Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Pathfinder Society

Pathfinder Beginner Box

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Comics

Pathfinder Legends

The evil good guy, does Good / Evil really matter 99% of the time


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


So lets look at a couple of clear cut examples. Yes they are clear cut rules as written. Your GM may have their own rules.

The Evil Necromancer who creates undead to fight against other evils, helps the innocent, defends the weak, is good to his mother etc etc

The Evil Witch who cooks sentient creatures as part of her Patron worship again, helps the innocent , defends the weak, kills the bad guys and uses their corpses in her brew.

Both examples would give you an evil alignment even if you started Good or Neutral.

My question is outside a Paladin or similar Zealous good aligned NPC group is carrying the Evil tag really going to matter ? I mean if your not playing the evil guy trying to screw over the other PC's where's the harm in having an evil tag except in the above example when do gooder Paladin walks past you and senses your evil Aura.

But apart from the 1% of instances when detecting as evil is going to cause problems (which could be fun anyway) is there any other reason you can't play a productive champion of good with an evil alignment ?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

But are those things inherently evil acts? They're not evil, they just use "dark" powers to do good things.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

As a wise man once said: a truly evil man takes all of the good options, until he's in charge, and then BAM! Off-world slavery.

Shadow Lodge

I would call the eating of sentient living creatures Evil yes, provided those creatures are innocent of intending harm against you. I'm not sure I can outright say cannibalizing an enemy who intended lethal harm against you is any more or less evil than just outright killing him, and certainly is less wasteful ;) Don't most good dragons do the same to villains who try to slay them? Doesn't make them Evil. So from the description in that the Witch is only killing, cooking, eating, and sacrificing the bad guys she's fighting who intend to harm her in turn, no I wouldn't say she's Evil. If she starts going after innocents or children that's another issue, but not one you listed here.

Undead in my campaigns are not automatically Evil (though most are; however all mindless undead are True Neutral) so for me the Necromancer's doing nothing evil unless, again, he's turning the unwilling or killing innocents just to raise their corpses. It certainly freaks out most people, though.

No, I do not think it stops a party - barring the exceptions you listed - from being heroic or completing a heroic quest. It might give them pretty bad PR among the populace, potential employers, or rival adventurers, but them's the breaks.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think it's important to remember that alignment is the sum of your characters actions/outlook, not a consequence of any single action. If you're good 99% of the time and evil the other 1%, you're not an evil-aligned character.


from your examples a good necromancer is evil because ? and a neutral (or possibly even good) witch is evil because ?.

necromancy is not evil per se, animating corpses is not a evil action. raising undead only for good purposes makes the necromancer good.

a witch who limits herself to sacrificing the the corpses of bad guys she has killed is neutral (has compunctions about using other sentients for her own ends).

PRD:
Good Versus Evil

Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.

Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

Evil implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.

People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent, but may lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others.


cnetarian wrote:

from your examples a good necromancer is evil because ? and a neutral (or possibly even good) witch is evil because ?.

necromancy is not evil per se, animating corpses is not a evil action. raising undead only for good purposes makes the necromancer good.

a witch who limits herself to sacrificing the the corpses of bad guys she has killed is neutral (has compunctions about using other sentients for her own ends).

** spoiler omitted **

Necromancer is evil because he uses Create Undead , which is an evil spell

Witch Hex cook people specifically calls it out as being an evil act.

the fact your doing good is irrelevant.

But that's not really what I'm interested in discussing.

My point is does it really matter that your evil as far as playing in a group goes ?


Chengar Qordath wrote:
I think it's important to remember that alignment is the sum of your characters actions/outlook, not a consequence of any single action. If you're good 99% of the time and evil the other 1%, you're not an evil-aligned character.

casting create undead every day or cooking people every day is not 1% of the time, its 99% of the time ;)


Rynjin wrote:
But are those things inherently evil acts? They're not evil, they just use "dark" powers to do good things.

As far as the pathfinder system goes yes they are evil, create undead has the evil descriptor in the spell, cook people also specifically says its an evil act to perform the Hex or eat what's made


Phasics wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
But are those things inherently evil acts? They're not evil, they just use "dark" powers to do good things.
As far as the pathfinder system goes yes they are evil, create undead has the evil descriptor in the spell, cook people also specifically says its an evil act to perform the Hex or eat what's made

By that logic casting something like Spear of Purity repeatedly would make you good even if you were a child raping psychopath.


Rynjin wrote:
Phasics wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
But are those things inherently evil acts? They're not evil, they just use "dark" powers to do good things.
As far as the pathfinder system goes yes they are evil, create undead has the evil descriptor in the spell, cook people also specifically says its an evil act to perform the Hex or eat what's made
By that logic casting something like Spear of Purity repeatedly would make you good even if you were a child raping psychopath.

