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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

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    Default Alignment question *beware!*

    Ok, you've been warned.

    Alright, I was wondering if there was such thing as a like Lawful Good Evil, or Lawful Evil Good. This question came to me when I was reading the Races of Destiny (a book I found to be one of my favorite) and found the diety Zarus. I thought of what a cleric of Zarus would act like and it lead me to a quandary.

    How would a cleric of Zarus register or act? Okay, when around other races that aren't human, it'd be pretty easy. The guy would think himself superior in every way, try to either kill or enslave the them or at least carry some seething hatred, especially if they were more powerful. My question come from when they act around other people.

    I can easily picture a cleric or disciple of Zarus to be a extremely philanthropic to humans. Going around to places, giving them hope that they are the superior race and encouraging them to reach for higher goals. [Perhaps give examples of people turned gods, Zarus, Vecna, St. Cuthbert to name a few]. He'd discourage fighting between people, making him lawful. To humans, he'd act like any good aligned cleric would do but encourage them to be better.

    So would a dude register as Lawful Good to humans, like if a Human paladin scanned him since in really is like that but Lawful Evil if a Dwarf Paladin scanned him? Would you consider this guy good or evil? Good Guy or Bad Guy. Protagonist or Antagonist?

    I am actually thinking of making a PC dude out of this just for the challenge. Would be bad to be in a group with many races, he'd stick out like a sore thumb and try to kill them all, but would be a big supporter in an all human group. NPC dude would make for a ethically challenging villian, especially to other humans. Why does this guy sound like the Hitler but for the race of humans against non-humans?
    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_archmagi View Post

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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    it all depends on the way your character percieves themselves.

    With your analogy with the dwarf paladin and the human paladin you answered your own question. Its all about perception, if your character believes themselves to be lawful good, and acts on their beliefs but thinks that a different race is inferior or evil if they set out to eradicate that race/species they are in their eyes doing a lawful act. However to that species/race that thinks he's doing the evil act.

    Think the crusades or any other religious war. Both sides believe they are in the right and that they are the on the side of god, while the other side is evil and out to spread chaos, however the other side believes the exact same thing.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Hard to respond without godwinning here, really.

    But if it was a guy who thought that way about Goblins, or Trolls, or whatever, he'd ping evil. No reason having a PC race as the one you favor should make you anything to a Paladin other than "A guy who needs a good smiting right about now."

    Evil guys can do good things. Doesn't make them non-evil.
    Last edited by chiasaur11; 2008-12-15 at 05:30 PM.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Quote Originally Posted by jguy View Post
    Why does this guy sound like the Hitler but for the race of humans against non-humans?
    ...because that's what he is?
    But seriously, just because you pat children on the head doesn't make you any better if your night hobby is slitting their parents throats.
    Just because you like humanity doesn't mean crushing all the hippy elves is suddenly forgiven.

    Essentially, the typical worshiper of Zarus would be Lawful Evil, just like his/her god. Having friends or people you like doesn't make you not evil if you're horrible to everyone else.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Yeah, DnD has absolute morality, so no.

    In any case, this guy sounds like the equivilent of a racial supremecist.

    Edit: ninja'd with a godwin
    Last edited by Project_Mayhem; 2008-12-15 at 05:33 PM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Quote Originally Posted by Project_Mayhem View Post
    Edit: ninja'd with a godwin
    Godwinja!!I needed two exclamation marks for 10 characters. Ironically, that is no longer necessary, but deleting it will also make this explanation necessary. Oh well.
    Last edited by monty; 2008-12-15 at 05:44 PM.
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Quote Originally Posted by Project_Mayhem View Post
    Edit: ninja'd with a godwin
    It's not really my fault that there is a godwin. The OP brought it up in the first place, after all. =P

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Godwinja!!
    You cant spell Godwinja without WIN!

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Definately Lawful Evil. He may be LG in intent, but is definately LE in motive.

    This brings up a good point though. If you're part of a LE group of divine casters and you think you're the good guys, then won't you detect yourselves and evil creatures? What happens if you meet some Good types? Do you register seperately or because of your own belief in your LGness, you....

    Man, I gotta sit down. This **** is deep.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowtraveler View Post
    Definately Lawful Evil. He may be LG in intent, but is definately LE in motive.

