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karkus
2012-10-02, 11:53 PM
I know that it must have been debated over thousands of times before, but why is it that undead are inherently Evil? I've talked to my DM about it, and he is completely convinced that this is the case. In fact, every time that I've tried to play a mostly-Good Necromancer, he acts as though I couldn't be more Evil. What are your thoughts and opinions on the matter? I think that it was just a simple way to get players to mercilessly kill critters without feeling bad about it.

Here's what I normally do as a Necromancer, but you don't have to read about it. It's just something that might interest some of you, is all.

I normally use Undead for more practical purposes, sending them on dangerous missions and having hordes of mindless skeletons coming out at night and cleaning up/ doing general janitorial duties around the city. And I'm talking about the jobs that no one wants to do, like sewer-diving. I also would use them as builders, as not having to worry about paying and over-working humanoids can vastly improve production. It's even more useful if you can Awaken them with the spell from Libris Mortis and make them all Experts to craft equipment for the city and Warriors to serve as the army, or even Adepts to serve as supporting spellcasters (I'm pretty sure that they can only be minor NPCs). The main problem is getting the bodies, however. I think that the best way to do so is to go to an abandoned battlefield and Animate them there, with existing equipment, too! Another idea that I heard once was offering a reduction to taxes or other benefits to the civilians if they will donate their bodies when they die. Sure, they might be complaining about "getting the creeps" or whatever, but it's better that they're a little scared for a while than dead when armies invade because there wasn't a surplus of undead soldiers to protect them, right?

That's just what I think that some of the most Utopian societies in D&D should do ^, but I wanted to hear about any opinions that you have about this below.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-03, 12:04 AM
1) Undead armies place too much power and influence in the hands of too few individuals.You could easily end up with a situation where these necromancers decide that they should run things. Also makes the elimination of said necromancers the logical first strike of any would be invader.

2) The gods might object. In a "high divinity" setting this could be problematic. The mere perception of this displeasure could cause religious unrest with or without their direct interference.

3) Causes economic difficulties and social unrest. Whats a working man gonna do when all the jobs are taken by those damnable bonies? Because it wouldn't stop at night soil or sewer diving; not when there is profit to be made.

Vitruviansquid
2012-10-03, 12:20 AM
Either you should clear your character concepts with the DM before you start playing to make sure that your characters jive with his setting or your DM should clear his setting with the players before you start playing to make sure everyone agrees the setting is what they want to play (or, at least so that everyone understands what kind of behaviors are expected of them/their characters)

Kane0
2012-10-03, 12:20 AM
For me (and only me, my DM is like yours :smallfrown:) undead can be evil, but not always. The undead themselves can be split two ways:

1) Non intelligent undead: They have a neutral mindset, much like mindless creatures and most animals, but the fact that they are literally powered by the forces of decay, destruction and enervation pushes them slightly towards the evil.
So they are only just barely evil because of negative energy. If that weren't the case, they would not be any more evil than constructs

2) Intelligent undead: This is where undead earn their bad reputation. Intelligent undead have the capacity to choose and act out their morals, but again the force of negative energy means that the default is more evil that neutral and good. They are not Devils and Demons, but they on average are not Angels or the like. That said, there is very little stopping them from actively pursuing good.
These guys are evil because that's the way they were made, and choose what to do from there.

Edit: One of those things you do to get your bodies is sort of done in Planescape. There is a faction in Sigil called the Dustmen who you can sign contracts to. Signing this contract gets you some gold (50 or so) in exchange for giving them access to your body for animation when you die. And the whole process is legit.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-10-03, 12:20 AM
The reason why it's considered EBULZ is because Necromancers are Always Evil in stereotypical fantasy fiction, and the reason for that is many people are uncomfortable with the idea of messing with dead bodies for any reason, thus anyone who has no reservations about doing so must have something wrong with them. It's not a very good reason, I'll agree.

karkus
2012-10-03, 12:22 AM
1) Undead armies place too much power and influence in the hands of too few individuals.You could easily end up with a situation where these necromancers decide that they should run things. Also makes the elimination of said necromancers the logical first strike of any would be invader.

2) The gods might object. In a "high divinity" setting this could be problematic. The mere perception of this displeasure could cause religious unrest with or without their direct interference.

3) Causes economic difficulties and social unrest. Whats a working man gonna do when all the jobs are taken by those damnable bonies? Because it wouldn't stop at night soil or sewer diving; not when there is profit to be made.

Hmm... you have some good reasons to avoid the matter, aside from #1. I would never put the power of undead in the hands of some mortal shmuck, only using the hierarchy of Spawn-making undead, with me having total control, but even then, it's risky. :smallannoyed: (what with having them be free-willed if any of them are destroyed)

Of course, if I'm doing this in the name of some Death-based deity, that takes care of civilian unrest in #2. I once heard of a deity that focused on using Undead to get cheap labor and whatnot, so I guess that that could be it, but there would still be the threat of "crusading Paladins" trying to rid the world of my army.

And finally, #3 might be the most difficult problem to sort out. There could be people that simply live there, in a Utopian society, as mentioned above, who don't have to work, but then there wouldn't be that much of a reason for me to have them live there (besides being able to cultivate more bodies, however).

Damn... I guess that those are all problems that will be a pain to avoid. :smallsigh: It would make a pretty cool campaign, though, right? Playing either side in this society would be great.

karkus
2012-10-03, 12:32 AM
For me (and only me, my DM is like yours :smallfrown:) undead can be evil, but not always. The undead themselves can be split two ways:

1) Non intelligent undead: They have a neutral mindset, much like mindless creatures and most animals, but the fact that they are literally powered by the forces of decay, destruction and enervation pushes them slightly towards the evil.
So they are only just barely evil because of negative energy. If that weren't the case, they would not be any more evil than constructs

Oh yeah! You talking about Negative Energy reminded me of another thing related to this subject; I was asking my DM about why he thought it was Evil, and he said something about how they are "powered by Evil itself" and I said that it was just Negative Energy, and then he had said back to me that that was why; because of Negative Energy. Then we sort of started talking about how, realistically, Necromantic spells are normally used to create more life (well, unlife, really, but you get the idea). I said that my character probably doesn't give two bits of reanimated flesh about whether or not a specific type of energy harms living creatures. He's not even aiming the energy at everyone; just using it in order to not enslave humans. People die after being electrocuted, and yet we don't say that robots are Evil. In fact, Negative Energy will even "heal" the Undead, so that opens up even more philosophical points to bring up (the +/- Energies).

Craft (Cheese)
2012-10-03, 12:42 AM
And finally, #3 might be the most difficult problem to sort out. There could be people that simply live there, in a Utopian society, as mentioned above, who don't have to work, but then there wouldn't be that much of a reason for me to have them live there (besides being able to cultivate more bodies, however).

Or you could just use the real world as an analogue: The Luddites argued that machinery which could increase worker productivity (here, the undead) would cause mass unemployment and starvation. They believed in destroying technology so workers don't "get replaced."

They were dead wrong, it turns out.

Kane0
2012-10-03, 12:47 AM
@ Karkus

Pretty much agreeing here. In many respects, negative energy is simply a substitute for positive energy as an energy source, except that it is only compatible with undead, much like positive is only for the living.

The essence of evil itself would be the lower planes. Maybe not even a specific plane, but possibly The Grey Waste?

But.
The difference is that the negative energy plane's sole purpose is to suck in and destroy things, it is an endless maw devouring everything. The fact that you can get negative energy away from it is a miracle itself, let alone making any semblance of life out if it. I don't know how that makes undead evil, but hey.

tbok1992
2012-10-03, 12:56 AM
Oh yeah! You talking about Negative Energy reminded me of another thing related to this subject; I was asking my DM about why he thought it was Evil, and he said something about how they are "powered by Evil itself" and I said that it was just Negative Energy, and then he had said back to me that that was why; because of Negative Energy. Then we sort of started talking about how, realistically, Necromantic spells are normally used to create more life (well, unlife, really, but you get the idea). I said that my character probably doesn't give two bits of reanimated flesh about whether or not a specific type of energy harms living creatures. He's not even aiming the energy at everyone; just using it in order to not enslave humans. People die after being electrocuted, and yet we don't say that robots are Evil. In fact, Negative Energy will even "heal" the Undead, so that opens up even more philosophical points to bring up (the +/- Energies).

This is why I like the 4e explaination better. For unintelligent undead they said that the soul is divided up into 2 parts, the soul (essentially the ego and superego and most of you personality) and the animius (The raw id and what keeps your body moving).

When you die the soul splits for The Astral Sea/The Shadowfell while the animus stays and slowly decays. Raising undead is essentially getting the animus moving again to make the body move again in a grotesque parody of life.

This isn't considered necessarily evil, which allows for neutral and even god necromancers, except that without the guiding influence of the soul, the animus-powered undead is a mean, hungry thing, purely driven by Id. So if you want an undead buddy, for the love of god keep it in check.

I'd like the idea of a Paragon Path that can add Positive/Astral Sea Energy to PC-controlled undead to give them some semblance of morality as well as get rid of that pesky Radiant vulnerability, but that's just me.

For Intelligent ones, they say that being isolated from humanity combined with being immortals sort of warps your perspective on other people ,though it's sort of implied that if you can keep yourself sane you'll be well off enough. Which is a whole 'nother can of worms that I'm gonna leave for a different thread to chat about.

Kyberwulf
2012-10-03, 12:57 AM
I think one reason that this is the case. Is people place a premium on dead bodies. You should honor your dead, and let the "sleep" in peace. Lots of societies are this way. So, to get the fodder for your profession, most Necromancers and their ilk had to resort to grave robbing and outright murder to get the necessary things for their experimentation. Before your character came along, there where hundreds maybe thousands of other Necromancers experimenting and gathering data. Not all of them went about this in legal or socially acceptable ways.

On top of that, you face the stigma of corpse desecration. Playing with powers best left to Gods and things like that.

Conners
2012-10-03, 01:09 AM
It is very disrespectful to the dead, to make their funeral remains into tools. As for why it's evil energy--it's simply because no benevolent deity would have anything to do with such immoral use of magic. So, you need to go with the not-so-benevolent side of things.

Saidoro
2012-10-06, 09:13 AM
The Morality of Necromancy: Black and Gray
The rules of D&D attempt to be all things to all people, and unfortunately that just isn't possible if you're trying to make a system of objective morality. By trying to cater to two very different play styles as regards to the moral quandaries of the use of negative energy, the game ends up catering to neither Ė and this has been the cause of a great many arguments for which there actually are no possible resolutions. Ultimately therefore, it falls to every DM to determine whether in their game the powers of Necromancy are inherently evil, or merely extremely dangerous. That's a choice which must be made, and has far reaching implications throughout the game. That's an awful lot of work, and most DMs honestly just don't care enough to be bothered with it, and I understand. Fortunately, we have collated those changes for you right here:
Moral Option 1: The Crawling Darkness
Many DMs will choose to have Negative Energy in general, and undead in particular, be inherently Evil. So much so that we can capitalize it: Evil. And say it again for emphasis: Evil. That means that when you cast a negative energy wave you are physically unleashing Evil onto the world. When you animate a corpse, you are creating a being whose singular purpose is to make moral choices which are objectionable on every level.
That's a big commitment. It means that anyone using Inflict Wounds is an awful person, at least while they are doing it. The Plane of Negative Energy is in this model the source of all Evil, more so than the Abyss or Hell. It's Evil without an opinion, immorality in its purest most undiluted form.
Moral Option 2: Playing with Fire
Many DMs will choose to have Negative Energy be a base physical property of the magical universe that the D&D characters live in Ė like extremes of Cold or Fire it is inimical to life, and it is ultimately no more mysterious than that. An animate skeleton is more disgusting and frightening to the average man than is a stone golem, but it's actually a less despicable act in the grand scheme of things because a golem requires the enslavement of an elemental spirit and a skeleton has no spirit at all.
The Plane of Negative Energy in this model is precisely the same as all the other elemental planes: a dangerous environment that an unprotected human has no business going to.
Read more here (http://dungeons.wikia.com/wiki/Tome_of_Necromancy_(3.5e_Sourcebook)/Morality).

cucchulainnn
2012-10-06, 10:05 AM
i used to be sympathetic to the argument that dead things are not more then inanimate object that used to be animate. then i became an EMT and started encountering dead bodies. i gotta tell ya, that a dead human body is repugnant beyond imagination. it is a lot different then a chicken cutlet in your freezer. the first one i had the misfortune to encounter was a guy who died in his sleep the night before. we could smell him in the living room. i will never forget the stink. it had a nauseating fruitiness to it that i knew was all wrong long before getting to the back of the house where the body was. i was gagging with dry heaves long before i saw the body or even knew he was dead. the guy worked with knew as soon as we walked in the front door and went into the room before me. after telling me i had a moment to prepare myself to go in do our job.

nothing and i mean nothing can prepare you for a dead body until you actually encounter one. did i mention the smell.

since he had died the night before all his blood pooled in his back. coagulating into a brownish, blueish, jelly under the skin at all the low points.

i could go on or maybe post some pictures but i think you get my point. dealing with dead human bodies is a big deal. a very bid deal. any one who tries to pass it off as no different then dealing a porkchop or chicken cutlet either has never dealt with one or has, well i'm not going to go there.

Anxe
2012-10-06, 10:21 AM
It is very disrespectful to the dead, to make their funeral remains into tools. As for why it's evil energy--it's simply because no benevolent deity would have anything to do with such immoral use of magic. So, you need to go with the not-so-benevolent side of things.

That's just taboo to us. Some cultures eat a dead person's body. That's what they see as appropriate. Burning or burying it would be a disgrace to them. I think it's a universal taboo to use someone's skull as a puppet (kind of what necromancy is), but that taboo doesn't need to exist. We can imagine a world without it.

Deepbluediver
2012-10-06, 10:37 AM
@karkus
With regards to the morality question, in a game like D&D, I've never had a problem with creating an objective system of good and evil that declares what alignment some actions are, under the "it just is" heading. To me, these are the rules as stated, like "add your Str bonus to attack roles". If I think some of the rules could be improved I will talk to the DM outside the game, but otherwise I am willing to work within just about any given framework, because it is a GAME and does not need to match up perfectly with your real-life code of ethics.
To me, arguing about the morality system is a lot like arguing in a game of Monopoly that you shouldn't need to pay the Luxury Tax because you're a libertarian.

As far as explaining it, the route we usually took was "Necromancy is unnatural; the anithesis of life. While life isn't always good, necromancy is inherently destructive, and ultimately cannot be put to positive use".
Since I like torturing metaphors, think of necromancy as a giant vat of acid: It might be of great use for scouring clean industrial parts, but if you plunge your hand into it your gonna get burned. (the hand represents your soul)


Channeling negative energy and using spells from the Necromancy school was possible, but dangerous, you really only got called on it if you started generating unlife creations.
Also, it's not like there are no other options (unless you are playing some very houseruled setting). The choice isn't "necromancy or be helpless", you are making the choice to pick necromancy instead of something less vile, like say conjuration for instance.



Read more here (http://dungeons.wikia.com/wiki/Tome_of_Necromancy_(3.5e_Sourcebook)/Morality).

This is proving to be very interesting, thank you for the link.

Conners
2012-10-06, 10:45 AM
@Anxe: I would direct you to the post above yours.

karkus
2012-10-06, 11:18 AM
i used to be sympathetic to the argument that dead things are not more then inanimate object that used to be animate. then i became an EMT and started encountering dead bodies. i gotta tell ya, that a dead human body is repugnant beyond imagination. it is a lot different then a chicken cutlet in your freezer. the first one i had the misfortune to encounter was a guy who died in his sleep the night before. we could smell him in the living room. i will never forget the stink. it had a nauseating fruitiness to it that i knew was all wrong long before getting to the back of the house where the body was. i was gagging with dry heaves long before i saw the body or even knew he was dead. the guy worked with knew as soon as we walked in the front door and went into the room before me. after telling me i had a moment to prepare myself to go in do our job.

nothing and i mean nothing can prepare you for a dead body until you actually encounter one. did i mention the smell.

since he had died the night before all his blood pooled in his back. coagulating into a brownish, blueish, jelly under the skin at all the low points.

i could go on or maybe post some pictures but i think you get my point. dealing with dead human bodies is a big deal. a very bid deal. any one who tries to pass it off as no different then dealing a porkchop or chicken cutlet either has never dealt with one or has, well i'm not going to go there.

Wow. I never really thought of it that way... Well, technically, I did. But only the first part of the story, however. Those were almost my exact thoughts, thinking that it was simply the shell of something else that my character could put to use, but I'll trust you that it isn't the same.

Damn... this really complicates things morally for me, and now I'm not so sure if I can even play the character without thinking about this.

Deepbluediver
2012-10-06, 11:33 AM
Wow. I never really thought of it that way...

I think a lot of people don't.

Personally, I blame Hollywood. We see movies and TV shows all the time where some one gets a life-threatening injury, wraps on a few bandages, and then goes running around like nothing's wrong, or where death is nice and quick and neat, and piles of corpses really just look like people sleeping (or maybe drunk people passed out).

Thankfully I've never encountered a dead body except at a funeral (I don't think roadkill counts). This kind of thing is part of why I made the comment earlier about seperating Good/Evil/roleplay in the game from your personal opinions and experiences in real life.

Saidoro
2012-10-06, 11:54 AM
i used to be sympathetic to the argument that dead things are not more then inanimate object that used to be animate. then i became an EMT and started encountering dead bodies. i gotta tell ya, that a dead human body is repugnant beyond imagination. it is a lot different then a chicken cutlet in your freezer. the first one i had the misfortune to encounter was a guy who died in his sleep the night before. we could smell him in the living room. i will never forget the stink. it had a nauseating fruitiness to it that i knew was all wrong long before getting to the back of the house where the body was. i was gagging with dry heaves long before i saw the body or even knew he was dead. the guy worked with knew as soon as we walked in the front door and went into the room before me. after telling me i had a moment to prepare myself to go in do our job.

nothing and i mean nothing can prepare you for a dead body until you actually encounter one. did i mention the smell.

since he had died the night before all his blood pooled in his back. coagulating into a brownish, blueish, jelly under the skin at all the low points.

i could go on or maybe post some pictures but i think you get my point. dealing with dead human bodies is a big deal. a very bid deal. any one who tries to pass it off as no different then dealing a porkchop or chicken cutlet either has never dealt with one or has, well i'm not going to go there.
:smallconfused: I apologize if I'm misinterpreting this, but are you using your experience as an EMT who had to work with dead bodies to state that people who work with dead bodies are evil?
Yes, I realize the things are disgusting and that you have far more experience with them than I do, but I don't see how this renders a necromancer who raises the dead to work as, let's say, firefighters, so that living people don't have to run into burning buildings, is doing something wrong.

This is proving to be very interesting, thank you for the link.
Yeah, F&K's stuff is rather thoroughly unbalanced for most games but their discussions on more fluff related stuff are really interesting. You might also want to look at The Tome of Fiends (http://dnd-wiki.org/wiki/Tome_of_Fiends_(3.5e_Sourcebook)), The Dungeonomicon (http://dnd-wiki.org/wiki/Dungeonomicon_(3.5e_Sourcebook)) and Races if War (http://dnd-wiki.org/wiki/Races_of_War_(3.5e_Sourcebook)).

NikitaDarkstar
2012-10-06, 11:59 AM
Damn... this really complicates things morally for me, and now I'm not so sure if I can even play the character without thinking about this.

You do realize it is possible to play a necromancer minus the undead, right? Okay, granted it won't be the same type of character (It'll be closer to a blaster/debuffer than a summoner) but it can be done without to much trouble. Heck, my old necromancers reason for not using them very often (and then only the summon undead ones) was "Any two bit, half-assed wannabe can animate a horde of undead." He simply considered himself to good to rely on them.

Of course, if your DM considered ALL negative energy inherently Evil you do have a problem, but if it's only the undead that he dislikes you have some room to maneuver, and if he still argues, remind him that the necromancy school has far more ways to deal with an enemy without killing him or doing permanent damage that the more popular evocation and conjuration schools. (Just be careful when level draining...)

Yora
2012-10-06, 12:03 PM
Though in all fairness, even for people who work with the dead, our perception of corpses in western society is very different from that of most people throughout history. Even the professionals may be well in their 20s when encountering the first corpses. Before hospitals and nursing homes, the sick and old were cared for at home and died there, where their grandchildren and great grandchidren where also living. And you had chickens, rabbits, and maybe pigs in your garden, and those would also be slaughtered right outside the kitchen.
We have meat and loss of loved ones, but we usually do not encounter death in person. Those who do are rare and even though start with it only later in their lives.

I think the reason why undead are evil are actually because they violate the natural order of things. They are a thing that should not be. The creation of undead is a violation of the laws set out by the divine authorities and those who do it defy the gods and defile their creation. As fuzzy as the word Evil is, this is usually considered a very clear case of it.
Also corpses are a source of disease and decay, something we instinctively shy away from. And everything that is scary is atomatically made by the mind into something that is evil.

Ranos
2012-10-06, 12:25 PM
It depends. Are you talking main line D&D, or pathfinder ?
In 3.5 and 4E, undead don't have to be evil at all, so that's a false assumption to make.
In Pathfinder, all undead are evil, bar a single exception in the form of Ghosts, but they're naturally occuring returning spirits, not something necromancers can make. There used to be Juju spirits, but the moment the Pathfinder devs noticed that allowed necromancers to make non-evil undead, they put their foot down hard.


So, in Pathfinder at least :

Mindless undead are vicious, murderous spirits shoved into inert bodies. If freed from a necromancer's control, they'll immediately start slaughtering everything in sight. A necromancer can easily make mindless undead and remain neutral himself, so long as he keeps a tight leash on his mindless undead. Maybe even good if the owner of the desecrated bodies gave their permission.


But sentient undead... Oh boy. Creating a sentient undead automatically turns the original creature to evil. You're forcefully taking a dead soul, desecrating and corrupting it forever with negative energy shenanigans, then shoving it back into its body. Because of the existence of an afterlife, this is a fate infinitely worse than death and any pathfinder necromancer who creates a sentient undead becomes Evil with a capital E.

Gray Mage
2012-10-06, 12:26 PM
One thing to keep in mind is that even True Resurrection isn't capable of bringing someone who has been turned into an undead if the undead isn't destroyed. That implies that undead animation somehow messes with the person's soul, so it's not only the person's "shell".

karkus
2012-10-06, 12:30 PM
:smallconfused: I apologize if I'm misinterpreting this, but are you using your experience as an EMT who had to work with dead bodies to state that people who work with dead bodies are evil?
Yes, I realize the things are disgusting and that you have far more experience with them than I do, but I don't see how this renders a necromancer who raises the dead to work as, let's say, firefighters, so that living people don't have to run into burning buildings, is doing something wrong.

No, he's just stating that it's not exactly what we were thinking of, and that the perception of whether or not it's morally right (not Good/Evil) can change because of that.

It's just that it's not an "empty shell," but rather the remains of an actual person.

Qwertystop
2012-10-06, 12:36 PM
One thing to keep in mind is that even True Resurrection isn't capable of bringing someone who has been turned into an undead if the undead isn't destroyed. That implies that undead animation somehow messes with the person's soul, so it's not only the person's "shell".

Or just that the spell uses the original body if the original body exists, and the body is currently in use.

Gray Mage
2012-10-06, 12:40 PM
Or just that the spell uses the original body if the original body exists, and the body is currently in use.

True Resurrection creates a new body for the creature. If it can bring someone that doesn't even have a body, then why should the original one being in use matter (if it doesn't interfere with the soul, that is)? :smallconfused:

Qwertystop
2012-10-06, 12:45 PM
True Resurrection creates a new body for the creature. If it can bring someone that doesn't even have a body, then why should the original one being in use matter (if it doesn't interfere with the soul, that is)? :smallconfused:

It creates a new body if the original is destroyed. If the original is not destroyed, maybe there's some kind of link. The soul was (probably) in one body for its entire life, after all.

Gray Mage
2012-10-06, 12:49 PM
It creates a new body if the original is destroyed. If the original is not destroyed, maybe there's some kind of link. The soul was (probably) in one body for its entire life, after all.

I don't think it makes a new one only if it's destroyed, otherwise if the body is still around but not in the possession of the cleric it wouldn't work as well.

Qwertystop
2012-10-06, 12:56 PM
I don't think it makes a new one only if it's destroyed, otherwise if the body is still around but not in the possession of the cleric it wouldn't work as well.

Considering that the spell is Touch range anyway, the whole "working-without-a-body" function is pretty messed up as-is.

Gray Mage
2012-10-06, 01:03 PM
Considering that the spell is Touch range anyway, the whole "working-without-a-body" function is pretty messed up as-is.

Agreed. Still, in the description (in the cleric spell list), it says: "As resurrection, plus remains arenít needed." So it seems like there's no need for any part of the body, although it could've been clearer.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-06, 01:13 PM
Hmm... you have some good reasons to avoid the matter

I would never discourage anyone from using an interesting idea. I just think that it helps to recognize the internal contradictions and silliness and either resolve them or use them. Real life is full of daftness and unresolved complexities, conflicts, contradiction and compromises. Properly woven into your work they can give you a richer and more authentic feel, plus plot hooks.


#1. I would never put the power of undead in the hands of some mortal shmuck, only using the hierarchy of Spawn-making undead, with me having total control, but even then, it's risky. (what with having them be free-willed if any of them are destroyed)

That could work. Particularly if this society arose in the aftermath of (and in response to) an undead plague. "The dead have arisen; shares sore. Never underestimate the value of mortal shmucks however, particularly ones with a vested interest in the status quo.


Of course, if I'm doing this in the name of some Death-based deity, that takes care of civilian unrest in #2. I once heard of a deity that focused on using Undead to get cheap labor and whatnot, so I guess that that could be it, but there would still be the threat of "crusading Paladins" trying to rid the world of my army.

Which would make a great foundation for a theocracy. It would also resolve the respect/desecration dilemma if reanimation is a fundamental part of funerary practices. If ones status in the afterlife is dependent on the value of ones service in unlife then people would actually compete for the best positions for their "post mortem employment".


And finally, #3 might be the most difficult problem to sort out. There could be people that simply live there, in a Utopian society, as mentioned above, who don't have to work, but then there wouldn't be that much of a reason for me to have them live there (besides being able to cultivate more bodies, however).

a) People are little better than livestock
b) They import the living and the dead from other countries through raiding, tribute, trade or immigration (because who wouldn't want to live in utopia?).
c)Play on the whole Luddite conflict thing.

Finally a bit of mental Judo for your perusal...

4) Necromancy is forbidden because the gods say so...

However if the gods are themselves evil (or thought of as evil in the necro-Lenninist cannon) then surely necromancy must be good... musant it?

5) If undead violates the natural order of things then that makes them wrong? If the moral purpose purpose of the natural order of things is perceived as either nonexistent or inherently harmful (RE to cause suffering) then anything that violates this is either irreverent or very very good indeed.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-06, 02:39 PM
One thing to keep in mind is that even True Resurrection isn't capable of bringing someone who has been turned into an undead if the undead isn't destroyed. That implies that undead animation somehow messes with the person's soul, so it's not only the person's "shell".

Actually, RAW is self-contradictory on this one.

The spell description says it can't affect undead unless they're destroyed, but the description of the undead type in the MM says that an undead targetted by true res' turns back into a living creature.

Ask your DM.

Qwertystop
2012-10-06, 02:39 PM
Hmm... you have some good reasons to avoid the matter, aside from #1. I would never put the power of undead in the hands of some mortal shmuck, only using the hierarchy of Spawn-making undead, with me having total control, but even then, it's risky. :smallannoyed: (what with having them be free-willed if any of them are destroyed)

So you're saying that to avoid the problem of one person having all the power you'll keep all the power to yourself?

I mean, you may know that you won't abuse it, but other people won't.

blazingshadow
2012-10-06, 02:55 PM
DM doesn't like undead? play with deathless instead. problem solved

Gray Mage
2012-10-06, 02:57 PM
Actually, RAW is self-contradictory on this one.

