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Why is undead considered evil?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

It's not bias on my part, it's how those spells function. Waters of Lamashtu create unholy water, that's why it should be Evil, same as Skeletom Crew creating Undead like Create Undead. Grim Stalker has a part of it function similar to another part of another spell. That there combined with the rest of the spell's abilities is enough disparance to not make it Evil I believe. Unlike Waters of Lamashtu or Skeleton Crew, Grim Stalker isn't actually creating anything Evil.

The rules do not say what you want them to say. You keep claiming by fact, by RAW, by Rules As Written, that spells you believe are Evil are always inherently Evil. These are all assertions made by you without any actual RAW to back your claim.

By comparing them to other spells I've disputed all the spells you've brought up, some are blatant oversights, and others just aren't Evil even though you want them to be. You claim Grim Stalker and Symbol of Death and [Pain] spells are inherently Evil. You claim "fact" and "by RAW", actually provide the facts. Provide the RAW. I have in fact done so for my statements, providing the excerpt from Horror Adventures.

All you're going off of are your wants and assertions, not facts and RAW. Actually point to the RAW that backs up your assertions. Actually point to something in the books that backs up your claim that a spell can be inherently and wholly Evil and not have the [Evil] outside of a typo.

Silver Crusade

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Ckorik wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:

I think some people are arguing what should have been marked as evil, and others are going only by what the book says.

By the rules if it is tagged as evil then it's evil. However some things such as making golems by trapping Elementals should be evil, while the protection from alignment spells should not have alignment tags.

To be fair - my only beef is that you can assume a spell is morally ok if it's not tagged [Evil] - I don't believe that's the intent of the flag, and I think it's incorrect to assume that a spell that lacks the [Evil] tag is safe to cast - regardless of the intent.

As any 'paladin in a box' thread will show you - people have strong and varied opinions on morality and what is 'good' and what is 'evil'. With some spells (like your Golem example) simply how you were taught may cause you to say 'evil 100% of the time' or 'wait... there is a problem with this?'.

I will point out - that prior to Horror Adventures this wasn't much of an issue - because it was totally left up to the GM. Why they decided to take what (arguably) is the single most contentious thing about playing a paladin and codify it so that as few as three spells could change your alignment from good to evil (or vice versa) is beyond me - apparently the forums needed more alignment angst.

Because not everyone played under the mindset that having an [alignmnet] tag on a spell was only for the purpose of keeping a Cleric form casting them but that they were in fact aligned acts if you chose to cast those spells. I and everyone I know had always played DnD and then later Pathfinder with that knowledge.


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Rysky wrote:
Talonhawke wrote:
So just pondering if there was a spell created that merely powered the corpse in a golem like manner then we would be good to go with alignment issues.
Well we have Flesh, Carrion, and Corpses golems. They're powered by elemental spirits.

Enslaving an ifrit = evil.

Enslaving his fire elemental granddad = a-okay.

Silver Crusade

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Ventnor wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Talonhawke wrote:
So just pondering if there was a spell created that merely powered the corpse in a golem like manner then we would be good to go with alignment issues.
Well we have Flesh, Carrion, and Corpses golems. They're powered by elemental spirits.

Enslaving an ifrit = evil.

Enslaving his fire elemental granddad = a-okay.

I'm not the most up to date on how golems work but are you explicitly forcing an elemental spirit into one or can you get them to agree to do it or are they non sapient spirits?


Rysky wrote:
Because not everyone played under the mindset that having an [alignmnet] tag on a spell was only for the purpose of keeping a Cleric form casting them but that they were in fact aligned acts if you chose to cast those spells. I and everyone I know had always played DnD and then later Pathfinder with that knowledge.

No one I know ever played that way - then again over half of my time playing has been before they had alignment tags.

Quote:
By comparing them to other spells I've disputed all the spells you've brought up, some are blatant oversights, and others just aren't Evil even though you want them to be. You claim Grim Stalker and Symbol of Death and [Pain] spells are inherently Evil. You claim "fact" and "by RAW", actually provide the facts. Provide the RAW. I have in fact done so for my statements, providing the excerpt from Horror Adventures.

No - what I did was give a long string of examples of questionable spells so that we could agree on some.

We do agree on some - it's just you throw them out as if they don't matter. I showed you spells you agree should be evil - they aren't - the rules say they aren't - so if (for the sake of argument) someone at your table cast skeleton crew - and you run the game by RAW - then they didn't commit an evil act. You keep trying to have me prove a negative - that's not possible. My entire point was that a spell can be an evil act to cast without being [Evil]. The actual printed rules for this (see spell design on the PRD - I've posted the rules previously) do not use morality as a definition for why a spell gets tagged [Evil].

That's the entire point.

If a spell is morally evil to cast - and that's the only thing bad about it - then the design guidelines do not suggest an [Evil] tag. My 'fact' on Grim Stalker is your own justification for Waters of Lamashtu - that if a spell mimics another spell that is [evil] then it should be [evil]. If I sit down to a PFS table and cast skeleton crew the GM can't tag me as evil. That's the 'rules as written'.

If you sit down at *any other table* and cast skeleton crew - (here is my point...) and the GM considers any use of the spell evil - there is no rule you can run to that says use of that spell is safe. There are many spells like this - that could be (justifiably) considered evil.

Silver Crusade

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It always seemed like common sense to me, if you see something with the word "EVIL" stamped on it you tend to think it's, ya'know, Evil.

You provided a LARGE list of spells, a few of them I agreed are typos and should have the [Evil] tag. Should. But me wanting them to have it is just my assertion, not RAW. That's the disconnect here.

If I ran things strictly by RAW rather than RAI than someone casting Skeleton Crew would not be committing an Evil act since until it is fixed to include the [Evil] tag it is not inherently Evil just for the sake of casting. By Rules As Written it is flat out impossible for a spell cast into a vacuum and be an Evil act if it doesn't have the [Evil] tag. The GM can declare it to be an Evil act, but that is their assertion.