    This brings up a good point though. If you're part of a LE group of divine casters and you think you're the good guys, then won't you detect yourselves and evil creatures? What happens if you meet some Good types? Do you register seperately or because of your own belief in your LGness, you....

    Man, I gotta sit down. This **** is deep.
    Alignment in D&D is objective. If you're evil, you register as evil. Doesn't matter what you think.
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowtraveler View Post
    Definately Lawful Evil. He may be LG in intent, but is definately LE in motive.

    This brings up a good point though. If you're part of a LE group of divine casters and you think you're the good guys, then won't you detect yourselves and evil creatures? What happens if you meet some Good types? Do you register seperately or because of your own belief in your LGness, you....

    Man, I gotta sit down. This **** is deep.
    What happens is you start saying things like "The spell clearly isn't working correctly" and "The gods have gone mad. Clearly, all that matters is the purging of those beasts that have sent the universe into this dizzying lunacy!"
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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    KIDS's Avatar

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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Same is the case with some other gods in D&D. For example, Wastri the Hopping Prophet, a nazi-frog-fetish god that is depicted as LN in Greyhawk, yet all of his dogmas and actions scream evil to the point that Erythnull himself would be humbled.
    Also see Pholtus of Blinding Light, commonly depicted as LG but with an empire of racist, human-supremacy followers known for burning at stake pretty much anything that doesn't explicitly agree Pholtus is the only god and the absolute rule of his clerics (those two attributes, in addition to the burning-at-stake-torturing-inquisition fetish, are commonly found in each Greyhawk book that flaunts how he is still LG because it's subjective :D)

    Of course, I have seen those gods (particularly those!) taken out of their original shallow backgrounds and given life in a really gray or moderate world, providing some awesome adventures (long but enjoyable read, if you care to :) ). Only goes to prove that extremist alignments like the one OP brings up should be avoided.
    There is no good and evil. There is only more and less.
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  13. - Top - End - #13
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    I suddenly conjure the image of Dr. Doom here actually. He is a villain but there has been a lot of stories about how he treats his subjects of Latveria well and such. Don't know where I was going with this.

    Is there such thing as a LG Xenophobe?
    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_archmagi View Post

    DM says: WHY!? WHY!? WHY?!
    DM means: NO! NO! NO!!!
    Player hears: GOOD JOB PLAYER! DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN!

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    I agree that you will register as evil if you behave like that. My question is, will you know that it is evil? The books use the terms "good" and "evil" a lot, but is that the way the characters themselves perceive it?

    That probably needs some clarification. In OOTS, when Miko uses Detect Evil, the people actually get labeled "evil" and "not evil". Actual words are perceived on their bodies. I doubt it is so convenient in the actual game. Characters probably see, I dunno, light or darkness or something.

    So if you're a goblin cleric who worships an evil goblin deity, and has been raised to think of it as the right way of thinking all your life, you cast the spell, glance at a reflective surface, and see darkness.

    Do you think "Hey, apparently I'm evil. Guess I'm going to suffer horribly at the hands (claws, tentacles, whatever) of some sort of fiends when I croak. Oh well, back to kicking puppies. Muhuwahaha."

    Or is it "Ah, blackness, that's great. I'm obviously a good person who will be rewarded after I die, not like all those people who register as 'light' who will be torn asunder by those horrid celestials. Now, back to smiting those wicked puppies!"

    In short, we are all familiar with the cliche of the society who thinks evil is good and good is evil. The question is, do they know they think that? Are they like Redcloak and believe that doing evil is justified by their situation? Or do they not think they are evil at all?
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Quote Originally Posted by jguy View Post
    Is there such thing as a LG Xenophobe?
    Arguably yes. If you surround your nation with high walls and barbed wire and give the border guards orders to kill any foreigner trying to enter you could still qualify for LG. Provided you aren't actively attacking other races outside of your country you aren't committing an evil act.

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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    but as far as the cleric goes, wouldnt he be considered lawful neutral?
    Good+Bad=Neutral ... right ?

