Remastered Edicts and Anathema in Dragons.


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

A lot has been said about how alignment is changing in the Remastered PF2, and most of it fits in extremely well and makes a lot of intuitive sense.

However I am very curious as to what this might mean for Dragons, which are probably the creatures that most strongly interact with alignment other than the cosmically aligned entities like Angels and Devils. For better or worse.

What I'd like to see is for each Dragon type to have their own sets of edicts and anathema that recreate the feel of those dragons, while allowing more flexibility for both GMs and the Dragons themselves on how they're interpreted.

Take the Red Dragon, for instance. As an Edict they could have something like "aquire greater wealth and power" and "subjugate weaker beings beneath you", and as Anathema they could have "allow another to take that which is yours".

These would certainly push Red Dragons towards being more evil, but these could still be interpreted in a way that allows a "good" Red Dragon. "This town and it's people belong to me. If any seek to harm them, I shall take it as damaging that which is mine and so I shall claim just recompense from you."

The follow up to this would of course be to ask if these edicts and anathema actually matter. Make them hard-coded into the dragons leans a little uncomfortably into the biological determinism that we're trying to get away from, but making them just Draconic culture for each Dragon type feels a little limp in my opinion. I'd like to see there Edicts and Anathema work like Barbarian and Druid Edicts, but in a more gradual sense.

What if Dragons didn't determine their power by age categories anymore, except in the more general sense that an ancient dragon would have much more time to accumulate power. What if Dragons slowly, over time, gained eternally greater power by acting in accordance with their Edicts and Anathema? A young Dragon who embodies the edicts perfectly might be as strong as an Elder Dragon who only follows them moderately.

What does everyone think? Are Dragons going to replace their tight alignment groupings with specific Edicts and Anathema? If so, what would those Edicts and Anathema be? Do you like how I am imagining they might interact with the Dragon's power?


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Chromatics and Metallics are going to be very different when we see them again for OGL reasons, and I don’t know that I ever read Imperial, Outer, or Primal Dragons as especially Alignment-bound.


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It's a solid "no thanks" from me, doubly so when it comes to having their power tied to it. Dragons having alignment vibes always felt like a bug left over from D&D rather than a feature of Pathfinder to me. It's mostly confined to the chromatic/metallic division, with lesser shades of it in imperial/primal. Dragons' power should come from the fact that they're (emphatic expletive) dragons, not from acting out some archetypal role, and their natures shouldn't be so tightly defined as to force them to be predictable.

Mirage dragons have natural illusion magic and tend towards vanity and a desire for treasure that interacts with light and images. A mirage dragon that disguises themselves as a stronger kind of dragon to scare people off, maintains a hoard more in keeping with that form, lets their true nature slip once that doesn't work, and then uses an invisible staff of summoning so that their enemies waste time trying to disbelieve a real creature, is doing a better job of being a mirage dragon than one following a edicts to admire their form, collect mirrors, and fight with illusions.

Now, a particular occult dragon getting power from acting out a role? Fine; occult magic is all about symbolism.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
keftiu wrote:
Chromatics and Metallics are going to be very different when we see them again for OGL reasons, and I don’t know that I ever read Imperial, Outer, or Primal Dragons as especially Alignment-bound.

That's kind of my point. In this set up, it changes the Dragons fundamentally, perhaps even de-grouping metallic and chromatic dragons so the terms no longer exist and you just have 10 different dragons with 10 different edicts and anathema, while still letting the entities which already exist in the world feel like they fit a new paradigm.


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Vali Nepjarson wrote:
keftiu wrote:
Chromatics and Metallics are going to be very different when we see them again for OGL reasons, and I don’t know that I ever read Imperial, Outer, or Primal Dragons as especially Alignment-bound.
That's kind of my point. In this set up, it changes the Dragons fundamentally, perhaps even de-grouping metallic and chromatic dragons so the terms no longer exist and you just have 10 different dragons with 10 different edicts and anathema, while still letting the entities which already exist in the world feel like they fit a new paradigm.

