PDA

View Full Version : Obviously Evil (Yet another alignment thread)



Mikeavelli
2010-08-17, 03:43 PM
I'm a little dumbfounded sometimes by things people consider to be "not intrinsincally evil."

This came up in game when it turned out I was the only person in the room who thought torture was obviously an evil act, in D&D terms. Allowing for someone to squeak by with neutrality in supremely exceptional circumstances.

There's a lot of others, "Why is necromancy evil?" "Why is being an Assassin evil?" Recently asked on this board. Those subjects already have threads devoted to them, so try not to derail this too much, but question I'm asking is this:

What actions, in the context of D&D, do you think are absolutely, undeniably, evil? I mean, seriously, if torture, raising up unholy abominations, and killing for money aren't enough, what will it take for you to admit beyond the shadow of a doubt that the line has been crossed?

Tengu_temp
2010-08-17, 03:57 PM
Necromancy is evil in DND, because you bring negative energy to the world, killing it a bit. In most other settings, necromancy is a tool, neither good nor evil, and even in DND you can use it for good greater than the evil of creating undead.

Killing people for money without caring who they are is evil. Torture is evil.

SurlySeraph
2010-08-17, 04:06 PM
@^: Then why don't all the Inflict Wound spells, which use negative energy, get marked with [Evil]? (Side note: I can see a strong argument that causing negative energy to persist on the Material Plane for a long time is inherently evil, what with spells that do it like Animate Dead and Desecrate being evil, but just using negative energy as an attack does not appear to be evil).

Let's see... giving comfort and aid to evil outsiders (with a possible exception for when it's for a greater good, like to avoid breaking your cover or to keep the Blood War going), harming good outsiders (with the same caveat as above), doing anything for no reason but to please an evil being, praying to an evil deity, killing unarmed infants of a species that is not inherently evil and not capable of killing you from birth, and selling bikinis to Illithids.

EDIT: Also, anything that you can't really make jokes about. Rape, genocide, beating up and robbing disabled war veterans, etc.

Reluctance
2010-08-17, 04:07 PM
What actions, in the context of D&D, do you think are absolutely, undeniably, evil? I mean, seriously, if torture, raising up unholy abominations, and killing for money aren't enough, what will it take for you to admit beyond the shadow of a doubt that the line has been crossed?

When I'm playing a class with an evil alignment restriction. That's when I vehemently start arguing why saving orphaned puppies should not put my self image or class features at risk.

Frozen_Feet
2010-08-17, 04:13 PM
Using any spell with [Evil] indicator. If goddamn metaphysics of magic agree it's nasty, it's nasty. You might not drop from LG to CE with one use, but the celestial choir isn't exactly gonna sing praise to you.

Mingling with creatures that are [Evil], such as the whole infernal lot. It's a bad idea, period.

Murder, that is, killing someone just because of pettiness or desire for pleasure or profit. If you don't need to end its life to continue yours, you have no right to.

Otherwise harming living beings for pettines, or desire for pleasure or profit. Yes, that includes beating your wife and stealing candies from children! Get back here!

Of course, under my view of Alignment, a single evil act rarely burdens a character with lots of good deeds under his belt (unless you're a paladin, but that's different story entirely). So if you brutally slaughter that local jerk who really, really had it coming after working your ass off to save the whole town a couple of times, you'll ping Lawful Good just fine next time someone shoots you with a Detect spell. Just don't expect there to be no consequences.

Project_Mayhem
2010-08-17, 04:14 PM
Also, anything that you can't really make jokes about. Rape, genocide, beating up and robbing disabled war veterans, etc.

I'll be honest, all of those are joke-worthy material. There isn't a subject you can't make funny if your a skilled comedian.

Frozen_Feet
2010-08-17, 04:22 PM
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cit_vgcats135_rape_is_never_funny.jpg

I agree with Project Mayhem, unfortunately.

dsmiles
2010-08-17, 04:23 PM
Oooooo...eVil. (That's right. eVil with a capital V.)

Assassination is not in and of itself evil. I once ran a campaign with a LN government sponsored "Assassins' Guild" that worked specifically for the government, and only for the government. "Standard" assassins' guilds, however, are evil. They will take contracts from anybody to kill anybody. This is evil.

Necromancy is also not inherently evil. There are some non-aligned Necromancy spells. Animating undead creatures, summoning undead creatures, and creating undead creatures (except for the original 1e/2e version of the archlich, and the baelnnorn) is evil.

Torture is borderline evil. Torturing an enemy to get information about a planned attack, or something of that nature is borderline. Torturing for the sake of torturing, or getting pleasure from torturing is evil.

Giving aid/succor to evil-aligned creatures is not evil. I am a paladin of a good deity, I give aid to evil creatures to show that not everyone is out to get them. Giving aid to evil outsiders could be evil, depending. If the evil outsider was already proven to be genuinely trying to change its ways, aiding it in doing so is not evil. Most of the time, aiding evil outsiders is evil, even in the service of the greater good. The enemy of my enemy is not always my friend.

Let's see - Rape? Definitely evil. Genocide? Probably evil, unless I'm wiping out evil outsiders.

Keep in mind, that these are my opinions, and I have no intention to toss grenades in the punchbowl.

Project_Mayhem
2010-08-17, 04:34 PM
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cit_vgcats135_rape_is_never_funny.jpg

I agree with Project Mayhem, unfortunately.

That's rarely a good thing :smalltongue:

Caveat: Of course I would advocate doing any of those things. Doesn't stop them being potentially funny. Black humour is popular for a reason

Kaeso
2010-08-17, 04:39 PM
I'm a little dumbfounded sometimes by things people consider to be "not intrinsincally evil."

This came up in game when it turned out I was the only person in the room who thought torture was obviously an evil act, in D&D terms. Allowing for someone to squeak by with neutrality in supremely exceptional circumstances.

There's a lot of others, "Why is necromancy evil?" "Why is being an Assassin evil?" Recently asked on this board. Those subjects already have threads devoted to them, so try not to derail this too much, but question I'm asking is this:

What actions, in the context of D&D, do you think are absolutely, undeniably, evil? I mean, seriously, if torture, raising up unholy abominations, and killing for money aren't enough, what will it take for you to admit beyond the shadow of a doubt that the line has been crossed?

DnD takes place in a medieval-ish world. In those times the complicated methods we use to fight crime weren't available so torture was in many cases the only means by which one could make a witness who refuses to testify speak. Even though I agree that torture certainly isn't a good act, it's not thoroughly evil if you see it in the medieval context, so it should be in the neutral area IMHO. Torture just for the sake of seeing a man suffer however is pure evil.

EDIT: Ninja'd (sort of)

KillianHawkeye
2010-08-17, 04:48 PM
Let's see... giving comfort and aid to evil outsiders (with a possible exception for when it's for a greater good, like to avoid breaking your cover or to keep the Blood War going), harming good outsiders (with the same caveat as above), doing anything for no reason but to please an evil being, praying to an evil deity, killing unarmed infants of a species that is not inherently evil and not capable of killing you from birth, and selling bikinis to Illithids.

Sorry, but I don't define what is Good and Evil based on the alignment of the person being affected. If giving comfort and aid to Good creatures isn't Evil, it won't become Evil just because you are comforting and aiding Evil creatures. Similarly, if harming a Good outsider is Evil, so is harming an Evil (or Neutral) one. Praying or trying to please someone aren't Evil in and of themselves, unless you are doing something specifically Evil as a part of meeting those goals. Killing unarmed infants of any intelligent race is Evil because they are generally completely at your mercy.

Although I will make an exception for selling bikinis to Illithids. That IS truly a vile act! :smallwink::smallamused:

dsmiles
2010-08-17, 04:55 PM
Although I will make an exception for selling bikinis to Illithids. That IS truly a vile act! :smallwink::smallamused:

What's this? Rule 34 has failed? Google got nothing? How am I supposed to be funny without a picture of a mind flayer in a bikini???

nyarlathotep
2010-08-17, 04:56 PM
Torture is always evil period. Sometimes you can justify it and say that it shouldn't cause an alignment shift; say if the information you are getting will save lives, there are no magical methods to extract the information, and you are unable to get them to give you the info through intimidation or diplomacy, but it would still be evil. In fact in most cases I'd say that killing them and casting speak with dead is preferable to torture, assuming they are the same sort of enemy that you've killed dozens of moments before.

Subotei
2010-08-17, 05:24 PM
I'd agree with the acts defined by the original post as evil. Using tortue in a world full of magic seems a poor choice as well as evil.

I'd also make a suggestion that any non-representative form of goverment is intrisically evil. Absolute monarchies, dictatorships etc, because they rely on force to compel loyalty.

Aroka
2010-08-17, 05:27 PM
I'd also make a suggestion that any non-representative form of goverment is intrisically evil. Absolute monarchies, dictatorships etc, because they rely on force to compel loyalty.

Representative governments use force on people all the time. They impose a bunch of rules on you, and then forcefully arrest you and detain you and take your things if you refuse to follow them (such as by not paying taxes). Government by definition uses force, unless it's a completely voluntary system of free participation (an anarchic commune, and anarchy is the opposite of government).

Subotei
2010-08-17, 05:49 PM
Representative governments use force on people all the time. They impose a bunch of rules on you, and then forcefully arrest you and detain you and take your things if you refuse to follow them (such as by not paying taxes). Government by definition uses force, unless it's a completely voluntary system of free participation (an anarchic commune, and anarchy is the opposite of government).

I disagree - the rules are agreed with your participation, and you have a chance to change the government, thus changing the rules, if you disagree with them. Its government for the collective good verses someones whim - very different from a King who found a fancy sword and now thinks he can lord it over everyone.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-08-17, 05:50 PM
Very different from a King who found a fancy sword and now thinks he can lord it over everyone.
I hate how much Monty Python has villainized this. The king of which you speak was dedicated to bring unity, justice and peace to the people, not indulging his own whims.

SurlySeraph
2010-08-17, 05:52 PM
Sorry, but I don't define what is Good and Evil based on the alignment of the person being affected. If giving comfort and aid to Good creatures isn't Evil, it won't become Evil just because you are comforting and aiding Evil creatures. Similarly, if harming a Good outsider is Evil, so is harming an Evil (or Neutral) one.

Not good and evil creatures. Good and evil outsiders. A good man and an evil man are still flesh-and-blood people, with changeable minds. Outsiders are literally magical blobs of concepts. A succubus isn't a person, it's an attractively-shaped blob of evil and chaos. Which can be converted to good by Sanctify the Wicked or true love (like that succubus paladin on the WotC website) or a similarly strong plot device, but is still a living blob of evil.

As for bikinillithids, there was one posted in the Belkar's Romantic Interest thread from way back. And reposted in the somewhat more recent OOTS House of Horrors thread.

DanReiv
2010-08-17, 05:56 PM
That's a bit basic but true. Violence is part of any goverments. It goes with the territory.

Now with the real question : is violence good or bad ?

I believe most playgrounders are lucky enough to be part of one of these representative government, and most will feel that self defense is a-okay.

Then I'll go ahead and ask to define self defense. Where does it begin, where does it end ? There's no definitive list last time I checked, criteria may differ here and then (religion, anyone ?)

And it's only one species, think about D&D !

There's no universal truth, that's all. Deal with it, and make your own, common sense help, but we've already made up our own criteria a long time ago based on our education/life. Go with you flow :smallbiggrin:

KillianHawkeye
2010-08-17, 06:01 PM
Not good and evil creatures. Good and evil outsiders. A good man and an evil man are still flesh-and-blood people, with changeable minds. Outsiders are literally magical blobs of concepts. A succubus isn't a person, it's an attractively-shaped blob of evil and chaos. Which can be converted to good by Sanctify the Wicked or true love (like that succubus paladin on the WotC website) or a similarly strong plot device, but is still a living blob of evil.

Outsiders are itelligent creatures. That pretty much makes them people to me.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-08-17, 06:05 PM
What actions, in the context of D&D, do you think are absolutely, undeniably, evil? I mean, seriously, if torture, raising up unholy abominations, and killing for money aren't enough, what will it take for you to admit beyond the shadow of a doubt that the line has been crossed?
Raising up unholy abominations is Evil by definition - in 3.5 anyhow. In TSR D&D some forms of Animate Dead were acceptable, but most of the real nasty stuff was unquestionably Evil because it either showed a disrespect for life (perverting the natural order) or for fairly obvious reasons.

But what does it take to be Evil? Let's consult the SRD:

Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.

* * *

"Evil" implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.
At its core, killing Innocents is an Evil act - it's literally what Evil creatures do. Most of the other "evil" acts people talk about are, at worst, Not-Good; Good people don't torture, for example, because it shows a disrespect for life and the dignity of sentient creatures. However, Neutrals could very well torture non-innocents for cause (as opposed to for fun or profit), and even innocents if the cause was very great.

Remember: Acts do not have Alignment; characters do. Acts are, at best, an indication of the true Alignment of a given character by revealing what actions are compatible with their underlying belief system.

nyarlathotep
2010-08-17, 06:37 PM
I'd also make a suggestion that any non-representative form of goverment is intrisically evil. Absolute monarchies, dictatorships etc, because they rely on force to compel loyalty.

I also have to disagree with this. I would suggest that any government that prevents people from leaving is evil. After all a monarchy can be good for its people and as long as it's just operating under a, my house my rules system, you can leave during the bad kings.

SurlySeraph
2010-08-17, 06:37 PM
Screw respect for life and dignity. Good people don't torture because it's inflicting excruciating pain on someone for little or no reason, and inflicting pain unnecessarily is bad. If someone had a red-hot poker up my nose I'd be a lot more upset by my inability to breath and the hideous burning, oh god the burning, than by the affront to my dignity.

