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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Not to mention that the fact that this effect is applied through its weapons indicates that the cause isn't whatever substance the demon is composed of.
    Being applicable through weapons, is because it's an aura - the being leaks enough "Evil energy" that their weapons are saturated in it, at least for this particular purpose.
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2021-01-22 at 01:01 AM.
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    And the claws of a gargoyle* can overcome the damage reduction of a dragon, and vise versa. Does that mean the claws of gargoyles and dragons can be assigned arbitrary opposed designations like "good" and "evil"?
    Not to mention that the fact that this effect is applied through its weapons indicates that the cause isn't whatever substance the demon is composed of.

    *Why don't they have DR/adamantine?
    You're just comparing apples and oranges now.
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  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    "What does it mean to have a demon's flesh be 'made of evil?'" is a good question, but one I'll posit is answered in much the same way as asking how "shadow illusions" get their substance: it's something that isn't naturally material, but various kinds of magic can make so.

    In the case of Outsiders, they have to be brought to the Material Plane somehow, and the magic that does so interacts with their substance and nature in such a way that it allows them to mimic properties of Material creatures, at least as long as they continue to be coherent creatures, themselves. (Similarly, material creatures on outer planes are given the ability by whatever brought them there to exist on a plane where the concept of "material" doesn't mean the same thing, and they shouldn't exist right, either...but perhaps it's something about the nature of matter that permits their corpses more persistence even after they cease being creatures.)

    In any event, "demon flesh" isn't really material meat and bone. It is fundamentally different, despite superficial similarities. It likely requires cosmic evil (and, in the case of demons, cosmic chaos) to sustain itself the same way material flesh requires material sustenance to sustain itself (and those creatures which do not need to eat presumably get their substance from some magical source...in the case of evil outsiders, cosmic evil is at least one of those sources). I could wax philosophical on the possibilities of outsiders who dwell too long on the material plane and eat a lot of material food while neglecting their [aligned] nature slowly becoming material creatures, but that's not covered in the mechanics and would be speculative. Albeit possibly an interesting source for examination.

    But under this model, a demon spreading mayhem and suffering is actively feeding, or at least farming. It's causing more cosmic evil and cosmic chaos to exist in its immediate area, which enables its demonic flesh to draw in and thrive on those energies.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post

    In any event, "demon flesh" isn't really material meat and bone. It is fundamentally different, despite superficial similarities. It likely requires cosmic evil (and, in the case of demons, cosmic chaos) to sustain itself the same way material flesh requires material sustenance to sustain itself (and those creatures which do not need to eat presumably get their substance from some magical source...in the case of evil outsiders, cosmic evil is at least one of those sources).
    The "leakiness" of demons as described in BOVD and Fiendish Codex 1, would fit with the notion that they not only require cosmic evil, but summon the cosmic evil that they require, to them, automatically, and don't take in all of it, with some remaining in the demon's vicinity and corrupting the world.


    That's why, if one demon hangs around a location on the Material Plane for long enough, that location will eventually start to behave strangely in various ways - people start to get nightmares, plants start to die, and so on.

    An imprisoned demon, trapped so well that it is incapable of doing anything, is just as "leaky" as a free one, and will never starve.
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2021-01-22 at 12:05 PM.
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  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    I feel like there needs to be more of a distinction between relativistic evil (such as alignment or good/evil acts), vs. Elemental Evil (Such as the [Evil] subtype or [Evil] Spells).


    A creature that is, for lack of a better term, "Elementally Evil" can do Relativistic good things, and even become relativisticlly good, but is still literally made of Capital-E Evil.

    Spells that have the [Evil] tag can be turned to relativistic good uses, but are literally powered by Capital-E Evil. Now, it depends on your campaign's cosmology wether or not using a [Evil] spell strengthens the forces of [Evil] or shifts the balance of power between [Good] and [Evil] (the same goes between [Law] and [Chaos])

    Anything with an Int and Wis score high enough for decision making has the ability to choose between good and evil, but a creature born of [Evil] will never be [Good], but can become good.


    As a side-note, i have now typed and read Evil so much it is no longer a word and just a bunch of sounds.

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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by Akkristor View Post
    I feel like there needs to be more of a distinction between relativistic evil (such as alignment or good/evil acts), vs. Elemental Evil (Such as the [Evil] subtype or [Evil] Spells).


