins didn't need to be devoted to a specific deity. I hope this means we can hurry up and get back rules for Paladins who devote themselves to several gods, or no gods.

It does, but again, remember that the Order of the God Claw is not a deity. It's a group whose members are allowed to be any lawful alignment, be it good, neutral, or evil, and who brings together a small pantheon of lawful deities as their patron philosophy and religion.

A cleric can be in the Order of the God Claw, but does not worship the Order of the God Claw.

Liberty's Edge

James Jacobs wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Godclaw, being a bastardized pantheon obsessed on Law, didn’t have Clerics to my knowledge.
Didn't it have Paladins? Back when Paladins didn't need to be devoted to a specific deity. I hope this means we can hurry up and get back rules for Paladins who devote themselves to several gods, or no gods.

It does, but again, remember that the Order of the God Claw is not a deity. It's a group whose members are allowed to be any lawful alignment, be it good, neutral, or evil, and who brings together a small pantheon of lawful deities as their patron philosophy and religion.

A cleric can be in the Order of the God Claw, but does not worship the Order of the God Claw.

Will the God Claw still be around in 2e? I thought that

Spoiler:
It was destroyed in Hell's Vengeance?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Paladinosaur wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Godclaw, being a bastardized pantheon obsessed on Law, didn’t have Clerics to my knowledge.
Didn't it have Paladins? Back when Paladins didn't need to be devoted to a specific deity. I hope this means we can hurry up and get back rules for Paladins who devote themselves to several gods, or no gods.

It does, but again, remember that the Order of the God Claw is not a deity. It's a group whose members are allowed to be any lawful alignment, be it good, neutral, or evil, and who brings together a small pantheon of lawful deities as their patron philosophy and religion.

A cleric can be in the Order of the God Claw, but does not worship the Order of the God Claw.

Will the God Claw still be around in 2e? I thought that

** spoiler omitted **

We're still making the decisions of the ramifications of Adventure Paths, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility that...

Spoiler:
...a new and/or restored version of the Order might rise from the old order's proverbial ashes... or they might just stay gone. Hasn't been decided yet.


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What about my CN inquisitor of Desna who was working his way to becoming CG by bettering himself? Does that personal evolution no longer count because he's not good enough (or Good enough)?


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James Jacobs wrote:
ulgulanoth wrote:
You know what, I think it would just be easier if clerics are limited to their god/goddess' alignment only. Because it is hard to justify why ZK would get LN clerics but Asmodeus not and in all fairness it makes more sense to just go "you have to be the alignment of the deity you worship"

I wholeheartedly agree. But that stance does make it tough to get a lot of variation and choice in for clerics, since we can't list the full 350 or so deities active in the Pathfinder setting in the Core Rules.

As for justifying why one deity has more wide-reaching alignment options for their clerics than other deities, I don't think it's hard to justify those at all, and in fact that really gives an important and interesting way to expand on different deities' personalities. Asmodeus in this case becomes an "exemplar" of rigid pure no-holds-barred lawful evil, whereas Zon-Kuthon becomes a more permissive, less strict version of lawful evil that DOES allow for different expressions of worship. Helps make the two deities more separate and less of "He's the LE one who's about burning Hell and he's the LE one who's about shadowy Hell."

But you guys at Paizo did a terrific job differentiating the philosophies of both of these deities in PF1. They were never "This guy's about fiery hell" and "These guy's about shadowy hell". Making Asmodeus LE only (and robbing him of nuance) doesn't really add anything, it just substracts.

I'm not entirely against the idea of these revisions, but some of them just don't click for me. The ZK/Asmodeus dichotomy is one. Rovagug/Lamashtu is another (I mean, Rovagug allows NE, but Lamashtu doesn't? Why?).

The biggest offender in my eyes is Pharasma though. A True Neutral goddess supposedly above it all, playing no favorites except for hating everybody who creates undead....yet she does not have CN and NE worshippers? That just means she does play favorites, with Law and Good.


