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I'm sick of good vs. evil


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew

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"True" neutrality according to categorical imperative... interesting.

But not something I would force onto my players, and certainly not something I would play.

Any given character is driven by several highly subjective perceptions, as the basis for reaction is rooted in previous cognition, forming our individual sets of reactions to any given situation. Thus, to claim that even TEN neutral characters is identical in how they would (or indeed should) approach a situation is suspect at best, and the notion that ALL neutral characters should subscribe to the same outlook is downright preposterous.

A neutral character is merely a person that do not (or at least in a lesser degree) subscribe to a highly predetermined set of ethics (G/E/L/C).

That being said, I do not believe real world ethics and morality translates too well to Pathfinder, much like real world religion. Pathfinder has a much higher level of determinism than real life, and rightly so, as it is a game bound by rules and predetermined guidelines.

In real life, you can reasonable question religion and ethics. In Pathfinder, it is common knowledge that when you die, you go to Pharasma to get your final judgment. That alone invalidates the notion of true free will, as you KNOW how the cosmos works.


Moral philosophy makes a distinction between moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil includes freely chosen actions that harm others, misuse what it good, encourage anti-paladins to burn thorps, et cetera.

Natural evil includes things that harm others, but do not result from choice. Instead, natural evil includes things such as disease, drought, flooding, et cetera.

If you're tired of "good versus evil", focus your campaign on "us versus natural evil" instead. Since players like their characters to have something to hit, toss in a few villains (looters, price gougers), but have the natural disasters being drive by amoral forces. Perhaps elementals?

A common theme in literature (see A Midsummer Night's Dream, for example) is that disorder in the supernatural realm produces disorder in the natural realm. A war between elemental planes could produce planar shockwaves that cause earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, et cetera, in the Material Plane.

Have your players' characters put a stop to that instead just trouncing the next evil overlord.

Silver Crusade

you need to remember, devils and angels will team up against the demons.
And ALL the gods, including the evil ones, teamed up against ol' Rover.

So it's not clear cut evil vs good

sometimes it's evil vs evil

or good and evil vs insane evil

or

I'm gonna do whatever a bear would do.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Donovan Lynch wrote:

You are the one claiming he's evil, when the example character hasn't (IMO) done anything evil.

If passing information to an anti-paladin is evil (as you claim), what do good and especially neutral people do in his place? I presume that good would fight the anti-paladin (although of course, a different kind of good might well try to redeem him, and/or be a pacifist).

But how do YOU feel a neutral character should act towards an anti-paladin? Particularly, how does it differ from a good person's behavior towards one?

No, I specifically said he is NOT evil. He's promoting evil.

A neutral character would avoid dealing with the antipaladin, where as a good character would work against him.

I find the idea that the Neutral character must walk away and avoid dealing with him to be the ideal of a Good character/passive resistance.

A neutral character 'might' try to avoid him, because he's an untrustworthy, murderous bastard. On the other hand, a proactive Neutral character would be more then happy to manipulate him into doing his work for him, especially if it's going to get the AP killed. neutrals can and do work with anyone when it suits them.

What you're proposing is that Neutrals cannot be very proactive. They can be quite ruthlessly proactive when their interests are threatened...the level of resistance just doesn't get violent until it has to.

=+Aelryinth

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Aelryinth wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Donovan Lynch wrote:

You are the one claiming he's evil, when the example character hasn't (IMO) done anything evil.

If passing information to an anti-paladin is evil (as you claim), what do good and especially neutral people do in his place? I presume that good would fight the anti-paladin (although of course, a different kind of good might well try to redeem him, and/or be a pacifist).

But how do YOU feel a neutral character should act towards an anti-paladin? Particularly, how does it differ from a good person's behavior towards one?

No, I specifically said he is NOT evil. He's promoting evil.

A neutral character would avoid dealing with the antipaladin, where as a good character would work against him.

I find the idea that the Neutral character must walk away and avoid dealing with him to be the ideal of a Good character/passive resistance.

A neutral character 'might' try to avoid him, because he's an untrustworthy, murderous bastard. On the other hand, a proactive Neutral character would be more then happy to manipulate him into doing his work for him, especially if it's going to get the AP killed. neutrals can and do work with anyone when it suits them.

