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DiscipleofBob
2008-10-29, 03:52 PM
I was making an NPC for a game, and while fleshing out the character I suddenly realized something...

WARNING: Long background tangent building up to the actual question below.

Said NPC character, named Majenda, is a noble lady and in charge of a large city which bases a lot of its economy on tourism. The city, named Rosewood, would be suspiciously crime-free population and no public town guard. This, of course, is mostly a front set up to attract more tourism and sustain Rosewood's economy.

The real town guard would be a group of discreet, undercover individuals who specialize in stopping crimes before they start, capturing would-be criminals alive, and covering up any sign that something nasty did occur in Rosewood.

To Majenda, punishing criminals isn't as important as maintaining peace and tranquility in her town, so using the logic that most criminals break the law because they need money or are somehow just down on their luck, she instead negotiates with the criminals and offers them compensation in exchange for not starting anything, usually offering some money, free vacations in town, that sort of thing. A criminal gets some money and maybe a free pass to a spa or something, the criminal spends that money relaxing and having a good time, the money goes back into the economy of Rosewood where it came from.

Eventually, some of said criminals will get wise and try to milk these offers for all their worth. Some criminals might be unable to be negotiated with from the beginning. Since Majenda doesn't want any killing in her town whatsoever (if even rumors got out about execution or such it might detract from tourism, once again the main focus of Rosewood's economy), she sends the prisoners to one of the nearby cities where they DO punish and execute criminals.

So while thinking about Majenda and her guards' capabilities, I figure they would specialize in nonlethal damage and detaining prisoners rather than killing them. The best way I figured (outside of martial arts or magic), was poison that either did Strength or Dexterity damage or simply put them to sleep. I figured I could justify this even further by having Majenda personally hating violence and killing, so she's use small poison-tipped needles to end any threat to her as soon as possible without killing them.

Okay, end tangent.

Now, RAW, using poison is unquestionably evil. The rationale for this decision (or at least I assume) is that poison is an unhonorable, backstabby sort of thing. Poisoning the king's cup of wine to kill him and do whatever is definitely an evil act.

So, the real question of this thread is: Wouldn't poison be considered a MORE morally acceptable alternative to straight up fighting if said poison was simply used to incapacitate enemies rather than killing them. I can see a good PC who hates violence and killing resort to using some sort of sleep poison on his foes rather than beating them with a sword until they're at 0 hit points, or even worse, taking that -4 penalty to make the damage nonlethal.

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-10-29, 03:57 PM
Well, I'd say that's more 'greedy' than Good, but yes, there is nothing that makes poison evil anymore than Ray of Enfeeblement is Evil.

I'd give the guards a feat for poison-use, some with levels in Unarmed Swordsage or Monk, some with the feat that lets you deal non-lethal with no penalty, and some with Imp Grapple or Trip for disabling.

Swordguy
2008-10-29, 03:58 PM
It all comes down to how much of a RAWtard that the GM/players tend to be.

By the letter of the rules, every poisonous substance, regardless of how or why it's used (except Drow Sleep poison, natch) is considered inherently evil (unless used by an animal).

Except every consumable substance is poisonous in sufficient quantities.

So, generally, speaking, poisons shouldn't be evil - just their consequences. If you murder someone with poison, you're evil because you killed them, not because you used a poison. After all, the dagger you stabbed them with while they were sleeping isn't evil, is it? This view, of course, is that horrible, horrible thing called "common sense" - as in, "displaying a modicum of", that's so disparaged by people around here.



...as a side note - if a Druid turns into a poisonous animal, and kills someone with a poison, is he evil for having used the poison?

_Puppetmaster_
2008-10-29, 03:58 PM
I see no reason why poison should be evil in the first place.

I think a good poison could be Drow Knockout Poison.

Kris Strife
2008-10-29, 03:59 PM
Drow knockout poison and the one PH poison that does knockout are considered non evil. The ability damage would come from the poison actually killing parts of the body: central nervous system for Int, Wis and Cha, peripheral nervous system for Dex, muscles and bones for Str, Dex and Con, internal organs for Con, and difigurement for Cha. all of which would be horribly painful.

Tengu_temp
2008-10-29, 04:00 PM
I think this thread is a perfect place to mention (again) that I consider the "poison is evil" rule to be among most retarded things in a system already filled with absurdities.

hamishspence
2008-10-29, 04:04 PM
its only in one book, and later books, even ones discussing Evil acts, don't use it. you will not find "using poison" on a list of evil acts in Champions of Ruin, or a tighter list of Corrupt acts in Fiendish Codex 2.

RPGuru1331
2008-10-29, 04:05 PM
I don't see what makes using poison more evil then using a sword, so go for it, OP.

Capfalcon
2008-10-29, 04:05 PM
Just out of curosity, where does it say that poison is evil, outside the BoED and the BoVD?

Interestingly enough, the Poision spell doesn't have the [Evil] tag.

Nor is the Ninja, who gets the class ability to use poision, required to be evil.

And Coutals, who are Lawful Good extraplanar beings, have poison.

So, yeah. If poison is the best weapon for the job, go ahead and use it.

The party paladin might give you a firm glare and a lecture, but he can still adventure with you.

Inyssius Tor
2008-10-29, 04:05 PM
Except for the poisons that kill you slowly by melting your intestines over a month of agonizing pain, there is no actual reason for poison to be evil--rogues don't have to be evil, and doing dishonorable and backstabby things is built right in to their level progression.

If the poison literally doesn't do anything other than knock you unconscious and maybe give you a headache when you wake up, there is no logical reason whatsoever for it to be evil.

File that part of the rules under "flasks weigh more when empty than they do when full," I guess.

hamishspence
2008-10-29, 04:10 PM
Its not even in BoVD. Though extra poisons are listed.