Also, I find it hard to understand why acts can't have alignment when casting certain spells is specifically designated as evil.

@V: I'd add genocide to that list, though in DnD it's more plausible as sometimes good, what with the profusion of races that actually *are* inherently evil.

Yukitsu
2010-08-17, 06:41 PM
I'm a little dumbfounded sometimes by things people consider to be "not intrinsincally evil."

This came up in game when it turned out I was the only person in the room who thought torture was obviously an evil act, in D&D terms. Allowing for someone to squeak by with neutrality in supremely exceptional circumstances.

There's a lot of others, "Why is necromancy evil?" "Why is being an Assassin evil?" Recently asked on this board. Those subjects already have threads devoted to them, so try not to derail this too much, but question I'm asking is this:

What actions, in the context of D&D, do you think are absolutely, undeniably, evil? I mean, seriously, if torture, raising up unholy abominations, and killing for money aren't enough, what will it take for you to admit beyond the shadow of a doubt that the line has been crossed?

Much like in real life, I don't believe any act can sensibly be referred to as evil without a greater context. So far as I know, rape is the only thing I can think of that will never have utility without bizarre and impossible contrivances and possibly some kind of alien invasion. So I guess I'll say rape is always and unequivocably evil.

Tiki Snakes
2010-08-17, 06:47 PM
What's this? Rule 34 has failed? Google got nothing? How am I supposed to be funny without a picture of a mind flayer in a bikini???

http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs50/f/2009/288/d/d/Lady_Illithid_by_TheDjib.jpg

You're Welcome. :smallwink:

awa
2010-08-17, 07:17 PM
slightly off topic i had one demon argue he wasn't evil because he had no free will. Because he did not have the capacity to change his nature like a mortal he wasn't really evil he just was.

in regard to interacting with evil outsiders not all evill outsiders are defined by their evil take effrite for example.

I would have to disagree with the comment made near the begining that necromancy outside of dnd is normally portrayed as a tool but not inherently evil the vast majority of the media i have seen shows that raising the dead to do your biding is evil.

I personal tend to feel mind control is pretty bad for example forcing a man to kill his allies is worse then killing them your self because your are in affect tourtering both the person you kill who had to decide if he was willing to cut down his friend in order to save himself and the mind controled person if he ever becomes aware enough to realize what he has done.

Fiery Diamond
2010-08-17, 07:20 PM
I'll be honest, all of those are joke-worthy material. There isn't a subject you can't make funny if your a skilled comedian.

Depends on what you mean by joke-worthy. Also depends on what you mean by funny. If you mean "jokes are capable of being made about them" and "some human beings will find humor in it", respectively, then I suppose that I cannot argue. If, however, you mean, "A sane, non-evil human being can enjoy and find humor in them if a joke is adequately made," then I disagree. Vehemently. As in, I think individuals who find any rape joke amusing should be locked up, at a minimum. Such subjects are not amusing to any sane, non-evil human being.

And now, before I degenerate into flaming people who disagree with this self-evident statement, I think I will leave this thread and never return. It sickens me to see how many evil people there are, even in a forum like this.

G3N3R3L GHOST
2010-08-17, 07:31 PM
Questions of what is good and evil will always be an infinite loop of uh huh vs nuh uh. What is right and what is wrong is based solely upon point of view. Society, religion, or even pure personal value creates each individuals moral compass. And that personals moral compass will be the sole dictator of what is good and evil. Most people here, including myself, will agree certain things...rape genocide etc are evil. But everyone here comes from the same world. With the same basic set of laws and values that is passed down through friends, family, media etc. In terms of D&D I would say what is good and evil would depend purely on the DM and what he/she believes. I have seen some people say assassins are purely evil. But what if they assassinate the Hitler's of the world. Are they any more evil than a random soldier on the battlefield sent out to secure the head of some movement the world has decided to quench. I would argue that is not evil, others would say it is. As a wise jedi once said "Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view." If there was ever a good person to listen to, one with the most wisdom in all the galaxy is it :smallbiggrin:

FelixG
2010-08-17, 07:35 PM
Good people don't torture because it's inflicting excruciating pain on someone for little or no reason, and inflicting pain unnecessarily is bad.

a Evil guy has information you need, the information will save hundreds of lives if you can get it out of him within the day, the party casters didn't prepare/used up their magic for the day. Oh well guess those hundreads of people will have to die but be humble for the fact that a good person didn't think their lives were worth more than one evil dudes discomfort.

In this scenario its not "little or no reason." the good character wouldn't be doing it for fun or pleasure, but to save multitudes of people. So yes, torture can fall either on the side of evil (for pleasure and fun) or just "not good" (for a purpose)

I dont know who said it but "Evil Prevails when Good Men Fail To Act"

awa
2010-08-17, 07:41 PM
the problem with the assassin is that the dnd assassin is an individual who murdered a man for the sole purpose of joining the assassin club

Shade Kerrin
2010-08-17, 07:49 PM
I think I read something in a 3.5 book (or maybe magazine) that said, 'even creating a mindless undead requires the forceful binding of a soul to perform the duty, which is why animate dead spells have a [evil] descriptor.'
That animate dead doesn't work on chairs might help back this line up, I dunno...

SurlySeraph
2010-08-17, 08:13 PM
a Evil guy has information you need, the information will save hundreds of lives if you can get it out of him within the day, the party casters didn't prepare/used up their magic for the day. Oh well guess those hundreads of people will have to die but be humble for the fact that a good person didn't think their lives were worth more than one evil dudes discomfort.

I agree that torture is the lesser evil, which a good character should choose, in that situation. But in general, good doesn't torture. I think that was implied with the "inflicting excruciating pain on someone for little or no reason" clause; the ticking time bomb scenario would of course a pretty good reason to torture someone if it ever happened.


And now, before I degenerate into flaming people who disagree with this self-evident statement, I think I will leave this thread and never return. It sickens me to see how many evil people there are, even in a forum like this.

Speaking as someone who loves to play paranoid, reactionary, ultra-self-righteous paladins, you should calm down. And I know you're still reading this thread, this is the Internet. You know no one's going to hold you to that or be able to prove if you do or not. Don't be shy about posting if you have more to say.

Mystic Muse
2010-08-17, 08:18 PM
http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs50/f/2009/288/d/d/Lady_Illithid_by_TheDjib.jpg

You're Welcome. :smallwink:

What does it say about me that I don't require brain bleach after looking at this?

Riffington
2010-08-17, 09:34 PM
Much like in real life, I don't believe any act can sensibly be referred to as evil without a greater context. So far as I know, rape is the only thing I can think of that will never have utility without bizarre and impossible contrivances and possibly some kind of alien invasion. So I guess I'll say rape is always and unequivocably evil.

Rape (and many other acts) are evil, but have utility. You do not need bizarre contrivances. In the real world, it is practiced
*as a punishment for crimes, and a deterrent.
*in order to bring life into the world
*as a means of control
*to cement relationships
*for fun

All of these have utility (for good or evil ends); non justify this heinous act. The same may be said of torture, murder, betrayal, slavery, etc.

But usually, the arguments are in favor of torture. It is said that one may torture a person in order to gain useful information, which may save lives.
The question is not whether torture produces useful information. It does, provided you have a means of corroborating information (and in D&D, you have many such means). The question is whether torture can ever be justified by the ends it purports to serve. And the answer, for it like the others, is that it's still an Evil act.

Mystic Muse
2010-08-17, 10:07 PM
Rape (and many other acts) are evil, but have utility. You do not need bizarre contrivances. In the real world, it is practiced
*as a punishment for crimes, and a deterrent.
*in order to bring life into the world
*as a means of control
*to cement relationships
*for fun

I'm pretty sure that you don't have the definition right. It can be used for those things but 2,4 and 5. Are usually consensual.

Kaun
2010-08-17, 11:49 PM
I agree that torture is the lesser evil, which a good character should choose, in that situation. But in general, good doesn't torture. I think that was implied with the "inflicting excruciating pain on someone for little or no reason" clause; the ticking time bomb scenario would of course a pretty good reason to torture someone if it ever happened.


I think Torture is the always evil cousin of Interrogation and intimidation.

Not saying that interrogation and intimidation are "good" per say but they have a bit more freedom to wander up and down the alignment street.

It is an extreem way to get information and it may be the lesser of two evil's in many cases but that doesn't change the fact that it is still evil.

Lord Raziere
2010-08-17, 11:57 PM
adventuring. that is all that I'm going to say is evil.

Saurus33
2010-08-18, 12:00 AM
Isn't this "Deontologists vs. Consequentialists MXXXVI; the Flamewar to end them all!"

Deontologists: "Torture bad!"
Consequentialists:"Circumstances make torture not bad!"
Deontologists:"No circumstances!"
Consequentialists:"KILL!"

And then they kill each other. Again.

Morithias
2010-08-18, 12:15 AM
Ultimately I say the reason for a person's doing of an action is what makes it truly evil.

Person fights and kill someone to defend a town? Good act
Person fights and kills someone because they enjoy killing? Evil act.

However, even then we reach gray areas.

Like say I had a magic sword that made me unable to be killed harmed, or defeated while defending a town. And I used it to slay whole armies via defending towns. Good act right?

However....is it a good act if I use the sword simple to protect myself not caring about the townsfolk. In fact the only reason I use the sword that way is because...I love killing people, and I find that using said sword in such a way allows me to regularly slay bandits, armies, and all kinds of creatures without getting into trouble. Even being considered a hero, but in the end it all just boils down to the fact that I love bloodshed.

Is my defending of the town good or evil? Neither, this is where killing someone would be truly 'neutral' act.

awa
2010-08-18, 12:51 AM
personally i believe it is easier to do evil then it is to do good and what i mean by that is this. If you do a good thing for a bad reason it is not a good act and may be an evil act. If you do something evil but think your doing good it's still evil.

Magikeeper
2010-08-18, 01:21 AM
I donít really argue on the morality of torture as I feel those arguments completely miss the point : Torture is unreliable. Iíd hope the heroes my life depends on can do better than that.

Torture excels at one thing and only one thing: Getting people to tell you what they think you want to hear. Whether or not that thing is true has nothing to do with it.

What if the villain really doesnít know?
What if the villain doesnít think you are going to like the truth?
Doesnít think you would believe the actual truth?
Hates your guts and knows it will be too late to torture him some more later? (I think the first 3 are more common, personally)

You will still end up with the villain giving you something that will make you stop, but there are no guarantees that it will save the day. Worse, it might screw up any chance you had of finding the actual truth.

I guess if you need a password and can check the password immediately with no catastrophe resulting from inputting the wrong password then torturing your enemies to death until someone can give you the real password would be a worthwhile strategy. It still would not be my first choice, as I feel other strategies are more likely to produce results.

Arguing the morality of torture is pointless because using it is inefficient and prone to error. Using isn't logical. In a magical situation where it would save the day, a world where people tell the truth when beaten like some kind of punching bag turned wishing well and you can always tell truth from fiction, go for it.

------------------------------------
------------------------------------

Now, using torture to elicit false testimony/confessions is an evil act IMO. Which, on another note, is what I would consider the logical use for torture. Very high success rate if you arenít concerned with the truth of things. Note that the reason this works so well is the SAME REASON using torture to find the truth is foolish. The fact torture works so well when used for this purpose is evidence for my point that I think we can all agree on.

Ravens_cry
2010-08-18, 01:28 AM
http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs50/f/2009/288/d/d/Lady_Illithid_by_TheDjib.jpg

You're Welcome. :smallwink:
Ooh, she's cute.
*Ravens Cry scurries off to a certain thread with link in hand.*

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 02:41 AM
Remember: Acts do not have Alignment; characters do. Acts are, at best, an indication of the true Alignment of a given character by revealing what actions are compatible with their underlying belief system.

Then why, do paladins "Fall for committing Evil acts"? It's not a case of their "underlying belief system changing", often- it's them believing that the act is "necessary in order to protect the innocent" and falling because, whether the act was necessary or not, it was evil.

Fiendish Codex 2. BoED. Champions of Ruin. All seem to go with the notion that an act itself can be intrinsically evil regardless of the circumstances.

"Not-Good (but Not-Evil) acts are a sign of a non-good alignment" doesn't really make much sense.

It makes far more sense to say, as BoED does, that torture is an Evil act, and as Champions of Ruin does, that repeatedly committing Evil acts is the mark of an Evil alignment.

D&D is not really consequentialist- in general, there, morality of acts are not determined by their consequences.

Also, there's "rebuking/commanding undead is an evil act" in the PHB- despite the fact that theres nothing in that which intrinsicly harms innocents.

Or "casting [Evil] spells is an evil act" in FC2, Eberron Campaign Setting, BoVD. Again, if the evil spell doesn't harm the innocent, why would that be?

Conclusion- an act does not have to harm the innocent, for it to be Evil.

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 03:56 AM
Having said all that- there is some evidence that if the evil acts are minor, and the character never loses sight of their duty to protect people in general and the innocent in particular, and not to harm anyone without just cause, then, they may be able to maintain a Neutral alignment.

Heroes of Horror suggests that antiheroic characters in general, capable of doing evil acts but with Good personality traits, are "a flexible neutral"- though I'd say that if the evil acts are severe enough and common enough, even if only directed at the "not innocent", Champions of Ruin's "the mark of an evil character" clause kicks in.

