What is Evil?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I find the alignment system works great. The trick is to

  • Let players have fun.
  • Prevent players from feeling persecuted or restricted.
  • For those classes which ARE restricted, collaborate with them to create a dramatic narrative you both will enjoy.
  • For any alignment issues, collaborate to create a dramatic narrative your group will enjoy.

  • Silver Crusade

    Steve Geddes wrote:


    Let me first reiterate that I'm speaking about good/evil in the world, not the concepts in PF with the same names. Having said that:

    This exposition is certainly clearer, except now it appears that your contrasting torture with battlefield murder is merely a comparison of one contextless evil act with an evil act with an implied context. If you don't consider the two qualitatively different, I don't really see a problem with your view - you and I don't seem very far apart on the issue. Having said that, note that you aren't really providing discussion on good versus evil so much as highlighting the difference between morality and ethics.

    Steve--

    The dictionary definitions between morals, morality, and ethics overlap quite a bit. As I've seen them used in practice, especially in philosophy and ethics classes here in the U.S., the difference seems to be that "Ethics" refers to the theory, systems, philosophies, ideas, etc., trying to define what is "right and wrong" and/or "good and evil" in human conduct and affairs, and "Morals/Morality" refers to "right and wrong"/"good and evil" conduct in actual practice (what people actually do). That's usually the way I've used them (now I may have that messed up a little, it's been a few years since my last philosophy class).

    But I think we are largely in agreement on where things end up, although we are apparently using some of the basic terms a little bit differently, from what you say in this post.

    Steve Geddes wrote:


    As I've seen the terms used, morality refers to a conflict between good and evi. Moral questions are usually pretty easy and uncontroversial:

    Is it wrong to kill? To steal? To lie? To cheat?

    You're quite right to put torture in this group of "evil acts" but you should also include hurting an enemy soldier (sans context).

    Sans context, I do include hurting someone, including even hurting an enemy, as basically an "evil act". So, yes, I agree with you on this (also on the comment on torture and battlefield murder, noted earlier in your post).

    Steve Geddes wrote:


    Ethical questions arise when there is a conflict between two goods (or if it's necessary to choose between two evils):

    Should you steal to feed your starving family? Should you provide incriminating evidence to the police about your boss if you believe them innocent? Is it ok to kill if you think your child's life is in danger? What if they're just likely to get seriously injured?

    Seen in this light, torture and battlefield violence are not qualitatively different, in my view, although I agree with you that there is an implied context in a war setting greatly mitigating the evil act of violence - a context generally missing from most torture scenarios. Nonetheless, each act is wrong, without context, but may be justifiable - and even mandated, in the correct, admittedly extreme, circumstances.

    Yes, I agree with you here as well. That is what I was trying to get at. :)

    Steve Geddes wrote:


    All of that was "real world good and evil" (or at least some of my views on it). To tie it back to the issue of in-game alignment:

    The problem is that PF has real, genuine, incontrovertible good and evil. This is much more closely allied with the topic of morality than ethics (as outlined above), but most discussions about what makes a character evil or good generally focussed on actions - which always have a context and hence are more properly seen as ethical judgements. (note that questions never arise as to whether a stealing, lying, cheating murderer is good or evil - its always in the context of tension between two inconsistent moral principles).

    I think that "good and evil" in the sense of what a character is/does, should take into account more of the context rather than be a rigid shopping list, judging acts outside of the context they occur in, as we do in considering real world actions; and as we do in addressing the tension between inconsistent moral principles. I do think how you handle these issues in PF is open to a great deal of interpretation.

    Steve Geddes wrote:


    Bit of a ramble, I'm afraid. Still - show me a tightly controlled and focussed alignment discussion anywhere. :p

    Don't think I've ever seen a focused discussion of alignment anywhere either. :D

    Silver Crusade

    Malignor wrote:

    From what I gather in your response to Atarlost, you're saying that the lesser evil is okay "in the context of" preventing greater evil.

    That falls directly under the unbrella of "the end justifies the means" ... if you use evil means (torture) to prevent a greater evil (genocide), than the torture isn't evil.

    This backward justification goes against most moral standards, real and fantastic.

    Malignor--

    It violates Kant's theory. It violates Aquinas's theory. There's a few other ethical theories (which is what people use to define morality) that it violates. There are many RL philosophers and theorists who have proposed and presented ethical theories that my thoughts on the matter are either in agreement with, or who really do go for the "end justifies the means", which I do not.

    The "ends justify the means" works, IMO, only in excusing necessary, least harmful actions, if there are no entirely good means that can be used in a situation-- especially since most moral theorists are in agreement that doing nothing is an evil choice, if by doing nothing you allow evil ends to happen.

    A full acceptance of the "ends justify the means" idea, implies that the "ends justify any means" to achieve the desired results-- which is quite different from what I've been arguing; and for which you'd be only mostly correct anyway-- most moral theorists have condemned the "ends justify the means" when taken as an absolute, excusing all actions so long as your ultimate intentions are good, and I agree with them. Even then, there are still some moralists out there who think that any means are okay, so long as you get good results.

    Malignor wrote:


    Now, I'd like to point out that your targeting of my arguments is under false pretenses. If you look back, I say that the RAW absolute "torture = evil" is oversimplified and broken, and my comments on that are what you are attempting to contradict.

    I see no act being evil in an absolute sense, so we are in agreement and should have no quarrel.

    I'm in agreement with the rest of your statements in this post. I'm a little surprised that in the post you responded to, you did not see that I was agreeing with you and acknowledging an earlier error in how I'd interpreted one of your posts.

    The only potential disagreement I found here, is in the need to clarify my stance on "justifying lesser evils", as I do not believe that "the end justifies the means" can be used in an absolutist sense to justify any means (and to observe that there's quite a bit of variation on that subject in moral theories out there)-- if you agree with me on that, then no, there's no disagreement here.


    Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
    Finn Kveldulfr wrote:
    Various things I basically agree with, barring terminology.

    As is typical in philosophical discussions, we've just used lots of words to agree with one another. (Have you ever heard of Quietism? It's always struck me as a particularly pleasing outlook).

    ----

    The disconnect I see with PF's version of alignment is the whole concept of an 'inherently evil person' doesnt really gel with the real world. As you say (and I agree with you):

    Quote:
    I think that "good and evil" in the sense of what a character is/does, should take into account more of the context rather than be a rigid shopping list...

    and yet, PF has alignment as some detectable, intrinsic property of an entity - even if he's sitting quietly in a chair, hasnt done anything bad for a month and isnt going to do anything bad for the rest of his life (short as it may be, now that the paladin has detected his evilness).

