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PF2E Gritty City Watch campaign (PF2 specific companion thread)


Now that the hot weather finally is subsiding enough to sit in front of a computer again :eek:, I thought this forum needs a link to my campaign idea posted over in D&D General:

Obviously the idea came from Agents of Edgewatch and the controversy it caused. But to avoid the discussion focusing on that, I posted my outline in the General forum with most specific rules references scrubbed off.

In this thread, I aim to discuss issues specific to running the campaign using Pathfinder 2 rules. The other thread remains the main thread to discuss story developments and any other rules-neutral issues.

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Alignment: In order to not get the players stuck on debating whether an act is good or evil, every natural creature (humans, animals, monsters) registers as neutral in alignment. Another change is that the aligned damage of outsiders (angels, demons etc) hurt every natural being equally. The intended result is that player characters and NPCs are just "neutral". They don't take aligned damage from each other, but they all take aligned damage equally from outsiders. Undead, demons and angels suffer aligned damage as per the normal rules, however.
Here I aim to kill several birds with one stone.

First off, the campaign is supposed to be about morally grey characters. While alignment is generally a harmless nostalgic relic of old D&D editions, it is unsuitable for this kind of campaign. Featuring alignment would only restrict players from role-playing complex humanoids with realistically contradictory aims and goals. It's all to easy to use an alignment of "lawful good" as a shield against temptation, and that would work against the campaign tone. Whether players take bribes or look the other way should depend on story, not preconceived labels. So players are to write "neutral" on their character sheets to encourage them to remain open to all options (that they are comfortable with).

That does not mean I'm restricting character build options. Players are still free to create characters able to deal good damage, for instance. That would be a neutral character dealing good damage. They will be informed that all the major churches of the city are considered "neutral", regardless of the actual alignment of their respective deity. I plan to include a selection of mostly neutral deities and some evil. Deities listed as "good" can still be chosen by players; they just lack influence in the city.

The second aim regards the core game's strange imbalance between heroes of different alignments. In the RAW game, unless you are a Champion or Cleric that must choose good alignment to comply with class restrictions, there is no reason to not choosing neutral. The reason is this makes you immune to significant damage in the game - many creatures (such as devils and demons) deal evil damage, which neutral heroes are simply immune to! In this campaign, the aligned damage of outsiders damage every creature except those of the same alignment. So the evil damage of a demon would do nothing against evil creatures, and evil creatures only. But all humanoids are neutral, and thus every hero will suffer from evil damage. And they would also suffer good damage from angels, for that matter.

Finally note that the rule for aligned damage only changes for outsiders. A hero dealing good damage would still only impact evil creatures. They would deal this extra damage to undead and demons, for instance, but normally not to other humanoids, who generally are all neutral.

The intended consequences of all this:
  • players are encouraged to choose whatever builds they want without worrying about getting strait-jacketed by alignment
  • no system-sanctioned moral prejudice against non-good faiths
  • players are no longer encouraged to min-max by choosing neutral alignment (now every hero is neutral, and every hero takes evil damage equally)
  • dealing good damage can't be used as a crude alignment detector (against your fellow men)
  • builds offering alignment damage should retain some of their potency, but not all of it (far fewer evil humanoid opponents)

Obviously, a group of players that aren't completely familiar with each other should probably take a Session 0 to sort out the rough limitations on what kinds of character behavior they can't abide by. That's a topic for another post, though.
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