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Is the use of a spell with an evil descriptor considered to be an evil act?


Rules Questions

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21 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the FAQ. 1 person marked this as a favorite.

I am not asking this because I need to know.

Is it still evil, although less evil, if the spell is used for a good deed?

Disclaimer-->The point is not to tell GM's how to run game, but more of a "generally speaking" thing. Of course GM's will always be able to run their home worlds or versions of Golarion as they see fit.

Hit the FAQ button please. :)


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I think it should be (as do most of the others in my group), and in our games, it is, however, I've yet to find any rule that says it is.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That's how I would GM it.

It's probably not enough to shift your alignment by itself, and there are a couple of spells with the evil descriptor that probably shouldn't have it (deathwatch, I'm looking at you), But regular use of such spells probably calls for an alignment shift at some point.

Using such spells to do good is questionable -- good is about methods as much as goals. Anyone who's regularly arguing that the end justifies the means is probably already well outside the good zone, and should be watched carefully lest they slip farther.

IMO, anyway.


Just tell your GM that a spell is good or evil depending on what you use the spell for, not if the spell has an [evil] or [good] descriptor.


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Pathfinder, as defined by its rules, is not a "shades of gray" reality. It's very black and white. If a spell is an evil spell, that means casting it is exploiting evil powers and as so is a specific act of evil.

You can choose to pursue a "greater good" argument to justify using evil in certain circumstances, but the act itself is still fundamentally evil.


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wraithstrike wrote:

I am not asking this because I need to know.

Is it still evil, although less evil, if the spell is used for a good deed?

No action is mechanically evil, good, chaotic or lawful.

Rather the DM interprets and adjudicates things without such fetters.

The only mechanically evil act from 3rd edition was removed in PF (channeling negative energy).

Couple this with Paizo adding the following wording:

Quote:


In the end, the Game Master is the one who gets to decide if something's in accordance with its indicated alignment, based on the descriptions given previously and his own opinion and interpretation—the only thing the GM needs to strive for is to be consistent as to what constitutes the difference between alignments like chaotic neutral and chaotic evil. There's no hard and fast mechanic by which you can measure alignment—unlike hit points or skill ranks or Armor Class, alignment is solely a label the GM controls.

So, mechanically what does the [evil] descriptor mean?

It means that good aligned clerics, clerics of good aligned deities and Paladins will not be granted or cast these spells. Likewise for other alignment descriptors.

From there you can surmise that many, if they recognize them, will judge the casters of alignment descriptor spells to represent the tenets of the alignment matching the descriptor of the spell they cast.

However, mechanically this is not the case.

Now a DM can decide to abdicate some of his adjudications to blindly stamp such spells as being acts of that alignment. That's their prerogative, however I think that they are best served not tying their hands but rather looking at each and every situation as they are tasked to do,

James


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

from the holy vindicator prestige class(APG):

Quote:

Divine Judgment (Sp): At 7th level, when a vindicator’s

melee attack reduces a creature to –1 or fewer hit points, he
may sacrifice a prepared 2nd-level spell or available 2ndlevel
spell slot to invoke death knell upon the target as an
immediate action (using the vindicator’s caster level). As
vindicators mete out divine judgment, this is not an evil
act.
The save DC increases by +2 if his weapon has a ×3
critical multiplier, or by +4 if it is ×4.

tricky but it imply that otherwise casting death knell is an evil act(and by extension every other [evil] spell)


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Pathfinder, as defined by its rules, is not a "shades of gray" reality. It's very black and white. If a spell is an evil spell, that means casting it is exploiting evil powers and as so is a specific act of evil.

You can choose to pursue a "greater good" argument to justify using evil in certain circumstances, but the act itself is still fundamentally evil.

Cool, so an evil wizard summoning angels to slaughter innocents is along with being despicably evil for his actions, also committing acts that are still fundamentally good?

Maybe there's hope for him! Maybe it mitigates his depravity rather than highlight it...

I disagree. I've seen people make these blanket arguments, but they are never balanced, rather they are focused on [evil] descriptor but ignore all the other alignment descriptors.