    This disconnect is, in my opinion, why it's so hard to reconcile game concepts of alignment with our moral intuitions. Sneaking up on the demon and garroting it feels evil - even though, I would argue, it could be easily justified within a game as the righteous course of action.


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    What is love?


    Madak wrote:
    What is love?

    The state of valuing another over self as indicated by willingness to engage in hazardous or disapproved of activities for the benefit of the other.

    That which motivates the dirty hands theory.


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    What is evil?

    I am. >:)

    Silver Crusade

    Steve Geddes wrote:

    (Have you ever heard of Quietism? It's always struck me as a particularly pleasing outlook).

    I don't think I had heard of Quietism before you mentioned it... just took a quick look, and it seems interesting. I'll look into it in more detail in and around getting my school work done.


    My 2 silver...
    Read an article awhile ago about the alignment system which was very interesting but I found relevant and still use. I wish I still had the link available. It separated the two axises of alignment, and I will try to sum up the good vs. evil. To make things clearer I will use new terms to isolate the ideas. Good is now universal, neutral is now relational, and evil is now personal. These terms describe how the characters of these alignment types judge an action to be taken and that action's benefits.


    • Universal (Good) - Seeks to optimize the benefit of any action for every person involved. Even people that are not present, or the character know nothing about. Killing is generally not universal because it does not benefit the person being killed (who we do care about), and is often only justified when doing so tremendously benefits a lot of other people. A good person would kill his brother the serial killer to save the lives of his future victims.
    • Relational (Neutral) - Seeks to optimize the benefit of any action for other people depending on how those people are related to himself. Usually, these results in a kind of tier-system. Relational characters want to provide the greatest benefit to the self, then family, then friends, then acquaintances, then everyone else. Relational characters are often willing to harm those opposed to them and have no interest in benefiting them. They are also callous (or at least indifferent) towards those they do not know. A neutral person will not kill his brother the serial killer because it only harms someone he cares about (family) and only harms people he does not care about (unknown victims).
    • Personal (Evil) - Seeks to optimize benefits for the self only. Any harm to others doesn't matter to the personal character. This is best modeled by those acts which deal harm indiscriminately to others for the personal character's benefit, but, really, any purely selfish act is evil. An evil person will kills his brother serial killer provided he has more to benefit for himself than to lose for himself.

    It was an interesting read. I especially enjoyed the separation of neutral from just being neutral.


    I like to start with what people do not want to have done to them. Generally, then, you get being hurt or killed, forced to act a certain way (whether physically or through other means such as threats or blackmail), losing things you consider yours (through vandalism or theft, for example), or being imprisoned one way or another. These are blows against the basics, i.e. bodily integrity, integrity of agency, economic integrity and the possibility of leaving. This is not very complex. All of these things are universally considered "bad things". It only becomes complex when you expand the scene. For example, if you love someone, you're not likely to be happy if that person is hurt or killed. Nor does being hurt need to be a physical thing. Getting slandered or publicly ridiculed is generally described as being far worse than just physical pain. Not getting relevant and known information to base your decisions on, or being lied to, limits your integrity of agency. Even so, you can usually boil down a situation to one or more of the above.

    Actions that offend against another person in these ways can be assumed to be evil, as long as there is intent behind the act.

    There are exceptions, of course. If you cut open someone's stomach to cure their cancer, that's a perfectly good mitigating factor. Hitting someone who actually wants to be beaten is generally okay (notice that in this case, agency trumps bodily integrity). In most cases, these exceptions are obvious.

    The most common gray area is when one person (A) wants to do something that hurts another (B) in one of the above ways, claiming that the good A wants to achieve through this outweighs the harm done to B. The ends justify the means, it's typically called. The way I see it, there are situations where it may be so, but the ends do not really enter into it. What is relevant is the harm done to B. If it is very small, then it may be okay. Note that this is called up when B explicitly does not care about A's goal. Implying that B doesn't understand the situation is the standard tactic for all would-be visionaries and tyrants. If in doubt, always go with this as an example of truly vicious evil. What A is saying is that B's suffering is of no consequence. People like that can just as easily define anyone's suffering as meaningless.

    Another situation that usually comes up is if the situation is extreme. If there is a tornado coming, and your wife stands in your way, is it okay to chuck her away, knowing she will not survive? This is a classic, and very dangerous, gray area. After seeing what our current crop of inbred politicians have used this argument for, I would say it's far too dangerous to allow them more wiggle room because the situation is extreme. You see - they will make the situation extreme to achieve that wiggle room. If we are talking about personal situations, I don't think there is a general way to deal with it. Perhaps it is just better to define the situation some way and stick with it. Chucking your wife into a tornado might be evil, and yet should perhaps not carry punitive weight? There is a difference between law and good, obviously, and this is where you see it most clearly.

    What is fascinating is that the philosophical underpinnings of evil are so simple, and the arguments so few. Chief among them is, as I said above, "The ends justify the means". Exile any politician who says those words or any variation thereof, and I truly believe the world will be a better place.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Ashiel wrote:
    Ruggs wrote:

    DnD has absolutes so that my game-time doesn't turn into philosophical-argument time.

    Unless that's what I want my game to be, of course.

    I have found nothing except the exact opposite effect. In games without absolutes, I have never had an alignment argument. The problem is that absolutes always lead to absolute absurdity; just like Malignor points out.

    I've to date have yet to see an alignment argument in any D&D/Pathfinder game I've played or run. A couple of discussions, but nothing with anything major riding on it. Then again, Paladins tend to be relatively rare birds in the groups I run with and when you don't have a Paladin around or someone looking to unleash their inner sociopath, that's 90+ percent of alignment arguments avoided.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Steve Geddes wrote:
    and yet, PF has alignment as some detectable, intrinsic property of an entity - even if he's sitting quietly in a chair, hasnt done anything bad for a month and isnt going to do anything bad for the rest of his life (short as it may be, now that the paladin has detected his evilness).

    That's not true.. the average human of evil alignment won't ping on an Paladin's radar unless one or more of the following conditions is met.

    1. He's very high level... (in which case he's probably not been a good boy for that month.

    2. He's an Anti-Paladin (ditto the above and square it.)

    3. He's a cleric of an evil aligned god. (which means he's done something evil in the service of his CHOSEN patron... or he's a lousy cleric) Note that evil oracles themselves don't radiate unless they're very powerful.

    4. Or in Arcanis he's carrying a magic item form the long dead Myrantian Empire, in which case he's just an ignorant fool.

    The corrupt butcher on the other hand who's done nothing more than shorting his customers isn't going to ping.

    Paladins however who just sword swinging in a civilised community without any provocation however will find themselves answering to local authorities.


