Could you explain to me the appeal of playing a cleric?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Seisho wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
Sapient wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:

If you don't like religion at all on some level cleric isn't for your, neither is champion.

I can play either but I don't play preachy characters.

I enjoy playing religious characters while not personally liking religion.
Few are like that. In truth

Religion in the real world and religion on golarion can not exactly be compared imo

If religion was so tangible and not just a bunch of imaginary friends I would totally be down for it

I would very much be the opposite. Lol


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I actually think there's very little correlation between real world religiosity and preference for playing characters of faith in game.

Obviously none of us have the data to support the conclusion either way, but in my experience pretty much every person I play with is atheist but we also always have characters who are devotees of one god or another.


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Martialmasters wrote:


Not in the circles I've ran in then. Yes different from yourself. But that seems to fall apart when it comes to religion.

I find that odd. To a non religious person, pretending to follow a god is generally not much different than pretending to steal from dragons or pretending to hate demons. It is easier for me to imagine religious folks who don't want to pretend to worship a god they don't really believe in in real life.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Also, I'm really appreciative of James Jacobs weighing in on threads like this.

It can be pretty daunting to discuss your personal feelings about different aspects of a setting you wrote. Lore stuff is often a writer's baby more than mechanical aspects of a rule system are. I'd feel really shy about explaining the minutia of different aspects of my worlds with a forum at large, ready to poke holes in it.

Yet another reason why I love Paizo so much.


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I'm agnostic in real life but have made it a point to make every character I play in Golarion or the Forgotten Realms religious, mainly because I find the sheer amount on non-religious adventurers you see in those settings to be a little unrealistic. And I find worship of the gods to be a great way to represent character development.

My orc tiefling liberator is in a constant struggle with her demonic heritage, and she looks to Nocticula for guidance as a deity who rose from a demon lord.


Martialmasters wrote:
Sapient wrote:
I enjoy playing religious characters while not personally liking religion.
Few are like that. In truth

I am another one!

EDIT: Although to be fair I do not often play clerics. Quite a lot of Druids and Paladins, though.

_
glass.


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Martialmasters wrote:
Sapient wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
Sapient wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:

If you don't like religion at all on some level cleric isn't for your, neither is champion.

I can play either but I don't play preachy characters.

I enjoy playing religious characters while not personally liking religion.
Few are like that. In truth
I STRONGLY disagree. The late majority of people one played with enjoy playing characters substantially different than themselves.
Not in the circles I've ran in then. Yes different from yourself. But that seems to fall apart when it comes to religion.

I expect it varies by location. What one wants out of fantasy depends a lot on what your reality is like.


My first character ever was an elf cleric of Corellon Larethian (this was DnD 3.5) and she had some shaky, shaky faith. Or rather she always had faith (because she never stopped believing) but she tended to think Corellon paid way more attention to her than was realistic. When I rolled poorly, she would say aloud, "Corellon, why have you forsaken me?!". It was great fun playing that character.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
dpb123 wrote:
My first character ever was an elf cleric of Corellon Larethian (this was DnD 3.5) and she had some shaky, shaky faith. Or rather she always had faith (because she never stopped believing) but she tended to think Corellon paid way more attention to her than was realistic. When I rolled poorly, she would say aloud, "Corellon, why have you forsaken me?!". It was great fun playing that character.

I need to make a cleric that worships the god of Being Extra


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Mathmuse wrote:
ArchSage20 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
3) I enjoy the element of "cosplaying" as a deity, which is sort of what a cleric is. Deities can serve as heroes to aspire to, muses to be inspired by, teachers to learn from, or figures to seek to honor or pay homage to.
just to make sure you understand you are not the deity in any way shape or form right?
In a Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 game, I played a cleric of Pelor. To give an impression of wisdom and humility, I had him frequently quote advice out of his favorite book, Travels with Pelor. No such book exists, I was making up the quotes on the spot.

I shortly played an Asmodean cleric and I had a lot of fun portraying his zealotry, without being a satanist in real life.

I quoted your post, Mathmuse, because I did something similar: my character decided to preach their companions by reading them one of his sacred books: "The six hundred and sixty-six Right Ways to address the Prince of Hell", everytime they took a break. Considering his low charisma too, you can guess how much they loved him...