I think it's better to follow the rules that expressly say that such is directly in the DM's hands and there are no other mechanics for it as such,

James


James, using modern real world philosophical interpretation of good and evil as guidance for playing Pathfinder might be a fun intellectual exercise, but it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Pathfinder "reality."

Just because a spell itself is "evil" or "good" does not mean that they implementation of it's effects can't be twisted to perform other than the spell's basic good or evil origins. However, twisting the spell does not change the spell's origin it only changes the spell's effects.

As I said in my email above, you can argue that an evil spell can be cast in pursuit of a greater good, but that does not change the fact that the spell itself is an evil spell.


James, let me ask you this. Would going back in time and killing Hitler while he was a kid be an evil act? Certainly you could argue that it would be for the greater good, but fundamentally it's still murdering an innocent child, right?


That's something I'm interested in too because of Summon Monster. If an Abyssal bloodline sorcerer wants to use his level 15 bloodline power he has to use Summon Monster to call chaotic evil creatures which gives the spell both subtypes. However not only do you have complete control about your summoned creature and can have it do good under your command, you could also argue that the only difference between summoning an angel to fight for you and summoning a demon to do the same is that in the first case a servant of good will get hurt. :D


For Divine casters;
Evil is evil, they get no play.

For Arcane casters;
It depends, on all kind of stuff.
Dabbling in dark arts is so common place that it's something every practitioner of magic will have to face at some point. Game lore is full of it. So is the stuff that game lore got swiped from.

EDIT
Ignore my furtherance it was an Invite Troll incantation.


There are all sorts of moral quandaries you can manufacture in the casting of spells based on the PF concept of alignments. It's not even restricted to spells.

There are several ways to deal with the situation. One is to just pretend it doesn't exist and ignore the fact that spells can be evil or good. Another is to role play the situation out so that if a good character wishes to use an evil spell, they find some way to atone for the act (not necessarily using the "atone" mechanic, just making it clear that they regret the necessity to dip into the "dark side").

Yet another is to actually have some sort of boundaries on the spells themselves. If you summon angels to murder innocents, perhaps that breaks the angel's compulsion to obey you.

For day to day gaming I tend towards the "just ignore it" side simply because there are too many pitfalls involved in trying to adhere to alignments anyway, but also because it slows the game down and tends to expose some mechanical flaws in the game where conflict between alignment based powers and character's actual alignments aren't clearly explained or solved by the rules.

However, over time if a good character consistently casts spells which derive their origin from evil sources, that might have consequences.


So casting good spells can make you good?


Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
So casting good spells can make you good?

It might well make a patron or god question a character's commitment to them.

This is almost a purely theoretical argument though. Most players I know when they play to their alignments, they deliberately avoid choosing spells that are counter to their alignment because they actually feel that is what their characters would do. Even if that means sometimes selecting a spell that might not be the absolute most optimal badass spell they could possibly use in the situation.

Yes. They really do. So do I.


Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
So casting good spells can make you good?

Can helping orphans make you good?

Depends on what else you do.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Unless your class requires a certain alignment, it's not a big deal.
Infiltrator Inquisitor can cast any alignment spell with impunity though, with no drawback.


This is one reason I find myself playing so many neutral characters.


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Adamantine Dragon wrote:
James, using modern real world philosophical interpretation of good and evil as guidance for playing Pathfinder might be a fun intellectual exercise, but it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Pathfinder "reality."

Hey, in the rules such things are left completely up to the DM. They seem to define Pathfinder "reality" to me.

If a DM wants to make a blanket statement that all [fire] descriptor spells are chaotic acts, they can do so. It might even be fun for their campaign. It is however a house rule.

But in general, it's best to adjudicate each and every act on their own rather than paint yourself into such corners.

Adamantine Dragon wrote:


As I said in my email above, you can argue that an evil spell can be cast in pursuit of a greater good, but that does not change the fact that the spell itself is an evil spell.

No spells have alignment. They do, however, have descriptors. They can have alignment descriptors even, but they don't get alignment.

