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good vs good


Gamer Talk


can good aligned people fight other good aligned people and still remain,can they kill them? say they are on different sides of a war.


Yes.

There are many reasons beyond simple morality that characters may fight. It's easily possible for good people to end up on opposite sides of a battlefield.

Loyalty to opposing nations, for instance.


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Here follows an excerpt from Dragon #287, page 40 “What Celestials Want”:

Spoiler:

THE GREATEST GOOD FOR THE GREATEST NUMBER: The best course of action does the least damage to the largest number of people. Good is what makes the most people safe from harm. Personal freedoms and desires are less important than those of the larger group. This philosophy is rare among chaotically aligned celestials as they put too much emphasis on personal freedoms, but many other celestials share this point of view.
I call this the Spock Philosophy: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”

THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS: Acts of treachery, lying, and other morally suspect actions are acceptable if such small evils will bring about a greater good. After all, it matters more who wins the war than who died during the fighting. Celestials with this outlook tend to be frowned upon by the other celestials because it is a philosophy that can cause a lot of trouble. However, all celestials exemplify goodness, so they also tend to trust one another to make the right decisions.
To me, it's quite simply The Machiavellian

THE MEANS JUSTIFY THE END: If you acted with good intentions the entire time, it's fine if the end result benefits you more than it does others. Because you do good, what aids you will be a boon to the rest of the world. This self-centered view is surprisingly common among the more powerful celestials. Creatures like solars and planetars often lack humility and consider their actions and goals more important than those of others.
Good intentions? Road to Hell, anyone?

OMNIBENEVOLENCE: All creatures, even the most hideously evil, desrve the chance to make amends for past misdeeds and join the side of the light. Of course you must fight evil, but if there is a chance an evil creature could be redeemed, you must show mercy. A celestial with this outlook is always willing to give foes the benefit of the doubt if they promise to reform, no matter how many times the celestial has been betrayed.
Lawful Stupid

PACIFISM: No one should commit any act that harms another, and the only viable response to such acts is love and forgiveness. Love will show wrong-doers the error of their ways and put them on the path of light. This point of view is rare among celestials. They have lvied too long in the face of great evil to turn the other cheek, but the rare celestial that takes up this ideal can often gather horders of followers.
Worked for Ghandi, right?

SCOURGE OF EVIL: Good beings exist to combat evil in all its forms. Keeping your sword sheathed in the face of evil is tantamount to committing evil yourself. Many celestials share this philosophy. They believe that it is their duty to stamp out evil in all its forms. Sometimes they are a little overzealous, but other celestials consider that to be evidence of their desire to do good.
Ummmm, like every PC hero out there.

Yes, it is about celestials, but I think it does a good job of showing varying sides of Good and it should be readily apparent how these differing views could come into conflict.


It's quite easy to create situations where Lawful Good and Chaotic Good creatures or organisations could come to blows.

For example, a lawful good cleric of abadar may see indentured servitude as a solution to people who default on debts to be not only acceptable, but actually just (especially if the criminal defaulted due to his own actions, such as excessive gambling). It isn't hard to picture a chaotic good rogue who sees this as little better than state-sponsored slavery and would fight to protect the freedom of those individuals.

There's also no reason for either side to know, necessarily, that the other side of the debate is 'good' or has good intentions. For all the cleric knows, the rogue is a troublemaker and criminal who is trying to break fellow gang members out of what he sees as a just recompense. The rogue sees an inflexible member of an infamously hard-line clergy who would be more likely to arrest him on the spot than actually seek some compromise. Both characters, after trying the soft approach, may come to the very regrettable conclusion that the other side must be stopped, even if it means death. Neither are wrong, necessarily.

Outsiders can be a little more difficult to justify at face value.. but if you remember that, for example, azatas vs archons take these kind of alignment differences to the absolute extreme, you can easily invent other situations where the two might fight. At the very least, the two groups are covertly antagonistic towards each other in a 'cold war' sense, where they may manipulate different groups of mortals towards CG or LG goals. These groups may then clash unavoidably if it is a no-compromise situation.


