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Kami2awa
2018-07-06, 05:38 AM
This is based on my understanding of how the afterlife works in D&D, which is as follows - when a mortal being dies, their soul is transferred to one of the Outer Planes, specifically the one most matching their alignment. Following this, they are stuck on that plane for eternity. Not much can interrupt the passage of a soul to the appropriate plane - pretty much the only things are Soul Binding or undeath.

It is often said that being evil in such a world is a terrible idea, because you are almost guaranteed to go somewhere nasty on death. Even undeath or other magics only delay the inevitable.

But, do most mortals know this? Certainly, its possible to travel to the Outer Planes, but Plane Shift is a high level spell and likely outside the reach of most people, and just because you've visited a place, doesn't mean you know everything about it. Commune and similar spells can give cryptic answers, which likely religious scholars will argue over for... ever, really. Also, distribution of information is nowhere near as efficient as our world - you can't exactly check wikipedia. Evil outsiders are very likely to lie about how the afterlife works, and this will confuse the issue further. As a result, many religions will have the wrong idea about the afterlife.

awa
2018-07-06, 07:14 AM
It depends heavily on setting, because not all work that way. (also you forgot that you can end up in your gods realm)

ChamHasNoRoom
2018-07-06, 07:24 AM
Dead people seem to be able to travel at least to other outer planes with the same expedience as the living. So, when you die, you may end up in Arcadia, but you can still Plane Shift to Pandemonium. Provided you have access to 13th level magical mojo, which like one in every 10,000 people (or less, depending on setting) can, so the "once you're there, you're stuck" clause is usually accurate. The important thing to note here, however, is that if a high-level Wizard shows up in Baator and doesn't like it, then unless the Devils expend resources on keeping them imprisoned, they can just leave, and it's not usually worth it to bother. So, Evil adventurers, even if fully informed, may be like someone moving to Hollywood to try and make it as an actor, betting it all that they'll be the one who gets an evil condominium instead of getting skewered.

And being powerful enough to get a good deal out of ending up in Baator is strongly correlated with being powerful enough to have any idea what Baator is like. Particularly in Evil societies, probably most peasants have no idea what happens afterwards, and are told that Baator is the place where the devoted are rewarded for their obedience and loyalty. People who are more powerful can get a pretty sweet deal out of the afterlife even if they're Evil. D&D posits that Evil is locked in an eternal war with Good, and it's a regular land war with army formations and sieges and stuff, so while a pit fiend could render that 6th-level Ranger who hunted commoners for sport down into a lemure, he is way better off just adding that guy to one of his mid-level adventuring parties and shipping him off to the Blood War.

Darth Ultron
2018-07-06, 11:35 AM
As the gods in D&D are real, they would tell all their followers the truth about the afterlife. Even if one god or a dozen wanted to lie it would be pointless as all the rest would tell the truth. The universe is also full of plenty of 'neutral' forces that will also tell the truth.

A person that dies has their soul got to the Outer Plane that most matches their alignment , or if they were faithful to the realm of their deity.

Any people living on a D&D would would know this basic fact.

In the D&D world being evil is not even close to a 'terrible' idea: it is in fact a great idea. An evil person in a D&D world is rewarded in the afterlife, not punished.

The typical mythological idea told to the 'people' to make them behave and be worker drones for the rich/powerful is that 'the people' must ''do good'', with ''good'' being defined as ''working for the rich and powerful'' and ''bad'' is anything they don't like. D&D is not like this idea.

Nifft
2018-07-06, 11:46 AM
This is based on my understanding of how the afterlife works in D&D, which is as follows - when a mortal being dies, their soul is transferred to one of the Outer Planes, specifically the one most matching their alignment. Following this, they are stuck on that plane for eternity. Not much can interrupt the passage of a soul to the appropriate plane - pretty much the only things are Soul Binding or undeath.

In Eberron, your soul goes to Dolurrh, where it waits in line briefly (... in geological time), and then the soul leaves -- and nobody knows what happens next.

Bad Wolf
2018-07-06, 11:53 AM
Most peasants probably know a watered-down version. If you're good you'll go with (Insert Deity Here), if you're wicked you'll go to hell. So that's why you have to eat your supper, Timothy.

NichG
2018-07-06, 11:57 AM
This is missing a few salient details though. For one thing, en-route to its destination, souls are converted into the form of a Petitioner of that plane - this, in most cases, means losing both memories of life as well as any skills or powers gained during life, reverting to what amounts to a Lv1 character. Furthermore, petitioners generally cannot learn or grow independently from whatever promotion mechanism their destination plane employs. Deities can intervene and preserve their favored heroes or worshippers, but this seems to be infrequent enough that most people can't hope for it even if they live a life of faith to their deity of choice.

So for anyone who considers their memories and skills to be more important to their identity than just the raw soul-stuff underlying it, there are still plenty of incentives to take risks to change the deal. The most broadly available such method is to be exceptional enough to warrant the direct intervention of a deity upon their death - meaning that if they think they can only do lukewarm deeds of Good but spectacularly earth-shattering deeds of Evil, well, that may be a meaningful temptation. Similarly, direct infernal contracts might potentially let someone retain their identity as part of the process. Simply cheating death directly via e.g. undeath or more esoteric methods can easily be seen as preferable to dying and being erased, even if whatever residual bit of self spends the rest of eternity in a euphoric haze. Finally, someone who wants to dodge punishment and isn't interested in eternity can make endeavor towards various transformations which literally make their soul into their physical body (e.g. they can try to become an Outsider, though the methods for doing so are pretty much restricted to high level shenanigans) in which case they just have to worry about oblivion and not something like eternal torture.

Not to mention that the Upper Planes have their share of nastiness. Landing in the Beastlands is a bit iffy, and even Elysium has a layer which has been sealed off sacrificially to contain a great evil (so you've got a 2/3 chance of bliss and 1/3 of hunted by abominations in swamp-heaven if you're going there without pre-selecting a divine realm to land in). Ysgard meanwhile is somewhat like the gloryhound version of Acheron - both involve fighting and dying in endless battles, though Ysgard has better booze for when you make it through the day alive. Meanwhile, there are some nice realms in the Outlands if you can pull a True Neutral.

Anyhow, while some places are pretty obviously bad landing spots no matter who you are (there's not even the hope of coming out ahead somehow if you end up on Pandemonium or the Grey Waste), there's enough variety and uncertainty and inevitable loss no matter what happens on death that I can see people coming to a wide variety of decisions as to how much in particular they're going to sacrifice of the active part of their existence in service of the sedentary afterlife bit.

Nifft
2018-07-06, 12:04 PM
Ysgard meanwhile is somewhat like the gloryhound version of Acheron - both involve fighting and dying in endless battles, though Ysgard has better booze for when you make it through the day alive.

It's always amused me that Ysgard and Acheron are supposed to be diametric opposites, but they're basically the same thing -- except Ysgard has booze.

Is that really the main difference between extra-Lawful Lawful Evil vs. extra-Chaotic Chaotic Good?

Anymage
2018-07-06, 12:08 PM
In D&D, hell is indeed other people. Or to put it more clearly, the landscape and planar traits are less important than the simple fact that everybody there shares the same alignment and outlook. Pre-character developlent Belkar sees the world as a place where the strong stab the weak for the lulz, and will wind up in a place where some entities have been at that for way longer than him and have gotten way better at stabbing underlings.

Some people worship evil deities on the assumption that they'll be rewarded somehow in the afterlife. (Which may or may not be raw idiocy. Evil deities will often prevent random fiends from picking on their followers, just because allowing randos to screw around on your turf shows weakness. It's unlikely to be a nice place full of nice people, but some domains will be appealing to certain types.) Some people feel that they're somehow innately better, and will come out on top of the darwinian scuffles that evil tends to embrace. Some think that deep down everybody is out for number one anyways, and that there's no point in living in denial just so you get to go somewhere with fluffy clouds where the holier-than-thou types will dump on them anyways.

You don't quite get as many misguided cultists, but there are plenty of reasons someone might sign on with team evil all the same.

PairO'Dice Lost
2018-07-06, 02:47 PM
As the gods in D&D are real, they would tell all their followers the truth about the afterlife. Even if one god or a dozen wanted to lie it would be pointless as all the rest would tell the truth. The universe is also full of plenty of 'neutral' forces that will also tell the truth.

A person that dies has their soul got to the Outer Plane that most matches their alignment , or if they were faithful to the realm of their deity.

Any people living on a D&D would would know this basic fact.

Pretty much this. If every single real-world religion agreed on the details of the afterlife, down to the precise details and who ends up going where, and important figures of various religious had taken trips to the afterlife and could speak authoritatively about it (and they all agreed on their information), and any church/mosque/synagogue/temple/etc. who claimed the others were lying was subject to an obvious sign of divine disapproval showing that that they were wrong and the majority was right...that would be a pretty good sign that what they were saying was accurate.


It's always amused me that Ysgard and Acheron are supposed to be diametric opposites, but they're basically the same thing -- except Ysgard has booze.

Is that really the main difference between extra-Lawful Lawful Evil vs. extra-Chaotic Chaotic Good?

Opposing planes often have similar surface themes. Acheron and Ysgard have endless battles, Elysium and Hades make you want to stay there, Bytopia and Carceri have separate planets with their own gravity and everyone has to work for everything, and so on. But the alignment of the plane is expressed in the details. They're sort of Mirror Universe versions of each other, and seeing the two side by side gives creatures a deeper understanding of both planes and both alignments.

Acheron and Ysgard both feature endless battle, but Acheron is all about press-ganged armies fighting for their masters to the (permanent) death, while Ysgard is about individual bands of warriors fighting for glory and self-improvement and returning if they're slain. Elysium and Hades both cause creatures to eventually make you unable to leave, but Elysium does it by fulfilling all your dreams of peace and harmony to the point that you have no reason to leave and face the drabness of the rest of the multiverse, while Hades does it by being an emotional void that drains your hope that you could ever find peace and fulfillment so you might as well give up and stay there. Bytopia and Carceri both require hard work of their inhabitants, but Bytopia does it because hard work is its own reward and contributing to the betterment of the fellow creatures working alongside you is the honorable and righteous thing to do, while Carceri does it because you're surrounded by traitors and backstabbers and if you rest for even a moment you'll lose everything you've gained and be trapped on your current orb with nothing to show for it.

Darth Ultron
2018-07-06, 04:52 PM
This is missing a few salient details though. For one thing, en-route to its destination, souls are converted into the form of a Petitioner of that plane - this, in most cases, means losing both memories of life as well as any skills or powers gained during life, reverting to what amounts to a Lv1 character.

This depends on the edition. Petitioners don't come around until Planescape in '94. 0E, 1E and 2E don't have the word, and just have ''the dead'' in the Outer Planes.

In D&D, creatures do not "fall" into Evil. Being Evil is a valid choice that is fully supported by half the gods just as Good is. Those who follow the tenets of Evil throughout their lives are judged by Evil Gods when they die, and can gain rewards at least as enticing as those offered to those who follow the path of Good (who, after all, are judged by Good Gods after they die). So when sahuagin run around on land snatching children to use as slaves or sacrifices to Baatorians, they aren't putting their soul in danger. They are actually keeping their soul safe. Once you step down the path of villainy, you get a better deal in the afterlife by being more evil.

hamishspence
2018-07-06, 11:23 PM
Actually, all sahaugin loyal to their deity, get exactly the same afterlife, no matter what their alignment is. Some might be strongly Evil, some weakly evil, some, even clerics, might be LN - but they all go to the same destination - Sekolah's part of the Nine Hells - and they all have the same thing happen to them.

Instead of being turned into lemures like most LE souls - they are turned into fiendish sahaugin. And they all have the same thing to do - follow their deity around the cold sea layer. In an extremely exact formation. Put a fin wrong, and the deity eats them.

Their status might possibly determine where in the formation they go - but, in practice, every sahaugin, from an LN cleric who is one of the least evil, to an LE baron who has taken a ton of vile feats and is one of the most evil, is having the same thing happen.



So, in this particular case, the degree of evilness/devotion they did to get there, doesn't matter much - they are all being treated in roughly the same manner regardless. No sahaugin has gotten a "better deal".

Darth Ultron
2018-07-07, 12:51 AM
Actually, all sahaugin loyal to their deity, get exactly the same afterlife, no matter what their alignment is.

So, in this particular case, the degree of evilness/devotion they did to get there, doesn't matter much - they are all being treated in roughly the same manner regardless. No sahaugin has gotten a "better deal".

Why do you say this? Is this in a rulebook somewhere? That sahaugin afterlife does not follow the normal way of things? Is this maybe a wacky 4E thing?

War_lord
2018-07-07, 01:39 AM
Why do you say this? Is this in a rulebook somewhere? That sahaugin afterlife does not follow the normal way of things? Is this maybe a wacky 4E thing?

Sekolah's "afterlife" being the area directly around him in the Fated Depths has been a thing since at least 2nd edition Planescape. The only "reward" is that you get to be half-fiend while stuck in your eternity of being the god's retinue.

