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What is Evil?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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3.5 Loyalist wrote:


Capture the high cultured evil foe, villain, underling, whatever, chain them up in a room. The whole party (except the bard) head in. Now keep making deliberate fail perform checks, amateur theatre, botched lines, Nicholas Cage emotional level acting. Keep at it and wait. He'll crack. They always crack.

now THIS is evil. how can you sleep at night after doing that to that poor defenceless violin?!?

at least they kept him away from the blackboard...


3.5 Loyalist wrote:
Capture the high cultured evil foe, villain, underling, whatever, chain them up in a room. The whole party (except the bard) head in. Now keep making deliberate fail perform checks, amateur theatre, botched lines, Nichols Cage emotional level acting. Keep at it and wait. He'll crack. They always crack.

Why leave out the bard? The way Versatile Performance works either Sing or Comedy is almost always going to be untrained. And if you have sing you probably have keyboard and the only portable keyboard instrument I know of is the accordion.

And the bard knows all the horrible bawdy ballads that the cultured elites can't stand.


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I left the bard out, out of respect for his craft. He doesn't need to hear or see this.


Atarlost wrote:
3.5 Loyalist wrote:
Capture the high cultured evil foe, villain, underling, whatever, chain them up in a room. The whole party (except the bard) head in. Now keep making deliberate fail perform checks, amateur theatre, botched lines, Nichols Cage emotional level acting. Keep at it and wait. He'll crack. They always crack.

Why leave out the bard? The way Versatile Performance works either Sing or Comedy is almost always going to be untrained. And if you have sing you probably have keyboard and the only portable keyboard instrument I know of is the accordion.

And the bard knows all the horrible bawdy ballads that the cultured elites can't stand.

one word: bagpipes.

my work here is done.


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The guard hired to watch the party lair hears bagpipes, followed by screams. He shudders.


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another form of torture.

Silver Crusade

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Ragnarok Aeon wrote:


I'm going to issue a simple challenge:

  • Define Evil
  • For the win:

    The "Mother in Law"!


    Whether an act is Good or Evil, generally depends on the motivation of the individual.


    loaba wrote:

    Whether an act is Good or Evil, generally depends on the motivation of the individual.

    Not in PF; certain acts are, by fiat, evil. Spells w/ the Evil descriptor are the most obvious, but the definitions of evil actions in the alignment section are evil regardless of the intent when taking them.

    Evil is a discrete thing in PF; not simply the absence of good. It is incarnate in extraplanar fiends, and resonates with those Evil-descriptor spells I mentioned... and is inherent in certain non-magical acts.

    I'm not arguing that this reflects real-world morality, or even that it makes perfect sense. But it is RAW, at the least, and given how strict the RAW is on the matter, I'd argue, RAI.


    The fact that an Inquisitor can be LG means that torture is okay... when used on the right (bad) people.

    Torture for fun? Yeah that's sadistic, and is only okay when done to a masochist.
    Torture for personal gain? That's classic evil.
    Torturing badguys for the sake of helping goodguys? +5 points!

    Even slavery... I don't see slavery itself as evil. It's just an avenue for VERY easy access to consequence-free evil. A good person can have slaves, treats them well and makes them feel safe and content with their lot.

    In the game I'm playing, one of the PCs is a slave owned by my Drow Rogue. Yes, my rogue is CE, but he treats his Hobgoblin Monk very well. The slave is loyal, and even when he doesn't know he's being watched, he willingly operates for my Rogue's agenda. How could anyone abuse or damage such a useful and reliable tool? No, it's prudent to reinforce such initiative and devotion, with rewards and the like. When you have a sword you like, you don't chip and hammer it, you keep it sharp and clean and in good order. The same goes for a good slave - treat it well, make it powerful, and keep the brainwashing on full tilt. The brainwashing? That's the evil part. The mass violence, torture, deception and homicide the slave is commanded to do? Evil as heck. The slavery itself? Not so evil... in fact it's a very healthy and mutually beneficial working relationship.


    Alitan wrote:
    loaba wrote:

    Whether an act is Good or Evil, generally depends on the motivation of the individual.

    Not in PF; certain acts...

    Did you see where I said generally? I specifically did not use all or the phrase "most of the time" for a reason. There are some acts that are going to be patently Good or Evil, likewise there are some acts that, to be judged as Good or Evil, are highly dependent upon a character's motivation.

    To determine if a PC's actions are Evil, you really have to look at their overall body of work.


    loaba wrote:
    Alitan wrote:
    loaba wrote:

    Whether an act is Good or Evil, generally depends on the motivation of the individual.

