Opinion: the ‘good’ gods of Golarion are not perfect


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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The thing about creating an imaginary world, is that you need some thing for the audience to grab on to. If everything is totally unfamiliar, then people are going to be lost. That's why we see so many fantasy worlds with Elves and Dwarves, instead of Whizpeebs and Glaznooqs- people have an idea of what an Elf and a Dwarf is. At that point all you need to do is to lay out "here's how our Elves are different from other Elves."

It's not really different when it comes to "basing a fantastic setting on a real world thing." Nobody can be correct about "here's how vampires work" because vampires are a made up thing, and they work however the author says they work, so it doesn't matter if you get "vampire lore" correct so long as you've adequately explained how vampires work in this world. Likewise it doesn't actually matter that your "fantasy setting based on 14th century France" is actually in any way like the real historical 14th century France. What you're trying to get is that "people have an idea of what 14th century France is like" and it doesn't matter if that idea is historically accurate or not, since again this is a fantasy world and your setting is different from 14th century France (because the real one didn't have Elves or Vampires) and you've presumably shown how it differs from the real one.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I love the argument of "this thing is vaguely based on this real world mythology, therefore it has to be exactly like that real world mythology!"

And yet somehow if you have some random Spartan running around killing the Greek gods and many of the Greek gods acting horribly out of character, that's just artistic license - but if you have a god who just happens to have a couple themes in common with a few different real world gods not be mysogynistic, that's "forcing modern morality onto history".

What an incredibly foolish mindset.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

The thing about creating an imaginary world, is that you need some thing for the audience to grab on to. If everything is totally unfamiliar, then people are going to be lost. That's why we see so many fantasy worlds with Elves and Dwarves, instead of Whizpeebs and Glaznooqs- people have an idea of what an Elf and a Dwarf is. At that point all you need to do is to lay out "here's how our Elves are different from other Elves."

It's not really different when it comes to "basing a fantastic setting on a real world thing." Nobody can be correct about "here's how vampires work" because vampires are a made up thing, and they work however the author says they work, so it doesn't matter if you get "vampire lore" correct so long as you've adequately explained how vampires work in this world. Likewise it doesn't actually matter that your "fantasy setting based on 14th century France" is actually in any way like the real historical 14th century France. What you're trying to get is that "people have an idea of what 14th century France is like" and it doesn't matter if that idea is historically accurate or not, since again this is a fantasy world and your setting is different from 14th century France (because the real one didn't have Elves or Vampires) and you've presumably shown how it differs from the real one.

In fact, if you made it accurate to 14th century France rather than to casual conceptions of 14th century France, you'd still need to explain all the ways it's different from what a casual reader would expect. Not all that different in world-building than explaining a fantasy world inspired by the same culture.


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I think a lot of the hubbub around Erastil stems from conflating "traditional gender roles within families" with "horrible misogynist bigotry."

Granted, the way it was worded in the original Erastil article was... not great. I get that the times, they are a-changin', but the concept of the husband being the breadwinner and the wife keeping the home isn't a human rights violation, it's just old-fashioned.


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The thing with Golarion is it is basically the world as the modern west coast liberal believes it should be, which isn't a surprise considering where Paizo is located. Good and Evil are measurable parts of the world and are easy labels for what is okay to attack. Through the availability of magic, sex/race can be changed at the drop of a hat, which isn't to say that there were any differences between the sexes to begin with in Golarion (other than what parts they have, if even that). Members of the acronym make up large portions of the population. Vigilante killings are largely considered good, but the death penalty is considered bad.

Using a different moral lens requires breaking Golarion canon or using a different setting.

Liberty's Edge

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Sandal Fury wrote:

I think a lot of the hubbub around Erastil stems from conflating "traditional gender roles within families" with "horrible misogynist bigotry."

Granted, the way it was worded in the original Erastil article was... not great. I get that the times, they are a-changin', but the concept of the husband being the breadwinner and the wife keeping the home isn't a human rights violation, it's just old-fashioned.

TBH it has been and still is the cover, or even the root cause, for a huge lot of human rights violations.


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I feel like "traditional gender norms" is not a thing that Erastil should care about Traditions are good for the community, but they're good because they bring the community together, not because they're traditional. At some point the tradition might be worse for the community than a different new tradition, and at that point Erastil wants what's best for the community.

Like Erastil's preference for "people in the community" is that everybody finds a role where:
- They benefit the community
- They feel appreciated by the community
- They enjoy or find other value in what they are doing.

He likewise cares that:
- Children are cared for
- Children are provided for
- Children are protected

Beyond those things though, I think he mostly trusts that communities are able to figure it out. Being the god of communities means that you're not just going to proscribe one true way for things to work in all places, at all times, for all people.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Sandal Fury wrote:

I think a lot of the hubbub around Erastil stems from conflating "traditional gender roles within families" with "horrible misogynist bigotry."

Granted, the way it was worded in the original Erastil article was... not great. I get that the times, they are a-changin', but the concept of the husband being the breadwinner and the wife keeping the home isn't a human rights violation, it's just old-fashioned.

