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Kruploy
2014-02-22, 10:48 AM
Can they be considered good while remaining a lich?

Or is the act of existing as a perverted mockery of life in and of itself evil?

Thoughts?

Rhynn
2014-02-22, 10:50 AM
I guess this is D&D 3.X?

Nothing. / Whatever the DM says.

Blah blah, non-evil liches in Monsters of Faerûn (baelnorn, archlich), Libris Mortis, blah blah.

roko10
2014-02-22, 10:54 AM
They die, because Redemption equals Death(actually, Life if a lich is concerned)

Cikomyr
2014-02-22, 10:58 AM
They can't be redeemed.

Locking up your soul in a box and throwing it away means you entered a stasis of your personality. There's no more growing wiser, better or more sound. You decided to remain as you are for eternity, because why would you want to be anything else?

Lichdom represent the ultimate rejection of growth, and the most grandiose display of arrogance on the part of spellcasters.

Now, I can see how some lich might have been neutral (rather than evil) straight from the start, but a lich redeeming itself? Nah.

Rhynn
2014-02-22, 11:00 AM
Locking up your soul in a box and throwing it away means you entered a stasis of your personality. There's no more growing wiser, better or more sound.

None of this is actually the case for D&D liches.

Cikomyr
2014-02-22, 11:06 AM
None of this is actually the case for D&D liches.

The box is the Phylactery. The Lich severs its connection to its own soul in order to gain undeath.

As as for the "stop growing wiser", I actually took a page out of Rich's book.

While the point was made with Redcloak, it's still as valid. Magical statis of one's life means you never have to actually face up your own mortality. It means you remain the same person you were. You may gain experience and learn from your trials, but it doesn't mean that you will grow as a person.

Redcloak never did. And I don't see how someone who willingly rejects his own mortality could either.

It's obviously open to interpretation, but I still believes it to be applicable, and a great way to implement characterization to what has been essentially been limited to pure crunch rules.

Kruploy
2014-02-22, 11:24 AM
The box is the Phylactery. The Lich severs its connection to its own soul in order to gain undeath.

As as for the "stop growing wiser", I actually took a page out of Rich's book.

While the point was made with Redcloak, it's still as valid. Magical statis of one's life means you never have to actually face up your own mortality. It means you remain the same person you were. You may gain experience and learn from your trials, but it doesn't mean that you will grow as a person.

Redcloak never did. And I don't see how someone who willingly rejects his own mortality could either.

It's obviously open to interpretation, but I still believes it to be applicable, and a great way to implement characterization to what has been essentially been limited to pure crunch rules.

Redcloak did grow though, throughout the order of the stick, first he embraced Xykon's kill minions to advance tactics.

Then he grew out of that to love his people and treasure the lives of the individuals not just that of the people's.

Then he was shown the price of taking stupid risks and decided to be more cautious, etc. He really did change and grow a lot so I don't think this point is valid.

Also, to the people saying liches have to die to be redeemed, are you saying that a lich can't act out of the goodness of their heart?

I don't think that's true. Liches retain their personalities so if there was some good in the lich before lichdom, it only makes sense that there would be some good in the lich as well.

Cikomyr
2014-02-22, 11:30 AM
Redcloak did grow though, throughout the order of the stick, first he embraced Xykon's kill minions to advance tactics.

Then he grew out of that to love his people and treasure the lives of the individuals not just that of the people's.

Then he was shown the price of taking stupid risks and decided to be more cautious, etc. He really did change and grow a lot so I don't think this point is valid.

Also, to the people saying liches have to die to be redeemed, are you saying that a lich can't act out of the goodness of their heart?

I don't think that's true. Liches retain their personalities so if there was some good in the lich before lichdom, it only makes sense that there would be some good in the lich as well.

But, in Right-Eye's words:

"He is still the same angry kid who donned the cloak 80 years ago". Just because he has learned, doesn't mean his character has grown. He's still more than willing to sacrifice goblinfolk if it means achieving his goal. He's just less callous about it now.

Slipperychicken
2014-02-22, 11:47 AM
Can they be considered good while remaining a lich?


I think it's possible to redeem a lich, but the process to become one is, according to MM1 page 168, unspeakably evil*. Considering the sort of person willing to go through with that, plus the fact that this person has no soul in his/her body and is instead fueled by dark energies of unlife, I imagine redemption would be rather difficult.


*To bring the evil into perspective, I'd probably clarify it by specifying some seriously depraved example acts that might be taken along the road to lichdom. Since "unspeakably evil" is a tough standard, we're probably talking about things like rituals in which the would-be lich high-fives a demon while he flays the skin off of unwilling good-aligned pregnant humanoids and eats it before torturing them to death.

Brookshw
2014-02-22, 12:01 PM
I think it's possible to redeem a lich, but the process to become one is, according to MM1 page 168, unspeakably evil*. Considering the sort of person willing to go through with that, plus the fact that this person has no soul in his/her body and is instead fueled by dark energies of unlife, I imagine redemption would be rather difficult..

Technically its their life force, not soul, that's stored away.

Given the various good liches out there I see no reason one couldn't be redeemed though I'd imagine such would be difficult.

As to oots remember that you're talking about a specific character written by someone who disregards the rules and puts the story first.

Not sure why people have said they can't grow :smallconfused:

Slipperychicken
2014-02-22, 12:06 PM
Not sure why people have said they can't grow :smallconfused:

They're withered and skeletal, and "decay and corruption is [a lich's] constant companion". Also, I don't think undead get mental stat boosts from aging.

Tengu_temp
2014-02-22, 12:25 PM
Not a setting-specific question, so... Sure. If a lich is redeemed, he can be good while still being a lich. It's an extremely rare occurence, because the process of turning into a lich is almost universally something extremely evil, but nobody is beyond redemption, as long as they truly want to redeem themselves and try hard enough.

Brookshw
2014-02-22, 12:43 PM
They're withered and skeletal, and "decay and corruption is [a lich's] constant companion". Also, I don't think undead get mental stat boosts from aging.

Not bad fluff evidence and I think you're right regarding aging though they can still level (plus demi liches)

Falling back to canon, dark sun 2e, lost sea xpansion, there were the three psionic liches, at least one of which iirc did change his opinion and goals over time. Might come down to how one defines growth.

Anxe
2014-02-22, 12:56 PM
Like Rhynn said, there are good lichs in the Monsters of Faerun book. That's just a template though.

There are other examples of redeems undead. The only difference for lichs is that they make the conscious choice to commit unspeakable acts to become undead. Is that something that can be redeemed? Depends on your point of view. I'd say yes, it can be redeemed.

Tengu_temp
2014-02-22, 01:18 PM
It's also worth considering what exactly it takes to become a lich in the first place. I get the feeling that the "unspeakably evil" acts the DND rulebook mentions are all about doing horrible things to your own soul. And only your own soul.

And if that's the case? Liches have no reason to be evil by default in the first place. Self-mutilation is not evil.

Cikomyr
2014-02-22, 01:36 PM
It's also worth considering what exactly it takes to become a lich in the first place. I get the feeling that the "unspeakably evil" acts the DND rulebook mentions are all about doing horrible things to your own soul. And only your own soul.

And if that's the case? Liches have no reason to be evil by default in the first place. Self-mutilation is not evil.

There is a grey spot when it comes to mutilating your own soul, methink. Which is why victimless depravity is considered to be evil by some standards.

Slipperychicken
2014-02-22, 01:38 PM
It's also worth considering what exactly it takes to become a lich in the first place. I get the feeling that the "unspeakably evil" acts the DND rulebook mentions are all about doing horrible things to your own soul. And only your own soul.


"Unspeakable evil" is typically the kind of stuff you don't even want to mention in published rulebooks, much less go into detail. Because it's, you know, unspeakable. Even BoVD only mentions the word "genocide" once, as an example of he most severe category of evil acts.

Also, BoVD lists the mere long-term presence of a lich on the same level of severity ("A Lasting Evil") as committing grisly mass-murder, and one level above "abuse, mistreatment, or starvation of captives". By simply existing, a lich is like a walking massacre. I'd think that they'd have to have done something pretty evil to make that happen.

PersonMan
2014-02-22, 01:39 PM
This discussion is neither based on the DnD 3.5 rules for a lich (because it's not in that section) nor is it based on the OOTS version of one (because then it'd either be in that section of have a note that it's based on that in the OP), so showing one example from OOTS or rules from DnD 3.5 and saying "this means they can't" doesn't make sense.

Discussing if they can/can't under specific assumptions (i.e. "If we use the OOTS version of a lich, then they can't, because..." instead of "No, because in OOTS ...") makes sense, but blanketing "this is how a lich works" statements don't.

Cikomyr
2014-02-22, 01:51 PM
This discussion is neither based on the DnD 3.5 rules for a lich (because it's not in that section) nor is it based on the OOTS version of one (because then it'd either be in that section of have a note that it's based on that in the OP), so showing one example from OOTS or rules from DnD 3.5 and saying "this means they can't" doesn't make sense.

Discussing if they can/can't under specific assumptions (i.e. "If we use the OOTS version of a lich, then they can't, because..." instead of "No, because in OOTS ...") makes sense, but blanketing "this is how a lich works" statements don't.

Except that OotS is actually trying to find characterisation consequences to the rules we see in the books. Treating the rules as more than just mechanical aspects.

Tengu_temp
2014-02-22, 01:53 PM
"Unspeakable evil" is typically the kind of stuff you don't even want to mention in published rulebooks, much less go into detail. Because it's, you know, unspeakable. Even BoVD only mentions the word "genocide" once, as an example of he most severe category of evil acts.

Also, BoVD lists the mere long-term presence of a lich on the same level of severity ("A Lasting Evil") as committing grisly mass-murder, and one level above "abuse, mistreatment, or starvation of captives". By simply existing, a lich is like a walking massacre. I'd think that they'd have to have done something pretty evil to make that happen.

You see, I am not sure is this because becoming a lich requires sacrificing innocents, destroying souls, torture, and other horrible things DND writers don't want to mention for some reason, or because they are operating on some weird principles where corrupting your own soul and becoming undead is more evil than murder (or, you know, evil at all).

If it's the former, then fair game. But if it's the latter, then it's dumb and I don't agree. It's my own soul, I'm an adult, I can do whatever I want with it!

...Now I'm imagining a teenage wizard prodigy who became a lich as an act of rebellion against his parents.

wumpus
2014-02-22, 01:54 PM
It's also worth considering what exactly it takes to become a lich in the first place. I get the feeling that the "unspeakably evil" acts the DND rulebook mentions are all about doing horrible things to your own soul. And only your own soul.

And if that's the case? Liches have no reason to be evil by default in the first place. Self-mutilation is not evil.

Then [in your campaign] they should have to do something else. I've assumed that they should sacrifice [and destroy the soul of] whoever is closest to them. How this works with PCs is an open question (it very likely will be another PC), but I don't expect evil campaigns to "work" anyway.

A bunch of thoughts about lichdom, each of which is campaign dependant.

A lich might be "redeemed" to the point of having a non-evil alignment, possibly even a good alignment.

A "redeemed lich" might have a non-evil alignment, but if the negative plane is evil aligned (non-official, but I'd like it to be), the lich willl always detect as Evil, probably highly Evil. Sneaky [read old-school] DMs could simply claim that since "detect evil" is such a low level spell, it lacks the subtlety to determine that "tightly connected to the negative plane" might not equal "evil".

Just as Xykon does not fear "the big fire below" a redeemed lich can't expect to "drink fine scotch and light cigars with poorly written legal documents", regardless of being chaotic good or not. Once a lich is destroyed, he/she/it is gone.

Finally, I'd like to insist that the DMG's "unspeakably evil" should be just that. To evil to be printed in a book otherwise friendly to minors, or even to adults prefering to not have thier gaming enjoyment twisted with the evil that lurks in the hearts of men. Liches are just about the most foul things in the D&D multiverse (demons and other lower outsiders might be made out of pure evil, but liches choose to be what they are. See "Good Omens" by Pratchet and Giaman for further explanation) and should be EVIL. If your players have a lich for an enemy, its existance should revolt the players and they should work tirelessly to destory it ("I fight demons because I like to, I fight the undead because I have to", Unknown Paladin). Voldermort's method was a wimpout simply due to the ages of the readers: his method of gaining lichdom (murder) was already establish as a recreation for his followers. Possible methods of gaining lichdom should include sending a pure soul to the lower planes in his place, or simply destroying a soul (preferably close to the lich in question, especially since such close soul is likely to be less than pure to begin with).

Geostationary
2014-02-22, 02:17 PM
The essential requirements for lichdom are simply that 1) you be 'dead' for a given value of dead and 2) You stash away your soul in something that isn't your body/its usual hidey-hole. So no, liches are not by necessity evil.

So how do you redeem your lich? They do something that redeems them. As the rest of this thread shows, this is very setting-specific. As for the consequences of their redemption, make it appropriate to their redemptive deeds and their lich-nature. Lichdom is evil in all ways and leaves on in a state of eternal, evil stasis? Probably can't redeem them without killing them. It's just an evil thing, but doesn't convert your essential nature to evil? You redeem yourself the way one normally would for your atrocities. This may lead to much angst and/or confusion down the road, but hey, them's the breaks. It's morally neutral, but your method's weren't? Again, redeem as anyone else who's committed an atrocity would and cease to worry about grand cosmological punishments for transgressing life itself.

Basically whatever's appropriate for the lich and setting is what happens.

Brookshw
2014-02-22, 02:23 PM
This discussion is neither based on the DnD 3.5 rules for a lich (because it's not in that section) nor is it based on the OOTS version of one (because then it'd either be in that section of have a note that it's based on that in the OP), so showing one example from OOTS or rules from DnD 3.5 and saying "this means they can't" doesn't make sense.

Discussing if they can/can't under specific assumptions (i.e. "If we use the OOTS version of a lich, then they can't, because..." instead of "No, because in OOTS ...") makes sense, but blanketing "this is how a lich works" statements don't.

Poppycock, we sometimes discuss 3.5 in the roleplay section. Other systems treatments are of course welcome.

As to the self mutalation bit the only thing I can think as a mechanical parallel is willing deformity in BoVD which I believe carries the Evil tag (afb though).

TriForce
2014-02-22, 05:39 PM
if i remember correctly, libris mortis talks a bit about intelligent undead (like a lich for example)

the prime reason why creatures like that have such strange mindsets (in addition to being evil) is that their mindset never changed from the time they became undead. the mere fact that decades or longer have passed, and society changed in their values had no effect on them.

judging from this, it would be safe to assume that the mindset of a lich would be unchanging, so it literally would be impossible for them to change their mind. yes they would still be able to gain experience, and adjust their goals or get new ones, but their outlook on (un)life is permanently stuck in whatever state it was when they first turned into undead, ergo, evil.

now in a general roleplaying setting, its a bit harder to say. its usually up to your own preference, but i would still argue that for a lich, a unholy abomination of life, powered by negative energy itself, its near impossible to redeem, as in, nothing short of a greater gods personal intervention should be powerful enough to change a lich's alignment

Mastikator
2014-02-22, 06:42 PM
To become a lich is to pass the Moral Event Horizon (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MoralEventHorizon). A Lich that would regain their conscience (which is impossible outside of a miracle anyway) would immediately commit suicide, since they can't "live" with what they are or have done.
Or in the case that they are too cowardly to commit suicide, they'd just flee and hide indefinitely.

Mark Hall
2014-02-22, 06:42 PM
The essential question seems to be...

What can change the nature of a man? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planescape:_Torment)

JusticeZero
2014-02-22, 08:30 PM
I don't treat them as redeemable. Two rulings on the subject.

One, undead are all treated as having acquired psychopathy and flat affect. They literally don't get anything out of doing good things. They don't get anything emotionally out of doing bad things, either. As far as they are concerned, nobody else is real. Helping a little old lady off the street is no different than beheading the little old lady. They're both tedious and time-wasting acts that do nothing for them.

Two, using negative energy all the time causes one to ping as evil. Every necromancer around pings as very evil, and everyone who casts a lot of healing spells pings as good, without exception. This is backed by the fact that good clerics channel positive energy and evil clerics channel negative energy - if they were "neutral", this ruling wouldn't apply.

Brookshw
2014-02-22, 09:30 PM
The essential question seems to be...

What can change the nature of a man? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planescape:_Torment)

Ehhh, maybe (and for lulz, acquiring lycanthropy. what makes a man turn neutral, is it lust for power? Gold? Or did they acquire the were-direboar template)

Actually, yeah, that is sorta the crux of the matter. When is change permitted and why would the opportunity to change ever be denied?

That was a phenominal game, can't wait for the "sequel".

Agrippa
2014-02-22, 10:09 PM
You see, I am not sure is this because becoming a lich requires sacrificing innocents, destroying souls, torture, and other horrible things DND writers don't want to mention for some reason, or because they are operating on some weird principles where corrupting your own soul and becoming undead is more evil than murder (or, you know, evil at all).

If it's the former, then fair game. But if it's the latter, then it's dumb and I don't agree. It's my own soul, I'm an adult, I can do whatever I want with it!

...Now I'm imagining a teenage wizard prodigy who became a lich as an act of rebellion against his parents.

I found a list of ingredients that 2nd Ed. AD&D required for the lichdom potion. By "found" I mean I found the post Mnemnosyne listed them in (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=14690903&postcount=3).

Grinner
2014-02-23, 12:24 AM
The existential paradox generated from such an impossibility would tear open a rift in the space-time continuum, and reality itself would begin to unravel.

Domestic fury and fierce civil strife would cumber all the parts of Oerth. Blood and destruction would be so in use and dreadful objects so familiar that mothers would but smile when they beheld their infants quarter'd with the hands of war. All pity choked with custom of fell deeds, and Pelor's spirit, ranging for revenge, with Boccob by his side come hot from hell, would in these confines with a monarch's voice cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war. That this foul deed would smell above the earth with carrion men, groaning for burial.

squiggit
2014-02-23, 01:01 AM
Archlich is what you're looking for.

Since you're talking about DnD: 4e tries to explain this "liches are always evil" thing by having traditional lichdom be a pact with Vecna or Orcus for power (with Vecna or Orcus invariably corrupting the person who takes the ritual). There's also liches of Bane and liches touched by the far realm, which invariably has the same result.

The "good" liches instead are Baelnorn, who are granted lichdom by the Elven pantheon and are almost always LG and the Archliches who aren't necessarily good but differentiate themselves by simply being mages strong enough to create their own phylacteries and bind their soul to it themselves without the aid of a deity.
/end 4e

Baelnorn are I think a 3e creation though, not sure.


To become a lich is to pass the Moral Event Horizon. A Lich that would regain their conscience (which is impossible outside of a miracle anyway) would immediately commit suicide, since they can't "live" with what they are or have done.
I don't agree with this though. It's only a moral event horizon if the actual ritual to become a lich is something particularly abhorrent. And even then suicide isn't necessarily the immediate option. Making up for some horrible, unimaginable wrongdoing isn't exactly a rare hook.

AMFV
2014-02-23, 01:03 AM
To become a lich is to pass the Moral Event Horizon (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MoralEventHorizon). A Lich that would regain their conscience (which is impossible outside of a miracle anyway) would immediately commit suicide, since they can't "live" with what they are or have done.
Or in the case that they are too cowardly to commit suicide, they'd just flee and hide indefinitely.

Or they'd try to redeem themselves. I mean they were already willing to do a great deal of things with their power and certainly redemption isn't out of the question. I would like to think that nothing is so evil as to be beyond redemption.

Tengu_temp
2014-02-23, 01:33 AM
To become a lich is to pass the Moral Event Horizon (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MoralEventHorizon). A Lich that would regain their conscience (which is impossible outside of a miracle anyway) would immediately commit suicide, since they can't "live" with what they are or have done.
Or in the case that they are too cowardly to commit suicide, they'd just flee and hide indefinitely.

Or maybe the lich could decide to make up for the horrible past deeds by doing some good for the world? You're treating this as if commiting suicide was the only good thing to do in that situation, while from my point of view, it's the worst thing to do. Try to do something with your (un)life instead of wasting it! From an utiliarian point of view, a powerful spellcaster commiting suicide instead of using those spells to make the world a better place is a complete waste.


farm realm

Is that where the image of a skeleton with a scythe came from?

NichG
2014-02-23, 01:50 AM
Putting aside the would/could stuff, here is the question rephrased in a much harder-to-escape fashion:

There is a Lich PC. Their sheet says 'evil'. They behave in a manner completely consistent with a good alignment (barring perhaps being a lich). They do many acts of extreme good.

Now, what happens to their alignment? What happens to their existence?

Another such example: Lich + Helm of Opposite Alignment.

In other words, is being a lich equivalent to having immunity to alignment change on the G/E axis? Or does losing the 'E' alignment automatically make the lich self destruct by virtue of becoming inconsistent with their template?

JusticeZero
2014-02-23, 01:50 AM
It isn't clear that they feel any attachment to the world. By stepping into undeath, they have removed themself from life, and all of that no longer matters. In high school, the fortunes of the cheerleading team, say, are a big deal. When you are in your 40's and have no children, not so much.

AMFV
2014-02-23, 02:25 AM
It isn't clear that they feel any attachment to the world. By stepping into undeath, they have removed themself from life, and all of that no longer matters. In high school, the fortunes of the cheerleading team, say, are a big deal. When you are in your 40's and have no children, not so much.

Redemption happens after you've converted yourself to a lich though. You can become interested in the fortunes of the cheerleading team if you become a cheer coach, there are all kinds of things that could change what might or might not happen in the mind of a lich. Since the redemption is after the conversion then it can certainly happen, and suicide isn't the only option.

You can become emotionally involved in things that you weren't before, that's the whole way redemption works.

Tengu_temp
2014-02-23, 05:17 AM
It isn't clear that they feel any attachment to the world. By stepping into undeath, they have removed themself from life, and all of that no longer matters. In high school, the fortunes of the cheerleading team, say, are a big deal. When you are in your 40's and have no children, not so much.

I don't buy this. By the same logic, long-lived elves stop caring about mortals as well once they're ancient enough. And elves are one of the classic good races out there.

Brookshw
2014-02-23, 05:31 AM
It isn't clear that they feel any attachment to the world. By stepping into undeath, they have removed themself from life, and all of that no longer matters. In high school, the fortunes of the cheerleading team, say, are a big deal. When you are in your 40's and have no children, not so much.

Sure, perspective changes with time, but that wouldn't preclude the adoption of new values. The BoED didn't ban undead from being redeemed iirc. I'm sure a good lich is exceedingly rare, but still doesn't seem off the table.

Baelnorns were introduced as early as 2e, ruins of myth drannor. Not sure if they were in 1e.

hamishspence
2014-02-23, 05:49 AM
And Libris Mortis made a point of reiterating (in the rules for playing various undead as PC Monster Classes) - the MM factoid that Always doesn't really mean Always - undead can change alignment - though for some, nonevil alignments are exceedingly rare.

You can play a nonevil Vampire Spawn or Ghoul - and those are both "always chaotic evil" (and, it's stated in Complete Divine, have a trapped soul - with a "malign spirit" in control of the body.

How much more changeable, therefore, might a lich be - who has the original soul in control?

Socksy
2014-02-23, 06:11 AM
I'm surprised nobody mentioned the Succubus Paladin yet.

If creatures born of pure chaos and evil can become LG, so can undead.

Kruploy
2014-02-23, 06:20 AM
Alright, since the general consensus seems to be "yes"; I will ask another question.

Is it possible to stay good and still decide to be a lich?

Say the PC is a good that finds himself outmatched by a powerful enemy. This enemy means harm to all the PC holds dear and is all around an utter madmen with the upper hand.

If the PC chose to become a lich so he can defeat the evil dude, would he become evil?

Also; what if someone decides to become a lich, not because they are malevolent but because they think being a lich or having all that power would be cool?

Ideas?

TheOOB
2014-02-23, 06:22 AM
They have an int over 3, thus they can be of any alignment, but they are ingeriently evil so they'll always detect as evil and be affected by say holy smite.

Using a phylactery is inherently evil, so any lich who was redeemed would have to destroy theirs.

Tengu_temp
2014-02-23, 06:39 AM
Alright, since the general consensus seems to be "yes"; I will ask another question.

Is it possible to stay good and still decide to be a lich?

Say the PC is a good that finds himself outmatched by a powerful enemy. This enemy means harm to all the PC holds dear and is all around an utter madmen with the upper hand.

If the PC chose to become a lich so he can defeat the evil dude, would he become evil?

Also; what if someone decides to become a lich, not because they are malevolent but because they think being a lich or having all that power would be cool?

Ideas?