What you're proposing is that Neutrals cannot be very proactive. They can be quite ruthlessly proactive when their interests are threatened...the level of resistance just doesn't get violent until it has to.

=+Aelryinth

I don't think giving the Antipaladin directions to the thorp is necessarily evil, but giving the Antipaladin directions to the thorp with the expectation that he'll wipe the place out is definitely leaning evil, in my opinion.

Neutral characters have compunctions against killing, and manipulating someone else to kill for you is still killing.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

neutral characters also have desires to protect their own, and the axe falling somewhere else is regrettable, but at least it's not on them.

Which, if you think about it, is exactly the attitude most people have for trouble spots all around the world today.

==Aelryinth

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Aelryinth wrote:

neutral characters also have desires to protect their own, and the axe falling somewhere else is regrettable, but at least it's not on them.

Which, if you think about it, is exactly the attitude most people have for trouble spots all around the world today.

==Aelryinth

Absolutely, I just think sending an antipaladin at the problem is going to be a Neutral character's last resort, rather than his first. (And if he makes a habit out of solving his problems that way, that's probably a good indication that he isn't so Neutral after all).


Donovan Lynch wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:

No, it's manipulative, which Neutral does not have a monopoly on. Neutral characters are in no way required to 'balance' things or manipulate people any more than any other alignment.

Neutral characters can be apathetic, or they can just be easygoing. They are 'generally honest, but can be tempted' and 'may lack commitment'.

You keep harping on one kind of character like that is the only character it could be.

I don't believe he's ever said the character he's describing is the only character that Neutrality could be...just that it's a good example of neutrality (and honestly, I believe him).

You are the one claiming he's evil, when the example character hasn't (IMO) done anything evil.

If passing information to an anti-paladin is evil (as you claim), what do good and especially neutral people do in his place? I presume that good would fight the anti-paladin (although of course, a different kind of good might well try to redeem him, and/or be a pacifist).

But how do YOU feel a neutral character should act towards an anti-paladin? Particularly, how does it differ from a good person's behavior towards one?

Give the AntiPaladin the direction of the nearest prison... er, home for the dieing elderly.


The Leaping Gnome wrote:

What I want to know is if there is any way to remove good and evil entirely. It seems like a large reason why it's here at all is so that players don't feel bad about regularly committing genocide."Oh, it's just a goblin, it doesn't have a wife and kids, and it certainly isn't a productive member of society. Let's bash it's brains in and rob it's corpse!" That's profiling.

How would you possibly begin to remove good and evil as alignments from Pathfinder?

Another way of looking at good v. evil in pathfinder, and one that follows a lot of fantasy writing, is that "good" means you are on my side and "evil" means you are not (my side of course being the side of goodness).

As for removing alignment, I woul:
1. Replace all instances in spells, class features, effects, etc.. of "evil" with "creatures with the evil subtype" and all instances of "good" with "creatures with the good subtype."

2. Remove all good and evil alignment requirements on classes, feats, etc...

Shadow Lodge

slacks wrote:
Another way of looking at good v. evil in pathfinder, and one that follows a lot of fantasy writing, is that "good" means you are on my side and "evil" means you are not (my side of course being the side of goodness).

Ah, protagonist-centered morality.


TOZ wrote:
slacks wrote:
Another way of looking at good v. evil in pathfinder, and one that follows a lot of fantasy writing, is that "good" means you are on my side and "evil" means you are not (my side of course being the side of goodness).
Ah, protagonist-centered morality.

Nah, it can work for both sides.

Your country is fighting an Holy war/crusade against another country's Unholiness; on their point of view, they are the ones fighting in an Holy war/crusade against your Unholiness.

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Both of those are protagonist-centered moralities. Just of two different stories.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Yeah, I thought about the whole "us-and-them" thing but it still doesn't support what I'm talking about.

What I want is rules that support good role-playing. Someone being "evil" doesn't tell me anything about what motivates him. If he's greedy or bloodthirsty then I have a better idea what's going on in his head.

