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How many "evil acts" does it take to turn someone evil?


Rules Questions

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R_Chance wrote:
deuxhero wrote:


RAW: They can't. All an "evil act" does is make a Paladin fall.

Well,

PFRPG Core Rulebook (pg.168):

"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."

In short the GM can mess with your alignment if he / she thinks you're not playing it properly. Should they? Depends :) When should they? Their call. Is there any hard and fast rule? No. Can they? Yes.

It may be inexact and vague, but it's RAW.

Yay, that's the rules passage I was looking for. Thanks.


LazarX wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:

There is no specific number, really. The question of a PC's alignment is based on how they act in general and over time. If a PC does one evil thing every day but also does 5 equally significant good things, does he become evil when he hits a certain number of days? No. The evil he is doing is dwarfed by the good he does.

I notice nobody ever asks how many good acts it takes to become good.

Because both of these are moronic questions.

Good and Evil isn't something you judge like some form of Farenheit counter. They're holistic phenomena. Hitler wasn't evil because he did X amount more Evil acts than Good. He was evil because that's what he was on a holistic basis. He was the end result of his holistic development, not just a numerical score count.

I usually find myself disagreeing with you Lazar, but in this case I agree.

As much as people would love to measure good and evil, it's more or less impossible.

However, I still consider some "crimes" to be worse than others, such as murder being worse than theft.


I would like to point out that in Pathfinder, the do in fact sell indulgences.


beej67 wrote:

Thinking specifically about the Cook People hex, being used by a neutral character, and only on the bodies of slain enemies. Book says its an evil act, but it seems to me more like recycling.

I'd say taking class feature like this would make you Evil, never mind using it. You can make the argument of cannibalism out of necessity, but this is cannibalism out of convenience. Disrespecting the remains of sentient beings is typically considered evil behavior.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
R_Chance wrote:
deuxhero wrote:


RAW: They can't. All an "evil act" does is make a Paladin fall.

Well,

PFRPG Core Rulebook (pg.168):

"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."

In short the GM can mess with your alignment if he / she thinks you're not playing it properly. Should they? Depends :) When should they? Their call. Is there any hard and fast rule? No. Can they? Yes.

It may be inexact and vague, but it's RAW.

I GM'ed a PFS module where we had an Andoran Druid who had a mission to liberate a slave from it's owner. He achieved his end by the brutal surprise murder of the owner, killing an essentially unarmed man, rather than make a single attempt to negotiate, intimidate,or even communicate with his target. While that was the key reason I reached for his character sheet and removed the "Good" part of his professed "Neutral Good" alignment the rest of the way he had conducted his character up to that point had not really shown any inherent "goodness" within the character.

Overall after I explained why the player did not contest the change I had put on and I warned him that he was dangerously threading the line towards slipping to evil and thus removal from the campaign. Since then in my opinion, he was able to play the character more consistently as a true neutral than trying to pass as a Neutral Good.

To date, it remains the only time I've ever compulsorily altered the alignment on a character sheet.


beej67 wrote:


R_Chance wrote:


deuxhero wrote:


RAW: They can't. All an "evil act" does is make a Paladin fall.

Well,

PFRPG Core Rulebook (pg.168):

"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."

In short the GM can mess with your alignment if he / she thinks you're not playing it properly. Should they? Depends :) When should they? Their call. Is there any hard and fast rule? No. Can they? Yes.

It may be inexact and vague, but it's RAW.

Yay, that's the rules passage I was looking for. Thanks.

No problem. The descriptions of alignments recieve quite a few lines, but the rules for dealing with it are kind of tucked into a corner :)


LazarX wrote:


I GM'ed a PFS module where we had an Andoran Druid who had a mission to liberate a slave from it's owner. He achieved his end by the brutal surprise murder of the owner, killing an essentially unarmed man, rather than make a single attempt to negotiate, intimidate,or even communicate with his target. While that was the key reason I reached for his character sheet and removed the "Good" part of his professed "Neutral Good" alignment the rest of the way he had conducted his character up to that point had not really shown any inherent "goodness" within the character.

Overall after I explained why the player did not contest the change I had put on and I warned him that he was dangerously threading the line towards slipping to evil and thus removal from the campaign. Since then in my opinion, he was able to play the character more consistently as a true neutral than trying to pass as a Neutral Good.

To date, it remains the only time I've ever compulsorily altered the alignment on a character sheet.

Yeah, cold blooded murder is kind of the big "E". It always amazes me what some people put down as their character's alignment on the sheet and then what they do in game...

Shadow Lodge

Well, look at popular entertainment. Plenty of "heroic" characters do all sorts of violent things. Look at Judge Dredd. Look at Wolverine. Think these are more antiheroic types? Here's superman holding a guy upside down in midair.

Helic wrote:
beej67 wrote:

Thinking specifically about the Cook People hex, being used by a neutral character, and only on the bodies of slain enemies. Book says its an evil act, but it seems to me more like recycling.

I'd say taking class feature like this would make you Evil, never mind using it. You can make the argument of cannibalism out of necessity, but this is cannibalism out of convenience. Disrespecting the remains of sentient beings is typically considered evil behavior.

But is cannibalism necessarily disrespectful? My aforementioned druid not only wouldn't have minded the party witch turning her dead body into a Stew of Neutralize Poison or Remove Disease, she would have been upset if they had refrained out of "respect" and someone ended up dying of Mummy Rot. Slain enemies are trickier since they probably don't consent, but I can absolutely see a nonevil witch going around during plague time and offering to turn plague victims into cures for their friends and families.

If it affects the soul, it is inherently evil. But if it's just the body there are situations in which this would be morally OK or even advisable.


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Weirdo wrote:


Well, look at popular entertainment. Plenty of "heroic" characters do all sorts of violent things. Look at Judge Dredd. Look at Wolverine. Think these are more antiheroic types? Here's superman holding a guy upside down in midair.

Modern heroes just aren't that heroic. The anti-hero became the norm, essentially redefining what "heroic" is to modern sensibilities. It's reflected in our comics, movies and RPGs. It's why people have trouble with the Paladin's Code. Imo, of course.