    Finn Kveldulfr wrote:
    Steve Geddes wrote:

    (Have you ever heard of Quietism? It's always struck me as a particularly pleasing outlook).

    I don't think I had heard of Quietism before you mentioned it... just took a quick look, and it seems interesting. I'll look into it in more detail in and around getting my school work done.

    I never heard of it until this thread, either.

    After reading up on it, I think I may have been practicing it for the last decade...


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    Regarding detect evil, there are two main ways of having it function, through the editions. Either it detects intrinsic evil, i.e. this person IS evil, or it detects evil INTENT, i.e. this person WILL do evil. The current version chooses the first, but pings only for "big" evils, which is an acceptable solution.

    However, compare these two, and you will see problems.

    If evil is intrinsic (and not only for big evil), then you can possibly kill off all the evils in a community, isolate it, and then live happily ever after. While this would be an evil act, of course, you might think it was worth the sacrifice? Under this system, otherwise, a paladin or cleric who detects evil will know someone is evil, but this in and of itself gives them no right to kill them.

    If evil intent is registered, however, things go from bad to worse very quickly. If a paladin with this ability sees that someone is evil, it's not just that they COULD kill that person, they would be virtually certainly justified in doing so!

    As a DM, this would become a very serious problem. The second system promotes the bloodthirsty and righteous paladin image, the first promotes a somewhat lighter touch. With intrinsic evil, you will use the system to know who is evil and who is not, giving you a hint on who to trust, but nothing absolute. This is far better than the Find-the-villain-and-smash-him (tm) system of evil intent.


    LazarX wrote:
    Ashiel wrote:
    Ruggs wrote:

    DnD has absolutes so that my game-time doesn't turn into philosophical-argument time.

    Unless that's what I want my game to be, of course.

    I have found nothing except the exact opposite effect. In games without absolutes, I have never had an alignment argument. The problem is that absolutes always lead to absolute absurdity; just like Malignor points out.
    I've to date have yet to see an alignment argument in any D&D/Pathfinder game I've played or run. A couple of discussions, but nothing with anything major riding on it. Then again, Paladins tend to be relatively rare birds in the groups I run with and when you don't have a Paladin around or someone looking to unleash their inner sociopath, that's 90+ percent of alignment arguments avoided.

    That's because 90+ % of alignment is effectively ignored at that point.

    Shadow Lodge

    What absolutes does D&D have?

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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    I removed some "popcorn" posts.


    TOZ wrote:
    What absolutes does D&D have?

    Preferably none. Why limit your creativity and conceptual imagination with absolutes? There's also the fact that extremes and absolutes rarely, if ever, work. There are very few absolutes.

    Richard Dawkins, a very brilliant man, comments on Absolute Morality derived from religious systems; and how absolutism is rarely effective. Absolute morality doesn't work very well. It definitely doesn't work very well in the game that's supposed to be fun and be capable of showcasing a huge variety of character concepts from shallow to deep.

    What good is a morality system at all if you are effectively going to ignore it except in the case of Paladins and such, stamp absolutes onto things, and then champion it as being this great system because your group doesn't have any Paladins and such?

    Note: While Richard Dawkins is an athiest, I am not. Even I can see the logic in his words however. Absolutes rarely are.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Again on groups that actually act in the default heroic matter, alignment isn't really going to be a major issue. It's almost always in the corner cases where players are looking to roleplay jerks and slide it past, that most of the dreaded "alignment debates come up." Especially in the case of the one player who insists on playing a paladin with a group of players who'd rather be knaves and cads.

    Most so-called alignment issues are really player issues.


    LazarX wrote:
    on groups that actually act in the default heroic matter, alignment isn't really going to be a major issue.

    I'm inclined to agree with you here.

    LazarX wrote:
    It's almost always in the corner cases where players are looking to roleplay jerks and slide it past, that most of the dreaded "alignment debates come up."

    I'm disinclined to agree with your generalization here. If I'm CN and the rest of the party is some for of Good or Lawful is quite easy to get along. If there is a problem, then it is not with Alignment. It is more likely a social issue with the people at the table.

    LazarX wrote:
    Especially in the case of the one player who insists on playing a paladin with a group of players who'd rather be knaves and cads.

    Even in this case, cads and knaves can work with the Paladin if their players choose to make it happen. There needs to be give and take on both sides and the DM needs to take a break with the Fallen Pally Hammer.

    Shadow Lodge

    Ashiel wrote:
    TOZ wrote:
    What absolutes does D&D have?
    Preferably none.

    I'm trying to think of some, and I'm not having any luck, hence the question.


    TOZ wrote:
    Ashiel wrote:
    TOZ wrote:
    What absolutes does D&D have?
    Preferably none.
    I'm trying to think of some, and I'm not having any luck, hence the question.

    D&D has no absolutes, only DMs who implement them.


    I suppose Rule 0 might be considered D&D's single absolute, but that doesn't have much to do with the thread topic, does it?


    LazarX wrote:
    I've to date have yet to see an alignment argument in any D&D/Pathfinder game I've played or run. A couple of discussions, but nothing with anything major riding on it. Then again, Paladins tend to be relatively rare birds in the groups I run with and when you don't have a Paladin around or someone looking to unleash their inner sociopath, that's 90+ percent of alignment arguments avoided.

    To actually have an alignment issue with a group requires a couple of uncommon things, first is a strict adherence of alignment, second is a differing view of alignments which is rare when social gatherings in real life generally share similar experiences and similar views of alignment, and third a situation where alignment actually comes up and is important which is rare enough on its own.

    There are many games that could be run where you it doesn't matter if there is a mechanic for alignment.

    Most people will agree that causing another suffering for fun or for profit is evil.

    Those corner cases pop up when:

  • Profit is vague - Is it "profit" to save your yourself or others? or is it justified?
  • What point is suffering? - How far is too far? Is it worse to punish someone or kill them? Is there a point where suffering is acceptable or is even the slightest amount of suffering evil?
  • Is anyone actually suffering? - This only comes up when dealing with undead or the worship of an evil deity, where the actual act does not directly create suffering but it's implied that the act may aid in evil acts.

    It should be rare if this kind of discussion actually happens if ever because players are usually respectable enough and know their GM well enough what flies and doesn't fly. Most people don't want to be that player.


  • Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
    Most people don't want to be that player.

    Not saying you're wrong, but the ones who want to really really want to.

    I can think of one guy who always played a thief or assassin so he could at some point kill the party and take all their stuff. Why? Because getting all the toys is worth having no one to play with, I guess.


    I'd be very interested in hearing more about that article on Neutrality as Relational, etc.