The answer to this depends entirely on what it takes to turn yourself into a lich. And that varies from game to game, from setting to setting.

If becoming a lich requires you to torture or kill people, or imprison or destroy souls, then yes, it's an evil act, no matter why you do it. If the only soul you have to maim is your own, then no, it's not evil... Though if the existence of a lich is naturally corrupting, you might still have a hard time being good.



Using a phylactery is inherently evil

Why? Is there a specific reason for this? Or is it just another of those "it's evil because I say so" things that happen from time to time in DND?

hamishspence
2014-02-23, 06:42 AM
I think older editions provided background on the Lich Transformation.

3rd ed just says:

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/lich.htm

Lich Characters
The process of becoming a lich is unspeakably evil and can be undertaken only by a willing character.

but not how.

BWR
2014-02-23, 08:57 AM
Baelnorn are I think a 3e creation though, not sure.

At least as old as 2e. Possbily older.

Brookshw
2014-02-23, 09:06 AM
Alright, since the general consensus seems to be "yes"; I will ask another question.

Is it possible to stay good and still decide to be a lich?

Say the PC is a good that finds himself outmatched by a powerful enemy. This enemy means harm to all the PC holds dear and is all around an utter madmen with the upper hand.

If the PC chose to become a lich so he can defeat the evil dude, would he become evil?

Also; what if someone decides to become a lich, not because they are malevolent but because they think being a lich or having all that power would be cool?

Ideas?

I'd say yes (see baelnorn, good lich variant LM), but whether its the same process is another matter. Canon reasons for undergoing this usually have to do with needing to protect something.

TriForce
2014-02-23, 09:16 AM
The answer to this depends entirely on what it takes to turn yourself into a lich. And that varies from game to game, from setting to setting.

If becoming a lich requires you to torture or kill people, or imprison or destroy souls, then yes, it's an evil act, no matter why you do it. If the only soul you have to maim is your own, then no, it's not evil... Though if the existence of a lich is naturally corrupting, you might still have a hard time being good.



Why? Is there a specific reason for this? Or is it just another of those "it's evil because I say so" things that happen from time to time in DND?

you keep trying to argue that becoming a lich isnt evil. to my knowlegde, no matter what roleplay game you play, its clearly stated that becoming a lich is ALWAYS a evil act. now, different games might have different reasons for stating that, and some processes that turn someone in something different then a normal lich might have different requirements, but the whole "maiming your own soul" arguement you have is a complete fabrication on your part, since (to my knowledge) its never stated anywhere that becoming a lich involves that.

since its stated becoming a lich is unspeakably evil, and the whole "liches MIGHT not be evil" thing depends on a requirement thats not stated, not likely, and (even if you accept that torturing your own sould isnt evil, wich i dont) the opposite of whats in the actual rulebooks, i suggest we discount the good born (normal)lich as a possibility alltogether.

now my question to the OP:

WHY is the PC lich performing good acts? has he always done so? if so, then why did he become a lich, and commit whatever atrocity your game system has as a requirement for becoming one?

Tengu_temp
2014-02-23, 09:38 AM
you keep trying to argue that becoming a lich isnt evil. to my knowlegde, no matter what roleplay game you play, its clearly stated that becoming a lich is ALWAYS a evil act. now, different games might have different reasons for stating that, and some processes that turn someone in something different then a normal lich might have different requirements, but the whole "maiming your own soul" arguement you have is a complete fabrication on your part, since (to my knowledge) its never stated anywhere that becoming a lich involves that.


Just because the book states something doesn't mean I actually agree with it. Sometimes the reason for why liches are always evil is something I agree with - that becoming one requires human sacrifice, for example. But sometimes the reason is some bull**** "becoming an undying undead creature is a sign of supreme arrogance" pseudo-moralistic crap. Give me a reason why becoming an undead is evil in the setting, or else I don't see it as evil. And since when living forever is evil? Since when arrogance is evil?

I have an utilitarian approach to morality. To be good, you have to have good intentions and help those who need help. To be evil, you have to have evil intentions and hurt those who don't deserve hurting. Stating that something is evil because "oh no, it's not natural" or "yadda yadda hubris" is a mockery to me. Want to make liches always evil in your game? Fine. But tell me why are they always evil.

Also, I'm pretty sure there are games where liches are not automatically evil. And even DND had some good liches since the times of AD&D.

GolemsVoice
2014-02-23, 09:50 AM
I don't buy this. By the same logic, long-lived elves stop caring about mortals as well once they're ancient enough. And elves are one of the classic good races out there.


Elves are also one of the classic races for not caring about anyone else's problems because they're so far removed and/or mired in theirn own affairs.

TriForce
2014-02-23, 10:32 AM
Just because the book states something doesn't mean I actually agree with it. Sometimes the reason for why liches are always evil is something I agree with - that becoming one requires human sacrifice, for example. But sometimes the reason is some bull**** "becoming an undying undead creature is a sign of supreme arrogance" pseudo-moralistic crap. Give me a reason why becoming an undead is evil in the setting, or else I don't see it as evil. And since when living forever is evil? Since when arrogance is evil?

I have an utilitarian approach to morality. To be good, you have to have good intentions and help those who need help. To be evil, you have to have evil intentions and hurt those who don't deserve hurting. Stating that something is evil because "oh no, it's not natural" or "yadda yadda hubris" is a mockery to me. Want to make liches always evil in your game? Fine. But tell me why are they always evil.

Also, I'm pretty sure there are games where liches are not automatically evil. And even DND had some good liches since the times of AD&D.

i can say the same thing, just because you disagree with something doesnt mean it not true.

in 3.5, its described as "unspeakably evil" and you or your DM can fill in what that means, as long as it fits the desciption. also, i was clearly talking about normal liches, you are talking about archliches who have different requirements. and if there ARE other games where liches are not automatically evil, i would like to see some before accepting that as a fact

Tengu_temp
2014-02-23, 10:44 AM
I just feel like the DND 3e non-description is a cop-out. Tell us what is the unspeakably evil thing! Also, like I mentioned before, sometimes DND has a weird definition of what constitutes an evil act and what doesn't, so I'd like to make sure it's not the case here.

JusticeZero
2014-02-23, 11:40 AM
I don't buy this. By the same logic, long-lived elves stop caring about mortals as well once they're ancient enough. And elves are one of the classic good races out there.
Elves are alive, though. It isn't age that does this. it's the fact that all of the parts of you that make you able to give a darn have either been chopped out, sacrificed, or left to wither and decay. This also, by the way, means that there is sometimes Good reason for letting a particularly evil person finish a liche ritual - a murderous and sadistic afficionado of torture would find the joy of their former depravity abruptly lost the moment they changed.

Mastikator
2014-02-23, 11:56 AM
Or maybe the lich could decide to make up for the horrible past deeds by doing some good for the world? You're treating this as if commiting suicide was the only good thing to do in that situation, while from my point of view, it's the worst thing to do. Try to do something with your (un)life instead of wasting it! From an utiliarian point of view, a powerful spellcaster commiting suicide instead of using those spells to make the world a better place is a complete waste.



Is that where the image of a skeleton with a scythe came from?

If you're treating ethics as arithmetic then you're not "getting it".
What I am saying is that if a Lich were to regain their conscience they would be so overwhelmed with the feeling of crushing guilt that they would not be able to think rationally and would seek to escape it by committing suicide.
If they didn't feel this crushing guilt then they haven't really regained a conscience and therefore haven't really been redeemed at all. They're just faking it.

Because being a lich is unspeakably evil, the level of guilt you'd feel if you were a lich with a conscience is necessarily so overbearing that'd you commit suicide.

A Lich doing good and trying to redeem itself is about as possible as a square circle. It's self evidently impossible.

squiggit
2014-02-23, 12:09 PM
If you're treating ethics as arithmetic then you're not "getting it".
But it's not. You might be able to make a generalization but "No they commit suicide or they aren't really good" is silly


Because being a lich is unspeakably evil
Just to correct you: The description is that the act of becoming a lich is evil, not the act of being a lich (otherwise archliches and baelnorn would be evil).

The stuff about "using a phylactery is inherently evil" or "the lich would explode from the contradiction" is supposition and world building. If that's how you want your lichs to be that's fine, just don't act like that's the only option when it isn't.

Tengu_temp
2014-02-23, 12:20 PM
If you're treating ethics as arithmetic then you're not "getting it".
What I am saying is that if a Lich were to regain their conscience they would be so overwhelmed with the feeling of crushing guilt that they would not be able to think rationally and would seek to escape it by committing suicide.
If they didn't feel this crushing guilt then they haven't really regained a conscience and therefore haven't really been redeemed at all. They're just faking it.

Because being a lich is unspeakably evil, the level of guilt you'd feel if you were a lich with a conscience is necessarily so overbearing that'd you commit suicide.

A Lich doing good and trying to redeem itself is about as possible as a square circle. It's self evidently impossible.

You're approaching this from an absolute point of view. "Someone who committed such horrible deeds will always commit suicide when they realize what have they done". This is not how people work! Different people will do different things in such situation; some will fall to despair, others will try to escape from it, others will feel that they can only redeem themselves by ending their existence. And some will actually try to make amends for their horrible past deeds by performing good deeds in the present and future.

I personally think that trying to redeem yourself by doing good is more noble and courageous than trying to redeem yourself through suicide. At least you help people this way. By killing yourself, you're usually not helping anyone. If that's treating ethics as arithmetic, then I wish more good-aligned adventurers treated ethics as arithmetic. This way they could more effectively help people and spend less time doing arbitrarily good actions that don't actually end up helping anyone.

BrokenChord
2014-02-23, 12:33 PM
You're approaching this from an absolute point of view. "Someone who committed such horrible deeds will always commit suicide when they realize what have they done". This is not how people work! Different people will do different things in such situation; some will fall to despair, others will try to escape from it, others will feel that they can only redeem themselves by ending their existence. And some will actually try to make amends for their horrible past deeds by performing good deeds in the present and future.

I personally think that trying to redeem yourself by doing good is more noble and courageous than trying to redeem yourself through suicide. At least you help people this way. By killing yourself, you're usually not helping anyone. If that's treating ethics as arithmetic, then I wish more people treated ethics as arithmetic. Everyone's lives would be better this way.

Every post of yours I read gives me a bit more faith in humanity. Thank you, internet stranger.

On the topic of debate... Well, there is a compromise inherent here. I don't think a legitimately Good person could come to terms with what they did without major negative effects for a while; say, crippling shock for a few weeks, or pulling a Haley and becoming only partially functional. I'm giving the lich page the benefit of the doubt that unspeakably Evil really means unspeakably evil.

Granted, assuming in that period you don't go crazy and kill yourself (which seems entirely possible to me; people have redeemed themselves from some pretty goddamn horrible things) then there's a lot of Good you can do with your unlife. In fact, I, personally, would make every effort to spend all eternity performing Good, and I would probably never throw away my life unless my sheer existence is bringing more Evil into the world than I can bring Good with my actions.

Tengu_temp
2014-02-23, 01:04 PM
Just to clarify: I don't think that breaking down upon realizing what horrible things you've done makes you weak. It's a normal human reaction. But trying to make up for your horrible past is also a normal human reaction. It's also almost impossible to redeem yourself if you don't take any good action to balance the evil ones you committed.

I don't think any deed is heinous enough that you can't redeem yourself from it, through a combination of genuine remorse and performing good deeds to make up for it. Sometimes it's just so hard it's almost impossible. But almost impossible is not the same thing as impossible.

NichG
2014-02-23, 05:40 PM
With respect to the 'torturing one's own soul' thing for the sake of doing good in one's unlife, it has an interesting relationship to the story of Omelas - "For everyone to have a utopia, one person must kept in eternal suffering. I've volunteered to be that person."

AMFV
2014-02-23, 06:50 PM
If you're treating ethics as arithmetic then you're not "getting it".
What I am saying is that if a Lich were to regain their conscience they would be so overwhelmed with the feeling of crushing guilt that they would not be able to think rationally and would seek to escape it by committing suicide.
If they didn't feel this crushing guilt then they haven't really regained a conscience and therefore haven't really been redeemed at all. They're just faking it.

Because being a lich is unspeakably evil, the level of guilt you'd feel if you were a lich with a conscience is necessarily so overbearing that'd you commit suicide.

A Lich doing good and trying to redeem itself is about as possible as a square circle. It's self evidently impossible.

It's not any more impossible than anything else, or any particular conscience thing, there is nothing that so evil as to be beyond redemption. Furthermore you talk about the evils of "treating ethics like arithmetic" then you argue that certain things will ALWAYS result in the same behavior, regardless of how different people believe or behave. There is no "this is always evil enough that a good person will try to kill themselves" that's ludicrous to my thinking.

Robs
2014-02-23, 07:42 PM
You're approaching this from an absolute point of view. "Someone who committed such horrible deeds will always commit suicide when they realize what have they done". This is not how people work! Different people will do different things in such situation; some will fall to despair, others will try to escape from it, others will feel that they can only redeem themselves by ending their existence. And some will actually try to make amends for their horrible past deeds by performing good deeds in the present and future.

I personally think that trying to redeem yourself by doing good is more noble and courageous than trying to redeem yourself through suicide. At least you help people this way. By killing yourself, you're usually not helping anyone. If that's treating ethics as arithmetic, then I wish more good-aligned adventurers treated ethics as arithmetic. This way they could more effectively help people and spend less time doing arbitrarily good actions that don't actually end up helping anyone.

Some things in DND were written with an absolute point of view, and lich's look to be something like that, nothing has been written on the subject of lich redemption because everyone knew that the lich exists to be evil, not that its evil to be a lich.

I don't know why the idea of a lich is being approached with such romanticism and forgiveness. If something has committed unspeakable acts and then works to redeem themselves, they are a not-lich, by definition pretty much, use something else to express the concept (which is how the idea of a lich was probably created in the first place).

end

AMFV
2014-02-23, 07:48 PM
Some things in DND were written with an absolute point of view, and lich's look to be something like that, nothing has been written on the subject of lich redemption because everyone knew that the lich exists to be evil, not that its evil to be a lich.

I don't know why the idea of a lich is being approached with such romanticism and forgiveness. If something has committed unspeakable acts and then works to redeem themselves, they are a not-lich, by definition pretty much, use something else to express the concept (which is how the idea of a lich was probably created in the first place).

end

That's not the case though, a lich doesn't have to continue to perform unspeakable acts to remain a lich, once they've done it it's done, and then that means that redemption is possible. Since they don't need to keep doing things to stay a lich redemption is certainly possible, since the unspeakable acts where in the past. A lich isn't defined by committing unspeakable acts, but by putting its soul into a phylactery to preserve it's life, once that's done it's a lich until it is destroyed, no matter what happens to it's outlook.

Robs
2014-02-23, 07:53 PM
That's not the case though, a lich doesn't have to continue to perform unspeakable acts to remain a lich, once they've done it it's done, and then that means that redemption is possible. Since they don't need to keep doing things to stay a lich redemption is certainly possible, since the unspeakable acts where in the past. A lich isn't defined by committing unspeakable acts, but by putting its soul into a phylactery to preserve it's life, once that's done it's a lich until it is destroyed, no matter what happens to it's outlook.

I'd call what you are suggesting there anthropomorphism, the assigning of human characteristics to an object.

NichG
2014-02-23, 08:14 PM
I don't know why the idea of a lich is being approached with such romanticism and forgiveness. If something has committed unspeakable acts and then works to redeem themselves, they are a not-lich, by definition pretty much, use something else to express the concept (which is how the idea of a lich was probably created in the first place).


A PC can be/become a Lich. A PC gets to choose how they act. Therefore, there will always be the possibility of moral ambiguity for a Lich, since a PC isn't bound to continue to act in an evil fashion even after comitting a single, unspeakable/unforgivable/etc act.

Whether or not its anthropomorphism in the case of a lich, the thing is that alignment is descriptive, not prescriptive, so in a game with players who view their characters differently than the DM, this kind of thing can come up. Having 'E' on your sheet doesn't mean you have to burn orphanages, and if there is such a thing as a moral event horizon such that after that point your alignment can never not be 'E', then passing through that horizon basically frees you up to act in any way you can imagine without your alignment shifting away from 'E' no matter how you act.

Mastikator
2014-02-23, 08:23 PM
It's not any more impossible than anything else, or any particular conscience thing, there is nothing that so evil as to be beyond redemption. Furthermore you talk about the evils of "treating ethics like arithmetic" then you argue that certain things will ALWAYS result in the same behavior, regardless of how different people believe or behave. There is no "this is always evil enough that a good person will try to kill themselves" that's ludicrous to my thinking.

What I am saying is that the "amount" of evil necessary to become a lich is far beyond what any would be willing to live with. A lich that would somehow regain the capacity for good, that would regain its conscience, would inevitably be overwhelmed by the guilt because it's beyond what even the "strongest" (or whatever) can take.

What I am saying is that the guilt is comparable to severe torture, which people don't actually react that differently too (and eventually everyone begs for relief even if death is the only option, and the guilt is always sufficient for that extreme).

AMFV
2014-02-23, 08:43 PM
What I am saying is that the "amount" of evil necessary to become a lich is far beyond what any would be willing to live with. A lich that would somehow regain the capacity for good, that would regain its conscience, would inevitably be overwhelmed by the guilt because it's beyond what even the "strongest" (or whatever) can take.

What I am saying is that the guilt is comparable to severe torture, which people don't actually react that differently too (and eventually everyone begs for relief even if death is the only option, and the guilt is always sufficient for that extreme).

There are people who have been tortured who have not committed suicide. So your analogy breaks down. People will respond to the stress differently, and not everybody would react by trying to have the same sort of response. While liches have a lot to make up for, they have a great deal more power than most and an infinite lifespan to make up for it. Which is something where they could eventually seek redemption.

Again, you're making the assumption that overwhelming guilt can only be ended by suicide, which a much more dangerous proposition for a lich since they will be permanently destroyed, which won't do much to make amends, a good person tries to make amends for wrong-doing.

Mastikator
2014-02-23, 09:11 PM
There are people who have been tortured who have not committed suicide

And would they never commit suicide no matter how much torture they would be subjected to? Unless you're saying that there are people who can resist an indefinite amount of torture then you're making a strawman argument. Can you not see that?

Kane0
2014-02-23, 09:16 PM
Blah blah, non-evil liches in Monsters of Faerûn (baelnorn, archlich), Libris Mortis, blah blah.

I love how you preempted the rest of the thread right there.

squiggit
2014-02-23, 09:16 PM
Unless you're saying that there are people who can resist an indefinite amount of torture then you're making a strawman argument. Can you not see that?

Do you really not realize that 'Everyone in this situation would act in this way or else they're lying" is equally if not more flippant?

AMFV
2014-02-23, 09:16 PM
And would they never commit suicide no matter how much torture they would be subjected to? Unless you're saying that there are people who can resist an indefinite amount of torture then you're making a strawman argument. Can you not see that?

People break in different ways, there are people who have undergone the physical limits of torture and have went on to live productive lives, there is only so much torture you can physically subject people to, and there are people that have been subjected to that. Furthermore there are people who have turned their lives around. This isn't a strawman, you're argument is assuming that there is a point where people react in a way that can be determined without taking into account the individual, and that's simply not true, not on any scale.

The Oni
2014-02-23, 09:30 PM
The average person might succumb to despair and off themselves in this situation, but even assuming this is true, we're referring to adventurer-types, fantasy heroes and villains - who aren't even remotely average in any sense of the word. Remarkable willpower and perseverance are par for the course in such stories.

And specifically, we're talking about a person who, to paraphrase Xykon, made the decision tear off and discard their flesh rather than admit weakness. I would guess that a sudden attack of conscience wouldn't cost them all that resolve, so it's quite likely that anyone who met that qualification to become a Lich would be able to resist such crushing despair.

Zaydos
2014-02-23, 09:45 PM
One possibility is that the mutilation of the soul a lich deals themselves involves casting off those parts of them which make them capable of goodness.

That said, yeah Archliches present an opportunity for a good aligned lich. Interesting tidbits from their original (2e) appearance they had to be at least 18th level wizards or clerics or 24th level bards (liches had to be wizards), it's noted that "Archliches, unlike liches, do not forget" (liches are noted as forgetting their human lives eventually becoming purely driven by lust for power), and the transformation had a 7% chance of killing you and an 83% chance of working (no note for the other 10%).

But a lich that seeks to turn good is something else entirely and potentially rather interesting. Ultimately lichdom represents (at least in all editions of D&D) the ultimate devotion to pursuit of power at all costs. So what could turn a lich from this path? If it turned from that darkness what would the path of redemption entail for it?

AMFV
2014-02-23, 09:51 PM
One possibility is that the mutilation of the soul a lich deals themselves involves casting off those parts of them which make them capable of goodness.

That said, yeah Archliches present an opportunity for a good aligned lich. Interesting tidbits from their original (2e) appearance they had to be at least 18th level wizards or clerics or 24th level bards (liches had to be wizards), it's noted that "Archliches, unlike liches, do not forget" (liches are noted as forgetting their human lives eventually becoming purely driven by lust for power), and the transformation had a 7% chance of killing you and an 83% chance of working (no note for the other 10%).

But a lich that seeks to turn good is something else entirely and potentially rather interesting. Ultimately lichdom represents (at least in all editions of D&D) the ultimate devotion to pursuit of power at all costs. So what could turn a lich from this path? If it turned from that darkness what would the path of redemption entail for it?

Well it's not pursuit of power, but the avoidance of death, it's a different thing entirely. One is motivated by fear the other by greed. So the fear of death motivates the lich more than anything else, and it's driven him to do terrible things, while they might be able to recover eventually, depending on what happens to them.

Mastikator
2014-02-23, 09:52 PM
People break in different ways, there are people who have undergone the physical limits of torture and have went on to live productive lives, there is only so much torture you can physically subject people to, and there are people that have been subjected to that. Furthermore there are people who have turned their lives around. This isn't a strawman, you're argument is assuming that there is a point where people react in a way that can be determined without taking into account the individual, and that's simply not true, not on any scale.

Do the physical limits of torture compare to unspeakably supernatural evil of being a lich?

I don't think so. I think they are in different dimensions entirely. Saying that anyone can live with themselves after that is akin to saying you can survive being stabbed in the heart if you just will it hard enough.

How evil is unspeakably evil really? Can unspeakably evil even exist in reality? Well, think of the evilest thing ever even possible. It's worse than that. It's worse than anyone can even hypothetically imagine.

AMFV
2014-02-23, 10:11 PM
Do the physical limits of torture compare to unspeakably supernatural evil of being a lich?

I don't think so. I think they are in different dimensions entirely. Saying that anyone can live with themselves after that is akin to saying you can survive being stabbed in the heart if you just will it hard enough.

How evil is unspeakably evil really? Can unspeakably evil even exist in reality? Well, think of the evilest thing ever even possible. It's worse than that. It's worse than anyone can even hypothetically imagine.

Which means that you can't produce evidence that it would be beyond the kind of willpower that forces one to avoid death at any cost. Liches have the willpower to not want to fight death.

Besides which everyone handles emotional stresses differently. A lich may handle the emotional response very differently than another lich. Certainly death may be an option, but maybe death isn't the end, guilt can turn outwards towards public works rather than inwards to self-harm. And what we're dealing with is guilt, maybe the redeemed lich thinks that suicide is the easy way out, and that he doesn't deserve it.

Another_Poet
2014-02-24, 12:35 AM
They're withered and skeletal, and "decay and corruption is [a lich's] constant companion". Also, I don't think undead get mental stat boosts from aging.

Sure, but if they put on a +4 Wis item they get wiser, and they can take Wis bumps every 4 levels if they work to gain class levels.

In any case, just because something is decayed in body doesn't mean it can't learn from new experiences and change its philosophy.

I would say there's no rules reason against it, but a truly redeemed lich would consider how atrociously evil its own act of creation was, and end its own (un)life to let its soul pass on to judgment. Saying "I am good now but I don't accept punishment for my earlier crimes" is kind of like saying "I'm not actually good now."

AMFV
2014-02-24, 12:38 AM
Sure, but if they put on a +4 Wis item they get wiser, and they can take Wis bumps every 4 levels if they work to gain class levels.

In any case, just because something is decayed in body doesn't mean it can't learn from new experiences and change its philosophy.

I would say there's no rules reason against it, but a truly redeemed lich would consider how atrociously evil its own act of creation was, and end its own (un)life to let its soul pass on to judgment. Saying "I am good now but I don't accept punishment for my earlier crimes" is kind of like saying "I'm not actually good now."