    Not in PF; certain acts...

    Did you see where I said generally? I specifically did not use all or the phrase "most of the time" for a reason. There are some acts that are going to be patently Good or Evil, likewise there are some acts that, to be judged as Good or Evil, are highly dependent upon a character's motivation.

    To determine if a PC's actions are Evil, you really have to look at their overall body of work.

    Sorry; took generally for a real-world referent. Oops.


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    I love how people act as if evil and good are objective.


    Robespierre wrote:
    I love how people act as if evil and good are objective.

    The whole point of most the worlds religions is to define objective good. In 80% of cases they agree. I love how agnostics believe they have a monopoly on correct philosophy.


    Robespierre wrote:
    I love how people act as if evil and good are objective.

    The fun part is, in PF they are objective. Demonstrably so. Detect Evil. Good. Etc.


    Robespierre wrote:
    I love how people act as if evil and good are objective.

    In Pathfinder, in terms of some game mechanics, the line between Good and Evil is crystal clear. Evil Caster casts some Evil spells. That's game-based Evil.

    Not every character is set up as patently Evil, but their actions, when judged over the long-term, could make them Evil.


    Malignor wrote:

    The fact that an Inquisitor can be LG means that torture is okay... when used on the right (bad) people.

    Torture for fun? Yeah that's sadistic, and is only okay when done to a masochist.
    Torture for personal gain? That's classic evil.
    Torturing badguys for the sake of helping goodguys? +5 points!

    Even slavery... I don't see slavery itself as evil. It's just an avenue for VERY easy access to consequence-free evil. A good person can have slaves, treats them well and makes them feel safe and content with their lot.

    In the game I'm playing, one of the PCs is a slave owned by my Drow Rogue. Yes, my rogue is CE, but he treats his Hobgoblin Monk very well. The slave is loyal, and even when he doesn't know he's being watched, he willingly operates for my Rogue's agenda. How could anyone abuse or damage such a useful and reliable tool? No, it's prudent to reinforce such initiative and devotion, with rewards and the like. When you have a sword you like, you don't chip and hammer it, you keep it sharp and clean and in good order. The same goes for a good slave - treat it well, make it powerful, and keep the brainwashing on full tilt. The brainwashing? That's the evil part. The mass violence, torture, deception and homicide the slave is commanded to do? Evil as heck. The slavery itself? Not so evil... in fact it's a very healthy and mutually beneficial working relationship.

    i disagree on pretty much all points, but doubt my arguements could do anything to change your views. as such, let us agree to disagree and leave it at that.


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    When I'm GMing, Evil is whatever I say it is.

    When I'm playing, Evil is whatever the GM says it is; or whatever I or the other party members reckon it is if the GM hasn't already called it.

    Hope that clarifies?


    I think that evil is when you place your rights above what is right for others and what the general cultural consenus considers to be right.

    To break it down into pathfinder alignment terms:

    Chaotic Evil....you place what is right for you, above what is right for anyone else, even your friends and party. You will betray anyone and anything if you think that, overall, you will benefit, the is the classic "me, me, me" attitude. You are generally too egotistical to consider the consequences for others, believing any sane person would act in the same way. This is not the same as betraying people just because you can, without regard to the consequenses to yourself, that is just psychotic.

    Neutral Evil.........You place what is right for your particular group/party/family over what is generally considered to be right. This usually comes over as a fairly extreme attitude of "I don't beleive in Good and Evil, I just believe in Us and Them". You can get pretty self rightous about your behaviour, particularly if you are putting your families rights above the general right.

    Lawful Evil.............You place what is right for your particular, country/religion/faction above what is "RIGHT". An example of this could be the "Country Right or Wrong" attitude of the British Empire. You generally recognise that what you are doing is generally considered to wrong and evil, but are prepared to take the consequences and the blame for the benefit of others.

    If you give players responsibility over large groups of people, then Lawful Evil behaviour can even be argued to be Lawful Good... (Search google of the "Theory of Dirty Hands" and you'll get a never ending source of ways to shaft Paladins)


    Too true!

    It seems that finding ways to shaft Paladins seems to be a fairly popular passtime for a significant number of people. If only they used that time and effort for productive stuff then imagine how much more cool content we might have kicking about.

    Mind you, I tend to find the Paladin-Hate crowd are generally the unwashed troglodytes of the hobby, so perhaps there's really no great loss after all.


    Shifty wrote:

    Too true!

    It seems that finding ways to shaft Paladins seems to be a fairly popular passtime for a significant number of people. If only they used that time and effort for productive stuff then imagine how much more cool content we might have kicking about.