And, in the description of Dread Necromancers in Heroes of Horror, it suggests that while the character's class mandates committing evil acts, if they balance those with good intentions, they may be able to maintain a Neutral alignment.

Casting an [Evil] spell is a very minor Evil act- it's at the bottom of the Corrupt act list in FC2.

Torture, however, while varying, can be anything up to the most Corrupt act on the list- equal to Murder For Pleasure.

There's another common justification given for torture besides "getting information"- and that's "punishing the deserving, in order to deter crime"- people who say that this should not be an evil act, sometimes go so far as to say "If you don't torture some criminals horribly and publically, then you bear responsibility for the crimes that happen as a result of lack of deterrence".

This, however, is closer to the Lawful Evil method of dealing with crime, in FC2.

Kaeso
2010-08-18, 04:15 AM
Isn't this "Deontologists vs. Consequentialists MXXXVI; the Flamewar to end them all!"

Deontologists: "Torture bad!"
Consequentialists:"Circumstances make torture not bad!"
Deontologists:"No circumstances!"
Consequentialists:"KILL!"

And then they kill each other. Again.

Congratulations, if you replace the words "Deontologists" and "Consequentialists" with pretty much any other two opposing views you have described the entire internet in a nutshell :smallwink:

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 04:18 AM
Player's Handbook 2 (3.5) does suggest, of one of the sample paladin doctrines (Moral Philosopher) that:

"Outside of moral absolutes, an ethical code is based on the greatest good of the greatest number"

So- an element of consequentialism can work in D&D- but moral absolutes still exist there, and these are the bits that consequentialism doesn't apply to.

dsmiles
2010-08-18, 04:19 AM
http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs50/f/2009/288/d/d/Lady_Illithid_by_TheDjib.jpg

You're Welcome. :smallwink:

GAH! Can't...unsee...

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 04:40 AM
Raising up unholy abominations is Evil by definition - in 3.5 anyhow. In TSR D&D some forms of Animate Dead were acceptable.

The phrase used was "casting animate dead is not a good act, and only evil clerics/wizards do it regularly"

So, here this "not a good act" is "a sign of an Evil character if used regularly" just on it's own.

Shademan
2010-08-18, 05:02 AM
sneaking/cutting in line.
this is worthy of SMITE on the spot :smallfurious:

On torture: sure it is evil. but what if a bad guy might have some info that will save many? well, too bad then that torture often DONT WORK. the poor guy on the rack will tell you WHATEVER you want to hear to make you stop.
Even if he have to make it up.
So if youre gonna torture someone, make sure they DO have the info you need before you bring out the pokers and the lube
:smallsmile:

just because I hate/love you guys:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v396/judgerdead/speech.jpg

Riffington
2010-08-18, 05:30 AM
I'm pretty sure that you don't have the definition right. It can be used for those things but 2,4 and 5. Are usually consensual.

What do you see as wrong with my definition?
You can certainly bring life into the world: if you know that A should be a [father/mother] but doesn't want to be, you can cause that to occur using rape. They may have excellent genes or parenting skills despite this lack of desire, making the overall event "useful"... but it's still evil.
You can likewise turn a girlfriend/boyfriend into a spouse using rape. It's been done millions of times before, and some of those relationships appear happy. Doesn't make it right.
And surely you've heard of people enjoying rape?


Also, can anyone justify torture but not "rape as a specific form of torture"?

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 05:57 AM
On torture: sure it is evil. but what if a bad guy might have some info that will save many? well, too bad then that torture often DONT WORK.

That's one reason, another common excuse for torture was "public punishment to deter crime"

Tolkien argued, in one of his essays, that while Orcs were "the fingers of Morgoth" they still fall within the rules, and thus, torturing orcs, even for "information that might save lives, like the location of the next orc raid" is not permissible. Though it was also mentioned that this rule was not always heeded.

Frozen_Feet
2010-08-18, 06:42 AM
a Evil guy has information you need, the information will save hundreds of lives if you can get it out of him within the day, the party casters didn't prepare/used up their magic for the day. Oh well guess those hundreads of people will have to die but be humble for the fact that a good person didn't think their lives were worth more than one evil dudes discomfort.


All these justifications are undermined by simple real life fact most people don't remember about torture:

As means of interrogation, it sucks.

If the threat of torture does not make a person tell the truth, actual torture won't either. A psychologically broken person will tell all sorts of things, in fact, everything he thinks his torturer wants to know... regardless of whether any of it is true. He will say anything, swear anything, if he just thinks it will net him even a momentary reprieve from pain.

If you can't get the truth out of the example's Evil Guy via cross-examination or any other, less violent manner, you aren't getting it out of him via torture, either. In this case, your torture of him is just inflicting suffering on a scapegoat under delusion of false hope - desperate, and irrational.

For a paladin, that'd be fall-worthy material right there. Exemplar of good and justice is not supposed to let his judgement be clouded to the point where he's ready to utilize such extreme means for the slightest chance of success.

Otherwise, I agree it's a relatively small black stone - not something that I'd deem out-of-character for a desperate Good person, nor would one occasion make any shift alignments. But no matter how understandable, or diluted by situation, it is, torture is still Evil.

EDIT: Oh damn, Sowrdsage'd. Well, that's what I get for not reading the whole thread through before posting.

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 07:16 AM
Otherwise, I agree it's a relatively small black stone - not something that I'd deem out-of-character for a desperate Good person, nor would one occasion make any shift alignments. But no matter how understandable, or diluted by situation, it is, torture is still Evil.

That's pretty much what Champions of Ruin says for evil acts in general "Even Good and Neutral characters may be driven to them from time to time"

"Intimidating torture" in FC2 is considered a (minor) Evil act and does no damage to the victim- but I'd say this counts as things like waterboarding, or holding a scorpion over somebody's eyes, rather than simply making Intimidate checks.

Whyareall
2010-08-18, 07:43 AM
http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs50/f/2009/288/d/d/Lady_Illithid_by_TheDjib.jpg

You're Welcome. :smallwink:

Just failed my SAN check. Thanks a lot.

Stompy
2010-08-18, 08:34 AM
http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs50/f/2009/288/d/d/Lady_Illithid_by_TheDjib.jpg

You're Welcome. :smallwink:


What does it say about me that I don't require brain bleach after looking at this?

*casts Detect Evil and looks at Kyuubi for 3 rounds, and then at Tiki Snakes for 3 rounds (for good measure)*

Snake-Aes
2010-08-18, 08:38 AM
Weee~eell... I also don't need the brain bleach, but it comes with the package of desensitization training at the Ashcroft-funded corps.

Riffington
2010-08-18, 09:08 AM
well, too bad then that torture often DONT WORK.


As means of interrogation, it sucks.


As a means of providing truthful information, torture is not useful, but as a means of generating information, it is excellent. You just need to be able to evaluate the truth of the information you receive.

In the real world, if you have such a method (laborious corroboration), you frequently didn't need the torture in the first place. In D&D, it's a different story: there are spells that will immediately reveal lies. Torture is therefore extremely effective/useful. Being more useful doesn't make it non-evil.

dsmiles
2010-08-18, 09:18 AM
As a means of providing truthful information, torture is not useful, but as a means of generating information, it is excellent. You just need to be able to evaluate the truth of the information you receive.

In the real world, if you have such a method (laborious corroboration), you frequently didn't need the torture in the first place. In D&D, it's a different story: there are spells that will immediately reveal lies. Torture is therefore extremely effective/useful. Being more useful doesn't make it non-evil.

Fun. But (mostly) evil.

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 09:27 AM
In D&D- a statement can be "truthful", and yet incorrect- so a person who knows his followers are likely to be captured and tortured, will give them large amounts of disinformation, and ensure that they believe it.

Thus, the fact that Detect Lies reveals that the statements are "truthful" does not mean that those statements are correct.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-08-18, 09:36 AM
Then why, do paladins "Fall for committing Evil acts"? It's not a case of their "underlying belief system changing", often- it's them believing that the act is "necessary in order to protect the innocent" and falling because, whether the act was necessary or not, it was evil.
Which is why Falling for committing Evil acts is in addition to Falling for changing your Alignment.

We've had this discussion before, and I have nothing new to say. Suffice it to say that "committing Evil acts" is an awkward shorthand for "committing acts that only an Evil person would do regularly" such as creating undead, torturing, etc.

And yes, torture is merely Not-Good in the abstract, but a Paladin falls for torture because of the rest of the Code:

Additionally, a paladinís code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.
Torturing information out of someone is likely dishonorable, but perhaps even a Paladin could get by with a 24 (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TwentyFour)-style scenario. But in my books, Paladins are held to a higher moral code for a reason.

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 09:43 AM
We've had this discussion before, and I have nothing new to say. Suffice it to say that "committing Evil acts" is an awkward shorthand for "committing acts that only an Evil person would do regularly" such as creating undead, torturing, etc.

Then what's wrong with calling them evil acts, as Fiendish Codex 2, BoVD, Champions of Ruin, and BoED, do?

Saying that "torture is not an evil act, but it is an act that only an evil person would do regularly" seems overcomplicated to me.

As I've pointed out before, it's not at all implausible for a person without the classic "Evil traits" to regularly torture people.

And there are a few people on this forum, who claim they would
"never harm an innocent" and "torture people horribly who deserve it" and boast that they are "the most moral people they know".

"Commit evil acts a lot and your alignment will be evil"-

even if you don't gain any other traits associated with "being an Evil person" such as willingness to "hurt, oppress, and kill innocents"

makes perfect sense to me.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-08-18, 09:56 AM
As I've pointed out before, it's not at all implausible for a person without the classic "Evil traits" to regularly torture people.
No, not really - and not without cause. At best, torturing the crap out of criminals puts you in about as dark a Neutral as you can get, and if you start enjoying it, well, you start getting into the "hurting, oppressing, and killing others" area.

The reason I resist calling things Good or Evil acts is because:
(1) It perpetuates the idea that Alignment is just a sum of past actions
(2) Few acts are really so cut-and-dry

Your precious Alignment Splatbooks make the second error all the time. IIRC, you cited on torture that Good people don't torture - but CG people will "rough up" bad guys on occasion. So what, now it's OK to use a little pain to extract information, but not too much? And why only Chaotic Good? It makes no sense within the context of Core Alignment.

Let's go through a couple "classic" Evil acts:

- Killing: all three Alignments kill. Good people even murder - where murder is "unlawful killing" because NG and CG people are willing to ignore the law to do what's right.

- Torture: Good probably won't do much torture out of respect for life & the dignity of sentient beings, but Neutrals will torture on behalf of their King (LN), or to save a friend of theirs (N, CN). Only Evil tortures because it's fun.

- Slavery: Good probably won't enslave people, but they might go for "armed parole" for notoriously Evil people wishing reform. LN enslave people all the time - but treat them without malice; N would probably go along with slavery though CN certainly would not. Evil, of course, loves to enslave.

There are very few actions which just are unquestionably Evil. Rape is a classic example because it's hard to think of an instance of rape which isn't founded on "hurting [and/or] oppressing" Innocents (i.e. people who don't deserve it). You could probably work up a scenario where a Neutral would rape (an exercise I won't stoop to attempt) but probably not any where a Good person would do it - since lack of consent = disrespecting the dignity of sentient beings.

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 10:02 AM
No, not really - and not without cause. At best, torturing the crap out of criminals puts you in about as dark a Neutral as you can get, and if you start enjoying it, well, you start getting into the "hurting, oppressing, and killing others" area.

Which doesn't actually say that you have to enjoy it to be evil, or which "others".

I think you mentioned that only a willingness to hurt, oppress, and kill, "Innocents" can be taken as proof of an evil alignment- which I dispute.


Your precious Alignment Splatbooks make the second error all the time. IIRC, you cited on torture that Good people don't torture - but CG people will "rough up" bad guys on occasion. So what, now it's OK to use a little pain to extract information, but not too much? And why only Chaotic Good? It makes no sense within the context of Core Alignment.

That didn't come from a splatbook, but from Easydamus. Which is heavily based on Core Alignment in 3rd ed, 2nd ed, and earlier editions:

http://easydamus.com/chaoticgood.html

Oracle_Hunter
2010-08-18, 10:06 AM
That didn't come from a splatbook, but from Easydamus. Which is heavily based on Core Alignment in 3rd ed, 2nd ed, and earlier editions:

http://easydamus.com/chaoticgood.html
It's still wrong and unfounded. Using it as a source does little to help the argument.

I'm not going to rehash my arguments again. Hopefully my examples have provided a little light this time around.

TheVileVillain
2010-08-18, 10:11 AM
The idea that torture is evil is a modern perception which should not be carried into a medieval setting. In the time period most campaign settings are based off of it was considered an acceptable (and even necessary) means of gathering information and getting confessions, It was not even considered dishonorable. In a world with magic there are alternative means of conducting investigations, so perhaps the profession would be somewhat frowned upon, but since most people don't have access to magic even that is unlikely.

I personally agree that torture is evil, but in DnD it should not be treated as such.

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 10:12 AM
- Torture: Good probably won't do much torture out of respect for life & the dignity of sentient beings, but Neutrals will torture on behalf of their King (LN), or to save a friend of theirs (N, CN). Only Evil tortures because it's fun.

As I've said, Good and Neutral people can do evil things- that doesn't suddenly make those evil things Not Evil. A Neutral person may torture- but that doesn't mean torture is not evil- it simply means that Neutral people will sometimes do evil things as well as neutral.


The idea that torture is evil is a modern perception which should not be carried into a medieval setting.