But death for a lich is the absence of punishment. A lich who dies ceases to be, that's no opportunity for redemption.

squiggit
2014-02-24, 12:43 AM
but a truly redeemed lich would consider how atrociously evil its own act of creation was, and end its own (un)life to let its soul pass on to judgment.

Or it could, y'know, try to atone through good works and heroic actions. It's not exactly an uncommon plot point to have a bad guy turned good guy struggling to make up for atrocities committed. As said above, there's no redemption in oblivion.

This whole "suicide is the only option" bit seems really bizarre to me.

Plus it strikes me as weird that someone who's so desperate to escape from death that they're willing to become something as fetid and maligned as a lich would think of suicide as their first and only recourse.

Hytheter
2014-02-24, 01:00 AM
This has been said before, but I happen to agree: It's stated that becoming a Lich is evil, but there's no evidence that merely being a Lich is inherently evil, or that becoming good somehow revokes your lichdom. Therfore, Liches should be able to redeem themselves the way any other character can. It shouldn't be easy of course - a rigorous dedication to acts of goodness and possibly liberal use of the atonement spell should be required, but it should be possible. And why not? This is our game, we decide what happens.


Saying that anyone can live with themselves after that is akin to saying you can survive being stabbed in the heart if you just will it hard enough.

This is not even close to an appropriate comparison. You can't just choose to not bleed out or whatever. But suicide is always a choice, and it's absurd to insist that everyone would make that choice. Even if that would be true in reality (and I would say it certainly is not), remember that we're playing fictional characters in fictional universes where the players decide what happens.


I just feel like the DND 3e non-description is a cop-out. Tell us what is the unspeakably evil thing!