Execution is in BoVD, but not described as evil- and BoED says- Not evil (in the absence of specific context, execution for really minor crimes might be evil depending on DM)

DiscipleofBob
2008-10-29, 04:19 PM
I can see a lot of people share my sentiment on this. :smallsmile:


Drow knockout poison and the one PH poison that does knockout are considered non evil. The ability damage would come from the poison actually killing parts of the body: central nervous system for Int, Wis and Cha, peripheral nervous system for Dex, muscles and bones for Str, Dex and Con, internal organs for Con, and difigurement for Cha. all of which would be horribly painful.

CON damage I can definitely see as evil, as you very easily kill someone with that. INT, WIS, and CHA damage I can see as evil because that messes up your mind and probably does brain damage. STR and DEX are where I'm a little confused. When your Strength or Dexterity hits 0, you are unable to move, essentially paralyzed until the effects of the poison are healed, usually only a matter of days if you don't get a Lesser Restoration right off. To me, this says that poisons which do STR or DEX damage essentially are paralyzing poisons, and there is nothing lethal or permanent about them. In fact, wouldn't the majority of STR and DEX damage poisons being almost painless as your nerves shut down and your body is made numb?



Nor is the Ninja, who gets the class ability to use poision, required to be evil.

I would like to point out that the Ninja base class is required to be nongood, so that could be seen as a "must be willing to resort to 'evil' means" that the designers put in the book.

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-10-29, 04:23 PM
CON damage I can definitely see as evil, as you very easily kill someone with that. INT, WIS, and CHA damage I can see as evil because that messes up your mind and probably does brain damage. STR and DEX are where I'm a little confused. When your Strength or Dexterity hits 0, you are unable to move, essentially paralyzed until the effects of the poison are healed, usually only a matter of days if you don't get a Lesser Restoration right off. To me, this says that poisons which do STR or DEX damage essentially are paralyzing poisons, and there is nothing lethal or permanent about them. In fact, wouldn't the majority of STR and DEX damage poisons being almost painless as your nerves shut down and your body is made numb?But none of the damage is permanent, and the Con damage is no different from a Dagger from an in-game perspective.

hamishspence
2008-10-29, 04:24 PM
Complete Adventurer Ninja class is Alignment- Any.

Actually, its closer to being blood drained by a vampire. Or some other creature that does Con damage, not drain.

DiscipleofBob
2008-10-29, 04:28 PM
But none of the damage is permanent, and the Con damage is no different from a Dagger from an in-game perspective.

I know I'm playing devil's advocate here, but the CON damage would be different in that with a dagger from an in-game perspective, you know how much damage you're dealing: 1d4+Str+whatever+maybe Sneak Attack. CON damage does damage based on the opponent's hit dice, which could be a little or could be a lot. You could very easily kill someone accidentally if you were using CON damage (which, if you WERE trying to keep them alive, would beg the question of why you were using CON damage poison :smallsmile: )


Complete Adventurer Ninja class is Alignment- Any.

Really? I'll have to check that when I get home. However, it wouldn't be the first thing from the Ninja class that seemed to change with the book. The first time I played one (yes, I was using Complete Adventurer, albeit a friend's copy) it only had 4+Int skill points, and when I finally bought a copy for myself, the Ninja has 6+Int skill points.

Starsinger
2008-10-29, 04:29 PM
I'm with Sstoopid, a Bloodletting (Bleeding? Blood-T-Death-Inducing? whatever the magic item that does con damage on strike) Weapon isn't evil.

[Sarcasm/Satire] As per the Druid? Yes. The Book of Exalted Deeds, a wonderful book, exists and gives good alternatives to poisons and diseases. So a Druid seeking to not be evil should have Wildshaped into a form that uses Ravages (or is it Afflictions?) instead of Poison, so there's no reason to assume your Druid wasn't trying to be evil by using poison. [/Sarcasm/Satire]

Tadanori Oyama
2008-10-29, 04:31 PM
So, the real question of this thread is: Wouldn't poison be considered a MORE morally acceptable alternative to straight up fighting if said poison was simply used to incapacitate enemies rather than killing them. I can see a good PC who hates violence and killing resort to using some sort of sleep poison on his foes rather than beating them with a sword until they're at 0 hit points, or even worse, taking that -4 penalty to make the damage nonlethal.

I wouldn't say it's MORE acceptable, morally. Better than killing people and certainly on terms with knocking them out. Either has problems. When using poisons there's the danger of an overdose and with fighting there's the danger of hurting them too much.

Anyway, I (as a DM) wouldn't call it evil to put them under for awhile with a poison.

How would someone who hates violence be an adventurer?

golentan
2008-10-29, 04:31 PM
This jibes well with a question I had. I'm designing a tainted-one character, and they have poison (con damage) as both an extraordinary quality and as the spell as a SLA. Is the character evil if they use their natural abilities?

Riffington
2008-10-29, 04:32 PM
Except every consumable substance is poisonous in sufficient quantities.


Not by RAW :p

hamishspence
2008-10-29, 04:32 PM
I like much of the non-crunch parts of the book, but tend to chuck out the Poison Is evil line, because later written books that list evil acts, don't list poison.

EDIT:
about the hates violence- very easily- if they consider bashing target into unconsciousness with Non-lethal damge to Not Count. There are people who play with Vow of Nonviolence, or even Vow of Peace. Not sure how popular they are with their fellow players though.

Swordguy
2008-10-29, 04:36 PM
Not by RAW :p

I refer you to my first statement:



It all comes down to how much of a RAWtard that the GM/players tend to be.

UserClone
2008-10-29, 04:37 PM
I think that as far as Exalted alignments go, most poisons are probably morally questionable enough to cause you to lose your exalted feats, though maybe not change your actual alignment, if you use them enough. They cause undue suffering, as represented by the loss of ability scores, unlike nonlethal damage. I guess I am the only one who agrees, if tenuously and peripherally, with the BoED on that.

