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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Invisible Queen's Avatar

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    Default Am I evil? (So to speak)

    I'll be the first to admit I don't know a whole lot about roleplaying systems. But they fascinate me and I want to learn more.

    What I want to know today is, what's the alignment of a person who decides to be evil for a greater good?

    Specifically, through a series of philosophical arguments, our hero realizes that the world needs evil to function at its best. An evil force bands people together, keeps them on their toes, advances the development of technology; and in addition it gives people something to fight, to focus their negative energy on - to keep them from hurting each other - and in the battle, in being close to death, people feel alive.

    Hiring an army and invading surrounding countries, or whichever way he decides to do evil things, have a lot of undeniably good results in a greater perspective.

    He does this even though it causes his deep personal pain to hurt people; and such a sacrifice for the greater good leads me to believe he's lawful good.

    But he causes a lot of damage to innocent people. That's clearly some form of evil.

    Or maybe he's true neutral, acting as a balancing force between good and evil.

    So what is he?
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Quote Originally Posted by Invisible Queen View Post
    So what is he?

    Sarcastic Answer: Chaotic Tedious.

    Longer answer - if your character decides that some kind of magical cosmic justice will cause all of his evil deeds to have good outcomes, then your character is just making up crap in order to justify himself.

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    I can see that, but it's not like he makes things up. The good results are very tangible, even if separate from himself. He knows his deeds in themselves don't have good outcomes, but he is not interested in justifying himself. He's willing to become a monster in order to save the world, to steal a line from "Preacher".

    Though I guess that still makes him evil, since he simply chooses, personally, to be evil.
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    *Gets the song 'Am I Evil' stuck in his head*

    If he truly believed that he is ultimately promoting 'good', then maybe he would be neutral. He's certainly not good. Actively and willingly causing pain and suffering is an evil act. His saving grace is that he doesn't do it for personal gain. Maybe.

    If you are the DM, then it's really your call. Most D&D games are pretty black and white and this type of question is generally avoided/not addressed. In a standard D&D game, this guy would definitely be evil. But in a standard D&D game, he wouldn't have such a complex motive.
    This could lead to an interesting role-play experience. Imagine the pc's (player characters) encountering the big bad evil guy only to find out he is not, in fact, evil.
    The thing that strikes me most, and is the crux in my opinion, is his 'sacrifice.' What he is really sacrificing is his morality in the name of good. Seems misguided to me. There is a saying that there are some mistakes you need a PhD to make. This sounds like one of those. Did he have this conversation with a disguised devil? Seems likely. Perhaps this devil is his personal advisor? This is giving me a great idea for a campaign. Thanks. :D
    Now, if this character is a pc, then it's up to the DM. I can't imagine many DM's letting him keep a good alignment though.

    As far as the Law vs. Chaos axis- give him what you want.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    It would be True Neutral, I believe. The true neutral that believes that a balance in alignments is good and healthy for the world, and strives to keep that balance intact at all times.

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Interesting points, guys. I guess alignments aren't all easy even for seasoned players.

    For the question, no, those philosophical arguments I mentioned was only in his head.
    Quote Originally Posted by Glittersamas View Post
    *Gets the song 'Am I Evil' stuck in his head*
    Hee hee, just as I planned. *cackle*
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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Psychologically speaking, only actual psychopaths consider their actions, as they commit them, evil. Normal, healthy people truly believe that what they're doing, even if their choice is in fact evil, is good.
    Do not meddle in the affairs of adventurers, for you are expendable and full of EXP.


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    Invisible Queen's Avatar

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Oh no, there's plenty of people who do things they consider evil. Why do you think Catholic priests have to hear confessions all the time?

    But then, I've heard all levels of psychological activity is madness. . .
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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    I think it depends on whether or not he's right. Unless there is indisputable evidence that he is right, then he's evil. Quick question, are you playing a Dragonlance campaign? The whole "there must be balance between good, evil, and neutral" thing is pretty important in the Dragonlance world, and I could see such a character arising in that situation. My personal opinion is that there will always be more than enough evil in the world, but it is up to the individual to choose not to participate.

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    Goblin

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Controlled Evil for the greater good? Sounds Lawful Evil to me. Especially if the character spends that much time rationalizing his position.

    Bear in mind, this is from a D&D perspective, where Evil is Evil.