Your edicts and anathema suggestion would be making draconic behavior more intrinsic and pre-determined, with red dragons going from "generally being a certain way" to "somehow naturally getting stronger from being a certain way". That'd be a weird direction to take dragons, something a lot more in keeping with extraplanar beings made of soulstuff than magic murder lizards.


I almost feel like it would be better to work on each species of dragon from a top-down approach with a patriarch or matriarch of that species setting to tone for what the rest are like. For example: Red Dragons might be the Sires of [Insert Draconic Name Here] and tightly controlled by their leader. This gives plenty of room for most dragons of that group to act along similar lines while also allowing for splinter groups to do their own thing.


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Imperial, Primal, Occult, and Outer dragons always felt like they had alignments more because those had to be on their sheets than any other reason to me.


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Personally, I would love it if every monster got a "common edict" and "common anathema", at least with the more magical creatures like fey and demons. I think it would provide a nice bit of guidance for GMs scanning the book for relevant monsters. I totally respect where our clever rabbit friend is coming from, though.

(If I could choose any entry to be added to monster entries, the edicts thing would be pretty far below "bring back terrain suggestions". :P)


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I'm not sure there's value in *rules* for "how the GM should roleplay the monster". Since the best way to run a given monster is "whatever makes the story most interesting", which might in fact involve an extremely atypical Dragon.


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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
(If I could choose any entry to be added to monster entries, the edicts thing would be pretty far below "bring back terrain suggestions". :P)

I loved "Elminster's Ecologies", which were an amazing set of booklets about terrains and the creatures to be found there.

Jim Butler is one of the listed authors of that boxed set.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
QuidEst wrote:

It's a solid "no thanks" from me, doubly so when it comes to having their power tied to it. Dragons having alignment vibes always felt like a bug left over from D&D rather than a feature of Pathfinder to me. It's mostly confined to the chromatic/metallic division, with lesser shades of it in imperial/primal. Dragons' power should come from the fact that they're (emphatic expletive) dragons, not from acting out some archetypal role, and their natures shouldn't be so tightly defined as to force them to be predictable.

That's a totally fair position, as it is a substantial thing to suggest.

I am interested in how you say that this would make Dragons behavior more intrinsic to them and more tightly defined, as I strongly disagree. But perhaps that is a failure on my part to explain what I'm suggesting.

Right now, Dragons are extremely tightly defined by their baked in nature. A Red Dragon is always evil and if you have one in your game that isn't, it should be made clear that is EXTREMELY unusual. Edicts and Anathema are, IMO, a nice and easy way to allow a reason for Red Dragons to behave like that without it being something that is baked into them wholesale.

The developers already said that Edicts and Anathema will have a very broad scope in their degree of how much control them have. The example given was that Catfolk culture might have Edicts and Anathema, but that all it would do for you as a Catfolk was determine how your culture sees you.

My suggestion is something closer to that, while not making the Edicts have no teeth at all. Giving a reason why the dragons might follow these Edicts despite being extremely individualistic creatures who should care nothing if another dragon told them "you're doing it wrong". And an Ancient Dragon who didn't conduct themselves in that way would still be as powerful as an Ancient Dragon, it just might take them longer to get there.

I agree with you that dragons should be powerful because they're dragons and no other reason, but I don't think they should be powerful because they're big murder lizards who breath (insert breath weapon type here). I want them to be more than monsters. I want there to be a reason they are so powerful that at their peak they can challenge the gods, and "they're just super powerful" doesn't cut it for me. I want it clear that being a dragon is the peak of existence and that those dragons who exemplify this are mightier because of this, but in a way that allows for a lot of flexibility and variety for each individual dragon.


Vali Nepjarson wrote:
I am interested in how you say that this would make Dragons behavior more intrinsic to them and more tightly defined, as I strongly disagree. But perhaps that is a failure on my part to explain what I'm suggesting.

