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Lawful Good behavior


Advice

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You can oppose the law and remain lawful, so long as you exercise lawful opposition to those laws.

You might decide that you don't like X law, and you can, for example pursue lawful means to see such laws repealed or abolished. Ballots, not bullets.


TheRonin wrote:
Nicos wrote:
TheRonin wrote:

I guess what we are trying to do is get the discussion back to the roots.

Is murdering people who you have no proof of wrong doing LAWFUL GOOD behavior. We had a discussion on Goodness, so is it Lawful? In some countries perhaps, but not in many.

it is like you are trying to say taht the only way to be lawful is to obey the local law,i would say that there are others ways in particular more personal ones.

No, I am not saying "The only way to be lawful is X"

I am saying respecting local laws IS lawful. Disregarding local laws in favor of some personal morality is chaotic. You are describing a Chevalier, not a Paladin.

I respectfully disagree.

Respecting the local law is an example of lawful behavior, I disagree that desobey the evil laws of an evil kindom ischaotic per se.

I believe the most important law taht a paladin have is to be good no matter what (or at least to try).


Well, what is the most important depends on the paladin and the paladin's deity. Which as pointed out by Shifty, I believe, is one reason the paladin has a whole church at his disposal to help him decide. But as a general rule of thumb disrespecting lawful authority is unlawful.


TheRonin wrote:
Well, what is the most important depends on the paladin and the paladin's deity. Which as pointed out by Shifty, I believe, is one reason the paladin has a whole church at his disposal to help him decide. But as a general rule of thumb disrespecting lawful authority is unlawful.

then it would be neccesary a definition of what is a lwaful authoruty ? is the one that rules the land no matter how? or only the one that rules the land with strict laws?


Nicos wrote:
TheRonin wrote:
Well, what is the most important depends on the paladin and the paladin's deity. Which as pointed out by Shifty, I believe, is one reason the paladin has a whole church at his disposal to help him decide. But as a general rule of thumb disrespecting lawful authority is unlawful.
then it would be neccesary a definition of what is a lwaful authoruty ? is the one that rules the land no matter how? or only the one that rules the land with strict laws?

Depends on the land and who you ask, but in most cases it will be obvious.


princeimrahil wrote:

Frankly, the way detect evil works as written... it's pretty useless. As someone mentioned, it doesn't tell you how evil someone is so much as how powerful they are. Doesn't that strike anyone else as being a bit... off?

Let's think for a minute, what are the possible purposes for a detect evil ability for a crusading holy knight?

1) To ensure that evildoers who deserve the swift sword of justice do not escape.
2) To ensure that the Paladin does not mistakenly harm an innocent.
3) To prevent evil from getting the drop on the Paladin.

Myself, I wouldn't say that the primary use for a Paladin's Detect Evil is any of those, when there's a far more simple and straightforward use for it: to help him avoid wasting one of his Smites on a Neutral opponent. (Or on a Good opponent that they're mistakenly fighting, which I suppose would fall somewhat under #2.)

At any rate, the current form of Detect Evil is quite useful. I'ts just not so useful in the "tell me exactly what this person deserves me to do to him, so I can avoid all that pesky 'roleplaying' and 'character interaction' and 'ethical questions' stuff and just get down to the smiting" sense. Rather, it's a complimentary ability to your other abilities, a way to determine (if you do end up in combat with that person) whether your foe is of a nature such that you can Smite Evil on him effectively.

Elamdri wrote:
My thesis: A GM should be careful when crafting encounters so as to give a Paladin valuable information when he uses detect evil. In doing so, he should make sure that potential foes with dubious alignments are either: A: Not evil. B: Low level so the Paladin cannot detect their evil C: Masking their alignment or D: Providing sufficient context clues that a paladin would think twice.

But see, that's relying on the GM to never put you in a situation that your character couldn't (and shouldn't) assume they would never be put in.

Saying that "if a Paladin isn't bothering to check anyone's nature beyond scanning it with Detect Evil before assuming they can kill it, the GM should craft all their encounters so that Detect Evil never pings on anyone who doesn't deserve death" is like saying "if a character is neglecting their Fortitude save, the GM should craft all their encounters so that they never have to make a Fortitude save".

It just doesn't work like that. Nothing in the rules promises that all Evil-aligned people are universally at baby-eating levels of evil, and if a character is ignoring that, the GM is under no more obligation to artificially shield them from the consequences of their play style than they are obliged to artificially shield them from the consequences of any other play style that is at odds with how things actually work in the game.

Which means that yes, a reckless Paladin who simply flies by the seat of his Detect Evil very well might end up murdering someone who, granted, might have been a heartless thief, thug and bully... but hadn't actually done anything to merit execution.

And in that case, he should fall like a 20-ton anvil dropped out of a plane.


TheRonin wrote:
Well, what is the most important depends on the paladin and the paladin's deity. Which as pointed out by Shifty, I believe, is one reason the paladin has a whole church at his disposal to help him decide. But as a general rule of thumb disrespecting lawful authority is unlawful.

It's unlawful only in the sense that you are breaking the law. It is not unlawful in the sense that a character would be violating his lawful alignment to do so. It's only unlawful as such if the authority in question is a valid authority for the character in question. Elsewise, every lawful character invading a country under order of their respective monarch immediately become chaotic upon crossing the boarder. That is rather silly. (not to mention when those boarders involve planes. Devils suddenly become chaotic when summoned? lol no)

The 'law' to which the paladin is bound need have nothing to do with the local (or any earthly, for that matter) government. But as noted early in the thread, the paladin's code should be explicitly written down before the game even starts, to avoid players choosing on the fly what constitutes right action under their law...


TheRonin wrote:
Nicos wrote:
TheRonin wrote:

I guess what we are trying to do is get the discussion back to the roots.

Is murdering people who you have no proof of wrong doing LAWFUL GOOD behavior. We had a discussion on Goodness, so is it Lawful? In some countries perhaps, but not in many.

it is like you are trying to say taht the only way to be lawful is to obey the local law,i would say that there are others ways in particular more personal ones.

No, I am not saying "The only way to be lawful is X"

I am saying respecting local laws IS lawful. Disregarding local laws in favor of some personal morality is chaotic. You are describing a Chevalier, not a Paladin.