D&D is not a normal medieval setting. It has magic, it has much more equality between the sexes, etc. And, a more authentic medieval setting, could be LE- it doesn't have to be assumed to be Neutral.

Just because something was accepted in early medieval times, doesn't mean it has to be considered acceptable in Good-aligned D&D societies.

TheVileVillain
2010-08-18, 10:26 AM
I personally Agree that Torture is Evil, but in a system where morality is quite literally objective itself, you have to be objective in your rulings as a DM. You can't let your personal philosophies dictate the morality scale of an entire world.

Also note that whiled DnD is vastly different from normal medieval times, your player's likely aren't joining up to get involved in modern philosophical debates about torture every time the topic gets brought up (maybe they are, I don't know them).

When you declare something as evil, it is. A good person that regularly engages in torture (and good people did in medieval times) will show up as evil under a detect evil spell and be harmed by a smite good. You are taking away the player's ability to develop his/her own moral interpretation on the matter. That limits roleplay.

Snake-Aes
2010-08-18, 10:38 AM
I personally Agree that Torture is Evil, but in a system where morality is quite literally objective itself, you have to be objective in your rulings as a DM. You can't let your personal philosophies dictate the morality scale of an entire world. You can, actually, but it can only happen outside the game world. We as players can discuss whether a deed was evil or not, but once it is stabilished, any similar situation will have a similar alignment, which is not subject to interpretation in-game.

awa
2010-08-18, 10:56 AM
it always drive me crazy when people use the the argument that it was okay in midevil times so therefore dnd morality should accept it as well dungeons and dragons assumes a modern western morality. You have multiple faiths living in harmony, large amount of gender equality, different species getting along just dandy much less different shades of human.

people bathe literacy is the default. people actively and publicly use magic with out being burned at the stake. dnd is nothing remotely like a midevil setting.

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 10:57 AM
I When you declare something as evil, it is. A good person that regularly engages in torture (and good people did in medieval times) will show up as evil under a detect evil spell and be harmed by a smite good. You are taking away the player's ability to develop his/her own moral interpretation on the matter. That limits roleplay.

"Good" by medieval standards, maybe, but not by D&D standards.

A person might be a loving husband, caring father, loyal friend, etc, and still be Evil- Savage Species points this out.

If you use Heroes of Horror as well, you can make a case that regularly committing minor evil acts, but maintaining an overall good outlook and goals- such as being a dread necromancer and animating undead, but otherwise being a really nice, heroic guy- can mean a Neutral rather than an Evil alignment.

I would apply this to the RAW Evil act of Rebuking/Commanding undead. A LN cleric of Wee Jas, who cannot choose to turn undead, but only rebuke them, can still stay LN, since it's only a very minor evil act (it isn't even mentioned, in the Corrupt Act list in FC2), and overall good behaviour can make up for it.

Major evil acts though, committed regularly, make for an Evil character.

dsmiles
2010-08-18, 11:03 AM
Major evil acts though, committed regularly, make for an Evil character.

And there is nothing wrong with that. So there! :smalltongue:

Avilan the Grey
2010-08-18, 11:46 AM
I don't really see the point of arguing things like "24 hours before the nuke blows".

Torture is ALWAYS Evil. However, during extreme circumstances it is believable, from a role-playing perspective that a Good character will choose to do it, for the greater good. This still means he is crossing a line.

dsmiles
2010-08-18, 11:54 AM
I don't really see the point of arguing things like "24 hours before the nuke blows".

Torture is ALWAYS Evil. However, during extreme circumstances it is believable, from a role-playing perspective that a Good character will choose to do it, for the greater good. This still means he is crossing a line.

This is not the line you are looking for. You can go about your business. Move along.

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 12:04 PM
And there is nothing wrong with that. So there! :smalltongue:

Unless you define "evil act" as "act that harms the innocent" or believe that nobody unwilling to harm the innocent can be Evil, no matter how vile their acts against the "not innocent".

Personally though, I think the PHB descriptions are, as they themselves state, guidelines.

And that acts can be evil even if the victim is "not innocent".

dsmiles
2010-08-18, 12:08 PM
Unless you define "evil act" as "act that harms the innocent" or believe that nobody unwilling to harm the innocent can be Evil, no matter how vile their acts against the "not innocent".

Personally though, I think the PHB descriptions are, as they themselves state, guidelines.

And that acts can be evil even if the victim is "not innocent".

Evil strokes for evil folks, that's what they say!
Anyway, what's wrong with playing an evil character (unless, of course, you're not mature enough to responsibly play an evil character [e.g. "evil is cool"])?

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 12:16 PM
Nothing- but when people say things like:

"My LG hero, now that he rules a city, orders the worst criminals tortured to death, in order to deter the vilest crimes. Having evil people tortured as punishment is a non-evil act"

I wince.

Similarly, if someone's chosen to play an Evil antihero who's dedicated his life to protecting the innocent and punishing (horribly) the guilty, I find the idea that such a character is actually Neutral, and cannot ever be Evil, to be a bit odd.

Of course, if people want to play a more traditionally Evil person, that's fine to if the other players and DM are OK with it.

Frozen_Feet
2010-08-18, 12:22 PM
As a means of providing truthful information, torture is not useful, but as a means of generating information, it is excellent. You just need to be able to evaluate the truth of the information you receive.

In the real world, if you have such a method (laborious corroboration), you frequently didn't need the torture in the first place. In D&D, it's a different story: there are spells that will immediately reveal lies. Torture is therefore extremely effective/useful. Being more useful doesn't make it non-evil.

Great many of those spells obviate any need for torture in the first place. Simple cross-examination will yield equally good results. Torture, as in causing psychological breakdown in a person through extensive physical or mental suffering, remains as an extreme of questionable justification.

Also, if we allow D&D style magic in the mix, chances are you could've used different spells to defuse the situation that obviate any need for interrogation in any form. If you've prepared spells for squeezing truth out of a tortured person, what does it tell of you? Wouldn't you've been better served by spells that don't require co-operation, willing or unwilling, of any kind?



There are very few actions which just are unquestionably Evil....
... alternatively, many deeds (like those you listed) are unquestionably evil, and Good people just participate in them from time to time for variety of reasons, such as not having a choice in the matter.

I think it's fallacious to think that few evil deeds override a life of Good - a Good person, by definition, engages in good acts, and generally has good intentions. If his evil acts dwarf in comparison to his good ones, he will ping Good just as much as a person who's not done evil.

Evil is as much absence of good as it's actually doing evil. If you never willingly do good, it doesn't take world-shattering villainy to chuck you into the deep end of the alignment pool. All it might mean is that it could take much less good acts to take you back to shallower waters.

(Note that I still don't view alignment as zero-sum game. As I interprete it, all good deeds have their reward, and all bad ones have their punishment. A redeemed Assassin might ping as Lawful Good on his olden days, but he'll still spend a good time in Hell before seeing even a glimpse of better realms.)

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 12:28 PM
(Note that I still don't view alignment as zero-sum game. As I interprete it, all good deeds have their reward, and all bad ones have their punishment. A redeemed Assassin might ping as Lawful Good on his olden days, but he'll still spend a good time in Hell before seeing even a glimpse of better realms.)

The closest thing to that at the moment, is FC2's Hellbred rules- if the assassin is redeemed, but has never fully atoned for all of the many evil acts he's done in the past, but has been trying, and died without having atoned for them, he will spend time as a Hellbred- and if he does exceptionally well then, his soul at his second death will go to whatever plane is appropriate.

It is a bit harsh though- given that failure, even if you tried hard, the second time round, leads to eternity in Baator.

Your idea of a character spending a limited duration, more as a Purgatory, does seem a bit better even if it's not RAW.



Evil is as much absence of good as it's actually doing evil. If you never willingly do good, it doesn't take world-shattering villainy to chuck you into the deep end of the alignment pool. All it might mean is that it could take much less good acts to take you back to shallower waters.

This is what I regard many of the "Evil, but not deserving of being attacked by adventurers" evil characters mentioned in the Eberron Campaign Setting discussion of alignment, as being. A lot of evil characters will be jerks and bullies, rather than murderers.

enigmatime
2010-08-18, 12:37 PM
Killing anything innocent (children, furry animals, armodillos, babies, and what not), going back in time via Chronomancy and killing random people, planting explosives in someones backpack, and scarring children for life. That is what I think would be considered evil.

dsmiles
2010-08-18, 12:38 PM
Nothing- but when people say things like:

"My LG hero, now that he rules a city, orders the worst criminals tortured to death, in order to deter the vilest crimes. Having evil people tortured as punishment is a non-evil act"

I wince.
Failed paladin is fail.

Similarly, if someone's chosen to play an Evil antihero who's dedicated his life to protecting the innocent and punishing (horribly) the guilty, I find the idea that such a character is actually Neutral, and cannot ever be Evil, to be a bit odd.
Ok. You got me there. Although, I've never played the anti-hero type.

Of course, if people want to play a more traditionally Evil person, that's fine to if the other players and DM are OK with it.
I'm old, so traditional evil is my style. Evil telepath is evil. (My last 3.5e character. I almost mourn his loss.)

Frozen_Feet
2010-08-18, 12:44 PM
One thing that's good (har har) to remember: Good and Evil aren't just two nations warring against each other. It's not okay for Good people to do all the same things to Evil that Evil is ready to inflict upon the Good.

In Middle-Earth terms: just because orcs would neglect and torture a human prisoner, doesn't mean humans should neglect and torture an orc prisoner - doing so means the humans are no better than the orcs.

After all, good is about such unknown little things as, god forbid, mercy and forgiveness.

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 12:52 PM
Yup.

Tolkien actually said that in one of his essays- that torturing orcs for info is not OK behaviour, nor is breaking an agreement to, say, give quarter.

So if you had a defeated squad of orcs, and said "drop weapons and we'll spare your lives" and they did, and you killed them, that would be inappropriate behaviour.

The phrase used was "They may be the fingers of Morgoth, but they are still within the Law"



After all, good is about such unknown little things as, god forbid, mercy and forgiveness.

Sadly, the only D&D book that puts this front and center, is the BoED, which has its own set of flaws. Which I tend to forgive, primarily because of this.

PHB has "Alhandra the paladin fights evil without mercy" as a bit for people to cite when they say showing no mercy to an evil being, even when it's asked for, is OK.

Jayabalard
2010-08-18, 01:03 PM
- Killing: all three Alignments kill. Good people even murder - where murder is "unlawful killing" because NG and CG people are willing to ignore the law to do what's right.Generally "murder" is a more narrow subset than just "unlawful killing". For example: manslaughter is also "unlawful killing" but isn't murder.


Rape is a classic example because it's hard to think of an instance of rape which isn't founded on "hurting [and/or] oppressing" Innocents (i.e. people who don't deserve it). You could probably work up a scenario where a Neutral would rape (an exercise I won't stoop to attempt) but probably not any where a Good person would do it - since lack of consent = disrespecting the dignity of sentient beings.Personally, this seems inconsistent with your earlier statements about killing and torture; pretty much any argument that gets used to justify "torture isn't always evil" can be used to justify "rape isn't always evil.

Don't get me wrong, I think that rape is always evil; I just think that torture is always evil for the same reasons.

nyarlathotep
2010-08-18, 01:04 PM
The idea that torture is evil is a modern perception which should not be carried into a medieval setting. In the time period most campaign settings are based off of it was considered an acceptable (and even necessary) means of gathering information and getting confessions, It was not even considered dishonorable. In a world with magic there are alternative means of conducting investigations, so perhaps the profession would be somewhat frowned upon, but since most people don't have access to magic even that is unlikely.

I personally agree that torture is evil, but in DnD it should not be treated as such.

Here's the problem with that assumption. Slavery is always considered evil in D&D every single splatbook dealing with it making that assumption; yet slavery was widespread and accepted in medieval Europe. Additionally in D&D it is usually assumed that women have rights equal to those of men.

Why is it that torture is the one thing except from this modernization?

Oracle_Hunter
2010-08-18, 01:07 PM
... alternatively, many deeds (like those you listed) are unquestionably evil, and Good people just participate in them from time to time for variety of reasons, such as not having a choice in the matter.

I think it's fallacious to think that few evil deeds override a life of Good - a Good person, by definition, engages in good acts, and generally has good intentions. If his evil acts dwarf in comparison to his good ones, he will ping Good just as much as a person who's not done evil.
What's the purpose of calling an act "good" or "evil" if it can be done by any character with any Alignment without raising an eyebrow?

The Paladin excepted, this smacks of labeling without a purpose - much like categorizing characters as "Lawful Good but leaning Neutral" when they're really just Lawful Neutral characters. And acting like doing "evil" acts repeatedly is what finally turns you Evil perpetuates the myth that Alignment is the sum of your actions - a pernicious perception that I hate more every time I see it brought up in an Alignment thread.

Far better to ask "would a character of this Alignment have done this particular act in this situation" - that way, at least, the question of Alignment is firmly on the character and not on an action considered in a vacuum.

@Murder - No, murder is simply unlawful killing. At most, it's unlawful killing that has been planned out ("malice aforethought") which is something Good characters do all the time. If I thought it would help, I'd quote either a legal or a dictionary definition, but I know it won't :smallsigh:

In any case "murder" isn't defined within the Alignment system as being a characteristic of any particular Alignment. Killing Innocents is (Evil), but you may note that people IRL are put away for the murder of very bad men all the time. AFAIK the only place in the US where a valid defense to murder could be " he needed killin' " was Texas, and that hasn't been true since at least the 1950's :smalltongue:

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 01:08 PM
Here's the problem with that assumption. Slavery is always considered evil in D&D every single splatbook dealing with it making that assumption; yet slavery was widespread and accepted in medieval Europe. Additionally in D&D it is usually assumed that women have rights equal to those of men.

