The Godblather, Part 2

More stuff about gods: this time the good and the neutral type.
We could talk about Paladins until the cows come home but there are three important things I’ve learned from skimming the Paladin discussion threads at Paizo.
  1. Discussion threads; gun to the temple, BOOM, amirite?
  2. If you can’t agree with the GM about what the words in the code of conduct mean, don’t play a Paladin.
  3. It really, really helps to read the Paladin code of conduct section:
 A paladin must be of lawful good alignment and loses all class features except proficiencies if she ever willingly commits an evil act.
Additionally, a paladin’s code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.
Associates: While she may adventure with good or neutral allies, a paladin avoids working with evil characters or with anyone who consistently offends her moral code. Under exceptional circumstances, a paladin can ally with evil associates, but only to defeat what she believes to be a greater evil. A paladin should seek an atonement spell periodically during such an unusual alliance, and should end the alliance immediately should she feel it is doing more harm than good. A paladin may accept only henchmen, followers, or cohorts who are lawful good.

That’s a big book for so few rules.

Reading the above code, there aren’t many instances I could think of during ROTRL when this would have been a problem. The party antagonised two figures of authority off the top of my head – Justice Ironbriar and Queen Rhoswen – but one was busy running a murder cult on the side and the other invading the real world from her shadowdarkgrimbad, so I’m not sure anyone needed to respect them at all.
So this seems like a fairly easy code to follow, at least for our group. The pay off is that as a Paladin, you get to show-not-tell how great your deity is and the show-not-tell part is the important part. Paladins aren’t preachy, they aren’t stupid, but they are providing an example of how to do things their god’s way. That may not be the Optimal Approach For Winning The Game of Dungeons and Dragons, but it is important to remember: that isn’t a thing.
Although I’m attaching a Paladin section to those gods below that can have them, it is possible to have a Paladin that is unaligned with a deity, but beholden to a particular principle or philosophy. But they are super rare…. kinda stupid.
The Good Guys
Cayden Cailean – Chaotic Good: Freedom, Booze, Bravery. 
The Accidental God was a man who passed the test of the Starstone on a drunken bet, inadvertently promoting himself to divinity. Opposing tyranny and oppression as he did in his mortal life, Cayden Cailean maintains good relations with the good gods (of course) and also gets on well with Torag. The complexities of divine portfolio clashes are of no particular interest to him or his followers.
Roleplaying Difficulty: Very Easy. For goodness sake, his basic premise is improving the lot of the world through adventure itself.
Desna 5
Desna – Chaotic Good: Dreams, Stars, Travellers and Luck. 
Lady luck is on good terms with the Shelyn, Sarenrae and Cayden Cailean, but stays out of the affairs of all others, save Zon-Kuthon and Rovagug with whom she struggles for control of the night and Lamashtu with whom she has a long history of conflict.
Roleplaying Difficulty: Very Easy. Travelling to far off places for reasons that don’t appeal to most people, risking it all. Bread and butter for followers of Desna.
Sarenrae – Neutral Good: Sun, Redemption, Honesty, Healing. 
In the divine war of pre-history, it was Sarenrae who defeated Rovagug long enough for Asmodeus to lock him away and it was also Sarenrae who filled Rovagug’s prison with fire. Jesus, woman. That seems a bit harsh for someone who purports a redemptive doctrine. Still she does. She is an implacable foe of evil and her church tend to be pretty martial. She maintains relations as much as possible with the evil deities, in an effort to redeem them although she bickers with Asmodeus about the souls of the dead. Very popular in the hot, sandy parts of the world.
Roleplaying Difficulty: Easy. See that Healing part of her portfolio? Yeah. That’ll get you into all sorts of adventuring parties and let you get away with the Honesty and Redemption thing. It’ll let you get away with most things, let’s face it.
Paladins: A pretty easy fit, with the Honesty and the Redemption and what not. Sarenrae already expects her faithful to be good with a sword, so they can wield it without causing undue suffering.
Shelyn – Neutral Good: Beauty, Art, Love, Music. 
A goddess that most other gods and goddesses can’t resist, Shelyn asks for very little, so that’s probably good. The Good gods love her and the Evil gods are pretty neutral about her. She clashes with Urgathoa at the intersection of Love and Excess. Her church is hardly bent on world domination, and maintains little in the way of a militant presence but her message is a popular one.