Not great?!

That's the understatement of the century. He originally was written as thinking that independent women of any sort were a problem. A problem to be solved by forcing them into marriage and pregnancy, so they'll shut up and listen to their man. That's not "not great" that's deeply problematic and alienating to literally half of your population.

Liberty's Edge

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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I feel like "traditional gender norms" is not a thing that Erastil should care about Traditions are good for the community, but they're good because they bring the community together, not because they're traditional. At some point the tradition might be worse for the community than a different new tradition, and at that point Erastil wants what's best for the community.

Like Erastil's preference for "people in the community" is that everybody finds a role where:
- They benefit the community
- They feel appreciated by the community
- They enjoy or find other value in what they are doing.

He likewise cares that:
- Children are cared for
- Children are provided for
- Children are protected

Beyond those things though, I think he mostly trusts that communities are able to figure it out. Being the god of communities means that you're not just going to proscribe one true way for things to work in all places, at all times, for all people.

Lawful tends to see tradition as the best way to do things, validated by your elders and ancestors. So, nothing to be lightly or carelessly discarded. Now, if tradition is used to endorse Evil, then Good (including Lawful Good) will fight against it.

Lawful Good, being highly respectful of law and structures, is likely to try and find some way to respect the letter of the law as much as they can while turning away from its Evil spirit.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cori Marie wrote:
Sandal Fury wrote:

I think a lot of the hubbub around Erastil stems from conflating "traditional gender roles within families" with "horrible misogynist bigotry."

Granted, the way it was worded in the original Erastil article was... not great. I get that the times, they are a-changin', but the concept of the husband being the breadwinner and the wife keeping the home isn't a human rights violation, it's just old-fashioned.

Not great?!

That's the understatement of the century. He originally was written as thinking that independent women of any sort were a problem. A problem to be solved by forcing them into marriage and pregnancy, so they'll shut up and listen to their man. That's not "not great" that's deeply problematic and alienating to literally half of your population.

I was being facetious, but yes, that's precisely my point. The concept of traditional family structure is not in and of itself a bad thing. But the way it was presented in the Erastil writeup was very nearly the worst possible interpretation/implementation (it only really could have been worse if it just staight-up said "Erastil thinks womens ain't got no rights").

Silver Crusade

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That’s more or less what it did say.

“The concept of traditional family structure is not in and of itself a bad thing.”

Except it is, you have to have a mother and father. Mother has to do this. Father has to do this. No deviations.

That’s not a good thing, especially with how negative a lot of those things were.


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The Raven Black wrote:

Lawful tends to see tradition as the best way to do things, validated by your elders and ancestors. So, nothing to be lightly or carelessly discarded. Now, if tradition is used to endorse Evil, then Good (including Lawful Good) will fight against it.

Lawful Good, being highly respectful of law and structures, is likely to try and find some way to respect the letter of the law as much as they can while turning away from its Evil spirit.

From my perspective, "traditions are important no matter what" is a LN thing, not an LG or LE thing. But just like how an LG entity would approach "bad laws" via "let us instead change them to better laws" they would similarly approach "bad traditions" via "change them to better traditions."

Of course, each entity is going to have a different standard to judge "what is desirable" but for Erastil he's going to value "bringing the community together" higher than he does "tradition" so if a tradition is sowing discord in a community or creating hard feelings or divisions, then he would almost surely want it altered so it stops doing that.

The other thing about Erastil and gender is that gender norms are going to vary from culture to culture, and Erastil is generally aware of the entire universe. So if people on one continent on Earth do it one way, and people on one continent on Akiton do it another way, and people on one continent on Golarion do it yet another way those are all basically fine. If one society in one place shifts their notion of gender to more closely mimic a model of gender that worked for other societies in other places or at other times, Erastil couldn't consider that to be a bad thing.

Silver Crusade

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Cori Marie wrote:
that's deeply problematic and alienating to literally half of your population.

I KNOW that you realize the following and I hesitated to post this as it kinda feels like the "All lives Matter" garbage defense.

But I think its worth pointing out that you're alienating far MORE than half of the population. Quite a few of us cisgendered males (even us old farts born into significantly different times) ALSO find that deeply problematic and alienating.


pauljathome wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
that's deeply problematic and alienating to literally half of your population.

I KNOW that you realize the following and I hesitated to post this as it kinda feels like the "All lives Matter" garbage defense.

But I think its worth pointing out that you're alienating far MORE than half of the population. Quite a few of us cisgendered males (even us old farts born into significantly different times) ALSO find that deeply problematic and alienating.

Cori Marie's full quote is

"He originally was written as thinking that independent women of any sort were a problem. A problem to be solved by forcing them into marriage and pregnancy, so they'll shut up and listen to their man. "

I really hope that more than half of the population doesn't feel this way.

EDIT: Wait, could you explain where you're directing that "you" there? That changes a lot.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

Lawful tends to see tradition as the best way to do things, validated by your elders and ancestors. So, nothing to be lightly or carelessly discarded. Now, if tradition is used to endorse Evil, then Good (including Lawful Good) will fight against it.

