Discussion: The Nature of EVIL, The Undead, And You; Planar Morality in a DnD World


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Mikaze wrote:
Old Nekron wrote:
So would Lady Gaga be considered neutral or inherently evil as a mindless undead?
Slaanesh can't be turned into undead!

You just made me spit soda onto my keyboard. Now it's ruined. Now I won't be able to work on the project Jacobs just assigned me yesterday. It's all your fault! You've ruined it for everyone! ;)

Silver Crusade

Todd Stewart wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
Old Nekron wrote:
So would Lady Gaga be considered neutral or inherently evil as a mindless undead?
Slaanesh can't be turned into undead!
You just made me spit soda onto my keyboard. Now it's ruined. Now I won't be able to work on the project Jacobs just assigned me yesterday. It's all your fault! You've ruined it for everyone! ;)

Puttin' "Influenced Paizo development" on my resume!


Ashiel wrote:


God, can we not escape the Book of Self Contradiction in a conversation about this sort of thing?

Done. Book Of Books are off the table. ;p

Ashiel wrote:


As to the skeletons or zombies part, specifically, the problem is that the fluff makes no sense in the context of the game for the reasons noted previously.

What about all the encounters where you find skeletons and zombies with NO controlling necromancer? The ones just... in the dark? The tomb in the very first part of Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, or the many sepulchres (or the necropolis!) in the Meatgrinder? What about the free-roaming zombies in Worlds Largest Dungeon?

Skeletons and Zombies without controllers have ALWAYS attacked people... Isn't it common knowledge that if you lose control of unintelligent undead while crafting more, that they -flip out and try to eat your face-? Or is that one of those things everyone knows that isn't true?

Also, I need to only respond to one persons posts at a time, cause Ashiel keeps refuting arguments I make about other peoples arguments. *ahem*

Ashiel wrote:


Fun fact. Chimeras lack the Evil subtype. They're just magical beasts. So apparently you can be made out of primordial evil and be sentient and you're not inherently evil - heck you don't even register particularly potently on the detect evil scale; but take a neutral object (a corpse) and shove lots of neutral energy into it, and it's like a Geiger counter at ground zero!

Uhhhhh... got me there... seriously? I thought Chimera were born when a Mommy Chimera and a Daddy Chimera loved each other very much...

We/I are/am specifically prohibited from talking about christian mythos stuff on here, but I may send you a quick PM about the Sataniel thing.

So our arguments at core are:
Me: I have a bunch of sketchy evidence that points to Negative Energy being wallowing in evil. I think that to make the Bestiary fit the lore is too much work, and the Lore should be made to fit the Bestiary, with alterations to some spells as simple as adding a few words here and there.

You: Point out that all my evidence is really sketchy (and circumstantial) and that no where does it ever SAY that Negative Energy is specifically evil. Changing the Bestiary to fit the basic lore, despite the fact that suddenly Paladins can no longer smite skeletons is better in the long run for everyone, and also, leave those poor persecuted Necromancers alone, sometimes they never hurt anyone!

Us: Someone needs to hire a Content Editor for Pathfinder who figures stuff like this out in advance before we spend our saturday shuffling back and forth, and a Skeleton is basically an unmanned killing tool that can on occaision be used for manual labor.


Todd Stewart wrote:
Entropy might be in the eye of the beholder in certain ways, because it's not pure annihilation if there's not positive energy in you, though the positive energy plane is certainly pure annihilating entropy to a being of negative energy.

I think 'filling a hole' might be a misdefinition of "Entropy". Negative Energy is Anti-Creation. Touching Anti-Creation with Creation is like touching Anti-Matter with Matter. Sce... ad.. uinar... hah! Sceaduinar have a negative energy touch that even destroys undead. That's pure entropy.

Dark Archive

Purplefixer wrote:
I think 'filling a hole' might be a misdefinition of "Entropy". Negative Energy is Anti-Creation. Touching Anti-Creation with Creation is like touching Anti-Matter with Matter.

That's very much what I would like to be the case.

But since undead crave life energy, which *is* positive energy, that means that *some* positive energy is yummy goodness to the negative energy empowered undead...

I would much prefer for negative energy to be hungry and consumptive and not at all a source of creation or able to generate motion, create life, or impart energy to something. (Contagion, *creating life* with negative energy? [comicbookguy]Worst. Idea. Ever.[/comicbookguy])

So yeah, +1 for negative energy as anti-energy, and not a black colored version of positive energy...


Purplefixer wrote:
Done. Book Of Books are off the table. ;p

Much thanks. Those books fill me with rage. ^.^"

Quote:
Ashiel wrote:


As to the skeletons or zombies part, specifically, the problem is that the fluff makes no sense in the context of the game for the reasons noted previously.

What about all the encounters where you find skeletons and zombies with NO controlling necromancer? The ones just... in the dark? The tomb in the very first part of Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, or the many sepulchres (or the necropolis!) in the Meatgrinder? What about the free-roaming zombies in Worlds Largest Dungeon?

Skeletons and Zombies without controllers have ALWAYS attacked people... Isn't it common knowledge that if you lose control of unintelligent undead while crafting more, that they -flip out and try to eat your face-? Or is that one of those things everyone knows that isn't true?

The 3E explanation of this made perfect sense, and to my knowledge is the way it worked in other editions prior to 3.5. Essentially the undead follow the last command that they were given. This is why undead are frequently found in ancient dungeons and the like. It's very easy to give orders like "patrol the complex and kill all intruders", or "guard this sarcophagus and let no one enter", and stuff like that.

In 3E, this was actually expected. A necromancer could only actively control a number of HD equal to CL * 2, but he could give basic orders to his undead and then release them to carry out those orders. Orders ranging from "let no one enter this place unless they show this seal" to "walk in that direction and slaughter everything in your path". However, there was some abuse potential because "obey this guy" was also a legitimate order which they would continue to follow.