Most of the evil gods in most settings (leaving aside the very poorly thought out Faerūn Cosmology) have an "afterlife" that's just whatever corner of the evil aligned planes they've managed to carve out for themselves, and their petitioners spend that afterlife defending the area. That's hardly a pleasing way to spend eternity. It's marginally better then ending up in the Nine Hells or Abyss, because at least you keep your sense of self, but it hardly fits the assertion that the evil afterlife is just as rewarding as a good afterlife.

hamishspence
2018-07-07, 01:48 AM
Why do you say this? Is this in a rulebook somewhere? That sahaugin afterlife does not follow the normal way of things? Is this maybe a wacky 4E thing?

It's in Fiendish Codex 2, which is 3.5. There is something similar for kobolds- they are fiendish kobolds in the afterlife instead of lemures. In fact, the general rule for LE deities that reside in Hell, is that their followers aren't bound by the standard "turn into a lemure" that "ordinary LE souls" get.

page 40 of FC2:

"Lawful evil deities do not necessarily condemn their dead worshippers to the Maggot Pit. Many, like Kurtulmak, instead allow favoured followers to serve for eternity in fiendish form. Each such soul retains full memories of its mortal life, along with an idealised, if horrific, appearance."

page 59:

"Miles beneath the Stygian ice lies the frigid, aquatic realm of Sekolah, the gigantic white shark deity of the sahaugin. Sekolah glides silently and languidly through the bright blue waters of Sheyruushk, attended by his fiendish sahaugin minions. These creatures swim eternally around him, nervously maintaining their positions in a series of complex geometric patterns that change according to a strict choregraphy. Any sahuagin moving so much as a flippered limb out of place is swiftly snapped up and devoured by its deity."


In Complete Divine, a point is made that, for a devoted follower of the deity, "deity's afterlife" overrides alignment - so you can have LN and NE souls in a LE deity's domain.

page 126:

"If you were a cleric or a devoted worshipper of a specific deity, your soul goes to the outer plane that is home to that deity, even if your alignment doesn't exactly match your deity's."

"If you didn't worship a deity, or if religion wasn't an important part of your life (as demonstrated by your behaviour, especially right before death), your soul goes to an outer plane that matches your alignment. In some cases, any of a number of planes might be appropriate. For example, a CN character's soul might go to Ysgard, Limbo, or Pandemonium."

"If you aren't sure whether a character was devout enough to be with her deity in the afterlife, err on the side of uniting the soul with the deity it worshipped."

farothel
2018-07-07, 02:29 AM
Ever since Rich did that thing with Roy going to the afterlife, that's how it's been pushed into my mind. At least for LG characters.

Kaptin Keen
2018-07-07, 03:54 AM
But, do most mortals know this?

In short: Yes. The gods are real and present, priests and mages alike can and will voice their actual, factual knowledge of these things. There are ways of contacting the dead and get real confirmation of how things stand.

It's possible to imagine a deity that has some obscure interest in deliberate misinformation about these things, but offhand, I can't come up with anything.

To me, it would be much more interesting to drill deeper into how true it actually is. I've always felt that the huge majority of everyone feels themselves to be good people. You can think of your favourite real world example, and I'd argue 'that guy (m/f) propably felt he (or she) was a good person with high moral standards, perhaps forced into making harsh and difficult decisions.'

Ghengis Khan, who apparently left whole civilizations in ruins, propably felt he only did what he had to.

So if Ghengis Khan felt he was LG, how surprised would he have been on his death, when he found out the universe in general disagreed rather a lot, and he was tossed straight into the Abyss? =)

ChamHasNoRoom
2018-07-07, 10:13 AM
As the gods in D&D are real, they would tell all their followers the truth about the afterlife.

Personally? Does every peasant in D&D Morder get a personal visit from Gruumsh to explain what's up? The magical power needed to actually confirm the afterlife is pretty much all reserved for characters 9th level and up, and even then only the ones who chose one of a small handful of classes. For most D&D settings, characters of that high a level are rare enough that any given small- or mid-sized city most likely has maybe a single Cleric of that level. Long range or otherwise rapid communication between cities is likewise limited to mid-level characters of specific classes and is not freely available to the commoners. If a god wants to deceive people living in and around that city about the nature of the afterlife, he only has to convince the one person who can personally verify things one way or another. If that one person is an acolyte of the god who would prefer that city and its hinterland not know how Baator actually works, it will not be very hard at all to convince them.

Darth Ultron
2018-07-07, 11:11 AM
Personally? Does every peasant in D&D Morder get a personal visit from Gruumsh to explain what's up?

This is why gods have religions with servants, followers, priests and clerics. If fact, the god can come down just once..do a couple miracles and say somethings and have their faithful believe in that for 2000+ years. Though in D&D a god could pop down every couple years too.



For most D&D settings, characters of that high a level are rare enough that any given small- or mid-sized city most likely has maybe a single Cleric of that level.

Depends on the setting. Sure, some like Ebberon have like one 2nd level cleric in a city of a million people that can cast the spell light once a day. Some, like the Forgotten Realms or Planescape, have more clerics above 1st level in a single temple, then the whole Ebberon planet.

And note the ''high level NPCs are rare'' is a 3E thing. 0E, 1E and 2E have no super strict rule saying the number of npc levels in a spot.



Long range or otherwise rapid communication between cities is likewise limited to mid-level characters of specific classes and is not freely available to the commoners.

Long range communication is not a problem for mundanes: see history. ''Rapid', maybe not by modern standards....even more so the last couple years, but there was communication. But then the average folk did not need to send and get messages from 5,000 miles away anyway.

And you might note from history that religious communication does spread very well among the commoners.




If a god wants to deceive people living in and around that city about the nature of the afterlife, he only has to convince the one person who can personally verify things one way or another. If that one person is an acolyte of the god who would prefer that city and its hinterland not know how Baator actually works, it will not be very hard at all to convince them.

As I said above, this will only work if the god can somehow get rid of all the other gods from that city, and also get rid of any 'neutral' powerful beings that know the truth.

Though, sure, it's possible for the god(or anyone really) to brainwash everyone and make them moonbat crazy too. Again: see history.

Lunali
2018-07-07, 11:54 AM
As I said above, this will only work if the god can somehow get rid of all the other gods from that city, and also get rid of any 'neutral' powerful beings that know the truth.

Though, sure, it's possible for the god(or anyone really) to brainwash everyone and make them moonbat crazy too. Again: see history.

It also works if it is to the advantage of all the gods involved that people believe something that isn't true. For example, if people go to the plane of their alignment regardless of what they believe in, the gods might very well lie to them and tell them that they go to their god's realm when they die. If people found out that they don't have to worship the gods to go to "heaven" the gods might find themselves losing much of their power.

Mystral
2018-07-07, 12:42 PM
Dead people seem to be able to travel at least to other outer planes with the same expedience as the living. So, when you die, you may end up in Arcadia, but you can still Plane Shift to Pandemonium. Provided you have access to 13th level magical mojo, which like one in every 10,000 people (or less, depending on setting) can, so the "once you're there, you're stuck" clause is usually accurate. The important thing to note here, however, is that if a high-level Wizard shows up in Baator and doesn't like it, then unless the Devils expend resources on keeping them imprisoned, they can just leave, and it's not usually worth it to bother. So, Evil adventurers, even if fully informed, may be like someone moving to Hollywood to try and make it as an actor, betting it all that they'll be the one who gets an evil condominium instead of getting skewered.

And being powerful enough to get a good deal out of ending up in Baator is strongly correlated with being powerful enough to have any idea what Baator is like. Particularly in Evil societies, probably most peasants have no idea what happens afterwards, and are told that Baator is the place where the devoted are rewarded for their obedience and loyalty. People who are more powerful can get a pretty sweet deal out of the afterlife even if they're Evil. D&D posits that Evil is locked in an eternal war with Good, and it's a regular land war with army formations and sieges and stuff, so while a pit fiend could render that 6th-level Ranger who hunted commoners for sport down into a lemure, he is way better off just adding that guy to one of his mid-level adventuring parties and shipping him off to the Blood War.

Dead people who get a body and aren't just floating soul stuff that merges with its plane become petitioners, which can't gain levels and certainly plane shift.

Anymage
2018-07-07, 03:21 PM
It also works if it is to the advantage of all the gods involved that people believe something that isn't true. For example, if people go to the plane of their alignment regardless of what they believe in, the gods might very well lie to them and tell them that they go to their god's realm when they die. If people found out that they don't have to worship the gods to go to "heaven" the gods might find themselves losing much of their power.

This requires either a FR-esque afterlife for nonbelievers, or some reason why having followers go to a specific god's realm is better overall than just having good people go to general heaven. It also opens up a big can of worms. When a prophet comes down explaining that the existing religions are all wrong and that you just have to be nice to each other (as part of a fiendish plot), it's incredibly tempting to model the fake fiend-prophet on some real religious personage that one dislikes.

More directly, though. If for some reason good gods gained more power to do good deeds through mortal acts of worship and devotion, why wouldn't good mortals throw a few prayers around as a cheap way to buff up their team? FR wall logic (worshippers of good gods would stop empowering strong forces for good if they weren't personally threatened) seems nonsensical.

WindStruck
2018-07-07, 03:58 PM
Did some digging on Elysium, and even the 3rd swampy layer isn't so bad. It isn't that the whole layer is a prison for some monster, but that one or more monsters happen to be imprisoned somewhere on that layer. It's also frequently patrolled by guardians.

Not the safest of places, but I still think your survival chances would be good.

Lunali
2018-07-07, 05:00 PM
This requires either a FR-esque afterlife for nonbelievers, or some reason why having followers go to a specific god's realm is better overall than just having good people go to general heaven. It also opens up a big can of worms. When a prophet comes down explaining that the existing religions are all wrong and that you just have to be nice to each other (as part of a fiendish plot), it's incredibly tempting to model the fake fiend-prophet on some real religious personage that one dislikes.

More directly, though. If for some reason good gods gained more power to do good deeds through mortal acts of worship and devotion, why wouldn't good mortals throw a few prayers around as a cheap way to buff up their team? FR wall logic (worshippers of good gods would stop empowering strong forces for good if they weren't personally threatened) seems nonsensical.

I don't think you understood what I was saying.

Hypothetical world:
1. People go to the plane of their alignment when they die, no matter what.
2. Gods exist and have power because people worship them.
Therefore:
3. Gods of all alignments tell people that when they die they go to their worshiped god's realm or will be rewarded in some way, possibly just by not being made part of "the wall of the faithless"
4. People believe that they have to worship a god to go to heaven

Note that this does not require the existence of any form of punishment for nonbelievers.

Anymage
2018-07-07, 05:58 PM
If you tell me that I need to worship to get into heaven (or to dodge hell), that's a threat. Even if the metaphysics of the universe make it an empty one.

What bugs me more, though, is the idea that good people are selfish and need to be threatened in order to worship good gods. Assuming that prayer does empower gods, and that good gods are indeed good, why wouldn't a good character want to say their prayers every night if it supports some of the strongest champions of goodness out there? The idea that good characters would say "I'm getting into heaven, no point in doing something that advances the cause of team Good" seems rather off.

D+1
2018-07-07, 06:05 PM
This is based on my understanding of how the afterlife works in D&D, which is as follows -
Mostly correct according to D&DG which provided the first book rules on the subject. Most PC races have souls, elves and half-orcs have spirits. When a character with a soul dies it goes to the plane of its alignment - and which plane that is, is determined by the DM's assessment of the characters alignment rather than what the character sheet says, or what the player might otherwise believe. The soul then remains there forever (or, obviously, when pulled back to mortality by resurrection magic). When a character with a spirit dies they similarly go to the plane of their alignment, but their afterlife reward is somewhat lesser and they may only be there temporarily and may be reincarnated (even without the reincarnation spell being used upon their corpse). However, the book also says:


(Note: The above is only a suggested method for dealing with character life-after-death. The DM may, of course, use whatever system is most appropriate to his or her campaign.
But the trip to the plane of alignment is not instantaneous. It takes 3-30 days, thus accounting for why it takes progressively higher level casters to interrupt that journey and raise the dead, whether it's a soul or a spirit. Resurrection is different from Raise Dead in that it pulls the deceased from the outer plane where they ended up and that has implications for interaction with the deities concerned -those of both the cleric and the recipient of the spell or which rule the plane they're on.


But, do most mortals know this?Unless extraordinarily ignorant of spiritual matters, yes, they'd know that after they die they're going someplace particular, generally a plane where their chosen deity (if any) resides or holds sway. Although the things your chosen deity cares about and how your PC deals with those matters in their life are important matters, really it just comes down to your characters alignment. That's all. The rest is all details left to the DM to implement or ignore as the DM desires as house rules for their campaign.

Planescape came along and made additions and changes to all that (which _I_ never really cared about at all), but that holds little water in a game where the DM does not choose to incorporate the rules of the Planescape setting to also apply to whatever setting they are running; just as Spelljammer rules mean doodly squat - in ANY setting - if the DM simply doesn't want to use them, or perhaps simply doesn't OWN the rule books that include them.

And clearly, if the DM is using a specific pantheon a lot of those D&DG rules can simply be rendered moot by pantheon-specific religious beliefs, myths and legends. In the Norse mythos, whatever your alignment, the DM could determine that your PC ends up in Valhalla simply waiting for Ragnarok, despite the fact that by the default Great Wheel cosmology, Valhalla is for "chaotic good neutrals". In the Egyptian mythos, you may not be going anywhere in the afterlife if your DM determines that as a worshipper within that mythos you want or even NEED the whole pyramid and rooms full of loot to have any kind of decent afterlife (or at the least it might matter what powerful NPC's afterlife wagon it is that you hitch YOUR fate to as a faithful servant... and then you get to be buried with them to continue to serve them in the afterlife...), none of which has a lot to do with your PC's alignment except perhaps HOW you get the loot to stock your tomb with.