(And also addressing a few of you points in the middle of our post.)

I think you explained it just fine. To me, draconic behavior can currently be explained by a wide variety of factors, with the GM having very free reign to choose which ones suit them. That's mildly intrinsic- you expect a red dragon to behave a certain way, and if it doesn't behave that way, you assume it has been subject to dramatically different circumstances than most red dragons. Maybe it was raised by a tribe of kobolds or something. But it's unclear how much that stems from "red dragons are just naturally like that" and how much from "entrenched societal norms are pretty robust when individuals of the society can live for hundreds or thousands of years, and can be pretty callous when every member of the society can eventually incinerate virtually any member of any other society".

But once you say, "A red dragon who isn't a jerk will get powerful more slowly than one who is, while the opposite is true of a gold dragon", then that's something more intrinsic about those personalities. There is a defined in-world consequence (slower growth of power) that happens for acting against type.

Essentially, I do think that any anathema and edicts should be entirely toothless.

Vali Nepjarson wrote:
Right now, Dragons are extremely tightly defined by their baked in nature. A Red Dragon is always evil and if you have one in your game that isn't, it should be made clear that is EXTREMELY unusual. Edicts and Anathema are, IMO, a nice and easy way to allow a reason for Red Dragons to behave like that without it being something that is baked into them wholesale.

This is where I disagree. Chromatic and metallic dragons are pretty tightly defined by their personalities and their whole feud, but that's not the case for any of the other dragons, and chromatic and metallic dragons are no longer going to be the "examples of dragons in Pathfinder".

Vali Nepjarson wrote:
I agree with you that dragons should be powerful because they're dragons and no other reason, but I don't think they should be powerful because they're big murder lizards who breath (insert breath weapon type here). I want them to be more than monsters. I want there to be a reason they are so powerful that at their peak they can challenge the gods, and "they're just super powerful" doesn't cut it for me. I want it clear that being a dragon is the peak of existence and that those dragons who exemplify this are mightier because of this, but in a way that allows for a lot of flexibility and variety for each individual dragon.

That'd be another area where we want different things. I don't want dragons that can challenge the gods, and I don't want them to be the peak of existence. They're powerful, but it's still a solidly mortal sort of power. From the looks of it, Paizo's putting diabolic dragons squarely in Hell's "middle management", guarding vast troves of soul contracts and the like, but they're not running a whole layer of Hell. Silver dragons are mostly found near the old site of the Worldwound because they joined the crusades against the incursion, but they weren't enough on their own.


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For what it's worth, I don't see dragons as being of "godlike" power, but I definitely don't care for them being, as you said, "middle management". I like them as something like the aboleths--"sure, the gods may be technically stronger than me, but I don't care about them because I'm prettier". I think dragons should come across as almost beyond the politics of non-dragons. That's not to say there can't be exceptions, but in general, they should feel deeply distant and enigmatic.

Dragonlance leans a lot on dragons as shock troops and loyal knights and helpful mounts and minibosses and stuff. It's just not for me. To me, a dragon should be special. When I see a dragon working as middle management, I think, "Any other kind of creature could have substituted for the dragon here."

This is all to my own taste, though, and it's not too connected to the matter of edicts. I actually prefer for dragons to be wild and unpredictable, so I'm all for separating them from species-wide ideologies!


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

You lost me here

Quote:
However I am very curious as to what this might mean for Dragons, which are probably the creatures that most strongly interact with alignment other than the cosmically aligned entities like Angels and Devils. For better or worse.

because... do they really? Dragons have alignments, like every other creature in the current version of the game, and certain subtypes of dragons have specific alignments, again like other creatures often tend to... but I don't really see that making them intrinsically tied to alignment per se.

It just means bronze dragons are usually good, just like how Behirs tend to be Neutral and Trolls tend to be Evil.