Yep that's correct ;)

great way to hide from the local Paladin if your dripping in a good Aura

mmmm note to self for infiltrating NPC :)


Phasics wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
Phasics wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
But are those things inherently evil acts? They're not evil, they just use "dark" powers to do good things.
As far as the pathfinder system goes yes they are evil, create undead has the evil descriptor in the spell, cook people also specifically says its an evil act to perform the Hex or eat what's made
By that logic casting something like Spear of Purity repeatedly would make you good even if you were a child raping psychopath.

Yep that's correct ;)

great way to hide from the local Paladin if your dripping in a good Aura

mmmm note to self for infiltrating NPC :)

Sorry, let me turn up the sarcasm.

By that "logic" casting something like Spear of Purity repeatedly would make you good even if you were a child raping psychopath.


Rynjin wrote:
Phasics wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
But are those things inherently evil acts? They're not evil, they just use "dark" powers to do good things.
As far as the pathfinder system goes yes they are evil, create undead has the evil descriptor in the spell, cook people also specifically says its an evil act to perform the Hex or eat what's made
By that logic casting something like Spear of Purity repeatedly would make you good even if you were a child raping psychopath.

Whew! thank god, i was really worried i was in trouble for a sec there!


Rynjin wrote:
Phasics wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
Phasics wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
But are those things inherently evil acts? They're not evil, they just use "dark" powers to do good things.
As far as the pathfinder system goes yes they are evil, create undead has the evil descriptor in the spell, cook people also specifically says its an evil act to perform the Hex or eat what's made
By that logic casting something like Spear of Purity repeatedly would make you good even if you were a child raping psychopath.

Yep that's correct ;)

great way to hide from the local Paladin if your dripping in a good Aura

mmmm note to self for infiltrating NPC :)

Sorry, let me turn up the sarcasm.

By that "logic" casting something like Spear of Purity repeatedly would make you good even if you were a child raping psychopath.

...too busy turning up your own sarcasm you apparently missed mine ;)


Phasics wrote:
...too busy turning up your own sarcasm you apparently missed mine ;)

My sarcasm detector broke long ago, I cannibalized the parts so I could download...well that's private.


Chengar Qordath wrote:
If you're good 99% of the time and evil the other 1%, you're not an evil-aligned character.

I'd argue that depends a LOT on what you're doing that 1% of the time. At the risk of dragging real-world examples into this, John Wayne Gacy was pretty well-liked by his neighbors until the cops searched his basement.


The spell create dead is evil, using the spell is not necessarily evil. Evil things used for good purposes is evil much as good things used for evil purposes is evil. Just because Evil MacNasty uses a holy sword to strike down the paladin defending the orphanaium MacNasty wishes to burn down so he can hear orphans scream as they burn to death, does not mean it is a good act and Evil MacNasty is a good person.

The cook people hex is a little different, the act of using the hex is an evil act, but that doesn't necessarily make the witch using the hex evil. The example witch meets the definition of neutrality on the good/evil spectrum when using the hex, she has compunctions on who she throws into the pit and doesn't turn innocents into cookies. It is an evil act (boo, hiss) used in the way a neutral person would use it. Mind you, if she starts seeking out evil doers solely for the purpose them in the cookie dough she is into evil territory, but that's not the way the example seems to read.

edit:erg, second sentence should start "Evil things used for good purposes is a good act..."


Arbane the Terrible wrote:
Chengar Qordath wrote:
If you're good 99% of the time and evil the other 1%, you're not an evil-aligned character.
I'd argue that depends a LOT on what you're doing that 1% of the time. At the risk of dragging real-world examples into this, John Wayne Gacy was pretty well-liked by his neighbors until the cops searched his basement.

True, there are some acts that are just so evil that they'll bump your alignment straight down to evil, no matter how good you were before. Some acts just cross the moral event horizon.

However, if it's a case of something like using necromancy or other evil powers in the service of The Greater Good, I'd say that sounds like a neutral character at the very least.


I tend to down-play alignment tags on spells. If we're talking about divine spellcasters who have a deity who disapproves of this sort of thing that's one thing, but I don't see a strong justification to enforce anything with regards to arcane spells. Magic can maim, kill, and cause suffering; most spells have the potential for evil and calling specific ones out doesn't make sense to me. I honestly have more ethical problems with using a "dominate person" spell to force someone to attack their own friends and comrades than I do with an animate dead spell.


Rynjin wrote:
By that logic casting something like Spear of Purity repeatedly would make you good even if you were a child raping psychopath.

Even better: Repeatedly summoning angels and forcing them to do your bidding would make you (register as) Good.


Distant Scholar wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
By that logic casting something like Spear of Purity repeatedly would make you good even if you were a child raping psychopath.

Even better: Repeatedly summoning angels and forcing them to do your bidding would make you (register as) Good.

Thankfully part of being DM means you need to enforce common sense if the rules are being stupid.


I tend to think of the alignment system as more of a set of guidelines than strict rules, which leads to my campaign and my characters operating on more of a "Blue and Orange Morality" system, where alignment counts for nothing and all parties involved have good motives as well as some questionable elements.

