If someone is evil most of their life, but sees the light and turns good before they die, what happens?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Would they still go to the lower planes when they die or what? Personally I think it would be cool if there was a demiplane where such people are (temporarily) punished for a certain amount of time (depending on how evil they had been and how long they waited to turn good) before going to the upper planes.

Dark Archive

I'm not sure, but I think they might actually reincarnate so that they can be judged on their new life? But I'm not sure


According to the lore of Golarion, every mortal soul (barring exception, mishaps, or whatever) must be pass through the Boneyard (aka Purgatory). There any soul that has does not have a pre-chosen (due to contract, divine favor, or whatever) plane will be judged and sent to a plane.

I wont say I know how the souls are judged. But, I would believe that it depends on a multitude of factors. Were they barely evil (they only did 1 thing and never atoned)? Did they atone at the very last second? Does any God/Entity have claim to the soul? Etc.


Being good means doing good, not just in mindset but in deed.

This will affect his judgement in the Boneyard.


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I didn't think the afterlife in Pathfinder was about reward/punishment but rather the processing of mortal souls (e.g. stripping away their memories etc.) so that they might be subsumed into the plane of either their god or one most closely associated with their alignment?


Pharasma will judge them, as she does plenty of others.


Edge cases in which more than one plane or being has claim on a soul are adjudicated by Pharasma herself or one of the higher ranking psychopomps.


Depends on the setting.
On Mystara, it's a bit vague what happens to the souls of creatures. Sometimes they are portrayed as being taken by a patron Immortal, sometimes evil souls have been reincarnated in bestial forms, sometimes there is travel of spirits between various outer planes without explaining why they are in any in the first place - nothing definitive.

On Abeir-Toril (Forgotten Realms, Maztica, Al-Qadim, etc.) you go to your patron god no matter what. If you have no patron, it's the Wall of the Faithless, regardless of one's moral leanings or deeds.

Dragonlance is also vague, with things sometimes being portrayed as the Abyss being the only outer plane and afterlife there is, with very little detail about what goes on there.

Dark Sun doesn't have much beyond the Grey and the Black, so there isn't much choice.

Planescape seems to assume that if you don't have a patron Power that claims your soul you head to the Outer plane that matches your alignment. No real mention is made of kharma or some tallysheet of good-evil law-chaos acts that weigh against each other. Greyhawk probably works that way but I know little of that setting other than that the Great Wheel grew from it. Spelljammer probably works that way, and Birthright is also vague on the subject.


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This is just speculation, but what happens probably has more to do with the condition of your soul when you are judged than your actual deeds. Specifically the corruption introduced to a being's soul by transformation into an undead is suppose to make the being ineligible to be resurrected. Once that sort of transformation has been made, the soul's alignment has been force-ably switched after death. I don't think there is any redemption after an end like that.

Then there are contracts where possession of the soul is transferred after death. Those contracts tend to be binding, though its difficult to tell since most beings willing to sign such a contract act in ways that result in them having an evil alignment regardless.

And of course, certain beings capture and trade/consume souls. In those cases the actions in life and decisions just before death have no bearing on what happens to the soul.


It depends. There's reference in either the planar books/articles and/or the yamaraj psychomp (CR 20 judges) bestiary write up that judgment can involve outsiders arguing over things like deathbed conversions and improperly executed infernal contracts as having enough weight to determine a soul's ultimate judgement. So at least some deathbed conversions must have been successful or the angels presumably wouldn't still be arguing it in psychopomp court.


Yqatuba wrote:
Would they still go to the lower planes when they die or what? Personally I think it would be cool if there was a demiplane where such people are (temporarily) punished for a certain amount of time (depending on how evil they had been and how long they waited to turn good) before going to the upper planes.

It pretty much all depends on your alignment and your deity.

If you ardently repent your evil ways and dye trying to change the world for the better, there's a good chance that some deity will take pity on your now morally good soul and provide you with a better afterlife than you would otherwise have...of course most people become a petitioner no matter what and are either adsorbed into the plane or become fuel to create higher level outsiders. So the experience in the planes for afterlife can be more pleasant for some petitioners, but ultimately it's not really great for anyone unless your so badass they allow you to keep all your memories and immediately transform you into a high level outsider.


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I really want to run a courtroom drama in the boneyard now. It's going to take a lot of planning though.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I really want to run a courtroom drama in the boneyard now. It's going to take a lot of planning though.

If you haven't checked out the 'Spiral of Bones' comic (which just recently came out in a collected hardcover), you may want to. We get to see the Boneyard courts close up.


The balisse angel in Bestiary 5 is noted as formed from the souls of mortals who committed evil acts but were later redeemed, so that is a possible outcome.


As long as they cast Atone first, they're good.


Peachbottom wrote:
As long as they cast Atone first, they're good.

I agree, if you don't buy some indulgences from your local cleric you're screwed.


Are they good because they *decide* they are good, or do they decide they are good because they *are* good?


Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:


On Abeir-Toril (Forgotten Realms, Maztica, Al-Qadim, etc.) you go to your patron god no matter what. If you have no patron, it's the Wall of the Faithless, regardless of one's moral leanings or deeds.