Ultimately I don't think Dragons are all that important to the Golarion setting. They're around, and some of them are very powerful, but even Choral and Mengkare aren't in the same "this entity is probably a problem" weight class as like Baba Yaga, Geb, Tar Baphon, Nex, Sorshen, Walkena etc.

Like both the sekmin and the algolthu have more impract on Golarion's history as a species than Dragons do. Dragons are just rare.


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Why giving edicts/anathemas, that force creatures to act in a specific way, rather than guidelines, that would be meant to show how, "generally speaking", a specific creature behaves?


PossibleCabbage wrote:


Like both the sekmin and the algolthu have more impract on Golarion's history as a species than Dragons do. Dragons are just rare.

True, they aren't huge movers or shakers, and this isn't D&D, but I feel like they're always going to be among the most iconic monsters in any high fantasy setting. Because they're, well. They're dragons. You have to be deliberate with how you use your dragons.


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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
For what it's worth, I don't see dragons as being of "godlike" power, but I definitely don't care for them being, as you said, "middle management". I like them as something like the aboleths--"sure, the gods may be technically stronger than me, but I don't care about them because I'm prettier". I think dragons should come across as almost beyond the politics of non-dragons. That's not to say there can't be exceptions, but in general, they should feel deeply distant and enigmatic.

It's more an example of where they fall in the power scale. I'm generally with you that dragons are supposed to be special and not middle management, but Hell is where I'll make a major exception. The entire plane is about hierarchy, and if anyone can have dragons guarding stuff for them, it's the archdevils. It says more about Hell specifically than dragons in general, and I'm hoping the other seven dragons reflect that. (And in fact, I think diabolic dragons are remaining distinct from infernal dragons, which, from their very short PF1 description, do seem to operate a little more outside the hierarchy.)

That said, I think it's hard to have religion-category dragons be uninvolved in planar politics. If you want to show more independent dragons in a planar context, I think the best option is having another type of dragon plane shifted in, carrying out their own business. You can have a dragon in Hell selling off the souls of would-be dragonslayers they trapped, getting some obscure information from Hell's archives.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I think, overall, I'm in favor of more individualistic dragons. Typical traits can be summarized in the flavor text for the dragon family, and pretty much doesn't need to interact with edicts and anathemas at all.

I'd see it as useful if there was a dragon cult that had edicts and anathemas for its members, which they base off of their preconceptions of their favored dragon family.

Liberty's Edge

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A species / ancestry with compulsory edicts / anathemas ?

I do not like this at all.

It sounds like the always Evil/Good species.

I'm alright with edicts/anathemas for Classes, which are a choice of the character. Not for species / ancestries, which is what a character is, not what they choose.

Now, edicts and anathemas that any character, including a dragon, can willingly choose to adhere to. That I really hope we will get.


I think it's good to keep in mind that there's a major style difference here, which can't really be resolved objectively because it depends on your preference. When it comes to magical beings, like dragons, undead, fiends, fey, I don't necessarily mind there being firm species-wide tendencies. These are mystical beings. I don't mind the idea of all dragons being generally arrogant, all fiends being generally evil, and all redcaps being generally murderous as inherent traits of their being, that a demon who seeks redemption must swim upstream against their own nature to do it.

Other people prefer that any sapient creature, magical otherwise, has an equal amount of free will to any other, and generally functions like a person, not a being of alien will. In these sorts of settings, someone being a vampire or an aboleth is more about aesthetic, window dressing. It's very Shadowrun. There's nothing wrong with that, though it's not the version of these creatures that I get the most out of.

It's important, though, for us to be aware that we're basically talking about wholly different visions for the setting.


The Raven Black wrote:

A species / ancestry with compulsory edicts / anathemas ?

I do not like this at all.

It sounds like the always Evil/Good species.

I think that's not an issue, if used as a general information about the species/ancestry.

There's nothing wrong in stating "usually, these creatures are evil".

Different would be stating " These creatures are evil. It can't exist a non evil one".

The latter would kill the possibility of alternatives, although rare ones ( for example a good dark elf).