The spell description says it can't affect undead unless they're destroyed, but the description of the undead type in the MM says that an undead targetted by true res' turns back into a living creature.

Ask your DM.

You are right, I never noticed it before.

It seems that you still can't use True Res the undead is (un)alive but not the target of the spell, though, so the point is somewhat the same.

Grimsage Matt
2012-10-06, 02:58 PM
Eh, negative energy is just as evil as positive energy. Undead are basicly a type of elemental that uses a corpse. Besides, make a feat that pervents you from casting any spell that would create undead, and you'd have a lot of options. might have to do something...

Ravens_cry
2012-10-06, 02:58 PM
Unless the setting explicitly says that making mindless undead does something nasty to the soul of the deceased, I treat them like tools.
A sword is only as evil as its wielder.
In fact, I have a setting where a basically uses them as both a power source (treadmills, lots of treadmills) and as drudge work.
While more Lawful Neutral than Good, it's not a bad place either.
You can only, however, become a citizen if you prove your worth to society as a whole.

Drakevarg
2012-10-06, 02:59 PM
I've never liked the perception of undead-as-evil. They're disgusting, horrid, repulsive, all those other words that say that the use of zombies as manual labor will probably never be acceptable except maybe where the living wouldn't want to work anyway (piling up and burning plague victims, etc), but not evil.

Negative energy isn't evil. It's not against the "natural order of things," a phrase that always annoys me. Decay is a natural part of the cycle. Break things down to make new things with them.

In my settings, the perception of evil spirits is a side effect of the way Styx (the plane of death, negative energy, etc) interacts with Mundum, the Material Plane equivalent. Souls of the dead have a natural tendency to return to the 'echo' of either the place they died or some other familiar location. They perceive Mundum through a sort of veil, obscuring many things from them. So when some idiot wanders into what they still consider their home or worse, starts looting it, they tend to get pissed off. Enough of these encounters and spirits have a reputation for being crazed and vengeful.

Zombies and skeletons are, as mentioned before here, essentially puppets. Disgusting, smelly, and often leaking various decaying fluids, but still just puppets.

Liches and mummies are intelligent, but nonevil, undead. Mummies tend towards Lawful Neutral actually, usually created for the purpose of eternal guardianship. Liches are just people who figured out how to lock their soul in a box. Ghouls and Vampires are the worrisome ones. Both were originally created by evil gods, and need to constantly battle their base urges.

Ghouls were created by a God of Murder as essentially zombies with the soul shoved back into it. Most of the reputation of undead being EVIL and not just "unnatural" comes from them, ravenous, murderous beasts that want to bite your face off for no other reason than that it feels good. Obviously some can fight it, but few do.

Vampires were created by a God of Avarice, which goes a long way to explain their common 'man of wealth and taste' persona. They aren't evil, per say, just always thirsty, and have a tendency to horde wealth much as dragons are prone to (unsurprisingly, the God of Avarice in question was a dragon god). Vampires have a better reputation than ghouls in that sense, and so long as they keep playing the role of the reclusive nobleman in his mountain estate, nobody's gonna grab the torches and pitchforks.

Ravens_cry
2012-10-06, 03:06 PM
Sentient undead that feed upon others I can see as being evil.
Yes, including vampires, but also ghouls and ghasts.

karkus
2012-10-06, 03:08 PM
So you're saying that to avoid the problem of one person having all the power you'll keep all the power to yourself?

I mean, you may know that you won't abuse it, but other people won't.

No; I believe that when I said that, I was referring to the fact that I didn't want nearly everyone who is capable of doing so to rule a different sect of my army.

It's hard to "juggle," but it is possible to have your living followers do just that. However, it's difficulty would mainly come from the view of the Necromancers who control them, possibly thinking that they are entitled to more power and might run off and start their own thing.

So I suppose that I could have the Necromancers swearing their allegiance be Nobles in this city, and have it work out. I might have to re-read The Prince to see what information I can find on the subject...

karkus
2012-10-06, 03:14 PM
Decay is a natural part of the cycle. Break things down to make new things with them.

Yes, but you may notice that that's the problem; that they aren't decaying. Of course, living creatures aren't inherently Evil, and they don't decay either. So it's not a reason that they're Evil, and it's not a reason that they're not Evil. So I guess that the decay/non-decay debate is out of the question. :smallannoyed:

Ravens_cry
2012-10-06, 03:22 PM
DM doesn't like undead? play with deathless instead. problem solved
That's like saying if a DM doesn't like poisons, use ravages instead.
Sure, it fulfils the letter of the complaint, but likely not really the spirit.

Drakevarg
2012-10-06, 03:44 PM
Yes, but you may notice that that's the problem; that they aren't decaying. Of course, living creatures aren't inherently Evil, and they don't decay either. So it's not a reason that they're Evil, and it's not a reason that they're not Evil. So I guess that the decay/non-decay debate is out of the question. :smallannoyed:

Zombies decay. And lots of undead CAUSE decay. But I was referring to negative energy as entropic. My point is that they're not made out of any "evil" element.

Deepbluediver
2012-10-06, 07:42 PM
My point is that they're not made out of any "evil" element.

That's one view, certainly, but as I said before if some one wants to decide that in their games negative energy is inherently evil, then that is also an equally valid option. The link provided by Saidoro on the previous page summarizes the two extremes rather nicely, I think; we have negative energy as just another energy source VS. negative energy as a kind of tangible evil, and the subsequent effects of both.

I like to think that there is room for compromise.
The way I would probably rule it is that negative energy is not in and of itself evil, but since it is the opposite of life (positive) energy, it tends to encourage destructive actions (life is growth, unlife is destruction). A living being can use or utilize negative energy without instantly becoming evil because the positive energy of their life force balances it out and the person's mental fortitude can resist the destructive impulses it engenders. By the same token, an evil individual can use positive energy for healing and the like without undergoing a life-altering epiphany of some sort.

When you create an undead creature though, they have no will and no positive energy to balance out the negative/destructive influences, so you have essentially created "a mad dog on a chain" and that is an evil action. If you keep the undead under control and use them to accomplish only truly and completely good goals, then it probably averages out to neutral.

If a person tries channeling too much negative energy though, they might either start to slip towards the evil end of the alignment spectrum (i.e. a roleplay penalty) or they might take ability drain to their Con/Int/Wis as the continual influx of negative energy assaults their body, mind, and spirit.

Gavinfoxx
2012-10-06, 10:24 PM
You should really really really all read this:

http://dungeons.wikia.com/wiki/Tome_of_Necromancy_%283.5e_Sourcebook%29/Morality

And then make a conscious choice as to which of the two options is true in your campaign.

kieza
2012-10-07, 12:59 AM
I've got a complicated, but detailed position when DMing. First, a little background: in the setting I run, the "soul" comes in three parts: the animus, which contains your goals, the spiritus, which contains your values, and your mentus, which contains your memory and ability to reason.

Naturally occurring undead arise when somebody dies in the process of doing something so important to them that their animus clings to their dying body, or in some cases, lives on as a ghost. (Examples: soldiers killed in a pivotal battle, knights who die before fulfilling an oath, parents killed while their children are in danger). A lingering animus brings with it a varying amount of the mentus, but never any of the spiritus. As such, this kind of undead zealously pursues a goal, but has no moral compass guiding it. (If it came back without a large part of its mentus, it may also be unreasoning--it may not even recognize the end result of its actions, and it wouldn't care anyways.) Anyways, these undead are more dangerous than evil, but they still need to be destroyed for the public safety.

On the other hand, created undead, those raised by necromancers, normally don't have an animus. They may not have a mentus either, if the necromancer didn't install one. They have no moral compass either, and if their creator/controller is negligent or malevolent, they are just as dangerous as independent undead. (The example I give to my players is a necromancer who told his legion of zombies to guard a catacomb, which was then opened years later by a construction crew. The zombies slaughtered the crew, because those were their orders. The necromancer wouldn't have wanted it and couldn't have known it would happen, but because he didn't take precautions for that sort of scenario, he was indirectly responsible for a massacre.) It's possible for a necromancer to create undead thralls ethically (e.g. by using donated bodies), but he still needs to keep a close eye on them because they will obey orders literally and stupidly.

There's a third, rarer kind of undead, the revenant: they are the product of botched or altered resurrection processes, a complete tripartite soul occupying a dead body (or bound to this plane as a ghost). In theory, there is nothing inherently evil about them; they're rare, but there are several confirmed cases of revenants adjusting to their new status and "living" fulfilling "lives" afterwards. However, when the resurrection is improperly handled and a newly-made revenant is left to fend for itself, it often goes psychotically insane from shock. (a la Frankenstein's Monster) Worse yet, evil necromancers sometimes cultivate this insanity in order to create capable undead lieutenants.

Necromancers themselves are also dangerous, because of a slippery slope that many fall prey to: they use dead people to practice their art. Some necromancers (not a majority) start out with the best of intentions, but after years of using dead people as raw materials, they start to see living people as materials as well. Governments and mages' guilds often keep an eye on necromancers, looking out for the early stages of this disassociation before it gets too severe.

TL;DR: Undead and necromancers are not so much inherently evil as they are very dangerous. People don't like them, because even when they have the best of intentions, things tend to go badly wrong around them, and when they already have evil intentions, things become downright horrific.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-07, 01:36 AM
Here's how I've been looking at the matter.

Firstly and most importantly, you have to remember that we're talking about good and evil as they exist in the game. This is not the same thing as morally right or wrong. Good and Evil in D&D are cosmic forces that predate the existence of sentient minds capable of pondering morals. Morality came later and was attached to these forces.

One of the key tenets of Good is the respect for life. Good recognizes creatures that show respect for life and put effort toward preserving it. This creates an undeniable, but not quite direct, link between Good and positive energy. If the enemy of my enemy is my ally, then certainly the enemy of my ally is also my enemy.

On the other hand, Evil recognizes creatures that kill without just cause, whether that lack is a result of the killing being motivated by something other than survival or the cessation of evil deeds or simply because the killing has no motivation.

Mindless undead will, if not controlled, seek out and destroy life. This is the result, I suspect, of positive and negative energies' tendency to attract and anihilate one another as is explosively demonstrated by the invariable occurence upon a xeg-yi and a xag-ya, energons composed solely of those energies given sentience (described in MotP), encountering one another.

Mindless undead are therefore evil, because their existence is defined by a drive to seek out and destroy life for no purpose whatsoever, barring the control of a sentient being. Useful tools though they may be, they are a mockery of life that will destroy life when given the chance. Creating such a being is evil because, in doing so, the creator has knowingly endangered the lives of everyone in the immediate proximity of the creature. He's also shown a callous disregard for the dignity of sentient beings, barring certain cultural setups.

The creation of intelligent undead is, in most cases, worse still. Most intelligent undead have the need to feed on the living. This leaves that unfortunate soul with the choices of being tortured by his hunger, causing suffering to still living creatures, or killing; not to sustain his unnatural life, but simply to ease the hunger or maintain some ability. The person who visited this hell upon another creature is either committing torture every second that undead creature is animate or spreading evil in the world by creating a creature that will invariably do evil for the sake of easing its own pain.

This is how I've made sense of it anyway. YMMV.

Forum Explorer
2012-10-07, 01:51 AM
Told my friend about this thread and we came up with what we thought was a pretty cool concept.


Mindless undead always default to killing the living around them, but are otherwise just tools of a Necromancer.

Intelligent undead are generally evil but exceptions may exist if they chose to be undead as guardian spirits or Liches or something like that.

Using magic wears holes between the Material plane and all of the others. However as most magic is transient these holes are so quickly repaired and so small they have no effect (a fireball lasts about a second.) However Undead are the exception to this as they are both common and very long lasting. Lots of Undead in an area being created created leaks to the Negative energy plane which initially cause spontaneous Undead creation but eventually lead to full out portals to the Negative energy plane.


Now there is a nation whose entire unskilled workforce is basically Undead. Their entire economy depends on these Undead and very rich companies lead by liches make their fortune off raising Undead. Naturally this eventually starts creating large holes to the Negative energy plane and masses of uncontrolled Undead. Eco-terrorists have begun attacking mines and killing all the zombie workers claiming it's the fault of Undead. The Liches naturally claim that this is pure bogus and point out that the country needs it's Undead. The PCs have to decide what to do in this situation.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-07, 01:59 AM
Mindless undead will, if not controlled, seek out and destroy life. This is the result, I suspect, of positive and negative energies' tendency to attract and annihilate one another as is explosively demonstrated by the invariable occurrence upon a xeg-yi and a xag-ya, energons composed solely of those energies given sentience (described in MotP), encountering one another.

Now that is nice, I will have to remember that one.

Remember however that killing is only evil if death is seen as undesirable. As astonishing as it may be throughout much of western history people lived their lives in perpetration for the hereafter. If undeath was viewed as an essential part of that perpetration or as the afterlife itself then undeath and the killing it causes would not be perceived as inherently evil.



The creation of intelligent undead is, in most cases, worse still. Most intelligent undead have the need to feed on the living. This leaves that unfortunate soul with the choices of being tortured by his hunger, causing suffering to still living creatures, or killing; not to sustain his unnatural life, but simply to ease the hunger or maintain some ability. The person who visited this hell upon another creature is either committing torture every second that undead creature is animate or spreading evil in the world by creating a creature that will invariably do evil for the sake of easing its own pain.

For some people this would not present much of a problem. For people with all important long term goals it could be viewed as a necessary sacrifice. For people who either don't care or positively enjoy the suffering the inflict on others this would be no problem at all.

Ravens_cry
2012-10-07, 02:12 AM
I would think people still considered death to be pretty unpleasant; otherwise events like the black plague would be been greeted with at least equanimity, if not enthusiasm.

SiuiS
2012-10-07, 02:34 AM
In a world where nature is a divine force, and gods are proven fact, thee is weight to taboos. Animation of the dead works by vague mechanisms, so I'll leve out negative energy and imprisoned spirits - those are case by case issues, and more world flavor than anything.

Animating a corpse defiles the body. It perverts its place in the natural order o things, purely because you (the necromancer) have the hubris to think you know better than reality. You have tainted another person's rest by objectifying them into a useful tool, ignored the implicit desire to stay dead, wholesome and in their respective religion's good graces, and invoked things best left uninvoked.

In a world where evil and good are not subjective statements but tangible, identifiable energy states complete with their own subsets of matter, animating a corpse is rape, mind control, cursing another an hubristic all at once.

If the DM says these are not true, but that animation is still evil, he has much less of a case. But these are the genre assumptions. Bringing back the dead is Wrong (with a capital W), and is overlooked in the case of resurrection ecause that's actually a ritual where you politely ask the divine powers to reinstate someone's life. The divine is suppose to handle such things, mortals are not.


Remember however that killing is only evil if death is seen as undesirable.

This is not necessarily true. One of the core concepts of alignment, which trickles down to everything it touches, is that it's objective. Ending something else's life is bad. The more sentient it is, the worse it is. You can also accomplish good thereby, but that good does not eliminate the bad. Alignment properties are physical properties; acting in accordance with an alignment propagates its specific radiation, tainting matter. That's the universe, not a subjective, mortal accounting.

Dismissing alignment as such is fine, but it changes the question from "why is undeath evil" to "why is undeath evil when removed from te base assumptions of what undeath, evil, and rhetoric are".

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-07, 03:03 AM
The world may be objective but society and social moored are subjective.

The Gods may say that X,Y and Z (representing necromancy, murder and cheese making) are evil but how do we know this? Because the scripture says so? because the priests say so? or because the gods have told us directly. And even if that is the case who is to say that they are reliable expositors? Do they have access to the universal objective moral truths and if so do they have anything to gain by relating an unvarnished version of it.

There is a difference between what we know IC and what we know OOC. A wizard can't exactly read the evil tag on a spell descriptor now can he?

And then their is how you define evil itself. Is it about intent, action or outcome?

Action:

I raze a skeleton
Necromancy is an evil act
Therefore I have committed an evil act

Intent:

I raze a skeleton to save another life
Lifesaving is a good intent
I have committed a good act.

Outcome:

I raze a skeleton to save another life
It goes on a rampage and slaughters people
Slaughter is evil an evil outcome
I have committed an evil act.

Salbazier
2012-10-07, 03:20 AM
And then their is how you define evil itself. Is it about intent, action or outcome?

Action:

I raze a skeleton
Necromancy is an evil act
Therefore I have committed an evil act

Intent:

I raze a skeleton to save another life
Lifesaving is a good intent
I have committed a good act.

Outcome:

I raze a skeleton to save another life
It goes on a rampage and slaughters people
Slaughter is evil an evil outcome
I have committed an evil act.

All is valid. You commited two evil act and one good act.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-07, 03:34 AM
All is valid. You commited two evil act and one good act.

Raw, he commited one evil act and was responsible for one good act. He may also have been responsible for a second evil act if he still had control of the skeleton he raised when it commited the sensless slaughter. Had he lost control before that point, he wouldn't have been responsible unless he deliberately dropped its control. If his control was broken by an intervening force, it's not his fault the skeleton rampaged, that blame falls on the intervening force and/or the skeleton itself.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-07, 03:44 AM
Shoul've multi-quoted.
Now that is nice, I will have to remember that one.

Remember however that killing is only evil if death is seen as undesirable. As astonishing as it may be throughout much of western history people lived their lives in perpetration for the hereafter. If undeath was viewed as an essential part of that perpetration or as the afterlife itself then undeath and the killing it causes would not be perceived as inherently evil.

RAW, which is what I'm trying to jive with, says that killing, in and of itself, is morally neutral. The motivation for the kill is what determines good or evil. Good is not only okay with, but condones killing if doing so will prevent future acts of evil with a reasonable degree of certainty. It's also okay with killing in self-defence or the harvesting of non-sapient livestock.

It's very definitely not okay with killing for fun, profit, or convenience. This has nothing to do with morality. Morality is a subjective social construct that is related to, but not the same as, the cosmic forces of alignment.


For some people this would not present much of a problem. For people with all important long term goals it could be viewed as a necessary sacrifice. For people who either don't care or positively enjoy the suffering the inflict on others this would be no problem at all.

In the former case you're talking about willing conversion into undeath, the necropolitan template stands out, which would be, depending on the form, morally neutral if all of the various methods weren't explicitly called out as evil. In the latter you're talking about evil characters anyway. Converting to undeath allows them to further their evil in the world. It's the exact opposite of the good done by killing them.

It's very important to remember that morality is always subjective even when alignment isn't, while alignment is objective unless your DM says otherwise.

vegetalss4
2012-10-07, 12:44 PM
The explanation I always have used whenever I have felt the desire to explain why DnD Undead always are evil (from an in-universe perspective) is this:

In DnD, Evil is an objective measurable fact, like gravity or heat, a force and a type of energy in addition to a point of morality. So the reason why Undead are evil, is that they are created and animated using, in part, Evil.
So they are Evil in the same way that a flame is hot, and they will remain so no matter how tight a leash you keep on them and how many good deeds you force them to do - just like the flame will keep being hot no matter what you do with or to it (as long as it isn't destroyed by the process).

This is also why casting the Animate Undead spell is an evil act, but casting Inflict Major Wounds, or Dominate Person isn't- because you are channeling the literal force of Evil to do the first but not the other two. (Which even can explain why you can become evil by doing so repeatable, the act change you to be more like itself.)

This explanation work equally well for all the other spells with questionable alignment types.

Qwertystop
2012-10-07, 01:01 PM
The explanation I always have used whenever I have felt the desire to explain why DnD Undead always are evil (from an in-universe perspective) is this:

In DnD, Evil is an objective measurable fact, like gravity or heat, a force and a type of energy in addition to a point of morality. So the reason why Undead are evil, is that they are created and animated using, in part, Evil.
So they are Evil in the same way that a flame is hot, and they will remain so no matter how tight a leash you keep on them and how many good deeds you force them to do - just like the flame will keep being hot no matter what you do with or to it (as long as it isn't destroyed by the process).

This is also why casting the Animate Undead spell is an evil act, but casting Inflict Major Wounds, or Dominate Person isn't- because you are channeling the literal force of Evil to do the first but not the other two. (Which even can explain why you can become evil by doing so repeatable, the act change you to be more like itself.)

This explanation work equally well for all the other spells with questionable alignment types.

Problem with your explanation: All of the Inflict X Wounds spells channel the same negative energy used in Animate Undead.

Second problem: If I remember correctly, the Plane of Negative Energy doesn't have an alignment trait, unlike the aligned afterlife planes (aka the Outer Planes).

Ravens_cry
2012-10-07, 02:46 PM
Problem with your explanation: All of the Inflict X Wounds spells channel the same negative energy used in Animate Undead.

Second problem: If I remember correctly, the Plane of Negative Energy doesn't have an alignment trait, unlike the aligned afterlife planes (aka the Outer Planes).
I can second this, not to mention spells like Harm or Enervation and Greater Enervation.
Third problem: Several undead, even in Core, are only Mostly Evil (like Mummies and Mummy Lords) or don't have a specific alignment at all, like Ghosts.
My preferred explanation is that Negative Energy is merely an alternate ťlan vital, life essence, an equal and opposite to positive energy, like matter and antimatter.

VanBuren
2012-10-07, 09:12 PM
I tend to attribute it to the particular use of the energy being wrong. That is, there's nothing inherently wrong about channeling negative energy, but the fact that you're brute-forcing it to animate instead of decay, and forcing it to poorly mimic the function of positive energy. Why, if the body had any capacity to recognize pain, I imagine the experience would be excruciatingly painful.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-07, 11:34 PM
I actually made a homebrew/guide once for a friend of mine to give to his players that added restoration and healing spells to the necromancy school for even wizards and sorcerers to use, such as revive, cure wounds, restoration, heal, etc. And, that aside, I also theorized a reason for WHY the world fears and hates all necromancers and considers them so 'inherently evil" despite there goals.


First off, I consider necromancy as being a school of magic that governs over all forms of life and death, evenly, and that it is almost a "cousin" to evocation, as you are calling forth a raw type of energy from another plane to do your bidding, but mastering negative and position energy requires much more sophisticated study and rituals to pull off. And to top it off, positive energy was NOT good, and negative energy was NOT evil; they are only primal forces of the universe - growth and decay. The grim reaper is not evil because he takes life, it is the cycle of the universe.

Positive and negative energy were both natural energies in the mortal realm, just like the other elements. All matter in existence generates positive and negative energy - as a human ages, even there skin flakes, blood, urine, etc, shed 'negative' energy due, while a newborn baby would radiate with positive energy. Even flora and fauna produce it in a steady stream.

Undead were essentially what happens when you infuse a mix of positive and negative energy inside a corpse, whereas pure negative energy would obliterate a corpse, and pure positive energy would revive it - but it would require vast amounts of pure negative/positive energy to perform such actions, so mixing smaller/impure doses of the two is easier. Undead who create spawn do so not by disease, but by "sharing" there twisted mix of energy within the creatures body to spread when they die - the sudden blast of negative energy a dead body begins to shed upon its death is what kick starts this "seed" of unlife.

(Consider undeath = using a antibiotic to resist death, like one would use a trace of the snakes poison in an antidote to fight snake bites.)

Now, for why it would be hated and feared/outlawed/etc; Churchs and Gods. Necromancy is the school of life and death, and undeath, and it gives mortals the power over life and death... the god's so called domain. Good, evil, neutral, nature, whatever god's would of course be jealous of simple mortals holding sway over the cycle of life, reviving the fallen, etc - it would draw worship away from the gods as mortals would control there own fates and no longer need to pay homage to a higher power to protect there souls/lives/afterlife, and thus there sustenance via worship would dwindle. So the gods branded necromancers an abomination, god deities sent "crusades" and paladins against any necromancer, good or evil, to silence there practice and burn all evidence of its existence. I theorized that is why the healing bit of necromancy 'faded' with history - the gods did not care about it killing things, but they fear of its positive side robbing them of there control over life. So essentially necromancers faced a cosmos-spanning divine-inspired witch hunt, like the catholic church did to witchs back in the old days by spreading rumors they dealt with "demonic spirits", etc and outlawed them to protect themselves. (Interesting history, look it up)

(EDIT: On a side note, this could also be why settings are frozen in time technology-wise, as the gods fear mortals gaining power over science/intelligence/etc which would slowly make mortals not care about the gods. No need to prey to the goddess of the sea for a safe voyage if you can use a weather machine to make it calm sailing the entire trip!)

Oh, and obviously, healing magic from clerics = conjuration (Drawing from the god itself) and arcane healing magic = necromancy (life/death control). Keep this stuff in mind, would be fun to pop into a campaign for one of your necro players. Finding a stash of ancient necromancy stuff that draws the gods ire and all.

Thoughts?

Coidzor
2012-10-07, 11:37 PM
I started working on my own stuff, then found the Tome of Necromancy basically summed up about as much as I was going to and then some, so I stopped working on developing my own opinion on the matter save for where I differed from the work.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-08, 02:06 AM
If one where to reject and renounce the gods, alignment, divinely revealed morality and all other outsiders then necromancy would be a vital tool in the arsenal.

It grants a society control of its moralities control over their own afterlife. Broken free from the tyranny of the alignment system men are free to decide for themselves what is right or wrong, free to decide their own destinies. The long term goal could be first the liberation of the mundane from outside influence and then the storming of the golden gates and the cleansing of the deepest pits; casting all outsiders to the shadows of the beyond.

I envisage a society where a part of the soul is bound to an artifact (be it a building, monument, weapon, jewel or warforged golem armor). This binds the rest of the spirit to this world, forcing the person into a cycle of reincarnation centered on their artifact/phalactry. During each life the soul is rebound to the artifact (or to another) making the object more powerful. Perhaps in the long run the object awakens and the (or an) individual is completely bound within. I imagine that for large objects like ships, fortresses or cities many people can be bound in and of them.

"This place ...this place is sacred. Everyone who loved it, everyone who lived it, who died for it, who shed blood sweat and tears for it has left a part of themselves here. It is our ancestors legacy to us, our legacy to the future. Tread carefully stranger, for you are treading on our souls."

Jane_Smith
2012-10-08, 02:23 AM
And THAT is what the gods fear. Imagine a society who did not just forsake them, but grew just as powerful and immortal as any divine being, and hunted the selfish/tyrants of outsiders. Makes necromancy a lot more interesting then "LOL NECROMANCY IS EVIL PERIOD" bland stereotype, now its suddenly the key to freeing mortal races from the chains of divine mandate and heavily regulated and feared by religious fanatics around the world, and has a sense of depth to it and its history. Juicy fluff is yummy. Non-evil necromancy/healing would even make an interesting type of Lich - distancing itself from civilization when they easily have the magic to blend in, to act as a librarian of the hidden facts of healing/necromancy and preserve it? Pc's would be in for an odd surprise after a nasty battle to find themselves fully healed in a lich's lab and being offered tea and biscuits. :smallbiggrin:

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-08, 02:43 AM
If one where to reject and renounce the gods, alignment, divinely revealed morality and all other outsiders then necromancy would be a vital tool in the arsenal.

It grants a society control of its moralities control over their own afterlife. Broken free from the tyranny of the alignment system men are free to decide for themselves what is right or wrong, free to decide their own destinies. The long term goal could be first the liberation of the mundane from outside influence and then the storming of the golden gates and the cleansing of the deepest pits; casting all outsiders to the shadows of the beyond.

I envisage a society where a part of the soul is bound to an artifact (be it a building, monument, weapon, jewel or warforged golem armor). This binds the rest of the spirit to this world, forcing the person into a cycle of reincarnation centered on their artifact/phalactry. During each life the soul is rebound to the artifact (or to another) making the object more powerful. Perhaps in the long run the object awakens and the (or an) individual is completely bound within. I imagine that for large objects like ships, fortresses or cities many people can be bound in and of them.

"This place ...this place is sacred. Everyone who loved it, everyone who lived it, who died for it, who shed blood sweat and tears for it has left a part of themselves here. It is our ancestors legacy to us, our legacy to the future. Tread carefully stranger, for you are treading on our souls."
This is certainly an interesting alternative to the default setup. I'd give that setting a go.

