Friendly Clerics, Problematic Gods


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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I wasn't aware that I had the pre-remaster anathemas on hand, woops.
Guess I'll just become Jeff Bezos then.

Liberty's Edge

Asmodeus sounds like the perfect god for any toxic manager or family member.


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The Raven Black wrote:
Asmodeus sounds like the perfect god for any toxic manager or family member.

Yeah. Falling into "Deeply toxic member of some hierarchy" is really straightforward with the new Asmodeus precepts. Building an interesting and not-entirely-toxic version pretty much requires that you be selective in things like which weaker beings you choose to torture, who you consider to be your betters, and who your enemies are.

Happily on the edicts side, it doesn't call on you to torture all weaker beings. It just says that there should be some weaker beings out there that you're torturing. Admittedly, one could say that this gets kind of rules-lawyery... but it's Asmodeus, you know? If anything, he'd approve.

I also notice... "The unholy trait, in turn, shows devotion to victimizing others, inflicting harm, and battling celestial powers." Well, if you've managed to get a moderately acceptable devotee of Asmodeus, it doesn't take that much more twisting to get them to the point where they'd almost qualify for unholy sanctification while still being an acceptable traveling companion. The "victimizing others" and "inflicting harm" parts fit right in, anyway. It would very much be an "enemy of my enemy" situation, but those can be workable. Sadly, there's no real way to twist the "battling celestial powers" part. Given the rest of what Holy and Unholy mean, it's real hard to assemble a world in which that conflict is in any way gray, and having not just signed up on the side of the devils but actually being devoted to the cause? Yeah, that's not great.

Liberty's Edge

Sanityfaerie wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Asmodeus sounds like the perfect god for any toxic manager or family member.

Yeah. Falling into "Deeply toxic member of some hierarchy" is really straightforward with the new Asmodeus precepts. Building an interesting and not-entirely-toxic version pretty much requires that you be selective in things like which weaker beings you choose to torture, who you consider to be your betters, and who your enemies are.

Happily on the edicts side, it doesn't call on you to torture all weaker beings. It just says that there should be some weaker beings out there that you're torturing. Admittedly, one could say that this gets kind of rules-lawyery... but it's Asmodeus, you know? If anything, he'd approve.

I also notice... "The unholy trait, in turn, shows devotion to victimizing others, inflicting harm, and battling celestial powers." Well, if you've managed to get a moderately acceptable devotee of Asmodeus, it doesn't take that much more twisting to get them to the point where they'd almost qualify for unholy sanctification while still being an acceptable traveling companion. The "victimizing others" and "inflicting harm" parts fit right in, anyway. It would very much be an "enemy of my enemy" situation, but those can be workable. Sadly, there's no real way to twist the "battling celestial powers" part. Given the rest of what Holy and Unholy mean, it's real hard to assemble a world in which that conflict is in any way gray, and having not just signed up on the side of the devils but actually being devoted to the cause? Yeah, that's not great.

Battling celestial powers can be done through eloquence and persuasion rather than brute force. If anything, I feel Asmodeus should encourage the subtler approach for its longer lasting results.


The Raven Black wrote:
Battling celestial powers can be done through eloquence and persuasion rather than brute force. If anything, I feel Asmodeus should encourage the subtler approach for its longer lasting results.

Sure... but barring a Rahadoum-style "a pox on both your houses" which this is clearly not, I'd say that it's hard to actively and significantly battle against the side of Good (on whatever battlefield) in a no-really struggle between good and evil and not have it mean that you are in fact the a~*$&*%.

Like, you can be evil with dignity and style, but that doesn't make you not evil. Now everything else in the Asmodeus Thing could be tolerated on utilitarian grounds under the right circumstances. The devotee in question might be reasonably described as evil, but if they're an enlightened sort of evil, and the effects they have on the world are largely positive, that can be okay. If "actively support the devils and oppose the heavens" is a significant part of what you do, though... that gets a lot harder to justify. It also makes it much more likely to be a lie and/or a trap even if you can come up with something that looks like justification.


