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Cogidubnus
2010-11-14, 10:54 AM
DnD has a rather objective morality - embodied by alignment descriptors on certain spells and items.

But how evil are Evil spells? Is creating a mindless zombie evil, or simply disrespectful? Creating a sentient undead is more obvious - you're helping to propogate evil with that.

What are your thoughts? I tend to err on the side of many Evil acts being Chaotic, not Evil, as they defy conventions rather than actually hurting others.

Shademan
2010-11-14, 10:55 AM
judging by the book of vile deeds, yeah, creating a zombie is not AS evil as genocide or giving birth to an evil dog.
...god

Cogidubnus
2010-11-14, 10:59 AM
judging by the book of vile deeds, yeah, creating a zombie is not AS evil as genocide or giving birth to an evil dog.
...god

An evil dog is still worse. You can't control an evil dog xD

Starsign
2010-11-14, 11:02 AM
Often I like to go over it with the DM, but usually we ignore the evil descriptor as some spells do not belong in that category. I don't have BoVD so I can't really go into much more detail atm.

Cogidubnus
2010-11-14, 11:05 AM
But even without the Evil descriptor some things are clearly evil.

RndmNumGen
2010-11-14, 11:10 AM
Though there isn't any real fluff to support this, my own personal idea is that animating a corpse disturbs the spirit that originally inhabited it and prevents them from resting peacefully in the afterlife.

HerrTenko
2010-11-14, 11:12 AM
Problem is, we as a culture are so influenced by a tradition of "law and order" that we tend to identify chaotic deeds as evil to some extent. Would it be Evil to simply kill a Villain off the bat without a warning instead of getting him arrested so he can pay for his crimes and be brought to justice? I'd rather identify it as Chaotic, but the killing itself could be seen as Evil, especially if the death was delivered in a quite expeditive way (*cough* Vaarsuvius *cough*).

Cogidubnus
2010-11-14, 11:18 AM
I'd call killing a villain who it was risky to try - say he'd get off because he was able to buy the bestt lawyer, or he'd escape beforehand - chaotic. Killing them because you cba with trying him is Evil.

mikau013
2010-11-14, 12:12 PM
I usually find that it is not the action but the intent that makes an action ping on an alignment section.

For example commit genocide to spread that nasty virus spreading and kill off the entire world :).

That being said, don't worry about alignment fitting perfectly. It is a game and a simulation moreso than the real world. As long as you are having fun :)

Alignment is usually just a roleplaying guideline / help imo.

TeqSun
2010-11-14, 12:12 PM
Though there isn't any real fluff to support this, my own personal idea is that animating a corpse disturbs the spirit that originally inhabited it and prevents them from resting peacefully in the afterlife.
I do this as well.

By RAW, skellies and zombies are basically robots--ya leave 'em to their own devices and they don't do anything--and yet they're listed as Evil. Well, I like my undead to actually be Evil so mine don't just stand around rotting if left to their own devices--they wander around killing things because their souls are fraked up.

Sometimes you have to apply a bit of common sense to the rules.

Psyren
2010-11-14, 12:16 PM
Casting [Evil] spells is a minor act (unless they are Vile); however I think that should also be weighted by spell level. Blasphemy should be a bit more damning than Protection from Good.

Ravens_cry
2010-11-14, 12:20 PM
I do this as well.

By RAW, skellies and zombies are basically robots--ya leave 'em to their own devices and they don't do anything--and yet they're listed as Evil. Well, I like my undead to actually be Evil so mine don't just stand around rotting if left to their own devices--they wander around killing things because their souls are fraked up.

Sometimes you have to apply a bit of common sense to the rules.
Conversly, if you treat zombies and skeletons as mindless automatons ,I choose to have them be the alignment of the one who is controlling them. Is an ordinary sword evil? It can be used for evil, far more then it can be used for good, but it is not in itself evil. If your going to make zombies and skelies do evil when left to their own devices, you should probably give them an intelligence score. Common sense as applied to the rules after all.

Tiki Snakes
2010-11-14, 12:56 PM
DnD has a rather objective morality - embodied by alignment descriptors on certain spells and items.

But how evil are Evil spells? Is creating a mindless zombie evil, or simply disrespectful? Creating a sentient undead is more obvious - you're helping to propogate evil with that.

What are your thoughts? I tend to err on the side of many Evil acts being Chaotic, not Evil, as they defy conventions rather than actually hurting others.

DnD has objective morality, arguably.
But I don't.

So, for me, any particular spell may in theory be objectively Evil, but that doesn't actually make it innately BadWrong or genuinely Evil unless I happen to also agree that it is, infact, Badwrong according to my own views on the subject.

Which is to say, Good and Evil in a morally objective universe are nearly meaningless terms that have more to do with team allegiance than any defensible value system.

On the subject of shambling rotters;
I do think I prefer the idea that an unattended Zombie is like a mindless automaton whose only motivating input is their constant, gnawing unholy and insatiable hunger.
Bad Robot Hungry. Bad Robot Eat You.

Sinon
2010-11-14, 01:21 PM
The only answer is that evil is what your DM says is evil.

Even if you try to stick the RAW, the definitions contradict the examples and youíre right back at a DMís call.

What you are going to end up with is a bunch of people taking things personally.

Play the game for fun and leave arguments about morality aside.

That said, I always cringe a bit when I see the argument, ďIt isnít evil; itís chaotic.Ē Really? It makes little sense to me to say actions can be judged on only one spectrum.

Cogidubnus
2010-11-14, 01:28 PM
The only answer is that evil is what your DM says is evil.

Even if you try to stick the RAW, the definitions contradict the examples and youíre right back at a DMís call.

What you are going to end up with is a bunch of people taking things personally.

Play the game for fun and leave arguments about morality aside.

That said, I always cringe a bit when I see the argument, ďIt isnít evil; itís chaotic.Ē Really? It makes little sense to me to say actions can be judged on only one spectrum.

It's not that you only judge them on one spectrum, it's that some actions that might be called Evil don't have to be. Like summarily executing a villain because you know his surrender's a trick/he'll escape.

WarKitty
2010-11-14, 01:33 PM
The only answer is that evil is what your DM says is evil.

Even if you try to stick the RAW, the definitions contradict the examples and youíre right back at a DMís call.

What you are going to end up with is a bunch of people taking things personally.

Play the game for fun and leave arguments about morality aside.

That said, I always cringe a bit when I see the argument, ďIt isnít evil; itís chaotic.Ē Really? It makes little sense to me to say actions can be judged on only one spectrum.

It's best to discuss with your DM beforehand what is and isn't evil, especially if you play a restricted class. And best generally for the DM to be fairly loose about it. As a DM, if a player can come up with a decent explanation why their action fits their alignment, I let it fly.

lordyoshi01
2010-11-14, 01:38 PM
I believe that evil depends on the intent. If you raised a corpse into an undead, it is evil depending on you use it to go against a person's rights. Will you have this undead kill someone you don't like? Would you have it wander around to kill indiscriminently? Such things would be evil. Raise it and have it save the life of someone you care for, use it to aid you against a person who is evil, use it because you think that's a cool power... well the first two aren't evil, the latter may be more neutral than anything.

Of course we could have a debate on philosophy for hours.

Mastikator
2010-11-14, 01:53 PM
I do this as well.

By RAW, skellies and zombies are basically robots--ya leave 'em to their own devices and they don't do anything--and yet they're listed as Evil. Well, I like my undead to actually be Evil so mine don't just stand around rotting if left to their own devices--they wander around killing things because their souls are fraked up.

Sometimes you have to apply a bit of common sense to the rules.

By RAW, a uncontrolled zombie or skeleton will attack any living being it sees on sight. Much like ghouls, but mindless.

Sinon
2010-11-14, 01:54 PM
It's not that you only judge them on one spectrum, it's that some actions that might be called Evil don't have to be. Like summarily executing a villain because you know his surrender's a trick/he'll escape.

But the way you present it, you make it seem like saying "It's chaotic" shuts down the "Is it evil" inquiry.

The fact that an act can be evaluated on the Chaos-Law axis has nothing do with whether you can or should judge it on the Good-Evil axis.

You are saying that you can judge the slaying on the Chaos-Law. Fine. Youíre right. But does that mean you canít judge it on the Good-Evil?

Why not? I can tell (from your point of view) what differentiates a Chaotic act from a Lawful. But what (from your perspective) distinguishes a Good act from an Evil one?

Did summary execution pass that test?

As it relares to spells, the best DM I ever had put the [evil] descriptor this way:

ďHow come no one ever says that about fire?
Seriously, when you use a [fire] spell, youíre tapping into an energy source, Fire. It burns ****. Itís hot.

ďWell, Good, Evil, Law, Chaos: those arenít just ideas here. They are real energy sources. An [evil] spell draws its power from evil. Thatís what the tag means. It is powered by evil. Itís nasty and it hurts your soul.

ďDonít ask me how many times time you can cast an evil spell before your alignment shifts. Explain to me why your Lawful Good character is cool with grabbing hold of and wielding something youíd expect to be abhorrent to him?Ē

I'm paraphrasing of course.

Cogidubnus
2010-11-14, 01:55 PM
I agree with all of that. But if you're executing a BAD person because they can't be put through the legal process, that's not Evil. It's the best thing you can do in the situation.

Callista
2010-11-14, 01:59 PM
DnD has a rather objective morality - embodied by alignment descriptors on certain spells and items.

But how evil are Evil spells? Is creating a mindless zombie evil, or simply disrespectful? Creating a sentient undead is more obvious - you're helping to propogate evil with that.

What are your thoughts? I tend to err on the side of many Evil acts being Chaotic, not Evil, as they defy conventions rather than actually hurting others.DM's preregative.

I houserule mindless undead as non-evil and Evil-aligned spells as non-evil unless they otherwise involve an evil act (for example, Mindrape is not evil because it has the evil descriptor, but because it involves... well, mindrape.)

However, in many games, creating undead and casting Evil spells is Evil not necessarily because it's directly evil but because it influences your soul and pulls it in an evil direction--it's willingly having close contact with negative energy and evil magic; so it's not so much direct evil as not avoiding temptation. It's like using the Dark Side... if you do it enough, sooner or later, if you don't turn back, you'll lose your morals. If your character knows this, and does it anyway, it's questionable just because of that risk.

Tiki Snakes
2010-11-14, 02:03 PM
Isn't negative energy, and the negative energy plane explicitely neutral, however?

Callista
2010-11-14, 02:10 PM
Yes, it is. That's part of why I rule it as neutral in my games; but you could just as well say that negative energy has detrimental effects on the soul just as it has effects on physical life. In a way, when you channel negative energy, you're damaging your soul... which often shows up as a shift toward evil.

The most important thing is that the DM makes an explicit ruling on these things before someone goes and makes a build that depends on casting Inflict spells or animating skeletons; otherwise the PC is gimped and the player is annoyed and it just doesn't end well.

Cogidubnus
2010-11-14, 02:11 PM
Yes, it is. That's part of why I rule it as neutral in my games; but you could just as well say that negative energy has detrimental effects on the soul just as it has effects on physical life. In a way, when you channel negative energy, you're damaging your soul... which often shows up as a shift toward evil.

The most important thing is that the DM makes an explicit ruling on these things before someone goes and makes a build that depends on casting Inflict spells or animating skeletons; otherwise the PC is gimped and the player is annoyed and it just doesn't end well.

This made...NO sense xD

WarKitty
2010-11-14, 02:13 PM
But the way you present it, you make it seem like saying "It's chaotic" shuts down the "Is it evil" inquiry.

The fact that an act can be evaluated on the Chaos-Law axis has nothing do with whether you can or should judge it on the Good-Evil axis.

You are saying that you can judge the slaying on the Chaos-Law. Fine. Youíre right. But does that mean you canít judge it on the Good-Evil?

Why not? I can tell (from your point of view) what differentiates a Chaotic act from a Lawful. But what (from your perspective) distinguishes a Good act from an Evil one?

Did summary execution pass that test?

It's more that I've found the widest range of different opinions regarding chaotic vs. evil acts than any others. Had this argument with my DM several times - there are a lot of actions I regard as chaotic, but not any more evil than stabbing someone with a sword, that he seems to regard as evil.

mikau013
2010-11-14, 02:26 PM
Yes, it is. That's part of why I rule it as neutral in my games; but you could just as well say that negative energy has detrimental effects on the soul just as it has effects on physical life. In a way, when you channel negative energy, you're damaging your soul... which often shows up as a shift toward evil.

<snip>

What if the pc is undead, then negative energy heals him, thus that mean it heals its soul aswell? thus it shifts towards good?

WinceRind
2010-11-14, 02:40 PM
I agree with all of that. But if you're executing a BAD person because they can't be put through the legal process, that's not Evil. It's the best thing you can do in the situation.

However, it undermines the values most "good' people might stand for.

Not to mention the lawful part.

Malbordeus
2010-11-14, 02:44 PM
kicking puppies is pretty evil...

Callista
2010-11-14, 02:47 PM
What if the pc is undead, then negative energy heals him, thus that mean it heals its soul aswell? thus it shifts towards good?I don't think undead have souls... Resurrection doesn't work on them.

WinceRind
2010-11-14, 02:57 PM
I don't think undead have souls... Resurrection doesn't work on them.

Sentient undead like liches are very much like any other sentient people.

They're not mindless, they have personality, and what not.

So, uh...

Sinon
2010-11-14, 02:59 PM
It's more that I've found the widest range of different opinions regarding chaotic vs. evil acts than any others.
And that's precisely my problem. There's a lot of evil v chaos when there's no such thing as evil v chaos because they aren't mutually exclusive.

An act can be chaotic and evil at the same time. Yet every time there's a thread asking "Is this evil?" we hear the response "No: it's chaotic."

That isn't answering the question. The answers are "No; it is good" or "No; it is neutral."


Had this argument with my DM several times - there are a lot of actions I regard as ... not any more evil than stabbing someone with a sword, that he seems to regard as evil.

And this is your DM's fault. It is up to him to provide a definition. If he can't every thing is neutral.

mikau013
2010-11-14, 03:05 PM
I don't think undead have souls... Resurrection doesn't work on them.

I believe d&d is a bit conflicted about that, there are some sources that would indicate that they do have souls, and some saying that they don't.

Though resurrection does work on them:

Resurrection and true resurrection can affect undead creatures. These spells turn undead creatures back into the living creatures they were before becoming undead.
(srd)

hamishspence
2010-11-14, 03:07 PM
How evil casting a spell with the [Evil] tag is, might depend on the source.

In FC2, it's a corrupt act- but it's the lowest-ranking corrupt act listed.

And Heroes of Horror, suggests that heroes who do occasional Evil acts, toward Good ends, can maintain a "flexible Neutral" alignment.

It also says that being a Dread Necromancer pretty much mandates evil acts (over the space of 20 levels, you turn yourself into a kind of lich) but also specifies that if you evil acts are toward Good ends, you can still be "solidly Neutral".

So a case can be made, that Evil acts don't guarantee alignment shift to Evil- not if those evil acts are minor ones and the character maintains an overall Good-type outlook.

The worst evil acts could be said to be "debasing/destroying the innocent for fun/profit"- if the evil acts count as these, it's likely that the character has an Evil alignment.

If the character only "debases/destroys the guilty for fun" then, it may depend on the DM.

I personally, would say that a character who goes too far in his desire to "punish those who harm or threaten the innocent"-

torturing them, destroying their souls, sacrificing them to evil deities- casting exceptionally evil spells on them, worshipping evil gods for the power to defend the innocent and punish the guilty- and so on,

might cross the line into Evil alignment despite never being willing to harm the innocent.

But that's my view- not everybody may agree.

WarKitty
2010-11-14, 03:08 PM
And that's precisely my problem. There's a lot of evil v chaos when there's no such thing as evil v chaos because they aren't mutually exclusive.

An act can be chaotic and evil at the same time. Yet every time there's a thread asking "Is this evil?" we hear the response "No: it's chaotic."

That isn't answering the question. The answers are "No; it is good" or "No; it is neutral."



And this is your DM's fault. It is up to him to provide a definition. If he can't every thing is neutral.

I don't think anyone's saying that evil and chaotic are mutually exclusive. It's more that I've found a lot of people's ideas of good are based in large part on what is socially acceptable and customary. Thus actions that are not in accord with social order (i.e. chaotic) are far more likely to be labeled evil than actions that are, especially if you have someone that has a more lawful mindset. So "no, it's chaotic" means something along the lines of "it's not evil but it is chaotic" or "it looks odd because it's chaotic, not because it's evil."

Edit: I have a very rules-oriented DM. It's come up a lot because I like to play robin hood type characters. So we get into long arguments like "Stealing is evil, you can't be good aligned and steal all the time." "But I'm stealing from people who got the money by oppression, and I'm using the money to help people who do need it. It's chaotic, not evil."

hamishspence
2010-11-14, 03:11 PM
Stealing and lying are probably the best known examples of "should be considered chaotic, not evil" in arguments I've seen.

BoVD has a special "not always evil" exemption for lying- but doesn't give one for stealing.

FC2 specifies a particular type of stealing as a Corrupt act "stealing from the needy for personal gain"

But whether stealing from the needy for other reasons is evil, or stealing from the "not needy" is evil- may depend on the DM.

EDIT:
There's also the "does robbing a robber, and returning the loot to those he took it from, count as stealing?" question.

WarKitty
2010-11-14, 03:12 PM
Stealing and lying are probably the best known examples of "should be considered chaotic, not evil" in arguments I've seen.

BoVD has a special "not always evil" exemption for lying- but doesn't give one for stealing.