It's not a cop-out, it's deliberately left vague so that the DM can tailor the process to the story they want to tell.
If a Player or NPC wants to become a lich, then the DM can decide exactly what they need to do. In the case of a player, this could be an adventure for that player or the party. For an NPC, the players could be working to stop it.
But the important thing is that the DM has room to make it something interesting and exciting, rather than all liches having the exact same generic process.

~~~

Here's a fun fact: Paladins can actually qualify to become Liches. They would of course lose their paladinhood from the process, but if we work on the assumption that redemption is achievable then we could theoretically have a Lich Paladin, sworn to serve his cause for a literal eternity.

Vrock_Summoner
2014-02-24, 01:02 AM
Do the physical limits of torture compare to unspeakably supernatural evil of being a lich?

I don't think so. I think they are in different dimensions entirely. Saying that anyone can live with themselves after that is akin to saying you can survive being stabbed in the heart if you just will it hard enough.

How evil is unspeakably evil really? Can unspeakably evil even exist in reality? Well, think of the evilest thing ever even possible. It's worse than that. It's worse than anyone can even hypothetically imagine.

Funny thing is, you're kind of holding D&D characters to one realistic standard and then holding real people to a D&D-esque standard. It's not equivalent. With the right feat, a D&D character can, in fact, Will save to avoid dying from a stab to the heart.

And you're underestimating that willpower in D&D characters. A character can willpower himself into not feeling fear staring down a friggin' dragon. A character can Will save to overcome the fear of literally the worst thing they are capable of fearing, even if they don't know what it is until they are shown it by a 9th level spell. They can Fortitude save to avoid dying from having their necks slashed open, they can make a skill check to repair somebody getting cut in half, and most importantly, they can commit genocide and still be redeemed.

The only problem here is that "unspeakably Evil" is so poorly defined, because the Core books are supposed to be kid-friendly. It could be any of the atrocious things mentioned in Book of Vile Darkness for all we know, and people can be redeemed from those.

But yeah. The willpower these guys probably have is, to re-articulate what you said in your point about the unspeakable evil, beyond comprehension. Imagine the strongest displays of will you have ever seen, be it from real life, history, fiction, whatever. ANYTHING. And these guys have willpower so strong compared to that, that whatever exceptionally strong-willed character you picked looks painfully like the average human in comparison. You can't even quantify this level of self-contained badass.

BrokenChord
2014-02-24, 01:35 AM
I, for one, doubt if liches even have all the emotional moving parts necessary to do a heel face turn. Or face turn door slam as the case may be. But if they can, they would go through pretty self-destructive guilt. Necessary suicide? No, or at least not right away. The constant torture argument is accurate, but it also fails to mention that the lich could probably go for quite a long time before he succumbs to the need for relief from his guilt. I mean, yes, I think even D&D characters would succumb to a literal eternity of torture eventually, but the lich has hope that his suffering might one day fade, and you have to remember that while a regular person might take weeks or months to break, a D&D character is realistically going to still feel "meh, no problem, I've kinda gotten used to it/still don't care" after decades or, in the lich's case, centuries and millennia.

JusticeZero
2014-02-24, 04:53 AM
I would think that the "feeling of guilt" is part of one of those "parts" that stops working when they flip over to the negative energy side.

Tengu_temp
2014-02-24, 05:40 AM
I don't know why the idea of a lich is being approached with such romanticism and forgiveness. If something has committed unspeakable acts and then works to redeem themselves, they are a not-lich, by definition pretty much, use something else to express the concept (which is how the idea of a lich was probably created in the first place).


I'm pretty sure that "being of absolute evil" is not a part of a lich's description. And if a redeemed lich is not a lich anymore, then what is it?

And why the romanticism and forgiveness? Because it's not just liches, it's all creatures. Everyone can redeem themselves if they want hard enough and try hard enough. It doesn't matter if you're a lich, a foul demon, a genocidal maniac, or whatever - if you feel genuinely remorseful for your actions, are set not to repeat them anymore and want to make up for them without dodging the responsibility for them, then redemption is within your grasp. Sometimes it can be ridiculously difficult to achieve it. But it's there.


What I am saying is that the "amount" of evil necessary to become a lich is far beyond what any would be willing to live with. A lich that would somehow regain the capacity for good, that would regain its conscience, would inevitably be overwhelmed by the guilt because it's beyond what even the "strongest" (or whatever) can take.

What I am saying is that the guilt is comparable to severe torture, which people don't actually react that differently too (and eventually everyone begs for relief even if death is the only option, and the guilt is always sufficient for that extreme).

This absolutism again. No. I already said that not everyone reacts the same way in the same situation, even if it's an extreme one. For example, what about people who vehemently oppose suicide and would never take their own life no matter what?

Also, we're talking about a fantasy world. Nothing is powerful enough that the strongest mind cannot resist it.

Brookshw
2014-02-24, 05:52 AM
.
I don't know why the idea of a lich is being approached with such romanticism and forgiveness.

Oh, I don't know, maybe see: thread title?

Rosstin
2014-02-24, 06:19 AM
I had a non-evil lich in one of my games, he was an archivist / magician / scientist beastman who lived in an old library. His fur had all fallen out from being dead, and the centuries and centuries of lonely study had taken him far far out of touch with reality. He was a little bit senile and uncomprehending of the problems of the outside world, but more pitiable than evil, and the PCs didn't bother killing him. (In fact, one of the PCs was a wizard from the past who was once his colleague.)

In that world, there were many ways to achieve immortality. Each method had its own drawbacks. For example, one method was lichdom, which meant that your body stopped. You were no longer alive.

Another method was to turn to stone, and sort of timeskip, sampling each month or year or decade and then returning to stone to wait things out.

Druids, Monks, and shapeshifters would often have longer healthy lifespans, with delayed physical aging penalties. But they would still eventually die.

Another method was sacrificing the souls of other sentients to keep yourself alive, vital, young, and healthy. Souls are an incredible fuel source.

The liches who just accepted horrible undeath as immortality didn't necessarily become evil, but they did lose something precious and valuable. Kind of like the "stasis" others talked about. Being undead isn't, uh, healthy. It extends your lifespan greatly but it saps your spirit, your drive. You become very mechanical and set in your ways. Over the course of a few centuries, life eventually ceases to seem to be worth it. It does buy you quite a bit of time, though. It's like slowly, very slowly being taken over by a deep depression, and eventually you just no longer have the will to move or act.

Those who sacrificed the souls of other sentients were all evil. They might not have thought of themselves as evil, but no one in that world had enough real enemies or knew enough evil people to have a steady fuel source of guilt-free victims to leech.

Mastikator
2014-02-24, 10:21 AM
This has been said before, but I happen to agree: It's stated that becoming a Lich is evil, but there's no evidence that merely being a Lich is inherently evil, [snip]

Merely being a lich is absolutely evil, the lich has taken his soul and stuffed in a box and hid the box away, he's literally taken anything good out of himself and replaced it with evil magic glued by negative energy into the shape of a man (in the words of Redcloak). He- like BrokenChord poignantly said, doesn't have the moving parts to do good.

Now I would agree that becoming good wouldn't revoke his lichdom, but I would say that he can't just become good. It has to be a supernatural act done upon him to somehow restore the good in him which would instantly crush him with guilt.



This is not even close to an appropriate comparison. You can't just choose to not bleed out or whatever. But suicide is always a choice, and it's absurd to insist that everyone would make that choice. [snip]

It's a very appropriate comparison, free will only makes any sense if you believe that people have souls. Liches don't.

hamishspence
2014-02-24, 10:29 AM
Merely being a lich is absolutely evil, the lich has taken his soul and stuffed in a box and hid the box away

According to Complete Divine, soul is in lich, not box. Soul retreats to box when lich body is destroyed.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-24, 10:30 AM
Just to clarify: I don't think that breaking down upon realizing what horrible things you've done makes you weak. It's a normal human reaction. But trying to make up for your horrible past is also a normal human reaction. It's also almost impossible to redeem yourself if you don't take any good action to balance the evil ones you committed.

I don't think any deed is heinous enough that you can't redeem yourself from it, through a combination of genuine remorse and performing good deeds to make up for it. Sometimes it's just so hard it's almost impossible. But almost impossible is not the same thing as impossible.

yeah but thats the rub: liches aren't human anymore.

they don't have a "normal human reaction" anymore. they threw that away for lichdom.

Mastikator
2014-02-24, 10:41 AM
According to Complete Divine, soul is in lich, not box. Soul retreats to box when lich body is destroyed.

Did not know that. In that case a Lich can change and become good (if gradually). Heck, a spell caster can start out good, become a lich and remain good (except for that evil act of becoming a lich).
Seems like boring fluff though, meh.

geeky_monkey
2014-02-24, 10:43 AM
It's a very appropriate comparison, free will only makes any sense if you believe that people have souls. Liches don't.

This is mechancially wrong. In D&D The soul remains inside the lich. It retreats to the Phylactery when the lich is destroyed rather than ending up in whichever afterlife it should go to.

It's also wrong for many other reasons but sadly we aren't allowed to discuss religion on these boards.

Edit: and I've been massively ninja'd while looking up the rules.

The_Werebear
2014-02-24, 11:22 AM
Now I would agree that becoming good wouldn't revoke his lichdom, but I would say that he can't just become good. It has to be a supernatural act done upon him to somehow restore the good in him which would instantly crush him with guilt.


It also depends on if Goodness is tallied by thoughts or by actions. A recent campaign I played in had a Lich help the good aligned party overthrow an evil, necrocratic, devil worshiping government that had taken over the city we were originally from. This included turning over several powerful relics (including a vial of Angel Blood freely shed that we needed for a ritual) and ignoring the theft of another powerful item (the skull of a hero of the church slain by the cult that we Resurrected) by a CG outsider we were working with. He'd also had a previous history of reasonable interactions, including turning aside a Crusade directed at him by negotiation.

He did all this not out of the goodness of his heart, but because he realized that being a good neighbor (and having Good neighbors rather than people who would Command his Undead and covet his research) would be better for him. If Good is tallied by deed rather than reason, however, he is directly responsible for the eradication of a massive devil cult, the salvation of thousands of souls from fiendish taint, and the reopening of a direct portal to the upper planes. That much good would probably make him at LEAST neutral.

GolemsVoice
2014-02-24, 11:38 AM
He did all this not out of the goodness of his heart, but because he realized that being a good neighbor (and having Good neighbors rather than people who would Command his Undead and covet his research) would be better for him. If Good is tallied by deed rather than reason, however, he is directly responsible for the eradication of a massive devil cult, the salvation of thousands of souls from fiendish taint, and the reopening of a direct portal to the upper planes. That much good would probably make him at LEAST neutral.

I'd say he's somewhat Neutral, yeah. He essentially wants to be a law-abiding citizen, in a sense, and thus helps Good and behaves reasonable, in general.

The one problem I'd have was the fact that he did something unspeakably evil to even become a lich. And I'm interpreting "unspeakably evil" in the sense of sacrificing innocents, dark rituals, etc., not the more philosophical "mutilated his own soul" bit.

Tengu_temp
2014-02-24, 11:42 AM
yeah but thats the rub: liches aren't human anymore.

they don't have a "normal human reaction" anymore. they threw that away for lichdom.

They're still people, because they're sapient.

AMFV
2014-02-24, 12:45 PM
I'd say he's somewhat Neutral, yeah. He essentially wants to be a law-abiding citizen, in a sense, and thus helps Good and behaves reasonable, in general.

The one problem I'd have was the fact that he did something unspeakably evil to even become a lich. And I'm interpreting "unspeakably evil" in the sense of sacrificing innocents, dark rituals, etc., not the more philosophical "mutilated his own soul" bit.

The problem is that even those things are not unforgivable, or at least not things that one can't try to atone for. And a lich has forever, even he might never reach a point where he can consider that he's atoned, he can eternally work towards it, knowing he'll never reach it, which might actually be enough to count for atonement, at least in my book it would.

Mark Hall
2014-02-24, 01:18 PM
So, anyone else thinking of Buffy the Vampire Slayer... specifically, Spike and Angel?

So, Angel was, for a long time, known as Angelus. He was a horrific beast, murdering his way across Europe and back again. Then he got cursed with a soul, and, with a couple of hiccups, became a good guy who avoided killing humans if at all possible.

Spike, of course, was his protege. He was just as evil, if a touch more anarchist than Angelus's pure diabolic glee in murder. But, through a few seasons of classical conditioning, decided he wanted to gain a soul and undertook a quest to get one.

On the other hand, Buffy, in her on-screen career as a Slayer, killed 133 vampires. Her assorted Scoobies & Friends? Another hundred or so (according to this post at slayalive (http://slayaliveforums.proboards.com/post/184546/thread)). And while Buffy had a long career for a slayer, that's in a relatively short amount of time. We see hundreds more vampires than that. All, while not irredeemably evil (qv Angel and Spike), certainly unrepentantly so.

GungHo
2014-02-24, 02:08 PM
I just feel like the DND 3e non-description is a cop-out. Tell us what is the unspeakably evil thing! Also, like I mentioned before, sometimes DND has a weird definition of what constitutes an evil act and what doesn't, so I'd like to make sure it's not the case here.
If they spoke about the unspeakably evil thing, it would no longer be unspeakable.


I don't think any deed is heinous enough that you can't redeem yourself from it, through a combination of genuine remorse and performing good deeds to make up for it. Sometimes it's just so hard it's almost impossible. But almost impossible is not the same thing as impossible.
Dragon Kings of Athas are pretty close to "so bad you can't make up for it", but that's as close to anything in D&D I remember where they bothered to get into detail of the great crimes of the Elder Evils, BoVD not withstanding.


A PC can be/become a Lich. A PC gets to choose how they act. Therefore, there will always be the possibility of moral ambiguity for a Lich, since a PC isn't bound to continue to act in an evil fashion even after comitting a single, unspeakable/unforgivable/etc act.
And unfortunately, once a PC starts doing things, the unspeakable must become speakable, and you actually have to start scoping out the depth of Ye Olde Rabbithole. In the olden days, they just distracted players and told them if they tried it, their character sheets would be taken away from them for being jerks. Now, we gotta figure out if it's 40 puppies or 50 puppies and figure out an exchange rate if they decided to use kittens. I sometimes long for the simpler times.


And would they never commit suicide no matter how much torture they would be subjected to? Unless you're saying that there are people who can resist an indefinite amount of torture then you're making a strawman argument. Can you not see that?
Can we not do this this time? Pretty please? I'll redeem a lich if we can not do this.


I don't know why the idea of a lich is being approached with such romanticism and forgiveness. If something has committed unspeakable acts and then works to redeem themselves, they are a not-lich, by definition pretty much, use something else to express the concept (which is how the idea of a lich was probably created in the first place).
Redeeming the irredemable is a theme in many epic quests. Hell, I can imagine a deep, dark horrible artifact that could only be destroyed when touched by the tears of a redeemed lich. So, I can see why people would be curious. Also, there's a certain romaticism in the "redeemed vampire" concept, so I can also see people trying to grow it into other undead that were originally human.

GolemsVoice
2014-02-24, 02:15 PM
The problem is that even those things are not unforgivable, or at least not things that one can't try to atone for. And a lich has forever, even he might never reach a point where he can consider that he's atoned, he can eternally work towards it, knowing he'll never reach it, which might actually be enough to count for atonement, at least in my book it would.

Absolutely! But to atone for something unspeakably evil, you'll have to be not only self-servingly good, but you'll have to be, well, unspeakably good, so to say. Now I'm sure many reasonable paladins and good folks could do with a lich who is explicitely trying to not be evil without neccessarily being good, but yeah, atoning takes more than just being good because it's convenient.


That being said, if a lich, for whatever reason, tries very hard to atone, I see no reason why he shouldn't, even if he has a LOT to atone for.
However, I also have no problem with writing lichs as incapable of atonement, either because they are physically incapable of caring, or because they are always evil and thus would never WANT to atone.

Depends on the flavour of the lich I guess, and just how much they have control over what they are and do.

Mastikator
2014-02-24, 02:30 PM
[snip]
Can we not do this this time? Pretty please? I'll redeem a lich if we can not do this.[snip]

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=17064048&postcount=88

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeadHorseTrope

hamishspence
2014-02-24, 03:06 PM
The demilich in Epic handbook, while listed as Evil, is relatively harmless - all she does, all day, is scribe spells.

She's a gem-studded hand, rather than a skull, though.

Brookshw
2014-02-24, 03:38 PM
Given the number of evil parties I seem to keep hearing about I should start incorporating "unspeakably good" into games. Like kittens riding puppies or something except that's not unspeakable enough.

zyggythorn
2014-02-24, 03:57 PM
So then, theoretically, what about a '2 man lich'
as in, a guy who will turn you into a lich for so form of payment. (the surgeon)
and another person desperate enough to need the eternal unlife of lichdom (the body)

The Surgeon would concretely need to be Evil of some sort, but The Body could be of any alignment, so long as the personal beliefs of the character have nothing against the undead.

so- NE Surgeon liches up CG body to prevent Cthulhu from rising. Until the end of time.

Would the Body automatically drop to CE because he became a lich? What if the Body had no idea what the process to give him the power to fight off eldritch oblivions was?

It's a classic Godzilla Threshold plus whiffs of Evil vs Oblivion.

JusticeZero
2014-02-24, 04:21 PM
He did all this not out of the goodness of his heart, but because he realized that being a good neighbor (and having Good neighbors rather than people who would Command his Undead and covet his research) would be better for him. If Good is tallied by deed rather than reason, however, he is directly responsible for the eradication of a massive devil cult, the salvation of thousands of souls from fiendish taint, and the reopening of a direct portal to the upper planes. That much good would probably make him at LEAST neutral.
I would consider him to still ping as evil. It's a Lich, they will never stop detecting as Evil. I do consider deeds to be important, it's just that in this case it really is irrelevant. That said, these are all reasons that I would consider completely in character for a Lich. Pure pragmatism.
The Lich cannot walk toward the light, because their ability to see the light was extinguished along with their life. They can still end up moving that way just because the path is better.

GolemsVoice
2014-02-24, 05:12 PM
Would the Body automatically drop to CE because he became a lich? What if the Body had no idea what the process to give him the power to fight off eldritch oblivions was?

It doesn't matter who does the ritual, anyone who willingly and knowingly participates in an act that requires an "unspeakably evil" ritual to succeed is himself evil.

zyggythorn
2014-02-24, 05:32 PM
It doesn't matter who does the ritual, anyone who willingly and knowingly participates in an act that requires an "unspeakably evil" ritual to succeed is himself evil.

The thing to note in this theoretical is that The Body might actually not know that he is becoming a lich.

In either event- this particular case is much more of a thought experiment and better for world building than actual PC usage. Imagine- a monk becomes a lich with the help of his wizard buddy. That's a thread and a half of badness to sort out.

NichG
2014-02-24, 06:23 PM
And unfortunately, once a PC starts doing things, the unspeakable must become speakable, and you actually have to start scoping out the depth of Ye Olde Rabbithole. In the olden days, they just distracted players and told them if they tried it, their character sheets would be taken away from them for being jerks. Now, we gotta figure out if it's 40 puppies or 50 puppies and figure out an exchange rate if they decided to use kittens. I sometimes long for the simpler times.


I find this to be an interesting GM challenge personally - how to say something simply that is easily enough done to account for the number of liches in existence (so it can't be cosmic in scale), not ridiculous enough to be laughable rather than horrible, and also be compellingly convincing as being 'unspeakably evil'.

Incidentally, my reading of 'unspeakably evil' isn't that you literally cannot express it through language, but rather than it is something whose description is so off-putting and horrifying to people that even if you were to do so in the service of trying to prevent/end the act, people (and you yourself) would feel awful for speaking of it. There's a lot of stuff like this actually, which would be considered inappropriate to discuss due to squicking people out/bringing up real life issues/etc, but which could in fact be described accurately in a cold and clinical manner. In fact, going into detail in game about any sort of torture scene usually qualifies for this.

Edit: Incidentally, a very simple and really boring way to satisfy the literal requirement for this is that the would-be lich simply has to speak a phrase in the Vile Tongue. If they aren't evil, it kills them. It cannot be described/spoken about by non-evil creatures, so to goodly folk it really is 'unspeakably evil'. And its sadly pretty boring.

Though, if the lich had to renew the chant every morning, that really would require the lich to be evil to continue existing, PC or no.

Brookshw
2014-02-24, 06:52 PM
It doesn't matter who does the ritual, anyone who willingly and knowingly participates in an act that requires an "unspeakably evil" ritual to succeed is himself evil.

Well sure, fall like a sack of bricks. I thought the question was "do you have to stay there" more or less.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-24, 07:46 PM
They're still people, because they're sapient.

and with that sapience they chose to permanently get rid of their humanity and throw away their last chance of ever being better than what they are ever again, choosing the stasis and stagnation of undeath in exchange for immortality, sealing their fate.


Y'know what a big theme of Start of Darkness was? it was about people making choices and sacrifices that ensure they will continue on the path they chose, no matter what, because the alternative is that they did it for nothing.

Xykon's choice was to give up his humanity, his last shred of potential to ever become more than just an evil necromancer. Once he became the lich, he couldn't taste coffee, and didn't even eye the succubus waitress like he did the first time as he killed her., and he began to kill things for the fun of it, before he just accidentally killed them and didn't care for the casualties.

Thats what being a lich means- you twisted yourself into something that should not be. you decided, with full awareness, to give up the natural part of yourself, to screw up your own soul and exchange natural life for life that should never have been, an unlife that only twists you to be crueler and more inhuman the longer you exist.

Sure- you could technically say it was really about Redcloak avoiding the fact that he could turn back- and for a moment, Redcloak did. But then he caved to Xykon once again. its not as if he didn't have a chance of taking him on- Redcloak's an epic level cleric, has his phylactery and is probably one of the brightest people in OOTS, he could've figured out a way, and heck, even dying would ensure that Xykon would be cheated out of ever ruling the world- sure it would probably kill all the other goblins as well, but hey....at least you didn't cave to a world-conquering lich-maniac. but! he did. he caved, he kept the course. Redcloak still had his chance to turn back, and since he is still alive, he still does.

Xykon on the other hand....well he seems pretty dead set. no considerations, no doubts, nothing, not after his change. Because that is what becoming a lich is: throwing that last bit of humanity away, that last chance to back out of the path you've chosen. sapient yes, but redeemable? no. They chose to give up redemption for immortality and a bunch of immunities. It doesn't work the other way.

AuraTwilight
2014-02-24, 08:19 PM
and with that sapience they chose to permanently get rid of their humanity and throw away their last chance of ever being better than what they are ever again, choosing the stasis and stagnation of undeath in exchange for immortality, sealing their fate.

No, they chose to become immortal at the expense of their physical body coming apart over time. Considering that Liches usually choose that road to continue their spellcasting without worrying about their natural lifespan, your statement doesn't even make sense. Lichdom without the capacity to advance or improve is pointless even from the point-of-view of a depraved person.

Also, Azalin's Darklord curse in Ravenloft is to be unable to learn new spells, implying he always could before despite being a lich, which implies he can learn and thus change as a person.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-24, 08:24 PM
but never towards good. sure, he can grow more powerful, but thats exactly the growth evil wants, and is not the growth that his soul needs. he is no longer an animal that can become tamed, only a beast that devours and grows larger.

GolemsVoice
2014-02-24, 09:33 PM
Well sure, fall like a sack of bricks. I thought the question was "do you have to stay there" more or less.


It has kind of drifted into a general lichdom discussion.

As for the original topic, I'd say that heavily depends not only on the kind of system you're playing, but also on how you handle lichs even if we restrict it to, say, D&D. Are lichs fully intelligent? Are they intelligent, but permanently twisted? Are they evil by pure existence, like demons?

Personally I'd say that, yes, a lich CAN redeem himself, but it will be hard, hard work. It might also involve getting rid of his "condition" in the end.

AMFV
2014-02-24, 09:43 PM
but never towards good. sure, he can grow more powerful, but thats exactly the growth evil wants, and is not the growth that his soul needs. he is no longer an animal that can become tamed, only a beast that devours and grows larger.

But there's no reason he can't have an epiphany, IF A SUCCUBUS OR A FIEND IS NOT BEYOND REDEMPTION, then neither should a former human being be beyond redemption.

It does depend a lot on how you run your games, but there is nothing wrong with "nobody is beyond redemption." Hell, one of the most popular stories involves redeeming somebody who is at least partially responsible for killing an entire planet, torturing dozens, murdering children, and killing anybody he felt annoyed him or was incompetent. Redemption is powerful, and to my thinking nobody is beyond redemption.

Brookshw
2014-02-24, 10:03 PM
It has kind of drifted into a general lichdom discussion.

At least we're still on the topic of liches?


Personally I'd say that, yes, a lich CAN redeem himself, but it will be hard, hard work. It might also involve getting rid of his "condition" in the end.

No arguments here.


Hell, one of the most popular stories involves redeeming somebody who is at least partially responsible for killing an entire planet, torturing dozens, murdering children, and killing anybody he felt annoyed him or was incompetent.

Okay, I'm drawing a blank. What story are you referencing? I'll probably feel like an idiot for missing it afterwards but none the less.

AMFV
2014-02-24, 10:05 PM
Okay, I'm drawing a blank. What story are you referencing? I'll probably feel like an idiot for missing it afterwards but none the less.

Star Wars, the reference was Star Wars.

Slipperychicken
2014-02-24, 10:12 PM
Given the number of evil parties I seem to keep hearing about I should start incorporating "unspeakably good" into games. Like kittens riding puppies or something except that's not unspeakable enough.

I would tell you, but it's kind of unspeakable. There isn't enough goodness in my heart to give voice to the heights of virtue requisite for such an act.

Maybe you'd need to commit a ritual involving unspeakably good acts to turn into a Deathless (i.e. positive energy) Lich?

Geostationary
2014-02-24, 10:41 PM
I would tell you, but it's kind of unspeakable. There isn't enough goodness in my heart to give voice to the heights of virtue requisite for such an act.

Maybe you'd need to commit a ritual involving unspeakably good acts to turn into a Deathless (i.e. positive energy) Lich?

The problem with such a ritual is that with all the puppies and winsome dispossessed orphans you need, the typical adventurer may confuse you with an unspeakably evil lich-to-be instead. It's a common mistake, really.

Brookshw
2014-02-24, 10:43 PM
Star Wars, the reference was Star Wars.

Yup! I called it. Totally called it. Channeling the inner idiot for missing that one.

AuraTwilight
2014-02-25, 04:17 AM
but never towards good. sure, he can grow more powerful, but thats exactly the growth evil wants, and is not the growth that his soul needs. he is no longer an animal that can become tamed, only a beast that devours and grows larger.

The same could be said about demons but there's a canonical example of a Paladin Succubus in D&D.

If beings physically and spiritually composed of actual solid Evil can be Good through effort, I don't see any justification for why it's an entirely impossible thing for an undead human, no matter how depraved.

It also doesn't jive with the fact that Atonement is a thing that exists. Or that the Sanctified template can be applied to Liches.

JustSomeGuy
2014-02-25, 08:38 AM
If the only soul you have to maim is your own, then no, it's not evil... Though if the existence of a lich is naturally corrupting, you might still have a hard time being good.

Cue a troubled soul with a dark past, drifting from town to town righting wrongs and helping the weak and downtrodden; always moving on and seemingly runnig from something only hinted at but always more powerful than they are.

I think redeemed liches become 80's tv show protagonists, and their phylactery becomes a kickass sports car/van/helicopter/speedboat.

Brookshw
2014-02-25, 09:14 AM
I think redeemed liches become 80's tv show protagonists, and their phylactery becomes a kickass sports car/van/helicopter/speedboat.

Best thing to have come out of this thread yet! :smallbiggrin:

Lord Raziere
2014-02-25, 10:41 AM
The same could be said about demons but there's a canonical example of a Paladin Succubus in D&D.

If beings physically and spiritually composed of actual solid Evil can be Good through effort, I don't see any justification for why it's an entirely impossible thing for an undead human, no matter how depraved.

It also doesn't jive with the fact that Atonement is a thing that exists. Or that the Sanctified template can be applied to Liches.

well of course a succubus can redeem herself. the fact that she is a succubus is something that she has no control over, like an orc having no control over the fact they are an orc.

a lich however, has already made the choice to not redeem. there is no "accidental" lich. irredeemable.

so unless someone can choose to become a succubus, your argument does not hold water

hamishspence
2014-02-25, 10:49 AM
The idea is that the lich transformation, however bad it is - does not prevent a change of outlook from taking place afterward.

And yes- with the right magic - one could change oneself into a fiend - gain the Outsider type, gain the Evil subtype.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-25, 10:56 AM
The idea is that the lich transformation, however bad it is - does not prevent a change of outlook from taking place afterward.

the undead are not known for their change and growth. they are not just another race, they are dead. which means more than just their physical body. I mean do you think someone could DIE, then be resurrected using the WRONG energies to power and animate life-like actions and be unchanged? mentally and spiritually? cause I sure don't. that kind of stuff gets in your head, your soul, otherwise, what is the meaning of it at all? you might as well throw out the alignment system if we are going to consider every single thing redeemable, which while it works for a custom setting I myself made and like, I don't consider it working for DnD. mostly because in DnD-verse there are things that are irredeemable. orcs? fine, they're redeemable. demons, vampires? big maybe to no. liches? no. they made their choice. they die.

NichG
2014-02-25, 11:08 AM
A lich being (cosmically) irredeemable is actually more destabilizing for the alignment system than if they can actually be redeemed. If no matter what a lich does, no matter how they behave, etc, they are always considered 'evil' no matter what, then that creates a big uncertainty in those whose big thing is smiting evil - they could end up smiting someone who is having a strong net positive effect on the world and setting, because cosmically there are alignment 'black holes' from which you can never escape.