Both the lore and rules contradicted the "wandering undead" skeletons/zombies stuff. If they were wandering, it meant that someone had caused them to wander (either intentionally, or through some open ended order that got robot-wonky). But again, this is why they are perfect sentries for tombs and other long-forgotten places.

Quote:
Also, I need to only respond to one persons posts at a time, cause Ashiel keeps refuting arguments I make about other peoples arguments. *ahem*

Sorry, my bad. ^.^"

Ashiel wrote:


Fun fact. Chimeras lack the Evil subtype. They're just magical beasts. So apparently you can be made out of primordial evil and be sentient and you're not inherently evil - heck you don't even register particularly potently on the detect evil scale; but take a neutral object (a corpse) and shove lots of neutral energy into it, and it's like a Geiger counter at ground zero!
Uhhhhh... got me there... seriously? I thought Chimera were born when a Mommy Chimera and a Daddy Chimera loved each other very much...

*falls over laughing* >.^"

Quote:
We/I are/am specifically prohibited from talking about christian mythos stuff on here, but I may send you a quick PM about the Sataniel thing.

I'd question that a lot, since angels as presented in D&D/PF are pretty much ripped from such theology/mythos (I say this as a Christian myself), as are fiends such as succubi. You cannot discuss these things without dipping into Christian mythos, because by uttering their very names means that you are.

Quote:

So our arguments at core are:

Me: I have a bunch of sketchy evidence that points to Negative Energy being wallowing in evil. I think that to make the Bestiary fit the lore is too much work, and the Lore should be made to fit the Bestiary, with alterations to some spells as simple as adding a few words here and there.

You: Point out that all my evidence is really sketchy (and circumstantial) and that no where does it ever SAY that Negative Energy is specifically evil. Changing the Bestiary to fit the basic lore, despite the fact that suddenly Paladins can no longer smite skeletons is better in the long run for everyone, and also, leave those poor persecuted Necromancers alone, sometimes they never hurt anyone!

Sounds about right to me, with one caveat. I don't mind the persecuted necromancers, because that's a fun archtype that cannot be done with undead that are inherently evil. It becomes less "morally questionable" and right into the realm of "evil-dar dost detect"! My own campaign setting actually has neutral undead (and undead that are decidedly Evil <-- Capital E) and the main country that the campaign is taking place in outright bans animating the dead. A necromancer in the country can be captured, imprisoned, and branded with a mark of shame that identifies them as a defiler to everyone.

However, that's for philosophical reasons. That country and its people see undead as evil (they also dislike demons and devils), while another populace thinks Arcane magic is evil but is on board for spiritual magics; while another country doesn't really much care one way or another because they're too busy training in their psionic academies. Likewise, in the same country as the undead are banned, many forms of enchantment spells are considered heinous abuses of power and can result in punishment; even though none of those have an E involved.


Kthulhu wrote:

One of the bigger mistakes in the Pathfinder RPG is that they didn't remove the association between negative energy and evil (and conversely between positive energy and good).

Not entireley true...they have a race in the Bestiary 2 there is a positive energy plane native race that is definitly not good...positive energy evidently does not = good...

Contributor

Purplefixer wrote:
Skeletons and Zombies without controllers have ALWAYS attacked people... Isn't it common knowledge that if you lose control of unintelligent undead while crafting more, that they -flip out and try to eat your face-? Or is that one of those things everyone knows that isn't true?

I think it's more of a case of "Where is your character living?" and "Who's the DM?"

If you're in Ravenloft, of course the skeletons and zombies will try to eat your face immediately, unless of course the Dark Powers puppeting them (and everything else in the Mists) decide that lulling you into a false sense of security would cause more horror/fit with their evil designs/better lead to the damnation of your soul/etc.

If you're somewhere else? It really depends.

The "neutral things which may spontaneously become evil" is an old trope of horror. Consider this: Your character has been asked to the reading of the will of some ancient unknown aunt who is now dead. The executor of the will states that, in keeping with the mistress's wishes, the character must spend one night locked in a room of her house and what he inherits will be based on which room he choses: He may spend the night in the parlor, where the mistress's body lies in state; He may spend the night in the mistress's sitting room, with her large and extensive collection of antique dolls from around the world; or he may spend the night in the mistress's bedchamber accompanied by the mistress's old cat.

None of these three rooms or the things in them detect as evil or magical. Exactly how long do you expect that to last?

In horror stories, demonic forces, dark powers, restless spirits, etc. have nothing better to do than possess innocuous things and turn them into something sinister. The old lady will rise up as some sort of undead, the dolls will all make like the spawn of Chucky and Talkie Tina, and the cat will finally live out its dreams of starring in an Edgar Allen Poe story. Or just the suggestion that these things could happen will drive the heir mad via nightmares or old fashioned craziness.

In this scenario, having mindless undead who spontaneously decide to gnaw your face off is perfectly reasonable, and it also has literary precedent: Look at the golem legends. A golem is an outstanding servant until the day it blows a fuse and goes berserk. Unless you live in Ravenloft, in which case your golems are evil from day one.

Contributor

John Kretzer wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:

One of the bigger mistakes in the Pathfinder RPG is that they didn't remove the association between negative energy and evil (and conversely between positive energy and good).

Not entireley true...they have a race in the Bestiary 2 there is a positive energy plane native race that is definitly not good...positive energy evidently does not = good...

The jyoti. Xenophobic and neutral aligned.