    Mind you, I tend to find the Paladin-Hate crowd are generally the unwashed troglodytes of the hobby, so perhaps there's really no great loss after all.

    You're right of course, when I said "shaft" Paladins, I should have said "challenge" Paladins.

    Although in a lot of games, "challenging" and "shafting" Paladin's seem to two sides of the same coin, because a lot of people seem to play Paladin's so that they DON'T have to make interesting role playing decisions, and can instead say "I'm only following my code of honour", without any concern for the consequences, and often the body count, of the innocents that their "Lawful Good" alignment and class benefits are supposed to protect.

    Talking about Paladin's, makes me feel dirty, perhaps I should go wash....


    Well yes I sometimes wonder that the people playing that particular angle are indeed undercover Paladin-Hating unwashed troglodytes who are misrepresenting the class as an excuse for their appalling social graces to be foist upon us with an air of 'legitimacy', and to bring disrepute to a noble and decent class.

    Just sayin' :P


    Motivation has come up alot. I would also point to context. If I stab some random person at the bar minding their own business I just commited murder (evil). That same random person pulls a knife and attempts to kill me or someone else and I stab away I am a hero. This is both motivation and context.


    Gnomezrule wrote:

    Motivation has come up alot. I would also point to context. If I stab some random person at the bar minding their own business I just commited murder (evil). That same random person pulls a knife and attempts to kill me or someone else and I stab away I am a hero. This is both motivation and context.

    I've deliberately been staying away from context, for no other reason than I just don't want to be trolled. :)

    Lots of things can be rationalized; barbaric acts can be written off as "for the greater good." That's why you have to look at ALL of PC's decisions over the long-term. Eventually you will spot a trend one way or the other.

    You can only do so much in the name of national security.


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    Shifty wrote:

    Well yes I sometimes wonder that the people playing that particular angle are indeed undercover Paladin-Hating unwashed troglodytes who are misrepresenting the class as an excuse for their appalling social graces to be foist upon us with an air of 'legitimacy', and to bring disrepute to a noble and decent class.

    Just sayin' :P

    I don't hate Paladins, I love some things about Paladins for example:

    1. The have lesser restoration as first level spell. Lets you make wands of lesser restoration for 375gp.

    errrrr

    2. Detect Evil at will (How do they look at themselves in the mirror!)

    3. The way that they just don't see "I'm only doing what my honour code says" as the moral equivalent of "I was only obeying orders" or "Yes, My Fuhrer"

    4. The way that they are constantly having to remind other classes of how they have better social graces than them and how they are more noble and decent than others.

    5. That they aren't afraid to stoop to low grade insults when they feel the slightest challenge to their moral superiority.

    6. Of couse my favourite thing about Paladins, is that they wash regularly.

    Let me assure everyone that I give nothing to Paladin's except the love and respect that they so richly deserve.


    loaba wrote:
    Gnomezrule wrote:

    Motivation has come up alot. I would also point to context. If I stab some random person at the bar minding their own business I just commited murder (evil). That same random person pulls a knife and attempts to kill me or someone else and I stab away I am a hero. This is both motivation and context.

    I've deliberately been staying away from context, for no other reason than I just don't want to be trolled. :)

    Lots of things can be rationalized; barbaric acts can be written off as "for the greater good." That's why you have to look at ALL of PC's decisions over the long-term. Eventually you will spot a trend one way or the other.

    You can only do so much in the name of national security.

    I hear what you are saying but I am not proposing the ends justifing the means. I think that killing one inocent person to prevent hundreds of deaths is going to be evil either way. However context separates a good soldier from mass murderer. Certainly when we return to motivation an obedient and skillful soldier might be motivated by cruelty and thus evil. But whipping out a sword and charging everyone in the market place wanton killing. Whipping out a sword and charging the enemy is expected.

    I think motivation is probably a bigger factor in good vs evil and context plays a large role in law vs chaos.


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    peterrco wrote:
    If you give players responsibility over large groups of people, then Lawful Evil behaviour can even be argued to be Lawful Good... (Search google of the "Theory of Dirty Hands" and you'll get a never ending source of ways to shaft Paladins)

    Ah, but when do the players not have responsibility for large groups of people, even the entire population of the world in some high level games?

    In a typical campaign the players are making choices with national or global scale political ramifications from the moment the main plot is revealed. That would be 2/5 or 1/2 through a typical AP I think.

    Of the resolutions to the dirty hands paradox the absolutist solution is not viable. It decrees, essentially, that only evil people can be heroes because good people are constrained by morality even in the face of catastrophe. The consequentialist solution must be taken for non-evil heroes to exist at high level.