    How many of you conflate honor/good and dishonor/evil? Because while the two overlap, I don't know that what is dishonorable is always evil or that what is good is always honorable.


    cranewings wrote:

    I love this thread.

    To me, good is in people who exhibit joy, pride, or satisfaction at altruistic, group behavior. If they help other people and feel good about it, and at the same time hate injustice, they are good.

    Evil then, isn't just the absence of good, but the opposite. An evil character derives pleasure, pride, or satisfaction from hurting or imposing his will on other people. Beating someone up in a bar for no reason isn't evil in and of itself. Deriving positive feelings from having done it is.

    Neutrality on the other hand can be anything from detachment to out and out selfishness. Neutral characters can behave like either good or evil ones, but the difference is that they do not derive pleasure from either helping or hurting other people. They may derive pleasure from improving their station, gaining gold or possessions, looking good, being praised, creating order or chaos depending, or any number of other things. What they don't gain pleasure from is helping or hurting people directly.

    There are a LOT more selfish neutral characters when I GM than their are outright evil ones. There are a ton of people who will steal, kill, overreact to injustice with terrible violence or lie to get something they want, but they aren't doing it because they enjoy hurting people. They just want to look out for number one.

    I can't discuss evil without putting it in relation to good and neutrality.

    I think this is the best description of Good/Evil/Neutral I've seen. It's basically how I've view put into words.


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    Kuma wrote:

    I'd be very interested in hearing more about that article on Neutrality as Relational, etc.

    How many of you conflate honor/good and dishonor/evil? Because while the two overlap, I don't know that what is dishonorable is always evil or that what is good is always honorable.

    IMO honor vs dishonor is a law vs chaos issue rather than a good vs evil one; then again, I've read way to many samurai comics.

    I think Law and Good have more in common than Chaos and Good (ditto Chaos and Evil respectively), but Chaotic Good is a perfectly valid lifestyle, if you see what I mean.

    Edit: After 30+ years of playing D&D i'm still undecided as to whether law-neutral-chaos and good-neutral-evil are the same kind of neutral. I have however decided that 6 angels can dance on the head of a pin. That's the answer: six.


    Ragnarok Aeon wrote:

    I'm hoping to actually get into the minds of those who advocate their vision of alignment, so I'd really like this to not devolve into a flame war. I don't need to give background, we all know background, but what's missing is the reasoning. Asking to verify is fair game, but do please do not insult another poster (calling them dense, ignorant, etc). Do not call another poster "wrong" as that is subjective, this a thread to expand and try to understand eachother's reasoning. This is not the thread to discuss whether or not alignment belongs in the game. This is to understand how players and GMs view these alignments.

    I'm going to issue a simple challenge:

  • Define Evil
  • Simple, but people confuse evil and jerk.

    Quote:


    Of the following, what is evil, why is it evil or not evil, and if it is evil how does it fit into the previous statement of evil?

  • Killing in General
  • Killing an innocent being (Define innocent being please)
  • Torture
  • Selfishness
  • Stealing / Looting
  • Poison
  • Dishonesty
  • Controlling Someone Else (ie. authority or geas)
  • Slavery
  • Threats / Intimidation
  • Worshiping an evil deity
  • Undead
  • Demons / Devils
  • Summoning / Creating "evil" entities to work for you

    If at the very least, I hope this can bring us to see how others can have such varying definitions of "evil".

  • 1) No. Situational. Killing in self defense, protecting others, etc are allowed (though may not be legal)

    2) Yes, if we define innocent as done nothing toward you.
    This is why serial killers are evil. They kill even though the target has done nothing bad to them.
    A scholl shooting where a bully is killed isn't a innocent: they terrorized the kid causing emotional harm. But the deed is unlawful though not evil but itself (unless he kills innoxents as well)
    3) Yes.
    4) Leads to evil, but not evil by itself.
    5) Not by itself, but can cause harm and lead to evil.
    6) No. Pallys don't do it because it leads to Chaos.
    7) No just not honorable.
    8) Not by itself.
    9) Not by itself. Abusive slave owners would be. But a slave is like a car: who treats their car bad?
    10) No, they are jerkish, but not evil by themselves.
    11) Obviously leads to evil. The "friends" you keep will over time influence you.
    12) Depends on the undead. Mindless should be neutral with evil subtype. Minds should be evil if Always evil (leaving 1% non-evil but unlikely)
    13) Yes, because they are evil incarnates.
    14) No, for summoning: it is completely unable to do anything you do not tell it. No chance for error (unless DM is a jerk).
    Calling is more dangerous as it isn't 100% under your power (barring Gate).
    Niether is aligned as an act, but calling is more dangerous/leads to evil.


    Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
    LazarX wrote:
    Steve Geddes wrote:
    and yet, PF has alignment as some detectable, intrinsic property of an entity - even if he's sitting quietly in a chair, hasnt done anything bad for a month and isnt going to do anything bad for the rest of his life (short as it may be, now that the paladin has detected his evilness).

    That's not true.. the average human of evil alignment won't ping on an Paladin's radar unless one or more of the following conditions is met.

    1. He's very high level... (in which case he's probably not been a good boy for that month.

    2. He's an Anti-Paladin (ditto the above and square it.)

    3. He's a cleric of an evil aligned god. (which means he's done something evil in the service of his CHOSEN patron... or he's a lousy cleric) Note that evil oracles themselves don't radiate unless they're very powerful.

    4. Or in Arcanis he's carrying a magic item form the long dead Myrantian Empire, in which case he's just an ignorant fool.

    The corrupt butcher on the other hand who's done nothing more than shorting his customers isn't going to ping.

    Paladins however who just sword swinging in a civilised community without any provocation however will find themselves answering to local authorities.

    it is true, but I may not have said what you thought I did. "An entity" wasn't intended to mean every entity - I was referring to the fact that there are some entities for which it is true.

    I didn't mean every evil person detects as evil. I meant that Finn's view of alignment as context-driven, property-of-actions-taken-in-various-circumstances doesn't gel with the idea that the evil high priest, whose done nothing bad for a month, sitting quietly drinking his hot chocolate with no nefarious schemes in the offing -is intrinsically evil in the game. Objectively so, since it shows up to anyone able to detect evil.