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Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
What about my CN inquisitor of Desna who was working his way to becoming CG by bettering himself? Does that personal evolution no longer count because he's not good enough (or Good enough)?

Well, Desna explicitly allows CN clerics per page 72 and Inquisitors aren't clerics and could conceivably have looser alignment restrictions than clerics anyway (since it's conceivable, for example, for Asmodeus to have inquisitors to weed out both "not evil enough" and "not lawful enough".)

So you're fine.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
What about my CN inquisitor of Desna who was working his way to becoming CG by bettering himself? Does that personal evolution no longer count because he's not good enough (or Good enough)?

In the Playtest, as things currently stand, that'd not be an easy character to build—and not just because there are no inquisitor class levels for you to take in the playtest!.

It's important to have rules for how things like this can occur, though. This type of build, to me, seems better represented in the Playtest as playing a non-cleric character who's hoping to become a cleric, and then (working with your GM) potentially re-training all class levels to cleric once you achieve the goal.

This and other potential solutions will, I hope, be options in the final rules.

This is an excellent example of the exact type of feedback I was hoping for though, concerning the new rules for cleric alignments.

Shadow Lodge

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James Jacobs wrote:
Being equally about evil and law, like Asmodeus is, means that you would NOT simply wish to create an "ordered society". You would want to create an 'EVILLY ordered society." Lawful neutral is the one you'd want for an "ordered society".

Correct... thus a Lawful Neutral Cleric of Asmodeus would focus on the aspect that brings about a Lawful Society, with little care for the Evil aspect. Asmoedeus, for his part, would be delighted, because the society in his image would inevitably result in Evil being done, even if the initial conception was benign. The road to Hell is paved in good intentions, and having a deity that embraces that results in far more story possibilities than making a deity that is always mega-evil for reals. That's what Diabolism in Pathfinder has always been about, that even with pure intent, even if you personally keep your soul, any dealings with Hell means the cause of Hell will be served.

James Jacobs wrote:
This doesn't remove story options any more than the fact that we won't be likely to have a witch in the core rules "removes" witches from Irrisen.

I profoundly disagree. These changes mean Cleric, the actual mechanical class, can no longer be the vessel for stories that it once supported. Which is distinctly different than the relevant material simply being unavailable. I would liken this change to removing all Summoning from the Wizard list, limiting them solely to the Sorcerer. The general concept may still be available in another form, but characters (not PCs, characters) who once existed, no longer do.

Also, I find Zon-Kuthon allowing LN clerics to be even more puzzling, in light of this discussion. He exists solely to inflict pain and suffering on others, and has little to no constructive element to his portfolio.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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TheFinish wrote:
The biggest offender in my eyes is Pharasma though. A True Neutral goddess supposedly above it all, playing no favorites except for hating everybody who creates undead....yet she does not have CN and NE worshippers? That just means she does play favorites, with Law and Good.

Pharasma is not a "perfect true neutral goddess who is above it all." If she were, she wouldn't have as much of a hate for undead and, in particular, Urgathoa. Her intolerance of undeath does mean she isn't "above it all." She does have opinions and goals and the like. Furthermore, true neutral in Pathfinder doesn't mean you strive to get a balance in all things (that goal has always actually struck me as more lawful than anything else, but that's a discussion for another thread, not this one!).

Her alignment spread (NG, LN, N) should probably have also included CN in retrospect; that's a good example of something playtest feedback can easily help us find and change later on (assuming we keep this setup for alignments and clerics). But she'll be unlikely to approve of NE, for the above reasons, which does help set her up as not the perfect "balanced viewpoint" deity. Which she isn't when it comes to some things, such as undeath and Urgathoa.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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ANYway folks... I do need to focus a bit on getting Return of the Runelords off my plate—thank you for the continued feedback and I'll absolutely be keeping an eye on this thread, but I don't have time to get into more if this then that type discussions, as much fun as it is to explore alignment stuff and worshiping deities is (I'm not joking; I really do enjoy working out this philosophical stuff for clerics and religions in Pathfinder!).