Yet, those pantheons can still stick to the default D&DG procedure for the afterlife which hinges ENTIRELY on your alignment and whether your race has a soul vs. spirit, not character class, choice of pantheon or even particular deity.

In just about any religion there's going to be information about life-after-death, and the default D&D information is the same for everyone of every religion. But then add to that the fact that such information CAN be (though doesn't ever HAVE to be) verified first hand by others before YOU ever die, then the idea that anyone in a D&D world WOULDN'T know what's going to happen when they die is actually difficult to grasp.

Lunali
2018-07-07, 06:27 PM
If you tell me that I need to worship to get into heaven (or to dodge hell), that's a threat. Even if the metaphysics of the universe make it an empty one.

What bugs me more, though, is the idea that good people are selfish and need to be threatened in order to worship good gods. Assuming that prayer does empower gods, and that good gods are indeed good, why wouldn't a good character want to say their prayers every night if it supports some of the strongest champions of goodness out there? The idea that good characters would say "I'm getting into heaven, no point in doing something that advances the cause of team Good" seems rather off.

Some people won't need to be threatened, probably most people, but if the threat of hell brings in more worshipers, most gods will include it. Keep in mind that the vast majority of the population in most worlds tends towards neutral, not good, in their actions.

WindStruck
2018-07-07, 07:03 PM
If it is simply the metaphysics of the universe drawing souls to a particular outer plane rather than actions made by gods, then I wouldn't call saying an evil person is going to hell is a threat. It's no more a threat than saying to some idiot standing on a train track trying to take a selfie that he's about to be hit by a train.

Mark Hall
2018-07-07, 08:59 PM
An oldie of mine, but...

Corpses and Caches (http://rpgcrank.blogspot.com/2013/07/corpses-and-caches.html)

I'd say that the degree of knowledge somewhat varies by edition. In 2e, I'd say that knowing about it would be the province of clerics, wizards, bards (who know a little bit of everything), and anyone with the Religion NWP.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-07, 09:43 PM
If it is simply the metaphysics of the universe drawing souls to a particular outer plane rather than actions made by gods, then I wouldn't call saying an evil person is going to hell is a threat. It's no more a threat than saying to some idiot standing on a train track trying to take a selfie that he's about to be hit by a train.

Agreed. Threats require that the threatener will take discretionary action if not appeased. Warnings of natural and inevitable consequences are not threats. Or bribes. They're conditional facts.

Telling a kid in a lab "don't combine bleach and ammonia, it produces toxic chloramine" isn't a threat, it's a warning.

NichG
2018-07-07, 10:40 PM
On the other hand, saying 'you're standing on a railway track and it looks like you don't really know how to get off of it. There's a train coming. If and only if you agree to worship me, I'll rescue you' is, if not a threat, at least a form of extortion.

ChamHasNoRoom
2018-07-07, 10:47 PM
This is why gods have religions with servants, followers, priests and clerics.

They need an extremely high density of mid-level Clerics to make this work. Very few settings posit that density. Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk do not posit a world where every god has level 9+ Clerics in every city, or even a large number of them. Waterdeep-style massive trade centers have this kind of density of mid- and high-level religious figures, but most cities do not.


If fact, the god can come down just once..do a couple miracles and say somethings and have their faithful believe in that for 2000+ years. Though in D&D a god could pop down every couple years too.

Evidently not, or why have heroes? A fundamental premise of every D&D setting is that the gods are not the primary actors in the mortal world, even when it comes to the defense of their own faithful and the advancement of their own goals. So far as having a religion endure for 2,000+ years on the basis of "a couple of miracles," have you forgotten that the premise here is that there is a god actively working to deceive people as to the nature of the afterlife (because being an Evil peasant sucks in the long run)? If a Good god can perform a miracle to try and convince people of the truth, an Evil god can perform nearly identical miracles to deceive them.


Some, like the Forgotten Realms or Planescape, have more clerics above 1st level in a single temple, then the whole Ebberon planet.

You're looking for level nine, not level two. Every major D&D setting assumes that each level you advance puts you in a more and more exclusive club. If there are a hundred people in town who are level 3, then there are significantly fewer who are level 4. Absolute numbers vary based on what your starting population is, but Sigil is a puny city. The 2e Factol's Manifesto puts its population at well under a million. If 60% - roughly the entire adult population - have class levels, and 10% of them are specifically Clerics, your total Cleric population for all gods in Sigil, one of the largest cities in the setting, is 30,000. The majority of those will be low level. Sigil, being Sigil, can sustain a population of Clerics high enough that probably most gods have someone of at least ninth level lying around, but scale that down to medieval London and you have a starting population of 100,000, 60,000 adults, likely less than half of them have class levels in the first place - sure, there's lots of level 2 Rogue pickpockets and in a high magic setting the scholars all have levels in Wizard, but no setting has ever suggested that innkeepers are usually level 6 Rangers and blacksmiths typically have levels in Fighter. If having levels in Fighter or Wizard or whatever were the norm amongst random city dwellers - in any edition - then there would be more than two orcs in a dungeon with forty who were on par with a level 1 character as individuals, unless there is some reason why the monster races have a drastically lower incidence of class levels and yet still somehow manage to pose a threat to the good guys. Which means in non-Sigil cities where normal people live, you can expect the total number of characters with any class levels at all to be in the neighborhood of 10,000 being generous, it's unlikely more than 1,000 of them are Clerics (especially since you'd expect classes like Rogue and Fighter to be more common than things like Wizard and Cleric), and since higher level characters are more rare than lower level ones and we need at least level 9 before anyone has mojo that can confirm the existence of a deity, a city the size of London, England's capital, is likely to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.6 appropriately leveled Clerics. If that city has even one, then that one Cleric has a total monopoly on direct verification of the afterlife for a radius of a hundred miles or more.

"High level NPCs are rare" is not a 3e thing, it's an inevitability of population statistics. 3e wrote down specific math, but no major D&D setting posits high level NPCs being significantly more common. It can't, because if they were, there'd be no room left for ordinary people nor any need for adventurers.


Long range communication is not a problem for mundanes: see history.

Which part of history did you have in mind?


And you might note from history that religious communication does spread very well among the commoners.

How many medieval Scots converted to Taoism?


As I said above, this will only work if the god can somehow get rid of all the other gods from that city, and also get rid of any 'neutral' powerful beings that know the truth.

As I said above, no getting rid of is necessary. Most cities (let alone smaller towns and rural hinterlands) are like this by default, as an inevitability of population statistics.


Dead people who get a body and aren't just floating soul stuff that merges with its plane become petitioners, which can't gain levels and certainly plane shift.

This is true in Forgotten Realms specifically, where the dead souls are rendered down to weak and mindless petitioners. Even by the gods of Good. As an intentional act, because they're perfectly coherent on the Fugue Plane, where they can bargain with Baatezu to become lemures (and possibly advance in rank from there). Allegedly, the main people who take this bargain are the ones who fear going to a negative afterlife, but the details really don't matter. Wherever you go, your consciousness is going to be obliterated and the soul husk left behind repurposed to become a drone for whatever god you end up assigned to. Becoming a lemure seems like a pretty good deal compared to that, if you don't mind the whole "being Evil" thing. In any case, seems like the gods would be way better off keeping their followers in the Fugue Plane where they can still remember how their class features work.

Being that this is both horrible and dumb, very few other settings copy it, and even the Forgotten Realms rarely remembers it. Something more or less similar to the depiction in Order of the Stick is more common (as depicted in 497).

JoeJ
2018-07-07, 10:51 PM
On the other hand, saying 'you're standing on a railway track and it looks like you don't really know how to get off of it. There's a train coming. If and only if you agree to worship me, I'll rescue you' is, if not a threat, at least a form of extortion.

Unless worshipping me is actually the only way off.

Anymage
2018-07-07, 11:38 PM
I'm just going to repeat my main point. If it's known that prayer empowers good gods, good characters should generally be quite happy to do so. The idea that good characters would not pray if they knew that simply being good people was sufficient to get into heaven, and thus deprive good gods, seems like the author being way too heavy handed. This is the case whether the gods are lying through their teeth about the whole "prayer is the only way to get into heaven" thing (the case with the post I first replied to), or if it's built into the metaphysics (wall of the faithless, where everything about it is dumb).


stuff about population dynamics

What percent of earth's population can run high energy physics experiments? For that matter, how many playgrounders do you think are currently working at the bleeding edge of any scientific field? Now swing by the science and tech forums, and see how many knowledgeable people can chip in when something newsworthy comes out. Turns out that when reliable experts can give proof, there's a lot to be said for trusting that over expecting them to keep re-proving it to everybody who shows any level of skepticism.

And evil deities could try to muddy the waters, but why would they? The resources you're devoting to making sure that a group of people don't worship anybody are resources not spent getting anybody to follow you. Evil gods would have just as much reason to want prayers and followers too.

Darth Ultron
2018-07-08, 12:43 AM
They need an extremely high density of mid-level Clerics to make this work. Very few settings posit that density. Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk do not posit a world where every god has level 9+ Clerics in every city, or even a large number of them. Waterdeep-style massive trade centers have this kind of density of mid- and high-level religious figures, but most cities do not.

This is simply not true, for the Forgotten Realms of 1,2, or 3E(3.5E). Now they might have ''made the Realms like Ebberron'' in 4e and 5E, and I don't know about those editions.

Not every place has a temple to every god...after all FR has like 200 gods. But most cites does have at least five temples or so, with a mix of high level characters.

Though I don't know much about Greyhawk, I don't think they are that low in clerics either.




Evidently not, or why have heroes? A fundamental premise of every D&D setting is that the gods are not the primary actors in the mortal world, even when it comes to the defense of their own faithful and the advancement of their own goals. So far as having a religion endure for 2,000+ years on the basis of "a couple of miracles," have you forgotten that the premise here is that there is a god actively working to deceive people as to the nature of the afterlife (because being an Evil peasant sucks in the long run)? If a Good god can perform a miracle to try and convince people of the truth, an Evil god can perform nearly identical miracles to deceive them.

Well, the gods sure are active in some D&D settings like Dragonlance, Greyhawk Planescape and the Forgotten Realms.

And sure any god can try and ''trick'' followers away from another god...but they still have to do the miracles to make those people their own followers. So why take the effort to do the trick?



You're looking for level nine, not level two. Every major D&D setting assumes that each level you advance puts you in a more and more exclusive club.

It is impossible to say this as a general statement for the dozen or so D&D settings spread over as many as five editions of the game.



If there are a hundred people in town who are level 3, then there are significantly fewer who are level 4. Absolute numbers vary based on what your starting population is, but Sigil is a puny city. The 2e Factol's Manifesto puts its population at well under a million.

True, Sigil is a puny city.



but no setting has ever suggested that innkeepers are usually level 6 Rangers and blacksmiths typically have levels in Fighter. If having levels in Fighter or Wizard or whatever were the norm amongst random city dwellers - in any edition - then there would be more than two orcs in a dungeon with forty who were on par with a level 1 character as individuals, unless there is some reason why the monster races have a drastically lower incidence of class levels and yet still somehow manage to pose a threat to the good guys.

Not exactly ''no setting''....The Forgotten Realms of 2E does this exactly. Most folks are usually well above fifth level in a class that are innkeepers or blacksmiths, though the world has weak folks too. Plenty of Innkeepers are above 15th level too, and a couple are liches, dragons or even gods.

Otik Sandath, the innkeeper at the Inn of the Last Home, in ''low powered'' Dragonlance was a 6th level fighter in 2E

I can also point to the 2E Dark Sun setting as having characters of at least 3rd level.



Which means in non-Sigil cities where normal people live, you can expect the total number of characters with any class levels at all to be in the neighborhood of 10,000 being generous, .

Well, we can go by what is printed in the books, not what ''you think''.




"High level NPCs are rare" is not a 3e thing, it's an inevitability of population statistics. 3e wrote down specific math, but no major D&D setting posits high level NPCs being significantly more common. It can't, because if they were, there'd be no room left for ordinary people nor any need for adventurers.

It very much is. Even in generic 1E and 2E they did not say much about ''levels in the world'', other then to say, in the spirit of those editions that ''A DM can do whatever they want''.

And, as said above, the 2E settings are full of high level characters. (Except for Ravenfloft, as that was 2E's ''Eberron''.



As I said above, no getting rid of is necessary. Most cities (let alone smaller towns and rural hinterlands) are like this by default, as an inevitability of population statistics.

Only in 3E and above(unless 5E fixed this?)




This is true in Forgotten Realms specifically, where the dead souls are rendered down to weak and mindless petitioners.

This is not how the Realms afterlife works.

NichG
2018-07-08, 12:44 AM
Unless worshipping me is actually the only way off.

At the very least, worshipping any of the competing gods would logically do the same. And in the given example, it was the case of a setting where souls do go to an aligned plane but the gods felt the need to convince people to empower them by telling a limited version of the way the cosmos works. So, yes, extortion.