    A creature that is, for lack of a better term, "Elementally Evil" can do Relativistic good things, and even become relativisticlly good, but is still literally made of Capital-E Evil.

    Spells that have the [Evil] tag can be turned to relativistic good uses, but are literally powered by Capital-E Evil. Now, it depends on your campaign's cosmology wether or not using a [Evil] spell strengthens the forces of [Evil] or shifts the balance of power between [Good] and [Evil] (the same goes between [Law] and [Chaos])

    Anything with an Int and Wis score high enough for decision making has the ability to choose between good and evil
    That seems a pretty fair summary. Though I'd point out that one ritual does allow a being that is [evil] to replace its [evil] subtype with [Good] - so even if it can't reach [Good] through deeds, it can reach [Good] through magic.


    And of course, plenty of once [Good] beings are now [Evil]. Any celestial that has been exiled from the Upper Planes, and has taken up residence in the Lower Planes, and has been acting evil, will eventually end up with its [Good] subtype replaced with the [Evil] subtype.

    Many Erinyes were once celestials, and many Archfiends were once celestials.
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  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    The "leakiness" of demons as described in BOVD and Fiendish Codex 1, would fit with the notion that they not only require cosmic evil, but summon the cosmic evil that they require, to them, automatically, and don't take in all of it, with some remaining in the demon's vicinity and corrupting the world.


    That's why, if one demon hangs around a location on the Material Plane for long enough, that location will eventually start to behave strangely in various ways - people start to get nightmares, plants start to die, and so on.

    An imprisoned demon, trapped so well that it is incapable of doing anything, is just as "leaky" as a free one, and will never starve.
    I have issue with this, but can accept it if the setting uses it well. I prefer it if they need the [evil] to sustain themselves, but typically do so much wickedness or cause it indirectly through temptation and influence that they seem to "leak" it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Akkristor View Post
    I feel like there needs to be more of a distinction between relativistic evil (such as alignment or good/evil acts), vs. Elemental Evil (Such as the [Evil] subtype or [Evil] Spells).


    A creature that is, for lack of a better term, "Elementally Evil" can do Relativistic good things, and even become relativisticlly good, but is still literally made of Capital-E Evil.

    Spells that have the [Evil] tag can be turned to relativistic good uses, but are literally powered by Capital-E Evil. Now, it depends on your campaign's cosmology wether or not using a [Evil] spell strengthens the forces of [Evil] or shifts the balance of power between [Good] and [Evil] (the same goes between [Law] and [Chaos])

    Anything with an Int and Wis score high enough for decision making has the ability to choose between good and evil, but a creature born of [Evil] will never be [Good], but can become good.


    As a side-note, i have now typed and read Evil so much it is no longer a word and just a bunch of sounds.
    I actively disagree and think that making this distinction undermines "elemental evil" as a meaningful concept. The moment "elemental evil" could be replaced with, as somebody else noted I think in the thread on creating undead being evil, "zoop," and you would have the ability to point out that zoop isn't necessarily evil at all because you can make a character who uses zoop as the central part of his preferred methods and is a paragon of virtue, then you've proven that zoop is only coincidentally associated with a lot of evil things, but is not, itself, inherently evil.

  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    By RAW, according to BOVD, if you create a portal to the Lower Planes, that portal creates a Great And Powerful Malevolence level of evil.


    Even if you built it with only one key, and then hide the key so well the portal is unusable - so no fiends ever pass through the portal.


    Fiends may not be passing through, but evil energy is.
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  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by KillianHawkeye View Post
    You're just comparing apples and oranges now.
    Not really? "Demon claws can overcome angel DR" is literally the only evidence which had been presented to demonstrate that demons are literally made out of evil, DR and DR are both apples. Saying otherwise requires proving that the ability to overcome DR/evil is somehow inherently Evil (and the ability to overcome DR/good somehow inherently Good), which is begging the question.


    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    Being applicable through weapons, is because it's an aura - the being leaks enough "Evil energy" that their weapons are saturated in it, at least for this particular purpose.
    If it's an aura, it's not part of the demon's physical body, and hence the evil is not what the demon is literally made out of. But even if we change "demons are literally made out of evil" to "demons have a literally evil aura," we still have problems...


