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Yrnes
2015-07-06, 10:42 AM
Iím writing a level 17 adventure that tosses the party into the Astral Plane, where they soon find themselves caught in a clash between angels and demons warring in the plane for a powerful relic. Iíd like to use both the angels and the demons as hostile creatures.

Typically, the adventures I write use a creatureís alignment to steer combat; itís easy to justify PCs fighting evil creatures, and a case isnít hard to make for neutral or unaligned creatures. Iíve also made it so allies arenít always necessarily good Ė while there are certainly good-aligned creatures willing to work with the party, itís not hard to imagine neutral or evil creatures offering assistance to further their own desires.

What Iíve never done, however, is have an outright good creature become a hostile threat. So, in an adventure where I have a planetar (angel) lined up to be an ostensible villain, I need to make sure I have a justification. I can take a route where the angel is so dedicated to his goal that he perceives any interference as an evil act (such as Imperius from Diablo III, if youíre familiar), which will prompt him to attack the party, even if they have the best intentions. However, Iím not so sure players would buy that reasoning, particularly if their good-aligned characters might have an alignment crisis attacking an angel.

So, what do you think? If the stakes are high enough, can you justify attacking a creature that is wholly good? Would you buy that their own perceptions would cloud their judgment so theyíd leave no recourse but combat? Iíd appreciate your thoughts!

Segev
2015-07-06, 11:26 AM
One thing that many DMs make the mistake of doing is assuming what the PCs will do. When you need the PCs to take a certain action, you've already messed up in your planning.

I mention this because I'm hearing, "I need the PCs to fight against this Planetar as an antagonist, so the Planetar needs to be something they will fight." The trouble with this is that, unless the PCs have goals you know are incompatible with the Planetar's, and that they won't change their minds based on the notion that they might actually be in the wrong if this angel is telling them so, you can't guarantee that.

The "easiest" way to force it would be to make the Planetar's actions so reprehensible that the PCs cannot possibly feel that morality or ethics to which the PCs feel beholden would permit, let alone require, them to side with the Planetar. (Even then, if they're of a different moral compass than you expect, or you and they don't see the same thing in the Planetar, you can't guarantee they won't want to side with him.) Unfortunately, doing this strains the concept of "Good" so much that many people would cry "foul" at it. It's a cliche that's overdone and has never been well done: "This is why Good in extremis is also a bad thing!" No, it really isn't; that "good" thing isn't good at all; it's just being called such to create a false moral dilemma.

Given all of this, I would definitely go with your idea of making the Planetar very rigid, but also make him unequivocably Good. He can and does make hard choices, but he would never, ever commit a truly evil act. He will fight against neutral beings that obstruct his goals not because "they deserve it," but because they're aiding and abetting evil. Perhaps unknowingly, but he can't let them be patsy-shields to protect the evil.

Then, accept that the PCs may not decide he's an antagonist. They might throw in with him. Be prepared to run the campaign from that perspective. Show them his pain in some of the hard choices by letting them participate in them; this may cause them to change sides, or it may make for an emotional bond with their Planetar ally.

They could, also, side against him. There's nothing guaranteeing they will take either side, here. Just be prepared to run it either way; this will make the PCs' choices and actions more meaningful.



The other way to go about this is to figure out why you think he's an antagonist and can't be anything else. Then tell the players to build characters whose motivations will put them on the side that opposes the Planetar. Get the railroading done in character generation. It's acceptable there. "We're playing in a military game and you're on this side in this unit" sort of things are valid chargen restrictions.

QuickLyRaiNbow
2015-07-06, 11:34 AM
Ultron is Good, for a given value of such. I'd probably do something like that? You have a Solar who's going to wipe out Race X, because they're such a horrible force for evil.

But tbh I'd just let your players roll with it, and if you play the angel as enough of a jerk, they'll find some way to pick a fight with it.