Horizon Hunters

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I didn't know I loved playing clerics until I tried playing one in Pathfinder 2e.

Step 1: find a deity whose ideas and IDEALS you like.

Step 2: roll around, basking in the glory that is GORUM!!!

Step 3: run headlong into every battle howling things like "Witness me!" and "Gorum hold my beer and watch this!"

Step 4: crave heroic death in battle. This is different from throwing your life away fighting some wolves. To be a heroic death, you must find a dramatically appropriate moment, where your death is a meaningful sacrifice, where it has gravitas. That is a major quest, to find a moment like that.

Step 5: profit?

P.S. Heals are nice. People like them. One for me (smashing greatsword sounds) one for my homeys (heal a friend with two remaining actions).

P.P.S. In all seriousness, when people (in a game or in real life) engage in prayer, they're really talking to themselves. It's a form of meditation. By appealing to a higher power, you're mustering the strength you've had all along to do what you need to do. It's like going through the stages of grief or fear until only you remain. Gods are standins for yourself. Get off your knees and hold your head high as you charge toward certain, inevitable death. Make the best of it. Your time is now. Don't live it in fear. Live each day like it is your last, and you won't miss a thing.

Hope this helps. :)


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Corwin Icewolf wrote:
...as a cleric you're basically a servant to your deity's edicts, which already kind of sucks but then when you die you go from servant to full on slave, it seems... all your power aside from basic class things like hp actually belongs to someone else. You have power not because you personally are powerful but because your god is powerful... while I get why people in universe would worship then... I don't get why someone would want to make a character who does so.

Starting with your first point: That's a bit reversed. Nobody on Golarion is born a cleric. They accept the edicts of their deity freely, because they believe in them. And then they decide to become a cleric. It only seems 'restricted' because we create characters that have already made all those early choices in life.

I'm not sure what 'you go from servant to full on slave' means at all. As far as I know, a cleric's afterlife works much the same as the afterlife of any other class. So I'll set that one aside.

Your third point is that clerics only have their power 'on loan'. That's valid. But you're only seeing the downside, not the upside. Unless you deliberately set up your PC to fail, your deity's trust is a resource that can never be taken from you. When we GMs deprive the players of all their toys (by robbery, shipwreck, jailing, whatever) we have to plan for the simple fact that the cleric will bounce back up, fast. That 'loaned' power is insurance.

As for why people might want to prefer clerics - it's a combination of elements. Some people enjoy the moral or ethical aspects, some people enjoy the combination of weapons and magic, some are in it for the healing. I've run several because a cleric comes with built-in 'immersion' - you instantly have links to the setting, you're automatically in a cool club, and - unlike RL - you actually like your boss.


Megistone wrote:
I quoted your post, Mathmuse, because I did something similar: my character decided to preach their companions by reading them one of his sacred books: "The six hundred and sixty-six Right Ways to address the Prince of Hell", everytime they took a break. Considering his low charisma too, you can guess how much they loved him...

I will be quite surprised if you tell us that book didn't end up having an accident...


Sapient wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:


Not in the circles I've ran in then. Yes different from yourself. But that seems to fall apart when it comes to religion.

I find that odd. To a non religious person, pretending to follow a god is generally not much different than pretending to steal from dragons or pretending to hate demons. It is easier for me to imagine religious folks who don't want to pretend to worship a god they don't really believe in in real life.

Yeah, I've encountered some people who are uneasy playing a character where they have to act out faith in, essentially, a pagan deity, but I don't see anything intrinsically difficult about playing a religious character when you aren't yourself. At worst you end up playing a negative stereotype if you're hostile to the idea.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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ArchSage20 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
That said, I'm also the person who invented Desna (along with many other deities in the setting), so in a way, I am Desna, since I'm the one who decided who and what she is. :-P
may i ask what what was going on your mind when you wrote pharasma?

You may, but I'd prefer you ask questions like this in a less confrontational method. "What was going on your mind" sounds a bit like "What were you thinking when you created this trash fire" to me...

Pharasma was named Turthonir in my homebrew; she got a name change from James Sutter, if I recall correctly, and I like the new name much better.

