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Paizo Paizo Apologises For 'Police' Themed Adventure Path

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Agents of Edgewatch is an upcoming adventure path for Pathfinder in which the payers take on the roles of police. Paizo has posted an apology for the themes in this AP, although it will still be published.

"Get ready to shine your badge and report for duty—the Agents of Edgewatch Adventure Path begins! In this thrilling new Pathfinder campaign, players assume the role of fresh recruits of the Edgewatch, the newest division of Absalom's city watch. Tasked with fighting crime during this year's Radiant Festival—a grand centennial gathering of exhibitors and wonders from around the world that this year celebrates the grand reopening of Absalom's treacherous Precipice Quarter, long a ruined haven of monsters and criminals. Soon after taking on the new beat, the detectives learn that the fair has attracted not only cutpurses and vandals, but also poisoners, ransomers, and even a sadistic serial murderer, and it's up to the Agents of Edgewatch to crack the case and bring these villains to justice!"

agents_edgemwatch.jpg


The apology, written by Paizo's Erik Mona, also noted that a portion of the proceeds from the adventure path will go to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and that the Starfinder core rulebook has been contributed to Humble Bundle's Fight for Racial Justice campaign.

 PRESS RELEASE



We at Paizo strive to represent our company’s values of inclusivity through the content of our Pathfinder and Starfinder publications. Showcasing diversity in the stories of the cultures, races, sexualities, and gender identities of our characters is something we’ve tried to emphasize since the company’s inception 18 years ago. As we wrote in our public statement earlier this month about the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s an ongoing and vital process.

The murder of George Floyd by police and the resulting political actions, increased visibility around issues of police brutality, and ongoing conversation about the role of policing in our society casts a difficult light upon Agents of Edgewatch, our upcoming Pathfinder Adventure Path in which players take on the roles of members of the city watch in a vast fantasy metropolis. As Paizo’s publisher, I want to take this opportunity to address the situation directly.

When we began work early last year on Agents of Edgewatch, we conceived of the adventures as a pseudo-Victorian crime drama in which a party of Sherlock Holmeses would bring a cult of sinister murderers to justice against the backdrop of a World’s Fair-style celebration in Absalom, the huge city at the center of the Pathfinder world. Along the way, we’d dabble in some buddy cop movie tropes and use the players’ role as new and idealistic town guards as a framing device for a tour of the city as they attempt to thwart the evil cult’s machinations.

In our heads, this was a classic detective story, not a chance for players to act out power fantasies of being militarized police officers oppressing citizens. As publisher, I was confident that we could steer well clear of egregious parallels to modern police violence and handle the material responsibly.

But there’s more to it than that. What I hadn't realized—no doubt a result of my own privilege—is that the very concept of police, the idea of in fact taking on the role of police, makes some members of the Paizo community deeply uncomfortable, no matter how deftly we might try to pull off the execution.

While I remain proud of the work we as a team have put into the Agents of Edgewatch campaign, and I believe that our writers, developers, and editors have ensured that the subject matter has been handled responsibly, I also believe that if we were making the decision about Adventure Path themes today, we would have chosen to go forward with a different idea, or a different take on a similar detective-story theme. For many of us here at Paizo, our understanding has evolved, not just of the horrible impact of police violence, but how some members of our community—especially those who are also members of the Black community—have not had the luxury of ignoring it.

To that end, I should acknowledge that some members of our staff did raise concerns about the campaign’s theme early on. In retrospect, I did not give these concerns the full audience that they deserved, and I regret this oversight. That’s part of the learning process, too.

I remain confident in our ability to create a campaign that lives up to our editorial and moral standards—even while acknowledging that we should have chosen a different approach for this Adventure Path. The events of the Agents of Edgewatch campaign assume empathic, heroic player characters who are there to serve their community. Groups who wish to play the campaign without taking on the role of city guards will be able to remove the law-enforcement element from the story without much work, instead telling the heroic tale of a band of local adventurers who take it upon themselves to rid the city of murderers and evil cultists. The free Agents of Edgewatch Player’s Guide (scheduled to release next week) will offer several suggestions on how to do this, as well as tips on how to utilize and adapt Pathfinder’s non-combat conflict-resolution mechanics as well as non-lethal combat rules when running the campaign.