Lawful Good, being highly respectful of law and structures, is likely to try and find some way to respect the letter of the law as much as they can while turning away from its Evil spirit.

From my perspective, "traditions are important no matter what" is a LN thing, not an LG or LE thing. But just like how an LG entity would approach "bad laws" via "let us instead change them to better laws" they would similarly approach "bad traditions" via "change them to better traditions."

Of course, each entity is going to have a different standard to judge "what is desirable" but for Erastil he's going to value "bringing the community together" higher than he does "tradition" so if a tradition is sowing discord in a community or creating hard feelings or divisions, then he would almost surely want it altered so it stops doing that.

The other thing about Erastil and gender is that gender norms are going to vary from culture to culture, and Erastil is generally aware of the entire universe. So if people on one continent on Earth do it one way, and people on one continent on Akiton do it another way, and people on one continent on Golarion do it yet another way those are all basically fine. If one society in one place shifts their notion of gender to more closely mimic a model of gender that worked for other societies in other places or at other times, Erastil couldn't consider that to be a bad thing.

The other problem there for Erastil and "traditional" views on women's roles is that those are only really traditional from our perspective. There's no indication that such gender division have even been traditionally widespread on Golarion, so there's no reason a deity that values tradition would value them for that reason.

It does make sense that a writer in our world thinking of things that were traditional values here would attribute them to a deity that values tradition without really thinking it through.

Silver Crusade

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Ruzza wrote:
pauljathome wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
that's deeply problematic and alienating to literally half of your population.

I KNOW that you realize the following and I hesitated to post this as it kinda feels like the "All lives Matter" garbage defense.

But I think its worth pointing out that you're alienating far MORE than half of the population. Quite a few of us cisgendered males (even us old farts born into significantly different times) ALSO find that deeply problematic and alienating.

Cori Marie's full quote is

"He originally was written as thinking that independent women of any sort were a problem. A problem to be solved by forcing them into marriage and pregnancy, so they'll shut up and listen to their man. "

I really hope that more than half of the population doesn't feel this way.

EDIT: Wait, could you explain where you're directing that "you" there? That changes a lot.

Sorry. To make things worse, my "you's" refer to different people. I'll rephrase myself

I KNOW that Cori realizes that many males are ALSO alienated by Paizo's original portrayal of Erastil but I thought I'd explicitly point it out.


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Rysky wrote:

Having a paragon of Good, something literally made of Good, be a bigot okays bigotry, you claiming otherwise doesn’t make it not be true, and gives a bigots a foot in the door to justify themselves. Trying to spin it as absolutes misses the point. It doesn’t “undo” all the other good he did, but the good he did doesn’t undo him being a misogynist, and we’re left with a god of Good, the biggest Good you can get, be a misogynist. That sends a message.

A horrible one that was excised so you’re beating a long dead and rotting horse.

Thing is, and I think that was the original point of the thread, Erastil is not "literally made of Good". Erastil is a god that's on-balance good, but it's more that when you add up the values he espouses and sum them up, you get a number that's far enough in the positive column to qualify for being Good. But Erastil is not the definition of good.

If we step back from the particulars of Erastil for the moment (because they're particularly infected, and have also been retconned, or possibly that's a double retcon depending on how you look at it), we could instead look at Torag. One of Torag's anathema is "show mercy to the enemies of your people". In Gods & Magic, this is expanded upon: "Toragdans believe in destroying the community’s enemies, lest showing mercy lead to further bloodshed down the line". That is horrifying, and possibly genocidal. I would argue that it's only Torag's focus on defense rather than offense that prevents something like that from actually being Evil, but as it is I'd bargain it down to Neutral. But that doesn't make Torag Lawful Neutral himself, he's still Lawful Good, just with some aspects that are less so.

Paizo Employee Director of Community

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Taking a moment to clear out the flags. Trying to keep this thread within community guidelines while still giving space for debate. Thanks to everyone for helping keep the thread open by keeping an eye on the content of their posts.


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Cori Marie wrote:
Sandal Fury wrote:

I think a lot of the hubbub around Erastil stems from conflating "traditional gender roles within families" with "horrible misogynist bigotry."

Granted, the way it was worded in the original Erastil article was... not great. I get that the times, they are a-changin', but the concept of the husband being the breadwinner and the wife keeping the home isn't a human rights violation, it's just old-fashioned.

Not great?!

That's the understatement of the century. He originally was written as thinking that independent women of any sort were a problem. A problem to be solved by forcing them into marriage and pregnancy, so they'll shut up and listen to their man. That's not "not great" that's deeply problematic and alienating to literally half of your population.

I did not read much on Erastil until Kingmaker when a player of mine played a female Erastil character. The idea of Erastil was he did believe in patriarchal rule, but more of a protective patriarchal rule due to the hard circumstances of rural life. I don't think that would be considered evil unless you took only the dark parts of patriarchal rule and not the parts that were protective and dutiful. I think Erastil was embodying more of the role of a protective father figure who viewed the role of patriarch as an important male duty and not some means to oppress women. His faith wasn't really a power seeking, political faith, but more of a hard rural living faith that eschewed civilization for the natural world.