    I don't think many of us want to play d20 OGL with black and black morality.


    Gnomezrule wrote:
    I think motivation is probably a bigger factor in good vs evil and context plays a large role in law vs chaos.

    I very much agree with this statement.

    Question - the soldier who likes killing and just happens to be in the war zone, what about him? Is he just doing his job, which he happens to enjoy? I'd tend to say he's not Evil and not Good either. I'd need quite a few action reports, detailing lots of atrocities, before I'd be willing to say he was anything but Neutral.


    Worst way I've seen good, evil and alignment presented by a dm.

    1) There are no alignments.
    2) There are gods of life, and gods of un-life/undead.
    3) There is no good, no evil.
    4) Except undead, they are evil. Because they are anti-life, kill, oppose life and the living.
    5) But pcs kill often and for many reasons, but there isn't any alignment.

    So he sets up the undead as the big bad, because they are creatures of death that cause death. I find I just can't get behind the lets go kill all the undead mission. Cleric and paladin npcs jump forward as more important actors than the pcs, and we go along for the undead purging ride. It was a bit sad, the dm is also heavily Christian, so loves his Manichaeism and worship of the divine classes. It got a bit tiring.


    peterrco wrote:
    Shifty wrote:

    Well yes I sometimes wonder that the people playing that particular angle are indeed undercover Paladin-Hating unwashed troglodytes who are misrepresenting the class as an excuse for their appalling social graces to be foist upon us with an air of 'legitimacy', and to bring disrepute to a noble and decent class.

    Just sayin' :P

    I don't hate Paladins, I love some things about Paladins for example:

    1. The have lesser restoration as first level spell. Lets you make wands of lesser restoration for 375gp.

    errrrr

    2. Detect Evil at will (How do they look at themselves in the mirror!)

    3. The way that they just don't see "I'm only doing what my honour code says" as the moral equivalent of "I was only obeying orders" or "Yes, My Fuhrer"

    4. The way that they are constantly having to remind other classes of how they have better social graces than them and how they are more noble and decent than others.

    5. That they aren't afraid to stoop to low grade insults when they feel the slightest challenge to their moral superiority.

    6. Of couse my favourite thing about Paladins, is that they wash regularly.

    Let me assure everyone that I give nothing to Paladin's except the love and respect that they so richly deserve.

    As a player who loves rogues and barbarians, I have had so much trouble with paladins in the past. They are such dicks, and so often played one way, never wise or charismatic.


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    As someone who has played Paladins many times, still maintained the ability to do the right thing, and not get dice and other loose items thrown at me by my fellow players (which they are prone to do with little provocation) I can only conclude its not hard to roleplay a decent person who has stepped up to the noble ideals of Paladinhood and all the white knightery that comes with it.

    People playing the class like a 'douchewad with a holy mandate' at my table should bring a crash helmet and a thick skin.

    I can usually see it coming when they tell me they dump-statted the Int...

    Wisdom, temperance, justice, forgiveness, leniency, decency.

    Really not that hard yeah?


    Shifty wrote:

    As someone who has played Paladins many times, still maintained the ability to do the right thing, and not get dice and other loose items thrown at me by my fellow players (which they are prone to do with little provocation) I can only conclude its not hard to roleplay a decent person who has stepped up to the noble ideals of Paladinhood and all the white knightery that comes with it.

    People playing the class like a 'douchewad with a holy mandate' at my table should bring a crash helmet and a thick skin.

    I can usually see it coming when they tell me they dump-statted the Int...

    Wisdom, temperance, justice, forgiveness, leniency, decency.

    Really not that hard yeah?

    O.O

    You're Michael Carpenter!

    Sorry, couldn't resist...

    I've played one (1) Paladin, in a 2E/3E fusion. I think I played her well... but it was difficult: I usually play the L/E Wizard or N/E Rogue or Druid. Wrapping my brain around Paladinhood was an effort. I did have fun, and Raisha, the horse-nomad paladin has a special place in my heart. But I don't think I'll make the effort again.


    It is often slightly less than rewarding in and of itself, having to deal with the other players looking at you funny as they await your Paladin doing the whole Jekyll/Hyde thing is a bit taxing.

    At the end of the day there is 0 wrong with the class, but a lot wrong with a significant number of people playing the class. Though a lot of game disrupting grognards find it perversely fun to annoy other with the Paladin class, that is not a shortcoming of the class itself.

    Correlation =/= Causation.


    loaba wrote:
    Gnomezrule wrote:
    I think motivation is probably a bigger factor in good vs evil and context plays a large role in law vs chaos.