Waters of Lamashtu creates an evil item, unholy water. That is why it is Evil.

Grim Stalker calls on a spirit to harass someone, but the spirit it calls forth is Neutral. It functions as per Nightmare's rules but it is not Nightmare (my guess to save on wordcount considering all the other stuff it does). Waters of Lamashtu functions exactly as Curse Water and creates Unholy Water exactly as Curse Water. That's the difference.

Just because one spell mimics the mechanical effects of another does not mean it should automatically have the same alignment, that's usually the whole point of having similar effects, so that other people will actually use them. If it copies the entire outcome then that is one thing (Waters of Lamashtu) but that is where Grim Stalker defers, evolving into Phantasmal Killer, and, if manifested, a Neutral Outsider, not an Evil one. It works of spirits of ill omen, not those of the dead. It's the manifestation of a curse. Nothing more.

"If I sit down to a PFS table and cast skeleton crew the GM can't tag me as evil. That's the 'rules as written'."

Yep.

"If you sit down at *any other table* and cast skeleton crew - (here is my point...) and the GM considers any use of the spell evil - there is no rule you can run to that says use of that spell is safe."

And there is no rule you can run to that says it isn't. If the GM declares Skeleton Crew an Evil act to cast then it is their right to do so as GM, but it is an Assertion, not RAW. Skeleton Crew and the few other spells you brought up I think should have the [Evil] tag, but that is just my assertion, that pales though to the numerous other spells that you brought up that you think should be Evil but are not and should not. Carrion Compass, Grim Stalker, Slave to Sin, Symbol of Death, Wine to Blood, etc. these are not Evil spells, neither by RAW nor RAI.


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Ckorik wrote:
I will point out - that prior to Horror Adventures this wasn't much of an issue - because it was totally left up to the GM. Why they decided to take what (arguably) is the single most contentious thing about playing a paladin and codify it so that as few as three spells could change your alignment from good to evil (or vice versa) is beyond me - apparently the forums needed more alignment angst.

FWIW, that sidebar still explicitly leaves it up the the DM.

I've been puzzled since it came out that people seem to treat the guidelines regarding spells with alignment tags as if they're qualitatively the same as "Rolling higher than the opponent's AC is a hit" or similar.

Quite apart from it being just a sidebar. That discussion seems like an obviously different kind of rule to me - guidelines for how the DM might adjudicate a typical example with no discussion as to what constitutes "typical". Other rules are far less qualified and far more prescriptive.


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Steve Geddes wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
I will point out - that prior to Horror Adventures this wasn't much of an issue - because it was totally left up to the GM. Why they decided to take what (arguably) is the single most contentious thing about playing a paladin and codify it so that as few as three spells could change your alignment from good to evil (or vice versa) is beyond me - apparently the forums needed more alignment angst.

FWIW, that sidebar still explicitly leaves it up the the DM.

I've been puzzled since it came out that people seem to treat the guidelines regarding spells with alignment tags as if they're qualitatively the same as "Rolling higher than the opponent's AC is a hit" or similar.

Quite apart from it being just a sidebar. That discussion seems like an obviously different kind of rule to me - guidelines for how the DM might adjudicate a typical example with no discussion as to what constitutes "typical". Other rules are far less qualified and far more prescriptive.

I would guess because only two classes use alignment in any kind of hard capacity - clerics with spell restrictions and paladins. The core rulebook goes on to say:

Quote:
There's no hard and fast mechanic by which you can measure alignment—unlike hit points or skill ranks or Armor Class, alignment is solely a label the GM controls.

Giving a hard mechanic (and I apologize for disagreeing the when you search for this rule in the PRD it's not listed as a sidebar or optional) of cast three aligned spells and you change alignment seems to radically change the game from the above principle. GM's (in my experience anyway) have always been pretty lenient about forcing alignment change outside of a cursed magic item. When the expectations of the game change it creates turmoil.


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Ckorik wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
I will point out - that prior to Horror Adventures this wasn't much of an issue - because it was totally left up to the GM. Why they decided to take what (arguably) is the single most contentious thing about playing a paladin and codify it so that as few as three spells could change your alignment from good to evil (or vice versa) is beyond me - apparently the forums needed more alignment angst.

FWIW, that sidebar still explicitly leaves it up the the DM.

I've been puzzled since it came out that people seem to treat the guidelines regarding spells with alignment tags as if they're qualitatively the same as "Rolling higher than the opponent's AC is a hit" or similar.

Quite apart from it being just a sidebar. That discussion seems like an obviously different kind of rule to me - guidelines for how the DM might adjudicate a typical example with no discussion as to what constitutes "typical". Other rules are far less qualified and far more prescriptive.

I would guess because only two classes use alignment in any kind of hard capacity - clerics with spell restrictions and paladins. The core rulebook goes on to say:

Quote:
There's no hard and fast mechanic by which you can measure alignment—unlike hit points or skill ranks or Armor Class, alignment is solely a label the GM controls.
Giving a hard mechanic (and I apologize for disagreeing the when you search for this rule in the PRD it's not listed as a sidebar or optional) of cast three aligned spells and you change alignment seems to radically change the game from the above principle. GM's (in my experience anyway) have always been pretty lenient about forcing alignment change outside of a cursed magic item. When the expectations of the game change it creates turmoil.

I don't fully understand your last point, but what I was saying is that I dont think the expectations of the game have changed.

The discussion on the forums about that passage has generally been as if three castings of protection from evil is sufficient to change your alignment but I think if one reads the passage in question that advice is pretty heavily qualified (whether that carries over to the PRD isn't relevant in my view - I think of the PRD as a resource for accessing the rules not the source of the rules themselves).