So we're still stuck with the situation where the Big Bad can pass a law that all Paladins must kill themselves, and the end result is that any Paladin who crosses the border either commits suicide or falls? After all, they have to respect the local law.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Is the Paladin staying true to their code? If yes, all good. Depending on the deity and their specific teachings it potentially could be alright. If no, might be the time to start giving them hints that they are swaying toward falling. Making them fall immediately without any sort of warning is a rather jerkish move imo (Ex. they have bad dreams or still feel tired after resting, visions, visit from a celestial being, etc)

Shadow Lodge

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TheRonin wrote:
Weirdo wrote:

4) Be an Infiltrator Inquisitor pretending to be evil for the day.

I like this, I'd have a group of clergy from his church (read, clerics, paladins and inquisitors) show up asking abut their missing orc inquisitor, right about the time Sir Smite-o-Lots powers stop working.

That's a beautiful story idea, but probably harsher than necessary.

Reading the thread more closely, I think the main points are:

1) A Paladin should absolutely smite Evil - devils, demons, powerful undead, evil dragons, etc.

2) A Paladin may be encouraged, depending on situation, play style or specific deity, to show mercy to evil humanoid foes, who might be redeemed.

3) Additional considerations might prevent a Paladin from killing an evil foe. These include the fear of a Detect Evil false positive, local laws requiring that the foe be brought to trial, concerns that killing a helpless foe is dishonourable, or practical issues like the villain being the only one who can stop the doomsday device.

4) You two don't appear to be on the same page about what LG characters and paladins in particular ought to act like. It's a good idea to get on the same page as quickly as possible, either through in-character visions and church guidance or through an OOC talk. His actions are dubious at best, but you might have to adjust your expectations. This player appears to want to smite things without a whole lot of hard decisions about what to smite. Might be a good idea to throw him at more Evil foes with fewer grey areas.


Chengar Qordath wrote:
TheRonin wrote:
Nicos wrote:
TheRonin wrote:

I guess what we are trying to do is get the discussion back to the roots.

Is murdering people who you have no proof of wrong doing LAWFUL GOOD behavior. We had a discussion on Goodness, so is it Lawful? In some countries perhaps, but not in many.

it is like you are trying to say taht the only way to be lawful is to obey the local law,i would say that there are others ways in particular more personal ones.

No, I am not saying "The only way to be lawful is X"

I am saying respecting local laws IS lawful. Disregarding local laws in favor of some personal morality is chaotic. You are describing a Chevalier, not a Paladin.

So we're still stuck with the situation where the Big Bad can pass a law that all Paladins must kill themselves, and the end result is that any Paladin who crosses the border either commits suicide or falls? After all, they have to respect the local law.

They could just leave, or consult their god. Or try to find a way to change the local government, unless some higher authority grants them the power to try to over turn it no? (ie their god)

But thats a very extreme example and very far away from "Paladins can kill whomever they want with out respect for the law because they are paladins" which was the original example.


TheRonin wrote:
They could just leave, or consult their god. Or try to find a way to change the local government...

Uhuh.

I can't see why this is so difficult for some people.

The Paladin does NOT act in a vacuum, there is an entire religious order behind them. They are not somehow alone in the dark trying to work all this out.


Shifty wrote:
TheRonin wrote:
They could just leave, or consult their god. Or try to find a way to change the local government...

Uhuh.

I can't see why this is so difficult for some people.

The Paladin does NOT act in a vacuum, there is an entire religious order behind them. They are not somehow alone in the dark trying to work all this out.

Dude I don't get it either. I put things out there only to get "So you are saying a Paladin can't kill a devil?!" back.

I can see why Paladins get such a bad wrap.


I suspect that if you met the people who didn't like Paladins you might find your questions well and truly answered.

Andoran

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Golarion, like most D&D settings, in a world in which Good and Evil are in some ways fundamental, as much a property of a person or thing as their volume or weight. It is also a setting, again like most D&D settings, where angels fall, devils rise, beings of perfect law go astray, and beings of complete chaos can learn to behave in an orderly fashion.

It is entirely possible to be evil in Golarion without ever hurting someone. You could be a devout follower of Asmodeus, a cleric even, and end up spending your life doing nothing but preaching sermons about your dark lord and looking after a small temple in a backwater town. You might be filled with resentment and burning ambition, and have nothing but distain for your fellow beings, but in the grand scheme of things you're basically harmless.

Now, one could argue that even such a minor servant of evil will end up in hell after they die, adding their strength to the legion of devils, and that therefore they're still a threat to the balance of power in the planes. Unfortunately, going up and smiting them for great justice is only going to speed their transformation into a soldier in the Asmodean war machine. As long as they're alive on earth, however, there is a chance, if perhaps a vanishingly small one, that they will learn compassion, repent their evil ways, and become good before their souls are judged in the afterlife. This is only likely to happen, however, if someone shows them kindness and compassion first.

Now, it may just be my opinion, but it seems to me that paladins are more than just the merciless beatsticks of the good gods. Paladins are required to act with honor in a world where most of their enemies will not. They are required to respect rightful authority, even when said authority interferes with their ability to pursue their foes. They are required to keep their word, even when they have made a promise to an evil or decietful being. In short, a paladin is required to be better than the enemies they face, to lead by example, and to live their lives in a way that shows the evil that there is value in good, that the good are not weak, and that goodness can exist even in a world beset by terrors.

Doing these things is so fundamental to being a paladin that they will loose all of their powers if they fail, whereas I'm pretty sure no paladin has even fallen for *not* executing a helpless prisoner just because they "pinged" on the evil-dar.


TheRonin wrote:

Dude I don't get it either. I put things out there only to get "So you are saying a Paladin can't kill a devil?!" back.

I can see why Paladins get such a bad wrap.

Oddly, your views are part of why paladins get a bad wrap. The whole 'breaking local laws = unlawful,' thing is the mentality from which the lawful stupid paladin was born.


Gnoll Bard wrote:
Now, it may just be my opinion, but it seems to me that paladins are more than just the merciless beatsticks of the good gods. Paladins are required to act with honor in a world where most of their enemies will not. They are required to respect rightful authority, even when said authority interferes with their ability to pursue their foes. They are required to keep their word, even when they have made a promise to an evil or decietful being. In short, a paladin is required to be better than the enemies they face, to lead by example, and to...

Paladins are required to act as their code mandates. Said code might require they treat enemies with what you would call 'honrable' behavior. It might require them to kill their enemies without mercy. It might require they follow the laws of the land. It might demand they defy those laws when they conflict with the code's intent.

There is no universal guide to paladin behavior. Trying to force a generic 'do-gooder' mentality on them is why they get a bad wrap. The key is they must adhere to whatever their personal code dictates. However the code is written, it will inevitably be an inconvenience for the party and/or the paladin. And therein lays the potential for good rp/storyline.