And THAT is what the gods fear. Imagine a society who did not just forsake them, but grew just as powerful and immortal as any divine being, and hunted the selfish/tyrants of outsiders. Makes necromancy a lot more interesting then "LOL NECROMANCY IS EVIL PERIOD" bland stereotype, now its suddenly the key to freeing mortal races from the chains of divine mandate and heavily regulated and feared by religious fanatics around the world, and has a sense of depth to it and its history. Juicy fluff is yummy. Non-evil necromancy/healing would even make an interesting type of Lich - distancing itself from civilization when they easily have the magic to blend in, to act as a librarian of the hidden facts of healing/necromancy and preserve it? Pc's would be in for an odd surprise after a nasty battle to find themselves fully healed in a lich's lab and being offered tea and biscuits. :smallbiggrin:

Necromancy isn't evil, the creation of undead is. Unfortunately for most necromancers, the creation of undead is generally percieved as the most iconic use of necromancy.

Also, a very important point that I already mentioned, but will reiterate because of its paramount importance; the gods don't decide what's good, evil, lawful, or chaotic. Those alignments represent cosmic forces that are completely independent from any sentient being. The gods sprang from the raw stuff of these forces. Good and Evil made their gods, those gods didn't decide squat and can't change the rules even if they want to. Blighted marsh's society would very much see the "elevation" to lichdom as morally correct, and their necromancers would be in the right as far as their fellows are concerned. The cosmic force of good still won't recognize their actions. The resultant liches probably won't be evil either though. Naturally, if you don't use the default alignment system this all goes right out the window.

The division between alignment and morality seems to be a difficult concept for many to grasp. It may help to think of it in terms of red team/blue team rather than good team/evil team.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-08, 03:00 AM
The cosmic force of good still won't recognize their actions. The resultant liches probably won't be evil either though.

Doesn't mater if its good or evil in this case. On the alignment system such a societal would fall off of the axis, sit in the middle or oscillate widely from one side to the other. Trying to be a Neizchien ubermenchen society does that. Why should they define or limit themselves to the cosmic accursed alignment system? This would make them a very tempting target for both the red and blue teams (as well as the purple, orange and maroon teams)

I rather think that the cosmic forces of good, evil and/or blancmange would go to great length to eradicate such a society whatever its alignment is or is not. Its just good business to stamp out threat.

Free your mind, free your soul!

I have got this scenario in my head of a group of adventurers exploring an ancient haunted ruin for their gods, to release the souls bound there. Turns out the city was a necropolis, its people slaughtered at the gods orders and the souls are very happy where they are thank you very much.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-08, 03:12 AM
Doesn't mater if its good or evil in this case. On the alignment system such a societal would fall off of the axis, sit in the middle or oscillate widely from one side to the other. Trying to be a Neizchien ubermenchen society does that. Why should they define or limit themselves to the cosmic accursed alignment system? This would make them a very tempting target for both the red and blue teams (as well as the purple, orange and maroon teams)

I rather think that the cosmic forces of good, evil and/or blancmange would go to great length to eradicate such a society whatever its alignment is or is not. Its just good business to stamp out threat.

Free your mind, free your soul!

I have got this scenario in my head of a group of adventurers exploring an ancient haunted ruin for their gods, to release the souls bound there. Turns out the city was a necropolis, its people slaughtered at the gods orders and the souls are very happy where they are thank you very much.

I like it. :smallamused: I'm also seeing it as a haven for binders?

In any case it's a wonderful setting to highlight the division between morality and alignment. Now that I understand your meaning better, I'd definitely play in that setting. I love it when a game makes use of these complexities instead of glossing over them.

Btw, I'm guessing purple and orange are law and chaos, but who the devil is the maroon team?

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-08, 03:30 AM
I like it. :smallamused: I'm also seeing it as a haven for binders?

In any case it's a wonderful setting to highlight the division between morality and alignment. Now that I understand your meaning better, I'd definitely play in that setting. I love it when a game makes use of these complexities instead of glossing over them.

Binders? sorry but that dosen't ring any bells. It is people whose souls are natural bound to the material plain? In which case that would be the whole point. Or is it people who bind things, it which case why do they need a haven?


Blighted marsh's society would very much see the "elevation" to lichdom as morally correct

The idea is to create an artificial cycle of reincarnation. The occasional liche would either be be an unfortunate side effect or an enormous personal sacrifice for the greater benefit (not good, taboo word in this society)



Btw, I'm guessing purple and orange are law and chaos, but who the devil is the maroon team?

Joke... there is no maroon. (or perhaps we are the maroon; resistance is futile)

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-08, 03:50 AM
Binders are a base class in Tome of Magic. The default fluff has them persecuted by faiths on all sides because it gives access to a form of magic that requires neither faith nor great understanding of arcane theory, thus allowing people to gain power from a source other than the gods, that the gods have no control over, with fairly minimal effort.

While the gods themselves haven't officially weighed in on the matter, several of the various churches seek the abolishion of all binding practices and an organization was formed by three churches, that would otherwise be at each others' throats, to suppress it.

The irony of this being that clerics and wizards are still far more powerful than any binder of the same level, meaning that the practice probably doesn't really concern the gods overmuch to begin with.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-08, 04:31 AM
Effectively the world did the same thing as my theory of "gods vs. necros" and did a collective cosmos witch hunt against binders, as they bound the spirits of creatures that (many of which) the gods removed from existence, or the fragments of dead gods to themselves just because the church/etc said "LOL THEY EBIL" and thus it was so. There was even one spirit that is the soul of a powerful paladin who became a general of hell, then betrayed both sides and was neither accepted by hell or heaven. So, evil and good gods alike have cause to hunt binders who let him hitch a ride in there bodies.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-08, 04:41 AM
Two possible takes on this.

1) The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Binders would be given refuge simply because the gods/infernals' hunt them. Those who contain the fragments of dead gods may also carry with them the secrets of how to kill a god.

2) They are a form of native outsider. The will be ostracized or eliminated.

Remember that new/underdog dose not necessarily equal nice. Being beyond or outside good and evil leaves one without a magnetic north on ones moral compass and you might very well end up in some strange territory.

SiuiS
2012-10-08, 05:08 AM
The world may be objective but society and social moored are subjective.

The Gods may say that X,Y and Z (representing necromancy, murder and cheese making) are evil but how do we know this?

We know that necromancy, murder and cheese making are evils of a specific religion because that religion says so. However.
We know that necromancy and cheesemaking are unaligned in themselves, and that murder is evil, because necromancy and cheesemaking do not have any immediate effects, whereas murder makes you radioactive, and that radiation is detected as evil by Detect Evil and its ilk. it has nothin to do with gods.



There is a difference between what we know IC and what we know OOC. A wizard can't exactly read the evil tag on a spell descriptor now can he?

Actually, yes, he can. Detect good and detect evil show you the residue from goodness and evilness respectively. Doesn't magic resonate stronger on that scale than a mortal does? Having such a spell active and casting deathwatch would confuse a wizard, but he would know that for whatever reason it registers as evil. Or worst case scenario, he would have to watch someone else cast it and make a spot check, arcana check and religion check.


And then their is how you define evil itself. Is it about intent, action or outcome?

Personally, I say all three but that's neither here not there.
In universe, evil is defined by being recognized as evil. Just like we can recognize light when we see it, sound when we hear it. Magic can grant you the ability to perceive the presence an lack of evil. Across all cultures, all magic systems, all universes. There is an objective, scientifically verifiable definition of Evil. It's like gravity, or unicorns. You don't have to believe for it to exist.


Let's see if I can illustrate my take.

Action:

I raze a skeleton RAW: evil act
Necromancy is an evil act RAW: neutral/unaligned act
Therefore I have committed an evil act Evil+Neutral=evil

Intent:

I raze a skeleton to save another life RAW: evil act
Lifesaving is a good intent RAW: good act
I have committed a good act. good+evil=mostly good, though the save counts once, and you're responsible for whatever the skeleton does from now on;
Alternately, good+evil=evil, as murder is a lesser crime than rape; saving a life is not equal to defiling the body into impurity

Outcome:

I raze a skeleton to save another life RAW: evil act
It goes on a rampage and slaughters people RAW: evil act
Slaughter is evil an evil outcome
I have committed an evil act. Yup!


The explanation I always have used whenever I have felt the desire to explain why DnD Undead always are evil (from an in-universe perspective) is this:

In DnD, Evil is an objective measurable fact, like gravity or heat, a force and a type of energy in addition to a point of morality. So the reason why Undead are evil, is that they are created and animated using, in part, Evil.
So they are Evil in the same way that a flame is hot, and they will remain so no matter how tight a leash you keep on them and how many good deeds you force them to do - just like the flame will keep being hot no matter what you do with or to it (as long as it isn't destroyed by the process).

This is also why casting the Animate Undead spell is an evil act, but casting Inflict Major Wounds, or Dominate Person isn't- because you are channeling the literal force of Evil to do the first but not the other two. (Which even can explain why you can become evil by doing so repeatable, the act change you to be more like itself.)

Yes, except you're crossing lines. Animating the dead is not evil because of negative energy; it is evil for other reasons and happens to use negative energy. Guns use zinc, and vitamins use zinc. If guns are evil, vitamins are not evil for having the same component, after all.


Problem with your explanation: All of the Inflict X Wounds spells channel the same negative energy used in Animate Undead.

Second problem: If I remember correctly, the Plane of Negative Energy doesn't have an alignment trait, unlike the aligned afterlife planes (aka the Outer Planes).

Undeath is not evil because of negative energy. Undeath is evil, and happens to involve negative energy. This is an obfuscation more than anything.


If one where to reject and renounce the gods, alignment, divinely revealed morality and all other outsiders then necromancy would be a vital tool in the arsenal.

It grants a society control of its moralities control over their own afterlife. Broken free from the tyranny of the alignment system men are free to decide for themselves what is right or wrong, free to decide their own destinies. The long term goal could be first the liberation of the mundane from outside influence and then the storming of the golden gates and the cleansing of the deepest pits; casting all outsiders to the shadows of the beyond.

I envisage a society where a part of the soul is bound to an artifact (be it a building, monument, weapon, jewel or warforged golem armor). This binds the rest of the spirit to this world, forcing the person into a cycle of reincarnation centered on their artifact/phalactry. During each life the soul is rebound to the artifact (or to another) making the object more powerful. Perhaps in the long run the object awakens and the (or an) individual is completely bound within. I imagine that for large objects like ships, fortresses or cities many people can be bound in and of them.

"This place ...this place is sacred. Everyone who loved it, everyone who lived it, who died for it, who shed blood sweat and tears for it has left a part of themselves here. It is our ancestors legacy to us, our legacy to the future. Tread carefully stranger, for you are treading on our souls."

This sounds like it has more to do with incarnum than with anything involving necromancy as it exists in the game. Pretty neat concept though! :smallsmile:



Necromancy isn't evil, the creation of undead is. Unfortunately for most necromancers, the creation of undead is generally percieved as the most iconic use of necromancy.

Also, a very important point that I already mentioned, but will reiterate because of its paramount importance; the gods don't decide what's good, evil, lawful, or chaotic. Those alignments represent cosmic forces that are completely independent from any sentient being. The gods sprang from the raw stuff of these forces. Good and Evil made their gods, those gods didn't decide squat and can't change the rules even if they want to. Blighted marsh's society would very much see the "elevation" to lichdom as morally correct, and their necromancers would be in the right as far as their fellows are concerned. The cosmic force of good still won't recognize their actions. The resultant liches probably won't be evil either though. Naturally, if you don't use the default alignment system this all goes right out the window.

The division between alignment and morality seems to be a difficult concept for many to grasp. It may help to think of it in terms of red team/blue team rather than good team/evil team.

It's the terms used. Good and evil are inherently moral terms. Using them as something only tertiary to morality is weird. Especially since they go or way but not the other; all Good things are good, but not all good things are Good. it's counter intuitive when viewed as anything but universal resonance.

I feel the need to say; I don't rightly care one way or the other. Games were undead are not evil are fine. I just want to disavow the notion that it doesn't make sense. It does make sense. It's just not always in line with most people's sensibilities. Modern folks find concepts like the sanctity of the body weird.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-08, 05:16 AM
Two possible takes on this.

1) The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Binders would be given refuge simply because the gods/infernals' hunt them. Those who contain the fragments of dead gods may also carry with them the secrets of how to kill a god.

2) They are a form of native outsider. The will be ostracized or eliminated.

Remember that new/underdog dose not necessarily equal nice. Being beyond or outside good and evil leaves one without a magnetic north on ones moral compass and you might very well end up in some strange territory.

Binders are not a race, and IIRC they don't become native outsiders at 20.

The vestiges, those beings that give them power, are morally and ethically neutral, or would be if they actually could be stat'ed out. They technically don't exist within the comsology proper, and can only interact with reality through the binding ritual and their host. This lack of proper existence is why the gods can't effect them.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-08, 05:41 AM
whereas murder makes you radioactive

Nice one. I'll have to remember that line. But in all seriousness the alternate interpretation is the "omniscient" gods hang some kind of mark of Cane around the murders neck that the detect evil pings off of. Tags which could be easily applied to heretics such as necromancers or indeed cheese mongers.


Binders are not a race, and IIRC they don't become native outsiders at 20.

The vestiges, those beings that give them power, are morally and ethically neutral, or would be if they actually could be stat'ed out. They technically don't exist within the comsology proper, and can only interact with reality through the binding ritual and their host. This lack of proper existence is why the gods can't effect them.

K, So binders would be haled as profits and harbingers of the time when all outsiders are reduced to vestiges.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-08, 05:52 AM
Raising the dead is only an evil act to our society, that does not make it actually an evil act. Its like the bosmer in the elder scrolls series: they eat the flesh of there dead elders so they can live on with them and carry on. Does that make them evil? To the empire? Maybe. To the bosmer culture? No. To the cosmos? It does not give the tiniest amount of ****s, not even one. Its completely objective, so saying "undead is evil" has no solid grounds besides a spell descriptor that was placed by the makers of a game who set out to make necromancy just another "villian spell set" - the game is flawed in many cases, ESPECIALLY alignment, and its up to us as players and dm's to fix it and mend it, not just blindly follow greyhawks/cores "FLAVOR" that says hur dur undead are innately evil - as thats fluff and not 100% subject to whatever setting we play (Besides greyhawk).

Think of it this way. A fighter kills a bandit in self defense and takes his sword and maybe some healing potions to patch up the damage the bandit inflicted. A necromancer kills a bandit in self defense and raises his now empty/soulless corpse as a tool to protect him from future bandits. A cleric helps a group of players plunder a tomb to a ancient and forgotten god and loot the belongings of long dead ancestors. A ranger uses poison on a orc war parties food stock to prevent them from being able to raid a nearby farming community, thus preventing pillaging/murder/rape. A rogue uses blackmail to keep a corrupt noble from passing a law that would allow him to imprison anyone he wishes at any time for torture or worse under "suspicion" of crimes. A warlock had his soul sold by his parents while still in the womb for infernal powers, rebelled against his fate over time and led a rebellion against a tyrannical nation with the power of hellfire, leading thousands to freedom and peace. A druid's clan deep in the wastelands is suffering from famine, and its a time of war, she kills her enemies and holds feasts for her clan to feast on there corpses to save them from hunger.


Cosmos Effects of Actions (Unbias of any cultural influence)

Using Negative Energy: Neutral.
Why: Its just an energy like heat or cold, everything in the world sheds some of it, its part of the material plane. Death is not evil.

Using Positive Energy: Neutral.
Why: Healing can be used to keep someone alive for torture/etc and prolong there suffering. Life is not good.

Raising a Corpse: Neutral.
Why: Animating a suit of armor or table is not evil. Raising a corpse, like forging a sword, should have the actions the wielder performs with it tested. Are blacksmiths considered evil for taking ore out of the earth, melting it down, and giving it to a soldier who may one day use it to kill a innocent man? No. Is the blacksmith a hero for making a sword that a paladin uses to save the world? No. A corpse is an object, a soulless object that feels nothing and is nothing but an empty shell that feels hunger pains due to the negative energy within it. If a sword suddenly sprouted legs, arms, and who's only desire was to kill as it was created to do, would it be evil? No, so why should an undead creature who necromancers have specifically made over the eons to protect them from other living people or monsters be any different? It's like some breeds of dog - they were DESIGNED for aggressiveness for there job, it doesn't make them "evil".

Using a Poison: Neutral.
Why: Poison is only considered "dishonorable" because like guns, peasants or untrained peons can kill a trained master of swordsmanship or magical demigod wizard with a vial of liquid brewed from some backwoods mushroom. It is not evil - its no more evil then cutting a mans arm or leg off in the heat of battle. If you have to fight, the very act of fighting and combat brings suffering, so saying "poison causes suffering and thus is evil", is pointless and outright ignorant. So its only considered evil out of stigma of "fair play" by the guys who wasted there lives beating dummies with a sharp stick. Is a druid or ranger evil for using a natural element in there territory to defend themselves or as a tool of the trade they have easy access to? Hell no. There is a saying that fits perfectly for this - guns don't kill people, people kill people. The action performed with it should be judged evil/good, not the item itself.

Murder: Neutral.
Why: Is an animal considered evil or performing an act of evil if it kills another animal to gain mates, food, or territory? Nope. Is an animal considered evil if it kills a human in self defense? Nope. Is a king who orders his army to conquer new lands to expand his territory to feed his ever-growing population evil? Maybe, but not inherently, according to how he handles it. Like anything else, murder is a tool, and how its performed and used should determine its evil/good; someone who kills anyone just for money can even have good reasons, say if that money goes to an orphanage, but someone who just kills for fun is truly evil, and somewhat twisted.

Now, things that are truly evil? Senseless crimes that benefit nobody but the attacker/offender. Even good can come from cruel acts like torture, blackmail, lying, stealing, murder, etc IF IT HAS a "ends justify the means" - it has to have some reasoning for the action. The reason should determine the good/evil axis of the action, NOT the action itself.


So yeah, I hate when people just say 'X is evil, period", it makes no sense, and I would not want to be in any setting where alignment is so concrete and black/white, as it is rather bland and boring.

And remember folks, evil means an intent to cause suffering, pain, misery, torture, unhappiness, etc for personal pleasure or selfish gain. A zombie does not gain any pleasure from killing or even eating another human - that is just the bane of life/decay within it, and negative energy is just a natural element of the world/cycle of life and death, so none of its actions or its source of unlife is evil in the truest sense. Now, the necromancer telling the zombie to kill a human for fun or money to buy his next +1 ring of protection... now THAT IS an evil act, on the necromancers part, not the zombies - its just a item like a sword at that point.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-08, 05:57 AM
Nice one. I'll have to remember that line. But in all seriousness the alternate interpretation is the "omniscient" gods hang some kind of mark of Cane around the murders neck that the detect evil pings off of. Tags which could be easily applied to heretics such as necromancers or indeed cheese mongers.You could interpret it that way, but it doesn't really jive with the existing lore.

K, So binders would be hailed as prophets and harbingers of the time when all outsiders are reduced to vestiges.

Nice. Though not all vestiges started out as outsiders. Leraje for example was an elf, and Andromalius was, I think, human.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-08, 06:09 AM
Sorry for the massive rant, I get a bit to heated about "x is evil" alignment debates after a past issue of getting +evil alignment because I used poison to kill a owlbear (despite killing it swiftly and the poison being resisted anyway, and for the sake of protecting a farmer and his daughter). Silly dms are silly. :smallmad:

Andreaz
2012-10-08, 06:13 AM
For me (and only me, my DM is like yours :smallfrown:) undead can be evil, but not always. The undead themselves can be split two ways:

1) Non intelligent undead: They have a neutral mindset, much like mindless creatures and most animals, but the fact that they are literally powered by the forces of decay, destruction and enervation pushes them slightly towards the evil.
So they are only just barely evil because of negative energy. If that weren't the case, they would not be any more evil than constructs
The rules are contradictory there, though. Being powered by negative energy does not make you evil, nor is negative energy evil, nor is a mindless creature allowed to have any alignment. So that "evil" in the alignment tag? It's illegal.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-08, 06:20 AM
I like the idea of the forces of good and evil being opposed by cultural and political differences, but not opposite.

So good uses positive energy and evil uses negative. These are opposed and cancel each other out. There is nothing inherently evil or good about them, they are merely tools.

The forces of good favor actions certain actions, they also approve of actions that favor themselves. In this they are no different than the forces of evil. Alignment is connected to morality by opposition and cultural convention only. Necromancy is evil because the forces of evil have a proprietary interest over it

Both sides wish to control the mortal world for their own ends, they both desire souls. All sides in their interminable war shamelessly commit and expect their followers to commit horrific acts against the other; they take pride in this and umbrage to those who object.

Its no wonder that my Necrotheists want to do away with them all.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-08, 06:25 AM
Raising the dead is only an evil act to our society, that does not make it actually an evil act. Its like the bosmer in the elder scrolls series: they eat the flesh of there dead elders so they can live on with them and carry on. Does that make them evil? To the empire? Maybe. To the bosmer culture? No. To the cosmos? It does not give the tiniest amount of ****s, not even one. Its completely objective, so saying "undead is evil" has no solid grounds besides a spell descriptor that was placed by the makers of a game who set out to make necromancy just another "villian spell set" - the game is flawed in many cases, ESPECIALLY alignment, and its up to us as players and dm's to fix it and mend it, not just blindly follow greyhawks/cores "FLAVOR" that says hur dur undead are innately evil - as thats fluff and not 100% subject to whatever setting we play (Besides greyhawk).

Think of it this way. A fighter kills a bandit in self defense and takes his sword and maybe some healing potions to patch up the damage the bandit inflicted. A necromancer kills a bandit in self defense and raises his now empty/soulless corpse as a tool to protect him from future bandits. A cleric helps a group of players plunder a tomb to a ancient and forgotten god and loot the belongings of long dead ancestors. A ranger uses poison on a orc war parties food stock to prevent them from being able to raid a nearby farming community, thus preventing pillaging/murder/rape. A rogue uses blackmail to keep a corrupt noble from passing a law that would allow him to imprison anyone he wishes at any time for torture or worse under "suspicion" of crimes. A warlock had his soul sold by his parents while still in the womb for infernal powers, rebelled against his fate over time and led a rebellion against a tyrannical nation with the power of hellfire, leading thousands to freedom and peace. A druid's clan deep in the wastelands is suffering from famine, and its a time of war, she kills her enemies and holds feasts for her clan to feast on there corpses to save them from hunger. I won't poke at the above right now, maybe later, except to ask if you read my post in which I gave a pretty solid explanation for why animating the dead is evil.



Cosmos Effects of Actions (Unbias of any cultural influence)

Using Negative Energy: Neutral.
Why: Its just an energy like heat or cold, everything in the world sheds some of it, its part of the material plane. Death is not evil. This is already true under the default alignment system.


Using Positive Energy: Neutral.
Why: Healing can be used to keep someone alive for torture/etc and prolong there suffering. Life is not good. Ditto.


Animating a Corpse: Neutral.
Why: Animating a suit of armor or table is not evil. Raising a corpse, like forging a sword, should have the actions the wielder performs with it tested. Are blacksmiths considered evil for taking ore out of the earth, melting it down, and giving it to a soldier who may one day use it to kill a innocent man? No. Is the blacksmith a hero for making a sword that a paladin uses to save the world? No. A corpse is an object, a soulless object that feels nothing and is nothing but an empty shell that feels hunger pains due to the negative energy within it. If a sword suddenly sprouted legs, arms, and who's only desire was to kill as it was created to do, would it be evil? No. FIFY. Raising and animating aren't quite the same.
More importantly though, there's a massive flaw in the comparison of a sword and, for example, a zombie. The sword won't wander off and attack random people when the wielder dies. It won't attack on its own at all if it's not under the direction of a sentient being capable of making moral and possibly aligned decisions. To kill for no reason whatsoever is evil. The animate sword doesn't need to eat. It doesn't gain anything at all from killing, unless its intelligent. Then maybe it gets pleasure from killing. It's a hell of a tough sell to say that killing for pleasure isn't evil.


Using a Poison: Neutral.
Why: Poison is only considered "dishonorable" because like guns, peasants or untrained peons can kill a trained master of swordsmanship or magical demigod wizard with a vial of liquid brewed from some backwoods mushroom. It is not evil - its no more evil then cutting a mans arm or leg off in the heat of battle. If you have to fight, the very act of fighting and combat brings suffering, so saying "poison causes suffering and thus is evil", is pointless and outright ignorant. So its only considered evil out of stigma of "fair play" by the guys who wasted there lives beating dummies with a sharp stick. Is a druid or ranger evil for using a natural element in there territory to defend themselves or as a tool of the trade they have easy access to? Hell no. There is a saying that fits perfectly for this - guns don't kill people, people kill people. The action performed with it should be judged evil/good, not the item itself. I've already done a full post for this one. I'll link it. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=13856253&postcount=245)


Murder: Neutral.
Why: Is an animal considered evil or performing an act of evil if it kills another animal to gain mates, food, or territory? Nope. Is an animal considered evil if it kills a human in self defense? Nope. Is a king who orders his army to conquer new lands to expand his territory to feed his ever-growing population evil? Maybe, but not inherently, according to how he handles it. Like anything else, murder is a tool, and how its performed and used should determine its evil/good; someone who kills anyone just for money can even have good reasons, say if that money goes to an orphanage, but someone who just kills for fun is truly evil, and somewhat twisted. You're misusing the term here. Most of what you've described isn't murder. It's just killing, and isn't evil under the default system to begin with. The king is responsible for actions taken in his name with his consent/under his orders. If his soldiers are murdering people, raping, and pilliaging, then he bears the weight of those deeds if he is aware of them and condones them. That's one of those special corner cases though. Most creatures are only responsible for their own actions and the immediate, and obvious, consequences there of.

The ends justify the means is an excuse, not a proper justification. If you decapitate an innocent child to save the kingdom, that's an evil act even if it did serve the greater good, unless the child understood why you had to do it and gave consent. Even then there had to be zero chance of saving the kingdom in any other way.


Now, things that are truly evil? Senseless crimes that benefit nobody but the attacker/offender. Even good can come from cruel acts like torture, blackmail, lying, stealing, murder, etc IF IT HAS a "ends justify the means" - it has to have some reasoning for the action. The reason should determine the good/evil axis of the action, NOT the action itself.

Good ends don't justify evil means, but most actions aren't inherently good or evil unless they involve certain magicks. The remaining handful are actions that cannot help but violate the tenets of good.

So yeah, I hate when people just say 'X is evil, period", it makes no sense, and I would not want to be in any setting where alignment is so concrete and black/white, as it is rather bland and boring.

98% of all actions aren't inherently aligned with good or evil. You're either misreading the RAW too strictly or haven't actually read it all that carefully to begin with.

hoverfrog
2012-10-08, 06:32 AM
In Eberron the nation of Karrnath used undead during the Last War both for terror and because they had significant problems with population, famine and disease. Necessity made them turn to the use of undead troops. It is easy to see how propaganda could be used to calm the outrage of local populations. After all their sons and brothers aren't being killed at the front, it's just a bunch of animated bones instead.

Other nations of course reacted negatively to the Karrns use of undead and the holy land of Thrane increased their attacks on the nation to destroy the "unholy enemy". That just shows that once you take that step of using undead then people will react to it.

In my RL campaign set in Karrnath after the end of the war the depopulated nation still uses mindless undead for manual labour. People are used to them and consider them tools. It is an honour to serve Karrnath in life and a great honour to serve it after death.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-08, 06:41 AM
To kill for no reason whatsoever is evil. The animate sword doesn't need to eat. It doesn't gain anything at all from killing, unless its intelligent. Then maybe it gets pleasure from killing. It's a hell of a tough sell to say that killing for pleasure isn't evil.