Then again I don't really understand how these roles would have developed in an egalitarian world of magic where women and men were equally proficient at obtaining power through magic. It didn't really make sense, so I never ran it in that fashion given followers of Erastil had no means to assert patriarchal rule.

I eliminated that part of Erastil pretty early. You can't justify patriarchal rule when neither gender has an advantage over the other. There is too much easily obtained magical power for anyone seeking it out.

I imagine you could tell an interesting fantasy story about forced patriarchal rule in Golarion where a woman unseats their power by acquiring power of her own to defeat the patriarchs. It would be pretty rare in Golarion. There are ton of powerful goddesses and female priests, wizards, and the like. I don't see why Erastil would even bother to incorporate patriarchal rule given both males and females who worshipped could equally manifest his power and faith.

Erastil in Golarion would embrace marriage, family, and home and have both men and women participate in his priesthood equally. A patriarchy doesn't work in Golarion or most gaming fantasy worlds because there is no advantage based on gender.

Silver Crusade

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“Thing is, and I think that was the original point of the thread, Erastil is not "literally made of Good".”

He kinda is, similar to the Immortals who serve him, being a primordial Good deity, and as such is a banner for what Good is.

Torag is on the extreme end and has the potential for horrors I’ll fully agree there.


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last time I checked gods are not made of the aligned planes. They just live there. There are a few exceptions mainly in the Demon/Empyreal/Protean Lords. But even then they are a lot more flexible than the common creatures of those planes.

Erastil is not more made of the good planes than Asmodeus is made of the evil planes. Also note that if Erastil was made of "LAWFUL GOOD" quintessence he wouldn't be a god of nature and be against city living. Axis is super far from the type of society that Erastil wants for his followers, him preferring something more like Elysium but without all the chaos.


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I think the way to view Torag is that his thing is Defensive War so "the enemies of your people" is clearly defined- the people who are attacking you in your home, city, stronghold, etc.

The relatives of the people who are attacking you, insofar as they are not attacking you, are not the enemies of your people.


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Also it's important to note that there are two forms of giving mercy:

1. Not killing people who have surrendered. You can still imprison them.

2. Bringing enemy to a quick death without letting them suffer. (The concept of a "good death")

Silver Crusade

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“note that if Erastil was made of "LAWFUL GOOD" quintessence he wouldn't be a god of nature and be against city living.”

This doesn’t make any sense in the slightest.

Also Axis is LN, Heaven is LG.


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Quintenssence is the in lore material that planes are made of. It's what makes up planar creature native to those planes.

Also have you read what heaven is like. That place is a literal infinite mountain of beaurocracy. Erastil's home there is effectively a corner of farmland in what otherwise is a huge city.

My point still stands that the typical "lawful" part of him would be entirely against city living despite most other lawful areas being cities and city like.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

You’ve never played an adventure in Heaven, I see.

Silver Crusade

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"Also have you read what heaven is like."

Have you?

"My point still stands that the typical "lawful" part of him would be entirely against city living despite most other lawful areas being cities and city like."

Your "point" is a concoction of your own making that doesn't have any basis in anything. Lawful and city/not-city living have nothing to do with each other.


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Law-as-civilization/society and Chaos-as-nature/wilderness is a classic alignment trope in D&D but not one which is very strongly represented in Pathfinder's interpretation of alignment. In Pathfinder alignment forces are indeed literal cosmic forces, but not impersonal ones. They are tied more strongly to morality and philosophy, not to cities vs. wilderness.

There is an element of that in the Axis vs. Maelstrom divide in particular, but you can be lawful and still favour a peaceful, orderly existence in a natural environment.

Speaking directly of Heaven, if I crack open Planar Adventures to my left here, I read that there are enormous mountain slopes, endless plains, yawning chasms, and vast lakes to accommodate the natural environments of all petitioners. Certainly there are plenty of cities--lawful people do love society, but that society is not guaranteed to be 'big city life' so much as it merely must be orderly.


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Heaven vs Elysum. Elysium is a lot more wild.
Axis vs Maelstrom. Axis is a lot more city.
etc. Lawful tends to be less wild, Chaos then to be more wild. Erastil values having a community more than wilderness, thus he is lawful. But he is not so lawful that he wants cities.

Besides I was not saying that there are only cities, but that they tend to favor cities. My point regardless was that alignment is not something that is set and a single god embodies perfectly. There are many variation and quirks on what the gods like.

If you look at Erastil you would think that Lawful Good would be to live a pastoral life tending a farm. But looking else where in heaven you have gods living in cities being generally cosmopolitan. If you look at Erastil alone for what is "Good" then you are missing the version of "Good" embodied by Desna or Iomedae. If you look at him to what "Lawful" is then you miss Abadar and Asmodeus.

***************
There I expressed myself better I think.


Rysky wrote:

“Thing is, and I think that was the original point of the thread, Erastil is not "literally made of Good".”

He kinda is, similar to the Immortals who serve him, being a primordial Good deity, and as such is a banner for what Good is.