Vestrial wrote:
TheRonin wrote:

Dude I don't get it either. I put things out there only to get "So you are saying a Paladin can't kill a devil?!" back.

I can see why Paladins get such a bad wrap.

Oddly, your views are part of why paladins get a bad wrap. The whole 'breaking local laws = unlawful,' thing is the mentality from which the lawful stupid paladin was born.

Yes murdering at a whim regardless of the local authority or law is unlawful. A statement I stand by.


Actually, more specifically eschewing authority that you don't like to enforce your own moral code is unlawful. It's what Chaotic Good characters are like to do, not Lawful Good characters.

If your god gives you the thumbs up then by all means disregard them, but for the most part these things are to be respected to be 'lawful'.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

IMO, Deathquaker pretty much dissected the issue presented in the OP already, but:

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

The trouble is also that the RAW assumes that, excepting clerics of evil gods, 1st level characters cannot have done enough evil to show up on a paladin's radar, while characters of 6th level and above suddenly do based on a false assumption that they're truly committed to wickedness.

Let's take the count's son, for example. He's a nasty piece of work, cruel to everyone, pulled the wings off flies as a child, worked his way up to strangling kittens, and has just done it with a chambermaid and tossed her body off the battlements to make it look like a suicide. It was thrilling and he's planning to do it again and again. He's also a 1st level aristocrat. The RAW says he doesn't detect as Evil.

Meanwhile, we have the local wizard. He's a mean old curmudgeon who finally, at the age of eighty, reached 7th level. He's never summoned an imp familiar because his mean old cat was always good enough for him and besides, when he inquired, Hell was not able to offer a contract to his liking. He's basically Scrooge as a wizard. The RAW says he radiates as much evil as a 1st level evil cleric.

Meanwhile we have the 1st level evil cleric. She's wicked but has only been sacrificing doves to her dark god because in her dark temple, 1st level acolytes don't get to do human sacrifices. And all she knows about goodness is the twaddle taught to her by the dark cult that raised her.

Now, which of these three is the most evil?

I really, really love this illustration of the issue.

Spoiler:
Apprehend or smite-punch the count's son

Procelytize to the old man and try to be there for him when his time is up

Attempt to capture/extract legally and show her the world outside/attempt to deprogram her brainwashing

If any of this can be discovered through investigation of course.


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Detect Evil should never be used as a sole basis for a Paladin to run in screaming, 'Will it blend!?' There are way, way too many exceptions that could so very easily screw over the Paladin.

Let's take that Kobold. Kobolds are usually evil, but usually shouldn't cut it for a Pladin. He used his Detect Evil trick, Kobold pinged, and got butchered as a result.

It's a shame the Kobold had Misdirection cast on him, hiding his True Neutral alignment.

"By means of this spell, you misdirect the information from divination spells that reveal auras (detect evil, detect magic, discern lies, and the like). On casting the spell, you choose another object within range. For the duration of the spell, the subject of misdirection is detected as if it were the other object. Neither the subject nor the other object gets a saving throw against this effect. Detection spells provide information based on the second object rather than on the actual target of the detection unless the caster of the detection succeeds on a Will save. For instance, you could make yourself detect as a tree if one were within range at casting: not evil, not lying, not magical, neutral in alignment, and so forth."

Poor Kobold. he didn't even get a Will Save.

Now let's take Lord Steve, noble of Cheliax. He's a slave trading mother clucker whose pacts with Devils stains his soul blacker than cola at the bottom of the mine. At night.

He's also done nothing illegal. He's never killed anyone who wasn't a legal sacrifice, never taken slaves himself, never so much as defaulted on a loan payment. When others default on loans to him, he legally crushes them under his bootheel.

Now, I don't think any land has the law, 'Pinging evil = death.' Most of them will even insist on things like a trial. And Lord Steve has done nothing illegal. He follows the legal code in any country he's in. It's perfectly legal to go to Katapesh and buy slaves - In Katapesh and Cheliax. He doesn't do it Andoran.

Since Paladins are only allowed to break Unjust Laws, as I read it, the Paladin who executes Lord Steve would not only fall for breaking the Lawful part of there alignment, but he considered a criminal themselves in any land with a just legal system.

Not to mention killing a bound Kobold and a drunk orc does not count as honorable, and again, seems like it's heading for a fall.

If I was the OP, I'd present something along the lines of having the party burst into a room, finding a wizard standing over an obviously evil something (dead unicron, maybe?). Suddenly he'll unfreeze and start babbling it's not him, he's Jim, the local butcher. Paladin uses detect evil, finds he counts as the most awful of evil, smites him down...and falls.

Poor Jim was Paralyzed in that position several hours ago, with Misdirection cast on him. The Big Bad Evil decided he thought Smite Evil was broken, and it was time to make the Paladin a fighter without the bonus feats. So, knowing the Pladin was a little quick with the divine justice, he got a local villager and set him up. Paladin murdered a good, innocent man who was protesting his innocence with only limited and circumstantial evidence to back up the execution. Time to fall.


TheRonin wrote:
Nicos wrote:
TheRonin wrote:
Well, what is the most important depends on the paladin and the paladin's deity. Which as pointed out by Shifty, I believe, is one reason the paladin has a whole church at his disposal to help him decide. But as a general rule of thumb disrespecting lawful authority is unlawful.
then it would be neccesary a definition of what is a lawful authority ? is the one that rules the land no matter how? or only the one that rules the land with strict laws?
Depends on the land and who you ask, but in most cases it will be obvious.

Its only obvious if you assume that might makes right. There is an extremely broad range of opinions on what makes a legitimate government.

For instance, I would argue that lawful authority is derived from the consent of the governed.

Others may argue that kings receive their right to rule divinely from God(A very common school of thought in medieval Europe). It wouldn't be much of a stretch for a Paladin to conclude that any leader her deity disapproves of isn't a legitimate governing authority.


Gnoll Bard wrote:

ss.

Now, one could argue that even such a minor servant of evil will end up in hell after they die, adding their strength to the legion of devils, and that therefore they're still a threat to the balance of power in the planes. Unfortunately, going up and smiting them for great justice is only going to speed their transformation into a soldier in the Asmodean war machine. As long as they're alive on earth, however, there is a chance, if perhaps a vanishingly small one, that they will learn compassion, repent their evil ways, and become good before their souls are judged in the afterlife. This is only likely to happen, however, if someone shows them kindness and compassion first.

