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Paladin (Alignment) Debate - Need help


Advice

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Hey everyone

So we had an issue tonight, and my gut says it was wrong, but i would like to hear some other opinons...the issue....

The party entered a wine cellar that contained a wererat (and unknown to the group it's still human child.)

The paladin sensed evil and yes the wererat was lawful evil, but the wererat asked the group to leave its den multiple times as the party moved up to it.

The paladin moved up to the wererat and started attacking.

After the first round, the wererat asked the party to leave again and the paladin attacked a final time and killed the wererat.

To me this in itself is an evil act on the paladins part. The wererat did not attack even once, it asked multiple times to be left alone (knowing its child was there) and the paladin wailed away anyway.

What are your thoughts? Is this what a paladin (or even just a LG pc) character embodies?

Slaughter of a creature that will not defend itself?

In my opinioon there was little difference between the paladin slughtering the wererat or a CE npc slughtering a good character.

No difference?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Yup, if i were GM that Paladin was totally doing an evil act, would lose his paladin status and have to atone.


For starters, Detect Evil isn't a blanket allowance to kill anything that pings evil. That's not generally how Paladins work. Killing in self-defense, or to prevent further evil, may be acceptable. Slaughtering a creature that doesn't fight back and who has not been proven to have done something evil is neither lawful nor good.

Additionally, I think it goes against the general code of conduct too, with that stipulation of fighting honorably. Killing a creature who is not fighting back and who has asked several times to simply be left alone does not seem like an honorable thing to do.

If there's more to the story (such as what the PC's were doing there in the first place, and if the wererat was suspected of something bad), things might change, but at a glance, that looks like very poor judgment on the Pally's part.

I wouldn't say to invoke a fall right off the bat. The player might just not understand a Paladin's moral code (to be fair, it's generally in a lot of dispute). Either way though, they definitely need a lesson on what being a Paladin means, either in game or out of game, to better understand them, because if such actions happen regularly, the Paladin is probably in for a fall.

Also, this is a neat guide.


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That's at the very least a probationary offense. The creature did not threaten or attempt to harm the party, he simply asked to be left alone and the Paladin murdered him.

Look at it this way, your average Cheliaxian is Lawful Evil, no? Would the paladin be justified in busting into random people's homes and killing them? I don't think so.

Cheliax

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His deity, at the very least, is going to send him a super strongly worded letter that would be along the lines of "SON I AM DISAPPOINT."


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Hello my friends! I also happen to be a part of this adventuring group, and am here to give my 2 cents.

Now, to put it plainly, I am a Lawful Good Drow Monk and was the only one of my companions who was NOT okay with what was being done to the poor wererat (hilarious that the Drow isn't okay with it, I know).

Now, the real problem for me came from earlier. We were in the upper reaches of the dungeon, killed an Ogre, got a key, and freed a Lawful Good Ranger. Then we freed her 5 companions ... 2 of which were evil. The Paladin refused to work with these 2 (obviously) and we escorted the entire group of them outside and locked them out.

Now back to the wererat. This thing was, presumably, no more evil than the 2 humans who we let live. The only excuse that was mustered was that the humans "had not yet done anything worthy of being punished".

And yet, there wererat did not either. We got there, he asked us to leave. The Paladin advanced, he asked us to leave. The Paladin attacked and nearly killed him ... He asked us to leave. What about that says "evil" at all? Nothing, that's what.

The only judgement they gave was that the wererat was a "monster" and "diseased" and that you should "kill a disease before it spreads". And I honestly find it a little bit racist. You let the 2 humans live, who could easily go out and rob some people or murder a priest, but the wererat who was only asking to be left alone should immediately be condemned and murdered for simply being a "monster" and "diseased" (even though lycanthropy is really a curse)?

Am I thinking the wrong way here?


Yeah that clarification solidifies my opinion.

Put the Pally on probation. Take away his Smite for a while or something and let him know that his next slip up will result in a full blown fall.

Hell, if you want some fun have his god come down to pimp slap some sense into him.


Make a warning, lets time let him fall.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

I would warn a paladin that went against his code and let him know he is moving down the wrong path. This was an out and out evil act; he murdered a creature not fighting back. That is so far down the path of what a paladin should be it counts for an immediate fall.


Personally as a DM I don't like to put my players in that type of situation. If the wererats were neutral and he killed them there would be no question of it being an evil act. Question becomes whether the creatures are inherently evil as some are. I would say no in this case and with the wererats asking the party to leave then the Paladin should not have slain them. As the DM you need to show him the error of his ways. If this means he needs to lose his powers for awhile so be it. You must decide if this rises to the level of requiring an atonement.
"Code of Conduct: A paladin must be of lawful good
alignment and loses all class features except proficiencies
if she ever willingly commits an evil act."


Well, Kridak, your gut is right on this one. This is a very common case of Lawful Stupid. I will show you another (off the top of my head) example, using an AM PALADIN type format (no, he doesn't play this way, but it will help obviously explain the point I make with the term Lawful Stupid):

Lawful Stupid Example:
GM: You enter a tomb filled with coffins. Several bones lay around the deserted sanctum, a couple of them clutching rusty swords.

Paladin PC: OH AM GAWD, AM THINK IT'S UNDEAD. AM DETECT EVIL.

GM: While focusing on the general area, you do feel a sense of maliciousness around a few of the sets of bones.

Paladin PC: AM KNOW IT UNDEAD. AM SMITE, AM KILL, AM DO GOOD!!

GM: You shatter the bones, not realizing that they were of honorable guards. You have desecrated their remains due to misdirection, not knowing the true evil lay within their very hands.

Paladin PC: AM NOT CARE. LOOKS EVIL, SOUNDS EVIL, TASTES EVIL, SO AM EVIL ANYWAY.