    Hitdice wrote:


    IMO honor vs dishonor is a law vs chaos issue rather than a good vs evil one

    I can certainly understand why you'd say that but I think there are examples in which at least a few people would say cowardice or avarice are evil by their very nature; no matter how the person who does it feels. Which is a problem I have with Cranewings "selfish neutral" characters. Someone who selflessly aids others without getting the warm fuzzies seems ultra-good to me. Philosophers have suggested that there can be no truly selfless act (or that all acts are selfish) because there are so many benefits, including emotional ones, that are inherent to helping others. Someone who didn't possess empathy or any other beneficial reaction but still did good would suggest to me that they innately WERE good - like Outsiders. Neutral Good maybe, but very, very good. Likewise, despite the fact that he doesn't get a kick out of it, someone who slaughters other people might be considered especially evil if they did so with no reaction whatsoever. A cold-hearted man doesn't sound like a neutral man to me. Again, perhaps something like Neutral Evil.

    Sorry to ramble.

    Hitdice wrote:

    I think Law and Good have more in common than Chaos and Good (ditto Chaos and Evil respectively), but Chaotic Good is a perfectly valid lifestyle, if you see what I mean.

    I see what you intend, but you kind of make my point for me. You are suggesting that honor and Law share a special relationship, then that Law and Good share a special relationship. And, I infer, the reverse of Chaos/Dishonor/Evil.

    While I feel that someone with honor has some unique hurdles to overcome (see Paladin classics: What do I do when the law is WRONG?)in a Lawful society, I don't really want to make an argument about why I disagree with your suggestion that honor is connected to law or dishonor to chaos. Likewise, the idea that chaos and law are inherently linked to evil or good is completely impenetrable to me but I'm more interested in my original question regarding honor and good. It seems to me that even if you came to it through a couple of steps I don't agree with, you're still freely mixing the idea of honor and good.

    Hitdice wrote:
    I have however decided that 6 angels can dance on the head of a pin. That's the answer: six.

    Good to know.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Honor vs. Dishonor effects good newt and evil differently.

    A good character who prizes honor too highly is indager of choosing honor over justice, integrity, humility and so on. A neutral character has less issue with integrity or humility.


    I would say a certain degree of balance on the law/chaos scale is a prerequisite to good.

    The law/chaos scale goes from statism to legalism to balance to (classical) liberalism to anarchy. The extremes of statism and anarchy are incompatible with good. They may be incompatible with even neutrality.

    Statism is mass slavery and one of the greatest evils conceivable. Anarchy is the denial of the bonds and duties owed to fellow thinking beings. One cannot be other than evil while advocating that dog eat dog is not only the way the world is, but the way it should be.

    Silver Crusade

    Steve Geddes wrote:


    I didn't mean every evil person detects as evil. I meant that Finn's view of alignment as context-driven, property-of-actions-taken-in-various-circumstances doesn't gel with the idea that the evil high priest, whose done nothing bad for a month, sitting quietly drinking his hot chocolate with no nefarious schemes in the offing -is intrinsically evil in the game. Objectively so, since it shows up to anyone able to detect evil.

    I do find the question of the "detect" spells a little bit troubling... however, I might conclude that the EHP would ping on a "detect evil" spell in the above situation anyway, for two reasons...

    1. As a fully-empowered Priest of an Evil Deity... he has the 'stench' of his Deity's magic and loaned power hanging around him (the in-game explanation of the "aura" evil Clerics and Anti-Paladins have).

    2. He may not have done anything evil in a month or more. He may not have any current plans for nefarious deeds in the offing... however, the fact that he has already crossed multiple "moral-event horizons" and has absolutely no qualms about committing acts that are thoroughly evil in context at the proverbial "drop of a hat" (and contrariwise has no inclination to help anyone else out of a tight spot) might indicate that his soul is still very very dark-- even though he's presently not availing himself of opportunities to "do wrong" unto others.

    Just a thought on how that might work, within my views on the alignment. On the other hand-- if ya wanna leave "detect evil" as something that detects active evil intent, not simply passive tendencies or the weight of past deeds... then this EHP, quietly sipping his cocoa in the corner, shouldn't ping on the spell. :)


    Kuma wrote:

    I'd be very interested in hearing more about that article on Neutrality as Relational, etc.

    How many of you conflate honor/good and dishonor/evil? Because while the two overlap, I don't know that what is dishonorable is always evil or that what is good is always honorable.

    To answer that question from the article's perspective you have to understand how the author construes the law/chaos axis of alignment. I can do another quick summary. I will again use new terms. Law is Defined, Neutral is Intention, and Chaos is Result. These terms describe how the characters of these alignment types judge an action to be taken by that action's nature.

    • Defined (Lawful) - Chooses actions which are defined by their code of laws to be acceptable or required, and does not take actions which are forbidden or taboo. The code of laws need not be legal or written. It can be simply internal or taught, but these rules are inviolate none the less. Defined characters avoid forbidden actions because they are wrong, and not for fear of any sort of punishment. In fact, a defined character is likely to willing accept punishment for their actions because that is part of the established code. A lawful person would not kill his brother the serial killer as fratricide is forbidden unless dictated by the laws of punishment for the crimes he committed.

    • Intention (Neutral) - Chooses actions which are most aligned with their own intentions. This is tied more to the moral axis, which makes it harder to explain clearly. Essentially, any action is judged off of what they expect the impact to be to the others who matter to him. So, they shy away from anything which would violate their moral axis in any way. This also makes intentional characters more sensitive to the alignments of others in that he avoids actions which could harm them (unless he's evil and only cares about himself). Intentional people are good for building consensus as they often judge the impact of each individual action. This also tends to focus them somewhat in the moment for each action. A neutral person would not kill his brother the serial killer as the act of killing only harms the brother and his family with no benefit to anyone (other actions may be taken to protect future victims).

    • Result (Chaotic) - Chooses actions which will achieve the intended result. To use a common catch phrase, "the ends justifies the means." Any action is acceptable so long as the end result fulfills their goals. Often these goals are motivated by the character's moral axis, but regardless a results character always seeks to choose the most effective option. Results characters can seem to take action which violate their moral axis so long as it is the most effective way to fulfill the goals of that same axis. This can lead to friction even among results characters of the same moral alignment if they have different views of which action is the most effective. Results characters are also very forward thinking as they take an overall, long view, of decision making. A chaotic person would kill his brother the serial killer so long as it was the best way to reach his end goal.

    You combine the two axes as a way of picking which actions should be taken by a character. So, honor is a part of defined (lawful) actions and has little to do with morality (who you are doing it for). Evil can be honorable, but only does so to benefit himself. Good can be dishonorable provided they are doing so to provide the greatest benefit to everyone. Neutral only cares about honor so much as it impacts those he cares about.


    Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
    TOZ wrote:
    Ashiel wrote:
    TOZ wrote:
    What absolutes does D&D have?
    Preferably none.
    I'm trying to think of some, and I'm not having any luck, hence the question.
    D&D has no absolutes, only DMs who implement them.

    You absolutely cannot find a magic item shop in this small village.