FC2 specifies a particular type of stealing as a Corrupt act "stealing from the needy for personal gain"

But whether stealing from the needy for other reasons is evil, or stealing from the "not needy" is evil- may depend on the DM.

Poison is the other one, usually. Along with assassination.

hamishspence
2010-11-14, 03:16 PM
BoED had a PRC for those who think "under certain circumstances, assassinating a bad guy rather than bringing him to conventional justice, is not evil".

On the minus side, it's the main source for:

"poison is evil- but only when it causes unnecessary suffering- poisons that don't cause this kind of unnecessary suffering, like drow sleep poison, oil of taggit, and ravages, are not evil".

some other sources, by contrast, suggests there's nothing inherently evil about poisons- like the FAQ for the ninja.

WarKitty
2010-11-14, 03:17 PM
BoED had a PRC for those who think "under certain circumstances, assassinating a bad guy rather than bringing him to conventional justice, is not evil".

On the minus side, it's the main source for:

"poison is evil- but only when it causes unnecessary suffering- poisons that don't cause this kind of unnecessary suffering, like drow sleep poison, oil of taggit, and ravages, are not evil".

some other sources, by contrast, suggests there's nothing inherently evil about poisons- like the FAQ for the ninja.

This one amuses me because there are so many other ways to use poison that are sanctioned. Snake companion? Wild shape? Summon something with a poison attack?

Lev
2010-11-14, 03:20 PM
DnD has a rather objective morality - embodied by alignment descriptors on certain spells and items.

But how evil are Evil spells? Is creating a mindless zombie evil, or simply disrespectful? Creating a sentient undead is more obvious - you're helping to propogate evil with that.

What are your thoughts? I tend to err on the side of many Evil acts being Chaotic, not Evil, as they defy conventions rather than actually hurting others.
http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19527634/Tome_of_Necromancy

It's a pretty good bet though that any spell with corrupt or evil descriptors are evil.

hamishspence
2010-11-14, 03:20 PM
the question being- if your follower rather than you uses poison- are you liable?

Even if you're going with "poison use is not inherently evil", if you're a paladin, it's still against the code.

There's also that one Celestial (couatl) that has a poison attack- though its venom can be distilled into a ravage as well.

Sinon
2010-11-14, 03:27 PM
I don't think anyone's saying that evil and chaotic are mutually exclusive. It's more that I've found a lot of people's ideas of good are based in large part on what is socially acceptable and customary. Thus actions that are not in accord with social order (i.e. chaotic) are far more likely to be labeled evil than actions that are, especially if you have someone that has a more lawful mindset. So "no, it's chaotic" means something along the lines of "it's not evil but it is chaotic" or

Respectfully, I donít think they are.

I will agree that there is a tendency for people to regard law and good as synonymous, and that to violate one automatically violates the other. But thatís not what Iím talking about.

I ask, ďIs X evil?Ē there is no reason to bring up the definition of Chaotic. Intentionally or not, it is introducing a red herring into the conversation. Even if you really mean, "It looks odd because it's chaotic, not because it's evil." You still have to follow it with a reason why it isnít evil.

Sinon
2010-11-14, 03:29 PM
"But I'm stealing from people who got the money by oppression, and I'm using the money to help people who do need it. It's chaotic, not evil."Stop arguing that it is chaotic and focus on why it is not evil.

Make him define evil and see if theft always meets that definition.

hamishspence
2010-11-14, 03:31 PM
"because it violates somebody's rights" may be one way of looking at it, in the case of evil acts.

A thief has no right to stolen property- therefore taking that property (and only that property) is not a violation of the thief's rights.

Similarly, "right to life" might arguably be forfeited by someone who is in the process of violating other people's right to life- therefore killing them in the process of saving other people from them, is not a violation of their "right to life".

So, using this paradigm, a nonevil act, would be an act that is not a violation of somebody's rights.

WarKitty
2010-11-14, 03:38 PM
Stop arguing that it is chaotic and focus on why it is not evil.

Make him define evil and see if theft always meets that definition.

I'm pretty sure the first part was just that. My point is that it's not a red herring to say "you're mixing up lawful and good." It's saying that the other person is already following a red herring.


"because it violates somebody's rights" may be one way of looking at it, in the case of evil acts.

A thief has no right to stolen property- therefore taking that property (and only that property) is not a violation of the thief's rights.

Similarly, "right to life" might arguably be forfeited by someone who is in the process of violating other people's right to life- therefore killing them in the process of saving other people from them, is not a violation of their "right to life".

So, using this paradigm, a nonevil act, would be an act that is not a violation of somebody's rights.

What rights are you talking about though? If you're talking about legal rights, then we're back on the law-chaos axis rather than the good-evil axis. If you're talking about natural rights, then what exactly those are will vary depending on who you ask.

hamishspence
2010-11-14, 03:41 PM
What rights are you talking about though? If you're talking about legal rights, then we're back on the law-chaos axis rather than the good-evil axis. If you're talking about natural rights, then what exactly those are will vary depending on who you ask.

True. Still, "right to life" (based on the assumption that the person isn't offending against other people's right to life) is a starting point.

Some people derive right to property from right to life.

The "Chaotic Good people can steal for the greater good and not have it count as an evil act" perspective does have some support though. Robin Hood is suggested to be CG in the splatbook Complete Scoundrel, which lists various fictional scoundrels and gives them typical alignments.

Another question is on what the rights of the "innocent" and the rights of the "not-innocent" are- is violating the rights of the "innocent" always an evil act? Is violating the rights of the "not-innocent" only sometimes an evil act? And so on.

Burner28
2010-11-14, 04:42 PM
Problem is, we as a culture are so influenced by a tradition of "law and order" that we tend to identify chaotic deeds as evil to some extent. Would it be Evil to simply kill a Villain off the bat without a warning instead of getting him arrested so he can pay for his crimes and be brought to justice? I'd rather identify it as Chaotic, but the killing itself could be seen as Evil, especially if the death was delivered in a quite expeditive way (*cough* Vaarsuvius *cough*).

Depends on the context obviously. Killing a villain you know is guilty of a lot of horrific stuff and who doesn't give any indication that he'll want to change his ways usually isn't an Evil act at all. Nor is it usually Chaotic at all but rather Neutral really.


Another question is on what the rights of the "innocent" and the rights of the "not-innocent" are- is violating the rights of the "innocent" always an evil act? Is violating the rights of the "not-innocent" only sometimes an evil act? And so on.

Yes violating the rights of the innocents is an Evil act in DnD. Period. it doesn't matter why you do it. It doesn't matter what you do. If you generally are willing to violate people's rights then yeah you are Something Evil. The homocidal maniac who generally is willing to derive pleasure from torturing innocents is Evil but so is a person who is generally willing to mug innocent people, even if she does it to feed her family.

hamishspence
2010-11-14, 04:47 PM
Depends on the context obviously. Killing a villain you know is guilty of a lot of horrific stuff and who doesn't give any indication that he'll want to change his ways usually isn't an Evil act at all. Nor is it usually Chaotic at all but rather Neutral really.

Here there's the collision between:

"Murder is one of the most horrible acts a being can commit" (and is at least a 5 pt corrupt act at minimum)

and

"Execution for serious crimes is widely practiced and does not qualify as evil"

So- when is a killing of someone who "deserves it" Murder, and when is it Execution? And how much evidence do you need that the person "deserves it", and when can a vigilante killing cease to be Murder, and start being Execution?


Yes violating the rights of the innocents is an Evil act in DnD. Period. it doesn't matter why you do it. It doesn't matter what you do. If you generally are willing to violate people's rights then yeah you are Something Evil.

I tend to agree, but there are some people who argue that, for example, in a Ticking Time Bomb Scenario, it becomes your moral duty to violate the rights of the innocent few, to save the innocent many.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ticking_time_bomb

Aotrs Commander
2010-11-14, 04:49 PM
Just to show WotC really hasn't got a clue what it's talking out, while reflavouring my cleric spells into Naruto ninjutsu yesterday (you probably don't want to ask...) I discovered that Seed of Undeath does not have an [Evil] descriptor. Seed of Undeath when the subject dies, turns their corpse into a skeleton or zombie in the manner of Animate Dead. Which, course, does have the [Evil] descriptor.

So, by that logic, even if you are of the mind that [Evil] spells are Evil, then clerics of can cheerfully animate - by RAW - as many skeletons as they like, provided they do it one at a time to targets who fail a Fort save.

I believe the appropriate phrase is "lolwut?" *facepalm*



I have always been of the personal opinion that [Alignment] descriptor spells have no attributable ic-character effect and are a purely game-mechanics tag for telling how spells interact with each other and character. I also subscribe that creating [I]Animated Dead - or some forms of sentient Undead, if the person is willing is not in and of itself an evil act. (Born out by the can-be-neutral clause in both Dread Necromancer and Pale Master, both of which are pretty much tailor-made animation classes.)

Anyway, my point is that D&D is so contradictory and often silly in it's various alignment gubbins that as said, in the end, you end up having to go by the DM's judgement, because it's so completely idiotic otherwise. As this example proves.

hamishspence
2010-11-14, 04:58 PM
I have always been of the personal opinion that [Alignment] descriptor spells have no attributable ic-character effect and are a purely game-mechanics tag for telling how spells interact with each other and character.

There is some rules support for "casting evil spells has an in-character effect over time" though- in Complete Scoundrel, the Malconvoker PRC has to specify that it has the unique property of not changing alignment for repeatedly casting [Evil] summoning spells.

And the Eberron Campaign Setting rulebook, states that while in this (unlike in core) clerics of any alignment can cast spells with any alignment descriptor:

"Casting an evil spell is an evil act, and a good cleric's alignment may begin to change if she repeatedly casts such spells, but the deities of Eberron do not prevent their clerics from casting spells opposed to their alignments"

So- by default, casting evil spells is an evil act- and can, if done repeatedly, eventually change a Good character's alignment.

However, it might not change a Neutral character's alignment if they avoid other evil acts, and do good acts.

Hence, Neutral Dread Necromancers and the like, can still work.

Burner28
2010-11-14, 05:14 PM
I tend to agree, but there are some people who argue that, for example, in a Ticking Time Bomb Scenario, it becomes your moral duty to violate the rights of the innocent few, to save the innocent many.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ticking_time_bomb

Yes but you have to remember that this is within a DnD context now really :smallamused: where willingness to constantly do Evil acts towards innocents(and, arguably in some situations, the not-innocents)makes you Evil aligned, regardless of your reasons. So consistently torturing the innocent few to save the many isn't really going to change the fact that in a DnD conetxt you will end up with Something Evil. Consistently mugging people to feed your family will make you Something Evil too, as will consistently :kidnapping; assaulting; threatening; betraying; murdering; bullying and/ or ruining the reputation of the innocent, etc.

hamishspence
2010-11-14, 05:19 PM
Yes but you have to remember that this is within a DnD context now really :smallamused: where willingness to constantly do Evil acts towards innocents(and, arguably in some situations, the not-innocents)makes you Evil aligned, regardless of your reasons.

I would have said "repeatedly" rather than "constantly"- but yes.

The important part is the Evil acts- especially if they are "seriously evil"

"mildly evil" acts can fit with a nonevil character- even done repeatedly- as long as they tend to behave in a Good fashion in other ways.

So a Dread Necromancer, who animates the dead repeatedly- but only for good reasons, helps strangers, won't harm the innocent, and won't even mistreat the "not-innocent" (will kill in self-defense, but not murder, torture, destroy souls, etc)

could, despite "repeatedly committing evil acts" be Neutral- because they're "only mildly evil acts".

At the other end of the scale, you could have a character who "Will never harm the innocent"-

but, has embraced a "punish those who harm the innocent" ethic so far, that they will torture them, sacrifice them to evil gods (who take a "All we expect you to do is do evil acts- we don't care who you do them to" attitude) and even destroy their souls.

Such a character, being willing to "repeatedly commit serious Evil acts" might be Evil regardless of unwillingness to harm the innocent, or willingness to protect them.

Aotrs Commander
2010-11-14, 05:22 PM
There is some rules support for "casting evil spells has an in-character effect over time" though- in Complete Scoundrel, the Malconvoker PRC has to specify that it has the unique property of not changing alignment for repeatedly casting [Evil] summoning spells.

Which is equally countered by the aforemention Pale Master (from Libris Mortis) and Dread Necromancer, both of which can be neutral (despite Animate Dead being a prime part of their repatoire.)

But then again, this would be the Complete book that gave us such good character build advice... *shudder*

Malconvoker was a pretty stupid idea for a PrC anyway, in my opinion.

I won't say it's wrong, of course, but that's sort of the point. As DM, you have to decide which call to make, because WotC couldn't keep their in-game logic straight from one book to the next. Clearly because they didn't bother to think from outside their own narrow paradigm aside from specified sourcebooks.

(I'll bet souls to sabres the writer of Scoundral didn't read either Libris Mortis of Heroes of Horror, despite both being out for two-three YEARS before. Which is inexcusably incompetant, since if the punters know this sort of thing, the ruddy PAID designers DAMN-WELL should pick up on it beause it's their job. If the designers don't know their own system that well, then WotC should have hired people who did. Still, WotC steadily went down hill as time went on, with the only notably exception of ToB towards the end. So, it's not surprising.)

But anyway, I disregard the equally stupid alignment nonsense in both the BoXD and BoVD, and simply use the better bits of the mechanics. I think of it this way; casting [Fire] spells isn't an act of Fire and doesn't make you more fiery (well, morally more fiery at any rate...!), so I don't attribute the alignment descriptors with any more weight than the others.


And the Eberron Campaign Setting rulebook, states that while in this (unlike in core) clerics of any alignment can cast spells with any alignment descriptor:

Eberron might have done that, but I don't play on Eberron! Though I suppose Eberron did at least make an attempt to rationalise it's own alignment system for it's own world. Though that in itself is damning enough on the current alignment system, that Keith Barker actually had to "fix" it for Eberron. But for me, Eberron's moral stance doesn't hold any more weight than, say, Ravenloft's, if I'm not on Eberron.

hamishspence
2010-11-14, 05:28 PM
Which is equally countered by the aforemention Pale Master (from Libris Mortis) and Dread Necromancer, both of which can be neutral (despite Animate Dead being a prime part of their repatoire.)

I did point out a possible explanation:



So- by default, casting evil spells is an evil act- and can, if done repeatedly, eventually change a Good character's alignment.

However, it might not change a Neutral character's alignment if they avoid other evil acts, and do good acts.

Hence, Neutral Dread Necromancers and the like, can still work.

And the Eberron bit isn't the only source- BoVD, FC2- it seems like it's a general rule, that casting a spell with the [evil] tag, qualifies as an Evil act, for rules purposes.

The Eberron statement is designed to show that the same basic rule is still in force, but, the limitations on what spells clerics can cast, are removed.

"Casting an [evil] spell is an evil act" is not exactly an Eberron-only rule.

So a multiclass paladin/wizard, who casts an [evil] spell, should expect to lose paladin powers.

The PHB has its own "X is an evil act" statement- for Channelling Negative energy (that is, making a rebuke/command undead attempt, not casting a negative energy spell).

So it's not like BoVD or FC2 are the only sources that mention Evil Acts.

faceroll
2010-11-14, 05:33 PM
I agree with all of that. But if you're executing a BAD person because they can't be put through the legal process, that's not Evil. It's the best thing you can do in the situation.

But that's Law & Chaos, not Good & Evil. Even if you had the most extensive court system available in the world to try a murderer, and you snuck in and killed him in his cell, that's a Chaotic act, not an evil one.


"Execution for serious crimes is widely practiced and does not qualify as evil"

In FC2, a lawful execution is one of the most lawful acts you can commit, ranking at a 9 on the lawful scale.

hamishspence
2010-11-14, 05:38 PM
But that's Law & Chaos, not Good & Evil. Even if you had the most extensive court system available in the world to try a murderer, and you snuck in and killed him in his cell, that's a Chaotic act, not an evil one.

Unless, by your DM's definition, it counts as a Murder.



In FC2, a lawful execution is one of the most lawful acts you can commit, ranking at a 9 on the lawful scale.

Actually, it's a 5, not a 9. And that doesn't automatically equate to an unlawful execution being as Chaotic as the Lawful one is lawful.

And there's still the "murder is at leasta 5 pt corrupt act" (with some kinds of murder being 6 or 7 pts) issue.

BoVD does suggest (in the case of chromatic dragons) that "killing one is not an evil act. Even killing one for profit is not an evil act, though not a good act"

So a case could be made that such a killing might in certain circumstances qualify as an "unlawful execution" rather than a murder by D&D standards.

Aotrs Commander
2010-11-14, 05:49 PM
I"Casting an [evil] spell is an evil act" is not exactly an Eberron-only rule.

So a multiclass paladin/wizard, who casts an [evil] spell, should expect to lose paladin powers.

But funny, nobody ever applies this to the other alignments. You never hear about the Evil Wizard who became a champion of good because he liked to use Summon Monster and Gate to summon angels to do his house work. Or the amount of neutral clerics fighting evil creatures who became good after repeated casting of Magic Circle Against Evil or Holy Aura.

Which is, course, because the reason behind the "[Evil] is and an act of Evil and you become Evil" is basically rooted in "no, you can't have that spell, good PCs, they're my DM toys, hands off" and nothing more. It's a common perception, granted that [Evil] is Evil, apparently held by the games designers; which stems from WotC's designers typical problem, which is they never actually appear play to the rules they wrote, only to what they thought they wrote. (See Batman Wizard/CoDZilla verses Blaster Wizard and Healbot Cleric.)