    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    "What does it mean to have a demon's flesh be 'made of evil?'" is a good question, but one I'll posit is answered in much the same way as asking how "shadow illusions" get their substance: it's something that isn't naturally material, but various kinds of magic can make so.
    That doesn't really answer the question, though it just changes the target. What makes the immaterial energy demonflesh is incarnated from (or which composes demonic auras) Evil? What is "cosmic evil," and how is it connected to that energy or to the moral concept of evil?


    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I actively disagree and think that making this distinction undermines "elemental evil" as a meaningful concept. The moment "elemental evil" could be replaced with, as somebody else noted I think in the thread on creating undead being evil, "zoop," and you would have the ability to point out that zoop isn't necessarily evil at all because you can make a character who uses zoop as the central part of his preferred methods and is a paragon of virtue, then you've proven that zoop is only coincidentally associated with a lot of evil things, but is not, itself, inherently evil.
    First off, the distinction is philosophically important, in the sense that this philosophical discussion would be really difficult to have if we couldn't distinguish between the two.
    Second, you're right—for the concept of elemental Evil to make sense, it needs to be connected to moral evil. That's why I keep asking what the nature of this connection is—the very concept of (Evil) creatures, [evil] spells, and so on is dangling from that thread. In absence of this connection, Evil ceases to mean anything.
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    Ah, thank you very much GreatWyrmGold, you obviously live up to that name with your intelligence and wisdom with that post.
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    First off, the distinction is philosophically important, in the sense that this philosophical discussion would be really difficult to have if we couldn't distinguish between the two.
    Second, you're right—for the concept of elemental Evil to make sense, it needs to be connected to moral evil. That's why I keep asking what the nature of this connection is—the very concept of (Evil) creatures, [evil] spells, and so on is dangling from that thread. In absence of this connection, Evil ceases to mean anything.
    To repeat what I said before. You're right, and trying to make a coherent moral philosophy based on 3.5 rules only creates something that goes between deeply unsatisfying and complete nonsense.

    WotC has no interest in rereleasing an old edition of the game just to update its spells and mechanics to align with a more sensible moral philosophy. And in their current edition of the game, they've put effort into giving you a reason beyond the [Evil] tag and some handwaving about evil pollution to think that evil things are actually a moral hazard.

    So you have acknowledgement that the old system does create unsatisfying and nonsensical outcomes. You have the current system trying to do better. I don't know what else you're hoping to achieve here.

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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    To repeat what I said before. You're right, and trying to make a coherent moral philosophy based on 3.5 rules only creates something that goes between deeply unsatisfying and complete nonsense.

    WotC has no interest in rereleasing an old edition of the game just to update its spells and mechanics to align with a more sensible moral philosophy. And in their current edition of the game, they've put effort into giving you a reason beyond the [Evil] tag and some handwaving about evil pollution to think that evil things are actually a moral hazard.

    So you have acknowledgement that the old system does create unsatisfying and nonsensical outcomes. You have the current system trying to do better. I don't know what else you're hoping to achieve here.
    1. I know what I'm doing. I find this sort of discussion inherently interesting. I haven't said anything about what WotC should or shouldn't do; the closest I've come is talking about possible ways I would write a fantasy story (not even a TRPG campaign!) which used concepts of "cosmic morality".
    What I don't know is what you're trying to do here. What do you think you're accomplishing by telling me that what I'm doing is stupid? Proving that you're smarter than everyone in this thread because you know that WotC won't change 3.5 two editions later?

    2. The new edition mostly does better by avoiding any inclusion of alignment in what could be considered mechanics (except when the writers forget). Here's hoping they go a step further in 6th edition and let alignment go the way of THACO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Blade Wolf View Post
    Ah, thank you very much GreatWyrmGold, you obviously live up to that name with your intelligence and wisdom with that post.
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    If it's an aura, it's not part of the demon's physical body, and hence the evil is not what the demon is literally made out of. But even if we change "demons are literally made out of evil" to "demons have a literally evil aura," we still have problems...



    That doesn't really answer the question, though it just changes the target. What makes the immaterial energy demonflesh is incarnated from (or which composes demonic auras) Evil? What is "cosmic evil," and how is it connected to that energy or to the moral concept of evil?
    What all outsiders, Good, Evil, or Neutral, have in common is that their flesh is "at least partially composed of the essence (but not necessarily the material) of some plane other than the Material Plane."

    So a demon's flesh is "at least partially composed of the essence of the Abyss." The Abyss is aligned with evil, and so beings "partially composed of the essence of the abyss" will radiate evil.