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Here's one way you can make a friendly cleric of Asmodeus: It's a transaction. It's not that they like Asmodeus, even if they do think his cynical view of people holds true more often than not. They just need to be able to heal people and cast spells, and of all the gods, he's one of the few who didn't demand their love--only their compliance with the terms and services. They are, in-character, trying to rules lawyer the Anathemas.


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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
Here's one way you can make a friendly cleric of Asmodeus: It's a transaction. It's not that they like Asmodeus, even if they do think his cynical view of people holds true more often than not. They just need to be able to heal people and cast spells, and of all the gods, he's one of the few who didn't demand their love--only their compliance with the terms and services. They are, in-character, trying to rules lawyer the Anathemas.

...and that's cool, except that (to my understanding) Asmodeus requires that all of his clerics be sactified unholy, which means they get that pesky "shows devotion to battling celestial powers"

No. Wait. "Shows". Okay, so if we really rules-lawyer it, we could have someone who's just outwardly presenting as being on the side of the devils. You know. They talk a good game about fighting against the powers of the Heavens, but they never really do much of anything about it.

...which, admittedly, fits in with the idea of a character who wants to be a cleric in spite of being unable to bring themselves to actually care about any deity at all.

Of course, there's the bit where Asmodeus will surely come to collect in the end, but all they have to do there is never die. It's a work in progress.

/************/

Mammon wrote:

Edicts Gain financial control over others, gather new wealth, count your riches

Anathema Leave the cult of Mammon, allow those who steal from you to go unpunished

Lenny the Fix. Lenny is hustling. He's always hustling. Lenny started out life in a bad place and he's been making shady deals and hustling aver since trying to get his head above water and get ahead. Mammon? Mammon was there. Lenny needed an edge, and Mammon was willing to offer him a hand up. It came with a pricetag, sure, but they all do that. That's how it works.

Lenny deals in need. He's the fix. Whatever it is that you need, he's got the hook-up, and it won't cost you more than you can pay. The people that go to Lenny are generally both poor and desperate. For most folks, that would mean that they were worthless, but Lenny has made an art of finding ways for them to be useful, and if they play ball, making sure that they come out of it better than they went into it. Now, many of them come out of it with a few of Lenny's hooks in them... but Mammon calls on you to Gain Financial Control. He doesn't tell you what to do with it. Lenny's hand is light. He knows that once you've got the hooks in good, the better off they are, the better off you are. Actually getting out of his influence entirely can be near-impossible, but it's generally the case that the lives that people can lead as members of his extended web of control are a lot better than the ones they would have led without him.

Oh, and Lenny gets paid. Lenny gets paid. He's got a lot of favors and a lot of contacts and, yes, a lot of friends. There are people out there who were able to survive and then stabilize and then find love and then start a family because of Lenny and they know it. That kind of thing can get you the kind of real loyalty that goes well beyond anything that mere hard control can give. The deals he offers are fair. They're even kind, in their way... but if you try to skip out on paying up, you will be given sufficient cause to seriously regret that life choice. Still. Life's better with him than it would have been without him, you know? And Lenny actually cares about his investments. That can matter, sometimes - to have someone who cares. The way that he'll check in from time to time and just see how you're doing and show he cares? That can also be nice. It gives you a bit of that warm, fuzzy belonging feeling... even if it's the feeling that you belong to Lenny.


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My usual answer to the holy/unholy thing is just that most clerics are unlikely (or assume they're unlikely when they become clerics) to ever actually encounter any angels or demons. Surely no gelugons are ever going to warp in and issue me a command, right? I'm just a small-town healer. I'm no one important. No one's going to care if I help old ladies cross the street in the meantime.

A lot of these concepts are definitely unsustainable, but that's just fun drama for the PCs to run afoul of later. By nature, every PC winds up important. Every PC becomes a potentially useful asset if they've been fool enough to sign the contract.


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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
A lot of these concepts are definitely unsustainable, but that's just fun drama for the PCs to run afoul of later. By nature, every PC winds up important. Every PC becomes a potentially useful asset if they've been fool enough to sign the contract.

Hmmm...