My goal with her was to present a goddess of death that wasn't evil, that wasn't the grim reaper. By associating her with birth AND death, that helped to make her less of a cliche. And since nothing is more fundamental to the existence of life and death, it made sense that shed be impartial, and thus neutral, and also one of the most powerful deities. She needed to predate birth and death as well, so that makes her one of the oldest.

The two biggest influences on Pharasma were Death from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics and the goddess Wee Jas from the Greyhawk campaign setting, looking back now on the things that inspired me and were "going on [in my] mind" at the time.


Pharasma is my favorite Pathfinder deity. I love the idea of a Death Goddess holding court for the contested souls of mortals.

Pharasma has heavily influenced my home brewed goddess of Death, Yrune, who is much like Pharasma except that she’s childlike (complete with childlike wonder and innocence, and also creepy like horror movie pale children), and the Fates (three artists) perform for her the deeds of a soul to be judged.

Horizon Hunters

James Jacobs wrote:


You may, but I'd prefer you ask questions like this in a less confrontational method. "What was going on your mind" sounds a bit like "What were you thinking when you created this trash fire" to me...

Can you tell us who wrote Gorum? I want to buy that person a drink!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Oakblade wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


You may, but I'd prefer you ask questions like this in a less confrontational method. "What was going on your mind" sounds a bit like "What were you thinking when you created this trash fire" to me...
Can you tell us who wrote Gorum? I want to buy that person a drink!

Gorum was another of the deities I invented for my homebrew. If I recall correctly, I created him back in 1990 or thereabouts. I loved the idea of a deity who was so about warfare that he was essentially JUST armor and weapons.


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James Jacobs wrote:

You may, but I'd prefer you ask questions like this in a less confrontational method. "What was going on your mind" sounds a bit like "What were you thinking when you created this trash fire" to me...

Pharasma was named Turthonir in my homebrew; she got a name change from James Sutter, if I recall correctly, and I like the new name much better.

My goal with her was to present a goddess of death that wasn't evil, that wasn't the grim reaper. By associating her with birth AND death, that helped to make her less of a cliche. And since nothing is more fundamental to the existence of life and death, it made sense that shed be impartial, and thus neutral, and also one of the most powerful deities. She needed to predate birth and death as well, so that makes her one of the oldest.

The two biggest influences on Pharasma were Death from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics and the goddess Wee Jas from the Greyhawk campaign setting, looking back now on the things that inspired me and were "going on [in my] mind" at the time.

sorry it wasn't the intention i was thinking of a lot of different questions relating to her but i figured out it wouldn't be a good idea to flood you with questions since this isn't the goal of the thread and you probably don't have time but i couldn't fit all of then into one so i tried to keep it as simple and short as possible and it came out like that

also i do think you accomplished the objective she does come out as neutral and fair for most people in my case i'm a huge fan of undeath and immortality so don't take my feeling towards her as any form of criticism of you writing skills after all i don't think anyone could write a god of death that i would like


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James Jacobs wrote:
Gorum was another of the deities I invented for my homebrew. If I recall correctly, I created him back in 1990 or thereabouts. I loved the idea of a deity who was so about warfare that he was essentially JUST armor and weapons.

The best Gorum thing is the Bloodied Gauntlet tribe in Belkzen, locked in a constant war with their human rivals, to which it basically sounds like no outsiders are allowed to play along. :)

Thanks for all the stuff you've given us over the years, man!


Thomas5251212 wrote:
Sapient wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:


Not in the circles I've ran in then. Yes different from yourself. But that seems to fall apart when it comes to religion.

I find that odd. To a non religious person, pretending to follow a god is generally not much different than pretending to steal from dragons or pretending to hate demons. It is easier for me to imagine religious folks who don't want to pretend to worship a god they don't really believe in in real life.
Yeah, I've encountered some people who are uneasy playing a character where they have to act out faith in, essentially, a pagan deity, but I don't see anything intrinsically difficult about playing a religious character when you aren't yourself. At worst you end up playing a negative stereotype if you're hostile to the idea.

I am Wiccan myself though that's not the circles I run in. I also live in a very rural corn field farming type area. 1k people by population.


James Jacobs wrote:

My goal with her was to present a goddess of death that wasn't evil, that wasn't the grim reaper. By associating her with birth AND death, that helped to make her less of a cliche. And since nothing is more fundamental to the existence of life and death, it made sense that shed be impartial, and thus neutral, and also one of the most powerful deities. She needed to predate birth and death as well, so that makes her one of the oldest.