    Good discussion by the looks. I do run with alignments and having dealt with some rather evil people in my own experience, I have no problem adding them into a world of fantasy. You could say they were misunderstood, that there were compounding factors, or you could just be honest that given the freedoms of anarchy or a collapsed society, they would be rapacious bandits, murderers.

    Some of course, are more evil than others. They all have their justifications and their own view on their actions. I certainly have the neutrals also feature, and as said above, yeah, killing all evil npcs is a good way get hung.

    I have also had two players play really evil characters, and insist they were not evil. One promoting genocide and the killing of a prisoner, even stabbing through a pc to do it. The other with no respect for life, only ambition and killing anyone that got in his way, if he could. Or getting his men to do it. Yes, one character became the sheriff of Nottingham.

    On love, yeah, someone doing something reckless acts or violence for love also wouldn't necessarily read as evil. I may be a hopeless romantic that steals flowers for his lady. :)


    Kuma wrote:
    Hitdice wrote:

    I think Law and Good have more in common than Chaos and Good (ditto Chaos and Evil respectively), but Chaotic Good is a perfectly valid lifestyle, if you see what I mean.

    I see what you intend, but you kind of make my point for me. You are suggesting that honor and Law share a special relationship, then that Law and Good share a special relationship. And, I infer, the reverse of Chaos/Dishonor/Evil.

    Not to quibble with you (*Spoiler Alert*: I'm totally going to quibble with you) but I mean to suggest that a LG and LE characters are equally honorable, and CG and CE are equally un-honorable, if that's even a word.


    Dishonourable. Our perceptions of honour are influenced by not seeing slavery or tyrannical feudalism as honourable or just.


    Yeah, I was looking for some word we may not have in english that doesn't carry the connotation of disgrace that dishonorable does, like the amoral/immoral distinction.

    (Look, I said I was going to quibble.)

    RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

    For the purposes of the game, I go by the book:

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

    I would add to the first sentence for clarification -- "with intent to do so, and/or without regard for others' feelings or well being."

    We can hurt people accidentally... we can kill others accidentally, even. We can hurt or kill because we are given little choice (if we do not hurt or kill in certain situations, someone may hurt or kill others). But an evil person hurts others because it suits them, because they enjoy the others' pain, because they feel they "need to teach someone a lesson."

    Yes, often evil people either have no or suppress their compassion.

    In the real world lines where these things happen can of course get blurry. We simply have to do our best to make our calls as best we can as circumstances arise.


    Mmm, yeah I have had players try to say a character of mine was going evil and their alignment should change. But, bad things happen and sometimes players are a part of that, the question is, did the character enjoy it? If so, they are evil. If they have regret and a distaste for evil acts that happened, they haven't gone fully over.

    Having said that, one of my warmages an Oriana Jeggare did in one Korvosa game, kill a hostage. The fox-woman enemy darted around and lured the fireball and sonic ball into killing the hostage in the area of effect. Oriana was pissed, but was also one to give back to the city, turn evil from the path of evil via diplomacy and not make a habit of killing hostages.

    Course, we caught the fox-woman sub-boss, and er, bound her in a treasure chest we found. Beaten, chained, get in there! Casting her aside to deal with later. Then we forgot about her. Next dungeon.

    We forgot about her for weeks in game. Until I finally remembered and back we hurried. It was not pretty. See she had struggled to get out, hurting herself and clearly dying a very frantic death of descending madness. And then she had rotted for a few weeks.

    So er, yeah, that was a bit evil.


    After perusing this thread and getting so, so much out of it, I just wanted to thank Ragnarok Aeon for posting it at all, despite the myriad voices bemoaning its status as an ancient topic. It wasn't ancient to me and thus probably not to a lot of other people who came searching for it.

    In my recent game the PCs ran into a racist fighter who was in the process of slaughtering all the non-humans in his small village. There was a bit of a fuss at the table because the PC paladin's player shrieked, "How did I not detect evil?"

    My reply was that the guy wasn't evil... yet. He was a neutral good character who had a Killing Joke-esque Very Bad Day when he discovered his elven wife in bed with the village's halfling mayor. Neither transgressor was repentant, fighter was cuckolded, and a massacre ensued.

    It was really cool to ask hard questions of the players, but as many have pointed out, with spells like Detect Evil and Atonement and gods actively playing a role in the world, there are a lot of ontological questions that the campaign world asks and attempts to crudely answer.

    Anyway, thanks so much, even to the people who posted things I really don't agree with. Lots of rich thought.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
    3.5 Loyalist wrote:
    Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
    TOZ wrote:
    Ashiel wrote:
    TOZ wrote:
    What absolutes does D&D have?
    Preferably none.
    I'm trying to think of some, and I'm not having any luck, hence the question.
    D&D has no absolutes, only DMs who implement them.
    You absolutely cannot find a magic item shop in this small village.

    I open my own.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    When considering this question, I feel like a quote of Yahtzee oh all people might be helpful. If you have a choice to do something, one way being difficult but less damaging while the other being quick and easy, usually the quick and easy one ends up being evil. Lemme be more specific. Say, for instance, you have the whole torture scenario. You could either send a load of time and resources to gather information, or torture a mook. The former takes time and may put others are risk, and the latter is easier and quicker...but much more morally ambiguous. What I see is evil is something vile, something one wouldn't normally do (kind of like a drug), but it has a certain appeal (because its easier, more fun, whatever), and that decision, over time, becomes easier and easier to make until its the only one you ever make at all. That's my view of TURNING evil. As to what is evil itself?

    1.) Killing. I'd say evil, yes, and I like Aang's view on the matter. Killing a sentient mortal being is wrong and it should always be a last resort? Why? See above. It's possible to somehow find a way to rehabilitate and individual and teach them the error of their ways, or at least lock them away so they can do no harm, but its easier to find a more permanent solution, even though the solution is grizzly. I feel like if you have an alternative and you don't take it, then you're being evil. If its impossible (as in they CAN'T be killed or redeemed, i.e. evil outsiders, mindless undead, etc.) then your only option is your only option. Otherwise...well, you're giving into a lazy temptation...

    2.) Torture? See above. Most often, there are more difficult ways of doing what needs to be done. Torture is a quicker and dirtier way.

    3.) Lying. No. The inherent act of lying is not evil. The intention behind it is. If you want the lie to deliberately hurt someone, yeah, it's evil. If you want to lie to protect them from some awful truth, then okay. Here's the tricky part...simple lies that have no reason to exist are tiny bits of evil, because again, see above. Every needless lie makes the next one easier, until finally you resort to it even when its blatantly unnecessary and therefore cause bigger and bigger problems.