So yeah; please keep the feedback coming! I won't be posting much more to this particular thread to answer specific examples, but I'll be watching and will be coming back here and to other threads when the time comes to gather the data and make the world flavor decisions going forward.

Thanks again, everyone, for the great feedback, and have fun with the rest of the playtest, and try not to get too worried if you see some of the test stuff we want you to play with isn't yet quite where you or we want it to be! We'll get there!

Shadow Lodge

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Rysky wrote:
That’s an assumption you are having.

That's what being a God is. It's representing an embodiment of an ideal or ethos, to the point that your favor grants mortals the ability to literally glow with that ethos, as if they were inhuman.

Rysky wrote:
What’s a little bit more? That’s how it works. That’s how it always works.

No, that's how it works for some characters.

Making any kind of universal statement like that, especially about the personal arc of Player Characters, is absolutely antithetical to the purpose of a TTRPG. This isn't a videogame, where your endings are set in stone, your character's arc is truly yours, and yours alone.


Not disappointed in the slightest.

Silver Crusade

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TheFinish wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
ulgulanoth wrote:
You know what, I think it would just be easier if clerics are limited to their god/goddess' alignment only. Because it is hard to justify why ZK would get LN clerics but Asmodeus not and in all fairness it makes more sense to just go "you have to be the alignment of the deity you worship"

I wholeheartedly agree. But that stance does make it tough to get a lot of variation and choice in for clerics, since we can't list the full 350 or so deities active in the Pathfinder setting in the Core Rules.

As for justifying why one deity has more wide-reaching alignment options for their clerics than other deities, I don't think it's hard to justify those at all, and in fact that really gives an important and interesting way to expand on different deities' personalities. Asmodeus in this case becomes an "exemplar" of rigid pure no-holds-barred lawful evil, whereas Zon-Kuthon becomes a more permissive, less strict version of lawful evil that DOES allow for different expressions of worship. Helps make the two deities more separate and less of "He's the LE one who's about burning Hell and he's the LE one who's about shadowy Hell."

But you guys at Paizo did a terrific job differentiating the philosophies of both of these deities in PF1. They were never "This guy's about fiery hell" and "These guy's about shadowy hell". Making Asmodeus LE only (and robbing him of nuance) doesn't really add anything, it just substracts.

I'm not entirely against the idea of these revisions, but some of them just don't click for me. The ZK/Asmodeus dichotomy is one. Rovagug/Lamashtu is another (I mean, Rovagug allows NE, but Lamashtu doesn't? Why?).

The biggest offender in my eyes is Pharasma though. A True Neutral goddess supposedly above it all, playing no favorites except for hating everybody who creates undead....yet she does not have CN and NE worshippers? That just means she does play favorites, with Law and Good.

CN (Maelstrom, Proteans) want to tear down the universe and NE (Daemons) devours souls, so it’s not playing favourites as much as she doesn’t like those jackasses.

Silver Crusade

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Disk Elemental wrote:
Rysky wrote:
That’s an assumption you are having.
That's what being a God is. It's representing an embodiment of an ideal or ethos, to the point that your favor grants mortals the ability to literally glow with that ethos, as if they were inhuman.
Not really? The closest I’ve seen any Deity to that description is Gozreh. Deities are for the most part supremely and unimaginable powerful beings, they’re not foundations of reality though.
Disk Elemental wrote:
Rysky wrote:
What’s a little bit more? That’s how it works. That’s how it always works.

No, that's how it works for some characters.

Making any kind of universal statement like that, especially about the personal arc of Player Characters, is absolutely antithetical to the purpose of a TTRPG. This isn't a videogame, where your endings are set in stone, your character's arc is truly yours, and yours alone.