The two biggest influences on Pharasma were Death from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics and the goddess Wee Jas from the Greyhawk campaign setting, looking back now on the things that inspired me and were "going on [in my] mind" at the time.

Thank you for the behind the scenes lore!

By the way, speaking as a non-Westerner, why is there a tendency to portray death related paranormal elements as Evil? Is it an idea of Abrahamic religious origin, as in the "punishment for the Original Sin" thing?


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It's really weird to me how many people in the Pathfinder communities apparently take issue with Pharasma because they personally (not like, their characters) are dissatisfied with some aspect of the Pathfinder afterlife.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
It's really weird to me how many people in the Pathfinder communities apparently take issue with Pharasma because they personally (not like, their characters) are dissatisfied with some aspect of the Pathfinder afterlife.

some people play as themselves but in golarion

but one doesn't need to be directly threatened by something to dislike it that is what we refer as empathy

same reason people take an issue with the wall of the faithless even if there i no risk of then ending up there

also for most atheists all gods are fictional so only question those who have followers in real life?


Why take more of an issue with Pharasma than, for example, Asmodeus who is literally evil and cruelty personified?


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Why take more of an issue with Pharasma than, for example, Asmodeus who is literally evil and cruelty personified?

We are talking about humans here. Many do weird dumb stuff for no reason.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Lucas Yew wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

My goal with her was to present a goddess of death that wasn't evil, that wasn't the grim reaper. By associating her with birth AND death, that helped to make her less of a cliche. And since nothing is more fundamental to the existence of life and death, it made sense that shed be impartial, and thus neutral, and also one of the most powerful deities. She needed to predate birth and death as well, so that makes her one of the oldest.

The two biggest influences on Pharasma were Death from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics and the goddess Wee Jas from the Greyhawk campaign setting, looking back now on the things that inspired me and were "going on [in my] mind" at the time.

Thank you for the behind the scenes lore!

By the way, speaking as a non-Westerner, why is there a tendency to portray death related paranormal elements as Evil? Is it an idea of Abrahamic religious origin, as in the "punishment for the Original Sin" thing?

Because death is frightening.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Why take more of an issue with Pharasma than, for example, Asmodeus who is literally evil and cruelty personified?

well asmodeus is lawful evil his alignment says so hence i don't need to argue with anyone he is evil if he was neutral i would be arguing his torture, trickery etc is evil

but pharasma is neutral and axis is lawful neutral both who are known to hunt immortals and undead as well as would be deities even the mantis god is lawfull evil

so typically lawful and good character tend to fight undead and seekers of immortality or godhood while the later are portrayed as evil or chaotic

nearly everything that i identify with in the game is chaotic or evil or both so it kind of feels like the game is telling me that i'm chaotic evil even if its a game and its not the intent that is not a good feeling

its also a reflex from arguing with religious deathists who try to preach death is a good thing because god this and afterlife that and me explaining why i think humans should strive for trans-humanism and fight against the curse that is age while pointing out every downside of death in the bible (which by the way includes memory loss like a petitioner)


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Lucas Yew wrote:
By the way, speaking as a non-Westerner, why is there a tendency to portray death related paranormal elements as Evil? Is it an idea of Abrahamic religious origin, as in the "punishment for the Original Sin" thing?

Beats me. I am "western", but I started with WFRP whose god of death, Morr, is neutral (and hates undead - he is very much like Pharasma actually). So I am always confused when non-evil death gods are brought up as mould-breaking - for me they are kinda the default.

_
glass.

Silver Crusade

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ArchSage20 wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Why take more of an issue with Pharasma than, for example, Asmodeus who is literally evil and cruelty personified?

well asmodeus is lawful evil his alignment says so hence i don't need to argue with anyone he is evil if he was neutral i would be arguing his torture, trickery etc is evil

but pharasma is neutral and axis is lawful neutral both who are known to hunt immortals and undead as well as would be deities even the mantis god is lawfull evil

so typically lawful and good character tend to fight undead and seekers of immortality or godhood while the later are portrayed as evil or chaotic

nearly everything that i identify with in the game is chaotic or evil or both so it kind of feels like the game is telling me that i'm chaotic evil even if its a game and its not the intent that is not a good feeling

its also a reflex from arguing with religious deathists who try to preach death is a good thing because god this and afterlife that and me explaining why i think humans should strive for trans-humanism and fight against the curse that is age while pointing out every downside of death in the bible (which by the way includes memory loss like a petitioner)

Uh Iomedae, Irori, and Cayden Cailean aren’t evil.

