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RESPECT: Find Out What It Means to Me!

While the rest of the team enjoys the three best months of the year in Seattle—and if you've never been to Seattle in the summer, you're really missing something special—I have returned to Atlanta for a couple of weeks prior to Gen Con. That means that the team is doing the bicoastal thing, which has the advantage of making our workday 11 hours long!

We made our first public presentation about Pathfinder Online at PaizoCon and it was a blast! Goblinworks did two hours of panels: a hour on the business and an hour of Q&A. We edited the presentation down to show you the highlights. A special thanks to Mike Azzolino who captured the audio for us.

On Saturday we attended the PaizoCon banquet and had the opportunity to show the first two images from the Technology Demo. We presented Seoni the sorcerer and the first Goblinworks goblin.

We also revealed Wayne Reynolds' final cover painting for the Thornkeep book!

We'll be back on the convention circuit for Gen Con—we've got a 1-hour panel scheduled for 1 pm on Saturday, and we hope to see a lot of friendly faces in attendance.

Rolling in the Deep

There may be no single topic that generates as much furor in RPGs as alignment. The arguments about what it means, how it maps to the real world, how to use it, what's wrong with it, and how to fix it have been going on since the day Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson first talked about it.

We blundered into this territory in our Put It In Writing blog, which mentioned that there would be alignment consequences for breaking a contract. Those implications tumbled into a lengthy series of discussions on the forums where 40+ years of alignment debate were swiftly regurgitated.

Given the level of interest, we felt it would be a great opportunity to dig deeper into the concept of reputation and relationships in Pathfinder Online for this blog. And as always, we're reminding you that what you're about to read is a work in progress and subject to change or wholesale revision based on further design work, feedback and playtesting.

Stairway to Heaven

In the real world, there's no absolute definition of good or evil or law or chaos, and everyone subjectively forms their own opinion of other people's ethics and morality. Two people could have very different opinions about a third person. In the world of Pathfinder, this is not the case. Alignment is a universal constant—an absolute framework within which every sentient creature is embedded. Two people can use magic to determine the alignment position of a third and they'll both get the same information.

Alignment in the Pathfinder world is also a descriptor. Things don't just act in good or evil ways; they are good or evil. And when a person uses something which is strongly aligned, that person is engaging in an act which is definitively aligned as well. The whole "ends justify the means" thing doesn't apply in Pathfinder.

There are also external consequences for a person's status within the alignment system. Some characters can lose important class features if they stray too far from a defined alignment—notably paladins and clerics. But there are forces in the universe who may be paying attention regardless of what path in life your character has chosen, for in Pathfinder, there are gods.

The gods of the Pathfinder world are strongly aligned. In fact, they are virtually the definition of what each alignment represents. There are several gods in some of the alignment positions who are each different expressions of the alignment they represent. And these gods are Paying Attention. How one lives a life is not theoretically related to how one spends eternity, it is a demonstrable fact. The gods are also a meddlesome bunch, and they grant and withhold favors to those who espouse their faiths and follow their teachings—including adherence to the god's preferred alignment, although many are fickle, so that one may never assume anything about a god's intentions or actions.

These effects will manifest in many ways in Pathfinder Online. Players will select an alignment for each character during character creation. Actions players take will tug at each character's alignment, shifting it this way and that. A prolonged series of minor actions, a few significant actions, or a single monumental action could shift a character's alignment into a whole new position.

Alignment will affect the kinds of religious services that the character can receive. Healing, restoration, and resurrection from some forms of death may require divine intervention. Alignment will affect the character's relationship with social organizations, and may cause a character to be ejected from them if the character's alignment diverges from the expected norm of that organization. NPCs may be more or less willing to interact with characters based on their alignments. The gates of some settlements may be open or closed to a character based on alignment.

In a world where alignment is meaningfully absolute and there is magic that can detect it, there are issues of security and trust which are therefore deeply impacted as well. Knowing where one's companions stand on the alignment graph is important. On the other hand, where would we be without espionage, betrayal and sabotage? A way to obfuscate or mislead others about one's alignment is a necessity. The cat-and-mouse game of alignment detection will be at the heart of many intrigues.

I Don't Give A Damn 'Bout My Bad Reputation

There are other mechanics in Pathfinder Online that describe the relationship between characters. One of those is the reputation system. A "reputation economy" is a method of giving weight to people's actions. Earning a good reputation is valuable, and having a bad reputation can close a lot of doors. eBay's buyer and seller ratings are an example of a reputation economy.

Your character will have a reputation as well. As your character undertakes various actions for others, those others will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the results, and you will have the opportunity to do the same in reverse.

Reputation is a social construct, and your reputation will flow through your social contacts. If nobody I know knows you, I will not have access to any of your reputation information. If some of my social connections know you, I will know what they know about your reputation. Treat my friends well or you may find it hard to do business with me.

We've also considered the idea that one could buy and sell reputation information about other characters. This would allow a character's reputation to cross from one social sphere to another. Your reputation may, in fact, precede you.

Reputation extends to social organizations as well. Chartered companies, settlements and player nations also have reputations, and those reputations are affected by the actions of their components, be they social organizations or individual characters. So what you do reflects not only on yourself, but on your associates.

One More Thing!

We're busy setting up meetings with at Gen Con, and our available timeslots are limited. If you would like to interview the team, or present your c.v. and portfolio, or pitch us on using your services, please email info@goblinworks.com with "GEN CON" in the subject of your message so we can be sure to take a look at it. We won't have time to meet with everyone, but we'll do our best to see as many folks as possible.

This would be a good chance to enhance your reputation with Goblinworks. :)

Discuss this blog on paizo.com.