    (Spoilers for the Eberron Campaign Setting follow, if you care)
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    A very good example of the character you're describing is King Kaius I, from the Eberron Campaign Setting. He literally became a monster to save the world. He became a vampire, imprisoned and replaced his grandson on the throne, and rules his nation with an iron fist. He's a monster, an impostor, a traitor, and a Machiavellian schemer, but he did it all to bring peace to the world and prosperity to his nation.

    Among the rulers of the warring Five Nations, he was the first to see the war as the pointless waste of life it was, and took the throne to lead the charge to the negotiating table, helping to end a hundred-year-long war. He had also seem the depraved and oppressive depths to which the previous, extremely popular state religion could sink, so he abolished it and established martial law partly in an effort to stamp it out.

    Kaius is Lawful Evil, but his heart's in the right place. Until someone stakes him.

    Now, compare this to Queen Aurala of a neighboring country, NG bastion of sweetness and light who wants to precipitate another massive war to spread her admittedly benevolent rule over the entire continent...
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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Quote Originally Posted by Viscount Einstrauss View Post
    Psychologically speaking, only actual psychopaths consider their actions, as they commit them, evil. Normal, healthy people truly believe that what they're doing, even if their choice is in fact evil, is good.
    Not necessarily, Viscount.
    When someone commits a certain evil act for the first time, they often know it was wrong and feel guilty. If they continue to do evil, then their mind will be at conflict and they will:
    A. rationalize how it is okay
    B. decide that they only care about what is "good" or satisfying for them
    C. cease their evil actions
    D. recognize that it is wrong but not have the willpower to stop
    Last edited by Genome; 2007-02-03 at 12:32 PM. Reason: Edited for quote
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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Quote Originally Posted by Woot Spitum View Post
    Quick question, are you playing a Dragonlance campaign? The whole "there must be balance between good, evil, and neutral" thing is pretty important in the Dragonlance world, and I could see such a character arising in that situation. My personal opinion is that there will always be more than enough evil in the world, but it is up to the individual to choose not to participate.
    I'm not playing anything, actually. Just writing a story. ^_^U
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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Quote Originally Posted by Invisible Queen View Post
    I'm not playing anything, actually. Just writing a story. ^_^U
    Oh. I guess then it would depend on whether or not evil is really necessary to the cosmic balance of your world. Now that I think about it though, I would have to conclude that the character would have to be evil. After all, if he is trying to shift the cosmic balance towards evil, wouldn't he have to be evil? Otherwise, his actions, since they are for the longterm good of humanity would actually contribute a "net good" to the world's alignment axis and thus have the exact opposite effect of his intentions.
    Last edited by Woot Spitum; 2007-02-03 at 12:49 PM.

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Quote Originally Posted by Invisible Queen View Post
    Hee hee, just as I planned. *cackle*
    "Yes, I *&$## AM!"

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    The "Balance" ideal is generally reserved to Druids, who view it as a sort of wolf/sheep-balance-of-nature kind of ideal. At times the balance must swing back and forth between good and evil, so long as the pendulum is never upset.

    It's really hard to judge your character without seeing specific examples. What behavior, exactly, is he condoning for the greater good here? Genocide? Repression of a populace? The murder of a single person? It's difficult to say, IMO, without more concrete details.

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    If you do an evil act to cause something good to happen, YOU ARE STILL DOING AN EVIL ACT.
    "Of course you should fight fire with fire. You should fight everything with fire." - Jaya Ballard, task mage

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Quote Originally Posted by Piedmon_Sama View Post
    It's really hard to judge your character without seeing specific examples. What behavior, exactly, is he condoning for the greater good here? Genocide? Repression of a populace? The murder of a single person? It's difficult to say, IMO, without more concrete details.
    All of the above. . . well, probably not genocide, not intentional anyway. Or, how precious is the race we're talking about here? Causing too much damage would be counter-productive to the plan. So we can assume he'll go as far as the size and population density of the world allows.
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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    But does that evil action make the PERSON evil?

    Think of Ozymandias in Watchmen. His actions are certainly evil, but it's questionable whether he is.

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    ElfMonkGuy

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    The "balance must be maintained!" outlook is precisely the 2'nd edition definition of True Neutral.

    So I'd call the guy neutral, _if_ he would be willing to do good when the balance he maintains demands it.