When Horror Adventures came out, nothing changed in terms of alignment being strictly a label the DM controls - there was guidance provided for "typical" castings of spells with alignment tags, but no discussion about what constitutes typical. I think that passage was pretty clearly advice for the DM, not a hard-and-fast rule.


Steve Geddes wrote:
When Horror Adventures came out, nothing changed in terms of alignment being strictly a label the DM controls - there was guidance provided for "typical" castings of spells with alignment tags, but no discussion about what constitutes typical. I think that passage was pretty clearly advice for the DM, not a hard-and-fast rule.

Trying to clarify - I think because the PRD doesn't list it as an optional rule (first) and that people take these kinds of things in a core rulebook (what horror adventures is) as much stronger than say unchained (which is by design all optional).

These two things result in people feeling that areas of the game that were not mechanically tied to alignment - now are.

I'm looking at the rulebook directly now - and this passage is not presented as an optional rule - the fact that the GM is the final word on any game matter is repeated throughout the rules constantly but doesn't get used as an excuse as to why concerns are unfounded in other discussions - and the passage in the rulebook says 'typically' meaning that it is presented as the default rule for a GM to use prior to deviation.

This doesn't seem like an optional rule - it seems like a rule that requires the GM to change if they don't like it. I think 'GM fiat' is a given for any rule and is often repeated in the rulebooks - but if we wanted a game based on 'GM fiat' we'd all play another game - Pathfinder is rules heavy - players like that - and in general want less table variation - all this means a blob of rules like this will upset people.

After typing all this out I feel like the phrase 'if you don't like it don't use it' is a nice suggestion but not an answer to any rules related concerns - even if it may be good advice at any table.

Sovereign Court

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Ckorik wrote:
This doesn't seem like an optional rule - it seems like a rule that requires the GM to change if they don't like it. I think 'GM fiat' is a given for any rule and is often repeated in the rulebooks - but if we wanted a game based on 'GM fiat' we'd all play another game - Pathfinder is rules heavy - players like that - and in general want less table variation - all this means a blob of rules like this will upset people.

The number suggested as 'typical' in the alignment sidebar in Horror Adventures is neither optional nor a rule. The actual rule hasn't changed. The GM decides. Informing the players and GM what is 'typical' merely provides a baseline expectation to work from.

Informing players that using abilities labeled as 'Evil' is actually evil is about as necessary as putting "Caution: Hot" on coffee cups. That is to say, apparently necessary for some groups of people.

Silver Crusade

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KingOfAnything wrote:
Informing players that using abilities labeled as 'Evil' is actually evil is about as necessary as putting "Caution: Hot" on coffee cups. That is to say, apparently necessary for some groups of people.

As with everything, it's a matter of degrees. No, you probably don't need a warning on coffee if it's served at drinking temperature, but if they're serving it 190° (which is hot enough to cause 3rd degree burns) and spilling it on yourself results in skin grafts, thousands of dollars in medical bills, and partial disability for years...yeah, probably needs a label.

Same goes for evil spells. If you're a class that doesn't have immediate fallout from an evil spell (e.g. pretty much anyone other than Paladins), you probably should be given solid indication as to how much casting this spell will hurt you.

EDUT: Corrected typos


Ckorik wrote:
Trying to clarify - I think because the PRD doesn't list it as an optional rule (first) and that people take these kinds of things in a core rulebook (what horror adventures is) as much stronger than say unchained (which is by design all optional).

Which is funny because I leterally use NO rules from Horrors Adventures... I haven't even read the thing... the horror genre is not the kind of things we like at our table...

And yet from the Unchained book we use : The Background Skills, Artistry and Lore Skills, Skills Unlock, Stamina and Combzt Tricks, Wounds Treshold, Poison and Disease, Revised Action Economy... :D

My players coming from Warhammer first ed. were not at ease with everyone having a very define alignment, everything being so "clear" wxith detect algnment etc. So I have looked for some rules to please them and found The Customizable Alignment Chart
With this there's a center circle where alignment are "Neutral", as not being detected by detect alignment other than "Neutral"... If you're not strongly attached to your Alignment your "Neutral" (while still in your algnment) that's where class who got a strong tie to their algnment begin to "know" something is wrong with their tie the their algnment... And can do something about it before it go wrong... ;)


Loengrin wrote:

Which is funny because I leterally use NO rules from Horrors Adventures... I haven't even read the thing... the horror genre is not the kind of things we like at our table...

Sure. I don't get your point however, all the hardcover rulebooks are considered CORE and RAW. They all sell as PDFs for 9.99 (to support official rules being easy to get) and they all end up on the PRD.

Anyone can use any rule - that's not in question - but if you ask a question on the rules form about evil spells the only official answer you are going to get is the exact line about 3 evil spells changing your alignment - because it's the only official rule we have.

KingOfAnything wrote:

The number suggested as 'typical' in the alignment sidebar in Horror Adventures is neither optional nor a rule. The actual rule hasn't changed. The GM decides. Informing the players and GM what is 'typical' merely provides a baseline expectation to work from.

Core Rulebook Page nine:

Quote:


The rules in this book are here to help you breathe life into
your characters and the world they explore. While they are
designed to make your game easy and exciting, you might
find that some of them do not suit the style of play that your
gaming group enjoys. Remember that these rules are yours.
You can change them to fit your needs.

What makes this rule so special that the same statement that applies to the entire system gets trotted out as some reason why people can't discuss this rule as bad?


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Ckorik wrote:

Core Rulebook Page nine:

Quote:


The rules in this book are here to help you breathe life into
your characters and the world they explore. While they are
designed to make your game easy and exciting, you might
find that some of them do not suit the style of play that your
gaming group enjoys. Remember that these rules are yours.
You can change them to fit your needs.
What makes this rule so special that the same statement that applies to the entire system gets trotted out as some reason why people can't discuss this rule as bad?