SimonMoon6
2015-07-06, 11:40 AM
Ultron is Good, for a given value of such. I'd probably do something like that? You have a Solar who's going to wipe out Race X, because they're such a horrible force for evil.

Bonus points if that race is "Humans".

Perhaps killing all humans via some sort of flood? Is that something that can be done?

Comet
2015-07-06, 11:40 AM
Maybe the Angel just disagrees with the PCs on a particular aspect of Good and wants to test them on the battlefield to see if they are willing to stand by their words? Not fighting to the death, just pitting two forces of Good against each other and seeing whose ideals are stronger. In a D&D world physical might could very literally make right.

Yrnes
2015-07-06, 11:46 AM
Unfortunately, doing this strains the concept of "Good" so much that many people would cry "foul" at it. It's a cliche that's overdone and has never been well done: "This is why Good in extremis is also a bad thing!" No, it really isn't; that "good" thing isn't good at all; it's just being called such to create a false moral dilemma.

Given all of this, I would definitely go with your idea of making the Planetar very rigid, but also make him unequivocably Good. He can and does make hard choices, but he would never, ever commit a truly evil act. He will fight against neutral beings that obstruct his goals not because "they deserve it," but because they're aiding and abetting evil. Perhaps unknowingly, but he can't let them be patsy-shields to protect the evil.

This is truly the mindset I had going into writing this adventure, and it's reassuring to see you reiterate it here. It's likely this is the route I'm going to go, with a contingency if the party feels they wouldn't actively work against the planetar.

AceOfFools
2015-07-06, 12:23 PM
The key to having good antagonists is to give them mutually exclusive goals.

Consider two young women who want to use medicine to save their kindly grandmothers, but there's only enough medicine to cure one person. There will be conflict, potentially even combat, but both people are literally just trying to save their sick grandmother.

In your case, the angels may want the item for entirely good causes, but be unable to spare it for the PCs long enough for them to use it for what they want.

"Losing your loved ones may be sad, but I cannot allow the risk to the immortal souls of my people. Your loved ones time has passed, and soon they shall reap their eternal reward. I am sorry, but I cannot do more."

Hopefully your party won't fight each other over this.

awa
2015-07-06, 01:16 PM
angel at the plantar level are hard for this normally id say something like oh he's been tricked and thinks any thing you say is more lies but the big angels are normally to wise to make that plausible.

so I would go at it from another angle why do you want them to fight an angel if its just want an angel you could have a corrupted angel who has become obsessed with destroying evil and is taking more and more questionable methods to do so.

If it truly needs to be about good/ evil you could have the angels good be big picture long term but evil from the pcs point of view, although if you really need to have the pc fight them they cant explain themselves or the pcs might say yes I agree you have good reasoning. Hypothetical this otherwise harmless species is highly susceptible to demonic possession if allowed to thrive and interbreed with humans it will imperil a great many people in the future so we must purge them now while we have the chance.

Segev
2015-07-06, 01:51 PM
The suggestion about limited resources is a good one. Only you know what your PCs care about; we are not in your game. But make sure that something they want - no matter how noble - requires a resource that is scarse enough that the Planetar, in his similar need for it for his own great and good quest, cannot let them have it. To avoid a "he stole it" problem, make it something they're in competition to acquire.

Make the intended anti-villains - that is, the fiends or what-have-you - opposing the Planetar also be out to get this thing, but only to prevent the Planetar from having it. Whether the PCs like it or not, the fiends will happily help them acquire it if that has a better chance of it being denied the Planetar's forces than any effort by the fiends alone to destroy it.

Thus, the PCs' perfectly legitimately moral goal aligns with the fiends' malevolent goal and opposes the Planetar's goal.

dream
2015-07-06, 01:52 PM
Well. Planetars are "divine avatars" so to speak. Only Solars are more powerful and both creatures act out the whims of their gods. Completely, as in, they have no free will. Planetars have Detect Evil, so they would know the PCs true intentions behind any actions. Also, they tend to appear in groups, which makes sense for a 17th level party (the party could easily handle a lone Planetar).