Kitumu wrote:


Edicts: offer sacrifices to Kitumu, feed the hungers of nature with humanoid creatures

Anathema: step on a firefly, kill those marked by Kitumu

Dooska made a deal. The friction between his tribe and the neighboring Kholo had gotten worse and worse, and people had started to die and he feared for his extended family. So he made a deal. It was a simple deal. He would make offerings to Kitumu, and leave the bodies to be eaten by the jungle, and she would give him power. The details were somewhat concerning, yes, and the goddess he made the deal with was moreso... but she promised him that the Kholo themselves were more than sufficient as sacrifices in her name, and he could worry about the long-term after the short-term was done.

It worked. She gave him power, and with that power he became a champion of the tribe. he was able to offer the enemies fo the tribe up as sacrifices and leave their bodies to the jungle and grow stronger. It worked.

...and then his tribe won. The Kholo that had threatened them were all fed to the jungle or fled far away. He had respect and power and influence in the tribe. He had divine powers. He had a goddess whose demands grew apace with her gifts.

For a short while, he dithered. His tribe did have a few in it who could best benefit it by being purged from its ranks, and he had the power now to make that happen... so he did. They didn't last him all that long, though, and when one day he found himself considering if the old woman with the particularly shrill voice was obnoxious enough to count he realized that he had joined their number, and so he fled.

...and that's where we find Dooska - having abandoned his tribe, moving through the Mwangi Expanse, trying desperately to find enough acceptable targets to keep his goddess satisfied.


Loving this. Absolutely loving this.


So, Zon-Kuthon.... The "mutilate your body" thing isn't a sticking point for me; what someone does with their body is their own business, so long as it doesn't interfere with others. And the anathema against making long-lasting sources of light, I mean, that's something I personally have ended up never doing; I didn't make any of the light bulbs I've put in their sockets, plus with how often they burn out I'd say they don't count as "long-lasting" anyways.
The thing about "bring pain to the world", and the anathema against "providing comfort to those who suffer"... the latter, I can see it as someone thinking they're like metaphysically "contagious". If you're virulently ill, you're not going to care for the sick unless you actively hate them and wish them to die; with the Midnight Lord's gaze upon you, anything you do to provide comfort to the suffering, it'll just backfire. And "bring pain"... there's nothing about what KIND of pain, or how INTENSE it is, or who you choose to suffer it. While that could easily be satisfied in the course of normal adventuring, I've thought of another idea.

Caelsey considers herself a sacrifice. Every day, she prays for her god to accept her pain as sufficient, and to pass by others. (Well, except for deserving targets.) When someone she cares for is hurting, she believes any effort she makes will only add to their pain; however, there's nothing that prevents her from "accidentally" dropping cash that happens to be the exact amount needed to pay for their favourite diversion, plus directions and a schedule of when it'll be available.

It's against her god's will to alleviate pain, but there's nothing against moving pain around. She can't move it all into herself (at least that's what she tells herself), but she's mastered medical treatments that cause agony in the moment but lead to long-term healing, and she encourages acts of emotional catharsis. As long as she leaves before she sees anybody feel better afterwards, she maintains plausible deniability for herself.

(Her sacrificial demeanour also causes INTENSE awkwardness and discomfort for people who have to interact with her, which counts sufficiently towards "spreading pain" that she's been metaphysically able to get away with this.)

Liberty's Edge

Kobold Catgirl wrote:

My usual answer to the holy/unholy thing is just that most clerics are unlikely (or assume they're unlikely when they become clerics) to ever actually encounter any angels or demons. Surely no gelugons are ever going to warp in and issue me a command, right? I'm just a small-town healer. I'm no one important. No one's going to care if I help old ladies cross the street in the meantime.

Unholy is not only about fighting Celestials though.

It's about being devoted to evil : "The unholy trait, in turn, shows devotion to victimizing others, inflicting harm, and battling celestial powers."

And paying lip service is not devotion.


"Devotion" is a relative term. Anyways, this is the wrong thread to split hairs over the issue. As I said in the OP, we're not worrying too much about the labels. This is strictly about Edicts and Anathemas.


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Quote:

Dahak

Edicts: Kill metallic dragons, destroy things at your whim

Lizbon is an aging cleric who spent his entire life doing the good works of Dahak.

A teacher at heart, he loves nothing more than to destroy people's ignorance and assumptions. But what he enjoys most is to debate nomenclature and what the name we give to things says about them.