Torag is on the extreme end and has the potential for horrors I’ll fully agree there.

Wasn't part of the problem with Torag was that he was...okay..with some truly horrific actions, or at least silent on them?

Liberty's Edge

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Some people have always tried to depict Torag as the LG deity of genocide, which he is not.

These people tend to love Ragathiel, because really all they want is to be able to wear the LG badge while going on killing sprees against whole populations because "Good does not mean stupid or weak". Which is all pretty much Evil, but don't you dare tell them that.

Silver Crusade

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“Heaven vs Elysum. Elysium is a lot more wild.
Axis vs Maelstrom. Axis is a lot more city.
etc. Lawful tends to be less wild, Chaos then to be more wild. Erastil values having a community more than wilderness, thus he is lawful. But he is not so lawful that he wants cities.”

These are associations you’ve made on your own than anything backed up by the books. Wild as in Chaotic and wild as in the woods are two completely different things.

Erastil likes small communities cause he’s Erastil, not because he’s Lawful or Good.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
Sandal Fury wrote:

I think a lot of the hubbub around Erastil stems from conflating "traditional gender roles within families" with "horrible misogynist bigotry."

Granted, the way it was worded in the original Erastil article was... not great. I get that the times, they are a-changin', but the concept of the husband being the breadwinner and the wife keeping the home isn't a human rights violation, it's just old-fashioned.

Not great?!

That's the understatement of the century. He originally was written as thinking that independent women of any sort were a problem. A problem to be solved by forcing them into marriage and pregnancy, so they'll shut up and listen to their man. That's not "not great" that's deeply problematic and alienating to literally half of your population.

I did not read much on Erastil until Kingmaker when a player of mine played a female Erastil character. The idea of Erastil was he did believe in patriarchal rule, but more of a protective patriarchal rule due to the hard circumstances of rural life. I don't think that would be considered evil unless you took only the dark parts of patriarchal rule and not the parts that were protective and dutiful. I think Erastil was embodying more of the role of a protective father figure who viewed the role of patriarch as an important male duty and not some means to oppress women. His faith wasn't really a power seeking, political faith, but more of a hard rural living faith that eschewed civilization for the natural world.

Then again I don't really understand how these roles would have developed in an egalitarian world of magic where women and men were equally proficient at obtaining power through magic. It didn't really make sense, so I never ran it in that fashion given followers of Erastil had no means to assert patriarchal rule.

I eliminated that part of Erastil pretty early. You can't justify patriarchal rule when neither gender has an advantage over the other. There is...

Okay but the quotes that I took were taken directly from Kingmaker volume 2. They did not get retconned until Inner Sea Gods. So if you didn't read much on him until Kingmaker, neither did anyone else, but part of what was presented in Kingmaker was the aggressively patriarchal views I mentioned, that strong and independent women are bad and need to be broken into obedience by a stronger husband.


The Raven Black wrote:

Some people have always tried to depict Torag as the LG deity of genocide, which he is not.

These people tend to love Ragathiel, because really all they want is to be able to wear the LG badge while going on killing sprees against whole populations because "Good does not mean stupid or weak". Which is all pretty much Evil, but don't you dare tell them that.

So Dark Helmet was right? Good really is dumb?


Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
Law-as-civilization/society and Chaos-as-nature/wilderness is a classic alignment trope in D&D but not one which is very strongly represented in Pathfinder's interpretation of alignment.

indeed. Hanging out in the James Jacobs thread reminds me of how long Golarion has existed as a home game before we all ever saw it, much less started playing in it. There are some dated elements that need to be reviewed, and already have been by many.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Rysky wrote:

“Thing is, and I think that was the original point of the thread, Erastil is not "literally made of Good".”

He kinda is, similar to the Immortals who serve him, being a primordial Good deity, and as such is a banner for what Good is.

Torag is on the extreme end and has the potential for horrors I’ll fully agree there.

Erastil is definitely a banner for what Good is, but I think the "literally made of Good" idea is problematic - it would imply that the Goodly deities are incapable of taking non-good actions, and we have stories about them that directly contradict that. Sarenrae is also a primordial Good deity and one time she got so mad that she deleted an entire city, which is definitely not a Good action.

Freehold DM wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

Some people have always tried to depict Torag as the LG deity of genocide, which he is not.

These people tend to love Ragathiel, because really all they want is to be able to wear the LG badge while going on killing sprees against whole populations because "Good does not mean stupid or weak". Which is all pretty much Evil, but don't you dare tell them that.

So Dark Helmet was right? Good really is dumb?

I can't resist quoting my favorite troll doll Hellknight here: "Stop blaming your incompetence on cosmic forces. The side of good isn't weak, it's you."


MaxAstro wrote:
Rysky wrote:

“Thing is, and I think that was the original point of the thread, Erastil is not "literally made of Good".”

He kinda is, similar to the Immortals who serve him, being a primordial Good deity, and as such is a banner for what Good is.

Torag is on the extreme end and has the potential for horrors I’ll fully agree there.