Perhaps, but PCs have always been the exceptions, for everyone else, including hosts of PCs I would say, it is a universal statement. You can’t routinely deal with the devil and not go evil.

This is a cooperative game, with you, your fellow players, and the GM, your’s is your not your story alone I would say. Your character might not think themselves evil as they go down that slide, you might not think them evil. But that doesn’t mean they’re not evil.


One thing I wonder is if "What alignment from clerics deities will accept" is a thing that can change in response to events or over time.

Like after a bunch of Pharasman clerics were driven mad by Earthfall and became CN, she could have just gone "Okay, fine... just this one time" (Since she knows "Earthfall" is not going to be a common experience), but in the modern era she sees no reason to accept CN clerics since there's nothing that dramatic going on.

Like maybe long ago a less grumpy Torag allowed NG Clerics, but has subsequently delegated "Less lawful but well-intentioned" dwarfs to someone else in his family.


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James Jacobs wrote:

This is one of many things we're following in the playtest to see how folks like/dislike a change.

Well, put me down as a firm dislike.

The real world doesn't have bright lines of morality, and neither should Golarion. And I say this as a guy who has for the past year run a campaign with four paladins who have cleaved to Lawful Good.

People interpret the teachings of a real-world philosopher or a fictional-god in different ways, and even if the god exists, very few deities would, I think, care about ordering every aspect of their followers lives.

Shelyn wants you to create beauty.
Lamashtu likes motherhood and monsters and a bit of madness.
Abadar wants to make sure the rules are followed and trade happens.
Pharasma wants to make sure the dead are judged and don't come back.
Urgathoa wants people to indulge.
Zon-Kuthon wants people to seek out pain.

Shelyn doesn't care if one of her priests wants to create building codes to ensure beautiful architecture endures and doesn't collapse on people. She doesn't mind if a priest goes out and graffitis a guard barracks to mock the king. Just don't hurt anyone, and create beauty. If you're a true-neutral priest of her, but you're creating beauty, she trusts that the beauty itself is good, and her presence might guide you to the right path.

Lamashtu doesn't demand that you cause pain and suffering. She just wants everyone with a baby to be wary of her wrath, wants monsters to roam the wilderness, and wants people to suffer nightmares. If you're a chaotic-neutral priest of her, but you're just focused on getting revenge on the soldiers who killed your children, she'll help you punish those men, and hope that you'll give into your darker impulses along the way.

Some flexibility makes the world more vibrant. By all means, please keep anathema for clerics -- a priest of Calistria can't spare someone she has sworn vengeance against, and a priest of Rovagug can't make any contracts -- but keep some alignment flexibility.

---

If you want to differentiate a paladin of Sarenrae (NG sun goddess of healing and redemption) from a paladin of Ra (LN sun god of cyclical time and rulership), give them some different powers based on the other domains of their gods, or have different divine fighting styles, or -- I dunno -- just trust that in the narrative they'll feel different.

Seriously, I've loved my campaign. Between the PCs and the various NPC paladins we've met, I've had to consider what Lawful Good interpretations exist for

Shelyn
Ra
Ragathiel
Erastil
Apsu
Alseta
Kurgess
Iomedae
Torag
Sarenrae
Aroden* (well, that paladin ended up being the campaign's villain)
Abadar
Wadjet
Cassandalee (since our last campaign made her Neutral Good)

Don't throw away that vibrancy just for some pat dogmatic 'stay in the lines' simplicity.


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Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
What about my CN inquisitor of Desna who was working his way to becoming CG by bettering himself? Does that personal evolution no longer count because he's not good enough (or Good enough)?

Exactly!

Good narratives need nuance and ambiguity.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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RangerWickett wrote:
Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
What about my CN inquisitor of Desna who was working his way to becoming CG by bettering himself? Does that personal evolution no longer count because he's not good enough (or Good enough)?

Exactly!