For instance, a Lawful Good character could have a strict set of morals, and in imposing their beliefs on others becomes overbearing and restrictive, and through their oppression is "evil".
On the other hand, a Lawful Evil character in a ruling position might slaughter their enemies mercilessly, but do so only to protect the citizens under their protection, making them "good".

As I take it, the alignment system is meant to show people where their personality lies on the moral spectrum. Once you start taking the actions and motives into account, the system becomes a bit too restrictive for my liking.


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

The detect [alignment] spells specifically state that current intent can alter their effects. For example, a just and good knight who intends to kill the man who slept with his wife will detect as evil via detect evil, even though his alignment is still good. Similarly, a vile witch who saves the burning orphanage might register as good.

This is one of the many reason why a paladin can't (or at least shouldn't) smite on sight.

The characters the OP describes ARE evil. They just often detect as good from their constant good intent. (Or vice versa, depending on your interpretation of the character's true motivations.)

Either way, those rituals are undoubtedly evil acts.


This thread reminds me of a dragon article on good and neutral necromancers.

Even the animated dead can be used for good.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
3.5 Loyalist wrote:

This thread reminds me of a Dragon article on good and neutral Necromancers.

Even the animated dead can be used for good.

Judging from a discussion I saw on the Pathfinder Online threads, the devs of the game would disagree with you.

That's really sad if you ask me, since it just reinforces the "All Necromancers are evil" stereotype, which I find both boring and sort of disgusting.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

In the core rules spells with aligned subtypes only influence how those spells interact with other things. Regardless of your alignment if you cast protection from evil then it is dispelled by dispel good, it is detected by detect good, and it bars it from being cast as a clerical spell by a cleric whose own alignment or deity's alignment is more than one step away from that alignment (an evil cleric cannot cast protection from evil even though they worship a Neutral deity who gladly floods their good and neutral worshipers with such spells).

Even the very uptight Pathfinder Society agrees that merely casting a spell with an alignment is not a particular act. There is no rule in the core game that says that standing in a field casting protection from evil is going to turn you into a saint, and casting animate dead over and over isn't going to turn you into a tyrant. What will is the reasoning behind it and what you do with it. If you are casting protection from evil on an innocent because you're trying to protect them, you'll be doing a good act. If you're using mindless undead to reduce casualties in a conflict while buying time for innocents to escape an encroaching horde of hobgoblins, it's a good act.

What's important to note in this is...
1) Those spells still radiate and detect as those alignments regardless of their caster. False positives and interactions in these cases.
2) Aligned spells typically are favored by those who share such an alignment. Evil people love using undead because they are going to appreciate the ease, effectiveness, and blind loyalty that they provide. Evil overlords don't have to worry about their undead minions rebelling, asking for pay, betraying their secrets, having poor moral, or having a moral crisis when they tell them to pluck the eyes out of angels.

Meanwhile, a good necromancer might instead use mindless undead because it is morally a better path to use calcium deposits to battle the forces of evil rather than putting more lives at stake. A good binder of fiends (such as the begetter of the trope, King Solomon) may force evil to do the service of good and turn evil against evil (there was even a prestige class based around this in 3.5). A wise wizard may cast protection from good to guard against a renegade angel's wrath (because aligned subtypes are indifferent to the creature's own moral alignment).

At the end of the day it is not the sword that determines if you are a murderer or a savior, it is how you use it. Some swords are scarier than others, however.

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

It really all depends on the type of game you're playing and the type of metaphysics you're using.

In some stories, mundane evil and magical evil are both equally evil. Killing someone by stabbing them with a knife and killing someone by sticking pins in a doll are both equally evil. In other stories, sticking pins in a doll is worse, and moreover, is kind of like evil magic crack, making the evil pin-pushing witch fall into a maddening spiral of doll-poking psychosis until someone puts her down like a rabid dog or gets her into rehab via an intervention with lots of priests and prayers and she recants ever touching the evil crack of black magic again.

Once you identify the sort of universe you're operating in, you'll know how to deal with it. If anyone who so much as looks at an evil spell inevitably turns into Dark Willow in Reefer Madness, then you've got your answer. If, on the other hand, magic is just a tool, and like any mundane tool it can be used for good or evil, and those who use magic are no more prone to psychosis than mundane folk, that's you're answer too. This doesn't mean that someone who finds an evil spell can't go Dark Willow, it just means that this is about as common an occurrence as someone picking up a razor and deciding to be Sweeney Todd. Nuts is nuts, and if someone has a psychotic break, they tend to use the tools they have on hand.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
If anyone who so much as looks at an evil spell inevitably turns into Dark Willow in Reefer Madness

i have laughing pains for real right now

Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder RPG / General Discussion / The evil good guy, does Good / Evil really matter 99% of the time All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.

©2002–2014 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.