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  1. - Top - End - #301
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    Segev's Avatar

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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    The extent to which there is an alliance between LE and LG Outsiders in D&D is massively exaggerated here though.
    That one exists formally at all is, I think, the point, but if we're arguing matters of degree, then we'll get nowhere, because it's also intentionally vague in official material in order to enable DMs to do what they wish with it.

  2. - Top - End - #302
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Sure. Evil doesn't mean "serial killer". Good doesn't mean "saint". There's a lot of room in between. 'Evil' people can have 'good' friends, even where they know each other's true nature. The big question is, "how far along are they"? Basically, Batman and Hannibal Lector are probably not going to get along very well if they know who/what each other are, but this isn't true of every pairing.

    Think back to Dr. Evil's quote to Scott: "You’re not quite evil enough. You’re semi-evil. You’re quasi-evil. You’re the margarine of evil. You’re the Diet Coke of evil. Just one calorie, not evil enough." Now, Scott was certainly evil in D&D terms, even in the first film. He had his reasons. But you could see a "good" character being friends with someone like Scott.

    Look at Kick-Ass and Red Mist. Red Mist is and always has been firmly in the "evil" camp. Kick-Ass is firmly "good". They still (legitimately) got along fine for a good portion of the film. Red Mist was legitimately distressed when his dad started torturing Kick-Ass.

    Another one is Tyrion and Bronn from GoT. Show Tyrion is pretty solidly in the "good" camp, and Bronn is pretty solidly "neutral evil". Tyrion and Bronn seem to understand each other's natures. They are legitimately friends and seem to genuinely like each other.
    Last edited by mistajames; 2021-01-22 at 12:05 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #303
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    It's worth looking at the old paladin rules, from 3e and before, when talking about what Good can/can't do. Because not all Good characters are paladins.

    Paladins are specifically called out as not being able to perform an evil act or associate with evil characters.

    This is called out as an exception, and in this case, the exception implies that other Good characters can do those things. Good characters can perform Evil acts (in some circumstances, rarely), and can associate with Evil characters.

    A lot of that will depend on the Evil character, and what they're doing. Cartoon Evil murdering everyone for looking at them strange? Psychopathic Evil killing for giggles? Probably not.

    Smart Evil that's just willing to cross some boundaries to get what they want? Even better, smart Evil that's smart enough to not do these things in a blatant way around the Good character? 100%. Doubly so if their medium-to-long term interests align.

    Another fictional example - in Firefly, Mal seems pretty much Chaotic Good. Jayne is some variation of Evil - probably Neutral or Chaotic, and I'd lean CE.

    They can be on the same team. Because it's in Jayne's best interests to do so, and he knows it. And Jayne ain't particularly bright, either.

    The biggest impediment to Good and Evil characters getting along is playing them as one-dimensional caricatures of "The Good Character" and "The Evil Character" rather than as fully-formed individuals that happen to best map to one of the nine alignments.
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  4. - Top - End - #304
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    .Another fictional example - in Firefly, Mal seems pretty much Chaotic Good. Jayne is some variation of Evil - probably Neutral or Chaotic, and I'd lean CE.

    They can be on the same team. Because it's in Jayne's best interests to do so, and he knows it. And Jayne ain't particularly bright, either.
    Also because Mal can and will kill Jayne if he steps put of line.

    Kinda like Roy and Belkar. Except without the graph showing Jayne's projected increasing Evil if he'd been left unchecked.

  5. - Top - End - #305
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Also because Mal can and will kill Jayne if he steps put of line.

    Kinda like Roy and Belkar. Except without the graph showing Jayne's projected increasing Evil if he'd been left unchecked.
    And it's worth noting that one of the big problems here is social contract abuse.

    IOW, the Evil player *knows* they won't be kicked out of the party and/or killed, and so they don't take that into account, and they leave their evil unchecked. This leads to a higher degree of problems than if the player thought that getting out of line with the rest of the party would cause them to be abandoned and/or killed.