    I very much agree with this statement.

    Question - the soldier who likes killing and just happens to be in the war zone, what about him? Is he just doing his job, which he happens to enjoy? I'd tend to say he's not Evil and not Good either. I'd need quite a few action reports, detailing lots of atrocities, before I'd be willing to say he was anything but Neutral.

    The soldier who likes killing a little too much, but still limits all of his kills to legitimate targets, respects his comrades, respects the standards of decent conduct in warfare, etc... yeah, I'd agree with your assessment: most likely neutral-- possibly evil, possibly even good; [/i]depending on what else he does and why[/i]. A little bloodlust is not necessarily going to be the defining point that settles where you'd place him in the alignment spectrum.

    On that particular issue though-- seems to be 'neutral' actions, so long as he's not priming to give in to his feelings and become a murderer as soon as peace is declared and he can no longer hunt and kill enemies on a legitimate battlefield.


    Shifty wrote:

    As someone who has played Paladins many times, still maintained the ability to do the right thing, and not get dice and other loose items thrown at me by my fellow players (which they are prone to do with little provocation) I can only conclude its not hard to roleplay a decent person who has stepped up to the noble ideals of Paladinhood and all the white knightery that comes with it.

    People playing the class like a 'douchewad with a holy mandate' at my table should bring a crash helmet and a thick skin.

    I can usually see it coming when they tell me they dump-statted the Int...

    Wisdom, temperance, justice, forgiveness, leniency, decency.

    Really not that hard yeah?

    It ain't rocket science. :) (and really shouldn't be hard)

    Nice post, Shifty.


    Atarlost wrote:
    peterrco wrote:
    If you give players responsibility over large groups of people, then Lawful Evil behaviour can even be argued to be Lawful Good... (Search google of the "Theory of Dirty Hands" and you'll get a never ending source of ways to shaft Paladins)

    Ah, but when do the players not have responsibility for large groups of people, even the entire population of the world in some high level games?

    In a typical campaign the players are making choices with national or global scale political ramifications from the moment the main plot is revealed. That would be 2/5 or 1/2 through a typical AP I think.

    Of the resolutions to the dirty hands paradox the absolutist solution is not viable. It decrees, essentially, that only evil people can be heroes because good people are constrained by morality even in the face of catastrophe. The consequentialist solution must be taken for non-evil heroes to exist at high level.

    I don't think many of us want to play d20 OGL with black and black morality.

    Well put, I agree entirely.

    Dirty Hands effectively negates any list of activities to be considered good and evil, and replaces it with the question "Are you taking necessary actions motivated by the general good?" The key word being necessary.

    It boils down to do what you genuinely believe you have to do, and then submit yourself to a court of law afterwards.

    The classic dirty hands paradox is torture.

    "Is is OK to torture someone when you know that they have information that could save millions of lives, when torture is the only way to get that information in time to act on it"

    The Dirty Hands reesponse to this question is yes, and it would be evil to not torture someone in these absolute circumstances because you would be placing your own moral sensibilities over the lives of others.

    The shades of gray come from questions like:

    "how sure are you that he knows the information", you can never be absolutely sure of anything, so are you torturing someone based on a hunch? in which case you probably should not, or do you have solid evidence that they have the information? in which case you probably should.

    "how sure are you that the person will break in time for the information to be useful"....No point torturing someone if it's not going to work, thats just nasty.

    "how important is the information".....At one end of the scale if it's going to save millions of lives then the torture is probably necessary, at the other end of the scalee, if its to save a tyrant from a minor embaressment, then it probably is not.


    We're not playing Google Dirty Hands Theory. We're playing Pathfinder. And Pathfinder lists among many other specific actions that torture=evil. Not 'torture=evil except when really necessary;' just 'torture=evil.'

    Once again, in context: charm person, detect thoughts, suggestion (even a properly-cast illusory script) all make torture never necessary.


    Alitan wrote:

    We're not playing Google Dirty Hands Theory. We're playing Pathfinder. And Pathfinder lists among many other specific actions that torture=evil. Not 'torture=evil except when really necessary;' just 'torture=evil.'

    Once again, in context: charm person, detect thoughts, suggestion (even a properly-cast illusory script) all make torture never necessary.

    ... unless you're not a spellcaster.


    Malignor wrote:
    Alitan wrote:

    We're not playing Google Dirty Hands Theory. We're playing Pathfinder. And Pathfinder lists among many other specific actions that torture=evil. Not 'torture=evil except when really necessary;' just 'torture=evil.'