Interestly, the easiest way to avoid this is to trap their soul in a soul gem then destroy the gem. Sadly destroying an evil creatures soul is an evil act, so you are morally obligated to let people turn into demons and devils.


Mikaze wrote:


Let's take the count's son, for example. He's a nasty piece of work, cruel to everyone, pulled the wings off flies as a child, worked his way up to strangling kittens, and has just done it with a chambermaid and tossed her body off the battlements to make it look like a suicide. It was thrilling and he's planning to do it again and again. He's also a 1st level aristocrat. The RAW says he doesn't detect as Evil.

/cough Joffrey Baratheon!


Mikaze wrote:

IMO, Deathquaker pretty much dissected the issue presented in the OP already, but:

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

The trouble is also that the RAW assumes that, excepting clerics of evil gods, 1st level characters cannot have done enough evil to show up on a paladin's radar, while characters of 6th level and above suddenly do based on a false assumption that they're truly committed to wickedness.

Let's take the count's son, for example. He's a nasty piece of work, cruel to everyone, pulled the wings off flies as a child, worked his way up to strangling kittens, and has just done it with a chambermaid and tossed her body off the battlements to make it look like a suicide. It was thrilling and he's planning to do it again and again. He's also a 1st level aristocrat. The RAW says he doesn't detect as Evil.

Meanwhile, we have the local wizard. He's a mean old curmudgeon who finally, at the age of eighty, reached 7th level. He's never summoned an imp familiar because his mean old cat was always good enough for him and besides, when he inquired, Hell was not able to offer a contract to his liking. He's basically Scrooge as a wizard. The RAW says he radiates as much evil as a 1st level evil cleric.

Meanwhile we have the 1st level evil cleric. She's wicked but has only been sacrificing doves to her dark god because in her dark temple, 1st level acolytes don't get to do human sacrifices. And all she knows about goodness is the twaddle taught to her by the dark cult that raised her.

Now, which of these three is the most evil?

I really, really love this illustration of the issue.

** spoiler omitted **

And that's the part where Diplomacy/Gather Information and Sense Motive come into play.

Shadow Lodge

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

Read this and have the player read it, especially the section on using detect evil. I found it very useful when working through the paladin code.


JonGarrett wrote:

Detect Evil should never be used as a sole basis for a Paladin to run in screaming, 'Will it blend!?' There are way, way too many exceptions that could so very easily screw over the Paladin.

Now let's take Lord Steve, noble of Cheliax. He's a slave trading mother clucker whose pacts with Devils stains his soul blacker than cola at the bottom of the mine. At night.

He's also done nothing illegal. He's never killed anyone who wasn't a legal sacrifice, never taken slaves himself, never so much as defaulted on a loan payment. When others default on loans to him, he legally crushes them under his bootheel.

Now, I don't think any land has the law, 'Pinging evil = death.' Most of them will even insist on things like a trial. And Lord Steve has done nothing illegal. He follows the legal code in any country he's in. It's perfectly legal to go to Katapesh and buy slaves - In Katapesh...

Read the CRB paladin code again. Paladins are obligated to punish evil. They fall for evil acts, not chaotic acts, not that that really matters since any law that protects Lord Steve is by definition unjust.

Failure to kill Steve given the opportunity is the offense against the code, not killing him.


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You mean this, right?

"A paladin must be of lawful good alignment and loses all class features except proficiencies if she ever willingly commits an evil act.

Additionally, a paladin's code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents."

The closest I can see to your statement, and I can't find punish evil, is to punish those who threaten or harm innocents. I may be reading it wrong, but that means she can defend innocents when threatened in front of her. She can't, however, walk up to Lord Steve and behead him - that violates the Respect Legitimate Authority clause, unless they have been empowered by the land to execute on a Ping Reads Evil.

Does that mean a Paladin shouldn't be opposing Lord Steve? Of course not. But they can't fall back on violence. That would violate the code. Lord Steve isn't trying to harm them, or harm anyone around them. Therefore, she can't respond with it. Neither lawful nor honourable.

And yes, a Paladin falls for not acting within the law. The fact you must be Lawful Good pretty obviously expresses that one.

EDIT: Within a just law set by just rulers, at least. And no one is likely to claim a Paladin Pinging you as evil qualifies as sufficient evidence to fulfil a legal requirement. A Paladin can't go, 'Well, I don't like this one law, so I'm going to ignore and murder the slave trading scum.'

Grand Lodge

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

Best shorthand way I can answer...

Superman is Lawful Good. Captain Hammer is anything but.


Vestrial wrote:


Paladins are required to act as their code mandates. Said code might require they treat enemies with what you would call 'honrable' behavior. It might require them to kill their enemies without mercy. It might require they follow the laws of the land. It might demand they defy those laws when they conflict with the code's intent.

There is no universal guide to paladin behavior. Trying to force a generic 'do-gooder' mentality on them is why they get a bad wrap. The key is they must adhere to whatever their personal code dictates. However the code is written, it will inevitably be an inconvenience for the party and/or the paladin. And therein lays the potential for good rp/storyline.

The Code of Conduct in the Core Rulebook specifically says that the paladin needs to respect legitimate authority and act with honor.

If paladins in your world are an exception, that's fine, but for the most part, there is actually a universal guide to paladin behavior.


Vestrial wrote:
TheRonin wrote:

Dude I don't get it either. I put things out there only to get "So you are saying a Paladin can't kill a devil?!" back.

I can see why Paladins get such a bad wrap.

Oddly, your views are part of why paladins get a bad wrap. The whole 'breaking local laws = unlawful,' thing is the mentality from which the lawful stupid paladin was born.

I think that breaking local laws = unlawful is just too rigid as a rule of thumb.

Every time a paladin kills an enemy he is imposing his moral code and that doe snot make him chaotic.

the op example is clearly unlawful though.

Andoran

Being lawful doesn't necessarily require one to obey the law of the land; even a Lawful Neutral character might operate by a strict personal code of conduct but otherwise break the law as he sees fit. That said, the paladin code as presented in the core rulebook requires paladins to respect legitimate authority. Now, what makes authority legitimate is somewhat open to interpretation, but I doubt that most paladins would respect the authority of House Thrune, for instance, because they essentially seized power by force through the aid of Hell itself. That said, even though a paladin might be a rebel in Cheliax, that doesn't mean that they could break any of that country's laws willy-nilly. Even though the government is evil, some laws (don't steal, don't murder, etc) are fairly universal, and should be respected.


claymade wrote:


Myself, I wouldn't say that the primary use for a Paladin's Detect Evil is any of those, when there's a far more simple and straightforward use for it: to help him avoid wasting one of his Smites on a Neutral opponent. (Or on a Good opponent that they're mistakenly fighting, which I suppose would fall somewhat under #2.)