    Jayne/Mal don't have that out-of-game social contract, and so Jayne has to consider that.
    Last edited by kyoryu; 2021-01-24 at 02:08 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #306
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Jayne never kills anyone that Mal didn't want him to kill, so it's not a very good parallel with Roy and Belmar. The one time Jayne betrays fellow party members he is obviously very conflicted about it. All of this points to Jayne not being actually evil, though he likes to think he is.

  7. - Top - End - #307
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post
    Jayne never kills anyone that Mal didn't want him to kill, so it's not a very good parallel with Roy and Belmar. The one time Jayne betrays fellow party members he is obviously very conflicted about it. All of this points to Jayne not being actually evil, though he likes to think he is.
    None of that is evidence of Jayne being non evil.

    At this point, I think the thread is full of sufficient examples to conclusively answer "Yes, Good and Evil characters can get along. Not all pairs will get along, but some can."
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2021-01-24 at 11:43 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #308
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    None of that is evidence of Jayne being non evil.

    At this point, I think the thread is full of sufficient examples to conclusively answer "Yes, Good and Evil characters can get along. Not all pairs will get along, but some can."
    I disagree.
    My position remains unchanged.
    Short term with a common goal, yes. Good can temporarily ignore some evil actions in service to the greater good and evil can temporarily suspend evil actions when working towards a specific goal that promises more of what they want.

    Long term, no. Either the evil character will have to stop doing evil things, and therefore no longer be evil; or the good character will have to stop caring that the evil character is doing evil things, and therefore no longer be good.

    Jayne is as much an example of this as Belkar. Both character's evil has been "softened" by an overbearing good leader until they no longer carry out evil actions anymore, but are just "neutral with an attitude."

  9. - Top - End - #309
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post
    Jayne is as much an example of this as Belkar. Both character's evil has been "softened" by an overbearing good leader until they no longer carry out evil actions anymore, but are just "neutral with an attitude."
    Both of them can and do continue to carry out evil actions when they're unsupervised. Their essential nature hasn't changed. It hasn't softened. They're just being restrained most of the time. They are: Chaotic Evil (with "I'll be killed if I don't do what I'm told" tendencies)

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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Both of them can and do continue to carry out evil actions when they're unsupervised. Their essential nature hasn't changed. It hasn't softened. They're just being restrained most of the time. They are: Chaotic Evil (with "I'll be killed if I don't do what I'm told" tendencies)
    Exactly.

    That's one of the traits of a chaotic evil society. They are all evil, but the ones toward the bottom of the social hierarchy are restrained out of fear of reprisal from their superiors.

    They aren't suddenly "neutral" because they aren't going on a killing spree.

  11. - Top - End - #311
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post
    Long term, no. Either the evil character will have to stop doing evil things, and therefore no longer be evil; or the good character will have to stop caring that the evil character is doing evil things, and therefore no longer be good.
    Perhaps this point has been discussed earlier in the thread (man, it's gotten long...) but I don't think someone's alignment changes just because they can no longer act on it for practical reasons. If the only reason someone stays in line is because they know their leader will kill them or abandon them if they don't, does that really make them any less evil? (I could see a case for such a development making them less Chaotic though, since it means they have to work on their restraint).

  12. - Top - End - #312
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    Perhaps this point has been discussed earlier in the thread (man, it's gotten long...) but I don't think someone's alignment changes just because they can no longer act on it for practical reasons. If the only reason someone stays in line is because they know their leader will kill them or abandon them if they don't, does that really make them any less evil? (I could see a case for such a development making them less Chaotic though, since it means they have to work on their restraint).
    Agreed. If the lack of ability to do evil actually changed alignment - then a demon that has been imprisoned is no longer evil.

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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    Perhaps this point has been discussed earlier in the thread (man, it's gotten long...) but I don't think someone's alignment changes just because they can no longer act on it for practical reasons. If the only reason someone stays in line is because they know their leader will kill them or abandon them if they don't, does that really make them any less evil? (I could see a case for such a development making them less Chaotic though, since it means they have to work on their restraint).
    Yes and no. Alignment in D&D describes a sort of average morality of the actions you take over time. Your attitude towards those actions is important, but not as important as the actions themselves. Do enough evil and you register as evil in spells that detect that sort of thing. Do evil and good in roughly equal amounts and you'll be neutral. Do too many good actions and you are good.