    Once again, in context: charm person, detect thoughts, suggestion (even a properly-cast illusory script) all make torture never necessary.

    ... unless you're not a spellcaster.

    If you're running in a party consisting entirely of non-casters, more power to you, but that isn't typical. And even non-casters w/UMD have the CAPACITY to access those spells. The POINT is that the magical resources GENERALLY AND EASILY AVAILABLE make the necessity argument false-to-facts.


    I'd also like to point out that even if torture were evil, evil acts are not taboo to anyone (except a Paladin). Also, numerous passages in the books advise against straitjacketing with alignments.

    So long as torture isn't the MO, and it's used for non-nefarious purpose, I don't see how it can't be tolerated.

    The problem is that people bring their own judgement and emotional attachments to the game, and impress them upon others. To me, that's the disruptive issue.


    How are we defining torture?

    Is it pain inflicted to obtain information?

    For example: Some kid steals his sister's doll and hides it. She asks him where it is, he refuses to tell her. She bites him so he'll tell her. Clearly this little girl is evil. She just tortured her brother to find out where her doll is.
    At least that's how it is in a world of absolutes


    I see torture as the deliberate infliction of pain or discomfort.
    Often, torture is used as a method for conditioning, punishment, or coercion.

    Isolation, starvation, sleep deprivation, verbal abuse... these can all be considered torture, so long as they are intended to administer suffering. Torture isn't always things like hot pokers, waterboarding or thumbscrews.


    Ragnarok Aeon wrote:

    I'm hoping to actually get into the minds of those who advocate their vision of alignment, so I'd really like this to not devolve into a flame war. I don't need to give background, we all know background, but what's missing is the reasoning. Asking to verify is fair game, but do please do not insult another poster (calling them dense, ignorant, etc). Do not call another poster "wrong" as that is subjective, this a thread to expand and try to understand eachother's reasoning. This is not the thread to discuss whether or not alignment belongs in the game. This is to understand how players and GMs view these alignments.

    I'm going to issue a simple challenge:

  • Define Evil

    Of the following, what is evil, why is it evil or not evil, and if it is evil how does it fit into the previous statement of evil?

  • Killing in General
  • Killing an innocent being (Define innocent being please)
  • Torture
  • Selfishness
  • Stealing / Looting
  • Poison
  • Dishonesty
  • Controlling Someone Else (ie. authority or geas)
  • Slavery
  • Threats / Intimidation
  • Worshiping an evil deity
  • Undead
  • Demons / Devils
  • Summoning / Creating "evil" entities to work for you

    If at the very least, I hope this can bring us to see how others can have such varying definitions of "evil".

  • My concept of good and evil can't really be summed up by a bullet-point chart of different actions which may or may not be typically associated with an alignment. After using alignment for so long, and reading the alignments between 3E and Pathfinder, I have basically come to realize it's very much like the following philosophies.

    Good = Altruism
    Neutral = Hedonism
    Evil = Sadism

    Altruism implies putting others before yourself, personal sacrifices for others, and kindness. Hedonism implies what is good for you, what you like, and what matters to you. Sadism implies hurting, oppressing, and being cruel to others. If you want to ignore the "isms" and break it down a bit further, there are a few fundamental principles that are almost universally considered good: Altruism, kindness, and selflessness for the benefit of others.

    Destructive things like cruelty, violence, and selfishness tend to be considered evil almost universally fundamental evils.

    This is pretty easy for almost anyone to realize with a simple test. Which would you prefer? That we help one another, treat each other with kindness, and considered your feelings? Or would you rather I take from you for myself, hurt you, and or destroy what you've created? Most any small child can answer which is good and which is evil.

    Adults can look at these things and put them into context. We can weigh the actions. While it's hurtful to deceive and lie to people in general, it's not necessarily the deception that is the evil, but how it is used. Deception can be used to create joy (such as with a stage magician, or a child's surprise party), or it could be used to hurt someone (such as cheating someone, or spreading dirty gossip). If Friar Tuck deceived the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham, and told him that Robin Hood was not here, to protect Robin Hood, even though he was actually in the Church Basement, Friar Tuck is using deception in an altruistic and good way.

    Likewise, even killing, which is generally considered evil can be used in good ways, which might not make killing good but it might prevent it from being evil. For example, a Paladin who kills a bandit to protect a village is using this thing that is normally seen as evil (killing/murder) in a altruistic way. Like it or not, justification has its place in morality. The paladin killed to protect, the bandit killed for his own benefit. Both killed, but their overall alignments are going to reflect drastically differently because of the circumstances surrounding those killings.

