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Old 01-21-2020, 05:52 PM
Knowed Out's Avatar
Knowed Out is offline
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: North Kakkalakee
Posts: 15,578
OK, looks like I have to provide some context. There's a lot of back story to this, so I'll try not to make this into War & Peace.

The campaign is based on Throne of Bones by Brian McNaughton. Picture HP Lovecraft-style stories, but instead of taking place in New England, it's Rome at the time of Caligula. Instead of the narrators being stuffy professors, they're narcissistic nobles. Crotalorn is an ancient city that has been ruled by two rival clans, the Vendrens and the Fands, who have fought each other for centuries. Neither side is the "good guys." Crotalorn has fallen into near ruin because neither side will clean up their messes. The Vendrens are mostly lawful evil, insidious spellcasters (favoring towards necromancers) and continually plot and scheme, not only against the Fands, but each other as well. The Fands are mostly chaotic neutral, who tend to shoot first and ask questions later, but often neglect to ask the questions. They don't bother with due process too much. They imprison people who cross them and let them rot without doing any follow through, and every few years execute all the prisoners who haven't been claimed or released, mainly because of laziness. There's also a necropolis populated by ghouls. If a ghoul kills somebody and eats their brain, it thinks it is now its victim and doesn't recall the killing. That's a whole 'nother story.

When I told my gaming group I had a Pathfinder campaign, Jim wanted to play a paladin named Pharcos. I told him the back story and came up with a way to work him into the campaign. The Vendrens have been losing power and influence throughout the years, and they came up with a plan to legitimize all their bastards, ensuring each one a seat in Parliament, thus swelling their numbers. Pharcos was one of those bastards, and the other PCs had origins tying into his. Pharcos has aspirations to be the new emperor of the Crotalorn Empire. The other PCs are effectively his Band of Merry Men, so they accompany him on his adventures.

Pharcos worships Polliel, the Sun God. McNaughton doesn't go into much detail about the gods, so I more or less based them on their Golarian equivalents. Polliel = Iomedae, the Golarian Sun God. Gluttriel = Orcus, the God of Death, and so on. In the stories, the Vendrens worship Sleithreethra, goddess of evil, and they aren't too subtle about it. I came up another incentive for Pharcos to journey to Crotalorn. Throughout the centuries, his family pulled a Borgia-type coup and supplanted the Sun God's clerics with false priests. Thus, the Sun God's power has waned considerably, and Pharcos would be the one to set things right. So, Pharcos has every reason to hate his family and kill them on sight.

Now, this can open a bigass can of worms about whether Pharcos is being LG despite killing his family. The most basic of D&D morality is that you're good if you kill evil things. So, Pharcos is good because he kills evil people. However, some would consider killing your family an evil act. It's certainly illegal in today's system of law. That's where alignment quibbling can take up vast amounts of game time, which can lead some players to become bored and eventually drop out. Thus, I'm morally flexible. Instead of having a LG god punish the paladin, I do it more like EQ factions. Whatever you do will be looked upon favorably by some people, but not by others. The Pope could be regarded as the most lawful good person in existence because of his perceived holiness, but there's plenty of people who think otherwise. Our most famous heroes and icons have done some pretty scummy things. Jacob, for example, is considered one of God's Chosen, but he was a liar, cheat and thief. He swindled his brother out of his birthright, and stole healthy livestock from neighboring farms and replaced them with his own sick animals. Yet God appointed him to father the Twelve Tribes of Israel. If Pharcos can undo the evil of his family's machinations, Polliel isn't going to mind some shenanigans. Other factions however will mind and will cause trouble for Pharcos later.

Because of all the back stories and plots and schemes, the campaign has become more political, which can interest some but completely bore others. Ever since the onset of rpgs, players have largely become conditioned to the idea of creating characters that are effective at killing shit. A little back story is fine, but when all's said and done, they want to kill shit and get treasure. Thus, I have to find a way for them to get into a kill-and-loot situation that makes sense within the setting of the campaign. When we get together out of the game, I ask them what they're interested in doing behind the scenes. I get ideas for scenarios based on these discussions. I decided to write up a way Pharcos and his cohorts could kill Vendrens without having to delve into too much Dan Brown-level detail. Thus, I introduced the "poor princess forced to marry the evil old bastard" scenario. Prior to the wedding, the rogue served as messenger between the princess and Pharcos, so he had to do some solo stealthing and skullduggery. They were able to learn the date, time and location of the wedding so they could rescue yon fair maiden like Errol Flynn. I regarded this as a Mafia wedding. At some time the musicians open up their cases and spray the bride's family with machine gun fire. The Vendrens actually consider it a mark of status to have casualties at their weddings, and they're prepared for such an eventuality. Typical of Pathfinder combat, the wedding fight took 4-5 gaming sessions, each lasting a round or two but taking hours to complete.

So now, Pharcos has to deal with the repercussions of his actions, thus my wanting to introduce the FiL. I don't want the character to be evil mainly because I don't want Pharcos to get his vs. evil bonuses, but I did want to provide Pharcos with ample reason to butt heads. I'll probably delete the flaying of his daughter part. It was more to underscore his regard of people = property with lawful neutral justification. A quality merchant doesn't want to have the reputation that he deals with tainted goods, and a daughter bred for noble clientele but rejected would look bad. The possibility certainly exists that the two can negotiate terms, but Pathfinder players accustomed to kill & loot tactics don't usually go down that path. Plus, Pharcos tends to be absolute and inflexible, so a fight is certain to break out.