    If you don't perform evil actions because you are constantly kept in line by your more moral leader then you aren't evil until you do find the chance to perform evil actions, no matter how much you would like to do evil actions in the meantime.

    Belkar can talk about how evil he still is, and how he's only faking being a team player all he wants to, but if he doesnt actually do anything evil anymore then it's just talk, and he no longer really has an evil alignment.

    I don't think Jayne was ever evil in the first place, really. More "neutral with evil tendancies."

  14. - Top - End - #314
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    That depends on if you think alignment is motivational, or merely a label.

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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Democratus View Post
    Agreed. If the lack of ability to do evil actually changed alignment - then a demon that has been imprisoned is no longer evil.
    A demon is something of a special case. According to the 3e Fiend books they are basically someone who already lived a life evil enough to be damned to the Abyss and then did a large number of evil acts to be promoted up to their current form from the lower demons. They are basically made of evil, and it would take a very long time not doing any evil actions to no longer read as evil to a detect evil spell or for a DM to say an alignment change has occurred.

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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post
    Yes and no. Alignment in D&D describes a sort of average morality of the actions you take over time. Your attitude towards those actions is important, but not as important as the actions themselves. Do enough evil and you register as evil in spells that detect that sort of thing. Do evil and good in roughly equal amounts and you'll be neutral. Do too many good actions and you are good.
    This depends entirely on the particular game.

    In D&D 5e, alignment "broadly describes its moral and personal attitudes."

    You can be evil and be stymied from committing evil acts. An unrepentant convicted prisoner doesn't become good because they are locked away.

    The arch-demon Valgorx the Destructor doesn't become neutral just because it is encased in a glacier and unable to visit its evil upon the planes.
    Last edited by Democratus; 2021-01-25 at 03:54 PM.

  17. - Top - End - #317
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post
    A demon is something of a special case. According to the 3e Fiend books they are basically someone who already lived a life evil enough to be damned to the Abyss and then did a large number of evil acts to be promoted up to their current form from the lower demons. They are basically made of evil, and it would take a very long time not doing any evil actions to no longer read as evil to a detect evil spell or for a DM to say an alignment change has occurred.
    So let's take a less special case. A good old human serial killer butchers dozens of innocent orphans for the fun of it but is eventually caught and spends the rest of his life in prison. He can't slaughter any more orphans (and let's say he's in solitary, so he can't even shiv anyone) but he spends the rest of his days as unapologetic for the orphan killing as he ever was. No bad deeds for decades, but I'm not sure I would say his hypothetical alignment has improved in any way.

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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    So let's take a less special case. A good old human serial killer butchers dozens of innocent orphans for the fun of it but is eventually caught and spends the rest of his life in prison. He can't slaughter any more orphans (and let's say he's in solitary, so he can't even shiv anyone) but he spends the rest of his days as unapologetic for the orphan killing as he ever was. No bad deeds for decades, but I'm not sure I would say his hypothetical alignment has improved in any way.
    DM's call, but i would say that his average is still evil. Murdering dozens of innocents is enough of a blot on his ledger that decades of inactivity are not enough to balance his average to neutral.

  19. - Top - End - #319
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Yeah. It's just a dumb argument that someone can't be evil if they are imprisoned or restrained.

    Evil is in the heart and the mind. Not the hands.

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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post

    I don't think Jayne was ever evil in the first place, really. More "neutral with evil tendancies."
    Jayne betrayed his own party for personal gain (that was how he joined Mal's party). And in the Jaynestown episode we see he betrayed a comrade in order to escape - pushing that comrade out of the escaping ship to lighten the load of the ship.

    I'd say there's plenty of evidence to suggest that, certainly in the context of a "30% of people are Evil" world, Jayne is evil.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post

    Belkar can talk about how evil he still is, and how he's only faking being a team player all he wants to, but if he doesnt actually do anything evil anymore then it's just talk, and he no longer really has an evil alignment.