I almost feel like only creatures with alignment subtypes should be those alignments, everyone else is just following their own moral compasses or live up to an ideal (like what paladin's do).

Do you think that could work in Pathfinder? Make every creature capable of choice (i.e. free will) true neutral and let the gods judge them?

Slacks suggestions are a good start, but there are certainly other factors that need to be considered.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Belle Mythix wrote:
Your country is fighting an Holy war/crusade against another country's Unholiness; on their point of view, they are the ones fighting in an Holy war/crusade against your Unholiness.

I just remembered a conversation I had about a paladin who used detect good instead of detect evil, so that he could decide who deserved saving.

Yeah, pallys are jerks.


Ummm... I'm confused.

I thought the thread was about "plot-lines", but the satisfaction came with creating a character.

So, the plot continues to be good vs. evil... the character is just "not forced" to pick sides based on any moral/ethical criteria.

Nothing has been escaped. We have only arrived at the illusion of free will.

Because when big bad (evil) comes knocking, and beats the crap outta Joe Neutral... He's gonna have to side with "good". Genuine allegiance or not.

True Neutral is inhuman, inert, stone, water, construct. It either does not enforce it's will... or enforces it supremely.

True Neutral could be the great enemy, stopping progress, disallowing a preference, forcing modulation, mediocrity.

Now, I say LN is really NL and CN is real NC. So that L, C, E & G are the 4 directions of the moral/ethical compass. And each has a Neutral component as relates to the other axis.

Techincally, I suppose you could have Good Lawful, Good Chaotic, Evil Lawful and Evil Chaotic. The emphasis being on the Law or Chaos with Evil and Good being secondary descriptors.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

I'm arguing that it is goofy to have everything in black and white. IMO, humans are not born with any predisposition to do right or wrong, so why should our characters be? Forget alignment and focus on what drives your character. Let them grow organically and see what they become as plot progresses. I don't think that what motivates a character can be summed up in nine alignments. Why can't our characters have more depth than that?

Besides if we did away with alignments then DMs could finally stop worrying about a simple detect evil spell ruining an elaborate plot. (At will is waaaaaay too often.)

You could still have good and evil and law and chaos but your characters wouldn't BE good or evil. They would commit evil or strive to be "good", but that isn't what they are made out of.

Leave good and evil to the angels and fiends.


but nothing about the alignment system forces characters to have only 9 personalities.
it's just a measurement of where you sit within the range of things,
just as any chemical system can be measured by temperature and pH but those things are only very general determinants that don't really get into the true details of the chemical system. just because you can divide temperature into (+/neutral/-) ranges and likewise for pH doesn't make the entire world 'black and white'... good/evil and law/chaos are just two arbitrary measurement scales, you don't have to pay them any more attention than you want to.

nobody should worry about 'playing the character's alignment', they worry about playing the character,
the GM worries about how to judge the net balance of the character's alignment
if and when it's important to know what the alignment is (detect, smite, etc).

alignment matters for where your soul goes (in golarion).
golarion's cosmology doesn't work if you say your character doesn't have an alignment...
they have to go SOMEWHERE after they die, after all.


The Leaping Gnome wrote:

Yeah, I thought about the whole "us-and-them" thing but it still doesn't support what I'm talking about.

What I want is rules that support good role-playing. Someone being "evil" doesn't tell me anything about what motivates him. If he's greedy or bloodthirsty then I have a better idea what's going on in his head.

I suggest you look at the Mouseguard RPG for some ideas on how to promote role playing in a rule set. More or less, players write down what motivates them and get a mechanical reward for playing to that, or dramatically against it (showing character growth).

This is different than just removing the alignment system from Pathfinder.


Alignment poll , I wonder how many of them honestly think the are good.


The Leaping Gnome wrote:
Belle Mythix wrote:
Your country is fighting an Holy war/crusade against another country's Unholiness; on their point of view, they are the ones fighting in an Holy war/crusade against your Unholiness.

I just remembered a conversation I had about a paladin who used detect good instead of detect evil, so that he could decide who deserved saving.

Yeah, pallys are jerks.