In both Core and the Rules Compendium, it says that "most" descriptors have no game effect themselves, and then calls out Language Dependant and Mind-Affecting as having in-game affects - and makes no mention of alignments at all specifically. T'were it me writing the rules I'd have stated it right there unambigulously; but I'm y'know, competant...

So, I choose to go by that reading, that alignment descriptors have no more and no less affect than [Fire] [Fear] or [Mind-Affecting] ones do; rather than the later and rather more suspect, paradigm-biased and inconsistant intepretation.

But as I say, I CHOOSE. We can argue until you're blue in the face1 with almost any point of D&D's alignment system, and neither of us would be entirely right or wring; which in and of itself proves how much of a ridiculously incompetant and inconsistent MESS they made of it. It's such a mess it actually can't function without DM fiat if you want if to be even remotely consistant.



1I don't have skin, and am not inclined to dip my skull in a bucket of blue paint.

hamishspence
2010-11-14, 05:56 PM
But funny, nobody ever applies to the other alignments. You never hear about the Evil Wizard who became a champion of good because he liked to use Summon Monster and Gate to summon angels to do his house work. Or the amount of neutral clerics fighting evil creatures who became good after repeated casting of Magic Circle Against Evil or Holy Aura.

True- and the Eberron book doesn't mention them- only [evil] spells are called out as being an evil act, not [good] spells a good act, [lawful] spells a lawful act, [chaotic] spells a chaotic act.

Maybe because, outside of the variant paladins, no class "Falls" for committing Good, Lawful, or Chaotic acts.

A blackguard can commit all the Good acts he wants, and until he changes alignment, he retains all his blackguard spells.

The "It's an evil act" issue might primarily be for classes that multiclass into paladin.

A paladin Falls if they ever commit an evil act- so it helps to know if casting an [evil] spell counts as an evil act.


We can argue until you're blue in the face1 with almost any point of D&D's alignment system, and neither of us would be entirely right or wring;

Actually, on some arguments, there will be a right or wrong answer by RAW.
If you argue "Rebuking Undead is not an evil act" or "Turning Undead is not a good act" I can point to the line in PHB that says:

"Even if the cleric is Neutral, channelling positive energy is a good act and channelling negative energy is evil".

faceroll
2010-11-14, 06:09 PM
Actually, it's a 5, not a 9. And that doesn't automatically equate to an unlawful execution being as Chaotic as the Lawful one is lawful.

Oh, my bad, don't have the book at hand. Does the corruption scale go up to 9?
Anyway, lawful executions are seen as extremely lawful in the dnd multiverse. Was just pointing out the RAW basis of that. Killing isn't necessarily good or evil, likewise, it isn't necessarily Lawful or Chaotic. It depends on context. You can lawfully kill someone and have it be an evil act, just as you can righteously kill someone but have it be a chaotic act. The presence or absence of a legal system has nothing to do with the intrinsic Goodness or Evilness of killing things.

Aotrs Commander
2010-11-14, 06:18 PM
Actually, on some arguments, there will be a right or wrong answer by RAW.[/I]

I did say "almost."




True- and the Eberron book doesn't mention them- only [evil] spells are called out as being an evil act, not [good] spells a good act, [lawful] spells a lawful act, [chaotic] spells a chaotic act.

So, that's basically underlining what I said about it being a "you can't have these really cool spells PCs, nyah" issue if it didn';t even mention "and likewise with the other alignments" putting it on a similar vein to Ravenloft. [Evil] spells are "forbidden lore", things only the bad Guys are supposed to have.

Why don't, then, the others crop up as often (if at all)? I suspect because probably because no-one really cares about the other alignment slides apart from Good=>Evil. Which is used only as basically a roleplaying crowbar to stop the good-aligned PCs from doing certain things. And generally ONLY when that specific issue (i.e. good becoming evil) and that issue alone is brought up.



(4E was much worse for "the PCs must be good" bias in that it had basically no support for evil characters out of the box. One of the many beefs I had with it. But the point being, that mindset was clearly in the forefront of the later rules writers towards the end of 3.5, to the deteriment of the already poorly thought-out alignment system.)

mangosta71
2010-11-14, 06:32 PM
Ah, yes. Poisons and ravages.

Using poison that causes ability damage is an evil act because it causes undue suffering in the process of incapacitating or killing an opponent.
So, the reason using poisons is evil is because they cause ability damage, right?

Ravages function in a manner similar to poisons, dealing ability damage or even ability drain when the target is exposed to them...
Apparently the ability damage from having a ravage used on a character makes him jump up and dance with joy. Otherwise it would be causing "undue suffering".

So, why the hell are we using the BoED as an indicator for what's good and evil?

faceroll
2010-11-14, 06:35 PM
Ah, yes. Poisons and ravages.

So, the reason using poisons is evil is because they cause ability damage, right?

Apparently the ability damage from having a ravage used on a character makes him jump up and dance with joy. Otherwise it would be causing "undue suffering".

So, why the hell are we using the BoED as an indicator for what's good and evil?

Causing pain to evil creatures is fine, especially pain that the cosmos has decided that the wicked, and the wicked alone, deserves.

mangosta71
2010-11-14, 06:46 PM
Causing pain to evil creatures is fine.
The rules of morality don't apply if your target is evil? It's okay to torture someone as long as he's evil? It's acceptable to run through a village and slaughter every female and child in it as long as they're all evil, even though they're unarmed and no threat to anyone?

tyckspoon
2010-11-14, 06:48 PM
The rules of morality don't apply if your target is evil? It's okay to torture someone as long as he's evil? It's acceptable to run through a village and slaughter every female and child in it as long as they're all evil, even though they're unarmed and no threat to anyone?

That's basically the lesson of Ravages and Afflictions, yes. (But only if you're using a Ravage. It's still badwrong to hit them with a Symbol of Pain or something.)

faceroll
2010-11-14, 07:12 PM
The rules of morality don't apply if your target is evil? It's okay to torture someone as long as he's evil? It's acceptable to run through a village and slaughter every female and child in it as long as they're all evil, even though they're unarmed and no threat to anyone?

Yeah, pretty much.

Psyren
2010-11-14, 07:17 PM
The rules of morality don't apply if your target is evil? It's okay to torture someone as long as he's evil? It's acceptable to run through a village and slaughter every female and child in it as long as they're all evil, even though they're unarmed and no threat to anyone?

It's more that ravages and afflictions have ridiculous fluff than anyone truly believes alignment is an excuse for torture and mayhem.

Callista
2010-11-14, 07:38 PM
With so many sourcebooks out there, sooner or later you'll get something as ridiculous as ravages and afflictions.

The Poison=Evil thing is probably a legacy thing that's been carried down through the editions despite that it's inconsistent with all the other rules about alignment. Poison use isn't evil; it's dishonorable (chaotic). And in some cases it can even be Good, when you're using it to disable an enemy so you won't have to kill him, or Lawful, when you're using it to bring in a criminal for trial. I think the groups who houserule that poison use is not evil actually outnumber the ones who don't. (That doesn't change the "Paladins don't use poison" idea, though. It's still dishonorable to do so, and in general, a paladin will not want to use them, with the exception of using them to disable without killing, especially when bringing in a criminal for trial.)

Disease is almost always evil, though, because it can spread to innocents. And in the case where your poison is inhaled and you're using it in (or transporting it through) a place where innocents could come in contact with it, that's also evil. Most Good-aligned people would stay far, far away from that, simply because of that risk. Think of inhaled poisons as being something like sarin or mustard gas... chemical warfare, basically. A nasty weapon that's not something you want to get anywhere near your hometown--or the enemy's hometown, if you have any mercy at all.

There's one notable thing about both ravages and afflictions, though; they don't affect anyone who's not evil. This is important in the case of afflictions, because you don't risk starting an epidemic among Good-aligned creatures; but once again, some civilians who do not deserve to die are still evil; so that means you should only be using Afflictions in areas where literally everything is an unredeemable enemy--the Abyss, for example. So, yeah, I think I'd actually rule that using a Ravage is an evil act in many situations because you may easily wipe out most of the goblins' home village when their warriors come limping back home... and many of those goblins, evil or not, don't deserve to die--noncombatants, especially.

Burner28
2010-11-15, 03:29 AM
Poison use isn't evil; it's dishonorable (chaotic).
Disease is almost always evil, though, because it can spread to innocents. And in the case where your poison is inhaled and you're using it in (or transporting it through) a place where innocents could come in contact with it, that's also evil. Most Good-aligned people would stay far, far away from that, simply because of that risk. Think of inhaled poisons as being something like sarin or mustard gas... chemical warfare, basically. A nasty weapon that's not something you want to get anywhere near your hometown--or the enemy's hometown, if you have any mercy at all.

But why is it dishonorable to use poison? isn't it somewhat practical?

Callista
2010-11-15, 03:38 AM
Oh, yes, it's definitely practical. Honor is often quite impractical that way. Poison use is dishonorable because it's not a straightforward attack; you've smeared it onto your weapon to weaken your opponent so he can't fight at full strength. Lawful types generally find that quite distasteful; they want a fair fight.

hamishspence
2010-11-15, 03:54 AM
Ah, yes. Poisons and ravages.

So, the reason using poisons is evil is because they cause ability damage, right?

Apparently the ability damage from having a ravage used on a character makes him jump up and dance with joy. Otherwise it would be causing "undue suffering".

There are forms of ability damage that don't cause "undue suffering"- Strength- draining spells and the like come to mind- they aren't listed as Evil-aligned.

Think of a ravage as one of those, in liquid form, adjusted to damage only the Evil-aligned.

Whereas, the ability damage done by poisons, is more painful.

It's not a great justification- but it's a way out of the "using ravages ought to be as evil as using ability-damaging poisons" problem.


So, yeah, I think I'd actually rule that using a Ravage is an evil act in many situations because you may easily wipe out most of the goblins' home village when their warriors come limping back home... and many of those goblins, evil or not, don't deserve to die--noncombatants, especially.

I would agree- even if ravage/affliction use is not inherently evil (just as fireballs aren't inherently evil)- there are circumstances where using them would be indiscriminate, and thus immoral.

Dropping an inhaled ravage on a goblin village, would be a good example of this.

ffone
2010-11-15, 03:55 AM
Casting evil spells is evil because every time you do, a puppy soul somewhere is horribly consumed.

Just kidding. Sort of - you can easily fluff the fluff to match the crunch in many ways, with some examples in this thread (an existing skeleton or zombie is a soul in restless torment somewhere).

Also, perhaps the force of Evil is more than the adjective 'evil' - it's a force which does or is part of certain things, and which happens to 'inhabit' types of characters who behave a certain way. This explanation could let you maintain spell descriptors, creature subtypes, etc. but just drop some things like 'it's evil to use skeletons as laborers'.



The rules of morality don't apply if your target is evil? It's okay to torture someone as long as he's evil? It's acceptable to run through a village and slaughter every female and child in it as long as they're all evil, even though they're unarmed and no threat to anyone?

There's something masochistic about much of the anti-alignment sentiment among DnDners - namely, individuals choosing to interpret alignment in the most fascistic possible way ('torturing orc babies = lawful awesome good') so they can be upset by it.

hamishspence
2010-11-15, 04:33 AM
There's something masochistic about much of the anti-alignment sentiment among DnDners - namely, individuals choosing to interpret alignment in the most fascistic possible way ('torturing orc babies = lawful awesome good') so they can be upset by it.

Yup- BoED is pretty clear in general that "doing evil things, to evil people, is still an evil act"- at least in the case of torture, slavery, etc.

And takes a "killing evil beings who haven't done anything to warrant being killed is evil" approach.

It has its flaws, but in general, it's the most emphatic source there is for "even evil beings should be treated as kindly as reasonably possible".

Kami2awa
2010-11-15, 04:42 AM
Sometimes you have to apply a bit of common sense to the rules.

Common sense? What is this alien concept?

Burner28
2010-11-15, 05:50 AM
Oh, yes, it's definitely practical. Honor is often quite impractical that way. Poison use is dishonorable because it's not a straightforward attack; you've smeared it onto your weapon to weaken your opponent so he can't fight at full strength. Lawful types generally find that quite distasteful; they want a fair fight.

Heh.. not if you are Lawful Evil remember. To be fair I disagree with you that poison is dishonorable at all because I don't see why, if Lawful Good characters can kill in the defense of other or themselves, they can't use a little thing called poison.

Lawful means that you care about order, not that you play by some "rules" that you never have to actually. Lawful Good doesn't mean Lawful Nice an unless it goes against their own code of conduct, why not use poison?

hamishspence
2010-11-15, 05:52 AM
Indeed, Cityscape clarifies that poison use is actually legal under certain circumstances- usually for making traps.

A professional trapmaker, will have a licence to make and use poisons.

So you could have a LN, or possibly even LG, poison specialist.

Aotrs Commander
2010-11-15, 05:54 AM
Casting evil spells is evil because every time you do, a puppy soul somewhere is horribly consumed.

I know you're joking, but if I may use your offhand comment to make a point; no-one ever makes that sort of comment about the other alignments. E.g. no-one claims whenever you cast a lawful spell a butterfly explodes or something (because of the Butterfly Effect), when you cast a chaotic spell a fractal something somewhere shatters, or a puppy is born every time you cast a Good spell...

It seems as though "Evil" gets particularly "special" treatment in this regard, despite otherwise that supposedly all the alignments are theoretically equal. The Evil=> Good axis tends to be the most important and the Law/Chaos axis generally marginalised (not helped, of course, by even WotC admitting their definitions of Law and Chaos are basically meaningless!) Again, I think this stems from the general expectations the heroes are Good and their enemies are Evil. After all, when was the last time you recall seeing an official module where the antagonists were various chaotics and protagionsts were all lawful of various stripes? (Planescape Torment may sort of count...ish, but that's pretty exceptional in every regard anyway.)

hamishspence
2010-11-15, 06:11 AM
I know you're joking, but if I may use your offhand comment to make a point; no-one ever makes that sort of comment about the other alignments. E.g. no-one claims whenever you cast a lawful spell a butterfly explodes or something (because of the Butterfly Effect), when you cast a chaotic spell a fractal something somewhere shatters, or a puppy is born every time you cast a Good spell...

It seems as though "Evil" gets particularly "special" treatment in this regard, despite otherwise that supposedly all the alignments are theoretically equal. The Evil=> Good axis tends to be the most important and the Law/Chaos axis generally marginalised (not helped, of course, by even WotC admitting their definitions of Law and Chaos are basically meaningless!) Again, I think this stems from the general expectations the heroes are Good and their enemies are Evil.

I don't remember WoTC ever saying that Law & Chaos definitions were meaningless- this Save My Game article:

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sg/20050325a

covers the meanings in some depth.

Evil being the axis that gets special treatment, may seem biased, but it fits with the general expectations in the PHB:

"In general, evil alignments are for villains and monsters"

Many of the splatbooks have gone beyond this, allowing for evil-aligned protagonists who do evil things for good reasons (Champions of Ruin, BoVD, Exemplars of Evil) but they still default to "sufficiently evil acts make for evil alignment".

Heroes of Horror, and Libris Mortis, with various "Any nongood" classes, are closer to "sufficiently committing minor evil acts, make for nongood alignment."

Aotrs Commander
2010-11-15, 06:19 AM
I don't remember WoTC ever saying that Law & Chaos definitions were meaningless-

As I recall, there was something about it in a sidebar or something in one of the fiendish codexes, I believe, as it was mentioned a time or two on the WotC boards at the time.

It may have been rather more an oblique sort of statement, reading between the lines than outright. I could be remembering wrong, of course.

hamishspence
2010-11-15, 07:36 AM
The afterlife rules in FC2 tend to be biased along the Good-Evil axis (and possibly, by extrapolation, the Law/Chaos axis) but this may be because of the Pact Primeval.

The corruption rules, say, in effect, no matter how much Good you did in life, if you are Lawful and your corruption rating is 9 or higher, you go to Baator. Unless you are genuinely repentant at the point of death, in which case, you are reincarnated as a Hellbred and given "a second chance".

In theory, this could be extrapolated for the Obesiance rules (though they don't say outright that this is how it works) as:

"if you are Evil and your Obesiance rating is 9 or higher, you go to Baator, no matter how much Chaos you did in life".

You could extrapolate even further, but then it gets very homebrew-ish, as:

"if both your Corruption and Obesiance ratings are 9 or higher (and you are not repentant) you go to Baator no matter how much Chaos and Good you did in life"

but that might be stretching it.

I don't remember anything in either Fiendish Codex that said or even implied "law and chaos are meaningless" though.

WarKitty
2010-11-15, 10:06 AM
The original alignment system in D&D was Law-Neutral-Chaos, with an implicit Law=Good and Chaos=evil. They've gone back a bit in that direction with 4e, with CG and LE no longer being alignments. There seems to be at least some vestiges of that attitude in 3.5 without it being acknowledged - the ultimate champions of good are LG, with other varieties added in as an afterthought. That's part of where the confusion slips in. That and WoTC had this strange idea that PC's aren't evil.

hamishspence
2010-11-15, 10:15 AM
If I remember rightly, in 1st ed, Gygax said things along the lines of

"Lawful Good and Lawful Evil are more likely to work together, than Lawful Good and Chaotic Good"

So, when the two axes were split, the default was "law vs chaos" with the lawful groups of all alignments being more likely to work together than, say, the Good groups.

Since then, especially in 3rd ed, it tended to move the other way- with BoED suggesting that the archons are far more able to stomach the Chaos of eladrins, than the Evil of devils, and that generally, wars between the various factions of celestials, was due to the manipulations of Evil.

Even in 4E, Lawful Good, and Good, are probably more able to work together, than Lawful Good and Evil.