    I don't think Jayne was ever evil in the first place, really. More "neutral with evil tendancies."
    Belkar's Protection from Evil amulet hurts him when activated. That's a cue that he's still evil (and something unique to OOTS - standard rules don't say Protection from Evil hurts evil people casting it on themselves).
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2021-01-25 at 05:29 PM.
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    So let's take a less special case. A good old human serial killer butchers dozens of innocent orphans for the fun of it but is eventually caught and spends the rest of his life in prison. He can't slaughter any more orphans (and let's say he's in solitary, so he can't even shiv anyone) but he spends the rest of his days as unapologetic for the orphan killing as he ever was. No bad deeds for decades, but I'm not sure I would say his hypothetical alignment has improved in any way.
    What if he's an elf and he's not imprisoned for decades but centuries?

    Or what if he's a warforged and imprisoned for thousands of years, or hundreds of thousands of years?

    Do the evil entries on your moral ledger have expiration dates?
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    What if he's an elf and he's not imprisoned for decades but centuries?

    Or what if he's a warforged and imprisoned for thousands of years, or hundreds of thousands of years?

    Do the evil entries on your moral ledger have expiration dates?
    I don't see the difference in this context. My point wasn't how long he was being punished, it was an argument against Jason's suggestion that a person with Evil alignment who didn't have the opportunity to do evil would be any less Evil because of it. For the sake of this argument, it doesn't really matter if the person's locked up for a day or a century.

  23. - Top - End - #323
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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post
    DM's call, but i would say that his average is still evil. Murdering dozens of innocents is enough of a blot on his ledger that decades of inactivity are not enough to balance his average to neutral.
    So you think alignment is a label, based on tallying up good and evil and judged by ... cosmic something?

    Personally I prefer it as motivational rather than a meaningless label. Something that feeds into player decision making along with all other factors. That makes it useful both from inside the character and out.

    And if the characters internal moral and social motivations haven't changed, but other (internal or external) factors are currently prominent .... alignment stays the same and may eventually play a more dominant role in decision making for the character.

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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Depends on the degree of Evil. If it's full-on murder hobo, then almost certainly not, unless the Evil character is VERY careful to keep their worst acts hidden. If it's more of the greedy/selfish flavor of evil, then an Evil character could easily hang out long term with a majority-Good party.

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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    So you think alignment is a label, based on tallying up good and evil and judged by ... cosmic something?

    Personally I prefer it as motivational rather than a meaningless label. Something that feeds into player decision making along with all other factors. That makes it useful both from inside the character and out.

    And if the characters internal moral and social motivations haven't changed, but other (internal or external) factors are currently prominent .... alignment stays the same and may eventually play a more dominant role in decision making for the character.
    I tend to think of it as a label that, if accurately applied, describes both your actions and motivations. Due to inability to read minds, games tend to focus on actions rather than motivations, but if a player is forthcoming about motivations, that factors into accurately labeling the alignment of a character.

  26. - Top - End - #326
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slipjig View Post
    Depends on the degree of Evil. If it's full-on murder hobo, then almost certainly not, unless the Evil character is VERY careful to keep their worst acts hidden. If it's more of the greedy/selfish flavor of evil, then an Evil character could easily hang out long term with a majority-Good party.
    That full blown murderhobos have problems getting along with people has little to do with them also being evil and all to to with being violent, disruptive and murderhaüüy without good reason. They will have as much problems in an evil party as in a good one. They can only work in parties carefully selected to accomodate that playstyle.

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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I tend to think of it as a label that, if accurately applied, describes both your actions and motivations. Due to inability to read minds, games tend to focus on actions rather than motivations, but if a player is forthcoming about motivations, that factors into accurately labeling the alignment of a character.
    What the purpose of judgement-label alignment though? Besides final disposition once the character dies, and spawning internet threads where we all debate alignment based on a subset of actions taken. But what's the table time purpose?