I’d like to acknowledge the efforts of our editing team, who have been exemplary in helping us to eliminate unintentionally problematic elements, consult with sensitivity readers, and ensure that products come with detailed content warnings. The developers have likewise been striving to be more sensitive to these concerns. I hope that Agents of Edgewatch as a whole will display our ability to listen and present the subject matter respectfully. We will continue to strive to improve our sensitivity and ensure our adventure and plot elements remain firmly in the realm of fantasy.

While we cannot afford to cancel or delay the Adventure Path, we want to show our commitment to remedying our earlier choices through action. As we stated in a previous blog, we’ve contributed the Starfinder Core Rulebook to Humble Bundle’s Fight for Racial Justice charity fundraising campaign, which has already raised more than $3,700,000 for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Race Forward, and the Bail Project. Furthermore, Paizo will donate a portion of proceeds from all volumes of the Agents of Edgewatch Adventure Path sold through the end of 2021 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Lastly, next month, we’ll announce another major fundraising effort focused squarely on Paizo’s products, with charity proceeds to benefit Black-oriented charities. We hope you will join us in these efforts.

We remain committed to the ideals of inclusivity and racial justice. We will continue to listen and will strive to do better in the future.


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Russ Morrissey

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grimshwiz

Explorer
Religion/politics
People have forgotten 9/11 when it was these same police that ran into a crumbling building. This apology makes me sick . the act was horrible and criminal and Justice should be served but the rest

they didn't apologize for clerics and paladins after the ongoing church scandal

they don't apologize for assasins and thieves who in the real world target the innocent and sometimes kill

Lets just fantasize for a moment that this module is run at a convention (I wouldn't be surprised if it gets pulled from shelves and burned) and a player decides to be a evil detective. Should that individual be tossed or shamed from the convention

Its a game-This movement to wipe away any presence of police material is truly disgusting. No paw patrol , lego etc, No police dramas, movies etc. Wont be shocked if toy badges are pulled or even woody from toy Story (he is law enforcement) . Some celebrity will have a picture of them as a kid dressed as a police officer and be shamed

the real people who should be shamed are the people like Kimmel, Fallon , Justin Trudeau-They should be forced the resign after dressing up in black face.

So when there is say another 9/11 will there be a bunch of writers actors going asleep after they woke. Can you say Mea Culpa
Exactly. US Governor dressed in black face, no one cared as well. Remember when 9/11 didn't represent all Muslims, but somehow a cop killing a criminal represents all cops. What a clown world we live in.
 

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dave2008

Legend
OK, I just read the actual statement and I think the title of the OP is a bit misleading as it is not an apology. It is simply an acknowledgement of the the issues and how this AP could be construed as being insensitive to them. How that was not the intent and how the AP can be used differently. Seems all good to me.

@Morrus maybe a a title change to the OP. It is more a "statement" than an "apology," unless I missed something. For some reason people here seem to be adverse to the word "apology."
 

aco175

Hero
The adventure itself sounds ok from the few sentences above. Not sure if my group would want to be forced to be part of the police from the beginning, or would rather be an outside investigative group. Maybe start as part of the police and split at some point to develop their PC more.
 


Doug McCrae

Legend
OK, I just read the actual statement and I think the title of the OP is a bit misleading as it is not an apology. It is simply an acknowledgement of the the issues and how this AP could be construed as being insensitive to them. How that was not the intent and how the AP can be used differently. Seems all good to me.

@Morrus maybe a a title change to the OP. It is more a "statement" than an "apology," unless I missed something. For some reason people here seem to be adverse to the word "apology."
That's a good point. Mona doesn't use the word apology. He does use the word regret tho -

"To that end, I should acknowledge that some members of our staff did raise concerns about the campaign’s theme early on. In retrospect, I did not give these concerns the full audience that they deserved, and I regret this oversight. That’s part of the learning process, too."
 


Orcslayer78

Explorer
Role playing industry right now: Not al orcs and drows are evil

Also role playing industry right now: All guards are evil


I guess the future monster manuals from Paizo and Wotc will not contain fantasy creatures anymore but only evil human beings, all of them guards and other kinds of law enforcers, and all of them, of course, will be cis white males.
 


Reynard

Legend
I agree: this Is ridiculous. I remember when being a policeman was one of the most honorable professions one could take.
It was propaganda then, too. The history of policing in America is directly tied to the history of racial violence and oppression. It doesn't take much research to discover this truth.