Why is it that torture is the one thing except from this modernization?

Especially given that the one splatbook that explicitly states "it is evil" rather than "it should be regarded as an evil by good characters" also calls torture out as evil too.

BoED says "it is evil"
Cityscape says "it should be regarded as an evil by good characters"


And acting like doing "evil" acts repeatedly is what finally turns you Evil perpetuates the myth that Alignment is the sum of your actions - a pernicious perception that I hate more every time I see it brought up in an Alignment thread.

it's not just the sum of actions- personality can play a part in alignment.

However, for PCs who began as neutral, the actions do provide more of a guideline than the fact that the player says "my character would never harm an innocent".

And possibly even for PCs who began as Good.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-08-18, 01:21 PM
it's not just the sum of actions- personality can play a part in alignment.

However, for PCs who began as neutral, the actions do provide more of a guideline than the fact that the player says "my character would never harm an innocent".

And possibly even for PCs who began as Good.
Good lord! Read the definition!

A creatureís general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment.
Nowhere do I see "a creature's actions as influenced by their personality determine its Alignment." Your definition is bass-ackward!

Actions do provide guidance to the DM for the true Alignment of a PC, but that guidance is only helpful for the DM because it is his job (pre-4e) to make sure everyone is RPing their Alignment correctly. That's why he can impose "Alignment shifts" on players who are RPing Alignments different from the one written on their character sheet. Hell, people's Alignments can even change over time, but that's because their "general moral and personal attitudes" change, not because they killed their 1000th baby!

Furthermore, none of this applies to NPCs. Why? Because the DM knows the true Alignment of every NPCS. If the DM decides an NPC had an epithany, he can change that Alignment before the NPC undertakes a single additional action. He could do this to PCs too, if he wanted, but it is generally considered rude to tell a Player how to play their character; this is why his role is limited to altering the Alignment written on character sheets when it is relevant to game mechanics.

Jayabalard
2010-08-18, 01:31 PM
@Murder - No, murder is simply unlawful killing. Nope, there are types of unlawful killings that aren't murder; nor is it even just about intent. Murder is not that simple.

Personally, I'd argue that good people don't go around murdering others all the time; if you have people who are labeled good who are doing so, they're mislabeled.


Far better to ask "would a character of this Alignment have done this particular act in this situation" That's a terrible way of looking at it; alignment does not control what the character does in any way. Far better to ask "would this character have done this particular act in this situation" and if there's enough of a trend start adjusting the alignment of the character so that it reflects the personality correctly.

It's not that good people doing evil deeds doesn't raise an eyebrow... but "raise an eyebrow" doesn't mean that it's not appropriate deed for that character. Sometimes good people do terrible things and sometimes (not always) the doing of those terrible things bring about a shift toward evil as that character changes his self perception and attitudes to match the deeds.

Doug Lampert
2010-08-18, 01:44 PM
All these justifications are undermined by simple real life fact most people don't remember about torture:

As means of interrogation, it sucks.

If the threat of torture does not make a person tell the truth, actual torture won't either. A psychologically broken person will tell all sorts of things, in fact, everything he thinks his torturer wants to know... regardless of whether any of it is true. He will say anything, swear anything, if he just thinks it will net him even a momentary reprieve from pain.


I know 10 things out of 20 I want to know. I torture you till you tell me everything I want to know and NONE of it is something I know to be a lie.

I don't tell you what I do and don't know. (Don't answer the victim's questions is damn near rule one anyway.) The only practical way to end the torture is to tell the truth. You've ADMITTED you'll tell me whatever you think will end the torture.

So torture gets out the truth BY YOUR REASONING.

All it takes is a way to corroborate a subset of the data, which is actually the EXPECTED situation in the real world since you're rarely in total ignorance.

Even in the "Must find the hidden bomb" setup, where I have NO IDEA where the bomb is, torture still works fine. I just tell you "this keeps up till we actually FIND and disarm the bomb, I have a radio to contact the search teams, but every lie prolongs the agony and if we don't find it we see how long we can keep you alive.

And what'ya know, even in this WORST CASE. Where I have zero other information to check against anyone who will do whatever he thinks it will take to end the torture will tell me what I want to know.

Claims that torture can't work are nonsensical, they're based on a belief that I'm asking what the victem had for breakfast six weeks ago and hence can't CHECK the information.

Once you've conceeded that anyone will say what it takes to end the torture you've also conceeded the utilitarian argument and are forced to fall back on non-utilitarian grounds to argue against torture.

To me this indicates that utilitarianism is flawed.

To lots of utilitarianists it seems to indicate that toturers are all REQUIRED to be idiots who can't think to double check their results. Because they don't want to conceed that utilitarianism can lead to horrible things if aplied without some sort of non-utilitarian basis.

kyoryu
2010-08-18, 01:46 PM
Evil: Infringing upon the rights of others, except in a manner necessary to protect either your rights, or the rights of others.

Randomly punching someone in the nose is an evil act (pretty minor evil, but still evil). Punching someone in the nose so that they'll stop attacking Granny is not an evil act.

Killing someone for stealing Granny's purse is arguably evil - as the infringement of their rights goes well beyond the infringement that they caused. I'd entertain exceptions if the killer thought they were still in physical danger.

Torture, in general, is evil. If you *know* somebody *absolutely* is part of a bomb threat or the like, and the torture is to get information to save lives, then I'd *consider* allowing it as non-evil, as you are infringing upon their rights in order to prevent them from infringing upon the rights of others en masse. However, it's the "know absolutely" part that makes this one very difficult. And, if a character gleefully went about this and was looking for ways to justify it, I would consider that to be evidence of evil.

Lord Vampyre
2010-08-18, 01:48 PM
What actions, in the context of D&D, do you think are absolutely, undeniably, evil? I mean, seriously, if torture, raising up unholy abominations, and killing for money aren't enough, what will it take for you to admit beyond the shadow of a doubt that the line has been crossed?

Hmm. You know I have to admit that there isn't a lot that I consider intrinsically evil.

Yes, I hold that killing someone simply for profit is evil. However, not all Assassins kill for money. A number of them kill for a cause, which depending on which side of the cause you are on will determine ones view of its morality. For instance, if someone assassinates an evil dictator, I probably wouldn't considered him evil. But then we've already defined the dictator to be evil, showing our current bias on the situation.

Necromancy, I don't tend to hold to be intrinsically evil either. Although raising an army or undead, which is what the stereotypical necromancer does I do hold to be evil. But many of the spells in the school of necromancy have nothing to do with the actual creation of undead.

I guess my real problem comes from constantly viewing things from the point of view of the villain. Which is due to the fact that I generally find myself running the game. Sense I know my villains particular motivations, I often find myself sympathizing with him. Yes, in the end he was created to be defeated the heroics of the players, but I just can't help thinking that he was really just misunderstood. :smallwink:

Seriously though, no matter the argument we have to distinguish good and evil based upon a particular moral code. Therefore I still see murder, the creation of undead, desecrating sacred sites (no matter the religion), and corruption of the innocent to be evil.

Yes, my family often gives me a bad time for liking a well thought out villain, but as I once heard on Disney and have repeated ever since, "Without the villain, you don't have much of a story." :smallsmile:

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 01:48 PM
It's not that good people doing evil deeds doesn't raise an eyebrow... but "raise an eyebrow" doesn't mean that it's not appropriate deed for that character. Sometimes good people do terrible things and sometimes (not always) the doing of those terrible things bring about a shift toward evil as that character changes his self perception and attitudes to match the deeds.

And sometimes, even in the case of NPC paladins, that self-perception doesn't change at all- Michael Ambrose in Tome of Magic, a LE fallen paladin, is one example- he still believes himself to be a good guy, and that the deeds he did were not evil but necessary.

From the DMG:


"Alignments aren't commitments, except in specific cases (such as for paladins and clerics). Player characters have free will, and their actions often dictate a change of alignment"

If a character's "general moral and personal attitudes" have changed little, at least in the core "attitude to the innocent" but their actions have changed a great deal, then actions, especially evil ones, may take precedence.

That's why I like Champions of Ruin- since, because alignment is more based on actions (especially evil actions) there, evil characters can be far more nuanced.

Doug Lampert
2010-08-18, 01:49 PM
I think I read something in a 3.5 book (or maybe magazine) that said, 'even creating a mindless undead requires the forceful binding of a soul to perform the duty, which is why animate dead spells have a [evil] descriptor.'
That animate dead doesn't work on chairs might help back this line up, I dunno...

That animate dead stops even True Resurection from bringing the person back until you've destroyed the undead created would also tend to back it up.

It obviously does SOMETHING involving the dead creature's soul or essence. The only argument against this is that animate dead doesn't explicitely not work anymore after a reincarnate or true resurect is used to bring someone back without the body.

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 01:57 PM
A character's personality, contains their "general moral and ethical attitudes"

However, if somebody won't "harm the innocent" but will "hurt, oppress, and kill the not innocent"- to a point way, way beyond what's reasonable for a Good or Neutral character, they're Evil, even if they still won't "harm the innocent".

Torturing everybody guilty of what would normally be capital crimes in an average D&D world to death, slowly, horribly, publically, to "deter crime, thus protecting the innocent" falls under this IMO.

Frozen_Feet
2010-08-18, 02:08 PM
What's the purpose of calling an act "good" or "evil" if it can be done by any character with any Alignment without raising an eyebrow?

The Paladin excepted, this smacks of labeling without a purpose - much like categorizing characters as "Lawful Good but leaning Neutral" when they're really just Lawful Neutral characters.

Pardon me? Did you notice what I wrote in the parentheses? Namely, this:
Note that I still don't view alignment as zero-sum game. As I interprete it, all good deeds have their reward, and all bad ones have their punishment.

I very well think that all actions have consequences, and games I lead tend to reflect that. Just because a black stone isn't enough to outweigh all your white ones, doesn't mean it isn't there, or goes unnoticed.

It damn well has a purpose in tracking where a character stands in the game world. Alignment and alignment changes are not be-all-end-all of morality or causality.


Far better to ask "would a character of this Alignment have done this particular act in this situation" - that way, at least, the question of Alignment is firmly on the character and not on an action considered in a vacuum.
Alignment is part of a character's personality, but it's not be-all-end-all descriptor.

And sometimes, characteristics of a person contradict each other, to the point where it might require for some parts to be redefined and re-evaluated anew.

As such, I think the correct question is "What would this character do?". For example, Lawful Good person can be lazy, and it's possible for his sloth to override his desire to be Lawful or Good. If his laziness persists and grows to the point where it actively prevents him from acting in a good or lawful way, it's a good reason to check if you can still call him Lawful or Good.

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 02:18 PM
A character may have Lawful and Chaotic traits. In fact, given that the Law-Chaos axis is famous for being somewhat blurry, they will probably have traits from both.

Just because someone is Lawful Good, doesn't mean they can't have Chaotic traits.

And some traits may not be tied to any alignment (like laziness, as has been mentioned) yet affect it if they grow unusually strong or weak.

Frozen_Feet
2010-08-18, 02:39 PM
I know 10 things out of 20 I want to know. I torture you till you tell me everything I want to know and NONE of it is something I know to be a lie.

I don't tell you what I do and don't know. (Don't answer the victim's questions is damn near rule one anyway.) The only practical way to end the torture is to tell the truth. You've ADMITTED you'll tell me whatever you think will end the torture.

So torture gets out the truth BY YOUR REASONING.

All it takes is a way to corroborate a subset of the data, which is actually the EXPECTED situation in the real world since you're rarely in total ignorance.

Even in the "Must find the hidden bomb" setup, where I have NO IDEA where the bomb is, torture still works fine. I just tell you "this keeps up till we actually FIND and disarm the bomb, I have a radio to contact the search teams, but every lie prolongs the agony and if we don't find it we see how long we can keep you alive.

And what'ya know, even in this WORST CASE. Where I have zero other information to check against anyone who will do whatever he thinks it will take to end the torture will tell me what I want to know.

Claims that torture can't work are nonsensical, they're based on a belief that I'm asking what the victem had for breakfast six weeks ago and hence can't CHECK the information.

Once you've conceeded that anyone will say what it takes to end the torture you've also conceeded the utilitarian argument and are forced to fall back on non-utilitarian grounds to argue against torture.

To me this indicates that utilitarianism is flawed.

To lots of utilitarianists it seems to indicate that toturers are all REQUIRED to be idiots who can't think to double check their results. Because they don't want to conceed that utilitarianism can lead to horrible things if aplied without some sort of non-utilitarian basis.

You seem to have missed out a rather important part. Namely, this:
If the threat of torture does not make a person tell the truth, actual torture won't either.

If someone is prepared to face torture instead of opening up, they damn will. All they say will just be an attempt to stall you. If they aren't prepared for that, intimidation will be enough to get everything useful out of them. In either case, torture is waste of time.

Claims that torture is ineffective are not based on some moral network, they're based on how human psyche works. If a person has certain treshold of determination to not tell something, he won't. He will grovel and plead, but that's it. What you get out of a broken person is pandering, utter nonsense that they spout out in hopes of stopping the torture for even a moment. They hope that while you're busy listening, or double-checking the information they give you, you will leave them alone. A psychologically broken person becomes increasingly unrealiable and incoherent source of information, as what's left of their mental faculties is focused on pleasing the torturer. They will develop fake memories and become convinced the lies they tell you are, in fact, the truth.