Which makes alignment more about the past than the present or future, which means that for people who are trying to make the world a better place in the present/future, alignment becomes a very unreliable indicator.

In other words, if you only get the 'evil' mark if you're actively making the world a worse place, then one can make a case for 'always deal with evil - either by trying to redeem it or destroy it'. But if the 'Evil' mark just means 'the morality of the cosmos has decided to sort you this way' then actively hunting down and destroying 'Evil' becomes a ridiculously simplistic viewpoint, the domain of 'lawful-stupid paladins' and the like, because they may well be destroying entities who are actively making the world a better place just because of an ancient transgression.

Or you're limited to arguments like 'the existence of undead makes the world a worse place because negative energy' which basically puts emphasis on highly abstract cosmic balances over, say, the fact that a bunch of people are starving or dying of plagues or being enslaved by Zhentarim or whatever. Which also puts a lot of stress on the alignment system in the sense that aligning with cosmic Good might well mean allowing a lot of suffering to exist in the name of an abstract ideology in that case.

Brookshw
2014-02-25, 12:05 PM
the undead are not known for their change and growth. they are not just another race, they are dead. which means more than just their physical body. I mean do you think someone could DIE, then be resurrected using the WRONG energies to power and animate life-like actions and be unchanged? mentally and spiritually? cause I sure don't. that kind of stuff gets in your head, your soul, otherwise, what is the meaning of it at all? you might as well throw out the alignment system if we are going to consider every single thing redeemable, which while it works for a custom setting I myself made and like, I don't consider it working for DnD. mostly because in DnD-verse there are things that are irredeemable. orcs? fine, they're redeemable. demons, vampires? big maybe to no. liches? no. they made their choice. they die.

So undead are somehow more evil than creatures that are embodiments of pure unadultarated evil spawned by the worst the cosmos have to offer? Yet while the embodiments of evil can be redeemed an undead creature (which was alive at one point so I'd assumes has some non-evil in its background) isn't? Seems odd to me.

AuraTwilight
2014-02-25, 04:07 PM
well of course a succubus can redeem herself. the fact that she is a succubus is something that she has no control over, like an orc having no control over the fact they are an orc.

a lich however, has already made the choice to not redeem. there is no "accidental" lich. irredeemable.

so unless someone can choose to become a succubus, your argument does not hold water

Yea except people can become succubuses. There's spells and rituals for ascending to demonhood in many fantasy settings, including D&D. It comes up more often than lichhood, I would wager, simply because of the proliferation of demons in popular culture.

Also Liches can still change their mind because Azalin. The Dark Powers of Ravenloft target people who perform acts of Ultimate Darkness (Azalin did something even worse than lichdom after he had been one for a while), and the power of Ravenloft requires that Darklords be capable of seeing the error of their ways, redemption, etc but simply keep refusing to take it.

If Azalin is literally, metaphysically incapable of redemption instead of being so because of his stubbornness, then the entire Moral Drama of the Ravenloft setting falls apart because the Moral Justice the setting relies on isn't functioning; a being is being tortured for no reason while being given phenomenal magical powers with which to torment scores of mortals forever.

Brookshw
2014-02-25, 05:19 PM
I would tell you, but it's kind of unspeakable. There isn't enough goodness in my heart to give voice to the heights of virtue requisite for such an act.

Maybe you'd need to commit a ritual involving unspeakably good acts to turn into a Deathless (i.e. positive energy) Lich?


Well, as I go back I'm starting to think that unspeakable good should stay unspeakable, the (http://lomion.de/cmm/img/opinicus.gif)spoken (http://takzu.com/flumph.html)is (http://lomion.de/cmm/img/owlspace.gif)goofy (http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRh6HwPrEGT-LEch-Jp2b5Mj3_XvNogtJtCGUB1wRQSpnlLCi-HHg)enough (http://lomion.de/cmm/img/sphiastr.gif)as (http://lomion.de/cmm/img/autognom.gif)is (http://lomion.de/cmm/img/bionoid.gif).

Hope those links work :smalleek:

JusticeZero
2014-02-25, 10:37 PM
Part of the issue here is that alignment actually has not one but three components that you can theoretically track.

One part is "How do I behave?" This can easily swing up to being good. Nobody tracks this normally, but in theory, the other two track it. In theory.

The second part is "What do Detect Alignment effects view me as?" In the comic this site is associated with, this becomes an issue at one point (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0202.html). Essentially, the things that the Gods use to decide what constitutes "Good" may not necessarily agree with what the players agree with; a number of conditions might cause Detect spells to trigger that do not agree with the values of the players, or which simply skew the results in ways that make the results incoherent. For instance, the Succubus Paladin might still detect as "Evil" because she is a demon.

Finally, you might also track the alignment of allegiance. Followers of a god probably want to go to their gods' place to hang out, rather than the somewhat nearby afterlife strictly dictated. "I follow the teachings of Nicey McNeutralGood! But I've been a community leader in life, and I'm actually Lawful Good now. When I die, will I be barred from the fluffy laid back paradise my God has created for Her followers?" Special dispensation may be offered, thus explaining the "one step removed" allowance for Clerics. Also, there may be a review step where some of those things that skew a Detect are corrected for.

kkplx
2014-02-26, 12:30 AM
You see, I am not sure is this because becoming a lich requires sacrificing innocents, destroying souls, torture, and other horrible things DND writers don't want to mention for some reason, or because they are operating on some weird principles where corrupting your own soul and becoming undead is more evil than murder (or, you know, evil at all).

If it's the former, then fair game. But if it's the latter, then it's dumb and I don't agree. It's my own soul, I'm an adult, I can do whatever I want with it!

...Now I'm imagining a teenage wizard prodigy who became a lich as an act of rebellion against his parents.

The necropolitan wizard i play in a campaign is almost exactly that - his master decided to aspire for lichdom, he himself decided to also take the step into undeath but without the reckles evil needed for lichdom. (They'd both bonded due to their lack of reservation and similar outlook on necromancy)

NotAnAardvark
2014-02-26, 12:43 AM
Am I the only one who finds the word "necropolitan" a bit cringeworthy?

kkplx
2014-02-26, 12:56 AM
Am I the only one who finds the word "necropolitan" a bit cringeworthy?

It means "inhabitant of a necropolis". Where's the problem? Basically translates into "Undead Citizen". I quite like the naming, actually. But that's kinda off-topic ^^

BrokenChord
2014-02-26, 12:57 AM
well of course a succubus can redeem herself. the fact that she is a succubus is something that she has no control over, like an orc having no control over the fact they are an orc.

a lich however, has already made the choice to not redeem. there is no "accidental" lich. irredeemable.

so unless someone can choose to become a succubus, your argument does not hold water

I don't really see what you're arguing here. Every single other Evil action is a choice too, but that doesn't stop them from being redeemable. Now, again, I am on the side of the debate that liches give up the part of themselves that is able to choose Good upon becoming a lich, but my argument is no more or less valid than somebody saying "that would mean creatures of pure Evil never have those parts in the first place, and we've seen a Succubus Paladin so..."

But yeah. Flesh this out a bit more for me, if you wouldn't mind. How does the fact that lichdom is a choice make it any less redeemable than other Evil choices one can make?

Robs
2014-02-26, 01:46 AM
I'd like to address the succubus redemption thing. Many keep saying that these outsiders are an embodiment of evil, but seem to miss the point of that.

they embody the evil. If there is no evil, there is no embodiment.

Likewise celestial embody good.

Taking it logically, there is no such thing as an actual embodiment of a succubus with a good alignment. If someone says so, they are mistaken.

Also taking it consistently, the idea of succubus redemption is entirely theoretically possible.

divine spark + evil + beauty + vitality + whatever else = succubus
divine spark + good + beauty + vitality + whatever else = whatever celestial embodies these things.


And I think undead can be redeemed, but just as being redeemed requires an alignment change (why not a redeemed guy whos still evil huh? makes as much sense as idea of a still undead thing which is redeemed), they need to be brought to life again (first).

hamishspence
2014-02-26, 02:20 AM
The Evil subtype simply means, according to the MM, that the creature is associated with one of the Lower Planes in some way - possibly, through being native to it.

It may be a case of "evil as an energy".

AuraTwilight
2014-02-26, 02:29 AM
I'd like to address the succubus redemption thing. Many keep saying that these outsiders are an embodiment of evil, but seem to miss the point of that.

they embody the evil. If there is no evil, there is no embodiment.

Likewise celestial embody good.

Taking it logically, there is no such thing as an actual embodiment of a succubus with a good alignment. If someone says so, they are mistaken.

Also taking it consistently, the idea of succubus redemption is entirely theoretically possible.

divine spark + evil + beauty + vitality + whatever else = succubus
divine spark + good + beauty + vitality + whatever else = whatever celestial embodies these things.


And I think undead can be redeemed, but just as being redeemed requires an alignment change (why not a redeemed guy whos still evil huh? makes as much sense as idea of a still undead thing which is redeemed), they need to be brought to life again (first).

This isn't true in D&D atleast. The aforementioned Succubus Paladin remained a Succubus and never stopped being a Succubus no matter how Lawful Good she behaved.

Similarly, there's perfectly good Undead, and Eberron has examples of particularly dickish Deathless.

Robs
2014-02-26, 02:52 AM
This isn't true in D&D atleast. The aforementioned Succubus Paladin remained a Succubus and never stopped being a Succubus no matter how Lawful Good she behaved.

Similarly, there's perfectly good Undead, and Eberron has examples of particularly dickish Deathless.

Of course not, but for what dnd is based on, this is true, and a lack of consistency makes for a poor simulation. (the embodiment of things idea).

When consistency breaks down like that, anything is possible, and nothing is impossible, and so threads like this are essentially pointless.

And my previous example of the man who is evil yet has been redeemed is possible from a fluff sense.

squiggit
2014-02-26, 03:06 AM
Of course not, but for what dnd is based on, this is true, and a lack of consistency makes for a poor simulation. (the embodiment of things idea).

I don't see how it's a lack of consistency at all though. The paradigm you're insisting is broken was never an absolute truth in the first place.

Plus if anything I'd argue the idea that everyone from a given subset believing and acting in the exact same fashion is far more likely to raise eyebrows than the idea of a fully sapient being having the ability to make choices.

AuraTwilight
2014-02-26, 03:48 AM
Of course not, but for what dnd is based on, this is true, and a lack of consistency makes for a poor simulation. (the embodiment of things idea).

When consistency breaks down like that, anything is possible, and nothing is impossible, and so threads like this are essentially pointless.

And my previous example of the man who is evil yet has been redeemed is possible from a fluff sense.

Except Outsiders have Free Will like every other sapient being in the setting. There's no inconsistency or poor-simulating at all.

Even humans can resist their fundamental natures in storyteller. Hell, defining one's fundamentals through contrast is how Heroes are born.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-26, 04:06 AM
I don't really see what you're arguing here. Every single other Evil action is a choice too, but that doesn't stop them from being redeemable. Now, again, I am on the side of the debate that liches give up the part of themselves that is able to choose Good upon becoming a lich, but my argument is no more or less valid than somebody saying "that would mean creatures of pure Evil never have those parts in the first place, and we've seen a Succubus Paladin so..."

But yeah. Flesh this out a bit more for me, if you wouldn't mind. How does the fact that lichdom is a choice make it any less redeemable than other Evil choices one can make?

because morality isn't just external, its internal. to defile yourself is just as bad as defiling someone else in such a manner. and if your not convinced by that, then consider this: DnD is about magic and therefore takes inspiration from old myths right? well, old world logic had the idea that our world wasn't physical matter, rather it was a bunch of ideas made form.

and you can't have ideas without a mind y'know? so the world was obviously one big mind, or a big god controlling everything. well in DnD, the universe itself clearly has morality. if it has morality, then it has to have a mind to think up of morality- because morality can only come from a mind, nothing else. and for something to have a mind, it must be alive on some level.

therefore when your like, creating undead, making yourself a lich, or turning something into a vampire, your not debasing and defiling that thing, your hurting the universe. its alive and you driven a wound into it. your now a walking universe wound, going around spilling necromantic energies where they shouldn't be spilled around. your taking energies from an organ of the universe- the realms of the dead- and putting them into another organ, the prime material plane, where it isn't supposed to be and will only cause life to get screwed up.

and no you can't play the ignorance card. if your a wizard powerful enough to figure all this out, you know full well what you are doing, how to do it and what will happen because of it. you don't have an excuse for what you do. what, you think these energies can all co-exist happily, when they are quite specifically, divided into planes with different rules? nnnnope. your basically using the energy of the living universe in the most screwed up, selfish way possible, breaking rules that shouldn't be broken and all for the sake of living forever.

demons- if you haven't chosen to be one, start out as demons. none of us have any choice in what we start out as. and I think a good rule of morality that has been established by now is that you cannot morally fault people for something they had no choice in. however I'd expect any demon to seek redemption to be the greatest of exceptions, to the point where I'd speak with the player to make sure he plays it well before greenlighting it if I was DM, and I would make it very clear that 99.9999% of the rest aren't looking for redemption as well.

MonochromeTiger
2014-02-26, 04:08 AM
Of course not, but for what dnd is based on, this is true, and a lack of consistency makes for a poor simulation. (the embodiment of things idea).

When consistency breaks down like that, anything is possible, and nothing is impossible, and so threads like this are essentially pointless.

And my previous example of the man who is evil yet has been redeemed is possible from a fluff sense.

the issue with that is that D&D isn't sticking entirely to material it draws from, it isn't pulling absolutely everything word for word or example for example, it is not the material that inspired it.

a demon that changes to good alignment doesn't change to a celestial creature, a succubus remains a succubus, balors remain balors, they are drawn very heavily towards an evil alignment but short of deciding free will doesn't exist no sentient creature is unable to be good or evil or neutral.


This isn't true in D&D atleast. The aforementioned Succubus Paladin remained a Succubus and never stopped being a Succubus no matter how Lawful Good she behaved.

Similarly, there's perfectly good Undead, and Eberron has examples of particularly dickish Deathless.

as auratwilight points out, there are canon examples of these. choosing to ignore the canon because it doesn't match the other material you're using to judge this doesn't make it go away. if you want to use the other material as a setting and house-rule things to be just like they are in the books and stories you're drawing from you can, but again that's differing from the canon of D&D and isn't likely to hold up outside of groups that actively agree to those house rules and setting.

Tengu_temp
2014-02-26, 09:15 AM
because morality isn't just external, its internal. to defile yourself is just as bad as defiling someone else in such a manner.

No. There is nothing evil with doing unspeakably evil things to someone who is willing; and when you're doing something to yourself, you're willing in all but the strangest of circumstances.

Brookshw
2014-02-26, 09:34 AM
No. There is nothing evil with doing unspeakably evil things to someone who is willing; and when you're doing something to yourself, you're willing in all but the strangest of circumstances.

Poppycock. People absolutely at times do things they know they'll regret later. Willing, yes, but the internal ramifications can be immense and highly negative depending. Neutral or evil could be debated perhaps but I don't see how we can reject the internal consequences of actions even if done unto oneself.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-26, 09:50 AM
No. There is nothing evil with doing unspeakably evil things to someone who is willing; and when you're doing something to yourself, you're willing in all but the strangest of circumstances.

Xykon was completely willing. Still evil.

not all morality is utilitarian. your speaking as if any action that doesn't harm someone directly is not evil.

to which I ask the question, if I hand a knife to a murderer who I know full well is going to kill someone innocent with it, have I done something evil? I haven't harmed anyone, I just handed a knife to someone. you can't possibly blame me if that guy uses the knife to kill somebody. no sir!

also another question: so using a knife to slit your own wrists or commit suicide is A-OKAY then? and NOT indicative of very poor psychological health?

BrokenChord
2014-02-26, 10:35 AM
I still don't see what you're getting at. The point isn't that it's not Evil; nobody except Tengu is arguing that. But even though you *would* be responsible for handing a knife to a murderer, there's still nothing about doing so that would make you irredeemable. All things can be redeemed, though it might be nearly impossible.

... Now, I still don't believe that liches have the mental capacity to make that choice, but if they did, it shouldn't be impossible. Otherwise nobody would ever be redeemed of any Evil acts and half the alignment stuff written is an elaborate lie (not such an unbelievable proposition, but still).

Tengu_temp
2014-02-26, 10:44 AM
Poppycock. People absolutely at times do things they know they'll regret later. Willing, yes, but the internal ramifications can be immense and highly negative depending. Neutral or evil could be debated perhaps but I don't see how we can reject the internal consequences of actions even if done unto oneself.

I'm not denying that it's massively irresponsible. However, irresponsibility isn't evil in itself. If an action only results in harm to yourself and nobody else, then it's not evil.


Xykon was completely willing. Still evil.

Xykon didn't suddenly become evil after he turned into a lich. It was just the icing on his already evil cake.


not all morality is utilitarian. your speaking as if any action that doesn't harm someone directly is not evil.

to which I ask the question, if I hand a knife to a murderer who I know full well is going to kill someone innocent with it, have I done something evil? I haven't harmed anyone, I just handed a knife to someone. you can't possibly blame me if that guy uses the knife to kill somebody. no sir!

Strawman. Also that's not what "utilitarian" means.


also another question: so using a knife to slit your own wrists or commit suicide is A-OKAY then? and NOT indicative of very poor psychological health?

Suicide is not evil unless you do it deliberately to cause harm to others. But that's almost never the case.


The point isn't that it's not Evil; nobody except Tengu is arguing that.

Would you kindly not put words in my mouth?

hamishspence
2014-02-26, 10:46 AM
Necropolitans (Libris Mortis) are basically toned-down liches.

They have "Any nongood" instead of "any evil" as a requirement.

A case could be made that willingly turning yourself into an undead, is "lacking in respect for life" - but not enough to guarantee an evil alignment in itself.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-26, 10:50 AM
Strawman. Also that's not what "utilitarian" means.


Suicide is not evil unless you do it deliberately to cause harm to others. But that's almost never the case.


yea but the concept that only direct harm is morally bad comes from utilitarianism. and no it isn't. its a serious question of whether direct harm is the only morally bad form of harm.

yes but even if one doesn't mean to, it still causes pain to everyone around them, no matter the intention. an act can be evil even if the intention was not to cause pain.

hamishspence
2014-02-26, 10:56 AM
While "self-sacrifice" is usually a Good act - it needs to be done in such a way as to not conflict with "respect for life"

Save My Game: Lawful & Chaotic (https://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sg/20050325a)

Should a paladin sacrifice herself to save others? In the broadest sense, yes, since doing so is the ultimate act of good. However, she must also have enough respect for her own life and ability to make sure that her sacrifice brings about a significant benefit for others. A paladin who holds the only key to saving the world should not sacrifice herself needlessly against an orc horde.

A case could be made that in D&D, destroying oneself is like destroying others - it requires justification, in order to be nonevil.

Tengu_temp
2014-02-26, 10:58 AM
Not all consequences that come from an act are the responsibility of the one who performed it - just the stuff you could reasonably predict in advance. If I give a knife to a known serial killer, i's my fault if he stabs someone with it; but if I park my car on a parking lot, it's not my fault when a psycho steals it and runs someone over.

An act that causes grief to people is not necessarily an evil one - if I leave my hometown forever to follow my destiny and be a hero, everyone I know will be sad, but does that mean what I did was evil?
Also, acts that result in emotional pain to others and no other form of harm are at most mildly evil in most circumstances. Making someone sad is really not as bad as burning down their house.
Also, suicide is usually done out of despair, and a tragedy. Condemning people who commit it as evil is, to put it mildly, insensitive.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-26, 11:02 AM
An act that causes grief to people is not necessarily an evil one - if I leave my hometown forever to follow my destiny and be a hero, everyone I know will be sad, but does that mean what I did was evil?
Also, acts that result in emotional pain to others and no other form of harm are at most mildly evil in most circumstances.
Also, suicide is usually done out of despair, and a tragedy. Condemning people who commit it as evil is, to put it mildly, insensitive.

yea but thats not self-destructive.

and where does it say that the morality of the act is changed just because your feeling a different emotion?

Edit: also, you know what else is a tragedy? every villain ever made.

Brookshw
2014-02-26, 11:06 AM
I'm not denying that it's massively irresponsible. However, irresponsibility isn't evil in itself. If an action only results in harm to yourself and nobody else, then it's not evil.


I would disagree there. While it may not be necessarily evil the potential for it to be evil exiats. To keep this in game terms the earlier parts of the BoVD outline several things defined as evil even though they are selfinflicted and harm no one else. Not all acts fall into the Evil category but self inflicted doesn't preclude the possibility of them doing so.

Raziel: as to the Utilitarian argument I feel you might have mixed up Mills & Kant.

Segev
2014-02-26, 11:29 AM
At least in D&D - which is, to my knowledge, the source of the actual "lich" monster, as opposed to numerous other kinds of similar creatures throughout various myths - the act of becoming a lich requires, canonically, performance of "unspeakably evil" deeds.

There have been writings which have attempted to codify these deeds; they usually start with sacrificing innocent children and infants and get more depraved from there. But the simplest interpretation is the one friendliest to most games: if you're the DM, determine for yourself what constitutes active and unspeakable evil, and make sure that the lich-creation rituals involve one or more things that fall squarely in that zone.

To try to say "well, if it's just a cosmic, metaphysical 'objective' evil, I don't think it really counts as 'evil'" is a cop-out that ignores the basic premise: whatever it is that one must do to become a lich, it is #define UNSPEAKABLE_EVIL.

So, accepting this definition, there is no way by whatever moral code your DM holds for a lich to become a lich without being very much Evil. Whatever his motives, his methods have been so dark and depraved that he has flung himself up to, if not across, the moral event horizon, and he is firmly Evil in alignment as of performing the ritual.

We have to start there.

Now, the question posed by the topic is whether he can redeem from this evil (as well as any others he may have committed before or since). A secondary question has arisen over whether he can redeem himself without ceasing to be a lich/committing suicide.

There are two possibilities, here:

One is that it is simply the act of becoming a lich that involves this horrific, terrible sin to be named only by the darkest recesses of the DM's heart. The speaking of the corruption that follows him and the moral degradation of his very existence is akin to the Mark of Cain: it is a consequence of his actions and a curse (if one views it as a curse) that follows him forever, but is not in and of itself ongoing acts of "evil" by the definitions the DM lays out.

In this case, a lich who redeems himself is capable of striving to "make up" for his past transgressions in every way that is within his power. Helping old ladies across the street, saving orphans, taking on great evils and striving heroically for the good of one and all are within his power, and he may eventually achieve a "good" alignment once more through his deeds and his genuine desire to atone for his sins.

The other possibility is that something about the ongoing existence of a lich requires continued acts of evil. Whether it's the vampire that must actually drain a human dry, the L5R Khadi (a lich-like sorcerer who looks alive but has his heart in a box) who must kill a new person every month to keep his heart fresh, or the DM's determination that the very act of existing in that state is metaphysical evil that causes continual harm, the lich's continued unlife is maintained by repeated or continuous acts of horrific sin.

In this case, the lich who wishes to redeem himself either must allow himself to "die" or must commit suicide rather than continuing his depravity, because his continued unlife requires continued acts of murder or worse. His redemption would have to be swift, or in the form of an almost serendipitous change of state from lichdom to some other form, because his choice to continue existing (or to continue taking the actions to maintain his existence) repeatedly drive home his Evil alignment, no matter how much good he does in between.

(As an example of how this latter sort may work with the seemingly-harmless demi-lich in the ELH, if lichdom requires ongoing evil to maintain, a powerful demilich such as herself might be empowered by the silent plague of soul-crushing hunger which is, unbeknownst to any, is actually the cause of most stillbirths and cradle deaths in an expanding area around her lair. She preserves her existence on the souls and their potential lifespans of infants without ever having to leave her lair. The villages around are slowly dying as they can't maintain replacement level birth rates, and this blight is expanding.

This is not canon; it is an example of how such a seemingly-harmless lich might work and still be utterly evil. She knows what sustains her and allows it to continue. As she isn't even trying to redeem, she doesn't even care.)

Tengu_temp
2014-02-26, 12:20 PM
and where does it say that the morality of the act is changed just because your feeling a different emotion?


Intention is important. Killing yourself out of despair is not evil, killing yourself purely to spite people who will miss you is. Saving a village from raiders and getting money for it is good, but saving a village from raiders only because you get money for it is neutral.


I would disagree there. While it may not be necessarily evil the potential for it to be evil exiats. To keep this in game terms the earlier parts of the BoVD outline several things defined as evil even though they are selfinflicted and harm no one else. Not all acts fall into the Evil category but self inflicted doesn't preclude the possibility of them doing so.


Can you give examples? Because I suspect this falls under what I said a few pages ago: that sometimes DND calls certain acts good or evil when they really aren't.

Brookshw
2014-02-26, 01:38 PM
Can you give examples? Because I suspect this falls under what I said a few pages ago: that sometimes DND calls certain acts good or evil when they really aren't.

Yes, but I would prefer to keep this thread free of real world specifics. I'll send you a pm.

GungHo
2014-02-26, 01:57 PM
Am I the only one who finds the word "necropolitan" a bit cringeworthy?

No, but I'm a fan of holiday themed ice cream.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-26, 05:05 PM
Intention is important. Killing yourself out of despair is not evil, killing yourself purely to spite people who will miss you is. Saving a village from raiders and getting money for it is good, but saving a village from raiders only because you get money for it is neutral.


intent is not the same as emotion. you can have the same intent no matter what emotion you are feeling.

AuraTwilight
2014-02-26, 05:53 PM
and you can't have ideas without a mind y'know? so the world was obviously one big mind, or a big god controlling everything. well in DnD, the universe itself clearly has morality. if it has morality, then it has to have a mind to think up of morality- because morality can only come from a mind, nothing else. and for something to have a mind, it must be alive on some level.

This isn't a premise a lot of fantasy RPGs buy into. Some cosmologies just have morality exist outside of minds because reasons.



therefore when your like, creating undead, making yourself a lich, or turning something into a vampire, your not debasing and defiling that thing, your hurting the universe. its alive and you driven a wound into it. your now a walking universe wound, going around spilling necromantic energies where they shouldn't be spilled around. your taking energies from an organ of the universe- the realms of the dead- and putting them into another organ, the prime material plane, where it isn't supposed to be and will only cause life to get screwed up.

Necromancy isn't inherently evil in D&D, atleast; there's Necromancy spells that don't have Evil tags and Good characters can use them without penalty. This argument doesn't work.



demons- if you haven't chosen to be one, start out as demons. none of us have any choice in what we start out as. and I think a good rule of morality that has been established by now is that you cannot morally fault people for something they had no choice in. however I'd expect any demon to seek redemption to be the greatest of exceptions, to the point where I'd speak with the player to make sure he plays it well before greenlighting it if I was DM, and I would make it very clear that 99.9999% of the rest aren't looking for redemption as well.

And if all demons were once petitioners of evil afterlives?



Poppycock. People absolutely at times do things they know they'll regret later. Willing, yes, but the internal ramifications can be immense and highly negative depending. Neutral or evil could be debated perhaps but I don't see how we can reject the internal consequences of actions even if done unto oneself.

By this argument, eating too much pizza is morally abominable because I'll get a stomachache later.



yea but thats not self-destructive.

and where does it say that the morality of the act is changed just because your feeling a different emotion?


Pretty much every form of morality that actually cares about the human condition. You know, the whole series of moral dilemmas like euthanasia or assisted suicide, or stealing bread to feed starving orphans, or whatever.

Things are wrong because they hurt people, and so goodness is to minimize human suffering. A moral system that doesn't account for the emotional and mental states of moral agents is ethical garbage.


Edit: also, you know what else is a tragedy? every villain ever made.

In what sense? I mean, at the very least fiction has villains that are just generic embodiments of evil and have no motivations for their actions beyond being elemental dickishness personified.

The Ebon Dragon is not a tragic figure. He's a pathetic crapstain on the world and deserves everything bad that happens to him and moreso. A perfect pacifist messianic archetype personification of Agape would kick him in the balls on principle.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-26, 06:03 PM
In what sense? I mean, at the very least fiction has villains that are just generic embodiments of evil and have no motivations for their actions beyond being elemental dickishness personified.

The Ebon Dragon is not a tragic figure. He's a pathetic crapstain on the world and deserves everything bad that happens to him and moreso. A perfect pacifist messianic archetype personification of Agape would kick him in the balls on principle.

In the Lex Luthor, Joker, Redcloak, The Master, and basically ever villain that has ever given a chance to turn back or redeem themselves and refused sense?

every villain is given a chance to back out. to go a different path. their refusal is the tragedy of which I speak of, for many of them are competent at what they do, and if only they turned their competence towards something useful and good....but they are still evil. how many times you gonna offer them a second chance before you kill them?

The Ebon Dragon is an exception to that, and is kind of on the level with the liches here. irredeemable, like most villains, they might be tragic, but that doesn't mean they are redeemable.

AMFV
2014-02-26, 06:24 PM
In the Lex Luthor, Joker, Redcloak, The Master, and basically ever villain that has ever given a chance to turn back or redeem themselves and refused sense?