Good narratives need nuance and ambiguity.

one last thing to mention....

I agree that nuance and ambiguity are great for stories, but the mere existence of the alignment system fights against that. Taken to an extreme, readers can (and have) interpreted our version of an NPC or deity who does certain acts as Paizo taking a firm stance on rendering judgment on a real-world act as being not evil or good or whatever, which makes for some really frustrating and eye-opening situations in this age of increased visibility and awareness.

If we want to further embrace nuance and ambiguity... the problem might actually be that the alignment system is the fault and it should, perhaps, be abandoned...


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James Jacobs wrote:
If we want to further embrace nuance and ambiguity... the problem might actually be that the alignment system is the fault and it should, perhaps, be abandoned...

YES PLEASE


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i think the alignment system should be dropped. religions and factions can still have clear codes of conduct, but i'd rather have the clearly defined code of conduct for each religion or each faction over alignment restrictions or even the alignment system plus removing the alignment system in favor of clearly defining religion/faction specific codes of conduct or nation specific laws fixes the "how can i make a paladin fall?" threads as well as the "is it okay to murder orcish babies?" threads.


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James Jacobs wrote:
RangerWickett wrote:
Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
What about my CN inquisitor of Desna who was working his way to becoming CG by bettering himself? Does that personal evolution no longer count because he's not good enough (or Good enough)?

Exactly!

Good narratives need nuance and ambiguity.

one last thing to mention....

I agree that nuance and ambiguity are great for stories, but the mere existence of the alignment system fights against that. Taken to an extreme, readers can (and have) interpreted our version of an NPC or deity who does certain acts as Paizo taking a firm stance on rendering judgment on a real-world act as being not evil or good or whatever, which makes for some really frustrating and eye-opening situations in this age of increased visibility and awareness.

If we want to further embrace nuance and ambiguity... the problem might actually be that the alignment system is the fault and it should, perhaps, be abandoned...

James Jacobs admitting that the alignment system isn't a divine revelation visited upon Gary Gygax by whatever higher powers may exist, and that it might in fact be limiting Pathfinder's story-telling potential, rather than empowering it?

Somebody pinch me. I'm not sure I can believe it.


I don't see how having hard alignment restrictions removes nuance in games. Sure the Cleric of Asmodeus has Lawful Evil on his sheet but that doesn't mean that his character can't have complicated reasons for why he follows Asmodeus. Furthermore, the Cleric may not see his actions or deity as Evil whatsoever.

Maybe he believes that the only way to create an ordered society is by enslaving the unworthy or ensuring that the masses don't have a say in anything. Yeah, that seems pretty Evil to us and likely the party of heroes trying to take him down but that doesn't mean he has to be a BWAHAHA villain. The nuance can still be expressed even through his arguments for why he sees the slavery of others as Good. The players can ultimately call him out on his b%~!%+#!, but that still doesn't mean that the character doesn't have nuance in sense of having character motivations that go beyond just being an a@%%#%% who worships a bigger a+*++~#.


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i can't stand the "is it evil to eat orcish babies?" threads and the "how can i make the paladin fall?" threads because alignment restrictions do a piss poor job of balancing the mechanical power of a class, the benefits for serving a faction should be mostly flavor and hooks if they have a code of conduct and nothing that grants more than the occasional circumstantial social modifier.

i think if we balance the cleric and paladin around not needing an inherent behavioral restriction, we tack on the flavor features through faction or religion choice in exchange for a code of conduct. but we could allow clerics who venerate a set of ideals rather than a god. such as a cleric who draws thier divine powers from the ideals of the bushido code or a cleric who draws thier power from a specific great wyrm dragon or arch fey. so cleric can also be used to represent cults or non-deity based religions. like Shintoism, where you venerate a series of nature spirits rather than venerating one supreme god so that clerics can be used to represent bhuddists as well as shamans, shrine maidens and other key religious archetypes such as warlocks.