Cogidubnus
2010-11-15, 12:03 PM
The rules of morality don't apply if your target is evil? It's okay to torture someone as long as he's evil? It's acceptable to run through a village and slaughter every female and child in it as long as they're all evil, even though they're unarmed and no threat to anyone?

Yes. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0371.html)

Also, on the subject of ravages and afflictions only being ok against irredeemable enemies - by RAW, a paladin won't fall for smiting an Evil civilian, because they can't be evil if they're innocent. So killing anyone Evil can't in itself be evil.

Unless they've surrendered and won't fight back. Kind of like a civilian?

WotC, think your objective morality through.

Callista
2010-11-15, 01:18 PM
Heh.. not if you are Lawful Evil remember. To be fair I disagree with you that poison is dishonorable at all because I don't see why, if Lawful Good characters can kill in the defense of other or themselves, they can't use a little thing called poison.

Lawful means that you care about order, not that you play by some "rules" that you never have to actually. Lawful Good doesn't mean Lawful Nice an unless it goes against their own code of conduct, why not use poison?...No, Lawful Evil people are honorable, too. Most such would not use poison (though possibly they would use it to capture an enemy--but so would LGs.)

It's not a matter of what certain alignments CAN do, it's what they WOULD do. If you've made a character who has no problem with things like poison use, guerilla warfare, lying, stealing, and generally being sneaky, he's not Lawful. That a Lawful character might occasionally resort to those things (especially LG and LE, who have other things to worry about besides honor/duty/discipline) doesn't mean that it would be his first preferred strategy, that he'd use it if he had some other choice, or that he'd feel all that great about himself if he were forced to it.

Psyren
2010-11-15, 01:22 PM
Also, on the subject of ravages and afflictions only being ok against irredeemable enemies - by RAW, a paladin won't fall for smiting an Evil civilian, because they can't be evil if they're innocent. So killing anyone Evil can't in itself be evil.

Even objective morality has shades of gray. Once you accept that a devil, a black dragon and a goblin have differing amounts of evil (as the core game does), then you've already dismissed the concept of smite as a universal litmus test.

Callista
2010-11-15, 01:26 PM
Yes, there's a difference between evil and deserving of death.

Commoner John Jones is a baker. He's a very good baker, so he's arrogant about his skills. He's hired a young woman to help him out in the shop, and he constantly harasses her and makes lewd comments; he gets away with it because he knows her husband is dead and she has to find a way to support herself and her child. John's major pet peeve is the beggars that tend to collect outside the doors of his shop, drawn by the smell of bread, and he can often be seen kicking them in the gut to get them to move on.

This man is evil, but he doesn't deserve death.

Cogidubnus
2010-11-15, 01:33 PM
Yes, there's a difference between evil and deserving of death.

Commoner John Jones is a baker. He's a very good baker, so he's arrogant about his skills. He's hired a young woman to help him out in the shop, and he constantly harasses her and makes lewd comments; he gets away with it because he knows her husband is dead and she has to find a way to support herself and her child. John's major pet peeve is the beggars that tend to collect outside the doors of his shop, drawn by the smell of bread, and he can often be seen kicking them in the gut to get them to move on.

This man is evil, but he doesn't deserve death.

But maybe a good kicking with Smite Evil might help his outlook on life xD

I agree with you. What I meant was, if a Paladin can't fall for it, DnD says it can't be evil. It's more the irony of WotC than anything.

Choco
2010-11-15, 01:48 PM
What is evil (or how evil something is, in the case of evil spells) all depends on the person you ask. You can EASILY see this from every single alignment thread on this forum. So our group solves this problem by going with the current DM's morality and assuming that all characters in the world would know what is and isn't evil according to the DM. As such, if ever there is gray area, we ask the DM before we act, "If I did <x>, would that be considered evil? And if so, how evil?".

Frosty
2010-11-15, 01:54 PM
Everyone here should remember that being "Dishonorable" is NOT a bad thing. People should lose no sleep for being called dishonorable for using poison. It is not a perjorative even if some impractical NPCs in the world might use it as such. Honor has no bearing on Good and Evil. Just ask the Scorpion Clan from Rokugan.

Callista
2010-11-15, 02:01 PM
Yes, that is definitely important. Honor is neither good nor evil; and people often do confuse "socially acceptable" with "ethical", both in D&D and in the real world. It's why the Milgram experiment turned out such depressing results--people confuse doing the right thing with obeying authority/doing the conventional thing/going along with society. They're not the same thing--often they are (many rules are about ethics, like the laws against murder), but when they aren't, it's important to make the distinction. In fact, Chaotic Good people see just this tendency as part of the problem with rules, conventional behavior, and organized society: People follow the rules instead of following their consciences, and then when the rules are messed up, bad things happen.

Burner28
2010-11-15, 02:56 PM
...No, Lawful Evil people are honorable, too. Most such would not use poison (though possibly they would use it to capture an enemy--but so would LGs.)

Not really I see. Poison use isn't really evil nor dishonorable and as Tarquin showed, Lawful Evil is not Lawful Nice and will use any loophole possible as long as the law or their word allows them to. if there are no rules against killing poeple in self defense, then why should there be against using poison in self defense. You seem to consider poison use to be dishonest, but why is it dishonest? You never seem to really explain. Still, we seem to disagree.

The Big Dice
2010-11-15, 03:03 PM
Not really I see. Poison use isn't really evil nor dishonorable and as Tarquin showed, Lawful Evil is not Lawful Nice and will use any loophole possible as long as the law or their word allows them to. if there are no rules against killing poeple in self defense, then why should there be against using poison in self defense. You seem to consider poison use to be dishonest, but why is it dishonest? You never seem to really explain. Still, we seem to disagree.

Would you want to be poisoned? Or to have a poisoned weapon used against you?

I'm guessing not. And that's part of what makes poison cowardly, dishonourable and generally not very nice.

Poison is not a defensive weapon to use. It's something that has to be applied to a weapon, added to food, applied to a surface that the victim will come into contact with or generally prepared in advance.

You can't tell me that a poisoned knife is a defensive implement. It's something intended to cause harm. A knife is a tool that can be used for anything from preparing and eating food to whittling and building fires. Hunting, shaving and all sorts of other activities can be done with a knife without intending any harm.

Now put poison on the knife. What use is it now? What can you do with a poisoned blade that you couldn't do with a clean one?

That's right, you can gain an advantage in combat or assassination situations. One scratch is all it takes to deliver the toxin. You can rely on a chemical compound to overcome training, skill and courage.

And that's why poison is dishonourable, cowardly and not something I'd consider as good.

It might be socially acceptable in some societies, but those aren't what you could consider Good Aligned cultures.

Burner28
2010-11-15, 03:21 PM
Would you want to be poisoned? Or to have a poisoned weapon used against you?

To be fair i don't want to be hurt in the first place though. At all though- after all, I don't enjoy it at all!:smalltongue:


I'm guessing not. And that's part of what makes poison cowardly, dishonourable and generally not very nice.

Hey stabbing the backs and therefore of course killing homocidal maniacs who are about to kill some more innocent people isn't nice either:smallamused:. But then again, Good was never nice and as long as it was within their alignment, I don't personally see why, when you are trying to deal with an homicidal maniac, you have to be polite or play nice because mommy told you:smalltongue:!(I joke, but you get my point really)


Poison is not a defensive weapon to use. It's something that has to be applied to a weapon, added to food, applied to a surface that the victim will come into contact with or generally prepared in advance.

You can't tell me that a poisoned knife is a defensive implement. It's something intended to cause harm. A knife is a tool that can be used for anything from preparing and eating food to whittling and building fires. Hunting, shaving and all sorts of other activities can be done with a knife without intending any harm.

Now put poison on the knife. What use is it now? What can you do with a poisoned blade that you couldn't do with a clean one?


That's right, you can gain an advantage in combat or assassination situations. One scratch is all it takes to deliver the toxin. You can rely on a chemical compound to overcome training, skill and courage.

Exactly!!! Thought you never thought I'd say something as outrageous as that!Well put it this way, it might encourage you not to use your full potential and you are right about that.


And that's why poison is dishonourable, cowardly and not something I'd consider as good.

It might be socially acceptable in some societies, but those aren't what you could consider Good Aligned cultures.

Believing that poison is bad in your opinion? Fair enough, you have your opinion.

Psyren
2010-11-15, 03:25 PM
I don't see poison as any more or less evil than zapping someone with lightning or stabbing them in the stomach with a longsword. It's just a tool.

We could spend all day trying to defend ravages and afflictions, or we can acknowledge that some parts of BoED are poorly-written and focus on the sections they got right.

The Big Dice
2010-11-15, 03:26 PM
I don't see poison as any more or less evil than zapping someone with lightning or stabbing them in the stomach with a longsword. It's just a tool.

We could spend all day trying to defend ravages and afflictions, or we can acknowledge that some parts of BoED are poorly-written and focus on the sections they got right.
Would you want it used against you is a pretty good thing to consider. If you wouldn't like it used against you and believe that is a good enough argument against using it on other people, you're p[robably on the Good side of the line.

To be fair i don't want to be hurt in the first place though. At all though- after all, I don't enjoy it at all!:smalltongue:
And really, the ultimate definition of evil is "he does stuff to people that they don't want doing to them."



Hey stabbing the backs and therefore of course killing homocidal maniacs who are about to kill some more innocent people isn't nice either:smallamused:. But then again, Good was never nice and as long as it was within their alignment, I don't personally see why, when you are trying to deal with an homicidal maniac, you have to be polite or play nice because mommy told you:smalltongue:!(I joke, but you get my point really)
Why should you come down to the level of the homicidal maniac? That makes you just the same as he is.


Exactly!!! Thought you never thought I'd say something as outrageous as that!Well put it this way, it might encourage you not to use your full potential and you are right about that.
You mean it eliminates the need for skill. Making it a coward's method.


Believing that poison is bad in your opinion? Fair enough, you have your opinion.
Try this. Why is poison good? What makes it not evil?

Simply saying that you think poison is cool isn't an answer. You have to be able to back that up with reasons why it's a good thing to poison your enemies (and criminals who may not be in control of their own actions) instead of using superior skill or strategy to defeat your opponents in the open.

Frosty
2010-11-15, 03:27 PM
Would you want to be poisoned? Or to have a poisoned weapon used against you?Before you Fireball someone in the face, please take the time to kindly ask them if he'd like to have Fireball used against him.

You can rely on a chemical compound to augment training, skill and courage.Fixed that for you.


And that's why poison is dishonourable, cowardly...There's nothing wrong with being dishonourable or cowardly...or at least nothing evil.


It might be socially acceptable in some societies, but those aren't what you could consider Good Aligned cultures.Great joke! Wait...you were serious? Look, people tend to look down upon poison used against sentient creatures because they're generally opposed to KILLING. They tend to look down upon a Greataxe to the face as well. Any target upon whom is acceptable to use a Greataxe or a Fireball or a Hold Person against is fair game for poison.

Seriously, would you consider dropping bombs or using un-manned Predator Drones to be Evil and cowardly? Every military organization uses whatever advantage it can get to protect its people and achieve objectives.

{Scrubbed}



You mean it eliminates the need for skill. Making it a coward's method.
You know, various cultures in history refused to switch to a new method of fighting/using more advanced technologies because it "took away the skill aspect" and guess what...they lost or died out or had to eventually change and adapt to survive.

A Fighter might say that a Sorcerer sniping enemies from 400ft + 40/Caster Level is COWARDLY AND TAKES LITTLE SKILL compared to the Fighter's in-their-face style. It's all relative.

Guess what, it takes more skill to SLICE someone with a poisoned blade than it does to Fireball from the back! What do you say to THAT?

Psyren
2010-11-15, 03:33 PM
Would you want it used against you is a pretty good thing to consider. If you wouldn't like it used against you and believe that is a good enough argument against using it on other people, you're p[robably on the Good side of the line.

But you can make that argument for any attack. I wouldn't want to be hit with a fireball, or searing light, or heavenly lightning. Why does the latter get the [Good] descriptor? And Radiant Fog is just as harmful to my vision as any evildoer, but that's [Good] too.

"Poison is dishonorable and cowardly" implies that any form of ability damage or debuff is dishonorable and cowardly. Yet BoED is chock full of ways to do just that.

The Big Dice
2010-11-15, 03:39 PM
Great joke! Wait...you were serious? Look, people tend to look down upon poison used against sentient creatures because they're generally opposed to KILLING. They tend to look down upon a Greataxe to the face as well. Any target that is acceptable to use a Greataxe or a Fireball or a Hold Person against is fair game for poison.
You're using the word sentient all wrong. Cows, sharks and fleas are all sentient. They respond to their environment through the stimulation of their senses, which makes them sentient.

You mean people are opposed to killing sapient creatures. Creatures who think, like homo sapiens sapiens. And really, that's not true.

Especially in the sort of fantasy settings we're talking about here. There might be lawful and unlawful killings, there might be killings motivated by concerns for the community as a whole or by selfish desires.

That doesn't stop the killing.

Poison is a tool of politics, not warfare. It's silent, hard to stop and harder to detect.

If I was playing a D&D poisoner, your Wizard would have absolutely no chance of stopping me if he lived on the same plane of existence as me. Being invisible to all sorts of detection is cheap and you can't not come into contact with physical objects. Which means you can be poisoned. And your Fort save sucks.


Seriously, would you consider dropping bombs or using un-manned Predator Drones to be Evil and cowardly? Every military organization uses whatever advantage it can get to protect its people and achieve objectives.
You're comparing modern warfare with fantasy. However, if your drones and bombs kill innocent people, then by D&D terms the use of them is evil.

Just as using a Fireball to wipe out civilians is evil.


{Scrub the original, scrub the quote}

So the fact that by using poison, you are removing the chance for your opponent to kill you first not count for anything? By poisoning your opponent, does that make looting the body more acceptable?

Poison is the weapon of cowards, plain and simple. It doesn't augment skill, it takes away the need for skill. If you can kill with a scratch, then a pin in the bed is lethal. Go you, mighty warrior, killing a man while he didn't even know you'd been there.

Eldariel
2010-11-15, 03:47 PM
So the fact that by using poison, you are removing the chance for your opponent to kill you first not count for anything? By poisoning your opponent, does that make looting the body more acceptable?

Poison is the weapon of cowards, plain and simple. It doesn't augment skill, it takes away the need for skill. If you can kill with a scratch, then a pin in the bed is lethal. Go you, mighty warrior, killing a man while he didn't even know you'd been there.

Cowards =/= Evil. Good can be cowardly, just as evil. D&D tries to paint cowardice as something unlawful, but it's definitely in no ways evil, good or neutral in that axis. It simply does not impact your goodness or evilness.

The Big Dice
2010-11-15, 03:49 PM
Cowardice may not be evil in and of itself, but it can lead to the kind of evil that means you just have to do nothing.

Which still doesn't answer how poisons might be good. And I have to add that I do agree, Ravages are just plain dumb. If it swins like a duck, quacks like a duck and lays duck eggs...

Cogidubnus
2010-11-15, 03:51 PM
Before you Fireball someone in the face, please take the time to kindly ask them if he'd like to have Fireball used against him.
Fixed that for you.

There's nothing wrong with being dishonourable or cowardly...or at least nothing evil.

Great joke! Wait...you were serious? Look, people tend to look down upon poison used against sentient creatures because they're generally opposed to KILLING. They tend to look down upon a Greataxe to the face as well. Any target upon whom is acceptable to use a Greataxe or a Fireball or a Hold Person against is fair game for poison.

Seriously, would you consider dropping bombs or using un-manned Predator Drones to be Evil and cowardly? Every military organization uses whatever advantage it can get to protect its people and achieve objectives.

{Scrub the original, scrub the quote}

You know, various cultures in history refused to switch to a new method of fighting/using more advanced technologies because it "took away the skill aspect" and guess what...they lost or died out or had to eventually change and adapt to survive.

A Fighter might say that a Sorcerer sniping enemies from 400ft + 40/Caster Level is COWARDLY AND TAKES LITTLE SKILL compared to the Fighter's in-their-face style. It's all relative.

Guess what, it takes more skill to SLICE someone with a poisoned blade than it does to Fireball from the back! What do you say to THAT?

Calm down dude. This is a hypothetical discussion about the morality of a fantasy world. Let's not muddy the waters with real life.




You mean it eliminates the need for skill. Making it a coward's method.


No, it requires a different skill. Using poison requires skill to use without poisoning oneself, hence why Assassins get that as a class feature (they're Evil, but that's another point altogether).

So it needs a different sort of skill. By using poison, you're playing to your strengths while dealing with an enemy's weaknesses. Kind of like the Fighter would when he went to stab you in the face in broad daylight on an empty plain where you can't hide. It's all relative to whose shoes you're in/.

Eldariel
2010-11-15, 03:53 PM
Which still doesn't answer how poisons might be good. And I have to add that I do agree, Ravages are just plain dumb. If it swins like a duck, quacks like a duck and lays duck eggs...

Poison is a substance. A substance cannot inherently be evil or good; it does not have an ego so it lacks alignment. Whether using poison to kill somebody is any more good or evil is rather ridiculous a question if you ask me; killing is killing. Killing somebody is evil, except in a world where some things are color-coded as Always Evil to provide you with safe targets for adventures. And if killing something with a sword is NOT evil, then killing it with poison is not evil either.

Poisons lack alignment. Poison User can be good, evil or neutral. Using poison can be an evil or a non-evil act depending on the target, at least if we're assuming there are creatures you can kill without being evil (which is again, completely obvious since otherwise angels would be evil for killing fiends and since angels are embodiments of good...well, we know anything they can do without coercion is safe to do within good alignments).