If the bomb man wants that bomb to blow up, and had psychologically prepared to suffer or die for it already, you won't get anything useful out of him via torture. You'll just be breaking a person while clinging on to false hope.

I won't respond to your arguments towards utilitarianism, because I don't actually know darn thing about that.

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 02:44 PM
Mercedes Lackey's Arrow's Fall novel did suggest a broken person might tell truthful things- but by that point, hopefully they will have told so many lies, with such creativity, that their captors won't know the truth when they hear it.

That was fiction though.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-08-18, 03:15 PM
Pardon me? Did you notice what I wrote in the parentheses?
Yes, I did, but that doesn't mean that casting Alignment in such a light doesn't cause more confusion than clarity to others who read it. I thought it would have gone without saying that such was my point, but I guess I should have been clearer.

@Jayabalard - I would be delighted to hear more about your definition of murder. Please cite your sources.

EDIT: Regarding OH's Alignment Rubric

Would a character of this Alignment have done this particular act in this situation.
This is not a prescriptive approach, per se - it doesn't tell you what a character must do, but rather what they would not do.

Example of Application
The clear example is murderin' Innocents - Evil people do this; Good people never do this intentionally; Neutral people don't do it without good reason.

If Character X murders an Innocent for no reason, OH's Alignment Rubric says that a Good person would not have done it, nor would a Neutral person. By elimination, Character X must be Evil.

Now, if Character X murders an Innocent to save His Good Friend, OH's Alignment Rubric says that a Good person would not have done it, but either a Neutral or an Evil person would have. The Rubric is can say no more than that.

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 03:41 PM
@Jayabalard - I would be delighted to hear more about your definition of murder. Please cite sources.

Manslaughter is an example of unlawful killing that isn't murder.

Conversely, if you consider "murder" in the D&D sense, to be at least partly a moral issue as well as a legal issue, then people who kill all elves in a kingdom because the king has passed a law, and proclaimed it, saying all elves are to be killed on sight, then these people might be morally murderers, even if not legally.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-08-18, 03:50 PM
Manslaughter is an example of unlawful killing that isn't murder.

Conversely, if you consider "murder" in the D&D sense, to be at least partly a moral issue as well as a legal issue, then people who kill all elves in a kingdom because the king has passed a law, and proclaimed it, saying all elves are to be killed on sight, then these people might be morally murderers, even if not legally.
I thought we were talking about Alignment, not morality :smallconfused:

As I said before, murder is, at its base, unlawful killing. Turns out there are a lot of other forms of unlawful killing but that's neither here nor there in terms of Alignment - manslaughter being a form of "accidental" killing, and AFAIK you need to make a decision before something has Alignment consequences.

Murder then - if you wish to be technical - is the taking of a life "with malice aforethought," and presumably without the sanction of an appropriate legal authority.

As I said in my original post, even this definition of murder catches activities routinely performed by NG and CG individuals.

I'm eager to hear of a definition of murder which doesn't :smallamused:

hamishspence
2010-08-18, 03:58 PM
As I said in my original post, even this definition of murder catches activities routinely performed by NG and CG individuals.

I'm eager to hear of a definition of murder which doesn't :smallamused:

CG and NG individuals routinely commit murder?

http://easydamus.com/chaoticgood.html
The Ten Chaotic Good Commandments
A list of Ten Commandments for a chaotic good religion may look like this:

1. You shall lie in the pursuit of goodness.

2. You shall not harm the innocent.

3. You shall not murder.

4. You shall help the needy.

5. You shall honor those who promote freedom and goodness.

6. You shall break the law in pursuit of goodness.

7. You shall not betray others.

8. You shall avenge the acts of evil-doers and enemies of freedom.

9. You shall not place duty above personal desire to do good.

10. You shall seek unlimited good for others and freedom in society.

http://easydamus.com/neutralgood.html
The Ten Neutral Good Commandments
A list of Ten Commandments for a neutral good religion may look like this:

1. You shall lie only to evil-doers.

2. You shall not harm the innocent.

3. You shall not murder.

4. You shall help the needy.

5. You shall honor those who promote goodness.

6. You shall follow the law unless breaking the law results in more good.

7. You shall not betray others.

8. You shall bring evil-doers to justice.

9. You shall steal only to promote goodness.

10. You shall seek unlimited good for others.

May not be 3.5 alignment exactly- but it's heavily based on it as well as previous editions. And both state "Will kill only in self-defense or defense of others".



The clear example is murderin' Innocents - Evil people do this; Good people never do this intentionally; Neutral people don't do it without good reason.

If Character X murders an Innocent for no reason, OH's Alignment Rubric says that a Good person would not have done it, nor would a Neutral person. By elimination, Character X must be Evil.

Now, if Character X murders an Innocent to save His Good Friend, OH's Alignment Rubric says that a Good person would not have done it, but either a Neutral or an Evil person would have. The Rubric is can say no more than that.

And what happens when the DM and the player have a different definition of an Innocent?

CG Paladin of Freedom casts Detect Evil. Person pings strongly. They are a CN cleric of a a CE god (or a LN cleric of a LE god) The player concludes they are "not an innocent- and need killin'" Is this a case of the character never having been CG in the first place, or a case of the player being led astray by the assumption that people who detect as strongly evil are "not innocents" so it's OK for CG characters to murder them?

Simpler to stick with "Murder in general is an evil act" and make sure the players know beforehand. Especially given how many books (BoVD, BoED, FC2) make it clear that this is how it works.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-08-18, 04:55 PM
May not be 3.5 alignment exactly- but it's heavily based on it as well as previous editions. And both state "Will kill only in self-defense or defense of others".
Easydamus continues to be an invalid source. They're piecemeal interpretations of the Nine Alignment System - and full of holes and unsuported claims to boot.

As for "self-defense or the defense of others" - does it really count as self-defense when you invade the local thieves' guild to take down their leader?

I'll tell you this much - IRL, that counts as murder. In D&D this sort of Alignment definition obscures more than it clarifies - as is often the case with Easydamus.


And what happens when the DM and the player have a different definition of an Innocent?

CG Paladin of Freedom casts Detect Evil. Person pings strongly. They are a CN cleric of a a CE god (or a LN cleric of a LE god) The player concludes they are "not an innocent- and need killin'" Is this a case of the character never having been CG in the first place, or a case of the player being led astray by the assumption that people who detect as strongly evil are "not innocents" so it's OK for CG characters to murder them?

Simpler to stick with "Murder in general is an evil act" and make sure the players know beforehand. Especially given how many books (BoVD, BoED, FC2) make it clear that this is how it works.
Hardly. You've turned the question from "is this an Innocent" (a question of objective fact, not subjective player belief) to "Mother May I murder today?" :smalltongue:

In addition, the Alignment splatbooks are as bad as Easydamus, if not worse. I'd be happy to work with an argument you at least based on the Core Alignment definitions.

Again, I have spent far too much time arguing minuate. I've made my point and barring a novel definition of murder which Good people cannot do, I hopefully won't feel drawn to comment on these matters again.

Avilan the Grey
2010-08-18, 06:01 PM
Here's the problem with that assumption. Slavery is always considered evil in D&D every single splatbook dealing with it making that assumption...

Plus, D&D is NOT a medieval setting. The fact that females can hold any profession is proof of that by itself.

Riffington
2010-08-18, 10:08 PM
If someone is prepared to face torture instead of opening up, they damn will. All they say will just be an attempt to stall you. If they aren't prepared for that, intimidation will be enough to get everything useful out of them. In either case, torture is waste of time.
Do you by chance have some studies to show this? Because it certainly appears that a variety of historical (and current) organizations have claimed to receive accurate information from prisoners after torture, which they did not receive in the first few minutes. Now, it's theoretically possible that those torturers were lying in order to justify their own paychecks, received all relevant information within an hour, and then proceeded to pretend to interrogate the prisoners for days/weeks. But do you have any data to suggest this is what actually occurs?





Claims that torture is ineffective are not based on some moral network, they're based on how human psyche works. If a person has certain treshold of determination to not tell something, he won't. He will grovel and plead, but that's it.

A lot of very determined and honorable people have broken under torture, giving credible information or taking actions to assist their captors. One of the most prominent anti-torture politicians alive admits that he broke under torture twice, revealing classified information. He is nevertheless respected for his strength, dedication, and perseverance.

There may be a threshold of dedication beyond which a man cannot be broken, but if so, the majority of people are unable to reach that threshold. Even if you could harden your organization against torture (and many organizations have tried, with varying degrees of partial success), this imposes significant costs. You have to turn away most recruits. Many others will leave because of the arduous nature of the simulated torture sessions. Many hours are spent on the process. If I could torture a few people to force an enemy organization to harden itself against torture, it'd be well worth it (from a practical point of view, not a moral one).



What you get out of a broken person is pandering, utter nonsense that they spout out in hopes of stopping the torture for even a moment. They hope that while you're busy listening, or double-checking the information they give you, you will leave them alone.
Sometimes, but fortunately Zone of Truth (level 2 spell) fixes this.
Dominate Person can do this without torture, but it's a level 5 spell.

hamishspence
2010-08-19, 02:42 AM
As for "self-defense or the defense of others" - does it really count as self-defense when you invade the local thieves' guild to take down their leader?

That's the thing- is this normal behaviour for CG types? Or generally, do even CG adventurers work with the sanction of the law?

Unless the people they are dealing with are outlaws, the adventurers really should be following at least some kind of rules on when and when not to use violence. Apprehending violent thieves can be called defence, in a sense- but they should in this case be trying to capture, and kill only when it's necessary to protect themselves.


I'd be happy to work with an argument you at least based on the Core Alignment definitions.

That's the thing- for me, the "core alignment definitions" are incomplete, and vague. A character's attitude to "the innocent" (a term that only the DM can define anyway) is important, but it should not be the sole thing defining whether someone is Evil and whether someone is not.

What does "respect for life" mean? And at what point does killing indicate a "lack of respect for life"?

And when does "hurting, oppressing, and killing" the "not innocent" finally cross the line into Evil?

The splatbooks at least try and answer this- using "murder" as killing that shows a lack of respect for life, and torture & slavery as something that, even done to the "not innocent" that crosses the line into Evil.

Ormur
2010-08-19, 03:50 AM
Obviously evil in my eyes includes a few acts.

-Torture
-Rape or similar debasements
-Killing innocent sentient things

Performing those is always inherently evil. Other things can certainly be evil but usually because they make you directly or indirectly responsible for them. In such cases there can be mitigating factors such as scale, necessity and ignorance of consequences but for directly doing those things they won't be enough to nudge it into neutral, ever.

There is one inconsistency in this and that is that the first two are evil with no qualifiers but the latter has the qualifier of "innocent". The difference is that sometimes killing people is the only viable option to prevent yourself or others from immediately dying or getting harmed. That isn't the case for the first two which are always premeditated and/or unnecessary. There are always alternatives to torture and I don't think I even have to mention the second point. If there is a reasonable alternative to killing someone then it becomes evil too even though the person isn't innocent. I'd peg executions as evil. Assassinating an evil dictator is a borderline though since you can argue there are alternatives but the utilitarian argument is more compelling than with torture.

Now since I stumbled on a post on the first page I have to say that while perpetrating those things is always evil, laughing at them has not direct consequences and can't be considered evil. Context matters of course but laughter is often a tool to deal with the absurd and what could be more absurd than the fact that those acts are routinely perpetrated.

hamishspence
2010-08-19, 03:58 AM
If there is a reasonable alternative to killing someone then it becomes evil too even though the person isn't innocent. I'd peg executions as evil. Assassinating an evil dictator is a borderline though since you can argue there are alternatives but the utilitarian argument is more compelling than with torture.

BoED does have a prestige class dedicated to assassinating those that can't be dealt with any other way.

There is a strong theme of "good guys should be trying to redeem evil wherever reasonably possible"- but it also points out that execution for "serious crimes" doesn't qualify as Evil, though torture does.

It has its own flaws- but it does have a theme of "don't use violence when its not necessary- not even against the evil"- with the example being waging war on a village of evil orcs that have never harmed their neighbours.

The fact that they are evil might demand action- but declaring war on the village and wiping it out is considered excessive.

It really comes down to whether you think the virtues of BoED as a take on the alignment system, are enough to make up for its flaws. I do- a lot of other people don't.

BoVD does state that "killing creatures of consummate, irredeemable evil" is not murder- so what might be murder in the real world is not considered murder in the D&D world.

Kami2awa
2010-08-19, 05:45 AM
I hate how much Monty Python has villainized this. The king of which you speak was dedicated to bring unity, justice and peace to the people, not indulging his own whims.

Yes, he told us so himself.

Edhelras
2010-08-19, 07:15 AM
As always, I find it best to define good and evil based on the fundamental assumption that we, the players, are the good guys, and the monsters and hostile NPCs are the evil guys. "Evil acts" would include those acts that we could under no circumstances perform and still feel good about ourselves (that is, our characters). Although I'm a grown up guy. When you're 40 years old and have your own kids, it feels impossible to really, really think that torturing others, going on a killing spray or whatever might be fun. Refreshing in a game setting, no doubt. But not something you feel good for doing.

Torture is difficult. It's undoubtably "evil" in the RL sense, although some people unexplicably would think otherwise. It's also ineffecient in reaching its goal. But still, it might have been employed by people that you wouldn't necessarily associate with "evil" - so might it be, say, neutral?