Weirdo wrote:


But is cannibalism necessarily disrespectful? My aforementioned druid not only wouldn't have minded the party witch turning her dead body into a Stew of Neutralize Poison or Remove Disease, she would have been upset if they had refrained out of "respect" and someone ended up dying of Mummy Rot. Slain enemies are trickier since they probably don't consent, but I can absolutely see a nonevil witch going around during plague time and offering to turn plague victims into cures for their friends and families.

If it affects the soul, it is inherently evil. But if it's just the body there are situations in which this would be morally OK or even advisable.

In classic Western Civilization, cannibalism is evil and depraved. It is "disresectful" to the dead and there is an undefined tie between the body and soul. Other cultures may not see it that way, but the core assumptions of D&D / PF are those of Western Civilization. Bad guys are cannibals (i.e. Tolkein's Orcs), good guys are not. Even cannibalism, at present, for survival is looked on with the thrill of horror and scandal. Necessary? Maybe, for survival. Good? No.

*edit* Look at our funeral rights. Traditionally, we inter our dead with ceremony. Even cremations are generally accompanied by ceremony before / after cremation. This is both a token of respect for the deceased (and their families), religious sensibilities that require internment on holy ground and an example of a undefined tie between body and soul. All my 2 cp of course.


Weirdo wrote:
But is cannibalism necessarily disrespectful?

Keeping in mind that I mentioned that you could make the argument for Cannibalism out of necessity (and societies that practiced it probably did so out of necessity/survival, at least at first), generally, yes, cannibalism is generally disrespectful - especially in a fantasy campaign where:

1.) resurrection is possible, and easier the more intact the corpse is,
2.) sentient beings demonstratively have souls and an afterlife, so their corpses technically are still their own property even after death
3.) corpse eaters generally end up as evil undead ghouls.

Quote:
My aforementioned druid not only wouldn't have minded the party witch turning her dead body into a Stew of Neutralize Poison or Remove Disease, she would have been upset if they had refrained out of "respect" and someone ended up dying of Mummy Rot. Slain enemies are trickier since they probably don't consent, but I can absolutely see a nonevil witch going around during plague time and offering to turn plague victims into cures for their friends and families.

The difficult part being getting consent in the first place. We carve up dead people for their organs all the time, but we get consent from the dead person first (organ donor card) and/or from their close relatives.

You could argue torturing angels and using their tears to make healing potions to cure the masses might be acceptable, but "the-end-justifies-the-means" thinking usually ends up on the Evil pile.

Quote:
If it affects the soul, it is inherently evil. But if it's just the body there are situations in which this would be morally OK or even advisable.

I don't think it's so easy to draw that body/soul line. I'm sure someone could make the same situational arguments for using someone's soul ("It would be a good/necessary/OK act if...."). Social norms are the best guideline; someone from a community where cannibalism is accepted has implied consent, everyone else has NOT.

Shadow Lodge

Generally we assume Western values unless otherwise noted, and in Western civilization cannibalism is considered disrespectful. But that is in Western civilization. It's a culturally dependent evil, not an absolute one like murder of an innocent, or destroying a soul. D&D/Pathfinder doesn't observe all Western values - polytheism is a good example - so there's nothing stopping a DM from allowing cannibalism to be non-evil if done without evil intent.

R_Chance wrote:
Modern heroes just aren't that heroic. The anti-hero became the norm, essentially redefining what "heroic" is to modern sensibilities. It's reflected in our comics, movies and RPGs. It's why people have trouble with the Paladin's Code. Imo, of course.

I agree. I have no problem with anti-heroes and find them interesting from a story POV, but they're not heroes. Judge Dredd is LN, not LG.


Weirdo wrote:

Generally we assume Western values unless otherwise noted, and in Western civilization cannibalism is considered disrespectful. But that is in Western civilization. It's a culturally dependent evil, not an absolute one like murder of an innocent, or destroying a soul. D&D/Pathfinder doesn't observe all Western values - polytheism is a good example - so there's nothing stopping a DM from allowing cannibalism to be non-evil if done without evil intent.

D&D / PF assume a set of values and judges based on those. If you were a Thugee in rl, the murder of innocents is a culturally accepted religious ritual. My culture defines it as evil, as do most. The Breitish destroyed the Cult of Kali in India as a result of that judgement stopping the murder of an estimated 40,000 people a year. Having absolutes of good and evil pretty much eliminates cultural perspectives on it. Of course, I'd argue that being "evil" is an acceptable label in an evil culture in PF. We equate evil with wrong, a society that uses it to describe itself would not make that assumption. Hence, to an Orc,being evil is the acceptable norm ("I'm evil an proud o' it") not an abberation or a sociopathic problem.

Shadow Lodge

Agreed, the good/evil alignment system assumes that there are some absolutes, with murder being a big one. But cannibalism is a relatively minor one, and one that in a particular campaign could be moved into the same non-evil taboo category as eating pork, women being topless, or pointing the bottom of your feet at someone (extremely rude in Buddhism).

Pathfinder has absolutes of good and evil, but our idea of what those absolutes should be is at least partly culturally derived.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

If you want a different view on good, evil, and acts of Cannibalism, I suggest watching Cannibal Holocaust.


Well to the original question, GM fiat.

Now unless you go messing around with the aligment system, eating corpses is bad. The being said the basic assumed morality is the Black and white children book/show level, if you get that it's much easier to understand on how the stuff works.

Now if you want to run a game where it isn't as clear cut with more moral ambiguity, without just tossing the useless system out of the game. You need to decide what is inherently evil, or better yet some basic ideas on what makes things inherently evil. Let's say harming someone for selfish reasons is evil with the exception of self-defense. Going out your way to cause suffering with no other reason than to derive pleasure or profit from it would count. That sort of stuff.