GM: Listen man, your paladin just destroyed and desecrated the remains of honorable guards. Your God is going to be very ticked off at you.

Paladin PC: AM SMITE GOD BECAUSE AM PALADIN!!

GM: Yeah, good luck with that... (Deity makes rocks fall, everyone dies)

You see where I am going with that? A Paladin needs to be wary of their actions, because they are held to a standard of honor, responsibility, temperance, and restraint. That Paladin just violated those codes (and probably more than what I just listed). Unless your God is all about quelling evil, no matter what the "evil" is or what their activity or motive is, then by all means, your God won't make you atone/fall, but that seems too chaotic for any Paladin deity to even allow to have happen.

So let's see where he went wrong:

1. He attacked an unarmed, defenseless, and (obviously) unwilling combatant. A Paladin is an honorable fighter, and slaughtering a warrior without his sword drawn is a disgrace to their code of conduct.
2. A Paladin should be open to a creature who is not causing evil acts (even though they are evil through other means); unless he has some sort of probable cause to even consider attacking it (which the creature obviously did not provide, outside of being detected as evil, something trivial that shouldn't warrant a death wish), he has no reason to even use force against it. A Paladin should allow a creature to live its life assuming it doesn't endanger others in a wrongful way.
3. The creature was evil due to something outside of its control. Perhaps the creature contracted Lycanthropy due to the origin of its birth, or due to an accident that happened, and perhaps had no means (or even knowledge) of being able to reverse it. The Paladin should (almost always) be open to paths of Redemption (just as a God is open for a Paladin to atone for any misdeeds they may commit).
4. Regardless of it being a lycanthrope, it was still a youngling (and one that can be cured/redeemed, mind you). The mindless slaughtering of children (just as his actions demonstrated) is hardly the mindset of a Paladin character, nor is that really the role model he should preach and/or demonstrate to the general public of good.

That's just the basics. We can also go into the racism bits, but that's semantics. The TL;DR point is, Paladin played Lawful Stupid, and now he should pay the price.

Heck, one thing his Deity should do is not say anything at first, leave him with the fact that he fell, and when he calls for a Lay on Hands, or a Smite Evil or what have you, he'll waste that standard action and find out nothing happens, get confused and/or angered, and when he gets to that low point, when he's about to die (though he would live), the Deity should talk to him and say "Now you know what that child felt like before you killed him like Lambs to the Slaughterhouse. Powerless; Helpless; only wanting to survive, and having it be denied due to your ignorance. He could have been saved, and lived to become one of many Paladins, but your foolishness deprived him of such privilege."


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ah see here we go.

Paladins exist to route out evil and destroy it where it lives and festers.

Wererats are an evil monster, they can't be trusted, and there is no reason to let them survive.

Just because it can speak doesn't mean we have to let it live. It can do evil when you aren't there. It poses a threat to the next people that meet it AND it can spread it's disease/lycanthropy.

Suppose on year one, you let the wererat live, only to find out of year 3 there is a huge army of wererats taking over southern varisia laying waste to the countryside and growing in numbers daily through the spread of lycanthropy.

Humans? they could be redeemable, not the were rat, and it's completely feasible that it was destroyed.

Would I have played MY paladin that way. No. But neither would I have left, until I was satisfied it was not hiding a nefarious scheme, and so I would have kept an eye on it, while my party throughly searched.

then I would imprison it, tie it up or something, and then possibly research a way to fix it/heal it whatever.

Barring that there is really nothing else to do with it BUT destroy it. It's an evil monster that can spread pain and suffering once the paladin is gone. the paladin 1) has the 'god given' right to mete out justice 2) the paladin has the DUTY to do so as well.

You guys in above posts are also missing something, the wererat he killed WAS NOT a child. It had a HUMAN child somewhere the PC's could not see it at the time. that is to say it was a were rat, but it's biological human child was not yet inflicted.

If it had enough 'evil power' to detect as evil, per RAW. There is no reason why the paladin should spare it, unless in doing so, it somehow would serve the greater good (like making a deal with a drug pusher to take down the king pin)


By that logic though, if the Paladin is Detecting Evil in a city, and a random human 'dings' evil, are they allowed to slaughter them?

You can try to imprison them, tie them up or whatever, but how long is that supposed to last? And if there's no way to be satisfied that they don't have a nefarious scheme, that leaves nothing else to do but destroy them?

I don't see how it being a wererat makes any difference in such a situation. Without proof of it planning something evil, that's pretty much wanton killing. Not very lawful, and not very good, at least not as to how I would consider them.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Paladin derped.

Detecting evil does not give a paladin, or any character that wants to call itself Good, free reign to do murder. They need something more than that to justify taking a life.

Exactly how would any paladin ever guide any evil beings to redemption following the subject of this thread's approach?

Silver Crusade

If a paladin is walking about town, turns a corner, sees a demon, detects evil and it pings, does the paladin fall for attacking it or for not attacking it?


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since when is 'redemption' a paladin mandate?

Inside a city, the government has methods and systems to deal with it's citizens. the paladin, unless mandated so, has no authority with in the bounds of another lords government.

The traveling knight (IRL) had the right to 'mete out justice' in lands out and about (usually under the behest of the local lord whose lands it was, but in the absence of his men or presence, any knight could do this, and actually was REQUIRED to do it). As such, the knight errant would be freely put up for the night where ever he travelled (as was according to the law) but in payment for that service, the visiting knight was required to hold court.

These courts often resulted in multiple summary executions are required/dictated by law.
Many of these "issues" brought before the knight could be YEARS before having been brought to trial, because that was the last time anyone had seen a government official that wasn't the tax collector. Only knights and lords could hold court.

the Paladin Class was based almost entirely on this RL example of knights and meting justice.