Erastil is definitely a banner for what Good is, but I think the "literally made of Good" idea is problematic - it would imply that the Goodly deities are incapable of taking non-good actions, and we have stories about them that directly contradict that. Sarenrae is also a primordial Good deity and one time she got so mad that she deleted an entire city, which is definitely not a Good action.

I prefer the interpretation that it was Good. We may not like it. We can even disagree that such a reaction was necessary, but Sarenrae smote a town to the ground and it was Good because Sarenrae cannot do evil. Were there other also Good options? Sure. Did Sarenrae choose to do them? Nope.

Burning a city of unrepentant Rovogug worshippers to the ground isn't evil. PCs could do it and it would barely raise an eyebrow.

This was part of the reason why people were quite irate at Iomedae in Wrath of the Righteous. Iomeadae cannot do evil, but there was a whole scene of...'That's mighty dubious behavior from a paladin, is that okay?'

Radiant Oath

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MaxAstro wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

Some people have always tried to depict Torag as the LG deity of genocide, which he is not.

These people tend to love Ragathiel, because really all they want is to be able to wear the LG badge while going on killing sprees against whole populations because "Good does not mean stupid or weak". Which is all pretty much Evil, but don't you dare tell them that.

So Dark Helmet was right? Good really is dumb?
I can't resist quoting my favorite troll doll Hellknight here: "Stop blaming your incompetence on cosmic forces. The side of good isn't weak, it's you."

On the flipside, though, Evil can be just as dunderheaded. I feel like this bit of musing about Pathfinder's progenitor sums it up better than I could. Despite Pathfinder being its own setting and game, I feel this thru-line has continued, even if it lacks the specific examples the writer cites.

And Dark Helmet and the rest of the Spaceballs folks are arguably proof of this as well, as their failure is as much a product of their own bumbling and callousness to each other as it is Lone Star et al's efforts.

Even IF good is dumb, Tar-Baphon, Geb, Razmir, Asmodeus, Deskari, etc. are such a bunch of losers themselves that it kind of balances out in good's favor!

Silver Crusade

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“I think the "literally made of Good" idea is problematic - it would imply that the Goodly deities are incapable of taking non-good actions,”

I’d disagree with this take, and was not pushing it so apologies if that’s what it came across as. Good Immortals absolutely can make mistakes and fall. But there’s a difference between a mistake or full on falling and “I’m an unrepentant bigot and made of Good and those two things aren’t in conflict”.


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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
MaxAstro wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

Some people have always tried to depict Torag as the LG deity of genocide, which he is not.

These people tend to love Ragathiel, because really all they want is to be able to wear the LG badge while going on killing sprees against whole populations because "Good does not mean stupid or weak". Which is all pretty much Evil, but don't you dare tell them that.

So Dark Helmet was right? Good really is dumb?
I can't resist quoting my favorite troll doll Hellknight here: "Stop blaming your incompetence on cosmic forces. The side of good isn't weak, it's you."

On the flipside, though, Evil can be just as dunderheaded. I feel like this bit of musing about Pathfinder's progenitor sums it up better than I could. Despite Pathfinder being its own setting and game, I feel this thru-line has continued, even if it lacks the specific examples the writer cites.

And Dark Helmet and the rest of the Spaceballs folks are arguably proof of this as well, as their failure is as much a product of their own bumbling and callousness to each other as it is Lone Star et al's efforts.

Even IF good is dumb, Tar-Baphon, Geb, Razmir, Asmodeus, Deskari, etc. are such a bunch of losers themselves that it kind of balances out in good's favor!

“ ‘Strange powers have our enemies, and strange weaknesses!’ said Théoden. ‘But it has long been said: oft evil will shall evil mar.’ “ - J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


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Quote:

Shelyn still has love for her brother, Zon-Kuthon who is a torturer and murderer.

This is a flaw?


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Rysky wrote:

“I think the "literally made of Good" idea is problematic - it would imply that the Goodly deities are incapable of taking non-good actions,”

I’d disagree with this take, and was not pushing it so apologies if that’s what it came across as. Good Immortals absolutely can make mistakes and fall. But there’s a difference between a mistake or full on falling and “I’m an unrepentant bigot and made of Good and those two things aren’t in conflict”.

Completely agreed.


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VampByDay wrote:
Saranrae is willing to try and redeem anyone who asks for it, including, presumably, mass-murderers and the like.

I'd like to bring this back and ask which specific part of this is an impediment to Sarenrae's moral character. I know some of the canon surrounding her plus her clergy has been errata'd to correct her to a Good character (specifically the Cult of the Dawnflower part), but I'm not clear on things that would make this a character flaw that contradicts Good in canon, or if they are still canon. Not that Sarenrae isn't flawed, just that this particular thing doesn't read as a flaw in Good to me.