Kobold Catgirl wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:


Like both the sekmin and the algolthu have more impract on Golarion's history as a species than Dragons do. Dragons are just rare.
True, they aren't huge movers or shakers, and this isn't D&D, but I feel like they're always going to be among the most iconic monsters in any high fantasy setting. Because they're, well. They're dragons. You have to be deliberate with how you use your dragons.

Honestly, that they are not movers and shakers is sort of one of my issues. It just really feels like dragons in Golarion are just another type of background monster. But then again I think dragons in any setting (RPG or other) are incredibly hard to balance. Either the setting ends up revolving around them, or they just another random monster or animal. It's hard to strike the middle ground with intelligent, powerful, and magic dragons.


I think the way I see dragons, they're sort of the pinnacle of the "random monster". Most dragons avoid getting involved in "mortal" affairs because they just can't imagine your personal problems could possibly matter to them. They dwell in their lairs and count their coins* and only get involved when it catches their fancy... and then everyone's screwed, because even lich archmages have to worry when a great wyrm green dragon wakes up from its eons-long slumber and decides, hey, you know, I think that's too many trees you just cut down in my forest.

*Or books, or mirrors, or shoes, or...


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I do think that named mythic heavy-hitters like Tar-Baphon and Baba Yaga don't really need to worry about dragons, but they still merit their attention. (In fact, I recall there's one white dragon that was permanently infused with lava and kept alive for ticking off Baba Yaga.) But any lesser liches 'n witches better mind their manners.


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Yeah, I didn't say the dragon would win. They might be the huge ancient force that loses to the BBEG to show how scary the BBEG really is. ;P


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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
Yeah, I didn't say the dragon would win. They might be the huge ancient force that loses to the BBEG to show how scary the BBEG really is. ;P

Yeah. As an example, I would want Razmir to be able to mop the floor with an upstart dragon that caused problems (and make a big show of it, naturally), but immediately and unreservedly fall back on bribery and throwing other people under the bus when it came to any properly ancient or notorious dragons.


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Absolutely. To me, a dragon is a force of nature. It's not some random monster, it's The Monster. A younger one might get big for its britches, but an ancient one? That's something you'd ideally negotiate with.

I know this is the dumbest comparison, but I'm kind of thinking about Roque Ja, the giant mountain lion from Bone, and of how he interacts with the Hooded One. Roque Ja is incredibly arrogant, and doesn't believe in magic, so he gleefully taunts the Hooded One when she comes by to recruit him. Of course, she could probably kill him, but he's the kind of force that's better to flatter and cajole--especially since she needs his assistance--so she talks to him like an equal and allows him to name his terms.

Liberty's Edge

Kobold Catgirl wrote:

I think it's good to keep in mind that there's a major style difference here, which can't really be resolved objectively because it depends on your preference. When it comes to magical beings, like dragons, undead, fiends, fey, I don't necessarily mind there being firm species-wide tendencies. These are mystical beings. I don't mind the idea of all dragons being generally arrogant, all fiends being generally evil, and all redcaps being generally murderous as inherent traits of their being, that a demon who seeks redemption must swim upstream against their own nature to do it.

Other people prefer that any sapient creature, magical otherwise, has an equal amount of free will to any other, and generally functions like a person, not a being of alien will. In these sorts of settings, someone being a vampire or an aboleth is more about aesthetic, window dressing. It's very Shadowrun. There's nothing wrong with that, though it's not the version of these creatures that I get the most out of.

It's important, though, for us to be aware that we're basically talking about wholly different visions for the setting.

I do not see having free will as incompatible with an alien mindset.

Actually, I find it pretty odd that having an alien mindset should translate as following very human-like tendencies across a whole species.


I never said they don't have free will. I actually implied the opposite--a demon can try to be good, she's just struggling against the basic fabric of her nature.