The positive energy plane has never been good aligned in D&D history in any of the various planar books, though other sources have periodically tried to make positive energy a good thing and negative energy a bad thing (usually for metagame reasons). The positive energy plane in its various incarnations is a place of awesome, blazing sterility like the heart of a star, and I tried to be quite overt about that fact for Golarion's PEP in that it's the source of the energies of most life, but it's virtually a death sentence for anyone going there without magical protection.

It's literally the stuff of the hearts of the stars (who contain portals to the plane at their own material hearts), a metaphysical nuclear furnace. It's not happy fun land of angels and goodness, just searing hostile light that once exposed to it you smile and bask in its blinding, burning glow for a second before your soul immolates and the jyoti who witnessed your unintentional suicide go back to their business. ;)


Todd Stewart wrote:
John Kretzer wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:

One of the bigger mistakes in the Pathfinder RPG is that they didn't remove the association between negative energy and evil (and conversely between positive energy and good).

Not entireley true...they have a race in the Bestiary 2 there is a positive energy plane native race that is definitly not good...positive energy evidently does not = good...

The jyoti. Xenophobic and neutral aligned.

Yeah that is them...do note i said not good...

Actualy there are very similiar to a positive energy race I created...though those were LE....which I came up with because of the fallacy everything positive energy is good...and every thing negative energy is evil thinking people picked up from somewhere.


Quote:
It's literally the stuff of the hearts of the stars (who contain portals to the plane at their own material hearts), a metaphysical nuclear furnace. It's not happy fun land of angels and goodness, just searing hostile light that once exposed to it you smile and bask in its blinding, burning glow for a second before your soul immolates and the jyoti who witnessed your unintentional suicide go back to their business. ;)

Recent studies suggest positive energy causes cancer.

(The joke is twofold. 1) It was compared to nuclear power. 2) Positive energy fuels living tissue, meaning it should theoretically make tumors go nuts.)


Purplefixer wrote:
Todd Stewart wrote:
Entropy might be in the eye of the beholder in certain ways, because it's not pure annihilation if there's not positive energy in you, though the positive energy plane is certainly pure annihilating entropy to a being of negative energy.
I think 'filling a hole' might be a misdefinition of "Entropy". Negative Energy is Anti-Creation. Touching Anti-Creation with Creation is like touching Anti-Matter with Matter. Sce... ad.. uinar... hah! Sceaduinar have a negative energy touch that even destroys undead. That's pure entropy.

You have angered the physics gods! Entropy is the number of microstates that produce the same macrostate (for you biology people it's akin to different genotypes producing the same phenotype. And for physics savvy I know that it's the log of the number). The second law of thermo states that the universe goes through macrostates that progressively can be produced by an equal to or greater number of microstates. So the creation of the earth and everything else was a result of increasing entropy, therefore entropy is not purely destructive.


Back foul vampire! The power of science compels you! :P


Starbuck_II wrote:
Ashiel wrote:


In contrast is the positive energy plane. The positive energy plane is hostile to both living and unliving creatures, and can and will kill you if you are there for too long. Quote: "Despite the beneficial effects of the plane, it is one of the most hostile of the Inner Planes. An unprotected character on this plane swells with power as positive energy is forced upon her. Then, because her mortal frame is unable to contain that power, she is immolated, like a mote of dust caught at the edge of a supernova. Visits to the Positive Energy Plane are brief, and even then travelers must be heavily protected."
Just be emo, cutting yourself to keep the positive flow down. It works.

I just have a vision of of a gnome sorcerer desperatly stabbing himself for 1d3-3 damage in order to delay the inevitable.

Humbly,
Yawar

Dark Archive

Ashiel wrote:

Recent studies suggest positive energy causes cancer.

(The joke is twofold. 1) It was compared to nuclear power. 2) Positive energy fuels living tissue, meaning it should theoretically make tumors go nuts.)

Positive energy should also do amazing things for the spread of micro-organisms, causing plagues to fly out of control and proliferate madly.

Negative energy, on the other hand, being all antithetical to life, should kill germs dead. 'Rotting' zombies, pulsing with energy that annhilates life, should take centuries to decay, since no microorganism that isn't itself undead can take purchase in their negatively-charged flesh without being sucked of life-energy in an instant.

If negative energy were indeed antithetical to life, it would probably be a great way to keep grain from suffering any sort of mold deteroriation during storage or transport. A quick wash of negative energy and it's sterilized of all micro-life. Same for meat, flash-sterilizing it the same way we use microwave radiation in the modern age, allowing it to be preserved longer.

(unless food in this universe has no chemical properties that sustain life, but only store positive energy of the once-living creature for harvesting by the consumer. If that was the case, a wash of negative energy wouldn't just sterilize the food, but also strip it of all nutritive value. "Haha, the evil cleric channels negative energy, everyone takes 2d6 damage and all your food is ruined!")


The Nature of EVIL is subjective.
The Undead function in various ways based on the nature of their demise or reanamation.
Planar Morality in a DnD World is subjective to the societies in a given plane.


Ashiel wrote:
Back foul vampire! The power of science compels you! :P

I channel the combined powers of Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov to hold my ground.

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erik542 wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
Back foul vampire! The power of science compels you! :P
I channel the combined powers of Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov to hold my ground.

This reminds me of playing Vampire and threatening to create a Scientologist with True Faith and an E-meter....

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Zotpox wrote:

The Nature of EVIL is subjective.

Not in an alignment based D20 game. Because unlike our own world Evil, Good, Law, Chaos are real forces, just like gravity. And they have observable effects and influence.

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LazarX wrote:
Zotpox wrote:

The Nature of EVIL is subjective.

Not in an alignment based D20 game. Because unlike our own world Evil, Good, Law, Chaos are real forces, just like gravity. And they have observable effects and influence.