The difference is Paladins aren't actually corrupt and a vast majority of the traveling knights were, as they had no one to answer to. the Paladin however has a god. Which is the source of the paladin code.

for example read excerpts from King Arthur, and his knights travels and behaviors as many of them have been called out by the games creators as examples of paladins.


Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
If a paladin is walking about town, turns a corner, sees a demon, detects evil and it pings, does the paladin fall for attacking it or for not attacking it?

Just because something is evil does not mean a paladin must do battle with it. Especially if the paladin is 1st level, and the demon in question is a balor. That's just suicide (and we all know it).

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Pendagast wrote:

since when is 'redemption' a paladin mandate?

Since it's a class devoted to Good.

The presence of the LG drow monk makes this stand out even more.

If Team Good was supposed to go "it's evil, kill it" all the time, that drow would never have had the chance to turn towards good(or his ancestors, if that's the case).

Taking the actual good out of Good reduces it to Evil by a nother name, that just happens to be a bit more selective about who it does evil towards.

Personally I'm burnt out on having damn near every single redemption attempt or complex interaction with evil characters sabotaged by the "it's evil, kill it! 24/7" mindset. Like since 2E.


I like my redeemer paladins, but there's always room for some wrathful ones as well. Good characters don't always agree.

If a redeemer paladin is too lenient and hopeful, he may get duped into allowing some really heinous things to go down.

Similarly, if a wrathful paladin is too zealous, he might just end up committing some of those very same heinous things.


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Mikaze wrote:
Pendagast wrote:

since when is 'redemption' a paladin mandate?

Since it's a class devoted to Good.

The presence of the LG drow monk makes this stand out even more.

If Team Good was supposed to go "it's evil, kill it" all the time, that drow would never have had the chance to turn towards good(or his ancestors, if that's the case).

Taking the actual good out of Good reduces it to Evil by a nother name, that just happens to be a bit more selective about who it does evil towards.

Personally I'm burnt out on having every single redemption attempt or complex interaction with evil characters sabotaged by the "it's evil, kill it! 24/7" mindset. Like since 2E.

that's your opinion, not how it actually works.

If there is a demon, and the character isn't capable of taking it, then no he isn't required to attack. but likewise he isn't required to refrain.

Complex interactions with evil/redemption, that's great, have fun doing that, but you can't control someone else's character with silly interpretations of an overly restricted pseudo code to suit your purposes.

No the paladin doesn't have to let the evil live, if it's evil enough to ping, that is PROOF it has done, and will continue to do evil, thats WHY it has an evil aura.

A 1st level evil cleric CAN be attacked an slain BECAUSE he has an evil aura... he has gone far enough down that path to devote himself to evil.

The Paladin CAN also choose NOT to kill the cleric, or wererat. But he may be responsible for it's actions afterwards, since he had the chance to thwart the evil when he encountered it.

The real test is the REASONS/MOTIVATIONS for his actions, not his actions themselves.

The LE guy might kill there were rat "in the name of saving humanity" because he doesn't want the wererat to reveal that they are secret partners, or maybe he wants his stuff.

the LG good kills the were rat because of the terrible danger this creature poses, the spread of evil is nigh if left unchecked and there is not moral requirement that this creature be given the chance to attack first, bringing harm to those under the paladins protection and possibly spreading more lycanthropy.


@ Pendagast: Well, looks like I read something wrong. Still, the Paladin shouldn't have acted that way. It's a little silly for me to use a real life example, but Paladins aren't Alignment Nazis. Just because something is evil doesn't mean that they should just go out and vanquish it, especially when there is something more to it than that.

For example, if the Paladin knew that it was seeking a human child (or even implored as to the reason why it is here, eventually getting that answer), he would understand that the Wererat was wanting something that the Paladin would also want in turn (finding this human child and taking him to safety). Though, if the Wererat wanted this human child for nefarious means (food, revenge, etc.), the Paladin would then have the right to slaughter him to preserve the life of the innocent.

Paladins aren't Alignment Nazis. If a Paladin is a Nazi, then a Wererat is a Paraplegic (can't be good due to it being afflicted by Lycanthropy, meaning it must be "purified"), a Demon is a Jew (A demon is a demon, nothing can cure that, meaning its heritage denies any right for it to live), a Devil is a Gypsy (constantly wages sinister deeds and lies to exist, and should be put to death due to how it behaves), the list goes on; and they must gather them all up and execute them either in pairs, or one by one in the most horrible way possible. How exactly is that being a Paladin again? Because you smite evil?

No, that's Lawful Stupid. "It's evil, kill it" is something a Dump-Stat 5 Intelligence Fighter (who only wants an excuse for combat) would come up with as a reason to fight, and chances are it wouldn't matter if it was evil or not, since he'd still attack it anyway because it's there and it's something for him to swing his sword at. How about "The Wererat threatens the life of an innocent and refused to cooperate with the forces of good for the sake of said innocent"? A reason that could not have been came up with when the actions that were taken easily suggest the former. Receiving such divine power and prestige doesn't come freely, or function as a police badge/green card to kill evil as they please.

Yes, a Paladin is asked to exorcise evil, this is no doubt true. But if the evil is hardly a threat to the perseverance of good (and shows no signs of it), there is no need to mindlessly slaughter, especially when such evil can be instead cleansed and ultimately reversed for the better; they should only resort to violence when they have no other means at their disposal.


Mmm, I'd say we need background. Did they just wander into the guy's home and kill him for being a lycanthrope? Did he kill a bunch of people first? Have they ever previously encountered him, attempted diplomacy, and wound up shot down?"