So; some god goes volcano on a city for some reason and sends Planetars to wipe it out. Demons have possessed city leaders and have a huge cult backing them up. The PCs are in the aforementioned city and suddenly have an interesting dilemma. But, as was posted above, don't assume the PCs will fight. Be prepared for anything.

What system is this?

Flickerdart
2015-07-06, 02:15 PM
A creature of Good would be unlikely to wish to fight to the death, but there are all sorts of reasons for him to drive the PCs off with a few spells, down to "this is my mission and you are much more a risk than an asset." PCs are also likely to enjoy resources a planetar might consider great targets for smiting - unsavoury characters with information, black market magic item sellers, and so forth. A Chaotic planetar may even try and slay a captive Evil creature, both to punish it for its actions and to free it from torture at the hands of the PCs (who would probably want to pump it for information).

Yrnes
2015-07-06, 02:43 PM
Conversation so far has been really encouraging/engaging! Thanks for the suggestions.

I think the crux of the issue isn't whether or not the players will fight the angels; indeed they can certainly decide whether or not they fight any creature they come across regardless of alignment. It's more a matter of "selling" the narrative and justifying why an angel would attack them.

The feedback I've received certainly points towards the GOOD IN THE LONG RUN > GOOD FOR THE PCS plot line, where the angels would rather a tragedy happen now to ensure this relic doesn't fall into the hands of the demons, and the PCs need to prevent that tragedy at all costs.

Lvl 2 Expert
2015-07-06, 03:53 PM
In your case, the angels may want the item for entirely good causes, but be unable to spare it for the PCs long enough for them to use it for what they want.

Or worse, let two angels both have a good goal. They're evenly matched, and if the PC's don't intervene, neither of their goals will be accomplished. As soon as they pick one they wish to help, the other backstabs it into a ravine (okay, that part might be horribly out of character for an angel, it's a work in progress). That would motivate many PC's to fight it.

Karl Aegis
2015-07-06, 04:20 PM
I see an outsider I kill it. Alignment doesn't even factor into the equation.

Hawkstar
2015-07-06, 05:57 PM
A creature of Good would be unlikely to wish to fight to the death, but there are all sorts of reasons for him to drive the PCs off with a few spells, down to "this is my mission and you are much more a risk than an asset."Good alignment is not exclusive with killing Good and Neutral. While Good respects life, part of that respect also involves respecting the choices in what to do with that life, including causes worth dying for. If the PCs and Planetar both have incompatible goals they consider worth dying for, each will respect that wish of the other.

(I think my favorite fictional 'fight' between Good vs. Good would be Blunt vs. Florence in Freefall. Or at least this strip (http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff2400/fc02321.htm) in it.

Flickerdart
2015-07-06, 08:11 PM
Good alignment is not exclusive with killing Good and Neutral. While Good respects life, part of that respect also involves respecting the choices in what to do with that life, including causes worth dying for. If the PCs and Planetar both have incompatible goals they consider worth dying for, each will respect that wish of the other.
Right, and this is exactly the sort of unlikely situation I was referring to when I said it would be unlikely.

Straybow
2015-07-07, 04:15 AM
The angel is acting on specific orders from a LG god. The adventurers aren't necessarily privy to the orders, nor would the angel reveal the orders to anybody who gets in the way. If the party members are unquestionably good, he'd warn them not to interfere, and after that he's clear of wrongdoing alignment-wise.

dream
2015-07-07, 09:15 AM
The angel is acting on specific orders from a LG god. The adventurers aren't necessarily privy to the orders, nor would the angel reveal the orders to anybody who gets in the way. If the party members are unquestionably good, he'd warn them not to interfere, and after that he's clear of wrongdoing alignment-wise.
That was exactly how I saw Planetars. Kind of like "celestial Terminators" :smalltongue: