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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!"

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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

Russ Morrissey

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
Some folks in this thread seem to be missing important context.

To use an example to illustrate: The "go be pirates" AP isn't presenting the characters as being "good people" according to the in-setting narrative - it's presenting them as pirates.

But this AP intended to present the characters as being "good people" according to the in-setting narrative - so Paizo decided to point out that anyone going "murderhobo" while playing it is outside of their intentions for the adventure.
 

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Hussar

Legend
It's funny. When I ran Dragon Heist and told the players that any killing would be punished, my players practically revolted. They were SO pissed off that this was part of Waterdeep. The fact that they couldn't kill NPC's whenever they wanted to just drove them right around the twist.

Not a group I'd want to play this module with.
 

Sadras

Hero
I hope not! I hope someone can tell me why what I said was controversial...we see the other officers literally looking away as Floyd is murdered, don't we?

I edited my post for clarity (we cross posted).
If you are going to make a comment about cops, make sure you are specific. The way you have phrased it, looks like its a statement on all cops looking the other way. I hope I have been clear.
 

Reynard

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.
I wonder then why you are so adamantly pro-American-police in your post when you don't live in a place suffering from the broken American law enforcement system? Frankly, it is more than a little offensive for you to "well actually" at people living under that system watching it kill and oppress their friends and neighbors.
 

Sadras

Hero
It's funny. When I ran Dragon Heist and told the players that any killing would be punished, my players practically revolted. They were SO pissed off that this was part of Waterdeep. The fact that they couldn't kill NPC's whenever they wanted to just drove them right around the twist.

Not a group I'd want to play this module with.

Though that group sounds perfect for Murder in Balder's Gate. My group was too cautious sadly and surprisingly in that module so wasn't able to enact the possible twist in that module. :(
 



Kaodi

Adventurer
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.

I do not think there is anywhere in the world where law enforcement is above reproach. Certainly in many places police get more training and behave more responsibly than police in the United States or Canada too. I can appreciate arguments that some discussions of social issues can be insular - it often bugs the Hell out of me when Americans speak as if their history is the only one that matters when considering the truth value of statements because they have Canada right next door where things are not quite the same. But please try to keep in mind that the people at Paizo are people who grew up in and write from the same context where the police have gone rogue. If more responsible forces worldwide are offended then they should at least appreciate how the violence of US "law enforcement" is a cautionary tale.
 



dave2008

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.
I can't speak for all of the world, but I know there is a systemic problem with race in most of the world and that often, if not always, get's translated into the police. If you can't see that, well I don't know what world you are looking at.
 

JPL

Adventurer
Having read a little bit about the emergent genre of "hopepunk," I've actually been thinking about RPG campaigns that try to explore those themes and capture a bit of the zeitgeist.

"Diverse common folk rising up to oppose fascist overlords" could happen in LotR or Star Wars . . . what would those campaigns be like through the lens of 2020? All hobbits, no wizards. All moisture farmers, no Jedi. No light at the end of the tunnel, so good thing we got matches.
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
I'm sorry, but, how are the discussions in this thread not WAY over the "no politics" line for En World. This is NOT THE PLACE for this discussion.

Why are their worldwide protests against police brutality and the murder of George Floyd? Why are people so upset about something that happened in another country separated by oceans? I appreciate where you are coming from but sometimes the issue grows to be bigger than the local context. We just happened to have hit that point where it is very hard to ignore the juxtaposition of a real world issue and what is going on within our hobby.
 

Orcslayer78

Explorer
I wonder then why you are so adamantly pro-American-police in your post when you don't live in a place suffering from the broken American law enforcement system? Frankly, it is more than a little offensive for you to "well actually" at people living under that system watching it kill and oppress their friends and neighbors.

Because you're whining like you're living under a dictatorship a la V for Vendetta and yet protesters are still alive instead than being gunned down like in a true dictatorship.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I would just like to point out that for a certain segment of the community, including myself, this post is highly offensive. I won't go into why for the sake of civility.

Over and over again, we see LEOs that are recorded committing violence, planting evidence, and generally dishonoring their badges and their community. You see them caught in lies on the stand ("My training and experience") that cannot get called out by judges or prosecutors, because if an LEO is shown to have lied, then their future and past testimony will be called into question.

We have seen repeated evidence of officers just recently slashing tires, breaking windows, and inflicting violence and then blaming it on others.

The number of times that these LEOs have been turned in by fellow officers is appropriately zero. When people point this out, we get posts like this claiming offense. The real problem isn't the Blue Wall of Silence, it's people criticizing law enforcement????? Isn't there something truly offensive when supposed public servants are telling the public, "Hey, you're not allowed to even criticize us; we are unaccountable."

Do you know what offensive? An unaccountable force that attacks the population it is meant to serve, and closes ranks around the "few bad apples" whenever it is called into account. What is going on now did not spring up because of one event, but is the culmination of the slow drip drip drip of news; of violence unchecked, of police sexually assaulting people in their care and getting away with it by claiming the consent of people they arrested, of officers finally getting fired by one department only to surface somewhere else, of entire communities terrified by the people that are supposed to protect them; of scandal after scandal with no real repercussions.

Yes, there are many brave and honorable LEOs out there- so before attacking the people that you serve, that are beginning to question what is going on, perhaps the brave and honorable LEOs should look to clean up their own house.

As for this release, I understand that there should be increased sensitivity. Especially given that PF/D&D traditionally have a lot of hobomurdering, and when you combine that with a "police" theme, it may not seem fully appropriate to the moment regardless of how you feel about policing.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Folks, this the latest in a lot of long threads which are proving to be identical. We're already closing some of those down as they have run their curse and are just repeating things over and over. This thread is already doing the same, so I'm closing it.
 

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