Wandering into the guy's house and killing him for being what he is is definitely not paladin-ish.

Killing the guy because he has killed others is a fair bit more forgivable.

Ignoring his attempts at diplomacy is touchy. That's on the borderline of doing wrong, but there may be justification that pushes it one way or the other (i.e. you've tried reasoning with him before and he just used the time to attempt to kill you while you talked).

Also, this:

Pendagast wrote:
The real test is the REASONS/MOTIVATIONS for his actions, not his actions themselves.

tldr: See quote #2.


*****This is where

Lawful stupid lives and comes to life.

Being evil and doing evil are not the same.....

Imagine a person who thinks (evil intent) of a wide range of things to do to his fellows...yet does not act. So in not guilty.

He can not be convicted of his intentions he has to do wrong.

Or the evil person is 4 years old, yep put him to the sword he is eventually going to do wrong.


Possibly unrelated, but keep in mind: Detect Evil doesn't detect evil for normal evil creatures with 4 HD or less. An evil wererat CHILD might not be strong enough to emit an evil aura.

Edit: I re-read the first post, and I think I misunderstood, the wererat and the child seem separate...


Slaying evil is part of the Paladin Mandate, Evil things are evil either because they are intrinsically evil or because they had done evil things. Killing something that is intrinsically evil is a public service and killing something that has done a plethora of evil things is justice.


a person who only thinks evil is 1st level and thus doesn't ping. to act is to get experience. experience is levels, levels ping.

So yes, ignoring the fact that the wererat wasn't attacking is touchy, what's going on here.... hmmmmm.

However, behaving like this again, and again, in a consistent manner, might require atonement..
But not a single instance.

Anakin killed an entire village of sand people, sand people are like orcs, they are an evil race that preys upon the weakness of others, did he turn to the dark side? No. He even repented of his ways because he knew after ward it was wrong, but it was a key branching in his fall.

So yes we don't have background, why was the party in the wererats home?

as a Paladin, I'm not going to leave just because the were rat tells me to. Heck I dont even know if this is his lawful home. After I leave maybe he ambushes and kills the real home owners when they return from a day of berry picking.

as per the spell detect evil, the wererat detects as evil if its INTENTS are evil, or it has enough HD to have an evil aura of a detectable level, which means a history of evil acts, and or the great potential to do much more evil.

This is not the "detect alignment" ability, this is detect EVIL.

Wererats do not have a choice to be good, the affliction changes the original being, body and spirit. Unless perhaps this particular wererat was within three days of being afflicted, but then wouldnt have under gone the transformation until the next full moon, and thus wouldn't have become lawful evil yet.

As such, the were rat pinged as evil, had enough evil power and or evil intent, It's existence is justification for aggressive negotiations.

If the were rat didn't mean any harm. why didn't it just surrender "please help me! I dont want to be this way" but it didnt do that.

being lawful good doesn't mean waiting for something to attack first, which is clearly a dangerous threat.


Wind Chime wrote:
Slaying evil is part of the Paladin Mandate, Evil things are evil either because they are intrinsically evil or because they had done evil things. Killing something that is intrinsically evil is a public service and killing something that has done a plethora of evil things is justice.

And yet for all we know, the Wererat the OP mentioned could be doing something for the greater good, something the Paladin not only should have considered, but something the Paladin could have offered for something that was intrinsically evil (since according to OP, the Paladin has no clue as to whether or not the Wererat was going to do anything evil).

Paladins are also expected to offer redemption, as well as show restraint and temperance regarding violence and combat, something that weighs just as heavily in their code as it does to fight the forces of evil. Just because you're a Paladin is no excuse for you to act like an idiot about things. "I'm told to exorcise vil. I see evil, so I exorcise it. I'm only doing what I was told to do, so I can't fall for that." And in doing so, they would have abandoned a child due to his overzealous/ignorant behavior.

Once again, the concept of Lawful Stupid comes into play due to the ignorance of other important aspects of a Paladin. Paladins need common sense with their doctrine. Just because they are told to fight Evil doesn't mean that's all they do regarding evil. They also use it to their benefit (in this case, using this Evil creature who was doing nothing wrong to find a human child and essentially save an innocent's life).

Tell me, do you see Paladins as a Dump Stat 5 Intelligence Uber-powered Fighters with a Green Card to kill Evil regardless of circumstance, using their status and selective code interpretation as a pitiful excuse to inadvertently do wrong? No? Good. That's what Lawful Stupid is, and that's exactly what happened with this scenario.


He Falls from grace, just becuase its evil does not give a free pass to kill it, if its not doing anything wrong, its murder and its done in front a child...

+70 evil + 95 chaos


Wind Chime wrote:
Slaying evil is part of the Paladin Mandate, Evil things are evil either because they are intrinsically evil or because they had done evil things. Killing something that is intrinsically evil is a public service and killing something that has done a plethora of evil things is justice.

See KenderKin's post. An evil character might just be selfish and uncharitable. He or she may be innocent of guilt. Thought-police paladins are going to have a hard time talking their way out of slaughtering every jerk they encounter (granted, many are going to lack the sufficient HD to "ping").

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Pendagast wrote:

that's your opinion, not how it actually works.

If there is a demon, and the character isn't capable of taking it, then no he isn't required to attack. but likewise he isn't required to refrain.

Complex interactions with evil/redemption, that's great, have fun doing that, but you can't control someone else's character with silly interpretations of an overly restricted pseudo code to suit your purposes.

No the paladin doesn't have to let the evil live, if it's evil enough to ping, that is PROOF it has done, and will continue to do evil, thats WHY it has an evil aura.