To me, it's the explicit statement within the body of the rules (without appeal to some general 'change-what-you-don't-like' principle).

Even if page nine of the CRB said "You can't change any of these rules, no matter what you think of them - there is only one true way to play Pathfinder." the Horror Adventures sidebar and the CRB rules on alignment would mean that the DM decides how a player's alignment changes after casting aligned spells.

Can you think of another rules element (other than alignment) where the body of the rules itself explicitly says it's up to the DM?

I realise that we can change anything we don't like - my argument is that alignment rules are explicitly left to DM fiat according to the rules as written. I think it's a qualitatively different section of the rules from everything else (though I'd be curious to hear if there are other areas where DM-fiat is hardcoded into the rules).

You made the point a bit upthread that:

"...if we wanted a game based on 'GM fiat' we'd all play another game - Pathfinder is rules heavy - players like that - and in general want less table variation..."

and although I think that's true for much of the community, I don't think it's what has been aimed for, in the specific case of alignment.


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I don't see how "there are lots of rules" makes the game any less based on "GM fiat". All the rules are optional rules and in any case likely require interpretation to be used even if you're not choosing to ignore them (Imagine any sticky issue from the rules forum coming up in the actual play of a game, say.) To me, "there are very few rules and their interactions are clear" would seem to be more in line with "the GM doesn't need to do much."

"Let's completely ignore all rules regarding alignment and use our collective understanding of alignment instead" shouldn't be an especially hard sell at most tables. You're kind of doing this anyway when you pretend to know precisely what "Lawful" or "Chaotic" mean, IMO.

Sovereign Court

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More information is a good thing!

If players went into a game thinking 50 spells to Evil and the GM goes in thinking 1, there is going to be some conflict at the table. Before, all you could do was argue and it would be up to the GM to have a final say. Now both players and GMs have a number to point to and say "Your expectations are atypical." Two/three is good enough for most tables, and now GMs know they are deviating and by how much when they make their decisions.

The only thing adding a number does is make table disagreements about alignment easier to handle.


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KingOfAnything wrote:
The only thing adding a number does is make table disagreements about alignment easier to handle.

I don't think it does that because it doesn't really answer the important questions. Without knowing what "typically" means, the debates about alignment haven't been resolved at all, imo - merely shifted.

Can a lich spam protection from evil a few times specifically as a buff to protect themselves from Paladins? (The motivation being that they can continue to do vile deeds unpunished).

I think that strategy wouldn't work (because I don't think that's a 'typical' use of protection from evil) but I could easily imagine people disagreeing. It's still up to the DM, just as Horror Adventures and the CRB say it is.

Silver Crusade

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My problem isn't so much that evil spells turn you evil. It's more that taking a fairly abstract concept like alignment and putting numbers to it turns the game into morality ping-pong. "Oh, I've summoned two demons this week, better summon two archons to balance it out." Or worse, casting good spells to offset actual evil deeds. It's just bad policy.

Liberty's Edge

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Isonaroc wrote:
My problem isn't so much that evil spells turn you evil. It's more that taking a fairly abstract concept like alignment and putting numbers to it turns the game into morality ping-pong. "Oh, I've summoned two demons this week, better summon two archons to balance it out." Or worse, casting good spells to offset actual evil deeds. It's just bad policy.

That would work if this was a video game. Thankfully we have GMs

All HA did was provide a guideline

Grand Lodge

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A useless guideline.

Silver Crusade

The Raven Black wrote:
Isonaroc wrote:
My problem isn't so much that evil spells turn you evil. It's more that taking a fairly abstract concept like alignment and putting numbers to it turns the game into morality ping-pong. "Oh, I've summoned two demons this week, better summon two archons to balance it out." Or worse, casting good spells to offset actual evil deeds. It's just bad policy.

That would work if this was a video game. Thankfully we have GMs

All HA did was provide a guideline

A guideline that causes more problems than it solves.

Liberty's Edge

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On the topic of non-Evil spells creating undead

IIRC spells that bring undead into play and are not Evil either create/summon temporary undead (which is the case for Corpse Puppet for example) OR create undead that cannot attack creatures.

Thus it seems that it is the spells creating permanent undead who are able to attack creatures that are Evil ;-)

I believe it is in line with the idea that the vast majority of created undead (and all unintelligent ones AFAIK) are Evil in PFRPG.

Creating an Evil undead that can go and kill innocent people on its own when it escapes your control (say, if you die) seems to be construed as an Evil act


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
A useless guideline.

This is my view too. Or at least that it's a not very useful guideline. (I guess one can make it useful if you adopt Ckorik's approach and treat it as a hard-and-fast rule).

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The clarification that Evil spell meant Evil act was necessary

Once it was given, it was pretty obvious that people would clamor for a guideline

By its very nature a guideline cannot satisfy everyone

TBH I believe there would not be such an uproar about this if Infernal Healing was not on the Wizard list and allowed in PFS. That Evil PCs are banned in PFS made things even worse

Silver Crusade

The Raven Black wrote:

The clarification that Evil spell meant Evil act was necessary

Once it was given, it was pretty obvious that people would clamor for a guideline

By its very nature a guideline cannot satisfy everyone

TBH I believe there would not be such an uproar about this if Infernal Healing was not on the Wizard list and allowed in PFS. That Evil PCs are banned in PFS made things even worse

Can't speak for anyone else, but infernal healing doesn't even enter into it for me. I'm more concerned with summoning, personally. And, again, the ping pong morality.


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Isonaroc wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

The clarification that Evil spell meant Evil act was necessary

Once it was given, it was pretty obvious that people would clamor for a guideline

By its very nature a guideline cannot satisfy everyone

TBH I believe there would not be such an uproar about this if Infernal Healing was not on the Wizard list and allowed in PFS. That Evil PCs are banned in PFS made things even worse

Can't speak for anyone else, but infernal healing doesn't even enter into it for me. I'm more concerned with summoning, personally. And, again, the ping pong morality.