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Book of Exalted Deeds states that an Evil act done to a Good end is still a concession to Evil and thus shifts the cosmic balance in favor of Evil. I don't know what that means, but it sounds like a "Yes" to your question.

    I can't help but think of the Operative from Serenity, by the way.

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    I really like characters like this. A concept I have floating around in my head for a future character is someone who feels as though his past actions have already damned him, but still wants to do good so he hunts down and kills bad guys through whatever means necessary, since he doesn't care about his own personal salvation/morality anymore.

    I usually peg this type of character as some kind of Neutral, or in odd cases, Chaotic Good (heavy on the Chaotic, light on the Good).
    "Thrice-cursed spell resistance! It's almost like the universe itself is trying to deliberately force some form of arbitrary equality between those of us who can reshape matter with our thoughts and those who cannot."
    Nope, nothing to see here. Move along, citizen.

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Quote Originally Posted by Piedmon_Sama View Post
    It's really hard to judge your character without seeing specific examples. What behavior, exactly, is he condoning for the greater good here? Genocide? Repression of a populace? The murder of a single person? It's difficult to say, IMO, without more concrete details.
    I'd have to say that depending on the severity of the evils he's embracing, I'd put him somewhere on the LN-LE scale.

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    I think the D&D alignment system is much too limited to represent real (and complicated) personalities like this.
    I'd like to split my post in two parts: An attempt at a description of this person's alignment in D&D terms and my reasons for that and the second part my view on the personality this person could have and some interesting fictious characters.

    I think for a person to come to a decision like this they have to be very lawful and very wise (or extremely naive). I think this character would be LG when he takes the decision to start doing this. It would take an insane amount of character to not slowly slide towards evil while doing the evil acts needed for the greater good (the naive person would become bitter very quickly and become really evil). I think that anyone but the most strong-willed, stubborn person would slide towards evil while committing the gruesome acts. The rate of decline depends on the strength of the persons character.
    I think that as long that the character sticks to his fight, he will remain lawful. He might slide away from that too when he starts to lose faith in his struggle.
    Also, as long as he has some belief in his cause left, I think he won't become evil, just bitter and uncaring (neutral).

    Note that this assessment is NOT based on D&D morality, only on the descriptions of the alignments.

    On to the second part (some repeating here)
    The person undertaking a gargantuan mission like this must have very much confidence in himself (or, again, be very naive). He will probably have some idea of what he is about to do, so it is very likely that he already appears harsh, mechanical and bitter in most situations. A person like this will need to be able to 'switch off' his attachment to very basic survival instincts. He will need to be able to not be moved by the grief he causes, or at least remain strong in his belief that the grief is less important than his goal.
    He will need some way of letting the grief he causes slide past him, like being very bureaucratic, methodical and scientific (but other methods could be used).
    Also, think of a very good reason why this person is doing this. What makes him tick? How does he survive between all that sorrow? What makes it that he doesn't crack up when he sees the umpteenth molested child? How come he still has all his marbles after the so-many-th death he's caused? Or isn't he entirely sane? Note that almost every convicted murderer has a psychological disorder.
    How does he live with himself? How can he sleep at night?
    Also consider that it is quite likely that every single person in the world hates this man, the good hate him for the terrible deeds he does, the evil hate him for his motives, the neutrals will probably hate him on general principle...
    These are all questions you will need to answer before you can seriously consider a character like this (in a book or in an RPG).

    Possible inspirations: Spawn comes to mind, a deformed man back from hell who tries to right everything that is wrong. But demonic gear and other influences make his methods rather, well, direct. Miko (from OotS) could also be an inspiration in a "even the gods disagreed" kind of way.

    Good luck with your story, I hope it turns out well. You have a very interesting character running for you. If you come anywhere please tell us, I think I'll like this story very much!
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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Quote Originally Posted by goat View Post
    Think of Ozymandias in Watchmen. His actions are certainly evil, but it's questionable whether he is.
    That's just who this discussion reminded me of, too.

    Spoiler for those who haven't read Watchmen, but don't mind us giving away the ending for the sake of this discussion:

    Spoiler
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    Ozymandias is a genius, philanthropist, retired superhero, icon of enlightened progressive politics, and trusted friend and ally of most of the other main characters of the story. He also turns out to be the BBEG behind most of the story's horrific events, culminating in an apparent alien invasion that kills everyone in a large section of Manhattan.