A 1st level evil cleric CAN be attacked an slain BECAUSE he has an evil aura... he has gone far enough down that path to devote himself to evil.

The Paladin CAN also choose NOT to kill the cleric, or wererat. But he may be responsible for it's actions afterwards, since he had the chance to thwart the evil when he encountered it.

If that's not how it actually works then how does the Redeemer paladin archetype ever have a chance to function?

And I'm not out to control another character's actions. I'm just calling the action as it appears, in response to the OP's question.

As for the absolutist stance on evil clerics, and the other problems with looking at detect evil and levels as absolutes:

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?

If I was playing a paladin(or ANY Good character), only one of those would be on my kill list. And it's not the one that detects as evil. The other two could go in any number of other directions, but I'd never know without trying.


Pendagast wrote:
a person who only thinks evil is 1st level and thus doesn't ping. to act is to get experience. experience is levels, levels ping.

Please explain to me high level aristocrats, commoners, and experts. Have you (or your DM) never awarded XP for story related stuff, such as solving puzzles?


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Being an NPC class doesn't mean you havent acted and there for gotten experience.

Manson didn't technically kill anyone, he just manipulated and ordered others to do it. So what he's not evil? He didn't gain experience. power, influence due to his actions/thoughts?

Are you trying to claim a 15th level CE aristocrat can't be an evil influence worthy of vanquishment because he's never cast an evil spell or lifted a weapon in anger?

What makes him 15 HD of EVIL?
his past actions.

If he was 15th level and didn't do evil things, he wouldnt have an evil alignment.


@ Pendagast: I doubt anyone faults the Paladin for using Detect Evil on the Wererat; heck, any sensible (and negotiable Paladin) would use Detect Evil as a leverage tool. On top of which, it should give him some indication as to how he should act towards certain individuals.

If the Wererat wasn't attacking the Paladin (even after the Paladin gave a couple solid hits, and ultimately a killing blow), then quite frankly the Wererat had no intent to go against the will of good. If it's not going against good, then how can it be evil? Due to a factor that it has no control over? That's like saying black people are evil because of the color of their skin. They were born that way, and even if they wanted to change it, they have no means to do so.

In a consistent manner? There was no reason to behave like that to begin with. The creature didn't want to fight, it just wanted to be left alone. The Paladin didn't even have to be like "Hey, you radiate Evil, you must die!" Especially when its intent definitely sounds like you were invading its territory. The Paladin could have at least been as diplomatic about it as he could, saying things like "Why should we leave?" or "What are you doing here?" Such a thing is also in the Paladin's code, and is something that should be adhered just as much as their code to exorcise evil.

That's a good question. Hopefully, OP can clear that up. As far as I am concerned, it sounds like they had to go through its home while on a quest, and they decided to kill it because it was something in the path and it "radiated" evil. Hardly a reason for a Paladin to justify killing it.

You can sense such auras generated by items, afflictions, etc. If the Paladin would have spent time focusing on determining the cause of the evil, he would have understood that it was due to its Lycanthropy. In addition, if the Paladin wasn't Lawful Stupid, he would know that there may be some sort of cure to Lycanthropy (the source of the Evil alignment), and should have taken that into consideration before going all gun-ho for killing it. Am I saying the Paladin should treat it as its best friend? Hardly. I am saying the Paladin doesn't need to resort to killing as his first means of restraint/exorcising evil, especially in terms of a possessed being.

What do you mean it "didn't just surrender"? It said "Leave me alone, get out of my den," perfectly reasonable requests, and indicates that the place was his home, and it made no effort to run away or fight back, since it didn't move, had no weapons drawn, or natural weapons readied to defend or strike with. (If that's not surrendering, then I don't know what is surrendering.) The Paladin was merciless and relentless, slaughtering the "evil" creature due to the belief that Detect/Smite Evil is fool-proof and can't ever be wrong or misleading, and shows yet another fatal flaw in Lawful Stupid psychology.

By all means, if the Paladin's only means to correct such "evil" was to kill it, then the Paladin would not be in the situation he is now. But it wasn't the only means. It was also the most abrupt, destructive, chaotic, and cruel means he had at his disposal, the last thing he should've went for, because his Detect Evil made a ping? Gun-shy, much?

Being Lawful Good means abiding by your code and doctrine that you were taught to uphold; doing a reckless and foolish act such as this breaks that vow you made, something the Paladin constantly devotes themselves to. If they can't be a role model to what they preach in the proper manner, why give them the right to be a Paladin?


Charles Manson is definitely evil. That aside, killing things isn't the only thing that grants experience. Further, an NPC can be whatever level the DM wishes (15th or otherwise). Experience is a storytelling tool and nothing more.

An NPC that has cheated on his wife, never paid much attention to his children, lied in court, and avoided paying his taxes is probably going to "ping" as evil because of his intentions (NE). He's not a nice guy. Does he deserve an execution?

Perhaps not every point of XP garnered by an evil character is achieved through dastardly deeds...


Pendagast wrote:

Being an NPC class doesn't mean you havent acted and there for gotten experience.

Manson didn't technically kill anyone, he just manipulated and ordered others to do it. So what he's not evil? He didn't gain experience. power, influence due to his actions/thoughts?

Are you trying to claim a 15th level CE aristocrat can't be an evil influence worthy of vanquishment because he's never cast an evil spell or lifted a weapon in anger?

What makes him 15 HD of EVIL?
his past actions.

If he was 15th level and didn't do evil things, he wouldnt have an evil alignment.

Evil alignment is more of a MINDSET than a set of ACTIONS though.

Evil characters are either out for themselves, obsessed with destruction, or want tyrannic rule (simplified, of course). Yeah, the guy who's out for himself is a jerkass, but does he deserve to die? Hell, does the dictator deserve to die really in some cases, assuming he's the kind that is harsh (VERY harsh), but fair, and maintains a decent standard of living for his populace?