Only way in gray moral setting that eating corpses can even start to count as evil, is if it somehow is more than just piece of flesh. Sure not respecting the corpse is rude and inconsiderate but rude is not Evil. Yelling "#£@£€{@#!%#!!!" To the bartender does not make you evil, it makes you a jerk. Now that being said it matters how you came in to possesion of these bodies, if somebody attacks you and you kill nom away. If taking their possessions is not considered Evil then their right of possesion to their bodies should not count either. Start breeding goblins or something to just eat them yeah that is going to be evil.

PS. A pet peeve of mine, there is no such thing Western civilization moral values. I do not even need to leave my own country to find people with totally different set of values from the culture I was raised in. The assumption that somehow the western world has the same moral values across the board is comedic at best. The stuff that we agree on is pretty much universal across the whole globe. Excuse my rant.

Edit: Some typos grammar and similar stuff.


RAW? No specific number.

Homebrew? I would actually lump any and all corpse eating under one blanket act of evil. He practices cannibalism, and that's often more a way of life than an act with malicious intentions.

So if you're looking to put a number on it, use cannibalism as 1 Act of Evil as far as alignment concerns go.


gourry187 wrote:

The moment you have to justify and rationalize an act as being not-evil, you are co firming that the act IS evil.

That's just my opinion but as far as RAW is concerned, the answer would fall to the GM.

I'd say you have to justify everything.

Superficially good acts oft have predictably evil ends.

Show me, for example, why sparing this particular young pickpocket is not just going to lead to more picked pockets and eventually other more violent crimes as he grows up.

Grand Lodge

Seventy times seven.


Tinalles wrote:
Ptolmaeus Arvenus wrote:
In many cultures, consumption of a corpse is a perfectly acceptable method of disposing it.
Okay, I'll bite. Which cultures are those? Name some.

Not exactly cannibalism but in Frank Herberts Dune series the Fremen did "reclaim" the water from their dead.

Shadow Lodge

Also, someone mentioned Kuru a while back. Prion disease that became prevalent among the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea due to cannibalistic funerary practices.

Atarlost wrote:
gourry187 wrote:

The moment you have to justify and rationalize an act as being not-evil, you are co firming that the act IS evil.

That's just my opinion but as far as RAW is concerned, the answer would fall to the GM.

I'd say you have to justify everything.

Superficially good acts oft have predictably evil ends.

Show me, for example, why sparing this particular young pickpocket is not just going to lead to more picked pockets and eventually other more violent crimes as he grows up.

Because you're going to put the fear of you in him, then wash his face, feed him, and give him the money for new shoes. And he will appreciate it.

There's quite a bit of evidence suggesting that one adult who takes an interest in a youth reduces antisocial behavior and improves life outcomes.


Weirdo wrote:

Also, someone mentioned Kuru a while back. Prion disease that became prevalent among the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea due to cannibalistic funerary practices.

Atarlost wrote:
gourry187 wrote:

The moment you have to justify and rationalize an act as being not-evil, you are co firming that the act IS evil.

That's just my opinion but as far as RAW is concerned, the answer would fall to the GM.

I'd say you have to justify everything.

Superficially good acts oft have predictably evil ends.

Show me, for example, why sparing this particular young pickpocket is not just going to lead to more picked pockets and eventually other more violent crimes as he grows up.

Because you're going to put the fear of you in him, then wash his face, feed him, and give him the money for new shoes. And he will appreciate it.

There's quite a bit of evidence suggesting that one adult who takes an interest in a youth reduces antisocial behavior and improves life outcomes.

There are all sorts of objections to that. You're an adventurer. You won't be there in a week. It presupposes that there isn't already an adult taking an interest for nefarious purposes (eg. the thieves' guild trope). It's a justification that works in some situations. If you're in a city that doesn't have much organized crime long term and have that evidence (that study isn't available over the Internet in Golarion so you'd need something like a past association with a charitable temple to know such things) then the justification works. With that character and in that environment. Next time you need to either come up with a new justification or justify why it still works for your new character and/or different circumstances.

Remember, by gourry187's standard the fact that you need to justify and rationalize something means it's evil. Not that you can't, but that you need to. Even if your justification is as simple and reliable as "Erastil said so" it still fails the gourry187 test because it's a justification.


Bigger Club wrote:


PS. A pet peeve of mine, there is no such thing Western civilization moral values. I do not even need to leave my own country to find people with totally different set of values from the culture I was raised in. The assumption that somehow the western world has the same moral values across the board is comedic at best. The stuff that we agree on is pretty much universal across the whole globe. Excuse my rant.

Edit: Some typos grammar and similar stuff.

There are core values to Western Civilization. It is a big tent however, I'll give you that. Cannibalism has always been a no-no. It's yucky and depraved and messes with someones afterlife. That is the classic view from the Westerm corner of the world. It's why Ghouls and Cannibals are stock bad guys. You can choose to change that for your game of course. The Witch hex being evil is pretty clear evidence that cannibalism is evil in RAW PF. Inevitably someone will argue a case of neccesity like the Donner Party, or Monty Python's Holy Grail when they ate the minstrels :). Have you ever heard the term "necessary evil"? There's a reason for that phrase. Being "necessary" does not mean it's not evil. Just necessary. Just as inevitably someoen will argue "in a different culture" raising the spectre of cultural relativism. Once you say "in another culture" it doesn't matter. By the "norms" of D&D / PF it's evil. Absolutes of good and evil aren't politically correct by modern standards. That's why they are "absolutes". The game is built on them. Can you get rid of them and establish a new "norm"? Sure. Just be prepared to deal with a host of nagging questions and minor changes to rules, spells, classes, outsiders, other monsters etc. In the end, it's all good. Well, not so much "good" as it is "fun" :)

And btw, "evil" is not "wrong" in D&D / PF. It's another philosophy of behavior in a conflicting system; "good vs. evil". In rl when you say "evil" you generally mean "wrong" as well. In D&D / PF the evil guys think they are right and you goody two shoes suckers are wrong.

My 2 cp. Ymmv of course.