There is also the False, who claim a patron deity but do not actually follow them. They are punished based on their falsehoods by Jergal/Myrkul/Cyric/Kelemvor, depending on the era.


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They go to the Medium Place.


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blahpers wrote:
They go to the Medium Place.

But what if your GM isn't using Occult Adventures?


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They get Force Lightning zapped by the Galactic Emperor.


Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:


Dragonlance is also vague, with things sometimes being portrayed as the Abyss being the only outer plane and afterlife there is, with very little detail about what goes on there.

There are three outer planes, The Abyss, The Hidden Vale, and the Dome of Creation and it is generally assumed that you go to the realm of your God or realm you most closely match.


Lathiira wrote:
Pharasma will judge them, as she does plenty of others.

Is there an Outer Plane of Flipping Pharasma the Bird? I wanna go there.


blahpers wrote:
Is there an Outer Plane of Flipping Pharasma the Bird? I wanna go there.

It's in the boneyard (convenient for being close to Pharasma when flipping the bird), they'll just let you in the Graveyard of Souls, close the gate, and leave you alone forever.


blahpers wrote:
Lathiira wrote:
Pharasma will judge them, as she does plenty of others.
Is there an Outer Plane of Flipping Pharasma the Bird? I wanna go there.

I think Abaddon kind of does that.


Euthyphro wrote:
Are they good because they *decide* they are good, or do they decide they are good because they *are* good?

If intention/opinion had anything to do with it, abilities masking alignment would have no reason to exist. Somebody can view themselves / their actions as horrifically evil yet their soul is still objectively good.

I agree with comments saying Paizo campaign setting soul transmigration has nothing to do with "punishment", and also the idea that it depends on status of soul at time of judgment... To the extent that previous acts weigh against most recent ones, that should already be factored into how it's objective alignment is determined in the first place. As mentioned there can be corner cases which are "grey" involving hijacking of the soul etc, but those are explicitly very corner cases typically involving external intervention in soul processes.


blahpers wrote:
Lathiira wrote:
Pharasma will judge them, as she does plenty of others.
Is there an Outer Plane of Flipping Pharasma the Bird? I wanna go there.

Urgathoa did that and became a goddess.


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Euthyphro wrote:
Are they good because they *decide* they are good, or do they decide they are good because they *are* good?

I remember having a chaotic neutral character (a result of the combined influence of a chaotic good mother and a chaotic evil father) who thought he was good but always pinged as his true alignment because he acted in accordance with it.

In fact, the same was true of his chaotic evil father. The father was actually very nice to people until he got into combat with them -- then, the methods he used to win the combat showed his true nature. His survival was the top priority -- the survival of his allies, not so much.


It's a case-by-case basis decided by Pharasma. I can't imagine there's any default response; I'm sure she goes through everything about them meticulously to make the right decision.


Quandary wrote:
Euthyphro wrote:
Are they good because they *decide* they are good, or do they decide they are good because they *are* good?

If intention/opinion had anything to do with it, abilities masking alignment would have no reason to exist. Somebody can view themselves / their actions as horrifically evil yet their soul is still objectively good.

I agree with comments saying Paizo campaign setting soul transmigration has nothing to do with "punishment", and also the idea that it depends on status of soul at time of judgment... To the extent that previous acts weigh against most recent ones, that should already be factored into how it's objective alignment is determined in the first place. As mentioned there can be corner cases which are "grey" involving hijacking of the soul etc, but those are explicitly very corner cases typically involving external intervention in soul processes.

Agreed, I also always thought Pharasma was more like a clerk than the person who gets to CHOOSE where people go in the afterlife.


Yqatuba wrote:
Quandary wrote:
Euthyphro wrote:
Are they good because they *decide* they are good, or do they decide they are good because they *are* good?

If intention/opinion had anything to do with it, abilities masking alignment would have no reason to exist. Somebody can view themselves / their actions as horrifically evil yet their soul is still objectively good.

I agree with comments saying Paizo campaign setting soul transmigration has nothing to do with "punishment", and also the idea that it depends on status of soul at time of judgment... To the extent that previous acts weigh against most recent ones, that should already be factored into how it's objective alignment is determined in the first place. As mentioned there can be corner cases which are "grey" involving hijacking of the soul etc, but those are explicitly very corner cases typically involving external intervention in soul processes.

Agreed, I also always thought Pharasma was more like a clerk than the person who gets to CHOOSE where people go in the afterlife.

A clerk with a vindictive streak, if Kingmaker is any indication.


I see her more as the judges in the supreme court or as a very involved head of a company. She has psychopomps to deal with all the easy cases and bureaucracy that just need to be stamped and guided, but she tries to be part of as much as possible when it comes to rulings.


The NPC wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Lathiira wrote:
Pharasma will judge them, as she does plenty of others.
Is there an Outer Plane of Flipping Pharasma the Bird? I wanna go there.
I think Abaddon kind of does that.

If you don't mind being used as target practice for daemons sure.

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