But you would argue that the evil wizard is committing good acts by summoning those angels, regardless of what he does with them afterwards. Right? Two separate things. Mechanically summoning them is a good act, period. Even though the reason he wants to summon them is that he delights at the idea of having them kill innocents, you believe the casting of the spell is mechanically an act of goodness.

That's fine for your own house rules, but you're saying it's more than that. Except it's not mentioned in the core rulebook whatsoever. Meanwhile what IS written is them saying that they are NOT making such mechanics in their game. This was added by PF, at the same time PF removed the only language that mechanically did assign to channeling energy good/evil acts.

Sorry, Paizo move PF away from your view of things. Pathfinder does not have mechanically evil acts. Rather they expect the DMs to adjudicate the players' actions. They go to a decent length about it in the alignment section.

-James

Sczarni

All spells should be taken by a result, not a descriptor. If a spell by some chance harms that poor peasant it's not spell, it's the caster who did it and should suffer the alignment consequences as appropriate. Often spells marked as evil are most common to be used by evil casters and often produce the same result.
Create Undead isn't evil but fact that you created undead, that's evil, but this is just my opinion, nothing about RAW.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Casting an [evil] spell is an evil act. Using an [evil] item is an evil act.

There. Cut and dry. No wiggle room. Casting an [evil] spell is an evil act.

I'm sure people will continue to argue against the intent though.

Oh wait, they already have, and SKR points out in the book where the relevant text is.

NEXT QUESTION.


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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Still takes a number of evil acts before an alignment shift begins.
Balance good and evil spells, and you will be fine.


Quantum Steve wrote:
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
So casting good spells can make you good?

Can helping orphans make you good?

Depends on what else you do.

My general point is that people seem to be very worried about [evil] spells. Yet no one seems to mind or bother with [good], [lawful], [chaotic] spells. If you're going to worry about [evil] you really need to also worry about all the others. To do otherwise is hipocritical.


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james maissen wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
James, using modern real world philosophical interpretation of good and evil as guidance for playing Pathfinder might be a fun intellectual exercise, but it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Pathfinder "reality."

Hey, in the rules such things are left completely up to the DM. They seem to define Pathfinder "reality" to me.

If a DM wants to make a blanket statement that all [fire] descriptor spells are chaotic acts, they can do so. It might even be fun for their campaign. It is however a house rule.

But in general, it's best to adjudicate each and every act on their own rather than paint yourself into such corners.

Adamantine Dragon wrote:


As I said in my email above, you can argue that an evil spell can be cast in pursuit of a greater good, but that does not change the fact that the spell itself is an evil spell.

No spells have alignment. They do, however, have descriptors. They can have alignment descriptors even, but they don't get alignment.

But you would argue that the evil wizard is committing good acts by summoning those angels, regardless of what he does with them afterwards. Right? Two separate things. Mechanically summoning them is a good act, period. Even though the reason he wants to summon them is that he delights at the idea of having them kill innocents, you believe the casting of the spell is mechanically an act of goodness.

That's fine for your own house rules, but you're saying it's more than that. Except it's not mentioned in the core rulebook whatsoever. Meanwhile what IS written is them saying that they are NOT making such mechanics in their game. This was added by PF, at the same time PF removed the only language that mechanically did assign to channeling energy good/evil acts.

Sorry, Paizo move PF away from your view of things. Pathfinder does not have mechanically evil acts. Rather they expect the DMs to adjudicate the players' actions. They go to a decent length about it in the alignment section....

James, you certainly assert your opinions strongly on these boards. But they remain just that. Strongly asserted opinions. The devs have weighed in on this. SKR has specifically ruled on this.

You can argue, deny and obfuscate all you want. It remains just that. Arguing, denying and obfuscating.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Most people don't care about being good, lawful or chaotic. They usually are those.

People DO worry about being evil because there are strong negative repercussions for that. In the vast majority of places, you aren't going to be punished for good deeds.


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Cheliax?

No good deed goes unpunished.


And about that evil summoner.

If he cast the spell to summon angels the spell gets the good descriptor right?

Can he make angels slaughter puppies? It's against their nature.