But what if this came to killing could they still not have alignment reprucusions.


If both sides are measurably Good (that is, both sides register on a detect good spell), I imagine the two sides would be much more likely to use diplomacy and compromise than in our more nebulous world. But "much more likely" doesn't mean it'll never happen.


DnD, and by extension pathfinder, uses a rather nebulous 'gygaxian' code of alignment as standard, where killing isn't necessarily an evil act. If the good aligned characters resorted to killing and violence without attempting any form of diplomacy or compromise, you could imagine that would warrant a bit more 'neutrality' in their goodness.... but not every 'good' character is a paragon of virtue, else we wouldn't have many good adventurers would we!

If the fight is regrettable but necessary given a polarising conflict in a core belief, as I have given an example of above, I don't see why either party would suffer alignment repercussions. Both is attempting to do good, and is objectively doing good, within the bounds of their alignments.

Is this about a specific circumstance that came up in your game, wabbitking? If you gave us some context it might help.

*edit*

Also, it's probably not a good idea to think too carefully about how a high fantasy world warps real world moral logic. Alignment and morality fall apart when you take the consequences of the PF magic and belief system to the fullest extent.


During a war good characters would be killing good characters all the time. A standard army would be made up of people of all different alignments and on the battlefield you wouldn't distinguish a soldier of one alignment from the other. Its not like all the good-aligned soldiers on both sides have shining halos floating over their heads.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think it depends on the style and sensibilities your game/setting operates on. If you're running a more "Paladin and Princesses" type game that is black and white and very idealistic (as judged by the modern world), then you'll be less inclined for good vs. good.

If your world is more nebulous, then you'll be more inclined. Furthermore, if your world is closer in social norms to our medieval world than our modern world, it will be a more rough-and-tumble, less secure place where violence against unknown hostiles is more of a fact of life. Duels/conflict over things like chivalry and honor will probably be more of a thing here than if the gameworld operated more on modern civilized values.

Of course, in regard to either situation, a good character might likely try to resolve things peacefully given the opportunity. (Even when honor is threatened, the offended character might give the offender the opportunity to apologize/take back his comment and losing a little public face rather than his life.)

Edit: Oh, in areas of war, war is such a large issue that it can engulf and overwhelm matters of personal honor or goodness. Sometimes well-intentioned nations will clash over resources/ideology that might only allow for one to be the victor. In cases like these, choosing the "good" side can be almost impossible. In such situations, alignment can be just as much about how you pursue the choices you make (avoiding needless bloodshed, taking care of noncombatants, etc.) and your intentions as what your choices are.


Opposing ideologies and philosophies of good. King Richard saw himself as good and fighting for God. Saladin saw himself as good and fighting for God. They did eventually come to a peace agreement but fought many battles against each other before that. Good characters who have rigid ideologies and are not open to other ideas often come into conflict. Of course in the real world Good and Evil are morally relativistic and not absolute. For instance the Holy Inquisition sees itself as Good while a protestant on the wrack might see it as Evil. In our fantasy worlds it is easier to have an absolute "good" and an absolute "Evil". But it doesn't have to be that way. Even Good Gods can disagree and as long as you follow your Gods ideology you would be considered "Good" by your God.

If Abadar see's the building of a mighty merchant fleet to serve the greater good of civilization his followers might run into conflict with the followers of Ketephys who protect the trees being cut down to build the fleet. Their opposition is not because one is lawful and one is chaotic it's because of the difference between what each of them sees as Good, righteous, worthy.

It's true to say that these folks are more likely to solve their problems with diplomacy than evil characters but strongly held ideologies can be powerful motivators. If the followers of Abadar have already cut down several acres of "sacred" forest you will also have motivators like outrage and horror and injustice to deal with. For Abadar the outrage and injustice might be standing in the way of progress. How dare those backward Elves delay the construction of my fleet and attack unarmed lumber jacks!