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Another question involving this supposed philanthropic xenophobe cleric. Say this guy is like the leader of a small city that had a moderate army. All around him are hostile races like goblins and orcs [you know, the obviously evil races]. Now would this man register as lawful evil if he led a crusade to wipe them out to show human superiority? What if he enslaved some of them to work for his town? What if he then came upon a small town of halflings and did the same? Suddenly Lawful Evil or still LE?

    Would a Paladin fall for killing him if all he had done at the time was crusade against obviously evil races but for LE reasons?

    Now say this dude was the major protector of this city and kept most of things in line, you know, high level dude surrounded by low level people. If the paladin kills him which directly leads to the sacking of the town by goblins b/c the dude wasn't there to protect them, would the paladin fall?
    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_archmagi View Post

    DM says: WHY!? WHY!? WHY?!
    DM means: NO! NO! NO!!!
    Player hears: GOOD JOB PLAYER! DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN!

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Artanis's Avatar

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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Quote Originally Posted by jguy View Post
    Another question involving this supposed philanthropic xenophobe cleric. Say this guy is like the leader of a small city that had a moderate army. All around him are hostile races like goblins and orcs [you know, the obviously evil races]. Now would this man register as lawful evil if he led a crusade to wipe them out to show human superiority? What if he enslaved some of them to work for his town? What if he then came upon a small town of halflings and did the same? Suddenly Lawful Evil or still LE?
    I think he'd ping as evil because I what I highlighted. If he led a crusade to wipe out the surrounding enemies in order to make his people safer, that might ping as good. But killing non-humans for the sake of killing non-humans? Not so much.

    Quote Originally Posted by jguy View Post
    Would a Paladin fall for killing him if all he had done at the time was crusade against obviously evil races but for LE reasons?

    Now say this dude was the major protector of this city and kept most of things in line, you know, high level dude surrounded by low level people. If the paladin kills him which directly leads to the sacking of the town by goblins b/c the dude wasn't there to protect them, would the paladin fall?
    This sounds like one of those situations where the Paladin would fall no matter what he did
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    ...What if, alignment detection isn't truly 'alignment' detection?

    Remember how (as you brought up) Miko sees not "Good, Evil, or Neutral", but only "Evil and Not Evil". What if, you detect your own alignment instead of Good or Evil? Instead of light and darkness, you would merely see an aura; one you identified with. If you weren't aware that you were evil, you would perceive said being as good, because you believe that that particular aura is Good instead of Evil. Also note this; assassins can hide their alignment. What does a Paladin see? Good, but weak or neutral yet strong? It only hides their alignment, so he/she would be perceived as neutral. Or, maybe good. Not sure, but not evil.

    Hey, I just realized that I can bring up Zykon's crown

    Zykon's crown emitted an aura so powerful that it could highlight even a good character as evil. What if it wasn't evil that rubbed off on the crown, but pure negative energy? After all, good clerics are powered by positive energy and evil by negative, and their aura grows with their power, so what if 'good' aura is just positive energy? Remember that clerics are (to my understanding) the only characters who emit such powerful auras. Fighters' auras sit still.

    Hell, I even have an explanation for how your alignment determines the type of energy. Good characters want to help. Evil characters want to harm. Unless you're undead, (and I don't think that counts, in this case) positive energy heals and mends while negative energy kills things and make them stand back up. Someone with good intent would be synchronized with positive energy, flip the cassette for evil people. (Hey, I just made up an expression )

    Note: I used Zykon's crown as an example. It does not (as far as I understand) reflect any of Rich's ideas. Though that would be neat, it's all me here. There, I said it.
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  20. - Top - End - #20
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Assassin89's Avatar

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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Being neutral does not mean one does an equal number of good actions and evil actions.
    The same idea works with law and chaos.
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  21. - Top - End - #21
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Devil

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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    In D&D's rules, "Evil" basically means that you knowingly harm other sentient beings in general more than you help them. Like a lot more. If you do this, you're probably aware of it. That's the whole "knowingly" part. You really should not be surprised to have a spell tell you this about yourself.

    Honestly, it works better if you rename "Evil" to something more specific like "Malevolence" or "Cruelty". Then characters in the game are free to use the words "good" and "evil" with the same flexibility they're used with in real life, without ambiguously referring to alignment.