WindStruck
2018-07-08, 12:47 AM
On the other hand, saying 'you're standing on a railway track and it looks like you don't really know how to get off of it. There's a train coming. If and only if you agree to worship me, I'll rescue you' is, if not a threat, at least a form of extortion.

Hardly at all. An evil person can potentially still go to a good afterlife by choosing good, rather than evil. You may not go to any particular god's domain if you don't worship them, but according to the outer planes alignment transfer of souls, an evil person can repent and turn good and then go to a good plane in the afterlife without the "extortion" of a god.

JoeJ
2018-07-08, 12:58 AM
I'm just going to repeat my main point. If it's known that prayer empowers good gods, good characters should generally be quite happy to do so. The idea that good characters would not pray if they knew that simply being good people was sufficient to get into heaven, and thus deprive good gods, seems like the author being way too heavy handed. This is the case whether the gods are lying through their teeth about the whole "prayer is the only way to get into heaven" thing (the case with the post I first replied to), or if it's built into the metaphysics (wall of the faithless, where everything about it is dumb).

The promise of the afterlife isn't really about motivating people to be good, it's about encouraging people to keep going when it looks like none of their efforts are accomplishing anything. Things might be awful for you right now, but they won't be forever. Just hold on a little while longer and then your part in the great struggle will be finished, and you'll be able to rest easy in the arms of Heironeous, knowing that you did everything that was asked of you.


At the very least, worshipping any of the competing gods would logically do the same. And in the given example, it was the case of a setting where souls do go to an aligned plane but the gods felt the need to convince people to empower them by telling a limited version of the way the cosmos works. So, yes, extortion.

You're assuming the gods believe that's how the cosmos works. Many of them probably don't. And since belief shapes reality on the outer planes, the cosmos probably doesn't work that way for their followers.

hamishspence
2018-07-08, 01:56 AM
You may not go to any particular god's domain if you don't worship them, but according to the outer planes alignment transfer of souls, an evil person can repent and turn good and then go to a good plane in the afterlife without the "extortion" of a god.

Up to a point, that is true, but according to Fiendish Codex 2, repentance is not enough to remove corruption - atonement is needed - the combination of the giving up of the material gains of the evil deeds, apologies to those wronged, and an atonement quest.

Without those, corruption points remain.

A being who dies and would normally go to another plane due to nonevil alignment, but to the Nine Hells due to Lawfulness and high corruption, who is repentant, gets transformed into a Hellbred - they get an opportunity to "ransom their soul from the Hells" by doing great good - but it must be great good. And a point is made that most hellbred don't succeed in doing this.

War_lord
2018-07-08, 03:41 AM
It's not a threat, because gods don't decide an evil person goes to the Hells, it's a fact of the workings of the Multiverse. Succu/Incubi and Night Hags wouldn't bother to corrupt souls before consuming them unless there was a tangible effect of evil upon the soul.

ChamHasNoRoom
2018-07-08, 08:00 AM
This is simply not true, for the Forgotten Realms of 1,2, or 3E(3.5E). Now they might have ''made the Realms like Ebberron'' in 4e and 5E, and I don't know about those editions.

Not every place has a temple to every god...after all FR has like 200 gods. But most cites does have at least five temples or so, with a mix of high level characters.

How many FR cities can you name with 9th-level Clerics to more than one god besides Baldur's Gate, Waterdeep, and other massively influential metropolitan trade hubs? Phlan capped out at around 6th to 8th level for almost every class, with only a handful of stray high-level characters, none of whom were Clerics (although Bishop Braccio's exact level is never given).


Well, the gods sure are active in some D&D settings like Dragonlance, Greyhawk Planescape and the Forgotten Realms.

Mishakal did not descend to the earth to retrieve her own discs, none of the major players in the Greyhawk wars were directly led by a god (nor would it have been a big deal if they were, since Greyhawk is the setting where killing gods is a standard high-level activity), Faerun is threatened by a now apocalypse every weekend and the gods don't do bugger all about any of them, and to the extent gods are important to Planescape it's because players are expected to go their backyard and make a mess, not the other way around. Gods are not active in any of these settings.


And sure any god can try and ''trick'' followers away from another god...but they still have to do the miracles to make those people their own followers. So why take the effort to do the trick?

Because they want more followers? And it's pretty hard to get people to sign up for "be an obedient peasant for all your life and when you die you will be damned to Baator to be tortured by devils." Evil gods are heavily incentivized to make sure the commonfolk don't know how the afterlife works (so, for that matter, are Good gods, in settings that adhere to the rules laid out in books like Deities and Demigods, but settings like that are uncommon for exactly that reason).


It is impossible to say this as a general statement for the dozen or so D&D settings spread over as many as five editions of the game.

No, it isn't. It's a necessity for the basic setting assumptions of D&D to function. In order for low-level adventures to function, it must necessarily be true that the small towns and villages threatened by their villains do not typically contain a large number of 5th+ level characters who can go and solve the problem for themselves whenever they want. The only way to avoid this is to go out of your way to make a setting where the standard townsperson has class levels and yet for some reason does not go around knocking over level 1 dungeons whenever they become a nuisance, and settings basically never do this. The "innkeeper is secretly a dragon" thing is supposed to be a surprise, not the default.


True, Sigil is a puny city.

Do you want to look at Forgotten Realms population statistics?


Not exactly ''no setting''....The Forgotten Realms of 2E does this exactly. Most folks are usually well above fifth level in a class that are innkeepers or blacksmiths, though the world has weak folks too.

According to what? Because sourcebooks write about specific blacksmiths and innkeepers who have class levels? That doesn't mean they're typical. Just the opposite, the blacksmith "secretly" being a 9th-level retired adventurer was initially meant to be a surprise, it just got run into the ground to the point where it was no longer surprising, ever. It still wasn't meant to be indicative of a typical townsperson. If the average dude was level 6, the denizens of a level 1 dungeon would be unable to threaten anyone. Low level modules would be completed by random townsfolk long before anyone would bother entrusting them to wandering vagabonds.


Plenty of Innkeepers are above 15th level too, and a couple are liches, dragons or even gods.

Are you claiming that the average innkeeper is a lich, dragon, or god?


Well, we can go by what is printed in the books, not what ''you think''.

What do you think Factol's Manifesto is, if not a book? You're looking at individual stat blocks and deciding apropos of nothing that they must be perfectly typical. I'm looking at modules and population counts and trying to extrapolate how the world might actually function. Both of these involve going by what is printed in the books, but one of them involves filling in all the blanks with leaps of logic that suit you personally, and the other involves making extrapolations based on the built-in implications of the books themselves, like the fact that anyone ever bothers to hire low-level adventurers to do anything. And who are you quoting with "you think?" That's not a thing that I said.


It very much is. Even in generic 1E and 2E they did not say much about ''levels in the world'', other then to say, in the spirit of those editions that ''A DM can do whatever they want''.

In what book is it stated that high-level NPCs are commonplace? Because, again, high-level NPCs being scarce is an inevitability of the low population density given by the books - including in earlier editions - and the fact that especially in earlier editions low level characters are more common than high-level ones. In any given early edition game, how many 1st-level characters are killed before you get one that gets to mid- or high-level? Plus, again, high-level characters cannot be so common as to go and solve low level adventures whenever they become a threat, or else there would be no low level adventures of consequence left for PCs. A scarcity of high-level characters, at least to the point where level 1 threats survive long enough to threaten small towns and villages, is a baked-in assumption of every D&D setting that does not specifically endeavor to be otherwise.


This is not how the Realms afterlife works.

Faiths and Avatars disagrees.

hamishspence
2018-07-08, 08:05 AM
In present-day D&D, the only petitioners that are specifically mindless are lemures. Manes are almost mindless, but most of the other planes have petitioners with perfectly normal intelligence.

NichG
2018-07-08, 08:17 AM
In present-day D&D, the only petitioners that are specifically mindless are lemures. Manes are almost mindless, but most of the other planes have petitioners with perfectly normal intelligence.

It's not that petitioners are mindless, but rather that they're memory- and growth-less. So depending on what one values as the essence of their self, becoming a petitioner is a form of partial oblivion.

Anymage
2018-07-08, 08:33 AM
And it's pretty hard to get people to sign up for "be an obedient peasant for all your life and when you die you will be damned to Baator to be tortured by devils." Evil gods are heavily incentivized to make sure the commonfolk don't know how the afterlife works (so, for that matter, are Good gods, in settings that adhere to the rules laid out in books like Deities and Demigods, but settings like that are uncommon for exactly that reason).

Alternately, evil people think that they're somehow exceptional. Just like how criminal gangs have lots of people signing up expecting that they'll make it to the top with all the attendant riches and glory, when in reality the vast majority wind up in prison or dead. All you need is the potential for one soul out of countless billions to eventually claw their way up to archfiend status, and you'll find evil people who are sure that they'll be that one. It's a selective sales pitch and it counts on people being bad at math, but is not out of line with setting cosmology.


According to what? Because sourcebooks write about specific blacksmiths and innkeepers who have class levels? That doesn't mean they're typical. Just the opposite, the blacksmith "secretly" being a 9th-level retired adventurer was initially meant to be a surprise, it just got run into the ground to the point where it was no longer surprising, ever. It still wasn't meant to be indicative of a typical townsperson. If the average dude was level 6, the denizens of a level 1 dungeon would be unable to threaten anyone. Low level modules would be completed by random townsfolk long before anyone would bother entrusting them to wandering vagabonds.

Sourcebooks kept saying that magic items were rare and wondrous. Published adventures had +1 weapons dropping all over the place. Which one do we take as canon?

It's a problem that goes back to early in the hobby. You need the setting to be a place where there's room for adventurers to go adventuring, but you also need there to be people in town powerful enough that the adventurers can't just beat up the questgiver for the rewards and possibly the shopkeeper for everything he has in stock as well. These two issues work at cross purposes, and D&D has a long history of resolving that by just not thinking about it at all.

Besides which, what's to be gained by either having the few experts lie, or there being some antivaxxer level "truther" campaign? As I keep saying, good gods have little to lose from telling the truth. If good people knew that their prayers had a concrete impact on increasing the power of the forces of good, most of them would do it freely. Even if there were no personal benefit attached. (That's kind of Good's shtick.) Evil gods offer power in this world and the promises of a better position in the next, even if the reality isn't quite as rosy. Even neutrals, assuming a rule of "go to your god's domain if you have one, somewhere general on your alignment's plane if you don't", would probably prefer to wind up on a domain matching their passions rather than just some random spot on the plane. So who benefits enough from lying to make it worth their while?

MrSandman
2018-07-08, 09:43 AM
You're looking for level nine, not level two. Every major D&D setting assumes that each level you advance puts you in a more and more exclusive club. If there are a hundred people in town who are level 3, then there are significantly fewer who are level 4. Absolute numbers vary based on what your starting population is, but Sigil is a puny city. The 2e Factol's Manifesto puts its population at well under a million. If 60% - roughly the entire adult population - have class levels, and 10% of them are specifically Clerics, your total Cleric population for all gods in Sigil, one of the largest cities in the setting, is 30,000. The majority of those will be low level. Sigil, being Sigil, can sustain a population of Clerics high enough that probably most gods have someone of at least ninth level lying around, but scale that down to medieval London and you have a starting population of 100,000, 60,000 adults, likely less than half of them have class levels in the first place - sure, there's lots of level 2 Rogue pickpockets and in a high magic setting the scholars all have levels in Wizard, but no setting has ever suggested that innkeepers are usually level 6 Rangers and blacksmiths typically have levels in Fighter. If having levels in Fighter or Wizard or whatever were the norm amongst random city dwellers - in any edition - then there would be more than two orcs in a dungeon with forty who were on par with a level 1 character as individuals, unless there is some reason why the monster races have a drastically lower incidence of class levels and yet still somehow manage to pose a threat to the good guys. Which means in non-Sigil cities where normal people live, you can expect the total number of characters with any class levels at all to be in the neighborhood of 10,000 being generous, it's unlikely more than 1,000 of them are Clerics (especially since you'd expect classes like Rogue and Fighter to be more common than things like Wizard and Cleric), and since higher level characters are more rare than lower level ones and we need at least level 9 before anyone has mojo that can confirm the existence of a deity, a city the size of London, England's capital, is likely to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.6 appropriately leveled Clerics. If that city has even one, then that one Cleric has a total monopoly on direct verification of the afterlife for a radius of a hundred miles or more.


According to the rules in the DMG 3.5, any city of 12 001 inhabitants or more will have at least three 10th level clerics, whose level could go up to 15th level (1d6+9 x3). Any city of more than 5 000 will have a good chance of having one or two 9th level clerics (1d6+6 x2). Even a town of more than 2 000 has a 16.66% chances of having one 9th level cleric (1d6+3 x1).

Any city of 25 000 inhabitants or more will have four clerics of at least 13th level, which gives us 8x 12th, 16x 11th, 32x 10th, 64x 9th for a total of 124 clerics able to cast 5th level spells at the very least (that is, assuming that you roll a 1 on the level generator of the four highest level cleric NPCs).

Now, I don't know about other editions or specific settings, but generic D&D 3.5 has a lot of high level NPCs pretty much everywhere.