Of course Detect Good and Evil would be great in real life. It would have solved many problems in my life right up front. I probably would have had two fewer marriages. It makes the subjective nature of good and evil more difficult in the game world though because you cast a spell and get a yes or no answer. I went through a phase during the 3.5 era of answering that spell with more description often listing virtues or vices. Detect evil: "You know that the man you see before you has greed in his heart and hatred." Detect Good: "The woman standing before you is both virtuous and chaste. She is both patient and kind." That worked pretty well for avoiding a yes/no response to detection spells. If they had cleric levels or other levels that provided an "Aura of Evil" or "Aura of Good" I would just say absolutely evil or good.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Good char fighting to save the life of a possessed love one vs good char fighting to end the life of the posessing being.

MORTAL KOMBAT! tudududududududududu ...


It used to be said that in war both sides are the good guys.

The Exchange

Lapsing from good into neutral is a pretty common theme in war stories of any era. Good-aligned characters trying to remain so may seek regular atonement, try to avoid collateral damage, and otherwise act in alignment, but there's little question that being at war makes goodness difficult. As others have observed, violence gets a general pass in PF not because it's moral, but because it's darn hard to design a fantasy game of high adventure in which life isn't (relatively) cheap. If it helps, think of it as a Knights of the Round Table-style morality, in which loyalty, charity, hospitality and courtesy exist cheek-by-jowl with a tendency to fight total strangers to the death for pretty flimsy reasons. (I'm simplifying, of course, but prying too deeply into their motives leads eventually to a debate on medieval Christianity. Do not want!)

A good-vs.-good war, in my campaigns, would be marked by repeated failures of diplomacy, culminating in struggles in which surrender is accepted, the wounded of both sides are attended to, all the traditions ('laws') of honorable combat are observed, etc. The classic fantasy trope is to have an evil force manipulating both sides, because that provides a simple solution to a complex problem; but a war that genuinely was a tragic misunderstanding or a zero-sum conflict of interest can make the campaign world more complex. And that sort of distrust between good-aligned nations can easily bear fruit later on, when PCs have to act against a real evil force because the forces of good are divided, etc. etc.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Much as democracies don't war against each other in the real world, I really don't see good-aligned nations warring against each other in a fantasy world.

Wars are almost always fought over some sort of scarce resource. While it's certainly possible for two good-aligned nations to have frosty relations, I just don't see a good-aligned nation being the aggressor state that leads to outright belligerence. Diplomacy will always win the day between competing good-aligned states.

Unless, of course, the leaders of one or both of the competing states have bad intelligence or are being swayed by a traitorous adviser, poisoning the leader's ear. That could be an excellent plot for a story!


Haladir wrote:
Much as democracies don't war against each other in the real world, I really don't see good-aligned nations warring against each other in a fantasy world.

The ancient democracies went to war against each other. The ancient Athenians even invaded one island democracy and enslaved the entire population (the men were even rounded up and castrated and sold as eunuchs). So even good democracies can go bad.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
wabbitking wrote:
can good aligned people fight other good aligned people and still remain,can they kill them? say they are on different sides of a war.

Yes. As stated, good aligned soldiers will likely be members of both armies; it's much less likely for (true) good societies to go to war against each other, but not completely unheard of (i.e., over the law-chaos conflict of ways and means).

However, good aligned characters will follow the "rules of war" and allow their enemies to surrender (and treat them decently as POWs), not attack civilians (i.e., no looting/pillaging of a town after the fight), etc. If the "good" character is killing enemies after they surrender or are incapacitated (i.e., unconscious or otherwise unable to fight), or otherwise acting in a "non-good" fashion, then (IMO) they may be subject to an alignment shift (depending on how often/severe the action(s) is/are).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jeven wrote:
Haladir wrote:
Much as democracies don't war against each other in the real world, I really don't see good-aligned nations warring against each other in a fantasy world.
The ancient democracies went to war against each other. The ancient Athenians even invaded one island democracy and enslaved the entire population (the men were even rounded up and castrated and sold as eunuchs). So even good democracies can go bad.