Cogidubnus
2010-11-15, 03:54 PM
Poison is a substance. A substance cannot inherently be evil or good; it does not have an ego so it lacks alignment. Whether using poison to kill somebody is any more good or evil is rather ridiculous a question if you ask me; killing is killing. Killing somebody is evil, except in a world where some things are color-coded as Always Evil to provide you with safe targets for adventures. And if killing something with a sword is NOT evil, then killing it with poison is not evil either.

Poisons lack alignment. Poison User can be good, evil or neutral. Using poison can be an evil or a non-evil act depending on the target, at least if we're assuming there are creatures you can kill without being evil (which is again, completely obvious since otherwise angels would be evil for killing fiends and since angels are embodiments of good...well, we know anything they can do without coercion is safe to do within good alignments).

Whereas Paladins can't use poison because it violates their honour code, not their alignment.

The Big Dice
2010-11-15, 03:55 PM
Poison is a substance. A substance cannot inherently be evil or good; it does not have an ego so it lacks alignment. Whether using poison to kill somebody is any more good or evil is rather ridiculous a question if you ask me; killing is killing. Killing somebody is evil, except in a world where some things are color-coded as Always Evil to provide you with safe targets for adventures. And if killing something with a sword is NOT evil, then killing it with poison is not evil either.

Poisons lack alignment. Poison User can be good, evil or neutral. Using poison can be an evil or a non-evil act depending on the target, at least if we're assuming there are creatures you can kill without being evil (which is again, completely obvious since otherwise angels would be evil for killing fiends and since angels are embodiments of good...well, we know anything they can do without coercion is safe to do within good alignments).
By this argument, drowning puppies is fine.

Water is what drowns puppies and water has no alignment, therefore Paladins don't fall for going on a puppy drowning crusade.

In fact, it's fine to drown anyone based on this argument. Drowning is now the perfect form of killing.
/sarcasm

It still doesn't answer why poison is good as opposed to not good.

Eldariel
2010-11-15, 04:00 PM
By this argument, drowning puppies is fine.

Water is what drowns puppies and water has no alignment, therefore Paladins don't fall for going on a puppy drowning crusade.

In fact, it's fine to drown anyone based on this argument. Drowning is now the perfect form of killing.
/sarcasm

It still doesn't answer why poison is good as opposed to not good.

No, I just made a distinction between using poison and poison itself. Using poison is an aligned action that depends on the target and the purpose of its use, like all actions. No action has an inherent alignment; it's all in the context. As such, stating that "using poison is evil" is ridiculous in my eyes.

Of course it's not inherently "good" either; that would be equally ridiculous. Stating that "using poison has an inherent alignment" is overall pretty silly, in my eyes. How can it? It's an action that can lead to a hundred ends and be done for a thousand different purposes; how could all those have the same alignment?

Cogidubnus
2010-11-15, 04:00 PM
By this argument, drowning puppies is fine.

Water is what drowns puppies and water has no alignment, therefore Paladins don't fall for going on a puppy drowning crusade.

In fact, it's fine to drown anyone based on this argument. Drowning is now the perfect form of killing.
/sarcasm

It still doesn't answer why poison is good as opposed to not good.

You've missed his point. It's not wrong to drown someone it's also not wrong to axe in the face.

Frosty
2010-11-15, 04:02 PM
You're using the word sentient all wrong. Cows, sharks and fleas are all sentient. They respond to their environment through the stimulation of their senses, which makes them sentient.

You mean people are opposed to killing sapient creatures. Creatures who think, like homo sapiens sapiens. And really, that's not true.

Especially in the sort of fantasy settings we're talking about here. There might be lawful and unlawful killings, there might be killings motivated by concerns for the community as a whole or by selfish desires.

That doesn't stop the killing.

Poison is a tool of politics, not warfare. It's silent, hard to stop and harder to detect.

If I was playing a D&D poisoner, your Wizard would have absolutely no chance of stopping me if he lived on the same plane of existence as me. Being invisible to all sorts of detection is cheap and you can't not come into contact with physical objects. Which means you can be poisoned. And your Fort save sucks.


You're comparing modern warfare with fantasy. However, if your drones and bombs kill innocent people, then by D&D terms the use of them is evil.

Just as using a Fireball to wipe out civilians is evil.

Those who decry poison as evil while willing to kill using "honorable" methods (and then usually loot the corpse afterwards) are HYPOCRITES.
So the fact that by using poison, you are removing the chance for your opponent to kill you first not count for anything? By poisoning your opponent, does that make looting the body more acceptable?

Poison is the weapon of cowards, plain and simple. It doesn't augment skill, it takes away the need for skill. If you can kill with a scratch, then a pin in the bed is lethal. Go you, mighty warrior, killing a man while he didn't even know you'd been there.

I'm sorry, are we even playing the same game? Poison is the LEAST of a (high level) wizard's worries. I believe Hero's Feast once per day is pretty much the standard fare. And you are building strawmans. I never said that killing INNOCENTS is ok. Fireballing innocents is bad. Poisoning innocents is bad. Fireballing the Blackguard who is oppressing and terrorizing the town is good. Poisoning the Blackguard (assuming blackguards are not immune to poison) who is oppressing and terrorizing the town is good. After both actions, the Blackguard has stopped terrorizing the town.

There is NOTHING INHERENTLY EVIL ABOUT NOT GIVING THE ENEMY A CHANCE TO FIGHT BACK!!! None of your arguments (most of which DON'T ADDRESS MY POINTS) proves that not giving someone a fair fight is EVIL. Who the hell said anything about looting the body is MORE acceptable if poison is used? I'm just using an example of the typical adventurer mindset of "kill, pillage, repeat" and it's bad without the use of poison.

By this argument, drowning puppies is fine.

Water is what drowns puppies and water has no alignment, therefore Paladins don't fall for going on a puppy drowning crusade.

In fact, it's fine to drown anyone based on this argument. Drowning is now the perfect form of killing.
/sarcasm

It still doesn't answer why poison is good as opposed to not good.
KILLING an innocent puppy isn't fine, regardless of the method used. Using a knife to gut the puppy is JUST AS EVIL as drowning the puppy which is JUST AS EVIL as poisoning the puppy.

The end result is the death of an innocent. Remember. Guns (and broadswords, and fireballs, etc) don't kill people. PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE.

Callista
2010-11-15, 05:49 PM
Would everyone please stop mixing up Chaos and Evil!?

When I said poison use is dishonorable, I said nothing about it being evil. In fact, a CG individual is just as likely to use poison as a CE individual (with the exception I already mentioned--inhaled poison likely to cause collateral damage). A Chaotic Good person doesn't care about honor; he just cares about following his conscience and protecting the innocent, and he'll use poison to do it if he has to. And he's no less good than his Lawful Good buddy who would rather salute his enemy and charge head-on.

Tiki Snakes
2010-11-15, 06:28 PM
The end result is the death of an innocent. Remember. Guns (and broadswords, and fireballs, etc) don't kill people. PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE.

Almost. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ83KXUloP8)

Poison use is Good, as opposed to evil, because a well chosen poison leaves the victim unmarred and intact, minimising trauma to innocent observers and any bereaved relatives/next of kin. When dealt with by a skilled professional, the incident is usually swift and painless, allowing the target to depart the mortal coil with dignity, their progression to the afterlife of their choice safeguarded by avoiding 'traumatic final moment' related side-effects.

Broadswords, by contrast, inflict hideous levels of physical damage on their intended target, leaving even the survivors of a broadsword related incident with heavy scarring, and severely damaging the cadaver in successful cases so that the already bereaved next of kin must be subjected to further ordeals than would otherwise have been necessary.


*smooth mature alto with a sad piano solo in the background*
Thousands of people every year receive Broadsword Related Incidents and don't know, potentially passing on this troubling condition to others without thier knowledge. Remember, if you have encountered a broadsword or are in contact with someone who has, use protection when engaging in activities that could result in your exposure to Broadsword Related Incidents.
Broadsword Related Incidents; It's Everyone's Problem.
Paid for by the National Broadsword Related Incidents Institute

Frosty
2010-11-15, 06:39 PM
{Scrubbed}

The Big Dice
2010-11-15, 07:16 PM
Would everyone please stop mixing up Chaos and Evil!?

When I said poison use is dishonorable, I said nothing about it being evil. In fact, a CG individual is just as likely to use poison as a CE individual (with the exception I already mentioned--inhaled poison likely to cause collateral damage). A Chaotic Good person doesn't care about honor; he just cares about following his conscience and protecting the innocent, and he'll use poison to do it if he has to. And he's no less good than his Lawful Good buddy who would rather salute his enemy and charge head-on.
The way were are raised makes it so that we automatically assume that chaos and evil are the same thing. The real world is more about order and disorder than good and evil. For the most part, anyway. And certainly not every culture places the same importance on human life as western societies do.

However, D&D in particular takes the view that poison = bad. And there are very good reasons for that. You can argue sophistry around whether or not the outcome makes the means right. However, good as defined in D&D doesn't care. The end doesn't justify the means. Ever. Using evil to do good will cause a Paladin to need to Atone at the minimum or cause him to Fall if it's a repeat offense.

Because choosing between two evils is still choosing evil.

A Chaotic Good person won't willingly use evil means to reach a goal unless there is no other option. Because doing that, according to the cosmology of D&D, isn't a Good act.

The argument used here is perfectly valid for using ambushes to take on a superior opponent. But poisoning is murder, simple as. It takes away the option for the victim to surrender for one thing. And no Good character would refuse an enemy that option. Because Good means you don't murder.

And there's a difference between killing and murder. Which is the crux of the argument between those saying use of poison isn't that bad.


Poison is the LEAST of a (high level) wizard's worries. I believe Hero's Feast once per day is pretty much the standard fare.
Which doesn't help you when I put contact poison on your staff while you sleep. Or on the door handle to your bathroom. Or ingested poison on the back of your favourite spoon and in your favourite tea cup. Trust me, a good poisoner won't ever put poison on a weapon. It's clumsy, random and far too easy to detect.

Frosty
2010-11-15, 07:22 PM
The way were are raised makes it so that we automatically assume that chaos and evil are the same thing.Bullcrap. Upon what are you making this claim?
The real world is more about order and disorder than good and evil. For the most part, anyway. And certainly not every culture places the same importance on human life as western societies do.What does this have to do with anything? Certain cultures though slavery was ok. They didn't place importance on human dignity and basic rights. That doesn't mean they're not evil.

However, D&D in particular takes the view that poison = bad.And this is why DnD is WRONG. It's NOT evil. RAW is WRONG. Get that into your head. This is what we're discussing here.

The argument used here is perfectly valid for using ambushes to take on a superior opponent. But poisoning is murder, simple as. It takes away the option for the victim to surrender for one thing. And no Good character would refuse an enemy that option. Because Good means you don't murder.

And there's a difference between killing and murder. Which is the crux of the argument between those saying use of poison isn't that bad.


Which doesn't help you when I put contact poison on your staff while you sleep. Or on the door handle to your bathroom. Or ingested poison on the back of your favourite spoon and in your favourite tea cup. Trust me, a good poisoner won't ever put poison on a weapon. It's clumsy, random and far too easy to detect.
You have no idea what you're talking about. Killing is killing. When you decide to go out and kill someone, your murder of choice matters not in you being convicted of first degree murder. And heck, that's why you have an Antidote. If the evil being surrenders, you give him the antidote.

And no, your assassin will have no chance vs a high level wizard. You'll never be able to get close to the target. The rest of this board will tell you just how...silly...you are when you think that POISON one of the bigger concerns for a high level caster. I mean seriously. Stat out your poisoner, and the board will tell you the thousands of ways in which you fail. And once you fail, the caster (whom you can at best emulate with magic items) will find you, and END you.

{Scrubbed}

The Big Dice
2010-11-15, 07:34 PM
You have no idea what you're talking about. Killing is killing. When you decide to go out and kill someone, your murder of choice matters not in you being convicted of first degree murder. And heck, that's why you have an Antidote. If the evil being surrenders, you give him the antidote.
Killing in D&D is how things improve. You are confusing the game with the real world.

In the real world, poison will get you at best locked up for decades.

The game reality is separate from our reality. And even in the real world, there is such a thing as justifiable homicide.

And no, your assassin will have no chance vs a high level wizard. You'll never be able to get close to the target. The rest of this board will tell you just how...silly...you are when you think that POISON one of the bigger concerns for a high level caster. I mean seriously. Stat out your poisoner, and the board will tell you the thousands of ways in which you fail. And once you fail, the caster (whom you can at best emulate with magic items) will find you, and END you.
So you're telling me that it's impossible to:
1. Use some WBL to render yourself nigh undetectable by conventional scrying methods

and

2: Remember the bit where I said "as long as the wizard live of the same plane of existance."

I don't believe that for one second. Sure Schroedinger's Wizard might be able to do it. But matching level Assassin might well surprise you. Especially if you don't see it coming and he doesn't try to take you head on.

As for RAW, nothing anyone has posted here has convinced me that using poison is anything less than cowardly at best, non good under any circumstances and evil in most, though not all, situations.

Frosty
2010-11-15, 07:48 PM
Killing in D&D is how things improve. You are confusing the game with the real world.

In the real world, poison will get you at best locked up for decades.

The game reality is separate from our reality. And even in the real world, there is such a thing as justifiable homicide.Of course there is. People kill other people ALL the time in real life and that is even accepted (think the army). And guess what? A lot of the killing happens from what you'd call a "cowardly" position since there are missile strikes and such. I'm sure secret government agencies have approved poisons and other assassinations in the past. Look, in real life AND in DnD, sometimes assassination is NOT evil. Poison is just ONE tool used for assassination. It is no worse than other assassination tools. Would you say that a long-range sniper rifle that can kill at the range of a few kilometers is evil? It's probably even safer than poisoning since you never have to get close. You seem to have this IRRATIONAL hatred for poison, yet be absolutely ok with other methods of killing. It is very strange. Your way of thinking is alien.


So you're telling me that it's impossible to:
1. Use some WBL to render yourself nigh undetectable by conventional scrying methods

and

2: Remember the bit where I said "as long as the wizard live of the same plane of existance."

I don't believe that for one second. Sure Schroedinger's Wizard might be able to do it. But matching level Assassin might well surprise you. Especially if you don't see it coming and he doesn't try to take you head on.That's what I'm saying. The op-fu of this board is more than enough to take on any assassin you can build whose primary killing method is poison. Any assassin that can get close enough for you to do your poison work could've killed the caster in other, scarier ways (aka if you build another Caster, then the the target isn't worrying about Poison. It's worrying about 9th level casting).


As for RAW, nothing anyone has posted here has convinced me that using poison is anything less than cowardly at best, non good under any circumstances and evil in most, though not all, situations.
And you've posted nothing to convince the rest of us here that Cowardly = Evil and that poison is non-good. Remember, Cowardly has NOTHIGN to do with evil. You can be a cowardly Good-aligned character. The ONLY instances in which poisoning someone to death is evil is if the person does not deserve to die. And if the person does not deserve to die, then hitting him with a Greataxe is JUST AS EVIL.

Hell, we haven't even agreed upon the definition of Good yet.

Starbuck_II
2010-11-15, 07:56 PM
Of course there is. People kill other people ALL the time in real life and that is even accepted (think the army). And guess what? A lot of the killing happens from what you'd call a "cowardly" position since there are missile strikes and such. I'm sure secret government agencies have approved poisons and other assassinations in the past. Look, in real life AND in DnD, sometimes assassination is NOT evil. Poison is just ONE tool used for assassination. It is no worse than other assassination tools. Would you say that a long-range sniper rifle that can kill at the range of a few kilometers is evil? It's probably even safer than poisoning since you never have to get close. You seem to have this IRRATIONAL hatred for poison, yet be absolutely ok with other methods of killing. It is very strange. Your way of thinking is alien.
ia Poison? ia Cthulhu.


And you've posted nothing to convince the rest of us here that Cowardly = Evil and that poison is non-good. Remember, Cowardly has NOTHIGN to do with evil. You can be a cowardly Good-aligned character. The ONLY instances in which poisoning someone to death is evil is if the person does not deserve to die. And if the person does not deserve to die, then hitting him with a Greataxe is JUST AS EVIL.

Hell, we haven't even agreed upon the definition of Good yet.

Good is when you don't do evil or neutral.

The Big Dice
2010-11-15, 08:13 PM
Of course there is. People kill other people ALL the time in real life and that is even accepted (think the army). And guess what? A lot of the killing happens from what you'd call a "cowardly" position since there are missile strikes and such. I'm sure secret government agencies have approved poisons and other assassinations in the past. Look, in real life AND in DnD, sometimes assassination is NOT evil. Poison is just ONE tool used for assassination. It is no worse than other assassination tools. Would you say that a long-range sniper rifle that can kill at the range of a few kilometers is evil? It's probably even safer than poisoning since you never have to get close. You seem to have this IRRATIONAL hatred for poison, yet be absolutely ok with other methods of killing. It is very strange. Your way of thinking is alien.
You have an obsession with bringing in elements that have nothing to do with the debate at hand and then acting as if they are in the least bit relevant.

How is assassination in any form not Evil in D&D terms?

I don't want real world examples, I don't want escalations of modern weaponry being compared to fantasy poisons. I don't want anything being brought in that is not directly pertinent to the concept of what is and is not evil in D&D terms.

That's what I'm saying. The op-fu of this board is more than enough to take on any assassin you can build whose primary killing method is poison. Any assassin that can get close enough for you to do your poison work could've killed the caster in other, scarier ways (aka if you build another Caster, then the the target isn't worrying about Poison. It's worrying about 9th level casting).
An Assassin is the issue here, not a full caster.