At any rate, the current form of Detect Evil is quite useful. I'ts just not so useful in the "tell me exactly what this person deserves me to do to him, so I can avoid all that pesky 'roleplaying' and 'character interaction' and 'ethical questions' stuff and just get down to the smiting" sense. Rather, it's a complimentary ability to your other abilities, a way to determine (if you do end up in combat with that person) whether your foe is of a nature such that you can Smite Evil on him effectively.

So the forces of pure good give the paladin a magical ability to smite evil... and they also give him another ability, the function of which is "wait 3 seconds before you smite, so that way you don't waste the limited uses we gave you of the first ability?" That seems a bit overwrought - why not just have the smite feature not "use itself up" when it is brought to bear against the wrong targets? Much simpler. For that matter, smite evil is a combat ability - and the majority of the time, in combat, it's usually painfully obvious which enemies are evil and which aren't (i.e. if it's not an animal, plant, or construct, there's a pretty solid chance it's evil).

1) Justify your claim that detect evil is particularly useful. Give me some common scenarios (heck, cite AP encounters) where it makes life easier. And while you're at it, consider the following scenario:

A)Paladin and friends encounter a humanoid creature in the dungeon. He seems vaguely sinister, so Paladin detects evil. He comes up evil. Of course, Paladin doesn't know WHY he's registering as evil - maybe he's just a really good thief, or maybe he's a baby-eating abomination. They will just have to interrogate him and make a judgement call.

B) Fighter and friends encounter a humanoid creature in the dungeon. He seems vaguely sinister, but they can't quite put their finger on why. Maybe he's just an outcast who lives in a dungeon, or maybe he's a terrible eldritch horror that feeds off of the souls of dreaming children. They will just have to interrogate him and make a judgement call.

Gosh, detect evil sure made a difference there.

And consider the fact that smite evil works just as well on a 1st-level thief as it does a 20th level evil cleric. Doesn't it seem weird that the transcendent forces of good strike down minor criminals just as hard as they do priests who worship devils and sacrifice virgins?

If I had my druthers, smite evil would do its awesome extra damage against the usual suspects and evil priests, and provide the appropriate defensive bonuses, but provide no benefit against more mundane forms of evil.

2) Detect evil is no more a roleplaying shortcut than diplomacy, intimidate, sense motive, etc. It's a mechanical tool designed to give information to players - it's up to the players to decide what to do with that information. Under my ideal form of detect evil, just because a paladin realizes the count is a vampire when he shakes his hand doesn't necessarily mean he instantly draws his sword and slays him - that would genuinely be lawful stupid. It means that the paladin knows exactly who the real threats are, and he can begin making plans to deal with them in the most effective way possible (i.e. going after vampires during the day).


The original case: Yes, especially with the wizard is not good at all, and dishonourful. Fall!

On the question on evil laws:
I would assume that in such a dilemma, Good should trump law- his powers are directed against evil, not chaos-, and the paladin would probably set the religious law of his religion above the evil secular law.


Punishing evil doesn't mean killing it. Turn them over to the local authorities, have them tried for their crimes and watch the hang(everyone wins). Plus it creates interesting role playing options. Maybe they try to escape or you have to deal with the local authorities. If that doesn't work for you turn them into the nearest church of your god. Slitting the prisoners throat is lazy role playing and evil besides.


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princeimrahil wrote:


1) Justify your claim that detect evil is particularly useful. Give me some common scenarios (heck, cite AP encounters) where it makes life easier. And while you're at it, consider the following scenario:

Our paladin uses Detect Evil all the time in useful ways.

Example: we were in the Brastlewark dungeon, after the gnome king had been enchanted by the Chelaxian ambassador, who had been arresting innocent people for nefarious reasons. So, we talk our way into the dungeon, but we don't want to just free the entire dungeon because some of the people are actually real criminals. So, the paladin uses Detect Evil on the prisoners. When it pings, does she slaughter them in their cells? No! We just leave them where they are. The non-detecting-as-evil ones, we freed.

Another example: in PFS, we visited a monastery. The gardener was a gnome, who convinced one of our party to do something that ended up hurting. Paladin detects evil, and he is indeed evil. Does she slaughter him where he stands? No! I use Charm Person, figure out who he is and what he's done, and then we report him to the abbot.


princeimrahil wrote:
So the forces of pure good give the paladin a magical ability to smite evil... and they also give him another ability, the function of which is "wait 3 seconds before you smite, so that way you don't waste the limited uses we gave you of the first ability?" That seems a bit overwrought - why not just have the smite feature not "use itself up" when it is brought to bear against the wrong targets? Much simpler.

(EDIT: Gah! Seconds are not rounds in Pathfinder! Sorry, what I'd originally wrote here must have been channeling my previous days playing GURPS, where rounds are set at exactly 1 second, and was ridiculously off-base for this issue.)

As for the question of why a smite doesn't just not "use itself up" when used on a target that it would be useless against, you might just as well ask for a divine spellcaster's spells not to "use themselves up" if you accidentally cast them on a golem or something that's immune to magic. It doesn't matter if it would be "much simpler"; it's just not how things like that work.

If you want to play odds on wasting your ability, you're free to play the odds on wasting your ability. If, on the other hand, you want to try to make sure it'll work... well, there's an extra cost in action economy for getting that information.

princeimrahil wrote:
For that matter, smite evil is a combat ability - and the majority of the time, in combat, it's usually painfully obvious which enemies are evil and which aren't (i.e. if it's not an animal, plant, or construct, there's a pretty solid chance it's evil).

Maybe, maybe not. Maybe puppy-kicking evil prince's mercenary guards are puppy-kicking evil right alongside him, or maybe they're just ordinary Neutral-aligned Joes who don't really know the details of what their boss is up to, and are just doing their jobs.

You're right that a lot of the time it's pretty obvious. But other times, not so much. No one's questioning that there are some situations where common sense is enough. It's just that in other situations you might very well want to spend a move action to confirm.

princeimrahil wrote:
1) Justify your claim that detect evil is particularly useful. Give me some common scenarios (heck, cite AP encounters) where it makes life easier.