    Using these very basic concepts, we can (fairly easily) weigh the actions of something to determine whether it is good, evil, or neutral (neutral being not quite either). This extends to everything on the list. Nobody likes torture because it's cruel. Some forms of torture are even more cruel than others (effectively making it even more evil). However, if the party is questioning a kidnapper as to where a hostage is being held, and the clock is ticking, the Barbarian might tell that kidnapper "Look, every time you don't cooperate, I'm going to hit you. Now tell us where the hostages are!", and then might smack the ever-loving crap out of that badguy until he fesses up. Again, like killing, this is probably more of a neutral thing, because of the circumstances here.

    Worshiping an evil deity? Well you can worship and evil deity regardless of your alignment. In fact, you can worship an evil deity while actually being neutral too and draw divine magic from the deity. Worshiping an evil deity is technically no more evil than worshiping a potato. However, the stuff you do in the worship of that deity might be very evil, which may vary from deity to deity (some deities might require you to murder innocents as a life sacrifice, for example).

    Slavery? Well, slavery is a funny thing. We have a very biased view of slavery today, because of the evils that occurred as part of that slavery. However, those evils don't necessarily have to be part of the package, but I'm not going to get into that here. Let it suffice to say that again, how it was conducted and handled would determine where it falls in the fundamental good/evil axis.

    Poison? See above.

    Demons and Devils? Well the majority of them are obviously very evil. They're made of evil, essentially. Most are born from the raw essence of evil. Generally, they tend to be pretty evil. There are of course exceptions to everything. No truth is absolute. Just as an angel could become evil, a fiend could turn good. Even in the Core Rulebook, there are Neutral aligned fiendish creatures (if you are a Neutral spellcaster and you summon a fiendish creature, you get a Neutral-aligned fiendish creature). Most fiends are capable of choosing good. They just don't (maybe it seems to alien a concept to them, maybe they just really like being evil, maybe they've never experienced good, etc).

    Controlling someone else? See slavery. Circumstances are a big thing here. Why are you controlling them? What are you doing to them? Big questions. Charming an enemy to bring peace and maybe even friendship? Probably good. Charming someone to make them murder their family? Big ol' super Evil.

    Threats and Intimidation? See torture.

    Undead? Don't even get me started...

    Summoning/Creating evil entities to work for you? See killing, torture, controlling someone else.

    ==============================================
    And here's a big one. The intensity of an action is just as important as the action itself. Poking your sibling to be annoying because you think it's funny, but it's really irritating your sibling, is a form of selfish cruelty at their expense. However, that's such a minor evil that most would overlook it. Cranking it up to high octane selfish cruelty would be to stab them because you really like the way that the knife feels when it passes through their flesh or that pained expression in their eyes as they clutch you in duress.

    This is where justification falls away from things. It's why things like Genocide cannot be justified. It's why people would be fine with the barbarian punching the snot out of the dirtbag who deserves it, but would recoil at the barbarian setting the dirtbag's legs on fire and letting the flames slowly burn him to death from the ground up. There comes a point where you have stepped on the scale with a lead foot. ಠ_ಠ

    Cheliax

    The alignment system is pretty clear in most cases of what is good, neutral, and evil.

    However speaking in non-game terms, selfishness is the root of all evil and itself evil (though there are degrees of evil).

    Evil is when you pursie your happiness at the expense of others who are unwilling. Casting a spell on them to make them unwilling doesn't make it better if they were unwilling to have the spell cast on them. There are greater evils and lesser evils. For example, stealing is generally less evil than murdering children.

    When determing how evil stealing, the rightful ownership of something is important. Such, stealing something back that was stolen could be good and taking something that won't be missed wouldn't actually harm another person or infringe on their happiness.

    It is the disregard of others which is evil. Now, actions taken to stop evil, in defense of others or oneself, are good when the actions are an appropriate measured response. Killing a murderer is an appropriate response.

    Cheliax

    Continuing my previous post:

    Torture, like most things, is neutral. It depends how it's used. It could be a just punishment for a very evil act.

    However, a wise philosopher once said, "There are some acts of justice that corrupt those who perform them." Kind people would damage themselves by torturing others.

    Likewise, there's nothing inherently evil in poisoning. We use it today to execute criminals and call it humane.

    The soldier who enjoys killing, who doesn't care who he kills so long as it's legal, would be Lawful Evil.

    Now, the character Dexter Morgan who only kills evil people could be either Neutral Good or pure Neutral.


    Malignor wrote:

    I'd also like to point out that even if torture were evil, evil acts are not taboo to anyone (except a Paladin). Also, numerous passages in the books advise against straitjacketing with alignments.