I only ask because I've used a variant house rule for Summoning spells for so long I don't actually know the mechanics that well.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

As I said, balance your alignment descriptor spells, and you are fine.
Need to cast a few evil spells, just cast a few good spells next time.
As long as you treat all alignment descriptor the same, there should be no problems. Paladins and Clerics of good gods are at risk, but that's way things go.
No single act should result in alignment shift, unless it is an extreme example.
Some examples are:
Burning down an orphanage.
Sacrificing one's self for his allies.
Killing a non-enemy angel.
Selling your soul to a Demon/Devil.
Slaying an evil god.
Numerous other examples.


Cheapy wrote:

Most people don't care about being good, lawful or chaotic. They usually are those.

People DO worry about being evil because there are strong negative repercussions for that. In the vast majority of places, you aren't going to be punished for good deeds.

Ever heard "No good deed goes unpunished?"

Edit: Ninja'd.


See why don't more evil wizards use this knowledge when they know Paladins are coming spend a few days casting good spells and feel good knowing that your unsmitable and undectable when the pallies arrive.


Nah I'd just blow the smite on a b##~% slap to see if it hurts.

Undetectable alignment my butt.


Some guys here had it easy. I had a DM that instisted to our group that using any form of necromancy was evil, especially spells like finger of death. Yeah, it's nice and fine to try to bludgeon someone to death with a spiked mace, but not to kill them instantly and painlessly.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Sauce987654321 wrote:
Some guys here had it easy. I had a DM that instisted to our group that using any form of necromancy was evil, especially spells like finger of death. Yeah, it's nice and fine to try to bludgeon someone to death with a spiked mace, but not to kill them instantly and painlessly.

Oh, how would he handle an Oracle with the Juju mystery?

It's necromancy spells and abilities are called out as non-evil.


Talonhawke wrote:
See why don't more evil wizards use this knowledge when they know Paladins are coming spend a few days casting good spells and feel good knowing that your unsmitable and undectable when the pallies arrive.

For mere mortals the whole alignment thing is pretty arbitrary and pointless. Extra-planar creatures that personify alignments such as angels, demons, etc are another story.


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Sauce, why is it OK to bludgeon someone to death with a mace but not to use finger of death to kill the same person?

Because some actions are considered inherently evil.

This is not just in PF. This is true in the real world.

In WW2 the allies and axis powers killed tens of millions of people in all kinds of horrible ways.

But they didn't use mustard gas. Nor did they use nerve gas.

Why not?

Because after WW1 the nations agreed that killing people one way was morally superior to killing people another way.

US forces in WW2 bombed Tokyo with fleets of B29s dropping incendiary bombs, turning entire neighborhoods into tornadoes of flaming, fiery death. But to this day people are more outraged by the much less destructive bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The game just quantifies these concepts.

In fiction you have the Jedi who have no problem carving up dozens of enemies with their light-sabers, but who recoil in horror from the concept of using the power of the "dark side" to do the same thing.

The concept of acts which are themselves evil, apart from the purpose they are put to, is not new.


Cheapy wrote:


There. Cut and dry. No wiggle room. Casting an [evil] spell is an evil act.

NEXT QUESTION.

How about Empower where the devs weighed in? Oh wait, they got it wrong and corrected themselves. They are human. And from what I've seen really great guys. But if they hand you the Jack of Clubs and call it the Ace of Spades, they happen to be really great guys that are wrong. This happens, and it doesn't stop them from being really great guys that are also really knowledgeable about our beloved hobby.

There is a difference between a descriptor of a spell and an alignment. A [fire] descriptor spell need not be fire, though SKR asserts that it is. Summoning a fire elemental is not fire, it is a [fire] descriptor spell that is summoning an elemental. Repeated uses of casting this spell will not turn you into fire, though hopefully it will burn your enemies. ;)

Now in SKR's game, and in yours you can blindly call casting a [good] aligned spell an act of kindness and goodness regardless of what the spell is doing. In mine I'll look at your character's actions and adjudicate if something merits being an act of an alignment. Those are the rules. It's the DM's call. Simple. They are in the hands of the DM and not taken from them by a dev, your second cousin, or the 3rd splat book you bought.