*edit* As for the universality of cultural views... no. Go talk to a New Guinea native. Headhunting and ritual cannibalism is a cultural norm and is "right" by their standards. Even murder can be a religious / cultural imperative. Consider the Thugee in India. They worshipped Kali, the Black Earth Mother, by murdering an estimated 40,000 people a year across India. Murder was a religious rite for them, acceptable / "good" in their own terms. The other people in India and the British didn't agree. The British pretty much wiped the cult out. Bit of a cultural conflict there. The Romans forbade human sacrifice. The Carthaginians sacrificed the first born male child of each family to one of their trinity of gods. Another, relatively minor, reason they didn't get along. Celtic peoples also practiced human sacrifice (the Druids) and the Romans stamped that out. History is full of cultural / ethnic conflict over what is good / right and evil / wrong. In rl it all depends on your view, me, I'll stick with the Romans and British on this. Ritual murder and human sacrifice suck. So does cannibalism and headhunting (if to a lesser extent). Ymmv.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
R_Chance wrote:
It's yucky and depraved and messes with someones afterlife.

This is not a fact in the Pathfinderverse, and that's where the issue of morality ultimately hinges.

If no one is being victimized, ultimately it comes down to "Are they showing their dead respect?" Taldane dead guy might have very different expectations from Sarkori dead guy, but neither one is morally superior to the other. That isn't good vs. evil there, it's more like law vs. chaos, blue vs. orange, recycling vs. landfills.

You can have Values Dissonance in a setting without Moral Dissonance, after all.

For those that are having a hard time seeing alternate uses of the dead as anything other than "depraved" or "evil" even in cases of survival, consider this: Organ donors. They live in Western society. They save lives. Who would seriously label what they allow to be done with their bodies "evil"?

Shadow Lodge

I don't believe in the gourry187 test, as I think I made clear earlier.

I do agree that it's a very good idea to make a habit of justifying the things you believe are right, to say "hang on, I think this is good/bad, but is it really?" That's why I'm on a forum arguing in favour of cannibalism in certain circumstances.

I don't think that attempting to mentor a street urchin is necessarily the best option. But it can work if the party operates mostly out of a single town or otherwise has the means to keep in regular contact with the pupil. A good character can also arrange for a more stable mentor. Plenty of PCs do have either an association with a charitable temple or a history of personal poverty and would know how important it is for a young person to have someone watching out for them.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

I also want to say that this topic has driven me to salads for the past two days. Thanks a lot, thread >:(


You shouldn't be upset here, Mikaze.

This thread is pretty derp when you think about it :3


R_Chance wrote:
Bigger Club wrote:


PS. A pet peeve of mine, there is no such thing Western civilization moral values. I do not even need to leave my own country to find people with totally different set of values from the culture I was raised in. The assumption that somehow the western world has the same moral values across the board is comedic at best. The stuff that we agree on is pretty much universal across the whole globe. Excuse my rant.

Edit: Some typos grammar and similar stuff.

There are core values to Western Civilization. It is a big tent however, I'll give you that. Cannibalism has always been a no-no. It's yucky and depraved and messes with someones afterlife. That is the classic view from the Westerm corner of the world. It's why Ghouls and Cannibals are stock bad guys. You can choose to change that for your game of course. The Witch hex being evil is pretty clear evidence that cannibalism is evil in RAW PF. Inevitably someone will argue a case of neccesity like the Donner Party, or Monty Python's Holy Grail when they ate the minstrels :). Have you ever heard the term "necessary evil"? There's a reason for that phrase. Being "necessary" does not mean it's not evil. Just necessary. Just as inevitably someoen will argue "in a different culture" raising the spectre of cultural relativism. Once you say "in another culture" it doesn't matter. By the "norms" of D&D / PF it's evil. Absolutes of good and evil aren't politically correct by modern standards. That's why they are "absolutes". The game is built on them. Can you get rid of them and establish a new "norm"? Sure. Just be prepared to deal with a host of nagging questions and minor changes to rules, spells, classes, outsiders, other monsters etc. In the end, it's all good. Well, not so much "good" as it is "fun" :)

And btw, "evil" is not "wrong" in D&D / PF. It's another philosophy of behavior in a conflicting system; "good vs. evil". In rl when you say "evil" you generally mean "wrong" as well. In D&D / PF the evil guys think they are...

My 2 cp. Ymmv of course.

*edit* As for the universality of cultural views... no. Go talk to a New Guinea native. Headhunting and ritual cannibalism is a cultural norm and is "right" by their standards. Even murder can be a religious / cultural imperative. Consider the Thugee in India. They worshipped Kali, the Black Earth Mother, by murdering an estimated 40,000 people a year across India. Murder was a religious rite for them, acceptable / "good" in their own terms. The other people in India and the British didn't agree. The British pretty much wiped the cult out. Bit of a cultural conflict there. The Romans forbade human sacrifice. The Carthaginians sacrificed the first born male child of each family to one of their trinity of gods. Another, relatively minor, reason they didn't get along. Celtic peoples also practiced human sacrifice (the Druids) and the Romans stamped that out. History is full of cultural / ethnic conflict over what is good / right and evil / wrong. In rl it all depends on your view, me, I'll stick with the Romans and British on this. Ritual murder and human sacrifice suck. So does cannibalism and headhunting (if to a lesser extent). Ymmv.

I agree that the default/norm PF morality(aka Good/Evil) says these things are evil, I never disputed that. In my opinion that is a very dull overly simplified thing that I do not enjoy. But that does not really matter to the topic of discussion.

Note: I use the term Evil while I more mean against (my) values. Since there really is not such a thing as evil in the first place, but because of the PF alingment system is more or less the topic I use the term.

On there being or not being a common western moral values. Well you used the example Thugee, like you said most of India did not share these values, in the same country and more or less same broad defined culture. And you are argumenting that the whole western world shares the same basic values. I would say this distinct example is more supporting of my case. The other examples are from a time before there was what could be called a western world. Human sacrifice is in today's world considered evil pretty much universally across the world, so like I said earlier the shared things are not really matter of Western or not. I do not view cannibalism as in any shape or form to be evil, in most cases it has been it was because of how the bodies were aquired.

