About petitioners and memories again

Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

Could a god just tell a petitioner of theirs what they're mortal life was like? Or do they have some rule against that. I would think gods would want some of their favored worshippers (such as a level 20 mythic cleric) to know. Even if it doesn't make them any more powerful it's probably pretty important to the deity.

I doubt there is a rule against it, but why exactly would a deity want petitioners to know who they used to be associated with? What does the deity gain from this exchange?

If they were a mythic paladin of, say, Iomedae, she might say something like "Hey, nice job killing that demon lord" or whatever amazing things they did.

I still don't see why the deity cares though. The petitioner for their reward/punishment by passing into the appropriate divine realm. And telling someone subservient to you that they used to be on-par with demideities seems like a good way to sow discontent.

I don't know, maybe the whole thing just bothers me but, for another example: say two lovers or whatever were both devout followers of the same good-aligned god and when to their realm in the afterlife. It's pretty hard for me to believe a good god (especially a god of love like Shelyn) would be find with them just not loving or caring about eachother anymore.

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I mean, petitioners don't lose all their mortal memories, just the specifics and it seems like haze to them. So presumably petitioners of great heroes would still know they are great heroes and petitioners or loves would still be lovers in afterlife.

It also bothers me, for example Nethys probably would prefer if his petitioners retain the knowledge of magic they possed in life. Luckily, Pathfinder deities can do everything the story requires. That includes preserving the memories (all of some) of their followers (all of some) when they die.

I would even allow mortal magic, in the form of spells like miracle and wish to restore the mortal memories of a petitioner, though a deity may intervene if it happens against the will of the deity or the petitioner in question.

It could be that what is called losing your memories is actually simplifying something more complicated. As a petitioner, you are going to a plane of alignment, and maybe the parts of your personality and memories that emphasize that alignment are enhanced, and the rest get diminished. So that nice old lady going to Heaven can't remember a teenage CG (or even CN) crush she had unless it ended in such a way that pushed her to being LG. Interviewing a petitioner about some event in their past is probably useless, since who knows what holes there will be. On the other hand, two CG lovebirds probably remember most of their mortal love together.

It does raise questions about what if God A with alignment B is in realm C based around alignment D. Is alignment B or D dominant in the petitioner (maybe both)?

Just my 2 gps.

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The element of losing memory upon a soul's transition to the afterlife serves two purposes, and it's good to keep them in mind when you adjust how this works in your game.

1: There's a mythological precedent for this that we're taking cues from. The idea of losing your memories upon death shows up in lots of belief systems. The memory-robbing powers of the River Styx is a classic example. And there's also the element in so many ghost stories that the ghosts can't move on to the afterlife BECAUSE they can't let go of their memories. So that's one thing we're trying to evoke.

2: But this is the primary reason. From a purely game-mechanical standpoint, if creatures retained their memories after death, then that opens up a really awkward and potentially disturbing can of worms where death becomes a free way to power up your character. If you retain your memories, then one could argue that you should retain ALL of your knowledge you had in life. Which means that you'd retain all your experience as well, and thus all your class levels. Suddenly, when your soul drops into a petitioner's body or, even worse, transforms into an angel or azata or demon or devil, you're swapping out the low baseline powers of a humanoid ancestry for that of a much more powerful creature. In effect, this turns all those planar races into templates that, merely by the act of dying, turn characters into much more powerful creatures.

And this means that the easiest way for your 10th level human wizard to become more powerful is not to keep gaining XP, but to commit suicide. Since then you'll swap out your human baseline for, say, that of a deva or a succubus or a pit fiend or whatever.

That takes the game into a philosophical and religious direction that we don't want to enter.

Furthermore, it erodes the whole point of otherwise compelling monsters like the lich or other storylines where people seek to avoid death by achieving immortality. If you retain your memories after death automatically, then that does everything for you, for free.

Death is a HUGE deal. It's the most important part of the human condition, and it's really one of the core things, if not THE core thing, that defines life. Allowing memories to persist after death trivializes death, or even makes it into something that you want to happen. I could see a game setup were the weaponization of death, or the use of death as a method to ascend to a higher power, could be a compelling factor, but that's a pretty triggering and mature-content topic that isn't great for most tables, I suspect. It's certainly NOT the game we've built with Pathifnder, which treats death as something to be avoided (as it is in the real world). Changing that out changes the very nature of the game to the point that the rules need to be rewritten with that focus in mind.

That all said, there ARE examples of the dead retaining their memories in Golarion. It's a significant plot point for the Hell's Rebels Adventure Path, for example. It's ABSOLUTELY within the power of a deity to restore a petitioner or whatever's memories... but before you have them do that too often in your game, it's worth keeping in mind the implications on how that knowledge will infect your players' perceptions of death.

If you want to set up death as a reward, then go for it. If you want to keep death as something to be avoided, then you should keep the concept of retaining memories to be something VERY rare.

TL;DR If the concept of a character losing memories after death is scary, then mission accomplished, because death is supposed to be scary, not a life goal to become more powerful.

I guess that makes sense. That said, isn't an afterlife in the upper planes at least MEANT to be a reward for having lived a good life?

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Yqatuba wrote:
I guess that makes sense. That said, isn't an afterlife in the upper planes at least MEANT to be a reward for having lived a good life?

Not in the way that good folks should look to kill themsleves to get there, no.

Look at it another way. A parent does everything they can to make life for their child better. Taking this analogue further, the mortal life on the Material Plane is the role of "Parent" and the petitioner who ends up living in the afterlife once the mortal dies is the "Child," so by living a life according to your beliefs, you're setting up your "child" (aka your petitioner) for a reward.

The idea of a campaign where the antagonist figured out how to use death to ascend themselves and their followers to a higher power level is extremely compelling to me. I'm imagining a newly risen Demon Lord who figured out a way around the usual petitioner memory loss who has a grudge against whoever killed them as a mortal. They would have the usual Demon Lord tricks in addition to the promise of their cultists "coming back to life" as a demon if they were killed. The demons in their service would be able to prove who they had been in mortal life in order to back up their master's claims, which would the cultists' claim all the more believable. The chance to return to see their loved ones again even if it meant becoming a demon would be enough to tempt plenty of suffering people.

Well, I guess now I know what my next campaign will be. Thanks for the inspiration James Jacobs!

Shouldn't a soul know at least the basic details of its life from having observed its own judgement even if it lost all its memories after dying?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Souls turn into Petitioners after they’ve been judged, the processing from death to judged is a bit blurry.

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I like the idea that, even if they don't remember each other, petitioners/outsiders who were lovers or the like in life would experience love at first sight if they meet, even if they don't know why.

Rysky wrote:
Souls turn into Petitioners after they’ve been judged, the processing from death to judged is a bit blurry.

I figure that's the kludge to represent "those who are dead but not judged can be resurrected, and Pharasma knows whether and when you're going to be resurrected, so will have you wait around in that case."

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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deuxhero wrote:
Shouldn't a soul know at least the basic details of its life from having observed its own judgement even if it lost all its memories after dying?

It's the process of being sent on to the afterlife itself, at the end of judgement, that does the memory wipe. Souls retain memories of life up until that point, which means that all the souls waiting in line in the Boneyard do still remember all those details. Otherwise, resurrection magic would be weird...

Death doesn't wipe the memories, in any event.

The "Kludge" mentioned above is that we don't nail down how long it takes a soul to be judged. Some get judged instantly. Others take hundreds of years to get to the front of the line. This allows for plenty of room for resurrection type stories to happen without being on a timer.

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