If you are using a cure light wounds spell to revive a prisoner so that someone else can further torture them. Not only will I see their act of torture as an evil act, but I'll see your curing them to be further tortured as evil. It has nothing to do with the spell, but your actions.

Picking up an unholy sword to fight off the bad guys has drawbacks. You likely are taking negative levels. You, however, are not committing an evil act by swinging (or merely picking up) the sword. Yet according to SKR you are. He's wrong here as far as the rules go. He can add that in as a house rule (or if he feels like writing into the errata) he can make it an official rule. But as it stands picking up an aligned weapon like that is not an act of that alignment mechanically.

"Adamantine Dragon wrote:


James, you certainly assert your opinions strongly on these boards. But they remain just that. Strongly asserted opinions. The devs have weighed in on this. SKR has specifically ruled on this.

Yes and again when he's the DM, he makes that call, when he's not then he doesn't.

It's just not in there in the rules. SKR linked the little bit about descriptors but it doesn't say casting an evil spell is evil. He says that it does. So is your card the Jack of Clubs or the Ace of Spades?

Just as much as the empower spell feat doesn't mean 'variables' to mean 'dice'. However this was also something that was assumed and accepted to mean the same thing at MANY tables in many areas.

Thus when asked if empower multiplies the d4+1 of a magic missile or just the d4, it's very easy to say just the d4. In fact when seeing an empowered ray of enfeeblement being superior to a maximized one, it seems reasonable to say just the dice. And the dev that did. He was playing in two areas of the country where that interpretation held sway and likely had witnessed it a thousand times at different tables. So naturally as a dev you say how you've seen it and understand it to be done, just like any rules guru. You check the SRD and it doesn't say anything that you see as refuting it. You don't happen to notice that the 3rd ed PhB has the example of a magic missile until later when pointed out expressly to you. You then come back and go with that, as it's what was originally the 3rd ed rule and would have been clear if the SRD hadn't cut out all the examples. More power to them for going back there and being accurate.

This is just another thing along those lines, except the PhB didn't have an example spelling it out.

The Pathfinder rules are clear. It's a DM's call. Period. Now when SKR is the DM he can (rightfully) decide that NOT bringing the DM pizza is an evil act... but it hasn't made it into the rules.

When they decide to change the rules then it can be. But personally I think that they made a great decision by leaving it to the DM rather than tie their hands.

-James


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Sauce, why is it OK to bludgeon someone to death with a mace but not to use finger of death to kill the same person?

Because some actions are considered inherently evil.

This is not just in PF. This is true in the real world.

In WW2 the allies and axis powers killed tens of millions of people in all kinds of horrible ways.

But they didn't use mustard gas. Nor did they use nerve gas.

Why not?

Because after WW1 the nations agreed that killing people one way was morally superior to killing people another way.

US forces in WW2 bombed Tokyo with fleets of B29s dropping incendiary bombs, turning entire neighborhoods into tornadoes of flaming, fiery death. But to this day people are more outraged by the much less destructive bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The game just quantifies these concepts.

In fiction you have the Jedi who have no problem carving up dozens of enemies with their light-sabers, but who recoil in horror from the concept of using the power of the "dark side" to do the same thing.

The concept of acts which are themselves evil, apart from the purpose they are put to, is not new.

From the standard ways of killing things in pathfinder and D&D, finger of death is a pretty quick and easy way to go. By standard, I mean burning, electricuting, and freezing things to death.


Sauce987654321 wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Sauce, why is it OK to bludgeon someone to death with a mace but not to use finger of death to kill the same person?

Because some actions are considered inherently evil.

This is not just in PF. This is true in the real world.

In WW2 the allies and axis powers killed tens of millions of people in all kinds of horrible ways.

But they didn't use mustard gas. Nor did they use nerve gas.

Why not?

Because after WW1 the nations agreed that killing people one way was morally superior to killing people another way.

US forces in WW2 bombed Tokyo with fleets of B29s dropping incendiary bombs, turning entire neighborhoods into tornadoes of flaming, fiery death. But to this day people are more outraged by the much less destructive bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The game just quantifies these concepts.