    4.) Stealing is evil if it fits the above cirteria. If you steal to gain money that you had the ability to gain otherwise, you're evil. If the only way you can survive is to steal, its neutral. A member of a thieves' guild (a typical one, at least, not a Merry Men band) is evil, but the desperate street urchin isn't.

    5.) Slavery seems needless. Just hire them. This fits the above criteria to a letter. There is no possible reason why you can't simply hire the person as a servant rather than a slave, since you're already paying ridiculous amounts of money to buy the guy anyway. It is a needless action, but done anyway out of sloth and malice. Thus, evil.

    6.) Controlling someone against their will feels wrong to me, mainly because it again seems like the above. Its EASIER to simply force someone to do what you want rather than coaxing them and convincing them, and therefore a slippery slope occurs.

    7.) Evils of irredeemable evil, such as fiends, always choose the "easy way" because its just how they're made, as physical manifestations of sin. To redeem them requires a magical ritual so complex (and it can only undergone willingly), or extenuating circumstances so bizarre and outlandish that it would be unreasonable to judge someone of destroying them rather than trying to let them live, for instance, especially since fiends have no choice in the matter. They are evil not because they choose to be and are thus responsible for their actions, they are evil because they ARE. Mortals do not share this flaw, and ergo must be judged accordingly. Fiends are the exception to the above rule because while there technically IS an alternative, it is beyond the power of 99% of mortals, the remaining 1% being so holy or patient that angels envy them...since it requires the fundamental rewriting of a creature's entire existence.

    BTW, yes, this does mean that I consider any mortal race capable of free will "redeemable." Drow are not spawns of Hell. They have the ability to choose to be otherwise. The fact that they don't does't mean they can't do so if they chose, and ergo killing one just because "well all drow are evil" would be the lazy route, and therefore the more evil route. Emphasis on MORE, since it isn't necessarily evil unless you do this all the time. A demon can't choose otherwise. See the difference?

    Now, don't confuse my point. LAZINESS, by itself, is not evil. But choosing to take the easy way out simply because its there and because you are unwilling to make the commitment required to the other I feel can start to become evil as you become more and more desensitized to the "lazy" option. And this only applies to actions that cause suffering and are usually malicious or hurtful. Being too lazy to bathe when you live alone is not evil (just because its harder to take a shower) for instance, because so long as you don't mind the smell and your neighbors have thick walls, you're not hurting anyone. Killing an insect because you're too afraid to touch it or catch it and dispose of it elsewhere, however, is, because you are causing a living thing harm when you have other options. You just aren't willing to take the necessary steps to take them.

    That's my view of evil for the day. But being an inconsistent s.o.b. and someone who tends to consider morality a sort of toy to be picked up and examined and played with sometimes but never actually taken to possess significance beyond its existence, I'll probably change my mind. *shrugs*


    Most of what I would say is already up here. A good rule of thumb I use is to try and see if the act is really evil, or just painfully effective.

    Example: You escaped from a prison by killing an elderly guard that has no important bearing on the plot. You lured the man over by telling him stories of your family which you wish to see one last time before you die, and then blugeon him to death with lead pipe. No that may sound bad, but you were going to be put to death for a crime someone else had commited. This person is going to unleash his plan to destroy the city within the hour, you had no choice but to break out and regain your gear and allies as quickly as possible.

    Now you might say "You blugeoned an old man to death with a lead pipe that is evil!". No it wasn't evil given the circumstances for such a escape. It was sadly an effective method to obtain your goal (drawing him in to kill him and take the keys).


    cranewings wrote:
    Alitan wrote:

    On Torture:

    Calling it 'necessary evil' doesn't make it less evil.

    And even 1st level PCs have access to things that make it unnecessary (i.e., Charm Person).

    Engaging in torture, regardless of why, is engaging in an evil act. Attempting to whitewash the evil with 'just in this case,' 'we must have this information,' or other such excuses are an epic failbucket.

    Can PCs engage in torture without losing their non-evil alignment? Sure, maybe, once. Making a habit of torture is a sure way to slide off the evil end of the good-evil axis. No matter how lily-white your intentions may be, the fact remains that you're using evil methodology, which even the hypothetical 1st level party can avoid.

    I completely agree.

    I don't.

    But the problem might be that there is no clear definition of the borders between a questioning (definitely not evil); An interrogation (sometimes evil); and torture (most likely evil).
    Three examples:

    1)The questioner yells at the other and the one being questioned is very afraid and perhaps even wets himself and thus feels like he is being tortured, even if no harm is dome does that make the questioner evil?

    2)Some other questioner slaps the one he is asking questions but being a really tough guy the other one just laughs about it. Is this questioner evil?

    3)Someone is held captive, gets little food and drink, has no access to a toilet or option to wash himself, in other words he's in the typical medival prison. Every day someone comes to him and asks him questions. Evil?

    I totally accept that using the rack and glowing metal or in other ways harming someone over prolonged time so that the victim will most likely die after having answered the questions is evil. But not every torture is like that.


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    Undead are not all bad!


    Define Evil: Intentionally causing significant harm to those who do not deserve it.

    Of the following, what is evil, why is it evil or not evil, and if it is evil how does it fit into the previous statement of evil?

    Killing in General: Not evil, as there are many people whose death makes the world a better place, not to mention killing in self-defense or the defense of others.

    Killing an innocent being (Define innocent being please): Evil, because you're causing harm (enough to kill) to someone who does not deserve it. "Innocent" would be "someone who has not done anything to deserve death nor attacked you/someone you're defending"

    Torture: Sometimes evil. If someone has done something horrible (caused significant harm to those who do not deserve it), torturing them as part of their punishment is not evil, however. Regardless, many find it distasteful.

    Selfishness: Neutral. Evil, in my definition, requires the intentional harm of others undeserving of said harm. Being selfish does not, in and of itself, harm them, it simply isn't helping them either (helping would be good).

    Stealing / Looting: Depends on who you're stealing/looting from and the surrounding circumstances. In general, again, if the victim deserves it (corrupt merchant vastly overcharging for a necessary good, for example), not evil, but if you're randomly mugging people on the street, then evil. Looting, in the sense of "taking items from people I killed in the line of adventuring and/or the dungeons I'm adventuring in" would not be evil unless, for some reason, you killed someone who didn't deserve it and then took their stuff.

    Poison: Not evil at all. Poison is nothing but a tool, a means to an end - it is incapable of having morality assigned to it. It'd be like saying water is evil because you can drown in it.

    Dishonesty: Somewhat chaotic, not evil, but can be used for evil purposes.

    Controlling Someone Else (ie. authority or geas): Depends on what you make them do. Could be evil, could be neutral, or could be good, based on why you're controlling them, how you're controlling them, and what you make them do.