every villain is given a chance to back out. to go a different path. their refusal is the tragedy of which I speak of, for many of them are competent at what they do, and if only they turned their competence towards something useful and good....but they are still evil. how many times you gonna offer them a second chance before you kill them?

The Ebon Dragon is an exception to that, and is kind of on the level with the liches here. irredeemable, like most villains, they might be tragic, but that doesn't mean they are redeemable.


Why is that? Is it the scale? Is it because you've decided that they are so evil as to be beyond redemption? There is no reason to assume that they are irredeemable, what is your criteria for redemption? A succubus is clearly not, a sith is clearly not (even when they've committed atrocities) and that was a choice, those are two instances where in popular culture and RPGs redemption has occurred, so why is a lich different?

Is it because their inherent nature changes? That they're no longer human? Then being "more machine than man" would be disqualifying, certainly being a succubus would be.

Is it because they voluntarily sacrificed their nature by committing unspeakable acts? Like murdering children, attempting to murder their pregnant spouse, and destroying entire worlds.

Is it because they're undead? Then no vampire would ever be able to gain a soul and gain redemption (also an example)

So what is it that in your mind makes them beyond redemption? If you cannot provide a criteria for what defines when something's beyond redemption, then how are we supposed to argue for the ability to redeem a creature?

AuraTwilight
2014-02-26, 10:47 PM
In the Lex Luthor, Joker, Redcloak, The Master, and basically ever villain that has ever given a chance to turn back or redeem themselves and refused sense?

every villain is given a chance to back out. to go a different path. their refusal is the tragedy of which I speak of, for many of them are competent at what they do, and if only they turned their competence towards something useful and good....but they are still evil. how many times you gonna offer them a second chance before you kill them?

The Ebon Dragon is an exception to that, and is kind of on the level with the liches here. irredeemable, like most villains, they might be tragic, but that doesn't mean they are redeemable.

Okay, yea, except that's not EVERY villain.

I mean, the Ebon Dragon is an exception so that already breaks your rule. Redemption isn't possible for him, he never really had an actual chance to be redeemed because he's defined by his corruption on the most fundamental level, and he's so undeserving of pity or sympathy that he's not even tragic. He's just an *******.

Also, the Ebon Dragon can't be compared to liches because the Ebon Dragon didn't make the choice to be the Ebon Dragon. The alternative is being nothing at all.

atemu1234
2014-02-26, 10:52 PM
It can't on its own, but they might be redeemable with a certain spell from the book of Exalted Deeds. I don't remember the name

BrokenChord
2014-02-26, 11:01 PM
Would you kindly not put words in my mouth?

Um... My bad, I guess. Didn't even realize I was doing so. Where you not arguing the possibility of soul-mutilation, and thus an interpretation that implies the process wouldn't necessarily be Evil? If I misunderstood, please correct me, and I deeply apologize for any offense I may have caused you.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-26, 11:07 PM
aren't we talking about second edition Ebon Dragon? the one that the fanbase doesn't consider to be canon, because they like 1e Ebon Dragon better, because he isn't Snidely Whiplash Incarnate? because really, I'm pretty sure even the developers expressed distaste about the current characterization of the Yozis- last I checked, they said something along the lines of the Yozis not being bound by their excellencies as much.

so yeah, I'm not going to waste time arguing about a character that is on its way out, canon-wise, and since when did Exalted aka "Anti-DnD everything as much as possible while still being fantasy" the RPG get into this discussion? I'm not going to argue over two mutually incompatible settings and how they work for this. I'm done. Think whatever you want.

AuraTwilight
2014-02-27, 01:01 AM
aren't we talking about second edition Ebon Dragon? the one that the fanbase doesn't consider to be canon, because they like 1e Ebon Dragon better, because he isn't Snidely Whiplash Incarnate? because really, I'm pretty sure even the developers expressed distaste about the current characterization of the Yozis- last I checked, they said something along the lines of the Yozis not being bound by their excellencies as much.


Implying the Exalted fandom is unified on the issue~~

But be that as it may, even the 1E Ebon Dragon was still an incarnation of Yin to the absolute degree; that didn't necessarily mean eviljerk mcHitlerSatan, but it sure did make 'redemption' from what he represented fundamentally and metaphysically impossible.



so yeah, I'm not going to waste time arguing about a character that is on its way out, canon-wise, and since when did Exalted aka "Anti-DnD everything as much as possible while still being fantasy" the RPG get into this discussion? I'm not going to argue over two mutually incompatible settings and how they work for this. I'm done. Think whatever you want.

I only brought it up because you tried to make a blanket statement about all villains, ever. Whether you like it or not, that incarnation of the Ebon Dragon was canon at a point in time, and changing the canon doesn't make previous canon never-have-been-written.

AMFV
2014-02-27, 02:57 AM
aren't we talking about second edition Ebon Dragon? the one that the fanbase doesn't consider to be canon, because they like 1e Ebon Dragon better, because he isn't Snidely Whiplash Incarnate? because really, I'm pretty sure even the developers expressed distaste about the current characterization of the Yozis- last I checked, they said something along the lines of the Yozis not being bound by their excellencies as much.

so yeah, I'm not going to waste time arguing about a character that is on its way out, canon-wise, and since when did Exalted aka "Anti-DnD everything as much as possible while still being fantasy" the RPG get into this discussion? I'm not going to argue over two mutually incompatible settings and how they work for this. I'm done. Think whatever you want.

You still haven't defined at what point something becomes in your eyes irredeemable. I apologize for asking again, but I don't see that we can have a productive discussion without being aware of the point where you believe that occurs. Of course it's largely a judgement call, but without knowing your criteria for this matter... we can't effectively try to demonstrate that Liches are or are not redeemable.

I'm not familiar with Exalted, but I would argue that even then, there is no such thing as an irredeemable character, in the end, and if White Wolf suggests that there is, I would argue that it's poor writing and not very good vis a vis their own typically level headed stance on morality. But again, I'm not familiar with why the character would be irredeemable.

But again, it isn't really possible for us to present constructive points without having a better idea of where redemption is no longer possible in your eyes. We'll say in D&D or in Roleplaying games in general (and if the rules are different for those then that helps too) because otherwise formulating arguments against or for this becomes something that is impossible for us to do.

NichG
2014-02-27, 03:19 AM
Cosmic-scale stuff tends to need different rules anyhow. 'The being whose existence defines the nature of evil' may be irredeemable because if it became good, that would be the new evil; or because it doesn't truly have free will but rather is just a reflection of something else; or because its made out of Evilium and even if its a nice guy its going to ping as evil; or because the deity who got to define 'good' on a cosmic level decided to be a jerk and say 'he can't be a member of my club ever'. Or other things that don't really have to do with human morality.

Rather than asking about redemption in terms of alignment then, I really do think the more relevant question at the scale of the characters is 'so you meet a lich who is doing good works, seems to be an all-around nice guy, and heck, he's personally risked his existence to save the world on multiple occasions - how are you to react to this?'

As long as we're talking about things with Capital Letters, then the 'cosmically, its defined _this_ way' argument can basically remove any meaningful discussion. The far harder argument to make along those lines is to justify a human-level (rather than cosmic-level) decision that 'all liches are without exception to be destroyed if possible, no matter how they're behaving'.

Behavior is concrete and directly relevant to those involved, and there aren't really rules saying 'a lich must behave in such and such a way'. Whether or not the cosmic labels change is actually a separate question from whether, in the eyes of the lich themselves or the people around the lich, such a being can be redeemed.

Tl;dr - 'redemption' does not by necessity require having a 'Good' alignment, and so the issue of 'cosmic alignment' is separate.

AMFV
2014-02-27, 03:49 AM
Cosmic-scale stuff tends to need different rules anyhow. 'The being whose existence defines the nature of evil' may be irredeemable because if it became good, that would be the new evil; or because it doesn't truly have free will but rather is just a reflection of something else; or because its made out of Evilium and even if its a nice guy its going to ping as evil; or because the deity who got to define 'good' on a cosmic level decided to be a jerk and say 'he can't be a member of my club ever'. Or other things that don't really have to do with human morality.

Rather than asking about redemption in terms of alignment then, I really do think the more relevant question at the scale of the characters is 'so you meet a lich who is doing good works, seems to be an all-around nice guy, and heck, he's personally risked his existence to save the world on multiple occasions - how are you to react to this?'

As long as we're talking about things with Capital Letters, then the 'cosmically, its defined _this_ way' argument can basically remove any meaningful discussion. The far harder argument to make along those lines is to justify a human-level (rather than cosmic-level) decision that 'all liches are without exception to be destroyed if possible, no matter how they're behaving'.

Behavior is concrete and directly relevant to those involved, and there aren't really rules saying 'a lich must behave in such and such a way'. Whether or not the cosmic labels change is actually a separate question from whether, in the eyes of the lich themselves or the people around the lich, such a being can be redeemed.

Tl;dr - 'redemption' does not by necessity require having a 'Good' alignment, and so the issue of 'cosmic alignment' is separate.

But that presents an interesting problem, if the character can behave in a good manner, then his alignment should shift to reflect that. Since alignment is generally descriptive and not the prescriptive one. So redemption does necessitate a "good" alignment, not because the redemption results from the "good" alignment, but because the alignment results from the redemption.

If otherwise, then the alignment system is neither prescriptive, since the character can perform actions that are not in line with his alignment, or descriptive, since the character is clearly not performing actions. It's meaningless, since it isn't meaningless (game-wise or characterization-wise) we must assume that it shifts when the character in question is redeemed.

NichG
2014-02-27, 04:06 AM
But that presents an interesting problem, if the character can behave in a good manner, then his alignment should shift to reflect that. Since alignment is generally descriptive and not the prescriptive one. So redemption does necessitate a "good" alignment, not because the redemption results from the "good" alignment, but because the alignment results from the redemption.

If otherwise, then the alignment system is neither prescriptive, since the character can perform actions that are not in line with his alignment, or descriptive, since the character is clearly not performing actions. It's meaningless, since it isn't meaningless (game-wise or characterization-wise) we must assume that it shifts when the character in question is redeemed.

The third admissible possibility, and arguably the most likely case, is that the alignment system is descriptive of something that is not always consistent with human-scale moral philosophy. Its not meaningless, since in 90% of cases it lines up in a consistent way, but its also not a completely foolproof guide to moral decision-making because of that 10%.

AMFV
2014-02-27, 04:29 AM
The third admissible possibility, and arguably the most likely case, is that the alignment system is descriptive of something that is not always consistent with human-scale moral philosophy. Its not meaningless, since in 90% of cases it lines up in a consistent way, but its also not a completely foolproof guide to moral decision-making because of that 10%.

However it's the consistency that would make it meaningless, since alignment either results from actions, intent, or behavior, a Lich has no connection with any of the lower planes, ergo it has no metaphysical link to evil. And even if and that's a big if there was, it would still make alignment meaningless.

It doesn't matter if it's a human philosophy or not, certain acts (and thoughts) are good, if the character has them they are moving towards Good, there is no way to be always doing good things and thinking Good and not be so in alignment that I am aware of.

AuraTwilight
2014-02-27, 05:42 AM
I'm not familiar with Exalted, but I would argue that even then, there is no such thing as an irredeemable character, in the end, and if White Wolf suggests that there is, I would argue that it's poor writing and not very good vis a vis their own typically level headed stance on morality. But again, I'm not familiar with why the character would be irredeemable.

I'll field this. Basically the Ebon Dragon isn't a 'person' but the sentient personification of, atleast in 2nd edition Exalted, assholish dickery and lack of moral virtue. He can never be anything else without essentially mindraping him.

He's not even really a being, as metaphysically he doesn't 'exist' despite being able to act and do things. His entire existence is a lie.

Notably, liches are not this. No matter how depraved or twisted they become, they are always people with souls. :P

Brookshw
2014-02-27, 06:43 AM
because people have quoted it a number of times I felt like pointing this out (though we've touched on it indirectly).


The process of becoming a lich is unspeakably evil and can be undertaken only by a willing character

The use of a transitive verb does nothing to indicate what happens after one becomes a lich. It's not "being" a lich, it's "becoming". The passage really has nothing to do with the discussion at hand as we're assuming that the lich already exists. We're almost running into Zeno's paradox in prescribing the passage and "unspeakable evil" to the state of being a lich, in that it's only applicable to the "becoming" and if the lich is trapped in the "unspeakable evil" category it's likewise trapped in the "becoming" category and never actually
"becomes" or "is" a lich. Semantics and all that :smallbiggrin:

GolemsVoice
2014-02-27, 07:25 AM
That's true, but anything that became what it is via an unspeakably evil act is pretty evil after the ritual, too.

AMFV
2014-02-27, 07:28 AM
That's true, but anything that became what it is via an unspeakably evil act is pretty evil after the ritual, too.

Immediately following certainly, but things can fight against their nature. Of course the lich is evil when it commits the act, but later if it redeems itself, if it makes amends...

hamishspence
2014-02-27, 07:30 AM
The DMG points out that it is possible, if rare, for an Evil person to have a massive change of heart and become Neutral or even Good, all at once.

However, a case could be made that, to have such a change of heart - one must sincerely repent one's evil deeds and resolve to atone for them.

In the case of the lich, this would include whatever deed was done in order to become a lich in the first place.

Brookshw
2014-02-27, 08:26 AM
That's true, but anything that became what it is via an unspeakably evil act is pretty evil after the ritual, too.

AMFV already nailed it (speaking of which, acronym for American Marine Force Veteran?). My objective was to decouple the notion that an intertransitional (intra?) Conditional state is different from a post transitional state. People have held it up as evidence so I wanted to point out the flaw in the argument.

AMFV
2014-02-27, 09:12 AM
That's true, but anything that became what it is via an unspeakably evil act is pretty evil after the ritual, too.

I know I already responded to this point, but I've thought of another fairly unpleasant issue with this line of thinking... What about a creature that is born or created through an unspeakable or evil act. Many Half-Orcs are children of rape, half-fiends are descended from the purest form of evil, I would be loathe to state that something that happened at a singular point in a creature's life dictates it's existence forever, or else we'd wind up with evil babies and evil children, and that's something that I think is not entirely logical or reasonable.

Edit: Also the acronym is derived from an old Infocom text adventure.

Feddlefew
2014-02-27, 09:31 AM
I know I already responded to this point, but I've thought of another fairly unpleasant issue with this line of thinking... What about a creature that is born or created through an unspeakable or evil act. Many Half-Orcs are children of rape, half-fiends are descended from the purest form of evil, I would be loathe to state that something that happened at a singular point in a creature's life dictates it's existence forever, or else we'd wind up with evil babies and evil children, and that's something that I think is not entirely logical or reasonable.

Children are perfectly capable of being evil, but in those cases their evil because of what they do and why, not because of who they are or where they came from.

Clarifying edit: By "evil" I mean children are capable of nigh-unimaginable cruelty, partially because they don't understand the ramification of their actions, and partly because sometimes no one is willing to stop them.

Segev
2014-02-27, 09:37 AM
I'm not familiar with Exalted, but I would argue that even then, there is no such thing as an irredeemable character, in the end, and if White Wolf suggests that there is, I would argue that it's poor writing and not very good vis a vis their own typically level headed stance on morality. But again, I'm not familiar with why the character would be irredeemable.

The yozis are...

They're entities that have their top-level "conscious minds" defined by (and in some ways define) specific concepts and archetypes. It is not uncommon for Exalted fans to think of yozis as "idiot savants" because of their megalomonofocus on specific outlooks and specialties. The truth is more complex than that, because yozis are such complex entities that they have multiple (usually double-digit) souls that have spiritual existence and independent sentience, but nonetheless are to the yozis what our souls are to us. Moreover, their own souls are so complex that they have multiple (usually 5-7) souls of their own! These souls are, likewise, conscious, and are metaphysically similar to D&D's Outsiders in that they're spirit beings whose bodies are manifestations of their would existence.

The yozis souls and sub-souls are fully conscious beings with specialties and personalities that, as with any being, have a focus on specific personal motivations and drives. These usually represent some aspect of the greater Yozi's monofocus fractured through a lens and looked at from an odd angle (for instance, the Ebon Dragon has a soul devoted to darkness; I can't recall any other canon ones, but there theoretically could be one who is dedicated to gossip (who might have their own sub-soul who was a personification of the Journalist), another might be all about begging and a sort of metaphysical beggar.)

Through these existences, a yozi is actually much more capable and able to handle any task at genius levels on what is, for the yozi, equivalent to a sub-conscious level.

However, their most brilliant, conscious expressions of ability are in their area of monofocus, and their conscious, identifies-as-the-yozi-itself minds and bodies tend to seem blind to things outside of it (but Heaven help you if you think that means you won't have one of its souls or sub-souls coming after you if you try to exploit this supposed blind-spot).

The Ebon Dragon is the embodiment of lack-of-virtue, is the inventor of free will specifically because it enables the concept of betrayal, and exists to undermine, subvert, and corrupt. He eludes all bindings, especially those of responsibility, and he is only able to consciously perceive things through the lens of how their own qualities can lead to their self-destruction.

In a pantheon of beings who are made of pantheons of practical-gods, he is the ultimate Starscream (of Transformers fame). He is, perhaps, defined by the negative space of all that is wholesome and affirming; that is, he is everything left over when that is taken away. Paradoxically, he is fascinated by and cultivates these things in others in order to define himself in the shape left behind...but he ultimately leads these cultivations into self-destruction if permitted.

To "redeem" the Ebon Dragon would require fundamentally altering a being as vast as a world with more complexity in a corner of his subconscious than the most intelligent lich has in his entire makeup. And it would definably make the Ebon Dragon no longer the Ebon Dragon to do so.


A lich, on the other hand, if his continued existence does not somehow require ongoing acts of evil, can conceivably be redeemed without changing that he is an undead wizard with specific powers and properties.

The only way to make a lich irredeemable would be to make his continued existence require ongoing acts of evil. In this case, it wouldn't matter that he's saved the world a dozen times and engaged in seeming self-sacrifice to protect the innocent and punish the guilty; his every moment brings torment, pain, and death or comes at the cost of having to inflict the same upon others who are undeserving of it.

As written in D&D, this is not the case; a lich had to do something so horrible that he was definitely evil when he became one, but he could have a change of heart and feel guilt for it, maybe even try to make up for it, somehow. It would still be somewhat of a monumental task to repent of that evil, given its defined unspeakable nature, but it's not impossible to have that change of heart.

AMFV
2014-02-27, 10:34 AM
Children are perfectly capable of being evil, but in those cases their evil because of what they do and why, not because of who they are or where they came from.

Clarifying edit: By "evil" I mean children are capable of nigh-unimaginable cruelty, partially because they don't understand the ramification of their actions, and partly because sometimes no one is willing to stop them.

But even if children, are by their circumstances inclined to act in a manner that is evil, or because they are not aware of the ramification of their actions, or because they are unsupervised. These things are all fundamentally nurture rather than nature. Which reinforces the point that evil is not a result of what one is, but what one does or thinks.

Feddlefew
2014-02-27, 10:39 AM
But even if children, are by their circumstances inclined to act in a manner that is evil, or because they are not aware of the ramification of their actions, or because they are unsupervised. These things are all fundamentally nurture rather than nature. Which reinforces the point that evil is not a result of what one is, but what one does or thinks.

Yes. That's what I said.

NichG
2014-02-27, 12:17 PM
However it's the consistency that would make it meaningless, since alignment either results from actions, intent, or behavior, a Lich has no connection with any of the lower planes, ergo it has no metaphysical link to evil. And even if and that's a big if there was, it would still make alignment meaningless.

Meaningless means literally 'without meaning'. That is incorrectly used here.

Something can have meaning that is difficult to interpret a particular way, meaning that is different than one expects, etc, all while still having 'meaning'. Here is an example, not an argument that this is actually consistent with D&D alignment: If the meaning of good alignment is 'does Pelor like this person or not', for example, that is still meaning. It can even still be meaningful with respect to human moral values if, generally, Pelor is a nice fellow and likes people who are helping people and not being selfish and so on, and dislikes people who murder and steal and so on. But Pelor has a particular idiosyncracy - he's a vitalist, and he has an irrational hatred of the undead.

In this case, is alignment meaningless? No, not at all - not only does it have a very specific thing it does mean, but its also consistent and predictable with its own internal rules. Is it at all related to the colloquial meaning of the word 'good' or the moral/ethical values of any particular culture? Probably - there's a wide swath of places where Pelor's views agree with that sort of colloquial 'good'. As long as you realize 'Pelor hates the undead' then you can avoid applying Pelor's judgement to undead and make your own judgement in that case, because you understand the way in which the system is biased and can correct for that bias.

Its neither 100% aligned with these ambiguous 'human moral values', nor is it 100% disaligned with them. And in general, you will never find anything 100% aligned with 'human moral values' because human moral values are not 100% aligned with themselves - different people have different opinions about this or that.



It doesn't matter if it's a human philosophy or not, certain acts (and thoughts) are good, if the character has them they are moving towards Good, there is no way to be always doing good things and thinking Good and not be so in alignment that I am aware of.

Well, you can have the (proposed) case of a 'moral event horizon', such that there are acts of evil such that your alignment will never be non-evil after committing them. Whether or not thats consistent with your personal view of morality and redemption, it's something that you can write a consistent system to describe, so as far as rules-text it's perfectly admissible.

Since we don't seem to be discussing the vagaries of the rules though, but rather the colloquial meanings of 'redemption' and 'good' and 'evil', my point is that its sort of silly to worry about alignment in particular in this case, because you can come up with a set of rules justifications that let you slap the 'evil' alignment on an inanimate rock, but that doesn't mean that rock is deserving of destruction or, well, anything in particular.

If we're going to talk about the colloquial meaning of things, we should let alignment drop entirely.

AMFV
2014-02-27, 01:00 PM
Well, you can have the (proposed) case of a 'moral event horizon', such that there are acts of evil such that your alignment will never be non-evil after committing them. Whether or not thats consistent with your personal view of morality and redemption, it's something that you can write a consistent system to describe, so as far as rules-text it's perfectly admissible.

Since we don't seem to be discussing the vagaries of the rules though, but rather the colloquial meanings of 'redemption' and 'good' and 'evil', my point is that its sort of silly to worry about alignment in particular in this case, because you can come up with a set of rules justifications that let you slap the 'evil' alignment on an inanimate rock, but that doesn't mean that rock is deserving of destruction or, well, anything in particular.

If we're going to talk about the colloquial meaning of things, we should let alignment drop entirely.

Which is why I asked about what the moral event horizon would be? And what the reasons for the establishment of that criteria might be. As far as dropping the alignment might be, that would be valid if we were discussing a universe where morality is disparate from alignment, but we aren't discussing that. If we want to discuss another system of morality we must first establish what that system is, since otherwise it would fall under "real world" and be outside of the purview of these forums.

In the case of the D&D alignment system it is conducive to the discussion of morality, since we have explicit conditions for atonement and that is discussed at several points in the rules. The end state is that the discussion has clear criteria, and there are as far as I'm aware of criteria for the moral event horizon.

NichG
2014-02-27, 01:45 PM
So I posted an example of what kind of 'moral event horizon' you could construct under D&D's rules earlier in the thread. I'll repeat it here:

- To become a Lich, the arcanist must inscribe phrases in Dark Speech upon small scrips of paper and store them in their phylactery. Every month/year/whatever, they must recite these phrases to renew the link to their phylactery.

This isn't canonical, but its a viable example of the 'unspeakable' evil that a Lich must commit.

Mechanically, if you are not Evil and you utter Dark Speech, then doing so kills you. Therefore the Lich cannot remain in existence without also maintaining an Evil alignment. This is a simple rules example of how this could work. It also has no real connection to human morality.

AMFV
2014-02-27, 01:54 PM
So I posted an example of what kind of 'moral event horizon' you could construct under D&D's rules earlier in the thread. I'll repeat it here:

- To become a Lich, the arcanist must inscribe phrases in Dark Speech upon small scrips of paper and store them in their phylactery. Every month/year/whatever, they must recite these phrases to renew the link to their phylactery.

This isn't canonical, but its a viable example of the 'unspeakable' evil that a Lich must commit.

Mechanically, if you are not Evil and you utter Dark Speech, then doing so kills you. Therefore the Lich cannot remain in existence without also maintaining an Evil alignment. This is a simple rules example of how this could work. It also has no real connection to human morality.

This would work out differently for a lich though, since killing them, isn't that terrible for them, provided that it doesn't destroy their phylactery, it would just involve them being severely inconvenienced for a few days. So you could have a good lich that just allows his form to be destroyed every few years and then rejuvenates so as to continue the good work. I would even call the Dark Speech far from 'unspeakable evil'.

Furthermore that's not a moral event horizon, that's a conditional moral failing, like a vampire needing blood, a vampire has a physiological need for essence, without it they starve, so for them redemption is much more difficult with the ability to develop a symbiotic relationship with an individual.

A moral event horizon failing would involve a single event that pushes you past redemption, several people have said that such exists, but defining it has been nebulous at best.

NichG
2014-02-27, 02:08 PM
Alright, I'll start big then:

- Destroying the Upper Planes is a moral event horizon in D&D, as it is no longer possible for you (or anyone) to be Good.

Brookshw
2014-02-27, 02:10 PM
So I posted an example of what kind of 'moral event horizon' you could construct under D&D's rules earlier in the thread. I'll repeat it here:

- To become a Lich, the arcanist must inscribe phrases in Dark Speech upon small scrips of paper and store them in their phylactery. Every month/year/whatever, they must recite these phrases to renew the link to their phylactery.

This isn't canonical, but its a viable example of the 'unspeakable' evil that a Lich must commit.

Mechanically, if you are not Evil and you utter Dark Speech, then doing so kills you. Therefore the Lich cannot remain in existence without also maintaining an Evil alignment. This is a simple rules example of how this could work. It also has no real connection to human morality.

If that was canonical, or the case in non-d&d systems, then I doubt people would be willing to argue against a lich being irredeemable in that the "being" a lich now has an intrinsic aspect of maintaining the "unspeakable evil" or they being, I don't know, a temp lich waiting for their contract to expire at which point they'd be [who knows]. Fine if its the case but otherwise doesn't seem relevant.

Segev
2014-02-27, 02:31 PM
I would even call the Dark Speech far from 'unspeakable evil'.

Isn't Dark Speech pretty well defined to be "speakable evil?"

AMFV
2014-02-27, 03:30 PM
Alright, I'll start big then:

- Destroying the Upper Planes is a moral event horizon in D&D, as it is no longer possible for you (or anyone) to be Good.

I'm not sure conceptually what the result of that would be, in the end, I think it would be difficult to simulate, however I concede that particular point. Although clearly Lichs don't need to do that.


Isn't Dark Speech pretty well defined to be "speakable evil?"


That was the joke... :-P

MonochromeTiger
2014-02-27, 04:03 PM
I'm not sure conceptually what the result of that would be, in the end, I think it would be difficult to simulate, however I concede that particular point. Although clearly Lichs don't need to do that.

well that depends, if you just raze those planes destroying all life and structure on them...you get some messed up planes and some very annoyed deities and get a bunch of "you are a mean person" points on your good/evil card.

if you actively DESTROY them then good aligned characters are out a few afterlives. I don't recall seeing anywhere that this would somehow make being good impossible.. it would definitely make the person or people who did it get a very bad reputation followed by any other plane capable of self preservation banding together with their allies and enemies to kill the person, but again not sure that makes good impossible.





That was the joke... :-P

I wouldn't know, I am incapable of either humor or sarcasm. incidentally I am not a sarcastic person at all and I am quite nice.

Brookshw
2014-02-27, 04:03 PM
Alright, I'll start big then:

- Destroying the Upper Planes is a moral event horizon in D&D, as it is no longer possible for you (or anyone) to be Good.

That's one massive event horizon considering that outer planes by Canon can't be destroyed. I know an overgod can make a crystal sphere but not sure even they could do that (d&d Canon anyway). Begs the question of removing evil by destroying the lower. I have to admit I'm skeptical if this would make any difference or would restore the law/chaos war. Probably a question for another thread Afro.

AMFV
2014-02-27, 04:08 PM
If that was canonical, or the case in non-d&d systems, then I doubt people would be willing to argue against a lich being irredeemable in that the "being" a lich now has an intrinsic aspect of maintaining the "unspeakable evil" or they being, I don't know, a temp lich waiting for their contract to expire at which point they'd be [who knows]. Fine if its the case but otherwise doesn't seem relevant.

Well it's worth bringing up that vampires are often redeemed in fiction, and they require repeat acts that could be considered evil. This would then lead us to the question of if the acts themselves are evil regardless of circumstances.


well that depends, if you just raze those planes destroying all life and structure on them...you get some messed up planes and some very annoyed deities and get a bunch of "you are a mean person" points on your good/evil card.