Roleplaying Difficulty: Moderate. There aren’t many causes associated with her portfolio that involve adventuring. She is a popular goddess, because who couldn’t use a little Shelyn in their life. I guess an Indiana Jones themed cleric would be pretty fun though.
Paladins: Weirdly, yes, although not many. Their tenets are found here: That prevent conflict would get old quickly…
Erastil – Lawful Good: Farming, Hunting, Trade, Family. 
Old Deadeye is of the oldest deities, patron of wilderness communities and hunter-gatherers. His church is simple and traditional. His portfolio inevitably clashes with that of Abadar, god of cities and civilization. Erastil is a little removed from the other Good gods, and isn’t usually allied with them.
Roleplaying Difficulty: Easy. I say easy but only because everyone is used to druids in adventuring parties. A cleric adventuring to defend some isolated crummy town (Hi Sandpoint!) totally makes sense. Other than that, there isn’t much cause for Erastil’s clerics to venture forth. The lawfulness of Erastil isn’t a huge impediment to others – I see this as more of a “cowboy code” approach and isn’t likely to include much that decent folks already do, he is a very basic god, after all.
Paladins: A hermit who follows an ancient warrior code? Living in the back of beyond? Ready to band together with other adventurous sorts and show them the power of the for-… code? I can’t imagine such a thing.
Iomedae – Lawful Good: Valour, Rulership, Justice, Honour. 
When the patron god of mankind – Aroden – died, his herald Iomedae took up his spot at the divine dinner table but with a slightly different portfolio. She inherited many of his followers and clerics too. She is allied with other Good gods as well as Abadar and Torag. She treats Asmodeus with caution and bears a grudge against Pharasma.
Roleplaying Difficulty: Moderate. Adventures usually get kicked off because someone (usually human) is in trouble or has been wronged. So that shouldn’t be hard to find a reason why an Iomedaean might be out adventuring, it’s just that the Lawful Goodness that might weigh on their party-mates. This lawful is a code of conduct, with a bar set high.
Paladins: Iomedae is practically dripping with Paladins, which is good, because she is one of the forces pushing the Crusades in the north. Iomedaean Paladins value religious piety and cleanliness and otherwise embody what people usually think of when they think of Paladins. Most Halflings who become Paladins serve Iomedae.
Torag – Lawful Good: Creation, Protection, Strategy, (Dwarves).
Patron god of the dwarves. Lonny did a good job of being a cleric of Torag, but he is worshipped beyond just the dwarves. Torag opposes the destructive gods, Rovagug in particular, but doesn’t get along with Rovagug’s other main opponent, Sarenrae, for an interesting reason: Torag thinks Sarenrae’s focus on forgiveness and redemption is a weakness. Also, dwarves have little need of the sun. So those two closely similar gods don’t get along. Otherwise, Abadar, Iomedae and Cayden Cailean are allies.
Roleplaying Difficulty: Moderate. Torag is one of those gods whose Lawfulness is going to irk other people, but his portfolio isn’t as hard as Iomedae’s to live up to. I’d say it was easier to be a dwarven follower of Torag, because just being a typical dwarf checks so many of those boxes: excel in craft, defend what you have and think things through.
Paladins: Human Paladins of Torag are unheard of, but plenty of dwarves feel the call. Another natural fit, since Protecting is kind of a Paladin thing.
Faiths of Balance
Abadar – Lawful Neutral: Cities, Wealth, Merchants, Law.
Kind of a paternal figure amongst the gods, which is funny, because his portfolio of interests surely took a while to develop. Maybe not. I don’t know how these things work when you have actual gods. Abadar has guided “demihumans” to form their own civilizations so maybe he can just do that. While not a “good” church, the Abadarians generally believe in everyone’s life getting better through capitalism, civilization and fairness, which is pretty conducive to being well liked. These things have to work well though – corrupt judges, hoarding merchants and repressive laws are targets for Abadarian clerics to crusade against. Abadar deliberately maintains contact with other churches although there is sometimes friction with Erastil and Gozreh.
Roleplaying Difficulty: Easy. Pretty much anything that disrupts the daily routine of civilized places is going to come to the notice of the Abadarians, so they are very likely to be active as adventurers. 
Paladins: Order and safety are two key components required to make civilization flourish and the market develop and Paladins of Abadar make sure those things exist where they need to be. Paladins (LG) would still trust the Abadaran courts (LN) to try criminals and enemies fairly, which may occasionally rankle.
Calistria – Chaotic Neutral: Trickery, Lust, Revenge (Elves).
Femme Fatale extraordinaire, Calistria is revered by the elves above all others as they see in her their deeply passionate and sometimes cruel side. Calistria isn’t just vengeful when wronged, she is vindictive… a woman scorned and what-not. Her temples are somewhere between high-class bordellos and spy houses.
Roleplaying Difficulty: Moderate. A handy god to have on your side, but I can’t imagine a Cleric of Calistria wouldn’t be a troublemaker. Small mischiefs might be fine, but they’ll tend to go just a little over the line every time they think they can. Also, Gorum for girls?
Gorum – Chaotic Neutral: Strength! Battle! Weapons!
OUR LORD IN IRON. Big with Half Orcs and Barbarians.
Roleplaying Difficulty: I’m not going to write anything about Gorum because I think Rolland already did a Cleric of Gorum absolutely perfectly. Uncomplicated, driven, hurty.
Gozreh – True Neutral: Nature, Weather, Sea.
Gozreh is the god of the seas and waters but also the goddess of the air and winds. Gozreh opposes any god that would change the natural world, be it through corruption (evil deities) or development (Abadar). The church has close alliances with Erastil and Desna’s. Gozreh is not god that cares too much for humanity and in many ways is the most distant of those worshipped by the core races. Real wildernesses are his/her domain and they don’t require people to function. That said, Gozreh gets a lot of (desperate) worship in places where the elements can turn deadly; so in that respect he/she is one of the few gods people ask to not fuck them over. Fickle and distant would be the best way to describe Gozreh.
Roleplaying Difficulty: Moderate. Followers of Gozreh would be similar to the most militant of druids. Given their faith’s lack of use for civilization, I can’t see much to make a cleric of Gozreh hit the adventuring trail other than some eco-calamity, although rangers and druids are likely to acknowledge the deity.
Irori – Lawful Neutral: History, Self-Knowledge, Perfection
A big hit with monks, Irori is the patron of the Vudrani humans. Irorians strive for self perfection and ultimately Nirvana, so most of the Lawful-nature is taken up with what they can and cannot do to themselves. Irori is also a dreadful relativist, so his followers don’t take much of a role in solving other people’s issues and he doesn’t take much interest in the other gods because they do what is right for them. Still, his is the kind of wanky navel-gazing that allows you to punch through diamonds, so who can argue with that?
Roleplaying Difficulty: Easy. Duh, levelling up is just a quantified sacrament. And a cleric could certainly assist those also in search of self-improvement. I guess the trick would be coming up with an interesting personality.
Paladins: Apparently they exist. I bet they are really hard to talk to.
Nethys – True Neutral: Magic
An ancient mage-king who worked to see all things eventually got his wish and saw all things across all planes aaaaaaand shattered his mind. He is represented much like Two-Face in Batman comics, fair prince on one side, charred corpse on the other and this represents his dual nature as a Deity of Destruction and Creation. Nethys is focused solely on Magic and its use; the more magic, the better, regardless of the cause or use. In that respect he opposes Rovagug, because Rovagug wants only destruction, which would spoil Nethys’ balance. He is also very interested in Irori, since Irori ascended to Godhood through self perfection, rather than magical means. It is likely, one might argue, that Nethys would act against technology – or anything that would supplant the use of magic – but that isn’t really covered in the source material.
Roleplaying Difficulty: Easy. The only hard part would be getting the magic items in a loot split.
Pharasma – True Neutral: Fate, Death, Prophecy, Rebirth
When someone on Golarion dies, their soul typically ends up in Pharasma’s graveyard, which I assume is like the waiting room in Beetlejuice. There they are shuttled off to whatever just deserts await them where they – and this is super important to Pharasmins – they are supposed to stay. Not come back. Pharasma is a great enemy of the Undead and her followers do what they can to send them back to where they should be. Their other great duty is as midwives, as Pharasma rules over both ends of the great messy tube of life. Necromancers who do not create or use the undead (yes it is possible) are likely to be Pharasmins as she favours their work. Urgathoa, for obvious reasons, is her greatest enemy.
Roleplaying Difficulty: Easy. I really like this deity, so I assume it would be easy to play a kind of benevolent Morticia Addams. The only tricky part would be reminding other players that you can’t summon skeletons. She is NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL/DEATH DEITY.