Evil may be quantifiable in our fantasy universe, detected and whatnot, but the game books never agree on what evil is precisely, leaving the definition up to players and DMs. Moreover, there are theological questions such as, if a Neutral bear is in the process of eating you child, is it an Evil act to pick up an Evil sword (a nine-lives stealer, for example) if it's all you have handy, using it to kill the bear and save the child?

Dark Archive

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Moreover, there are theological questions such as, if a Neutral bear is in the process of eating you child, is it an Evil act to pick up an Evil sword (a nine-lives stealer, for example) if it's all you have handy, using it to kill the bear and save the child?

There some GMs who would rule that even if that person was a paladin, he'd get off scott free, as long as he didn't keep the sword afterwards and promised to feel really bad about it.

There's other GMs who would rule that a paladin would lose his powers and 'fall' for doing this evil act, and, others who would go to the extreme of saying that since he *knew* this was an evil act and wasn't tricked into accidentally using the evil sword, that even atonement would fail to work for him, by the strictest rules.

The game rules of previous editions would tend to agree with the last guy, that since the dude knew what he was doing, he's a feat-less fighter (basically a warrior) forever.

And yet my personal definition of 'good' has a touch of real-world religion in it, where the dude who is willing to sacrifice of himself for the good of others, even if it costs him *everything* (Nirvana, in the case of the Buddha, staying behind to show others the way, his life, in the case of Jesus, walking into certain death for the good of people who are currently being jerks to him). So I'd be inclined to allow the paladin who willingly and knowingly took up the evil artifact to save lives, knowing he'd lose his special status for it, to not get anything more than a scary slap on the wrist and a warning to not get complacent and count on getting away with that sort of thing in lesser situations...

I don't see being willing to lose your special holy super-powers to do a good thing that can be done by no other means as a bad thing. Just good role-play, and the sort of thing that, as a GM, I'd be more inclined to reward than punish.

If you value your principles more than innocent peoples lives, then they probably don't deserve to have a 'G' in them.

(As always, add 'IMO' to the end of any sentence that starts with a capital letter.)

Shadow Lodge

Set wrote:
...stuff...

One of the reasons I'm not really big on the paladin. It seems like it's just an invitation for failure. I'm not even talking about games where the GM sets out to screw the paladin. Hell, the class is structured in such a way that the GM almost has to bend over backwards to avoid screwing the paladin over in many situations.

Dark Archive

Kthulhu wrote:
Hell, the class is structured in such a way that the GM almost has to bend over backwards to avoid screwing the paladin over in many situations.

Agreed. With a rogue, a GM might feel compelled to *add* to the adventure to make it more appealing to the player (add some traps, add some city interaction, add some sneaking/scouting opportunities), but with a paladin player, I find that the game becomes much more limited, and not just for the paladin themself, but also for the rest of the players at the table, as *they* now have to tiptoe gingerly around the paladin's list of 'thou shalt nots.'

A code that restricts behavior by the character itself can be an interesting challenge, but one that prohibits *other players* from playing certain characters, or taking certain actions, seems like a license for dickery.

Contributor

Set wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
Hell, the class is structured in such a way that the GM almost has to bend over backwards to avoid screwing the paladin over in many situations.

Agreed. With a rogue, a GM might feel compelled to *add* to the adventure to make it more appealing to the player (add some traps, add some city interaction, add some sneaking/scouting opportunities), but with a paladin player, I find that the game becomes much more limited, and not just for the paladin themself, but also for the rest of the players at the table, as *they* now have to tiptoe gingerly around the paladin's list of 'thou shalt nots.'

A code that restricts behavior by the character itself can be an interesting challenge, but one that prohibits *other players* from playing certain characters, or taking certain actions, seems like a license for dickery.

Agreed.

There's also the trouble with realism where you wonder "Why would these people willingly associate with one another?" Apart from GM railroads like stranding them all on Gilligan's Island, you get this basic scenario:

PALADIN: I cannot willingly associate with base, false, or ignoble people!

PARTY: For once we agree. Let's ditch "Smelly" at the next town.

Contributor

Todd Stewart wrote:

The positive energy plane has never been good aligned in D&D history in any of the various planar books, though other sources have periodically tried to make positive energy a good thing and negative energy a bad thing (usually for metagame reasons). The positive energy plane in its various incarnations is a place of awesome, blazing sterility like the heart of a star, and I tried to be quite overt about that fact for Golarion's PEP in that it's the source of the energies of most life, but it's virtually a death sentence for anyone going there without magical protection.

It's literally the stuff of the hearts of the stars (who contain portals to the plane at their own material hearts), a metaphysical nuclear furnace. It's not happy fun land of angels and goodness, just searing hostile light that once exposed to it you smile and bask in its blinding, burning glow for a second before your soul immolates and the jyoti who witnessed your unintentional suicide go back to their business. ;)

This has pretty much always been the intent of the PEP. Remember, the elemental planes are the building blocks of all of the Material, and so everything natural in the Material has at least a portion of the essence of every plane. None of these things are, in and of themselves, evil. This is a concept that has no meaning at the elemental stage. This is pre-lizard brain. This is not about thought and belief and morality, but merely about action.

The animating forces of the elemental planes are not good and evil - they are existence and non-existence. The two poles of positive and negative force their tendrils into each of the other elemental planes, and so everything there is more or less a creator and more or less a destroyer.

The PEP is the force of creation, this is true - but this is not a "good" thing, necessarily, especially when you consider that it animates not only the creatures we think of as good and fine and noble, but also the things we find terrible, horrifying, and disgusting. Bacteria. Viruses. Mold spores. Guinea worms. Endless colonies of insects swarming and crawling across each other mindlessly, their only goal to expand, with no thought of sustainability.