Swordguy
2008-10-29, 04:39 PM
[Sarcasm/Satire] As per the Druid? Yes. The Book of Exalted Deeds, a wonderful book, exists and gives good alternatives to poisons and diseases. So a Druid seeking to not be evil should have Wildshaped into a form that uses Ravages (or is it Afflictions?) instead of Poison, so there's no reason to assume your Druid wasn't trying to be evil by using poison. [/Sarcasm/Satire]

...

What animals use Ravages/Afflictions/Whatever-that's-a-poison-in-all-but-name-but-actually-isn't-a-poison-for-rules-purposes? I don't recall any offhand.

hamishspence
2008-10-29, 04:40 PM
Which requires you to say "some ability damage causes undue suffering, some doesn't" given several spells without Evil descriptor cause ability damage.

Thats without going into ravages, positoxins, the Poison spell, or Good subtype outsiders with a poison attack.

Riffington
2008-10-29, 04:41 PM
It all comes down to how much of a RAWtard that the GM/players tend to be.

Ok, fair enough. But then if you are using common sense, you can say "it's not using 'something that could be poisonous' that's evil. It's using something as a poison that's evil." If alcohol kills slug-men but makes Dwarves happy, then it's good to give it to Dwarves, and evil to give it to slug-men. It might even be good to give humans two drinks but evil to inject them with forty. I'm not sure I see the issue there...

erikun
2008-10-29, 05:44 PM
I can see a problem, but not with the poison.

As others have said, poison is more of a weapon than a demon: it matters what you do with it, not that you use it. I think the biggest problem with most poisons is that they tend to be quite painful. While nobody dies at Dex 0, having all the muscles in your body lock up can be terribly agonizing. If you want a "good" poison, you'll probably want to specify that it causes numbness.

The issue that I'm seeing is that the town guard either pays off the criminals or intentionally throws them into another town for execution. That smacks of the "your problem now" solution of CNness, not good and certainly not lawful. Plus, I seriously wonder how such a society could run, while paying thousands of thieves to dine in resorts year-round. (And really, if you had the option, why would you steal when people give you their food already?) As such, while the poison may not be evil itself, I doubt I'd be calling it's use very good.

Worira
2008-10-29, 06:29 PM
Using paralytic poisons is evil because it causes undue suffering, but flinging flasks of acid at people to slowly dissolve the flesh from their bones is fine? Seriously?

erikun
2008-10-29, 06:46 PM
Well, assuming the only two weapons you have are poison and acid, you're left with two choices: dissolve the flesh off their bones, or force their muscles to spasm uncontrollably until you're ready to dissolve the flesh off their bones.

After all, the question "Is poison evil?" is probably best answered with "Compared to what?"

Callos_DeTerran
2008-10-29, 07:12 PM
Acid=Temporary pain, over in six seconds barring extreme acids that have continuing damage over many rounds but even then, very temporary. Heck, the scarring is fixed with a simple cure spell.

Poison=Prolonged pain and easy to use spitefully in the same manner of curses. (See BoVD on that, it's a good example of why villian's curse and why poison might be used) and can take much longer to heal (thus more pain) barring the approbiate and generally higher level clerical magic (abit not by much).

Ravages/Afflictions=This is the part that people seem to forget when they rant about 'why make an exactly the same version of of poison but say it's good' is that they AREN'T the same. Poisons that cause ability damage are generally very painful, exceptions do exist though and this could be the case. Ravages (good poisons) only affect evil and are utterly painless. Granted, been awhile since I cracked BoED open so there might be some ravages that are painful but those are the exceptions, like painless poisons. That's why ravages are good-usable. They selectively only target evil and cause no suffering in their effects, if the target dies then they pass on peacefully and without pain.

monty
2008-10-29, 07:17 PM
Ravages/Afflictions=This is the part that people seem to forget when they rant about 'why make an exactly the same version of of poison but say it's good' is that they AREN'T the same. Poisons that cause ability damage are generally very painful, exceptions do exist though and this could be the case. Ravages (good poisons) only affect evil and are utterly painless. Granted, been awhile since I cracked BoED open so there might be some ravages that are painful but those are the exceptions, like painless poisons. That's why ravages are good-usable. They selectively only target evil and cause no suffering in their effects, if the target dies then they pass on peacefully and without pain.


...ravages and afflictions, magical traumas that turn the moral corruptions of evil creatures into physical corruption that wracks their bodies.

Yes, that sounds totally painless...:smallconfused:

Quotes from some of the descriptions:
"sickens creatures it affects"
"grow progressively weaker from hunger"
"feel its cold spreading throughout their bodies"

Starsinger
2008-10-29, 07:36 PM
...

What animals use Ravages/Afflictions/Whatever-that's-a-poison-in-all-but-name-but-actually-isn't-a-poison-for-rules-purposes? I don't recall any offhand.

It was more of a satire on a certain political/religious point of view that I found applicable to the situation, which to avoid breaching forum rules I shan't bring up.

Swordguy
2008-10-29, 07:51 PM
It was more of a satire on a certain political/religious point of view that I found applicable to the situation, which to avoid breaching forum rules I shan't bring up.

No, I understood the tags. But it sounded like there actually was a creature that used Ravages instead of poisons, in which case there'd be an argument for that (and makes the satire stronger).

If there's not, though, then it's a valid question. Along with "What about an awakened snake? Are they automatically evil?"

monty
2008-10-29, 08:05 PM
No, I understood the tags. But it sounded like there actually was a creature that used Ravages instead of poisons, in which case there'd be an argument for that (and makes the satire stronger).

If there's not, though, then it's a valid question. Along with "What about an awakened snake? Are they automatically evil?"

Interestingly, purified couatl venom is listed as a ravage in BoED.

Starsinger
2008-10-29, 08:14 PM
If there's not, though, then it's a valid question. Along with "What about an awakened snake? Are they automatically evil?"