To use an example from my own enviorement. There is a culture here that is undeniably part of the western world even if it's origins come from Asia but that was many centuries ago. They hold the belief that male's in the family are superior to women. A mother is more or less expected to listen to their sons, with the exception if a higher ranking(ex. Father) male tells otherwise on the spesific topic. My point is that while most of the Western world belives in the equality of the genders or that is the taught value, personal opinions differ. This spesific culture does not share that belief. I can not figure out even one example that all of the western world shares that is not also shared universally by pretty much all cultures more or less.

I do not dispute that there is such a thing as Western culture, but I disagree that the cultures under that umbrella share the same value systems even on broad terms.


I think the answer to "cannibalism as evil" lies somewhere in the vicinity of "animating the dead as evil". I think it could be assumed that the bodies of sentients has value, maybe to their souls. Disgracing the dead, apparently, is an evil in pathfinder. One might think it shouldn't be but the base assumption is that it is. Perhaps it affects souls in some way. Perhaps pain afflicted to the body is also felt by the soul unless specific circumstances.

I do think that if both animating the dead and cannibalism is inherently evil acts in pathfinder, so should other forms of "bad treatments of the dead", such as putting heads on spikes, making armor out of skin and such. It's more consistent. And it should include all sentient beings, not just the PC races - so crafting a dragonscale armor should to some extent be an evil action.

Of course, evil actions could be made for good purposes. Animating the dead is an evil act (clarified as both RAW and RAI), but saving the kids in a burning orphanage is a good act. So animating dead to save the kids in an orphanage might end up being a net good afterall, as might cooking up plague victims to make cures for the living, or crafting an armor out of a dead evil dragons skin to protect the goodly races from it's kin. But that's up to the DM.


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If you've got any doubt about whether something is evil or not, the answer is neutral.

Applying the Evil label should be done only when you don't have two minds about it. Same as the Good label. If you've gotten to the point where you're not sure what to do, you're still not at the point where you can call it Evil.

In my games, I've ruled in three shades of neutrality for this purpose. Neutral, Neutral-Up-Shift and Neutral-Down-Shift. They act as buffer zones and warnings to players that they're on their way down a certain path and will eventually get there when I've "had enough". It still gives them time to change (or continue) their behavior as they see fit, without making a change to their character dramatic enough to make them feel persecuted.
-------
OOO! I saw some people talking about relativism. Relativism is a limp-wristed invention. Why?

Imagine a prison wall with a hole in it.
A: If a prisoner stays in this prison, the wall had no meaning.
B: If a prisoner leaves the prison, the wall had no meaning.
C: The wall has no meaning.

Imagine that the wall does not yet have a hole in it and that the warden asks a prisoner if he'd like a hole in it.
A: If the prisoner asks that there be a hole in the wall- the wall had no meaning (since it didn't keep him there).
B: If the prisoner asks that the wall has no hole, the wall had no meaning (since he clearly doesn't want to leave).

Lastly, imagine a person wakes up with no memory in a dark room. It occurs to him that the dark room may be the only thing in existence.
Either:
A: The dark room is only thing in existence or
B: The dark room is not the only thing in existence but
C: The answer cannot logically be BOTH A and B.

*In the first instance, it is illustrated that a thing has no purpose if it doesn't affect the outcome it exists to affect.
*In the second instance, it is illustrated that a thing has no purpose if it can be freely modified by the things it seeks to affect.
*In the third instance, it is illustrated that truth is greater then observation.

So what does that add up to? It means that
-If Good exists, it has no purpose if it doesn't affect decisions.
-If Good exists, it has no purpose if you can modify Good to account for your decisions.
-Good may exist independently from us, or it may not. If it does not exist independently from us, it is either meaningless (see first two points) or does not exist at all.

In the end it means this: While we may be correct or incorrect in what we believe Good is, by choosing to believe that Good somehow matters, we should accept that some things are Good and some aren't. If we choose to think otherwise, we are left with the only remaining logical option- that Good has no purpose for existence and therefore can be safely ignored (thus invalidating your belief in Goodness).

That said, what I believe is right may not be. What others believe is right may be. It's probably more complicated then 'do this, don't do that'. A cannibal who was raised to eat people may be morally just by virtue of not knowing any different. I can't judge to that.

What I can say is that relativism is short-sighted and question-begging. If you believe Good exists, you MUST believe that Good exists. Alternatively, you can choose believe that it doesn't exist. And if you believe that "Morality doesn't exist in a vacuum" then just say so. Because absolutism DOES require that things be cut and dry- but doesn't require that they be simple.

(I'm not gonna proofread this further- if there's a hole in the argument, I'm cool with someone pointing that out, but I think the meaning behind the argument is sound)

Shadow Lodge

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Its less about quantity and more about quality.

How many muggings is it to the burned orphanage?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Tinalles wrote:
Ptolmaeus Arvenus wrote:
In many cultures, consumption of a corpse is a perfectly acceptable method of disposing it.
Okay, I'll bite. Which cultures are those? Name some.
Not exactly cannibalism but in Frank Herberts Dune series the Fremen did "reclaim" the water from their dead.

And they also tended to murder anyone they came across that wasn't from their tribe.

But then again Dune is a Crapsack World where morality judgements are all but irrelevant.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps Subscriber
BigNorseWolf wrote:

Its less about quantity and more about quality.

How many muggings is it to the burned orphanage?

Depends on who you're mugging.


Well, it's fair to say that a person is a painting and you can't draw conclusions about them from one swath of paint.

Did you mug someone for personal gain? That's an evil act and a chaotic act.
Did you rescue the people in the orphanage for their own sake? That's a Good act and a non-ethics related act.

Ultimate answer: You're complicated. Typically speaking, complicated means neutral. Probably chaotic neutral, given this example.

Shadow Lodge

ClaimingLight wrote:

In the end it means this: While we may be correct or incorrect in what we believe Good is, by choosing to believe that Good somehow matters, we should accept that some things are Good and some aren't. If we choose to think otherwise, we are left with the only remaining logical option- that Good has no purpose for existence and therefore can be safely ignored (thus invalidating your belief in Goodness).