    A cleric of Zarus probably shouldn't be so deluded as to think that mercilessly killing a bunch of people somehow isn't cruel. Clerics have good Wisdom, so they should be saner than most people, not less sane. That makes no particular amount of sense -- if anything, rationality probably negatively correlates with faith -- but that's how it works. It would probably be more intuitive if what's basically a "priest" class was Cha-based: Charisma more easily associated with divine favor, and appropriate to the role of religious leader.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    All this raises the question of how you portray a misguided character in D&D.

    There isn't a form of fiction that hasn't portrayed a character who does evil while thinking he is good. Whether it's a murderer who considers those he kills to be "sinners", or a soldier who has bought into the propaganda of an unrighteous cause, there have been plenty of villains who honestly had no idea that's what they were.

    In the world of D&D however, not only are good and evil totally objective points of view, but there is a first level spell that can immediately reveal the truth.

    Unless there are people who genuinely think evil is good, and vice versa, how can anyone be ignorant of where they actually stand? Imagine if our world were like that, and during an election year a paladin could scan the candidates and then announce their alignments on the news. Who do you think would be more shocked by the results, us or them?
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Suppose I'm a cleric of EvilMcNastyPants and I'm teaching all my little intiates how to cast their 1st level spells. But when I come to teach them Detect Evil and Detect Good I don't tell them that they are called Detect Evil and Detect Good. I teach them the correct gestures and the right chanting and tell them what sort of results to expect, I just don't tell them the "right" name, the name given in the PHB.

    I tell them the spells are called Detect Conviction and Detect Spinelessness. The first will let them identify people who are strong enough to do as they believe they should. The second will let them identify those who will let themselves be swayed by the whining of parasites.

    Does this "misinformation" prevent them from using the spells in useful manner? (By useful I mean: correctly identifying those people who possess the values that the spells were supposed to detect.) I don't think so.

    How would it shape the worldviews of these initiates and the worldviews of those they will in turn go on to teach?
    We end up with two factions: one that believes that stabbing people in the face to get what you want (for example) is wrong and that helping others who need it is right; and one that believes that stabbing people for pleasure and profit is right while giving up things you want to improve the position of others is wrong. Both agree on which is which.
    The points they disagree on (other than, ya know, their fundamental values) is whether the first faction should be called Good or Spineless and whether the second is Evil or Resolute.

    Is this moral relativity in a world of supposedly black and white distinctions? No matter what other miracles magic may do, no matter how it may turn the archetypal medievel-themed fantasy world on its head, people will still find a way to rationalise their choices.

    Of course, the faction that calls itself Good will be more inclined to open schools, hospitals and the like. They will be more welcome in small communities and on the high street. The terminology of Good vs Evil will be more widespread than that of Resolute vs Spineless. (Similarly, Law vs Chaos will be better known than Control vs Freedom, Stagnation vs Flexibility, Boringness vs Change or however Chaos is choosing to describe the conflict today).
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Quote Originally Posted by jguy View Post
    Another question involving this supposed philanthropic xenophobe cleric. Say this guy is like the leader of a small city that had a moderate army. All around him are hostile races like goblins and orcs [you know, the obviously evil races]. Now would this man register as lawful evil if he led a crusade to wipe them out to show human superiority? What if he enslaved some of them to work for his town? What if he then came upon a small town of halflings and did the same? Suddenly Lawful Evil or still LE?
    Probably LE due to poor motives. If the orc or goblin tribes were just minding their own business and he killed them anyway, or if he killed not just the warriors of the tribes but their women and children as well, then definitely evil.

    Would a Paladin fall for killing him if all he had done at the time was crusade against obviously evil races but for LE reasons?
    I wouldn't have a Paladin fall for killing him under those circumstances. It is evil, after all.

    Now say this dude was the major protector of this city and kept most of things in line, you know, high level dude surrounded by low level people. If the paladin kills him which directly leads to the sacking of the town by goblins b/c the dude wasn't there to protect them, would the paladin fall?
    This is where it gets a little more complicated. I would say that the paladin should probably take steps to ensure the safety of the city after killing its major defender. If he doesn't, he's just being callous and should probably fall. Whether this involves diplomacy: "we killed the guy who led the crusades, will you leave the city alone in return", taking over and defending the city himself, or some third option is at the whim of the DM.
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    might depend on the reason the pladin killed him, and how much of a justification the paladin had for doing so. How free a paladin is to act may depend on the setting and the DM.

    in some versions, the paladin is expected to give the "misguided villain" a chance to surrender, if the situation is such that the paladin has opportunity to make that offer.

    in others, when the situation is such that failure to act will result in somebody (even somebody evil) being murdered, Paladin might fall for Not Acting- he had the opportunity, and lives were riding on whether he acted or not.