Darth Ultron
2018-07-08, 12:37 PM
How many FR cities can you name with 9th-level Clerics to more than one god besides Baldur's Gate, Waterdeep, and other massively influential metropolitan trade hubs? Phlan capped out at around 6th to 8th level for almost every class, with only a handful of stray high-level characters, none of whom were Clerics (although Bishop Braccio's exact level is never given).

How many? A lot. Remember, The Forgotten Realms is D&D most detailed setting of all time. As I said, just about every city has at least five or so temples, and each temple has characters of all levels, some high and some low.

Phlan has no clerics? Phlan? What are you going by some wacky video game version of the city? Did you miss the Temple of Tyr there? Tarl Desanea is a 15th level cleric of Tyr.




Mishakal did not descend to the earth to retrieve her own discs, none of the major players in the Greyhawk wars were directly led by a god (nor would it have been a big deal if they were, since Greyhawk is the setting where killing gods is a standard high-level activity), Faerun is threatened by a now apocalypse every weekend and the gods don't do bugger all about any of them, and to the extent gods are important to Planescape it's because players are expected to go their backyard and make a mess, not the other way around. Gods are not active in any of these settings.

A lot of the Dragonlance gods did ''descend to the earth'' though. I don't know much about Greyhawk, but Izu was in that war and was a god, right? And, well, you know the gods cause the apocalypes in Faerun, right?

I guess if you don't count ''doing things and taking actions'' as as ''being active'', then sure, no gods ever do anything...except when they do things and take actions, of course.




Because they want more followers? And it's pretty hard to get people to sign up for "be an obedient peasant for all your life and when you die you will be damned to Baator to be tortured by devils." Evil gods are heavily incentivized to make sure the commonfolk don't know how the afterlife works (so, for that matter, are Good gods, in settings that adhere to the rules laid out in books like Deities and Demigods, but settings like that are uncommon for exactly that reason).

Except that is NOT how the D&D afterlife works. The D&D afterlife is ''be true to your alignment'' and ''follow a god''. There is no ''one true path', there are many roads to the afterlife.




No, it isn't. It's a necessity for the basic setting assumptions of D&D to function. In order for low-level adventures to function, it must necessarily be true that the small towns and villages threatened by their villains do not typically contain a large number of 5th+ level characters who can go and solve the problem for themselves whenever they want. The only way to avoid this is to go out of your way to make a setting where the standard townsperson has class levels and yet for some reason does not go around knocking over level 1 dungeons whenever they become a nuisance, and settings basically never do this. The "innkeeper is secretly a dragon" thing is supposed to be a surprise, not the default.

Not true. This is the modern Eberron way of looking at D&D: The whole world must be zero level wimps so the PC's can feel special.

Again, some settings like The Forgotten Realms, Planescape and Spelljammer are FULL of high powered, high level characters and things like dragon innkeepers.



Do you want to look at Forgotten Realms population statistics?

From 2E sure, once you get into 3E you get the modern ''E'' idea to make everything small and wimpy.




According to what? Because sourcebooks write about specific blacksmiths and innkeepers who have class levels? That doesn't mean they're typical. Just the opposite, the blacksmith "secretly" being a 9th-level retired adventurer was initially meant to be a surprise, it just got run into the ground to the point where it was no longer surprising, ever. It still wasn't meant to be indicative of a typical townsperson. If the average dude was level 6, the denizens of a level 1 dungeon would be unable to threaten anyone. Low level modules would be completed by random townsfolk long before anyone would bother entrusting them to wandering vagabonds.

Well, sure, according to lots of soursebooks. But again, guess you can look at a whole pile of soursebooks with high level people like innkeepers and say ''oh, just as there are tons of them, that does not mean they are typical."

I think your ''version'' of D&D is just your own personal tastes, and not what is found in the rules.



Are you claiming that the average innkeeper is a lich, dragon, or god?

I'm saying they exist and are at least uncommon. I'm saying the average innkeeper is around 5th level.



What do you think Factol's Manifesto is, if not a book? You're looking at individual stat blocks and deciding apropos of nothing that they must be perfectly typical. I'm looking at modules and population counts and trying to extrapolate how the world might actually function. Both of these involve going by what is printed in the books, but one of them involves filling in all the blanks with leaps of logic that suit you personally, and the other involves making extrapolations based on the built-in implications of the books themselves, like the fact that anyone ever bothers to hire low-level adventurers to do anything. And who are you quoting with "you think?" That's not a thing that I said.


I'm not filling in anything. The books say X. You the one who is running around saying ''oh, what that book says is wrong or does not make sense".



In what book is it stated that high-level NPCs are commonplace? Because, again, high-level NPCs being scarce is an inevitability of the low population density given by the books - including in earlier editions - and the fact that especially in earlier editions low level characters are more common than high-level ones. In any given early edition game, how many 1st-level characters are killed before you get one that gets to mid- or high-level? Plus, again, high-level characters cannot be so common as to go and solve low level adventures whenever they become a threat, or else there would be no low level adventures of consequence left for PCs. A scarcity of high-level characters, at least to the point where level 1 threats survive long enough to threaten small towns and villages, is a baked-in assumption of every D&D setting that does not specifically endeavor to be otherwise.

No ''book'' states that high level NPCs are common place, like a 3E ''rule''. But lots of settings do have lots of commonplace high level NPCs.

Sure, low level people are more common then high level ones....but that does not mean their are no high level ones. The whole ''oh in all the land their is only one arch wizard, Zombut the 6th level one" is a 3E thing, and worse, an Eberron setting thing.



Faiths and Avatars disagrees.

It does? What page? My copy does not mention what happens to a petitioner...


It's a selective sales pitch and it counts on people being bad at math, but is not out of line with setting cosmology.

Just about all criminals think ''they won't ever get caught'', for example.

Mark Hall
2018-07-08, 12:57 PM
The Mod Wonder: A reminder: Avoid comparisons to real-world religions.

Chauncymancer
2018-07-08, 02:38 PM
For a comparison: it only took about 1 climate scientist in 20 to turn global warming from "completely settled" to "controversial" in the public imagination. Here 1 cleric in 3 is evil: "hear the lie Big Celestia doesn't want you to know about" is an easy sale.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-08, 02:41 PM
For a comparison: it only took about 1 climate scientist in 20 to turn global warming from "completely settled" to "controversial" in the public imagination. Here 1 cleric in 3 is evil: "hear the lie Big Celestia doesn't want you to know about" is an easy sale.

Especially if that message is convenient for the listeners. People love to be told they're fine and don't have to work--people (in general) are lazy.

Anymage
2018-07-08, 03:10 PM
For a comparison: it only took about 1 climate scientist in 20 to turn global warming from "completely settled" to "controversial" in the public imagination. Here 1 cleric in 3 is evil: "hear the lie Big Celestia doesn't want you to know about" is an easy sale.

Out of curiosity, what lie are the evil clerics telling?

If it's that you don't need to pledge yourself to a god in a cosmos where not pledging yourself to a god can really screw up your afterlife, those evil deities are turning off potential converts to their cause as well. Since worshipers tend to empower their deities in the setting, that's shooting themselves directly in the foot.

If it's that you do need to pledge yourself to a deity in a setting where you don't, I again don't see how that won't just cause even more people to flock to the worship of good, or at least neutral, deities. Again, not a big win for team evil.

Nifft
2018-07-08, 03:14 PM
If it's that you don't need to pledge yourself to a god in a cosmos where not pledging yourself to a god can really screw up your afterlife, those evil deities are turning off potential converts to their cause as well. Since worshipers tend to empower their deities in the setting, that's shooting themselves directly in the foot.

If it's that you do need to pledge yourself to a deity in a setting where you don't, I again don't see how that won't just cause even more people to flock to the worship of good, or at least neutral, deities. Again, not a big win for team evil.

The only place where you need to pledge yourself to a god is the Forgotten Realms, and it's got problems.

Core D&D only has your behavior determining the state of your soul (including casting spells with alignment descriptors).

Eberron has a mysterious afterlife with mysterious divinity whereby nobody knows if the gods are even real.

The "need to pledge yourself" is not a thing in most of D&D, just that one place.

Darth Ultron
2018-07-08, 03:17 PM
For a comparison: it only took about 1 climate scientist in 20 to turn global warming from "completely settled" to "controversial" in the public imagination. Here 1 cleric in 3 is evil: "hear the lie Big Celestia doesn't want you to know about" is an easy sale.

Well....''completely settled'' is a bit of a stretch. Bit more like some folks said ''ok, this is how it is, NOW everyone must agree to our New World Order"....

...And anyone with even a tiny brain said, ''Nope" .

JoeJ
2018-07-08, 03:24 PM
It's not a threat, because gods don't decide an evil person goes to the Hells, it's a fact of the workings of the Multiverse. Succu/Incubi and Night Hags wouldn't bother to corrupt souls before consuming them unless there was a tangible effect of evil upon the soul.

There's also the fact that each deity's realm seems to have a bunch of that deity's own worshippers as petitioners, rather than randomly assigned petitioners of the correct alignment. And death gods like Hades seem able to grab every follower of their entire pantheon except for those who merited special attention from a different deity. This suggests that deities can suspend the rule that souls go to the plane of their alignment for their own worshippers, and at least some of them can do it for followers of a different god in the same pantheon.

Telling an evil person that if they repent they'll end up on an upper plane is uncertain; they may or may not be able to fully change in the time they have left. But if a gods says, "worship me and I'll save you from the Abyss," that's probably something that the they can guarantee.

Anymage
2018-07-08, 04:34 PM
The only place where you need to pledge yourself to a god is the Forgotten Realms, and it's got problems.

Core D&D only has your behavior determining the state of your soul (including casting spells with alignment descriptors).

Eberron has a mysterious afterlife with mysterious divinity whereby nobody knows if the gods are even real.

The "need to pledge yourself" is not a thing in most of D&D, just that one place.

I get that.

It's just that people are saying "well, evil clerics can lie". I want to know what they think the clerics are lying about, and what their gods would get out of it.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-08, 04:57 PM
I get that.

It's just that people are saying "well, evil clerics can lie". I want to know what they think the clerics are lying about, and what their gods would get out of it.

An easy lie would be "you're good enough how you are. No need to worship a stuffy, self-righteous god and toe his line. You can worship this more exciting, less demanding god and as long as you're good enough, you'll get the good afterlife."

With this, they get more worshipers for their evil god (as long as they're not cartoonishly evil) and more people not trying too hard to be good. Being truly good, according to most cosmologies, is hard work. Being evil (or at least neutralish) is easy. So you mix a bit of truth (that you don't need to worship a particular god to get the good afterlife) with a bit of a lie (that they can just go along doing whatever they feel is good and not really worry about being "too good" and still get there). It takes away the safety rails that good gods provide, increasing the amount of people that will fall into serious error.

Darth Ultron
2018-07-08, 06:02 PM
An easy lie would be "you're good enough how you are. No need to worship a stuffy, self-righteous god and toe his line. You can worship this more exciting, less demanding god and as long as you're good enough, you'll get the good afterlife."


But this is not lying about the afterlife or how it works.

A god can trick or tempt a follower of a god away from that god to the other god...but there is no lies here.

Kelb_Panthera
2018-07-08, 06:13 PM
No. They don't. There are dozens of churches, multiple sects for the larger ones, and myriad cults all pushing their own narratives on what The AfterlifeTM is supposed to be and the "proof" available is sparse and gated behind being a moderately powerful caster / highly capable adventurer to know those places actually exist at all and a search through an "infinite" space for the soul of -somebody- you once knew to confirm that it's actually the afterlife and not just a very exotic locale.

Nifft
2018-07-08, 06:14 PM
I get that.

It's just that people are saying "well, evil clerics can lie". I want to know what they think the clerics are lying about, and what their gods would get out of it.

* The greatest good for the most people is accomplished automatically by the market through the efficient allocation of capital. That means greed is good, and you don't need to worry about the consequences of your actions -- the market will handle all that for you, more efficiently than you could.

* There is no morality, just power. The thing they call "good" is just the current status quo which keeps them in power. You deserve better than these lies which enslave you. Try this one weird trick which they don't want you to know.

* Those people who claim to be good murdered your ancestors. You can't let the sacrifice your ancestors made be for nothing. Revenge is just setting things right, and righting a wrong isn't wrong.

* There's no prize for second place in a war, so you're justified in taking any measures, no matter how horrible, to ensure yourself victory. After all, you're just protecting the people you care about. The enemy would surely do the same thing you're doing if they were clever enough and had the opportunity.

* Asmodeus will build a wall and make the orcs pay for it.

PairO'Dice Lost
2018-07-08, 09:43 PM
Not true. This is the modern Eberron way of looking at D&D: The whole world must be zero level wimps so the PC's can feel special.

Going by this statement, I'm pretty sure you've never played in, or read sourcebooks regarding the demographics of, Eberron in particular or 3e in general. Or if you have, then the DM had modified the setting beyond recognition.

It's a pretty unfair characterization, in two ways. Firstly, Eberron is not at all full of zero-level wimps, it just has a higher proportion of NPC classes so you run into more adepts/magewrights/warriors/experts than clerics/wizards/fighters/rogues on average, and there's a dearth of politically-active and well-known NPCs at high levels so most monarchs, Dragonmarked House leaders, etc. are in the level 8-12 range instead of 16-20, but there are plenty of high level monsters and NPCs in the setting. There are articles on the WotC site talking about making PC-classed NPCs and high-level NPCs rarer than in the standard rules, but they're talking about randomly-generated NPCs; you can have plenty of PC-classed and high-level NPCs Eberron, they're just expected to be named, powerful, and influential figures rather than "Joe Bob, the 12th-level wizard with no backstory I just rolled up."