That said, what I believe is right may not be. What others believe is right may be. It's probably more complicated then 'do this, don't do that'. A cannibal who was raised to eat people may be morally just by virtue of not knowing any different. I can't judge to that.

What I can say is that relativism is short-sighted and question-begging. If you believe Good exists, you MUST believe that Good exists. Alternatively, you can choose believe that it doesn't exist. And if you believe that "Morality doesn't exist in a vacuum" then just say so. Because absolutism DOES require that things be cut and dry- but doesn't require that they be simple.

I am saving this and pulling it out for use in any further discussions of absolute Good and Evil.


Well my question has been answered for my case by my GM for my neutral hexcrafter magus gnome build I'm working on, in that it won't be necessarily evil if I follow a long and complicated set of Rules laid down in Gnome Fey Culture. (it's a Stonehenge centered game) So we went to Cultural Relativism for a solution in my case.

But there's an important half of the question you guys aren't even engaging.

Presume, for a second, that we all can hold hands and agree that it's an evil act, with no ambiguity. Or we replace the (Cooking of People) with something we can all agree is evil, such as the (Bashing of Kittens) or the (Playing of Nickelback CDs).

How many evil acts turns someone evil?

Is it 3 strikes? 10 strikes? Can you move back and forth on the spectrum by doing good things as well? How many Darkside Points do you wipe out with the Atone spell? All of them, or just some? Do you gain as many Darkside Points for killing a kitten as for killing a baby?

Contributor

Tibetan Buddhists use the bodies of holy lamas as medicine. Parts are taken, ground to powder, and given in pill form to the afflicted. A friend of mine lived in a household which hosted a number of visiting Tibetan Buddhist priests. He was sick so one of them offered him some of their traditional medicine. He took it. Yes, this makes him a cannibal, but I don't think "evil" enters into any portion of this equation. Using a saint's relics in the cultural manner expected and approved by the saint is usually what is termed holy or "good."

In Victorian times, people used mumia as medicine. "Mumia" is the fancy name for mummy dust, made from grinding up old mummies. This was viewed as neutral in a cultural that nonetheless viewed Sweeney Todd murdering people for meat pies as ghoulish horror.

Then consider Irrisen. They've got the Bone Mill that grinds the bones of the dead for everything from pottery to furniture to necromancy. Set up as witchy evil, yes, but also a lot of cultural "waste not, want not" in a land where there's not much to eat so where's the logic of putting good meat in the ground? It would only be dug up by bears. And if it can be turned into medicine? I expect there's some witch at the Bone Mill taking certain choice cuts to use with Cook People to make delicious medicines.

Shadow Lodge

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Why does that make him a canibal? Is he an alpaca or something?


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beej67 wrote:

Well my question has been answered for my case by my GM for my neutral hexcrafter magus gnome build I'm working on, in that it won't be necessarily evil if I follow a long and complicated set of Rules laid down in Gnome Fey Culture. (it's a Stonehenge centered game) So we went to Cultural Relativism for a solution in my case.

But there's an important half of the question you guys aren't even engaging.

Presume, for a second, that we all can hold hands and agree that it's an evil act, with no ambiguity. Or we replace the (Cooking of People) with something we can all agree is evil, such as the (Bashing of Kittens) or the (Playing of Nickelback CDs).

How many evil acts turns someone evil?

Is it 3 strikes? 10 strikes? Can you move back and forth on the spectrum by doing good things as well? How many Darkside Points do you wipe out with the Atone spell? All of them, or just some? Do you gain as many Darkside Points for killing a kitten as for killing a baby?

7. No, 12.

15?

Actual answer: 1, as long as you ask the question "How many times can I do this before I turn evil?" before you do it.

Shadow Lodge

That's actually not a bad guideline. If you know something is immoral and are trying to ask how much of it you can get away with, you've already decided that moral concerns take second place to your personal desires. And that in itself is at least a little evil.

It's a very subjective issue that's up to player and GM judgment. That said, here's my take...

beej67 wrote:

How many evil acts turns someone evil?

Is it 3 strikes? 10 strikes? ... Do you gain as many Darkside Points for killing a kitten as for killing a baby?

There are different levels of evil. Killing a baby is worse than killing a kitten, which is worse than killing an ant. Intent and context also matters. Stealing for kicks is worse than stealing to feed your family. Premeditated killing is worse than killing in a fit of passion, which is worse than accidental killing. One very evil act might be enough to turn someone evil. For lesser evils, you'd have to make a habit of it. No fast rule on what counts as a "habit."

beej67 wrote:
Can you move back and forth on the spectrum by doing good things as well?

Sort of. They do balance a bit in that someone who consistently performs significant good acts and occasionally commits minor evil acts isn't evil. But that's more along the lines of natural variation within the alignment than it is moving between alignments. You can also see alignment shift over time, but these redemption or temptation arcs tend to be slow changes and longer-lasting.

beej67 wrote:
How many Darkside Points do you wipe out with the Atone spell? All of them, or just some?

Alignment change or other forms of Atonement is immediate and complete - it gets rid of all the evil. But a person receiving Atonement really has to repent of their deeds and want to change. If you're not sorry for having killed babies, you can't Atone. And you certainly can't just pay the cleric to change your alignment to LG and then keep killing babies.

Grand Lodge

How many licks does it take to get to the Evil center of an Evil Pop?

A one... a two... a tha-ree!

*chrunch*

Three.

How many licks does it take to get to the Evil center of an Evil Pop? The world may never know.

Grand Lodge

More seriously...

Assign an arbitrary value to any given evil act, such as faint, moderate, strong and overwhelming (to borrow from [detect x] spells). Assign a scaling ratio of how these values relate to each other (overwhelming = x strong = y moderate = z faint). When a character reaches (overwhelming), it shifts alignment towards evil. This assumes a starting place of neutral. If the character starts at good, then reaching (strong) will cause a shift toward evil, resulting in neutral, and restarts the tally.