It's all a matter of degrees really.


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Clearly you are trying to just armchair this, having never had any experience making decisions that might be even slightly difficult.

Can't take prisoners, have no way to control them, or care for them, can't leave him be, he's too dangerous left to your rear or flank.

Got to do SOMETHING.

The creature would not have detected as evil is it was redeemable, you can't fix lycanthropy after the first transformation and it's alignment shift. It will murder, it will do evil, it will spread lycanthropy. Should this just be ignored because it was behaving these 10 minutes?

If you ask me the GM set this up poorly. This was a very, very poorly played were rat.

Yes, it was protecting it's human child, which the party didn't know about at the time. Every seen a feral, animalistic mother of anything not fight intruders in its lair? Not attack immediately or at least make threatening charges? No. Never.

IF it wasn't evil, or didnt have evil intent, THEN the GM should have told him BETTER information on his Detect, like maybe there was latent evil , but he sensed no evil intent.

the spell/sla isn't a hot or cold, there is a great deal of information to be gotten off of it.

Infact if this had been a 1st level pally the were rat had the potential to give him a stinging headache with detect evil.

So if there was something 'special' about this particular were rat (newly afflicted, not yet committed, in search of help, no clear intent, just trying to protect her child) then the detect evil should have been described much differently than "PING"

PING is as PING does. and PING means it meets ALL the necessary justification for "slay me"

Noe if the pally didn't concentrate the hole time and just got an initial read and then attacked, when he KNEW and was INFORMED by the GM that he could have gotten more info but waiting several more seconds to get all the knowledge about the creature, and he said forget it, I pounce?

Sure, there is some poor behavior.

But where did this all happen, I'm suspecting the DM didn't play out the detect evil right, and if he DID and the paladin waited for the full time and got ALL the information, and the result was STILL "ping". Then that can ONLY mean the wererat had clear, pure, immediate, evil intent.

Redemption is NOT anywhere as a requirement for a paladin. this character isn't listed as a 'redeemer' archetype.


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Pendagast wrote:

What makes him 15 HD of EVIL?

his past actions.

If he was 15th level and didn't do evil things, he wouldnt have an evil alignment.

Since when is leveling contingent on alignment? Killing someone in cold blood, for no reason other than because you feel like it is evil. Killing a monster in self defense because it attacked you isn't.

Is there a rule that says NPC's can only gain experience through actions that are along their alignment? An evil guy only gets XP when he murders in cold blood, no such luck if he gets attacked by a dire rat?

Also, what Rynjin said. Alignment is something to apply to a character based on their beliefs, not based on their previous actions. Yes, the two may go hand in hand pretty often, but it's not a definite thing.


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you can't get to high levels without doing something, the manner in which you do that, consistently, sets your alignment. killing monsters isn't required. nor is killing prostitutes in back alleys.

But the artistocrat did something over a period of time to gain his levels, when he was doing those things, he did them in a manner most consistent with alignment X.

That's his alignment.


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Pendagast wrote:
Clearly you are trying to just armchair this, having never had any experience making decisions that might be even slightly difficult.

I'm not even going to touch how asinine and stupid this comment is.

Pendagast wrote:


Can't take prisoners, have no way to control them, or care for them, can't leave him be, he's too dangerous left to your rear or flank.

Can't take prisoners? Why?

He's in the dude's house, there's no enemies around that they haven't dealt with already, and the guy didn't even try to fight back.

If he's such a pushover that the Paladin can nonchalantly cut him down, he could just as easily knock him out, tie him up, and save him for later.

And perhaps my wererat lore is colored by other literature depicting them, but they're generally depicted as the rogueish sneak thieves of the lycanthrope world, not ravenous man killers like were-predators.

As for PING as PING does, I'd hate for your Pally to come across a good Cleric/Inquisitor using that tracking spell that makes them PING as Evil if they're using it to track Good.

Hell, if your Paladin was that bumf!~! stupid the best way for an enemy to get rid of him would be to cast Imbue Aura on old Farmer Johnson and then watch you fall when you chop him down without thinking.

Silver Crusade

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Um, If you'd ran Detect Evil properly in the first place, the paladin wouldn't have sensed the Wererat as being evil, not enough Hit Dice. :-/ Seriously, strip his Paladinhood and then read the chart on page 266 of the Core Rules for future encounters.


Pendagast wrote:

you can't get to high levels without doing something, the manner in which you do that, consistently, sets your alignment. killing monsters isn't required. nor is killing prostitutes in back alleys.

But the artistocrat did something over a period of time to gain his levels, when he was doing those things, he did them in a manner most consistent with alignment X.

That's his alignment.

I guess we'll just disagree on that then, because that doesn't make sense to me.

I see alignment as what a character most falls into line with in their beliefs. That doesn't mean that an Evil character is going to go out and kill people just for the hell of it, nor does it necessarily imply that they've done any such thing in the past.

If a Paladin knows that they have, and knows that they will in the future, then they may be fine with killing them outright. Detect Evil does not tell that though. It tells what their most natural inclination is, but it does not give enough information to justify instant murder on the Paladin's part.


What exactly does chaotic evil mean to you?


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Pendagast wrote:

you can't get to high levels without doing something, the manner in which you do that, consistently, sets your alignment. killing monsters isn't required. nor is killing prostitutes in back alleys.

But the artistocrat did something over a period of time to gain his levels, when he was doing those things, he did them in a manner most consistent with alignment X.

That's his alignment.

Saving innocent lives can be consistent with an evil alignment so long as the evil person makes money off it. I have had evil characters who helped others because it paid well.