The interesting point with a setting where objective morality is a thing and can always be measured and checked is why you would actually use tools (in the broadest sense) that you know will do spiritual harm to you?

Silver Crusade

Purple Overkill wrote:
Isonaroc wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

The clarification that Evil spell meant Evil act was necessary

Once it was given, it was pretty obvious that people would clamor for a guideline

By its very nature a guideline cannot satisfy everyone

TBH I believe there would not be such an uproar about this if Infernal Healing was not on the Wizard list and allowed in PFS. That Evil PCs are banned in PFS made things even worse

Can't speak for anyone else, but infernal healing doesn't even enter into it for me. I'm more concerned with summoning, personally. And, again, the ping pong morality.
The interesting point with a setting where objective morality is a thing and can always be measured and checked is why you would actually use tools (in the broadest sense) that you know will do spiritual harm to you?

I can think of several. A disdain for both good and evil. A philosophy adhering to balance. Or pure utilitarianism: there are some situations where summoning a devil would be more useful than summoning an angel. Honestly the characters this hurts are the neutral ones. How are you supposed to become Nethys if you have to constantly mind you don't cast too many good or evil (or lawful or chaotic) spells?


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Isonaroc wrote:
Purple Overkill wrote:
Isonaroc wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

The clarification that Evil spell meant Evil act was necessary

Once it was given, it was pretty obvious that people would clamor for a guideline

By its very nature a guideline cannot satisfy everyone

TBH I believe there would not be such an uproar about this if Infernal Healing was not on the Wizard list and allowed in PFS. That Evil PCs are banned in PFS made things even worse

Can't speak for anyone else, but infernal healing doesn't even enter into it for me. I'm more concerned with summoning, personally. And, again, the ping pong morality.
The interesting point with a setting where objective morality is a thing and can always be measured and checked is why you would actually use tools (in the broadest sense) that you know will do spiritual harm to you?
I can think of several. A disdain for both good and evil. A philosophy adhering to balance. Or pure utilitarianism: there are some situations where summoning a devil would be more useful than summoning an angel. Honestly the characters this hurts are the neutral ones. How are you supposed to become Nethys if you have to constantly mind you don't cast too many good or evil (or lawful or chaotic) spells?

Same as any other calibration routine. Find all the endpoints, then use those to find the middle.


Alignment should not be enforced numerically... Else every Lawful Neutral would take count of their Good deed and do Bad deed to even the count...

And I don't talk about the Druid who must take count of all the Good, Evil, Lawful and Chaotic atcion he take to avoid an alignment change... Forcing them to kill innoceent if they have done too much Good or to break the law if they were being to lawful... :/

I don't really enforce Alignment, what I enforce is The Code for those who have one, be it Paladin or Cavalier or Knight, and Religion and Faith for those with Divine Casting... All the base class who require an alignment are beacause of Faith or Code...

It's usually PrC who requires an Alignment... And that is because PrC that ask for alignment are tied to Faction... One cannot become a Hellknight without the Hellknights Faction approval...
Entering that kind of PrC should be roleplayed...

In a campaign one of my player who played a Chaotic Neutral rogue asked me to get into the Red Mantis Assassin PrC... I've let him do it but on one condition... Before entering the PrC he should contact the Achaekek church (Red Mantis Faction) and ask them to train him as a Red Mantis Assassin, then he would gain the Red Mantis Assassin PrC even if not lawful evil BUT the organization will ask him to do assassination for them and he would have to do them... And of course the Assasination he would do would make him Evil... And of course respecting the order will make him lawful... And of course trying to cross them and not obey the order will make him "Ex-Member"... :p


Steve Geddes wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
A useless guideline.
This is my view too. Or at least that it's a not very useful guideline. (I guess one can make it useful if you adopt Ckorik's approach and treat it as a hard-and-fast rule).

Hah - I treat all rules as hard rules - please don't think that means that's what I use at my table though.

I think rules like this tend to end up being used as weapons against the players more than they are helpful.


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Ckorik wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
(I guess one can make it useful if you adopt Ckorik's approach and treat it as a hard-and-fast rule).
Hah - I treat all rules as hard rules - please don't think that means that's what I use at my table though.

No, I appreciate the distinction between "this is what the rules say" and "this is how we use them".

I disagree with you on what this rule actually is, but I doubt there'd be a massive difference in how we'd apply them at the table.


Purple Overkill wrote:
Isonaroc wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

The clarification that Evil spell meant Evil act was necessary

Once it was given, it was pretty obvious that people would clamor for a guideline

By its very nature a guideline cannot satisfy everyone

TBH I believe there would not be such an uproar about this if Infernal Healing was not on the Wizard list and allowed in PFS. That Evil PCs are banned in PFS made things even worse

Can't speak for anyone else, but infernal healing doesn't even enter into it for me. I'm more concerned with summoning, personally. And, again, the ping pong morality.
The interesting point with a setting where objective morality is a thing and can always be measured and checked is why you would actually use tools (in the broadest sense) that you know will do spiritual harm to you?

Maybe you think, "Look, I get that the gods and the planes and the magical fabric of the universe or whatever have declared that using this healing spell to save someone's life is an objectively evil thing to do, but I'm going to do it anyway because I actually care about helping people, not just tallying up plus marks on some sort of cosmic spreadsheet."

Now tell me, is that an evil attitude to have?