Today, he shed a small tear when he heard one of the villagers proudly correct the others "No Darren, that's not a Green dragon, that's a HORNED dragon! Get on with the times!".

Finally, his years of teaching were bearing fruit! After all, it's just so insulting to name dragons after colors and metals. You don't call humans the Leather people do you? Why should dragons suffer this indignity?

Sure, it was just this village for now, but soon the chromatic and metallic dragons would be no more, and be reborn with much more fitting names. The world would probably never know he had started this remaster of dragon nomenclature. But he would know, and that was enough.


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I would assume Dahak's edicts are going to change in the forthcoming gods book since "metallic dragons" no longer exist as a category, but in the interim you can describe it as being about art.

Like he really hates it when you cast statues of dragons in metal.


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04: Mahathallah.

Edicts Become an arbiter of reality, reject conventional wisdom as falsehood, capitalize on the ignorance of others
Anathema become too invested in mortal affairs, refuse to hear a truth out of preference for ignorance

Kya was a normal gnome as a youth, until she started asking a few too many questions about The Bleaching, With the driving urge to Cure All Gnomekind of the dread contagion, she researched it … and found a divine servitor who made her ask ‘why am I trying to prevent this?’.

She listened and opened her heart, and the Dowager of Illusions tore them from her eyes.

She proudly shows her white hair and takes commissions as needed, no longer caring about her old mission aside from easing a gnome’s trip through the process. Mostly, she works as a roaming attorney and/or judge. Now, if a group needs some oomph in divine magic and doesn’t mind a ‘tell it like I see it’ sort …


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lemeres wrote:

Other than mother vulture, I am pretty sure all of those are evil gods. And the only truly problematic part for mother vulture clerics is their...diet.

The rest of the details are just normal murder hoboing as a good or neutral cleric. You know, murder for quests, horde every item you find, not really add anything to the local agriculture industry.

Honestly, I think mother vulture might make a suitable Lamashtu replacement for a player goblin. everything on that list seems right up a goblin's alley.

I rather wish this “killing is murder’ bit would stop. All murder is killing. Not all killing is murder. They are not the same thing, they are different words with different meanings.


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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Perpdepog wrote:

In contrast to Sanityfaerie, my Groetus cleric, Unsaint Visibini, was incredibly upbeat. She belongs to a splinter sect of Groetus worshipers who believe that the end of all things, while sad or whatever, has to be absolutely amazing to be able to observe. Their only real aphorism is "witness, and enjoy." They take it upon themselves to get everybody excited for the show to end all shows, literally.

She doesn't see this goal as a violation of Groetus' anathema of spreading hope, because, while you can enjoy seeing all existence end, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, you can do to stop you and everything and everyone you ever knew from evaporating into oblivion. She will make sure you have a snack, however.
I like this! I've always felt an annoyingly cheerful cleric of Groetus whose philosophy is more along the lines of "We're all gonna die and be forgotten about, and eventually the Universe will too, so why get upset about it?! Enjoy your life AND your death!" would be fun to play, and if you roleplayed them as oblivious to the fact that people find their blithe nihilism creepy and upsetting, it'd side-step the anathema of spreading hope.

“It’s the end of the word as we know it, and I feel fine ….”


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Imot

I rolled 90 and got Imot. Funnily enough I've already played a cleric of Imot, so I'm very familiar with the deity already!

Edicts: Search for omens in the natural world, push the boundaries of mathematics, study past disasters
Anathema: Withhold your understanding of a portent, prevent the destruction of things that cannot be saved

Citotl's life turned upside down when a fey cursed him for his arrogance. Disaster followed in his footsteps. In Imot however, he was able to find some solace. Disaster was everywhere. In the stars, in the cards, in the flowers, the fish and more. It loomed over, ready to consume all that it touched and to all he gave the wisdom of this fate, gladly putting impending doom on his foe's doorsteps. After all, if he was doomed, the least he could do was take as many as the cruel and wicked as he could with him to see Imot in the Boneyard. But when disaster eventually would call for the lives of his allies, he would see himself depart from their side lest he mourn the ones he wished to see go the least.