Hellenic Athens was indeed a democracy, but was unique among Greek city-states in that regard. I assume you're referncing the Peloponnesian War. Sparta had some democratic forms in place, but in reality its government was a de facto military dictatorship. Even if I were to grant you the Peloponnesian War as a war between democracies (which I don't), real-world democracies haven't gone to war against each other in over 2500 years.

c.f. Never At War by Spencer Weart, (c) 1998 Yale University Press.

(It's been a while since I've read that book. IIRC, I think he got a few specifics wrong, but I found his central argument very strong. Not bad for a physicist writing about history/sociology/political theory.)

Silver Crusade

I'm wrestling with this in our current Kingmaker campaign. My character is the Baron of our burgeoning Kingdom, and is a Paladin of Iomedae. He's been tasked with a mission to carve out a new crusader state to provide a nation away from the front lines of the two major crusades while close enough to provide reinforcements and support. Short term his goal is to bring the entire greenbelt under one banner, but I've been considering if he shouldn't be thinking about expanding into some of the more chaotic neutral or evil nations to expand his power base and further the work of the crusade.

As I thought about this, I asked myself: "Can a LG Paladin, also be a conqueror?"

I'm not sure, but I'm going to continue to deal with it with this character.


Haladir wrote:

Hellenic Athens was indeed a democracy, but was unique among Greek city-states in that regard. I assume you're referncing the Peloponnesian War. Sparta had some democratic forms in place, but in reality its government was a de facto military dictatorship. Even if I were to grant you the Peloponnesian War as a war between democracies (which I don't), real-world democracies haven't gone to war against each other in over 2500 years.

c.f. Never At War by Spencer Weart, (c) 1998 Yale University Press.

(It's been a while since I've read that book. IIRC, I think he got a few specifics wrong, but I found his central argument very strong. Not bad for a physicist writing about history/sociology/political theory.)

Yes, that's the war. I believe the island of Melos was a democracy since decisions were made by a people's assembly. Athens invaded it when it refused to join their empire, even though it was neutral in their war with Sparta.


As a chaotic good character I killed my fellow party member, a Paladin. To this day, I argue with the other player that no alignment shift would have been necessary if the campaign continued - it died that night with over half the party. An argument erupted (in character) over whether it was right to release an evil entity to save a nation and help us fight another evil entity. The party member from that nation started implementing the plan to save his people, and the Paladin attacked him. I responded to the Paladin's violence in kind.

The Paladin was very much a Scourge of Evil character - there was no negotiation, only execution if they failed to immediately repent. I was Ends Justify the Means, and was trying to get demonic help to kill my primary enemy, who was successfully taking over the world. Different origin stories create different priorities and those priorities can come into conflict. Not everything can be resolved in a manner satisfactory to everyone.

The Exchange

P33J wrote:

...I asked myself: "Can a LG Paladin, also be a conqueror?"

Depends who's being conquered, generally. In general I'd see a LG ruler as preferring to forge confederacies (relying on longer-term economic and cultural pressures to encourage the other partners to willingly transform from allies to citizens.) But in the (not terribly uncommon) case of corrupt rulers reigning over oppressed citizens, conquest - in spite of the near-certainty that a few of the oppressed citizens will die in the battle- may be seen as the only way to clean things up. Coming up with tactics to minimize the bloodshed is honestly going to be more interesting for the players than slaughtering a bunch of serfs anyway.


Example of Good vs Good: During a drought, two farming families fight over a well that can only provide enough to save one of the family's livelihoods. Both families are good, neither deserve their fate, but only one can use the well if either are to survive.

Such a situation could very well lead to blows and even casualties, as who would sacrifice their own family so another's might live?

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