So, if Overwhelming = 8 Strong = 64 Moderate = 512 faint, and a character starts at a neutral alignment, it will take 1 overwhelming act of evil (slaughtering all the children in the Jedi tower). Or 8 strong acts of evil (murdering an innocent). Or 64 moderate evil acts (murdering non so innocents, perhaps for vengeance, torture, cannibalism, etc.). Or 512 faint evil acts (considering an strong or overwhelming evil act, or wish such an act to occur, stealing from an innocent, causing undue harm to another, killing when not necessary, etc.).

Feel free to use whatever scale you feel comfortable with. Above, I use an exponential scale of 8, but you could use 2 or 4 or 10, or make it a simpler geometric scale or whatever you like.

Of course, a similar scale would be created for acts of good, and such acts may counter an act of evil. Naturally, performing a good act solely for the purpose of negating an act of evil would not count as a good act.


Mikaze wrote:


R_Chance wrote:

It's yucky and depraved and messes with someones afterlife.

This is not a fact in the Pathfinderverse, and that's where the issue of morality ultimately hinges.

I made my claim of "yuckiness" for Western values not Golarion per se. I don't play in Golarion so I would have to plead ignorance on the specifics of the setting. In any event, with the relevant Witch hex involving cannibalism described as "evil", no ifs, ands, or buts about it, someone who wrote the rules found canibalism to be evil. Ressurection type spells (at the lower level - Raise Dead) are tied to having the body available, probably because of the connection to the soul. Afterlife anyone? The rules, if not the specific setting (Golarion) seem to draw a connection between the body and the soul. They, to the extent they say anything about it, also describe cannibalism as "evil". Ymmv.

Mikaze wrote:


If no one is being victimized, ultimately it comes down to "Are they showing their dead respect?" Taldane dead guy might have very different expectations from Sarkori dead guy, but neither one is morally superior to the other. That isn't good vs. evil there, it's more like law vs. chaos, blue vs. orange, recycling vs. landfills.

Again, I don't know the setting, but in a system of moral absolutes (Good / Evil) someone is good, and someone is evil. I don't ascribe right or wrong to those descriptors. Whether good or evil is "right" is a matter of your cultural values in a D&D / PF setting. To display what little I do know about Golarion, someone from Cheliax would think evil is "right" and someone from Andoran would hold good to be "right". If I have my countries / alignments right :)

Mikaze wrote:


You can have Values Dissonance in a setting without Moral Dissonance, after all.

For those that are having a hard time seeing alternate uses of the dead as anything other than "depraved" or "evil" even in cases of survival, consider this: Organ donors. They live in Western society. They save lives. Who would seriously label what they allow to be done with their bodies "evil"?

In D&D / PF I think what we have an argument over is whether good or evil (and law or chaos) is "right". There aren't organ donors in the game given the technology doesn't allow for it and no one has ever developed the requisite spells. And the Western values being considered really predate the practice of organ donation. I can assure you in rl the Catholic Church, among others, gave close consideration to the practice before giving it their blessing. As for other practices regarding organ removal, the removal of organs for religious / burial purposes has been aroung for a long time (i.e. Egypt) and if your burial practices involved it I doubt anyone would find an issue with it.


Bigger Club wrote:


I agree that the default/norm PF morality(aka Good/Evil) says these things are evil, I never disputed that. In my opinion that is a very dull overly simplified thing that I do not enjoy. But that does not really matter to the topic of discussion.

Note: I use the term Evil while I more mean against (my) values. Since there really is not such a thing as evil in the first place, but because of the PF alingment system is more or less the topic I use the term.

The default norm of the game rules is what was under discussion. I wasn't talking about variations in that whether interesting or not. Nor was I worried about whether the values built into the game were interesting or boring. As for evil not existing, I think you're wrong there. It may not be as simple as game morality but there are things that I don't think can be described with any other term. That, is another discussion however.

Bigger Club wrote:


On there being or not being a common western moral values. Well you used the example Thugee, like you said most of India did not share these values, in the same country and more or less same broad defined culture. And you are argumenting that the whole western world shares the same basic values. I would say this distinct example is more supporting of my case. The other examples are from a time before there was what could be called a western world. Human sacrifice is in today's world considered evil pretty much universally across the world, so like I said earlier the shared things are not really matter of Western or not. I do not view cannibalism as in any shape or form to be evil, in most cases it has been it was because of how the bodies were aquired.

The worship of Kali fit well within the Hindi religious framework. It had gone unhindered for centuries. That it could be rooted out and destroyed by a foreign military points to the fact that it was not that well hidden. I do doubt anybody else in India shed too many tears for the Thugee though. Those other times you mention helped forge the Western world view. While human sacrifice may have been done in other things exist that are not, unfortunately gone. Western Europe, and later the United States, rid itself of slavery and I don't think you could find any arguments in it's favor in the west. But slavery still exists elsewhere. One of the reasons it is difficult to see the cultural differences around the world is because the west has been very succesful at exporting it's own values. Not uniformly succesful of course, but western ideas have taken root elsewhere making changes (for good or ill) in these cultures. Other cultures, of course, have had some influence on the west as well. It's a two way street, but the road from the west is wider than the one coming back.

Bigger Club wrote:


To use an example from my own enviorement. There is a culture here that is undeniably part of the western world even if it's origins come from Asia but that was many centuries ago. They hold the belief that male's in the family are superior to women. A mother is more or less expected to listen to their sons, with the exception if a higher ranking(ex. Father) male tells otherwise on the spesific topic. My point is that while most of the Western world belives in the equality of the genders or that is the taught value, personal opinions differ. This spesific culture does not share that belief. I can not figure out even one example that all of the western world shares that is not also shared universally by pretty much all cultures more or less.

I do not dispute that there is such a thing as Western culture, but I disagree that the cultures under that umbrella share the same value systems even on broad terms.