In fiction you have the Jedi who have no problem carving up dozens of enemies with their light-sabers, but who recoil in horror from the concept of using the power of the "dark side" to do the same thing.

The concept of acts which are themselves evil, apart from the purpose they are put to, is not new.

From the standard ways of killing things in pathfinder and D&D, finger of death is a pretty quick and easy way to go. By standard, I mean burning, electricuting, and freezing things to death.

It doesn't get much easier and quicker than complete and total nuclear annihilation. Nerve gas is pretty quick and easy too. The issue isn't how quick and easy things are, it's whether the means is appropriate for the ends. Some of us don't believe the ends justify the means. Some means are simply not acceptable, regardless of the ends. That's the concept behind not using evil spells if you are good. The ends do not justify the means.

I know that in this new century that's a perspective that is becoming quite rare, but you have to trust me, it actually has a several thousand year philosophical history behind it.


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So far from reading over the Core Rulebook (a few times), I haven't seen anywhere where the book states that casting an evil aligned spell is an evil action in itself. I have seen statements that a cleric cannot cast spells that are against their alignment, such as a Good cleric casting an Evil spell, but this isn't stated as "If they do, they shift alignment" but rather as "They can't do it". So as far as rule mechanics go, i'd say (and to state this very clearly, the game has a decent amount of room for interpretation. This is the interpretation that me and my group feel fits best with the rules as written within the book) that casting a spell with an evil descriptor isn't an inherently evil act, but it can be if used for evil purposes. The descriptors are there more as guidelines for interactions with other abilities and spells rather than saying "casting this spell is considered a [alignment descriptor] act".


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As SKR says, if you believe the descriptor "acid" means the spell is "acid" why do you argue the descriptor "evil" does not mean the spell is "evil?"

Anyway, interpret it as you like. The rules are the rules and the developers have weighed in and very specifically said that casting evil spells is an evil act.

The RAW and RAI according to the people who wrote them and are charged with explaining and adjudicating them to their customers are that casting spells with the "evil" descriptor is an evil act.

But for your games you can play however you like.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Morganstern wrote:
So far from reading over the Core Rulebook (a few times), I haven't seen anywhere where the book states that casting an evil aligned spell is an evil action in itself. I have seen statements that a cleric cannot cast spells that are against their alignment, such as a Good cleric casting an Evil spell, but this isn't stated as "If they do, they shift alignment" but rather as "They can't do it". So as far as rule mechanics go, i'd say (and to state this very clearly, the game has a decent amount of room for interpretation. This is the interpretation that me and my group feel fits best with the rules as written within the book) that casting a spell with an evil descriptor isn't an inherently evil act, but it can be if used for evil purposes. The descriptors are there more as guidelines for interactions with other abilities and spells rather than saying "casting this spell is considered a [alignment descriptor] act".

well the fact that they specifically went out of their way to say that the holy vindicator's death knell wasn't an evil act does speaks volume.


Normally I will hit the FAQ button even if I think I know the answer for sure, but there is some confusion. This seems like there is not even a question as to the answer.

Casting a spell with the [alignment] descriptor is an [alignment] act.

The rules really couldn't be more clear on this. Just like every other act that is good/evil, there are ways to add repercussions that make it questionable. That does not change that it is an [alignment] act. Just because you use a holy sword to commit evil, that doesn't change the fact that it is a good sword.

The idea of an evil character summoning an angel to kill innocents is just silly. The angel would appear, get told that it must "attack your opponents to the best of its ability". The angel would see a bunch of innocents, double check the label on his celestial underwear and be reminded that it is a [good] creature, and say, "Good characters and creatures protect innocent life." Since this creature is the physical embodiment of good, it would not be within it's abilities to harm innocents.

Finally, there is this line of text:
"There's no hard and fast mechanic by which you can measure alignment—unlike hit points or skill ranks or Armor Class, alignment is solely a label the GM controls."
So yes, the GM can say evil is good and good is evil, and that is within the rules, but it is fairly obvious that some actions are intended to be evil or good, and it doesn't get any more clear then the little [alignment] tags.

http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/additionalRules.html

EDIT: I should point out that casting a spell with an [alignment] descriptor would generally have a very minor affect on alignment compared to most other actions.