Well, firstly - you should examine that assertion: That good people have committed torture, thus it cannot be inherently evil. I am aware of no such cases. Looking at the Middle Ages, they're so far behind that we can easily regard those dudes as if they were DnD characters. The Inquisitors or just about any other authority figure back them - they would rarerly register as Good in the DnD alignment system. Neutral at best, but quite a lot of them would be plain Evil. Even though they would have claimed that they were followers of a "Good" deity (God, that is). But today, I think a lot of religious people would strongly dissent to the kind of interpretation of Christianity that the Holy Inquisition represented.

Much closer to our day - I know that most people still are most comfortable with the immediate post-war feelgood thought that we are the good guys, uniformly and in all aspects, and the Nazis were all evil. While Nazism is still - obviously - despiced as evil thinking, a gradually stronger understanding is emerging that on both sides of that epic conflict, there were far more shades and nuances than was initially portrayed, and that may distort the otherwise comfortable picture we get from thousands of films, TV series and comics. Good and evil people - or acts - might be found on either side of conflict. If you like, there might well be an assymmetry, with more evil guys among the Nazis etc. But still - are we sure that the guys who performed the torture, for us, were really what you'd call "good"?

Then comes today, the current war and Jack Bauer - and of course I must shut up here.

Anyway, I don't agree that performing torture is something a Good character can do except at truly desperate times (and it should cause regret and a lot of emo RP afterwards). And a neutral character should be quite cautious about it. Truly - a neutral character wouldn't be above performing some evil acts if needed. But torture (and rape, and baby-eating) is among acts so clearly tainted with Evil (the helpless person, being treated with pain and damage, methodically) that any widespread usage of that technique would bring a Neutral character towards the Evil camp.

Some Neutrals might counter that by donating money to widows and saving little children - but IMO that's a bit weak RP of the neutral alignment. It's more like not-having an Good-Evil axis - because there is no way to consistently predict what your character will do in any given situation, where the Good-Evil comes into play.
You might be CN and behave like that - you're simply so chaotic that noone can predict you, there is no system to your actions, your chaotic streak is so strong it spills over into your good-evil axis. But I would prefer just deciding for my self how my character should act, and stick to that.

One other aspect of this is those saying that "My character believes that torture might be good, so he can do that while being Good-aligned". To me, that's just saying: I don't like, or won't bother with, the alignment system. Sure, if it increases your fun, go ahead.

dsmiles
2010-08-19, 07:26 AM
Veritable Wall of Text

I actually use a "shades of gray" type alignment system, and have taken out spells/abilities/equipment that are alignment-based. Detect Evil? Sorry, fresh out. Paladin's Detect Evil class ability? Nope, sorry, no paladins here. Turn/Rebuke Undead? Certain deities have certain restrictions on that, others have no restriction and the cleric makes the choice at first level. Spontaneous Cure/Cause Wounds? Same deal (some clerics even cause wounds and turn undead or cure wounds and rebuke undead). So, a "good" society can (and will) go to war with another "good" society, if they believe that this 2nd society is evil. I like real-world morality in my games.

EDIT: Bear in mind that the same isn't true for the Law/Chaos axis. My pantheon revolves around Law and Chaos instead of Good and Evil.

hamishspence
2010-08-19, 07:59 AM
Anyway, I don't agree that performing torture is something a Good character can do except at truly desperate times (and it should cause regret and a lot of emo RP afterwards). And a neutral character should be quite cautious about it. Truly - a neutral character wouldn't be above performing some evil acts if needed. But torture (and rape, and baby-eating) is among acts so clearly tainted with Evil (the helpless person, being treated with pain and damage, methodically) that any widespread usage of that technique would bring a Neutral character towards the Evil camp.

Some Neutrals might counter that by donating money to widows and saving little children - but IMO that's a bit weak RP of the neutral alignment. It's more like not-having an Good-Evil axis - because there is no way to consistently predict what your character will do in any given situation, where the Good-Evil comes into play.
You might be CN and behave like that - you're simply so chaotic that noone can predict you, there is no system to your actions, your chaotic streak is so strong it spills over into your good-evil axis. But I would prefer just deciding for my self how my character should act, and stick to that.

I tend to think of it as follows- Evil is a force- and a powerful one. Each time a person does an Evil act, they are letting some of this force into them, where it may taint the mind, and the soul.

(In BoVD, an evil act may be so powerful as to let evil into the world, and taint the land where it was committed semi-permanently).

Some people may say it's the other way round- people become evil, then commit Evil acts. But I think this works better with the way the system is written.

A person who has become Evil through committing evil acts, has their mind tainted by evil. Some strong-willed people may retain enough moral compunctions to still be unwilling to harm the innocent- but the taint of Evil in their mind leads them to keep committing Evil acts against the "not innocent"

The [Evil] subtype represents taint of the body- if a Neutral person undergoes the Ritual of Subtypes from Savage Species, their body is now magically Evil- but their mind and soul may remain the same. Similarly, a redeemed fiend may have cleansed the mind and the soul, but their body is still tainted by Evil.

This may also apply to nonevil undead, and nonevil clerics of evil gods. Their bodies are tainted, but their minds, and souls, might not be.

When a person reaches Corruption 9, (FC2) their soul is fully tainted, and, if Lawful, Baator may claim it.

In DMG, it suggests that a person may undergo an epiphany, cast aside their evil ways, and become non-evil, on the way to Good, without any actual acts. This is true- and genuine repentance cleanses the mind of Evil. However, it does nothing to the soul.

The only way to cleanse the soul of evil is through atonement- not just the spell, but coming face to face with those they have wronged, apologizing, and so on.

If a Lawful person dies doing this while still Corruption 9, they become a Hellbred.

Riffington
2010-08-19, 08:50 AM
Some Neutrals might counter that by donating money to widows and saving little children - but IMO that's a bit weak RP of the neutral alignment.

On the contrary, it's strong RP of the evil alignment. Most evildoers need to do something to help "make up for" or "atone for" their sins. There are exceptions (such people are true sociopaths), but most evil people are not sociopaths. They have some charity or noble habit that helps them "balance" things a bit, but may be still firmly evil.

hamishspence
2010-08-19, 09:00 AM
PHB suggests this may be the case for LE characters but doesn't say much about NE or CE characters.

"Noble Demons" that are CE or NE but have a few virtues, don't seem to be mentioned much.

Though, as written in FRCS and Underdark, Jarlaxle is NE and, in the books, has a certain chivalrous streak.

Yukitsu
2010-08-19, 10:26 AM
I tend to think of it as follows- Evil is a force- and a powerful one. Each time a person does an Evil act, they are letting some of this force into them, where it may taint the mind, and the soul.

(In BoVD, an evil act may be so powerful as to let evil into the world, and taint the land where it was committed semi-permanently).


Actually, a lot of moral philosophers think of it in the opposite terms in that evil is defined as a driving lack of good, but that it is not in and of itself a force. That aside, the argument that committing evil acts is evil because it brings more evil into the world erks me. It trivializes the act in and of itself, and the reason for why it was done.

hamishspence
2010-08-19, 10:37 AM
It isn't so much that, as more
"Why evil acts lead to a change of alignment- regardless of the reasons"
(because they corrupt the mind of the actor)

Also-
"why do all undead, even good ones, detect as evil"
"why do neutral clerics of evil gods detect as evil"
"why can devils have a partial claim on the souls of non-evil mortals"

It's not perfect- but it's an attempt at making sense of multiple alignment-based sources.

Yukitsu
2010-08-19, 10:46 AM
I usually recommend you don't try to make sense of the conflicting source books. They make for a messy alignment system that simply put isn't fun to play, and are too incoherent to be a "realistic" moral philosophy if you want to argue alignment for the sake of arguing alignment. Either it's a game, and you don't worry about a bajillion source book author's varied opinions, or you treat it as moral philosophy class and cite Kant, Hobbes or Mill. Not the guys at wizards.

Project_Mayhem
2010-08-19, 10:47 AM
Yes, he told us so himself.

As a largely fictional character from stories not written in the first person, this seems unlikely.

Disclaimer: I'm not saying a historical figure called King Arthur never existed. I am saying the popular depiction is made up.

hamishspence
2010-08-19, 10:52 AM
Either it's a game, and you don't worry about a bajillion source book author's varied opinions, or you treat it as moral philosophy class and cite Kant, Hobbes or Mill. Not the guys at wizards.

Neither the splatbooks, nor the PHB, explain why specified evil acts are evil (and the PHB only lists one- rebuking undead) so "why is X evil" is always going to be a tricky question.

But questions that tie to core:

"why do good undead detect as evil" and
"why do neutral clerics of evil gods detect as evil"

might deserve some kind of an answer other than "because PHB says so"

Malbordeus
2010-08-19, 10:54 AM
hmm, evil is a very interesting question

easy things to mark up are

-Willing/Voluntary Murder of Helpless Sentient Beings.

intelligent beings, even if marked as a typicly "evil" race like orcs or trolls are capable of being redeemed under the right circumstances. and stabbing somone in their sleep without knowing if they are a threat or if they have committed any attrocities deserving of death reeks of senseless, gleeful and/or self serving slaughter.

-Willing/Voluntary Torture of Helpless Life

things like repeatedly beating a puppy with a stick, and worse come under this, it is especially evil when done with no intent other than personal gratification.

-Personal Gain at Great Cost Others

Selfishness is never under any circumstances "good" aligned, this is more towards the extreeme where you kill people for the handfull of gold in their pocket, or evict somone weaker than yourself forcably from their home and move in.

there are lesser acts of evil, but most of the truely "Evil" acts come under these sort of headings. Imposing your will on others i considered for a bit, but figured there are some excuses kicking it towards the lawful and neutral axis.

i'm sure saph will have all kinds of fun rubbing my face in this post :P but then I am playing an evil character in his current story

Yukitsu
2010-08-19, 11:33 AM
Neither the splatbooks, nor the PHB, explain why specified evil acts are evil (and the PHB only lists one- rebuking undead) so "why is X evil" is always going to be a tricky question.

But questions that tie to core:

"why do good undead detect as evil" and
"why do neutral clerics of evil gods detect as evil"

might deserve some kind of an answer other than "because PHB says so"

As far as the game is a game, that's about as far as I'm willing to go. A game's morality compass isn't worth the mental energy for the other players and myself. Anything beyond that and I'm going to completely disregard D&D morality, and skip to real world. Which is what I tend to do.

Jayabalard
2010-08-19, 01:24 PM
manslaughter being a form of "accidental" killing, and AFAIK you need to make a decision before something has Alignment consequences.No, manslaughter is not just accidental killings. Manslaughter includes both voluntary manslaughter (intentional, in the heat of passion, death caused with provocation) and involuntary manslaughter (accidental). Both of these are not murder, and (depending on jurisdiction and circumstances) either or both may be unlawful or lawful.


Murder then - if you wish to be technical - is the taking of a life "with malice aforethought," and presumably without the sanction of an appropriate legal authority.

As I said in my original post, even this definition of murder catches activities routinely performed by NG and CG individuals.I would say that if they're being routinely performed by individuals that are labeled NG and CG, then those individuals are mislabeled.

hamishspence
2010-08-19, 01:27 PM
Some jurisdictions recognize "imperfect self-defense" as a mitigating factor that can reduce murder to voluntary manslaughter- when the killer intentionally killed the victim, but was possessed of a genuine but unreasonable fear of being killed or seriously injured by the victim.

Doug Lampert
2010-08-19, 01:32 PM
You seem to have missed out a rather important part. Namely, this:

If someone is prepared to face torture instead of opening up, they damn will. All they say will just be an attempt to stall you. If they aren't prepared for that, intimidation will be enough to get everything useful out of them. In either case, torture is waste of time.

Except that's BLATANTLY untrue. Plenty of people will "call your bluff" in the real world about things much less important than torture.


Claims that torture is ineffective are not based on some moral network, they're based on how human psyche works. If a person has certain treshold of determination to not tell something, he won't. He will grovel and plead, but that's it. What you get out of a broken person is pandering, utter nonsense that they spout out in hopes of stopping the torture for even a moment.

And, as I've REPEATEDLY demonstrated, it's fairly trivial for the ONLY thing that will stop the torture to be the truth.

You ONCE AGAIN say that they'll say ANYTHING to stop the torture, and then insist that they'll LIE even knowing that that is the one thing guaranteed to continue the torture.

Your possition contradicts itself based on the trivial fact that the broken man KNOWS we can corroborate what he tells us, and DOESN'T know what lie will fool us but does know that the truth will work.

DougL

Oracle_Hunter
2010-08-19, 01:49 PM
I would say that if they're being routinely performed by individuals that are labeled NG and CG, then those individuals are mislabeled.
Aw, I was hoping you had a novel definition of murder :smallfrown:

So, when the CG Hero of the People is running around beheading tyrants he's actually going to become Evil? Or when he is flushing demonic cultists out of the palaces of nobles and kills any who resist? You're not going to find many courts that refer to that as anything less than murder; nor, I suspect, would you think such conduct should turn people Evil.

silversnowe
2010-08-19, 02:37 PM
So torture gets out the truth BY YOUR REASONING.


But that's assuming you can guarantee your reasoning is absolutely right 100% of the time. You can't guarantee 100% every time that you have the right man and you haven't just tortured some guy who has been telling the truth that he doesn't know where the bomb is.

hamishspence
2010-08-19, 02:43 PM
The assumption here was that with Zone of Truth, all you have to do is ask, and you'll know if you have the right man.

rokar4life
2010-08-19, 08:51 PM
What's this? Rule 34 has failed? Google got nothing? How am I supposed to be funny without a picture of a mind flayer in a bikini???

