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    PaladinGuy

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    Default [3.5e] Detect Evil

    My DM has been telling my group that the Detect Evil spell does not detect if someone has an evil alignment. He argues that it is only for supernatural evil, undead, outsiders, not 'everyday evil,' i.e. the CE mayor of the town we're in. I argue that Detect Evil (or law/chaos/good/whatever) is supposed to do that. Can someone shed some light on this? thanks in advance

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Depends on what the DM's interpretation of 'Evil Creature' is. RAI, it's pretty clear that means any creature with an Evil alignment.
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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Is this a case of him making a house rule, or him misunderstanding the way the spell is written?

    If it's the former, then it doesn't matter what the spell was written to do, his house rule overwrites it. If it's the latter, your main defense is going by the way the spell is written: On the table, it specifically lists Evil Creature, Undead and Evil Outsider as options, thus I'd say that your interpretation is the correct one.
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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    If it is supernaturally evil it has an aura of evil normally. If it is undead it is pretty much evil. If it is an outsider, and you didn't bring it here, it is pretty much evil. Not much of a spell.

    How does his pally's DE work?

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Undead and evil outsiders do get special treatment for Detect Evil, true, but the table very clearly has an "Evil creature" line. If only supernatural or otherwise exceptional evil showed up there would be little point in having that line, as such extreme evil typically falls under one of the other categories. The rather weak aura strength for that line (level 10 is still merely faint) also doesn't make sense if it was intended for anything but everyday ordinary evil.
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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    I believe he is misunderstanding what the text of the spell says, not instituting a house rule, as we play pretty much RAW. I think I swayed him tonight by pointing out the table in the spell description (using the same argument douglas posted ), but I just wanted to run it by someone else to make sure I got it right. Thanks for your help.
    Last edited by secher_nbiw45; 2008-08-28 at 02:16 AM.

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by secher_nbiw45 View Post
    I believe he is misunderstanding what the text of the spell says, not instituting a house rule, as we play pretty much RAW. I think I swayed him tonight by pointing out the table in the spell description (using the same argument douglas posted ), but I just wanted to run it by someone else to make sure I got it right. Thanks for your help.
    I always disliked detect evil in this respect. I wound up houseruling it that what it does is detect evil intent. So a person who is evil will not radiate evil per se, but if they are actively planning murder and mayhem, or actually committing it in some respect that the character can't see, then the spell/ability works. But then again I dislike the whole concept of alignments at all (spent too much time playing games without 'em) so I tend to just ditch 'em entirely. I do, as compensation however, allow detecting of supernatural evil (undead/outsiders, etc). As compensation for that, however, I allow detecting supernatural evil at much greater range. (on the order of miles, depending on the power of the evil). I just find that otherwise it becomes too much of a crutch in my game.

    Of course, that is totally homebrewed and so not really relevant. Never mind. I'll head off to bed now.

    Last edited by Thrud; 2008-08-28 at 02:35 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by secher_nbiw45 View Post
    (using the same argument douglas posted )
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    Last edited by Vonriel; 2008-08-28 at 02:39 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    any one who is evil shoud detect as evil or it would be called detect evil outsider or undead

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    And if all else fails, get thee some BoED's exalted Ravages and Afflictions and dump them in the village well. Somehow they'll know to only magically poison to death evil aligned townsfolk, so you don't have to worry about Detect Evil not working correctly because anyone evil in town is a corpse already.

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by xelliea View Post
    any one who is evil shoud detect as evil or it would be called detect evil outsider or undead
    To be fair, no matter the alignment of undead it detects them.

    Bah, yiour DM is houseruling. But by mistake so he can be reasoned with so all is good.

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Detect Evil will, according to the spell, detect "Evil creature" or "Evil outsider" based on its HD. Note that this spell does not specify evil alignment. (In fact, the only alignment mention is specific to the caster.) And Detect Evil will register evil when directed at a neutral-aligned Cleric of an evil deity, and similarly for non-evil undead, so at least in this case alignment is not what the spell detects.

    So it's DM's call whether "Evil creature"/"Evil outsider" is:
    • Evil alignment
    • Evil intent
    To be consistent with the workings when applied to Clerics and undead, I think "Evil intent" is what makes more sense. If a creature is actively contemplating doing something evil, the spell will register it. If, say, the creature is hungry and thinking about lunch, there's no evil to detect. (If it happens to be thinking about eating babies for lunch, that's different. )
    Last edited by Curmudgeon; 2008-08-28 at 07:52 AM. Reason: typo

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Jumping on board the tangent, I feel like the "detect evil intent" turns it even more into mind-reading than it already was. I mean, people complain that detect evil makes it too easy to identify "the bad guy," but what if a greedy merchant is just as likely to detect as Evil as the BBEG is? Then all Detect Evil does is give you a heads-up -- "Hey, this guy only has his own interests at heart" -- which is the same thing a good Sense Motive check would give you, it's just more indisputable.