Yes, having poison as a natural ability is a choice.

Swordguy
2008-10-29, 08:18 PM
Yes, having poison as a natural ability is a choice.

In that case, I stand by my first post in this thread, with an added:

http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n294/wolffe42/facepalm2ic7copyrl2.jpg

Starsinger
2008-10-29, 08:33 PM
Now of course, I realize that it's not a choice, and so I don't penalize the use of natural poison. Of course I prefer not really using alignment so I don't penalize the use of unnatural poisons either.

DiscipleofBob
2008-10-29, 08:36 PM
The issue that I'm seeing is that the town guard either pays off the criminals or intentionally throws them into another town for execution. That smacks of the "your problem now" solution of CNness, not good and certainly not lawful. Plus, I seriously wonder how such a society could run, while paying thousands of thieves to dine in resorts year-round. (And really, if you had the option, why would you steal when people give you their food already?) As such, while the poison may not be evil itself, I doubt I'd be calling it's use very good.

The way the system is set up, coupled with Majenda's ties with other less scrupulous organizations, it's really less than a hundred criminals a year. The thing is all the locals make their living off the economy and are at least somewhat aware that there's an unknown justice in the town. Professional thieves have ties with international organizations and guilds that forbid activity in Rosewood due to negotiations and "perks" from Majenda, so this just leaves bandits (which are an outside problem and the responsibility of the country's military), and small-time newbies, who are negotiated with, not just straight bought up, and usually out of Majenda's own pocket so the money goes back into the economy and helps the populace out as well. By stopping crime before it's committed, there's no example to follow in Rosewood. Criminals don't really profit from the place as most of the bribes are closer to coupons or gift certificates (and Majenda can be VERY persuasive), so smart criminals realize quickly at least on a subconscious level that you can't make a criminal profit in Rosewood because no one has before, and bought off criminals get a good dinner and some nice relaxation, but spend all their given money in Rosewood so they end up leaving with only contentment. The only people who end up being sent to other cities are extreme repeat offenders or people who can't be negotiated with (such as aspiring serial murderers and the like), in which case they are sent away and put to a fair trial in another city.

I also didn't mention it before because I felt it irrelevant to the question at hand, but Rosewood's primary tourist demographic are couples getting married, with a huge, prominent cathedral with 4 chapels for multiple services/weddings to take place at the same time.

I realize this may not be the most realistic economy, but Rosewood is a fantasy setting city and does have an interesting theme for the PC's to explore. Think something like a combination of Marrymore from Super Mario RPG or Golden Saucer from Final Fantasy VII. The concept of a secret elite undercover town guard hiding among the crowd only adds more possible plot hooks, especially with "problem" PC's. :smallbiggrin:

Swordguy
2008-10-29, 08:42 PM
Now of course, I realize that it's not a choice, and so I don't penalize the use of natural poison. Of course I prefer not really using alignment so I don't penalize the use of unnatural poisons either.

Oh, sorry. I wasn't clear - the facepalm is aimed at WotC, not you. :smallredface:

Asbestos
2008-10-29, 08:50 PM
...

What animals use Ravages/Afflictions/Whatever-that's-a-poison-in-all-but-name-but-actually-isn't-a-poison-for-rules-purposes? I don't recall any offhand.

This actually got me curious so I opened up the BoED and... none of the monsters in the book have Ravages (though a holy frog swarm does hit you with an affliction if you're evil) But! I did discover that one of the good outsiders in that book has Prismatic Spray as a spell-like ability. Is the CON damaging poison ray evil? If so... does that mean that said being commits an evil act when it rolls up Green?

Starsinger
2008-10-29, 08:55 PM
This actually got me curious so I opened up the BoED and... none of the monsters in the book have Ravages (though a holy frog swarm does hit you with an affliction if you're evil) But! I did discover that one of the good outsiders in that book has Prismatic Spray as a spell-like ability. Is the CON damaging poison ray evil? If so... does that mean that said being commits an evil act when it rolls up Green?

Not just casting, but even having that as an SLA is obviously also a choice. So yes. :smalltongue: And here I thought EE said that 3.5 was a pillar of internal consistency...

Oracle_Hunter
2008-10-29, 09:55 PM
...

What animals use Ravages/Afflictions/Whatever-that's-a-poison-in-all-but-name-but-actually-isn't-a-poison-for-rules-purposes? I don't recall any offhand.

None that I can recall, but I would happily allow any Celestial poison-using animals to have Ravages instead :smalltongue:

(yes, I know there are no such summoned animals, but that is just a matter of applying templates)

TheCountAlucard
2008-10-29, 10:07 PM
Now, RAW, using poison is unquestionably evil.

No offense intended here, but no, it isn't, at least, not in the core books.* The only restriction is that a paladin can't use it, or he will lose his powers. Whoop-de-doo, a paladin will also be unable to use his powers if he gets a good-sized arrow rammed through his skull.

There's nothing evil about poison in D&D. Most of them aren't even capable of causing death. I'd be more inclined to say that it is simply viewed as a highly dishonorable thing to do. Go ahead and use your poison and don't worry about alignment.








*BoVD and BoED can go hang. Seriously.

Recaiden
2008-10-29, 10:09 PM
The argument being that poison causes undue suffering, but many other things do not. I disagree and think that poison is no more evil than any other weapon. Go ahead and use it, especially knockout type poisons.

Ravens_cry
2008-10-29, 10:16 PM
As I said in an earlier thread, I consider poisons to be 'force multipliers' increasing your effectiveness in combat. Sure, many of them can be very nasty, but a sword through the gut isn't? I wouldn't call them good,but I wouldn't call them evil. They are a tool. Nothing more, and nothing less. In short, neutral.

Devils_Advocate
2008-10-29, 10:34 PM
Now, RAW, using poison is unquestionably evil.
As you may have gathered by now, this is actually extremely questionable. At the very least, for poison to be especially Evil, you have to be ridiculous about what Evil alignment is, how poison works in D&D, or both.