i mean, there should also be fighter archetypes for designing your own fighter, like a dervish who treats scimitars (and other one handed slashing swords) as finesse agile weapons and gains dexterity bonus to damage rolls with scimitars, preferring to go unarmored, and there should be an unarmored femme fatale/ladykiller archetype for rogues that focuses on social skills, prefers to go unarmored, and focuses on gathering information with a few provocative uses for the performance skill to help in combat.

maybe we can have an archetype for bards that is all about feigning innocence and appearing harmless via performance until they get off that lethal finisher, focused on acting, bluff, disguise, sleight of hand and adopting the persona of a noncombatant, whether a damsel, a waitress or a tagalong child.


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While I'm not personally a fan of alignment or objective morality in a game like this, I feel that enough ink has been spilled about cosmology in Pathfinder that it's way too late to ditch it at this point.

Like since we've arranged a system where (almost) everybody gets sorted into one of 9 bins after they die, we might as well just have a word for what specific quality of "people who are cruel and selfish and believe in hierarchies" that keeps getting them sent to Hell.

But that being said the sidebars about "how to run Pathfinder without alignment" might need to be bigger.


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Seek75 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
RangerWickett wrote:
Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
What about my CN inquisitor of Desna who was working his way to becoming CG by bettering himself? Does that personal evolution no longer count because he's not good enough (or Good enough)?

Exactly!

Good narratives need nuance and ambiguity.

one last thing to mention....

I agree that nuance and ambiguity are great for stories, but the mere existence of the alignment system fights against that. Taken to an extreme, readers can (and have) interpreted our version of an NPC or deity who does certain acts as Paizo taking a firm stance on rendering judgment on a real-world act as being not evil or good or whatever, which makes for some really frustrating and eye-opening situations in this age of increased visibility and awareness.

If we want to further embrace nuance and ambiguity... the problem might actually be that the alignment system is the fault and it should, perhaps, be abandoned...

James Jacobs admitting that the alignment system isn't a divine revelation visited upon Gary Gygax by whatever higher powers may exist, and that it might in fact be limiting Pathfinder's story-telling potential, rather than empowering it?

Somebody pinch me. I'm not sure I can believe it.

I think I cried a little. I never thought this day would come.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
But that being said the sidebars about "how to run Pathfinder without alignment" might need to be bigger.

I'd prefer dumping alignment and having a sidebar about "how to run Pathfinder with alignment".


I don't need alignment for my games, but the system is useful for easing new gamers into the idea of playing a role of someone with different ideology.

I would be fine with getting rid of, like, holy word and dictum, though.


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Revan wrote:
I think Asmodeus in particular has a vested interest in having *exactly* that sort of person prominently in his church. The Big Lie of the Church of Asmodeus, after all, is that his doctrine *isn't* really evil, just the brutally pragmatic and realistic approach a dangerously chaotic world really needs.

For worshipers sure. But clerics? Clerics are supposed to be the truest of the true believers. They're the one who spread the doctrine. If they don't actually believe the whole doctrine than they're not a good choice to spread it. And Asmodeus really isn't one who likes deviation from his will, servants are there to serve. He has a vision of perfect law, but it's law that's totally focused on subjection and evil. The two aren't really separable for him.


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I think in the end it comes down to a matter of perspective. Are clerics of other aliments than their deities exploring nuance and alternate takes on a faith, or are they cherry-picking the parts they like and ignoring the rest and there fore not a good priest of that religion? If you think the former than this is probably a bad decision and if the later, a good one.

This is complicated a bit by the fact that Paizo has published a lot that seems to go along with the former opinion, which likely makes this jarring for others who agree with it. Some of that is likely due to difference in opinion whiten the staff. There have been things that kind of had a tug-of-war with being published and then smacked down by a dev. The whole Paladins of Asmodeus incident is a good example of this.

As for alignment. It's very much an imperfect system, but at this point I think it's too ingrained into the system and setting to really remove it gracefully.