    I've lately been trying very hard to rationalise the Detect Evil spell, and Evil Alignment, as it would be perceived in-character. See, one of my characters unwittingly serves an evil master, and the party's paladin has detected the master as evil but has yet to inform my character of this. My guy is really intelligent, so it would stand to reason that he knows how the spell works and that it's not likely to be wrong, so, if he were informed, would he be able to rationalise that?
    I've determined that the thing that makes the most sense is that he would vaguely understand "alignment" as "inner motivation," and all that the detected Evil would mean is that his master has, well, questionable motivation. Sure, that's "EVIL" to a paladin, maybe; but to your average neutral guy, that doesn't prove anything. He might just be a ruthless, selfish leader who gets the job done.

    This is the way I've always preferred to accept Evil alignment in D&D -- that it's absolutely detectable, but doesn't really tell you much. Keeps some ambiguity.

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by secher_nbiw45 View Post
    My DM has been telling my group that the Detect Evil spell does not detect if someone has an evil alignment. He argues that it is only for supernatural evil, undead, outsiders, not 'everyday evil,' i.e. the CE mayor of the town we're in. I argue that Detect Evil (or law/chaos/good/whatever) is supposed to do that. Can someone shed some light on this? thanks in advance
    Your DM needs to acknowledge that this is a houserule. However, it's a good houserule - in fact, it's one of the ways to fix the terror that are detect [alignment] spells.

    RAW/RAI, you're right. But your DM's way is better for plots. Thing is, houserules have to be announced beforehand, and are obviously subject to some degree of discussion around the table.

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    I mean, people complain that detect evil makes it too easy to identify "the bad guy," but what if a greedy merchant is just as likely to detect as Evil as the BBEG is?
    Right; evil people are actually fairly common, but not everyone who's evil deserves a righteous smiting. So, sure, it'll help you narrow down the field a bit, but it's not a big glowing neon sign that points to the guy and says "Villain".

    For that matter, the true villains of a campaign are likely to be rich and/or powerful enough to have some means of fooling detection spells, if they want it, such as a Ring of Mind Shielding or the Undetectable Alignment spell. So if you're trying to use Detect Evil to find out who the villain is, you might just end up putting him on the bottom of your list.
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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    I think it did in fact work for supernatural evil or evil intent in second edition. However that was removed in 3rd.

    And afflictions/ravages in the water supply falls foul of the "do not kill non-combatants" principle in Exalted Deeds. As well as a long-standing tradition that it is possible to be evil without committing crimes worthy of a death sentence.

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    As said above, Detect Evil detects all evil creatures, by RAW.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tokiko Mima View Post
    And if all else fails, get thee some BoED's exalted Ravages and Afflictions and dump them in the village well. Somehow they'll know to only magically poison to death evil aligned townsfolk, so you don't have to worry about Detect Evil not working correctly because anyone evil in town is a corpse already.
    Ah, Ravages. So beautifully poorly thought out. I heard about someone with Touch of Golden Ice breaking a social interaction plot where they had to figure out who the BBEG at a banquet was by just shaking hands with everyone until someone collapsed in pain.
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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    And afflictions/ravages in the water supply falls foul of the "do not kill non-combatants" principle in Exalted Deeds. As well as a long-standing tradition that it is possible to be evil without committing crimes worthy of a death sentence.
    To be fair here, the BoED specifically states that the material is intended to be used in a campaign where villains are really evil: BoVD-style evil. Run of the mill "evil mayor" scenarios are completely inappropriate situations to be whipping out ravages and Sacred damage abilities.

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    Now, if the "evil mayor" has a temple to the gods of Depravity in his basement and disembowels babies in exchange for the power to cover the lands in a plague of demonic locusts, and the townspeople engage in blood orgies by night and etch paeans to Orcus into their own flesh (and maybe supply some of the babies), and that's just the start? Yeah, then it might be time for some BoED stuff. As a bonus, I imagine that Detect Evil would function pretty well there too.
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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    If you're trying to run it as written, I think you're on the right track.

    In my games, Detect Evil (especially the Paladin at-will) was houseruled into more of a "spidey-sense", giving you a sensation that something was wrong proportional to how much of a threat was being posed to yourself and/or those around you. In that variant, people of Evil alignment only set off the evil-dar when they're in the midst of the act.

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by RukiTanuki View Post
    In my games, Detect Evil (especially the Paladin at-will) was houseruled into more of a "spidey-sense", giving you a sensation that something was wrong proportional to how much of a threat was being posed to yourself and/or those around you. In that variant, people of Evil alignment only set off the evil-dar when they're in the midst of the act.
    I do the same thing. This is pretty much how pre-3rd edition handled it. An evil fighter sitting down to eat his food and have a beer doesn't ping on detect evil. But a super-evil baby killing demon worshipping cleric might under those same situations.

    Its like levels of evilness.

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    BoED/BoVD aside, the proper treatment of Detect Evil (or any alignment, really) depends greatly on the general nature of your campaign world. Is an Evil alignment an automatic "badguy" flag, or is there a statistical distribution of Good, Neutral, and Evil people, with many of the latter merely being selfish rather than diabolical? Are you hack 'n slashing with only lip service to morality, or does the Paladin have to think before administering righteous beheadings?

    Obviously, if you walk into a crowded room where you suspect someone of being the BBEG or a minion, and there's only one Evil person in the whole place...

