Aethera Campaign Settings: Alignment Ramifications

Today, I’m going to diverge a bit from the campaign setting book to talk about alignment in Aethera and how it seems likely to diverge from core Pathfinder alignment.

Alignment, in the core of Pathfinder, is a hard-coded concept built into the very structure of the cosmos. There are planes that descend from the nine possible alignment types, comprising the Outer Planes as a whole. Hell is the tyranny of lawful evil, the Abyss is the senseless hate and spite of chaotic evil, Elysium is born of wild and chaotic good, and Heaven is the epitome of just and lawful good. So it goes. From these come the outsider types that are exemplars of their natures, and the hard rules of the cosmos that defines law and chaos, good and evil.

Aethera, on the other hand, lacks any connection to these planes, save whatever tattered threads reach from the white dwarf out into the Great Beyond; rest assured that it isn’t enough to sustain the rigid nature of those outsiders trapped in the system, and by inference it almost certainly isn’t enough to maintain those hard-coded cosmic rules. Devils drawn to Aethera will still be lawful evil and rigid in thought at first, but leave them for long enough and they’ll soften and blur the lines. Psychopomps devolve outright, prevented from fulfilling their duties by the lack of a link to the final resting place of souls. It’s not unrealistic to suspect that somewhere in the Hierarchy’s bureaucracy are devils who live in a human form, working to ensure there’s a system that makes sense to them – slowly sliding toward a Lawful Neutral worldview over time. Whether or not this removes their Evil subtype is a matter for the GM to decide, I suspect.

One thing this means is that spells that are tagged with alignment modifiers may not always have the same effect. Necromancy might not be outright evil; Holy Smite might not be considered an intrinsic alignment mark when cast. An evil spellcaster flinging a good-aligned spell against neutral adversaries – or evil ones that are opposed to them – might make for an interesting twist.

Still, with the Score providing divine magic, it seems likely that things like the holy weapon effect and a paladin’s detect evil power will still work as intended; the underpinning divine structure remains, but the link to the planar structure is gone. As such, you’re more likely to see outsiders with strange alignments but with their original subtypes than you are to see a holy weapon functioning against an angel that’s gotten sick of the world being so corrupt.

It’s definitely worth remembering for GMs who run games set in Aethera, though – getting help from a devil that’s slid to Lawful Neutral against a demon still determined to destroy everything is far more likely here. Likewise, you may encounter the occasional stray inevitable seeking to study chaos because it wants to know if there are laws in the nature of what it once regarded as pure anathema, or a protean slid to Chaotic Good and looking to foster only the creative and beneficial forms of chaos in the system. Putting familiar types of enemies into unusual situations due to the looser nature of the setting can help shake players out of the familiar and give them a reason to explore new territory.

Just don’t overdo it, or they’re likely to adopt an approach of killing everything that’s an outsider just to be safe.

Aethera Campaign Settings: Alignment Ramifications

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s