if you actively DESTROY them then good aligned characters are out a few afterlives. I don't recall seeing anywhere that this would somehow make being good impossible.. it would definitely make the person or people who did it get a very bad reputation followed by any other plane capable of self preservation banding together with their allies and enemies to kill the person, but again not sure that makes good impossible.


That's one massive event horizon considering that outer planes by Canon can't be destroyed. I know an overgod can make a crystal sphere but not sure even they could do that (d&d Canon anyway). Begs the question of removing evil by destroying the lower. I have to admit I'm skeptical if this would make any difference or would restore the law/chaos war. Probably a question for another thread Afro.


Again it's really impossible to say what would happen if the planes are destroyed. It's a fundamental to the world of D&D as gravity is for us. Trying to imagine a universe where gravity is fundamentally different is literally almost an impossible exercise, since we have no basis for how that universe might physically operate (if it could at all).

MonochromeTiger
2014-02-27, 04:11 PM
Again it's really impossible to say what would happen if the planes are destroyed. It's a fundamental to the world of D&D as gravity is for us. Trying to imagine a universe where gravity is fundamentally different is literally almost an impossible exercise, since we have no basis for how that universe might physically operate (if it could at all).

your use of logic disappoints my theory of upside down gravity. I'll need a moment to feel sad about whales not being able to fly.

Segev
2014-02-27, 04:12 PM
Well it's worth bringing up that vampires are often redeemed in fiction, and they require repeat acts that could be considered evil. This would then lead us to the question of if the acts themselves are evil regardless of circumstances.

Generally speaking, if a vampire is redeemed in a story that leaves him in any way a good guy, he is capable of feeding without performing evil deeds. Or, his feeding is optional.

Perhaps he can feed by only drinking a pint or so from any one person, never killing anybody and only feeding from willing victims. In modern days, such can often feed off of blood bank blood.

Perhaps he can subsist on animal blood, killing no more than do humans for their food.

Perhaps he need not feed at all, but it fuels his powers/makes him weak not to.

In any of these scenarios, the hunger and thirst may be nearly overwhelming, and the pleasure of feeding so strong that it is a constant danger that he might lose control, but in the end, he CAN heroically struggle against his urges and not perform any harm upon unwilling victims.

In a setting where a vampire had to, for instance, kill a person every night (or week, or whatever) by draining them dry, and no less would suffice and no substitutes could work, then that vampire could not continue his existence and be good. If he redeemed, he would die of starvation when his next feeding cycle came around...or his redemption would be short-lived and he would fall to evil once more. And serial redemption is not redemption at all.

AMFV
2014-02-27, 04:13 PM
your use of logic disappoints my theory of upside down gravity. I'll need a moment to feel sad about whales not being able to fly.

Sharks can fly.

Source: http://xkcd.com/585/

Whales are functionally the same as sharks, ergo whales can fly.

MonochromeTiger
2014-02-27, 04:32 PM
In a setting where a vampire had to, for instance, kill a person every night (or week, or whatever) by draining them dry, and no less would suffice and no substitutes could work, then that vampire could not continue his existence and be good. If he redeemed, he would die of starvation when his next feeding cycle came around...or his redemption would be short-lived and he would fall to evil once more. And serial redemption is not redemption at all.

arguably a vampire could remain "redeemed" even if they have to kill someone to live..well..unlive...whatever. it would be difficult but there are ways including:

A: vigilante justice such as catching and draining bandits or murderers, if it works for good and neutral aligned players it can work for them.

B: join an army while a very active war is going on, find enemy, drain them, oh look you're just killing them differently from the rest of the troops.

C: be an adventurer...you will likely be killing humanoid enemies at LEAST once a week.

Brookshw
2014-02-27, 04:36 PM
your use of logic disappoints my theory of upside down gravity. I'll need a moment to feel sad about whales not being able to fly.

Here, have a whale that travels the planes (http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/10/10497.phtml) (while they're still around) to cheer you up! You probably new this, but Elsewhale


This would then lead us to the question of if the acts themselves are evil regardless of circumstances

Well,......maybe. D&D does kinda lean more towards absolute morality as opposed to relative morality. Outside of that system is another matter (not to mention the many arguments that happen INSIDE the system).


It's a fundamental to the world of D&D as gravity is for us.

Well, they existed pre the good/evil axis existed so that's not necessarily an absolute fundamental of the world, only Law/Chaos which aren't in question here. Maybe the previously "Good" would fuse into a monopolar plane? Agreed we can't really definitively speculate on this one.

Off-topic, this did just give me an idea for a campaign where the "good" planes (or heck, the "evil") were destroyed and the only way to restore them would be to journey into the deep shadow to find the "shadow good" or what have you.

NichG
2014-02-27, 06:17 PM
In terms of Planescape's metaphysics at least, there are a few ways that the Upper Planes could be destroyed and the alignment chart re-forged:

- Convince everyone everywhere to lose all faith, belief, or even understanding of the concept 'good' or 'good vs evil' as opposites. The Outer Planes are made of belief - remove the belief, remove the planes.

- There are a set of 'words of creation' (not those in BoED) that define fundamental concepts of the multiverse by their use and were spoken at the beginning of all things. Orcus/Tenebrous had the word for 'death' (the 'Last Word') for awhile and used it to kill Primus as a sort of off-hand gesture. Collect enough of/the right ones of those and reforge the cosmos maybe? Of course, if you aren't a god then using them kills you. This is basically the Modron March/Dead Gods adventure path.

- Comprehend the metagame from within the multiverse and implement/force a change of editions to one in which the alignment chart is different. For better or worse, edition changes tend to be accompanied by in-character explanations of the changes in the D&D franchise. Ostensibly there must be some in-world explanation for all of these changes, so you basically have to tap that, whatever it is.

- Figure out the precise balance between tainting the Upper Planes and having them remain in place, and the Upper Planes sliding into the Lower Planes and being replaced. Dilute the concept of Good until it is nearly indistinguishable from Neutral without going over. An example of this in practice is that the third layer of Elysium has basically been abandoned in order to contain a great evil - while it is still part of the Upper Planes, its nature in practice is almost diametrically opposed to what it's supposed to be in principle. I'd call this the Orwellian Method - you're redefining the term 'Good' to be 'awful, but in a different way'. Arguably jerkass paladins/angels and the whole lawful stupid trope actively do this.

But yes, one does not need to do this in order to become a Lich.

A simpler mechanical 'moral event horizon' is to take that feat that gives you the [Evil] subtype - if you have that, you'll always detect as evil and respond as evil to spell effects/etc no matter what your character-sheet alignment says.

Brookshw
2014-02-27, 06:37 PM
In terms of Planescape's metaphysics at least, there are a few ways that the Upper Planes could be destroyed and the alignment chart re-forged:

- Convince everyone everywhere to lose all faith, belief, or even understanding of the concept 'good' or 'good vs evil' as opposites. The Outer Planes are made of belief - remove the belief, remove the planes.

- Nope, that's not it at all. If the fundamental core of belief is removed the plane slides to the closest aligned plane. It is not destroyed.



- There are a set of 'words of creation' (not those in BoED) that define fundamental concepts of the multiverse by their use and were spoken at the beginning of all things. Orcus/Tenebrous had the word for 'death' (the 'Last Word') for awhile and used it to kill Primus as a sort of off-hand gesture. Collect enough of/the right ones of those and reforge the cosmos maybe? Of course, if you aren't a god then using them kills you. This is basically the Modron March/Dead Gods adventure path.

Sure, no argument here that you can kill a major being and fundamentally alter the planes. I'm not grasping the relevance this has in establishing an event horizon.



- Comprehend the metagame from within the multiverse and implement/force a change of editions to one in which the alignment chart is different. For better or worse, edition changes tend to be accompanied by in-character explanations of the changes in the D&D franchise. Ostensibly there must be some in-world explanation for all of these changes, so you basically have to tap that, whatever it is.

- Figure out the precise balance between tainting the Upper Planes and having them remain in place, and the Upper Planes sliding into the Lower Planes and being replaced. Dilute the concept of Good until it is nearly indistinguishable from Neutral without going over. An example of this in practice is that the third layer of Elysium has basically been abandoned in order to contain a great evil - while it is still part of the Upper Planes, its nature in practice is almost diametrically opposed to what it's supposed to be in principle. I'd call this the Orwellian Method - you're redefining the term 'Good' to be 'awful, but in a different way'. Arguably jerkass paladins/angels and the whole lawful stupid trope actively do this.

You haven't established this. Sacrifice in the name of good is part of good. This is meaningless as I read it.




A simpler mechanical 'moral event horizon' is to take that feat that gives you the [Evil] subtype - if you have that, you'll always detect as evil and respond as evil to spell effects/etc no matter what your character-sheet alignment says. Sure. Someone who carries the [Evil] tag is evil. That's not in debate.

Sorry, I feel like a bit of a jerk for my responses.

NichG
2014-02-27, 07:14 PM
Nope, that's not it at all. If the fundamental core of belief is removed the plane slides to the closest aligned plane. It is not destroyed.

Sure, no argument here that you can kill a major being and fundamentally alter the planes. I'm not grasping the relevance this has in establishing an event horizon.

You haven't established this. Sacrifice in the name of good is part of good. This is meaningless as I read it.


The point of all this was a response to 'how exactly do you think about destroying the Upper Planes?'. The 'moral event horizon' in this/these particular cases is created because you have removed the 'Good' alignment from the chart, therefore by construction you cannot become 'Good'. In these examples I'm trying to stick as close as possible to 'cosmic alignment' moral event horizons, rather than the actual meaning of the trope, since blending them becomes unclear. As such, all of these cases involve somehow making 'being good' an impossible proposition under the state of the setting (and incidentally, this horizon is universal - one person 'crosses it' and no one can be 'Good' afterwards)



Sure. Someone who carries the [Evil] tag is evil. That's not in debate.


Well, its an important point. Alignment as it exists as a rules concept can have states that obey different principles than 'colloquial good', etc. Usually the confusion in this kind of discussion arises from half of the people talking about 'as-per-the-rules Good'/'cosmic Good' and the other half are talking about 'what I personally think is moral'.

So it can be useful to remember that the rules can create situations where they're disjoint, but that 'having the Evil rules tag' doesn't actually always mean 'is a bad person' in the colloquial sense and so on.

AMFV
2014-02-27, 08:10 PM
Sure. Someone who carries the [Evil] tag is evil. That's not in debate.

Sorry, I feel like a bit of a jerk for my responses.

What about the redeemed succubus? She has the evil tag, and is a Paladin, so clearly having the [Evil] tag doesn't force you into being evil.

GolemsVoice
2014-02-27, 08:36 PM
I think the book explains it by saying the she still has the [evil] tage because her substance hasn't changed. She is made of evil much like a fire elemental is made of fire. Both are also incredibly hot.

Zaydos
2014-02-27, 08:42 PM
Another way to destroy at least a layer of a plane is to get a large enough concentration of a bordering alignment on it, or actions not belonging to its alignment. This happened not once, but twice on Arcadia. The first was when formians colonized its 3rd layer and it slid to Mechanus because they were Lawful Neutral and the plane was Lawful Neutral/Good. The second was when the Harmonium made a mass brainwashing base on the 2nd layer to convert people to Lawful Good and at some point between 2e and 3e it too slid into Mechanus because it fell away from the alignment of the plane.

druid91
2014-02-27, 10:06 PM
i can say the same thing, just because you disagree with something doesnt mean it not true.

in 3.5, its described as "unspeakably evil" and you or your DM can fill in what that means, as long as it fits the desciption. also, i was clearly talking about normal liches, you are talking about archliches who have different requirements. and if there ARE other games where liches are not automatically evil, i would like to see some before accepting that as a fact

It's also in other books said that "Oh and sometimes it's not. We're not going to say anything more because giving you stats or rules or anything would be too cool. Bye!"

I hated Monsters of Faerun. In case you didn't notice.

AMFV
2014-02-28, 04:02 AM
I think the book explains it by saying the she still has the [evil] tage because her substance hasn't changed. She is made of evil much like a fire elemental is made of fire. Both are also incredibly hot.

Fair enough, but it is important to note that having the [Evil] tag is not prohibitive of being good, while being a fire elemental is prohibitive of being made of water. Which suggests that outer plane tags are treated differently than the inner plane tags at least in mutability.

Brookshw
2014-02-28, 07:51 AM
What about the redeemed succubus? She has the evil tag, and is a Paladin, so clearly having the [Evil] tag doesn't force you into being evil.

Great point, I retract the comment.

GolemsVoice
2014-02-28, 09:08 AM
Fair enough, but it is important to note that having the [Evil] tag is not prohibitive of being good, while being a fire elemental is prohibitive of being made of water. Which suggests that outer plane tags are treated differently than the inner plane tags at least in mutability.

That's what I was going for, yes. She IS made of evil and she will never be able to change that. It does, however, not influence her personality. Or rather, it does, very strongly, but not strong enough as to be an insurmountable obstacle.

AMFV
2014-02-28, 11:34 AM
That's what I was going for, yes. She IS made of evil and she will never be able to change that. It does, however, not influence her personality. Or rather, it does, very strongly, but not strong enough as to be an insurmountable obstacle.

Indeed, it again presents a really dynamic contrast with the inner plane tags. Since one can overcome two tags [Chaotic] and [Evil] in the course of play whereas so far as I am aware no fire elemental has ever become water, although that would be extremely interesting in and of itself.

What would that constitute, redeeming oneself of disparate quality like [Fire], or [Native], since apparently that is a possibility it would be interesting to see what the actual results of an alternative type of redemption might be. One could be redeemed from law by learning to be a hippy free spirit, or redeemed from Chaos in the opposite fashion, becoming the "man" as it were. Can we apply the same concept to other creature tags, because that would make for at the very least interesting storytelling.

NichG
2014-02-28, 11:38 AM
That's what I was going for, yes. She IS made of evil and she will never be able to change that. It does, however, not influence her personality. Or rather, it does, very strongly, but not strong enough as to be an insurmountable obstacle.


Indeed, it again presents a really dynamic contrast with the inner plane tags. Since one can overcome two tags [Chaotic] and [Evil] in the course of play whereas so far as I am aware no fire elemental has ever become water, although that would be extremely interesting in and of itself.

What would that constitute, redeeming oneself of disparate quality like [Fire], or [Native], since apparently that is a possibility it would be interesting to see what the actual results of an alternative type of redemption might be. One could be redeemed from law by learning to be a hippy free spirit, or redeemed from Chaos in the opposite fashion, becoming the "man" as it were. Can we apply the same concept to other creature tags, because that would make for at the very least interesting storytelling.

Its worth mentioning that the succubus paladin would, iirc, detect strongly of both Good and Evil. So the equivalent of a fire elemental resisting its [Fire] nature would be something like a fire elemental that decides to become a mage specialized in cold spells who then eventually uses various tricks to get the [Cold] tag at the same time as the [Fire] tag.

The fire elemental wouldn't become water, it'd have a personality and agenda consistent with being an ally of water. The succubus doesn't become, e.g., a planetar. She's still a succubus, but her personality and agenda are consistent with being an ally of good.

AMFV
2014-02-28, 12:12 PM
Its worth mentioning that the succubus paladin would, iirc, detect strongly of both Good and Evil. So the equivalent of a fire elemental resisting its [Fire] nature would be something like a fire elemental that decides to become a mage specialized in cold spells who then eventually uses various tricks to get the [Cold] tag at the same time as the [Fire] tag.

The fire elemental wouldn't become water, it'd have a personality and agenda consistent with being an ally of water. The succubus doesn't become, e.g., a planetar. She's still a succubus, but her personality and agenda are consistent with being an ally of good.

That's certainly true, but her alignment changed. I'm kind of looking to see where the connection between nature (one's planar nature), and one's own decisions comes into alignment, since that is pertinent and relevant to this particular conversation.

So we can determine that one's nature does not define one's thinking in D&D terms, so absolute redemption is generally possible in any given direction, even the water-fire divide as you've demonstrated. Which could make for some very interesting characters. At least a fire elemental cold mage might prove very surprising to some players.

NichG
2014-02-28, 12:42 PM
I would say rather that D&D doesn't mechanically have support for the concept of 'redemption' being meaningful outside of things like situations which cause one to lose access to class features/etc and require an atonement.

So its not that the fire elemental was 'redeemed' to cold, its that you have a fire elemental who took cold-themed classes, feats, etc. Since none of those options require 'you must not have the [Fire] tag', mechanically the system doesn't bat an eye at it.

The succubus paladin is actually a more stringent case, because she has taken a class that explicitly requires a Good alignment. If not for that detail, she could just as easily be an evil-aligned creature that happens to think and do everything in a way consistent with how a good alignment is described. Its the mechanical conflict between the [Evil] tag and requisite Good alignment that makes it a (mechanically) interesting case, since it suggests that you can simultaneously be/detect as two separate alignments at once (something I don't know of having support anywhere else in the rules).

hamishspence
2014-02-28, 12:46 PM
Asmodeus's copy of the Pact Primeval, in FC2, radiates auras of Good, Evil, and Law.

AMFV
2014-02-28, 01:04 PM
I would say rather that D&D doesn't mechanically have support for the concept of 'redemption' being meaningful outside of things like situations which cause one to lose access to class features/etc and require an atonement.

So its not that the fire elemental was 'redeemed' to cold, its that you have a fire elemental who took cold-themed classes, feats, etc. Since none of those options require 'you must not have the [Fire] tag', mechanically the system doesn't bat an eye at it.

The succubus paladin is actually a more stringent case, because she has taken a class that explicitly requires a Good alignment. If not for that detail, she could just as easily be an evil-aligned creature that happens to think and do everything in a way consistent with how a good alignment is described. Its the mechanical conflict between the [Evil] tag and requisite Good alignment that makes it a (mechanically) interesting case, since it suggests that you can simultaneously be/detect as two separate alignments at once (something I don't know of having support anywhere else in the rules).

The problem with this and with your entire "colloquial vs. cosmic" argument, is that the rules present no such distinction. While good is as much a resonant force as fire is, actions and thoughts are fundamentally an important part of this though, there is clear evidence that actions can change alignment, particularly in the case of the succubus, there is no mechanical distinction between alignment that results from cosmic forces and that which results from one's actions. Furthermore the succubus paladin is a good example of the fact that one's alignment is behavior derived, not cosmic force derived. Since she has a LG alignment, whether or not she pings confusingly on Detect Spells, her actual alignment results from her mental state and her actions, not any kind of "cosmic" alignment.

There is no RAW support for that idea as a separate yardstick, and the only conclusive evidence we have, is exactly contrary to the idea that it would be.

Segev
2014-02-28, 02:03 PM
We are capable of picturing what "made of fire" means.

What does "made of evil, no, physically" mean? I'm not arguing that this isn't the case, mind, but I'm having trouble picturing what it means in terms of their makeup. If evil is literally as evil does, as is the case of any alignment, how do you be "made of" behavior and yet act differently?

AMFV
2014-02-28, 03:20 PM
We are capable of picturing what "made of fire" means.

What does "made of evil, no, physically" mean? I'm not arguing that this isn't the case, mind, but I'm having trouble picturing what it means in terms of their makeup. If evil is literally as evil does, as is the case of any alignment, how do you be "made of" behavior and yet act differently?

Well the technical as I understand is "made of the essence of evil", which is slightly different than being "made of evil", however in the same way that a being made of fire, could behave in a way that in accordance with water, or cast watery spells, so could a being made of evil act against their nature. Since there is no prohibition on it, the evidence is that alignment stems from behavior or belief (and which of those two is more difficult), than it does from nature or essence.

NichG
2014-02-28, 05:41 PM
The problem with this and with your entire "colloquial vs. cosmic" argument, is that the rules present no such distinction.

The 'colloquial vs cosmic' argument is that the rules, in fact, do not care at all about 'colloquial' good - it isn't a well-defined concept in the rules. From a purely rules-based perspective, you can replace the word 'Evil' with 'Fudge Sundae' and it doesn't change anything.

Colloquial meanings of these words are what we bring into the discussion - they're our own baggage that can confuse the issue because we see the rules say something that, to us, does not align with our personal view of what 'Good' and 'Evil' are, and so we say 'but how can that be, there must be something wrong!'

This isn't a resoluble paradox. Its inherent to the fact that D&D is a game system written by humans with a particular codified, simplified, objective morality defined in part in game terminology and in part in ambiguous fluff. What you can do however is decide which part of the experience you want to discuss, and then focus on that. This means that some arguments aren't admissible when discussing the rules ('what about [situation I think is morally one way but the rules say is another]?!'), and other arguments aren't admissible when discussing the interpretation/fluff/colloquial aspects ('the rules say that it just takes a BoED spell to force-change your alignment, so no matter how horrible you are, you can always get it whitewashed!')

Basically you get confusion when you try to mix the two. For those who want to resolve the paradox in practice in their games, they must choose what side of the conflict to resolve it on (possibly on a case-by-case basis): either favoring a particular philosophically consistent view of morality, or favoring a game-mechanistic view of morality.

D&D RAW alignment just isn't designed to be a tool to study real-life ethics and morality.



Furthermore the succubus paladin is a good example of the fact that one's alignment is behavior derived, not cosmic force derived. Since she has a LG alignment, whether or not she pings confusingly on Detect Spells, her actual alignment results from her mental state and her actions, not any kind of "cosmic" alignment.


Odds are there was an Atonement spell thrown in there somewhere too.



There is no RAW support for that idea as a separate yardstick, and the only conclusive evidence we have, is exactly contrary to the idea that it would be.

The RAW support is that the observable signatures of alignement (e.g. the response of the target to Detect spells and other spell effects) can simultaneously be multiple things. By RAW, you can build a character that simultaneously behaves as 'Good' and 'Evil' for effects that care about that kind of thing. (Since we have some well-studied people here, is there a way to behave as having no alignment at all: not 'Good', 'Evil', or 'Neutral'?)


We are capable of picturing what "made of fire" means.

What does "made of evil, no, physically" mean? I'm not arguing that this isn't the case, mind, but I'm having trouble picturing what it means in terms of their makeup. If evil is literally as evil does, as is the case of any alignment, how do you be "made of" behavior and yet act differently?

Planescape metaphysics is that basically souls make a corporeal form for themselves out of the material of the Outer Plane they end up on (and eventually dissolve into that plane). A very crude example of this, if you baked a clay golem out of mud from the Abyss, it would probably detect as Chaotic Evil because the mud itself is made up of the belief in the concepts of Chaos and Evil and its related properties.

What this means practically is that if at some point those concepts were removed from all belief (or if belief in those concepts changed) then the apparently-physical substance of the golem (or the succubus for that matter) would be affected, wherever it happens to be at the time.

GolemsVoice
2014-02-28, 10:11 PM
It also means that a succubus, created from the matter of the lower planes, will most likely be chaoric evil just by the very material she's made from, no "teaching" required. It also makes it VERY hard for these beings to overcome their nature, since they're literally made to be that way. So the very act of doing good for a succubus is against her nature.

Pocket lint
2014-03-01, 12:30 AM
I have an idea of how this may be resolved - going a little off canon (and scaring myself somewhat in the process of coming up with the idea :smalleek:)

What if becoming a lich is unspeakably evil, but so is being one? Drawing from Manual of the Planes, when sentient beings die their souls travel through the Astral Plane to become petitioners, according to faith and alignment.

Now imagine if someone traps their souls in the moment of death. Not just one, but say a dozen. From lots of different alignments, so that they're pulled to lots of different destinations. And then he links his own soul to those dead individuals. This is a lich.

As long as the lich exists, the souls powering it are constantly reliving their moment of death, which involves them getting sacrificed and having their souls ripped from their body (cosmic existential horror AND deadly pain, lovely combo).

Even if the lich does nothing but save drowning kittens for the rest of eternity, every single moment it exists is a horror show. And the only way of atoning would be to release all those souls (instantly destroying the lich), and even that wouldn't be enough to pay for what's been done to them.

AuraTwilight
2014-03-01, 04:40 AM
The only problem is that there's no indication that liches sustain themselves with other people's souls; quite the opposite, as such a quality is what sets Demiliches apart from ordinary ones.

AMFV
2014-03-01, 06:13 AM
I have an idea of how this may be resolved - going a little off canon (and scaring myself somewhat in the process of coming up with the idea :smalleek:)

What if becoming a lich is unspeakably evil, but so is being one? Drawing from Manual of the Planes, when sentient beings die their souls travel through the Astral Plane to become petitioners, according to faith and alignment.

Now imagine if someone traps their souls in the moment of death. Not just one, but say a dozen. From lots of different alignments, so that they're pulled to lots of different destinations. And then he links his own soul to those dead individuals. This is a lich.

As long as the lich exists, the souls powering it are constantly reliving their moment of death, which involves them getting sacrificed and having their souls ripped from their body (cosmic existential horror AND deadly pain, lovely combo).

Even if the lich does nothing but save drowning kittens for the rest of eternity, every single moment it exists is a horror show. And the only way of atoning would be to release all those souls (instantly destroying the lich), and even that wouldn't be enough to pay for what's been done to them.

Well that's certainly an argument for the lich's existence, although to be fair those souls eventually have all eternity to make up for it, while the kittens would die immediately. The souls are just being deprived of time, of which they'll later have a near infinite amount. Saving a living being from death, by kidnapping or temporarily restraining another is pretty much not the most morally terrible thing a person could do.

It does become a lot more morally ambiguous at that point though. I would still argue that even then redemption sans-suicide is possible. The lich can still do enough good to repair the families that his soul taking damaged, he can even try to redeem the evil souls if possible, there are things that the lich could do to wind up good on that scale. Also since suicide results in the destruction of the lich's soul at this point (or whatever's left of it) that is in D&D unequivocally evil, so in your scenario, suicide is evil also, so he's damned if he does or if he doesn't.

Brookshw
2014-03-01, 08:56 AM
I have an idea of how this may be resolved - going a little off canon (and scaring myself somewhat in the process of coming up with the idea :smalleek:)

What if becoming a lich is unspeakably evil, but so is being one? Drawing from Manual of the Planes, when sentient beings die their souls travel through the Astral Plane to become petitioners, according to faith and alignment.

Now imagine if someone traps their souls in the moment of death. Not just one, but say a dozen. From lots of different alignments, so that they're pulled to lots of different destinations. And then he links his own soul to those dead individuals. This is a lich.

As long as the lich exists, the souls powering it are constantly reliving their moment of death, which involves them getting sacrificed and having their souls ripped from their body (cosmic existential horror AND deadly pain, lovely combo).

Even if the lich does nothing but save drowning kittens for the rest of eternity, every single moment it exists is a horror show. And the only way of atoning would be to release all those souls (instantly destroying the lich), and even that wouldn't be enough to pay for what's been done to them.

So first, cool idea. Definitely not Canon, but still cool. Second, have you played Torment? Reminds me a bit of when nameless confronts his previous incarnations.


I'm not sure exactly how the soul would be trapped, but sure, works for me. The soul is released on death, gets trapped,.....then what happens exactly? I assume the lich is dead so who's taking actions to bring him back, and can he be brought back if the soul is trapped? (I'm continuing the Canon suspension because otherwise the answer is no.) Can you expand a bit on how procedurally you're seeing this working? Also, are we disregarding a philactory holds "life force" and not the "soul"? I think I'm hitting some metaphysical walls trying to understand this.

All that aside however, we seem as an end result to end up with a being in constant pain. Would suck obviously, but being in pain isn't evil by itself. I kinda want to crack some jokes here about arthritis suffers defaulting to evil because of there constant pain. At last, the mystery of the cranky mean elderly is solved!

Please don't take this as criticism, I do REALLY like this, sounds like an interesting and complex scenario.

Pocket lint
2014-03-01, 01:44 PM
The only problem is that there's no indication that liches sustain themselves with other people's souls; quite the opposite, as such a quality is what sets Demiliches apart from ordinary ones.
Demiliches devour new souls (unspecified if they need them or just find them tasty) - the process I've described would be fine with just the original set.

Well that's certainly an argument for the lich's existence, although to be fair those souls eventually have all eternity to make up for it, while the kittens would die immediately. The souls are just being deprived of time, of which they'll later have a near infinite amount. Saving a living being from death, by kidnapping or temporarily restraining another is pretty much not the most morally terrible thing a person could do.
They're hardly being saved - even an afterlife on Baator would be a picnic by comparison. See AndIMustScream (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AndIMustScream) (warning, TVTropes). If you want to add more horror, I'd say being continually in the moment of your death (for centuries) would drive anyone incurably insane. Seems likely none of them would go anywhere if released, but become ghosts (and still insane) instead. At least there's an end to what a demilich could do to you.


So first, cool idea. Definitely not Canon, but still cool. Second, have you played Torment?

I'm not sure exactly how the soul would be trapped, but sure, works for me. The soul is released on death, gets trapped,.....then what happens exactly? I assume the lich is dead so who's taking actions to bring him back, and can he be brought back if the soul is trapped? (I'm continuing the Canon suspension because otherwise the answer is no.) Can you expand a bit on how procedurally you're seeing this working? Also, are we disregarding a philactory holds "life force" and not the "soul"? I think I'm hitting some metaphysical walls trying to understand this.
Torment was a fun game. I tried replaying it, but these days it's very dated.