Secondly, don't blame the level treadmill of 4e and compressed level range of 5e on Eberron; Eberron no more inspired that aspects of those editions due to its level range than Greyhawk gods being core in 3e meant Greyhawk inspired the 3e mechanics, and if anything FR being the default setting in 5e should make for more of a gap between high and low levels, not less.


No ''book'' states that high level NPCs are common place, like a 3E ''rule''. But lots of settings do have lots of commonplace high level NPCs.

Sure, low level people are more common then high level ones....but that does not mean their are no high level ones. The whole ''oh in all the land their is only one arch wizard, Zombut the 6th level one" is a 3E thing, and worse, an Eberron setting thing.

Eberron didn't come out until 2004, almost a year after the 3.5 DMG came out, so it didn't influence 3e at all, but rather was influenced by it. And what the 3.5 DMG has to say about the subject of archwizards is that the average Metropolis of 25,001 people or more has 4 14th-level wizards, 8 7th-level wizards, 16 3rd-level wizards, and 32 1st-level wizards; the Epic Level Handbook bumps that up to 4 18th-level wizards, 8 9th-level wizards, 16 4th-level wizards, 32 2nd-level wizards, and 64 1st-level wizards, and adds a Planar Metropolis level for cities of 100,000 people or more that has 6 22nd-level wizards, 12 11th-level wizards, 24 5th-level wizards, 48 2nd-level wizards, and 96 1st-level wizards.

And that's just on average (it's a 1d4+X roll, so metropolis wizards range from 13th to 16th level by the DMG, for instance), and the same level range determination holds for all the other PC classes. Now, certainly, most settings don't follow those guidelines exactly, either because they're older settings with grandfathered-in level demographics or DMs want to tweak them for their campaigns. But the idea that 3e says anything close to "6th-level wizards are powerful and special" is ridiculous.

Where exactly did you get the idea that 3e makes high-level characters exceptionally rare?

Darth Ultron
2018-07-08, 11:25 PM
It's a pretty unfair characterization, in two ways. Eberron

One of the big selling points of Eberron was that it is the anti- Forgotten Realms. The setting has no gods, no high magic and few high level NPCs. Oh, and it's cool Steampunk...with no steam.



Eberron didn't come out until 2004, almost a year after the 3.5 DMG came out, so it didn't influence 3e at all, but rather was influenced by it.

Where exactly did you get the idea that 3e makes high-level characters exceptionally rare?

What I meant was that Eberron rode the wave of ''make D&D low level" and was the cap stone. Part of the general design of 3E, along with ''removing most of the penalties for power" and ''removing the unfair things" was ''re making D&D low level".

A Lot of the 2E settings were full of powerful magic and NPCs. One of 3E's big goals was to nerf that. It's the same sad story: Billy was gonna play D&D, but he read a book that had a high level character in it....a character far more powerful then his second level gnome. So Billy, figuring that all the powerful high level NPCs would just ''save the world'' before his second level gnome could even put his boots on, just decided to not play D&D as it was ''no fun". And then he complained to the D&D company ''I can't play the game, as everytime I do (in my mind) a high level NPC saves the world, before my character can do anything!" The vast majority of players did not have Billys problem, but they went ahead and listened to the Billys of the world anyway.

So enter 3E, and eventually Eberron, the perfect game and setting for Billy. "help, help" would cry the game and setting(in Billy's mind) "There is a Giant Rat attacking the farmers barn! And the game/setting has no high level NPCs to save the day! Billy! We need your second level gnome to save the day!" Then Billy can finally play D&D, and have his second level gnome 'zap pew pew' that giant rat with a color spray spell.

PairO'Dice Lost
2018-07-09, 12:38 AM
What I meant was that Eberron rode the wave of ''make D&D low level" and was the cap stone. Part of the general design of 3E, along with ''removing most of the penalties for power" and ''removing the unfair things" was ''re making D&D low level".

You're the first person I've ever heard (er, read) to even imply that 3e was about keeping things low-level. Quite the opposite, actually: with faster leveling, no racial level caps, classes that don't stop gaining HD at mid levels, fewer instant-death effects, and the like, 3e probably had a much higher proportion of high-level characters than AD&D did (assuming the rate of players just up and deciding to stop playing at mid levels for out-of-game reasons remained relatively constant).

There were higher-level and higher-HD monsters and opposition in 3e compared to AD&D (contrast the 1e demon princes and archdevils in the MM with their 3e versions in the BoVD and the Fiendish Codices), 3e had a Deities & Demigods full of combat-able gods just like AD&D except that the 3e versions assumed much higher power levels necessary to face them in combat, and the Epic Level Handbook came out only 4 years after the 3e DMG to allow for even higher-level play where it took Dungeon Master Option: High-Level Campaigns 6 years to come out after the 2e DMG.

And as for nerfing the powerful magic? Hardly. Looking at FR, the poster child for high-magic options, the AD&D versions of most magic were NPC-only by various means (everything being optional, DM permission required for things, no ways to get certain things, etc.) whereas in 3e magic items are purchaseable with fixed prices listed in the books, secret and obscure magic can be accessed with feats, and all sorts of special magic-users are PrCs/ACFs/substitution levels rather than special restricted classes. If anything, 3e wasn't about nerfing magic, it was about giving PCs access to as many of the DM's toys as possible--a decision of which I, speaking as a long-time DM, heartily approve.

Pretty much everything you're talking about--high and low levels playing similarly, making the PCs super special from the outset, nuking settings to remove high-level NPCs--only started showing up in 4e, with 5e somewhat reining in that misguided impulse and fortunately rolling back the utter stupidity that was 4e FR. 3e wasn't riding the crest of a make-D&D-low-level wave, the wave didn't even start forming until 3e was going out of print.

ChamHasNoRoom
2018-07-09, 02:56 AM
Alternately, evil people think that they're somehow exceptional. Just like how criminal gangs have lots of people signing up expecting that they'll make it to the top with all the attendant riches and glory, when in reality the vast majority wind up in prison or dead.

This can work if the only followers of Evil are Evil minions, but it doesn't work for Evil peasants. Even amongst communities where organized crime successfully recruits lots of cannon fodder, the majority of the community doesn't get recruited. If gods benefit from being prayed to by peasants, then they want peasants praying to them, which means they want entire communities on their side, not relatively small fractions.


According to the rules in the DMG 3.5, any city of 12 001 inhabitants or more will have at least three 10th level clerics, whose level could go up to 15th level (1d6+9 x3). Any city of more than 5 000 will have a good chance of having one or two 9th level clerics (1d6+6 x2). Even a town of more than 2 000 has a 16.66% chances of having one 9th level cleric (1d6+3 x1).

It also refers to cities with 12,001-25,000 people as a "large city" and to cities with 25,001+ as a "metropolis." The mind boggles as to what medieval Baghdad would've been considered by 3e. 3e posits a world where high level characters are rare despite being extremely dense in the population compared to what you would expect, because overall population is incredibly low. Also note that for an Evil god to be unable to successfully deceive people about how Baator works, there need to be multiple Clerics of 9th-level or higher. If there's only one, then so long as that one Cleric answers to the Evil god trying to spread the lie, that only works to the benefit of the deception.

But, yes, despite Ultron's allegations, the 3e math is actually extremely generous with the amount of high-level characters for the population density it posits, and gluing himself to AD&D actually makes his position weaker, since straightforward extrapolations from how modules portray the setting combined with some back-of-the-napkin math suggests far lower densities than the 3.5 DMG.


How many? A lot.

Should be real easy to name several, then.


Phlan has no clerics?

That is not a thing that I said. I said that Clerics (and other characters above 6th-8th level) are scarce, enough so that having more than one in the average town is uncommon, which is information from the going by the printed module Pool of Radiance which first detailed the city in print - not that using the video game version would've been at all unreasonable, since the Gold Box series is, in fact, where the lore for that city is ultimately derived. Your own information comes from a sourcebook years later and does not help your case. Tarl Desanea is one person, and if there are no other Clerics capable of plane shifting, Tarl Desanea has a monopoly on supernatural information in the city.


A lot of the Dragonlance gods did ''descend to the earth'' though.

And did nothing of consequence. The War of the Lance was fought without any significant input from any deity outside of cryptic warnings and mysterious finger wiggling. Even when Chaos showed up to personally wreck things, it was mostly mortals responsible for defeating him.


I don't know much about Greyhawk, but Izu was in that war and was a god, right?

Iuz, and no, he is not. He is the child of the demon prince Grazz't and a witch queen who is sometimes referred to as a "demi-god," a description which is only true if you count Gtrazz't as a god and still doesn't make him an actual god. He is a standard D&D dark lord who can be stabbed in the face. Of course, at the time, so was Lolth, because gods just weren't very impressive back in AD&D Greyhawk compared to the position of curiously passive omnipotence granted them in Dragonlance and the Forgotten Realms.


And, well, you know the gods cause the apocalypes in Faerun, right?

Divine shenanigans caused the Spellplague, which is one apocalypse, singular, and which got soft-retconned out of existence because everyone hated it. Other than that, uh, no, not really, they don't. Going by the adventure paths released for 5e so far, there is Tyranny of Dragons, where a god can potentially show up at the very end but does not intervene in any capacity before then, and then there is Elemental Evil, Out of the Abyss, Storm King's Thunder, Tomb of Annihilation, and some compilation stuff, plus some kind of Waterdeep heist thing? And also Curse of Strahd, which actually takes place in Ravenloft, not the Forgotten Realms. None of which feature gods as directly causing or solving problems. Because adventurers cause or solve problems, sometimes in the name of a god, and sometimes not, but in any case, the ones directly responsible are adventurers, not gods. Gods in D&D are either mostly passive (FR, Dragonlance), probably non-existent (Dark Sun, Eberron), or weak enough that adventurers can and do slay them (Greyhawk).


Except that is NOT how the D&D afterlife works. The D&D afterlife is ''be true to your alignment'' and ''follow a god''. There is no ''one true path', there are many roads to the afterlife.

I don't know what statement you think you're arguing with here. This doesn't contradict anything I said.


Not true. This is the modern Eberron way of looking at D&D: The whole world must be zero level wimps so the PC's can feel special.

Again: No, no it is not. The world must have a sufficient scarcity of high-level characters that low-level threats are taken care of by low-level character, like PCs. It is impossible for D&D to function if this is not true.


Well, sure, according to lots of soursebooks. But again, guess you can look at a whole pile of soursebooks with high level people like innkeepers and say ''oh, just as there are tons of them, that does not mean they are typical."

Any given Forgotten Realms town has a population measured in thousands, if not tens of thousands. The number of NPCs detailed in sourcebooks basically never breaks triple-digits. No sourcebook on Earth has ever detailed enough NPCs to plausibly give a picture of what the typical person is like, and of course the NPCs who get specific statblocks are unique and exceptional people rather than totally ordinary folk. Why bother giving the totally ordinary folk unique, named statblocks? So unless you have a source claiming otherwise, your assumptions are baseless and contradict the fundamental assumption of every D&D setting which is that high-level characters are in short enough supply that high-level threats keep them fully occupied and thus they need to rely on low-level characters to clean up the rest.


I'm saying they exist and are at least uncommon. I'm saying the average innkeeper is around 5th level.

But you also adimt to this:


Sure, low level people are more common then high level ones

And any way you slice the math, if low level people are more common than high level people, high level people must be rare, largely as a consequence for how punishingly low FR population counts are (they're based largely off of sparsely populated medieval England, rather than France or Germany where more fertile land led to higher population counts).


I'm not filling in anything. The books say X.

You are mysteriously unable to cite an actual book saying X. Instead, you extrapolate averages based on the exceptional individuals given unique statblocks, and are for some reason unable to see how this is not only an assumption, but an unfounded one. You even admit to it:


No ''book'' states that high level NPCs are common place, like a 3E ''rule''.

You just said that the books say this, but now here you are saying that actually no, they don't say it. Sure, 1e and 2e gave DMs a lot of lattitude in determining setting details for themselves (because it meant they didn't have to take responsibility for making settings that were complete and functional out of the book), but that doesn't mean your assumptions about the setting are more valid than anyone else's, especially when they don't make sense with the rest of the material.


It does? What page? My copy does not mention what happens to a petitioner...

But you've implicitly conceded that Faiths and Avatars confirms they are petitioners, which means the Deities and Demigods description does apply to them, which makes them mindless.


It's just that people are saying "well, evil clerics can lie". I want to know what they think the clerics are lying about, and what their gods would get out of it.

Evil gods benefit from lying to worshipers about what Baator is like for the zero-level peasants who end up there, because that way they can get zero-level peasants to worship them. Otherwise, they'll be worshiped only by people who thought they were likely to end up powerful enough to get a good deal out of an Evil afterlife instead of being an abused slave in the acid mines. The number of people who think that is way higher than the number of people who actually do, but it's still lower than everyone in an entire nation ruled by an Evil government (i.e. a place where Evil Clerics would not have difficulty setting themselves up with a monopoly on the smaller cities and towns). Evil gods don't benefit from convincing people that there is no afterlife at all, but they do benefit from convincing them that the afterlife is different from how it actually is.