Dark Archive

Colin McComb wrote:
The PEP is the force of creation, this is true - but this is not a "good" thing, necessarily, especially when you consider that it animates not only the creatures we think of as good and fine and noble, but also the things we find terrible, horrifying, and disgusting. Bacteria. Viruses. Mold spores. Guinea worms. Endless colonies of insects swarming and crawling across each other mindlessly, their only goal to expand, with no thought of sustainability.

While I agree with this sentiment, bear in mind that, in D&D, disease organisms are created by necromantic magic, and not conjuration, making their source negative energy, instead of positive energy.

While I prefer the notion of negative energy being hostile to all life, even life that we think of as 'icky,' and positive energy would be beneficial to all life, even gross slimy things, that's not the way it works in-game. Ghouls, plague zombies, etc. are *very* compatible hosts to micro-organisms, making negative energy antithetical to life, as long as that life isn't nasty or very, very small.

I would love if negative energy was not 'free power' or a source of creation, and was instead energy-devouring and an absence of life, light and whatnot, but that sort of creative/destructive framework is instead replaced by a more dualistic 'positive creative/destructive force' and 'negative creative/destructive force' notion.

Less Brahma/Shiva or Wyld/Wyrm, more Ahura Mazda/Angra Mainyu, I guess.

(In 1st edition, Ghouls did not carry disease, and Mummies, which did, were explicitly empowered by positive energy, instead of negative energy, suggesting that the original design intent of these planes / energy types was that positive energy would be the source of life, even icky life, and that negative energy would bring only death, and not provide a nurturing, kind, loving environment, even for forms of life we think of as 'gross.')

Contributor

Set wrote:
Colin McComb wrote:
The PEP is the force of creation, this is true - but this is not a "good" thing, necessarily, especially when you consider that it animates not only the creatures we think of as good and fine and noble, but also the things we find terrible, horrifying, and disgusting. Bacteria. Viruses. Mold spores. Guinea worms. Endless colonies of insects swarming and crawling across each other mindlessly, their only goal to expand, with no thought of sustainability.

While I agree with this sentiment, bear in mind that, in D&D, disease organisms are created by necromantic magic, and not conjuration, making their source negative energy, instead of positive energy.

While I prefer the notion of negative energy being hostile to all life, even life that we think of as 'icky,' and positive energy would be beneficial to all life, even gross slimy things, that's not the way it works in-game. Ghouls, plague zombies, etc. are *very* compatible hosts to micro-organisms, making negative energy antithetical to life, as long as that life isn't nasty or very, very small.

I would love if negative energy was not 'free power' or a source of creation, and was instead energy-devouring and an absence of life, light and whatnot, but that sort of creative/destructive framework is instead replaced by a more dualistic 'positive creative/destructive force' and 'negative creative/destructive force' notion.

Less Brahma/Shiva or Wyld/Wyrm, more Ahura Mazda/Angra Mainyu, I guess.

(In 1st edition, Ghouls did not carry disease, and Mummies, which did, were explicitly empowered by positive energy, instead of negative energy, suggesting that the original design intent of these planes / energy types was that positive energy would be the source of life, even icky life, and that negative energy would bring only death, and not provide a nurturing, kind, loving environment, even for forms of life we think of as 'gross.')

This was done away with as early as the 1st edition Fiend Folio where the Sons of Kyuss were undead with nasty green worms that popped out of their mouths, burrowed into people, and created more Sons of Kyuss.

I'd say this was the original start of the "Eww, gross!" benchmark for undead and evil in general rather than simple logic.

Remember what we've learned from thirty years of D&D: If it has bat wings, tentacles, spider legs, nipple rings, and/or a skull codpiece, it's probably evil.

Contributor

Set wrote:


While I agree with this sentiment, bear in mind that, in D&D, disease organisms are created by necromantic magic, and not conjuration, making their source negative energy, instead of positive energy.

Necromancy isn't just the use of negative energy, but positive energy as well. Quite a few necromancy spells overtly utilize positive energy.

Dark Archive

Todd Stewart wrote:
Necromancy isn't just the use of negative energy, but positive energy as well. Quite a few necromancy spells overtly utilize positive energy.

That is a possibility I had not considered.

Certainly the twenty-five words devoted to Necromancy as a School in the core rules didn't preclude that possibility. :)

Scarab Sages

H. T. J. Munchkineater wrote:
There's a lot of dependancy on the definition of Evil you are understanding. I'm of the opinion that true setting neutrality cannot exist with an alignment system, as it implies an inherent judgement. If one is to look at whether a creature, concept or act is inherently evil, first they must define what the term entails. Otherwise it's just applying your own morality to the answer.

I concur. I think that alignment (like myers briggs personality typing) is a useful shorthand for roleplaying. It makes me sad that Pathfinder decided to keep it (and houseruling it away is much harder than it looks).

Contributor

Set wrote:
Todd Stewart wrote:
Necromancy isn't just the use of negative energy, but positive energy as well. Quite a few necromancy spells overtly utilize positive energy.

That is a possibility I had not considered.

Certainly the twenty-five words devoted to Necromancy as a School in the core rules didn't preclude that possibility. :)

This is because the core rules, in transitioning from 1st to 3rd edition, somewhere along the line (I would suspect as a misguided bone being thrown to the religious right) necromancy was redefined as all nasty negative energy, whereas in 1st edition, all healing spells, from Cure Light Wounds to True Resurrection, were necromancy.

This was switched to "conjuration -- healing" which doesn't make much logical sense.

FWIW, many DMs, myself included, ignore this change and use healing as a subset of necromancy where Gygax first put it.

Shadow Lodge

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Set wrote:
Todd Stewart wrote:
Necromancy isn't just the use of negative energy, but positive energy as well. Quite a few necromancy spells overtly utilize positive energy.