I wasn't looking at this in too technical a way - more conceptually as someone looking to cheat the gods and whatever fate has in store by screwing over a whole lot of other people. Basically, the lich has balanced the "force" trying to suck him off to an evil afterlife with a "force" pulling other people off to their good or neutral ones. If the setting had Valkyries, I can see them standing around and arguing over what to do and then heading for the pub.

One quirk here is that since a lich is undead, the "life force" would have to come from the negative energy plane.

I don't have many ranks in Spellcraft, but I imagine some Necromancy variant on a Trap the soul or Magic Jar, which connects the negative energy plane to the phylactery, then gets that link to rip the soul out of a living person. Soul Bind (9th level) sounds good, but is a little high level. Do you have to be 20th level to become a lich?

Now rinse and repeat as necessary - you want a lot of people, so that their "weight" (total levels) would be balanced with your own, mostly of opposite alignments (CG and NG are tasty). All the souls get bound to the phylactery - at 120k gold, it should be plenty large to hold all of them.

Now add a bit of Contingency and Clone to cause automatic resurrection - this would mean a lich would require having the Evocation school, so maybe a lower-leveled Necromancy spell; this would explain the longer time it takes for a lich to return.

Now you have a nice shiny phylactery, and all that's left is to link all the souls in there with your own. This would be the final ritual, in which you cast something akin to Create greater undead on your still-living body.

All that aside however, we seem as an end result to end up with a being in constant pain. Would suck obviously, but being in pain isn't evil by itself.
I didn't even consider what the lich experiences. It's more that if the lich had any kind of empathy, it would self-destruct immediately. Saving kittens or baby elves just pales in comparison to what the souls in the phylactery are continually going through.

Now imagine if some adventurers destroy the phylactery - the lich now has to find a whole new set of people to sacrifice and bind. Better make sure you can get the lich too if you go for the phylactery.

AMFV
2014-03-01, 02:09 PM
They're hardly being saved - even an afterlife on Baator would be a picnic by comparison. See AndIMustScream (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AndIMustScream) (warning, TVTropes). If you want to add more horror, I'd say being continually in the moment of your death (for centuries) would drive anyone incurably insane. Seems likely none of them would go anywhere if released, but become ghosts (and still insane) instead. At least there's an end to what a demilich could do to you.

Well we don't know the fullness of what the soul's experience, we do know that in the afterlife they lose out on memories. We don't know if they are unaware of what the Lich experiences or the good that results from his actions. We certainly know that an eternity in hell is likely worse than what the lich could do, and certainly worse than simply dying.

Also I'm getting fairly tired of people making blanket generalizations that a specific experience would drive ANYONE insane, without any discussion of the mitigating factors or that person involved. We simply cannot make a judgement without full knowledge of the facts, clearly their torment is not indefinite and as I said, perhaps since their souls are bound to the Lich's, his later good acts might serve to redeem them.

Lastly, the "seems likely" argument is fairly weak, Ghosts are created by explicit circumstances, and this doesn't fit the bill. There is no reason to suspect that they would not go to whatever afterlife their alignment matches, they don't have any unfinished business, and their revenge is conducted the moment the Lich dies, ergo, no ghosts.

Pocket lint
2014-03-01, 03:16 PM
Well we don't know the fullness of what the soul's experience, we do know that in the afterlife they lose out on memories. We don't know if they are unaware of what the Lich experiences or the good that results from his actions. We certainly know that an eternity in hell is likely worse than what the lich could do, and certainly worse than simply dying.
Not sure what you're on about here. We're discussing DM options here, and as a DM you can know everything simply by assertion. I take issue with your second point here - whether or not they keep the memories afterwards does not take away from them being in excruciating pain and existential horror as long as the lich exists. The lich trying to do good is like making hand puppets to entertain children from their parents' internal organs. One does not compensate for the other. (Hmm, maybe I've been reading too much LFG)


Also I'm getting fairly tired of people making blanket generalizations that a specific experience would drive ANYONE insane, without any discussion of the mitigating factors or that person involved. We simply cannot make a judgement without full knowledge of the facts, clearly their torment is not indefinite and as I said, perhaps since their souls are bound to the Lich's, his later good acts might serve to redeem them.
Well, if a few hundred years of feeling negative energy course through your very soul is not enough, you're made of stern stuff. Most of the souls would not need redemption anyway since they would be good or neutral aligned. Or perhaps that's part of the horror too - being aware that their fate is now to go to an evil afterlife / be destroyed, in spite of their actions in life.

I'm curious - you mentioned earlier that suicide is an evil act. Where do you get that from?

If you want to keep an option for redeemed liches in your game, go for it. If you take my interpretation of how they become liches, the first thing it needs to do is to destroy the phylactery. After that, it can be destroyed just like any other undead, but at least it has some time to make up for past acts. You're the DM, it's up to you whether that's enough to change its fate to a different afterlife. Alternatively, it can be aware that it has none - if it gets destroyed without a phylactery, its soul is destroyed too.

Brookshw
2014-03-01, 04:17 PM
Not sure what you're on about here. We're discussing DM options here.

Wait, we are? Oh. Well that's easy. Want redeemable liches? Done! Want irredeemable liches? Done! Everyone wins!

AMFV
2014-03-01, 04:19 PM
Not sure what you're on about here. We're discussing DM options here, and as a DM you can know everything simply by assertion. I take issue with your second point here - whether or not they keep the memories afterwards does not take away from them being in excruciating pain and existential horror as long as the lich exists. The lich trying to do good is like making hand puppets to entertain children from their parents' internal organs. One does not compensate for the other. (Hmm, maybe I've been reading too much LFG)

But the end point is that the existential suffering terminates, the afterlife stuff doesn't, so if he's preventing people from going to worse suffering that's morally good. At least as far as D&D goes




Well, if a few hundred years of feeling negative energy course through your very soul is not enough, you're made of stern stuff. Most of the souls would not need redemption anyway since they would be good or neutral aligned. Or perhaps that's part of the horror too - being aware that their fate is now to go to an evil afterlife / be destroyed, in spite of their actions in life.


Well you had specified a mixture of alignments, which would facilitate that option. Also if they are participating in the good actions then they could have the good aspect as well, even if it's painful for them, they could participate the movement towards good.



I'm curious - you mentioned earlier that suicide is an evil act. Where do you get that from?

Only in the context of your scenario where you specified that the lich's soul is bound in the process and destruction of the lich.

Otherwise you could make an argument for suicide on the part of the lich being evil since it feeds the evil afterlife, since it is no option for redemption, since there are no amends made. It's at best a selfish act in the case of the guilty lich.



If you want to keep an option for redeemed liches in your game, go for it. If you take my interpretation of how they become liches, the first thing it needs to do is to destroy the phylactery. After that, it can be destroyed just like any other undead, but at least it has some time to make up for past acts. You're the DM, it's up to you whether that's enough to change its fate to a different afterlife. Alternatively, it can be aware that it has none - if it gets destroyed without a phylactery, its soul is destroyed too.

Agreed, but I would still argue that most cases redemption is possible. And outside of an extremely contrived scenario I cannot envision a scenario where suicide is the only acceptable answer. I asked earlier for a point beyond which redemption was impossible, and so far, there has been no answer.

With the exception of a scenario where good ceases to exist (which is impossible to even envision)

MonochromeTiger
2014-03-01, 04:20 PM
Wait, we are? Oh. Well that's easy. Want redeemable liches? Done! Want irredeemable liches? Done! Everyone wins!

if it was all about DM options why make the thread? heck why CONTINUE the thread? it would've been as simple as "oh hey I want this kind of thing in my campaign, I'll discuss splitting from normal with my players" instead of "I'll post this on a forum and spend 10 pages watching the resulting alignment and free will argument".

AMFV
2014-03-01, 04:22 PM
if it was all about DM options why make the thread? heck why CONTINUE the thread? it would've been as simple as "oh hey I want this kind of thing in my campaign, I'll discuss splitting from normal with my players" instead of "I'll post this on a forum and spend 10 pages watching the resulting alignment and free will argument".

To be fair the merits of this thread have continued beyond simply a DM options question. There are many tangential discussion points that can be had on this topic.

MonochromeTiger
2014-03-01, 04:26 PM
To be fair the merits of this thread have continued beyond simply a DM options question. There are many tangential discussion points that can be had on this topic.

yes but the need to seek approval from people not even involved in that DM's game to make a change that will only happen in said game and not to anyone else's just seems... odd.

AMFV
2014-03-01, 04:30 PM
yes but the need to seek approval from people not even involved in that DM's game to make a change that will only happen in said game and not to anyone else's just seems... odd.

Well the OP hasn't been back, and he never specified that it was for a single game, so we must conclude that the discussion is independent of any particular game, also we can add game-specific advice, we just need to specify that is as such.

Brookshw
2014-03-01, 04:45 PM
if it was all about DM options why make the thread? heck why CONTINUE the thread? it would've been as simple as "oh hey I want this kind of thing in my campaign, I'll discuss splitting from normal with my players" instead of "I'll post this on a forum and spend 10 pages watching the resulting alignment and free will argument".

Well yeah. I assumed we were talking about it within the context of roleplaying games treatment of the topic (with a large d&d overture). If its just a dms options its a pretty short conversation. "rule 0. Done. Who wants pizza?".

Hmmm, I haven't done any WoD in over a decade. If they still use humanity I wonder how this conversation would have evolved?

Pocket lint
2014-03-01, 04:46 PM
I think given the fuzziness of RAW there's not much that can be discussed other than "DM options".
The options I've seen so far are:

1. The "unspeakable evil" necessary to create the lich is so bad that nothing could make up for it. Unspecified in RAW, so we don't know here. Would changing its mind make it disappear in a puff of logic?

2. The lich does not have enough free will to be able to change its alignment. Contradicts a bunch of stuff, and seems a little trite. EVUL CUZ I SAID SO.

I was attempting to add a third:

3. The very existence of the lich causes suffering far in excess of what can be done in recompense.

Brookshw
2014-03-01, 05:00 PM
I think given the fuzziness of RAW there's not much that can be discussed other than "DM options".
The options I've seen so far are:

1. The "unspeakable evil" necessary to create the lich is so bad that nothing could make up for it. Unspecified in RAW, so we don't know here. Would changing its mind make it disappear in a puff of logic?

2. The lich does not have enough free will to be able to change its alignment. Contradicts a bunch of stuff, and seems a little trite. EVUL CUZ I SAID SO.

I was attempting to add a third:

3. The very existence of the lich causes suffering far in excess of what can be done in recompense.

Thanks for the breakdown, I've gotcha now. As to 1) BoED provides RAW which specifies anything can be redeemed though some are drastically harder than others. 2) agreed. 3) contradicts 1, we need alternative premises for it to qualify as a true and valid argument and requires the removal of free will. While the decision leading to redemption carries heavy consequences it does not negate the option.

Edit: reread your breakdown, specifically 3. Still cool set up, not supported by RAW or canon.

AMFV
2014-03-01, 05:54 PM
I think given the fuzziness of RAW there's not much that can be discussed other than "DM options".
The options I've seen so far are:

1. The "unspeakable evil" necessary to create the lich is so bad that nothing could make up for it. Unspecified in RAW, so we don't know here. Would changing its mind make it disappear in a puff of logic?

This is the option that creates the need to define the moral event horizon, if there is an option that turns one to evil completely, then it should be discussed, even signing an infernal contract does not appear to be so binding.


I
2. The lich does not have enough free will to be able to change its alignment. Contradicts a bunch of stuff, and seems a little trite. EVUL CUZ I SAID SO.


This as you've said has been thoroughly discussed earlier.

I
I was attempting to add a third:

3. The very existence of the lich causes suffering far in excess of what can be done in recompense.

This is a problematic argument, a Lich is a powerful spellcaster, capable of feats far beyond a normal person. We would need to define exactly what might be able to be done in recompense, certainly this makes suicide a more acceptable option for the lich, since that is now an explicitly good act rather than simply a moral wash at best. However that may not be the most good thing the lich can do.

As I've pointed out, if he's preventing souls from going to a greater suffering, then at least that is good, even if they are enduring a lesser suffering, it's like keeping somebody alive while they are very ill, except that in this case, we know that they will suffer for all eternity if they are not.

If all the souls that are bound are good, we'd need to establish that A.) This action is beyond recompense, so we'd need some sort of yardstick to determine exactly how evil that is. And B.) We'd need to establish that it would have a permanent effect on the souls themselves, since as far as the eternity of afterlife goes, being bound for a few thousand years is no time at all.

This is the fundamental problem with this particular line of alignment discussion, without clear definitions of degree we cannot say that any one thing is more or less evil than another, so in essence we are back to the moral event horizon problem.

If a 500 year old lich decides to survive to 1,000 after gaining a conscience is there action that can be taken that will redeem him for imprisoning souls for 1,000 years? Is keeping the souls imprisoned worth it. If the lich is 1,000 and then gains a conscience is he damned forever because of it, even if he immediately kills himself? How long for a lich does it take for redemption to become impossible?

Since that breaks down fairly quickly, we cannot assume that it is an not an action beyond redemption, or else there would be a point beyond which no lich would be capable of being redeemed, suicide or no.

NichG
2014-03-01, 08:18 PM
I feel like the '9 souls against 1 powerful soul' thing is straying into 'colloquial' e.g. 'personal' views on morality again. Whether or not the ends justify the means isn't something that has a very well-defined answer in D&D. Acts have associated alignments, but we don't really have an equation for how the alignment balance of sets of different acts 'add together' in the rules.

Rules-wise, the interesting thing would be that if there are two 'moral event horizon' type actions that are rules-supported but belong to opposite alignments and are not mutually exclusive, then that allows for the construction of a paradoxical being (e.g. an entity that cannot be either of its alignments).

Similarly, having only 'moral event horizon' actions for evil but not good establishes that Good and Evil are not actually symmetric in the rules, which is an important point since assumptions of symmetry often crop up in alignment discussions (e.g. orange vs blue morality). If it is fundamentally harder to maintain a good alignment than an evil one, then that has certain demographic/etc implications.

Brookshw
2014-03-01, 08:24 PM
For what its worth you bring up an interesting point if we contrast the moral event horizons against the alignment demographics in the dmg. The evil horizon would be much closer than the good creating a asymmetric nature to d&d morality in this context.

Edit: though I personally chalk that up to game design and an assumption the players are good heroes so a predominantly evil world gives them more things to struggle against and over come. Personal speculation on my part.

AMFV
2014-03-01, 08:37 PM
I feel like the '9 souls against 1 powerful soul' thing is straying into 'colloquial' e.g. 'personal' views on morality again. Whether or not the ends justify the means isn't something that has a very well-defined answer in D&D. Acts have associated alignments, but we don't really have an equation for how the alignment balance of sets of different acts 'add together' in the rules.

Which is why this kind of discussion is so difficult. It's not even clear if it works like a bank account and can be modeled with your balance of good against your balance of evil, since there are clearly strong mitigating factors (alignment can change through dramatic epiphany for example), which would make a single act sufficient for an alignment change, regardless of the act itself, since this can occur we must then also conclude that is not simply a matter of balance.

And even if it were, and that is a reasonable stance to take (game-wise at least), then we'd need to define better the values of each act.



Rules-wise, the interesting thing would be that if there are two 'moral event horizon' type actions that are rules-supported but belong to opposite alignments and are not mutually exclusive, then that allows for the construction of a paradoxical being (e.g. an entity that cannot be either of its alignments).

This is true, also as far as I can tell without a definite establishment of what moral degree certain actions have, the development of an absolute moral event horizon would be extremely difficult.



Similarly, having only 'moral event horizon' actions for evil but not good establishes that Good and Evil are not actually symmetric in the rules, which is an important point since assumptions of symmetry often crop up in alignment discussions (e.g. orange vs blue morality). If it is fundamentally harder to maintain a good alignment than an evil one, then that has certain demographic/etc implications.

Certainly true, at least as far as the rules go though, they seem to be of equal difficulty, if an Anti-Paladin falls, he must atone to the same degree that a fallen Paladin must. Although for other cases it's less clear as to exactly how difficult or not that would be.

Once again, we'd need to define the actual moral event horizon breaking points to advance any further I imagine. Or at least have a good idea about the relative degrees of Good or Evil in particular actions.

GolemsVoice
2014-03-01, 09:14 PM
Part of it I think is also the assumptions that it's much easier to be evil while doing good deeds for ultimately evil ends then to be good and do evil deeds for ultimately good ends.

I mean, how often do we see the troubled anti-hero toeing the line between good and evil, trying to be good but failing, only to be redeemed in the end (or fall?)?

We never see a villain who's toeing the line between good and evil. Would be fun, though!

"Killzor! Explain yourself! You saved an orphanage from a fire, you RESCUED 60 orphans! You're a loose cannon!"

"I did what I had to. I did the wrong thing! The good thing! It was neccessary, at that moment!"

AMFV
2014-03-01, 09:22 PM
Part of it I think is also the assumptions that it's much easier to be evil while doing good deeds for ultimately evil ends then to be good and do evil deeds for ultimately good ends.

I mean, how often do we see the troubled anti-hero toeing the line between good and evil, trying to be good but failing, only to be redeemed in the end (or fall?)?

We never see a villain who's toeing the line between good and evil. Would be fun, though!

"Killzor! Explain yourself! You saved an orphanage from a fire, you RESCUED 60 orphans! You're a loose cannon!"

"I did what I had to. I did the wrong thing! The good thing! It was neccessary, at that moment!"

Well the problem is that evil is generally mostly defined by self-interest. So Killzor might not be yelled at or directly admonished, but he'd be seen as weak, and therefore people would try to eliminate him. He would be seen as starting to chip away at the image of fear that his evil colleagues work so hard to create, and "once word gets out that a villains gone soft, it's nothing but work, work, work all the time." So there are incentives for an evil person to stay relatively evil, they're just different style of incentives.

NichG
2014-03-01, 10:52 PM
Certainly true, at least as far as the rules go though, they seem to be of equal difficulty, if an Anti-Paladin falls, he must atone to the same degree that a fallen Paladin must. Although for other cases it's less clear as to exactly how difficult or not that would be.


This is the thing that's interesting, rules-wise, about the possibility of a true moral event horizon. If there is one (say, becoming a lich), then that means that a lich Anti-Paladin cannot actually 'fall'. Its kind of a power-game.

MonochromeTiger
2014-03-02, 12:40 AM
This is the thing that's interesting, rules-wise, about the possibility of a true moral event horizon. If there is one (say, becoming a lich), then that means that a lich Anti-Paladin cannot actually 'fall'. Its kind of a power-game.

that's working on the assumption that there really are things like that which make it impossible to EVER lose your alignment. become a demon? nope, that doesn't make you permanently evil with no way of changing. become a sentient undead? STILL not guaranteed to be evil forever, I mean people may look at you as though you're going to tear them apart for a snack but that's because of a learned fear of the undead.

without an actual moral event horizon like you're mentioning that actively states "you are now evil forever with no way anyone, not even yourself, can change that" it's impossible to actually have the kind of power-gaming never falling anti-paladin like you're talking about. and as long free will is a factor alignment so easily set in stone. if an anti-paladin doesn't want to fall then they need to decide to stick to what makes them an anti-paladin, same for paladin and same for every other class that requires an alignment.

GoblinGilmartin
2014-03-02, 04:41 AM
I'd just like to point out the spell "Sanctify the Wicked" from the 3.5 Book of Exalted Deeds.


This spell tears the foul, corrupted soul
from the body of an evil creature and
traps it in a diamond receptacle (the
spell’s focus). The creature’s soulless
body instantly withers or molders into
dust.
Trapped in the gem, the evil soul
undergoes a gradual transformation. The
soul reflects on past evils and slowly
finds within itself a spark of goodness.
Over time, this spark grows into a burning
fire. After one year, the trapped creature’s
soul adopts the alignment of the
spell’s caster (lawful good, chaotic good,
or neutral good). Once the soul’s penitence
is complete, shattering the diamond
reforms the creature’s original
body, returns the creature’s soul to it, and
transforms the whole into a sanctified
creature (see Chapter 8: Monsters).
If the diamond is shattered before
the soul has found penitence, the evil
creature’s body and soul are fully restored;
the creature’s state is just as it was
before the spell was cast. The creature
retains the memory of having been
trapped in the gem, and it regards the
spell’s caster as a hated enemy who must
be destroyed at all costs.
The diamond receptacle has a hardness
of 20 and 1 hit point.
Focus: A flawless diamond worth no
less than 10,000 gp.
Sacrifice: 1 character level.

JusticeZero
2014-03-02, 06:11 AM
that's working on the assumption that there really are things like that which make it impossible to EVER lose your alignment.
as long free will is a factor alignment so easily set in stone
Not true. There can be lots of things that lock you permanently into a fixed alignment. Those things might not restrict your behavior in the slightest bit, however. "You can act however you want, but your alignment is frozen here and no longer is affected by your behavior."

AMFV
2014-03-02, 06:23 AM
Not true. There can be lots of things that lock you permanently into a fixed alignment. Those things might not restrict your behavior in the slightest bit, however. "You can act however you want, but your alignment is frozen here and no longer is affected by your behavior."

Such as what? So far the only example that people have been able to produce is completely destroying on a cosmic the ability to become good. We've had a fairly interesting discussion about the consequences of a fixed alignment, which is very interesting in terms of the implications philosophically and rules-wise. However, nobody has been able to pick an example that would not be arbitrary and certainly none listed in the rules of any game that I'm aware.

There are things that can forcefully change your alignment, such as lycanthropy, or a helm of opposite alignment, or becoming an undead, but they also change your outlook and presumably you could shift your outlook back.

Brookshw
2014-03-02, 09:08 AM
Part of it I think is also the assumptions that it's much easier to be evil while doing good deeds for ultimately evil ends then to be good and do evil deeds for ultimately good ends.

I mean, how often do we see the troubled anti-hero toeing the line between good and evil, trying to be good but failing, only to be redeemed in the end (or fall?)?

We never see a villain who's toeing the line between good and evil. Would be fun, though!

"Killzor! Explain yourself! You saved an orphanage from a fire, you RESCUED 60 orphans! You're a loose cannon!"

"I did what I had to. I did the wrong thing! The good thing! It was neccessary, at that moment!"

Dunno, I feel this is somewhat common under the guise of misguided actions.


Such as what? So far the only example that people have been able to produce is completely destroying on a cosmic the ability to become good. We've had a fairly interesting discussion about the consequences of a fixed alignment, which is very interesting in terms of the implications philosophically and rules-wise. However, nobody has been able to pick an example that would not be arbitrary and certainly none listed in the rules of any game that I'm aware.

There are things that can forcefully change your alignment, such as lycanthropy, or a helm of opposite alignment, or becoming an undead, but they also change your outlook and presumably you could shift your outlook back.

To a certain extent I doubt we can without looking to real life, the meta aspect of an external player making choices without any means of knowing in an absolute sense what a character through their own (nonexistent) internal choices. As good as a roleplayer may be we can't quantify-ably measure any meta influence and I doubt there's anyone who has absolutely zero. I know I for one will personally always find certain avenues personally distasteful would never have a character pursue them, regardless of any possible in character difference outlook.

AMFV
2014-03-02, 09:14 AM
To a certain extent I doubt we can without looking to real life, the meta aspect of an external player making choices without any means of knowing in an absolute sense what a character through their own (nonexistent) internal choices. As good as a roleplayer may be we can't quantify-ably measure any meta influence and I doubt there's anyone who has absolutely zero. I know I for one will personally always find certain avenues personally distasteful would never have a character pursue them, regardless of any possible in character difference outlook.

I don't think that's necessarily the case, if a person can comprehend their character's outlook, they should be able to have their character act according to it. Even if they may find doing so distasteful. I personally find racists distasteful and I've roleplayed them. While it may not be possible for you to roleplay all changes in alignment, a dramatic shift in outlook (altruism to selfishness for example) should be something that a reasonable person could at least, conceptually, simulate.

Brookshw
2014-03-02, 10:33 AM
I don't think that's necessarily the case, if a person can comprehend their character's outlook, they should be able to have their character act according to it. Even if they may find doing so distasteful. I personally find racists distasteful and I've roleplayed them. While it may not be possible for you to roleplay all changes in alignment, a dramatic shift in outlook (altruism to selfishness for example) should be something that a reasonable person could at least, conceptually, simulate.

While I agree on a large level, our own internal conceptualization will limit our understandings and applications of these things. In a real world sense pure objectivism is nigh impossible. In an in character sense not only are the actions and understandings first filtered into our conceptual framework but are then applied via a limited scope of who a character is in an in game sense. Without creating hundreds of pages of backstory to try and workout how various experiences in the characters life would impact them (not to mention they live in a very different world which we don't have any personal internal experience with which to contrast our own understanding) I don't see how in an absolute, objective, and quantifiable method we can remove the meta. I have no idea what it means to grow up in 1400s Italy. I can build a character built around what I know and how I think someone would react, but I doubt its the same as if I had actually lived there.

NotScaryBats
2014-03-02, 10:53 AM
I think Xykon especially in Start of Darkness is a great example of how becoming a normal lich influences your alignment. That's the baseline assumption, I think, like Ghosts in Supernatural where the longer you remain as this inhuman entity, the less and less you care about your humanity; the more of a monster you become.

It is a common trope, and it fits here.

That said, it shouldn't be impossible to fight it or change. Barring of course Good Liches from Libris Mortis that RAW explicitly DO exist, an evil lich redeeming herself and doing good deeds and fighting her nature and all that would be a cool story, have potentially awesome RP, and would be something I'd love to be a part of.

At the end of the day, it should be a fight, though. She wouldn't just wake up and say "I'm Lawful Good now, lol, time for some Exalted Feats" but rather take a long and hard journey that never ends as the taint and influence never leaves.

AbyssStalker
2015-02-01, 01:06 PM
Well this entire argument is rather ridiculous, I had to stop reading at about the 7th page to just post this right quick.

Say you could become some kind of benevolent creature through some ritual, the ritual requires acts of unspeakable good to perform. After said act and transformation into the creature, then you go off kicking celestial puppies, destroying planes, and listening to Celine Dion. By some of the logic displayed on this topic, than you would still be considered unquestionably good no matter how many people you rape, how many children you orphan, or virgin sacrifices you make.

Morality isn't about a state of being, it's about what you do while in that state of being, if a lich wants to start handing out (not poisoned) lollipops to little children, or solve world hunger, guess what he did, a good action, he MIGHT be on his way to becoming a better person (intent factors in on this). In no way at any shape, form, or manner does that erase his past deeds, he still did whatever he did in the ritual (or before or after) and he can still choose to do whatever he wants to do at a later point. And hey, if that lich somehow reverses all the evil he has ever done, than how would he still be evil even if he is still inside that withering corpse?

On a side note I would however likely (if I were DM) rule that you would have a kind of "evil" taint to you in the case of detect Evil, no scale of morality is just going to "forget" that you murdered thousands of babies and bathed in their blood (just an example).

Oh and to whomever came up with the "unspeakable good" thing, that's hilarious. You deserve a gold star.

Flickerdart
2015-02-01, 01:46 PM
On a side note I would however likely (if I were DM) rule that you would have a kind of "evil" taint to you in the case of detect Evil, no scale of morality is just going to "forget" that you murdered thousands of babies and bathed in their blood (just an example).
Not only do undead already detect Evil regardless of alignment, they detect more powerful Evil than mortals (an undead with 9 HD would detect as Strong evil, while a regular evil creature would only detect as Faint evil).

JusticeZero
2015-02-01, 04:01 PM
Say you could become some kind of benevolent creature through some ritual, the ritual requires acts of unspeakable good to perform... you would still be considered unquestionably good no matter how many people you rape, how many children you orphan, or virgin sacrifices you make.
That's correct, yes. You pegged the morality gauge, then locked/broke it with a supernatural effect that is tied to it.
If someone were transformed into an Earth elemental related creature, then spent a lot of time standing on high places and chatting up birds and sylphs, they will not spontaneously stop being affected by spells to affect Earth-using creatures. This is no different.
In other news, I just looked at the dates... Necromancy much? :smallconfused:

Flickerdart
2015-02-01, 04:14 PM
If someone were transformed into an Earth elemental related creature, then spent a lot of time standing on high places and chatting up birds and sylphs, they will not spontaneously stop being affected by spells to affect Earth-using creatures. This is no different.
Actually it is different. There's no such thing as "spells to affect Earth-using creatures" - just [Earth] creatures which Earth elementals are (although I don't think polymorph would give you the tag). It works the same for [Evil], and in fact there are rules that regardless of a creature's alignment, [Evil] creatures actually are affected by anti-Evil spells.

Unfortunately, a Lich is not [Evil] by virtue of the template. In fact, it's really damn hard to get the [Evil] tag - you pretty much need to be an outsider.

hamishspence
2015-02-01, 04:18 PM
Unfortunately, a Lich is not [Evil] by virtue of the template. In fact, it's really damn hard to get the [Evil] tag - you pretty much need to be an outsider.
Or talk a cleric into performing the appropriate ritual from Savage Species on you. Ritual can be hazardous though.