    But what if it's a high society gathering and a third of the nobles are corrupt schemers with thugs for bodyguards and sycophantic toadies licking their coattails? Detect Evil certainly helps sort the wheat from the chaff, but it no longer spoils the plot.

    In other words, there are plenty of ways to allow Detect Evil to function as written without making it a plot killer.
    Last edited by Fighteer; 2008-08-28 at 01:58 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Tormsskull View Post
    I do the same thing. This is pretty much how pre-3rd edition handled it. An evil fighter sitting down to eat his food and have a beer doesn't ping on detect evil. But a super-evil baby killing demon worshipping cleric might under those same situations.

    Its like levels of evilness.
    That would be true in 3.5 as well. A cleric of an evil deity has a stronger aura for his level than a merely evil character. Of course, there's no zero point on the scale, and it's clerics specifically who have the stronger aura.

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    That would be true in 3.5 as well. A cleric of an evil deity has a stronger aura for his level than a merely evil character. Of course, there's no zero point on the scale, and it's clerics specifically who have the stronger aura.
    Right. I was specfically drawing distinction between evil fighter (let's call him evil light) not pinging on detect evil in 2e, versus evil fighter in 3e, who some are making the case that since he has an evil alignment he pings on detect evil.

    Evil clerics of evil gods are higher on the Evil scale in both editions.

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Tormsskull View Post
    Right. I was specfically drawing distinction between evil fighter (let's call him evil light) not pinging on detect evil in 2e, versus evil fighter in 3e, who some are making the case that since he has an evil alignment he pings on detect evil.

    Evil clerics of evil gods are higher on the Evil scale in both editions.
    1e detects the evil fighter too, FWIW.

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Tormsskull View Post
    I do the same thing. This is pretty much how pre-3rd edition handled it. An evil fighter sitting down to eat his food and have a beer doesn't ping on detect evil. But a super-evil baby killing demon worshipping cleric might under those same situations.

    Its like levels of evilness.
    To provide some detail for my own house-usage:
    * People who wield divine Evil power set it off immediately.
    * People actively working for Evil ideals set it off while pursuing those acts.
    * People of Evil alignment who do not fall under the above categories do not set it off unless they're actively doing an evil act.

    The sensation grows in proportion to which the act or creature offends the sensibilities and ideals of the paladin (or, more specifically, the paladin's patron).

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    In d&d evil can either be alignment or creature type and detect evil will detect either. Even if it's an evil alignment with a non-evil creature type or a non-evil alignment with an evil creature type. Neutral clerics of an evil diety may also set it off, IIRC.

    I think this is covered in the FAQ. You can also try the search tool at www.d20srd.org to search the rules themselves.
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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    I think this is covered in the FAQ.
    You remember incorrectly. Other than discussing the ramifications of taint, the FAQ merely refers back to the description in the Detect Evil spell itself.
    Quote Originally Posted by D&D® Frequently Asked Questions
    The most current guidelines for the effect of taint (the corrupting power of evil) can be found on page 62 of HH. As soon as a character is exposed to an area or object suffused with evil, she acquires 1 to 3 points of taint. ...

    Characters with at least moderate taint register as evil to a detect evil spell. Use the creature’s HD to measure the aura of her evil, just as if she were an evil creature (PH 219).
    So we're still left with an unknown as to whether "evil creature" means "creature with evil alignment" or "creature with evil intent".

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
    You remember incorrectly. Other than discussing the ramifications of taint, the FAQ merely refers back to the description in the Detect Evil spell itself.
    So we're still left with an unknown as to whether "evil creature" means "creature with evil alignment" or "creature with evil intent".
    Just as a philosophical stance I don't think simple intent should count. Also, from a practical point of view, allowing it to do so would make a lot of scenarios much harder to pull off.

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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by nagora View Post
    Just as a philosophical stance I don't think simple intent should count. Also, from a practical point of view, allowing it to do so would make a lot of scenarios much harder to pull off.
    Actually, I have found it makes things easier for me when the PCs are trying to shortcut working stuff out with magic. The chamber-maid is thinking about lifting some stuff. The butler is thinking about going after the chamber-maid. NPC - X is thinking about a murder he committed that has absolutely nothing to do with the events that are currently taking place. Muddies the waters a little without having to resort to 'every bad guy is immune to mind affecting spells or scrying'.

    Hmm, of course that could mess with your campaign if you WANT the PCs to be able to find baddies that way. So, I guess it just depends on the campaign. Looks like we have something of an even split here.
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    Default Re: [3.5e] Detect Evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrud View Post
    Actually, I have found it makes things easier for me when the PCs are trying to shortcut working stuff out with magic.
    Exactly! The game designers put in safeguards to keep other spells from leading the PCs directly to the end of a scenario:
    Quote Originally Posted by Locate Object
    You cannot specify a unique item unless you have observed that particular item firsthand (not through divination).
    Quote Originally Posted by Discern Location
    To find a creature with the spell, you must have seen the creature or have some item that once belonged to it. To find an object, you must have touched it at least once
    It's much more consistent with these limitations to keep the lowly Detect Evil from registering any more than current evil intent.

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