"America"'s War on Terror post 9/11/2001; both side were calling themselves "Lawful Good Holy Crusaders fighting against Chaotic Evil Terrorists/Dictators/Enemies of Humanity/etc"... From outside of the conflict, many saw it as Evil vs Evil.

So Subjective vs Objective Morality.

Not counting that in Pathfinder; Chaos, Law/Order, Good and Evil are Concepts/Powers of Cosmic proportion/importance.


I tend to step away from Good vs Evil and more to Exalted vs Vile. Those decisions seem to have less grey area, in my opinion. I also only try to bring alignment into play when there is a character whose class powers are based on alignment in the party.

Silver Crusade

Some say that alingment boils down to how much of a jerk you are.

However, you can still be a jerk and be good.

So, it really boils down to.

"Who's more important, me or them?"

If it's "others first, at my expense " then it's good

If it's "Me first, at the expense of others" then it's evil

If it's "I don't care, what would a bear do or what keeps the balance?" then it's neither.


Another possible interpretation of neutral would to me be a moral system that is incapable to be fitting into normal categories, like the Proteans (in regards to Good vs. Evil) or the Aeons (which are completely enigmatic), or the Übermensch of Nietzsche.


This is why I'm more and more leaning toward not using alignment at all. 'The balance' is evil or insane to anyone that actually thinks about it.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Is this a call for Postmodern Pathfinder?


Sure, why not?

Cheliax

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Sweet. Everyone loves ambiguity, right?

Cheliax

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

And human nature and subjectivity and all that noise and hullabaloo.


Addendum: I'm okay with such concepts of balance as the druid that wants to keep civilisation from encroaching on nature but also respects civilisation's right to exist. A moderate environmentalist, more or less.

What I don't like is the one that decides there must be an arbitrary amount of good and evil in the universe and if feeling that there's too much of one, goes around helping the other and then switching sides as soon as they meet the tipping point. That character has no rational basis by which to act that way. It's just evil insanity with a thin justification of some intangible balance that cannot be proven.

Aeons are basically cosmic exemplars of that madness. They act on vague pointlessness that may or may not be true but nobody has any way to know for sure. To most perspectives, they do random stuff for no reason. If we judged outsiders by mortal values, they would be evil. But they get a free pass because... uh... they're 'unknowable'?

Shadow Lodge

xn0o0cl3 wrote:
Sweet. Everyone loves ambiguity, right?

They must. The alignment system is full of it. :)

Cheliax

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
TOZ wrote:
xn0o0cl3 wrote:
Sweet. Everyone loves ambiguity, right?
They must. The alignment system is full of it. :)

Must be why we all love having long, friendly conversations about it!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Real life is full of ambiguity because we have a hands off God (assuming you are a Christian / Jew / Moslem believer) who does not intervene in daily life and tell you what is what. What has been said in the distant past is open to interpretation and no one supernatural is saying "Hey, that's not it". People in a D&D / PF universe don't have that freedom. Some being is telling them what "good" and "evil" are and is definitely judging their actions. Can they go against the grain? Yes. You have free will, but you also have the knowledge of sure and certain consequences for your actions.

In real life "good" is often defined as "for us", and "evil" is "against us". The definition of good and evil are, to an extent, flexible and relative. Good and Evil in Golarion (or other FRPG worlds) are more tightly defined and people might define themselves as "evil" as opposed to "good" without meaning the "outsider / wrong evil" of real life. "Good" does not mean "right" and "evil" does not mean "wrong". They are valid philosophies, not judgement values.

In short, Good / Evil and Law / Chaos are valid descriptors (and not matters of viewpoint) because the environment of a FRPG world makes them so.

All subject to rule 0 of course :D


R_Chance wrote:

In real life "good" is often defined as "for us", and "evil" is "against us". The definition of good and evil are, to an extent, flexible and relative. Good and Evil in Golarion (or other FRPG worlds) are more tightly defined and people might define themselves as "evil" as opposed to "good" without meaning the "outsider / wrong evil" of real life. "Good" does not mean "right" and "evil" does not mean "wrong". They are valid philosophies, not judgement values.

In short, Good / Evil and Law / Chaos are valid descriptors (and not matters of viewpoint) because the environment of a FRPG world makes them so.