After all, a real character rather than a Schroedinger's Character has to decide where resources are best employed. Nobody can be protected against everything, no matter how hard you try.

If you concentrate on being protected from 9th level spells, you're not concentrating on protecting yourself from the guy who cuts your grass.

And you've posted nothing to convince the rest of us here that Cowardly = Evil and that poison is non-good. Remember, Cowardly has NOTHIGN to do with evil. You can be a cowardly Good-aligned character. The ONLY instances in which poisoning someone to death is evil is if the person does not deserve to die. And if the person does not deserve to die, then hitting him with a Greataxe is JUST AS EVIL.

Hell, we haven't even agreed upon the definition of Good yet.
I stated earlier that killing someone who has the chance to kill you back isn't necessarily evil. Killing someone who is trying to kill you isn't evil either. So all those "but a GREATAXE is JUST AS EVIL AS GIANT CENTIPEDE VENOM!" arguments are simple misdirections from my point that poison turns combat from a physical match to a contest of chemistry versus physical ability.

And remember the Russian killed by an injection of polonium, or the anthrax letters scare from a few years ago? Or the nerve gas released on a Japanese subway train a few years before that? That's what modern poisonings are like.

The fact is, at some point you have to accept that there a few issues relevant here.

First, D&D has some very stupid concepts. Alignment works fine as a shorthand for the general outlook of a society, or the way a nation is run. But when you get down to the level of individuals, it falls apart rapidly.

Second, you can't bring in modern examples to back up fantasy gaming situations. That's using hamsters to defend fruit trees against the attacks of poems. In other words, nonsense.

Third, my rationality (or lack thereof) isn't the question at hand. The question is, what is and isn't evil in terms that would be simple enough for a roleplaying game.

And put as simply as I can, evil is getting your retaliation in first, by means that the other guy wouldn't stoop to. Evil is oppressing and subjugating people because it's what is best for you, not them. Evil is not caring about the means, just the ends.

Callista
2010-11-15, 08:46 PM
What bugs me isn't really that D&D has declared poison to be evil. I could live with that on its own. The problem is that D&D's definition of evil does not agree with the idea that poison use is evil; and that makes the system internally inconsistent. That's why so many of us have house-ruled that poison is not inherently evil in our games.

I'm going to put this here for reference:

"Good" implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

"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.

People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others. Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships.There's just nothing in that paragraph about "evil" that applies to poison but not to a fireball, a crossbow bolt, or a Baleful Polymorph. The system is internally inconsistent in its definition of "evil"; therefore, one or the other thing has to be ignored.


And put as simply as I can, evil is getting your retaliation in first, by means that the other guy wouldn't stoop to.Actually, that's Chaos. I'm going to take a wild guess here and say you're probably Lawful in real life, yes? I can see how this is confusing; after all, a person can have only a single code of behavior, and it's logical that you might simply conclude that "the things I believe I ought to do" is the same thing as "Good". But in D&D there are two axes and Good is only one of them. Try to figure out which is which--what's a matter of conventional ideas, honor, the law of the land, authority, etc., and what's a matter of conscience, altruism, etc. There are two different axes here and I think you're getting Law confused with Good just like you're getting Evil confused with Chaos.


Evil is oppressing and subjugating people because it's what is best for you, not them.Yes. This is textbook Lawful Evil.


Evil is not caring about the means, just the ends.Not necessarily. Depending on what means are involved, this could also simply mean neutrality. Someone who's true neutral might not care whether he works with the law or against it to achieve his ends; this is not necessarily an evil position. Of course, if the means include evil means, then that would be evil.

Eldariel
2010-11-15, 08:48 PM
I stated earlier that killing someone who has the chance to kill you back isn't necessarily evil. Killing someone who is trying to kill you isn't evil either. So all those "but a GREATAXE is JUST AS EVIL AS GIANT CENTIPEDE VENOM!" arguments are simple misdirections from my point that poison turns combat from a physical match to a contest of chemistry versus physical ability.

Being able to fight back can not count for anything. Killing is killing regardless of whether it's "fair" or "honorable". If opponent cannot fight back, it's not honorable. But so what? Doesn't make it evil or non-evil; the action of killing is the action that determines the alignment rather than the tool used for said action. You're basically saying every character who uses Sneak Attack is evil by the same logic too, 'cause the whole idea of Sneak Attack is attacking someone who cannot properly defend himself.

Or a Wizard fighting anyone not capable of dispelling magic; it's not honorable since he's invulnerable. How is magic vs. physical power any more fair than chemistry vs. physical power? Hell, why isn't any natural creature that uses poison evil? Oh right, 'cause poison is not evil. There's nothing inherently evil about poison. You need self-awareness to be evil. Poison does not have self-awareness so it can't be evil, any more than an axe or a lightning bolt or a staff or water (which, btw, can be used to drown people which tends to be a very nasty way to go).


And remember the Russian killed by an injection of polonium, or the anthrax letters scare from a few years ago? Or the nerve gas released on a Japanese subway train a few years before that? That's what modern poisonings are like.

What does that have to do with anything?


The fact is, at some point you have to accept that there a few issues relevant here.

First, D&D has some very stupid concepts. Alignment works fine as a shorthand for the general outlook of a society, or the way a nation is run. But when you get down to the level of individuals, it falls apart rapidly.

Second, you can't bring in modern examples to back up fantasy gaming situations. That's using hamsters to defend fruit trees against the attacks of poems. In other words, nonsense.

Third, my rationality (or lack thereof) isn't the question at hand. The question is, what is and isn't evil in terms that would be simple enough for a roleplaying game.

And put as simply as I can, evil is getting your retaliation in first, by means that the other guy wouldn't stoop to. Evil is oppressing and subjugating people because it's what is best for you, not them. Evil is not caring about the means, just the ends.

I browsed PHB definitions of Good and Evil. Nowhere does it state that killing someone without giving them a fair chance of fighting back is evil. Paladin's code is the only thing requiring such and that's clearly a Lawful trait; something you can find from the description of Law vs. Chaso. As such...well, all I can deduct from this is that you're making stuff up.

Yes, it's a fantasy roleplaying game but that doesn't mean it's using an axe that's evil rather than killing. Killing. Is. Evil. It says so much in the PHB. "ďEvilĒ 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."

If we assume some things (such as evil creatures) are exempt of this out of necessity, we can conveniently deduct that no, the method of killing does not matter. Only the fact that if you kill somebody, you are committing an evil action. No matter whether you use poison or axe or fireball, the action you are committing is evil. The tool is irrelevant. No tools are branded as good or evil in the PHB. Heck, even negative energy in and of itself isn't evil; Enervation is a negative energy spell for example, and in no ways "evil". Not a single way of killing from Fireball to Crossbow is listed as evil. Rogues aren't evil even though they use underhanded fighting style which specifically involves attacking people when they can't defend themselves.

I just can't see where you're coming from. I cannot comprehend your logic. It's like...following Blue and Orange Morality (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BlueAndOrangeMorality) at work; some nebulous rules I simply cannot comprehend.

WarKitty
2010-11-15, 09:07 PM
Popcorn, anyone?

The Big Dice
2010-11-15, 09:19 PM
The problem isn't my position. The problem isn't anyone else trying to justify themselves for the way they want things to be.

The problem is, D&D is rooted in concepts that went out of fashion in gaming circles some 25 years ago.

The original Alignment system of D&D was ripped whole cloth from Moorcock. There was Law, Neutrality and Chaos. Good and Evil has nothing to do with anything. In fact, Evil as defined by Protection from Evil and Detect Evil could pretty much be summed up as "things that are trying to hurt me and my friends."

AD&D developed that with a good/evil axis, which was in some early editions of D&D as well. I know it was in my first D&D rulebook. And in those simple, heady days of rulings rather than rules, it was fine. Evil was Bad and was there to be Struck Down. Clerics were lame and wizards had very real chances of not being able to copy spells into their books. In these days, poisons were powerful and to make sure they were restricted to NPCs only, they were made into Very Bad Evil Not For PC Consumption items.

And people complained, though they did accept it. For the most part.

Years later, after D&D had finally been allowed to die the death that gaming tastes and corporate mistakes decided it was time for, WotC cast Raise Dead.

The problem was, they kept all the baggage like Alignment and Levels that had made D&D such a dinosaur in the late 80s and early 90s. Then they took a similar approach to the one used by CCG designers, where they don't actually seem to understand either the game they are making or the way that things they put in it can be abused.

But unlike a CCG, things can't simply be banned from an RPG. Nor can mistakes made in the core rules be fixed by rulings. Though they tried with 3.5. Unfortunately, poisons and the opinions the game has about them were among the baggage brought over that goes back almost 40 years.

Ultimately, we get to the nature of evil in D&D. Which is that of a mustache-twirling pantomime villain. D&D evil, like D&D magic owes more to saturday morning cartoons than it does to anything else. It's obvious, G-rated evil with clear cut villains and shiny heroes. It's a game that's written with the intent that the PCs are going to play the Good Guys and they will fight Bad Guys who are Bad because that's what they are.

I genuinely believe that D&D set roleplaying back by at least ten years when it was re released.

Frosty
2010-11-15, 09:44 PM
You have an obsession with bringing in elements that have nothing to do with the debate at hand and then acting as if they are in the least bit relevant.
Pot, Kettle, Black.

Also, assassination can be perfectly Good (although not Exalted). As long as the target is evil and deserving of death (not just ping evil on the evil-dar, mind you), assassination is a perfectly acceptable. It matters not that the target might not be able to fight back. In fact, it is PREFERABLE. Less chance for the target to do Evil = more Good for the world.

In fact, if a DnD adventurer could, with a carefully placed poison/ravage equivalent (one that bypasses poison resistance), destroy every single demon and devil and evil outsider in the multiverse, and the poison is able to leave reformed evil outsiders unharmed, then doing so would NOT be an evil act...at all. This is how things would be with an alignment system that makes sense, and not the stupid crap that is RAW. By RAW, everyone already agrees that poison is evil. Ther eis no need to argue that. We're all just saying it's stupid.

{Scrubbed}

Callista
2010-11-15, 09:50 PM
Ultimately, we get to the nature of evil in D&D. Which is that of a mustache-twirling pantomime villain. D&D evil, like D&D magic owes more to saturday morning cartoons than it does to anything else. It's obvious, G-rated evil with clear cut villains and shiny heroes. It's a game that's written with the intent that the PCs are going to play the Good Guys and they will fight Bad Guys who are Bad because that's what they are.

I genuinely believe that D&D set roleplaying back by at least ten years when it was re released.

It's only mustache-twirling evil if you make it that way. And for most groups, including almost all the serious players (excluding those who use it mostly as a war game), it isn't. That's the beauty of D&D; it is exactly what you want it to be. If in your game, poison use is evil, then you can make it that way and ignore the inconsistency. In my game, it isn't, and morality is as complicated as it is in real life--possibly even more complicated, because in real life, nobody can control another person's mind, come back from the dead, or destroy someone's soul, and there's only one species capable of high-level abstract reasoning rather than hundreds of such species, some of whom are highly likely to be extremely Good or extremely Evil.

Neither alignment nor levels are "baggage". They are part of what make D&D what it is. In a world where good, evil, law, and chaos are real forces, you're free to create very idealistic, heroic stories where things can be as black and white as you like--or as gray and complicated as they are in real life, with all those extra factors brought in by things like magic, multiple races, and present-and-involved deities.

D&D has changed along with the people who play it. It's complex now. It's not a matter of fighting 1d4 ogres for 5d6 GP and a Masterwork Short Sword anymore. Whether you're a powergamer or a role-player or a bit of both, it's not anywhere near that simple.

And if you don't like that, then find yourself a game that you do like. No one's forcing you to play this one.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 04:53 AM
Also, assassination can be perfectly Good (although not Exalted). As long as the target is evil and deserving of death (not just ping evil on the evil-dar, mind you), assassination is a perfectly acceptable. It matters not that the target might not be able to fight back. In fact, it is PREFERABLE. Less chance for the target to do Evil = more Good for the world.

Given that there's an Exalted class that specializes in this sort of thing (slayer of Domiel), it can even be Exalted.

That said, BoED also has a "redemption is preferable, though not always practical" viewpoint.

Savage Species has several different "society viewpoints" on monsters and what do do with them. One (Chaotic-Accepting) takes the viewpoint that even demons are the victims of their own psychoses, and potentially redeemable.

Which is not to say that people with the Chaotic-Accepting viewpoint won't fight, and even kill, monsters- just that they would see it as a last resort, and do so in defense of others.

Tiki Snakes
2010-11-16, 05:07 AM
At this point I'm not even sure what Big Dice's point is supposed to be, anymore.

Callista
2010-11-16, 05:11 AM
Holy assassin... cool concept. I mean, you could stop a whole war by just sneaking in and killing the enemy general... save thousands of lives, not just on your side, but the poor mooks on the other side too. I've never got the chance to play one, but they're cool. I'm not too sure about the Death Touch thing, though; it seems like it'd only be useful either on enemy mages (low HP) or when you had an enemy down to the last few HP anyway. You can't get into it before 6th level, and when you're Rogue 5/Slayer 10, the best you can do is roll 10d6, an average of 35 HP. At level 15, it's not uncommon to be fighting stuff with a hundred or more HP. The one thing that bugs me about the class is that it's not open to non-Lawfuls; it really should be. I mean, I get that they're ultra-disciplined commando/spy types and they have a LG patron; but that's just flavor text and there's nothing particularly Lawful about their abilities.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 05:41 AM
Yes- in that respect BoVD is more "open" in the alignments that the PRCs can have.

The Disciple of Baalzebul ("Lord of the Flies! Lord of the Lies!) can have any evil alignment, for example.

Cogidubnus
2010-11-16, 08:30 AM
There is, daftly, no argument that poisons as a chemical substance or even the use of poisons is evil. This is simply because the poisons description states that the use of naturall occurring poisons is not evil, whether it's used by instinct by a giant centipede or as part of a combat strategy by a PC with natural attacks. When you think about it, this is rather strange, as it directly follows the rules stating that using extracted poisons is evil.

So, in DnD, the actual poisoning of someone and therby reducing their ability to fight at full power is not evil. Curses, ravages and golden ice support this idea.

Therefore: it is fine to weaken your opponent, but only if you deserve to be able to, if nature or the gods allow you to do so.

Frosty
2010-11-16, 12:00 PM
At this point I'm not even sure what Big Dice's point is supposed to be, anymore.
He doesn't have a (defensible) point.

The Big Dice
2010-11-16, 12:39 PM
The purchase and possession of poison is always illegal, and even in big cities it can be obtained only from specialized, less than reputable sources.
That kind of makes my point for me. Also, the only core classes that gain Poison Use as an ability both require the character to be Evil. I don't have my books here, so I can't go trawling through them to see what else gets it. But I'm willing to be there aren't many classes that have Poison Use as an ability.

So, purchase and possession of poison is always illegal and can only be obtained on the black market. So that excludes Lawful non Evil types from wanting to use it as an option. It also excludes characters that don't want to get involved with "specialised and less than reputable sources" from obtaining poisons.

But here's the thing. The Playground convinced me that D&D isn't the game I want to be playing anymore. It's clumsy, incoherent (in the dictionary sense not the GNS sense) and filled with rules constructs that don't really have a place in modern gaming. That's purely a matter of my taste and sensibility, but I do think that D&D with all it's flaws should be allowed to become a fond memory rather than a current source of frustration.

So I went back to an old favourite, Legend of the Five Rings. A game where honour is very much front and centre. And guess what, the poisoners are in that game are also the most dishonourable clan you can play.

Nobody is arguing against the effectiveness of poison. In fact, D&D poisons can be very lame, because of the way a difficult DC at level 1 becomes a steadily easier and easier one.

But my point remains, that two very different games consider poison to be immoral and illegal. You can argue against that all you want, but it's right there in the core books for both.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 12:42 PM
That kind of makes my point for me. Also, the only core classes that gain Poison Use as an ability both require the character to be Evil. I don't have my books here, so I can't go trawling through them to see what else gets it. But I'm willing to be there aren't many classes that have Poison Use as an ability.

Notable splatbook base class that gets it- and can be of any alignment- Ninja.


So, purchase and possession of poison is always illegal and can only be obtained on the black market. So that excludes Lawful non Evil types from wanting to use it as an option. It also excludes characters that don't want to get involved with "specialised and less than reputable sources" from obtaining poisons.

The DMG says this- but Cityscape retcons this- so those who want to buy traps that contain poison, in order to protect their belongings, can do so.

And a trapmaster has a licence to make and possess poison.

Eldariel
2010-11-16, 12:45 PM
Illegal =/= Evil. Just throwing that out there. But we're all basically saying "Yeah, the rulebooks are inconsistent on that account; going by the definition of "evil", Poisons do not fall under there". Honor; who cares? Leave that to the fools who die first.

Cogidubnus
2010-11-16, 12:45 PM
That kind of makes my point for me. Also, the only core classes that gain Poison Use as an ability both require the character to be Evil. I don't have my books here, so I can't go trawling through them to see what else gets it. But I'm willing to be there aren't many classes that have Poison Use as an ability.

So, purchase and possession of poison is always illegal and can only be obtained on the black market. So that excludes Lawful non Evil types from wanting to use it as an option. It also excludes characters that don't want to get involved with "specialised and less than reputable sources" from obtaining poisons.