Artokus Kirran, creator of the Sun Orchid Elixir, isn’t evil. Queen Galfrey, formerly of Mendev, used it and she’s a Paladin.

Liches and other undead are Evil, but they’re not the only paths to immortality either, they’re the easy way.


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Lucas Yew wrote:
By the way, speaking as a non-Westerner, why is there a tendency to portray death related paranormal elements as Evil? Is it an idea of Abrahamic religious origin, as in the "punishment for the Original Sin" thing?

I see three reasons.

1. As James said, death is frightening. It is the thing that steals away our loved ones.

2. Death is often associated with the things that cause death, which generally aren't nice things. Things like disease, poison, murder, and the like. As a related point, many settings feature Death-things as an active force as opposed to the absence of life – a corpse is different from a brick, because the corpse was once alive and is now dead, while the brick is just inert.

3. Gods of death in many settings are also associated with Undeath, and that's evil.

Liberty's Edge

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ArchSage20 wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Why take more of an issue with Pharasma than, for example, Asmodeus who is literally evil and cruelty personified?

well asmodeus is lawful evil his alignment says so hence i don't need to argue with anyone he is evil if he was neutral i would be arguing his torture, trickery etc is evil

but pharasma is neutral and axis is lawful neutral both who are known to hunt immortals and undead as well as would be deities even the mantis god is lawfull evil

Yeah, they're Neutral. Meaning they aren't Good. Meaning that all their beliefs are not endorsed by the game as good things.

ArchSage20 wrote:
so typically lawful and good character tend to fight undead and seekers of immortality or godhood while the later are portrayed as evil or chaotic

Uh...not really.

I mean, undead are portrayed as Evil, yes, but being undead is usually pretty awful for both the person doing it and those around them. As Rysky notes 'seeking immortality or godhood' is a good description of Iomedae (LG), Cayden Cailean (CG), Irori (LN), Nethys (N), and several other beings in-setting. Tar-Baphon (NE), Urgathoa (NE), and Norgorber (NE) certainly also sought immortality and godhood...but undead aside it's pretty clearly portrayed as a morally neutral act in and of itself.

ArchSage20 wrote:
nearly everything that i identify with in the game is chaotic or evil or both so it kind of feels like the game is telling me that i'm chaotic evil even if its a game and its not the intent that is not a good feeling

That sucks, and I'm sorry that you've been made to feel that way.

But, I mean, Chaotic isn't bad. Almost all my personal philosophies are explicitly Chaotic in Pathfinder, but that's not a bad thing. Chaos and Law are both, pretty definitionally, not good/bad morality judgments. That's Good and Evil.

And I'm not sure what philosophies of yours you think Pathfinder and Golarion paint as Evil, but if it's just the 'immortality searcher' thing, I think you're demonstrably incorrect that the setting says anything like that.

ArchSage20 wrote:
its also a reflex from arguing with religious deathists who try to preach death is a good thing because god this and afterlife that and me explaining why i think humans should strive for trans-humanism and fight against the curse that is age while pointing out every downside of death in the bible (which by the way includes memory loss like a petitioner)

I'm a big believer in transhumanism and trying to live forever, but I don't actually think Pathfinder as a game or Golarion as a setting have a problem with that per se. They have problems with being willing to harm innocent people in trying to do so...but frankly so do I.


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There are a great many ways to achieve effective immortality in pathfinder (at least "the ability to live long enough that you get bored with it"). Many are not inherently evil, and most will not necessarily upset Pharasma. After all, she's also the goddess of fate and it might have just been your destiny to exist for 14 trillion years.

None of them however are going to protect you from "getting murked by someone sufficiently powerful" save for "getting in that highest weight class (i.e. becoming a god.) Pathfinder definitely has that Cosmic horror bent where there's pretty much always going to be someone vastly more powerful than you with no good will towards you. I mean, all but a tiny handful liches are lightweights in the grand scheme of things.