    It is fairly usual for Outsiders from the Lower planes to have flesh that comes with damage reduction x/good. Bottom-rank Demons tend to have x/cold iron or good, middle-rank demons, x/good, high-rank demons x/cold iron and good.

    In Fiendish Codex 1, we see the results of a demon being dissected while it is still alive - and its flesh is mostly similar to mortal flesh, but there are some differences. Demon flesh is especially vulnerable to Good energy, because Good and Evil are opposed. Celestials have the same issue, reversed. Demon flesh emits evil energy, and that is why demons overcome DR/evil, and why nonevil demons still detect as evil.
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  13. - Top - End - #43
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Not really? "Demon claws can overcome angel DR" is literally the only evidence which had been presented to demonstrate that demons are literally made out of evil, DR and DR are both apples. Saying otherwise requires proving that the ability to overcome DR/evil is somehow inherently Evil (and the ability to overcome DR/good somehow inherently Good), which is begging the question.
    No, DR/alignment works differently than DR/magic does. They don't imply the same things, so you can't start saying things about dragons and gargoyles based on how the DR of demons and angels works. They're totally different.
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Yup. Unlike with Aligned Strike, Magic Strike does not carry over to weapons.


    A gargoyle that picks up a non-magic spear and stabs a dragon with it, will not ignore the dragon's DR.


    DR/magic can manifest itself in different ways too - for some creatures it's like the flesh is unusually hard, and for others, its more like the flesh simply closes up behind the path of the weapon.

    Slash a dragon, and your sword skids off.
    Slash a vampire, and the flesh simply closes up behind the sword like water.
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  15. - Top - End - #45
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    That doesn't really answer the question, though it just changes the target. What makes the immaterial energy demonflesh is incarnated from (or which composes demonic auras) Evil? What is "cosmic evil," and how is it connected to that energy or to the moral concept of evil?



    First off, the distinction is philosophically important, in the sense that this philosophical discussion would be really difficult to have if we couldn't distinguish between the two.
    Second, you're right—for the concept of elemental Evil to make sense, it needs to be connected to moral evil. That's why I keep asking what the nature of this connection is—the very concept of (Evil) creatures, [evil] spells, and so on is dangling from that thread. In absence of this connection, Evil ceases to mean anything.
    The way I would prefer to see it is that the aligned energies, the "cosmic alignment stuff," is a result of the alignments being acted out. Every lawful act creates some measure of cosmic law. Every evil act creates some amount of cosmic evil.

    The outer planes are the extreme reaches of the realm of cognizance. The astral plane is the plane of thought, and the outer planes are shaped by and made up of the essence of pure morality and ethos. Philosophy incarnate. The rules of those places are such that material form can't exist there any more than it can exist physically in imagination; it takes magic (portals, spells, something like that) to translate beings from one plane to another.

    What it means for demon flesh to be composed of evil and chaos - of cosmic chaos and evil in physical form - is that it is the stuff of those esoteric outer planes of philosophy. It isn't composed of matter. It is composed of stuff created by thought and deed aligned with the planar substance that defines the Abyss. To exist at all in the material realm requires significant cosmic chaos and evil to be around, merely to support its mimicry of material properties that enable it to intrude on the Prime's reality.

    Again, those energies are created by aligned action being taken. Murder, petty cruelty, rebellion, careless disregard for norms... these things are chaotic and/or evil, and the performance of them generates cosmic chaos and cosmic evil. It will tend to want to "flow" to the proper plane, but it's not a steep slope nor a quick process, and thus it sticks around for a while. Places of great atrocity will be tainted by cosmic evil. Sites where great virtue happened or is frequently exhibited will be suffused with cosmic good.

    By having the causal relationship be definite and in the correct directly, cosmic good and evil and law and chaos can serve the fantastic roles they're intended to while avoiding the possibility of narratives that try to declare good to be evil or evil to be good by using "cosmic good that is actually quite horrific" or "cosmic evil that is actually the good guys." It also avoids any "it's evil because it spreads cosmic evil, and it spreads cosmic evil because it's evil" circular logic. Something is evil because it fits the criteria of "evil," and because it's evil, it exudes/creates cosmic evil. At no point is "it creates cosmic evil" the causal reason the deed is evil (though you could certainly hold up the creation of cosmic evil as evidence the deed is evil, since only evil deeds will create cosmic evil).