But here's the thing. The Playground convinced me that D&D isn't the game I want to be playing anymore. It's clumsy, incoherent (in the dictionary sense not the GNS sense) and filled with rules constructs that don't really have a place in modern gaming. That's purely a matter of my taste and sensibility, but I do think that D&D with all it's flaws should be allowed to become a fond memory rather than a current source of frustration.

So I went back to an old favourite, Legend of the Five Rings. A game where honour is very much front and centre. And guess what, the poisoners are in that game are also the most dishonourable clan you can play.

Nobody is arguing against the effectiveness of poison. In fact, D&D poisons can be very lame, because of the way a difficult DC at level 1 becomes a steadily easier and easier one.

But my point remains, that two very different games consider poison to be immoral and illegal. You can argue against that all you want, but it's right there in the core books for both.

Please go back, read the OP, and tell me whether this is actually relevant. I started this discussion on whether DnD morality was accurate and to see how different people interpreted it. You have got further and further of the point (provoking more and more aggressive responses, unfortunately), and now are trying to talk about the rules. The discussion is on how sensible the rules are, basically.

The Big Dice
2010-11-16, 12:45 PM
The DMG says this- but Cityscape retcons this- so those who want to buy traps that contain poison, in order to protect their belongings, can do so.

And a trapmaster has a licence to make and possess poison.
Would you want to live in a trapped house that could poison your kids?

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 12:48 PM
Trapped house, no.

Own a trapped box inside a very locked safe, with the box containing vital information- maybe.

People who use traps, might pick for their locations, places that no-one other than those up to no good, can get to- so that the trap does its job (protecting something vital) while not endangering people you don't want endangered.

And not all traps have to be lethal, either.

A trap might be designed to keep creatures out- rather than to kill them- an electrified fence, for example. Here though, it would probably have warning signs.

Burner28
2010-11-16, 12:49 PM
What are your thoughts? I tend to err on the side of many Evil acts being Chaotic, not Evil, as they defy conventions rather than actually hurting others.

Yes but what acts that some people consider evil do you consider chaotic?


Illegal =/= Evil. Just throwing that out there. But we're all basically saying "Yeah, the rulebooks are inconsistent on that account; going by the definition of "evil", Poisons do not fall under there". Honor; who cares? Leave that to the fools who die first.

Exactly- it is chaotic.

Cogidubnus
2010-11-16, 12:50 PM
Yes but what acts that some people consider evil do you consider chaotic?

Assassination of evil targets, poison use, raising unintelligent undead (I say this doesn't affect the souls, fluff never says it does). That sort of thing. There's more, but I forget.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 12:53 PM
Raising unintelligent undead does prevent the creature from being resurrected until the undead is destroyed, though.

I think even a True ressurrection will not bring you back, if your own zombie/skeleton is still in existence.

Not sure if this implies soul is affected, though.

Burner28
2010-11-16, 12:54 PM
Assassination of evil targets, poison use, raising unintelligent undead (I say this doesn't affect the souls, fluff never says it does). That sort of thing. There's more, but I forget.

well, the poison use makes sense in a way seeing as it is illegal, but assassination of evil targets? It could be done under the orders of an authority figure so I don't think it is necessarily chaotic but it can be.

Cogidubnus
2010-11-16, 12:54 PM
Raising unintelligent undead does prevent the creature from being resurrected until the undead is destroyed, though.

I think even a True ressurrection will not bring you back, if your own zombie/skeleton is still in existence.

Not sure if this implies soul is affected, though.

I'd call that...unfriendly, at best. Fluff never mentions the soul being affected, so I say they can keep kicking back in their afterlife even as they're kicking the hooligans out of your tavern.

That's right. Necromancer barkeeps.

The Big Dice
2010-11-16, 12:56 PM
Yes but what acts that some people consider evil do you consider chaotic?
Murder is always evil in my book, which makes assassination (a political murder) Evil. Though murder and killing are two separate things.

Raising Undead is something I'd consider Evil no matter the circumstances. I guess I've seen Serpent and the Rainbow too many times to think using zombies for anything, even the good of the community, is a Good thing.

Edit: Using Undead for anything seems great, until it's your parents that are being zombified. That's why I say it's Evil no matter what.

Cogidubnus
2010-11-16, 12:57 PM
Murder is always evil in my book, which makes assassination (a political murder) Evil. Though murder and killing are two separate things.

Raising Undead is something I'd consider Evil no matter the circumstances. I guess I've seen Serpent and the Rainbow too many times to think using zombies for anything, even the good of the community, is a Good thing.

I call the epilogue to Shaun of the Dead on his Serpent and the Rainbow.

They're excellent in public services!

The Big Dice
2010-11-16, 12:58 PM
I call the epilogue to Shaun of the Dead on his Serpent and the Rainbow.

They're excellent in public services!

As I just edited, they are until it's your family being deliberately zombified.

Cogidubnus
2010-11-16, 01:02 PM
As I just edited, they are until it's your family being deliberately zombified.

Honestly? I'm pretty non-fussed about things that aren't actually harmful/constraining of their rights. If it was just their bodies, I wouldn't mind that much, I don't think. If it was their souls, I'd be pretty angry.

WarKitty
2010-11-16, 01:12 PM
Murder is always evil in my book, which makes assassination (a political murder) Evil. Though murder and killing are two separate things.

See there's the fundamental difference. To me, murder is the killing of an innocent person. Which means assassination is not necessarily murder.

The Big Dice
2010-11-16, 01:19 PM
See there's the fundamental difference. To me, murder is the killing of an innocent person. Which means assassination is not necessarily murder.

To me, the kind of regime that sanctions assassinations is the kind of regime that doesn't really care about law or protecting the innocent. The kind of people who call hits might say they care in public, but the fact that they are willing to order someone killed in a manner that takes away the target's chances to defend themselves says otherwise.

Starbuck_II
2010-11-16, 01:19 PM
Raising unintelligent undead does prevent the creature from being resurrected until the undead is destroyed, though.

I think even a True ressurrection will not bring you back, if your own zombie/skeleton is still in existence.

Not sure if this implies soul is affected, though.

It doesn't.
Problem is body is currently being used. True Ressurrection no work because body is currently being used.

I see T. Ressurection as binary:
Is body still being used? Y/N.
If Yes, than it won't work.
If No, than it does work.

It doesn't realize someone else is using the body. So you have to destroy the body first.

However, Undead subtype says Ressurection/True Resurrection will work. So I'm guessing you to use those spells directly on the undead creature rather than a piece of the creature.

Aotrs Commander
2010-11-16, 01:24 PM
Actually, there's technically nothing stopping True Ress from creating a new body if the current one is occupied, for that matter, on the basis it can create one if the body is destroyed normally. If one chooses to use that interpretation.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 01:30 PM
The phrasing

"You can revive someone killed by a death effect, or someone who has been turned into an undead creaure and then destroyed"

for both Resurrection and True Resurrection, suggests that you need to destroy the undead creature before the spell can work.

Starbuck_II
2010-11-16, 01:31 PM
But the Undead type begs to differ. It says you can use it directly on them.

Burner28
2010-11-16, 01:33 PM
To answer the original poster , an Evil act isn't mean, misunderstood,mischivieous or annoying. It is an act that hurt innocent(and in some cases, non-innocent) an those that deliberately is generally willing to do evil acts is an Evil alignment regardless of their motivation.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 01:40 PM
There might be some variation, in that some Good characters (the Order of Illumination in Complete Scoundrel spring to mind) who might be willing to destroy the innocent alongside the demonic, if they perceive it as

"the only way to contain the spread of evil".

But this is rare. In general, destroying anybody (innocent or otherwise) without reasonable justification, probably qualifies as an evil act.

And debasing others (by, say, actively trying to humiliate them, or torture them, and so on, for punishment or pleasure) is another thing that probably qualifies as Evil regardless of how "deserving" the victim might be.

So a ruler who condemns villains to "Death by Torture" over a period of several days, might be said to be demanding his subordinates commit Evil acts.

Zen Monkey
2010-11-16, 01:43 PM
Poison is just a tool. Is it evil? It seems to be just as viable of a strategy as using curses or other debuff spells. Is it chaotic? An assassin who always carries out every contract to the letter would probably use poison but still be very much a lawful character. You could also substitute a lawful evil general following the orders from his evil king to poison a bunch of people, the use of poison doesn't suddenly make him chaotic and unpredictable.

The illegality of poison in D&D seems a bit like modern gun control or weapon laws. Because they are a tool by which people are more easily allowed to hurt others, the government wants to control who does and does not have certain ones. Locking up all the poison doesn't make good people safe, but it does make them (or at least important people like nobility) a little bit more safe than if the bad people in society had unrestricted access to poisons.

Labeling poison as 'evil' seems to be a holdover from paladin codes of previous editions, where it was more about fighting fair and chivalry and all that.

Aotrs Commander
2010-11-16, 02:14 PM
Labeling poison as 'evil' seems to be a holdover from paladin codes of previous editions, where it was more about fighting fair and chivalry and all that.

Which brings another point, up actually; honour isn't itself inherently good, either. It can be, and just as often, it can be equally used for nongood or even evil ends. (It probably is strongly lawful, though.)

(And at it's heart, chivalry isn't good, without a modern re-interpretation broadening it's horizons.)

I personally don't find poison to be evil, as I don't see snakes, frogs, spiders, sea anemones, jellyfish, solenodons, platypi, scorpions, centipedes, fish, snails or plants as inherently evil...

Anyway, I stick to my point that D&D 3.x's alignment system is a shambles, frankly. It only works if you don't actually think too hard about and apply the MST3K principle. In my games, I keep it around, but don't adhere very strictly to the actual RAW (let alone the nonsense of BoVD or BoED!), more as a sort of roguh guideline, nothing more.

(My games do not generally have moral dilemmas, anyhow, since who it is you're supposed to be killin' is (usually) clearly deliniated, whichever side of the fence you're on! You may call that shallow, and you might even have some justification, but what the hey? Shallow doesn't always mean simple...)

While I think at the time, making alignment have a more mechanical effect on the game than prior editions may have seemed like a good idea, in hindsight it was a bit of a mistake. I (for once) agree with 4E's reducing of it's importance. Most games, after all, don't have nor need it. (Heck, you could play AD&D without ever needing to actually use it.) It's a fundementally fatally flawed system, because it tried to shove the entire of all of everyone and everything into one of nine pidgeon-holes; something that tends to fall apart the moment you actually try to apply it to a person or character from any other source.

mangosta71
2010-11-16, 02:49 PM
It's a fundementally fatally flawed system, because it tried to shove the entire of all of everyone and everything into one of nine pidgeon-holes; something that tends to fall apart the moment you actually try to apply it to a person or character from any other source.
Or even a person/character from an official D&D source.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 03:08 PM
Or even a person/character from an official D&D source.

Can you give us some examples of how an official D&D character, statted out in a book and with a listed alignment, exhibits behaviour in the novels entirely inconsistent with their listed alignment?

Eldonauran
2010-11-16, 03:10 PM
As far as I am concerned, poison itself has no alignment and the use of poison itself has no specific alignment. However, who uses it and what kind (of poison) they use is generally limited to a specific alignment group, which is why it is frowned upon so much.

Good characters tend to hold themselves to a higher standard than others (sacrifice for others). The use of poison is distasteful and can even be downright abhorrent. Good characters will tend to use poison that is non-harmful (induce sleep/paralyze/etc), if the use of it is justified or a last resort, regardless of who/what it is used against.

Evil characters are out for themselves, screw everyone else. If vindictive enough, they can and will use poison to their own ends, especially the harmful kinds that inflict untold agony. Not all evil characters use poison but most, if not all, are willing to do so if it benefits them.

Lawful characters usually are bound by either laws, orders or another form of boundaries that they hold themselves to or limit their actions. Good societies generally frown upon it and Evil may legitimize it.

Chaotic Characters are more lax when it comes to using poisons as whatever gets the job done faster works better (ie, no red-tape bullcrap). Whether or not they are good or evil determines what kind of poison they use and how they use it.

Neutral Characters (on either spectrum) naturally fall in between these extremes.

That about sums up my view on poisons. Thanks for reading.

EDIT: On a side note, I think the reason why this is such a big issue lies in the fact that "Good" purposely limits itself on what it can and can not do. Its not 'fair' or 'equal', its about what is 'Good'. Mechanically, good gets the short end of the stick and I, personally, am completely satisfied with that. Its all about the ideal not the effectiveness. Sure, you can win when you use every method in the world but I feel a better sense of accomplishment if I win without 'fighting dirty'.

TeqSun
2010-11-16, 03:23 PM
Conversly, if you treat zombies and skeletons as mindless automatons ,I choose to have them be the alignment of the one who is controlling them. Is an ordinary sword evil? It can be used for evil, far more then it can be used for good, but it is not in itself evil. If your going to make zombies and skelies do evil when left to their own devices, you should probably give them an intelligence score. Common sense as applied to the rules after all.
I can get on board with this!

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 03:24 PM
Good characters tend to hold themselves to a higher standard than others (sacrifice for others). The use of poison is distasteful and can even be downright abhorrent. Good characters will tend to use poison that is non-harmful (induce sleep/paralyze/etc), if the use of it is justified or a last resort, regardless of who/what it is used against.

Sounds about right.


Evil characters are out for themselves, screw everyone else. If vindictive enough, they can and will use poison to their own ends, especially the harmful kinds that inflict untold agony. Not all evil characters use poison but most, if not all, are willing to do so if it benefits them.

Also fits. Though there might be Evil characters that limit the use of evil acts- only committing them against what they perceive to be "legitimate targets".


EDIT: On a side note, I think the reason why this is such a big issue lies in the fact that "Good" purposely limits itself on what it can and can not do. Its not 'fair' or 'equal', its about what is 'Good'. Mechanically, good gets the short end of the stick and I, personally, am completely satisfied with that. Its all about the ideal not the effectiveness. Sure, you can win when you use every method in the world but I feel a better sense of accomplishment if I win without 'fighting dirty'.

Pretty much. You might have a character who "fights evil with the same tools Evil uses" but they will tend to be at best a "flexible Neutral" and at worst, almost as much a monster as their enemies.

"He who fights monsters must take care lest he thereby become a monster"

and all that.

Eldonauran
2010-11-16, 03:55 PM
Also fits. Though there might be Evil characters that limit the use of evil acts- only committing them against what they perceive to be "legitimate targets".

Absolutely. I was going to extrapolate further and mention that exact situation. I would consider that use of poison to fall within the realm of what a Lawful Evil character would consider.

Lawful use of poison would be against authorized targets. The type of poison used and the intent behind it would throw this into the realm of Good vs Neutral vs Evil. Good = subdue/contain (harmless). Evil = murder/torture/main/etc (harmful poisons). Neutral = subdue/contain/weaken (harmful).


Pretty much. You might have a character who "fights evil with the same tools Evil uses" but they will tend to be at best a "flexible Neutral" and at worst, almost as much a monster as their enemies.

"He who fights monsters must take care lest he thereby become a monster"

and all that.

I agree 100%.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 04:02 PM
I agree 100%.

I occasionally suggest "Evil character who Would Not Harm An Innocent" as a possible subversion of the traditional:

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

evil archetype.

Usually, it's someone who has been victimized, has enormous rage and hatred- but also considerable empathy- the last thing he wants is to be a victimizer of the innocent.

To those who prey on the innocent though, no atrocity is too vile to inflict on them.

Such can make for an interesting Villain Protagonist.

I've seen some people insist that such a character is at worst Neutral though.

Eldonauran
2010-11-16, 04:08 PM
I occasionally suggest "Evil character who Would Not Harm An Innocent" as a possible subversion of the traditional:

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

evil archetype.

Usually, it's someone who has been victimized, has enormous rage and hatred- but also considerable empathy- the last thing he wants is to be a victimizer of the innocent.

To those who prey on the innocent though, no atrocity is too vile to inflict on them.

Such can make for an interesting Villain Protagonist.

I've seen some people insist that such a character is at worst Neutral though.

Like Dexter! I love that guy :smallamused:

I am of the same mind as you, though. Evil at the worst. You can't excuse evil behavior just because it is done to evil creatures. Evil has two enemies, Good and itself. Evil will and often does, prey on itself.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 04:18 PM
The irony is, a "normal" paladin, doesn't actually have a reason in the code, to go after him.

"Punish those who harm or threaten innocents"- but he isn't one of them.

I posted a little sketch in one of the earlier threads-
The characters are a LG paladin (Hero), a LN cleric of an LG deity (Villain), who has launched an inquisition to destroy evil- but also (very regretfully) destroyed innocents along the way- and an LE blackguard of an evil deity (Antihero) who commits evil with great delight and has only one major redeeming feature- a moral compunction against harming or threatening the innocent. The villain has the antihero cornered, and the hero has come on the scene:

Villain: "Ah, brave paladin. Help me punish this vile evildoer."

Antihero: "Yes, I'm a vile evildoer- I do evil and I love it. If you must punish me, get it over with."

Hero: (points at Antihero) "I'm not here for his punishment."

Antihero and Villain: "WHAT?!"

Hero: (points at Villain) "I'm here for yours."

Antihero and Villain: "Why??"

Hero: "Because he may be a vile evildoer..."

Antihero: "Kind of you to say so."

Hero: "Not helping."

Antihero: "Sorry."

Hero: "He may be sadistic and psychopathic..."

Antihero: "Hey, those are my best points!"

Hero: "Not. Helping!"

Antihero: "I'll shut up."

Hero: "Yet in all his sick and twisted career of evildoing, he has never once harmed or threatened the innocent. You. Have."

Hero: (draws weapon, points it at Villain): "Surrender now, and your punishment will be left to the authorities. Otherwise, we fight."