The rationale for this decision (or at least I assume) is that poison is an unhonorable, backstabby sort of thing.
That makes it Chaotic, not Evil.


Poisoning the king's cup of wine to kill him and do whatever is definitely an evil act.
That really depends on the king. And the prince, if you see what I'm getting at. :smallamused: Unless you wanna take the view that killing is always Evil.


So, the real question of this thread is: Wouldn't poison be considered a MORE morally acceptable alternative to straight up fighting if said poison was simply used to incapacitate enemies rather than killing them. I can see a good PC who hates violence and killing resort to using some sort of sleep poison on his foes rather than beating them with a sword until they're at 0 hit points, or even worse, taking that -4 penalty to make the damage nonlethal.
Even the Book of Exalted Dumb says that poisons that only cause unconsciousness ain't evil. It's doing ability damage that's awfulnastybad.

And if just knocking someone out is somehow dishonorable, that would make the sleep spell at least as dishonorable as knockout poison. Maybe more so, because it's probably easier most of the time. But only a society with a stick way up its collective ass is gonna expect anyone to follow a whole bunch of Rules of Honorable Combat in self-defense or the apprehension of criminals, anyway. That stuff is for consensual duels. The main concern with regard to criminals is to not be unjustifiably inhumane. (What's justifiable will depend on the crime, obviously.) Disabling without harming should be considered laudable by all but the most vindictive and/or Lawful Retentive individuals.

Also useful for this are saps, nets, and a few other nonlethal weapons detailed in the BoED (which is hardly completely worthless, just frequently absurd).

While we're on the subject of poisons: You may have noticed that how poisons work in D&D is a little silly. There's an instantaneous all-or-nothing effect, followed by another one exactly 1 minute later. If you want to homebrew a knockout poison of your own, I recommend requiring a rising series of Fort saves, starting low, made once per round. First failed save causes fatigue, second exhaustion, third nappy time.


I think that as far as Exalted alignments go, most poisons are probably morally questionable enough to cause you to lose your exalted feats, though maybe not change your actual alignment, if you use them enough. They cause undue suffering, as represented by the loss of ability scores, unlike nonlethal damage. I guess I am the only one who agrees, if tenuously and peripherally, with the BoED on that.
Are Exalted characters banned from doing lethal damage, though? I couldn't find that rule, but if that's the case, then the poison thing does make sense. It's only a problem if stabbing people or setting them on fire is still allowed, since then it raises the obvious question of how the suffering caused by those means is any more "due" than that caused by poison.

... And it looks like it is implicitly allowed, since the BoED's section on nonlethal weapons doesn't say that it's presenting the only Good option, unlike its section on ravages and afflictions. But honestly, upon reflection, banning Exalted characters from doing lethal damage would make a fair bit of sense, since there are plenty of less painful ways to bring down foes. So I guess that's actually the sensible take on the RAW, here.

Mewtarthio
2008-10-29, 10:43 PM
Alucard beat me to it: Poisons are not evil. The only implication that poison is evil is in the Paladin code:

Code of Conduct
A paladin must be of lawful good alignment and loses all class abilities if she ever willingly commits an evil act.

Additionally, a paladinís code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.
It's a subpoint under "act with honor," right alongside "not lying" and "not cheating." Lying and cheating are not evil. They are usually chaotic, but not evil. In fact, the entire second paragraph is about the "lawful" portion of the Paladin code; the "good" portion is completely covered under "loses all class abilities if she ever willingly commits an evil act" clause. Poison use is no more evil than disobeying a superior's orders.

EDIT: Regarding "ability damage is evil": Have you ever been so sick that you couldn't leave your bed? That's probably what having ability damage feels like (note also that you wouldn't have to necessarily take them all the way down to zero: These are mostly bandits and small-time crooks, after all, and they're likely to surrender before it comes to that). Now, have you ever had a large piece of metal shoved through your torso? ...Well, I haven't, but I'm sure it's very uncomfortable, and I'd rather take the former option if I were given a choice.

icefractal
2008-10-29, 10:45 PM
Yeah, poison as evil is one of the less sensical things out there - luckily it isn't a core rule at all, and only appears in one optional supplement.

As for why it makes no sense, two words: Acid Fog. If making a cloud of acid that dissolves the foes skin and lungs isn't evil, then poison sure isn't. As for long term effect - what long term effects? Poison is only active for one minute, which is shorter than many spells. And the ability damage takes no longer than HP damage to heal if you're doing it naturally.

As for why the concept even exists in the first place - one theory:
1) Knights were a major unit of military power in the medieval period.
2) Poison undermines the advantage of knights - an untrained peasant with poison can kill a highly trained knight with expensive equipment.
3) Thus poison threatens the power balance, and is dishonorable - ditto crossbows for a while, ditto guns in feudal Japan.
4) The Paladin is to a large extent based on the knight, and thus would consider poison dishonorable.
5) Paladins being exemplars of good, it's natural to think of things they dislike as evil.
6) Some uses of poison - like poisoning the village's water supply - are, in fact, evil (although no more so than personally killing off everyone in the village).

TheCountAlucard
2008-10-29, 10:50 PM
I'd actually like to take this opportunity to point out the Tome of Necromancy, Tome of Fiends, Dungeonomicon, Races of War, etc., articles. They cover a lot of this stuff, and they do it in a way that is both more humorous and more eloquent than I would bother to attempt.

Jack Zander
2008-10-29, 11:39 PM
Knockout poisons would still be illegal due to their effectiveness in rape. Their use for such an act would be evil, but I agree, poisons shouldn't inherently be evil.

RPGuru1331
2008-10-29, 11:41 PM
Knockout poisons would still be illegal due to their effectiveness in rape. Their use for such an act would be evil, but I agree, poisons shouldn't inherently be evil.