Like how many sapient beings on Golarion would stand a good chance of surviving if Baba Yaga decided it was her personal responsibility to ensure that you ceased existing, let alone an actual god?


Staffan Johansson wrote:
Lucas Yew wrote:
By the way, speaking as a non-Westerner, why is there a tendency to portray death related paranormal elements as Evil? Is it an idea of Abrahamic religious origin, as in the "punishment for the Original Sin" thing?

I see three reasons.

1. As James said, death is frightening. It is the thing that steals away our loved ones.

2. Death is often associated with the things that cause death, which generally aren't nice things. Things like disease, poison, murder, and the like. As a related point, many settings feature Death-things as an active force as opposed to the absence of life – a corpse is different from a brick, because the corpse was once alive and is now dead, while the brick is just inert.

3. Gods of death in many settings are also associated with Undeath, and that's evil.

Death is also something that separates us from people we love. That alone is reason for us to dislike it.

Imo it makes life pretty meaningless if we'll eventually die and forget everything we've learned. It's not a matter of selfishness vs selflessness either, because most likely everyone will eventually die even if we end aging. I remember taking world religions and thinking Shinto had the best afterlife, actually. You pretty much just continue as you did in life, but... Dead. (That may not be entirely accurate as it was a pretty basic class, of course.)

Also, ArchSage20, biblical afterlives include memory loss as petitioners? That's horrible.


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Corwin Icewolf wrote:
Staffan Johansson wrote:
Lucas Yew wrote:
By the way, speaking as a non-Westerner, why is there a tendency to portray death related paranormal elements as Evil? Is it an idea of Abrahamic religious origin, as in the "punishment for the Original Sin" thing?

I see three reasons.

1. As James said, death is frightening. It is the thing that steals away our loved ones.

2. Death is often associated with the things that cause death, which generally aren't nice things. Things like disease, poison, murder, and the like. As a related point, many settings feature Death-things as an active force as opposed to the absence of life – a corpse is different from a brick, because the corpse was once alive and is now dead, while the brick is just inert.

3. Gods of death in many settings are also associated with Undeath, and that's evil.

Death is also something that separates us from people we love. That alone is reason for us to dislike it.

Imo it makes life pretty meaningless if we'll eventually die and forget everything we've learned. It's not a matter of selfishness vs selflessness either, because most likely everyone will eventually die even if we end aging. I remember taking world religions and thinking Shinto had the best afterlife, actually. You pretty much just continue as you did in life, but... Dead. (That may not be entirely accurate as it was a pretty basic class, of course.)

Also, ArchSage20, biblical afterlives include memory loss as petitioners? That's horrible.

Death is also seen as a release from the pain of life. There are many places that celebrate the death of their own.

As for Golarion afterlife it really depends on a lot what type of afterlife you get. Which is why Pharasma is an impartial judge over it. She has a very similar vibe to Hades, where her job is making sure the afterlife functions properly and no one is cheating it.

Btw, many midwives (the people who handle births) are followers of Pharasma. So people certainly dont fear her.


Corwin Icewolf wrote:


Also, ArchSage20, biblical afterlives include memory loss as petitioners? That's horrible.

I saw it depends on the denomination my faith does believe them in that but I'm not versed in all Christian denomination. But this is not the place for real word religion discussion.


Lucas Yew wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

My goal with her was to present a goddess of death that wasn't evil, that wasn't the grim reaper. By associating her with birth AND death, that helped to make her less of a cliche. And since nothing is more fundamental to the existence of life and death, it made sense that shed be impartial, and thus neutral, and also one of the most powerful deities. She needed to predate birth and death as well, so that makes her one of the oldest.

The two biggest influences on Pharasma were Death from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics and the goddess Wee Jas from the Greyhawk campaign setting, looking back now on the things that inspired me and were "going on [in my] mind" at the time.

Thank you for the behind the scenes lore!

By the way, speaking as a non-Westerner, why is there a tendency to portray death related paranormal elements as Evil? Is it an idea of Abrahamic religious origin, as in the "punishment for the Original Sin" thing?