That is a possibility I had not considered.

Certainly the twenty-five words devoted to Necromancy as a School in the core rules didn't preclude that possibility. :)

This is because the core rules, in transitioning from 1st to 3rd edition, somewhere along the line (I would suspect as a misguided bone being thrown to the religious right) necromancy was redefined as all nasty negative energy, whereas in 1st edition, all healing spells, from Cure Light Wounds to True Resurrection, were necromancy.

This was switched to "conjuration -- healing" which doesn't make much logical sense.

FWIW, many DMs, myself included, ignore this change and use healing as a subset of necromancy where Gygax first put it.

We really do need to get back to the Gygaxian roots where being a Necromancer meant being hated and feared, but not automaticly evil.


We need a unified field tehory for maghic in pathfinder that draws from its D&D roots and codeifies the reasoning behind the theory that defines the rules as writen.

This will alow for decisions about what spell effects are most eficient for a given school at a given power level thus defineing where spesific groupings of spells belong school wise.


Zotpox wrote:
We need a unified field theory for magic in pathfinder

I propose that we use E8xE8. (Props to those who get that)


It would make sense to have all positive and negative energy manipulation, including healing, fall under necromancy.

could be that the positive energy plan is a place of pure enthalpy, that was claimed by the gods of good.
and th negative energy plane is pure entropy, and claimed by the gods of evil.

neither has an alignment, but their dominion is controlled by those who do.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Set wrote:
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Moreover, there are theological questions such as, if a Neutral bear is in the process of eating you child, is it an Evil act to pick up an Evil sword (a nine-lives stealer, for example) if it's all you have handy, using it to kill the bear and save the child?

There some GMs who would rule that even if that person was a paladin, he'd get off scott free, as long as he didn't keep the sword afterwards and promised to feel really bad about it.

That would depend on other questions. Like why is a Paladin keeping a sword so evil it's warping the local wildlife into babyeating monsters? :)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
erik542 wrote:
Zotpox wrote:
We need a unified field theory for magic in pathfinder
I propose that we use E8xE8. (Props to those who get that)

I keep a set of shears around for anyone who mentions string theory.

Contributor

erik542 wrote:


I propose that we use E8xE8.

That's a Lie!

;)


erik542 wrote:
Zotpox wrote:
We need a unified field theory for magic in pathfinder
I propose that we use E8xE8. (Props to those who get that)

An exceptionally simple theory of everything, is what you're shooting for here.


LazarX wrote:
erik542 wrote:
Zotpox wrote:
We need a unified field theory for magic in pathfinder
I propose that we use E8xE8. (Props to those who get that)
I keep a set of shears around for anyone who mentions string theory.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with string theory. Sure there's no experimental for it yet, but the same can be said for the higgs boson or SUSY.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
erik542 wrote:
LazarX wrote:
erik542 wrote:
Zotpox wrote:
We need a unified field theory for magic in pathfinder
I propose that we use E8xE8. (Props to those who get that)
I keep a set of shears around for anyone who mentions string theory.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with string theory. Sure there's no experimental for it yet, but the same can be said for the higgs boson or SUSY.

If I recall correctly, there are now four string theories representing different and irreconcilable theorectical approaches to the problem that string theory was supposed to solve.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

[begin aside]

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

Remember what we've learned from thirty years of D&D: If it has bat wings, tentacles, spider legs, nipple rings, and/or a skull codpiece, it's probably evil.

I like C.S. Lewis' take on that. "It should be (but it is not) unnecessary to add that a belief in angels, whether good or evil, does not mean a belief in either as they are represented in art and literature. Devils are depicted with bats' wings and good angels with birds' wings not because anyone holds that moral deterioration would be likely to turn feathers into membrane, but because most men like birds better than bats. They are given wings at all in order to suggest the swiftness of unimpeded intellectual energy. They are given human form because man is the only rational creature we know. Creatures higher in the natural order than ourselves, either incorporeal or animating bodies of a sort we cannot experience, must be represented symbolically if they are to be represented at all."

[end aside]

I'm going to take a step into Golarion, specifically, with a side-step to something else that shouldn't necessarily be evil.

When I was setting up to run a Play-by-post campaign set in Golarion, one of my players asked: "Is *all* Poison use Evil? What about hunting with poison arrows/darts? Just using a quick-acting poison doesn't seem particularly Evil."

I replied: "You're absolutely right. Poisoning someone to bring a quick end to a long bout of suffering doesn't seem like a bad thing. And poisoning, left to it's own merits, wouldn't be.

"Poison is part of Norgorber's fields of interest. As one of the Ascended, Norgorber is a relatively recent god, and his moral influence over his "portfolio" is less entrenched than other gods'. But it's growing.

"Before Norgorber, poison use was neutral. Nowadays, it belongs to him in his guise as "Blackfingers", and every act of poisoning someone, even out of mercy, has become a small homage to him, and has thus become evil.

"If you're not a cleric or paladin, this probably doesn't make much impact. All the gods are contesting with one another for power. Every time you look at a sunrise, your act strengthens Sarenrae. Every time you hurt yourself, your actions do homage to Zon-kuthon, regardless of your deliberate intentions."

I feel the same way about undead. There's no reson for them to be evil, except that they fall under the dominion of the Pallid Princess, who is herself Evil. Creating even the simplest undead is an act that strengthens Urgathoa. And because they are a result of that act, and because she so wills it, those undead come stamped with "approved by Urgathoa' on them, and are in that way evil.

Contributor

Chris Mortika wrote:

[begin aside]

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

Remember what we've learned from thirty years of D&D: If it has bat wings, tentacles, spider legs, nipple rings, and/or a skull codpiece, it's probably evil.