Sleep spells.

Talic
2008-10-30, 12:21 AM
Provided poisons only cause sleep, they are not evil RAW. By BOED, only poisons that cause ABILITY DAMAGE are evil. Thus, Drow poison? Non-evil to use.

And yes, it is a viable alternative to combat. In fact, it may even be used in some cultures as a sleep-aid for the wealthy.

Though if you really want a good poison, look into the mockery of logic that is a ravage.

Riffington
2008-10-30, 08:56 AM
Where are people drawing a distinction between manufactured and natural poisons?

Where does it say it is not an evil act for a Good creature with a natural poison attack to use that poison attack?

hewhosaysfish
2008-10-30, 09:22 AM
Consider these situations:

1) Andy has lost his job. The rent is due and so is his third child. That night, he breaks into the candlemakers three streets across and takes the cashbox.
2) Bob hasn't had a drink since this morning and it's starting to get dark. He's sweating and his hands are shaking. He stops a man in the street and asks for change but is ignored. So he pulls a knife and asks again.
3) Catherine is the dutiful housewife. She's making the bed when she finds an item of ladies underwear fallen between the bed and the wall. She doesn't recognise it as something of hers; it's far too risque. That night, she serves up a delicious casserole... with an extra special ingredient in her husband's portion.


How you predict these crimes ahead of time? And how does a coupon to a spa prevent any of them?

hamishspence
2008-10-30, 09:46 AM
I've checked 3.0 and 3.5 DMG, neither lists using poison as an evil act, in section on poison. They do say selling it is always illegal.

I figure that, when PHB DMG, Champions of Ruin, Vile Darkness, Exemplars of Evil, Fiendish Codex 2, all discuss evil acts, and none mention poisons, and Dragon mag Paladin guide says Poisons are forbidden, ravages not, but doesn't call it an evil act, all that weighed together, outweighs the one mention in BoED. Especially when several of these are post-BoED.

I wouldn't disallow the book (I Like the book) but the solution to contradictions is to go with majority of books and what Core says.

As for the others- theft to help others combines altruism (good) and theft (evil by BoVD) I'd say very small act of evil that wouldn't much change alignment. Fiendish codex lists Stealing From the Needy as a corrupt act, so by implication, just stealing is rather less evil (but not neutral)

Theft out of personal need lacks the mitigating factors. Add to that the threat of unjustified violence and i'd say more evil.

Murder (but provoked) is still murder- a Corrupt act close to the top of the scale. Putting it in food shows premediation, enough to put it into Cold Blooded Murder.

Had she walked in on them making love, whipped gun from her hip, and blew both of them away, that would be simple murder, and if she could prove balance of her mind was deranged, might even move it to manslaughter.

kamikasei
2008-10-30, 10:04 AM
Now, RAW, using poison is unquestionably evil. The rationale for this decision (or at least I assume) is that poison is an unhonorable, backstabby sort of thing. Poisoning the king's cup of wine to kill him and do whatever is definitely an evil act.

So, the real question of this thread is: Wouldn't poison be considered a MORE morally acceptable alternative to straight up fighting if said poison was simply used to incapacitate enemies rather than killing them.

It should be considered more morally acceptable to incapacitate (temporarily, too!) someone than to kill them, assuming that at least incapacitating them is for some reason necessary or desireable. The problem, or part of the problem, I think is that it's not chivalrous to do certain things, like use poison, and because paladins who are required to be chivalrous in various ways are also paragons of good, things that have nothing to do with good or evil get falsely associated with them based on what paladins are allowed to do.

There's also a degree of unwarranted confusion of different types of poison; many problems associated with secretly poisoning someone's food (it's underhanded, there's a risk of an innocent party being poisoned instead, etc.) don't apply to coating a blade in a paralytic to make your hits more telling. Sure it might not be "fighting fair", but fighting fair has little to do with good or evil; heroes may traditionally have to fight fair while villains cheat, but for a person working towards a good end to take every advantage over the people he has to overcome is only sensible, assuming those advantages don't rely on evil themselves. You could say using poison to gain an advantage is evil if poison is evil, but poison can't be evil simply because it grants you an advantage.

And that's the other point of confusion; Wizards seems to alternate between reasoning from principles and reasoning by examples, so that a whole bunch of things are deemed good or evil based on whether they're archetypally heroic or villainous, even though "heroic" and "villainous" are not the only two options available and clearly do not map onto "good" and "evil" in any terribly useful way. Poison use, necromancy, etc. are evil because bad guys do them, or because they have some horrible effect (unnecessary pain, binds a soul, etc.), or both at once and at different times (even when a worse effect is not automatically evil).


INT, WIS, and CHA damage I can see as evil because that messes up your mind and probably does brain damage.

I don't see any necessary reason to consider them worse than, say, a drug that messes with your head and stays in effect until your system flushes it out (damage which heals over time). "Brain damage" I think is taking it too far. They're certainly not nice, but nor is most of what you might do to an enemy in combat. (Is an Int poison so much worse than Ray of Enfeeblement? It's longer lasting but not permanent.)

hamishspence
2008-10-30, 10:07 AM
Legend by David Gemmell covered poison use in a duel. Basically, it was a slow, deadly poison. When duel was declared, Druss, no matter how good he was, was doomed- was virtually impossible to avoid being cut at least once. Over next few days, began rotting from inside out, till he sacrificed himself in battle rather than die slowly.

kamikasei
2008-10-30, 10:21 AM
Legend by David Gemmell covered poison use in a duel. Basically, it was a slow, deadly poison. When duel was declared, Druss, no matter how good he was, was doomed- was virtually impossible to avoid being cut at least once. Over next few days, began rotting from inside out, till he sacrificed himself in battle rather than die slowly.