Lahkgya

Since I've already played a cleric of Imot and had a great time, that felt like cheating, so I rolled for another just to see and ended up with Lahkgya.

Edicts: Steal luxuries for yourself, destroy property for fun, demand bribes to spare creatures from your torments
Anathema: Work honestly for something you could steal instead, kill a monkey

Chichipi was always looked down on by the other vanara, and when no one would take him in, Lahkgya did. His worship led to stolen opulence and happiness in excess as he went on elaborate crime sprees against the richest families they could trick and steal from. But, when he was finally caught by a group of adventurers hired to find him, he was given a choice: use his skills for good or rot in a jail cell. He chose the former. Though it was tough to adjust to at first, working with goody-two-shoes adventurers. He kept them alive as needed and dealt with traps as he saw fit. Though when it came to any rewards that were offered, he refused them in lieu of taking a thing or two from the party's patrons when they weren't looking. After all, he didn't quite steal so much as decide the reward himself. They wouldn't mind that, would they?

His party members certainly weren't fond of him, but his skills no doubt kept them alive, and his earnest desire to break anything he was told to was refreshing. If they ever needed someone spooked, they just needed to tell him to go at it until they gave them what the party needed, and this seemed to please Chicipi at least. He may be a kleptomaniac, but he was their kleptomaniac, and thankfully never stole from them. Perhaps they should keep hiding their purses just in case though. Wait, what do you mean a few of Lord Valdren's ornamental blades are missing their rubies?

Lahkgya is a hard one, since I know many people despise the kleptomaniac rogue trope. Though I think a roguish cleric who begrudgingly helps the party and just steals from everyone else is a bit more acceptable in a good few groups... even if it does cause trouble sometimes. Though that's my experience with things!


Sy Kerraduess wrote:
Quote:

Dahak

Edicts: Kill metallic dragons, destroy things at your whim

Lizbon is an aging cleric who spent his entire life doing the good works of Dahak.

A teacher at heart, he loves nothing more than to destroy people's ignorance and assumptions. But what he enjoys most is to debate nomenclature and what the name we give to things says about them.

Today, he shed a small tear when he heard one of the villagers proudly correct the others "No Darren, that's not a Green dragon, that's a HORNED dragon! Get on with the times!".

Finally, his years of teaching were bearing fruit! After all, it's just so insulting to name dragons after colors and metals. You don't call humans the Leather people do you? Why should dragons suffer this indignity?

Sure, it was just this village for now, but soon the chromatic and metallic dragons would be no more, and be reborn with much more fitting names. The world would probably never know he had started this remaster of dragon nomenclature. But he would know, and that was enough.

Hate 2e, but I must respect what you are doing here.


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I feel like the second half of that post is slightly more helpful than the first half. :p


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Kobold Catgirl wrote:

Lamashtu wrote:

Edicts: bring power to outcasts and the downtrodden, indoctrinate children in Lamashtu’s teachings, make the beautiful monstrous, reveal the corruption and flaws in all things

Anathema: attempt to treat a mental illness or deformity, provide succor to Lamashtu’s enemies

Natalie Ninefingers, Devious Doula

Natalie Ninefingers(she lost a bit of her ring finger in an accident as a teen) is a quiet midwife and doula just on the other side of 40 in the worst part of town. Even the roughest of bravos makes it a point to keep a civil tongue in their mouths when she is known to be around- there is a good chance the youngest of these were birthed by her. She will take on any case, even the most hopeless, and this gets her healthy amounts of respect from the more well to do parts of the slums. Her success rate is well over 80%, and her name is slowly being circulated among the middle and even upper classes of the city.

What most people don't know, is that this is by design. Ninefingers will do everything she can to save the poorest residents of city, a little less for the more well to do/middle class, and the least for the wealthy, unless they show signs of Lamashtu’s favor. She is an adept social manipulator, and will season her midwife conversations with leading questions to feel out expecting mothers to see if they are amenable to Lamashtu’s teachings, and her doula conversations to expound upon what she found in earlier conversations, especially if their child shows the signs on Lamashtu’s touch. Should she have her way, the masses will be lead socially by the deformed and mentally ill who will make up the upper echelons of society.

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