    Motivation roleplay-aid alignment on the other hand, has a useful purpose anytime the moral and social attitudes of the character might be pertinent. Just as long as it doesn't become a one dimensional caricature and straight jacket.

    Basically, my view is both descriptive and proscriptive alignment are either not particularly useful, or even actively harmful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    Perhaps this point has been discussed earlier in the thread (man, it's gotten long...) but I don't think someone's alignment changes just because they can no longer act on it for practical reasons. If the only reason someone stays in line is because they know their leader will kill them or abandon them if they don't, does that really make them any less evil? (I could see a case for such a development making them less Chaotic though, since it means they have to work on their restraint).
    This exactly. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis's argument about why it is especially silly to think that we are more morally enlightened today because we don't execute people for being witches. We are certainly more factually enlightened for not doing so. But there is no moral change going from "we kill people for being witches because we believe they exist" to "we do not kill people for being witches because we don't believe witches exist."

    Likewise, as you say: a person is not suddenly Neutral because they are coerced into not doing the Evil things they wish to do. They are simply ineffectual Evil. Likewise, a Good person does not suddenly become Neutral because they are restrained from performing the Good things they would love to do. Otherwise, all an Evil person would need to do in order to change a person's alignment would be to tie them up and force them to watch a preventable Evil action. That's clearly nonsense, and thus so is the coerced-into-inaction Evil somehow becoming Neutral.

    Now, you can certainly argue that Belkar is being encouraged--ever so slowly--to actually change, and not simply refrain, through his growing attachment to the party. His love for his cat, for example, has been highlighted by Belkar himself as encouraging distinctly un-Evil actions from him. More importantly, though, I think a (semi-)recent conversation between Belkar and Durkon much more thoroughly demonstrates this "not just refraining from Evil, but leaving it behind (a teeny tiny little bit)."

    Durkon: Sometimes I think tha only reason more evil folks dinnae succomb ta it is tha it feels bad ta realize how bad ye've been!
    Durkon: Most'd rather pretend ta nev'r feel nuthin' than experience tha pain.
    Belkar: So...
    Belkar: ...those people are cowards, then.
    Belkar: Right?
    Durkon: Huh?
    Belkar: Those weak posers can't handle intense hardcore introspection.
    Durkon: Och! Aye, aye, they dinnae haf tha guts ta face tha mirror!
    Of course, there's also a joke in here (given that Belkar was furious with Durkon for "mak[ing him] think about things" not too long before this). But the point still stands. Durkon has just talked about the seductive power of Good--that doing good deeds really does just feel nice, and that nice feeling can have its own special attraction. And he's had Belkar's enthusiastic agreement that introspection is something weaklings fear.

    Now, it's certainly possible that Belkar, after that introspection, would still go about doing what he does. Still, the fact that he's introspecting at all might, possibly, be evidence of weakening or at least questioning his morality (or lack thereof).

    But if we're going to argue that Belkar is becoming Neutral purely due to failing to take opportunities to do Evil simply because his associates provide a serious impediment to doing so? Nope, not gonna fly.
    Last edited by ezekielraiden; 2021-01-26 at 08:26 AM.

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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    So you think alignment is a label, based on tallying up good and evil and judged by ... cosmic something?
    Yep. In D&D the "cosmic something" is called the Dungeon Master.

    Personally I prefer it as motivational rather than a meaningless label. Something that feeds into player decision making along with all other factors. That makes it useful both from inside the character and out.
    Your actions are a reflection of your motivations, so alignment is a measure of motivations too. And since in an RPG most of the actions that determined a starting PC or NPC's alignment were "off stage" and never actually happened, it is a statement of intent as much as an actual measure of past actions. When a PC has a few sessions of actions to judge from, then their actual alignment becomes more apparent. It may be very different from their initial stated alignment.
    It's not a meaningless label either. Your alignment has definite in-game effects.

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    Default Re: Can Good And Evil Characters Get Along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post
    Yep. In D&D the "cosmic something" is called the Dungeon Master.
    Yeah, that's pretty much the worst use of Alignment there is. Worse than one-dimensional straight jacket alignment. Because it's the DM telling the player how to role play.

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