    I see both points as valid. And both can be accomodated in the same setting- the demand to act when lives are at stake, and, the demand to show and offer mercy, when there is opportunity to do so.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Quote Originally Posted by hewhosaysfish View Post
    I tell them the spells are called Detect Conviction and Detect Spinelessness. The first will let them identify people who are strong enough to do as they believe they should. The second will let them identify those who will let themselves be swayed by the whining of parasites.

    ...

    Of course, the faction that calls itself Good will be more inclined to open schools, hospitals and the like. They will be more welcome in small communities and on the high street. The terminology of Good vs Evil will be more widespread than that of Resolute vs Spineless. (Similarly, Law vs Chaos will be better known than Control vs Freedom, Stagnation vs Flexibility, Boringness vs Change or however Chaos is choosing to describe the conflict today).
    Exactly! You kind of have to assume something like this is going on, or else that all the evil people in D&D are mustache twirling Snidely Whiplashes who just plain like being bad.
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    You kind of have to assume something like this is going on, or else that all the evil people in D&D are mustache twirling Snidely Whiplashes who just plain like being bad.
    ... But I like mustache twirling Snidely Whiplashes

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Given the number of books that stress that some evil charcters are definitely not this:

    (Tome of Magic, Savage Species, Champions of Ruin, Waterdeep City of Splendours, Lords of Darkness, Exemplars of Evil, heck, even Vile Darkness in places)

    I think there is plenty of support for nuanced, varied evil characters, who might even genuinely believe themselves to be "good but pragmatic"

    Though there is room for some Card Carrying Villains too
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2008-12-16 at 10:31 AM.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Paramour Pink's Avatar

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    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Me (and a bunch of others) are playing the follower to this same god. He's pretty fun so far (or maybe that's just the DM).

    Although, from how much this god loves most of humanity (short of the weak, who will be culled or changed, if you're doing your job right as one of his clerics), I really, really can't see him as the typical "well, you died, regardless of all the good you did for me, it's time you burned in torment instead of being rewarded. Enjoy this fate, forever." He's an Evil god, not a jerk (to humans).

    Anyway, if you take into consideration this long-winded link, off the top of my head, I think it says Zarus does/can accept his birthright playing nicely with all the other lesser races. Like most things, it'll depend on context. If an elf proves they're not weak they can be made an exception to the "kill it; it's not human" rule. Of course, you need to be ruthless with half-breeds in almost every circumstance. But it should be obvious why...
    Djinn_in_Tonic avatar. I owe him a big thank you.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    Male

    Default Re: Alignment question *beware!*

    Well, I know I've seen a god somewhere listed with 3 alignments, usually like Chaotic Neutral Good or Lawful Neutral Evil, so does a Lawful Good Evil or w/e exist or is that a no?

    Question referencing my earlier example. Couldn't the dude lead a crusade against the orc and goblins for both reasons? Show that humans are superior while at the same time making it safer for his city. I mean, this city is apparently surrounded by these races. What then?

    On what level would this guy be on the 'Smitability' scale if one such existed. Between 'no smite' and 'smite with no consequences' where would this guy be? Smite but make sure he's done something wrong?

    Another question [I know, I need to stop thinking so much]. Referencing the smiting this guy for pinging evil and crusading against orcs and goblins, wouldn't that lead to the paladin's arrest and execution by the townsfolk and police? I mean, all he did was kill orcs/goblins but for evil reasons and good intentions [that make sense?] Since paladins are lawful good, how is that against the law. And if this guy is the leader of the city, and discrimination isn't illegal, wouldn't that violate the lawful part? And what if the paladin was human?
    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_archmagi View Post

    DM says: WHY!? WHY!? WHY?!
    DM means: NO! NO! NO!!!
    Player hears: GOOD JOB PLAYER! DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN!

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