Well, this sounds like a Con poison, which lends itself much more readily than other kinds to evil as it can actually kill. It also doesn't behave like a D&D poison - more like a disease.

If you're fighting a duel over a point of honour, obviously it's bad and wrong to set things up so that even if you're soundly beaten your opponent will probably die soon after. A duel is exactly the kind of place where fighting fair is important.

On the other hand, assuming the existence of a poison that works like this, I don't think its use is automatically evil. Say you have to prevent some terrible event (e.g. the opening of a gate to hell which will unleash one million demons on the material plane). There is one evil priest capable of performing the ritual, and you have a window of, say, a month before the ritual becomes possible (phases of the moon, migration of ley lines, whatever). This is a pretty standard adventure hook and few would say it's evil to go, kick this priest's ass, and kill him to prevent the ritual. But if you're not a hero or a PC, just a good person who wants to save the world, is it evil to use a poison such as you describe to ensure that even if you can barely scratch the guy, or can only snipe at him from afar because his defenses are so good, etc., he'll nonetheless die before being able to perform the ritual? I would say no.

hamishspence
2008-10-30, 10:51 AM
D&D poisons act with OTT speed- killing within a minute is incredibly rare. So are d20 Modern poisons- real ones are much slower.

kamikasei
2008-10-30, 10:56 AM
D&D poisons act with OTT speed- killing within a minute is incredibly rare. So are d20 Modern poisons- real ones are much slower.

I'm aware of that and it doesn't affect my point.

Asbestos
2008-10-30, 11:04 AM
D&D poisons act with OTT speed- killing within a minute is incredibly rare. So are d20 Modern poisons- real ones are much slower.

Some are, some aren't, a lot of it is dose dependent. These poisons that characters are putting on weapons are not a poison like Arsenic, I think that they are probably more sarin-like. I think that the most unrealistic thing about D&D poisons is that they don't have effects that scale with dosage.

Jack Zander
2008-10-30, 11:05 AM
Sleep spells.

What do sleep spells have to do with my post?

hamishspence
2008-10-30, 11:05 AM
I could certainly see non-Con poisons being seen as less evil. The thing is though, real poisons are likely to be more like Con+Dex, or Con+Str, since with deadly paralysing agent the lungs are paralysed.

Though I suppose some might paralyse external muscles only- the limbs, leaving heart and lungs alone.

Fishy
2008-10-30, 11:08 AM
Y'know, the traditional argument against poison is that swords and spells take years of training to master, but any Joe Serf who gets his hands on the right poison can kill whoever he likes.

But then there's that 5% chance of killing yourself horribly if you touch the stuff without Assassin or Ninja levels.

kamikasei
2008-10-30, 11:09 AM
Are we discussing the morality of RL poisons, D&D poisons, both at once, or what? Saying that the poisons in the SRD are evil because poisons in real life behave a certain way is not very useful. Nor is saying that all poisons which cause ability damage are evil because those that damage one of the six abilities can cause death. Dex 0 or Str 0 does not mean "heart no longer beats".


Y'know, the traditional argument against poison is that swords and spells take years of training to master, but any Joe Serf who gets his hands on the right poison can kill whoever he likes.

An argument that clearly can't lead anywhere good if applied in D&D.

kamikasei
2008-10-30, 11:13 AM
What do sleep spells have to do with my post?

What you were saying about knockout poisons applies equally to anything that can render someone unconscious.

hamishspence
2008-10-30, 11:13 AM
Annoyingly, Drizzt makes that argument in the Icewind Dale trilogy compilation- about smokepowder- since I only had the first 3 books, I didn't get exposed to his dubious moralizing till after I had read Dark Elf Trilogy, which, while it has some moralizing, the moralizing isn't nearly so bad.

pjackson
2008-10-30, 11:35 AM
Are Exalted characters banned from doing lethal damage, though?

No, not unless they take a particular vow.

My take on the issue.
According to the PHB Paladins can not use poison because it is not honorable, and that is entirely reasonable.
Poisons themselves are not evil, unless created using some evil magic, or extracted from particular evil creatures whose evil empowers the poison.
Using poison can be evil, just like using a sword.
Good characters who do not care as much about honor as Paladins do can use poisons, if they are careful.
Ravages are better in that they can not affect the innocent.

Krrth
2008-10-30, 11:41 AM
As I've said earlier, I think poison use *should* be evil, but that the mechanics behind it are not implimented very well.

Poisons, in general, take a while to work. They can cause pain, sickness, and perment damage. D&D poisons usually do not.

Poisons I would not consider to be evil would cause either HP damage, save vs/ death, or save vs /paralysis. That's IMO, of course.

hamishspence
2008-10-30, 11:46 AM
Vile Darkness has a list of "psychic poisons" which might qualify for Created With Evil Magic.

Jack Zander
2008-10-30, 11:48 AM
What you were saying about knockout poisons applies equally to anything that can render someone unconscious.

Thank you captain obvious. Using a sleep spell isn't evil, but using it for evil is. That's all I really said.

hamishspence
2008-10-30, 11:52 AM
Even BoED admits Using A Sleep Poison (not a ravage- a poison) isn't evil.

So, an Exalted character can use poison, but a Paladin, by strictest ruling, cannot without committing at least a minor violation of his code (may not lead to fall)

Isn't Alignment Fun? :smallwink:

kamikasei
2008-10-30, 12:46 PM
Thank you captain obvious.

Think nothing of it. Your appreciation makes it all worthwhile.


Using a sleep spell isn't evil, but using it for evil is. That's all I really said.

I'm not RPGuru and won't presume to speak for him, but I read his post as referring to this part of yours:


Knockout poisons would still be illegal due to their effectiveness in rape.

You weren't singling out poisons as the only thing which can render someone unconscious which aren't evil in themselves, but do you make other effects such as sleep spells illegal in your games?