All subject to rule 0 of course :D

That's one thing I liked about Eberron. While it still had the basic underlying objectivity (you can't really touch that without redoing large sections of the game mechanics and spells), they made a world where there was also a fair amount of subjective morality in play as well on top of the objective morality. My own world does something similar. The objective measurements are still there and in play when it comes to the other planes and their inhabitants. It also comes into play when anyone on the material plane leans toward extremes of any of the alignments, but for the most part, morality on the material plane is much more subjective. The objective layer is still there, but in day to day life, the subjective layer is typically more visible and practiced. This is the best compromise I've been able to come up with without completely rewriting major chunks of the game mechanics; it allows a realistic portrayal of how most people would actually handle it in most instances while retaining the fundamental definitions the the game assumes to be present.


R_Chance wrote:
...People in a D&D / PF universe don't have that freedom. Some being is telling them what "good" and "evil" are and is definitely judging their actions. Can they go against the grain? Yes. You have free will, but you also have the knowledge of sure and certain consequences for your actions.

Sure, but which being is telling you what is "good" and "evil"?

Who decides which gods are "good" and "evil"?

This arguement would make more sense to me if Golarion had only one god, or even if it had two opposing gods (although you'd have to figure out which is "good" and which "evil").


slacks wrote:
R_Chance wrote:
...People in a D&D / PF universe don't have that freedom. Some being is telling them what "good" and "evil" are and is definitely judging their actions. Can they go against the grain? Yes. You have free will, but you also have the knowledge of sure and certain consequences for your actions.

Sure, but which being is telling you what is "good" and "evil"?

Who decides which gods are "good" and "evil"?

This arguement would make more sense to me if Golarion had only one god, or even if it had two opposing gods (although you'd have to figure out which is "good" and which "evil").

Their portfolios and mindset decide their alignment.

Asmodeus stands for slavery, tyranny, contracts and pride. Dark and vile things that promote selfishness at the cost of others, with a strict set of rules that all must adhere to. Hence LE.

Irori stands for self-perfection, history, knowledge... all things that are not aligned to evil nor good, but are all depending on discipline and order, thus LN.

Gorum is a typical god of battle. He strikes at all equally, and promotes the warrior ideal, that all can, and should, fight. His vision is one of chaos, but not aligned to good nor evil. Thus CN.

Iomedae is the mother of paladins, embodying all the virtues that comes along, so obviously LG.

Erastil promotes community (order), family (order+good) and living in harmony with your surroundings. Thus LG.

Torag is the defender, who provides for and protects others, selflessly standing stoic against all evil that would claw at the weak. Thus LG.

Etc

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

But why does anyone willingly follow/worship evil deities when they know they are evil? If Pharasma decides where all souls go, why would you risk your soul to an eternity of suffering on a lower plain? If it's just a Faustian bargain type thing, a few good years on earth for an eternity of damnation, I find it hard to believe that all evil characters are that stupid, or that gullible.

In the real world there is ambiguity as to what is "good" but in Pathfinder it's set in stone. Slavery wasn't viewed as "evil" for hundreds of years in our world, the Nazis thought genocide was a pretty good idea, same deal with the crusades and inquisition. People are still being murdered or abused over homosexuality and abortion. In Pathfinder, characters don't have the luxury of claiming they didn't know what they were doing was evil or that what they were doing was "good" or "right" or whatever.

In Pathfinder, there are a number of deities that are known to be good, evil, etc. If Pharasma decides a soul's fate after death, shouldn't it be the DM's job to decide what your character's alignment is based on your character's decisions in life?


In modern terms, we decide (more or less) collectively what is "good" and "evil" but this accepts a level of ambiguity that some have suggested does not exist in the PF universe.

R_Chance has said that Golarion does not have this level of ambiguity because some supreme being sets the standard. My point is that the PF world does not have a single supreme being to set the standard but rather a pantheon. That means there is still no clear authority to judge "good" and "evil."

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

I'd concede to that. But mortals do have an "authority" that judges them in the form of Pharasma, granted this is only in Golarion.