SPOILERED FOR MATURE CONTENT
http://rule34-images.paheal.net/_images/743be1a56189d59fadf05a2aa5625a72/39328%20-%20Dungeons_and_Dragons%20Forgotten_Realms%20Illit hid%20Mind_Flayer.jpg

not a bikini... but still

On a more serious note in D&D(or other role-playing equivalent) as well as life there are situations that are completely good and evil, however unlike life in D&D there is a rule/system to tag an action or person as one or the other, this takes a gray area and forces you to pick between the two rather then have it remain morally ambiguous. As someone who has, for the good of themselves, and their family done several things which some people might consider evil(but were well within the law given the circumstances) I can say that it is hard to truly label an action and it is something that I think about every day.

Zombieboots
2010-08-19, 09:47 PM
Here is my opinion for better or worse:

Necromancy School is not evil. It's what you do with it that matters.

NecroMANCY the raising of undead is extremely evil, as it deals with torturing/traping souls that should otherwise be departing world. As such Undead are consider evil.
Ghost specifically tend to be the exception to that rule as alot of times they don't intend to create themselves, but they are still hurting and trapped on the mortal realm. So it's considered "Good" to send them to their rightful resting place.

Torture is evil, yes even for paladins against Asmodeus himself.
Intimidating and threating (even threating with torture equipment) is not evil since causing harm is one thing, scaring people is another. Threating is certainly not good but it should not be lumped with evil either.

Assassins: Not evil, but certainly not good. There have been a hundred examples of assassins for good cause but the people that carry them out tend not to be so noble themselves. As such assassins in my game don't require you to kill anyone because your first mark could be the BBEG, but you must be non-good.

Positive Energy: Man am I ever tired of people pointing out that planeshifting you to the Positive Energy makes you pop to "Prove Negative Energy isn't evil!" I think an act of malicious teleportation counts as evil personally. However the plane itself is not Good, just alot of good things from it, and um... No bad things. At all. Except Poping... and maybe Ravids.

Negative Energy: Drawing and using negative energy Is not evil itself, it's how you use it. Generally speaking negative energy fits into some nasty situations- not always- just mostly, but is not consider evil all but itself. Think of it like fire. If you touch fire you will give burned, if you touch Negative Energy your soul whithers in torment.

Snake-Aes
2010-08-19, 09:58 PM
NecroMANCY the raising of undead is extremely evil, as it deals with torturing/traping souls that should otherwise be departing world. As such Undead are consider evil.

Except it doesn't. Creation of undead is scattered all over the place and there isn't anything of what you said for nonsentient undea.d

Devils_Advocate
2010-08-19, 10:21 PM
One thing that may be difficult to grasp about the concept of objective, externally defined morality is that it is, by its very nature, independent of human opinion. It really does not make conceptual sense to base definitions of Good and Evil directly on real-world mores, be they modern or medieval.

For example: Animals that lack a theory of mind are incapable of wishing to harm other sentient beings, and thus, in a sense, fundamentally innocent. This makes killing and eating them, if anything, less intrinsically Evil than slaughtering and devouring sapient moral agents. That this may conflict with general human preconceptions is a feature, not a bug. Abiding by societal conventions is Law's deal.

And if you think that alignment should be based, not on popular consensus, but on your personal moral beliefs... well, get in line. :smalltongue:


What actions, in the context of D&D, do you think are absolutely, undeniably, evil? I mean, seriously, if torture, raising up unholy abominations, and killing for money aren't enough, what will it take for you to admit beyond the shadow of a doubt that the line has been crossed?
Torture for the sake of torture, with no expected positive results for anyone, seems most obviously Evil. Like, say, secretly burning a man to death.

But an action may be Good and Evil at once, and that's the problem. It's entirely possibly to protect innocents by hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Furthermore, this is not an odd corner case, but the sort of thing that PCs are expected to do on a regular basis. Killing threatening bad guys and then looting their corpses is frankly the core of D&D, so it's basically left unclear how the typical actions of standard protagonists fit into the alignment system. We can infer that such behavior is compatible with all alignments, since no alignment seems to be out of bounds for adventurers (e.g. violent, wealthy hobos), but this isn't spelled out.

More relevantly, a remotely realistic character doesn't just have a single set of general attitudes towards everyone else in the world nor towards all innocents in the world, and will relate differently to different groups smaller than that. A character will be more willing to help some than others and more willing to harm some than others. A character may be eager to help some and eager to harm others, and on bases other than how "innocent" anyone is (whatever that means).


Raising up unholy abominations is Evil by definition - in 3.5 anyhow.
Which 3.5 definition are you referring to, and where is it given?


the rules are agreed with your participation
For starters, so what? It's not like that means that you aren't getting horribly screwed by the majority. Secondly, that's plain untrue if you're not a part of the represented class. Representative governments totally use and support the use force on individuals who don't get a vote: foreigners, children, animals, whatever.


you have a chance to change the government, thus changing the rules, if you disagree with them.
One's opportunity to do this is not directly dictated by how democratic a government is. Majoritarianism only grants you those freedoms of speech and other civil liberties that most citizens want you to have.


Its government for the collective good verses someones whim
If 90% of a population wants to kill the other 10%, it doesn't follow that the benefit to the former outweighs the harm to the latter. Furthermore, the majority may not even be best suited to achieve what's best for the majority. A dictator need not govern by whimsy (and would be wise not to). And what stops a dictator from governing for the collective good?

What if the majority want a king? Cannot such supreme executive power derive from a mandate from the masses?


Deontologists vs. Consequentialists
The only meaningful distinction that I see is between expected consequences, intended consequences, and actual consequences. Other than that, actions forbidden by deontological ethics are often defined at least in part by their consequences -- e.g. murder entails causing death -- and consequentialist ethics can easily be phrased prescriptively -- e.g. "Maximize pleasure".


when people say things like:

"My LG hero, now that he rules a city, orders the worst criminals tortured to death, in order to deter the vilest crimes. Having evil people tortured as punishment is a non-evil act"

I wince.
What, if anything, makes corporal punishment more Evil than capital punishment? What, if anything, makes execution more Evil than killing in combat? Does capital punishment become more Evil in a cosmology in which it's an effective sentence to have one's soul tortured by fiends for centuries?


Similarly, if someone's chosen to play an Evil antihero who's dedicated his life to protecting the innocent and punishing (horribly) the guilty, I find the idea that such a character is actually Neutral, and cannot ever be Evil, to be a bit odd.
I find the notion that such a character must be Evil downright nonsensical. Certainly he could be, if e.g. the "punishing the guilty" part was so much more important to him as an end in itself that he was willing to endanger innocents to do it.


The clear example is murderin' Innocents - Evil people do this; Good people never do this intentionally; Neutral people don't do it without good reason.

If Character X murders an Innocent for no reason, OH's Alignment Rubric says that a Good person would not have done it, nor would a Neutral person. By elimination, Character X must be Evil.

Now, if Character X murders an Innocent to save His Good Friend, OH's Alignment Rubric says that a Good person would not have done it, but either a Neutral or an Evil person would have. The Rubric is can say no more than that.
What if the same character does "something that a Good person would never do" and "something that an Evil person would never do"? Or are there only things that Good persons won't do?

In the event that taking an innocent life could save many others, might not a character might do so because he places great and equal value on all lives?


adventurers really should be following at least some kind of rules on when and when not to use violence.
Do you mean that they should adhere to a set of established formal guidelines, or just that they should be basing their decisions on something, e.g. not attacking creatures at random?


Evil: Infringing upon the rights of others, except in a manner necessary to protect either your rights, or the rights of others.
PROTIP: Defining a vague word (e.g. "evil") using an equally vague word (e.g. "rights") tends to clarify things only slightly, if at all.

Some other vague words that come up in discussions of morality (and, thus, discussions of alignment) are "justify", "necessary", "help", and "harm".

(I use "help" and "harm" myself, because I think that they're less vague than "good" and "evil". They're still vague enough that they could do with clarification themselves, but one step at a time.)

Oracle_Hunter
2010-08-19, 10:56 PM
My Animate Dead reference was from the [Evil] descriptor on Animate Dead (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/animateDead.htm). Inasmuch such labels mean anything, of course :smalltongue:


What if the same character does "something that a Good person would never do" and "something that an Evil person would never do"? Or are there only things that Good persons won't do?
Not that I can think of, actually. Good characters protect Innocents, and Evil characters kill them; if you provide proper motivation, I suppose you can have Good characters killing Innocents (e.g. The Trolley Problem) and Evil characters protecting them (e.g. Fantastic Cash Prizes).

If you can come up with one, I'd like a crack at it :smallsmile:


In the event that taking an innocent life could save many others, might not a character might do so because he places great and equal value on all lives?
Utilitarian calculations I leave up to the player. The OH Alignment Rubric is just a first pass - it can only analyze the information it's given. IMHO, there is no "correct" choice for a Good character dealing with the Trolley Problem - but neither is there an incorrect one.

FelixG
2010-08-20, 12:12 AM
Negative Energy: Drawing and using negative energy Is not evil itself, it's how you use it. Generally speaking negative energy fits into some nasty situations- not always- just mostly, but is not consider evil all but itself. Think of it like fire. If you touch fire you will give burned, if you touch Negative Energy your soul whithers in torment.

Where do you get torment from? Last i looked it merely drains away your life force, does it ever say anywhere its tormenting?

Ormur
2010-08-20, 02:24 AM
For starters, so what? It's not like that means that you aren't getting horribly screwed by the majority. Secondly, that's plain untrue if you're not a part of the represented class. Representative governments totally use and support the use force on individuals who don't get a vote: foreigners, children, animals, whatever.

One's opportunity to do this is not directly dictated by how democratic a government is. Majoritarianism only grants you those freedoms of speech and other civil liberties that most citizens want you to have.

If 90% of a population wants to kill the other 10%, it doesn't follow that the benefit to the former outweighs the harm to the latter. Furthermore, the majority may not even be best suited to achieve what's best for the majority. A dictator need not govern by whimsy (and would be wise not to). And what stops a dictator from governing for the collective good?

What if the majority want a king? Cannot such supreme executive power derive from a mandate from the masses?

Most governments, even dictatorships, in the post-enlightenment world have governed by some recognition of a mandate from the people, some even had majority support. There are instances of dictators being voted into office but that doesn't make it a democracy or a representative government. The usually definition of such includes at least some protection for minority views. Everyone is guaranteed the same rights that can't be revoked by the majority. The number of those rights and to whom they are extended has risen in time under representational governments. Most operate on the premises that safeguarding them is for the collective good.


What, if anything, makes corporal punishment more Evil than capital punishment? What, if anything, makes execution more Evil than killing in combat? Does capital punishment become more Evil in a cosmology in which it's an effective sentence to have one's soul tortured by fiends for centuries?

I'd argue that both are evil and the example you quoted included both capital and corporal punishment but most modern methods of execution aim to be painless. Since we can't know what happens after death we only know that more immediate unnecessary pain is caused by corporal punishment. In D&D I personally suppose the same lack of knowledge of the afterlife but clearly capital punishment where there is a certainty of eternal torture would be more evil in terms of harm caused.

If you didn't initiate combat or did so to protect yourself or others from harm by the opposite party or apprehend him without any other plausible alternatives the potential death of the opponent (presuming it was hard to avoid in combat) could be considered necessary to prevent him from causing more harm. If you just initiated combat with the intent to execute the opponent it's effectively the same as an execution.

enigmatime
2010-08-20, 02:59 AM
Hokay. I'm not anyone special but I would like this thread not to get locked. I understand that we are not allowed to talk about politics. While we currently are not speaking of what we are not allowed to talk about, I can see a few ways that we could sway into that zone. So, yeah, Rpg Evil, not real life evil (such as chihuahuas).

Evil acts: slaughtering innocents on a beautiful day, kidnapping the queen, princess, and all other royalties except the king then holding them for ransom, killing every last character in your party (yourself included), beating up small children and stealing their money, punching a kitten...

(hours later)

and, finally, metagaming. Seriously, someone tried to start to play a D&D type game in the game world and tried to meta game for both... *facepalm*

hamishspence
2010-08-20, 03:48 AM
Since we can't know what happens after death we only know that more immediate unnecessary pain is caused by corporal punishment. In D&D I personally suppose the same lack of knowledge of the afterlife but clearly capital punishment where there is a certainty of eternal torture would be more evil in terms of harm caused.

Given that in historical fiction, it's common for the criminal to confess all their morally bad actions, repent, and have them forgiven, before they are executed, maybe it works like that in D&D?

According to Fiendish Codex 2, a repentant Lawful person with a Corruption of 9, will not go to Baator, but be reincarnated as a Hellbred- with a "second chance" at redemption.

Perhaps D&D clerics also do their best to save the souls of those the law has condemned to die?

Riffington
2010-08-20, 05:38 PM
For example: Animals that lack a theory of mind are incapable of wishing to harm other sentient beings, and thus, in a sense, fundamentally innocent. This makes killing and eating them, if anything, less intrinsically Evil than slaughtering and devouring sapient moral agents. That this may conflict with general human preconceptions is a feature, not a bug. Abiding by societal conventions is Law's deal.

Animals below Int 3 are incapable of being innocent or guilty. Being nonsentient*, they are not included in Good's requirement to protect innocent life or to respect the dignity of sentient beings. Note that it has to point out "Even deadly vipers and tigers that eat people are neutral"; if the book considered animals more worthy of protection than humans, it would have written something different. It would also have written the deities much differently.



*yes, I know there is an alternate definition of "sentient" under which animals are sentient; this is not the books' definition, however (see illithids).