As to the subject at hand, I think Paizo struck the right balance here. They see that it is potentially a problem, both socially and economically, and addressed it honestly and directly. That's all they can do. It may be that the AP doesn't sell well due to the subject matter and current climate. or it may not make any difference at all. But Paizo did not shy away from an uncomfortable reality and that deserves some credit.

And, yes, RPGS broadly and certainly "D&D style" games specifically lean into violent conflict resolution. In the same way that Nathan Drake, thief with a heart of gold, kills literally hundreds of people in the Uncharted games with neither remorse nor traumatic response, "Sherlock Holmes" style investigators in a Pathfinder AP are sure to cut a bloody swath through the Absalom underworld. It's a legitimate disconnect between the system in place and the genre of the story being told, and it happens in quite a lot of games in different media.
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
...but somehow a cop killing a criminal represents all cops.
You really manage to out yourself there. Are you really so stupid as to believe either of a) if it is a "criminal" it gets a pass, or b) that all the people cops kill are criminals?

Do you not understand anything about the state either? The police are definitionally representatives of a collective entity: society. Their crimes reflect on the whole system, not just themselves.

Do none of you understand that terrorist organizations like ISIS and Hezbollah often provide civil services in addition to their vicious programmes of torture and murder? There is no essential contradiction in risking your life for other people and being a violent sociopath because it can all stem from the same kind of egoistic personal glorification. "I'm the good guy, so if I do it is must be good," is the easiest trap to fall into.

No, you do not get to get all defensive here: no one is born a cop. You take an oath, they give you a gun and a badge. You do not get to treat cops as less accountable for other cops than you expect people to be accountable for having the same ethnic background to be.
 

jerryrice4949

Explorer
I agree: this Is ridiculous. I remember when being a policeman was one of the most honorable professions one could take. They are the ones who respond when someone is breaking into your home at 2 am. A few (and they Are few) bad cops have caused the entire profession to be tarred with a very broad brush; and it's no more fair than smearing all members of an ethnic group.

The way cops are treated now, who is going to want to be a cop in the future? Then the whole country will end up like Seattle. And no, that's Not a good thing. Anarchy is bad, and has historically always led to tyrrany. Think the French Revolution.

Blue lives matter
Not every or even most cops are bad. They have a dangerous and difficult job. But the amount of excessive violence and militarization of the police is not rare. It is actually quite common and happens far more frequently than most people are aware.
 

Reynard

Legend
Well said and thank you for not being afraid to speak the truth. This coming from someone who has multiple police officers in their family for multiple generations.
"Good cops" don't mean the system is not a corrupt, racist structure designed to oppress minorities and uphold the status quo. Nor does it excuse the indiscriminate use of force against minorities nor peaceful, constitutionally protected protesters.
 




Orcslayer78

Explorer
The system is the problem. How can you not see that?
YOUR system, maybe, but as non north american let me give you the big news... you're not the center of the world!
In other countries law enforcment works fine, they are part of the military, they study years to become policemen and policewomen. By stating that guards in a fantasy world are problematic they're offending the figure of law enforcers in all the world, not only in USA.
 


Hussar

Legend
YOUR system, maybe, but as non north american let me give you the big news... you're not the center of the world!
In other countries law enforcment works fine, they are part of the military, they study years to become policemen and policewomen. By stating that guards in a fantasy world are problematic they're offending the figure of law enforcers in all the world, not only in USA.
Sorry, but, in what country are the police part of the military? That's a frightening thought.
 


Galandris

Adventurer
That’s pretty much the description of every D&D campaign ever.
I can see that, but usually in my experience at least the PCs act (a) when there is no law enforcement possible, because it's a point of light setting and they are in the wilderness so there are literally no authority to turn to in a reasonable response time (b) are commissioned by a figure of authority to act (a quest-giver with official power, especially when they are high level enough that CR 1/8 watchmen won't be of any help). The solution Paizo proposes is having them doing that in the center of what is apparently the largest metropolis of the world, not exactly a setting where there is no-one and the PCs have no other choice than taking the matter in their own hands.

Maybe my groups aren't representative of the gaming community at large, but they tend to feel uneasy when they are expected to take the matter in their own hand, unless it's very personal or they are commissioned to act.
 

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