Killing for no reason is NOT evil - for it to be evil it would have to have a reason (pleasure, indulgence, sport, lust, etc). Its a mindless act by a mindless husk powered by the energy of decay and destruction - killing to cause more death, death energy simply wanting to reproduce itself in a sense. Intelligent undead can be evil, such as vampires, who enjoy torturing there food, drinking the blood and murdering them, but a zombie, even if left with no master, is not - it will perform its last order given, or wander about randomly killing any life - even bugs it comes across due to its negative energy directing it to kill and create more negative energy. Death = its fuel/food in a sense, it wants to cause death to make the negative energy within it stronger and the plane its tied to.

It doesn't do it for pleasure or lols or any selfish goal, nor is it spiteful, hateful, or cruel about it. It kills as quickly as possible, and will never torture someone for 'fun', etc. Its just a form of energy instinctively trying to gain sustenance threw its "host".

A good example; imagine if you could reanimate a corpse with the power of fire. The fire would not burn the corpse. Lets say you lost control of it. What does fire do? It consumes and destroys everything in its path. Is it evil for following its nature? I wouldn't think so - so if death is not evil, then a zombie cannot be evil by default - its just performing its elemental nature.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-08, 06:47 AM
Like fire. Innately hazardous but utterly amoral. Now causing a fire purely for destruction, that has moral implications on the arsonist, not the fire.

Reminds me of the mock trials the Greeks would stage after sacrifices, they end up "executing" the sacrificial knife, hence "I blame the knife".

Jane_Smith
2012-10-08, 06:49 AM
Like fire. Innately hazardous but utterly amoral. Now causing a fire purely for destruction, that has moral implications on the arsonist, not the fire.

I added a sentence to my last post that added fire as a example "reanimation" source just before you posted that. XD

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-08, 07:03 AM
Great minds...

I would say that all magic, regardless of type is potentially dangerous and that a caster is responsible for the consequences that they cause, whether they indented them or not.

Qwertystop
2012-10-08, 10:08 AM
I tend to attribute it to the particular use of the energy being wrong. That is, there's nothing inherently wrong about channeling negative energy, but the fact that you're brute-forcing it to animate instead of decay, and forcing it to poorly mimic the function of positive energy. Why, if the body had any capacity to recognize pain, I imagine the experience would be excruciatingly painful.
So it's not Evil because of using the energy, it's Evil because of abusing it? That actually makes a lot of sense!


Undeath is not evil because of negative energy. Undeath is evil, and happens to involve negative energy. This is an obfuscation more than anything.


I know that. In fact, that was what the statement of mine that you quoted was intended to show the person you quoted immediately prior.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-08, 12:23 PM
IFFY. Raising and animating aren't quite the same.
More importantly though, there's a massive flaw in the comparison of a sword and, for example, a zombie. The sword won't wander off and attack random people when the wielder dies. It won't attack on its own at all if it's not under the direction of a sentient being capable of making moral and possibly aligned decisions. To kill for no reason whatsoever is evil. The animate sword doesn't need to eat. It doesn't gain anything at all from killing, unless its intelligent. Then maybe it gets pleasure from killing. It's a hell of a tough sell to say that killing for pleasure isn't evil.


Slightly off topic but I think I could sell you the concept of a non evil killing obsessed sentient sword.
1) A sword is a weapon
2) Weapons exist to kill, that is their only purpose.
3) An intelligent sword is driven to kill -to cut- because that is its singular purpose.

Whats it all about? Why am I here? An awakened sword doesn't have to ask these things. It knows exactly why it was created and it should be doing at any given time. A day without bloodshed is a day wasted...cut or rust.

Andreaz
2012-10-08, 01:04 PM
Slightly off topic but I think I could sell you the concept of a non evil killing obsessed sentient sword.
1) A sword is a weapon
2) Weapons exist to kill, that is their only purpose.
3) An intelligent sword is driven to kill -to cut- because that is its singular purpose.

Whats it all about? Why am I here? An awakened sword doesn't have to ask these things. It knows exactly why it was created and it should be doing at any given time. A day without bloodshed is a day wasted...cut or rust.
That's just perspective, which doesn't matter because evil and good are objective things :|

Doug Lampert
2012-10-08, 01:27 PM
One thing to keep in mind is that even True Resurrection isn't capable of bringing someone who has been turned into an undead if the undead isn't destroyed. That implies that undead animation somehow messes with the person's soul, so it's not only the person's "shell".

Yep, if there is no connection between the soul of the dead-guy and his body that you are making undead then True Res should work fine.

But True Res can't make a new body while the old one is animated. (In response to someone else. There's no rules contradiction, if you cast true res ON THE UNDEAD noting that it's a touch range spell then it can return the undead to life, but doing so destroys the undead. But you can't bring the guy back by creating a new body while his old one is undead, but you can do so if you destroy the undead.)

It follows that there is a connection between the undead you animate and the soul of the dead-guy. If there were not then why would destroying the undead and disintigrating the body change whether or not spells work on the dead-guy's soul.

The nature of this connection may be debatable, but the existence isn't. Any argument about undead that assumes it ONLY involves an object and negative energy misses the point that it ALSO clearly involves a soul.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-08, 02:46 PM
Killing for no reason is NOT evil - for it to be evil it would have to have a reason (pleasure, indulgence, sport, lust, etc). Its a mindless act by a mindless husk powered by the energy of decay and destruction - killing to cause more death, death energy simply wanting to reproduce itself in a sense. Intelligent undead can be evil, such as vampires, who enjoy torturing there food, drinking the blood and murdering them, but a zombie, even if left with no master, is not - it will perform its last order given, or wander about randomly killing any life - even bugs it comes across due to its negative energy directing it to kill and create more negative energy. Death = its fuel/food in a sense, it wants to cause death to make the negative energy within it stronger and the plane its tied to.

It doesn't do it for pleasure or lols or any selfish goal, nor is it spiteful, hateful, or cruel about it. It kills as quickly as possible, and will never torture someone for 'fun', etc. Its just a form of energy instinctively trying to gain sustenance threw its "host".

A good example; imagine if you could reanimate a corpse with the power of fire. The fire would not burn the corpse. Lets say you lost control of it. What does fire do? It consumes and destroys everything in its path. Is it evil for following its nature? I wouldn't think so - so if death is not evil, then a zombie cannot be evil by default - its just performing its elemental nature.That's just it though, while you may not see killing without reason as morally wrong, it -is- evil. It violates Good's tenets about respect for life and violence without discretion, in a rather direct fashion. You're not seperating alignment and morality properly here. If you decide to use subjective alignment, then good and evil become synonymous with morally right or wrong. They also carry far less weight in a cosmic sense, which may or may not be desirable depending on individual preference. If you apply HoH's behavioral alignment system to the subjective alignment variant, good and evil become largely meaningless except in the cases of creatures with the alignment subtypes.


Yep, if there is no connection between the soul of the dead-guy and his body that you are making undead then True Res should work fine.

But True Res can't make a new body while the old one is animated. (In response to someone else. There's no rules contradiction, if you cast true res ON THE UNDEAD noting that it's a touch range spell then it can return the undead to life, but doing so destroys the undead. But you can't bring the guy back by creating a new body while his old one is undead, but you can do so if you destroy the undead.)

It follows that there is a connection between the undead you animate and the soul of the dead-guy. If there were not then why would destroying the undead and disintigrating the body change whether or not spells work on the dead-guy's soul.

The nature of this connection may be debatable, but the existence isn't. Any argument about undead that assumes it ONLY involves an object and negative energy misses the point that it ALSO clearly involves a soul.

Upon re-reading true res' just now, I'm actually not seeing where it says you can't revive someone whose remains have been animated. It just says you can't reanimate a dead undead.

Where is the rule that says true res' doesn't get around the corpse being animate?

hamishspence
2012-10-08, 02:58 PM
Upon re-reading true res' just now, I'm actually not seeing where it says you can't revive someone whose remains have been animated. It just says you can't reanimate a dead undead.

Where is the rule that says true res' doesn't get around the corpse being animate?

I thought it was to do with this bit:


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

with the idea that until the undead creature is destroyed, it can't be revived.

Forum Explorer
2012-10-08, 03:08 PM
Killing for no reason is NOT evil - for it to be evil it would have to have a reason (pleasure, indulgence, sport, lust, etc). Its a mindless act by a mindless husk powered by the energy of decay and destruction - killing to cause more death, death energy simply wanting to reproduce itself in a sense. Intelligent undead can be evil, such as vampires, who enjoy torturing there food, drinking the blood and murdering them, but a zombie, even if left with no master, is not - it will perform its last order given, or wander about randomly killing any life - even bugs it comes across due to its negative energy directing it to kill and create more negative energy. Death = its fuel/food in a sense, it wants to cause death to make the negative energy within it stronger and the plane its tied to.

It doesn't do it for pleasure or lols or any selfish goal, nor is it spiteful, hateful, or cruel about it. It kills as quickly as possible, and will never torture someone for 'fun', etc. Its just a form of energy instinctively trying to gain sustenance threw its "host".

A good example; imagine if you could reanimate a corpse with the power of fire. The fire would not burn the corpse. Lets say you lost control of it. What does fire do? It consumes and destroys everything in its path. Is it evil for following its nature? I wouldn't think so - so if death is not evil, then a zombie cannot be evil by default - its just performing its elemental nature.

Now I'd argue that a so called 'mindless' undead isn't actually mindless and is evil. It doesn't destroy because it won't go after trees or buildings but it hunts after living creatures to kill. They might have a total lack of intelligence in how they go about this but they clearly do have a goal which implies desire.

Also a fire prolongs it's existence by burning things. An zombie doesn't get anything at all.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-08, 03:14 PM
I thought it was to do with this bit:



with the idea that until the undead creature is destroyed, it can't be revived.

The description of the undead type already contradicts the necessity of destroying the undead, and there's an argument to be made that a character and his corpse become seperate upon death unless he becomes an intelligent undead. Specifically, if it doesn't have his thoughts or memories, or indeed any thoughts or memories, its not really him. Just an animate husk that looks like him and used to belong to him.

As far as I can see there are no rules that explicitly tie a soul to a mindless undead creature, only ambiguous implication.

It doesn't much matter though. There's already a solid argument for mindless undead being evil without mucking about with souls. Intelligent undead are already only as evil as the want to be. Though in most cases their creation is evil even without being explicitly stated as such.

Gensuru
2012-10-08, 07:29 PM
The problem I have with this utopia-thing with undead doing all the hard or dangerous jobs is: why necromancy? Why corpses? Granted, animating a zombie will be easier than crafting a golem but a golem will generally not rot. And they tend to look and smell better, too. You could just as easily claim that summoning hordes of low-level demons and force them to perform the low jobs can lead to a utopian society....


On a side-note: why is it that necromancers seem to have such troubles creating undead that don't look and smell horrid? Vampires for one are a perfect example of an undead that doesn't look/smell like a rotting corpse. Is it too much to ask to improve necromancy spells to a point where rot is either stopped or even reversed. Negative Energy is some kind of anti-life, right? If it was merely the energy of rot and decay how would you use it to animate a corpse? Infusing rot-energy into it would only make it rot faster, not stand up and obey.


As for mindless undead being evil:

What do living animals generally do? Eat and reproduce, right? Isn't one of the ways to become undead being killed by an undead creature? What do uncontrolled undead do? They attack everything in sight. With every living creature they kill, the "reproduce" in a manner of speaking. I don't know in how far they "eat" but if DRAINING spells and effects are also negative-energy spells then frankly if a vampire drains a level what does it do with the (positive) energy it has robbed from its victim? I'd say it feeds on that energy oŰ So, in effect, all zombies (and other mindless undead) do is the exact same thing that any other living animal also does: eat and reproduce. Odd how animals generally aren't called evil for that kind of behaviour. Granted, animals don't look quite as hidious.

You can slap on all manner of arguments about undeath being unnatural and hence evil or souls being twisted and mutilated but reduce things to a basic level and mindless undead act exactly like mindless living. Intelligent undead have the same capacity for moral choices as intelligent living.



About the Gods not much liking Necromancy (maybe even fearing that mortals might use that to ursurp them. wasn't there a post like that?). Well...wasn't there some God named Velsharoon or something? Or to be more specific: a Lich that attained Godhood somehow?

Jane_Smith
2012-10-08, 07:43 PM
Vecna, greyhawk. A good example, but he was thoroughly evil due to how he became a god - he was a mass murderer, soul-destroying/devouring fiend who only wanted personal power and to enslave all before him. Necromancy was just a tool to achieve immortality (via lichdom) to last until he gained godhood, and it worked.

Also Gensuru; golems are actually created 100% is by an evil process, the enslavement of an elemental BEING, an actual sentient spirit. Undead have no souls are do not feel any pain/etc (considering the nervous system no longer functions, or there brain, etc, but golems can even go berserk, they DO FEEL pain, suffering, and even insanity and are being mindraped to operate the golem "prison".

However on the note about rotting undead/etc, there have been many examples of necromancers who repose/gentle repose there creations and even use mending to repair there flesh/prestidigitation to clean and give a better scent to there creations - they do not NEED To be bones and rotted flesh and smell like a sewer, they can look incredibly human look and just seem a bit dimwitted and smell like roses - its all up to the necromancers taste. One could assume that a necromancer could in fact be doing a good thing by animating and preserving the undead under there command and leaving them in pristine condition, mending broken bones, etc after a battle and treating the bodies with respect while still using them, for if someone wish's to revive a loved one under the necromancers command, then the corpse would be in perfect condition even after years of use.

TuggyNE
2012-10-08, 08:50 PM
What do living animals generally do? Eat and reproduce, right? Isn't one of the ways to become undead being killed by an undead creature? What do uncontrolled undead do? They attack everything in sight. With every living creature they kill, the "reproduce" in a manner of speaking. I don't know in how far they "eat" but if DRAINING spells and effects are also negative-energy spells then frankly if a vampire drains a level what does it do with the (positive) energy it has robbed from its victim? I'd say it feeds on that energy oŰ So, in effect, all zombies (and other mindless undead) do is the exact same thing that any other living animal also does: eat and reproduce. Odd how animals generally aren't called evil for that kind of behaviour.

I'd personally support mindless undead being Neutral perforce, despite their creation being [evil] (because they have no particular choice involved). However, in general most undead are actually incapable of reproducing or spawning; unless they have a energy drain/ability drain/ability damage attack, they usually can't create copies. Zombies (and skeletons) specifically are utterly incapable of making new zombies. There is therefore no reasonable goal they can accomplish by killing except sheer aimless destruction. Which is Evil according to the usual D&D definition.


Also Gensuru; golems are actually created 100% is by an evil process, the enslavement of an elemental BEING, an actual sentient spirit. Undead have no souls are do not feel any pain/etc (considering the nervous system no longer functions, or there brain, etc, but golems can even go berserk, they DO FEEL pain, suffering, and even insanity and are being mindraped to operate the golem "prison".

This may or may not be the case. Flesh golems ([evil] spell in creation) and clay golems (also can go berserk) presumably fit this description. However, iron, stone, mithral, and adamantine golems do not go berserk and require no [evil] spells.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-08, 09:01 PM
That just means its a more secure mindrape to bind the spirit inside. That doesn't make it any less evil. I think the real lesson in alignments is - toss all alignment descriptors and good/evil mentions out of the core game and use proper judgement/common sense in game to whats really evil or good, its really the only way to handle it logically.

LordErebus12
2012-10-09, 12:41 AM
having hordes of mindless skeletons coming out at night and cleaning up/ doing general janitorial duties around the city. And I'm talking about the jobs that no one wants to do, like sewer-diving. I also would use them as builders, as not having to worry about paying and over-working humanoids can vastly improve production.

problem, standard skeletons are mindless, meaning no skills (ruling out them cleaning or doing anything complex) and featless...

Ive always disagreed with the concept of evil skeletons, myself... i think summoned versions should be heavily rune carved and not evil, being magically created instead of effectively being an animated body of a living person. that way you can make a distinguishing feature that allows them to be more widely used, with "less" fear and aggression from the "holy" types.

i encountered this with first making a ship that was paddled by undead skeletons... they cant make profession checks. the DM allowed them to take cross class skills and add str to the check. since all they were doing was sit and paddle at the command of the 3 skeletons on watch.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-09, 12:49 AM
They can still perform simple tasks that require no skill checks - like "patrol threw the sewers once after sundown, take trash to pits." Give them access to step ladders so they do not have to make climb checks. Or "patrol streets after sundown, take trash to pits, return at dusk", so forth. No skill involved - if a monster ambushes them they will just get destroyed, but if you keep your undead laborers properly numbered you can easily trace back where you sent it when it met its end and properly deal with the situation yourself.

As for crafting, skeletons can be told to aid in a craft check and aid another - with a single intelligent crafter at the lead it can be a rather potent bonus on a large project.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 12:50 AM
That just means its a more secure mindrape to bind the spirit inside. That doesn't make it any less evil. I think the real lesson in alignments is - toss all alignment descriptors and good/evil mentions out of the core game and use proper judgement/common sense in game to whats really evil or good, its really the only way to handle it logically.

That's certainly an option. 95% or more of the game will be completely unnaffected by ditching the alignment system altogether. When good and evil are just words used to describe a social construct (morality) then they really only matter to the people that use them. You could just as easily use sweet and balls in their place.

Of course, if alignment has no mechanical impact; or more properly, doesn't exist; then discussing it becomes something of a moot point.

LordErebus12
2012-10-09, 01:02 AM
They can still perform simple tasks that require no skill checks - like "patrol threw the sewers once after sundown, take trash to pits." Give them access to step ladders so they do not have to make climb checks.

suddenly, a wild ramp appears :P

Jane_Smith
2012-10-09, 01:03 AM
They get +4 dexterity, I think a skeleton can handle a ladder fairly well. >_>

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 01:09 AM
They can still perform simple tasks that require no skill checks - like "patrol threw the sewers once after sundown, take trash to pits." Give them access to step ladders so they do not have to make climb checks. Or "patrol streets after sundown, take trash to pits, return at dusk", so forth. No skill involved - if a monster ambushes them they will just get destroyed, but if you keep your undead laborers properly numbered you can easily trace back where you sent it when it met its end and properly deal with the situation yourself.
Small hiccup here. A proper patrol requires observation and decision making, things these creatures are incapable of. Unless all you want them to do is appear to be patrolling as they simply walk a lap, they would need to be able to differentiate between people/things that belong and ones that don't. Their orders would also have to have to be worded in such a way as to have them either subdue or destroy whatever they encounter, they can't decide for themselves so it's just one or the other. There's simply no way mindless undead can be used to patrol on their own. They'll have to have handlers. You now need either necromancers or clerics willing to act as simple guard captains; a profession normally relegated to warriors and occasionally fighters.

There's also the issue of mindless undead being incapable of deciding what exactly constitutes "trash." Meaning you now have spellcasters acting as heads of trash pickup teams. Magical devices could be used as a substitute for the casters themselves, but then you run into the problems of cost and possible theft. Half the point of using undead like this is it's theoretically supposed to be cheap.

All of this is, of course, provided you can actually get past the inescapable social upheaval of putting a metric crap-ton of power into the hands of those relatively few people that are capable of actually producing the necessary items/effects. This society is automatically a defacto theocratic or magocratic oligarchy and there's really not much way around that.


As for crafting, skeletons can be told to aid in a craft check and aid another - with a single intelligent crafter at the lead it can be a rather potent bonus on a large project.

This works just fine. Definitely one of the more utilitarian uses of undead.

Edit: ooh, I just thought of another glaring problem with this. Enchantment. It won't work on the undead themselves but it'll work on their handlers. Congratulations, you have a society where dominating an individual gives you control of an entire squad of creatures.

Draconi Redfir
2012-10-09, 01:09 AM
*Firstpost*


Unlikely related to anything, but now i'd like to play one of those god-games where you play as a god shaping and controlling the land and it's citizens and basically being able to do whatever you want, only instead your the leading family of a small hamlet that gradually grows over the years, with a DM giving out random happenings such as earthquakes, NPC raids, and natural disasters and the like...

...Someone should invent/host that game :|

LordErebus12
2012-10-09, 01:14 AM
Small hiccup here. A proper patrol requires observation and decision making, things these creatures are incapable of. Unless all you want them to do is appear to be patrolling as they simply walk a lap, they would need to be able to differentiate between people/things that belong and ones that don't. Their orders would also have to have to be worded in such a way as to have them either subdue or destroy whatever they encounter, they can't decide for themselves so it's just one or the other. There's simply no way mindless undead can be used to patrol on their own. They'll have to have handlers. You now need either necromancers or clerics willing to act as simple guard captains; a profession normally relegated to warriors and occasionally fighters.

There's also the issue of mindless undead being incapable of deciding what exactly constitutes "trash." Meaning you now have spellcasters acting as heads of trash pickup teams. Magical devices could be used as a substitute for the casters themselves, but then you run into the problems of cost and possible theft. Half the point of using undead like this is it's theoretically supposed to be cheap.

All of this is, of course, provided you can actually get the the inescapable social upheaval of putting a metric crap-ton of power into the hands of those relatively few people that are capable of actually producing the necessary items/effects. This society is automatically a defacto theocratic or magocratic oligarchy and there's really not much way around that.


I agree, they cannot think, making them worthless without a necromancer as the brain of the operations.

has anyone thought of asking the vampires to lead them (the skeleton cleaning crews) through the sewers at night? think of it... vampires can get payed in blood, wages and better accommodations (donated from the townsfolk and livestock, naturally) in exchange for relative safety and a partial acceptance into society.

even as night guards, vampires make excellent watchmen. if anyone attempts a break-in they can drain them almost dry and send them to jail, leaving them with the day shift as the sun approaches.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 01:16 AM
I agree, they cannot think, making them worthless without a necromancer as the brain of the operations.

has anyone thought of asking the vampires to lead them (the skeleton cleaning crews) through the sewers at night? think of it... vampires can get payed in blood, wages and better accommodations (donated from the townsfolk and livestock, naturally) in exchange for relative safety and a partial acceptance into society.

Yeah.... Now we're definitely creeping away from utopia and toward necropolis. BTW, you don't really think that vampires are going to be content being second class citizens to the inferior (in their eyes) living people of the society do you? This can only end poorly. Some uppity blood-sucker is going to get it in his head that the undead should be calling the shots and either people will become livestock or society will come to reject any intelligent undead in no time.

LordErebus12
2012-10-09, 01:18 AM
Yeah.... Now we're definitely creeping away from utopia and toward necropolis.

you define a place without filth and undead as a utopia?

id define peaceful undead and their masters as a boon, if they work within the laws provided... a simple set of state requirements. registration and proper id to be a necromancer in possession of registered undead. if they use these undead to maximize the community, out of sight from the general public (but in full knowledge of the public).

LordErebus12
2012-10-09, 01:26 AM
Yeah.... Now we're definitely creeping away from utopia and toward necropolis. BTW, you don't really think that vampires are going to be content being second class citizens to the inferior (in their eyes) living people of the society do you? This can only end poorly. Some uppity blood-sucker is going to get it in his head that the undead should be calling the shots and either people will become livestock or society will come to reject any intelligent undead in no time.

this goes into the standard view that because they are vampires, they must be evil creatures. i think the standard vampire is evil, when being feral and a pack beast. but when in a more accepting society, they do not have to live in caves, feeding on humans like a pack of wolves.

mining would be greatly inpowered by vampires...
i can imagine a painting of a massive cathedral or window cleaning would be easier if you could innately spider climb. the capture of criminals would be a sinfully easy task with gaseous form and spider climb...

honestly, if the right methods and restrictions are employed, a caste of vampires could grow within a city.

1) no unotherized feedings, blood can be obtained from several sources and made available in clubs, bars, hospitals, etc.
2) no creating spawn without proper processes are met and filed with the magistrate/courts
3) the standard police/guards are equipped with magical silver weapons, to deal with the more aggressive, antisocial types

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 01:28 AM
you define a place without filth and undead as a utopia?

id define peaceful undead and their masters as a boon, if they work within the laws provided... a simple set of state requirements. registration and proper id to be a necromancer in possession of registered undead. if they use these undead to maximize the community, out of sight from the general public (but in full knowledge of the public).

I don't quite follow that first sentence, but let me go ahead and tell you how I define utopia.

Utopia is fiction.

The longer I live the more convinced I am that people, as a whole, are incapable of existing in perfect harmony with one another. Technology or magic may allow intelligent creatures to live in perfect harmony with nature, but never with each other. Cliques and power-groups form as a result of instinct and ambition. Even in a post-scarcity society people will always jockey for higher social standing and to have more <something> than their fellows.

Maybe a utopia could exist if the creatures that occupy that utopia had vastly different instincts than anything that exists in nature and were created with that society already in place. You'd have to homebrew them though, since there's nothing in print that fits that description except maybe certain celestial creatures.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 01:31 AM
this goes into the standard view that because they are vampires, they must be evil creatures. i think the standard vampire is evil, when being feral and a pack beast. but when in a more accepting society, they do not have to live in caves, feeding on humans like a pack of wolves.

mining would be greatly inpowered by vampires...
i can imagine a painting of a massive cathedral or window cleaning would be easier if you could innately spider climb. the capture of criminals would be a sinfully easy task with gaseous form and spider climb...

It has nothing to do with vampires being evil. As intelligent creatures their alignment is up to them.

The problem is that if they're not considered equal to the living in every way by the ruling body of the society, then they will rise up just like every other repressed people in the history of both the real and virtually all ficticious worlds.

Even then, extremist groups will arise that see either the intelligent undead or the living as superior to the other. These groups will create conflict and sooner or later one will win and the other will be eliminated.

This has everything to do with the nature of intelligent creatures and nothing at all to do with good/evil.

LordErebus12
2012-10-09, 01:31 AM
I don't quite follow that first sentence, but let me go ahead and tell you how I define utopia.


it was an incomplete thought... i meant to say that a city that utilizes both undead and necromancers to guide and control them as not being a utopia? meaning a necropolis, as you referred to it as being incapable as also being a utopia?

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 01:40 AM
it was an incomplete thought... i meant to say that a city that utilizes both undead and necromancers to guide and control them as not being a utopia? meaning a necropolis, as you referred to it as being incapable as also being a utopia?

I don't see it as any more capable of becoming a utopia than any other society. I and several others have already poked some pretty big holes in the idea.

The notion of utopia is fundamentally flawed in that it doesn't acknowledge certain inescapable facts about the nature of life itself. Life is competition. Every living creature has instincts that drive it to compete with its fellows, whether that creature is intelligent or not (though as science explores the nature of animal behavior it's becoming increasingly unlikely that there's any such thing as a creature with no intelligence, even spiders and flies show signs of learning and adaptation.)

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-09, 01:58 AM
I think that a local utopia can exist at least partially but only in opposition to another force. The blitz spirit is a shared fear of the other, of loosing what one has; a sense that if you don't pull together and get along you are going to get hammered.

That is why my necrothieists need the enmity of beings like the gods. Without the threat of an all pervading and eternal opponent it would eventually fall apart. If they did not have gods they would probably be forced to create them.

[Necrothieist recap]

If one where to reject and renounce the gods, alignment, divinely revealed morality and all other outsiders then necromancy would be a vital tool in the arsenal.

It grants a society control of its moralities control over their own afterlife. Broken free from the tyranny of the alignment system men are free to decide for themselves what is right or wrong, free to decide their own destinies. The long term goal could be first the liberation of the mundane from outside influence and then the storming of the golden gates and the cleansing of the deepest pits; casting all outsiders to the shadows of the beyond.

I envisage a society where a part of the soul is bound to an artefacts (be it a building, monument, weapon, jewel or warforged golem armour). This binds the rest of the spirit to this world, forcing the person into a cycle of reincarnation centred on their artefact/phalactry. During each life the soul is rebound to the artefacts (or to another) making the object more powerful. Perhaps in the long run the object awakens and the (or an) individual is completely bound within. I imagine that for large objects like ships, fortresses or cities many people can be bound in and of them.

"This place ...this place is sacred. Everyone who loved it, everyone who lived it, who died for it, who shed blood sweat and tears for it has left a part of themselves here. It is our ancestorsí legacy to us, our legacy to the future. Tread carefully stranger, for you are treading on our souls."