Homebrew is homebrew, so I suppose that it falls to the DM anyway how to interpret most of this stuff.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
slacks wrote:

In modern terms, we decide (more or less) collectively what is "good" and "evil" but this accepts a level of ambiguity that some have suggested does not exist in the PF universe.

R_Chance has said that Golarion does not have this level of ambiguity because some supreme being sets the standard. My point is that the PF world does not have a single supreme being to set the standard but rather a pantheon. That means there is still no clear authority to judge "good" and "evil."

It has multiple deities. They have their own definitions of what is "right". Some, Asmodeus for example, think "evil" is right. Good and evil are objective labels describing behavior. Which you think is "right" or "wrong" depends on your religion / alignment. You have to dump the idea that evil = wrong. In this type of polytheistic system with multiple moralities it doesn't. What is right is relative, the definitions are not.

*edit* In short, a good deity thinks evil is wrong while an evil deity thinks good is wrong.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

The Leaping Gnome wrote:
But why does anyone willingly follow/worship evil deities when they know they are evil? If Pharasma decides where all souls go, why would you risk your soul to an eternity of suffering on a lower plain? If it's just a Faustian bargain type thing, a few good years on earth for an eternity of damnation, I find it hard to believe that all evil characters are that stupid, or that gullible.

Well for one, being sent to a lower plane doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be suffering for all eternity. If your actions in life pleased your Evil God, they actually reward you in the afterlife. It's only when you fail to please your Evil God (perhaps by not fully dedicating yourself to worship, or by letting those pesky adventurers foil your plans, etc) that you get tortured.


The Leaping Gnome wrote:

But why does anyone willingly follow/worship evil deities when they know they are evil? If Pharasma decides where all souls go, why would you risk your soul to an eternity of suffering on a lower plain? If it's just a Faustian bargain type thing, a few good years on earth for an eternity of damnation, I find it hard to believe that all evil characters are that stupid, or that gullible.

In the real world there is ambiguity as to what is "good" but in Pathfinder it's set in stone. Slavery wasn't viewed as "evil" for hundreds of years in our world, the Nazis thought genocide was a pretty good idea, same deal with the crusades and inquisition. People are still being murdered or abused over homosexuality and abortion. In Pathfinder, characters don't have the luxury of claiming they didn't know what they were doing was evil or that what they were doing was "good" or "right" or whatever.

In Pathfinder, there are a number of deities that are known to be good, evil, etc. If Pharasma decides a soul's fate after death, shouldn't it be the DM's job to decide what your character's alignment is based on your character's decisions in life?

Let just say that Heaven is often despicted as being a dull place, full of obliviousness that pass for happyness, some say order is maintained by removing the free wills of its inhabitants; so some people would prefer a (supposed) chance to party in Hell (not the DnD/PF one) for all eternity over the (supposed) slavery in Heaven.


R_Chance wrote:

It has multiple deities. They have their own definitions of what is "right". Some, Asmodeus for example, think "evil" is right. Good and evil are objective labels describing behavior. Which you think is "right" or "wrong" depends on your religion / alignment. You have to dump the idea that evil = wrong. In this type of polytheistic system with multiple moralities it doesn't. What is right is relative, the definitions are not.

*edit* In short, a good deity thinks evil is wrong while an evil deity thinks good is wrong.

In that case I would argue that "good" and "evil" are very misleading labels. I can see your point though.

Given the understanding that individual dieties determin right and wrong for their followers, I could see where deities with the same alignment could have different ideas about what is right and wrong.

If good and evil are objective descriptions, would you care to define them?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
slacks wrote:
R_Chance wrote:

It has multiple deities. They have their own definitions of what is "right". Some, Asmodeus for example, think "evil" is right. Good and evil are objective labels describing behavior. Which you think is "right" or "wrong" depends on your religion / alignment. You have to dump the idea that evil = wrong. In this type of polytheistic system with multiple moralities it doesn't. What is right is relative, the definitions are not.

*edit* In short, a good deity thinks evil is wrong while an evil deity thinks good is wrong.

In that case I would argue that "good" and "evil" are very misleading labels. I can see your point though.

Given the understanding that individual dieties determin right and wrong for their followers, I could see where deities with the same alignment could have different ideas about what is right and wrong.