8 Comments on “The Godblather, Part 2

  1. FYI, I am planning to roll up a paladin for our next campaign. The god smorgasbord you’ve got here will definitely help work out the details.

  2. Yeah, there’s some pretty boss paladin minis in that Bones set that are making me think about rolling one of those next time… though not if Ben does one. Rolland proved you can have cool fun with a cleric in a particular style, so I might look into that again. I feel like I did okay with it as far as Torag, but it’s like you say that as long as you keep the lawfulness up and just act dwarfy the religious part kind of takes care of itself.

    There’s a lot of space to play around with Abadar, and I might like to use some of the groundwork I laid with Ron to keep exploring that. With Ron I kind of kept the religiosity out of the build of the character while I just focused on Monk feats, and once you get to the citadel of giants on top of the mountain most of your difficult role playing decisions are kind of behind you. I might like to screw around with that stuff some more.

  3. I won’t lie, I have a soft spot for the idea of a Paladin of Abadar: protecting the “market” because they believe that it is the greatest instrument for the betterment of civilization. Protecting trade routes, assisting frontier entrepreneurs, punishing the thieves, bandits, raiders, monopolists and swindlers. Abadar is a reasonably good Adam Smith deity.

    “BLAM, you just felt the Invisible Mailed Fist of the Market!”

  4. Paladin of Abadar: Knave, prepare to feel the wrath of Abadar for thine crimes against the good and balanced market!

    Farmer: B..b..but I didn’t do anything but file my tax return…

    PoA: Ha! Such duplicity doth not suit you, fool! Did you think you would succeed in your insidious plot to not include the 1099-PATR for cooperative redistribution referenced on line 3 from your schedule F supplement to your 1040? DID YOU?


    • Incorrectly completed paperwork punishing is definitely the remit of the Asmodeans – see part 1.

      But I like that Asmodeus and Abadar have so much synergy… it makes having an evil god so deliciously mainstream.

  5. Nice job on the review of the Pathfinder gods. I’ve been thinking about my next character, too, and I’m leaning towards a non-magical sword-wielder of some kind. Can you believe in the 3+ years we’ve been playing Pathfinder I’ve never had a sword-wielding character? Neither can I. Not sure if it would be a vanilla fighter or a insane-in-the-membrane barbarian, but having a sly swordsman with no time more magical tomfoolery sounds like fun.

    I would also like to add that I did think about paladin a while back, too. But I don’t have any inclination now, unless we want to have a party of Paladins. At which point we might as well play a party of Mormons. Go Heavenly Father!

    • I’m glad that people are finding this useful.

      In addition to Paladins, Clerics and Inquisitors*; I’d be happy to see non-religious class characters influenced by the religions. They are, after all a lot more stable and long lived than most of the nations on Golarion.