Where are you from? It isn't only Westerners that make death scary. Some of the scariest ghost horror I've ever seen is from Asian culture. They make ghosts and dying into some frightening stories. I doubt it is just a Western trope.

Now if you were from Middle Eastern culture, I could see the difference. Middle Eastern folk don't seem to worry too much about death. But the jinn or ifrit are like ghosts. I've seen some scary stories involving the jin.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Pawns, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think it's easy to be immediately horrified by petitioners losing their memory and such, but it'd be far worse for the after life to be nothing at all, for there to be a true end instead of an end. And there have to be endings. It's just the nature of things. The Golarion system of becoming a being embodying the alignment of the plane you most associate with reminds me very much of the Buddhist notion of your life being a wave, and death being your return to the ocean. You were thrown up as a wave on the shores of the material plane and then you return to the ocean a petitioner. It's beautiful in its way.


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A large amount of the Western world is Christian, which has a very specific and idealized afterlife. Eternal paradise in whatever form that implies.

For most other cultures and religions (including Judaism!), the idea of such an afterlife is foreign. The idea of conscious persistence after death is something that the majority of the world does not believe in.

As such, the idea of losing your memories upon death before an impartial figure of judgment is an uncomfortable anathema to Christian ideals, while it is less uncomfortable to faiths who believe in reincarnation, or no afterlife at all.


You know tho really it doesn't make sense that christian's view death negatively unless you know your being sinful and are afraid of judgement... hmm actually maybe it does make sense...


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Sapient wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:

If you don't like religion at all on some level cleric isn't for your, neither is champion.

I can play either but I don't play preachy characters.

I enjoy playing religious characters while not personally liking religion.

I'm pretty much the opposite. In real life I'm strongly Christian, and that makes playing religious characters feel rather awkward. Interestingly, it's not exactly the "pretending to worship another god feels like idolatory" problem, though. The thing is, the "gods" of Pathfinder (and D&D) seem...well, kind of rubbish and not worthy of worship. They're simply another type of creature within creation, not the One who created it all and is behind all things. In many cases they're simply humans who happened to gain a lot of power, in one case by accident! The whole "gods need prayer badly" trope is also problematic for me, and the idea that the cleric's power comes from "faith" rather than from the god feels like an awkward sort of distortion of ideas from Christianity. In short, my worldview would make me a textbook "atheist" in Golarion's terms, precisely because I'm a Christian. And that means that I view any character worshipping them as...at best woefully misguided and rather tragic. Which can be interesting to roleplay, but isn't something I'd want to play as with every character.

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Also, ArchSage20, biblical afterlives include memory loss as petitioners? That's horrible.
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You know tho really it doesn't make sense that christian's view death negatively unless you know your being sinful and are afraid of judgement... hmm actually maybe it does make sense...

While I'm here perhaps I can quickly clear up a couple of misunderstandings about Christianity.

Loss of Memories:
I've never heard of any denomination which believes in the loss of your memories after you die (at least, not if you get to go to heaven). I think maybe that idea comes from Dante? It seems rather contradictory to the Bible, to be honest. For example, in the Bible, Moses and Elijah - long dead by this point - show up to talk to Jesus at the Transfiguration. Jesus told a parable about a poor man called Lazarus who dies and goes to heaven, and clearly still remembers his identity. Revelation portrays martyrs who clearly still remember their martyrdom and cry out to God about it. Catholics and Orthodox Christians clearly don't think that sort of loss of identity is a thing, since (putting it very crudely) they think they can talk to saints and said saints will have a special interest in the things that were relevant to them before they died.

Also, I think the idea of losing your identity like that being a good thing would go against the whole point of God's approach to humanity portrayed in the Bible. According to the Bible, he loves us and wants us to be his children. He could have simply turned us into a bunch of clones serving him. It would have been a lot easier for him, as it wouldn't have involved going to the cross. But he didn't do that, because he cares about us as individuals. His end goal for us is that we should become more like Jesus in our outlook and love for him and each other, while still remaining recognisably ourselves.

While I'm speaking without a great deal of knowledge, I think the idea of forgetting your memories being a good thing would fit better into Buddhism, where the point seems to be to lose your identity and escape from the illusion of "self", sort of ceasing to exist in the sense we would normally understand it. But I don't know much about it, so take that with a pinch of salt. Any Buddhists around who can confirm that one?