If good and evil are objective descriptions, would you care to define them?

What makes them misleading is that we have been trained to equate "evil" with "wrong" and "good" with "right". I guess God is LG :) Once you get by that cultural imperative, it's easy.

As for definitions, already done, if a bit sketchy. To quote the Core Rulebook (page 166):

Pathfinder Core Rulebook wrote:


Good Versus Evil
Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Evil
characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life,
whether for fun or profit.
Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern
for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make
personal sacrifices to help others.
Evil implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others.
Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others
and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others
actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some
evil deity or master.
People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have
compunctions against killing the innocent, but may lack the
commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others.

The individual alignment descriptors for good (LG, NG, CG) and evil (LE, NE, CE) expand on that a bit. Individual religions do as well in other books. You could still write books on it but in the end that's why we have DMs (or GMs if you prefer) -- to arbitrate and interpret the rules.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Let me put forth a different question then. A few paragraphs above what R_Chance quoted says:

Pathfinder Core Rulebook wrote:
Alignment is a tool for developing your character's identity...

So, how effective is alignment at defining your characters? If "alignment represents a broad range of personality types or personal philosophies" how much does it actually help you role-play your character? What does it add beyond that "us-vs-them" mentality that so many creatures in the bestiary play off of (i.e. angel v. fiends, inevitables v. proteans, and "I'm-an-evil/foreign-savage-come-kill-me").


The Leaping Gnome wrote:

Let me put forth a different question then. A few paragraphs above what R_Chance quoted says:

Pathfinder Core Rulebook wrote:
Alignment is a tool for developing your character's identity...
So, how effective is alignment at defining your characters? If "alignment represents a broad range of personality types or personal philosophies" how much does it actually help you role-play your character? What does it add beyond that "us-vs-them" mentality that so many creatures in the bestiary play off of (i.e. angel v. fiends, inevitables v. proteans, and "I'm-an-evil/foreign-savage-come-kill-me").

Alignment is a good starting point. Admittedly, I redefined a lot of the alignments for my game and for when I play, but I still use them.

Players need it. It is hard for a PC not to be a murderous hobo psychopath, so writing "Chaotic Good" on your sheet can help direct your actions a little.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The Leaping Gnome wrote:

Let me put forth a different question then. A few paragraphs above what R_Chance quoted says:

Pathfinder Core Rulebook wrote:
Alignment is a tool for developing your character's identity...
So, how effective is alignment at defining your characters? If "alignment represents a broad range of personality types or personal philosophies" how much does it actually help you role-play your character? What does it add beyond that "us-vs-them" mentality that so many creatures in the bestiary play off of (i.e. angel v. fiends, inevitables v. proteans, and "I'm-an-evil/foreign-savage-come-kill-me").

As Cranewings said, it's a starting point. It should tell you (or be selected to tell you) about some basic traits of your characters personality. I'm glad alignment is not tightly defined as it could be. It gives you room to build off the basics and make your character an individual and still keep them within the broad alignment category you've chosen.

Still, too many people choose an alignment for mechanical reasons (class, spell use, etc.) without considering what type of personality they want to play. I've had any number of players whose play style and choices are the polar opposite of their chosen alignment. Then over time when their alignment changes (and yes I drop hints etc.) they're surprised. I've always suggested that players consider the personality of the character they want to play before they chose.

Some players make alignment changes slowly, incrementally over time for good reasons within the game too. Those are the interesting ones.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

cranewings wrote:
Alignment is a good starting point. Admittedly, I redefined a lot of the alignments for my game and for when I play, but I still use them.

That's good that you redefined them a bit, I imagine you've had some alignment issues in your own games. Out of curiosity, how did you choose to redefine them?

cranewings wrote:
Players need it. It is hard for a PC not to be a murderous hobo psychopath, so writing "Chaotic Good" on your sheet can help direct your actions a little.

Haha, that's funny, I've always viewed pretty much any adventurer as something along those lines, regardless of alignment. Adventuring really screws up a dungeon's ecosystem, you know?