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Avoron wrote:
Purple Overkill wrote:
Isonaroc wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

The clarification that Evil spell meant Evil act was necessary

Once it was given, it was pretty obvious that people would clamor for a guideline

By its very nature a guideline cannot satisfy everyone

TBH I believe there would not be such an uproar about this if Infernal Healing was not on the Wizard list and allowed in PFS. That Evil PCs are banned in PFS made things even worse

Can't speak for anyone else, but infernal healing doesn't even enter into it for me. I'm more concerned with summoning, personally. And, again, the ping pong morality.
The interesting point with a setting where objective morality is a thing and can always be measured and checked is why you would actually use tools (in the broadest sense) that you know will do spiritual harm to you?

Maybe you think, "Look, I get that the gods and the planes and the magical fabric of the universe or whatever have declared that using this healing spell to save someone's life is an objectively evil thing to do, but I'm going to do it anyway because I actually care about helping people, not just tallying up plus marks on some sort of cosmic spreadsheet."

Now tell me, is that an evil attitude to have?

Exactly. I was playing a Jedi Knight in a SWSE game and was generally portraying a good and decent character (no dark side points or anything). We get to a point where we're undercover at a high stakes sabacc tournament. The winner is our contact and she is fatally shot, but not before she can give her dying words (the info we needed). We can potentially also come away with the winnings. Instead, I ask her what she wants done with the money; she says to give it to the runner-up (not a PC), and I do so. I considered it the right thing to do, to let her have some say in her final moments, so I was feeling alright about my character's character.

Then I was informed that I could remove a dark side point if I had one. A moral struggle between good in evil, reduced to an allocation of resources. I've never given less of a damn about bothering to do good than in that moment.


Avoron wrote:
Purple Overkill wrote:
Isonaroc wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

The clarification that Evil spell meant Evil act was necessary

Once it was given, it was pretty obvious that people would clamor for a guideline

By its very nature a guideline cannot satisfy everyone

TBH I believe there would not be such an uproar about this if Infernal Healing was not on the Wizard list and allowed in PFS. That Evil PCs are banned in PFS made things even worse

Can't speak for anyone else, but infernal healing doesn't even enter into it for me. I'm more concerned with summoning, personally. And, again, the ping pong morality.
The interesting point with a setting where objective morality is a thing and can always be measured and checked is why you would actually use tools (in the broadest sense) that you know will do spiritual harm to you?

Maybe you think, "Look, I get that the gods and the planes and the magical fabric of the universe or whatever have declared that using this healing spell to save someone's life is an objectively evil thing to do, but I'm going to do it anyway because I actually care about helping people, not just tallying up plus marks on some sort of cosmic spreadsheet."

Now tell me, is that an evil attitude to have?

It is. The ends do never justify the means and the mortal realms is nothing compared for the eternity of the outer planes.

Ethics can be a cruel topic when the immortal soul is a proven thing. Sounds harsh, right?


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Tectorman wrote:

Exactly. I was playing a Jedi Knight in a SWSE game and was generally portraying a good and decent character (no dark side points or anything). We get to a point where we're undercover at a high stakes sabacc tournament. The winner is our contact and she is fatally shot, but not before she can give her dying words (the info we needed). We can potentially also come away with the winnings. Instead, I ask her what she wants done with the money; she says to give it to the runner-up (not a PC), and I do so. I considered it the right thing to do, to let her have some say in her final moments, so I was feeling alright about my character's character.

Then I was informed that I could remove a dark side point if I had one. A moral struggle between good in evil, reduced to an allocation of resources. I've never given less of a damn about bothering to do good than in that moment.

Ah, yes, I remember that adventure. Dawn of Defiance, right? I played through that as a Force-sensitive Yarkoran noble - basically a half-camel with a fondness for mind tricks and a vaguely Russian accent. He was extremely dedicated to effective altruism, and didn't have high regard for any Force-using traditions or their so-called "objective morality."

Earlier in the game, he had managed to swindle a crime lord out of eight million credits. So when the time came, he bet the entire sum on the sabacc tournament, then used his Force powers to help a party member cheat. Long story short, the party member won, and my noble walked out of the tournament with nineteen million credits...
...which he then used to fund a highly competent medical research facility, potentially saving countless innocent lives.

Purple Overkill wrote:

It is. The ends do never justify the means and the mortal realms is nothing compared for the eternity of the outer planes.

Ethics can be a cruel topic when the immortal soul is a proven thing. Sounds harsh, right?

But the only immortal soul you're condemning by casting an [evil] spell is your own, right? Is it evil to sacrifice yourself to eternal torment in order to help others have happy and meaningful lives? To make the obligatory literary reference, was Huck Finn evil when he chose to help Jim escape slavery, fully believing that he would go to hell for his actions?

And of course, if the alignment tags on the spells you cast really did determine your afterlife, every spellcaster with more than one brain cell would be spamming protection from evil over and over for a one-way ticket to paradise.


Here's a question; what good could one accomplish by raising the dead that they couldn't accomplish a dozen other ways that didn't involve raising the dead?

It's not hard for me to imagine scenarios where casting Hold Person or Dominate would be the quickest, easiest, and safest solution to a problem, that would result in the least harm done and the least loss of life, even if it would be temporarily unpleasant for the person being Held/Dominated.

And while I'm in no way denying that one could command raised dead to do good things, the very fact that there is that intermediary step of raising the dead and commanding them before the good gets done makes it, if nothing else, inefficient compared to the plethora of other options at one's disposal.

Silver Crusade

FormerFiend wrote:

Here's a question; what good could one accomplish by raising the dead that they couldn't accomplish a dozen other ways that didn't involve raising the dead?

It's not hard for me to imagine scenarios where casting Hold Person or Dominate would be the quickest, easiest, and safest solution to a problem, that would result in the least harm done and the least loss of life, even if it would be temporarily unpleasant for the person being Held/Dominated.

And while I'm in no way denying that one could command raised dead to do good things, the very fact that there is that intermediary step of raising the dead and commanding them before the good gets done makes it, if nothing else, inefficient compared to the plethora of other options at one's disposal.