    Thing is, his actions were calculated to head off an impending nuclear war by uniting the human race against his fake extraterrestial menace...and at the end of the story, it seems that he's done exactly that. To (approximately) quote one of the heroes who figured out his plans just barely too late to stop him, as she helplessly watches the aftermath play out: "So we just failed to stop you from saving the world?"

    And then she and the other good guys shut up and keep Ozy's secret. To expose him would undo none of the evil he's done, but would put the world back on a headlong path to Armageddon.

    The thing I've always found interesting about this character: it is hard to unequivocally call him evil...but only because his analysis of world events is apparently perfect. Had he taken the same actions but made a mistake in his logic -- if his crimes had not prevented the end of the world, although he fully believed they would -- then he'd be undeniably evil. Most writers hedge their bets by having the messianic psycopath turn out to be deluded in thinking he can save the world from itself...with Watchmen, you have to decide what to think of him if he actually can.

    My call in the end: Ozymandius is a despicable bastard. Anyone who tries to sling his style of moral calculus in real life, without the benefit of his apparently perfect foresight -- and many have tried -- is even more despicable. But in an RPG campaign, a villain like him would be a great twist: whether the good guys win or lose in the end, they're never sure which outcome would have been worse.
    Last edited by although; 2007-02-03 at 02:45 PM.

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    I have a question about the Watchmen scenario:
    Why do you think he's a bastard? I'd call him inhumane and psychotic, but in the end he is out to save the whole world. He is willing to make huge sacrifices, which aren't really personal sacrifices (although I think it is his own city?), but he's already made it: he has lots of money, fame, etc. Obviously a nuclear war could ruin that, so you could still accuse him of being selfish, but you can always do that if you want.
    Ein gutes Gedicht ist nicht dazu da, die Welt zu verbessern – es ist selbst ein Stück verbesserte Welt.

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Thanks, squishycube, that's some heavy analysis. And encouraging. ^_^

    I guess we can conclude that he starts out LG, but due to human weakness (which he has) he slides all the way to CE eventually.

    Now what's the rest of the thead supposed to be about? >_>
    Last edited by Invisible Queen; 2007-02-03 at 03:01 PM.
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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Now I would say that he's evil in the same way that a doctor who performs essential surgery without anasthetic is evil. IE Not evil at all, possibly even good. I'd think Lawful Good.
    So what if the doctor doesn't know acupuncture (spelling?)? Does not knowing a less painful way to help civilisation make him evil? No! It makes him a fool.


    If there is an obvious better way to do good however, he will be evil. If he is upset by his actions enough and goes overboard and starts valueing his operations above his patients then he becomes evil.



    The SRD says:


    "Good" implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.
    "Evil" implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.




    So, lets tick off the boxes:
    Altruism: Check, he dislikes causing suffering but does it for the sake of others anyway.
    Repect for life: I don't know, half and half "Being near death makes one feel alive"... Hmm...

    Dignity: I'd say- that depends on his methods.
    Sacrifice: Check, he sacrificed what, his whole potentially peaceful, puppy healing life for hurting others for their own good, that counts as one hack of a sacrifice in my books.


    Now for evi:
    Hurting: Check.
    Oppression:Check
    Killing:Check
    Lack of compassion: Nope
    Killing for Sport: Nope
    Killing for the Sake of Eeevil: Nope. He kills for the sake of gooood.

    So by RAW he is neutral tending towards evil. Although I must note, this gives the same results as for a paladin who clears the area of evil, puppy eating goblins by killing their men and ordering their women and children to relocate and never eat puppies again.

    So no, not really evil.
    "Glory to the madmen who go about life as if they were immortal! Glory to the brave, who dare to love, knowing that one day it will all come to an end!"
    ~The Wizard, An Ordinary Miracle.

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Quote Originally Posted by Invisible Queen View Post
    Now what's the rest of the thead supposed to be about? >_>
    Arguing about random stuff?

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Why CE? I can see the shift from G to E, but why the shift from L to C?

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    Default Re: Am I evil? (So to speak)

    Personally, I think that the idea of needing evil to keep the world 'in balance' is an horrific philosophical perversion used by 'in-the-closet' fantasy villains to justify their behavior.

    However, according to the alignment system, such a person has Good intentions but uses 'Evil methods'. I'd have to agree with the person who said Neutral bordering-on-Evil.

    Hmm... no wonder a lot of people have problems with the Alignment system.

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