    Under this model, [evil] subtyped creatures can change their ways, but they are literally undermining their flesh and soul (which are one, being Outsiders). They are also potentially transforming into another kind of outsider with another subtype, depending on how the DM wants to run the story. But this is why they can be hedged by protection from evil: they are made of evil, and so the goodness powering the [good] spell actively makes their flesh - made of cosmic evil - from being able to exist in the protected space.

    Outsider flesh is fundamentally alien to the Material Planes, which is why they must be conjured or transported via various magical means that enable translation, and often require significant amounts of cosmic alignment energy of the appropriate type. One might even posit that the reason planar binding is aligned to the kind of Outsider it calls forth is because you must ensure there is enough cosmic energy of the right sort present for them to exist, which means the ritual involves some definitely good/evil/lawful/chaotic acts in some fashion.

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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post

    Outsider flesh is fundamentally alien to the Material Planes, which is why they must be conjured or transported via various magical means that enable translation
    It's worth keeping in mind that Native Outsiders do exist. These will have a much lower concentration of "essence of non-Material Plane" but it will still be there.

    And while [alignment] subtypes are usually a thing of Outsiders, they are not always a thing of Outsiders.

    There may be an element of "the cosmic alignments came first, and made the creatures to carry out their agendas" - since according to the Fiendish Codexes and to Elder Evils, the Outer Planes existed long before intelligent life on the Material Plane did.


    It might be nice to have it the other way round, and make more sense - but it's not what the splatbooks say.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    It also avoids any "it's evil because it spreads cosmic evil, and it spreads cosmic evil because it's evil" circular logic.
    It isn't that, so much as "some spells, in order to function at all, require cosmic evil to power them - and casting such spells, spreads cosmic evil".

    I favour an element of "conservation of energy" to this explanation - no magical process is 100% efficient, and wasted evil energy has its own influence.
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    It isn't that, so much as "some spells, in order to function at all, require cosmic evil to power them - and casting such spells, spreads cosmic evil".

    I favour an element of "conservation of energy" to this explanation - no magical process is 100% efficient, and wasted evil energy has its own influence.
    This works if there is a reason beyond fiat "it's icky" to assign it. This fails on several exmples. Far better for [evil] to require actual evil be done rather than hand-waving in "er, it requires evil energy and that makes it evil to use."

    Native outsiders are still outsiders. They just originated on the plane to which they are native. There is no reason to assume that they are made of less subtype-appropriate stuff than any other outsiders.

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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    They're created, mostly, by hybridising regular outsiders with mortals. Unlike regular outsiders, they need to eat and sleep.

    Reasonable to presume that their matter is much more Material-Plane-ish than that of an Extraplanar Outsider. Still magical to some extent, but not as much.

    So the flesh of a Native Outsider is not as "fundamentally alien to the Material Plane" as the flesh of an Extraplanar Outsider is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Far better for [evil] to require actual evil be done rather than hand-waving in "er, it requires evil energy and that makes it evil to use."
    Fiendish Codex 2 provides a guideline for "how evil" it is to cast any [evil] spell - evil enough to accrue 1 point of corruption - the minimum on the Corruption table. Less evil than "causing gratuitous injury to a single living creature".

    Cast 1 [evil] spell - 1 corruption point.

    Kick 1 animal, for no good reason, hard enough to injure it - 3 corruption points.

    Since "regular Murder" (as opposed to Cold Blooded Murder) is 5 corruption points, it's possible that the scale is geometric - a murder is vastly worse than a gratuitous injury, rather than being less than twice as bad.

    Though, of course, the Hellish authorities get to treat it as linear rather than geometric.
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    Default Re: Can [Evil] change its ways?

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    Fiendish Codex 2 provides a guideline for "how evil" it is to cast any [evil] spell - evil enough to accrue 1 point of corruption - the minimum on the Corruption table. Less evil than "causing gratuitous injury to a single living creature".

    Cast 1 [evil] spell - 1 corruption point.

    Kick 1 animal, for no good reason, hard enough to injure it - 3 corruption points.

    Since "regular Murder" (as opposed to Cold Blooded Murder) is 5 corruption points, it's possible that the scale is geometric - a murder is vastly worse than a gratuitous injury, rather than being less than twice as bad.

    Though, of course, the Hellish authorities get to treat it as linear rather than geometric.
    Hm. Well, I can at least make use of that scale for my thoughts relevant to the other thread, so I won't dismiss it as entirely useless.

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