I mean, I guess if you're out of daily spells but you found a scroll of animate dead or something and things are dire.

Now I kinda want to make a good necromancer who doesn't raise the dead, but makes extensive use of controlling undead that already exist. Command undead ain't an evil spell. And via threnodic spell you could lay all sorts of compulsions on them.


Avoron wrote:

{. . .}

But the only immortal soul you're condemning by casting an [evil] spell is your own, right? Is it evil to sacrifice yourself to eternal torment in order to help others have happy and meaningful lives? To make the obligatory literary reference, was Huck Finn evil when he chose to help Jim escape slavery, fully believing that he would go to hell for his actions?

And of course, if the alignment tags on the spells you cast really did determine your afterlife, every spellcaster with more than one brain cell would be spamming protection from evil over and over for a one-way ticket to paradise.

That's why I think that for something like Infernal Healing to earn an [Evil] descriptor, it should have some actual side effects, not necessarily doing anything directly to the soul of the caster, but disturbing things like the target's wounds healing with Fiendish flesh, and the target later having recurring nightmares with whispers pushing towards damnation (unless they are already reasonably close to hard-core Lawful Evil already(*)). THEN somebody non-Evil casting Infernal Healing would have to have real misgivings about casting it even for good cause (at least once they saw the effects the first time, if they hadn't been already properly informed), and only be willing to do it in case of dire emergency.

(*)This being Infernal Healing, even hard-core Chaotic Evil people should be disturbed. Maybe someday the cult of Lamashtu will succeed in researching Abyssal Healing . . . .


@Avoron:

This is where looking at how and why things are connected matters.

Look at it like this: The Outer Planes are a constant war to find out which "reality" will be the ultimate "cosmic truth" and eliminate all else in the long run.
Same with the Inner Planes. Once one reaches absolute dominance, "reality" will be drastically altered as a consequence.

I hope you´re aware of a very interesting part from Heaven Unleashed, that goes into great detail explaining that over the course of time, an Petitioners alignment gets forcefully changed to fit the plane it ended up on, then strengthening the power of that plane.

So in the long run, you´re not just condemning yourself to be damned to Hell, but you´ll actually switch to LE, thereby being one more soul to be tallied when judgement day comes, strengthening Hell in the process.

This is why the intentions don´t matter when the outcome is absolute.

It´s a bit like voting in an elimination system: Suddenly, everyone is shocked by the outcome.

Your literary example is a good one, actually, but very complex to go into.

The main problem with it are the terms "good" and "evil" (Without using capital letters) which directly go into "reward", "punishment" and "redemption".

Taking a closer look at it, we shouldn't take the word "hell" too literally, especially not in the context of having an actual "Hell".
It´s more like an society having certain values, seeing them as "good" and naturally treading everything that goes against those values as "bad".

Now the thing is that we don´t talk about a pure B&W moral system (either/or), but we actually have 9 very valid stances that each consider themselves to be "good" and the polar opposite to be "evil" (or bad, or non-good, or whatever).

So taking the absolute stance, Huck Finn existed in a society that is either LN or LE and is CG himself. So naturally he´s "damned" and "evil" by not following his societies alignment.

Besides that, it´s a simple matter to look at why certain spells have an alignment tag. It mostly concerns divine casters and what spells they´re automatically banned from using. A good cleric simply can´t use Animate Dead, while an evil cleric can´t use Protection from Evil.


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Avoron wrote:

{. . .}

But the only immortal soul you're condemning by casting an [evil] spell is your own, right? Is it evil to sacrifice yourself to eternal torment in order to help others have happy and meaningful lives? To make the obligatory literary reference, was Huck Finn evil when he chose to help Jim escape slavery, fully believing that he would go to hell for his actions?

And of course, if the alignment tags on the spells you cast really did determine your afterlife, every spellcaster with more than one brain cell would be spamming protection from evil over and over for a one-way ticket to paradise.

That's why I think that for something like Infernal Healing to earn an [Evil] descriptor, it should have some actual side effects, not necessarily doing anything directly to the soul of the caster, but disturbing things like the target's wounds healing with Fiendish flesh, and the target later having recurring nightmares with whispers pushing towards damnation (unless they are already reasonably close to hard-core Lawful Evil already(*)). THEN somebody non-Evil casting Infernal Healing would have to have real misgivings about casting it even for good cause (at least once they saw the effects the first time, if they hadn't been already properly informed), and only be willing to do it in case of dire emergency.

(*)This being Infernal Healing, even hard-core Chaotic Evil people should be disturbed. Maybe someday the cult of Lamashtu will succeed in researching Abyssal Healing . . . .

abyssal healing would probably be along the lines of you deal x damage to creatures around you each round for y rounds and then you heal x times the number of creatures damaged this way


Avoron wrote:

But the only immortal soul you're condemning by casting an [evil] spell is your own, right? Is it evil to sacrifice yourself to eternal torment in order to help others have happy and meaningful lives? To make the obligatory literary reference, was Huck Finn evil when he chose to help Jim escape slavery, fully believing that he would go to hell for his actions?

And of course, if the alignment tags on the spells you cast really did determine your afterlife, every spellcaster with more than one brain cell would be spamming protection from evil over and over for a one-way ticket to paradise.

By casting an Evil spell you're not only comndemning your soul, you're re-enforcing Evil deities power...