In fact, I think an evil character is perfectly consistent with many pathfinder APs because they rarely require personal sacrifice and often provide good monetary rewards. Being evil doesn't mean that you want to hurt others, just that you don't have any moral problems with it. The wererat sounds like a huge coward who wouldn't lift a finger to help others, doesn't make him killworthy for a paladin.

Keep in mind, monsters don' level the same way we do either. A dragon can get to high level simply by aging.


Is a destructive personality. Is often willing to hurt others because it feels good.

Then again, that guy who crucifies cats every Halloween I'd also classify as Chaotic Evil (destruction for destruction's sake? Check.) but I don't think somebody needs to bust into his house and chop him in half with a greatsword in front of his kids.

Also:

Quote:
yes the wererat was lawful evil


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Um... especially in Pathfinder, werecreature alignments aren't set in diamond (being harder that stone) We don't know if this wererat was natural or afflicted. If it was natural then it's alignment CAN change. If it's afflicted, it's harder to change, but it can.

Please, if I am wrong please give me Pathfinder page numbers where it says every single werewolf is chaotic evil and there cannot ever be an exception.

So, that said, if I were the GM the paladin would be on probation at the very least, since the wererat was not threatening and didn't fight back. I've never been a GM who subscribed to the "It's evil, we can kill it" hack and slash mentality of many D&D players.

In the end, that I think is what this debate boils down to. A D&D/Pathfinder game is either "We are heroes, will kill evil stuff. Rawr" or it's "We are heroes, we fight evil but we do so with integrity and honor" You can't have it both ways, especially not with a paladin.


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Rynjin wrote:
Pendagast wrote:
Clearly you are trying to just armchair this, having never had any experience making decisions that might be even slightly difficult.

I'm not even going to touch how asinine and stupid this comment is.

Pendagast wrote:


Can't take prisoners, have no way to control them, or care for them, can't leave him be, he's too dangerous left to your rear or flank.

Can't take prisoners? Why?

He's in the dude's house, there's no enemies around that they haven't dealt with already, and the guy didn't even try to fight back.

If he's such a pushover that the Paladin can nonchalantly cut him down, he could just as easily knock him out, tie him up, and save him for later.

And perhaps my wererat lore is colored by other literature depicting them, but they're generally depicted as the rogueish sneak thieves of the lycanthrope world, not ravenous man killers like were-predators.

As for PING as PING does, I'd hate for your Pally to come across a good Cleric/Inquisitor using that tracking spell that makes them PING as Evil if they're using it to track Good.

Hell, if your Paladin was that bumf!@% stupid the best way for an enemy to get rid of him would be to cast Imbue Aura on old Farmer Johnson and then watch you fall when you chop him down without thinking.

small unit tactics, ever been there? just you and 5 other guys, run into hostiles? On a mission? got something to do. Find someone, something, unintended? Can't just call someone like a cop "come haul this guy off".

What do you do? Put down your weapon, put your hands on your head...then tie the guy up. THEN what? leave him bound to starve, or at the mercy of something else that might do him harm?
IF you have food and water enough for you and your men, how do you care for this guy?
The prisoner needs to be taken care of, managed, controlled. what happens if you get into combat with something else? You need all your people free, not managing a prisoner.

IF you are traveling with a band you can have mercs/retainers handle the prisoner, but this isn't done in "modern" gaming much anymore.

and detect evil DOESNT work like you THINK it does, read it, if the pally concentrates on the guy long enough, your tracking inquisitor is going to have a lot of different information, including lacking evil intent.

Spending several rounds concentrating on detect evil to get the FULL information the power/spell can give you IS thinking about it.

we also do NOt know that this was the were rats house, this is where they encountered the were rat.

IF it was the wererats house, as in a normal home, WHY did the party enter it to begin with.


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AbsolutGrndZer0 wrote:

Um... especially in Pathfinder, werecreature alignments aren't set in diamond (being harder that stone) We don't know if this wererat was natural or afflicted. If it was natural then it's alignment CAN change. If it's afflicted, it's harder to change, but it can.

Please, if I am wrong please give me Pathfinder page numbers where it says every single werewolf is chaotic evil and there cannot ever be an exception.

So, that said, if I were the GM the paladin would be on probation at the very least, since the wererat was not threatening and didn't fight back. I've never been a GM who subscribed to the "It's evil, we can kill it" hack and slash mentality of many D&D players.

In the end, that I think is what this debate boils down to. A D&D/Pathfinder game is either "We are heroes, will kill evil stuff. Rawr" or it's "We are heroes, we fight evil but we do so with integrity and honor" You can't have it both ways, especially not with a paladin.

wererat had a human child. It's not a natural wererat.

it detected as evil. It's not neutral, it's evil

Edit: once more, read detect evil. the wererat detected evil, it must be high enough level or hit dice to have done so, and if he concentrated long enough, would have known if it had evil intent.

The evil intent also needs to be immediate, impending evil, not "oh i think I'll do some evil someday"

so did the paladin pounce after the first six seconds of "i sense evil, GO GO GO!" or did he get the full info, and the DM still told him all the signs were there that this was an evil creature, and intended to do evil.

this whole nonsense about 'integrity and honor' is ridiculous. "I must wait for myself or my friends to be mauled and possibly catch lycanthropy, before we kill any evil monsters"

You don't have to be a naive idiot to be considered 'good and honorable'

the Paladin had tow choices.

Kill it or leave.

What if he left, KNOWING it had evil intent. then what, several others suffered at the hands of an evil monster because the monster asked him to leave and that was the honorable thing to do?