I've never played any APs (only home games) but I can say that in our game, the paladin so far has just used it in exactly the way I described. Bizzare tentacled monster none of our characters have ever seen before is unleashed on us? Well, maybe it's some kind of evil devil-creature or demonspawn. Detect Evil! Oh, the GM says it's just a natural creature that none of us have ever encountered before? Well, nuts. But hey, at least he didn't waste his smite, and charge into battle thinking he'd be more effective than he actually was.

princeimrahil wrote:

And while you're at it, consider the following scenario:

A)Paladin and friends encounter a humanoid creature in the dungeon. He seems vaguely sinister, so Paladin detects evil. He comes up evil. Of course, Paladin doesn't know WHY he's registering as evil - maybe he's just a really good thief, or maybe he's a baby-eating abomination. They will just have to interrogate him and make a judgement call.

B) Fighter and friends encounter a humanoid creature in the dungeon. He seems vaguely sinister, but they can't quite put their finger on why. Maybe he's just an outcast who lives in a dungeon, or maybe he's a terrible eldritch horror that feeds off of the souls of dreaming children. They will just have to interrogate him and make a judgement call.

Gosh, detect evil sure made a difference there.

Actually, it did, considering how many ranks you'd have to sink into Sense Motive to get that "vaguely sinister" feeling with anything like reliability.

Yes, if you've got a party face who's put their points into Sense Motive, they can achieve much the same effect. But that doesn't make the Detect Evil spell useless, even in that sense. That would be like saying that the Read Magic spell is useless, because you can achieve basically the same effect with a Spellcraft skill roll. All the above example shows is that there's more than one way to skin a cat in Pathfinder.

You are right in one thing, though: neither approach allows the party to just skip over the "interrogate him and make a judgement call" part of things. And it is a very, very, VERY good thing that neither do so.

Detect Evil can put you on your guard, and it can give you a threat assessment of how strong the person your scanning would be if you did end up taking him on. It just doesn't, in its current form, give you carte blanche to kill him when he hasn't even made any offensive moves and you have no idea what form his evil takes.

princeimrahil wrote:
And consider the fact that smite evil works just as well on a 1st-level thief as it does a 20th level evil cleric. Doesn't it seem weird that the transcendent forces of good strike down minor criminals just as hard as they do priests who worship devils and sacrifice virgins?

Weird? No. Not at all.

At least, no more so than the far more fundamental fact than the power the transcendent forces of good can utilize is limited by a given Paladin's CHA modifier. Once you accept that, the rest becomes a trivial matter. The transcendent forces of good are giving you all the help you can successfully employ against any form of evil that you see fit to ask for their help against. It's not their fault that there's a maximum amount a mortal like you can manage to bring to bear, whether that's against a level 20 dark cleric or against a level 1 street thug.

princeimrahil wrote:
Detect evil is no more a roleplaying shortcut than diplomacy, intimidate, sense motive, etc. It's a mechanical tool designed to give information to players - it's up to the players to decide what to do with that information.

Of course diplomacy and intimidate aren't roleplaying shortcuts. Heck, roleplaying is built right into them. You roleplay your cajoling, your threatening, your bargaining, and then the dice roll to see how well what you said went over.

As for sense motive and detect evil, yes. They give information. And the good thing about those abilities (in their current form) is the kind of information they give, as well as the kind of information they don't give. You can learn from Sense Motive "this person is not on the up and up". Or, from Detect Evil, "this person is not on the up and up, and is also moderately powerful". Or even "this person is not on the up and up, and is CRAZY powerful! Be really, really careful when dealing with them!"

So you can get that sort of info. The sort of info you can't get, neither from the skill nor from the spell, is (to use your own example above) the answer to questions like "would we be morally justified in just starting combat with this random guy we found in the middle of this dungeon, without bothering to do any more interaction with him than glance at him for one single move action?"

princeimrahil wrote:
Under my ideal form of detect evil, just because a paladin realizes the count is a vampire when he shakes his hand doesn't necessarily mean he instantly draws his sword and slays him - that would genuinely be lawful stupid. It means that the paladin knows exactly who the real threats are, and he can begin making plans to deal with them in the most effective way possible (i.e. going after vampires during the day).

Sure, you might not attack immediately if you felt it was better to wait for a more opportune chance. That's all just questions of tactics as far as how you kill him.

The spell has already answered the interesting moral question for you of whether or not he deserves to die with a single passing interaction, leaving you with just the mechanical task of carrying it out. I can't find words to express the depth to which such a spell would disembowel my interest in a scenario.

(Also, I definitely think that not only determining the alignment and power-level, but also the type of being you're facing--i.e. vampire--is pretty overpowered in and of itself.)


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RumpinRufus wrote:


Our paladin uses Detect Evil all the time in useful ways.

Example: we were in the Brastlewark dungeon, after the gnome king had been enchanted by the Chelaxian ambassador, who had been arresting innocent people for nefarious reasons. So, we talk our way into the dungeon, but we don't want to just free the entire dungeon because some of the people are actually real criminals. So, the paladin uses Detect Evil on the prisoners. When it pings, does she slaughter them in their cells? No! We just leave them where they are. The non-detecting-as-evil ones, we freed.

Whether or not someone's alignment is good or evil (or neutral) has nothing to do with whether or not they have been justly imprisoned. A lawful evil butcher who uses dishonest scales can be imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit just as easily as a chaotic good rabble-rouser can be rightly locked up for disturbing the peace.

Quote:


Another example: in PFS, we visited a monastery. The gardener was a gnome, who convinced one of our party to do something that ended up hurting. Paladin detects evil, and he is indeed evil. Does she slaughter him where he stands? No! I use Charm Person, figure out who he is and what he's done, and then we report him to the abbot.

Are you saying that, in the absence of detect evil, your party would never have considered the possibility that someone who tricked them into hurting themselves was up to no good? That if the paladin had been a fighter, you guys would have just completely ignored the gnome, even after getting injured? Heck, the fact that you used DE already shows your suspicion - otherwise you wouldn't have bothered to scan him.


princeimrahil wrote:
Whether or not someone's alignment is good or evil (or neutral) has nothing to do with whether or not they have been justly imprisoned. A lawful evil butcher who uses dishonest scales can be imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit just as easily as a chaotic good rabble-rouser can be rightly locked up for disturbing the peace.