Mark Hall
2018-07-09, 10:02 AM
An easy lie would be "you're good enough how you are. No need to worship a stuffy, self-righteous god and toe his line. You can worship this more exciting, less demanding god and as long as you're good enough, you'll get the good afterlife."


COnsider, though, what consitutes a "good afterlife"... or, to make things more clear, a "desirable afterlife".

If you're a selfish person, then a Good afterlife is not a desirable afterlife... it would be dreadfully dull and trying to spend eternity being good. If you're an evil person, there's an attraction to an afterlife where your strength will be respected and gain you power.

In the Great Circle cosmology, going to an evil afterlife is not a punishment... the Planes aren't trying to teach you a lesson by sending you to the Nine Hells, they're sorting you to where you're supposed to be. One might even say, they're sending you to the plane to which you're most aligned.1 Evil afterlives are desirable to evil people, because other afterlives won't let them be themselves. They don't work right. If I'm LG and in a CG afterlife, my inclination to build things that will last, to work within systems, will be frustrated by lack of systems. A LG person in a LE environment will find that their inclination to use those systems to improve things for everyone will be frustrated by everyone else being selfish pricks.


1
This is why I find the border planes to be useful in describing someone... if someone says they're LG, you can ask if they're Arcadia, Seven Heavens, or Twin Paradises... all of which might be called LG, but which

Anymage
2018-07-09, 10:58 AM
COnsider, though, what consitutes a "good afterlife"... or, to make things more clear, a "desirable afterlife".

If you're a selfish person, then a Good afterlife is not a desirable afterlife... it would be dreadfully dull and trying to spend eternity being good. If you're an evil person, there's an attraction to an afterlife where your strength will be respected and gain you power.

In the Great Circle cosmology, going to an evil afterlife is not a punishment... the Planes aren't trying to teach you a lesson by sending you to the Nine Hells, they're sorting you to where you're supposed to be. One might even say, they're sending you to the plane to which you're most aligned. Evil afterlives are desirable to evil people, because other afterlives won't let them be themselves. They don't work right. If I'm LG and in a CG afterlife, my inclination to build things that will last, to work within systems, will be frustrated by lack of systems. A LG person in a LE environment will find that their inclination to use those systems to improve things for everyone will be frustrated by everyone else being selfish pricks.

I find it amusing that an evil person might find that they're not as fond of the abyss once they get there. Between the fact that they're very small fish on the plane of Might Makes Right and the fact that there are no goody two-shoes around to serve as patsies. That's the difference between what the recruiter tells you and the reality, though.

Which kinda ties back to the point that was frustrating me. Evil clerics can certainly be recruiters for an afterlife in an evil god's domain. That still implicitly acknowledges the truth of how the D&D afterlife works. Nobody has any reason to mislead peasants as to the broad mechanics of it.

Darth Ultron
2018-07-09, 01:11 PM
Should be real easy to name several, then.

Well, just about every place in the Realms as at least 9th level clerics of more then one god. Melvaunt, Mulmaster, Suzil, Zhentil Keep, Calimport, or Mezzodraian.



That is not a thing that I said. I said that Clerics (and other characters above 6th-8th level) are scarce, enough so that having more than one in the average town is uncommon, which is information from the going by the printed module Pool of Radiance which first detailed the city in print -

I get your going by just one book. But you do get there is more then one book, right? And there are whole books about the Moonsea.



And did nothing of consequence. The War of the Lance was fought without any significant input from any deity outside of cryptic warnings and mysterious finger wiggling. Even when Chaos showed up to personally wreck things, it was mostly mortals responsible for defeating him.

Well, the Dragonlance deity's sure did a lot, but guess you are only counting ''cartoon anime blow up the moon stuff'', right? Tarkatis did once steal the whole planet of Kyrnn, does that could as ''cool'' enough for you?



Divine shenanigans caused the Spellplague, which is one apocalypse, singular, and which got soft-retconned out of existence because everyone hated it. Other than that, uh, no, not really, they don't.

Lots of Realms history says otherwise. Guess you missed say, The Time of Troubles or the Dawn Cataclysm?



Gods in D&D are either mostly passive (FR, Dragonlance), probably non-existent (Dark Sun, Eberron), or weak enough that adventurers can and do slay them (Greyhawk).

It is fair to say the 5E gods are whimps, as I have said. This is not true of all editions though.



Again: No, no it is not. The world must have a sufficient scarcity of high-level characters that low-level threats are taken care of by low-level character, like PCs. It is impossible for D&D to function if this is not true.

Again, this is just your bias. YOU want a weak, helpless world where your character can be the hero. But, that is just you.



Any given Forgotten Realms town has a population measured in thousands, if not tens of thousands. The number of NPCs detailed in sourcebooks basically never breaks triple-digits. No sourcebook on Earth has ever detailed enough NPCs to plausibly give a picture of what the typical person is like, and of course the NPCs who get specific statblocks are unique and exceptional people rather than totally ordinary folk. Why bother giving the totally ordinary folk unique, named statblocks? So unless you have a source claiming otherwise, your assumptions are baseless and contradict the fundamental assumption of every D&D setting which is that high-level characters are in short enough supply that high-level threats keep them fully occupied and thus they need to rely on low-level characters to clean up the rest.

Well, sure, my source is the 2E Forgotten Realms. Now sure, after 3E they only did things like your saying, and only made ''super cool'' NPCs. But that was not true before 3E.

You have the thought that ''high level=demi god'', so they must be blowing up moons and traveling in time. That is not true for all settings. Some settings have a town, with a great wyrm with sorcerer levels running an inn. She is not ''pew pew blowing up moons'' every day, she is just making rabbit stew. The same is true of many high level characters: they just lead normal lives (just like low level characters).



And any way you slice the math, if low level people are more common than high level people, high level people must be rare, largely as a consequence for how punishingly low FR population counts are (they're based largely off of sparsely populated medieval England, rather than France or Germany where more fertile land led to higher population counts).

The difference is between ''rare'' and ''uncommon''. You want only a couple high level people per city, like 3E and beyond rules have. The other way to do it, is to have dozens of high level people everywhere, like 1E and 2E had.



You are mysteriously unable to cite an actual book saying X. Instead, you extrapolate averages based on the exceptional individuals given unique statblocks, and are for some reason unable to see how this is not only an assumption, but an unfounded one.

Well, guess it depends what books you have. I can say the book Forgotten Realms Adventures, that lists a good 20 cities with more then one cleric above 9th level of more then one god.



You just said that the books say this, but now here you are saying that actually no, they don't say it. Sure, 1e and 2e gave DMs a lot of lattitude in determining setting details for themselves (because it meant they didn't have to take responsibility for making settings that were complete and functional out of the book), but that doesn't mean your assumptions about the setting are more valid than anyone else's, especially when they don't make sense with the rest of the material.

The Core Rules and the Settings are different.



But you've implicitly conceded that Faiths and Avatars confirms they are petitioners, which means the Deities and Demigods description does apply to them, which makes them mindless.

Well, no, that is not exactly how it works. What your doing is called cherry picking. Out of all the multiple definitions of the word 'petitioner' in all of D&D, you are simply picking the one definition that fits what you want.

Faiths and Avatars is a 2E book, so are you saying the 1E or 3E Deities and Demigods applys to that book? Kinda odd to jump editions.

The 3E Players Guide to Fareun does list what each petitioner is like. Note also, 3E Deities and Demigods does not say ''petitioners are mindless''. The sample petitioner, an ogre, has an Intelligence of 6. Not too smart, true...but not mindless.




Evil gods benefit from lying to worshipers about what Baator is like for the zero-level peasants who end up there, because that way they can get zero-level peasants to worship them. Otherwise, they'll be worshiped only by people who thought they were likely to end up powerful enough to get a good deal out of an Evil afterlife instead of being an abused slave in the acid mines. The number of people who think that is way higher than the number of people who actually do, but it's still lower than everyone in an entire nation ruled by an Evil government (i.e. a place where Evil Clerics would not have difficulty setting themselves up with a monopoly on the smaller cities and towns). Evil gods don't benefit from convincing people that there is no afterlife at all, but they do benefit from convincing them that the afterlife is different from how it actually is.

This is not how it works in D&D. An evil god needs worshipers to believe their religion and come join them in the afterlife. The evil gods need evil worshipers.

Nifft
2018-07-09, 02:22 PM
You're the first person I've ever heard (er, read) to even imply that 3e was about keeping things low-level. Quite the opposite, actually: with faster leveling, no racial level caps, classes that don't stop gaining HD at mid levels, fewer instant-death effects, and the like, 3e probably had a much higher proportion of high-level characters than AD&D did (assuming the rate of players just up and deciding to stop playing at mid levels for out-of-game reasons remained relatively constant).

There were higher-level and higher-HD monsters and opposition in 3e compared to AD&D (contrast the 1e demon princes and archdevils in the MM with their 3e versions in the BoVD and the Fiendish Codices), 3e had a Deities & Demigods full of combat-able gods just like AD&D except that the 3e versions assumed much higher power levels necessary to face them in combat, and the Epic Level Handbook came out only 4 years after the 3e DMG to allow for even higher-level play where it took Dungeon Master Option: High-Level Campaigns 6 years to come out after the 2e DMG.

And as for nerfing the powerful magic? Hardly. Looking at FR, the poster child for high-magic options, the AD&D versions of most magic were NPC-only by various means (everything being optional, DM permission required for things, no ways to get certain things, etc.) whereas in 3e magic items are purchaseable with fixed prices listed in the books, secret and obscure magic can be accessed with feats, and all sorts of special magic-users are PrCs/ACFs/substitution levels rather than special restricted classes. If anything, 3e wasn't about nerfing magic, it was about giving PCs access to as many of the DM's toys as possible--a decision of which I, speaking as a long-time DM, heartily approve.

Pretty much everything you're talking about--high and low levels playing similarly, making the PCs super special from the outset, nuking settings to remove high-level NPCs--only started showing up in 4e, with 5e somewhat reining in that misguided impulse and fortunately rolling back the utter stupidity that was 4e FR. 3e wasn't riding the crest of a make-D&D-low-level wave, the wave didn't even start forming until 3e was going out of print. You're almost entirely correct here.

1e was intended to be playable right up until you hit Name Level, at which point the designers would retire their own characters and start over. They sold rules for higher level play due to demand, but those rules were untested and the designers didn't ever play at those high levels. At higher levels, my experience was that 1e devolved into collaborative story-telling with very little reliance on the rules.

2e tried to systematize and regularize the weird ad-hoc 1e subsystems, and by doing so might have expanded play into higher levels. I can't say definitively what the effects of the 2e changes were.

3e tried to systematize and regularize the weird ad-hoc 2e subsystems, and by doing so absolutely did expand play into higher levels. 1e capped out around 9th level, but 3e held together well into the teens -- I ran up to level 15-16 regularly, and it wasn't just rocket-tag.

4e tried to systematize and regularize the weird ad-hoc 3e subsystems, and by doing so very much also expanded play into higher levels. You could play a level 30 demi-god, with explicit narrative permission to ascend to the heavens when you finish your final adventure. 4e did a lot of things wrong (including being written like a particularly dry VCR manual), but it certainly carried forward the trend of expanding the playable range of levels.

5e was a reaction to the things 3e and 4e did wrong, but it retained the expanded playable range from 4e. A level 17-20 5e character is not going to break the game in the same way that a level 17-20 3e character could.


I think what DU may be confused about is that during 3e there was some publicized WotC research into how people actually played D&D, and the consensus was that in general people liked lower-level play better -- there was a "sweet spot" around (IIRC) levels 3-12, and so Eberron was created in part to cater to that sweet spot. Not to mandate low-level play, but to create an environment where being in the "sweet spot" was rewarding. At high levels, you'd be facing off against high-level threats (dragons, daelkyr, giants, armies...), but the setting supported low-level characters being able to take and keep the narrative spotlight, unlike NPC-heavy novel settings like FR.

IMHO the big mistake FR made was to include all the novel content in the RPG. To questions like "Why doesn't ${NPC} solve this problem?" the answer should have been, "Because ${NPC} only exists in ${NOVEL}, not here in this game where you live."

What 4e did to FR seems to have been a reaction to the previous mistake of including all novel content into the RPG. As a player, the 4e FR version seemed a lot more interesting -- instead of stepping into a mine-field of well-established conflicts between super-powers which I'd never match, the 4e FR setting was full of blank places to explore. Since I don't feel nostalgia for the novels, the 4e FR changes were almost entirely positive to me.

5e seems to be treading lightly, by not publishing nearly as much content. They've used the 2e/4e mechanic of building NPCs differently from PCs, instead of the 3e unified mechanic. 5e uses implicit tiers of play, unlike 4e which made the tiers more mechanically explicit (Heroic/Paragon/Epic).

Overall, the trend seems to be that each edition progressively expands the playable range of levels.


(There are exceptions, like BECMI letting you play at high levels, but from what I recall that's basically a different game, focused on domain management etc. rather than being focused on stabbing Demogorgon in the face.)

Mark Hall
2018-07-09, 06:02 PM
I find it amusing that an evil person might find that they're not as fond of the abyss once they get there. Between the fact that they're very small fish on the plane of Might Makes Right and the fact that there are no goody two-shoes around to serve as patsies. That's the difference between what the recruiter tells you and the reality, though.