A thing I always read into stuff like "the algollthu have a fundamentally alien mindset" was to caution the GM (who is a human, and thinks like a human) to avoid trying to rationalize why they're doing what they're doing since any reasons I come up for anything will be reasons a human could come up with and thus not all that alien.

Like one of the reason algollthu tend not to have iconoclasts is that every single one of them the same set of memories about all the same events over the entire history of the species. So not only are individuals not really dealing with a different set of sense-data, what beliefs are fundamental are set *really* deep. Like "thousands of years of evidence" deep.

Liberty's Edge

Kobold Catgirl wrote:
I never said they don't have free will. I actually implied the opposite--a demon can try to be good, she's just struggling against the basic fabric of her nature.

I might have misunderstood what you meant.

I just do not feel that most creatures having equal amount of free will (which, to me, also means having a diversity of personalities) means it's only cosmetic changes and you cannot have / portray / delve into alien mindsets.

I see no opposition between what you described as two opposite styles that one would have to choose exclusively. And I felt the second part sounded a bit condescending. Even though I know it is not your intent.

The current setting is good IMO. We have creatures with alien mindsets. But most of them have as much free will and possible diversity of actions as PCs' ancestries.

And the only exceptions I know of are made of aligned soul-stuff (Outsiders) or are animated by a perversion of the natural order (Undead).

I do not see the need to go beyond this for other creatures, including dragons. And I definitely do not want it imposed on PCs, whatever their ancestry.

I feel the current Undead options for PCs support this, since they have no requirement of being Evil, even though it makes them very different from the setting's basic hypothesis for Undead.


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I don't think I said anything about PCs, but yeah, I agree with that. That's why undead stuff should stay Rare or Uncommon, but if it's allowed, players should have full range of motion.

Liberty's Edge

If it's not for PCs, I think it's OK by me. Though I believe it should be made clear to GMs that these are the usual behaviours for a member of the species but that some may diverge from the standard.

So, still not a big fan of edicts and anathemas for creatures. More something akin to guidelines.


Now, I'm very pro playing monsters against type and not making all monsters act in one uniform way

That said, I'd actually support giving all creatures (or at least all creatures where it makes sense; no need to give every animal the edict "consume enough food to survive" because animals generally dont exhibit human-like ethics and morality in their behavior) in the book edicts and anathema for a few reasons:

1) provides a good guideline to describe typical motivations and actions at a glance. If, as a DM, I need a monster to be a master manipulator, I can just look for the edict section for monsters that have "manipulate others to get what you want" or similar as an edict

2) provides a really easy spot to change things up of I want to. Changing an alignment from NE to N isn't super helpful (outside of annoying my players that Divine Lance: Good doesn't work when it normally would); changing the manipulator creature's edicts to "subvert the authority of selfish leaders through manipulation" is very helpful

3) serves as a reminder that these creatures are characters. Presumably, PCs also have edicts and anathema; and it can be really easy to treat monsters as just stat blocks wrapped around a bundle of exp. Including a set od edicts and anathema (even with a big universal disclaimer that the presented ones only represent the typical values said monsters hold when used in a story) serve as reminder to players and GMs that these monsters, are, in fact, sentient beings with goals and motives

4) Searchability. When I need to find dieties for a culture, it's way easier to skim the edicts/anathema to find a good match, then read the diety entry for specifics than it is to read each entry individually. The same goes for a monster's hypothetical E/A vs its "behaviors" section

Liberty's Edge

It is my understanding that edicts/anathemas in Remastered will be only for those who choose them. Not for all PCs and not for all NPCs either.


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The Raven Black wrote:
It is my understanding that edicts/anathemas in Remastered will be only for those who choose them. Not for all PCs and not for all NPCs either.

From the two streams we've had, it seems that 1) most PCs will only have optional edicts/anathema, except for the classes that have it baked in (Barbarian, Champion, Cleric, and Druid) and 2) monsters/NPCs might have traits that help GMs determine how to play them (like a Greed trait, for example). It's all very up-in-the-air, so might be something to ask about next week.

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