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RangerWickett wrote:
the system is useful for easing new gamers into the idea of playing a role of someone with different ideology

You don't need the system for that though: A list of archetypal morality types does that without needing alignment initials.

Doktor Weasel wrote:
Are clerics of other aliments than their deities exploring nuance and alternate takes on a faith, or are they cherry-picking the parts they like and ignoring the rest and there fore not a good priest of that religion? If you think the former than this is probably a bad decision and if the later, a good one.

We have instances of people worshiping a regional variant: in Holomog they worship Asmodeus as the Wily Linguist, a LN god.

You also see descriptions about races or cultures worshiping various aspects of a god: Taking Asmodeus again, kobolds worship him as a god of fire for their mining and metalworking.


graystone wrote:
RangerWickett wrote:
the system is useful for easing new gamers into the idea of playing a role of someone with different ideology

You don't need the system for that though: A list of archetypal morality types does that without needing alignment initials.

Doktor Weasel wrote:
Are clerics of other aliments than their deities exploring nuance and alternate takes on a faith, or are they cherry-picking the parts they like and ignoring the rest and there fore not a good priest of that religion? If you think the former than this is probably a bad decision and if the later, a good one.

We have instances of people worshiping a regional variant: in Holomog they worship Asmodeus as the Wily Linguist, a LN god.

You also see descriptions about races or cultures worshiping various aspects of a god: Taking Asmodeus again, kobolds worship him as a god of fire for their mining and metalworking.

Yeah, these are the kinds of examples I was thinking about that make this decision a bit jarring. I suppose one solution is to have different alignment restrictions for these different aspects and versions. They've already got precedent for this for Norgorber's Reaper of Reputations aspect allowing true neutral but not his others.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
RangerWickett wrote:
Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
What about my CN inquisitor of Desna who was working his way to becoming CG by bettering himself? Does that personal evolution no longer count because he's not good enough (or Good enough)?

Exactly!

Good narratives need nuance and ambiguity.

one last thing to mention....

I agree that nuance and ambiguity are great for stories, but the mere existence of the alignment system fights against that. Taken to an extreme, readers can (and have) interpreted our version of an NPC or deity who does certain acts as Paizo taking a firm stance on rendering judgment on a real-world act as being not evil or good or whatever, which makes for some really frustrating and eye-opening situations in this age of increased visibility and awareness.

If we want to further embrace nuance and ambiguity... the problem might actually be that the alignment system is the fault and it should, perhaps, be abandoned...

Yes. Yes it should.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Ilina Aniri wrote:
i think the alignment system should be dropped. religions and factions can still have clear codes of conduct

I can see Clerics/Paladins being living exemplars of their deity's tenets, with the new anathema system telling us all we need to know about the limits on their behaviour. No need for an alignment system on top of that.


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Sweet. Sounds like instead of axing alignment when they had the chance, they made it even worse. I understand Paizo's design philosophy less and less these days.

Silver Crusade

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

Put me down as someone who favors the alignment system, it’s one of the major draws to the game for me. With hardlined Good and Evil and Nuetral I still belive you have plenty of room for moral ambiguity. Removing those and you don’t have moral ambiguity really, everything is just varying shades of grey.

For the subject in question, I actually enjoy the new take on the Dieties alignment, much more so than the previous 1 step in any direction no matter what the Deity in question was.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Looking forward to an all-new slew of Paladin threads in PF2! This is going to be soooooo fun.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:


If we want to further embrace nuance and ambiguity... the problem might actually be that the alignment system is the fault and it should, perhaps, be abandoned...

Might be an idea


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Rysky, Life is about shades of gray, shades of gray bring far more nuance and ambiguity than hard lined black and white dichotomy between good and evil... Sure there's neutral in between, but know what? Everyone has their reasons for doing things, and no person is an island for we are All shaped by chance and circumstance.

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