    So long as torture isn't the MO, and it's used for non-nefarious purpose, I don't see how it can't be tolerated.

    The problem is that people bring their own judgement and emotional attachments to the game, and impress them upon others. To me, that's the disruptive issue.

    >sigh<

    I've never said it couldn't be tolerated. You can tolerate anything. My beef is with people trying to weasel out of it being an evil act. [Generally, real-world, as well as in-game. But ESPECIALLY in-game. PF provides an absolutist, objective answer for torture being evil. The fact that that definition agrees with my own feelings on the matter just makes me smug when I point out that RAW torture=evil.]


    Sigard Spleenbiter wrote:

    Continuing my previous post:

    Torture, like most things, is neutral. It depends how it's used. It could be a just punishment for a very evil act.

    However, a wise philosopher once said, "There are some acts of justice that corrupt those who perform them." Kind people would damage themselves by torturing others.

    Likewise, there's nothing inherently evil in poisoning. We use it today to execute criminals and call it humane.

    The soldier who enjoys killing, who doesn't care who he kills so long as it's legal, would be Lawful Evil.

    Now, the character Dexter Morgan who only kills evil people could be either Neutral Good or pure Neutral.

    "Just"=\="good." Just=lawful.

    And, once more for the cheap seats, torture is by definition in RAW game-terms, evil. Not neutral. Morally evil.

    And I'll argue that Dexter is Lawful, due to his adherence to the Code of Harry. He may be slipping towards neutral on that axis in later seasons when he begins to write his own code... but having and abiding by a code is a generally lawful thing to do.

    Lantern Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    This sort of thread generally Goodwins fairly quickly but I'll give a partial description of what I consider pure Neutral Evil, untainted by concerns of Law or Chaos.

    I'm thinking Hannibal Lector evil. When you draw on the commonalities of what many have expressed in this thread it boils down to supreme indifference. The absolute evil person is simply supreme in his indifference to the concerns and the pain of others.

    In science fiction, the Borg (before Voyager and the stupid movies put a "face" on them) were great examples of this kind of evil. Intelligent enough to perceive the pain they inflict, the desires of others, but simply giving no weight to these concerns in the face of their own whims or desire. These are not people misled by faulty perceptions, or bad raising.. These are people who set their goals and values and simply don't care about the thoughts and feelings of others. To judge the "evil" of a persons actions I look at the motivations and see how much they resemble this particular model.

    The best way I ever saw this modeled in gaming was the Humanity scale of original edition White Wolf Vampire.


    Alitan wrote:
    I've never said it couldn't be tolerated. You can tolerate anything. My beef is with people trying to weasel out of it being an evil act. [Generally, real-world, as well as in-game. But ESPECIALLY in-game. PF provides an absolutist, objective answer for torture being evil. The fact that that definition agrees with my own feelings on the matter just makes me smug when I point out that RAW torture=evil.]

    No weaseling here, simply awareness of the broken concept.

    "torture = evil" means that a Paladin can never intentionally inflict pain and suffering, to anyone or anything.

    Is punishing someone by cutting them with a knife or sword torture? (Yes.)
    Is chopping up a sentient being in order to reclaim something they stole an act of torture? (Yes.)
    If you beat/subdue someone, drag them to a town filled with their enemies, and submit them for confinement, starvation, abuse and/or the humiliation of public execution an act of torture? (Yes.)

    If these aren't torture, where is the line drawn?

    Most people, when they think of torture, think of chaining them up against a wall and burning em with pokers... or other such theatrical notions. But when you take 30 seconds to really ask yourself what constitutes torture, you realize that branding it "evil" in a game which focuses on violent conflict is a great way to look like a hypocrite... or as someone who simply made a mistake in definition.


    Define Evil... that seems easy.

    Evil people don't avoid harming others, in fact they may even enjoy it.
    Evil people are selfish. They place their own wants and needs above those of others.

    Evils deeds harm others.
    Can evil deeds be done by Good people? Yes often Good will commit evil upon evil doers in order to help others. You know... to punish or stop criminals. Keep in mind Lawful types are very picky about what is allowable in this sense. But it should be allowable for a Chaotic Good champion to torture a goblin to learn the particulars about how to stop the goblin clan from robbing and murdering human settlers. That same CG hero would never torture for expedience if there was another way to learn the information. Good people do NOT like performing evil even when it is necessary. An evil hero would resort to torture even if the group already had all the information. Simply to see the creature suffer. A neutral person would also avoid torture if there was another way BUT if that other way was far less convenient than torture... they probably would be ok with torture.

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