Doesn't mater if its good or evil in this case. On the alignment system such a societal would fall off of the axis, sit in the middle or oscillate widely from one side to the other. Trying to be a Neizchien ubermenchen society does that. Why should they define or limit themselves to the cosmic accursed alignment system? This would make them a very tempting target for both the red and blue teams (as well as the purple, orange and maroon teams)

I rather think that the cosmic forces of good, evil and/or blancmange would go to great length to eradicate such a society whatever its alignment is or is not. Its just good business to stamp out threat.




On the question of vampires I can well imagine a vampiric aristocracy forming an officer class together with a "priesthood"/civil service formed of necromancers and liches.

Then comes the question if you want to extend economic and social franchise over the bulk of the population or do you want a good sized citizen class of landowners and craftsmen and a large non citizen class of registered aliens, tenet farmers and/or slaves. Non citizens would have to hand over their bodies after their done using them (relic tax) in lei of wealth or income based taxes.

I also would like to state that I think that necromancy does touch on the soul, though exactly how I wouldn't like to say. (Note that in the old text necromancy was a form of divination, similar to mediums). However I would like to ask "Is this necessarily a bad thing?"

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 02:12 AM
I think that a local utopia can exist at least partially but only in opposition to another force. The blitz spirit is a shared fear of the other, of loosing what one has; a sense that if you don't pull together and get along you are going to get hammered.

That is why my necrothieists need the enmity of beings like the gods. Without the threat of an all pervading and eternal opponent it would eventually fall apart. If they did not have gods they would probably be forced to create them.

[Necrothieist recap]

If one where to reject and renounce the gods, alignment, divinely revealed morality and all other outsiders then necromancy would be a vital tool in the arsenal.

It grants a society control of its moralities control over their own afterlife. Broken free from the tyranny of the alignment system men are free to decide for themselves what is right or wrong, free to decide their own destinies. The long term goal could be first the liberation of the mundane from outside influence and then the storming of the golden gates and the cleansing of the deepest pits; casting all outsiders to the shadows of the beyond.

I envisage a society where a part of the soul is bound to an artefacts (be it a building, monument, weapon, jewel or warforged golem armour). This binds the rest of the spirit to this world, forcing the person into a cycle of reincarnation centred on their artefact/phalactry. During each life the soul is rebound to the artefacts (or to another) making the object more powerful. Perhaps in the long run the object awakens and the (or an) individual is completely bound within. I imagine that for large objects like ships, fortresses or cities many people can be bound in and of them.

"This place ...this place is sacred. Everyone who loved it, everyone who lived it, who died for it, who shed blood sweat and tears for it has left a part of themselves here. It is our ancestors’ legacy to us, our legacy to the future. Tread carefully stranger, for you are treading on our souls."


Doesn't mater if its good or evil in this case. On the alignment system such a societal would fall off of the axis, sit in the middle or oscillate widely from one side to the other. Trying to be a Neizchien ubermenchen society does that. Why should they define or limit themselves to the cosmic accursed alignment system? This would make them a very tempting target for both the red and blue teams (as well as the purple, orange and maroon teams)

I rather think that the cosmic forces of good, evil and/or blancmange would go to great length to eradicate such a society whatever its alignment is or is not. Its just good business to stamp out threat.




On the question of vampires I can well imagine a vampiric aristocracy forming an officer class together with a "priesthood"/civil service formed of necromancers and liches.

Then comes the question if you want to extend economic and social franchise over the bulk of the population or do you want a good sized citizen class of landowners and craftsmen and a large non citizen class of registered aliens, tenet farmers and/or slaves. Non citizens would have to hand over their bodies after their done using them (relic tax) in lei of wealth or income based taxes.

I also would like to state that I think that necromancy does touch on the soul, though exactly how I wouldn't like to say. (Note that in the old text necromancy was a form of divination, similar to mediums). However I would like to ask "Is this necessarily a bad thing?"

Interesting though it is, that's not a utopia for anyone but the citizens. The serfs are completely screwed in that setup by being little more than parasites on the society since nearly all the work that serfs would do in other societies is done by mindless undead. They're basically just subsistence farmers that wouldn't be any better off if the ruling class were a normal feudal aristocracy headed by a monarch. They're not even really safer than the serfs of a normal society since virtually every other society out there wants the one they exist along side destroyed.

This setup makes the non-citizens little better than rats that the aristocracy don't mind keeping around, or intelligent livestock.

Edit: Necromancy unambiguously can touch the soul. Whether that's a problem or not depends on how it touches the soul. Most necromancy spells that affect the soul generally do so in a negative way, either by turning it into an intelligent (usually incorporeal) undead, trapping it, or consuming it.

LordErebus12
2012-10-09, 02:31 AM
the problem of "utopias" are they always small, usually only accessed by the wealthy, and often end up polluting everything outside the range of the utopia, abusing the underclass, etc. so life may be a utopia for some, but never for all.

i think the point i was trying to get across was that a society that allowed undead to peacefully coexist could provide far better alternatives, without falling into stereotypes. The Vampire Aristocracy (AKA Dracula, Ventrue, etc) is an overplayed concept. i meant a more equal, democratic and accepting society (one that could never exist within our world) than what commonly exists.

Imagine a nation that was built for the living during the day while equally being a world set up at night for those intelligent undead that live within, with laws governing both as equals. as long as the laws established are within reason and can be followed with relative ease and with only minor regulations.

In the case of the city where both undead and the living survive together, certain jobs must facilitate and can even expand the job and financial markets, such as the access to food, without the need to kill permanently or create spawn.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-09, 02:34 AM
Interesting though it is, that's not a utopia for anyone but the citizens

Isn't that they way of every nation that is, was or will ever be?


The serfs are completely screwed in that setup by being little more than parasites on the society since nearly all the work that serfs would do in other societies is done by mindless undead.

Note the mindless part. Their is still plenty of employment for quick hands and a clever mind. If you allow the use of artifacts that can command the dead then one possibility is as NCO's and work gang bosses (overseers)


They're basically just subsistence farmers that wouldn't be any better off if the ruling class were a normal feudal aristocracy headed by a monarch.

Well they will pay rent and such, however I rather suspect that this will be considerably less that the going rate of their feudal cousins.


They're not even really safer than the serfs of a normal society since virtually every other society out there wants the one they exist along side destroyed.

Except not having to worry about the constant threat of wars of succession (being as the ruling body is a theocracy of the dead). Plus it means that they at least know who their enemies are.



This setup makes the non-citizens little better than rats that the aristocracy don't mind keeping around, or intelligent livestock.

Pretty much as standard for the period then. Of course unlike most they will have the ability to earn citizenship or even be accepted into the "nocturnal nobility".



Edit: Necromancy unambiguously can touch the soul. Whether that's a problem or not depends on how it touches the soul. Most necromancy spells that affect the soul generally do so in a negative way, either by turning it into an intelligent (usually incorporeal) undead, trapping it, or consuming it.

Trapping it is acceptable (wouldn't want daemons getting hold of it and heaven forbid the gods). Ghosts would be fine to given the nature of the society.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-09, 02:44 AM
As you said before, utopia's cannot exist because of the many - but why would anyone be a surf in a utopia? If skeletons served everyone, then you could have skeletons and zombies guided by a single individual to oversee mass food production via mass farms. (The rotting flesh just makes the veggies taste better and fertilizes the fields! Its what the Tabasco company did some odd hundred years ago - when they say no trespassers, they meant it!), so even the poor and jobless would not starve. The common, free food would be bland, but it would be free for any citizen or surf of the community.

The same for housing - skeletons only need a warehouse style structure to house or sheds, and the skeletons can be used to help a single architect build apartment style complexes and keep them up-kept for centuries with minimum fees, especially if you have skeletons logging and bringing tender and ores to bring in more supplies. This society would operate for almost nothing - a level 20 wizard could easily throw a single magic item away for the initial tools to get such a society started (like the mining and building equipment and the basic seeds/etc for the crops and farming equipment) to easily equip a few thousand skeletons - and last time I checked wizards can't even control that many at that level without serious optimization and 3.5 stuff like undead leadership.

With a society this efficient and gaining new income by trading raw goods like stone that there is a infinite supply of with the right overseer, you make more then enough to pay the few overseers you need to fine-tune your undead workforce to sustain a sizable population of free loaders - and to be a citizen, you just have to give your body away upon death. So now you have renewable undead workers, and a self-sufficient society.

LordErebus12
2012-10-09, 03:09 AM
As you said before, utopia's cannot exist because of the many - but why would anyone be a surf in a utopia? If skeletons served everyone, then you could have skeletons and zombies guided by a single individual to oversee mass food production via mass farms. (The rotting flesh just makes the veggies taste better and fertilizes the fields! Its what the Tabasco company did some odd hundred years ago - when they say no trespassers, they meant it!), so even the poor and jobless would not starve. The common, free food would be bland, but it would be free for any citizen or surf of the community.

The same for housing - skeletons only need a warehouse style structure to house or sheds, and the skeletons can be used to help a single architect build apartment style complexes and keep them up-kept for centuries with minimum fees, especially if you have skeletons logging and bringing tender and ores to bring in more supplies. This society would operate for almost nothing - a level 20 wizard could easily throw a single magic item away for the initial tools to get such a society started (like the mining and building equipment and the basic seeds/etc for the crops and farming equipment) to easily equip a few thousand skeletons - and last time I checked wizards can't even control that many at that level without serious optimization and 3.5 stuff like undead leadership.

With a society this efficient and gaining new income by trading raw goods like stone that there is a infinite supply of with the right overseer, you make more then enough to pay the few overseers you need to fine-tune your undead workforce to sustain a sizable population of free loaders - and to be a citizen, you just have to give your body away upon death. So now you have renewable undead workers, and a self-sufficient society.

since you could animate only 80 hd of undead at 20th level, i dont think one overseer would cover thousands.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 03:10 AM
Isn't that they way of every nation that is, was or will ever be? Yep, and that's exactly the problem. There will be inequality, there will be prejudice, and eventually the society will collapse either from outside pressure or internal decay.




Note the mindless part. Their is still plenty of employment for quick hands and a clever mind. If you allow the use of artifacts that can command the dead then one possibility is as NCO's and work gang bosses (overseers) Those are necessarily small job markets though, unless each artifact is only tied to a handful of "workers." If that's the case then the cost will rapidly become a problem, and "workers" being stolen will be that much more likely. And what happens when one of these devices breaks? Accidents happen and in this case accidents result in a group, possibly a large group, of dangerous creatures being set free to run amuck, until they can be contained and either destroyed or recaptured. At least with machinery accidents don't result in the machine actively seeking to kill people.




Well they will pay rent and such, however I rather suspect that this will be considerably less that the going rate of their feudal cousins. Maybe, maybe not. You've possited undead as the ruling body. Undead tend to have a problem with becoming increasingly dissassociative with what it's like to be alive. Combine this with the tendency of politicians to get greedy and lose track of what they're supposed to be in office for and you end up with people taxed and oppressed, eventually to the point of revolt if corrective action isn't taken quickly and often enough.




Except not having to worry about the constant threat of wars of succession (being as the ruling body is a theocracy of the dead). Plus it means that they at least know who their enemies are. I'm not trying to be antagonistic, but this is laughably untrue, unless you hand-waive it for the campaign. The fact that the ruling body is composed of people that can't just be waited out means that political maneuvering and backstabbing will be that much more rife than they would be amongst the living. Worse, virtually all of the upper echelons of society have a myriad of supernatural and/or spell-like abilities to complicate security and counter security further. This causes headaches for the law-enforcement too. If the appointments of officials are supposed to be permanent, you even get wonderful little power vaccums if someone dies unexpectedly without naming a successor, something that they're less likely to do because the official A) doesn't plan on dying ever, and B) understands that naming a successor gives that successor a very solid motivation for his removal. (this statement should be read more as politicians are evil than undead are evil, FYI.)





Pretty much as standard for the period then. Of course unlike most they will have the ability to earn citizenship or even be accepted into the "nocturnal nobility". So we're in agreement then, that the use of undead doesn't make the society any better or worse than most any other model? After all, the possibility of gaining higher station in other societies doesn't usually involve any change in the prospective's basic nature. How much upward mobility an individual has is dependent on the society's laws and rulers. Having the undead rulers writing those laws doesn't change that one iota.





Trapping it is acceptable (wouldn't want daemons getting hold of it and heaven forbid the gods). Ghosts would be fine to given the nature of the society.

Being a ghost isn't what I'd call "fine." No tactile, gustatory, or olfactory sensations ever again? No thank you. Becoming one of most breeds of undead also involves a complete change to the self. Vampires, ghosts, and liches are the exceptions, not the rule.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 03:36 AM
As you said before, utopia's cannot exist because of the many - but why would anyone be a surf in a utopia? If skeletons served everyone, then you could have skeletons and zombies guided by a single individual to oversee mass food production via mass farms. (The rotting flesh just makes the veggies taste better and fertilizes the fields! Its what the Tabasco company did some odd hundred years ago - when they say no trespassers, they meant it!), so even the poor and jobless would not starve. The common, free food would be bland, but it would be free for any citizen or surf of the community.

The same for housing - skeletons only need a warehouse style structure to house or sheds, and the skeletons can be used to help a single architect build apartment style complexes and keep them up-kept for centuries with minimum fees, especially if you have skeletons logging and bringing tender and ores to bring in more supplies. This society would operate for almost nothing - a level 20 wizard could easily throw a single magic item away for the initial tools to get such a society started (like the mining and building equipment and the basic seeds/etc for the crops and farming equipment) to easily equip a few thousand skeletons - and last time I checked wizards can't even control that many at that level without serious optimization and 3.5 stuff like undead leadership.

With a society this efficient and gaining new income by trading raw goods like stone that there is a infinite supply of with the right overseer, you make more then enough to pay the few overseers you need to fine-tune your undead workforce to sustain a sizable population of free loaders - and to be a citizen, you just have to give your body away upon death. So now you have renewable undead workers, and a self-sufficient society.

Even in a civilization where noone ever has to lift a finger except to grasp the doohicky that controls their own personal skeleton, society will stratify. People will invariably try to put themselves ahead of those that are ostensibly, and legally, their equals. At least a portion of the populace will try to do this by achieving greater political clout. If the laws don't recognize this clout then they'll move it behind closed doors until they can arrange to have the law changed. This is inescapable, because after you dig all the way down through the layers of the psyche to find this phenomenon's ultimate motivation you're going to hit instinct. It's ultimately cause by the drive to reproduce in the living and the lingering psychology that was based on that same desire to reproduce in the intelligent undead.

In any society somebody's at the bottom, and being at the bottom stirs up feelings that result in chaos. Then of course there are the people that refuse to conform to society just to be different or to entertain themselves. These instabilities will always create conflict, and will invariably bring your society crumbling down around you if they're not carefully monitored and controlled. Ultimately though, something will slip through the cracks and the chaos will reach a boiling point where it can no longer be controlled. All civilizations fall.

A perfectly stable, efficient, and equal society just isn't possible as long as you're working with creatures that are, or once were, living.

And that's without even touching religion, something that has proven itself to be impossible to stamp out in a world where there's no tangible proof of any religion's veracity.

Utopia is a myth.

LordErebus12
2012-10-09, 03:43 AM
Utopia is a myth.

DnD is a means to create anything, if i want a Utopia, i can make one. it can exist within the realms of creation. it may not be complete or even perfect, but that doesn't mean it cannot exist. we make myths into gameplay all day, why not a perfect place within a world? you can say nothing is perfect, but you're not the DM, the one who decides what fits into his world. Just because our real world doesn't have room for utopia, doesn't mean a fantasy world can't. Logic means exactly squat when magic and gods can turn the world inside out.

willpell
2012-10-09, 03:52 AM
One easy justification for why undead might be automatically evil is the fact that they're cut off from the collective source of life - essentially they have a hole in their soul, a palpable emptiness that makes every living thing seem alien to them, making empathy impossible and filling them with hatred for those that seem to mock their existence by looking similar but having something they've lost forever (much the way the living feel about the undead except in reverse). Spite, envy, xenophobia, and disgust for the squishy biological processes and touchy-feely emotions of the living can all be factors for the "default" undead mindset, if you wish to exploit it.

In my setting clerics have access to four forms of energy instead of two, and either Negative or Temporal energy can be used to raise undead. An Evil cleric who calls Negative energy creates and controls undead who are inherently malevolent with very few exceptions, but a Lawful Neutral or even Lawful Good cleric can raise more sterile undead to use as worker constructs, and intelligent nonevil undead are possible, though a Lawful mindset is virtually impossible for them to avoid since they're literally stuck time, unable to truly grow as individuals.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 03:54 AM
DnD is a means to create anything, if i want a Utopia, i can make one. it can exist within the realms of creation. it may not be complete or even perfect, but that doesn't mean it cannot exist. we make myths into gameplay all day, why not a perfect place within a world? you can say nothing is perfect, but you're not the DM, the one who decides what fits into his world. Just because our real world doesn't have room for utopia, doesn't mean a fantasy world can't. Logic means exactly squat when magic and gods can turn the world inside out.

There is truth in this statement.

But up to this point we've been using logic as the basis for both sides of the undead should(n't) be evil debate. I don't see any solid reason to throw it out now.

Incidentally, there is something pretty close to utopia in print. Take your pick from Arcadia, Celestia, and (to a lesser extent) Bytopia, or even Mechanus. Though in all of those cases my point stands since the creatures that make up these societies are immortal creatures with no biological needs to speak of.

LordErebus12
2012-10-09, 04:05 AM
There is truth in this statement.

But up to this point we've been using logic as the basis for both sides of the undead should(n't) be evil debate. I don't see any solid reason to throw it out now.


i acknowledge this and accept this. you argue with logic in mind (a boon), but i was trying to say it was still possible, without standard rules/guidelines that the world provides normally. I became overzealous on my point, logic be damned. (evil pun, seeing the topic of the discussion)

hoverfrog
2012-10-09, 04:06 AM
DnD is a means to create anything, if i want a Utopia, i can make one. it can exist within the realms of creation.Dystopias are more fun to play in though.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 04:45 AM
i acknowledge this and accept this. you argue with logic in mind (a boon), but i was trying to say it was still possible, without standard rules/guidelines that the world provides normally. I became overzealous on my point, logic be damned. (evil pun, seeing the topic of the discussion)
It happens to us all sometimes. It shouldn't take long for anyone to notice I'm a staunch defender of the alignment system and I've occasionally gotten a bit carried away. Passion is a good (english usage, not alignment comment) thing, as long as it doesn't get out of hand too often. I wish I had an easier time shutting down my own logical processes sometimes though. Willing suspension of disbelief gets proportionally more difficult as the subject matter gets closer to reality for me. You don't get much closer than a socialogical discussion.

Dystopias are more fun to play in though.

Agreed. They're easier to build too. A bit of logic and some knowledge of historic rebellions/revolutions and you can cobble something together in half an hour or so.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-09, 04:46 AM
Even in a civilization where noone ever has to lift a finger except to grasp the doohicky that controls their own personal skeleton, society will stratify. People will invariably try to put themselves ahead of those that are ostensibly, and legally, their equals. At least a portion of the populace will try to do this by achieving greater political clout. If the laws don't recognize this clout then they'll move it behind closed doors until they can arrange to have the law changed. This is inescapable, because after you dig all the way down through the layers of the psyche to find this phenomenon's ultimate motivation you're going to hit instinct. It's ultimately cause by the drive to reproduce in the living and the lingering psychology that was based on that same desire to reproduce in the intelligent undead.

In any society somebody's at the bottom, and being at the bottom stirs up feelings that result in chaos. Then of course there are the people that refuse to conform to society just to be different or to entertain themselves. These instabilities will always create conflict, and will invariably bring your society crumbling down around you if they're not carefully monitored and controlled. Ultimately though, something will slip through the cracks and the chaos will reach a boiling point where it can no longer be controlled. All civilizations fall.

Some people will always be at the bottom. This is the reason why I acknowledge the existence of surfs, of slaves and metics is a highly likely possibility in this kind of society. Plus people need more than bread and circuses. They need something that theirs, something to work for.

As part of the social control system I think some kind of hideously twisted variant of the American dream could be the answer. "work hard In school kids and if you want it bad enough you to could become an abominable blasphemy in the sight of all that's holy!"


I'm not trying to be antagonistic, but this is laughably untrue, unless you hand-waive it for the campaign. The fact that the ruling body is composed of people that can't just be waited out means that political maneuvering and backstabbing will be that much more rife than they would be amongst the living. Worse, virtually all of the upper echelons of society have a myriad of supernatural and/or spell-like abilities to complicate security and counter security further. This causes headaches for the law-enforcement too. If the appointments of officials are supposed to be permanent, you even get wonderful little power vaccums if someone dies unexpectedly without naming a successor, something that they're less likely to do because the official A) doesn't plan on dying ever, and B) understands that naming a successor gives that successor a very solid motivation for his removal. (this statement should be read more as politicians are evil than undead are evil, FYI.)

Nice, good spot that man. A totally unintended source of plot hook and intrigue. Hooray! assassinations for everybody. But in all seriousness their is a marked difference between a culture where "honor" dueling, political intrigue and laser guided cluster stabbage is the norm and a society where nobles routinely declare near total war against each other. Its because its someone else problem as long as my taxes don't go up, my farm doesn't get pillaged and my children aren't conscripted for some meaningless slaughter.


A perfectly stable, efficient, and equal society just isn't possible as long as you're working with creatures that are, or once were, living.

I am no going for perfection, just interesting. I want complexity, I want Internal contradiction and I want plot hook ...lots and lots of plot hook.



And that's without even touching religion, something that has proven itself to be impossible to stamp out in a world where there's no tangible proof of any religion's veracity.

Score: Paladins under the bed. I can just imagine the trials now... "Do you or have you ever been affiliated with a religious organization?" "Is there no decency left?!"


Utopia is a myth.

Dystopias are more fun to play in though.

What about constantly subverting your ideas and presumptions of both. A society which on the surface looks pretty evil but when you get to know it better "seem" to be actually not too bad in principle. On closer examination however their is trouble in "paradise" only the locals are to obsessed with towing the party line to see it. Not a bad metaphor for the practical application of communism/democracy.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 05:00 AM
@ 'marsh's response to my succession war comment:

It's only somebody else's problem until political infighting weakens the governing body to the point that outside forces can start to make serious headway in undermining their authority or overrunning the border. Spies and sabatuers can complicate the political landscape even further with an eye toward deliberately creating blind-spots or simply weakening the government in preparation for either fommenting an uprising of the populace or starting a more conventional war.

Skilled politicians know that a secret war should always be used before, or in place of, a traditional one whenever possible. Bonus points: a secret war makes for great gaming.

@ the rest of 'marsh's post:

You're definitely getting an interesting setting together. The further you develop it the more I like it so far.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-09, 05:09 AM
Those are necessarily small job markets though, unless each artifact is only tied to a handful of "workers." If that's the case then the cost will rapidly become a problem, and "workers" being stolen will be that much more likely. And what happens when one of these devices breaks? Accidents happen and in this case accidents result in a group, possibly a large group, of dangerous creatures being set free to run amuck, until they can be contained and either destroyed or recaptured. At least with machinery accidents don't result in the machine actively seeking to kill people.

I Think that these control artifact would be rented out to people/businesses by registered necromancers. They would control no more that a score of undead and would have a serial number stamped into each talisman. This would be a major source of revenue for the state and the low taxes that this (amongst other things) would allow would be good for the economy.

I can also well imagine a limited charge summon/control device being sold to adventurers or a rechargeable version issued to military NCO's and public works officers.

I do imagine that many skeletons would be stock piled in cold storage as a kind of strategic/economic reserve. Most of the time bodies would be used as magical reagents or focuses.

******

Remember when I said that the souls of the citizenry are tied to the artifacts, heirlooms, monuments and buildings of the land? Well tying the non citizens to their own bones and using them would be the entry level of this. To have better would require that you are deemed to have contributed more, earned better in this life for your next. Note that this may lead to a caste system if you wanted to spin it that way.



It's only somebody else's problem until political infighting weakens the governing body to the point that outside forces can start to make serious headway in undermining their authority or overrunning the border. Spies and sabatuers can complicate the political landscape even further with an eye toward deliberately creating blind-spots or simply weakening the government in preparation for either fommenting an uprising of the populace or starting a more conventional war.

Nice... Plot hook. Still it requires an outside actor or Cesar figure. It is very different from the waring states vibe I was considering when I wrote about succession.


Skilled politicians know that a secret war should always be used before, or in place of, a traditional one whenever possible. Bonus points: a secret war makes for great gaming.

A ruthless, cutthroat, Machiavellian, Byzantine bulpit of a political system should make an excellent training ground for those skilled politicians then. Particularly if they have to go through centenaries of paying their dues to get to the top flight.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 05:30 AM
I Think that these control artifact would be rented out to people/businesses by registered necromancers. They would control no more that a score of undead and would have a serial number stamped into each talisman. This would be a major source of revenue for the state and the low taxes that this (amongst other things) would allow would be good for the economy.

I can also well imagine a limited charge summon/control device being sold to adventurers or a rechargeable version issued to military NCO's and public works officers. There's still the cost issue, but this at least provides a solid way to recoup the cost over time. I'm still concerned about breakage and other losses of control, say a dispelling for instance.


I do imagine that many skeletons would be stock piled in cold storage as a kind of strategic/economic reserve. Most of the time bodies would be used as magical reagents or focuses. Do you mean skeletons as remains, or animate skeletons? I'm trying to make sure I've got a clear picture here.



Remember when I said that the souls of the citizenry are tied to the artifacts, heirlooms, monuments and buildings of the land? Well tying the non citizens to their own bones and using them would be the entry level of this. To have better would require that you are deemed to have contributed more, earned better in this life for your next. Note that this may lead to a caste system if you wanted to spin it that way. How do you plan on going about this? or are you just fluffing it that animation binds the spirit of the deceased even if the undead is mindless?


Nice... Plot hook. Still it requires an outside actor or Cesar figure. It is very different from the waring states vibe I was considering when I wrote about succession. A cesar figure isn't really necessary. The governing body as a whole can be weakened regardless of whether its an autocracy an oligarchy or even a republic or democracy. You've already made enemies of practically the entire cosmos outside of the material, there should be no shortage of outside enemies, and lets not forget the material plane organizations that want your land and property for more mundane reasons. A world at peace is probably a dead one.




A ruthless, cutthroat, Machiavellian, Byzantine bulpit of a political system should make an excellent training ground for those skilled politicians then. Particularly if they have to go through centenaries of paying their dues to get to the top flight.

Its not necessary, and it's a terrible government for the people, but it makes for great gaming if you're into the cloak and dagger stuff.

Btw, am I reading you correctly that you're positting this as a full-on nation? I had been imagining it more as a city-state up until the post before last.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-09, 05:52 AM
Suddenly an entire country of necromancers, death knights, vampires, lich's, ghouls, wights, wraiths, ghosts, and brain-in-a-jars alongside living races that can swing any alignment and break the typical necropolis cliche of stockpiling peoples brains and souls for currency for the sake of (even if just an illusion) of unity? Sounds fun to me. I call dhampir. :smallbiggrin:

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-09, 05:53 AM
I'm still concerned about breakage and other losses of control, say a dispelling for instance.

Bounty 30GP "...Strong arms are required to assist in the subduing of renegade equipment. Ask Loteth-Ash-Ank inside for details" It is the third such notice this week; will they never learn?



Do you mean skeletons as remains, or animate skeletons? I'm trying to make sure I've got a clear picture here.

Magically prepared disarticulated (for increased storage capacity) skeletons cataloged and placed in sealed vaults. There is an actual word for a RL thing but I can't spell.



How do you plan on going about this? or are you just fluffing it that animation binds the spirit of the deceased even if the undead is mindless?

In a word ...Yes. The fluff is that they use a similar process to what the regular citizens undergo. Whether that is the actual fact or if its just a line they spin for the non-citz is another question entirely.