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

R_Chance wrote:
As Cranewings said, it's a starting point. It should tell you (or be selected to tell you) about some basic traits of your characters personality. I'm glad alignment is not tightly defined as it could be. It gives you room to build off the basics and make your character an individual and still keep them within the broad alignment category you've chosen.

That's fair enough, but I still wish there was more focus on why your characters are the way they are rather than what they are. This is particularly important for evil characters, as I think there is too much evil-for-evil's-sake type arbitrary pigheadedness.

This is sort of a secondary issue but there are no real advantages or disadvantages for playing to your character's alignment, aside from a few spells, class features, etc.

R_Chance wrote:

Still, too many people choose an alignment for mechanical reasons (class, spell use, etc.) without considering what type of personality they want to play. I've had any number of players whose play style and choices are the polar opposite of their chosen alignment. Then over time when their alignment changes (and yes I drop hints etc.) they're surprised. I've always suggested that players consider the personality of the character they want to play before they chose.

Some players make alignment changes slowly, incrementally over time for good reasons within the game too. Those are the interesting ones.

That is more of what I was talking about; an organic progression into your alignment. I was suggesting that some great, or horrible, deed would determine your alignment. Start off neutral then progress into something extreme. Or stay neutral. Keep the players on their toes. Or even have players write their own "paladin's code" as a guide for their characters, but have it focus on what the PC wants and the lengths he would go to get it.

Intention is important to consider. Sure, you cleared out the (insert evil aligned race here) problem that was endangering the village, but did you do it for their sake, for the gold, for the glory, or for the power (read: experience points). Maybe you did it because you like to kill things less powerful than you.

Any of these reasons would give me a better idea of what makes your PC tick than two capital letters.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The Leaping Gnome wrote:


That's fair enough, but I still wish there was more focus on why your characters are the way they are rather than what they are. This is particularly important for evil characters, as I think there is too much evil-for-evil's-sake type arbitrary pigheadedness.

Starting alignment is a statement of their current views. How they got their is "backstory". Where they go from there is the future.

The Leaping Gnome wrote:


This is sort of a secondary issue but there are no real advantages or disadvantages for playing to your character's alignment, aside from a few spells, class features, etc.

That is more of what I was talking about; an organic progression into your alignment. I was suggesting that some great, or horrible, deed would determine your alignment. Start off neutral then progress into something extreme. Or stay neutral. Keep the players on their toes. Or even have players write their own "paladin's code" as a guide for their characters, but have it focus on what the PC wants and the lengths he would go to get it.

Intention is important to consider. Sure, you cleared out the (insert evil aligned race here) problem that was endangering the village, but did you do it for their sake, for the gold, for the glory, or for the power (read: experience points). Maybe you did it because you like to kill things less powerful than you.

Any of these reasons would give me a better idea of what makes your PC tick than two capital letters.

There are few mechanical advantages / disadvantages for alignment. The social end of advantages / disadvantages for alignment / personality is something that can't be quantified as easily. That's DM territory. There are a lot of people who want fewer consequences for alighment. I think we've all met a few Paladins who seem to have mistaken Evil for Good.

I track my players alignment on a graph (yes, I'm that old fashioned) from their starting point (their chosen alignment). You could just as easily start with "neutral" (excepting perhaps those classes with required alignments). Actions shift it whether it's pretty minor or a major action. Players who have chosen carefully usually just bump around in their alignment. Some shift slowly over time, often with good reason. Some slide pretty quickly because they act nothing like their professed alignment. Intentions are hard to quantify (especially since you may not be aware of the players full intent) but actions are more concrete. Of course giggling inanely while slaughtering cowering enemies might lead you to think "evil" :D

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Neutral does not promote any alignment. The character directing the blackguard to a hamlet is promoting evil. It doesn't matter if he promotes all four extremes equally, he is not neutral.

Actually there are two forms of Neutral Alignment which are almost diametically opposite.

1. The Unaligned i.e. most people a lot of animals. things that just do what they do to get by.

2. The Active Balancer i.e. Mordenkainen, the Servants of the Balance in Moorcock. These folks actively work to keep the forces of Alignment in Balance whether it's Good vs. Evil Law vs.Chaos,or combinations of the two. Often distrusted by all comers because of perception of shifting loyalties.

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