Cogidubnus
2010-11-16, 04:23 PM
The irony is, a "normal" paladin, doesn't actually have a reason in the code, to go after him.

"Punish those who harm or threaten innocents"- but he isn't one of them.

I posted a little sketch in one of the earlier threads-
The characters are a LG paladin (Hero), a LN cleric of an LG deity (Villain), who has launched an inquisition to destroy evil- but also (very regretfully) destroyed innocents along the way- and an LE blackguard of an evil deity (Antihero) who commits evil with great delight and has only one major redeeming feature- a moral compunction against harming or threatening the innocent. The villain has the antihero cornered, and the hero has come on the scene:

Villain: "Ah, brave paladin. Help me punish this vile evildoer."

Antihero: "Yes, I'm a vile evildoer- I do evil and I love it. If you must punish me, get it over with."

Hero: (points at Antihero) "I'm not here for his punishment."

Antihero and Villain: "WHAT?!"

Hero: (points at Villain) "I'm here for yours."

Antihero and Villain: "Why??"

Hero: "Because he may be a vile evildoer..."

Antihero: "Kind of you to say so."

Hero: "Not helping."

Antihero: "Sorry."

Hero: "He may be sadistic and psychopathic..."

Antihero: "Hey, those are my best points!"

Hero: "Not. Helping!"

Antihero: "I'll shut up."

Hero: "Yet in all his sick and twisted career of evildoing, he has never once harmed or threatened the innocent. You. Have."

Hero: (draws weapon, points it at Villain): "Surrender now, and your punishment will be left to the authorities. Otherwise, we fight."

Paladinhood. A calling that makes everyone hate you.

Burner28
2010-11-16, 04:24 PM
Paladinhood. A calling that makes everyone hate you.

Hehehehehe...good one.

WarKitty
2010-11-16, 04:25 PM
To me, the kind of regime that sanctions assassinations is the kind of regime that doesn't really care about law or protecting the innocent. The kind of people who call hits might say they care in public, but the fact that they are willing to order someone killed in a manner that takes away the target's chances to defend themselves says otherwise.

To me that only applies across the board if you assume a modern mentality that assumes most areas are under the rule of law. As far as assassinations go, I'm likely to decide the best course of action is the one that endangers the fewest innocent lives. If I send my soldiers out to a battle where many of them will certainly die, when I could have sent one skilled assassin to off the enemy leader and avoided the whole struggle, I'm morally responsible for the deaths of all those innocent lives I could have spared.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 04:29 PM
Paladinhood. A calling that makes everyone hate you.

Defenders of the Faith, and BoED, both point out that paladin-types can associate with evildoers on a very temporary basis, toward a greater good (as long as they don't turn a blind eye to evil acts).

Chances are, this kind of paladin would actually get on with the Antihero for a while- if the common goal is to protect the innocent and the Antihero agrees to behave with dealing with enemies.

Cogidubnus
2010-11-16, 04:30 PM
Defenders of the Faith, and BoED, both point out that paladin-types can associate with evildoers on a very temporary basis, toward a greater good (as long as they don't turn a blind eye to evil acts).

Chances are, this kind of paladin would actually get on with the Antivillain for a while- if the common goal is to protect the innocent and the Antivillain agrees to behave with dealing with enemies.

Oh I know. I just mean, the Paladin is required to smite the Cleric. But the Blackguard and he are also opposed with Good vs Evil, so y'know, it's a bit of a Catch 22.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 04:33 PM
This is where "try to redeem those that are evil" comes in- the paladin might see the blackguard as especially redeemable, and do their best to discourage them from engaging in cruelty.

Not all punishments have to involve Smiting-

but the LN guy has offended (from the point of view of someone who opposes those who harm or threaten innocents) and needs to be brought in and dealt with in some way- imprisoned for a period, set some kind of penance, etc.

Eldonauran
2010-11-16, 04:34 PM
The irony is, a "normal" paladin, doesn't actually have a reason in the code, to go after him.

"Punish those who harm or threaten innocents"- but he isn't one of them.

I posted a little sketch in one of the earlier threads-
The characters are a LG paladin (Hero), a LN cleric of an LG deity (Villain), who has launched an inquisition to destroy evil- but also (very regretfully) destroyed innocents along the way- and an LE blackguard of an evil deity (Antihero) who commits evil with great delight and has only one major redeeming feature- a moral compunction against harming or threatening the innocent. The villain has the antihero cornered, and the hero has come on the scene:

Villain: "Ah, brave paladin. Help me punish this vile evildoer."

Antihero: "Yes, I'm a vile evildoer- I do evil and I love it. If you must punish me, get it over with."

Hero: (points at Antihero) "I'm not here for his punishment."

Antihero and Villain: "WHAT?!"

Hero: (points at Villain) "I'm here for yours."

Antihero and Villain: "Why??"

Hero: "Because he may be a vile evildoer..."

Antihero: "Kind of you to say so."

Hero: "Not helping."

Antihero: "Sorry."

Hero: "He may be sadistic and psychopathic..."

Antihero: "Hey, those are my best points!"

Hero: "Not. Helping!"

Antihero: "I'll shut up."

Hero: "Yet in all his sick and twisted career of evildoing, he has never once harmed or threatened the innocent. You. Have."

Hero: (draws weapon, points it at Villain): "Surrender now, and your punishment will be left to the authorities. Otherwise, we fight."

I only have one problem with the above sketch. The paladin has to taken both of them in. One is obviously evil and deserves to face the charges to his crime (Antihero) and the other is actively killing innocents (Villian) regardless if he is making that decision reluctantly. It is the paladin's duty to bring the Blaackguard to justice and his sacred mission to stop the Cleric.

Very humorous situation, though. :smallamused:

EDIT: I think you need to read the PHB again :smalleek:. Paladins are NOT supposed to associate with evil characters, ever. He is allowed to adventure with neutral characters as long as they don't continuously offend his moral code.

Burner28
2010-11-16, 04:35 PM
I only have one problem with the above sketch. The paladin has to taken both of them in. One is obviously evil and deserves to face the charges to his crime (Antihero) and the other is actively killing innocents (Villian) regardless if he is making that decision reluctantly. It is the paladin's duty to bring the Blaackguard to justice and his sacred mission to stop the Cleric.

Very humorous situation, though. :smallamused:

Yeah. it could have worked better if the antihero wasn't a blackguard or something.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 04:38 PM
Problem is, "stop others from committing evil acts" or "punish those who commit evil acts", have to be added to the paladin's code, for them to have to take the blackguard in.

They might even not be a criminal at all-

but a representative of a nation that has embraced "Pay Evil Unto Those That Harm the Innocent" so wholeheartedly, as to put torture, and even soul-destruction, into the penal code, and to have legalized Worship Of Evil Gods (specifically, gods of retribution).


EDIT: I think you need to read the PHB again :smalleek:. Paladins are NOT supposed to associate with evil characters, ever. He is allowed to adventure with neutral characters as long as they don't continuously offend his moral code.

Defenders of the Faith suggests that this is supposed to be "on a continuing basis" (allowing for short term emergency cooperation).

and BoED suggests that temporary alliances between Exalted Good and evil beings toward a common goal, are, while dangerous, justifiable.

And the "Paladin Handbook" summary of the Paladin class, in a late Dragon Magazine- states that temporary association with an evil being does not break the code- as long as you focus heavily on redeeming them.


Yeah. it could have worked better if the antihero wasn't a blackguard or something.

It was intented to stress just how far one can go into Evil Deeds, without actually harming the innocent.

being a blackguard isn't absolutely essential though- any character who does major evil deeds, will do.

Aotrs Commander
2010-11-16, 05:17 PM
EDIT: I think you need to read the PHB again :smalleek:. Paladins are NOT supposed to associate with evil characters, ever. He is allowed to adventure with neutral characters as long as they don't continuously offend his moral code.

I think that was an incredibly poor descision on the part of the designers to have that part of the code, as - as the example shows - it cuts out a HUGE chunk of potentially fun roleplaying dilemmas, and the classic Hero/Villain team up situation.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 05:19 PM
I'm guessing that's why Defenders of the Faith mitigated it, and BoED suggested that given a serious crisis, Exalted Good and Evil can work together.

Eldonauran
2010-11-16, 05:29 PM
Problem is, "stop others from committing evil acts" or "punish those who commit evil acts", have to be added to the paladin's code, for them to have to take the blackguard in.

No need to add that to the code. The Paladin is more than just the sum of his code. Faced with a blackguard that has done untold evil acts, even if he spared the innocent, I would be duty bound to bring him to justice for his crimes (ie, trial time).


They might even not be a criminal at all-

Not to be trite, but I am pretty sure that the dark avatar of an evil entity, hell bent on sowing evil on the mortal plane (ie a blackguard) is quite guilty of numerous evil acts and has a very long criminal record. Otherwise, why would the dark entity that fuels his powers even notice the poor soul in the first place?

Whether or not the blackguard has been caught red handed or the paladin has evidence of his crimes is another matter. I was operating under the assumption that the Paladin was aware the blackguard was guilty of ____ (insert crime).

If not, disregard :P

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 05:38 PM
Not to be trite, but I am pretty sure that the dark avatar of an evil entity, hell bent on sowing evil on the mortal plane (ie a blackguard) is quite guilty of numerous evil acts and has a very long criminal record. Otherwise, why would the dark entity that fuels his powers even notice the poor soul in the first place?

Chances are, it worked something like this.

Devils (or other fiendish agents of evil gods) go to person who is, through their extreme hatred of those who harm the innocent, in danger of slipping to The Dark Side (so to speak).

They make him an offer- they'll support him- and all he has to do, is do what comes naturally- exact horrible, horrible vengeance on those he hates.

Person agrees- and becomes a candidate for blackguard through "friendly contact with an evil outsider".

This, to me, makes a lot of sense as a devilish method- why tempt someone to harm the innocent- when you can tempt them to do other evil deeds they won't object to?

just as "Khorne cares not from where the blood flows, all he cares is that it flows"

so "The powers of darkness do not care who evil deeds are done to- all they care, is that evil deeds are done"

If the world is sufficiently GrimDark, torture may not even be a crime. The paladin, may be a nice guy in a dark world, who does his best by the innocent without doing evil deeds along the way- but is fully aware that there are those willing to "sacrifice the innocent in the fight against evil" and those willing to "do evil deeds"-

and focus on his first and foremost job, protecting the innocent and opposing those who harm them.

Eldonauran
2010-11-16, 05:49 PM
Chances are, it worked something like this.

Devils (or other fiendish agents of evil gods) go to person who is, through their extreme hatred of those who harm the innocent, in danger of slipping to The Dark Side (so to speak).

They make him an offer- they'll support him- and all he has to do, is do what comes naturally- exact horrible, horrible vengeance on those he hates.

Person agrees- and becomes a candidate for blackguard through "friendly contact with an evil outsider".

If the world is sufficiently GrimDark, torture may not even be a crime. The paladin, may be a nice guy in a dark world, who does his best by the innocent without doing evil deeds along the way- but is fully aware that there are those willing to "sacrifice the innocent in the fight against evil" and those willing to "do evil deeds"-

and focus on his first and foremost job, protecting the innocent and opposing those who harm them.

Yeah, it looks easy enough. Considering the person is at least 5th level, they are most likely known well enough for word to trickle down to the dark entities that grant that sort of power.

I doubt the dark entities motives, however. A significantly evil person that would take their deal but maintains his resolve to never harm an innocent would be a significant investment on their part with restricted rewarrds. I guess they are gambling that the blackguard will eventually move past the 'killing innocents is unacceptable' phase and become completely evil.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 05:52 PM
I doubt the dark entities motives, however. A significantly evil person that would take their deal but maintains his resolve to never harm an innocent would be a significant investment on their part with restricted rewarrds. I guess they are gambling that the blackguard will eventually move past the 'killing innocents is unacceptable' phase and become completely evil.

I like the idea that they believe that such a character will set an example- leading others into corruption just by other people's knowledge of his existence and actions.

Thus, society slowly becomes more corrupt- punishments of the "deserving" become crueller and crueller, and so on.

"Don't give in to hate! That leads to the Dark Side"

Imagine societies truly and deeply "giving in to hate".

Starbuck_II
2010-11-16, 06:01 PM
Chances are, it worked something like this.

Devils (or other fiendish agents of evil gods) go to person who is, through their extreme hatred of those who harm the innocent, in danger of slipping to The Dark Side (so to speak).

They make him an offer- they'll support him- and all he has to do, is do what comes naturally- exact horrible, horrible vengeance on those he hates.

Person agrees- and becomes a candidate for blackguard through "friendly contact with an evil outsider".


That seems a lot of work for a 2nd level spell. You only need an evil outsider (a lowly lemure can be summoned).

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 06:04 PM
But if you're not a spellcaster already, you can't summon your own Evil Outsiders.

Fiendish Codex 2 does say that devils send out plenty of agents to tempt people toward the ways of evil. They even divide cities up into zones and assign particular devils as supervisors to each zone.

Eldonauran
2010-11-16, 06:06 PM
That seems a lot of work for a 2nd level spell. You only need an evil outsider (a lowly lemure can be summoned).

Yeah, you also need a DM willing to allow that to fulfill the requirements. A lemure? Really? What kind of power does a lemure have? (ie, side note: You also need a DM to allow prestige classes, so this is entirely moot, anyway :smallsmile:)

Callista
2010-11-16, 06:11 PM
No need to add that to the code. The Paladin is more than just the sum of his code. Faced with a blackguard that has done untold evil acts, even if he spared the innocent, I would be duty bound to bring him to justice for his crimes (ie, trial time).I think some people may have the idea that a paladin really is no more than "the sum of his code", and that bugs me; it leads to lots of annoying, unrealistic paladin characters. They play it like the paladin is some kind of a robot following the literal interpretation of the code, unable to think for himself, unable to understand the spirit of the code, unable to generalize it to situations that it doesn't address. But a paladin isn't a robot; he's (supposed to be) a complete person, with a history and a personality and all of that.

So... say you're a Lawful Good aligned person who has a talent for swinging a sword and probably (but not necessarily) a tendency towards religious devotion. You see all the evil in the world and you simply can't sit still and let it happen. You have to do something. That's the Good part.

But here comes the Law axis. You want to plan ahead; you want to have a standard procedure. You probably feel more secure and effective as part of a hierarchy or organized group. You know that you yourself are fallible, and you don't like leaving things to chance. As a LG person, what's your likely response to all of these moral decisions you know you're going to face?

You find a code. You find a group of people whose code you can adopt; or you find a deity whose scriptures can guide you. Failing that, you write your own code, whether that's a single sentence or a whole volume. It's there to help you make decisions, because in the heat of the moment, when split second decisions can mean life or death for the people you're trying to protect, you need to have those decisions made ahead of time. You don't like having to make quick decisions and you don't like being caught off guard. That's the Lawful mindset.

Paladins don't have a code as something to restrict their movements and annoy them while they try to carry out their jobs. They have a code because it's part of who they are to think and plan ahead of time. The code is not meant to be a hindrance; it's meant as a form of support, advice, and help. It's there because a paladin, being Lawful, is the kind of person who wants to know exactly what he believes, what it means for him and those around him, and how to apply it in everyday life.

And when the Code doesn't address an issue? Well, that's where your Knowledge (Religion) skill comes in. You did take ranks in that, didn't you?

Starbuck_II
2010-11-16, 06:13 PM
Yeah, you also need a DM willing to allow that to fulfill the requirements. A lemure? Really? What kind of power does a lemure have? (ie, side note: You also need a DM to allow prestige classes, so this is entirely moot, anyway :smallsmile:)

Telepathy is a good power. Why you mock the Lemure. :smallmad: :smalltongue:

Seriously, they might be non-powerful, but the Prereqs say nothing about a powerful friendly outsider.

hamishspence
2010-11-16, 06:18 PM
I think some people may have the idea that a paladin really is no more than "the sum of his code", and that bugs me; it leads to lots of annoying, unrealistic paladin characters. They play it like the paladin is some kind of a robot following the literal interpretation of the code, unable to think for himself, unable to understand the spirit of the code, unable to generalize it to situations that it doesn't address. But a paladin isn't a robot; he's (supposed to be) a complete person, with a history and a personality and all of that.

True- and both the code, and the D&D definition of Good alignment, seem to focus on the innocent.

That doesn't mean a paladin can't be flexible, and perceive nuances, but "Protect the innocent" and "punish those that harm/threaten them" probably rank higher than other priorities.

They might also vary in their priority list, depending on their deity. A paladin of Tyr might be more interested in punishing the guilty than protecting the innocent.

A paladin of Ilmater might be more interested in protecting the innocent, than punishing the guilty.

And a paladin member of the dreaded Order of Illumination (Complete Scoundrel) might be more concerned with destroying evil, than with the innocent, or with justice.

hamishspence
2010-11-19, 08:00 AM
I only have one problem with the above sketch. The paladin has to taken both of them in. One is obviously evil and deserves to face the charges to his crime (Antihero) and the other is actively killing innocents (Villian) regardless if he is making that decision reluctantly. It is the paladin's duty to bring the Blaackguard to justice and his sacred mission to stop the Cleric.

If the Blackguard's actions are not, technically, criminal, but the Paladin still objects to them- here's a solution.

Follow the Blackguard around and try and intervene if they see him about to commit an evil act.

After all, they're not "together" - they just happen to be going in the same direction. Hence, not associating.

Bonus points- the paladin gets the opportunity to try and convince the Blackguard that what he does is morally wrong- and that those who severely harm the innocent for bad reasons, deserve at most swift, fairly painless death.

Makes for lots of roleplaying opportunity.