A cesar figure isn't really necessary. The governing body as a whole can be weakened regardless of whether its an autocracy an oligarchy or even a republic or democracy. You've already made enemies of practically the entire cosmos outside of the material, there should be no shortage of outside enemies, and lets not forget the material plane organizations that want your land and property for more mundane reasons. A world at peace is probably a dead one.[quote]

Never underestimate peoples ambition. No matter how much one has they will always want more. Even if all their fighting over is a higher spot on the sinking ship. (however I think I did say OR).

[quote]Its not necessary, and it's a terrible government for the people, but it makes for great gaming if you're into the cloak and dagger stuff.

As long as the trains run on time. It just has to be a fun (and preferably immersive) game; all else is secondary.


EDIT

It would probably start out as a city state and grow from there. Whether as a fractious alliance of city states, a small nation, a patchwork of elector states or as a full blown unitary empire would be very much up to the DM.

This set up is under siege, it goal is universal dominion. It must expend or die and thus could well begin to suffer what I call the "disease of bigness". As a result it could well fluctuate between two or more of these scenarios.

If their was a "necropolitan empire" that was destroyed a few thousand years ago then it could well be that their are a number of embattled vestiges in isolated or defensible locations. It would also allow for haunted ruins, SEIAC ancient strategic reserves and a lot of lost artifacts that all sides would want to recover (one set to destroy the other to reclaim).

Jane_Smith
2012-10-09, 06:01 AM
Oh dear god unhealthy thought. Zombie prostitutes. :smalleek: Excuse me. /vomits entire set of internal organs out.

Also interesting thought, but perhaps you could make a special form of the phylactery for citizens of this nation to keep there souls bound to there corpse? It would allow there mental stats, memories, etc to stay within a normally mindless undead and there old class levels, etc. So you might find preserved zombie shop keepers who died 50 years ago from drinking to much/etc who act like they never died, still boastful and trying to haggle peoples to the last copper. I believe there was a material from forgotten realms that could be made into a dagger that could store the soul of the last person you killed near it. Something like that could be used, sealed to keep the soul permanently inside (with the owner willing) and put on or in a zombie or skeleton to keep them "alive".

It could even be fairly cheap and allow the skeletons and zombies in the cities/etc to retain free will or allow them to make more intelligent decisions while under a necromancers direct control/orders. Suddenly you have an entire royal guard made up of zombies and wizards who are just as fearsome as any other master warriors/archmagi/etc of the living without having to go threw lichdom/deathknight bs.

Book of Vile Darkness had simular templates - Corpse Creature and something else for the skeleton, they retained intelligence/class levels.

Oh, and as a added benefit, permanent gentle repose. If a citizen is gonna spend 500-1,000 gold for a "continue on living" button, they likely wish to do so as life-like as possible for as long as possible.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 06:07 AM
Oh dear god unhealthy thought. Zombie prostitutes. :smalleek: Excuse me. /vomits entire set of internal organs out.

Also interesting thought, but perhaps you could make a special form of the phylactery for citizens of this nation to keep there souls bound to there corpse? It would allow there mental stats, memories, etc to stay within a normally mindless undead and there old class levels, etc. So you might find preserved zombie shop keepers who died 50 years ago from drinking to much/etc who act like they never died, still boastful and trying to haggle peoples to the last copper. I believe there was a material from forgotten realms that could be made into a dagger that could store the soul of the last person you killed near it. Something like that could be used, sealed to keep the soul permanently inside (with the owner willing) and put on or in a zombie or skeleton to keep them "alive".

It could even be fairly cheap and allow the skeletons and zombies in the cities/etc to retain free will or allow them to make more intelligent decisions while under a necromancers direct control/orders. Suddenly you have an entire royal guard made up of zombies and wizards who are just as fearsome as any other master warriors/archmagi/etc of the living without having to go threw lichdom/deathknight bs.

Book of Vile Darkness had simular templates - Corpse Creature and something else for the skeleton, they retained intelligence/class levels.

Oh, and as a added benefit, permanent gentle repose. If a citizen is gonna spend 500-1,000 gold for a "continue on living" button, they likely wish to do so as life-like as possible for as long as possible.

This actually sounds alot like a refluff of libris mortis' necropolitan template, maybe with a few tweaks.

But isn't making all the undead in the society intelligent kind of getting away from the original idea a bit too much?

Edit: re; zombie hookers: :smalleek: That's just plain nasty. I don't care how good the embalmers are. What in the world brought that thought to mind?

Edit 2: re; 'marsh's comment about the scope of his necrotheist society:

Over-expansion is definitely one of the biggest contributors to the fall of empires. Seems like the particular version you prefer is an empire in decline rather than a standing nation. Extra chaos = extra fun, being the idea?

Jane_Smith
2012-10-09, 06:17 AM
Well "Decline" is "Growth" for a necromantic empire if you consider it. :smalltongue: Oh, we lost a war. Better reanimate twice as many soldiers then we lost. Oh, we had a famine. Guess we needed more street cleaners and farmers.

I just realized necromancers are the most optimistic people in the universe.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-09, 06:19 AM
Also interesting thought, but perhaps you could make a special form of the phylactery for citizens of this nation to keep there souls bound to there corpse? It would allow there mental stats, memories, etc to stay within a normally mindless undead and there old class levels, etc. So you might find preserved zombie shop keepers who died 50 years ago from drinking to much/etc who act like they never died, still boastful and trying to haggle peoples to the last copper. I believe there was a material from forgotten realms that could be made into a dagger that could store the soul of the last person you killed near it. Something like that could be used, sealed to keep the soul permanently inside (with the owner willing) and put on or in a zombie or skeleton to keep them "alive".

Citizens have at least part of their souls bound to the material culture of the city. For example an journeyman sculptor works on his masterpiece. Upon completion he has a peace of his spirit bound within it when he donates his work to the city in exchange for his official and civic recognition as a master sculptor

They then reincarnate as new people upon death (the messy way, not the magic revive character way). Memories, personality and experiences would be more or less lost ...but it might be possible to get flashes of what you where through dreams or when in contact with an artifact that holds a proportion of your soul.

I like the idea of ideas, memories, skills and experiences being directly recorded and preserved in archives (some of which may be open to the public, others available by special permission and still others sealed as most secret).

If you where willing to under go the ritual, if it where felt that you had earned it, if you had an "elder" willing to sponsor and if you managed to pass an interview and vetting procedure you would be made a into some kind of sentient undead as befits your role and status.



Over-expansion is definitely one of the biggest contributors to the fall of empires. Seems like the particular version you prefer is an empire in decline rather than a standing nation. Extra chaos = extra fun, being the idea?

:smalltongue: It helps to explain why people would hate necromancy but also why they are not the absolute terror of the world.


I just realized necromancers are the most optimistic people in the universe.

They would have to be goers to take on the universe.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 06:26 AM
Citizens have at least part of their souls bound to the material culture of the city. For example an journeyman sculptor works on his masterpiece. Upon completion he has a peace of his spirit bound within it when he donates his work to the city in exchange for his official and civic recognition as a master sculptor

They then reincarnate as new people upon death (the messy way, not the magic revive character way). Memories, personality and experiences would be more or less lost ...but it might be possible to get flashes of what you where through dreams or when in contact with an artifact that holds a proportion of your soul.

I like the idea of ideas, memories, skills and experiences being directly recorded and preserved in archives (some of which may be open to the public, others available by special permission and still others sealed as most secret).

If you where willing to under go the ritual, if it where felt that you had earned it, if you had an "elder" willing to sponsor and if you managed to pass an interview and vetting procedure you would be made a into some kind of sentient undead as befits your role and status.

This is an interesting enough idea that I'm probably going to look into whether or not it can be done with existing rules. I suspect so, though I'm not sure why.

On that last bit, don't forget that there will be outlaws that try to circumvent the normal procedures in one way or another, and have you considered undead immigration? A society that has undead creatures running it will appear as a haven to other undead whether that's actually the government's intent or not.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-09, 06:33 AM
On that last bit, don't forget that there will be outlaws that try to circumvent the normal procedures in one way or another, and have you considered undead immigration? A society that has undead creatures running it will appear as a haven to other undead whether that's actually the government's intent or not.

Had not thought about immigration of the undead. It would have to be sentient free roaming dead with no ties to the gods or independent necromancers. Wouldn't imagine that their are enough of them to cause a problem by I do like the concept of a "corpus ghoul auxilia".

There are always outlaws on everything. Would make an interesting character concept or plot hook.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 06:59 AM
Had not thought about immigration of the undead. It would have to be sentient free roaming dead with no ties to the gods or independent necromancers. Wouldn't imagine that their are enough of them to cause a problem by I do like the concept of a "corpus ghoul auxilia".

There are always outlaws on everything. Would make an interesting character concept or plot hook.

I brought up outlaws because whenever you have to create a law about something that peculiar, it bears thinking about how exactly one goes about breaking and/or circumventing that law as well as default punishments for those that break that particular law.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-09, 07:17 AM
As the point of the culture is to create an artificial cycle of rebirth the strongest penalty would be excommunication from this. The phrase "Gods take you!" springs to mind.

An atypical crime would be trafficking with outsiders (being a cleric/paladin/favored soul/diabolist or warlock).



Strange thought. The necropolis is a sort of genius locci, its chock full of spirits and awakened or sub sentient artifacts. If these formed a subsentient gasalt could the necropolis be used as a source for semi divine/ urban primal spell casting? would it be a viable partner for some sort of urban pact warlock?

The next big question is can the entire city "awaken" as a sentient gasalt entity and what would that mean for the society?

zlefin
2012-10-09, 07:19 AM
Here's one idea i'm considering using to address the issues:
You need a vessel and a spirit to animate something.
A body is a vessel;
the spirits used to animate undead come from the lower planes, lemures or their equivalents. Thus justifies all undead and their creation being evil. This is done because it's cheap. The lower planes provide these spirits at low low prices (25 gp/hit die for some!). While the spirits may be lemures, the providers are higher-ups in the evil system, who have the authority to rent out these souls.

You can also animate using elemental spirits (like golems), or wholly artificial spirits (some other constructs). It's possible to animate a body using the same processes as construct animation, it's just a LOT more expensive (several hundred gp per hit die); as such most people use the evil option.
Other aligned spirits (good, neutral, etc) can be used, but it tends to be a lot harder/expensive; and a lot more selective about who they're willing to work/provide spirits for.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-09, 07:48 AM
Thats a completely different take on it and would remove the elements of necromancy from the process as it was originally intended - now its less about using negative energy and more like a form of lesser conjuration (summoning a possessive spirit to a corpse). That would fit better for a horror game or something, but would not fit the necromancy school. Even if 3.0+ ruined necromancy to make it "BBEG Ammo only" and removed positive energy from it, that would not justice necromancy suddenly popping demons out of nowhere to shove in corpses or having a connection to demons in any form; especially considering demons are NOT picky about what type of magic they use or corrupt and they do not have any connection to negative energy or necromancy in particular (Except orcus, but hes an UNDEAD demon, and a very very rare exception to the rule) - especially considering negative energy would just as happily devour, decay, and obliterate demons and devils from the universe along with all other living matter.


Also about the awakened society/core - one thing in particular comes to mind. The mythals or whatever from forgotten realms the elves use to use epic spells with, and the netheresse. Now picture them with the stored memories of a couple hundred thousand citizens. Behold. We are legion. It would likely be neutral/friendly with the people living near it/in it because, after all, a good percentage of them would be family to the memories/souls within the city/core, and would want to protect them by any means necessary... it would, in essence, be a man-made god with enough souls added to it, and would perhaps draw ancestor worship?

hoverfrog
2012-10-09, 08:28 AM
Slightly off topic but it seems that some evil necromancers have slaughtered entire cities full of people (http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2012/10/08/wow-hack/?utm_source=Naked+Security+-+Sophos+List&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=84692dc26b-naked%252Bsecurity) in Azeroth. This is the kind of thing that gives necromancy a bad name.

It isn't the reanimation of bones and corpses that is so bad but using these and their other powers to kill people. Even a 1 HD skeleton is more than a match for a 1st level warrior. When your raw materials are the bodies of those killed then it has got to make people a bit wary of you.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-09, 08:34 AM
Undeath and necromancy in azeroth are actually specifically tied to demons as they were, for a long time, the "soften them up" option the burning legion threw at worlds to prepare them for there invasions, and thus have direct and strong demonic ties.

However, after that bond between them was severed by the orcish shaman who became the "Lich King" before arthas, and then when arthas/lich king became weak for a but a moment and lost control of many of those undead, look at how many undead became neutral or even good in azeroth, such as many of the forsaken who retain there past memories. That proves that without the demonic or corruptive influence mass-controlling them, they were not innately evil.

hoverfrog
2012-10-09, 08:41 AM
If nothing else it makes for an interesting NPC if you find a good wight or even awakened skeleton (vampires and liches have already been done to death :smallbiggrin:). You can't really do that if the power that animates then stems from a realm of unspeakable evil.

willpell
2012-10-09, 09:03 AM
If nothing else it makes for an interesting NPC if you find a good wight or even awakened skeleton (vampires and liches have already been done to death :smallbiggrin:). You can't really do that if the power that animates then stems from a realm of unspeakable evil.

Wights are a wickety case because according to RAW, any creature slain by Negative Levels rises as a wight unless something specifies otherwise. Succubus gives you a night of passion that's to die for? You're a wight. Warlock uses an Utterdark Blast on you every 6 seconds for twelve hours straight until you finally fail all the saves? You're a wight. Energy drain, another wight plays pattycake with you, even if you're Evil and dumb enough to pick up more than your HD worth of Holy equipment - there are many ways to become a wight, almost all of them unpleasant, and when you die from a source that's nearly always flavored as something siphoning the life out of you, I really have a hard time seeing how you'd get up on the Good side of the grave the next evening.

hoverfrog
2012-10-09, 09:08 AM
In the same way that vampire spawn freed when their master dies I can see wight spawn choosing a path of redemption after the destruction of their own master. Absolutely would it be an extremely rare, perhaps even unique, occurrence but in my games if I can think of a good story to back it up then I'm not going to let little things like logic, reason and the rules interfere with it.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-09, 10:09 AM
ACTUALLY I have seen a single case of a premade module with a good aligned, or at least neutral, wight. I forgot the name of the module but effectively there was like.. 6-9 children in a village that got wiped out who were all murdered by a undead creature and tortured/etc. There corpses came back as wights and they "mimiced" what they did in life. They were not violent/etc at all, but when they tried to 'play' with the pc's they would drain levels by accident, not threw evil intentions. Kinda sad really.

Also good example of a ghost - whats her face from carrion crown, adventure path 1, wife of the warden of the jail. I have not read beyond part 1 of the adventures, so I dunno, but I would be willing to bet there are other good-aligned undead/odd balls in it.

willpell
2012-10-09, 10:53 AM
Ghosts are a special case IMO; I don't even know that they ought to be undead, the "deathless" of BOXD are just as valid and there's little in-universe reason to distinguish them. Really though I'm more inclined to treat all lingering souls as their own separate thing...it makes sense that they can be Turned, but I definitely don't think they're Evil any more often than Good, they can be clinging to the mortal coil for any of a thousand reasons, and at most being powered by negative energy would slightly incline them toward either deliberate spite or reckless endangerment (all their efforts to reuinte with their family going horribly wrong due to their own tainted nature, very tragic stuff). If it was narratively convenient at all, I probably wouldn't hesitate to ditch this altogether, and have a ghost acting like Ben Kenobi in the Empire Strikes Back, just kinda chilling out and chatting up the heroes with random advice since that's all he's capable of anymore.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-09, 12:13 PM
Also about the awakened society/core - one thing in particular comes to mind. The mythals or whatever from forgotten realms the elves use to use epic spells with, and the netheresse. Now picture them with the stored memories of a couple hundred thousand citizens. Behold. We are legion. It would likely be neutral/friendly with the people living near it/in it because, after all, a good percentage of them would be family to the memories/souls within the city/core, and would want to protect them by any means necessary... it would, in essence, be a man-made god with enough souls added to it, and would perhaps draw ancestor worship?

I don't know about neutral or friendly, few things are more terrifying than the faceless mob.

I don't think that the gasalt would have the complete memories and experiences, just an impression of the strongest or most pervasive. (OH god shades of undead sentient internet:smalleek:) Something about this set up seems ever so slightly dwarven.

LordErebus12
2012-10-09, 12:59 PM
played a vampire paladin of pelor once... that didnt last long... hahaha

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-09, 02:07 PM
Of course not, pelor being well...pelor has seen that film that must not be named and had had enough of angsty teen pseudo vamps. Sparkle at me will you? lets see how you cope with the anvil of the sun intensified by a magic lens thirty five miles wide!!:smallcool:

I am thinking... what if the necrotheist where one of the first great human empires? They cleared the way, opened up huge tracts of uncharted wilderness, slew the tarseresques, dragons and a host of other assorted megabests that plagued the area. Their enlightened aproch to the mystic pioneered much of the arcane thought that had languished in superstition for ages past.

Then they where brought down. Maybe a vast barbarian host overwhelmed the frontiers, maybe infighting tore them apart in civil war, maybe some profit has lead a religions revolution in the heartlands. Perhaps the religious scouring had forces the disparate tribal gods to coalesces into a new harsher, more powerful pantheon; one that called down blight after cataclysm to destroy the old empire. Perhaps it was all of these things, but it was the end of the beginning and the beginning of a new era.

Now the lands are a patchwork resurgent wilderness and petty and rude kingdoms, the best of them little more than pretenders to lost imperial glory. The landscape first tamed by immortal hands and then assailed by the forces of "nature" are studded and crisscrossed with abandoned palaces, haunted ruins, esoteric monuments, tumble down aqueducts and walls, arrow strait and level road gone to seed; the knowings of their makings lost beyond all mortal ken.

In the harshest, most forlorn or forgotten corners of what was once the old empire lie the embattled remnants of its once vast Majesty. These fortress citadels where once little more than provincial towns, their size swelled by the hordes of wild eyed refugees and their walls, streets and vaults enriched by what little could be saved from the great burning of civilization.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 06:19 PM
Ghosts are a special case IMO; I don't even know that they ought to be undead, the "deathless" of BOXD are just as valid and there's little in-universe reason to distinguish them. Really though I'm more inclined to treat all lingering souls as their own separate thing...it makes sense that they can be Turned, but I definitely don't think they're Evil any more often than Good, they can be clinging to the mortal coil for any of a thousand reasons, and at most being powered by negative energy would slightly incline them toward either deliberate spite or reckless endangerment (all their efforts to reuinte with their family going horribly wrong due to their own tainted nature, very tragic stuff). If it was narratively convenient at all, I probably wouldn't hesitate to ditch this altogether, and have a ghost acting like Ben Kenobi in the Empire Strikes Back, just kinda chilling out and chatting up the heroes with random advice since that's all he's capable of anymore.

Ghosts are already a special case. They can't be deliberately created through magic and their alignment is whatever it was in life. They're undead because, as I understand it, there's a certain resonance between negative emotions and negative energy. The deathless version arises from a sense of duty and is a creature of positive energy.

You might take a look at the ghostwalk ghost template. I use it in my campaigns to model ancestor spirits in the societies that do the ancestor worship thing.

SiuiS
2012-10-09, 06:45 PM
I know that. In fact, that was what the statement of mine that you quoted was intended to show the person you quoted immediately prior.

Okay. Sorry if that bothered you at all, i was mostly finding relevant springboards for things.


The description of the undead type already contradicts the necessity of destroying the undead, and there's an argument to be made that a character and his corpse become seperate upon death unless he becomes an intelligent undead.

There is a decent argument for even intelligent undeath being more of a snapshot of the personality, and the soul still leaving. Don't intelligent undead not show up under soulsight?



Killing for no reason is NOT evil - for it to be evil it would have to have a reason (pleasure, indulgence, sport, lust, etc.)

I agree. There is a difference between murder and killing.



Raising the dead is only an evil act to our society, that does not make it actually an evil act. Its like the bosmer in the elder scrolls series: they eat the flesh of there dead elders so they can live on with them and carry on. Does that make them evil? To the empire? Maybe. To the bosmer culture? No. To the cosmos? It does not give the tiniest amount of ****s, not even one. Its completely objective, so saying "undead is evil" has no solid grounds besides a spell descriptor that was placed by the makers of a game who set out to make necromancy just another "villian spell set" - the game is flawed in many cases, ESPECIALLY alignment, and its up to us as players and dm's to fix it and mend it, not just blindly follow greyhawks/cores "FLAVOR" that says hur dur undead are innately evil - as thats fluff and not 100% subject to whatever setting we play (Besides greyhawk).
[...]
So yeah, I hate when people just say 'X is evil, period", it makes no sense, and I would not want to be in any setting where alignment is so concrete and black/white, as it is rather bland and boring.


I think the real lesson in alignments is - toss all alignment descriptors and good/evil mentions out of the core game and use proper judgement/common sense in game to whats really evil or good, its really the only way to handle it logically.

I feel you are mistaken. Yes, you can play a game using morality instead of alignment, but morality is NOT alignment, and alignment is NOT morality. Saying that alignment fails as a morality, so you should get rid of it entirely, is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Evil is not a person's ideas on something. It is a discrete measurable phenomenon, like mass. this is an intentional design goal of the game, it is not an artefact, it is not a mistake, and it is not some ham-fisted effort to justify anything. It is as much an intentional part of Dungeons and Dragons as wizards and clerics are. It is as thought through as magic as a system.

Yes, you can ply without alignment, and I encourage you to do so, as some gaes are more fun when you cant brainscan people to judge them. But that does not mean D&D is flawed because you don't like something, and telling people that thery should discard the rules is silly.

This is also about Why udead are evil, and has nothing to do with should undead be evil. Saying they should not be is irrelevant, because it does not answer the question. The question is; Undead are evil, why is that so? Asserting the rules for why are dumb may be true, but it's unhelpful, and is segueing into an argumentative topic, needlessly.

The system works, and makes perfect sense, regardless of whether any one person or group of people like the end results.

Dr.Epic
2012-10-09, 06:47 PM
Wait...

If Undead=Evil, and if Star Trek has taught me anything, Goatee=Evil, then...

Undead=Goatee.

:smalleek:

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-09, 09:14 PM
@SiuiS:

If you mean soulsight, the feat from MoI, then its actually capable of detecting all creatures if your brow chakra is open.

That argument can kinda work for corporeal undead, but I know that incorporeal undead explicitly are souls. I'm pretty sure this is stated in the description of magic jar if not somewhere else.

Unfortunately the soul is somewhat poorly defined in 3.5, and worse, that definition is scattered through several books.
I actually compiled the lore into a single post once, I'll see if I can dig it up.

Edit: Found it. Here's my short essay on what the soul is in 3.5. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7191626&postcount=22)

I'm no longer certain about the part where I mention the soul being bound to mindless undead though.

I actually think it's relevant to the current discussion, but I can't copy/paste because of the machine I'm on. Could somebody quote me?

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-10, 02:20 AM
So possible reasons as to why undead are inherently evil in vanilla DnD.

1) Negative energy is tainted with evil
2) The spells used to create them are tied to or draw on evil (in which case look to the original authors of the spells for a clue as to why this is the case).
3) They violate the natural order, assuming that is inherently evil.
4) Negative energy makes them destructive, which in turn makes them evil.
5) Because the daemons picked necromancy for team evil.
6) Because they are not human, and anything not humane is evil.
7) Because it does something unpleasant to the soul
8) Because the creator of the universe has an predilection for the evil dead.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-10, 02:39 AM
I'd pick 8. Seems about right.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-10, 02:58 AM
So possible reasons as to why undead are inherently evil in vanilla DnD.

1) Negative energy is tainted with evil
2) The spells used to create them are tied to or draw on evil (in which case look to the original authors of the spells for a clue as to why this is the case).
3) They violate the natural order, assuming that is inherently evil.
4) Negative energy makes them destructive, which in turn makes them evil.
5) Because the daemons picked necromancy for team evil.
6) Because they are not human, and anything not humane is evil.
7) Because it does something unpleasant to the soul
8) Because the creator of the universe has an predilection for the evil dead.

Undead aren't inherently evil for the most part. Their creation is, but the undead themselves are only inherently evil if they're mindless, a result of the instincts built into them combined with a lack of agency not to act on them. The intelligent undead have just as much agency in their alignment as any other intelligent creature without an alignment subtype. Remember that "Always X" on the creature's alignment line doesn't actually mean they're 100% always that alignment.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-10, 03:25 AM
Evil does not seem to be limited to actors however. Objects, spells, energy fields and even entire planes of existence can be ascribed to as evil.

The question becomes is evil something you do, something you are or something you are corrupted by? I think that even the mindless dead could be classed as evil on all counts... not that I have anything against evil persay mind, the fiction and aesthetic of evil is both cool and sexy.

Necrotheist recap

If one where to reject and renounce the gods, alignment, divinely revealed morality and all other outsiders then necromancy would be a vital tool in the arsenal.

It grants a society control of its moralities control over their own afterlife. Broken free from the tyranny of the alignment system men are free to decide for themselves what is right or wrong, free to decide their own destinies. The long term goal could be first the liberation of the mundane from outside influence and then the storming of the golden gates and the cleansing of the deepest pits; casting all outsiders to the shadows of the beyond.

I envisage a society where a part of the soul is bound to an artefacts (be it a building, monument, weapon, jewel or warforged golem armour). This binds the rest of the spirit to this world, forcing the person into a cycle of reincarnation centred on their artefact/phalactry. During each life the soul is rebound to the artefacts (or to another) making the object more powerful. Perhaps in the long run the object awakens and the (or an) individual is completely bound within. I imagine that for large objects like ships, fortresses or cities many people can be bound in and of them.

"This place ...this place is sacred. Everyone who loved it, everyone who lived it, who died for it, who shed blood sweat and tears for it has left a part of themselves here. It is our ancestorsí legacy to us, our legacy to the future. Tread carefully stranger, for you are treading on our souls."
******
Citizens have at least part of their souls bound to the material culture of the city. For example an journeyman sculptor works on his masterpiece. Upon completion he has a peace of his spirit bound within it when he donates his work to the city in exchange for his official and civic recognition as a master sculptor

They then reincarnate as new people upon death (the messy way, not the magic revive character way). Memories, personality and experiences would be more or less lost ...but it might be possible to get flashes of what you where through dreams or when in contact with an artifact that holds a proportion of your soul.

I like the idea of ideas, memories, skills and experiences being directly recorded and preserved in archives (some of which may be open to the public, others available by special permission and still others sealed as most secret).

If you were willing to undergo the ritual, if it where felt that you had earned it, if you had an "elder" willing to sponsor and if you managed to pass an interview and vetting procedure you would be made a into some kind of sentient undead as befits your role and status.
************************************
On the question of vampires; I can well imagine a vampiric aristocracy forming an officer class together with a "priesthood"/civil service formed of necromancers and liches.

Then comes the question if you want to extend economic and social franchise over the bulk of the population or do you want a good sized citizen class of landowners and craftsmen and a large non-citizen class of registered aliens, tenet farmers and/or slaves. Non-citizens would have to hand over their bodies after their done using them (relic tax) in lei of wealth or income based taxes.

I also would like to state that I think that necromancy does touch on the soul, though exactly how I wouldn't like to say. (Note that in the old text necromancy was a form of divination, similar to mediums). However I would like to ask "Is this necessarily a bad thing?"

Remember when I said that the souls of the citizenry are tied to the artefacts, heirlooms, monuments and buildings of the land? Well tying the non-citizens to their own bones and using them would be the entry level of this. To have better would require that you are deemed to have contributed more, earned better in this life for your next. Note that this may lead to a caste system if you wanted to spin it that way.
I Think that these control artifact would be rented out to people/businesses by registered necromancers. They would control no more that a score of undead and would have a serial number stamped into each talisman. This would be a major source of revenue for the state and the low taxes that this (amongst other things) would allow would be good for the economy.

I can also well imagine a limited charge summon/control device being sold to adventurers or a rechargeable version issued to military NCO's and public works officers.