Sczarni

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My two cents:

Good and Evil as they work in the PF universe make a lot more sense if you think of them as "forces of nature", like magnetism or gravity. Heck, that would explain why they can be detected as auras, and why positive and negative energy exist and can be channeled by an appropriately-aligned cleric. It would also explain why a cleric flat-out can't cast spells of an opposed alignment. As Morganstern said, it's not that it's against their moral code, it's that they literally can't. They've got the wrong polarity for it.

By this logic, spells with the [evil] descriptor are literally made of evil. Evil is a force as tangible as electricity, and [evil] spells run on it. And so do you, if you cast enough of them-- not because of what you used the magic to do, but because the magic coursed through your body and changed your polarity.


Pathfinder has shades of gray, but evil, good, law, and chaos or palpable things in setting. Doing certain acts, or being in the presence of creatures or locations saturated with certain alignments does 'leave it's mark.'

Throwing this away with the claim "well in reality nothing is truly good or evil; it's all subjective" is acknowledging the limitation of your ability to role-play, not a limitation of the rules.

You can do [Evil] things to yield [Good] results. You can do that and still be good, but you'll certainly not be as good as a person who refuses to resort to those tactics.


james maissen wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:

I am not asking this because I need to know.

Is it still evil, although less evil, if the spell is used for a good deed?

No action is mechanically evil, good, chaotic or lawful.

Rather the DM interprets and adjudicates things without such fetters.

The only mechanically evil act from 3rd edition was removed in PF (channeling negative energy).

Couple this with Paizo adding the following wording:

Quote:


In the end, the Game Master is the one who gets to decide if something's in accordance with its indicated alignment, based on the descriptions given previously and his own opinion and interpretation—the only thing the GM needs to strive for is to be consistent as to what constitutes the difference between alignments like chaotic neutral and chaotic evil. There's no hard and fast mechanic by which you can measure alignment—unlike hit points or skill ranks or Armor Class, alignment is solely a label the GM controls.

So, mechanically what does the [evil] descriptor mean?

It means that good aligned clerics, clerics of good aligned deities and Paladins will not be granted or cast these spells. Likewise for other alignment descriptors.

From there you can surmise that many, if they recognize them, will judge the casters of alignment descriptor spells to represent the tenets of the alignment matching the descriptor of the spell they cast.

However, mechanically this is not the case.

Now a DM can decide to abdicate some of his adjudications to blindly stamp such spells as being acts of that alignment. That's their prerogative, however I think that they are best served not tying their hands but rather looking at each and every situation as they are tasked to do,

James

There are certain actions the devs consider to be evil though for the purpose of the game. Stabbing people at random, just because is an example. That is not in the book either though. The spells are, and I think it is a fair question. I know the RAW answer already. I want to have proof of intent. It also matters for PFS.

Playing devil's advocate against myself for a moment-->If nothing is really evil then why can't I just do what I want as a pally and never be stripped of my powers. PFS is supposed to be held to RAW.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Eh, I always just keep intent in mind. Otherwise you allow the Good-aligned wizard who lives in his tower all alone and casting Good spells for the townsfolk while on his private time he uses Good summoning spells and Good planar binding spells to indulge in celestial torture and murder. And that's just dumb.

Repeat usage/playing-with-fire applies of course. Also, some spells would be irredeemably evil depending on what they do(like say feeding souls to Abaddon).


Cheapy wrote:
Casting an [evil] spell is an evil act. Using an [evil] item is an evil act.

There. Cut and dry. No wiggle room. Casting an [evil] spell is an evil act.

I'm sure people will continue to argue against the intent though.

Oh wait, they already have, and SKR points out in the book where the relevant text is.

NEXT QUESTION.

<Gives Cheapy 100 Internet cookies.>


But wouldn't it be evil to let Abaddon starve????

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

After reading Book of the Damned 3 I felt like punching Abaddon in the throat until it died.

Now there's an Epic campaign.

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