    Slavery: Depends on the conditions. Generally evil, but enslaving criminals convicted of serious, but not quite capital, offenses (mostly "white-collar crimes", because most serious violent crimes are, in my opinion, capital offences) and using the proceeds as restitution for their victims is not evil.

    Threats / Intimidation: Depends on the purpose. A threat to keep someone from causing harm, for example, is fine, but threatening to extort them is evil.

    Worshiping an evil deity: Not evil. You aren't your deity.

    Undead: Not evil. Can be evil, judged on the same merits as the living, but can also be good, likewise. Mindless undead are neutral - they are incapable of morality, same as an animal.

    Demons / Devils: Usually evil, but evilness depends on their actions and the motivation behind them, just as with anything else, so they can be non-evil if they wish to.

    Summoning / Creating "evil" entities to work for you: Not evil. As with anything else, what they're used for and the reason behind that action makes them evil, neutral, or good.


    Umbranus wrote:
    cranewings wrote:
    Alitan wrote:

    On Torture:

    Calling it 'necessary evil' doesn't make it less evil.

    And even 1st level PCs have access to things that make it unnecessary (i.e., Charm Person).

    Engaging in torture, regardless of why, is engaging in an evil act. Attempting to whitewash the evil with 'just in this case,' 'we must have this information,' or other such excuses are an epic failbucket.

    Can PCs engage in torture without losing their non-evil alignment? Sure, maybe, once. Making a habit of torture is a sure way to slide off the evil end of the good-evil axis. No matter how lily-white your intentions may be, the fact remains that you're using evil methodology, which even the hypothetical 1st level party can avoid.

    I completely agree.

    I don't.

    But the problem might be that there is no clear definition of the borders between a questioning (definitely not evil); An interrogation (sometimes evil); and torture (most likely evil).
    Three examples:

    1)The questioner yells at the other and the one being questioned is very afraid and perhaps even wets himself and thus feels like he is being tortured, even if no harm is dome does that make the questioner evil?

    2)Some other questioner slaps the one he is asking questions but being a really tough guy the other one just laughs about it. Is this questioner evil?

    3)Someone is held captive, gets little food and drink, has no access to a toilet or option to wash himself, in other words he's in the typical medival prison. Every day someone comes to him and asks him questions. Evil?

    I totally accept that using the rack and glowing metal or in other ways harming someone over prolonged time so that the victim will most likely die after having answered the questions is evil. But not every torture is like that.

    Torture is evil. Attempting to gain information by causing physical strain is evil. Revenge is evil.

    Interrogating someone and yelling isn't necessarily evil. It mostly has to do with the emotional content, and has to be looked at on a case by case basis.

    All in my opinion.

    Grand Lodge

    Ragnarok Aeon wrote:


  • Define Evil

    Of the following, what is evil, why is it evil or not evil, and if it is evil how does it fit into the previous statement of evil?

    If at the very least, I hope this can bring us to see how others can have such varying definitions of "evil".

  • Killing in General
    I'm going to limit this to sapient life. I will say always evil, in these cases, but sometimes a necessary evil. Hence why it should only ever be implemented as a very last resort when all other options have been exhausted.

  • Killing an innocent being (Define innocent being please)
    Innocent is a relative term, but I think the most accepted definition would be a person who has not intentionally, or through gross negligence, caused palpable mental, emotional, or physical harm to others.
    Evil, evil, evil. This is the clearest cut case of evil there is. Every religion in history, and just about every ethical philosophy there is, has espoused some version of 'do unto others'. It's the foundation of just about everything we call 'morality' for every communal animal species there is.

  • Torture
    Evil. See the above. Worse, it's not only evil, but has been proven to be entirely ineffective, meaning that torture has always been practiced essentially for the catharsis of the torturer. (Whether that be the person actually performing the act or the society that encourages it to satiate their own blood lust.)

  • Selfishness
    Not evil, per se, but the sine qua non of evil. It is possible to be a selfish person without being malicious, which would make you definitely not good, but would not necessarily make you evil, either.

  • Stealing / Looting
    Depends on what's being stolen/looted and why. Stealing from a starving widow? Evil. Stealing something small from a very wealthy person who is not going to miss it? Gray area. Unethical, yes, but probably not immoral. Stealing from a rich person who became wealthy by employing slave labor? Neutral if you keep it, Good if you use it to free said slaves.

  • Poison
    This is where I diverge from Paizo. Poison-use isn't evil. If you are being threatened by an enemy who outpaces you physically, and that person is evil, poison is an acceptable (and necessary!) means of leveling the playing field. Now using it on an unsuspecting spouse so you can collect the insurance money is, but then so would be smothering them with a pillow.

  • Dishonesty
    Again depends on to whom and the intent. At the risk of invoking Godwin's Law, when those families who hid Jews in their homes lied to the Nazis, they were performing a good act. On the other hand, if you lie to a good person in order to fulfill a selfish end, then it's evil. There are so many variables this is more of a Law/Chaos thing really.

  • Controlling Someone Else (ie. authority or geas)
    Always evil. Removing somebody's agency is tantamount to slavery, another act which is always evil. Physical slavery controls the body, this controls the mind. Only difference.

  • Slavery
    See above.

  • Threats / Intimidation
    Again situational. This is probably just because I was in the military so intimidation was a pretty common part of my day. Because that intimidation was meant to one day prepare you for something greater and possibly save your life, it was a good act. Threats are a bit harder to justify; I would say never good, but can at least be neutral.

  • Worshiping an evil deity
    In the real world? I'd align it as Stupid-Pointless. In a world where deities have an active roles in affairs of the material realm? Evil. Even if you never perform an evil act, you're strengthening and endorsing the evil others do in its name.

  • Undead
    I'm of the opinion that it's not really evil. The things that have to be done to make them are often evil, but that's it. Whether you're religious or not, almost no tradition says the soul stays within the body when it dies, so I say the body is just a vessel at that point. Just an inanimate object like a chair. But I also realize I'm in the minority on this.

  • Demons / Devils
    If you mean like worship, see the evil deity entry. If you mean like summoning, see below.

  • Summoning / Creating "evil" entities to work for you
    Creating evil entities would probably be unabashedly evil. Summoning them? Depends on the purpose. I believe you could do it with good intentions, even if it is a REALLY stupid idea. I know it's trite of me to reference Salvatore, but his NG Cleric Cadderly summoned devils and demons on occasion to help fight bigger evil threats. I think in particular if you're going to make them work it would almost be less evil to summon an evil creature because if you're putting them to work for you doing things that's less evil they'll be out in the world doing.

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