I like C.S. Lewis' take on that. "It should be (but it is not) unnecessary to add that a belief in angels, whether good or evil, does not mean a belief in either as they are represented in art and literature. Devils are depicted with bats' wings and good angels with birds' wings not because anyone holds that moral deterioration would be likely to turn feathers into membrane, but because most men like birds better than bats. They are given wings at all in order to suggest the swiftness of unimpeded intellectual energy. They are given human form because man is the only rational creature we know. Creatures higher in the natural order than ourselves, either incorporeal or animating bodies of a sort we cannot experience, must be represented symbolically if they are to be represented at all."

[end aside]

I'm going to take a step into Golarion, specifically, with a side-step to something else that shouldn't necessarily be evil.

When I was setting up to run a Play-by-post campaign set in Golarion, one of my players asked: "Is *all* Poison use Evil? What about hunting with poison arrows/darts? Just using a quick-acting poison doesn't seem particularly Evil."

I replied: "You're absolutely right. Poisoning someone to bring a quick end to a long bout of suffering doesn't seem like a bad thing. And poisoning, left to it's own merits, wouldn't be.

"Poison is part of Norgorber's fields of interest. As one of the Ascended, Norgorber is a relatively recent god, and his moral influence over his "portfolio" is less entrenched than other gods'. But it's growing.

"Before Norgorber, poison use was neutral. Nowadays, it belongs to him in his guise as "Blackfingers", and every act of poisoning someone, even out of mercy, has become a small homage to him, and has thus become evil.

"If you're not a...

Wow, following that theology, since Lamashtu acquired the "beasts" domain from Curchanus after she killed him, anyone having anything to do with beast, especially the breeding thereof, is doing homage to the Mother of Monsters. That little girl with her hutch of bunnies? Total Lamashtu priestess material. She's crossbreeding them? Even better! Today it's longer silkier coats, tomorrow it will be talons and death laser eyes!

Similarly, since Cayden Cailean took over "drinking" as one of his hallmarks, to be a totally evil badass, you now have to be a teetotaler, because taking even a small sip of wine while you torture your prisoners and laugh evilly? A tiny sip of goodness and homage to the drunken hero. Next thing you know you'll go on a wild bender and you'll wake up in the morning having saved an orphanage from an evil dragon.

This is quite honestly silly.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

(laughs)

First, Lamashtu is the god of monsters, of misshapen and malformed creatures, not merely "beasts". If you rear mutated, deformed bunnies, interbreeding to select for the strangest attributes, then you would indeed be strengthening Lamashtu.

And yes, drinking a good pint of stout would do credit to the god of ale. Cayden doesn't choose to use his influence to imbue such actions as [Good] or [Chaotic] (perhaps he's not strong enough to do so).

As I say, if you're not a cleric, paladin, inquisitor, etc, this doesn't matter much. If you are a cleric, then you might do well to view some actions as having spiritual ramifications.

Dark Archive

I suppose that, as long as their are lesser dieties who share some of the features of the big twenties, allowing an evil blacksmith to forge items without inadvertantly strengthening Torag (since Droskar is *also* a forge god), that's one of way of looking at it.

I wonder if this is self-reinforcing?

If every legitimate act of trade or commerce empowers or pays homage to Abadar (him getting some sort of spiritual cut of the proceeds, like a divine tax that nobody knows that they are paying), it would follow that any sort of non-lawful or non-regulated 'free market' would be anathema to him, as it would be cheating him out of his due. Since his merchants would invariably be the most successful, the ones running the large merchant houses, with their fingers on the purse-strings of society and the aristocracy, etc, etc. business and trade would be *exactingly* and scrupulously regulated. Back alley deals and black market trades and smuggling and piracy would be more than merely illegal, they would be blasphemous, and any ruler who wants to stay on good lending terms with *the guys who own the bank* is going to ruthlessly crack down on anyone who shaves a coin or smuggles goods across a border checkpoint.

In a setting with this sort of paradigm, which is a very cool idea, using Abadar as an example, the merchants of society would be the most law-abiding folk you'd ever meet, many times more reliable and honest and scrupulous than any governing body.

Similarly, in a setting with no undead-tolerant non-evil god(dess) of death, like Nemorga or Wee Jas, you'd have what we already seem to have in Golarion, a setting in which the undead are evil. Even if they are mindless and incapable of malice or volition, they are evil because Pharasma (the only non-evil death god in the setting) doesn't like them. Any sort of ghost story of mothers coming back to protect their children, or children comforting their grieving parents and helping them get on with their lives, or Patrick Swayze coming back to save his girlfriend, are not viable stories in such a setting, because if someone defies death out of love or compassion or a sense of justice unfulfilled, it doesn't matter, Pharasma has washed her hands of them and given them all straight over to Urgathoa, damning them regardless of their intentions.

It is kinda neat that drinking is associated with 'good' and sex is associated with lawless behavior, due to figures like Cayden and Calistria.

Since Asmodeus appears to be the patron of law and obedience for it's own sake (unlike Torag, Iomedae and Erastil, who are lawful, but aren't explicitly gods *of* law and order, crime and punishment), any sort of law that isn't specifically related to commerce (and thus under Abadar's purview) is inherently evil, self-serving and tyrannical.

With Norgorber, the patron of secrets, society might also frown upon the notion of keeping something a secret 'for their own good.' Little white lies or sins of omission or 'let's tell her that Fluffy went to live with a nice family across town, and not that she got crushed by an ox-cart and pooped out her intestines over three agonizing hours...' would be explicitly evil acts, as they serve to empower the god who also is the god of murder, poisoning and politicians.