I do imagine that many skeletons would be stock piled in cold storage as a kind of strategic/economic reserve. Either disarticulated skeletons stored in vaults or a whole terracotta army vibe) Most of the time bodies would be used as magical reagents or focuses.

****************************

It would probably start out as a city state and grow from there. Whether as a fractious alliance of city states, a small nation, a patchwork of elector states or as a full blown unitary empire would be very much up to the DM.

This set up is under siege, it goal is universal dominion. It must expend or die and thus could well begin to suffer what I call the "disease of bigness". As a result it could well fluctuate between two or more of these scenarios.

If their was a "necropolitan empire" that was destroyed a few thousand years ago then it could well be that their are a number of embattled vestiges in isolated or defensible locations. It would also allow for haunted ruins, SEIAC ancient strategic reserves and a lot of lost artifacts that all sides would want to recover (one set to destroy the other to reclaim).
I am thinking... what if the necrotheist where one of the first great human empires? They cleared the way, opened up huge tracts of uncharted wilderness, slew the tarseresques, dragons and a host of other assorted megabests that plagued the area. Their enlightened aproch to the mystic pioneered much of the arcane thought that had languished in superstition for ages past.

Then they where brought down. Maybe a vast barbarian host overwhelmed the frontiers, maybe infighting tore them apart in civil war, maybe some profit has lead a religions revolution in the heartlands. Perhaps the religious scouring had forces the disparate tribal gods to coalesces into a new harsher, more powerful pantheon; one that called down blight after cataclysm to destroy the old empire. Perhaps it was all of these things, but it was the end of the beginning and the beginning of a new era.

Now the lands are a patchwork resurgent wilderness and petty and rude kingdoms, the best of them little more than pretenders to lost imperial glory. The landscape first tamed by immortal hands and then assailed by the forces of "nature" are studded and crisscrossed with abandoned palaces, haunted ruins, esoteric monuments, tumble down aqueducts and walls, arrow strait and level road gone to seed; the knowings of their makings lost beyond all mortal ken.

In the harshest, most forlorn or forgotten corners of what was once the old empire lay the embattled remnants of its once vast Majesty. These fortress citadels where once little more than provincial towns, their size swelled by the hordes of wild eyed refugees and their walls, streets and vaults enriched by what little could be saved from the great burning of civilization.

FAQ

Social inequity?

Some people will always be at the bottom. This is the reason why I acknowledge the existence of surfs, of slaves and metics is a highly likely possibility in this kind of society. Plus people need more than bread and circuses. They need something that theirs, something to work for.

As part of the social control system I think some kind of hideously twisted variant of the American dream could be the answer. "work hard In school kids and if you want it bad enough you to could become an abominable blasphemy in the sight of all that's holy!"

Isnít this still Evil?

Doesn't matter if itís good or evil in this case. On the alignment system such a societal would fall off of the axis, sit in the middle or oscillate widely from one side to the other. Trying to be a Neizchien ubermenchen society does that. Why should they define or limit themselves to the cosmic accursed alignment system? This would make them a very tempting target for both the red and blue teams (as well as the purple, orange and maroon teams)

I rather think that the cosmic forces of good, evil and/or blancmange would go to great length to eradicate such a society whatever its alignment is or is not. Its just good business to stamp out threats.

Free your mind, free your soul!

What is good and evil anyway?

I like the idea of the forces of good and evil being opposed by cultural and political differences, but not opposite.

So good uses positive energy and evil uses negative. These are opposed and cancel each other out. There is nothing inherently evil or good about them, they are merely tools.

The forces of good favour actions certain actions, they also approve of actions that favour themselves. In this they are no different than the forces of evil. Alignment is connected to morality by opposition and cultural convention only. Necromancy is evil because the forces of evil have a proprietary interest over it

Both sides wish to control the mortal world for their own ends, they both desire souls. All sides in their interminable war shamelessly commit and expect their followers to commit horrific acts against the other; they take pride in this and umbrage to those who object.

Strange thought

The necropolis is a sort of genius locci, its chock full of spirits and awakened or sub sentient artifacts. If these formed a subsentient gasalt could the necropolis be used as a source for semi divine/ urban primal spell casting? would it be a viable partner for some sort of urban pact warlock?

The next big question is can the entire city "awaken" as a sentient gasalt entity and what would that mean for the society? It has been suggested that this would become some sort of artificial civic god.

Crime and punishment?

As the point of the culture is to create an artificial cycle of rebirth the strongest penalty would be excommunication from this. The phrase "Gods take you!" springs to mind.

An atypical crime would be trafficking with outsiders (being a cleric/paladin/favored soul/diabolist or warlock).

Religious unrest?

I think that this society would be subject to a level of paranoia and public witch hunts for priests and laymen. It might be somewhere between the anti-Catholic sentiment of Tudor England, the McArthiest red scare and the persecution of early Christians.

Undead immigration?

Had not thought about immigration of the undead. It would have to be sentient free roaming dead with no ties to the gods or independent necromancers. Wouldn't imagine that their are enough of them to cause a problem by I do like the concept of a "corpus ghoul auxilia".

Utopia?

I think that a local utopia can exist at least partially but only in opposition to another force. The blitz spirit is a shared fear of the other, of loosing what one has; a sense that if you don't pull together and get along you are going to get hammered.

That is why my necrothieists need the enmity of beings like the gods. Without the threat of an all pervading and eternal opponent it would eventually fall apart. If they did not have gods they would probably be forced to create them.

Dystopia?
What about constantly subverting your ideas and presumptions of both. A society which on the surface looks pretty evil but when you get to know it better it "seems" to be actually not too bad in principle. On closer examination however there is trouble in "paradise" only the locals are too obsessed with towing the party line to see it. Not a bad metaphor for the practical application of communism/democracy.

Aknolagements

I would like to particualy thank Jane_Smith and Kelb_Panthera for their impute, advice and support.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-10, 03:43 AM
Like I said before, Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos are cosmic forces. These forces recognize and tag certain behaviours and thoughts and can be deliberately infused into creatures and objects. Certain creatures even spring spontaneously from these forces on planes that are made-up primarily of them.

Evil recognizes the instincts of mindless undead; the drive to destroy life for no purpose; and the creation of all undead.

Just about the only undead whose creation doesn't reconcile with the alignment rules are liches and necropolitans. Both say that the rituals to create them are evil without ever giving any solid reason as to why, and neither has anything driving them toward evil behavior that they didn't have as living creatures. They're the only examples of undead I can think of that have literally nothing tying them to evil except the designers said so.

Your necrotheist society has developed to the point that you might consider posting it in the homebrew world-building subforum. I think it's interesting enough that a fair number of people would use it.

hoverfrog
2012-10-10, 03:44 AM
The question becomes is evil something you do, something you are or something you are corrupted by?Morality is based on action, not on existence. A goblin is neutral evil because of the way it acts, not because it is a goblin and a vampire is always evil because it preys on humans as cattle to feed its need for blood. Mindless undead don't take voluntary actions, they are animated remains obeying the orders of their creator. They are considered evil because we have a respect for the memories of our loved ones who have passed and do not wish to see their remains used as tools or soldiers of conquest. There is nothing inherently evil about a skeleton or a zombie though. From the SRD
A skeleton does only what it is ordered to do. It can draw no conclusions of its own and takes no initiative. There is no intent behind its actions, indeed it has no actions of its own, only those of its creator or controller.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-10, 04:03 AM
Morality is based on action, not on existence. A goblin is neutral evil because of the way it acts, not because it is a goblin and a vampire is always evil because it preys on humans as cattle to feed its need for blood. Mindless undead don't take voluntary actions, they are animated remains obeying the orders of their creator. They are considered evil because we have a respect for the memories of our loved ones who have passed and do not wish to see their remains used as tools or soldiers of conquest. There is nothing inherently evil about a skeleton or a zombie though. From the SRD There is no intent behind its actions, indeed it has no actions of its own, only those of its creator or controller.

Morality is based on culture. Whether that culture recognizes good or evil (or whatever other words they use, honorable and dishonorable spring quickly to mind) based on actions, existence, or something else entirely is outside the scope of the alignment system. A goblin is neutral evil if it has more thoughts and performs more actions that are good than it has or does evil, and has about the same ratio of chaotic to lawful. The same is true of vampires.

You get almost exclusively evil vampires because of the behavior that arises from the blood-thirst. Left unsated long enough it turns them into ravening beasts that destroy life for their own benefit. A vampire that only feeds on volunteers (shoudln't be too hard to find given their charisma) and uses his supernatural powers for good will have one or another good alignment. Again, always doesn't mean always in the alignment line of a creature's stat block.

BTW, alignment very much can be the result of existence; see the 4 alignment subtypes.

hoverfrog
2012-10-10, 04:42 AM
Kelb_Panthera, I'm not sure I follow. Let's use an example.

If orc culture encourages slavery of prisoners and active aggression against anyone not part of the tribe then we would consider the orcs evil but within their culture the ones with the most slaves would be the epitome of orc kind, a moral paragon in fact.

This then becomes a really subjective view of alignment. A vampire who sees humanity as cattle is no more evil that a human who sees cows as cattle unless you happen to be a human or a cow. Objectively if we measure good and evil as the weal or woe of an action then slavery results in greater harm that good for the majority, as does the killing of humans to keep the vampire alive. They are objectively evil acts.

Individuals may justify their actions as subjectively good by citing cultural moors, as in modern day "honour killings" but objectively as long as we use weal and woe as a measure they are not good acts.

Mindless undead though make no such moral considerations. They simply obey. Their existence might be considered an insult to the memories of the dead and so subjectively cruel and wrong. However animated skeletons tasked with carrying out the dangerous and unpleasant jobs unfit for people or to replace a human soldier on the front line have a net positive result for humanity. It becomes objectively good to animate the dead and have them serve.

At least that's what my necromancer would say. :smallsmile:

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-10, 05:07 AM
Set aside morality for a second.

You have two sides, one wears black hats the other white. They hate each other and do awful things to each other simply because they are in conflict.

Each side has its own set of mostly conflicting values.

Morality is what people think is right or wrong, acceptable or taboo. It is subjective and influenced by but not dependent on alignment.

Imagine that your moral compos is an actual compos. It will hove in on its "magnetic north" -on the alignments- but it will be affected to one degree or another by local influences.

Off topic: Necrotheism has jumped ship to this thread.
http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=14026034#post14026034

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-10, 05:11 AM
The problem you're running into, and the most common one that catches most people, is that you're not seperating alignment and morality. They're related but they aren't the same thing.

Alignment is what I've described above, a series of fundamental cosmic forces that predate any mind that could contemplate morality. The gods themselves were created by these forces rather than the other way 'round. (Except in FR, then there was Ao, but he's beyond the system altogether and one could say he made the gods out of the alignment forces without contradicting anything in the rules or the lore.)

Morality is a social construct devised by sapient creatures to encourage certain behaviours and discourage others within their society. Which behaviors are seen as good (encouraged) or bad (discouraged) are dependent on the culture itself.

It so happens, that the alignment forces recognize certain behaviors that many cultures see as morally charged.

An overwhelming majority of cultures see slitting your neighbor's throat to get his coin-pouch and his horse as things to be discouraged (morally evil in the cultural sense) but there are some that see it as an acceptable act (morally neutral in the cultural sense) and some that see it as the best way to weed out the weak and unworthy (morally good in the cultural sense).

The above is also a piece of behavior that the cosmic force known as evil would recognize (morally evil in the alignment sense).

The language of the system is what's at fault for this confusion. By using the terms good and evil and calling it the moral axis of alignment, the designers seriously muddied the water of what the system actually is versus how it's percieved.

Edit: that's the third time today I've been ninja'd. :smallannoyed:

Tsumeken
2012-10-10, 05:18 AM
I've always found Mummies to be one of the more less evil undead. Theay are usually made of rulers or powerful gaurdian/warriors who took their jobs extremely seriously. I've used Mummy Palidans as LG before but I've always surmised they were kinda like liches in the sense that a ritual was needed to create them, Like Liches I suppose this means they can be any alignment really (since I did find a book that spoke about good aligned liches before)

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-10, 05:31 AM
I've always found Mummies to be one of the more less evil undead. Theay are usually made of rulers or powerful gaurdian/warriors who took their jobs extremely seriously. I've used Mummy Palidans as LG before but I've always surmised they were kinda like liches in the sense that a ritual was needed to create them, Like Liches I suppose this means they can be any alignment really (since I did find a book that spoke about good aligned liches before)

There've been several sources regarding good and non-evil liches. Libris mortis springs to mind.

Mummys are just usually evil. It's probably the mummy rot. Deliberately inflicting a curse or disease on an enemy is nearly always an evil act and the mummy's primary weapon is simultaneously both of these things. This is actually a third case in which the act of creating an undead isn't a necessarily evil act, unless mummy rot is contagious. Mummy's are created by an evil spell.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-10, 05:43 AM
Um, the original neverwinter nights games for pc, I think the base one, not the expansions, had a quest where you had to go into a fake dimension where 2 souls were being forced into an eternal trial waiting for judgement for a horrid crime of murder/etc by the higher planes.

They were brothers, one was a elven lich who was blamed for the murder of the children to become what he was. The second was a elven cleric of pelor who went insane from the murders and many blamed it was his guilt gnawing at him.

Moral of story; the lich was good and wanted to become one purely to protect his people.

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT DO NOT TOUCH IF YOU ACTUALLY CARE;
Ends up the lich was tricked into killing the children, the cleric was mindraped by a demon, and it ends up that the demon was secretly a part of the trial you unlock if you know burning hands and cast it as part of the ritual to summon him. You bring him back to the trial and find out he dominated the elven wizard and mind-raped him into thinking he did not kill the children, etc, and was the one who corrupted the cleric to murder more people/etc. HOWEVER, the best choice for this is to actually pick no one, even knowing the demons involvement/trickery, because if you judge the demon, he will just spend a few thousand years imprisoned and he does not care. Ends up however, if you do not pick anyone, the trial will remain going for ETERNITY trapping the demon and the two souls. You can seal the portal and keep anyone from ever intruding on the trial again. Gg balor, gg. What makes it even more touching is that the brothers are fine with this eternity of solitude.

Kyberwulf
2012-10-10, 02:22 PM
Well, I always thought that the undead in the monster manuel where created by Evil Clerics to do Evil Things, by Evil Gods. That is the reason they are always evil. I don't think that its cause they are inhereitnly evil. I suppose if you use spells by Wee Jas, or another neutral Deity or just got off the worship an Ideal, then they could probably be of a different alignment.

About the whol Negative energy thing. I thing most of the times, the reason why the creatures and energy is associated with being evil. Is because the want and desire to harm and destroy all Life is seen as an evil outlook. It doesn't if it's a natural out look or what not. I don't think ALL creatures and things from that plane are evil, just the ones that are to be used by the DM to create adventures. Also, another reason the undead are evil, even when created by neutral Deities. The husk might be mindless, but they are driven by the Negative energy to consume life, and energy.

You have to realise. That the monsters in the DMG are there so that the DM can make adventures, and fill them with monsters the players don't have any compunction about killing, and looting.

SoC175
2012-10-10, 03:17 PM
Too lazy to read the whole thread, but has it already been mentioned that non-intelligent undead used to be neutral until 3e

Jane_Smith
2012-10-10, 03:37 PM
Hell, before 3.0 necromancy had healing, death, and undeath magic in it. I dunno why they changed it so drastically. :smallfrown:

Tsumeken
2012-10-10, 03:42 PM
My Dm had a book for mages in his AD&D things and one spoke of things called White Necromancer who worked with good aligned churches healing diseases and such. I think their main purpose was to bring closure to families by bringing back their loved ones for short times in order for them to say goodbyes.

Water_Bear
2012-10-10, 05:02 PM
The problem with having Undead not being Evil is, well, why are you killing them?

If the Skeletons and Mummies in the Dungeon are Lawful beings guarding the tomb of their ancient ruler, you're kind of a **** for just smashing them apart to satisfy your own greed.

If any random Vampire or Wight can potentially turn their (un)life around and turn into a brooding antihero, staking them by the hundreds is closer to being a serial killer than a champion of Good.

Obviously, a good DM or skilled roleplayers can get around this. Negotiating with Mummies to borrow the world-saving amulet or running "Vampires Anonymous" meetings can make fun campaign ideas, but I'm not sure it should be the default. Just think of the Paladins.

(I see this as different from the "Usually Evil" Goblin/Orc thing because Goblins and Orcs embody really gross stereotypes of actual human cultures, which are used to justify really vile acts against them. On the other hand Zombies and other undead are essentially just the disposable robot mooks on children's TV shows; devoid of personality and morality, filling the need for unambiguous bad-guys for the heroes to mow down.)

Jane_Smith
2012-10-10, 05:12 PM
Adventurer's tend to be mercenaries, sellswords, assassins, tomb raiders, thieves and murderers. Look, a quest to kill a dragon whos terrorizing the town is the exact same method an assassin would get his mark, oh look a king has a bounty on his head, better speak with person X, kill thing Y, and get reward Z. And adventurer's are notorious for picking up things that do not belong to them, even in a crypt. Even if that crypt is of a god/king/legendary hero/saint/etc and looting a epic object from the crypt could unseal a powerful and ancient evil, 9 times out of 10, the pc's will take it. Technically in any normal society that would make THEM the evil party, and taking artifacts from even lawful good mummys would still be common place for pc's.

Also, nobody kills vampires anymore, that is old news. We only kill the sparkly ones, and normal vampires approve and support this decision.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-10, 05:18 PM
Well, I always thought that the undead in the monster manuel where created by Evil Clerics to do Evil Things, by Evil Gods. That is the reason they are always evil. I don't think that its cause they are inhereitnly evil. I suppose if you use spells by Wee Jas, or another neutral Deity or just got off the worship an Ideal, then they could probably be of a different alignment.

About the whol Negative energy thing. I thing most of the times, the reason why the creatures and energy is associated with being evil. Is because the want and desire to harm and destroy all Life is seen as an evil outlook. It doesn't if it's a natural out look or what not. I don't think ALL creatures and things from that plane are evil, just the ones that are to be used by the DM to create adventures. Also, another reason the undead are evil, even when created by neutral Deities. The husk might be mindless, but they are driven by the Negative energy to consume life, and energy.

You have to realise. That the monsters in the DMG are there so that the DM can make adventures, and fill them with monsters the players don't have any compunction about killing, and looting.

Actually, several of the undead in the monster manual and, I think, most of the undead elsewhere can't be created by spells. They're either created by spawning or undisclosed ritual. In the former case the creation of the progenitor creature's creation isn't usually discussed.

There are no creatures native to the negative energy plane if I'm not mistaken. If not for undead immigrants it'd just be an endless hungry void with a few voidstones here and there. Entropic creature template, Planar handbook pg 122.

On your last point, if you have strong enough compunctions regarding killing to apply them to a game, D&D is probably the wrong rpg for you, what with the basic paradigm of the game being "kill the bad guys and take their stuff so you can kill stronger bad guys to take their stuff."

Tsumeken
2012-10-10, 05:19 PM
I think the way around that would be that non intelligent undead are more like something to be saved rather then destroyed. If you go by the thoughts that skeletons and zombies move by binding the souls of their former selves to their bodies then it is destroying their physical forms that is their only means of release. Since they are essentially as Water Bear said "robot mooks" it is the objectives of the person who raised them that ultimately decides their objectives/actions.

Inteligant undead may have a choice in the matter though if they can resist the corruption of negative energy or just the trauma/hate incorporated with becoming a undead horror.

EDIT: I think the only creatures native to the Negative energy plane are Shadows and Night Walker/Wing/Crawler

Kyberwulf
2012-10-10, 06:10 PM
Huh?

I never said I don't want anything killed in my games? Much like life, I don't care one way or the other if things die. I never said anything about that.

MichaelGoldclaw
2012-10-10, 07:05 PM
I believe that necromancy USUALLY = EVIL, however, I played a CG necromancer wizard that believed in fighting fire with fire, or in this case, fighting undead with undead

Undead=Evil, not always - my party killed an innocent ghost trying to destroy a cult of necromancers that raised his spirit

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-10, 08:08 PM
Huh?

I never said I don't want anything killed in my games? Much like life, I don't care one way or the other if things die. I never said anything about that.

Sorry, I meant you in the global sense, rather than you kyberwulf there.

Precise as it can be, english isn't perfect by any stretch. :smalltongue:

123456789blaaa
2012-10-11, 02:53 PM
Ghosts are already a special case. They can't be deliberately created through magic
<snip>
.

Nitpick: There is actually one way. In dnd 3.5 there is a feat called Master of Necromacy. When you kill something with a [death] spell, it rises as a ghost your next turn for CL rounds under your control.

Coidzor
2012-10-11, 03:12 PM
Part of why arbitrary is bad in this case would be Fell Animate Vs. Animate Dead.

Animate Dead is [Evil].

Fell Animate does not make spells cast with it [Evil].

Fell Animate requires you to actively kill a creature with a spell that the metamagic effect is riding upon.

Animate Dead can use creatures that died of old age or that were acquired from statue>corpse synthesis or any other way.

BootStrapTommy
2012-10-11, 03:24 PM
I do believe there are exceptions to this. I cannot remember where, nor quote a book or some such, but somewhere I remember reading about how it was a relativity common occurrence for good half-elf wizards to becomes liches. Despite being outcasts in a pure human or pure elf society, they would assign themselves as the protector of their respective town out of loyalty and become a lich so that they could continue to protect the town from evil forever. They would then remain in hiding, but would protect the town with their magic from afar.

If I'm correct and not just delusional, than that would be an example of undead not necessarily being evil.

SoC175
2012-10-11, 03:38 PM
If the Skeletons and Mummies in the Dungeon are Lawful beings guarding the tomb of their ancient ruler, you're kind of a **** for just smashing them apart to satisfy your own greed. well, even is they are evil beings guarding the tomb of their ancient ruler, you're still kind of a **** for just smashing them apart to satisfy your own greed.

As long as they stay in the tomb guarding it you have no business to desecrate and rob it either way.

Adventurer's tend to be mercenaries, sellswords, assassins, tomb raiders, thieves and murderers. Same in our games. Adventurers is an invective for never-do-well who think themselves too high for honest work at best or a band of thugs at worst.

BootStrapTommy
2012-10-11, 03:41 PM
well, even is they are evil beings guarding the tomb of their ancient ruler, you're still kind of a **** for just smashing them apart to satisfy your own greed.

As long as they stay in the tomb guarding it you have no business to desecrate and rob it either way.

Robbery is Law/Chaos, not Good/Evil.
That's why Robin Hood is Chaotic Good.

123456789blaaa
2012-10-11, 03:46 PM
I do believe there are exceptions to this. I cannot remember where, nor quote a book or some such, but somewhere I remember reading about how it was a relativity common occurrence for good half-elf wizards to becomes liches. Despite being outcasts in a pure human or pure elf society, they would assign themselves as the protector of their respective town out of loyalty and become a lich so that they could continue to protect the town from evil forever. They would then remain in hiding, but would protect the town with their magic from afar.

If I'm correct and not just delusional, than that would be an example of undead not necessarily being evil.

Yup. They are called baelnorns. They come from Faerun.

there is also a lich varient in libris mortis called the good lich. It cannot be turned and gains turn undead.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-11, 03:58 PM
AH! Baelnorns! That is what the guy was in neverwinter nights. The balor tricked him into sacrificing children to gain that power into lichdom but ends up the ritual did not require any sacrifices (The balor gave the elf what he wanted to know - how to perform the ritual, he just neglected to say the part about the young souls was optional.)

BootStrapTommy
2012-10-11, 04:06 PM
Yup. They are called baelnorns. They come from Faerun.

there is also a lich varient in libris mortis called the good lich. It cannot be turned and gains turn undead.

Thanks, chap.

So baelnorms and good liches.

Good undead. They are rare exception, but they exist.

Water_Bear
2012-10-11, 04:09 PM
Thanks, chap.

So baelnorms and good liches.

Good undead. They are rare exception, but they exist.

Do Deathless count? If so, add another three or four stat-blocks to the pile.

Plus I'm pretty sure they explicitly call out that Ghosts aren't always Evil.

hamishspence
2012-10-11, 04:10 PM
Robbery is Law/Chaos, not Good/Evil.
That's why Robin Hood is Chaotic Good.

BoVD says otherwise- stealing is (at least typically) Evil.

Now it might be much less Evil than the Good acts the character is committing.

Or there might be factors that make it "not really stealing" (it's taxes, imposed unjustly to line the pockets of the nobles rather than to pay for the community's needs- and Robin gives it back to the people who have been taxed).

But it's not Neutral by default- it needs such factors to make it Neutral.

Tsumeken
2012-10-11, 06:30 PM
I suppose the main focus would come down to a morality decision with how things are evil or not evil. PC's/Adventurers are basically just killer hobos who run around and gather the most loot they can while dispatching what is their way, but then again that may not be evil because most of the time it's not just on a whim and they are doing it for a cause or job. With this in place though you could also say that some clerics or even paladins could be evil. not the lawful evil paladins I mean even lawful good. One scenario that was fun to pull on the morality code is to have a theif that maybe had been a contact for the Paladin captured for thievery by the same Paladin's order and is supposed to be executed for it.

willpell
2012-10-11, 06:54 PM
BoVD says otherwise- stealing is (at least typically) Evil.

BOVD says a lot of things.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-11, 07:41 PM
Bovd and Boed have been like, GLOBALLY declared as some of the -worst- supplements ever made for D&D, from its alignment system/etc, to its OVERPOWERED feats and spells that were broken in all ways - look at vow of poverty, nymph's kiss, etc in particular, and look at seething eyebane or whatever from bovd (oh, yes, i would like as a 1st level spell to deal a ton of damage AND BLIND YOU PERMANENTLY by having your eyeballs EXPLODE FROM YOUR FACE.)

I am not saying they were all bad, there was some things like the Corpse Creature/etc templates in bovd (intelligent undead), the alchemy/knight/ancestral weapon prc in bovd was very nice as well, but they were horribly written and unbalanced as a whole, so using them (especially considering they are supplements, NOT CORE), as an alignment guideline is silly.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-12, 12:58 AM
Nitpick: There is actually one way. In dnd 3.5 there is a feat called Master of Necromacy. When you kill something with a [death] spell, it rises as a ghost your next turn for CL rounds under your control.
I haven't heard of this before. Where can I find it?

BoVD says otherwise- stealing is (at least typically) Evil.

Now it might be much less Evil than the Good acts the character is committing.

Or there might be factors that make it "not really stealing" (it's taxes, imposed unjustly to line the pockets of the nobles rather than to pay for the community's needs- and Robin gives it back to the people who have been taxed).

But it's not Neutral by default- it needs such factors to make it Neutral.

Theft, like any other form of indirect harm, is morally neutral in and of itself; but, like killing (something else that's neutral in and of itself), it becomes either good or evil based on motivation and obvious consequence.

Picking up a coin pouch you find in an alley and keeping the contents is neither good nor evil.

If you happened to find it right next to an apparently-homeless, unconcious person (be he drunk, or knocked out with the would-be robber fleeing out the other end of the alley) then keeping it is probably evil. The guy on the ground is most likely the actual owner and stealing his coin will almost undoubtably cause him further harm.

If, on the other hand, you find it whilst tailing a well-to-do merchant that's known for gouging his customers and arranging "accidents" taking his money means relieving him of resources that would likely have gone toward further evil, or at least unsavory, acts. Making it neutral at worst, and possibly good to steal this particular pouch.

Of course, either of the above can be returned to neutral by motivation. Keeping the beggar's purse so that he can't buy booze with it with the intention of buying him food and helping him get help, makes it a pragmatic theft. It doesn't become evil until you decide to keep it when it turns out that he's just down on his luck and would use the money responsibly anyway.

Stealing the ne'er-do-well merchants coin returns to neutral if you don't know about any of his dark deeds but figured he's rich enough he won't miss it. No harm = no evil, in this context.

Theft is inherently chaotic. But it's not inherently evil.