Jack Zander
2008-10-30, 09:23 PM
You weren't singling out poisons as the only thing which can render someone unconscious which aren't evil in themselves, but do you make other effects such as sleep spells illegal in your games?

To be honest, I don't think you could rape someone under a sleep spell anyway, since rigorous motion wakes them up. That said, most all spells probably should be illegal (what good can come of magic missile?). Poisons are illegal because of their ease of use. Any Joe Shmoe can poison up a dart or a drink and have a good time for a night. Not every Joe Shmoe can cast sleep, but those who can cast sleep probably won't stay out of trouble for very long if they are slinging around their spells in the middle of town. I guess my point is:

Do you make other effects such as swinging swords around in town illegal in your games?

Coidzor
2008-10-30, 09:42 PM
Are you familiar with Ankh-Morpork? Some of the features (the thieves guild as more of a tax for quietly making sure those who commit theft disappear) seem more workable for your town. Might also consider the fact that the entire resort town is on the payroll of the tourist interests, so that it's not so much that no one sees these things, but that there's a wide amount of collusion to keep the tourism business going.

Consider again that tourism spots such as Florida are fairly rife with crime, but some of this crime helps with the tourism in and of itself.

Another example you might draw upon for your secret police would be the veritable underground city of tunnels and secret entrances/exits beneath the Disney World park, so they can pretty much show up anywhere and disappear as easily as rounding a corner. Like... a clean sewer system that isn't accessible by non-initiates and isn't actually used as a sewer system (that stuff would be lower)

RPGuru1331
2008-10-31, 01:10 AM
What do sleep spells have to do with my post?

"Poisons should be evil; they can be used in rape!"

"So a sleep spell or a Sap should be evil?"


I'm not RPGuru and won't presume to speak for him, but I read his post as referring to this part of yours:
No, you pretty much got it right.

LurkerInPlayground
2008-10-31, 01:40 AM
Some are, some aren't, a lot of it is dose dependent. These poisons that characters are putting on weapons are not a poison like Arsenic, I think that they are probably more sarin-like. I think that the most unrealistic thing about D&D poisons is that they don't have effects that scale with dosage.
I think that's because there's only so much of a dose you can reasonably apply to a weapon or put in a drink. I always sort of assumed the poisons in the game were already quite concentrated. They're as powerful as you can make it already. This is only sensible, since these toxins are specifically manufactured as weapons.

It's just that even at that level of concentration, the poisons vary greatly in their toxicity. Cyanide is just going to be more potent than snake venom. No two ways about it. And it's certainly much more practical to put a few drops into somebody's drink than to pour in a quart of the stuff.

LurkerInPlayground
2008-10-31, 01:49 AM
To be honest, I don't think you could rape someone under a sleep spell anyway, since rigorous motion wakes them up. That said, most all spells probably should be illegal (what good can come of magic missile?). Poisons are illegal because of their ease of use. Any Joe Shmoe can poison up a dart or a drink and have a good time for a night. Not every Joe Shmoe can cast sleep, but those who can cast sleep probably won't stay out of trouble for very long if they are slinging around their spells in the middle of town. I guess my point is:

Do you make other effects such as swinging swords around in town illegal in your games?
Now you're just skirting the problem. Firstly, from a purely flavor perspective, the sleep spell causes deep unconsciousness. Secondly, it's effectiveness says nothing about whether you can abuse it for morally questionable things like rape. You can after all claim that poison might also not be "as effective" but it doesn't change the fact that you can still abuse it. The spell/poison/device/trick/etc might be hypothetically stronger or weaker than its intended purpose. The point is that there are other devices that are equally as potent as poisons for rendering a victim unconscious.

Likewise, nobles have tried to ban swords because they were afraid of the peasantry resisting their rule. This, in practice, wasn't always effective. Crossbows/guns have likewise been banned because of the "ease of use" argument. Because it deeply offended and threatened the warrior-castes (i.e. samurai, knights or whatever). Somehow, I still can't see you arguing that crossbows/swords are inherently evil merely because they were illegal at one time or another.

Basically, you're making a case on special pleading.

EDIT:
Also, arguing the whole "pain" angle is moot. Pain is usually very secondary to the need to be economical when you're trying to kill somebody/something that doesn't want to be killed and would certainly put up a fight if possible.

Going out of your way to cause excessive pain when there are easy and more economical alternatives is one thing: it's malicious and premeditated. But you're not really better off morally just because the method you happened to use to *kill something* happened to be less painful because you lucked out.

Afterall, it's hard to say with a straight-face that all poisons are equal in the pain that they cause. And it's really hard to make a cognizant decision of which method is the least painful way of destroying an enemy when you have little control of exactly how you've wounded an enemy.

I could easily just puncture somebody full of crossbow bolts and simply hound him until he dies of exposure in the wild. Definitely not a clean kill. And you can't always necessarily claim that you or your character might've had any knowledge that there was poison that would have really made his passing that much cleaner than you awkwardly wounding the fellow. The claim that poison is evil because it necessarily causes more pain is absurd.

A lot of it comes down to luck. When the nuclear warhead went off, did you vaporize instantly at ground zero? Or did you get caught on the edges and slowly die of cancer months afterward? The same goes for sword wounds. Did I bean you in the head? Did I cripple you for life? Did you slowly die of a nasty infection afterwards?

A good character would certainly give more consideration in *how* these tools are used and would try to minimize pain, but there's no guarantee.

Ravens_cry
2008-10-31, 02:02 AM
Remember the 'chloroform on the rag' trick from the old movies? Chloroform can be used either as a sleep 'poison' or as a general anesthetic. Heck, even curare, a paralyzing poison, has medical uses.
Poisons are tools, mostly used for engendering death in your foe. Weapons of War are tools, used mostly for engendering death in your foe. Though mechanics wise, they operate differently in Dungeons and Dragons, and other fantasy systems, morally I see no difference.
Power is power.
Tools are tools.

Death is death.