The idea of male supremacy was the norm in western culture until recently. For a number of reasons it has been fading out, replaced by a belief in gender equality. Change does occur. Processes like this take time. A lot of it unfortunately. Cultural change is not the fastest thing in the world, especially if it doesn't involve a lot of violence to force it. Western culture is a large umbrella of a shared broad group of values. Under this heading are many regional / national / ethnic cultures that add variation to these basic concepts. Even in nations that believe in gender equality we have remnants of prior belief, say opening doors for women, escorting them to their car, in short "having manners". Do they need the special treatment? No. But they still recieve it. Women aren't treated identically to men, but the inequality accorded them, and the trappings of it are reduced compared to other areas in the west. Ideas are slow to travel, slow to be accepted, sometimes rejected, but often mark inevitable change.

Back to grading papers. Philosophy is time consuming :)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
R_Chance wrote:
Mikaze wrote:


R_Chance wrote:

It's yucky and depraved and messes with someones afterlife.

This is not a fact in the Pathfinderverse, and that's where the issue of morality ultimately hinges.

I made my claim of "yuckiness" for Western values not Golarion per se. I don't play in Golarion so I would have to plead ignorance on the specifics of the setting. In any event, with the relevant Witch hex involving cannibalism described as "evil", no ifs, ands, or buts about it, someone who wrote the rules found canibalism to be evil. Ressurection type spells (at the lower level - Raise Dead) are tied to having the body available, probably because of the connection to the soul. Afterlife anyone? The rules, if not the specific setting (Golarion) seem to draw a connection between the body and the soul.

This isn't really affecting one's afterlife though. Damaging a body and rendering it unusable for spells like raise dead does nothing to the soul, only to the physical shell required to house the soul if it's called back from the afterlife. Notably, true resurrection depends only on the soul. If we use the argument that rendering a corpse unusable for raising spells is immoral, we must apply that value judgment to cremation, sky burials, certain embalming methods, and possibly even autopsies. And that just doesn't jibe.

As to the rules specifically saying cannibalism in all forms and intents is evil:

Quote:
They, to the extent they say anything about it, also describe cannibalism as "evil". Ymmv.

Actually, James Jacobs has described cannibalism as chaotic. I don't think I quite agree with that as an absolute, but it does show that things aren't quite so cut and dry on that matter.

Now Cook People, I would certainly grant being evil, for reasons I and others stated upthread. But painting what lizardfolk and Tibetan monks do as evil doesn't sit well at all, partially because:

Quote:
Again, I don't know the setting, but in a system of moral absolutes (Good / Evil) someone is good, and someone is evil.

This ignores a critical part of the alignment system: Neutrality. Not everything is either Good or Evil, that's a false dichotomy. A lot of things aren't morally weighted, or a differently morally weighted depending on a number of other factors. There are definite and solidly Good and Evil acts in the context of the game, but I don't think cannibalism, or rather certain forms of it, fall under the Always Evil marker.

Quote:
In D&D / PF I think what we have an argument over is whether good or evil (and law or chaos) is "right". There aren't organ donors in the game given the technology doesn't allow for it and no one has ever developed the requisite spells. And the Western values being considered really predate the practice of organ donation. I can assure you in rl the Catholic Church, among others, gave close consideration to the practice before giving it their blessing. As for other practices regarding organ removal, the removal of organs for religious / burial purposes has been aroung for a long time (i.e. Egypt) and if your burial practices involved it I doubt anyone would find an issue with it.

Organ donation is very much within the realm of possibility in the Pathfinderverse, given the high technology of Verces(and who knows what in Apostae). But even on Golarion, the "Catholic Church giving close consideration argument" actually applies in favor of variant burial practices. The chruch of Pharasma is hardly homogenous in culture, with one of the core unifying factors being "showing respect for the dead". And there are many varying ways across Golarion's cultures to show genuine respect for the dead. Whether it's burial, cremation, sky burial, or a ritualized passing of the flesh, those approaches aren't Good or Evil on their own. They're Neutral.

Kevin Andrew Murphy's earlier note on relics of Catholic saints is highly relevant when exploring that territory.


If a paladin is about to unknowingly eat human stew would his phylactery of faithfulness trigger? I'm guessing when he says 'grace' (or his religions equivalent) he would get a hint?


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Seems this has been necro'd.


Quote:
HOW MANY "EVIL ACTS" DOES IT TAKE TO TURN SOMEONE EVIL?

It's like the old, old Tootsie Pop commercial. "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?" [character starts licking and counting the licks] [lick] "One!" [lick] "Two!" [CRUNCH] "THREE!"

Three licks...if the last one is big enough.

If the rules say the act is evil, if the setting says the act is evil in the location, and if the GM feels the act is evil in the society in which the characters live, then the act is obviously evil. It does not matter if some splinter group in a far off corner of the world consider it to be a way to show love and appreciation.

It is part of roleplaying. It is easy to avoid doing evil things, if there is no temptation. The quality of your roleplay is tested, when there is something you want to do, but you know that the consequences are dire. Can you resist, or will you succumb to temptation for the immediate gratification and deal with the consequences later?

Sczarni

Funky Badger wrote:
Actual answer: 1, as long as you ask the question "How many times can I do this before I turn evil?" before you do it.

I'm glad this thread was brought back from the realm of the dead. I'm totally using this line in the future.


The system I use was stolen from the Neverwinter Nights games with a slight addition by myself = 2 axis: Law/Chaos, Good/Evil. Each axis has a 1-100 score, 25 or below was Chaotic or Evil, 75 or above was Lawful or Good.
Players initial alignment choices dictate their starting scores but the players actions then modify it (rate subject to DM dicretion), so that over game time a consistancy of action will result in alignment change. As a DM Ikeep the score and give a player a rough idea of where they are if asked. Over the 5 levels or so of the game I currently run, one character has moved to an extreme level of goodness (well above 90) while two are close to becoming chaotic neutral.

In the case of the curse discussed I would consider two things, 1. the inherent 'evilness' of the spell and 2. the purpose of the act.

The system works in my view because the players actions and character development will ultimately result in an alignment that reflects the players actions.

Cheliax

The same number of good acts as it takes to turn a neutral person Good.
Or the same number of lawful acts as it takes to turn a neutral person Lawful
Or the same number of chaotic acts as it takes to turn a neutral person Chaotic

As long as the GM is consistent in _every_ direction it is fair. He should not be singling out evil actions.

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