Well, for one it sounds like your evil butcher did commit a crime, but regardless we weren't using Detect Evil to figure out who did or didn't commit a crime, rather as a way to make sure we didn't accidentally free the serial rapist who was in the dungeon. We weren't assuming no one we freed had done anything wrong, simply that we should err on the side of freeing innocents over imprisoning criminals, but freeing powerful and evil people probably wouldn't lead to good results.

princeimrahil wrote:
Are you saying that, in the absence of detect evil, your party would never have considered the possibility that someone who tricked them into hurting themselves was up to no good? That if the paladin had been a fighter, you guys would have just completely ignored the gnome, even after getting injured? Heck, the fact that you used DE already shows your suspicion - otherwise you wouldn't have bothered to scan him.

He had claimed it was a sacred ceremony where those who were holy enough would be spared. Of course, it turns out he just had built a secret mechanical device into it that he was discreetly triggering. Anyway, some of our party was ready to try and "prove their devotion" even after seeing someone get hurt until the paladin detected evil.


I want to thank everyone for participating in my thread. I have read everyone's posts. There have been many good points brought up from all sides of the spectrum and I would like to clarify a few things.

1) The Kobold Wizard was a Wiz4 and should not have pinged evil. However, this was a very minor mistake and there isn't much difference between a Kobold Wiz4 or Wiz5. He may not have executed him if he didn't ping evil, however. But that isn't the issue here.
2) The Orc chieftain was a Barb7 and should have pinged. He had never met or even heard of this particular Orc before.
3) Neither creature had done anything evil that the Paladin knows of.
4) When asked by the player if they detected as evil, I simply said "Yes". Not, "Oh man he practically GLOWS evil" or anything like that.
5) I don't remember off of the top of my head what deity he worships. I think Iomedae.

My reason for creating this thread is because I don't think it's right for this player to use Detect Evil as a reason to kill (the "Will it blend!?" reference was hilarious, thanks for that.) It seems like the general consensus agrees with me.

I am going to take the contents of this thread, organize it, and present it to the player to clarify what being a Paladin should be.

I am not, however, going to make the Paladin fall. His character is in a unique situation. There is no "local law"; being in the World's Largest Dungeon there is no town guard; no courts, no justice really. He feels like he IS justice. But, I will clarify some things with him and explain that just because you can't take prisoners easily doesn't mean that you shouldn't try, if the situation warrants it. If he continues to act Lawful Stupid, he will have an unexpected meeting with his irritated and incredibly busy deity to discuss some things. Fun roleplaying =)

I don't think a Paladin should ALWAYS take prisoners, like some of the more entertaining posts have suggested. If a group of bandits charge him and his party, axes raised and arrows flying, pulling a "Nice Guy Reprogrammed Robocop" is just silly. However, after defeating several bandits and their leader, if some give up he shouldn't execute them just because they are evil. I would also expect him to check for dying foes to Stabilize. That is how I see Lawful Good.

This brings me to my last point; I need to clarify Lawful Good before this becomes an issue again. Those of you that said I need to discuss this with the player are correct. I will pull the player aside, discuss what Lawful Good means to him, his character, myself, and his deity and come to a consensus on his behavior.

Again, thanks all for participating in my thread. It has been a good discussion overall.


I agree this is stupid from the character. But alignments are too relative for that player to be blamed for what he made his character do IMO. You can explain your take on alignments - which I did toroughly with my players since they play as a neutral and good party in a lawful evil empire and would be dead if they tried to destroy good. But most importantly, I would hint him about the dangers of his way of taking decisions and would put him in a lot of situation where attacking on a detect evil would end direly for him.


ZanzerTem wrote:


I am not, however, going to make the Paladin fall.

I think that is a good idea, but I do suggest letting him know that future evil actions -- after discussing what evil actions are -- could cause a fall.

Quote:
His character is in a unique situation. There is no "local law"; being in the World's Largest Dungeon there is no town guard; no courts, no justice really. He feels like he IS justice.

As an aside, that concept sounds way more inquisitory to me. But anyway...

With all due respect--and I mean that, I respect that you're bearing in mind the particulars of the campaign as well as your player and his PC's POV--a paladin (or any NPC) being far from civilization is not a unique situation in a fantasy RPG. That doesn't necessarily justify ruthlessness.

A paladin would still respect the benevolent mores, rules, and codes he was raised in, no matter where he is. He may not be able to arrest or try and evil character, sure, and thus providing due process is currently impossible. But I don't see how that leads to the immediate and obvious alternative being cutting the throats of others in their sleep and provoking an attack where there is no known threat to innocents or oneself. There's huge space in between for lawful behavior in an uncivilized area -- capturing the potential threat, talking to it and asking what it's doing here, searching for evidence of wrongdoing beyond the presence of an evil aura (which is all too easily faked or masked with certain spells and magic items) among many and sundry other things before we get to "abandon all honor and become a cold-blooded murderer just because there's no police in the area."

Quote:


But, I will clarify some things with him and explain that just because you can't take prisoners easily doesn't mean that you shouldn't try, if the situation warrants it. If he continues to act Lawful Stupid, he will have an unexpected meeting with his irritated and incredibly busy deity to discuss some things. Fun roleplaying =)

It's cool you're going to talk to him about that. And taking prisoners isn't the only option either, but it would certainly be a much better one when it is possible.

Quote:


I don't think a Paladin should ALWAYS take prisoners, like some of the more entertaining posts have suggested.

I didn't notice anyone suggesting that. That would be rather extreme. A paladin being attacked by someone and killing them out of self-defense -- or an innocent being attacked and the only way to stop the attacker with a killing blow -- or a kill in the heat of battle even if it wasn't intended -- or even a planned military assault versus a known enemy -- I think would all be reasonable and not strip anyone of their lawful goodness.

Quote:
If a group of bandits charge him and his party, axes raised and arrows flying, pulling a "Nice Guy Reprogrammed Robocop" is just silly. However, after defeating several bandits and their leader, if some give up he shouldn't execute them just because they are evil.

Yes.

Silver Crusade

I've never really been able to figure out why so many roleplayers seem so eager to see Paladins fall. No other class in the game gets as much scrutiny for their actions as Paladins do.

"I had a Paladin in my game who littered. Littering is illegal in the town. Should he fall"

*Loud roar of YES!*

It's the strangest thing; feels like people are getting some sort of sexual gratification from it almost.

The other thing I really dislike is that a Paladin's conduct is suddenly open to discussion by every player at the table.