It would make for an interesting set of societal values;

Love and appreciation of beauty = good (Shelyn)
Physical attraction and desire = dangerous and associated with betrayal and treachery (Calistria)
Travelers = lawless folk, not to be trusted, rootless dreamers with their heads in the clouds and more likely to be thieving gypsies than hardworking honest folk (Desna)
Craftsmen, especially smiths = honest, hardworking, admirable people (Torag)
Drunkards = cheerful freedom-loving good-hearted folk. Only a crazy or dishonest judge would convict a drunken man of stealing a lady's honor, since the state of inebriation is a holy state that brings one closer to the breaker of chains, who is the very opposite of someone who would impose their will upon another (Cayden)
Merchants = always honest, scrupulously fair, the sort of person you could hand your coin-purse to and wander off for an hour, knowing that even if you've never met this merchant, he'll seek you out to return it (Abadar) Caveat: Unless it's one of those godless Kalistrade merchants. Never trust one of them. And, since nobody buys their stuff, they obviously must be using some evil shenanigans to make all that money...
Judges, lawmakers, political figures = evil folk, out to twist the words of the law to their own ends (Asmodeus) or just in it for the power to jerk people around (Norgorber)
Male warriors = dangerous berserkers, more interested in blood and glory and the 'thrill' of violence than any notion of 'just war' (Gorum)
Female warriors = noble seekers after justice and honor, the best of the best, chivalry personified (Iomedae)

The 'traveller = gypsy' thing may tread a little too close on real world prejudices against the Roma, but the various other associations seem like they could make for a very different set of societal expectations than the sorts we've seen in our own history.

That's kinda neat. It gets muddier if the expectations aren't followed, as that casts a poor light on the gods themselves, and diminishes the respect that the common man has for them (a dishonest merchant, for instance, makes Abadar's patronage of them appear to be supportive of deceptive business practices, and could lead to people losing faith in the Banker). The gods might therefore be strongly motivated to maintain these associations/preconceptions, and one of the jobs of Abadaran clergy might be to make sure that dishonest business practices are stamped out ASAP, and, as much as possible, that word of them doesn't spread too far and sully the honest name of Abadar. Similarly, a cleric of Cayden who learns of a local drunkard who assaulted a woman while drunk might find it not just morally necessary, but a doctrine of faith, to deal with that offender immediately and harshly, to demonstrate that the Drunken God doesn't make apologies for that sort of thing, that 'I was drunk' never becomes an excuse for monstrous behavior.

Shadow Lodge

Continuing that line of logic, though, that would mean that:

The acts of hunting and farming are inherently Good and Lawful (Erastil), as is trade outside of normal monetary transactions.
Having a nightmare unwittingly supports evil (Lamashtu), whether or not its by choice.
Natural disasters, any act of destruction, and even getting angry would support the cause of evil (Rovagug), meaning you'd have to have an amazingly self-controlled world.
Telling the truth would be inherently good, as would healing and looking at the sun (Sarenrae).
Getting sick, losing somebody or something, feeling pain, even the sun going down or eating too much are all inherently evil acts (Urgathoa, Zon-Kuthon).

Expanding into the additional Gods:

Accidentally dying is evil (Zyphus)
Working hard is also evil (Droskar)
Sports and competition are good (Kurgess)
Hope is inherently good (Milani)

And that's without looking to the Demon Lords, the Archdevils, the Empyreal Lords, and the Arch Daemons.

It would be an interesting world to play in, though, where every single act you made supported this deity or that. It would also muddy trying to figure out people's alignments. Example: The Judge or Political Figure who never lies (i.e. Honest Abe Lincoln). Is he inherently good for telling the truth or inherently evil for being in politics?

Fun, but potentially messy. :)


jlighter wrote:
And that's without looking to the Demon Lords, the Archdevils, the Empyreal Lords, and the Arch Daemons.

Being hungry is evil! Mwahaha! If lunch is late, you're mine! Mine I say!

*noms on one of the Hunted*

Shadow Lodge

Trelmarixian the Black wrote:
jlighter wrote:
And that's without looking to the Demon Lords, the Archdevils, the Empyreal Lords, and the Arch Daemons.

Being hungry is evil! Mwahaha! If lunch is late, you're mine! Mine I say!

*noms on one of the Hunted*

Here's a question. Where's the deity who's portfolio is Eating, Breathing, Sleeping, and Other Bodily Functions? What alignment is this deity? Clearly that would be the over-riding alignment of the world.

My guess? Said deity is evil.


jlighter wrote:


Here's a question. Where's the deity who's portfolio is Eating, Breathing, Sleeping, and Other Bodily Functions? What alignment is this deity? Clearly that would be the over-riding alignment of the world.

My guess? Said deity is evil.

All bow before the might of Lord Mitochondrion!

Portfolio: ATP
Obedience: Just Sitting There and Living, Holding Disdain for and Lording It Over Prokaryotes

;)

Contributor

jlighter wrote:
Trelmarixian the Black wrote:
jlighter wrote:
And that's without looking to the Demon Lords, the Archdevils, the Empyreal Lords, and the Arch Daemons.

Being hungry is evil! Mwahaha! If lunch is late, you're mine! Mine I say!

*noms on one of the Hunted*

Here's a question. Where's the deity who's portfolio is Eating, Breathing, Sleeping, and Other Bodily Functions? What alignment is this deity? Clearly that would be the over-riding alignment of the world.

My guess? Said deity is evil.

So is "I seek the Shrine of Rovagug" a euphemism for "Which way to the outhouse?"? Or do all outhouses double as shrines of Rovagug, since they open onto dark pits of evil blackness from which hopefully nothing ever escapes?

It would also be the inherent moral dilemma of this world that the more beer you drink, thus worshipping Cayden Cailean, the more you would need to go visit the Shrine of Rovagug to relieve yourself of excess goodness and blessedness.

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