I could see the result of "willing to try and redeem .. mass-murderers" being problematic if it was, for instance, immediately taking a bad-faith claim on face value and using it to clear them of any consequences for their actions or position them somewhere where they would be able to harm people. But my understanding of the stance of Sarenrae is 1) She doesn't give unlimited tolerance towards people who abuse the offer of redemption to do Evil and 2) it doesn't inherently mean someone who says they want redemption is immediately free from consequence. And with those, I don't see a problem with this stance. Extending empathy towards people who are Evil in an attempt to produce Good in the world, if you aren't willingly letting that empathy invite more Evil on the world, seems like a Good thing to do to me. Am I misreading the claim here or the current canon of Sarenrae?


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With respect to James Jacobs who is working hard to make Pathfinder's world have some continuity with its rules, an ethical framework for the real world is a project that philosophers have required years to put together, and have over 2000 years of writing on the same to consult. And as he pointed out, when multiple authors try and write for the same deity you're inevitably going to get contradictions.

There are a few options here:

One, is to try and sort out these contradictions and hew as closely to the intent you can divine out of the various sources. This will probably invite arguments if anyone else at your table studies the source material as closely as you do, and I don't recommend it.

Two, is to throw out alignment entirely. Some people brag about doing this, but personally I feel like Pathfinder (and other fantasy sword & sorcery RPG's) all implicitly carry a sense of Manichaean conflict in them, so dropping alignment seems counterproductive.

Third, is you can rely on an outside source of ethics in situations where things are blurry based on whatever worldview the GM feels hews closest to their interpretation. This is what I do.

I've long made my peace with the fact that some small facets of my interpretation of Golarion are not going to match what's in the text. I disagree that Erastil should be LN or that Shelyn is not chaste. I've never had someone complain about it. I think more people should make their peace with it as well rather than worrying that theirs differs too much from the text.


The Raven Black wrote:

Some people have always tried to depict Torag as the LG deity of genocide, which he is not.

These people tend to love Ragathiel, because really all they want is to be able to wear the LG badge while going on killing sprees against whole populations because "Good does not mean stupid or weak". Which is all pretty much Evil, but don't you dare tell them that.

I'm personally hoping that Ragathiel learns to mellow out some, possibly changing his portfolio along the way to align less with vengeance and more with supporting disciplined paths to goodness.

I mean, if there's one powerful celestial who should understand the rewards of sustained, dedicated effort working toward redemption and self-betterment, it should probably be the guy who is the literal son of an archdevil.
Plus he's got that missing wing which could return once he comes to that epiphany, which is very symbolic and mythical and significant.


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Okay, before this goes completely off the rails, I have been wondering about something.

While I am not entirely sure, if people moving on to an outer plane according to their alignment after their death retain a 'sense of self' if you will, there seems to be a certain progression:

Souls freshly formed from the maelstrom first get incarnated in a mortal body. Since they are freshly minted, they do no yet have an alignment. So if a mortal (soul) pings as any one alignment under a detect spell, that is because the mortal chose to become aligned that way (disregarding magical mind rape shenanigans).

On the other hand, aligned outsiders are very much 'made' from the stuff of their home plane, and thus have zero choice about at least their starting alignment, and only rather exceptional specimen manage to have enough willpower to change that.

But the gods in this setting are basically outsiders who never died to reach the outer planes. So while they are strongly connected to the alignment they chose prior to their ascension to godhood, they still retain enough of a free will that they could still change their alignment, and thus are capable of doing things that would run counter to their professed alignment.

So a 'Good' god still is capable of doing things that are evil, and vice versa. Same for Law and Chaos presumably.

So that's why many gods seem to be so 'flawed', they are very much still having part of a mortal mindset clinging to them.


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Lycar wrote:

Okay, before this goes completely off the rails, I have been wondering about something.

While I am not entirely sure, if people moving on to an outer plane according to their alignment after their death retain a 'sense of self' if you will, there seems to be a certain progression:

Souls freshly formed from the maelstrom first get incarnated in a mortal body. Since they are freshly minted, they do no yet have an alignment. So if a mortal (soul) pings as any one alignment under a detect spell, that is because the mortal chose to become aligned that way (disregarding magical mind rape shenanigans).

On the other hand, aligned outsiders are very much 'made' from the stuff of their home plane, and thus have zero choice about at least their starting alignment, and only rather exceptional specimen manage to have enough willpower to change that.

But the gods in this setting are basically outsiders who never died to reach the outer planes. So while they are strongly connected to the alignment they chose prior to their ascension to godhood, they still retain enough of a free will that they could still change their alignment, and thus are capable of doing things that would run counter to their professed alignment.

So a 'Good' god still is capable of doing things that are evil, and vice versa. Same for Law and Chaos presumably.

So that's why many gods seem to be so 'flawed', they are very much still having part of a mortal mindset clinging to them.

Golarion metaphysics certainly could be that way. AFAIK nothing conflicts with that interpretation, yet is it that way?

What sources are you citing?
There's a good chance Paizo has left it vague to leave room for any narrative necessary, at least until an AP relies upon rigor.

How much do free will, innate inclinations, acquired inclinations, and alignment intertwine? And empathy, social cognition, ethics, etc.?
This all relies one what we consider the self, its origins, and boundaries.