"But the recruiter promised..." is the punchline of jokes in Basic Training, I've been told. :smallbiggrin:

Seriously, though, I linked to Corpses and Caches (http://rpgcrank.blogspot.com/2013/07/corpses-and-caches.html) earlier, which also helps to explain why people get buried with a bunch of gold and magic items. Short version: It lets them take it with them. Want a leg up when you arrive in the Abyss? A +3 sword lets you have a chance of defending yourself, if you've got the skill to use it.



Which kinda ties back to the point that was frustrating me. Evil clerics can certainly be recruiters for an afterlife in an evil god's domain. That still implicitly acknowledges the truth of how the D&D afterlife works. Nobody has any reason to mislead peasants as to the broad mechanics of it.

Some clerics aren't selling people on an afterlife. They're selling them on doing really well NOW, or they're offering the possibility of unlife.

ChamHasNoRoom
2018-07-09, 10:43 PM
Well, just about every place in the Realms as at least 9th level clerics of more then one god. Melvaunt, Mulmaster, Suzil, Zhentil Keep, Calimport, or Mezzodraian.

Zhentil Keep, Calimport, Suzail, and Menzoberranzan are the capital cities of major power brokers and Calimport in particular has a population of several hundred thousand. We're talking about average cities, the kind most people live in or around, and you come back with the capital cities of Cormyr and Calimshan, some of the most powerful nations in Faerun. You're proving my point for me.

Melvaunt just doesn't have the characters you're claiming it does. They don't have a dedicated book and the 2e Moonsea book does not, in fact, list more than one 9th+ level stat block for Clerics in either Melvaunt. Melvaunt is described as having several 9th-11th level Fighters and one Wizard, but no mention of 9th+ level Clerics is made even in the section on temples.

Mulmaster is the best one, because it is very literally the exception that proves the rule. In the actual, sensible usage of that term, where it is an exception, and the book specifically calls it out as exceptional. Whereas other cities in the book have one or no Clerics of high-level, Mulmaster does indeed have no less than five of them, because it is, according to the book, "jammed with temples and shrines." Mulmaster is explicitly unusual in having so many high-level Clerics lying around.

Thentia, Hulburg, Phlan, Melvaunt, there are tons of Moonsea cities not written as having more than one (and frequently not even one) 9th+ level Cleric by the 2e Moonsea book.


I get your going by just one book. But you do get there is more then one book, right?

Did you just completely miss the part where I told you that your book also supports my conclusion and not yours? Your problem is not that there are books which do not support your position. Your problem is that you have yet to cite a single book that actually does support your position.


Well, the Dragonlance deity's sure did a lot, but guess you are only counting ''cartoon anime blow up the moon stuff'', right?

No, I'm only counting direct and meaningful interaction with the actual plot. Telling Mina to go do everything for her doesn't make Takhisis an active force in the world, it makes Mina an active force in the world.


Lots of Realms history says otherwise. Guess you missed say, The Time of Troubles or the Dawn Cataclysm?

The Dawn Cataclysm was several thousand years before the modern state of the setting and the Time of Troubles is when the gods got demoted to Greyhawk-level power and a bunch of mortals stabbed them in the face. Your argument is that in D&D gods can pop down "every couple of years," pointing to events that occurred over a thousand years ago does not help that argument, nor does pointing to events where gods were involuntarily and drastically weakened.


It is fair to say the 5E gods are whimps, as I have said. This is not true of all editions though.

What edition do you think Queen of the Demonweb Pits was written for?


Again, this is just your bias. YOU want a weak, helpless world where your character can be the hero. But, that is just you.

How exactly do you think low-level D&D functions? You're positing a world where there are no low-level adventures because every town is full of mid-level people who can solve them for themselves. How do I even have to explain to you that this doesn't match the basic premises inherent to all D&D settings?


Well, sure, my source is the 2E Forgotten Realms.

Which 2e book listed 100 or more mid-to-high level NPCs living in a single city that wasn't a massive center of power? Because both the 2e Moonsea book I just looked up after you vaguely gestured in its direction and the Forgotten Realms Adventures book you cited by name do exactly what you claim they don't: Refers exclusively to the most powerful, most important individuals in any given city.


You have the thought that ''high level=demi god'', so they must be blowing up moons and traveling in time.

No. No, I do not. This is a completely baseless assertion.


The difference is between ''rare'' and ''uncommon''. You want only a couple high level people per city, like 3E and beyond rules have.

2e also did it this way. You keep claiming it didn't, but the only book you cite claiming this is true was focused on a region where massive trade cities are extremely common (curiously, despite claiming that books detailing the Moonsea exist, you failed to actually name the book doing so - which may have something to do with the fact that it doesn't back your claim at all).


Well, guess it depends what books you have. I can say the book Forgotten Realms Adventures, that lists a good 20 cities with more then one cleric above 9th level of more then one god.

Forgotten Realms Adventures isn't a general purpose setting book. It does not, for example, include Waterdeep. It's a region-specific list of specifically the cities of the heartlands, which is full of large and stable nations with lots of powerful cities. Even then, as you get to the outskirts of the area you get towns like Shadowdale, Tilverton, and Scornubel, which have smaller populations and no more than one high-level Cleric (curiously, Marsember, one of the largest cities of Cormyr and a massive trade port, actually has only one high-level Cleric who is an actual church official - there's also a second one in town, but that's just because he happens to live there).


The Core Rules and the Settings are different.

Are you claiming there is a setting specific book that does establish, as a rule, how common high-level characters are? Or are you just nitpicking exact phrasing?


Well, no, that is not exactly how it works. What your doing is called cherry picking.

Dude, you're about to launch into an attempt to argue that only the books you like should be considered valid, and you're accusing me of cherry picking? The person who first asserted that petitioners lose all their class features didn't specify an edition, so of course drawing from multiple editions is valid. Demanding that things stay limited to one edition after the fact is actual cherry picking. The person to whom I was originally responding never tried to claim that there are edition differences the way you are (incorrectly, at that), but rather made a general statement about how the afterlife works in D&D.


Note also, 3E Deities and Demigods does not say ''petitioners are mindless''.

It doesn't say that all petitioners are mindless, but it does say that petitioners may become "a calm, untiring, unthinking servant who exists in the bliss of his or her deity, all needs taken care of" whose mental immunity is "due to the mindless nature of their existence." It does also note that the slaves in the acid mines of Baator do get to retain their consciousness. So the Good deities turn their petitioners into mindless thralls while the Evil ones keep them conscious so they can better enjoy their suffering. There is a reason why all of this tends to be ignored: It's terrible.


This is not how it works in D&D. An evil god needs worshipers to believe their religion and come join them in the afterlife. The evil gods need evil worshipers.

You're doing that thing again, where you claim to be disagreeing with me and then say something that doesn't actually contradict anything I've said.

PairO'Dice Lost
2018-07-10, 12:07 AM
IMHO the big mistake FR made was to include all the novel content in the RPG. To questions like "Why doesn't ${NPC} solve this problem?" the answer should have been, "Because ${NPC} only exists in ${NOVEL}, not here in this game where you live."

What 4e did to FR seems to have been a reaction to the previous mistake of including all novel content into the RPG. As a player, the 4e FR version seemed a lot more interesting -- instead of stepping into a mine-field of well-established conflicts between super-powers which I'd never match, the 4e FR setting was full of blank places to explore. Since I don't feel nostalgia for the novels, the 4e FR changes were almost entirely positive to me.

Speaking as someone who likes playing in FR specifically because of all the history and layers of flavor and such, it's entirely possible to go an entire campaign without running into a single character or event from the novels. That's the benefit of such a detailed setting, in fact; FR cities, faiths, organizations, etc. have been fleshed out in many sourcebooks and novels over the years, where Athas and Krynn are only really fleshed out through a handful of novels with a single set of protagonists so there's not as much depth to the setting outside of the specific areas and events of the novels, and all of the Eberron novels are non-canonical so it almost feels like they actively try to avoid expanding the setting too much to avoid boxing in GMs, making it difficult to weave the added setting detail into home campaigns.

I'd argue that while 4e does provide lots of blank places to explore, if you want a "here there be dragons" setting that's about exploring the unknown then Forgotten Realms is the wrong setting for it and they shouldn't have nuked the Realms to provide that experience, in the same way that when the 4e Dark Sun material made the setting less isolated, more survivable, less metal-poor, and so forth it entirely missed the point. Heck, Greyhawk would have been a better explore-the-unknown setting because it got very little attention in 3e despite being the default setting, and using Greyhawk as the default setting again in 4e would have both provided sorely-lacking continuity with 3e and had just as much of a claim to nostalgia as using FR.


Overall, the trend seems to be that each edition progressively expands the playable range of levels.

Ehhh...yes and no. From a strictly numerical standpoint 4e and 5e provide more levels that are playable, but at the expense of the levels being basically the same. The whole point of having a leveling system is twofold: first, to change the range of threats that are too strong, challenging, fair, easy, and too weak as you progress, so that you can face different kinds of challenges and you feel like you're actually making progress. At some point in AD&D and 3e you reach a level where there is literally no number of goblins or kobolds that will prove life-threatening (barring exceedingly favorable terrain, a war skald buffing them, etc., and even then at high levels in AD&D and 3e that number is in the hundreds, not the single digits) and you go off to face great wyrms, balors, demigods, and suchlike instead. You don't ever run into the illogical situation of "Wait, we're 5 15th-level PCs and are a non-negligible threat to a god, and 5 orcs are a non-negligible threat to us, so by extension...." that you do in 5e, nor do you run into many palette-swap monsters that are just the same low-level monsters with bigger numbers (barring certain straightforward bruiser monsters like orcs transitioning to ogres transitioning to giants, but those are the minority and even then you have ogre magi, giant shamans, PC-classed orcs, etc.).

Second, the game is supposed to change as you level. In AD&D and 3e, the first few levels give you few HP, few class features, and limited equipment, so it's all about creative use of your resources and your environment to survive (possibly at the expense of several unwitting henchment used as trapmonkeys). At low-mid levels, you start getting enough class features that you can leave your chalk and ten-foot pole behind and rely more on your own capabilities, differentiating yourself more from your partymates in the process. At mid-levels, the scope of the campaign starts opening up to mass combat, domain management, etc., both because you can start controlling land and an army (noncasters get a free base and/or followers in AD&D or can start taking Landlord and Leadership for a base and followers in 3e, and casters can start to animate/call/compel minions in reasonable numbers) and because you can personally survive more than a round in a mass-combat environment. Mid-high levels start seeing world-spanning adventures with the advent of scrying, teleportation, plane-shifting, and the like for travel and things like weather control, divine communion, and the like for affecting the world, and combat becomes less about mundane positioning and more about using and countering defenses. High levels involve lots of plane-spanning adventures, or even more climactic world-spanning adventures, whatever the party decides to do--and they really can decide, because they're among the major movers and shakers.

In 4e and 5e, the game just...doesn't change like that. The former because you don't really get any abilities that let you do anything for more than an encounter or at more than a handful of squares away--and gods forbid that a summoned monster can do anything on its own instead of having you micromanage it!--and the latter because there's no point at which "bunch of peasants with bows and spears" ceases to be a threat, so the game remains as playable at high levels as at low levels because you're still basically playing the same game. I'd take an AD&D or 3e campaign that starts to break down somewhere between 13th and 18th level depending on the particulars of a given campaign over a 4e or 5e campaign that goes all the way to 20th or 30th level but feels like 10th level any day.


(There are exceptions, like BECMI letting you play at high levels, but from what I recall that's basically a different game, focused on domain management etc. rather than being focused on stabbing Demogorgon in the face.)

Sorta. BECMI stands for Basic/Expert/Companion/Master/Immortal, each a different box set that expanded the line, and in theory every set has its own focus (which are respectively dungeon delving for Basic, wilderness exploration for Expert, domain management and mass combat for Companion, world exploration for Master, and playing godlike beings for Immortals).

But every set also expanded the basic "party goes off adventuring" material: Companion introduced proto-PrCs and added rules to allow demihumans to somewhat exceed the level caps, Master introduced lots of character options like weapon mastery and higher-level spells, and Immortal delved into the nuances of the BECMI cosmology and let Immortals face off against the servants of Entropy. So while you wouldn't be using all of the available material to its fullest potential if you just kept adventuring all the way up to max level and ignored all the new subsystems, it was certainly an option, and whichever route you took the game was relatively well-balanced at those high levels.

ChamHasNoRoom
2018-07-10, 01:49 AM
In 4e and 5e, the game just...doesn't change like that. The former because you don't really get any abilities that let you do anything for more than an encounter or at more than a handful of squares away--and gods forbid that a summoned monster can do anything on its own instead of having you micromanage it!--and the latter because there's no point at which "bunch of peasants with bows and spears" ceases to be a threat, so the game remains as playable at high levels as at low levels because you're still basically playing the same game. I'd take an AD&D or 3e campaign that starts to break down somewhere between 13th and 18th level depending on the particulars of a given campaign over a 4e or 5e campaign that goes all the way to 20th or 30th level but feels like 10th level any day.

Matt Colville has that new third-party strongholds supplement for 5e he's coming out with. I'm cautiously optimistic it might fix this problem.