View of Death:
The Bible kind of discusses two different meanings of "death". Physical death means what you'd normally think of by "death" - the body stops working, and (to skip over some important temporal details) you go to heaven or hell. But you can also be spiritually dead, meaning you're a sinner, are separated from God, and are on a path to hell if no one intervenes. This is the "normal" state of every human being thanks to original sin and the fall, but Jesus' death and resurrection means that can be solved - you can be forgiven and restored to spiritual life.

Physical death is described in the Bible as also being a consequence of original sin, an unnatural thing to happen to us. If someone dies physically while spiritually dead, that's an unmitigated disaster. However, Jesus has conquered death and if you trust in him there's no need to be afraid of physical death on its own - while it's unnatural God has turned it to our advantage, using it as a way to bring us out of this flawed world and into paradise. So theoretically, there's no logical reason to fear what will happen after death any more, and if we believe the Bible we shouldn't be afraid of it. But it's still unpleasant and unnatural, and involves separation from our loved ones here on Earth. And frankly, we're still flawed. None of us have perfect faith, and death is naturally a very frightening thing, so it's not very surprising we don't generally manage to fully follow through on not fearing it. We know we have been sinful in the past - that's kind of core to being a Christian, actually - and we're about to reach the crunch point where we really find out if we were right to rely on Jesus to save us from judgement. So yeah, there is an element of fear of judgement in there, even though the Bible says we don't need to fear that.


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Corwin Icewolf wrote:
Imo it makes life pretty meaningless if we'll eventually die and forget everything we've learned.

Perhaps. But there is a phrase from the TV Show Angel, of all places, that sum up things for me: "If nothing we do matters, the only thing that matters is what we do."

In other words, if there is no Great Plan, if there is no Eternal Reward... make sure that your actions make the world itself a better place, because that's all we've got.

Scarab Sages

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pi3t wrote:
The whole "gods need prayer badly" trope is also problematic for me...

Gods do not need prayer in Pathfinder. I think that is true in several DnD settings, but in Pathfinder unpopular deities can be as powerful as widely-worshpped ones.

Shadow Lodge

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Corwin Icewolf wrote:
Trying not to be confrontational about this question, but... I genuinely don't get it.

All will be revealed.


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I'll be honest, I don't even retain all my memories while I'm alive.


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I will like to point out that the qualification for giving out spells is not being a deity. Its having a large amount of divinity/power.

It why you can worship empyreal lords, demonic lords, first world elders, great old ones, etc. and still get spells.


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"You can grant spells to people" was a 3rd tier mythic universal path ability in PF1. People in the WotR party could do it at level 9.

Liberty's Edge

Unpleasant eternal afterlife is far from being only a Christian possibility : check the Greek, Norse, Egyptian mythologies (and many others I would guess).

Death is the great unknown and for cultures who believe in undead (many of them worldwide in history), the origin point of terrible monsters. Not to mention that the circumstances of death are rarely peaceful. And it cuts short the life of many innocent people.

It is not hard to see Death deities as frightening and possibly Evil.

Neil Gaiman's Death is incredible for being so far from the dreaded Grim Reaper.

I love "The sound of her wings" BTW.

Dark Archive

Staffan Johansson wrote:
Corwin Icewolf wrote:
Imo it makes life pretty meaningless if we'll eventually die and forget everything we've learned.

Perhaps. But there is a phrase from the TV Show Angel, of all places, that sum up things for me: "If nothing we do matters, the only thing that matters is what we do."

In other words, if there is no Great Plan, if there is no Eternal Reward... make sure that your actions make the world itself a better place, because that's all we've got.

*shrugs* Is everything meaningless because everything ends?

Its part of why I argue that nihilism is actually pretty comforting thought, lack of intrinsic values is just nature of reality while on other hand its hard to argue that life has meaning if you see death as the end and you don't believe in legacy :p

It is indeed much better to make your own meaning for things than trying to find meaning in reality, especially when it really seems cruel and depressing.

(sorry, I'm mostly talking to myself here because depressing s~#! is happening in my life and this topic is actually really meditative to me :p )


Maybe things are meaningful because they do end. (I can't remember what movie I'm quoting/paraphrasing. )

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