Aligned outsiders are probably the easiest to consider, since it's all one package IMO tied directly to the plane of origin. I doubt any fresh ones actually desire to alter themselves (unless there's a hiccup in the creation process), so I don't feel it's a matter of willpower for them to change until they acquire that desire. And where would that come from? An even deeper self? But what's that mean? And how many layers might there be with which one finally counting as the "true self"? I don't feel that's a coherent term in the singular, rather we are a spectrum of selves over time. Which leads to the obvious that experience altered the outsiders who want to shift. Somehow. Through the GM's narrative obviously! At that point the dialogue moves from Essentialism to Existentialism.

(Also, it seems that there might be slivers within them which can be appealed to that are totally dwarfed by the rest of their being. Asmodeus, for example, nurtured some evil seed within angels to get some to fall. Saranrae arguably attempts the opposite. I see this as directly altering the target's self rather then finding something, a.k.a. rooted in existentialism rather than essentialism.)

How much different might it be for mortals?
Might our own assumptions of the real world balance of essentialism/existentialism interfere? Which does Golarion favor?

With the Maelstrom as the source I could see all varieties of mortals of all alignments popping into existence, especially if they're born with desires. These desires wouldn't be chosen, they'd exist from time zero. Alignments just aren't baked into the souls' substance, so altering/rechoosing becomes easier, i.e. through loving parents or because there's an internal struggle. There could be a moral dissonance because they aren't purely any alignment, could have conflicting desires from the get go. And then what the heck happens to that when implanted into a zygote (or at first breath, one month, etc. depending on lore)?
Or maybe mortals begin as blank slates, in which case do they have a self yet? IMO yes, albeit a seed, nearly nothing, needing experience and input with which it builds and is built.

But what the heck would be the corresponding state for a deity, especially one like Pharasma? How much had been determined about them at inception? How much by intrinsic nature/substance? What dissonance did they have to alleviate, or still struggle with?
IMO Paizo seems to portray them as mortal/outsider hybrids (& exemplars), but we haven't pinned down what those terms mean either.
Hmm.


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Minor correction/clarification:

Souls do not originate from the Maelstrom, they are digested in the Maelstrom. Once they are broken down into raw quintessence, they flew through the Antipode back to the Postive Energy Plane where they grow into fresh soul seeds. After leaving they pass through the First World where they create fey by their transit and nah also pick up innate quirks iirc. The interaction with the FW is the part I'm haziest right now because I might have read slightly conflicting accounts what happens or fostered my own interpretation.

The rest of the cycle I get from Planar Adventures.

For what it's worth, I don't think gods are technically Outsiders, or at least not all gods are, and certainly not all live in the Outer Plane, so it's hard to say how much their nature could be influenced by being made of aligned quintessence when only some of them might be. We know they can change alignment if they choose, but rarely seem to do so, anyway.


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Cori Marie wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
Sandal Fury wrote:

I think a lot of the hubbub around Erastil stems from conflating "traditional gender roles within families" with "horrible misogynist bigotry."

Granted, the way it was worded in the original Erastil article was... not great. I get that the times, they are a-changin', but the concept of the husband being the breadwinner and the wife keeping the home isn't a human rights violation, it's just old-fashioned.

Not great?!

That's the understatement of the century. He originally was written as thinking that independent women of any sort were a problem. A problem to be solved by forcing them into marriage and pregnancy, so they'll shut up and listen to their man. That's not "not great" that's deeply problematic and alienating to literally half of your population.

I did not read much on Erastil until Kingmaker when a player of mine played a female Erastil character. The idea of Erastil was he did believe in patriarchal rule, but more of a protective patriarchal rule due to the hard circumstances of rural life. I don't think that would be considered evil unless you took only the dark parts of patriarchal rule and not the parts that were protective and dutiful. I think Erastil was embodying more of the role of a protective father figure who viewed the role of patriarch as an important male duty and not some means to oppress women. His faith wasn't really a power seeking, political faith, but more of a hard rural living faith that eschewed civilization for the natural world.

Then again I don't really understand how these roles would have developed in an egalitarian world of magic where women and men were equally proficient at obtaining power through magic. It didn't really make sense, so I never ran it in that fashion given followers of Erastil had no means to assert patriarchal rule.

I eliminated that part of Erastil pretty early. You can't justify patriarchal rule when neither gender has an

...

Interesting. I did not read that part. When I read him, I pictured him like a crotchety old Amish grandfather/patriarch as far as real world analogues. Very protective of community and the people within and very traditional rural type of living.

Fantasy gods in these mish-mash worlds are all over the place tossed in so players can make numerous types of characters using this basic alignment and deity framework produced for the masses. I don't take them very seriously and would never dream of thinking of ideas presented in fantasy games as anything real.

Alignment is a decent enough framework for capturing the whole opposing forces of good and evil like you see in movies or read in books on mythology. Mainly created so designers could use an easy mechanic for holy swords, holy water, and alignment type spells.

I imagine alignment has rubbed a lot of game designers who also like to write fiction in the wrong way since it is far too simplistic a way to frame morality within a world. It works great for making alignment weapons and spells though. That is probably why they have kept it over the years.

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