Actual Discussion (Enhanced for Comedy)

Player 1: Hey GM!
GM: *In the middle of narrating an encounter* "What?"
Player 1: Isn't the law in generic fantasy hamlet #1248 that on the 1st Tuesday of March, no one is allowed to wear purple?
GM: Uh...
Player 1: You Said! You said EXPLICITLY 23 sessions ago that was the rule!
GM: *Sigh* Ok, you're point?
Player 1: Well Bob the Paladin clearly stated in the 1st Adventure that his sash on his armor had a stripe of LAVENDER and Lavender is a shade of purple, and therefore Bob the Paladin has broken the LAW and is not LAWFUL GOOD and must therefore fall.
Bob the Paladin: What the...
GM:...F***?

*Player 1 proceeds to throw a fit. Lines in the sand are drawn. People take sides. Debates happen. People are FURIOUS about any GM decision. Players throw fits about GM fiat. Someone commits ritual suicide because they didn't get their way. Friendships are ruined.*

Kids, let this be a lesson to you. Don't flip the hell out about a Paladin's alignment restrictions. No one likes having these discussions, everyone has their own opinions, everyone else's opinion is clearly wrong, and at the end of the day, everyone ends up looking a bit stupid.

EDIT: I also wanted to say, it usually is the people who play the CHEESIEST alignment characters (True Neutral) who start these fights.

Grand Lodge

I think I want to play a paladin now. Considering I'm playing PFS and nothing else, should be interesting jumping between different interpretations from different GMs.


I believe "Lawful Stupid" refers to a player whose interpretation of the LG alignment leads him to nitpick every little dubious thing his compatriots do, and who goes so far to do the right thing as to leave himself and others in dire straights. That is, an unwise policeman who ruins all the fun.

Just as "Chaotic Stupid" is in reference to players whose interpretation of the CN alignment is basically the same as how the other 99% of us interpret Chaotic Evil. In other words, a way of being CE without saying you are CE.

Now, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. I've only known and played with about a million gamers over the past 32 years, and only about 100% of them agreed with those definitions.

So, what would I know, right?

Shadow Lodge

Bruunwald wrote:
Just as "Chaotic Stupid" is in reference to players whose interpretation of the CN alignment is basically the same as how the other 99% of us interpret Chaotic Evil. In other words, a way of being CE without saying you are CE.

Actually, I've always interpreted Chaotic Stupid as the character who thinks CN means "be completely random, even if it hurts my personal goals or the goals of my party." tvtropes agrees with me.

I think your Lawful Stupid definition is more on the mark, but in this case it's not so much a case of overreacting to minor crimes as just being in general way too stab-happy.


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ZanzerTem wrote:
My reason for creating this thread is because I don't think it's right for this player to use Detect Evil as a reason to kill (the "Will it blend!?" reference was hilarious, thanks for that.) It seems like the general consensus agrees with me.

Detect Evil is kind of annoying since you have a class ability, referencing a spell, referencing alignments, and it's rare that any given person is going to really closely read all these things but, yeah. Ideally, any time you're running a game where someone is playing a paladin, the first time they use Detect Evil, you should make it a point to put things on hold a moment and have The Talk:

1. There is Capital-E Evil (cartoon villains, demons, crazy death cultists, liches, etc.), but there's also lowercase-e evil (mercenaries, slimeballs, greedy jerks, a surprisingly huge number of PCs if you really take a good look at the official alignment definitions). Lowercase-e evil really isn't anything to get worked up over.

2. Detect Evil barely discriminates between the two (short version, Capital-E Evil counts you as being a few levels higher for aura strength).

3. It is ABSOLUTELY beyond the scope of the ability to use as a be-all-end-all system for judging a person's worth, for the above stated reason and the existence of various things that can fool it.

4. These are the sort of things Detect Evil should be used for, instead of snap judgements on whether someone is OK for killing:
- Tracking/checking for big evil nasties you can't see (behind doors, ducking you with invisibilty, etc.)
- Passing instant judgement on powerful magic items (I can't think of anything that would ping that you'd want anyone handling in this case).
- Seeing through certain disguises ("is this guy evil?" should never be standing operating proceedure, but when someone presents himself as an innocent toddler lost in the woods, and using detect evil on him stuns you for a round, one can reasonably assume something is up).

So yeah, the OP paladin there definitely needs a good talking to.


Bruunwald and Weirdo, you are both technically right about how Chaotic Stupid works.

Because of that, I think Chaotic Stupid should be split to two categories, which would be the ones you mentioned.

Shadow Lodge

How about Chaotic Stupid and Chaotic Sociopath?

Googleshng wrote:
2. Detect Evil barely discriminates between the two (short version, Capital-E Evil counts you as being a few levels higher for aura strength).

And it only does that if the Capital-E Evil is inhuman in nature - that of an outsider, undead, or priest of an Evil god. A level 5 non-cleric serial killer detects the same kind of evil as a level 5 thief - unless the DM rules that the thief isn't evil enough to actually have an evil alignment.


Googleshng wrote:
ZanzerTem wrote:
My reason for creating this thread is because I don't think it's right for this player to use Detect Evil as a reason to kill (the "Will it blend!?" reference was hilarious, thanks for that.) It seems like the general consensus agrees with me.

Detect Evil is kind of annoying since you have a class ability, referencing a spell, referencing alignments, and it's rare that any given person is going to really closely read all these things but, yeah. Ideally, any time you're running a game where someone is playing a paladin, the first time they use Detect Evil, you should make it a point to put things on hold a moment and have The Talk:

1. There is Capital-E Evil (cartoon villains, demons, crazy death cultists, liches, etc.), but there's also lowercase-e evil (mercenaries, slimeballs, greedy jerks, a surprisingly huge number of PCs if you really take a good look at the official alignment definitions). Lowercase-e evil really isn't anything to get worked up over.

2. Detect Evil barely discriminates between the two (short version, Capital-E Evil counts you as being a few levels higher for aura strength).

3. It is ABSOLUTELY beyond the scope of the ability to use as a be-all-end-all system for judging a person's worth, for the above stated reason and the existence of various things that can fool it.

4. These are the sort of things Detect Evil should be used for, instead of snap judgements on whether someone is OK for killing:
- Tracking/checking for big evil nasties you can't see (behind doors, ducking you with invisibilty, etc.)
- Passing instant judgement on powerful magic items (I can't think of anything that would ping that you'd want anyone handling in this case).
- Seeing through certain disguises ("is this guy evil?" should never be standing operating proceedure, but when someone presents himself as an innocent toddler lost in the woods, and using detect evil on him stuns you for a round, one can reasonably assume something is up).

So yeah, the OP paladin there...

Actually you can't use detect evil through a door because you don't have line of effect.

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