I think [Evil] and [Good] spells should be restricted to Divine caster... And that would help comprehend things... Wizard should not be implicated in this since they usually don't care about Gods... :p
Well I guess you could say that when a WWizard cast this sort of spell he play with powers beyond his grasp and "stain his soul" or "purify his soul" without really knowing it... And that's what Wizard do usually, playing with force greater than them and don't really caring or even thinking about consequences... :D

In this game not everyone want to go to "Paradise", some want to go to "Hell" and have a place of power there... :p

But once again I'm against this rule, I only enforce the casting of an "Evil" spell by a good Divine caster by "giving them a warning from their deity"... A dream, a "bad luck with no real consequences" after casting it etc., then if he does it too often begin the "Malus to spellcasting", "spell fumble" and then it's time for a quest to redeem himlself, if he ignore this, time for an alignment change... :D
A Good Divine caster will be frown uppon by his deity if he cast a spell from the "specific deity spell list" of another deity but would certainly be forgiven if the deity is an ally of the cleric's god, but if he begin to pray to an Evils god no mercy... :p


UnArcaneElection wrote:
That's why I think that for something like Infernal Healing to earn an [Evil] descriptor, it should have some actual side effects, not necessarily doing anything directly to the soul of the caster, but disturbing things like the target's wounds healing with Fiendish flesh, and the target later having recurring nightmares with whispers pushing towards damnation (unless they are already reasonably close to hard-core Lawful Evil already(*)). THEN somebody non-Evil casting Infernal Healing would have to have real misgivings about casting it even for good cause (at least once they saw the effects the first time, if they hadn't been already properly informed), and only be willing to do it in case of dire emergency.

This sort of independent negative consequence to [evil] spells is one of the more interesting solutions. I mean, you could just say that every time you cast an [evil] spell, somewhere in the universe a random sentient being gets tortured to death, and that would provide a pretty good motivation for good characters not to do so. Problem is, that sort of explanation still doesn't avoid the problem of why good people don't just spam protection from evil on everyone around them to make the world an inherently better place.

Purple Overkill wrote:

So in the long run, you´re not just condemning yourself to be damned to Hell, but you´ll actually switch to LE, thereby being one more soul to be tallied when judgement day comes, strengthening Hell in the process.

This is why the intentions don´t matter when the outcome is absolute.

That's a reasonable argument, but are you saying that adding a single soul to the forces of Hell is the worst possible thing that can happen? That no other goal can be worth that sacrifice?

Purple Overkill wrote:
Taking a closer look at it, we shouldn't take the word "hell" too literally, especially not in the context of having an actual "Hell".

But Huck did take it literally, right? That's the whole point - he had been raised to believe that an omnipotent deity really would send him to eternal torment for freeing a slave, but he did it anyway because Jim's freedom was more important to him than his own damnation.


Wanna know who thinks necromancy isn't evil? Necromancers!


@Avoron:

Would you be sent to Hell for freeing slaves, breaking laws and living life as a free and kind spirit or would you be end up in Elysium (which actually looks kinda like a reward to me)?

The situation with Huck is actually a reminder to certain people who think themselves to be christians that the gospel puts kindness and mercy above the laws and a true believer will always have to follow his conscience above all else.


Purple Overkill wrote:
Would you be sent to Hell for freeing slaves, breaking laws and living life as a free and kind spirit or would you be end up in Elysium (which actually looks kinda like a reward to me)?

Where Huck would actually end up in a Golarion cosmology isn't really the point. The point is that Huck believed he would go to hell for helping Jim escape, but did so anyway. You asserted that a determination to help others even at the cost of eternal damnation for yourself was "an evil attitude to have," and Huck serves as a non-evil example of someone who was willing to do exactly that.


Avoron wrote:
Purple Overkill wrote:
Would you be sent to Hell for freeing slaves, breaking laws and living life as a free and kind spirit or would you be end up in Elysium (which actually looks kinda like a reward to me)?
Where Huck would actually end up in a Golarion cosmology isn't really the point. The point is that Huck believed he would go to hell for helping Jim escape, but did so anyway. You asserted that a determination to help others even at the cost of eternal damnation for yourself was "an evil attitude to have," and Huck serves as a non-evil example of someone who was willing to do exactly that.

Oh, it´s very important. The nature of an objective and manifested morality system means you can have actual and concrete knowledge and have no need for believe at all.

What Huck Finn believes is unimportant, as is how he justifies his actions to himself.


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How much do people on the ground in Golarion really know about the metaphysics of the world they live in? We know this stuff because we read the books which are written with an omniscient narrator (and whose authority over the source material is unquestioned.)

I have to imagine that a lot of actual religions that people in Golarion follow tell stories that result in their practitioners believing things that are not strictly true.

Sure, high level wizards and clerics have access to the metaphysical truths of their universe, but first level commoners don't and if it comes down to "Archmage who is a foreigner" or "Cleric of a different religion" or "a cleric of your own religion" which one of those three to you think the commoner is most likely to believe?


I think it´s pretty hard to not know when living in a setting like Golarion. Too much planar traffic, too many manifested outsiders, deities, nature or philosophies granting access to spells, races like gnomes that migrated from the First World, occult rituals working for non-casters, all that.

It´s interesting how this knowledge would actually shape a persons attitude.


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I take the opposite approach personally. Most people in the game world won't leave their country in their lifetime, and may rarely leave their own city/village/town. If you look at all the weird stuff people in the real world believe even though evidence to the contrary is readily available in large quantities (e.g. Flat-Earthers), it's not hard for me to believe that people in Golarion who seldom leave their own village will not take advantage of planar travelers, manifested outsiders, magical traditions, etc. in order to expand their knowledge of the world. These "entities in the know" tend to run in circles that intersect with adventurers much more often than they intersect with farming hamlets in the middle of nowhere.

It's not entirely like how very few Flat-Earth believers are going to bother to learn differential topology, which would provide an alternative explanation to the superficial evidence that the earth is flat, partly because people qualified to teach differential topology tend to avoid Flat-Earth groups as best they can.

I think it's human (etc.) nature to find comfort in simple (and wrong) explanations that require very little on your part, as opposed to complex (and more accurate) explanations that require thought and appreciation of nuance.

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