@ mentions of baelnorns: Intelligent undead never were inherently evil. Their creation is, but the creatures themselves are only as evil as they choose to be. They almost invariably have a harder time choosing not to be evil because of the abilities and, frequently, the drive to destroy life that come with their new state of being, or because that new state of being required they already be evil to aquire it.

willpell
2012-10-12, 01:11 AM
As long as they stay in the tomb guarding it you have no business to desecrate and rob it either way.

This is assuming you consider the sanctity of the dead to be a valid concept, rather than dismissing such sentimentality as an excuse for denying material resources to living people who can still appreciate them. Whether or not such a belief is valid in IRL, it becomes both more and less valid in the D&D environment. Ghosts exist and the Afterlife can be visited, so violating a tomb can measurably and verifyibly produce effects, but it can also measurably and verifiably produce no effects, depending on whatever factors are responsible for determining whether an effect occurs. Maybe disturbing a person's corpse sympathetically causes discomfort to their soul in whatever afterlife it's chilling out in (or increases their discomfort, if they're being tormented in a Lower Plane or blasted to still-sentient shreds of flesh in Limbo). Then again, maybe it affects them no more than someone moving into a house you lived in 20 years ago affects you - you don't necessarily know, and even if someone tells you, it's entirely possible you won't care. Get a cleric to cast Communion and ask the gods which it is; then you know whether or not tomb-robbing is actually a crime, and if the answer is "no" you may pillage the graves of the less-knowledgeable ancients with a clear conscience, helping actual living people at no real expense to anyone. Likewise with ghosts; if someone did have a ghost, and you destroyed the ghost in such a way that it can't return, you can now loot their corpse and be reasonably certain they no longer exist in a sentient form which might object.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-12, 03:31 AM
Turn undead; how does it work?

If good and evil are objective variable cosmic forces then it follows that spells can be good and evil and that the results may contaminated by this. By this formula undead might be 7 parts negative, two parts positive to one part evil (evil because they contain the cosmic residue of the evil used in their creation and not because they are broadly negative beings).

The basic concept is that good and evil repel each other and attract like. It follows that any creature with "evil" as an essential part of its make up and life processes will be repelled by a strong source of "good".

In this model it also follows that if an undead creature was created without the use of evil then turn undead will do precisely jack.

"Undeath TM may contain evil"

Tsumeken
2012-10-12, 03:38 AM
I think that turn undead functions by expelling/removing the Negative energy by injecting Positive energy into the undead. The two opposing energies cancel each other and remove each other which gets rid of the energy animating the undead. On the converse Evil clerics infuse their negative energy into the undead and overwrite their natural negative energy.

Blightedmarsh
2012-10-12, 03:46 AM
The model I am working on assumes that Pos/neg can be modeled on an matter antimatter reaction. In this model injecting a large amount of positive energy into a negative energy being would cause one almighty bang. (which does in fact give me some ideas).

With a different set of assumptions however your concept appears perfectly valid and workable. However it would mean that undead are drawn to strong sources of positive energy like moths to a candle (again ideas run abound).

Tsumeken
2012-10-12, 03:54 AM
that could be, I think it was in AD&D that infra-vision abounded and Undead saw enemies based on body heat. Not to sure if I'm remembering correctly but Elves also had that as opposed to a dark vision

hamishspence
2012-10-12, 06:57 AM
they were horribly written and unbalanced as a whole, so using them (especially considering they are supplements, NOT CORE), as an alignment guideline is silly.

Living Greyhawk actually told DMs to use BoVD as an alignment guideline (for evil aligned acts).

Tetsubo 57
2012-10-12, 09:53 AM
Firstly if the GM says that undead are evil *in his game* there isn't much you can do about it.

But in my opinion, you need true sapience to be evil. Unintelligent undead are Neutral. Yes, I know that the Create Undead spell has the Evil descriptor. But neither the Negative Plane nor Negative Energy is evil. I don't think the spell should have the Evil descriptor. I see unintelligent undead as not much more then really conveniently shaped animated objects.

Qwertystop
2012-10-12, 09:53 AM
Bovd and Boed have been like, GLOBALLY declared as some of the -worst- supplements ever made for D&D, from its alignment system/etc, to its OVERPOWERED feats and spells that were broken in all ways - look at vow of poverty, nymph's kiss, etc in particular

I'm sorry, but VoP overpowered? Based on what? Nymphs kiss and touch of golden ice maybe, but everything else in the feat section ranges from not too good to pathetic.

Tetsubo 57
2012-10-12, 09:57 AM
I'm sorry, but VoP overpowered? Based on what? Nymphs kiss and touch of golden ice maybe, but everything else in the feat section ranges from not too good to pathetic.

I've never been up to the challenge but I've loved to see a PF version of VoP. One that didn't actually suck. :)

hamishspence
2012-10-12, 10:04 AM
Firstly if the GM says that undead are evil *in his game* there isn't much you can do about it.

But in my opinion, you need true sapience to be evil. Unintelligent undead are Neutral.

3.0 followed this- but 3.5 dropped it. That said, in the 3.5 Draconomicon book skeletal dragons and zombie dragons are neutral, unlike dragon zombies and dragon skeletons from MM, which are NE.

willpell
2012-10-12, 10:08 AM
I think that turn undead functions by expelling/removing the Negative energy by injecting Positive energy into the undead. The two opposing energies cancel each other and remove each other which gets rid of the energy animating the undead. On the converse Evil clerics infuse their negative energy into the undead and overwrite their natural negative energy.

I like this concept, although it makes me wonder why you can't control the living by overwriting their natural positive energy with a Turn Undead. Not that this is a hard question to answer, I just thought it cute to consider a moment.


Living Greyhawk actually told DMs to use BoVD as an alignment guideline (for evil aligned acts).

While Greyhawk has its charms, it is probably second only to Dragonlance for the lack of subtlety in its alignment subtext. Those who like shining, infallible, righteously murderous templar-paladins and cackling, ridiculously self-sabotaging evil megalomaniacs certainly gravitate toward such a setting, and those players are likely to find the BOXD/BOVD portrayal useful enough (which is exactly why those books were written as they were, or at all most likely). But relatively few of them are going to be found on a thread like this.

Wizards doesn't tend to bother writing books to cater to the more cerebral players such as most of us, not only because we're less likely to prefer D&D above its competition in the first place, but because if we want a supplement that delves into some of the more abstruse implications instead of just accepting every genre convention at face value, we can pretty much write it ourselves (and are essentially doing just that with threads like this one). What's harder for us to do is edit it into a form organized enough to be highly useful, but one can hardly blame the company for not wanting to tackle that kind of workload.

willpell
2012-10-12, 10:35 AM
Set aside morality for a second.

You have two sides, one wears black hats the other white. They hate each other and do awful things to each other simply because they are in conflict.

While I personally disagree that there is not a correspondence between morality and alignment (it may not be an exact correspondence, but I still consider it a strong one), I like this way of putting the point. It also makes me think, with some amusement, that Law and Chaos are those two guys from a Star Trek episode which are white on one side and black on the other and are trying to kill each other because they're colored on the "wrong" sides.

(It's very aggravating that the plane of Acheron is Lawful-aligned, because it seems like exactly where this sort of endless, idiotic battle should take place. While the 'I'm right and you're wrong, so shut up' mentality is pretty much Lawful and thus Acheron's status as a Law plane is quite thoroughly valid, it still seems as though a Neutral version of the plane of never-ending battle would be just the place for a bunch of Skarn and Rilkan Incarnates or something to duke it out for all of eternity.)


This then becomes a really subjective view of alignment. A vampire who sees humanity as cattle is no more evil that a human who sees cows as cattle unless you happen to be a human or a cow.

The problem with that reasoning (not meaning yours, as this is a pretty common attitude that gets voiced in conversations like this) is that there's really no sensible reason why a vampire should see humans as cattle. Vampires used to be humans, they presumably at least partially remember what it was like; vampires can talk to humans, humans can talk to vampires, the two can debate philosophy for ten solid years if necessary, and even if we assume centuries-old vampires experience an extreme form of time dilation, I find it dubious at best to believe that this alone suffices for an otherwise reasonable vampire to dismiss humans as no more than animals. (That vampires as portrayed in D&D are not even close to "reasonable" is a separate issue.) With something like mind flayers, or a genuine Cthulhoid entity, or even the gods, you can justify the "they're just dumb animal, ignore their meaningless noises and get on with your meal" attitude; such beings are functioning on an entirely different level. Vampires, though, are still speaking Common, and so are humans, so I can't really find it in myself to believe that they have any sensible non-Evil basis for a cultural attitude that dismisses humans as food and nothing more.


Objectively if we measure good and evil as the weal or woe of an action then slavery results in greater harm that good for the majority, as does the killing of humans to keep the vampire alive. They are objectively evil acts.

Now this part, on the other hand, I would say is debatable. Ignoring for the moment the +8 level adjustment on the vampire template, if we assume that vampires continue leveling at about the same speed as humans throughout their substantially longer lifespans, and that they can go into epic levels or even triple digits given enough time, which they are...what they become capable of accomplishing gets into the realm of literally godlike power, and I can see a very sensible argument that says a civic-minded vampire with 47 Wizard levels can accomplish more good than all the people he eats, combined, could hope to achieve in their entire lives. He could very justifiably claim, on the basis of his public works, to be the foundation of his entire society, and as much worthy of protection as any of our world's holy books or institutions of law or bodies of science or anything like that. For him to get inevitably slapped with the evil-stick, even in the event that he is an immortal Gahndi-Lincoln-ChuckNorris-etc., who makes life better for millions of people for 8 hours every day and then eats a dozen or so of them for the next 8 hours before going to bed...well, hopefully my point can be vaguely glimpsed in this cloud of words I've exhaled here. (Sorry, it's late enough in the by-my-standards-evening that my command of sentence structure is beginning to gain the Incorporeal subtype.)

hoverfrog
2012-10-12, 10:51 AM
That's probably a reason why I see the alignment system as a general guideline more than anything hard and fast. In my RL game my (14yo) son plays an evil cleric. He's obsessed with the idea of alignment but terrible at actually being evil. He'll help the old man who's been infected with ghoul fever rather than killing him or waiting for him to die and raise up so he can control the resulting ghoul.

Of course nothing says that an evil character cannot help others, form friendships, be nice to people and pay for his own beer but being nice to people just doesn't seem evil. I've tried the Robin Hood analogy to explain alignment to him but really alignment sometimes seems less that useful.

Robin Hood analogy of alignment
Deep in Sherwood forest live the band of assassins, brigands and murderers ruled over by the master assassin, Robin Hood. Robin regularly attacks peaceful merchants, nobles and travellers, robs them and kills them where they stand if they show any signs of resistance. The Sheriff of Nottingham has sent his best men after this fiend, declared the fact that he is an outlaw across the land, offered rewards for his capture, everything he can think of short of burning villages and torturing people for information. These he would never do for the Sheriff is a good and noble soul.

Once or twice the Sheriff and his paladin knight, Guy of Gisborne, have come close to capturing the brigand or caught one of his henchmen but always he breaks into the castle, murders the guards and escapes. The sheriff insists on a proper trial and that usually gives time for a rescue.

Somehow the castle has a leak as well. Gisborne suspects the fair Maid Marion of being responsible but has no proof. He is right, Marion is wicked and cruel, an assassin herself, a poisoner and vicious killer who sells secrets to Robin and her men.

The worst thing is the peasants. Robin bribes them with food and gold, claiming to be good and just and returning only a portion of the taxes stolen from Nottingham and forcing the sheriff to put up these same taxes. This money would go to better roads, better law enforcement, education and medicine for the poor, and to attract new business into the area to reduce the tax burden on everyone. If only they could find and kill Robin and his band of murderous men.

It is supposed to show how alignment is easy to fool. You can take any action you like, more or less, and justify it for any alignment. The classic example is killing a prisoner. Lawful good might call it a lawful execution, regretful but necessary. Chaotic evil might kill him because he wanted to hear him squeal like a pig. I'm sure you can think of other reasoning that fits each alignment.

hamishspence
2012-10-12, 12:15 PM
That's probably a reason why I see the alignment system as a general guideline more than anything hard and fast. In my RL game my (14yo) son plays an evil cleric. He's obsessed with the idea of alignment but terrible at actually being evil. He'll help the old man who's been infected with ghoul fever rather than killing him or waiting for him to die and raise up so he can control the resulting ghoul.

Of course nothing says that an evil character cannot help others, form friendships, be nice to people and pay for his own beer but being nice to people just doesn't seem evil.

Savage Species had it as "Evil characters can be kind and respectful- to those they consider their peers or loved ones- while mistreating those they consider beneath them"

You can't be Evil and not be willing to mistreat somebody- but it's up to you what you categorise as "acceptable targets".

BoVD, surprisingly for it's "lack of subtlety" was happy to suggest that you could have Evil characters "motivated by love and compassion" (as well as rage and hatred) who "do good deeds" (but also use evil methods). Anti-heroes, in short- Elric of Melnibone was the cited example.

tbok1992
2012-10-12, 12:56 PM
Bovd and Boed have been like, GLOBALLY declared as some of the -worst- supplements ever made for D&D, from its alignment system/etc, to its OVERPOWERED feats and spells that were broken in all ways - look at vow of poverty, nymph's kiss, etc in particular, and look at seething eyebane or whatever from bovd (oh, yes, i would like as a 1st level spell to deal a ton of damage AND BLIND YOU PERMANENTLY by having your eyeballs EXPLODE FROM YOUR FACE.)

Out of curiosity, what's the prevailing opinion on the 4e Book of Vile Darkness? Because, when I read it, I thought it was a lot better because they went less over the top with it, the character options actually felt evil (Due to most of their powers involving screwing over your allies), a lot of the DM stuff brought back some of that old-school lethality to 4e, and the quotes from various famous D&D villains did show they at least had a sense of humor.

123456789blaaa
2012-10-12, 02:10 PM
I'm sorry, but VoP overpowered? Based on what? Nymphs kiss and touch of golden ice maybe, but everything else in the feat section ranges from not too good to pathetic.

i wouldn't even say that touch of golden ice or nymphs kiss were overpowered. Touch of golden ice is a nice feat yes but the save dc is a pathetic DC 15 and stays way for your entire career. As for nymphs kiss, I'll just quote the poster necroticplague from another thread:
Its not exactly AMAZING, but its not too bad either. Its a couple small boosts, but nothing game changing. The skill bonus is small, but good over the long run, the save bonuses aren't worth a feat (seriously, a continuous item of resistance offers the same benefit for 2000 or 4000 gold), and the +2 to cha based skiills is mostly forgetable, since builds that focus on the cha skills other than umd typically pump tham u so high the +2 is a microscopic bonus, so its main benefit of that part is umd. In turn, you must make regular appointments with the fey, and since its exalted, you have to keep an extremely tight restrictin on your actions (its way to easy to get into a lose-lose alignment situation with exalted).

MichaelGoldclaw
2012-10-12, 05:21 PM
I consider mindless, but controlled undead to be either LN or N because they blindly follow orders of the one controlling them.
Might I reference DDO, Pale Master is a "prestige class" (you don't take levels in prestige classes in that game) that focuses around necromancy. You can't even be evil and it allows even LG characters.

Minded affects nothing, however, most necromancers are evil so they will be listed as such.

Jane_Smith
2012-10-12, 07:01 PM
Nymph's kiss gave you the human skill racial essentially for a single feat - 1-20 skill points is a bit potent in my opinion on top of +2 to all cha-skills. But if you think otherwise, more power to you.

Vow of Poverty is broken for 3 reasons. VoP Druid/Shaper, VoP Monk/Kensai, and VoP Monsters. Nobody said monsters could not take this feat. I think someone once found a loophole that allows a wizards familiar to gain VoP, though that was not to op, in fact I found that kinda funny. Behold, the exalted weasel!!!

Touch of Golden Ice can be effected by feats like ability focus, etc. Which does not help it at late-game (DC 17), but that makes enemy's all the way up to level 10ish vulnerable to be effected, and any mooks you ever encounter usually even at pre-epic levels.

But the biggest issue I had with the series was ravages/afflictions being "good poison" yet causing unjust suffering/pain/etc, which, for years, was the reason poisons were considered evil, the "holy assassin" that uses them essentially to slay evil beings, and the eternal hypocrisy of it all. Personally I find complete divine a far better book then even boed AND bovd was combined. But that's just me.



Anyway, back on track for this thread - well, not fully - but what about unique cases of undeath being evil/neutral/good? D&D has several of them, undead plants, undead animals, even undead CHILDREN in one book. I forgot the name, but effectively they were stillborns or something who just want to play/companionship, but end up draining the life from there accidental victims, but they were listed as evil despite the fact they did not even have the intelligence to do it intentionally. There was also a form of frozen undead spirit from... i forgot the full name, the frost book, that would HIDE in fire places, etc, and drain the heat from nearby living creatures. They would just assume it was getting colder outside/etc until it was to late to fight back. But the creature needed the warmth of the living to survive itself and, again, had no real intelligence, it was mostly just acting instinctively like a undead fire elemental.

kardar233
2012-10-12, 07:23 PM
D&D has several of them, undead plants, undead animals, even undead CHILDREN in one book. I forgot the name, but effectively they were stillborns or something who just want to play/companionship, but end up draining the life from there accidental victims, but they were listed as evil despite the fact they did not even have the intelligence to do it intentionally.

I think that's a Slaymate, from Libris Mortis.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-12, 07:30 PM
Nymph's kiss gave you the human skill racial essentially for a single feat - 1-20 skill points is a bit potent in my opinion on top of +2 to all cha-skills. But if you think otherwise, more power to you.

Vow of Poverty is broken for 3 reasons. VoP Druid/Shaper, VoP Monk/Kensai, and VoP Monsters. Nobody said monsters could not take this feat. I think someone once found a loophole that allows a wizards familiar to gain VoP, though that was not to op, in fact I found that kinda funny. Behold, the exalted weasel!!!

Touch of Golden Ice can be effected by feats like ability focus, etc. Which does not help it at late-game (DC 17), but that makes enemy's all the way up to level 10ish vulnerable to be effected, and any mooks you ever encounter usually even at pre-epic levels.

But the biggest issue I had with the series was ravages/afflictions being "good poison" yet causing unjust suffering/pain/etc, which, for years, was the reason poisons were considered evil, the "holy assassin" that uses them essentially to slay evil beings, and the eternal hypocrisy of it all. Personally I find complete divine a far better book then even boed AND bovd was combined. But that's just me.



Anyway, back on track for this thread - well, not fully - but what about unique cases of undeath being evil/neutral/good? D&D has several of them, undead plants, undead animals, even undead CHILDREN in one book. I forgot the name, but effectively they were stillborns or something who just want to play/companionship, but end up draining the life from there accidental victims, but they were listed as evil despite the fact they did not even have the intelligence to do it intentionally. There was also a form of frozen undead spirit from... i forgot the full name, the frost book, that would HIDE in fire places, etc, and drain the heat from nearby living creatures. They would just assume it was getting colder outside/etc until it was to late to fight back. But the creature needed the warmth of the living to survive itself and, again, had no real intelligence, it was mostly just acting instinctively like a undead fire elemental.

I've done a whole thing on poisons and ravages, here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=13856253&postcount=245). In the end, BoVD and BoED agree that preemptive, though not provocatory, strikes against evil are acceptable, and that's what ravages and afflictions are supposed to be used for; softening up a target for kill or capture with minimal harm to the good agents taking action. In the case of capture, it's assumed that the prisoner will be treated with dignity and care, and it's RAW that the ravage or affliction will cease to function if the prisoner has a change of alignment, becoming an ivalid target for the ravage or affliction.

Assassination was never called out as evil. Only the assassin class, which was ultimately a combination of mistake in maintaining internal inconsistency and a legacy hold-over; the assassin class from an earlier edition being tied to a particular evil organization. The only thing evil about the assassin class is a few spells on his list, which aren't necessary for him to fill his designated niche, and the class' alignment restriction. Any Lawful or Any evil, or even Any non-good would've been a more appropriate alignment restriction without either more abilities or more fluff to tie the class to dark forces.

As for those undead you mentioned; if they're the ones I think they are, none of them are actually mindless or of animal intelligence. In anycase, no undead ever -has- to feed. It's right there in libris mortis that an undead will never deanimate for lack of feeding, though they may be rendered completely immobile. Whether you agree with it as a moral point or not, causing harm to living creatures for your own benefit is evil unless it's necessary to sustain your own life. Since undead never need to feed to sustain their unlife it's evil for them to feed unless they have the "victim's" express permission and even with permission it becomes evil if they drain the victim/volunteer to death.

Coidzor
2012-10-12, 08:15 PM
It's arguable that being forced to be aware, experiencing the intense pain of starvation, and unable to act for the rest of eternity is a fate worse than death though.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-12, 08:44 PM
It's arguable that being forced to be aware, experiencing the intense pain of starvation, and unable to act for the rest of eternity is a fate worse than death though.

Yeah, but that's on the guy that created the undead. Undead are perfectly capable of self-destruction if they're not mindless. It's the same thing as opening your own wrists when you realize you're lost in the mountains in the dead of winter. You know you're not going to find what you need to keep going so you bow out before things start to get ugly.

The undead has a choice to either find a volunteer, specifically target creatures that are actively evil, commit an evil act to stave off its own suffering, or destroy itself and lay claim to whatever afterlife becoming an undead stole from it. There's also the option of seeking ressurection, seeing as ressurection and true-res can return the undead to life.

Choosing to victimize someone for any reason other than your continued survival or to put an end to evil actions is evil. Undead never need to do anything at all to survive. Being turned into an undead with a feeding "requirement" is ultimately being victimized unless you do it to yourself. That doesn't make victimizing someone else okay.

However, victimizing agents of evil can be neutral or even good . It goes back to preemptive striking. Let's say a bleak one (the undead that feeds on heat) chooses to feed exclusively on verified villians. He's now a force for good and his feeding is not a problem, because it serves a good purpose without being an inherently evil action (damage of all kinds are exempted from being inherently evil if they're part of a creature's natural arsenal.)

willpell
2012-10-13, 12:20 AM
VoP Monk/Kensai.

Please explain this one. The VOP Monk seems like an obvious idea, but there was a thread a while back where it was stated quite emphatically by a large number of optimizers that the already-weak Monk absolutely needs certain magic items to not be even more unable to function than it is. Amulet of Mighty Fists was one thing that was cited, along with the usual things that wizards can do and fighter-types can't, such as flying or seeing the invisible. I'm not familiar with Kensai, does it fix any of these issues?


Behold, the exalted weasel!!!

:smallbiggrin: :smallbiggrin: :smallbiggrin:


But the biggest issue I had with the series was ravages/afflictions being "good poison" yet causing unjust suffering/pain/etc,

In theory, ravages and afflictions were supposed to cause just suffering/pain/etc. To quote Razia the Archangel from Magic: the Gathering, "Justice is toothless without punishment. Righteousness cannot exist without the suffering of the guilty." (Personally I would have said "Innocence" there since "Righteousness" already means pretty much the same thing that Razia is getting at and so the point is less meaningful than it could have been.)


Personally I find complete divine a far better book then even boed AND bovd was combined. But that's just me.

I haven't read all of CD, but I do consider it one of the better supplements based just on the Deities chapter.


effectively they were stillborns or something who just want to play/companionship, but end up draining the life from there accidental victims, but they were listed as evil despite the fact they did not even have the intelligence to do it intentionally.

They may not be intentionally evil, but they were clearly an aberration against life which is too dangerous to permit to exist. Good still has an obligation to destroy such things, although it also should be trying to prevent them from arising in the first place; the rules don't provide any mechanisms to do that. It's possible that there should be a third alignment axis with Nature things on one end and Aberrations and Undead on the other, where they're inimical to life and the natural world but not evil in a moral sense.


The only thing evil about the assassin class is a few spells on his list, which aren't necessary for him to fill his designated niche, and the class' alignment restriction. Any Lawful or Any evil, or even Any non-good would've been a more appropriate alignment restriction without either more abilities or more fluff to tie the class to dark forces.

Wizards actually web-published a non-evil Assassin called the Avenger. Though going Lawful rather than Evil is dubious given that Law is usually associated with Honor and assassination, while not necessarily Evil, is definitely dishonorable.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-13, 12:43 AM
Please explain this one. The VOP Monk seems like an obvious idea, but there was a thread a while back where it was stated quite emphatically by a large number of optimizers that the already-weak Monk absolutely needs certain magic items to not be even more unable to function than it is. Amulet of Mighty Fists was one thing that was cited, along with the usual things that wizards can do and fighter-types can't, such as flying or seeing the invisible. I'm not familiar with Kensai, does it fix any of these issues?



:smallbiggrin: :smallbiggrin: :smallbiggrin:



In theory, ravages and afflictions were supposed to cause just suffering/pain/etc. To quote Razia the Archangel from Magic: the Gathering, "Justice is toothless without punishment. Righteousness cannot exist without the suffering of the guilty." (Personally I would have said "Innocence" there since "Righteousness" already means pretty much the same thing that Razia is getting at and so the point is less meaningful than it could have been.)



I haven't read all of CD, but I do consider it one of the better supplements based just on the Deities chapter.



They may not be intentionally evil, but they were clearly an aberration against life which is too dangerous to permit to exist. Good still has an obligation to destroy such things, although it also should be trying to prevent them from arising in the first place; the rules don't provide any mechanisms to do that. It's possible that there should be a third alignment axis with Nature things on one end and Aberrations and Undead on the other, where they're inimical to life and the natural world but not evil in a moral sense.



Wizards actually web-published a non-evil Assassin called the Avenger. Though going Lawful rather than Evil is dubious given that Law is usually associated with Honor and assassination, while not necessarily Evil, is definitely dishonorable.

Kensai's in complete warrior. It's key class feature, signature weapon, allows it to enhance its weapon as a magic weapon without a gp cost, and the unarmed strike can be the designated signature weapon. Unfortunately this can only get you up to +9 worth of abilities and just flying and blind-sight will take up +4 of that. Kensai doesn't even begin to close the gap on a VoP monk.

As for assassins and honor, that goes to motivation and the subjective concept of honor. If serving your master is more honorable than a sneak-attack kill is dishonorable, then you're following a lawful dictate while breaking a less important one, the net value being an overall lawful action. In otherwords, without a clear definition of honor to go by, most anything can be specc'ed as honorable/dishonorable. It's kinda like good and evil in the moral sense that way.

willpell
2012-10-13, 12:53 AM
As for assassins and honor, that goes to motivation and the subjective concept of honor. If serving your master is more honorable than a sneak-attack kill is dishonorable, then you're following a lawful dictate while breaking a less important one, the net value being an overall lawful action. In otherwords, without a clear definition of honor to go by, most anything can be specc'ed as honorable/dishonorable. It's kinda like good and evil in the moral sense that way.

It seems clear to me that slaying someone while giving them no opportunity to defend themselves is an unacceptible action to anything resembling a code of honor. Obedience to an authority figure is rooted in Law but not in Honor, so obeying a dishonorable order is something I would consider to be within the bounds of Lawful Neutral but not Lawful Good, as Lawful Good is not just "Law + Good" but "Law as the definition of Good and vice versa".

Kelb_Panthera
2012-10-13, 01:06 AM
It seems clear to me that slaying someone while giving them no opportunity to defend themselves is an unacceptible action to anything resembling a code of honor. Obedience to an authority figure is rooted in Law but not in Honor, so obeying a dishonorable order is something I would consider to be within the bounds of Lawful Neutral but not Lawful Good, as Lawful Good is not just "Law + Good" but "Law as the definition of Good and vice versa".

Honorable does not necessarily mean lawful good. Lawful good does encompass certain honor codes, notably the chivalric code of the knight. It does not however cover all codes of honor. If honor is predicated on the notion that its highest expression is in unquestioning obedience to one's master, then taking any action to achieve a goal set by said master is an honorable action.

We have objective definitions for good and evil as an axis of alignment, but there is no definition for honor written anywhere in the rules, making it entirely subjective, just like IRL. What you call honorable I may call evil, insane, good, or even trivial. It's all dependent on the cultural moores that your honor code is based in.