Pendagast wrote:


small unit tactics, ever been there? just you and 5 other guys, run into hostiles? On a mission? got something to do. Find someone, something, unintended? Can't just call someone like a cop "come haul this guy off".

No, I haven't.

But what you, and other asshats like you never seem to understand, is that being in the military is not the only meaningful decision someone has to make in life.

And I don't understand why this is even a point. This is a f~%+ing game. Do you realize that? Or did you forget that wererats weren't real?

Pendagast wrote:


What do you do? Put down your weapon, put your hands on your head...then tie the guy up. THEN what? leave him bound to starve, or at the mercy of something else that might do him harm?

And that's not nearly the same situation. This guy is not a hostile. He's living out in wherever-the-f%%+ with his human buddies you've ALREADY RELEASED AND LET LEAVE THE PLACE, and yet you've chosen to kill this person who didn't even think of fighting back or make any sort of threatening move.

Pendagast wrote:


IF you are traveling with a band you can have mercs/retainers handle the prisoner, but this isn't done in "modern" gaming much anymore.

Oh aye, now it's a game again. Okay.

Pendagast wrote:


and detect evil DOESNT work like you THINK it does, read it, if the pally concentrates on the guy long enough, your tracking inquisitor is going to have a lot of different information, including lacking evil intent.

Spending several rounds concentrating on detect evil to get the FULL information the power/spell can give you IS thinking about it.

Except the Paladin in this scenario did nothing of the sort. He went *Boink* "Is it Evil?" GM said yes, he chopped it in half. End of story.

Like I said, if your Pally is that freakin' stupid, he's not going to hesitate to cut down the Inquisitor when he pings Evil.

Pendagast wrote:


we also do NOt know that this was the were rats house, this is where they encountered the were rat.

IF it was the wererats house, as in a normal home, WHY did the party enter it to begin with.

It's a dungeon of some kind.

And they've already cleared the inhabitants and let all of the other surviving Evil HUMANS run free.


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you obviously can't read. the party freed a lawful good ranger, and some of this rangers other party members happened to be of evil alignment, they freed the entire adventuring party.

The party members who might have been evil aligned COULD have been serving the greater good as the LG rangers traveling companions (possibly adventurers destroying other evil for their own profit and reward) the paladin did not want to team up with them, and as such escorted them out of the dungeon. This is simple, the ranger vouched for his/her companions.

this could have been something like harsk teaming up with seltyiel.

Not the paladins immediate concern.

the were rat however, was actually IN the dungeon. what monsters were they running into? who had imprisoned the other adventuring party? Other were rats? Goblins? what where they fighting and why? there really isn't alot of information.

and the OP never stated HOW LONG the Pally detected evil for, because like i said i suspected, no one, including the GM even bothered to look it up.

Possible scenario:

Pally: I detect evil

Gm: it detects as evil, do you continue to concentrate to get more information?

Pally: no way I attack.

Gm: something tells you it may be prudent to get all the facts.

Pally: Banzai! I roll a 19, thats a crit threat! wheee!

Yes. that situation could be a problem.

But as I've already stated, that's NOT necessarily what happened here, because we don't have ALL the information.

What's a wererat doing in a dungeon full of monsters with it's still human child anyway?

IF the wererat was recently afflicted, this couldnt possbily be a place the former human normally resided, Why would it take it's human child here willingly? I mean it's lawful evil and all, but doesn't mean it doesn't want to protect it's child. Although it's odd that the kid is still unharmed. the lycanthrope has a whole month of going into animal form and forgetting who it is before it turns into hybrid or human form again. Where was the child during all of this?

What became of the human child, now that the party knows of it?

Is it of speaking age? has it told anyone anything? whats the full story.


Pendagast wrote:
What exactly does chaotic evil mean to you?

No problem hurting others, and possibly quite happy to do so. Violent/destructive tendencies and little regard for laws (obviously).

Might they inflict violence on others? Sure. Chaotic people tend to do what they want, and if they like hurting others, then they may indeed act on it.

Why exactly are you throwing Chaotic in there though? Paladins have no Detect Chaos ability. When someone pings evil, you don't know if that's CE, NE, or LE.

What do NE and LE mean to you? Do you think they immediately need to be destroyed anytime you see one? A neutral evil character may have violent tendencies. Maybe they enjoy hurting/killing things. But they know that killing civilized creatures is not really going to make most people happy, so they take up hunting or some other pastime. Join up with an adventuring party and slay some monsters that are terrorizing some place.

Look at that, that was a good deed, and while it was performed selfishly, doesn't change the fact that everyone's happier. Does this guy deserve to get smited?

And remember, all a Paladin sees is Evil. If you line up 10 people in a row, with a mix of CE, NE, and LE, as well as plenty of different motivations and backgrounds, the Paladin sees the same thing in all of them. Does that mean they kill all of them based on that?

Pendagast wrote:
The party members who might have been evil aligned COULD have been serving the greater good as the LG rangers traveling companions (possibly adventurers destroying other evil for their own profit and reward) the paladin did not want to team up with them, and as such escorted them out of the dungeon. This is simple, the ranger vouched for his/her companions.

Okay, this just makes me that much more confused about your ruling here.

The wererat detects evil. Kill it.
These guys detect evil, but there's a good guy there too. Don't kill them.

Vouching for those clearly evil guys is good enough to let them go, but otherwise anything that pings clearly evil needs to die. This doesn't seem terribly inconsistent?

If you're fine with paladins killing anything that shows up as evil, and in fact, think it is perfectly acceptable for them to do so, then they absolutely should have slaughtered the evil guys just as fast. They were evil. By the logic applied to the wererat, that means that they are too likely to do evil things in the future, and need to be killed. That's not generally the way Paladins are supposed to operate in my opinion, but it should at least be consistent.

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